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ECONOMY UPGRADE: Russia’s economic management receives multiple endorsements

Successful eurobond sale in September, credit upgrade by Fitch, and sharp improvement in World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking, all confirm effectiveness of Russian government’s economic policies, amidst strengthening recovery.

Alexander Mercouris

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As economic recovery in Russia continues to gain hold, Russia has received authoritative endorsement both for its successful macroeconomic policies and for its rapidly improving business conditions.

The US credit rating agency Fitch on 14th October 2016 upgraded Russia’s rating from BBB- (negative) to BBB- (stable).

Normally I pay no attention to ratings decisions by US credit rating agencies, which have been proved repeatedly wrong, and which in Russia’s case are blatantly politicised. 

Back in 2015, during the worst period of the recession, I pointed out how obviously and completely wrong the decisions of the US credit rating agencies to downgrade Russia’s credit rating at that time were.

The market clearly agrees with me.  Fitch’s Russia rating is only just investment grade, whilst those of S&P and Moody’s actually give Russia a junk rating.  In spite of this – and as I predicted – Russia’s last eurobond issue in September was six times oversubscribed, with almost the entirety of the issue on this occasion sold to US investors.  Even the Western financial media has been finally forced to admit that Russia’s latest eurobond issue was a success.

If I refer to Fitch’s latest upgrade of Russia’s rating, it is not because I agree with Fitch’s rating of Russia (I don’t) but because of what Fitch has to say about Russia’s economic policy

“Russia has implemented a coherent and credible policy response to the sharp fall in oil prices. A flexible exchange rate, inflation targeting, fiscal consolidation and financial sector support have allowed the economy to adjust and domestic confidence to return gradually. The strength and quality of the policy response stands out relative to those of other oil producers similarly affected by the oil price shock.”

(bold italics added)

In other words Russia has responded to the oil price fall intelligently and successfully – more so than have the other oil producers. 

In his State of the Union address of 20th January 2015 US President Obama famously gloated

“today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters.”

Judging by the success of its latest eurobond issue, and the credit upgrade Russia has just been given by Fitch, neither the market nor even Fitch agree with him.

Meanwhile Russia’s World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking continues its rapid rise. 

In 2011 Russia’s ranking was 123 in the survey out of 183.  By 2014 it had risen to 62 out of 189, by 2015 to 51 out of 189, and in this year’s survey it has risen again to 40 out of 190. 

When I discussed last year’s survey I made the point that the dramatic improvement in Russia’s World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking is simply incompatible with Russia being the corrupt kleptocracy of the West’s imagination

“In corrupt kleptocratic oligarchies courts do not function efficiently, contracts are not performed and enforced, rights of minority shareholders are not protected, and people are not able to register their property easily and do not pay their taxes.”

I also pointed out that the rapid improvement of Russia’s World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking proves that the claim that Russia is not “reforming” its economy is quite simply wrong.  Russia is not only continuously reforming its economy, but it is doing so successfully

“……the demand for more and more “reforms” simply ignores the fact that reforms are in fact being carried out.

Anyone who reads through the World Bank’s annual surveys will see that they are all about “reforms”. It is precisely because Russia is carrying out “reforms” that its ranking is rising so fast.

To be clear, modernising the court system, introducing a new bankruptcy law, simplifying procedures for connecting to the electricity supply, and passing laws on registering property and on administering bankruptcy, are reforms.

They may lack the drama of breaking up Gazprom, but academic research, historical experience and the World Bank all say the same thing: it is these sort of unexciting reforms that in the end are the ones that make a difference and which produce results.

In other words Russia is reforming, and it is doing so successfully, in a methodical and purposeful way.

Doing so requires hard work and unremitting attention to detail. The Russian authorities deserve credit for successfully doing it, not the criticism for doing nothing that they normally get.”

I also made an extended point about what Russia’s ranking in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business survey says about the overall level of Russia’s society and economy.  The continued advance in Russia’s ranking to 40th in the world shows that this point remains valid, so I reproduce it here in full

“The second point is that if one looks at what sort of countries now outrank Russia in the survey, it turns out that they are – broadly speaking – the three Asian industrial giants: Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, the two Asian city states of Hong Kong and Singapore, and the traditional and well established industrialised societies of the West: the US, the three rich countries of the British commonwealth (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and most (though not all) the states of the EU – in sum what was once called “the first world”.

If one removes the one indicator where Russia scores especially badly, Trading Across Borders – for which there are special reasons (see above) – Russia becomes even more clearly aligned with these “first world” countries rather than with those countries that make up what used to be called “the third world”.

The Russian government’s target is to achieve 20th place in the World Bank’s ease of doing business survey by 2018. That may be too optimistic, though it is worth pointing out that the target for this year was 50th, which Russia only missed by one place.

If Russia does achieve a ranking of 20th in the world by 2018 then it will be right in the middle of the “first world” group of countries rather than just outside it. At that point it will also have one of the best business climates in the world.

Even if Russia does not achieve 20th position by 2018, the pace of improvement in the rankings is so fast it suggests Russia will break in fully in terms of quality of its business climate into the list of “first world” countries before long.”

Inevitably, as Russia’s position in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business survey has rapidly improved, some commentators both in the West and Russia have cast doubt on the survey, even though its methodology is rigorous (originating apparently with Harvard University) and even though it is based on thorough field work.   Needless to say these are the same commentators who regularly cited the survey when Russia’s ranking in it was poor.

There is in fact no reason to think the rapid rise in Russia’s position in the survey does not reflect actual business conditions.  As I said in my discussion of last year’s survey, its results were anecdotally confirmed to me in a meeting I had with a group of local businessmen in Perm. 

A far more authoritative person has now come forward and said the same thing.  This is German Gref, the single individual who is perhaps best informed about conditions for businesses in Russia because he is the CEO of Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, which is the national (as opposed to local) bank that small businesses in Russia are most likely to look to for credit. 

Gref stands politically at the farthest liberal end of the spectrum of Russia’s political and economic establishment, and he is far from shy about criticising the government, which he does frequently.  Yet in a meeting with Putin on 4th August 2016 he confirmed the improvement in business conditions in Russia

“I think that the environment that we will have in place by the end of 2016, when all of the legal amendments take effect, will mean that Russia will be offering one of the most interesting and technologically convenient environments for small businesses.”

(bold italics added)

Because of the extremely poor relations between the West and Russia, Russia’s economy and its economic management are continuously and relentlessly criticised in a way which plays well to Western prejudice but which grossly distorts understanding of the country and its government.

Russia’s highly conservative macroeconomic policies emphasising tight budget discipline (the federal budget deficit at the peak of the recession was 3% of GDP, roughly the same as that of the US and below that of Britain during their ‘recoveries’, with the Russian government planning to cut the deficit by 1% of GDP over each coming year), low taxes (income tax is levied at a flat rate of 13%), high real interest rates (currently around 4% above inflation), open financial markets, low debt (government debt in Russia is 17.7% of GDP compared to 104% in the US, 229% in Japan, 89% in Britain, 96% in France and 71% in Germany), low external debt (roughly 20% of Russia’s GDP, compared to 114% of the US’s, 570% of Britain’s, 220% of France’s, 145% of Germany’s and 60% of Japan’s) and floating exchange rate, have in reality enabled Russia – as Fitch says – to adjust rapidly and very successfully to the fall in oil prices.

At the same time the rapid improvement in business conditions shown by the rapid rise of Russia’s ranking in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business survey shows that Russia is also working hard and successfully at getting its microeconomic conditions right.

In other words the people who run Russia’s economy know their job and by and large they do it well. 

That does not mean they are infallible.  In my opinion interest rates are far too high, with the 4% inflation target for next year in danger of becoming a fetish. 

However compared to the appalling mismanagement one sees elsewhere, far from being the collapsing kleptocratic empire of Western fancy, Russia looks like an island of stability and good sense.

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How the U.N. Joined America’s War Against Syria

Right and left, America’s ‘news’-media are loaded with rot — especially regarding foreign countries, including Syria.

Eric Zuesse

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America has been at war to transfer control of Syria over to the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia; and America has been trying to do this ever since the first of the CIA’s coups against Syria failed in 1949. But only during the U.S. Presidency of Barack Obama did the United Nations become a tool in this American enterprise. Obama entered the White House in 2009 secretly hoping to be able to overthrow Syria’s Government; and when the CIA-assisted “Arab Spring” uprisings in the Arab world started flowering in 2011, the U.S. Government had the important U.N. operatives fully on-board assisting the U.S. Government to assist this overthrow — to hand Syria to the Sauds (the Sauds being America’s most important international ally, andthe world’s richest family) to control.

By the time of June 2011, the Obama State Department, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was already deep into planning the overthrow not only of Syria’s Government (planning the international recruitment of jihadists to do that), but of Ukraine’s Government (planning international recruitment of nazis to do that).

Although the common view is that America’s main allies are European, that viewpoint is no longer true. Today’s America is allied mainly with the Sauds, and with Israel, which latter is the Sauds’ chief lobbying arm both in North America and in Europe, because Christian-majority populations are far more sympathetic to Jews than to Moslems. For a politician to be publicly sympathetic to Jews is much better for a politician than for him/her to be publicly sympathetic to Muslims. So, Israel carries the Sauds’ lobbying water, not only their own.

On 3 December 2011 (near the end of the year when the “Arab Spring” started), the independent investigative journalist Sibel Edmonds headlined “US Media: Distorters of Reality & Gravediggers of Truth”, and she reported:

Follow Up — The Continued Blackout on West’s Secret Training & Support Camp in Turkey for War on Syria

12 days ago, on November 21, here at Boiling Frogs Post, I reported on the ongoing joint US-NATO secret training camp in the US air force base in Incirlik, Turkey, which began operations in April-May 2011 to organize and expand the dissident base in Syria. I had received the information for that story from multiple sources including highly credible insiders in Turkey and government insiders here in the US. …

I immediately started checking our infamous US mainstream media sites — still nothing on this significant information. I then contacted one of my high-level sources and asked why he had come to me with his documented report instead of going directly to the big guys. With several credible insiders as his corroborators and a high-level official in Turkey, he would have no problem getting their attention. And his response? Well here it is minus a few expletives:

“Who said we didn’t go to MSM [Main Stream Media] first? We got them the info back in October. First they were interested and drooling. At least the reporters. Then, they disappeared.” …
I was the last resort. … This goes down as one more example of very many cases of intentional, willful censorship by the US mainstream media and their so-many-times-proven role as distorters of reality and gravediggers of the truth.

Keeping the “MSM” on-board was likewise something that went back as far as the CIA’s “Operation Mockingbird” had started in 1948 with the cooperation of all of the United States’ mainstream ‘news’-media, and of virtually all of the ‘alternative’ news-media. (The case against the latter, the ‘alternative’ media, was documented by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall here and here; and by me here; with both of us relying heavily upon the encyclopedic researches from Bob Feldman, who is the major historian of the corruptness of almost all of America’s ‘progressive’ ‘news’ media — the present medium being obviously among the few exceptions that actually is progressive, and this article is simultaneously distributed to all media, so all media have been invited to publish it.) (The corruptness of self-declared conservative ‘news’-media is virtually automatic, since their chief function is to aggrandize the aristocracy — doing that is what defines them; they are clearly doing what they are paid to do, whereas the non-conservative media need to use subterfuges to do it, in order for them to seem to be supportive of the poor, which conservative media don’t even pretend to support.)

Right and left, America’s ‘news’-media are loaded with rot — especially regarding foreign countries, including Syria. Here are a few CIA documents from 2012 showing how obsequiously American ‘journalists’ respect and adhere to their CIA minders.

Aristocrats everywhere do business internationally and have much more of a personal interest in foreign relations than does the average person; so, lying about international relations is especially important to them, in order to control the masses on these matters, matters which aristocrats are especially determined to control. The aristocracy are the people who determine which nations are “allies” and which nations are “enemies.” The public don’t control that.

This is why the CIA, which is an agency of the U.S. aristocracy, has at least all of the mainstream ‘news’-media trumpeting their lies on foreign affairs. Aristocrats control their country’s foreign policies. Their international corporations demand this control, and tell the politicians what to do in foreign matters. The ‘news’-media provide the back-up for the politicians’ lies. They’re all on the same team, the aristocracy’s team. They all are agents for the aristocracy, against the public — and not only against whichever foreign aristocracies are labeled “enemy” nations (i.e., as being suitable targets for the given aristocracy’s military — places where the U.S. aristocracy’s weapons-manufacturing corporations such as Lockheed Martin don’t sell their wares but instead upon which those wares are to be used, as targets, the opposite end of the international weapons-trade from the “allies,” which are themarkets-side, instead of the targets-side).

International relations is relations between aristocracies. The publics are ignored.

So, if democracy exists anywhere or at all, then it exists only in regards to domestic issues. However, studies have shown that even on domestic issues, the U.S. Government ignores the U.S. public — the U.S. is totally an aristocracy; it’s no democracy at all, not even on domestic issues, such asMedicare-for-all.

That’s the reason why Sibel Edmonds found herself to be a “last resort.” That was a euphemism referring actually to a dead-end for the important news — for the type of news that would have contradicted the Obama Administration’s infamous joyous lie-based “We came, we saw, he died!” (the Libya case), and now the follow-on invasion and destruction of Syria. (Trump continues Obama’s aggressions; he doesn’t end them. It doesn’t make much difference whom the occupant of the White House is, at least not regarding foreign relations, because the same aristocracy remains in control of U.S. foreign relations, even though that might be a different faction of this aristocracy — Obama representing the liberal billionaires, and Trump representing some of the conservative ones, but they are different segments of the same aristocracy; nobody in such a Government represents the public).

Here’s how psychopathic the U.S.-and allied aristocracies are:

A video shows at 2:18 that it was taken on “27/11/2012,” and it’s titled, “EMIR OF QATAR AND PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY STEAL SYRIAN OIL EXCAVATORS – ENGLISH SUBTITLES”. Both Qatar’s Emir and Turkey’s Prime Minister are enormously wealthy individuals, but they wanted still more. Both were there using their being heads-of-state so as to assist not only their own wealth but America’s and Europe’s aristocracies to steal and sell oil and oil-well equipment from the Syrian public — from Syrians’ Government — for the benefits not only of those aristocrats but also of Al Qaeda and of ISIS (two jihadist groups trying to overthrow Syria’s Government). As Syrian News reported this, on 28 November 2012, “Emir of Qatar & Muslim Brotherhood Prime Minister of Turkey send their Al Qaeda FSA terrorists to Syria to destroy the country, kill the people and destroy whatever they can of its infrastructure so their companies would have jobs in the future to rebuild as they think they will win the war against Syria.”

Syrian News headlined on 5 September 2015, “What Did Syrians Do to Deserve the Hatred of the Whole World” and commented:

Syrians stood by each oppressed nation in the planet, all liberation movements from the colonial powers had their main offices in Syria, including South African anti-apartheid party…this is how the colonial powers revenge.

It is beyond kafkaesque to realize that virtually the entire world chants its enmity against the Syrian people, and their country, and that the rest have not even noticed.

On 2 September, “greatest psy op of the last century,” al Jazeera, degraded a photo of a drowned Syrian boy, into an emoticon, to use for a new round of imperial malfeasance against the SAR [that being an acronym for Syria’s Government]. It seems to be of no importance, that al Jazeera (renamed “al Khanzeera,” “the pigsty,” by Libyan patriots, during the destruction of their country), is owned by the absolute monarchy Qatar — “pronounced ‘gutter’”), the little Gulfie gas station that has spent over 3 billion dollars in looting and bombing Syria. Twenty-four hours later, a Google search of “drowned Syrian boy” yielded over 10 million ‘hits’ (a number which has jumped to over 14 million, 48 hours later), reports which neglect to mention there was no Syrian refugee crisis before the mass-murderers of the colonial powers, and their Levant and Gulfie rabid dogs decided to “arab spring” Syria. …

On Sunday, 23 August, the city of Damascus came under massive mortar and missile attacks by the Obama-Cameron moderate death squads. Seven days later, the Syrian Arab Army [Syrian Government’s Army] Facebook page posted the following:

“The city of Damascus had 4.5 to 5 million inhabitants in 2011. Today and due to the war there are over 8.5 million inhabitants in the city; most of which were forced outside of their homes by the “moderate rebels” backed by NATO in general specifically the U.S. Turkey and France; also backedand financed by the terrorist nations of the Gulf. …
The cacaphony of murderous silence among the Vichy [nazi] media and sham activists and NGOs [charities that are funded by U.S.-and-allied aristocracies] has increased, exponentially, in perverse rhyme, with the increase in the bombings of the villages of Kafraya and al Foua, in Idlib countryside. In mid-August, the Syrians of these villages had been the beneficiaries of more than 1,500 missile attacks — from moderate rebel mass murderers — that have destroyed 60% of their houses. …

The punishment of the Syrian people for refusing the Obama plan of regime change cannot be missed in this organized ongoing assault by NATO and stooges for the past 4.5 years. …
The punishment of the Syrian people for refusing the Obama plan of regime change cannot be missed in this organized ongoing assault by NATO and stooges for the past 4.5 years. …

On 28 February 2018, Syria News bannered “Deep State Hyenas Flaunt [Flout] Law, Ravenous for More Syrian Blood” and opened:

The globalist deep state hyenas have reached a new low in delirious frenzy against Syria. While screaming international law! they flaunt [flout] it, and flaunt their insatiable lust for Syrian blood. The mania of the terrorists in suits is so out of control that they appear to have abandoned their chemical conspiracy planned for Idlib. Instead, they scream in unison for the preservation of serial killers occupying eastern Ghouta.  Savages they would call by rightful names in western countries are converted to innocent women and children [in Western media]. These hyenas ignore more than 1,000 terrorist mortars and missiles fired by Ghouta terrorists into Damascus. They hold the Goebbels Big Lie proudly over their heads, knowing their elite club is one of destruction, that none of its members will speak the truth. …

The deep state hyenas introduced the foreign-armed, foreign-paid, and foreign takfiri [jihadists] of al Ghouta onto the world stage in August 2013. The stupid, inbred, savages accidentally slaughtered many of their own, and thus ratted out having been given chemical weapons by Prince Bandar, because he neglected to give them proper instruction on their use. The admission was of no matter to the perpetual warriors, including Nobel Peace Laureate cum war criminal, POTUS Obama. Nor was concern voiced by the humanitarian bastards that several of the dead Syrians were recognized as having been kidnapped in Latakia countryside (similarly, the hyenas were too sedated to report on the moment long awaited, when 58 Syrian women and their children abductees were released in exchange for imprisoned terrorists of al Qaeda). …

On 21 February, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights [sic] Zeid Ra’ad al Husseini frothed at the mouth over the “monstrous annihilation” in Eastern Ghouta.  He tossed words like international humanitarian law, and war crimes about [against the Government].

That article has a lengthy section which opens:

THE UN:  HYENAS LEADERSHIP

Animals running in packs require leadership.  Who is better qualified to lead beasts known to take advantage of other animals’ kills for easy prey, devouring every part including bones, than the well-manicured and polished diplomats of the United Nations?

All of that is true, and it even understates the reality. For example, though the article documents that Jordan, next door to Syria, is a key part of America’s effort to overthrow Assad, it fails to note that Zeid Ra’ad al Husseini, that cited high U.N. official on Syria, is a Jordanian Prince. He’s doing what the royal family of Jordan do. Otherwise, that article is an excellent description of the U.N. Administration’s extreme prejudices in favor of the U.S. game-plans for conquest, especially for their conquest of Syria.

However, on 3 March 2018, Syria News revealed that an even more important U.N. official on Syria has also been working secretly with the U.S. to assist overthrow of Syria’s Government. Headlining “Rotten, Secret Diplomatic Meeting that Launched UN Frenzy against Syria”, they reported that,

In possession of a diplomatic telegram [TD], Pan Arabic al Akhbar gave a detailed report 24 February on the nefarious, colonialist plot:

In a somewhat familiar but precise English, Benjamin Norman – a diplomat in charge of the Middle East at the British Embassy in Washington – reports in a confidential diplomatic telegram of the first meeting of the “Small American Group on Syria” (United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan), held in Washington on January 11, 2018.

In this five-page TD, he reveals the details of the “Western strategy” in Syria: partition of the country, sabotage of Sochi, framing of Turkey and instructions to the UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura who leads the negotiations of Geneva. A Non Paper (8 pages) accompanies this TD in anticipation of the second meeting of the “Small Group”. It was held in Paris on January 23, mainly devoted to the use of chemical weapons and the “instructions” sent by the “Small American Group” to Staffan de Mistura.

In fact, Trump is now protecting both Al Qaeda and ISIS in order to conquer Syria. And he has the U.N.’s backing in this. On Friday, 7 September 2018, America’s Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty headlined “UN Syria Envoy Warns of ‘Perfect Storm’ for Disaster in Idlib” and reported that:

The U.N. envoy for Syria warned Friday that all the ingredients exist for a “perfect storm” of a humanitarian catastrophe if the Syrian government, backed by Russia, carries out a large-scale military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib.

“The dangers are profound that any battle for Idlib could be — would be — a horrific and bloody battle,” Staffan de Mistura told U.N. Security Council members via videoconference. “Civilians are its potential victims.”

As I have documented at the link here:

Idlib has consistently been showing as being, by far, the most-pro-jihadist of all of Syria’s Governates, in the annual polls that the British polling organization, Orb International, has taken since 2014, throughout Syria. Idlib has been showing there as being over 90% in favor of jihadists and of jihadism — and specifically in favor of organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Staffan de Mistura and Prince Husseini refer to this matter as instead a “humanitarian catastrophe” if Syria, Russia, and Hezbollah, do what they will need to do in order to end the invasion of Syria by U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait, and Israel (and the jihadists they hire). The U.N. officials are treating this matter not as a thoroughly illegal invasion and military occupation of the sovereign nation of Syria, but instead as what will be a “humanitarian catastrophe” if Syria and its allies attack the area of Syria whose current residents are over 90% jihadists and supporters of jihadists. Syria and its allies are to be blamed for invading that jihadist cauldron, while U.S. and its allies are to be held immune from prosecution for their having used those jihadists, during the past 7 years — used them to invade and occupy not only Idlib but other parts of Syria.

Thus, the U.N. is not only holding U.S. Presidents and other international invaders above international law, but it is now positively assisting them under the fake rubric of “humanitarian” concerns, so as to support the U.S. alliance’s invasions and military occupations. The U.N., which was supposed to have been opposing international aggression is now assisting it when ‘the right leaders’ do it. This is no organization supporting democracy — it is the opposite: an international scheme to back the U.S. alliance’s invasions and military occupations. War is ugly. Apparently, the U.N. has become even uglier than that — supporting the invaders and military occupiers of a sovereign nation.

This is the reason why Syria and its allies have placed on-hold their planned elimination of the jihadists in Idlib and will create a DMZ between Idlib and the adjoining areas of Syria. Further details and context on that can be seen here. Perhaps now, the high U.N. officials who have been claiming that the elimination of those jihadists would produce a “humanitarian catastrophe” will change their tunes and publicly acknowledge that it would instead be a practical necessity.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Deep State insurrection defying POTUS Trump’s order to release unredacted FISA docs (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 113.

Alex Christoforou

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Deep State officials like ex-CIA chief John Brennan are in panic mode.

Deep State DOJ tool Rod Rosenstein refuses to comply with Trump’s executive order as afforded him by the US Constitution.

Establishment Democrats are all over the mainstream media channels calling the act of releasing documents criminal.

The US President wants every American citizen to see the full, unredacted version of the FISA documents used to spy on Carter Page. Trump is simply asking for full transparency, in what has become a two year, multi-million dollar witch hunt, to find collusion where there is none.

This is all you need to know about the hoax that was and is Trump-Russia collusion and the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the insurrection taking place at the US Department of Justice, as Democrats, ex-Obama officials, and DOJ directors are doing everything in their power to make sure the truth, about how the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page was obtained, remains hidden from the eyes of the American public.

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Via Zerohedge


Despite President Trump’s Monday order for the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials related to the Russia investigation, “without redaction,” the agencies involved are planning to do so anyway, according to Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are going through a methodical review and can’t offer a timeline for finishing, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive matter. –Bloomberg

Trump ordered the DOJ to release the text messages of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also ordered released are specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The DOJ and the FBI are expected to submit proposed redactions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – which will prepare a package for Trump to sign off on.

“When the president issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests,” a Justice Department spokesman said in a statement. “The department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the president’s order.”

The agencies are likely to cite national security concerns over revealing classified “sources and methods” pertaining to the Russia investigation – which will put them in direct conflict with Trump’s order. Trump, as president, has the power to override the agencies and declassify material on his own.

Trump’s order to release the documents comes after months of requests from GOP lawmakers, while the DOJ has repeatedly denied their requests for more transparency.

The FBI’s spy…

According to Bloomberg, the DOJ is interpreting Trump’s request to include information about the use of confidential informant (spy) Stephan Halper during the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation. After taking in over $400,000 from the Obama Pentagon under the auspices of a research contract, Halper befriended and spied on members of the Trump campaign, including aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Showdown?

Top Congressional Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff and Mark Warner penned a joint letter to ODNI Director Dan Coates, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding that the agencies defy President Trump.

In the letter, the lawmakers “express profound alarm” at the decision to “intervene in an ongoing law enforcement investigation that may implicate the President himself or those around him.”

“Any decision by your offices to share this material with the President or his lawyers will violate longstanding Department of Justice polices, as well as assurances you have provided to us.”

The letter then demands that the agencies brief the Gang of Eight before releasing the materials “to anyone at the White House.”

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Trump Weighs In On The Single Worst Mistake In American History

Trump hits Bush: Invading Iraq ‘the single worst decision ever made’.

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Via Zerohedge


In a wide ranging interview with The Hill on Tuesday conducted in the Oval Office, President Trump was asked to give his take on the biggest mistake in American history.

Considering just how open-ended a question that is, it’s perhaps surprising that he merely went back less than a couple decades into the Bush presidency, though Trump’s base will certainly welcome it as it hearkens back to his “America First” foreign policy vision of the campaign trail.

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush,” the president during his interview with Hill.TV.

“Obama may have gotten them (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country,” he said.

Trump explained the reasoning behind this choice, and why it wasn’t something like the civil war or another defining and devastating event reaching far into American History.

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Some scholars and humanitarian groups estimate that over one million Iraqis were killed in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003. A 2008 Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll, for example, found that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

“To me it’s the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.”

Various estimates on the Iraq war’s cost have put the total taxpayer bill as low as near $2 trillion, but none dispute that it is in the multiple trillions, and estimates will vary widely depending on if veteran care is factored into it.

The comments echo things Trump said on the campaign trail in 2016. For example during one of his first major foreign policy speeches then candidate Trump said, “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.” And referencing the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, he said during the same speech, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.”

He had previously shocked pundits for being the first Republican nominee for president to trash George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and has more recently likened it to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest”.

All of this is a hopeful sign considering the extremely heightened and dangerous tensions over Syria this week, and given Trump seems to have vacillated between “bringing the troops home” and getting more involved. On Monday Trump hinted that a decision on the U.S. role in Syria is coming soon.

Commenting on the over 2,000 troops now in Syria ostensibly as part of the “anti-ISIL” coalition campaign, Trump indicated this mission could end soon: “We’re very close to being finished with that job,” he said. He followed with: “And then we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re going to do.”

We consider it a hopeful and a good sign that Trump is possibly revisiting his “America First” foreign policy pledges by identifying the Iraq War as the worst mistake in US history.

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