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“We Are Forced To Strike Back”: Russia Set To Expel 30 US Diplomats, Seize US Assets

Putin’s patience appears to have run out, and the Kremlin is set to expel around 30 US diplomats and freeze some US assets in a retaliatory move against Washington.

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When Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland last December, in response to alleged Russian interference in the election, Putin just smiled and said Russia would not retaliate, expecting that relations between Russia and the US would normalize under president Trump. Six months later, relations have not only not normalized but have deteriorated further following the latest round of sanctions against Russia despite daily allegations that Trump colluded with the Kremlin to convince several million Americans to vote against Hillary.

And, as a result, Putin’s patience appears to have run out, and according to Russian newspaper Izvestiya, the Kremlin is set to expel around 30 US diplomats and freeze some US assets in a retaliatory move against Washington.

Quoting a Foreign Ministry source, the Izvestiya newspaper says the move is due to the failure to reach an agreement on two Russian diplomatic compounds in the US seized by the outgoing Obama administration in December last year.

“There is a preliminary agreement on holding a meeting between Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon in St. Petersburg. If the compromise is not found there, we will have to take such measures,” a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told the Izvestiya newspaper.

Izvestiya also cited Andrey Klimov, a senator in the upper house of Russia’s parliament, who said that “Russia had already waited more than six months for the Trump administration to improve the relationship between the two countries” and was now forced to strike back.

“We are forced to draw a line and answer in a similar way,” Klimov told Izvestiya. “These moves are not meant as our attempts to show our negative attitudes toward the Trump administration but rather as evidence of the fact that Russia is a strong nation that deserves respectable treatment.”

The Russian newspaper adds that the decision came after Trump and Putin’s first meeting at the G20 Summit in Germany failed to produce an agreement on the lightening of US sanctions against Russia. The issue of the Russian diplomatic compounds was also raised at the Putin-Trump meeting in Hamburg, according to the Russian press reports.

And, as Trump and his family face fresh claims of collusion with the Kremlin, Putin’s patience over the non-return of the Russian compounds has run out.

According to the newspaper, while the administration plans to seize the American summer house in a forest region outside of Moscow and a warehouse in the center of the city, it will not touch the residence of the American ambassador and the American international school in St. Petersburg.

Photo: “Kremlin” by harry.popoff is licensed under CC BY

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Politics

Jared Kushner Reportedly Used Private Email For White House Business

Kushner continued to use a private email account that had been set up during the transition to communicate with fellow administration officials during Trump’s first nine months in office

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As if the flow of news on this warm September weekend wasn’t hectic enough thanks to President Trump’s decision to pick a fight with professional sports, Politico is out with the latest bombshell report alleging some nefarious act was committed by one of Trump’s closest advisors, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Politico reports that, in an ironic twist, Kushner continued to use a private email account that had been set up during the transition to communicate with fellow administration officials during Trump’s first nine months in office, even as Trump continued to bash his former rival’s mishandling of classified information on a private server during her time at the State Department.

While Politico places the implication of wrongdoing front and center in its story, it waits until lower down to provide a key piece of context from the White House communications department: “Kushner sent less than 100 emails from this account, and those that were sent consisted mostly of quips about news items and minor commentary.”

Liberals like to talk about the concept of false equivalence, especially in the context of how the media covered the Clinton email scandal vs. coverage of Trump’s more controversial pronouncements and business arrangements. That’s what this Kushner story appears to be. Judging by the description, it’s clear that Kushner didn’t rely on his private account to conduct public business, and only used it to send a handful of messages. More to the point, while he may have violated public-information guidelines, he did not improperly handle classified information.





“Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business,” Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner, said in a statement Sunday. “Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account. These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.”

Politico also noted that Kushner’s use of a private email account was part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business. Kushner allegedly used the private account to communicate with Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn and Josh Raffel.

Aides who have exchanged emails with Kushner on his private account since President Donald Trump took office in January include former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and spokesman Josh Raffel, according to emails described to or shown to POLITICO. In some cases, those White House officials have emailed Kushner’s account first, said people familiar with the messages.

…and then there’s this, six paragraphs in.

 There is no indication that Kushner has shared any sensitive or classified material on his private account, or that he relies on his private email account more than his official White House account to conduct government business. Aides say he prefers to call or text over using email.

And that’s not even the most glaring example of Politico’s tendency to leave key details that detract from the impression of wrongdoing until much later in the story.

Even further down, Politico admits that Kushner’s conduct may not violate the Presidential Records Act…

Private email traffic among White House aides — some of it sent between personal email accounts rather than to or from government addresses — could skirt the requirements of the Presidential Records Act, which requires all documents related to the president’s personal and political activities to be archived. Trump himself is not known to use email but occasionally has email messages to his assistant printed and presented to him.

…And, furthermore, that it couldn’t verify whether Kushner forwarded all work-related emails to his work account, which would render his behavior 100% legitimate. The White House is insisting he remained in compliance, and Politico hasn’t uncovered any evidence to discredit this claim.





Lowell said Kushner has adhered to government record-keeping requirements by forwarding all the emails to his account, though POLITICO could not verify that.

Other White House officials have also sometimes used personal accounts to correspond with Kushner and with each other, according to emails seen by POLITICO and people familiar with Kushner’s correspondence. They have also used encrypted apps like Signal and Confide that automatically delete messages, prompting former press secretary Sean Spicer in February to issue a warning to communications staffers that using such apps could violate the Presidential Records Act.

Politico then adds that private-email use in the Trump administration has been “somewhat common” despite Trump’s attacks on Clinton.

The use of personal email accounts in the Trump White House has been somewhat common, even though the president has been a harsh critic of Clinton’s private email habits, frequently leading “lock her up” chants as he traveled across the country on the campaign trail.

Politico also says Kushner and Ivanka Trump set up their private family domain late last year before moving to Washington from New York, according to people with knowledge of events as well as publicly available internet registration records. At the time, Kushner, who served as a senior campaign adviser, was expected to be named to a White House role, while Ivanka Trump was publicly saying she didn’t plan to work in her father’s administration, though she ended up taking an unpaid role with an office in the West Wing. People familiar with the account say it was primarily set up for personal use, but that Kushner has used it to communicate with acquaintances outside the White House about matters relating to Trump and the administration, according to people who have received messages.

Ivanka has an email account on the same domain, but there’s no indication she used her account for work purposes.

So is Kushner’s sending of work-related notes from his private email account a major violation on par with Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information? Or just another mainstream attack on Kushner, meant to dilute the Hillary Clinton email narrative?





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Politics

Is Disrespecting The National Anthem A Legitimate Form Of Protest?

This is going to backfire on the left in a major way.  On Sunday, more than a hundred NFL players knelt during the playing of the national anthem.

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This is going to backfire on the left in a major way.  On Sunday, more than a hundred NFL players knelt during the playing of the national anthem.  It was obviously an attempt to make some sort of public statement about President Trump, but it was an exceedingly poor way to go about doing that.  Because our young people are not even taught about the importance of our national anthem and our national flag in school, most of these players didn’t even understand what they were doing.  Our anthem is sung and our flag is proudly displayed prior to major sporting events for a reason.  The truth is that our national anthem and our national flag are both symbols that directly represent our nation.  In other words, when you show disrespect to the anthem or to the flag you are literally showing disrespect to the United States of America.  So what these players did on Sunday was essentially to spit in the face of every single American citizen.

This is not just an American thing.  All over the world it is well understood that respect for the national flag and other national symbols is not optional.  What transpired at NFL games on Sunday will be broadcast all over the planet, and the rest of the world will be laughing at our national disgrace.






The very first NFL game scheduled on Sunday was held in London, and “dozens of players from both teams” knelt while the national anthem was being played…

The first game of the day between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars saw dozens of players from both teams kneel while almost the entire Jaguars’ on-field and sideline players and employees locked arms during the U.S. national anthem, including owner Shahid Khan. Some players stood while others knelt.

And of course similar “sideline protests” happened at other NFL stadiums all over the nation.  Never before in American history have we ever seen anything quite like this

Demonstrations spread throughout the league as many players broke out of their routine by joining the protests or engaging in team-wide displays of unity.

Several players from the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons were among those who chose not to stand for the anthem. The Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay Packers stood with arms locked, though some players from those teams chose to kneel.

I honestly don’t think that the NFL will ever be the same after this.  It had already been transformed into the “no fun league”, and now the focus will squarely be on political protests rather than football for the foreseeable future.

Needless to say, millions upon millions of Americans were completely disgusted by the disrespect shown to our national symbols on Sunday, and President Trump was one of them

“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect …,” Trump said in tweets Saturday afternoon. “Our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

If professional football players want to speak out against President Trump, I have no problem with that whatsoever.

But for them to openly and brazenly disrespect our entire country is crossing a line that should never be crossed.

What in the world has happened to America?  All over America high school football coaches are being banned from saying prayers before games, and yet disrespecting our anthem and our flag is somehow acceptable?  The following comes from Zero Hedge

Marc Short, the president’s legislative director, has also backed his boss, telling “Meet the Press” that a double standard for players who chose to voice their views on the field, and that the president was speaking for the majority of Americans on what sort of expression was appropriate. Short compared a crackdown on protests to the ban on high school football coaches leading players in prayer before games.

“There are high school coaches across America today who are punished for leading their players in prayer, and yet, when an N.F.L. player takes a knee, somehow that player is presumed to be a martyr for a social cause,” Mr. Short said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The president is standing with the vast majority of Americans who believe that our flag should be respected.”

Many of these players are going to look back on what they have done with great shame.  They may have believed that they were disrespecting President Trump, but the truth is that they were disrespecting this great land and every single American that has ever lived.  They owe all of us an apology, and that should happen as soon as possible.

And the NFL may think that it is all powerful, but stunts like this are going to cost it millions upon millions of dollars.  Already, ratings were way down because of the few players that were kneeling whenever the anthem was played

Player protests of the National Anthem – such as when quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee in protest – are the number one reason sports fans watched fewer National Football League (NFL) games, a new survey shows.

If just a few players kneeling had that much of an impact on the ratings, what do you think is going to happen now?






Unfortunately, I have a feeling that this is just the beginning.  In fact, one former Democratic member of Congress is calling on all NFL players to kneel while the anthem is played

A former Democrat Congresswoman has called for every NFL player to kneel during the national anthem at Sunday’s games, while branding President Donald Trump a ‘white supremacist’.

Donna Edwards, who retired as a US representative for Maryland earlier this year, issued the bold statement on Saturday, responding to Trump’s criticism of NFL players who refuse to stand for the anthem.

‘On Sunday, I hope every @NFL player takes a knee in solidarity w [Colin Kaepernick] against the white supremacist who squats in our White House,’ Edwards said in reference to the former San Francisco quarterback, who is now a free agent.

No matter what your political perspective is, it is wrong to disrespect our national anthem and it is wrong to disrespect our flag.

And anyone that disrespects our anthem and our flag is spitting in the face of the entire country.

What happened on Sunday was a national disgrace, and those involved need to apologize to the American people immediately.






Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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Economy

Facebook Thinks You Are A Moron – Here Is The Chart Proving It

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Last week we jokingly wrote about a Facebook press release that was apparently an honest effort by the social media giant intended to summarize Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election using their social media platform. That said, at least to us, it seemed as though Facebook unwittingly proved what a farce the entire ‘Russian collusion’ narrative had become as, after digging through advertising data for the better part of full year, Facebook reported that they found a ‘staggering’ $50,000 worth of ad buys that MAY have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts to run ‘potentially politically related’ ads.

Not surprisingly, after being attacked by the mainstream media and even Hillary for “assisting” the Russians, Zuckerberg is once again in the press today fanning the flames of the ‘Russian collusion’ narrative by saying that Facebook will release to Congress the details of the 3,000 ads that MAY have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts.

And while it seems obvious, please allow us to once again demonstrate why this entire process is so utterly bizarre… 

The chart below demonstrates how the $50,000 worth of ad buys that MAY have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts to run ‘potentially politically related’ ads compares to the $26.8 billion in ad revenue that Facebook generated in the U.S. over the same time period between 3Q 2015 and 2Q 2017….If $50,000 can swing an entire presidential election can you imagine what $26.8 billion can do?

Of course, not all of that $26.8 billion was spent on political advertising so we took a shot at breaking it down further.  While Facebook doesn’t disclose political spending as a percent of their overall advertising revenue, we did a little digging and found that political advertising represented ~5% of the overall ad market in the U.S. in 2016.  We further assumed that political share of the overall ad market is roughly half of that amount in non-election years, or 2.5%.

Using that data, we figure that Facebook may get ~3.5% of their annual revenue from political advertising in an average year, or nearly $1 billion per year…give or take a few million.  Unfortunately, as the chart below once again demonstrates, this still does little to support Zuckerberg’s thesis that the $50,000 he keeps talking about is in any way relevant to the 2016 election.

 

Of course, the pursuit of this ridiculous narrative proves that Zuckerberg has no interest in spreading the truth about how his company impacted (and by “impacted,” we mean “had no impact at all”) the 2016 election, but rather is only interested in shoving his political agenda down the throats of an American public that he presumes is too stupid to question his propaganda. 

That said, if Zuckerberg is really just on a mission for truth, as he says he is, perhaps he can stop patronizing the American public and disclose the full facts surrounding political advertising on Facebook.  We suspect a simple financial disclosure detailing how much political advertising was sold on Facebook from 3Q 2015 – 2Q 2017, broken down by political affiliation, would go a long way toward proving just how meaningless $50,000 is in the grand scheme of things. 

That said, somehow we suspect ‘truth’ is not really Zuckerberg’s end goal, now is it?

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