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John Bolton and Canada’s Trudeau knew of Huawei CFO arrest. Failed to inform Trump (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 33.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at how John Bolton and Canadian PM Trudeau knew ahead of time that Huawei CFO was to be arrested and never informed Trump…knowing that as Meng was being arrested in Canada, the US President was sitting down for trade talks with China’s President Xi.

According to Reuters, and rather inexplicably, even as Bolton knew about Meng’s imminent arrest, President Donald Trump was reportedly unaware the U.S. had requested Meng’s extradition from Canada before he joined Chinese President Xi Jinping for dinner on Saturday, a White House official said.

The news would imply that the White House was not planning to use the arrest of the Huawei CFO as part of a “hostage” negotiation strategy in trade talks with China at the G20.

Adding a further level of deceit and complication to the bizarre story, was news emerging that while Trump reportedly did not know about the DOJ’s extradition request, Canada’s PM Trudeau did, something Trudeau told reporters during a press conference in Montreal…

“We are a country of an independent judiciary and the appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference”

“We were advised by them with a few days’ notice that this was in the works.”

Meanwhile China is preparing its retaliation against the abduction of the Huawei CFO.

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Via Zerohedge


Update: Reuters has confirmed the earlier Bloomberg report that Wanzhou’s arrest has provoked “intense debate” among senior Communist Party officials about how to respond.

According to a separate report, Huawei has made a $2 billion “commitment” to address “security concerns” raised by the British government earlier this year.

* * *

As Beijing’s outrage over the arrest of Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng simmers ahead of her Friday arraignment in a Canadian court, Bloomberg has shed some light on how news of her arrest has resonated with different factions in the Chinese leadership.

The upshot is that while officials in charge of managing China’s trade negotiations believe China shouldn’t allow Wanzhou’s arrest to impact trade negotiations, hardline national security officials believe the arrest is an embarrassment to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who reportedly had ‘no idea’ that the daughter of a Chinese business icon and Communist Party member had been arrested in Canada – and that China should use trade talks as leverage to demand that she be released.

Western media outlets have reported that, while White House officials and National Security Advisor John Bolton knew about Wanzhou’s arrest before Saturday’s meeting between Trump and Xi, the president somehow had no idea.

Now, BBG is reporting that Xi similarly had no idea that one of his country’s most prominent executives had been taken into custody hours before he sat down with Trump. This asymmetry is viewed as deeply embarrassing to China’s leader, and many believe that simply letting trade negotiations to move forward as plan would be an unconscionable capitulation – particularly if (as many analysts believe) the Trump Administration intends to use her arrest as leverage.

Still others believe that Wanzhou’s arrest is a “gift” for Xi, because it gives cover for the Chinese to dig in their heels and accuse the US of using the trade war as a pretext to stymie China’s ascent as a global superpower. In light of Wanzhou’s arrest, such a stance would likely garner more sympathy from the rest of the world.

As China contemplates how to respond, at least there is one silver lining: It helps China appear sincere to the world in wanting to resolve the trade war. He can say he is trying to resolve the issue but the US has an entrenched strategy to cut off China’s rise as a global power – a theme that state-run media picked up on Friday.

“The Huawei arrest gives China’s leaders a huge gift,’ said Barry Naughton, a professor at the University of California in San Diego who studies China. “It makes super plausible the narrative they’ve been trying to promote all along: ‘The U.S. just can’t stand our rise, they can’t stand to lose their dominance, they can’t treat anybody like an equal.'”

But one salient fact has been agreed on by all sides: Wanzhou’s arrest doesn’t bode well for a trade detente.

Officials concerned about the economy warned a collapse in trade talks would hurt China more than the Huawei arrest. Trump has threatened to raise tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods if a deal isn’t reached in 90 days. In the worst case of a 25 percent duty on all Chinese goods, 2019 economic growth could slump about 1.5 percentage points to 5 percent, down from 6.6 forecast for this year, according to Bloomberg Economics.

“The detention of Huawei’s CFO is not an accidental incident and will cast a shadow over the trade talks, but both sides will work hard to avert that bad influence,” said Wei Jianguo, former vice minister of commerce and now a vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. “The negotiation between Chinese and U.S. working groups is going smoothly, and actually much better than people outside expected.”

Because even if President Xi does opt to continue negotiating as per Saturday’s deal, he will now need to extract even more concessions in order not to look powerless. And although Chinese officials have said they won’t retaliate by arresting US executives – well – we wouldn’t blame any US executives in China for grabbing their passports and chartering a flight to anywhere but China as quickly as humanly possible.

“Ms. Meng’s arrest threatens to make China’s leadership look powerless in securing the release of not only a citizen, but a senior executive and daughter of one of China’s business icons,” said Michael Hirson, Asia director at Eurasia Group and a former U.S. Treasury Department official. “Nationalist sentiment will thus make it harder for Beijing to offer major concessions to Trump.”

Publicly, at least, China is keeping the issues separate. On Thursday, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters that China is implementing agreements reached with the U.S. on agriculture, autos and energy. “In the next 90 days we will work in accordance with the clear timetable and road map” to negotiate in areas of mutual benefit, he said.

Then on Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang dismissed concerns that China would retaliate against U.S. companies.

“China always protects the legal rights and interests of foreigners in China, but they should also abide by all Chinese laws and regulations,” Geng said.

In what’s perhaps the clearest indication of China’s outrage over the arrest, government-run media railed against Meng’s arrest in editorials published on Friday.

“Obviously Washington is resorting to a despicable rogue’s approach as it cannot stop Huawei’s 5G advance in the market,” the Communist Mouthpiece Global Times said in an editorial.

The upshot: If the US tries to use Whenzhou’s arrest as leverage, they could wind up killing a promising deal.

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Adrian E.

This criminal abduction clearly shows how wrong those people are who (absurdly) still believe Western countries stand in any way for a “rules-based international order”.

If we further take into account that the undignified vassal rogue nation Canada followed orders of the rogue nation US, which accuses the Chinese company of “violating US Iran sanctions” sanctions that themselves violate international norms and the agreement with Iran, which is supported by a resolution of the UN security council, it becomes clear to what degree Western rogue states have become centers of barbarism and lawlessness.

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Medieval, or even prehistoric politics. It reminds me of Some princeling inviting his brother and retinue to a peace banquet, and then killing them all during desert, and sending the body part to the children.

Quite an achievement by the American fuckwits of the Trumpledorian Washington regime. Special mention goes to Yosemite Sam Bolton and Mike Blowjob (Pompino) of the CIA.

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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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