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Trump approves 20 million dollars for subversion against Cuba

Radio Rebelde | 2018-03-26

US President Donald Trump approved over the weekend a 20-million-dollar fund to support subversive actions against Cuba.

The move, which is commonplace as part of the permanent US’s anti-Cuba policy, came in after Trump himself had proposed to eliminate such funds in May 2017. The money dedicated to subvert internal order in Cuba is part of the US budget for fiscal 2018.

Despite large cuts by the White House to funds destined to the State Department, the USAID and foreign assistance programs for this year, Washington did not hesitate in allocating the large sum of money also destined by previous US administrations to undertake subversive programs in Cuba under the so-called promotion of democracy projects.

Since 1996, when the Helms-Burton Law was adopted, Washington has used public funds for anti-Cuba programs. The Obama administration proposed 20 million dollars annually for those aims from fiscal 2009 to 2016. Add to these the funds destined to maintain subversive radio and TV transmissions plus the money to fund penetration and intelligence actions.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Israel army to use live ammo to disperse border rallies

MEMO | March 28, 2018

The Israeli army will use live ammunition to disperse planned Friday rallies in the Gaza Strip, according to Israel’s army chief-of-staff.

“We are reinforcing the barriers [along the Gaza-Israel border] while large numbers of [Israeli] soldiers will be stationed in the area to prevent infiltration attempts,” Israeli Army Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot said Wednesday.

Soldiers have received permission to open fire on protesters “if Israeli security infrastructure comes under threat,” Eizenkot told Israeli daily Maariv.

“Last year, hundreds were injured after they tried to destroy parts of the [border] fence,” he said. “We will not stand for this.”

Speaking to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Eizenkot said the Israeli army had deployed more than 100 sharpshooters in advance of Friday’s planned rallies.

“If lives are in jeopardy, [soldiers will have] permission to open fire,” he said.

Eizenkot made the remarks only two days before planned demonstrations during which Gazan protesters hope to converge en masse on the Gaza Strip’s 45-kilometer eastern border with Israel.

Dubbed the “Great Return March”, the event is intended to pressure Israel to lift its decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip and reaffirm the Palestinians’ right to return to their homes in historical Palestine.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its more than two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Return March organizers: Israel’s terrorism will not intimidate us

Palestine Information Center – March 28, 2018

GAZA – National committee for the March of Return, during a press conference held near the Great March of Return’s tent east of Gaza city which was targeted by Israeli gunfire on Wednesday morning, said that Israel will not succeed in terrorizing the Palestinian people.

The committee affirmed that preparations for the Great March of Return are ongoing, calling on the world nations to support this popular movement.

Head of the committee Khalid al-Batsh said that the Great March of Return is a purely peaceful event and that Palestinians are entitled to demand their right of return which is guaranteed by international law.

The PIC reporter said that the Israeli tanks stationed near Gaza’s eastern border fence fired two missiles on Wednesday morning at two sites east of al-Zaitoun neighborhood in Gaza city. No injuries were reported.

Member of the committee Ismail Ridwan warned the Israeli occupation against using violence against the protesters participating in the Great March of Return.

The Islamic Jihad leader Ahmad al-Modallal said that the Israeli occupation is in a state of confusion and trying to thwart this popular movement by various means. He continued to say that Israel will never be able to break the Palestinian will or kill the Palestinian dream of return.

The coordinating committee of the Great March of Return in February announced its intention to launch popular mass demonstrations toward the Palestinian territories occupied since 1948 in demand of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment

China gives shock therapy to US

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | March 28, 2018

Just as a hypothesis was appearing that the United States “marginalized” China in the processes surrounding the North Korean situation, it gets blown to smithereens. The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “unofficial” three-day visit to Beijing is a stark reminder that China is becoming even more central than before in the resolution of the tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

A profound reset of the power dynamic in the Asia-Pacific and internationally has taken place between Sunday and Wednesday. Questions arise as regards the exquisite timing of Kim’s first-ever visit to Beijing, its rich symbolism in this being his first-ever journey abroad after taking the reins of power seven years ago, and what it means.

Both Beijing and Pyongyang must be acutely conscious of the timing. The Xinhua dispatch on the visit cited both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kim openly noting the regional backdrop. Xi noted that this is “a special time” when “positive changes had taken place on the Korean Peninsula”. Kim noted that “the Korean Peninsula situation is developing rapidly and many important changes have taken place” while “a series of major and happy events” have occurred in China too.

The three key elements discernible from the unusually long 2600-word Xinhua report are:

  • Both China and North Korea sense that an open display of fraternal ties is necessary and can be advantageous.
  • The ties by far exceed a friendly inter-state relationship. Xi pointedly recalled the past when the two leaderships “maintained close exchanges and paid frequent calls on each other like relatives.” Equally, ideological affinities were stressed. Kim recalled his father and grandfather. There is an attempt to hark back to the past fervor in the relationship, which is thought to have been a bygone era.
  • Most important, Kim committed himself to the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. But he added the expectation that Seoul and Washington should also respond with goodwill and create an atmosphere of peace and stability on the basis of “progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace.” In return, he secured China’s assurance of support “no matter how the international and regional situation changes.”

No doubt, Kim received an exceedingly warm welcome with several politburo members in attendance. Kim said “he felt he should come in time to inform Comrade General Secretary Xi Jinping in person the situation out of comradeship and moral responsibility.” Xi remarked, “I am willing to keep frequent contacts with Chairman through various forms such as exchange of visits.” Xi and Kim have personally pledged to mentor the relationship and a line of communication opens directly between them. Xi is staking his prestige.

Xinhua made no reference to President Donald Trump or his tentative plan to meet Kim in end-May (although surely, the topic would have figured in the talks.) On the other hand, Xi voiced support for the improvement of inter-Korean ties and peace talks. China’s support strengthens Kim’s hands in the upcoming negotiations with his South Korean counterpart President Moon Jae-in.

Kim has once again shown astuteness and statesmanship by securing China’s support precisely just when it matters most to him. Significantly, Kim’s visit to Beijing comes at a time when the US-China relations are buffeted by adverse currents – Trump’s threat of trade war, the Taiwan Travel Act (designed to encourage high-level contacts between Washington and Taipei), and the US Navy’s freedom of navigation operation last weekend within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly archipelago.

Kim’s visit to Beijing coincided with China’s Liaoning carrier strike group of more than 40 other warships and submarines conducting drills off the coast of Hainan in the South China Sea in a substantial show of force. Even as Xi and Kim were holding talks, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called on a visiting US Congressional delegation to “play a constructive role and work with China to maintain the political and public opinion foundations for China-US relations.”

The US faces a dilemma in the weeks ahead. The recent reshuffle in the State Department and the National Security Council has added to the disarray within the Trump administration. The huge uproar in public opinion over the appointment of John Bolton as the NSA is not helping matters, either. On the other hand, US-Russia tensions are cascading. No one knows whom to dial in Washington.

Beijing is plainly disdainful of Trump’s attempts last week to flex muscle. The signs are that Trump is already backtracking. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was rather “forceful” in her remarks on Tuesday: “I must stress that negotiation is by no means an occasion for one party to make requests in an arrogant and condescending way.”

Having extended a big hand of support, Beijing is enabling Kim to approach the negotiating table from a position of advantage. An editorial in the Global Times notes that a “friendly relationship between China and North Korea is an important strategy to protect their interests… which can enhance regional balance and eliminate some unrealistic motives.”

Kim isn’t going to be a pushover for Trump. There is speculation among US analysts that Trump may not want to square up to Kim just yet. But then, wriggling out of engagement may not be easy if the inter-Korean summit in April creates new momentum for peace. How Trump gets filled in on Xi’s talks with Kim may show which way the wind is blowing.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Patriot system good enough for missile defense?

A recent failure in Saudi Arabia has led to questions over the reliability of the US-made system with some countries opting for a Russian alternative

By Stephen Bryen | Asia Times | March 28, 2018

The Patriot missile system seems to have failed to do its job in Saudi Arabia. Instead of knocking out seven Houthi-fired ballistic missiles, reports from many sources cast doubt on the assessment made by Saudi government authorities.

Video shows that at least one missile not only missed its target, but shortly after launch veered hard right and with its nose pointed down crashed into a Riyadh neighborhood, killing at least one person.

But the errant missile is not the main concern. There is no missile system that is 100% reliable. Sometimes a technical glitch or mechanical malfunction leads to failure.

In the case of the errant Saudi missile, it looks like either the rocket motor performed improperly, pushing the missile off to the right and downward, or the guidance gyro failed. We have seen other rockets, even really big ones like the Long March from China, crash immediately after launch. A spectacular crash in a town adjacent to the launch site occurred on July 2, 2017, when a Long March 5 from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site crashed shortly after launch.

Back in 1996 another Long March 3B smacked into a town near its launch site at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan killing a number of people and destroying property. Again in January, 2018, another Long March 3B crashed shortly after takeoff at Xichang.

Updated and modified Scud missiles

In the case of the Long March, with controversial US help from Space Systems Loral and Hughes Electronics Corporation, China determined that the main gyro of the rocket failed because of a bad solder joint.  The controversy stemmed from alleged violations of US export controls and the fact that the Long March is the same rocket used for China’s ICBMs.

The Patriot is an evolved missile system, constantly updated to take account of new threats. But the rockets fired by the Houthis, which came from Iran [sold to the previous regime well before the current conflict] where they were built following designs from North Korea, are an updated Scud missile but with some notable modifications and improvements. The two most important were removing the rocket fins, which are big radar reflectors, and implementing a separating warhead, making the task of an air defense system far more difficult.

The Houthi missile is called the Burkan H2 (“Volcano”) that is, in fact, an Iranian-made Qiam missile, a licensed design from North Korea based on the Hwasong-6. All of these are variants of the Russian SCUD-C. This class of SCUD has a range of about 750 kilometers, or 470 miles, and a 750 kilogram (1,650 pounds) high explosive fragmentation warhead.

Last November a Houthi Burkhan-2 missile was aimed at the King Khalid International Airport about 35km north of Riyadh. The missile warhead exploded adjacent to the end of the airport runway. Experts think the missile came close to hitting its target consistent with the Burkan CEP (circular error of probability), which is about 500 meters. While no one was injured, the blast shook up people inside the airport terminal.

While claims were made, even by President Trump, that a Patriot missile destroyed the Houthi missile, that claim is dubious because the missile warhead fell within its prescribed target area.

Only 25% hit their target in the 1991 Gulf War

The latest news of attacks on Riyadh and two other locations and videos taken in Riyadh suggests that along with one missile failing and turning hard right and into the city, another missile clearly failed in flight. No one can now say for sure that any of the Patriots actually hit their targets.

Patriot effectiveness has long been an issue. In the 1991 Gulf War, analysis showed that at best 25% of the Patriots hit their target, but hitting a target does not always mean killing a target. In that same war, with Scuds fired at Israel by Saddam Hussein, the incoming rockets were hit, but not always destroyed. Sometimes they were knocked off course or tumbled toward the earth. Evaluations of the Patriot suggested the warhead needed to create a stronger explosion to knock out a ballistic missile.

According to the Times of Israel: “The Patriot air defense system, during the winter of 1991, faced 39 al-Hussein Scud missiles, launched in 19 salvos. The commander of the Israel Air Force at the time, Maj. Gen. (ret) Avihu Ben-Nun, told former IAF pilot and military analyst Reuven Pedatzur after the war that, according to Pedatzur’s testimony before the US Congress, ‘only one al-Hussein warhead was evidently hit by Patriot missiles’.”

But Patriot has “evolved” more toward a hit to kill solution, notably in the PAC-3 version, and away from a warhead blast spewing out metal fragments aimed at tearing up an incoming missile.

The two main problems with the Patriot

It isn’t clear which version of the Patriot the Saudis fired in the most recent engagement, in three locations with a total of seven incoming missiles. The fact that one of the missiles in Riyadh exploded when it hit the ground suggests the missile was a PAC-2 version with an exploding warhead.

Whichever version – and the Patriot has some of the latest radar technology both on the ground and on board the missile – there seems to be two significant problems with it.

The first is that the Patriot is fired when the incoming missile is in the terminal phase of its trajectory, so the Patriot is aiming to hit it only a few thousand feet above the ground and near its target. It would be better to destroy incoming missiles before they can release a separate, and much smaller, warhead which may not show up on radar. In addition, even simple decoys packaged with the warhead could confuse radar detection of the real warhead. It is unlikely the Burkan-2 has any decoys.

Point defense instead of area defense?

PAC 3 is claimed to have a range of 35km, but as the videos of Saudi Patriot launches, and others like those in Israel demonstrate, the intercepts are far closer, at best only a few miles from the end-point target, and only at most a few thousand feet above the surface. Most would agree this is too close for comfort and puts at risk urban populations and high value targets.

Is it the case that despite the sophistication of the Patriot’s radars, it only picks up the missiles when they are very close to the targeted area? Or, alternatively, is the range highly overstated? Or is using the Patriot for point defense instead of area defense not a good idea?

The second problem is target discrimination. From the debris of the King Khalid Airport attack, which has been put on display at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling near Washington DC, what remains of the warhead is mostly twisted metal. But the main rocket body appears in two large chunks, both pieces mostly intact. There is no evidence that even the main body was hit by Patriot shrapnel if struck by a PAC-2 missile; but maybe it was sliced in half by a PAC-3 missile.

But just as easily the missile could have cracked in half when it hit the earth after a free fall. If the PAC-3 “worked,” then it hit the main rocket but failed to hit the separated warhead. This means that the discrimination capability of the Patriot – whichever version – needs improvement, if it can be improved.

None of the Patriot results, at least so far, can be said to be encouraging, despite the fact that the Patriot remains the backbone tactical ballistic missile and air defense system for the United States and for many allies in Europe, the Middle East and in Asia – South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Perhaps it is time for a serious review of the Patriot to see whether it makes sense even in its evolved form, or whether a new system is needed. In the past the Pentagon has backed the Patriot even while sponsoring improvements that, at least so far, don’t seem adequate. And while Raytheon, the Patriot prime contractor, has been immensely successful in marketing the system abroad, the company may see its market shrivel unless the Patriot performs better.

What are the alternatives?

Unless a truly objective review is done, and with it recommendations proposed and implemented, more and more countries will look elsewhere for solutions. Saudi Arabia has already indicated it has signed an MOU to buy the Russian S-400, as has Turkey. South Korea is developing the M-SAM Cheolmae-2 system in an unusual deal.

The air defense system’s prime contractor is the Samsung Group partnered with French electronics firm Thales. But the M-SAM technology is coming in part from the Almaz Joint Stock company in Russia, based on S-400 technology including its X-band radar and missile guidance systems. Others strongly interested in the S-400 are India, Egypt, Iraq and Qatar.

Missile defenses are part of a package of defense assets that help bind friendly countries to the United States. If American defense systems are not up to the job, will countries trust America in future or look elsewhere? Will Russia grab the market and the influence that comes with it?

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

15 Years of War: To Whose Benefit?

By Charles Hugh-Smith | Of Two Minds | March 28, 2018

As for Iraq, the implicit gain was supposed to be access to Iraqi oil.

Setting aside the 12 years of “no fly zone” air combat operations above Iraq from 1991 to 2003, the U.S. has been at war for almost 17 years in Afghanistan and 15 years in Iraq. (If the word “war” is too upsetting, then substitute “continuing combat operations”.)

Since the burdens and costs of these combat operations are borne solely by the volunteers of the U.S. Armed Forces, the American populace pays little to no attention to the wars unless a household has a family member in uniform who is in theatre.

Permanent combat operations are now a barely audible background noise in America, something we’ve habituated to: the human costs are invisible to the vast majority of residents, and the financial costs are buried in the ever-expanding mountain of national debt. What’s another borrowed trillion dollars on top of the $21 trillion pile?

But a nation continually waging war should ask: to whose benefit? (cui bono) As near as I can make out, the nation has received near-zero benefit from combat operations in Afghanistan, one of the most corrupt nations on Earth where most of the billions of dollars “invested” have been squandered or stolen by the kleptocrats the U.S. has supported.

What did the nation gain for the tragic loss of lives and crippling wounds suffered by our personnel and Afghan civilians?

As for Iraq, the implicit gain was supposed to be access to Iraqi oil. As near as I can make out, the U.S. imports about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq, a relatively modest percentage of our total oil consumption of 19.7 million barrels a day.

(Note that the U.S. was importing around 700,000 barrels a day from Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in March 2003–and imports from Iraq declined as a result of the war. So what was the energy-security gain from launching the war?)

Meanwhile, Iraq exports over 2 million barrels a day to China and India, where the presumed benefit to the U.S. is that U.S. corporations can continue to produce shoddy goods using low-cost Asian labor that are exported to U.S. consumers, thereby enabling U.S. corporations to reap $2.3 trillion in profits every year.

(Before China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), U.S. corporate profits were around $700 billion–less than one-third the current gargantuan sum. Isn’t this suggestive of the immense profits gained by offshoring production to Asia and reducing the quality of the goods being manufactured?)

Since “energy security”, i.e. access to oil, was the implicit reason for going to war, let’s ask: were all the sacrifices of lives and limbs and the direct costs of roughly $1 trillion worth the roughly $200 billion in oil that the U.S. has imported from Iraq– and if history is any guide, could have imported without going to war at all?

It’s far easier to blunder into war than it is to blunder out of war. But hey, it’s certainly been profitable for a few at the top of the financial heap.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | 8 Comments

Strange Things Happen to European Countries Resisting George Soros’ Assault

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 28.03.2018

Strange things happen in East and Central Europe that get little mention from media outlets. Two heads of state, the PMs of Slovenia and Slovakia, resigned almost simultaneously. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was a victim of the scandal over the murder of Jan Kuciak, a journalist who was investigating government corruption. The PM had to step down amid mass street protests.

Mr. Fico was known for his support of a stronger Visegrad Group. He opposed Brussels on many issues. It’s worth noting that he called for lifting sanctions and improving relations with Moscow. The PM was adamant that Russia was a reliable energy partner. Is it a coincidence that he was forced to resign amid the anti-Russia campaign triggered by the Skripal case and other obviously concocted stories used as false pretexts for incessant attacks on Moscow? Wasn’t he a threat to the so-called unity of the EU against Russia? He definitely was.

The PM did not hide the fact that his decision was made under great pressure. The ouster was engineered by outside forces, including philanthropist billionaire George Soros. For instance, Slovak President Andrej Kiska had a private meeting with the billionaire in September, 2017. It was a one-on-one conversation. No Slovak diplomat was present there.

According to Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák, “George Soros is a man who has had a major influence on the development in Eastern and Central Europe and beyond. That is a fact that cannot be questioned.” PM Viktor Orbán had this say about the event: “George Soros and his network are making use of every possible opportunity to overthrow governments that are resisting immigration.”

Slovenian PM Miro Cerar was attacked by Soros for his opposition to the EU policy on immigration. George Soros did not hide the fact that he was an ardent opponent of Miro Cerar’s stance. “It is an obligation for Europe to receive migrants,” the US financier lectured Europeans. Now the PM has to go, after the results of a referendum on a key economic project were annulled by the top court and the media attacks on his stance regarding asylum seekers intensified. With Cerar no longer at the helm, the opposition movement to Brussels’s dictatorship has been weakened.

Who’s next? Probably Hungary, which has become a target for Soros’s attacks. The American billionaire has invested more than $400 million into his native country since 1989. He has also announced his intention to influence the Hungarian election campaign and has employed 2,000 people for that purpose. The government wants its “Stop Soros” bills to become laws. No doubt Hungary will come under attack for opposing the financier’s network.

Brussels will raise a hue and cry, criticizing the “undemocratic regime” ruling the country. The next parliamentary elections in Hungary will be held on April 8, 2018. It’ll be a tough fight to preserve independence while fending off attempts to impose US pressure through Soros-backed NGOs and educational institutions.

Soros’s activities are also being resisted in the Czech Republic. Czech President Milos Zeman has accused the groups affiliated with Soros of meddling in his nation’s internal affairs. The financier is urging the EU to lean on Poland and compel it to “preserve the rule of law.”

Macedonia, is also resisting the billionaire-inspired subversive activities that have an eye toward regime change. The “Soros network” has great influence on the European Parliament and other institutions. The scandalous list of Soros’s allies  includes 226 MEPs out of 751. Every third member — just think about that! If that isn’t corruption then what is? The lawmakers being swayed from abroad dance to Soros’s tune. They do what they are told, which includes whipping up anti-Russia hysteria.

Moscow has its own history of dealing with the Soros network. In 2015, George Soros’s Open Society Institute was kicked out of that country as an “undesirable organization” that was established to boost US influence.

It would be really naïve to think that Soros acts on his own. It’s an open secret that the US government flagrantly meddles in other countries’ internal affairs using the billionaire as a vehicle. Europe is an American competitor that needs to be weakened. USAID and the Soros network often team up in pursuit of common objectives. In March 2017, six US senators signed a letter asking the State Department to look into government funding of Soros-backed organizations. But those efforts went nowhere, Foggy Bottom is always on Soros’s side, whatever it is.

Many European countries are engaged in a fierce battle to protect their independence. The financier’s “empire” is chomping at the bit to conquer Europe by means of bribes and subversive NGOs. These countries and Russia are resisting the same threat. Perhaps that’s why the sanctions against Russia are so unpopular among many East European politicians.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sharks Circling Around Corbyn Scent Blood

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | March 27, 2018

After a short reprieve following Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected success in Britain’s general election last year, when he only narrowly lost the popular vote, most of the Labour parliamentary party are back, determined to bring him down. And once again, they are being joined by the corporate media in full battle cry.

Last week, Corbyn was a Soviet spy. This week we’re in more familiar territory, even if it has a new twist: Corbyn is not only a friend to anti-semites, it seems, but now he has been outed as a closet one himself.

In short, the Blairites in the parliamentary party are stepping up their game. Corbyn’s social justice agenda, his repudiation of neoconservative wars of aggression masquerading as “humanitarianism” – lining the coffers of the west’s military-industrial elites – is a genuine threat to those who run our societies from the shadows.

The knife of choice for the Labour backstabbers this time is a wall mural removed from East London in 2012. At that time, before he became Labour leader, Corbyn expressed support on Facebook for the artist, Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One. Corbyn observed that a famous anti-capitalist mural by the left-wing Mexican artist Diego Rivera was similarly removed from Manhattan’s Rockefeller Centre in 1934.

Interestingly, the issue of Corbyn’s support for the mural – or at least the artist – originally flared in late 2015, when the Jewish Chronicle unearthed his Facebook post. Two things were noticeably different about the coverage then.

First, on that occasion, no one apart from the Jewish Chronicle appeared to show much interest in the issue. Its “scoop” was not followed up by the rest of the media. What is now supposedly a major scandal, one that raises questions about Corbyn’s fitness to be Labour leader, was a non-issue two years ago, when it first became known.

Second, the Jewish Chronicle, usually so ready to get exercised at the smallest possible sign of anti-semitism, wasn’t entirely convinced back in 2015 that the mural was anti-semitic. In fact, it suggested only that the mural might have “antisemitic undertones” – and attributed even that claim to Corbyn’s critics.

And rather than claiming, as the entire corporate media is now, that the mural depicted a cabal of Jewish bankers, the Chronicle then described the scene as “a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money”. By contrast, the Guardian abandoned normal reporting conventions yesterday to state in its news – rather than comment – pages unequivocally that the mural was “obviously antisemitic”.

Not that anyone is listening now, but the artist himself, Kalen Ockerman, has said that the group in his mural comprised historical figures closely associated with banking. His mural, he says, was about “class and privilege”, and the figures depicted included both “Jewish and white Anglos”. The fact that he included famous bankers like the Rothschilds (Jewish) and the Rockefellers (not Jewish) does not, on the face of it, seem to confirm anti-semitism. They are simply the most prominent of the banking dynasties most people, myself included, could name. These families are about as closely identified with capitalism as it is possible to be.

There is an argument to be had about the responsibilities of artists – even street artists – to be careful in their visual representations. But Ockerman’s message was not a subtle or nuanced one. He was depicting class war, the war the capitalist class wages every day on the weak and poor. If Ockerman’s message is inflammatory, it is much less so than the reality of how our societies have been built on the backs and the suffering of the majority.

Corbyn has bowed to his critics – a mix of the Blairites within his party and Israel’s cheerleaders – and apologised for offering support to Ockerman, just as he has caved in to pressure each time the anti-semitism card has been played against him.

This may look like wise, or safe, politics to his advisers. But these critics have only two possible outcomes that will satisfy them. Either Corbyn is harried from the party leadership, or he is intimidated into diluting his platform into irrelevance – he becomes just another compromised politician catering to the interests of the 1 per cent.

The sharks circling around him will not ignore the scent of his bloodied wounds; rather, it will send them into a feeding frenzy. As hard as it is to do when the elites so clearly want him destroyed, Corbyn must find his backbone and start to stand his ground.

UPDATE:

This piece in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz by their senior columnnist Anshel Pfeffer sums up a lot of the sophistry (intentional or otherwise) underscoring the conflation of left wing critiques of neoliberalism and globalism with right wing ultra-nationalism and anti-semitism.

Pfeffer writes:

The conspiracy theories of globalist bankers utilizing mainstream media and corrupt neoliberal politicians to serve their selfish sinister purposes, rather than those of ordinary people, are identical whether from left or right.

And on either side, most of the theorists will never admit to being anti-Semitic. They are just “anti-racist” or “anti-imperialist” if on the left, or “pro-Israel” on the right. And most of them really believe they have nothing against Jews, even while parroting themes straight out of the Protocols [of the Elders of Zion].

Notice the problem here. If you are a radical leftist who believes, as generations of leftists before you have done, that military, political, media, and financial elites operate in the shadows to promote their interests, to wage class war, then not only are you a conspiracy theorist, according to Pfeffer, but you are by definition anti-semitic as well. If you believe that an Establishment or a Deep State exists to advance its interests against the great majority, you must hate Jews.

The logic of Corbyn’s critics has rarely been articulated so forthrightly and so preposterously as it is here by Pfeffer. But make no mistake, this is the logic of his critics.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

UK to launch anti-Russian propaganda war as ‘Fusion Doctrine’ defense plan unveiled

RT | March 28, 2018

Britain is preparing for a counter-propaganda war against Russia amid allegations that the Kremlin is spreading fake news regarding the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

Intelligence services will now be tasked with identifying trolling social media platforms in a bid to clamp down on what is deemed by the UK government as ‘misinformation.’ The new instructions are included in the Fusion Doctrine, unveiled as part of the National Security Capability Review, to be published on Wednesday. It seeks to tackle the perceived threat from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), Russia and North Korea.

Increased efforts to tackle fake news come amid security experts alleging, in the Telegraph, that Russia put out more than 20 stories “trying to confuse the picture and the charge sheet” over the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury earlier this month.

It follows reports of Britain sharing “unprecedented levels of intelligence” with countries in a bid to persuade them of Russia’s involvement in the Skripal attack. The material provided includes evidence from the chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, just outside the Wiltshire town. The information was cited as being key to 23 states and NATO expelling dozens of Russian diplomats. The UK usually only shares highly classified documents with fellow ‘Five Eyes’ countries, namely the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn received widespread criticism after failing to squarely point the finger at Russia over the Skripal case in the aftermath of the poisoning. He requested that more evidence be made available and that the channels of international law be utilized before people make allegations against the Kremlin.

While expelling three diplomats from the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman echoed such calls, saying: “I want to see the facts. I will certainly welcome if the United Kingdom presents some evidence that the Russians wanted to kill the double agent Skripal,” Blesk news outlet reported on Tuesday. Zeman has also ordered the Czech counter-intelligence services to investigate whether the A-234 nerve agent, also known as Novichok, could have been produced in his country.

Russia has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has hit out at the UK’s refusal to allow it to assess the agent. It has also criticized Britain for failing to disclose information relating to the case.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to the diplomatic expulsions, saying: “An adequate response will be given to all steps of the United States and the European Union, which we see. This refers to the expulsion of Russian diplomats and the closure of the consulate-general [in Seattle].”

“We demand that the UK provide all available information on this case,” Zakharova added. “To date, Russia has received zero information on what happened. Perhaps this data is not being made public because it includes nothing but political slogans.”

March 28, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Some Further Thoughts on the Skripal Affair

By James O’Neill | OffGuardian | March 28, 2018

Let the jury consider the verdict” the King said. “No, No” said the Queen: “sentence first, verdict afterwards”. “Stuff and nonsense” said Alice.

The furore surrounding the alleged nerve gas poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia shows no signs of abating. It continuously puts one in mind of the quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland at the head of this article.

For those of us with fond of memories of some of the traditional virtues of common-law justice, such as the presumption of innocence, the onus of proof upon the accuser, a verdict based upon evidence beyond reasonable doubt, and a prohibition on prejudicial pre-trial comment, it all seems like a very distant past.

The latest development has been a group of nations, largely in the European Union, but also including United States, Canada, Australia and European minnows like Albania and Macedonia, joining the collective hysteria and expelling, at the time of writing, more than 100 Russian diplomats.

That action will achieve nothing, other than to the poison the cold war atmosphere eagerly promoted by the intellectual lightweights so prominent in the governments from United Kingdom to the United States to Australia. The few sane voices in this cacophony of nonsense, such as those of the governments of Portugal, Greece and Austria, or Die Linke’s Andreas Maurer in Germany who noted in various ways that not jumping to conclusions and actually waiting for the results of the now extant OPCW’s Technical Committee investigation, might be preferable to rushing headlong to a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia, are scarcely heard.

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made similar remarks, only to be savagely attacked by members of his own party, as well as Tory leaders such as May, Johnson and Williamson.

The careful and cautiously worded judgement of Mr Justice Williams released on 22 March 2018 has been largely ignored by the politicians and the mainstream media alike.

Justice Williams was delivering the judgement on an application by the Secretary of State for the Home Department for permission to be given for the taking of blood samples from the Skripals for analysis by the OPCW experts in accordance with the terms of the Convention on the Prevention of Chemical Weapons.

The Skripals were admitted to Salisbury Hospital on 4 March 2018 and it took until 14 March for the British government to invite the OPCW to assist in the technical evaluation of what had caused the Skripal’s illness.

The Judge did not comment on why it took 10 days for this invitation to issue, particularly as the Russian government had correctly pointed out that it should have been done much earlier in accordance with the article 9 of the Convention.

Indeed, May had issued peremptory demands for Russia to, in effect, prove its innocence within 36 hours. The application by the Home Department was necessary as the Skripals, because of their stated medical condition (in a coma, but stable) were unable to give an informed consent. The Judge presumed, probably correctly, if they were able to give consent they would do so. They have a greater interest than anyone else in determining who was responsible and holding them (or their government) to account.

The Russian government, which clearly was an interested party as among other reasons Ms Skripal was a Russian citizen, was not a party to the proceedings, nor, it seems, were they even advised that the application was being made. The Russian government have certainly stated that, and the British government has made no denial.

The absence of the Russians from the application would ordinarily have invited a query from the Judge. He may well have done so, but as the proceedings were held in camera, we cannot establish that. His Honour appears to have accepted a submission from Mr Sachdeva QC, acting for the Skripals, that the Russian authorities had made no attempt to seek access to the Skripals or their medical records.

This is prima facie highly improbable, particularly given the case’s high profile. The Russian government to the contrary has claimed that all their requests for access, medical details and related evidence were ignored or refused by the British government.

It is not possible to definitively resolve that conflict, but the weight of logic, common sense and the evidence we do have would tend to support the Russian position.

There is no reason at this point to question the integrity of the OCPW technical evaluation. It seems likely however, that they may well not be able to ascertain precisely what substance was used to affect the Skripals. Almost certainly, neither will they be able to specify its precise origins, much less who administered it. More than three weeks after the attack we still have no clear idea as to how the poison, if that is indeed what it is, was administered.

That qualified conclusion, which is surely known to the British government, may be a major reason why such a huge propaganda effort is currently being made before the likely inconclusive results are published. It may also account for the meaningless terminology used in statements by the UK government and others that the poison was “of a type developed by Russia.”

That statement in itself is inaccurate. It has zero evidential value, but is clearly seen as having a powerful propaganda effect. Most casual readers of the mainstream media or viewers of the BBC and their foreign equivalents will be unaware of any of the history of nerve agents, or their possession and use by multiple countries, not least the United Kingdom itself.

Perhaps the most depressing conclusion to be drawn from this saga is the one expressed by the commentator known as the Saker (What Happened to the West I was born in? 26 March 2018). He argues that during the previous Cold War, although the West was hardly a knight in shining armour, the rule of law did matter, as did some degree of critical thinking. Now, the West is ruled by an “ugly gang of ignorant, arrogant psychopaths”.

Their hubris will lead to making fatal miscalculations about the degree of Russian resolve, and the ability of Russia, (as was demonstrated so effectively by Putin in his address to the joint sitting of the Russian Parliament on 1 March 2018), that rather than “shutting up and going away”, as Williamson hoped, the simple fact is that Britain will be a heap of radioactive ashes long before Russia “goes away”.

It is significant that China’s Global Times, an official voice for the thinking of the Chinese government, sees the current attack on Russia as a prelude to a similar assault upon China as the crumbling Anglo-American Empire tries to maintain its hegemony. China has not joined the Western chorus of condemnation of Russia. Instead it sees what it describes as the “Russia China comprehensive strategic collaborative partnership” as the best safeguard against Western attack. It is for this reason that the Saker is probably too pessimistic. For the sake of our grandchildren one hopes that he was indeed wrong.

James O’Neill is a Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Former Catalan Education Minister Ponsati Going to Surrender to UK Authorities

© REUTERS/ Russell Cheyne
Sputnik – March 28, 2018

Former Catalan Education Minister Clara Ponsati, who has been hiding from Spanish law enforcement in the United Kingdom, said Wednesday that she was going to surrender to UK authorities.

“Later on this morning I will attend police station with my lawyer @AamerAnwar & will b arrested & taken 2court as Spain tries 2extradite me, I need ur support,” Ponsati wrote on Twitter.

According to Spanish media, a UK judge will decide on the measure of restraint for her later in the day.

On Tuesday, the politician began raising funds online for her legal defense, saying that her goal was to get 40,000 pounds ($56,600). As of now, the campaign managed to raise almost 100,000 pounds.

Charges Against Ponsati

On October 1, Catalonia held an independence referendum, which the central authorities did not recognize. The results showed that the majority of Catalans supported secession, and the regional parliament unilaterally announced independence later in October. In response, Madrid imposed direct rule over the autonomous region, dissolved the Catalan parliament and called a snap election. Several pro-independence leaders were jailed, while others fled to Belgium.

Following the independence vote, Ponsati fled to Belgium with former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and three other regional politicians. In March, Ponsati moved back to Scotland and her position as a professor at St. Andrews University.On Friday, the Spanish Supreme Court activated a European arrest warrant for a number of Catalan politicians, including Puigdemont and Ponsati. Shortly after, Puigdemont was detained in Germany after he crossed the border with Denmark on his way from Finland to Belgium.

According to the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office, Ponsati was responsible for allowing polling places to stay open in schools during the referendum. She is charged with organizing an insurrection — which under Spanish law can mean a prison sentence of up to 30 years — as well as embezzlement of state funds.

READ MORE:

Former Catalan President Puigdemont Detained in Germany

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

West Wants Total Partition and Defeat of Russia – Analyst

© Sputnik/ Vitaliy Belousov
Sputnik – March 27, 2018

On Monday, a number of European countries, as well as the United States and Canada, announced they were expelling Russian diplomats over the Skripal case. Radio Sputnik discussed the significance of the diplomatic response by the Western powers with Srdja Trifkovic, a US journalist and writer on international affairs.

Sputnik: What is your overall assessment about what has happened with this diplomatic response by so many countries? How significant is it?

Srdja Trifkovic: The overall impression is that rational discourse has given way to collective hysteria and that it is indeed remarkable. The extent to which the bandwagon has successfully started rolling while we don’t even have elementary answers to the questions concerning the case itself.

The second important and discouraging aspect is that continental European countries have followed the Anglo-American lead in Russophobia and this represents a further trial of the Atlanticist domination over Europe. It is indeed remarkable when both Germany and France, the putative leaders of independent European foreign policy, have been reduced to the status of automatic followers of the lead supported by Washington especially when we bear in mind that the initial round of sanctions in 2014 against Russia was dictated by the United States which had nothing to lose in the proceedings and to the detriments of Europeans’ interests.

So overall I think that, one we have the hysterical phase of Russophobic discourse in the West which is not amenable to any rational arguments and two, we have a successful degradation of European diplomacy to the status of pliant satellites comparable to East Germany and Bulgaria vis-à-vis Brezhnev.

Sputnik: Do you think there was some classified evidence that was presented that proves beyond a shadow of doubt that Russia was involved or do you think that the fact that there are 11 countries who have not joined in the protest perhaps hints at the fact that this was not the case?

Srdja Trifkovic: Well, first of all, I would say that President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and others would not have made such categorical denials of Russian involvement if there was any possibility of a smoking gun which could effectively show to the world that they were not telling the truth.

And secondly, it is always possible to present some equivocal evidence in the form that even if that indicates the modus operandi of intelligence agencies nevertheless does not disclose outright state secrets. In fact, we’ve seen that in the past and I don’t think that it would be possible for such confidential information to be disclosed to the diplomats and foreign ministers of EU countries as divergent as the 27 are, without risking these very sources.

So I really believe that if you look at the countries which have taken measures against Russia, they almost read like who is who of those who are prepared to follow the US lead and if you look at those reluctant to do so, including Austria, Hungary, Cyprus, Greece, we are looking at those who actually have a more independent foreign policy. So I don’t think it’s a reflection of the quality of possible intelligence, it is simply a reflection of the determination of decision-makers of those countries to preserve a modicum of independence.

Sputnik: What would you say about the level to which the actions that were actually taken by individual countries? What can you say about the numbers game that’s being played? What do you think determined the number of diplomats?

Srdja Trifkovic: Some of these countries are absolutely insignificant countries like the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which also expelled one Russian and it’s just a pathetic non country. On the other hand in the United States obviously it is a matter of regret that President Trump’s initially stated intention to have detente with Russia has been subverted by the deep state, it is a long story but now we have really reached the end of the road with the appointment of Pompeo to State Department and Bolton as the national security adviser.

So we can really look at Trump as the would-be drainer of the swamp who has been swallowed by the swamp. And I think that we are in for a long haul. I was in Moscow two weeks ago and coming again next week and sometimes I am surprised that some of my Russian interlocutors are insufficiently aware of the animosity or end of the rule Russophobic sentiment that currently prevails among the Western elites, both political and academic and media. It’s almost pathetic when some Russians still use the term “our Western partners,” because for partnership you need to have a modicum of mutual respect and trust and these people really seriously want to destroy Russia.

They want to delegitimize the Russian political system and process as we have seen with the public commentary on President Putin’s re-election and they want nothing short of regime change, which would then lead to a permanent and irreversible change of Russia’s national character and possibly the country’s partition along the lines allocated by Zbigniew Brzezinski. With these people partnership is impossible and Russia needs to be prepared for a long and sustained period of confrontation.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment