Monthly Archives: January 2017

Trump The Snake Oil Salesman, Foreseen In 1958!

Some Questions For Sinn Fein (And The Media) About Martin McGuinness’ Illness

When a visibly ailing Martin McGuinness submitted his resignation from the post of Deputy First Minister (DFM) in the Stormont Executive last week we were all told that this was entirely an act of protest at the pellet fire shenanigans of his colleague, DUP leader Arlene Foster.

But now it seems that this was not the full story at all. McGuinness is suffering,  we learn, from a rare wasting, genetic disorder which according to some medical websites can be fatal within one or two years of the symptoms appearing.

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This new intelligence prompts a couple of questions: Did Martin McGuinness really quit because he is seriously ill, and not because of Arlene? Or put another way, was he was going to resign for health reasons anyway but some bright spark in SF suggested ‘why not squeeze some political advantage out of the tragedy by telling the media he is going because he really has had enough of the DUP woman?’

We know that McGuinness will never darken the Executive’s door again because already Sinn Fein underlings are openly speculating about who is going to take over as DFM if, or rather when, Humpty is put together again.

The names of Conor Murphy, Gerry Kelly and someone called Michelle O’Neill, apparently the Health Minister, are in the hat. And poor Marty is not even a week out of Stormont! Would they be doing that if there was a realistic chance of his recovery?

As a result of this speculation, some in the media are going so far as to wonder whether Gerry himself might be tempted, a line of thought so detached from all that we have learned and know about the GBO that it almost brings tears of frustration to the eyes.

So it looks as if, once more, we have all been played by Sinn Fein.

None of this would have been possible of course without a credulous media. Could they not see what the viewers immediately saw when McGuinness’ gaunt features and lifeless eyes appeared on their TV screens? A man at the edge of existence who had probably only one thought in his mind as he signed the resignation letter for the cameras, and that was: ‘When am I going to be able to get home to my bed?’.

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During their many years in the political wilderness, the Provos learned one valuable lesson about the media. This is that cowardice is the defining characteristic of my profession.

The Provos very quickly discovered that nothing brought the more stubborn reporters to heel more quickly or effectively than a combination of bullying and McCarthyite intimidation; of particular potency is the slur that journalist A opposes the peace process, or journalist B is a dissident fellow-traveler.

They never had to do this on a widespread basis, just with a select few, in the knowledge that the message would spread to all their colleagues. So most in the media learned that to avoid the same fate the prudent course was to go to SF press do’s, write down what was said and just repeat it on air or in their newspaper – nothing more and nothing less.

Over here, in the US, the American media is beginning to discover what it is like to have to cover someone whose press strategy is remarkably similar, although with one difference; Donald Trump is scatter gun and very public in his attacks on the media, whereas the Provos have always been much more discreet, even secretive, and selective.

That someone is, of course Donald Trump, whose press strategy was on display last week at Trump Tower at a press conference called in the wake of the breaking of the ‘Golden Showergate’ scandal.

The story was first reported the night before when CNN revealed that Trump had been briefed on the scandal by the heads of America’s major intelligence agencies.

He refused to take any questions from, and insulted the CNN reporter dispatched to cover the press conference. It was clearly an act of revenge for CNN’s ‘Showergate’ report and a warning to the rest of the media of what to expect if they behaved in similar vein.

Trump berates CNN reporter Jim Acosta, accusing him of being 'fake news' and refused to take a question from him. He instead turned to a reporter from Breitbart..

Trump berates CNN reporter Jim Acosta, accusing him of being ‘fake news’ and refused to take a question from him. He instead turned to a reporter from Breitbart.

The rest of his colleagues, or at least most of them, sat quietly, waiting their turn to ask a question. Not a voice was raised in protest.

Since then there has been a lot of brave talk in the American media about the need for reporters to band together, to show a united front against Trump’s bullying.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Trump ‘Blackmail’ Document In Full

Sinn Fein Will Never Risk Losing The Good Friday Institutions

A brief word or two about the latest ‘crisis’ to hit the Good Friday institutions, viz the pellet fire scandal which, the media panjandrums confidently tell us, brought about Martin McGuinness’ resignation as Deputy First Minister yesterday.

When I watched McGuinness on the BBC’s website yesterday afternoon my overwhelming thought was that this man isn’t quitting because he is fed up with Arlene Foster, the DUP and their little scheme to enrich their farmer friends (at least those with large empty sheds to heat), although I am sure he is.

No, my thought was that this man wants to go home to be with his family for his last days in this world. McGuinness is a devout Catholic, the sort who daily wears a scapular – so I am assured – and so he would also want to make peace with his God, something that promises to be an interesting exercise. Both would take precedent over Arlene and her tricks, methought.

Call me cynical but I have had more than two decades of dealings with Martin McGuinness’ comrades and so my second thought, based on that toilsome experience, was that what we were seeing was another Provo bunco game designed to make us believe the unbelievable.

The unbelievable in this case is that the Provos would really do something to endanger the Good Friday institutions. Let me explain carefully for slow learners. The Provos gave up their guns, their armed struggle and their republican ideology in return for getting their bums on seats around the Cabinet/Executive table up at Stormont.

They justified ending their war on the basis that a political deal which gave Sinn Fein the leadership of Northern Nationalism and which obliged Unionists to sit in the same room as former gunmen also had the potential to lead to Irish unity (although others would argue that it is more likely that the prime effect would be to reconcile Nationalists with the existence of the Northern state).

Whatever the truth of all that, the Assembly and the Executive, especially the Deputy First Minister slot, are all that the Provos have to show for ending their war. If they truly and seriously endangered the 1998 institutions then that would be an acknowledgement of failure.

It would be a little like that moment at the end of the children’s fairy tale when the King is naked and now everyone can see that.

It would be an admission that constitutional methods do not and can not work in the North of Ireland and an invitation to the gunmen to resume their grisly business.

I suspect that the Unionists, the DUP in particular, know this full well and it helps explain why they have, at times, treated their partners in government with near contempt. The fact is that they have got away with it now for the best part of a decade.

This can, of course, be a risky thing to do. Sometimes you can push people so far or so hard that inevitably they topple over. That Martin McGuinness’ resignation may be something of a shell game does not detract from the reality that unease and anger at the grass roots level of the Provos forced this on their top brass.

But there is another factor that I believe will prevent a crisis becoming a collapse. It is called Gerry Adams’ legacy.

The peace process is overwhlemingly the creation of one man. Gerry Adams began it way back in 1982 when he began talks with the Redemptorist priest Alex Reid (some will argue, justifiably, that it really started with the sabotage of the effort to resolve the 1981 hunger strikes), and slowly, patiently and at great risk to himself, he steered the Provos towards the Good Friday Agreement a full twelve years later.

It will take time but I am confident that history will recognise Adams’ achievement, not to discount what one commentator called ‘the smell of rotten cabbage’ that surrounds him.

I do not believe for one moment that Gerry Adams would countenance a course of action that would seriously endanger an agreement and a set of institutions that will define his role in Irish history.

We shall find out soon enough.

Donald Trump Lied About Disabled Reporter

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The photos above show what a compulsive liar Donald Trump is.

On the left is Serge Kovaleski, a prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. He suffers from a disease known as arthrogryposis, a rare muscle disorder which makes it difficult to flex the muscles and to stretch affected limbs, and which can impact over 80 per cent of the body. It often causes limbs to be distorted and twisted.

On the right is a screen grab from the video of a campaign speech made by Donald Trump, during which the President-elect ridicules and mocks Kovaleski over a dispute between them over claims from Trump that he had seen ‘thousands’ of people celebrating the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers on rooftops in Jersey City, a place with a large Arab-American population.

The incident was at the centre of a critical speech made by actress Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe awards in Hollywood on Sunday night, during which she castigated Trump, whom she didn’t name, for his assault on Kovalesky:

….there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head….

In a series of Tweets calling the Hollywood star ‘over-rated’ and a ‘Hillary flunky’, Trump specifically denied that he had mocked Serge Kovalesky:

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The photos above, and the video below, contradict Trump. The photo shows Trump imitating Kovaleski’s disability almost exactly. Below the video is an explanation from Wikipedia of the dispute between them.

From Wikipedia:

After candidate Donald J. Trump’s assertion (made in a speech delivered on November 21, 2015) that

“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down, thousands of people were cheering, so something is going on. We got to find out what it is. I do want surveillance”

was met with widespread disbelief, the Trump campaign pointed to Kovaleski’s September 18, 2001 report for the Washington Post (co-authored with Fredrick Kunkle) that “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation” as substantiation of the claim.

Kovaleski issued the following written statement in response to the Trump campaign’s adoption of his report as factual basis for their candidate’s assertion that thousands of Muslims in the U.S. publicly celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Center, a claim Trump has used to support his call for the surveillance of mosques and the establishment of a registry for U.S. Muslims: “I certainly do not remember anyone saying that thousands or even hundreds of people were celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember.”

This statement by Kovaleski prompted Trump to remark in a November 25, 2015 speech given in South Carolina, “You’ve got to see this guy: ‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. Uhh, I don’t remember,’ he’s going like ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.'” Trump bent his wrist severely and flailed his arms repeatedly as he spoke giving many viewers the impression that his intent was not only to ridicule the reporter’s words but also to mock the physical appearance of Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis.

Trump later stated that he could not have been mocking Kovaleski’s disability because he did not know what Kovaleski looked like. Kovaleski responded by claiming that he had been on a first-name basis with Trump and had had perhaps a dozen face-to-face encounters with him, including interviews and press conferences, while reporting on Trump for the New York Daily News.

Meryl Streep Speaks Truth About Trump

Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood last night says it all about the monstrosity about to lead the United States, the calamity that is about to overcome the world. When you read this remember, before Hitler went for the socialists, communists, liberals, gypsies and Jews, he went for the disabled. He did that because they were the weakest in society, he calculated few would protest and that would make his pursuit of his other enemies easier. There was method in his madness:

Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.

Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.

Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. O.K., go on with it.

O.K., this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing: Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.

‘Killing Rage’ – A Missing Chapter From The Story Of Eamon Collins’ Life In The IRA

As many regulars of thebrokenelbow.com will know, I have often touted ‘Killing Rage’, as one of the best, if not the best book on the IRA published during the Troubles.

Co-written by former journalist Mick McGovern, ‘Killing Rage’ tells the story of Eamon Collins’s short but eventful life in the IRA during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s which included a spell in the IRA’s spy-catcher unit.

The late Eamon Collins - found battered and stabbed to death in 1999. The IRA is suspected of his killing....

The late Eamon Collins – found battered and stabbed to death in 1999. The IRA is suspected of his killing….

Following an IRA mortar bombing of Newry RUC station in 1985, Collins, a customs officer for part of this time, was arrested and during RUC interrogation  agreed to become a ‘supergrass’ witness against former comrades, a decision which he later retracted.

He managed to beat the charges which had motivated his brief ‘supergrass’ career, was exiled by the IRA on his release but, after spells in Dublin and Edinburgh, Scotland, he took advantage of the IRA ceasefire of 1994 and returned to live in his home town of Newry, where he continued to be a thorn in the side of his former comrades, a hostility that was returned with interest by the Provos. Slogans abusive of Collins were daubed on the walls of homes in the estate where he and his family lived.

In 1995 he agreed to tell his life story on British television and two years later ‘Killing Rage’, written with Mick McGovern, who has since sadly abandoned journalism, was published.

Collins also agreed to give evidence for The Sunday Times when South Armagh IRA leader and subsequent Chief of Staff, Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy unsuccessfully sued the paper for libel. That decision may have sealed his fate.

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A year later Collins was found beaten and stabbed to death not far from his home on the outskirts of Newry. He was so badly injured that he was unrecognisable and police at first thought he had been hit by a car. While no group admitted responsibility, it is widely suspected that he was killed by the IRA in revenge for giving evidence against ‘Slab’ Murphy.

When Mick McGovern and Eamon Collins submitted the draft of ‘Killing Rage’ to Granta, their publisher, sections, including one whole chapter were removed for legal reasons. Thebrokenelbow.com recently acquired the unpublished parts of the original manuscript.

The missing chapter deals with Dave Ewins, a law lecturer at Queens University Belfast Law Department where he was Collins’ tutor. Ewins was a member of the British-based Revolutionary Communist Group which gave unqualified support to the IRA and as his relationship with Collins deepened, he passed on valuable intelligence to the IRA.

Ewins is given the fictitious name ‘Richey’ in the excised chapter.

Enjoy:

Donald Trump’s Shady Russian Connections

Notwithstanding the ongoing controversy over whether or not Russia hacked the Democratic Party to assist Donald Trump’s passage to the White House, and notwithstanding the fact that the CIA’s lies about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD’s robbed that agency almost entirely of credibility in such politically sensitive matters, there is no doubt that Donald Trump has some unsavory business associations in Russia which would give the Putin regime many reasons to do what the CIA et al have accused him of.

In this lengthy, not to say scholarly piece of research by James Henry published in ‘The American Interest’ – with a foreword from that skilled Trump student, David Cay Johnston – Trump’s disagreeable associations with the Russian oligarchy, a class that owes its wealth and freedom to Putin, are minutely charted and described.

As far as I am concerned the jury is still out on who hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails but not on Trump’s repellant relationship with Russia’s ruling class.

Published on: December 19, 2016
Russia & The West
The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections

Did the American people really know they were putting such a “well-connected” guy in the White House?

James S. Henry, Esq. is an investigative economist and lawyer who has written widely about offshore and onshore tax havens, kleptocracy, and pirate banking. He is the author of The Blood Bankers (Basic Books, 2003,2005), a classic investigation of where the money went that was loaned to key debtor countries in the 1970s-1990s. He is a senior fellow at the Columbia University’s Center on Sustainable Investment, a Global Justice Fellow at Yale, a senior advisor at the Tax Justice Network, and a member of the New York Bar. He has pursued frontline investigations of odious debt, flight capital, and corruption in more than fifty developing countries, including Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil, the Philippines, Argentina, Venezuela, and Panama.

Another CIA Failure: Didn’t Foresee Collapse Of Soviet Union

POSTSCRIPT: Since filing this post, the US government has issued another report claiming that Putin hacked the DNC and via this and other processes set out to deliberately aid Trump and damage Clinton’s prospects of winning the presidential election. But the agencies, including the CIA, declined to provide evidence to back up this claim. As The Hill put it: ‘The bombshell document details the intelligence community’s findings but provides little in the way of forensic evidence backing up its assessment, citing the need to protect sources and methods.’ So here’s the choice: believe the guys who lied about Iraq’s WMD’s and missed the fall of the Soviet Union, or retain a healthy skepticism. As for me, I would prefer to push my fingers through the holes in the hand before making up my mind.

 

I have just started reading John Nixon’s book on the CIA’s interrogation of Saddam Hussein, who he says had virtually handed over the reins of power in Iraq to underlings and was much more interested in writing his novel than in pursuing the manufacture of WMD’s when the US decided to invade his country in 2001.

The CIA knew absolutely nothing of this state of affairs in 2001 and when told of it by Nixon preferred to ignore the underlying message, which was that the whole basis of the invasion was deeply flawed and dishonest. Nixon’s view is that the CIA is a highly political outfit and tailors the intel it provides to serving presidents according to the agency’s reading of the president’s political prejudices.

So when it came to invading Iraq, the CIA gave the Bush White House the intel it knew that the neocons wanted to read, which was that Saddam was beavering away at his stockpile of nukes and chemical weapons.

It is worth bearing this in mind when trying to assess the truth or otherwise of the claims that Vladimir Putin’s Russia hacked the DNC email server and provided the resulting material to Julian Assange so as to undermine Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump in their respected campaigns to win the White House.

The men who currently head the US intelligence establishment are in the main political appointees, placed in their positions of power by the Obama White House whose Secretary of State was Hillary Clinton. They will be gone in a few weeks when Trump replaces them with his own people. None of this is to say that this serves as proof that the allegation against Putin are fanciful; but it does raise a reasonable doubt.

The other point about the CIA is that its track record is pretty woeful and if John Nixon is correct then one reason may be this inbuilt politicisation of its prime function.

The Iraq WMD intel is not the only blunder committed by the CIA, although given the death toll, misery, chaos and danger created in the Middle East as a consequence it qualifies as the most disastrous.

But the CIA made what is arguably the greater blunder when it failed to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union, probably the most pivotal political event of the last quarter of the 20th century.

Was that because the CIA was just plain incompetent or because it was so closely wedded to the Cold War, the associated military-industrial complex and the US political interests all this served that it just couldn’t let go?

Here is how The New York Times reported that story. Note how the failure of the CIA’s then director, Robert Gates to notice the most significant political development of his tenure, did not in any way disqualify him from even higher office in both Democratic and Republican White Houses in subsequent years.

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That Julian Assange Interview On Fox In Full