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Messages - Rudi Jan

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Dumbest F***ing Idea I've Ever Heard': Lindsey Graham Blasts Trump's Syria Plan

15:56 21.02.2019(updated 16:18 21.02.2019)

© AFP 2018 / Andrew Harnik / POOL

President Trump's announcement that the US would be withdrawing its entire contingent of 2,000 troops from Syria amid the defeat of Daesh (ISIS)* has shaken pro-war officials and lawmakers across Washington, prompting to a string of resignations of senior administration members, including (now-ex) Pentagon chief Jim Mattis.

Senior South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a long-time critic of Donald Trump's foreign policy, has lashed out at acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan on the Pentagon's Syria policy. The Washington Post detailed the harsh exchange between Graham and Shanahan at the Munich Security Conference last week, which reportedly included the senator blasting the defence secretary on the US' 30 April withdrawal deadline.

"Are you telling our allies that we are going to go to zero by April 30th?" Graham reportedly asked. "Yes, that's been our direction [from the president]," Shanahan replied. "That's the dumbest f***ing idea I've ever heard," Graham responded.

The Republican senator then began listing off a series of terrible consequences that a US withdrawal would mean, including the return of Daesh, Turkish forces attacking Syria's Kurds, and Iran gaining an 'advantage' in the country.

"That could very well happen," Shanahan reportedly replied. "Well, if the policy is going to be that we are leaving by 30 April, I am now your adversary, not your friend," Graham retorted.

Other lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, reportedly voiced similar frustrations with Shanahan, describing him as a "deer in the headlights", and complaining that all he did was repeat the president's instructions, without elaborating.

New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez complained to WaPo that Shanahan basically "got a chorus of voices that basically said, 'This is not going to work, there is a bipartisan resolve not to let this happen, and you need to send a message back to the president that there's a combined, unified view that this is not the way to go and he should change course'."

Social media users were not amused by Senator Graham's expletive-filled rant, recalling his otherwise subservient attitude toward the president, or accusing him of being a war hawk.

President Trump's announcement that the US would be withdrawing its forces from Syria was met with hostility among the majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and led to a series of high profile resignations, including Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, special anti-Daesh coalition envoy Brett McGurks, DoD spokeswoman Dana White, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kevin Sweeney.

While agreeing with the president on most domestic issues, Senator Graham has been a longtime critic of Trump on foreign policy. In early 2017, shortly after his election, Trump lashed out at Graham and (now deceased) Senator John McCain on Twitter, advising that the pair focus "their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III."

The Syrian government has repeatedly criticised the deployment of US troops on its soil, calling it an illegal violation of the country's territorial integrity, and demanding that Washington withdraw immediately. The US military presence presently includes a base in at-Tanf, along the Syrian-Jordanian border, and deployments in northeastern Syria alongside US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia.

*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

R ~ 'Are you telling our allies that we are going to go to zero by April 30th?'
Um... perhaps Mr. Graham might want to list just who those 'allies' might be? Daesh*? Kurds? Saudi Arabia? Israel? He is not the least worried about the sentiments of his 'allies' for the simple reason that those trying to seize Syria are all allies of the same club, whatever country their leaders hail from.

Those not in the club are the enemy of the (((deep state))) and it's designs on Syria, and now on Venezuela, not by choice but by the imperial roots of the club that presumes ownership of our world and marches it's armies where they will.

This man sucked hard to stay in Trump's circle but his handlers are pushing him to let loose on El Presidente. His face alone speaks volumes.

Poles ‘suckle antisemitism with mothers’ milk’: Visegrad talks off over Israel's ‘racist’ comments

Published time: 18 Feb, 2019 14:21
Edited time: 18 Feb, 2019 16:08

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visits the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Who Saved Jews during WWII in Markowa, Poland February 2, 2018.
©  REUTERS/Justyna Pawlak

Historical tensions have reignited as Poland pulls out of talks in Jerusalem following ‘racist’ comments by Israel's new FM implicating Poles in anti-semitism and the Holocaust, resulting in the Visegrad 4 summit’s cancellation.

Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki issued Israel an ultimatum Monday, telling Tel-Aviv that if they didn’t apologize for the comments, Poland would pull out of the V4 talks scheduled to take place in Jerusalem the following day. Shortly afterwards, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced that the summit would not take place at all without Poland’s participation, and would be replaced by bilateral talks between the remaining nations.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki attends a commemoration event at the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau
©  Agencja Gazeta/Jakub Porzycki via REUTERS

Israel’s interim Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz issued the controversial comments on Sunday not long after being appointed to the position. In conversation with Israel's i24 news, he echoed Netanyahu’s earlier claims of Polish collaboration with Nazi Germany, and even upped the ante with a quote from former Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir that, “Every Pole suckled anti-Semitism with his mother's milk,” adding that, “Nobody will tell us how to express our stance and how to honor the dead.”

In response to the “insulting” statement, Israel’s ambassador to Warsaw, Anna Azari, was summoned by the Polish Foreign Ministry for the second time this week.

It was only yesterday when Morawiecki personally called Netanyahu to say he would not be attending the talks himself in protest of his Israeli counterpart's comments last week in Warsaw.

Unperturbed by Morawiecki's decision not to participate, Katz initially answered casually, saying that “there is no crisis,” as the “foreign minister will attend.” Since the Czech Republic’s announcement, however, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has responded confirming the cancellation: “There will be no full V4 meeting. Three PMs are arriving, will hold meetings with (Israel's) PM.”

Today’s events are only the latest development in ongoing tensions between Israel and Poland. Relations have suffered since Poland passed its controversial Holocaust law last year which prohibits implicating the Polish government in the historical crimes of the Nazi regime.

Poland's PM Mateusz Morawiecki and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Middle East summit in Warsaw, Poland, February 14, 2019.
© Reuters/Kacper Pempel

Responding to Israel’s accusations, the Polish PM pointed out on Twitter that 6 million Poles were killed during the Nazi’s occupation of the country, including 3 million Poles of Jewish origin.

R ~ I have to laugh. Poland has become ensnared in a false narrative they have been happy to support for decades. To expect an apology from israel is rather pathetic. Even if Poland got one Israel would use it as cover to stick the knife in as they did in 1939. there have never been jews of Polish origin (and certainly not 3 million). They moved in... and they never had any gratitude to the Poles and happy to toss them under the bus again at a word from the jews they continue to pander to.

Venezuelan Supreme Court Annuls Opposition's PDVSA, Citgo Board Appointments

03:14 15.02.2019

© REUTERS / Marco Bello

CARACAS (Sputnik) – Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice nullified the appointment by the country’s opposition of new board members of the state-owned PDVSA energy company and Citgo oil refiner, owned by it, and blocked these individuals’ bank accounts, prohibiting them from leaving the country.

"The constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court notes that the analyzed directive, issued by the National Assembly, is absolutely null and void and has no legal effect", judge Juan Jose Mendoza Jover said at the court session as aired by the Telesur broadcaster on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the opposition-controlled National Assembly endorsed members for the special board of directors of PDVSA whose only goal would be to appoint new directors for US-based Citgo and its subsidiaries.

The US office of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself Venezuela’s interim president, subsequently announced Citgo's new board of directors.

Constitutionally elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has accused Guaido of acting at the instructions of the United States, saying that Washington sought to get hold of Venezuela’s oil assets, has promised to bring to trial those who would recognize the new appointments.

PDVSA, whose assets worth $7 billion were blocked by the United States amid the political crisis in Venezuela, has called opposition-appointed board of directors of Citgo an attempt to "steal the wealth of the people".

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that by blocking PDVSA assets, the United States was taking care of this company in the interests of the Venezuelan people.

On 23 January, the political crisis in Venezuela took a new turn when the speaker of the opposition-led Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself interim president amid ongoing anti-government protests. Guaido's declaration was almost immediately recognized by the United States and some of its allies. EU member states were expected to issue a joint statement recognizing Guaido, but Italy vetoed the motion, according to a Sputnik source.

Russia, along with China, Mexico, Turkey, Uruguay and several other countries, has voiced support for Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Venezuela is one of the biggest oil producers in the world. The oil exports currently stand at way below 1 million barrels daily, which is a more-than 10 percent drop from December and a less than half decline from Venezuela’s oil production 18 months ago, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Money & Markets / record number of Americans fall behind on car payments
« on: February 14, 2019, 09:36:06 AM »
Boom Bust asks if the bubble is bursting as record number of Americans fall behind on car payments

Published time: 14 Feb, 2019 14:12

FILE PHOTO: New trucks at a Ford dealership in Encinitas, California © Reuters / Mike Blake

Soaring car-loan debt in the US is a disturbing sign for the economy, showing that the middle class is in “serious economic trouble” as people sacrifice their basic necessities, Professor of Economics Richard Wolff believes.

A record seven million Americans are three months or more behind on their auto-loan payments, according to a recent report released by the New York Federal Reserve. The number is more than one million higher than it was in 2010, when the world was still reeling from the economic crisis.

RT’s Boom Bust sat in with economist and co-founder of Democracy at Work, Professor Richard Wolff, to find out if the situation is a proxy for economic desperation, similar to the mortgage crisis that led to the long economic downturn.

“The folks at the top have been doing very, very well; but the mass of people – even if they get a job finally – [they] get a job with lower income, less security, fewer benefits and you’re seeing the results,” he said.

“If it were just the unpaid car loans, it would be one thing, but we’re seeing it everywhere,” Wolff told host Bart Chilton. He added that most people “are in very serious economic trouble and the slightest downturn is going to take us over the edge.”

Cars are an “absolute necessity” for Americans and their everyday routine – from going to work and getting kids to school to doing shopping. The fact that they are not paying for this might mean that these people are ready to give up other basic things, like a visits to the doctor, the analyst warned.

The World Below / Pence Berates EU At Warsaw Over "SWIFT Alternative"
« on: February 14, 2019, 08:37:26 AM »
Pence Berates EU At Warsaw Over "SWIFT Alternative" - Demands Allies "Confront Iran"

by Tyler Durden
Thu, 02/14/2019 - 12:05

Speaking at the US-sponsored Warsaw summit on the Middle East, Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday railed against European efforts to circumvent American sanctions on Iran, and crucially as Bloomberg concludes, his speech confirms the "US and its oldest allies across the Atlantic are becoming estranged."

He slammed European efforts to "break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime" — a theme also repeated by Pompeo and Israeli PM Netanyahu on the same day.

Image via AP/WaPo

Pence specifically reprimanded the UK, France, and Germany for launching a so-called "SWIFT alternative" or special purpose vehicle to allow non-dollar trade with Tehran and to facilitate humanitarian goods-related transactions, called INSTEX — or "Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges". Europe sees it as a crucial step in keeping the 2015 nuclear deal alive after Washington was able to pressure the Belgium-based SWIFT financial messaging service to cut off the access of Iranian banks last year.

“They call this scheme a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’,” Pence said, as cited by Bloomberg. “We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.’’ The Paris-based INSTEX initiative represents the most concrete action Europe has taken to directly thwart Washington sanctions.

“We call it an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and create still more distance between Europe and America,’’ Pence said. Though many observers have predicted the issue would come to a head, this is the first time a top US leader has stood in Europe berating allies over offering Iran sanctions relief. Tehran for its part has said it's not enough, though a minimal beginning by the EU.

Pence further urged the Europeans to break completely with the Iran deal: “For the sake of peace, security, stability, and human rights in the Middle East, the time has come for our European partners to stand with us, stand with the Iranian people, stand with our allies and friends in the region — and we reject the Iran nuclear deal,” he said.

Pence also met with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and the two agreed that Iran is "the leading state sponsor of terror in the world." During his speech at the Warsaw summit Pence cited the bombing of American embassies, the murder of "hundreds of American troops" and noted further that Iran still "holds US citizens hostage".

Pompeo at the Warsaw summit, via Getty/NYT

According to The Guardian, European nations were skittish over how represented they would be, over fear of US intent to make the conference Iran-centric:

The Warsaw meeting was attended by more than 60 nations, but major European powers such as Germany and France, parties to the landmark 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, refused to send their top diplomats over fears that the summit was designed largely to build an alliance against Tehran.

The US for its part sent VP Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and special aide on the Middle East.

Pompeo's address to summit representatives urged the world to "confront Iran". He said to reporters afterward, “You can’t achieve stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran. It’s just not possible.” He cited places the US sees as Iranian proxy ground: “There are malign influences in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq,” in reference to groups Iran supports. “The three H’s: the Houthis, Hamas and Hezbollah, these are real threats,” he added.

However, given Assad's victory in Syria alongside Iranian, Hezbollah, and Russian support, it appears US options in these proxy confrontations in the Middle East remain limited and rapidly diminishing, and even more so now that EU is increasingly going its own course.

R ~ Pence is an obedient POS tool and demonstrates it every time he's playing diplomat which is nothing more that the usual, dictating orders and terms to his european counterparts.

Q4 GDP Estimates Crashing Down After Disastrous Retail Sales

by Tyler Durden
Thu, 02/14/2019 - 12:18

Following the biggest plunge in the retail sales control group - the one variable that feeds into the BEA's GDP estimates - since Sept 11...

... we said that "this will be a disaster for Q4 GDP forecasts which we now expect to print in the low 1% range."

And sure enough, the downgrades started shortly thereafter, with virtually every bank slashing its estimates for Q4 GDP.

JPMorgan was first, and now forecasts that Q4 GDP grew at just 2.0% annualized, down sharply from the bank's prior estimate of 2.6%.

Barclays joined the bandwagon, cutting its previous 2.8% Q4 GDP forecast to 2.1%.

Goldman wasn't far behind, and in a note released by its economics team, said that "the retail sales report indicated a considerably weaker pace of fourth quarter consumption growth than we had previously assumed. Reflecting this and lower-than-expected November business inventories, we lowered our Q4 GDP tracking estimate by five tenths to +2.0% (qoq ar)." Goldman also  lowered its subjective odds of a Q2 Fed hike to 15% (from 25% previously), which is of course, amusing considering that as recently as 2 months ago Goldman was expecting 4 rate hikes in 2019.

But the most scathing revision came from the Atlanta Fed, whose GDPNow just suffered its biggest graviational "glitch" in history, crashing to just 1.5% following today's retail sales data, down nearly 50% from 2.7% as recently as February 6. This is how the economist 'experts' at the Fed justified their reasoning:

After this morning's retail sales and retail inventories releases from the U.S. Census Bureau, the nowcast of fourth-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth fell from 3.7 percent to 2.6 percent, and the nowcast of the contribution of inventory investment to fourth-quarter real GDP growth fell from -0.27 percentage points to -0.55 percentage points.

And visually:

Why such a dramatic cut? Because apparently nobody could possibly expect retail sales to plunge so much. Nobody, of course, except the occasional "fringe" website, which warned to "Brace For A Plunge In Retail Sales."

Hands off ‘our hemisphere’ or Venezuela pays the price: US Senator warns Russia

Published time: 13 Feb, 2019 14:59

Anti-government protesters in Caracas, Venezuela © Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The US staked a claim on half the world, as Senate Armed Services Committee chair Jim Inhofe said Washington might have to intervene in Venezuela if Russia dares set up a military base not just there, but “in our hemisphere.”

“I think that it could happen,” Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) told a group of reporters on Tuesday. “You’ve got a guy down there that is killing everybody. You could have him put together a base that Russia would have on our hemisphere. And if those things happen, it may be to the point where we’ll have to intervene with troops and respond.”

Should Russia dare encroach on the US’ neck of the woods, Inhofe said: “we have to take whatever action necessary to stop them from doing that.”

As opposition leader Juan Guaido vies for power, the Russian government has stuck by President Nicolas Maduro. Russia has not, however, promised military aid to Maduro, and Russian diplomat Alexander Shchetinin said on Monday that Venezuela has not requested military aid from Moscow.

After Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela last month, US President Donald Trump immediately recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Since then, the US has pledged humanitarian aid to Guaido, called on Venezuela’s military to support him, and slapped Maduro’s government with fresh economic sanctions. Maduro has denounced Washington’s sponsorship of Guaido as a “vile” coup attempt but nevertheless called for talks with the opposition leader. The US has outright rejected taking part in any discussions with Maduro.

The US has stopped short of deploying troops to Venezuela, despite Trump and national security adviser John Bolton both saying the option is “on the table.” Speaking on Tuesday, Inhofe agreed and suggested that Trump could launch a military operation in Venezuela without Congressional authorization.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said. “If there is a threat that reaches the threshold of the president having the ability, the constitutional ability of deploying troops, then that’s an unknown. We don’t know right now.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the United States against military intervention on Tuesday.

"Lavrov has warned against all interference in Venezuela's domestic affairs including the use of force threatened by Washington and which is in violation of international law," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

‘Our hemisphere’

Inhofe said that a flow of Russian troops or weapons into the Western hemisphere “would be a threat to the United States of America.” The United States, meanwhile, reads from a different rulebook.

The US maintains nearly 800 military bases in over 70 countries worldwide, with a foothold on every continent. And, while Inhofe wants to keep an entire hemisphere free from Russian influence, the US is currently in talks to establish a permanent military base in Poland, right on Russia’s doorstep. Given the long history of animosity between Poland and Russia, the Polish government has offered to cough up $2 billion towards setting up the base.

Further afield, no hemisphere is beyond the reach of the United States. The US military divides the globe up into six Combatant Command ‘Areas of Responsibility,’ which it maintains in times of peace and war. Russia, meanwhile, divides its territory into four military districts, all within its own borders.

Nebojša Malić
Two countries. Two maps. Two approaches to the world.
Everything should be clear from this. #US #Russia

6:37 AM - Sep 8, 2016

70 civilians killed, injured as US-led coalition warplanes pound Syrian town

Tue Feb 12, 2019 01:19PM [Updated: Tue Feb 12, 2019 02:41PM ]

This file picture shows smoke billowing out following a US-led coalition airstrike in the western al-Daraiya neighborhood
of the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqah. (By AFP)

Dozens of more civilians, mostly women and children, have lost their lives and sustained injuries when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group launched a fresh round of airstrikes against an area in Syria’s troubled eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA on Tuesday that the aerial attacks targeted the outskirts of al-Baghouz town, leaving 70 people dead and injured as a result.

The sources added that the airstrikes hit a makeshift camp, which internally displaced people had set up in the area after fleeing fierce exchanges of gunfire between the US-led coalition and the last remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

They noted that the death toll is expected to rise as some of the injured are in a critical condition, and they cannot be moved since the area is under heavy shelling.

PressTV-3 Syrian civilians killed in fresh US-led strikes
US-led airstrikes have left three civilians dead and several others injured in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

On Saturday, US-led military aircraft bombarded al-Tayyaneh town in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr province, leaving three people dead and several others injured.

The aerial assaults damaged some private and public property in the targeted area as well.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes and operations against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a United Nations mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

PressTV-Security Council urged to stop US-led strikes on Syria
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has called on the UN Security Council to stop US-led coalition airstrikes on civilian infrastructure in the crisis-hit country.

Syria urges UN action

Syria has on numerous occasions condemned airstrikes by the US-led coalition, asking the UN to force Washington and its allies to put an end to their military intervention in the Arab country.     

Also on Tuesday, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in two separate letters addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the rotating president of the Security Council, Anatolio Ndong Mba, denounced the coalition strikes conducted against al-Baghouz town a day earlier, saying the US-led warplanes had pounded a refugee camp.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told state-run Ikhbariyah Syria television news network that 16 civilians, including seven children, were killed as a result of the raid.

PressTV-‘US-led strikes in Syria show disregard for UN Charter’
The Damascus government says continued US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria show the alliance’s complete disregard for the UN Charter and international law.

“This new crime is in line with the series of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which the US-led coalition has perpetrated against Syrian people, its continued support for terrorism, and its use of terrorists and separatist militia forces to advance its fiendish plots aimed at Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” said the letters.

The ministry also called on the UN Security Council to stand up against such attacks and crimes.

It also demanded that the Council assume its responsibilities regarding the establishment of international peace and security, conduct an international probe into these criminal acts, condemn them, and put an immediate halt to these air raids as well as the “aggressive” presence of US and other foreign military forces on the Syrian soil.

The World Below / Syrian military on high alert after Israeli attacK
« on: February 11, 2019, 08:58:40 PM »
Syrian military on high alert after Israeli attack

By Leith Aboufadel - 2019-02-11

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:30 P.M.) – The Syrian military has been placed on their highest alert level after a brief Israeli attack targeted their positions in the Al-Quneitra Governorate.

According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian military’s air defense forces were placed in a ready position to confront a potential Israeli attack on the western part of the country.

The source said while it is highly unlikely that the Israeli military will strike again, they wanted to take all precautionary measures to ensure they are able to foil an attack.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli military launched three separate strikes that targeted three different Syrian Arab Army sites.

The first attack targeted a Syrian Army garrison at a large hilltop; the second strike targeted the Quneitra Hospital, which was later turned into a base by Jabhat Al-Nusra; and the third attack targeted another garrison at Jabata Al-Shaab.

A bridge too far: US claims Venezuela blocked aid deliveries... at a crossing that was never open

Published time: 12 Feb, 2019 01:03
Edited time: 12 Feb, 2019 01:21

©  Reuters / Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Photos and video of oil tankers and shipping containers blocking a bridge between Venezuela and Colombia were used as proof Caracas was “blocking” US aid. Left out was the fact that the bridge was never open for traffic.

The bridge figured prominently in last week’s push by official Washington to paint the elected government of Venezuela as hostile to the people, and build support for the US-backed self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido. A USAID convoy arrived in Colombia on Friday, but media outlets reported that the government of President Nicolas Maduro had “blocked” it by setting up fencing and obstacles on the Tienditas International Bridge.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used the photo to claim that “Venezuela’s military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE.”

The fact-checkers in mainstream media that comb through every word spoken by US President Donald Trump and his cabinet officials stayed silent on Pompeo’s claim. It was left to independent journalists and observers to reveal that, while the containers may have been placed by the Venezuelan government, the bridge was already blocked from the Colombian side. In fact, a cursory search online reveals that the bridge had never actually been open for traffic.

The Tienditas Bridge “blockade” – Justin Emery – Medium
Or how to turn an unopened bridge into an international news story to build support for your coup

The bridge was intended to connect Cucuta in Colombia to Ureña in Venezuela, spanning the Tachira river. According to local media, construction work on it was finalized in early 2016. By that time, however, Colombia had cracked down on its border with Venezuela due to the exodus of up to four million Venezuelans claiming economic hardship and famine in their homeland.

Photos from 2017 show the fencing and concrete slabs blocking the bridge on the Colombian side, as blogger Justin Emery pointed out on Medium.

There are two other bridges linking Colombia to Venezuela in the same area, both named after heroes of the 1800s struggle for independence from colonial Spain: Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander.

Though Venezuelan border guards are not allowing the USAID vehicles in, both bridges remain open to cross-border traffic. So why would the US government and most Western media outlets claim the aid is blocked by showing photos of the never-operational Tienditas bridge? Writing at FAIR, Adam Johnson argued the whole affair was a “transparent, cynical PR strategy to delegitimize a Latin American government” the US is trying to overthrow.

Johnson pointed out that Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special envoy for “freedom and democracy” in Venezuela, has a history of abusing humanitarian aid for shipments of weapons to US-backed militants in Latin America.

There is no denying that the objective of US officials running the Venezuela policy is regime change in Caracas. The preferred method of doing so appears to be persuading the people of Venezuela – or better yet, the military – to turn away from Maduro and back Guaido.

National Security Advisor John Bolton has tried a variety of psychological operations to that effect, from the “5,000 [US] troops to Colombia”notepad scribble to claims that high-ranking Venezuelan officers were in talks with Guaido. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has been singing from the same hymnbook, though not without getting a ribbing online.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been trying to sell the intervention to the American people and US allies overseas, going so far as to call Guaido “duly elected” (he wasn’t) and even claim that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah was operating in Venezuela.

Pompeo seems to have been more successful in his endeavor than Bolton and Rubio: aside from a handful of anti-war Democrats, there is very little criticism inside the US of the official policy in Venezuela. Meanwhile, almost three weeks since the US recognized Guaido as president, Maduro is still standing and the military has not abandoned him.

Russia Completes Testing of Poliment-Redut Shipborne Air Defence Missile System

01:38 11.02.2019(updated 01:49 11.02.2019)

© Sputnik / Ildus Gilyazutdinov

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The testing of the Russian shipborne Poliment-Redut air defence missile system for the frigates of the Project 22350 series has been completed, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Adm. Vladimir Korolev has announced.

"The state testing of the Poliment-Redut air defence missile system has been completed," Korolev said as quoted by the Russian Krasnaya Zvesda newspaper.


Russia's Avangard System Missile Test-Launched From Orenburg Region, Hit Target in Kamchatka - Kremlin
The air defence missile system is capable of hitting air targets located within an up to 150-kilometer (93-mile) radius and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers.

Russia's Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates (Project 22350) have a displacement of 4,500 tonnes, a top speed of 29 knots and can go for up to 15 days without resupplying.

In November, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that more than 10 launches of Poliment-Redut missiles on various types of targets had been conducted during state tests in the Northern Fleet.

The World Below / US to withdraw from Syria 'in weeks,' claims top general
« on: February 10, 2019, 05:12:20 PM »
US to withdraw from Syria 'in weeks,' claims top general

Mon Feb 11, 2019 01:58AM [Updated: Mon Feb 11, 2019 01:58AM ]

Commander of United States Central Command Joseph Leonard Votel, speaks during a meeting in Kuwait City on September 12, 2018. (AFP photo)

A top American general is claiming that Washington is “right on track with” its supposed Syria withdrawal.

US Army General Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, made the comments Monday long after President Donald Trump ordered withdrawal of ground forces from war ravaged Syria.

“In terms of the withdrawal … I think we’re right on track with where we wanted to be,” Votel told reporters travelling with him during a trip to the Middle East. “Moving people is easier than moving equipment and so what we’re trying to do right now is again [to] kind of clear out those materials, that equipment, that we do not need.”

PressTV-Pompeo vows US will withdraw troops from Syria
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Thursday that US troops will leave Syria.

Asked when the withdrawal may begin, he answered: “Probably weeks. But again, it will all be driven by the situation on the ground.”

Operation Inherent Resolve is the name of a US military campaign launched in August 2014 after the Daesh terrorist Takfiri group overran large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

The US has ever since maintained military presence in Syria without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

PressTV-US says Syria withdrawal has begun; Russia doubtful
The US says it has begun the process of withdrawing from Syria but Russia cast doubt on the claim Friday, saying it thinks Washington wants to stay in the Arab country.

US President Donald Trump  called for a swift troop pullout on December 19, alleging the defeat of Daesh and surprising many within the US establishment and abroad.

The announcement further resulted in the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, US anti-Daesh coalition envoy Brett McGurk and Pentagon chief of staff Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney who disapproved of the president's decision.

Trump, nevertheless, seemingly gave in to pressure to slow down the troops pullout two weeks later.

R ~  we.shall.see

Maduro kicks off Venezuela’s ‘most important military drills in history’

Published time: 10 Feb, 2019 22:50
Edited time: 10 Feb, 2019 22:51

©  Twitter / PresidencialVen

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro has launched what he described as the ‘most important’ drills in history, preparing to repel any potential invasion after the US and its allies backed self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Guaido.

The drills will last until February 15 and are set to become the largest military exercises the country has held in its 200-year history, President Maduro reiterated, as he arrived at Guaicaipuro Fort in Miranda State.

“We must prepare to defend [Venezuela's] sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence,” the elected head of state proclaimed, apparently fearing that Washington’s calls for a regime change and its aggressive backing of opposition parliament speaker Juan Guaido might escalate into a direct military invasion.

Guaido, who proclaimed himself ‘interim president’ of Venezuela in January and got the immediate blessing of the United States and its allies in Europe and across Latin America, did not rule out that he might have to make a “controversial” decision to “authorize” a “humanitarian” intervention. The Trump administration also said all options remain on the table to rid Venezuelans of the “oppressive dictator” Maduro.


Unfortunately for him and his cohorts, 17.4 million Britons voted to Leave - the largest single democratic result ever in British politics. So Cameron resigned.

Tusk is simply stirring, just like his colleagues Verhofstadt and Barnier.

It is becoming obvious that the battle is coming down to atheists/satanists determined to elevate the hierarchy of men above the hierarchy of God. What better way to dismiss the deplorables as being of no consequence. We are all destined for hell if we don't obey those that control the minions such as May, Tusk, Merkel, Macron and others of their ilk. They are in full ad hominem mode to obfuscate their agenda of bringing man into man-made technological heaven greater than what God created.

Meanwhile in Oklahoma we are once again moving towards "constitutional carry". The former repiglican governor vetoed the previous attempt this past summer. New repiglican governor favors con-carry.

What part of 'shall not be infringed' do politicians not understand? It just goes on and on as these scumbags simply refuse to acknowledge inalienable rights.

'Hits like Tyson': 'Flash-Ball' guns became symbol of police brutality against Yellow Vests

Published time: 8 Feb, 2019 14:09
Edited time: 8 Feb, 2019 16:13

© AFP / Zakaria Abdelkafi

Human rights activists have renewed efforts to ban 'less-lethal' guns that riot police use against protesters in France. Known as 'Flash-Balls,' they grew to symbolize the weapon of choice in the fight against the yellow vests.

"The lack of sufficient guarantees in the French law undermines the constitutional right of life and the respect for physical safety," the Human Rights League wrote in an appeal to the Council of State this week. The nonprofit seeks to ban the use of controversial 'defense ball launchers' (LBDs), commonly known as 'Flash-Balls,' by police against protesters.

The Council, which acts as the nation's highest administrative court, had earlier dismissed the call to ban the device, saying that LBDs are "necessary" and "particularly appropriate" for tackling violence during rallies. The human rights campaigners, appealing this decision, argue that 'Flash-Balls' are dangerous as they often cause serious injuries.

Such weapons are prohibited in riot control in most Western European countries, but French law enforcemers had been equipped with them for decades.

Urban warfare

Marketed as 'less-lethal' or 'non-lethal,' the original Flash-Ball launchers were developed by the French firearms company Verney-Carron. The police got the first batch of 500 LBDs in 1995. They fired ping-pong-sized balls and were intended to counter urban violence. Flash-Ball "delivers punches like Mike Tyson," its creator, ballistic expert Pierre Richert, said at the time. He noted that the projectiles "hurt but do less damage than a police pistol."

The current Swiss-made model, LBD 40, was adopted by the French police back in 2009. It shoots 40mm (1.6-inch) rubber or foam slugs at a speed of up to 100 meters per second. It can also launch tear gas and stun grenades.

© Reuters / Benoit Tessier

The 'less-lethal' weaponry has been used extensively to quell civil disturbances since the 2000s, most notably during the devastating 2005 Paris suburbs riots. Early on, human rights campaigners and the media had been raising red flags against 'Flash-Balls' as evidence mounted that they cause serious injuries. Over the years, several people have been killed after getting hit by projectiles.

In 2010, Mustapha Ziani died of cardiac arrest after an officer shot him in the chest with a Flash-Ball during an altercation at his home in Marseille. Following an outcry, the officer got a six-month suspended sentence for manslaughter.

A 2006 study said that, despite being designed to avoid skin penetration, 'Flash-Ball' guns "may still create major trauma with associated severe injuries to internal organs." The researchers observed two patients hit by the slugs: both required medical treatment, while one was hospitalized for contusions to his heart and lungs.

Similarly, staffers at the Nantes University Hospital who studied Flash-Ball-induced trauma concluded that "the relative low risk of this weapon may be questioned in real life," as its impact "may produce distant and severe injury."

Another French study from 2015 examined the case of a healthy 34-year-old man who was shot by a Flash-Ball during a riot. He sustained "serious" skull and brain injuries, which required two months of treatment and rehabilitation. Flash-Ball is "potentially lethal" and dangerous, particularly if shot in the head, the researchers wrote.

© Reuters / Stephane Mahe

Blood on yellow

The police have used LBDs more than 9,200 times since the Yellow Vest protests began in November. Initially a grassroots movement against planned fuel-tax hikes, the rallies grew to include calls for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron. They often descended into fierce street battles with police, with multiple injuries on both sides. Recent rallies saw protesters denouncing 'Flash-Balls,' which have become the symbol of police brutality.

© Reuters / Philippe Wojazer

At least 20 people lost their eyes as a result of LBD fire and grenade shrapnel, according to anti-police brutality group Desarmons-Les! The group documented more than 120 cases of people they say were injured by police using ‘less-lethal’ weapons, mostly LBD 40s and GLI-F4 instant tear-gas grenades. The latter, despite its label, packs 25g of TNT and can inflict truly horrific injuries, especially if picked up by a protester before detonating. Many victims sustained facial injuries, like broken noses and cheekbone fractures, after being reportedly hit by projectiles.

© AFP / Zakaria Abdelkafi

One of the 'faces' of police brutality during the Yellow Vest protests is 20-year-old Fiorina L. The young woman lost the sight in her left eye from a gas-grenade explosion on Avenue des Champs-Elysees in December.

Another prominent protester, Jerome Rodrigues, injured his eye a month later when a riot control grenade exploded near him.

"The mutilated people must receive their apologies…" he told RT. " saw a police officer armed with traumatic weapons, with no camera on him."

Despite the outcry, France's police chief Eric Morvan said that using LBD 40s during the Yellow Vest protests was justified. The weapon "may be an appropriate response to deter or neutralize" a violent or dangerous person, he said, noting that LBDs should be used only when necessary. He stressed that officers should only aim for the torso and limbs.

"The LBD is a scary weapon," one officer's testimony read. "If they're taken away from us, no more colleagues will want to work at demonstrations."

Swiss company Brugger & Thomet, which produces LBD 40s, also stood by the weapon, praising it as "precise and effective." The launcher shoots with a "low risk" of injury, but may fire inaccurately if loaded with wrong munitions, the manufacturer explained. The original ammunition strays by less than 10cm at the distance of 50 meters, according to the company, which is very precise for such a weapon. French police, however, are reportedly using third-party projectiles with their LBD 40s, including ones produced by a US company called Combined Tactical Systems.

"These serious injuries are criminal acts. We must ban this barbarism," one commenter wrote.

"Whenever I look at how this weapon is used, it's not used in a defensive situation, despite what the officials are saying," another said. "It's always pointed at the faces, which is prohibited."

Another State Wants Every Gun Owner To Hand Over Their Social Media Accounts And Internet Search History

by Tyler Durden
Fri, 02/08/2019 - 17:45

Authored by 'Dagny Taggart' via The Organic Prepper blog,

Unconstitutional gun law ideas seem to spread from one state to another like some kind of insidious virus.

Late last year, an Orwellian gun bill was presented in New York state. If signed into law, anyone who wants to buy a gun would have to turn over three years of their social media history and one year of their internet search history.

“A three-year review of a social media profile would give an easy profile of a person who is not suitable to hold and possess a firearm,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who has proposed the legislation with New York State Senator Kevin Parker. (source)

Before purchasing a gun, applicants would have to turn over their social media passwords to accounts like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. They would also have to allow police to see a year’s worth of their searches on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

That law would also require anyone renewing their permit for a pistol to be subject to this invasion of privacy as well.

In the article, This Anti-Gun Bill Would Require the Social Media History and Internet Search History of Prospective Buyers, Daisy Luther wrote (emphasis mine):

Remember, these things never stop with just one state.

It’s easy to scoff and say, “Those crazy people in New York are getting what they voted for.”  I know someone’s going to say it so there, I said it for you.

But that’s short-sighted, and dare I say, ignorant of the way the world works.

Look at all the states that have recently flipped from red to blue in the midterm elections. If you don’t think it could ever happen where you are, you’re not paying attention. Please keep in mind that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but am referring to some party generalizations here. (source)

Now, another state has an Orwellian gun bill on the table.

It turns out, Daisy’s prediction was spot-on. In Illinois, to be allowed to possess your own gun, you have to have a special card, and the requirements to get that card could be about to become much more intrusive:

Meanwhile, in the Illinois House, state Rep. Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, has filed HB 888 which would require those who apply for a state-issued Firearm Owners Identification Card– mandatory for legal gun owners– turn over a list of their social media accounts to authorities under threat of a Class 2 felony. The State Police would use the information to determine if the accounts have any “information that would disqualify the person from obtaining or require revocation” of a FOID card. (source)

FOID cards also require your photograph, height, weight, address, birthday, hair color, and eye color. That is pretty basic information for a government-issued ID card.

But that isn’t all that Illinois requires.

In order to be granted a FOID card by the overlords in Illinois:

…you have to answer a questionnaire that asks if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony, whether you are addicted to narcotics, whether you’ve been treated in a mental institution or are “intellectually disabled.” Other questions ask about convictions of some specific crimes, whether you are an illegal alien, whether you’re named on a current order of protection that prohibits firearms. (source)

As you can see, being granted a permission slip to exercise a Constitutional right in Illinois is already a tedious and invasive process. If this bill becomes law, the process will become a lot more complicated and intrusive.

What kind of social media content will police be looking for?

In addition to the obvious problems with the new bill, here’s something to really be concerned about: Exactly what kind of information found on social media accounts would be used to “disqualify” people from getting a card, or lead to the revocation of FOID cards?

That seemingly important detail is not specified anywhere in the bill (which can be read here).

Will decisions simply be based on the thoughts and feelings of individual police officers who are assigned to evaluate social media accounts?

Will there be specific, objective guidelines to follow or will decisions regarding who gets to exercise their Second Amendment rights be arbitrary and subjective?

What else will the information collected be used for?

Some groups are already voicing opposition to the bill, including gun rights groups and the ACLU.

“When people look at this everyone who has a Facebook account or email account or Twitter account will be incensed or should be,” said Richard Pearson with the Illinois State Rifle Association.

But the ACLU is opposed as well.

Rebecca Glenberg with ACLU Illinois says the bill “doesn’t say anything about how that list will be retained and for how long and what uses it might be put to.”

The first amendment group worries police scanning social media may show bias.

“A person’s political beliefs, a person’s religious beliefs, things that should not play a part in whether someone gets a FOID card,” Glenberg said. (source)

This bill is another example of pre-crime legislation, and it is terrifying.

Just days ago, we reported on a new study that found the privacy of those who have deactivated all of their social media accounts – or never had any in the first place – is not guaranteed.

A team of researchers from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide wanted to find out if fundamental limits exist when using information from social networks “to predict the activities and interests of individuals, and to what accuracy such predictions can be made using an individual’s social ties.”

This may not sound like a big deal, but think about the worrisome nature of different types of predictive technology. You don’t have to actually be guilty of anything if the tech says that one day you might be. The stuff we’re discussing here takes “guilt by association” to an entirely new level. (source)

How long until control freak politicians start calling for spying on friends, and friends of friends (and so on) to find any justification for denying gun rights to all of us?

Time for Dialogue With Maduro 'Has Long Passed' - US Envoy to Venezuela

22:57 07.02.2019(updated 23:33 07.02.2019)

© AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta

Elliott Abrams, US President Donald Trump's special envoy to Venezuela, told a US State Department press briefing Thursday that the time for dialogue with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has "long passed" and advised other countries to deal with Juan Guaido, the self-appointed interim president recognized by Washington.

Abrams also said the US was imposing visa bans on "illegitimate" members of the Maduro-controlled Venezuelan Constituent Assembly. The body was elected from a cross-section of Venezuelan society in 2017 to draw up a new constitution for the country, but aroused criticism by opposition forces who said it was anti-democratic. The Constituent Assembly later disempowered the Parliament after it refused to recognize the assembly's legal superiority.

Guaido, the speaker of the disempowered National Assembly, declared himself to be interim president of Venezuela on January 23 during a rally to commemorate the fall of the military dictatorship in 1958. Maduro, who won reelection last May, was sworn in to his new term on January 20, and massive protests both for and against his government have swept the nations since several days before the inauguration. Guaido, who a recent poll showed is unknown to 80 percent of Venezuelans, did not run in that election race.

The envoy said the "end game" for Maduro should be for him to leave power, noting it was preferable for Maduro to leave the country afterward and that countries had privately approached the US offering to take in members of Maduro's government.

Responding to a question about trucks carrying humanitarian aid that had arrived at the Venezuelan border with Colombia Thursday, Abrams said "I don't think that we or the Colombians or the Brazilians or anyone else is planning to try to force [the aid] in [to Venezuela]."

The Lima Group of 14 nations dedicated to forcing regime change in Venezuela decided last week during an Ottawa meeting to use the offer of humanitarian aid as a bargaining chip. However, on Wednesday the Venezuelan government blockaded a major highway crossing the border in order to stop additional shipments into the country after officials said they'd seized a large shipment of weapons the previous day.

​"If he [Maduro] sees a real demand on the part of the Venezuelan people, let it in," Abrams said of aid sent to the South American nation. "That's all we're asking. Let it in."

Abrams commented that if a transition to a "free and democratic government" without Maduro at the head hasn't commenced soon, "it will be the fault of the regime" and no blame should be placed on either Guaido or the National Assembly.

R ~ Dialogue? What dialogue? Besides which I wouldn't buy anything he's selling. A long standing jew in the NWO now on steroids.

The swamp should really be renamed as Zionist Alley, where the serpents hang.

Pompeo: America ‘obligated’ to fight ‘Hezbollah’ in Venezuela to save ‘duly elected’ Guaido

Published time: 7 Feb, 2019 18:47

© Reuters/Carlos Barria

Straining to explain Washington’s eagerness for regime change in Caracas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Cuba was already occupying Venezuela, misunderstood how democracy works, and claimed Iran had a presence in the country.

While navigating extremely delicate issues like international diplomacy for most world leaders requires finesse and sophistication, Pompeo opted for a more ham-fisted approach in an interview with Fox Business on Wednesday. Weaving together a loosely-knit narrative of garish moralizing and lists of countries on America’s naughty list, President Donald Trump’s chief diplomat attempted to help American audiences understand what the State Department is doing in Venezuela.

After making the expectant accusations of Russian and Chinese interference in Venezuela, Pompeo decided to mobilize his go-to excuse for US meddling – Iran!

“People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells — the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America,” adding that “We have an obligation to take down that risk for America.”

It might seem that Pompeo merely has trouble with geography, having recently shared a bizarre map on Twitter that featured the non-existent countries of East and West Turkey, among other things. However, in the course of the interview, he also made several other puzzling declarations, such as referring to self-declared Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido as having been “duly elected,” even though the Washington-backed politician never even ran for president.

When asked why the issue was so important for “our hemisphere,” Pompeo answered that “American values are at stake,” in Venezuela. He believes US interference in internal affairs of Venezuela is an “obligation,” although last year he waxed concerned about alleged foreign interference in US elections.

US sanctions, he went on to explain, “aren’t aimed at the Venezuelan people,” but are instead aimed at “a really good outcome.” Though it was Pompeo who openly argued that US sanctions against Iran were intended to effect regime change by starving its citizens, he tried to argue that in Venezuela US sanctions are “for the good” of the Venezuelan people because they are against the “evil Mr Maduro.”

UN-appointed human rights expert Idriss Jazairy has a different opinion on the matter. While failing to spell out who is good and who is evil, he did point out that the sanctions against Venezuela may “lead to starvation and medical shortages.”

Just in case these helpful sanctions packages don’t end up being "really good" enough, the US is not ruling out plan B: military invasion. A few days ago, Trump told CBS a military option was still on the table, despite overwhelming opposition on both sides of the Venezuelan crisis.

Pompeo brushed off rumors of a possible US invasion, saying the US technically can’t invade Venezuela because “Cuba already did” and has been secretly controlling the country “for an awful long time.”

'R ~ People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells — the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America' and why would they. It's not true. This man should get a Nobel Lie Prize. After all that institution venerated Obama before his murderous spree began.

This man is quite mad.

A coup is a coup and making up stories to retro-actively justify this egregious violation of all international norms and general common sense isn't going to fly. 'The future is so bright I gotta wear shades...'

Money & Markets / Wells Fargo outage affects mobile, online banking, ATMs
« on: February 07, 2019, 11:41:49 AM »
Wells Fargo outage affects mobile, online banking, ATMs

By Sam Howard     |     Feb. 7, 2019 at 2:17 PM

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Wells Fargo is addressing "systems issues" affecting its online and mobile app services, the San Francisco-based bank said Thursday.

At about 12:45 p.m. EST Wells Fargo said on its Twitter account power had been terminated at one of its facilities due to the presence of smoke found by routine maintenance. More than three hours earlier, the bank said on Twitter customers "may be experiencing an issue" with its online services and mobile app.

"We're working to restore services as soon as possible," Wells Fargo said. "We apologize for the inconvenience."

The problems, which Wells Fargo said include "intermittent outages," also affected Wells Fargo ATMs and credit cards, Fox Business reported. By 1:30 p.m. EST, pages on would not load, either.

The issue Thursday was the company's second in a week, after some bank customers couldn't log into their accounts on Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Wells Fargo has dealt with a string of controversies in recent years.

In December, the bank agreed to pay a $575 million civil settlement after it admitted employees created millions of customer accounts that were potentially unauthorized between 2011 and 2015. The settlement tacked onto the hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and fines Wells Fargo had already paid due to the scandal.

A month earlier, Wells Fargo admitted about 545 customers going through foreclosure proceedings lost their homes after they were mistakenly denied loan modifications due to an internal computing error.

R ~ 'due to the presence of smoke found by routine maintenance'... hmm... I guess they never considered a bit of redundancy. This is a pretty lame explanation without some facts.

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