Earnest said the “disclosures by Edward Snowden were far more serious and far more dangerous” than those of Manning
mcclatchydc.com – JANUARY 18, 2017
Obama’s actions also raise questions about the future of Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency whose unauthorized revelations in 2013 showed vast surveillance by the U.S. intelligence apparatus, some of it on trusted leaders of allied nations. Snowden’s leaks also underscored how the NSA swept up telephone records within the United States in apparent violation of U.S. law. Snowden is in asylum in Moscow.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted recently the “stark differences” between Manning and Snowden, whose supporters who have been pushing for clemency.
“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” Earnest said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”
“So I think the situation of these two individuals is quite different. I can’t speculate at this point about to what degree that will have an impact on the President’s consideration of clemency requests. But I know that there’s a temptation because the crimes were relatively similar to lump the two cases together. But there are some important differences, including the scale of the crimes that were committed and the consequences of their crimes.”
Earnest said the “disclosures by Edward Snowden were far more serious and far more dangerous” than those of Manning.
Supporters hailed the commutation as an act of humanity.
BY JAY YAROW
In an epic final speech, Joe Biden warns that the progressive democratic world order is at risk of collapse
Vice President Joe Biden delivered an epic final speech Wednesday to the elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The gist of his speech was simple: At a time of “uncertainty” we must double down on the values that made Western democracies great, and not allow the “liberal world order” to be torn apart by destructive forces.
Biden went after Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, saying he is using “every tool” in his power to whittle away the European project, and undermine Western democracies. Biden accused Putin of wanting to “roll back decades of progress.”
Biden said Russia used “cyber aggression” to meddle in the U.S. election, an assertion supported by 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. He also warned that we will see further interference from Russia in the future and said the “purpose is clear” — that Putin wants to see a “collapse of the international order.”
“Simply put, Putin has a different vision of the future,” the vice president warned.
At the outset of his speech, Biden implored the media to not hear his speech as a shot at President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Friday. And, while what Biden said applies broadly to leaders in Europe, as well as the United States, there is no mistaking that his comments were a rebuttal to Trump’s friendly statements about the Russian president.
At a time when Trump and his advisors are talking about shaking up NATO, Biden said, we must “support our NATO allies. An attack on one is an attack on all. That can never be placed in question.”
Biden also warned that unlike Trump’s call for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, it’s not the time to build walls and live in fear.
Biden implored world leaders to work together to protect democracy from encroachments by Russia, Iran and others. Yet, Trump’s world view is “America First,” which runs counter to Biden’s view.
Biden didn’t merely urge the world leaders at Davos to maintain the status quo. He warned that the reason for the pressure on the democratic order is the rise in income inequality and the hollowing out of the middle class, as the rich get richer and people in developing nations see their lives gradually improve.
He said the top 1 percent is not paying their fair share, and as a result we are seeing social instability increase.
“We need to tap into the big heartedness,” Biden said. “This is a moment to lead boldly.”
“I don’t know Mr. Trump personally, I have never met him and don’t know what he will do on the international arena. So I have no grounds to attack him or criticize him for anything, or protect him or whatever,” Putin said.
Despite the fact that elections in the US are over and ended with a “solid win“ for the Republican candidate, an intense political struggle continues in the US, the Russian president observed, adding that there are certain forces that aim “to undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect.”
“I have an impression they practiced in Kiev and are ready to organize a Maidan in Washington, just to not let Trump take office,” Putin said, apparently referring to anti-government protests in the Ukrainian capital in 2014, which resulted in the leadership being ousted.
Those anti-Trump forces in the US also want to “bind hand and foot” the newly-elected leader, Putin added. He said that in this way, they aim to interfere with the domestic and international policies outlined in Trump’s presidential campaign.
By doing so, these forces “severely harm US interests,” Putin said.
The campaign to discredit the president-elect shows that certain “political elites in the West, including in the US,” have “significantly” worsened, according to the Russian president.
“Prostitution is an ugly social phenomenon,” he told reporters, adding that people who stand behind “fabrications” being used against Trump “are worse than prostitutes.”
“They have no moral scruples,” he said.
The Russian leader also called the allegations that Moscow might have blackmail material on the US president-elect “evidently fake.”
“When Trump visited Moscow several years ago, he wasn’t a political figure. We didn’t even know about his political ambitions, he was just a businessman, one of America’s richest people. So does someone think that our intelligence services go after each American billionaire? Of course not, it’s complete rubbish,” Putin said.
Commenting on reports spread in the Western media accusing Trump of frolicking with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel, the Russian president said he doubted that a man who had been organizing beauty pageants for years and had met “some of the most beautiful women of the world” would hire call girls in the Russian capital.
Last week, a report on what was claimed to be a secret dossier, reportedly compiled by former UK intelligence officer Christopher Steele, was published by CNN and BuzzFeed. It alleged that Trump was groomed and supported by Russian intelligence and that the Kremlin was in possession of compromising material on the president-elect.
The dossier reportedly contained a bizarre story of Trump allegedly hiring prostitutes to “perform a ‘golden showers’ show in front of him” on a hotel bed in the Ritz Carlton presidential suite in the Russian capital, where Barack Obama and his wife had previously stayed.
The US president-elect, who will be inaugurated on January 20, has branded the dossier a “complete fraud,” saying that intelligence insiders have confirmed to him that the allegations were fake.
The weapons are intended for opposition forces closing in on IS’s self-proclaimed capital Raqqa in Syria, USA Today reports.
The “expanded” airdrops are “helping ground forces take the offensive to [the Islamic State] and efforts to retake Raqqa,” Gen. Carlton Everhart, commander of the US Air Mobility Command, is quoted by the news outlet.
Currently, the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) – an alliance of various militias, mainly formed by Kurdish fighters – is continuing its push to retake territories around Raqqa. SDF is among key opposition forces being backed by the US-led international coalition in Syria.
The weapons supplies “are absolutely essential” for the irregular forces fighting on the ground, the US Air Force spokesman in Baghdad Col. John Dorrian claimed, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, Everhart reportedly claimed that the US military is being extremely precise while delivering arms and equipment to the opposition in Syria. “We’ll get it within 10 or 15 meters of the mark,” he said.
The US-led coalition has been repeatedly conducting military airdrops for the opposition groups in Syria. However, such missions have not always gone according to plan.
Back in October 2014, a weapons airdrop by the US Air Force apparently ended up in the hands of IS terrorists, who released a video claiming to have seized the cache of arms. The weapons had been intened for the Kurdish forces battling jihadists who were besieging the Syrian town of Kobane at the time.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren later said that two bundles of weapons have been lost. While one of them was destroyed by an air strike, another “went astray and probably fell into enemy hands.”
“There is always going to be some margin of error in these types of operations,” Warren added.
In December last year, US President Barack Obama granted a waiver for some of the restrictions on the delivery of military aid to “foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals,” if those groups are supporting the US’s alleged counter-terrorism efforts in Syria.
Reacting to the decision, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the move could result in some of the weapons getting into the hands of terrorists.
Such an occurence would pose “a serious threat not only for the region, but the entire world,” he warned.
On December 9, 2016 US Democratic lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act bill. She alleged that the CIA in fact supplied arms to the opposition, some of whom cooperated with terrorists including al-Qaeda. “This madness must end,” she urged.
BY RICK WELLS
With Chinese President Xi Jinping set to headline the attendees as a speaker on opening day of this year’s Davos globalist confab, those handling his messaging and his calendar indicated that channels of communication were open and that there was the possibility of a meeting between China’s staff members and those of President-elect Trump.
That information was a little surprising, since Mr. Trump has been a ferocious opponent of the globalism that underpins this conference and which these people advocate. Taking that public statement at face value, we took the position that if Mr. Trump’s team would also be in attendance there must be a good reason, and that they would be “undoubtedly acting in a manner that is consistent with the priorities he identified throughout the campaign and with his actions since the election.” We added, “There is no reason to believe that they see this as anything other than an opportunity to act on behalf of the American people’s interests.” We were right.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks clarified his position in a statement to Bloomberg, saying. “No one will be attending.” A senior Trump official (likely Hicks) elaborated under the condition of speaking anonymously, indicating Mr. Trump was aware of the mixed message it would send and the possible appearance of a deviation and betrayal of his anti-globalism stance.
Globalists are facing a wave of backlash across the world from people who are rebelling against their manipulations, destroying nations and their economies, targeting the world’s populations for their own financial exploitation and power consolidation. How to best protect and continue with the globalist scorched earth policies will be a major topic of discussion. They’re concerned with adapting to and circumventing the rising populist rebellion against them. They’re not looking to abandon their schemes but to find work-arounds in order to continue despite being rejected by those they seek to control.
A recent study by the World Economic Forum determined that weak economic recovery following the “global financial crisis” has widened the gap between rich and poor and fueled a sense of “economic malaise” which spawned the rise of populist parties, at least that’s their story. The so-called global financial crisis was created as a mean of siphoning off cash from rich countries, the US in particular, to create desperation and to control our populations. The supposed response was never intended to do anything other than transfer wealth from the middle and lower classes to the elites. They didn’t need a study to tell them what they already knew and what they had themselves engineered, just to provide an excuse to the public and to deflect responsibility elsewhere.
China’s Xi Jinping is set to become the first Chinese president to attend the forum, bringing with him a contingent of China’s wealthiest executives – deals benefiting the elites will be made but they won’t have Donald Trump’s name on them. China will be open for business as usual while the put America first administration is being put into place. The forum extending through inauguration day, January 20th.
Trump’s victory, Brexit vote and rising European populism threaten the march of globalization
BY STEPHEN FIDLER
This year is different. As the world’s financial, corporate and political elites gather this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, the global economic order is teetering. The question is whether it can be rescued.
In 2016, history began another chapter. Donald Trump’s U.S. election victory and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union reversed a march toward ever-closer global economic integration under way since the end of World War II.
Across continental Europe, antiestablishment political movements have gained ground, fostered by an anemic recovery from the eurozone’s debt crisis that kept wages stagnant and unemployment high in many countries. Their influence could grow further with elections this year in France, Germany, the Netherlands and possibly Italy.
Many hail these developments as a sign of once-disenfranchised people retaking control of their destinies. Others, including those of the global elite gathering this week in Davos, fret that these and other developments risk unraveling international connections that have produced unprecedented wealth.
At the heart of the shift is a fundamental paradox of the postwar global economy: Free trade, greater interconnectedness and rapid technological change have lifted billions of people out of poverty and created a burgeoning middle class in the developing world.
Wealthy countries have grown richer, too. But the benefits have gone disproportionately to a minority, leaving many people feeling left behind or alienated. Globalization—characterized by free flows of goods and capital and national acceptance of international norms—has been good at creating wealth but less successful at maximizing people’s welfare.
Some historians who have studied past periods of globalization question whether the modern version can limp on.
“My hunch is that we are not going to muddle through,” said Harold James, a professor at Princeton University.
Breakdowns in past phases of globalization, such as the one that preceded World War I, “were characterized by eruptions of unexpected sudden crises that highlight new fault lines,” he said. “The world is terribly vulnerable now” to events like last year’s assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey that can escalate out of control.
In terms of overall well-being, the global economy has been doing something right. A World Bank report published in October showed the number of people living in poverty fell to 10.7% of the world’s population in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available, from 35% in 1990, even as the world’s population expanded by almost two billion people.
Yet, inside many of the world’s richer countries, something has gone wrong. Since the 2008 financial crash, economic insecurity in many Western countries has increased and income and wealth disparities have widened.
Technological change is in part responsible for widening income and wealth gaps, benefiting high-skilled, better-educated individuals. The winners appear to be concentrated in globalized urban centers, leaving many struggling in rural areas or smaller cities.
A study by the Resolution Foundation, a British think tank, suggested some important parallels between Brexit and the Trump victory. Poorer areas in the U.S. swung to Mr. Trump, compared with 2012. In Britain, less-affluent parts of the country were more likely to vote for Brexit.
Areas with larger numbers of older voters swung to Mr. Trump and were more likely to vote for Brexit. The single-most-important variable was education: The less educated were more likely to vote for Mr. Trump and Brexit.
There are similar patterns elsewhere in Europe. Older, less-educated voters tend to be more worried about immigration and support for antiglobalization parties is strong in many postindustrial regions. A Pew Research Center survey last year concluded, “Older Europeans tend to be more inward looking than younger ones.” The average age of European voters is increasing, too.
Growing inequalities have manifested themselves in different ways across economies. In the U.S., unemployment is low and average wages have risen since the crash—but labor-force participation is at almost 40-year lows, suggesting many adults have given up on looking for work.
In the U.K., unemployment is low and labor-force participation rates high, but real wages have declined by 10% since the crash, as severely as in debt-torn Greece. Across much of continental Europe, unemployment rates remain stubbornly high.
These developments, combined with anxieties about immigration and terrorism, have encouraged a backlash against mainstream politicians and associated elites.
Fanning the trend, Western officials say, is Moscow. Donald Tusk, who presides over meetings of EU leaders, said in October that Russia sought to weaken the EU by, among other things, “disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, interference into the political processes in the EU and beyond, hybrid tools in the Balkans.” In an unprecedented assessment, U.S. intelligence agencies say Moscow also interfered in the U.S. election in an effort to help Mr. Trump.
The beneficiaries have been political movements or individuals that combine an appeal to cultural identity, often using anti-immigrant or xenophobic rhetoric, with an antiestablishment narrative.
Despite their nationalist stances, these groups often support one another. UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who regularly appears at events with other European antiestablishment politicians, was the first foreign politician to meet with Mr. Trump after his election. Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who says policies of globalism have hit poorer Americans, has described himself as “an economic nationalist” who has “admired nationalist movements across the world.”
Assertive nationalism is often mixed with economic policies picked from left or right or both. It has variants, Prof. James says, in the Anglo-Saxon world, in southern Europe where it tends to be more left wing, and in Eastern Europe.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump promised tax cuts, usually associated with the right, and made pledges usually associated with the left to protect social-welfare payments and clamp down on international trade he sees as disadvantaging Americans.
Mainstream economists disagree on a lot of things, but most of them agree that raising barriers to trade, a path countries including the U.S. adopted in the early 1930s, is bad for growth. Without growth, political decisions about distribution of national income become more fraught.
For many economists, the solutions proposed by populist groups are thus likely to be worse—and possibly much worse—than the problems they purport to solve.
Globalization has also needed a sponsor. Britain played that role through much of the 19th century and the U.S. into the current era. But now, the U.S. seems to be turning inward, even though it has largely set and policed the rules of the international game. That has left a vacuum in the Middle East into which others, notably Russia, have stepped.
Russia has long railed against U.S. leadership, but though a powerful geopolitical player that can destabilize its neighbors, it has no economic heft. On current trends, the EU looks more likely to crumble—or at least to shrink—than take over the mantle of the global economy.
The only other possible replacement is China. In the financial crisis, people looked to China to stabilize the global economy, which it helped to do. In a significant gesture, as America occupies itself with its presidential inauguration, Xi Jinping is due to become the first Chinese leader to attend the Davos forum and lay out China’s vision of the globalized world.
Yet China’s readiness for the leadership role is in question, even in the unlikely circumstance that others, like Mr. Trump, were ready to let it happen. A world of even greater uncertainty beckons.