Aletho News


Russia rejects Hague court order to compensate Ukrainian companies as illegitimate

RT | May 11, 2018

Russia has rejected the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s order to compensate Ukrainian companies for losses, allegedly stemming from the 2014 Crimea reunification, saying that the issue was outside the jurisdiction of The Hague.

The Russian Justice Ministry made the statement after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of 18 Ukrainian companies that sought compensation from the Russian government over damages allegedly inflicted as a result of the 2014 reunification of the Crimean Republic and the Russian Federation.

The court did not disclose other details of the lawsuit, but the Justice Ministry told Russian news agency RBC that the Ukrainian plaintiffs want about $140 million plus interest.

“The Russian Federation does not recognize the above mentioned decision because the court of arbitration is outside the jurisdiction allowing it to look into this case,” reads the Justice Ministry’s statement.

Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow did not consider itself a party in the process and therefore had no intention to comply with the ruling. “Russia was not represented in this court in any way, we have not sent our representative to this process and this is why we do not consider ourselves a party in this trial,” he said.

Russia has already faced huge compensation claims in The Hague Arbitration Court. It happened after the 2014 decision which called on Russia to pay about $50 billion to shareholders in Yukos Oil Company, dissolved after its founder and key owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was jailed over embezzlement and major tax evasion.

The 2014 ruling led to temporary freeze of some Russian assets abroad, including a plot of land on which a new Orthodox cathedral in Paris is located and Moscow’s stake in the Euronews TV channel.

Moscow appealed the decision, also claiming the judgement did not fall within the jurisdiction of the arbitration court. In mid-2016 Russia won the appeal and by late 2017 former Yukos shareholders completely withdrew their claims and the freezes on the Russian property were lifted.

Read more:

Ex-Yukos shareholders give up fight for Russian assets in France

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Western Media Shorthand on Venezuela Conveys So Much

teleSUR | May 10, 2018

Over the years Western media have developed a journalistic shorthand of repetition, for conveying distortions and imperial hypocrisy about Venezuela.

A Reuters article (4/18/18) reports that the European Union “could impose further sanctions on Venezuela if it believes democracy is being undermined there.”

The line nicely illustrates the kind of journalistic shorthand Western media have developed, over years of repetition, for conveying distortions and whitewashing gross imperial hypocrisy about Venezuela. A passing remark can convey and conceal so much.

The EU’s sincerity in acting on what it “believes” about Venezuelan democracy is unquestioned by the London-based Reuters. Meanwhile Spain, an EU member, is pursuing the democratically elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, for the crime of organizing an illegal independence referendum last year. Weeks ago, he was arrested in Germany at Spain’s request, and other elected representatives have been arrested in Catalonia, where Spain’s federal government deposed the elected regional government after the referendum.

In July 2017, a few months before the referendum in Catalonia, Venezuela’s opposition also organized an illegal referendum. One of the questions asked if the military should obey the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which was an extremely provocative question, given the opposition’s various efforts to overthrow the government by force since 2002.  The referendum required an extremely high level of political expression, organization and participation. It allegedly involved 7 million voters.

The Venezuelan government disregarded the results—as Spain disregarded the Catalan referendum results—but unlike Spain, did not jail people for organizing it, or send police to brutally repress voters. In fact, two weeks later, Venezuelan voters (overwhelmingly government supporters, since the opposition boycotted and did not field candidates) were violently attacked by opposition militants when they elected a constituent assembly. The attacks resulted in several deaths.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has hardly failed to call attention to the hypocrisy of both the EU and Spain, but the Reuters article made no mention of it.

Reuters also reported that “the country’s two most popular opposition leaders have been banned from competing” from Venezuela’s presidential election on May 20. Reuters didn’t name the two supposedly “most popular opposition leaders,” but in the past (e.g., 4/12/18, 2/28/18, 2/19/18) the wire service has identified them as Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles. As it happens, according to the opposition-aligned pollster Datanalisis, whose results have been uncritically reported by Western media like Reuters for years, opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón has been significantly more popular than Capriles in recent months, and barely less so than Lopez.

Mark Weisbrot (in an opinion piece for U.S. News, 3/3/18) broke the news that U.S. government officials had been secretly pressuring Falcón not to run, so that the election could be discredited as including no viable opposition candidate. Two weeks later, Reuters (3/19/18) discreetly reported Weisbrot’s scoop.

However, by far the most important thing Reuters neglects telling readers about the “two most popular opposition leaders” is that had they done in the EU what they’ve done in Venezuela since April 2002, Lopez and Capriles would both be serving long jail terms.

Capriles and Lopez together led the kidnapping of a government minister during a briefly successful U.S.-backed military coup in 2002 that ousted Venezuela’s democratically elected president, the late Hugo Chávez, for two days. Lopez boasted to local TV that the dictator installed by the coup (whom Lopez called “President Carmona”) was “updated” on the kidnapping.

Imagine what Carles Puigdemont’s predicament would be if, rather than organizing a peaceful referendum, he had participated in a foreign-backed, ultimately unsuccessful military coup against the Spanish government. Needless to say, running for public office would not be on the table. That would be the least of his worries.

In Venezuela, Capriles eventually served a few months in prison for participating in the coup, while Lopez avoided doing any time, thanks to a general amnesty granted by Chávez. Lopez was finally arrested in 2014 for leading another violent effort to overthrow the government.

I’ve reviewed before (teleSUR, 1/9/18) violent efforts to overthrow the government that Lopez, Capriles and other prominent opposition leaders have been involved with since the 2002 coup. I also described how Julio Borges and Henry Ramos (two other prominent opposition leaders) have openly sought to starve the Venezuelan government of foreign loans as it struggles with a severe economic crisis.

In August, Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s entire economy that will cost Maduro’s government billions of dollars this year (, 3/22/18). It has threatened to go even further, brandishing an oil embargo or even a military attack. With sufficiently compliant media (and the collusion of big human rights NGOs like Amnesty International), such depravity becomes possible.

The Reuters article also says that Venezuela’s economic “collapse has driven an estimated 3 million people to flee the country.” No need to tell readers when the economic “collapse” began—2014—much less who made the estimates or if other sources contradict them. In fact, the U.N.’s 2017 population division numbers estimate Venezuela’s total expat population as of 2017 at about 650,000—only about 300,000 higher than it was when Chávez first took office in 1999. Even a group of fiercely anti-government Venezuelan academics estimated less than 1 million have left since the economic crisis began. (See, 2/18/18.)

Cherry-picked statistics aside, when Western powers want a democratically elected government overthrown, the approach is clear. Complete tolerance for violent foreign-backed subversion—which the powerful states and their allies would never be expected to tolerate—becomes the test for whether or not a state is a democracy. The targeted government fails the test, is depicted as a dictatorship, and all is permitted. Only the tactics required to bring it down need be debated.

Joe Emerberger is a writer based in Canada whose work has appeared in Telesur English, ZNet and Counterpunch.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 3 Comments

Dawabsheh Family Survives Second Arson attack by Jewish Settlers

A Palestinian girl stands in her living room after it was set alight by Jewish settlers in the West Bank on 11 May 2018 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]
MEMO | May 11, 2018

Jewish settlers set fire to a house belonging to the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus early this morning, according to eyewitness.

“A group of settlers attacked my home at dawn today, breaking a window and throwing a Molotov cocktail inside before fleeing the scene,” Yasser Dawabsheh said.

“We were lucky that I was able to hear them when they attacked, so I was able to evacuate all my family,” he said.

“Fire crews reacted quickly and put out the fire before the whole house burnt down,” he added.

Police are reportedly investigating the incident.

In July of 2015, Israeli settlers torched the Dawabsheh family home in an attack that claimed the lives of Saad and Riham Dawabsheh and their 18-month-old baby.

Their eldest son, Ahmed, 6, survived the attack, but suffered severe burns that have affected his mobility.

The attack sparked international outrage, with the family accusing Israel of dragging its feet in prosecuting the suspects, despite admissions by Israeli officials that they knew who was responsible.

Read also: Palestinian hospitalised after settler drives in to him

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli Weapons Among Arms Handed Over to Syrian Army By Terrorists in Damascus

Sputnik | May 11, 2018

The Syrian Army, backed by the wider coalition of government forces, has made sweeping gains in Damascus in recent months, liberating the entire East Ghouta region via operation Damascus Steel, and recovering chunks of territory in south Damascus, where the Daesh terror organization maintains a presence.

Terrorists in the south Damascus towns of Babila, Yelda and Beit Sahem handed over their “medium and heavy weapons” to the Syrian Army on Friday, according to reports by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA.) The militants will now be transported to the Idlib governorate as part of the agreed transfer deal.

A local SANA reporter said the militants handed over an array of armaments, including weapons produced by Israel. The list of relinquished weapons includes machine guns, sniper rifles, mortar launchers, improvised explosives and landmines.

Both Iran and Syria have accused Israel of aiding terrorists, including Daesh fanatics, in Syria, especially in Damascus and near the Golan Heights.

Tehran described the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) attack against Syria on May 10 as Tel Aviv’s latest attempt to assist terrorists in the country, who have suffered a string of defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces, backed by their Russian and Iranian allies.

The reporter said that some of these weapons had been used in recent attacks on civilian and military facilities in Damascus.

Earlier in the day, terrorists in another area of the south Damascus pocket fired rockets at a government-held neighborhood, injuring three civilians, SANA reported, citing an informed source in the Damascus Police Command.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Russia ‘not in talks’ with Syria to supply S-300, says top Kremlin aide

Press TV – May 11, 2018

Russia is not in talks with the Syrian government about supplying advanced S-300 missile defense systems to Syria in an effort to bolster the war-torn Arab nation’s defensive capabilities, a top Kremlin aide says.

Vladimir Kozhin said on Friday that Russia was neither supplying S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Syria nor negotiating a potential delivery to Damascus.

Kozhin, who oversees Russian military assistance to other countries, added that the Syrian forces had “everything they needed.”

“For now, we’re not talking about any deliveries of new modern (air defense) systems,” Russian newspaper Izvestia cited Kozhin as saying when asked about the possibility of supplying Syria with S-300.

The comments come against the backdrop of a visit to Moscow by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has played down the idea that Moscow performed a U-turn on the missile question or that any decision was linked to Netanyahu’s visit. Peskov declined to comment on Kozhin’s remarks, stressing that it would be wrong to connect those statements with the Israeli premier’s visit to Moscow.

“We never announced these deliveries as such. However, we said that after the strikes [by the US, France and the UK on Syria], Russia reserves the right to do whatever it deems necessary,” Peskov explained.

Russia last month hinted that the US missile strikes against Syria had removed any moral obligation for Moscow not to deliver S-300 to Syria.

On April 14, the United States, France and the United Kingdom carried out a missile attack on a number of targets in Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack in Douma that reportedly took place on April 7. Syria has rejected any role in the alleged attack, which is yet to be investigated.

Following the strikes, Russia announced it may consider giving Syria S-300 systems so it can defend itself in the face of such acts of aggression.

The announcement has raised fears in Israel, which has been conducting frequent air raids against various targets in Syria in support of anti-Damascus militants. The regime’s attacks against Syrian military positions have become more frequent over the past months, amid major victories achieved by Syrian forces over terrorist groups across the country.

In the latest aggression, Israel on early Thursday attacked dozens of targets inside Syria in what the Tel Aviv regime claimed was its most extensive strike against the Arab country in decades.

Syria currently relies on a mixture of less advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft systems to defend its air space.

The S-300 missile system fires missiles from trucks and is designed to shoot down military aircraft and short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Skripals Will Most Likely Never be Allowed to Talk

The Saker • Unz Review • May 11, 2018

There have been major developments this week, all of them bad, including Putin re-nominating Medvedev as his Prime Minister, and Bibi Netanyahu invited to Moscow to the Victory Day Parade in spite of him bombing Syria, a Russian ally, just on the eve of his visit. Once in Moscow, Netanyahu compared Iran to, what else, Nazi Germany. How original and profound indeed! Then he proceeded to order the bombing of Syria for a second time, while still in Moscow. But then, what can we expect from a self-worshiping narcissist who finds it appropriate to serve food to the Japanese Prime Minister in a specially made shoe? The man is clearly batshit crazy (which in no way makes him less evil or dangerous). But it is the Russian reaction which is so totally disgusting: nothing, absolutely nothing. Unlike others, I have clearly said that it is not the Russian responsibility to “protect” Syria (or Iran) from the Israelis. But there is no doubt in my mind that Netanyahu has just publicly thumbed his nose at Putin and that Putin took it. For all my respect for Putin, this time he allowed Netanyahu to treat him just like Trump treated Macron. Except that in the case of Putin, he was so treated in his own capital. That makes it even worse.

[Interestingly, while whining about “Nazi Iran” Netanyahu did say something truly profound and true. He said “an important history lesson: when a murderous ideology emerges, one has to push back against it before it is too late”. That is indeed exactly what most people across the world feel about Israel and its Zionist ideology but, alas, their voice is completely ignored by those who rule over them. So yes, it sure looks to me like it is becoming “too late” and that the consequences for our collective cowardice – most of us are absolutely terrified from speaking the plain truth about our Zionist overlords – will cost us all a terrible price.]

Then, of course, there is Donald Trump pulling out of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in spite of Iran’s full compliance and in spite of the fact that the US does not have the authority to unilaterally withdraw from this multilateral agreement. But being the megalomaniac that he is, and not to mention the spineless lackey of the Israel Lobby, Trump ignored all that and thereby created further tensions between the US and the rest of the world whom the US will now blackmail and bully to try to force it to support the US in its rabid subservience to Israel. As for the Israelis, their “sophisticated” “strategy” is primitive to the extreme: first get Trump to create maximal tensions with Iran, then attack the Iranians in Syria as visibly and arrogantly as possible, bait the Iranians into a retaliation, then bellow “OI VEY!!!” with your loudest voice, mention the Holocaust once or twice, toss in a “6 million people” figure, and get the US to attack Syria.

How anybody can respect, never mind admire, the Israelis is simply beyond comprehension. I sure can’t think of a more contemptible, nasty, psychopathic gang of megalomanical thugs (and cowards) than the Israelis. Can you?

Nonetheless, it appears undeniable that the Zionists have enough power to simultaneously force not one, but two (supposed) superpowers to cave into their demands. Not only that, they have the power to do that while also putting these two superpowers on a collision course against each other. At the very least, this shows two things: the United States has completely lost its sovereignty and is now an Israeli protectorate. As for Russia, well, she is doing comparatively better, but the full re-sovereignization the Russian people have voted for when they gave their overwhelming support to Putin will not happen. A comment I read on a Russian chat put it: “Путин кинул народ – мы не за Медведева голосовали” or “Putin betrayed the people – we did not vote for Medvedev”. I am not sure that “betrayed the people” is fair, but the fact that he has disappointed a lot of people is, I think, simply undeniable.

It is still way too early to reach any conclusions at this point, and there are still way too many unknown variables, but I will admit that I am very worried and that for the first time in 4 years I am having major doubts about a fundamental policy decision by Putin. I sure hope that I am wrong. We will find out relatively soon. I just hope that this will not be in the form of a major war.

In the meantime, I want to refocus on the Skripal case. There is one outright bizarre thing which I initially dismissed, but which really is becoming disturbing: the fact that the Brits are apparently holding Sergei and Iulia Skripal incommunicado. In other words, they have been kidnapped.

There was this one single telephone call between Iulia Skripal and her sister, Victoria, in which Iulia said that she was okay (she was clearly trying to reassure Victoria) but it was clear that she could not speak freely. Furthermore, when Victoria mentioned that she would want to visit Iulia, the latter reply ‘nobody will give you a visa’. After that – full silence. The Russian consulate has been making countless requests to have a visit, but all that the Brits have done since is have Scotland Yard post a letter which was evidently not written by Iulia and which said “I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can. At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them”. What friends?! What family?! Nonsense!

Her sister tried to contact her many times through various channels, including official ones, and then in total despair, she posted the following message on Facebook:

My darling sister, Yulia! You are not communicating with us, and we don’t know anything about you and Sergey Victorivich. I know that I have no right to interfere in your affairs without asking your permission, but I worry too much. I worry about you and your dad. I also worry about Nuar. [Nuar is Yulia Skrial’s dog, whom she left to stay at a kennel center, while she was traveling to the UK.] He is now at the dog hotel, and they want to get paid. We have to decide something what to do with him. I am ready to take him and to take care of him until you come back home. Besides Nuar, I am concerned about your apartment and your car. Nothing has been decided about their safety and maintenance. We can help with all that, but I need your power of attorney in my or my sister Lena’s name. If you think that all of these is important, draw up a power of attorney form in a Russian consulate in any country. If you won’t do that, we will understand and won’t interfere in your affairs.


No reply ever came.

I just entered the following query into Google: “Skripal”. April 10th has an entry saying that she was released from the hospital. That is the most recent one I have found. I looked on Wikipedia, the same thing, there is nothing at all.

I have to admit that when I first heard the Russian complaints I figured that this was no big deal. I thought “the Brits told the Skripals that Putin tried to poison them, they are probably afraid, and possibly still sick from whatever it is which made them sick, but the Brits would never outright kidnap two foreign citizens, and most definitely not in such a public way”.

I am not so sure anymore.

First, let’s get the obvious one out of the way: the fear for the security of the Skripals. That is utter nonsense. The Brits can organize a meeting between а Russian diplomat in the UK at a highly protected UK facility, with tanks, SAS Teams on the standby, helicopters in the air, bombers, etc. That Russian diplomat could speak to them through bullet-proof glass and a phone. And, since the Russians are all so dangerous, he can be searched for weapons. All which the Skripals need to do is to tell him/her “thank you, your services are not needed”. Conversation over. But the Brits refuse even that.

But let’s say that the Skripals are so totally terrified of the evil Russians, that they categorically refuse. Even by video-conference. It would be traumatic for them, right? Okay.

What about a press conference then?

Even more disturbing is that, at least to my knowledge, nobody in the western corporate media is asking for an interview with them. Snowden can safely speak from Russia and address even large conferences, but the Skripals can’t speak to anybody at all?

But here is the worst part of this: it has been two months already since the Skripals are held in total secrecy by the UK authorities. Two months, that is 60 days. Ask any specialist on interrogation or any psychologist what kind of effect 60 days of “specialized treatment” can do to a person.

I am not dismissing the Russian statements about “kidnapping” anymore. What I see is this: on substance, the Skripal false flag has crashed and burned, just like MH17 or the Douma chemical attack, but unlike MH17 or Douma, the Skripals are two witnesses whose testimony has the potential to result in a gigantic scandal, not just for the May government, but for all those spineless Europeans who showed “solidarity” with Britain. In other words, the Skripals will probably never be allowed to speak freely: they must either be killed or totally brainwashed or disappeared. Any other option would result in a scandal of planetary magnitude.

I can’t pretend like my heart goes out to Sergei Skripal: the man was an officer who gave an oath and who then betrayed his country to the British (he was a British agent, not a Russian one as the press writes). Those holding him today are his former bosses. But Iulia? She is completely innocent and as of April 5th (when she called her sister Victoria), she was clearly in good health and with a clear mind. Now she has been disappeared and I don’t know which is worse, the fact that she might never reappear or that she might one day reappear following months of British “counseling”. As for her father, he paid for his betrayal and he too deserves a better fate than being poisoned, used and then disappeared.

In the big scheme of things (the Zionists war against our entire planet), two individuals like Sergei and Iulia Skripal might not matter. But I think that the least we can do is to remember them and their plight.

This also begs the question of what kind of society we live in. I am not shocked by the fact that the British state would resort to such methods (they have always used them). I am shocked that in a so-called western “democracy” with freedom, pluralism and “European values” (whatever that means) the Brits could get away with this.

How about some “solidarity” with the Skripals – you, Europeans?!

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Would Sherlock Holmes Have Made of the Government’s Explanation of the Case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal?

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | May 10, 2018

In an article on 3rd May, the Guardian journalist, Luke Harding, made the following rather amusing observation:

“Since the Skripals were found stricken on a park bench, Downing Street has stuck to one version of events. Theresa May says it is ‘highly likely’ Moscow carried out the attack using a Soviet-made nerve agent. Only the Kremlin had the motive to kill its former officer, she argues.”

The funny part, in case you didn’t spot it, was his claim that Downing Street has stuck to one version of events. He is of course correct, but what he doesn’t tell his readers is that this one version of events has had a plethora of sub-narratives attached to it, none of which have been able to remotely support the main thesis. Sticking to one version of events is reasonable only inasmuch as that version can be supported by facts. On the other hand, if the version of events being stuck to is not supported by the facts, or if the “facts” constantly change, or if the “facts” are contradictory, then sticking to it is a measure not of reasonableness, as Mr Harding implies, but rather of absurdity, folly and irrationality.

G. K. Chesterton once cautioned us against the propensity towards indefinite scepticism:

“Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

This is very true. But there is another, equally insidious, ditch which must be avoided. Let’s put it like this:

“Closing your mind too quickly can be worse than nothing. The object of closing the mind, as of closing the mouth, is to make sure that when you do, you have something solid inside.”

So is the narrative that Downing Street closed on so quickly after the incident solid? Does it stand up to scrutiny? Let’s see.

The Claim

The basic claim of the UK Government is as follows:

On 4th March 2018, Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent, which had been put on the handle of Mr Skripal’s front door in Christie Miller Road, Salisbury. The substance used was A-234 (a Novichok agent), which is said to be around 5-8 times more lethal than VX (just 10 milligrams of VX on the skin can be lethal). It had been placed there by a person or persons either working on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation, or who had somehow managed to come into possession of the substance from stocks controlled by the Russian Government.

As Mr Harding implies, it’s all very straightforward. So let’s test it.

What would you have expected to happen?

The basic question one must ask is as follows: Given the scenario outlined in the Government claim, what would you have expected to happen? Here are four basic things one would reasonably have expected:

1. Sergei and Yulia Skripal found dead in or near Mr Skripal’s house, followed by a coroner’s verdict stating that they had died from heart failure or suffocation, as a result of fluid secretions filling their lungs.

2. Or – in the slim chance that they survived – a period of months in hospital with irreparable damage to their central nervous systems, and symptoms including cirrhosis, toxic hepatitis, nerve damage and epilepsy.

3. A massive manhunt, both in Salisbury and in the rest of the country, especially in respect of the couple who appeared on a CCTV camera in Market Walk, of whom it was originally claimed were the Skripals, but who were clearly not the Skripals.

4. Mr Skripal’s house entirely closed off, with surrounding streets immediately evacuated, and the parts of Salisbury City Centre where the pair were known to have visited also evacuated.

What actually happened?

So much for what we would have expected to see. Now, more than two months after the incident, we can ask the question: What actually happened?

1. After they allegedly came into contact with the very lethal A-234 nerve agent, far from dying on the spot, Sergei and Yulia Skripal spent the next four hours driving into the City Centre, having a drink, and then going for a meal. They then sat on a bench, and at some point thereafter exhibited what appeared to be hallucinations, suggestive of poisoning by an opioid or non-lethal chemical weapon, rather than a nerve agent.

2. Rather than being hospitalised for months and suffering irreparable damage to their central nervous systems, just over four weeks later, Yulia Skripal telephoned her cousin, Viktoria, and assured her several times that “Everything is okay”. Crucially, she stated that “Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things.”

3. There has been no manhunt, and the couple who appeared on the CCTV camera in Market Walk have not been identified publicly, nor have there been any appeals for information about them.

4. Far from the streets around the house being evacuated, many photographs show police officers without any protective clothing standing just a few feet away from the door handle, which allegedly still had A-234 of “high purity” on it. Neither was the City Centre evacuated, but people who thought they might have come into contact with the substance were advised by Public Health England (PHE) to wash their clothing in a washing machine, and wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes.

What Would Holmes Have Made of it?

If you laid all that out in front of Sherlock Holmes – the claims, the expectations, and the reality – and asked him what he made of it, he would no doubt reply along the following lines:

“On the assumption that the substance known as A-234 is several times more toxic than VX, which all credible references to it claim that it is, then given that the Skripals did not die on the spot, and having survived do not appear to have any of the lasting and irreparable side-effects of being poisoned by this substance, it can be stated with reasonable certainty that they were not poisoned by it. Furthermore, given the symptoms that they displayed on the bench, according to eye-witness testimony, in all probability, Mr Skripal and Yulia were poisoned by a substance which can cause hallucinations, such as the opioid, Fentanyl, or an incapacitating, but non-lethal, chemical such as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate (BZ). This theory is given credence by the fact that Salisbury District Hospital originally believed the incident to be a case of Fentanyl poisoning.”

What Would Holmes do Next?

Having used the known facts to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the Skripals were not poisoned by A-234, what would Holmes do next?

The obvious thing would be to interview both Sergei and Yulia Skripal, since both are apparently alive and well. He would want to gather details about their movements on the morning of 4th March 2018, and whether they saw anyone acting suspiciously either near the house, or at the bench. He would want to know why Mr Skripal apparently became highly agitated in Zizzis. And he would of course want to find out from Mr Skripal about who he had dealings with in the weeks prior to the incident.

So what, you might ask, would he make of it if he found out that nobody, including him, was allowed to see Mr Skripal or Yulia? What, you might ask, would he make of the fact that nothing has been heard of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey since his release from hospital more than six weeks ago? What, you might ask, would he make of the fact that there has been not one single police or press report looking into any of these things?

Holmes being Holmes, he would of course want to retain an open mind for as long as possible. But in the absence of any credible explanation for these oddities, or for the huge disparity between the UK Government claims and what actually happened, no doubt his great mind would soon start closing in on the suspicion that not only were the Skripals not poisoned by A-234, but it would appear that a cover up of what really happened has taken place.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | | Leave a comment

Putin comes out with a ‘Russia First’ strategy

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | May 11, 2018

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russia’s new president at a grand ceremony in the Kremlin on Monday. As his fourth term begins – which may also be his last term – speculation is rife about the composition of the new Russian government.

Chronic Russia watchers are absolutely certain that Putin’s nominees for top government posts – to be announced by May 15 – will give clues about his priorities on the policy front. However, Putin may have ended their suspense already with a presidential decree titled “Russia for the People” issued within hours of being sworn in as president.

The decree consolidates his vision of the economic and social development of Russia and is projected as his top priority. One may call it Putin’s strategy of “Russia First.”

But Putin’s strategy is radically different from his US counterpart’s “America First.” For a start, it is far more sweeping in its scope with developmental programs embracing healthcare, education, demographics, housing and urban development, international cooperation and exports, labor productivity, SMEs, roads and infrastructure, ecology, digital economy, science and culture.

The ambitious goals include making Russia one of the five largest economies globally by 2024. In terms of nominal GDP, Russia now ranks 13th in world ranking, while in terms of total purchasing power parity, it is ranked sixth, after China, the US, India, Japan and Germany.

Other goals outlined in Putin’s strategy include extending the life expectancy in Russia to 78 years by 2024, from the present 71, and to 80 years by 2030, and halving the number of Russians in poverty, now estimated at 20 million, keeping productivity growth at 5% and maintaining GDP growth at a pace faster than the global average.

Cuts in defense spending

Interestingly, Putin aims to mobilize funding for “Russia First” not through aggressive pursuit of mercantilist policies abroad, but by axing military spending in the country’s budget. Whereas Trump intends to make American great by hiking defense spending to an all-time high level, Putin is taking the diametrically opposite course of effecting sharp cuts in spending on the military.

In essence, the steady annual rise of 10% in Russia’s defense spending in the Russian budget that was characteristic of recent years has ended. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates a 20% drop in defense spending in Russia last year. As a percentage of GDP, defense spending is slated to fall from 6.6% in 2016 to 5% this year. That figure is expected to drop to 3% by the end of Putin’s new term in 2024.

This marked shift in national policy grates against the prevailing thesis of Putin being a warmonger who is plotting land grabs in the Baltics. What Putin is aiming at must be understood from three different angles.

First, the ambitious modernization program of the Russian armed forces through the past decade has been more or less accomplished.

On March 1 in his State of the Union address, Putin unveiled a range of new cutting-edge military technologies that have been developed, which are designed to ensure global strategic balance, which is a corner stone of the Russian defense strategy. That is to say, a cut in military spending will not jeopardize Russia’s national defense. This is one thing.

Second, it stands to reason that Putin is viewing the legacy of his new six-year term as one which can be called “nation-building.” This is perfectly understandable. In the last term, Putin successfully piloted Russia’s resurgence on the world stage as a great power. A grateful nation appreciates his profound contribution in this direction.

The fantastic popularity rating of 82% that Putin now enjoys is largely to be attributed to his stewardship of Russia’s return to great power status.

Having said that, there is also a flip side to it. Paradoxically, 45% of the Russian people also register their disapproval of Putin for his failure to ensure an equitable distribution of income. Equally, close to 90% of Russians are convinced of the need for “reforms” in the country.

Although no one is talking here about a color revolution in Russia, the point is, there is social discontent, which can be the breeding ground of protests triggering social instability.

Third, while Putin has been successful in stabilizing the slump in 2014 resulting from a combination of a fall in oil prices and western sanctions, the economic situation is expected to become difficult in the coming period. It is no exaggeration that Putin’s Achilles’ heel is the economy.

Putin has promised a technological breakthrough in Russia, which would enhance economic competitiveness at the international level and reduce the overall dependence on commodity exports. But then, Russia’s success in closing the technological gap with Europe is traditionally linked to the cooperation it gets from the West.

Theoretically, Russia has a “China option” for modernizing its economy, but in reality, a variety of factors put serious limits to it.

Clearly, a policy of alienation from the West is not going to help matters for Putin’s “Russia First.” Suffice to say, a renewed effort by Putin to repair Russia’s relations with the West is on the cards. Interestingly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be the first Western leader to meet Putin as he begins his new term. Merkel is paying a ‘working visit’ to Sochi on May 18.

Merkel probably knows Putin, a fluent German speaker, better than any other Western leader and is in a position to take the lead role to realign Russia with Europe. She is obviously on a mission to gauge the prospects of a new beginning. The good thing is that there is a growing realization in Europe that Russia’s complete segregation from the West will not work.

But it takes two to tango. Even if Putin makes an overture, it may not amount to much, given the toxic climate of Russophobia prevailing in US politics. Incredibly enough, the US chose the eve of Putin’s inaugural last week to announce the resurrection of the Second Fleet of the US Navy, which was mothballed years ago, to protect America’s east coast from the “Russian threat.”

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Economics | | 1 Comment

Israel Using ‘Planned Provocations’ to ‘Get the US into a War With Iran’

Sputnik – 11.05.2018

The escalation of violence near the Golan Heights and Damascus this week is part of a neoconservative plan to lasso the US into war with Iran, an expert told Sputnik.

Mark Sleboda, a security and international affairs analyst, says the most recent escalation of violence between Israel and Syria shows Israel intends to start a conflict with Iran and seek US support for a larger war campaign.

​What Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “wants, more than anything else, is to get the US into a war with Iran,” Sleboda told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear.

“There are plenty of neocons in Washington surrounding [US] President [Donald] Trump that want the same thing and are all too willing to play along with this,” the analyst said.

Almost immediately after Trump began his speech announcing the US’ exit from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, on Tuesday, Israeli authorities put their soldiers on “high alert” in the Golan Heights, citing heightened Iranian activity across Israel’s northern border.

Israel also said Tuesday that Iran might conduct missile attacks, prompting the opening of bomb shelters and the movement of military assets to the Golan Heights. The Golan was seized by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and has been occupied by Israel ever since.

Within hours of Trump’s announcement, Damascus accused the Israel Defense Forces of firing on targets south of the Syrian capital in the al-Kiswah area. Western media later called one of the targets an Iranian convoy.

If it seems like these developments were orchestrated, it’s because they probably were, Sleboda told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

“In fact, the Russian Duma member who heads up the Foreign Relations Committee specifically called out that this looks like a planned provocation intended to be conducted in stages up an escalatory ladder,” the Moscow-based analyst noted.

“Israel, which has previously claimed that it was attacking Syria — it’s attacked Syria illegally, aggressively, over 100 times since 2011, since the conflict began,” Sleboda said of Israel’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. “But they’ve been ramping it up.”

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment