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Tyler Durden

Assange Hit With Espionage Act Violations As DoJ Unveils 17 New Charges

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The worst fears of Julian Assange's legal team have just been realized.

Just as Wikileaks' editor in chief anticipated, the DoJ has revealed that a grand jury in Virginia has returned a new 18-count superseding indictment against Assange that includes violations of the Espionage Act stemming from his role in publishing the classified documents leaked by Chelsea Manning, as well as his original charge of conspiring to break into a government computer, per the New York Times.

The DOJ said with the indictment that Assange will face a maximum of 10 years for each of the 17 Espionage Act violations, plus the five-year penalty for his earlier hacking charge.

In addition to significantly raising the punishment threshold (from a maximum of 5.5 years under the previous indictment to the prospect of a death sentence for violating the Espionage Act), the new charges will raise serious first amendment issues as Assange will become the first journalist charged under the Espionage Act.
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Top British Commander In Rare Public Dispute With US Over Iran Intelligence

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An awkward public exchange unfolded between the US military and its closest allied military coalition force during a Pentagon press conference on Tuesday wherein a top British commander in charge of anti-ISIS coalition forces rebuked White House claims on the heightened Iran threat. 

“No – there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” British Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, a deputy head of the US-led coalition, asserted confidently in a videolink briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon in response to a CNN question. “We’re aware of that presence, clearly. And we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in. We are monitoring the Shia militia groups. I think you’re referring to carefully and if the threat level seems to go up then we’ll raise our force protection measures accordingly.”

The British commander's words prompted a rare and swift rebuke from the US side hours later into the evening when US Central Command (CENTCOM) issued its own statement slamming Gen. Ghika's words as inaccurate, insisting coalition troops in Iraq and Syria were an a "high level of alert" due to the "Iran threat".
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Pompeo Skips Moscow Trip To Pressure EU Officials In Brussels On Iran

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It seems for the State Department lately it's all Iran and Venezuela all the time, or perhaps there's just an aversion to real diplomatic work. 

After snubbing Germany's Merkel last week to make an unplanned stop in Iraq to pressure leaders there into resisting cooperation with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday scrapped a scheduled trip to Moscow, diverting his plane for a surprise visit to Brussels to presumably crash an EU meeting exploring ways of salvaging the Iran nuclear deal. 

It appears the "maximum pressure" campaign involves America's top diplomat throwing his weight around in person anywhere around the globe their might be dissent among US allies.

Key European signatories of the 2015 landmark deal — the British, French and German governments — are seeking European coordinated efforts to prevent the JCPOA from collapsing.
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Biden's Ukrainian Corruption Scandal Casts Ominous Shadow Over 2020 Run

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It looks like Joe Biden isn't the chosen one after all. 

After getting that whole "groping" thing out of the way and announcing his 2020 bid for the White House, Biden emerged as the Democratic frontrunner this week according to several polls

Alas for Biden, his past is catching up with him, again.

While Politico and Marketwatch have dinged Biden over free-trade fails and comments on China, perhaps most damning is a late Wednesday article in the New York Times slamming the former vice president's major Ukraine conflicts. We reported on this nearly four weeks ago following reporting and interviews with key players by The Hill's John Solomon, and it looks bad for Joe. 

At the heart of the matter is Biden's role in threatening Ukraine if they didn't immediately fire their top prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin - who was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into a natural gas firm - Burisma Holdings - which Biden's son, Hunter, sat on the board of directors. 

Biden openly bragged about this at a January CFR event.
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With Assad Victorious, US Oil Sanctions Now Strangle Entire Syrian Population

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The deep irony of the tragic Syria war is that after seven years of massive bloodshed, as the government has emerged victorious, it is only now with relative stability and ensuing calm over most of the country that an "economic siege" has hit the population with full force. 

Damascus even during some of the worst years of war was always a bustling traffic-packed economic center for its six million inhabitants, but as we noted previously the country has been plunged into a fuel crisis that is the result of new US-led oil sanctions targeting Damascus and Tehran. As one recent WSJ report put it, Iranian oil deliveries to Syria have "fallen off a cliff" since January.

"Lifeless" and "decimated economy" are words used to describe the Syrian capital city and home to Assad in a new Bloomberg piece (which appeared just as busy as most any global cosmopolitan center only months ago), as further "traffic is light" and "morale is down," according to the report.

"Waiting 19 hours for gas in a lifeless city" — the headlines read. The ongoing weeks-long crisis has now been made especially worse after the Trump administration this week ended embargo exemptions for eight countries allowed to purchase Iranian crude.
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