Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Mueller report will contain the central-but-unproven allegation that Russian government hacked DNC and Podesta, gave emails to Wikileaks, and helped Trump win. Unless Trump challenges these falsehoods his epitaph will read, “Putin elected you”-Consortium News, VIPS

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The media have been playing the central role in the effort…to stymie any improvement in relations with Russia.“…“We also criticized Mueller for failing to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.”Trump, the man who beat the entire US political class to a pulp in 2016 to become US president, now has to be convinced to show a slight spine. 

4/16/19, “VIPS Fault Mueller Probe, Criticize Refusal To Interview Assange,” Consortium News 

“The bug in Mueller’s report to be released Thursday is that he accepts that the Russian government interfered in the election.  Trump should challenge that, says VIPS.” 

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President 

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) 

SUBJECT: The Fly in the Mueller Ointment 

Mr. President: 

The song has ended but the melody lingers on. The expected release Thursday of the redacted text of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election” will nudge the American people a tad closer to the truth on so-called “Russiagate.” 

But judging by Attorney General William Barr’s 4-page summary, the Mueller report will leave unscathed the central-but-unproven allegation that the Russian government hacked into the DNC and Podesta emails, gave them to WikiLeaks to publish, and helped you win the election. The thrust will be the same; namely, even if there is a lack of evidence that you colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin, you have him to thank for becoming president. And that melody will linger on for the rest of your presidency, unless you seize the moment. 

Mueller has accepted that central-but-unproven allegation as gospel truth, apparently in the lack of any disinterested, independent forensic work. Following the odd example of his erstwhile colleague, former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller apparently has relied for forensics on a discredited, DNC-hired firm named CrowdStrike, whose credibility is on a par with “pee-tape dossier” compiler Christopher Steele. Like Steele, CrowdStrike was hired and paid by the DNC (through a cutout). 

We brought the lack of independent forensics to the attention of Attorney General William Barr on March 13 in a Memorandum entitled “Mueller’s Forensic-Free Findings”, but received no reply or acknowledgement. In that Memorandum we described the results of our own independent, agenda-free forensic investigation led by two former Technical Directors of the NSA, who avoid squishy “assessments,” preferring to base their findings on fundamental principles of science and the scientific method. Our findings remain unchallenged; they reveal gaping holes in CrowdStrike’s conclusions. 

We do not know if Barr shared our March 13 Memorandum with you. As for taking a public position on the forensics issue, we suspect he is being circumspect in choosing his battles carefully, perhaps deferring until later a rigorous examination of the dubious technical work upon which Mueller seems to have relied. 

Barr’s Notification to Congress 

As you know, the big attention-getter came on March 24 when Attorney General William Barr included in his four-page summary a quote from Mueller’s report: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Understandably, that grabbed headlines — the more so, since most Americans had been convinced earlier by the media that the opposite was true. 

There remains, however, a huge fly in the ointment. Barr’s summary makes it clear that Mueller accepts as a given — an evidence-impoverished given that the Russian government interfered in the election on two tracks: 

Track 1 involves what Barr, echoing Mueller, claims “a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA)” did in using social media “to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.” A careful look at this allegation shows it to be without merit, despite Herculean efforts by the NY Times, for example, to put lipstick on this particular pig. After some rudimentary research, award winning investigative reporter Gareth Porter promptly put that pig out of its misery and brought home the bacon. We do not believe “Track 1” merits further commentary. 

Track 2 does need informed commentary, since it is more technical and — to most Americans — arcane. In Barr’s words: “The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election.” 

We are eager to see if Mueller’s report contains more persuasive forensic evidence than that which VIPS has already debunked. In Barr’s summary, the only mention of forensics refers to “forensic accountants” a far cry from the kind of forensic investigators needed to provide convincing proof of “hacking by the Russian government. 

But They Were Indicted! 

Circular reasoning is not likely to work for very long, even with a U.S. populace used to being brainwashed by the media. Many Americans had mistakenly assumed that Mueller’s indictment of Russianswhether they be posting on FaceBook or acting like intelligence officers — was proof of guilt. But, as lawyers regularly point out, “one can easily indict a ham sandwich” — easier still these days, if it comes with Russian dressing. 

Chances have now increased that the gullible folks who had been assured that Mueller would find collusion between you and Putin may now be a bit more circumspect — skeptical even — regarding the rest of the story-line of the “Russian hack,” and that will be even more likely among those with some technical background. Such specialists will have a field day, IF — and it is a capital “IF” — by some miracle, word of VIPS’ forensic findings gets into the media this time around. 

The evidence-impoverished, misleadingly labeled “Intelligence Community Assessment” of January 6, 2017 had one saving grace. The authors noted: “The nature of cyberspace makes attribution of cyber operations difficult but not impossible. Every kind of cyber operation — malicious or not — leaves a trail.” Forensic investigators can follow a trail of metadata and other technical properties. VIPS has done that. 

A “High-Class Entity?” 

If, as we strongly suspect, Mueller is relying for forensics solely on CrowdStrike, the discredited firm hired by the DNC in the spring of 2016, he is acting more in the mold of Inspector Clouseau than the crackerjack investigator he is reputed to be. It simply does not suffice for Mueller’s former colleague James Comey to tell Congress that CrowdStrike is a “high-class entity.” It is nothing of the sort and, in addition to its documented incompetence, it is riddled with conflicts of interest. Comey needs to explain why he kept the FBI away from the DNC computers after they were said to have been “hacked.” 

And former National Intelligence Director James Clapper needs to explain his claim last November [2018] that “the forensic evidence was overwhelming about what the Russians had done.” What forensic evidence? From CrowdStrike? We at VIPS, in contrast, are finding more and more forensic evidence that the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked by the Russians or anyone else — and that “Guccifer 2.0” is an out-and-out fraud. Yes, we can prove that from forensics too. 

But the Talking Heads Say… 

Again, if Mueller’s incomplete investigation is allowed to assume the status of Holy Writ, most Americans will continue to believe that — whether you colluded the Russians or not — Putin came through for you big time. In short, absent President Putin’s help, you would not be president. 

Far too many Americans will still believe this because of the mainstream-media fodder — half-cooked by intelligence leaks — that they have been fed for two and a half years. The media have been playing the central role in the effort of the MICIMATT (the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank) complex to stymie any improvement in relations with Russia. We in VIPS have repeatedly demonstrated that the core charges of Russian interference in the 2016 election are built on a house of cards. But, despite our record of accuracy on this issue — not to mention our pre-Iraq-war warnings about the fraudulent intelligence served up by our former colleagues — we have gotten no play in mainstream media. 

Most of us have chalked up decades in the intelligence business and many have extensive academic and government experience focusing on Russia. We consider the issue of “Russian interference” of overriding significance not only because that the allegation is mischievously bogus and easily disproven. More important, it has brought tension with nuclear-armed Russia to the kind of dangerous fever pitch not seen since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, when the Russian provocation was real — authentic, not synthetic. 

Sober minds resolved that crisis more than a half-century ago, and we all got to live another day. These days sober minds seem few and far between and a great deal is at stake. On the intelligence/forensics side, we have proved that the evidence adduced to “prove” that the Russians hacked into the DNC and Podesta emails and gave them to WikiLeaks is spurious. For example, we have examined metadata from one key document attributed to Russian hacking and shown that it was synthetically tainted with “Russian fingerprints.” 

Who Left the Bread Crumbs?
 

So, if it wasn’t the Russians, who left the “Russian” bread-crumb “fingerprints?” We do not know for sure; on this question we cannot draw a conclusion based on the principles of science-at least not yet. We suspect, however, that cyber warriors closer to home were responsible for inserting the “tell-tale signs” necessary to attribute “hacks” to Russia. We tacked on our more speculative views regarding this intriguing issue onto the end of our May 24, 2017 Memorandum to you entitled

“Intelligence Veterans Challenge Russia Hack Evidence” 

We recall that you were apprised of that Memorandum’s key findings because you ordered then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to talk to William Binney, one of our two former NSA Technical Directors and one of the principal authors of that Memorandum. On October 24, 2017, Pompeo began an hour-long meeting with Binney by explaining the genesis of the odd invitation to CIA Headquarters: “You are here because the president told me that if I really wanted to know about Russian hacking I needed to talk to you.” 

On the chance Pompeo has given you no report on his meeting with Binney, we can tell you that Binney, a plain-spoken, widely respected scientist, began by telling Pompeo that his (CIA) people were lying to him about Russian hacking and that he (Binney) could prove it. Pompeo reacted with disbelief, but then talked of following up with the FBI and NSA. We have no sign, though, that he followed through. And there is good reason to believe that Pompeo himself may have been reluctant to follow up with his subordinates in the Directorate of Digital Innovation created by CIA Director John Brennan in 2015. CIA malware and hacking tools are built by the Engineering Development Group, part of that relatively new Directorate. 

Obfuscation’ 

A leak from within the CIA, published on March 31, 2017 by WikiLeaks as part of the so-called “Vault 7” disclosures, exposed a cyber tool called “Marble,” which was used during 2016 for “obfuscation” (CIA’s word). This tool can be used to conduct a forensic attribution double game (aka a false-flag operation); it included test samples in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, and Russian. Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima, to her credit, immediately penned an informative article on the Marble cyber-tool, under the caching (and accurate) headline “WikiLeaks’ latest release of CIA cyber-tools could blow the cover on agency hacking operations.That was apparently before Nakashima “got the memo.” Mainstream media have otherwise avoided like the plague any mention of Marble. 

Mr. President, we do not know if CIA’s Marble, or tools like it, played some kind of role in the campaign to blame Russia for hacking the DNC. Nor do we know how candid the denizens of CIA’s Directorate of Digital Innovation have been with the White House — or with former Director Pompeo — on this touchy issue. Since it is still quite relevant, we will repeat below a paragraph included in our July 2017 Memorandum to you under the sub-heading “Putin and the Technology:” 

“We also do not know if you have discussed cyber issues in any detail with President Putin. In his interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, he seemed quite willing – perhaps even eager – to address issues related to the kind of cyber tools revealed in the Vault 7 disclosures, if only to indicate he has been briefed on them. Putin pointed out that today’s technology enables hacking to be “masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one can understand the origin” [of the hack] … And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack. Hackers may be anywhere,” he said. “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? … I can.”
 

As we told Attorney General Barr five weeks ago, we consider Mueller’s findings fundamentally flawed on the forensics side and ipso facto incomplete. We also criticized Mueller for failing to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. 

Political Enemies and Mainstream Media (Forgive the Redundancy)

You may be unaware that in March 2017 lawyers for Assange and the Justice Department (acting on behalf of the CIA) reportedly were very close to an agreement under which Assange would agree to discuss “technical evidence ruling out certain parties” in the leak of the DNC emails” and agree to redact some classified CIA information, in exchange for limited immunity. According to the investigative reporter John Solomon of The Hill, Sen. Mark Warner, D,VA, Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, learned of the incipient deal and told then-FBI Director Comey, who ordered an abrupt “stand down” and an end to the discussions with Assange.

Why did Comey and Warner put the kibosh on receiving “technical evidence ruling out certain parties [read Russia]? We won’t insult you with the obvious answer. Assange is now in prison, to the delight of so many — including Mrs. Clinton who has said Assange must now “answer for what he has done.”

But is it too late to follow up somehow on Assange’s offer? Might he or his associates be still willing to provide “technical evidence” showing, at least, who was not the culprit? 

You, Mr. President, could cause that to happen. You would have to buck strong resistance at every turn, and there all manner of ways that those with vested interests and a lot of practice in sabotage can try to thwart you — with the full cooperation of most media pundits. By now, you know all too well how that works.

But you are the president. And there may be no better time than now to face them down, show the spurious nature of the concocted “evidence” attempting to put you in “Putin’s pocket,” and — not least — lift the cloud that has prevented you from pursuing a more decent relationship with Russia. 

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity 

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical and; Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.) 
Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

James George Jatras, former U.S. diplomat and former foreign policy adviser to Senate leadership (Associate VIPS)

Larry Johnson, former CIA Intelligence Officer & former State Department Counter-Terrorism Official, (ret.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)

John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former Senior Investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003

Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, U.S. Army (ret.)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.)
Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, former Senior Estimates Officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA presidential briefer (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East & CIA political analyst (ret.)
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Robert Wing, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (former) (associate VIPS)

Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War”

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Comment: Thank-you to VIPs for their great work. Trump, the man who beat the entire US political class to a pulp in 2016 and became US president, now has to be coaxed into showing a slight spine. 
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Candidate Trump promised to deliver us from the “big, stupid bully” US had become with its endless foreign interventions, but Pres. Trump’s actions in Venezuela have made US a worse global bully than we could’ve imagined

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Candidate Trump said US will go from being a big stupid bully” to America First. NY Times interview, 3/26/2016 

“I’m not isolationist, but I am “America First.” So I like the expression. I’m “America First.” We have been disrespected, mocked, and ripped off for many many years by people that were smarter, shrewder, tougher….And we were the big bully…the big stupid bully and we were systematically ripped off by everybody....For instance, protecting Saudi Arabia and not being properly reimbursed for every penny that we spend, when they’re sitting with trillions of dollars….We’re going to be friendly with everybody, but we’re not going to be taken advantage of by anybody.” 

“One of the reasons we’re a debtor nation, we spend so much on the military, but the military isn’t for us. The military is to be policeman for other countries. And to watch over other countries.” 

At some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world.”  

We defend everybody. No matter who it is, we defend everybody. We’re defending the world. But we owe, soon, it’s soon to be $21 trillion. You know, it’s 19 now but it’s soon to be 21 trillion. But we defend everybody. When in doubt, come to the United States. We’ll defend you. In some cases free of charge.” 

Above quotes from 3/26/2016 Transcript of then Candidate Donald Trump’s interview with NY Times on range of foreign policy topicsNY Times  

3/26/2016, Transcript: Donald Trump Expounds on His Foreign Policy Views, NY Times  

Over two telephone conversations on Friday, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, discussed his views on foreign policy with Maggie Haberman and David E. Sanger of The New York Times. Here is an edited transcript of their interview (or just the highlights).”  
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4/16/19, Trump Vetoes Congressional Resolution to End Yemen War
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4/16/19, Poland is finalizing details of an anticipated deal to establish a U.S. military base in the country.”
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3/18/19, “Afghan Troops Frequently Robbed US-Funded Support Staff,” 

“SIGAR: [US taxpayer funded] Workers often detained [meaning, kidnapped, imprisoned], some $780,000 stolen from them.”


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4/14/19, “The U.S.-Mexican border is essentially wide open.…There is a general expectation in Mexico and Latin America that American immigration law is unenforced.”
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If President Trump wants to restore the US to respectability he should resign immediately. His actions as president have allowed all the world to see that US presidential elections are meaningless, that voters are ignored, that the US is an out of control failed state with zero credibility to lecture other countries about how they should conduct their affairs. Trump’s successor is irrelevant. The point to be made is that the office of US president is fake.  

Candidate Trump said no more will US be a “big stupid bully” and in any case we can’t afford it. He said US is $21 trillion in debt and can’t attend to its own needs because it has no money. As president, without blinking Trump has made the US an even more vicious bully and added to the $21 trillion debt he said was hurting us. As to Russia, friendships the sovereign nation of Russia chooses to have are none of Trump’s business. Neither are Venezuela’s sovereign affairs the business of Trump or US taxpayers. Trump laughs in the face of his voters as he seeks half a billion US taxpayer dollars to overthrow Venezuela’s elected government. Who will stop the US war machine? Certainly US voters have no power to do so. One hopes that a group of countries will join to enact regime change in the US. 

3/27/19, “Trump tells Russia to get its troops out of Venezuela, Reuters, Steve Holland, Lesley Wroughton 

“The Trump administration has asked Congress for up to $500 million in foreign aid to help “support a democratic transition in Venezuela, Pompeo said in written testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives.”…
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Added: 

4/13/19, “I’m Jumping Off the Trump Train: Assange Was the Last Straw,“ James George Jatras 

“To be sure, there have been other betrayals. The two strikes on Syria on phony chemical warfare accusations come immediately to mind. Or Trump’s failure to build the Mexican wall, coupled with repeated humiliating defeats in Congress with the predictability of Charlie Brown’s getting suckered by Lucy into trying to kick the football. 

At the same time there were excuses. On Syria, maybe the President was fed false intelligence. Or maybe Ivanka was upsetDaaaddyyy, you have to dooo something! Or maybe Trump knew the CW accusations against Damascus were fake but felt he had to act (an ominous sign in itself) to deflect charges of being Putin’s puppet, hence what could be deemed deliberately pinprick pro forma strikes. On the wall, well you can’t trust lawyers’ advice, he just doesn’t understand his legal authority well enough, or maybe he… 

But the Assange arrest and his upcoming renditi– – oops! – extradition to the United States are different. There’s no nuance. No excuse. No false intel report. No poor legal advice. 

It’s plain and simple. The same entities (Deep State, permanent government, the oligarchy, the Borg, whatever term you like) that targeted Trump with the phony Russia collusion narrative want Assange’s scalp nailed to the wall. It’s one thing for favored outlets like the Washington Post and CNN to disseminate classified information that favors the Deep State, quite another to reveal information contrary to its interests. As the premier dispenser of embarrassing secrets that facilitates online dissidence from the established narrative (also under attack by governments and their tech giant accomplices) an example must be made of Assange pour encourager les autres. He can count on being sentenced to rotting for decades in a nasty Office Space federal prison (the US will gladly waive the death penalty to spare the Brits’ prissy Euro-consciences) but may very well die soon enough of natural causes, perhaps like Slobodan Milošević. 

An essential role in Assange’s betrayal by Moreno was played by Trump’s Veep Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Former President Rafael Correa says a direct condition of Moreno’s getting a $4.2 billion IMF loan was Assange’s head on a platter.”… 

[“Less than two weeks ago, on February 21, Ecuador signed a deal securing the controversial IMF loan for a total of $4.2 billion, in addition to another $6 billion from other U.S.-dominated financial institutions like the World Bank, for a total of $10.2 billion."…"In the end, the US sway over the IMF meant that Ecuador was required to placate the US to get that money. Ecuador’s recent attempts to stake out a comparatively independent foreign policy, something of which the Assange asylum move was a product, made them a lot of enemies, particularly in the US. As the government now tries to get on the good side of the US, Assange was the main thing the Americans wanted.”] 

(continuing): “That’s a lot more plausible than establishment media reports that Assange was ejected for transgressing the Ecuadorians’ fastidious hygiene standards, which (whether based in fact or not) are just cynical defamations to justify his upcoming lynching. 

It’s irrelevant whether Trump – who theoretically is the boss of all US agency operatives working with their Brit colleagues to get their mitts on Assange – let the nab go forward because he was unwilling to order his minions to stand down or was powerless to do so. In that regard, it’s similar to pointlessly asking why he has the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad national security team he does. Is it because of “Javanka”? Is it because he’s beholden to a gaggle of oligarchs? (Supposedly his being a self-financed billionaire made him immune from such influences.)  Is it a reflection of a personality disorder? 

In the end it doesn’t matter why, all that matters is what is. With Assange’s arrest Trump is now exposed as the wholly owned subsidiary of the Swamp he ran against. He’s now just a wheel fixed to an axle. All he can do now is spin…. 

Trump has utterly failed to control the border, much less deal with related issues like remittances, birthright citizenship, and aliens illegally voting. As retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor observes: “Surely, Trump should have concluded by now that without an Executive Order that commits the U.S. Army to the defense of the southern border and limits cross-border traffic to legitimate commercial activity, mass illegal immigration will not stop… In a word, Trump refuses to take command and match rhetoric with action, then he will join the pantheon of failed presidents that promised the world only, this time, the American Republic’s existence hangs in the balance.” 

Unfortunately, Trump’s appointees uniformly neoconservatives, Bush-era warmongers, and GOP apparatchiki – have better things for our military to do than defending our own country, to which they are at best indifferent. We can be thankful that Trump hasn’t started any new wars, yet, but his underlings’ dogged commitment to regime change in Venezuela and Iran may change that. His outreach to North Korea hangs by a thread in the face of blatant attempts to sabotage it…. 

Even without a war his remaining time in office will not be the revival of America that he promised. 

Despite his no longer representing a threat to the Swamp, the critters will continue to hate him anyway as an avatar of the America they seek to destroy: European ethnicity, Christian (culturally if not spiritually or morally), English-speaking, toxically masculine…. 

The man who had what is almost certainly to have been the last peaceful, political chance save what’s left of the American republic will thrash around for a few more years, having become little more than a catalyst for our nation’s demise and perhaps its dissolution.”…

Added:
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Image: Swimming pool in NATO’s new $1.23 billion hq, 2017 via Assar architects. 

Since the Soviet Union no longer exists, our superiors had to come up with new ways to rob US taxpayers.



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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Owner Lyft pulls Citi Bike e-bikes off the road in NYC, Washington DC, and San Francisco after riders thrown over handlebars-NY Daily News, 4/14/19

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“Citi Bike is pulling all of its pedal-assist electric bicycles from service after discovering a braking malfunction has catapulted several riders over the handlebars in recent weeks.
The Daily News confirmed at least four people riding electric Citi Bikes received medical treatment over the past six weeks after hard-stopping front brakes caused them to fly over the handlebars.
Bill Somers, 59, broke his hip on March 17 after flying over the handlebars while riding one of the faulty bikes on Central Park West.
“I tapped the brake and I just went flying,” said Somers, who lives near Columbus Circle. “I went over the handlebars and flew like 6 feet in the air.”
Somers said he’s been riding bicycles since he was a child, and has been a Citi Bike user for six years.
He didn’t file a complaint after the incident — he thought the accident was his fault until Lyft announced it was pulling the e-bikes.
“I was not riding that fast at all,” said Somers. “I’ve been riding these e-bikes since they came out and I don’t remember this being a problem that I ran into.”
The announcement comes less than a month after an e-bike battery charging station sparked a fire at Citi Bike’s maintenance hub in Brooklyn.
Lyft spokeswoman Julie Wood said the company is working to find the root cause of the braking issue, and the halt in e-bike service is only temporary.
Workers at Citi Bike’s facility aren’t surprised by Lyft’s decision to pull the easy-riding e-bikes — one said the company has been aware of the problem for weeks.
“Everybody was waiting for a situation like this because they were worried someone was going to get hurt,” said one Citi Bike employee. The motor in the front of the bikes was locking up. (Citi Bike operator Motivate) brought people in who were putting oil on the brakes and it kept drying up.”
“After a small number of reports and out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively pausing our electric bikes from service,” said Wood. “Safety always comes first.”
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The safety of New Yorkers is DOT’s top priority,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Gastel. “We expect Lyft to maintain a safe and fully operational fleet providing sufficient service, and we will monitor as they investigate the cause of this brake issue.””…
Image: “Citi Bike’s electrical bicycle. (Luiz C. Ribeiro / for New York Daily News)”

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US-Mexican border is essentially wide open, US immigration laws are unenforced, politicians want Latin Americans to fundamentally transform US. One step over the border and everything is free-Victor Davis Hanson, Am. Greatness…(Note to Venezuelans: US taxpayers have yet to see “transition to democracy” or rule of law in US)

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“The promise that Mexico and Central America in the early 21th century would obtain rough economic parity with the United States has not happened….But what has transpired is a radical increase in cartel and gang violence, endemic corruption and general lowering of the quality of life south of the border.” 

4/14/19,Are There Any Limits to Illegal Immigration?” Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness
 
“The U.S.-Mexican border is essentially wide open.

Why? Because there is a general expectation in Mexico and Latin America that American immigration law is unenforced.Or it is so bizarre that simple illegal entry almost always ensures temporary legal residence, pending an asylum hearing. 

A scheduled asylum hearing, in turn, is seen by border crossers as a mere formality to be ignored. The popular perception on the border, then, is to stick one foot illegally onto U.S. soil, and, presto, win permanent residence for you and any family members who wish to follow. 

In an age of 500 sanctuary city and county jurisdictions, few illegal aliens believe they will ever be deported permanently, even if they have been apprehended committing serious crimes. There is also a general perception among would-be illegal entrants that [the entire political class including] prominent Democrats and progressives  welcome their massive influxes as useful and will do their best to ensure illegal immigration continues unabated. 

There is also the assumption that the greater the chaos at the border, the less likely Congress will take bipartisan action to end it. After all, 2020 is an election year and progressives are in no mood to hand Trump the semblance of a legislative victory. This fact is also known to would-be border crossers. 

Illegal alien families sense that they are vital to [agendas of the entire US political class including] progressive agendas of fundamentally transforming the country by importing first-generation, loyal constituents—a sentiment that is slowly replacing the prior idea of mostly young men coming to work off the books…. 

Some polls in the past have suggested that a third of Mexico’s population would immigrate to the United States if possible. The percentages of would-be immigrants from Central America are likely to be even higher. In theory, 50 million could cross the border in the next two decades, which poses the question: what are the theoretical limits on illegal immigration? 

When would it cease? When 50 million or 60 million or maybe 80 million foreign nationals entered illegally, without meritocratic criteria or much diversity?… 

Saturation Nowhere in Sight 

Mass population movements end (or never start) if there is border symmetry, in the fashion that Canadian and American immigrants roughly balance each other out. 

The promise that Mexico and Central America in the early 21th century would obtain rough economic parity with the United States has not happened, despite progress there and lower birth rates in the United States. But what has transpired is a radical increase in cartel and gang violence, endemic corruption and general lowering of the quality of life south of the border. 

Under such conditions, the logical limits of immigration can be calibrated not so much by whether countries south of the border reach parity with American standards of living, freedom, security, and quality of life. But rather the current issue is whether regions of America, especially the American Southwest become roughly indistinguishable from Latin America and Mexico, and therefore in terms of economic opportunity, safety, and quality of life do not offer that much of an improvement—or at least not such a radical margin of enhancement to justify abandoning one’s homeland. 

In such an equation, the more that illegal aliens arrive, swamp social services and tax law enforcement, the more that they create ethnic enclaves that resist rapid assimilation and the more that they sense that their hosts [the entire US political class] see them most useful as an identity politics constituency, then the more parts of the southwestern United States will seem more like Mexico, and perhaps to the point of eventually diminishing illegal immigration. 

No one knows what the saturation point might be of illegal and unassimilated immigration, but influxes are now approximating each month a mid-sized American city. In theory, we may already be nearing a point where many immigrants are starting to see their new homes as not all that different from Mexico—although in general far more expensive. 

How Illegal Immigration Changes Us 

Illegal immigration and its effects on a community are incremental but steady. This past week, two miles from my home, an illegal alien fled the scene of an accident that he had caused, which killed a pregnant Mexican-American and critically injured her 11-year-old daughter. He is still at large. Within a 100-mile radius of central California, at least five citizens were killed by illegal alien gunmen in the last four months. When I go to town to drop off dry cleaning, I rarely hear English spoken. Almost all the stores in the shopping center (where I have gone for 50 years) have Spanish names. Few English signs are apparent or needed. 

The formerly rich diverse community of Japanese-, Armenian-, Basque-, Portuguese-, Mexican- and Scandinavian-Americans have long since vanished. I stopped riding a bike in my rural environs four years ago, given the packs of unlicensed and unvaccinated dogs, and the owners indifference to their attacks on passersby…. 

The avenue where I have lived for 65 years in terms of the fundamental metrics of civilization—sanitation, single-family zoning, building codes, mosquito abatement, dog licensing and registration, and sanctions for illicit activity—has regressed a half-century or more. 

Officials apparently assume that visiting these places can become a lose-lose-lose situation: the miscreant will not comply with citations, the bureaucratic costs of enforcement are not offset by collectable fines, and the touchy subject of illegal immigration may earn either unfavorable press coverage or censure from politically sensitive county and local officials. In other words, we are a world away from Nancy Pelosi’s gated Napa estate, or Dianne Feinstein’s $40 million hilltop Pacific Heights mansion but not from the results of their ideology. 

Future Without Law 

Life down the street is conducted mostly on the premises of rural Mexico, where one does what one pleases or must in terms of water, power, sanitation, business, commerce, leisure, and pets, without audit from authorities. 

If one reads either the local or regional papers, it is composed of stories about one of three themes. 

One, the disturbing litany of DUIs, gang stabbings and shootings, fatal hit-and-run accidents, police shootings of armed suspects, high-speed chases, robberies, and drug busts. 

Two, there are also many human interest inspirational stories of illegal aliens from Mexico who are running successful businesses, whose children are star athletes or students. The subtext is not that they are doing the exceptional things other Americans are not doing, but that they merit special attention and approbation because of their immigrant status and the obstacles they have overcome. 

Three, the grievance or victimization meme: the lawsuit against law enforcement, the filing of a bias claim against the county, the firing of an official for some alleged insensitivity, or the injustice of some agency that has curtailed support from, tried to deport, or was somehow biased against, an illegal alien. 

The point is, that unlike the past, almost every new story is grounded in some sort of overt ethnic context, and ultimately related to illegal immigration and its effects. 

Latino and Hispanic citizens, to the extent that they identify as such, may in the American Southwest be the key to the future of illegal immigration. So far, they have put up with higher taxes, swamped social services, gang activity, hit and run accidents and subpar schools that are the wages of illegal immigration, on the theory of ethnic solidarity and of general sympathy with the underclass of which many now in the middle class were once a part. 

But no one wishes to have a neighbor who is an MS-13 member, or schools where non-English speakers hold back collective learning, or to be hit by an unlicensed driver who flees the scene. For successfully assimilated Hispanics there is a growing resentment that they are being used to support political agendas that are not conducive to improving the quality of life in their own backyards. 

Translated that means, for example, that California’s high income, sales, and gas taxes, along with sky-high housing, electricity, and gasoline costs, do not make one sympathetic to millions who arrive illegally and without English skills or a high school diploma but with plenty of instant needs for state services. 

In sum, either when Mexico resembles California, Texas, Arizona, or New Mexico, or when these border states resemble Mexico, then illegal immigration will likely cease. Conventional wisdom has always postulated that declining birth rates, economic reforms, and globalization south of the border will discourage Mexicans and Central Americans from coming north as rough parity is achieved. 

But it may be that as so many have already come north—and they are coming in increasing numbers—and as so few feel a need to assimilate, that an impoverished “north” is no longer a promised land and thus not necessarily a place for which it is worth abandoning one’s homeland.”…image above via American Greatness
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3 among comments to article at Lucianne:
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Reply 2 – Posted by: scottc, 4/15/2019 2:24:31 PM    

The real question is are there any limits to illegalities in the United States? Those of us who play by the rules and obey the laws get punished and those who break the laws get rewarded. This is completely unacceptable and unsustainable.”
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Reply 3 – Posted by: TXknitter, 4/15/2019 2:29:09 PM     

They know the Republicans won’t really stand up against this invasion. It is intense and it is scary in Texas and I believe we should be calling our Senators and Congressmen that we want them to act on this issue. They want to make everything and anything else a subject for debate.“…
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Reply 8 – Posted by: geoman, 4/15/2019 9:24:40 PM    

FTA: “In sum, either when Mexico resembles California, Texas, Arizona, or New Mexico, or when these border states resemble Mexico, then illegal immigration will likely cease.” 

While VDH briefly mentions Central Americans, he seems to postulate that today´s invaders are primarily from Mexico and makes no mention of the Africans, Middle Easterners, or the citizens of over 40 other foreign nations, many of them hostile to the U.S. Like other conservative authors on the topic, he assumes that Americans can only hunker down and hope that our elected politicians can somehow stem the tide. 

Conservative authors seldom offer alternatives to passiveness in the face of invasion, although history provides many examples of invaders being repelled by force. Perhaps VDH believes that the American people are incapable of using force to defend our homeland, even though many thousands of us have been sent to kill communists and terrorists in other countries. Now we are expected to sit idly by while communists in our own government succor foreign invaders by the millions. That is a huge disconnect that is seldom, if ever, mentioned in conservative articles.”

 

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