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Lavrov responds to Pelosi claim Russia ‘had a hand’ in Trump-Zelensky impeachment scandal

RT | September 27, 2019

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims that Russia was involved in the Trump-Zelensky phone conversation scandal as “obvious paranoia” and yet another “deadly sin” to pin on Moscow.

“Russia’s been accused of all the deadly sins, and then some,” Lavrov said at a press conference at the UN General Assembly on Friday, addressing a question about Pelosi’s claims that his country was somehow involved in the alleged quid pro quo between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“It’s paranoia, and I think it’s obvious to everyone.”

In an interview with MSNBC that aired earlier on Friday, Pelosi had claimed that Russia “has a hand in” what she referred to as Trump’s “shakedown” of the Ukrainian president during a telephone conversation back in July – released this week by the White House – as well as the subsequent “cover-up of the cover-up.”

Trump is “undermining our national security” by withholding military aid from Ukraine, she insisted, and “violated the constitution by overriding an act of Congress.”

The Democrats claim that Trump threatened to withhold military aid unless Ukraine restarted a corruption probe into the gas company that employed Hunter Biden, the son of then-vice president and current Democratic front-runner Joe Biden.

Pelosi launched an impeachment inquiry on Tuesday while admitting she had not read a transcript of the fateful call between the two leaders. She nevertheless accused Trump of betraying his oath of office, national security, and “the integrity of our elections.”

The call transcript, released the following morning, did not include any discussion of military aid, and mentioned the Biden investigation only in passing – a subject that was broached by Zelensky, not Trump.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

These once-secret memos cast doubt on Joe Biden’s Ukraine story

By John Solomon – The Hill – 09/26/19

Former Vice President Joe Biden, now a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, has locked into a specific story about the controversy in Ukraine.

He insists that, in spring 2016, he strong-armed Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor solely because Biden believed that official was corrupt and inept, not because the Ukrainian was investigating a natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, that hired Biden’s son, Hunter, into a lucrative job.

There’s just one problem.

Hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents — many from inside the American team helping Burisma to stave off its legal troubles — conflict with Biden’s narrative.

And they raise the troubling prospect that U.S. officials may have painted a false picture in Ukraine that helped ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview Hunter Biden during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For instance, Burisma’s American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after Biden forced the firing of the country’s chief prosecutor and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutors, according to the Ukrainian government’s official memo of the meeting. The effort to secure that meeting began the same day the prosecutor’s firing was announced.

In addition, Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends, according to that memo and the American legal team’s internal emails.

The memos raise troubling questions:

1.)   If the Ukraine prosecutor’s firing involved only his alleged corruption and ineptitude, why did Burisma’s American legal team refer to those allegations as “false information?”

2.)   If the firing had nothing to do with the Burisma case, as Biden has adamantly claimed, why would Burisma’s American lawyers contact the replacement prosecutor within hours of the termination and urgently seek a meeting in Ukraine to discuss the case?

Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) since the summer of 2018, fearing it might be evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws. First, they hired a former federal prosecutor to bring the information to the U.S. attorney in New York, who, they say, showed no interest. Then, the Ukrainians reached out to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, told Trump in July that he plans to launch his own wide-ranging investigation into what happened with the Bidens and Burisma.

“I’m knowledgeable about the situation,” Zelensky told Trump, asking the American president to forward any evidence he might know about. “The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”

Biden has faced scrutiny since December 2015, when the New York Times published a story noting that Burisma hired Hunter Biden just weeks after the vice president was asked by President Obama to oversee U.S.-Ukraine relations. That story also alerted Biden’s office that Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin had an active investigation of Burisma and its founder.

Documents I obtained this year detail an effort to change the narrative after the Times story about Hunter Biden, with the help of the Obama State Department.

Hunter Biden’s American business partner in Burisma, Devon Archer, texted a colleague two days after the Times story about a strategy to counter the “new wave of scrutiny” and stated that he and Hunter Biden had just met at the State Department. The text suggested there was about to be a new “USAID project the embassy is announcing with us” and that it was “perfect for us to move forward now with momentum.”

I have sued the State Department for any records related to that meeting. The reason is simple: There is both a public interest and an ethics question to knowing if Hunter Biden and his team sought State’s assistance while his father was vice president.

The controversy ignited anew earlier this year when I disclosed that Joe Biden admitted during a 2018 videotaped speech that, as vice president in March 2016, he threatened to cancel $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, to pressure Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin.

At the time, Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma. Shokin told me he was making plans to question Hunter Biden about $3 million in fees that Biden and his partner, Archer, collected from Burisma through their American firm. Documents seized by the FBI in an unrelated case confirm the payments, which in many months totaled more than $166,000.

Some media outlets have reported that, at the time Joe Biden forced the firing in March 2016, there were no open investigations. Those reports are wrong. A British-based investigation of Burisma’s owner was closed down in early 2015 on a technicality when a deadline for documents was not met. But the Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office still had two open inquiries in March 2016, according to the official case file provided me. One of those cases involved taxes; the other, allegations of corruption. Burisma announced the cases against it were not closed and settled until January 2017.

After I first reported it in a column, the New York Times and ABC News published similar stories confirming my reporting.

Joe Biden has since responded that he forced Shokin’s firing over concerns about corruption and ineptitude, which he claims were widely shared by Western allies, and that it had nothing to do with the Burisma investigation.

Some of the new documents I obtained call that claim into question.

In a newly sworn affidavit prepared for a European court, Shokin testified that when he was fired in March 2016, he was told the reason was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma investigation. “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors,” Shokin testified.

“On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation,” Shokin added.

Shokin certainly would have reason to hold a grudge over his firing. But his account is supported by documents from Burisma’s legal team in America, which appeared to be moving into Ukraine with intensity as Biden’s effort to fire Shokin picked up steam.

Burisma’s own accounting records show that it paid tens of thousands of dollars while Hunter Biden served on the board of an American lobbying and public relations firm, Blue Star Strategies, run by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, who both served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Just days before Biden forced Shokin’s firing, Painter met with the No. 2 official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and asked to meet officials in Kiev around the same time that Joe Biden visited there. Ukrainian embassy employee Oksana Shulyar emailed Painter afterward: “With regards to the meetings in Kiev, I suggest that you wait until the next week when there is an expected vote of the government’s reshuffle.”

Ukraine’s Washington embassy confirmed the conversations between Shulyar and Painter but said the reference to a shakeup in Ukrainian government was not specifically referring to Shokin’s firing or anything to do with Burisma.

Painter then asked one of the Ukraine embassy’s workers to open the door for meetings with Ukraine’s prosecutors about the Burisma investigation, the memos show. Eventually, Blue Star would pay that Ukrainian official money for his help with the prosecutor’s office.

At the time, Blue Star worked in concert with an American criminal defense lawyer, John Buretta, who was hired by Burisma to help address the case in Ukraine. The case was settled in January 2017 for a few million dollars in fines for alleged tax issues.

Buretta, Painter, Tramontano, Hunter Biden and Joe Biden’s campaign have not responded to numerous calls and emails seeking comment.

On March 29, 2016, the day Shokin’s firing was announced, Buretta asked to speak with Yuriy Sevruk, the prosecutor named to temporarily replace Shokin, but was turned down, the memos show.

Blue Star, using the Ukrainian embassy worker it had hired, eventually scored a meeting with Sevruk on April 6, 2016, a week after Shokin’s firing. Buretta, Tramontano and Painter attended that meeting in Kiev, according to Blue Star’s memos.

Sevruk memorialized the meeting in a government memo that the general prosecutor’s office provided to me, stating that the three Americans offered an apology for the “false” narrative that had been provided by U.S. officials about Shokin being corrupt and inept.

“They realized that the information disseminated in the U.S. was incorrect and that they would facilitate my visit to the U.S. for the purpose of delivering the true information to the State Department management,” the memo stated.

The memo also quoted the Americans as saying they knew Shokin pursued an aggressive corruption investigation against Burisma’s owner, only to be thwarted by British allies: “These individuals noted that they had been aware that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine had implemented all required steps for prosecution … and that he was released by the British court due to the underperformance of the British law enforcement agencies.”

The memo provides a vastly different portrayal of Shokin than Biden’s. And its contents are partially backed by subsequent emails from Blue Star and Buretta that confirm the offer to bring Ukrainian authorities to meet the Obama administration in Washington.

For instance, Tramontano wrote the Ukrainian prosecution team on April 16, 2016, saying U.S. Justice Department officials, including top international prosecutor Bruce Swartz, might be willing to meet. “The reforms are not known to the US Justice Department and it would be useful for the Prosecutor General to meet officials in the US and share this information directly,” she wrote.

Buretta sent a similar email to the Ukrainians, writing that “I think you would find it productive to meet with DOJ officials in Washington” and providing contact information for Swartz. “I would be happy to help,” added Buretta, a former senior DOJ official.

Burisma, Buretta and Blue Star continued throughout 2016 to try to resolve the open issues in Ukraine, and memos recount various contacts with the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Kiev seeking help in getting the Burisma case resolved.

Just days before Trump took office, Burisma announced it had resolved all of its legal issues. And Buretta gave an interview in Ukraine about how he helped navigate the issues.

Today, two questions remain.

One is whether it was ethically improper or even illegal for Biden to intervene to fire the prosecutor handling Burisma’s case, given his son’s interests. That is one that requires more investigation and the expertise of lawyers.

The second is whether Biden has given the American people an honest accounting of what happened. The new documents I obtained raise serious doubts about his story’s credibility. And that’s an issue that needs to be resolved by voters.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Establishment & media sympathize with Greta’s ‘Fridays for Future’ movement… So how is that a ‘protest’ exactly?

RT | September 27, 2019

As hundreds of thousands of people – many of them schoolchildren – take to the streets in another demonstration over climate change, one must wonder: at what point does protest become the status quo?

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s solo school walkout last August was little more than a sideshow to newspaper editors and TV crews. But the teenage crusader’s ‘school strike’ snowballed, and the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement grew.

Now, after an emotional speech by Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, hundreds of thousands of climate strikers worldwide are packing the streets on Friday, demanding their governments declare a state of emergency, slash carbon emissions, penalize meat-eating and kill the car, to pick but a few of their proposals.

But these radicals – as they would have been called not so long ago – aren’t being met by the batons, tear gas and rubber bullets the state usually deploys to quash dissent (not that any peaceful demonstrations should be). Media outlets aren’t smearing those within their ranks as racists and downplaying attendance numbers, and the crowds occupying city streets aren’t risking injury and mutilation to do so.

The very idea of ‘protest’ implies some resistance, some injustice of state to be overcome. Climate protesters would argue that not enough is being done to heal our heating earth – and that’s a debate beyond the scope of this article – but government, media, and the world’s power brokers have aided Thunberg and co’s protest movement at every step of the way.

France’s ‘Yellow Vests’ protests began in opposition to a fossil fuel tax hike, and were met with all of the violence described above on a weekly basis. Thunberg, in contrast, was invited to address the French parliament in July. Likewise with her appearances at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, her speeches before British parliament and the US Congress, and her most recent UN appearance. On every occasion, the world’s political leaders rolled out the red carpet and held the door open for her to lecture them.

Media coverage of Thunberg and the climate protests has been overwhelmingly favorable – with The Guardian comparing her speech on Monday to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for its historical significance, and New York Magazine calling her “the Joan of Arc of climate change.” The Yellow Vests, to continue the comparison, were described as a rabble of anti-semites and “notorious Holocaust deniers,” based on the actions of a tiny minority of protesters.

The school strikers and climate crusaders enjoy blanket support. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunberg scolded leaders on Monday. However, even the world’s corporations have jumped on board the eco bandwagon, ever keen to virtue-signal their way to a few more dollars, even if their own green credentials are suspect at best.

If the protests are being framed as a David and Goliath story of children speaking truth to power and taking on the elite, why do the elite support them so wholeheartedly? An optimist would say that these leaders finally see the need for urgent climate action. After all, public outcry over the hole in the ozone layer in the 1980s led to the adoption of a landmark chemicals ban in 1987, and three decades later, NASA revealed proof last year that the ozone layer is recovering.

A cynic would argue that the upper echelons stand to benefit in some way. And that’s true too. Several conglomerates of the world’s leading financial institutions, backed by neoliberal think tanks like the Atlantic Council, have already expressed interest in getting their hands on public funds to finance green industry ventures, particularly in the developing world. What some call a crisis, they call the “climate opportunity.”

Addressing climate change too presents control-freak politicians with boundless opportunity to push otherwise unpalatable legislation. More than 100 US Lawmakers in Congress support the ‘Green New Deal.’ Among them are a handful of presidential candidates and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the hotshot New York Congresswoman who welcomed Thunberg to the city last month following her carbon-neutral Atlantic crossing.

As well as measures to wean the US off fossil fuels and replace airplane and car travel with greener alternatives, Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal legislation comes bundled with a progressive wishlist of universal health care, minimum wage hikes, wealth redistribution, and government control of industry – traditionally anathema to American voters. All of this calls for higher taxes, and an expansion of federal government power.

Whether out of self-interest or benevolence, the climate protest movement enjoys the support of the elite, and taking Friday off school to demonstrate is about as safe as protest gets. Skipping school would normally earn truants a clip about the ears or a stern talking-to, but more and more teachers are getting on board with the strikes, and encouraging their students to take part.

When I was a teenager, we weren’t given the day off to protest the invasion of Iraq. Instead, we snuck off, changed into our baggy jeans and hoodies, and hopped on a bus to government buildings. Protest felt transgressive and anti-establishment.

Protest on a day off. Deny your parents and their generation the only meaningful chance in a busy week to spend some time with you. After all, as Thunberg said, adults have “stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

A protest stops being a protest when it’s pro-establishment. Once it reaches that tipping point, people begin to probe deeper and doubt the intentions of the protesters, and corporate support is a death knell for authenticity.

Most people who complain about climate protesters don’t hate Greta Thunberg for who she is. They just don’t like being browbeaten into thinking a certain way by the combined forces of activists, corporations, the media and the state, no matter how right or wrong that way is.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 4 Comments

LNG Investments Hit Record In 2019

By Irina Slav | Oilprice.com | September 26, 2019

Investments in liquefied natural gas since the start of the year have hit an all-time high of $50 billion, the International Energy Agency’s head, Fatih Birol, told an industry conference.

“This year, 2019 already broke the highest amount of (final investment decisions) for the first time ever, $50 billion,” Birol told the LNG Producer-Consumer conference in Tokyo, as quoted by Reuters.

Unsurprisingly, the driver of this growth in investments is growing demand for the fuel in Asia, with China still expected to overtake Japan as the world’s top importer of LNG.

“The biggest growth is coming from China. In the next five years, about one-third of global LNG demand will come from China alone,” Birol said. He added that in five years, China will become the largest importer of the fuel.

As for the growth in investments, there are no surprises there, either. The bulk of these has been made in the United States and Canada.

In a December 2018 report the Energy Information Administration said it expected the United States’ LNG export capacity to double by the end of this year to 8.9 billion cu ft daily. This will make the U.S. the third-largest exporter of LNG in terms of capacity after Qatar and Australia. By 2030, U.S. LNG exports are estimated to reach 17 billion cu ft daily, from some 3 billion cu ft at the start of 2019.

In Canada, there is just one LNG project under development right now—LNG Canada—but it could have a final capacity of 28 million tons of the fuel annually. The US$31-billion project is led by Shell, with minority participants including Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi, and Kogas.

Meanwhile, Qatar is stepping up its efforts to keep its number-one spot in the global LNG export race. The country has lifted a moratorium on new drilling in its North Field—the world’s largest offshore gas field Qatar shares with Iran—aiming to boost export capacity by 43 percent to 11 million tons annually.

Global LNG demand is seen at 550 million tons by 2030, according to projections by IHS Markit.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

The Rule of the Mob: Labour Conference Banner Banned, Slashed

By Peter Gregson | OffGuardian | September 27, 2019

On Sunday 22nd Sept, I, a Labour Party member since 1986, had my banner taken down from outside Conference. Why? The police agreed it was not anti-Semitic. When Zionists first started complaining about it, the police photographed it and referred it to their superiors. Not a problem, they said. The banner could stay.

But the Zionists, from the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and the Sussex Friends of Israel (FoI) were incandescent with rage. Repeatedly they complained and when the police refused to act, they took the law into their own hands.

Cllr Joshua Garfield from Newham Council rushed past me at the banner and slashed it in two. The police apprehended him and removed the large sharp scissors he had used and took his details. (Later Garfield boasted about it on twitter.)

The Secretary from Labour Against the Witch-hunt and I repaired it. Yet again it was attacked, ripped in half again by another Zionist. We repaired it again.

At this point local hoodlum Simon Cobbs (Founder of Sussex Friends of Israel and ex-resident of HMP Exeter) stood spread-eagled before it and refused to move. After an hour of this he moved away, whereupon another extremist rushed the banner and this time ripped it in several places.

On each occasion we repaired the banner, and on each occasion the police caught the assailant and took their details.

The police asked me if I would consider taking down the banner; I said I would not do this- I explained this was a matter of freedom of speech; I was in a public space, the banner was not anti-Semitic.

Eventually, a group of Zionists stood before the banner and created a scene, arguing and shouting with a group of us who defended the banner, supporters of free speech. At a certain point the police made the decision that a possible public order offence had been committed. They removed the banner and took it away.

The police explained that it was now evidence in a potential public order charge…. AGAINST me!

It would appear the police had been bullied into making a decision into taking my banner on the grounds that I had committed a public order offence, rather than those who had been harassing and attacking me, calling me an anti-Semite. Readers can see the slashed banner here.

Later that day, Jeremy Corbyn waded in. He tweeted:

I’m disgusted that this banner was displayed near our #Lab19 conference centre. We asked the police to remove it and I’m glad they did. This kind of antisemitic poison has no place whatsoever in our society.”

This brought forward 1,800 responses, many from people who couldn’t see anything anti-Semitic about the banner at all. Even the artist, Latuff, said so.

On the Monday, I attended a voluntary interview at the John Street police station where I was interviewed under caution with the duty solicitor present. I explained what the banner was about and why I had brought it to Brighton, to promote political discussion on the weaponization of anti-Semitism.

I explained about the Al-Jazeera documentary on which the banner was based, The Lobby , which portrayed how Israel funds the take-down of politicians sympathetic to Palestine, using groups such as the JLM and the FoI.

I noted the banner had particular relevance at this time. An election was coming and that once the date was announced, newspapers would be full of accusations of anti-Semitism aimed at Labour politicians who have dared to criticise Israel, in an effort to undermine their vote. I thought it important to point out the role a foreign country was having in British electoral affairs.

I concluded by telling the police that I was disappointed in them for undermining my freedom of speech.

The police must now decide if they will ask the CPS to prosecute me; it is likely to be months before a decision is made.

In the meantime, I will pursue claims of criminal damage against those who attacked my banner and against the police for taking it down, for the Human Rights Act of 1998 – Article 10 protects my right to hold my own opinions and to express them freely without government interference, including through works of art.

The next day, Rabbi Ahron Cohen of the Neturei Karta spoke to me and gave his view that he could not fathom any way that the banner was anti-Semitic.

Many are dumbfounded at Corbyn’s tweet describing it as such. When the Lobby film was shown in 2017, its fairness and accuracy was supported by OFCOM and Corbyn called for an investigation, so he knew that Israel pumps millions of pounds into Zionist defamation activities in the UK with the sole aim of shutting down any debate on Israel’s racist treatment of Arabs and Christians.

However, according to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism adopted by most political parties, to say that Israel is a racist endeavour is now seen as prejudice against Jews.

The banner says: “IHRA: tell the NEC how you feel”, because I wanted Labour members to tell the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to abandon the IHRA definition they adopted a year ago, an action Corbyn himself objected to.

Party members are now beholden to a definition whereby any activist criticising Israel as racist becomes an anti-Semite, a plainly ludicrous claim. This enables Zionists to make endless charges of anti-Semitism against anti-apartheid activists.

Most of these accusations come from the JLM, registered as a socialist society affiliated to Labour.

I am chair of Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR), a group of Labour Party activists which sees Zionism as racism and who want to end its influence, seeking to get the JLM disaffiliated. At the Conference, we distributed 1,500 flyers to Party members calling for this, highlighting the JLM’s role in undermining any politician who supports Palestine and criticises Israel.

Corbyn’s pro-Palestine stance has drawn JLM’s ire and they have declared Corbyn “unfit to be prime minister”. They score Labour candidates seeking election according to their level of support for Israel, working with the media to undermine whose whom they don’t like or who support Corbyn.

A tweet from a man at LP Conference showing plans to attack Corbyn and Labour with “big stories” come election time

One doesn’t have to be either Jewish or in the Labour Party to be in the JLM.

Labour’s founding planks are fairness, equality and social justice. LAZIR point out that JLM’s sole focus is on protecting Israel, sharing none of Labour’s values in their disregard for Palestinian rights.

I emailed Corbyn in response to the tweet, pointing out the Rabbi’s views and that he himself had called for an investigation into Israel’s work undermining UK politicians; he had also not supported Labour adopting the full IHRA definition.

I copied in all NEC members and drew this response from Jon Lansman:

I do not wish to receive any more of your messages. Your obsessive hatred of those you call “Zionists” marks you out as an anti-Semite. To be clear, you do not have my permission to retain my contact details so please delete them and never contact me again.”

Lansman is Momentum leader and the man responsible for getting the IHRA definition adopted by Labour in 2018. He is a strong supporter of Israel and spent years on a kibbutz. He is also one of the nine CLP reps on the NEC and as such was elected to represent the views of CLP members, including me. I consider that as my rep, Lansman must accept that part of his role is to receive communications on Labour Party matters from members.

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson couldn’t resist wading in as well, saying in the Jewish Chronicle he was furious about this “deliberate intimidation of Jewish Labour members at the conference”.

He said “Regardless of where and why it is outrageous to come to a conference of a democratic party and to intimidate people who are just trying to make the world a better place.” I do not consider Watson’s unbridled support for Israel is in any way making the world a better place.

I am now in discussion with my solicitors; I will seek redress through the courts.

NOTES:

Latuff’s cartoon was first published in September 2018, when it was used to illustrate Gregson’s article Why let Netanyahu write the Labour rulebook?

See the footage of the police removing the banner at LBC here. More on this, including the links to the many publications who carried the story, can be found at lazir.org

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 2 Comments

Modi-Rouhani meeting is a morality play

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 27, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his 6-day long visit to the US with a bang — a stunning stage appearance with President Trump at the Howdy Modi in Houston last Sunday.

But on Thursday, he ended up with a hastily arranged meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in New York just before the latter’s departure for Tehran. The symbolism is at once obvious.

Only 4 days earlier, in a famous remark at the Howdy Modi, Trump thrilled the Sangh Parivar audience with a stirring call that the US and India should jointly fight “radical Islamic terrorism.” Modi and the audience cheered in the mistaken belief that Trump was condemning Pakistan, but only to be told the next day by POTUS himself that he was only referring to Iran.

However, if photo journalism is any indicator, Modi looked subdued at the meeting with Rouhani. It must have been a difficult meeting. The Iranian report was rather taciturn. The primary purpose seems to have been to break the ice.

The India-Iran relations have been on a roller-coaster under Modi’s watch. He gave high hopes to Rouhani when they met for the first time on the sidelines of the historic Ufa summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June 2015 by proposing multi-billion dollar investment plans in Iran’s economy spanning the industrial and infrastructural fields.

Rouhani took the idea seriously and fast-tracked the contract for India to develop and operate one of the container terminals in the strategic Chabahar Port in the Sistan-Baluchistan province, ignoring Pakistan’s disquiet over such an Indian presence hardly 80 kms from its restive border regions.

Rouhani upset the Pakistanis further by accepting the Indian offer to build a railway line connecting Chabahar with Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border further north.

Indians were jubilant that in geopolitical terms, India’s cooperation in regional connectivity with Iran matched China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

All that is history, of course. Iran’s ambassador to India Ali Chegeni regretted recently that India not only buckled under American pressure to stop its oil imports from Iran but also slowed down its project work at Chabahar. The tensions are showing. Iran has taken a critical position on the situation in J&K.

Yet, it was Iran which in 1994 had helped India to prevent an OIC resolution on the human rights situation in J&K from being tabled at the UN forum, breaking the IOC consensus and demanding that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Yes, Iran played a helpful role in ensuring that the Shia-dominated Kargil region of J&K stayed out of the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency in the early nineties. The Narasimha Rao government allowed the then Iranian Ambassador to India Sheikh Attar to visit Kargil when the region was closed to the international community and foreign media.

Yes, it was the same Iran with which India also had cooperation at the level of intelligence agencies in the early nineties.

What explains the present crisis? Succinctly put, India’s policies in the Persian Gulf have come under the influence of the Israel-Saudi-UAE axis. Indian diplomacy is quite adept at balancing the relations with Iran on one side and the Israel-Saudi-UAE troika on the other. But the present ruling elite abandoned that policy and began identifying with the troika.

Conceivably, the US encouraged this shift. But the main factor has been the bonhomie that has come to exist at the leadership with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. If a marker is to be put on the downhill slide of India-Iran relations, it must be Modi’s extended 5-day visit to Israel in July 2017.

India-Iran relations suffered as a result of Delhi’s gravitation toward the the orbit of what Iran calls the “B Team” of the US. Iran never stood in the way of India keeping diversified relationships in West Asia, including with its adversaries such as the US, Israel or Saudi Arabia, but the plain truth is Delhi simply cooled down on the relationship with Iran.

How the B Team worked on the Indian leadership remains a mystery, but the Israelis, Saudis and Emiratis played their cards well, knowing exactly which strings to be pulled among the movers and shakers of the present ruling dispensation in Delhi.

Suffice to say, Modi’s meeting with Rouhani on Thursday was an act of atonement. India is in a chastened mood today. Delhi dumped Iran as a major supplier of oil (on concessional terms) and instead opted to buy from the US and Saudi Arabia and the UAE (at market price), but there has been no quid pro quo.

Trump is deepening the US-Pakistan relations and has waded into the Kashmir issue. As for the Sheikhs, they probably had no intentions to make big investments in India. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, one of Modi’s closest friends in the world circuit, lost the election and if he fails to form the next government, may lose his immunity from prosecution and end up in jail.     

Without doubt, Modi has done the right thing by calling on Rouhani. India does not have many friends today. The Modi government’s image is very poor in the Muslim world. India’s march toward Hindu Rashtra and the lock down in J&K have generated negative opinion internationally.

Even “time-tested friends” like Russia are getting disillusioned with our “Chanakyan” diplomacy. How long can India remain ambivalent? Our credibility as a dependable partner is plunging.

It may seem an uphill task to repair the damage to India’s relationship with Iran. But on the contrary, it is easily undertaken if only there is political will. Tehran attaches high importance to India and Delhi needs to reciprocate that goodwill. The prospects are simply seamless to build a relationship of mutual benefit.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

US and EU Gang up to Demonize Iran Over Saudi Airstrikes

Strategic Culture Foundation | September 27, 2019

The European Union’s statement this week condemning Iran over the recent airstrikes on Saudi Arabia’s key oil industry sites was a tawdry piece of political cowardice. Not only tawdry, but dangerous as well.

For the EU is giving credence to Washington’s intensified attempts to demonize Iran, imposing ever-harsher economic sanctions and escalating tensions that could explode into an all-out war. Ironically, this is in spite of the EU claiming to be facilitating diplomacy to promote peace and security in the Middle East.

To be more precise, it wasn’t an EU joint statement issued at the United Nations general assembly this week. It was a statement formulated by only three members of the bloc: Britain, France and Germany. In practice, however, the biggest members of the EU were speaking on behalf of the others. (Full statement here.)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated the following:

“We condemn in the strongest terms the attacks on oil facilities on Saudi territory on September 14, 2019 in Abqaiq and Khurais, and reaffirm in this context our full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its population. It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.”

Thus, the Europeans are repeating assertions made by the United States and Saudi Arabia by which they accuse Iran of being responsible for firing drones and cruise missiles at the vital Saudi oil installations. No credible proof has so far been presented to support such an assertion.

The European powers are engaging in a reprehensible blame game which will only embolden further Washington’s reckless aggression against Iran.

Tehran has categorically rejected all accusations that it was in some way involved in the airstrikes against Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni Houthi rebels have from the outset following the attacks claimed full responsibility.

Iran may support the Yemeni rebels and have at some time provided weapon technology, but the Houthis are capable of developing and deploying their own fire power.

By blaming Iran, the US and Europeans are giving political cover to Saudi Arabia and its nefarious role in starting and waging a genocidal war against Yemen for the past four years. It is arguably the right of the Yemenis to retaliate against Saudi Arabia in acts of self-defense. And it is in Iran’s right to support the Yemenis, just as the US, British and French support Saudi Arabia. Why should there be a double standard?

What is even more despicable is that the European trio (the so-called E3) have been massive weapons suppliers to Saudi Arabia, in particular Britain and France. The British and French (and Americans, of course) have made hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years from weaponizing the Saudi war on Yemen, even though that has led to nearly 100,000 civilian deaths. Why doesn’t the E3 issue condemnation, rather than “solidarity” to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, over this genocidal slaughter?

A further aspect to the joint statement issued by Britain, France and Germany is that these powers are signaling their support for US President Donald Trump’s efforts at sabotaging the international nuclear accord with Iran. That landmark deal was co-signed by the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China back in July 2015.

Trump reneged on the UN-endorsed treaty when he unilaterally walked away from it in May 2018. It was typical American bad faith and backsliding whenever international agreements don’t suit their selfish interests.

Russia and China continue to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, as the nuclear deal is known formally as). Iran has recently begun to suspend certain commitments, such as increasing stocks of enriched uranium. The Iranian position of partial non-compliance is understandable. The US has trashed its obligations to the deal, and the Europeans have barely stepped up to the plate to implement sanctions relief for Iran, which is mandated by the JCPOA. Four years after the deal was done!

Britain, France and Germany claim to be still committed to the nuclear deal, according to a press statement by EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Federica Mogherini at the UN this week.

But it is evident that, on the contrary, the E3 troika is instead moving to undermine the JCPOA. Blaming Iran with groundless accusations of attacking Saudi Arabia is part of the sinister shift by stealth. The day before the E3 issued their joint statement, Britain’s Boris Johnson was disparaging the nuclear as a “bad deal” and urged a renegotiation for what he sycophantically called a “Trump deal”.

Here is another weasel-worded section from the EU joint statement:

“Conscious of the importance of collective efforts to guarantee regional stability and security, we reiterate our conviction that the time has come for Iran to accept negotiation [sic] on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery… We urge Iran to engage in such a dialogue and refrain from further provocation and escalation.”

That is a clear – albeit with backhanded verbosity – attempt to pressure Iran into accepting Trump’s demand for the JCPOA to be replaced by further restrictions on Iran’s rights to pursue self-defense and normal regional and international relations. In weak-kneed fashion, the EU is augmenting Trump’s agenda of demonizing and criminalizing Iran so that it might succumb to subjugation.

Why the Europeans are acting with such cynicism is to conceal the glaring fact of their own weakness vis-a-vis Washington’s dictates and imperialist bullying. They should be admonishing the Americans for bad faith and reckless aggression; they should be condemning Saudi Arabia for a merciless slaughter in Yemen; they should be with-holding lucrative weapons sales to Saudi Arabia if they were really interested in peace; and if the Europeans really were genuine about non-proliferation and Middle Eastern stability, they should be whole-heartedly implementing the nuclear accord with Iran and providing the country the normalized economic trade that it is entitled to – just as Russia and China have done.

But no. And so to cover up their spinelessness, the Europeans are obliged to gang up with Washington to blame the victim of imperialist abuse – Iran. Such European cowardice is leading to more conflict.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump may disclose transcripts of Biden-Poroshenko talks

“A list of people whom we should not prosecute”

By Alexander Ponomarenko | September 27, 2019

“He [Zelensky] has made me more famous and I have made him more famous” – this is how Donald Trump began his joint briefing with Vladimir Zelensky this Thursday, hinting to the White House transcript of their conversation which took place two months before. Undoubtedly, this publication threw the brief meeting with the President itself in the shade, as it became a rare case of demonstrating behind-the-scene communication between politicians. What does this document imply and how will it affect the Ukrainian leader’s political perspectives?

My assumption that Zelensky pledged assistance to Trump with the Biden case has turned out to be true. At the same time, it seems to me that the transcript refutes the idea of the American President’s pressure on the Ukrainian one existing among the US Democrats. There was no apparent reason for that, because Zelensky appeared upfront and willingly elaborated upon the topic. However, even after the publication, the Democrats keep talking about the pressure. Of course, this term can be perceived in different ways. You can dig up evidence linking American assistance to the Biden case investigation in the text. But all of Trump’s words are out of all proportion to Biden’s public bluster as regards the dismissal of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, when speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in January 2018, the former Vice President said: “I said you [Petro Poroshenko] are not getting a billion and I’m going to be leaving here in six hours, if the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

But the Trump administration may publish similar transcripts of Biden’s conversations with Poroshenko. Or at least kick off a rumor that he inserted a lot more pressure than the current President, and the Democrats themselves will be interested in deciphering to add support to this rumor.

In the American press and speeches of American politicians, Zelensky only appears as a target (or a non-target) of pressure. His own remarks are generally neglected. There is no escaping the impression that he nearly came unscathed out of the scandal. But this impression stems from the fact that America is much more interesting for the world and especially for itself than Ukraine. The latter, however, ranks rather high in geopolitical calculations both in the Old and in the New World, so that to attract attention to Zelensky of those professionally engaged in its affairs.

And their conclusions will hardly be convenient from the Ukrainian leader’s viewpoint. Thus, in the mentioned conversation Zelensky did a lot to appear as a Trump-oriented populist. Which is an unacceptable sin for the globalists who dominate the international agencies Ukraine depends on. So it would be understandable if he just did not contradict Trump. But Zelensky, for his part, began the conversation by saying that the American President, this liberal world troublemaker, is a great teacher for him. Nobody forced Zelensky to talk, he could have said it was the American experience as a whole which is a showpiece for him.

Most of all, however, the globalists have to be worried by the fragment when Zelensky asks Trump to share information “to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States.” As can be seen from the following text, Zelensky made a slip of the tongue, referring to the US Ambassador in Kiev: “… as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100 per cent. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side.”

The idea of holding a trial (and the English phrase “administer justice” leaves no room for another interpretation) over the American Ambassador is a move worthy of a new Servant of the People series season. Of course, no one will judge Yovanovitch in Kiev, but Zelensky’s words are the best proof that he was not just making nice with Trump, but was really interested in helping him. Obvious is the Ukrainian President’s desire to get the most out of the situation, getting dirt on Yovanovitch in exchange for dirt on Biden. Just a reminder: the entire Biden case began in March this year with the statement of then Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko that the American Ambassador gave him “a list of people whom we should not prosecute” already during their first meeting.

It is profitable to Zelensky to promote this case to consolidate his power. Because the total elimination of parliamentary immunity rushed by him through the Parliament, will ring hollow if really untouchable personalities will remain under Western embassies’ umbrellas.

As regards the attitude toward Zelensky in the West, his obvious interest in the overall game with a demonstration of his own benefit in it is more important than whether he has already provided any dirt on Biden or not.

A separate disadvantage is that Zelensky played along with Trump in critical statements about Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, who allegedly do very little for Ukraine compared to America. It should be especially offensive for the French President, who invited Zelensky to the Elysee Palace back ahead of the second round of Ukrainian elections. Thus, in its article on the transcript, the Reuters agency refers to French officials who wished to remain unidentified and emphasizes that Macron took pains to arrange such a meeting going beyond his traditional protocol.

The headline of the same Reuters article says that transcript release was a “diplomatic disaster” for Zelensky. But in this case, the consequences are not going to be discovered right away. Undoubtedly, the globalist forces will treat Zelensky more cautiously and try to provide a counterbalance to him inside the country. Here their main hopes will be invested in the fact that both the deputy corps and the government comprise a lot of people who have received grants from George Soros’ entities. Certainly, not all of these people can be referred to as strong ideological supporters of globalism, most of them are ordinary careerists. But it is precisely due to their careerism that they are not Zelensky’s firm foothold. The Servant of the People is not an ideological structure. And at the end of the day, such politicians will put their stakes on the stronger one.

It is also beyond argument that the West will be even more critical towards the seemingly increasing role of Igor Kolomoysky in Ukrainian politics. Probably it is through a blow to Kolomoysky that they try to weaken Zelensky.

In such a situation, the Ukrainian President will lose the freedom of maneuver necessary for him to make complex decisions, in particular on the Donbass settlement. However, both the transcript of the conversation with Trump and the public speeches of the President of Ukraine in the United States raise doubts as to whether he really needs this settlement. Thus, with his genius for acting, Zelensky constantly says to the public that the Donbass war is a major challenge for him, but in the transcript, in a situation when it is not necessary to play to the crowd, he does without the words “war” and “peace”. And when at the September 25 joint briefing Trump expressed his hope that Zelensky meet with Putin and solve mutual problems, the Ukrainian President failed to take advantage of the situation and speak out on the same subject. Although regarding other things he was actively playing along with his American counterpart in their telephone conversation.

Alexander Ponomarenko is a political analyst with BRICS.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Corruption | , | 1 Comment

Joe Biden: Impeachment’s First Casualty

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review  • September 27, 2019

Even before seeing the transcript of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Nancy Pelosi threw the door wide open to the impeachment of Donald Trump by the Democratic House.

Though the transcript did not remotely justify the advanced billing of a “quid pro quo,” Pelosi set in motion a process that is already producing a sea change in the politics of 2020.

The great Beltway battle for the balance of this year, and perhaps next, will be over whether the Democrats can effect a coup against a president many of them have never recognized as legitimate and have sought to bring down since before he took the oath of office.

Pelosi on Tuesday started this rock rolling down the hill.

She has made impeachment, which did not even come up in the last Democratic debate, the issue of 2020. She has foreclosed bipartisan compromise on gun control, the cost of prescription drugs and infrastructure. She has just put her own and her party’s fate and future on the line.

With Pelosi’s assent that she is now open to impeachment, she turned what was becoming a cold case into a blazing issue. If the Democrats march up impeachment hill, fail and fall back, or if they vote impeachment only to see the Senate exonerate the president, that will be the climactic moment of Pelosi’s career. She is betting the future of the House, and her party’s hopes of capturing the presidency, on the belief she and her colleagues can persuade the country to support the indictment of a president for high crimes.

One wonders: Do Democrats blinded by hatred of Trump ever wonder how that 40% of the nation that sees him as the repository of their hopes will react if, rather than beat him at the ballot box, they remove him in this way?

The first casualty of Pelosi’s cause is almost certain to be the front-runner for the party nomination. Joe Biden has already, this past week, fallen behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Iowa, New Hampshire and California. The Quinnipiac poll has her taking the lead nationally for the nomination, with Biden dropping into second place for the first time since he announced his candidacy.

By making Ukraine the focus of the impeachment drive in the House, Pelosi has also assured that the questionable conduct of Biden and son Hunter Biden will be front and center for the next four months before Iowa votes.

What did Joe do? By his own admission, indeed his boast, as vice president he ordered then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to either fire the prosecutor who was investigating the company that hired Hunter Biden for $50,000 a month or forgo a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee that Kiev needed to stay current on its debts.

Biden insists the Ukrainian prosecutor was corrupt, that Hunter had done no wrong, that he himself was unaware of his son’s business ties.

All these assertions have been contradicted or challenged.

There is another question raised by Biden’s ultimatum to Kiev to fire the corrupt prosecutor or forgo the loan guarantee. Why was the U.S. guaranteeing loans to a Kiev regime that had to be threatened by the U.S. with bankruptcy to get it to rid itself of a prosecutor whom all of Europe supposedly knew to be corrupt?

Whatever the truth of the charges, the problem here is that any investigation of potential corruption of Hunter Biden, and of the role of his father, the former vice president, in facilitating it, will be front and center in presidential politics between now and New Hampshire.

This is bad news for the Biden campaign. And the principal beneficiary of Pelosi’s decision that put Joe and Hunter Biden at the center of an impeachment inquiry is, again, Warren.

Warren already appears to have emerged victorious in her battle with Bernie Sanders to become the progressives’ first choice in 2020. And consider how, as she is rising, her remaining opposition is fast fading.

Sen. Kamala Harris has said she is moving her campaign to Iowa for a do-or-die stand in the first battleground state. Sen. Cory Booker has called on donors to raise $1.7 million in 10 days, or he will have to pack it in. As Biden, Sanders, Harris and Booker fade, and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg hovers at 5 or 6% in national and state polls, Warren steadily emerges as the probable nominee.

One measure of how deeply Biden is in trouble, whether he is beginning to be seen as too risky, given the allegations against him and his son, will be the new endorsements his candidacy receives after this week of charges and countercharges.

If there is a significant falling off, it could be fatal.

Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Corruption | | 1 Comment

Ministry of Health Warns of Whitewashing Attempt behind American Hospital Project

IMEMC News & Agencies – September 27, 2019

The Ministry of Health, today, reiterated its rejection of the establishment an American field hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip, warning of the existence of dubious intentions behind it, while considering it an attempt “to whitewash the Israeli occupation, whose hands are covered with Palestinian blood,” and a step to further separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.

The Ministry said, in a statement, that “this project seeks to achieve Israeli goals aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause and fragmenting it, and to create additional justifications for the creation of a mini-state in the Gaza Strip at the expense of Palestinian history and rights.”

It said: “The objectives of this project are known to everyone who can see and think. Israel is the first and last beneficiary, as it will prevent Palestinian patients from reaching hospitals in the West Bank and Jerusalem, for treatment.”

The Ministry of Health condemned the claim by the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip, Hamas, that this project has no political connotations, stressing that it was part of a political agreement between Hamas, Israel and the US.

It wondered, “Why would the United States, which has cut off support for hospitals in occupied Jerusalem threatening as a result the lives of Palestinian patients, support the establishment of a hospital in the Gaza Strip, unless its real purpose behind it is to harm the Palestinians and harm and destroy their rights?”

It said “the attempt by the de facto authority in Gaza to claim that the project was a support from an ‘American institution’ to divert attention from the US administration’s support for it, is nothing but a failed attempt to get out of this impasse. Any project implemented by any American institution must first get the blessing and approved of the White House.”

The ministry said, according to WAFA, that “if this project was an innocent one and aims to serve our people, why not develop the existing Gaza Strip hospitals located in all areas of the Gaza Strip, and not in the northern Gaza Strip under the pretext of ‘facilitating the movement of its employees to enter and exit from the territory of 1948 (Israel)’? Is the facilitation of entry and exit of staff, who we do not know anything about their qualifications, nationalities, affiliations and goals, more pressing than facilitating the arrival of patients to the hospitals?”

It added: “If this project was so innocent, why is it being planned in secret without the knowledge of the Ministry of Health, which has carried out projects in the hundreds of millions (of dollars) in the Gaza Strip with the support of the Arab brothers, donor countries and international organizations, and why is this particular project kept secret while hiding the identity of the hospital operator and its staff, especially after the de facto authority in Gaza said that its staff will come to the hospital and leave it to the 1948 territory?”

The Ministry of Health says that it is doing all it can, despite the financial crisis it is facing, to meet the needs of the people in the Gaza Strip, and especially its various health centers.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments