N.A.T.O.’s Trident Junction 18 exercise took place in Norway in late October and early November and was the largest Western exercise since 1980. It was the first exercises, in the winter conditions in the Arctic zone, after the announcement of United States to withdraw from the INF Treaty. It is likely N.A.T.O. would to open a second front against Russia in the Arctic, in addition to the Baltic region. The purpose of this Arctic ballistic corridor is to facilitate the naval and air offensive against Moscow. For example, once withdrawn from the I.N.F. Treaty, the United States could place intermediate-range and medium-range ballistic missiles on the territory of some N.A.T.O. member states in the Arctic. Taking advantage of a lower number detection systems at the northern border of Russia.
From the north of Norway, a N.A.T.O. member country, the distance to Moscow is 1500 km, and 1000 km to St. Petersburg. The distance between the Svalbard archipelago, administered by Norway, and Moscow is 2000 km. The distance to Russian border from Greenland, which belongs to Denmark, another N.A.T.O. member country, is 1500 km from and 3000 km between Greenland and Moscow. The distance from Canada’s North, a N.A.T.O. member country, to the Russian Arctic coast is 2300 km, and 3900 km to Moscow, by North Pole route.
Due this reason, Russia was forced to adopt measures to protect the Arctic.
The Spanish government has announced that it will approve an increase in the minimum wage of 22%, meaning it will go up from €813 to €900-a-month.
The rise is due to take effect from in January 2019.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made the announcement on Wednesday.
The increase was agreed jointly with the left-wing Podemos party as part of the socialist prime minister's efforts to secure sufficient parliamentary support for his proposed 2019 budget.
The wage increase, initially expected to be formally decided on December 28, will be approved by decree as the cabinet exceptionally meets in Barcelona on December 21, in what Sanchez said was a sign that his government wanted to boost “prosperity for all territories”.
n continuation to the story of the Silk Way Airlines flights, which were initially reported by Dilyana Gaytandhizeva in 2017, there has been more significant activity of cargo flights flying from Baku to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over the last two weeks there have been numerous flights by Silk Way Airlines, as well as several military flights which will be presented further on, as well as significant activity between Djibouti and Aden.
During the week between November 26th and December 2th, Silk Way Airlines performed 8 flights from Baku to the Middle East.
There is also a special mention for Afghanistan – a Boeing 747-200 Freighter, which flew from Bagram to Kabul. Bagram Airfield or BAF also known as Bagram Air Base is the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. It is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, 11 kilometres southeast of Charikar in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan. The flight took place on November 26th. Usually, all flights have information regarding them, this one doesn’t, as can be seen following the link.
During the week there was also one other military cargo flight with a Boeing 747-400 freighter that took place between Tripoli and Beirut on November 29th. Similarly, to the Bagram – Kabul flight it has no information.
Over the week between December 3rd to December 9th, Silk Way Airlines also had significant activity, again between Baku and either Iraq or Afghanistan.
The flights between Baku and Kabul happened on December 3rd, 6th and 8th. (Due to a computer problem, some of the screenshots were lost, thus provided are a few alternative screenshots for the dates between December 3rd and 6th)
This week flights between Baku and Iraq, happened only to Baghdad on December 5th, 8th and 9th:
Furthermore, throughout the two weeks there were regular flights from Djibouti to Aden, by thwo Alaskan Airlines, Taquan Air and Frontier Flying Service, as well as a Kazakhstani airline – Bek air (which showed Taquan’s flight history under information) and the Danish Airline Flex Flight, it is surprising that Djibouti-Aden gets so much “commercial traffic”.
Over the week between November 26th and December 2nd the activity was the following:
November 26th saw two flights by Danish Flexflight and Kazakh Bek Air (which showed the flight history of Alaskan Taquan Air):
On November 28th, once again, there were two flights, one by Flexflight, one by Taquan Air, but this time the Alaskan airline used a Boeing 727 Freighter for the first time, instead of the usual F100:
On November 30th there was just one flight, by Kazakh Bek Air, once more showing the Taquan air flight history:
Over the week between December 3rd and 9th, there was the following activity between Djibouti and Aden:
On December 3rd, there was one flight by Taquan air:
On December 6th, there were two flights by Taquan Air and Frontier Flying Service (as mentioned another Alaskan company):
On December 7th, there was a single flight by Taquan Air:
The tracking of Silk Way Airlines and other flight activity in the Middle East is on-going.
L'opération " Timber Sycamore ", initiée par le président Barack Obama, a été privatisée peu avant l'élection du président Donald Trump. Elle est désormais coordonnée par le fonds de placement KKR (fondé par Henry Kravis et dont les activités militaires sont dirigées par l'ancien chef de la CIA, le général David Petraeus).
"Timber Sycamore" est le plus important trafic d'armes de l'Histoire. Il implique au moins 17 gouvernements. Les transferts à destination des organisations jihadistes sont opérés par la compagnie publique d'avions cargos azerbaïdjanais, Silk Way Airlines.
Dans la semaine du 27 novembre au 2 décembre 2018, huit avions cargos de cette compagnie ont atterris à Aden (Yémen), Erbil et Bagdad (Iraq), à Beyrouth (Liban), à Djibouti (Djibouti), à Kaboul et Bagram (Afghanistan) et à Tripoli (Libye). En outre, des navettes de personnels entre Djibouti et Aden ont été opérées par Taquan Air qui était jusqu'ici une petite compagnie US travaillant exclusivement pour des voyages d'affaires ou de tourisme en Alaska.
The decision by Qatar to abandon OPEC threatens to redefine the global energy market, especially in light of Saudi Arabia's growing difficulties and the growing influence of the Russian Federation in the OPEC+ mechanism.
In a surprising statement, Qatari energy minister Saad al-Kaabi warned OPEC on Monday December 3 that his country had sent all the necessary documentation to start the country's withdrawal from the oil organization in January 2019. Al-Kaabi stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recent conflicts with Riyadh but was rather a strategic choice by Doha to focus on the production of LNG, which Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, is one of the largest global exporters of. Despite an annual oil extraction rate of only 1.8% of the total of OPEC countries (about 600,000 barrels a day), Qatar is one of the founding members of the organization and has always had a strong political influence on the governance of the organization. In a global context where international relations are entering a multipolar phase, things like cooperation and development become fundamental; so it should not surprise that Doha has decide to abandon OPEC. OPEC is one of the few unipolar organizations that no longer has a meaningful purpose in 2018, given the new realities governing international relations and the importance of the Russian Federation in the oil market.
Besides that, Saudi Arabia requires the organization to maintain a high level of oil production due to pressure coming from Washington to achieve a very low cost per barrel of oil. The US energy strategy targets Iranian and Russian revenue from oil exports, but it also aims to give the US a speedy economic boost. Trump often talks about the price of oil falling as his personal victory. The US imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is why Trump wrongly believes that a decrease in the cost per barrel could favor a boost to the US economy. The economic reality shows a strong correlation between the price of oil and the financial growth of a country, with low prices of crude oil often synonymous of a slowing down in the economy.
It must be remembered that to keep oil prices low, OPEC countries are required to maintain a high rate of production, doubling the damage to themselves. Firstly, they take less income than expected and, secondly, they deplete their oil reserves to favor the strategy imposed by Saudi Arabia on OPEC to please the White House. It is clearly a strategy that for a country like Qatar (and perhaps Venezuela and Iran in the near future) makes little sense, given the diplomatic and commercial rupture with Riyadh stemming from tensions between the Gulf countries.
In contrast, the OPEC+ organization, which also includes other countries like the Russian Federation, Mexico and Kazakhstan, seems to now to determine oil and its cost per barrel. At the moment, OPEC and Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, contradicting Trump's desire for high oil output.
Almost 400 non-Syrian terrorists that had left Yemen's battlefields arrived in Idlib province in Northwestern Syria via the Turkish border in the last two months, a Russian media outlet reported on Wednesday.
The Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted well-informed sources as disclosing that almost 400 non-Syrian terrorists have arrived in Idlib through Turkey's Southern border with Syria in the last two months.
It further said that the terrorists that had arrived in the region from Yemen crossed the Turkish border into Syria's border towns of Sarmada and Atmah in Idlib in 8 and 15-member groups, adding that the terrorists' transfer from Yemen to Idlib was supervised by a regional state.
The report did not mention the name of the regional state that had assisted the move, but said that Horras al-Deen militants have settled the newcomers in one of their bases between Idlib and Northern Hama that had been set up 20 days ago.
The news agency said that Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) has eased transfer of the terrorists to regions under Horras al-Deen's control in Idlib.
Militant-affiliated sources reported last week that the Ankara-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) started preparing its gunmen to counter any possible attack by the Syrian Army troops in the Northern part of the country amid other terrorists' provocative measures in the demilitarized zone in Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and Lattakia provinces.
The sources disclosed that NLF Spokesman Naji Mustafa urged the group's fighters to be on alert to counter the army's possible operation in Northern Syria.
In the meantime, military sources said that that the army forwarded a large number of forces and military equipment from the newly-freed regions in Southern Syria to Jabal al-Turkmen and the Northern part of al-Ghaab Plain.
Also, more army units have left their bases in Southern Raqqa and Eastern Aleppo for contact lines with terrorists in Southern Aleppo, the sources said, adding that the army's Tiger Forces and the 5th Division that ended their mission in Sweida Desert have been forwarded to al-Ghaab Plain, Northern Hama and Abu al-Dhohour in Southeastern Idlib.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has survived a confidence motion in her leadership. The result of the vote was as follows: 200 to 117.
May needed to secure the votes of 159 MPs to survive (half of the total number of 315 Conservative MPs).
The outcome of the vote was expected as more than 170 Tory MPs earlier today indicted they would back their leader, according to BBC News.
The chairman of the Conservative Party’s backbench 1922 Committee Graham Brady confirmed this morning that at least 48 Tory MPs, the necessary threshold, had written to him calling for a vote on the motion.
It comes two days after May announced the deferral of a House of Commons vote on the draft Withdrawal Agreement struck between Britain and the European Union.
On Monday, May postponed the vote so that she could seek additional assurances from European leaders on the Irish backstop.
May told the House the current agreement “would be rejected by a significant margin” but stated: “I’m in absolutely no doubt that this deal is the right one.”
The backstop aims to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and could see the North stay aligned to some EU rules.
Reports from the UK have suggested that May will step down before any general election. She reportedly wants to oversee the Brexit deal being agreed before she resigns.
May has signalled she will step down before 2022 – when the next general election is due to take place, but an election is likely to happen before then.
Theresa May has survived the vote of no confidence against her.
The result, announced in the last couple of minutes, was 200 in her favour, to 117 against.
Theresa May survives a vote of confidence in her leadership (200 voted for, 117 voted against).
She needed to secure at least 159 votes from Conservative MPs - half the parliamentary party plus one - to remain as leader.
The proposed fuel levies – which Macron has since abandoned as a concession to the protesters – were rationalized as a necessity to raise fiscal funds to pay for “ecological changes” in French society. Macron has deftly presented himself internationally as a champion for combating climate change. Some political observers in the US on the so-called “liberal left” have welcomed Macron as a “counter-Trump” figure. He certainly talks with “eco-friendly” rhetoric, saying that he wants to “make the planet great again” (a dig at Trump), and that we need to take urgent action to avert climate change, because “there is no planet B”.
However, Macron’s apparent progressive ecological rhetoric belies a politician who is deeply conservative of the economic status quo. A status quo which has seen the impoverishment of more and more workers over decades while the very wealthy amass ever-more wealth. This is the social condition of all capitalist countries, not just France, but the French are doing something about it.
What Macron showed with his now-defunct fuel tax proposals was a patrician contempt for the majority of society. He intended to put the financial burden of ecological changes on the backs of ordinary workers, while at the same time giving the already wealthy a big fat windfall.
The former Rothschild’s investment banker is certainly no progressive – in spite of his pretentious rhetoric. If he really wanted to “make the planet great again” then Macron should be taxing the wealthy and corporations, not poor workers who have to drive hundreds of kilometers every day because they can’t afford to buy or rent houses in city areas. If Macron really did have progressive ideas, then his government could fund all workers to work a four-day week, on full pay, so that one day of non-commuting would save pollution.
There are countless progressive policies that could be innovated that would improve the lives of ordinary people while also moving society towards more ecologically sustainable existence. Macron is a plutocrat who wants to shaft ordinary people even more for the benefit of his rich-class cronies – all under the guise of “eco-friendliness”.
French protesters are right to see through Macron’s televisual “crumbs” of compensation. The injustice, dehumanization and criminal militarism of capitalism has gone too far to be mitigated by a minimum wage increase or some other sticking-plaster measure.
That’s why the French capital and other cities are set for even more upheaval in the weeks ahead. Significantly, too, the public in other European countries are being inspired by the French to likewise get out on the streets to demand their natural justice.
Ominously, Macron’s apparently soothing words were laced with dark threats of more state violence if protesters do not accept his “offers”. At one point in his TV address, the president, who recently praised the disgraced Vichy leader and Nazi collaborator Philippe Pétain, said of the protests: “When violence is unleashed, freedom ends.”
THE DEADLY SHOOTING IN STRASBOURG ON TUESDAY NIGHT, 24 HOURS AFTER MACRON’S SPEECH, HAS RAISED SUSPICIONS OF A DELIBERATE PROVOCATION BEING STAGED BY FRENCH SECURITY SERVICES IN ORDER TO MILITARIZE SOCIETY GENERALLY AND IMPEDE PLANNED PROTESTS IN THE CAPITAL THIS WEEKEND. THE GUNMAN WAS REPORTEDLY KNOWN TO FRENCH AUTHORITIES AS A NATIONAL SECURITY RISK. HIS HOME IN STRASBOURG WAS RAIDED HOURS BEFORE HIS ALLEGED GUN ATTACK, BUT THE SUSPECT EVADED CAPTURE. FOLLOWING THE SHOOTING IN WHICH THREE PEOPLE WERE KILLED FRANCE HAS INCREASED ITS NATIONAL EMERGENCY ALERT TO ITS HIGHEST LEVEL WHICH MEANS AUTHORITIES CAN DEPLOY MORE TROOPS ON STREETS, DECLARE LOCKDOWNS IN URBAN AREAS AND ARREST PEOPLE WITHOUT WARRANT.
The United States issued an arrest warrant against the chief financial officer and heir apparent of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou. At issue is a six years old alleged violation of sanctions against Iran. Mrs. Meng was arrested in Canada. She has been set free under a stringent $10 million bail agreement. An extradition trial will follow in February or March.
It is unprecedented that an officer of a large company is personally indicted for the alleged sanction violations by a subsidiary company:
The U.S. rarely arrests senior businesspeople, U.S. or foreign, for alleged crimes committed by their companies. Corporate managers are usually arrested for their alleged personal crimes (such as embezzlement, bribery or violence) rather than their company’s alleged malfeasance.
Meng is charged with violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Yet consider her arrest in the context of the large number of companies, U.S. and non-U.S., that have violated US sanctions against Iran and other countries. In 2011, for example, JPMorgan Chase paid US$88.3 million in fines for violating U.S. sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan. Yet chief executive officer Jamie Dimon wasn’t grabbed off a plane and whisked into custody.
The U.S. indicted dozens of banks for violating its sanction regime. They had to pay huge fines (pdf) but none of their officers were ever touched.
We called this U.S. operation a hostage taking to blackmail China. President Trump confirmed that this is indeed the case:
"U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters on Tuesday he would intervene in the U.S. Justice Department’s case against Meng if it would serve national security interests or help close a trade deal with China."
The arrest of Meng is but one part of a larger political campaign against China directed out of the office of National Security Advisor John Bolton:
The Trump administration is preparing actions this week to call out Beijing for what it says are China’s continued efforts to steal American trade secrets and advanced technologies and to compromise sensitive government and corporate computers, according to U.S. officials.
Multiple government agencies are expected to condemn China, citing a documented campaign of economic espionage and the alleged violation of a landmark 2015 pact to refrain from hacking for commercial gain.
In typical propaganda style the U.S. media depict the Chinese as enemies:
Taken together, the announcements represent a major broadside against China over its mounting aggression against the West and its attempts to displace the United States as the world’s leader in technology, officials said.
The actions come amid mounting intelligence showing a sustained Chinese hacking effort devoted to acquiring sophisticated American technologies of all stripes. A number of agencies — including the Justice, State, Treasury and Homeland Security departments — have pushed for a newly aggressive U.S. response. A National Security Council committee coordinated the actions.
One wonders what those "mounting aggressions" are supposed to be. Is the U.S. not constantly spying and hacking for economic for political gain?
Other reports today of alleged Chinese hacking are obviously part of the concerted anti-China campaign. As usual no evidence is presented for the vague allegations:
U.S. government investigators increasingly believe that Chinese state hackers were most likely responsible for the massive intrusion reported last month into Marriott’s Starwood chain hotel reservation system, a breach that exposed the private information and travel details of as many as 500 million people, according to two people briefed on the government investigation.
These people cautioned that the investigation has not been completed, so definitive conclusions cannot be drawn. But the sweep and tactics of the hack, which took place over four years before being discovered, prompted immediate speculation that it was carried out by a national government.
The new anti-China campaign follows a similar push of anti-Russian propaganda three month ago.
China has taken first countermeasures against Canada's hostage taking on behalf of the United States. It detained Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who now works for the International Crisis Group. Beijing suggest that the ICG is operating illegally in China:
“The relevant organization has violated Chinese laws because the relevant organization is not registered in China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing Wednesday.
China sharply tightened its rules on NGOs operating in the country last year, ..
This will not be the sole Chinese measure against Canada for its role in enforcing extraterritorial U.S. sanctions.
The string of U.S. accusations and measures against China are partly to protect the market share of U.S. companies against better and cheaper Chinese products and partly geopolitical. Neither has anything to do with protecting the international rule of law.
After three centuries of anglo-american imperialism the economic center of the world is moving back to the east.
The U.S. is way too late to prevent this move. Its best and most profitable chance is not to challenge, but to accommodate it. That again would require to respect international laws and treaty obligations. The U.S. is not willing to do either.
Nothing except a large scale war that results in the destruction of the industrial centers of east Asia, while keeping the U.S. and Europe save, could reverse the trend. Nuclear weapons on all sides and the principal of mutual assured destruction have made such a war unthinkable. What we are likely to see instead will be proxy conflicts in various other countries.
The current U.S. strategy is to restrict China's access to foreign markets, advanced technologies, global banking and higher education. While that may for a moment slow down China's rise it will in the long run strengthen China even more. Instead of integrating into the world economy it will develop its own capacities and international systems.
The U.S. can temporarily hinder the telecommunication equipment provider Huawei by denying it access to U.S. designed chips. It will probably do so. But that will only incentivize Huawei to start its own chip production. With a few years delay it will be back and out-compete U.S. companies with even better and cheaper products.
It is typical for the current U.S. to seek short term advantage while disregarding the long term negative effects of its doing. It is a major reason for China's rise and its future supremacy.
"The only thing that can save Julian Assange is jury nullification," says whistleblower John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee based in Virginia, in an exclusive talk to this reporter.
U.S. Justice Department is acting behind the scenes to have Assange extradicted from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, and prosecuted in the U.S. Criminal charges against WikiLeaks' founder were accidentally revealed in early November, when Assange's name was found on the court filing of an unrelated case, suggesting that prosecutors had copied a boilerplate text and forgotten to change the defendant's name.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, urging a judge to keep the matter sealed, wrote that "due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged." Later, Dwyer wrote the charges would "need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested."
It is much likely that the Australian journalist, who in March 2017 released an archive of documents detailing the C.I.A.'s hacking operations known as the Vault 7 leak, is being accused by American prosecutors of violating the 1917 Espionage Act.
The Engineer Joshua A. Schulte, 29, of New York, had been the main suspect of providing WikiLeaks the documents revealing the sensitive CIA cybertools, has been accused by prosecutors of repeatedly violating the Espionage Act.
"Technically, jury nullification is illegal. That's when a jury acquits, not because the defendant is innocent, but because the law itself is wrong. The Espionage Act is wrong. Julian Assange is a journalist. He should never have been charged with a crime, in the first place," says Kiriakou, the first U.S. official who dered to speak out, in December of 2007, against George Bush's torture program and remained 30 months in prison for that, from 2013 to 2015.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also calls the Espionage Act "a fundamentally unfair and unconstitutional law." Kiriakou says he has argued over the years that "the Espionage Act is so overly broad as to be unconstitutional, although it has not been challenged to the Supreme Court."
"A senior [C.I.A.] officer in the Counterterrorism Center asked me if I wanted to be 'trained in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.' (...) I declined. I said that I had a moral and ethical problem with torture and that - the judgment of the Justice Department notwithstanding - I thought it was illegal", reported Kiriakou last March to The Washington Post.
Author of three books and one of the protagonists of James Spione's documentary Silenced, in which John Kiriakou said that after his denouncements, "I realized they are investigating ME!?". John's and Assange's case have deep similarities not only for causing a reaction in their favor from people who represent a moral reserve, all over the world. "U.S. deeply flawed democracy", as Kiriakou told this reporter in October 2016, is once again acting against free speech and justice, pillars of a real democracy.
While Kiriakou's revelations - not sufficiently echoed by the mainstream media - have not changed anything in U.S. "policy", inside the country and abroad as the Washington regime continue committing heinous war crimes, crimes against humanity and against the U.S. Constitution itself - under the mainstream media's deafening silence -, the State criminals denounced by Assange intend to prosecute him: in the name of democracy and justice.
In his first public speech as C.I.A. director early last year, Mike Pompeo slammed WikiLeaks as a "non-state hostile intelligence service," adding that "we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. Use free speech values against us"? So the First Amendment of the American Constitution is only valid while not contradicting the local establishment interests. In the U.S., there is clearly a historical limit to "democracy".
Kiriakou predicts that the U.S. government will argue that Assange did exactly what the 1917 Espionage Act describes as espionage, that is, "[P]roviding national defense information to any person not entitled to receive it."
The American whistleblower observes that "the issue here is that it is highly unusual, unprecedented even for a foreign national - Assange is Australian - to be charged with espionage when he did not steal the information. Assange was simply provided the information, which he then made public." Kiriakou points out that Assange says that he was just a journalist doing his job: "No administration has ever charged a journalist with espionage for doing his job."
Jesselyn Radack, Director of the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program and one of Kiriakou's attorneys, wrote in a 2014 op-ed entitled Why Edward Snowden Wouldn't Get a Fair Trial: "First Amendment arguments have failed, largely because they would criminalize the journalism made possible by the 'leaks.' The motive and intent of the whistleblower are irrelevant. And there is no whistleblower defense, meaning the public value of the material disclosed does not matter at all."
Another serious obstacle that Assange would face is Judge Leonie Brinkema, according to the former C.I.A. agent. Brinkema handled his case, as well as C.I.A. whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling's, and has also reserved the Edward Snowden case for herself. "Brinkema is a hanging judge," regrets Kiriakou.
"Brinkema gave me literally no chance to defend myself. At one point, while approaching trial, my attorneys filed 70 motions, asking that 70 classified documents be declassified so that I could use them to defend myself. I had no defense without them. We blocked off three days for the hearings. When we got to the courtroom, Brinkema said, 'Let me save everybody a lot of time. I'm going to deny all 70 of these motions. You don't need any of this information to be declassified.' The entire process took a minute. On the way out of the courtroom, I asked my lead attorney what had just happened. 'We just lost the case. That's what happened. Now we talk about a plea.'
He describes the sad end of that court, when Judge Brinkema told him to rise pointing her finger at him, and saying, "Mr. Kiriakou, I hate this plea. If I could, I would give you ten years." John Kiriakou labels her comments as "inappropriate, but that's Brinkema. That's who she is."
Declared War against Humanity
Barry J. Pollack, one of Assange's attorneys, said when the name of WikiLeaks' founder was found on the court filing of an unrelated case: "The government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a dangerous path for a democracy to take. The only thing more irresponsible than charging a person for publishing truthful information would be to put in a public filing information that clearly was not intended for the public and without any notice to Mr. Assange. Obviously, I have no idea if he has actually been charged or for what, but the notion that the federal criminal charges could be brought based on the publication of truthful information is an incredibly dangerous precedent to set."
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said prosecuting Assange is a "priority" for him. There are some in the West fully convinced that Assange deserves to be tried, and thrown in jail for "threatening" US national security and "undermining" its so-called democratic processes - the system Assange himself, in a bitter irony, has proven to be a total lie. Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden have called him a "terrorist", as Assange's job, delivering information of a high public interest, is a revolutionary antidote against fake news and dark politics, which is served by the people rather than serving the people.
All this, while the bitter truth Julian Assange has brought to light is a clear message that the so-called west democracy must be turned into a radical transparency process. WikiLeaks lets no doubt, Vault 7 is the last example, that intelligence services all over the world, starting by the terrorist C.I.A., must be stopped as wished President John Kennedy, as a non-democratic tool to preserve the power of a minority.
According to US lawyer and civil liberties advocate Ben Wizner at the American Civil Liberties Union: "Any prosecution of Mr. Assange for WikiLeaks' publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations".
The mainstream media must be blamed by an Assange condemnation and by this total distortion of scenarios as it not only has never pressured these criminals of the Washington regime to break into smartphones, computers and internet-connected televisions anywhere in the world, and even to make it look like those hacks were done by another intelligence service. Also, the mainstream media never deeply covered Assange's information in general, never gave WikiLeaks the seriousness it is worthy.
So who judges the CIA? Who protects people from being hacked? Another bitter irony is that a likely Assange condemnation will endanger the very foundations of the free press, the press, especially the Western media which claims to be free but never gave Assange the attention his job deserves - as the media inaction speaks about itself, he also has proved through documents all these years, that the corporate media is not free, at all.
The arrest of Chinese telecommunications CFO Meng Wanzhou has sent shockwaves through the global markets. The context of the smartphone industry and the challenges facing big monopolies from Russia and China is vital background information for anyone who wants to understand these recent, dramatic events.
One of the favorite talking points of defenders of free markets is “capitalism made your iphone.” According to the meme, those who believe in socialism or Marxism are presented as total hypocrites if they own smartphone as only the profit system’s rewarding of entrepreneurship could ever produce such a technological creation.
However, a little investigation reveals that the entire premise of the meme is false. The first cellphone was created by Leonid Ivanovich Kupriyanovich, a Moscow-based engineer in 1955 who conducted his research in state-run facilities. Furthermore, the screens of most smartphones are illuminated by Light Emitting Diodes (LED), the first of which was invented in 1927 by Oleg Vladimirovich Losev. Losev was also a Russian who conducted his research in state sponsored facilities.
The computer revolution itself can largely be attributed to the work of Alan Turing and his decoding machine created during the Second World War. This research was done in the context of heavy military control over industry, when Britain was aligned with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, hardly a free market situation.
Cell-phones are simply not the product of some objectivist fantasy about a misunderstood “great man” tinkering in his garage unabated and untaxed. Cell phones, LED lights, and the Computer Revolution itself came about as a result of central planning, and the overall mobilization of society by the state to reach technological and production goals.
Today, the largest cell phone manufacturer on earth is Huawei Technologies based in the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen. This huge manufacturer of smartphones that are purchased and celebrated all over the world, is closely tied to the Chinese government and military.
The Chief Financial Officer of Huawei was recently arrested in Canada at the request of US officials. Meng now faces extradition to the United States. Charges have not formally been named, but it is widely speculated that it is related to accusations that Huawei has violated US sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
It is perhaps a strange coincidence that just as Huawei’s CFO has been arrested, Yandex, the Russian internet corporation has announced that it is producing a smartphone of its own. On December 5th, the world became aware that soon a “Yandex Phone” produced by the government subsidized tech entity will be available for purchase. Yandex has also recently gotten in on the ride hailing and other high tech endeavors.
Even the deeply impoverished nation of Angola, led by the Socialist MPLA, was able to create its own independent cell phone company. Isabel Dos Santos utilized revenue from the state controlled oil corporation, and assistance from the People’s Republic of China, to create and expand a corporation called Unitel. Santos push for the creation other independent telecommunications apparatus in southern Africa and in Portuguese speaking countries.
Prior to the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the F.B.I. urged Americans not to buy Chinese smartphones. The reason given was the corporation’s ties to the Chinese government, and fears that information could be compromised.
However, it is widely known thanks to the revelations of Edward Snowden, that the National Security Agency of the United States has a close relationship with many American cellular and tech companies. Google, Facebook, Apple, and other high tech companies have routinely cooperated with federal officials, and the individuals whose information is being subpoenaed or requested from the tech giants is often never informed that their privacy has been violated.
In the context of a rising challenge to the western smartphone monopolies by independent manufacturers around the world, one must find it suspicious that Federal Officials in the USA have suddenly become concerned about the privacy of American citizens, and alleged sanctions violations by China’s telecommunications giant.
One must wonder if underneath the hysteria, there is a desperate attempt to preserve a western semi-monopoly that is quickly slipping away.
As carmakers wrestle for the emerging electric car market, a German company sealed a key deal to mine a massive lithium deposit under a salt flat in Bolivia. The metal is crucial for making car battery cells.
Lithium deposits hidden below Bolivia's Uyuni salt flat are believed to be the largest in the world. On Wednesday, Germany's privately owned ACI Systems agreed to a partnership with Bolivian state company YLB to exploit the element.
Lithium is a key component in producing battery cells for electric cars, and a steady supply of the metal would allow German carmakers to boost their production.
"Germany should become a leading location for battery cell production," German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said.
Securing access to lithium would help "avoid falling behind and slipping into dependency," he added.
The price of a ton of lithium has more than doubled in the last two years to top $13,000 (€11,400) per ton, prompting some experts to dub it "white gold." Asian countries control 88 percent of the world's production of lithium-ion batteries, with China alone claiming over 50 percent, according to 2014 data.
However, accessing lithium deposits in Bolivia and other South American countries could allow Germany to curb its reliance on Asian partners. Last months, Altmeier announced that Berlin would set aside a billion euros ($1.14 billion) to support EU's battery production.
The new deal would see the German and Bolivian companies build a lithium-hydroxide plant and a factory for electric vehicle batteries in Bolivia. By 2022, the facilities would deliver between 30,000 and 40,000 tons of lithium-hydroxide per year, which is enough to supply lithium batteries to some 800,000 cars annually. Around 85 percent of lithium extracted from Bolivia should be delivered to Germany.
The companies pledged to invest between €300 million and €400 million for the project's initial stages.
However, some environmentalists are concerned over the impact of lithium mining on the Uyuni salt flat, which is a popular tourist destination. YLB's chief Juan Carlos Montenegro says that only 0.4 percent of the site would be affected, amounting to some 40 square kilometers or 15.4 square miles.
Conte vede Juncker e propone di ridurre il costo delle misure in manovra per evitare l'infrazione. L'U.E.: "Buoni progressi"
Alla fine il governo sembra aver ceduto - almeno in parte - alle pressioni dell'Europa: la manovra cambia, i saldi scendono e il deficit previsto per il 2019 cala dello 0,36%, passando dal 2,4% al 2,04% del PIL.
Lo ha annunciato Giuseppe Conte dopo l'incontro con Jean-Claude Juncker, il secondo focalizzato sulla legge di Bilancio italiana dopo la cena del 24 novembre scorso. "Abbiamo anticipato la nostra proposta a Bruxelles sulla manovra", ha detto il premier italiano, "Abbiamo illustrato il nostro piano. Non tradiamo affatto la fiducia degli italiani. Rispettiamo gli impegni presi. Rispettiamo sia la platea che gli importi delle misure sul reddito di cittadinanza e su quota cento. Il saldo finale che abbiamo proposto è il 2,04%. Abbiamo messo sul tavolo una proposta seria. Confidiamo che questo negoziato possa concludersi in modo positivo. La maggioranza è compatta".
Al vertice hanno partecipato anche il ministro dell'Economia Giovanni Tria, il vicepresidente della Commissione Ue, Valdis Dombrovskis, e il commissario europeo agli Affari economici e finanziari, Pierre Moscovici. "Buoni progressi sono stati fatti", ha sottolineato un portavoce europeo, "La Commissione europea valuterà ora le proposte ricevute questo pomeriggio: i lavori continueranno nei prossimi giorni. La novità positiva è che c'è la volontà di trovare una soluzione".
"Abbiamo aggiunto qualcosa sul piano delle dismissioni", ha spiegato il premier italiano, assicurando che quota 100 e reddito di cittadinanza restano: "Partiranno nei tempi previsti", ha sottolineato, "Le misure entreranno in vigore come preannunciato sia per quanto riguarda gli importi e la platea. Non rinunciamo a nulla. Vedrete che la crescita sarà superiore alle nostre stime. Sono molto ambizioso, io sto lavorando per impedire la procedura di infrazione. Il dialogo è molto positivo".
In ogni caso la trattativa è tutt'altro che conclusa. Questa sera Conte riunisce i vicepremier Matteo Salvini e Luigi Di Maio a Palazzo Chigi per riferire sul colloquio con Juncker. E domani Giovanni Tria sarà di nuovo a Bruxelles per cercare un'intesa che eviti l'apertura di una procedura per deficit eccessivo nei confronti dell'Italia.
The U.S. House of Representatives is once again calling on the European Union to ban the Russia-led construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline and has called for sanctions against the project.
The resolution was passed by the Republican-led Congress during Monday's session. Echoing US President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against the construction of the undersea pipeline, the lawmakers called it “a drastic step backward for European energy security and United States interests.” The House now wants the US president to step in and even impose economic penalties under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
Moscow has repeatedly stressed that all Washington’s attempts to hamper the project are simply driven by economic reasons and are a shining example of unfair competition. Reacting to the latest House motion, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there is nothing new in this “unacceptable” position. He added that the project is purely economic and serves not only Russia’s interests as a gas supplier, but Germany as an EU member-country and its consumers in the first place.
Also on rt.com ‘Germany can’t accept being treated like an occupied country’ – Former Chancellor Schroeder
The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline is set to deliver Russian natural gas to European consumers. The pipeline is set to run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea and is expected to double the existing pipeline’s capacity to 110 billion cubic meters. The pipeline, controlled by a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, is being built in cooperation with German energy firms Wintershall and Uniper, French multinational Engie, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Austria’s OMV.
Europe seems to be reluctant to ditch the project despite US pressure and criticism. On Monday, Austria's OMV energy group CEO Rayner Zele stated that the company is set to continue financing the pipeline next year. OMV has already invested some 531 million euros ($607 million) into the project, Zele told Ria Novosti.
In early December, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said that Berlin’s abandoning the project would not make sense as Russia will still go on with it. Germany earlier rebuked Trump’s criticism of the project after the US leader accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Moscow citing Germany’s alleged dependency on natural gas from Russia.
For decades, Serbian investigators and a few Western officials including ex-Hague Tribunal prosecutor Carla del Ponte have accused Kosovar Albanian officials of presiding over a gruesome campaign to harvest the organs of Serbian POWs. Now, for the first time, Sputnik has been shown excerpts from a UN report investigating the matter.
Milovan Drecun, chairman of Serbia's parliamentary committee on Kosovo-Metohija, has shown Sputnik Serbia never-before-seen papers from a 2004 UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) report on the so-called 'Yellow house' in northern Albania, a site alleged to have been at the heart of the illegal organ harvesting operation run by Albanian Kosovar mafias between 1998 and 2001. A copy of this report was obtained by a Serbian parliamentary working group collecting evidence of alleged war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army against the Serbian people.
The report, inconspicuously titled "Forensic Examination and Assessment in Albania," details, in dry, bureaucratic language, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia's request that the Office on Missing Persons and Forensics in Kosovo conduct an inspection of Yellow house and follow up on testimony based on eyewitness testimony that people were killed in the building and buried nearby after having their organs harvested.
"According to several witnesses, people should have been killed in a house outside Burrel in Albania and allegedly been buried in a cemetery in the same area," the report, written by UNMIK forensic investigators Hroar Fryenlund and Tom Grange noted. Investigators conducted examinations in the area between February 4 and 5, 2004.
Fryenlund and Grange's conclusion reads as follows: "Based on our examinations, in our opinion there was no conclusive evidence that persons have been bleeding as a result of criminal acts in the house south west of Burrel in Albania. However, there were reactions with Luminol as for blood in the kitchen and in the storage room (room #5
More significantly, the report includes a detailed description and photographs of the house's rooms, as well as the territory surrounding the property, as well as the instruments and tools used in the probe, showing what look like obvious bloodstains in the wood floors in one of the rooms, as well as odd land formations around the house.
Speaking to Sputnik, Drecun explained that the Special Prosecution Office for Kosovo Liberation Army Crimes, created in 2017 after the dissolution of the Hague Tribunal, can use this report as part of a broader investigation on the suspected illegal trafficking in human organs which Serbian investigators have accused senior KLA officials of engaging in for decades.
Alongside the 2004 UNMIK, Drecun referenced a second report with more information on Yellow house. "This report is dated October 2003, and documents a meeting between the chief of the investigative department of the Hague Tribunal and Eamon Smith, the head of the UNMIK's Justice Department, mentioning eight Albanian eyewitnesses with information about human organ trafficking."
"Four of them are said to have participated in organ transplants on at least 90 Serbs and members of other nationalities in prisons in northern and central Albania. Another three brought prisoners to a clinic. Two others are said to have taken part in transporting body parts and organs to Rinas airport near Tirana. The entire logistical and surgery operation was carried out with the full knowledge and support of mid-level and senior officials of the Kosovo Liberation Army, as well as the Albanian Secret police, then under the control of ex-premier Sali Ram Berisha," Drecun explained.
In 2008, former ICTY prosecutor Carla Del Ponte released a book alleging that members of the KLA including former KLA leader Hashim Thaci, who would become Kosovo's president in 2016, was directly involved in the KLA's illegal organ trade activities, with the group accused of harvesting the organs of mostly Serbian prisoners of war at detention centers in Albania. Del Ponte estimates that about 300 Serbs and other non-Albanians had their organs harvested and sold to hospitals across Europe.
Speaking to Sputnik about the UNMIK investigation document, Zoran Stankovic, a medical doctor who served as a witness at many trials at the Hague, including as a defence witness for former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, said that it is now essential to carry out an expert assessment of the report to establish whether it can be used by international institutions to initiate criminal proceedings against known or unknown persons.
May rules out leading Tories into 2022 general election
Piecing together the various accounts of what Theresa May told the 1922 Committee, it is now becoming clear what she said. But it has taken a while. ("Typical May," a colleague says. "She tries to deliver a message, but no one can agree what she said.")
May told MPs clearly that she would not fight the general election in 2022. Because she has repeatedly ruled out calling a snap general election, in her mind this is the next general election.
As for what might happen if there were an election before 2022, on that she was non-committal. An MP in the room said she made the point that she would then be asked to commit to standing down in 2021, or in 2020, or even next year.
So, if there were to be an early election, it is possible she could still seek to lead her party into it.
But the commitment to go before a 2022 election did make an impact, the MP said. "It was much more clear than the briefing you guys were given earlier," he said. "It did make a difference."
Evelyn Berezin, a computer pioneer who emancipated many a frazzled secretary from the shackles of the typewriter nearly a half-century ago by building and marketing the first computerized word processor, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 93.
In an age when computers were in their infancy and few women were involved in their development, Ms. Berezin not only designed the first true word processor; in 1969, she was also a founder and the president of the Redactron Corporation, a tech start-up on Long Island that was the first company exclusively engaged in manufacturing and selling the revolutionary machines.
To secretaries, who constituted 6 percent of the American work force then, Redactron word processors arrived in an office like a trunk of magic tricks, liberating users from the tyranny of having to retype pages marred by bad keystrokes and the monotony of copying pages for wider distribution. The machines were bulky, slow and noisy, but they could edit, delete, and cut and paste text.
Modern word processors, which appear as programs on computers, long ago simplified the tasks of authors, journalists and other writers — sometimes after misgivings over the risk of surrendering to a future of dystopian technology — but became so efficient in offices that they killed off the need for most of the old-fashioned secretarial skills Ms. Berezin was trying to enhance.
Ms. Berezin called her computer the Data Secretary. It was 40 inches high, the size of a small refrigerator, and had no screen for words to trickle across. Its keyboard and printer was an I.B.M. Selectric Typewriter with a rattling print head the size of a golf ball. The device had 13 semiconductor chips, some of which Ms. Berezin designed, and programmable logic to drive its word-processing functions.
Later versions of Redactron word processors came with monitor screens for text, separate printers, greater memory caches, smaller consoles, faster processing speeds and more programmed features to smooth the writing and editing tasks.
With law firms and corporate offices as its main clients, Redactron sold some 10,000 machines for $8,000 each before running into financial problems after seven years of independent operation. The company was sold in 1976 to the Burroughs Corporation, and Ms. Berezin joined the parent company as president of its Redactron division, a post she held until 1980. She then went on to careers in venture capital and consulting.
Ms. Berezin's Data Secretary did one thing: it processed words. At first it served as a godsend to human secretaries, but its more sophisticated successors helped eliminate their jobs.
Even in her Redactron heyday, Ms. Berezin was hardly alone in the word processing business. Her chief competitor, International Business Machines, made devices that relied on electronic relays and tapes, not semiconductor chips. I.B.M. soon caught up technologically and swamped the market in the 1970s and ′80s, pursued by a herd of brands like Osborne, Wang, Tandy and Kaypro.
But for a few years after Redactron started shipping its computerized word processors in September 1971, Ms. Berezin was a lioness of the young tech industry, featured in magazine and news articles as an adventurous do-it-herself polymath with the logical mind of an engineer, the curiosity of an inventor and the entrepreneurial skills of a C.E.O.
In a 1972 profile in The New York Times, the business writer Leonard Sloane wrote: "Miss Berezin, a serious, soft-spoken individual, nevertheless talks at times like a systems engineer (which she is), a sales executive (which she is) and a proponent of a sophisticated product (which she is). She is also obviously a woman on the senior level of a field where her sex are still a rarity at any level."
Early in her career, Ms. Berezin designed numerous single-purpose computer systems. They calculated the firing ranges of big guns, controlled the distribution of magazines, kept accounts for corporations and automated banking transactions. She also claimed credit for the world's first computerized airline reservations system.
"Why is this woman not famous?" the British writer and entrepreneur Gwyn Headley asked in a 2010 blog post.
"Without Ms. Berezin", he added enthusiastically, "there would be no Bill Gates, no Steve Jobs, no internet, no word processors, no spreadsheets; nothing that remotely connects business with the 21st century".
EVELYN BEREZIN WAS BORN IN THE BRONX ON APRIL 12, 1925, TO SAM AND ROSE (BERMAN) BEREZIN, JEWISH IMMIGRANTS FROM RUSSIA. HER FATHER WAS A FURRIER, HER MOTHER A SEAMSTRESS. EVELYN AND HER BROTHERS, SIDNEY AND NELSON, GREW UP IN AN APARTMENT UNDER ELEVATED TRACKS IN THE EAST BRONX. IN HER BEDROOM, SHE READ SCIENCE FICTION IN ASTOUNDING STORIES MAGAZINE AS SUBWAY TRAINS ROARED PAST ENDLESSLY.
A precocious student at public elementary and junior high schools, she graduated at 15 from Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. She attended night classes at Hunter College, which was all women at the time, and at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where she transferred from Hunter under a World War II City University program that permitted the admission of women to an all-male school for the study of calculus and other specialized subjects. She earned a degree in physics at New York University in 1946 and completed coursework for a doctorate in physics at N.Y.U., but left in 1950 before finishing her doctoral experiments.
The woman who created and sold what many recognise as the world's first word processor has died aged 93.
Evelyn Berezin called the device the Data Secretary when, in 1971, her company Redactron launched the product.
She grew Redactron from nine employees to close to 500 and was named one of the U.S.'s top leaders by BusinessWeek magazine in the year she sold it, 1976.
She had earlier built one of the original computerised airline reservation systems.
The innovation - which matched customers and available seats - was tested by United Airlines in 1962.
According to the Computer History Museum, it had a one-second response time and worked for 11 years without any central system failures.
The technology vied with the rival Sabre system, developed by American Airlines, for being the first of its kind.
In addition, Ms Berezin helped pioneer other types of special-purpose computing including:
- an automated banking system
- a weapons-targeting calculator for the US Defense Department
- terminals for a horse-racing track that monitored how much money was being bet on each animal
In an interview in 2015, Ms Berezin explained that she had decided to set up her own business in the mid-60s after coming to the conclusion that her prospects were limited so long as she was employed by someone else.
She said that she had initially considered developing an electronic cash register but ultimately opted to create what would become known as a word processor instead.
She said: "6% of all the people in the United States who worked were secretaries.
"At the time we started, which was in 1968 to 1969, nobody really had any desk-type computers on which you could write a word-processing program that a secretary would use.
"I know that desktop computers seem obvious now but it wasn't so then."
At the time, the nearest equivalent was a machine by IBM called the MT/ST - a typewriter with magnetic tape recording and playback facilities.
IBM's marketing referred to a "word processor", but the machine relied on relay switches rather than computer chips, had been targeted at military equipment makers rather than the wider business market, and in Ms Berezin's mind was "klutzy".
"We were committed to building a computer to run our system and we knew that we had to use integrated circuits because it was the only way we could make it small enough and cheap enough and reliable enough to sell," Ms Berezin said.
Her machine - which stood about 1m (3ft 3in) tall - featured a keyboard, cassette drives, control electronics and a printer. It could record and play back what the user had typed, allowing it to be edited or reprinted. The original model lacked a monitor, and soon faced competition from a rival, the Lexitron, which did. But later versions of the Data Secretary did include a screen.
The project nearly ended in disaster.
MS BEREZIN HAD INTENDED TO BUY THE PROCESSORS REQUIRED FROM INTEL, WHICH HAD GONE INTO BUSINESS IN 1968. BUT IT SAID IT WAS TOO BUSY DEALING WITH ORDERS FOR ITS MEMORY CHIPS. THE SOLUTION WAS THAT REDACTRON HAD TO DESIGN SOME OF THE CHIPS REQUIRED ITSELF AND PROVIDE THE SCHEMATICS TO TWO MANUFACTURERS.
THERE WERE FURTHER PROBLEMS WITH A PROTOTYPE WHEN IT WAS PUT ON DISPLAY IN A NEW YORK HOTEL FOR REPORTERS TO SEE. THE ISSUE WAS THAT IN DRY WEATHER, IT WAS PRONE TO A BUILD-UP OF STATIC ELECTRICITY, WHICH CAUSED SPARKS TO FLY BETWEEN ITS CIRCUITS, PREVENTING IT FROM WORKING. "TO OUR HORROR IT WAS A DRY DAY AND THE ENGINEERS WERE SETTING THIS NON-WORKING MACHINE UP FOR OUR BIG STORY," MS BEREZIN SAID. "ED WOLF, OUR HEAD OF ENGINEERING, BROUGHT A FULL PAIL OF WATER AND WITHOUT A WORD TO ANYONE THROWS THE PAIL OF WATER OVER THE WHOLE THICK CARPET IN THE ROOM. THE WATER SANK INTO THE CARPET, WHICH STAYED DAMP FOR THREE OR FOUR HOURS, AND THE MACHINE WORKED PERFECTLY."
General Sir Nick Carter warned Russia, China, Iran and sadistic terrorist organisations like ISIS are a colossal threat towards the UK. He said Britain's security, stability and prosperity are being challenged by the "ambitious" superstates. He admitted, "the multilateral system that has assured our stability since 1945 is threatened" and mass migration was "arguably an existential threat to Europe".
Mr Carter said, in his first lecture as Chief of the Defence Staff at the Royal United Services Institute, that Russia and China had "studied our strengths and invested carefully in new methods and capabilities that are designed to exploit weaknesses".
These included ballistic and cruise missiles, low-yield nuclear weapons, cyberweapons, space and counter space weapons, and electronic warfare.
The UK must now shift away from our peacetime mentality and embrace the innovation to stop these threats to our national security.
He said the UK needs to take risks and experiment with new technologies.
Author, historian, former State Department official-turned sharp critic of Washington's destructive imperial agenda William Blum passed away on December 9 at age 85.
In failing health for some time, his condition deteriorated markedly after a serious fall at home, passing away two months later.
I'm personally indebted to Blum. His books and other writings inspired my own, notably his book titled "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower".
IT DOCUMENTED WASHINGTON'S IMPERIAL AGENDA FROM 1945 – 2005, EXPLAINING HOW THE U.S. TRIED OR SUCCEEDED IN TOPPLING OVER 40 GOVERNMENTS WORLDWIDE.
IT CRUSHED DOZENS OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS, SLAUGHTERING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE POST-9/11 ALONE, ALONG WITH POURING COUNTLESS TRILLIONS DOWN A BLACK HOLE OF WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE AT THE EXPENSE OF VITAL HOMELAND NEEDS GONE BEGGING, ERODING SOCIAL JUSTICE, TARGETED FOR ELIMINATION ALTOGETHER.
THE U.S. INTERFERES IN THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS OF VIRTUALLY ALL OTHER COUNTRIES, INCLUDING THEIR ELECTIONS, WANTING THEIR RULING AUTHORITIES BOWING TO ITS WILL, INDEPENDENT ONES TARGETED FOR REGIME CHANGE BY COLOR REVOLUTIONS, OLD-FASHIONED COUPS, OR IMPERIAL WARS.
Blum's documentation showed U.S. policies are "worse than you imagine," stressing:
"If you flip over the rock of American foreign policy (throughout) the past century, this is what crawls out: invasions, bombings, (subversion), overthrowing governments, suppressing (popular) movements for social change, assassinating political leaders, perverting elections, manipulating labor unions, manufacturing 'news,' death squads, torture, (chemical), biological (and nuclear) warfare, (radiological contamination), drug trafficking, mercenaries", police state repression, and endless wars on humanity.
That's what imperialism is all about. Blum stressed it's not a pretty picture – "enough to give imperialism a bad name".
MILLIONS OF CORPSES ATTEST TO AMERICA'S BARBARITY, A ROGUE STATE LIKE NO OTHERS IN WORLD HISTORY, OPERATING GLOBALLY, WILLING TO RISK DESTROYING PLANET EARTH TO OWN IT, THE HUMAN COST OF ITS WARS AND OTHER HARSHNESS OF NO CONSEQUENCE.
Blum called democracy "America's deadliest export," the way it should be abhorrent in the US and other Western countries.
Post-WW II, Washington's monstrous "war machine has been on auto pilot". Blum explained, documenting disturbing truths about the U.S. in his books, Anti-Empire Report, and other writings.
U.S. REGIMES TARGETED, AND CONTINUE TARGETING, POPULIST OR NATIONALIST MOVEMENTS IN NUMEROUS COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE FOR ELIMINATION, WANTING PRO-WESTERN PUPPET REGIMES REPLACING THEM.
Washington tried influencing presidential elections scores of times post-WW II – post-9/11 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Honduras, Paraguay, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, and elsewhere.
The above interventionism excludes military coups and other regime change efforts in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Honduras, Nicaragua, and numerous other countries. Blum documented disturbing truths about America's post-WW II history.
IN 1967, HE LEFT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OVER U.S. AGGRESSION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA, MASSACRING MILLIONS TO ADVANCE ITS IMPERIUM – AN AGENDA BEGUN IN THE MID-19TH CENTURY, ACCELERATED POST-WW II, ENDLESS WARS WAGED FROM THEN TO NOW AGAINST NATIONS THREATENING NO ONE, COUNTLESS MILLIONS SLAUGHTERED, THE HUMAN TOLL OF NO CONSEQUENCE.
Blum co-founded and edited the "Washington Free Press", the first alternative newspaper in the nation's capital, he explained.
His journalism was the way it's supposed to be, truth-telling on major domestic and geopolitical issues prioritized – polar opposite how major Western and most other world media operate.
In the mid-1970s, he worked with former C.I.A. official Philip Agee and his associates, exposing C.I.A. high crimes since its 1947 founding.
His books, translated into over 15 languages, include "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy – The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else" (2013), "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower" (updated edition 2005), "West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir" (2002), and "Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire" (2004).
They explain the dark side of U,S, history not taught in U.S. or other Western institutions of higher learning except by professors like James Petras, John McMurtry, Francis Boyle, Michel Chossudovsky, Edward Said, Edward Herman, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, John Kozy, Michael Mandel, and other distinguished academics like them.
Like Blum, they inspired my writing and activism, my passion for truth-telling, my opposition to Washington's imperial agenda and neoliberal harshness, my aspiration for a world safe and fit to live in.
Blum will be sorely missed. He and other distinguished figures I cherish as colleagues and valued friends inspired me and countless others to work for the kind of world we envision – moral, righteous, free, just, and egalitarian at peace.
ALL POLITICIANS LIE, CHEAT AND DECEIVE IN DEFERENCE TO SPECIAL INTERESTS THEY SERVE. IGNORE WHAT POLITICIANS SAY. FOLLOW ONLY WHAT THEY DO. THEIR POLICIES SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. MACRON IS A FORMER ROTHSCHILD BANKER/ECONOMY MINISTER BEHOLDEN TO MONIED INTERESTS. HIS MONDAY ADDRESS LEFT HIS ANTI-POPULIST AGENDA UNCHANGED.
HE'S WELL AWARE OF MAYER AMSCHEL ROTHSCHILD ONCE EXPLAINING THAT NATIONS ARE DOMINATED BY CONTROLLING THEIR MONEY, THE KEY TOOL IN BENEFITTING PRIVILEGED INTERESTS AT THE EXPENSE OF ORDINARY PEOPLE.
IT'S THE SUPREME POWER ABOVE ALL OTHERS. THE FED, BANK OF ENGLAND, BANK OF JAPAN, THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK, AND CENTRAL BANK TO MEMBER CENTRAL BANKS BANK OF INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS (BIS) HAVE ENORMOUS POWERS FAR GREATER THAN MOST PEOPLE IMAGINE.
They operate like the shadowy world of Mafia dons, ruling the world by controlling money, Macron and other world leaders like him beholden to what benefits monied interests at the expense of the general welfare.
That's what weeks of Yellow Vest rage in France is all about. State-sponsored neoliberal harshness-enforced social injustice is the root cause of what's going on.
Unacceptably high fuel taxes are symbolic of the overriding issue. French activists want Liberté, Égalité, and Fraternité for real, not woefully inadequate gestures, what Macron presented in his Monday nationwide address.
National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen called his Monday address little more than a "strategic retreat", adding:
HE "REFUSES TO ADMIT THAT HIS (NEOLIBERAL) MANAGEMENT MODEL IS BEING CHALLENGED. THIS MODEL REPRESENTS EXCESSIVE GLOBALIZATION, UNFAIR COMPETITION, (AND UNFAIR) FREE TRADE" – FAILING TO ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSE OF PROTESTS.
He likely failed to assuage widespread public anger and opposition to exploitive rule. Declaring a "social and economic state of emergency" was followed by woefully inadequate promises, unacceptable crumbs.
Opposition politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon called for “Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country,” urging “great mobilization” for social justice Macron’s regime rejects.
His too little too late announced minimum wage increase, along with tax cuts for pensioners and overtime workers, won’t likely quell public anger.
SINCE TAKING OFFICE IN MAY 2017, HE WAGED WAR ON LABOR. HIS POPULARITY PLUNGED FROM A 62% HIGH TO 23% OVER HUGELY UNPOPULAR SOCIAL SPENDING CUTS, ALONG WITH EMPOWERING BUSINESS TO NEGOTIATE HOURS, PAY AND BENEFITS, SLASH THE NUMBER OF WORKER COMMITTEES, AND LIMIT PENALTIES FOR WRONGFUL DISMISSALS – WITHOUT UNION INVOLVEMENT.
MELENCHON EARLIER CALLED HIS SO-CALLED LABOR REFORM A “SOCIAL WELFARE COUP D’ETAT.” BUSINESS LEADERS LOVE IT, WANTING THE ABILITY TO EXPLOIT WORKERS FREELY.
MACRON PARTLY CIRCUMVENTED PARLIAMENT THROUGH EXECUTIVE ORDER POLICYMAKING. IN AMERICA, BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES, ORDINARY PEOPLE ARE EXPLOITED SO PRIVILEGED ONES CAN BENEFIT.
HUBRIS, ARROGANCE, AND DISMISSIVENESS TOWARD ORDINARY FRENCH PEOPLE DEFINE MACRON’S AGENDA, PARTNERING WITH WASHINGTON’S IMPERIAL AGENDA, WAGING ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL, PROPAGANDA, AND HOT WAR ON HUMANITY.
LAST MAY, HE ORDERED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CIVIL SERVICE WORKER CUTS, BENEFITS FOR FRENCH RAILWAY WORKERS SLASHED, UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS POLICIES RESTRUCTURED, MASS TEACHER LAYOFFS, AND TAX CUTS FOR BUSINESS – SIMILAR TO THE WEALTH TRANSFERENCE SCHEME IN AMERICA AND ELSEWHERE IN THE WEST.
Despite Western claims that the armed invasion against the legitimate and secular Syrian government was organic native to Syria, the facts have repeatedly proven just the opposite. For instance, it has long been known that, from day one, armed groups had been organized, trained, armed, and directed by the intelligence services of Western countries.
One such revelation was made in 2012 when emails from the "global intelligence" company Stratfor were procured and subsequently released by WikiLeaks which revealed that Western intelligence agents were on the ground in Syria training armed jihadists for sectarian and destabilization purposes long before it was actually admitted by the respective governments.
The emails recovered by WikiLeaks span a period between July, 2004 and December, 2011.
NOTICE NOT ONLY THE ADMISSION THAT WESTERN SPECIAL OPS FORCES WERE ALREADY ON THE GROUND TRAINING ARMED GROUPS AND PROVIDING THEM WITH INTEL, BUT THAT THEY WERE DOING SO WITH THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF "BREAK THE BACK OF ALAWITE FORCES" COMMITTING GUERRILLA ATTACKS, ENGAGING IN TARGETED ASSASSINATIONS, AND CAUSING THE GOVERNMENT TO COLLAPSE.
BUT THIS IS NOT THE FIRST NOR IS IT THE ONLY BIT OF EVIDENCE WE HAVE SHOWING THAT WESTERN SPECIAL FORCES WERE ON THE GROUND IN SYRIA PRIOR TO AND DURING THE DESTABILIZATION CAMPAIGN THAT BEGAN IN EARNEST IN 2011.
One article from French newspaper Le Figaro reports that American, Israeli, and Jordanian commandos crossed the Syrian border only days before the chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta, which the West ridiculously attempted to blame on Assad. As Le Figaro reported,
"ACCORDING TO OUR INFORMATION, THE REGIME'S OPPONENTS, SUPERVISED BY JORDANIAN, ISRAELI, AND AMERICAN COMMANDOS MOVING TOWARDS DAMASCUS SINCE MID-AUGUST."
THE REPORT ALSO STATED THAT "THE FIRST TRAINED IN GUERRILLA WARFARE BY THE AMERICANS IN JORDAN, SYRIAN [REBEL] TROOPS REPORTEDLY ENTERED INTO ACTION SINCE MID-AUGUST IN SOUTHERN SYRIA, IN THE REGION OF DERAA. A FIRST GROUP OF 300 MEN, PROBABLY SUPPORTED BY ISRAELI AND JORDANIAN COMMANDOS, AS WELL AS MEN OF THE CIA, HAD CROSSED THE BORDER ON AUGUST 17."
IN OTHER WORDS, NO MORE THAN THREE DAYS BEFORE THE CHEMICAL ATTACKS IN EASTERN GHOUTA, WHICH ALL EVIDENCE SHOWS WAS THE HANDIWORK OF THE DEATH SQUADS, 300 TRAINED "REBELS" AND POSSIBLY WESTERN SPECIAL FORCES THEMSELVES WERE ADVANCING TOWARD DAMASCUS.
The contingents apparently were deployed in two waves with the second group of fighters entering the Daraa region on August 19th.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to fight for her party's leadership with "everything I've got" as the U.K.'s bid to depart the European Union descends into a deepening political crisis.
MEMBERS OF MAY'S RULING CONSERVATIVE PARTY ON WEDNESDAY REACHED THE THRESHOLD OF 48 DEMANDS NEEDED TO TRIGGER A CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Their move came fewer than two days after the prime minister and party leader opted to pull a parliamentary vote on her widely maligned Brexit deal, acknowledging that it would have been defeated.
WEDNESDAY'S POLL WILL BE HELD BETWEEN 18:00-20:00 GMT. A RESULT IS EXPECTED TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY AFTER.
MAY MUST WIN MAJORITY SUPPORT AMONG THE CONSERVATIVES' 315 MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT (MPS) TO SURVIVE THE VOTE. IF SHE FAILS TO DO SO, MAY WILL BE FORCED TO RESIGN AS PARTY LEADER AND WILL LIKELY SET OUT A DATE FOR STANDING DOWN AS PRIME MINISTER.
She would be expected to stay on as an interim prime minister until a new leader is elected by the party following a leadership contest, a process that could take up to six weeks, however.
IN A STATEMENT TO REPORTERS ON WEDNESDAY, MAY VOWED TO "CONTEST THE VOTE WITH EVERYTHING I'VE GOT".
THE 62-YEAR-OLD CAUTIONED ANY NEW PRIME MINISTER WOULD NEED TO SCRAP OR EXTEND ARTICLE 50 - THE EXIT CLAUSE IN THE EU'S CONSTITUTION - "DELAYING OR EVEN STOPPING BREXIT".
"A CHANGE OF LEADERSHIP IN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY NOW WOULD PUT OUR FUTURE AT RISK AND CREATE UNCERTAINTY WHEN WE CAN LEAST AFFORD IT," SHE SAID.
The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29 next year, two years after it triggered Article 50 and kick-started negotiations with European leaders over a divorce deal.
May, who has been prime minister since shortly after the UK opted to leave the EU during a divisive 2016 referendum, has faced widespread criticism from across the political spectrum over her proposed divorce deal from the bloc.
AT THE HEART OF THE ONGOING CONTENTION IS THE PLAN'S "BACKSTOP" PROPOSAL, A SAFETY NET PROVISION WHICH GUARANTEES NO HARD BORDER BETWEEN NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND IN THE EVENT POST-BREXIT TRADE NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE UK AND THE EU PROVE UNSUCCESSFUL.
THE CLAUSE PROPOSES THAT THE WHOLE OF THE UK, INCLUDING NORTHERN IRELAND, WILL REMAIN IN A CUSTOMS UNION WITH THE EU "UNLESS AND UNTIL" THE BLOC AGREES THERE IS NO PROSPECT OF A RETURN TO A HARD BORDER.
But critics in the UK parliament argue that the measure could tie Britain into the EU's orbit indefinitely.
On Tuesday, May undertook a whistle-stop tour of several European cities aimed at seeking "further assurances" from EU leaders on the backstop plan after pulling a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal a day before, acknowledging it would have been rejected by the UK's lower chamber House of Commons.
The move sent the pound plunging against the dollar and the euro as fears of a no-deal Brexit spooked markets.
EU leaders have warned there is no room for negotiation on the withdrawal agreement, brokered after months of back-and-forth discussions between Brussels and London.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will face a vote of confidence in her leadership later on Wednesday.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Mrs May said: "I will contest that vote with everything I have got."
She said a new prime minister would have to scrap or extend Article 50, the mechanism taking Britain out of the EU on 29 March, "delaying or even stopping Brexit".
Conservative MPs will vote from 18:00 GMT to 20:00 GMT.
A result is expected fairly quickly after the voting finishes.
L'Europa è a pezzi e difficilmente potrà uscire da una crisi strutturale che sembra essere irreversibile. Non è la tesi di un qualunque organo di stampa "sovranista" o euroscettico ma di Foreign Affairs, l'autorevole rivista statunitense dedicata alle relazioni internazionali pubblicata dal Council on Foreign Relations. È un'analisi a tinte foschissime per il futuro dell'eurozona quella descritta da Helen Thompson, professoressa di economia politica presso l'università di Cambridge.
Il problema per l'eurozona nasce nel 1999 con la "creazione di un'unione monetaria senza un'unione politica e fiscale di accompagnamento". Successivamente, osserva Thompson, "a partire dal 2011, la crisi del debito sovrano della zona euro ha trasformato quella che era una questione reale ma gestibile in una situazione dalla quale l'Ue non ha scampo. Bloccata in un un'unione monetaria impraticabile, l'Ue non può accogliere la democrazia dei suoi stati membri né sopprimerla" del tutto. Il risultato, secondo la rivista, sarà la prosecuzione di ciò che è accaduto nell'ultimo decennio: una crisi dopo l'altra senza arrivare a una soluzione duratura.
Secondo Foreign Affairs, lo scontro tra il governo italiano e la Commissione Europea sulla manovra economica è la dimostrazione dell'incapacità dell'U.E. di rispettare la sovranità e il voto democratico dei suoi stati membri. "Entrambi i partiti della coalizione al governo – osserva Helen Thompson – hanno fatto promesse fiscali e di spesa durante le elezioni. Ma non possono rispettarle, dal momento che fare ciò significherebbe un deficit maggiore". Ciò, prosegue, "spezzerebbe gli impegni presi dal precedente governo nei confronti della Commissione europea e le regole fiscali contenute nei trattati che hanno istituito la zona euro. L'Italia dipende in gran parte dalla Banca Centrale Europea (B.C.E.) per finanziare il suo debito, quindi non può semplicemente sfidare l'U.E.".
"Gli elettori non accetteranno altri diktat europei"
Per la rivista americana, tuttavia, "la maggioranza degli elettori non accetterà il controllo europeo sulla politica italiana". Infatti, È PROPRIO DAL 2011, "QUANDO LA B.C.E. E IL CANCELLIERE TEDESCO ANGELA MERKEL SPINSERO IL PRESIDENTE DELLA REPUBBLICA GIORGIO NAPOLITANO A SILURARE IL PRESIDENTE DEL CONSIGLIO SILVIO BERLUSCONI E A NOMINARE UN GOVERNO TECNOCRATICO CHE È INIZIATA L'ASCESA DEL MOVIMENTO CINQUE STELLE". Il problema dell'Europa, osserva sempre Helen Thompson, è che nonostante gli evidenti difetti strutturali dell'euro, "i suoi stati membri non riescono a mettersi d'accordo su cosa vi sia di sbagliato, per non parlare di come risolvere i problemi. Al di là di alcune questioni tecniche sull'unione bancaria, rimodellare l'euro, infatti, è una questione politica".
Il problema principale è che all'interno dell'eurozona ci sono Paesi con visioni divergenti e contrastanti, che difficilmente faranno dei passi indietro al fine di trovare un compromesso. Per esempio, all'inizio di quest'anno, è nata la New Hanseatic League, che comprende Estonia, Finlandia, Irlanda, Lettonia, Lituania e Paesi Bassi (oltre a Danimarca e Svezia). Paesi che pretendono controlli più severi sui bilanci nazionali, che limiterebbero i paesi dell'Europa meridionale a cominciare dall'Italia e dalla Francia. Parigi ha reagito a questa nuova alleanza cercando di rinsaldare l'asse franco-tedesca.
Così l'Europa non funziona
Foreign Affairs prende di mira le politiche di austerità adottate dall'Unione europea per fronteggiare la crisi e la concentrazione di potere che la Germania ha accumulato nell'ultimo decennio. Una volta che la crisi dell'eurozona è iniziata nel 2011, spiega, "il destino economico di gran parte della zona euro si è discostato da quello del Regno Unito grazie alle differenze di politica monetaria tra la Bce e la Banca d'Inghilterra".
L'approccio conservatore della B.C.E., infatti, "ha spinto l'eurozona in recessione, mentre la Banca d'Inghilterra ha aiutato l'economia britannica a consolidare la sua ripresa dalla crisi finanziaria". Questo ha prodotto un aumento della disoccupazione sul continente europea e un'immigrazione verso (!) il Regno Unito, che ha poi determinato il risultato del referendum sulla Brexit del 2016.
L'UNIONE EUROPEA, DUNQUE È IN TRAPPOLA, SECONDO FOREIGN AFFAIRS. NON PUÒ RISPONDERE ALLE ESIGENZE DEMOCRATICHE DEI SUOI STATI MEMBRI PERCHÉ LE SUE REGOLE VENGONO APPLICATE "INDIPENDENTEMENTE DAGLI ELETTORI". E QUESTI ULTIMI, D'ALTRO CANTO, SI ASPETTANO CHE I PROPRI RAPPRESENTANTI ABBIANO L'ULTIMA PAROLA SUI BUROCRATI DELL'UNIONE EUROPEA. UNA CONTRADDIZIONE DEVASTANTE CHE, SECONDO FOREIGN AFFAIRS, POTREBBE PORTERÀ ALLA FINE DELL'EUROZONA.
STRASBURGO, COHN-BENDIT E I GENERALI DI FRANCIA
Maurizio Blondet, 12 dicembre 2018
La strage islamica di Strasburgo dà a Macron un'occasione d'oro per vietare assembramenti di Gilet Gialli. Ciò naturalmente ha dato la stura a un turbine di complottismo sui social francesi. È una tesi da cui ci dissociamo.
La prima foto dell'assassino solitario è stata diffusa dal giornalista israeliano Amichai Stein, ma è del tutto normale dato che Stein è corrispondente diplomatico della Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, molto militante pro-Netanyahu a giudicare dai sui tweet. Che un corrispondente diplomatico abbia relazioni col (o sia del) Mossad è ovvio. AMICHAI STEIN È STATO ANCHE IL PRIMO A SEGNALARE IL MEGA-ATTENTATO-STRAGE A CHARLIE HEBDO:
Ma ciò è normalissimo per un corrispondente. MENO STRANO COMUNQUE DI QUEL RICHARD GUTJAR, GIORNALISTA TEDESCO FREELANCE E SPOSATO AD EINAT WILF, POLITICA ISRAELIANA CHE ERA STATA TENENTE DELLA UNITÀ 8200 (INTELLIGENCE MILITARE ISRAELIANO) PRESENTE SIA ALL'ATTENTATO DI NIZZA IL 14 LUGLIO 2016, DOVE FU PRATICAMENTE L'UNICO A RIPRENDERE LA SCENA DEL CAMION ASSASSINO COMODAMENTE DA UNA TERRACE, E A GUADAGNARE UN BEL PO' DI SOLDI CON L'ESCLUSIVA, E SUBITO DOPO, IL 22 LUGLIO, SI TROVA A MONACO DI BAVIERA A RIPRENDERE UN ALTRO ATTENTATO PIÙ O MENO "ISLAMICO" (L'ATTENTATORE UN TEDESCO-IRANIANO SOTTO CURA PSICHIATRICA, CE L'AVEVA COI TURCHI…).
MENO STRANO ANCHE DELLE PRIME FOTO DALL'INTERNO DEL BATACLÀN, POCHI MINUTI DOPO LA STRAGE, CON DECINE DI CORPI SMEMBRATI IN UN LAGO DI SANGUE DELLA PISTA DA BALLO, DIFFUSE DA "ISRAEL NEWS FEED" "@ISRAELHATZOLAH", UNA ONG ISRAELIANA DI PARAMEDICI CHE COLLABORA CON L'ESERCITO DI ISRAELE.
È appena il caso di ricordare che il 13 novembre, giorno dell'attentato al Bataclàn (per 70 anni appartenente ad una famiglia ebraica che l'aveva venduto poche settimane prima), era in corso una esercitazione del SAMU, il pronto soccorso municipale di Parigi, basata sullo scenario di tre attentati simultanei compiuti da tre gruppi di terroristi, che prevedeva 50 morti e 150 feriti. SAMU sta per Services Médicales d'Urgence. Dispone di ambulanze ed elicotteri sanitari. Lo scenario è stato elaborato dal vice-capo del SAMU di Parigi, dottor Michel Nahon (J). L'esercitazione era stata programmata mesi prima" (ne ho scritto a suo tempo):
AL TEMPO DEL BATACLÀN, SI SCRISSE CHE "I RESPONSABILI DELLA SICUREZZA DELLA COMUNITÀ EBRAICA ERANO STATI AVVERTITI IN ANTICIPO DELL'IMMINENZA DI UN GROSSO ATTACCO TERRORISTICO"; SECONDO IL TIMES OF ISRAELE (CHE POI HA CENSURATO LA NOTIZIA). DA CHI? DAL BANCHIERE BARONE EDMUND DE ROTSCHILD, IN PERSONA". IL DATORE DI LAVORO DI MACRON NELLA SUA PRIMA VITA DI BANCHIERE.
The chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has been granted bail by a Canadian court.
Meng Wanzhou could be extradited to the U.S.A. to face fraud charges linked to the alleged violation of sanctions on Iran.
A judge in Vancouver set her bail at CN$10M (US$7.4M) including C$7M in cash.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver on 1 December. Her detention has angered China and threatened to worsen its trade war with the U.S.A.
A PRIMA VISTA SEMBRA LA SCENEGGIATURA DI UN FILM CATASTROFICO DI HOLLYWOOD. È INVECE UNO DEGLI SCENARI PROSPETTATI NEL RAPPORTO UFFICIALE 2018 DALLA COMMISSIONE INCARICATA DAL CONGRESSO DEGLI STATI UNITI DI VAGLIARE LA STRATEGIA DI DIFESA NAZIONALE: "NEL 2019, IN BASE A FALSE NOTIZIE SU ATROCITÀ CONTRO LE POPOLAZIONI RUSSE IN LETTONIA, LITUANIA ED ESTONIA, LA RUSSIA INVADE QUESTI PAESI. MENTRE LE FORZE U.S.A. E N.A.T.O. SI PREPARANO A RISPONDERE, LA RUSSIA DICHIARA CHE UN ATTACCO ALLE SUE FORZE IN QUESTI PAESI SARÀ CONSIDERATO UN ATTACCO ALLA RUSSIA STESSA, PROSPETTANDO UNA RISPOSTA NUCLEARE. SOTTOMARINI RUSSI ATTACCANO I CAVI TRANSATLANTICI IN FIBRA OTTICA E HACKERS RUSSI INTERROMPONO LE RETI ELETTRICHE NEGLI U.S.A., MENTRE LE FORZE MILITARI RUSSE DISTRUGGONO I SATELLITI MILITARI E COMMERCIALI U.S.A. LE MAGGIORI CITTÀ STATUNITENSI VENGONO PARALIZZATE, METTENDO FUORI USO INTERNET E CELLULARI".
LA COMMISSIONE BIPARTISAN, COMPOSTA DA SEI REPUBBLICANI E SEI DEMOCRATICI, PROSPETTA UNO SCENARIO ANALOGO IN ASIA: NEL 2024 LA CINA EFFETTUA UN ATTACCO DI SORPRESA CONTRO TAIWAN, OCCUPANDOLA, E GLI STATI UNITI NON SONO IN GRADO DI INTERVENIRE A UN COSTO ACCETTABILE PERCHÉ LE CAPACITÀ MILITARI CINESI HANNO CONTINUATO A CRESCERE, MENTRE QUELLE STATUNITENSI SONO STAGNANTI A CAUSA DELLA INSUFFICIENTE SPESA MIITARE. TALI SCENARI – CHIARISCE LA COMMISSIONE – ESEMPLIFICANO IL FATTO CHE "LA SICUREZZA E IL BENESSERE DEGLI STATI UNITI SONO A RISCHIO PIÙ DI QUANTO LO SIANO STATI NEGLI SCORSI DECENNI".
Dalla Seconda guerra mondiale gli "Stati uniti hanno guidato la costruzione di un mondo di inusuale prosperità, libertà e sicurezza. Tale realizzazione, di cui essi hanno enormemente beneficiato, è stata resa possibile dalla ineguagliata potenza militare U.S.A.". Ora però la loro potenza militare – "spina dorsale della influenza globale e sicurezza nazionale U.S.A." – si è erosa a un livello pericoloso. Ciò è dovuto al fatto che "competitori autoritari – specialmente Cina e Russia – stanno cercando l'egemonia regionale e i mezzi per proiettare potenza su scala globale".
Sarà una tragedia di imprevedibile ma forse tremenda dimensione – avverte la Commissione – se gli Stati permettono che i propri interessi nazionali siano compromessi per mancanza di volontà di fare "scelte dure e necessari investimenti". Propone quindi un ulteriore aumento della spesa militare statunitense (già oggi equivalente a un quarto del bilancio federale) nella misura netta del 3-5 per cento annuo, soprattutto per accrescere il dispiegamento di forze statunitensi (sottomarini, bombardieri strategici, missili a lungo raggio) nella Regione Indo-Pacifica dove "sono attivi quattro dei nostri cinque avversari (il quinto è l'Iran): Cina, Nord Corea, Russia e gruppi terroristi".
LA VISIONE STRATEGICA CHE EMERGE DAL RAPPORTO CONGRESSUALE – ANCORA PIÙ PREOCCUPANTE SE SI PENSA CHE LA COMMISSIONE È FORMATA PARITETICAMENTE DA REPUBBLICANI E DEMOCRATICI – NON LASCIA DUBBI. GLI STATI UNITI – CHE DAL 1945 HANNO PROVOCATO CON LE LORO GUERRE 20-30 MILIONI DI MORTI (PIÙ CENTINAIA DI MILIONI CAUSATI DAGLI EFFETTI INDIRETTI DELLE GUERRE) PER "COSTRUIRE UN MONDO DI INUSUALE PROSPERITÀ, LIBERTÀ E SICUREZZA, DI CUI ESSI HANNO ENORMEMENTE BENEFICIATO" – SONO DISPOSTI A TUTTO PUR DI CONSERVARE LA "INEGUAGLIATA POTENZA MILITARE" SU CUI BASANO IL LORO IMPERO, CHE SI STA SGRETOLANDO CON L'EMERGERE DI UN MONDO MULTIPOLARE.
LA COMMISSIONE CONGRESSUALE PROSPETTA A TAL FINE SCENARI DI AGGRESSIONE AGLI STATI UNITI, I QUALI ALTRO NON SONO CHE L'IMMAGINE SPECULARE DELLA STRATEGIA AGGRESSIVA, QUELLA DEGLI U.S.A., CHE RISCHIA DI PORTARE IL MONDO ALLA CATASTROFE.
On ne l'avait pas entendu depuis le début de la crise. En coulisses, il a pourtant glissé des conseils à l'oreille d'Emmanuel Macron. Nicolas Sarkozy a été reçu à l'Elysée par l'actuel président, vendredi 7 décembre, ont indiqué au Monde plusieurs sources, confirmant une information de Valeurs actuelles. Organisée à la demande de M. Macron, cette rencontre autour d'un déjeuner a eu lieu la veille de la quatrième mobilisation des " gilets jaunes ". Et surtout, trois jours avant le discours de M. Macron, lundi 10 décembre, lors duquel ce dernier a dévoilé des mesures en faveur du pouvoir d'achat, dans l'espoir de dissuader les manifestants de poursuivre leur mouvement.
Lors de leur échange, l'actuel et l'ancien président ont justement évoqué la question du retour à l'ordre, ainsi que la défiscalisation des heures supplémentaires, explique l'entourage de M. Sarkozy, confirmant une information du Figaro. Comme le confie un proche :
" Ils ont échangé sur plusieurs sujets. Il y en a qui comptent plus que d'autres pour Nicolas Sarkozy, en particulier le respect de l'ordre public et la problématique du pouvoir d'achat. "
L'exonération des heures supplémentaires, mesure-phare de M. Sarkozy en 2007
Sur ce dernier point, l'ancien chef de l'Etat semble avoir été écouté. M. Macron a annoncé lundi soir une exonération des heures supplémentaires d'impôt et de cotisations sociales, reprenant une mesure-phare de M. Sarkozy en 2007, qui avait ensuite été abrogée en 2012 par son successeur, François Hollande.
Une décision saluée dans les rangs de la droite. Emmanuel Macron " reprend nos propositions ", s'est réjoui le député Les Républicains (LR), Guillaume Peltier, mardi 11 décembre, dans Le Parisien. Le patron du Parti socialiste, Olivier Faure, a, lui, critiqué les idées " made in Sarkozy " de M. Macron mardi lors des questions au gouvernement à l'Assemblée nationale.
Et pour cause : M. Sarkozy a eu une influence réelle sur les décisions prises par M. Macron, selon un proche de ce dernier, qui va jusqu'à présenter l'ex-président comme le " corédacteur " du discours de l'actuel chef de l'Etat. " C'est totalement faux ! ", jure l'entourage de M. Sarkozy, qui dresse le portrait d'un homme " en retrait de la vie politique ", uniquement prêt à " partager son expérience " pour " le bien de la démocratie ". " Ce qui compte, c'est la France ", souligne le député sarkozyste Guillaume Larrivé :
" Tant mieux si l'ex-président parle à l'actuel président, pour tenter d'éteindre le feu qui a été allumé par les erreurs macroniennes. "
British Prime Minister Theresa May has left London for talks with European Union leaders aimed at seeking agreement to amend her Brexit deal.
May met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague early on Tuesday before heading to the German capital, Berlin, for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Following her meeting with May, Merkel told members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and its sister party the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), that she saw "no way to change the agreement", the AFP news agency reported.
She reportedly also expressed confidence that a solution to the impasse could be found, however.
May later travelled to Brussels, the administrative heart of the EU, where she held discussions with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk.
Tusk said the other 27 EU leaders will discuss Brexit at a special meeting on Thursday, at the beginning of a preplanned summit in Brussels which May will herself attend.
Calls for no confidence motion
May's whistle-stop tour comes a day after she pulled a parliamentary vote on her widely criticised EU withdrawal plan, acknowledging it would have been rejected by the UK's lower chamber House of Commons.
The move sent the pound plunging against the dollar and the euro as fears of a no-deal Brexit spooked markets.
Amid accusations from the main opposition Labour Party that May had "lost control of events" and calls from her own ruling Conservative Party members - scores of whom were expected to reject her deal - to "govern or quit", the prime minister pledged to go back to European leaders and seek changes to her deal in order appease MPs.
She said Britain needed "further assurances" to get the backing of the Commons, which is due to have a so-called meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement in the near future.
Britain plunges deeper into Brexit crisis
A spokesperson for the prime minister confirmed on Tuesday morning that the vote would be held before January 21, allaying fears May could run the clock down and schedule a last minute parliamentary poll on her deal on the eve of Britain's departure from the EU on March 29 next year.
A coalition of opposition parties including the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, called on the Labour Party to follow through with an earlier threat to table a no confidence motion against May.
A Labour spokesperson said on Monday the party would "put down a motion of no confidence when we judge it most likely to be successful", with no such action expected to take place until after a parliamentary vote on the British leader's deal.
At the heart of the ongoing contention is the "backstop" proposal, a safety net provision which guarantees no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the event post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and the EU prove unsuccessful.
The clause proposes that the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will remain in a customs union with the EU "unless and until" the bloc agrees there is no prospect of a return to a hard border.
But critics in the UK parliament argue that the measure could tie Britain into the EU's orbit indefinitely.
On présente souvent le président Macron comme un Rothschild Boy. C'est exact, mais c'est accessoire. Thierry Meyssan montre qu'il doit sa campagne électorale principalement à Henry Kravis, le patron d'une des plus grandes sociétés financières globales, et à l'Otan ; une lourde dette qui pèse aujourd'hui sur la solution de la crise des Gilets jaunes.
Emmanuel Macron ne se destinait pas à la politique. Jeune homme, il espérait devenir philosophe, puis haut-fonctionnaire, puis banquier d'affaire. Pour arriver à ses fins, il fréquenta les bonnes fées de l'Oncle Sam: la French-American Foundation et le German Marshall Fund of the United States.
C'est dans ce cadre, qu'il a rencontré Henry et Marie-Josée Kravis, dans leur résidence de Park Avenue, à New York. Les Kravis, soutiens indéfectibles du Parti républicain, comptent parmi les grandes fortunes mondiales qui font la politique hors du champ des caméras. Leur société, KKR, est avec Blackstone et le Carlyle Group, l'un des principaux fonds d'investissement dans le monde.
" La curiosité d'Emmanuel pour la can do attitude, cette capacité à se dire que si l'on veut on peut, était fascinante. Mais il a une volonté de savoir, de comprendre ce qui marche sans pour autant l'imiter ou le copier qui le fait rester très français ", déclare aujourd'hui Marie-Josée Drouin (Madame Kravis)
Muni de la double recommandation des Kravis et de Jean-Pierre Jouyet, il intègre le cercle fermé de l'équipe de campagne de François Hollande. Dans un e-mail adressé à la secrétaire d'État Hillary Clinton, le directeur de la planification politique Jake Sullivan décrit les quatre principaux membres de l'équipe de campagne du candidat socialiste, dont l'inconnu Emmanuel Macron. Il précise qu'il devrait devenir le Directeur général du Trésor (" the top civil servant at the Finance Ministry ").
Cependant lorsque François Hollande est élu, Emmanuel Macron devient l'adjoint du secrétaire général de l'Élysée, une fonction plus politique. Il semble qu'il ambitionnait de succéder à Jean-Pierre Jouyet comme directeur de la Caisse des dépôts et consignations, poste qui échut en mai 2014 au secrétaire général de l'Élysée. Il est invité, quelques jours plus tard, au Club de Bilderberg sur proposition des époux Kravis. Il y fera une violente intervention dans un anglais parfait contre son patron, François Hollande. De retour à Paris, il démissionne de son cabinet.
Les époux Kravis sont parmi les principaux piliers du Bilderberg, dont Marie-Josée Drouin-Kravis est administratrice. Contrairement à une idée répandue, le Bilderberg n'est pas un lieu de décision. Ses archives attestent qu'il a été créé par la C.I.A. et le MI6, puis est devenu un organe d'influence de l'OTAN qui en assure directement la sécurité. L'intervention de Macron ayant été bien reçue, il devient un des hommes de l'OTAN en France.
When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994, ending 20 years of exile, I was there as his train pulled into Moscow's Yaroslavsky Station on July 21 -- the end of a long cross-country journey he took after flying from America to Vladivostok in May.
It was a big day: One of the most famous victims of the communist system was returning to a country free of the repressive Soviet government he had helped bring down by documenting daily life -- or the pale shadow of it that was lived by inmates in the Soviet prison-camp system.
Solzhenitsyn, who would have turned 100 on December 11 if he were still living today, was a figure of towering moral stature -- a man who spent years in the gulag and was praised for the "ethical force" of his life and work when he was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature.
It wasn't that Solzhenitsyn was expected to ride to power on a white horse and right seven decades of wrong -- he had already said he would steer clear of party politics and repeated that in an address from a concrete abutment at the station, where an eager crowd stood listening in the rain.
For one thing, his return just seemed right, a momentous but natural step in in what many hoped would be Russia's transformation into an economically thriving democracy -- a "normal" country, as countless citizens described it in those days.
In his story Matryona's Place, the Solzhenitsyn-like narrator is returning from exile in the Central Asian desert and wants little more than to hear the "rumble" of leaves -- "to lose myself in the very core of Russia, if there was such a place anywhere."
For Solzhenitsyn, that Russia would prove elusive.
The day he landed in Vladivostok, he said Russia had been "altered beyond recognition". What he had seen from his temporary home among the leaves of Vermont and what he found upon his return -- three years after the Soviet Union fell apart, opening the country to a chaotic brand of capitalism and leaving citizens struggling to stay afloat -- was certainly far from his ideal.
He made that amply clear to the crowd at the train station in Moscow.
"No one expected that the leave-taking from communism would be painless. But no one thought it would be so painful," Solzhenitsyn said at the train station. "Russia is living through an orgy of vice and immorality…. We are handing over our children, defenseless, to the insolent forces of vice."
I don't remember much about that wet summer day, though photographs somehow bring back the mood of a whole decade. But for me, one image remains as a metaphor for what Solzhenitsyn may have been thinking: an empty pack of Rodina cigarettes -- the name means Homeland -- trampled on the grimy, rain-slicked platform.
The 75-year-old Solzhenitsyn voiced hope, even certainty, that the post-Soviet problems would be overcome, citing the many "healthy souls" he encountered on his cross-country trip and stating: "We will succeed in getting ourselves out of this pit."
But the more he saw of Russia, for a while at least, the more he did not like.
"The masses of our people are dismayed, stunned and shocked by humiliation and by the shame of their powerlessness," he told the State Duma in a speech in late October 1994.
Russia under President Boris Yeltsin was an "oligarchy," he said, and there was "no evidence that the reforms and the government's policies are being undertaken in the interests of the people."
Comparing the State Duma to its doomed tsarist-era predecessors, Solzhenitsyn said that lawmakers must shape up or risk suffering a similar fate at the hands of a power-hungry executive branch.
If he meant the Duma would be dissolved, he was off the mark -- but not by far.
Parliament has not been disbanded since Solzhenitsyn spoke, and the Duma is still elected at more or less regular intervals.
But since Yeltsin handed Russia's reins to Vladimir Putin on the last day of 1999, it has become little more than a pocket parliament -- with the liberal opposition gradually squeezed out and the ruling United Russia party solidifying its control.
Putin also set to work seeking to muzzle the media and rein in powerful tycoons, bringing oil and other material riches back into state hands.
His years in power have been punctuated by terror attacks and disasters either caused or aggravated by human error, and corruption is still a major scourge.
But in some ways Russia has become less chaotic than it was when Solzhenitsyn returned, a troubled time less than a year after tanks shelled the country's own parliament in Yeltsin's showdown with opponents -- and less than a year before tanks rolled into Chechnya, igniting years of devastating war and insurgency in the North Caucasus.
Solzhenitsyn's vision of a Russia made secure and successful by strong local self-government had little chance of taking hold under Putin, who has sought to keep the far-flung regions on a short leash and consolidate power in the Kremlin.
Nonetheless, Solzhenitsyn clearly preferred Putin's Russia to Yeltsin's. Unlike other Soviet-era dissidents such as Lyudmila Alekseyeva, who died at age 91 on December 8, Solzhenitsyn never became a frequent critic of Putin.
In contrast to his distaste for developments in in his country in the 1990s -- an era that has also been a frequent target of the Kremlin's derision, part of the narrative that Putin has raised Russia from its knees -- Solzhenitsyn at times praised Putin for working to restore a strong state.
His view of the West, which he had admonished in a 1978 commencement speech at Harvard University, a few hours' drive from his home in Vermont, was more negative, more tinged with nationalism, and closer to Putin's than those of many Soviet dissidents.
And Solzhenitsyn sometimes said things that seemed to dovetail with the positions of Putin's Kremlin, such as when he dismissed Ukrainian assertions that the 1930s Holodomor famine was genocide as a "fable."
In 1994 it might have been hard to imagine anything less than animus between a longtime former Soviet KGB officer and an intellectual who was first imprisoned and then exiled by the Soviet state.
But for Putin, Solzhenitsyn proved to be a convenient ally at times -- even after his death.
In remarks at the unveiling of a monument to Solzhenitsyn in Moscow on the 100th anniversary of his birth, Putin called the writer "a true, real patriot of Russia" who "stood up against any manifestations of Russophobia" -- a term the Kremlin uses to blame Western officials for the badly strained state of ties with Russia today.
"Even in exile, Aleksandr Isayevich [Solzhenitsyn] never let anyone speak ill or dismissively of his homeland," said Putin.
A little over a year before Solzhenitsyn's death, Putin followed a Kremlin awards ceremony whose honorees included designers of nuclear-armed submarines by visiting the 88-year-old at his home -- the writer had not appeared in public for some time, and his wife had accepted the award on his behalf at the Kremlin -- and thanked him in person for "all your work for the good of Russia."
SOLZHENITSYN, WHO SAT IN A WHEELCHAIR, THANKED PUTIN FOR COMING. AND IN A TAPED MESSAGE DELIVERED HALTINGLY, HE SEEMED TO PUT STABILITY ABOVE ALL ELSE, SAYING THAT THE COUNTRY'S ORDEALS IN THE "CRUEL AND TROUBLED YEARS" HE WROTE ABOUT -- FROM THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION TO THE DECADES OF COMMUNIST RULE -- COULD HELP "FOREWARN AND PROTECT US FROM DESTRUCTIVE BREAKDOWNS" AND UPHEAVAL.
Solzhenitsyn died in August 2008, three months after Putin adhered to a constitutional limit of two straight terms by stepping down and letting his chosen successor, Dmitry Medvedev, assume the presidency.
But Putin did not go far, becoming prime minister and then returning to the presidency in 2012 -- a move that sparked big protests by Russians who felt he had violated the spirit of the law if not its letter and were dismayed at what they feared was the end of a chance for reforms.
They were also incensed by evidence of large-scale fraud in the ruling party's favor in the parliamentary elections held in December 2011, weeks after Putin's plan to return to the Kremlin was announced.
The Kremlin tightened the screws during Putin's third term and he won another election in March of this year, setting him up to stay in the Kremlin until 2024. Asked last month what will happen then, Putin answered with a quip: "What's the hurry? I'm not planning on going anywhere yet."
Solzhenitsyn is not around to assess Putin's return to the presidency, let alone his performance since then and his future plans -- both for himself and for Russia.
But when he arrived at the Yaroslavsky Station in the Russian capital almost a quarter-century ago, Solzhenitsyn vowed to speak the people's truth to "those who hold power in their hands." And one of the remarks he made there could provide a hint about what he might think had he lived to 100.
"THE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE MASTERS OF THEIR FATE," HE SAID, "AND SO WE CANNOT TALK ABOUT DEMOCRACY."
Theresa May's grip on power appears to be slipping as speculation grows at Westminster that she could face a vote of no confidence from Tory MPs, exasperated at her last-minute decision to pull the meaningful vote.
While the prime minister took a whistlestop tour of European capitals on Tuesday in a bid to win fresh concessions from EU leaders, MPs were lobbying colleagues to submit letters of no confidence in her leadership to Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers.
Friends of Brady refused to deny reports he would meet May after her regular appearance at prime minister's questions on Wednesday lunchtime. He would have to inform her first, before calling any no confidence vote.
There was fevered speculation at Westminster on Tuesday night that the threshold of 48 letters – which would trigger a vote – had finally been reached.
The former environment secretary Owen Paterson, a prominent leave campaigner who has been a trenchant critic of the prime minister's approach, made his own letter of no confidence public.
He said May's deal represented a series of "broken promises", and was the culmination of "more than two years of poor government decision-making".
Several prominent Tories, including Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid and Amber Rudd, are known to be contemplating running if May loses a confidence vote.
Many of the most prominent May sceptics were wary of making predictions, bruised by the last time the letters failed to materialise. One Brexiter MP said he knew colleagues who had spent the day lobbying others to send in their letters. Another said: "Do I think we're there yet tonight? I'm not sure but I think we will be tomorrow." Others played down the prospect of the threshold being reached.
Meanwhile the EU is moving into full no-deal mode, with Theresa May's shock decision to pull Tuesday's vote on her Brexit deal prompting Brussels' chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, to warn privately of a sudden escalation of risk.
May is due to hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon, before flying to Dublin to meet Irish premier Leo Varadkar.
As she shuttled between EU capitals on a whistlestop diplomatic tour aimed at salvaging her deal, the prime minister said the hastily scheduled cabinet meeting would discuss what further steps the government needed to take in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
One cabinet source said ministers had been told they would see "quite an alarming no-deal paper" that would emphasise the need to step up preparations.
With May declining to set a date at which her deal will be brought back to parliament for ratification, and her spokesman saying only that it would be before 21 January, France advised its fellow member states that planning for a cliff-edge Brexit now had to be their priority.
France's EU affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, on a visit to Brussels, suggested her country's president, Emmanuel Macron, would urge EU leaders at a summit starting on Thursday to take responsibility for their own preparations rather than be sucked into May's domestic political drama.
Russian President Vladimir Putin put it succinctly when he recently warned that prospects for peace in Ukraine were negligible as long as the current authorities in Kiev remain in power. Worse, given a new rash of provocations by the Kiev regime, the entire region is being threatened with conflict, and even all-out war.
It seems clear – and criminally reprehensible – that the Kiev regime and its President Petro Poroshenko are intent on dragging the United States and the N.A.T.O. military alliance into a war with Russia. The incendiary conduct of Ukrainian politicians and their military is that of a regime out of control, with no regard for maintaining international peace. But this Frankenstein creation is entirely the responsibility of the American and European governments which have enabled and condoned its reckless behavior.
Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova got it right when she said that Russia is the party which is preventing Europe from sliding towards war by stoically containing the Kiev regime's provocative conduct. Yet the regime turns reality on its head by claiming that it is "defending Europe" from "Russian aggression".
The recent Kerch Strait incident was a cynical and flagrant attempt by Poroshenko to incite a conflict with Russia. The three Ukrainian warships violated Russian maritime borders in a deliberately menacing maneuver. Moscow was within its legal right to apprehend the heavily armed vessels and 24 crew members some of whom were secret services.
Absurdly, the Kiev regime is accusing Russia of "lawlessness". More perplexing, the U.S. and European governments appear to have bought into that perverse narrative and are also haranguing Russia over the incident. Poroshenko has been doing the U.S. and European media rounds urging American and N.A.T.O. military support.
This week it was reported that the U.S. Navy 6th Fleet is planning to send a warship into the Black Sea area "in response to Russian aggression". U.S. warplanes also reportedly this week flew over Ukrainian territory under the so-called Open Skies treaty, in a blatant show of force to Moscow.
Following the Kerch Strait incident, the Kiev regime has gone several steps further in inflaming tensions with Russia.
It is renewing the push for an historic schism in the Russian Orthodox Church. Evidently, the politicians in Kiev are trying to incite sectarian conflict between Ukrainians, many of whom wish to remain part of the Russian Orthodox denomination rather than a putative new, separate church of Ukraine. The nefarious agenda is also to antagonize Moscow which will be obliged to defend the security of its church interests and members.
There were also credible reports of the Ukrainian Armed Forces this week mobilizing artillery and troops on the Contact Line with the breakaway Donbas regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. The Kiev regime has been waging a low-intensity war against the ethnic Russian people in Eastern Ukraine over the past four years because they refuse to accept the legitimacy of the February 2014 coup which ousted an elected government. Despite an international peace treaty, the Minsk Accords of 2014 and 2015, the Kiev regime has shown no signs of granting autonomy to the Donbas regions and has continued its aggressive military campaign. This week's mobilization of UAF – and reports of NATO troops also present – raises concerns that the Kiev regime is deliberately destabilizing the region.
Poroshenko and his Russophobic cabal are calling on N.AT.O. for support in the event of a confrontation with Russia. This is a reckless premeditated pursuit of war, which has been a tendency by the Kiev regime ever since it illegally seized power in the C.I.A.-backed coup d'état in 2014. The U.S. and European governments bear responsibility for creating the highly dangerous situation by their fawning over Kiev with military and financial support.
The resonance with the origins of World War II is too alarming to ignore. It was through the Ukraine that the German Third Reich launched its catastrophic offensive on Soviet Russia in June 1941. Today, the Kiev regime is all too reminiscent of Neo-Nazi affiliation and a rabid anti-Russian mentality. Its unhinged conduct is being indulged by American and European governments, military and media – either out of ignorance or, more sinisterly, out of calculated intent to prompt confrontation with Russia.
It is only 73 years since the end of World War II. Incredibly, despite living memory of that horror, the world is being endangered again by criminal disregard for international law. And in the same geographical location.
Western governments are fully responsible for the present instability and potentially incendiary situation. They must act immediately to restrain the Kiev regime – if, that is, they genuinely want to uphold peace with Russia.
Last week, The Guardian published a "bombshell" front-page story asserting, without producing any evidence, that Julian Assange had secretly met the recently convicted former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in 2013, 2015 and 2016. The Guardian's attack on Assange came only days after it was confirmed that he has been indicted some time ago, under seal, and that the U.S. will seek his extradition from the U.K. The story was published just hours before a hearing brought by media groups trying to stop the U.S. government from keeping its attempts to extradite Assange secret.
The story went viral, repeated uncritically by many media outlets around the world, including Newsweek. This falsely cast Assange into the center of a conspiracy between Putin and Trump. The Guardian even had the gall to post a call to its readers to donate to protect "independent journalism when factual, trustworthy reporting is under threat."
These three meetings with Manafort did not happen.
As The Guardian admitted, the Embassy's visitor logs show no such visits. The Guardian claims they saw a separate internal document written by Ecuador's Senain intelligence agency that lists "Paul Manaford [sic]" as one of several well-known guests.'
Manafort, through his spokesman, has stated: "This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him."
It appears The Guardian editors tried to backpedal from the original story with post-publication stealth edits, but they have not issued a correction or apology.
The journalists who wrote this story must surely know that guests who enter the embassy must be registered in logs, as pointed out by the former first secretary at the Ecuadorian Embassy from 2010 to July 2018.
Ecuadorian intelligence has spent millions of dollars on setting up security cameras inside its embassy in London to monitor Julian Assange and his visitors. The Guardian has previously published still shots from those cameras. However, in the case of the claimed Manafort visit, they apparently demanded no such verification.
They also overlooked the simple fact that millions of pounds have been spent over the years by the Metropolitan police and secret services on monitoring the entrances of the embassy 24/7.
This is part of a series of stories from The Guardian, such as its recent claim of a "Russia escape plot" to enable Assange to flee the embassy, which is not true.
What do these stories have in common? They all give the U.K. and Ecuador political cover to arrest Assange and for the U.S. to extradite him. Any journalists worth their salt should be investigating who is involved in these plots.
Industrialised countries need even more migration in order for their welfare to survive, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres explained in his introductory speech in Marrakesh on Monday.
On Monday, the Global Migration Pact was adopted at the U.N.'s two-day conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. The severely criticised pact was adopted to a several minutes long applause.
However, a number of countries, including several E.U. states, have refused to sign it because they believe that the agreement threatens national security and sovereignty.
They also believe that it will promote even more migration. But that may be exactly what the U.N. wants. If nothing else, the U.N. Secretary-General is clear about his views on migration. He believes that the welfare in developed countries will collapse without even more migration.
It is clear that most developed countries need migration, and migrants to, among other things, take care of the elderly and to prevent a health care crisis, he said in his introductory speech on Monday.
According to him, developed countries have low birth rates and an ageing population that they cannot handle without more migrants.
The economies of the countries will stagnate and the populations will "suffer" if they are not enriched by increased migration, he argued.
After a petition against the United Nations Global Compact for Migration reached the threshold of 100,000 signatures last week, members of the British Parliament issued a response to the petition.
The U.N. Migration Pact is a comprehensive, inter-governmental negotiated agreement prepared by the U.N. to cover all the dimensions of international migration.
Under the compact, migration would be made a universal human right and even expand the definition of hate speech to include criticism of mass migration.
President Trump has decreed the compact "simply not compatible with… sovereignty".
Along with the United States, several other countries have rejected the compact:
As Breitbart points out, the compact has barely registered as a blip in Britain's mainstream media – but in recent weeks, Brexit has dominated the news cycle which may be due in part as to why.
However, after a petition against the compact reached 100,000 signatures, Parliament did respond to the outpouring of opposition in a released statement:
"The Global Compact for Migration will support global co-operation on migration without affecting the sovereignty of all countries to control their own borders…"
Despite the fact that mass migration has already proven itself to greatly impact the sovereignty of many European nations, the U.N. has instead decided to lie and ignore reality…
"Too many people, including vulnerable women and girls, are taking risky journeys to migrate through dangerous channels. The Compact will help us take important steps to keep migrants around the world safer and to protect the most vulnerable, by supporting international cooperation on the protection of migrants, in line with our obligations under international law. It outlines ways of preventing exploitation, and of combating the heinous crime of modern slavery…"
Again, the U.N. ignores the true reality of mass migration – putting young girls and women at risk in the hands of refugees not compatible with free and Western societies.
The statement concludes:
"The Compact is the result of months of intergovernmental negotiations. Though it is legally non-binding and no country can be compelled to conform with its provisions,we are aware that a small number of countries have chosen not to endorse it. We respect this choice and note that countries will be able to endorse the Compact, or cooperate with other states on delivering its objectives, at any point in the future."
In short, this "compact" isn't a legally-binding agreement – and although they want to act like it's progress, it's more of the same –ignoring the truth behind the situation and allowing dangerous circumstances to befall ordinary citizens all across Europe.
The U.N. and British Parliament still bury their heads in the sand regarding the dangers of unfettered migration, even after public opinion shows them the clear message of average citizens yearning for their countries to be secure and safe again.
It will be only up to the citizens of their respective countries to protect themselves and their land as more and more problems and issues arise from refugees and migrants infiltrating and desecrating their culture – real authority figures in Europe have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they do not bear the best interests of their own people in mind.
Russians on Tuesday paid their last respects to human rights icon Lyudmila Alexeyeva, with President Vladimir Putin expected to attend a memorial ceremony despite the activist's criticism of his rule.
Alexeyeva died on Saturday at the age of 91 after an extraordinary seven-decade career that saw her promote human rights during the Soviet era and in modern Russia.
Prominent opposition figures and ordinary Russians queued in the snow amid heavy security to pay their respects to the activist in central Moscow.
But Alexeyeva's 77-year-old colleague Lev Ponomaryov, who is currently serving a 16-day jail sentence for calling protests, was absent after a court denied his appeal to attend.
Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who has repeatedly been jailed for organising anti-Putin demonstrations, was at the event.
Dmitry Gudkov, an opposition politician who queued to bid farewell to Alexeyeva, told AFP that Putin's expected attendance was "more than contradictory".
"Ponomaryov is under arrest but everything is closed off so that Putin can come", he said.
"He probably wants to look human. But it looks disgusting on the background of what's happening in the country", he added.
Riot police lined the streets outside Moscow's Central House of Journalists where the ceremony was taking place.
Mourners had to pass through metal detectors to get inside the building, which was cordoned off by police.
"Everyone respected her", said Nataliya Magnitskaya, a pensioner who queued to bid farewell to Alexeyeva.
Many carried flowers and some wore t-shirts bearing slogans in support of activists serving jail sentences in Russia.
Olga Trusevich, a 54-year-old archivist, wore a t-shirt in support of Oyub Titiev -- a rights activist detained in Chechnya.
Alexeyeva was the leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group, one of Russia's oldest rights organisations which she helped found in 1976.
In the Soviet era, she campaigned against trials for dissidents and endured numerous searches and interrogations at the hands of the KGB.
Alexeyeva continued to campaign for human rights in modern Russia, refusing to register the Moscow Helsinki Group as a "foreign agent" as required by a 2012 law.
She slammed Moscow's seizure of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 for "bringing shame on my country".
Alexeyeva died in a Moscow hospital on Saturday after a long illness. She will be buried at Moscow's Troyekurovskoye Cemetery.
Gaza, Dec. 10 -- At least 32 Palestinian protesters were injured on Monday during clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel, medics said.
According to a press statement by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, 11 of them were injured by live gunshots, 12 by rubber-coated metal bullets and nine by tear gas canisters.
Every Monday, Palestinian protesters gather on the beach of the northern Gaza Strip close to the border fence with Israel, calling on Israel to end its 12-year blockade on the coastal enclave.
Protests also occur every Friday as part of the Great March of Return rally which began on March 30.
The Islamic Hamas movement and other minor factions in Gaza, which are leading the anti-Israel Palestinian rally, insist that the protests won't stop until Israel lifts its blockade.
Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said in a press statement that the Israeli army has shot dead 239 Palestinians and wounded 25,000 others since March 30.
“UNWANTED” REFUGEES WHO ARE DENIED A RESIDENT PERMIT IN DENMARK WILL BE FORCED TO LIVE ON A REMOTE ISLAND, THE COUNTRY’S GOVERNMENT HAS SAID.
The policy is part of the coalition government agreement that includes the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, which has a hard-line stance towards asylum seekers and refugees.
IT CLAIMS THOSE WHO ARE DEEMED TO BE CRIMINALS, POSE A NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERN OR HAVE “OTHER RELEVANT REASONS” BUT CANNOT BE DEPORTED FOR LEGAL REASONS WILL BE MOVED TO A FACILITY ON LINDHOLM, WHICH WAS ONCE RESERVED FOR EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS.
"THE RESIDENTS OF THE RETURN CENTRE WILL BE FOREIGNERS, WHO DUE TO CRIMINALITY, NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERNS OR OTHER RELEVANT REASONS ARE EXCLUDED FROM RESIDENCE PERMIT AS REFUGEES, BUT WHO CANNOT BE RETURNED TO THEIR COUNTRY OF ORIGIN DUE TO THE RISK OF ILL-TREATMENT," THE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT SAID.
THE AGREEMENT WILL HOUSE AS MANY AS 100 PEOPLE ON LINDHOLM ISLAND.
The Danish People’s Party celebrated the announcement of the policy by posting a cartoon on social media showing a dark-skinned man with a beard being dumped onto a desert island.
Alongside the image, the party wrote: “Deported, criminal foreigners have no reason to be in Denmark. Until we can get rid of them, we will move them to the island of Lindholm. They will be obliged to stay at the new deportation centre at night and there will be police around the clock. Great!”
“They are unwanted in Denmark, and they will feel that,” the immigration minister, Inger Stojberg, wrote on Facebook.
FINANCE MINISTER KRISTIAN JENSEN SAID PRISONERS WHO WERE DEEMED TO BE LOW-RISK WILL BE PERMITTED TO TRAVEL TO AND FROM THE MAINLAND WITH A FERRY SERVICE DURING THE DAY.
THEY WILL HAVE TO CHECK BACK EVERY NIGHT AND WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO MOVE FREELY.
“THEY WILL NOT BE IMPRISONED. THERE WILL BE A FERRY SERVICE TO AND FROM THE ISLAND, BUT THE FERRY WILL NOT OPERATE AROUND THE CLOCK, AND THEY MUST STAY AT THE DEPARTURE CENTRE AT NIGHT. THAT WAY WE WILL BE BETTER ABLE TO MONITOR WHERE THEY ARE,” HE TOLD DANISH NEWS AGENCY RITZAU.
The policy is yet to be approved by the Danish parliament and opposition figures were fiercely critical of the proposal.
On Friday evening, 07 December 2018, Israeli forces wounded 72 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children, 1 woman and 2 paramedics in the peaceful demonstrations in the eastern Gaza Strip despite the decreasing intensity of the demonstrations there for the sixth week consecutively and absence of most means usually used during the demonstrations since the beginning of the Return and Breaking the Siege March 7 months ago.
According to observations by PCHR's fieldworkers, for the fifth week since the beginning of the Return March on 30 March 2018, the demonstrators abstained from burning tires while the attempts to cross the border fence and throw stones and incendiary balloons were completely absent.
Though the demonstrators were around tens of meters away from the border fence, the Israeli forces who stationed in sniper positions and military jeeps along the fence continued to use excessive force against the demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them, without the later posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.
On 07 December 2018, the incidents were as follows:
At approximately 14:30, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to the five encampments established by the Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege adjacent to the border fence with Israel in eastern Gaza Strip cities. Hundreds, including children and women, approached the border fence with Israel in front of each encampment and gathered tens of meters away from the main border fence. Further, setting fire to tires and throwing stones, incendiary balloons and Molotov cocktails were almost absent. The demonstrators gathered in areas open to the Israeli snipers stationed on the top of the sand berms and military watchtowers and inside and behind the military jeeps. Despite the prevailing calmness, the Israeli forces fired live and rubber bullets in addition to hundreds of teargas canisters, particularly in eastern Jabalia, Gaza and al-Bureij refugee camp. The Israeli shooting, which continued at around 17:00, resulted in the injury of 72 Palestinian civilians, including 11 child, 1 woman and 2 paramedics. The injury of 3 civilians, including a child, was reported serious. In addition, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures due to tear gas canisters that were fired by the Israeli forces from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza Strip.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday that two Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers, an Antonov An-124 military transport plane and an Ilyushin Il-62 long-range aircraft had arrived in Venezuela. The ministry pointed out that the aircraft had covered a distance of 10,000 kilometers and flew over the Atlantic Ocean, the Barents, Norwegian and Caribbean Seas in strict compliance with international rules of the use of airspace.
This is not the first such flight performed by Russia's Tu-160 warplanes as they flew to Venezuela in September 2008 and in October-November 2013. Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said that the Russian aircraft would participate in joint flights with Venezuelan planes.
"Russia's government has sent bombers halfway around the world to Venezuela. The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer," Pompeo wrote on Twitter later.
Hubris, arrogance, and contempt for ordinary people define him. Macron represents virtually everything just societies abhor.
He's a former Rothschild banker/economy minister, a neoliberal reactionary, an establishment president - hostile to Liberte, Égalité and Fraternité for everyone in France, Europe and everywhere else.
HE SUPPORTS US IMPERIAL WARS, NEOLIBERAL HARSHNESS, TAX CUTS FOR BUSINESS AND THE RICH, UNIONS SERVING MANAGEMENT, NOT WORKERS, SOCIAL INJUSTICE, AND GREATER PRIVATIZATIONS OF STATE ENTERPRISES FOR MAXIMUM CORPORATE PROFITS AT THE EXPENSE OF POPULAR RIGHTS AND NEEDS.
HE'S FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE WITH A NEW FACE, SAME REVILED AGENDA, OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSED - A BOON FOR FINANCE CAPITAL AND WAR-PROFITEERS, DISASTROUS FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE, STRUGGLING TO GET BY LIKE THE COUNTERPARTS IN VIRTUALLY ALL WESTERN COUNTRIES AND MOST OTHERS, NOTABLY IN AMERICA, BRITAIN, ISRAEL, AND DESPOTIC REGIMES THEY SUPPORT.
Despite a parliamentary majority, Macron lacks a popular mandate. According to Marine le Pen, weak support could undermine the legitimacy of his legislative majority.
AS IN THE US AND OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES, FRENCH DEMOCRACY IS PURE FANTASY. PLURALISM EXISTS IN NAME ONLY. DIRTY BUSINESS AS USUAL IS THE UNWRITTEN LAW OF THE LAND.
ALLIED WITH THE US, FRANCE IS INVOLVED IN ENDLESS WARS OF AGGRESSION, ORDINARY PEOPLE EXPLOITED TO BENEFIT THE COUNTRY'S MONIED INTERESTS EXCLUSIVELY.
LIKE OTHER EU COUNTRIES, THE US AND CANADA, FRANCE IS A CESSPOOL OF CRIMINALITY, INEQUALITY AND INJUSTICE - A PLUTOCRACY RUN BY SINISTER DARK FORCES.
Throughout the West and most elsewhere, monied interests run things for their own benefit, ordinary people exploited to fatten their bottom line.
WHEN ELECTIONS ARE HELD, DIRTY BUSINESS AS USUAL WINS EVERY TIME. MAJOR PARTIES REPLICATE EACH OTHER, THEIR AGENDAS VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL ON MAJOR ISSUES.
Their privileged class doesn't give a hoot about ordinary people, including the most disadvantaged.
WESTERN NATIONS ARE UNFIT AND UNSAFE TO LIVE IN, FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS ERODING IN PLAIN SIGHT, POLICE STATE RULE REPLACING THEM - NONEXISTENT THREATS INVENTED TO DISTRACT PEOPLE FROM WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT.
CHINA, RUSSIA AND OTHER NATIONS ARE RISING, THE WEST SINKING. IT'S JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THE US EMPIRE GOES LIKE ALL OTHERS IN HISTORY.
Yellow Vest protests in France are all about anger over increasing social inequality, growing millions affected, Macron indifferent to what's most important to the nation's ordinary people, public anger over high fuel taxes symbolic of the overriding issue.
President of the rich Macron's approval rating plunged to barely over 20%. Begun on November 17, Yellow Vest protests continued on Saturday under the banner "All to the Elysee," referring to the Elysee Palace official residence of French presidents.
Tens of thousands of police are out in force in Paris and other French cities - armored vehicles deployed on Parisian streets. Popular landmarks and tourist spots are closed on Saturday in the nation's capital, along with many shops and restaurants in high-traffic areas.
Police clashed with protesters, using water cannon, stun grenades, toxic tear gas, and other iron-fisted tactics, hundreds arrested on Saturday alone.
Toughness by authorities energizes people to push harder for equitable change. One sign read "Listen to the anger of the people."
Mayor of the 8th district of Paris Jeanne d'Hauteserre said "(w)e are in a state of insurrection. I've never seen anything like it." Polls show over three-fourths of French people support Yellow Vest protests.
Activists demand sweeping economic and financial reforms, including lower taxes for ordinary people, higher pay, cheaper energy, better retirement benefits, and Macron's resignation.
A United Ireland will move dramatically closer if the 'backstop' is removed from the Brexit deal, British Prime Minister Theresa May has said.
In a warning that caused significant surprise in Dublin, Mrs May openly admitted that voters in Northern Ireland may want to join the Republic rather than see Border posts re-erected.
"They (in Northern Ireland) do not want a return to a hard Border. And if this House cares about preserving our union, it must listen to those people because our union will only endure with their consent," she said.
On another day of shambolic politics in Westminster, the prime minister delayed today's so-called 'meaningful vote' on the Withdrawal Agreement and vowed to seek further reassurances from the EU on how the backstop will work.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and EU leaders have totally rejected the idea of reopening negotiations that took more than 18 months to complete.
Sources in Dublin questioned what further guarantees could be provided, noting that the acceptance of a UK-wide backstop rather than one specific to the North was already a major concession.
However, it was Mrs May's suggestion that Northern Ireland could leave the United Kingdom that caused most surprise.
"Businesses operate across that Border. People live their lives crossing and re-crossing it every day.
"I've been there and spoken to some of those people. They do not want their everyday lives to change as a result of the decisions we have taken," the prime minister said.
"They do not want a return to a hard Border. And if this House cares about preserving our union, it must listen to those people because our union will only endure with their consent."
The Good Friday Agreement gives prominence to the 'principle of consent' which affirms the legitimacy of the aspiration to a united Ireland while recognising the current wish of the majority in Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
An Irish Government source told the Irish Independent: "We have been very careful not to talk about a united Ireland during this, so to hear it from the British prime minister was extraordinary."
Mrs May's U-turn came after she and senior ministers had spent days insisting the vote would go ahead, despite the scale of opposition.
Her statement in the House of Commons yesterday is also a clear signal that her relationship with the DUP, which had been propping up her government, is all but over.
Amid the George HW Bush imperial death-orgy, the endless saga of Midtown Mussolini's daily news cycle, the seemingly unprecedented political upsurge in France, and countless other show-stopping news stories, you likely missed three very sad, yet revealing, incidents out of the Sahel region of West-Central Africa.
First, on November 18th, a massive offensive against a Nigerian military base by a faction of the Boko Haram terror group known as the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) killed upwards of 100 soldiers. The surprise attack came at a time when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who famously (and repeatedly) has declared victory against Boko Haram and terrorism, has faced a crisis of legitimacy, falling approval ratings, and an impending election in early 2019.
Just days later, on November 22nd, while most Americans were gathering with family and eating turkey on Thanksgiving, a contingent of about 50 armed militants kidnapped at least 15 girls in Niger, just outside a town in the Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria. While Boko Haram did not officially claim responsibility, many have attributed the action to the terror group, or one of its factions, given their propensity to use kidnappings for propaganda and fundraising.
And on the very same day, also in Diffa near the Niger-Nigeria border, suspected Boko Haram militants killed seven employees of Foraco, a French well drilling and mining company.
This spate of deadly, and rather brazen, attacks on civilians along the Niger-Nigeria border paints a troubling picture of the continued instability of the region, and give the lie to the idea that counter-terrorism operations, ongoing for a number of years now, have put Boko Haram and other terror groups on the back foot.
This reality is undoubtedly a political liability for Nigerian President Buhari who was elected on the promise of stamping out terrorism and bringing stability and the rule of law to Nigeria. Of course, a number of uncomfortable questions can and should be asked of Buhari, his top military commanders, and other bureaucrats in his administration.
But perhaps the more salient questions should be posed, not to Nigeria's government, but to the US Government itself, and specifically its African Command (AFRICOM). For it is Washington, not Abuja, that has poured billions of dollars into counter-terrorism and surveillance in the Sahel and West Africa. Considering the laundry list of attacks and killings, one could naturally ask the question: What exactly is the US doing over there, if not counter-terrorism?
Nigeria, Niger, and AFRICOM
These most recent incidents paint a worrying portrait of the on-the-ground reality in the region where terror groups not only continue to exist, but seemingly are thriving. Lucrative trade in illicit goods, drugs, human trafficking, and more has continued to line the pockets of these militant organizations. But the very fact that these killings are continuing calls into question the efficacy of, and agenda behind, the US AFRICOM force.
As the Washington Post reported back in 2013, the US has chosen Agadez, Niger as the site of a massive new drone facility that will act as a "strategic foothold" in West Africa, specifically with regard to the stated mission of surveillance of terrorist networks. And the US has been flying drones from the facility for more than five years.
However, as The Intercept's Nick Turse has reported, what was originally intended to be a relatively small facility hosting a few US drones and military advisers has ballooned into a more than $100 million investment that will be one of the US's most costly foreign military construction projects. And instead of simply housing a handful of Predator drones, the facility will be the base for MQ-9 Reaper drones before the end of next year. Naturally, it's unclear just how many drones are already flying out of the facility, though knowledgeable observers assume a significant number already are.
This base, which will act as a hub of the broader AFRICOM drone surveillance network sprawling over much of the African continent, is just a short flight from where these latest horrific incidents have taken place. And yet, it seems the US either was unable or unwilling to do anything to stop them. Even with the most advanced surveillance and communications equipment, somehow groups of dozens or hundreds of fighters are moving into towns conducting mass kidnappings, pillage, and worse all under the nose of Washington.
And beyond the Agadez base, the US has a military presence in both Niger and Nigeria, with both countries routinely hosting US soldiers and military advisers, often with the specific intent of assisting local forces in the fight against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. An ambush attack against 4 US soldiers in Niger has recently brought the issue into the headlines as Washington considers reducing the number of ground operations its soldiers directly participate in.
It should also be noted that the US operates a number of other clandestine surveillance hubs throughout the continent, at least one of which is in relatively close proximity to the area where the attacks took place. As the Washington Post's Craig Whitlock reported in 2012:
"A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou, the…capital of Burkina Faso… Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport. The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara."
Moreover, AFRICOM leads annual, large-scale military exercises throughout the region, as well as focusing on broad strategic initiatives that embed US military forces into the military command structures of these countries.
A Little History
It should be noted that the US has been involved in the Sahel region going back to the early years of the George W. Bush administration, even before the establishment of AFRICOM, which was later greatly expanded by the Obama administration.
After 9/11, the United States began to grow its military footprint on the African continent under the guise of a 'War on Terror', selling this notion to a United States gripped with fear of terrorism. With programs such as the Pan-Sahel Initiative, later broadened into the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative, Washington managed to provide military and financial assistance to compliant countries in North Africa – a policy whose practical application meant that the US military became the dominant force in the Sahel region, supplying the human and material resources for which the governments of the region were starved. Naturally, this meant an implicit subservience to US military command.
And with the establishment of AFRICOM, these relationships were further cemented such that today we see annual, massive military exercises such as Exercise Flintlock which brings together numerous African countries under the auspices of US military leadership. While this year marked the first time that the more than 20 nations' militaries were led by African forces, it remains US military at the head of the table.
Any guesses where Flintlock 2018 took place? That's right, Niger.
It's the Resources, Stupid
President Obama was not the architect of AFRICOM, which was established in 2007 under Bush, but he was perhaps its greatest champion, greatly expanding its scope and funding.
Obama grandly proclaimed in 2014:
"Today's principal threat no longer comes from a centralized Al Qaeda leadership. Instead, it comes from decentralized Al Qaeda affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in the countries where they operate…We need a strategy that matches this diffuse threat; one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military thin, or stir up local resentments."
As with all things Obama, the truth and disinformation so seamlessly blend together that it can be difficult to parse one from the other. While no doubt there is truth in what he stated, the underlying subtext is much more interesting to consider. For while Obama and his cohorts would endlessly wax poetic about security and stability, the true mission of AFRICOM is neocolonial in nature.
Yes, it must be said that in fact AFRICOM is an occupying force that in no way functions to guarantee the security of African people (see Libya, among others), but rather to guarantee the free flow of resources out of Africa and into the Global North, particularly former colonial powers like France and Britain, and of course the US.
In case there's any doubt, consider the following statements from Vice-Admiral Robert Moeller, military deputy to former commander of AFRICOM General William 'Kip' Ward, who told an AFRICOM conference in 2008 that AFRICOM's goal was "protecting the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market." Furthermore, Moeller wrote in 2010, "Let there be no mistake. AFRICOM's job is to protect American lives and promote American interests."
So, if we strip away the flowery rhetoric about stability and security, both, of course, vital to resource extraction and export, it becomes clear that it is, in fact, natural resources that drive the US strategic interest in Africa, along with countering the growing Chinese footprint on the continent.
The last decade has seen major oil discoveries throughout the Lake Chad Basin which have transformed how the states of West Africa view their economic future. At the heart of the basin is Lake Chad, surrounded by the countries of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. According to a 2010 assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Chad Basin has "estimated mean volumes of 2.32 billion barrels of oil, 14.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 391 million barrels of natural gas liquids." The potential size of these resources has attracted the attention of political and business leaders, both in the region and internationally.
Those oil reserves have gained the attention of each of the Lake Chad littoral states, and led to something of a scramble among them to siphon off as much oil from their neighbors as possible. Of course, it's not only oil and gas that are of interest, especially since the US has become a net exporter of oil.
But for France, the former colonial power in the region, which still maintains a large military presence in the Sahel under the auspices of Operation Barkhane, oil remains an essential priority in Africa.
As a top oil executive in Chad told Nigerian daily This Day that, "Currently, oil from Lake Chad being drilled by the Republic of Chad is…shipped through tankers to the international refineries at the Port of Le Havre in France."
And in Niger, a country rich in mineral deposits such as uranium which are vital to France's vast nuclear energy sector, France remains the dominant economic player. As Think Africa Press reported in 2014:
"France currently sources over 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy and is dependent on Niger for much of its immediate and future uranium supply. This dependence could grow even further when production at the recently-discovered Imouraren uranium deposit is up and running in 2015. The mine is set to produce 5,000 tonnes of uranium per year and would help make Niger the second-largest uranium producer in the world. Areva, which is 87 percent owned by the French state and holds a majority share in three out of the four uranium mining companies operating in Niger, is funding the new mine."
And oh, by the way, Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou is a former employee of Areva, the French company that dominates the uranium trade in Africa.
Perhaps then we should return our thinking to the recent attack that killed seven employees of the French drilling company Foraco. Was this part of the broader efforts by French capitalists to continue extracting uranium and/or other minerals for shipment back to the "mother country"? One has to wonder, considering Foraco does not confine itself solely to drilling wells for water.
Is the US surveillance architecture so brittle and inept that it simply missed the movement of hundreds of members of the very organizations Washington is allegedly fighting in the region? Is it simply that the US is unable to effectively spy on this area until its massive Agadez base is complete? Is it that these terror groups have grown in sophistication such that they are able to elude the most advanced military and spying capabilities in the world?
The answers to these questions might take some time to fully emerge. But what we do know is that US military in Africa is effectively an occupation and resource extraction force that uses local militaries as proxies for its own agenda. The terror groups operating in the region have made untold millions and committed countless atrocities right under the noses of the purportedly benevolent American military forces.
So, if counter-terrorism is really what the US is interested in in the Sahel and West Africa, then the AFRICOM mission is an abject failure. Of course, seen as a neocolonial occupying force utilizing both hard and soft power to entrench US hegemony and guarantee the free flow of resources from Africa, it is a rousing success.
Mondays are rarely fun.
But for British Prime Minister Theresa May and her embattled government, Monday, December 10, 2018, will likely go down as a particularly lousy day.
It all started in the morning when in a landmark ruling the European Union's top court said the UK may unilaterally reverse its decision to leave the 28-member bloc prior to its scheduled exit on March 29 next year.
By early noon, May's already tenuous grip on Brexit appeared further weakened as whispers began to circulate that she would postpone a parliamentary vote on the widely criticised Brexit deal she negotiated with the EU, contradicting statements made by several officials earlier in the day.
It was only a matter of time then before the uncertainty which has come to dominate British politics since the country's decision to quit the EU in a divisive June 2016 referendum went into overdrive.
When May finally announced that Tuesday's vote was being delayed, acknowledging that her agreement would have been rejected, opposition MPs accused her of "losing control of events" and members of her own ruling party called on her to "govern or quit".
Thousands of peaceful patriots marched through central London today against Mrs May's soft Brexit deal demanding a hard-Brexit.
The march, co-organised by UKIP and Tommy Robinson was hailed as a 'huge success' despite attempts by the far-left and the press to smear the organisers.
The event has seen no major trouble so far despite far-left agitators including Labour and Owen Jones attempting to bait protesters. Labour activist Owen attempted to cause violence to smear the working class patriots marching against the elites by teaming up with Antifa to oppose the March in a separate "Anti-Far Right" March. Police imposed restrictions on both marches to avoid clashes between the two sides.
The Brexit Betrayal march kicked off at 12.30 pm in Park Lane, while the counter protest started at Portland Place at 12pm. At a rally on Whitehall, and other prominent speakers Gerard Batten had a speech.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, said on Sunday that French President Emmanuel Macron, is to blame for the "yellow vest" protests.
The Yellow Vest movement has thrown France, especially Paris, into chaos since mid-November. The bold Salvini, who has had an ongoing dispute with Macron over immigration policy, has admonished Brussels to pay attention to what is happening.
On Sunday after a successful rally in front of 80,000 in Rome, Italy's Interior Minister had this to say about Macron: "History will probably show that if (Macron) had focused more on the French and less on Salvini and Italy, he would have a few less problems today".
Salvini added, "Macron reduced taxes for the very well-off and increased them for those less well off," articulating that the Italian government had no intention of following Macron's example.
"Do people in Italy want scenes like we seen in Paris? … No. I want to prevent this. I want to help businesses, families and also the five million poor people (here). A country with five million poor people can't move ahead," Matteo said.