CNN Decries “Fake News” Websites (Then Stealth Edits Its Own Article)

There is a plague of "fake news" apparently, and CNN is here to help you 'dear voter' see through the deception to the Clinton-campaign-confirmed narrative you should be paying attention. While it not enough that we have pointed out CNN's numerous questionable actions (here, here, and here), along with today's news of Donna Brazile's resignation, but just this weekend CNN was caught 'stealth editing' false claims made against Trump. Fake news indeed…

It's time for a new rule on the web according to CNN's Brian Stelter: Double, no, triple check before you share. Especially if it seems too good to be true.

Why? Look no further than Donald Trump's Twitter account. Trump claimed Sunday morning that "Twitter, Google and Facebook are burying the FBI criminal investigation of Clinton."


Not only was there no proof of this, but it was pretty easy to disprove. The FBI email inquiry was at the top of Google News; FBI director James Comey's name was at the top of Facebook's "trending" box; and Twitter's "moments" section had a prominent story about the controversy.


Nevertheless, Trump's wrong-headed "burying" claim was his most popular tweet of the day. About 25,000 accounts retweeted it and almost 50,000 "liked" it, helping the falsehood spread far and wide.


The rise of social media has had many upsides, but one downside has been the spread of misinformation. Fake news has become a plague on the Web, especially on social networks like Facebook. As I said on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" on CNN, unreliable sources about this election have become too numerous to count.
So that's what I recommended a "triple check before you share" rule.


New web sites designed to trick and mislead people seem to pop up every single day. For their creators, the incentives are clear: more social shares mean more page views mean more ad dollars.


Trump may have gotten the idea from an inaccurate Zero Hedge blog post alleging a "social media blackout." The blog post contained false information.

However, Stelter has one small problem, Fox's Maria Bartiromo proved this "bias" live in real-time when she confirmed that social media sites most trending headlines did not include the FBI emails…

So either Fox is another "fake news" site, or – in this case – Stelter is wrong?

But then CNN tried to catch Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a heavily compromising position over comments he made at a rally in Colorado. However, as reports, there was only one catch – Trump didn’t say what they thought he said. And, when the network realized the mistake, they tried to stealthily cover it up.

In the original article, they highlighted Trump saying the following:


“If you go to university center, they’ll give you a new ballot, they’ll void your old ballot, in some places they do that four or five times, so by tomorrow, almost everyone will have their new ballots in.”


Yeah, that’s pretty damning, right? It sure as hell seems like the GOP candidate is pressing his followers to try to cast multiple ballots. Yet, it takes away the context, in which Trump says that they won’t do that.


Here is what he actually said.


“If you go to university center, they’ll give you a new ballot, they’ll void your old ballot. They’ll give you a new ballot, and you can go out and make sure it get’s in. Now in some places, they do that four or five times, but we don’t do that. So by tomorrow, almost everyone will have their new ballots in.”


More, it appears that Trump is questioning the system itself, much as he has done throughout the past few weeks where he’s complained about voter fraud and a “rigged” election.


Somewhere along the way, someone must have noticed this at CNN and stealth edited the piece, changing the entire quote. It now reads as follows:


“They’ll give you a ballot, a new ballot. They’ll void your old ballot, they will give you a new ballot. And you can go out and make sure it gets in,” Trump said.

Registered voters in Colorado automatically receive a ballot in the mail, but can request a new ballot or vote in person if they have not yet mailed in a completed ballot.

“In some places they probably do that four or five times. We don’t do that. But that’s great,” Trump said Sunday, appearing to hint at the possibility of voter fraud in Colorado, a rare prospect Trump has continued to hammer on the stump.



At 10:10 PM last night: CNN deleted the tweet (which had been retweeted 926 times) around 10:07 PM ET. The tweet was up for over two and a half hours. Below is a screenshot of it…


*  *  *

So we agree with Stelter – be very careful on the web of "fake news" – it's everywhere in the mainstream.


via Tyler Durden

Valeant Plunges On BBG Report Former CEO, CFO Are Focus Of Criminal Probe For Accounting Fraud

While details are still lacking, moments ago Valeant stock plunged on a Bloomberg report that the Ex-CEO and ex-CFO are the target of a criminal probe due to accounting fraud.

According to Bloomberg, U.S. prosecutors are focusing on Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ former CEO and CFO as they build a fraud case against the company that could yield charges within weeks, according to people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reports.

On the news, VRX stock, which has had many aborted attempts to break solidly above the $20 level, just got dragged back in the teens.


via Tyler Durden

Pill-Induced Abortions on the Rise in America. Why That’s a Good Thing

A growing percentage of legal abortions in America are being induced via drugs, not surgery, with 43 percent of abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics relying on this method in 2014. That’s up from 35 percent in 2010, according to a Reuters analysis of clinic data. And in states without strong legal restrictions on abortion pills, the rates relative to surgical abortion were even higher. In Michigan, they comprised 55 percent of all abortions and in Iowa, 64 percent.

The two medications used for drug-induced abortions in America—mifepristone and misoprostol—were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 16 years ago. “The method was expected to quickly overtake the surgical option, as it has in much of Europe,” Reuters notes. “But U.S. abortion opponents persuaded lawmakers in many states to put restrictions on their use.”

Most of these state restrictions have been rooted in religion, ideology, and politics rather than good-faith concern for women’s safety. Taking mifepristone and misoprostol to terminate a pregnancy—aka medical abortion (in contrast with surgical abortion)—has been found just as safe if not safer than surgical abortion, and it doesn’t require a woman to be put under anesthesia or undergo an invasive procedure. Even more revolutionary, this sort of abortion doesn’t require—at least not for medical reasons—a visit to a hospital or any sort of specialized abortion clinic, nor the employ of a specialized doctor. After a basic health check-up and an ultrasound to determine gestational age (the pill regimen is only recommended and approved up to 10 weeks pregnancy), the whole process involves ingesting one pill and, within the next 72 hours, ingesting another pill.

This isn’t to say medical abortion is an easy process for women, who report extreme cramping, nausea, and other difficulties for a few hours to a few days after taking the pills. But it is, for many women, easier than obtaining a surgical abortion, with one of the biggest benefits being that it can cost significantly less. This, combined with its ability to take place outside a special health facility, makes it much more accessible to rural and low-income women. And increased accessibility may lead, in turn, to earlier pregnancy terminations.

Since medical abortion has been legal in the U.S., the percentage of abortions performed in the first six weeks gestation has grown significantly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of U.S. abortions occurring within the first six weeks of pregnancy rose 24 percent between 2003 and 2012. Meanwhile, the percentage of abortions occurring at or after 13 weeks remained relatively unchanged. This means the biggest shift was from abortions occurring between weeks six and 13 toward those occurring between weeks one and six.

This doesn’t necessarily mean medical abortions drove the shift to earlier abortions, but it is one plausible (partial) explanation, given the simultaneous growth in medical abortions as a share of overall (and especially early-term) procedures. Between 2001 and 2011, medical abortions went from 6 percent of all abortions to 23 percent, according to the CDC’s most recent report.

Some have worried that the increased availability of abortion drugs has or will lead to an increase in the total number of abortions that occur in America. But so far, these fears seem to be unfounded: between 2002 and 2011, the total number of U.S. abortions decreased 13 percent, according to the CDC. The abortion rate—the number of abortions per every 1,000 women ages 15- to 44-years-old—was also down, by 14 percent, to 13.9 abortions per 1,000 women. And this rate is down from nearly 30 abortions per 1,000 women in 1980.

The bottom line is that U.S. women are both getting fewer abortions and, when they do, having them earlier in their pregnancies. And a big part of the latter may be due to drug-induced abortion. But many state legislatures have passed or tried to pass laws strictly limiting where, when, and how it could be prescribed and administered, including insisting the pill must be prescribed in a building that meets the requirements for ambulatory surgical centers, banning partial-telemedicine appointments, and requiring doctors to use an outdated protocol that meant more medication and more in-person clinic visits than necessary. These are efforts that should be opposed by not just abortion-rights activists or the radically pro-choice but anyone who believes abortion should be legal in the first trimester at least, believes medical policy should be driven by science not religion, and/or wants to encourage women who do choose abortion to do so as early as possible.

There has been some good news on this front lately. Earlier in 2016, the FDA finally revised its outdated guidelines for prescribing the mifepristone and misoprostol regimen. Under the new rules, doctors can prescribe the abortion pills up to 10 weeks or pregnancy, among other things. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said it was “pleased that the updated F.D.A.-approved regimen for mifepristone reflects the current available scientific evidence and best practices.”

Reuters suggests that drug-induced abortions likely make up a larger percentage of U.S. abortion procedures (at Planned Parenthood and elsewhere) since the FDA change, which took place after the most recent Planned Parenthood data was collected. “In three states most impacted by that change – Ohio, Texas and North Dakota – demand for medication abortions tripled in the last several months,” Reuters found from talking to clinics, state health departments and Planned Parenthood affiliates in these states.

from Hit & Run

Saudi Finance Minister Al Assaf Fired On Royal Orders

While mostly taking place behind the scenes, it has been a rather calamitous month for developments in Saudi Arabia: one day before the record, inaugural  $17.5 billion Saudi bond priced, news broke that for the first time, a member of the Saudi Royal Family, had been executed for murder in what until then had been an unprecedented fall from grace for a member of the chosen royal elite.

The very next day, as virtually everyone in the bond market knows, Saudi Arabia priced a massively oversubcribed – the first of its kind – international bond issue, taking advantage of rising oil prices on the back of Saudi jawboning about an OPEC production freeze deal which now appears unreachable (oil is down 4% as of this moment). The deal was seen by most as a major success for the Kingdom, one whose proceeds the local authorities had started to spend just as soon as the wire transfers were executed to get thousands of government staffers back to work.

So it is perhaps quite surprising that less than 2 weeks after this historic bond sale, moments ago we learned thatthe long-serving Saudi finance minister had been relieved of his post on Royal orders.

As Al Jazeera reports, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz issued a Royal decree to appoint Mohammed Al-Jadaan as the new finance minister on Monday to replace Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf.

Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al Assaf speaks to the media

Jaddan had previously been the chairman of the Saudi Capital Market Authority. He replaces Ibrahim Alassaf, who has been  appointed minister of state and a member of the council of ministers, according to the royal decree.

While details of the transition are scarce, and it is unclear how Al-Assaf displeased the Saudi King, this is further evidence that a major power struggle is taking place behind the scenes, and whereas the terminated finmin should have been commended for his bond sale, the fact that he is being punished suggests that there is significiant infighting in the royal family, which will likely result in even more financial and political fallout for Saudi Arabia in the coming year, especially if oil continues its recent decline.

via Tyler Durden

When It Comes To Household Income, Sweden & Germany Rank With Kentucky

Submitted by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Last year, I posted an article titled "If Sweden and Germany Became US States, They Would be Among the Poorest States" which, produced a sizable and heated debate, including that found in the comments below this article at The Washington Post. The reason for the controversy, of course, is that it has nearly reached the point of dogma with many leftists that European countries enjoy higher standards of living thanks to more government regulation and more social benefits. What the data really suggests, however, is that even after social benefits are incorporated into the income data, the median American still has a higher income than most European countries. 

Since I published that analysis last October, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based in Paris has updated the numbers. Here is the ranking straight fom the latest "Society at a Glance" report from the OECD:

The comparisons were based on a measure of income known as "annual median equivalized disposable household income." The measure attempts to take into account the realities of taxes and social benefits, and thus provide a more practical estimate for differences in household income among countries. The data is also adjusted for purchasing power parity, which means it's taking differences in purchasing power in different countries into account. Moreover, median income is more helpful when there may be large income inequalities at work. Use of a median measure instead of an average reduces the effect of a small number of extremely rich people skewing up the numbers. 

In the updated measure, we can see that the United States is in fourth place behind Luxembourg, Norway, and Switzerland. The US comes in at $29,100, while Luxembourg's median income level is at 36,400. 

The US's median income is 79% the size of Luxembourg's while Sweden's median income (to name one often-touted example) is 83% the size of the US's. 

These comparisons are only at the national level, of course, and one of the largest problems with comparing the US to other countries, is that the US is much larger than every European country. This is true even of Russia, which has less than half as many people as the US. 

Many countries — especially the smaller ones, including all the Scandinavian countries — are composed of only a handful of metropolitan areas, often with fewer than ten million people. The US, by contrast is very large, and very diverse in terms of geography and demographics. The US has more than 320 million people. Consequently, any statistic for the "United States" ends up burying within it the often-sizable differences from state to state and from metro area to metro area. 

For example, if we adjust state incomes to match up with our disposable income measure, we find there can be notable differences from state to state. While it's true that the wealth and income differences have become much smaller since the 1940s, gaps remain: 

To incorporate individual states into the analyis,  I have looked at how the Census Bureau's median income for each state stacks up against the US median income overall. I've then adjusted the OECD measure to be proportional to that.….) New Hampshire, for example, was 1.3, reflecting the fact that the median income in NH is higher than that of the US overall. The same calculation produces a result of .77 for Mississippi. I then took these same values for all states and multipled by the OECD disposable-income value of $29,100 for the United States overall. So, NH was 29,100 * 1.3 which equals 39,350. In Mississippi, the calculation is 291,00 * .77 which equals 22,535. “>1

While it is a rather crude means of adjusting the data, can see that the result is plausible. A wide variety of other measures of state-level wealth routinely put Massachusetts — for example — above national levels, while measures of Arkansas put it below national levels.  

The next step, then, is to compare these values to the OECD's values for each country. Obviously, any country with a disposable income measure above that of the US overall will find itself with an income level above most US states. At the same time, a country with a disposable income measure below that of the US overall is likely to find itself ranked below many US states. 

When we graph them all together we find: 

The US overall is the red bar and all US states are blue bars. This provides us with a sense of how foreign countries would compare were these places part of the US. Were Norway a US state, it would rank between Delaware and California, which are among the US's more urbanized and wealthy states. Sweden and Germany, on the other hand, place closely to Kentucky, which is sixth from the bottom for US states in terms of median income. 

Last year, similar analysis showed that Sweden ranked 12th from the bottom. The analysis used in that article was somewhat more complicated in which I attempted to adjust the cost of living, in very cheap-to-live states like Arkansas, to account for the fact that these places were far less expensive than most areas of Western Europe. Theoretically, that should have increased the real median incomes in cheaper states.  This time, I have opted for a simpler analysis with no adjustment for cost of living, and have taken the OECD median income numbers straight from their publications without any of my own adjustments for purchasing power parity. 

Nevertheless, the slight change in method produced no large changes in the result. Sweden and Germany do rank lower this time around, although the overall result is simply that most European countries — aside from the wealthiest small countries like Switzerland and Norway — fall within the bottom third of the United States. When making comparisons, however, it is best to not read too much into difference of a mere few hundred dollars. For example, all states and countries in the $24,000 range (i.e., Belgium, Sweden, Montana, South Carolina) should all simply be regarded as more-or-less alike. The difference between Colorado and Canada, on the other hand, is a sizable gap of more than $7,000. 

As with the last time I published this analysis, there is no doubt that many defenders of the European interventionist states will protest that income is not the only measure of the standard of living. This is true enough. Income data cannot capture the realities of comparing living standards all by themselves. Income measures, are, however, certainly more objective than many living-standard measures such as feelings of happiness or well being, which are often put forward as important for making comparisons between countries. 

Certainly, one of the more important measures to be considered in light of income data is the household wealth data. By this measure, we do indeed find that many countries report higher household wealth than the US. I discuss many of the details here in "Why Do Americans Have Such High Incomes and So Little Savings?" However, even in that case, household wealth in the US comparable to that found in Germany, Denmark, and Spain. In other words, those countries are characterized by both income levels and wealth levels that fall below that found in the US overall. 

While there are indeed many quality-of-life aspects that make the Western European welfare states attractive, this analysis shows that it cannot be said that it is self-evident that the standard of living throughout Western Europe is higher thanks to the region's presumably lavish welfare states.

via Tyler Durden

‘Conspiracy Vs. Government’ Is Elite Propaganda Justifying Violent Repression

Via The Daily Bell

 ‘Conspiracy Vs. Government’ Is Elite Propaganda Justifying Violent Repression


The rise of paranoid politics could make America ungovernable – and the FBI is fuelling the fire … Nothing can disprove the fears of a paranoiac. Indeed, everything confirms them …   It takes away politicians’ incentive to understand one another and get things done. It says that if you scream loud enough, established norms will buckle under the pressure. And while those norms might be annoying and flawed, we’ll all miss them if they go.  –UK Telegraph

With US belief in “conspiracy theory” over 50 percent (see our previous article here) elites are showing increasingly concern that they have lost control of their narrative.

This article again illustrates elite push back. The article explains that if people grow paranoid about government, then the “norms” of government will collapse.

Conspiracy theory is called “paranoid politics” in this article but it amounts to the same thing.

The article also has parallels to an article we analyzed recently here by Cass Sunstein. His Bloomberg editorial suggested that nothing was more important from a political standpoint than returning “civility” to Congress and politics generally.

This article runs along the same lines: Negative perceptions of the US government can make the process of “governing” dysfunctional.


Take the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory: the idea that the white trails left behind in the sky by aeroplanes are sinister chemicals dispersed to sterilise or control voters.


If a government declares there is “no evidence” of such chemicals, that itself must be clear evidence that there’s something “they” don’t want us to know. But if that government were to open up an investigation, that too would be incontrovertible proof: “they” must have found something.

Let’s reverse this reasoning (leaving aside the chemtrail controversy itself). Apparently, one can’t question much that government does because skepticism puts government in a no-win situation.

Better to accept official pronouncements, then. The only trouble is that almost anything modern Western governments say is a lie

Governments aren’t even important these days. The world from what we can tell is run by a small banking elite that controls the awesome power of  central banks and the money they print.

The trillions available to this small group has allowed it to change the nature of society around the world.

The goal is global government and it seems every kind of violence and corruption is employed to achieve it.

Secrecy is still employed by those creating “one world.” Thus those involved in creating global governance never admit the scope and details of its implementation.

But in the past several decades, the Internet has credibly exposed plans for world government. As a result, people have lost faith in mainstream media, politicians and capitalism itself.

This is the reason for the rise in “conspiracy theory” and “paranoid politics.”

This is also the reason elites would like to shut down the Internet, or at least control it more thoroughly.

Part of the push for control involves making a case that the Internet needs to be better regulated and appropriately censored.

To this end, elite propaganda has been aimed at justifying various anti-‘Net actions.

One justification involves the “populism versus globalism” meme we’ve covered extensively. (Just use a search engine for the phrase and “Daily Bell.”)

Another justification – another emergent meme – is that government itself is jeopardized by pervasive distrust.

One would think the answer would be to lie less, but this is not the conclusion we’re being given.

Both Sunstein in his article, and now the argument in this article, show us clearly that the solution to pervasive electoral cyncism and worse is to better control one’s attitude.

In other words, paranoia and conspiratorial cynicism need to be damped for government to survive and perform its proper function.


Why, then, did a seasoned operator like Mr Comey, whose judiciousness was praised by the Clinton campaign through the summer, feel the need to divulge this half-baked and potentially insignificant development before assessing it? There is one answer: fear of the mob.


The director of the FBI – those tough guys who smash in doors and shoot people – was scared that if he didn’t talk now and the news leaked out, it would confirm every conspiracy theory going about how the agency was in the Clintons’ pocket. In other words, we’ve reached a point in the politics of the world’s most powerful democracy where the appearance of probity matters more than the reality.

This is a key point in the article. It is one that fully reveals the cognitive dissonance at the heart of this particular argument. The idea is that government is too delicate to sustain itself in the face of the “mob.” The mob must therefore be silenced or “probity will matter more than reality.”

But who is to determine what constitutes a “mob”? And who is determine that the mob’s “reality” is false?

Both the Sunstein article and now this one are erecting very specific kinds of arguments. Yet the Internet and its recovered history shows us clearly that Western governments mostly provide concealment for the world’s real powers that prefer to operate behind the scenes.

This is the reason for so much cynicism. Many have realized that the society constructed around them is lie. They have reacted by distrusting almost anything associated with modern society.

But in these articles, we can see the forces being marshaled against this state of mind. The preferred antidote is simply to assert that people’s distrust is corrosive to government authority and democracy generally.

No logic bolsters this argument. That’s why it is an emergent elite meme.

The goal of an elite meme is to be convincing not truthful.

And if it is not convincing – and increasingly elite memes are not – then its function is, anyway, to provide a justification for what we call directed history. These are the authoritarian strategies that elites wish to inflict on the rest of us.

This latter meme is an outgrowth of “populism versus globalism.” Populists, as we’ve pointed out, are being cast as ignorant, violent and intolerant. The current meme – let’s call it “conspiracy versus government” – lumps in conspiracy with populism.

Populists, we learn, are apt to adopt an irrational distrust of government. And what is government? It must comprise all that is good and virtuous in an uncivil world.

Both populists and conspiracy theory are to be vanquished, eventually, by wise globalists who understand that the absence of government will lead to violent “anarchy.”

It’s just not true. Government is merely in this day-and-age a curtain hiding the world’s real controllers who use endless violence, monetary debasement and economic depression to get their way.

Conclusion: We are watching the emergence of a new, dangerous memes. Increasingly and forcefully, it is being argued that “government” is good and that the truths people have discovered about their lives and society are destabilizing to government, and therefore “bad.” The idea will be to use these memes to make a case for increased censorship and even, eventually, violent repression – and worse.

Via The Daily Bell

 ‘Conspiracy Vs. Government’  Is Elite Propaganda Justifying Violent Repression

For nearly a decade, The Daily Bell has tracked elite propaganda on a daily basis.  

via TDB

The Story of How the DOJ Tried to Thwart an FBI Investigation Into the Clinton Foundation


Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a fascinating and troubling article detailing how aggressively the Department of Injustice moved to stymie efforts of FBI agents who wanted to investigate pay-to-play criminality with regard to the Clinton Foundation. Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. The Justice Department under President Obama never met a powerful person it cared to prosecute. Indeed, under Eric Holder’s crony reign (same now with Loretta Lynch), it’s been apparent for a very long time that senior leadership at the DOJ see the institution’s primary role to be the coddling and protection of oligarch criminals, especially those in the financial sector (see: Must Watch Video – “The Veneer of Justice in a Kingdom of Crime”).

The death of the rule of law in America, otherwise known as the two-tier justice system, has been a key topic of mine since the very beginning. In fact, I think it is the number one cancer plaguing our society at this time. As I warned in the 2014 post, New Report – The United States’ Sharp Drop in Economic Freedom Since 2000 Driven by “Decline in Rule of Law”:

continue reading

from Liberty Blitzkrieg

Hacked Podesta Email Reveals Clinton Foundation “Coercing” Saudi Billionaire For Millions Of Dollars

In one of the more prominent early Podesta email revelations, we learned that Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al-‘Amoudi, a Saudi Arabian and Ethiopian billionaire businessman, whose net worth was estimated at Forbes at $8.3 billion as of 2016, was one of the very generous donors to the Clinton Foundation.

As a November 2011 email from Ira Magaziner, Vice Chairman and CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, sent to John Podesta and Amitabh Desai, Director of Foreign Policy at the Clinton Foundation, revealed, the “CHAI [Clinton Health Access Initiative] would like to request that President Clinton call Sheik Mohammed to thank him for offering his plane to the conference in Ethiopia and expressing regrets that President Clinton’s schedule does not permit him to attend the conference.”

To this, the response by Desai was a simple one: “Unless Sheikh Mo has sent us a $6 million check, this sounds crazy to do.

At this point, Doug Band, Bill Clinton’s former chief advisor and current president of the infamous Teneo Holding Doug Band, chimed in that it probably is a good idea: “If he doesn’t do it Chai will say he didn’t give the money bc of wjc” an assessment which John Podesta agreed with: “this seems rather easy and harmless and not a big time sink.”

* * *

To be sure, this exchange suggested that a substantial amount of cash had or was about to be exchanged between the Clinton Foundation and the Saudi “Sheikh Mo”, as shown in the photo below.

However, the details were missing: the originalemail from Ira Magaziner referenced a specific briefing memo which contained in it the talking points updaing on the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and The Saudi billionaire:

Ed Wood has prepared a briefing memo for President Clinton about the call which is attached

Now, courtesy of today’s latest Podesta email release we have access to the missing memo.

The leaked memo lays out the facts on the Clinton Foundation trying to collect on Sheik Mohammed’s overdue donor commitment to CHAI. Notably, the memo gives the inference of the Sheik being shaken down by the Foundation in that the Foundation was demanding an immediate $6 million payment in return for WJC attending the 2011 International Conference on AIDS and STIs (ICASA) event.  Additionally the Foundation apparently enlisted the assistance of the US Ambassador to Ethiopia to obtain payments from the Sheik.

The memo initially lays out Bill Clinton’s history with the Sheik:

In the first bullet point we find what the initial “bid” and “ask” would be between WJC/CF and the Saudi billionaire: $2 million for every year that Bill Clinton visit Ethiopia. This, however, was subsequently changed to an greement whereby the Saudi would give $2 million per year but without any reference to visiting Ethiopia:

Sheik Mohammed approached CHAI in 2006 shortly after we opened an office in Addis Ababa.  He proposed  that he would give $2 million to CHAI every year that YOU visited Ethiopia.   We eventually negotiated an Agreement with his Washington attorney, George Salem, in which he agreed to fund CHAI at a rate of $2 million per year for 10 years.   They rejected any proposals to put a payment schedule in the agreement, but dropped any reference tying the donation to YOU visiting Ethiopia

The next bullet lays out the initial fund transfer of $2 million in London, as well as the broad terms of the agreement whose “requirement is that the money be spent within Ethiopia.” Amusingly, the memo then notes that during negotiations the Saudi delegation “rejected our proposal that some of the money could be used for global overhead.

The Agreement was officially signed at a meeting in London in May 2007 by the Sheik and Bruce, after which the Sheik presented you with a a check for $2 million for the 2007 payment.    The Agreement is very general and does not require any specific proposals from CHAI for how the money will be spent or any reporting.  The only requirement is that the money be spent within Ethiopia.  During negotiations they rejected our proposal that some of the money could be used for global overhead.

We then learn that more cash transfers took place in the coming years, despite the Sheik having “cash flow problems” which resulted in a bulk payment of $4 million in 2010 for missed payments in 2008 and 2009.

Through 2008 and early 2009, we were told the Sheik was having some cash flow problems and that he was delaying payments for many commercial and philanthropic commitments he had in Ethiopia.  In January 2010 at a Foundation donors meeting in Harlem, Ambassador Irvin Hicks, one of the Sheik’s representatives in the U.S. and a former Ethiopian ambassador appointed by YOU  presented to YOU a check for $4 million representing payment for 2008 and 2009.

The memo then tells WJC just why the relationship was created in the first place: “The Sheik’s contribution supports most of CHAI’s activities in Ethiopia, one of its most important and successful country programs.”

A section then follow which reminds Bill Clinton just who Sheikh Mohammed is, and that the two had spent time together in his “private suite at a nightclub attached to the Sheraton” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

YOU first met the Sheik in July 2006 during a visit to Addis.   He visited your suite in the Sheraton Hotel, which he owns, for coffee and then after dinner YOU dropped into his private suite at a nightclub attached to the Sheraton.  He had invited YOU there especially because he thought you would enjoy the saxophone player.   You chatted with the Sheik and played the saxophone with the band.   Shortly after this visit negotiations began in earnest regarding the $20 million commitment the Sheik has made to CHAI.


YOU met the Sheik in London in May, 2007, at which time the Agreement was signed and the first $2 million check was received. 


YOU stayed at the Sheraton in July 2008 during your last Ethiopia visit, but the Sheik was not in Ethiopia at the time.  The Sheik donated the rooms and meals for the large party during an extended four-day visit, two days longer than originally planned because of aircraft problems.

Where things get interesting is in the memo’s discussion of the current (as of November 2011) situation, in which we learn that once again the Saudi billionaire was behind on his payments due to the current economic downturn:

Once again, we are told that the current economic down turn has caused the Sheik to delay payments for several commitments.  CHAI has not received the 2010 or 2011 payments.  We have contacted both George Salem, the lawyer, and Ambassador Hicks regarding payment.  Both say that the Sheik will make the payment but they have not been able to pinpoint an exact date.  

Recent complications did not make matters any easier, although the Sheikh had enough cash to provide Bill with a plane to attend the upcoming African AIDS conference:

In the past two months the effort to collect the payments for 2010-2011 has become complicated by factors surrounding ICASA, the biennial large African AIDS conference that will be held in Ethiopia the first week of December.   The previous two ICASA conference in Nigeria and Senegal were beset by logistical and financial problems and Prime  Minister Meles and Minister of Health Tedros have worked hard to make the Ethiopia ICASA the most successful ever.  They have enlisted Sheik Mohammed to help and he has donated the venue and paid for an additional $8-10 million of expenses.


Minister Tedros invited YOU to participate in ICASA, and apparently he or someone else connected with ICASA asked the Sheik if he would provide a plane to bring YOU to Ethiopia for the event.  The Sheik agreed to provide a plane, and instructed Ambassador Hicks to tell CHAI one would be available.

Where things get hot, and where the Clinton Foundation is accused of “coercion” by the Sheik’s Washington attorney George Salem, is in the negotiation over whether Clinton should come to Ethiopia without having been wired the funds up front, or if he should assume that the billionaire is “good for the money” and just fly out there on good will.

When George Salem spoke with the Sheik about the payment, he was told by the Sheik to make sure YOU knew that the Sheik would very much like for you to attend ICASA and that he would provide transportation.  In response, Bruce told George that if the Sheik would wire $6 million to the Foundation for 2010-2012 that he would make sure YOU attended ICASA.  After Bruce’s stroke, George told Ed Wood of CHAI that the Sheik said he did not like “coercion” and that we should know that he was “good for the money.”  George reiterated that the money would be paid, but could not give a date. 


The Sheik seems to feel that we asked him for transportation and then decided not to use it.   George and Ambassador Hicks have been told that the request for transportation did not originate with us, but we are not sure that the message reached the Sheik.

Ultimately the negotiations for Clinton flying to Ethiopia stalled, and appear to have fallen apart, leading to the original quote from the Clinton Foundation’s Amitabh Desai in which he said, as we noted earlier this month, that “Unless Sheikh Mo has sent us a $6 million check, this sounds crazy to do.” As a result, the memo gives WJC the following action point:

George Salem, Ambassador Hicks, and CHAI feel that it would be helpful if you would call the Sheik and thank him for offering the plane and saying you are sorry you can’t attend ICASA.   We don’t think it is necessary for YOU to bring up the payment issue directly. 

The memo concludes with the following talking points:

  • YOU should thank the Sheik for his support of all our efforts in Ethiopia, and especially for offering to provide a plane to bring you to the ICASA meeting.
  • YOU should express your regrets that you were not able to arrange your schedule to attend the ICASA meeting since you know how important it is to Ethiopia and to the Sheik.  You should express your appreciation that he has helped make this event possible during a difficult time for the international AIDS effort.
  • YOU should say you hope to be able to visit with the Sheik again soon either in Ethiopia or elsewhere.

* * *

This memo provide deep insight into how the “charitable” Clinton Foundation operated: absent being made whole on millions of dollars in payments – by a donor who had already provided it with $6 million in the past –  the “so very concerned” about AIDS and African welfare Foundation would not even bother to fly Bill Clinton for a 1-2 day trip to something as simple, and noble, as a healthcare conference: ultimately precisely what the Foundation is supposed to represent and support.

It also shows that when the Foundation found itself in arrears to a prominent donor, it first and only concern was how to get paid; all else – up to and including doing the absolute minimum such as appearing for a good cause, was secondary and – as the memo documents – ultimately irrelevant unless Clinton and the CF were both generously compensated for their efforts.

And that, in a nutshell is what the “generous and charitable” Clinton foundation was all about: make sure to get the money, the rest simply did not matter.

The full hacked memo is below and the source email can be found here.

via Tyler Durden

Top Hillary Clinton Adviser Thinks U.S. Should Attack Iran To Benefit Saudi Interests In Yemen

At your serviceOne of Hillary Clinton’s top national security advisers, Michael Morell (who also happens to be the former acting director of the CIA), told the staunchly pro-Clinton think tank the Center for American Progress that the upcoming U.S. presidential election provides a “great opportunity for the next president of the United States to go to the Middle East and say ‘We’re back, we’re going to lead again.'”

And what might the leadership that the Hillary Clinton administration imposes on a region halfway around the world look like?

Morell brought up the fact that Iran arms the Houthi rebels who have seized control of Yemen’s capital city Sanaa, to the great displeasure of nominal U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, which has spent much of the past two years bombing both military and civilian targets with U.S. support in an all-out effort to defeat the rebels and return to power the Saudi-allied President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Juxtaposing against what he must perceive as a lack of leadership from his former boss, President Barack Obama, Morell said:

I would have no problem, from a policy perspective, of having U.S. Navy board those ships and if there’s weapons on them for the Houthis, turn those ships around and send those ships back to Iran. I think that’s the kind of action, tough action that would get the attention of the Iranians and will get the attention of our friends in the region to say the Americans are now serious about helping us deal with this problem.

Make no mistake, what Morell just proposed is an act of war, which Bloomberg‘s Eli Lake aptly characterized as “something you might hear this month in an alternate reality, from the Rubio-Cheney campaign.” And if Clinton supporters think war with Iran is necessary or an exercise in “smart power,” that’s their right, but they should at least be honest about it. As Reason‘s Nick Gillespie wrote, “a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for war.”

While some might still be in denial that Clinton is a staunch hawk even neoconservatives can adore, Morell’s comments provide much-desired candor about Clinton’s foreign policy ambitions. The Democratic nominee has been able to remain infuriatingly vague on military matters throughout the campaign thanks in part to her opponent’s flailing incoherence and her general refusal to give press conferences.

But if one of her most senior national security advisers is willing to openly engage in this kind of saber-rattling while smilingly declaring, “We’re back,” it’s fair to expect more and grander military intervention under a President Clinton than we’ve experienced under President Obama.

from Hit & Run

Top Constitutional Law Expert: Comey Did NOT Violate Law By Announcing Email Investigation

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid alleges that FBI Director Comey has violated the law by announcing the re-opened investigation into Clinton emails so close to the presidential election.

Is he right?

One of the top constitutional law experts in the United States (and a liberal), Professor Jonathan Turley, says no:

[Reid’s] allegation is in my view wildly misplaced. Reid is arguing that the actions of FBI Director James B. Comey violates the Hatch Act. I cannot see a plausible, let alone compelling, basis for such a charge against Comey.


In his letter to Comey, Reid raised the the Hatch Act, which prohibits partisan politicking by government employees.

5 U.S.C. § 7323(a)(1) prohibits a government employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”


Reid argued:

“Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another. I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.”

The reference to “months” is curious. Comey has kept Congress informed in compliance with oversight functions of the congressional committees but has been circumspect in the extent of such disclosures. It is troubling to see Democrats (who historically favor both transparency and checks on executive powers) argue against such disclosure and cooperation with oversight committees. More importantly, the Hatch Act is simply a dog that will not hunt.


Richard W. Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota and the chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House from 2005 to 2007, has filed a Hatch Act complaint against Comey with the federal Office of Special Counsel and Office of Government Ethics. He argues that “We cannot allow F.B.I. or Justice Department officials to unnecessarily publicize pending investigations concerning candidates of either party while an election is underway.”


However, Comey was between the horns of a dilemma. He could be accused of acts of commission in making the disclosure or omission in withholding the disclosure in an election year. Quite frankly, I found Painter’s justification for his filing remarkably speculative. He admits that he has no evidence to suggest that Comey wants to influence the election or favors either candidate. Intent is key under the Hatch investigations.  You can disagree with the timing of Comey’s disclosure, but that is not a matter for the Hatch Act or even an ethical charge in my view.


Congress passed the Hatch Act in response to scandals during the 1938 congressional elections and intended the Act to bar federal employees from using “[their] official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” Comey is not doing that in communicating with Congress on a matter of oversight.


Such violations under the Hatch Act, even if proven, are not criminal matters. The Office of Special Counsel -can investigate such matters and seek discipline — a matter than can ultimately go before the Merit Systems Protection Board.

CNN confirms:

violators aren’t going to jail: the Hatch Act is not a criminal statute. Instead, it is an administrative constraint on government employees. The law is enforced by a special independent federal agency — the Office of Special Counsel — which is charged with investigating complaint allegations and, where found to be meritorious, either pursuing a settlement with the offending employee or prosecuting their case before the federal agency that oversees internal employment disputes — the Merit Systems Protection Board. And for presidential appointees like Comey, the Office of Special Counsel submits a report of its findings along with the employee’s response to the President, who makes a decision on whether discipline is warranted.




The Hatch Act provision most commonly invoked in discussions of Comey’s letter is 5 U.S.C. § 7323(a)(1), which prohibits a government employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”

The key text is the emphasized phrase — which conditions a violation of the statute on whether the employee’s purpose was to interfere with or affect the result of an election. Thus, the Hatch Act does not focus on the effect of the employee’s conduct, but the intent. To that end, if Comey did not intend to interfere with or affect the upcoming election through his letter to Congress, then he did not violate the letter of the Hatch Act.

Given that Obama doesn’t think Comey was trying to influence the election, this is a non-starter.

via George Washington