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‘Everyday Censorship’ Proposed That Should Enrage Us All

21st Century Wire | June 22, 2018

When one of the creators of the Internet as we know it today (not you Al Gore!) voices their discontent with the latest overstep of power towards full throttle censorship, you know it’s serious business.

Tim Berners-Lee, best known for his work helping to create the World Wide Web, along with other Internet pioneers, have penned an open letter opposing the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) who voted earlier this week in favor of a plan to force publishers to automatically remove any content that appears to violate copyright.

The Independent reports this means “memes, mixes, sampling, and even reuse of news and parliamentary footage, will get caught up and deleted without warning.”

Publishers will be expected to monitor all their content uploads and check for copyright material and remove it immediately, and ostensibly by doing so automatically, as outlined in Article 13 of the proposal.

In the open letter asking MEPs to remove Article 13, the letter’s 57 signatories write:

“Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

Read more about this latest Internet censorship plan at The Independent…

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

Immigration Divides Europe and the German Left

By Diana Johnstone  | Consortium News | June 19, 2018

Freedom of movement is the founding value of the European Union. The “four freedoms” are inscribed in the binding EU treaties and directives: free movement of goods, services, capital and persons (labor) among the Member States.

Of course, the key freedom here is that of capital, the indispensable condition of neoliberal globalization. It enables international finance to go and do whatever promises to be profitable, regardless of national boundaries. The European Union is the kernel of the worldwide “Open Society”, as promoted by financier George Soros.

However, extended to the phenomenon of mass immigration, the doctrine of “free movement” is disuniting the Union.

A German Crisis

Starting in 2011, millions of Syrian refugees fled to neighboring Turkey as a result of the Western-sponsored war to overthrow the Assad regime. By 2015, Turkish president Erdogan was insisting that Europe must share the burden, and soon was threatening the European Union with opening the floodgates of refugees if his conditions were not met.

In August 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would accept all genuine refugees. Germany had already taken in over 400,000 refugees, and another 400,000 were assumed to be on the way – if not more. Although addressed to Syrians, Merkel’s invitation was widely interpreted as an unlimited invitation to anyone who wanted to come Germany for whatever reason. In addition to a smaller number of refugee families, long lines of young men from all points east streamed through the Balkans, heading for Germany or Sweden.

The criminal destruction of the government of Libya in 2011 opened the floodgates to immigrants from Africa and beyond. The distinction between refugees and economic migrants was lost in the crowd.

Germans themselves were sharply polarized between those who welcomed the commitment to Christian charity and those who dreaded the probable effects. The differences were too highly charged emotionally, too subjective to be easily discussed in a rational way. Finally, it depends on whether you think of immigrants as individuals or as a mass. Concerning individuals, compassion reigns. You want to get to know that person, make a friend, help a fellow human being.

As a mass, it is different because you have to think also of social results and you do not know whom you are getting. On the one hand, there are the negative effects: labor market competition which lowers wages, the cost of caring for people with no income, the potential for antisocial behavior on the part of alienated individuals, rivalry for housing space, cultural conflicts, additional linguistic and educational problems. But for those whose ideal is a world without borders, the destruction of the oppressive nation state and endless diversity, unlimited immigration is a welcome step in the direction of their utopia.

These conflicting attitudes rule out any consensus.

As other EU countries were called upon to welcome a proportionate share of the refugee influx, resentment grew that a German chancellor could unilaterally make such a dramatic decision affecting them all. The subsequent effort to impose quotas of immigrants on member states has run up against stubborn refusal on the part of Eastern European countries whose populations, unlike Germany, or Western countries with an imperialist past, are untouched by a national sense of guilt or responsibilities toward inhabitants of former colonies.

After causing a growing split between EU countries, the immigrant crisis is now threatening to bring down Merkel’s own Christian Democratic (CDU) government. Her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer, from the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union, has declared that he “can’t work with this woman” (Merkel) on immigration policy and favors joining together with Austria and Italy in a tough policy to stop migration.

The conflict over immigration affects even the relatively new leftist party, Die Linke (The Left).

A good part of the European left, whatever its dissatisfaction with EU performance, is impregnated with its free movement ideology, and has interiorized “open borders” as a European “value” that must be defended at all costs. It is forgotten that EU “freedom of movement” was not intended to apply to migrants from outside the Union. It meant freedom to move from one EU state to another. As an internationally recognized human right, freedom of movement refers solely to the right of a citizen to leave and return to her own country.

In an attempt to avoid ideological polarization and define a clear policy at the Left party’s congress early this month, a working group presented a long paper setting out ideas for a “humane and social regulated leftist immigration policy”. The object was to escape from the aggressive insistence on the dichotomy: either you are for immigration or you are against it, and if you are against it, you must be racist.

The group paper observed that there are not two but three approaches to immigration: for it, against it, and regulation. Regulation is the humane and socially beneficial way.

While reiterating total support for the right of asylum including financial and social aid for all persons fleeing life-threatening situations, the paper insisted on the need to make the distinction between asylum seekers and economic migrants. The latter should be welcomed within the capacity of communities to provide them with a decent life: possibilities of work, affordable housing and social integration. They noted that letting in all those who hope to improve their economic standing might favor a few individual winners but would not favor the long-term interests either of the economic losers or of the country of origin, increasing its dependence and even provoking a brain drain as educated professionals seek advancement in a richer country.

There was hope that this would settle the issue. This did not happen. Instead, the party’s most popular leader found herself the target of angry emotional protests due to her defense of this sensible approach.

Sahra and Oskar

As elsewhere in Europe, the traditional left has drastically declined in recent years. The long-powerful German Social Democratic Party (SPD) has lost its working-class base as a result of its acceptance, or rather, promotion of neoliberal socioeconomic policies. The SPD has been absorbed by the Authoritarian Center, reduced to junior partner in Angela Merkel’s conservative government.

Die Linke, formed in 2007 by the merger of leftist groups in both East and West Germany, describes itself as socialist but largely defends the social democratic policies abandoned by the SPD. It is the obvious candidate to fill the gap. In elections last September, while the SPD declined to 20%, Die Linke slightly improved its electoral score to almost 10%. But its electorate is largely based in the middle class intelligentsia. The party that captured the most working-class votes was the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), considered far right populist – largely because its growing success at the polls is due to popular rejection of mass immigration.

There are two way of looking at this.

One way, the Clintonite way, is to dismiss the working class as a bunch of deplorables who do not deserve to have their interests defended. If they oppose immigration, it can only be because they have impure souls, besmirched by racism and “hate”.

Another way is to consider that the grievances of ordinary people need to be listened to, and that they need to be presented with clear, well-defined, humane political choices, instead of being dismissed and insulted.

This is the viewpoint of Sahra Wagenknecht, currently co-leader of Die Linke in the Bundestag.

Wagenknecht in the Bundestag  (Photo – Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

Wagenknecht was born in East Germany 48 years ago to an Iranian father and German mother. She is highly educated, with a Ph.D. in economics and is author of books on the young Marx’s interpretation of Hegel, on “The Limits of Choice: Saving Decisions and Basic Needs in Developed Countries” and “Prosperity Without Greed”. The charismatic Sahra has become one of the most popular politicians in Germany. Polls indicate that a quarter of German voters would vote for her as Chancellor.

But there is a catch: her party, Die Linke. Many who would vote for her would not vote for her party, and many in her own party would be reluctant to support her. Why? Immigration.

Sahra’s strongest supporter is Oskar Lafontaine, 74, her partner and now her husband. A scientist by training with years of political experience in the leadership of the SPD, Lafontaine was a strong figure in the 1980s protest movement against nuclear missiles stationed in Germany and remains an outspoken critic of U.S. and NATO militarism – a difficult position in Germany. In 1999 he resigned as finance minister because of his disagreement with the neoliberal policy turn of SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schoeder. He is a consistent critic of financial capitalism and the euro, calling for a change of European monetary policy that would permit selective devaluation and thus relieve the economically weaker member states of their crushing debt burden.

After leaving the SPD in 2005, Lafontaine went on to co-found Die Linke, which absorbed the post-East German Party of Democratic Socialism led by lawyer Gregor Gysi. A few years later he withdrew into the political background, encouraging the rising career of his much younger partner Sahra Wagenknecht.

Lafontaine can be likened to Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Jean-Luc Mélenchon as a left leader who has retained basic social and antiwar principles from the past and aspires to carry them into the future, against the rising right-wing tide in Europe.

The Wagenknecht-Lafontaine couple advocate social policies favorable to the working class, demilitarization, peaceful relations with Russia and the rest of a multipolar world. Both are critical of the euro and its devastating effects on Member State economies. They favor regulated immigration. Critical of the European Union, they belong to what can be called the national left, which believes that progressive policies can still be carried out on the national level.

The Globalizing Left

Die Linke is split between the national left, whose purpose is to promote social policies within the framework of the nation-state, and the globalization left, which considers that important policy decisions must be made at a higher level than the nation.

As co-leader of the Linke fraction in the Bundestag, Wagenknecht champions the national left, while another woman, the party co-chair Katja Kipping, also an academic of East German origin, speaks for the globalization left.

In a July 2016 article criticizing Brexit, Kipping made it clear that for her the nation is an anachronism unsuitable for policy making. Like others of her persuasion, she equates the nation with “nationalism”. She also immediately identifies any criticism of mass immigration with scapegoating: “Nationalism doesn’t improve our lives, it makes the poor only poorer, it takes nothing from the rich, but instead blames refugees and migrants for all present misery.”

The idea that social reform must henceforth take place only on the European level has paralyzed left parties for decades. The most extreme of the globalizing left shove their expectations even beyond the European Union in hopes of eventual revolution at the global level, as preached by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in their joint books Empire and Multitude

According to Negri, an alarmingly influential Italian theorist who has been dead wrong ever since the 1970s, the final great global revolution will result from the spontaneous self-liberation of the “multitude”. This is a sort of pie in the sky, projecting hopes beyond the here and now to some desirable future made inevitable by the new immaterial means of production (Negri’s boneless imitation of Marxism). Whether or not they have read him, many anarchist anti-globalist notions of The End Times are in harmony with Negri’s optimistically prophetic view of globalization: it may be bad now, but if it goes far enough, it will be perfect.

Since the globalization left considers the nation state inapt to make the revolution, its abolition is seen as a step in the right direction – which happens to coincide with the worldwide takeover of international financial capital. Its core issue, and the one it uses to condemn its adversaries in the national left, is immigration. Katya Kipping advocates “open borders” as a moral obligation. When critics point out that this is not a practical suggestion, the globalization left replies that it doesn’t matter, it is a principle that must be upheld for the future.

To make her policy line even more unrealistic, Kipping calls for both “open borders” and a guaranteed minimum income for everyone.

It is easy to imagine both the enthusiastic response to such a proposal in every poor country in the world and its horrified rejection by German voters.

What can motivate leaders of a political party to make such flagrantly unpopular and unrealizable proposals, guaranteed to alienate the vast majority of the electorate?

Kipling: Globalized immigration in line with international finance. (Getty)

One apparent source of such fantasy can be attributed to a certain post-Christian, post-Auschwitz bad conscience prevalent in sectors of the intelligentsia, to whom politics is more like a visit to the confession booth than an effort to win popular support. Light a candle and your sins will be forgiven! Many local charitable organizations actually put their beliefs in practice by providing material aid to migrants. But the task is too great for volunteers; at present proportions it requires governmental organization.

Another, more virulent strain of the open border advocates is found among certain anarchists, conscious or unconscious disciples of Hardt and Negri, who see open borders as a step toward destroying the hated nation state, drowning despised national identities in a sea of “minorities”, thereby hastening the advent of worldwide revolution.

The decisive point is that both these tendencies advocate policies which are perfectly compatible with the needs of international financial capital. Large scale immigration by diverse ethnic communities unwilling or unable to adapt the customs of the host country (which is often the case in Europe today, where the host country may be despised for past sins), weakens the ability of society to organize and resist the dictates of financial capital. The newcomers may not only destabilize the situation of already accepted immigrant populations, they can introduce unexpected antagonisms and conflicts. In both France and Germany, groups of Eritrean migrants have come to blows with Afghan migrants, and other prejudices and vendettas lurk, not to mention dangerous elements of religious fanaticism.

In foreign policy, the globalization left tends to accept the political and media mainstream criticism of Wagenknecht as a Putin apologist for her position regarding Syria and Russia. The globalist left sometimes seems to be more intent on arranging the rest of the world to suit their standards than finding practical solutions to problems at home. Avoiding war is also a serious problem to be dealt with at the national level.

Despite the acrimonious debates at the June 8 to 10 party congress, Die Linke did not split. But faced with the deadlock on important questions, Wagenknecht and her supporters are planning to launch a new trans-party movement in September, intended to attract disenchanted fugitives from the SPD among others in order to debate and promote specific issues rather than to hurl labels at each other. For the left, the question today is not merely the historic, “What is to be done?” but rather a desperate, Can anything be done?

And if they don’t do it, somebody else will.


Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness, was published by Clarity Press, with her commentary. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr .

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Time for America to Cut Loose Our Useless So-Called ‘Allies’

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 16.06.2018

US President Donald J. Trump spent the last week or so churning out initiatives that seemed deliberately calculated to set his critics’ hair on fire:

  • He met as an equal with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un – who is a very bad man!
  • He stated again his willingness to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin – an even worse man!
  • He mocked and threatened our trading partners – and slapped tariffs on them!
  • He suggested that an impenitent Russia (a very bad country!) should be let back into the genteel company of the Group of Seven!
  • He topped everything off by suggesting that Russian-speaking Crimea should be part of – Russia!

As summed up by vulgar Republican, Never-Trump apparatchik Rick Wilson:

‘After the last week, Trump is clearly a man who puts the dick in dictator. He’s a fanboy of Putin, Kim, Duterte, and a dog’s breakfast of the worst examples of oppression, thuggery, and anti-Western values the globe has to offer. [ . . . ]

‘[T]his week, Trump’s love of authoritarians, dictatorships and his actions and words came together. Donald Trump first went to the G-7 to wreck the proceedings with a combination of insult-comic schtick, diplomatic demolition derby, Putin cheerleading, and giant-toddler petulance.

‘He followed that with the Singapore Shitshow. It was a monstrous reality TV event, as was intended. But it left our putative allies wondering at the new Axis of Assholes Trump has joined—the CRANK: China, Russia, America and North Korea. By the end, it didn’t feel like he was after denuclearization but management tips from the portly little thug Kim.

‘For the American president to normalize, excuse, and ally himself with the worst of the world’s bad actors while insulting, degrading, and destroying our allies and alliances would be appalling in any circumstance. The fact that Trump acts like a bumbling, eager fraternity pledge, desperate to join Phi Sigma Dictator makes it all the worse.’

For the moment, let’s put aside Trump’s alleged sympathy for authoritarianism and focus on the accusation that Trump is “insulting, degrading, and destroying our allies and alliances,” a view held across the Establishment spectrum, from neoconservatives like Max Boot to far-Left Democratic California Congresswoman Maxine Waters (famed for her concern about Russian aggression in nonexistent Limpopo). How dare Trump threaten such valuable relationships!

Except these so-called ‘allies and alliances’ aren’t valuable to the United States. They’re a positive danger and a detriment.

Let’s get one thing straight: the United States has no real allies. There are countries we dominate and control, more properly termed client states or even satellites. (True, given Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s lock-stock-and-barrel ownership of the American political class, it seems rather that we are their clients, not the other way around…) Conversely, on an almost one-to-one correspondence, countries that are not satellites are our enemies, either currently (Russia, North Korea, Iran, Syria) or prospectively (China).

But do we have any actual allies – that is, countries that provide mutual security for the United States, and whose contributions actually make us Americans safer and more secure in our own country?

Try to name one.

Let’s start with the granddaddy of our alliances, NATO. How does having a mutual defense pact with, say, virulently anti-Russian Poland and the Baltic States make America more secure? How does, say, tiny corrupt Montenegro, contribute to US security? Are these countries going to defend America in any conceivable way? Even if they wanted to, how could they possibly?

For that matter, against what ‘threat’ would they defend us? Is Latvia going to help build Trump’s Wall on the Mexican border?

‘Our NATO allies help out in Afghanistan,’ we are told.  NATO-Schmato – it’s Americans who do almost all the fighting and dying. It’s our treasure being wasted there. Maybe without the fig leaf of an alliance mission, we might long since have reevaluated what we still are doing there after 17 years.

But comes the answer, ‘Russia!’ Except that Russia isn’t a threat to the United States. Despite their hype even the most antagonistic Russophobic countries in NATO themselves don’t really believe they’re about to be invaded. And even if they were, that still doesn’t make Russia a threat to us – or wouldn’t except for the very existence of NATO and a forward American presence on Russia’s borders and in the Black and Baltic seas littorals. How does gratuitously risking conflict with the one country on the planet whose strategic arsenal can annihilate us make Americans safer?

As Professor Richard Sakwa has observed, ‘NATO exists to manage the risks created by its existence.’

Let’s look at other supposedly valuable alliances.

Why do we need South Korea and Japan? ‘China!’ But except for a nuclear stockpile much smaller than our intercontinental deterrent China doesn’t present a military threat to us. ‘Yes, but Beijing poses a danger to South Korea and Japan.’ Maybe, maybe not. But even if that is so why is it our problem?

Why do we need Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and bunch of other Middle Eastern countries? We aren’t dependent on energy from the region as we arguably were when Jimmy Carter proclaimed a vital national interest there four decades ago. ‘Well then, Iran!’ But the Iranians can’t do anything to us. ‘Yes, but they hate Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc., etc.’ Again, what’s that got to do with us?

In each case the argument of a US interest is a tautology. The US ‘needs’ allies for the sole purpose of defense against purported threats not to us but to those very same allies. It’s a self-licking ice cream cone.

It would be bad enough if these faux alliance relationships were only detrimental in terms of getting embroiled in quarrels in which we have no interest, wasting money and manpower in areas of the world where our security is not at stake. But there’s also a direct economic cost right here at home.

Based on the claimed need for “allies” US trade policy since World War II could almost have been designed to undermine the economic interests of American workers and American producers. Starting with Germany and Japan, our defeated enemies, we offered them virtually tariff-free, nonreciprocal access to our huge domestic market to assist with their economies’ recovery from wartime destruction; in return, we would take their sovereignty: control of their foreign and security policies, as well as their military and intelligence establishments, plus permanent bases on their territory.

This arrangement became the standard with other countries in non-communist Europe, as well as some in the Far East, notably South Korea. As much or more than puffed-up claims of military threats (and companies that benefit from inflated military spending) lopsided trade is the glue that keeps the satellites in place. In effect, our “allies” cede geostrategic control of their own countries and are rewarded at the expense of domestic American economic interests. Already of questionable value in its heyday, this pattern not only survived the end of Cold War 1 but continued to grow, contributing to the rise of Cold War 2.

Put into that context, this is where Trump’s tariffs dovetail with his other blasphemies, like expecting the deadbeats to pony up for their own defense. He challenges them to reduce tariffs and barriers to zero on a reciprocal bilateral basis – knowing full well they won’t do so because it would spoil their cozy arrangement at the expense of American workers. He threatens the sanctity of the North Atlantic Treaty’s vaunted Article 5 obligation of mutual defense on whether countries meet a two percent of GDP level of military spending – knowing that few of them will since they don’t in fact face any external military threat and would rather keep the money.

In his own unvarnished, zigzaggy way, Trump is doing what he said he would: putting America and Americans first. As he has said, that does not mean hostility towards other countries, whose leaders have aduty to put their countries and peoples first as well. It means both stopping our allies’ sandbagging us, while restoring to them their unsought-for – and for many of them, undesirable – sovereignty and independence.

In the final analysis, what the likes of Rick Wilson are really afraid of is disruption of a decades-old, crooked racket that has been so lucrative for countless hangers-on and profiteers. As James P. Pinkerton, former aide to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, describes it: ‘[T]he basic geopolitical foundations of the last seven decades are being challenged and shifted – or, as critics would prefer to say, being subverted and betrayed. Yet in the meantime, even as his myriad foes prepare their next political, legal, and punditical attacks, Trump is the man astride the world stage, smiling, shaking hands, signing deals – and unmistakably remaking the old order.’

Let’s get on with it.

June 16, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Iran turns to old friends amid European exodus

Press TV – June 12, 2018

The world’s biggest container shipper Maersk Line says it is reviewing Iran operations in the face of US sanctions following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from an international nuclear deal.

Verbal pledges by European governments to shield trade with the Islamic Republic have not stopped companies from pulling out of Iran projects as they face a “wind-down” period of up to six months before the US reimposes sanctions.

On Monday, German container shipping firm Hapag-Lloyd was reported to have stopped one of its two feeder services to Iran.

The Hamburg-based group, which provides third party services to Iran, will decide on the remaining operation before the Nov. 4 US deadline for companies to halt all trade with Tehran, Reuters reported.

The company was awaiting further clarification as to what operations would be permitted after the wind-down period in order to take final decisions on whether to serve Iran, the news agency reported.

Hapag-Lloyd provides third party feeder ships to Iran from Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates because it does not have direct dealing with the Islamic Republic.

Danish shipping companies Maersk Tankers and Torm were reported last month to have stopped taking new orders in Iran.

The EU has said it remained committed to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the suspension of its own sanctions but European business entities have questioned the viability of continuing their projects after the sanctions kick in.

And in the absence of clear-cut guarantees from the European governments, Iran has started shoring up ties with the countries which stood their ground in the past when Tehran came under similar sancitons.

On Sunday, Iran President Hassan Rouhani met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing, with China’s foreign policy mouthpiece Global Times writing that the visit saw Iran’s “comprehensive strategic” relationship with China “upgraded to a new level”.

The meeting with China’s president Xi Jinping took place on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao,

China, the largest buyer of Iranian crude, did not reduce crude imports from Iran even at the height of the previous sanctions against Tehran in 2012.

In the first quarter of 2018, China’s imports of Iranian crude rose 17.3% year on year to 658,000 barrels per day, making Iran its sixth biggest supplier.

In their talks, Xi called on the two countries to deepen political relations to enhance strategic mutual trust, increase exchanges at all levels, and continue to support each other on issues of major concern involving their respective core interests, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rouhani also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who stressed the strategic importance of developing Chabahar Port for expansion of economic and regional cooperation.

India is Iran’s second biggest oil customer and its imports are expected to rise this year, even as Nayara Energy, formerly known as Essar Oil, was reported Tuesday to have decided to slash its Iran imports by almost a half.

Another key meeting on Rouhani’s itinerary was with Russian President Vladimir Putin who criticized the unilateral US move to pull out of the nuclear agreement and reimpose sanctions on Iran.

Rouhani said Iran and Russia should continue multilateral cooperation in the fields of security and regional issues.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia is Wary of Borrowing Abroad but Has Increased Foreign Debt by 10% in 2018 Anyway

Sputnik – 12.06.2018

Worried by Russia’s small foreign debt, international creditors are advising it to borrow more, but Russia’s Central Bank believes that investments, not loans, are the way to go.

Russia’s $525-billion foreign debt is dwarfed by $7.5 trillion in Britain, $5 trillion in France, $4.8 trillion in Germany and a whopping $21 trillion in the US.

This tell-tale ratio was not lost on IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde who, when speaking at the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, described Russia’s foreign debt as “considerably small” and said that it should borrow more.

The Russian Central Bank disagrees, arguing that “investments, not debt capital” should be the main source for financing the country’s economic growth.

Big Debt – Big Problems

Foreign debt may become a major problem if market conditions suddenly change for the worse. The smaller the debt, the lesser the chances of a default. Economists say that with Russia’s foreign debt accounting for just 33 percent of GDP, this is a fairly moderate debt burden.

Russia’s entire foreign debt is commensurate with the country’s gold and currency reserves of $450 billion. This means that Russia’s financial system can simply buy it back from foreign holders at any time.

Risk Minimization

Experts also say that Russia’s small foreign debt and its ability to pay it back fast makes it less dependent on foreign financing.

“The developing markets have found themselves in a bad fix with money going out and high dollar-denominated debt negatively impacting the national economies. In Russia this risk is virtually nonexistent,” TeleTrade currency strategist Alexander Yegorov told Sputnik.

A balanced budget is another reason why Russia does not need to borrow abroad.

This year Russia will have a budget surplus – the first in seven years with the Finance Ministry expecting state revenues to exceed outlays by more than half a trillion rubles ($16 billion).

A small foreign debt is also an indicator that the economy is performing well and the country is paying less interest on borrowed money.

There is one downside here, though, as this leads to a shortage of funds needed for economic growth. Russia is ready to borrow, provided that the money goes into useful and profitable projects that allow the country to easily meet its financial obligations to its foreign partners

In the first quarter of 2018, foreign sources lent Russia an estimated $17 billion in the form of sovereign Eurobonds. Another $2.3 trillion rubles ($36 billion) came from foreign investors buying federal loan bonds.

Russia’s Central Bank governor, Elvira Nabiullina, believes that Russia could borrow more abroad and use part of the money to finance various infrastructure projects inside the country.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

A hat trick for Trump’s presidential legacy

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | June 10, 2018

It is clear by now that US President Donald Trump’s remark on Thursday as he was setting out for the Group of 7 (G7) summit in Canada on the readmission of Russia into the grouping was not an off-the-cuff remark.

On Saturday, the American leader revisited the idea, insisting that it would do a world of good for G7 countries and the world – and for the United States, in particular. (The G7 is comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and United States.)

That Trump launched the trial balloon after a discussion at the G7 gathering is important. Trump suggested certain progress in that direction had been made behind closed doors:

“It has been discussed. We didn’t do votes or anything, but it has been discussed. Some people like the idea of bringing Russia back in. This used to be the G8, not the G7…. I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good for the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7.”

Trump also said: I think the G8 would be better. I think having Russia back in would be a positive thing. We’re looking for peace in the world. We’re not looking to play games…. I would rather see Russia in the G8 as opposed to the G7.

The American leader also implied that Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 prompting its expulsion from the G7 and imposition of economic sanctions against Moscow, doesn’t have to be an obstacle. He pinned much of the blame for the Crimea standoff on his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump said:

“Well, you know, you have to ask [US] President [Barack] Obama, because he was the one that let Crimea get away. That was during his administration. And he was the one that let Russia go and spend a lot of money on Crimea, because they’ve spent a lot of money on rebuilding it. I guess they have their submarine port there and such. But Crimea was let go during the Obama administration.

“And, you know, Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude. So you’d really have to ask that question to President Obama — you know, why did he do that; why did he do that. But with that being said, it’s been done a long time… I would say that the G8 is a more meaningful group than the G7, absolutely.”

So what was Trump getting at? To be sure, the context is important. Trump used the G7 meeting to pile pressure on his major Western allies, threatening to cut off US’ trade ties with them unless they acceded to his demands on “fair and reciprocal” trade and a no-tariffs, no-subsidies global trade order.

His unilateral call for Russia’s reintegration into the G7 was a reminder that Trump has options. This is one thing. Second, Trump spoke following Austria’s confirmation that it has transmitted a proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin for an early summit with him. (Putin has since said that “the ball is in the US’ court.”)

Trump has opened a Pandora’s box with his pro-Russia call. And he couldn’t be unaware that the sanctions issue is key to Russia’s readmission into the G7.

In fact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promptly retorted: “We have discussed Russia’s participation (in G7). In my view, there is a need for significant progress in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements [concerning a resolution to the conflict in Ukraine], so for now I don’t see any possibility of Russia’s participation.”

The G7 final communiqué also took a tough line on sanctions, warning to “take further restrictive measures in order to increase costs on Russia.” It also demanded that Moscow should “cease its destabilizing behavior to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime.”

On balance, Trump is creating the raison d’etre of a summit meeting with Putin, which in normal times would have caused an uproar in the US. But why shouldn’t Trump alone have no high-level meeting with Russia because of sanctions?

America’s major Western allies, including Germany, France, Italy and Japan – show no such compunctions. By raising the bar to a new high threshold – Russia’s readmission into the G7 – Trump has won greater acceptability for a possible summit with Putin.

Unwittingly, perhaps, he’s also brought to the fore another big question: Are the sanctions against Russia relevant anymore now that it’s effectively “business as usual” between Russia and other Western powers?

On Thursday, the chiefs of the general staff of the US and Russia – General Joseph Dunford and General Valery Gerasimov – met in Helsinki to discuss US-Russian relations, Syria and international security issues.

The paradox here is that the Europeans expect the US to stand up to Russia, but have no qualms about doing business with Russia themselves. And while there is an apparent growing body of EU members that stand for lifting sanctions against Russia, no one wants to bell the cat apart from Trump.

Trump has repeatedly made the point that if Western allies want the US to lead on security matters, they must reciprocate by shoring up his vision of “America First.” At the final G7 press conference before leaving Canada for Singapore for his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump sounded confident that he is getting his way on trade issues.

Trump is thus building his case to be among the most underrated American presidents in modern history. In a momentous week, he has decisively pushed forward his agenda of “fair and reciprocal” trade, prepared the ground to re-engage Russia and is now headed for what appears to be a successful opening with North Korea.

Any one of these achievements, if capped, would make for a brilliant presidential legacy.

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

French Thought Police and the Creeping Dictatorship of Virtue

By Jean Bricmont | Consortium News | June 11, 2018

The French government of Emmanuel Macron has introduced a new law to protect the French from “fake news” during election periods. This vaguely drafted amendment to existing press law seems to have been inspired by Macron’s resentment at rumors circulated against him during last year’s presidential election – which didn’t prevent him from winning. Widely opposed by opposition parties from left to right, and by most journalists, this amendment fits in all too well with the growing establishment campaign to censor dissident opinion by one means or another. The main pretext is the copycat Clintonite accusation of Russian “interference in Western elections.”

Applying initially only to election periods, to protect “our democracy”, this attempt to legislate the difference between true and false is a dangerous step in the door toward official censorship. Similar plans to ban “fake news” are brewing on the European level.

The law is superfluous to start with, since the existing 1881 French press law already sanctions insults, defamation and the artificial creation of panic, such as shouting fire in a crowded theater. But Macron’s government wants to go much farther, outlawing the spread of “false information”, obscurely defined as “alleging or lending credibility to a fact lacking verifiable elements of a nature to make it believable”. (…“une allégation ou imputation d’un fait dépourvue d’éléments vérifiables de nature à la rendre vraisemblable”.)

This definition is both unclear and potentially far-reaching.

To start with, a skeptic could ask what are the “verifiable elements” proving the existence of God, of life after death or of the effectiveness of prayer. There goes religion. How about the “verifiable elements” proving the effectiveness of astrology? There go some popular daily newspaper features. Numerous scientists have raised questions as to the “verifiable elements” justifying psychoanalysis without receiving satisfactory answers. Should psychobabble be banned in the name of combatting fake news?

And what should be done with post-modern French philosophy, whose most famous names take psychoanalysis very seriously and pride themselves on leaping to subjective conclusions? No one proliferates more fact-free assertions than Bernard-Henri Lévy, which so far has not interfered with his position on the board of major media from Le Monde to the cultural channel Arte.

But that’s only the beginning. What do we do with scientific theories that have been advanced without experimental confirmation? For example, string theory in physics and various hypotheses in cosmology.

In fact, many scientific discoveries begin with unproven hypotheses. Better not mention them!

Bernard-Henri Lévy: No one proliferates more fact-free assertions. (CNN Screenshot.)

And what about mainstream media? In one recent news report after another (Skripal poisoning, chemical weapons attacks in Syria, the falsified murder in Ukraine of an anti-Putin journalist, not to mention the responsibility for firing a missile that shot down a Malaysian airliner in July 2014), there is a big difference between the Western version of the facts and that which prevails in Russia, Malaysia, Syria and much of the non-Western world.

A Mental Border with Russia

Instead of Pascal’s “truth on this side of the Pyrenees, and error on the other side”, we would be establishing “truth on one side of the Mediterranean, error on the other”. Or rather, truth exists up to the Eastern border of NATO, with error on the other side. This is no way to advance toward universal understanding. The only way to resolve our differences with the rest of the world is free discussion. Inasmuch as the law against fake news seems to be designed mainly to counter what Western governments describe as Russian propaganda, there is a strong likelihood that it can only enforce the mental border between us and the Russians.

When the independent journalist André Bercoff simply raised a couple of questions concerning anomalies in reports of the amazing rescue by Mamoudou Gassama of a child hanging from a Paris balcony, his own colleagues instantly condemned him for “provoking doubts” and engaging in “conspiracy theories”. The official regulatory agency, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, hastened to open an investigation… of Bercoff. President Macron had invited Gassama to the Elysee Palace, offering him French citizenship and making the event an exemplary national legend. Thus sacred.

It is an odd sign of the times to reproach a journalist for asking questions. Leaving aside the rescue incident, raising questions used to be considered a primary function of journalism. If it is better to let ten guilty persons go free than to imprison one innocent man, in terms of rational scientific method, it is better to have ten extravagant doubts than one unchallengeable dogma.

It is true that what the dominant media call “conspiracy theories”, going everywhere from legitimate questioning of their own narratives and of official assertions to the wildest fantasies, do indeed proliferate on social media. But can anyone believe that describing Bercoff’s doubts as “conspiracy theorizing” will in any way stem that proliferation?

Françoise Nyssen: Public broadcasts must combat reactionary ideas.

The French Minister of culture, Françoise Nyssen, has decided that public radio and television, financed by taxpayers, should be devoted to combatting French people’s “highly reactionary” ideas, notably concerning “diversity”. Note that Macron’s ruling party, Republic in Movement, considers “reactionary” exactly what was considered progressive only a few decades ago: defense of public services and national sovereignty. Is it legitimate to oblige adults to pay for their own ideological re-education?

I by no means suggest that the current government is consciously intent on installing a totalitarian regime. The problem stems rather from the overwhelming subjectivism of contemporary culture in which talk of “values” leaves little space for concern for facts or objectivity. This is increasingly true even in discussions of scientific or technical progress. Of course, legislation cannot be fully objective, but since the Enlightenment reflection on freedom, the ideal has been to seek to establish reasonable rules to protect the individual from arbitrary power. This rule applies particularly to freedom of expression.

Those who speak endlessly of their values are merely trying to show off their own moral superiority. That is the basis of the corruption of the legal system in the matter of “fake news”, the reaction to Bercoff’s doubts, and the crusade of Madame Nyssen against what she considers “reactionary ideas”. Once a group of people convince themselves that they embody Virtue itself thanks to their “values”, they become unable to perceive any legitimate grounds for limiting their own power. That could be called the totalitarianism of the naïve.

This article originally appeared on RT’s French-language site. It was translated and adapted by Diana Johnstone. 


Jean Bricmont is professor of theoretical physics at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), and author of numerous articles and books, including Humanitarian Imperialism, La République des Censeurs,and Fashionable Nonsense (with Alan Sokal).

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Europe leaders unanimously reject Trump’s call to Russia’s return to G7: France

Press TV – June 9, 2018

European members of the G7 industrial nations have unanimously rejected a call by US President Donald Trump for Russia’s readmission to the group.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and new Italian premier Giuseppe Conte agreed on a collective stance on Russia at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, said a senior aide to President Emmanuel Macron on Friday as cited in an AFP report.

“The common European position is against the return of Russia,” said the unidentified aide while speaking to reporters, noting that the European leaders did leave open “the possibility of establishing dialogue” with Moscow.

Moscow was suspended from the G7 club in 2014 after Crimea joined Russia in a referendum.

“We are in agreement that a return of Russia to the G7 cannot happen unless substantial progress is made in terms of the problems with Ukraine,” Merkel said.

Trump made the surprise call for Russia’s return to the group’s pre-2014 “G8” formula prior to his trip to Canada.

“They threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,” Trump said.

According to press reports, even US officials travelling with Trump expressed surprise by his suggestion and indicated that it was not planned. This is while Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland emphasized that it had not been formally put on the G7 agenda.

The US president also slammed American western trade partners, saying “all of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade.”

“We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out,” he added.

Meanwhile, Donald TUSK, President of the European Council, viewed the call for Russia’s return as part of a raft of unilateral measures imposed by Trump that have driven Washington apart from the US allies.

“It is evident that the American president and the rest of the group continue to disagree on trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal,” Tusk emphasized.

Tusk further warned that “the rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly not by the usual suspects but by its main architect and guarantor, the US.”

Russia, China cooperation at ‘unprecedented level’

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a visit to China on Friday that cooperation between Moscow and Beijing is at an all-time high.

“Cooperation with China is one of Russia’s top priorities and it has reached an unprecedented level,” Putin said.

Xi also said the countries have “always firmly taken the development of relations as a priority direction.”

They have “resolutely supported the other’s core interests … and jointly proactively participated in international affairs and global governance,” Xi added.

According to press reports, Russia and China have responded to the US national security strategy describing them as America’s top adversaries by pledging to further expand their economic, political and military cooperation.

The two leaders also signed a statement saying that “in conditions of a growing global instability and uncertainty” Russia and China will “deepen their consultations on strategic stability issues.”

They also vowed to “expand counter-terrorism cooperation,” boost contacts between their militaries and encourage joint international efforts to fight terrorism “without any double standards.”

The statement further censured Washington’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and said they would try to keep it alive and ensure further trade with Iran.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | | 1 Comment

The Next US President Will Save Europe From Russia’s Secret Plot

ORIENTAL REVIEW | June 8, 2018

On the eve of his visit to Austria, President Vladimir Putin told the press: Russia has not the least intention of sowing dissent within the European Union. On the contrary, it is in Moscow’s interests that the EU, its biggest trading partner, remain as unified and thriving as possible.

Europeans have long been quite obsessed with the idea that Russia is bent on dividing and weakening Europe. In the most prominent English-language media this is practically presumed to be as obviously true as their claims that Russia killed the blogger Arkady Babchenko, attempted to murder the spy Sergei Skripal, and shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

As usual, after the Malaysian government admitted that the evidence of Russian involvement in the downing of flight MH17 was inconclusive, the anti-Russian propaganda campaigns were reduced to slim pickings. It was precisely for this reason that the more cutting-edge Western media were so happy to latch onto the murder of the blogger in Kiev. It was precisely for this reason that the very ones who had so desperately hyped that whole episode were so indignant when they realized that they had fallen victim to a bit of ruthless Ukrainian creative license.

But let’s get back to Russia’s secret plots against Europe. Interestingly, when you trace back the source of most of the warnings about the Russian plots to divide Europe, they seem to emanate from Great Britain. In other words, they are coming from a government that has decided to pull out of the EU but is now trying to direct its foreign policy.

Allegations of Russian plans to fragment Europe have been heard from both the head of Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency as well as from spokesmen from the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR). Judging by its name, one might be forgiven for assuming that was supposed to be a pan-European organization. But actually that’s just what’s written on the shingle they hang outside their door, because in fact this “think tank” is headquartered and funded in London.

It turns out that the most prominently schismatic states in Europe also hold wildly anti-Russian stances. Neither Great Britain, nor, shall we say, Poland could be suspected of a dearth of official Russophobia. Both of them, each in their own way, are trying to ruin the lives of those countries that form the core of the EU.  Both have closed their doors to refugees and both are bravely waging war against an “influx” of natural gas that theoretically has nothing to do with them. Poland, which gets 17 billion euros a year from the EU budget, has the audacity to be demanding reparations from Germany. Britain, which slammed its doors shut in order to avoid chipping in to fund the EU, is valiantly battling Brussels in order to hold on to its economic perks in Europe.

And in this context, the EU’s biggest common ally — the US — is becoming an increasingly big problem. Washington has unleashed an economic war, not only against Russia and Iran, but also against the countries of Europe. But in the propaganda being rolled out for the European audience, the picture of the world looks like this:

The European Union’s main enemies are Russia and China. It’s true that they do want to trade with Europe and are offering enticements to encourage this, but one mustn’t believe them. Because it is a known fact that they are conducting a hybrid war — invisibly and unprovably — against Europe. Russia is such a wily combatant that one can’t ever prove anything — but you have to believe that it’s true. The European Union’s biggest friend is still the US. And yes, it’s true that they are currently trying to run their friends out of town in order to make a quick buck. But it’s solely President Trump who is to blame for that. Just be patient: soon the next president will come and fix everything right up. And it’s also true that no one can say when that next president will be in office, or what his name will be, or what he will do. And of course everyone remembers the Obama administration’s ceaseless attempts to foist an entirely colonial “transatlantic partnership” on Europe. But once Trump’s gone everything will be different — you just have to believe.

And this “you just have to believe” has recently become the main leitmotif of all the anti-Russian propaganda. Since the preferred narrative about the spy, the blogger, and airliner haven’t panned out, the proof of Russia’s malice is increasingly being repackaged as a kind of spiritual evidence. As the Guardian put it so aptly — “We do not need Russia to poison people in a British city to recognise the expanding threat to common values posed by Vladimir Putin’s hostile, corrupt regime.”

But then how can one explain that in reality, the opposite is true, that Russia actually needs a unified, rich and strong European Union? This isn’t rocket science, people — you don’t need to invoke “values” and chant the mantra of “you just have to believe.”

Russia needs a rich EU, because a rich trading partner has a more purchasing power, which gives Russia a positive trade balance with the EU.

Russia needs a unified EU, because a unified Europe that manages its own security issues from a centralized headquarters will present far fewer problems for Moscow than a string of feckless “friends of the US” along Russia’s western borders.

Russia needs a sovereign EU, because the anti-Russian trade sanctions serve no economic purpose for the EU whatsoever — and once Europe establishes sovereignty we will quite likely see those sanctions lifted.

And it is no coincidence that Austria was the first foreign country that Vladimir Putin visited after his inauguration.

That country is European, rich, and neutral (therefore not a member of NATO) and has been a staunch advocate for the rollback of Europe’s anti-Russian policy.

In other words, in Austria you can see a potential model for the kind of independent European Union that Russia would like to deal with in the twenty-first century.

And this is why the ones who are now so fervently preaching about “shared values” and “Western unity” when faced with the treachery of those natural-gas pipelines and that Eurasian trade route are actually demanding that Europe do itself a disservice by remaining deferential.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran Prepares to Start Uranium Enrichment

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.06.2018

Iran has launched preparations to boost its uranium enriching capacity. The decision is the result of the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JPCOA). Tehran has begun work on infrastructure to build advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility. It also plans to secure nuclear fuel for the Bushehr power plant. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was informed of its plans to increase the enrichment within the limits of the 2015 deal with world powers.

This is a signal that Iran will not comply with the JPCOA if it collapses. Tehran wants European banks to take the risk and safeguard trade. Oil sales must be guaranteed and the losses resulting from US sanctions must be compensated by Brussels. The demand for new negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional policy must be abandoned as these issues are not related to the JPCOA.

The EU is trying to preserve the agreement but it’s hard to see how private companies could be convinced to deal with Tehran running the risk of American punitive measures. Peugeot, Total, and Italy’s Danieli have already halted or are preparing to halt their ties with Iran.

Actually, the chances that Europeans would be able to protect their companies dealing with Iran from the effects of US sanctions are slim at best. If so, Iran has no reason to comply with the deal anymore. Why should it? It was not Iran who tore it up. If it’s not working, then why should Tehran observe its part of it? True, formally the agreement is still effective. Iran said the enrichment will be within the agreed limits but the US and Israel are likely to say it is not. Washington and Jerusalem will raise hue and cry over the announced enrichment to describe it as a breach of the JPCOA, whether the limits stipulated in the deal are exceeded or not. They will cite “intelligence sources” or invent something to justify their claims, no matter what the UN watchdog says.

The trouble is that the US decision to pull out from the deal was not an element of a well-defined policy, there was no plan B. The hope to have the JCPOA renegotiated was a pipe dream from the start. An agreement is an agreement. Iran complied with it. Other controversial issues, such as ballistic missiles, could have been subjects for separate talks. If not, it’s still preferable to have the JPCOA in effect to make sure there will be no nuclear warheads installed on delivery means. But Washington chose the language of ultimatums to spoil it all.

In April, President Trump warned Iran of “big problems” if it resumes the nuclear program. Iranian Bavar-373 air defense systems have already been deployed to protect the related infrastructure. In late May, Israeli Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said Israel is the first country in the world to carry out an operational mission with the F-35 stealth fighter, which flew over Beirut undetected. In March, two Israeli F-35s were reported to fly over Iranian air space unnoticed. This was a clear warning to Iran that the resumption of nuclear program would be responded to with force.

In 2012, Israel was ready to strike but was held back by the US. With President’s Trump’s tough stance on Iran, it may be different this time. On the contrary, the US may find the idea to use force against Iran too tempting before the June 12 summit with the North Korean leader in Singapore.

Actually, a war between Israel and Iran is already waged as Israeli aviation regularly strikes what it says Iran’s forces in Syria. The recent success of pro-Iranian Hezbollah in Lebanon brings an armed conflict even closer. The unsettled maritime dispute over the natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean makes it almost inevitable as the profits to be received by the Lebanese government will inevitably enrich Hezbollah. The Hamas attacks in Gaza are also viewed by Israel as a conflict ignited by Iran. It strikes the eye that Israel has changed its tone demanding complete withdrawal of Iran from Syria not just keeping away from the Golan Heights.

There are unconfirmed reports that the US military is building an outpost in the Sinjar mountains of Ninawa province to secure the Syria-Iraq border and prevent Iran from establishing a land corridor linking Iran’s western border to the Mediterranean. If the reports are true, the US is evidently preparing for a military operation. It will not have NATO by its side. America and Israel are on their own. They may be supported directly or indirectly by some Sunni Arab nations.

For instance, Saudi Arabia’s threat to use force against Qatar is another sigh of preparing a multinational war against Iran. The deal to purchase the Russian S-400 air defense systems is used as a pretext though it’s hard to see how these defensive weapon systems could pose a threat to the kingdom. Riyadh is in talks with Moscow on purchasing the systems, why can’t Doha do the same? The real reason is probably the refusal of Qatar to break ties with Iran.

There are very disturbing signs that a war waged by Israel, the US, and probably its Persian Gulf allies is close at hand. The tensions could be eased if diplomacy were given a chance but the US unilateral withdrawal from the JPCOA appears to turn such scenario into a very remote possibility.

June 7, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran to boost production of uranium enrichment material – state atomic agency

RT | June 5, 2018

Iran has begun preliminary work on infrastructure for advanced centrifuges, the country’s Atomic Energy Organization has confirmed. The announcement comes after Tehran said it would revamp its uranium enrichment program.

The infrastructure project is being carried out at a facility in Natanz. Iran also plans to boost production of UF6, a gas needed to produce fuel for nuclear reactors and weapons. But the country’s nuclear activities will remain within the framework of the 2015 nuclear deal, Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), has stated.

A spokesman for the organization said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees Iran’s compliance with the 2015 JCPOA deal, will be notified of Iran’s activities on Tuesday.

“In a letter that will be handed over to the International Atomic Energy Agency … Iran will announce that the process of increasing the capacity to produce … UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) … will start on Tuesday,” he said.

The spokesman said it was being done on the orders of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said in a speech on Monday that AEOI must promptly prepare to start uranium enrichment “up to a level of 190,000 SWU for the time being within the framework of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).”

SWU or “separative work unit” is a standard measure of the effort needed to separate isotopes of uranium during an enrichment process. 1 SWU equals 1 kg of such effort.

Previously, Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency estimated that its enrichment capacity will reach 190,000 SWUs by the 15th year after the deal comes into effect. For that purpose, Iran planned to gradually increase its number of centrifuges, while staying within the scope of the deal.

Speaking to ISNA, Kamalvandi stressed that, by boosting its nuclear program, Iran does not seek to develop nuclear weapons. “Our goals are not to achieve a nuclear weapon, and it’s against our religious stance.”

“The message of our actions is that we will maintain our capacity for activation at a high level, and if we agreed to limit it now, it is because the parties must adhere to their commitments,” he said.

After the US exit from the deal on May 8, other parties to the landmark agreement, including France, the UK, and Germany vowed to abide by the deal and keep it intact, despite the US withdrawal. However, European nations followed the lead of Washington in demanding that Iran’s missile program and its regional posture must be a part of any future negotiations for a post-deal security framework. Iran has vehemently refused to tie its ballistic missile program, which has not been a part of the original agreement, to the deal and has called on Europe to compensate it for the impact that the reimposed US sanctions will have on its economy. On Monday, Khamenei said Europe should not expect Teheran to stay in the deal if it does nothing to shield it from the brunt of punitive measures coming its way.

“It seems from what they say that some European governments expect the Iranian nation to both put up with sanctions and give up its nuclear activities and continue to observe limitations [on its nuclear program]. I tell those governments that this bad dream will never come true,” he said.

He again ruled out that Iran might agree to curtail its ballistic missile development, saying that it’s wishful thinking by Europe if it believes otherwise.

“I am telling the Europeans, ‘Limiting our missile work is a dream that will never come true,” Khamenei stressed.

One of the major points of Iran’s ultimatum to Europe is that it must offset the damage inflicted on its energy industry by buying Iranian oil and protecting trade with the Islamic Republic by providing banking guarantees.

Last week, a senior adviser to Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, told Iranian media that the continuation of the talks would depend on Europe’s readiness to meet these demands.

“We will preserve Iran’s regional and missile power to kill US with envy,” he added.

June 5, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Putin Signs Bill on Countermeasures Against US, Its Allies

Sputnik – 04.06.2018

Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a bill on countermeasures against the United States and its allies.

The law enters into force on the day it is published.

The bill was passed by the Russian Lower House in May. The goal of the legislation is to defend Russia’s sovereignty from “unfriendly actions” by Washington and other foreign states that have imposed political and economic sanctions on Moscow.

On April 6, Washington unveiled new sanctions on Russia over what it described as “global destabilization efforts.” The sanctions list included senior government officials, and lawmakers, as well as major business owners and private and state-owned companies under their control.

In response, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Moscow reserves the right to respond to the new US anti-Russia sanctions and may review trade deals.

The Russian Embassy in the United States said that the new package of sanctions is another hit to bilateral relations, adding that the sanctions will hurt thousands of Russian citizens who are part of the businesses that were targeted.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment