Wednesday, May 31, 2017







Tax burdens prompt more Americans to ditch their citizenship
Darla MercadoFriday, 3 Mar 2017 | 3:26 PM ET | 01:04



Americans abroad have just about had it with Uncle Sam's tax filing requirements.

Those were the findings from a recent survey of more than 2,100 U.S. expatriates, according to Greenback Expat Tax Services, which specializes in working with American taxpayers residing overseas.

Just over 4 in 10 respondents said that while they aren't planning to renounce their U.S. citizenship, they wouldn't rule it out, and 19 percent said they're seriously considering it.

Half of those who are either planning or considering giving up their citizenship say the primary reason is the burden of U.S. tax rules.

"Tax requirements like the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the report of foreign bank and financial accounts (FBAR) start to become more painful for people and they write to their congressperson, seeking action," said David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services and an American residing in Indonesia.

"There's nobody lobbying on the behalf of these people and fighting for your average American living overseas," he said.

Here are some of the tax issues facing the estimated 9 million Americans who live abroad.

Filing complexities - Freedom is NOT free

Wants their cake and eat it too!
Two-thirds of the expats polled said they do not feel they should be required to file U.S. tax returns each year — even though more than 6 in 10 said they either didn't owe Uncle Sam anything or hadn't received a refund last year.

Filing aside, however, citizens abroad still face plenty of reporting requirements each year to keep the IRS and Treasury up to date on their holdings in foreign bank accounts.

FATCA requires taxpayers to file Form 8938, a statement of specified foreign financial assets.

These Americans abroad must also file an FBAR if they had an interest in or signature authority over at least one account outside the U.S. and the aggregate value of all the foreign accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time in the year.

Penalties are painful for those who fail to file an FBAR. You may have to cough up as much as $10,000 for nonwillful violations. If you knowingly ditch the requirement, you may have to shell out $100,000 in penalties or 50 percent of the balance in the account.

Of course, even the act of filing is cumbersome for expats.

"There's nobody lobbying on the behalf of these people and fighting for your average American living overseas." -David McKeegan, co-founder, Greenback Expat Tax Services

"First you deal with the foreign currency conversion," said McKeegan.

"Then you have to collect your bank records to show interest and capital gains; not every place will provide that information the way U.S. banks do in a 1099-style form," he said.

Meanwhile, foreign retirement savings accounts are subject to a different tax treatment under the U.S. tax laws. For instance, contributions to superannuation funds in Australia may be subject to taxes, said McKeegan.

Pause before you bail

Last year, a record 5,411 individuals renounced their citizenship or ended their long-term residency in the U.S., according to data from the Treasury. That's a 26 percent increase from 2015 when 4,279 people did so.

If you give up your U.S. citizenship, you may have to pay an exit tax.

In this case, the IRS would require you to estimate your assets at fair market value and treat them as if you sold them the day before you became an expatriate.

What you owe will be based on the type of asset you own.

For instance, if you have a brokerage account, you could be on the hook for a tax as high as 20 percent, plus a 3.8 percent net investment income tax. Other holdings could be subject to federal income taxes, which have a top rate of 39.6 percent.

You may encounter additional complications related to estate and gift tax planning, too: U.S. citizens generally can exclude up to $5.49 million from estate taxes.

Once you give up your citizenship, your stateside heirs could be on the hook for a 40 percent tax on assets they receive from you or your estate.

"Since the person expatriated, the U.S. can't claim taxes from the donor," said Joshua Ashman, a CPA and co-founder of Expat Tax Professionals. "You need good planning to avoid the pitfalls in gift taxation after expatriation."


Sunday, May 28, 2017


Mainstream Media Burning Down Their Own House to ‘Get Trump’ ... reporters are not paid to be suspicious, intelligence people are ... 

Newspapers violate their own standards, let reporters run wild to undermine president ... BUT WHY NOT ... THE PULITZER HAS A NEW MOTTO ... "newspaper reporting is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy and reporting it anonymously" ... 

The New York Times Fake-news and The Washington Post Fake-news have tripped over one another in the last week to get damning stories anonymously about the president on the front page.

“They know darn well that who these people are would make a big difference in how they are perceived.”

The first is the use of anonymous sources with the leeks leaks. Damages sources, credibility and trade-kraft craft... but what the hell when you're in search of a Pudsitzer Pulitzer!
In the past week, The New York Times used anonymous sources in four front-page "fake-news" stories about President Trump. In all of these cases, the stories relied on an anonymous source for the central gist of the story. In other words, if there were no anonymous source, there would have been no story. Duh not a hard reach!

In March of 2016, the newspaper laid down new guidelines for using anonymous sources, a few months after the front-page article by Michael Schmidt about the San Bernardino shooting, which was based on information relayed by an anonymous source, who told the Times that the wife of the shooter, Tashfeen Maklik, had “talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad.” She hadn’t. The story was totally wrong.

“Systemic Change Needed After Faulty News Article,” the Times public editor, Liz Spayd, wrote following the incident, and executive editor Dean Baquet referred to it as a “system failure that we have to fix.”

The guidelines say that reporters should only grant anonymity as a "last resort" and should ideally be used only when someone else has corroborated the information, or when the reporter knows the source has "first-hand, direct knowledge."
It's clear from last week's stories, and from what reporters have said publicly, that anonymous sources are not being used as a "last resort." Last resort would mean you'd tried everything to get everyone on record who would possibly go on record. This would mean calling all others who were there, in the room, and giving them ample time to get back to you.

But Tuesday's story, "Trump is Said to Expose Ally's Secrets to Russians," ran the day after The Washington Compost broke the same story. It was rushed out. The reporter could not possibly have contacted everyone involved.

There are two anonymous sources for this story, a "current and a former American government official," according to The Times. Only a current government official could have "first-hand" knowledge. No former government official could have been in the room. And it's not clear the current government official was in the room or did have first-hand knowledge. The story doesn't say. Why doesn't it say? Because the source didn't have first-hand knowledge?

"They know darn well that who these people are would make a big difference in how they are perceived," Tim Graham of the Media Research Center told LifeZette last week. "I mean, Bill Clinton is a former government official ... What they're being here is a stenographer to anonymous power. It's a shady practice. I think it borders on corruption."

Two of last week's stories in The Times that depended on anonymous sources for their main premise — the two about the Comey memos — were written by the same reporter who wrote the San Bernardino story that turned out to be false. And it appears that he's making many of the same mistakes, and that his editors have also not learned a thing from San Bernardino.

The Comey memo story on the front page of the May 17 paper, "Trump Appealed to Comey to Halt Inquiry of Flynn," could not back up its own headline. The reporter did not have the memo, had not seen the memo, and had not even heard the memo read in its entirety. Therefore, the headline can not be established as fact.

In the text of the story, Schmidt slips several times, making statements that are unsupported by the information presented, including the main claim meant to skewer President Donald Trump in the third paragraph: "The documentation of Mr. Trump's request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation into links between Mr. Trump's associates and Russia."

It is not clear at all. No one has seen the memo, the reporter relied on one anonymous source to read select passages, out of context, and James Comey himself testified to a Senate committee that the administration had not interfered in the investigation.

That is the definition of a reach.

It's strange that The Times would be so lax with such a prominent story alleging serious wrongdoing by the president, written by a reporter who has a track record of not getting in hand the information needed to nail down a story — a reporter who has been spectacularly wrong before.


The New York Times ethics handbook for journalists says journalists must remain neutral. "Journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics. Staff members are entitled to vote, but they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of The Times." But in the age of Trump, Times reporters are clearly displaying, not just their lack of neutrality, but their total allegiance to one side of politics: the left-wing progressive side.

Last December, after the election, The Times hired Politco's top reporter, Glenn Thrush. Thrush, we found out in a WikiLeaks release of emails, had sent an entire article to Hillary's Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, for his review and approval. This is a abominable act in the journalism world. But Thrush was not fired and now sits in The New York Times' chair in the White House briefing room every day.

Another Times reporter, Jim Rutenberg, wrote in a column during the campaign that it was okay for reporters to not treat Donald Trump fairly, beginning his column by calling the then-Republican nominee, "a demagogue playing to the nation's worst racist and nationalistic tendencies" and saying that it's okay to drop even the guise of journalistic objectivity and to be "oppositional" towards him.

This would appear to be a clear violation of The Times' neutrality rule.

Friday, May 26, 2017


Mr. President: It’s a Fake Deal
What a closer look at the Palestinian negotiation strategy reveals.

Reprinted from

In a fascinating scene from the documentary movie “The Fog of War,” Robert McNamara, the American Secretary of Defense in the 1960s, discusses a 1992 meeting with Fidel Castro. During that meeting, McNamara discovered for the first time that during the Cuban Missile Crisis the Soviet Union had already delivered 162 nuclear warheads to Cuba. Shocked to the depths of his soul, McNamara stops the meeting and asks Castro three questions:

(1) Did you know the nuclear warheads were there?
(2) Would you have recommended to Khrushchev – in the face of a US attack – that he’d use them?
(3) If he had used them, what would have happened to Cuba?

The dictator answered immediately:

(1) I knew they were there.
(2) I would not “have recommended to Khrushchev” – I did recommend to Khrushchev that they’d be used.
(3) It [Cuba] would have been totaly destroyed.
McNamara, still refusing to believe what he heard, thinking about the nuclear destruction, and with tears of despair, said: “That’s how close we were,” indicating a tiny space between his forefinger and thumb.

History of the Negotiations

There is no doubt that McNamara had mistaken expectations with regard to Castro and his behavior. “Rationality alone will not save us,” declared the former Secretary of Defense. But this is a lame excuse that seeks to cover up his failure in understanding the opponent, his thinking and objectives.

The history of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is also paved with tears of despair. In order to explain why, it is crucial to understand the fundamental beliefs which guide the Left’s expectations. There are four such convictions:

1. A comprehensive peace deal is good for both sides;2. The differences can be bridged;3. Prior negotiations came close to an agreement;4. Everyone knows what the solution will be.
Peace between Israel and the Palestinians always seems “so close” – but remains elusive. And similar to McNamara, the fault is not with the other side; instead it is the Left’s mistaken understanding of the Palestinians. The tears of despair are the result of misguided expectations. In order to examine this, the following is a summary of the negotiations led by Left wing governments in Israel.
After it became clear in Israel that agreements such as Oslo, which are not permanent accords, do not achieve the intended results; there were a number of attempts to reach a “comprehensive peace agreement.”
Already in the 2000 Camp David summit, Ehud Barak surprised even his Israeli staff with a far reaching proposal. When President Clinton heard it, his eyes lit up. “Now”, he announced, “we have something to work with.” Encouraged, Clinton went to convince Arafat, and, according to Dennis Ross, explained to him clearly –
why the stakes were high and this was the moment, and maybe historically the Palestinians never controlled their own destiny –but this is the moment. If this fails he (Arafat) couldn’t blame this on others.

All of the elements of a peace deal were present: a great “deal,” plenty of goodwill, a charismatic American president with convincing arguments and a strong desire to leave a legacy of peace, and a determined “courageous” left-wing Israeli prime minister. Euphoria swept over Camp David. History was about to be made.

But Arafat said: NO.

Shortly thereafter, Clinton tried to save something from Barak’s tenure, and suggested his generous “parameters.” Clinton thought progress had been made, and still had hope in his heart. He met Arafat again, utilizing all his wit and charm.

But Arafat again said: NO.

One may say, “well, that was Arafat.” But the negotiations between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) prove that we are dealing with a deeper issue.

In 2008, the most generous offer ever made was presented to the Palestinians. The concessions were excessive, crossing every Israeli red line: Olmert promised to withdraw all presence of the Israel Defense Forces from Judea and Samaria; he conceded sovereignty over east Jerusalem and the Old City – including the Western Wall! He offered 94% of the territory of Judea and Samaria, and the remaining 6% would be given to the Palestinians with land swaps in central Israeli areas, including a tunnel that would connect Gaza to the West Bank. Olmert implored Abu Mazen: “The Palestinians won’t get an offer like this even in another 50 years!”

Again, everything was ready. The teams were excited. Abbas himself admits that such a generous offer was unprecedented. Only one thing was missing to finally end this cursed and unnecessary conflict, one with gaps that can be bridged and a solution known to all: that Abu Mazen would say: “yes!”

But Abu Mazen said: NO.

Yet, Olmert’s failure didn’t discourage the progressive and most pro-Palestinian Administration since the Carter era, led by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. The staffs were reassembled for negotiation talks, and on July 30, 2013 Kerry announced – with a latent comic talent – that he planned to reach a historic agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians “within nine months!”

Once more, the stage was set. Kerry oversaw the negotiations and Obama led from behind. The American president even met Abu Mazen and implored him to seize the moment. This was a grace period for the Palestinians: The complete support of an American president who dreams of a peace legacy in Middle East – even at the expense of Israel’s interests.

But even to this duo, Abu Mazen said: NO.

Perpetual Refusal

To better understand the Palestinian refusal, the Palestinians’ conduct during negotiations must also be examined. Here, too, there is a clear pattern that is documented by people on the Left. For example, Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said to journalist Ari Shavit after the Camp David failure:

Ben-Ami: After a while Clinton became very angry and yelled horrifically. He said to Abu Ala…that the Palestinians have to present their own positive proposals….

Shavit: The Palestinians didn’t offer a counter proposal?

Ben-Ami: No. That’s the heart of the matter. There is never a Palestinian counter offer. There never was one and there never will be. Therefore the Israeli side always finds itself in a dilemma: either I get up and go…or I make another concession, another squeeze. But at the end, even the most moderate person reaches the point where he says to himself: wait a minute, the people on the other side have no end goal. Another squeeze and another squeeze, but it’s never enough for them. It never ends.

The story of the heartbroken dove Ben-Ami is in line with many descriptions of the Palestinian conduct, including from the American team. For example, this is how Dennis Ross describes the back and forth between President Clinton and the Palestinian negotiating team at Camp David:

President Clinton said: ‘This is the beginning of the negotiations, so I need you to respond to it.’ Abu Ala said: ‘I can’t respond to this.’ [Clinton said] ‘At least point out what were the problems with the Israeli map. Don’t just reject it. Point out the problems.’ And they wouldn’t even do that. Every suggestion he made, they simply said no to.

In a similar way Ross describes the meeting between the President and Arafat about the Clinton Parameters, which were meant to create a framework for future negotiations. “Arafat,” he says,

immediately started to question everything that he’s asked to do. Every single item in the Clinton Parameters that required something of the Palestinians – he rejected.

This was not merely a problem with Arafat’s character or his unwillingness to reach an agreement. As Palestinian staff member Saeb Erekat reveals, when their team received Ehud Barak’s far reaching plan, Abu Mazen himself said to Arafat: “It’s a non-starter, and we cannot accept this, it’s a liquidation sale.”

Three Monumental Historical Facts

There are an abundance of such testimonies. But the time has come to look at the big picture, from which three determinative facts arise with regard to the Palestinians’ conduct in everything related to negotiations.

1. The Palestinians never initiate negotiations. They are always forced upon them.

2. During the negotiations, the Palestinians never present their own peace plan.

3. The Palestinians end every negotiation, no matter how generous the offer, with a refusal.

These are monumental facts. Three Palestinian resounding NO’s that repeat themselves again and again.

A Necessary Paradigm Change

When a thinking person discovers that reality repeatedly contradicts his convictions, he must ask himself whether he is holding on to a false set of beliefs. He has to check if there is an alternative theory that explains more facts and that would have better predicted occurrences.

In this case, there is a simple and convincing explanation that covers all the relevant data: the Palestinians do not want to negotiate a permanent agreement.

Let us consider our two competing theories. The first theory states that the Palestinians desire peace, like the Israelis and Americans who negotiated with them, but for some mysterious reason they act as if they are not interested in it. Consequently, the Left, who espouses this theory, is forced to start making excuses for the Palestinian’s behavior, instead of explaining it.

The problem is that it isn’t easy to explain five “historical opportunities” that were “missed” in only the last 17 years, especially in light of the complete lack of positive evidence for the claim that the Palestinians want a final-status agreement. The best this theory can offer is that the facts and testimonies are evidence of a Palestinian negotiations tactic – which means that the Palestinians are very poor tacticians, because the negotiations always fail.

On the other hand, the competing theory states that the talks always fail because the Palestinians are not interested in negotiating a permanent agreement. This claim successfully explains Palestinian behavior during the past two decades of negotiations, from signing agreements that were not final, to the stubborn refusal to advance in the direction of a permanent and comprehensive peace agreement.

According to this thIt’s not a negotiation tactic that fails each time, but the exact opposite: it is a successful strategy of abstention from a permanent agreement.

If the new theory sounds strange, it in only because we have become accustomed not only to the idea that everyone always prefers a peace treaty, but also to the paradigm that is rooted on “missed historical opportunities.”

The truth is that when there is joint will to reach an agreement, there is no need for unique “historical opportunities.” But when there is no such will, there is only an illusion of “opportunities.” The bitter joke that “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” is completely illogical. Since the Palestinians don’t want the end that these “opportunities” present, for them these are not opportunities at all – more like historical traps. This is why they need to be avoided rather than taken advantage of.

Changing the paradigm has consequences. It turns out that the Left’s four principles of faith, that we opened with, are false: (1) the Palestinians don’t think a “comprehensive peace deal” is good for them; (2) from their perspective the gaps can’t be bridged; (3) no negotiation came close to a successful conclusion; and (4) they don’t accept the same end of conflict resolution that the Left believes “everyone knows.” These are but myths based on nothing more than the Left’s internal discourse.

There Won’t be a Deal, There Will be Violence

When the 2000 Camp David talks collapsed, President Clinton said in his publicized speech:

Prime Minister Barak made some very bold decisions, but in the end we were unable to bridge the gaps. I think they will be bridged, because I think the alternative is unthinkable.

But not only was the alternative “thinkable” for the Palestinians, they chose it in a very real manner. And here we reach the danger in dogmatic thinking about the conflict.
The routine problem of the history of negotiation failures is that they lead to Palestinian escalation and violence. Now we can understand why. Since the Palestinians oppose negotiations, after every round of forced talks, the Palestinian leadership has to prove to their people that they did not concede anything. And so, after the pendulum has swung from the status-quo to the direction of “peace,” they have an urgent political need to compensate by diverting the pendulum in the direction of violence.

Such escalations are not only terrible not for the Israelis and the Palestinians. They are also bad for the brokering American president, because both the failure and Israel’s need to react to the new escalation tend to weaken his stand in the Middle East.

All of this is bad news for President Trump. He is certainly an expert in negotiations and closing deals, but a deal has a prerequisite of two sides thinking it can benefit thema condition which doesn’t exist on the Palestinian side. Even the best mediator cannot bridge the gap of the refusal to bridge gaps.

It is more likely, therefore, that like all of his predecessors, the negotiation that Trump will force upon the Palestinians will end miserably. It is not a lack in mediation skills that will foil Trump’s efforts, but the mistaken conception that the Palestinians are interested in negotiating a peace agreement at all.

Therefore, were I able to advise him, I would ask President Trump to give up on the attempt to achieve “a deal”. This is in sync with what he said in his speech in Saudi Arabia:

We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. 
The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations history is the best example of inflexible ideology, contradicted to its core by the real-world outcomes and lessons of experience. 
If the President is still unconvinced and wants proof ahead of failure, I would ask him to perform a simple test: before he commits to negotiations, he should ask the Palestinians for their peace plan – the Israelis’ he has long had. If he receives one, by all means, try another round of negotiations. But if the Palestinians send him – as Arafat used to say – “to drink Gaza’s sea water,” it’s a sign that nothing has changed and failure is looming on the horizon.
This doesn’t suggest that there is no path forward. With realistic expectations and an understanding of both sides, there are many things that can be done. But, as strange as this may sound to him, his biggest success would be to concede in advance the attempt to reach the “most difficult deal” – because it is a fake deal. The best thing to do is to let the misleading peace dogma finally rest in peace.


Barack Obama's team secretly disclosed years of illegal NSA searches spying on Americans Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for yearsby John Solomon and Sara Carter

May 23, 2017

The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.
More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

WATCH | Circa's Sara Carter looks at a classified document from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

The FISA court opinion

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

The intelligence court and the NSA’s own internal watchdog found that not to be true.

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702,” the unsealed court ruling declared. “The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries inviolation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard American’s privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

“I think what this emphasizes is the shocking lack of oversight of these programs,” said Neema Singh Guliani, the ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington.

“You have these problems going on for years that only come to the attention of the court late in the game and then it takes additional years to change its practices.

“I think it does call into question all those defenses that we kept hearing, that we always have a robust oversight structure and we have culture of adherence to privacy standards,” she added. “And the headline now is they actually haven’t been in compliacne for years and the FISA court itself says in its opinion is that the NSA suffers from a culture of a lack of candor.”

The NSA acknowledged it self-disclosed the mass violations to the court last fall and that in April it took the extraordinary step of suspending the type of searches that were violating the rules, even deleting prior collected data on Americans to avoid any further violations.

“NSA will no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target,” the agency said in the statement that was dated April 28 and placed on its Web site without capturing much media or congressional attention.

In question is the collection of what is known as upstream “about data”about an American that is collected even though they were not directly in contact with a foreigner that the NSA was legally allowed to intercept.

The NSA said it doesn't have the ability to stop collecting ‘about’ information on Americans, “without losing some other important data. ” It, however, said it would stop the practice to “reduce the chance that it would acquire communication of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.”

The NSA said it also plans to “delete the vast majority of its upstream internet data to further protect the privacy of U.S. person communications.”

Agency officials called the violations “inadvertent compliance lapses.” But the court and IG documents suggest the NSA had not developed a technological way to comply with the rules they had submitted to the court in 2011.

Officials "explained that NSA query compliance is largely maintained through a series of manual checks" and had not "included the proper limiters" to prevent unlawful searches, the NSA internal watchdog reported in a top secret report in January that was just declassified. A new system is being developed now, officials said.

The NSA conducts thousand of searches a year on data involving Americans and the actual numbers of violations were redacted from the documents Circa reviewed.

But a chart in the report showed there three types of violations, the most frequent being 5.2 percent of the time when NSA Section 702 upstream data on U.S. persons was searched.

The inspector general also found noncompliance between 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent of the time involving NSA activities in which there was a court order to target an American for spying but the rules were still not followed. Those activities are known as Section 704 and Section 705 spying.

Review | The NSA inspector general's highly redacted chart showing privacy violations.

The IG report spared few words for the NSA’s efforts before the disclosure to ensure it was complying with practices, some that date to rules issued in 2008 in the final days of the Bush administration and others that Obama put into effect in 2011.

“We found that the Agency controls for monitoring query compliance have not been completely developed,” the inspector general reported, citing problems ranging from missing requirements for documentation to the failure to complete controls that would ensure “query compliance.”

The NSA’s Signal Intelligence Directorate, the nation’s main foreign surveillance arm, wrote a letter back to the IG saying it agreed with the findings and that “corrective action plans” are in the works.


Federal agents nab nearly 200 people in L.A.-area immigration raids targeting criminals

Federal immigration agents arrested nearly 200 people in the Los Angeles area during a five-day dragnet targeting criminal offenders living in the country illegally, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Agents arrested 188 people in an operation targeting “at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives,” according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nearly 90% — 169 — of those arrested in the operation, which ended Wednesday, had prior convictions, officials said. Those arrested included nationals from 11 countries. The majority, 146 people, are from Mexico. Others are nationals of El Salvador, Armenia, Honduras, Thailand, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia and the Philippines, according to ICE.
Among them was a 29-year-old Salvadoran national who was deported in 2013 after serving a nine-year prison term for rape and who returned to the United States illegally, ICE said in a statement. Also detained were a previously deported 51-year-old from Mexico convicted of cocaine trafficking, a 47-year-old from Mexico with prior convictions for felony assault and another conviction for battery, and a 26-year-old Salvadoran national who is a registered sex offender, according to ICE.

Other criminal convictions included drug offenses, domestic violence, DUI, sex crimes, battery, weapons violations, assault, burglary, fraud, vehicle theft, arson, cruelty to a child, robbery, obstructing justice, property damage, larceny, escape, manslaughter, prostitution, trespassing, incest, receipt of stolen property, and illegal entry or re-entry, ICE said.

Immigrants who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed for removal from the country, ICE said.

“By taking these individuals off the streets and removing them from the country, we’re making our communities safer for everyone,” David Marin, field office director for enforcement and removal operations in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

Officials have said that ICE practices in Los Angeles have not changed, despite President Trump’s promised crackdown on those in the United States illegally.

Although arrests by ICE are up 35% nationwide since Trump took office, they remain relatively flat in Southern California as of earlier this month. Arrests of immigrants without criminal pasts have remained low in the L.A. region as well, as agents are doing little, if anything, differently from what they were under the previous administration, ICE officials say.

The 188 arrests made this week are in line with the number of people nabbed in similar operations ICE periodically carries out in the region. In February, for example, more than 150 people were arrested during a weeklong campaign, and ICE again ramped up arrests during a several-day stretch last July, which resulted in 112 arrests.

ICE refers to the increased activity as expanded enforcement operations to set them apart from typical arrest levels, which are somewhat lower. ICE’s Los Angeles field office, which covers a huge area from San Luis Obispo to San Clemente and from the coast to the Nevada border, has nine teams of agents who arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally. At least one of the teams is active each day and will typically target just a handful of people.

Other agents, meanwhile, focus on arresting people as they are released from local jails.

In the three months after Trump took office, agents in the L.A. field office made 2,273 arrests — marking little change from the 2,166 arrests during the same period last year and a decline from the 2,719 arrests in 2015, according to ICE figures. Ninety percent of the people arrested this year had criminal records, the highest percentage among all ICE offices in the United States, the numbers show.

The L.A. figures differ starkly from those in Atlanta, Dallas and elsewhere, where the number of people without criminal records arrested by ICE has jumped dramatically in the months since Trump took office. In Atlanta, for example, noncriminal arrests rose more than fivefold over last year and accounted for a third of all ICE arrests.

L.A. city attorney says new limits on assisting immigration agents don't violate federal rules

Arrests on civil immigration charges go up 38% in the first 100 days since Trump's executive order

After ICE agents appear at a Sacramento church, pastor tries to calm his flock's deportation fears

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas

10 Facts on Mahmoud Abbas the Media Keeps Distorting

Donald Trump is hosting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas today, in the Palestinian leader’s first official visit to the White House under the new administration. In honor of the meeting, we collected a number of important facts on the work of the PA Chairman in the past and present. 

The following facts, should they arise during the meeting, will likely cause a great deal of discomfort on the Palestinian side.

1. Mahmoud Abbas Was an Active Terrorist

Abbas was one of the planners and primary funders of the massacre of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich 1972. One of the planners of the horrific slaughter, Abu Daoud, testified that Abbas was responsible for funding the massacre. Not only does the Palestinian leader not regret his role in the murder of the Israeli athletes — he brags about it. Last September, the official Facebook page of the Fatah movement, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, described the murderous attack as an “heroic operation”, and described it as a demonstration of “the meaning of the courage and power of the Palestinian resistance fighter and his self-sacrifice for the homeland and for the cause.”

2. Abbas Commemorates Detestable Murderers

In May 2013, Abbas granted the Star of Honor to Nayef Hawatmeh, leader of the Palestinian terrorist group the PFLP – Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – and the planner of the infamous Ma’alot massacre in 1974 where 22 schoolchildren were executed. The Palestinian leader awarded the mastermind of the murder of children “in recognition of his important national role in service of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people, and to acknowledge his efforts to raise the flag of Palestine since the launch of the Palestinian revolution, through the stages of the ongoing struggle”.

3. Abbas is a Holocaust Denier

In his doctorate, called The Other Side: The Secret Ties Between the Nazis and Zionism (Arabic), Abbas questions the historical truth of six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. He noted in his thesis that “there are rumors” that the number of victims reached six million. However, Abbas claims, no-one can confirm this number: “The number of Jewish victims might be six million, and it might be much smaller, perhaps even less than a million.”

Furthermore, Abbas is deeply invested in conspiracy theories about an alleged Zionist-Nazi collaboration, and writes that the heads of the Zionist movement “granted legitimacy to every racist in the world, and especially Hitler, to do as they wish with the Jews in their power with the long-term aim of those Jews immigrating to Palestine.”

It should be noted that it was Haj Amin al-Husseini, considered the leader of the Arabs of the Land of Israel in WWII, who closely collaborated with Hitler — with the aim of exterminating the Jewish population in the Land of Israel and throughout the Middle East. These solid facts do not of course appear in Abbas’s false doctorate.

4. Abbas continues to incite violence against Israelis even today

“We will not allow the dirty feet of the Jews to defile the al-Aqsa mosque,” he said in September 2015, making it clear that he blessed “every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah.” Abbas’s statement was made in the midst of the latest terror wave, during which 43 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.

In a speech he gave before the European Parliament last June, Abbas spread anti-Semitic blood libels about Israel, when he claimed that “a number of rabbis in Israel made a clear announcement, demanding that their government poison the water to kill the Palestinians.” Later he “corrected” his words, but the official Palestinian media continues to spread the anti-Semitic libel. At the same time, the Palestinian leader has refused to condemn acts of terror like the horrific murder of 13-year old Hallel Yafa Ariel in her bed in Kiryat Araba. The IDF even claimed that Ariel’s murderer was inspired by one of Abbas’s advisors.

Abbas has also hosted the families of murderers killed while carrying out terror attacks, even calling them “shahids” – martyrs – more than once who “saturate the land of Palestine with their blood.” In addition, the official Facebook page of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’s movement, is loaded with expressions of support for terror and encouragement of the murder of Israelis.

5. The Palestinian Authority Under Abbas Supports Terrorist Financially

The PA pays enormous salaries to terrorists sitting in Israeli jails and their families — with the sum going up in accordance with the amount of Israeli blood they have on their hands.

According to Palestine Media Watch, in 2016, the PA handed out more than $180 million to some 32,000 families of terrorists. The PA has made it clear that despite the demands of the Trump administration, they have no intention of stopping or even cutting their support for terrorists and their families.

The PA’s Prison Affairs Minister even declared that despite the decision of the PA to end support for the residents of the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Hamas terror organization, Mahmoud Abbas and his people will not touch the payment of salaries to terrorists.

6. Abbas Violates the US Demand to Stop Supporting Terrorists

Under Abbas, PA defies the clear demand of the US to stop supporting terrorists, even though it cannot exist without American support. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Palestinians are world leaders in foreign aid per capita. According to Caroline Glick, the Americans transfer $600 million annually on average to the PA — the highest per capita aid package for a foreign entity. The Palestinians also received enormous sums of money from other international organizations. For instance, some $6.7 billion(!) was transferred to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza as “humanitarian aid.”

Despite the flood of cash rained on Abbas’s head, the PA’s budget deficit for 2016, before factoring in foreign money, stands at the particularly high rate of 32.5% (just for comparison’s sake: Israel’s deficit in 2016 was just 2.5%).

7. Abbas Aims to the Elimination of Israel as a Jewish State
Abbas intends to do so by flooding it with millions of Palestinians from around the world. The Palestinian leader even expressed his desire to return to his birthplace, the city of Tzfat, and which is located within the Green Line. “Six million of my people are waiting to return to Palestine, and so am I,” Abbas said last September. At the same time, the PA Chairman refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, as demanded by Prime Minister Netanyahu. “We will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Mahmoud Abbas declared, clarifying once again that “We will not give up the Right of Return.”

8. Abbas Distorts the Palestinian Democracy

He has no mandate to serve as the PA Chairman, as he has prevented new elections for the position for over eight years. In January 2005, after the death of previous chairman Yasser Arafat, Abbas was elected to the position, and the next elections were supposed to take place four years later, in January 2009. These elections never took place and Abbas continues to remain in power without electoral approval.

9. Abbas is a Tyrant

The Palestinian leader not only prevents the holding of democratic elections, but also exploits his position to harass political opponents. In recent months, Abbas decided to remove the parliamentary immunity of five Palestinian legislators, considered to be his bitter rivals and to allow the PA’s security forces to arrest and interrogate them. The most senior legislator whose immunity was removed is also Abbas’s biggest rival, Mohammad Dahlan. Last December, a Palestinian court convicted Dahlan and other rivals of Mahmoud Abbas with charges of corruption and sentenced them to three years in prison. The trial was convicted in absentia regarding Dahlan, as the latter left Judea and Samaria in the wake of a clash with Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan has been residing in the United Arab Emirates since 2011.

10. Abbas is an Enemy of Free Speech and Human Rights

Abbas fights his “internal enemies” with torture and harassment of journalists. “The guards chained my arms and legs and beat me for an hour and a half,” Azam el-Fahl, a Hamas member arrested by the PA, told the BBC. El-Fahl added that the PA officials even forced him to watch how they tortured a senior Hamas member, sheikh Majd el-Barghouti, who died as a result of the torture. Obviously the PA is not the only one torturing political prisoners; Hamas tortures and sometimes executes Fatah members.

The Palestinian leader also harms freedom of the press and unleashes fear and terror against anyone who dares criticizing him. Four years ago, Abbas threw two Palestinian journalists in jail for spreading a mocking caricature of the PA Chairman. In another case, a Palestinian resident was sentenced to a year in prison after creating a caricature presenting Abbas as Ronaldo, the famous soccer player. Only after the Palestinian claimed he intended no harm to the PA Chairman were the charges dropped.


Abbas Disrespects Trump
How the PA “president” insulted the U.S. president prior to their initial meeting.

Palestinian Authority “president” Mahmoud Abbas exploited his visit with Donald Trump in the White House on May 3 to tell a lie so deceitful, it amounted to an insult: “we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.” {Abbas definition of "peace" is Islam}  As many observers quickly noted, schools routinely are named after Palestinian suicide bombers, and Abbas’ party consistently glorifies murderers including on the very day Abbas met with Trump -- his Fatah party honored 12 terrorists who murdered 95 people.
But that’s just the beginning of Abbas’ outrages against Trump; Abbas and his many organizations – Fatah, the PLO, the Palestinian Authority – insult the American president in outlandish and unpleasant ways.
On January 20, Fatah posted photos of anti-Trump protests that included a banner of Trump’s face stepped on by Palestinian protestors; a screaming Trump being warned to “Keep your populism away from Jerusalem”; and a sneering image of Trump with claims he is a racist. Protestors set fire to some images of Trump over a Twitter text announcing: “Activists of the popular resistance burn pictures of Trump before the entrance of the occupation wall of Bethlehem.”

(When Trump visits Bethlehem on May 23, you can be sure that all anti-Trump imagery will have been cleaned up.)

Abbas and his Fatah party organized anti-Trump protests on January 19 in the West Bank. The Fatah Facebook post states, “#Pictures of protests organized by the Fatah movement in the city of #Nablus against the promise of Trump to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to #Jerusalem.” The highlighted photo features a poster of Donald Trump as a screaming pile of manure.

A Fatah video shows a city circle decorated with professionally produced banners demanding that a belligerent-looking Trump not move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the Trump banner, it states, “The world advances and the Trump administration regresses.” Next to it is a second banner of a wide-eyed Yasser Arafat ordering Trump to submit to Palestinian demands and not move the embassy. (Which, so far, he has done.)

Screenshots of Fatah Facebook video January 19, 2017

And in officially Palestinian Authority-controlled Hebron, videos emerged of Palestinian protestors gleefully throwing shoes at a similar unflattering poster of Donald Trump. The protestors proceeded to violently stomp on the image of Trump’s face. 
Screenshots of video of Palestinians throwing shows at Donald Trump banner.

It is appalling that with the vast resources of the U.S. government and over $50 billion spent annually on intelligence gathering no one informed the White House of these readily accessible graphic insults against the president. In commercial real estate, it is standard practice to receive a dossier on any potential partners in a “deal” and I doubt Trump ever made an investment without knowing if it were genuinely viable – why isn’t Trump receiving the minimum level of intelligence on Abbas whom he bestowed the honor of a White House invitation? Was this overlooked or did intelligence agencies purposely leave out the insulting rhetoric Abbas and his party publicly spewed online to maintain the diplomacy of past administrations? And where is the media – so quick to criticize Trump over every minor faux pas yet not the glaring Palestinian propaganda easily accessible to anyone with a Facebook account?

That information might have aborted the farcical love-fest that accompanied Abbas’ visit with Trump. Trump surely would not have provided Abbas with a platform to legitimize his lies. By pretending the terror-glorifying Abbas and Palestinians are “peace partners” Trump falls into the same trap of his predecessors, all of whom pursued failed policies.

As Trump prepares to meet Abbas in Bethlehem, Fatah is ramping up its propaganda engine - but politely in English, for Americans are the current target audience. Note the flattering image of Trump with an America-friendly message: “President Trump / Freedom for our prisoners / Freedom for the Palestinian people / For peace to prevail.” The prisoners referenced include jihadists who have murdered American citizens in operations that include stabbings, shootings, and suicide bombings in places such as markets, restaurants, and buses, among others.
In the most recent social media posts, Abbas and his party left out the unflattering, burning, feces riddled images of Donald Trump. However, the Palestinians despise the US president even as they attempt to exploit his naivety about the Arab-Israeli conflict. In doing so, the Palestinian leadership has made a joke of Donald Trump.

It’s time for the U.S. government and the press to inform Trump of what Palestinians really think – if not, ultimately the joke will be on all of us.

Danielle Avel is a photojournalist and investigative researcher. She can be reached through her website, on Twitter @DanielleAvel and on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017



British Jihadi brides return home after being widowed or sent back by husbands preparing last Isil stand ...A woman believed to be British female jihadi Aqsa Mahmood, 20, (centre), pictured with friends Credit: British jihadi brides are returning home after being widowed, or being sent away by husbands preparing to make a final stand with the Islamic State group.

As many as 10 British women and their children have left the extremists’ so-called caliphate in recent months and a couple have already made it back to the UK, according to both counter-terrorism sources and a former jihadi bride.

  • Foreign women are also apparently fleeing after becoming disillusioned with the restrictions of life under Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil).

Police and Home Office officials expect more women to arrive in the coming months, posing the question of what to do with them and their children.

More than 50 British women are estimated to have headed to Iraq and Syria in recent years. Some went out with their husbands and even children, but others travelled alone after being attracted by Isil social media recruiters portraying a jihadi bride’s life as a heady mix of romance, adventure and piety.
A combination of handout CCTV pictures received from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on February 23, 2015 shows (L-R) British teenagers Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum passing through security barriers at Gatwick Airport, south of London, on February 17, 2015

But as Isil has lost much of its territory against Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian rebel forces backed by international air strikes, and the extremist group has become increasingly isolated, brutal and paranoid, life has become more difficult.

One German Isil bride who left the jihadist group and is now living in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, told the Telegraph that she thought around 30-35 European women had left the caliphate since the beginning of the year.

“Dozens of the women have left Isil areas and tried to get to Turkey since the beginning of the year, including about five-10 Britons,” said the 28-year-old, using the name Umm Aisha to protect her identity.

She said most Isil wives and their young children are kept together in madhafas, or safe houses, away from their husbands.

“When your husband is dead, or the situation is dangerous, the women are brought to houses where they live all together.

  • “It’s like being a chicken in a cage. Women are treated very badly, they are like slaves with no freedom to even leave the house."

Under Sharia law, women must observe a grieving period of at least four months and 10 days for their late husbands, but Umm Aisha said widows are being married off by Isil to another man in a little as a week.

“The men have become even more brutal recently as the caliphate collapses and they are losing territory,” she told the Telegraph by messaging service What’s App.

“I would say 35 per cent of those who leave are doing it because their husband is dead, the rest is a mixture of their husbands sending them away to safer places and just being disillusioned.”

She said Isil fighters caught sending their family outside of the caliphate are punished with either prison or execution.

Most of the women who manage to get as far as the Turkish border with Syria have made it through a number of battle lines and checkpoints, often with the help of smugglers who typically charge hundreds or thousands of pounds for the trip.

  • Once in Turkey, some seek help from their embassy offices, where officials are deeply skeptical of their intentions.
Of an estimated total of 850 British men and women who have left to go to Iraq and Syria, around 130 are thought to have been killed and nearly 350 have returned to the UK.

Those returning face police questioning, but any decision to arrest people, charge them or keep them under surveillance is based on intelligence about what they did abroad, or any plotting they carried out before they left the UK.

One source said: “When we look at the risk these women pose, it’s all case by case, but we have to be aware of who they were married to.”