Category: International

“I Don’t Care. I Believe Putin”: McCabe Levels Shocking Claim Against Trump

“I don’t care. I believe Putin.” Those six words could be the focus of serious congressional oversight in the coming weeks. Former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe stated that President Donald Trump refused to accept intelligence on North Korea’s missile program and instead that he would rely on what Putin told him. It is a shocking claim, but what makes this claim so notable is that McCabe is suggesting that it was made before witnesses other than himself. That means that it should be capable to confirmation or refutation. However, this could have the makings of a massive privilege fight between the legislative and executive branches.

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Kurds: Islamic State Defeat To Be Announced “In A Few Days” But Is ISIS Truly Vanquished?


By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

If there was ever a “nation” in the ordinary meaning comprising the Islamic State it is unquestionably moribund. The area reportedly controlled by the terrorist organization remains for the time down to one square kilometer, according to some reports less than six hundred meters square in Baghuz.

What actually has so far saved the jihadists from annihilation was that they interspersed themselves among civilian human-shields while Kurdish forces and allies exercise pause to protect the innocent. Thus remains the glory of the Caliphate, hiding among women and children to save itself.

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Egypt’s Parliamentary Bill Legislates Ability For al-Sisi To Hold Power Until 2034

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

We have another example of a parliament facilitating another eternal presidency. Egypt’s Parliament acted this week to amend the nation’s constitution to allow its current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to remain in power to 2034. Much of the pretext lies in the familiar call of a need for greater control and monopolization of the presidency to secure promised “reforms” and “progress”.

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Zambia Under Fire For Plan To Allow Thousands of Hippos To Be Killed By Trophy Hunters

First my usual disclaimer: I am no fan of such trophy hunts.  I often hike in remote spots to see bears and other animals in their natural habitat. We have previously followed the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion” by an American dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota as well as  subsequent controversies of an Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates and killing giant elephants or giraffes  or rare goats or famed wolves for trophies. The most recent example is the decision of the highly corrupt Zambian government to allow trophy hunters to kill thousands of hippos, including rare and threatens species for windfall payments. Some 1,250 hippos have reportedly been slaughtered under the program. Hunters are allowed to shoot two hippos at a time for a few thousand dollars.

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Manafort Loses Plea Deal After Judge Finds False Statements To Special Counsel

Paul Manafort added to his burgeoning record of alleged crimes and falsehoods this week with a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson that he had broken his cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller by making false statements and withholding information. The result could be devastating for Manafort who will now face sentencing without the benefit of the plea deal that he struck with Mueller. That could mean that, absent a pardon from President Donald Trump, Manafort could die in prison since he is looking at decades of potential jail time.

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American Trophy Hunter Triggers Controversy After Shooting Protected Goat In Pakistan

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As many of you know, I am no fan of such trophy hunts.  I often hike in remote spots to see bears and other animals in their natural habitat. We have previously followed the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion” by an American dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota as well as  subsequent controversies of an Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates and killing giant elephants or giraffes  or famed wolves for trophies. Now, American trophy hunter Bryan Kinsel Harlan, an entrepreneur from Texas, has triggered an outcry in Pakistan after paying over $100,000 for the joy of shooting a rare mountain goat (a national symbol of Pakistan).

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WSJ: National Enquirer Publisher Asked The Justice Department If It Should Register As Saudi Agent

We have been following the seedy legacy of American Media CEO David Pecker and his National Enquirer tabloid. Pecker is a cooperating witness with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after using his publication to pay off a former Playmate model who reportedly had an affair with President Donald Trump. Pecker and the newspaper previously denied the arrangement to help Trump by buying and killing the story of Karen McDougal.  AMI was also recently implicated in an effort to effectively blackmail Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the threat to release embarrassing photos. Bezos suggested that AMI was acting at the behest of Saudi figures upset with the Washington Post investigation of Saudi influence. Now, the Wall Street Journal has disclosed a letter confirming that AMI considered filing papers as a Saudi agent. The letter would seem to reinforce the AMI-Saudi connection referenced by Bezos.

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Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Said He Would Use “A Bullet” On Khashoggi in 2017

The New York Times has reported that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in 2017 that he would use “a bullet” on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That was well before his murder and contradicts the Crown Prince’s later statement that they were friends. It is one of a long line of lies made by the Crown Prince and the Saudi government to try to cover up the role of the Crown Prince. The evidence is overwhelming that the Crown Prince ordered the murder but the Trump Administration has refused to acknowledge the evidence of its own intelligence services and now has missed a deadline set by Congress. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has a close relationship with the Crown Prince and the Administration is clearly unwilling to allow his murdering of a Washington Post journalist interfere with the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

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Trump Associate: “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.”

A new set of emails has become public that shows the extent of the effort to secure a Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the election. The most notable emails are between two of Trump’s associates: Michael Cohen and Felix Sater. Sater’s boasting about Trump and Putin was previously known but now the emails have been disclosed. In one email, Sater (who seems to rival Cohen in competition for the most seedy Trump associations) brags about his close contacts with Putin and how he can get the Tower approved. He then adds “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.” He also that it would be “pretty cool to get a USA President elected” and, if successful, wanted to be the ambassador to the Bahamas: “That my friend is the home run I want out of this.” With the Mueller report now reportedly coming within the month, the emails could be used to show a strong business interest in Moscow — an interest that continued during the campaign.

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“That Hero Lies In You”: Saudi Feminist Leader Reportedly Tortured In Saudi Arabia While Saudis Enjoy Mariah Carey Concert

Saudi Arabia is full of contradictions as a nation imposing medieval Islamic laws while striving to portray itself as a modern country. We have routinely discussed the incredible bravery of women in the Kingdom who have risked everything to demand the most minimal rights of human beings from freedom of speech to freedom of travel to associational rights. One of these heroes is Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloulwho remains incarcerated and is being reportedly tortured for her advocacy of equal rights. For all of the women being abused in the Kingdom, many objected to Maria Carey holding a concert when this repression continues. Carey, who loves to sing about that “hero inside you,” took the money and will be holding the concert today. It appears that Carey’s commitment to women does not extend as far as turning down one concert from her already burgeoning fortune.

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Report: Saudi Arabia Has Systematically Helped Saudi Felons To Flee The United States

There is a disturbing account in The Oregonian/OregonLive that raises a long-standing issue that few people want to talk about in Washington: the long record of Saudi Arabia in violating our laws and helping felons flee the country before trial or sentencing. The article addresses just a few cases but it is a problem nationwide as Saudi Arabian nationals kill or injure Americans only to have the government help the culprits post bond and then flee. For example, Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies was accused of killing a 79-year-old woman in the center of Xenia, Ohio, a small Ohio town. Just days before trial, the Saudis allegedly sent a military officer to whisk him away.

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Turkish Courts Release Imprisoned Politician After Hunger Strike In Protest To Isolation Of Abdulla Öcalan

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

On January 13th I posted an article featuring PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan being held without access to visitation by family and attorneys since 2016. The government’s reversal of policy occurred after a two month long hunger strike staged by imprisoned Kurdish sympathizers including pro-Kurdish Turkish Member of Parliament Leyla Guven, 55. MP Guven’s condition was described as “grave” and in the end considerable concern was that her life was in danger. Now, at least for the time being, Ms. Guven is no longer in custody and hopes are high for her recovery.

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Legal Groups Around The World Rally Behind Turkey’s Dwindling Bar On The International Day Of The Endangered Lawyer

Today, the global bar groups rallied in support of the rule of law on the “International Day of the Endangered Lawyer.” The international effort is designed to draw attention to the thousands of lawyers and judges killed or imprisoned each year as they fight for basic legal rights in countries from China to Iran to Venezuela. However, no bar is more devastated than the one in Turkey where thousands of lawyers have been imprisoned and tortured for fighting the authoritarian regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Despite the praise from our president, Erdogan has continued a comprehensive campaign against the free press and political dissidents. This campaign however first required the elimination of thousands of lawyers to eradicate the rule of law to make way for his brutal religious-based authoritarian rule.

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Saudi Sisters Commit Suicide After Reportedly Seeking Asylum

First photos of Saudi sisters found duct-taped together released

We previously discussed the plight of a young teenage girl who fought for asylum rather than return to the medieval laws of Saudi Arabia where women must live without equal rights or opportunities. The case for asylum of woman from our “close ally” is strong given the violence meted out to women who seek to express their own views or pick their own future, let alone their own religion. The stark choice for women was tragically evident this week when a medical examiner confirmed that two young sisters chose to die together rather than return to Saudi Arabia. Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, reportedly wanted asylum but when their credit card ran out of money, they bound themselves together and threw themselves into the Hudson River, according to chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson as said in an official statement.

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Montreal Club Cancels Comedian For Wearing Dreadlocks

I have been previously critical of “cultural appropriation” campaigns against students and faculty and others accused of incorporating or adopting clothes, food (here and here and here), or exercise (and here) or even art (and here) associated with other cultures. These controversies have also involved hair and jewelry styles, including dreadlocks. The latest controversy arose over a comedian, Zach Poitras, who happened to have dreadlocks who was scheduled to have a show in Montreal at a bar associated with the University of Quebec. It was cancelled after people objected that he was white and thus his hair style was cultural appropriation. It is the same misguided position that we have seen on college campuses in sanctioning those who explore different styles or art forms or foods.

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