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US to allocate $250mn to ‘tackle Russian influence’ amid soaring military spending & budget deficit

RT | March 22, 2018

The US is allocating $250 million to counter Russian influence, according to a government spending bill, which also provides for a record boost in US defense spending and a significant sum for military assistance to Ukraine.

With claims and allegations of Russian meddling swirling around Washington DC since the 2016 election, “not less than $250,000,000 shall be made available to carry out the purposes of the Countering Russian Influence Fund,” the 2,200-page Consolidated Appropriations Act, unveiled by the US Congress on Wednesday, states.

While accusing Moscow of interference in the US election, the bill makes no effort to hide America’s own plans to meddle in Russia’s internal affairs. “Funds appropriated by this Act shall be made available to support democracy programs in the Russian Federation, including to promote Internet freedom,” the document reads.

The US has been increasingly focused on trying to detect and counter the perceived Kremlin-backed attack on American democracy on all fronts since the 2016 elections. In early March, the US State Department and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson even faced criticism, after it was revealed that the agency didn’t spend a single dollar out of the $120 million it received for countering “Russian and Chinese propaganda.”

In February, a US Special Counsel indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities on charges of trying to sow discord in America via their activities on social media. The document, however, did not mention the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack or indicate that there was any collusion with the Trump campaign. It also confirmed there was no evidence of any impact on the outcome of the election or links to the Russian government. Moscow has repeatedly denied Washington’s accusations, with Vladimir Putin again telling the NBC in early March that those indicted had nothing to do with the Russian government.

Nevertheless, the $1.3 trillion government spending draft also provides $380 million to protect the US voting system from cyberattacks. Despite the Department of Homeland Security saying last year that there was no evidence of any votes being altered by Russian or any other hackers in 2016, the US intelligence officials have been warning that midterm elections in November could be targeted.

Among other things, the Consolidated Appropriations Act provides an $80 billion increase in defense funding, the largest in 15 years, also earmarking $1.6 billion in funds for the construction of the fence along the Mexican border, one of Trump’s most controversial campaign promises.

The US budget also allocated $200 million for military assistance to Ukraine, which included ‘lethal defensive weapons’ aid to Kiev. “For the ‘Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative’, $200,000,000 is hereby appropriated, to remain available until September 30, 2018,” the document mandates.

The funds are expected to be spent on “training; equipment; lethal weapons of a defensive nature; logistics support, supplies and services sustainment; and intelligence support to the military and national security forces of Ukraine, and for replacement of any weapons or defensive articles provided to the Government of Ukraine.”

US President Donald Trump has to approve the bill by Friday in order to avoid a government shutdown. The US government already briefly stopped operating in January and February as the lawmakers were unable to agree on the funding. “The president supports the bill, looks forward to signing it,” Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget director, said on Thursday.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Trinity College Dublin students overwhelmingly back BDS in referendum

MEMO | March 23, 2108

Students at Trinity College Dublin have overwhelmingly voted to support the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, with the referendum result announced to cheers and chants.

Asked whether Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) should “accept a long-term policy on Palestine and in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)”, 64.5 per cent of students voted in favour (1,287 students of a total of 2,050).

The referendum reportedly saw the highest turnout in recent years. As BDS is a “long-term policy”, it required that 60 per cent or above of the students balloted voted in its favour. The referendum was held after students gathered the necessary 500 signatures to put the vote to the student body.

According to The University Times, the long-term policy mandates the union to support the movement and “comply with the principles of BDS in all union shops, trade, business and other union operations”, as well as to lobby the college and the government to adopt a BDS policy.

“The long-term policy would also see the introduction of a boycott, divestment and sanction implementation group within the union,” the paper added.

The incoming TCDSU President Shane De Rís and President-elect of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) Oisín Vince Coulter had both urged students to vote in favour of BDS.

“It isn’t uncommon for students and students unions to campaign for the rights of oppressed people at home and around the globe,” De Rís said.

If we can help make a difference by boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning those organisations complicit the oppression of the Palestinian people, then I think it worthwhile to do so.

Vince Coulter added: “We need to show solidarity again with the struggle of the Palestinian people for peace, justice and human rights.”

Read also:

More UK universities join Israeli Apartheid Week

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 7 Comments

Then They Came for the Globalists

By CJ Hopkins | CounterPunch | March 23, 2018

Thank God for the corporate media. If it wasn’t for them, and the ADL, I’d have probably never discovered that I’m a Nazi. Apparently, I’ve been one for quite some time … which is weird, as I had no idea. Here I was, naively believing that I’d been writing about global capitalism and the realignment of political power and ideology in the post-Cold War world, when all along I had really just been persecuting the Jews. I didn’t think I was persecuting the Jews. But such is the insidious nature of thoughtcrime. When you’re a Nazi thought criminal (as I apparently am), it doesn’t matter what you think you’re thinking. What matters is what the global capitalist ruling classes tell you you’re thinking, which it turns out is often a lot more complicated and horrible than what you thought you were thinking.

For example, I’ve been thinking and writing about globalism, which most dictionaries define as “a national policy of treating the whole world as a proper sphere for political influence,” or “the development of socioeconomic networks that transcend national boundaries,” or something like that … which was more or less my understanding of the term. Little did I know that these fake “definitions” had been infiltrated into these dictionaries by discord-sowing Strasserist agents to dupe political satirists like myself into unknowingly spreading anti-Semitism as part of Putin’s Master Plan to destroy the United States of America and establish worldwide Nazi domination.

Fortunately, the lexicography experts in the corporate media and the Anti-Defamation League cleared that up for me earlier this month. According to these experts, words like “globalist” and “globalism” don’t really mean anything. They are simply Nazi code words for “the Jews.” There is actually no such thing as “globalism,” or “global capitalism,” or “transnational capitalism,” or “supranational quasi-governmental entities” like the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank … or, OK, sure, there are such entities, but there is no legitimate reason to discuss them, or write about them, or even casually mention them, and anyone who does is definitely a Nazi.

Now, imagine my horror when I took that in, especially given my repeated references to “the corporatocracy,” “global capitalism,” and “the global capitalist ruling classes” in the essays I’ve been publishing recently. I didn’t want to accept it at first, but the more “authoritative sources” I consulted, the more glaringly obvious my thoughtcrimes became.

These authoritative sources were reacting to Trump referring to Gary Cohn as “a globalist” in his rambling remarks in the Oval Office, which went a little something like this: “He may be a globalist, but I still like him. He is seriously a globalist. There’s no question … in his own way. But you know what, he’s also a nationalist. He loves our country and … where is Gary?” While the experts are still scouring the video for Nazi gestures and facial expressions, there can be no doubt that Trump said the word “globalist.” The corporate media and the ADL could not allow this transgression to stand.

Peter Beinart, writing in The Atlantic, explained that “globalist” is “an epithet … a modern-day vessel for a slur” against the Jews, and he linked to a video of Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, who verified that “the term ‘globalist’ was developed and originated in extremist circles populated by white supremacists” (by which I can only assume he meant the Anti-globalization Movement, which apparently is just a big Nazi front). Eli Rosenberg, in The Washington Post, although allowing that “globalist” can sometimes mean “globalist,” emphasized that, “to some observers of extremism,” it also “speaks to something darker.” Bret Stephens, in The New York Times,couldn’t quite decide whether using the word makes you an official goose-stepping Nazi or just a garden variety anti-Semite. CNN’s Don Lemon, delving into “the ugly history” of the word, explained that “it is shorthand for a worldview based on racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism” … the worldview of “far right conspiracy theorists obsessed with prominent Jews like George Soros.” And these are just a few of the many examples.

After processing all these “authoritative” statements by these “respected experts” and “credible news sources,” I felt like I’d been walking around with a Swastika branded into my forehead. I was overcome by a sudden need to signal my anti-anti-Semitism to my friends, family, and the world at large. After destroying my old Pink Floyd CDs and apologizing to Jerry Seinfeld on Twitter, I immediately ran and confessed to my wife, who just happens to be “a globalist,” and begged her to call her family members who control the media, the banks, and Hollywood and ask them to forgive me my thoughtcrimes. Then I drafted an email to the SPLC asking whether they could possibly squeeze me into their interactive Hate Map somewhere, or at least let some neo-McCarthyite hack publish a ridiculous, paranoid smear piece about my Nazi vocabulary on their website.

Seriously, though, all satire aside, this stigmatization of terms like “globalist,” “globalism,” and “global capitalism” is a key component of The War on Dissent which the global capitalist ruling classes have been waging against a broad assortment of insurgent elements for the last eighteen months. It isn’t just a question of delegitimizing dissidents by smearing them as anti-Semites, Russian agents, and conspiracy theorists. The goal is also to conceal the essential nature of the conflict itself. The essential nature of the conflict is neoliberalism versus neo-nationalism. This is what we are experiencing currently, not a Russian assault on Western democracy, nor even a resumption of the Cold War, but, rather, the global capitalist ruling classes putting down a neo-nationalist insurgency … the insurgency that led to the Brexit referendum and the presidency of Donald Trump.

Now, here’s where things get a little tricky, particularly for those of us on the Left (whatever that label even means anymore). The neo-nationalists can come right out and call the conflict what it is. It is in their interest to call it what it is. They may not be opposing capitalism, but they are certainly opposing global capitalism. In doing so, they are attracting people who are not so thrilled about being governed by unaccountable global corporations and supranational non-governmental bodies, people who are still emotionally attached to outdated concepts like national sovereignty, national culture, and crazy stuff like that. Some of these folks are actual neo-Nazis, but most of them are just regular people who know when they are being pissed on by global capitalism and told it’s raining. The point is, the neo-nationalists can describe their opponents as exactly what they are, global capitalists, or just plain old globalists. Neoliberals do not have this luxury.

See, the problem for the capitalist ruling classes is that global neoliberalism (i.e., globalism) is a really tough sell to regular folks. They can’t just come out and explain to people that national sovereignty is essentially dead, and that political power now resides among a network of global corporations (which couldn’t care less about their “nationality”) exploiting a globalized labor market (which is why their “good jobs” are not coming back) and a globalized financial market (which is why almost everything is being privatized and their families are being debt-enslaved). Nor can they admit that the “War on Terror” and the European refugee crisis it has caused, and the chaos and slaughter in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, et cetera, is the predictable result of global capitalism aggressively restructuring the Greater Middle East, which it started doing more or less immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union (i.e., as soon as the final impediment to its pursuit of global hegemony was removed). This kind of thing doesn’t go over very well, not with most regular working class people.

So what the global capitalist ruling classes have to do is … well, they have to lie. They have to disseminate a different narrative, a narrative that has nothing to do with the hegemony of global capitalism, the dissolution of national sovereignty, and the privatization of virtually everything. Because people aren’t total morons, this narrative needs to bear some resemblance to the actual conflict taking place. So, all right, a little rebranding is in order. Global neoliberalism becomes “Western democracy,” neo-nationalism becomes “Nazism,” and Vladimir Putin becomes Adolf Hitler.

Presto! Now things are nice and simple! History, geopolitics, and socioeconomics vanish into the ether! Capitalism schmapitalism! This is no time for critical thinking, not with Putin-Nazis coming out of the woodwork! No, this is a time to rally behind the freedom fighters at the FBI, the CIA, the corporate media, and the rest of the military industrial complex, and to mercilessly hunt down Russian infiltrators, Putin sympathizers, crypto-Assadists, neo-Strasserian, alt-right entryists, and other sowers of division and discord! We need to get these folks delegitimitized, stigmatized as racists and anti-Semites, or terrorists, or some other type of “extremist,” before they can “influence” anyone else with their Facebook ads and subversive essays.

You will know them by the words they use, and by the words they do not use. Anybody using words like “globalist,” “global capitalism,” or “neoliberal,” or suggesting that anyone voted for Trump or Brexit for any reason other than racism, you can pretty much rest assured that they’re Nazis. Also, anyone writing about “banks” or the “deep state.” Absolutely Nazis. Oh yeah, and the “corporate media,” naturally. Only Putin-Nazis talk like that. Oh, and definitely anyone who hasn’t spent the last two years attacking Trump (as if there has been anything else to focus on), or has implied that “the Russians” aren’t out to destroy us, or that the historical moment we are living through might be just a bit more complex than that … well, you know what they’re really saying. They’re saying, “we need to exterminate the Jews.”

Look, I could go on and on with this, but I don’t think I really need to. Remember, I’m a Nazi thought criminal now. So just go back and read through some of my essays and make note of all the coded Nazi messages, or check with the Anti-Defamation League, or the SPLC, or the corporate media, or … well, just ask the good folks at Google.

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at or

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Daesh Resumes Training Child Soldiers in Deir ez-Zor Safe Zone – Reports

Sputnik – 23.03.2018

According to Arab media, the Daesh terrorist group is using the de-escalation zones controlled by the US-led international coalition to reorganize and launch fresh strikes on the Syrian government army in a bid to return its former bases in al-Mayadeen and abu-Kamal.

The Arabic-language al-Manar news outlet, citing sources affiliated with the Syrian government’s armed opposition, reported that Daesh has resumed training children for its deadly operations in the Deir ez-Zor province, allegedly protected by the US and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Daesh is reportedly preparing to attack the Syrian army after the US-backed SDF declared an end to operations against the terrorist group, and following the US military expanding its presence in the region.

The terrorist group has allegedly established a military base in order to train what it described as “The Caliphate’s Lion Cubs” in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province, adjacent to Iraq, Arab media reported. The training center for child soldiers has allegedly been set up under the supervision of the former commander of Daesh bases in Raqqa, Abu Mohammed al-Fransi; the group is said to have been recruiting a large number of Syrian and foreign children to conduct suicide operations.

Recently, the Syrian government accused Washington of providing support for Daesh and other terrorist groups in the country, including intelligence allowing the militants to attack Syrian army positions. Syrian state media, such as the SANA news agency, have also repeatedly reported that US helicopters evacuated Daesh jihadists from several areas across Deir ez-Zor, with wounded militants allegedly being sent to receive medical assistance from Medecins Sans Frontieres doctors.

According to Damascus, US air power has purportedly been used on numerous occasions to rescue terrorist leaders from elimination at the hands of the government army, and even to stage “accidental” attacks on Syrian troops as they advanced against the terrorists.

The US-led anti-Daesh coalition kicked off its campaign in Syria in 2014 without a UN mandate or the country’s government’s consent. Damascus has repeatedly denounced the offensive as a violation of its sovereignty, reiterating that Washington and its allies were never invited into the country by the internationally recognized government of President Bashar al-Assad.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

The Ghost of Hillary

By Nick Pemberton | CounterPunch | March 23, 2018

The Ghost of Hillary Clinton still haunts the minds of many Americans. She is paraded around America like a fallen angel. A Washington Post article as recent as March 14th stated: “America Needs Hillary More Than Ever”. The investigation into Russia collusion drags on a year and a half after Donald Trump’s victory. Earlier this month Hillary was still making excuses for why she lost. The latest one: she had two-thirds of the GDP on her side: “But what the map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward”. Even Hillary is usually more skilled at hiding her class bias.

This was one of Hillary’s more telling quotes. She believes the rich are dynamic and forward thinking and that the poor are not. She believes that to be poor is to be backward and ignorant. She believes that only angry white dudes are poor and she doesn’t even give a thought to anyone else. She believes that the smart and worthy people are for her and that the losers are not. And of course she believes that there is something inherently wrong with an election that is decided by poor people. The rich are also according to Hillary, more “optimistic.” No shit. Who could possibly be “optimistic” about the state of America right now besides the rich?

To be fair, Hillary is not the only one obsessed with Hillary. Trump and Fox News spread mad and sexist conspiracies about her. And who could blame Hillary for being obsessed with herself? Imagine waking up tomorrow as Hillary Clinton. Could anything be stranger?!

I told myself that I wasn’t going to read What Happened. Despite my obsession with Hillary Clinton, even I had my fair share by the end of the 2016 election. Yet I almost tripped over it in the library, laying out on a cart, castaway, begging to be read. My first response was, as always with Hillary, “won’t you just go away?” But there was something that beckoned me back into her arms. Hillary, as captivating as she is awkward, wooed me back.

I am far from the only man obsessed with Hillary. But what kind of man am I? Am I the bitter Bernie Bro who pours minutely over each detail of the DNC’s corruption? Am I the deplorable Trumper who sees Hillary lurking behind every conspiracy of liberalism on Fox News? Or am I the sanctimonious liberal man who bends over backwards to prove that he is a feminist through his Hillary fetish? This kind of man is so acutely portrayed in Get Out. The liberal suburban Dad proudly tells the black man he is about to slice up that he “would have voted for Obama a third time.”

Yet I wonder if there is a fourth type of man obsessed with Hillary. Someone who finds the entire political scene so farcical that he can’t help but be drawn in by somebody who is so uniquely dishonest, entitled, and oblivious.

There was always a certain bond that I felt with Hillary’s mangled soul. She is just so out of touch with most people. She needed translators to relate to the everyday American, and her translators weren’t that good either. She couldn’t walk into a room, as her husband did, and adapt to the sheer absurdity of the human mind, let alone the American mind. If she did not find her own mind to be so far above what she couldn’t understand maybe she would have won. With that thought, I jumped in.

The book felt hectic, but not in the Virginia Woolf stream-of-consciousness sense. There is something quite dulling about all of Hillary’s anecdotes. She has been in the political machine for far too long. She seems to be frozen in platitudes of what should be. Her mind is not free, it is trapped inside someone who works too hard and feels too little. She feels the need to attack all dissenters. In the first few pages she gushes over her phone call from “George” (yes, George W. Bush). She seems to be just fine with anyone more rightwing than her, for it leaves her room to shimmy to their side, always the willing (and superior) partner in crimes against humanity. Anyone more left than Hillary must be crazy, for that side has already been taken up by Hers truly.

Before every chapter there is some sort of self-help quote from a famous person. Hillary has the blasphemy to begin the book with a quote from “super-predator” Harriet Tubman (she goes on to celebrate Harriet’s face on the 20$ bill. If Hillary ever had to touch a 20 she might not have been so complementary). Hillary’s book fits in with the therapy driven, pill popping self-love narratives that has ascendancy over liberal circles. Compassion for mental illness is important (although not for the mental illness that brings slavery to Haiti and Libya). But the overall craze with self-loving fits with the capitalist notion that mental health is indeed a problem to be blamed on the individual, and if only they could be a little more selfish they would be happier. This self-love narrative doesn’t acknowledge that the happiest regions in the world are the ones with the strongest communities and the least inequality.

About every self-help quote has something to do with “it doesn’t matter if you lose, it matters that you keep going.” The first assumption here is that because Hillary lost, we all lost. Why again should we feel that Hillary Clinton’s loss was our loss? Wasn’t she the second most unpopular candidate ever? There is an assumption throughout the book that Hillary represented all that is good about the new liberal order. How many people is this order helping? And to the extent that it does work, can you name one way in which the Clintons have helped, rather than betrayed the very principles of a liberal society? The second assumption that Hillary makes is that nobody should look at the outcomes of an event that surprised them. Instead they should just double down on what they already thought. Hillary’s world is the entire world and no event—not even losing a Presidential election to Donald Trump?!!! should result in any sort of curiosity or reflection. The answer to all problems in America and in HillaryLand is work harder and don’t look anywhere you aren’t supposed to.

The other problem for the Clintons in this book is how much their brand is stuck in the 90s. They are a show about nothing without the humor or self-awareness. The 60s brought idealism through thriving social movements. Following their defeat it was cynicism and Nixon that rose from the ashes. Cynicism was then institutionalized through Reagan and the 80s with a full on embrace of individualism and neoliberalism. What followed was the Clintons, who rebranded the Democratic Party as a place for liberal individuals rather than collective society. Follow this with a win for the common man George W., a celebration of individual simpleness as collective identity. Hope for a smarter (but not a more collective) world came through Barack Obama, and predictably hope fell flat on its face despite Obama’s popularity. Hillary Clinton then tried to make a cheery reboot of her 90s family sitcom, but talking about nothing no longer was appealing. Talking about something, some doom for us all, was the pulse of the times and Donald Trump fit perfectly. Proud of lying, bullying and destruction, the end times had come for us. Born again Christians rejoice and free market liberals rebuke. Hillary still can’t believe Trump won but it was ultimately her ideology that won out. Rich individuals matter, society does not.

The Clintons are as sloppy as they are shameless. The fact that they thought they deserved another chance showed how much they took the American people, especially the left, for granted. To write a tale of victimhood assumes that none of us remembered the Clintons or if we did, that they deserved to get away with it. It is true that women and men are held to different standards in our society. But the complaint by Hillary is that she couldn’t get away with criminality, corruption and cruelty. How bold a claim it is to act like you deserve to get away with such things! Imagine even if a less prolific gangster, such as Al Capone, was half as indignant about his crimes! This is why What Happened, once you get past the ridiculousness of it, is a potentially engrossing read.

There was something strangely satisfying about Hillary bashing Bernie Sanders in this book. I am not sure which side of the Left brain it appealed to—that of masochism or that of martyrdom. There was just something so false and small about that old man. He at the end of the day got what he was looking for—a seat at the table of the Democratic Party.

As for Russia, everything got really personal in this book. it was like all of us were at the mercy of grudges between royal figures. Putin hates me, I hate Putin, let’s go to war and you can cheer for me! The media too has taken Putin’s “attack on American democracy” quite personally. It is after all, their democracy that Putin messed with. Only the American corporate media can decide what we think, no outside propaganda allowed! Hillary also throws in that America was doing better than any other major country.

Another favorite moment of the book was when an older woman dragged her younger daughter over to Hillary to confess that she didn’t vote. The younger woman bowed her head before the pulpit and apologized for her sin. Hillary complained about forgiving this woman, acting as if one “lazy millennial” had more to do with her own loss than she did. Want to know why younger people aren’t voting? This is why.

The first couple of chapters are rather slow as Hillary tries to pretend like she has a personal life and a soul. Hillary informs us that she asked her father if he would still love her even if she murdered someone. Maybe he should have said no…. It gets even more tiresome when she raves about the Clinton Foundation. Then there are the details of her campaign staff and their analytics. I must admit that I skipped this part. Maybe Trump had spoiled me, but I wanted the dirt!

It takes a while to get going. The book is filled with pop culture references and cute anecdotes that are dated, overused and uninspiring. Hillary desperately shoves her humanity on top of us and it is hard to believe it. There are so many quaint stories that happen to “ordinary” people in this book. Including to Hillary herself. What she ate, what she wore, who she went on a walk with. Lots of “jokes” and “moments” that helped to get her through the day. Aren’t these things that come naturally to human beings? Do they have to be so forced?

I came to the next chapter: “A Day In The Life”. Get me out of here! Finally, the section on “Sisterhood”. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I miss Elitist Hillary! Everyday Hillary is way too folksy. There are three chapters devoted to “Sisterhood”. In Hillary’s world there are two sides: those who are with men and those who are with Her. Hillary, Establishment Democrats and even Establishment Republicans are on the side of women. Anyone outside of this establishment—whether they be Trump voters (in Hillary’s mind, poor people, evil men and acquiescent women) or Bernie voters (idealistic privileged men) are the enemy of Hillary, and therefore the enemy of women.

What is truly odd about Hillary is that she sees feminism in the establishment and sexism as an outside force that come from the unenlightened masses. This is consistent with her aggressive use of the police state and military-industrial complex. She views these patriarchal forms of control as civilizing forces for predatory men and their victims. What war does to women is irrelevant. What prison does to women is irrelevant. What cutting welfare does to women is irrelevant. What widening inequality does to women is irrelevant. Distrust the masses and trust the powerful is Hillary’s mantra.

There may also be truth in that Hillary’s strategy of lying, stealing, and yes, even marrying, to the top of our capitalist patriarchal society produced better results for her. As sad as this may be, such a strategy of global pillage should be denounced as not worth whatever Hillary thinks she symbolizes. Hillary’s book did feature some nice statements on women’s leadership, and hopefully it encourages more women to get involved in politics. Having no beliefs other than narcissism though, Hillary again stuck to empty and vague maxims in this section.

I had to stop. I was going mad. This was such a long road and it meant nothing. The lies weren’t even interesting anymore. She wasn’t trying to convince me, she was trying to fatigue me. I knew slightly more fruitful ground was ahead. I wanted to see her rail against Russia and Bernie. The index indicated her “Grievances” would go on for several hundred pages. I wanted to see the “real” Hillary. I wanted to see her express her real believes and real emotions. But I had to skim, and soon after I had to close the book. I saw my life ticking away as I became increasingly engrossed by the petty grievances of one of the most sinister people in the world. I was, if anything, more confused now than I had ever been. But far too worn down to keep going. I anticipated reading the whole book but I could barely get through the first couple chapters. This was a painful, painful read. Don’t try it. If you think you want to read this book, just run away.

This book is awful. Not especially because of the politics it embraces, which are obviously horrendous. Rather it is the attitude of a politician so distant from reality, so distant from what it means to be alive, that she has to construct it entirely from her partner’s notes. She says she doesn’t want to be like Ms. Havisham from Great Expectations but this is exactly who she is. She is a ghost, stuck in a moment in time, unable to make any sense of it. 70 years of denying the existence of a world with struggle and dignity has left her incapable of accepting reality. She hires advisors to give excuses, she hires writers to construct a life, and she hires think tanks to run the government.

For Hillary the world will go on through the ever improving free market, where all victories are natural and all losses are inexplicable. It is from America, the most rude and selfish place in the world, where democracy shines. As for the people, they just haven’t quite caught up to this hip lady with the pantsuits and techies. Have these Trump people even been to Chipotle, she wonders.

What is this world? Who are you, Hillary Clinton? Even the way she explained yoga was so exhausting. She acted like it was some slick American innovation that was best applied for the overbooked. I don’t know, gosh, who cares. But there was just something so frustrating about Hillary’s zombie-like quest in this book. Eat the enemy. Learn human. Using google translate.

Where was I? Where had Hillary taken me? Life began slipping away, I was trapped within a white picket fence. I would be driving a mini van to see small children play soccer games. I would engage in humanitarian projects to remind myself the world was there. I would be happily married—somehow both owning and respecting my wife and 3 children. I would be endlessly busy, stressed, and exhausted. Occasionally I would take a moment to say “isn’t life just great.” I would have a few cute quirks that we could all laugh about, as I was a character in this act too. I would be the uncivilized man needing to be civilized, and no matter how far I might stray, they would assure me “you’ll come back” and indeed, I would. I saw each benchmark of a successful life pass by, and each time, I would tell myself “life was not wasted.” I would lose touch with all those but the most persistent, not really liking any of my friends, but liking to gossip about them. I would turn on CNN, listen to the experts, vote for a centrist Democrat who talked about getting along, donate to the charity of my choice, scold somebody, but no one in particular, feel good about myself, become utterly bored, pick up another hobby that did nothing for anybody, I would become stressed, I would go to Starbucks, I would figure out the best ways to “manage” such a balanced life between work and family and projects, and I would do my best to civilize the world in my image. I would grow more conservative with age, more cross with those younger than me, more trusting in authority, and more cynical about government. I would one day get cancer, be covered by ObamaCare, thank God for the Democrats, beat it once, have a small thought that my whole life was a sham, but soon go back to routine. I would then one day die, in the middle of the night, and those of my creed would regard me as a “good man” and a “happy man” and I would be buried next to my loving wife, who was really the pillar of the family, and the mystery would remain, how on earth did Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton?

By the end of the book I scratched my head and concluded that none of it really mattered. The whole event of the 2016 election and its dramatic reveal through this book seemed to just be based in petty details, meanness and elitism. Naturally, Donald Trump, the most petty, the most mean and the most elite of the crop won the cake. Actually, Hillary Clinton, losing the 2016 election is the most decent thing you have ever done.

What began a couple hours ago as intrigue ended in a woozy haze. I wasn’t asking What Happened I was asking What Just Happened? This was a tedious expedition. I was hoping for Desperate Housewives but I got Gone Girl meets Gilmore Girls. This was a brutal cocktail of sensationalized victimhood and mind numbing anecdotes. There were some slightly more wild sucker punches in the later chapters but I couldn’t appreciate many of them. As bad as Hillary is at being a politician, she is much worse at being a human being.

Naturally I had to turn to Russian born singer Regina Spektor and her song “Ghost Of Corporate Future” to get my sanity back. She sings over an overflowing piano rhythm:

And people make you nervous
You’d think the world was ending
And everybody’s features have somehow started blending
And everything is plastic
And everyone’s sarcastic
And all your food is frozen
It needs to be defrosted
You’d think the world was ending
You’d think the world was ending
You’d think the world was ending right now

Hillary is indeed the ghost of a corporate future. When she was running for President it was very reasonable to ask: is she alive? She is so cynical, so fake, and so out of touch. She has built her fences and her causes and has hid behind them.

Now she is a different sort of ghost. She remains stuck in a moment in time. We are reminded of her far too often. When she lost we lost “democracy” and gained “fascism.” Hillary’s death was the death of America. The greatest country on earth had fallen. Hillary haunts our imaginations. She deludes our memory. What would have happened if she had won?

Look no further than this quote about nuclear weapons during the Presidential debate: “The bottom line on nuclear weapons is: when the President gives the order it must be followed… that’s why ten people who have had that awesome responsibility have come out and said they would not trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes.”

A person so distant from reality naturally lives in deep paranoia. Hillary is deeply fearful of the poor, blacks, young women, and foreign foes. When she said that a nuclear order “must be obeyed” she was implying that she was entitled to give such an order. She was right to criticize Donald Trump’s judgement but may I ask when is the right time to blow up the entire world? One who is level headed about such a possibility is much more frightening than a madman like Trump.

As Secretary of State Hillary was reckless. Given the current climate in Syria (no thanks to her nemesis Vladimir), what would a no-fly zone have meant? What would it have mattered to Hillary? If she didn’t understand Wisconsin, what makes us think she would have understood Syria? A hot nuclear war would have been one way to defrost Hillary’s frozen food and warm her cold hands. We all may have been ghosts of Hillary’s corporate future if the White Pantsuit had descended upon us. Now that she can’t take our bodies, she settles for our souls.

Nick Pemberton is a student at Gustavus Adolphus College. He is currently employed by Gustavus Dining Services. Nick was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. He can be reached at

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again

By Paul de Rooij | CounterPunch | March 23, 2018

One must marvel at the first few paragraphs of Amnesty International’s recent press release:

“The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia. Every year we think it is just not possible for parties to the conflict to inflict more suffering on civilians, and yet, every year, they prove us wrong…

Right now, in Eastern Ghouta 400,000 men, women and children, who have been living under an unlawful government siege for six years, are being starved and indiscriminately bombed by the Syrian government with the backing of Russia. […] The international community had said ‘never again’ after the government devastated Eastern Aleppo with similar unlawful tactics. But here we are again. Armed opposition groups have retaliated by indiscriminately shelling two villages in Idleb, which they have also besieged since 2014.” [1]

This is an unambiguous call and a justification for war; it seems that AI is calling for a NATO bombing campaign similar to the one staged in Libya in 2011. There is also no ambiguity as to who AI deems to be culpable and ought to be at the receiving end of a “humanitarian bombing” campaign.  Before cheering yet another US/NATO war, it is useful to analyse Amnesty International’s record in assisting propaganda campaigns on the eve of wars. It is also worthwhile reviewing AI’s reporting on Syria, and how it compares with that on other countries in the area.

A sorry record

It is not the first time that Amnesty International has played a role in a propaganda campaign in the lead up to a war. A few examples:

Before the US invasion to ouster the Iraqis from Kuwait, president George Bush Sr. appeared on TV holding an Amnesty International report claiming that Iraqi soldiers had dumped babies out of incubators. That was Amnesty International’s willing participation in spreading a hoax — a hoax fabricated by a major American PR company.

In the months prior to the US-NATO attack on Serbia, Amnesty-USA put two Croatian women on a ten city-speaking-tour to project their account of their “rape-camp” ordeal — in reality one of them was a top Croatian propaganda official, a close advisor to president Tudjman, who was also known for her acting abilities.[2] Again, this hoax was pushed by a major American PR company.

AI’s coverage/non-coverage of Israeli mass crimes also deserves to be analysed.[3] In this case, Amnesty plays a role in adulterating and reducing criticism after wars or the misery caused by its continuous occupation and abuse of the Palestinians (discussed below).  Amnesty International-Israel served as a propaganda front busy manipulating “human rights” reports to suit Israel’s interests.[4]  AI-London has not commented on the manipulation by its Israeli siblings.

In 2012, Amnesty erected advertising posters in the US applauding NATO’s actions in Afghanistan — “Keep the progress going”, purportedly doing something for women’s rights. This was merely crass pro-NATO pro-interventionist propaganda. [5]

Amnesty-France was instrumental in propagating anti-Libyan propaganda prior to the NATO bombing of the country in 2011.[6]

Alas, Amnesty’s sorry record is much longer than these few examples indicate.

Not anti-war

One would expect a human rights organisation to be intrinsically opposed to war, but AI is a cheerleader of so-called humanitarian intervention, and even “humanitarian bombing”.[7] In the past, when queried about its equivocal and lame statements about wars, an AI official stated that “Amnesty International is not anti-war”. Even with this predisposition AI was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize – yet another undeserving recipient for a prize meant to be given only to those actively opposed to wars. In Syria’s case, AI has given up this phoney “not anti-war” stance for one that is actively advocating war. Notice that it uses a rather dubious argument about “never again” about standing by in the face of mass crimes; in reality this is an appeal to holocaust memes meant to favour this war.

Syria today…

The Syrian government is presently rolling back the jihadis who had managed to establish themselves in an area next to Damascus. No government would tolerate to have a section of their capital city under jihadi control, an area from which the rest of the city is mortared, and an area vital to control the water supply of the city. What would happen if jihadis took over Arlington, VA, and used it to bomb the center of Washington DC? The response would be self-evident. For some reason AI doesn’t bestow this right of self-defence to the Syrian government, but instead refers to an “unlawful government siege [of Ghouta] for six years”. This is laughable.

It is remarkable to find that in none of the latest press releases or reports does AI discuss the nature of the armed groups fighting in Syria. Even those referred to as “moderates” by Washington are a rather unsavoury bunch. Most of them are foreign jihadis; a good portion of them are Saudis. (NB: Saudis offered political and criminal prisoners a way out of jail on condition of going to fight in Syria.) And they are armed/trained/financed by the US/UK/Saudi/Emirates/Turkey/Qatar… to the tune of at least $12 billion. The former US ambassador to Syria stated that the US contribution was at least $12bn [8]; this figure excludes the funds provided by the Saudis and other regimes in the area.  Gareth Porter reports that the quantities of weapons supplied to the jihadis were enough to equip an army. [9] Yet, this armed gang of jihadis is barely mentioned in Amnesty’s assessment of the situation in Syria. In Ghouta, the jihadis belong to the Nusra front (or one of its rebranded versions), that is, a group with an extreme ideology; they are an Al-Qaeda offshoot. AI’s press release doesn’t mention this salient fact.

Amnesty portrays the Syrian government as at war against its own people — and Aleppo, Ghouta, etc., under siege; and not allowing the population to escape. Although AI similarly condemned the liberation of Aleppo, it didn’t interview these victims after the fact. If it interviews someone — invariably anonymous — it intones sinister fears of the government. For all its faults, the government has popular backing, and it stands in the way of a jihadi project to carve up Syria and ethnically cleanse it.

And there is a double standard

When it comes to Israeli mass crimes AI is rather cautious in the language used and in its recommendations. It is rather coy in mentioning “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”, and reference to the latter is virtually non-existent or couched in exculpatory language (favourite cushioning words: “alleged”, “could be construed as”).  While it sparingly uses these accusations against Israel, it levels the same accusations against Palestinians — it applies a notion that there are crimes “on both sides”.  AI’s harshest admonishment is that Israeli actions are not “proportionate”. There are no appeals to the “international community” which should not stand by, “never again…” One wonders what Amnesty has to say about the Israeli siege of Gaza, where the population has been put “on a diet” causing a dire situation for about 1.8 million people today. In this case, there are no reports, no calls to the “international community” to do anything, no accusations of “crimes against humanity”… AI uses another script altogether.

In the current press release, AI unambiguously states that both Syria and Russia are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. And if this is the case, there is an obligation for other states to act, to intervene.  AI is not requesting an investigation, it is urging intervention.

While in the Israeli case AI states that crimes are committed on both sides, when it comes to Syria it is only the Syrian government that is deemed culpable. It is difficult to remove entrenched well armed jihadis who use residents as human shields. Jihadis dig themselves in and around hospitals and schools [10], and when action is taken against them there, the likes of Amnesty utter their clucking sounds.

In its latest statement AI states: “It must also send a strong message that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be held accountable, by referring the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.” Fair enough. In 2002, Donatella Rovera, an AI researcher on the Middle East, was queried about why AI didn’t make a similar demand to hold Israel accountable at the ICC or ICJ, and she stated that AI didn’t make such demands.[11]  Another standard applies.

An issue about sources…

Amnesty reports several statements made by residents of Ghouta, all giving harrowing accounts of the conditions on the ground. But all the statements blame the government for their predicament. “Like many Syrians, the humanitarian worker expressed deep distrust of the government.” Or “We hear rumours of reconciliation but that can never happen. The government hates us…” And other such unverifiable statements. And who exactly is reporting this? Does AI have a direct line to the “White Helmets”? All Amnesty has to do is compare the statements made before the liberation of Aleppo and the opinion of the residents now. If the residents are pleased with their condition without the jihadis around, then this should be sufficient to question the dubious statements originating from anonymous sources in Ghouta today.

Other examples

Amnesty International doesn’t want you to respect the Syrian government. Reviewing its press releases about Syria, it is all one-sided; the jihadis hardly merit a meaningful rebuke. But no report was as distorted as its multimedia presentation of the purported abuses in the Saydnaya Prison. Here Amnesty’s methodology was on show: accept hearsay, magnify it melodramatically, extrapolate and exaggerate [12]. This is not human rights reportage, it is crass propaganda. The timing of all these so-called reports is also dubious.  On the eve of major reconciliation talks or negotiations, Amnesty publishes a report portraying the Syrian government as beyond the pale. Would anyone want to negotiate with such a party? The timing of several other AI reports coincide with attempts to resolve the conflict via negotiations. The timing of its latest press release coincides with a major Syrian government offensive into Ghouta — and portraying it as criminal in nature.

Human rights are not neutral

Harvey Weinstein, the sexual predator, made Amnesty International USA possible — he provided the funds necessary to establish the organisation. [13] Weinstein didn’t put up the funds because he fancied AI’s lovely researchers.  People put up funds for such organisations to shape the way abuses and crimes are reported. In Weinstein’s case, his ardent devotion to Israel might explain his financial contribution to Amnesty USA. Amnesty is also a conduit to push propaganda desired by those who foster such organisations. The very nature of “human rights”, its very flexible nature, lends itself to prime manipulation.

A Syrian furniture salesman based in Coventry, a small city in the UK, runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Sitting in his living room, he produces reports about the latest atrocities, chemical attacks, and every other sordid detail to tarnish the Syrian government’s image.  He reaches his mysterious sources by phone, invariably someone hostile to the Syrian government. The output of this one-man-band is then used by the BBC, CNN, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal,… and major media outlets to report on the situation in Syria. It is expensive for news organisations to have correspondents on the ground, it is dangerous; so what is better than “human rights” reports obtained for free!  And does Amnesty International rely on SOHR? At least they should footnote their reports.

The main playbook

The US and some of its sidekicks have for decades been engaged in regime change in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America… The usual formula for this is to create civic organisations, e.g., Journalists’ union, Lawyer and Jurist guilds, select Labour unions… and human rights organisations. These people are then trained to exercise political power effectively by staging mass demonstrations, manipulating the media, spreading rumours, disrupting the government — all the way to the take over of parliaments. These are the so-called “colour revolutions”. They tried this in Syria, but opted primarily to arm and organise jihadis. The jihadis are backed by a propaganda machinery, and the US is conducting the largest disinformation/propaganda campaign in Syria today [14]. The essence of the campaign is to tarnish the image of the Syrian government, robbing it of its international legitimacy and support. Human rights reportage is essential to this campaign. By analysing Amnesty International reportage, it is evident that it is part of this campaign; it has weaponised human rights.

Currently there is a major buildup of US warships in the Mediterranean; and the Russian general staff fear that Syria will be the target of a major cruise missile attack.[15]  Possibly, Russian forces will also be targeted. Couple this with the unprecedented black propaganda campaign against Russia in the US and the UK, and it seems very likely that a major shooting war is in the offing. Given that AI has lent itself in previous propaganda campaigns on the eve of wars, one finds that the latest Amnesty International report is merely a leading indicator for such a war. Amnesty International is embedded in a propaganda campaign — it will be cheerleading with blue and white pompons when the humanitarian bombs fall.


[1] AI, “Syria: Seven years of catastrophic failure by the international community”, 15 March 2018.

[2] Diana Johnstone, Fools Crusade, 20 Sep 2002. Johnstone documents the curious case of Jadranka Cijel. NB: AI was alerted to the fact that the accounts by the two women were questionable; it proceeded with the tour anyway.

[3] I have written quite a few articles about Amnesty for Counterpunch. The latest: Amnesty International: Whitewashing Another Massacre, CounterPunch, 8 May 2015.

[4]  Uri Blau, Documents reveal how Israel made Amnesty’s local branch a front for the Foreign Ministry in the 70s, Haaretz, 18 March 2017. Neve Gordon, Nicola Perugini, Israel’s human rights spies: Manipulating the discourse, Al-Jazeera Online, 22 March 2017.

[5] Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley, Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars, Consortium News, 18 June 2012.

[6] Also: Tim Anderson, The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, 2016.

[7] Alexander Cockburn reports that Amnesty was present during a US State Department briefing seeking to justify “humanitarian bombing”. How the US State Dept. Recruited Human Rights Groups to Cheer On the Bombing Raids: Those Incubator Babies, Once More? CounterPunch, April 1999.

[8] Ben Norton , US Ambassador Confirms Billions Spent On Regime Change in Syria, Debunking ‘Obama Did Nothing’ Myth,, 9 February 2018.

[9] Gareth Porter, How America Armed Terrorists in Syria, The American Conservative, 22 June 2017.

[10] Robert Fisk has reported on this fact in several of his articles.  In “the Syrian hospital siege that turned into a massacre”, The Independent, 5 June 2015 there is a reference to tunnels under a hospital. In another article, the same, but at a school.

[11] Israel hasn’t joined the ICC, and thus ICC cannot bring any action against Israel.  ICC is only meant to harass African tinpot dictators.

[12]  John Wight, The Problems With the Amnesty International Report, Sputnik News, 15 February 2017. Important discussion with Peter Ford, the former British ambassador to Syria. Also, Tony Cartalucci, Amnesty International admits Syria’s ‘torture prison’ report fabricated entirely in UK, Sign of the Times, 9 February 2017. And, Rick Sterling, Amnesty International Stokes Syrian War, Consortium News, 11 February 2017.

[13]  Thomas Frank, Hypocrite at the good cause parties, Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2018

[14] Tim Anderson, The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, 2016.

[15] TASS, US preparing strikes on Syria, carrier strike groups set up in Mediterranean, 17 March 2018

Paul de Rooij is a writer living in London. He can be reached at

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Why Berezovsky’s Death in Britain Leaves More Questions Than Answers

Boris Berezovsky

© Sputnik/ Sergey Subbotin
Sputnik – March 23, 2108

Exactly five years ago, fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky was found hanged in his ex-wife Galina’s house in Ascot, Great Britain. Although it is widely believed that the tycoon committed suicide, a British coroner recorded an open verdict in March 2014, saying he could not be absolutely sure that Berezovsky killed himself.

Berezovsky’s apparent suicide became yet another case in a chain of “inexplicable” deaths on British soil that the country’s authorities are not rushing to re-investigate, keeping them top secret.

“You keep everything classified, we [Russia] still do not have access to these materials,” Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko said, addressing a press-conference, March 22, in London. “My question is why does it happen? Apparently, someone is trying to hide some data not only from us but also from the British public.”

Referring to deaths of ex-intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko, businessman Alexander Perepelichny and ex-deputy director of Aeroflot Nikolay Glushkov, Yakovenko emphasized that all inquiries in these cases were classified, while Moscow’s questions pertaining to the investigations still remain unanswered.”In this country [the UK], the people who were linked to secret services — and we know that Litvinenko worked for the British intelligence services, Berezovsky also cooperated with secret services, I do not know whether Perepelichny was an agent, and we still have to understand the situation around Glushkov — they all died, and investigations, information, and documents [related to the cases] remain classified,” the Russian ambassador stressed.

On March 23, 2013 Berezovsky, 67, was found dead on the floor of a locked bathroom with a piece of his black scarf around his neck.

It was reported that the tycoon suffered from depression after being defeated in a court battle over the Sibneft oil group by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2012. Besides losing the multi-billion dollar claim, the fugitive oligarch had to pay Abramovich’s legal costs, which amounted to 35 million pounds ($49,452,900).

Berezovsky’s bodyguard Avi Navama, an Israeli former special forces soldier, recalled that following the resounding defeat, his boss was completely broken and called himself “the poorest man in the world.”A post mortem examination of the body indicated that Berezovsky’s death was consistent with hanging, while no signs of violent struggle were found.

However, in 2014, German forensic scientist Professor Bern Brinkmann, who was hired by members of the tycoon’s family, concluded that Boris Berezovsky had been strangled to death after carrying out thorough examination of the autopsy data.

Having assessed conflicting evidence on the oligarch’s death, UK Coroner Peter Bedford stated on March 28, 2014 that it was “unclear” how Berezovsky died.

“I am not saying that he took his own life, I’m not saying he was unlawfully killed, the burden of proof sets such a high standard that it is impossible for me to say. The evidence I have before me does not fully disclose the means by which Mr. Berezovsky’s death arose,” Bedford said, as quoted by The Telegraph.

Meanwhile, in March 2013 Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov revealed that two months before his death, the oligarch sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Berezovsky asked for forgiveness for his gross mistakes and sought Putin’s permission to return to Russia.However, some Western mainstream media outlets jumped at the opportunity to point the finger of blame at Russia, claiming that the Kremlin had initiated the murder of the magnate, who was known for his support for anti-Russia’s forces in the post-Soviet space in the early 2000s.

Berezovsky’s projects were funded through the International Foundation for Civil Liberties, which he founded in 2000 in New York City. However, after his 2012 defeat in British court, the oligarch halted all his “humanitarian” initiatives.

Speaking to Sputnik, the tycoon’s lawyer Anatoly Borovikov denied the claim that Moscow could have had a hand in Berezovsky’s death. Although Borovikov doubts that his former client was killed, he pointed out that nothing indicated that the magnate would commit suicide.

“When Boris Abramovich [Berezovsky] talked to me, he did not seem to be in a suicidal mood. It was impossible to imagine that he would take his own life,” the lawyer recalled.

Berezovsky had been living in Great Britain since 2000 in a self-imposed exile due to charges of fraud, and abuse of office against him in Russia. It is believed that he left his estate more than 300 million pounds ($424,491,000) in debt when he died.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Facebook Scandal Blows Away ‘Russiagate’

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Startegic Culture Foundation | 23.03.2018

Now, at last, a real “election influence” scandal – and, laughably, it’s got nothing to do with Russia. The protagonists are none other than the “all-American” US social media giant Facebook and a British data consultancy firm with the academic-sounding name Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is being called upon by British and European parliamentarians to explain his company’s role in a data-mining scandal in which up to 50 million users of the social media platform appear to have had their private information exploited for electioneering purposes.

Exploited, that is, without their consent or knowledge. Facebook is being investigated by US federal authorities for alleged breach of privacy and, possibly, electoral laws. Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica looks less an academic outfit and more like a cheap marketing scam.

Zuckerberg has professed “shock” that his company may have unwittingly been involved in betraying the privacy of its users. Some two billion people worldwide are estimated to use the social media networking site to share personal data, photos, family news and so on, with “friends”.

Now it transpires that at least one firm, London-based Cambridge Analytica, ran a profitable business by harvesting the publicly available data on Facebook for electioneering purposes for which it was contracted to do. The harvested information was then used to help target election campaigning.

Cambridge Analytica was reportedly contracted by the Trump campaign for the 2016 presidential election. It was also used during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 when Britons voted to leave the European Union.

This week the British news outlet Channel 4 broadcast a stunning investigation in which chief executives at Cambridge Analytica were filmed secretly boasting about how their firm helped win the US presidential election for Donald Trump.

More criminally, the data company boss, Alexander Nix, also revealed that they were prepared to gather information which could be used for blackmailing and bribing politicians, including with the use of online sex traps.

The repercussions from the scandal have been torrid. Following the Channel 4 broadcast, Cambridge Analytica has suspended its chief executive pending further investigation. British authorities have sought a warrant to search the company’s computer servers.

Moreover, Zuckerberg’s Facebook has seen $50 billion wiped of its stock value in a matter of days. What is at issue is the loss of confidence among its ordinary citizen-users about how their personal data is vulnerable to third party exploitation without their consent.

Cambridge Analytica is just the tip of an iceberg. The issue has raised concerns that other third parties, including criminal identity-theft gangs, are also mining Facebook as a mammoth marketing resource. A resource that is free to exploit because of the way that ordinary users willingly publish their personal profiles.

The open, seemingly innocent nature of Facebook connecting millions of people – a “place where friends meet” as its advertising jingle goes – could turn out to be an ethical nightmare over privacy abuse.

Other social media companies like Amazon, Google, WhatsApp and Twitter are reportedly apprehensive about the consequences of widespread loss of confidence among consumers in privacy security. One of the biggest economic growth areas over the past decade – social media – could turn out to be another digital bubble that bursts spectacularly due to the latest Facebook scandal.

But one other, perhaps more, significant fallout from the scandal is the realistic perspective it provides on the so-called “Russiagate” debacle.

For well over a year now, the US and European corporate news media have been peddling claims about how Russian state agents allegedly “interfered” in several national elections.

The Russian authorities have consistently rejected the alleged “influence campaigns” as nothing but a fabrication to slander Russia. Moscow has repeatedly asked for evidence to verify the relentless claims – and none has been presented.

The US congress has carried out two probes into “Russiagate” without much to show for their laborious endeavors. A special counsel headed up by former FBI chief Robert Mueller has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to produce a flimsy indictment list of 19 Russian individuals who are said to have run influence campaigns out of a nondescript “troll farm” in St Petersburg.

It still remains unclear and unconvincing how, or if, the supposed Russian hackers were linked to the Russian state, and how they had any impact on the voting intentions of millions of Americans.

Alternatively, there is plausible reason to believe that the so-called Russian troll farm in St Petersburg, the Internet Research Agency, may have been nothing other than a dingy marketing vehicle, trying to use the internet like thousands of other firms around the world hustling for advertising business. Firms like Cambridge Analytica.

The whole Russiagate affair has been a storm in a teacup, and Mueller seems to be desperate to produce some, indeed any, result for his inquisitorial extravaganza.

The amazing thing to behold is how the alleged Russian “influence campaign” narrative has become an accepted truth, propagated and repeated by Western governments and media without question.

Pentagon defense strategy papers, European Union policy documents, NATO military planning, among others, have all cited alleged “Russian interference” in American and European elections as “evidence” of Moscow’s “malign” geopolitical agenda.

The purported Russiagate allegations have led to a grave deepening of Cold War tensions between Western states and Russia to the point where an all-out war is at risk of breaking out.

Last week, the Trump administration slapped more sanctions on Russian individuals and state security services for “election meddling”.

No proof or plausible explanation has ever been provided to substantiate the allegations of a Russian state “influence campaign’. The concept largely revolves around innuendo and a deplorable prejudice against Russia based on irrational Cold War-style Russophobia.

However, one possible beneficial outcome from the latest revelations of an actual worldwide Facebook election-influence campaign, driven by an ever-so British data consultancy, is that the scandal puts the claims against Russia into stark, corrective perspective.

A perspective which shows that the heap of official Western claims against Russia of “influencing elections” is in actual fact negligible if not wholly ridiculous.

It’s a mountain versus a hill of beans. A tornado versus a storm in a teacup. Time to get real on how Western citizens are being really manipulated by their own consumer-capitalist cultures.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

European Union Wages Cold War Against Russia – Marine Le Pen

© Sputnik/ Ramil Sitdikov
Sputnik – 23.03.2018

President of the National Front French political party Marine Le Pen has commented on the development of the situation around the poisoning of ex-Russia spy Sergei Skripal during a speech on the Franceinfo radio station.

“I think that something bigger is behind these actions — a strategy aimed at building a wall between the EU and Russia. Judging by my experience of working in the European Parliament, I know that the EU is waging a cold war against Russia, Le Pen, president of the National Front party, said.

Le Pen’s statement comes after a source told Sputnik that a number of European countries were considering expelling Russian diplomats or recalling their ambassadors from Moscow.

The move was prompted by UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s accusations against Russia of poisoning former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats as a punitive measure.

Russia has strongly rejected the accusations and offered assistance in the investigation. However, Moscow’s request for samples of the chemical substance used to poison Skripal was denied. Moscow has also expelled UK diplomats and ordered the British Council to stop its activities in Russia in response to the UK expulsion of Russian diplomats.

Skripal and his daughter have been in hospital in a critical condition since March 4 and are being treated for exposure to what the UK experts believe to be the A234 nerve agent. The UK side claimed that this substance was related to the Novichok class nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson A Categorical Liar

By Craig Murray | March 22, 2018

Evidence submitted by the British government in court today proves, beyond any doubt, that Boris Johnson has been point blank lying about the degree of certainty Porton Down scientists have about the Skripals being poisoned with a Russian “novichok” agent.

Yesterday in an interview with Deutsche Welle Boris Johnson claimed directly Porton Down had told him they positively identified the nerve agent as Russian:

You argue that the source of this nerve agent, Novichok, is Russia. How did you manage to find it out so quickly? Does Britain possess samples of it?

Let me be clear with you … When I look at the evidence, I mean the people from Porton Down, the laboratory …

So they have the samples …

They do. And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, “Are you sure?” And he said there’s no doubt.

I knew and had published from my own whistleblowers that this is a lie. Until now I could not prove it. But today I can absolutely prove it, due to the judgement at the High Court case which gave permission for new blood samples to be taken from the Skripals for use by the OPCW. Justice Williams included in his judgement a summary of the evidence which tells us, directly for the first time, what Porton Down have actually said:

The Evidence
16. The evidence in support of the application is contained within the applications
themselves (in particular the Forms COP 3) and the witness statements.
17. I consider the following to be the relevant parts of the evidence. I shall identify the
witnesses only by their role and shall summarise the essential elements of their
i) CC: Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst
Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the
findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples
tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent OR CLOSELY RELATED AGENT.

The emphasis is mine. This sworn Court evidence direct from Porton Down is utterly incompatible with what Boris Johnson has been saying. The truth is that Porton Down have not even positively identified this as a “Novichok”, as opposed to “a closely related agent”. Even if it were a “Novichok” that would not prove manufacture in Russia, and a “closely related agent” could be manufactured by literally scores of state and non-state actors.

This constitutes irrefutable evidence that the government have been straight out lying – to Parliament, to the EU, to NATO, to the United Nations, and above all to the people – about their degree of certainty of the origin of the attack. It might well be an attack originating in Russia, but there are indeed other possibilities and investigation is needed. As the government has sought to whip up jingoistic hysteria in advance of forthcoming local elections, the scale of the lie has daily increased.

On a sombre note, I am very much afraid the High Court evidence seems to indicate there is very little chance the Skripals will ever recover; one of the reasons the judge gave for his decision is that samples taken now will be better for analysis than samples taken post mortem.

The state and corporate media now have evidence of the vast discrepancy between what May and Johnson are saying, and the truth about the Porton Down scientists’ position. I am afraid to say I expect this to make no difference whatsoever to the propaganda output of the BBC.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Trump’s Call to Putin… A Gesture Amid Ominous Signs

Strategic Culture Foundation | 23.03.2018

It is to be welcomed that US President Donald Trump got on the phone this week to congratulate Russian leader Vladimir Putin over the latter’s presidential election victory last weekend.

Trump said it was “a good call” and that both leaders discussed cooperation on a range of international issues, including avoiding an arms race, North Korea, and Syria. They have reportedly agreed to hold a bilateral meeting soon.

It is deplorable that the leaders of the two most powerful nuclear states have not yet held a full bilateral meeting either in Washington DC or in Moscow. The inertia stems from the American side, despite Trump’s avowed desire to restore friendly relations with Russia.

Trump and Putin have met only briefly on two occasions over the past 14 months since Trump’s inauguration in January 2016. But those meetings were rather passing encounters while both were attending multilateral forums. A summit-style meeting held over several days between the two leaders is long overdue.

But of course, the anti-Russia politics holding sway in the US and among certain American NATO allies have made any such proper meeting a toxic prospect.

Trump is accused of being somehow beholden to Putin due to far-fetched allegations of Russian electoral collusion or interference. Russia on the other hand is assailed for all sorts of imagined transgressions, including alleged aggression in Ukraine.

The polarized geopolitical situation is lamentable. Especially given the apparent willingness on the part of Trump and Putin to make progress towards normalizing relations. The leaders are being held hostage by an agenda of Russophobia pushed by certain political circles in Washington and other Western capitals.

Trump was immediately attacked this week by Republicans and Democrats following his phone call to Putin. He was rebuked for not challenging Putin over allegations of Russian meddling in US elections and over the apparent poisoning of a former British double agent in England earlier this month.

These charges against Russia, like so many others, are ridiculously overblown. Unsubstantiated and unproven, the charges are repeated and multiplied in a climate of hysteria. The British alleged poison case is but the latest classic example from the mold of presumption of Russian guilt without evidence.

Trump was right to make the call to Putin. It is customary diplomatic protocol for world leaders to exchange good wishes over elections. It is only the hyped-up anti-Russia claims over the past few years and in particular the latest episode regarding Britain that have instilled an unwarranted toxicity into what should be normal international relations.

But it is disturbing that the American president was obliged to defend himself from his political detractors over what should have been a normal courtesy call.

The furore over Trump’s call to Putin demonstrates how destructive the bilateral relation between the US and Russia has become.

Trump deserves credit for not caving into the irrational hostility towards Russia shown by too many in Washington and among the US news media.

Nevertheless one phone call and vague pledges of cooperation are far from satisfactory given the ominous geopolitical climate. President Trump may have a reasonable personal view towards Russia, but he appears to be surrounded by a milieu of inveterate hostility towards Moscow.

There are several ominous scenarios for potential catastrophic conflict. American threats to militarily strike Syria over contrived pretexts concerning chemical weapons; the US supplying lethal weapons to the fascistic Kiev regime in Ukraine; and Washington’s threats of sanctions disrupting Russia’s gas exports to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline – are all urgent risks to global peace. Fears of a world war breaking out are not at all misplaced.

American animosity towards Russia, as well as towards China, is strategic and structural in nature. It has to do with American loss of hegemonic power in the context of an emerging multipolar world order. The epochal problem can hardly be resolved through the aegis of individual political leaders working in isolation from systemic causes.

Given the climate of tensions and ominous dangers of confrontation, the American and Russian leaderships must at the very least engage in earnest dialogue to try to transcend systemic contradictions.

The occasional cordial phone call from an American president to the Russian leader is far from satisfactory in the face of global challenges to world peace.

The Russian leadership under President Vladimir Putin has grasped the vital importance of an earnest engagement for world peace. Lamentably, there appears to be no reciprocal American leadership under Donald Trump. That is a foreboding failure of American politics.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Forty Hospitalized, Nobody Intoxicated: Who Has Access to A-234 Nerve Agent

Sputnik | March 23, 2018

Britain’s Skripal case evokes strong memories of Colin Powell’s narrative of Saddam Hussein’s developing weapons of mass destruction, Sputnik contributor Daniele Pozzati writes, stressing that in contrast to the US and the UK, Russia completely destroyed its chemical arms stockpiles.

No one among dozens of patients who went to a Salisbury hospital after the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia has experienced similar symptoms, independent journalist Daniele Pozzati highlighted in his op-ed for Sputnik, citing Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust Stephen Davies’ letter.

On March 14, The Sun reported that “nearly 40 people [had] experienced symptoms related to the Salisbury nerve agent poisoning.” The doctor rushed to deny the claim, stressing in his open letter that there have been only three patients with significant poisoning, namely Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

“Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved,” Davies’ letter reads.

On March 22, news emerged that a second policeman involved in the Skripal probe has shown potential signs of poisoning. However, it was reported that the signs are not on the same scale as those of the Skripals and Bailey, who is now stable. For their part, the Skripals remain in critical condition in hospital.Last week British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of using the A-234 nerve agent in an attempt to kill former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. However, London refused to present samples of the poisonous substance to Russia as well as evidence found during the investigation.

Pozzati pointed out that according to the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the UK ought to provide Russia with the nerve agent used to poison Skripal and give Russia 10 days to respond. Nevertheless, May didn’t provide any evidence to Moscow and gave it just 24 hours to react to London’s ultimatum.

The independent journalist cited Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, who claimed in an interview to The Guardian that the Russian city of Shikhany “was the sole location for development and production” of the A-234 nerve agent.

Pozzati highlighted that although Bretton-Gordon dismissed the assumption that the poisonous substance could be produced in other states of the post-Soviet space, a 1999 report by The New York Times revealed that the US took part in an effort to decontaminate the Chemical Research Institute in Nukus, Uzbekistan.The media outlet noted, citing Soviet defectors and American officials, that “the Nukus plant was a major research and testing site for a new class of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons,” A-234.

Thus, since 1999 the US has had access to gas, Pozzati stressed, adding that for its part Russia completed the destruction of its arsenal of chemical weapons on September 27, 2017.

Commenting on Russia’s move, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, stated: “The completion of the verified destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons program is a major milestone in the achievement of the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

“In contrast, both the United States and the United Kingdom still have a chemical weapons program,” Pozzati highlighted. “The American [chemical weapons] project will be dismantled only in the next five years. In the light of Dr. Davis’s statements, we can face yet another fake a-la Colin Powell’s narrative about the chemical weapons of Saddam Hussein.”

On March 4, the British police found former intelligence agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, unconscious near a shopping center in Salisbury. Following the alleged nerve gas attack, the British government pointed the finger of blame at Moscow despite the investigation into the Skripal case having not been completed. British PM May initiated the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats which triggered a mirror response by Russia.

On March 19, experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) got the samples of the poisonous substance used in a supposed attack against the Skripals. According to the OPCW, it will take at least three weeks to study the nerve agent provided by the British authorities.

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment