Archive for November 11, 2017

Dems Fuming as Trump Remakes Federal Judiciary

November 11, 2017

Dems Fuming as Trump Remakes Federal Judiciary, PJ MediaMichael Walsh, November 11, 2017

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.

Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them.

 ********************************

Meanwhile, back at the Swamp:

In the weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, lawyers joining his administration gathered at a law firm near the Capitol, where Donald F. McGahn II, the soon-to-be White House counsel, filled a white board with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.

Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial.

Nearly a year later, that plan is coming to fruition. Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.

Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them.

Gee, that’s too damn bad. As I wrote at the time, the Harry Reid Democrats were acting like a party that thought the fix was in, and that they would never lose another election for a long, long time. Oops.

Most have strong academic credentials and clerked for well-known conservative judges, like Justice Antonin Scalia. Confirmation votes for five of the eight new judges fell short of the former 60-vote threshold to clear filibusters, including John K. Bush, a chapter president of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal network, who wrote politically charged blog posts, such as comparing abortion to slavery; and Stephanos Bibas, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who once proposed using electric shocks to punish people convicted of certain crimes, although he later disavowed the idea. Of Mr. Trump’s 18 appellate nominees so far, 14 are men and 16 are white.

“It’s such a depressing idea, that we don’t get appointments unless we have unified government, and that the appointments we ultimately get are as polarized as the rest of the country,” said Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. “What does that mean for the legitimacy of the courts in the United States? It’s not a pretty world.”

Wouldn’t be a New York Times story without the cultural-Marxist sex-and-race bean counting. Meanwhile, the Left has nobody to blame but itself. Serves them right.

Bannon: ‘It’s Now Time to Take Over’ to Build the Trump Populist Movement

November 11, 2017

Bannon: ‘It’s Now Time to Take Over’ to Build the Trump Populist Movement, BreitbartSean Moran, November 10, 2017

“Trump is the leader of this movement,” Bannon said. “He has been talking about this for the last 25, 30 years. He has been talking about this day in and day out. He embodies it.”

Bannon charged, “I was the only figure in the White House that really believed that he’s a truly globally revolutionary figure. I believe there is greatness within him.”

Bannon told the New York Times, “You have to build institutions, we’re trying to build think tanks and the first thing is the institutionalization of the movement, to mobilizing all of these grassroots groups, to actually get engaged in vetting candidates for the Senate, to look at how to put together a grassroots army.”

Bannon concluded, “The institutions of this movement have to be built, and you’re right, Donald Trump will sometime will have to leave the battlefield at the end of his second term. You have to continue to win elections and implement your policies.”

***********************************

Former White House chief strategist and Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon told the New York Times that “it’s now time to take over” to build the Donald Trump nationalist-populist movement.

Bannon told the Times that the Donald Trump movement serves as a “revolt against a globalist that ran the Republican party and part of an elite that runs the country.”

“This will be seen as a revolt of working class people of both parties at a time that rejected the permanent political class, that is inextricably linked both Republican and Democrat in Washington, D.C. and take back their government,” Bannon added.

Bannon told the New York Times that the populist movement needs to take control of Congress. He also said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should resign. Bannon suggested that McConnell resign after Republicans pass a tax reform package.

Bannon reportedly will challenge every Senate Republican in the 2018 midterms outside of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The Breitbart News executive chairman also started gatheringdonors who are frustrated with Republican incumbents’ inability pass any significant legislation.

Several Senate Republican candidates are reluctant to support Mitch McConnell for Majority Leader. Even Mitch McConnell’s number one recruit, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, refuses to endorse McConnell for Majority Leader.

Bannon suggested, “It’s now time to take over these institutions.”

The Breitbart News executive chairman explained that President Donald Trump served as the vanguard of the populist movement.

“Trump is the leader of this movement,” Bannon said. “He has been talking about this for the last 25, 30 years. He has been talking about this day in and day out. He embodies it.”

Bannon charged, “I was the only figure in the White House that really believed that he’s a truly globally revolutionary figure. I believe there is greatness within him.”

“He’s going to win re-election with 400 electoral votes and he’ll be considered in the pantheon of Reagan and Lincoln and others as great presidents, but you have to stick with the program,” Bannon told the New York Times.

Bannon argued that the permanent political class will not easily relinquish their power.

“They’re not going to give up their power easily,” Bannon said. “You have to fight every day.”

The former White House strategist then explained that Trump’s populist-nationalist movement will have to build institutions to continue to fortify the movement.

Bannon told the New York Times, “You have to build institutions, we’re trying to build think tanks and the first thing is the institutionalization of the movement, to mobilizing all of these grassroots groups, to actually get engaged in vetting candidates for the Senate, to look at how to put together a grassroots army.”

Bannon concluded, “The institutions of this movement have to be built, and you’re right, Donald Trump will sometime will have to leave the battlefield at the end of his second term. You have to continue to win elections and implement your policies.”

Name: “Sword of Islam”? Let Him In!

November 11, 2017

Name: “Sword of Islam”? Let Him In! Gatestone InstituteDouglas Murray, November 11, 2017

In Britain, as in the rest of Western Europe and North America, there is only thought to be a political price to pay for being tough on immigration. For the time being, only people who believe in enforcing the law look heartless. Only those who insist on following — or even tightening — due process look like the ones who have done a wicked thing.

But as the events on the Underground in London in September presage, all of this can change in a few instants. A few more bombs left by a few more illegal immigrants, or a few more trucks driven along a few more bicycle lanes — let alone by illegal immigrants who have overstayed and not been deported — and the whole thing can change. At that point, instead of looking warm and big-hearted, you begin to look as if you were just unforgivably lax with the security of your own citizens. So an entire political class has been. But it may take a lot of bloodshed yet for them to learn that there are not just political benefits to be accrued from such laxness, but one day a political price to pay.

***********************************

Even the craziest immigration systems dreamed up by European officials have not yet come up with something like America’s “diversity visa” lottery, by which someone named “Sword of Islam” is promptly let into the country — only then to mow people down in a New York bicycle lane.

Nearly 56,000 foreign nationals have disappeared from the radar of the British authorities after being told that they were required to leave the country.

Instead of looking warm and big-hearted, you begin to look as if you were just unforgivably lax with the security of your own citizens. So an entire political class has been.

It is only eight weeks since an 18-year old Iraqi-born man walked onto the London Underground and left a bomb on the District line. Fortunately for the rush-hour commuters and school children on that train, the detonating device went off without managing to set off the bomb itself. Had the device worked, the many passengers who suffered life-changing burns would instead have been among many other people taken away in body bags. Ahmed Hassan came to the UK illegally in 2015 and was subsequently provided with foster care by the British government. He has now been charged, and is awaiting trial, for causing an explosion and attempted murder.

As stories like that of Mr. Hassan emerge, there are varying reactions. Some people say that this act is not indicative of anything, and that we must accept that such things happen — like the weather. Others suggest that anyone might leave a bomb on the District line in the morning, and that there is no more reason to alter your border policy because of it than there is to alter your meteorological policy because of it.

As poll after poll shows, however, the majority of the public in Britain — as in every other European country — think something else. They think that a country that has lost a grip on its immigration policy is very likely to lose control of its security policy, and that one may indeed follow the other.

So the British public were not at all reassured by the news this month that the country’s Home Office has lost track of tens of thousands of foreign nationals who were due to be removed from the country. Nor that there is no evidence of any effort to find the people in question.

Figures revealed in two new reviews by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration showed that nearly 56,000 foreign nationals have disappeared from the radar of the British authorities after being told that they were required to leave the country. This figure includes over 700 foreign national offenders (FNOs) who went missing after being released into the community from prison. It also revealed that around 80,000 foreign nationals are required to check in on a regular basis at police stations and immigration centres while authorities prepare for them to leave the country. By the end of 2016, just under 56,000 of them had failed to keep appointments and had become persons “whose whereabouts are unknown and all mandatory procedures to re-establish contact with the migrant have failed.”

Nevertheless, with a straight face, Brandon Lewis, the immigration minister for the present Conservative government, declared that “People who have no right to live in this country should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them.” Yet he still admitted that “Elements of these reports make for difficult reading.”

For the British public, they will also make difficult living. We all have to live with the consequences of an immigration system which has been more than usually unfit for purpose since the Labour government of 1997. It is just the British version of a story that is playing all across Western Europe. Across the Western half of the continent, all governments have allowed immigration policy to slide for more than a generation. Having become lax about policing the borders, they have become lax about returning people who have no right to be inside those borders. And having become lax about returning people who should not be in the country, they end up putting at peril the citizens of the country.

When the post-1997 Labour government first decided that the return of people in the UK illegally was not an important priority, they did so in part because the then-immigration minister decided that it was too traumatic for everyone involved: traumatic for the illegal migrant and for the UK border officials who had to remove them. In just such a way, by thousands of small cuts, does a nation’s territorial integrity and future security become shattered.

Although a person’s name may be nothing more than an inauspicious start — its owner, after all, did not choose it — even the craziest immigration systems dreamed up by European officials have not yet come up with something like America’s “diversity visa” lottery, by which someone pronounces themselves to be called “Sword of Islam” [terrorist Sayfullo Saipov] and is promptly let into the country — only then to mow people down in a New York bicycle lane. But we are all suffering from variants of the same mania.

Nevertheless, even the most seriously ingrained manias can be snapped out of. In Britain, as in the rest of Western Europe and North America, there is only thought to be a political price to pay for being tough on immigration. For the time being, only people who believe in enforcing the law look heartless. Only those who insist on following — or even tightening — due process look like the ones who have done a wicked thing.

But as the events on the Underground in London in September presage, all of this can change in a few instants. A few more bombs left by a few more illegal immigrants, or a few more trucks driven along a few more bicycle lanes — let alone by illegal immigrants who have overstayed and not been deported — and the whole thing can change. At that point, instead of looking warm and big-hearted, you begin to look as if you were just unforgivably lax with the security of your own citizens. So an entire political class has been. But it may take a lot of bloodshed yet for them to learn that there are not just political benefits to be accrued from such laxness, but one day a political price to pay.

Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.”

A Venezuelan drug dealer secures another bailout from Russia

November 11, 2017

A Venezuelan drug dealer secures another bailout from Russia, American ThinkerMonica Showalter, November 11, 2017

(Please see also, Socialism: Venezuela’s Minimum Wage Crashes to Under Four Dollars a Month. — DM)

For the umpteenth time, Venezuela has clawed back from the brink of near sovereign default, making a $1.2-billion payment on a PDVSA state oil company bond Friday, which was its absolute last chance before the ISDA’s repo men, who rule on whether a type of bond insurance known as credit default swaps should be invoked, moved in.

Riding to its rescue was Russia, which has an enormous stake in Venezuela’s oil production, including even its Citgo refineries.  Russia agreed to renegotiate $3 billion of the straight sovereign debt Venezuela owes it, in what is believed to have been from arms sales to then-living Hugo Chávez’s government.

That $3 billion gave Venezuela enough wiggle-room liquidity to shell out for the PDVSA bonds this one last time…until the next.  This is Russia’s third bailout of the socialist hellhole, for what it’s worth.  There will be more.

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times both report that Venezuela will now seek to restructure $150 billion in debt – and those negotiations will be led by Venezuela’s Vice President Tareck el-Aissami, who is on the U.S. sanctions list as a drug dealer.  That’s some fine company the other creditors of Venezuela, such as Goldman Sachs, will find themselves in.  The Times notes that due to the sanctions, the creditors can’t legally do business with him, or even be in the same room with him.

This won’t bother the Russians.  Russia, after all, has at least $17 billion in investment in Venezuela’s oil industry, a greater amount than the $11 billion in arms sales.  The arms sales just made some factory in Russia richer.  The oil, on the other hand, not only represents commodity wealth, but means petro-power and Russia’s capacity to control natural resources and project global influence.  That’s a bigger deal to Russia’s leaders, who played the same game with Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One deal, than a few rifle and aircraft sales.  Venezuela has probably allowed the equipment to go to seed anyway.

All the same, it shows the extent to which Russia will defend its crummy little cat’s-paw in the Western Hemisphere.  China has an even greater stake in Venezuela’s bond market health, given that it has $63 billion in loans outstanding in Venezuela.  It refuses renegotiation of the debt even as it encourages default to Western creditors, and after a period of providing bailouts, it just quit giving them.

Russia hasn’t.  And it’s costing and costing, not the least in terms of goodwill, as this piece by Foreign Policy notes.  Yet it doesn’t want to let go of this costly strategy.  It will probably bail Venezuela out ’til kingdom come.  And why is it?  Not just to be the big dog on the global block, but to tweak Uncle Sam as payback for U.S. involvement in what it sees as its backyard in the Baltics, the former Soviet republics, and Eastern Europe.  The U.S. has no such burden of having to bail out socialist hellholes for the purpose of manipulating them or getting back at a superpower rival.  That Russia would assume this burden for an increasingly untenable regime shows the extent to which it values leverage against the U.S.

 

Syrian drone over Golan followed Trump-Putin disagreement on Syrian buffer zones

November 11, 2017

Syrian drone over Golan followed Trump-Putin disagreement on Syrian buffer zones, DEBKAfile, November 11, 2017

Nonetheless, the negotiating teams did achieve progress on two points, our sources report: It was decided to expand the de-escalation zones already operating in Syria and also to boost the joint US-Russian Monitoring Center based in Amman – not only to prevent accidental clashes between Russian and US forces, but also between their local allies.

********************

The Syrian UAV was sent over the Golan, likely with Russian approval, to probe Israel’s flexibility on the buffer zones for keeping Syrian/Iranian/Hizballah forces far from its borders.

The Syrian UAV which flew over the Golan demilitarized zone Saturday, Nov. 11, was a direct result of the failure of US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to reach an agreement in time for the Danang summit in Vietnam on the political and military future of Syria. They were at odds in particular on the depth of the buffer zone to be carved out between Syria and Israel. This is reported exclusively by DEBKAfile’s sources.

The Syrian UAV was sent over the Golan, presumably with Russian approval, to probe Israel’s reactions and find out how far into Israeli air space the drone would be permitted to enter. This probe was to be taken as a measure of Israeli flexibility and willingness to accept a buffer zone between IDF positions and Syrian/Iranian/Hizballah forces of less than 30-40km deep.

Israel struck back and launched a Patriot missile defense system which intercepted the Syrian drone before it crossed the border and reached Israeli air space over the Golan. No breach of Israel’s sovereignty was allowed to occur.

Neither did a “high-ranking IDF source” need to offer reassurance that the Russian liaison apparatus was kept in the picture, since the Russian officers in Syria must have tracked the UAV and taken note of the message Israel relayed by shooting it down.

Our sources add that the Trump administration, as well as Moscow, is pushing Israel hard for flexibility as to the depth of the Syrian buffer zone. But the Netanyahu government has not so far given way, in the knowledge that Tehran fully intends to maintain military strength together with its proxies, including Hizballah, in post-war Syria.

The BBC revelation of Friday, Nov. 11, supported by large satellite images, that Iran is building a permanent base in Syria just 50km from the Israeli-Syrian Golan border, was intended to show that Israeli leaders don’t mean what they say. The site cited by “Western intelligence sources” is El-Kiswah, 14km from Damascus, where Syrian military facilities already exist

The British report contains several quotes of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s declarations that Israel will not permit Iran to establish a military presence in Syria that threatens its borders.

The May government has a bone to pick with Netanyahu on other issues. The Brits, whom both Washington and Moscow have cut out of decision-making on Syria’s future, were also taking a dig at them both by showing that Tehran is out of their control.

The buffer zone is not the only topic on which Trump and Putin are in discord on the shape of post-war Syria.

The plan for a US-Russian deal on a final accommodation was meant to ride on the momentum of the recent military successes in pushing ISIS back from eastern Syria and into western Iraq. Both presidents felt that these victories were too good not to use for working together on Syria’s future. Therefore, when ISIS strongholds in Al Qaim, Iraq and Abu Kamal, Syria fell to joint Iraqi-Syrian-Hizballah-pro-Iranian Shiite militia forces in the last two weeks, both the US and Russia were eager to seize star roles as victors by forging a final accord for ending the Syrian war.

However, the US and Russian teams working on a draft accord found the gaps between them too great to bridge at this time. They are at loggerheads on major issues —  such as the political future of Bashar Assad — how long he would remain president and how much power must he hand over to Syrian opposition groups in a government coalition. Neither do they see eye to eye on the disposition of foreign armies to remain in the country, specifically Iran’s role in the new Syria.

Last Friday, Nov. 10, DEBKAfile reported that the differences between Trump and Putin on the Syrian issue had prevented the release of a statement of accord. The US president insisted that without an accord there would be no formal sit-down at the Vietnam Asian summit.

Nonetheless, the negotiating teams did achieve progress on two points, our sources report: It was decided to expand the de-escalation zones already operating in Syria and also to boost the joint US-Russian Monitoring Center based in Amman – not only to prevent accidental clashes between Russian and US forces, but also between their local allies.

EX-CIA DIRECTOR WOOLSEY EXPLAINS WHY IRAN NEEDS TO BE TAKEN DOWN A NOTCH

November 11, 2017
BY YONAH JEREMY BOB
 NOVEMBER 10, 2017 12:
“The hell with proportionality.”
EX-CIA CHIEF James Woolsey

The US should destroy virtually all of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps infrastructure as well as Iran’s nuclear facilities to reduce its terrorist and nuclear threats, former CIA director James Woolsey told The Jerusalem Post in an interview.

“The next time the IRGC looks cross-eyed at us… we should turn loose six to 12 MOAB [GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast] bombs on their facilities,” said Woolsey, who was CIA director from 1993 to 1995 during the Clinton administration. He spoke to the Post in the famous Rotunda Room of the Pierre Hotel in Midtown Manhattan..

MOAB bombs, with 18,000 pounds of TNT, are the second-largest conventional weapon in the US arsenal, and the largest ever used, after one was dropped on a suspected Islamic State target in Afghanistan in April.

“Given what a source of terrorism the IRGC is… instead of talking and proportionality – the hell with proportionality. We should destroy virtually everything we can that has to do with the IRGC,” he said.

Woolsey, wearing a gray charcoal coat and a red sweater, said, “I think their seizing of a US ship [in January 2016] was an act of war. We went to war on less than that in the War of 1812,” noting that the US attacked England because it had captured or killed a relatively small number of sailors.

The intensity of Woolsey’s aggressive program contrasted with the heavenly blue sky displaying the Greek gods in paintings on the dome-shaped ceiling above and across the walls below.

The former CIA director did qualify that he “would not use MOABs against civilian facilities, but against military facilities… and we would be wise to take out everything related to their nuclear program.”

Pressed that this approach could drag the US into a highly volatile and unpredictable war with Iran and its proxies, he was unfazed.

He suggested that taking a strong approach might also correct what he saw as a failure of the Reagan administration when it withdrew from Lebanon in response to the 1983 Hezbollah bombing of a US barracks.

Regarding the Iran deal, unlike former CIA director Michael Hayden, who told the Post in October that he was in favor of fixing the deal but against Trump’s decertification of the deal, Woolsey was disappointed that Trump did not scrap the deal entirely.

Though Hayden was a Republican appointee and Woolsey a Democratic one, on the Iran deal, Woolsey outflanked Hayden from the right, saying that “the Iran nuclear deal is worse than worthless.”

Explaining his view, he called the deal’s provisions for nuclear inspections weak regarding military nuclear facilities. He discussed a scenario where “the US or the IAEA got recordings from overflying airplanes or satellites that there is a spot 100 miles north of Tehran which is highly radioactive.”

“You tell the Iranians you are going to inspect the next day. The next morning they say you cannot go, because it is a military facility. You respond that it was not a declared military facility yesterday. They say, ‘We can make it a military facility anytime we want.’” In other words, the Iranians could arbitrarily use the military facility definition to skirt inspections.

What specifically would Woolsey suggest Trump do with the deal?

“I would deal with the deal under American constitutional law. Any really major international agreement must be a treaty. You are committing the entire American people to something. This should have been a treaty. Its executive agreement status should be canceled, and it should be submitted to the Senate. If approved, it goes into effect, and if not, not.”

But for Woolsey, all of the above is treating the symptoms without confronting the heart of the issue: how to weaken Iran’s damaging influence.

To reduce Iran’s power in the long term “and bring about a saner world,” Woolsey suggested “undermining OPEC, ending the cartel” and bringing the price of oil down to a historic low of $30 a barrel.

Essentially, his idea is to “return oil to a free market, which in turn could lead to competition against oil products in the realm of transportation and fuel markets for cars.”

If the US, Israel and other allies “want to damage Iran and keep them from running the Gulf, they need to break Iran’s economy, and getting the price of oil down is the only thing that does that.”

OPEC is an organization of 14 oil-rich countries, mostly developing countries in the Middle East, which work together to control the price of oil in order to spread their economic and geopolitical influence.

Woolsey said that the beauty of the idea is that it is just applying free market principles and is not even Iran-specific; rather, it would have the impact of reducing the power of Iran, as well as other countries such as Russia, to use their strength in oil as a weapon economically and to pay for their foreign adventurism.

He cited energy experts Gal Luft and Anne Korin’s 2009 book Turning Oil Into Salt in arguing that a simple technical fix, which according to General Motors costs only $70 per car, should be added to every new vehicle sold in the US.

“Flex fuel vehicles” would ensure that cars could run on different combinations of gasoline and a range of alcohol fuels such as methanol or ethanol.

Standards ensuring new cars are flex fuel vehicles would open the transportation fuel market to fuels made from energy sources other than oil, and the price of methanol made from natural gas is competitive on a per-mile basis with gasoline.

Woolsey contended that such a standard could virtually cap the price of oil, with consumers choosing the most economic fuel on a per-mile cost basis, creating a shield against OPEC trying to inflate the price of oil.

He said that Israel and China are both “doing a lot with methanol,” and that, working together with the US, they could undermine the basis of Iranian and Russian power.

But this flexible fuel plan for undermining Iran and Russia in the long term would have no obvious timeline on it, making it unattractive to a president like Donald Trump who is eager to show off quick photo ops.

Woolsey, who consulted for the Trump campaign at certain stages, said he would pitch Trump by saying, “You are undermining the country’s enemies, working together with our good friend Israel and our sometimes friend China…

“Every soccer mom, as she drives home from taking kids to play soccer after school, stops to get groceries before dinner. She will save $2-$3 on what she buys for dinner. That means her family gets a better meal, as opposed to if she has to spend that extra $3 on petroleum fuels…. You are for soccer moms, aren’t you Mr. President? Aren’t they called constituents?” he added with a flicker in his eye.

The former CIA director dismissed possible objections from oil-heavy allies such as Saudi Arabia, Canada and Norway, saying they can eventually “all get along” without oil being such a centerpiece of their economy.

This concept of financially attacking adversaries is also a major part of how Woolsey conceives of fighting terrorism.

Commenting on a new book called Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters by Shurat Hadin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel Katz, he said, “Offense is the key thing, not just to play defense. You need to go after terrorists with litigation. You have to take it to the terrorists and the relevant states who support terrorism. You need to make it financially unattractive to stay in the business,” he said.

Groups like Shurat Hadin, which promote that kind of litigation, “are a big part of that, along with law enforcement.”

Harpoon tells the story of legendary Mossad director Meir Dagan, his top-secret task force and of Darshan-Leitner, who collectively waged parallel cloak-and-dagger and litigation campaigns targeting the finances that funded attacks against Israel.

Woolsey’s quote on the book’s back cover talks about the need “to ‘follow the money.’ This is the story of how the Mossad led this movement and substantially effected investigations of terrorism and similarly important matters and how this influenced the CIA’s later work in the same field.”

He confirmed that the CIA was significantly and positively influenced by the Mossad and Shurat Hadin’s work in this area. He added that he worked well and closely with then-Mossad director Shabtai Shavit, and this despite the fresh Jonathan Pollard controversy which hung over them at the time.

Continuing his grim – or realistic, depending on your perspective – sizing up of various security challenges, the former CIA director was extremely negative about the ongoing Palestinian efforts at reconciliation between the West Bank-based Fatah and Gaza-based Hamas.

He said, “I don’t trust either of those organizations. Israel should take zero risk while incitement in education of Palestinian kids continues.” Whether Israel attempts to negotiate a deal with the Palestinian Authority or with a PA-Hamas national unity government, peace negotiations “will not likely succeed. Some degree of negotiation sometimes should be maintained, in case something unexpected happens, and you want to be able to take advantage of that.”

He noted that such an unexpected event “happened to me in early fall 1989 when I was picked to take over the European negotiation over conventional forces. One week after I took over the job, I was sitting in my apartment in Vienna…. I had misheated something in the microwave and was watching CNN. Then the Berlin Wall goes down. I said, ‘That might have an effect on the talks!’”

Despite that positive example, he returned to his theme that he does not “see any reasonable chance of success, given what the Palestinians teach their kids, the hatred they propagate against Israel.”

Recounting happier times between Israel and the Palestinians, he said, “I remember going over there as CIA director in 1994, seeing some of the joint training between Fatah and the Israelis. It was quite dramatic. And there was also the handshake in the garden,” between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

However, Woolsey has an additional off-camera memory from his attendance at the ceremony, reflecting his and other US officials’ distrust of Arafat even in the best of times.

He said that after “the handshake,” Arafat starts down one side of the attendees and “starts grabbing each Arab ambassador and planting a wet kiss on their mouths – not their cheeks.”

Colin Powell, then-head of the US armed forces, was standing next to Woolsey and said, “Damn, Jim, he is going to kiss us.”

To avoid an Arafat kiss on the mouth, Powell saluted and elevated to his straightest height, towering over the short Arafat, who could not reach him. Woolsey then seized the moment by grabbing Arafat’s hand to shake it, and then handing him off to then-US secretary of defense Les Aspin.

Woolsey said he told Powell, “I never thought I would have to shake hands with that son of a bitch – but at least he didn’t kiss us!”

About the Oslo negotiations, which he witnessed up close, he said, “I thought it was worth trying at the time. But Arafat was never serious about it; it was nothing but a ploy for him.”

Woolsey said that the only chance for peace with the Palestinians would be if they changed “what they teach their kids” and got a new leader on the scene with the bold drive for peace of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.

Reviewing his current successor at the CIA, director Mike Pompeo, he said, “So far, so good.”

Asked about allegations that Pompeo has politicized aspects of intelligence related to Iran, or that his public views as a congressman act to pressure CIA analysts on the issue, Woolsey said that, if that was an issue, “it will go away with time… and people can discount what someone’s views were” before they were director.

Woolsey was critical of Trump for leaking Israeli intelligence to Russia and for his propensity for broadcasting so much of his national security strategy.

He contrasted Trump with former president Ronald Reagan, recalling that Reagan’s administration once discovered that Russia was stealing small electronic US government devices and that Reagan quietly ordered some of them booby-trapped.

“Reagan could look at some reconnaissance satellite feeds of Russian oil and gas pipelines going up in smoke – boom, boom, boom from the boobytraps!” he said with a big smile. “But they did not publicize it. The whole thing was very classified until years later.”

In intelligence you need to “speak softly, carry a big stick and sometimes use the big stick.”

Socialism: Venezuela’s Minimum Wage Crashes to Under Four Dollars a Month

November 11, 2017

Socialism: Venezuela’s Minimum Wage Crashes to Under Four Dollars a Month, BreitbartBen Kew, November 10, 2017

FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images

As part of his socialist economic program, the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez would boast that Venezuela had the highest minimum wage in Latin America, equivalent to $372 a month. However, inflation began to soar as early as 2007 and has now reached levels comparable to Germany’s Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation crisis, which saw people using wheelbarrows to buy products and the introduction of a 100 trillion dollar banknote.

******************************

The monthly minimum wage in the socialist country of Venezuela has crashed to under four dollars a month as hyperinflation continues to crush the country’s shattered economy.

Despite dictator Nicolás Maduro’s five minimum wage hikes over the course of 2017, the monthly minimum wage of 177,507 bolivares is equivalent to $3.41, working out at just over two cents an hour, according to latest real value exchange rates.

Venezuelans also receive a monthly food ticket of 279,000 bolivares a month, bringing people’s total monthly income to around approximately nine dollars a month.

Maduro confirmed last week that the government would debut a new 100,000 Bolivar bill, making it the highest denomination note released in modern Venezuelan history. The move comes less than a year after he tried to relieve pressure on consumers by releasing 500, 1000, 2000, 10,000, and 20,000 bolivar notes, although all of these notes now all have a value of well under half a dollar.

While, ten years ago, a 100 Bolivar note could buy a television, it is now worth just over one cent, with the currency having lost over 99.99 percent of its value since 2010. Yet rates of inflation continue to accelerate amid fears of a default on the country’s colossal debt.

On Wednesday, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov confirmed that Russia would offer Maduro a restructuring package on Venezuela’s $3 billion debt, although analystsbelieve this will do little to ease the overall debt burden, which currently stands at around $120 billion.

The unprecedented levels of inflation have now led the country into the worst humanitarian crisis in its history, leaving millions living in abject poverty amid chronic shortages of basic resources such as food, electricity, medicine, and sanitary products.

The country’s government also faces further pressure from the United States, with the Trump administration signing off on a range of sanctions primarily targeting the country’s state-run oil company following the socialist government’s installation of a “national constituency assembly,” a fraudulent lawmaking body which has effectively rendered the country a dictatorship.

As part of his socialist economic program, the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez would boast that Venezuela had the highest minimum wage in Latin America, equivalent to $372 a month. However, inflation began to soar as early as 2007 and has now reached levels comparable to Germany’s Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation crisis, which saw people using wheelbarrows to buy products and the introduction of a 100 trillion dollar banknote.