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When you want to sanction States, you call them « terrorists »

The new unilateral sanctions by the United States against Iran, Russia and Syria add to the previous actions concerning the same three targets. They now form the most unforgiving embargo in History. The way in which they have been organised is illegal according to the definition of the Charter of the United Nations – these are weapons of war, designed for killing.

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis applauded by United States Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin.

For his visit to Moscow on 8 November, ambassador James Jeffrey was tasked with explaining the current US obsession with the expansion of Persian influence in the Arab world (Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen). Washington now wishes to formulate this question in geo-strategic rather than religious terms (Chiites/Sunni), while Teheran is organising its national defence around forward posts composed of Chiite Arabs.

Moscow then considered the possibility of negotiating on Teheran’s behalf for the easing of unilateral US sanctions, in exchange for its military withdrawal from Syria. President Vladimir Putin confirmed his proposition, not only for his US opposite number, but also for the Israëli Prime Minister, during their meeting in Paris on 11 November for the celebrations marking the centenary of the end of the First World War .

He attempted to convince the Westerners that Russia alone in Syria was preferable to the Irano-Russian tandem. However, he could not guarantee that Iran would have sufficient authority over Hezbollah – as both Washington and Tel-Aviv pretend – to be able to order it to withdraw also.

Washington’s only answer, nine days later, was to announce the eleventh series of unilateral sanctions against Russia since the beginning of August.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Avoid A New War In Europe

How To Avoid A New War In Europe

There is a rather embarrassing negative perspective for maintaining rational military strategic parity between Russia and USA and Russia and NATO as a whole in the coming decades due to future tremendous expenditures of the USA for modernizing strategic and tactical nuclear forces that will require $ U.S. 1,2-1,7 trillion during next three decades for hammering out a qualitatively new strategic nuclear triad only. Substantial amount of money will be allocated for procurement of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), space-based strike assets and conventional arms as well. No other nation in the world can afford to spend such enormous amount of money.

The problem is complicated by the existing 15 unresolved issues in arms control between Moscow and Washington due to lack of desire of the latter to resolve the most burning issues, like limiting BMDS, taking the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) from Europe and refraining from weaponization of outer space, etc.

A potential withdrawal of the USA from the INF Treaty no doubt:

1) will undermine the global strategic equation, push all nuclear-weapon states into a deep-seated mistrust, destroy the NPT regime and prompt all 32 states capable to produce intermediate-range missiles without any limitations;

2) will create a negative domino-style effect that will complicate nuclear arms control, namely:

  1. In military sphere it will block the potential resolution of the nuclear arms deal to be applied to the Korean Peninsula, may bring the U.S. nuclear weapons to Japan and the Republic of Korea, and
  2. In political domain such step will undermine specific solutions at the upcoming 2020 NPT Review Conference and erect unsurmountable obstacles for entry into force of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

MI6’s Spymaster Revealed How The UK Is Conducting “Fourth Generation Espionage

MI6’s Spymaster Revealed How The UK Is Conducting “Fourth Generation Espionage

The head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Alex Younger briefed the public about the challenges of so-called “fourth generation espionage”.

The UK’s top spy spent some of his time blaming Russia for trying to, as he put it, “subvert the UK way of life” by supposedly poisoning the Skripals and through other mischievous but ultimately never verified actions, though moving beyond the infowar aspect of his speech and into its actual professional substance, he nevertheless touched on some interesting themes. According to him, “fourth generation espionage” involves “deepening our partnerships to counter hybrid threats, mastering covert action in the data age, attaching a cost to malign activity by adversaries and innovating to ensure that technology works to our advantage.” In other words, it’s all about applying what he calls the “Fusion Doctrine” for building the right domestic and international teams across skillsets in order to best leverage new technologies for accomplishing his agency’s eternal mission, which is “to understand the motivations, intentions and aspirations of people in other countries.”

While he remarked that the so-called “hybrid threats” associated with “fourth generation espionage” necessitate “being able to take steps to change [targets’] behavior”, this has actually been part and parcel of the intelligence profession since time immemorial, albeit nowadays facilitated by social media and other technological platforms that allow shadowy actors such as the UK’s own “77th Brigade” to carry out psychological, influence, and informational operations. Younger warned that “bulk data combined with modern analytics” could be “a serious challenge” if used against his country, obviously alluding to Cambridge Analytica’s purported weaponization of these cutting-edge technological processes to supposedly “hack” elections…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

War With Russia?

War With Russia?

The New Cold War is more dangerous than the one the world survived.

The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk. — Hegel

War With Russia?, like the biography of a living person, is a book without an end. The title is a warning—akin to what the late Gore Vidal termed “a journalistic alert-system”—not a prediction. Hence the question mark. I cannot foresee the future. The book’s overarching theme is informed by past and current facts, not by any political agenda, ideological commitment, or magical prescience.

To restate that theme: The new US-Russian Cold War is more dangerous than was its 40-year predecessor that the world survived. The chances are even greater that this one could result, inadvertently or intentionally, in actual war between the two nuclear superpowers. Herein lies another ominous indication. During the preceding Cold War, the possibility of nuclear catastrophe was in the forefront of American mainstream political and media discussion, and of policy-making. During the new one, it rarely seems to be even a concern.

In the latter months of 2018, the facts and the mounting crises they document grow worse, especially in the US political-media establishment, where, as I have argued, the new Cold War originated and has been repeatedly escalated. Consider a few examples, some of them not unlike political and media developments during the run-up to the US war in Iraq or, historians have told us, how the great powers “sleepwalked” into World War I:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia-Ukraine Row: NATO’s Eastward Trajectory Is the Real Problem

Russia-Ukraine Row: NATO’s Eastward Trajectory Is the Real Problem

UkraineSoldiers, cc Flickr 7th Army Training Command, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

On November 25, two small Ukrainian artillery ships and a tugboat were prevented by Russian vessels from crossing the narrow Kerch Strait and reaching the Ukrainian port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, which both countries share. Ukraine accuses Russia of open aggression and released what it calls intercepted communications from the Russian ships’ captains and military aircraft in the area that appear to support its case. In his most fiery rhetoric of the crisis, the Ukrainian president Poroshenko accused Putin of wanting to annex Ukraine, telling the German newspaper Bild on last Thursday: “Don’t believe Putin’s lies. Putin wants the old Russian empire back.”

Moscow says the Ukrainian ships ignored the normal procedure for crossing the Kerch Strait and so were treated as hostile craft. The Kremlin claims Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko planned the “provocation” to boost his ratings before elections next March, but it has not adequately explained why Russian forces needed to chase, disable, and impound the ships as they sailed away from the Kerch Strait.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, following a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on November 26, said: “What we saw yesterday was very serious, because we saw actually that Russia used military force against Ukraine, in an open and direct way. We saw that they fired at Ukrainian ships; that they actually seized and captured ships and personnel, and we have seen reports that several of the personnel that were seized or captured, are wounded. So, this is escalating the situation in the region and it confirms a pattern of behavior that we have seen over several years, where Russia illegally annexed Crimea, continued to destabilize Eastern Ukraine, and now also uses a military force in a very direct way, in the Sea of Azov or the Kerch Strait. So of course, this is serious.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Flies Recon Plane Over Ukraine In Provocative “Warning” To Russia

The Pentagon confirmed Thursday it conducted a provocative military reconnaissance flyover of Ukraine following heightened tensions in the wake of the Nov. 25 Kerch Strait incident.

Air Force OC

A Pentagon official stated the rare flight was carried out under the international Open Skies Treaty to “reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The specific flight path is unknown, but an unarmed high-tech Air Force observation plane was used with international personnel on board, likely to signal international opposition to what the US has called Russian “aggression” around Crimea in the Black Sea, per the WSJ report:

U.S. officials wouldn’t specify the Thursday plane’s flight path but said it was near Crimea, the Ukrainian region seized by Russia in a 2014 invasion. They used a U.S. Air Force OC-135 observation plane, which was specifically designed for such missions, with U.S., Canadian, German, French, UK, Romanian and Ukrainian observers aboard, the Pentagon said.

This also comes after the US notified Turkey that it may send a warship through the key Bosporus Straits and Dardanelles waterways in order to enter the Black Sea for the first time since the Russian seizure of three Ukrainian vessels near the Kerch Strait. US defense officials weren’t shy to note that the request was specifically in response to Russia’s actions against Ukraine.

But also on Wednesday in the most significant US-Russia incident an American destroyer sailed through waters claimed by Russia in the Sea of Japan for the first time since the Soviet era in 1987. The U.S. Pacific Fleet confirmed that the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed “in the vicinity of” Peter the Great Bay on Wednesday–

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Russia Investigation is about Criminalizing Peace

The Russia Investigation is about Criminalizing Peace

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“For those who long wondered why throughout the presidential campaign Trump could not bring himself to say a critical word about Russian President Vladimir Putin, we now know the answer: Trump was hoping to do business in Russia, and doing so would require the approval of Putin.” – USA TodayOpinion

Make no mistake, the mainstream left and state serving-media voices are trying to gaslight an entire generation into believing any candidate that wants peace with Russia may be a foreign conspirator worthy of prison, shame, and family persecution.

Former congressman Ron Paul, as a peace presidential candidate, did not regurgitate war propaganda against Russia either. Neither did Senator Rand Paul when he ran. What Paul hotel do you see in Moscow? Yet for future generations, many in the media want to ensure no such candidate ever runs again without baked-in misgivings of treason and criminality.

No serious observer of recent events can honestly believe the mono-narrative the old media, including “hard news” outfits, has tried to curate about the 2016 election. However, the aim of the last two years of conspiratorial hysteria has been to sear into the minds of low information voters suspicion of any successful political figure who even half challenges the conventional wisdom that America must perpetually spend hundreds of billions on NATO, collect citizens’ private conversations, sanction Russian citizens, and intervene in Russia’s local border disputes.

This is nothing new. When Martin Luther King Jr. used his national spotlight to challenge the moral authority of the Vietnam War, he was denounced as a subversive agent of enemy foreign powers.

What voters need to understand is that those who challenge bipartisan orthodox foreign policy are the leaders most likely to keep them safe from foreign authoritarians.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia Claims It Chased U.S. Destroyer Out Of Its Territorial Waters

Moscow is seeking to downplay yesterday’s incident in the Sea of Japan, which saw an American destroyer sail through waters claimed by Russia for the first time since the Soviet era in 1987, and has released new details of the incident. Russia has further framed the incident as one in which the American ship was essentially chased out of the area.

USS McCampbell, Getty images

The U.S. Pacific Fleet confirmed that the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed “in the vicinity of” Peter the Great Bay on Wednesday  a body of water off the Russian port city of Vladivostok in order to “challenge Russia’s excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other nations,” according to a Navy official statement. The United States does not recognize Russia’s claim to the waters in question.

In a statement reported by Bloomberg the Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) said its own warship and aircraft had escorted the American destroyer as it sailed near the contested waters. The MoD emphasized the USS McCampbell didn’t enter to within 100 kilometers (60 miles) to Russian territorial waters.

But most interesting is that Russia is framing the US destroyer’s reaction as one of attempting “to escape at full speed” from the Russian escort vessels:

“If the American destroyer’s crew demonstrated anything, it was its unsuccessful attempt to escape at full speed from Pacific Fleet forces escorting it,” the statement said.

The incident occurred in the general vicinity of where the Russian Pacific Fleet is based. Peter the Great Bay, the largest in the Sea of Japan, and its port city of Vladivostok has been home to Russia’s major Far East region/Pacific naval base since the 18th century, when it was a key forward outpost of the Imperial Russian Navy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Encouraged by US, Ukraine Prepares to Stage Military Provocation

Encouraged by US, Ukraine Prepares to Stage Military Provocation

Encouraged by US, Ukraine Prepares to Stage Military Provocation

There is a cause for concern and it’s real and very grave. Ukraine is being pushed to war. Kiev is not bluffing. Encouraged by its American tutors, it’s involved in dangerous games pursuing political purposes. It’s not about sanctions, warnings, statements and declarations – they want to provoke real shooting now. The time is right for ringing alarm bells before it’s too late.

The US President Donald Trump’s refusal to have a separate meeting with President Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina citing the Kerch Strait incident as a reason was not exactly unexpected. Obviously, Washington is interested in aggravating the Russian-Ukrainian relations. The introduction of the state of emergency in the territories bordering Russia, the concentration of Ukrainian troops in the Donbas region, and the call-up of reservists announced by Ukraine’s president – all these moves testify to the fact that war preparations are in full swing. Neither Washington nor Brussels have called on Kiev to show restraint.

Ukraine has recently announced its decision not to allow Russian men aged 16-60 into the country. This policy of Kiev is in stark contrast with what Moscow does. According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided not to retaliate. No, quite the opposite – he ordered to simplify the procedures for Ukrainians asking for Russian citizenship. The move is intended to demonstrate good intentions. In late October, the Russian president signed the Concept of the State Migration Policy of the Russian Federation for 2019-2025 to facilitate the inflow of Russian speakers to the country.

US Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs and US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft operate over the Black Sea and eastern Ukraine.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Five Academics Who Unleashed the “Demon” of Geopolitical Power

Five Academics Who Unleashed the “Demon” of Geopolitical Power

Photo Source pedrik | CC BY 2.0

As Washington’s leadership fades more quickly than anyone could have imagined and a new global order struggles to take shape, a generation of leaders has crowded onto the world stage with their own bold geopolitical visions for winning international influence. Xi Xinping has launched his trillion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative” to dominate Eurasia and thereby the world beyond. To recover the Soviet Union’s lost influence, Vladimir Putin seeks to shatter the Western alliance with cyberwar, while threatening to dominate a nationalizing, fragmenting Eastern Europe through raw military power. The Trump White House, in turn, is wielding tariffs as weapons to try to beat recalcitrant allies back into line and cripple the planet’s rising power, China. However bizarrely different these approaches may seem, they all share one strikingly similar feature: a reliance on the concept of “geopolitics” to guide their bids for global power.

Over the past century, countless scholars, columnists, and commentators have employed the term “geopolitics” (or the study of global control) to lend gravitas to their arguments. Few, though, have grasped the true significance of this elusive concept. However else the term might be used, geopolitics is essentially a methodology for the management (or mismanagement) of empire. Unlike conventional nations whose peoples are, in normal times, readily and efficiently mobilized for self-defense, empires, thanks to their global reach, are a surprisingly fragile form of government. They seem to yearn for strategic visionaries who can merge land, peoples, and resources into a sustainable global system.

The practice of geopolitics, even if once conducted from horseback, is as old as empire itself, dating back some 4,000 years. Until the dawn of the twentieth century, it was the conquerors themselves — from Alexander the Great to Julius Caesar to Napoleon Bonaparte — whose geopolitical visions guided the relentless expansion of their imperial domains.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The West Slips Down Another Step

The West Slips Down Another Step

The West Slips Down Another Step

There is much on the Internet these days about documents allegedly hacked by Anonymous; these documents belong to the “Integrity Initiative” and describe a multi-country effort, funded by London and Washington, to counter “Russian propaganda” and “fake news”. Since the initial story broke, a good deal of confusion has been laid down: Wikileaks is doubtful, and Anonymous itself is being evasive. On the other hand, Integrity Initiative doesn’t entirely deny.

But even if entirely false, they would be in that curious category of “fake but true”: Integrity Initiative does actually exist and here is its website. It is certainly engaged in anti-Russia propaganda. It publishes articles locking the barn door after the horses have escaped: yes, “Novichok” is terribly deadly but that doesn’t mean it will kill you. But, if it isn’t strong enough to kill you today, it may be strong enough to kill someone four months later. Its most memorable statement is surely this:

The Kremlin has invested more operational thought, intent and resource in disinformation, in Europe and elsewhere in the democratic world, than any other single player.

A statement that would stun anyone who’s ever been in a hotel and gone channel cruising: RT’s in there somewhere along with CNN, MSNBC, Fox, BBC, DW, France Télévisions, Rai and so on. A tiny voice in a bellowing crowd. But, after all, these are the people who tell us that Russia affected the US election with one FB message per 400 million others.

The Integrity Initiative is one of many. We had, and still have, the Legatum Institute which worried about “Russian disinformation” back in 2013, a pair of British thinktankers two years later also worried about “Russia’s information warfare in the UK“.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Putin Confirms No New Oil Production Cuts; Hopes For US, UK Detente

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Trump, pummeled Poroshenko, and poured cold water on oil market bulls’ hopes in a statement following the G-20 meetings.

Putin began by confirming what White House Press Secretary Sanders noted earlier – he and Trump had spoken broefly on the sidelines of the G-20 and discussed the Ukraine incident. Putin added that “Trump is not afraid of [him]” and expressed “pity that he could not have a full format meeting with President Trump” pointing out that “Russian needs to maintain dialog with US,” and “hopes to meet [Trump] when US is ready.”

Putin also mentioned Russia’s relationship with the United Kingdom, noting that “UK is an important partner for Russia” adding that he “hopes to overcome differences, to normalize relations with UK in the near future.”

But perhaps the most important aspect of Putin’s comments – related to markets – was his statement on crude production cuts.

Russian news service RIA noted earlier that Putin and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) discussed oil, haven’t taken concrete decisions yet, including production cuts, Kremlin’s foreign police aide Yuri Ushakov said.

And Putin just confirmed that there are no additional cuts over and above the OPEC+ Vienna Accord levels currently in place:

  • *PUTIN SAYS THEY AGREED TO EXTEND OPEC+ AGREEMENT
  • *PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA, SAUDI AGREES TO CONTINUE AGREEMENT
  • *PUTIN: EXACT VOLUME TO BE AGREED W SAUDI ARABIA BASED ON MARKET

Confirming Lavrov’s comments earlier in the week that there was no need for additional deals or cuts. The two producers will monitor market to adjust policy accordingly.

Finally Putin raised the topic of the Kerch Strait crisis, explaining that “Poroshenko was dividing Ukraine through the use of mertial law,” adding that it “was much too early to talk about the release/swap of Ukraine sailors.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Kill Prospects for Arms Control

US Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Kill Prospects for Arms Control

US Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Kill Prospects for Arms Control

US Senator Tom Cotton and Congresswoman Liz Cheney have introduced a bill that prevents extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia or the Stopping Russia Nuclear Aggression Act. It says “Under no circumstances should the United States agree to extend the New START Treaty beyond the current expiration in 2021 without drastic improvements to the deeply flawed deal.” The bill includes the provision of Russia’s agreement to verifiably reduce its stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons. It also stipulates that the new weapons mentioned in the President Putin’s famous speech in March must be included into the count.

New START limits the US and Russia each to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles. Effective since 2011, the agreement covers a 10-year period until February 2021 with the possibility of a five-year extension. So far, the talks on extending the agreement have not been kicked off to the dismay of many arms control wonks.

President Donald Trump has announced his intention to jettison the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty citing Russia’s alleged “violation” and the “threat” supposedly coming from China.  Decried by the president last year, New START may be next up on the chopping block. He does not like anything done during President Obama’s tenure. The other option is an analog of the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which limited deployed warheads without verification provisions. According to Andrea Thompson, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, the future of New Start depends on Moscow’s readiness to limit the new strategic systems President Putin mentioned in his famous speech in March.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Never, Ever Forget The Guardian/Politico Psyop Against WikiLeaks

Never, Ever Forget The Guardian/Politico Psyop Against WikiLeaks

For the first few hours after any new “bombshell” Russiagate story comes out, my social media notifications always light up with poorly written posts by liberal establishment loyalists saying things like “HAHAHA @caitoz this proves you wrong now will you FINALLY stop denying Russian collusion???” Then, when people start actually analyzing that story and noting that it comes nowhere remotely close to proving that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election, those same people always forget to come back afterward and admit to me that they were wrong again.

This happens every single time, including this past Tuesday when the Guardian published a new “bombshell” report saying that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had had secret meetings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. When experts all across the political spectrum began pointing out that the story contained no evidence for its nonsensical claims and was entirely anonymously sourced, nobody ever came back and said “Hey sorry for calling you a Russian propagandist, Caitlin; turns out that story wasn’t as fact-based as I’d thought!” When evidence for a single one of the article’s claims failed to turn up for a day, then two days, then three days, nobody came back and said “Gosh Caitlin, I owe you an apology for mocking you and calling you Assange’s bitch; turns out WikiLeaks and Manafort are suing that publication and its claims remain completely unproven.”

And of course they didn’t. They weren’t meant to. They were meant to absorb the Guardian‘s false claims as fact, add it to their Gish gallop mountain of false evidence for Trump-Russia-WikiLeaks collusion, and then be shuffled onward by the relentless news churn of the corporate propaganda matrix like always. But I’m never going to let them forget that this happened, and neither should you.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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