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Blackmailed and Controlled: Germany Acts as US ‘Spy Colony’ for Euro Intel

Sputnik – 05.05.2015

The intelligence sharing relationship between German and American spy agencies is one of dominance and blackmail rather than cooperation, with Germany’s BND acting as a “colony” used to help gather information for US authorities, German activist and publicist Christoph Horstel said.

There has been much speculation regarding the seemingly close relationship between German and US intelligence agencies in recent times, following German media reports alleging that Berlin’s foreign intelligence agency — the BND — spied on various European targets on behalf of America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

According to the reports, the NSA had been given access to the e-mails of various European politicians, EU institutions and European member state ministries.

This led many to suggest Germany was complicit with the US in operating an illegal global spy network. Chancellor Angela Merkel denied Germany was involved in illegal activity, telling journalists that it was essential for the BND to keep working with the NSA in order to ensure the safety of citizens.

‘A Big Show, A Big Farce’

However, Christoph Horstel believes that while Berlin does act on behalf of Washington’s intelligence agencies, he told Sputnik that the relationship is very one-sided.

“Well this is a big show, a big farce. All of the political insiders know what the real question is. The real question is that this is not cooperation; Germany is [a] colony.”

Horstel points out that the former US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) — which later become the CIA — established the German BND, and he believes it has been set up to look after Washington’s European interests.

“What we do have here, in fact, is a written understanding that the BND has to give — free of charge — any of the fruits of its work to the CIA. That is quite normal,” he said.

“The Americans are the masters of the game in Europe, so we [Germany] have to deliver to them. It’s a kind of service; a service of Germany to the US and we have to do that — that’s fact.”

German Officials ‘Blackmailed’ by US

Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel fronting the media to deny accusations that she was in any way complicit in allowing American authorities to illegally spy on European firms, Horstel believes the chancellor would be well aware of what practices are going on.

“If she [Merkel] was not very deeply cooperating with the Americans, she would not be chancellor. We have a double system to ensure that we do exactly as Washington wants.

“What we have here is a very clear-cut system of blackmail against anyone in a high position — that’s number one,” he said, suggesting that US access to German security files allows American authorities to hold German politicians to ransom.

Meanwhile, Horstel also believes an inherent American influence on German politics and media means that governments in favor of US policy are also elected, and the media consistently follows American rhetoric on international issues, such as the crisis in Ukraine.

“Number two is that when it comes to elections, you will get into a powerful enough position to win unless the Americans are nodding their head. This also applies to the army ranks and the media ranks.

“This is why it’s important to note why the German media is so hostile to Russia. The Americans say it, and we [Germans] do it.”

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Austria Demands Info on German-US Spying on Officials, Companies

Sputnik – 05.05.2015

Austria filed a formal complaint over suspicions that German and American intelligence agencies have spied on its authorities and firms, the Austrian interior minister said on Tuesday.

“Austria demands clarification,” Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told Reuters, following German media reports about such activities. She added that Austria’s security authorities were in contact with their German counterparts.

“Today we have filed a legal complaint with the prosecutor’s office,” she said, “against an unknown entity due to secret intelligence services to Austria’s disadvantage.”

German media reports said the BND, Germany’s intelligence agency, used its Bad Aibling listening post in Bavaria to spy on the French presidential palace, French foreign ministry and European Commission.

The snooping was done at the behest of US spy agency National Security Agency (NSA), which also asked the BND to monitor European firms to check if they were breaking trade embargos, according to reports.

Mikl-Leitner said that while there is not yet concrete evidence, “it’s not far-fetched to suspect that Austria was also spied on.”

She added that Austria will try to resolve the situation through its security, diplomatic and judicial bodies.

The NSA is believed to have passed a list of some 800,000 IP addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to the BND for monitoring, some of which belonged to European politicians and companies.

Citing an unnamed source from the German parliamentary committee on the US spying agency, German newspaper Bild said Berlin chose to remain silent and close its eyes to the information in order to avoid “endangering cooperation” with Washington and the NSA.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has denied reports that he was aware of the spying since at least 2008.

During a press briefing Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin is engaged in consultations with Washington on the NSA’s surveillance practices.

“I think what’s important here is that friends do not spy on each other. The answer is that it should not be so,” Merkel said.

She continued: “We are at the disposal of respective parliamentary bodies. The chancellor’s office is ready to provide all necessary information. This process is already under way. We are also consulting the United States.”

Secret documents leaked in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that the US spy agency monitored Merkel’s personal cell phone too.

Read more:

Airbus to Launch Criminal Complaint Against Germany in Spy Scandal

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Father of internet’ speaks out against government demand for back doors in encryption

RT | May 5, 2015

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf said Monday that creating defects in encryption systems for law enforcement, often known as “back doors,” was “super, super risky” and not the “right answer.”

Cerf, recognized as a “father of the internet,” currently working at Google, told an audience at the National Press Club that he understood law enforcement’s desire to avoid being locked away from evidence that could be used to prevent crimes. He went on to say, however, that providing such access raises constitutional and legal questions.

“The Congress is forced now to struggle with that, and they’re going to have to listen to these various arguments about protection and safety on the one hand and preservation and privacy and confidentiality on the other,” Cerf said, as reported by The Hill.

The Obama administration has been trying to force companies like Google and Apple to create defects in encryption so the FBI and other government agencies can gain access to people’s information; this despite mounting criticism over the plan – a criticism that’s shared by Cerf.

“If you have a back door, somebody will find it, and that somebody may be a bad guy or bad guys, and they will intentionally abuse their access,” said Cerf.

“Creating this kind of technology is super, super-risky,” he added. “I don’t think that that’s the right answer.”

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed a program codenamed “Bullrun,” which showed that the government penetrated encryption securities through the use of “supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion.”

Since those disclosures, Silicon Valley industries have been working feverishly to adopt encryption technology beyond the reach of law enforcement agencies that haven’t first obtained a warrant, and to appease customers worried about their privacy. Law enforcement sees it differently, however.

“If this becomes the norm, I suggest to you that homicide cases could be stalled, suspects walked free, child exploitation not discovered and prosecuted,” FBI Director James Comey warned in October, reported The Hill.

For tech companies, though, it is not a question of creating “back doors” or “front doors” – it’s just a matter of secure technology and unsecure technology.

Last week, a bipartisan group of legislators attempted to add an amendment prohibiting the government from forcing companies to build back doors into their devices to a bill reforming the National Security Agency. Despite full support from House Judiciary Committee members, the measure was dropped over concerns it would sink the underlying bill.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pennsylvania Court strikes down law aimed at keeping convicts out of public eye

RT | May 5, 2015

A federal court in Pennsylvania overturned the Revictimization Relief Act, which aimed to ban convicted criminals from speaking publicly.

The federal district court on Monday said the statute introduced by lawmakers violated the first amendment rights of one-time death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal and other prisoners. The law was introduced in response to Abu-Jamal’s [recorded] appearance at a Goddard College commencement address in Vermont in October 2014.

“The fact that certain plaintiffs have been convicted of infamous or violent crimes is largely irrelevant to our first amendment analysis. A past criminal offense does not extinguish the offender’s constitutional right to free expression,” Judge Christopher Conner wrote. “The First Amendment does not evanesce at the prison gate.”

Judge Conner wrote the law was unconstitutionally vague and over-broad. He worried that it would deter not only the speech of convicted criminals, but also people who redistribute speech such as producers quoting criminals in radio programs or newspapers publishing interviews with criminals. Conner said a law restricting expression based on content was “inherently suspect.”

Attorney Eli Segal and the American Civil Liberties Union, who brought suit against the law, told the Associated Press that the decision “says loud and clear that all of us in this commonwealth have the right to freedom of speech.”

Steve Miskin, the spokesman for the Pennsylvania House GOP leadership told AP that Conner’s ruling “is woefully short of the fact. It begs the question: Did he even read the law?”

“The point of the law was to look out for victims,” he added.

The Revictimization Relief Act, passed by Pennsylvania lawmakers in October 2014, said a victim of a personal injury crime may bring a civil action against an offender to restrict them from conduct that could perpetuate the continuing effect of the crime on the victim, including conduct causing a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, an American activist and journalist, was convicted in 1982 for the 1981 murder of Pennsylvania Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. He was on death row for 30 years before appeals converted his death penalty to life without parole. Abu-Jamal claims he is a victim of a racist justice system. The Faulkner family, public authorities, police organizations and self-described conservative groups have maintained that Abu-Jamal’s trial was fair, his guilt undeniable, and his death sentence appropriate.

Earlier this year, Tom Wolf, the Governor of Pennsylvania, offered the state’s 186 death row inmates temporary reprieves from execution, calling the system “error prone, expensive and anything but useful.”

Wolf said that if the state is going to “take the irrevocable step of executing a human being, its capital sentencing system must be infallible.” He said the system was riddled with flaws and studies had called into question the accuracy and fundamental fairness of Pennsylvania’s capital sentencing system. The studies suggested there were inherent biases indicating that a person is more likely to be charged with a capital offense and sentenced to death row if he is poor or part of a minority racial group; especially so if the victim of the crime was white.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When the police act like a gang

By Yossi Gurvitz | Yesh Din | May 5, 2015

A journalist learns that if you photograph Border Policemen committing a felony, you’ll probably end up paying for it.

Near the end of January 2015, Amin Hassan Raneh Alawiya left his home in East Jerusalem’s Al-Azariya neighborhood and made his way to a wedding. As he later described it in his police complaint, upon leaving the house, lawiya – a photojournalist by profession – noticed a demonstration taking place nearby. Naturally, he picked up his camera and went over to document it. A Border Policeman, whom Alawiya recognized, ordered him to move away. In fact, he gave Alawiya the choice of either moving away, getting arrested or getting shot. Alawiya went back home and photographed from there.

Two policemen then came to the house and called Alawiya to come out. When he did the two cops jumped him. They continued hitting him as he was led to their vehicle, and from what they said on the two-way radio, Alawiya understood that he was to blame for disregarding their instructions. Inside the vehicle, the policemen kept hitting him, one of them shouting “this is for our friend” and “our friend will shoot you,” using the name of a third policeman. One of them also used the opportunity to curse the founder of Islam, Muhammad, until the other one told him to stop.

Who is the third cop? Ah! This is the core of the story. In May 2014, as part of his job, Alawiya documented Border Policemen assaulting a hooded child in East Jerusalem, after he was suspected of throwing stones. The policemen also took photos of themselves with the wounded child. The “friend” is one of those documented in Alawiya’s video, which enjoyed widespread distribution on Al Jazeera and other networks. Ever since, he says, he became a target for the Border Police in East Jerusalem, which he claims prevent him from filming in the city and even broke one of his cameras.

Alawiya’s detention in January was part of the Border Police’s quest for vengeance. One of the problems with police forces, particularly forces that are not subject to serious oversight, is that they tend to become a kind of gang: the permeation of a culture of violence and lies becomes common. We have seen the violence, now let’s deal with the deceitfulness.

After his detention, Alawiya was held, handcuffed and blindfolded, in the Abu Dis Border Police base for some two hours. He was then transferred to the police station in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Edumim. There he requested to file a complaint of assault against the cops, but the officer present refused to receive the complaint, and told him he should turn to Israel’s Internal Affairs Division. As we will see, this was a hollow demand that reflected the police’s negligence. Alawiya was immediately informed that he was charged with assaulting and obstructing an officer. The police then demanded Alawiya sign a document saying he was not attacked by the police. He did so, but added in Arabic that it was he who was assaulted. Soon afterward, Alawiya was led to an interrogation room, where he was informed by the interrogator that he was suspected of obstructing an officer.

Did you get what, according to the complaint, just happened? Prior to signing a document saying he was not assaulted by the police, Alawiya was accused of assaulting an officer. After he signed the document, the charge of assaulting an officer simply evaporated. There is a method here, well-known to veterans of demonstrations in Israel and East Jerusalem: as soon as you complain about police brutality, you are automatically charged with assaulting an officer.

When a police force fabricates a complaint against a civilian, especially after he complains of being assaulted by a cop, there is, to put it mildly, a gross misunderstanding of the function of the police. Its duty is to maintain law and order, not to protect itself. When it distorts reality, it lies to itself, to the public that pays its salary and to the courts. When it pins false charges on a person, it is conspiring to damage his good name, his livelihood, and in the worst case scenario, deprives him of his liberty. It then ceases to be the servant of the public and becomes its enemy; it ceases being a vehicle for safeguarding human rights and becomes a tool for their denial.

Alawiya couldn’t file a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division, since he lives in East Jerusalem, specifically in a neighborhood that lies east of the separation wall. Despite the fact that Israeli Police (which includes the Border Police) have been active in East Jerusalem since it was occupied in 1967, there is no Internal Affairs Division station there. In order to lodge a complaint, Alawiya either needs a permit to enter Israel, or needs to use mediators such as human rights organizations. He says that ever since he documented the young boy being abused in May 2014, his permit has been denied.

And if you thought that was bad, the story doesn’t end there: a relative of Alawiya paid NIS 2,000 for his release on bail, since being assaulted by police and and then being wrongfully detained means you need to post bail. The relative, however, did not receive a receipt for the money. What happens to money given to a policeman when no receipt is given? Your guess is as good as mine.

In March 2014, Yesh Din Attorney Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, sent a complaint to the Internal Affairs Division, demanding an immediate investigation on suspicion of, inter alia, false arrest, assault, abuse of the power of office and conduct unbecoming.

Given that in 93 percent of the complaints submitted in 2011-2014, the Internal Affairs Division closed the case without any investigation; that of the 11,282 complaints in the years 2011-2013, only 2.7 percent turned into indictments; and that the former chief of the division is on record saying that the police suffer from a “culture of lies” and that policemen cover for each other, one cannot hope too much that a journalist who exposed the face of the police will see justice. And these, we note, are the results for all complaints to the Internal Affairs Division, not just those by Palestinians. We’ll keep you posted.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Join The Resistance! Join the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine

The International Solidarity Movement | May 5, 2015

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In recent months activists on the ground have witnessed an escalation of violence directed at Palestinians. There is an urgent need for international volunteers to support grassroots, non-violent Palestinian popular resistance to the Israeli Occupation.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the long-entrenched, systematic oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian population, using the principles and methods of non-violent, direct-action. ISM works where internationals can be most effective; we walk in solidarity with Palestinians in demonstrations, we respond to the violence, threats, house demolitions and land confiscation by the Israeli military and settlers.

The threat of demolition orders means that we have presence in places such as Jerusalem, Hebron and the Jordan Valley. We respond to violations of human rights by supporting Palestinian political prisoners. This includes bearing witness in Israeli military courts, campaigning and supporting families with loved ones imprisoned. In Hebron we walk with children who face violence and intimidation on their way to school. In the South Hebron Hills we assist farmers and shepherds who are harassed by settlers and occupation forces whilst trying to work on their own land. In the Jordan Valley we work with locals to build where the Israeli military destroys, in order that communities can resist by staying put. In Gaza we accompany farmers and fishermen into the buffer zones where they risk massive violence from the Israeli military. ISM constantly documents and reports on the daily violations of human rights committed by the state of Israel. ISM works to stop Israels’ crimes from going unreported.

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You can be a part of this. ISM is Palestinian led, but has no leaders, and we have supported Palestinians in their struggle against the Occupation since 2001. To us, solidarity means that we are a tool for Palestinians to use in their popular resistance. We recognise that as internationals working under Israeli apartheid our position is privileged. We have rights that are denied to Palestinians. When we are arrested we are taken to a police station and have the right to a lawyer. When Palestinians are arrested they are taken to military bases where they face indefinite detention without a lawyer or fair trial. ISM uses the privileges of internationals to support Palestinian popular resistance. We believe that our presence as internationals supporting Palestinian led actions can afford some protection from some of the worst excesses of Israel’s violence.

For more information about our work and for up to date information about the situation in Occupied Palestine, visit palsolidarity.org

If you are planning to volunteer with ISM please contact us at palreports@gmail.com

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Israeli court approves demolition of Palestinian village

IMEMC & Agencies | May 5, 2015

An Israeli Court ruled Monday on the removal of Susiya Bedouin village, in Masafer Yatta area, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after colonists of the illegal Susya settlement, demanded the removal of the Palestinian enclave.

Coordinator of the Popular and National Committee in southern Hebron Rateb Jabour told the WAFA News agency that the Israeli decision could be enforced at any given moment, rendering dozens of residents homeless.

He added that the head of the Susiya Village Council Jihad Nawaj’a, received an official Israeli order informing him of the intention to remove the village.

Nawaj’a stated that the Susiya has been subject to dozens of violations and assaults by Israeli soldiers and fanatical colonizers.

“Our village is a historic area; Israel wants to remove us to control it,” he added, “There are many Islamic and Roman archeological sites here.”

The villagers have been constantly suffering, and literally fighting for their very existence, since Israel started the construction of Susya colony in 1983 on privately owned lands belonging to five Palestinian families from Yatta.

The villagers were forcibly removed from their village in 1986, and relocated to the current location, yet again, are facing the same fate.

Removing the village means displacing at least 50 families, and the illegal annexation of hundreds of Dunams of private Palestinian lands.

Nawaj’a said the residents have all deeds proving ownership of their lands, but Israel continues to displace them, in addition to constantly preventing them from having any access to running water, electricity and other basic services.

Several Palestinian, Israel and international human rights groups frequently warned of the Israel plans, and said Tel Aviv is planning to destroy 13 Palestinian villages in Hebron, under the pretext of “being located in military training zones.”

Removing the 13 communities would lead to the displacement of around 1,650 persons.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Danish anti-Israeli settlements bus ads halted

RT | May 5, 2015

Photo from facebook.com/nejtaktilbsp

Photo from facebook.com/nejtaktilbsp

The Danish Palestinian Friendship Association said Monday it would expand its anti-settlement advertising campaign after Copenhagen bus operator Movia said it was dropping their ads from buses in the city.

The advertisements were put on 35 buses in the Danish capital and featured two women and the quote: “Our conscience is clean! We neither buy products from the Israeli settlements nor invest in the settlement industry.”

But Movia said they dropped them after four days because of the number of inquiries they received about what the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association stands for, AFP reports.

[We] “received a significant number of inquiries regarding the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association’s campaign against Israeli settlements.”

The company declined to comment but released a statement saying the ads were “unnecessarily offensive.”

Fathi El-Abed, the Chairman of the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association, however said that the ads were harmless.

“It’s a clear attempt to deny us our freedom of speech. There is nothing whatsoever about this campaign that is harmful, discriminatory or hateful in any way,” he told AFP.

He insisted that his organization would press on with a national advertising campaign on Israeli settlements.

El-Abed also said that his group was supported by people “who’ve never had anything to do with the Palestinian cause.”

Christian Juhl, a lawmaker from the Red-Green Alliance, said that he thought the decision by the bus company was “embarrassing.”

The decision by Movia is in stark contrast to their refusal last year to drop ads featuring bare breasts by a plastic surgery clinic after complaints by feminists.

In New York an arguably far more offensive ad campaign was allowed on buses after a judge overturned a ban in April from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

The adverts were commissioned by the pro-Israeli American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and featured a masked man next to the caption “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah. That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?”

The adverts were a spoof of an earlier far less offensive campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which encouraged Twitter users to post messages with the hashtag MyJihad where they would right about their personal and peaceful achievements.

There were also ads showing a 1941 photo of a Muslim leader meeting Hitler, which appeared on buses in Philadelphia, which were also organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a pro-Israel group led by blogger Pamela Geller.

AFDI was also behind the contest in Texas on Sunday to award $10,000 for the best cartoon depiction of Muhammad, which ISIS attempted to attack.

The latest ads come after ads linking “Islamic Jew-hatred” with Adolf Hitler appeared in San Francisco In January and in Washington DC last year.

The campaign to boycott Israeli produce and companies operating in the areas of the West Bank, which have been occupied by Israeli settlers, began in 2005, although its effectiveness in stopping the settlement program and its impact on the Israeli economy has been questioned.

The issue of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank is one of the main stalling factors in the now dead Palestine-Israeli peace talks.

In an interview Sunday with the Financial Times and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jimmy Carter, former American President and peace activist, said the peace process was dead because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would never accept a Palestinian state.

Read more:

‘Islamic Jew-hatred’ ads with Hitler appear on Philly buses

NYC judge lets through anti-Palestinian ‘killing Jews’ ad as ‘freedom of speech’

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sheldon Adelson: Wild card

By KENNETH P. VOGEL | POLITICO | April 31, 2015

LAS VEGAS — Luxury buses pulled up to the front entrance of the private hangar here where Sheldon Adelson keeps his corporate jets, dropping off Republican donors to hear Jeb Bush speak.

But Adelson arrived late — and in more extravagant style, pulling right into the massive structure in his Maybach limousine with dark tinted windows trailed by a second Maybach carrying glaring bodyguards.

The grand entrance was vintage Adelson. And it kicked off a Republican Jewish Conference four-day retreat this past weekend in which the 80-year-old casino mogul wowed his guests with a distinct blend of megawatt GOP politics and Vegas opulence, keeping them — and the political class, as a whole — waiting and wondering about what would come next.

The guessing game is creating anxiety among Republican Party elites eager to avoid a repeat of 2012, when Adelson and his family dumped more than $20 million into a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich’s long-shot GOP presidential campaign. The Adelsons went on to give even more money to help Mitt Romney, but by the time he was the party’s nominee, the damage was done. The infusion to boost Gingrich roiled and prolonged the primary and hurt the party’s chances of winning the White House.

When Adelson summoned Bush and Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin to Las Vegas for the annual spring RJC meeting, GOP stalwarts hoped it might mean the megadonor was committing to get behind one of the establishment favorites for 2016, and not going rogue again.

But interviews with Adelson intimates, an analysis of his political alliances and reporting from the Las Vegas retreat suggest that the headstrong billionaire isn’t a new man, but the same gambler he has always been: a true wild card.

“If anybody tells you what Sheldon is going to do, or how or why he is going to do it, they don’t know Sheldon. Sheldon makes up his own mind,” said Ari Fleischer, a longtime Adelson confidant. Fleischer, an RJC board member, was scheduled to lead a board discussion about what Republicans are doing to improve on their 2012 effort.

The possibility that Adelson might use his checkbook to upend the 2016 primary “is worrisome,” Fleischer conceded, though he stressed the same could be said of other very wealthy Republicans.

The new big-money political landscape — in which a handful of donors can dramatically alter a campaign with just a check or two — explains both the eagerness of busy governors to make pilgrimages to Las Vegas, and the obsession with divining Adelson’s 2016 leanings.

All manner of national media flocked to Adelson’s Venetian casino and resort hotel, which hosted the RJC meeting. But reporters were kept away from Adelson by coalition staff, as well as casino and personal security, and his team turned down interview requests, including for an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

As Adelson whizzed around his Venetian kingdom on a motorized scooter during the retreat, he was often trailed by GOP operatives, politicians and fellow donors eager to assess his state of mind, advise him on what he should do or just lavish him with praise and gratitude.

The son of poor Jewish immigrants, Adelson was raised in a working-class Massachusetts town. He amassed a fortune estimated at $40 billion today by following his gut and bucking conventional wisdom, forging a business- and family-travel industry in Las Vegas and rushing into the uncertain middle-class gambling market in the Macao region of China.

He donates huge sums to Israeli causes and has ramped up his domestic political giving in recent years, culminating in an unprecedented $100 million spending spree in 2012. Despite his paltry success rate, he has said he intends to spend even more in future campaigns.

At a closed-press Saturday night gala, Adelson quipped that he couldn’t oblige a request from the RJC for a $50 million contribution because the group’s executive director, Matt Brooks, didn’t have change for $1 billion.

Neither Adelson’s speech nor his private conversations over the weekend provided those closest to him with any clearer sense of which way his gut was leading him in the 2016 presidential race, leaving all grasping at clues.

“His priority is Israel. So, if you look at his vetting process, I haven’t sat in any of the meetings, but I assure you that the first question is ‘tell me where you are on the safety and security of the state of Israel,’” said GOP bundler Fred Zeidman, a Houston private equity investor who is friendly with Adelson.

All the prospective candidates who turned up in Vegas stressed their support for Israel in speeches and private meetings with Adelson. There were several veiled swipes at GOP politicians and prospective presidential candidates with more noninterventionist foreign policy perspectives, like Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, who are considered unlikely candidates for Adelson’s support. Yet most of the governors who were invited to Vegas have fairly limited foreign policy chops.

Walker conceded as much in a Saturday speech, explaining foreign affairs is “not an area that governors typically look at,” though he mentioned that he is commander in chief of the Wisconsin National Guard. He also sought to forge cultural common ground with RJCers by explaining that he lights a menorah at the governor’s mansion during Hannukah and named one of his two sons Matthew — which means “gift from God” in Hebrew.

Christie’s efforts at playing the Israel card backfired when he inadvertently used a term [occupied territories] for disputed Middle East territory during a Saturday speech that offended Adelson and some of his guests. The New Jersey governor apologized in a private meeting in the casino mogul’s Venetian office shortly afterward.

The foreign policy deficit may, in fact, be a side effect of another factor Adelson has identified as important, according to sources close to him — “executive experience.” That could potentially rule out prospective candidates with more hawkish foreign policy attitudes, like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Kasich of Ohio played straight to Adelson.

“Hey, listen, Sheldon, thanks for inviting me,” Kasich told Adelson during a Saturday luncheon speech.

“Sheldon and I were kind of talking about his background. I come from a little town outside of Pittsburgh called McKees Rocks — it was very blue collar,” Kasich said, in one of several Adelson-related non sequiturs.

Even when he discussed his effort to clamp down on prescription drug dissemination, he said Adelson — who took as many as 25 medications in a day in 2001 to manage pain from a neurological condition, and whose wife, Miriam Adelson, is a physician who specializes in treating drug addiction — “is someone who knows about this.”

Some possible candidates who seem to meet Adelson’s criteria either weren’t invited or didn’t come to Las Vegas, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He has both executive experience and a track record of supporting Israel, but seems to face electability hurdles similar to those that hamstrung Gingrich.

Yet late last year, when Adelson at a Zionist Organization of America dinner presented the Adelson Defender of Israel award to Huckabee, he called the ordained Southern Baptist minister “a great politician,” as well as “a great person, a great American and a great Zionist.” Since then, the two have met privately twice — once with their spouses — and are “very good friends [who] share a deep commitment to Israel,” according to a source close to Huckabee.

Mel Sembler — a Florida mall developer, former U.S. ambassador to Italy and major GOP rainmaker — in 2012 urged Adelson to halt his Gingrich super PAC funding stream for the good of the party, as did fellow RJC board member Zeidman. As Sembler boarded a bus taking donors from Adelson’s Palazzo hotel to the Bush speech at the private hangar Thursday night, he suggested that Adelson may have recalibrated his approach based on the 2012 failure. “Sheldon has his own mind, but he’s learned. He’s learned a lot. He’s matured.”

Plus, Zeidman suggested that Adelson’s personal feelings on the various 2016 possibilities won’t factor into his decision as they did in 2012. “None of them have a 20-year history like Newt Gingrich did,” Zeidman said of the former House speaker’s relationship with Adelson.

The goal of hearing from the candidates was to start a vetting process that will produce a consensus — one that includes Adelson — of the best candidate, according to Sembler.

“We’re going to talk about that one,” he said. “We’re going to support the best candidate we can possibly get. That’s who we’re going to support.”

Adelson may have done that in his closed-door meetings with the candidates (he also met privately with House Speaker John Boehner, who was in town for other business). But when it came to the official RJC sessions, the mogul was often late and frequently seemed more interested in kibitzing than in official business. “He mingles pretty good,” remarked Rep. Billy Long of Missouri, as he left a Friday evening Shabbat dinner at which the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. spoke.

Adelson — who is not known as a morning person and also was nursing a cold — skipped Saturday morning speeches from Walker and former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. He entered the hall midway through Christie’s address, walking with the help of a bodyguard to a reserved seat in the front row as Christie talked about his governing style.

He showed up 20 minutes late to a Friday morning RJC board meeting, zipping up to the entrance on his scooter flanked by two Hebrew-speaking bodyguards, one of whom helped him to his feet to walk into the meeting. As other board members queued up to greet him, Adelson perused the breakfast buffet of bagels, lox, pastries and eggs, using his fingers to sample a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese in a serving bowl. The spread was certified kosher by Rabbi Tzvi Braunstein and the Chabad of Southern Nevada, according to an agenda.

“Who let you in here?” he demanded when POLITICO approached. “You can’t come in. This is a private meeting,” he said, rejecting a question about whether he’d try to avoid a costly and protracted primary this time around. “You can ask anything you want, but you’ll have to talk to the wall, because I’m not talking to you,” he said, as one of his bodyguards stepped in, ushered POLITICO from the room, and later called hotel security to bar the reporter from the adjacent hallways.

At the meeting, board members got a briefing on Senate races and were informed of efforts by the group to assist hawkish allies including Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and GOP Senate nominee Bill Cassidy of Louisiana in their 2014 Senate primaries. The weekend’s private events drew appearances by Reps. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Cory Gardner of Colorado, both running for Senate, as well as Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin.

Other closed-press sessions included a scotch tasting, a poker tournament and a panel on “the lessons of 2012 and the current path forward for the GOP.” Then there were VIP discussions and photo ops with former Vice President Dick Cheney, Walker and Kasich, four Jewish prayer services for the more devout, and a Saturday night gala featuring a speech by Cheney. He warned against “what I sense to be an increasing strain of isolationism, if I could put it in those terms, in our own party. It’s not taking over, by any means, but there is without question a body of thought now that’s supported by many Republicans and some candidates that the United States can afford to turn its back on that part of the world.”

Cheney said “it’s crucial” to have candidates with muscular foreign policies and for Republicans to “take back the Senate and take back the White House so we can deal with what has been developing” around the world.

Regardless of any shared ideology on foreign policy or other issues, an adviser to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum suggested it’s distasteful for the party’s prospective candidates to be flocking to court Adelson.

“It sets a bad precedent for a billionaire to say ‘come hither’ this early on, and some people actually do,” said John Brabender, who was a leading strategist on Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign and is helping him build a political foundation that could serve as a springboard to a 2016 campaign. Santorum, who is an ardent defender of Israel, didn’t attend the RJC meeting, and Brabender questioned the optics for the possible 2016 rivals who did. “I don’t know why any prospective candidate wants to be seen as the mainstream Republican, because that’s got negative connotations among most Republican primary voters.”

The narrative that holds Adelson went rogue in 2012 and now is realigning himself with the GOP mainstream is flawed, asserted RJC president Matt Brooks, who works closely with Adelson. “The notion that somehow he was a rube and got duped and made awful investments in 2012, and has all these lessons to learn, is misreading what happened,” said Brooks. “The fact is, Republicans got wiped out all across the board. So it’s not like everybody else won and he was the outlier who put his money into losing causes.”

Except that Adelson is distinct from other conservative megadonors in his willingness to choose sides in primaries, then go it alone, seemingly immune from peer pressure. The only conservative donors who rival his spending power, Charles and David Koch, mostly avoid major involvement in primary fights and focus instead on building consensus among a wide network of donors. Plus, they try — increasingly unsuccessfully — to keep a lower profile.

Still, there is growing overlap between Koch world and the Adelson-RJC crew, with Adelson attending a 2012 Koch donor seminar and Tim Phillips, president of the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity group, attending his first RJC meeting last weekend.

Democrats have mostly kept their deepest pockets in line, thanks to a smaller universe of super PACs and megadonors, and greater ideological unity — not to mention the rallying of deep pockets behind early presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton.

“The parties have to some degree switched procedures,” said Fleischer. “Republicans used to be the hierarchical, organized party.” Now, though, “Democrats, because they have the White House, and because so many of them are lined up behind Hillary, if she runs, are the hierarchical party, at least for the moment.”

Still, he said, all it takes is one headstrong billionaire to throw everything into chaos, and nobody can stop it.

“If you think that people like Sheldon or George Soros or Tom Steyer are going to be influenced by the thinking of others, you don’t know the mindset of highly successful, entrepreneurial individuals who have made it their own way their whole lives,” said Fleischer. “At the end of the day, these individuals are going to do what they think is the best right thing to do, and it may not necessarily be reflective of the good of the greater party.”

Also on POLITICO:

2016ers woo Vegas donor crowd

Christie apologizes for ‘occupied territories’

Kasich bonds with Adelson in Vegas

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia sanctions killing German companies: MP

Press TV – May 5, 2015

A German lawmaker has condemned the European Union and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s anti-Russia policy, saying the EU bans are destroying the country’s businesses, with dozens of reported bankruptcies.

Franz Wiese, a Brandenburg lawmaker and member of the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party, made the remarks on Monday.

“Approved by the European Union and conducted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the anti-Russian sanctions policy is destroying small and medium businesses in Brandenburg as well as in the rest of the country,” said Wiese.

According to Wiese, Merkel’s anti-Russia policy has so far resulted in the bankruptcy of 90 German companies.

Wiese’s remarks came a day after neighboring Czech Republic’s President Miloš Zeman criticized the Western sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, describing the policy as counterproductive and provocative. Zeman also called for the immediate abandonment of such bans.

Western powers have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over accusations that Moscow is involved in the deadly crisis in neighboring Ukraine, which broke out when Kiev launched military operations against pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine last year. Russia has denied the allegation.

In a tit-for-tat measure, Moscow imposed yearlong food bans on the United States, the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway in August last year.

The move is estimated to cost European agricultural industries millions of dollars in damage. Prior to the food ban, Russia received a quarter of its produce from the EU nations.

On April 27, Russia said it will tighten an existing ban on the import of fruits and vegetables from Bulgaria over concerns that Sofia may be attempting to send European products into Russia, using false documents.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

US State Department ignorant on oil industry interests, threatens investors

Press TV – May 5, 2015

The US State Department says it cannot confirm a report that an American oil delegation plans to visit Tehran within the next few days to discuss business.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters at a daily press briefing that it is difficult to verify the report since “not a single individual or company is identified” in it.

Rathke was reacting to an announcement by Abbas Sheri Moqadam, Iran’s deputy petroleum minister, that a US oil delegation is scheduled to travel to Tehran this week “to hold talks with a number of Iranian petroleum ministry officials as well as oil industry contractors.”

Rathke said he wouldn’t “speculate about a visit” which “has not even been confirmed and the nature of which is completely obscure right now.”

“It’s hard to verify whether these reports are accurate at all,” he said, “but also we’ve been quite clear that we don’t consider Iran to be open for business yet, and that if there is any sanctionable activity happening, then we will take action.”

Sheri Moqadam, who heads Iran’s National Petrochemical Company (NPC), had been quoted by the country’s Mehr News Agency as saying that “oil dealers and investors from the US are scheduled to have a business tour of Iranian oil industry and meet with Iranian authorities.”

In response to a question about legal restrictions for American companies in Iran, he had explained that to invest in Iran, companies are required to “register an Iranian company and as a result there is no boundary for foreigners to invest in Iran.”

“It is predicted that following the visit by the American delegation to Tehran and possible removal of sanctions against the oil industry, we will witness the presence of major international US oil and gas companies in Iran in future,” Sheri Moqadam added.

Washington has imposed a series of draconian sanctions on Iran that prevent American firms from trading with Iran and investing in its oil sector projects.

Some of the sanctions are expected to be removed if Iran and the P5+1 reach a final agreement over the country’s nuclear energy activities. The agreement has a deadline of June 30th and its fate is still not clear. However, global traders are already looking into the prospects of investing in the Iranian market.

Tehran has been hosting major trade delegations from Europe and Asia over the past few weeks. A surprise visit by an American trade team made headlines in Tehran last month in what many believed was a sign that the taboo over the presence of US companies in the country was already breaking.

The delegation was comprised of 22 US entrepreneurs, investors and consultants who were reportedly visiting the country to study post-sanctions investment potentials.

Sheri Moqadam, in another report by Shana news agency affiliated with the Ministry of Petroleum, has been quoted as referring to the visit by the same American trade team in Tehran. This, he said, could be the start of the presence of companies from the US in Iran’s 20th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition – the Oil Show.

“The presence of expert and experienced staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have given us the confidence to be optimistic about the participation of foreign companies in this year’s Oil Show,” the official has told Shana.

The Show will open in Tehran on May 6 and will continue until May 9. Iranian officials have already told the media that a large number of national and international companies operating in various areas down the oil chain will participate in this year’s exhibition.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment