|Wednesday 08th of January 2020
06-JAN-2020 :: The Assassination (The Escalation of 'Shadow War')
Law & Politics
The Crisis Group's Robert Malley Told the @nytimes: “Whether
President Trump intended it or not, it is, for all practical purposes,
a declaration of war.”
The Truth is that General Soleimani along with Christian Russia and
the courageous Syrian people, KEPT 3 & 1/2 million Christians in Syria
from being slaughtered by ISIS and al Qaeda! @DrDavidDuke.
Qasem Soleimani was an iconic Figure known as The “Commander of
Hearts” and “Soleiman the Magnificent” a reader of Gabriel García
Márquez and of course the Leader of Iran’s Quds Force whom a a former
C.I.A. officer called the “most powerful operative in the Middle East
It was Sulemaini who led the fight against Saddam As Revolutionary
Guard commanders, he belonged to a small fraternity formed during the
Sacred Defense, the name given to the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from
1980 to 1988 and left as many as a million people dead. “This is the
Dasht-e-Abbas Road,” Suleimani said, pointing into the valley below.
“This area stood between us and the enemy.” Later, Suleimani and the
group stand on the banks of a creek, where he reads aloud the names of
fallen Iranian soldiers, his voice trembling with emotion. During a
break, he speaks with an interviewer, and describes the fighting in
near-mystical terms. “The battlefield is mankind’s lost paradise—the
paradise in which morality and human conduct are at their highest,” he
says. “One type of paradise that men imagine is about streams,
beautiful maidens, and lush landscape. But there is another kind of
The front, he said, was “the lost paradise of the human beings.”
The Supreme Leader, who usually reserves his highest praise for fallen
soldiers, has referred to Suleimani as “a living martyr of the
“In the end, he drank the sweet syrup of martyrdom.”
At the beginning of From Russia With Love (the movie not the book),
Kronsteenn is summoned to Blofeld’s lair to discuss the plot to steal
the super-secret ‘Lektor Decoder’ and kill Bond. Kronsteen outlines to
Blofeld his plan
Blofeld [read Trump]: Kronsteen, you are sure this plan is foolproof?
Kronsteen [read Pompeo]: Yes it is, because I have anticipated every
possible variation of counter-move.
Let me predict some counter moves.
Pompeo tweeted a Photo of about 20 Iraqis [I joke not] Iraqis — Iraqis
— dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani
is no more. @SecPompeo
I responded by asking Are you prepared for 1m Iraqis at the Embassy in
Baghdad next Friday @SecPompeo ?
What happens if Ayatollah Sistani issues a fatwa asking US troops to leave?
The first prediction is that the US Iraq misadventure is now over, the
only open question is around the timing.
The dogs of war is a phrase spoken by Mark Antony in Act 3, Scene 1,
line 273 of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "Cry 'Havoc!,' and
let slip the dogs of war."
The Iranians kept their Allies from Yemen to Lebanon to the Eastern
Province in Saudi Arabia to Bahrain and all points in between on a
leash. Trump released that leash.
I expect Oil to come off the boil this week because Iran will not
react immediately but the spike risk will remain sky high and the
price will spike when the counter move is made.
This is an Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment. Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Carl Ludwig Joseph Maria of Austria (18 December 1863 – 28 June 1914)
was the heir presumptive to the throne of Austria-Hungary. His
assassination in Sarajevo is considered the most immediate cause of
World War I.
Baghdad was officially mediating between Tehran and Riyadh, at the behest of Trump. And Soleimani was a messenger @zerohedge Escobar
Law & Politics
The bombshell facts were delivered by caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister
Adil Abdul-Mahdi, during an extraordinary, historic parliamentary
session in Baghdad on Sunday.
Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani had flown into Baghdad on a normal carrier
flight, carrying a diplomatic passport.
He had been sent by Tehran to deliver, in person, a reply to a message
from Riyadh on de-escalation across the Middle East.
Those negotiations had been requested by the Trump administration.
So Baghdad was officially mediating between Tehran and Riyadh, at the
behest of Trump. And Soleimani was a messenger.
Adil Abdul-Mahdi was supposed to meet Soleimani at 8:30 am, Baghdad
time, last Friday. But a few hours before the appointed time,
Soleimani died as the object of a targeted assassination at Baghdad
Let that sink in – for the annals of 21st century diplomacy. Once
again: it does not matter whether the assassination order was issued
by President Trump, the US Deep State or the usual suspects – or
After all, the Pentagon had Soleimani on its sights for a long time,
but always refused to go for the final hit, fearing devastating
Now, the fact is that the United States government – on foreign soil,
as a guest nation – has assassinated a diplomatic envoy who was on an
official mission that had been requested by the United States
Baghdad will formally denounce this behavior to the United Nations.
However, it would be idle to expect UN outrage about the US killing of
a diplomatic envoy. International law was dead even before 2003’s
Shock and Awe.
Under these circumstances, it’s no wonder the Iraqi Parliament
approved a non-binding resolution asking the Iraqi government to expel
foreign troops by cancelling a request for military assistance from
Predictably, Yankee will refuse the demand. Trump: “If they do ask us
to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge
them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian
sanctions look somewhat tame.”
US troops already are set to remain in Syria illegally – to “take care
of the oil.” Iraq, with its extraordinary energy reserves, is an even
more serious case. Leaving Iraq means Trump, US neocons and the Deep
State lose control, directly and indirectly, of the oil for good.
And, most of all, lose the possibility of endless interfering against
the Axis of Resistance – Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah.
Apart from the Kurds – bought and paid for – Iraqis all across the
political spectrum are tuned in to public opinion: this occupation is
That includes Muqtada al-Sadr, who reactivated the Mahdi Army and
wants the US embassy shut down for good.
As I saw it live at the time, the Mahdi Army was the Pentagon’s
nemesis, especially around 2003-04. The only reason the Mahdi Army
were appeased was because Washington offered Sadr Saddam Hussein, the
man who killed his father, for summary execution without trial.
For all his political inconsistencies, Sadr is immensely popular in Iraq.
Hezbollah’s secretary-general Sayyed Nasrallah, in a very detailed
speech, goes to the jugular on the meaning of Soleimani’s
Nasrallah tells how the US identified the strategic role of Soleimani
in every battlefield – Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan,
He tells how Israel saw Soleimani as an “existential threat” but
“dared not to kill him. They could have killed him in Syria, where his
movements were public.”
So the decision to assassinate Soleimani in public, as Nasrallah reads
it, was a psyop. And the “fair retribution” is “ending the American
military presence in our region.”
All US military personnel will be kept on their toes, watching their
backs, full time. This has nothing to do with American citizens: “I’m
not talking about picking on them, and picking on them is forbidden to
With a single stroke, the assassination of Soleimani has managed to
unite not only Iraqis but Iranians, and in fact the whole Axis of
On myriad levels, Soleimani could be described as the 21st century
Persian Che Guevara: the Americans have made sure he’s metastasizing
into the Muslim Resistance Che.
No tsunami of pedestrian US mainstream media PR will be able to
disguise a massive strategic blunder – not to mention yet another
blatantly illegal targeted assassination.
Yet this might as well have been a purposeful blunder. Killing
Soleimani does prove that Trump, the Deep State and the usual suspects
all agree on the essentials: there can be no entente cordiale between
Saudi Arabia and Iran. Divide and rule remains the norm.
Michael Hudson sheds light on what is in effect a protracted
“democratic” oil war:
“The assassination was intended to escalate America’s presence in Iraq
to keep control of the region’s oil reserves, and to back Saudi
Arabia’s Wahhabi troops (Isis, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other
divisions of what are actually America’s foreign legion) to support
U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the US dollar. That
remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the
process of escalating, not dying down.”
Neither Trump nor the Deep State could not fail to notice that
Soleimani was the key strategic asset for Iraq to eventually assert
control of its oil wealth, while progressively defeating the
Wahhabi/Salafist/jihadi galaxy. So he had to go.
For all the rumble surrounding Iraqi commitment to expel US troops and
the Iranian pledge to react to the Soleimani assassination at a time
of its choosing, there’s no way to make the imperial masters listen
without a financial hit.
Enter the world derivatives market, which every major player knows is
a financial WMD.
The derivatives are used to drain a trillion dollars a year out of the
market in manipulated profits. These profits, of course, are protected
under the “too big to prosecute” doctrine.
It’s all obviously parasitic and illegal. The beauty is it can be
turned into a nuclear option against the imperial masters.
I’ve written extensively about it. New York connections told me the
columns all landed on Trump’s desk. Obviously he does not read
anything – but the message was there, and also delivered in person.
This past Friday, two American, mid-range, traditional funds bit the
dust because they were leveraging in derivatives linked to oil prices.
If Tehran ever decided to shut down the Strait of Hormuz – call it the
nuclear option – that would trigger a world depression as trillions of
dollars of derivatives imploded.
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) counts about $600 billion
in total derivatives. Not really. Swiss sources say there are at least
1.2 quadrillion with some placing it at 2.5 quadrillion. That would
imply a derivatives market 28 times the world’s GDP.
On Hormuz, the shortage of 22% of the world oil supply simply could
not be papered over. It would detonate a collapse and cause a market
crash infinitely worse than 1933 Weimar Germany.
The Pentagon gamed every possible scenario of a war on Iran – and the
results are grim. Sound generals – yes, there are some – know the US
Navy would not be able to keep the Strait of Hormuz open: it would
have to leave immediately or, as sitting ducks, face total
So Trump threatening to destroy 52 Iranian sites – including priceless
cultural heritage – is a bluff. Worse: this is the stuff of bragging
by an ISIS-worthy barbarian.
The Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas. ISIS nearly destroyed
Palmyra. Trump Bakr al-Mar-a-Lago wants to join in as the destroyer of
Revelation 6:12-13: When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earth- quake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fr
Law & Politics
Revelation 6:12-13: When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and
behold, there was a great earth- quake, and the sun became black as
sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky
fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken
by a gale.
Number Of Animals Feared Dead In Australia's Wildfires Soars To Over 1 Billion @Sydney_Uni @WWF_Australia @HuffPost
Law & Politics
Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, told HuffPost
that his original estimate of 480 million animals was not only
conservative, it was also exclusive to the state of New South Wales
and excluded significant groups of wildlife for which they had no
“The original figure ― the 480 million ― was based on mammals, birds
and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a
little bit out of date. It’s over 800 million given the extent of the
fires now ― in New South Wales alone,” he said.
“If 800 million sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing
line,” he added.
That figure excluded animals including bats, frogs and invertebrates.
With these numbers included, Dickman said, it was “without any doubt
at all” that the losses exceeded 1 billion. “Over a billion would be a
very conservative figure,” he said.
An environmental scientist at the World Wildlife Fund Australia,
Stuart Blanch, confirmed these estimates, reiterating that, given the
expansion of the fires since the last calculations, 1 billion was a
“It’s our climate impact and our obsession with coal that is helping
wage war on our own country,” Blanch said.
Critically endangered species, including the southern corroboree frog
and mountain pygmy-possum, could be wiped out as fires ravage crucial
habitat in Victoria’s Alpine National Park and New South Wales’s
neighboring Kosciuszko National Park.
Threatened species, such as the glossy black cockatoo, spotted-tail
quoll and long-footed potoroo (both small marsupials), are also facing
real risks of extinction in large parts of their range.
Koalas have lost more than 30% of their key habitat in New South Wales
and may have lost a third of their population in that region, federal
environment minister Sussan Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Dickman said it would be a “tough” recovery for the iconic Australian
marsupial, dependent on the availability of their food ― eucalyptus
tree leaves ― after the blazes sweep through.
Who Is Jared Kushner? @NewYorker
Law & Politics
On December 13, 2016, Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner,
attended a meeting in a building not far from Trump Tower, in the
Madison Avenue offices of Colony Capital. One month after Trump’s
surprise win in the Presidential election, Kushner met with Sergey
Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, or VEB, a Russian state-owned
development bank. Kushner, in later congressional testimony, said that
his goals in the meeting were purely diplomatic. The Russian
Ambassador to the U.S. had told him that Gorkov had a “direct line to
the Russian President who could give insight into how Putin was
viewing the new Administration and best ways to work together.”
That month, Vladimir Putin arranged an “ ‘all-hands’ oligarch
meeting”—as one of the oligarchs in attendance, Petr Aven, described
it to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators—to discuss
U.S.-Russia relations. At least three of Russia’s most prominent
oligarchs subsequently tried to solidify ties with a man who seemed
their perfect counterpart: a young American oligarch whose family had
grown wealthy with a healthy assist from government programs—the
President-elect’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Through the Russian
Ambassador’s persistence, Gorkov got the meeting. According to
Kushner, the two discussed U.S.-Russia relations—business was not on
the agenda. But a VEB spokesperson told the Washington Post something
altogether different. As described by the Post, “The bank maintained .
. . that the session was held as part of a new business strategy and
was conducted with Kushner in his role as the head of his family’s
real estate business.” As most Americans struggled to discern what a
Trump Presidency would bring, the Russians accurately predicted that
Kushner would be an immensely powerful figure in the incoming
Administration, and that talking business could be a route to
When questioned by Mueller’s investigators, Kushner went out of his
way to convey the idea that he thought little of the meeting with
Gorkov—seemingly in an effort to bolster his argument that he in no
way conspired with Russian state actors during the 2016 Presidential
election. According to the Mueller report, “Kushner stated in an
interview that he did not engage in any preparation for the meeting
and that no one on the Transition Team even did a Google search for
Gorkov’s name.” But Gorkov had prepared. He carried with him two gifts
that showed he’d conducted a careful and deliberate investigation into
the young man he was meeting. As Kushner explained in a July, 2017,
statement to congressional investigators, one was a piece of art from
Novogrudok, “the village where my grandparents were from in Belarus,
and the other was a bag of dirt from that same village.”
The selection of a bag of dirt as a gift was particularly resonant:
Jared’s grandmother, Rae Kushner, was one of a few hundred survivors
of the Nazis in the Novogrudok ghetto, in what is now Belarus but was
then northeastern Poland. Thousands of Jews from the area had been
murdered, shot as they stood on the edges of giant trenches, so that
they would fall directly into their own mass graves. The survivors
were imprisoned in a ghetto, enslaved by the Nazi war machine. To
escape, the residents smuggled bits of wood, spoons, and any other
implements they could find past Nazi guards and used them to dig a
tunnel that extended beyond the searchlights and barbed wire. They put
the dirt they dug up into bags and hid the bags in the walls of the
ghetto, so that the Nazis wouldn’t discover their plan.
Mueller found that, during the Presidential campaign, dirt on Hillary
Clinton was the currency the Russians had tried to trade with Kushner
and the Trump campaign. Now the Russians were giving Kushner a literal
bag of dirt, the symbol of the Kushner family’s miraculous survival
story—a story that includes undeniable courage, irrefutable ingenuity,
and lying about family relationships to enter the United States.
After the Second World War, anti-Semitic immigration laws sharply
limited the number of Jews allowed into the United States. In 1949, in
order to increase his chances of obtaining an American visa, Rae’s
husband and Jared’s grandfather, Yossel Berkowitz, posed as his
father-in-law’s son, listing Kushner as his name on U.S. immigration
paperwork, and renaming himself Joseph Kushner. As a result, his son
Charles was called Charles Kushner, not Charles Berkowitz, and his
grandson was Jared Kushner, not Jared Berkowitz. Jared’s wife’s
married name would be Ivanka Kushner, not Ivanka Berkowitz.
One form prepared for the Kushner family by aid workers listed “Naum,
51,” as the family patriarch, with “Josef, 26,” as his son. “Raja,”
also twenty-six, was listed as Naum’s daughter-in-law.
Raja’s—Rae’s—“maiden name” was given as “Sloninski,” a version of
Joseph’s maternal grandfather’s surname. Their country of origin was
recorded as “Germany,” a more favorable country of origin for
immigration purposes than their real home country, Poland.
The Kushners had listed a sponsor in the U.S., but, before they
landed, the sponsor disavowed any knowledge of them, according to a
note made by an aid worker in the hias case file. They had two dollars
to their name when they arrived in New York, in March, 1949. For three
months, hias sheltered them and gave them a food allowance, with extra
for Passover, which was just weeks after their arrival. The group even
helped the family find jobs.
Joe began work as a carpenter, in New Jersey. Carpenters were in high
demand in the postwar years; in New Jersey, a thousand homes were
built a week, for a thousand straight weeks. Soldiers returning from
the war, and their newly growing families, needed homes, and builders
received a huge boost from U.S. government programs. The G.I. Bill
provided low down payments and long loan terms. The mortgage
income-tax deduction helped middle-class families buy homes and build
wealth, with government backing. The Federal-Aid Highway Act, a
twenty-five-billion-dollar program, passed in 1956, stimulated home
construction in the suburbs by making commutes to factories and
offices faster. This act, which established the biggest federal
infrastructure program in U.S. history, fuelled the economy and made
builders such as Joe Kushner rich. At the time of his death, in 1985,
Joe had built four thousand homes—all of them above ground, unlike the
pit he inhabited in Poland during the war—and he had accumulated tens
of millions of dollars. Four of those homes were mansions for his
children, which he built in the New Jersey suburbs of West Orange and
Livingston—areas that were newly opening to Jews.
By the time Joe built homes for his sons Murray and Charlie,
Livingston had become a town of conspicuous consumption. “Everybody
was trying to impress everyone else with what they had. They had to
have the best,” one former town official told me. The median income
was well above the national average, and housing prices were
increasing at more than two times the rate of inflation. Joe built
Charlie a large house on a large lot. Down the hill, in a small home
on a small lot, lived the captain of the high-school baseball team,
who, even then, was getting involved in politics: Chris Christie.
In 1985, Charlie set up Kushner Companies, with the idea of going into
business with his father. But Joe died soon after, and Charlie, bereft
and left to lead the company alone, expanded his father’s business
model from primarily focussing on development to dealing with
acquisition, management, and debt as well.
The Kushners were part of a wealthy, aggressive, and fiercely private
coterie of developers in New Jersey known as the “Holocaust builders.”
Charlie, though, was a public guy. He was written about in the press.
He made attention-getting donations to philanthropic causes and to
politicians, most of them Democrats. President Bill Clinton,
Vice-President Al Gore, and the New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani came
to his offices, in Florham Park. Hillary Clinton visited the Kushners’
beach home, in Long Branch, for a Shabbos dinner, during her Senate
campaign in 2000. But Charles Kushner’s biggest donations by far were
to support a candidate for governor in New Jersey. Kushner and his
associates gave one and a half million dollars to Jim McGreevey, part
of more than three million in donations that he made to Democrats,
making him the biggest Democratic donor in the state by the end of the
During that time, Charlie became known for his generous
gestures—showing up at shivas, sending flowers and letters, appearing
at hospital bedsides when associates’ children became ill. He lived in
an expansive house, on Fawn Drive, in Livingston, with a large atrium
and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, and his home became the family
gathering spot. Charlie was the fun one, athletic and outgoing. At
these conclaves, the boys played basketball and baseball in the
backyard. The girls played in the basement. On Shabbat, Charlie’s home
was the hub. Rae brought over matzo-ball soup; she had a special
recipe, with tomato in it.
Every year, for Passover, Rae took the whole family to the
Fontainebleau hotel, in Miami Beach—a high-rise arc of white concrete
surrounded by myriad pools and decks and palm trees. Rae would pay for
the whole family. She would rent a row of adjacent rooms. The
cousins—Rae had more than a dozen grandchildren—would run from room to
room, bouncing on beds and hanging out on balconies, clutching the
twenty-dollar bills that Rae gave each of them for the arcade.
Joe had been a strict parent, and Charlie was more so. His family’s
behavior was circumscribed; his children weren’t even allowed to wear
jeans—dungarees, he called them. Joe’s grandchildren attended a
Yeshiva that Charlie and his brother Murray had endowed: the Joseph
Kushner Hebrew Academy. Their sports jerseys said “Kushner” on the
front and “Kushner” on the back. Charlie’s eldest son, Jared, was
universally described as a polite boy, particularly deferential to his
parents. In one family photo, all the cousins are wearing
sweaters—except for Jared, who is dressed in a button-down shirt and a
By the time of Jared’s bar mitzvah, both he and Charlie had become
increasingly focussed on the bright lights of Manhattan. The bar
mitzvah was a black-tie event, held at a midtown hotel. Hundreds of
people attended, including members of the New York Giants football
team. A central part of the bar-mitzvah ceremony is the reading of a
story from the Torah. Jared read Beshalach, the part of the Exodus
story in which God parts the Red Sea for the Israelites and then
allows the waters to flood the pursuing Egyptian army. “Jared is my
favorite grandchild,” Rae said. A week later, Charlie’s sister held a
bar mitzvah for her son Jacob, also black-tie, but in New Jersey and
without N.F.L. players in attendance. “Jacob is my favorite
grandchild,” Rae said.
In the late nineteen-nineties, Charlie Kushner started pushing limits.
He began drinking more, and, when he did, he could become verbally
abusive, including at the family gatherings. He began making political
donations in the names of his family members and business partners,
without their knowledge, in violation of campaign-finance law. He used
corporate funds for personal expenses: landscaping, “holiday alcohol,”
New Jersey Nets tickets, paying a consulting firm to assess the
comeback prospects of Benjamin Netanyahu, then between stints as the
Prime Minister of Israel. In 2002, Charlie’s brother Murray—who had
his own business but whose ties to his brother’s business were
cemented by a series of interlocking trusts that Joe had created to
minimize taxes—sued Charlie for misusing corporate funds.
In legal filings, Charlie’s attorneys argued that he’d done nothing
wrong and that his donations enhanced the prestige and power of the
family real-estate business. “Charles Kushner’s activity, both
charitable and political, has raised his name and reputation in the
broader real estate community as a prominent real estate developer and
an individual who dedicates his success to the well-being of his
community,” the lawyers wrote in a filing with the Federal Election
Commission. “Thus, Charles Kushner’s and the charitable and political
contributions made by the various Partnerships have been beneficial to
each of the partnerships.”
His brother Murray’s civil lawsuit caught the attention of the new,
politically ambitious United States Attorney for New Jersey, Chris
Christie, who had been appointed by President George W. Bush, in 2001.
Christie’s investigators began the arduous task of tracing
interlocking limited-liability companies—L.L.C.s—through corporate
ledgers. Charlie fought back, hiring the kind of white-collar lawyers
who can frequently make cases like this go away. They could not. So
Charlie took things into his own hands. He had become convinced,
erroneously, that his brother Murray and his sister Esther—named for
Rae’s older sister, who was murdered by the Nazis—had secretly been
working with Christie, from the beginning, to bring him down.
Charlie called Jimmy O’Toole, an East Orange police captain on the
verge of retirement, who was also Charlie’s running buddy, and offered
him a lucrative gig. Sitting at his desk, in his vast office, Charlie
passed O’Toole an accordion file stuffed with twenty thousand dollars
in cash and asked him to hire a prostitute to seduce and entrap
Esther’s husband, Billy Schulder. For months, the scheme stalled.
O’Toole, raised as an altar boy, was consumed by guilt. One day,
O’Toole took the file of cash back to Charlie’s office, but Charlie
wouldn’t take no for an answer. He handed O’Toole a phone number. “I
want you to call this number and say you’re a friend of John’s,”
Charlie told him. It was a phone number for a Manhattan prostitute
named Susanna, “a high-priced, European-born call girl on Manhattan’s
Upper East Side,” as Christie described her in his book “Let Me
Finish.” Finally, O’Toole called Susanna.
On a snowy day in December, 2003, O’Toole’s brother Tommy, a private
investigator, recorded a video tape of the encounter between Schulder
and Susanna. Charlie asked the O’Tooles to make copies of the video
and to print eight-and-a-half-by-eleven-inch still photographs, with
the woman’s face pixelated out. For months, Charlie did nothing. In
March, Rae passed away. In May, Christie began sending out target
letters, a sign that his investigation was intensifying. Two days
after they were received, Charlie called O’Toole and asked him to have
Tommy send the video and the stills to Esther on the eve of her son
Jacob’s engagement party. Jacob had been born just a week after Jared,
and the two boys had grown up like brothers. Charlie wanted to send
the package to Jacob, too, and to Jacob’s two sisters. Jimmy O’Toole
talked him out of it.
Upon receiving the video, Esther recoiled in shock. She called her
lawyer, who brought it to the attention of Christie, who soon
thereafter indicted Charlie on charges of witness tampering, tax
fraud, and campaign-finance violations. “When people under
investigation decide to take the law into their own hands, to obstruct
justice, to attempt to impede the rule of law,” Christie said at a
press conference, “it is our obligation to act swiftly and surely to
end the obstruction.”
Charles Kushner pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers predicted that he
would be exonerated. But, in the next month, Christie showed that he
had more cards to play. It wasn’t a coincidence that Charlie had told
Jimmy O’Toole to call Susanna and tell her he was a “friend of
John’s.” Prosecutors learned that, for years, Charlie had been living
a double life, using the pseudonym John Hess to travel to Manhattan
and avail himself of Susanna’s services, seven people with knowledge
of Charlie’s activities told me.
As the years went on, Jared’s sense of victimization solidified.
Christie “tried to destroy my father,” Jared later said, as described
by Christie in “Let Me Finish.” “There was a dispute inside the
family,” Christie quotes Jared as saying. “My father made those people
rich, and they did nothing,” Jared said. “They just benefited from my
father’s hard work. And those are the people who turned him in. It
wasn’t fair.” And then, “This was a family matter, a matter to be
handled by the family or by the rabbis”—not by prosecutors.
After Charlie’s imprisonment, Kushner Companies sold off most of its
suburban empire, and Jared Kushner bought an aluminum-clad tower in
midtown Manhattan—the “Mad Men”-era 666 Fifth Avenue—for the
record-breaking price of 1.8 billion dollars, using a risky structure
of debt to make the purchase. Around the same time, he bought a
newspaper, the New York Observer, a salmon-colored newsweekly known
for aggressively getting “up in the pipes” of New York’s key
industries: finance, real estate, advertising, entertainment, media.
(I worked at the Observer for eight years, and left three years before
Jared Kushner bought the paper.)
Almost immediately after Jared purchased it, the paper changed. The
Observer’s editor, Peter Kaplan, complained that Jared pushed him to
assign a story that would be a “hit job” on Chris Christie—whose star
had risen since he sent Jared’s father to jail. Kaplan refused. Jared
denied targeting Christie, but former employees recalled him boasting
about upcoming “hit jobs” in the paper. According to former Kushner
employees, when the paper published one of these “hit jobs,” Kushner
would point to the story, as if to suggest: This could be you.
In October, 2009, Jared Kushner married Ivanka Trump, and soon their
businesses were working together. Both prolific political donors from
families of prolific political donors, Jared and Ivanka’s attention
was a coveted object among New York’s political class. Part of what
was sought after was Jared’s influence, as a newspaper publisher of
the élite. Over time, a pattern emerged in the Observer’s
journalism—it was transactional. The paper published a glowing piece
about the Kushner family’s private banker. Jared pushed for what his
editors saw as an attack piece about a fellow real-estate mogul,
Richard Mack, who was an executive at an investment fund that owned
some of the Kushner’s debt and had warned Jared not to raise rent for
one of the biggest tenants at 666 Fifth Avenue, because it would drive
them away. (After multiple writers couldn’t find any evidence of
wrongdoing on Mack’s part, no story was written.) The Observer had to
approach three different reporters to find one to write a negative
profile of then Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had recently
filed suit against Jared Kushner’s father-in-law, over Trump
University. Before that piece ran, Trump tweeted that the piece would
“get even” for another magazine story, one that accurately portrayed
the fraudulent dealings at Trump University.
Kushner Companies was—dozens of employees and associates and partners
who worked with the Kushners told me—a tightly knit family business,
where no one with the last name Kushner could be at fault for
anything, and no one else was safe. Jared and Charlie could be warm
and caring and attentive. When an employee’s relatives were sick or
dying, the Kushners could be generous to a fault. But the constant
threat of their mercurial tempers created a deep sense of unease.
Jared “was lovely until he was not,” a leader of one of New York’s
largest real-estate companies told me in an interview. “Until you had
a falling out and were dead to him and he was out to get you.”
In November, 2015, Jared Kushner, the son of a man who’d gone to
prison for, among other things, making illegal donations to Democrats,
flew with his father-in-law to a campaign rally in Springfield,
Illinois. “We don’t have victories anymore,” Trump said at that rally.
“We’re stupid. We have stupid people leading us.” That night in
Illinois was an awakening, Kushner told Forbes in a rare post-election
interview, “People really saw hope in his message.” Kushner said that
he realized “they wanted the things that wouldn’t have been obvious to
a lot of people I would meet in the New York media world, the Upper
East Side, or at Robin Hood [Foundation] dinners.”
Jared saw himself as a disrupter, people who worked with him told me.
His grandparents had, improbably, survived Nazi-occupied Poland,
escaped, and immigrated to America, against all odds. His father, in
contrast to the other “Holocaust builders,” had aggressively raised
his profile and his family fortune. And Jared had found success by
taking what others saw as impossible, foolhardy risks: becoming, in
his mid-twenties, the publisher of a weekly newspaper in an era when
newspapers were cratering, purchasing 666 Fifth Avenue on the eve of
the Great Recession. The building had nearly failed when the Kushners
managed, barely, to refinance it. The lesson he took from this,
according to someone familiar with the deal, “was not ‘holy shit, I
almost lost everything,’ it was ‘I should take on as much risk as I
Jared Kushner threw himself into his father-in-law’s campaign. It was
a business model he was exceedingly familiar with—a family business.
As Trump’s lead grew over the months, Kushner expanded his role in
Trump’s foreign policy.
As Trump closed in on the nomination, complaints emerged regarding his
heated rhetoric. A fringe of the U.S. body politic that had largely
lived below the surface poked its head up: white supremacists and
neo-Nazis. In December, 2015, Trump called for a “total and complete
shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” after a gunman killed
fourteen people in San Bernardino, California. In the summer of 2016,
Trump retweeted an image of Hillary Clinton and a six-sided star, both
superimposed on piles of cash. An entertainment writer at the
Observer, Dana Schwartz, published an article in which she asked
Kushner how he could countenance such behavior. “You went to Harvard,
and hold two graduate degrees,” Schwartz wrote. “I’m asking you, not
as a ‘gotcha’ journalist or as a liberal but as a human being: how do
you allow this?”
Kushner penned his own response. “This is not idle philosophy to me. I
am the grandson of holocaust survivors,” Jared wrote, describing the
multiple horrors his grandparents had experienced. “I go into these
details, which I have never discussed, because it’s important to me
that people understand where I’m coming from when I report that I know
the difference between actual, dangerous intolerance versus these
labels that get tossed around in an effort to score political points.
The difference between me and the journalists and Twitter throngs who
find it so convenient to dismiss my father-in-law is simple. I know
him and they don’t.”
By the time of this exchange, unbeknownst to almost everyone, Jared
had attended a now-infamous meeting at Trump Tower, with Donald Trump,
Jr., Paul Manafort, and emissaries of a Russian oligarch the Trumps
had once worked with, to discuss “some official documents and
information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with
Russia,” as one member of the group wrote in an e-mail to Donald
Trump, Jr. No one seemed to question the seamless pivot from business
to politics to discussing “Russia and its government’s support for Mr.
Trump” and dirt on Hillary Clinton, which, by this time, the Russian
government did indeed have.
After Trump’s surprise victory, the Russians were back again, seeking
strengthened ties with Trump and Kushner. The meeting with Gorkov was
just a part of this strategy. At the time the meeting occurred, there
was not much of a vetting apparatus inside the transition team. By
federal law, because transitions are vulnerable times, all campaigns,
including Trump’s, had to name a transition chief months in advance,
for national-security reasons. Trump hired Chris Christie, who
scrutinized applicants for Administration positions and, with his
aides, put together some thirty binders of information. A few weeks
later, Jared saw to it that Christie was fired. The thirty binders
were tossed into the dumpsters behind Trump Tower.
Last December, the Washington Post, in a periodic update of a running
tally it keeps, found that President Trump had made 15,413 false or
misleading statements since taking office. As impeachment proceedings
have continued, his rate of false claims has increased, reaching an
average of thirty-two per day last fall. In 1967, in an essay called
“Truth and Politics,” which was published in The New Yorker, Hannah
Arendt warned where mendacity can lead. “The result of a consistent
and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lies
will now be accepted as truth, and the truth be defamed as lies, but
that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the
category of truth vs. falsehood is among the mental means to this
end—is being destroyed.”
Truth has been replaced by a new currency: dirt. That is what Donald
Trump was seeking in Ukraine. That is what Russia was offering in
Rae Kushner, who died in 2004, pushed for remembering, for the past
serving as a caution for the future, for building an edifice of fact
and truth that would stand as a levee against the rising tide of
relativism that was, for her, the vanguard of a murderous regime.
“People should know what happened to us,” Rae said in 1982, in
testimony she gave at Kean College. “If we are not going to tell now,
in twenty years, I don’t know who’s going to be to tell. And now we
have still the strength and the power to do this, and to warn the rest
of the world to be careful: Who is coming up on top of your
Fifteen years after his grandmother’s death, Jared Kushner defends his
father-in-law’s contention that refugees are a danger to the United
States. Indeed, he has been tasked with overseeing the construction of
a wall at the southern border and has been a prime advocate of
installing a “wall cam” to record the building of the wall in real
In a June, 2019, interview for “Axios on HBO,” Jonathan Swan asked
Kushner how he justified Trump’s drastic cuts in the number of
refugees allowed in the United States, given his own grandparents’
experience. “It doesn’t make a difference one way or the other,”
Kushner replied. “In the scheme of the magnitude of the problem we
have, I think that we’re doing our best to try to make as much impact
to allow refugees to be able to go back to their places.”
A divide has emerged in the Kushner family, though, regarding Rae’s
legacy and how to honor it. “I have a different take away from my
Grandparents’ experience in the war,” Jared’s first cousin Marc
Kushner, Murray’s son, wrote on Facebook, in 2016, after Jared invoked
their grandparents while defending Trump against charges of racism and
anti-Semitism. “It is our responsibility as the next generation to
speak up against hate. Anti-Semitism or otherwise.” Marc’s sister
Melissa posted a similar message on Instagram the day of the Tree of
Life massacre, in Pittsburgh, which coincided with the birth of Marc’s
daughter. “I will not allow hate to beget hate, but rather use hate to
embolden kindness and love,” Melissa wrote.
Jared Kushner continues to defend his father-in-law. In his “Axios”
interview, Swan asked Kushner if Trump has ever done anything that he
would “describe as racist or bigoted.” Kushner responded, “Absolutely
not.” Swan then asked Kushner about Trump’s 2015 proposal to bar
Muslims from entering the country. “Would you describe that as
religiously bigoted?” Swan asked. Kushner deflected. “Look, I think
that the President did his campaign the way he did his campaign,”
Kushner said. Swan asked again, “But do you wish he didn’t, do you
wish he didn’t make that speech?” Kushner responded, “I think he’s
here today and I think he’s doing a lot of great things for the
country, and that’s what I’m proud of.”
Africa's 'dinosaurs' are dying out @mailandguardian
Africa’s dinosaur leaders are members of an increasingly small and
Popular protests last year forced Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz
Bouteflika, out of office after almost 20 years in power, as well as
Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years.
In 2017 Robert Mugabe was deposed in a military coup (although this
was denied) after 40 years.
And in 2011 mass protests led to the downfall of Tunisia’s president,
Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, after he had been in power for 23 years.
Somewhat smoother are the political transitions in Angola and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). José Eduardo dos Santos, after
almost 38 years in power, stepped down from office in 2017 as his term
So did his younger neighbour, Joseph Kabila, in January 2019, after 18
years in the presidency.
What the six former leaders had in common was that they wanted to
remain heads of state and considered succession planning or stepping
down only as a last resort.
This year will be crucial for the six countries in political
transition particularly as the reform-window period is short.
From A to Z
Algeria: Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied in the capital
Algiers and other cities against the December 2019 elections,
rejecting what they see as sham transitional politics. A soft-landing
for Algeria in 2020 is unlikely, and what happens in the year has
significant regional implications.
Angola: A transition is under way, led by President João Lourenço.
This shift is smoother than many others, but 2020 will be the
watershed year. The country has been in economic recession for four
years but is predicted to see gross domestic product growth in 2020.
Investment and job creation will determine the pace of change. The
honeymoon period has ended and there are signs of increasing
frustration among the urban youth and the middle class.
DRC: Despite his constitutionally mandated term expiring in December
2016, Joseph Kabila continued his presidency by continuously
postponing elections until December 30 2018. This election saw a
three-way contest between the Union for Democracy and Social Progress
(UDSP), the Engagement for Citizenship and Development party and the
People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD). Fèlix
Tshisekedi of the UDSP was declared the winner by the Independent
National Electoral Commission on January 10 last year with 38.6%
votes. He was followed by Martin Fayulu of the Engagement for
Citizenship and Development party, with 34.8%. He denounced the
election results. In third place was Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, of the
PPRD, a key ally of Kabila.
Although this was the first peaceful transition of power in DRC, there
were widespread electoral inconsistencies and some observers believed
that Fayulu was the legitimate winner. In 2020 it will become clearer
whether a genuine transition from Kabila’s influence is taking place.
Sudan: More promising than the DRC or Algeria, a 39-month transitional
administration led by a technocratic prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok,
has been established and enjoys domestic and international goodwill.
This honeymoon is likely to be short, and the transitional
administration needs to show results. The United States can help by
removing Sudan from its terror list, thereby lifting the de facto ban
on Sudan’s access to the dollar-based international financial system.
Tunisia: A low-profile, conservative law professor beat a charismatic
media magnate released from prison in the presidential election runoff
in October 2019. Kais Saied won 70% of the vote and his victory and
the putting together of a new governing coalition is another step
forward in an open-ended democratic transition that started in 2011
after Ben Ali fell.
Zimbabwe: This is a deeply troubled transition with an acute foreign
exchange liquidity crisis, a deteriorating economy, hyperinflation and
underperforming government. The state’s clinics and hospitals are
closed or turn away patients as medical supplies run out and the
doctors’ strike over decimated wages continues.
There are power outages and almost half of the people face hunger and
starvation as a result of drought and the economic crisis.
Zimbabwe’s 2020 looks bleak, a far cry from the euphoria of two years
ago when a “military assisted transition” removed Mugabe and replaced
him with Emmerson Mnangagwa.
More changes coming
So what do these political developments in 2019 tell us more broadly?
Long-standing leaders have been persistent in Africa, despite the end
of single-party rule in favour of a multiparty system. About a fifth
of all African heads of state since independence can be classed as
long-standing leaders — in power for more than a decade — and only
five countries have never experienced one. But the trend is in
It remains most resilient in central Africa and in the Great Lakes
regions. Cracks are appearing in their citadels in Malabo and Kampala,
but in 2019 Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo
celebrated 40 years in power and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni 33 years.
Will there be any more departures from the dinosaurs club in 2020?
One of the shortest serving members of this club, President Pierre
Nkurunziza (14 years in power) has said he will not stand for the 2020
elections in Burundi, although this is uncertain given that a 2018
constitutional referendum could allow him to stay in power until 2034.
Togo’s Faure Gnassingbé (14 years in power) will stand for re-election
to the presidency again after Parliament in 2019 approved a
constitutional change permitting him to potentially stay in office
Lust for power: President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo has been in power
for 14 years and the Constitution has been changed to allow him to run
for office until 2030. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)
Amending constitutions to change term limits so that incumbent leaders
can run for office is a favoured tactic. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame (19
years in office) and the Republic of Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso (25
years in power) have done this. But Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki has never
held an election during his 16 years in power.
Attempts at dynasties have been less successful, such as with Grace
Mugabe in Zimbabwe or Gamal Mubarak in Egypt, but Obiang is grooming
his playboy son Teodorin to succeed him and Gabon’s Ali Bongo and
Togo’s Gnassingbé both succeeded their fathers.
The year is a reminder that more of these long-standing leaders will,
in 2020 and beyond, step down or die. Most long-standing leaders in
Africa are over the age of 70, with Paul Biya, aged 86, having served
37 years as Cameroon’s president.
Some former leaders capitulated under internal pressure: in Algeria,
Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. Only in Angola, the DRC and Zimbabwe was
a transition process organised as part of an elite bargain.
What the political transitions have in common is that honeymoons are
short and that, whether they are led by interim administrations or
elected leaders, they need to deliver political and socioeconomic
improvements to succeed, but have inherited shambolic economies.
Their success depends on accountable political leadership and domestic
and international support.
14-OCT-2019 :: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 2 Vanity[a] of vanities, says the Preacher 2 Vani- ty[a] of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 2 Vanity[a] of vanities, says the Preacher 2 Vani-
ty[a] of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[c] nor will there be any
re- membrance of later things[d] yet to be among those who come after.
It seems to me that we are at a pivot moment and we can keep
regurgitating the same old Mantras like a stuck record and if we do
that this turns Ozymandias
''My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck,
boundless and bare.
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
11-FEB-2019 :: Africa and the 'vision' thing
Cape Town on February 3rd 1960 and by a British Prime Minister Harold
Macmillan who said; ‘’The wind of change is blowing through this
continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national
consciousness is a political fact’’
Today as we scan our Continent, There are plenty of fluid situations,
from Bashir’s Khartoum to Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe and many points in
Young People are connected to each other and to the World. So far it
is Prime Minister Abiy who appears to be sketching out a new African
political horizon and this brings me to the ‘’Vision’’ thing.
Where is it? Who is providing it? Its high time we authored it because
this is a ‘’Born Free’’ generation.
Ethiopia Returns to Double-Digit Economic Growth @economics
Ethiopia forecasts economic growth will accelerate to 10.8% for the
fiscal year ending in July underpinned by its reforms, from 9% in the
previous year, according to the National Bank of Ethiopia.
“The proper implementation of the recently launched Home Grown
Economic Reform Program is expected to contribute toward developing a
modern, vibrant, competitive and sound financial system,” according to
the NBE annual report.
Economic reforms by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government have
renewed interest from investors and attracted billions of dollars in
financial support from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund
and the World Bank.
Abiy, last year’s Nobel laureate, has opened up Ethiopia’s once
tightly controlled political and economic space since taking power in
April 2018. Africa’s second-most populous nation is liberalizing
state-owned telecommunications, sugar and energy companies.
Ethiopia’s current-account deficit narrowed to $4.5 billion in 2018-19
from $5.3 billion a year earlier, the central bank said. Exports were
$2.77 billion, compared to $15.1 billion of imports in the same
.@orange Picks @BNPParibas @MorganStanley to Advise on Africa IPO @business
The company would follow Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s Africa unit and Helios
Towers Plc in seeking to tap a wider investor base and raise capital
The company’s Middle East and Africa business reported 1.67 billion
euros ($1.8 billion) of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes,
depreciation and amortization in 2018.
It accounted for about 13% of the group’s adjusted Ebitda, Orange said
in a June investor presentation.
Sales from the region rose 5.1% that year to 5.2 billion euros. Orange
has a presence in about 20 countries across Africa and the Middle
East, with major markets including Senegal, Ivory Coast and Mali,
according to its website.
When Nigeria rebased its GDP, adding in things like the music industry and Nollywood, Nigeria's output leapt from $270bn to $510bn. @TheAfricaReport
Davido, D’banj, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage… Nigerian musicians are global
stars. But behind the VIP-studded after-parties, and signings with
major labels, is the 100% Naija ecosystem that got them there.
When Nigeria rebased its GDP, adding in things like the music industry
and Nollywood, Nigeria’s output leapt from $270bn to $510bn. The music
you hear in Lagos nightclubs today is almost exclusively Nigerian – a
far cry from a few decades ago.
“It’s connecting Africa to the world and connecting the world to
Africa,” says Ogbeni, as we meet this time at the Eko Hotel in Lagos.
And as the internet upends business model after business model, the
streaming generation of musicians and industry players are trying to
“Take his last three releases, for example. All two minute songs or
slightly shorter. Why?” asks The Africa Report’s West Africa editor,
Eromo Egbejule. “Music economics to game the system and maximise
Ajibade recently told Rolling Stone: “In the West I can make gambles
and book venues by myself, because I have data [about my listeners]. I
know that in New York, I have about 500,000 listeners a month. So I
know I can have 1,000 people at my concert. And I know 30% are from
Brooklyn so I can do a show near where they live. I don’t have that
data back home. Nigeria has 36 states. I’ve not even toured 10, and
that’s partly because my fans are consuming the music in an alternate
way that is not trackable.”
In Lamu county, the coastal region of Kenya, some civilians are moving out of their homes into small towns for safety. @VOANews
NAIROBI - In Lamu county, the coastal region of Kenya, some civilians
are moving out of their homes into small towns for safety.
The development comes a day after the al-Shabab militant group stormed
a military base that hosts U.S. and Kenyan counter-terrorism forces,
killing three U.S. personnel.
Witnesses say people are moving out of villages near the Manda Bay
airfield, for fear of further attacks or getting caught in clashes
between security forces and al-Shabab fighters hiding in the nearby
Anab Haji is a member of the county assembly of Lamu. Her constituency
falls under the area that came under attack.
“People are in fear, and people have been moving out of the village to
the nearby town, that’s Hindi and Mokowe. We have villages like
Mkondoni. We have Sinambio, Kausara. So people are in fear, that’s why
they are going to town. But the security is very tight. Our military
are doing a good job,” she said.
On Sunday, al-Shabab militants stormed the base, damaging several
aircraft and vehicles before they were driven out by the American and
The U.S. Africa Command in a statement said the three men killed were
an American serviceman and two contractors. Two more contractors were
wounded, and they were in a stable condition.
One man who lived close to the camp moved to Hindi town which is about
five kilometers from the base for safety.
“If people can attack such a military camp that for a powerful
country, what about ordinary people like us who just walk with
nothing," he said.
"There are security officers present, but these people know officers
are there, and they are still coming, so you can’t know. You don’t
want to take risk, want to be caught cannot between the officers and
Since the attack Sunday morning, Kenya has beefed up security in and
around Lamu county, which borders Somalia.
Security analyst Abdullahi Halakhe told VOA that al-Shabab is trying
to exploit political developments in the Horn of Africa, including the
upcoming Somali election.
"There is no good relationship between Mogadishu and Nairobi, and now
al-Shabab is taking advantage of all of that," he said.
"The election is this year, Kenya and Somalia are not in a good
relationship, AMISOM winding down if everything goes as plan this
year. All these things are brought together, al-Shabab is taking
advantage of that, and we might be able to see some of these attacks
Al-Shabab has carried out frequent terror attacks in Kenya since 2011,
when Kenya sent soldiers to Somalia to fight al-Shabab.