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How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

How Stupid Do They Think We Are? 

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Consumers of the print or electronic output of the League of Copy Typists and their Instructors are expected to believe many impossible things and believe them, not just before breakfast, but all day too.

Come to think it, believing any part of the official Skripal story, from the incredibly lethal nerve agent that didn’t kill them, to the spectacular coincidence of the British Army’s chief nurse being on the scene, to the re-wrapped perfume bottle would tax the White Queen’s ability. Here’s a list. But that’s not to say that we’re finished yet: there always seems to be another absurdity like the dead ducks.

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

Russia-India-China will be the big G20 hit

Russia-India-China will be the big G20 hit

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) hug during their meeting before a session of the Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: AFP / Grigory Sysoev / Sputnik

Russia-India-China will be the big G20 hit

India under Modi, an essential cog in US strategy, gets cozy with China and Russia

It all started with the Vladimir Putin–Xi Jinping summit in Moscow on June 5. Far from a mere bilateral, this meeting upgraded the Eurasian integration process to another level. The Russian and Chinese presidents discussed everything from the progressive interconnection of the New Silk Roads with the Eurasia Economic Union, especially in and around Central Asia, to their concerted strategy for the Korean Peninsula.

A particular theme stood out: They discussed how the connecting role of Persia in the Ancient Silk Road is about to be replicated by Iran in the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And that is non-negotiable. Especially after the Russia-China strategic partnership, less than a month before the Moscow summit, offered explicit support for Tehran signaling that regime change simply won’t be accepted, diplomatic sources say.

Putin and Xi solidified the roadmap at the St Petersburg Economic Forum. And the Greater Eurasia interconnection continued to be woven immediately after at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, with two essential interlocutors: India, a fellow BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and SCO member, and SCO observer Iran.

At the SCO summit we had Putin, Xi, Narendra Modi, Imran Khan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sitting at the same table. Hanging over the proceedings, like concentric Damocles swords, were the US-China trade war, sanctions on Russia, and the explosive situation in the Persian Gulf.

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

Putin Warns Attack On Iran Would Be “Catastrophic” As US Navy Deploys To Drone Crash Site

Putin Warns Attack On Iran Would Be “Catastrophic” As US Navy Deploys To Drone Crash Site

Following China’s warning this week that the United States is poised to open “Pandora’s Box” in the Middle East should it escalate military action against Iran, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has weighed in, on Thursday saying any American military strike would have “catastrophic” consequences.

Putin warned further that US attack “would trigger a surge in violence and a possible refugee exodus,” according to Reuters. During an annual televised question and answer session hosted by the Russian leader, he reiterated Moscow’s position that Tehran is in full compliance with its nuclear commitments under the 2015 JCPOA. He also slammed the US-imposed sanctions now choking the Iranian economy as “groundless”.

“I want to say at once that this would be a catastrophe for the region” — Putin said.

Meanwhile, President Trump has been briefed on Thursday morning’s dramatic escalation of an already tense stand-off in the Strait of Hormuz which involved Iran’s alleged shoot down of a US drone near entrance to Persian Gulf.

Reports say it was US Navy high-altitude drone taken out by an Iranian surface-to-air missile directly over Strait of Hormuz in what the US says was international airspace, but which Iran claimed was over its sovereign airspace. US Central Command (CENTCOM) identified the drone as one of its RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, condemning it as an “unprovoked attack”.

“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false. This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace,” CENTCOM spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Urban said following the confirmed drone downing.

And now, in a pattern suggesting significant US military build-up will continue in the Persian Gulf following last week’s tanker attack incident, also blamed on Iran, US naval assets have been dispatched to the “drone debris field in international waters” according to a breaking Reuters report.

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

Trump – Israel – Putin – Middle East

Trump – Israel – Putin – Middle East 

The interesting aspect of our war models has been that this cycle turned up in 2014 and we really do not reach the point of a major peak before 2022/2023. Back in 2015, we published a segment on the rising tensions that would emerge in the Middle East – the War Cycle. We warned about the division along the lines of religion in the Middle East which has pitted Saudi Arabia against Iran would become the major issue. As far as Israel was concerned, this would tend to turn up from January 10th, 2019, which is the conclusion of a 51.6-year wave from the 1967 6-Day war. Now the pieces are beginning to line up.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement that “it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights” received an enthusiastic welcome in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was boosted in his position in the upcoming April 9th elections. He said he welcomed this “Purim miracle.” His rival Benny Gantz, whose party’s leading lights helped push for American recognition of the Golan’s annexation, said in a statement that Trump was cementing his place in history as a true friend of Israel.

That Netanyahu and Gantz were both delighted no doubt. The annexation of the Golan and the settlements established there enjoy widespread support in Israel. Ever since the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Syria has refrained from any attempt to recover the Golan by force. After 51.6 years, even the Druze residents of the northern Golan had accepted Israeli rule without rebelling. Naturally, Syria slammed Trump’s statement that it was time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights as “irresponsible” remarking that it confirms “the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist entity.”

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

Putin Now Thinks Western Elites Are ‘Swine’

Putin Now Thinks Western Elites Are ‘Swine’


An article I published close to five years ago, “Putin to Western elites: Play-time is over”, turned out to be the most popular thing I’ve written so far, having garnered over 200,000 reads over the intervening years. In it I wrote about Putin’s speech at the 2014 Valdai Club conference. In that speech he defined the new rules by which Russia conducts its foreign policy: out in the open, in full public view, as a sovereign nation among other sovereign nations, asserting its national interests and demanding to be treated as an equal. Yet again, Western elites failed to listen to him.

Instead of mutually beneficial cooperation they continued to speak the language of empty accusations and counterproductive yet toothless sanctions. And so, in yesterday’s address to Russia’s National Assembly Putin sounded note of complete and utter disdain and contempt for his “Western partners,” as he has usually called them. This time he called them “swine.”

The president’s annual address to the National Assembly is a rather big deal. Russia’s National Assembly is quite unlike that of, say, Venezuela, which really just consists of some obscure nonentity named Juan recording Youtube videos in his apartment. In Russia, the gathering is a who’s-who of Russian politics, including cabinet ministers, Kremlin staffers, the parliament (State Duma), regional governors, business leaders and political experts, along with a huge crowd of journalists. One thing that stood out at this year’s address was the very high level of tension in the hall: the atmosphere seemed charged with electricity.

It quickly became obvious why the upper echelon of Russia’s state bureaucracy was nervous: Putin’s speech was part marching orders part harangue. His plans for the next couple of years are extremely ambitious, as he himself admitted.

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

Pence Urged Germany To Provoke Russian Navy

Pence Urged Germany To Provoke Russian Navy 

Bloomberg dropped a bombshell on Thursday, citing three high level sources familiar with US-German talks at last month’s Munich Security Conference who revealed US Vice President Mike Pence tried to persuade German Chancellor Angela Merkel to directly provoke Russia by sending German ships through the Kerch Strait, the two mile wide flashpoint off Crimea which saw Russia seize Ukrainian vessels and their crew members on November 25. 

Merkel reportedly rebuffed the efforts which Bloomberg described as “a naval maneuver in Russia’s backyard aimed at provoking President Vladimir Putin.” Merkel declined Pence’s urging while citing reservations voiced by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who viewed such an act as “not enough” to ensure Russia opens the strait permanently, according to the sources. Sources said Pence’s plan was designed “to show Putin that Western powers won’t surrender their access to those waters.”Image source: Reuters

Interestingly, Merkel’s stance wasn’t based on any principled desire to promoted peace or prevent needless provocations which could potentially spark regional war between Ukraine and Russia and western allies, but out of concern it essentially “wasn’t enough”

According to Bloomberg

Merkel had indicated she was willing, in coordination with the French, to send a convoy through the waterway as a one-time maneuver but Poroshenko said that wasn’t enough to solve his problem — he wants to ensure the strait is open permanently, the people said. France also refused to take part, judging the idea as an unnecessary provocation, according to another official who declined to be identified.

Following the controversial 2014 Crimean status referendum, which resulted in the peninsula coming under Russian suzerainty, Russia has been accused of choking off Ukrainian naval access to its ports on the Sea of Azov to the north of the Kerch Strait. 

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

Venezuela Orders PDVSA Offices Relocate To Moscow; Putin Affirms Support To “Friend” Maduro

Venezuela Orders PDVSA Offices Relocate To Moscow; Putin Affirms Support To “Friend” Maduro

A top Venezuelan official has announced that President Nicolas Maduro has ordered national oil and gas company PDVSA to close its current European headquarters in Lisbon, Portugal and move it to Moscow. The announcement came from Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez during a press conference standing alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Friday. 

“President Nicolas Maduro instructed the Lisbon branch of PDVSA to close this office and relocate the office to Moscow,”Rodriguez said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency. It appears the relocation is already underway, and is part of the framework of “broadening cooperation” with Russian energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom, according to the statement.

Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., PDVSA offices, via AFP

The Venezuelan vice president said, “This is done in line with our plans to expand technical cooperation in the oil production area with Rosneft, with Gazprom. The moment now is the most suitable to do so. We are changing the format of our relations.” And she added, “It’s the perfect time, as we are reshaping our relations.”

As part of the press briefing, Russian FM Lavrov conveyed President Putin’s words of support and solidarity to his “friend” President Maduro in a further clear sign that Moscow has dedicated itself to helping Venezuela’s state oil company weather the storm of US economic war and sanctions. 

Lavrov explained in the press conference, “Russia will further help the Venezuelan government to solve social and economic problems, which includes lending support via legitimate humanitarian aid.”

This after what’s been widely acknowledged as failed US-led coup efforts over the past weeks in support of opposition leader Juan Gaido, who has tried to rally support for greater external “pro-democracy” intervention against the Caracas government. As part of her remarks Rodriguez slammed what she called a US “operation” of “sabotage” against a “legal government” spearheaded by White House envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams.

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

The Kremlin’s Military Posture Reconsidered

The Kremlin’s Military Posture Reconsidered

To the vast majority of Americans, including the foreign policy establishment, the question posed in the title may seem something of a joke. After all, absolute military superiority over Russia and other potential rivals for global influence has been the objective of US military policy for the last twenty-five years or more, at vast budgetary expense. One instrument for its achievement has been the roll-out of a system known as the global missile defense, which in effect encircles Russia and China, posing the threat of massive simultaneous missile strikes that could overwhelm any defenses. To intelligence specialists at the Pentagon, who likely have been watching, as I have done, what the Kremlin disseminated earlier today in Russian only versions so far, the question of Moscow turning the tables is entirely serious and shocking.

When Vladimir Putin first publicly described Russia’s latest state-of-the-art weapons systems in development and deployment one year ago, during his 1 March 2018 Address to the bicameral legislature, he said these systems would ensure the re-establishment of full strategic parity with the United States. Western media sniggered. US politicians, with a very few exceptions, chose to ignore what they considered to be just domestic electioneering during a presidential campaign that Putin was expected to win handily. It was all a bluff, they said.

In his annual Address this past Wednesday, 22 February, President Putin expanded on those developments in armaments, reported which systems were now entering active service. He made it clear one of them is the planned Russian response to a likely consequence of US withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: the stationing by the U.S. of nuclear armed cruise missiles like the Tomahawk on land and directed against Russia, all of which would reduce the warning time of incoming attack in Moscow to just 10–12 minutes and constitute an existential risk.

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

Russia “Prepared For Another Cuban Missile Crisis”, Putin Warns US

Russia “Prepared For Another Cuban Missile Crisis”, Putin Warns US

Russia is militarily ready for a “Cuban Missile-style crisis” President Putin said late on Wednesday, commenting on nuclear first strike capability amidst growing tensions with the US. The remarks were given to Russian media following a prior speech wherein he warned Moscow will match any attempt by the US to station intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe in the wake of the now collapsing INF treaty.

Putin specifically threatened deployment of hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines which could enter US territorial waters without detection if American intermediate-range missiles move into Europe.  

“(We’re talking about) naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range (of our missiles)… in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript. “You work it out. Mach nine [the speed of the missiles] and over 1,000 km [their range],” he boasted of the Kremlin’s latest claimed capabilities. 

He urged an easing of tensions after last week the Russian Foreign Ministry left the door open for talks to rescue the INF treaty as well as extend the New START nuclear reduction treaty, set to expire in 2021. Speaking of the current stand off and ratcheting tensions with Washington, Putin said“They [the tensions] are not a reason to ratchet up confrontation to the levels of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. In any case that’s not what we want.” He said further, “If someone wants that, well OK they are welcome. I have set out today what that would mean. Let them count [the missile flight times].”

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

Here is what experts say about Putin’s threat to aim missiles at US

Here is what experts say about Putin’s threat to aim missiles at US

His fiery speech was more about creating headlines in Russia, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no reason to worry.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” said Putin, in his annual address.

While U.S. missiles already target Russia (whose weapons, in turn, target the United States), placing missiles closer, in Europe, would allow them to reach their targets in 10 – 12 minutes, a shorter strike time Putin noted as a threat.

But aside from sounding like an extended Moscow remix of “Fire & Fury” (President Trump’s own threat against North Korea), Putin’s speech didn’t actually signify a dangerous shift in U.S.-Russia relations, according to experts.

The speech, said Yuval Weber, an associate professor at Daniel Morgan Graduate School and a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, is one of a trio of major set-piece addresses by the Russian president, which included a call-in show and a Q&A with reporters “that are both very theatrical, and akin to a ‘State of the Union’ address.”

Weber said it’s important to note the domestic content of the speech. Putin’s approval ratings are dropping in the country, which has also seen “limited positive economic news.”

President Putin, he said, “needed something to create headlines and especially headlines focused on his comparative advantage, or core strength, security.”

Although Russia has been violating the the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and also wanted out, the United States’ withdrawal provided the perfect “ex post justification because they get to claim that they follow the rules while their opponents are dangerous and erratic,” said Weber, answering questions via e-mail.

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

How Russia-gate Rationalized Censorship

How Russia-gate Rationalized Censorship

At the end of October 2017, I wrote an article for Consortium News about the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign paying for unvetted opposition research that became the basis for much of the disputed story about Russia allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Gage Skidmore)

The piece showed that the Democrats’ two paid-for sources that have engendered belief in Russia-gate are at best shaky. First was former British spy Christopher Steele’s largely unverified dossier of second- and third-hand opposition research portraying Donald Trump as something of a Russian Manchurian candidate.

And the second was CrowdStrike, an anti-Putin private company, examining the DNC’s computer server to dubiously claim discovery of a Russian “hack.” In a similar examination using the same software of an alleged hack of a Ukrainian artillery app, CrowdStrike also blamed Russia but used faulty data for its report that it was later forced to rewrite. CrowdStrike was hired after the DNC refused to allow the FBI to look at the server.

My piece also described the dangerous consequences of partisan Democratic faith in Russia-gate: a sharp increase in geopolitical tensions between nuclear-armed Russia and the U.S., and a New McCarthyism that is spreading fear — especially in academia, journalism and civil rights organizations — about questioning the enforced orthodoxy of Russia’s alleged guilt.

After the article appeared at Consortium News, I tried to penetrate the mainstream by then publishing a version of the article on the HuffPost, which was rebranded from the Huffington Post in April this year by new management. As a contributor to the site since February 2006, I was trusted by HuffPost editors to post my stories directly online. However, within 24 hours of publication on Nov. 4, HuffPost editors retracted the article without any explanation.

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

‘The People’ Know What They Want and Just Might Get It – Good and Hard

‘The People’ Know What They Want and Just Might Get It – Good and Hard

‘The People’ Know What They Want and Just Might Get It – Good and Hard

A survey of nations in what was once known quaintly as the Free World shows some of them engaged in what could best be described as a cold civil war.

Such a condition is inherently unstable. One possible future is one where the cold conflict becomes hot with unforeseeable consequences. Another is that one side successfully represses the other before violence reaches a certain threshold.

Now before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear. Whatever the country and its specific ills, we can be sure that Vladimir Putin is the culprit. According to Stephen Collinson of CNN(“Another good day for Putin as turmoil grips US and UK”):

‘In London, Theresa May on Tuesday suffered the worst defeat in the modern parliamentary era by a prime minister, as lawmakers shot down her Brexit deal with the European Union by a staggering 432 votes to 202.

‘The United States, meanwhile, remains locked in its longest-ever government shutdown, which is now entering its 26th day, is nowhere near ending and is the culmination of two years of whirling political chaos sparked by President Donald Trump.

‘It’s hard to believe that two such robust democracies, long seen by the rest of the world as beacons of stability, have dissolved into such bitter civic dysfunction and seem unmoored from their previous governing realities. [ … ]

‘The result is that Britain and the United States are all but ungovernable on the most important questions that confront both nations.

‘That’s music to Putin’s ears.

‘The Russian leader has made disrupting liberal democracies a core principle of his near two-decade rule, as he seeks to avenge the fall of the Soviet empire, which he experienced as a heartbroken KGB agent in East Germany.

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

Trump Walks Back Syria Pullout As Noose Tightens

Trump Walks Back Syria Pullout As Noose Tightens

If anyone still thinks that Donald Trump has some master plan to kill off his Deep State adversaries they should check themselves into therapy. I know withdrawal is hard, but admitting you have a problem is the first step to curing it.

He doesn’t have a plan. He may fight them but it won’t be with any kind of master plan to trap them in some beautiful bit of political judo.

Frankly, Vladimir Putin he is not.

No, Trump is winging things at this point. While he still has the office he’s trying to do some of the things he promised. Doing that may keep him in power for a few more months.

But with his walking back the timetable for pulling troops out of Syria after a visit from Lindsay Graham (R-MIC/AIPAC) should tell you all you need to know about Trump’s willingness to stand up to the pressure he’s under.

Add to that the opening salvo from Mitt Romney (R-Wall St.) and it becomes pretty clear that Trump was told what the score really is. When, not if, the Democrats push for impeachment or a 25th Amendment proceeding against him Graham and Romney will lead a GOP revolt against him, siding with Senate Democrats to get rid of him.

That’s been the point of this from the beginning. Pat Buchanan and I both talked about this from the moment he was elected. Pat reminding us of what happened to Nixon who was hounded out of office because he did the unthinkable — ending the Vietnam War.

I’ve been simply looking at this from the standard libertarian perspective that “War is the health of the state” and Trump’s opposition to our Middle East follies would net him nothing but contempt.

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

US Rage for Endless Wars Threatens World Peace in the New Year

US Rage for Endless Wars Threatens World Peace in the New Year

Washington’s hegemonic aims, under Republicans and undemocratic Dems, represent the greatest threat to world peace and humanity’s survival.

At his annual marathon Q & A news conference last week, Vladimir Putin warned about possible nuclear war, a growing threat because of Washington’s reckless geopolitical agenda, including withdrawal from the Iran (JCPOA) nuclear deal and INF Treaty, as well as its reluctance to negotiate extending New Start (April 2010) on reducing and limiting strategic weapons, expiring in February 2021 if not renewed.

Based on bad advice from regime hardliners, Trump falsely called New Start a bad deal favoring Russia. It’s nothing of the kind. It’s even-handed, shifting things to less war and more peace globally.

Last October, John Bolton called for withdrawing from New Start. He convinced Trump to abandon the JCPOA and INF Treaty. He advocates greater US toughness against all sovereign independent countries.

Before becoming Trump’s national security advisor, he urged terror-bombing Iran and North Korea, sanctions not enough, he said, diplomacy “a waste of time.”

He claimed “Iran will not negotiate its (nonexistent) nuclear (weapons) program.” He urged “military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq…”

He said “(t)he way to end (North Korea’s nuclear program) is to end the North.”

New Start calls for reducing the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers by half. It limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,500.

It also limits the number of ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers, and nuclear capable heavy warplanes. 

It calls for satellite and other monitoring, as well as annual on-site inspections to assure both sides comply with terms agreed on.

Bolton, Pompeo, and other Trump regime hardliners want restraints on its weapons development and deployments eliminated, part of Washington’s permanent war agenda.

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

The Curious Case of The Economist: How It Manipulates Its Readers with Slanted Comment on Russia

The Curious Case of The Economist: How It Manipulates Its Readers with Slanted Comment on Russia

The Curious Case of The Economist: How It Manipulates Its Readers with Slanted Comment on Russia

The Economist magazine is an admirable publication to which I have subscribed for over fifty years, with gaps now and then. While serving in Vietnam in 1970 its weekly arrival was a major event, as we were bereft of sensible reportage about that disastrous war, and I have always considered it to be balanced, extremely well-informed, and accurate. In its own modest words “What ties us together is the objectivity of our opinion, the originality of our insight and our advocacy of economic and political freedom around the world.”

Quite so. And so say all of us. Let’s hear it for a fearless journal that tells it like it is.

Until it doesn’t.

In the issue dated December 15, 2018 there is a strange anomaly in its description of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a shattered African state which the magazine’s writer(s) criticise objectively and with originality. And it’s the originality tangent that is intriguing.

The hard copy which I received in France has a half-page leader about Congo, headlined “The Kremlin-style charade in Kinshasa — Can anyone stop Joseph Kabila from doing a Putin?” which was an arresting summons that indicated objective cover concerning what one might expect to be a series of parallels and comparisons involving the leaders of Congo and Russia. On reading it, however, I wondered if perhaps the writer(s) had trended to originality that transcended objectivity, so went to the website where the headline was slightly different, employing the tried and faithful “-ology” tack-on and omitting Kabila’s name. It read “Kremlinology in Kinshasa: Can anyone stop Congo’s president from doing a Putin?”

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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