BIDEN BREAKDOWN: WORLD ORDER AT RISK OF COLLAPSE!

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-9-30-33-am

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.”

See also: Biden to Davos: The 1% needs to pay up or else…

‘Worse than prostitutes’: Putin slams those behind Trump ‘leak’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has no grounds to attack or protect US President-elect Donald Trump, since he does not know him personally. He added though that those behind the recent allegations against Trump have “no moral scruples.”
*

“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.

READ MORE: US anti-Russia sanctions failed, united Russians around President Putin – Trump’s advisor

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.

READ MORE: Theresa May says Trump dossier spy Christopher Steele ‘hasn’t worked for UK for years’

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.

US sends 10 Guantanamo Bay detainees to Oman

Oman has announced it’s accepting 10 Guantanamo detainees, just days before President Obama leaves office. The men were on the list of those approved from transfer.

*

A concise announcement from the Omani News Agency in Muscat said Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has agreed to take in the men “in consideration to their humanitarian situation.” It described their status there as being in “temporary residence.”

There was no immediate word from the US Defense Department about the transfer.

The Miami Herald reported Oman as “the largest Guantanamo resettlement nation” with the sultanate accepting 20 captives in three transfers “of 10, four and six men in January 2016 and in 2015.”

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-19-16-pm

The men had previously been approved for transfer but remained in limbo because they came from Yemen, which is considered unstable, since the country has been in a state of political crisis since 2011, coupled with an ongoing Saudi-led military assault.

During his election campaign, outgoing US President Barack Obama promised to close the controversial military prison, arguing it served as a recruiting tool for Islamic State. There were 242 prisoners at the site when he took office. After Monday’s announcement there are 45 remaining. As Obama tried to meet his campaign promise, he was met with strong opposition from Congressional lawmakers worried that downsizing the facility and housing detainees in US state prisons would make it targets for reprisals.

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-21-42-pm

In November 2015, Congress issued a ban on transferring detainees to US soil for any reason, including trial.

The US opened the prison at the US naval base in Cuba to hold “militants” suspected of ties to al-Qaeda and Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. Most were never charged with a crime, but their indefinite detention, sometimes as long as 14 years, and their mistreatment triggered international criticism.

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-23-15-pm

US officials said 19 of the remaining 55 prisoners at the military prison were cleared for release and could be freed in the final days of Obama’s presidency, AP reported.
A September report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said 122 of the 693 detainees transferred out of the prison, or 17.6 percent returned to fighting.

Most of the 693 detainees held at Guantanamo were transferred under the Bush administration. Of Bush’s transfers, 21 percent were confirmed to have re-engaged in military activities. Only 9 of the 161 detainees transferred by Obama, or 6 percent, have resumed fighting, according to AP.

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-24-18-pm

The majority of Guantanamo prisoners have been sent to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted two weeks ago for a cessation in transfers, a request the Obama White House rejected, arguing “these are extremely dangerous people.”

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-25-47-pm

During his campaign, Trump said not only does he want to keep the military prison open, but also “load it up with some bad dudes.”

Global Elite Face World of Uncertainty…

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.

Protesters held signs opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership during a rally on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Lima, Peru, on Nov. 18.

Protesters held signs opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership during a rally on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Lima, Peru, on Nov. 18.PHOTO: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

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.

US Marines land in Norway, signaling departure from post-WW2 commitment to Russia

Almost 300 US Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, arrived in Norway on Monday. The deployment signals a departure from the NATO member’s decades-old policy of not hosting foreign troops on its soil.

*

The agreement for stationing the American troops will last for at least a year. The contingent that has come this week will be rotated in six months. The Marines will be hosted at the Vaernes base of the Norwegian Home Guards near Trondheim, Norway’s third-largest city.

The stated goal of the mission is to train the US troops in Arctic warfare.

*

“For the first four weeks they will have basic winter training, learn how to cope with skis and to survive in the Arctic environment,” said Rune Haarstad, a Home Guard spokesman, as cited by Reuters. “It has nothing to do with Russia or the current situation.”

In March, the Marines will take part in the Joint Viking exercises, which will also include British troops, he added.

Both Norway and the US deny the notion that the deployment is meant to irk Russia as part of NATO’s wider campaign to oppose what it calls “Russian aggression” in Europe, by sending additional troops and weapons closer to the Russian border.

A founding member of the alliance, Norway pledged not to host foreign forces to allay Moscow’s concerns that it could serve as a platform for a surprise attack. For decades the Scandinavian country stashed massive stockpiles of weapons in preparation for a possible conflict, but only allowed in other allies’ troops for training purposes.

Oslo dismisses the notion that the deployment goes against the old commitment, saying that American troops would be rotated rather than stationed permanently. NATO routinely applies the same reasoning to all its deployments in Eastern Europe as a way to circumvent the alliance’s agreement with Russia, which bans permanent deployments of “significant” forces near Russia.

*

The US Marine Corps touted the practical benefits of a full-time deployment as the reason for the move.

“We’ve been going to Norway for 25 years. So I don’t really know what the hype is about,” Maj. Gen. Niel Nelson, commander of Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, told Military.com ahead of the deployment. “We’re just doing our job, from a more economical standpoint. I don’t put a lot of stock in people pointing back and forth.”

“By putting Marines in Norway and above the Arctic Circle for 30-60 days at a time, that’s a whole different environment,” Nelson added. “You not only learn to survive, you are surviving. It’s a harsh environment; it takes a lot of tough lessons and we reinforce that by the length of time.”

When the rotational deployment of US Marines in Norway was confirmed last year, Russia said it was puzzled by it.

“Taking into account multiple statements of Norwegian officials about the absence of threat from Russia to Norway, we would like to understand for what purposes is Norway so willing to increase its military potential, in particular through the stationing of American forces in Vaernes?” the Russian embassy said at the time.

Norway and Russia share a small land border far in the north. The Vaernes base is located 1,500km from any part of Russia, but the Arctic training program involves traveling closer to it.

Gross: Madonna Shares Politically Driven Pubic Hair Photo—Twitter Reacts

capture

Warning: The image at the end of this article contains partial nudity.

Madonna posted one of her strangest Instagram photos to date on Thursday night—a picture of an unidentified woman with the Nike “swoosh” logo shaved into her pubic hair.

The photo was meant to raise awareness for the scheduled Women’s March on the Capitol to protest the inauguration of President-elect Trump. Thousands of women are expected to participate in the protest.

While Madonna has been extremely vocal about President-elect Trump, some on Twitter began to poke fun at Madonna’s lack of influence when it comes to politics.

capture

Others, like Piers Morgan, ‘threw up’ their breakfast after viewing the picture.

capture

Whether or not it was actually Madonna in the picture, it certainly raised some awareness on social media.

capture

Below is the now famous picture. Please view at your own discretion.

Trump blasts ‘sleazebag operatives’ for ‘Russian dossier’ release, pledges hacking report in 90 days

The US president-elect has accused unnamed ‘sleazebag political operatives’ in both parties for publishing a dubious dossier alleging that he has ties to Russia, while pledging a full report on the alleged ‘Russian hacking’ of the US election in 90 days.

*

In a series of tweets, Donald Trump reiterated his denial of the uncorroborated allegations published by Buzzfeed that claimed he had ties with the Russian government and was the target of potential Kremlin blackmail.

“Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably released by ‘Intelligence’ even knowing there is no proof, and never will be. My people will have a full report on hacking within 90 days!” Trump said.

capture

capture

Earlier, during a press conference, Trump called Buzzfeed a “failing pile of garbage” for publishing the document, which had sparked uproar online and in the media because of the salacious details it contained describing what it claimed were Trump’s adventures in Russia.

*

Trump also refused to take a question from the CNN, which reported on the publication and on how the 36-page document, which was reportedly complied by a former British spy on behalf of anti-Trump forces, had made its way as a two-page synopsis attached to a classified US intelligence into a report presented to President Barack Obama, and later President-elect Trump.

The Kremlin said on Friday that what Buzzfeed had published “didn’t merit to be called a report.”

“We have finished the discussion of this fabrication,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained. “This is far from being the first such falsehood published, and it is, moreover, really quite base. One simply shouldn’t pay any attention to it, as it is now appealing to the emotional frenzy that is dominating in America at the moment.”

Politicians from both parties have accused Trump of being in cahoots with Russia, which the Obama administration has accused of waging a massive campaign to undermine the election and swing it in favor of Trump by hacking the Democratic Party’s computers and leaking the stolen emails to the whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

Russia has repeatedly denied the accusations, calling them “nonsense,” while the White House has refused to provide any concrete evidence to support its allegations, claiming it was necessary to keep it secret in order to protect the sources and methods of the intelligence communities.