All The Best
THE ELEPHANT BAR IS CLOSED
I want to thank everyone who participated in the Elephant Bar over the past twelve years. We had millions of visitors from all around the World and you were part of it. Over the past dozen years, two or three times a night, I would open my laptop and some of you were always there. I will miss that.
My plans are to continue my work with technology and architecture. You know my interests and thoughts.
At times, things would get a little rough in the EB. To those of you that I may have offended over the years, I apologize. From all of you, I learned and grew.
An elephant never forgets.
Deuce, 21 June 2018
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Monday, August 29, 2016
Clinton political machine’s long and storied track record of criminality, duplicity, and corruption that haunts her like Lincoln’s ghost silently skulking through White House bedrooms
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
AUGUST 29, 2016 by ERIC DRAGSTER
Hillary Clinton may be enjoying a comfortable lead in national polls, but she is far from enjoying a comfortable night’s sleep given the ever-widening maelstrom of scandals engulfing her presidential bid. And while Clinton delights in bloviating about a decades-long “vast, right wing conspiracy” against her, the fact is that it’s the Clinton political machine’s long and storied track record of criminality, duplicity, and corruption that haunts her like Lincoln’s ghost silently skulking through White House bedrooms.
The latest in a string of embarrassing scandals is centered on the powerful Clinton Foundation, and the obvious impropriety of its acceptance of large donations from foreign governments (and wealthy individuals connected to them), especially those governments universally recognized as oppressive dictatorships whose foreign policy orientation places them squarely in the US orbit.
Of particular note are the Gulf monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar whose massive donations belie the fact that their oppression of women runs contradictory to Clinton’s self-styled ‘feminism’ and belief “that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st Century.” Is collaborating with feudal monarchies whose subjugation of women is the stuff of infamy really Clinton’s idea of feminism? Or, is it rather that Clinton merely uses issues such as women’s rights as a dog whistle for loyal liberals while groveling before the high councilors of the imperial priesthood?
What the Clinton Foundation hullabaloo really demonstrates is that Clinton’s will to power is single-minded, entirely simpatico with the corruption of the military-industrial-financial-surveillance complex; that she is a handmaiden for, and member of, the ruling establishment; that Clinton represents the marriage of all the worst aspects of the political class. In short, Clinton is more than just corrupt, she is corruption personified.
Clinton’s Dirty Dealing and Even Dirtier Laundry
In a hilariously pig-headed, but rather telling, statement, former President Bill Clinton responded to allegations of impropriety with the Clinton Foundation by saying, “We’re trying to do good things…If there’s something wrong with creating jobs and saving lives, I don’t know what it is. The people who gave the money knew exactly what they were doing. I have nothing to say about it except that I’m really proud.”
Leaving aside the fact that such an arrogant comment demonstrates Bill Clinton’s complete contempt for ethics and the basic standards of proper conduct, the salient point is that the argument from the Clintons is that the foundation is inherently good, that it helps people around the world, and that, as such, it can’t possibly be corrupt and unethical. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire – except when it comes to the Clintons who stand proudly enveloped in billowing clouds of smoke swearing up and down that not only is there no fire, but anyone who mentions the existence of flames is both a sexist and Trump-loving Putin stooge.
But indeed there is a fire, and it is raging on the American political scene. And nowhere is the heat more palpable than in the deserts of the Middle East where wealthy benefactors write massive checks for access to America’s 21st Century Queen of Mean (apologies to Leona Helmsley).
Consider the 2011 sale of $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, a gargantuan deal that made the feudal monarchy into an overnight air power. Were there any doubts as to the uses of the hardware, look no further than the humanitarian nightmare that is Yemen, a country under relentless air war carried out by the Saudis. And, lo and behold, the Saudis had been major contributors to the Clinton Foundation in the years leading up to the sale. And it should be equally unsurprising that just weeks before the deal was finalized, Boeing, the manufacturer of the F-15 jets that were the centerpiece of the massive arms deal, donated $900,000 to the Foundation.
Of course, according to Bubba and Hil, it’s all conspiracy theory to suggest that the Clinton Foundation is essentially a pay-for-play scheme in which large sums of money translate into access to the uppermost echelons of state power in the US. As the International Business Times noted:
The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that placed weapons in the hands of governments that had also donated money to the Clinton family philanthropic empire…Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation…That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. The 143 percent increase in U.S. arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors compares to an 80 percent increase in such sales to all countries over the same time period.
Additionally, as Glenn Greenwald explained earlier this year,
The Saudi regime by itself has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, with donations coming as late as 2014, as she prepared her presidential run. A group called “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” co-founded “by a Saudi Prince,” gave an additional amount between $1 million and $5 million. The Clinton Foundation says that between $1 million and $5 million was also donated by “the State of Qatar,” the United Arab Emirates, and the government of Brunei. “The State of Kuwait” has donated between $5 million and $10 million.
The sheer dollar amounts are staggering. Perhaps then it comes as no surprise just why nearly every single influential figure in the military-industrial-financial-surveillance complex – from General John Allen to death squad coordinator extraordinaire John Negroponte, from neocon tapeworms such as Max Boot, Robert Kagan, and Eliot Cohen to billionaire barbarocrats like the Koch Brothers, George Soros, and Warren Buffett – is backing Hillary Clinton. Not only is she good for Empire, she’s good for business. And ultimately, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?
But of course, Hillary’s devotion to the oil oligarchs of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf goes much deeper than simply an exchange of money for weapons. In fact, Hillary is deeply committed to the Saudi royal family’s foreign policy outlook and tactics, in particular the weaponization of terrorism as a means of achieving strategic objectives.
Libya provides perhaps the paragon of Clintonian-Saudi strategy: regime change by terrorism. Using terror groups linked to Al Qaeda and backed by Saudi Arabia, Clinton’s State Department and the Obama Administration managed to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi, thereby throwing the former “jewel of Africa” into turmoil and political, economic, and social devastation. To be fair, it was not the Saudis alone involved in fomenting war in Libya, as Hillary’s brothers-from-other-mothers in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were also directly involved in sowing the seeds of the current chaos in the country.
And of course, this strategic partnership between Clinton and the Gangsters of the Gulf extends far beyond Libya. In Syria, Clinton’s stated policies of regime change and war are aligned with those of Riyadh, Doha, and Abu Dhabi. And, of course, it was during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department that US intelligence was involved in funneling weapons and fighters into Syria in hopes of doing to Syria what had already been done to Libya.
Human Abedin: Clinton’s Woman in Riyadh
Just in case all the political and financial ties between Clinton and the Gulf monarchies wasn’t enough to make people stop being #WithHer, perhaps the role of her closest adviser might do the trick. Huma Abedin, Clinton’s campaign chief of staff, has long-standing ties to Saudi Arabia, the country where Huma spent her childhood from the age of two. As a Vanity Fair exposé revealed earlier this year:
When Abedin was two years old, the family moved to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where, with the backing of Abdullah Omar Nasseef, then the president of King Abdulaziz University, her father founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank, and became the first editor of its Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs…After [Abedin’s father] Syed died, in 1993, his wife succeeded him as director of the institute and editor of the Journal, positions she still holds… Abdullah Omar Nasseef, the man who set up the Abedins in Jidda…is a high-ranking insider in the Saudi government and sits on the king’s Shura Council, there are claims that Nasseef once had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda—a charge that he has denied through a spokesman—and that he remains a “major” figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. In his early years as the patron of the Abedins’ journal, Nasseef was the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, which Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, claims “has long been the Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology.”
Consider the implications of this information: Clinton’s closest adviser comes from a family connected at the highest levels with the Saudi royal family as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. While right wing pundits portray the Muslim Brotherhood as some sort of straightforward international terror organization, the reality is much more complex as the Brotherhood is more an international political movement whose tentacles stretch into nearly every corner of the Muslim world. Its vast reserves of cash and political influence, backed by Gulf monarchies such as Qatar, allows the Brotherhood to peddle influence throughout the West, while also being connected to more radical salafist elements. An obvious two-for-one for Clinton.
In effect then, Abedin represents a bridge connecting Hillary with both the ruling elites in Riyadh, as well as influential clerics, businesspeople, and political leaders throughout the Middle East. Perhaps then it makes sense why Abedin, in contravention of every standard of ethics, was employed by Teneo Holdings – a pro-Clinton consultancy founded by former Clinton aide Doug Band – while also working for the State Department. Such ethical violations are as instinctive for Hillary as breathing, or calling children super predators.
Trump, Assange, Putin, and Clinton’s Sleight of Hand
Despite being embroiled in multiple scandals, any one of which being enough to sink the campaign of most other candidates, Clinton and her army of fawning corporate media sycophants, have attempted to deflect attention away from her own misdeeds, corruption, and nefarious ties by instead portraying everyone who opposes them as puppets, stooges, and useful idiots.
Let’s begin with Republican nominee and gasbag deluxe, Donald Trump, who Clinton trolls have attempted to portray as a stooge of Russian President Putin. While it’s indeed quite likely that the Kremlin sees Trump as far less of a threat to Russia’s interests than Clinton – just look at Clinton’s roster of neocon psychopath supporters to see that Putin has a point – the notion that Trump is somehow a creation of Putin, or at the very least is working for him is utterly absurd.
And the “evidence”? Trump’s connections with wealthy Russian oligarchs. I suppose those who have made their homes under rocks these last 25 years might not know this, but nearly every billionaire investor has gone to Russia in that time, forged ties with influential Russians, and attempted to make money by stripping clean the bones of what was once the Soviet Union. Sorry Naomi Klein, I guess the Clintonistas expect no one to have read Shock Doctrine which details the sort of disaster capitalism run amok that took place in Russia in the 1990s.
And then, of course, there’s that great confabulator Julian Assange who has also been smeared as a Putin puppet by the #ImWithHer media somnambulists. I guess the lords of corporate capital didn’t like the fact that Assange and WikiLeaks have managed to expose countless dirty deeds by Clinton’s Tammany Hall of the 21stCentury. From using the DNC as a political appendage of the Clinton campaign (as revealed by the WikiLeaks dump of DNC emails) to his recent promise to make public the “most interesting and serious” dirt on Hillary, Assange has become a thorn in the side – or thumb in the eye, as it were – for Hillary.
And what would a rundown of the specters haunting Clinton’s dreams be without mention of the rabid bear of Russia, big bad Vlad? Clinton recently referred to Putinas the “grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism.” Leaving aside the asinine phraseology, Clinton’s attacks on Putin reveal the weakness of the Democratic nominee, the hollowness of her arguments, and the unmitigated gall of a hypocrite for whom casting stones in glass houses is second nature.
For, at the very moment that she takes rhetorical swipes at Putin, Clinton herself is implicated in a worldwide network of extremism that promotes terrorism, rains death and destruction on millions of innocent civilians, and moves the world closer to global conflict. If Putin represents the éminence grise of a “global brand of extreme nationalism,” then Clinton is the fairy godmother of global extremism and terror. It’s a good thing she has access to the best personal grooming products Goldman Sachs money can buy as it is not easy to wash decades-worth of blood off your hands.
And so, the quadrennial danse macabre that is the US presidential election has turned into an embarrassing sideshow of dull-witted infantilism. But amid the idiocy there is wanton criminality and corruption to be exposed before the world. For while Trump is undoubtedly the bearded lady of America’s freak show, Hillary is the carnival barker.
She knows the ring toss and other games are rigged, but she coaxes the feeble-minded to play nonetheless. She knows the carnies are drunk and reckless, but she urges the children to pay for another ride anyway. She understands that her job is to sell a rigged game, and to call security when someone challenges her lies. And, unfortunately, whether you want it or not, the Hillary Roadshow is coming to a town, or country, near you.
Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.org and host of CounterPunch Radio. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.org and host of CounterPunch Radio. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Iran deploys S-300 missiles at Fordow nuclear facility - report
Iran has deployed a Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system at its Fordow uranium enrichment facility, the country’s state media have reported, as cited by Reuters.
"Our main priority is to protect Iran's nuclear facilities under any circumstances," Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) air defense force, told state TV.
Esmaili did not say whether the new missile defense system was operational, however the IRGC commander did say that, “Today, Iran's sky is one of the most secure in the Middle East.”
The Fordow site, which is around 100km south of the capital Tehran, has not enriched any uranium since a nuclear deal between Iran and six international powers came into effect in January.
The deal was signed in 2015 and was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. In return, Tehran saw the lifting of sanctions that had stifled economic growth.
The contract to deliver S-300s to Iran was put on hold in 2010 by then-President Dmitry Medvedev due to UN sanctions imposed on Iran.
Moscow said at the time that the delivery of the missile defense system would upset the balance of power in the region and escalate tensions.
The contract was revived in April of 2015 by President Vladimir Putin after Iran and six leading world powers signed a nuclear deal, which addressed concerns about Tehran achieving a potential breakthrough that would allow it to produce nuclear weapons.
In May, Iran announced that it had deployed the S-300 defense systems at its Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base.
The Fordow site is built 90 meters below a mountain, with its location being revealed by the West in 2009.
The deployment comes just over a week after Tehran unveiled its Bavar-373 air defense complex at a military expo. The system was developed as an alternative to the S-300 and is set to go into production later this year.
“We did not intend to make an Iranian version of the S-300 – we wanted to build an Iranian system, and we built it,” Iran’s Minister of Defense Hossein Dehghan said. The weapon was successfully test-fired for the first time in August 2014.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
The Zionists Controlled US media, The Neocons and their hand maiden, Hillary Clinton, is not done trying to get the US into a war with Iran
Assange exposes the threat posed by the US and UK Zionist media powers, Neocons and their political servants to get the US into another Middle East War; this time with Iran.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads her Republican rival Donald Trump by 5 percentage points among likely voters, down from a peak this month of 12 points, according to the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released on Friday.
The Aug. 22-25 opinion poll found that 41 percent of likely voters supported Clinton ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election, while 36 percent supported Trump. Some 23 percent would not pick either candidate and answered "refused," "other" or "wouldn't vote."
Clinton, a former secretary of state, has led real estate developer Trump in the poll since Democrats and Republicans ended their national conventions and formally nominated their presidential candidates in July. Her level of support has varied between 41 and 45 percent during that period, and her lead over Trump in the tracking poll peaked this month at 12 percentage points on Tuesday.
Friday, August 26, 2016
How George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, The Pentagon, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Et Al. Created ISIS and destabilized the ME and Europe
ISIS leader was secretly held in notorious Abu Ghraib torture prison - report
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Through a Freedom of Information Act records request, the Intercept was able to confirm with the US Army that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), had been imprisoned in a special high-profile section at the Abu Ghraib prison in the Iraqi city of the same name, from February to October 2004.
Al-Baghdadi, who has also gone by the name Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali Badri, was simply referred to by his assigned serial number, US9IZ-157911CI, in detention records. While Abu Ghraib is not mentioned by name, that code reveals that’s exactly where Al-Baghdadi was held.
“Former detainee al-Baghdadi’s internment serial number sequence number begins with ‘157,’” US Army spokesperson Troy A. Rolan, Sr. told the Intercept. “This number range was assigned at the Abu Ghraib theater internment facility.”
During Spring of 2004, just weeks after al-Baghdadi had been booked at Abu Ghraib, graphic photos leaked of torture sessions and abusive humiliation tactics utilized at the secretive prison.
On October 13 of that year, al-Baghdadi was transferred to Camp Bucca, as were many other Abu Ghraib inmates. Bucca had previously been reported as the sole facility where the IS caliph was held, but according to this new report, al-Baghdadi actually was there for less than two months. He was given an “unconditional release”on December 9.
Al-Baghdadi’s prisoner status had been “civilian internee,” for those with ties to terrorism but hadn’t been captured while carrying out such activities, according to Reuters.
Just 13 months after al-Baghdadi’s release, in January 2006, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group al-Qaeda in Iraq aligned with other Sunni radicals to establish the Mujahideen Shura Council, and after Zarqawi’s death in a US bombing raid in June 2006, that new coalition renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq. That group would go on to elect Islamic scholar al-Baghdadi its leader, who remains one of the most wanted terrorist suspects in the world.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State
More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money either personally or through companies or groups to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.
At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.
Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton’s help with a visa problem and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm's corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.
The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.
The AP's findings represent the first systematic effort to calculate the scope of the intersecting interests of Clinton foundation donors and people who met personally with Clinton or spoke to her by phone about their needs.
The 154 did not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives. Clinton met with representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton charity, but they were not included in AP's calculations because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties.
Last week, the Clinton Foundation moved to head off ethics concerns about future donations by announcing changes planned if Clinton is elected.
On Monday, Bill Clinton said in a statement that if his wife were to win, he would step down from the foundation's board and stop all fundraising for it. The foundation would also accept donations only from U.S. citizens and what it described as independent philanthropies, while no longer taking gifts from foreign groups, U.S. companies or corporate charities. Clinton said the foundation would no longer hold annual meetings of its international aid program, the Clinton Global Initiative, and it would spin off its foreign-based programs to other charities.
Those planned changes would not affect more than 6,000 donors who have already provided the Clinton charity with more than $2 billion in funding since its creation in 2000.
"There's a lot of potential conflicts and a lot of potential problems," said Douglas White, an expert on nonprofits who previously directed Columbia University's graduate fundraising management program. “ he point is, she can't just walk away from these 6,000 donors."
Former senior White House ethics officials said a Clinton administration would have to take careful steps to ensure that past foundation donors would not have the same access as she allowed at the State Department.
"If Secretary Clinton puts the right people in and she's tough about it and has the right procedures in place and sends a message consistent with a strong commitment to ethics, it can be done," said Norman L. Eisen, who was President Barack Obama’s top ethics counsel and later worked for Clinton as ambassador to the Czech Republic.
Eisen, now a governance studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that at a minimum, Clinton should retain the Obama administration's current ethics commitments and oversight, which include lobbying restrictions and other rules. Richard Painter, a former ethics adviser to President George W. Bush and currently a University of Minnesota law school professor, said Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton should remove themselves completely from foundation leadership roles, but he added that potential conflicts would shadow any policy decision affecting past donors.
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon did not respond to the AP’s questions about Clinton transition plans regarding ethics, but said in a statement Tuesday the standard set by the Clinton Foundation's ethics restrictions was "unprecedented, even if it may never satisfy some critics."
Some of Clinton's most influential visitors donated millions to the Clinton Foundation and to her and her husband's political coffers. They are among scores of Clinton visitors and phone contacts in her official calendar turned over by the State Department to AP last year and in more-detailed planning schedules that so far have covered about half her four-year tenure. The AP sought Clinton’s calendar and schedules three years ago, but delays led the AP to sue the State Department last year in federal court for those materials and other records.
S. Daniel Abraham, whose name also was included in emails released by the State Department as part of another lawsuit, is a Clinton fundraising bundler who was listed in Clinton's planners for eight meetings with her at various times. A billionaire behind the Slim-Fast diet and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace, Abraham told the AP last year his talks with Clinton concerned Mideast issues.
Big Clinton Foundation donors with no history of political giving to the Clintons also met or talked by phone with Hillary Clinton and top aides, AP’s review showed.
Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest "microcredit" for poor business owners, met with Clinton three times and talked with her by phone during a period when Bangladeshi government authorities investigated his oversight of a nonprofit bank and ultimately pressured him to resign from the bank's board. Throughout the process, he pleaded for help in messages routed to Clinton, and she ordered aides to find ways to assist him.
American affiliates of his nonprofit Grameen Bank had been working with the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative programs as early as 2005, pledging millions of dollars in microloans for the poor.
Grameen America, the bank's nonprofit U.S. flagship, which Yunus chairs, has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation a figure that bank spokeswoman Becky Asch said reflects the institution's annual fees to attend CGI meetings. Another Grameen arm chaired by Yunus, Grameen Research, has donated between $25,000 and $50,000.
As a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton, as well as then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and two other senators in 2007 sponsored a bill to award a congressional gold medal to Yunus. He got one but not until 2010, a year after Obama awarded him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Yunus first met with Clinton in Washington in April 2009. That was followed six months later by an announcement by USAID, the State Department's foreign aid arm, that it was partnering with the Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit charity run by Yunus, in a $162 million commitment to extend its microfinance concept abroad. USAID also began providing loans and grants to the Grameen Foundation, totaling $2.2 million over Clinton’s tenure.
By September 2009, Yunus began complaining to Clinton's top aides about what he perceived as poor treatment by Bangladesh's government. His bank was accused of financial mismanagement of Norwegian government aid money a charge that Norway later dismissed as baseless. But Yunus told Melanne Verveer, a long-time Clinton aide who was an ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, that Bangladesh officials refused to meet with him and asked the State Department for help in pressing his case.
"Please see if the issues of Grameen Bank can be raised in a friendly way," he asked Verveer. Yunus sent "regards to H" and cited an upcoming Clinton Global Initiative event he planned to attend.
Clinton ordered an aide: “ ive to EAP rep," referring the problem to the agency's top east Asia expert.
Yunus continued writing to Verveer as pressure mounted on his bank. In December 2010, responding to a news report that Bangladesh’s prime minister was urging an investigation of Grameen Bank, Clinton told Verveer that she wanted to discuss the matter with her East Asia expert "ASAP."
Clinton called Yunus in March 2011 after the Bangladesh government opened an inquiry into his oversight of Grameen Bank. Yunus had told Verveer by email that "the situation does not allow me to leave the country." By mid-May, the Bangladesh government had forced Yunus to step down from the bank's board. Yunus sent Clinton a copy of his resignation letter. In a separate note to Verveer, Clinton wrote: “ ad indeed."
Clinton met with Yunus a second time in Washington in August 2011 and again in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka in May 2012. Clinton's arrival in Bangladesh came after Bangladesh authorities moved to seize control of Grameen Bank's effort to find new leaders. Speaking to a town hall audience, Clinton warned the Bangladesh government that "we do not want to see any action taken that would in any way undermine or interfere in the operations of the Grameen Bank."
Grameen America’s Asch referred other questions about Yunus to his office, but he had not responded by Tuesday.
Earlier this month, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau acknowledged that agency officials are "regularly in touch with a range of outside individuals and organizations, including nonprofits, NGOs, think tanks and others." But Trudeau said the State Department was not aware of any actions that were influenced by the Clinton Foundation.
In another case, Clinton was host at a September 2009 breakfast meeting at the New York Stock Exchange that listed Blackstone Group chairman Stephen Schwarzman as one of the attendees. Schwarzman's firm is a major Clinton Foundation donor, but he personally donates heavily to GOP candidates and causes. One day after the breakfast, according to Clinton emails, the State Department was working on a visa issue at Schwarzman's request. In December that same year, Schwarzman's wife, Christine, sat at Clinton's table during the Kennedy Center Honors. Clinton also introduced Schwarzian then chairman of the Kennedy Center, before he spoke.
Blackstone donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Eight Blackstone executives also gave between $375,000 and $800,000 to the foundation. And Blackstone's charitable arm has pledged millions of dollars in commitments to three Clinton Global aid projects ranging from the U.S. to the Mideast. Blackstone officials did not make Schwarzian available for comment.
Clinton also met in June 2011 with Nancy Mahon of the MAC AIDS, the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder. The meeting occurred before an announcement about a State Department partnership to raise money to finance AIDS education and prevention. The public-private partnership was formed to fight gender-based violence in South Africa, the State Department said at the time.
The MAC AIDS fund donated between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. In 2008, Mahon and the MAC AIDS fund made a three-year unspecified commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative. That same year, the fund partnered with two other organizations to beef up a USAID program in Malawi and Ghana. And in 2011, the fund was one of eight organizations to pledge a total of $2 million over a three-year period to help girls in southern Africa. The fund has not made a commitment to CGI since 2011.
Estee Lauder executive Fabrizio Freda also met with Clinton at the same Wall Street event attended by Schwarzman. Later that month, Freda was on a list of attendees for a meeting between Clinton and a U.S.-China trade group. Estee Lauder has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. The company made a commitment to CGI in 2013 with four other organizations to help survivors of sexual slavery in Cambodia.
MAC AIDs officials did not make Mahon available to AP for comment.
When Clinton appeared before the U.S. Senate in early 2009 for her confirmation hearing as secretary of state, then- Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, questioned her at length about the foundation and potential conflicts of interest. His concerns were focused on foreign government donations, mostly to CGI. Lugar wanted more transparency than was ultimately agreed upon between the foundation and Obama’s transition team.
Now, Lugar hopes Hillary and Bill Clinton make a clean break from the foundation.
“The Clintons, as they approach the presidency, if they are successful, will have to work with their attorneys to make certain that rules of the road are drawn up to give confidence to them and the American public that there will not be favoritism," Lugar said.
US shifts troops in Afghanistan as Taliban makes gains
Some 100 US troops have been sent to Lashkar Gah, capital of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where the Taliban is advancing and opium cultivation is booming. A new report shows various support contractors outnumber US troops in the country more than three to one.
The US contingent has arrived in Lashkar Gah with a mission to provide training and support to the Afghan security forces, Brigadier-General Charles Cleveland, spokesman for the US mission in Afghanistan, said Monday.
The Afghan authorities are looking to have more US troops sent to Helmand, since much of the province has been overrun by Taliban insurgents in recent weeks. Fighting “on several fronts” has closed many roads and highways in the province, the head of Helmand’s provincial council, Kareem Atal, told AP.
“Around 80 percent of the province is under the control of the insurgents,” Atal said. “There are a number of districts that the government claims are under their control, but the government is only present in the district administrative center and all around are under the control of the insurgents.”
The majority-Pashtun province is also a major center for opium cultivation, with the annual crop valued at an estimated $3 billion. Though the Taliban outlawed opium in 2000, they reversed the decision after US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Heroin produced from Afghan poppies is now a primary source of funding for the insurgency, US officials say.
Most US combat troops left Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but the planned withdrawal of the remaining “advisers” deployed as part of the mission dubbed Resolute Support has stalled, due to the inability of Afghan government forces to defeat the Taliban.
Original drawdown plans called for reducing the troop presence to 5,500 by the end of 2016, but in October last year the Obama administration announced that it would keep 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2017, and maintain some kind of combat presence in the country “indefinitely.”
In addition to the US military personnel, there are currently some 29,000 “defense contractors” in Afghanistan, according to the latest report by the Congressional Research Service. That translates into slightly more than three contractors per every official member of the US military.
About a third of the contractors are American and less than a quarter of them are providing security services, noted the report, published last week. Pentagon records show approximately 1,600 translators, 1,700 construction workers, 2,200 “base support professionals” and 12,000 working in logistics and maintenance services.
The number of contractors employed by the US Department of Defense peaked in early 2012, when some 117,000 contractors were servicing 88,000 US troops, according to the report.
In Iraq, where 2,500 contractors are working with almost 4,000 US troops “advising and assisting” the country’s security forces in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the CRS report noted.
Monday, August 22, 2016
We have intervened enough in Syria, It’s time to defund head-chopping Islamists, restore diplomatic relations with Assad’s government, and work with the Russians to drive out the Islamists and keep them out.
Nicholas Kristof: War Crimes Enabler - Antiwar.com Original
He wants US intervention – on the side of Islamist head-choppers
We all saw the little Syrian boy in besieged Aleppo, wiping blood from his forehead, covered in dust and clearly in shock. How could we help it? Practically every newspaper in the country printed his photo, along with a caption blaming the Syrian military and/or the Russians for his plight. The video is all over the Internet. By the way, little Omran Dagnish is still alive, and is fine physically. But there’s another little boy, a prepubescent child, who hasn’t been dignified with a name, who is also a victim of this war – and he’s dead, beheaded by US-backed Islamist rebels of the "al-Zenki" movement. And the rebels didn’t try to hide this atrocity: they filmed it and put it on the Internet.
These are the people who are defending Aleppo, the rebels we are being told are fighting for “freedom" against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and those dastardly Russians.
The video of Omran went "viral," while the video of the nameless beheaded boy didn’t. Why is that?
The US media isn’t very interested in publicizing the latter atrocity – because in the information war to provoke US intervention in Syria on behalf of head-chopping Islamists, some children are more equal than others.
And make no mistake: the propaganda campaign is now in full swing, being pushed by the same media outlets openly campaigning for Hillary Clinton – who is on recordas calling for funding of Islamist groups in Syria and overthrowing Assad. If she is elected, we’re very likely to see a full-scale US intervention, with US forces openly and aggressively confronting not only Syrian government forces but also facing off with the Russians.
The New York Times, which makes no bones about its political sympathies in this presidential contest, has unleashed well-known "humanitarian" Nicholas Kristof in the effort to gin up sympathy for the "moderate" rebels and force Washington’s hand. He babbles on about the death of his dog and the sympathy he received when he wrote about it, and then writes: “ f only, I thought, we valued kids in Aleppo as much as we did our terriers!"
Not that he’s trying to manipulate us or anything.
"For five years the world has been largely paralyzed as President Bashar al-Assad has massacred his people, nurturing in turn the rise of ISIS and what the U.S. government calls genocide by ISIS. That’s why I argued in my column a week ago that President Obama’s passivity on Syria was his worst mistake, a shadow over his legacy.”
More than half of those killed in the Syrian civil war were massacred by the rebel forces, none of whose depredations are so much as mentioned by Kristof. And who, exactly, is "nurturing" ISIS – isn’t it the Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti, and other pro-head- chopper Muslim states in the Gulf? In the Kristofian lexicon, you’re "nurturing" ISIS if you fight them and prevent them from taking over your country. As for President Obama’s alleged "passivity," if only it were so! Under his regime, US taxpayer dollars financed and "nurtured" Islamist rebels who valorize Osama bin Laden and want to turn Syria into an Islamist theocracy. Kristof’s complaint is that he didn’t send them enough money, guns, and sharper knives to chop off the heads of yet more nameless boys.
Yes, this is “humanitarianism," Kristof-style.
While the political class demands that Obama "do something," ordinary Americans oppose yet another Middle East war. They showed that the last time the Washington-New York know-it-alls ginned up a wave of war hysteria over the alleged "poison gas" episode, in which Assad’s forces supposedly crossed the "red line" and used gas on "their own people." Except, as Seymour Hersh showed, they did no such thing: indeed, it was the rebels who used and are no doubt still using poison gas. In any case, when Obama announced we were going to intervene, the congressional phone lines lit up as tens of thousands called in to register their protest. One by one members of Congress previously committed to war or on the fence backed down – as did the President.
But the War Party doesn’t take "no" for an answer. No sirree, when the warlords of Washington deem it their "duty" to "liberate" some unfortunate country, they’ll not be denied by those peasants in flyover country. Kristof addresses these impudent peons in his column, one of whom had the temerity to suggest that "There is nothing in our constitution that says we are to be the savior of the world from all the crazies out there." Kristof’s answer is more manipulative rhetoric with no basis in reality:
"I agree that we can’t solve all the world’s problems, but it doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t try to solve any. Would it have been wrong during the Holocaust to try to bomb the gas chambers at Auschwitz? Was President Bill Clinton wrong to intervene in Kosovo to avert potential genocide there? For that matter, was President Obama wrong two years ago when he ordered airstrikes near Mount Sinjar on the Iraq-Syria border, apparently averting genocidal massacres of Yazidi there?”
LET’S TAKE THESE “ARGUMENTS" ONE BY ONE:
1) Auschwitz – Is Kristof really saying that Assad is Hitler? If so, he has broken Godwin’s Law, and has therefore automatically lost the argument. What’s going on in Syria is in no way, shape, or form equivalent to what occurred at Auschwitz, as Kristof knows full well.
2) Kosovo — Yes, President Bill Clinton was wrong to intervene in Kosovo: by doing so he created a gangster state that is today the heroin capital of Europe and whose "President" has been credibly charged with trafficking in human organs. The remnants of Kosovo’s besieged Serbian population live in terror, and the country is rife with a virulent ultra-nationalist movement that threatens its neighbors and the peace of Europe.
3) Yazidis — The idea that the Yazidis were under the threat of "genocide" is comparable to the entirely imaginary "genocide" that was supposedly averted by US intervention in Libya – and both have resulted in making the situation worse. In fact, as I pointed out at the time, when US troops arrived on the scene of the supposed “ enocide" that was occurring on Mount Sinjar, they were met with cries of "We want to stay!":
"Several thousand Yazidis remain on the mountain, a senior United States official said, but not the tens of thousands who originally were believed to be there. Some of the people who remain on Mount Sinjar indicated to American forces that they considered the mountain to be a place of refuge and a home, and did not want to leave, a second United States official said.”
This is the Kristof Method: refer to past hoaxes in order to validate the latest hoax. The big problem for him and his comrades in the Weepy Liberals for Perpetual War camp is that, these days, we can fact-check your ass.
Syria was never a Jeffersonian republic where peace and prosperity reigned: it’s in a rough neighborhood. Yet it wasn’t until the Saudis and the rest of the Islamist states in the region began funding and arming Salafist and al Qaeda-like insurgents – and the US joined in with aid to head-chopping "moderates" – that the country exploded and sent out swarms of refugees who are now flooding Europe. Our Israeli allies have openly said they prefer the Islamists to Assad and his Iranian allies: they’ve been plotting and scheming to overthrow the Syrian Ba’athist regime for many years. And now the hypocritical “ iberals" of Kristof’s ilk have taken up the interventionist war cry –in the name of "the children," no less!
As our "moderate" Islamists on the CIA payroll behead children, crucify Christians, and turn Syria into a killing field, "liberals" of the Kristofian persuasion, who preen in print over their own alleged moral superiority, as just as responsible as the Islamists who beheaded that child and held up his severed skull in triumph. In short: for all his self-righteous moral posturing, Kristof is an enabler of war crimes.
We have intervened quite enough in Syria, thank you. It’s time to defund those head-chopping Islamists, restore diplomatic relations with Assad’s government, and work with the Russians to drive out the Islamists and keep them out.
That’s the only path to peace in Syria.
An Important Note: The "mainstream" media isn’t reporting the truth about what’s happening in Syria for a very good reason: they support the "moderate" Islamists who want to topple the Assad government. It’s that simple. Just as the Syrian government forces and the Russians are about to free Aleppo from the head-choppers’ grip, the Kirstof Brigade comes out for US intervention to stop the "genocide." And that’s just a coincidence, I’m sure.
There is no "good" side in Syria, and the US should simply stay out of it. That’s the common sense stance shared by most Americans – but not by our war-happy political class. They and their allies in the media will do anything to drag us into that bloody conflict – including “ anaging" the news so that one side comes out looking like the "good guys."
We here at Antiwar.com aren’t buying into that narrative. If you want the undiluted facts, this is the place to come to. But we can’t continue without your support – your financial support. The War Party has unlimited funding – they have the corporate media working on their behalf. We just have … you. We need your tax-deductible donation to push back against the "mainstream" media narrative and bring the truth to the American people. Please make your contribution today.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richertand David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.