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Putin Carrying Trump Donkey Hotey Creative Commons BY-SA
Wyden Statement on Reported Flynn Conversations With Russian Ambassador Friday, February 10, 2017 Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued the following statement on press reports regarding conversations between National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak: “I have repeatedly pressed the executive branch and FBI Director Comey in particular to provide more information to the American people about Russian interference in our election and any investigations of links between the Russian government and Trump associates,” Wyden said. “These latest reports only underscore the critical importance of a thorough and transparent investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, including open hearings.https://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-statement-on-reported-flynn-conversations-with-russian-ambassador

Note that for the following Common Dreams article we excluded many long quotes that may go beyond “Fair Use,” and replaced with […]. They, and embedded links, may be seen at the original: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/02/13/americas-sake-we-need-answers-about-russia-now It is fairly debatable if Trump is less shrewd than Putin, as the jury remains out. However, Trump has certainly played the American voters by draining the New York Swamp – a historic district at the edge of the financial district – into the DC swamp (historic cesspool). The Glencore-Rosneft mystery appears especially important. We had noticed it while looking at a Reuters article and the Intelligence report, but had no time to follow up on it:”RPT-INSIGHT-How Russia sold its oil jewel — without saying who bought it Posted:Wed, 25 Jan 2017 03:51:27 -0500 MOSCOW/LONDON/MILAN, Jan 24 (Reuters) – More than a month after Russia announced one of its biggest privatisations since the 1990s, selling a 19.5 percent stake in its giant oil company Rosneft, it still isn’t possible to determine from public records the full identities of those who bought it.http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/basicmaterialsNews/~3/R2jyoa8GyMg/russia-rosneft-privatisation-repeat-insi-idUSL5N1FF1X4 https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html

From Common Dreams:
For America’s Sake, We Need Answers about Russia. Now.
Donald Trump’s embrace of Russia and Vladimir Putin and that country’s interference with our election could drag democracy to an early grave. by Michael Winship, Published on Monday, February 13, 2017
Putin Donkey Hotey Creative Commons BY

These first weeks of the Trump White House have felt like one of those tennis ball machines run amok, volley after volley shooting at us in such rapid fire that often the only reaction is to grimace and duck. Outrage after outrage, imperial pronouncement after pronouncement, lie after lie; it’s just one damned, fast and furious, flawed thing after another.
All of this is confusing and distracting and of course, that’s precisely what they want. As the old saying goes, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. It easily distracts us from the real issues, diverting our eyes from those important things that have to be closely examined and resolved if we’re to continue trying, at least, to behave like a free nation.
Outrage after outrage, imperial pronouncement after pronouncement, lie after lie; it’s just one damned, fast and furious, flawed thing after another.
One of those burning issues is Russia, which largely seemed to go off the scope in the days immediately before and after Trump’s mini-inauguration, even though around the election and in the weeks after we heard a great deal about Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the release of emails aimed at defeating Hillary Clinton — allegations that were backed by the US intelligence community. With the FBI, those spy agencies also have been investigating intercepted communications from Russian intelligence. And then there’s that infamous “dossier,” compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, filled with thus far unverified allegations about President Trump’s business dealings with Russia as well as certain salacious tales of his purported extracurricular activities there.
But with last week’s news about Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn’s December phone calls with the Russian ambassador to the United States and word that US intelligence has confirmed some of the information in the Steele dossier, interest in Russia has rekindled — and a good thing, too.


Which raises the famous questions that so bedeviled Richard Nixon: What did Donald Trump know and when did he know it?
The Flynn story was followed on Friday by news from CNN that investigators have now corroborated some of the less personal information in the Steele dossier, conversations among Russian officials:

These latest developments came on the heels of Trump’s astonishing remarks to Bill O’Reilly, in an interview pre-taped for Super Bowl Sunday, when Trump said he respected Putin and O’Reilly noted that the Russian leader is a killer: “There are a lot of killers,” Trump replied, sounding more like a two-bit Al Capone than the leader of the free world. “We have a lot of killers. You think our country is so innocent?”
This is way beyond troubling, so it merits noting some of the other news about Russia that has transpired in the last few weeks, news that might have flown under your radar while Trump’s fusillade of executive orders and tantrums was bombarding your every waking moment.
All of it is serious business, specifically when it comes to figuring out just why Trump is so deeply enamored of Vladimir Putin and how much Russia interfered with our election, and more broadly for what it says about Trump and his chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s vision, God help us, of a world divided and dominated by white nationalists.
For one, and speaking of killers, there’s the matter of the missing Russian intelligence men, all of whom may be connected to the Trump affair. Amy Knight, former Woodrow Wilson Fellow and author of Orders From Above: The Putin Regime and Political Murder, writes in The New York Review of Books, “… Since the US election, there has been an unprecedented, and perhaps still continuing shakeup of top officials in Putin’s main security agency, the FSB, and that a top former intelligence official in Putin’s entourage died recently in suspicious circumstances.”

Then there’s a former KGB and FSB general, Oleg Erovinkin, found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Dec. 26, officially from a heart attack, but as Agatha Christie would say, foul play is suspected. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports:
“Erovinkin … has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now head of the state-owned oil company Rosneft, Sechin is repeatedly named in the so-called Trump dossier…

Through their mutual love of petrochemicals and profits, Igor Sechin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil are pals, and in fact Sechin complained that US sanctions against Russia kept him from coming to America to “ride the roads…on motorcycles with Tillerson.”
In December, Russia announced the sale of a 19.5 percent share of Rosneft, that massive government oil company run by Igor Sechin. He and Putin appeared on television to announce the deal, and Reuters reported that Putin “called it a sign of international faith in Russia, despite US and EU financial sanctions on Russian firms including Rosneft.”
Supposedly the transaction is a fairly straightforward joint venture between Qatar and Glencore, a Swiss firm, but as Reuters noted,
“Like many large deals, the Rosneft privatization uses a structure of shell companies owning shell companies, commonly referred to in Russia as a ‘matryoshka’, after the wooden nesting dolls that open to reveal a smaller doll inside. Following the trail of ownership leads to a Glencore UK subsidiary and a company that shares addresses with the Qatari Investment Authority, but also to a firm registered in the Cayman Islands, which does not require companies to record publicly who owns them.”
So who’s really behind the deal? Its convolutions may have the potential for a John Le Carre novel or Bourne movie. Some have even noted, as Amy Knight does, that coincidentally, “The Steele dossier… mentions that Carter Page, a member of Trump’s foreign policy team during his campaign, had a secret meeting with Sechin in Moscow in July 2016, in which the two reportedly discussed the possible lifting [of] US sanctions against Russia, in exchange for a 19 percent stake in Rosneft (It is not clear from the memo who would get the stake, but apparently it would have been the Trump campaign)” [Italics mine. mw]. She speculates that this, too, may have been another leak by the now-deceased Oleg Erovinkin.

A 19 percent stake in Rosneft, versus a 19.5 percent stake… admittedly, it’s a stretch, and probably nothing more than an odd coincidence, yet stranger things have happened, especially given the Bizarro World we now inhabit. But what’s not a stretch is that beyond the particulars, beyond whatever reasons, blackmail or otherwise, that Trump is so under Vladimir Putin’s spell, there is a global agenda both men share that’s the real danger.
Urged on by his American Rasputin, the ineffable Bannon, for all intents and purposes Trump is promoting white nationalism and what many call “traditionalism,” a worldview shared by Putin. It’s no coincidence that the Russian kleptocrat and his government also are supporting and being embraced by far-right political parties and leaders throughout Europe, including Marine LePen’s National Front in France, Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD), Golden Dawn in Greece, the Ataka Party in Bulgaria and Hungary’s Jobbik Party.

Putin’s motives are pragmatic as well as ideological; distracting his people as he cracks down dissent at home while seeking destabilization in the West and hoping to prevent further expansion of the European Union and NATO. Bannon’s motives seem more messianic and, the greater the influence he exerts on Trump’s thinking (such as it is), dangerous.
Democrats and even some Republicans are demanding answers, several congressional committees have announced probes, individual members like New York’s Jerry Nadler are searching for various maneuvers that will force Trump and the evidence of Russian intrusions into our government and politics out into the open.  But the crisis still cries out for a bipartisan independent investigation.
The bottom line is that Putin is far shrewder than Trump and capable of playing him like a balalaika. And with the likes of foolhardy Bannon, dangerous professional twerp and presidential advisor Stephen Miller, security risk Michael Flynn and others egging Trump on — obsessed with a nightmarish hallucination about America and the world’s future — we live at one of the most dangerous moments in our republic’s history.
Unlike those days 50 years ago when Russia posed a different kind of ideological threat, one that had us building fallout shelters and teaching kids to duck and cover, this is not a drill.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers’ Journal and is senior writer of BillMoyers.com.
” Emphasis our own. The original in its entirety with lengthy quotes and embedded links may be found here. In the case of Haaretz newspaper the already short quote was further shortened and replaced with “…”, rather than […]: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/02/13/americas-sake-we-need-answers-about-russia-now

America and Europe have already largely sold out to Russia in exchange for their petroleum. Even with the so-called sanctions both have continued to import Russia petroleum. Europe and the US still import Russian uranium too. There is no notion of sacrifice. In this context sanctions will never work. Americans were expected to do without sugar and many other things to help the World War II war effort. The overheating which Russia has allowed in Europe now is actually bad for health, the environment, as well as for independence. Several European countries have more cars per capita than the US even though their cities are not built for cars, and there is good public transport. Russia has pumped millions into Marine LePen’s campaign. She says it’s because French banks won’t lend to her. But, without renewable energy independence, there is no real independence anyway.
America could rely completely on solar, with some wind and hydro. The European climate is less extreme most of the year and so could do a combination of renewables and economizing energy. And, the citizens of sunny countries should be discouraged from emigrating, especially to Europe, and benefit from solar at home (e.g. India, Africa, etc.)

America does, however, risk losing the remains of its Free Speech. France is still in a state of emergency and in the early 90s lost the right to criticize police and other public officials. The police and officials can sue for defamation! Free speech is not so prevalent in the world and Americans should not continue to take their rights for granted: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/france-muzzles-free-speech-public-debate-frighteningly-it-is-not-alone-in-europe/
infocomcgt.fr/affiches/item/affiche-la-police-doit-protéger-les-citoyen-et-non-les-frapper Stop the Violence
The leader of French communications union was accused of police defamation over the above poster, despite the fact that the police were abusing peaceful protesters. The status of this case is unknown. infocomcgt.fr/affiches/item/affiche-la-police-doit-protéger-les-citoyen-et-non-les-frapper

Sanctions against Russia? What sanctions?
US Imports from Russia of Crude oil and petroleum products
The US and Europe also import Russian uranium for nuclear power
EU uranium source by country
US Imports Uranium by Country to 2015
Russia Crude Exports by destination
Russia natural gas exports by destination EIA gov