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Oct/10/2020 wrap-up: \\ War in Karabakh (Artsakh) \\ Aliyev's desperate attempt in Hadrut \\ shaky ceasefire is established after more battles \\ army briefing \\ Azeri jihadists upload video \\ donations continue \\ international community condemns Turkey \\ calls to recognize Artsakh Republic

2020.10.10 21:47 ar_david_hh Oct/10/2020 wrap-up: \\ War in Karabakh (Artsakh) \\ Aliyev's desperate attempt in Hadrut \\ shaky ceasefire is established after more battles \\ army briefing \\ Azeri jihadists upload video \\ donations continue \\ international community condemns Turkey \\ calls to recognize Artsakh Republic

Previous days: October 9 , October 8 , October 7, October 6, October 5, October 4, October 3, October 2, October 1, September 30, September 29, September 28, September 27

Syrian militants upload a video from Azerbaijan

Russian military ANNA reporters, who are specialized in covering militant-related news, and others, have analyzed a video shared by Syrian jihadists.
They're seen using Azeri military vehicles, Azeri uniforms, they have Idlib "accent" (Turkey recruits jihadists from Idlib area), the weather looks the same as in the first week in Artsakh, and a few other elements that point out to them being militants from that area (besides speaking in Arabic).

ethnic Lezgin activist criticizes Azerbaijani government's policies

(For context about the issues that ethnic minorities face in Azerbaijan, visit the previous threads. Links above.)
Lezgin activist Vagif Kerimov criticized the Azeri government's policy of oppressing ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan (e.g. forced assimilation measures, repopulation) and disproportionately high draft numbers in minority regions.
"The Republic of Azerbaijan had begun removing the information indicating the ethnicity of the people and started attaching "oglu" at the end of the name, but despite this, we were able to look up the names and birthplaces of soldiers who died in the first Karabakh war. We found that the death rate among Lezgins was disproportionally higher. From the 12,000 dead soldiers, the 4,000 were 'mountainous minorities'. 2% of the population gave 30% of deaths."
"Today people can't escape, either. There is a pandemic, the borders are closed, and dodging a draft is a felony. Who needs this war? It's not even their land."
The full interview with Vagif Kerimov:

a few more things from yesterday

Los Angeles policeman waves the Armenian flag in support of the demonstrators.
During the EAEU bloc summit in Yerevan, the Russian PM Mishustin announced that the Russian COVID vaccine is ready and they'll "share it with the allies first".
Armenian world champion boxer Armen Bachkov defeated his Venezuelan opponent and waved the Armenian flag while wearing a t-shirt with a message in support of Armenian soldiers.

October 10th arrives / military events and international response

1:18: remnants of another bomb fell in northern Iran, near the borders with Artsakh.
1:24: thousands of Armenians took to the streets of Paris to protest the aggression against Artsakh.
1:32: U.S. House Representative David Sicilian has called for the official recognition of the Artsakh Republic.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed participated in an Armenian demonstration in Rhode Island.
It's 1:45 am and the MFAs of Armenia and Azerbaijan are still negotiating in Russia, for 9 hours straight, over a humanitarian gesture to pause the battles to collect the bodies from battlefields.
2:16: MFA of Canada called the MFA of Turkey and asked them not to intervene in the Karabakh conflict. The Turkish MFA allegedly agreed that the conflict has no military solution and that the Minks Group should be the mediator.
3:50: Russian MFA Lavrov says the two sides have agreed for a ceasefire starting 12 o'clock to exchange POWs and recover the dead bodies with the help of the Red Cross.
Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the help of the Minsk Group, will launch peace talks to resolve the conflict. Both sides have agreed that the negotiating format (Minsk Group) won't change. ,
5:34 Armenian MFA Mnatsakanyan: It is necessary to stop the fire, then talk about the peace process.
For us, the priority was to reach a situation where we could put an end to this aggression. The aggression, in this case, was special because Azerbaijan's actions were accompanied by a fairly open, strong support from Turkey and the involvement of international terrorist groups. In fact, our compatriots were fighting in Nagorno Karabakh in rather special conditions, when, apart from Azerbaijan, there was such a strong attack with the involvement of such forces.
This conflict has become a very serious challenge for the whole region, and first of all for Nagorno Karabakh, because of course, it would be impossible to talk about progress without ending the military actions.
What we have been able to agree during the long negotiations is that we need to stop the fire and then to talk about the peace process, and to reaffirm that the Minsk Group remains the internationally recognized platform for the peace process.
8:51: it's early morning in Artsakh. The sunrise looks like an atomic mushroom cloud.
10:10 two hours left until the ceasefire. Azeris are using more drone attacks in the south. "The army repelled the attacks, causing damage to Azeri equipment and personnel."
10:30: one of the Azeri drones was used near Artsvanik village in the Republic of Armenia's southern province of Syunik. One person died. The MFA condemned the attack on RA territory. ,
11:06: the army has identified 26 more soldiers who died in the battlefield, bringing the total to 402.
Non-official sources have identified another 40 dead Azeri soldiers. Aliyev continues to keep their numbers secret.
11:26 army: Azeris are using the last minutes to attack as much as possible but the defense army successfully repelled them. Aliyev spread a laughable fake news about shelling Hadrut from Khojalu.
11:35 army spokesman: Փաստորեն ադրբեջանական բանակը ունի նաև աշխարհի «ամենահզոր» հակահրթիռային համակարգը։ Մանկապարտեզի մուլտերը ադրբեջանի հասարակության համար շարունակվում են
11:52: army shared a video from the southern front lines with soldiers telling how they infiltrated and captured an Azeri position.
12:05 army: Azeris ignored the 12 o'clock ceasefire agreement and attacked near Karakhanbeyli. We are taking appropriate measures to stop them.
12:14: the Artsakh army has been instructed to cease fire.
12:52: the Russian journalist who was seriously wounded after the Azeri bombing of Shushi church says the Azeri drone hovered above for 20 minutes, and as soon as they entered the church, it was bombed. "We were 100% intentionally targeted."
13:06 army: the Azeri reports that we violated the ceasefire and shot towards Tartar and Aghdam are false.
13:30: Azeris had 440 tanks before the war. 100 of them were older T-55 models that were not used on the battlefield.
Their fleet mainly consists of second-hand T-72 tanks ($0.5m) that they renovated in Israel ($0.5m + top dollars for renovation). The most expensive ones are newer T-90 models; they purchased 100 from Russia for $4m each.
These 3 Artsakhtsi boys (link below) alone destroyed >$17m worth Azeri tanks, assuming they were T-72 models; the damage can be higher. There is also footage of T-90 tanks being destroyed.
Azeris lost 508 tanks and armored vehicles, "mostly tanks".
14:05: U.S. Representative Bred Sherman called for sanctions against Azeri politicians under Global Magnitski Act for targeting Artsakh civilians.
14:14: president Sarkissian gave an interview to Arabic Alghad TV to raise awareness of the issue and dismiss Azeri claims.
14:29: Iran has welcomed the ceasefire in its northern borders.
14:31: three more soldiers received a medal for courageous actions.
14:58 army: Azeri diversion-intelligence unit tried to penetrate southern Hadrut city a few hours before the ceasefire. Our army continues the operation to encircle and destroy them. They attacked Hadrut in an attempt to satisfy Aliyev's yesterday's false claim that they captured the city.
WarGonzo reporter in Hadrut: around 200 soldiers, dressed in all black, presumably Turkish special forces, tried to infiltrate Hadrut to plant a flag for Aliyev's propaganda purposes, according to locals. Hadrut mayor is in the city. There are currently battles to encircle and neutralize the intruders.
The intruders were in two groups. They were hiding behind the hills next to Hadrut. That's where the battles are at right now. The city is under Armenian control.
Artsakh President: I have just returned from Hadrut. As you know, the enemy, ignoring the humanitarian ceasefire agreement, launched a subversive attack. The situation at the moment is completely under our control.
WarGonzo reporter was able to get the details. When the 200 [presumably Turkish] special forces infiltrated Hadrut, they tried to plant the Azeri flag above the city's administrative building, but the city mayor and 22 other armed residents were there and held them back for half an hour until the Artsakh special forces arrived.
The Turks ran to the hills behind the city. The snipers and other Artsakh forces are looking for them.
It was later revealed that the Turkish-Azeri forced killed a woman and her disabled son in Hadrut during the infiltration. The human rights ombudsman will prepare a report tomorrow.
15:25: sappers began removing unexploded mines from the capital Stepanakert.
15:31: Ilham Aliyev says the first military phase is over and he's ready to switch to politics.
15:51: European Parliament MP Nickolas Bay criticized his colleagues for not doing enough to counter Turkish aggression and the recruitment of militants. "Europe can be Turkey's next target."
16:38: Artsakh has accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire agreement.
16:42: Army released a new WiWillWin video
17:02: a Turkish MP from the HDP party has sent a letter to the government to demand clarification on how they recruited the Syrian militants for Azerbaijan, what their salaries are, the details of the F-16 and Turkish drone deployment in Azerbaijan.
17:36: Azeri MFA accused France of not being impartial, "while Russia remains neutral."
17:40: During a phone call with Russia, the Iranian president Rouhani has reiterated that third party [Turkey's] involvement doesn't benefit to peace and the presence of terrorists is a threat to all countries in the region.
17:44: pro-govt Turkish newspapers are upset that Turkey won't be part of the peace negotiations again, "despite Aliyev's firm demands."
18:43: Joe Biden criticized Russia for selling weapons to Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urged the placement of more border monitoring mechanisms.
19:10: the MoD is holding talks with the Red Cross about the swap of deceased bodies.
19:13: Dashnaks organized protests in several European cities (London, Berlin, Strassburg) against the Azeri-Turkish aggression.
19:31: the Bulgarian party "National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria" expressed solidarity for Armenia and Artsakh and condemned the "war crimes against civilians."
19:41: Pashinyan gave an interview to the German ZDF outlet. "A compromise is possible if both sides are willing to make it. Azerbaijan refuses. The international recognition of the Artsakh Republic is the best way to resolve the conflict and help the civilians who are facing a threat of genocide." ,
19:50: the Russian-Azeri propagandist Saadat Kadirova was fired from the Russian TASS news agency yesterday for justifying the bombing of a church in Shushi, which injured civilians and journalists. "Echo Moskvi" Russian outlet has also suspended her media page.
19:51: 180 unexploded cluster bombs have been discovered in Stepanakert so far. Azerbaijan used these banned weapon against civilians for over a week.
21:07 army briefing: between yesterday and today's ceasefire declaration, Azeris lost 200 soldiers, 3 drones, 4 vehicles, and other equipment.
They increased the attacks just before 12 o'clock but we repelled them.
Just before the ceasefire, several small groups of Azeri forces tried to infiltrate Hadrut city. Small battles ensued to neutralize them while the ceasefire was already in place; it was obviously calculated by Azeris to last beyond the ceasefire deadline. The infiltrators are being neutralized. Their destruction is almost complete.
In one location we allowed Azeris to approach and collect their bodies from the buffer zone, but afterward, that process was paused because Azeris used these incidents for provocative actions. From now on, we will only let them collect the bodies if the Red Cross is present.
We don't know how long the ceasefire will last. There will be an announcement about it.
The borders are relatively calm right now. Minor localized shootouts.
Azeris collecting their bodies: ,
21:29 Artsakh president: during today's fight against the Hadrut infiltrators I was once again convinced that the fighting spirit of our boys is strong. Their peaceful and sober eyes express the confident mood of victory in the fight against the enemy bandits.
By the way, in Hadrut I accidentally met Arushan Badasyan, one of our legendary commanders of the First Artsakh War, who hurried to Artsakh from the United States as soon as he received the news of the war. We stand for our land, and that process is unstoppable.
22:10: Russian MFA spoke with the MFAs of AM and AZ. The two reaffirmed their commitment to the ceasefire.
21:46: Montenegro's national soccer team goalkeeper Andrija Dragojevic dedicated the team's 2:0 victory against Azerbaijan to Armenia. Hashtag ForArmenia.
21:53: German Parliament MP Sevim Dağdelen, a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, demands the German govt to "condemn NATO-member Turkey for playing with fire". She called for the suspension of military aid to Erdogan, "who uses Islamist militants, drones, to help Azerbaijan to attack and sabotage the peaceful resolution of the conflict."
22:01: volunteers collected aid for Artsakh. Lavash, sleeping bags, cigarettes, clothing, canned food etc. This group sends sometimes 4 trucks a day.
22:02: mass demonstrations were held by Armenians in New York with the use of car caravans and Armenian flags. They referred to Turkey as a terrorist state and called for Artsakh's international recognition.
Protesters gathered in front of NBC headquarters to demand fair coverage.
23:26: capital Stepanakert was bombed despite the ceasefire agreement.


Hayk and Eliza Titizyan have donated $50,000 to Artsakh through the church.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan's soccer club "Roma" has donated 117 boxes of clothing and jersey for Artsakh residents.
Armenian Electric Grid donated 200mln Drams to All-Armenia Fund.
Kim Kardashian has asked her Instagram followers to donate to Artsakh.
Donations from around the world:
Tax-deductible donations from USA:
You've read 2332 words.
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2020.08.14 04:47 LearningIsListening A not-so-brief rundown of letters ‘T-V’ in Jeffrey Epstein's 'Little Black Book'

Below is a rundown of letters ‘T-V’ under Epstein's contacts. Last year, I wrote about letters A-C. You can check that out here (
I also wrote about letters D-F on July 5, 2020. You can check that out here (
I posted letters G-I on July 13, 2020. You can check that out here (
I posted letters J-L on July 15, 2020. You can check that out here (
I posted letter M on July 20, 2020. You can check that out here (
I posted letters N-Q on July 27, 2020. You can check that out here ( There are some misspelled names. Epstein entered their names like this.
I posted letter R on July 29, 2020. You can check that out here (
I posted letter S on August 7, 2020. You can check that out here (
I have bolded some of the more interesting connections and information, but there could be much more that I overlooked. I hope something here strikes an interest in someone and maybe we can get more investigations out of this. Please, if you know anything more about any of these people than what is presented here, post below. I am working off of the unredacted black book found here:
Taaffee, Paul: Former Chairman and CEO of public relations firm Hill and Knowlton.
Tabet, Karim & Cristina: Karim is a founding partner of TAP advisory group. A former Vice Chairman at UBS Investment Bank and Joint Global Head at UBS Telecommunications. The subtitle under the Tabets reads ‘65th Street Neighbors.’ Ghislaine Maxwell lived in a townhouse at 116 East 65th Street.
Taki: Likely British journalist and Polanski apologist Taki Theodoracopulos. Taki wrote this interesting piece ( in 2009 in which he throws Epstein under the bus while defending Polanski. Decades ago, Taki threw a party at The Savoy to celebrate the end of communism. Attendees included Ghislaine Maxwell and Imran Khan (
Talbot Williams, Simon: Businessman involved in real estate. Owns Talbot & Scott ltd, an investment and development agency.
Tang, Mr David & Lucy Wastnag: David was a Hong Kong businessman who founded the Shanghai Tang fashion chain and several restaurants that attract the elite. Tang was a philanthropist who was involved in several charities, including Youth Outreach (YO), a charitable organization started in Hong Kong by Reverend Peter Newberry. This charity’s goal was to help at-risk youths ( Tang was considered one of the most well-connected people in London. He and his wife, Lucy, counted Prince Andrew, Naomi Campbell, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York (Prince Andrew’s ex-wife), Kevin Spacey, the Duke of Marlborough, and Mick Jagger among their friends ( Tang vehemently defended Prince Andrew in 2011 when his relationship with Epstein was made public ( Two years later, Ghislaine celebrated her 51st birthday at China Tang, David’s restaurant at the Dorchester Hotel. Despite the backlash Prince Andrew received for counting Epstein among his friends, he attended Ghislaine’s birthday, along with former Labour minister Shaun Woodward and wife Camilla, the Earl and Countess of Derby, Dorrit Moussaieff, the diamond heiress/wife of the president of Iceland, Tamara Beckwith, and John Eliasch, multi-millionaire boss of sports firm Head. Every single one of those people appear in Epstein’s contacts. Epstein had 16 phone numbers, two email addresses, and three street addresses listed under David and Lucy’s name. Tang died in 2017.
Tate, Rupert: Two options. Either the former hedge fund manager at Merrill Lynch or the CEO of Bear Grylls Ventures.
Taubman, Alfred: Billionaire real estate developer and former owner of Sotheby’s, where Les Wexner was once a board member. Many parties and book premieres attended by the elites have been hosted by Sotheby’s over the years. Taubman spent nearly one year in jail for price fixing in collusion with Christie’s auction house ( Taubman died in 2015.
Taubman, Bobby: Alfred’s son who took over the family business.
Tavoulareas, Mr Billy & Nicket: William Tavoulareas Jr. is an heir to his father, William Tavoulareas, a Greek petroleum businessman and former President and Chief Executive of Mobil Oil during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Sr. was a close friend of George H.W. Bush and Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and was also a member of the Knights of Malta. William Jr. has not been so lucky. He has psychological problems and despite the fact that he has millions in a trust fund, he lives out of his car and has been involved in several dustups with the law in Palm Beach ( Annick Finlan is Jr.’s ex-wife.
Tavoulareas, Peter: Billy’s Tavoulareas brother and son of William Tavoulareas Sr. Heir to father’s petroleum fortune.
Tayler, Emmy: Former personal assistant of Ghislaine Maxwell. Reportedly taught girls how to massage Epstein. Her name appears twice on Epstein’s Lolita Express flight logs ( Recently fled the UK, but is presumably wanted for questioning (
Taylor, Felicia: Retired anchor for CNN’s World Business Today. Stepsister of Victoria (nee Schott) de Rothschild, Sir Evelyn Rothschild’s second wife. Felicia knew Epstein socially and once had tea at his mansion ( Pictured here ( with Ghislaine Maxwell at a Tommy Hilfiger hosted event in 2009. She is also the daughter of classic Hollywood actor Rod Taylor.
Taylor, Pamela: Make-up artist with a bunch of A-list clients.
Taylor, Sebastian: Not enough info. Likely refers to the personal friend of Nathaniel Rothschild (, but I can’t be sure. There are two other decent possibilities.
Taymor, Julie & Eliot: Julie is one of the most well-known theatre directors in the world. Responsible for the Broadway hit, Lion King. Elliot is Julie’s long-time partner. He is a film and theatre composer.
Tennenbaum, Harry: No info found.
Teodorani-Fabbri, Eduardo: A boss at Fiat motor company. Comes from the tremendously wealthy Agnelli family, who are the largest shareholders of The Economist (the Rothschilds also own a large portion). Eduardo used to date Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (listed earlier in Epstein’s contacts), the now deceased goddaughter of Prince Charles. Their first date was at an ARK charity dinner ( ARK is a children’s charity that has spawned many schools for grades K-12. It was started by Arpad Busson (also listed in Jeffrey Epstein’s book), the former fiancee of Uma Thurman. Busson is likely steeped in child trafficking. I wrote a thread about him and ARK charity last year (
Theilmann, Baroness Francesca: Publisher and art collector.
Theodoli, Catherine: Katrin is the CEO of Magnum Marine Corporation, a performance and luxury yacht manufacturer.
Tholstrup, Mogens: Former owner of Daphne’s, Pasha, and The Collection, three of London’s trendiest restaurants. Sold the restaurants for pounds 5.5m in 1998. Dated a series of high society girls, including Lady Victoria Hervey (former girlfriend and staunch defender of Prince Andrew) and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.
Tholstrup, Paola: A former model and the ex-wife of restaurateur Mogens Tholstrup (above). Pictured here ( at a Chinese New Year celebration with Ghislaine Maxwell and Harry Nutall in 2007.
Thompson, Barnaby: British film director, producer, and movie executive. Thompson ran Ealing Studios for 14 years. Barnaby has been photographed with a who’s who of Hollywood stars, royalty, and many people listed in Epstein’s contacts. He has attended parties hosted by Harvey Weinstein and Charles Finch, an interesting figure mentioned earlier (check my D-F thread) in Epstein’s black book (
Tisch, David: Businessman who comes from a ridiculously rich family. His grandfather, Laurence Tisch, was the co-owner of Loews Corporation. His cousin, Steve, co-owns the New York Giants and has produced many big budget Hollywood movies. David made some good money in Silicon Valley startup companies.
Tisch, Merryl & Jimmy: Merryl is the former Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents and wife of James (Jimmy) Tisch. A huge proponent of high-stakes testing for adolescents. Her husband, James, is the heir to Loews Corporation. He currently serves as CEO.
Tish, Anne & Andrew: Andrew is co-chair of Loews Corporation with his brother, James (mentioned above). Ann Rubenstein-Tisch is Andrew’s current wife. She is a former reporter for NBC. In 1996, Ann and Andrew partnered with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) to open The Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS) of East Harlem, the first all-girls public school to open in the United States in 30 years ( If you click on that link, you’ll immediately notice pictures of students with Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton. The TYWLS has expanded and now comprises five schools (2800 students) and 16 sister schools (7000 students).
Titopupolo, Sonia: No info found.
Todhunter, Emily Olypitus: High-end British interior designer.
Toledo Ignacio, Alvarez de: Likely a real estate developer. Not 100% certain.
Tollman, Bea: Beatrice is a travel and hospitality businesswoman. Founder and President of the ritzy Red Carnation Hotel chain. Also has a large part in family-owned The Travel Corporation, which helps people organize/plan their trips.
Tollman, Brett: Son of Beatrice Tollman (above). Travel and hotel executive also involved in the family business. CEO of The Travel Corporation and founder of The Treadright Foundation, a non-profit charity.
Tollman, Mr & Mrs: This likely refers to Beatrice (above) and her husband, Stanley. Since I wrote about Beatrice earlier, I’ll focus on Stanley here, who is much more interesting. Stanley is a super shady businessman who is best known for being friends with Ken Bates (Chairman of Chelsea FC) and serving on the Board of the Chelsea FC soccer club, where he and Bates were partners with Marwan Ashraf, a senior Mossad agent. Tollman fled the US for the UK in the early 200s when he was convicted on 33 counts of embezzlement, fraud, and tax evasion (
Tollman, Syrie & Gavin: Gavin is CEO of Trafalgar tours and Chairman of The Travel Corporation. Nephew of Stanley Tollman (above) and cousin of Brett Tollman (above). Gavin is married to his first cousin, Toni. There is a fascinating blog post ( about the Tollmans and Hundleys, who defrauded the government out of millions. Be sure to read the comments. Pretty much everyone who responded used to work for the company and knows the Tollmans to some extent and the inner workings behind their thievery.
Tollman, Wyne: Wynn is Beatrice and Stanley’s son, but is not involved with the company. I could not find any other information on him.
Toub, Veronica (Busson): Fashion designer and socialite who was engaged to possible child trafficker and pedophile Arpad Busson ( in the 1980s.
Treacy, Phillip: Award-winning hat designer who has worked with the British Royalty (designed a hat for Princess Beatrice, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge), Oprah, Naomi Campbell, Daphne Guinness, Lady Gaga, and Madonna. Has also designed hats for the Harry Potter movies. Thirty-six of his hats were worn at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Twenty were worn at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Trump Blaine & Robert: Robert is the younger brother of Donald Trump. Manager of Trump Corporation and President of Trump Management On August 3, 2020, Robert wrote “Jeffrey Epstein is still alive” on his Twitter feed ( Blaine is Robert’s ex-wife of over 25 years. They divorced in 2007 when it was revealed that Robert had a mistress for whom he purchased a $4 million house in Garden City, NY. Blaine’s father was an executive at IBM.
Trump, Ivana: Donald Trump’s ex-wife (1977-1992) and mother of Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. After their divorce, Ivana accused her ex-husband, Donald, of rape. Trump’s lawyers claim that she did not want her words “to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.” One of the conditions of her divorce settlement was that she wouldn’t talk about their marriage without Donald’s approval. In this (timestamped) video interview (, Maria Farmer, the sister of Epstein victim Annie Farmer and former employee of Epstein and Ghislaine who went to the FBI with Epstein allegations in 1996, says that Ivana was possibly involved in procuring children, although she couldn’t confirm.
Trump, Ivanka: Donald Trump’s daughter. Serves as Advisor to the President. Donates to Jewish charities and is a supporter of Israel, much like her father.
Trump, Robert & Blaine: See ‘Trump Blaine & Robert’ above.
Tucker, Chris: Famous actocomedian of Rush Hour and Friday fame. Tucker was on the infamous Africa flight with Epstein, Bill Clinton, and Kevin Spacey.
Turlington, Christy: Incredibly popular supermodel from the ‘80s and ‘90s who has worked for too many big name fashion designers and magazines to name. Jean-Luc Brunel, the (alleged) pedophile and child trafficker who sent three 12-year-old girls to Epstein for his birthday discovered Turlington and helped launch her career ( Friends with fellow supermodel and all-around scumbag, Naomi Campbell, who is likely knee deep in Epstein’s child trafficking and pedophile ring.
Turnbull, Governor Charles: Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands from 1999-2007. Epstein’s Little Saint James island is located in the Virgin Islands.
Turner, Jenny: There is an excellent Reddit thread ( from u/rsarector that provides evidence that Jenny Turner is a pseudonym for Ghislaine Maxwell. Make sure to check out the posts further down the thread by aimhighairforce and DSyntax for more information.
Turner, Miles Creswell: Investment banker who used to work for Deutsche Bank and HSBC. Interestingly enough, a man (Leo Iravanian) was arrested for harassment because Cresswell-Turner testified that traffic lights were not dangerous after Iravanian’s wife was killed by an Express coach. Iravanian continuously called Cresswell-Turner’s Marylebone office accusing Cresswell-Turner of being a paedophile (
Tyssen, (Chessy) Francesca: Art collector and estranged wife of Austrian politician Karl von Habsburg. The Habsburg family is one of the most powerful and wealthiest families in Europe. The Habsburgs are a Black Nobility family of very high prestige.
Urbiola, Jorge: Likely refers to the diplomat and author who serves as Deputy Chief of the Mission of the Kingdom of Spain in Ukraine.
Vahabzadeh, Iraj and Linda: Iraj was the eldest son of Dr. Mostafa Vahabzadeh, founder and owner of Kayhan Publishing Group in Iran. Lynda was his ex-wife. Iraj passed away in 2016.
Van Hauen Sophie: No info found, although the address (62 Frith St) is that of Circa, a gay bar in London.
Van, William Straubenzee: British Conservative Party politician and Member of Parliament who died in 1999. After his death, it was discovered that van Straubenzee was named in documents pertaining to British politician child abuse ( Van Straubenzee was also a longtime friend of Princess Diana ( and the uncle of Thomas van Straubenzee (lifelong friend of Prince William) and Charlie van Straubenzee (Prince Harry’s best friend).
Varsavsky, Martin: Argentine entrepreneur who has founded many companies, including Medicorp Sciences (biotechnology) and several telecommunications outfits.
Velasquez, Patricia: Venezuelan model/actress who appeared in print ads for Victoria Secret. Photographed here ( with Ghislaine Maxwell and Carole Radziwill, who is also listed in Epstein’s contacts (check the ‘R’ thread) and is/was a good friend of Maxwell.
Verdin, Julia: British film producer, casting director, and actress. Has been a friend of Ghislaine’s for decades, as evidenced by the photo of the pair, which was taken in 1986 ( Verdin owned a house on the Sunset Strip in the early 1990s. She lived there with Birgit Cunningham and actress Elizabeth Hurley, who seems to be embroiled in Epstein and Maxwell’s world. The house was known as “party central” and was frequented by the likes of Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson (
Verdin-Mulot, Annie & JP: Annie is a marketing director who has worked with Mulberry, Harrods, and Disneyland. She is the sister of Julia (above). Jean-Paul Mulot is a French journalist and former Deputy Editorial Director of Le Figaro, a daily newspaper in France. He is a permanent representative to the UK in the Hauts-de-France region. When confronted with his Epstein connections, Jean-Paul said that he only met him once 15 years ago and that his wife went to Oxford with Ghislaine Maxwell ( Close with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who served from 2007-2012.
Veronis, Jane: Jewelry designer. Her father is the co-founder of Veronis Suhler Stevenson investment bank.
Villani, Carmine S: President of Milestone Capital, an investment firm. Also President of Europower Renewable Energy Ltd.
Villeneuve, Jacques: Formula 1 race car driver. Epstein has many F1 contacts.
Vittadini, Emanuele A: No info found, but one of the emails listed traces back to arc-intl, which is a world-renowned glassware company.
Vittorelli, Dott. Marco: Chairman of Openjobmetis, an Italian job recruitment service. Also serves on the Board of Directors of Pallacanestro Varese, an Italian basketball club.
Vittoz, Martine: No info found.
Vittoz, Patrick: Director of Exploit Information Technologies, which specializes in website promotion, search engine submission, and hosting. Patrick has been an architectural consultant at his family’s business for 41 years.
Vittoz, Vonnic: No info found.
Vivian Smith, Charles: Investment banker. Currently the 5th Baron Bicester.
Von Habsburg, Francesca: Listed earlier in this thread under Tyssen, (Chessy) Francesca.
Von Hase, Bettina: Independent consultant and writer on art and culture. Daughter of a former German ambassador to the UK. Bettina’s ex-husband of 30 years, John Varley, is a trustee of The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.
submitted by LearningIsListening to conspiracy [link] [comments]

2020.07.07 20:24 owaiszaheer Before the War o n Terror

Before the War o n Terror
Before the War on Terror, there was the War on Drugs; a vast militarized campaign launched by the United States in the 1970s to stem the spread of narcotics within its borders. Despite continuing for decades, there is little evidence that the war has curtailed the appetite for illicit drugs among US citizens. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS):
“The total population of the United States makes up less than 5% of the world’s total population, yet Americans consume 80% of all opioids produced in the world”
Like its terrorism focused successor, the War on Drugs has resulted in the militarization of vast swathes of the Americas. The United States also maintains an entire program dedicated to targeting and sanctioning drug traffickers and their accomplices.
Between them, Mexico and Colombia are home to the largest concentration of sanctioned individuals and entities, exceeding even Iran and Syria. The map below, which is based on the Department of Treasury’s specially designated nationals (SDN) list, illustrates this point :

How it works today

Currently, under US law, the Kingpin Act provides authorization to target narcotics traffickers, and deprive them of access to the US financial system. Companies owned 50% or more by a designated person are automatically considered sanctioned, a provision designed to curtail the ability to move illicit funds globally, at least in US dollars. The law also prohibits US persons and entities from conducting any direct or indirect business with designated persons.

Terrorism and migrants

While the US regularly designates traffickers under the Kingpin Act, a bill pending before the US Congress is now seeking to add an additional terrorism component to the process. Under the “Drug Cartel Terrorist Designation Act”, major Mexican cartels would be designated as terrorist groups or, more formally, foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).
This would have a number of important secondary effects. For example, local US street level criminals, who distribute contraband in localities, but are otherwise not linked to foreign cartels, could be charged with abetting terrorism; charges which carry severe penalties.
Another major impact would be felt by asylum seekers fleeing through Mexico. Merely by the fact of having traversed through an FTO cartel’s territory, or having paid a bribe or piso for safe passage, refugees could be accused of aiding a terrorist organization, thereby resulting in the denial of their US asylum claims.

The Venezuela model

It is worth noting that this “narco-terrorism” model has already been deployed. Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, who has been accused of drug trafficking by the United States. Specifically, he is accused of facilitating the movement of cocaine, in concert with the FARC rebels of Colombia.
Earlier, in 2017, Maduro’s former vice president, Tareck El Aissami was also designated a narco-trafficker. When El Aissami was later appointed by Caracas to supervise the restructuring of Venezuela’s sovereign debt, major foreign creditors refused to be seen standing with him, and the process ground to a halt.

How FTOs are different in US law

It is argued that the designation would be useful for a number of reasons. For one, it will become even easier to pursue members of these cartels within the US legal system, and lower, for example, the threshold of evidence required for pursuing individuals. This would mean a much larger population of people could be targeted for their links to cartels.
At the same time, it would potentially permit the use of military force against these groups as well as targeting by other covert operations. CIA drone strikes in places like Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, have long been justified under the rubric of targeting “terrorist operators”. The Trump administration’s vision of a vast, militarized border with Mexico are consistent with these ambitions.

Cartels or factions?

The bill explicitly calls out three cartels for immediate designation:
  • The Reynosa/Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel.
  • The Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
  • The Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zeta
The proposed designations not only target the largest, and most violent cartels in Mexico but also reveal how cartel organization and structure has evolved. Rather than being centralized bureaucracies run by a single of group of leaders, the Mexican cartels of today are often federated, with each unit exhibiting a great degree of autonomy.
The Los Zeta’s exhibit this to the greatest extent. Originally an assassination team for the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas have expanded and become more independent overtime and then, as one leader after another was detained or killed, they further split and federated.

The origins of the Los Zetas

This is how Cárdenas Guillén, the now deceased head of the Gulf Cartel is said to have developed the Zetas:
“While he was consolidating his power, Cárdenas Guillén came up with a devilishly clever and effective plan. He was well aware of a group of Army special forces officers called Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (Special Forces Airmobile Group, or GAFE) who went through an intensive, six-month counter-insurgency and urban warfare training course from American, French and Israeli specialists. It was originally formed to provide security for the 1986 World Cup, but had become the government's primary weapon against the cartels. By bribing and threatening government officials, Cárdenas Guillén managed to gain access to the unit's secret records and approached Lieutenant Arturo Guzmán Decena, who after a healthy bribe and huge salary increase, quit the army and assumed a position as Cárdenas Guillén's bodyguard. But he proved more valuable than that, as Cárdenas Guillén recruited 30 more men from GAFE through him. The men called Guzmán Decena “Zeta,” because his old army code name was Z1. Soon the former GAFE men and the men they trained became known as “Los Zetas.” Their duties expanded to collecting debts, securing disputed territory and assassinating enemies. Their signature was to make their victims' bodies so grotesque as to add an extra level of terror among those who might think of crossing them. Their tactics and weapons made them a weapon the other cartels, and even the Mexican military, couldn't match.” Excerpt From: Jerry Langton. “Gangland.”


The bill has been steadily gaining, Republican-only, co-sponsors since its introduction, and received considerable press attention after a family of US-Mexican dual nationals were attacked and killed in a cartel attack last year in Mexico.
However, declaring Mexican cartels to be FTOs is unlikely to resolve the US’s addiction to illegal drugs. The net impact of the proposed law would, in fact, be most sharply felt by vulnerable populations, particularly migrants.

Acts Reviewed

Drug Cartel Terrorist Designation Act

the Secretary of State should designate each of the following Mexican drug cartels as a foreign terrorist organization under such section 219: (A)The Reynosa/Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel. (B)The Jalisco New Generation Cartel. (C)The Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zeta

Sources and Methods

When a Corpse is a Message

The prototypical example is the feared Los Zetas cartel. They started out as an elite commando unit in the service of the Golfo cartel. When the head of the Golfo was arrested, Los Zetas became independent, and competed with their old enemies as well as with their former allies. Over the last two years, three successive leaders of Los Zetas have been removed: one was assassinated in a restaurant, the second was killed in a firefight with the marines and the third was arrested. Nowadays Los Zetas doesn’t have a single leader but dozens of cells operating without knowing whose orders they are following. In practice, they have become tiny cartels themselves. She tells us that the sinister head of the Sinaloa cartel, Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada García, for some time counted Estancia Infantil del Niño Feliz, or the Happy Child Nursery, among his money-laundering activities, and that from 2005 to 2006 his estates were signed up to an experimental programme run by the UN to reduce their gas emissions. And that one of Los Zetas’s most brutal hitmen used to sign the bodies of people he had horribly murdered with little notes including his less than scary nickname, ‘El Calabaza’, or Pumpkin

Mexico at War

What he encountered was the bewildering rise of an originally small group of deserters from the Mexican army, who were hired by Osiel Cárdenas during the 1980s as enforcers for the Gulf cartel. They were elite troops trained in the United States, at sites like the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School and Center of Fort Bragg, to fight against insurgents in Latin America. They called themselves the Zetas and would expand their numbers through recruiting first other deserters, then young men in the poorer areas of Mexico; finally they incorporated former Kaibiles, Guatemalan special forces well known for their horrific torture and murder of peasants and Indians during the Guatemalan civil war of the 1970s and 1980s. The group would eventually swell to ten thousand men. As Grillo notes, they thought more like mercenary soldiers than gangsters. Their objective was to control territory through terror—mass killings, decapitations and mutilations, propaganda displayed on crude banners, and a knowledgeable use of the Internet. They became adept at a whole range of criminal activities beyond trafficking in drugs. From 2010 on, a number of gangs were decimated or weakened, to the benefit of the Sinaloa cartel and the Zetas, who then faced off against each other in yet another merciless war. The two groups operate differently. The Sinaloa cartel, led by older figures like “El Chapo” and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, are concerned with the trafficking of drugs. The Zetas have much more varied interests. Led by the former soldier Heriberto Lazcano (“The Executioner”), who is thirty-eight years old, they have diversified into kidnappings for profit (of businessmen and professional people, but also of Mexican and Central American migrants), large-scale and systematic extortion, the corruption of local police who are often their allies against federal forces, and a truly enormous orgy of robbery from the pipelines of PEMEX, the state-owned oil company, amounting to $1 billion in lost revenue for the year 2011.

The End of the Big Cartels

The obsession with El Chapo and his exploits, as well as those of his associates and his cartel, reflects an outdated view of the drug trade. The idea that this trade is dominated by vertically integrated organizations, each run by a single mastermind such as El Chapo, is a myth—and a dangerous one, in that it may undermine international efforts to slow drug trafficking and combat the violence of criminal groups such as the Sinaloa Cartel. The reason is that the rise of synthetic drugs is changing the structure of the illegal drug market. Mexican cartels were built for trafficking drugs such as cocaine and heroin. These drugs, which are labor-intensive to produce and most profitable when trafficked at scale, tend to favor the emergence of large, centralized criminal syndicates that can coordinate vast transnational networks of production and distribution. Large criminal groups such as the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG are still powerful, and they still serve an important purpose in the drug trade. They assume a good portion of the risk of transporting drugs in bulk and selling them wholesale to smaller networks engaged in street-level distribution. In the case of fentanyl, for instance, Mexican cartels sell to Dominican groups that control much of the fentanyl and heroin market in the United States. Taking them down should be part of any counternarcotics strategy. But the days of the monolithic, hegemonic criminal groups with all-powerful leaders are over. For U.S. policymakers, it may be overkill to direct the resources of six federal law enforcement agencies toward dismantling these groups, especially in the era of synthetic drugs.

US Guns in Mexico

The ballistics technology employed to work such wonders comes courtesy of the United States. Alas, so does the gun, according to Mr de la Peña’s database. A study of weapons found at crime scenes suggests that 70% of gun crimes in Mexico involve American-bought weapons. The share of homicides in Mexico involving a firearm grew from 16% in 1997 to 66% in 2017. That suggests around half of Mexico’s 33,000 murder victims last year were killed by a gun manufactured in the United States, which had 14,542 gun homicides in 2017. An American-made gun is more likely to be used in a murder in Mexico than at home.

Fentanyl routes in Mexico

The Zetas were never particularly good at carving out new drug routes or laundering money; Jalisco, with years of experience in methamphetamine production through their allies, the "Cuinis" gang, is in a prime position to capitalize on new synthetic drugs like fentanyl. "CJNG's efforts to dominate key ports on both the Pacific and Gulf Coasts have allowed it to consolidate important components of the global narcotics supply chain," said a Congressional Research Service report. "In particular, CJNG asserts control over the ports of Veracruz, Manzanillo, and Lázaro Cardenas, which has given the group access to precursor chemicals that flow into Mexico from China and other parts of Latin America. As a result, CJNG has been able to pursue an aggressive growth strategy, underwritten by U.S. demand for Mexican methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl."
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2020.05.11 19:24 zankoas Kaiserreich Beta 0.12 - ‘Stay at Home’ is out!

Kaiserreich Beta 0.12 - ‘Stay at Home’
It’s time for Beta 0.12! Continuing the tradition of last patch, this is a slightly smaller update but coming to you far sooner than you might have expected. The headline two focus trees are Puerto Rico and Patagonian, both fully reworked. But as always that isn’t all, aside from many many bugs fixes we’ve also added new portraits for all agents in the KR style, adding a new demobilization system for the AI, and fixed a major performance bug. Depending on your system things may run up to 25% more smoothly than in 0.11. We hope 0.12 helps brighten your day as you stay at home. Stay safe out there!
Notable Additions
New Focus Trees
Reworked/Expanded Focus Trees
New Events
New Decisions
Music Mod
Incomplete Content
Notable Fixes
Other Fixes
We hope you enjoy playing Kaiserreich as much as we did making it!
- The KR4 Team: Alpinia, Arvidus, Augenis, Blackfalcon501, DSFDarker, Carmain, Dr. Njitram, Drozdovite, Edouard Saladier, Eragaxshim, Fbruchmueller, Flamefang, Fort, Gideones, JazzyHugh, Jeankedezeehond, Jonjon428, Jonny BL, Krco, Liegnitz, Maltesefalcon, OperationsManagementDecisions, PPsyrius, Pietrus, Rei VL, Rinbro, Roniius, Rylock, Starguard, Telcontar101, The Alpha Dog, Thomahawk2k, Vidyaország, WordZero, Yard1, Zankoas and Zimbabwe Salt Co.
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2020.01.07 14:50 rusticgorilla Lost in the Sauce: Dec 29 - Jan 4

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. (the previous edition can be found here if you are super behind)
Two important things:
FIRST, the headings will guide you through this piece. The Main Course covers the “big” stories and The Sides covers the “smaller” stories.
SECOND, I have not had time lately to do a companion audio TLDR for Lost in the Sauce. I’m very sorry, these take so long to write and compile that suddenly it’s time to post it and I haven’t had a chance to record and edit audio.
Let’s dig in!

*Main Course*

Critical details in Ukraine docs

Last week, Just Security published new details of Trump administration communications regarding the freeze on aid to Ukraine. The emails were previously only available in redacted form as part of a FOIA release to the Center for Public Integrity. The new information sheds light on the role Trump and his aides played in the freeze and highlighted the administration’s ongoing cover-up.

The cover-up

A key person in the emails is acting Pentagon comptroller Elaine McCusker, who expressed concern almost immediately after the freeze was formalized on July 25 (91 minutes after Trump’s call with Zelensky). In August, McCusker warned senior OMB officials that time was running out to send the aid. Both of these emails from McCusker were redacted.
As the month wore on, the emails show officials bending over backwards to make every conceivable accommodation to keep the process moving without actually being able to obligate the funding. The idea was that as soon as the funds were given the green light, there would be zero delay, and presumably, impoundments could be avoided.
At the end of August, “McCusker’s frustration is palpable,” as associate director of national security programs at OMB Michael Duffey kept extended the hold with little explanation and OMB lawyers “continue[d] to consistently mischaracterize the process,” in McCusker’s own words. By Aug. 27, the Senate Armed Services Committee and House Appropriators began asking the Pentagon about the aid. All of McCusker’s emails during this time were redacted.
The cover-up doesn’t end at FOIA redactions. On Dec. 11, OMB general counsel Mark Paoletta wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stating that the Defense Department had not warned them that there was a risk that the aid money could not be spent if the freeze extended for too long. In fact, the unredacted communications reveal three concrete examples of the Defense Department pointing out that risk. One of these examples was an entire draft letter from the Deputy Defense Secretary to the OMB warning that "we have repeatedly advised OMB officials that pauses beyond Aug. 19, 2019 jeopardize the Department’s ability to obligate USAI funding prudently and fully.”
Why was this entire letter blacked out by the DOJ? Why did Paoletta lie in an official communication to the GAO, a congressional investigative office? Why redact practically all of McCusker’s concerns?
  • Reminder: In last week’s edition of Lost in the Sauce, I wrote about a report by The New York Times that detailed the intense disagreement among top administration officials over Trump’s decision to withhold aid to Ukraine. Pentagon officials were generally against the hold, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, while Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Russell T. Vought, the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget, Robert Blair, the senior adviser to Mulvaney, and Mark Paoletta were Trump’s accomplices.
  • Latest cover-up action: Despite a court order in response to a FOIA lawsuit, the Trump administration is refusing (non-paywalled) to produce 20 emails between Robert Blair and Michael Duffey discussing the aid freeze. The New York Times plans to “challenge the blanket withholding of the documents and would ask the judge overseeing the lawsuit, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, to approve an expedited schedule.”

Trump’s role

The unredacted documents reviewed by Just Security show that Trump was the sole decision-maker: “What is clear is that it all came down to the president and what he wanted; no one else appears to have supported his position.” This is made clear as early as the day after the hold is formalized, in a readout of a National Security Council meeting on July 26 that states the “OMB noted that the President’s direction via the Chief of Staff in early July was to suspend security assistance to Ukraine…”
Perhaps the most damning evidence, though, was in an email Duffey sent to McCusker following an Aug. 30 meeting between Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Duffey stated there was a “Clear direction from POTUS to hold” and prepared paperwork to again extend the hold.
Finally, McCusker asked Duffey why the hold was lifted (on Sept. 11). He responded, “Not exactly clear but president made the decision to go. Will fill you in when I get details.” We now know what happened: Trump got caught. Just two days earlier, the House announced it was opening an investigation into whether Trump was illegally pressuring Ukraine.


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
"The newly-revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Sen. McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested. These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself.”
"Importantly, that Mr. Duffey said there was 'clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold' only further implicates President Trump and underscores the need for the Senate to subpoena the witnesses and documents we’ve requested at the onset of a trial," Schumer continued. "The American people deserve a fair trial that gets to the truth, not a rigged process that enables a cover-up."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff:
"As part of our impeachment inquiry, the House subpoenaed these very documents. From their deeply incriminating character, we can now see why they were concealed: They directly corroborate witnesses who testified that military aid to Ukraine was withheld at the direction of the President and that the W.H. was informed doing so may violate the law… The disclosure of these incriminating documents reinforces the need for all of these materials to be produced, and that a fair trial in the Senate cannot take place without them. If they are not produced, the Senate and the American people must ask, what else is the President hiding?” (CNN)

Ukraine’s success

Despite all the abuse from the White House, and the fact that he took office as an utter political neophyte in one of Europe’s most dysfunctional nations, Zelensky’s government so far has been an extraordinary — and, under the circumstances, almost miraculous — success.
...For decades, successive U.S. administrations have tried to coax this kind of performance from Ukrainian presidents, mostly without much success. Yet now that Zelensky is doing virtually everything the State Department once dreamed of, there is a U.S. vacuum in Kyiv.
Meanwhile, Zelensky, who still wants the legitimization of a White House visit, has yet to be given a date. It’s hard not to conclude that the Trump administration isn’t happy that Ukraine finally has a competent president. (The Washington Post)

Senate trial update

Not much has changed since Congress went on break - the Republican and Democratic leaders are still deadlocked over how a Senate impeachment trial will proceed. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he’s “content to continue the ordinary business of the Senate while House Democrats continue to flounder,” referring to House Speaker Pelosi’s decision not to nominate House managers and send articles of impeachment to the Senate. Schumer continues to back her plan, saying:
”There has never, never in the history of the country been an impeachment trial of the president in which the Senate was denied the ability to hear from witnesses… Yet, the Republican leader seems intent on violating that precedent.”
A Democratic aide told Axios that no decision has been made about when the articles could be sent to the Senate.
  • Further reading: How long can Pelsoi hold the articles of impeachment? The Daily Beast published an op-ed on the matter. “Pushed for a time limit, Ornstein told The Daily Beast that he thinks Pelosi can extend through February, ‘keeping all options open,’ he said.”
  • The opposing view: (1) “Democrats are the ones who stand to suffer by delaying the Senate impeachment trial.” The Washington Post. 1/2/2020. (2) Perhaps less credible, “Pelosi impeachment delay game ‘hurting Democrats,’ says Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz.” Boston Herald. 12/24/2019.

Change in rules?

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said he will push to change the Senate rules regarding impeachment so the trial can begin without receiving the managers/articles from the House. It’s unclear whether McConnell would be open to this approach, however, as the only person who seems to want a trial is Trump and Trump’s associates. Additionally, it would be very hard to change the rules before the trial starts:
It would take 60 votes to pass a resolution on impeachment outside a trial and 67 votes to change the impeachment rules. That threshold would require Democratic support, since McConnell has only 53 Republicans…
I want to note that the Associated Press appears to report that changing the rules would require 51 votes, but that is only true after the trial has begun.


On Monday, former National Security Adviser John Bolton released the following statement:
Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.
According to The New York Times: “former White House officials and people close to Mr. Bolton have indicated that his testimony would likely be damning to Mr. Trump and put additional pressure on moderate Republicans to consider convicting him.”
Maine Senator Susan Collins said in an interview with local media that she is “open to witnesses” during the Senate trial, breaking with McConnell. Collins added that she has advocated that the Senate use the Clinton impeachment trial as a framework for Trump’s trial:
”What happened back then is Sen. Trent Lott on the Republican side, Sen. Tom Daschle on the Democratic side, negotiated the terms to begin the trial. And those terms were adopted unanimously by the Senate, 100-0. I can't imagine anything like that happening today, regrettably. They decided that we would start with the opening arguments from both sides. And then we proceeded to a period where senators questioned the two sides through the chief justice... And those questions, of which there were more than 100, elicited a lot of information that was very useful. So I hope we do that approach this time as well.”
Then we move to what I call the third stage. At that point, we debated whether or not we wanted to hear from witnesses and get additional documents. And there was a roll call vote, with Republicans wanting witnesses at that point. And Democrats, with few exceptions, not wanting witnesses, so we have a reverse of the current situation. And we decided to call just three witnesses and to have them deposed, rather than testifying live.
Read more on how Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial worked.
Read about the role Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts could play in a Senate trial.


At Trump’s New Year’s Eve party, Rudy Giuliani told reporters that he’s not only willing to testify at Trump’s trial - he wants to “try the case.”
“I would testify, I would, um, do demonstrations. I’d give lectures, I’d give summations. Or, I’d do what I do best, I’d try the case. I’d love to try the case. Well I don’t know if anybody would have the courage to give me the case, but, uh, if you give me the case, I will prosecute it as a racketeering case, which I kind of invented anyway.”
So the private attorney of the defendant charged with abuse of power and obstructing congress wants to “prosecute” a RICO case… against his own client? Though that’s what Giuliani literally said, it seems what he intended to say was that he’d argue at Trump’s trial that Joe Biden and Hunter are the ones actually on trial.

Kupperman’s lawsuit

Last Monday, D.C. District Court Judge Richard Leon dismissed (document) former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman’s lawsuit challenging a subpoena from House impeachment investigators. Kupperman’s lawsuit sought to determine whether he had to obey the House subpoena or the president’s order not to comply with the subpoena. Judge Leon dismissed the case because the House Intelligence Committee withdrew the subpoena last month; a House Intelligence Committee official stated that they would not allow Kupperman to delay impeachment through long court cases.
With this case dismissed, the relevant precedent is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s ruling in the McGahn case that Executive branch employees do not have “absolute immunity.” This is especially applicable to former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who said he was waiting on the outcome of Kupperman’s case to determine if he would testify in impeachment proceedings. Legal experts immediately called for his compliance:
Neal Katyal: "I think the bottom line is that John Bolton now has no rock to hide behind anymore, and that he really should testify."
Former prosecutor Mimi Rocah: “Bolton has no excuse anymore. The standing case law says testify. Wanting to sell a book says testify. Doing the right thing for the good of your country says testify.” Source
Former prosecutor Joyce White Vance: “Bolton doesn’t have any legally cognizable privilege to assert and should testify. We can confirm this with common sense: Someone close to the president who has said he has information and who we now know was involved in counseling the president against the course of conduct he took in Ukraine must certainly testify if we’re going to learn the truth.” Source
Edit: See the "Bolton" section above for more on whether Bolton will testify.

Mueller memos

Buzzfeed News and CNN obtained a third batch of FBI memos from Mueller’s investigation, released as part of a FOIA lawsuit. The following are some highlights of the new 365-page trove:
  • The translator at the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Ike Kaveladze, told Mueller’s team that the Russians spoke at length about the Magnitsky Act, though Trump’s representatives were promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Kaveladze reported that Trump Jr. was annoyed by the focus on sanctions policy and half-way through the meeting interrupted to ask: "Is there anything you have on HILLARY?"
  • Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort used Fox News host Sean Hannity as a “back channel” to Trump during the period he was under investigation in 2017. The memos state: “Manafort knew Hannity was speaking to Trump because Hannity would tell Manafort to hang in there, that he had been talking to Trump, that Trump had his back, and things like that...Manafort understood his conversations with Hannity to be a message from Trump.”
  • Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen told investigators that he and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow considered having Trump issue “pre-pardons,” or “pardons to everyone so that no one had to comply with the investigations.” However, Cohen said the duo then learned that pre-pardons would have the opposite effect: individuals would have to cooperate with all investigations and could not take the Fifth Amendment.
  • An unknown witness spoke to Mueller’s team on April 12 and 13 of 2018; the entire 31 pages documenting the interview is redacted. This witness is the only name withheld entirely in the 365-page release. CNN speculates that this individual could possibly be Jared Kushner.
  • Then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told then-Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland that, before she was officially fired, Trump wanted her to write a letter stating that “the President never directed Flynn to call the Russians about sanctions." McFarland relayed this request to White House lawyer John Eisenberg, who advised her not to comply because the concurrent offer of an ambassadorship would look “like a quid pro quo situation.”

McGahn and Grand Jury arguments

Two sets of three-judge panels in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments (audio) in two separation-of-powers cases Friday: a lawsuit over former White House Counsel Don McGahn’s subpoenaed testimony and a lawsuit to reveal evidence collected by Mueller’s grand jury.
In the McGahn case, two judges - Rogers and Griffith - appeared skeptical of the Justice Department’s argument that advisers like McGahn are “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.” The DOJ persisted claiming that courts had no role in arbitrating what they call a “political” conflict between the Executive and Legislative branch. The House general counsel, Douglas Letter, told the court that a third article of impeachment “is on the table,” dependent upon hearing testimony from McGahn.
The same two judges joined a Trump-appointee, Judge Neomi Rao, to hear the grand jury case. Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell previously ruled in October that the House was exempt from rules that normally shield grand jury material. On Friday, Judge Griffith advised the Justice Department that they were “going up against” history by arguing that the “gold standard” legal rulings in Nixon’s impeachment should not be followed in Trump’s.
Trump-appointee Neomi Rao made waves during her questioning by suggesting that there’s a possibility Attorney General Bill Barr could ignore a court ruling that the House was entitled to the grand jury information. Rao asked what the House would do if such an instance arose. Letter responded that the House could send out its sergeant at arms to collect the material, but “we don’t do that anymore” at the risk of having “a gun battle with Mr. Barr’s FBI security detail. Instead, we go to court. Everybody has recognized that we go to court.”
  • Some media outlets have reported that Letter seriously suggested the sergeant at arms should have a shootout with the DOJ in order to arrest Barr. You can listen to the audio yourself; Letter was using sarcasm to show that argument advanced by the DOJ was unworkable: the House doesn’t have any realistic alternatives to obtain information it is legally-entitled to, other than going to court.
  • Neomi Rao: Judge Rao had previously heard arguments in Trump’s challenge of the House’s subpoena to his accounting firm, Mazars USA. The majority ruled in favor of Congress. Rao, however, dissented with an opinion that has no basis in Supreme Court case law or historical precedent: She opined that Congress may not investigate the president, even for a valid legislative purpose, unless it through impeachment. As Slate correctly noted, her argument “would help place Trump above any congressional oversight and further insulate the executive branch from an important check by the judicial branch.”

*The Sides*

Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans

Full disclosure: I am a contributor to Forensic News
On Friday, Forensic News (led by Scott Stedman) reported that a whistleblower told the FBI that Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans are underwritten by VTB, the Russian state-owned bank. The whistleblower is Val Broeksmit, whose late father was an executive at Deutsche Bank. Forensic News has verified parts of Val’s story but does not confirm the claim that Trump’s loans were co-signed or paid off by VTB. Val Broeksmit has provided valuable documents and information to prosecutors that led to successful prosecutions and fines against the bank - this provides more credibility to his claims regarding VTB.
A subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas (DBTCA), made the loans to Trump; it also maintained ties to VTB even after the latter was subjected to US sanctions. DBTCA owed approximately $48.6 million to VTB in 2013. Forensic News has verified these facts - yet another piece of evidence that supports Val’s claims.
Two Deutsche executives with knowledge of the alleged VTB arrangement—Bill Broeksmit and Thomas Bowers—have both committed suicide. Another, Rosemary Vrablic, has not commented publicly on the matter. It is now time she testify to Congress about what she knows. (source)
Finally, as one of the authors, Robert DeNault, points out - the timeline surrounding the article reveals suspicious activity:
Fri. (12/27): we notify Deutsche Bank about our piece
Sun. (12/29): Trump + Putin have mystery phone call
Wed. (1/1): we tell DB we are publishing Fri.
Wed. (1/1): Trump decides to kill Soleimani
Thurs. (1/2): Soleimani assassinated
Fri. (1/3): we are cyberattacked [and the site taken down for 24 hours]
Someone didn’t want the public to read Forensic News’ report… You can listen to the Counter Intelligence Podcast interview with Val here.

Manafort docs

Prosecutors told District Judge Amy Berman Jackson that they are almost ready to release less-redacted documents about how Paul Manafort lied during his cooperation with the government. CNN: “Unsealing the details could potentially explain major questions about Manafort's connections to the White House and fill in gaps about what Russia and Ukraine hoped from Trump after he took office.”
These details could potentially shed more light on Trump’s Ukraine policy:
Prosecutors said Manafort lied about 2017 and 2018 discussions with Kilimnik about Ukrainian policy, specifically, a Ukraine "peace plan" that would provide a "backdoor" way for Russia to control part of Ukraine, and their interest in getting Trump's support for it, according to the Mueller report. The FBI believes Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence, according to court filings and the Mueller report.

Venezuelan backchannels

Erik Prince
Two U.S. officials told the Associated Press that Erik Prince had been referred to the Treasury Department for violating sanctions by meeting with Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez during a surprise trip to Caracas last month.
...the fact the visit was flagged underscores the concern of officials in the Trump administration over what appeared to be anunauthorized diplomatic outreach to Maduro… the mere presence in Venezuela of a businessman with longstanding ties to the U.S. national security establishment prompted questions about whether he was there to open a secret back channel to Maduro on behalf of the Trump administration
Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani, currently under federal investigation for his involvement in Ukrainian foreign affairs, was also part of a second “shadow diplomatic effort” in Venezuela. The Washington Post (non-paywalled) reported that Giuliani spoke to Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro in September 2018 to try to negotiate Maduro’s resignation. This is counter to official U.S. policy and alarmed administration officials. At the time, Giuliani was representing a wealthy Venezuelan energy executive and pushed for Maduro’s exit in order to open up the resource-rich country to business.
Giuliani’s actions in Venezuela appear to be a clear violation of the Logan Act (18 U.S.C. § 953), which criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments having a dispute with the U.S.
Venezuela is definitely a country engaged in a dispute with the United States, and Giuliani was arguably acting “to defeat the measures of the United States” by engaging in shadow diplomacy that contradicted official U.S. foreign policy. In fact, Bolton explicitly rejected the effort. (The Washington Post)

Giuliani: Cybersecurity adviser?

Days before his inauguration in January 2017, Trump announced that he appointed Rudy Giuliani to be a cybersecurity adviser, working with the private sector to find “the answer to cybersecurity.” However, Giuliani had little-to-no experience of knowledge about cybersecurity and reportedly had little input in practical cybersecurity matters inside the White House at the time.
So, why was Giuliani named cybersecurity adviser? It turns out that it was not an official government job, but just a publicized informal role in an area that Giuliani was trying to build a clientele for his consulting business. The unpaid informal position exempted Giuliani from federal ethics laws that would have required him to “reveal any financial connections that might enable him to profit from his position.”
Without an official government job — but with a publicized informal role — the former U.S. attorney and two-term mayor of New York was able to present himself to prospective clients as someone with a direct line to the president, without any transparency for the public.
...Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who was a White House ethics official under President George W. Bush...“The bottom line is, you can’t just delegate any U.S. government function to somebody and simply because they’re not getting a salary from the government, they get to ignore all the conflict-of-interest rules,” Painter said. “That’s a nonstarter in terms of ethics. It’s a disaster.”
...Painter, the law professor, said the 2017 cybersecurity advisory position also had the potential for Giuliani to enrich himself. Because Trump never made the job official, he said, the public may never know whether that happened. “It’s just another example with this administration,” Painter said, “and we see with Ukraine it’s the same thing.”

Parnas shares info

On Friday, we learned that District Judge Paul Oetken will allow Lev Parnas to share additional information with the House Intelligence Committee. The materials include documents seized from Parnas’ house and files taken from his iPhone. Attorney Joseph Bondy said the materials are relevant to the impeachment inquiry and “essential to the Committee’s ability to corroborate the strength of Mr. Parnas’s potential [impeachment] testimony.”
Bondy updated the press on Monday, saying that the government turned over the seized materials and Parnas has begun to share them with the House Intelligence Committee.

Did China give Trump dirt on Biden?

A little-noticed October report from The Financial Times (FT) received new attention last week. You may remember on October 3, Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Michael Pillsbury, an informal adviser to Trump, told FT that China fulfilled Trump’s request by providing him with more dirt on the Bidens. In an email exchange released by FT’s Washington bureau chief, Pillsbury said: "Actually, I got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese."
However, hours later Pillsbury denied speaking with FT. The matter still has not been settled; we don’t know if Pillsbury was telling the truth.

Trump Org’s undocumented workers

The Trump Organization kept employing undocumented workers at the Trump Winery, recently firing them after workers had finished the annual grape harvest:
Nearly a year after the Trump Organization pledged to root out undocumented workers at its properties, supervisors at the Trump Winery on Monday summoned at least seven employees and fired them because of their lack of legal immigration status, according to two of the dismissed workers.
...“Donald Trump has known about these workers for months,” said Anibal Romero, an immigration lawyer who represents many of Trump’s former undocumented employees and is advising Miranda. “He waits until the fields are tended, grapes picked, wine made. He then discards them like a used paper bag. Happy New Year — you’re fired.”

Trump’s taxpayer-funded properties

President Donald Trump has pushed his taxpayer-funded golf tab past $118 million on his 26th visit to Mar-a-Lago, his for-profit resort in Palm Beach, Florida, with a Saturday visit to his course in neighboring West Palm Beach.
The new total is the equivalent of 296 years of the $400,000 presidential salary that his supporters often boast that he is not taking.
And of that $118.3 million, at least several million has gone into Trump’s own cash registers, as Secret Service agents, White House staff and other administration officials stay and eat at his hotels and golf courses. (HuffPost)
According to CNN, since his inauguration Trump “has spent at least 252 days at a Trump golf club and 333 days at a Trump property.”

Strzok’s lawsuit

Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who launched the bureau’s Russia probe in 2016 and was fired two years later for sending text messages critical of Donald Trump, has alleged in a new court filing challenging his dismissal that the FBI and Justice Department violated his rights to free speech and privacy. (Politico)
Strzok’s legal team argues: “The government’s argument would leave thousands of career federal government employees without protections from discipline over the content of their political speech.”

McCabe case

Twenty months later, the Justice Department still has not determined if it will bring criminal charges against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for possibly committing perjury. In November, District Judge Reggie B. Walton criticized prosecutors for leaving McCabe in limbo: “This is not a hard case. I was a good prosecutor for a long time. Deciding whether or not you’re going to charge someone with false statements or perjury is not that hard, factually or legally — maybe politically, but not factually or legally.”
Since the case was first referred to the DOJ, one grand jury term has expired and a second did not issue an indictment. The Washington Post Editorial Board writes that “[i]t is hard not to read between the lines and see prosecutors who realize they have a bad legal case but won’t close it out for fear of angering the president.” Lawfare editor Susan Hennessey agrees: “DOJ refusing to close cases it does not genuinely intend to prosecute in order to place a cloud over the president's political opponents is abusive, illegitimate, and immoral. Once upon a time, we would have expected people to resign over things like this. Now, they shrug.”
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]

2019.12.19 16:15 elguevaco Durable MaduroMore dollars and fewer protests in Venezuela

Durable MaduroMore dollars and fewer protests in Venezuela

Sanctions have led the regime to retreat from socialism, but not dictatorship
Dec 18th 2019 CARACAS
The humboldt, a pencil-shaped luxury hotel overlooking Caracas, has long symbolised broken promises by Venezuelan governments. Built in 1956, during the military dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, it has been empty most of the time. The cable car to its mountaintop location keeps breaking down. The current regime, a socialist dictatorship led by Nicolás Maduro, promises that the Humboldt will soon be relaunched as Venezuela’s first “seven-star” hotel.
On December 14th it threw a party. Christmas lights twinkled. A djpumped out reggaeton hits. Models cavorted around the empty swimming pool. Enchufados (plugged-ins), made rich by their connections to the regime, sipped imported vodka at tables with panoramic views while two green laser lights beamed down upon the capital of a country that is suffering from the world’s deepest recession. “Caracas has become like something out of ‘The Great Gatsby’,” said Karina González, a young secretary, as she looked up at the light show. “Decadence alongside penury.”
The Humboldt bash is a sign of change. It is not a return of prosperity, which does not spread beyond the party-goers and their sort. Nor is it the democratisation demanded by the opposition and by the 60-odd countries that back it. Rather, it points to the regime’s growing confidence that it will survive international pressure aimed at toppling it, which has been led by the United States.
Its policy of “maximum pressure” on the regime began last January, after Juan Guaidó, the head of the opposition-controlled legislature, proclaimed himself Venezuela’s interim president on the grounds that Mr Maduro had rigged his re-election in 2018. Most Western and Latin American countries recognise Mr Guaidó’s claim. The Trump administration banned purchases of Venezuelan oil by the United States—once Venezuela’s biggest customer. It widened sanctions on individuals to include almost everyone in Mr Maduro’s inner circle.
The oil sanctions have been porous. Venezuela has found non-American customers, such as Russia’s Rosneft. Production by pdvsa, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, is showing signs of recovery after plunging by three-quarters since 2015. It has signed an agreement with an Indian company to help boost it further and repair refineries. Venezuela gets extra money from selling gold (both from illegal mines and from its reserves) and narcotics.
The sanctions have had unintended consequences. Officials whose travel is restricted and whose foreign bank accounts are frozen spend more of their time and money at home, one explanation for the Humboldt blowout. More important, the oil sanctions were enough of a shock to force the government to retreat from socialism. Mr Maduro has lifted nearly all the economic controls first imposed by Hugo Chávez, the charismatic leader of the “Bolivarian revolution”, who died in 2013. Sanctions have “made the government more flexible”, says Luis Oliveros, an economist.
It has stopped trying to dictate the exchange rate and control prices. Private firms can now import whatever they choose and set their own prices. Supermarkets in Caracas, nearly empty for much of 2017 and 2018, are again stocked with food. It is not just the rich who can afford it. Perhaps a third of Venezuelans have direct access to remittances from relatives living abroad. Since Mr Maduro took office in 2013 at least 4m people, 12% of the population, have left the country. Venezuelans abroad send back $4bn a year, roughly 3% of gdp, according to Econoanalitica, a consultancy. This supplements the government’s distribution of food, disproportionately to its supporters, and a discreet aid programme managed by foreign ngos.
Dollars are elbowing aside Venezuela’s bolívar, the world’s most inflation-prone currency. Taxi drivers and cleaning ladies quote prices in dollars, even if they accept payment in bolívares. McDonald’s pays burger-flippers in Caracas a bonus of $20 a month, which is more than treble the minimum wage of 300,000 bolívares ($6). Prices at the Traki department store in central Caracas are in dollars, though the dollar sign itself does not appear on tags. Spaghetti (from Egypt) costs 50 cents for a 400-gram (14-ounce) pack. Queues at the tills suggest that ordinary shoppers can afford it. The value of dollar notes in circulation now exceeds that of bolívares.
The Venezuelan currency itself, in which most people are still paid, is not depreciating quite as fast as it was. The government has tightened banks’ reserve requirements. According to the national assembly, the annual inflation rate has dropped from nearly 3m% at the beginning of 2019 to 13,475% in November, which is still the highest in the world by far.
“Things are a little better than they were last year,” says Héctor Márquez, a mechanic. Outside Caracas few Venezuelans would agree. People continue to die needlessly in hospitals that lack equipment and drugs. The un estimates that 7m Venezuelans urgently need humanitarian aid.
That has led to internal migration. Many people are fleeing provincial cities for Caracas, where traffic jams are back after disappearing last year. El Chigüire Bipolar (the Bipolar Capybara), a satirical website, has Mr Maduro declaring: “The Republic of Caracas cannot continue receiving Venezuelan refugees.”
Quiescence in Caracas is what Mr Maduro most wants. A Venezuelan with access to dollars is less likely to protest against the government, points out Mr Oliveros. That complicates the task of Mr Guaidó, who has promised repeatedly that the Maduro regime will fall “soon”. His main hope had been that the armed forces would switch sides, but there is little sign of that. Mr Guaidó’s new focus is a push for reform of the electoral authority, which the regime counts on to help rig elections in its favour.
Its next opportunity will be in the national-assembly election, which is due in December 2020. The regime may hold it earlier. If the opposition loses that vote, Mr Maduro will control all branches of government. “The conditions for any political change in 2020 are getting ever more remote,” says John Magdaleno, a Caracas-based consultant.
Publicly the Trump administration still backs Mr Guaidó against the “former” regime. “We’re not out of sanctions,” said Elliott Abrams, Washington’s point man for Venezuela, in October.
But recent reports by news agencies suggest that President Donald Trump may be looking for new ideas. One is to work with Russia to put pressure on Mr Maduro. Another is to talk directly to the regime. In November Erik Prince, an ardent Trump supporter who founded Blackwater Security Consulting (now called Academi), dined in Caracas with Delcy Rodríguez, Venezuela’s vice-president. That prompted speculation that the two governments are setting up a back channel, which would bypass Mr Guaidó. That would not be happening if the regime were on its way out.
submitted by elguevaco to vzla [link] [comments]

2019.08.12 23:18 LearningIsListening A brief rundown of the first ten pages of Jeffrey Epstein's 'Little Black Book'

Below is a quick rundown of the first ten pages of Epstein's contacts. There are some misspelled names. Epstein entered their names like this.
I did not search for pedophilia and other illegal ties into most of these people because I didn't have the time. This took a ton of time as is. Anyway, I hope something here strikes an interest in someone and maybe we can get more investigations out of this.

Abby: Not enough information
Joanna Abousleiman: Investment officer at the International Finance Corporation, a sister organization of the World Bank. Former strategy consultant at Booz & Company based in Abu Dhabi, working with public and private sector clients across the Middle East and North Africa.
Nick Adam: Not enough information
Alejandro Agag: Former politician in Spain. Became Secretary General of the European People’s Party (EPP), a tremendous political faction in Europe. Agag played a huge role in getting former Italy PM Silvio Berlusconi’s party into the EPP. Berlusconi has been charged for underage prostitution in the past. Agag quit politics to pursue financial and sporting interests. He is married to the daughter of Jose Maria Aznar, the former PM of Spain and Ana Botella Serrano, the first female mayor of Madrid. Guests at Agag’s wedding included kings and queens. Berlusconi and Tony Blair served as witnesses.
Marie Claire & John Agnew: John Agnew is a big-time banker out of London. He was former Joint Head of Morgan Stanley’s London office. Long history of working at various trusts. His father, Goeffrey Agnew, was the chairman of Thomas Agnew & Sons, a massive fine art dealer in London. Marie Claire Agnew is John Agnew’s wife. Her father, Bernard Dreesman is the Chairman of Morley’s department stores in London.
Azzedine Alaia: Deceased shoe designer. Tons of celebrities wore his shoes.
Rufus & Sally Albermarle: Rufus Keppel is the 10th Earl of Albemarle. The Keppel bloodline has served as Earl of Albemarle since the late 1600s and have ties to the British royal family. Rufus Keppel has the same great-great-grandfather as Camilla Parker Bowles (Prince Charles’s wife). Alice Keppel, who married the 7th Earl of Albemarle (Rufus’s great uncle), was a long-time mistress of King Edward VII. Alice Keppel was Camilla Parker Bowles’s great-grandmother. Camilla admired her. Rufus and Sally have since divorced. She was a sculptor.
Saffron Aldridge: A former Ralph Lauren model in the 1980s and 1990s.
Pam Alexander: According to New York Mag, she is “P.R. agent to the technology stars.” She has become the most powerful woman in the technology industry, and among the most powerful people in the P.R. industry.” Attended annual billionaires’ dinners with Epstein.
Giacomo Algranti: London art dealer.
Paul Allan: Co-founder of Microsoft. Paul Allen was the owner of the Portland Trailblazers (NBA) and the Seattle Seahawks (NFL).
Nicholas and Sarah Allan: Nicholas Allan is a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a financial consulting firm worth billions. He is now the chairman of Link REIT, the largest real estate investment trust in Asia.
Charlie Althorp: Perhaps better known to us as Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer. He is the younger brother of Princess Diana and the maternal uncle of Prince William and Prince Harry. Queen Elizabeth II is his godmother.
Carella Alun-Jones: Wife of James McGrigor, founder of McGrigor group, an organization that does consulting work with health insurers. Could not find anything about her besides this.
Jeremy & Deborah Alun-Jones: Jeremy is a CEO at ADM Capital, a large investment firm. Deborah Alun-Jones is an author and Jeremy’s wife.
Senor Vincente Alvarez: Likely Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council. Alvarez is also a Class C director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This is a position that is appointed by the Board of Governors.
Phillipe Amon: Owner and manager of SICPA, a Swiss company and universal leader that specializes in the printing of bank notes, passports, lottery tickets, and identity documents. SICPA literally prints money and passports.
Maurice & Roberta Amon: Maurice is Philippe’s brother. Maurice left SICPA, but may have had an equal role to Philippe had he stayed. Roberta Amon is Maurice’s ex-wife. He left her as she battled breast cancer.
Lisa Anastos: General Counsel for Payfone, a digital identity authentication network. Anastos previously worked in the law department of Goldman Sachs and General Counsel’s office of American Express.
Lulu Anderson: Uncertain. Only lead found were a few pictures of a woman with the same name at a party as a guest of Roger Waters (Pink Floyd).
Robert & Alex Appleby: Robert is co-founder of ADM Capital, a large investment firm.
Maite Arango: Vice-President, Board of Directors for Grupo Vips. Grupo Vips manages Starbucks, TGIFridays, and other chain companies. Arango is also Chairman of the Board for Ashoka, a company that ironically focuses on the betterment of today’s youth. Ashoka even has its own schools.
Victor Arellano: Victor Arellano Jr. is Vice Chairman of the Board of Bacardi. He’s a 5th generation descendant of the founder of Bacardi.
Joaquin Fernandez de Arion: Spanish royalty. The 10th Duke of Arion. His mother is Princess Beatriz zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Married to Diana Langes-Swarovski, the great-great granddaughter of Daniel Swarovski, founder of the crystal manufacturer.
Fernando Arion: Joaquin’s brother. Also Spanish royalty but could not find any other information.
Arthur & Cathy Armstrong: Arthur is co-author of Net Gain (1997) which focused on Web-based business models. He is currently executive director at Debevoise and Plimpton LLP, a high-end international law firm.
Herve & Marina Aron: Herve Aaron is the president of Didier Aaron Inc., a premier art gallery.
Lorinda Ash: Fine art dealer. Also, ex-wife of Peter Ezersky, current director at Hargray Holdings LLC (provider of telecommunication services) and Grupo Corporativo (food and agriculture provider in Spain. Associated with Grupo Vips). Possible ties with Maite Arango.
Ashley & Allegra Hicks: Ashley is the Godson of Prince Philip, second cousin of Prince Charles, and an interior designer. He and Allegra are now divorced.
Nick & Ari Ashley: Nick is in home design. Ari is a photographer.
Vittorio & Charlotte Assaf: Vittorio is co-founder of Serafina Restaurant Group.
Mr. Simone Astaire: Hollywood and British Royal Family agent. Specializes in representation, celebrity endorsement, and public relations.
Viscount William Astor: Member of the House of Lords, which creates and shapes laws. There are approximately 800 current members. Chairman of television production company Silvergate Media. Member of the Astor family, which specialized in the fur trade, real estate, and drug smuggling in the early 19th century.
Helene Atkin: Niece of Robert Maxwell (media magnate, father of Ghislaine Maxwell, and suspected Mossad agent).
Mike & Ami Atkin: Almost no information found.
Jose Aznar: Prime Minister of Spain from 1996-2004. Father-in-law of Alejandro Agag, mentioned above. Used public funds for personal means. Granted a posthumous medal of Civil Merit to a high-profile member of the Francoist government who was infamous for torturing people.
Jean Baddeley: Former personal assistant to Robert Maxwell. Maxwell left her a £100,000 legacy when he died.
Peter Bahrke: Technology investor. Co-founder of Aecor Partners, an advisory firm that provides financial advice to corporations.
Danny Baker: Could be the recently fired BBC host, but the phone number, starting with area code 917, makes no sense since that is a NYC area code.
Shahriar Bhaktiar: Could be a real estate investor in Switzerland, but the area code does not make sense.
Andre Balazs: Real estate mogul and entrepreneur. Owns several hotels throughout NYC and London, as well as residential real estate. He was engaged to actress Uma Thurman for three years and dated Chelsea Handler for two years later on. Allegedly groped Amanda Anka (Jason Bateman’s wife) at a party he hosted for Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux.
Alec Baldwin: Popular American actor.
Oxford Balliol College: Ghislaine Maxwell’s alma mater.
George & Alice Bamford: Brother and sister. Offspring of Sir Anthony & Lady Carole Bamford (listed below). George is a successful luxury watch manufacturer.
Sir Anthony Bamford and Lady C: Anthony is a billionaire British businessman. Chairman of JCB, which provides equipment for construction, agriculture, etc. Has donated more than £4m personally and through JCB companies to the Conservative Party. Has close ties to David Cameron, Tony Blair, and Prince Charles. Bamford was mentioned in the Panama Papers as having offshore accounts. Lady Carole Bamford is his wife and a successful businesswoman.
Doug Bands: Doug Band was a longtime adviser to Bill Clinton. He had a substantial part in the creation and inner workings of The Clinton Foundation. Purchased David Rockefeller’s old house in New York City for $20 million. Has been called “the key architect in Clinton’s post-presidency” (
Clive Bannister: Former CEO and Managing Director at HSBC. Current CEO of Phoenix Group Holdings, one of the largest insurance providers in the UK.
Javier Banon: Bañón is a Founding Partner at Trilantic Capital Management LLC. Was a principal (higher up) at Lehman Brothers and previously worked at Deutsche Bank as a Managing Director. Trilantic was founded by five partners who had all worked together at Lehman Brothers.
Nicholas & Gretel Barham: Gretel Barham (Gretel Packer) is the daughter of Kerry Packer, a deceased Australian media mogul worth billions. Both Gretel and younger brother James are billionaires. Nick Barham is Gretel’s ex-husband and a British financier.
Peter Barnes: Entrepreneur and environmentalist.
Craig Barnett: Managing Director of PJ Solomon, a financial advisory firm and investment bank.
Hillary Bastone: No information found
Hillary Batstone: No information found.
Tim & Natasha Batstone: Both directors of H.B. Leisure Holdings Ltd., which focuses on skill games, arcades, amusement parks, etc.
Lorenzo Baumer: High end jeweler.
Lord & Lady Beaumont: Likely refers to the late Tim Beaumont of Whitley and his wife, Baroness Mary Rose. Tim was a UK politician in the Liberal Party and, later on, the Green Party. Six generations of his paternal side sat in the House of Commons (source: Irish Times) He was also an Anglican priest. Mary Rose is the cousin of Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon and (now deceased) husband of Princess Margaret.
Tamara Beckwith: English socialite.
Lisa Belzberg: Ex-wife of Seagram heir Matthew Bronfman and former sister-in-law of Clare and Sara Bronfman, who were both involved in NXIVM, a cult that focused on sexual slavery. Belzberg reportedly had a sexual relationship with Bill Clinton in 2002 while still with Matthew Bronfman.
Steven Benson: No information found.
Baron Bentinck: Dutch and British nobility.
Nicolas Berggruen: Billionaire investor and founder and president of the Berggruen Institute, a think tank that hopes to “shape political, economic and social institutions for the 21st century.” Vague. Berggruen, according to, “puts more trust in elites than voters” and suggested that “the Senate should be appointed rather than elected.”
Bill Berkman: A businessman, entrepreneur, and investor in communications, media technology, and energy industries.
Tara Bernard: Possibly refers to the financial reporter from the New York Times, but the 07 country code at the beginning of the phone number does not make sense. Could also be Tara Bernerd, a high end interior designer in Britain.
Martyn Birchall: Investment banker and businessman who worked as former director at Citi and Merrill Lynch.
Robin Birley: Businessman and entrepreneur, mostly known for his private members’ clubs.
Debbie & Bola Von Bismarck: Leopold (“Bolle”) von Bismarck is the great-grandson of Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of Germany. Debbie is a former model and Leopold’s wife. Model Kate Moss is currently engaged to their son, Nikolai.
Vanessa von Bismarck: Cofounder of BPCM, a public relations firm that specialized in fashion, beauty, and wine & spirits. Great-great-granddaughter of Otto von Bismarck.
Jean Marc Bisson: Not much to be found. Possibly a low-level actor, but that doesn’t feel right.
Jean Paul Bjorlin: Likely refers to a music instructor at Columbia and Barnard College.
Conrad & Barbara Black: Conrad Black was a newspaper publisher. He controlled Hollinger International, which published the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph, most Australian newspapers, The Jerusalem Post (Israel), and The National Post (Canada). Conrad was recently pardoned by his friend, Donald Trump, after serving time for fraud. Black was once a Steering Committee member of The Bilderberg Group. Barbara Black is a journalist. She is Conrad’s 2nd wife.
Blogs & Jill Blacker: No information found.
David Blaine: World famous magician. Allegedly raped former model Natasha Prince in 2004. Did not face charges. Earlier this year, New York law enforcement said that they were investigating Blaine for (allegedly) sexually assaulting at least two women.
Tony Blair: Former UK PM.
Mike Bloomberg: Former Mayor of New York City. Billionaire businessman.
Samantha Boardman: Attending Psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College. Founder of Has connections with the wealthy.
Serena Boardman: New York realtor. Named one of the 10 best real estate agents in NYC by Samantha Boardman’s sister. Also has tremendous connections.
Johnnie & Sophie Boden: Johnnie Boden is a clothing entrepreneur.
Daniele Bodini: Serves as Chairman Emeritus of American Continental Properties Group (ACP), which focuses on asset and wealth management. Bodini also serves as a Member of Board of Overseers at Columbia Business School and is the ambassador of the Republic of San Marino to the United Nations.
Edouard de Boisgelin: Holding company CEO out of Paris.
Pierre de Boisguilbert: Very little information found. Possibly refers to a former press director located in Paris.
Annabelle Bond: British socialite. Her father, John Bond, was the Group Chairman of HSBC.
Andrea & Gioia Bonomi: Andrea Bonomi is the founder of Investindustrial Limited, an asset management private equity firm. He also served on the management board and as Chairman of Banca Popolare di Milano.
Nicholas Bookis: President of Topside Shipping Inc.
Mark & Lauren Booth: Mark Booth was CEO of BSkyB (owner of Sky TV). His wife, Lauren, is an artist.
Christina A. Boothe: No information found.
Paulo Borgese: The only thing that might make sense is Prince Paolo Borghese, who died in 1985.
Michael Borrico: Founder and CEO of Certified Construction.
Hon Bruce & Penelope Bossom: Bruce Bossom is a real estate tycoon who co-founded Orion Capital Managers. Penelope Bossom is involved with several businesses, but none of them are wildly successful.
Sylvianne Boucherie: No information found except for a researcher who write scientific articles about the human body.
Rick Bourke: Actually Frederic Bourke, co-founder of Dooney and Bourke, a famous handbag manufacturer. Bourke went to jail in 2013 for bribing the Azerbaijan government in order to rig the auction for ownership of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR).
Hamish Bowles: Editor-at-large for Vogue magazine.
Peretti Brachetti: Ferdinando Brachetti Peretti. Nobility. Son of Count Aldo Maria Brachetti-Peretti. Co-owner of Italian oil company, API.
Hugo Brachetti: Also co-owner of Italian oil company, API. Ferdinando’s brother.
Caroline Braine: Some relation of Katie Braine. Possibly her daughter.
Ms. Katie & Serge Braine: Serge Crasnianski is a nuclear physicist and inventor who made a ton of money as CEO of Photo-ME Intl PLC, which specializes in photo booths. It is unclear whether he lives with Kate or if she is his wife. Kate is a sculptress.
Ben Bram: 2x Grammy award-winning a cappella arrangeproduceentrepreneur (according to his Twitter account).
Tony Brand: Assistant General Manager of Gucci. Has also worked with Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Prada, and other companies.
d’Adda Brandolini: Nobility. Tons of money. See below.
Nuno & Muriel Brandolini: Muriel Brandolini is a famous interior designer who has worked with Matt Lauer, the Crown Prince and Princess of Greece, and others. Nuno is a banker and (shockingly) comes from money and nobility.
Peter Brandt: Brant is an American industrialist who focuses mainly on print media.
Richard Branson: Billionaire who founded Virgin group (Virgin Airlines, Virgin megastores). In 2017, a backup singer for Joss Stone claimed that Branson sexually assaulted her on his private island.
Flavio Briatore: Italian businessman who used to manage two Formula One racing teams.
Julia Broadhurst: Bra designer from South Africa.
Louis Albert de Broglie: French prince and entrepreneur.
Edgar Bronfman Jr.: Seagram’s heir. Half-brother of Clare and Sara Bronfman (NXIVM sex cult). In addition to being a billionaire business tycoon, his father, Edgar Bronfman Sr., was the leader of the World Jewish Congress, This group has links to the Rothschilds and the Vatican.
Christopher & Amanda Brooks: Amanda Brooks is the former creative director at Barneys. Her husband, Christopher, is an artist.
Miranda Brooks: Contributing editor to Vogue and successful landscaper.
Chris & Alison Brown: Alison Chace is an unsuccessful actress. Christopher Brown is the founder of Global Emerging Markets (GEM), an investment firm.
James & Lucinda Bruce: James is a businessman who comes from nobility. His father was a baron. His 2nd wife, Lucinda, is a producer.
Jean-Luc Brunel: Modeling scout. Co-founder of modeling agency MC2. Helped smuggle in underage girls for Epstein and others.
Tania Bryer: CNBC host.
Joan Juliet Buck: Former editor-in-chief of French Vogue turned actress.
Jimmy & Jane Buffett: Jimmy Buffett is a world famous singer, most notably for the song “Margaritaville.”
Bartle Bull: Best known as a journalist who writes about the Middle East. Has written articles for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and many other publications. Bull is also a partner at Northern Gulf Partners, an investment and financial advisory firm that holds lots of sway in Iraq.
Hamish & Emma Bullough: Hamish is an ex-managing director at Citigroup.
Ron Burkle: Billionaire founder of Yucaipa, an investment firm that specialized in buying and selling supermarket chains. Had close ties with Bill Clinton. According to Los Angeles Times, “Bill Clinton’s bromance with Burkle invited scandal.” The LA Times describes how “unverified reports of the two men jetting around in a Burkle 757 filled with attractive young women leached from the tabloids to the mainstream media.” This could be the reason for Burkle’s falling out with Hillary, as he had nothing to do with her campaign.
Jules Burney: Chairman of Stockcube ltd, a financial research company.
Martin Burtril: No information found.
Candace Bushnell: Author of Sex and the City.
Arki Busson: Real name is Arpad Busson. He is a French financier who founded EIM Group, which specializes in hedge funds. It should be noted that Busson used to host the ARK charity dinner every year, which has drawn the likes of Bill Clinton and Prince William. Busson is a founding chairman of ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) charity, which specializes in educating underprivileged children. ARK has dozens of its own schools in the UK.
**I made an entire thread dedicated to Busson's frightening connections and possible role in international pedophilia rings here:
Charlie Butler: No information found.
Terri Button: No information found.
Robert Byng: Descendant of admirals, viscounts, and earls. Current property owner of Wrotham Park, an English country house that hosts social events for the wealthy and has been used as a filming location for many movies.
Alain de Cadenet: Former Formula One racer. Current television personality for ESPN and Speed channel.
Jason Calacanis: Internet entrepreneur. Dot-com millionaire.
Nicky Caledon: The 7th Earl of Caledon. Received his knighthood in 2015 when he was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO).
Mario/Ariadne Calvo-Platero: Mario Calvo-Platero is an Italian journalist and served as editor of the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore for 30 years. Ariadne is the daughter of Lord and Lady Beaumont, listed above.
Roddy Cambell: Campbell is a jack-of-all-trades businessman. He has worked in marketing, networking, and consulting.
Alistar Cambell: Alistair worked closely with Tony Blair for years, first as a spokesman and campaign director, then as Downing Street Press Secretary, and finally as Downing Street Director of Communications and spokesman for the Labour Party. He resigned in 2003 during the inquiry into the death (murder) of David Kelly.
Giancarlo Camerana: Works in real estate and wealth management as an Associate Partner for Shohet & Cie SA
Cammy: Likely Cammy Kinney, a former model turned photographer.
Naomi Campbell: Internationally known supermodel.
Brooke & Emilio del Campo: Likely meant to be Emilio Ocampo, an economist and financial expert who has worked for Chase Manhattan Bank, Salomon Brothers, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley.
Andrew de Candole: British entrepreneur and real estate mogul.
Nicholas Candy: British luxury property developer.
Caprice: Likely refers to Caprice Bourret, a former model and former love interest of Prince Andrew around 2000-2001.
Massimo & Sara Carello: Massimo is an Italian businessman who has served as CEO of Fiat UK, Diners Club UK, and Independent Director of Canadian Overseas Petroleum.
William & Carina Carey: No information found.
Camilla Carlbom: Chairwoman of Carlbom Shipping ltd. Carlbom Shipping looks after the interests of vessels and cargo owners.
Carmine: Not enough information.
Barbara Carrera: Former model and actress, most notably for the Bond flick, Never Say Never Again, where she played a villain. Carrera’s first marriage was to Otto Kurt Freiherr von Hoffman, a German nobleman. Her 2nd marriage was to Uva Harden (born 1941), a German fashion model and actor. Her 3rd and final marriage was to Nicholas Mark Mavroleon, a Greek shipping magnate. After her third marriage, Carrera was involved with Henry Percy, 11th Duke of Northumberland. Lots of international nobility and magnates.
Sophie Caruth: Former literary agent at William Morris. Formerly held a senior manager position at Mason Rose, a sales and marketing company.
Michel & Charlene Carvalho: Michel is a British financier and vice-chairman of investment banking at Citigroup, primarily in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken is the Heineken heiress. She inherited $4.2 billion when her father died in 2002.
Guido Casagrande: Company director of IU Holdings ltd, a financial services holding company.
Simon Case: Private Secretary to Prince William as of 2018. Previously was in charge of figuring out the border issue in Northern Ireland and Ireland post-Brexit. British civil servant for over a decade, including as a policy adviser for the Ministry of Defence.
George & Pauline Case: Pauline Case (maiden name Pauline Astor) is a Viscountess and daughter of William Astor, 3rd Viscount Astor. No information could be found on George Case.
Debbie Castaneda: Former Ms. Colombia (1996). She had a relationship with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and has been accused of being a “bunga-bunga” girl, a sex party girl for Berlusconi. This information was gained through wiretaps.
Alby & Victoria Cator: Albemarle Cator is a British banker and financial adviser.
Mark & Mini Cecil: Not much information found. Mark Cecil may be the founder of United Wealth Advisors Group LLC.
Aurelia Cecil Stephenson: Founder of Aurelia Public Relations. Her client list included Salvatore Ferragamo, Krug Champagne, TAG Heuer watches, and Gianni Versace.
Dr. Mark Cecil: Founding Partner at Jabre Capital Partners, a hedge fund company. Close friend of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Fabrizio Cerina: Chairman of international investment banking group Crédit des Alpes.
Gian Carlo Cerutti: Italian banker.
Vikram Chatwal: Actomodel/movie producer and hotel owner in New York City and Miami. Bill Clinton, Prince Nikolaos of Greece, Naomi Campbell, and P. Diddy attended his wedding.
John & Lucy Chenevix-Trench: Former COO of Morgan Stanley securities.
Gianluca Cicogna: CEO, CFO, and President of Beauty Brands Inc. Brother of Gianfranco Cicogna.
Gioconda Cicogna: Mother of Gianluca and Gianfranco. Interior designer.
Gianfranco Cicogna: Gianfranco Cicogna Mozzoni was a business leader, a Count by birth, the Ambassador for the Order of Malta at its embassy in Kenya. His grandfather, Giuseppe Volpi, was known as “Italy’s Rockefeller.” Gianfranco died flying a plane at an air show in 2012.
Marina Cicogna: Countess. Granddaughter of Kingdom of Italy Finance Minister Giuseppe Volpi, one of the richest and most influential men in Italy in the early 1900s.
Pietro & Alejandra Cicognani: Pietro is a high-end architect based out of NYC.
Lindka Cierach: British fashion designer. Her clients include the British Royal Family.
Giuseppa Cipriani: The main business manager of Cipriani S.A., whose holdings include 55 Wall Street (the whole building) and Cipriani restaurants worldwide (most notably in NYC).
Gustavo & Patty Cisneros: Gustavo is a billionaire Venezuelan businessman and Chairman of Grupo Cisneros, one of the largest privately held media entertainment organizations in the world.
Amadeo Clavarino: A real estate investor with properties in Milan, New York, London, Berlin, and St. Moritz.
Isabel Clavarino: Also known as Isabelle Harvie-Watt, Clavarino is the former managing partner at Spring Studios, a production and branding agency and was Giorgio Armani’s key point person for the press, media and celebrities. Last year, Clavarino was named Valentino’s Chief Marketing Officer.
John & Alice Fay Cleese: John Cleese is an actor best known for his role in Monty Python.
Graham & Emma Clempson: Vice Chairman, Executive Board at MidOcean Partners, a private equity and investment firm. Emma is an English radio and television presenter.
Lucy Clive: Girlfriend of Kevin Maxwell, Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother.
Larry Coben: Former Senior Principal of Sunrise Capital Partners. Currently Chairman of the Board at NRG Energy, a large energy company that serves 3 million people in the U.S. NRG also has its name on several sports stadiums in Texas.
Mandy Cochrane: No information found.
Dalit Cohen: Ex-girlfriend of Ian Maxwell, Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother.
Peter Cohen: No information found.
Jo Coleman: No information found.
Nicholas Coleridge: Chairman of Condé Nast Britain. Condé Nast is a media giant and the parent company of Allure, Architectural Digest, Ars Technica, Backchannel, Bon Appétit, Brides, Condé Nast Traveler, Epicurious, Glamour, Golf Digest, GQ, Pitchfork, Self, Teen Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, W and Wired.
Jeffrey Colle: Real estate developer, specifically in the Hamptons.
Phil & Orianne Collins: Phil Collins is music royalty.
Henrietta Conrad: Co-founder of Princess Productions LTD, a television programming company.
Susannah & Sten Ber Constantine: Susannah is a fashion journalist, author, and television presenter. Her husband, Sten Bertelsen was one of the creators of Death Cigarettes, a fairly popular British brand in the 1990s.
Clive Cooke: Securities executive who is now the head of sales in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for a leading technology company.
Rachel Cordle: Daughter of John Cordle, a British politician. Sister of Rupert Cordle and Marina Cowdray.
Rupert Cordle: Founder of Cordles, a residential building contractor in London. Brother of Rachel and Marina Cordle.
Fernando de Cordova Hohenlohe: Spanish nobility. Current Marquis of Alboloduy.
Harry Cotterall: Chairman of Fisher German, a property consulting firm in England.
Martine de Courcel: No information found.
Marina Cowdray: Wife of Michael Pearson, 4th Viscount of Cowdray. Daughter of John Cordle. Sister of Rachel and Rupert Cordle.
Colin Cowie: A lifestyle guru, television personality, author, interior designer, and party planner for the wealthy.
Sophie Crabbe: No information found.
Alaistar Cudro: No information found.
Boykin R. Curry: Boykin Curry is a partner at Eagle Capital, an investment firm based in New York. Mr. Curry is a co-founder of Public Prep, a group of charter schools in New York City. He is also a board member of Alliance for School Choice and a co-founder of Democrats for Education Reform
Amanda Cutter & Christopher Brooks: Listed earlier under Christopher & Amanda Brooks. At least Epstein kept up with his black book.
submitted by LearningIsListening to conspiracy [link] [comments]

2019.05.17 06:39 kittehgoesmeow What A Day: Missouri Loves Company by Brian Beutler, Priyanka Aribindi & Crooked Media (05/16/19)

"I can only conclude that they are afraid to give me the opportunity"—Eric Swalwell, who wants to do a Fox News presidential town hall, but they aren’t interested...

Immunity By Congressional Ignore-ity

The mechanisms of presidential accountability have all failed so badly that Donald Trump now abuses his power in ways that would cripple past presidents and the political establishment completely ignores it.
On Wednesday night, Trump pardoned Conrad Black, the Canadian-born right-wing publisher who spent years in federal prison for fraud and obstruction of justice. But Black isn’t just guilty of crimes that Trump himself has committed. He also just wrote a fawning new biography called Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.
More importantly, Black is Trump’s one-time business partner. In 2001, Black’s publishing company struck a deal with Trump to allow him to build a skyscraper on the site of the Chicago Sun-Times’s old headquarters.
The pardon power is absolute, which means Congress can’t stop Trump from using it while he’s president, or pass laws to limit it. But abusing the pardon power—as Trump did to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and as he has to absolve his political and business allies of felonies—is cut-and dry impeachable.
When President Bill Clinton pardoned a donor in his final hours in office, it set off an enormous scandal, and ended up under investigation by the Justice Department. A day after Trump pardoned Black, nobody in the Democratic leadership made an issue of it, and it fell off the front pages almost immediately.
The Black pardon caps off a week in which Trump’s personal lawyers argued in court that Congress has no legal right to investigate his personal crimes or public corruption. His White House counsel followed suit by informing Congress that Trump will not cooperate with any requests or subpoenas stemming from Congress’s interest in the Mueller report.
At her weekly Capitol briefing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called this position “outrageous” but then said “I don’t have to have a position” on whether Democrats should take more aggressive steps to hold the Trump administration accountable. “We want to see what we can get respectfully,” she said. “First we ask. Then we subpoena friendly. Then we subpoena otherwise. And then we see what we get. So let’s not leapfrog over what we think should be the path that should be taken.”
That model has completely broken down, but Democrats haven't come to terms with it. In an alternate universe, Democratic leaders might have announced Thursday morning that they intended to tack the Black pardon on to their ongoing impeachment inquiry. In this universe, Trump felt completely free to pardon Conrad Black, and Pelosi got zero questions about it.

Under the Radar

The Missouri Senate has passed a bill to ban abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, and to punish doctors who perform abortions after eight weeks with up to 15 years in prison. The bill has yet to pass the state’s Republican-held House, but has the support of its Republican governor. GOP legislatures in multiple states have passed similar “heartbeat bills,” and just yesterday Alabama enacted the most draconian abortion ban in the country.
If you live in Missouri, call your state House Representatives ASAP and tell them to vote no on HB126. You can also:

What Else

The Trump administration has introduced a proposal to overhaul the immigration system that would prioritize immigrants who meet certain educational and skill requirements at the expense of the family-based system America has used for decades. Currently, immigrants admitted to the U.S. are allowed to bring their spouses and children with them, but under Trump’s proposed rules, people who want to immigrate to the U.S. will be required to be proficient in English, fulfill specific skills or jobs needs, meet certain education standards, and pass a civics test. Trump has promised that this plan will be a top legislative priority for him in 2021 if he wins re-election and Republicans win back the House.
The Department of Homeland Security has banned all commercial and cargo flights to Venezuela, which will severely limit our ability to provide humanitarian and medical aid to Venezuelans while their country’s political crisis continues.
President Trump made over $400 million from his properties and businesses in 2018, which he now operates and markets in conjunction with his official duties. It’s just so gross.
New York City, NY, Mayor Bill de Blasio just became the 23rd Democrat running for president.
There is no evidence that Joe Biden or his son Hunter did anything wrong in Ukraine, according to the country's prosecutor general—a direct repudiation of President Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and other associates who have pressured the country to gin up a criminal investigation of the 2020 Democratic primary candidate they reportedly fear the most.
A two-and-a-half year old Guatemalan boy has become at least the fourth migrant child since December to die after being apprehended at the southern border. He spent three days in federal custody, before being transferred to a hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia, and died weeks later.
The EPA’s inspector general says the agency should ask former administrator Scott Pruitt to reimburse the agency for $124,000 he spent on improper travel expenses before he resigned in disgrace amid over a dozen scandals.
Uber will introduce “Quiet Mode” on black car and SUV rides to let your driver know you’re not in the mood to chat. Cool, do “Pay Your Drivers a Living Wage Mode” next.

What A Sponsor!

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You've Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me

The Trump administration has spent more than $62 million meant to help U.S. farmers struggling amid his trade war with China to bail out a Brazilian meatpacking company owned by two brothers who have confessed to bribing hundreds of officials in Brazil. That may help explain why some “great patriot farmers” who voted for Trump in 2016 say they’ll “never vote for him again."

Is That Hope I Feel?

President Trump has reportedly told his acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan that he does not want to go to war with Iran. He has also reportedly grown impatient with his national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have been trying to steer him into a war with Iran against his wishes. As Ben Rhodes observes, the Trump administration’s Iran policy has been steeped in lies since day one, propounded by advisers who have been agitating for war with Iran for years. Whether or not Trump has finally caught on, there are still apparently people in the administration who realize war with Iran would be a disaster, and they are pushing back. We’re not going to war today, and that is good news...


Will Stancil on Twitter: "Allow me to sum up Bill Barr's brilliant strategy for helping Trump get away with everything"
submitted by kittehgoesmeow to FriendsofthePod [link] [comments]

2019.02.11 00:53 LordDeathScum Degradation of state

I live currently in Maracaibo, Zulia (its in venezuela) and wanted to explain various issues that affect our daily lives. And the continuous collapse of our society.
If you want i can start anywhere and with facts and in some accounts first hand experience! Because in reddit people seem to have the misconception that it is only "a propaganda attack" and maduro is in a way "legitimate".Both total bullshit. Why you ask? well he cheated and the program that runs the elections. He used Smartmatic the main program that supervises and recollects the votes of the venezuelan people .The company admits That the latest series of elections were a sham, This system has been in the venezuelan election system for a long time so There is a strong possiblity That various elections of the Venezuelan people Might have been rigged.
Of course they only admitted the latest frauds because they want to implement this election system in other country's.
Hell few people support maduro on an international level, but very few seem to be Venezuelans.
You can find a lot of similar videos like this online.
81.9% of consulted partys agree that juan guaido is their president.
Size of sample: 999 Voters Method of Recolection: Telephone Test Subjects: Population male or Female over 18 years old % of error =3.4%
a lot later but still relevant with info on population Poll Moderater: MegaAnalisis total population: 1.090 Process of choseing population: Random male and female population Chosen at random one consultation per house hold.
79.5% percent of the people asked want Nicolas maduro to leave. 80.7% of the population did not trust the presidential elections that was going on. 80.2% Did not agree that Maduro should rerun for presidential election again
Of the oposition what members do you least trust: Henry falcon won with 30% (noted that he was the oposition in the presidential election)
As you can see the general overview is that The great majority of the Venezuelan people agree that Juan Guaido is our elected president, For americans i know how hard it is to grasp the idea of how it is done but for the eyes of the Venezuelan It was out there for the crowd to see.
The CNE is the Consejo Nacional Electoral the ruling body that oversees the Elections of the venezuelan people
The president of the CNE by law for a clean election has to have no political inclination and mantain itself neutral obviously
Since 2003 Since Fransico Carrasquero (2003-2004) Every appointed CNE ruler has had tendencies to support chavez, Carrasquero being the least known. He held the position since 2003-2004 have nither been Impartial Nor FAIR.
Fransico Carrasquero implemented the Famous Smartmatic a software automatic system that counted the votes of the Venezuelan Population for elections. Who later became a puppet for chavez in the tribunal supremo de justicia in 2008 (totally impartial)
With Jorge Rodriguez as Rector principal during Carrasqueros era, who later became president of CNE during 2005. Then he became in 2007 Vice-President of Hugo Chavez (conflict of interest)
After that Tibisay Lucena comes in She was rector principal during Jorge rodriguez era, After this she mantained a monopoly on the election system being president form 2006-2019.
WHAT!!! a total monopoly for so many years.... yes, and you wonder why the polls say that venezuelan do not trust the venezuelan election system.
A sociologist and know sympathizerof the left since her years in the university and right now living with luxury thanks to the goverment.
So how do you Win a race where they chose the winner, even before the race starts? The polls never worked on a Venezuelan Election
I always remember stalin's quote when i think about our Venezuelan Elections

I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.

Ok hmmm where do i even start to describe the dire situation my country is in? Lets make a massive review from what i've read, seen from accounts of friends, and the news ( because of course as a dictator you never want the real news to leak out).
He shuts down the local news with conatel (goverment information supervition agency) daily to make sure, or a at least try to cover the truth from being know to the general population.
Sadly one of my favourite talk shows was also shut down due to the radio station being censored to conatel.
well I can talk of this from first hand experience because my girlfriend is working en el hospital del universitario. A structure that was resembled to be a model of a Canadian hospital ( well legend says it was like this hell they say that the company they paid was to resemble a canadian hospital )
Do you know we have regular blackouts? ohh but not your normal black outs. 2 hour programmed black outs and sometimes, non-programmed black outs. Or sometimes 8 hour long blackouts.
Imagine my girlfriend ventilating a 10 year old kid and taking turns with another doctor because of the failing electrical system.
That is if there is a doctor! i mean there are in some hospitals, but not all of them. My GF is super overworked due to the lack of staff because of the Exodus Doctor have been fleeing the country. Sometimes coming home crying from the conditionas she is working in, I admire her dedication but it is messed up to have to see on a daily basis people dieing From soemthing that is preventable.
Or if you have reactive (chemicals not sure what to call it) to be able to do any required medical test. Of course this varies from time to time. But 90% of the time you will not be able to do the medical tests you need.
Lets talk about the food issues that there seems to be a misconception, yes there is food. But very expensive to the average Venezuelan due to that fact that we import everything you wonder why? well here we go!
lets go to the main area were us Venezuelans mostly suffer FOOD. This is the biggest concern for the average venezuelan household: will i e able to feed my family today?. Food production in the country is a huge problem, and not everyone suffers from it that is false even i admit it. Thank god never have but my diet has really changed from semi expensive items (like sasuage,Candy , peperoni you get the picture) to just the basic foods.
Essentially the poor and middle class are skipping meals, the nutrition of venezuelans is now based mostly on carbohydrates. Protien is expensive, Maybe the mst expensive thin to buy!
To give you an idea minimum wage is currently at 19.800. 30 eggs cost at least 8.000bsf . Half a minimum wage of a worker, Imagine that you work just to eat and still dont have enough money to fulfill that. Thousands upon thousands of Venezuelan family's are in this situation and it is unbearable.
But its the goverment fault! WHY you ask and HOW?
Chavez and maduro through the process of expropriation took thousands of productive agricultural farms and made them completly unproductive.
Hell there were no conditions for the ones they did not expropriate. So the other farmers protested and guess what!? Boom he also took thier lands just for protesting. Of course just to clarify they did not tak all the farms, just the bigest and most important ones. At the hands of the goverment they ruined the production of these stolen lands.
Ok we covered a small issues of the farming territory, I can go on and on. But there is also another Big influential factor of the lack of food creation, they expropriation (siezed) agroislena the biggest provider of seeds and agricultural equipment and took it to the ground.
They provided close to 100% of the markets demand of corn seeds. Imagine what happens if you ruin it. Yes Hunger and famine.
Ok we went over this aspect ,Lets continue to the process production aspect.
Well here a LOT A LOTTTTTT of companys that process food were expropriated, so i will mention some that come off the top of my head. But all of them face the same end: A total complete unproductive Company.
Lacteos los Andes: One of the biggest companys that produced food till chavez expropriated it. Production rates fell 58.5%, this was one of my personal favorite food production companys till it fell to the state.
Monaco: A company that provided harina de maiz a staple food of our country not as big as polar but is up there, also produced flour. It was expropiado at 2008 now unproductive a reason of why there are problems with bread and other flour articles.
Now you can observe it was the goverments, due to lack of production !lets go over to some other important venezuelan companys destroyed by the goverment just for a quick economic overview.
PDVSA: wow this company is our pride and joy or at least was. It was our great oil industry. Even though they have not managed to destroy this monster of a company they are in process of destroying.
Well lets start to ask ourselves on of the main reasons it is failing, there is no qualified personal! who is gonna work in a company that pays very little? The capable professionals start to leave.
What does this cause in an oil company? Huge and dangerous consequences like the Amuy explosion 42 dead 156 injured. it was one of the biggest oil refinery plants in the country, it actually was one of the main production refinary in gasoline (thats why we have also incurring issues with gasoline.)
release of Toxic sulfuric gas to the atmostsphere and general population
Lower Production rates of oil:
Contamination: This one is actually huge, In lake maracaibo the contamination levels are through the roof, affecting heavily on the huge fish industry, look it up.
And the most evident Corruption
Hell the ex-president of pdvsa has a fortune Rafael Ramirez adn im not even mentioning Maria gabriela chavez, Daughter of Chavez, common soldier expresident turned into Multibillionare. At least some what fishy?
Freezing of drills:
Hell the last time they admitied they had 23.319 drills partially or completly frozen.
they pay thier debts by giving away unproductive drills.
The metallurgical company well dead completley Dead. IT WAS the 2nd most important metalurgic Processing plant in LATIN AMERICA.
Hell the worker are even protesting due to low pay and lack of conditions and production.
Did i mention that one time they managed or at least I suspect they killed the union worker leader of SIDOR after the reunion with the goverment fishy right? i mean this is a Narco goverment anything is possible. Maduro started criticizing him before the hit, imagine that so im guessing they had a falling out. And how does a suspected murder become the leader of the union?
On the economic side i can talk About hundreds of companys that the goverment expropriated And currently failing.
Petrolera Ameriven, Banco Confederado, Banco Canarias, Banco de Venezuela, Banco Federal, Banpro, Kellogs, Banorte, Bolívar Banco, Sidetur, Cada, Hipermercado Éxito, Hipermercado Cada, Fama de América, Café Madrid, Vengas, Empresas Diana, Cemex de Venezuela, Cementos Lafarge, Petrozuata, Agroisleña, Owens Illinois, Cantv, Holcim, Clorox, Kimberly – Clark, Sambil La Candelaria, Conferry, Cantv, Electricidad de Caracas, red de hoteles Hilton, teleférico Ávila Mágica al igual que un grupo de centrales azucareras.
Some are repeated I'm just to lazy to erase.
Water and electricity never gonna take that for granted again.
(50% desertion of students due to water crisis)
Electricity crisis but this is really not something new.
140 continuous hours without light in the zulia state
Venezuela Has TONNNNSSSS of natural gas yet either through lack of production or distribution SOMETIMES (not always i have to admit) their seems to be problems to obtain it for the general population, protests due lack of gas in rural area is VERY COMMON in Venezuela. Normally driving through the state of Falcon you will encounter 1 or 2 protests of a community lacking gas
like any communist state you start supervising and controling the education of your population, start making them ignorant and brain washed. And with the hunger thats going on, it is going to affect various generations of venezuelans!
Like any communist state you have to brainwash them young!
Antiimperialist homework just for kids!
That is of course if you find any teachers willing to teach, because trust me they win NOTHING and work in horrible conditions!
University's dont escape socialism either!
Drug trafficking
hell drug trafficking is a huge problem and not only that the nephews of president maduro are in jail for it !
Even the top military brass sell drugs and other illegal material
interested in this? look up the cartel de los soles the biggest drug traffincing empire the world might have seen, Makes Pablo Escobar look like an amatuer!!!
One of our biggest problema is the FARC and ELN in our national territory, these terrorist organization (without counting Hezbollah) continuously destabilize our neighbors especially our colombian brothers. They hide thier guns here and run illegal activity! All welcomed and protected by our Narco Goverment
They are winning money by controling the mines of Coltan and gold of our country. It seems to have unleashed a series of violence in the amazons All under goverment supervision.
a tupamaru is a Bolivian soldier as you can call it but not exactly. Its an average civilian with a gun armed by the goverment to cause harm and terrorize the population to not protest. They are in charge of attacking and harming opposition protestets I have FACED THEM PERSONALLY I HAVE HAD TO RUN IN MARCHES TO NOT GET SHOT.
Goverment lies
Wow these guys will blame anything on the US and pay HUGE amounts of money to blame them, some might be even true who knows at this rate!
but the nature of the narco-dictatorship knows no bounds and they are willing to blame the US every evil in the world how can I forget the famous HARRP reference that I will never forget a weather control program that attacks venezuela yes you heard it!
remember that our dictator also talked to chavez through a bird kinda reminds me of north Korea dont know why.
US sanctions affect Venezuelan Economy
wow how has maduro tried to say that they have affected the economy, since i dont know when. Total and utter lie US sanctions are JUST NOW affecting the economy, all previous US sanctions were affecting the regimens high level officers and goverment officials bank accounts! as you can see the economy collapsed DUE TO MISMANAGEMENT and CORRUPTION.
The US has nothing but affected just now. Plus with at least the other industries i mentioned you have a larger grasp of mismanagement that caused the economic collapse.
I want to highlight a very interesting stat, the venezuelan economy shrunk 50% in the last 5 years, what US sanctions caused that?
Justice System
Total and utterly broken. you killed someone? You know the right guy and you are free bro! . Want a divorce and wanna screw your wife over? just pay enough money to the judge.
Tarek william Saab is in charge of the DA but is totally bought, he has exclusives high contracts with pdvsa
He is both in charge of assigning your defandent in cse you face trail and both the DA cant imagine you ill get a good fair trail.
Maikel moreno president of the Supreme court ex-criminal, WHY AM I NOT SUPRISED!?.
1987 arrested due to the ties of a murder in cuidad bolivar. He was personally involved in the arrest of Simonovis a Asamblea Nacional Member (member of Congress for Americans) who was highly critical of the Goverment. He is currently held is the much feared Helicode prison
You were protesting Peacefully and no civilian court wants to process you? well the goverment will prosecute and sentence you in a military court by the way this is ILEGAL in ANY country.
A mall turned into a prison, A torture center for the dissidents of the goverment and opposition. We all fear going there. Here all manners of phiscological and physical torture are going on for people of the opposition, this deserves its own documentary. No Goverment that is considered DEMOCRATIC should hve a TORTURE CENTER.
Crime rates
Venezuela is not currently in an active war, yet reports of violent deaths are staggering. Various criminal organizations are active around the country.
yet due to massive migration, Even Venezuelan criminals are migrating and the criminal levels have dropped. You can even learn about el tren de Aragua (very famous) el picure confrontation. And members El Catire are even spreading crimes to neighboring peru.
Murder rates
Its hard to actually have a precise figure due to the fact that the goverment always tries to hide real figures and does not keep a register (because its not slighty convinient for them) 2017 has been reduced from 26.000 deaths , to 23.000 deaths in 2018.
But a lot a factors have changed the increasing tendencies of violence, One factor being the Venezuelan Exodus, the huge number of venezuelans leaving thier contry contributes to the lower number of victims in 2018.
Prison System
The prison system does not help at all. Murder is rampant inside the system and corruption is absolute. At times the criminals pay to be released for a while and then return the following day. I mean if you have a narco state all is possible.
There have been literal battles of the army vs the prisoners. These prisoners are able to GET HIGH CALIBER rifles And HAND GRENADES inside prison and on the seets. This is easy information to gain access to, search up Carcel Sabaneta, and Tocoron. There have been occasions where THE ARMY has had to go and kill the due to the fact that the police does not have the fire power to calm the riots.
Hell they even have Clubs inside, a restaurant and manage to bring in prostitutes all under the government eyes.
Venezuelan Exodus
This is something NO ONE can deny. By logic a person who has all his minimum requirements met. Who feels he lives in a functioning society, with a chance of a positive future should want to live in his country.
Then if all the media is inventing lies about the truth of venezuela! THEN WHY? are US venezuelans leaving by the thousands?!
An estimates 3 Million Venezuelans have left Hell my family is split. On my father side we are 9 cousins. I AM THE LAST ONE WHO STILL LIVES HERE. on my mothers side WE ARE THE LAST FAMILY LIVING IN VENEZUELA.
40% of the professional work force of Venezuela IS gone if not more, How are we supposed to build a society When the professional work force of Venzuela is fleeing?
THIS WILL ONLY CONTINUE WITH MADURO IN POWER. Sorry maybe i had to vent but trust me My Venezuela is not in the best of positions right now And i am missing a lot of things just investigate a little and careful what you read.
EDIT 1: Correction of gramatical errors will soon, Update this post With Examples of past dissidents and their deaths, and the Real Nature of US-Venezuela Oil relationship in the past years.
EDIT 2: updated and showed the surveys from respective companys that display the public opinion of unpopularity of nicolas maduro, Lack of trust in CNE, and Contradictions from Elections and Results
EDIT 3: Organized by topic and will continue to expand heavily (i dont live off this yet passionate and no im no political worker so i have to do this in my spare time.)
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2019.01.22 23:21 OneSpookySneakySquid [DIPLOMACY] Caracas to Beijing and Then to Space

From the desk of Nicolas Maduro
The Venezuelan government would like to train 3 Venezuelans to be astronauts and work with the Chinese Space agency. We are willing to cover their training either through direct payment or slightly discounted oil prices for a short period of time. Our main request is that we are allowed to choose the Venezuelans who will take part in the program, specifically 3 Venezuelan super models (actually pornstars) who are loyal to the Venezuelan government. We see this as an excellent opportunity to make waves in Venezuela and have it be seen as a great leap for the Venezuelan science community.
We would also like these astronauts to participate in any future Chinese space missions with large crews. Specifically, we would like to break a barrier and do something no one has ever produced before: Record a pornographic film in space. The three will be thought camera techniques and will film several pornographic films while rotating between participating and operating the camera. We believe this will produce an exceptional amount of money for its uniqueness.
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2018.12.15 00:40 QuantalyticsResearch In case you missed it: Major Crypto and Blockchain News from the week ending 12/14/2018

Developments in Financial Services

Regulatory Environment

General News

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2018.05.24 05:25 ran338 [Event] Plans for the IRIAF

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force boasts an impressive combat record, and the capability to field hundreds of airplanes in the defense of Iran. Actual combat squadrons amount to less than 200 combat aircraft, only 120 of it is realistically capable of even competing with regional neighbors, and certainly not with the air wings of United States, or Europe. This includes the domestic Saeqeh, MiG-29s, and what is left of pre-Revolution purchases from America. Our helicopters are all from pre-revolution, or reverse engineered civilian models. The IRIAF is tantamount to the defense of Iran, and the success of our military abroad. With support from the Supreme Leader, the IRIAF will be pursuing multiple avenues to increase the number of the aircraft serving, while also making the Air Force more modern. This will include domestic development already being pursued, foreign procurement, made both legally and illegally.
Domestic Development
There are a few projects underway which will yield positive results, and a few more that will begin within the next year. Development of the Qaher-313 Project has begun, with the intention to turn the propaganda project into a viable aircraft for service. The Qaher will become an air superiority fighter, with the intention to quickly launch and intercept enemy aircraft. At its earliest though, combat capable aircraft from the Qaher project won't be delivered until 2024. The derivative aircraft of the F-5, the Saeqeh can be produced domestically and will serve as the backbone of the fight wings of the IRIAF until replaced by more modern fighters, which can hopefully be procured through foreign means.
The IRIAF has launched a joint HESA-IAIO development project to deliver a helicopter airframe which can be used in multiple roles, including utility, transport, and light attack. Russian engineers will be asked to collaborate in the project. The airframe could be used to develop variants Russia can export, without risking their own private military hardware. The Api project, named for the Scythian god, will domestically develop an aircraft, within the next five years, to completely replace existing aircraft like the UH-1 Huey in service, and create a light transport and attack model to replace and augment the other older helicopters in Iranian service, like the AH-1 Cobras, and CH-47 Chinooks.
Further domestic development will include a strategic air lifter similar to the C-130 currently in Iranian Service. Inspiration and technology will be drawn from the Il-76 and the C-130, while development of the turbofan engine will be entirely domestic and independent, beginning immediately. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is overseeing the project, and Fars News Agency has reported that the ambitious timeline of 6 years has been set internally, and a budget of $3.5 billion established. These three projects will modernize and enhance the capabilities of the IRIAF, while foreign procurements will do the same far more rapidly. If a procurement through Venezuela or Iraq is complete, then another project will start to create a derivative of an American aircraft.
Foreign Procurement
Iran has both a need for combat aircraft, and various supporting aircraft. While Russia will be the key avenue for procuring aircraft, Iran will also reach out to Iraq and Venezuela for another type of procurement. The Russian arms package will look to procure a few squadrons worth of fighters, and some support aircraft, while also inviting Russia to collaborate on the Api helicopter project.
Iranian-Russian Arms Package
Aircraft Cost per Unit Number
Su-35S Multirole Fighter $45 million 30
YaK-130 Ground Attack/ Trainer $15 million 25
Ka-50 Attack Helicopter $16 million 32
The total cost for this arms package will be $2.1 billion, which will be paid from the revenue of the National Iranian Oil Company, and with Russian compliance delivered in the next three years. This new Iranian-Russian Arms Package helps to further develop the relations between the two countries, as our agendas become more aligned in the international stage.
[S]Iraq-Venezuela Offer
Iraq and Venezuela are two nations which are allies, diplomatic partners, and friends to the Iranian nation. They have also in the past bought the American designed and made, F-16 fighter. In the past Venezuela has threatened to sell their F-16s to Iran, while Iraq has never made this threat, Iran believes they could be willing to sell them 3-4 F-16s to use for their own purposes. Venezuela and Iraq will be approached with similar offers regarding the F-16s in those two nations air forces. Offering a substantial cost for each fighter purchased, and with their alignment, their acceptance of this offer seems more likely, but of course they may refuse out of fear of a vengeful action of the part of the Americans.
Venezuela will be offered $600 million USD for all twenty of their operational F-16s, while offering another $100 million for conversion training for a band of pilots who will become instructors on a few of the aircraft. Venezuela will also be offered another $100 million for the transportation of the F-16s, and the trouble the Venezuelans will face in selling their F-16s.
Iraq will be offered $120 million for 4 of their F-16s, to be used to create an Iranian version of the F-16. Iraq will also be offered $40 million for their troubles and transportation costs. Iraq will be reminded that we have similar interests and goals in the region, and by allowing Iran to develop her own version of the F-16, we can insure regional security, and the sovereignty of various nations throughout the Middle East.
The funds for this will come out of the Supreme Leader's personal budget which is funded by various bonyads, citizens, and oil revenue. This will be a drop in the bucket to the billion dollar fund used by the Supreme Leader of Iran.
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2018.02.20 03:32 AJC3RD News You May Have Missed for February 18th, 2018

newsyoumayhavemissed for February 18. To counteract the helplessness reading the news can bring on, we offer ways to take action. Global Citizen suggests ways to help the world’s poor and Sarah-Hope Parmeter of provides her detailed list of postcard possibilities to intervene in things here at home (with names and addresses of people to write, as well as background information). Links below.
Meanwhile for some grim humor, take a look at Tom Tomorrow’s cartoon this week. Thanks to TomDispatch for this and story links. Daily KOS Global Citizen What if Knits
Survivors of the Florida school shooting call for a walk-out March 24.
Young voices, survivors of the school shooting in Florida, have gained traction in the discussion around mass shootings. Survivor Emma González spoke eloquently at a rally, telling the New York Times, “This is the way I have to grieve.” She and four other survivors have called for a national demonstration March 24, as well as for politicians to stop taking contributions from the NRA. The Times also offers international comparison of guns and mass shootings, concluding that “The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.” Back in November, Scientific American identified four new laws that would cut down on the number of mass shootings: requiring permits to buy guns; banning anyone convicted of a violent crime from owning a gun; requiring anyone convicted of domestic violence to relinquish their guns; and banning anyone with two or more DUI convictions from owning guns. A day after the Florida shootings, the Oregon House of Representatives banned people convicted of domestic violence or stalking from owning guns. The shooter in Florida was apparently not connected to white-supremacist groups; Politico demonstrates how white-supremacist “sources” and 4chan users led reporters at ordinarily reliable news organizations to believe that he was, apparently as a prank. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s plan to cut millions of dollars from programs to increase safety in schools, reduce bullying and to help traumatized students recover appears to be going forward.Politico 1, NY Times 1, Politico 2, Oregon Live, Scientific American, Politico 3, NY Times 2
Crackdown on Protests
The criminalization of protestors is increasing, as has been evident since the 2017 inauguration, around which 59 people are still awaiting trial, and Standing Rock, where 800 people were arrested and 200 including journalists, face significant fines and years in jail. Since then, February a year ago, 56 bills have been introduced to restrict the rights of protestors; some have already become law while others are still pending. A link to the fundraiser for the inauguration protestors is in the comments. Also see some of the stunning photographs of Standing Rock take by Tracie Williams (a photographer who was arrested) at the link below. The Nation [Fundrazr](
Railroad leadership resigns amid double dipping inquiry
The top administration official for Railroad Safety resigned immediately following the train collision in South Carolina which killed 2 Amtrak employees, amid inquiries from Politico and other media outlets as to whether he was concurrently working for a PR firm in Mississippi, and not working fulltime for the Federal Railroad Administration.
The Federal Railroad Administration has not had a permanent leader in over a year. It has been besieged by catastrophic railroad accidents and a string of rail-related deaths. Heath Hall has been the acting chief administrator since June, but has also appeared on TV, and in print as a spokesperson for Madison County, MS.
Senate Democrats have blocked the confirmation of the nominee for the permanent FRA administrator role, a former railroad executive, Ron Batory. He has been blocked primarily due to his stated desire to introduce “performance based regulation.” This approach to self-regulation, particularly in an era of increased safety issues and infrastructure decline, has been a significant problem. Politico, De Smog Blog
And this isn’t the only “new” personnel problem for the administration.
Scott Pruitt has more travel issues–using first class travel because of “exceptional security needs,” also known as “people (constituents?) who talk to him on flights and aren’t always complimentary.” The Washington Post reports that in June, he and his aides spent $90,000 on domestic travel, including a $36,000 military charter to catch a NY flight to Rome, and first-class seats. Over $4000 was spent in two days in July for flights to Birmingham and Atlanta, well above what others in the role have spent on flights, and all above what government travel regulations indicate. Inquiries into the travel expenditures and high end hotel costs have been explained by the administration as originating from “paranoid democrats.” Washington Post, CNN
Because of course it doesn’t stop there. Veterans and others wonder who is running the Veterans Administration
The Inspector General has released a scathing report indicating that Vivieca Wright Simpson, the chief of staff (3rd most senior official) for Veterans Affairs, doctored an email to create a pretext for the government to cover expenses for Secretary Shulkin’s wife to accompany the Secretary on a trip to Europe with him last summer, at a cost of about $4300. The report also details how Shulkin improperly accepted a gift of tickets to Wimbledon last year.
Simpson “elected to retire” as a result, though she will not face criminal prosecution, the Department of Justice said. “Although the [Inspector General’s office] cannot determine the value VA gained from the Secretary and his delegation’s three and a half days of meetings in Copenhagen and London at a cost of at least $122,334, the investigation revealed serious derelictions by VA personnel,” the report concluded. Shulkin defended his department to the House Veterans Affairs Committee with a lengthy response, to include the accusation that his deputy’s emails had been hacked by political rivals in the administration. The ranking member of the committee, Tim Waltz, D-MN, said he would work to refer criminal charges to the DOJ if the hacking could be proven. Another committee member, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-CO, broke ranks and demanded Shulkin’s immediate resignation due to the scandal. He said he believes the secretary, the only Cabinet-level holdover from President Obama’s administration, got the job only because Trump could not convince anyone else to take it.
The release, and subsequent coverage of these issues has concerned veterans groups, as conflicting messages emerge from the veterans’ advisor to the White House, including roundtables discussing long term domestic policy plans being held without input from any of the VA key advisors. A two-page policy paper was also released that directly contradicted Shulkin’s own remarks on the topic.
All of this drama swirls, and leadership remains in turmoil while the people the VA serves watch, powerlessly. Washington Post 1, Military Times, Washington Post 2, NY Times
Catch and kill
It’s not news that Trump had an(other) affair when his son Barron was a few months old, this one with Karen McDougal, a Playboy model. What’s news is that American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, bought McDougal’s 80 page, hand-written story—and then did not run it. Writing for The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow suggests it was part of a “catch and kill” pattern, in which tabloids buy stories specifically in order to kill them. David Pecker, CEO of A.M.I, says he is “a personal friend” of Trump’s. New Yorker
Gaza in crisis, at risk of “an explosion”
UN Officials are warning that Gaza is nearing a total financial collapse. Medical supplies are in short supply, clinics are closing, power failures are common, water is undrinkable. They expect a cholera outbreak at any time.
Israel has blockaded Gaza for over a decade hoping to contain Hamas and force the Palestinian people to oust the politically powerful group. The complexity of the power structure between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, with the myriad of creative finance both groups have developed to provide services and maintain trade with countries like Egypt, leaves the people of Gaza with little to no income, and an uncertain path out of the crisis. In Israel, concerns grow as the economic situation in Gaza could create a national security problem and possibly another war. Israel has asked donor countries to fund $1B in water and energy projects, which could stabilize the region, but that would take time the area may not have. The US government is doing its part by withholding $65M from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees.
Whether out of hubris or desperation, Gazans are talking about a mass action against the blockade that could lead to further escalation. Hamas is under no illusion it could win against Israeli forces in a clash, but the extreme distress makes the region ripe for new military action.
The New York Times quoted a Palestinian grandmother as saying, “We are dead, but we have breath.” NY Times
It’s worth looking at the media watchdog FAIR’s website regularly to get clarity on news coverage.
On February 18, they noted the “distortion” in the Wall Street Journal’s coverage equating Syrian and Venezuelan refugees (Venezuelans have migrated to Colombia, as well as to other countries such as the U.S.). FAIR points that Colombia itself has a large population of internally displaced people, as well as many who have fled the country to live in…Venezuela. FAIR argues that the news media is squeezing facts to fit into a Colombia=good, Venezuela=bad equation.
Proxy War echoes in Syria
Around 300 Russian fighters working for a military contractor were killed or injured in a battle with U.S. or U.S. backed troops in Syria. While Russia and the U.S. back opposite sides in Syria, they have ordinarily avoided direct confrontation. CBC
Microplastics found in a large majority of Northwest Atlantic fish
A study conducted by the National University of Ireland, Galway and published in “Frontiers of Marine Science” shows that 73% of fish sampled from the northwestern area of the Atlantic ocean contained microplastic debris in their gut. Microplastics have been found to have a toxic-like deleterious effect on ocean life, causing inflammation, lower body weight and reduced feeding among afflicted animals, effects that can be spread up and down the foodchain as they are consumed by subsequent organisms. Plastic textile fibers were found to be the most common culprit. ScienceDaily
Spike in “fake news” found on Twitter in wake of Florida school shooting.
A piece by Nicole Lee at Engadget documents various fake news stories propagated via Twitter in the wake of the tragic school shooting this past week. Twitter is facing ongoing scrutiny and criticism for its inability or unwillingness to curb seemingly professional disinformation campaigns conducted through its service. Among the highlighted hoaxes is a story made to look as if it was published by Buzzfeed by a non-existent Jewish author entitled, “Why We Need to Take Away White People's Guns Now More Than Ever.” Considering the Mueller indictments of 13 Russians involved in state-sponsored hacking and propaganda missions, some of which involved an effort to stoke racial animus within the United States, this should be taken far more seriously by social media companies such as Twitter. Engadget
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is under investigation for links to Sinclair Broadcasting.
The independent FCC inspector general has begun to conduct an investigation into links between Ajit Pai and Sinclair Broadcasting, a privately owned mass media company that is the largest owner of local television stations. A FCC decision to allow Sinclair to merge with Tribune media which owned stations in overlapping markets, something previously avoided by the FCC, netted Sinclair a huge viewing audience whom it has aggressively saturated with right-wing slanted news handed down to local stations from its corporate audience. The inspector general stated in a press release that he will "Investigate whether the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his aides improperly pushed for rule changes to benefit Sinclair Broadcasting in the company's attempt to purchase Tribune Media. The investigation will also look into whether Pai and his aides improperly coordinated with Sinclair on those rule changes." The family that owns Sinclair is known for its large contributions to the GOP and support for President Trump. Pai was also one of the architects of the recent FCC vote against net neutrality. Arstechnica, Media Matters, Salon, TheVerge
New study sheds light on root causes of depression and the drug ketamine's ability to treat it
Published in the journal Nature, a study by a team at Zhejiang University in China announced they located where in the brain ketamine acts when it blocks the effects of depression. For many years medicine has been forced to utilize a scattershot approach to medicating the disease because the neurological causes of depression are poorly understood or unknown. New information has begun to come in showing that previously unconsidered neurological tissue called astrocytes located in a region of the brain called the lateral habenula is involved in ion exchanges that ketamine blocks, which might explain its ability to rapidly alleviate depression symptoms in many patients. The lateral habenula is involved in the processing of unpleasant outcomes and punishment.
Ketamine can also damage the bladder and can cause unpleasant dissociative effects in some users; the dissociative effects complicate randomized controlled trials of the drug (since patients know they feel dissociated), which also have been undercut by small sample sizes and short periods of follow-up. Still, research in the field is moving forward rapidly, since ketamine appears to work more quickly and with a higher level of efficacy than conventional anti-depressants. Ars Technica, Nature,
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2017.08.09 12:58 feedreddit Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians Are Remaking Latin American Politics

Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians Are Remaking Latin American Politics
by Lee Fang via The Intercept
For Alejandro Chafuen, the gathering this spring at the Brick Hotel in Buenos Aires was as much a homecoming as it was a victory lap. Chafuen, a lanky Argentine-American, had spent his adult life working to undermine leftwing social movements and governments in South and Central America, and boost a business-friendly version of libertarianism instead.
It was a lonely battle for decades, but not lately. Chafuen was among friends at the 2017 Latin America Liberty Forum. The international meeting of libertarian activists was sponsored by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a leadership-training nonprofit now known simply as the Atlas Network, which Chafuen has led since 1991. At the Brick Hotel, Chafuen was reveling in recent victories; his years of work were starting to pay off, thanks to political and economic circumstances — but also because of the network of activists Chafuen has been working for so long to cultivate.
Over the past 10 years, leftist governments have used “money to buy votes, to redistribute,” said Chafuen, seated comfortably in the lobby. But the recent drop in commodity prices, coupled with corruption scandals, has given an opportunity for Atlas Network groups to spring into action. “When there is an opening, you have a crisis, and there is some demand for change, you have people who are trained to push for certain policies,” Chafuen noted, paraphrasing the late Milton Friedman. “And in our case, we tend to favor to private solutions to public problems.”
Chafuen pointed to numerous Atlas-affiliated leaders now in the spotlight: ministers in the new conservative government in Argentina, senators in Bolivia, and the leaders of the Free Brazil Movement that took down Dilma Rousseff’s presidency, where Chafuen’s network sprang to life before his very eyes.
“In Brazil, I have been in the street demonstrations, and I’m like, ‘Hey, this guy I met when he was 17, 18 — he is up there on the bus leading this. This is crazy!’” Chafuen said, excitedly. Those in Atlas’s orbit were no less excited to run into Chafuen in Buenos Aires. Activists from various countries stopped Chafuen intermittently to sing his praises as he walked through the hotel. For many, Chafuen, from his perch at Atlas, has served as a mentor, fiscal sponsor, and guiding beacon for a new political paradigm in their country.
Ousted Honduras’ President Manuel Zelaya, left, looks down inside a car on his way to the airport where he will board a flight to Nicaragua on the outskirts of San Jose, Sunday, June 28, 2009.
Photo: Kent Gilbert/AP
A rightward shift is afoot in Latin American politics. Triumphant socialist governments had once swept the region for much of the 21st century – from Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to land reform populist Manuel Zelaya in Honduras – championing new programs for the poor, nationalizing businesses, and challenging U.S. dominance in hemispheric affairs.
In recent years, however, leftist leaders have fallen one after another, sometimes in spectacular fashion. Zelaya was led from the presidential palace in his pajamas in a military coup; in Argentina, a real-estate baron swept to the presidency and Kirchner was indicted for corruption; and in Brazil, the ruling Workers’ Party, facing a growing corruption scandal and a mass protest movement, was swept out of office via impeachment over charges of budget chicanery.
This shift might appear as part of a larger regional rebalancing, merely economic circumstances taking hold. And yet the Atlas Network seems ever-present, a common thread nudging political developments along.
The story of the Atlas Network and its profound impact on ideology and political power has never been fully told. But business filings and records from three continents, along with interviews with libertarian leaders across the hemisphere, reveal the scope of its influential history. The libertarian network, which has reshaped political power in country after country, has also operated as a quiet extension of U.S. foreign policy, with Atlas-associated think tanks receiving quiet funding from the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, a critical arm of American soft power.
Though recent investigations have shed light on the role of powerful conservative billionaires, such as the Koch brothers, in developing a business-friendly version of libertarian thought, the Atlas Network, which receives funding from Koch foundations, has recreated methods honed in the Western world for developing countries.
The network is expansive, currently boasting loose partnerships with 450 think tanks around the world. Atlas says it dispensed over $5 million to its partners in 2016 alone.\
Over the years, Atlas and its affiliated charitable foundations have provided hundreds of grants to conservative and free-market think tanks in Latin America, including the libertarian network that supported the Free Brazil Movement and organizations behind a libertarian push in Argentina, including Fundación Pensar, the Atlas think tank that merged with the political party formed by Mauricio Macri, businessman who now leads the country. The leaders of the Free Brazil Movement and the founder of Fundación Eléutera in Honduras, an influential post-coup neoliberal think tank, have received financial support from Atlas, and are among the next generation of political operatives that have went through Atlas’s training seminars.
The Atlas Network spans dozens of other think tanks across the region, including prominent groups supporting rightwing forces behind the unfolding anti-government movement in Venezuela and the campaign of Sebastián Piñera, the right-of-center candidate leading the polls for this year’s presidential election in Chile.
People demonstrate against the government as they take part in protest in favor of impeaching Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, in front of the National Congress, in Brasilia, Brazil in Dec. 2, 2015.
Photo: Eraldo Peres/AP
Nowhere has the Atlas method been better encapsulated than in a newly formed network of Brazilian free-market think tanks. Recently formed institutes worked together to foment anger at socialist policies, with some cultivating academic centers, while others work to train activists and maintain a constant war in the Brazilian media against leftist ideas.
The effort to focus anger solely at the left paid dividends last year for the Brazilian right. The millennial activists of the Free Brazil Movement, many of them trained in political organizing in the U.S., led a mass movement to channel public anger over a vast corruption scandal against Dilma, the left-of-center president popularly known by her first name. The scandal, nicknamed Operação Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash, is a still-unfolding tale of bribery involving leading politicians from all of Brazil’s major political parties, including the rightwing and center-right parties. But the social media-savvy Free Brazil Movement, known by its Portuguese initials, MBL, managed to direct the bulk of outrage squarely at Dilma, demanding her ousting and an end to the welfare-centric policies of her Workers’ Party.
The uprising, which has drawn comparisons to the tea party movement, especially considering the quiet support from local industrial conglomerates and a new conspiracy-minded network of far-right media voices, ended 13 years of rule by the Workers’ Party by removing Dilma from office through impeachment in 2016.
The landscape that MBL sprang from is a new development in Brazil. There were perhaps three active libertarian think tanks 10 years ago, said Helio Beltrão, a former hedge fund executive who now leads Instituto Mises, a nonprofit named after the libertarian philosopher, Ludwig von Mises. Now, he said, with the support of Atlas, there are close to 30 such institutes active in Brazil, all working collaboratively, along with groups, such as Students for Liberty and MBL.
“It’s like a soccer team. Defense is the academia. The forward guys are the politicians. We’ve scored a few goals,” he said, referring to Dilma’s impeachment. The midfield, he said, are the “cultural guys” that shape public opinion.
Beltrão explained that the think tank network is hoping to privatize the national post office in Brazil, calling it “low-hanging fruit” that could lead to a larger wave of free-market reforms. Many of the conservative parties in Brazil embraced libertarian campaigners when they showed they could mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to protest against Dilma, but haven’t yet adopted the fundamentals of supply-side theory.
Fernando Schüler, an academic and columnist associated with Instituto Millenium, another Atlas think tank in Brazil, made the case another way.
“Brazil has 17,000 unions paid by public money, one day of salary per year goes to unions, completely controlled by the left,” said Schüler. The only way to reverse the socialist trend has been to out-maneuver them. “With technology, people could by themselves participate, organize at low cost — WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, using networks, a kind of public manifestation,” he continued, explaining the way libertarian organizers mobilized a protest movement against left-leaning politicians.
Organizers against Dilma had created a daily barrage of YouTube videos mocking the Worker’s Party government, along with an interactive scoreboard to encourage citizens to lobby their legislators to support impeachment.
Schüler noted that the Free Brazil Movement and his own think tank receive financial support from local industrial trade groups, but the movement had succeeded in part because it is not identified with the incumbent political parties, most of which the general public views with suspicion. He argued that the only way to radically reshape society and reverse popular sentiment in support of the welfare state was to wage a permanent cultural war to confront left intellectuals and the media.
Fernando Schüler.
Photo: Screenshot from Youtube
One of the founders of Schüler’s Instituto Millenium think tank, Brazilian blogger Rodrigo Constantino, has polarized Brazilian politics with hyperpartisan rhetoric. Constantino, who has been called the “Breitbart of Brazil” for his conspiratorial views and acidic rightwing commentary, chairs yet another Atlas think tank, Instituto Liberal. He sees the Brazilian left’s every move as a veiled attempt at subverting democracy, from the use of the color red in the country’s World Cup logo to the Bolsa Família cash assistance program to poor families.
Constantino is credited with popularizing a narrative that Worker’s Party supporters are limousine liberals, wealthy hypocrites that flock to socialism to claim the moral high ground while snubbing the working classes they claim to represent.
The Breitbartization of public discourse is but one of the many ways the Atlas network has subtly influenced political debate.
“It’s a very paternalistic state. It’s crazy. It’s a lot of state control, and that’s the long-term challenge,” said Schüler, adding that despite recent victories, libertarians had a long way to go in Brazil. He hoped to copy the model of Margaret Thatcher, who relied on a network of libertarian think tanks to push unpopular reforms. “This pension system is absurd. I would privatize all education,” Schüler, rattling off a litany of changes he would make to society, from defunding labor unions to repealing the law that makes voting compulsory.
Yet the only way to make all that possible, he added, would be to build a network of politically active nonprofits all waging separate battles to push the same libertarian goals. The existing model — the constellation of rightwing think tanks in Washington, D.C., supported by powerful endowments — is the only path forward for Brazil, Schüler said.
Atlas, for its part, is busy doing just that. It gives grants for new think tanks, provides courses on political management and public relations, sponsors networking events around the world, and, in recent years, has devoted special resources to prodding libertarians to influence public opinion through social media and online videos.
An annual competition encourages Atlas’s network to produce viral YouTube videos promoting laissez-faire ideas and ridiculing proponents of the welfare state. James O’Keefe, the provocateur famous for needling Democrats with his undercover videos, has appeared before Atlas to explain his methods. Producers from a Wisconsin group that worked create online videos to discredit teacher protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s law busting public sector unions have also provided instructions for Atlas’s training sessions.
Crowd burning puppet of President Hugo Chavez at Plaza Altamira in protest against government.
Photo: Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
Among its other exploits of late, Atlas has played a role in a Latin American nation roiled by the region’s most acute political and humanitarian crisis: Venezuela. Records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by activists sympathetic to the Venezuelan government, as well as State Department cables disclosed by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, reveal U.S. policymakers’ sophisticated effort to use Atlas think tanks in a long-running campaign to destabilize the reign of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.
As early as 1998, Cedice Libertad, Atlas’s flagship think tank in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, received regular financial support from the Center for International Private Enterprise. In one grant letter, NED funds marked for Cedice are listed to help advocate “a change in government.” The director of Cedice was among the signatories of the controversy “Carmona Decree” supporting the short-lived military coup against Chávez in 2002.
A 2006 cable laid out a strategy from U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield for funding politically active nonprofits in Venezuela: “1) Strengthening democratic institutions, 2) penetrating Chávez’s political base, 3) dividing Chavismo, 4) protecting vital U.S. business, and 5) isolating Chávez internationally.”
In Venezula’s current crisis, Cedice has promoted the recent spate of protests against President Nicholas Maduro, Chávez’s embattled successor. Cedice is closely affiliated with opposition figure María Corina Machado, one of the leaders of the massive anti-government street demonstrations in recent months. Machado has publicly recognized Atlas for its work. In a videotape message delivered to the group in 2014, she said, “Thank you to the Atlas Network, to all freedom fighters.”
Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado has recognized Atlas for its work: “Thank you to the Atlas Network, to all freedom fighters,” she said in 2014.At the Atlas Network’s Latin American Liberty Forum in Buenos Aires, young leaders buzzed back and forth, sharing ideas on how to defeat socialism at every level, from pitched battles on college campuses to mobilizing an entire country to embrace impeachment.
Think tank “entrepreneurs” from Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras competed in a format along the lines of “Shark Tank,” an America reality show where start-up businesses pitch to a panel of wealthy, ruthless investors. Instead of seeking investments from a panel of venture capitalists, however, the think tank leaders pitched policy marketing ideas for a contest that awarded $5,000. In another session, strategies were debated for attracting industry support to back economic reforms. In another room, political operatives debated arguments “lovers of liberty” can use to respond to the global rise of populism to “redirect the sense of injustice many feel” toward free-market goals.
One young leader from CADAL, a think tank in Buenos Aires, presented on an idea to rank each Argentine province using what he called an “economic liberty index,” which would use the level of taxation and regulation as the main criteria to generate buzz for free-market reforms. The idea is consciously modeled on similar strategies from the U.S., including the Heritage Foundation’s “Index of Economic Freedom,” which measures countries based on criteria that includes tax policies and regulatory barriers to business formation.
Think tanks are traditionally associated with independent institutes formed to develop unconventional solutions. But the Atlas model focuses less on developing genuinely new policy proposals, and more on establishing political organizations that carry the credibility of academic institutions, making them an effective organ for winning hearts and minds.
Free-market ideas — such as slashing taxes on the wealthy; whittling down the public sector and placing it under the control of private operators; and liberalized trade rules and restrictions on labor unions — have always struggled with a perception problem. Proponents of this vision have found that voters tend to view such ideas as a vehicle for serving society’s upper crust. Rebranding economic libertarianism as a public interest ideology has required elaborate strategies for mass persuasion.
But the Atlas model now spreading rapidly through Latin America is based on a method perfected by decades of struggle in the U.S. and the U.K., as libertarians worked to stem the tide of the surging post-war welfare state.
Map of Atlas group locations in South America.
Map: The Intercept
Antony Fisher, a British entrepreneur and the founder of the Atlas Network, pioneered the sale of libertarian economics to the broader public. The tack was simple: Fisher made it his mission to, in the words of an associate, “litter the world with free-market think tanks.”
The basis for Fisher’s ideals came from Friedrich Hayek, a forbearer of modern thought on limited government. In 1946, after reading the Reader’s Digest version of Hayek’s seminal book, “The Road to Serfdom,” Fisher sought a meeting with the Austrian economist in London. As recounted by his close colleague John Blundell, Fisher suggested Hayek enter politics. But Hayek demurred, replying that a bottom-up focus on shifting the public discourse could better shape society.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., another free-market ideologue, Leonard Read, was entertaining similar notions after leading the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Los Angeles branch into bruising battles with organized labor. To counter the growth of the welfare state, a more elaborate response would be necessary to share popular debates around the direction of society, without the visible link to corporate interests.
Fisher was propelled forward by a fateful visit to Read’s newly formed nonprofit, the Foundation for Economic Education, in New York, which was founded to help sponsor and promote the ideas of free-market intellectuals. There, libertarian economist F.A. Harper, at the time working at FEE, advised Fisher on methods for creating his own nonprofit in the U.K.
During the trip, Fisher also traveled with Harper to Cornell University to observe the latest animal industry breakthrough of battery cages, marveling at the sight of 15,000 chickens housed in a single building. Fisher was inspired to bring the innovation home with him. His factory, Buxted Chickens, grew rapidly and made Fisher a substantial fortune in the process. Some of those profits went into other goal fostered during his New York trip: In 1955, Fisher founded the Institute of Economic Affairs.
IEA helped popularize the once-obscure set of economists loosely affiliated with Hayek’s ideas. The institute was a place to showcase opposition to British society’s growing welfare state, connecting journalists to free-market academics and disseminating critiques on a regular basis through opinion columns, radio interviews, and conferences.
Businesses provided the bulk of funding to IEA, as leading British industrial and banking giants — from Barclays to BP — pitched in with annual contributions. According to “Making Thatcher’s Britain,” by historians Ben Jackson and Robert Saunders, one shipping magnate remarked that, since universities were providing ammunition for the unions, the IEA was an important source of bullets for business.
As the economic slowdown and rising inflation of the 1970s shook the foundations of British society, Tory politicians gravitated more and more to the IEA to provide an alternative vision — and IEA obliged with accessible issue briefs and talking points politicians could use to bring free-market concepts to the public. The Atlas Network proudly proclaims that the IEA “laid the intellectual groundwork for what later became the Thatcher Revolution of the 1980s.” IEA staff provided speechwriting for Margaret Thatcher; supplemented her campaign with policy papers on topics as varied as labor unions and price controls; and provided a response to her critics in the mass media. In a letter to Fisher after her 1979 victory, Thatcher wrote that the IEA created “the climate of opinion which made our victory possible.”
“There’s no doubt there’s been enormous progress in Britain, the Institute of Economic Affairs, which Antony Fisher set up, made an enormous difference,” Milton Friedman once said. “It made possible Margaret Thatcher. It made possible not her election as prime minister but the policies that she was able to follow. And the same thing in this country, the developing thought along these lines made possible Ronald Reagan and the policies he was able to follow.”
IEA had come full circle. Hayek set up an invitation-only group of free-market economists called the Mont Pelerin Society. One of its members, Ed Feulner, helped found of the conservative Washington think tank the Heritage Foundation, drawing on IEA’s work for inspiration. Another Mont Pelerin member, Ed Crane, founded the Cato Institute, the most prominent libertarian think tank in the U.S.
Austrian-British economist and political philosopher Friedrich Hayek with a class of students at the London School of Economics, 1948.
Photo: Paul PoppePopperfoto/Getty Images
In 1981, Fisher, who had settled in San Francisco, set out to develop the Atlas Economic Research Foundation at the urging of Hayek. Fisher had used his success with IEA to court corporate donors to help establish a string of smaller, sometimes regional think tanks in New York, Canada, California, and Texas, among other places. With Atlas, though, the scale for Fisher’s free-market think tank project would now be global: a nonprofit dedicated to continuing his work of establishing libertarian beachheads in every country of the world. “The more institutes established throughout the world,” Fisher declared, “the more opportunity to tackle diverse problems begging for resolution.”
Fisher began to fundraise, pitching corporate donors with the help of letters from Hayek, Thatcher, and Friedman, including an urgent call for donors to help reproduce the success of IEA through Atlas. Hayek wrote that the IEA model “ought to be used to create similar institutes all over the world.” He added, “It would be money well spent if large sums could be made available for such a concerted effort.”
The proposal was sent to a list of high-level executives and soon, money began pouring in from corporate coffers and Republican mega-donors, including Richard Mellon Scaife. Companies, such as Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, and Shell, all gave to Atlas. But their influence would need to remain cloaked for the project to work, Fisher contended. “To influence public opinion, it is necessary to avoid any suggestion of vested interest or intent to indoctrinate,” Fisher noted in a proposal outlining the purpose of Atlas. Fisher added that IEA’s success hinged on the perception that it was academic and impartial.
Atlas grew rapidly. By 1985, the network featured 27 institutions in 17 countries, including nonprofits in Italy, Mexico, Australia, and Peru.
And the timing could not have been better: Atlas’s international expansion came just as the Reagan administration was doubling down on an aggressive foreign policy, hoping to beat back leftist governments abroad.
While in public, Atlas declared that it received no government funding (Fisher belittled foreign aid as just another “bribe” used to distort market forces), records show the network quietly worked to channel government money to its growing list of international partners.
In one 1982 letter from the International Communication Agency, a small federal agency devoted to promote U.S. interests overseas, a bureaucrat at the Office of Private Sector Programs wrote to Fisher, in response to an inquiry about acquiring federal grants. The bureaucrat said he was barred from giving “directly to foreign organizations,” but could cosponsor “conferences or exchanges with organizations” hosted by groups like Atlas. He encouraged Fisher to send over a proposal. The letter, sent one year after Atlas’s founding, was the first indication that the network would become a covert partner to U.S. foreign policy interests.
Memos and other records from Fisher show that, by 1986, Atlas had helped schedule meetings with business executives to direct U.S. funds to its network of think tanks. In one instance, an official from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the principal foreign aid arm of the federal government, recommended that the head of Coca-Cola’s subsidiary in Panama work with Atlas to set up an IEA-style affiliate think tank there. Atlas also drew funding from the coffers of the National Endowment for Democracy, a government-charted nonprofit, founded in 1983, that is funded largely by the State Department and USAID to build U.S.-friendly political institutions in the developing world.
Alejandro Chafuen, of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, back right, shakes hands with Rafael Alonzo, of Venezuela’s Freedom Center for Economic Studies, CEDICE, left, as Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa applauds during the opening of the “Freedom and Democracy” international forum in Caracas, Thursday, May 28, 2009.
Photo: Ariana Cubillos/AP
With corporate and U.S. government funding pouring in, Atlas took another fortuitous turn in 1985 with the arrival of Alejandro Chafuen. Linda Whetstone, Fisher’s daughter, remembered in a tribute that, in 1985, a young Chafuen, then living in Oakland, showed up to Atlas’s San Francisco office “and was willing to work for nothing.”
The Buenos Aires-born Chafuen hailed from what he described as “an anti-Peronist family.” They were wealthy and, though raised in an era of incredible turmoil in Argentina, Chafuen lived a life of relative privilege. He spent his teenage years playing tennis, dreaming of becoming a professional athlete.
Chafuen credits his youthful ideological path to his appetite for devouring libertarian texts, from Ayn Rand to booklets published by FEE, the Leonard Read group that had originally inspired Fisher. After studying at Grove City College, a deeply conservative Christian liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, where he served as the president of the student libertarian club, Chafuen returned to his home country. The military had stepped in, claiming a threat from communist revolutionaries. Thousands of students and activists would be tortured and killed in the crackdown on leftwing dissent following the coup d’etat.
Chafuen remembers the time in a mostly positive light, later writing that the military had acted out of necessity to prevent a communist “takeover of the country.” While pursuing a teaching career, Chafuen encountered “totalitarians of every style” within academic life. After the military coup, he wrote that he noticed that his professors became “gentler,” despite their differences with him.
In other Latin American countries, too, libertarianism was finding a receptive audience among military governments. In Chile, after the military swept out the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. Mont Pelerin Society economists quickly flocked to the country, setting the stage for widespread libertarian reforms, including the privatization of industry and the country’s pension system. Throughout the region, under the watch of rightwing military leaders that had seized power, libertarian economic policies began to take root.
For his part, Chafuen’s ideological zeal was on display as early as 1979, when he published an essay for FEE titled “War Without End.” He described the horrors of leftist terror, “like the Charles Manson family, or in regimental strength, like the guerilla troops in the Middle East, Africa, and South America.” There was a need, he wrote, for the “forces of individual freedom and private property” to fight back.
His enthusiasm garnered attention. In 1980, at age 26, Chafuen was invited to become the youngest member of the Mont Pelerin Society. He traveled to Stanford, an opportunity that put him in direct contact with Read, Hayek, and other leading libertarians. Within five years, Chafuen had married an American and was living in Oakland. He began reaching out to Mont Pelerin members in the Bay Area, including Fisher.
Throughout the region, under the watch of rightwing military leaders that had seized power, libertarian economic policies began to take root.According to Atlas’s board meeting notes, Fisher told his colleagues he had made a $500 ex gratia Christmas payment that year to Chafuen, and hoped to hire the young economist full-time to develop Atlas think tanks in Latin America. The following year, Chafuen organized the first Atlas summit of Latin American think tanks in Jamaica.
Chafuen understood the Atlas model well and worked diligently to expand the network, helping to launch think tanks in Africa and Europe, though focusing his efforts in Latin America. Describing how to attract donors, Chafuen once noted in a lecture that donors cannot appear to pay for public surveys because the polls would lose credibility. “Pfizer Inc. would not sponsor surveys on health issues nor would Exxon pay for surveys on environmental issues,” Chafuen noted. Libertarian think tanks, such as the ones in Atlas’s network, however, could not only present the same survey with more credibility, but do so in a way that garnered coverage in the local media.
“Journalists are very much attracted by whatever is new and easy to report,” Chafuen said. The press is less interested in quoting libertarian philosophers, he contended, but when a think tank produced a survey people would listen. “And donors also see this,” he added.
In 1991, three years after Fisher died, Chafuen took helm of Atlas and would have the opportunity to speak to donors with authority about Atlas’s work. He quickly began to rack up corporate sponsors to push company-specific goals through the network. Philip Morris contributed regular grants to Atlas, including a $50,000 contribution to the group in 1994, which was disclosed years later through litigation. Records show that the tobacco giant viewed Atlas as an ally for working on international litigation issues.
Journalists in Chile, however, found out that Atlas-backed think tanks had worked to quietly lobby against smoking regulations without disclosing their funding from tobacco companies, a strategy similar think tanks repeated across the globe.
Corporate giants, such as ExxonMobil and MasterCard, were among Atlas’ donors. But the group also attracted leading figures in libertarianism, such as the foundations associated with investor John Templeton and the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which lavished Atlas and its affiliates with regular contributions.
Chafuen’s fundraising prowess extended to the growing number of wealthy conservative foundations that were beginning to flourish. He was a founding member of Donors Trust, a secretive donor-advised fund that has doled out over $400 million to libertarian nonprofits, including members of the Atlas Network. He also serves as a trustee to the Chase Foundation of Virginia, which was founded by a Mont Pelerin Society member and similarly sends cash to Atlas think tanks.
Another wellspring of money came from the American government. Initially, the National Endowment for Democracy encountered difficulty setting up U.S.-friendly political nonprofits. Gerardo Bongiovanni, the president of Fundación Libertad, an Atlas think tank in Rosario, Argentina, noted during a lecture with Chafuen that the early seed money from NED’s grant partner, the Center for International Private Enterprise, totaled $1 million between 1985 and 1987. The think tanks that received those initial grants quickly folded, Bongiovanni said, citing lack of management training.
Atlas, however, managed to turn U.S. taxpayer money coming through the NED and Center for International Private Enterprise into an important source of funding for its growing network. The funding vehicles provided money to help boost Atlas think tanks in eastern Europe, following the fall of the Soviet Union, and, later, to promote U.S. interests in the Middle East. Among the recipients of the Center for International Private Enterprise’s cash is Cedice Libertad, the group thanked by Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado.
White House Deputy Assistant To The President Sebastian Gorka participates in a television interview outside the White House West Wing June 9, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
At the Brick Hotel in Buenos Aires, Chafuen reflected on the last three decades. Fisher “would be overall pleased, and he would not believe how much our network grew,” Chafuen said, noting that perhaps the Atlas founder would not have expected the level of direct political engagement the group is involved in.
Chafuen lit up when U.S. President Donald Trump came up, offering praise for the president’s appointees. And why not? The Trump administration is littered with alumni of Atlas-related groups and friends of the network. Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s Islamophobic counterterrorism adviser, once led an Atlas-backed think tank in Hungary. Vice President Mike Pence has attended an Atlas event and spoken highly of the group. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Chafuen were close through their leadership roles at the Acton Institute, a Michigan think tank that develops religious arguments in favor of libertarian policies — which now maintains an affiliate in Brazil, the Centro Interdisciplinar de Ética e Economia Personalista.
Perhaps Chafuen’s most prized figure in the administration, however, is Judy Shelton, an economist and senior fellow at the Atlas Network. After Trump’s victory, Shelton was made the chairman of the NED. She previously served as an adviser to the Trump campaign and transition effort. Chafuen beamed when he talked about it. “There you have the Atlas people being the chair of the National Endowment for Democracy,” he said.
Before ending the interview, Chafuen intimated that there was more to come: more think tanks, more efforts to overturn leftist governments, and more Atlas devotees and alumni elevated to the highest levels of government the world over. “The work is ongoing,” he said.
Later, Chafuen appeared at the gala for the Latin America Liberty Forum. Along with a panel of Atlas experts, he discussed the need to ramp up libertarian opposition movements in Ecuador and Venezuela.
Danielle Mackey contributed research to this story.
The post Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians Are Remaking Latin American Politics appeared first on The Intercept.
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2017.06.11 20:46 feedreddit Interview With Abby Martin And Michael Prysner On Venezuelan Opposition & Attacks On Journalism

Interview With Abby Martin And Michael Prysner On Venezuelan Opposition & Attacks On Journalism
by Kevin Gosztola via Firedoglake
If you would like to support the show and help keep us going strong, please become a subscriber on our Patreon page.Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola welcome journalists Abby Martin and Michael Prysner to the “Unauthorized Disclosure” weekly podcast. They recently took a trip to Venezuela and both have faced threats from parts of the right-wing opposition in the country for their reporting.
Martin and Michael produce the weekly show, “The Empire Files.” During the interview, they highlight the make-up of the opposition in Venezuela. They share details about the violence they witnessed while on the ground.
Both talk about the left-wing Chavism movement’s ability to withstand the opposition. Martin and Prysner speak about the engagement of Venezuelans, especially lower class citizens, in participatory democracy. They outline what is truly going on with private media companies in Venezuela that are sowing chaos. They also address what they believed about the Venezuelan government under President Nicolas Maduro prior to their trip and how their perspectives shifted.
To listen to the discussion, click the above player or go here.
Below are highlights from the inteview.

The Violence Of The Opposition

“The country is so heavily divided that really there are mass rallies on either side that are peaceful and jubilant and nonviolent at all. That’s not where these violent confrontations are happening,” Martin said. “The violent confrontations are happening with this smaller contingent called the Guarimbas, which are these huge flaming barricades that are sustained action that are going on every single day and night across different areas, usually in middle and upper class areas.”
Martin added, “The opposition does not denounce the violence, and they also incite the violence and use the violence and the deaths. It’s like this theater of cruelty,” pushed out in order to bolster international support.
Opposition activists “pulled out people from 18-wheelers, stole trucks on the highway, created giant barricades, doused the freeways in gasoline, and this is where a lot of people are dying.”
“When you look at the death toll, at least over half, well over half, were killed directly or indirectly by opposition violence. A lot of things happen at these flaming barricades where people are scrambling frantically trying to move their cars. They run people. They’ve fallen off the freeway,” Martin described.
“As soon as it got dark, I’ve never felt like my life was more in danger because we were very exposed,” Martin further recalled. “We had press jackets on, but at the same time, we knew that if we identified ourselves as Telesur journalists we could get lynched. Because that’s the climate right now.”
“They just call you an infiltrator, and then you get killed. And they deemed many other people as infiltrators. The Chavista that they said, hey, black guy are you a Chavista? And they threw a Molotov cocktail on him. They also beat to death a national guardsmen, who was retired, just for being in the vicinity, thinking he was an infiltrator.”
According to Martin, opposition figures mobbed them and gave instructions to film what the government does but not what is done by the opposition. They pressured Martin and Prysner to film what is done by the government and in return the opposition would protect them.

The Target Of A Viral Campaign Of Intimidation

Martin and Prysner were the targets of a campaign propelled by a high-profile academic in the country and a journalist aggregation account.
The lie, as Martin declared, was that Martin and Prysner were intelligence agents collecting protester photos to turn into the Venezuelan intelligence services. They said people were arrested because of the two journalists’ spying.
Martin said they became the center of a viral fake news campaign, and it was on the front page of newspapers as a result of people trying to incite a mob to lynch us.

Venezuela’s White Helmets

Both saw the “Green Cross Helmets” or the Green Helmets, which seem modeled after the White Helmets in Syria. They appeared to be “super well-funded” and consist primarily of medical students.
Martin and Prysner suspect the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding them. A pro-opposition journalist said they were receiving funding from USAID.
Later, Prysner looked up the brand of the helmet they wear. “It’s a $200 helmet,” Prysner said. “There [were] like 40 of them at this demonstration.” The cost of the matching helmets is not cheap, and the helmets are from a company in Australia. The Green Helmets’ other gear is not inexpensive either.

The Supermarket Shortage Claim: Part Of Campaign Of Humiliation

“We went into at least ten supermarkets. The shelves were fully stocked with every goddamn Nestle brand, every paper product—except toilet paper,” Martin shared. “And this is where you get into some weird territory, where there are some huge shortages of particular goods used and hoarded for propaganda purposes, to create this kind of international humiliation campaign.”
Prysner suggested it is clear it is the result of a targeted campaign because specific things are missing from shelves.
“It’s women’s tampons. It’s diapers for newborns. It’s toilet paper. It’s rice. So there are shortages of things that are basic staples,” Prysner stated. “Some of the reason for economic problems like that is the legacy of underdevelopment and colonialism.”

Matt Taibbi’s Goldman Sachs-Venezuela Story For Rolling Stone

Journalist Matt Taibbi published a story for Rolling Stone on what he described as Goldman Sachs’ “bailout” of the Maduro government.
“The real crux of that story is the Venezuelan government is really trying to solve their economic crisis through getting foreign investment,” Prysner asserted. “The opposition is using their power in government to go around and sabotage every type of deal, international investment or loan deal, that the Venezuelan government is able to get.
“If they try to get a loan, if they try to get bonds, if they try to get foreign companies to come invest Venezuela, the opposition follows right behind them and says don’t do this. Cancel this deal. So, this Goldman Sachs deal is just Venezuela trying to bring money into the country, and then the opposition is turning it into something else because they want to bankrupt the country.”
The Venezuelan opposition would like to plunge the country further into chaos, win power, and then allow financial corporations to take over.
“You can’t look at Venezuela without acknowledging the complete manipulation of the currency,” Martin contended. “The biggest problem with the economy is over 90% of the economy depend on oil. A huge problem that Chavez did was not diversify the economy enough.”
Prysner concluded, “The opposition is pretty weak in the country. They won the national assembly election recently, but they hadn’t done that ever. And it’s under the most advantageous conditions for them, an incumbent administration under a severe economic crisis. The fact that they’re pushing things so far, escalating violence to such a high level, is because they believe they have the political support of the United States.”
*For the full interview with Abby Martin and Michael Prysner, go here.
The post Interview With Abby Martin And Michael Prysner On Venezuelan Opposition & Attacks On Journalism appeared first on Shadowproof.
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2015.09.26 10:56 WingedBadger [CRIT] Chapter two of "Hat-In-The-Ring," my cold war thriller. Featuring such cheery phrases as "Even odds she’s a vegetable ..." and "There’s only a handful of reasons to kill on this scale..."

Wakmann was the first man on the ground. He landed hard after deciding to hold off opening his chute until the last possible moment, so as to minimize the chance of detection. His knees were paying for that now. A few hits like that could permanently decommission a paratrooper, and though he was quite fit for 35 he was also quite old for this job. Viljo had fought into his fifties, Laslo knew, but that was with long hiatuses in home each night positions as an instructor and administrator.
The rain had let up, its children running in rivulets down the muddy jungle track the operative now traversed. He hoped that the clouds would stay a bit longer, they effectively delayed the sunrise, a godsend given the delay in launching.
It was understood that Laslo and Peter would be separated during the jump and both men were under instructions to regroup at the intersection of two logging trails, the nearest thing to a reliable man made landmark in this great green sea. He wanted to relish the brief solo portion of this infiltration, such things were singularly enthralling experiences, and quite rare in warfare. He couldn’t.
He should have slept on the plane. He should have slept from after dinner until they were rousted up for the briefing. He hadn’t. Organized, extended sleep wasn’t for him. Laslo didn’t fear it, like many of his comrades, who medicated themselves before turning in, hoping to hold back demons. He only had ghosts, and he didn’t mind them too much.
Laslo came upon the crossroads quickly, the entirety of their AO was only sixteen square kilometers, courtesy of Chanute’s precision and Bishop’s specificity.
The intersection was manned - this detail had not been in the briefing - but with the moon tucked behind the fat spring clouds the guard’s lamp looked brighter than an H-Bomb. Laslo slipped behind a bush reflexively upon seeing it. The shoddily uniformed sentry fished around in his trouser pocket languidly, and Laslo tensed up at the sound of rustling fabric but relaxed when he produced only a crumpled pack of cigarettes. He slid one out, tipped the cover off his lamp and lit it by the wick. Laslo quietly readied his HK33, thumbed the safety off and placed the front sight post on the soldier’s head. He let the condemned man take his first and last drag before burying a 55 grain FMJBT round in his brain. It wasn’t a pretty thing, but is was quick. A ‘light switch’ hit: on one moment, off the next. The sentry crumpled into the mud and his lamp shattered, creating an instant funeral pyre.
Wakmann waited behind his concealment for fear of a roving patrol or a second sentry. Satisfied after three minute’s observation he picked his way to the crossroads proper, going the whole way crouched and with rifle leveled. Laslo dragged the dead man into the brush and then checked his old Caravelle watch, the luminous hands read 4:16, DeCarlo was slightly late, but so was he. Complications were not inevitable but they were commonplace.
DeCarlo emerged from the thick ground cover on the north side. Despite the good chance that they were the only living men with 500 meters, the younger operator addressed Wakmann using his codename only.
“This is Wanderer, Rambler.” Laslo reciprocated.
“Let’s get moving, the observatory is back the way I came, I saw it on the way down. Hard to miss.” DeCarlo pointed down one of the roads and then transitioned into a brisk walk.
“Right, pick a side of the path and stick to it in case we need to dive into the brush in a hurry.” Wakmann counseled.
DeCarlo huffed. “I wasn’t planning on hiking down the middle of the road in enemy territory, but thanks.”
“Well ramblers have been known to do that.”
Their code names were selected semi-randomly and characterized by a distinct lack of military connotation, so as to allow them to blend into civilian radio chatter. Wakmann was fond of the sensible and egalitarian nature of it. DeCarlo missed being called Jackknife and his current monicker was a sore spot Wakmann could easily prod when needed.
The path climbed a sparsely treed hill topped with a cluster of white buildings featuring the observatory dome at the center. Moving together and equally alert for threats the operatives did not need to speak. Only the slosh of their boots and the clink of their gear punctuated the drone of the jungle’s insect population.
About half a kilometer from their destination the men heard the rumble of an engine and sought cover. DeCarlo un-slung his FAL and peered through his scope. He caught sight of a headlight beam and traced it to a crashed Venezuelan made utility 4x4 - effectively a Jeep - about 50 meters from their position, beyond a bend in the trail. The driver and passenger were slumped in their seats, probably dead, and without guidance the vehicle had meandered into a stump.
“Got a Jeep at 10 o’clock, two enemies but they look dead.” DeCarlo reported.
“Must have been going down the hill in neutral, otherwise it would have stalled out when they got popped.” Wakmann observed. “Depending on how much gas is on board they could have been taken out anytime since nightfall.”
“Why nightfall?” DeCarlo queried while slipping out from behind his bolder.
“Headlights are on.”
DeCarlo nodded and continued the ascent, Wakmann fell in behind him.
They came upon the scene of the wreck quickly. Laslo clicked on his flashlight and inspected the dead men. The driver had a bullet in his head, the passenger bore two wounds, one to the right lung, the other through his heart. He called DeCarlo’s attention to the latter man.
“Bishop’s getting sloppy.” He said, grinning slyly.
“It got the job done.” DeCarlo parried.
“Just getting the job done isn’t really Bishop’s scene, must’ve been desperate.”
“They’ve got mags for AK’s but no rifles, either they dropped them or Bishop scavenged an upgrade.” DeCarlo added.
With this last observation they continued up the trail, their voices hushed.
“I wouldn’t call a Kalash an upgrade to the bespoke kit Bishop runs.”
“Fully automatic is always an upgrade when the alternative is bolt-fucking-action.”
“Tell that to the Commodore, he carried a M1903 on LRRP’s until he quit after Tet.”
“Yeah, but he grew up on that shit, the Finns and Nazi’s didn’t issue anything close to an AK, not in any quantity. What’s Bishop’s excuse?”
“It encourages discipline, makes cleaning up brass easy too. Not a concern for us, but we’re not spooks.”
The reached the observatory and were greeted by a tall chain link gate. It was ajar, and a man lay dead in the sentry box.
“Shit. Bishop really tore them up.” DeCarlo exclaimed.
Wakmann hushed him and inspected the corpse. “This doesn’t look like Bishop’s work. Too many wounds and the pattern’s random.”
“Do you know what building we’re looking for?” Peter asked, seeing no valuing in arguing.
“No, but it’s not a big place and we may as well secure it.”
The men swept the compound, DeCarlo led with his shotgun drawn and Wakmann backed him up with his S&W. They quickly cleared the handful of outbuildings, finding them devoid of the living or dead. The dormitory was the first large structure they came upon. Its main door hung open, the lock lay on the dirty linoleum, peppered with buckshot.
Most of the shades were drawn, making the long rectangular room even darker than the night outside.
“I’ll take point, we need some light.” Wakmann swapped positions with DeCarlo and drew his flashlight, wielding it alongside his Model 59.
The beam glistened in the wet and dusty air, it revealed numerous corpses. A handful wore military uniforms, but an alarming quantity wore civilian clothes and a few even sported lab coats. Blood spattered the walls and pooled on the tile.
“Lord.” Laslo muttered.
They broke rank and prodded several corpses. Each had multiple fatal wounds to center mass and many were shot in the head as well. Laslo hoped those were merciful coups de grace but he knew better - they were done to ensure the assigned work was complete, nothing more.
Peter and Laslo slipped out a side door. Both men felt unsettled, a slimy knot forming in their guts.
The main office which adjoined the telescope dome was the only building left. Laslo led them in, treading lightly for fear of stepping on a dead man. He stopped abruptly, causing DeCarlo to stumble into him.
“What?” Peter asked, annoyed.
“Trip wire.” Wakmann responded, aiming his light at a slender metal line running between the feet of two computer desks.
“We found Bishop, then.” DeCarlo noted.
“Yup.” Laslo agreed, stepping over the trap.
Bishop was tall, for a woman, and pretty, for a killer, but neither quality was evident in the form that Laslo and Peter found slumped against a metal cabinet in the far corner of the head office. The floor and a good portion of her shirt and face were soaked with blood from a gash across her left forearm and a matching a slash on her right cheek. Laslo reckoned she had tried to stop a blade swung at her face, and succeeded, mostly. His flashlight revealed further injuries. A bullet had grazed her right arm just above the cuff of her drab turtleneck’s rolled sleeve. It didn’t look like much of a bleeder, but it doubtless hurt like hell. Finally a handgun round (judging by the penetration) was lodged in her left thigh.
“Fuck, she’s dead. We come all this damn way and...” DeCarlo began.
“She isn’t dead, look, she’s breathing.” Laslo cut him off.
“Even odds she’s a vegetable with all that blood loss.” DeCarlo retorted.
“That’s not how that works, now deprive a person of oxygen, and you’ll get that, but not blood.”
“Right, professor.”
“I need to get those wounds dressed though, or we may still lose her.”
Laslo set to work. The briefing mentioned that Bishop was wounded, but not the severity. Had they known it was this bad they would have moved a great deal faster and talked a great deal less. He felt like scum for every little delay he’d had a hand in.
DeCarlo’s only task was to guard the distracted Laslo and his patient. He should have been watching the entrances and exits, but he couldn’t help survey the tableau just in front of him. A handful of morphine syrettes littered the floor accompanied by countless blood stained cigarette butts. Had she died, there were certainly shittier ways to go than floating on a morphine high with a nicotine chaser, Peter mused. It would have been better than she deserved.
Next to Bishop’s near-corpse lay her weapons. A Sig P210, sterilized of all markings, fitted with a match grade barrel and mated to a slab-sided suppressor rested next to a hand built rifle. The rifle was derived from a short action Winchester model 70 and fed heavyweight, subsonic 9mm hollow points from modified P210 magazines. A massive, integral suppressor shrouded the whole of the barrel and extended slightly past the end of stock, which was made of light, rigid cocobolo wood. It was topped with a two power long eye relief ‘scout scope’ that clung to the the barrel/suppressor amalgam just beyond the receiver. In DeCarlo’s opinion it was an over-engineered act of condescension to every man who was willing put in the effort to make the off the shelf kit work.
This building was also allotted it’s fair share of dead bodies. Murdered civilians lay between the rows of desks, slumped over typewriters and bleeding on computer terminals. DeCarlo was numb to violence when the carcasses wore uniforms but there was a goddamn line, no matter what the idiots back home said.
Laslo finished bandaging Bishop as best he could and let out a long, hushed sigh. He had hoped the girl would be conscious by now. Carrying her down the mountain and to the lake was liable to get them both shot or drowned.
Laslo pulled a small square of cloth from a cargo pocket, wet it with his canteen, and touched it to Bishop’s cheek in an attempt to clean up some the dried blood. DeCarlo looked down at him, shook his head, wrapped his knuckles against his watch and returned to fiddling with his shotgun. The older soldier ignored that, for now, and redoubled his efforts against a particularly bad spot.Without even a tremble of warning Bishop grabbed his arm. She took a deep breath that hitched in her throat before going down in two uneven gulps.
Her eyes blinked open. Wakmann withdrew his hand.
Bishop mumbled “fuck” and took another difficult breath.
“Fuck you for taking this long... thank you for coming.” She continued. There was a little more life in her voice, but it was weaker than Laslo had ever heard it.
“How much pain are you in?” He queried in a concerned yet stern tone he’d perfected so many years ago.
“And can you walk?” DeCarlo added, loudly.
“A shitload... and probably.” She responded while searching with her right hand for a grab point on the cold, slick cabinet. Laslo rose and extended his hand. She took it quickly, but grimaced as he hauled her onto her feet.
Bishop looked over her body, noting the new bandages and aging bloodstains. Laslo watched her eyes, trying to judge her mental state. They looked alert enough, but they also spoke of exhaustion, as did the languid blinks that came too often. Laslo didn’t see her enough in anything close to normal conditions to have a baseline, and abandoned his evaluation.
Bishop scanned both men. “Which one of you has the bag?”
Laslo looked puzzled for a moment, then pointed to DeCarlo. He produced a small zippered case that Viljo had given to him at the briefing.
Bishop motioned for him to throw it, and he did. To Laslo’s surprise - given how much morphine was doubtless still in her system - she caught it.
She opened it up, finding a handful of loaded P210 magazines - which she gingerly slotted into the pouches that sat at ten and two clock on her belt - and bottle of pills which she greedily opened, taking a few.
Laslo knew what those were: a German concoction that could make armies march 100 kilometers a day and one of the Commodore’s few vices. The fact that Bishop was on them too wasn’t a surprise but he hated them both for it.
Bishop bent over to pick up her weapons. Half way down she winced, pressed a hand against the bandage on her thigh and gave up.
Laslo picked them up for her. By the look on her face as he did so Laslo judged that this hurt her more than getting them herself would have. He handed over the P210 first, Bishop dropped the empty magazine into a pouch on her left hip, inserted a fresh one from her new supply, chambered a round, engaged the safety and holstered the graceful Swiss handgun on her right hip. She then looked over the rifle, squinted at something on the suppressor-barrel and held out her free hand to Laslo.
“What?” Laslo asked while he surveyed the ground for some component he may have forgotten to hand her.
“That rag you had, give it here, there’s some blood on the tube, see, and it will corrode if I leave it like this.”
Laslo gave her the rag with a compliant nod, but frowned inwardly. There was also blood on her neatly hemmed fatigue pants, her shirt, her freckled face and in her damn dark hair, but no, none of that bothered her. It was telling, and he didn’t like what it said.
DeCarlo had moved on to fidgeting with watch, turning the Seiko’s ratcheting bezel around and around. He was reminded of family gatherings and standing alone at the buffet while his married brothers bumbled about the backyard, chasing their kids and whispering to their wives. It was time to go.
“Right. I know we aren’t off schedule yet, but she ain’t gonna move very fast on that leg, no matter how hearty she is. We need to head out now if we want to have any margin. Don’t give Chanute a reason to fuck us over.”
“He’s right.” Bishop gave Laslo his rag back, slung her rifle and started for a door. Wakmann stood still a moment, gathering the remains of his medical kit.
DeCarlo waited for sufficient separation to open between his comrade and the girl, then pointed his twelve gauge at her stomach.
“Hold up.” He said, a hint of relish in his voice.
Wakmann drew his S&W and swiveled to face DeCarlo, but kept the weapon at low ready. His associate was no traitor. “What the hell are you doing, Peter?” He demanded.
“You and I are leaving, but she isn’t going anywhere until I get an answer about what happened here. You saw it all, this was a fucking massacre, and you don’t even think to ask her? Somebody has to, she’s the only person with a gun we’ve found so far and there are a lot of corpses with holes in ‘em.”
Bishop put rested her right hand on the P210, but left it holstered. She gave DeCarlo a crooked smile.
“I’m flattered.” She lied. “But no, this... all this bullshit was here when I arrived. Well, most of it was, the fellows that did it were just finishing up. Which is how I got this...” She lifted her left arm to show off the bandaged but still weeping wound. “I broke my own rules, waded in to try to stop it, got surrounded and had some rat take a swing at me with his favorite fucking machete while his buddies shot at me. They hit me, but they hit him more. The fuckwits bolted after they killed their buddy but it was too late for the civvies. All I could do was crawl to a radio set in the office, which is why you’re here. If you have the time you could dig a bullet out of any of these poor bastards, you won’t find a single 9mm.”
DeCarlo thought for a moment. “You had an AK47 too, took it off those guys you killed in the jeep.”
“I didn’t kill anybody in a jeep and I didn’t take anybody’s rifle, but if they were locals it’s probably the same crew that liquidated this place. The sentry out front was a local too, and they dropped him right quick.”
“So we’ve got a third group operational out here, perfect.” Laslo observed.
Bishop nodded. “They were communicating in German, but not very well, and when they panicked they let some Russian slip.”
DeCarlo lowered his shotgun. He wasn’t completely satisfied, but he doubted that somebody as fucked up as Bishop could formulate so elaborate a lie on the spot.
“So, Soviets?” DeCarlo questioned, disdainfully.
“Probably, the KGB is usually smoother than this, but it would make sense to have flunkies do the massacring so they can be burned later without much cost to the agency.” Bishop replied.
Wakmann starting moving, leading the group out the back gate, toward the lake and away from the drop zone.
“The use of German means NATO could be blamed and it’s easy enough for intelligence officers to pick up the language when they rotate to the DDR.” He observed as they walked.
“But what did the reds get out of it?” DeCarlo challenged.
Bishop bummed a cigarette off Laslo and lit it. It was a violation of stealth, but if Wakmann and DeCarlo felt comfortable chattering like this they must be confident that the way was clear.
She took and drag then addressed DeCarlo. “There’s only a handful of reasons to kill on this scale. You’ve got racial hate, which is unlikely since quite a few of those scientists were whiter than snow. Then there’s simple madness, which may motivate one or two armed men, but not a squad of that size, then there’s the elimination of liability. Killing witnesses, people that know too much. That’s what I’d put my chips on.”
Bishop’s theory was probably correct and quite nicely delivered. Laslo didn’t like that. It was unnatural, she shouldn’t be stringing together coherent sentences at all, let alone conducting snappy field intelligence analysis. He blamed Viljo’s pills. The woman would crash hard - there were better ways to do this, this was the lazy way.
After a while they fell into noise discipline out of habit, and the conversation dropped off.
The group was nearly down the hill when they heard the churn of rotor blades. Laslo whipped around to scan the sky, DeCarlo fell to a crouch and drew his battle rifle, Bishop dropped to prone and drew no weapon, nothing she had would make a difference against a chopper.
“11 o’clock.” DeCarlo whispered. He had the helicopter in the center of his scope now.
“I see it.” Wakmann copied.
“Ugly little bastard, looks like an Alouette.” DeCarlo announced.
Bishop rose with some struggle to one knee and unslung her rifle. It wasn’t much of a weapon at this distance, but it could still be a serviceable spyglass.
“I’ve got a pilot, observer, and a gunner on a DshKa.” She noted.
“Warsaw Pact gun in a French chopper. Somebody’s playing games.” Laslo replied.
“There’s a slung load, not very big though.” DeCarlo added.
A searchlight mounted on the nose of the craft flickered to life.
“Get down.” Laslo ordered.
The beam danced around the observatory as the helicopter slowly moved into position above the center of the site. The whine of its solitary turboshaft increased in pitch as the pilot compelled it to claim straight up for the better part of thirty seconds.
Still centered above the observatory but now 800 feet higher the craft released its slung load. It was barrel shaped and dropped straight down. It impacted the roof of the central building and burst apart. The mountaintop was rapidly coated in vapor.
“Oh fuck...” Laslo intoned.
A second object was dropped from the Alouette, released almost casually from the gunner’s door. Ten seconds later it detonated, igniting the cloud of fuel that had just been dispersed.
The fireball was massive and short lived. The observatory compound was vaporized in a blink. Fuel air bombs were cheap and simple weapons but good God were they ever thorough.
“Is everybody alright?” Wakmann asked after his ears stopped ringing.
“Fucking hell, thermobaric fucking ordnance.” DeCarlo replied.
Wakmann took that as a yes. He then looked for Bishop and found her doubled over, a pool of vomit at her feet.
“Bishop! You alright?”
“I wasn’t feeling too good before and the shockwave finished the goddamn job.” She replied after taking a few long yet shallow breaths.
“Can you still move?”
“Sure... yeah, let’s go. Whoever’s op this is they just gave up all pretense of secrecy, which means they’re either retreating or getting ready to send this whole island to hell.”
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