Category Archives: USA

Robert Mercer: The Bizarre Far-Right Billionaire Behind Trump’s Presidency

When all seemed to be falling apart for Donald Trump this summer, shadowy billionaire Robert Mercer offered up his own massive political infrastructure, which included Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, and saved Trump’s campaign from demise. (The Real News)

Jeremy Scahill on Betsy DeVos Lying During Her Senate Confirmation Hearing and Her Brother Erik Prince’s Ties to Donald Trump

Amy Goodman speaks to investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill about Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos lying during her Senate confirmation hearing and her brother Erik Prince‘s links to Donald Trump. (Democracy Now!)

Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince Is Advising Trump From the Shadows

Jeremy Scahill reports for The Intercept:

Image result for Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince Is Advising Trump From the ShadowsErik Prince, America’s most notorious mercenary, is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration. A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the defense and state departments. The official asked not to be identified because of a transition policy prohibiting discussion of confidential deliberations.

On election night, Prince’s latest wife, Stacy DeLuke, posted pictures from inside Trump’s campaign headquarters as Donald Trump and Mike Pence watched the returns come in, including a close shot of Pence and Trump with their families. “We know some people who worked closely with [Trump] on his campaign,” DeLuke wrote. “Waiting for the numbers to come in last night. It was well worth the wait!!!! #PresidentTrump2016.” Prince’s sister, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and Prince (and his mother) gave large sums of money to a Trump Super PAC.

In July, Prince told Trump’s senior advisor and white supremacist Steve Bannon, at the time head of Breitbart News, that the Trump administration should recreate a version of the Phoenix Program, the CIA assassination ring that operated during the Vietnam War, to fight ISIS. Such a program, Prince said, could kill or capture “the funders of Islamic terror and that would even be the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities they’re in.”

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President Obama Commutes Sentence of Chelsea Manning: Interviews with Nancy Hollander, Chase Strangio, Jeremy Scahill and Kevin Gosztola

In the first interview, Amy Goodman speak with Nancy Hollander, Manning’s appellate attorney, and Chase Strangio of the ACLU, who represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon for denial of medical care related to her gender dysphoria. In the second she speaks to Jeremy Scahill, investigative reporter for The Intercept, who also discusses Edward Snowden. And in the third interview, Jaisal Noor speaks to Kevin Gosztola, managing editor of Shadow Proof managing, about Obama’s surprising and historic decision. (Democracy Now!/The Real News)

Rex Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil Frequently Sought State Department Assistance, New Documents Show

Lee Fang and Lee Horn report for The Intercept:

Exxon Mobil under its CEO Rex Tillerson frequently pressed the U.S. State Department for help in negotiating complex business deals and overcoming foreign opposition to its drilling projects, according to documents reviewed by The Intercept.

The requests for help — documented in diplomatic cables obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from DeSmogBlog as well as some previously released by Wikileaks — raise a whole new series of conflict-of-interest concerns about Tillerson, who retired as Exxon Mobil CEO soon after being nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next secretary of state.

Consider: Exxon Mobil sent State Department officials a request to help overcome local opposition to fracking in Germany; in Indonesia, the State Department acted as a advocate for Exxon Mobil during contentious negotiations between the firm and the Indonesian government over a major gas field in the South China Sea; and in Russia, Exxon Mobil asked the U.S. ambassador to press the Russians to approve a major drilling program, noting that a “warming of U.S.-Russian relations” overall would also help the company.

Under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, the State Department started its own in-house energy promotion department, the Bureau of Energy Resources. The team works on a variety of energy projects, but its most high-profile programs have been focused on spurring the worldwide spread of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) technology, with the hope that doing so would blunt the influence of certain foreign powers. The Bureau’s Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program (formerly the Global Shale Gas Initiative) has in the past engaged with Exxon Mobil for projects in Poland and eastern Europe.

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Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

Charlie Savage reports for The New York Times:

President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.

The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

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The CIA’s Secret History Is Now Online

Jason Leopold reports for BuzzFeed News:

Decades ago, the CIA declassified a 26-page secret document cryptically titled, “clarifying statement to Fidel Castro concerning assassination.”

It was a step toward greater transparency for one of the most secretive of all federal agencies. But to find out what the document actually said, you had to trek to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland between the hours of 9 am and 4:30 pm and hope that one of only four computers designated by the CIA to access its archives would be available.

But today the CIA posted the Castro record on its website along with more than 12 million pages of the agency’s other declassified documents that have eluded the public, journalists, and historians for nearly two decades. You can view them here.

The title of the Castro document, as it turns out, was far more interesting than the contents. It includes a partial transcript of a 1977 transcript between Barbara Walters and Fidel Castro in which she asked the late Cuban dictator whether he had “proof” of the CIA’s last attempt to assassinate him. The transcript was sent to Admiral Stansfield Turner, the CIA Director at the time, by a public affairs official at the agency with a note highlighting all references to CIA.

But that’s just one of the millions documents, which date from the 1940s to 1990s, are wide-ranging, covering everything from Nazi war crimes to mind-control experiments to the role the CIA played in overthrowing governments in Chile and Iran. There are also secret documents about a telepathy and precognition program known as Star Gate, files the CIA kept on certain media publications, such as Mother Jones, photographs, more than 100,000 pages of internal intelligence bulletins, policy papers and memos written by former CIA directors.

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U.S. Military Trainees at Defense Universities Later Committed Serious Human Rights Abuses

Lauren Chadwick reports for Public Integrity:

Image result for Military Trainees at Defense Universities Later Committed Serious Human Rights Abuses[…] The Defense Department’s training was partly intended to instill democratic values and respect for human rights, but at least 13 of the 17 were subsequently arrested or charged in their home countries for crimes such as genocide, murder, and rape, said the reports, one of which was labeled as “Sensitive but Unclassified.” Others named in the reports were accused of torture or murder by civil and criminal courts, human rights lawyers, or government investigators, but continue to work in their official capacity.

Among the Pentagon- and military-run schools they attended, from 1985 to 2010, were the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, the U.S. Army Engineer School in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and others.

Independent analysts, lawyers, and human rights experts say the actual number of U.S. foreign military trainees who committed human rights abuses and other crimes is almost certainly higher than 17, in part because the State Department reports to Congress — required under obscure language inserted into a military assistance bill in 2002 that may soon be removed — only encompass one of the more than fifty U.S. training and defense assistance programs.

At least 33 other foreign military officers who received U.S. military and police training later committed human rights abuses, according to a separate tally by researchers at the nonprofit Center for International Policy, who based their tabulation on U.S. and foreign press accounts of incidents of violence or abuse involving foreign government officials.

Several of those on the Center’s list — including Amadou Sanogo, a former captain in Mali’s army— notoriously led coups against their governments a few years after attending the U.S. institutions.

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John McCain Plans Massive Boost in Defense Spending to Restore U.S. Military Dominance

 The Washington Times:

The Pentagon needs more fighter aircraft, an increase in the number of Navy ships, a higher number of Marines and Air Force personnel and a major modernization of the Army, says a white paper from the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman. (Associated Press)Senator John McCain called Monday for a massive boost in defense spending totaling more than $85 billion per year over the next half-decade, saying that is just the beginning of what it will take to restore the U.S. military to a dominant role.

The Senate Armed Services Committee chairman’s plans, detailed in a white paper, are an important marker, laying out defense hawks’ wish list as Congress prepares to debate budget priorities under the Trump administration.

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said that after years of bleeding, the Pentagon will struggle to fight the war on terrorism while preparing to engage emerging threats in Russia and China.

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Trump’s Navy Build-Up Comes With Steep Price Tag

Kristina Wong reports for The Hill:

Trump's navy build-up comes with steep price tagPresident-elect Donald Trump wants to expand the Navy’s fleet to 350 ships, the largest build-up since the end of the Cold War.

But where that money will come from is unclear and defense contractors aren’t counting their ships yet.

Experts say that going from the current fleet of 274 ships to Trump’s 350 goal will cost about $165 billion over 30 years. And it will be impossible to achieve unless there’s a dramatic increase in the defense budget, currently at $619 billion.

Navy budget expert Ronald O’Rourke said the $165 billion price tag does not include broader costs such as staffing the ships, maintenance and operations.

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U.S. Military Loves the Obama Doctrine, But Can It Survive Trump?

Kevin Baron writes for Defense One:

U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division train Iraqi soldiers during a live-fire movement exercise at Camp Taji, Iraq, April 12, 2015.There’s no welcome sign at this U.S military base discreetly tucked into the corner of the Kurdistan International Airport in northern Iraq. It doesn’t even have a name. But it’s here. Thousands of troops are here, including Americans, Germans, Italians, Finns, and Brits. And this time, it seems the U.S. military is in Iraq to stay.

The temporary tents and dining hall erected to house American forces — including special operators, CIA agents, and private military contractors who hunt, kill, and interrogate for America — are being replaced with permanent buildings. At least five types of U.S. military helicopters criss-cross the bright September skies over Kurdistan’s peaceful, bustling capital city, some ferrying generals up from Baghdad, others heading north into Syria with bearded special operators’ feet dangling from Black Hawk doors, or banking west toward Mosul, bringing Americans to the front lines of war.

It sounds busy and feels familiar, but today’s war in Iraq is a far cry from the mammoth effort of a decade ago. Gone are the hundreds of thousands of American troops and contractors occupying hundreds of sprawling bases and outposts across the country. Gone is the Bush administration’s total war and total occupation of a country. In its place is the Obama Doctrine.

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Insane Clown President: Matt Taibbi Chronicles Election of “Billionaire Hedonist” Donald Trump

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to award-winning Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi about his new book, Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus. (Democracy Now!)

Exxon’s Climate Change Denial and Human Rights Record Make Rex Tillerson Unfit to be U.S. Secretary of State

In the first interview, Nermeen Shaikh and Amy Goodman speak to oil and energy journalist Antonia Juhasz about the Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State nominee and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Juhasz’s recently wrote an article titled ‘Rex Tillerson Could Be America’s Most Dangerous Secretary of State‘. In the second interview, Sharmini Peries speaks to CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. In the third interview, Kim Brown speaks to Jamie Henn and Antonia Juhasz about whether Tillerson would conduct U.S. foreign policy in the interest of the oil and natural gas industry. And in the fourth interview, Kim Brown speaks to Kathy Mulvey of the Union of Concerned Scientists about Exxon continuing to avoid accountability for its climate change disinformation campaign. Mulvey worked on The Climate Accountability Scorecard(Democracy Now!/The Real News)

The Surprising Origins of ‘Post-Truth’

Andrew Calcutt, Journalism Lecturer at the University of East London, writes for The Conversation:

[…] This interpretation blatantly disregards the actual origins of “post-truth”. These lie neither with those deemed under-educated nor with their new-found champions. Instead, the groundbreaking work on “post-truth” was performed by academics, with further contributions from an extensive roster of middle-class professionals. Left-leaning, self-confessed liberals, they sought freedom from state-sponsored truth; instead they built a new form of cognitive confinement – “post-truth”.

More than 30 years ago, academics started to discredit “truth” as one of the “grand narratives” which clever people could no longer bring themselves to believe in. Instead of “the truth”, which was to be rejected as naïve and/or repressive, a new intellectual orthodoxy permitted only “truths” – always plural, frequently personalised, inevitably relativised.

Under the terms of this outlook, all claims on truth are relative to the particular person making them; there is no position outside our own particulars from which to establish universal truth. This was one of the key tenets of postmodernism, a concept which first caught on in the 1980s after publication of Jean-Francois Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition: A Report On Knowledge in 1979. In this respect, for as long as we have been postmodern, we have been setting the scene for a “post-truth” era.

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What Does Post-Truth Mean for a Philosopher?

Pinnochios“Post-truth” has come to describe a type of campaigning that has turned the political world upside down.

Fuelled by emotive arguments rather than fact-checks, it was a phrase that tried to capture the gut-instinct, anti-establishment politics that swept Donald Trump and Brexit supporters to victory.

Oxford Dictionaries made it the word of the year, defining it as where “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

But what does this new world mean for academics and scientists whose whole purpose is trying to establish objective facts?

AC Grayling, public thinker, master of the New College of the Humanities, and Remain campaigner, views the post-truth world with undisguised horror.

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The Real Purpose of the Russian Hacking Intel Report: Chris Hedges in Discussion with Abby Martin and Ben Norton

Chris Hedges is joined by journalists Abby Martin and Ben Norton to discuss the declassified U.S. intelligence report on Russia’s alleged “influence campaign” on the U.S. presidential election. They explore the allegations and why a large portion of the report is dedicated to RT America’s programming. (On Contact)

Was RT America ‘Pro-Trump’?

Danielle Ryan writes for The Nation:

RT conferenceUS intelligence agencies have pointed toward the Russia Today television channel as part of an ongoing effort to prove the Kremlin conducted a pro-Trump “influence campaign” in the run-up to the presidential election.

The long-awaited and recently declassified intelligence report into Russian influence in the election claimed that Russia’s “state-run propaganda machine” contributed to this influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to both Russian and international audiences. The report dedicated seven of its 25 pages to RT America—an offshoot from RT’s main Moscow-based international operation—which is funded by the Russian government.

But it’s not just intelligence agencies characterizing RT America as a vehicle for pro-Trump messaging. The accusation has become a common theme across traditional US media outlets as anti-Russia hawks and both liberal and conservative analysts seek to discredit anyone who strays from the accepted narrative on RT as a Kremlin stooge.

The problem with the claim that RT America is pro-Trump is that it is simply false. Many of the channel’s biggest names were either ardently anti-Trump or highly skeptical of what a Trump presidency might mean for America.

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Is Trump Is Making Journalism Great Again?

Jack Shafer writes for Politico:

11_Donald_Trump_93_gty_1160.jpg[…] Now, before the Committee to Protect Journalists throws up the batsign and the rest of us bemoan Trump’s actions as anti-press—which they are—let’s thank the incoming president for simplifying our mission. If Trump’s idea of a news conference is to spank the press, if his lieutenants believe the press needs shutting down, if his chief of staff wants to speculate about moving the White House press scrum off the premises, perhaps reporters ought to take the hint and prepare to cover his administration on their own terms. Instead of relying exclusively on the traditional skills of political reporting, the carriers of press cards ought to start thinking of covering Trump’s Washington like a war zone, where conflict follows conflict, where the fog prevents the collection of reliable information directly from the combatants, where the assignment is a matter of life or death.

In his own way, Trump has set us free. Reporters must treat Inauguration Day as a kind of Liberation Day to explore news outside the usual Washington circles. He has been explicit in his disdain for the press and his dislike for press conferences, prickly to the nth degree about being challenged and known for his vindictive way with those who cross him. So, forget about the White House press room. It’s time to circle behind enemy lines.

Washington reporting has long depended on a transactional relationship between sources and journalists. Journalists groom sources, but sources also groom journalists. There’s nothing inherently unethical about the back-scratching. When a reporter calls an administration source to confirm an embarrassing item, the source may agree to confirm as long as the reporter at the very least agrees to listen sympathetically to the administration’s context. But Trump’s hostile attitude attitude toward the press, his dismissal of CNN for attempting to ask a question at the last conference, and his underhanded ploy at the last conference where he loaded the audience with cheerleaders has muted that mutualism. It’s easy to predict that instead of negotiating with reporters as equals, his administration will advance its agenda by feeding more pliant reporters material the way a trainer rewards circus animals.

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Trump Story the U.S. Media Dare Not Utter: They Sacrificed Democracy for Ratings

Thom Hartmann writes for AlterNet:

The Trump story media dare not utter: They sacrificed democracy for ratings

[…] The numbers are easy to find online Trump got between $2 and $3 billion in free media coverage, while Hillary struggled to break into the evening news, and Bernie Sanders was largely ignored until the final months of the Democratic primary.

And it’s not a secret: Les Moonves, the executive chairman and CEO of CBS, said, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter about Trump’s candidacy: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” He added: “Donald’s place in this election is a good thing. . . . Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? . . . The money’s rolling in and this is fun. . . . I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

The networks — whose first priority since Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine is profitability rather than informing the public — are no doubt salivating about the next 4 years of daily eruptions from the White House. They’re clearly betting The Donald Trump Reality Show: POTUS Version will provide an ongoing revenue stream, whereas a Hillary presidency would merely have been competent and boring, and thus not as profitable for the media.

Which raises an important question in this post-Fairness Doctrine, post-consolidation media landscape in the United States.

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Erik Prince’s Mercenaries Are Bombing Libya

Arnaud Delalande reports for War Is Boring:

On Jan. 11, 2017, Intelligence Online — a professional journal covering the world’s intelligence services — revealed that the pilots of Air Tractor attack planes flying from Al Khadim air base in Libya are private contractors working for Erik Prince, the founder of the company formerly known as Blackwater.

War Is Boring’s own sources in Libya confirmed the assertion. Our sources said that the pilots flying the United Arab Emirates Air Force IOMAX AT-802 Air Tractors — converted crop-dusters — are mercenaries and aren’t Arabs.

Most of the for-profit aviators are American, according to IOL. Prince denied involvement in the UAE air operations.

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New Cyber Czar Rudy Giuliani’s Website Full of Security Flaws

Tim Johnson reports for McClatchy:

[…] The Trump transition office announced Thursday morning that Giuliani, part of a core group of Republican Trump loyalists during the campaign, had been tapped to “lend expertise to cybersecurity efforts.” The announcement didn’t offer many details about how Giuliani would fulfill his role, noting simply that hacks are rampant.

“Cyber intrusion is the fastest growing crime in the United States and much of the world,” the statement said.

The announcement prompted a few programmers to conduct their own free website analysis of giulianipartners.com. Their verdict? Pathetic. Sad.

Indeed, some may have tried their hand at a little mischief. “Service temporarily unavailable,” flashed the screen when one visitor sought to browse there in the afternoon.

“Seems Rudy may need a cybersecurity chief for himself,” tweeted Jeremiah Grossman, whose profile said he is chief of security strategy for SentinelOne, a cybersecurity company.

Others came to Giuliani’s defense.

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Davos Wonders If It’s Part of the Problem

Matthew Campbell and Simon Kennedy report for Bloomberg:

Davos illustration: Alpine disconnectKenneth Rogoff can pinpoint the moment he started to grow concerned Donald Trumpwould be the next U.S. president: It was when Rogoff’s fellow attendees at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting last January said it could never happen. “A joke I’ve told 1,000 people in the months since leaving Davos is that the conventional wisdom of Davos is always wrong,” says the Harvard professor and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. “No matter how improbable, the event most likely to happen is the opposite of whatever the Davos consensus is.”

The repeated failure of business and political elites to predict what’s coming—last year, that included the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union—doesn’t strike those returning this month to the Swiss Alps as very funny. After a year in which political upsets roiled financial markets and killed off the careers of once-dominant Davos-going politicians, the concern for delegates attending this year’s meeting isn’t that their forecasts are often wrong, but that their worldview is.

In its four decades of existence, the WEF has nurtured a broad consensus in favor of globalization and open markets. At its core is the notion that capital, goods, and people should be able to move freely across borders, a principle that can deliver huge benefits to those with education and money but seems terrifying to those without either. For the 3,000 people who will convene in the small Swiss town from Jan. 17 to 20, the 2017 event could be a moment of reckoning. At speakers’ podiums, coffee bars, and the ubiquitous late-night parties, they’ll be asking themselves whether Davos has become, at best, the world’s most expensive intellectual feedback loop—and, at worst, part of the problem.

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What Happens to a Feminist Dream Deferred?

Kathleen Geier writes for The Nation:

womanhillaryclinton[…] Trump’s election is an unmitigated disaster for American women, but the way forward for feminism is clear. It requires jettisoning the corporate feminism of elites and replacing it with a feminism for the 99 percent—the kind of feminism that Clinton, with her history of support for neoliberal economic policies, could not credibly represent. During the campaign, Clinton cynically asked, “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow…would that end sexism?” But her distinction between economic issues on the one hand and gender issues on the other is a false dichotomy. Wall Street’s relentless financialization of the economy has been a major driver of the economic inequality that, in recent decades, has dramatically slowed women’s advancement. Soaring economic inequality is implicated in the stubborn persistence of the gender pay gap and in women’s declining levels of labor force participation. The domination of the rich in our political process is why we get austerity policies that entrench our society’s dependence on women’s unpaid caring labor.

Nancy Fraser has noted that in recent decades mainstream feminism has almost exclusively emphasized issues of “recognition”—addressing the cultural harms done to women—while marginalizing those of redistribution. But in order to reignite our stalled gender revolution, we must make the fight for economic justice central to feminism once again. Feminism cannot allow itself to be bought off with a superficial layer of gender diversity at the top that leaves the female masses behind and the oppressive structures and institutions of our society unchanged. Nor should feminists shrink from demanding the bold, radical changes that we need for women to thrive, including universal-childcare and basic-income programs, aggressive equal-pay laws, and more.

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Women’s March on Washington Set to be One of America’s Biggest Protests

Joanna Walters reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Women's March on WashingtonIt began as a spontaneous feminist rallying cry via social media. It has morphed into what is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations in American history – a boisterous march about a smorgasbord of progressive issues, and an extraordinary display of dissent on a president’s first day in office peppered with knit pink hats.

Before the bunting and barriers are even cleared away from Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump, hundreds of thousands are likely to attend the Women’s March on Washington the following day, 21 January.

“A march of this magnitude, across this diversity of issues has never happened before,” said Kaylin Whittingham, president of the association of black women attorneys. “We all have to stand together as a force no one can ignore.”

The Women’s March now has almost 200 progressive groups, large and small, signing on as supporting partners. The issues they represent are as varied as the environment, legal abortion, prisoners’ rights, voting rights, a free press, affordable healthcare, gun safety, racial and gender equality and a higher minimum wage. Men are invited.

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Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out

Kate Tummarello reports for the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people.

New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA—which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy—share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report today by the New York Times.

That’s a huge and troubling shift in the way those intelligence agencies receive information collected by the NSA. Domestic agencies like the FBI are subject to more privacy protections, including warrant requirements. Previously, the NSA shared data with these agencies only after it had screened the data, filtering out unnecessary personal information, including about innocent people whose communications were swept up the NSA’s massive surveillance operations.

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U.S. National Intelligence Council: Prepare for ‘a Dark and Difficult Near Future’

Jamie Seidel reports for NCAN:

Image result for U.S. National Intelligence Council: Prepare for ‘a Dark and Difficult Near Future’Nationalism, a backlash against globalisation and the power of social media are shaping a dark and difficult future, a US intelligence report warns.

The Global Trends: Paradox of Progress report released by the US National Intelligence Council overnight warns that the post-World War II era of stability, international co-operation and consensus-building has eroded.

It will be “a dark and difficult near future”, the report warns.

“For better and worse, the emerging global landscape is drawing to a close an era of American dominance following the Cold War,” it concedes. “So, too, perhaps is the rules-based international order that emerged after World War II.”

It also highlights incoming US President Donald Trump, due to take office on January 20, will face a complex and reactive world — and not just the increasing assertiveness of China and Russia.

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Exposé Uncovers SEAL Team 6’s Ghastly Trail of Atrocities, Mutilations, Killings

Amy Goodman speaks to The Intercept’s national security reporter Matthew Cole who spent two years investigating accounts of ghastly atrocities committed by members of Seal Team 6, including mutilating corpses, skinnings and attempted beheadings. According to sources, senior command staff were aware of the misconduct but did little to stop it—and often helped to cover it up. Cole’s article is titled: The Crimes of Seal Team 6(Democracy Now!)

Jeff Sessions Is Unfit To Be U.S. Attorney General

In the first video, we hear from Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois), co-chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and from Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and Moral Mondays leader. In the second video, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to David Cole, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, who is set to testify at Sessions’ Senate hearing, and with Kyle Barry, policy counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and co-author their report opposing Jeff Sessions’s nomination. In the third,  fourth, fifth and sixth videos, Jaisal Noor speaks to Kamau Franklin, a longtime activist and civil rights attorney and author, historian Gerald Horne, Alabama NAACP President Bernard Simelton, and veteran civil rights prosecutor Gerald Hebert, who played a key role in Sessions’s failed bid for a federal judgeship in 1986. (Democracy Now!/The Real News)

James Mattis Calls for U.S. Military to Be More Lethal at Defense Secretary Confirmation Hearing

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman speak with retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, Aaron Glantz, a senior reporter at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, and Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council. Mattis’s 41-year career in the Marine Corps included field commands in the Persian Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. He led U.S. troops during the 2004 battle of Fallujah, earning himself the nickname “Mad Dog” Mattis. In May 2004, Mattis ordered an attack on a small Iraqi village that ended up killing about 42 people attending a wedding ceremony. He went on to lead United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, but the Obama administration cut short his tour over concerns he was too hawkish on Iran. (Democracy Now!)

How Goldman Sachs Became the Overlord of the Trump Administration

Pam Martens and Russ Martens write for Wall Street on Parade:

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Outside 15 Central Park West, the Residence of Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs[…] How did a candidate who repeatedly demonized Goldman Sachs as the poster child for a corrupt establishment that owned Washington end up with Goldman Sachs’ progeny filling every post that even tangentially has the odor of money or global finance? One answer is family ties; another may be something darker.

Trump’s non-stop nominations and appointments of Goldman Sachs alumni have left his supporters stunned. Trump nominated Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs to be his Treasury Secretary. Stephen Bannon, another former Goldman Sachs banker, was named by Trump as his Chief Strategist in the White House. The sitting President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn, has been named by Trump as Director of the National Economic Council, which, according to its website, coordinates “policy-making for domestic and international economic issues.”  Last week, in a move that stunned even Wall Street, Trump nominated a Goldman Sachs outside lawyer, Jay Clayton of Sullivan & Cromwell, to serve as Wall Street’s top cop as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Adding to the slap in the face to Trump’s working class supporters, Clayton’s wife currently works as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.

But the Goldman Sachs’ ties don’t stop there. 

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