Authored by ZeroPointNow, originally published on iBankCoin Tony Podesta and his lobbying firm the Podesta Group are under federal investigation by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller in connection with the Russia investigation, three sources told NBC News. The firm, co-founded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, was subpoenaed in late August along with three other public relations firms who worked with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort during a 2012-2014 lobbying effort for a pro-Ukraine think tank – the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU) – tied to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Two of the subpoenaed firms include Paul Manafort’s Mercury, LLC and the Podesta Group, founded by John and Tony Podesta and operated by the latter. Manafort’s firm earned $17 million between 2012 – 2014 consulting for Yanukovych’s centrist, pro-Russia ‘Party of Regions.’ During the same period, Manafort oversaw a lobbying campaign for the pro-Russia ‘Centre for a Modern Ukraine,’ a Brussels based think tank linked to Yanukovych which was pushing for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union. The Podesta group, operating under Manafort, earned over $1.2 million as part of that effort. In a statement to NBC, a spokesman for the Podesta Group said the firm “is cooperating fully with the Special Counsel’s office and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance. In all of our client engagements, the Podesta Group conducts due diligence and consults with appropriate legal experts to ensure compliance with disclosure regulations at all times – and we did so in this case.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 23, 2017.
On Thursday 19th October, the Media on Trial Event was held in the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church (BCBC) in London. Prior to the event there had been the usual stream of emails denouncing the speakers as ‘genocide deniers’ ‘Kremlin agents’ ‘conspiracy theorists’ and ‘Assad propagandists’ in an attempt to get the event shut down by targeting the venue. BCBC stuck by the principles of freedom of speech and nobly refused to be swayed by what amounted to aggressive lobbying for its suppression. When we arrived at the church in the afternoon to set up for the evening event, we were told that two men had entered the church during the afternoon. When asked why they wanted to go into the church, they told the staff that they wanted to pray. They were allowed in. They then poured what smelled like ‘skunk water’ (raw sewage) onto the carpet at the front of church, directly in front of the pulpit where the speakers would be presenting. This was a deliberate campaign to sabotage the event and to clamp down on any dissent against the corporate media narrative on Syria that has unanimously supported UK State foreign policy ie the removal of President Assad and the destabilisation of Syria by any means available. This, of course, included the backing & promotion of the multitude of terrorist entities inside Syria, euphemistically described by the UK FCO as the ‘Syrian opposition’ or the ‘democracy’ ‘freedom fighters’. The desecration of Christian church property is a crime that has been committed throughout Syria by the US Coalition-financed & armed extremist globe-trotters. Drugged-up mercenaries, whose disdain for sacred sites, protected by Syria’s secular state for centuries, translates into the destruction of Christian heritage sites with a violent, brutal hatred. They have had pretty much the same intent as the two saboteurs in London, to simply destroy all that stands in the way of their ideological supremacy in the region. Abdo Haddad is a respected geopolitical analyst and esteemed representative of the ancient Syrian Christian town of Maaloula that was invaded by the US Coalition terrorist factions in 2013/14. When he heard about the attacks on the BCBC & the Media on Trial Event, he wrote the following on his facebook page:
Meet Daphne Caruana Galizia, the journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta. *** A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by Politico as a ‘one-woman WikiLeaks’. To John Dalli, a former European commissioner whom she helped bring down in a tobacco lobbying scandal, Galizia is ‘a terrorist.’ To opposition MPs, she’s a political force of nature, one who fortunately has her guns aimed at the other side of the aisle. ‘She single-handedly brought the government to the verge of collapse,’ says one MP. ‘The lady has balls,’ says another. Galizia’s mantra was simple: blog relentlessly about the ‘cronyism that is accepted as something normal here. I can’t bear to see people like that rewarded.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 17, 2017.
In yet another astonishing eyewitness report that contradicts the official story surrounding the worst mass shooting in American history, a married couple who were celebrating their 10th anniversary in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting have come forward to reveal that there was an active shooter inside the Bellagio Hotel around the same time that supposed lone gunman Stephen Paddock was found dead. During the confessional, a Canadian man by the name of Jeff detailed the fact that he and his wife were in the Bellagio Resort and Casino around 11:20pm on the night of the shooting when panic broke out in the hotels lobby. Jeff begins the interview by making clear his belief that there were multiple active shooters targeting different places in Las Vegas on the night of the attack. ‘First of all, I think what needs to be said is that, from my perspective, there were multiple events that occurred around Las Vegas, up and down the Strip that night. It wasn’t just centralized around the Mandalay Hotel,’ the witness claimed.
This post was published at shtfplan on October 14th, 2017.
Another Trump-Russia collusion narrative has bitten the dust. In a stunning revelation that goes a long way toward alleviating the cloud of suspicion that has hovered over Donald Trump Jr. since details about a meeting organized by Trump Jr. involving Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort along with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and her entourage were first publicized in July, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that newly disclosed emails between Veselnitskaya and Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov largely support Veselnitskaya’s account that the meeting focused on her years long lobbying effort to kill the Magnitsky Act. *** The emails, which were provided to WSJ by Scott Balber, a lawyer for Agalarov, cover a period of time leading up to the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. They begin in October 2015, when Veselnitskaya first shared information about her anti-Magnitsky efforts with Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.
‘Mass shootings have become routine in the United States and speak to a society that relies on violence to feed the coffers of the merchants of death. Given the profits made by arms manufacturers, the defense industry, gun dealers and the lobbyists who represent them in Congress, it comes as no surprise that the culture of violence cannot be abstracted from either the culture of business or the corruption of politics. Violence runs through US society like an electric current offering instant pleasure from all cultural sources, whether it be the nightly news or a television series that glorifies serial killers.’ – Professor Henry A. Giroux This latest mass shooting in Las Vegas that left more than 50 people dead and more than 500 injured is as obscure as they come: a 64-year-old retiree with no apparent criminal history, no military training, and no obvious axe to grind opens fire on a country music concert crowd from a hotel room 32 floors up using a semi-automatic gun that may have been rigged to fire up to 700 rounds a minute, then kills himself. We’re left with more questions than answers, none of them a flattering reflection of the nation’s values, political priorities, or the manner in which the military-industrial complex continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives. For starters, why do these mass shootings keep happening? Mass shootings have taken place at churches, in nightclubs, on college campuses, on military bases, in elementary schools, in government offices, and at concerts. This shooting is the deadliest to date. What is it about America that makes violence our nation’s calling card?
Are you ready for mass chaos in Washington? There are lobbyists for just about every cause that you can possibly imagine, and they are always working hard to influence members of Congress on their particular issues. But when you are talking about a major tax reform bill, that is something that virtually every single lobbyist in the entire city will want to be involved in. Our tax code is over two million words long, and the regulations are over seven million words long, and any changes to our immensely complex system could have absolutely enormous implications. There will be winners and there will be losers with any piece of legislation, and lobbyists will zealously fight to defend the turf belonging to their particular clients. Often lobbyists from different sides will literally be pitted directly against one another, and it won’t be pretty. In fact, one analyst that works for Cowen Washington Research Group says that we could soon be watching ‘the corporate hunger games’… Almost every industry, special interest, and consumer group has an interest in the tax code, especially if the package ends up being as ambitious as Trump and Republican leaders want it to be. Chris Krueger, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, told Business Insider that the battle over which loopholes to keep and which to throw out could get nasty.
Barack Obama is funding the anti-Trump movement through a series of backdoor deals and policies. Wall Street may be surprised to learn that it is also helping bankroll the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ whether they wanted to or not. Wall Street is fighting policies which would heavily favor it, including corporate tax cuts and the repeal of Obama-era banking and health-care regulations. We have the Obama administration to thank for the harsh anti-Trump movement by far left groups, according to an article by the New York Post. The Obama administration’s massive shakedown of Big Banks over the mortgage crisis included unprecedented back-door funding for dozens of Democratic activist groups who were not even victims of the crisis. At least three liberal nonprofit organizations the Justice Department approved to receive funds from multibillion-dollar mortgage settlements were instrumental in killing the ObamaCare repeal bill and are now lobbying against GOP tax reform, as well as efforts to rein in illegal immigration. An estimated $640 million has been diverted into what critics say is an improper, if not unconstitutional, ‘slush fund’ fed from government settlements with JPMorgan Chase and Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., according to congressional sources. The payola is potentially earmarked for third-party interest groups approved by the Justice Department and HUD without requiring any proof of how the funds will be spent. Many of the recipients so far are radical leftist organizations who solicited the settlement cash from the administration even though they were not parties to the lawsuits, records show. ‘During the Obama administration, groups committed to ‘revolutionary social change’ sent proposals and met with high-level HUD and Justice Department officials to try to get their pieces of the settlement pie,’ Cause of Action Institute vice president Julie Smith told The Post. -New York Post
This post was published at shtfplan on September 25th, 2017.
Imagine this movie-script: a former KGB spy, angry at the collapse of his motherland, plots a course for revenge… narrates the ominous sounding voice of Morgan Freeman. The hysteria continues, and this time Hollywood has been enlisted. No this is not The Onion, but yet another serious committee for seriouspeople. Meet the “Committee to Investigate Russia” which launched on Tuesday and immediately garnered broad coverage in pop-culture and entertainment news sites for its release of a short Morgan Freeman narrated video which aims to “tell us the truth” about Russian meddling in the US election. ‘We have been attacked,’ Freeman says in his familiarly reassuring voice while gazing into the camera. ‘We are at war.’ Not only did the video burn up social media on Tuesday, but the founders of the lobbying group behind the production, barely one day old, were given substantial air time on cable news from CNN to MSNBC. Of course, it helps that actor, director, and lifelong Democrat Rob Reiner is behind it – he’s teamed up with neocons David Frum, Max Boot, and national security insiders like James Clapper.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 20, 2017.
What’s next? A unicorn captured in Tennessee? The world I grew up in has changed. American Universities are handing out Play-Doh to comfort distraught liberals and ‘Never Trump’ students. Protestors defaced a Thomas Jefferson statueat the University of Virginia due to his slave ownership. Race baiters attacked Hobby Lobby for displaying raw cotton in vases. The P. C. Police have continually demonstrated their desire to attack the America many of us love. Now, the snowflake class is writing articles stating Ron Paul – the former Texas congressman that made a career out of criticizing bloated defense budgets and hawkish foreign policy decisions – is shilling for the defense industry. Their ‘evidence’ is that he received five-year-old campaign contributions from some employees of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which they falsely credited with coming directly from the companies themselves. Dr. Paul’s alleged wrongdoing was writing an op-ed mildly critical of Elon Musk, a government subsidy-eating machine and poster boy for left-wing environmental causes. In the article, Paul, an Air Force veteran, expressed his opposition to Section 1615 of the National Defense Authorization Agreement (NDAA), which many speculate was written with the congressional intent of quietly extinguishing all serious competition to Musk’s SpaceX.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 18, 2017.
Twenty-three years after former Drexel Burnham Lambert executive Michael Milken finished a 22-month minimum-security prison sentence, one fund manager is lobbying President Donald Trump to pardon his past convictions, arguing that Milken’s prosecution was an example of anti-banker hysteria run amok. Wealth-management executive David Bahnsen told Bloomberg that he sent a plea to Trump asking that he pardon Milken, an innovator who is widely lauded in the financial world for helping to popularize junk bonds among a broader set of investors during the 1980s. Bizarrely, Bahnsen says he’s never met the man. Milken pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges in 1992, and was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison, though he only served 22 months.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 1, 2017.
Just over a year ago we wrote about Paul Manafort resigning from the Trump campaign amid outrage over his consulting firm’s ties to a lobbying campaign designed to sway American public opinion in favor of the Ukraine’s pro-Russsian government (see: FBI Probes Firm Belonging To Brother Of Clinton Campaign Chair For Ukraine Corruption Ties). The top political news on Friday was the unexpected resignation of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, which was the result of emerging revelations that his political consulting firm, DMP International, had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation in the period 2012-2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s then ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government (which was overthrown in a CIA-orchestrated coup in early 2014). As the AP reported yesterday, the lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine’s then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. Furthermore, under the U. S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (or FARA), US entities who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders or political parties must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department. Now, fast forward one year and it seems as though an honest attempt to destroy Trump’s campaign may ensnare another rather unlikely victim, namely The Podesta Group. As our readers are undoubtedly aware by now, The Podesta Group (PG) was co-founded by Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, John Podesta, and is still run by his brother, Tony Podesta. Now, according The Daily Caller, PG, one of six lobbying firms that worked on Manafort’s campaign to get Ukraine into the European Union between 2012 to 2014, finds itself directly in the crosshairs of Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia probe.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 28, 2017.
These two words are the hinge that is swinging American life – and the advanced techno-industrial world, for that matter – toward darkness. They represent an infection in the critical operations of daily life, like a metabolic disease, driving us into disorder and failure. And they are so omnipresent that we’ve failed to even notice the growing failure all around us. Mostly, these diminishing returns are the results of our over-investments in making complex systems more complex, for instance the replacement of the 37-page Glass-Steagall Act that regulated American banking, with the 848 page Dodd-Frank Act, which was only an outline for over 22,000 pages of subsequent regulatory content – all of it cooked up by banking lobbyists, and none of which replaced the single most important rule in Glass-Steagall, which required the separation of commercial banking from trafficking in securities. Dodd-Frank was a colossal act of misdirection of the public’s attention, an impenetrable smokescreen of legal blather in the service of racketeering. For Wall Street, Dodd-Frank aggravated the conditions that allow stock indexes to only move in one direction, up, for nine years. During the same period, the American economy of real people and real stuff only went steadily down, including the number of people out of the work force, the incomes of those who still had jobs, the number of people with full-time jobs, the number of people who were able to buy food without government help, or pay for a place to live, or send a kid to college.
Americans don’t know what’s being negotiated at their expense. The first round of re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico began on Wednesday and is scheduled to last through Sunday. And the one thing we know about it is this: Despite promises in March by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (USTR) that the negotiations would be transparent, the USTR now considers the documents and negotiations ‘classified’ and they’ll be cloaked in secrecy. But corporate lobbyists have access. And they’re all over it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this way: Once again, following the failed model of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the USTR will be keeping the negotiating texts secret, and in an actual regression from the TPP will be holding no public stakeholder events alongside the first round. This may or may not set a precedent for future rounds, that will rotate between the three countries every few weeks thereafter, with a scheduled end date of mid-2018.
This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Aug 19, 2017.
Here is what Donald Trump should call for this morning. This is the right time to up his ante in the struggle against the Lgenpresse. All his efforts to fix the sinking ship of the US society are in vain with a breach below the waterline. If the Fake News applauds every jerk in a mantle who stops a presidential decree, the jerks will multiply and president’s decrees will be worth what? A collector’s rarity. A quirky exhibit from the days of Donald Trump’s short-lived presidency. The fake news media ridiculed the POTUS so completely, that this big man with big orange hair shrunk down to Lilliput’s finger. Trump can’t get out of his disposition by foreign policy acts. Forget about North Korea. It is a big hedgehog: a lot of bother to catch and kill, many prickles and no meat. The only thing Kim wants to tell Trump is ‘I am not a soft target, go look elsewhere’. Is North Korea dangerous? Only for those who want to step on it. P G Wodehouse’s Mr Mulliner argued with anti-smoker lobby: ‘They come and tell me that if they place two drops of nicotine on the tongue of a dog the animal instantly dies and when I ask them if they have ever tried the childishly simple device of not placing nicotine on the dog’s tongue, they have nothing to reply They are nonplussed. They go away mumbling something about never having thought of that before.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.
The rights of the American people have been, and are being trampled into the dust, as the pseudo-representatives glut themselves from the trough of lobbyists and oligarchs alike. It could be proven, but won’t be proven: the investigating ‘authority’ is not accountable to the people and there is no oversight. The FBI, and any investigations under special counsel? Look at Fast and Furious and how the Attorney General’s office covered that one up. What is needed to prove it? Something that doesn’t exist. Here is what is needed: A team of spotless individuals with a leader of unquestionable character and service…with complete authority and impunity: unable to be hindered by any federal, state, or local police and army of ‘authorities.’ This Special Investigative Team would have the power to investigate fully any and all ties to Congressmen, Senators, and Supreme Court judges…to find evidence of bribery, kickbacks, and influence peddling…and then arrest them and bring them to trial. Everyone can jump up and down, desiring to boil in oil anyone making such a suggestion; however, without some kind of accountability, these elected officials are running rampant and trampling the rights of the citizens. Who is going to stop it? The courts? The courts are the biggest pack of crooks of all. Yes, ‘Your Honor,’ and ‘The Honorable,’ ad infinitum. I guarantee that a Special Investigator with impunity would have found plenty of coral snakes under Chief (in)Justice John Roberts’ front porch…if Obama and Holder had been made to step aside and an investigation had been done. This should have been done after he cast his deciding vote on Obamacare. Going back a few years, Obamacare would have never made it to the floor of the Senate if Olympia Snow (R, ME) had not allowed it to come up for a vote. Who paid her off? In order to follow the money, you have to be allowed to follow it: or you’ll just end up arrested or dead. The special unit of investigators I suggested? They need to be armed to the teeth, and they need giant, shiny badges that every human in the Western Hemisphere will recognize. And why not? It worked for Elliot Ness and his team. This won’t be done, of course, for one reason:
This post was published at shtfplan on August 7th, 2017.
Apparently the Banks have been lobbying heavily, and expending significant amounts of money again, leaning on their Congressmen and pressuring regulators, saying that their capital standards need to be relaxed so that they can make more loans to stimulate economic growth. But that, according to the FDIC Vice-Chairman, is utter nonsense. “Hoenig, who was a high-ranking Federal Reserve official during the crisis, cautioned Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo and the committee’s senior Democrat, Sherrod Brown, “against relaxing current capital requirements and allowing the largest banks to increase their already highly leveraged positions.” Using public data to analyze the 10 largest bank holding companies, Hoenig found they will distribute more than 100 percent of the current year’s earnings to investors, which could have supported to $537 billion in new loans.
President Donald Trump might’ve been on to something when he accused the Washington Post of being a ‘lobbyist weapon For Amazon.’ In a rambling five-page email published by WaPo, the CEO of Birkenstock USA threatened to cut off authorized retailers who sell even a ‘single pair’ of its shoes to Amazon.com Inc., a continuation of his crusade against the online retailer, which began about a year ago when he demanded that the e-commerce powerhouse do more to ferret out fakes being sold on its platform. In the missive, CEO David Kahan blasted Amazon for soliciting Birkenstock retailers, offering to buy the company’s shoes from them for full price. Birkenstock stopped selling its shoes on Amazon earlier this year, citing a rise in counterfeit products and unauthorized sellers. Though the paper disclosed its conflict of interest, the story was obviously intended to embarrass a business rival of WaPo owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, despite the paper’s smoothly neutral tone. ‘In the email, Kahan called the entreaty a ‘desperate act’ and a ‘PERSONAL AFFRONT.’ ‘Birkenstock does NOT sell [to] Amazon,’ he wrote in the email to retail partners. ‘And it is clear that they are seeking back-channel means by which to obtain our brand.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 26, 2017.
In a desperate bid to survive its economic meltdown, Venezuela is lobbying other OPEC members to agree to steeper oil production cuts, a move that would likely lead to higher oil prices. Venezuelan officials have reached out to their counterparts in Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia to press them on more collective action, according to Argus Media. If there was enough interest, the next step would be an ‘extraordinary meeting,’ which would weigh the option of cutting deeper. The rumors about deeper OPEC cuts have been floating around since June, when oil prices collapsed into the low-$40s. The markets have grown deeply pessimistic about the health of the oil market, and doubt the OPEC cuts will balance the market by the end of the compliance period in March 2018. But the behind-the-scenes effort from Venezuelan officials is notable, if only because the South American OPEC members was one of the earliest and most aggressive supporters of the original deal to reduce output. In 2016, for months the more powerful members of the cartel rebuffed Venezuelan pleas, but in the end they agreed to reductions in November after oil prices continued to wallow below $50 per barrel.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 19, 2017.
Reading the news on America should scare everyone, and every day, but it doesn’t. We’re immune, largely. Take this morning. The US Republican party can’t get its healthcare plan through the Senate. And they apparently don’t want to be seen working with the Democrats on a plan either. Or is that the other way around? You’d think if these people realize they were elected to represent the interests of their voters, they could get together and hammer out a single payer plan that is cheaper than anything they’ve managed so far. But they’re all in the pockets of so many sponsors and lobbyists they can’t really move anymore, or risk growing a conscience. Or a pair. What we’re witnessing is the demise of the American political system, in real time. We just don’t know it. Actually, we’re witnessing the downfall of the entire western system. And it turns out the media are an integral part of that system. The reason we’re seeing it happen now is that although the narratives and memes emanating from both politics and the press point to economic recovery and a future full of hope and technological solutions to all our problems, people are not buying the memes anymore. And the people are right.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 18, 2017.