“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”
“When the CIA goes to church, it doesn’t go to pray.”
— South American aphorism
Let’s be clear. Syria is invading nobody. North Korea is attacking damn all. And Russia is threatening zilch. But on the eve of the apocalypse these nations are the ones being stoned. The sanctimonious are having a field day crucifying the leaders of these countries and stomping all over the humanity of their peoples.
In a godless universe the tormentors of Syria, Russia and North Korea are behaving as if god is on their side. If god is another word for barbaric stupidity: they’re right. In that case, though – the universe ain’t empty – it’s full of fucking god.
The silver lining to this toxic theism is the fact that god has a habit of bringing down empires. That’s the point of Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It’s also the point of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals. God tends to turn mighty empires and mighty individuals into junk.
In other words, piety and the hypocrisy that accompanies it – overtime undermines physical and political power. Let’s hope so. But do we have enough time? Because it’s beginning to feel like the end-time. The ‘mother of all bombs’ is preparing the way for the ‘mother of all suicides’.
The Bible Belt in America and the Koran Knot in Asia are being pulled so tight that the only ones who can breathe today are the Jewish and Islamic states. In the 21st century this doesn’t make sense. After a few hundred years of humanism and rationalism you’d think the world would know better.
In fact the world does know better. God is no longer an unknown entity. The Enlightenment and it’s revolutionaries revealed a long time ago that god is a human creation. “His” only purpose in the past was to create a distraction. And “His” only purpose now is to create chaos – cue the CIA.
Today’s world was created in the 1980s. After Vietnam, the gods living in and around Washington D.C. had a plan: zero taxes and zero standards for the rich. And god for everyone else. It was crude. But crude capitalism likes a crusade.
This proposal, however, wasn’t just for America but for the world. It reflected a mindset that was not only totalitarian but was also simplistic and vindictive. It sought to control life on earth at both the macro-level and the micro-level. And god help anyone who got in the way.
To cover up it’s profound imperialism, Washington D.C. around 1980 covered itself in religion: President Reagan mobilised the Protestants; his director of the CIA, William Casey, mobilised the Catholics; and Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, mobilised the Moslems. The Jews were already mobilised so they just followed (or led) the pack. And the Hindus weren’t far behind.
As a result of all this Machiavellian metaphysics an almighty tsunami of religion washed over the earth during the 1980s (we’re still drowning in it). God became a weapon of mass destruction. And “He” was aimed at all those who criticised the rich and celebrated the victory of Vietnam. The popes, preachers and prophets were unleashed.
It was the imams however which became the heroes of Washington D.C. Because it was they who fatally wounded the USSR and Yugoslavia. In books like Devils Game by Robert Dreyfuss and The Lost Hegemon by F. William Engdahl, the Holy Alliance between Islamic fundamentalism and the CIA is laid out for all to see.
While Opus Dei (the Roman rapists) and the evangelicals (the gospel gangbangers) did god’s dirty work in the Americas, Africa and Europe – the jihadis did god’s filthiest work in the Orient. The horrendous Afghan jihad (Operation Cyclone) which Brzezinski started in 1979 became the template for US policy throughout the Orient (Algeria, Chechnya, Iraq, Libya, Mali and Syria). Indeed jihad emerged as Washington’s only answer to the rise of China. On the grand chessboard the White House was a thousand years behind it’s opponents. It had voluntarily abandoned reason in favour of religious terror.
Listen to the CIA deep thinker and RAND Corporation philosopher, Graham E. Fuller, speaking in the late 1990s:
“The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Russians. The same doctrines can still be used to what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”
This is the guts of recent and current US strategy – straight from the horse’s mouth (or asshole). It’s not complicated – it’s completely nuts. Rather than being based on trade – it’s based on traditional ignorance. Instead of fanning the warm glow of international cooperation. It wilfully fans a conflagration of medieval mendacity. It’s not a pivot towards Asia but a pivot towards hell.
And the reason for this obscurantism? It’s to be found in the physical part of metaphysics. It’s to be found in the bowels of the earth. It’s the oil and gas and whatever else the US must steal and spoil to “keep America great forever”. As chief US strategist George F. Kennan wrote in 1948:
“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population…. Our real task in the coming period [the coming century] is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality…. We should cease to talk about vague…. unreal objectives such as human rights [humanism, rationalism, secularism, modernism], the raising of living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
The straightest “power concept” of them all is: god. And the oldest “pattern of relationships” is also summed up in the word: god. “He” is up there and we are down here. And our job is to worship “Him”. Washington D.C. liked this model because after Vietnam it was the last model they had left in their reactionary political / philosophical arsenal. And around 1980 they used it with a vengeance. After 1980 Washington D.C. was Mecca, Jerusalem and the Vatican rolled into one. God’s word was and still is “the Washington Consensus” plus the Pentagon. And god help anyone who got in the way.
So who is in the way of the “Washington Caliphate”? Where is the current “axis of evil”? You guessed it: Syria, Russia and North Korea. The Arab Republic, the communist state and the ex-communist empire refuse to genuflect to the White House. And for committing this secular sin the mindless gods are mercilessly kneecapping them.
These three rebel states however continue to resist. In the face of almighty pressure each refuses to surrender their pride and sovereignty.
We’re witnessing a battle of wills like never before. This arc of resistance which stretches across the Eurasian landmass – from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Japan – is Brzezinski’s worst nightmare come true. Indeed viewed as one instead of three it is a formidable barrier to the totalitarian ambition of the CIA. Viewed as one instead of three it can prevail.
Why can they prevail? Because they possess the fire of the gods. They possess that which made the gods in Washington D.C. great in the first place: independence and reason. Syria, Russia and North Korea harken back to a time when modernism meant something – a time when western imperialism was the problem rather than the solution. And for this reason alone their perspective is a thousand times more real than the perspective of the god-lovers who terrorise them.
And the fire? The ultimate fire which they possess and will protect them is the nuclear bomb. Good old fashioned science (Prometheus) has given Russia and North Korea – and indirectly Syria too – the key to freedom. Say what you like about the nuclear bomb but in the hands of the weak – the Empire must back down. And in the space created we can breathe. And recall the fact that god is dead. And the emperor in Washington is wearing no clothes.
Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.
“False narratives,” not the alleged Russian attempts, were the ultimate form of meddling in the election, Carter Page told CNN, striking back at the network’s anonymous report claiming the FBI has proof he and other Trump advisers interacted with Russian agents.
Carter Page made the comments to CNN on Saturday, just one day after the news outlet alleged that the FBI had gathered intelligence last summer suggesting that Russian agents attempted to infiltrate the election by using Trump’s advisers to do so.
Page was explicitly mentioned in the original CNN report, which cited unnamed US officials as sources.
Responding to the CNN report, Page noted that it said that Russia “tried” to infiltrate the campaign – which is a far cry from other terms previously used when it came to the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Moscow.
“Remember the headlines for many, many months. The Trump campaign ‘colluded’ [with Russia] or there [were] nefarious things going on. Now they’re really reeling things back and someone is saying out there the word ‘tried’,” Page pointed out.
“I’ve certainly seen a lot of ‘tries’ going back for much of the last year. Trying to put in false narratives over many, many months,” he went on.
Page then referred to the “dodgy dossier” of unverified information which includes allegations of Russian ties to the Trump campaign, calling it the “ultimate try” and “swing and a miss.”
Commenting on the infamous dossier, Page told CNN: “There are certain questions I have, frankly speaking, just reading that report – two weeks before the inauguration day, I might add – that makes me wonder whether this was really just a political stunt.”
He added that “we’ve seen that looking back at the history of political intelligence operations going back many decades.”
The leaked dossier was said to be compiled by a former British intelligence official for Trump’s political opponents.
The Friday CNN report claims that Page is one of several Trump advisers that US and European intelligence found to be in contact with Russian officials and other Russians known to Western intelligence during the campaign.
It states that Page may have communicated with them unknowingly “because of the way Russian spy services operate.”
But when asked whether he was aware of Russian efforts of using him to get into the Trump campaign, Page was confident he was never asked for any information that would have breached the campaign.
“Nothing I was ever asked to do, or no information that I was ever asked for, was anything beyond what you can see on CNN… nothing I ever talked about with any Russian official extends beyond that publicly available, immaterial information.”
Political commentator and satirist Tim Young told RT that he isn’t sure if the allegations of Russian meddling will ever end, adding that the left is merely looking for a scapegoat for losing the election.
It comes less than two weeks after the Washington Post reported that the FBI obtained a secret FISA warrant last summer to monitor Page’s communications, stating that there was probable cause to believe he acted as an agent for Russia and “knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow.”
CNN asked Page about the FISA warrant on Saturday, in a way which Young said was “baiting” him. He accused CNN of trying to get Page to admit that the FISA court had a reason to connect him to a crime with Russia, calling the line of questioning “ridiculous.”
Young also noted that it was easy to “make up anything” when it comes to reports from unknown sources, such as the ones cited by CNN in the Friday report.
The US has repeatedly accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computer networks during the election, claiming Moscow was trying to “interfere” with the results.
However, there is no evidence to show that the Kremlin was behind the attack, with many in the intelligence community stating that all signs point to an insider leak, rather than an outside hack.
Moscow has denied Washington’s claims as untrue and baseless.
The United States and other Western countries have blocked any attempt to launch an objective investigation into the chemical weapons incident in the Syrian province of Idlib, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a recent interview with Sputnik.
“We formally sent a letter to the United Nations, we asked them in that letter to send a delegation in order to investigate what happened in Khan Shaykhun,” Assad said.
“Of course till this moment they haven’t sent anyone, because the West and the United States blocked any delegation from coming, because if they come, they will find that all their narratives about what happened in Khan Shaykhun and then the attack on Sha’irat airport was a false flag, was a lie,” he said.
Furthermore, Assad said that in the wake of the first attack in Aleppo carried out by terrorists against the army a few years ago, Damascus had asked the United Nations to send an investigation delegation “in order to prove what we said about the terrorists having used gas against our army.”
“And later many incidents happened in that way, and they didn’t send any delegation. It’s the same now,” Assad said.
Dmitry Egorchenkov, deputy head of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Prognosis at the People’s Friendship University of Russia, noted that the current situation proves that the West continues to apply double standards.
“Structures within the UN, first of all the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), try to conduct some kind of a remote investigation. These organizations and structures have ignored other reports by Damascus about chemical weapons incidents in Syria. Our Western partners continue to follow the logic of double standards. Unfortunately, the UN is not independent and cannot have an impartial role in the investigation,” Egorchenkov told Radio Sputnik.
According to the expert, the West is blocking the probe for a number of reasons.
“These organizations (the UN and the OPCW) are controlled by Western states. They are afraid of an impartial investigation because it may turn out that the incident was organized by West-backed forces. And if it turns out that the attack was fake this would mean it was part of an information war and this would be clear,” Egorchenkov pointed out.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, the OPCW fact-checking mission investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhun said it had found traces of sarin in the victims’ bodies.
“The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin like substance. While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible,” OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said Wednesday.
The next day, the OPCW rejected the Russian and Iranian proposal to investigate the suspected chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib.
According to ex-member of a UN commission on biological and chemical weapons Igor Nikulin, the OPCW probe cannot be considered objective in any way.
“Unfortunately, the hasty statements that they [OPCW officials] make without the commission’s visit [to Idlib], without taking analyses on the ground, are of course alarming as the footages we all saw don’t necessarily mean that exactly sarin had been used, although it cannot be excluded. If the commission arrived at the site and took trial tests, then it would be logical. But they made a diagnosis from The Hague. It reminds of a diagnosis of a doctor who did not see his patient,” he told Sputnik Radio.
Nikulin added that Damascus has been blamed for the alleged chemical attack that hadn’t been properly investigated.
On April 4, a chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib Province claimed the lives of some 80 people and inflicted harm on an additional 200 civilians. The Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, as well as a number of Western states, accused the Syrian government troops of carrying out the attack, while Damascus refuted these allegations. The Syrian government has repeatedly said that the Syrian Army does not possess chemical weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on April 6 that groundless accusations related to the chemical weapons incident in Idlib Province were unacceptable before the investigation into the matter had been carried out.
However, the incident was used as pretext for the United States to conduct a missile strike against Ash Sha’irat Airbase on April 6. US President Donald Trump characterized the strike as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian government troops while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was a violation of international law. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the US missile strike against the Syrian airfield as a strategic mistake.
Instead of repeating accusations against Iran, the US should fulfil its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on the review of the lifting of sanctions.
In his letter to the Congress on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acknowledged that Iran was compliant to the accord, but blasted the country as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
Tillerson claimed that Tehran has been fueling various military conflicts in the Middle East, undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.
It was the first time that the Congress was informed on how Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), usually referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, under the Trump administration. The State Department must update US senators on the issue every 90 days.
Zarif took to Twitter to respond to Tillerson’s claims, stressing that Washington should “fulfill its own commitments” as part of the deal.
“Worn-out US accusations can’t mask its admission of Iran’s compliance w/ JCPOA,” the Foreign Minister added as cited by Reuters.
Moscow commented on Tillerson’s claim by saying that secretary of state should have separated the allegations of terrorism and the nuclear deal as they “have nothing in common,” according to Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control.
“If the deal does not work, then specific complaints should be made regarding its functioning. The Americans can’t do this. The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], an independent participant in this process, confirms that the Iranians are implementing everything. Therefore, any claims are irrelevant here, it seems to me,” Ulyanov said.
Washington blames Tehran for supporting various groups that it views as terrorist organizations, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen.
Iran has also been backing the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, also sending military advisers and fighters to Iraq to help fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) there.
The Iranian nuclear deal, which took years to negotiate, restricted the nuclear ambitions of Tehran in exchange for lifting financial and oil sanctions.
The accord signed between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, the US, plus Germany) and the EU was touted as one of the main foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration.
However, Donald Trump called it “the worst deal ever negotiated” during his campaign for the White House.
A special inter-agency review of policy towards Iran will now look into if the lifting of sanctions against Tehran was in the interest of the US.
The sectoral sanctions the Western powers imposed on Russia in July 2014 because of the conflict in the Donbass continue to have paradoxical results.
The financial sanctions, which effectively prevented Russian companies from borrowing in Western financial markets, instead of causing the Russian economy to implode, have caused it to deleverage at an unprecedented rate, hugely strengthening Russia’s financial sector and the balance sheets of Russia’s companies, setting the scene for a coming investment boom.
The counter-sanctions Russia imposed prohibiting the importation of Western foodstuffs into Russia have led to a huge boom in Russia’s agriculture sector, as even the Financial Times was recently forced to admit, making Russia almost completely self-sufficient in food, and making it a major food exporter.
However perhaps the most paradoxical result of all has been in Russia’s oil and gas industry.
Western sanctions were supposed to cripple this industry – wrongly assumed in the West to be existentially important for Russia’s very existence – by depriving it of the technology it needed to develop the huge untapped oil and gas reserves Russia is known to have in the Arctic, and making development of its huge shale reserves, which are known to dwarf those of the US, impossible.
In the event the Financial Times has now admitted in a lengthy article that within less than three years of the sanctions being imposed the Russian oil and gas industry is in the throes of a technological boom, as Russian companies forge ahead with Arctic drilling, successfully replicating the very same Western technologies which were supposed to be beyond them:
… a drill began its 5,000m journey downwards, in search of oil deposits that the country is banking on to provide more than a quarter of its future output. Perched on the edge of a peninsula deep in the Arctic Circle, Tsentralno- Olginskaya-1 will be Russia’s northernmost oil well. Closer to the North Pole than to any city, it is a feat of engineering that uses equipment shipped 3,600km through icy waters navigable only for two months of the year.
The well is one of the most technologically challenging ever attempted in Russia. With the deposits located beneath the icy, frequently frozen waters of the Laptev Sea, cutting-edge horizontal drilling techniques will be used to reach up to 15,000m from the main site.
But it was also a moment of triumph for Mr Putin, who was beamed in via video conference from St Petersburg as Mr Sechin braved the frigid elements and who celebrated the start of drilling as an act of homegrown ingenuity.
Three years ago, when the US and EU imposed sanctions on the country that restricted companies such as Rosneft from foreign capital and technology, complex wells were exactly the kind of ambitious projects that were supposed to be rendered impossible. Western governments hoped that pressure on Russia’s main energy companies would help change Mr Putin’s political calculations. But as projects like Tsentralno-Olginskaya-1 attest, Russia’s oil and gas majors have found ways to carry on regardless.
“Horizontal drilling is a complex and high-tech operation. This is just the first well. There is much more work ahead,” Mr Putin told Mr Sechin in the heavily scripted conversation.
It seems according to the same article that the Russians are forging ahead with shale technology as well:
… 2,000km south-west of Tsentralno-Olginskaya-1 in western Siberia, Gazprom Neft, Russia’s third-largest oil producer, is showing few ill effects. Late last year, it became the first Russian company to demonstrate shale oil fracking expertise with a 1km-long horizontal well 2.3km below ground at a site in the vast Bazhenov field, estimated to be the world’s largest shale oil deposit.
Gazprom Neft was able to use homegrown technology that it was forced to develop after the sanctions prompted its international partners to walk away from the project.
“We are like a snowball,” says Sergey Vakulenko, head of strategy and innovation at the company, a unit of gas giant Gazprom. “The harder you squeeze, the harder we get.” …
“Sure, in terms of shale technology, we are a little behind the Americans. But in time, and definitely before we absolutely need to, we will get to where we need to be, sanctions or no sanctions,” says Mr Vakulenko.
“We could do it now, but we don’t need to,” he adds, referring to even more complex fracking techniques that will be required to fully exploit the Bazhenov field’s 75bn barrels of estimated reserves. “Why go after the high-hanging fruit when there is lower stuff available right now?”
The point about Russia not needing to go after the high-hanging fruit when there is an abundance of lower-hanging fruit for it to exploit is not bragging or propaganda. It was made to me a few months ago in person by a Russian scientist who is an expert in hydraulic fracking.
Perhaps even more striking than this news of technological advances is the Financial Times’ admission that the effect of the sanctions has been to make the Russian oil and gas industry financially stronger and more efficient:
“In terms of today’s projects, we are not at all affected [by the sanctions],” [Yakulenko] says in an interview at the company’s St Petersburg offices, where engineers use vast computer screens to remotely control drills at more than 600 wells across the country. “At their current configuration, they aren’t and won’t be painful, irrelevant of how long they are in place.”
Between 2013 and 2016, Russian crude oil production rose almost 6 per cent, more than twice as much as the rise in combined output from the Opec group of countries. Revenues at the country’s three largest producers have risen 11 per cent in that period.
The curtailment of foreign cash forced many to restructure their balance sheets with the help of domestic lenders, cut loss-making or costly new projects, and increase their efficiency.
Acquisitions and international expansion projects have followed. “The accepted narrative is that there is only upside risk from sanctions [being lifted] as the majority of the companies affected have shown few ill effects,” says the head of a western bank in Moscow. “In fact, lots of them have been forced to be smarter and have increased their competitiveness.”
Articles such as this one in the Financial Times are still comparatively rare. The orthodoxy amongst Western governments and in the Western media is that Russia is suffering badly from the sanctions. That is one reason why there is still so much resistance to any move whether by the Trump administration or by anyone else to lift them.
The truth is that though the sanctions caused the Russian economy genuine difficulties in late 2014, when Russian companies had to repay debts they struggled to finance because of the sanctions and the oil price fall, once Russia got through those initial difficulties the effect of the sanctions on the Russian economy has been entirely beneficial, and is becoming more so.
The West seriously underestimated Russia in 2014. It failed to realise to what extent the country had advanced beyond the disastrous times of the 1990s.
Whereas the sort of sanctions the West imposed on Russia in 2014 would have crushed the Russian economy if they had been imposed in say 2000, today Russia is fully capable of developing its economy by drawing on its own financial resources and its own technology, both of which it has in abundance.
What the West did in 2014, by imposing the sanctions at a time when there was an oil price fall, was force the Russians to do this more efficiently and more quickly than they would have done if they had been left alone.
Westerners always seem to cling on to their idea of Russia as a poor, technologically backward, ill-governed, irredeemably corrupt, ‘third world’ country (“Upper Volta with missiles”). This is what leads them to make foolish decisions, such as the decision to impose sectoral sanctions, which they took in July 2014.
On the subject of Russia being ill-governed, the Financial Times quotes Apurva Sanghi, lead economist for Russia at the World Bank in Moscow, as having this to say:
There is a pretty uniform consensus that the oil price shock dwarfed the sanctions. If you look at what the authorities have done over the past few years for macro stability, it has been pretty outstanding and the results are there to be seen.
On the macro-economic facts, it is impossible to disagree with this assessment, and on the oil and gas industry facts as described in the Financial Times article, it is impossible to say anything different.
On 27th May 2016, when I discussed the West’s failed attempt to stop Russia floating a eurobond, I made this point in relation to how the West’s actions had actually strengthened Russia’s financial system
Truly Western governments when it comes to Russia seem intent on proving Nietzsche’s dictum true: that which does not break us makes us stronger. Certainly that has been true of Russia’s eurobond sale. By trying and failing to sabotage it the West has only managed to make Russia stronger.
The same it turns out is true of Russia’s oil and gas industry.
Theresa May’s Conservative Party has launched its general election bid with a fresh scaremongering campaign, arguing that unless Tories prevail, Vladimir Putin will win.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already become a prominent figure in Britain’s upcoming general election, having been dragged into the pre-election debate by the Tories.
Facing widespread public criticism for not having a clear Brexit strategy and constantly implementing austerity measures, the Conservative Party has resorted to the now globally-tested method of using Vladimir Putin as a bogeyman to win more votes.
Earlier this week, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Russia’s president would welcome a Labour Party victory.
Speaking at an event to mark the deployment of 800 British troops in Estonia as part of a NATO mission in the region, Fallon claimed that a “feeble and gutless” Corbyn plays into the hands of Moscow.
“Russia will be watching Labour’s feebleness that Jeremy Corbyn has not supported this deployment. He has questioned it. He has questioned this deployment.
“Russia will be watching that, will have noted that feebleness and will be watching it throughout this campaign,” the Defence Secretary said.
This rhetoric echoes an accusation made by Tory Armed Forces Minister Mike Penning, who claimed that Corbyn was in some way collaborating with the Russian government.
“The Labour leader would rather collaborate with Russian aggression than mutually support Britain’s NATO allies,” Penning said, referring to Labour’s concerns that further NATO deployment on Russia’s borders could escalate tensions.
In addition to accusing the main opposition leader of being in bed with the Kremlin, the Tories also warn that Vladimir Putin could try to hack the British elections in order to prevent the Conservative Party from winning.
For instance, Fallon made the unsubstantiated suggestion that Russian intelligence services will try to influence the upcoming elections through hacking, while at the same time assuring that the British security agencies are fully prepared for any cyberattacks.
“We took steps before the 2015 election to protect our systems against Russian interference, including our democratic systems.
“Those protections remain in place and we will obviously be watching for any of the kind of interference we have seen in continental elections and is alleged to have taken place in the American election but we are well protected,” Fallon said.
GCHQ, Britain’s cyber-intelligence agency, which is subordinate to Tory Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, made a show of going on high alert less than 24 hours after Theresa May announced the upcoming general election to fend off Russian cyberattacks.
“It is understood that GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre will be working with the Cabinet Office to deliver a safe election so the same thing does not happen here as happened in America,” a Whitehall source told the Times, referring to allegations that Russia had hacked the 2016 US elections to aid Donald Trump.
However, the report by the US intelligence community said that, even if the alleged Russian involvement had taken place, it could not make judgment as to whether it had affected the outcome of the American presidential elections.
Western establishment parties have consistently accused Russia of rigging elections in favor of its opponents, but the Russian government has staunchly denied these claims as “baseless and amateurish.”
Unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed that Vladimir Putin has a personal “personal beef” against her, and thus ordered a cyber-attack on her election campaign.
Richard Ferrand, the campaign manager for Emmanuel Macron, a liberal candidate in France’s presidential election, has also argued that Putin is hacking his boss’s campaign.
“These attacks are coming from the Russian border,” Ferrand said.
“We want a strong Europe. That’s why we’re subject to attacks on our information system from the Russian state,” he said.
It’s already clear that the British general elections will not be exempt from the same anti-Russian scaremongering rhetoric, which critics say is an attempt to divert attention from the real issues.
The attempt by Western countries to derail Russia’s fact-finding initiative in Syria to examine the site of the chemical incident in Idlib province exposes their aim to topple the Syrian government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“I believe that it’s a very serious situation, because now it’s obvious that false information about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is being used to move away from implementing Resolution 2254, which stipulates a political settlement with the participation of all the Syrian parties, and aims to switch to the long-cherished idea of regime change,” Lavrov said, speaking at a press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Astana.
UNSC Resolution 2254 calls for an inclusive government in Syria and a peace process that would involve a new constitution and free and fair elections.
According to the minister, the decision displayed “complete incompetence” on the part of his Western colleagues, who, in fact, are “prohibiting the OPCW from sending their experts to the site of the incident, as well as to the airfield from where aircraft loaded with chemical weapons allegedly flew out.”
“Yesterday [April 20], our proposal that experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] visit the sites of the suspected chemical attack in Syria was blocked by Western delegations without any explanations,” Lavrov said.
In the meantime, the UK and France claim their experts have received samples from the site of the incident, Lavrov added.
“London, Paris, and the OPCW have given no answers to our questions as to where they took these samples, who took them, or when they were delivered,” Lavrov stated.
“I think we are very close to this organization [OPCW] being discredited,” Lavrov added.
On Thursday, the OPCW’s executive council overwhelmingly rejected a proposal from Russia and Iran for a new investigation into the Idlib chemical incident.
The proposal had been amended to agree to Western demands that the investigation into the alleged attack be carried out by the existing OPCW fact-finding mission, but was defeated nonetheless.
The draft proposal seen by AFP called on the OPCW “to establish whether chemical weapons were used in Khan Sheikhoun and how they were delivered to the site of the reported incident.”
Both OPCW fact-checking missions tasked with looking into the Idlib incident are being headed by UK citizens, which Lavrov called “a very strange coincidence” that “runs contrary to the principles of an international organization.”
Earlier in April, an incident in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun reportedly killed as many as 100 people and injured several hundred. The US has squarely laid the blame on Damascus, claiming that it hid chemical weapons stockpiles from the OPCW after pledging to hand them over in 2013.
Moscow, however, said a thorough investigation, including an on-site inspection in rebel-held territory, should be carried out before jumping to any conclusions. Russia has cautioned that the incident may have been a false flag operation meant to provoke a US attack against Syrian government forces.
The Russian military has questioned the swift conclusion of chemical weapons watchdog the OPCW, which has reported identifying sarin in samples related to an alleged attack in Syria on April 5.
The Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) convened in the Hague on Wednesday for an update on the investigation into the reported chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun.
Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü told members that four OPCW designated laboratories have studied samples collected from three victims of the alleged attack during their autopsy and seven individuals undergoing treatment after surviving the incident. He said analysis of all samples indicated exposure to sarin or a sarin-like substance.
“While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible,” the official said.
The OPCW statement didn’t explain how exactly the samples were collected. The inspectors have yet to visit Khan Shaykhun, which would allow the collection of samples on the ground to confirm contamination from a chemical agent. The site is located in a rebel-controlled territory in the Idlib province. Üzümcü said such a visit would depend on the security situation and cited an attack on an OPCW fact-finding mission in May 2014.
The Russian military, however, questioned the swift analysis of the samples, saying the OPCW did not act with such speed in another incident in which a militant group reportedly used mustard gas in Aleppo.
“Russian specialists on the site of the crime [in Aleppo] collected samples of the agent, which had been delivered to representatives of the OPCW and transported to the Hague. By the way, the Syrian leadership at the time offered safety guarantees and insisted that OPCW experts visit Aleppo, but nobody came,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.
“Four months later the OPCW still cannot come to a conclusion and call the mustard gas found there mustard gas, saying additional analysis is necessary,” he remarked.
The Russian military said it wanted details on who collected the samples and how they were studied at OPCW designated labs, and why the analysis in this case was completed in a much shorter space of time.
He added that if the OPCW states that sarin gas had been used in the incident, it would find it difficult to explain how White Helmet first responders survived exposure to the agent.
Footage taken at the scene in the aftermath of the alleged attack showed people from the controversial rescue group helping the victims while wearing no protective gear rated for handling sarin.
The OPCW is expected to provide a preliminary report on the incident within two weeks.
The incident in Khan Shaykhun reportedly killed as many as 100 people and injured several hundred. The US squarely laid the blame on Damascus, claiming that it hid chemical weapons stockpiles from the OPCW after pledging to hand them over in 2013.
Washington fired a barrage of cruise missiles at the Syrian airbase from which it claimed the chemical weapons attack was launched – a move that was hailed by Syria’s neighbor Israel. Europe backs the accusations against the Syrian government, even though no solid evidence has been made public.
Russia has called for a thorough investigation of the incident, which would include an on-site inspection in the rebel-held territory, before coming to any conclusions. Moscow believes that the incident may have been a false flag operation meant to provoke a US attack against Damascus.
© Sputnik/ Andrey Stenin
US complaints over how the nuclear deal on Iran is being implemented are irrelevant, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, Mikhail Ulyanov, said Thursday.
On April 19, US President Donald Trump ordered a National Security Council-led interagency review of the JCPOA to evaluate Iran’s compliance with the deal, with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson stating that the nuclear deal “fails to achieve the objective of non-nuclear Iran.” Tehran, in its turn, stressed that the deal was an international treaty and cannot be changed, adding that Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the JCPOA.
“If the deal does not work, then specific complaints should be made regarding its functioning. The Americans cannot do this. The IAEA, an independent participant in this process, confirms that the Iranians are implementing everything. Therefore, any claims are irrelevant here, it seems to me,” Ulyanov said.
Ulyanov noted that it was necessary for Tillerson to separate the notions of terrorism and the nuclear deal, which have nothing in common.
The JCPOA was signed by Iran and the P5+1 countries — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States plus Germany in July 2015, ensuring the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program in return for the gradual lifting of sanctions against Tehran. The deal came into force on January 16, 2016, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran was ready to implement the program to reduce its nuclear potential. However, the United States imposed new sanctions against Iran in February 2017 after a medium-range ballistic missile test has been carried out by Tehran in late January.
Russia said no serious steps have been taken to investigate into the alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun.
“Reports (about the alleged chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun) started coming 15 days ago but no steps have yet been taken in order to investigate into this incident,” Director of the Armaments Non-Proliferation and Control Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Ulyanov said on Wednesday.
He was addressing the special session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), held in The Hague, Russia’s foreign ministry’s posted on its website on Thursday, according to TASS Russian news agency.
Ulyanov pointed out that all accusations against Damascus of using chemical weapons were groundless as they were based only on questionable data available on social media.
At the same time, according to the Russian diplomat, representatives of some countries are acting as if the circumstances surrounding the incident, as well as those responsible, have already been established.
“In this regard, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s article for the Telegraph is notable in which he said that ‘this was highly likely to be an attack by Assad.’ It means that the British Foreign Secretary is not completely sure. Then why do our British counterparts make such unequivocal statements on the international level?” Ulyanov said.
Meanwhile, he slammed Washington over its claims to be absolutely certain it was Damascus who was to blame.
“This is what our US counterparts call a bad case of deja vu. We heard them say the same things 14 years ago, ahead of the military invasion in Iraq,” the Russian diplomat noted.
On the other hand, Ulyanov voiced Russia’s readiness for consultations with the US before the OPCW vote on proposals on the incident.
“Before putting a draft up for vote, all possibilities for reaching a consensus should be exhausted,” Ulyanov said.
“We are ready for immediate intensive consultations for that purpose, including with the US delegation,” he added.
“If our US partners are indeed interested in establishing the truth by carrying out a serious and prompt investigation, we have chances to reach an agreement,” the diplomat said. “If not, there is almost no room to search for mutually acceptable solutions.”
President Trump’s radical change in rhetoric concerning his foreign policy was accompanied by the bombing of an air base in Cheyrat, and that of an Afghan mountain.
The world trembled before the deployment of such force – 59 Tomahawk missiles in Syria and one GBU-4/B3 mega-bomb in Afghanistan. Yet the base in Cheyrat was already operational again the following morning, while the « Mother Of All Bombs » certainly caused the collapse of three exits of a natural tunnel, but did not destroy the kilometres of underground passages created over time by the rivers within the mountain. In short, much ado about nothing.
These two operations were clearly intended to convince the US deep state that the White House was once again supporting its imperial politics. They had the desired effect on Germany and France. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande applauded their lord and master, and called for an end to the Syrian situation. The surprise arrived from elsewhere.
The United Kingdom did not only follow the movement. Their Minister for Foreign Affairs, Boris Johnson, proposed to levy sanctions against Russia, according to him an accomplice in the Syrian « crimes », and responsible in one way or another for the Afghan resistance and a plethora of other evils.
During the meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs at the G7, Johnson announced the cancellation of his trip to Moscow, and invited all his partners to break off their political and commercial relations with Russia. However, though approving the British initiative, these partners prudently stayed in the background. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, incontrovertibly dismissed this insane proposition and maintained his trip to Moscow. Brazenly, Johnson then declared that the Europeans had appointed Tillerson to go and talk some sense into the Russians.
Although international protocol states that Ministers are to be received by their opposite numbers, and not by the Head of State, the Atlantist Press presented Tillerson’s welcome by Lavrov as a cooling of Russo-US relations. Before he had the time to salute his guest, Sergey Lavrov was interrupted by a Washington journalist who took him to task. Reminding him of the conventions of basic politeness, the Russian Minister refused to answer him and cut the presentations short.
The meeting, behind closed doors, lasted for more than 4 hours, which seems fairly long for people who have nothing to say to one another. Finally, the two men requested an audience with President Putin, who recieved them for 2 extra hours.
After these meetings, the Ministers gave a Press conference. They declared without irony that they had done little more than take note of their divergences. Sergey Lavrov warned the journalists of the danger that this rupture represented for the world.
However, the next day, the same Lavrov, addressing the Russian Press, indicated that he had concluded an agreement with his guest. Washington had agreed not to continue their attacks on the Syrian Arab Army, and the military coordination between the Pentagon and the Russian army for circulation in Syrian airspace had been re-established.
In appearance, the Trump administration is roaring its power and throwing bombs around, but in reality, it is taking great care not to cause any irreparable damage. The worst and the best are therefore possible.
Translation by Pete Kimberley
On MSNBC’s Sirius XM promos, Rachel Maddow tells the listener that the network—and by extension, herself as well—presents the news without “fear or favor.”
But a review of the month of March by Paste suggests that fear sells. With a single exception, Maddow led off every episode of her show in March with an extended, conspiratorial update for her viewers on the alleged connections between Russia and the Trump administration. Maddow’s monologues focused on the Russian oligarchic state and the authoritarian rule of President Vladimir Putin.
This obsession with Russia has had a palpable effect on the national conversation. Maddow is one of the most influential and popular voices for American liberals, and her theorizing on the Russia/Trump connection is part of a larger theory connecting the alleged collusion between the two to every world and national event.
As Aaron Mate points out in The Intercept, Maddow’s concentration on Trump is predicated on the idea that the President is a Russian pawn. It’s hardly a sure thing, and the focus may be more damaging than constructive for the “resistance.”
Maddow and likeminded influential liberals will have led their audience on a fruitless quest, all the while helping foment anti-Russia sentiment, channeling Democratic Party energy away from productive self-critique, and diverting focus from the White House’s actual policies. Trump would be handed a further gift via the damaged credibility of his “enemy”: the media responsible for holding him to account.
Look no further than the reactions to Trump’s bombing of a Syrian government airfield on April 6 for proof of that—despite the fact that Bashar al-Assad is openly backed by Russia, some liberal commentators refuse to see the missile strike as at all possibly opposed to Russian interests. “Donald Trump, Who’s Totally Not Vladimir Putin’s Puppet, Warned Russia Before Airstrikes on Syria,” was Salon’s sarcastic headline.
This is in large part because Maddow presents Russia as an outlier on the world stage, involved in activity and behavior that is incompatible with the American way of life. Yet her examples from the last month are hardly convincing.
In Russia, Maddow says, there is a “corrupt, elite class of connected thieves at the top who have been siphoning money out of that country.” Though she acknowledges that the US has massive income inequality and corruption, in Russia it’s different, because
the politically connected class at the top that is stealing is much smaller… and is much more traceable now, in the short amount of time, in terms of the way they have yanked money out of that country, and the way they have spread it all over the world to hide it and to disguise its origins.
Let’s hope nobody shatters Maddow’s image of America by pointing out that 400 Americans own as much wealth as the bottom 61 percent of the population. Or that, according to the World Bank, the United States and Russia have almost exactly the same GINI index—the standard measure of inequality.
Not only is Russia a unique kleptocracy, Maddow says, but it (along with China and North Korea) is also an abnormally bellicose nation, consumed by the need to show off its military prowess and power. This kind of behavior, Maddow argues, is antithetical to the American way of life (emphasis added).
There’s no law against parading your military, whether or not it’s an important anniversary. But through American eyes, this is a little weird, right? If this gives you the willies to look at, it`s because it`s supposed to. This is an unabashed, uncomplicated, undisguised display of military threat, military prowess or national insecurity, depending on how you look at it. I mean, this is not something that we do here in the United States.
It’s hard to know how Maddow would describe the constant flyovers by Air Force jets at football games, the honoring of fully dressed Marines at baseball games, or the numerous holidays the United States has that involve the strutting of US military machines, personnel and paraphernalia. One way to describe it, of course, would be as an unabashed, uncomplicated, undisguised display of military threat, military prowess or national insecurity—depending on how you look at it.
Instead of policy discussions, analysis of domestic issues or digging into the backgrounds of administration personnel, Maddow’s program spent March with a spotlight aimed at the new administration’s as-yet-unsubstantiated ties with Russian government intelligence services and the allegedly Russian-led hack of the DNC emails.
It paid off. Maddow’s program is the only non-Fox News program in the ten top-rated cable news programs for the first quarter of 2017, and the highest-ranked non-Fox program in the lucrative 25-54 demographic, according to AdWeek. Yet this success came with an obsession with Russia twinned with overblown dot-connecting, speculative reasoning stated as fact and an emphasis on a wide ranging, insidious conspiracy.
Maddow referenced Russia repeatedly in March. The highest number of mentions we found was 105 on March 9, the lowest was days earlier on March 6, when it came up only eight times. On average, the country was mentioned around 53 times a show—or over once a minute, once you subtract commercials from the airtime—and Maddow did not let a single opening segment go by for the entire month without at least a mention of Russia’s alleged ties to Trump.
The entire list is below, but here are three telling examples of Maddow’s obsessive attention to Russia at the expense of anything else going on in the news.
— March 7, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 71 times. Maddow acknowledged news about ACA and immigration, but chose to lead instead with a study of the Russian embassy, promising to cover the breaking domestic news later.
— March 14, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 19 times. The show led with the infamous tax return document that Maddow introduced with a winding 20-minute monologue that touched on a number of conspiracy theories for which she provided no proof.
— March 17, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 51 times. The show led with Tom Price, then moves to the Gorsuch hearings as a pretext for a long discussion on hypothetical discoveries about Russia in House hearings.
It was on the latter date that Maddow laid out the justification for her unrelenting focus—a thesis grounded on flimsy evidence, hyperbolic rhetoric and unsubstantiated allegations:
The Russian attack on our election last year, the unexplained connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during that time, during the time of the attack, the strangeness, particularly, the strangeness of the FBI in its treatment of this matter, it’s unsettling. It’s unsettling not just because this is one scandal among so many scandals for this young administration. So many scandals that some are being ignored because they’re not big enough to warrant attention amid other scandals, right?
This is unsettling not just because it’s one scandal among many. This is unsettling because if the worst is true, if the presidency is effectively a Russian op, right, if the American presidency right now is the product of collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American campaign—I mean, that is so profoundly big. We not only need to stay focused on figuring it out, we need to start preparing for what the consequences are going to be if it proves to be true. We need to start thinking about how we’re going to deal with the worst revelations if they do come to light, if they are proved true.
Maddow could have just looked over reporting from the last four months to see that the allegations that Russia “attacked” the presidential election are questionable. But instead, she spent the entire month of March pushing an ever-escalating conspiracy theory to explain the Trump presidency, based on speculative hyperbole describing a mass web of collusion between the president, the Russian government and other actors.
“WikiLeaks got all inextricably bound up in our new national nightmare about Russia hacking our presidential election,” Maddow said (3/6/17), and “Russian intelligence was mounting an operation against us, against our election to try to affect the outcome” (3/9/17). Yet despite the fact that the MSNBC host had “been following this [with] pretty intense attention” (3/2/17), she conceded she didn’t “know what`s going on in terms of the law enforcement and intelligence investigations” (3/3/17).
That didn’t stop Maddow from speculating about what those investigations could find out about possible Trump/Russia collusion.
“We’ve had it confirmed today that what they are also investigating is whether, once again, the Russians had help from inside the United States when it came time to humble America and show our country what they are capable of,” Maddow said (3/20/17), elaborating remarkably on the testimony of FBI Director James Comey, who had said only that the agency was investigating potential ties between the campaign and the Russian government.
Maddow’s viewers wouldn’t have known that from her. Instead, they would have been treated to more accusations of an intelligence operation that used the internet and Bernie Sanders supporters to defeat Hillary Clinton.
“Russian forces were operating inside something very high-profile,” Maddow said (3/31/17). “They were operating inside the U.S. presidential election.”
“This is not part of American politics,” she said earlier in the month (3/21/17). “This is not, you know, partisan warfare between Republicans and Democrats. This is international warfare against our country and it did not end on election day. We are still in it.”
Trump’s finances came in for scrutiny as well—understandable, given that the president has refused to release his tax returns. But even a major scoop in mid-March fell prey to a rambling monologue that tried to hit all the marks of the Russian conspiracy theory before landing on a rather deflated two-page nothingburger.
“Has [Trump] received money from foreign sources? Has he received loans from foreign sources?” Maddow asked, before revealing two pages of a 2005 tax return that indicated nothing of the sort.
She added the next day that there were questions on why Trump would make public statements on the benefits of investing in Russia in 2006, trying to tie in the widely panned exposé from the night before:
Why did he think so? Were there financial ties with Russia that would give him such confidence about that pronouncement which he made very shortly after he signed this tax return?
There are no negative consequences for the liberal commentator for trafficking in these sorts of conspiracy theories, as long as they’re aimed at the “right” target—look no further than Fairness and Accuracy’s recent reporting on Louise Mensch to see how the most discredited, illogical ideas can gain credence on the centrist liberal media circuit as long as they are aimed at Russia. And in Maddow’s case, these theories have an added bonus: higher ratings and corresponding higher ad revenue.
Maddow presents herself as a fair but tough liberal commentator. Her show is based on her presentation of the news that her audience wants and needs to hear. For her to spend so much time on a Cold War enemy at the expense of real domestic policies, and for her to do so with such speculative reasoning and logical leaps and bounds makes it clear that it’s ratings, not truth, that she’s really after.
Maddow on Russia: March, 2017
Findings on the pundit’s preoccupation
— March 2, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 24 times. Show leads with Attorney Jeff Sessions’ conversations with Kislyak.
— March 3, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 68 times. Show leads with profile of Russian opposition to Putin.
— March 6, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 8 times. Show leads with Trump family ties to central Asian nation Azerbijain.
— March 7, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 71 times. Maddow acknowledges news about ACA and immigration but chooses to lead instead with a study of the Russian embassy, promising to cover the domestic breaking news later.
— March 8, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 103 times. Show leads with the GOP platform on Russia and Ukraine.
— March 9, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 105 times. Show leads with sanctions and mentions the unsubstantiated dossier on Trump written by retired British intelligence officer Christopher Steele Buzzfeed published, acknowledges its content has not been verified, and then quotes from it at length.
— March 10, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 47 times. Show leads with Mike Flynn’s ties to the country and his dinner with RT.
— March 13, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 50 times. Show leads with Russian money laundering after Maddow lets the audience know the GOP healthcare bill has problems, but she’ll get to them later.
— March 14, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 19 times. Show leads with the infamous tax return document that Maddow introduced with a winding 20-minute monologue touching on a number of conspiracy theories for which she had zero proof.
— March 15, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 31 times. Show leads with Geert Wilders and the Russian investigation in Congress; Maddow tries to tie an FSB agent’s prosecution in Russia to Trump.
— March 16, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 65 times. Show leads with the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
— March 17, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 51 times. Show leads with Tom Price, then moves to the Gorsuch hearings as a pretext for a long discussion on hypothetical discoveries about Russia in House hearings.
— March 20, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 86 times. Show leads with Russian nuclear capabilities.
— March 22, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 54 times. Show leads with Paul Manafort’s connections to an unnamed Russian billionaire.
— March 23, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 57 times. Show leads with health care repeal (Russia and Ukraine are a segment later on).
— March 24, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 33 times. Show leads with the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian involvement in the election.
— March 27, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 50 times. Show leads with the FSB and Russian banks conspiring to get Trump elected.
— March 28, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 39 times. Show leads with Maddow declaring that Russia and China’s displays of military power during national holidays are unique to those countries.
— March 29, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 50 times. Show leads with alleged Russian involvement in the upcoming French elections.
— March 30, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 33 times. Show leads with Mike Flynn’s request for immunity, which Maddow ties to Russia.
— March 31, 2017: “Russia” or “Russians” mentioned 80 times. Show leads with the House investigation.