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Jul 19, 2018, 01:33 PM
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 on: Today at 04:04 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Asthma deaths rise 25% amid growing air pollution crisis

Doctors urge ministers to act as 1,320 killed by asthma in England and Wales last year

Sarah Marsh and Matthew Taylor
19 Jul 2018 18.04 BST

A record number of people are dying of asthma, and experts have warned growing air pollution and a lack of basic care could be to blame.

In England and Wales 1,320 people died of asthma last year, a sharp rise of more than 25% over a decade, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

The findings come amid growing concern about the air pollution crisis in the UK and mounting evidence of its impact on people’s health – particularly children and the elderly.

Earlier this month a medical expert said the hospital admissions of a nine-year-old girl who died during an asthma attack showed a “striking association” with spikes in illegal levels of air pollution around her home in London.

Last week an A&E doctor wrote in the Guardian about how her ward in London was overwhelmed by terrified children struggling to breathe because of dangerous levels of pollution. A separate report revealed that illegal levels of air pollution were driving up hospital admissions and GP visits.

Jonathan Grigg, a professor of paediatric respiratory medicine at Queen Mary University of London and a British Lung Foundation medical adviser, said: “These figures add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution is damaging everyone’s health. The case to clean up our air couldn’t be clearer, but the government has not yet showed the courage to deliver a credible nationwide plan.”

Today’s findings from the ONS showed that 1,320 people died in 2017 compared with 1,237 in 2016 and 1,033 in 2007. There has been an increase of 43% in asthma deaths in those aged 55-64 since 2016.

Kay Boycott, the chief executive of Asthma UK, described the surge as shocking. “This is devastating for the families who have lost a loved one and highlights the urgent need to improve basic care for people with asthma,” she said.

Sonia Munde, head of helpline and nurse manager at Asthma UK, said the top trigger for asthma attacks was pollution. “On days where pollution levels are high, it can leave people with asthma struggling for breath, increasing their risk of a life-threatening asthma attack,” she said.

Munde added that people who have asthma triggered by pollution should make sure they take their preventer inhaler as prescribed as this will help reduce inflammation in their airways, making them less likely to react to asthma triggers.

ONS data showed that 17 children aged 14 and under died from an asthma attack in 2017, up from 13 in 2016.

Overall air pollution has been linked to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths in the UK and labelled a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. It is known to be a major risk factor for childhood asthma.

The UK government has lost three times in the high court for failing to deal effectively with the crisis and is now being taken to Europe’s highest court. Earlier this year MPs from four select committees said serious concerns remained over the government’s commitment to reducing the impact of air pollution on public health.

Boycott said that alongside rising levels of toxic air, asthma deaths could be also be linked to inadequate basic care for an estimated 3.5 million people.

She said people were entitled to a follow-up appointment with their GP after they had been admitted to hospital with asthma. “Two thirds of people with asthma do not receive this within two working days of their discharge from hospital,” she said. “We are urging the NHS to ensure that people with asthma receive basic care to prevent avoidable deaths.”

 on: Today at 04:01 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

World-first melanoma blood test detects early stages of deadly skin cancer

Australian scientists say test delivers a more accurate diagnosis than the human eye

Australian Associated Press
19 Jul 2018 23.46 BST

Australian scientists have developed the world’s first blood test to detect melanoma in its early stages.

Early trials of the test involving 209 people showed it was capable of picking up early stage melanoma in 81.5% of cases.

The next step for the scientists from Edith Cowan University is to carry out clinical trials to validate their findings, with hopes the test could be commercially available in about three to five years.

Professor Mel Ziman, head of the Melanoma Research Group at the university, said the test has the potential to save thousands of lives.

It can help deliver a more accurate diagnosis of early-stage melanoma, which can be tricky to detect with the human eye, particularly if small.

The test could also benefit people living in rural areas where it’s hard to get to a dermatologist.

“It’s critical that melanoma is diagnosed more accurately and early,” Ziman said. “So a blood test would help in that identification particularly at early stage melanoma, which is what is the most concerning and would be most beneficial for everybody if it was identified early.”

Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in Australia and claims the lives of about 1,500 people each year. About 14,000 cases were diagnosed in 2017.

Doctors currently rely on checking a patient’s skin to see any changes in existing moles or spots before making a diagnosis.

The blood test works by detecting 10 combinations of protein autoantibodies produced by the body in response to melanoma.

Ziman said the next step is to improve the sensitivity of the test, carry out extensive clinical trials and test results against biopsies of suspected melanomas.

If the trials prove successful, a pharmaceutical company would need to come on board to make the test commercially available around the world.

The blood test has been cautiously welcomed by health experts. The Cancer Council Australia chief executive, Sanchia Aranda, said while it was an interesting development, Australians needed to keep checking their skin.

“It’s important all Australians keep a close eye on their skin and see their doctor straight away if they notice anything unusual,” she said.

Professor of Dermatology at the University of Melbourne, Rodney Sinclair, said the test still wasn’t 100% accurate.

“The false positive and false negative rates of this test mean that the results will need to be interpreted with caution and, where practical, combined with a full skin check by a dermatologist,” he said.

 on: Jul 18, 2018, 05:06 PM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rose Marcus

To grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we are in a phase of trial runs. The other is that what is being trialled is fascism – a word that should be used carefully but not shirked when it is so clearly on the horizon. Forget “post-fascist” – what we are living with is pre-fascism.

It is easy to dismiss Donald Trump as an ignoramus, not least because he is. But he has an acute understanding of one thing: test marketing. He created himself in the gossip pages of the New York tabloids, where celebrity is manufactured by planting outrageous stories that you can later confirm or deny depending on how they go down. And he recreated himself in reality TV where the storylines can be adjusted according to the ratings. Put something out there, pull it back, adjust, go again.

Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.

One of the basic tools of fascism is the rigging of elections – we’ve seen that trialed in the election of Trump, in the Brexit referendum and (less successfully) in the French presidential elections. Another is the generation of tribal identities, the division of society into mutually exclusive polarities. Fascism does not need a majority – it typically comes to power with about 40 per cent support and then uses control and intimidation to consolidate that power. So it doesn’t matter if most people hate you, as long as your 40 per cent is fanatically committed. That’s been tested out too. And fascism of course needs a propaganda machine so effective that it creates for its followers a universe of “alternative facts” impervious to unwanted realities. Again, the testing for this is very far advanced.
Moral boundaries

But when you’ve done all this, there is a crucial next step, usually the trickiest of all. You have to undermine moral boundaries, inure people to the acceptance of acts of extreme cruelty. Like hounds, people have to be blooded. They have to be given the taste for savagery. Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group. This allows the members of that group to be dehumanised. Once that has been achieved, you can gradually up the ante, working through the stages from breaking windows to extermination.

    People have to be given the taste for savagery. Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group

It is this next step that is being test-marketed now. It is being done in Italy by the far-right leader and minister for the interior Matteo Salvini. How would it go down if we turn away boatloads of refugees? Let’s do a screening of the rough-cut of registering all the Roma and see what buttons the audience will press. And it has been trialled by Trump: let’s see how my fans feel about crying babies in cages. I wonder how it will go down with Rupert Murdoch. 

To see, as most commentary has done, the deliberate traumatisation of migrant children as a “mistake” by Trump is culpable naivety. It is a trial run – and the trial has been a huge success. Trump’s claim last week that immigrants “infest” the US is a test-marketing of whether his fans are ready for the next step-up in language, which is of course “vermin”. And the generation of images of toddlers being dragged from their parents is a test of whether those words can be turned into sounds and pictures. It was always an experiment – it ended (but only in part) because the results were in.
‘Devious’ infants

And the results are quite satisfactory. There is good news on two fronts. First, Rupert Murdoch is happy with it – his Fox News mouthpieces outdid themselves in barbaric crassness: making animal noises at the mention of a Down syndrome child, describing crying children as actors. They went the whole swinish hog: even the brown babies are liars. Those sobs of anguish are typical of the manipulative behaviour of the strangers coming to infest us – should we not fear a race whose very infants can be so devious? Second, the hardcore fans loved it: 58 per cent of Republicans are in favour of this brutality. Trump’s overall approval ratings are up to 42.5 per cent.

    Fox News mouthpieces outdid themselves in barbaric crassness: making animal noises at the mention of a Down syndrome child, describing crying children as actors

This is greatly encouraging for the pre-fascist agenda. The blooding process has begun within the democratic world. The muscles that the propaganda machines need for defending the indefensible are being toned up. Millions and millions of Europeans and Americans are learning to think the unthinkable. So what if those black people drown in the sea? So what if those brown toddlers are scarred for life? They have already, in their minds, crossed the boundaries of morality. They are, like Macbeth, “yet but young in deed”. But the tests will be refined, the results analysed, the methods perfected, the messages sharpened. And then the deeds can follow.

 on: Jul 18, 2018, 08:13 AM 
Started by Skywalker - Last post by Helena
Hi Skywalker,

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your view. I really agree with everything you said and more personally, as you pointed, about this uranus correlating to the need to transform relationship with ourselves, and how this is developing fast on its own, with or without our cooperation, and certainly easier (and joyous) if we do...
It's kind of obvious, and we know it, as JWG first taught, we see it portrayed in ourselves and in others, taurus as this archetype of inner relationship with self, but what i think is this wonder and unpredictability of uranus, and how it means freedom, is that it really IS a surprise to find a new awareness of the inner reality in ways that again, could be obvious in our lives but now is the time for it to be felt. I do think also that for people with strong neptunian/pisces energy, meaning with very undefined boundaries between what is the self and what are the others, and/or strong sensitivity/empathy to people, places, situations, this can be such a good (and aha)moment to start identifying personal needs and boundaries, so that those boundaries can  naturally arise, specially with mars now going backwards in Aquarius squaring this! I certainly do feel this happening in my life to my own amazement (and personal freedom!) and would take a hunch that it can be happening much around...
Again, thank you for your sharp perspective and grounded motivation  Smiley

Heather, thanks for showing up, i believe we all share the struggle  Wink

Best to All,

 on: Jul 18, 2018, 06:46 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Bhaskara
Hi Everyone,

Ok Rad thank you...


 on: Jul 18, 2018, 06:44 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Ex-NATO commander destroys Trump and Fox News host for questioning alliance

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
18 Jul 2018 at 06:56 ET                   

The former commander of NATO forces smacked down President Donald Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson for questioning the importance of the alliance.

Retired admiral James Stavridis, the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” the pair’s questions were ridiculous and ahistorical.

“It’s a treaty,” Stavridis explained. “We’ve made an international agreement. We have an obligation and it stood in place for 70 years.”

Carlson and the president asked Tuesday night on Fox News why the U.S. should back tiny Montenegro, whose people Trump claimed were “aggressive” and might trigger a world war, but Stavridis said the reason was simple and important.

“By defending Montenegro, we buy the partnership of 28 nations that collectively have 52 percent of the world’s GDP,” Stavridis said. “By the way, the Europeans have the second largest defense budget in the world after the United States. Bigger than China’s and bigger than Russia’s.”

Stavridis, current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said the U.S. had benefitted from the treaty possibly more than any other member state.

“They went with us to Iraq, to Libya, to the Balkans, to Afghanistan,” Stavridis said. “When I was a NATO commander I signed, sadly, thousands of condolences, about third of them to Europeans who died fighting because the United States has been attacked. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was after 9/11 — we were the beneficiaries of that. I think that’s a pretty good equation in terms of NATO.”

In an earlier segment, Stavridis compared Trump’s acceptance of a soccer ball from Russian president Vladimir Putin to a volleyball that served as a companion to Tom Hanks’ stranded character in “Castaway,” and the retired admiral clearly was disturbed by that image.

“The big beneficiary is the guy who flipped the soccer ball to the president,” Stavridis said. “That’s Vladimir Putin, because that creaking sound you’re hearing is the transatlantic bridge between the United States, Canada and our European allies, and it’s creaking under pressure from Donald Trump.”

“That’s a very bad place for the United States of America to be,” he added, “because in Europe we find our greatest pool of allies, partners and friends, and to walk away from that is a big mistake.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOAjralku6I


Ex-CIA director suspects Trump repeated Putin’s anti-NATO talking points on Fox News

Brad Reed
Raw Story
18 Jul 2018 at 08:04 ET   

Ret. Gen. Michael Hayden on Wednesday said it was likely that President Donald Trump’s bizarre remarks about the nation of Montenegro during a Fox News interview came directly from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s talking points.

During a CNN interview, host Alisyn Camerota played Hayden a clip of Trump discussing NATO member Montenegro with Fox News host Tucker Carlson in which he described the tiny nation as “very aggressive” and that could spark “World War III” if they decided to attack Russia.

Hayden, a former CIA director, said Trump’s words about Montenegro sounded suspiciously like Russian propaganda used to describe the country.

“I would not be at all surprised that what you heard the president say to Tucker Carlson there last night is derived from what Vladimir Putin told him during the one-on-one discussions in Helsinki,” Hayden said.

“That’s troubling,” Camerota said. “How will we know what happened in those one-on-one discussions?”

“I don’t know,” Hayden admitted.

Elsewhere in the segment, Hayden also criticized Trump for not understanding that NATO is most effective if its foes believe that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all NATO countries.

“The president just expressed his doubt and took on the core requirement of the North Atlantic Treaty,” he said.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CqkPjw_YcM

 on: Jul 18, 2018, 06:30 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Heather,

Within the Mercury retrograde archetype there is nothing that correlates to not treating or hearing others equally. They are simply being naturally who they are which does not correlate to treating others as unequal to themselves.

God Bless, Rad

 on: Jul 18, 2018, 05:34 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Trump outdoes Orwell in role as Moscow's Agent Orange

Richard Wolffe

Can we be sure that two and two still equal four after the US president’s abject abandonment of truth in service of Russia?

18 Jul 2018 22.44 BST

The best disinformation and psy-ops campaigns are supposed to leave you dazed and confused, unable to discern truth from fiction, friend from foe, right from wrong.

So those who watched Donald Trump’s extraordinary press conference alongside Vladimir Putin might well be feeling nauseous, several hours later.

Listening to Trump’s responses about Russian acts of aggression, it was hard to know who was playing the role of the American president. His performance was so nakedly, brazenly pro-Russian, you had to wonder what ranks higher on the Trumpian scale of stupidity: the president’s own intellect or his dim view of ours.

George Orwell conjured up a totalitarian regime where Ignorance Is Strength, but he surely never conceived of this. How can we know that two and two make four, or that the DNC isn’t responsible for its own hacking, or that Vladimir Putin isn’t a bigger American friend than the entire European Union and Nato alliance?

As Trump explained so clearly, when he talks about Russia as a rival, he really means it as a compliment, no matter what your lying ears have told you.

So you may have heard him tell CBS that Russia is a “foe in certain respects”. But you obviously heard wrong. Right?

“Well, actually I called him a competitor,” said Trump, flicking the gaslight on and off. “And a good competitor he is. And I think the word ‘competitor’ is a compliment.”

Whatever you say, comrade.

The man pretending to be the American president spent most of his time posing in what purported to be a press conference. He pouted and thrust his chin out in the style made famous by Benito Mussolini. He pensively nodded like Pablo Escobar in Narcos on Netflix.

It was hard to see Putin’s facial expression because his skin has been stretched so tight across his skull. Besides, underneath all that plastic surgery, there’s the face of “an intelligence officer”, as he reminded us all.

This rank-and-file Russian officer did what Moscow’s finest have done for so long. He made sure his best asset was staying on track (a remarkably easy feat; this one is almost too enthusiastic), and he continued to wage war against the real enemy: the Magnitsky Act.

Sergei Magnitsky was murdered in a Russian jail, leading to the most unfortunate regime of sanctions against the regular business types who make up Putin’s cartel. If you think the sanctions are a sideshow, you should know that the Russian lawyer in the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June of the election year wanted to trade dirt on Hillary Clinton in exchange for lifting them.

And somehow the name of the man behind those sanctions, US-born British hedge fund manager Bill Browder, emerged from Putin’s lips on Monday, at the heart of a scandal that is so epic, and so unreported, that it surely deserves its own special counsel investigation.

Putin claimed that Browder’s associates had earned $1.5bn in Russia and donated $400m to Hillary, in what must count as the largest single donation to an American politician in recorded history.

At this point, Trump’s startlingly white eyes squinted, he puckered his lips to sour candy status, and his nodded approval plumbed new depths of unbridled admiration.

The reference to Browder – who said after the press conference that he had not donated a penny to the Clinton campaign – was part of a marvelous compromise, according to the Russian sleeper agent living in the White House, who called it “an interesting idea” for resolving this whole investigation nonsense.

As Putin explained, Robert Mueller was totally free to question the 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted on Friday for hacking into Democratic emails – or rather, be present at their questioning. As long as Mueller interrogated Browder and company, in the presence of some novichok-wielding Russians. “We can meet you halfway,” said Putin, sounding as reasonable as Molotov and Ribbentrop surely did.

As the sick laughter died down at the CIA and FBI headquarters back home, Trump continued to swoon in a state known to counterintelligence as “No Puppet, No Puppet, You’re the Puppet”.

This is the Twilight Zone of Trump’s conspiracies, where all the disparate threads of disinformation weave together to make the patchwork quilt of crazy known as prime time on Fox News and Russia Today.

    'I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia,' Trump said, talking about the Russian president of the Russian Federation.

“My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said that it’s Russia,” Trump said, referring to his own director of national intelligence. That would be the American director of American national intelligence.

“I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump continued, talking about the Russian president of the Russian Federation.

“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server. But I have confidence in both parties. I, I really believe that this will probably go on for a while. But I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone. Just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.”

You know what else is missing? Elvis Presley at the chip shop. The X-files on Area 51. And the president’s patriotic duty, if not his brain.

It seemed so normal that this eruption was the first work-product of Trump’s new communications chief, Bill Shine, the former Fox News exec, jammed in just before no less than two Fox News interviews with those titans of journalism, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.

Why take the word of all your intelligence agencies when you have the word of Putin and Fox News to outweigh them?

Now, according to some dumb lawyers at Trump’s own justice department, Putin’s intelligence agents got to work hacking the DNC on the very same day Trump himself asked them to do so.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” said a candidate called Donald Trump. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

And the rewards were indeed truly mighty for everyone involved.

“There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it,” declared Moscow’s greatest asset. “And people are being brought out to the fore. So far that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they’re going to have to try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign.”

Don’t worry, Agent Orange. They are trying really hard.

“That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily,” he insisted.

After all, how do we know that Trump lost to Clinton by almost three million votes? How do we know there was collusion, just because he asked for some collusion in public? How do we know that two plus two is four?

Trump said he didn’t know Putin at the time. Putin said he didn’t know Trump was in the country when he never got all that kompromat. Nobody knows anything. Except that Pakistani guy, who knows everything.

“In general, we are glad with the outcome of our first full-scale meeting,” said Putin, after completing Trump’s semi-annual employment review. “I hope that we start to understand each other better.”

It’s not really possible for two leaders to understand each other any better. And so they literally embraced, warmly, radiating mutual admiration, if not polonium.

Looking at all those formerly sane Republicans sitting in the front row of the press conference – like Jon Huntsman, the ex-Utah governor now serving as Trump’s ambassador – you could only feel their pain.

As with all recent massacres, we must take a minute to sympathize with the victims here, who have lost so much: their credibility, their future careers, and their chance for a quiet dinner at the local restaurant.

At a time like this, have a heart for the Republican party that suffers this unpatriotic nonsense in silence. There’s nothing else we can do for them now. We can only send them our thoughts and prayers.


Russian state TV host pegs Trump as a Putin asset: ‘He really smells like an agent of the Kremlin’

David Edwards
Raw Story
18 Jul 2018 at 10:12 ET   

A host on Russian state TV commented this week that President Donald Trump “smells like an agent of the Kremlin.”

The remarks were made on the Russian program 60 Minutes following Trump’s summit and press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is very bizarre, you can’t bash your own country like that – especially when you’re the president,” one host noted, according to a transcript provided by Russian media analyst Julia Davis.

Co-host Olga Skabeeva added: “When Trump says our relations are bad because of American foolishness and stupidity, he really smells like an agent of the Kremlin.”

    #Russia's state TV host:
    "It is very bizarre, you can't bash your own country like that – especially when you're the President."
    Female host: "When Trump says our relations are bad because of American foolishness and stupidity, he really smells like an agent of the Kremlin." ©️ pic.twitter.com/8fRLrZbUul

    — Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) July 18, 2018

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_IEcnNeHc_bwd92Ber-lew

 on: Jul 18, 2018, 05:30 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Trump backpedals on Russian meddling remarks after outcry

Republicans and Democrats attack president’s comments in press conference with Putin
Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington
Wed 18 Jul 2018 08.26 BST

Donald Trump sought to partially reverse course on Tuesday in the face of furious, bipartisan criticism of his public undermining of US intelligence agencies during a press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

The US president sought to bring closure after more than 24 hours of bitter recrimination by saying he had simply misspoke when he said in Finland that he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 US election.

“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia,’” instead of “why it would”, Trump said. “So you can put that in,” he added.

Even then, Trump could not resist muddying the waters further. Moments after telling reporters in the Roosevelt room of the White House that he accepted the assessment of US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election, he again cast doubt on who he thought was responsible.

“Let me be totally clear in saying that … I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion,” Trump said, reading from a prepared script. He then added: “It could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.”

It was not clear why Trump, who had tweeted half a dozen times and sat for two television interviews since the Putin news conference, waited so long to correct his remarks. Moreover, his scripted cleanup pertained only to the least defensible of his comments.

He did not reverse other statements in which he gave clear credence to Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial of Russian involvement, raised doubts about his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions and advanced discredited conspiracy theories about election meddling.

He also accused past American leaders, rather than Russia’s destabilising actions in the US and around the world, for the souring of relations between two countries. And he did not address his other problematic statements during a week-long Europe tour, in which he sent the Nato alliance into emergency session and assailed the British prime minister, Theresa May, as she was hosting him for an official visit.

At one point during his remarks on Tuesday, the room was plunged into darkness when the TV lights switched off, prompting Trump to joke: “Whoops, they just turned off the lights. That must be the intelligence agencies.”

Throughout Tuesday Republicans had struggled to defend the president on Capitol Hill. The House speaker, Paul Ryan, told reporters: “They did interfere in our elections. It’s really clear. There should be no doubt about that. Russia is trying to undermine democracy itself.

“I understand the desire and the need to have good relations. That’s perfectly reasonable. But Russia is a menacing government that does not share our interests and it does not share our values.”

Even the usually reserved Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, pushed back, telling reporters: “The European countries are our friends, and the Russians are not. The Russians need to understand there are a lot of us who really understand what happened in 2016 and it really better not happen again in 2018.”

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said Trump was trying to “squirm away” from his comments alongside Putin. “It’s 24 hours too late and in the wrong place,” he said.

Concrete legal or political action, however, was conspicuous by its absence.

Asked if he agreed with the former CIA director John Brennan’s characterization of the president’s actions as “treasonous”, Ryan said: “I do not.”

In Helsinki, Trump recorded two interviews with supportive Fox News hosts. Sean Hannity’s interview went out on Monday night. In excerpts of the Tucker Carlson interview publicised by Fox before its broadcast on Tuesday night, Trump lashed out at Brennan, who led the CIA under Barack Obama.

“I think Brennan is a very bad guy and if you look at it a lot of things happened under his watch,” Trump said. “I think he’s a very bad person.”

He also said the FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, former FBI director James Comey and former deputy director Andrew McCabe, all targets of Republican fire over the Russia investigation, were “bad people, and they’re being exposed for what they are”.

Democratic leaders escalated their criticism of Trump and insisted any response from Republicans would be insufficient without an attempt to hold him accountable. Schumer said the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and other members of the national security team who travelled to Finland should testify before Congress.

“The debasement of American interests before a foreign adversary demands a response,” the New Yorker said on the Senate floor. “Our Republican colleagues cannot just go, ‘Tsk, tsk, tsk.’ They must act if they want to help America.”

Schumer’s request was denied by John Cornyn, the second-ranking Senate Republican, who said: “There have been a lot of hearings.”

Cornyn told reporters he thought new sanctions might pass, saying: “We could find common ground to turn the screws on Russia.”

McConnell said there was a “possibility” for the Senate to take up bipartisan legislation that would levy further sanctions if Russia meddled in future elections. The bill, sponsored by Marco Rubio of Florida and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, would require the implementation of penalties within 10 days if the director of national intelligence determined interference took place.

McConnell was also pressed on whether Republicans had faith in Trump’s approach to Nato and Russia. “I’m not here to critique anyone else,” he said. “I’m here to speak for myself.”

Neither Ryan nor McConnell joined calls for Congress to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference and links between Trump aides and Moscow. From the podium in Helsinki, Trump repeatedly denied collusion.

“I’ve been clear from day one,” Ryan said. “Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation and carry out his work. Nothing’s changed.”

Some Republicans did concede it was time to send a clear message to Trump. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, told reporters one appropriate course of action would be to pass legislation limiting presidential authority on trade tariffs. A measure approved last week was entirely symbolic.

“It feels like the dam is breaking,” Corker said. But when asked whether the Trump-Putin summit marked an actual turning point in US politics, he said he was “not sure”.

“Things change around here so rapidly,” Corker said. “This has become like a reality show on a daily basis.”


Republicans have decided to follow Trump off a cliff of treachery

Peter Daou

‘America First’ is now ‘Russia First’; the GOP favors a dictator over a heroic US marine. We are through the looking glass

18 Jul 2018 12.20 BST

For more than a generation, conventional wisdom has portrayed Republicans as the sole defenders of the American flag, the great stewards of patriotism, the gun-toting, tough-talking party of law and order. This myth has been pushed relentlessly on talk radio, on Fox News, and through every facet of rightwing media. It has long been presented as fact by the traditional media, putting Democrats on the defensive as they have struggled to shake ingrained perceptions that they are meek and unpatriotic.

The pervasive narrative of “strong” Republicans and “weak” Democrats helped place George W Bush in office. It painted John Kerry, a decorated veteran, as a coward. It is a narrative that has had an iron grip on political discourse since the Vietnam war. In the words of a Bush administration official, for Democrats “it’s never stopped being 1968”.

Former Obama adviser Samantha Power explains the history: “President Reagan of course did more than any other person to entrench the Republican reputation for toughness on national security. He ran his election campaign against Carter’s apparent softness, brought the Iran hostages home upon taking over the White House, nearly doubled the US military budget, invaded tiny Grenada, and staged covert operations throughout Latin America and beyond.”

    The treasonous and unpatriotic behavior of the Republican party is an ugly stain on the US and a dangerous realignment of the world order

Power writes that “national security is the one matter about which Republicans have maintained what political scientists call ‘issue ownership’.”

That is, until Donald Trump came along. With his unshakable fealty to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and the GOP’s wholesale surrender to Russia’s 2016 cyber-invasion, Trump and his enablers are single-handedly shattering the myth that Republicans have a monopoly on patriotism. If anything, Republican politicians are showing a traitorous streak that has shocked even the most level-headed of political observers.

Reacting to Trump’s stupefying defense of Putin at the Helsinki summit, former presidential adviser David Gergen ‏tweeted: “The fact that Trump chose a thug over the American people and his own officials captures just how unpresidential and unpatriotic he is. Never have I seen a president so badly betray his own country on the world stage.”

Columnist Ruth Marcus laid down the gauntlet:‏ “Everyone who works for Trump: quit now. Save your souls. Save your honor. Save your reputation. Russia attacked our democracy. He doesn’t care, won’t defend our country.”

Former CIA director John Brennan was the bluntest of all: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors’. It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Brennan’s question has no good answers. The Republican party’s cravenness appears to be bottomless. Republicans have decided to follow Trump off a cliff of treachery. Aside from the tepid protestations of a few GOP lawmakers – none of which will be backed up with actual votes or actions – Trump has been given free rein to trash the FBI and US intelligence agencies while staunchly defending a dictator who ordered a brazen assault on America’s free elections.

    Trump has been given free rein to trash the FBI and US intelligence agencies while staunchly defending a dictator who ordered a brazen assault on America’s free elections

There are no defections, no resignations, no principled stands from White House officials. The “MAGA” crowd deflects all criticism by assailing Hillary Clinton (“But Hillary …” is their reflexive argument for every Trump transgression). Republicans are willingly pushing Russia’s line, and if that means smearing America’s law enforcement and intel community in the process, so be it. It doesn’t get more unpatriotic.

This is a watershed moment, a chilling one. A Republican president and his sycophantic congressional enablers are selling out their nation to a hostile foreign power and convincing GOP voters to slander those who put their lives on the line to defend it. “America First” has morphed into “Russia First”. Putin’s approval rating is rising among Republicans, Robert Mueller’s is falling. The Russian dictator is favored over the heroic marine. People who have the nerve to call themselves patriots, to wrap themselves in the flag and claim that liberals hate America, are embracing the foe that launched a cyber-assault on American democracy.

The treasonous and unpatriotic behavior of the Republican party is an ugly stain on the US and a dangerous realignment of the world order. It is a conscious and direct insult to every American who has served and sacrificed for their country. A profoundly shameful betrayal.

    Peter Daou is a former digital media adviser to Hillary Clinton and John Kerry


This sad, embarrassing wreck of a man

George Will
WA Post

After his Helsinki comments, President Trump said he accepts U.S intelligence findings on Russia's election interference, but it "could be other people also." (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
by George F. Will Opinion writer July 17 at 2:57 PM Email the author

America’s child president had a play date with a KGB alumnus, who surely enjoyed providing day care. It was a useful, because illuminating, event: Now we shall see how many Republicans retain a capacity for embarrassment.

Jeane Kirkpatrick, a Democrat closely associated with such Democratic national security stalwarts as former senator Henry Jackson and former senator and former vice president Hubert Humphrey, was President Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations. In her speech at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, she explained her disaffection from her party: “They always blame America first.” In Helsinki, the president who bandies the phrase “America First” put himself first, as always, and America last, behind President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Because the Democrats had just held their convention in San Francisco, Kirkpatrick branded the “blame America first” cohort as “San Francisco Democrats.” Thirty-four years on, how numerous are the “Helsinki Republicans”?

What, precisely, did President Trump say about the diametrically opposed statements by U.S. intelligence agencies (and the Senate Intelligence Committee) and by Putin concerning Russia and the 2016 U.S. elections? Precision is not part of Trump’s repertoire: He speaks English as though it is a second language that he learned from someone who learned English last week. So, it is usually difficult to sift meanings from Trump’s word salads. But in Helsinki he was, for him, crystal clear about feeling no allegiance to the intelligence institutions that work at his direction and under leaders he chose.

Speaking of Republicans incapable of blushing — those with the peculiar strength that comes from being incapable of embarrassment — consider Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), who for years enjoyed derivative gravitas from his association with Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). Graham tweeted about Helsinki: “Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.” A “missed opportunity” by a man who had not acknowledged the meddling?

Contrast Graham’s mush with this on Monday from McCain, still vinegary: “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Or this from Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake (R): “I never thought I would see the day when our American president would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression.” Blame America only.

President Trump's news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin was a disastrous capitulation, says Democracy Post editor Christian Caryl. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and others might believe that they must stay in their positions lest there be no adult supervision of the Oval playpen. This is a serious worry, but so is this: Can those people do their jobs for someone who has neither respect nor loyalty for them?

Like the purloined letter in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story with that title, collusion with Russia is hiding in plain sight. We shall learn from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation whether in 2016 there was collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign. The world, however, saw in Helsinki something more grave — ongoing collusion between Trump, now in power, and Russia. The collusion is in what Trump says (refusing to back the United States’ intelligence agencies) and in what evidently went unsaid (such as: You ought to stop disrupting Ukraine, downing civilian airliners, attempting to assassinate people abroad using poisons, and so on, and on).

Americans elected a president who — this is a safe surmise — knew that he had more to fear from making his tax returns public than from keeping them secret. The most innocent inference is that for decades he has depended on an American weakness, susceptibility to the tacky charisma of wealth, which would evaporate when his tax returns revealed that he has always lied about his wealth, too. A more ominous explanation might be that his redundantly demonstrated incompetence as a businessman tumbled him into unsavory financial dependencies on Russians. A still more sinister explanation might be that the Russians have something else, something worse, to keep him compliant.

The explanation is in doubt; what needs to be explained — his compliance — is not. Granted, Trump has a weak man’s banal fascination with strong men whose disdain for him is evidently unimaginable to him. And, yes, he only perfunctorily pretends to have priorities beyond personal aggrandizement. But just as astronomers inferred, from anomalies in the orbits of the planet Uranus, the existence of Neptune before actually seeing it, Mueller might infer, and then find, still-hidden sources of the behavior of this sad, embarrassing wreck of a man.


Lieutenant colonel calls BS on everything from Trump’s patriotism to him denying Russian prostitutes

Dominique Jackson
Raw Story
17 Jul 2018 at 19:15 ET                  

On Tuesday Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (US Army, ret.) said President Donald Trump is a “slave to Putin” during an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber.

Peters is a former Fox News military analyst, who left the network due to their coverage of Trump.

During Trump’s two-hour closed-door meeting with Putin, Peters speculated that anything could have happened. He slammed the president, saying he is the perfect target for Russian intelligence because of his close relationship with Putin.

“From what you know of the Donald Trump’s character, can you believe that at midnight two stunningly gorgeous Russian hookers showed up to his door and said ‘we are a gift from your friend,’ that Donald Trump would have said, ‘young lady go home to your mothers and I shall pray for you?’ I mean, this is a man who is a perfect target for Russian intelligence. He has a sense of sexual entitlement, and no self-restraint whatsoever.”

Peters said President Trump betrayed America after he failed to condemn Putin on the world stage.

“He’s got those tangled financial dealings, and by the way, Putin, once again said ‘we don’t spy on everybody’. We don’t have the manpower. Yes, they do,”  Peters said.

“They do spy on everybody. If you went to Moscow or St. Petersburg, if you are a businessman or official, you are being spied upon,” Peters said. “You are filmed in your bathroom or hotel, everything you did is recorded. By golly, Trump was the perfect target. So to make a very long story short, I believe that President Trump has and is actively betraying our country.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxcmt4vUVmo


Trump’s behavior is not surprising — he is a Russian stooge

The Conversation
17 Jul 2018 at 12:00 ET                  

There were at least six topics that Donald Trump could have forcefully raised with Russia’s Vladimir Putin at Monday’s so-called summit in Helsinki, Finland. Any other president would have.

First was Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Second was Russia’s presence in Syria.

Third was the unlawful Russian annexation of Crimea.

Fourth was Russia’s intrusion into eastern Ukraine.

Fifth was Russia’s continued and ominous expressions of “concern” for Russian speakers in the Baltic states, particularly Latvia and Estonia, that echo some of the rhetoric prior to Putin’s actions in Ukraine.

Sixth was Russia’s possible help to North Korea given Putin, after all, was reportedly the one who suggested Trump scrap joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises.

But it’s the first lost opportunity that was most astonishing. Trump didn’t criticize the Russians. Instead, he backed Putin’s laughable denials that Russia had meddled in American politics, sneering at U.S. intelligence and justice officials who beg to differ.

Trump was given plenty of ammunition to confront Putin by the remarkable set of indictments issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller last week in his ongoing investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

The indictments contain such detailed information that they, in effect, sent a message to the Kremlin and its military intelligence branch, the GRU, all but declaring: “We know who you are and where you live.”

‘A powerful tool’

In the hands of a legitimate president, the indictments would have been a powerful tool at such a summit. Trump’s refusal to accept the information, and likely any additional information, from his own intelligence community in order to stand beside Putin and deny Russian involvement has sent the world into shock.

But not yours truly.

As an expert in U.S.-Russia relations who advised the Bill Clinton White House, I believe that what Trump did is perfectly understandable if you believe, as I have argued recently, that he’s a Russian stooge.

Mounting evidence suggests his campaign was helped by Russia. Several key figures associated with him are being investigated; some of the accused are behind bars already. Russia very likely has compromising material on him. Most importantly, Trump, a man of utter venality, has been supported by Russian money for years — the only question is how much.

Trump is also a man whose brain apparently has a disconnect.

How else can one explain him giving a recorded interview that demeaned British Prime Minister Theresa May, his hostess the following day, and then claiming it was fake news (a Russian concept)? This is not stupidity. This is brain malfunction.

So what could one have reasonably expected from Trump? After all, he sought a one-on-one with Putin, probably to seek approval for stooge duties well done, and more money — perhaps even a Trump Tower Moscow!

His interpreter is to be debriefed, so we may learn the details. I would not be surprised if the Russians recorded the exchange and release it to embarrass Trump, just as they released the transcripts and footage of his meeting with high-ranking Russian officials the day after he fired FBI director James Comey.

Mixed emotions

They clearly have conflicted feelings about their probable stooge, perhaps preferring to see him replaced with someone a little more stable and effective.

I also expect to hear more damage, more abject abasement on the other points that I listed.

I confess that while I am not shocked, I am surprised at the magnitude of the event. In a presidency marked by a near daily barrage of the ugly and incompetent, Monday’s summit may be one fiasco too far.

Even many of the Republicans in Congress seem to sense that Trump has entered a realm where they themselves wish not to go. The former CIA director John Brennan has called Trump’s actions at this summit treasonous.

Treason is defined as aiding the enemy. Will aiding the adversary suffice? I would say yes. It’s a fitting label for an atrocious act. No one, even anyone in his “base,” can deny that he is failing to live up to his oath of office.

What to do?

The cabinet can invoke the 25th amendment and remove him by declaring him unfit for office — not a hard case to make.

The Republicans in the House of Representatives could screw up their nerve and draw up articles of impeachment to pass on to the Senate for a trial.

We could all wait until November, hoping that the Russians will not corrupt that round of voting and pray that a Democratic Congress will do what the GOP should have done a year ago.

Perhaps the military will give Trump a parade and remove him. After all, extraordinary violations of norms call for extraordinary remedies.

The ConversationThen again, when he fully absorbs the outcry, Trump will likely just utter two dismissive words: “Fake news.”

By John Colarusso, Professor of Languages and Linguistics and Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, McMaster University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Congressman reveals GOP members refused to allow Dems to question Russian ‘spy’ Maria Butina and 30 other witnesses

Sarah K. Burris
Raw Story
17 Jul 2018 at 22:58 ET  

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) revealed Tuesday that Republicans shut down any demands by Democrats to question Maria Butina, who was just indicted by the special counsel’s investigation Tuesday. But Butina was one of about 30 witnesses that Democrats sought out that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and other Republicans on the Intelligence Committee denied. The investigation has since been closed by Nunes.

“Let me tell you, she was high on our list on the Democratic side to, interview on the House Select Committee Intelligence investigation,” Quigley said, in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon.

“Really?” Lemon replied, shocked.

“The Republicans refused to allow her to come testify,” Quigley continued. “They refused multiple — I would say there’s probably 30 other key witnesses like her that they refused to bring before the committee.”

Lemon asked why and Quigley said that he believes it’s likely for the same reason that the investigation was shut down entirely.

“They didn’t like where it was going,” Quigley continued. “Thank God the [Robert] Mueller investigation continues so the American public can get a glimmer, through the indictments last week and this indictment today, of just what took place. It is a path towards the White House.”

He went on that there seemed to be more communications and more ties from Russia to U.S. politics, but it didn’t matter to the Republicans on the committee.

“The fact that we were shut down, they refused to allow subpoenas to go forward involving the gun rights group she formed in Russia and its connection to the NRA — the fact that there were so many other documents they refused subpoena,” he continued. “They refused to subpoena anyone and make them answer questions. They went along with the White House insisting no one have to answer our questions. That sounds like they wanted to work with the White House to protect it politically and legally not get to it the truth.”

Watch his full commentary:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6p7a1x


Ex-Republican James Comey urges Americans to vote Democrat to save the country

Sarah K. Burris
Raw Story
17 Jul 2018 at 22:36 ET                  

Former FBI Director James Comey was once a registered Republican, but after the attacks from his own party members and President Donald Trump, Comey revealed he changed. Now he’s urging a vote against the GOP.

“This Republican Congress has proven incapable of fulfilling the Founders’ design that ‘Ambition must … counteract ambition,'” Comey quoted on Twitter Tuesday. “All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.”

    This Republican Congress has proven incapable of fulfilling the Founders’ design that “Ambition must … counteract ambition.” All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.

    — James Comey (@Comey) July 18, 2018

 on: Jul 18, 2018, 05:05 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Parents of MH17 victims lash out at 'bully' Trump: 'You have no idea what love is'

US president condemned for ignoring ‘irrefutable facts’ and refusing to hold Putin to account

Australian Associated Press
18 Jul 2018 22.51 BST

The Perth parents of three children who died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine have condemned the US president Donald Trump for his refusal to hold the Russian president Vladimir Putin to account over the tragedy.

In a scathing post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, Anthony Maslin challenged Trump on the “irrefutable facts” surrounding the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines plane by a Russian missile in 2014. His partner Rin Norris described both leaders as “bullies”.

Their children Mo, Evie and Otis and Norris’s father died when the plane went down, killing 298 people, including 38 Australians.

“Mr Trump, you invented and speak a lot about ‘fake news’. But let’s try talking about something that’s not fake ... let’s call them irrefutable facts,” Maslin said in his post.

“That passenger flight MH17 was shot out of the sky and 298 innocent people were murdered is an irrefutable fact.

“That the plane was hit by a Russian missile has been proven to be an irrefutable fact.

“That this killed our 3 beautiful children and their grandfather, and destroyed our life and many other lives in the process, is an irrefutable fact.

    You have no empathy for your fellow man, and you clearly have no idea what love is. So you have nothing
    Anthony Maslin

“That the man whose arse you’ve just been kissing did this, and continues to lie about it, is an irrefutable fact.

“It’s not anger that I feel towards the two of you, its something much, much worse. It’s pity.

“You have no empathy for your fellow man, and you clearly have no idea what love is. So you have nothing.”

Norris spoke of “the shattering and wrenching apart” of her life, her family and her soul since the incident.

“As a couple of bullies try to out-bully each other ... I write ...

“I’ll write of the visible and the invisible – the bruise coloured flower of mother-love – I’ll write of being broken and putting the pieces of myself back together again – and resilience – and strength.”

Norris wrote she is still “rendered immobile by loss and horror” when she remembers experiences from the past and relives the trauma.

“The trauma of a loss so cataclysmic that it singled us out of all Australians, and made us different.”

The foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said Australia would continue to seek justice for the MH17 victims.
An Australian flag blows in the breeze over the thousands of floral tributes at the entrance to Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands in July 2014.

She plans to raise the issue next week when she meets with the UK’s new foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

“Australia values the UK’s strong support, including in the UN security council, in calling on Russia to answer for its actions in relation to the tragedy,” she said this week.

“Holding Russia responsible for its role in the downing of MH17 is vital.”

The flight was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainians brought it down near Donetsk on 17 July 2014, using Russian weaponry.

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