Russian Mercenary Drama in Mali

Russian Mercenary Drama in Mali

Mali is a landlocked country in western Africa

Russian Mercenary Drama in Mali

By Nicholas Waithaka and D. S. Mitchell

Increasing Instability in Mali

Mali has been a hotbed of political unrest for decades, making it vulnerable to external interference from players like Russia and China. Over the past few months, reports indicate that the head of Mali’s military junta, Colonel Assimi Goita, has negotiated a deal that would bring approximately 1,000 mercenaries from the Wagner Group into the country. Mali has had escalating security and political problems, but a turn to international paramilitary actors may become the proverbial slippery slope.

A Spiderweb Of Interference

The Wagner group, first appeared in Ukraine in 2014, where it assisted the Russian military in the annexation of Crimea. Since then, a spiderweb of paramilitaries, mercenary organizations, and businesses interestingly linked to Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin have emerged under the general name; the Wagner Group.

Encouraging Instability 

In Syria the Wagner Group supported embattled President Bashar al-Assad while securing a foothold in the country’s energy sector.  In other unstable areas around the world such as Libya, Sudan, Madagascar, Mozambique and now Mali, a Russian paramilitary group is providing military support to unpopular, and undemocratic governments. The Wagner Group has become a shorthand name for a mostly opaque and extensive network of mercenary services. In fact, U.S. intelligence services caution the benign name may disrupt our ability to think about what they do and how they operate.

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Alexi Navalny And His Current Situation

Alexi Navalny And His Current Situation

Jones William and D. S. Mitchell

Massive protests 

Alexi Navalny is a pain in Putin’s side.  Allies of the Russian dissident began protests April 21st, 2021, demanding Putin’s most vocal critic receive proper hospital care. People despite government crackdowns on protests showed up in large numbers.  Many supporters believe only mass protests can save Alexi’s life and many people are willing to risk imprisonment and harassment by the police.

Alexi Navalny Today

Alexi Navalny was arrested the day he returned to Russia after being treated in Germany for what appeared to have been a nerve agent poisoning.  During this most recent imprisonment, on March 31st, 2021, Navalny went on a hunger strike, demanding proper medical treatment for loss of sensations in his hands and legs and severe back pain.

Deteriorating

Recent news reports indicate an electrolyte imbalance. His high potassium levels increase his risk for a cardiac arrhythmia. His personal physician pleaded that Navalny should be moved to an intensive care unit because of his deteriorating condition.  Navalny also risks severe renal impairment.  Navalny’s wife, Yulia, said her husband’s weight is down to 167 lbs from 187 lbs when he started the hunger strike at the end of March.

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What Flag is Flying Over the White House?

By D. S. Mitchell

A Long Relished Impeachment

I went to bed, watching MSNBC’s The 11th Hour w/Brian Williams. I don’t know when I fell asleep. The station played while I slept fitfully, visions of impeachment dancing in my head.  The thoughts of the long relished impeachment of Donald J. Trump seemed to be sharing stage with another vision. Red, white, and blue, spun polyester twisted weirdly on a brisk breeze. Even in my confused sleep, I knew something was wrong.  Something was very wrong.

What Flag Flies?

I couldn’t make sense of it.  What the fuck?  Confused, I twisted my head back and forth trying to clear the distorted image. Why does the flag look so strange?  The stars; where are the stars?  OMG.  The stripes aren’t the stripes of My flag, and My country.  The flag flying over this nightmare White House is strange to me. Suddenly, in my restless dream I identified the tri-stripe red, white, and blue of Russia.

Ukrainian Special Envoy Resigns

My eyes flew open.  Joe and Mika were talking with the usual crowd at the “Morning Joe” conference table. The topic centered around Ukrainian Special Envoy, Kurt Volker’s sudden and unexpected resignation.  I shook my head. The rest of the commentary centered on Trump officials and outliers like Rudy Colludy making a sweating fool of himself on numerous cable channels over the week-end.

Rudy Colludy

“Since when does the personal attorney for a president become an arm of the U.S. State Department?” I found myself asking. It seems Rudy has mixed several roles in his Ukrainian campaign. Official, unofficial, who the hell cares, he says. I think a whole bunch of us care, Rudy. Since when does the personal attorney to a sitting president change hats from hour to hour. Rudy’s conflict of interest is blinding. The intent to interfere in an American election is screaming for attention. Rudy has gone from an admired former mayor of New York City to a social pariah. He has cemented his legacy as a treacherous colluder.  I am curious; just who is paying him?  I doubt it is Donald Trump.

Nightmares

I know there is a lot of political wrangling going on in the Congress. The Trump coalition is claiming another “witch-hunt”. The Dems are claiming treachery, obstruction of justice, bribery, and election tampering, for starters. Impeachment is becoming a reality. Personally, from what I can see, Trump went on national television and admitted that in his “perfect” conversations with the Ukrainian president Zelensky he tried to blackmail and coerce a foreign official to dig up dirt on a political opponent. What are the Republicans claiming? That Trump didn’t say it? Please. After a criminal admits his guilt his attorney cannot deny culpability; as long as the criminal is deemed to be sane.

Putin The Beneficiary

The conversation seems focused on Trump’s conversations with Ukrainian officials. Yes, the Ukraine is a major player, but certainly not the single most important participant in this scandal. Behind the curtain is the true manipulator of our foreign policy, Vladimir Putin. Trump has spoken to him via telephone no less than 12 times. He has met personally with the Russian president at least twice. I want to see those conversations. When we do, I’m sure we will find Putin behind Trump’s activities. Impeachment is unavoidable. Trump won’t permit anything else. He cannot be constrained by the Constitution, so it is up to the Congress to bridle this out of control dictator, while we can still claim a government.

RESIST, CONFRONT and VOTE.

D. S. Mitchell

Part V: Behind The Curtain

Part V: Behind The Curtain

D. S. Mitchell

At the end of Part IV: Behind The Curtain, David Cay Johnston told the reading audience that he had never seen evidence that Donald Trump was now a billionaire, or ever has been a billionaire.   I have no idea, and actually I really could care less if Trump is a billionaire or just a multimillionaire. That shit’s all in his head, not mine. Kinda like the guy who buys the biggest most gaudy truck he can find, to make up for some secret deficiency.

What I do care about is the obvious, and quite serious conflict of interest issues.  Trump has provided no tax returns, he has not established a blind trust, or divested himself of his businesses.  There are many questions about his deals with Russian oligarchs and his ongoing effort during the 2016 campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, working behind the scenes with his long time attorney, Michael Cohen.

One of the character flaws noted by personal friends of Trump and discussed earlier in this series, is Trump’s poor judgment when choosing partners and associates. I can’t help adding my opinion on this matter.  I think, in addition to poor judgment, Trump just does not give a damn, that’s right, I don’t think he cares. The president’s  choice of Jared Kushner to be his Senior Advisor is a perfect example.

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Part IV: Behind The Curtain

Part IV: Behind The Curtain

D. S. Mitchell

As we have already seen, Russians have floated in the Trump swamp for decades. The President’s first contacts with Russians came in the late 1980’s when Trump was wooed by the Russian government to look at the prospect of building hotels in Moscow and Kiev.

Trump has had many Russian tenants in the Trump Tower.  One very memorable Russian tenant was alleged Russian mob boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov.  An apartment at Trump Tower rented to Tokhtakhounov was the subject of a raid in April 2013 by federal agents as part of an investigation in to two separate gambling rings. Interestingly, Ali Tokhakhounov was, despite being under indictment in the United States for various gambling and corruption charges, made an appearance at Trump’s Miss Universe Pageant held in Moscow that same year.

In addition to Russian tenants, Trump has had several Russian partners, most notably the boys from Bayrock. The Trump Organization has sold an endless stream of condo’s and private residences to Russians. His children have traveled extensively throughout Russia.  In fact, according to recent news stories the Trump Organization was actively negotiating with Russian officials to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 Presidential election.

In January of 2017 Trump tweeted, “I have nothing to do with Russia–NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING.” We now know that was a blatant lie. In separate interviews about that same time Trump said in weird rambling denials that neither he or his campaign had any connection to Russians.  Trump’s praise of Putin, and his refusal to ever criticize the Russian strong man has brought those assertions into serious question, causing many to speculate that Trump has been compromised.

Going back to that 2013 Miss Universe Pageant, prior to the event Trump issued a very strange tweet, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow–if so, will he be become my new best friend?”

The answer to that very strange Twitter inquiry is unknown. Putin did not go to the event, but he did send an expensive lacquered Russian box to Trump. The event venue was the Crocus City Mall.  The Crocus City Mall is owned by Aras Agalarov a Russian oligarch with known ties to Vladimir Putin.  It is common knowledge that Agalarov and Trump discussed the construction of twin adjacent Trump towers in downtown Moscow during that 2013 visit.

Trump bizarrely equating business deals with diplomacy; answered as follows when a FoxNews commentator confronted him on his lack of foreign policy experience. “I know Russia well.  I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, which was a big, big incredible event,” referring to the Miss Universe Pageant.

Really? Please explain to me, and the 70% of Americans who do not equate running a beauty pageant with running a country, how that answer and that experience would in any way qualify him as knowledgeable of foreign policy. Trump, I believe, is slowly beginning to realize what many of us already knew, that the two are in no way similar, or interchangeable.  In fact, many of the tactics used in business are inappropriate as national political strategy or policy.

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Part III: Behind The Curtain

Part III: Behind The Curtain

D. S. Mitchell

One thing we have learned over the years is that Donald Trump is very aware of perception, most notably, the size of his fortune. In a 2006 lawsuit Trump sued Timothy L. O’Brien, author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, for $5 million in damages because O’Brien asserted that Trump was actually “worth somewhere between $150 million and $250 million.” This was after Trump had stated in the book that he was worth $6 billion.

Trump claimed that “low ball estimates of his wealth came from guys who have four hundred pound wives and were jealous of his success.” ***(“four hundred pound wives’ sounds eerily familiar. Remember that imaginary “four hundred pound hacker siting on his bed” Trump described during the debates? So, my first twisted thought is that if I hear the “400 pound” line come out of his mouth I will assume it is an outright lie.)

So, what is Trump really worth? We are now entering murky waters. In the O’Brien lawsuit Trump claimed that an unfavorable news story, article, comment, or book in this case, could “psychologically hurt me. I am a billionaire, not a perceived billionaire.”

Court records from that case, based on a Trump Organization financial statement placed his net worth at $3.5 billion, far less than the $6 billion Trump claimed to O’Brien during interviews for TrumpNation. That same year there were many other efforts to assess the size of Trump’s fortune.  North Fork Bank, now Capital One Bank, estimated his total worth to be $1.2 billion, while Deutsche Bank put the estimate at closer to $788 million in 2005.

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Trump On Tour

Trump On Tour

D. S. Mitchell

I am screaming at the top of my lungs. It’s a damn good thing this is not a pod cast commentary, because someone would be ordering psych restraints for this old girl.

I started writing for Calamity Politics because I saw Trump as a demented, narcissistic, irrational, terrifying, irresponsible, backward thinking, corrupt and dangerous individual. I was concerned that the country had just elected a gross misogynist clown as President of the United States.

I wanted to speak out against what I expected to be an immediate attack on the environment, entitlement programs and Roe v Wade. I knew the Republicans, heavily financed by the Koch Brothers, and other right extremist Superpacs, would launch an all out attack against anything progressive as soon as the inaugural partying was over.

Because of my intense concern, I felt the pressure to get on line with Calamity Politics as soon as possible. If you as a reader, wonder who I am, and what I stand for, I suggest you take a few minutes and read ‘About Me’ and ‘Mission Statement’ which are located on buttons at the top of this page.

I thought I might be alone in my outrage. Had I “lost” my mind, as was suggested by two family members, or was I one of many?

I found out soon that I was just one of an army of individuals who were truly fearful that the election of Donald Trump was a step back in time. None of us wanted to take 21st century America back to the segregated, air polluted and garbage littered mid 20th century America romanticized by Donald Trump. So fearful in fact were we, that we began organically to call ourselves the “resistance”. I embraced the label as a personal commitment to fight trump, and everything he represents. I am a soldier in the fight against authoritarianism. I am one of the ‘resistance”.

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Killings Mar Palm Sunday

Killings Mar Palm Sunday

D. S. Mitchell

Tanka, Egypt

Two Coptic church bombings have occurred in Egypt. The first attack was in Tanka, Egypt, a Nile Delta city. The bombing came during Palm Sunday services at St. George’s Church. The bomber placed the device close to the altar. 27 died and 78 were injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Alexandria, Egypt

Hours after the Tanka bombing, St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria, Egypt was attacked by a suicide bomber. Security patrol assigned to St. Mark’s stopped  the terrorist who was wearing an explosive belt before he reached the church grounds. The terrorist blew himself up at the gate. The detonation killed two police officers and 14 other citizens within the bomb’s explosive zone, and wounded 41 others. ISIS, through its media wing, Amaq, took credit for the bombing.

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Flynn Facts

Flynn Facts

D. S. Mitchell

Flynn Facts

Lt. General Michael Flynn (Retired) was born in 1958, in Middletown, R.I. and served in the U.S. Army for 33 years before being forced out of his intelligence position at the joint operations command.  He had clashes with superiors over his chaotic management style and his vision for the agency. Insiders state, “Flynn got fired because he was abusive to staff, refused to listen, worked against policy and was a poor manager,” per the Huffington Post. Furthermore, Flynn had a reputation for playing fast and loose with the facts. Subordinates referred to his dubious assertions as, “Flynn facts.”

Religious Bigotry

Flynn believes the Muslim religion is the cause of “Islamist terrorism.” He has famously proclaimed Islam “is a political ideology and a cancer.” He tweeted, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL”. With that tweet he included a link to a video that claimed Islam intends to enslave or exterminate 80% of the world population. He supports return of Betula Gulen to Turkey to face charges of instigating a failed coup against Turkish President Erdogan. Erdogan’s government has moved closer to Russia over the last several years and Flynn has stated he wants to see the United States, “begin to work constructively with Russia.”

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Tillerson’s Big Lie

Tillerson’s Big Lie

D. S. Mitchell

Morning Cable

I just watched Christine Romans, on ‘New Day,’ a morning political cable news show on CNN. I like her style, she really knows how to put her guests on the hot seat. Her questions are pointed and intuitive. Sometimes I feel sorry for the guests. LOL. I used to start my morning’s with ‘Morning Joe,” he comes on at 0300 her in the West. But recently Scarborough’s poorly veiled support of Trump is a turn off. If it wasn’t for Mika Brzezinski, I would have turned to ‘New Day’ a lot sooner. After watching New Day I have a choice of half a dozen activities. I either walk, bike or swim for an hour. Next, I grab breakfast. Then I go start research for a new blog post.

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