Aletho News


Kenya deports 1 American and 1 Canadian for election meddling

By Ricky Twisdale | The Duran | August 6, 2017

Kenya has decided it doesn’t need western assistance to ensure it has “free and fair” elections.

The African country is holding a national vote for president, deputy president, and parliament on 8 August.

But the election will have to go forward without the help of two foreign advisors.

John Phillips, a US citizen and chief executive of political consultancy Aristotle, and Canadian citizen Andreas Katsouris, a senior executive at the same firm, were arrested on Friday and deported from Kenya on Saturday, according to Reuters.

The two men were providing political consulting services to opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance party. Polls show Odinga and incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta neck-in-neck in the race for the Kenya State House.

Kenya’s last two presidential elections were marred by violence and charges from the losing side of vote rigging. Unrest following the 2007 vote left hundreds dead.

Here’s more from the Reuters report regarding the arrests of Phillips and Katsouris:

“They handcuffed me and put me in the hatchback of a car,” Phillips said by phone from Frankfurt.

Katsouris said they were manhandled after the police arrived.

“One man had a picture of me on his mobile phone,” he said, speaking by phone from Delft, the Netherlands. “Another guy grabbed me by the arm and grabbed my glasses from my face.”

After being bundled into separate cars they were driven around for several hours, while being questioned, and then taken to holding cells at the airport, they said…

Phillips said one of Aristotle’s jobs was to monitor the transparency of the election. The two had been in Kenya for around two months and were doing polling, data analysis and monitoring the election process…

Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said via a text message on Sunday that Phillips and Katsouris had “contradicted the terms of their visa”. When asked how, he replied “ask them”.

Whatever Kenya’s political problems, it appears Nairobi doesn’t believe US-Canadian meddling in their elections is the way to solve them.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

African children pay the price for “clean green” electric car battery technology

Tall Bloke’s Talk Shop | August 6, 2017

Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.

Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.

Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.

No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country. The UN estimates 80 a year, but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels. Others survive but with chronic diseases which destroy their young lives. Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.

Dorsen, just eight, is one of 40,000 children working daily in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The terrible price they will pay for our clean air is ruined health and a likely early death.

Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.

The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.

The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).

Residents near mines in southern DRC had urinary concentrates of cobalt 43 higher than normal. Lead levels were five times higher, cadmium and uranium four times higher.

The worldwide rush to bring millions of electric vehicles on to our roads has handed a big advantage to those giant car-makers which saw this bonanza coming and invested in developing battery-powered vehicles, among them General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, BMW and Fiat-Chrysler.

Full story

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

US-led coalition used banned white phosphorus on civilians in Syria – Damascus to UN

RT | August 6, 2017

The Syrian foreign ministry has, in correspondence to the United Nations, accused the US-led coalition of new atrocities against its civilians. It includes an attack on hospital in Raqqa and the use of “internationally banned white phosphorus munitions” against the Syrian people.

Renewing its calls to “immediately dissolve” the coalition which Damascus considers illegitimate, the ministry wrote two letters; one addressed to the UN Secretary General and the other to the Chairman of the UN Security Council, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported Sunday.

Citing the ministry statement, the report said the military alliance led by Washington had bombed residential neighborhoods and civilian houses, as well as destroying a national hospital in Raqqa, where the coalition is extensively backing the fight against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.

Damascus also claimed the coalition had violated international humanitarian law by deploying white phosphorus munitions in its attacks which targeted “innocent Syrian people in the provinces of Raqqa, Hasaka, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and other Syrian cities,” SANA reported.

Such actions represent war crimes and crimes against humanity, the agency cited the ministry as saying in its communication to the UN.

“Syria renews its call to immediately dissolve the coalition which was established outside the framework of the UN and without requesting permission from the Syrian government,” the statement added.

Responding to the allegations, the coalition said it “routinely conducts strikes” on IS terrorists in Raqqa and also uses white phosphorus in its operations, the US Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) acknowledged in an emailed statement to RT.

However, its deployment of the weapons is not against international norms, the joint task force claimed.

“In accordance with the law of armed conflict white phosphorus rounds are used for screening, obscuring, and marking in a way that fully considers the possible incidental effects on civilians and civilian structures,” the CJTF–OIR statement read.

It added that allegations of civilian casualties are being assessed and will be published in a monthly civilian casualty report.

On Saturday, a new series of attacks by the US-led coalition resulted in more civilian deaths in Raqqa, SANA reported. At least 43 civilians were reportedly killed and dozens more injured after airstrikes hit residential neighborhoods in the Syrian city, the news agency said. Mostly women, children and the elderly were among the victims, SANA added.

In its latest assessment of civilian casualties from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria released earlier this week, the US-led coalition claimed 624 people were “unintentionally killed” since the start of the campaign against IS in the region in 2014.

However, the UK-based Airwars group which monitors airstrikes and civilian casualties in Iraq, Libya and Syria based on open-source reports and military figures, contradict this claim. It suggests the civilian death toll in the bombing campaign is much higher. Data collated by the group indicates that more than 4,350 civilians have been killed in US-led military operations since June 2014.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

US Push for Scrapping Nuclear Forces Treaty With Russia ‘Menace for Europe’

Sputnik – August 6, 2107

US media reported that Congress is preparing several bills, the provisions of which would require the Pentagon to violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia.

According to Politico, the Senate will soon debate a provision in its version of the defense policy bill, which would set aside $65 million and also require the military to reintroduce a missile with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

The bill in the House of Representatives will point out that while the new missiles would be conventional, they, along with nuclear missiles, would still be considered banned under the nuclear disarmament agreement.

“Encouraged by the signing of the new anti-Russian sanctions, American lawmakers are going straight ahead. It was earlier reported that the State Department and the Pentagon are planning to supply Kiev with lethal arms. But the new initiative [concerning the INF Treaty] is going to have record-breaking negative consequences,” political commentator and analyst Ilya Kharlamov wrote in an op-ed for RIA Novosti.

The INF Treaty is an unlimited duration agreement signed between the US and the Soviet Union. It was signed by US President Ronald Raegan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987 and came into effect on June 1, 1988.

The treaty prohibits the production, tests and deployment of ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles, with ranges of 500-1,000 km (short-range) and 1,000-5,000 (medium-range). It also eliminated all launchers and ground-based missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km. By summer 1991, the USSR eliminated 1,846 missiles systems while the US – 846 systems. The treaty was implemented in 1991 with inspections carrying on until 2001.

According to Kharlamov, the agreement marked the first real disarmament step by the two powers and contributed a lot to global stability and security. But now the US establishment wants to jeopardize this milestone achievement for the sake of immediate political gains and in the interests of the American defense industry.

“If this is aimed at making America great again then it looks menacing for the whole world, especially for Washington’s allies in Europe. The White House has not endorsed the initiative so far. But Congress will push Trump to take new measures to ‘deter’ Russia. If he refuses to do so this may be interpreted as evidence of Trump’s alleged ties to the Russian government,” Kharlamov suggested.

Meanwhile, commenting on the report, the Kremlin said that Russia remains committed to the INF Treaty and expects the same from its partner.

“Russia remains committed to its obligations under this treaty, despite some claims which were voiced before. Of course, we expect that our partners under this agreement will adhere to their international obligations in this context,” Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalist, adding that the president of the two countries did not discuss the issue.

The US announced an initiative on revising the INF Treaty for the first time in February in order to stop alleged Russian violations of the agreement. The Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty Preservation Act was proposed by Republican Senators Tom Cotton, Ron Johnson and Marco Rubio and supported by Republican members of the House of Representatives, Ted Poe and Mike Rogers, who introduced the bill to the lower chamber.

In turn, Russia has repeatedly said that Moscow remains committed to the deal and that Moscow has never violated the agreement.

Moreover, in February, Trump expressed doubt that the key strategic deals between the US and Russia, including the INF Treaty and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), are profitable for Washington.

In an interview with Reuters, Trump said, “I am the first one that would like to see everybody – nobody have nukes, but we’re going to fall behind any country even if it’s friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.”

According to Politico, advocates of the new bill believe that the move would be a response to Russia’s alleged violations of the bilateral accord. At the same time, opponents say that it could increase the chance of a nuclear confrontation at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow are at their lowest level since the end of the Cold War.

Plekhanov suggested that despite the opposition to the initiative in Washington the majority of US lawmakers advocate for a more hardline approach on Russia.

In addition, the US eyes developing a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which costs an estimated $85 billion.

“Of course, this would be a honeypot for American defense companies. The current geopolitical situation also favors this idea. The defense industry would have lucrative contracts while Washington policymakers would have the chance to drag Russia into a new arms race,” Kharlamov concluded.


Killing INF Treaty to Unleash New Nuclear Arms Race – Ex-Pentagon Official

Trump Would Engage With Russia on Arms Control, Maintain Nuclear Superiority – Adviser

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Israel to expel Al Jazeera, block broadcasts & revoke journalists’ credentials

RT | August 6, 2017

Israel has announced plans to effectively expel the Al Jazeera network from the country, revoking journalists’ credentials, shutting the company’s bureau in Jerusalem and pulling its broadcasts from national cable and satellite television networks.

Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara announced the measures Sunday at a news conference. Journalists and representatives from Al Jazeera were not permitted to attend.

“We are going to set measures in order to illustrate our war on terrorism, on radical Islam and our solidarity with the sane Arab world,” Kara stated.

While the proposal will not take immediate effect, Kara confirmed that both the Arabic and English versions of the news channel will be shuttered once the proposal is passed in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament).

“I am the only one [in government] who is an Arabic speaker, who understands Arabic and my native language is Arabic. You cannot fool me with Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic. I know how to identify how disturbing reporting becomes incitement instead of being free speech,” he added.

Kara claimed that such extreme measures are ostensibly intended to improve journalistic practice in the country by creating “a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively.”

“We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work.”

“I congratulate the Minister of communications, Ayoob for my guidance took today in line with practical steps to stop the activity of incitement in Israel,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of Kara’s proposal on Twitter.

In July, Netanyahu announced that he was working to shut down the network which he accuses of stoking tensions and inciting violence in Israel, particularly at the al-Aqsa mosque where six Palestinians and five Israelis, including two police officers, have been killed in recent clashes.

“This attack on Al Jazeera is really an attack on all critical independent journalism.” Aidan White, director of the London-based Ethical Journalism Network told Al Jazeera.

The network’s offices in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank city of Ramallah would not be affected.

The network will not give up its Jerusalem bureau without a fight, however.

“Al Jazeera deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East and considers what it has done is dangerous,” an unnamed official with Al Jazeera told the AFP.

The broadcaster “will follow up the subject through appropriate legal and judicial procedures,” he added.

Saudi Arabia and Jordan have both shut Al Jazeera bureaux this year as part of the ongoing ‘cold war’ playing out in the Gulf, which culminated in the full blockade of Qatar.

Egypt banned the Al Jazeera network and several other websites that were critical of the government in May and broadcasts have also been blocked in the UAE.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments

The New York Times Pushes Propaganda War Against Russia

By Sic Semper Tyrannis | Turcopelier | August 1, 2017

There is no longer any doubt that the New York Times is nothing more than a willing cog in the establishment war machine and is happy to serve as a propaganda platform. While there are times that newspapers and electronic media outlets are unwitting dupes for propaganda, the article penned by Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt (published on 31 July 2017) is the work of willing puppets masquerading as journalists:

Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression

This screed starts with this piece of artful dishonesty:

Russia is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory at the end of the summer, one of the biggest steps yet in the military buildup undertaken by President Vladimir V. Putin and an exercise in intimidation that recalls the most ominous days of the Cold War.

Since when is it an act of “aggression” for a country–Russia in this case–to conduct military exercises in its own territory? Gordon and Schmitt also conveniently omit the facts that the United States has been engaged in a variety of military exercises on the border of Russia for the last year. Yet, rather than acknowledge that truth, Gordon and Schmitt push the lie that this is an unprovoked action by a militaristic Russia hell bent on conquering the world.

How else is one to interpret the following quotes:

The military exercise . . . .is part of a larger effort by Mr. Putin to shore up Russia’s military prowess, and comes against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive Russia. Beyond Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election in support of the Trump campaign, which has seized attention in the United States, its military has in recent years deployed forces to Syria, seized Crimea and intervened in eastern Ukraine, rattled the Baltic States with snap exercises and buzzed NATO planes and ships. . . .

“There is only one reason you would create a Guards Tank Army, and that is as an offensive striking force,” General Hodges said. “This is not something for homeland security. That does not mean that they are automatically going to do it, but in terms of intimidation it is a means of putting pressure on allies.”

If you read only this article you would be excused for assuming that Russia is on the prowl for no good reason. Fortunately, our media is not totally subservient to the war machine. NPR reported last week that the United States is actually carrying out the largest military operations on Russia’s border in 27 years:

The U.S. and NATO are staging their largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, and they’re doing it in countries of 3 former members of the Warsaw Pact: Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Yes, I did. This is all part of what’s been called the European Deterrence Initiative, and it’s a reinforcement of U.S. forces that had been depleted in Eastern Europe before Russia annexed Crimea three years ago. And as part of this sort of hardening of the U.S. presence here, there was an armored combat brigade team of about 4,000 Army troops from Fort Carson, Colo., that arrived here in Eastern Europe early this year. And they’re here in Romania, and they’re taking part in military exercises along with about 20,000 other troops.

On Saturday, I was in the Carpathian Mountains, and I watched a pretty impressive live fire, land and air assault there on an imagined enemy. And then yesterday, along the banks of the Danube River here, there was another assault staged to retake the other side of the river from another imagined enemy.

GREENE: You keep saying imagined enemy. Who is the imagined enemy?

WELNA: Well, no doubt it’s Russia. And, you know, while this wasn’t really a D-Day invasion along the Danube – there was no fire return from the other side – there was a lot of sound and fury. And here’s a bit of what it sounded like.

The US military exercise is dubbed Saber Guardian:

Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led annual exercise taking place in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in the summer of 2017. This exercise involves more than 25,000 service members from over 20 ally and partner nations. The largest of the Black Sea Region exercises, Saber Guardian 17 is a premier training event for U.S. Army Europe and participating nations that will build readiness and improve interoperability under a unified command, executing a full range of military missions to support the security and stability of the Black Sea Region. It is deterrence in action.

Some of the more notable aspects of SG17 include: the massing of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (3/4ID) from several locations across the Operation Atlantic Resolve area of operation to the exercise joint operations area (JOA) in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria; and the movement of 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR) from Vilseck, Germany, to numerous locations throughout the JOA.

But that’s not all.  The United States also has been busy in the Baltics in early June 2017:

The U.S.’s European Command, which is based in Germany, said Thursday it had deployed an unspecified number of F-16 Fighting Falcons from Aviano Air Base in Italy to the Krzesiny Air Base in Poland in support of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) and Saber Strike, two massive annual drills intended to boost the U.S.’s military presence in Europe and to support regional allies. European Command’s statement came a day after it said a number of B-1B Lancers had been sent from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota to join three B-52H Stratofortresses at the Royal Air Force base in Fairford, U.K. Meanwhile, 800 U.S. airmen in Europe were poised to train with NATO allies this month as the Western military alliance escalates its rivalry with Russia.

And there was US activity in Poland in January:

U.S. troops arrived in the small town of Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, as part of the largest armed military brigade deployed in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

The U.S. troops, along with 53 track vehicles, including the M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, reached Poland after a three-day journey through Germany. The show of force falls under Operation Atlantic Resolve, designed to show the United States’ commitment to its European allies in the face of what NATO sees as Russian aggression.

This is not a comprehensive list. If you take time to do further research you will discover that the United States military in tandem with other countries has carried out several military exercises from the Black Sea in the south, all along the western border of Russia and in the Baltic Sea in the north.

If you are Russia and you are witnessing repeated deployments of U.S. infantry, armor, air and naval units on the frontier that produced that last military invasion of Russia (which left at least 20 million dead) would you sit back and do nothing?

What would the United States do if Russia managed to convince Mexico to sign a mutual defense treaty and then proceeded to conduct tank and military air exercises along our southern border? Would we do nothing?

Gordon and Schmitt are an embarrassment to the profession of journalism. Rather than actually report facts and place them in their proper context, they chose instead to push lies as truth and try to help shape public opinion into believing that Russia poses an imminent threat to the west.

One other point worth remembering–Russia spends $60 billion annually on defense spending while the United States is slated for $650 billion. How much is the US spending on just EUCOM exercises targeted at Russia? Sadly, there is bipartisan stupidity and ignorance when it comes to the issue of properly assessing Russia and the threat it does (or does not) pose to the United States. My cynical conclusion is that as long as Russia is portrayed as the great Red menace bent on world domination we can justify spending $650 billion dollars to thwart an invasion that is not coming.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 3 Comments

Playing Politics with the World’s Future

By Alastair Crooke | Consortium News | August 6, 2017

Finally … the U.S. Congress has produced a piece of legislation. And it passed with quasi-unanimous, bi-partisan support. Only its substance is not so much a deep reflection on the foreign policy interests of America, but rather, the desire to hurt, and incapacitate the U.S. President in any future dealings with Russia. (And never mind the worrying impulse towards conflict with Russia this entails, or its collateral damage on others).

The aim has been to see President Trump hog-tied, and “tarred and feathered” for his “risky behavior” on Russia. This aim simply has overpowered any other considerations – such as likelihood that the outside world will conclude that America’s ability to pursue or even to have a foreign policy is non-existent in the face of its internal civil war. It is a key juncture. For an overwhelming majority of Democratic and Republican Senators and Congressmen, bringing down “The Donald” is all – and the devil take the consequences for America, in the world.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California, blandly stated that the concerns of U.S. allies come second to the need to punish Russia for its election interference. When asked whether the bill took account of European Union’s interests, one of the main authors, Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, said simply: “Not that I know of. Certainly not in the portion of the bill I was responsible for.”

Another of the bill’s author, Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, laconically replied to the same question: “Not much, to be honest with you.”

McCain carelessly then quipped that essentially that it was “the job of the E.U. to come around to the legislation, not for the legislation to be brought around to them.”

The U.S. President had little option but to sign the legislation, but that does not mean that diplomacy is completely blocked. As expected, he issued a Signing Statement (see here), in which, while accepting the mandate of Congress, Trump took issue with the new Congressional encroachments into his prerogatives (Article Two of the Constitution) in terms of foreign policy, and he reserved the right to decide on how the Congressional mandate might be implemented (i.e. in respect to the quadrilateral negotiations over Ukraine). He has some wriggle room, especially in terms of how the legislation is enforced (or not, as the case might be), but certainly not enough wriggle room to mollify Europe – or, more pertinently, to persuade Russia that America now has anything, substantive to offer; or were it offered, able to be delivered. In other words, for Russia, the U.S., effectively, is severely agreement-incapacitated.

Medvedev’s Assessment

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote in response:

“The signing of new sanctions against Russia into law by the U.S. president leads to several consequences. First, any hope of improving our relations with the new U.S. administration is over. Second, the U.S. just declared a full-scale trade war on Russia. Third, the Trump administration demonstrated it is utterly powerless, and in the most humiliating manner, transferred executive powers to Congress. This shifts the alignment of forces in U.S. political circles.

“What does this mean for the U.S.? The American establishment completely outplayed Trump. The President is not happy with the new sanctions, but he could not avoid signing the new law. The purpose of the new sanctions was to put Trump in his place. Their ultimate goal is to remove Trump from power.” (Emphasis added).

The key new provision in law is dubbed The Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017.  It codifies into law past sanctions on Russia imposed by previous Administrations, and prohibits the President from lifting any existing sanction against Russia without the prior permission of Congress. The law states that the process of securing such consent requires that the President send to Congress a (prior) report stating and arguing the presumed benefit that would accrue to the U.S. through the lifting of any sanction. The Congress then may institute hearings on the President’s report, and on the merit of his argument about the potential quid pro quo – justifying his proposed action. In the light of these hearings, Congress may then consider a resolution of approval or disapproval (within 30 days of receiving the President’s statement).

The influential Lawfare site points out, however, that:

“the provision is drafted quite broadly to cover actions that have any ameliorative effect despite falling short of formally lifting sanctions. For example, congressional review is required for a waiver, “a licensing action that significantly alters United States’ foreign policy with regard to the Russian Federation,” and any action which would allow Russia to regain access to properties in Maryland and New York” (Emphasis added).

In short, Congress gave itself a 30-day review period to vote down any changes Trump tries to make in terms of America’s foreign relations with Russia.

Offending Europe

These are the teeth, but the Act has other little flourishes: The legislation targets the Russian energy sector, allowing the U.S. to sanction companies involved in developing Russian oil pipelines. It  “would almost surely affect a controversial pipeline project between Russia and Germany known as Nord Stream 2, which is owned by Gazprom but includes financial stakes from European companies. The project aims to carry Russian natural gas under the Baltic Sea, bypassing countries like Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States,” as the New York Times reports.

Some may see these events simply as the riposte to alleged Russian intervention in America’s internal affairs (as Feinstein has argued), but polls (even CNN polls) suggest that there are very obvious political limits to the Establishment (in both parties) using “Russia-gate” as a mechanism to mobilize and widen public support for removing President Trump. Polls indicate that 79 percent of Republicans are “not at all” or “not very” concerned about Trump’s alleged links with Russia, and that inversely, precisely the same proportion, 79 percent, of Democrats precisely are “very” or “somewhat” concerned. (55 percent of Independents side with Republicans with 37 percent “not at all” and 18 percent “not very” concerned). The point here is that the Republican support for Trump’s desire for détente with Russia has not eroded one jot, whereas the “concern” of the Independents and even among Democrats is eroding somewhat.

This is the crux: the clique around former CIA head John Brennan et al have put their shirt on “Russia-gate” to bring down Trump – claiming scandal.  But what goes around – quite often – comes around. Unless the Establishment can keep up the tempo of innuendo or produce new revelations, “Russia-gate” may just become a stale narrative – or a butt of satire. Worse, the meme could turn and bite the hand of those who have been feeding it. There may too be other skeletons in the cupboard, but belonging to the other party: like who paid Fusion GPS (who were commissioned to produce the “dirty dossier” on Trump)? Might the murdered Seth Rich story take another turn? Or, the fugitive former DNC Chairwoman’s IT staffer, Imran Awan, give the narrative a different twist? Or something as yet unknown.

Vague Sanctions

How far will the anti-Russian attrition go? The Ron Paul Institute sees in one section of the Act, the possibility that websites which take a line in opposition to Russia sanctions could be held to be doing the work of Russian intelligence – by seeking to influence readers in a manner that Russian intelligence would want. Might this be interpreted as “engaging in transactions” – albeit, over the internet? (The Act specifies punishment for “persons” who are “engaging in transactions with the intelligence or defense sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.”)

The author writes, [that] at first sight, one might think he is reading too much into the text, “however as a twelve-year Capitol Hill veteran bill-reader, I can assure you that these bills are never written in a simple, expository manner. There is always a subtext, and in this case we must consider the numerous instances where the Director of Central Intelligence and other senior leadership in the US intelligence community have attempted to establish the idea that foreign news channels such as RT or Sputnik News, are not First Amendment protected press, but rather tools of a foreign intelligence organization.”

So, are Trump’s hopes for détente with Russia all done? Too early to say, I suggest. Medvedev seems categoric, but maybe his dark prognostication is intended more to underline to Americans that their relations with Russia are not some domestic “game show” – but rather, are profoundly serious. For the time being, substantive U.S. politics with Russia will be on “a long vacation.”

The deeper question is whether the U.S. Deep State is overreaching itself. First, we have this sanctions bill, and then the news that special counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential dealings with the Kremlin, is using a Grand Jury to issue subpoenas. While the use of a Grand Jury does not necessarily mean an indictment is imminent, it is a tool to compel witnesses to testify or force people to turn over sensitive documents that may aid investigators in their probe.

It is a sign of a yet more aggressive approach to gathering “Russia-gate” evidence – a search that will now encompass all the Trump family’s financial affairs. Overreach? (So far, evidence of misdeed, is missing.)

As indicated earlier, Trump’s Republican base (unlike support from the Republican establishment) is not eroding, but rather is becoming angered and resentful. The more the MSM and the East Coast élites attack the deplorables’ “alt” news and websites – the greater the pushback, it seems. The divisions in America are too embittered now, for any thought that America can somehow re-wind the tape, and just start again with Obama having left office – as though Trump never had happened.

Strategic Incoherence

Whereas, America’s Russia foreign policy clearly has been zombie-fied for now, the policy dysfunction goes much wider than Russia (and this cannot be laid at the feet of the Deep State). The policy in the Middle East simply, is strategically incoherent:

Last Tuesday, President Trump, standing beside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri heaped Lebanon with praise: “Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah,” Trump said.  Hariri had – delicately – to correct the President: Hizbullah is a member of his governing coalition, and is a part of his government, and is his ally in parliament. Actually, Lebanon is fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, precisely via Hezbollah.

But this trivial incident should not be written off as some distracted President “mis-speaking”: rather it is symptomatic of how dysfunctional the West Wing has become in respect to the Middle East. There seems to be no adult in the team – just jaundiced ignorance that does not bother to try to understand Middle East complexities.

Joe Scarborough sums this condition well in an article which – whilst highly complimentary to the personal qualities of Trump’s family – also warns against “the stubborn arrogance that often infects the winning side of Presidential campaigns.” Trump’s victory led his son-in-law to believe “he could reinvent government like Al Gore, micromanage the White House like James Baker, and restructure the Middle East like Moses. Kushner’s confidence seemed to reach its apex,” Scarborough continues, “whenever the subject turned to Middle East peace. His bizarre belief that the world began anew the day Trump was inaugurated was exposed again this week when a leaked audiotape caught Kushner telling White House interns: “We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books.”” 

Well perhaps he needs to read some books on Iran, before deciding to call Iran in default on JCPOA (the accord that tightly restricts Iran’s nuclear program). He does not need to like Iran, but merely to understand that it is a major regional power (with real “battalions” at its command), and, unlike most in the Middle East, is capable of acting shrewdly, effectively and forcefully – if needs be.

Mishandling a Crisis

The sense of an absence of strategic knowledge in the West Wing is not confined to Trump’s adversaries, by the way. Iran sees the U.S. calling “Iran in default of JCPOA” as merely serving to cement its fast growing alliance with Russia and China – but the complaint has also found an (unexpected) home in Israel, too – for example, see this, from one of Israel’s most well-connected journalists, Ben Caspit:

“The story that best illustrates this situation occurred last week when the Temple Mount crisis threatened to ignite the entire Middle East in a global conflagration originating in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Throughout that entire crisis, the US administration was effectively AWOL. Although they attempted to take credit for some deep involvement in efforts to reach a solution, the truth is that the Americans were not a significant factor during the harshest days of the crisis, when it looked like the entire Middle East would spiral downward into a new round of violence.

“President Trump himself was not involved in events as they unfolded. His special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, lost his standing as an ‘impartial mediator’ in the very first days of the crisis. One senior Palestinian source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that ‘Greenblatt picked a side and represented Netanyahu throughout the crisis … the Americans’ behaviour throughout the crisis only furthered the feeling prevalent in Ramallah over the past few weeks that Greenblatt and Jared Kushner are irrelevant.”

“ ‘They are completely unfamiliar with the other side,’ [another Palestinian source told Caspit] ‘they don’t understand the region, and they don’t understand the material. You can’t learn about what is happening here in a seminar lasting just a few weeks…’

“A senior Israeli minister speaking on condition of anonymity added, ‘The Americans aren’t really a presence here. They let us do whatever we want. They don’t set the tone, and they don’t dictate the agenda.’

“Ostensibly, this near freedom of action should be the dream of the Israeli right. But even among them, people are beginning to express their concern about how things are unfolding. ‘This was as clear as can be during the Temple Mount crisis. There was no responsible adult in the mix.’ ”

Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Russophobia | , | 3 Comments

Modi revisits Iran ties

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 6, 2017

The decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to depute the minister of transport Nitin Gadkari to represent India at the inaugural ceremony of Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani on his second term is a most appropriate, timely and thoughtful decision. ‘Appropriate’ – because it is a signal that India attaches high importance to relations with Iran. Gadkari is a senior figure in the cabinet – all but prime ministerial material, one might say. ‘Thoughtful’ – because of two reasons. One, Gadkari is also the government’s point person with regard to the strategic Indian project to develop a transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran’s Chabahar Port.

Two, it is an assertive statement that India’s cooperation with Iran will not be buffeted by ‘Trumpspeak’. This is timely because the Iran-US engagement has run into difficulties and US officials have spoken of a preposterous ‘regime change’ agenda vis-à-vis Iran. A confrontation seems improbable but a showdown cannot be ruled out, either. If there is a confrontation / showdown, Modi government will come under pressure not only from the US but also from Israel, and India will be in the unhappy position of having to stand up and be counted. Strategic ambivalence, which comes easy to the Indian DNA, may no longer be an option. The previous UPA government of course simply opted to pull down the shutter and fall in line with the US diktat. It will be interesting to see how much spunk the present nationalist government would show to resist pressure on its regional policies, if push comes to shove.

However, India is in good company if it views Iran as a major partner. The presence of the European Union Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherni at Rouhani’s inaugural underscored that EU does not go along with the US’ sanctions bill against Iran. So, indeed, the presence of Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, a close aide confidante of President Vladimir Putin, signals that Moscow has a big agenda to expand and deepen the cooperation with Iran. The Chinese President Xi Jinping deputed He Lifeng, head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, to represent China. Of course, He is the principal driver of the Belt and Road Initiative in the Chinese government.

Indeed, if the inaugural ceremony was a litmus test of Iran’s integration with the international community, the result is positive and impressive. Nineteen presidents, vice-presidents and prime ministers as well as 18 heads of parliaments attended the ceremony. It is virtually impossible for the Trump administration to ‘isolate’ Iran over its missile development programme or its regional policies. By the way, the participants at the ceremony in Tehran included a high-powered delegation from Hamas and a cabinet minister from Qatar.

Gadkari has promised that the Chabahar transit route will be operational by next year. The country must hold the government to its word. There shouldn’t be any slip-ups. This can be the first significant footfall in an Indian variant of ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. More importantly, perhaps, India must now resuscitate the plans of investments in the Chabahar region for industrial collaboration. The enthusiasm with which we spoke about it two years ago has petered out. Again, a major push is needed to realise the much-talked about North-South Corridor via Iran.

In political terms, a visit by Rouhani to India is overdue. The visit will give an overall verve to the relationship and add momentum to the bilateral cooperation. The Farzad-B gas field project has proved elusive. The revised $11 billion investment offer by ONGC Videsh is pending for a decision in Tehran. The Iranian side has driven a hard bargain, which is understandable since oil is a major source of income for its economy. But then, Tehran must also realize that Farzad-B will be a ‘game-changer’ for the entire relationship with India. Perhaps, this is the single biggest investment offer India has ever made to a foreign country. The business spin-off in the downstream, if the Farzad-B project takes off, will be massive.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia, China call for freeze on both N. Korea launches & South’s drills with US – Lavrov

RT | August 6, 2017

Moscow and Beijing are against any missile launches carried out by North Korea and are at the same time calling on the US to halt military drills in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.

The statement comes following Lavrov’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in the Philippines capital, Manila on Sunday. The ministers discussed the situation in the Korean Peninsula following the adoption of new sanctions on North Korea by the UN Security Council.

Lavrov said Russia and China have already suggested a roadmap to resolve the Korean crisis.

“Our joint initiative includes support of Russia’s proposal to create a roadmap for gradual restoration of trust and provide conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party talks. We have agreed to promote this concept in practice, including in the UN,” Lavrov said after the meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Manila.

Previously, Wang called the new restrictive measures against Pyongyang “a necessary response” aimed at “blocking North Korea’s nuclear missile development,” as cited by the South China Morning Post. He added that sanctions are not the “ultimate goal” and called for the resumption the so-called six party talks, as the situation on the Korean Peninsula “has come to a very critical juncture.”

“Sanctions are needed but are not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and seek a final solution to realize the peninsula’s denuclearization and long-term stability,” Wang said.

Lavrov reiterated the joint Russian-Chinese initiative for “double freezing” which had previously been rejected by the US. The initiative, put forward by the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers on July 4, would freeze “any missile launches and any nuclear tests in North Korea,” as well as “large-scale military exercises by the United States and South Korea,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister also said that the new resolution seeks to bring the North Korean leadership to the negotiating table – the six-party talks – while the restrictive measures are designed to make Pyongyang curb its missile and nuclear programs in accordance with UN resolutions.

On Saturday night, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to impose more restrictive measures on Pyongyang, banning exports of coal, iron, lead, and seafood. The move came in response to North Korea’s latest missile launches in July, which it, as well as South Korea and the US, claimed were intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Hiroshima – A Criminal Enterprise From Which Nothing Has Been Learned

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Global Research | August 8, 2016

When Paul Tibbets was thirteen years old he flew a bi-plane over Florida’s Miami Beach dropping a promotional cargo of Babe Ruth Candy Bars directly on to the promotional target area, in an advertising stunt. It was his first solo flight and: “From that moment he became hooked on flying.”

He became a test pilot and: “one of the first Americans to fly in world War Two.” Seventeen years later he had graduated from dropping Candy Bars to dropping the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Thirty years later, the now retired Brigadier-General Paul Warfield Tibbets Junior (image right) told authors Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, for their minutely detailed and definitive book (1) on one of the world’s greatest crimes, of the background to the venture.  Most would surely conclude it was a criminal project from the start, on every level.

Tibbets told the authors:

“I got called on this bomb job … I was told I was going to destroy one city with one bomb. That was quite a thought … We had, working in my organization, a murderer, three men guilty of manslaughter and several felons; all of them had escaped from prison.

“The murderer was serving life; the manslaughter guys were doing ten to fifteen years; the felons three to five. After escaping they had enlisted under false names. They were all skilled technicians … They were all good, real good at their jobs and we needed ‘em. We told them that if they gave us no trouble, they would have no trouble from us.

“After it was over, we called each of them in and handed them their dossiers and a box of matches and said ‘Go burn ‘em.’ You see, I was not running a police department, I was running an outfit that was unique.”

The crime which the “oufit” committed was also unique, making the odd murder, manslaughter or felony on home soil pale in to insignificance in comparison.

In Hiroshima, a millisecond after 8.16 a.m., on 6th August 1945, the temperature at the core of the hundreds of feet wide fireball reached 50,000,000 degrees. Flesh burned two miles distant from it’s outer parameters.

80,000 people were killed or mortally injured instantly. The main area targeted was “the city’s principal residential, commercial and military quarters.”

The entrance to the Shima Clinic was flanked by great stone columns – “They were rammed straight down in to the ground.” The building was destroyed: “The occupants were vapourised.”

Just three of the city’s fifty five hospitals remained usable, one hundred and eighty of Hiroshima’s two hundred doctors were dead or injured and 1,654 of 1,780 nurses.

Sixty two thousand buildings were destroyed as all utilities and transportation systems. Just sixteen fire fighting vehicles remained workable.

People standing, walking, the schoolgirls manning the communications centre in Hiroshima Castle and ninety percent of the castle’s occupants, including American prisoners of war, were also vapourised. Gives a whole new meaning to the US military’s much vaunted “No soldier left behind.”

“The radiant heat set alight Radio Hiroshima, burnt out the tramcars, trucks, railway rolling stock.

“Stone walls, steel doors and asphalt pavement glowed red hot.” Clothing fused to skin. “More than a mile from the epicenter” mens’ caps fused to their scalps, womens’ kimonos to their bodies and childrens’ socks to their legs. All the above decimations happened in the time a crew member of the US bomber, “Enola Gay”, took to blink from the flash behind his goggles. What he saw when he opened them and looked down was, he said : “a peep in to hell.”

At home base, as Hiroshima was incinerated, a party was being prepared to welcome the arsonists. ”The biggest blow out” with free beer, all star soft ball game, a jitter bug contest, prizes, star attractions, a movie and the cooks working overtime to prepare a sumptuous fare.

Hiroshima’s destruction had a uranium-based detonation. Three days later on 9th August, Nagasaki was destroyed by a plutonium-based detonation to ascertain which would be the most “effective” in the new nuclear age warfare.

Not even a nod or thought had been given to the Hague Convention which had very specific legal guidelines to protection of civilians in war. One might speculate that Hiroshima also vapourised any pretention of such considerations for all time, in spite the subsequent Geneva Convention and it’s additional protocols.

In May this year, President Obama visited Hiroshima, he said (2): “Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner.

“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.”

Obama ended his Hiroshima address with: “Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.”

For a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a constitutional law expert, his words are especially cheap. The man who began his Presidency with a public commitment to build a nuclear weapons free world (speech in Czech Republic, 5th April 2009) has, mind bendingly, committed to a thirty year, one Trillion $ nuclear arsenal upgrade. (3)

The epitaph at Hiroshima was written by Tadayoshi Saika, Professor of English Literature at Hiroshima University. He also provided the English translation, “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.”

On November 3, 1983, an explanation plaque in English was added in order to convey Professor Saika’s intent that “we” refers to “all humanity”, not specifically the Japanese or Americans, and that the “error” is the “evil of war”:

“The inscription on the front panel offers a prayer for the peaceful repose of the victims and a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war. It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima – enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony … and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.” (Wikipedia.)

Did President Obama have a twinge of conscience as he read it? Or did he even bother? He is surely amongst the most unworthy of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. And will the rest of the world heed the words, the pledge and the spirit, before it is too late?


  1. Ruin From The Air, The Atomic Mission to Hiroshima: ISBN 0-586-06705-1

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment