Doing Advance Work

News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Beyond BuzzFeed: 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing US Media Failures On Trump-Russia Story plus 12 runners up-Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept…(Deep State GOP Senator Cory Gardner wanted Russia declared a “state sponsor of terror” over naturally occurring crickets in Cuba, #6)

1/20/19, Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing US Media Failures On The Trump/Russia Story, The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald 

“Buzzfeed was once notorious for traffic-generating “listicles”, but has since become an impressive outlet for deep investigative journalism under editor-in-chief Ben Smith. That outlet was prominently in the news this week thanks to its “bombshell” story about President Trump and Michael Cohen: a story that, like so many others of its kind, blew up in its face, this time when the typically mute Robert Mueller’s office took the extremely rare step to label its key claims “inaccurate.”

But in homage to BuzzFeed’s past viral glory, following are the top ten worst media failures in two-plus-years of Trump/Russia reporting. They are listed in reverse order, as measured by the magnitude of the embarrassment, the hysteria they generated on social media and cable news, the level of journalistic recklessness that produced them, and the amount of damage and danger they caused. This list was extremely difficult to compile in part because news outlets (particularly CNN and MSNBC) often delete from the internet the video segments of their most embarrassing moments. Even more challenging was the fact that the number of worthy nominees is so large that highly meritorious entrees had to be excluded, but are acknowledged at the end with (dis)honorable mention status.

Note that all of these “errors” go only in one direction: namely, exaggerating the grave threat posed by Moscow and the Trump circle’s connection to it. It’s inevitable that media outlets will make mistakes on complex stories. If that’s being done in good faith, one would expect the errors would be roughly 50/50 in terms of the agenda served by the false stories. That is most definitely not the case here. Just as was true in 2002 and 2003, when the media clearly wanted to exaggerate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and thus all of its “errors” went in that direction, virtually all of its major “errors” in this story are devoted to the same agenda and script: 

10. RT Hacked Into and Took Over C-SPAN (Fortune) 

On June 12, 2017, Fortune claimed that RT had hacked into and taken over C-SPAN and that C-SPAN “confirmed” it had been hacked. The whole story was false: 

“C-SPAN Confirms It Was Briefly Hacked by Russian News Site https://t.co/NUFD662FMz pic.twitter.com/POstGFzvNE Fortune Tech (@FortuneTech) January 12, 2017

Kremlin-funded Russian news network RT interrupted C-SPAN’s online feed for about ten minutes Thursday afternoon https://t.co/Z25LqoCW2H New York Magazine (@NYMag) January 12, 2017

Holy shit. Russia state propaganda (RT) “hacked” into C-SPAN feed and took over for a good 40 seconds today? In middle of live broadcast. https://t.co/pwWYFoDGDU— Isaac Saul (@Ike_Saul) January 12, 2017

RT America ominously takes over C-SPAN feed for ten minutes @tommyxtopher reviews today’s events for #shareblue https://t.co/uiiU5awSMs— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) January 12, 2017
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After investigation, C-SPAN has concluded that the RT interruption was not the result of a hack, but rather routing error.— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) January 18, 2017
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9. Russian Hackers Invaded the U.S. Electricity Grid to Deny Vermonters Heat During the Winter (WashPost) 

 

On December 30, 2016, the Washington Post reported that “Russian hackers penetrated the U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont,” causing predictable outrage and panic, along with threats from U.S. political leaders. But then they kept diluting the story with editor’s notes – to admit that the malware was found on a laptop not connected to the U.S. electric grid at all – until finally acknowledging, days later, that the whole story was false, since the malware had nothing to do with Russia or with the U.S. electric grid: 


Breaking: Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont https://t.co/LED11lL7ej— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 31, 2016
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NEW: “One of the world’s leading thugs, [Putin] has been attempting to hack our electric grid,” says VT Gov. Shumlin https://t.co/YgdtT4JrlX pic.twitter.com/AU0ZQjT3aOABC News (@ABC) December 31, 2016
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“Washington Post retracts story about Russian hack at Vermont utility https://t.co/JX9l0926Uj via @nypost— Kerry Picket (@KerryPicket) January 1, 2017″

8. A New, Deranged, Anonymous Group Declares Mainstream Political Sites on the Left and Right to be Russian Propaganda Outlets and WashPost Touts its Report to Claim Massive Kremlin Infiltration of the Internet (WashPost) 

[The “PropOrNot” scam] 

On November 24, 2016, the Washington Post published one of the most inflammatory, sensationalistic stories to date about Russian infiltration into U.S. politics using social media, accusing “more than 200 websites” of being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. It added: “stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign [on Facebook] were viewed more than 213 million times.”

Unfortunately for the paper, those statistics were provided by a new, anonymous group that reached these conclusions by classifying long-time, well-known sites – from the Drudge Report to Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute. – as “Russian propaganda outlets, producing one of the longest Editor’s Note in memory appended to the top of the article (but not until two weeks later, long after the story was mindlessly spread all throughout the media ecosystem):

“Russian propaganda effort helped spread fake news during election, say independent researchers https://t.co/3ETVXWw16Q— Marty Baron (@PostBaron) November 25, 2016″
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“Just want to note I hadn’t heard of Propornot before the WP piece and never gave permission to them to call Bellingcat “allies” https://t.co/jQKnWzjrBR— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 25, 2016″
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“Marty, I would like to more about PropOrNot, “experts” cited in the article. Their website provides little in the way of ID. https://t.co/ZiK8pKzUwx— Jack Shafer (@jackshafer) November 25, 2016″
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7. Trump Aide Anthony Scaramucci is Involved in a Russian Hedge Fund Under Senate Investigation (CNN)

[3 resigned from CNN]

On June 22, 2017, CNN reported that Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci was involved with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, under Senate investigation. He was not. CNN retracted the story and forced the three reporters who published it to leave the network.





6. Russia Attacked U.S. “Diplomats” (i.e. Spies) at the Cuban Embassy Using a Super-Sophisticated Sonic Microwave Weapon (NBC/MSNBC/CIA) 

 

[Deep State Republican Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado called for declaring Russia a “state sponsor of terror” over naturally occurring crickets in Cuba:]


On September 11, 2017, NBC News and MSNBC spread all over its airwaves a claim from its notorious CIA puppet Ken Dilanian that Russia was behind a series of dastardly attacks on U.S. personnel at the Embassy in Cuba using a sonic or microwave weapon so sophisticated and cunning that Pentagon and CIA scientists had no idea what to make of it.

But then teams of neurologists began calling into doubt that these personnel had suffered any brain injuries at all – that instead they appear to have experienced collective psychosomatic symptoms – and then biologists published findings that the “strange sounds” the U.S. “diplomats” reported hearing were identical to those emitted by a common Caribbean male cricket during mating season.

“An @NBCNews exclusive: After more than a year of mystery, Russia is the main suspect in the sonic attacks that sickened 26 U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials in Cuba. @MitchellReports has the latest. pic.twitter.com/NEI9PJ9CpD— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 11, 2018″

“Wow, U.S. has signals intelligence linking the sonic attacks on Americans in Cuba and China to *Russia* https://t.co/FbNla0vu9W— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) September 11, 2018″

“Following NBC report about sonic attacks, @SenCoryGardner renews calls for declaring Russia a state sponsor of terror https://t.co/wrnubfecom— Niels Lesniewski (@nielslesniewski) September 11, 2018″
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5. Trump Created a Secret Internet Server to Covertly Communicate with a Russian Bank (Slate)

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“Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. pic.twitter.com/8f8n9xMzUU— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 1, 2016″ 

“It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia. https://t.co/D8oSmyVAR4 pic.twitter.com/07dRyEmPjX Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 31, 2016″
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4. Paul Manafort Visited Julian Assange Three Times in the Ecuadorian Embassy and Nobody Noticed (Guardian/Luke Harding) 

 

On November 27, 2018, the Guardian published a major “bombshell” that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had somehow managed to sneak inside one of the world’s most surveilled buildings, the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and visit Julian Assange on three different occasions. Cable and online commentators exploded.


Seven weeks later, no other media outlet has confirmed this; no video or photographic evidence has emerged; the Guardian refuses to answer any questions; its leading editors have virtually gone into hiding; other media outlets have expressed serious doubts about its veracity; and an Ecuadorian official who worked at the embassy has called the story a complete fake:


Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told. https://t.co/Fc2BVmXipk— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 27, 2018

The sourcing on this is a bit thin, or at least obscured. But it’s the ultimate Whoa If True. It’s…ballgame if true.— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 27, 2018 

The Guardian reports that Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the same month that Manafort joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, a meeting that could carry vast implications for the Russia investigation https://t.co/pYawnv4MHHLos Angeles Times (@latimes) November 27, 2018
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3. CNN Explicitly Lied About Lanny Davis Being Its Source – For a Story Whose Substance Was Also False: Cohen Would Testify that Trump Knew in Advance About the Trump Tower Meeting (CNN) 

 

[CNN still hasn’t retracted this story] 

 

On July 27, 2018, CNN published a blockbuster story: that Michael Cohen was prepared to tell Robert Mueller that President Trump knew in advanced about the Trump Tower meeting. There were, however, two problems with this story: first, CNN got caught blatantly lying when its reporters claimed that “contacted by CNN, one of Cohen’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, declined to comment” (in fact, Davis was one of CNN’s key sources, if not its only source, for this story), and second, numerous other outlets retracted the story after the source, Davis, admitted it was a lie. CNN, however, to this date has refused to do either:








2. Robert Mueller Possesses Internal Emails and Witness Interviews Proving Trump Directed Cohen to Lie to Congress (BuzzFeed) 

 

“BREAKING: President Trump personally directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in order to obscure his involvement. https://t.co/BEoMKiDypn— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) January 18, 2019″ 


“BOOM! https://t.co/QDkUMaEa7M pic.twitter.com/9kcZZ8m1gtBenjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) January 18, 2019″ 

“The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true. https://t.co/GljBAFqOjh Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 18, 2019″

If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) January 18, 2019

“Listen, if Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP. Mueller shouldn’t end his inquiry, but it’s about time for him to show Congress his cards before it’s too late for us to act. https://t.co/ekG5VSBS8GChris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 18, 2019

“To those trying to parse the Mueller statement: it’s a straight-up denial. Maybe Buzzfeed can prove they are right, maybe Mueller can prove them wrong. But it’s an emphatic denial https://t.co/EI1J7XLCJe Devlin Barrett (@DevlinBarrett) January 19, 2019 

.@Isikoff: “There were red flags about the BuzzFeed story from the get-go.” Notes it was inconsistent with Cohen’s guilty plea when he said he made false statements about Trump Tower to Congress to be “consistent” with Trump, not at his direction. pic.twitter.com/tgDg6SNPpG— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) January 19, 2019

We at The Post also had riffs on the story our reporters hadn’t confirmed. One noted Fox downplayed it; another said it “if true, looks to be the most damning to date for Trump.” The industry needs to think deeply on how to cover others’ reporting we can’t confirm independently. https://t.co/afzG5B8LAP— Matt Zapotosky (@mattzap) January 19, 2019

“Washington Post says Mueller’s denial of BuzzFeed News article is aimed at the full story: “Mueller’s denial, according to people familiar with the matter, aims to make clear that none of those statements in the story are accurate.”
https://t.co/ene0yqe1mK— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) January 19, 2019″ 

“If you’re one of the people tempted to believe the self-evidently laughable claim that there’s something “vague” or unclear about Mueller’s statement, or that it just seeks to quibble with a few semantic trivialities, read this @WashPost story about this https://t.co/0io99LyATS pic.twitter.com/ca1TwPR3Og— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 19, 2019″

“You can spend hours parsing the Carr statement, but given how unusual it is for any DOJ office to issue this sort of on the record denial, let alone this office, suspect it means the story’s core contention that they have evidence Trump told Cohen to lie is fundamentally wrong.— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) January 19, 2019″

“New York Times throws a bit of cold water on BuzzFeed’s explosive — and now seriously challenged — report that Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress: https://t.co/9N7MiHs7et pic.twitter.com/7FJFT9D8fW— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) January 19, 2019

“I can’t speak to Buzzfeed’s sourcing, but, for what it’s worth, I declined to run with parts of the narrative they conveyed based on a source central to the story repeatedly disputing the idea that Trump directly issued orders of that kind.— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) January 19, 2019″

“FWIW in all our reporting I haven’t found any in the Trump Org that have met with or been interviewed by Mueller. https://t.co/U4eV1MZc8p— John Santucci (@Santucci) January 18, 2019″
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1. Donald Trump Jr. Was Offered Advanced Access to the WikiLeaks Email Archive (CNN/MSNBC) 

 

The morning of December 9, 2017, launched one of the most humiliating spectacles in the history of the U.S. media. With a tone so grave and bombastic that it is impossible to overstate, CNN went on the air and announced a major exclusive: Donald Trump, Jr. was offered by email advanced access to the trove of DNC and Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks – meaning before those emails were made public. Within an hour, MSNBC’s Ken Dilanian, using a tone somehow even more unhinged, purported to have “independently confirmed” this mammoth, blockbuster scoop, which, they said, would have been the smoking gun showing collusion between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over the hacked emails (while the YouTube clips have been removed, you can still watch one of the amazing MSNBC videos here).


There was, alas, just one small problem with this massive, blockbuster story: it was totally and completely false. The email which Trump, Jr. received that directed him to the WikiLeaks archive was sent after WikiLeaks published it online for the whole world to see, not before. Rather than some super secretive operative giving Trump, Jr. advanced access, as both CNN and MSNBC told the public for hours they had confirmed, it was instead just some totally pedestrian message from a random member of the public suggesting Trump, Jr. review documents the whole world was already talking about. All of the anonymous sources CNN and MSNBC cited somehow all got the date of the email wrong.

To date, when asked how they both could have gotten such a massive story so completely wrong in the same way, both CNN and MSNBC have adopted the posture of the CIA by maintaining complete silence and refusing to explain how it could possibly be that all of their “multiple, independent sources” got the date wrong on the email in the same way, to be as incriminating – and false – as possible. Nor, needless to say, will they identify their sources who, in concert, fed them such inflammatory and utterly false information.

Sadly, CNN and MSNBC have deleted most traces of the most humiliating videos from the internet, including demanding that YouTube remove copies. But enough survives to document just what a monumental, horrifying, and utterly inexcusable debacle this was. Particularly amazing is the clip of the CNN reporter (see below) having to admit the error for the first time, as he awkwardly struggles to pretend that it’s not the massive, horrific debacle that it so obviously is:
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“Knowingly soliciting or receiving anything of value from a foreign national for campaign purposes violates the Federal Election Campaign Act. If it’s worth over $2,000 then penalties include fines + IMPRISONMENT. @DonaldJTrumpJr may be in bigly trouble. #FridayFeeling https://t.co/dRz6Ph17ErTed Lieu (@tedlieu) December 8, 2017″ 

“boom https://t.co/9RPPltRq8k pic.twitter.com/eyYHkOMEPiBenjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) December 8, 2017″
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“CNN is leading the way in bashing BuzzFeed but it’s worth remembering CNN had a humiliation at least as big + bad: when they yelled that Trump Jr. had advanced access to the WL archive (!): all based on a wrong date. They removed all the segments from YouTube, but this remains: pic.twitter.com/0jiA50aIku Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 19, 2019″
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Dishonorable Mention:

  • ABC News’ Brian Ross is fired for reporting Trump told Flynn to make contact with Russians when he was still a candidate; in fact, Trump did that after he won.
  • The New York Times claimed Manafort provided polling data to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a person “close to the Kremlin”; in fact, he provided them to Ukrainians, not Russians.
  • Crowdstrike, the firm hired by the DNC, claimed they had evidence that Russia hacked Ukrainian artillery apps; they then retracted it.
  • Bloomberg and the WSJ reported Mueller subpoenaed Deustche Bank for Trump’s financial records; the NYT said that never happened.
  • Rachel Maddow devoted 20 minutes at the start of her show to very melodramatically claiming a highly sophisticated party tried to trick her by sending her a fake Top Secret document modeled after the one published by the Intercept, and said it could only have come from the U.S. Government (or the Intercept) since the person obtained the document before it was published by us and thus must have had special access to it; in fact, Maddow and NBC completely misread the metadata on the document; the fake sent to Maddow was created after we published the document, and was sent to her by a random member of the public who took the document from the Intercept’s site and doctored it to see if she’d fall for an obvious scam. Maddow’s entire timeline, on which her whole melodramatic conspiracy theory rested, was fictitious.
  • The U.S. media and Democrats spent six months claiming that all “17 intelligence agencies” agreed Russia was behind the hacks; the NYT finally retracted that in June, 2017: “The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”
  • AP claimed on February 2, 2018, that the Free Beacon commissioned the Steele Dossier; they thereafter acknowledged that was false and noted, instead: “Though the former spy, Christopher Steele, was hired by a firm that was initially funded by the Washington Free Beacon, he did not begin work on the project until after Democratic groups had begun funding it.”
  • The national media have offered multiple, conflicting accounts of how and why the FBI investigation into Trump/Russia began.
  • Widespread government and media claims that accused Russian agent Maria Butina offered “sex for favors” were totally false (and scurrilous).
  • After a Russian regional jet crashed on February 11, 2018, shortly after it took off from Moscow, killing all 71 people aboard, Harvard Law Professor and frequent MSNBC contributor Laurence Tribe strongly implied Putin purposely caused the plane to go down in order to murder Sergei Millian, a person vaguely linked to George Papadopoulos and Jared Kushner; in fact, Millian was not on the plane nor, to date, has anyone claimed they had any evidence that Putin ordered his own country’s civilian passenger jet brought down.

Special mention: [Louise Mensch and Rachel Maddow]




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As I’ve said many times, the U.S. media has become quite adept at expressing extreme indignation when people criticize them; when politicians conclude that it is advantageous to turn the U.S. media into their main adversary; and when people turn to “fake news” sites.

If, however, they were willing to devote just a small fraction of that energy to examining their own conduct, perhaps they would develop the tools necessary to combat those problems instead of just denouncing their critics and angrily demanding that politicians and news consumers accord them the respect to which they believe they are entitled.”






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Monday, January 21, 2019

Communist China grants Ivanka Trump five trademarks applied for in 2016 and 2017 covering child care centers, sunglasses, wedding dresses, brokerage, charitable fundraising, and art valuation-AP

1/21/19, China Grants Ivanka Trump Five Trademarks as White House Continues Trade Negotiations With Beijing," Newsweek, Jason Lemon

“Ivanka Trump has been granted five trademarks from China for her currently defunct company as her father’s administration continues negotiating with Beijing over trade.

Trademarks for wedding dresses, sunglasses and child care centers were approved on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. An additional trademark regarding brokerage, charitable fundraising and art valuation services was approved earlier this month.

Although the applications were filed in 2016 and 2017, the process for the trademarks has moved forward this month as trade talks between White House negotiators and China have appeared to progress. As long as there are no objections, the trademarks will now be finalized within the next three months, according to the AP. Ethics experts have previously raised concerns about the Trump family’s business dealings and how they could appear to benefit from the administration’s foreign policy….

Ivanka Trump announced last summer that she would shut down her company to focus on her role in the White House, where she serves as a close adviser to her father, The Hill reported.

But with her trademarks moving forward in China, it appears that she may intend to reopen her business at a later time. Considering the first daughter also regularly meets with foreign leaders, her international business dealings have raised concerns from ethics experts in the past.”…
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Added: AP version

1/21/19, “China grants Ivanka Trump 5 trademarks amid trade talks, AP via MSN, Shanghai

“The Chinese government has granted Ivanka Trump’s company preliminary approval for another five trademarks this month, as her father’s administration pushes ahead on trade negotiations with China.

Four trademarks, including child care centers, sunglasses and wedding dresses, were approved on Sunday. A fifth, covering brokerage, charitable fundraising and art valuation services, was approved on Jan.6, according to online trademark office records. The applications were filed in 2016 and 2017. If no one objects, they will be finalized after 90 days.

Ivanka Trump’s expanding intellectual property holdings have long raised ethical concerns, particularly in China, where the courts and bureaucracy tend to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.

Ivanka Trump’s lawyers in China did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Critics argue that by asking a foreign government for valuable intellectual property rights, White House officials could open themselves to pressure in government negotiations. There is also concern that the family’s global trademark portfolio would open the way for lucrative business opportunities once Donald Trump leaves office.

“The sheer number of foreign trademarks Ivanka Trump has gotten while working in the White House would be troubling enough, but the fact that she just got one for charitable fundraising when her father’s namesake foundation — which she served as a board member for…  is especially troubling,” Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in an email.

Ivanka Trump closed her fashion brand in July. Her representatives assert that trademark filings are a normal business practice and are needed to protect her name from copycats seeking to capitalize on her fame.

Companies apply for trademarks for a range of reasons. They can be signs of corporate ambition, but many also are filed defensively, particularly in China, where trademark squatting is rampant.

China has said it treats all trademark applications equally under the law.”
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“Associated Press researcher Chen Si contributed to this report.”



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Uninvited Americans recently killed in Syria had parked their vehicle flying huge American flags outside a restaurant there-Strategic Culture, Scott Ritter



Image, US government flies American flags as it continues to interfere uninvited in the sovereign nation of Syria. southfront.org, 1/9/19

The US will keep murdering its own citizens as long as it supposedly “fights” in areas that use suicide bombers. New ones are born every day. Vehicles used by U.S. special forces, flying large American flags” were parked outside a restaurant in Syria on 1/16/19.

1/21/19, Make No Mistake: ISIS Needs the US to Survive,” Strategic Culture, Scott Ritter, via The American Conservative

“ISIS apparently was not a major factor in the security plan put in place by the patrol. The planned meeting took place in a popular restaurant located on the main street of Manbij. The owner had fled Manbij when ISIS took over, returning after its liberation to open this particular establishment, which became the “go-to” location for visiting dignitaries (Senator Lindsey Graham claims to have eaten there when he visited Manbij), and was frequented by U.S. soldiers during their “coordination” efforts with the VSO. If an ISIS suicide bomber wanted to pick one location in Manbij where he or she could be certain Americans and high-value local officials would regularly congregate, it would be this restaurant.

This is precisely what happened this week. Alerted by the tell-tale presence of the unique M-ATV vehicles used by U.S. special forces, flying large American flags, the ISIS suicide bomber waited until the Americans had entered the popular restaurant and sat down with their VSO counterparts. The bomber walked to the entrance of the restaurant, detonated a suicide vest carrying explosives and, in the resulting explosion, killed the DIA intelligence specialist, his American interpreter, and two other U.S. soldiers, and wounded three other U.S. soldiers. Eleven locals died in the bombing as well, including at least five members of the Manbij Internal Security Force.

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria had been met with a wave of high-profile opposition….Senator Lindsey Graham led a chorus of Congressional opposition to the decision, calling it a “huge Obama-like mistake.”…Graham further noted that “An American withdrawal at this time would be a big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al Assad of Syria, and Russia.”…

While Iran, Syria and Russia have all supported Trump’s decision, ISIS had remained silent—until January 16.On January 16, 2019, ISIS voted, but it wasn’t the vote Senator’s Graham and Rubio have articulated. The ISIS attack in Manbij was a premeditated, carefully calculated event designed to sow chaos in the processes associated with an American disengagement in Manbij.

Manbij is a predominantly Arab city strategically located on the front lines separating Turkish forces from their arch-enemies, the Kurdish YPG, in the contested territory of northern Syria. The Manbij City Council, headed by a former Syrian Parliamentarian named Sheikh Farouk al-Mashi, has been touted as a model for similar Arab-led city councils in former ISIS strongholds such a Raqaa, the one-time capital of the ISIS caliphate. These councils would operate within the framework of a self-governing Kurdish-dominated entity in northeastern Syria known as Rojava. Arab-led city councils like the one in Manbij are viewed by the U.S. as a means of reducing the Kurdish profile in northeastern Syria, thereby placating the Turks, locking in a pro-U.S. Arab element opposed to the Assad regime in Damascus, and providing an Arab-based political entity that can effectively counter the attraction to ISIS on the part of many Syrian Arab tribes.

The problem with this approach is that it can’t work. The Kurds will never grant full autonomy to the Arab city councils, thereby guaranteeing Turkish angst, and the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, has insisted on the return of all Syrian territory to its control. Moreover, the city councils are weak and ineffective, and as such provide the perfect incubator for a residual ISIS presence. The only way the continued existence of city councils such as the one in Manbij is for the U.S. to remain in Syria and continue to prop them up.

The leadership of ISIS knows that its days are numbered once the Syrian government can turn its full attention on the eradication of that organization….As the Iraqi government, with the assistance of Iran, regains control of its own territory, the last remaining bastions of ISIS control are on Syrian soil, in areas controlled by the U.S. military. The correlation between the presence of U.S. military forces and the continued existence of ISIS should not be lost on anyone—ISIS needs the U.S. in order to survive….

While it wasn’t their intention, through their actions these Americans were empowering ISIS by furthering a situation from which ISIS in Syria draws its relevance. A U.S. withdrawal from Syria would set ISIS adrift, allowing the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, to defeat it and reassert its control over not only the territory currently occupied by ISIS, but also the hearts and minds of the Syrian Arabs whom ISIS needs for sustainment. By attacking the U.S. military and Manbij City Council on January 16, 2019, ISIS cast its vote in favor of the continued presence of U.S. military forces in Syria.

Those who continue to argue in favor of a U.S. military presence in Syria are only giving credence to that vote.”



via theamericanconservative.com
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Added: US military flies American flags as it interferes uninvited in the sovereign nation of Syria:

1/9/19, “Syrian War Report – Jan. 9, 2019: Turkey Wants US Military Bases In Northern Syria,” text and video, southfront.org





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Above image, “American base in Syria”

12/12/2018, ““Stronghold Of Evil” – Russia Slams America’s Illegal Syrian Occupation, zero hedge

Comment: US taxpayers protect every border except the southern US border. This fact alone means Americans are slaves. The first job of a government is to protect its citizens. The US refuses to do that job.
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Comment: Syria would be perfectly justified in bombing the US and driving around flying Syrian flags.




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Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Europe with which America has dealt is dead politically, never to return. NATO’s purpose ended in 1961 when Pres. Kennedy said that massive nuclear response was no longer U.S. policy. In Germany 42% of all births in 2017 were to migrants from Middle East or Africa-Angelo Codevilla, 1/17/19

Since Europe’s NATO members can’t take care of something so essential for them [as immigration] and so mechanically simple, for which they have ample resources, what could they possibly do for us?Americans have no way of making up for impotence so existential in a matter so intimate.…General James Mattis wrote in his letter of resignation as Secretary of Defense that “our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.” That was never so, and is less so now.”

Jan. 17, 2019, “European Defense, Angelo M. Codevilla

“Europe was never a full partner in its own defense. The very question—Will Europe ever fully partner with the U.S., or will the European Union and NATO continue to downplay the necessity of military readiness?—is no longer meaningful as posed, because the political energies of Europe’s elites are absorbed as they try to fend off attacks on their legitimacy by broad sectors of their population.
………..
The notion that Europeans and Americans were full partners in the NATO alliance and that this “kept the Russians out…etc.” was always a fiction, albeit a useful one. Today it is dysfunctional, an obstacle to all sides’ understanding of what useful cooperation may yet be possible. Thoughts of Europe’s role in its own military defense against the Soviet Union were incidental to the Alliance’s 1949 founding. Common European armed forces have always been a fantasy. The Alliance prospered from 1949 until April 1961, because of America’s then unequivocal commitment to respond to any Soviet attack on Europe by massively devastating the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons. But when the Kennedy administration informed the Europeans that massive nuclear response was no longer U.S. policy, the Alliance became a Potemkin Village, endlessly arguing about European troop levels and U.S. nuclear thresholds.

The ensuing plans for a gallant common stand at the Fulda Gap with conventional weapons were fantasies based on hope, and on willful ignorance about Soviet military doctrine. Transferred East German Air Force war plans show that, as Soviet military literature had made clear, the Soviets would have precluded such a clash by opening the conflict with nuclear strikes on NATO storage sites and troop concentrations, confident that the Americans would keep the nuclear war local and one sided.


The 1960s and 70s saw unseemly and dysfunctional mutual diplomatic leapfrogs of each other with regard to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Would Willi Brandt’s Ostpolitik prevail or Henry Kissinger’s? Ronald Reagan, Helmut Kohl, and Margaret Thatcher managed a fruitful though brief exception in their time. Because Europe neither has nor is producing any more such statesmen, never mind any Adneauers or de Gaulles, its foreign policy devolved into back-seat driving America’s foreign policy, then into a brake on America’s.

In 1990, Europeans joined Bush 41’s grand coalition against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on condition of limiting the mission, prompting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to remark that missions should define coalitions, not the other way around. NATO invoked Article 5 after 9/11, nominally considering the attacks as being on all members. But again, a counsel of restraint has been its main contribution. As Iran built the capacity to produce nuclear-armed ballistic missiles able to hit America as well as Europe, Germany and France helped persuade the Bush administration to hold Israel back from stopping it, and the Obama administration to negotiate the “Iran deal.” Our NATO ally Turkey, for its part, became the sine qua non of ISIS’s takeover of most of Syria, and the hinterland that enabled it to endure. Today, Turkey is trying to convince the U.S. to provide it with arms to kill ISIS’s remains, while obviously intending to use them against the only local force that helped America, the Kurds.

Today as well, the primary feature of U.S.-European military relations is the U.S. demi-brigade rotated through Poland as a token of a commitment to defend Poland and the other post-Soviet members of NATO. As their inclusion on the Treaty was being considered, no one suggested that the U.S. has the capacity to redeem Article 5’s commitment to them in the face of force majeure—especially since even were the U.S. willing to wage a ground war on the Vistula, Germany would not lend itself even to the transit of supplies. Professor David Fromkin’s suggestion in The New York Times that the version of the NATO treaty offered to them should lack Article 5 would have made it all too clear that they were being invited into a house with a pretend roof. 

History is full of examples of alliances less potent than the parties thereto, never mind than of the parts’ sum. Writing in Federalist Papers 18 and 38, James Madison referred to Greece’s Amphictyonic League (5th to 2nd century BC) to caution Americans about the tendency of alliances to devolve into strife and tyranny. Winston Churchill, in the first volume of his memoirs of WWII, explained in some detail how Britain and France, looking to each other for support against Germany, had failed to do what each would likely have done for itself alone. From Britain’s standpoint, he wrote, “There is something to be said for isolation; there is something to be said for alliances. But there is nothing to be said for weakening the power on the continent with whom you would be in alliance, and then involving yourself more in continental tangles in order to make it up to them.”

In sum, history shows that the North Atlantic Alliance has been less an alliance than a protectorate, and that whatever capacities the beneficiary of protection might have had to defend itself after WWII have atrophied.

The European Union never became either an element of strength, or a mechanism by which the U.S. could practice “one stop” policy in Europe. Instead, it is a bureaucratic entity with its own substance, an additional complication for dealing with member states, its decisions—often bad for America as well as for Europe—bidding for the status of customary international law. 

It has been the primary means for expressing Western Europe’s contemporary international identity. Accommodation with the Muslim world and hostility to Israel have been its primary hallmarks. The Trump administration is deemphasizing relations with it—including downgrading its diplomatic status in Washington—and dealing with member states bilaterally as much as possible. That includes holding out a U.S.–British trade deal as an incentive for Britain to follow through with Brexit.

Though NATO is a far less consequential bureaucracy than the EU—few take it seriously—its residual symbolic value and the habits of dependence that it has fostered are among modern Europe’s defining features. Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and France’s President Macron continue the tradition of verbally promoting Europe’s assumption of responsibility for its own military security while damning America for considering letting Europe actually exercise it. They praise Obama for his commitment to Europe, and blame Trump for lack thereof, though Obama removed the last U.S. main battle tanks from Europe, and Trump added troops. Meanwhile, U.S. officials, seemingly wanting auxiliaries rather than allies, chastise Europeans for not doing more for themselves while dissuading them from forming autonomous forces. The military relationship has an air of unreality, if not of farce.

The underlying reality is that the Europe with which America has dealt is waning demographically, ceasing to exist culturally, and is dead politically, never to return. Today, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. are disappearing biologically: In Germany, for example, 42% of all births in 2017 were to migrants from the Middle East or Africa. That percentage is already set to rise. Natives’ birth rates are far below replacement levels (Italy’s is 1.34 births per woman), together with the migration of young Middle Eastern/African people, well-nigh guarantees the end of Europe’s biological character, fast. Its cultural character is changing even faster. We can only guess the extent to which Europe may be able to maintain a European identity in the face of migration.

Current European elites’ inability to control their countries’ invasion by people from the Middle East and Africa, the migrants’ offenses against public safety, and the strictures imposed on native populations on the migrants’ behalf, are not least of the reasons why political Europe as we used to know it has ceased to exist. Other reasons, including the elites’ contempt for ordinary people’s way of life and manifold incompetence, are legion. Hence, the traditional parties are discredited, and the ruling classes are under siege by disaffected populations, especially the young. Without constituencies outside the establishment, they fear elections. Their very capacity to marshal people for any common purpose whatever is already gone. Their disappearance is only a matter of time.

The internal political cohesion of all European states having collapsed, the levers and buttons in the Atlantic Alliance’s control rooms are connected to nothing. The titled officials with whom Americans deal represent only themselves.

That is why the salient questions about U.S.–Europe relations are of scarce importance. What does it matter whether Germany and others devote 2% of GDP to the military instead of 1.2%? What would they buy with the rest and, far more important, what would they do with it? What do they have in themselves to do for themselves, never mind for us?

Management of migration is by far the biggest, most consequential challenge facing European states, individually and collectively. For that elementary task, they have far more material resources than might be needed. NATO’s headquarters and the EU bureaucracy offer far more facilities for coordination than necessary. And yet, European countries have shown lack of seriousness and the opposite of cooperation: All, having subsidized domestic NGOs that fairly invited migrants, now condemn one another for failure to take the ones they do not want. 

Separately, Germany and Italy pay Turks and Libyans, respectively, to keep migrants from traveling farther. Italy and France back opposite contenders for power in Libya. Americans have no way of making up for impotence so existential in a matter so intimate.

Since Europe’s NATO members can’t take care of something so essential for them and so mechanically simple, for which they have ample resources, what could they possibly do for us? 

General James Mattis wrote in his letter of resignation as Secretary of Defense that “our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.” That was never so, and is less so now.”

“Image credit: Poster Collection, IT 286, Hoover Institution Archives.”

“Angela Codevilla is a professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University. He was a U.S. naval officer and Foreign Service officer and served on the Senate Intelligence Committee as well as on presidential transition teams. For a decade he was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of thirteen books, including War: Ends and Means, The Character of Nations, Advice to War Presidents, and, most recently, To Make and Keep Peace. He is a student of the classics as well as of European literature; he is also a commercial grape grower.”




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