Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Last Call For Bibi In Big Trouble, Con't

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu takes another step closer to resignation and prison as state prosecutors are recommending bribery and breach of trust charges.

A team of attorneys working on behalf of the State Prosecutor's Office recommended on Wednesday to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery charges in two corruption cases, known as Cases 2000 and 4000.

The state prosecutor is likely to charge Netanyahu for breach of trust in his third corruption probe, dubbed Case 1000.

Earlier Wednesday, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan said the team working on the cases completed its assessment, and that deliberations at the attorney general's office would commence in the coming days.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of offering the publisher of the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth Arnon Mozes advantageous government media policy in return for favorable news coverage.

Case 4000 involves suspicions that Netanyahu, in his capacity as communications minister from 2014 to 2017, intervened with regulators to help telecom tycoon Bezeq with a deal worth some 1 billion shekels to its owner, Shaul Elovitch.

In exchange, Elovitch, a long-time friend of Netanyahu’s, allegedly ordered the Bezeq-owned news site Walla to provide favorable coverage of the prime minister and his wife, Sara.

Case 1000 alleges Netanyahu and his wife received lavish gifts from Israeli Hollywood entertainment magnate Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer as bribes for beneficial legislation and personal favors.

According to Nitzan, the attorney general will discuss "the complex ethical and legal issues that arise from these cases based on the opinions he will hear in order to make a decision."

Nitzan also said that the opinion drafted by the prosecutor's office is 800 pages long. Despite the fact that police published its recommendations on Case 4000 only two weeks ago, the preparation of the opinion on this case started earlier.

Again, the final decision to indict will be up to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, but Bibi's office is screaming that these "leaks" from the state prosecutors amount to undue pressure for him to resign.  For his part, Mandelblit continues to support the police and state prosecutors publicly, so we'll see.  If Netanyahu is indicted, he's done politically and everyone knows it.

Stay tuned.

A Syria's Withdrawal

Well, we know what smokescreen Trump is using to deflect from the atrocious legal news heading into the holidays: Donald Trump is declaring "victory" in Syria and planning an immediate and full withdrawal of all US forces there as a present to his buddy Vlad Putin.

The Trump administration is planning to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, a defense official said on Wednesday, as President Trump declared victory against the Islamic State.

The president, in a message on Twitter, said the United States had "defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency."

His statement came shortly after news organizations reported that the White House had made a decision on Tuesday to abruptly remove the entire U.S. force of more than 2,000 troops from Syria and end the extended American ground campaign against the Islamic State.

Trump has long promised to conclude the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and has questioned the value of costly and dangerous military missions overseas. But U.S. troops, working alongside Syrian partner forces, have struggled to eradicate remaining pockets of militants in central Syria. An abrupt American withdrawal would raise questions about whether the militants would be more easily able to regain strength.

The decision is the latest twist in American leaders' unsuccessful quest to craft a solution for Syria's long civil conflict, which has drawn in U.S. allies and adversaries including Turkey, Russia and Iran.

Both the Trump and Obama administrations have resisted becoming more involved in Syria's larger civil war but many senior officials - including at the State Department and Pentagon - have supported an ongoing troop presence in Syria until security conditions improve and a political solution can be reached.

Defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision that has not yet been announced, said the withdrawal was expected to occur as quickly as possible and would affect the entire force of more than 2,000 U.S. service members. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Wednesday that U.S. troops would be removed from northeast Syria.

That's the cover story, all US troops will be out by the end of March 2019 because we "won".  The reality is that Donald Trump is handing Syria over to the Assad regime, Iran, and Vladimir Putin, who will now establish permanent military bases there to contain NATO forces in neighboring Turkey.  Combined with Russian influence in Cyprus off the Syrian coast, it's a major military foothold in the region.

And of course, ISIS isn't going anywhere.  It's a gift-wrapping by Trump to two of his fellow autocrats.  Merry Christmas Vlad, the last two years could not have gone better for neo-Soviet empire-building.  Turkey will have free rein to bomb Syrian Kurds on the border, Assad can finish off the rebels at his leisure (and with Russian help) and Iranian-backed ISIS can surround Iraq.  It'll get very bloody, very quickly, and a whole lot of people are going to die as a result.

2019 is going to be brutal for Syria if this happens, and the blowback will haunt us for decades.

Welcome To Washington, Rookie

Newly-elected Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's first order of business is to get punked by the Village press as Politico says her first act is to primary Brooklyn Dem Rep. Hakeem Jeffries out of his seat.

Ocasio-Cortez, who ousted House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley earlier this year in a shocking primary victory, put colleagues on notice for future primaries just days after the November election, telling a livestream audience that she and an allied group, Justice Democrats, would keep working together to boost anti-incumbent challengers — though she didn’t name names. But a person who has discussed the project with Ocasio-Cortez and her team said the congresswoman-elect has recruited an African-American woman to challenge Jeffries, who was just elected to replace Crowley as caucus chairman — the No. 5 House Democratic leadership position.

The person who spoke with Ocasio-Cortez and her team, who asked for anonymity to discuss a private conversation, called Jeffries the “highest priority” primary target of Ocasio-Cortez.

A second person with direct knowledge of Justice Democrats’ primary plans said the group is “looking” at Jeffries’ seat. Since Justice Democrats put out a call for potential targets, the group's supporters have singled out Jeffries as a member they would be “excited” to oppose. “We’re not going to shy away from New York,” the second person said.

What's so awful about Hakeem Jeffries then, that he deserves to be drummed out of Congress?

Jeffries has sparked the ire of Justice Democrats for several reasons. The group feels Jeffries takes too much money from corporate interests, a key litmus test, and is overly friendly with banking and pro-charter school interests. But Ocasio-Cortez is also unhappy that a campaign donation to her from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) was allegedly used in a whisper campaign against Lee before her narrow loss to Jeffries in the recent race for Democratic caucus chair.

“It’s personal for Ocasio,” said the person who spoke with Ocasio-Cortez and her staff. "And she’s going to go all out to take him out.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s communications director denied that she had already recruited an anti-Jeffries candidate.

“We’re not looking at recruiting people to run campaigns, we’re looking at building a congressional staff," said Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent.

But when asked whether the congresswoman-elect is looking at Jeffries' seat, Trent said Ocasio-Cortez and her allies were "disappointed" with Jeffries after the caucus chair race.

“We’re disappointed in the way that the leadership elections went down, specifically that leadership election," said Trent. "We would have liked to have seen that be a more fair fight with less pressure."

Now, we should probably take this with an entire salt mine because it's TEAM WIN THE MORNING here saying this and the lesson here is Ocasio-Cortez is definitely calling bullcrap on this story.

Considering Politico's track record in starting "Dems in disarray!" fights, I'm going to have to say "Do better, Politico."  The bad guys here aren't the Democrats.  And good for AOC to fight back on this.


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