CIA reportedly pulled a spy out of Russia in 2017 because it feared Trump would tell the Russians

NBC and CNN reported September 10, 2019 that the CIA pulled a long-time spy out of Russia in 2017, after President Trump confided secret intelligence provided by Israel to two Russian officials.

The man was purportedly a high-ranking official in the Russian government who had provided years of information to the US. According to CNN, “According to CNN’s sources, the spy had access to Putin and could even provide images of documents on the Russian leader’s desk.”

In May 2017, in a meeting in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, Trump disclosed intel about ISIS in Syria that had come from Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump, sharing a light moment with his handlers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Trump welcomed Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat to the White House for Trump’s highest level face-to-face contact with a Russian government official since he took office in January. (Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP)

The intel was not cleared to be shared by the Israelis. Trump had closed that meeting to all but a Russian photographer, so alarm bells apparently started going off at the CIA after that. Worried that Trump might share information about all sorts of matters that the Russians would find useful, the CIA decided to pull out the spy.

Probably, the spy freaked out after reading the story about Trump sharing info and asked for his evacuation.

Now, NBC reports that the man is now living in the DC area under his own name. NBC somewhat comically reported attempting to talk to the man at his residence:

“An NBC News correspondent went to the man’s house in the Washington area and rang the doorbell. Five minutes later, two young men in an SUV came racing up the street and parked immediately adjacent to the correspondent’s car. The men, who identified themselves only as friends of the Russian, asked the correspondent what he was doing there. A former senior national security official said the men were likely U.S. government agents monitoring the Russian’s house.”

It took five mins for the man’s security detail to arrive! Let’s hope the spy doesn’t end up like some of Putin’s other enemies, like that double poisoning in the UK last year.

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How does Trump not understand Tit-for-tat in International Trade?

With so many stories these days conjecturing about Trump’s mental well-being (here’s the latest, written by a Republican political strategist), perhaps nothing he says or does should come as a surprise.

This story still astounds though, since it indicates that the President lacks the mental capacity of an adolescent. As we all know, Trump has been engaging in a trade war with China that consists of Trump raising tariffs on Chinese imports into the US, and then China retaliating by raising tariffs on US imports into China. Its been going on for over a year now, since spring 2018. Trump claims he started the trade war because China was unfairly treating the US in its trade relations by maintaining an artificially low yuan exchange rate, being biased against US goods, violating US copyrights and patents, and overall just not importing enough from the US. Fine. This is understood and many his supporters agree with him (even when it hurts their bottom line, as is the case with many US farmers).

Oh, and Trump also incorrectly states that China is paying the tariffs, which is like saying that Mexico was going to pay for his wall. The companies buying the Chinese goods and importing them into the US are the ones who pay the tariffs to US authorities, and they pass these tariffs costs off directly to consumers who buy them in the US.

So anyways, back to the story: The US and China have been trading blows back and forth over the past year and a half, with Trump declaring increases in tariffs every so often, which are always duly reciprocated by Chinese increases in tariffs. This idea of reciprocity is also known as tit-for-tat, and its the basic underlying principle of international relations…actually, all social relations. Whatever action you take against another, they can and will do the same thing back to you. Treat others as you want to be treated, aka the Golden Rule.

So it comes as a surprise that reports tell of Trump becoming angry that China would dare retaliate after his latest announcement of a tariff increase in late August 2019. According to CNBC: “The president was outraged after he learned Aug. 23 that China had formalized plans to slap duties on $75 billion in U.S. products in response to new tariffs from Washington on Sept. 1. His initial reaction, communicated to aides on a White House trade call held that day, was to suggest doubling existing tariffs.” He had to be talked down by Treasury Secretary and financial matters babysitter Steven Mnuchin, who warned him that such an increase in such a short time period could devastate the stock market.

Steven Mnuchin and wife, in happier times. Washington, USA – 15 Nov 2017
Credit: Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock (9224878a)

How does he not understand that China would reciprocate, even after they’ve reciprocated countless times? Why does anyone think this madness can continue? CNBC also reported that the US manufacturing sector declined for the first time in three years, which along with others signs, is pointing to a possible US recession.

Pence displays U.S. military might in a show of force in….Iceland

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, midway through a European tour that his boss was supposed to take, showed up in Iceland today with a massive show of force. Pence’s Secret Service detail was augmented with snipers on rooftops, helicopters hovering over buildings, bomb-sniffing dogs, the Reykjavik police force, backup police from neighboring towns, and a special Icelandic “Viking SWAT” police force. Oh yeah, and six military planes overflew the country prior to the visit.

All of this for an island of 350,000 people with the 3rd lowest murder rate in the world. Iceland is so peaceful that its President shops and goes to the hot spring baths without a security detail.

Trump said that Pence was “straight out of central casting” after interviewing him for VP

Trump Picks a Fight with U.S. ally Denmark over Greenland

The life span of a news story having to do with the Trump Administration is about one week, so it’s probably safe to encapsulate the bizarre story of Trump’s desire to buy Greenland, the large island located in the North Atlantic. Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, meaning that it governs itself but allows Denmark control over its foreign affairs.

According to reports first broke by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. President Donald Trump has for the last several months been asking around to see if the U.S. government can purchase Greenland from Denmark. The rumors came to a head mid-August with the Wall Street Journal report. Trump himself confirmed the rumors on August 18.

The U.S. purchase of Greenland would finally complete the encirclement of the Great Northern Threat of Canada

The people and politicians of Greenland and Denmark did not take so kindly to the interest however. Greenland’s foreign minister replied that the country was “open for business, not for sale.” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen replied that Trump’s idea of trying to purchase the island was “absurd,” which led Trump to cancel an upcoming trip to Denmark to celebrate the U.S.-Denmark relationship. He labeled Frederiksen’s remarks as “nasty” (an adjective which he has used before to criticize women such as Hillary Clinton and Meghan Markle) and then canceled the long-planned trip. It’s a funny way to conduct foreign relations with allies, to say the least.

A purchase of such a large mass of land by the U.S. government would be astounding and historic, especially by the political party that advocates small government and fiscal conservatism. It brings to mind the U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia, which was negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State William Seward in 1867. The purchase become known popularly as “Seward’s Folly” until the Klondike Gold Rush started in 1897. Fossil fuel extraction in Alaska began with the first oil well in 1902.

It would not be the first time that the U.S. has explored purchasing Greenland either. The Truman Administration offered Denmark $100 million for the island in 1946. Seward himself tried looking into purchasing Greenland in 1868 after the Alaska Purchase. It should be noted that Greenland hosts Thule Air Base, an American military installation.

The riff between Trump and his Danish counterpart, in addition to past U.S. administrations’ interest, is apparently a big enough deal that the Issues Correlates of War (ICOW) dataset, which tracks territorial disputes around the world, is now considering this an official territorial dispute (according to ICOW’s Facebook page).

So why would Trump want to buy Greenland? Of all the issues going on around the world at the moment, why is he thinking about this?

Greenland is believed to hold many natural resources, but is covered in ice. That ice though is melting at a precipitous rate due to global climate change. CNN just reported here that Greenland lost 11 billion tons of ice in just one day. This of course will result in those natural resources being more easily extractable within the next few decades.

It is possible though that Trump is concerned about his legacy as U.S. president. Completing the one thing he actually knows how to do, purchasing real estate, may be his way of making his mark in U.S. (and Greenland) history. Of course, such a move probably would not make up for all the horrible moves he has made as president – including putting migrants in cages, starting trade wars with China and others, and overseeing the disintegration of the U.S. prestige and hegemony.

Animals Spies are Back!

Six years after enraged Egyptians caught and imprisoned a spy bird (and later released, killed, and ate it), animals moonlighting as spies are back in the news.

Back at the end of April 2019, Norwegian fishermen became intrigued by a white Beluga whale that was wearing a harness and harassing their boats. Experts have come to believe that the whale has possibly been trained by the Russian navy to do something, though that something is still the subject of debate. Is it a spy whale, a whale saboteur, or a whale trained to disrupt shipping lanes?

Martin Biuw of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway and Audun Rikardsen of the Arctic University of Norway both cite the Russian navy as the likely master of the spy whale.

Whatever type of nefarious training it is, one thing is clear…the whale is kind of cute. And the fishermen don’t seem too threatened by it. No word yet whether the Norwegians have eaten the whale…

The Oncoming Filipino-Canadian Trash War

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte is threatening to start a war against Canada if Canada does not take back trash that was shipped to Manila by a private company five years ago.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte waving hello to Canada

According to news reports, the Canadian company, Chronic Plastics, “reportedly shipped 103 containers holding 2,450 tons of trash between 2013 and 2014. While they were labeled as recyclable plastics, Philippine inspectors found them to not be recyclable.” Surprise surprise! North Americans do not know how to properly sort their trash!

The trash now sits in long-abandoned shipping containers sweltering in the heat. Local news reports say there could be “as much as 2,500 tons of trash in 103 shipping containers.”

One of the shipping containers of Canadian trash

To be fair, the Philippines has been complaining to Canada about the trash ever since the containers were opened. During a visit to Manila in 2015, local reporters asked Trudeau about the garbage, and Trudeau replied that “a ‘Canadian solution’ was in the works and he vowed to make legislative changes to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.”

In June 2018, the Philippines’s Office of the Ombudsman ruled against Chronic Plastics, finding that it shipped the cargo without proper import clearances. The company stated that the contents were recyclable plastics, but in actuality, they contain old wires, CDs, used plastic cups and soiled adult diapers and other reeking household trash, making them worthless as recyclables.

Still you have to wonder what Duterte’s usual histrionics will accomplish, other than to boost his own domestic support. The Philippines should take the case to the World Court at the Hague since the Basel Convention, to which Canada is a signatory, was made to reduce trash being sent from developed to developing countries.

Mexican/Korean leads raid of North Korean ’embassy’ in Spain

A mysterious raid on a North Korean diplomatic compound in Madrid (which serves as its embassy) has been blamed on an equally mysterious Mexican/Korean individual. Spanish authorities are pointing to Adrian Hong Chang as the leader of the raid that took place on February 22. According to El Pais, “The 35-year-old is a US resident with a Mexican passport who ‘owns several dubious companies and is in contact with various intelligence services.’”

Hong Chang is a known critic of Kim Jong Un’s regime who has testified against North Korea in front of the Canadian Senate in 2016. Hong Chang also started a NGO called Liberty in North Korea that has helped North Koreans defect. More recently, Hong Chang identified himself as the president of the Joseon Institute, a thinktank devoted to preparing for a post-Kim North Korea.

Hong Chang giving the ubiquitous TED talk

In the Feb 22 raid, the perpetrators tied up the occupants of the compound, struck one or more of them, and stole hard drives and documents. A group named Cheollima Civil Defense (CCD) took responsibility for the raid. The same group also helped the son of Kim Jong Nam go into hiding after Nam, Un’s older half-brother, was killed by women hired by North Korean agents at the airport in Kuala Lumpur in 2017. After the raid, Hong Chang contacted the FBI and passed over information taken from the diplomatic compound.

Most of his fellow suspects are said to be South Korea. The Spanish authorities have issued international arrest warrants for the suspects.

The North Korean diplomatic compound in Madrid was raided on Feb 22

So why target the North Korean compound in Spain of all places? Could it be a provocation against North Korean government’s most well known foreign employee, the Special Representative of the Foreign Ministry of North Korea, Alejandro Cao de Benós.

As we’ve described in past entries (we’re still in the process of adding our archives to the new site), Alejandro is a Spaniard who used to cosplay with other European weirdos in North Korea military uniforms. He used his IT expertise to build websites for the North Korean foreign ministry and they finally hired him as a plenipotentiary to represent the regime overseas. Alejandro currently lives in Spain and visits North Korea a couple of times a year. Perhaps the Madrid raid was an attempt to embarrass Alejandro or hurt his standing with the Kim regime.