World War Free? Posted November 10th 2019
The Chinese embassy in Germany has dismissed the US secretary of state’s accusations of the Chinese government’s growing authoritarianism as the product of a “Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset.”
Speaking in Berlin on Friday ahead of 30th anniversary events to mark the falling of the Berlin Wall, Mike Pompeo took aim at both China and Russia, saying the world needs to be protected from threats posed by both and that “free nations are in a competition of values with unfree nations.”
Pompeo also accused the Chinese Communist Party of “shaping a new vision of authoritarianism.”
Responding to the remarks, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Germany said Beijing “expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to Pompeo’s comments, adding that they seem designed to drive a wedge between China and European nations.
The spokesperson added that “unilateralism and protectionism pose a serious threat to world peace and stability,” and China is willing to strengthen relations with Germany “so as to make contributions to world peace and development.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused Pompeo of ideological prejudice and said that “attempts to separate the Chinese people and the Chinese Communist Party are a provocation against the entire Chinese people and are doomed to fail.”
Editorial Comment Freedom is just another name for nothing. It is bandied around by bloated smug usually male politicians. Their female counterparts prefer to talk about themselves as the great honourable unfree in their own never ending war against male oppression. Truth is the one thing none of them are looking for.
As for the U.S or Britain having anything to teach about democracy truth and freedom, they should explain themselves to Julian Assange, his former co workers and supporters.
They got Assange on spurious sex charges, relying on women as the new thought police. Unfortunately sex is a basic human drive for reproductiion and vanity so good men will always be vulnerable on that one. The elite know that and are above that and other laws themselves. Britain should be renamed Cover Ups r’Us.
Hong Kong Democracy? Posted November 8th 2019
Hong Kong protesters held a vigil for “martyrs” on Saturday November 9th and many demanded “revenge” after a student died in hospital this week following a high fall, fueling anger among pro-democracy demonstrators who first took to the streets in June.
Thousands of people peacefully gathered in Tamar Park next to central government offices in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, after they had secured rare permission from the police to hold the evening rally.
The protesters sang hymns and carried flowers, while many shouted “revenge,” a call heard increasingly often at rallies and given added impetus since a student died on Friday after falling from a multi-story car park during a protest.
Police estimated 7,500 people attended Saturday’s vigil.
Editorial Britain’s ruling elite took Hong Kong through its vile Opium Wars in the ninetreeth century. Now, along with the U.S, they are involved with this so called pro democracy movement. As always it’s about the money and Shamocracy. Robert Cook
This is what’s wrong with Canada’s Right
As its support base shifts and hardens, the Conservatives increasingly have a new measure: are you with us or against us? Posted November 5th 2019
Jan 11, 2019
During Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leadership race last winter, Bill Fox donated to Caroline Mulroney’s campaign. The party immediately began carpet-bombing him with fundraising messages denouncing the “downtown elites” they were going to take down. “When you live in a condominium in Leslieville at the corner of Dundas and Carlaw, it’s pretty hard not to take that a little personally,” says Fox, hooting with laughter.
He was Brian Mulroney’s director of communications when Mulroney steered the PCs to a historic federal majority of 211 seats in 1984, but Fox hasn’t felt at home with the current federal Conservatives for years, mostly because of the party’s social policy and anti-elite bent. He can see the feeling is mutual. “In their mind, I am now part of the ‘other,’ ” he says. “I’m not them.”
The major parties in Canada were, not so long ago, big tents that were nominally blue or red but sheltered a broad and often ideologically mixed bag of policy positions and personal opinions. Every few years, they would cobble together a set of proposals tackling the issues of the day and hope to build a coalition large enough to govern. As Fox points out, in his days on the front lines, Red Tories like him and Blue Grits were common creatures, and if you wanted to be mischievous, you would ask what the difference was between them.
No one would confuse a Grit and a Tory of any hue these days, and it would be treated as a slur if you did.
On the right side of the Canadian spectrum, this tribalism has its roots in the 2003 merger of the PCs and Canadian Alliance that produced the Conservative Party of Canada, now led by Andrew Scheer. But, paradoxically, the newly split right—thanks to Maxime Bernier bolting to found the anti-immigration, libertarian People’s Party of Canada—is further fuelling the Conservative tendency to appeal to the most ardent base and seemingly no one else. “Mr. Bernier, for his own selfish reasons, has made it increasingly difficult, and borderline impossible, to campaign in the mould of the Harperite campaign strategy, which was ‘rough the edges off and go for a big-tent Conservative party,’ ” says Jason Lietaer, a conservative strategist and president of Enterprise Canada. “Because Mr. Scheer is fighting a rear-guard action, that is a significant risk.”
More broadly, James Moore, Stephen Harper’s former industry minister, argues that across all parties, the traditional left-right axis has been replaced by a sort of tripartite purity test. “There’s ‘with us,’ ‘might be with us,’ and ‘against us,’ ” he says. “And it’s on an issue-by-issue basis.”
And the metrics by which Canadian Conservatives judge who is with them or against them have fundamentally shifted. University of Saskatchewan political studies professor David McGrane, drawing on findings of a paper he co-authored called “Moving beyond the urban/rural cleavage,” says the action on the right is on identity issues like immigration, gay rights and environmentalism rather than traditional small-government, low-tax policies. “For Conservative voters, suburbanites and people who live in more rural areas, this idea of being socially progressive and economically conservative doesn’t hold up,” he says. “You’re probably more economically progressive and socially conservative.”
No 10 accused of ‘whopping untruths’ over Russia report Posted November 3rd 2019
Russia has interfered in elections of other countries, says Mr Grieve Downing Street has been accused of telling “whopping untruths” over the publication of a report into the threat posed by Russia to the UK’s democratic processes.
The claim by former attorney general Dominic Grieve ramps up the war of words with Number 10 over the release of the dossier, which he argues is essential ahead of the election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also demanded its publication, questioning what the government “have got to hide”.
Mr Grieve, the chair of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), alleges the prime minister is sitting on the report ahead of the 12 December poll.
The independent MP who was kicked out of the Tories by Boris Johnson over his opposition to no-deal Brexit is calling on the Conservative leader to publish the committee’s report before parliament is dissolved on Tuesday.
The House of Commons has previously been told the report was sent to the PM on 17 October.
A former head of MI6’s Russia desk is understood to have given evidence to the inquiry Mr Grieve says Downing Street should have signed off the report within 10 working days, but No 10 dispute this and maintain the process usually takes six weeks.
Parliament is expected to sit on Monday and Tuesday ahead of dissolution although proceedings could be brought to an end sooner, which may prevent the report’s release.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Grieve said: “If it can’t be published by Tuesday it will not be published at the earliest until April or May of next year.
“It does have a bearing on electoral processes because we know that the Russians have in other countries interfered in their electoral processes.”
He said that Downing Street’s six-week claim on clearing the report was “completely and totally untrue”.
Jeremy Corbyn has questioned what the government ‘have got to hide’ Mr Grieve added: “It’s a lie. I really get worried about this. The process of getting this report cleared is finished.
“The last stage – the clearance by the prime minister – is programmed for 10 days.
“The suggestion that six weeks are needed is just astonishing.
“They are coming out with things that are quite simply whopping untruths and they must know it.”
He went on: “I find it really worrying. What on earth is going on when people can come along and authoritatively suggest something which is complete fiction.
“If the prime minister has a reason why he can’t publish or doesn’t wish this report to be published we need to know about it please.
“It would be exceptional. It has never, ever happened before.”
The Remain-supporting MP dismissed any suggestion that his call was linked to continuing tensions over the referendum.
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn told reporters: “Yes it should be released.
“And I suspect that the reason it hasn’t been published is because they’re going to delay it past the dissolution of parliament on Tuesday and then they can hide it away until some point in the future.
“If a report has been called for and written, and it should be in the public domain, then what have they got to hide?”
Sky News understands Christopher Steele, the former head of MI6’s Russia desk, gave evidence to the ISC inquiry.
Turkey, Is their Christmas Coming soon? Posted October 30th 2019
Amb. W. Robert Pearson, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey (2000-2003) and director general of the U.S. Foreign Service (2003-2006), told Middle East Forum Radio on October 23 that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s bid for “hegemonic control over the geography of Syria south of the Turkish border” is likely to fail, even with an American green light:
[Erdoğan] has tried for years now, offering in Idlib, Aleppo, and along the northeastern border to establish that kind of hegemony and get the Russians to agree to it. But the Russians have never agreed to it. They’ll push the Turks out of every bit of that geography they can and they will complete that job. Now that they’re doing patrols along the border with Turkish forces, something Erdoğan really did not prefer to have happen but is happening – backed by Syrian government, state armed forces – sooner or later, the Russians are going to say to the Turks, “please leave Syria,” and it will happen.
Since Erdoğan surely understands this reality, Pearson reasons that the real reasons for the Turkish invasion earlier this month were “purely political.” The Turkish leader “needs to shore up a base that is weakening” and compensate for his party’s defeat in Istanbul’s mayoral election in June. “This was his way of trying to rally his supporters to back his other domestic actions. A lot of people have suffered as a result of it.”
|Amb. W. Robert Pearson is presently a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute.|
Pearson, who was serving as U.S. ambassador in Ankara when Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002-2003, recounted how Erdoğan has changed over the course of his long tenure. “He’s evolved the articulation of his position, really from the time he came into politics, from a man who was moderate, reached out to all elements of the society, ran on a liberal platform in 2002, to the authoritarian rather hardline approach that he takes today.”
The AKP’s ascent, like that of Islamists elsewhere, was aided by the corruption and ineptitude of the secular political establishment:
They had gained support because they actually did things for people at the common level and reached out to communities in a way that the established parties didn’t do. The established parties had faced a number of charges of corruption, and they had, frankly, run out of energy. And for a year, at least, before the election in 2002, we in the embassy knew that the support for Erdoğan’s party was running at about 30%, which is a high number for Turkey. But none of the people in the establishment, when we talked to them, would accept this as credible. They thought that these were manufactured numbers and then when the results occurred and Erdoğan’s party was elected they were quite shocked. But we were not.
Pearson is pessimistic that the U.S. congress can bring sufficient pressure to bear on Turkey to change Erdoğan’s thinking, predicting “lots of condemnation, no sanctions”:
To be honest with you, Erdoğan doesn’t care what the U.S. does because [it has] now completely abdicated any influence or control in Syria. [It has] nothing on the table with Turkey that Turkey would find appealing to bargain about. So the real question is whether the Senate will pass a veto-proof heavy sanctions bill that would punish Turkey economically as a result of the incursion. I think that President Trump and his allies are working strenuously to let the heat about this issue out without allowing any of the substantive reaction that the Senate’s been talking about. … [A]ny attempt to pass a veto-proof bill in the Senate will be met by strong opposition from [Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and will have a very difficult time passing. So if it doesn’t pass, then there’s nothing that will be done against Turkey that is more than window dressing, and the U.S. will eventually be regarded as a non-player.
Pearson disagreed with MEF Radio cohost Gary C. Gambill’s suggestion that it may be time for Washington to reconsider its designation of Turkey’s PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) as a terrorist group:
Well, let’s look at it from the other end of the telescope. When we were trying – the UK, the U.S. and others – to bring peace to Northern Ireland, we didn’t start by deciding the IRA was not a terrorist organization. We started with a dialog process that led to a peace agreement, which led to the promise of political involvement by the IRA and its colleagues in the politics of Ireland rather than terrorist act. So if you want to do this right, you start a dialog with the Kurds, which would be a very good idea, and eventually you reach an accommodation.
Pearson disputed Turkish claims that the Syrian Kurdish YPG (Peoples Protection Units) – the main force within what the U.S. military rebranded as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – is one and the same as the PKK:
Well, they are kissing cousins, there’s no doubt about that, and they sympathize with each other. But there is no evidence whatsoever that the YPG was supplying arms, especially American manufactured arms, to the PKK, which we all recognize as a terrorist organization which wants to carve out separate territory in Turkey. … They were more interested in the protection of their own people and their own territory in northeastern Syria.
Asked if the U.S. should support Kurdish self-determination, Pearson drew a distinction between the right to self-determination and the right to self-defense. Kurdish self-determination requires that one or more of the four countries (Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran) that contain part of the Kurd’s historic homeland “either agree to it or accept it,” which he called “a steep mountain to climb.”
|The U.S. withdrawal forced Syrian Kurds “to jump into the arms of |
But the U.S. “was right in asserting that the Kurds had a right of self-defense,” he says, recounting how they were savagely attacked by ISIS as it expanded in 2013 and 2014. “No one else stepped forward to protect them or help them. So we did. and they were marvelous in helping us with bringing ISIS to the point of near collapse.”
The tiny U.S. military presence in northeastern Syria should have been maintained long enough to “ensure that the Kurds made the best deal possible with the Damascus and with Turkey regarding their future in Syria,” Pearson argues. “By fleeing as we did, we made it impossible for them to do that and they had to jump into the arms of the Russians and the Syrians just for survival purposes. That’s where we are today.”
Editorial Comment At last a U.S administration admits it is oil about stealing the oil Syria needs to rebuild. Britain is there to back them.
Turkey-Backed Jihadists in Syria Kidnap, Murder, and Desecrate
by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
October 24, 2019
Originally published under the title “Turkey-Backed Jihadists in Syria Call Women ‘Whores,’ Execute Prisoners.”
NATO member Turkey has sent hundreds of far-right extremists that it recruited under the banner of the Syrian National Army to fight in Syria. It has used them as both shock troops and canon fodder to fight mostly Kurdish forces along the border, but as a ceasefire began last week these units turned to looting attacking civilians and mutilating corpses, according to videos they posted online. The US says human rights violations may be occurring. Kurdish activists wonder why NATO stands behind religious extremists whose statements look little different than ISIS.
The first videos of jihadists being sent to fight Kurds under the banner of ‘Syrian rebel’ groups appeared in the lead-up to Turkey’s offensive on October 9. Videos showed men waving swords and chanting about “killing the kuffar” or “infidels,” terminology often used by ISIS. On October 12 a video emerged of a group executing two Kurdish detainees by the side of a road in Syria. According to reports it took place near the M4 highway inside Syria.
Comment These are not necessarily the views of Robert Cook
Conspiracy? Never! Posted October 27th 2019
Today in the U.K the clocks go back making the nights even darker. I am used to going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. Living in the West, I am also used to the elite media doing its best to keep me in the dark.
These days we are expected to belive that there is no such thing as a conspiracy in spite of history being full of them, including the Jewish priests comspiring with Judas and the Romans to capture and kill Jesus because they did not like his egalitarian message.
Ironically the powerful went on twist his teachings into the rival religions of Roman Catholicism, Proestantism and Islam with all of its schisms and politics.
Conspiracy comes naturally to the power hungry as does skill in lying. So we have the official lies about chemical weapons attacks on Douma in Syria, used as an excuse for the U.S, Britain and France to bomb government troops and installations.
The truth behind this hypocritical moralising attack on Syria is becoming clear. It is- as all the wars in the Middle East since 1990 have been- all about oil and rich peoples’ self interest.
Of course there have been and will go on being war crimes. But as the Assange affair proves, it will not be the power elite who pay the price for revelations. It will be the lower class ignorant and desperate for a job who get the blame for slightest misdemeanours, making all look good. Whsitleblowers like Julian Assange and Chelsea will be locked away and driven mad with Britain’s connivance- all in the name of Representative Democracy.
Putin is the New King of Syria
by Jonathan Spyer
The Wall Street Journal
October 16, 2019
giving Turkey a green light to invade northern Syria, the U.S. upended
the balance of power in the Middle East with a single stroke.
Vladimir Putin is now the indispensable strategic arbiter in Syria. None of the remaining pieces on the broken chessboard can move without Mr. Putin’s hand.
Mr. Assad, the Kurds, Turkey and Israel all now depend on Moscow’s approval to advance their interests in Syria. This process has been sealed by sudden windfall this week, all without the firing of a single Russian bullet. All roads to Syria now run through Moscow. Mr. Putin could hardly ask for more.
Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).
Jonathan Spyer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, and is a research fellow at the Middle East Forum and at the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy.
Hong Kong October 16th 2019
The Hong Kong protests have entered a fifth month, a longevity that might have been hard to predict at the outset. The protests were sparked in reaction to an extradition bill that protesters feared would mean turning over dissidents to mainland China, but have turned into a broad movement over fears that liberties under the “one country, two systems” promised when the United Kingdom turned over its colony to China would be trampled.
Inevitably, this brought the Chinese government at into conflict with Western companies that do business with China. Recently, the Chinese government has started flexing its muscles, going so far as to pressure Western companies to censor their own employees. Many companies, even big ones, are already caving, including Apple, the NBA, and the gaming company Blizzard Entertainment.
Syria regime change latest October 14th 2019
Syrian Kurds expect the government to deploy troops to stop Turkey’s incursion where they are suffering from a heavy Turkish offensive- in the wake of the U.S withdrawal. There have been heavy losses on both sides, including civilians.
Approximately 800 members of Islamic State terrorists and their families have escaped during the Turkish Kurdish conflict.
Editorial Comment It is interesting that the U.S withdrew because they said the situation was untenable. Britain has had special forces active in Syria for some years, Old Etonian and Ex PM and millionaire David Cameron- of Brexit disaster fame- was cheer leader for jumping on the ‘let’s topple the wicked Assad’ bandwagon.
There was a plethora of luvvie humanitarian feminists in Parlaiment who agreed with him. Those are the types now affecting concern about the latest round of killing in the region- telling us we must welcome another round of massive refugee influx to Europe because of it.
The PC luvvies in Britain’s Parliament are stooges for the big boys who are only interested in dividing and ruling the Middle East for oil. If we had democracy here we would not be persecuting an 80 year old soldier for war crimes in Northern Ireland whilst facilitating the brutal treatment and extradition of Julain Assange for his part in exposing blatant U.S war crimes. We would not have mainstream media and politicians lying that people voted for Brexit with a deal.
I am a remainer by the way, but believe the majority voted to leave with no mention of leaving meaning staying in the customs union with all the rules and regulations, but no represenatation, which is what seems likely to happen.
This country is a sick joke when it comes to their lies about spreading democracy. It has been a malign influence on Europe with its PC mania and elite greed. The elite’s part in the war games for oil in the Middle East makes a mockery of the Extinction Rebellion protests and little Greta’s wailings.
RJ Cook and Stewart W Boyd shared a link. October 13th 2019
State Department Distrust of Syrian Kurds Paved the Way for Betrayal October 13th 2019
by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
October 11, 2019
Originally published under the title “US Secretly Viewed Its Own Kurdish Partners in Syria as “Terrorists.”
|State Department distrust of Syrian Kurds long predates President Trump’s abandonment.|
The US State Department admitted on Friday that it had always viewed the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group that the US helped create, as including components of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the US views as a terrorist organization. This was in contrast to the Pentagon which viewed the SDF as key partners in the defeat of Islamic State. For years, two parts of the US government fought a quiet war against one another, as the US urged the SDF in Syria to fight ISIS, a war in which is suffered around 11,000 casualties.
The comments were made by a State Department official and tweeted by Wall Street Journal reporter Dion Nissenbaum. “For years the US government rejected idea that the YPG in Syria was an offshoot of the PKK, a group the US and Turkey classify as a terrorist group. Yesterday, a State Department official admitted the obvious,” noted Nissenbaum. At the same time Lara Seligman, Pentagon correspondent for Foreign Policy noted that “US military officers who served with the SDF described a group of passionate, fearless fighters who share American values.” She wrote that these US military officers were unanimously “devastated by the latest news, and more than one expressed a deep sense of shame.”
P-ssing in the Wind October 9th 2019
One Last Thing
Epstein’s Apparent Suicide: Everything We Know Posted October 6th 2019
Friday morning, thousands of documents detailing Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls were made public.
That night, he apparently hung himself in his cell. (Because, yeah, if you’re going to commit suicide, that’s the time to do it.)
Now, I’ve read all the conspiracies theories (including one that President Trump and former President Bill Clinton snuck into Epstein’s cell and strangled him with one of Hillary’s pants suits).
But here’s what we actually know right now:
Epstein tried to commit suicide about two weeks ago. He was put on suicide watch for three days, after which, the worst psychiatrist in the world declared he was no longer a suicide risk.
Epstein was taken off suicide watch but, per prison procedure, he was assigned a cellmate and guards were instructed to check on him every 30 minutes (because we all know it takes at least 35 minutes to kill yourself).
And yet, the night he apparently hung himself (or Prince Andrew tricked him into drinking cocaine powder or whatever), Epstein was alone.
His cellmate had been transferred earlier that week. And according to a report by the Associated Press, the prison’s guards were working extreme overtime shifts to make up for staffing shortages, causing them to neglect their duties (because they were all sleepy and such).
Epstein wasn’t found until the following morning at 6:30 am when the guards were making their morning rounds.
Now, no one’s going to shed any tears for this walking dumpster of person. But the victims of Epstein feel like they’ve been robbed of their justice. And there are legitimate concerns about efforts to halt the investigation into high profile world figures who may be (and already have been) implicated in this case.
However, according to Attorney General William Barr, this case won’t end with Epstein’s death and the prison where he apparently committed suicide will be placed under investigation:
“Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,” Barr said, speaking at a conference for police officers in New Orleans. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice, and they will get it.”
“I was appalled and frankly angry to learn of the [jail’s] failure to adequately secure this prisoner. We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation.”
“We will get to the bottom of what happened, and there will be accountability.
Barr seems determined to pursue this case without Epstein. But with Epstein’s death, we’ve undoubtedly lost our shot at taking down some of the highest-profile offenders.
Maybe some folks will have their reputations dragged through the dirt because of their association with a child sex trafficker. But there’s no way this gets tied up with a bow.
Until next time,
Editor One last Thing
Editorial Comment These are not necessarily the views of this website. However, different views must be considered.
Draining the Swamp- Myth of Democracy October 6th 2019
Trump’s administration in the U.S and Britian’s peculiar regime have revealed important truths about the democratic myth. Trump is being criticised rather nastily again, by so called Democrats for asking China to probe the Biden family of billionaires. Biden, as most will know, was Vice President to saintly fellow rich man Obama. Now Biden wants his turn in the White House.
As in Britain, the political prima donnas of both genders care more about themeselves than the serious problems which their greed, control and negligence have created. So last week it was all about dirty dealings in Ukraine.
Now Trump wants to know what the Bidens have been up to in China. Democrats are outraged that this is timed with Trade talks between the U.S and China. Allegations are being made that if Trump doesn’t get his way, then tarriffs on Chines goods will rise from 25-30%. This will affect jobs in both countries because of their symbiotic reltionship.
Violent Protests in Hong Kong to spoil 70th anniversary celebrations.
1 October 2019 • 12:53pm
Hong Kong police shot a pro-democracy protestor in the chest on Tuesday as violent clashes erupted across the city hours after China held a massive military parade in Beijing to celebrate 70 years of Communist Party rule, according to a news agency.
It was the first such injury from a live round in nearly four months of increasingly violent protests and threatened to strip the spotlight from China’s carefully-choreographed birthday party, designed to underscore its status as a global superpower.
While President Xi Jinping took salutes from some 15,000 troops in the capital, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong threw eggs at his portrait, with tens of thousands of people defying police orders to disperse.
“An officer discharged his firearm after coming under attack and a protester was struck in the chest in Tsuen Wan district today,” a police source said, requesting anonymity.
The wounded protester received initial first aid from officers before paramedics arrived and took him to hospital, the source added.
Many of the fights in the city were especially fierce with police in one district having corrosive liquid thrown at them and officers in another area retreating into a town hall from projectile-throwing crowds.
Burning barricades sent a pall of black smoke over the city, a regional hub for some of the world’s biggest banks.
The violence cast a shadow over the lavish parade in Beijing where tanks, new nuclear missiles and a supersonic drone paraded down the Avenue of Eternal Peace as Xi and other Communist Party leaders watched from a rostrum overlooking Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
The event was meant to showcase China’s journey from a poor nation broken by war to the world’s second largest economy.
British media condemns today’s violence during latest Hong Kong protests- posted September 29th 2019
Pro democracy protestors have been fired on with rubber bullets and water canon today. Their demands have gone on to claim universal suffrage. They want the two systems agreement to be re written. Petrol bombs and bricks have been thrown at police.
They are building up to October 1st and the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Revolution. Law and order appears to have broken down and their are fears that Beijing will increase its use of force as protestors seem determined not to give up. Some might say this is just another battle in World War Three as rival super power blocks vie for cultural, political and financial dominance.
There is speculation, and tentative evidence that the U.S and Britain have fermented the situation in the financial and commercial hub of Asia. Hong Kong looks set to lose its limited autonomy. Britain is, of course always sanctimonious about these issues but would not hesitate to use heavy handed police to crush serious protests.
Two million, mainly the young have taken to the streets as demands have escalated since the original demand to withdraw the extradition treaty was revoked.
British media are complaining that the police are becoming less tolerant of the media as these protests go into their 17th week. Meanwhile the British mainstream media ignores the ongoing yellow vest protests in Paris. Robert Cook
Epstein Sex Abuse Cover Up- Septmber 29th 2019
The FBI has expended their investigation into Jeffrey Epstein by using more witnesses who claim to have been victims of his sex trafficking, some of whom could help authorities figure out what Prince Andrew’s connection was to the disgraced financier who died by suicide in his New York prison cell in August.
© ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE – This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. A woman whose claims of sexual abuse against Epstein were outlined in a federal indictment sued his estate Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, saying the wealthy financier took advantage of her family’s poor financial position to abuse her from age 14 to 17. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)
Former sex slave, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, had accused the Duke of York of having sex with her when she was underage in many US states at just 17 years old and she claimed she was offered up while at Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home.
But the probe was dropped by the UK’s Metropolitan Police in 2015 and this week a former Florida cop who worked as a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy in Epstein’s pedophile case of 2009 alleged the FBI covered up Prince Andrew’s involvement.
Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation will question approximately 100 victims who were aged 14 or 15 when the alleged sex trafficking by Epstein took place.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Virginia Roberts Giuffre (center aged 17) claimed in a lawsuit dropped in 2015 that she was forced to have sex with the Duke of York (left) at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell (right)
Prince Andrew has reportedly claimed to only have seen Epstein, who killed himself aged 66, twice a year. They met in 1999 and the royal flew on the financier’s private jet twice – including once in 2001 with Giuffre.
It’s claimed 35-year-old Giuffre’s account isn’t the only one the FBI – who have already identified 80 victims – is looking into in regards to Prince Andrew, 59.
He also visited Epstein’s New York home in 2013 and it’s now claimed more witnesses could reveal details about his friendship with Epstein.
© 2019 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 08: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Princess Beatrice, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex during Trooping The Colour, the Queen’s annual birthday parade, on June 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
‘The US investigation is focusing on several potential victims in the hope that they can provide more details about Prince Andrew and his connection to the Epstein case,’ sources from the US Department of Justice told The Sunday Times. ‘They are not going to dismiss it [claims relating to Andrew] because he is a royal.’
The publication reports that Scotland Yard detectives have been briefed and are ready to assist the investigation.
Alleged victims will be interview over the course of the next two months, The Sunday Times reported.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Andrew met the disgraced man in 1999 and has flown on his private just twice including with Giuffre in 2001. He visited Epstein’s New York home in 2013. They are pictured in December 2010, after Epstein was released from a short stint in prison for the 2009 case where he was convicted as a pedophile
Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied the allegations against him, saying they were ‘false’ and ‘without foundation’.
Buckingham Palace has referred to previous denials in reference to his connections to Epstein who was awaiting trial after being accused of sex trafficking by dozens of females when he killed himself.
But the British royal has not recently spoken to clear his name.
Former head of royal protection at Scotland Yard, Dai Davies, who oversaw security for Prince Andrew in the late 1990s said that a probe was vital when it comes to the welfare of the general public in the UK.
Saying an investigation was in the ‘publicinterest’, Davies added to The Sunday Times: ‘I would have thought it’s in Prince Andrew’s interests to clear this matter up. Any residue of doubt or innuendo should be cleared up by a clear, unequivocal, structured investigation.’
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Giuffre, now 35, speaks during a press conference outside a Manhattan court in New York on August 27
John Mark Dougan, an ex-Marine and former Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy who now lives in Russia, had worked for the sheriff’s office in 2005, the year it began an investigation into Jeffrey Epstein and may still have inside information concerning Epstein and Prince Andrew.
‘I’m certain the FBI is involved in some kind of cover-up over Epstein,’ Dougan told the Times. ‘That could absolutely include Andrew’s role, or it could be that senior FBI people visited the house and don’t want to reveal that.’
Dougan fled the US in 2016 as he was probed in an unrelated hacking case and he has accused cops in regards to child molestation websites, corruption and Nazism.
He claims to have back-ups of files from the old case.
‘My copies of the files will never be released unless something untoward happens to me, because they are my guarantee of safety for me and my family in the US,’ Dougan said.
Meanwhile is has been reported Prince Andrew has hired a new Special Adviser to spearhead a PR ‘fightback’ following the Epstein scandal.
Jason Stein, who developed a reputation at Westminster as a ‘master of the dark arts’, will start as Communications Secretary to the Duke next month.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited John Mark Dougan, an ex-Marine and former Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy who now lives in Russia, had worked for the sheriff’s office in 2005, the year it began an investigation into Jeffrey Epstein and may still have inside information concerning Epstein and Andrew
Mr Stein, 28, lost his job earlier this month when Ms Amber Rudd quit as Work and Pensions Secretary in protest at the removal of the whip from 21 Tory MPs after they rebelled against the Government to stop a No Deal Brexit.
Earlier this month, Virginia Roberts Giuffre went on American TV to repeat claims that she was coerced by Epstein into having sex with the Duke on three occasions, the first in 2001 when she was 17.
The Prince vehemently denies the allegations, which were thrown out by a US judge in 2015 because they were ‘immaterial and impertinent’.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said of the accusations: ‘It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.’
In a 2017 newspaper interview, Andrew admitted he didn’t care about criticism, saying: ‘You don’t get it right all the time. . . it doesn’t bother me. It’s just part of life’s rich tapestry.’
Mr Stein and Buckingham Palace last night declined to comment on the appointment.
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Police State Population has to be controlled by the elite September 26th 2019
Little Greta Wins A Big Prize September 25th 2019
The 16-year-old was recognised “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts”.
She shares this year’s award with Davi Kopenawa, a Brazilian indigenous leader, who has fought to protect the Amazon rainforest, Guo Jianmei, a Chinese women’s rights lawyer and Aminatou Haidar, a Western Sahara human rights defender.
“With the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, we honour four practical visionaries whose leadership has empowered millions of people to defend their inalienable rights and to strive for a liveable future for all on planet Earth,” a foundation spokesperson said.
Editorial Comment This award is a smokescreen. It is a pity the award did not go to the more worthy Julian Assange. Greta has achived nothing but a distraction.
Climate change: Impacts ‘accelerating’ as leaders gather for UN talks Posted September 23rd 2019
By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent
- 22 September 2019
The signs and impacts of global warming are speeding up, the latest science on climate change, published ahead of key UN talks in New York, says.
The data, compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), says the five-year period from 2014 to 2019 is the warmest on record.
Sea-level rise has accelerated significantly over the same period, as CO2 emissions have hit new highs.
The WMO says carbon-cutting efforts have to be intensified immediately.
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The climate statement is a pull-together of the latest science on the causes and growing impacts of unprecedented levels of warming seen in recent years.
Recognising that global temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees C since 1850, the paper notes they have gone up by 0.2C between 2011 and 2015.
This is as a result of burgeoning emissions of carbon, with the amount of the gas going into the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019 growing by 20% compared with the previous five years.
Perhaps most worrying of all is the data on sea-level rise.
The average rate of rise since 1993 until now is 3.2mm per year. However, from May 2014 to 2019 the rise has increased to 5mm per year. The 10-year period from 2007-2016 saw an average of about 4mm per year.
“Sea-level rise has accelerated and we are concerned that an abrupt decline in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, which will exacerbate future rise,” said WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas.
“As we have seen this year with tragic effect in the Bahamas and Mozambique, sea-level rise and intense tropical storms led to humanitarian and economic catastrophes.”
The report also highlights the threats to the oceans, with more than 90% of the excess heat caused by climate change ending up in the waters. The WMO analysis says 2018 had the highest ocean heat content values on record.
The study underlines the fact that wherever you look on the planet right now, the story is the same: human-induced warming is impacting the scale and intensity of extreme weather events such as heatwaves and wildfires.
“Climate change due to us is accelerating and on a very dangerous course,” said Prof Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, and professor of meteorology, University of Reading.
“We should listen to the loud cry coming from the schoolchildren. There is an emergency – one for action in both rapidly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions towards zero and adapting to the inevitable changes in climate.”
‘No fancy speeches’
The WMO report is meant to inform the special UN summit on climate change taking place in New York on Monday.
A range of political leaders will attend the one-day event, which is designed to be about action and not words, according to UN secretary general António Guterres.
“I told leaders not to come with fancy speeches, but with concrete commitments,” he said ahead of the meeting.
“People want solutions, commitments and action. I expect there will be an announcement and unveiling of a number of meaningful plans on dramatically reducing emissions during the next decade, and on reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.”
Greta Thunberg and other youth activists, fresh from marching on the streets of New York on Friday, will speak at the opening of the meeting.
About 60 heads of state are expected to follow, with countries expected to announce new actions to limit the causes of warming or to speak on initiatives developed by a coalition of nations.
While China, India, France, Germany and the UK will speak at the meeting, there is no place on the podium for Japan or Australia.
Mr Guterres has asked that as well as committing to net-zero emissions by 2050, countries should reduce subsidies for fossil fuels and stop building new coal-fired power stations. The question of coal has led to the barring of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australia’s Scott Morrison.
The US, Brazil and Saudi Arabia will also not be taking part.
The success of the special summit remains in the balance – what isn’t in question is the urgency of action and the fact that delay means more difficult decisions down the line.
“It is highly important that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, notably from energy production, industry and transport. This is critical if we are to mitigate climate change and meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement,” said Petteri Taalas from the WMO.
“To stop a global temperature increase of more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, the level of ambition needs to be tripled. And to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees, it needs to be multiplied by five,” he said.
Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc.
Julian Assange Serves His Time But Will Not Be Released- September 21st 2019.
Julian Assange received the longest and toughest sentence for breach of bail in the U.K. He is being detained and subjected to what the authorities call controlled movements. This means he is not allowed to see or be seen by other inmates. He has been in solitary confinement with very little contact with visitors or information from the outside world since his arrest. I am waiting for him to commit suicide like Jeffrey Epstein in another Houdhini style trick .
Assange lifted and shone a light under a very large U.S rock that has, and still is, covering up hideous war crimes. These crimes would not be so bad if Britain and the U.S were not so eager to condemn others. How can this be when a very old soldier is being prosecuted for his alleged part in the Bloody Sunday Northern Ireland shootings?
I very much doubt that Assange committed rape, but these days a woman’s allegations regarding the lightest of inappropriate touching is taken as truth of rape. British police and politicians admit that we are no longer limited to evdience based prosecutions, hence the argreement to name and shame suspects as if automatically guilty, shield the identity of alleged victims all in the name of getting more accusers to sway juries. High time for a Statute of Limitations on sex allegations.
In any event it does not matter to the espionage case of whether Assange is guilty of rape- I doubt he could get a fair trial on this or anything else. No matter what else he has done or been accused of doing, Assange is not a U.S citizen and Britain has no right to extradite him.
Meanwhile the British plebs are easily distracted by tales of the modern day Mother Theresa, St Greta and the issue of women’s problems and their rights.
Assange, as a whistele blower and publisher has no rights in Britain and the U.S’s excuses for democarcies. Here he has also exposed the corruption and anti democratic role of Britain’s wealthy powerful selfinterested globalist elite in the Brave New World order.
It is the most oppressive order yet and the women’s movement has no interest in criticising what it is a part of it, because it feels protected by the new status quo which has used allegations of sex crime to incarcer(h)ate the most significant whistle blower of the industrial age.
Britain & U.S Destabilised the World Posted September 19th 2019
During my undergraduate days at the University of East Anglia, most of my contemporaries were from upper middle class backgrounds. In those days only three percent of the British population went to university. The good thing about that statistic was degrees were scarce enough to guarantee good quality teaching and job opportunities. Universities were not conveyor belts, meaning time for other reading and activities. I also had the benefit of a full grant and the opportunity to find work during my vacations.
On the downside, a poor- perhaps over sensitive- boy like me felt rather an outsider. My fellow students, many enjoying smoking pot and tripping on LSD, seemed to be on a different wavelength. These were unisex days of peace and love. I grew my hair long. Foolish me prayed for the end of the Vietnam War and for my poor worn out widowed working class mother to live long and have a better life.
Those were the days of PMs Wilson and Heath, and Thatcher ‘the milk snatcher’ Minister of Education. Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ were at a height follwing ‘Bloody Sunday.’ My opinionated fellow students protested and determined to have a better world.
On graduation day, the rebels brought along their posh comfortable parents, dressing up for memoir photos in cap and gown. Then off they went for careers in the Civil Service, Education, Local Government, Politics and Media. They became senior figures of great influnece creating the world of rolling conflict, disillusion, injustice, one parent families, feminism, individualism, loneliness and mental illness we have today. Robert Cook
Nicolas J. S. Davies
Posted on June 18, 2019Categories Uncategorized5 Comments While the mystery of who is responsible for sabotaging the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman remains unsolved, it is clear that the Trump administration has been sabotaging Iranian oil shipments since May 2, when it announced its intention to “bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.” … Continue reading “US Sanctions: Economic Sabotage That Is Deadly, Illegal, and Ineffective”
Posted on April 15, 2019Categories Uncategorized5 Comments The U.S. Congress has begun debate on the FY2020 military budget. The FY2019 budget for the US Department of Defense is $695 billion dollars. President Trump’s budget request for FY 2020 would increase it to $718 billion. Spending by other federal Departments adds over $200 billion to the total “national security” budget ($93 billion to … Continue reading “A $350 Billion Defense Department Would Keep Us Safer Than a $700 Billion War Machine”
Posted on March 28, 2019Categories Uncategorized1 Comment Forty-five years after Congress passed the War Powers Act in the wake of the Vietnam War, it has finally used it for the first time, to try to end the U.S.-Saudi war on the people of Yemen and to recover its constitutional authority over questions of war and peace. This hasn’t stopped the war yet, … Continue reading “War, Peace and Presidential Candidates”
Posted on February 06, 2019Categories Uncategorized13 Comments In his masterpiece, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II, William Blum, who died in December 2018, wrote chapter-length accounts of 55 US regime change operations against countries around the world, from China (1945-1960s) to Haiti (1986-1994). Noam Chomsky’s blurb on the back of the latest edition says simply, “Far and … Continue reading “Venezuela: The US’s 68th Regime Change Disaster”
Posted on February 04, 2019Categories Uncategorized4 Comments When the Trump administration unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018 and announced it would reimpose sanctions against Iran, the European Union (EU) declared its commitment to preserving the agreement and finding ways for its companies to circumvent U.S. sanctions. Now, eight months later, the Europeans finally announced the creation of … Continue reading “Will Iran Sanctions Herald the Fall of the Imperial Dollar?”
Posted on January 03, 2019Categories Uncategorized13 Comments My father was a doctor in the British Royal Navy, and I grew up traveling by troop-ship between the last outposts of the British Empire – Trincomalee, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Malta, Aden, Singapore – and living in and around naval dockyards in England and Scotland. The British naval bases where I grew up and the … Continue reading “The Hidden Structure of US Empire”
Posted on December 26, 2018Categories Uncategorized6 Comments As our nation debates the merits of President Donald Trump’s call for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, absent from the debate is the more pernicious aspect of US military involvement overseas: its air wars. Trump’s announcement and General James Mattis’ resignation should unleash a national discussion about US involvement in overseas conflicts, but … Continue reading “Bring the Troops Home, But Also Stop the Bombing”
Posted on September 27, 2018Categories Uncategorized2 Comments The Saudi bombing of a school bus in Yemen on August 9, 2018 killed 44 children and wounded many more. The attack struck a nerve in the U.S., confronting the American public with the wanton brutality of the Saudi-led war on Yemen. When CNN revealed that the bomb used in the airstrike was made by … Continue reading “In Yemen and Beyond, US Arms Manufacturers Are Abetting Crimes Against Humanity”
Posted on September 12, 2018Categories Uncategorized6 Comments As if the horrific Saudi bombing of a Yemeni school bus that killed 44 children on August 9, 2018 wasn’t bad enough, CNN reported that the bomb used in the attack was manufactured by Lockheed Martin, one of the major U.S. defense contractors. Nima Elbagir, reporting for CNN’s Situation Room, showed a map of Yemen … Continue reading “Bombing Yemeni School Children for Profit”
Posted on June 22, 2018Categories Uncategorized4 Comments In my recent report on the death toll in America’s post-9/11 wars, I estimated that about 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion and hostile military occupation of their country. But opinion polls in the United States and the United Kingdom have found that a majority of the public … Continue reading
Editorial Comment Below are a series of articles on Ukraine. Britain’s elite have played big shot in Europe for years, exerting an insidious influence seriously above their weight. The misbelief that they single handedly won World War Two- which they helped to cause and prolong through incompetence of leadership- encourages their outdated attitude.
Conceited about their long lost empire, which was built on the cheap and con tricks of bribes and divide and rule, its leaders have a sense of cultral superiority, still believing that they rule the world.
Their upper crust BBC, especially the dedicated World Service, is second to none in the World of patronising propoganda. They also excel on the home front when it comes to telling the indigenous population what to think.
UK To Expand Support To Ukraine’s Armed Forces Posted September 18th 2019
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has said that the United Kingdom stands firmly alongside Ukraine as the British Army prepares to broaden its already extended training package to all of the country’s armed forces.
Speaking in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, on his second trip to the country in 18 months, Sir Michael said that the UK is beginning to deliver training to Ukraine’s Air Force as well as its Army and Navy.
Meeting with Defence Minister of Ukraine, General of the Army Stepan Poltorak, the Defence Secretary confirmed that the UK’s short-term training teams (STTTs) will have trained 5,000 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces by the end of March – 1,000 more than initially planned – and will now continue in their training role for another year.
The Defence Secretary also agreed to explore how Britain’s training efforts in Ukraine could be maximised to produce long-term benefits on the ground, delivering a more comprehensive approach including by Train the Trainer (T3). Moving to this method of training would entrench the impact of Britain’s support within Ukraine’s armed forces for years to come.
Furthermore, Britain will continue its commitment to support defence reform in Ukraine via the UK defence section. As part of his visit the Defence Secretary will meet the UK Special Defence Advisor in Kyiv and Ukraine’s Defence Reform Office who are working hand-in-hand to continue reforms and support further anti-corruption efforts.
Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon said:
The values of freedom and democracy cannot be traded.
Britain is stepping up on the global stage and standing firm with our Ukrainian friends.
The UK is sending a clear message that we are committed to defending democracy across the world and support Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
During his visit, Sir Michael met with Ukrainian veterans to hear first-hand how the UK’s training provides vital support for the UAF. In December he confirmed that the training programme, named Op Orbital, would be extended meaning UK forces will be in the country until at least 2018. As the UK extends its training, a new regiment – 4 SCOTS – will take over dedicated delivery of the infantry short-term training.
Later in his visit, which marks the 25-year anniversary of UK-Ukrainian diplomatic relations, the Defence Secretary also visited the ATO Memorial inside the National Defence University to pay tribute to the 127 soldiers killed in the East of the country in 2014-2015.
The Defence Secretary also spoke about how the UK is a partner in prosperity with Ukraine. He met with staff of the Antonov National Company, the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturers company. British equipment from operations in Afghanistan and now in Iraq has been transported using Antonov aircraft and Dowty Propellers, based in the UK, has started component deliveries for propeller systems that will equip a demonstrator for the company’s new AN-132 twin-engine transport aircraft.
Britain’s Europe minister went to Ukraine to extol the virtues of democracy and the EU. It didn’t go very well Kim Sengupta Posted September 19th 2019
© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited
Both countries happen to have the letters U and K in their name. One is in a state of political turmoil, with a population bitterly divided and facing a future of uncertainty, the other is Ukraine.
The first visit by the UK’s latest Europe minister, Christopher Pincher, in his new post was to the eastern European country. He came with advice of the need for political stability, the imperative for politicians to abide by the rule of law and the importance of European alliances in ensuring security and prosperity.
It is a kind of Holy Grail for many in Ukraine – still in a state of civil war, but with a president with a governing majority following recent elections – to join the European Union. The British government is fully backing this bid, ministers from London have assured repeatedly, while in the next breath declaring that Britain must break free from its servitude to Brussels.
Appearing at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference in Kiev over the weekend Mr Pincher firmly stuck to this line. There was a slight tweaking of language with Britain’s backing extended to any transatlantic ties Ukraine may seek, but, he stressed, the government was staying firmly behind Kiev’s European Union aspirations.
The script was the same as that of former ministers in international settings, some since sacked by Boris: “Britain is leaving the EU, not Europe”; “the UK is determined to play a leading role in European defence”; “Britain will continue to play a full part in European affairs.”
It would not be unfair to say that not many people at the conference, let alone in Ukraine itself, had heard of Mr Pincher. They listened to him say that Britain would defend Ukraine against Russian aggression in polite silence and with a smattering of applause. He did not take any questions from the floor.
It was noticed in the audience that he called their country “the Ukraine”. It may seem a minor point, but it matters here. It has been officially Ukraine since gaining independence in 1991 and many Ukrainians regard the use of the prefacing article as a casual ignoring of their wish to change the name from that of the Soviet times.
Mr Pincher said he was glad to be in Kiev, dwelling on this year’s YES theme, “Happiness Now”, and using it to focus on how nations can be happy at such troubled times.
The Yalta conferences were originally held in Yalta before the Russians took over. I was in Crimea during the annexation and saw the venue, Livadia Palace, where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill signed the Yalta Declaration turned into a monument to the triumph of Russian diplomacy. Talks with Moscow are due to be held by the new government of Volodymyr Zelensky soon. A highly symbolic prisoner exchange has already taken place and there are tentative hopes of a possible settlement to the strife.
Mr Zelensky is a former professional comedian as opposed, went a joke at the conference, to some current amateur comedian leaders of states. Yet the new Kiev administration is keen to impress its very serious intention to seek membership to the European Union and Nato.
“With all the things going on in London, just getting out of London makes me happy… As it will also make some of my parliamentary colleagues,” said Mr Pincher. He then decided to speak for the nation: “What will make British people happy will be when Brexit is finished,” he announced to general silence.
The minister then went on to explain what will make Ukraine a happy nation. One vital ingredient was “the rule of law, which is the bedrock of all democracies”. There should be, he wanted to stress, the “rights of recourse to law, the right to go to court.”
The minister praised the Ukraine’s government for the sheer volume of action in parliament since coming to power. “One hundred and eighty-eight pieces of legislation – we can’t match that in Westminster, would that we could…” he said wistfully . Sitting next to me a new MP in the Rada shook her head. “Wasn’t it his government that shut down parliament?” she mused.
The Europe minister was asked whether he recognised the irony of the UK backing Ukraine’s bid for European Union membership at the same time his own government was “desperately” trying to get out the union.
“We are leaving the EU, not leaving Europe. The people voted to leave the EU and democrats execute the will of the people. I am confident we can get a deal; we are working flat out to get a deal, we are doing that,” he explained.
The journalist moderating, Fareed Zakaria, pointed out that both the European Union and the Irish government have said that London has not provided a viable alternative to the Irish backstop. Leo Varadkar had been quite encouraging at his last press conference, the minister insisted. Many in the room begged to differ.
Mr Zakaria pointed out that parliament had voted against a no-deal Brexit, but Boris Johnson and his supporters had threatened to ignore the vote. “This is happening in the mother of parliaments, what lesson does this send to a fledgling democracy like Ukraine?” Mr Pincher assured the audience that the prime minister was working very hard to secure a deal.
Mr Pincher was asked about the peculiarity of urging Ukrainian politicians to uphold the rule of law while some in the British government have been saying Boris was prepared to break it. The “chief lawbreaker is your prime minister”, held Mr Zakaria. Mr Pincher assured that there was no contradiction involved here. http://players.brightcove.net/624246174001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5837728067001Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events
“I didn’t realise the prime minister can pick and choose which laws to follow and which he laws he’ll break”, sniffed Mr Zakaria.
Mr Pincher’s response was essentially “there’s nothing to see here, let’s move on now…”; all the while reiterating British support for Ukraine and the prospect of trade deals between the two countries in the future and support against Russian interference in Ukrainian politics.
The minister was asked about allegations of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and British politics. “There is no evidence that it had a significant effect on British elections,” he insisted, but acknowledged the need for vigilance on matters like cyber warfare and misinformation.
“I’m glad you didn’t question me about Brexit!” Mr Pincher said with a hint of sarcasm to Mr Zakaria at the end. “You knew they were coming” the moderator responded. The Europe minister, according to diplomatic sources, was surprised to be questioned so intensely about the subject.
Brexit was not going to go away. Next up was Tony Blair, while Mr Pincher sat in the audience. The former prime minister commented that Brexit “is all going according to plan, but whose plan it is isn’t clear. There is now a blockage in parliament – I think there will be an extension. This extension has to come from Europe, but everyone wants a resolution.”
Mr Blair reiterated his recently expressed view that there should be a second vote on Brexit before another election to clarify where people stood three years on from the referendum.
“There shouldn’t be a Brexit question in the election: that should be about issues like the economy, education, how the country is governed… But one can ask [in a referendum] ‘do you want to continue with it?’” he said.
“This is something which will affect generations to come. This was a generational thing: two-thirds of over 65s voted for Brexit, two thirds of under 35s voted to stay. Having another referendum is perfectly democratic.”
Mr Blair spoke about the worrying rise of populism and the stated aim of some hardline Brexiters to turn the people against parliament. The backbench MPs who are critical of the government, he pointed out, were doing their job. “They are studying the details of what’s being proposed. But if you listen to some, like right wing newspapers, these Conservative MPs who are doing this are somehow ‘traitors’.
“These people are giving up their jobs, I can think of no higher principle than giving up your livelihood to correct something wrong being done to your country.”
As the session ended my Ukrainian MP friend mused: “It was Boris Johnson who kicked out the Conservative MPs, isn’t it? This British minister Pincher should have been asked about that.”
Then she paused and reflected: “It’s funny, we are sitting in Ukraine hearing about your civil war in the UK. But maybe that is enough for one morning – we would be here all day if we had to discuss the war in the Conservative Party as well.”
Ukraine’s East-West Divide: It’s Not That Simple Posted September 18th 2019
February 27, 2014 13:23 GMT
- By Glenn Kates
The threat seemingly appears during every Ukraine crisis.
In 2004, governors in eastern Ukraine warned that Russia-friendly regions in the east would split if Viktor Yushchenko became president.
The disputed election of Viktor Yanukovych, a Russia-backed candidate, was overturned and Yushchenko won in a revote. The country remained politically divided, but discussion of eastern secession quickly withered.
Ten years later, Yanukovych, elected in 2010 after disappointment in the Orange Revolution, has been ousted, and the east-west divide has again come to the fore.
Iterations of maps like this one, shown on Al-Jazeera on the day Yanukovych fled Kyiv, have told the story thusly.
The eastern part of the country, stretching from Kharkiv Oblast, to the
border regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and to the Crimean Peninsula, is
seen as predominantly Russian.
Indeed, major cities in the east are largely Russian-speaking industrial hubs and the autonomous Crimean Republic is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking.
A Closer Look
But a closer look within oblasts like Kharkiv shows that maps like the one above may oversimplify the divide.
Kharkiv Oblast includes Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Its governor, Mykhaylo Dobkin, recently led a conference of pro-Russian governors that rejected the authority of Ukraine’s new government and the region voted strongly for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions in the 2010 presidential election.
The city, an industrial center with Soviet-era high-rises and mammoth monuments 50 kilometers from the Russian border, is widely seen — perhaps next to Donetsk — as the epitome of Russian Ukraine.
But this is how the region actually looks.
According to 2001 census data, 54 percent of Kharkiv Oblast’s nearly 3
million residents identified their native language as Ukrainian,
compared to 44 percent — mostly concentrated in the city — who said
Outside the city center, which is one of only two Kharkiv regions that identifies itself as Russophone, the contrast is even starker.
In Donetsk Oblast, further to the east, almost three-quarters of the population identified itself as Russian-speaking, but again, in a majority of regions outside the main city, people were more likely to identify themselves as Ukrainian-speakers.
Any effort to break eastern Ukraine from Ukraine proper would meet resistance not only from the western half of the country, but from wide swaths of Ukrainians living within those regions (This is a good time to note that past polls have indicated that a majority of Russian-speakers living in the country have also expressed loyalty to Ukraine and not Russia. Also, some people who identify themselves as Ukrainian-speaking may speak Russian in their day-to-day lives).
“There are significant numbers of ethnic Ukrainians who continue to speak Ukrainian in the east and in the south,” says Ukraine scholar Alexander Motyl in a recent interview with RFE/RL. “There are significant numbers of passionate Ukrainians, let’s call them patriots, who speak Russian and who prefer Russian culture, and who nevertheless are committed to Ukrainian statehood and Ukrainian nationhood.”
In Kharkiv, where the anti-Maidan conference was held on February 22, pro-Maidan supporters have taken over the city-administration building, facing off with protesters who say their loyalty is with Russia.
In Crimea, the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and long a hotbed of separatism, thousands of Crimean Tatars — who made up 11 percent of Crimea’s population according to the 2001 census — have massed in opposition to separation from Ukraine.
Ukraine’s diversity runs deep in both its east and west — ethnolinguistic maps notwithstanding.
Graphics by Christina Hicks
- Glenn Kates Glenn Kates is managing editor for digital at Current Time TV, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA. FOLLOW Subscribe via RSS
EU and Ukraine — close but not that close Posted September 18th 2019
Brussels and Kiev celebrate fresh ties but Dutch disagreement casts shadow over talks.
By David Stern
KIEV — Ukrainian and European Union leaders ended a two-day summit Thursday that celebrated their growing closeness while also highlighting points of tension between the two sides.
European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Kiev on Wednesday evening for talks with President Petro Poroshenko and other top officials.
It should have been a victory lap after one of the most successful periods in relations with Brussels in Ukraine’s history. Last month, the EU granted Ukrainians the right to travel to Europe’s Schengen zone without visas — one of their most prized foreign policy goals. This week, the EU ratified a far-reaching Association Agreement with Kiev, which had been more than a decade in the making.
But a disagreement over wording, which left organizers without a final summit communiqué, cast a shadow over the gathering.
At issue was a line declaring that “the European Union acknowledges Ukraine’s European aspirations and welcomes its European choice” — which had been included in a statement after the EU’s 2015 Eastern Partnership summit, as well as written into the ratified political and trade agreement.
But a disagreement over wording, which left organizers without a final summit communiqué, cast a shadow over the gathering.
According to European diplomats, Dutch officials insisted additional language be inserted into the final statement, to reflect a 2016 European Council decision that the Association Agreement did not guarantee Ukraine a path to become an EU member. The Dutch parliament had earlier ratified the deal on the condition that this did not lead to “automatic” membership for Ukraine.
EU officials said Ukraine and its EU allies insisted the line must be included without alteration. So in the end, the seven-page document, which had been laboriously negotiated over weeks, was not issued.
- Also On PoliticoDutch block aspirational communique at EU-Ukraine summitDavid Stern
- Also On PoliticoUkraine reaffirms push West in visits by NATO, EU leadersDavid M. Herszenhorn
Some observers were at a loss as to why a compromise could not be reached — perhaps by leaving out the line altogether.
“Practically, this is not a big deal,” said one European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But symbolically it’s damaging. It shows a lack of unity.”
At the moment this is more a question of language than policy. The Netherlands, officials say, is supportive of Ukraine in private discussions; however, Dutch officials take a harder line in public, fearful of providing political ammunition to the country’s far right.
Rocky road to agreement
Within the EU there’s a certain amount of unity, at least for the moment, over the policy toward Ukraine — reflected by the extension last month of sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea and destabilization campaign within Ukraine.
The Association Agreement is viewed as the capstone of this consensus, though the path to ratification was strewn with rocks.
Moscow opposed the deal from the outset, pressuring Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president at the time, to reject it in 2013. This unleashed pro-Western protests and clashes in the capital, which ultimately drove Yanukovych from power.
The agreement was signed, but fighting broke out in Ukraine’s east, which grew into a conflict that’s killed more than 10,000 people and decimated the country’s economy. Meanwhile, Dutch voters rejected the Association Agreement in a referendum, concerned over what commitments it made to the Ukrainians.
After Dutch concerns were assuaged by fellow EU leaders, there was a sense of mission accomplished among European and Ukrainian officials in Kiev on Thursday. Tusk even handed Poroshenko a document formally confirming ratification.
Moscow opposed the deal from the outset, pressuring Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president at the time, to reject it in 2013.
“[This] was a kind of milestone summit, to summarize all the work that has been done,” said European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. “Now we are discussing how to fully use the potential of the Association Agreement and deepen cooperation in a number of sectors.”
But though membership is not on the table at the moment, Ukrainian officials are keen to establish other incentives they can work toward — and hold out to the public as possibilities for the future. In remarks after the summit, Poroshenko expressed hopes for Ukraine to become a member of the EU customs union and Schengen open-border zone.
EU officials were noncommittal.
Furthermore, it remains to be seen how fully Ukraine implements the Association Agreement’s commitments, which come into full effect in September and involve wide-ranging political, legal, economic and quality-control reforms.
Ultimately, Ukraine’s endemic corruption was the biggest point of concern. EU leaders warned their Ukrainian counterparts that this had to be their primary focus, otherwise all the hard work of the past years could be undone.
“What we’re asking — we won’t be lecturing the country because this isn’t a country that needs to be lectured — is to increase the fight against corruption,” Juncker said. “Corruption is undermining all the efforts this great nation is undertaking.”
Why Does Ukraine Matter to the EU?
- April 16, 2013
Source: GettySummary: A real discussion of the EU’s interests in Ukraine that moves beyond generalities may help member states avoid further frustrations and help the EU get more out of its relations with Kyiv. Related Media and Tools
Some adults turn their noses up at the question of “why,” believing it to be childish. And when it comes to the EU’s foreign policy, especially in its Eastern neighborhood, the question is considered simply inappropriate. That the EU will engage with its Eastern neighbors is just a given today. Take Ukraine. The EU has made a significant political investment in Kyiv over the years but has not given much thought to why Ukraine matters.
Yet, the EU should take a strategic pause and ask this question. Brussels’s policy and the instruments it has used have had little impact on Ukraine. The country is moving further away from the EU and into a gray zone of no reform. Many in the union are frustrated with Kyiv and wonder why they should be more pro-Ukrainian than the Ukrainians themselves. Or why they have to save Ukrainians from bad leadership or from Russia.
Shumylo-Tapiola is a nonresident associate at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, where her research focuses on Eastern Europe and Eurasia. @OShumyloTapiola
Still, the EU as a whole is not asking the fundamental question and is sticking to its current policy despite all the worrying signs.
By ignoring reality, the EU is setting itself up for a big disappointment and running the risk of limiting its policy options to disengagement. A real discussion of the EU’s interests in Ukraine that moves beyond generalities may help member states avoid further frustrations and help the EU get more out of its relations with Kyiv.
The EU Foreign Policy Radar Screen
Ukraine was largely invisible to the EU in the first decade of its independence. Relations were based on the vague EU-Ukraine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 1998 (similar accords were offered to all post-Soviet states). None of the then fifteen EU members at the time saw Ukraine as a priority. It was too far away from the EU, too difficult to understand, and too close to Russia.
Ukraine appeared on the EU’s political radar screen with the 2004 enlargement. Especially after Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution brought a pro-Western, democratic-leaning government to power, the EU was forced to think about a special policy for Ukraine. The country seemed like it was the next Poland, which joined the EU in 2004 after significant reforms. Responding to Kyiv’s European agenda and helping it reform became natural for many in the EU. Ukraine was offered “all but institutions”—the chance to access the EU’s internal market after significant reform—within the newly launched European Neighborhood Policy and further Eastern Partnership initiative (EaP).
The EU could take that approach as long as Kyiv appeared intent on reform. But there was a serious democratic regress in Ukraine caused by the leadership’s massive power- and asset-grabbing. This change of course during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych revealed a Ukraine that was not ready to seriously reform. This was not a Poland that would do everything possible to get back home to Europe.
The EU initialed the Association Agreement with Ukraine, but full signing of the accord was put on hold until things started changing for the better. If Ukraine does not fulfill the EU’s conditions over a certain period of time—which include addressing the issues of selective justice, reforming its electoral legislation, and conducting a number of reforms within the Association Agenda—the agreement may be shelved and Ukraine may start slowly disappearing from the EU’s strategic map.
The EU’s Interests in Ukraine—Driven by Member States
EU foreign policy is too young, and Brussels’s role as a leader in strategic thinking is still weak. Many policy decisions are very much driven by individual member states and their often divergent national interests.
The member states did not engage in much debate about Ukraine’s importance. According to the 2003 European security strategy, which aimed to build a ring of well-governed states around the union, Ukraine had some sort of role to play. This was a lowest-common-denominator strategy, in which Ukraine was put in a basket with other EU neighbors and expected to become a well-governed democracy and market economy on the EU’s border. And that made it a safe bet for securing an EU-wide consensus.
However, that was where the similarity of positions ended. Deciding why to actually interact with Ukraine was left to each member state and depended on the state’s location in Europe, historical experience, and national interests.
The EU member states initially formed two groups vis-à-vis Ukraine—the idealistic activists and pragmatic conservatives.
The Central and Eastern European states that joined the EU with the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, especially Poland, interpreted the lowest common denominator as an open-door policy. Ukraine was important for creating the Europe these idealistic activists wanted.
They had a common history with Ukraine, and their populations included large communities of Ukrainian migrants. They felt obliged—as Germany once felt with Poland—to do good and to lend a hand to help Ukraine weather painful reforms. This view was strongly supported by their societies. Pragmatic calculations were secondary, though geographical and linguistic proximity meant that Ukraine’s market did present many opportunities to these states. They advocated for the EU to give Ukraine a membership perspective and for the Association Agreement to be signed quickly as a step toward membership.
These idealistic activists were later supported by a few old member states, like Sweden and Finland, and many in the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the newly formed European External Action Service.
Yet, the group split over the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, when Ukraine turned away from democratic reform.
One faction, led by Poland and Lithuania, continued pushing for the agreement to be signed unconditionally. Their stance was driven by a fear of Russia, and, in particular, the fear that if Ukraine were not in the process of integrating with the EU, it could be more easily drawn into the Russia-led Eurasian Customs Union. Keeping Ukraine in the EU’s orbit through the Association Agreement was seen as a way of keeping Russia away from the EU’s (read: Poland’s) borders. This faction felt obliged to press the rest of the EU to not give up on Ukraine despite negative developments on the ground.
The other faction (essentially, all of the idealistic activists but Poland and Lithuania) still wanted to help Ukraine but needed to see signs of genuine interest in reform and shared values from Kyiv. They supported signing the Association Agreement with Kyiv only after the Ukraine had met all the preconditions.
Growing disappointment with Yanukovych after endless failed attempts to reach out to him turned even the last do-gooders away from idealism. Talking about Ukraine became emotionally difficult, and these states did not see much sense in pushing the rest of the EU toward signing the agreement at any cost. They had other, more important issues to talk about with the heavyweights like Germany and France. Wasting political capital on Ukraine, even given the Russia factor, no longer seemed worth it.
A conservative group consisting mainly of older member states sat opposite the idealists. They were the closest it got to the lowest-common-denominator position. This group felt no historical connection to Ukraine and no obligation to help it reform. Some of these member states were simply geographically too far away from Ukraine. And for many of them, Kyiv was still legitimately in Moscow’s orbit.
This group saw the 2004 and 2007 enlargements as necessary but also as defining the EU’s external borders. Any further Eastern enlargement was seen as a weakening of the union and a dilution of European integration. These countries’ interest in Ukraine was rather selfishly straightforward—they wanted a stable, well-governed, democratic country that was friendly to the EU. These states also had an interest in Ukraine’s market, but it mattered just as much as any other big market outside the EU.
They did not object to engagement with Ukraine, but they thought the country should be kept at arm’s length and that engagement should take place on the EU’s terms. That meant Ukraine had to first do all the necessary hard work, and only then could it enjoy any possible benefits from proximity to the EU. Their line has always been clear: Ukraine had to reform to prove it deserved to get closer to the EU.
They opposed offering the carrot of membership to Ukraine, even in the immediate aftermath of the Orange Revolution when public opinion of Ukraine in those countries was relatively positive. The furthest they agreed to go was to launch talks on the Association Agreement.
For this group, Yanukovych’s presidency underlined the need for the EU to think about its values. These states insisted that Kyiv had to fulfill the EU’s conditions before the Association Agreement could be signed. Their tactical interest shifted. They put rapprochement with Ukraine—a country whose leadership acted against European values—on hold.
Idealists and Pragmatists Unite
The positions of all member states are now coalescing around the vision of waiting for the situation on the ground to improve while keeping the option of signing the agreement open. They primarily seek not to promote European values in Ukraine but to ensure that the EU does not compromise its own values because of the geopolitical fears of certain EU member states. Some idealists are still trying to influence the situation on the ground, but even their hopes are bound to eventually fade.
What Ukraine Means for the EU Today
Alas, the EU debate on Ukraine is rarely about Ukraine itself or the EU’s interests there. Instead, it is primarily about EU enlargement or Russia. On both issues, the positions of EU member states are irreconcilable. These issues are wrapped up with so much emotion and fear that the member states cannot talk about their foreign policy interests with respect to Ukraine in an objective way. But Ukraine is significant for the entire EU (EU27) in terms of political stability, security, and energy-related matters.
Politics and Security
Today’s Ukraine poses a security threat to the EU. It is not building a nuclear bomb, it is not capable of starting a war with its neighbors, and it cannot launch a new Cold War with the West. But Ukraine’s poor governance, which has been further degraded by Yanukovych’s presidency, may potentially lead to instability and public (possibly violent) discontent that could negatively affect the EU. At the least, it may significantly increase the flow of migrants from Ukraine, which is already ranked fifth among non-EU suppliers of migrants to the EU27.
Ukraine’s democratic decline also has a negative impact on Eastern Europe and sends negative signals to the other EaP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, and Moldova). For years, Kyiv was a role model for the EU’s EaP, and it remains a key partner in the initiative. The Association Agreements with Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia were modeled on the EU’s accord with Ukraine. A declining Ukraine casts a long shadow over the Eastern Partnership and undermines its value for the entire region.
Kyiv is an important actor in the “5+2” talks on the conflict between neighboring Moldova and the country’s breakaway region of Transnistria as well. For a long time, Ukraine aligned with the EU and proved to be an important partner for Brussels on this issue. However, Ukraine under Yanukovych is more vulnerable to external (that is, Russian) pressure and may eventually change its approach to Transnistria.
Economics and Trade
Of the EU’s Eastern neighbors, Ukraine is the country with the second-largest joint border with the EU at over 1,300 kilometers (or 800 miles). In 2011, Ukraine was the union’s 24th most important source of imports (accounting for 0.9 percent of imports from non-EU countries) and ranked nineteen on the list of countries receiving the most EU exports (accounting for 1.4 percent of EU exports). This compares with Russia, which is the EU’s second-largest import partner and fourth-largest export partner, and Turkey, which is seventh and fifth, respectively.
The potential for greater economic and trade links between the EU and Ukraine is significant. Ukraine offers a market of 45 million consumers, and 70 percent of its arable land is made up of some of the most fertile soil in Europe. But for this potential to be realized, and for EU businesses to be willing to invest in or trade with Ukraine, the country has to dramatically improve its poor business climate. It currently ranks 137 out of 185 countries in terms of the ease of doing business according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report and 73 out of 144 countries on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012–2013.
Despite Russia’s attempts to redirect its gas supply to the EU through the Belarusian gas transit system and Nord Stream pipeline, Ukraine remains the most important transit country for Russian gas going to the EU. Today, twelve EU member states receive gas through the Ukrainian transit system,1 which is in relatively bad shape and needs to be significantly modernized.
Yet, the Ukrainian authorities have not asked the EU for the funds that were pledged by Brussels in 2009 to help modernize the system. The Ukrainian government is also reportedly holding negotiations with Moscow on the creation of a bilateral consortium to manage the Ukrainian gas transit system. While this may provide for the safe transit of gas to the EU in the short run, it does not guarantee modernization and hence security of transit for the EU in the medium term.
Ukraine also offers energy resources that the EU needs. It is one of the biggest producers of electricity in Europe. Its electricity systems are partially integrated with the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, and the country supplies electricity to four EU member states (Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and Romania). In addition, Ukraine has significant natural gas and shale gas resources that it is starting to develop.
The Russia Factor
Russia appears to be an unavoidable piece of the puzzle. When it comes to the common neighborhood, the EU looks as if it is competing with Moscow for spheres of influence. While the EU is neither willing to nor capable of playing this game, Moscow is. A badly governed Ukraine—that is, one that is corrupt and undemocratic—is more vulnerable to Moscow’s pressure and thus has more chance of being absorbed by the Eurasian Customs Union over time. While this does not confront the EU with hard security threats, it may complicate trade and other relations with Ukraine.
What Should the EU Do?
The question of Ukraine’s relevance would not be asked if the country were consolidating its democracy and transitioning to a market economy. The question then would be how to help Ukraine reform in the most efficient way. The EU’s lowest-common-denominator approach would probably be enough, and the Association Agreement coupled with financial support could be the natural instrument for assisting Ukraine.
But today’s Ukraine is a mixed bag for EU members. Kyiv does not want to reform, and the Ukrainian leadership has taken numerous steps that move the country further away from the EU. In its current shape, Ukraine seems to matter only because of its size, its geographical proximity to the EU, and the host negative, problematic agenda items that it brings to the table. It has long had positive potential, but realizing that potential, especially in terms of economics and trade, is prohibitively expensive, and the EU has more to gain from engagement with other countries, such as Russia or Turkey.
The EU’s natural approach is most likely to wait for the situation in Ukraine to improve. Over time, the EU may consider a policy of containing Kyiv. But that would make the EU a mere observer of developments in the region and would go against the EU’s interest of building a stable and well-governed neighborhood, a goal that is still very valid. Therefore, continued engagement with Ukraine is key. However, the EU may need to reconsider a few things to be more successful in its endeavor.
EU member states should agree to pause the EU enlargement debate and deliver a clear message to Ukraine.The sad truth is that the EU does not have the institutional capacity or will to enlarge beyond a few Balkan countries. It is also clear that the enlargement carrot will not work in Ukraine as it did in Poland. Erasing the issue of enlargement from the Ukraine debate will help the EU be more pragmatic and less emotional about Ukraine. It will tame Kyiv’s bloated sense of self-importance and help it understand Ukraine’s interest-based relevance for the EU27.
The EU should end its unnecessary rhetoric about competition over Ukraine with Russia. Toning down the rhetoric does not mean that the EU is giving Ukraine away to the Eurasian Customs Union. Rather, it means stopping Kyiv from playing Brussels against Moscow and letting Ukraine decide its direction independently. Brussels should remain open to signing the Association Agreement if Kyiv shows signs of real interest in such a relationship. Such a move would also reinforce the value of what the EU has to offer rather than fueling comparisons with Russia.
EU member states should also discuss EU27 interests in Ukraine and find relevant instruments for engaging with Kyiv. Today’s EU is better equipped for this discussion than it has been in the past. There are fewer illusions about Ukraine, and the EU is no longer afraid of losing the country.
The EU’s primary interest in Ukraine is putting an end to the negative agenda. While the EU’s general objective toward Kyiv may remain, the EU will have to rethink its instruments of engagement. Democracy is a bottom-up process, as recent events in the Arab world have demonstrated. The EU cannot impose it from above. Brussels should gradually engage in comprehensive outreach to the grass roots—a process that is not well-known to the EU. Tripling the number of scholarships for Ukrainian students of all levels and increasing the number of possibilities for professional training and exchange beyond government officials coupled with support for grassroots movements will be key. Providing visa-free travel to the EU for ordinary Ukrainians can help significantly facilitate the learning process and may contribute to change in Ukraine.
This is a long-term investment that will require creative solutions from the EU to overcome Ukraine’s rather messy politics. However, it is clearly in the EU’s strategic interest. Once the EU27’s interests in Ukraine are clarified and its instruments have been fine-tuned, member states can move on to discussing the relevance of and approach to the entire Eastern Partnership region.
1 The states are Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. End of document
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- Date Posted
Dmytro ShulgaApril 17, 20136:57 am
Quite right, the EU should define its own interests vis-a-vis Ukraine. It’s not a question of values vs. interests. The real problem seems to be that many in the EU see no interest in Ukraine, and this is a mistake. Ukraine is not the EU’s #1 trading partner, but it is still an important market. E.g. German trade with Ukraine is bigger in volume than German trade with some the EU’s member states like Greece or Baltic states taken together. One can rightfully claim that the business climate is bad, but Doing Business Index indicators are substantially better than those of the previous ‘orange’ years. As regards the EU’s energy security – Ukraine is a member of the Energy Community, an important transit country (not yet controlled by Gazprom, as most post-Soviet states), and a large reserve of the shale gas. Taken all this into account, isn’t Ukraine important for the EU?
Reply to this postYuriy MatsiyevskyApril 18, 201310:20 am
What about supplementing engagement with personalized sanctions if Yanukovych fails to meet the EU’s conditions for the association agreement? There are some voices both within and outside Ukraine to modify the current EU strategy.
Reply to this postEberhard Rhein, Brussels April 19, 20131:44 am
Well done Olga! Both in terms of analysis and policy responses.
Reply to this postUK. Raine May 30, 20134:09 am
I have worked for 15 years in Ukraine since the Soviet bloc collapsed and over this time realised that in one form or another Ukraine has been occupied since 1709. When Peter the Great first stole their identity and history. With the theft of the name Russ. Now it seems they have finally got their identity back they are like children in a playground. They don’t know what to do with it. They need time to grow up and Moscow still wants control, they’re not happy to give back what they stole so long ago. Ukraine when left in peace which was very rare has always strived for democracy. Moscow however is happier with autocratic rulers if not the German tsars. Then the Georgians Stalin & Beria with the KGB. Wasn’t Putin a colonel of the KGB?
Reply to this postLGAugust 09, 20134:34 pm
Kievan Rus is not the same thing as Ukraine. Ethnic Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians all (rightfully) claim descent from Kievan Rus. To claim that Kievan Rus was purely a Ukrainian kingdom is wrong because at the time no such ethnic group as Ukrainian existed, same with Russian or Belarusian ethnic group. You ought to read non biased sources of Ukrainian history, not the ethno-nationalist bunk they propagate from Kiev and Lvov. An independent Ukraine has never existed prior to 1918.
MitchelJune 13, 201312:38 pm
Ukraine is the largest European country, with significant natural and mineral resources and is of strategic significance for the EU in terms of security. It would be very unreasonable and unwise for the EU to lose Ukraine and other East European countries (Moldova, Georgia, Belarus) to Russia which would strengthen Russia as an empire and only create more rivalry and threat/danger to the EU from Russia. The EU must not wait until Russia succeeds in domination over those countries. Further delay in bringing those countries into NATO and the EU may be very costly to the EU in the near future if Russian neoimperialism succeeds in its policies. Russia is a disguised enemy and a rival of the EU, not a reliable partner. Only Russia is a real threat to the EU economically, militarily (with the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction) and in terms of security because Russia has expansionist domineering ambitions not only in Eastern Europe, but also globally. Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus as European peaceful countries (unlike Russia) must belong to NATO and the EU to make the EU stronger and more prosperous so that they have a brighter future and do not get under oppressive Russian rule again which this time may be fatal to these nations.
Reply to this postLGAugust 09, 20134:25 pm
The cold war ended bro!
HavemaskwilltravelMarch 12, 20146:22 am
Oh, I’m so happy that the EU is able and willing to give us that ‘bright’ future without oppressing us. Hail, hail the EU!
LGAugust 09, 20134:27 pm
The author fails to mention that bringing in Ukraine would require billions of dollars in investments from the wealthier EU members. Pray tell where will the cash strapped governments get the cash to fund Ukraine’s modernization? Romania and Bulgaria ate up a good chunk of the money Brussels sent their way and they are not successful states by any means of the imagination, especially Bulgaria where the mafia is still ingrained with state offices and officials.
Reply to this postVadymNovember 29, 20136:41 pm
Very good analysis Olga. Brussels does not have united strong foreign polices. That is why he is loosing to Russia. But for Ukrainians to “put Ukraine in a basket with other EU neighbours and expected to become a well-governed democracy and market economy on the EU’s border” will not work. I am Ukrainian myself and logic of majority of people from Ukraine is: ” I do not want to be a a second grade neighbour. Give me a chance to be a member of EU in the future or I will join to another union or country as equal partner. It sounds for me like to be a good dog around rich household. Every one like you but nobody never let you sit at the table. That is why the problem is not only with president of Ukraine. It is more fundamental problem. Many friends of mine who are nor supporter of Yanukovich at all are very frustrated and humiliated because such position of EU regarding Ukraine, and they not sure if it will be right to sign the AA with EU. Even though next president will be more democratic and will sign the AA with EU this association will bring constant trouble to both parties. Only prospective to be a member of EU when Ukraine will met all standards will give a pace of mind to both parties.
Reply to this postGuestMarch 23, 20142:25 pm
The EU “wants” the Ukraine because of a workforce even much cheaper than in Poland, that’s why.
Reply to this postUKoutofEUnowMay 02, 20141:23 am
We Euro sceptics in the United Kingdom, DO NOT want further EU enlargement. If Ukraine, Turkey and other Eastern European countries join, it would be a further disaster for the big 5 EU countries, especially the UK. There would be mass immigration from these countries to the West. The UK is already struggling in every way, because of the massive influx of people from Poland and the other countries that joined in 2004. These Eastern Europeans did not care one bit, about British citizens, when they came over to the UK. Our services, like schools and hospitals, are completely over burdened with the mass influx of Eastern European citizens. Our people cannot get jobs. The last thing the United Kingdom wants, is further enlargement of the European Union. In fact, the United Kingdom needs to get out of the EU NOW. It is bad for Britain, and will only get worse. My fellow British citizens, vote on the 22nd of May, to get the United Kingdom out of the EU.
Europe is the most blood littered continent in the world.i really wonder why it still ,it finds a problem to unit fully at zero human cost with Turkey than risk having unpredictable super power enemy like Russia may wait until winter and cuts off all gas supplies to Europe.America may find a problem of getting its soldiers out of Afghanistan.So need to rush but calculate.Ask the late Napoleon about the Crimean war
Reply to this posthttp://www.vidafmgospel.com.br/site/index.php/component/kide/-/index.php?option=com_kideNovember 20, 20164:12 am
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9,473 Views | April 29, 2018 https://theduran.com/why-the-us-deep-state-hates-vladimir-putin/
Here is Vladimir Putin in extemporaneous discussion and interview (translated into English): % buffered00:00-05:58
This next video shows Putin offering Russia’s billionaires the choice between being dispossessed of their companies by the Government, or else signing an agreement with the Government, promising that they will henceforth place the welfare of their workers and of the people of Russia, above their own personal welfare and wealth, and only one billionaire there, Oleg Deripaska, hesitated, at which point Putin treated him contemptuously and Deripaska promptly signed. % buffered00:00-01:39
Here is how Britain’s Express newspaper, on 7 October 2015, described that second video:
It shows the 63-year-old [Putin], who has launched a blitz of more than 50 airstrikes against the terror regime [Syria’s ISIS] in recent days, directly confronting Russian oligarchs and ranting at them that they are good for nothing COCKROACHES.
In the incredible footage, Putin humiliates Oleg Deripaska, one of the world’s richest men with a fortune of $6m [Deripaska’s fortune in 2009 was actually $3.5 billion], and treats him like his personal lapdog.
It was filmed on a tour of Pikalevo, a struggling factory town where families had been venting their anger over job losses and unpaid wages.
Back when the Putin-Deripaska encounter happened, the right-wing British newspaper Telegraph had bannered, on 4 June 2009, “Vladimir Putin takes Oleg Deripaska to task”, and it placed their hostile slant on the event by sub-heading: “Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, publicly criticised his most faithful oligarch on Thursday in an attempt to deflect growing social discontent on to the country’s unpopular super-rich.” (Of course, the U.S. regime would ignore why Russia’s super-rich were “unpopular,” much less the fact that America’s super-rich were involved in these heists from Russia that had caused so much of Russia’s post-Soviet depression.)
On 27 April 2018, Deripaska ceded control over the world’s second-largest aluminum-producer, Russal, and he did it because the United States regime had recently placed him and his corporations under new economic sanctions, which are allegedly focused against Russian billionaires who support Putin politically.
If Deripaska wouldn’t cede control, then the sanctions-hit would be harder and more damaging to Russia’s economy, so Deripaska — in fulfillment of his agreement signed with Putin — ceded control.
In other words, Deripaska, whom Putin had actually forced to commit to placing Russia’s interests above their own, is now being treated by the U.S. regime as one of the chief people to ‘blame’ for Putin’s being in office, in Russia’s ‘dictatorship’.
This threat, by Putin, to Russia’s wealthiest (Deripaska having been one of the billionaires whom Putin didn’t dispossess when coming into power in 2000), wasn’t a staged PR event, but instead was simply the best-filmed instance of Putin’s standard policy, ever since becoming Russia’s leader: his policy that an aristocrat can lose everything if he places his interests above the nation’s interests.
This policy was the fundamental change from the prior, Boris Yeltsin, years, when Harvard’s economics department and the World Bank, during the immediate post-Soviet 1990s, came into Russia and set up the system, working in conjunction with Yeltsin’s friends, to funnel the future profits from Russia’s vast undervalued natural resources, into partnerships between Yeltsin’s friends and U.S. billionaires and affiliated investors. See Also
That American-led corruption sent the Russian economy into a tailspin, from which the new Russian President, Putin, rescued it, by laying down the law to the billionaires: that their interests were subordinate to, not dominant above, the nation’s interests. This is the principal difference between the ideology of today’s America, and of today’s Russia.
My 3 June 2014 article, “How and Why the U.S. Has Re-Started the Cold War (The Backstory that Precipitated Ukraine’s Civil War)”, showed, by means of graphs, that the economic depression which engulfed Russia (and which was totally ignored by the Western press) during 1990-2000, ended and reversed immediately following (when Putin came into power), and especially ever since around 2004, so that Russia’s economic growth-rate under Putin, at least the rate prior to America’s economic sanctions against Russia in 2014, was one of the world’s best and looked likely to pose serious competition to the U.S. aristocracy in the future.
From the pits that were brought by the U.S. regime in Russia — including the massive heists from the Russian public — to the period of Putin’s rule in Russia, has been a sea-change, and the U.S. regime cannot tolerate it; they want the U.S. elite’s looting of Russia to return.
This is necessarily a simplified overview of the conflict between the U.S. regime and Russia, but it’s nonetheless true. In order to understand it more deeply, filling in the details during the period after the end of the Soviet Union — and of its communism, and of its Warsaw Pact military alliance mirror-image to America’s NATO alliance, till now — cannot meaningfully be done outside the context of the U.S. regime’s swindle of Russia ever since the night of 24 February 1990, when U.S. President George H.W. Bush told America’s allies that it was a lie to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev when Bush’s people had promised Gorbachev that if the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact ended, then NATO would not expand, not move “one inch to the east” toward Russia’s border — which the U.S. and those allies have since done all the way up to Russia’s border.
(In reverse, it’s as if Russia now were placing its soldiers and its missiles on or near the Mexican border, and the Canadian border.) This swindle of Russia meant that though the Cold War did end on Russia’s side, it never yet has ended on America’s. The greed of the U.S. regime — and of its allies — seems to be endless, including, ultimately, grabbing Russia itself. Putin resists, and so they hate him. That’s the reality.
To the U.S. regime and it propagandists, Putin is “The Pariah” and “The West’s Public Enemy Number One”, but to the Russian people, he is the protector of their nation against the U.S. regime’s threats to Russia’s national sovereignty. More diametrically opposite views of the same man, could hardly even be imagined.
The scandal in Washington no one is talking about Posted September 17th 2019
By Paul Sperry New York Post
May 21, 2016 | 6:37pm Enlarge Image
President Obama and his former Attorney General Eric Holder are tight-lipped on the Fast and Furious gun scandal — but a judge has ordered the release of 20,000 pages of buried emails and memos. AP (2)
The deadly-but-forgotten government gun-running scandal known as “Fast and Furious” has lain dormant for years, thanks to White House stonewalling and media compliance. But newly uncovered emails have reopened the case, exposing the anatomy of a coverup by an administration that promised to be the most transparent in history.
At least 20 other deaths or violent crimes have been linked to Fast and Furious-trafficked guns.
A federal judge has forced the release of more than 20,000 pages of emails and memos previously locked up under President Obama’s phony executive-privilege claim. A preliminary review shows top Obama officials deliberately obstructing congressional probes into the border gun-running operation.
Fast and Furious was a Justice Department program that allowed assault weapons — including .50-caliber rifles powerful enough to take down a helicopter — to be sold to Mexican drug cartels allegedly as a way to track them. But internal documents later revealed the real goal was to gin up a crisis requiring a crackdown on guns in America. Fast and Furious was merely a pretext for imposing stricter gun laws.
Only the scheme backfired when Justice agents lost track of the nearly 2,000 guns sold through the program and they started turning up at murder scenes on both sides of the border — including one that claimed the life of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
While then-Attorney General Eric Holder was focused on politics, people were dying. At least 20 other deaths or violent crimes have been linked to Fast and Furious-trafficked guns.
The program came to light only after Terry’s 2010 death at the hands of Mexican bandits, who shot him in the back with government-issued semiautomatic weapons. Caught red-handed, “the most transparent administration in history” flat-out lied about the program to Congress, denying it ever even existed.
Then Team Obama conspired to derail investigations into who was responsible by first withholding documents under subpoena — for which Holder earned a contempt-of-Congress citation — and later claiming executive privilege to keep evidence sealed.
But thanks to the court order, Justice has to cough up the “sensitive” documents. So far it’s produced 20,500 lightly redacted pages, though congressional investigators say they hardly cover all the internal department communications under subpoena. They maintain the administration continues to “withhold thousands of documents.”
Even so, the batch in hand reveals the lengths to which senior Obama operatives went to keep information from Congress.
The degree of obstruction was “more than previously understood,” House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz said in a recent memo to other members of his panel.
“The documents reveal how senior Justice Department officials — including Attorney General Holder — intensely followed and managed an effort to carefully limit and obstruct the information produced to Congress,” he asserted.
They also indict Holder deputy Lanny Breuer, an old Clinton hand, who had to step down in 2013 after falsely denying authorizing Fast and Furious.
Their efforts to impede investigations included:
- Devising strategies to redact or otherwise withhold relevant information;
- Manipulating media coverage to control fallout;
- Scapegoating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for the scandal.
For instance, a June 2011 email discusses withholding ATF lab reports from Congress, and a July 2011 email details senior Justice officials agreeing to “stay away from a representation that we’ll fully cooperate.”
Though Obama prides himself on openness, transparency and accountability, the behavior of his administration belies such lofty principles.
The next month, they went into full damage-control mode, with associate Deputy Attorney General Matt Axelrod warning an ATF official that providing details about Fast and Furious “strikes us as unwise.”
Then, in late August 2011, another email reveals that Holder had instructed his staff to have an official at ATF “close the door to his office” to prevent information about the mushrooming scandal from leaking.
Talking points drafted for Holder and other brass for congressional hearings made clear that Justice intended to make ousted ATF officials the fall guys for the scandal.
“These (personnel) changes will help us move past the controversy that has surrounded Fast and Furious,” Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich wrote in August 2011.
In an October 2011 email to his chief of staff, moreover, Holder stated that he agreed with a strategy to first release documents to friendly media “with an explanation that takes the air out” of them, instead “of just handing them over” to Congress.
“Calculated efforts were made by senior officials to obstruct Congress,” Chaffetz fumed.
“Over the course of the investigation,” he recounted, “the Justice Department has provided false information, stonewalled document requests, produced scores of blacked-out pages and duplicate documents and refused to comply with two congressional subpoenas.”
Though Obama prides himself on openness, transparency and accountability, the behavior of his administration belies such lofty principles. “Transparency should not require years of litigation and a court order,” Chaffetz pointed out.
Obama insists Fast and Furious is just another “phony” scandal whipped up by Republicans to dog his presidency. What does his heir apparent Hillary Clinton think?
The anti-gun zealot has been silent on the gun-proliferation scandal. But then, she’s been busy sweeping subpoenaed emails under the rug of her own scandal.
Trump: It looks like Iran hit Saudi Arabian oil facilities
Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Published Monday, September 16, 2019 5:52AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 16, 2019 9:50PM
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump declared Monday it “looks” like Iran was behind the explosive attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. But he stressed that military retaliation was not yet on the table in response to the strike against a key U.S. Mideast ally.
Oil prices soared worldwide amid the damage in Saudi Arabia and fresh Middle East war concerns. But Trump put the brakes on any talk of quick military action — earlier he had said the U.S. was “locked and loaded” — and he said the oil impact would not be significant on the U.S., which is a net energy exporter.
The Saudi government called the attack an “unprecedented act of aggression and sabotage” but stopped short of directly pinning blame on Iran.
This image provided on Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows damage to the infrastructure at at Saudi Aramco’s Kuirais oil field in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia. (U.S. government/Digital Globe via AP)
Iran denied involvement.
Trump, who has repeatedly stressed avoiding new Middle East wars, seemed intent on preserving room to manoeuvr in a crisis that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had immediately called Iran’s fault. Pompeo said Saturday, “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”
Trump, too, had talked more harshly at first. But by Monday afternoon he seemed intent on consultations with allies.
“That was an attack on Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“It wasn’t an attack on us, but we would certainly help them,” he said, noting a decades-long alliance linked to U.S. oil dependence that has lessened in recent years. The U.S. has no treaty obligation to defend Saudi Arabia.
Trump said he was sending Pompeo to Saudi Arabia “to discuss what they feel” about the attack and an appropriate response.
One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the U.S. was considering dispatching additional military resources to the Gulf but that no decisions had been made. The U.S. already has the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier battle group in the area, as well as fighter jets, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and air defences.
Trump, alternating between aggressive and nonviolent reactions, said the U.S. could respond “with an attack many, many times larger” but also “I’m not looking at options right now.”
American officials released satellite images of the damage at the heart of the kingdom’s crucial Abqaiq oil processing plant and a key oil field, and two U.S. officials said the attackers used multiple cruise missiles and drone aircraft.
Private experts said the satellite images show the attackers had detailed knowledge of which tanks and machinery to hit within the sprawling Saudi oil processing facility at Abqaiq to cripple production. But “satellite imagery can’t show you where the attack originated from,” said Joe Bermudez, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who examined the images.
“What the photos indicate is that someone planned a sophisticated, co-ordinated attack that really impacted the production of oil at this facility,” he said.
The U.S. alleges the pattern of destruction suggested Saturday’s attack did not come from neighbouring Yemen, as claimed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there. A Saudi military alleged “Iranian weapons” had been used.
The Saudis invited United Nations and other international experts to help investigate, suggesting there was no rush to retaliate.
Jon Alterman, the chief Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Saudi caution reflects the kingdom’s wariness of taking on Iran.
“I don’t think there’s a great independent Saudi capability to respond,” he said. “You don’t want to start a war with Iran that you don’t have an idea how you’re going to end.”
In New York, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, condemned the attack and said that “emerging information indicates that responsibility lies with Iran.”
At the Pentagon, Defence Secretary Mark Esper suggested Iranian involvement, too. In a series of tweets after meeting with Trump and other senior national security officials, Esper said the administration was working with partner nations “to address this unprecedented attack and defend the international rules-based order that is being undermined by Iran.”
Iran rejected the allegations, and a government spokesman said there now is “absolutely no chance” of a hoped-for meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Trump at the U.N. General Assembly next week.
“Currently we don’t see any sign from the Americans which has honesty in it, and if the current state continues there will be absolutely no chance of a meeting between the two presidents,” spokesman Ali Rabiei said.
Downplaying any talk of imminent U.S. military action, Vice-President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told reporters at the White House that Trump’s “locked and loaded” was “a broad term that talks about the realities that” the U.S. is “safer and more secure domestically from energy independence.”
The new violence has led to fears that further action on any side could rapidly escalate a confrontation that’s been raging just below the surface in the wider Persian Gulf in recent months. There already have been mysterious attacks on oil tankers that Washington blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq, and the downing of a U.S. military surveillance drone by Iran.
Those tensions have increased ever since Trump pulled the U.S. out of Iran’s 2015 agreement with world powers that curtailed Iranian nuclear activities and the U.S. re-imposed sanctions that sent Iran’s economy into freefall.
The weekend attack halted production of 5.7 million barrels of crude a day, more than half of Saudi Arabia’s global daily exports and more than 5% of the world’s daily crude oil production.
The U.S. and international benchmarks for crude each vaulted more than 14%, comparable to the 14.5% spike in oil on Aug. 6, 1990, following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
U.S. stocks were down but only modestly. Major stock indexes in Europe also fell. Markets in Asia finished mixed.
At a news conference, Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said, “All the indications and operational evidence, and the weapons that were used in the terrorist attack, whether in Buqayq or Khurais, indicate with initial evidence that these weapons are Iranian weapons.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry, while expressing “grave concern” about the attack, warned against putting the blame on Iran, saying that plans of military retaliation against Iran would be unacceptable.
AP Writers Jon Gambrell and Aya Batrawy contributed from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. AP writers Zeke Miller and Michael Biesecker contributed from Washington, Tali Arbel from New York, Elaine Kurtenbach from Bangkok, Nasser Karimi from Tehran, Dave Rising from Berlin, Samy Magdy from Cairo and Qassim Abdul-Zahra from Baghdad.
Robert Mugabe’s vast wealth exposed by lavish homes and decadent ways Posted September 12th 2019
This article is more than 1 year old
Zimbabwe’s leader is said to have assets of £1bn – but since an EU crackdown in 2002, there has been little sign of extravagant spending outside the country
When Grace Mugabe
summoned a number of supporters to her sprawling private compound at
Mazowe, north of Harare, in 2014 – she told them that all suggestions
her husband was a wealthy man were wide of the mark.
Standing in front of the 30 or so luxury villas that she has had built on the property, she insisted that the truth was that Mugabe was the poorest head of state in the world.
“We are blessed because we have Baba Mugabe,” she said. “He is the poorest president the world over. I have never seen him asking for money from anyone.” Profile
Who is Grace Mugabe and why is she controversial?
Nobody listening believed a word of it, of course. Grace enjoys a number of soubriquets in Zimbabwe, all of them reflecting a widespread belief that she enjoys squandering the country’s wealth: the First Shopper, Gucci Grace, and even DisGrace.
The couple’s home in Harare is said to be extraordinarily opulent, so much so that when their daughter Bona was married there, photographers were said to have been ordered not to take any pictures that showed the property in the background.
According to some estimates, Robert Mugabe has about £1bn-worth of assets, much of it invested outside Zimbabwe. A 2001 US diplomatic cable, later released by the whistle-blowing organisation WikiLeaks, quoted this figure, and said that while reliable information was difficult to find, there were rumours that his assets “include everything from secret accounts in Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the Bahamas to castles in Scotland”.
Grace Mugabe is said to have bought a number of properties in the affluent Sandton suburb of Johannesburg and there are reported to have been property purchases in Malaysia, Singapore and possibly Dubai.
The first lady is reported to have the sort of designer shoe collection that might be expected of a dictator’s wife and, notoriously, is said to have spent $75,000 (£56,000) on luxury goods on a single shopping spree in Paris.
Grace denies this, although there is plenty of evidence of extravagance within the Mugabe family. Earlier this year the couple’s youngest son, Bellarmine Chatunga, posted on Instagram a photograph of his watch with the caption: “$60,000 on the wrist when your daddy run the whole country ya know!!!”
Shortly afterwards, a video emerged showing the 21-year-old dousing his watch with champagne from a bottle of Armand de Brignac gold champagne, which retails at around $400 a bottle.
0:47 Robert Mugabe’s son pours champagne over his watch – video
A small glimpse of Robert and Grace Mugabe’s wealth came to light in 2015, during a dispute over ownership of a $7.6m home in Hong Kong. There was a second glimpse earlier this year when the government-owned Herald newspaper reported that Grace had ordered a $1.35m diamond ring to mark her wedding anniversary.
However, there has been little sign of the couple’s riches outside the country since 2002, when the European Union began imposing sanctions and asset seizure orders on senior regime figures. This came after the government launched a violent crackdown on opponents, refused to permit the monitoring of elections and evicted some white farmers from their farms.
So little has come to light that the Herald at one point said: “Nothing has been found despite the celebrated international intelligence network of the Americans, British and other western super powers.”
But in Zimbabwe itself, the couple have been more brazen. As well as the compound at Mazowe and the palatial home in the capital’s wealthy Borrowdale district, they have a number of land holdings.
The best known is the Omega Dairy farm, one of the largest dairy farms in southern Africa. Opposition politicians have claimed that the Mugabes actually own 14 farms in the country, which would be in contravention of the constitution, which limits land holdings.
Further diplomatic cables made public by Wikileaks offer intriguing insights into the kleptocracy that the couple helped to create.
In one, headlined “Doing business Zimbabwe-style”, a US diplomat recounts a story about a high court judge taking possession of a white commercial farm north of Harare in 2002, in defiance of a order issued by his own court.
“The farm was near the Mugabe rural home,” the diplomat reported. “In 2009, the farm caught the eye of First Lady Grace Mugabe, who apparently wanted it for her son from her first marriage.”
She is said to have ordered the judge off the land. He countered with a lawsuit “but unsurprisingly”, the diplomat noted, no court was willing to hear the case.
The judge then found another farm, and demanded that the owner leave. But a government minister, who was “a patron” of the owner, told him to desist and look for another farm.
So he found another large farm and demanded a portion of that. The owners were reported to be “a bit miffed” that he was demanding 900 hectares, when his original farm had been just 600. “They ultimately negotiated,” the diplomat said.
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US National Security Advisor John Bolton resigns
Published time: 10 Sep, 2019 16:02 Edited time: 10 Sep, 2019 16:45 Get short URL
© Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili
National Security Advisor John Bolton, one of the most prominent war hawks in Donald Trump’s administration, has handed in his resignation, the US president has announced.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House… I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” Trump tweeted. The president said that he and others in the administration “strongly” disagreed with many of Bolton’s decisions.
….I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2019
Bolton gave a different account of events, however, implying on Twitter that his resignation wasn’t a completely done deal yet, or at least he had not been informed about it.
I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) September 10, 2019
Trump made the announcement just 90 minutes before Bolton was to appear at a joint press-conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Also on rt.com ‘Russian trolls run Trump’s Twitter account?’ Moscow ridicules Bolton’s disinformation claims
Bolton was appointed national security advisor on April 9, 2018, and proceeded to do everything to live up to his reputation as a staunch war hawk. He advocated the use of force and regime change in Syria, Venezuela, North Korea and Iran. The 70-year-old also strongly supported the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Tehran and the termination of non-proliferation agreements with Russia.
Trump recently kept Bolton sidelined from his key international meetings as he was looking for opportunities to reinvigorate dialogue with Iran and North Korea. The president had previously complained that the advisor was too eager to get the US into another war. Also on rt.com John Bolton being sidelined by Trump allows the world to breathe easier
Editorial Comment Mike Pompeo has just held a press conference stating that Donald Trump’s foreign policy will not change. There will be no easing up on Iran. Reading between the lines, John Bolton was about cutting to the chase with heavy bombing. He had no patience with pussy footing sanctions to achieve the U.S long standing international programme for regime change. At least he was honest about U.S intentions. Trump is more secretive and duplicitous. Charles Close
Breaking: John Bolton, Perhaps Even Stupider Than Trump, Resigns….Why?
Bolton, perhaps the most poisonous toad of the neocon’ aquarium, is gone, again. Is he dying? Is this an indication that Netanyahu’s total and absolute control over Trump is waning?
Look at the failures:
- North Korea shits on us every day and Trump looks like a total dick every time they launch a missile.
- The Taliban could care less if Trump won’t invite them to Camp David, they might well take it themselves, militarily, given enough time.
- The US is now pushing for peace in Yemen, knowing the Saudi’s are beaten. Trump lauded their fake military purchases, but we now know they are screwing us and reselling Russian hardware behind our backs.
- Venezuela made fools of us, and Bolton, except we are planning on beating them next year in a TV series, “Jack Ryan, the Zionist Tool”
- The US economy is starting to tank…
- Trump and Netanyahu’s boy in Britain has become a total liability.
- Russia secretly opened up a land route from Iran to Lebanon, by setting up an air base in al Bukamal on the Syria-Iraq border.
- Turkey, our partner in the fake safe zone inside Syria is now pouring in starving refugees and blaming Trump, another US defeat.
- Iran smuggled a supertanker past our naval blockade in daylight…making the US Navy look like total dicks, better than the pirates they would have been otherwise. Why? Did military commanders tell Trump to “go fuck himself” again?
…and we can go on forever….
Russia Today: National Security Advisor John Bolton, one of the most prominent war hawks in Donald Trump’s administration, has handed in his resignation, the US president has announced.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House… I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” Trump tweeted. The president said that he and others in the administration “strongly” disagreed with many of Bolton’s decisions.
I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore….
….I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.
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Venezuela: The U.S.’s 68th Regime Change Disaster Posted September 10th 2019
In his masterpiece, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II, William Blum, who died in December 2018, wrote chapter-length accounts of 55 U.S. regime change operations against countries around the world, from China (1945-1960s) to Haiti (1986-1994). Noam Chomsky’s blurb on the back of the latest edition says simply, “Far and away the best book on the topic.” We agree. If you have not read it, please do. It will give you a clearer context for what is happening in Venezuela today, and a better understanding of the world you are living in.
Since Killing Hope was published in 1995, the U.S. has conducted at least 13 more regime change operations, several of which are still active: Yugoslavia; Afghanistan; Iraq; the 3rd U.S. invasion of Haiti since WWII; Somalia; Honduras; Libya; Syria; Ukraine; Yemen; Iran; Nicaragua; and now Venezuela.
William Blum noted that the U.S. generally prefers what its planners call “low intensity conflict” over full-scale wars. Only in periods of supreme overconfidence has it launched its most devastating and disastrous wars, from Korea and Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. After its war of mass destruction in Iraq, the U.S. reverted to “low intensity conflict” under Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war.
Obama conducted even heavier bombing than Bush II, and deployed U.S. special operations forces to 150 countries all over the world, but he made sure that nearly all the bleeding and dying was done by Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis, Somalis, Libyans, Ukrainians, Yemenis and others, not by Americans. What U.S. planners mean by “low intensity conflict” is that it is less intense for Americans.
President Ghani of Afghanistan recently revealed that a staggering 45,000 Afghan security forces have been killed since he took office in 2014, compared with only 72 U.S. and NATO troops. “It shows who has been doing the fighting,” Ghani caustically remarked. This disparity is common to every current U.S. war.
This does not mean that the U.S. is any less committed to trying to overthrowing governments that reject and resist U.S. imperial sovereignty, especially if those countries contain vast oil reserves. It’s no coincidence that two of the main targets of current U.S. regime change operations are Iran and Venezuela, two of the four countries with the largest liquid oil reserves in the world (the others being Saudi Arabia and Iraq).
In practice, “low intensity conflict” involves four tools of regime change: sanctions or economic warfare; propaganda or “information warfare”; covert and proxy war; and aerial bombardment. In Venezuela, the U.S. has used the first and second, with the third and fourth now “on the table” since the first two have created chaos but so far not toppled the government.
The U.S. government has been opposed to Venezuela’s socialist revolution since the time Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998. Unbeknownst to most Americans, Chavez was well loved by poor and working class Venezuelans for his extraordinary array of social programs that lifted millions out of poverty. Between 1996 and 2010, the level of extreme poverty plummeted from 40% to 7%. The government also substantially improved healthcare and education, cutting infant mortality by half, reducing the malnutrition rate from 21% to 5% of the population and eliminating illiteracy. These changes gave Venezuela the lowest level of inequality in the region, based on its Gini coefficient.
Since Chavez’ death in 2013, Venezuela has descended into an economic crisis stemming from a combination of government mismanagement, corruption, sabotage and the precipitous fall in the price of oil. The oil industry provides 95% of Venezuela’s exports, so the first thing Venezuela needed when prices crashed in 2014 was international financing to cover huge shortfalls in the budgets of both the government and the national oil company. The strategic objective of U.S. sanctions is to exacerbate the economic crisis by denying Venezuela access to the U.S.-dominated international financial system to roll over existing debt and obtain new financing.
The blocking of Citgo’s funds in the U.S. also deprives Venezuela of a billion dollars per year in revenue that it previously received from the export, refining and retail sale of gasoline to American drivers. Canadian economist Joe Emersberger has calculated that the new sanctions Trump unleashed in 2017 cost Venezuela $6 billion in just their first year. In sum, U.S. sanctions are designed to “make the economy scream” in Venezuela, exactly as President Nixon described the goal of U.S. sanctions against Chile after its people elected Salvador Allende in 1970.
Alfred De Zayas visited Venezuela as a UN Rapporteur in 2017 and wrote an in-depth report for the UN. He criticized Venezuela’s dependence on oil, poor governance and corruption, but he found that “economic warfare” by the U.S. and its allies were seriously exacerbating the crisis. “Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns,” De Zayas wrote. “Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees.” He recommended that the International Criminal Court should investigate U.S. sanctions against Venezuela as crimes against humanity. In a recent interview with the Independent newspaper in the U.K., De Zayas reiterated that U.S. sanctions are killing Venezuelans.
Venezuela’s economy has shrunk by about half since 2014, the greatest contraction of a modern economy in peacetime. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the average Venezuelan lost an incredible 24 lb. in body weight in 2017.
Mr. De Zayas’ successor as UN Rapporteur, Idriss Jazairy, issued a statement on January 31st, in which he condemned “coercion” by outside powers as a “violation of all norms of international law.” “Sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela,” Mr. Jazairy said, “…precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis…is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes.”
While Venezuelans face poverty, preventable diseases, malnutrition and open threats of war by U.S. officials, those same U.S. officials and their corporate sponsors are looking at an almost irresistible gold mine if they can bring Venezuela to its knees: a fire sale of its oil industry to foreign oil companies and the privatization of many other sectors of its economy, from hydroelectric power plants to iron, aluminum and, yes, actual gold mines. This is not speculation. It is what the U.S.’s new puppet, Juan Guaido, has reportedly promised his American backers if they can overthrow Venezuela’s elected government and install him in the presidential palace.
Oil industry sources have reported that Guaido has “plans to introduce a new national hydrocarbons law that establishes flexible fiscal and contractual terms for projects adapted to oil prices and the oil investment cycle… A new hydrocarbons agency would be created to offer bidding rounds for projects in natural gas and conventional, heavy and extra-heavy crude.”
The U.S. government claims to be acting in the best interests of the Venezuelan people, but over 80 percent of Venezuelans, including many who don’t support Maduro, are opposed to the crippling economic sanctions, while 86% oppose U.S. or international military intervention.
This generation of Americans has already seen how our government’s endless sanctions, coups and wars have only left country after country mired in violence, poverty and chaos. As the results of these campaigns have become predictably catastrophic for the people of each country targeted, the American officials promoting and carrying them out have a higher and higher bar to meet as they try to answer the obvious question of an increasingly skeptical U.S. and international public:
“How is Venezuela (or Iran or North Korea) different from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and at least 63 other countries where U.S. regime change operations have led only to long-lasting violence and chaos?”
Mexico, Uruguay, the Vatican and many other countries are committed to diplomacy to help the people of Venezuela resolve their political differences and find a peaceful way forward. The most valuable way that the U.S. can help is to stop making the Venezuelan economy and people scream (on all sides), by lifting its sanctions and abandoning its failed and catastrophic regime change operation in Venezuela. But the only things that will force such a radical change in U.S. policy are public outrage, education and organizing, and international solidarity with the people of Venezuela. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by:Medea Benjamin – Nicolas J. S. Davies
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. Nicolas J. S. Davies is a writer for Consortium News and a researcher with CODEPINK, and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq
The Venezuelan Refugee Crisis Is Not Just a Regional Problem Posted September 10th 2019
Latin American Neighbors Are Pulling More Than Their Weight
By Cynthia J. Arnson July 26, 2019
Venezuela’s refugee crisis is the largest in Latin American history. Worldwide, it is now second only to that of Syria. A staggering four million Venezuelans have fled their homeland, the majority since 2015. This number constitutes more than 12 percent of the country’s total population. Leaving behind a collapsed economy and mounting repression, over one million Venezuelans have fled since last November. The UN projects that the number of refugees will climb to 5.4 million by the end of 2019, while other researchers have predicted several hundred thousand more.
No country in Latin America has escaped the impact of Venezuela’s meltdown. Colombia, which shares a long border with Venezuela, now hosts the largest number of refugees—1.3 million, up from about 300,000 just two years ago. Another 710,000 Venezuelans traveled through Colombian territory in 2018 in transit to other destinations farther south. Peru hosts the second-largest number of Venezuelans (806,900), followed by Chile (288,200) and Ecuador (263,000). Caribbean states have smaller totals but the most refugees relative to their population.
Yet only a fraction of the international assistance dedicated to other major crises has been devoted to the outpouring of Venezuelan refugees. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) asked the international community for $738 million to assist migrant-receiving countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2019. By early July, international donors had contributed a scant 23.7 percent of the requested funds. The shortfall, in the words of one senior Bogotá-based aid worker, is a “recipe for disaster.” Eduardo Stein, the UN special representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, pointed out that “Latin American and Caribbean countries are doing their part to respond to this unprecedented crisis, but they cannot be expected to continue doing it without international help.”
None of the migrant-receiving countries in Latin America has the financial wherewithal to provide shelter, food, medical care, and employment to such large numbers of hungry and vulnerable people. Public health and education are already overextended and underresourced in many of the receiving
Epstein Death Cover Up posted September 8th 2019
Bulbous Prince Andrew was back in the public eye yesterday in Bruge. Wearing another of his fancy dress uniforms, the Royal was dedicating something to do with one of his ancestors and dodging quetions about hus links with Geoffrey Epstein.
(Natural News) This post won’t be lengthy. The story is so simple that everybody already knows what happened here.
Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at 7:30 am this morning, according to police. He was under “suicide watch,” which was of course a designation placed on him roughly two weeks ago to set up the back story for what just happened. Jeffrey Epstein was “arkancided” / murdered for the simple reason that dead men don’t talk. And Epstein had a lot to say that would have implicated Bill Clinton and dozens of high-profile global power brokers who happily raped young boys and girls that were provided by Epstein as part of his blackmail-based wealth creation scheme.
The hashtag #ClintonBodyCount is already trending again on Twitter, and the death of Epstein raises the total number of people mysteriously found dead after possessing potentially damaging information on the Clintons to about 70 or so. No political couple (Bill and Hillary) has left a longer trail of body bags behind them as they carried out an increasingly treasonous series of high crimes against this nation. Hillary Clinton pre-sold her anticipated presidency to the highest bidders on the international stage, collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in the Clinton Family Foundation which was little more than a funnel for corruption, bribery and payoffs. Anyone who possessed information that could have exposed the Clintons was mysteriously found dead. In fact, the most dangerous profession in America is working for the Clintons.
Understand that if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, Donald Trump would right now be in prison facing charges of treason thanks to the fact that the Obama administration had set up an elaborate, staged hoax to falsely claim that Trump was working for the Russians. The plan was to have Clinton’s DOJ charge Trump with treason, sending a message to anyone who might think about challenging the deep state ever again.
Clinton’s plan for the total rollout of an authoritarian regime also included the mass arrests of all independent media leaders — including myself — who would be charged with carrying out espionage by “working with the Russians” to try to steal the election for Trump. This is why the “PropOrNot” list was published before the election: It was actually an arrest list of websites to seize, shut down and criminally prosecute for daring to criticize Hillary Clinton or Obama. When Trump became president instead of Hillary, the tech giants used the list as a blacklist to de-platform, de-monetize and ban every website on the list. Realize that if Hillary had won the presidency, we would all be in prison right now and probably “suicided” just like Jeffrey Epstein.
The thing is, this deep state conspiracy is still being run by the criminal wing of the FBI, the bunkered-up Barack Obama, and Hillary loyalists inside the bureaucracy. But William Barr and Trump have turned the tables, and we are now just months away from criminal prosecutions of numerous deep state operators who were following orders from Obama and Clinton. That’s why the deep state — which includes the “black hat” faction of the corrupt FBI — is now desperately running every op they can imagine, from false flag shootings to murdering Clinton enemies who might be able to name names.
Over the next 2-3 months, you are going to witness the deep state pulling out all the stops, running every mass shooting they can initiate, and possibly even carrying out 9/11-scale mass terrorism events on U.S. soil. Make no mistake: These are being run by the Obama / Clinton loyalists inside the FBI and other agencies. These are the very people who are about to be criminally prosecuted by Trump’s DOJ, and they are now operating in sheer desperation mode, willing to kill anyone it takes to try to start a civil war or blame Trump for all their own violence.
Do not be surprised if you see bombings, mass poisonings, mass shootings and even buildings brought down. These are all being run by the FBI, which is America’s most experienced terrorist organization.
To get up to speed, you need to read this article from All News Pipeline which reveals how the El Paso shooter was tied to the CIA’s MKUltra assassination program.
Even Ann Coulter is now publicly saying Jeffrey Epstein “probably didn’t kill himself at all.” It’s abundantly obvious Epstein was taken out to make sure he didn’t implicate the Clintons. Only a fool would believe the Clintons aren’t involved here.
Sure, Epstein probably deserved to be taken out, and he’s now burning in Hell for his crimes against children, but the Clintons have managed to silence yet another person who held damning evidence against them, and America continues to be partially run by the most dangerous, treacherous crooks, pedophiles and murderers our world has ever seen. They’re called Democrats, and they hope to destroy America, mass execute all Christians and Trump supporters, annihilate the First and Second Amendments, and roll out an authoritarian left-wing society run by snowflake libtard lunatics who scream “tolerance!” while they shoot you in the face with guns they confiscated from conservatives who stupidly wanted to “get along” with the radical Left.
Things are coming to a peak here, folks. The day of reckoning is coming soon for the Clintons and their accomplices, including Comey, Brennan, Clapper and others. Even more shockingly, the day is also coming that CNN will close its doors and shut down because it will be so utterly discredited for its complicity in this massive criminal conspiracy that it will have zero credibility remaining.
There is nothing the desperate Democrats won’t do now to try to start a civil war. They have no ethics, no limits and respect no rule of law. This is exactly why all Democrats must be removed from power, everywhere across the country, and prosecuted for their crimes against us all.
Editorial Comment My readers may not be surprised to know that I have spent time in the cells. Suicide is understandable, but there is nothing there to hand yourself with or from. So this death is very suspicious and obviously there is a cover up. This man broke his neck in two places rather than spill the beans, and he was on suicide watch, but the vidoe disappeared.
U.S Bribe Iran tanker captain September 7th 2019
The Adrian Darya 1 left Gibraltar in August, despite a last-minute US effort to keep it detained
The US state department has confirmed it offered millions of dollars to the captain of an Iranian oil tanker which is at the centre of a diplomatic row.
Brian Hook, head of the department’s Iran Action Group, emailed the captain of the Adrian Darya 1 about sailing it somewhere the US could seize it.
The vessel was suspected of moving oil to Syria, and was temporarily impounded by UK authorities in Gibraltar in July.
It was released last month after Iran gave assurances about its destination.
The US justice department, which had tried to block the release, then issued a warrant to seize the tanker.
Reports of the cash offer first appeared in the Financial Times on Wednesday and have been confirmed by the state department.
“We have conducted extensive outreach to several ship captains as well as shipping companies,” a spokeswoman told AFP news agency.
The US blacklisted the tanker, last Friday. A Treasury Department statement said the vessel was being used to transport 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil for the benefit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – a branch of the country’s armed forces the US has designated a terrorist organisation.
What Hong Kong’s massive protests are really about Posted September 8th 2019
On the surface, the people of Hong Kong are fighting their political leaders over a seemingly bland set of amendments to a longstanding law. But what’s really motivated people to flood the city’s streets in record numbers is something much grander: the future of democracy in China.
Last week, hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre 30 years ago. And on Sunday, roughly 1 million people demonstrated in the semi-autonomous Chinese city-state against amendments to an extradition law that would allow a person arrested in Hong Kong to face trial elsewhere, including in mainland China.
The passion is understandable. For many, the amendments would all but cement Beijing’s authority in a city that’s supposed to be allowed to operate mostly on its own for three more decades. The problem for demonstrators is that the measures will likely pass as soon as Wednesday, due to a legislature and leader that answer to Beijing.
“We were doing it, and we are still doing it, out of our clear conscience, and our commitment to Hong Kong,” Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, told reporters on Sunday in her first comments after the protests began.
The extradition law fight, then, is the latest one in Hong Kong residents’ years-long effort to stave off Beijing’s creeping authority. And while the newest push is among the largest in the city’s history, it still may not be enough to save democracy in its nearly last Chinese refuge.
“Hong Kong will just become another Chinese city ruled by the Communist Party,” Jimmy Lai, a local pro-democracy leader and media mogul, wrote for Nikkei Asian Review last week.
Hong Kong’s extradition law amendments, explained
After taking over Hong Kong in a war in the 1800s, Britain returned it to China in 1997 with an important stipulation: The city would partly govern itself for 50 years before fully falling under Beijing’s control. So until 2047, the expectation was that the city and the mainland would operate under the principle known as “one country, two systems.”
But Beijing clearly isn’t waiting that long. “In recent years, the Hong Kong government has disqualified elected lawmakers, banned activists from running for office, prohibited a political party, jailed pro-democracy leaders, expelled a senior foreign journalist, and looked the other way when Beijing kidnapped its adversaries in Hong Kong,” Ben Bland, a Hong Kong expert at the Lowy Institute in Australia, told me.
Those actions, among others, have animated many in the city to resist. “Being here reminds me that the Chinese government is so inhumane and, recently, they are tightening the rule of law in Hong Kong,” Tiffany, a 23-year-old university student who attended the candlelight vigil last week, told the Asia Times on June 5.
Critics view proposed amendments to the extradition law as part of that “tightening.”
The Hong Kong government first discussed them in February, prompted by a shocking case. Chan Tong-kai, a local, was suspected of killing his pregnant girlfriend while the two were on vacation in Taiwan. But the city was unable to send him back to the island because they don’t share an extradition agreement.
The reason? When Hong Kong’s extradition accords were being finalized in 1997, Taiwan and China weren’t included because the mainland has a “fundamentally different criminal justice system operating in the mainland” and because of “concerns over the mainland’s track record on the protection of fundamental rights,” according to an April statement by the Hong Kong Bar Association.
That reality doesn’t sit well with Hong Kong’s current government. Lam, the chief executive, cited Chan’s case among two reasons she wants the amendments passed. “One is of course to provide a legal basis for us to deal with the Taiwan case; the other is to plug a loophole in the existing arrangements for the return or the surrender of fugitive offenders,” she told reporters in April before a government meeting.
The amendments would give the chief executive the authority to decide on a case-by-case basis if a suspected criminal should be extradited to a place with which the city has no formal extradition agreement. That on its own is already a problem for critics, as the city’s leader isn’t elected, but rather is picked by a committee appointed by the government in Beijing.
What’s more, while the city’s courts would get to review the chief executive’s decision, they will have “very little power to reject any extradition request,” M.K. Tam, director of the human rights group Amnesty International Hong Kong, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday. “It’s not a formal prosecution so you cannot examine the evidence presented by the other side.”
The bill also would apply retroactively, meaning thousands of people who may have angered mainland China with a supposed past crime could be at risk of facing trial in mainland China.
As a result, many fear the amendments will allow Beijing to target any person in Hong Kong that it wants.
“We all know that if they want to prosecute someone — a human rights defender or activist — actually in mainland China, the charges are political in nature but they use other laws to prosecute them,” Tam continued.
However, supporters of the law contend that certain financial crimes won’t be included in the bill, potentially saving the city’s influential business leaders from extradition. They also say that no one will be sent away if they might be tortured or killed as part of their punishment, and that the offense must be illegal both in Hong Kong and wherever the suspect is extradited.
That’s still not enough to assuage those who’ve long championed the city’s judicial values. “Both Hong Kong and China knew very well that there had to be a firewall between our different legal systems,” Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, told the South China Morning Post in May, adding that Lam’s position is “absurd.”
So the people of Hong Kong are fighting back to curb mainland China’s growing clout in the city. The problem is that effort has been going on for years — and it’s seemingly failing.
Mainland China versus Hong Kong
China is an authoritarian state. Its political leadership and law enforcement officials don’t like anyone protesting against the government in Beijing and have no tolerance for democratic movements. That, in part, is what makes Hong Kong’s status as a quasi-democracy so unique in China — and so threatening to Beijing.
Little by little, mainland China has gained more power in the city. But every move has only compelled the citizenry to resist even harder.
Here are just two recent examples: Thousands of protesters surrounded Hong Kong’s government headquarters in 2012 after an announced proposal to include more pro-China materials in the school curriculum.
Two years later, even more demonstrators overran Hong Kong’s financial district after a new election law allowed a Beijing-backed committee to name the city’s chief executive — the same law that brought Lam to power in 2017.
Experts say the newest flare-up is part of the long-term resistance movement to keep the city as independent as possible.
“The proposed change to the extradition law, which would open up Hong Kongers and others passing through the city to the vicissitudes of mainland Chinese justice, is the latest in a long list of actions that undermine democratic freedoms and the rule of law,” says Bland, who also wrote a book about life in post-handover Hong Kong.
There’s also a dark history behind this specific extradition issue. China has increasingly begun kidnapping people it views as criminals, either for their pro-democracy views or for other perceived crimes, but who are outside of its legal jurisdiction. Beijing’s authorities sometimes hold prisoners for years without a proper trial.
In January 2017, for instance, billionaire business executive Xiao Jianhua was forcibly taken out of Hong Kong’s Four Seasons hotel, even though mainland Chinese officials legally can’t do so without the city’s say so. Xiao is now in mainland China, and his fate remains unclear.
This is why the extradition law fight is so personal and so widespread: It’s for the future of human rights and democracy in the city. And if Beijing wins, Hong Kong’s millions of citizens could lose both.
“When the legislation passes — which now seems near certain, and imminent — it will spell the death of Hong Kong as the world has known it,” Ray Wong Toi-yeung, a political activist from the city, wrote for the New York Times last week.
Editorial Comment Hong Kong belongs to China. Democracy is a dubious term – it’s a whore’s charter. The protestors are all about greed and self interest and there is a trail of foreign control back to U.S and Britain.
U.S.-backed Kurdish militiamen celebrate their capture of Raqqa from ISIS in October 2017. Posted September 5th 2019
Originally published under the title “America’s Key to Keeping ISIS Defeated.”
|U.S.-backed Kurdish militiamen celebrate their capture of Raqqa from ISIS in October 2017.|
Eastern Syria sits at the crossroads of critical policy decisions in Washington. The region is at the center of an escalating crisis in U.S.-Turkey relations, while maintaining America’s presence there blocks Iranian and Russian gains in Syria. It also is key to keeping ISIS defeated. Washington should see eastern Syria as one of the most important strategic pieces of “real estate” to emerge out of the last half-decade of conflict in the Middle East.
The area of northeast Syria where the U.S. today plays a critical role, roughly the size of West Virginia, is now a kind of Gordian Knot. While American adversaries, such as Russia or Iran, have a clear goal in Syria, keeping the Bashar al-Assad regime in power and entrenching their influence, the U.S. policy goal is less clear.
Seth Frantzman is The Jerusalem Post’s op-ed editor, a Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a founder of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.
There’s a movement to turn Hong Kong back into a British colony Posted August 31st 2019
September 03, 2016 · 12:15 PM EDT By Patrick Winn
Listen to the story.
A campaigner carries a former colonial Hong Kong flag during a Hong Kong-UK reunification demonstration outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong on July 1, 2016 — the 19th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule. Credit:
China’s rulers already revile Hong Kong’s independent streak. Many see the island territory as a feisty place corrupted by Western political thought, a legacy of its time under British rule.
Now along comes a campaign to vindicate the Communist Party’s worst suspicions.
This movement’s adherents aren’t clamoring for freer elections. Nor are they demanding outright independence.
They want to transform Hong Kong back into a British territory — and proclaim Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state.
“Many Hong Kongers love Her Majesty very much!,” says Alice Lai, the leading face of the campaign. “Even now, we still call Her Majesty ‘The Boss.’”
Even in Hong Kong’s more rebellious circles, this idea will sound far-fetched. The city’s pro-democracy camps are mostly fixated on less radical goals, such as loosening Beijing’s grip on Hong Kong’s leadership.
But the Hong Kong-United Kingdom Reunification Campaign, while extremely small, is quite serious.
Lai, a graphic designer in her 30s, tried to advance the cause by running for office in Hong Kong’s upcoming Sept. 4 elections.
She was swiftly banned.
So were five other would-be candidates accused of agitating for Hong Kong’s independence — a cause that, according to Beijing, is fueled by a “Western world … seeking to plunge Hong Kong society into disorder.” (A conspiratorial Chinese government-produced video recently warned that, within these separatist campaigns, “we can often catch a glimpse of the dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes.”)
Wishing for an independent Hong Kong isn’t so rare. A recent poll shows that one in six Hong Kongers shares that unlikely dream.
But among the banned candidates, only Lai envisions Hong Kong retreating into the arms of the UK, which controlled the island territory for more than 150 years.
A campaigner for Hong Kong-UK reunification counts donations on July 1, 2016 — the day marking the 19th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule. Credit:
Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 with some major caveats. Both sides agreed that Hong Kong would enjoy a “high degree of autonomy,” including a legal system with some basis in British common law.
But in recent years, Communist Party stalwarts, aided by their loyalists in Hong Kong, have been tightening their controls on the affluent territory.
Beijing insists on vetting Hong Kong’s candidates lest a separatist take power. Chinese agents have even crossed borders to snatch up critics. Many Hong Kongers, who speak Cantonese, fear their native tongue will be snuffed out by mandatory Mandarin lessons in public schools.
Reunification campaigners claim Beijing’s meddling is now so severe that it has actually voided the terms of the British handover.
In Lai’s dream scenario, these grievances will compel the UK to reassert its ownership of Hong Kong — a move that would nuke relations with China, a key trading partner, and baffle heads of state around the world.
Nevertheless, the campaigners are hopeful. Here, Lai explains the movement’s ideology, its next steps and her fondness for the British Empire. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
PW: Your group has said that China is carrying out an “inhumane occupation” of Hong Kong. What does that mean?
AL: It means that transferring Hong Kong from the UK to China is a violation of human rights. It’s a transfer from a democratic country to an authoritarian, totalitarian country. It’s totally unlawful, this Chinese occupation.
You’ve also said Hong Kong culture, society and education are all under threat from China.
Yes, it’s true. Hong Kong is a more civilized place than China. Hong Kong has always had lots of British values. We have law and order, the English language, some common cultural values and regulations. All of this forms the basis of a civilized place. For example, we throw our rubbish in the bin.
But now Hong Kong is deteriorating.
Your supporters like drinking high tea and eating cupcakes that look like the UK flag.
Yes, we drink tea [at events on the street] and educate Hong Kongers about the Magna Carta. You’ll also see that our breakfasts are similar to the British breakfast. We eat eggs, tea and sausage.
I realize you don’t want to be controlled by China’s Communist Party. But wouldn’t it be strange if Hong Kong’s head of state was a far-away caucasian woman in England — the queen?
Many Hong Kongers really love Her Majesty very, very much! We still call her “The Boss.” She loves her people and she was very good to us.
Your chances of success are very, very low. Are you serious about winning? Or is this just a way to protest against China?
It’s just the beginning. We’re now trying different methods of advising Hong Kongers on this issue. That’s what is most important: showing them they have the right of self-determination.
How would you convince British diplomats to ruin their relationship with China by attempting to reclaim Hong Kong?
The former British foreign secretary has already declared that China breached the joint declaration. We’ll also get more Hong Kongers to sign an online petition … so that we can force the UK to do more.
We can just hope that China will act like an adult. In the South China Sea — er, the Philippine Sea — they say they own the whole place. We cannot let China do anything it wants. They’re a brutal, authoritarian country. Next they may say they own the world.
Brexit showed that a lot of British people want to become less entangled with the outside world. How would you convince the average English person that they need Hong Kong back in the UK?
I’d tell them that Hong Kong passed from the UK’s hands without our consent. And that we really love the UK. Also, Hong Kong is one of the best international finance cities. If we reunite, that would be good for the UK.
You say the Chinese government is very oppressive. But the British Empire could be oppressive and also quite racist. A long time ago, Chinese in Hong Kong weren’t allowed in public after dark. Does that cause you to think twice about celebrating Hong Kong’s colonial history?
That was a historical time, back in the very beginning. Once Hong Kong became a colony, many people moved here and it was just a better place to live.
Why not just try to make Hong Kong totally independent?
It’s better to reunite. Hong Kong under the UK had a well-functioning system. We still have tangible legal and political ties.
Going independent, on the other hand, is stepping into confusion and uncertainty.
Which is better: British food or Cantonese food?
I like to think our cuisine is a mix of British and Hong Kong styles.
Surely, you know Cantonese food is better, right?
Well, I like my milk tea very much.
How do you want people to vote in September?
I’ll start a (pro-reunification) petition in early September and send it to the election committee.
I still want to take part in legislative elections. That’s a formal way to gain the confidence of Hong Kongers. And joining the legislative council would be a good way to talk to the UK about our situation.
Editorial Comment There are a lot of stupid people among the British masses. Many are ignorant and their psuedo intellectual certainties are inversely related to thier idiocy. I am surpsrised with voters like these that Britain ever let go of money making Hong Kong as a result of the vile opium trade and resulting opium wars. Britain’s elite have always been war mongers squandering badly if at all educated young people for their grandiose schemes.
Their U.S offspring is of the same mentality, selling the illusion of demcracy just as nineteenth century quack doctors/peddlars sold hair restorsers to gullible hopefull vain bald men. British people genrally do not like the bald truth, left or right. They prefer cover ups, which si why we have corrupt police all covered up in nice uniforms and PR.
The police are at the heart of our withering democarcy and the rise of our police state. Stupid Brits of any class have no right or logic in criticising China’s efforts to keep all of its territory and people on message. Britain’s population is brainwashed every day, as school, using the media, obeying the thought police and shopping dissident neighbours and colleagues is the say the wrong thin and don’t like BBC’s ‘Woman’s Hour’