The following ‘World News’ feature begins on A Socialist In Canada on January 1, 2018. The feature continues the reporting work of the New Cold War.org website which was launched in October 2014. As of January 2018, Roger Annis is no longer editing the New Cold War.org website.
Two weeks after an alleged chemical poisoning on its territory and more than one week after making grave accusations against Russia, UK foreign minister invites in OPCW inspection, RT, Mar 19, 2018
[Boris Johnson made an announcement inviting OPCW inspectors into Britain on March 18, from the couch of Andrew Marr’s interview program on BBC.
[The international Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997 (Wikipedia). The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was established by international agreement to enforce the Convention. Part 11 of the convention outlines the procedures to be followed by OPCW inspectors when a member state makes an allegation of chemical weapons usage and requests international inspection. The full text of the 1997 convention is here (beginning on page 324 of pdf); Part 11 begins on page 456 of pdf.]
The CBS interview with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman was a crime against journalism, by Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept, March 19, 2018
… In a spirit of constructive criticism, and in an attempt to try and push back against the U.S. media’s bizarre love affair with Mohammed bin Salman ahead of his visit to Washington on March 20, Here are ten much tougher, more relevant questions that “60 Minutes“ could and should have asked:
International Red Cross head calls for aid access to Afrin’s civilian population, by Rudaw, March 19, 2018 (A summary of this story also appears on RT.) The ICRC says some 250,000 civilians have fled Afrin city and region in recent days due to the Turkish military offensive. The UN recently estimated the refugeee-flooded population of Afrin at 323,000.
Boris Johnson issues completely new story on ‘Russian novichoks’, by Craig Murray, published on his website, Mar 18, 2018
* First recorded successful novichok synthesis was in 2016 – by Iran in cooperation with the OPCW, by Craig Murray, published on his website, Mar 17, 2018
* ‘Skripal case is a carefully-constructed drama’, interview with John Pilger, RT, March 18, 2018 Russia-UK relations plunge amid row over the poisoning of a former spy. Award-winning journalist John Pilger joins RT to discuss this issue.
Tens of thousands fleeing Eastern Ghouta, Syria to reception centers as five years of militia control ending, RT, Mar 18, 2018
[Accurate news reporting is scant of the ending of control by right-wing militias of the Eastern Ghouta district east of Syria’s capital city of Damascus. Western media continues years of biased and downright inaccurate reporting, constantly advocating the violent overthrow of the Syrian government. Its reporting of the latest developments in Syria is toxic. For a look back at the U.S. and allied ‘regime change’ drive in Syria, see: Western Syria: It would all be over by now without the ‘regime-changers’, commentary by by Neil Clark, RT, March 18, 2018]
Kurdish city of Afrin in northern Syria falls to invading Turkish forces, by Rudaw news agency (northern Iraq), March 18, 2018 [The pre-war population of Afrin region was some 200,000, of which the city of the same name numbered app. 35,000.]
* Syrian rebels, backed by Turkey, seize control of Afrin, by Carlotta Gall, New York Times, March 18, 2018
… The Syrian rebel forces, which have served as advance troops for the Turkish operation, seemed to enter the city without a fight, after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., withdrew to the surrounding hills. Tens of thousands of civilians had evacuated in the previous days, as Turkish troops encircled the city but left a corridor open to the south…
* Syria’s Afrin city center ‘entirely under Turkish control’, RT, March 18, 2018
Behind Colin Powell’s legend: His role in the American War in Vietnam and covering up the 1968 My Lai Massacre, by Robert Parry and Norman Solomon, 1996 article reprinted in Consortium News, March 17, 2018
50 years after My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, revisiting the slaughter the U.S. military tried to hide, broadcast on Democracy Now!, March 16, 2018
Turkish forces fire on Kurdish-controlled Afrin in northern Syria killing 18 civilians, by Beth McKernan, The Independent, Mar 16, 2018 More than 10,000 people flee Afrin in 24 hours as YPG and YPJ prepare for imminent ground attack from Turkish troops and allied Syrian militias
* Amid massacres perpetrated by Turkish occupation, Afrin people are forced to flee their homes, ANHA news agency, Mar 17, 2018
* Turkish army bombs Avrin hospital in Afrin: 15 killed, ANF news agency, Mar 17, 2018
* Turkish army attacks civilian convoy in Afrin: Dozens killed, ANF news agency, Mar 17, 2018
* Without a state, Syrian Kurds likely to eventually make a deal with Damascus, news analysis on Rudaw, March 16, 2018
Arms deals between Turkey and Germany are like a well-oiled machine, by The Region (west Asia), March 15,2018
Terrorist capabilities laid bare in an Eastern Ghouta chemical lab, by Sharmine Narwani, RT, March 16, 2018 (Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University.)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn joins Theresa May’s unfounded anti-Russia accusations, statement by Jeremy Corbyn, published in The Guardian, March 15, 2018
… Theresa May was right on Monday to identify two possibilities for the source of the attack in Salisbury, given that the nerve agent used has been identified as of original Russian manufacture. Either this was a crime authored by the Russian state; or that state has allowed these deadly toxins to slip out of the control it has an obligation to exercise.
… We agree with the government’s action [expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats], but measures to tackle the oligarchs and their loot would have a far greater impact on Russia’s elite than limited tit-for-tat expulsions. We are willing to back further sanctions as and when the investigation into the Salisbury attack produces results.
[The reputations of both leaders will be stained the longer the allegations blaming Russia sit unproven. But won’t everyone be tired and worn out by the propaganda barrage if and when the truth ever emerges? Reminder: Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crash on July 17, 2014. The ‘Russiagate’ barrage in the U.S. has evolved in this direction, the end result being political bewilderment and disempowerment of ordinary citizens. All under the shadow of an escalating nuclear arms race by NATO…]
The Iraq death toll 15 years after the U.S. invasion, by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies, Common Dreams, Mar 15, 2018 Our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion
Enough! In historic day of action, one million students walk out of schools in the U.S. demanding action on guns, Democracy Now!, March 15, 2018
The racist origin of the U.S. Second Amendment and the rise of Black gun ownership, by Zenobia Jeffries, YES! Magazine, March 13, 2018
The ‘Novichok’ chemical weapon story is another Iraqi WMD scam, by Craig Murray, published on his website, March 14, 2018
Going down with the bad ship U.S.A., by Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report, March 15, 2018
Besieged enclave of Ghouta on brink of falling to Syrian government forces, The Guardian, Mar 15, 2018
* Thousands evacuated as families, injured leave E. Ghouta during ceasefire, RT, Mar 15, 2018 (with photos and video)
* Red Cross aid convoy enters Syria’s eastern Ghouta, Reuters, March 15, 2018
Maidan icon Nadiya Savchenko faces arrest after claiming top Ukraine official ‘led snipers to central Kiev’ at the height of the ‘Maidan’ protest movement in early 2014, RT, March 15, 2018
Ukrainian MP Nadezhda Savchenko, who was lauded as a hero for her role in the Donbass military campaign and her prosecution in Russia, is now accused of plotting to blow up the national parliament in Kiev. The General Prosecutor’s Office in Kiev has requested that the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, strip Savchenko of legal immunity and allow her arrest…
[During the past four years, University of Ottawa researcher Ivan Katchanovski has documented the killings of dozens of protesters and police by sniper fire which took place in Maidan Square, Kyiv on February 20, 2014. His research as well as evidence presented in the interminable trials of those accused of the killings prove that the sniper shootings were perpetrated by the extremist, right-wing forces which overthrew the elected president Viktor Yanukovych. The shootings were a pivotal moment in the Feb 21, 2014 coup against Yanukovych. More recently, several of the foreign mercenaries that were brought into Ukraine to assist the sniper shootings have come forward with confessions. But Western media along with left-wing apologists have shunned and boycotted all this evidence because it contradicts their scenario claiming that ‘Russian intervention’ provoked the Ukraine crisis and Maidan coup. Read a selection of the evidence of the 2014 Maidan Square sniper shootings here.]
Trump’s latest torture-tainted nominations for secretary of state and CIA head recall failure to prosecute Bush-era abuses, by Nat Parry, Consortium News, March 14, 2018 The declining human rights standards on display with the Haspel and Pompeo nominations are the latest in a long line of policy failures that include the Obama administration’s lack of prosecutions of Bush-era torture.
‘Russian spy attack’ program special: What’s next for Russia and United Kingdom?, broadcast of RT‘s London-based ‘Going Underground’ program, March 15, 2018 (Host Afshin Rattansi speaks to journalist Lembit Opik, professor Piers Robinson, and conservative think-tank director Ben Harris-Quinney.)
The chumps at Canada’s Globe and Mail daily will promote anything that serves their anti-Russia agenda
[The lead news article in the March 15, 2018 Globe and Mail is an agitational piece calling on Canada to act more aggressively against Russia over the evidence-bare accusations of British Prime Minister Theresa May. She says the “Russian state” carried two attempted assassinations against on British soil on March 4 against two former Russian nationals using a chemical poison. “Canada and other Western allies offered little more than words of support…” laments the Globe article in its lead paragraph. Meanwhile, a Globe editorial on the same day chides Theresa May’s government and calls on it to follow the lead of the U.S. and Canada by adopting its own variant of a ‘Magnitsky Act‘.
[Not to be outdone, the weekday newsmagazine program, ‘The Current’, on Canada’s state-run broadcaster the CBC invites a Russia-hating ideologue onto its broadcast of March 15 to vent hatred against all things Russian. The guest is no less that Bill Browder, a former U.S. citizen become British citizen, twice convicted of financial crimes in Russian courts in 2013 and 2017. As the CBC program host leads him along, Browder accuses Britain of being ‘soft’ in its treatment of Russia. The host then leads a second anti-Russia guest to a conversation likening Theresa May’s accusations to parallel accusations that Russia has a hand in chemical weapons attacks in Syria.]
Canada on wrong side of Venezuelan conflict, op-ed commentary by Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star, Mar 15, 2018
Noam Chomsky, Danny Glover and 150 other activists slam U.S.-Canadian sanctions against Venezuela, open letter first published on March 9, 2018
The strange case of the Russian spy poisoning, by James O’Neill, published in Consortium News, March 13, 2018 (James O’Neill is a barrister and geopolitical analyst in Australia.) Applying the principle of cui bono – who benefits? – to the case of Sergei Skripal might lead investigators away from the Kremlin as the prime suspect and towards Western intelligence agencies
Expel Russian diplomats, ask for more powers – Theresa May’s plan over Sergei Skripal poisoning case, RT, Mar 14, 2018
* Russia calls UK’s ‘hostile’ actions a provocation, vows response, RT, Mar 14, 2018
* Britain’s presumption of guilt towards Russia invites conflict and chaos, op-ed commentary by Finian Cunningham, RT, Mar 14, 2018
* Corbyn under fire from own MPs over response to PM’s Russia statement, The Guardian, Mar 14, 2018
[Taking her cue from the appointment of the rightist Mike Pompeo as U.S. imperialism’s main point-man on foreign policy, British Prime Minister Theresa May is doing her part to ramp up the new cold war by expelling 23 Russian diplomats from that country. She claims the ‘Russia state’ conducted two attempted murders in England on March 8 using chemical poison. Her evidence? Why, none. ‘You don’t need to know any facts, just trust us’, say May and her ruling class partners. Their British state becomes a self-appointed judge, jury and executioner.]
Trump picks CIA torturer Gina Haspel to head the agency following appointment of extreme-rightist Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, report on Associated Press, by Deb Reichmann, March 14, 2018
[Canada and the rest of the United States’ NATO allies now have the right-wing extremist Mike Pompeo as their leader-in-chief on foreign policy matters. He is a declared opponent of the 2016 U.S.-Iran political agreement, he vows to continue the U.S. threats and war escalation against Russia, and he defends the torture record of the CIA he headed. Watch the NATO allies all line up like trained seals and pledge their subservience…]
‘Godmother of torture’ Gina Haspel should be in dock at The Hague, not head of CIA says CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou in RT interview, RT, Mar 13, 2018
‘Enough’: U.S. students come together in spectacular walkout to end gun violence, The Guardian, Mar 14, 2018
The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn claims the Syrian government is waging a war of ethnic cleansing. His evidence? None
[Patrick Cockburn has assembled and published on March 13, 2018 in The Independent a concocted story that the Syrian government is carrying out a war of “ethnic cleansing” in the Eastern Ghouta district of the capital city Damascus. His article is headlined, ‘Syria’s war of ethnic cleansing’. It is truly an odd concoction because the article details Turkey’s military assault in Afrin, northern Syria which is, unarguably Cockburn explains, a war against the Kurdish people of that region, that is, a war directed at a specific ethnic minority (nationality).
[As to Cockburn’s claim that an “ethnic war” is being waged against Eastern Ghouta, his argument consists of several opinions of self-declared opponents of the Syrian government. Cockburn writes, “As the Turkish army closes in on Afrin and the Syrian army penetrates deeply into the opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, people in both areas fear that they will be the victims of enforced demographic change.” He quotes the opinion of UK resident Rami Abdulrahman as to why Syrian government actions in Eastern Ghouta are equivalent to those of the invading foreign power Turkey in Afrin: “President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have taken 60 per cent of Ghouta and [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s forces have taken 60 per cent of Afrin.” As to who, exactly, is the ‘ethnic minority’ in Eastern Ghouta being targetted, we are left in the dark. Cockburn declines to enlighten us.
[Patrick Cockburn’s article is reprinted in CounterPunch on March 14.]
U.S. refusal to negotiate nuclear de-escalation with Russia increases likelihood of nuclear war, by Marjorie Cohen, Truthout, March 12, 2018
Novichok – toxic questions about chemical at center of Skripal saga in Britain, including Russia’s UN-verified destruction of its entire chemical weapons capacity in 2017, RT, Mar 13, 2018
No British media outlet will work in Russia if London shuts down RT says Russian foreign ministry, RT, Mar 13, 2018
Russia won’t respond to UK ultimatum until samples of alleged chemical weapon received, says foreign minister Lavrov, RT.com, Mar 13, 2018
… “We have certainly heard the ultimatum voiced in London,” Lavrov said on Tuesday. “The spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry has commented on our attitude to this,” he added referring to Maria Zakharova branding of May’s appearance in Parliament as a “circus.”
He added that a case of alleged use of chemical weapons should be handled through the proper channel, being the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – of which both Russia and Britain are members.
“As soon as the rumors came up that the poisoning of Skripal involved a Russia-produced agent, which almost the entire English leadership has been fanning up, we sent an official request for access to this compound so that our experts could test it in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC],” Lavrov said. So far the request has been ignored by the British side, he added…
Skripal crisis: Russia rejects UK ultimatum; demands chemical samples, news analysis by Alexander Mercouris, The Duran, Mar 13, 2018
Russian to judgement, by Craig Murray, published on his website, Mar 13, 2018 (Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010)
U.S. prepared for military action in Syria if United Nations doesn’t stop the bloodshed, Nikki Haley tells UN Security Council, Reuters, Mar 12, 2018
* Lavrov warns of ‘grave consequences’ of U.S. talk of new strikes against Syria, TASS, Mar 13, 2018
* Russian Ministry of Defense says it will respond if Russians are harmed in U.S. threats against Damascus, RT, Mar 13, 2018
… “Following the [planned chemical weapon] provocation, the United States is planning to accuse Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons,” according to head of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov. In the aftermath it would “present the international community the so-called ‘evidence’ of the apparent mass deaths of civilians at the hands of the Syrian government and “supporting it, the Russian leadership.”
In response, Washington will strike the government quarters of Damascus, the general has alleged
Turkey poised to open a military front in Iraq, by Zülfikar Dogan, Al-Monitor, March 12, 2018
The new cold war is here and now has three major powers, by Michael T. Klare, The Nation, March 8, 2018
Behind the U.S.-North Korea detente, interview with Tim Shorrock and Christine Ahn, broadcast on The Real News Network, with host Aaron Maté, March 9, 2018 (Tim Shorrock writes for The Nation and the Korea Center for Investigative Reporting; Christine Ahn is founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ and co-founder of the Korea Policy Institute.) Part two of the interview, with Tim Shorrock, The Real News Network, Mar 10, 2018
Historic turning point: U.S. agrees to summit with North Korea, by Zoom In Korea, March 9, 2018
Transcript of Vladimir Putin’s interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, broadcast by NBC on March 9, 2018, published on the website of the President of Russia
* NBC’s interview with Vladimir Putin, news analysis by Ray McGovern, Consortium News, March 12, 2018
* Russia’s next-generation hypersonic and nuclear weapons are ‘not a bluff but the new reality’, says Russian Defense Ministry, RT.com, Mar 12, 2018
* Text of Vladimir Putin’s address to the Russian Federal Assembly on March 1, 2018, published on the website of the President of Russia
* The implications of Russia’s new weapons systems, by Andrei Martyanov, UNZ Review, March 5, 2018
Caracas international solidarity meeting declares ‘Venezuela is not alone, we are all with her!’, by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, Mar 9, 2018
* Venezuelan and Colombians gather in the border for peace and self-determination of the people, by Katrina Kozarek, Venezuela Analysis, Mar 8, 2018
* Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current urges support for Maduro in Venezuela’s May 20 presidential election, interview with BZRC leader Kevin Rangel, published on Venezuela Analysis, March 8, 2018
New Zealand foreign minister says ‘no evidence’ Russia shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 or meddled in U.S. election in 2016, report on News Hub, March 10, 2018 (includes 12-minute video interview with New Zealand Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters) [In the interview, Foreign Minister Peters challenges the anti-Russia lies, allegations and conspiracy theories aggressively argued by the News Hub host.]
Russian President Vladimir Putin in feature, 90-minute interview with NBC‘s Megyn Kelly, March 9, 2018
[NBC‘s Megyn Kelly interviewed Vladimir Putin in Kaliningrad some days following Putin’s historic speech in Moscow on March 1 to the Russian Federal Assembly. In his speech, Putin announced that Russia has succeeded in thwarting the United States drive to achieve nuclear first-strike capacity. Russia is matching the U.S. research and development of new, offensive missile systems.
[NBC titles its broadcast ‘Confronting Putin’, which describes well Megyn Kelly’s performance. She spends a great deal of her time in the interview voicing ‘Russian interference’ conspiracy theories and goading President Putin to respond. The full interview, sub-titled in English, can be viewed here on YouTube.]
When government drew the color line, book review by Jason DeParle, published in New York Review of Books, print edition of Feb 22, 2018 Reviewing: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein, Liveright, 345 pp., ISBN-13:978-1631492853
… Richard Rothstein, an education analyst at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, thinks John Roberts is a bad historian. The Color of Law, his powerful history of governmental efforts to impose housing segregation, was written in part as a retort. “Residential segregation was created by state action,” he writes, not merely by amorphous “societal” influences. While private discrimination also deserves some share of the blame, Rothstein shows that “racially explicit policies of federal, state, and local governments…segregated every metropolitan area in the United States.”
‘Short of engaging in combat’, UK has Saudi Arabia’s back in Yemen war, op-ed commentary by Dan Glazebrook, published on RT.com, March 9, 2018 (also published here on Dan Glazebrook’s website)
London was not a coincidental choice of Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince for his first official visit to the Western world. The UK has been deeply involved in the brutal war the Saudis are waging on Yemen.
When the Yemen war began three years ago this month, then-foreign minister Philip Hammond explained that Britain’s policy was to support the war “in every practical way short of engaging in combat”. He has been true to his word. Since then, not only has Britain licenced over £6 billion ($8.3 billion) worth of military equipment, but has supplied no less than 166 personnel to assist the Saudi arms forces, including several officers deployed in the air-force control room, advising on targeting…
Fury as UK signs huge deal to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, RT.com, March 9, 2018
British firm BAE Systems will sell 48 Typhoon fighter jets to the Saudis after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Prime Minister Theresa May for talks…
RT’s ‘Going Underground’ program interviews Professor Theodore Postol of MIT and Norman Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuracy, on the current situation in Syria, broadcast on March 10, 2018, with host Afshin Rattansi Theodore Postol: ‘It’s extraordinary how inaccurate the reporting in the West on Syria has been’
Russia considering course change after new challenges in Syria, by Maxim A. Suchkov, Al-Monitor, March 9, 2018
* Syrian rebels agree to evacuate Qaeda-linked fighters from Eastern Ghouta, by Anne Barnard, New York Times, March 10, 2018
* First group of militants surrender arms and leave East Ghouta after Russia-brokered talks, RT.com, Mar 10, 2018
* Syrian rebels in eastern Ghouta agree to evacuate imprisoned Nusra fighters, Reuters, Mar 9, 2018
* Snipers slam shut an escape hatch from Eastern Ghouta, by Anne Barnard, New York Times, Mar 9, 2018 BEIRUT– Rebel snipers are preventing Syrian civilians from leaving the besieged area of eastern Ghouta through a corridor opened this week by the government to facilitate evacuations, a United Nations official said…
North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump will meet in May, The Hankyoreh, Mar 10, 2018
[The United States is claiming victory that its threats against North Korea have created potential diplomatic breakthroughs. Western media is dutifully playing along. Never mentioned as decisive factors are the steadfastness of the North Korean people and the widespread antiwar sentiment of the people of South Korea.
[Also playing along is South Korea National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong. He told U.S. media on March 8, “[President Trump’s] leadership and his maximum pressure policy, together with international solidarity, brought us to this juncture.” And, “The Republic of Korea, the United States, and our partners stand together in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, and that the pressure will continue until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions.” The full text of his remarks is here.
[No sitting U.S. president has ever met with a leader of North Korea.]
South Korea special envoys arrive in US to share results of meeting with Kim Jong-un, The Hankyoreh, Mar.8, 2018
Dearth of Korean experts in Trump administration could pose problems for future negotiations with North Korea, news analysis by Yi Yong-in, Washington correspondent, The Hankyoreh, March 9, 2018
Reports suggest U.S. is scaling back the military hardware in U.S.-South Korea military exercises planned for April 2018, The Hankyoreh, March 9, 2018
Putin on U.S. election interference: ‘I couldn’t care less’, NBC News, Mar 10, 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told NBC News that he “couldn’t care less” if Russian citizens tried to interfere in the 2016 American presidential election because, he claims, they were not connected to the Kremlin.
In an exclusive and at-times combative interview with NBC‘s Megyn Kelly, Putin again denied the charge by U.S. intelligence services that he ordered meddling in the November 2016 vote that put Donald Trump in the White House…
When will there be a film on Winston Churchill showing the barbaric monster with the blood of millions on his hands?, by Shree Paradkar, columnist, Toronto Star, Mar 9, 2018 Imperialistic pop culture has enshrined Churchill only as a military great, a fun drunk, a loyal monarchist with a penchant for fine speech and a flair for loquacious prose. But the British PM lacerated the world with tragedies, profiting from plunders and mass murders in India, Kenya and elsewhere.
How Washington provoked—and perhaps lost—a new nuclear arms race, comments by Stephen F. Cohen, published in The Nation, March 7, 2018. Vladimir Putin declared on March 1 that the long U.S. attempt to gain nuclear superiority over Russia has failed. He said he hopes Washington “will listen now”.
[The Nation publishes here a transcript of the views of Stephen Cohen voiced on March 6, 2018 in his weekly appearance on the John Batchelor Show, a weekday, 9 pm to 1 am, radio program on WABC-AM in New York City (and on stations in other cities in the U.S.).
President Moon Jae-in acknowledged the difficulties in ultimately achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but sent a resolute message while explaining his vision and solutions for inter-Korean relations to conservative leaders in a midday meeting with the heads of five parties on Mar. 7 at the Blue House’s Spring House reception room…
What the U.S. government is not telling you about those ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba, by Peter Kornbluh, The Nation, Mar 7, 2018
The key victims were CIA agents. Not a single tourist was affected, and the island remains among the safest countries in the world to visit.
… Militants in Eastern Ghouta have been blocking civilians from leaving the suburb, opening fire on the humanitarian corridor that was established by the Syrian governmental forces and the Russian Center for Reconciliation on February 27.
California’s Democratic Party primary and the sham of elections, by Scott Tucker, Truthdig, Mar 8, 2018
Prospects for diplomatic solution to North Korea nuclear issue are brightening, news analysis by Park Byong-su, senior staff writer, and Noh Ji-won, staff reporter, The Hankyoreh, Mar.7, 2018
South Korean special delegation to travel to U.S. on March 8, news report in The Hankyoreh, Mar.7, 2018
The members of the special delegation to North Korea plan to visit the U.S. on March 8 to explain to the Donald Trump administration the outcome of their visit after being given the “optimal conditions” from leader Kim Jong-un to mediate dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.
Afterwards, the delegation members plan to visit China, Russia, and Japan to share the content of their discussions and solicit cooperation. The plans mean South and North will effectively be joining forces to enlist support from the other countries in the Six-Party Talks framework…
U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises not likely to sidetrack progress in inter-Korean relations, The Hankyoreh, Mar.7, 2018
North Korea: We could finally see an historic agreement, by Vijay Prashad, AlterNet March 7, 2018
‘Progressive’ journalists join the Russiagate bandwagon, by Ray McGovern, Consortium News, Mar 7, 2018
A lack of skepticism has characterized much of the reporting on Russiagate, with undue credibility being given to questionable sources such the Steele dossier. Now progressives like Jane Mayer (New Yorker, author of Dark Money) and Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) are joining the bandwagon…
Breaking news: The two Koreas meet and set out on the path to peace, report on Zoom In Korea, Mar 6, 2018, (including text of full press announcement by the South Korean special envoy to Pyongyang)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agrees to summit talks with South Korea next month, brief report by Associated Press, March 6, 2018
South Korea’s presidential national security director Chung Eui-yong said the two Koreas have agreed to hold their third-ever summit at a tense border village in late April…
[Vladimir Putin’s March 1, 2018 speech reporting that Russia is keeping pace with the U.S. nuclear weapons escalation has left the imperialist world stunned. Imperialist media is trying to manufacture a ‘major new threat to the world by Russia’, but this is falling flat. No less than the mayor of Tampa Bay responded with a yawn when journalists asked his response to the brief video image accompanying Putin’s speech of missiles descending on what looked like the Florida peninsula. The mayor is implicitly confirming what sane people know–the nuclear threat to the world emanates from Washington, not from Moscow or Pyongyang.
[The announcement on March 6 that the two Korean republics are taking initiatives to reduce military tensions on the peninsula, possibly leading to a de-nuclearization is another stunner. It’s a big climbdown for the U.S., even if Donald Trump and Western media are trying to paint the situation as a reversal by North Korea. Media is headlining the story as though resulting from Trump administration action. But it is the U.S. which has said all along that it would not engage with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea without unilateral concessions by the DPRK. The U.S. is now scrambling to climb down from such ultimatums; Trump-friendly Western media is happy to help out.
[The situation exposes the liberal and left-wing commentators who have argued the wrong-headed thesis of ‘two crazies’ in Washington and Pyonyang with their fingers on the nuclear button. Yes, there is a crazy in Washington. But he does not have unrestricted power to unleash a crazy nuclear act. In Pyongyang, meanwhile, is a leader who has carefully weighed the history of imperialist aggression against his and other countries and is acting in consequence.]
Decadence and Downfall: Shah of Iran’s Ultimate Party, 2016 documentary film, 76 minutes, on the rise of the Pahlavi family dynasty in Iran and the overthrow of the last shah of Iran in 1979produced by the BBC‘s ‘Storyville’, watch here on YouTube
Six ways the Democratic Party-led ‘Resistance’ gave Trump a dictator’s toolkit, by Lee Camp, published on Truthdig, March 5, 2018 (Lee camp hosts the weekly comedy program on RT.com, ‘Redacted Tonight’)
The evidence is damning. And the silence underscores the arrogance. More than seven weeks after a devastating report from the media watch group FAIR, top executives and prime-time anchors at MSNBC still refuse to discuss how the network’s obsession with Russia has thrown minimal journalistic standards out the window.
FAIR’s study, MSNBC ignores catastrophic U.S.-backed war in Yemen, documented a picture of extreme journalistic malfeasance at MSNBC…
The day the BBC decided Putin murdered his mate, RT.com, Mar 6, 2018
Crying at the funeral of a friend is a sign you murdered them, according to top journalists at the BBC. Well, only if you’re Russian, and your name is Vladimir Putin. Shedding tears at the last goodbye for former mayor of St. Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak, embracing said friend’s wife, and showing emotion was a giveaway of blood on the Russian president’s hands, apparently…
Syria war: What the mainstream media isn’t telling you about Eastern Ghouta, op-ed by Rania Khalek, in RT.com, March 5, 2018
Turkey seeking to take key town in Afrin operation, the battle promises to be ugly, by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, March 5, 2018
Vladimir Putin’s speech on March 1, 2018: ‘Are you listening, America?’, commentary by Scott Ritter, published in Truthdig, March 2, 2018 (This article was re-posted on March 5, 2018 to the main news page of A Socialist In Canada, along with related readings compiled by A Socialist In Canada.
South Korea sends delegation to North Korea to probe de-nuclearization talks, report by Reuters, March 3, 2018
[The announcement on March 3 that South Korea is taking initiatives to bring about a meeting of North Korean and U.S. leaders with a view to de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula is a stunner. Donald Trump now says he is open to dialogue. It’s a big climbdown by the U.S., Trump’s accompanying bravado notwithstanding. It also exposes the liberal and left-wing who have argued the thesis of ‘two crazies’ in Washington and Pyonyang with their fingers on the nuclear button. Yes, there is a crazy in Washington, but thankfully he does not have unrestricted power to unleash a crazy nuclear act. Meanwhile, in Pyongyang there is a leader who has carefully weighed the history of imperialist aggression against his country and others and has acted to protect his country and thus the world.]
Musings by U.S. leaders of steel import tariffs may weaken U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance, report on Zoom In Korea, Mar 3, 2018
The Cold War: A world history, book review by Jonathan Steele, published in London Review of Books, print edition of Jan 25, 2018. Read it here in pdf format: Book review, The Cold War
Reviewing: The Cold War: A World History, by Odd Arne Westad, Allen Lane, Aug 2017, 710 pp ISBN 9780241011317
[Some 25,000 people marched in protest in the Slovakia capital of Bratislava on March 2. Rallies took place in about 20 other cities and towns in NATO and EU-member Slovakia and in some other European capitals.]
[For background on the nuclear arms race which the United States has escalated for some years ago now, read: The new nuclear race: Why North Korea isn’t the real story, by Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist, Sept 20, 2017, plus related materials, published on New Cold War.org, September 2017. The United States military, let us recall, spends ten times more than its counterpart in Russia and three times more than China. The U.S. accounts for 36 per cent of the world’s military expenditure and is the world’s largest peddler of arms.]
Trump extends anti-Russia sanctions for another year, RT.com, March 2, 2018
President Donald Trump has extended the sanctions against Russia and Russian individuals by another year. The sanctions were imposed by former President Barack Obama in March 2014, in response to the political crisis in Ukraine…
Write for love, not money? Journalists appalled, attack Media Lens, by Jonathan Cook, published on his website blog, March 2, 2018
Patrick Cockburn relays Western government claims against Syrian government regarding Eastern Ghouta, report by Patrick Cockburn in The Independent, Feb 27, 2018
[Patrick Cockburn is the venerable Middle East correspondent for the UK Independent. His article on Feb 27, 2018 is headlined, ‘Trapped in eastern Ghouta: How both sides are preventing civilians escaping the horror in Syria siege’. The first sentence reads, “Syrian rebels and government forces are both preventing civilians fleeing the bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, according to a teacher who has been trying to get his family out.” But his article makes no such case. In his account, it is the right-wing jihadist forces fighting to retain control of Eastern Ghouta who are blocking the humanitarian movement of civilians from Eastern Ghouta. He dismisses the efforts of the Russian government to establish humanitarian corridors for the movement of civilians and aid, and he dismisses the ceasefire agreement in December 2016 that ended the violent conflict in the eastern districts of the city of Aleppo (related article by Roger Annis here).
[Cockburn’s article (re-posted in the eclectic CounterPunch on March 2) does contain a rare admission normally silenced in Western media: that the right-wing jihadist forces in Eastern Ghouta have for years directed mortar fire and car bombs against civilians in Syria’s capital city of Damascus. Cockburn’s Independent colleague Robert Fisk, no stranger himself to blaming any and all sides without distinction in Syria, reports on February 23: “From within the Syrian military, there are attempts to explain the ruthlessness of the assault [against Eastern Ghouta]. Thousands of soldiers have been killed in the battles around Ghouta since 2013; vast military “resources” – the word the army uses – have been poured into this battle over the years. Most of the car bomb attacks in Damascus and the constant shelling across the centre of the capital for the past four years have come from Islamist forces in Ghouta, especially from the Douma district.”
[One week earlier, Cockburn penned an article dismissing the condemnations against OXFAM workers for paying for sex from destitute women and girls in Haiti. CounterPunch also reprinted that article. Cockburn wrote, “Though nobody died in the Oxfam sex scandal, it is described as “terrible” and “heart-breaking”, words normally reserved for tragedies such as the enslavement and rape of thousands of Yazidi women by Isis in Iraq.” He goes on to defend the failed record of the large charity and NGO industries in Haiti. They are complicit in the longstanding imperialist gangup against Haiti which has seen the country stripped of its democracy and national sovereignty. That story here.]
Amnesty International winks at Trump’s economic attack on Venezuelans, by Joe Emersberger, published in CounterPunch, March 2, 2018
* Candidates agree to postpone Venezuela’s presidential election to May 20, Telesur, March 1, 2018
* Maduro announces 58 per cent rise in minimum wage, 67 per cent rise in food vouchers, Telesur, March 2, 2018
* Wall Street Journal’s epic distortion of Colombian and Venezuelan refugees, by Joe Emersberger, published by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Feb 18, 2018, also published in Telesur, Feb 19, 2018
* Venezuela’s Communist Party and Homeland for All party back Nicholas Maduro’s presidential candidacy, by Rachael Boothroyd Rojas, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 27, 2018
* Text of Feb 26 electoral agreement between Communist Party and governing socialist party (PSUV) in Venezuela, English text published on Venezuela Analysis, March 1, 2018
The wrath of the centurions: The My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1968, book review by Max Hasting, London Review of Books, print issue of Jan 25, 2018 Reviewing: My Lai: Vietnam, 1968 and the Descent Into Darkness, by Howard Jones, Oxford, June 2017, 504 pp
The Nazis used it, we use it: Alex de Waal on the return of famine as a weapon of war, London Review of Books, Vol 39, #12, June 15, 2017 [In his essay’s survey of 20th century military/political atrocities, the writer makes a few scant references to the 1932-34 famine in Ukraine. He calls it “Stalin’s starvation of Ukraine from 1932 until 1934 (now known as the Holodomor)” and “Stalin’s administration of famine in Ukraine”. He offers no proof to substantiate the claim; it is stated as historic fact. There was tragic famine during those years in Ukraine. Famine also occurred in other areas of the Soviet Union during the same period. See the extensive documentation on that here in the New Cold War.org.]
Western media dismayed as Vladimir Putin announces that Russia has matched U.S. hypersonic missile development, report by Associated Press, March 1, 2018
[Western media and governments are portraying Vladmir Putin’s March 1 announcement (see report immediately below) of new generations of Russian-designed and built missiles as a new ‘Russian nuclear arms race’. This propaganda drive carefully omits mention of the years-long hypersonic missile development by the United States along with all manner of other research and development of new generations of nuclear weapons. For full background on the nuclear arms race which the United States has escalated for some years ago now, read: The new nuclear race: Why North Korea isn’t the real story, by Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist, Sept 20, 2017, plus related materials, published on New Cold War.org, September 2017.]
Russian president Vladimir Putin unveils new Russian nuclear arsenal, RT.com, March 1, 2018
… Putin stressed that Russia would not need all these new weapons if its legitimate concerns had not been ignored by the U.S. and its allies. “Nobody wanted to talk with us on the core of the problem. Nobody listened to us. Now you listen!” he said.
He suggested that the U.S. abandon its costly and inefficient hostile plans towards Russia and start negotiating a security arrangement which would take Moscow’s interests into account. “To those who for the last 15 years have been trying to fan an arms race, achieve unilateral advantage against Russia, impose sanctions, which are illegal from the standpoint of international law and are aimed at holding back the development of our country, including in the military area, I have this to say: All the things you were trying to prevent through your policies have already happened. You have failed to hold Russia back,” Putin said.
“You now have to acknowledge this reality, confirm that everything I said is no bluff – which it isn’t – think for some time, send into retirement the people stuck in the past and incapable of looking into the future, [and] stop rocking the boat that we all ride in and which is called planet Earth,” he said…
* Putin’s missiles are pointing at Tampa Bay but local mayors take laidback view, by Richard Luscombe, The Guardian, March 1, 2018
[Isn’t this news report in the anti-Russia Guardian an explicit recognition that many middle class Americans do not regard Russia as a threat to them?]
PM Jacinda Ardern makes visit to Australia, asks Canberra not to deport New Zealand citizens to New Zealand if they have never set foot in the country, ABC.au.net, March 1, 2018 Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has defended deporting New Zealand citizens as moral, even though the country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern says it makes no sense for someone who has never set foot in her country to be sent there.
Related: New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters appointed Minister of Nuclear Disarmament, News Hub.co,nz, Feb 27, 2018 In her first foreign policy speech on February 27, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adhern said, ‘The greatest challenge we have today comes from North Korea, situated right here in our region’
Interview with Pervin Buldan, new co-leader of People’s Democratic Party in Turkey, Reuters, Feb 14, 2018
British journalist Iona Craig wins George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting for her reporting on U.S. raid in Yemen in January 2017 killing civilians, by the Pulitzer Center, Feb 26, 2018
* Iona Craig’s award-winning reporting on Yemen in 2017, here in The Intercept
* Interview with Iona Craig, interview by ‘The Current’ weekday newsmagazine on Canada’s state-run broadcaster CBC, Feb 28, 2017 [Canada’s government has come under intense fire domestically for permitting the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which together with the U.S. and other regional dictatorships has been waging a cruel war for years against the people of Yemen.]
Syria’s tragedy, America’s crime: The collapse of national sovereignty, by Patrick Lawrence, published on his website, Feb 25, 2018 (article also appears in Salon Magazine)
… The three foreign interventions into Syria just described [U.S., Turkey, Israel] now fill daily press reports from the region. Each one is an open-and-shut breach of international law. I mentioned the original sins committed during Syria’s seven-year nightmare. We need to review these to understand what it is we witness now. While one cannot say for sure, I am halfway certain that had those earlier crimes not been perpetrated, the news from Syria today would be other than what it is.
Why Russia is emerging as the world’s indispensable diplomatic power, by Patrick Lawrence, published on his website, Feb 22, 2018 (article also appears in The Nation)
… I am well aware of the perils arising from any suggestion that Russia is up to anything but evil in all it does. The arguments in this line have never impressed me when placed against perfectly discernible realities, and they do not now. Too often, the operative assumption is that however Moscow describes its intentions they must be otherwise, for Russians never mean what they say. This is amateur logic on the face of it, but never mind that. In most cases—all of those noted here—one need only consult a map to recognize that Moscow’s interests lie where it indicates they lie. It wants a stable, secular Syria and a Middle East committed to regional security agreements (as favored by Iran, among others). It does not gain as Ukraine, with which Russia has long, dense, economic ties among much else, drifts toward failed-state status. There is much in it for the Russian Far East if North Korea can be brought into a regionally interdependent economy.
… Hostilities between the Assad government in Damascus and some Syrians erupted, as they did in numerous neighboring nations, in the course of the Arab Spring. What ensued in Syria could have been termed a civil war only for a brief interim. By 2012, and possibly earlier, the Obama administration authorized the first CIA operations intended to depose the Assad government. To this we must add Turkey’s interventions, motivated partly by Ankara’s animosity toward the Kurdish minority and partly by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daydreams of a neo-Ottoman restoration across the region…
* Russia’s call for Turkey-Syria dialogue over Afrin irritates Ankara, by Semih Idiz, Al-Monitor, Feb 27, 2018
* Syrian Kurds angered by Western silence on Afrin, by Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Feb 25, 2018
* Czech authorities release Syrian Kurd leader, won’t follow Turkey’s request for extradition, by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Feb 27, 2018
Russiagate revisited, by Jackson Lears, published in London Review of Books online blog, Feb 22, 2018 (Jackson Lears is the Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University and Editor in Chief of the Raritan Quarterly Review.)
The anti-Russian hysteria in Washington has slipped beyond self-parody. We now have front-row seats in a theatre of the absurd, watching the media furor explode after Robert Mueller’s ‘indictments’ of 13 Russians and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 presidential elections.
Mueller’s actions deserve the scare quotes because they are not really indictments at all. The accused parties will never be extradited or brought to trial. Nor is it clear that their actions rise to the level of crimes. The supposed indictments are merely dramatic accusations, a giant publicity stunt.
Even if they were real indictments, they would not be convictions. American journalists seem to have forgotten that distinction…
Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit speech enhances his standing as UK prime minister in waiting, op-ed commentary by John Wight, RT.com, Feb 27, 2018 [The text of Jeremy Corbyn’s February 26, 2018 speech in Coventry, England on the topic of Brexit is here. In it, Corbyn stated, “Let us learn the lessons of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and be clear that we will not take our country down the road of regime change wars again.” The words ‘Russia’, ‘Ukraine’, ‘Syria’ or ‘Korea’ do not appear in the speech; these are areas of British political and military ‘regime change’ engagement.]
Armed and dangerous: If police don’t have to protect the public, what good are they?, weekly commentary by John W. Whitehead, published on the Rutherford Institute website, Feb 26, 2018 (John Whitehead is a constitutional attorney, founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, and author of the 2015 book Battlefield America: The War on the American People.)
… So when police in Florida had to deal with a 19-year-old embarking on a shooting rampage inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. [on Feb 14, 2018], what did they do? Nothing.
There were four armed police officers, including one cop who was assigned to the school as a resource officer, on campus during that shooting. All four cops stayed outside the school with their weapons drawn (three of them hid behind their police cars). Not a single one of those cops, armed with deadly weapons and trained for exactly such a dangerous scenario, entered the school to confront the shooter. Seventeen people, most of them teenagers, died while the cops opted not to intervene. Let that sink in a moment.
Now before your outrage bubbles over, consider that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed (most recently in 2005) that police have no constitutional duty to protect members of the public from harm. Yes, you read that correctly…
Gun control is a lost cause in America, op-ed commentary by Michael Adams, Globe and Mail, Feb 27, 2018 (Michael Adams is president of the Environics Institute polling firm and author of Could It Happen Here? Canada in the Age of Trump and Brexit.)
* Why the shooting will continue, by Margaret Kimberley, senior columnist and editor, Black Agenda Report, Feb 28, 2018
* Will a boycott hurt the NRA? Take a look at Bill O’Reilly, by Anna North, Vox.com, Feb 27, 2018
* Canada’s Mountain Equipment Coop sport store chain to decide whether to drop outdoor brands owned by U.S. gun manufacturer, CBC News, Feb 26, 2018
Two excellent analyses of the situation in Syria, by Alexander Mercouris:
* East Ghouta: the last great battle of the Syrian war?, by Alexander Mercouris, The Duran, Feb 26, 2018
* Turkey, Russia and the Kurds: the struggle for Afrin Russia tries to broker a diplomatic solution to the Afrin conflict, by Alexander Mercouris, The Duran, Feb 25, 2018
[These two articles appear in The Duran, a website founded in 2015. Not so long after its launch, the website came to reflect the views of right-wing populists, whose idea of defending Russia from imperialism’s new cold war is to support the biggest cold warrior of them all (in the Clinton-Bush-Obama continuity), Donald Trump. The writings of Alexander Mercouris are a rare exception to that outlook in the The Duran.
[The author misses two important issues shaping the present situation. One, he only hints at Russia’s longstanding constitutional proposals to the Syrian government to accept Kurdish autonomy. Those proposals remains a key issue; for example, the recent all-Syria congress held in Sochi, Russia in January 2018 created a 150-member constitutional committee to work further on political solutions for Syria’s future.
[Two, he buys into the fiction of U.S.-Turkey conflict over the status of the Kurds in northern Syria. He writes, “[U.S. support to the Kurdish military forces] all but guarantees that the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds – and between Turkey and the U.S. – in Syria will continue and will escalate.” But Turkey and the U.S. know and understand what the other is doing and why. Turkey must put on a show for its domestic population of giving no quarter to the Kurds, while the U.S. is maneuvering to use the Kurds for its interests all the while preparing to betray them. In their Afrin intervention, Russia and Syria are parrying the NATO partners’ moves very well. But it’s all very unstable and dangerous–after all, Turkey is a NATO member, and NATO’s fundamental motto is ‘an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us’.]
Syria ceasefire resolution approved by UN Security Council, no date established for its start, ABC.au.net, from reports in AP and Reuters, Feb 24, 2018
… Sponsors Kuwait and Sweden amended the resolution in a last-minute attempt to satisfy Russia, dropping a demand that the ceasefire take effect in 72 hours.
… There is no set date for the ceasefire to take effect, but the resolution demands that [when and if a ceasefire is implemented] it be followed immediately by access for humanitarian convoys and medical teams to evacuate the critically ill and wounded…
* UN Security Council approves resolution on Feb 24 for 30-day ceasefire in Syria, RT.com, Feb 24, 2018
* Full text of UN Security Council resolution 2401 (2018)
* Security Council demands 30-day cessation of hostilities in Syria to enable humanitarian aid delivery, unanimously adopting resolution 2401 (2018), report by United Nations Press Service, Feb 24, 2018 (includes excerpts of discussion at Feb 24 Security Council meeting which adopted the resolution)
* Right-wing militias in Eastern Ghouta district of Syria’s capital city Damascus disrupt UN Security Council-demanded ceasefire, report on RT.com, Feb 27, 2018
* 150-strong Syrian constitutional committee agreed to at Sochi congress, RT.com, Jan 30, 2018
#Russiagate skeptics take a beating, by Matt Tabibi, Rolling Stone, Feb 22, 2018 We don’t know for sure where the Mueller probe is going, but don’t dare say that out loud
The hysteria over Russian bots has reached new levels, by Thomas Frank, The Guardian, Feb 27, 2018
[This column in the anti-Russia Guardian is an example of the growing numbers of mainstream publications or commentators who are discomforted by the absurdities, if not false claims, of the official investigation of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election in 2016. That investigation is headed by Robert Mueller, the longest-serving head of the FBI and the present head of Special Counsel investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The discomforted are waking up to the civil rights consequences of allowing the FBI and the entire machine of the U.S. state and government (including the Donald Trump part of that) as heroic defenders of democracy.]
The authoritarians who silence Syria questions, by Jonathan Cook, published on his website blog, Feb 27, 2018
… Brian Whitaker’s latest outburst [in The Guardian] is directed against the impudence of a handful of British academics, including experts in the study of propaganda, in setting up a panel – the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media – to “provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers” on Syria. The researchers include Tim Hayward of Edinburgh University and Piers Robinson of Sheffield University…
New cold war hysteria and anti-Slavic racism in full flight in Canada as NATO peddles ‘Canadian Russiagate’: NATO researcher warns of Russian interference in 2019 Canadian election, by Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press, published in state-run CBC News, Feb 27, 2018
Reporter investigating corporate crime in NATO-member Slovakia killed, from reports in AP and Reuters, in ABC.net.au, Feb 25, 2018
[The assassination of 27-year old Jan Kuciak follows the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in NATO-member Malta on October 16, 2017 . She was a leading reporter in that country of corporate crime in Malta and Europe. The latest news of that investigation is here.]
Who murdered Malta’s most famous journalist?, The Atlantic (conservative monthly magazine), Feb 18, 2018 Some member sof the European Parliament are so concerned about the situation in Malta that they have called for the creation of a special rapporteur to monitor the criminal investigation in Malta
… Long before she began investigating the Maltese leads unearthed in the Panama Papers, Caruana Galizia’s one-woman blog, Running Commentary, drove the news cycle in the EU’s smallest member state. She had reported on money laundering, the Italian mafia, and a controversial program begun in 2014 that allows wealthy foreigners to purchase Maltese passports; that program has effectively turned the country into a backdoor to Europe, especially for wealthy Russians. Damning scoops tied the prime minister’s wife, an aide, and one of his ministers to suspicious financial transactions through a Maltese bank to a Panamanian shell company; another scoop alleged that the aide had personally profited from the sale of Maltese passports. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called a snap election last summer following the report about his wife—and won…
Turkey’s march on Manbij in north-central Syria stalled by wall of reality, by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor, Feb 23, 2018[The Al-Monitor writer voices the canard of “Moscow giving Turkey the green light on Afrin” when NATO-member Turkey undertook its invasion of the Afrin region of Syria on January 20. This is another of the frequent voicing in Western media, and by Western ‘leftists’, of the crazy idea that Russia would go to war with a NATO country (Turkey) in order to protect U.S.-allied Kurdish forces. [The writer fails to explain to his readers that two, not just one, NATO country occupying Syrian soil have been dealt serious setbacks by Syrian-Kurdish cooperation in Afrin–Turkey, yes, but also the U.S.]
RT editors still have naive habit of believing Donald Trump’s words, report in RT.com on Feb 23, 2018 titled:’Get ISIS and go home’: Trump bucks Pentagon & State Dept. on ultimate U.S. goal in Syria’
[RT’s news reporting excels that of Western media. It rarely contains downright falsehoods as in the above report. But its columnists too-often intimate that Trump represents some kind of divergence from U.S. imperial policy, while embarassingly, a few columnists are downright pro-Trump.]
Some U.S. proponents of ‘election meddling’ conspiracy accusations against Russia getting cold feet, interview with anti-Russia writer Masha Gessen on anti-Russia Democracy Now!, Feb 23, 2018
[A curious phenomenon is happening amongst some of those in the West who have been peddling the allegations of ‘Russian meddling’ in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The accusations are proving so unfounded and increasingly stale that some of its proponents are taking their distance. An example is the anti-Russia writer Masha Gessen, who resides in the U.S., interviewed by the anti-Russia Democracy Now! outlet on February 23, 2018. Gessen refers to Russia as a “mafia state” and the sub-title of her latest book (written for Western buyers) is ‘How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia’. She is now softpedaling her claims of ‘Russian meddling’ in the 2016 election, telling Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, “It was not bold. It was not sophisticated. And we don’t know and probably never will know whether it had any impact.”
[Goodman, for her part, speaks not of ‘alleged’ Russian meddling but “the Russian election meddling” as established fact. The interview consists of the one playing off the other in their various conspiracies of the supposed actions of the government led by President Vladimir Putin. Here is an example of one of several all-but incomprehensible questions put by Goodman to Gessen: “Also, in terms of the noise that’s out there, I mean, in social media, the amount of people in the United States—and, of course, this is outside, this is foreign influence, but I’m sure there were many others who were doing the same thing—I mean, how significant was this?”]
The real goal of “Russiagate” is to prepare for endless austerity and war, by Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report, Feb 22, 2018
Yanis Varoufakis’s account of the Greek crisis of 2015: A self-incrimination, book review by Eric Toussaint, published in six parts between July 2017 and February 2018
Yanis Varoufakis was the finance minister of Greece during the capitulation of the government of the Syriza party led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to the European Union financial oligarchs. Syriza was elected in January 2015; what followed was a punishing drive by U.S. and European imperialism to crush the left-wing aspirations of the Greek people. Varoufakis published a memoire in 2017 of the experience, titled Adults in the Room: My Battle with the European and American Deep Establishment. Eric Toussaint has published a lengthy review of the book, in six parts beginning in July 2017. Toussaint is the director of the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt, based in Belgium. Parts one to five of the review are located at the weblink above. Part six is published on Feb 20, 2018, here: Tsipras move towards the disastrous agreement with the Eurogroup of 20 February 2015.
Related: A modern Greek tragedy, book review by Adam Tooze, published in the New York Review of Books, print edition of March 8, 2018. Reviewing: Adults in the Room: My Battle with the European and American Deep Establishment, by Yanis Varoufakis, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017, 550 pp
There was a ‘good guy with a gun’ at the Parkland High School shooting in Florida. He did nothing, by Elliot Hannon, Slate.com, Feb 22, 2018 In response to the shooting at the Florida high school where 14 students and three staff were killed on February 14, Donald Trump is advocating an arms race in U.S. schools
Related: The American gun glut is a problem for the entire world, by Jonah Shepp, New York Magazine, Feb 23, 2018
James Risen and Glenn Greenwald debate opposing views on ‘Russiagate’, one-hour broadcast on The Intercept’s ‘Intercepted’ program, with host Jeremy Scahill, Feb 22, 2018 (Jeremy Scahill is a co-founder of The Intercept and a proponent of anti-Russia prejudice.) See below Glenn Greenwald’s February 20, 2018 article, ‘A consensus emerges: Russia committed an ‘act of war’ on par with Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Should the U.S. response be similar?’)
[Under questionsing by James Risen, Glenn Greenwald states “I think there is now some evidence that Russia [sic] did things in the  election to [the sentence is not finished]. The Mueller [FBI] indictment says it was to sow divisions in the United States…When you ask me now, do I believe Russia played a role in the election [cites the Mueller claims of 13 Russian individuals using social media to infuence U.S. citizens’ views]. I still don’t see any evidence… that Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s emails…”]
How charity Oxfam allowed sex abuse in ailing countries like Haiti, panel discussion on Democracy Now!, Feb 21, 2018 Discussion with Sean O’Neill, chief reporter at The Times newspaper in London, which broke the story of the Oxfam and Save the Children scandals; the Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat; and Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. Broadcast in two parts.
* Oxfam received 26 new reports of alleged sexual misconduct after Haiti scandal emerged, MPs told, by Lizzie Dearden, The Independent, Feb 21, 2018
* OXFAM scandal sparks fears of crisis in aid sector, by Paul Waldie, Globe and Mail, Feb 21, 2018 (you can read the article here in pdf format: OXFAM scandal sparks fears of crisis in aid sector)
[In the Democracy Now! broadcast, there is no discussion of how Haiti has been stripped of its national sovereignty over the years and decades by imperialist intervention (the United States, Europe, Canada). Yet the only path to end the brutal exploitation of women and girls in countries such as Haiti are policies of national and social development, duly implemented by a national, democratic government.
[As we have known and are learning anew, even the charities of the imperialist countries, leave alone their armies, promulgate extreme exploitation of women and girls. Political and business leaders in the imperialist countries along with their pliant media turn a blind eye. In Haiti, the ‘blind eye’ operated following the 2004 paramilitary coup and has done so again as the failed 2010 earthquake response program rolled out.]
A consensus emerges: Russia committed an ‘act of war’ on par with Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Should the U.S. response be similar?, by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Feb 20, 2018
… All of this underscores the serious dangers many have pointed to for more than a year about why all this unhinged rhetoric is so alarming. If you really believe that Russia — with some phishing links sent to Podesta and some fake Facebook ads and Twitter bots — committed an “act of war” of any kind, let alone one on par with Pearl Harbor and 9/11, then it’s inevitable that extreme retaliatory measures will be considered and likely triggered…
Syria pro-government forces enter Afrin to aid Kurds against Turkey, Reuters, Feb 21, 2018
[News reports are very sketchy about political agreements underlying the military moves which have seen pro-Syria government and Kurdish military forces come together in Afrin, northwest Syria to block further military advances into the region by Turkey. The Turkish government and its pro-government media are understandably denying that any agreements have taken place or that pro-Syrian government forces have entered Afrin.
[The situation is a huge domestic political setback to the Turkish government. In the time-honored tradition of all military invaders, the government is telling the Turkish population that all is going swimmingly for its forces in northern Syria. Meanwhile, the Western ‘leftists’ that have been backing or turning a blind eye to the military buildup and regime-change intentions in Syria of the United States and its ally Israel can be expected to keep silent over these latest developments. That’s because events in Syria continue to flatly contradict everything the leftists have said for years about the Syrian government and its allies Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon. The leftists have claimed that a ‘popular revolution’ has been taking place against the Syrian government and that an ‘imperialist’ Russia has joined the Syrian government in suppressing it. In reality, the Syrian ‘popular revolution’ is similar to the ‘revolution’ in Ukraine which overthrew that country’s elected president in February 2014–both are spearheaded by extreme-right forces armed and supported by Western imperialism.]
Oxfam’s Haiti sex scandal, by Isabelle Papillon, Haiti Liberté (print weekly), Feb 14, 2018
[Liberal journalists in The Guardian as well as The Independent‘s Patrick Cockburn have leapt to the defense of OXFAM International following revelations that OXFAM’s country director and others engaged prostitutes as they joined the rest of the world’s aid and charity industries in descending on Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake. The Guardian editorialized on February 12: “The debauchery of the Haiti sex parties [by OXFAM staff] is outrageous. But it must not be allowed to overshadow the courage and compassion of thousands of aid workers, nor the value of aid itself.”
[CounterPunch has reprinted Patrick Cockburn’s commentary. In it, he wrote, “Compare the lack of interest shown by the international media, politicians and assorted celebrities to this man-made calamity [outbreak of cholera in Haiti in October 2010], leading to the death of thousands of Haitians, to the hysterical outrage [emphasis added] expressed about Oxfam officials consorting with prostitutes in Haiti in 2011.”
[Cockburn shows his ignorance of the 2010 earthquake right off the bat in his column when he cites a figure of “220,000” earthquake deaths. Inflated figures such as that one ( ‘300,000’ was another popular figure bandied about by international agencies without the slightest documented proof) showed disrespect to the actual victims, who numbered 40,000 to 70,000. The inflated numbers were part of the fundraising effort of the aid and charity industries. Meanwhile, Cockburn’s insinuation that OXFAM has campaigned on behalf of the victims of the cholera epidemic introduced by United Nations occupation forces is risible. The agency’s Quebec outlet supported the 2004 paramilitary coup which brought UN soldiers to Haiti in the first place.
[OXFAM’s Haiti-induced crisis is far from over. It will be very difficult now to keep under wraps further scandalous revelations.]
From PyeongChang Olympics to lasting peace, by Hyun Lee, managing editor, Zoom In Korea, Feb 16, 2018
The FBI’s Robert Mueller, Russia and oil politics, by Rob Urie, CounterPunch, Feb 19, 2018
… The indictments [by the FBI of 13 individuals living in Russia] are a major political story, but not for the reasons given in mainstream press coverage. Once Mr. Mueller’s indictment is understood to charge the exploitation of existing social tensions (read it and decide for yourself), the FBI, which Mr. Mueller directed from 2001 – 2013, is precisely the wrong entity to be rendering judgment.
… It is the FBI’s legacy of conflating dissent with being an agent of a foreign power that Mr. Mueller’s indictment most insidiously perpetuates. Russians are ‘sowing discord,’ and they are using Americans to do so, goes the allegation. Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders are listed in the indictment as roadblocks to the unfettered ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency. Russians are sowing discord, therefore discord is both suspect in itself and evidence of being a foreign agent…
Merchants of death: America’s toxic cult of violence turns deadly, by John W. Whitehead, published in his column on the website of The Rutherford Institute, Feb 19, 2018 (John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute, in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.)
Kurdish militias in Afrin join forces with Syria government-allied forces to resist Turkey’s military intervention, report in Telesur, Feb 19, 2018
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are arriving in the northern Syria region of Afrin to support the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) against an ongoing Turkish military operation. Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports that “popular forces” loyal to the Syrian president would arrive in Afrin “within a few hours to support its people’s stand against the Turkish regime’s attack on the area and its people.” …
* Reports on February 18, 2018 in anti-Russia/anti-Syria media: Middle East Eye, and Deutsche Welle
* U.S must immediately leave area it controls in southern Syria, declares Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, RT.com, Feb 19, 2018
Ten signs we’re heading for ‘economic armageddon’, warns former economic advisor to Australian government, by Liam Dann, business editor, New Zealand Herald (largest daily newspaper in New Zealand), Feb 11, 2018 (with graphs and three-minute interview with Liam Dann) Read here in pdf format: Ten signs of economic armeggeddon
A Canadian arms manufacturer hopes to re-equip Ukraine’s military with new assault rifles as that country tries to set the stage to join NATO while at the same time battling Russian-backed rebels. Colt Canada of Kitchener, Ont., is chasing a deal that could see Ukraine order up to 100,000 rifles.
[The National Post here repeats the canard that Ukraine is battling “seperatists” in eastern Ukraine. It cannot bring itself to explain the truth, which is that since April 2014, the people of eastern Ukraine are defending themselves against a military incursion by an extreme-right governing regime in Kyiv that is backed to the hilt by NATO.]
At Munich Security Conference, China reiterates policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, Xinhua news agency, in Straits Times (Malaysia), Feb 18, 2018
… “I share and express the concern about the danger [of nuclear weapons prolifertion]” Fu Ying told a panel discussion at the conference in Munich. She is a veteran diplomat and chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress of China.
Former U.S. vice president vaunts sanctions and NATO pressure against Russia in threatening speech to Munich Security Conference, news analysis by Alexandre Antonov, RT.com, Feb 17, 2018
* Trump’s national security advisor tells Munich Security Conference that Russian ‘meddling’ is beyond dispute, scoffs at idea of cooperation on security issues, Associated Press, Feb 17, 2018
* Trump’s national security chief calls Russian interference ‘incontrovertible’, by David Sanger, New York Times, Saturday, Feb 17, 2018
… The evidence of a Russian effort to interfere in the election “is now incontrovertible,” General H.R. McMaster said at the Munich Security Conference, an annual meeting of European and American diplomats and security experts, including several senior Russian officials. On Friday, just hours before the indictment, the top White House official for cyberissues accused Russia of “the most destructive cyberattack in human history,” against Ukraine last summer.
Taken together, the statements appeared to mark a major turn [sic] in the administration’s willingness to directly confront the government of President Vladimir V. Putin. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo also attended the Munich conference, and while they did not speak publicly, in private meetings with others here they reiterated similar statements.
The comments highlighted a sharp division [sic] inside the administration about how to talk about the [sic] Russian covert efforts…
Students and teachers in U.S. call for national day of protest against gun violence following Feb 14 killings of 14 students and three staff at Florida high school, Common Dreams, Feb 17, 2018
[Student activists and teacher representatives in the United States have called for a national day of protest in U.S. cities on April 20 against gun violence. This includes a planned march on Washington DC. April 20 is the anniversary date of the gun massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.]
Related: Speech by student from Stoneman Douglas High School makes powerful plea for gun control, Common Dreams, Feb 17, 2018
Pentagon seeks massive boost in bomb budget for Iraq and Syria, by Jack Detsch, Al-Monitor, Feb 15, 2018
The Trump administration is seeking nearly $2 billion in precision-guided weapons for the Iraq and Syria battlefields as the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) faces increased threats [sic] from forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad. That’s 20 per cent more than the Pentagon spent on munitions in all Middle East war zones in 2017…
Russians spooked by U.S. cyber-attack policy which threatens nuclear retaliation, by Ray McGovern and William Binney, Consortium News, Feb 16, 2018
Moscow is showing understandable concern over the lowering of the threshold for employing nuclear weapons to include retaliation for cyber-attacks, a change announced on Feb. 2 in the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)…
* Anti-Trumpists use Mueller indictments to escalate tensions with nuclear-armed Russia, by Caitlin Johnstone, Consortium News, Feb 17, 2018 Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 alleged members of a Russian troll farm is leading to calls for escalation with Russia, exacerbating tensions that are already at historic – and dangerous – lows.
* The New York Times’ ‘really weird’ Russiagate story, by Daniel Lazare, Consortium News, Feb 16, 2018
… Even Matthew Rosenberg, the Times reporter who wrote the story, described it as “a really weird one” in an interview with Slate. More than merely weird, however, the piece offers valuable insight into the parallel universe that is Russiagate, one in which logic is absent, neo-McCarthyism is rampant, and evidence means whatever the corporate press wants it to mean.
… The results are incoherent even by Times standards. One reason may be that Rosenberg dashed the story off at breakneck speed after long-time intelligence writer and former Times-man James Risen published a similar piece a few hours earlier in The Intercept. But another is that the Russiagate narrative that the Times is pushing is itself incoherent and that Rosenberg is guilty of nothing more than toeing the company line.
Amazon is a 21st-century digital chain gang, by Marshall Auerback, Alternet, Jan 26, 2018
The ongoing persecution of Julian Assange, by John Wight, published on Medium.com, Feb 15, 2018
U.S. escalates Syrian war, by Margaret Kimberley, editor and senior columnist, Black Agenda Report, Feb 14, 2018
A faction of Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) led by Selin Sayek Boke urges ‘extraordinary opposition’ to stop Erdogan, by Sibel Hurtas, Al-Monitor, Feb 14, 2018
Kurdistan Regional Government delegation arrives in Afrin, Syria as Turkey offensive softens Kurdish split, by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Feb 13, 2018
Russian military contractors killed by US strike in Syria, Associated Press, Feb 13, 2018
An unknown number of private Russian military contractors were killed by a U.S. strike in Syria, Russian media reported on Tuesday, February 13 in a development that could further inflame Russia-U.S. tensions. Officials in both Moscow and Washington remained coy about the deaths, which would be an embarrassment for both countries if it turns out that Russian fighters were part of a unit that attacked a military force with American troops. The U.S. attack reportedly took place in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.
Last week, the U.S. military said it unleashed air and artillery barrages on Syrian government-backed troops after some 300 attackers launched what appeared to be a coordinated assault on Syrian opposition forces accompanied by U.S. advisers in the province of Deir el-Zour…
The Russian Defense Ministry has insisted that its troops weren’t involved in the incident, saying 25 Syrian volunteers were wounded in the U.S. strike. It also noted pro-government forces that advanced toward the area under control of the U.S.-supported forces had failed to coordinate their action with the Russian military in Syria…
Related: Foreign Ministry refutes reports about Russians killed in Syria, TASS Russian news agency, Feb 14, 2018
Reports on hundreds or dozens of Russians killed in Syria are misinformation, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told TASS on Wednesday. “Reports on hundreds, dozens fatalities in Syria disseminated by some Western media outlets are classic misinformation,” the source said. [End of TASS report.]
[French president contradicts Western government and media propaganda when he says France has ‘no proof’ of chemical weapons use by Syria gov’t. But Emmanuel Macron’s threat creates risk of chemical weapon provocation.]
UK judge upholds UK arrest warrant for Julian Assange, tears into his defense, report on Courthouse News, Feb 13, 2018
[Most mainstream reporting of the UK judge’s Feb 13 decision are keeping silent on Sweden’s dropping of criminal charges against Julian Assange in May 2017 and the revelation only days ago that Swedish prosecutors acknowledged in 2013 that Sweden’s seeking of extradition of Assange from the UK would not hold legally (see below the Feb 12, 2018 report by Jonathan Cook). Those which mention the dropping of charges dismiss its significance, for example Paul Waldie’s reporting from London in the Globe and Mail. One of the few mainstream reports to acknowledge all this is in The Guardian, Feb 13, 2018.]
No proof of doping does not mean innocence, says secretary general of Court of Arbitration for Sport on banning of Russian athletes from Pyeongchang Olympics, RT.com, Feb 13, 2018
Trump’s $4.4 trillion budget proposal boosts defense and immigration control, cuts benefit programs and environmental measures, by Justin Sink, Bloomberg News, Feb 13, 2018
… The Pentagon would see an $80 billion increase in its budget, up 13 percent. Entitlement programs would see a $1.7 trillion cut over a decade, including $237 billion from Medicare.
… Any president’s budget proposal is customarily dismissed by Congress — which controls the government’s purse strings, under the Constitution — as a dead-on-arrival wish list. That’s especially true with this year’s document. Just last week, Congress passed its own bipartisan two-year budget agreement that increased caps for both domestic and defense spending.
Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that Trump’s proposal “is a messaging document. The executive budget has always been a messaging document” …
Related: Trump’s tax cuts near peak of the industrial cycle may precipitate, not head off, a new overproduction crisis, by Jon Britton, published in Liberation (U.S.), Feb 11, 2018
What we’ve learned from year one of Russiagate, by Aaron Maté, published in The Nation, Feb 12, 2018
… As high-level officials and investigators have repeatedly acknowledged, there is still no evidence so far of coordination between the Trump orbit and the Russian government over the release of stolen e-mails or any other campaign matter. There is only a curious cast of characters that makes for an unlikely conspiracy…
Shaun Walker, the Moscow correspondent at The Guardian, has a new book out, entitled The Long Hangover: Putin’s New Russia and the Ghosts of the Past. It advances the thesis that … this is where I run into a problem because he never explicitly says what his thesis is. But it’s sort of something like this: in an effort to unite the Russian people and raise the country’s patriotic spirit, Vladimir Putin has focused on a narrative of victory, above all victory in the Second World War. This focus has contributed to a situation in which Russians have failed to come to terms with the negative aspects of their Soviet past. This in turn helped to provoke and sustain the war in Ukraine…
Russia’s media scene: Not just a state affair, by Fred Weir, Christian Science Monitor, Feb 6, 2018
Growing U.S. poverty and inequality: Statement by by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, following a two-week investigative visit to the United States, published on the website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR), Dec 15, 2017
Related: The water runs milky and can feel like fire. In this impoverished Kentucky county, Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan may not help, by Jenny Jarvie, LA Times, Feb 12, 2018
Saakashvili was a big supporter of Ukraine’s right-wing ‘Maidan’ revolution in 2013-14. In 2015, he was granted Ukrainian citizenship and appointed governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region by President Petro Poroshenko. He resigned the post in November 2016, calling Poroshenko’s NATO-backed government hopelessly corrupt. His deportation on Monday came a week after a court in Kiev rejected his appeal against extradition to Georgia, where he faces three years behind bars on charges of illegally pardoning police officers accused of murder. He was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013. In 2008, he provoked a military clash with Russia, expecting NATO to rush to his aid. But instead, Georgia’s armed forces were thrashed.
The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey elects two new co-leaders to replace those arrested in 2016, Press TV, Feb 11, 2018 [32,000 (!) people streamed into the one-day party congress in Istanbul on February 11.]
Related: Portraits of the new co-leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli, by Sezin Oney, Ahval news agency, Feb 10, 2018
The preceeding, interim female co-leader of the HDP, Serpil Kemalbay, has been issued a detention order by the NATO-member Turkish government for opposing Turkey’s military intervention into Afrin, northern Syria beginning in December 2017. She replaced Figen Yüksekdag who was jailed in November 2016, along with co-leader Selahattin Demirtas. Yüksekdag’s Parliamentary immunity was removed by a Turkish court in February 2017.
The UK’s hidden role in Julian Assange’s continued detention, by Jonathan Cook, published on his website blog, Feb 12, 2018
It now emerges that the last four years of Julian Assange’s effective imprisonment in the Ecuadorean embassy in London have been entirely unnecessary. In fact, they depended on a legal charade. Behind the scenes, Sweden wanted to drop the extradition case against Assange back in 2013. Why was this not made public? Because Britain persuaded Sweden to pretend that the two still wished to pursue the case…
Syria denounces ‘new aggression’ after U.S. warplanes bomb government forces on February 8, by Jon Queally, Common Dreams, Feb 8, 2018
* Israel, Syria, Iran clash in the skies, by Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Feb 11, 2018 [Amidst a dearth of factual reporting about Israel’s aerial attacks against Syria on February 10 and its the longer-term intentions of the U.S.and Israel, this account in Al-Monitor voices a positive spin (‘Iran made us do it’) on Israel’s aggression.] * Syria’s downing of F-16 jet sent warning message to Israel, news analysis in Press TV, Feb 10, 2018
* Israel, beware!, commentary in Press TV, Feb 11, 2018
U.S. vice-president’s bid to isolate North Korea at Olympics falls flat, by Zeke Miller and Matthew Pennington, Associated Press, Feb 9, 2018
Related: Is South Korea straying off the U.S. leash in its recent relations with the north?, by Ramsey Liam posted on Zoom In Korea, Feb 9, 2018 (Ramsay Liem is Professor Emeritus and Visiting Scholar, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College.)
Review of Raoul Peck’s ‘The Young Marx’, film review by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed by Scott McLemee, Feb 2, 2018
Opioids and alcohol lead Americans into ‘depths of despair’, by Melissa Healey, LA Times, Feb 8, 2018
An epidemic of despair is disproportionately claiming the lives of rural white Americans in the prime of adulthood. And for a second year in a row, their deaths by drugs, drink and self-destruction have caused life expectancy in the United States to fall….
North Korea’s scientific and economic advances, a four-part series by Kim Soobok, published in Zoom In Korea in early February 2018. Kim Soobok traveled and researched in North Korea for this series between 2012 and 2015.
- Introduction, February 6, 2018
- Part 1: Science and technology as the path to economic progress, Feb 6, 2018
- Part 2: Watering the fields: A two-decade struggle, Feb 7, 2018
To be continued. Watch this space or go to Zoom In Korea in the coming days for parts three and four.
Opening ceremonies of winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea: An opening for peace, by Bruce Arthur, sports writer, Toronto Star, Feb 8, 2018
Related: Korean ‘Olympic truce’ fosters hope for detente, but would current world order allow it?, unsigned commentary on RT.com, Feb 10, 2018
Talks suspended in Dominican Republic between Venezuela government and opposition, by Rachael Boothroyd Rojas, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 8, 2018
Dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the country’s anti-Chavista opposition collapsed Tuesday, after opposition representatives refused to sign an official political agreement outlining a framework for democratic coexistence between the two warring political forces. The country is headed to a presidential election on April 22…
* Text of the political agreement agreed by the Venezuela government but rejected (for now) by the right-wing opposition, Telesur, Feb 8, 2017
* European Parliament calls for more sanctions on Venezuela, says it won’t recognize outcome of April 22 presidential election, by Ryan Mallett Outtrim, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 9, 2018
Russiagate and the surveillance duopoly, by Margaret Kimberley, published in her ‘Freedom Rider’ column in Black Agenda Report, Feb 7, 2018
‘We must oppose the surveillance state altogether and we should not be tricked by duopoly theatrics into thinking that either of the evil twins are acting in our interests.’
Related: The FISA memo is not a big nothing-burger, it’s a whopper with fries, by Ann Garrison, Black Agenda Report, Feb 7, 2018
Venezuela: Presidential election date set for April 22, by Rachael Boothroyd Rojas, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 8, 2018
… Current President Nicolas Maduro Moros is set to stand for re-election on behalf of the leftist We Are Venezuela party, the Socialist Unified Party (PSUV) and other smaller leftist parties allied to the government party.
* Venezuela’s Maduro launches new political party, by Lucas Koerner, Venezuela Analysis, Jan 29, 2018
* Venezuelan leftist parties mull backing Maduro for reelection, by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, Jan 30, 2018
Venezuelan Constituent Assembly approves workers’ councils law, by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 3, 2018
Related: Venezuelan workers allege persecution, trade union leaders arrested, by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 7, 2018
Life expectancy in the U.S. drops for a second year in a year, drug poisonings and suicides are leading causes, USA Today, Feb 8, 2018
The New York Times (and a lot of other people) want you to believe that NATO allies U.S. and Turkey could come to blows in northern Syria, report in New York Times titled ‘On Northern Syria front line, U.S. and Turkey head into tense face-off’, Feb 7, 2018
[Like the Trump presidency itself, the U.S. and Turkish interventions in Syria are an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors to further Western interests. Only the naive believe that NATO’s and Turkey’s interests are at odds.]
Contrary to Western media speculation, North Korea says it is not interested in meeting U.S. Vice President Mike Pence while he is in South Korea for the Pyeongchang Olympics, report by Associated Press, Feb 8, 2018
U.S. House of Representatives approves release of Democrats’ memo answering Nunes memo released on Feb 2, RT.com, Feb 7, 2018
The House Intelligence Committee has voted to publish the memo authored by the Democrats challenging last week’s majority report about the FBI and DOJ abuses of surveillance powers to spy on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign…
Stephen Cohen speaks on the memo released by Representative Devin Nunes on Feb 2: ‘Not Russiagate but Intelgate’, interview with Stephen Cohen on ABC Australia, Feb 5, 2018 Donald Trump claims the FBI abused its surveillance powers investigating his campaign’s possible Russia ties. Russia scholar Stephen Cohen says the Nunes memo shows ‘Russiagate without Russia’.
Stock market drop: Is it 1987, 2007 or 1937?, by Michael Roberts (Marxist economist), published on his website, Feb 6, 2018
Yesterday, the US stock market fell by the most in one day since mid-2007, just before the credit crunch, the banking crash and the start of the Great Recession…
Washington’s ‘crackpot’ nuclear posture endangers the world to an alarming degree, commentary by Finian Cunningham, published on RT.com, Feb 6, 2018
* Head of Nobel Peace Prize-winning group: Trump’s nuclear policy ‘puts us on the path to nuclear war’, interview with Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Feb 5, 2018 (audio interview and transcript)
A treaty intended to limit the United States and Russia’s long-range nuclear arsenals officially takes effect today. But the once-promising treaty, signed eight years ago by President Obama, is overshadowed by a new nuclear arms race sparked by President Trump. On Friday, the Trump administration unveiled its new nuclear weapons strategy, which involves spending at least $1.2 trillion to upgrade the United States’ nuclear arsenal, including developing some completely new nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Posture Review calls for developing low-yield warheads, which critics say blur the lines between the nuclear and non-nuclear weapons…
* U.S. continues to develop monster, non-nuclear bombs, including for use against Korea, report by Michael Klare, The Nation, Feb 7, 2018
* No time for complacency over Korea war threat, by Jonathan Marshall, Consortium News, Feb 7, 2018 Although the North Korea crisis has largely faded from the headlines, the chances of war breaking out are still unacceptably high – requiring greater attention from both the peace movement and Congress.
David Harvey denies imperialism, by John Smith, published in Review of African Political Economy, Feb 7, 2018 (John Smith is the author of Imperialism in the 21st Century, published by Monthly Review Press in 2016)
[David Harvey is a highly regarded Marxist economist, but his wrong-headed analysis of modern-day imperialism as explained here by John Smith underlines the frail state of analyses of contemporary imperialism by contemporary Marxists. Smith’s essay is perhaps a case of the pot calling the kettle black, for Smith’s highly-praised and valuable 2016 book nevertheless refrains from making any analysis of contemporary Russia. Is present-day Russia imperialist or not? Smith apparently decided that this crucially important question is not so important.]
UK court rejects Assange attempt to quash arrest warrant, RTE (Ireland), Feb 6, 2018
… Mr Assange, 46, has been holed up inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than five years because he fears extradition to the United States. If he were to leave, he would face arrest by British police for skipping bail in June 2012 by seeking refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face an allegation of rape, which he denied.
The Swedish case has since been dropped but in the eyes of the British authorities Mr Assange remains in breach of his bail conditions.
… The judge said she would issue a further ruling on 13 February on whether the arrest warrant for Mr Assange for breaching his bail conditions should be kept in place. His lawyers made a new application asking her to consider whether it is in the “public interest” to maintain it.
Related: Arrest warrant upheld in Julian Assange case, new hearing on February 13, RT.com, Feb 6, 2018
… According to Assange, only the first technical point of his legal challenge has failed. Judges will hear and decide on the other points on Tuesday afternoon [February 6] and if Assange wins any of them, the warrant falls. He wrote on Twitter, “Wall to wall fake news stating stating the government won today’s hearing. Nothing of the sort has happened. The hearing is still happening. Only one point has been ruled on.”
Poland’s president Andrzej Duda to sign controversial Holocaust bill into law, report by Reuters, Feb 6, 2018 The bill imposes jail terms for suggesting Poland was complicit in the Holocaust
Trump ‘national defense’ plan calls for new nuclear weapons, by Jacqueline Klimas, Politico, Feb 2, 2018
* Trump nuclear policy will adopt more aggressive stance toward Russia, CBS News, Feb 2, 2018
* Trump nuclear doctrine takes tougher stance on Russia, Associated Press, Feb 4, 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Friday announced it will continue much of the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy, but take a more aggressive stance toward Russia. It said Russia must be convinced it would face “unacceptably dire costs” if it were to threaten even a limited nuclear attack in Europe…
* The new U.S. defense strategy: War with great nations and a new arms race, by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, published in the weekly newsletter of Popular Resistance (U.S.), Feb 4, 2018
The frightening far-right militia that’s marching in Ukraine’s streets, promising to bring ‘order’, by Anna Nemtsova, The Daily Beast, Feb 5, 2018
[The Daily Beast and its anti-Russia correspondent Anna Nemtsova provide an insight into the reign of terror which the far right in Ukraine is exercising over the country’s political life. But the Daily Beast cannot resist adding a bizarre and gratuitous anti-Russia twist in the form of a sub-headline reading ‘Russia loves these guys’. The Beast and Nemtsova also dare not ask the question: ‘Why are Western media and governments, not to speak of the Western left, silent over the far-right phenomenon in Ukraine?]
Turkey tackles two roles in Syria: peacemaker, provocateur, by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor, Feb 3, 2018
Revenge of the International Olympic Committee: IOC decides ‘not to invite’ to the 2018 games in Pyeongchang 15 of the 28 Russian athletes recently cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport of 2014 doping accusations, RT.com, Feb 5, 2018
… In its February 1 decision, the Court of Arbitration for Sport unanimously ruled there was not enough evidence against the 28 Russian athletes to conclude they had committed any anti-doping rule violations. Their appeals against Olympic bans were fully satisfied, while the request to reexamine the cases of another 11 were only “partially upheld”.
The CAS ruling meant the cleared athletes are technically eligible to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In addition, their medals won at the 2014 games in Sochi. Russia were reinstated, propelling Russia back to the top of the overall medal count…
Academics who serve as Israel’s useful idiots, by Jonathan Cook, published on his website blog, Feb 5, 2018 (Jonathan Cook resides in Nazareth and reports extensively from Israel-Palestine on his website.)
No anti-aircraft weapons were sent to ‘our’ Syrian rebels, Pentagon says after downing of Russian jet, RT.com, Feb 4, 2018
… The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier the jet was attacked from the ground by rebels possibly using a man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) in the designated ceasefire zone in Idlib province.
Democrats now love George Bush and the FBI more than Republicans do, commentary by Danielle Ryan, RT.com, Feb 3, 2018
Related: ‘Mind-bending’ reversal now has Dems defending FBI, Bush, by Alex Roarty, McClatchy News, Feb 5, 2018
Row over NATO-member Poland’s ‘we’re innocent’ Holocaust law: Angry Israel calls off visit by Polish security chief, RT.com, Feb 2, 2018
Reversal of Olympics convictions of Russian athletes shows an inept ‘Russian doping’ saga, unsigned commentary on RT.com, Feb 2, 2018
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has cleared 28 Russian athletes and dropped their life-bans over alleged doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Their results have been reinstated and the athletes are eligible to compete in the 2018 Winter Games… The court also partially upheld the appeals of other 11 Russian athletes as the evidence collected “was found to be sufficient to establish an individual ADRV [anti-doping rule violation].”
… More than 40 Russian athletes, including Sochi Olympic champions, were slapped with life bans from the IOC and had their Sochi records annulled as punishment for alleged doping violations in Sochi…
Western media turns its gunsights on the Court of Arbitration for Sport following its ruling reversing doping convictions of Russian athletes
[For several years, Canada’s state-run news broadcaster, the CBC, has pushed for a ban of Russian athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Its reporting has featured the campaigning of former International Olympics Committee member Dick Pound. He was part of the IOC when doping went rampant at the Olympics. He led the appeal to prevent Ben Johnson from being stripped of his gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics.
[In its print and broadcasting reporting of the CAS ruling, the CBC is highlighting the original accusations against the athletes, not how and why the arbitration court found those accusations lacking. An Associated Press report published on CBC on February 1 highlights the views of a U.S. athlete who says the court decision means “the integrity of sport is on the line”. Canadian luge athlete Sam Edney is cited as tweeting, “Above anything else, this is a very very very dark day for the Olympics.”
[The CAS decision casts new light on the accusation which lies at the center of the movement to ban or restrict Russia’s participation in the Olympics, namely the existence or not of an organized scheme by Russian government and sporting officials to manipulate doping control samples in the laboratory at the 2014 winter games in Sochi. The case against Russia was largely built on the testimony of the former head of its drug testing laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov. In 2016, he received special permission from the U.S. government to move to the United States. A February 1, 2018 report in the New York Times cites Rodchenkov’s U.S. lawyer: “Clean sport is dead. The CAS decision proves that certain countries can get away with anything and everything. Today’s decision will forever stand as the low point in sports integrity.” ESPN reports that the CAS received testimony from Rodchenkov in making its decision.
[The IOC itself is criticizing the CAS decision.]
Ankara-Moscow dealings still tangled as Idlib smoke clears, by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Jan 31, 2018
… Kivanc believes that at a certain point, Russia, Syria and Iran will inevitably combine forces to root out all the jihadis in Idlib and that Turkey will find itself facing a new wave of refugees. What will Turkey do then with its Free Syrian Army allies, and what will happen to some 10,000 al-Qaeda-linked Uighur Turk fighters?
The doomsday machine: Confessions of nuclear planner Daniel Ellsberg, book review by Thomas Powers, published in New York Review of Books, Jan 18, 2018 Reviewing: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, by Daniel Ellsberg, Bloomsbury, 420 pp (Interview on CBC Radio One, 45 minutes, with Daniel Ellsberg on Feb 1, 2018, here.)
Trump’s state of the union speech: Long on theater, short on policy, by Jack Rasmus, published on his website, Jan 31, 2018
Now the U.S. is playing spoiler role in Korea, Syria and elsewhere. But why?, by Patrick Lawrence, published in Salon.com, Jan 28, 2018 (Patrick Lawrence is Salon’s foreign affairs columnist. )
Washington can’t adjust to losing its role as global sheriff, and the entire world must bear the consequences
Trump signs executive order to keep Guantanamo Bay gulag open, embracing the original sin of the ‘swamp’ he said he would drain, by Noa Yachot, senior editor, American Civil Liberties Union, Jan 31, 2018
* State of the Union address: Donald Trump uses tragedy and despair to sell his message, by Philip Williams, chief foreign correspondent, ABC.net.au, Jan 30, 2018
* The Pentagon is planning for war with China and Russia — can it handle both?, by Aaron Mehta, Defense News, Jan 30, 2018 [‘Oh, did we neglect to mention Iran in our headline?’] * From Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech on January 30, 2018: “As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and so powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else. Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, sadly.”
The Russians are coming! Send money quickly!, commentary by Tomasz Pierscionek, published in the ‘Op Edge’ feature of RT.com, Jan 31, 2018 (Tomasz Pierscionek is editor of the London Progressive Journal)
The U.S. list of Russian oligarchs is a disgrace, by Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg News, Jan 30, 2018 [In which Bloomberg‘s Leonid Bershidsky laments that the U.S. list of wealthy Russians threatened with more sanctions should be more accurate and effective. “The Treasury list, copied uncritically from a Forbes Russia list, shows the Trump administration isn’t serious about sanctions.”]
Related: ‘It’s like the Americans just copied the phonebook’: Russian officials respond to the U.S. government’s new ‘Kremnlin list’, published on Meduza, Jan 30, 2018
Final statement of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress held in Sochi, Russia Jan 29, 30, 2018, published on the website of the Russia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan 30, 2018
* Sergei Lavrov’s comments to media following the close of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, Russia, published on the website of the Russia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan 30, 2018
* Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a plenary meeting of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, Sochi, January 30, 2018, published on the website of the Russia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan 30, 2018
Battle for strategic Syrian peak continues, by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Jan 29, 2018
… Turkish-led forces capturing territory by day only to lose it to the Kurds by night is becoming something of a pattern [in Afrin, northern Syria], testing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bullish pledges to drive the YPG out of the more than half of Turkey’s 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Syria that remains under Syrian Kurdish control.
Turkey’s image is already in tatters because of Erdogan’s brutal crackdown on dissidents, including scores of Kurdish leaders. It is fast losing the propaganda war over Afrin. Much of the global media coverage is highlighting the growing number of civilian casualties, including women and children, killed in wave upon wave of Turkish airstrikes. Social media is awash with images of charred babies who allegedly perished in Turkish attacks.
The monitoring group Airwars reports, “From the start of operations on January 20th to January 28th, at least 41 to 55 civilian deaths have been assessed by Airwars as likely caused by Turkish-backed forces, along with an estimated 10 to 15 civilian fatalities tied to Kurdish counterfire.” Turkish bombs have also reportedly damaged an ancient temple built by the Arameans in the first millennium B.C. that is part of Afrin’s rich archaeological heritage…
Related: Stop Turkey’s war against Afrin region of Syria, statement signed by several hundred politicians and other activists in Australia, January-February 2018
Hundreds killed in Afrin, including civilians, says Russia, by Rudaw news agency (Kurdish Iraq), Jan 30, 2018
… The death toll in Turkey’s military operation in Afrin stands at several hundred, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, which denied “betraying” the Kurds in northern Syria, hinting that the blame lies with the United States. Hundreds have been killed and civilians are among the dead, Maria Zakharova, foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a press conference on Wednesday.
… Zakharova said Russia is seriously concerned about the situation in northern Syria and urged all parties to show restraint. Responding to accusations that Russia had betrayed Kurds by not preventing Turkey’s operation, she implied the United States should carry responsibility.
“We would like to note that it was not us who consistently created the conditions in northern Syria that Turkey considered a threat to its national security. We are not responsible for impeding the restoration of legitimate Syrian government’s control in that region,” she stated.
… “It was not us who has been building up forces in these areas to perform functions that belong solely to the Syrian state, and thus inciting separatism,” Zakharova stated. She stressed Russia’s commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected…
Russia’s role in Afrin, Syria, commentary by Maxim A. Suchkov, Al-Monitor, Jan 29, 2018
Russia was first to propose the concept of including Kurdish autonomy in a new Syrian constitution, which, back in the day, perturbed Turkey and excited the Kurds. Russia believes the issue of Kurdish autonomy should also be negotiated. Therefore, the popular line of criticism about “Russia betraying the Kurds” doesn’t seem to bother Moscow on its merits…
Russia’s relations with the PYD [Syrian Kurdish party affiliated to the Syrian Democratic Forces] are likely to be sour, at least in the short term…. As for not having the PYD in attendance at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi [January 29, 30, 2018], Moscow doesn’t see that as its own failure; it expects the PYD’s absence to create a long-term problem for the PYD itself.
… Recently, Kurdish authorities in Afrin issued a letter urging the Syrian government “to undertake its sovereign obligations to protect its borders [from the Turkish offensive].” Though the letter doesn’t mention whether Kurdish officials see passing Afrin to Damascus control as an option, it might be a sign that a reality check is pushing the Kurds to consider options they previously resisted…
[The following comment was posted by Roger Annis to the above Al-Monitor article: The accusations that Russia failed to defend the Kurds of Afrin and should have opposed the Turkish intervention which commenced on January 20 are facile and inaccurate. Russia made a reasoned proposal to forestall a Turkish intervention. This was rejected by the Syrian Kurds. They have entered into a willing alliance with the United States and seem ready to gamble on that, notwithstanding the long history of U.S. betrayals. The U.S. defense secretary stated that Turkey has ‘legitimate’ concerns in northern Syria which its intervention is addressing. So to summarize the madcap theory of a Russian ‘betrayal’ of the Kurds, Russia is to enter into a military conflict with a NATO member (Turkey) in order to defend forces allied with the U.S.? That is folly, it is armchair quarterbacking from afar. Russia has bent over backwards to achieve rights for the Kurds through the only process whereby this can happen–a political process of dialogue and agreement among Syrians. This is precisely a goal of the national dialogue congress taking place in Sochi. Although Turkey is attending that congress, it seems evident that its intervention into Afrin is designed to weaken if not sabotage the congress proceedings.]
Book review: Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder, by Paul Robinson (University of Ottawa), published on his website Irrussianality, Jan 28, 2018
In her latest book, Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder, Amy Knight wishes to convince us “how scary and unpredictable Russia has become”. (p. 3) To this end, her book recounts multiples instances in which, she alleges, the “Putin regime” has orchestrated the murder both of ordinary Russian citizens and of prominent political opponents. Knight is a respectable author whose 1993 biography of Beria I found quite informative. In Orders to Kill, however, she has abandoned academic neutrality in favour of political activism. The result is far from satisfactory…
German automakers conducted tests of poisonous auto fumes on monkeys, humans, Associated Press, Jan 29, 2018
srael and NATO-member Poland agree to talks amidst tensions over Poland’s proposed law prohibiting blame to Poles for WW2-era Holocaust, The Daily Caller, Monday, Jan 29, 2018
… Israel has “no tolerance for the distortion of the truth, the rewriting of history and the denial of the Holocaust,” Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu said at his weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, according to the Associated Press…
* NATO-member Polish legislature votes to criminalize Ukrainian Bandera-nationalist ideology, RT.com, Jan 27, 2018
* Poland’s Holocaust blame bill, by the Editorial Board, New York Times, Jan 29, 2018
Paving way for Syrian peace: Syria National Dialogue Congress opens in Sochi, Russia, RT.com, Jan 29, 2018 (with video news report at weblink)
Who is using chlorine as a chemical weapon in Syria?, by Charles Shoebridge, published in the ‘Op Edge’ feature of RT.com, Jan 27, 2018
The alleged use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria is back in the news in the U.S. and UK, with fresh incidents reported and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson taking the opportunity within the last few days to condemn Syrian President Bashar Assad over the issue. Unusually, he also later appeared to concede there may be some doubt – but asserted anyway that “whoever conducted the attacks, Russia bears responsibility”. So how does the alleged evidence that the Syrian government is carrying out chlorine attacks stack up? …
‘Unprecedented level of violence’ in the heart of Kabul as Taliban sends ‘clear message’ to Trump, interview with Lotfullah Najafizada, news director of TOLOnews, on Democracy Now!, Monday, Jan 29, 2018 (Video broadcast as well as transcript at the original Democracy Now! weblink. TOLOnews is a 24-hour news channel in Kabul, Afghanistan.)
In Afghanistan, Islamic State militants have carried out an early-morning attack on a military academy in the western outskirts of the capital of Kabul, killing at least 11 troops and wounding 16. This marks the latest in a wave of deadly attacks this month. Monday was already declared a national day of mourning in Afghanistan, after a Taliban attacker drove an ambulance filled with explosives into the heart of the city on January 27, killing at least 103 people and wounding as many as 235. One week earlier, Taliban militants killed 22 people at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel. Last week, another six people were killed in an assault claimed by the Islamic State on the office of aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad. This comes as the United States has stepped up its assistance to Afghan security forces and its airstrikes against the Taliban and other militant groups…
[See below for news reports on the January 27, 2018 bomb attack in Kabul that killed more than 100.]
Erdogan’s plans for Afrin might not sit well with Syria, by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor, Jan 26, 2018
[Following the rejection by Kurdish leaders of Syria and Russia’s proposal to avert a Turkish military intervention into the Afrin region of northwest Syria, the people of that region are facing the fury of Turkey’s army and dictatorial governing regime as well as calculated betrayals by Turkey’s NATO ally, the United States. Turkey’s military intervention into Afrin began on January 20. It aims at establishing a full-fledged occupation, to be administered by ‘rebel’ paramilitary forces that have sought the overthrow of Syria’s government since 2011.
[Al-Monitor writer Metin Gurcan explains events with this claim in a January 25 article: “It appears Turkey had Moscow’s go-ahead for the offensive, given that Russia controls all Syrian airspace west of the Euphrates River. Russia no doubt sees that the operation will drive a deeper wedge between the NATO allies Turkey and the United States in light of the latter’s support for the YPG. Moreover, Russia probably calculates that, faced with the threat of being overrun by Turkey and its Free Syrian Army (FSA) allies, the YPG will now be more open to Moscow’s earlier suggestion of handing Afrin back to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” The writer appears to believe it would be a mere trifle for Russia to knowingly enter into military conflict with NATO-member Turkey. His words echo the claims by Western leftists that Russia has “betrayed” the Kurds of Afrin by withdrawing its military forces from the region. Yet Russia has consistently argued that the Kurds and other national minorities in Syria should have significant representation in the country’s constitution and governing order. The Syrian government has entertained much discussion on the matter.]
Related: Is U.S. bailing on Syrian Kurds?. ‘Week In Review’ by Al-Monitor, Jan 28, 2018
What lurks behind Turkey’s unending emergency rule?, by Sibel Hurtas, Al-Monitor, Jan 28, 2018
… According to the opposition, the AKP [Turkey’s governing party] is planning to stick to the state of emergency up until November 2019, when Turkey is scheduled to go to the polls to elect its first executive president — who will officially assume the sweeping powers approved in a controversial referendum in April 2017. Some believe the government could opt for early elections this year…
Puerto Rico is a man-made disaster, by Charles R. Venator-Santiago, Huffington Post, Jan 29, 2018
Months after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico [Sept 6 and Sept 20, 2017, resp.], what should have been an example of how one of the most powerful nations in the world could rebuild a territory is instead an example of a man-made catastrophe now moving to the mainland. Today, only 60 per cent of Puerto Rico’s population has access to reliable electric power. Access to potable water is compromised. Food and jobs are scarce, and houses are uninhabitable. More than 40 per cent of schools do not have electricity. Thousands of police officers are not showing up to work, and violent crime is rampant…
[The writer misses an opportunity (obligation?) to explain in his article that the failure of reconstruction in Puerto Rico mirrors the total failure of all the Western world’s big powers to ‘build back better’ following Haiti’s devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. The earthquake killed an estiamated 40,000 to 70,000 people. Nine months later, UN Security Council occupation soldiers from Nepal (!) brought cholera to the island because they were not pre-screened for the disease. More than 10,000 Haitians have died as a result of the criminal negligence of the UN.]
Robert Parry’s legacy and the future of Consortium News, by Nat Parry, Consortium News, Jan 28, 2018 Robert Parry, editor and publisher of Consortiumnews.com, died peacefully Saturday evening. In this tribute, his son Nat Parry describes Robert’s unwavering commitment to independent journalism.
Tall tales by Australia’s anti-Russia leftists about Turkey’s invasion of Syria [Green Left Weekly newspaper in Australia has a lengthy article dated January 26 which headlines, ‘Afrin invasion: Turkey attacks northern Syria’s democratic revolution — with Russian and US approval’. And the proof of the claim by the writer that Russia “approves” the Turkish intervention into Syria? Why, because the writer says so in his headline! Such is the state of anti-Russia journalism these days, even from the ‘left’. To read what Russia truly says, see the entry below dated January 25; it consists of two statements by the Russian foreign ministry on the Turkish intervention into Syria.]
The annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland: Where talk on ‘inequality’ is cheap but a burger platter costs $59, by Neil Clark, published in the ‘Op Edge’ feature of RT.com, Jan 26, 2018
What were the Iran protests really about?, op-ed commentary by Peter Loewen, Janice Goss Stein, Farhaan Ladhani, published in The Globe and Mail, Jan 27, 2018
… Using a unique online platform that allows individuals to anonymously share their opinion, we surveyed 1,054 Iranian adults between Jan. 5 and 9.
… We found that support for the protests is thin. Only 27 per cent of respondents agreed that they supported them; 45 per cent disagreed. Three in 10 neither agreed nor disagreed. The protesters and their supporters are still very much in the minority.
What drives support among the minority who do back the protests? Our results suggest three factors matter: a lack of confidence in the government, a belief that corruption is rampant and, in a result that surprised us, a belief that life was better before the revolution. Our survey data do not support the argument that those among the Iranian public who are sympathetic to the protesters are motivated in an important way by anger about inequality…
Kabul bomb: 95 dead and 163 wounded in huge explosion in Afghanistan capital, by Harriet Agerholm, The Independent, Jan 27, 2018
* More bombs, deaths in Trump’s first year in office, by Sonali Kolhatkar, Truthdig, Jan 27, 2018 The greatest impact of Donald Trump’s first year as president has been kept out of sight from most Americans. The wars the U.S. waged during Barack Obama’s tenure have sharply escalated under Trump. The result has been a predictable and massive spike in civilian deaths…
* How the Pentagon enlisted Trump to continue its perpetual ‘war on terror’, by Gareth Porter, Truthout.org, Jan 25, 2018 The speech by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on January 17 laying out a series of conditions that would make it possible to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria confirmed what had already been revealed by the Pentagon itself: The Trump administration is planning to keep US troops in Syria indefinitely…
* Training quick and staffing unfinished, U.S. army units brace for surging Taliban in Afghanistan, New York Times, Jan 26, 2018 They are being heralded as a key part of President Trump’s new strategy to resolve the nearly 17-year war in Afghanistan. But their training has been cut short by months, and units are still short-staffed, as some of the estimated 1,000 additional military advisers prepare to arrive in Afghanistan in time for the spring fighting season, officials said…
* ‘The path to a win in Afghanistan’: What’s different in 2018?, press release by the NATO military alliance, Jan 15, 2018
Four factors affecting Turkey’s new operation in northern Syria, by Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor , Jan 25, 2018
Turkey, Russia wage proxy war against Washington in Syria, by Cengiz Çandar, Al-Monitor, Jan 24, 2018 [So says the headline writer at Al-Monitor.]
[This article is a speculative summary of Turkish policy considerations underlying its invasion of northern Syria’s Afrin region–‘Operation Olive Branch’ as Turkey calls it–beginning on January 20, 2018. Among the author’s mix of speculations is this claim: “… no one was left with any doubt that Operation Olive Branch had the Russian green light.” No evidence or explanation of this unfounded claim is offered.
[How about an alternative explanation: Russia withdrew from Afrin in order not to risk a direct clash with the Turkish army in a de facto defense of the U.S. allied, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF had rejected the Syrian government’s proposal for a cooperative assertion of Syrian government control over Afrin.What about the ‘coincidence’ that the Turkish intervention comes just days before the Syrian National Dialogue Congress which will take place in Sochi, Russia on January 29, 30? Turkey’s intervention appears very much as an efforft to sabotage those otherwise hopeful deliberations.
Two responses by the Russian foreign ministry and foreign minister on the Turkish military intervention into Afrin, northern Syria
1. From the weekly news briefing on January 25, 2018 of Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova:
… As we have already announced, Sochi will host the Syrian National Dialogue Congress next week, on January 29-30. Apart from Russia, Turkey and Iran are actively involved in preparations for the Congress. Invitations are being sent out to 1,600 Syrian participants. UN representatives and a number of regional and international partners have been invited to attend as observers.
Our efforts are designed to bring about peace and stability in Syria without delay, put its economy back on track and enable refugees to return to their homes. We hope that all those sincerely interested in seeing an end to the armed conflict will encourage the Syrians to voice constructive positions during this unique intra-Syrian event.
Unfortunately, other scenarios exist too. A delay in restoring the unity of Syrian society is fraught with new dangerous challenges, including the current developments in Afrin, where units of the Turkish Armed Forces jointly with the Syrian opposition are conducting a military operation. As you know, the Turkish side is presenting this as a response to security threats to Turkey in northern Syria at a time when the Syrian government does not control this territory…
… We are certain that it is unacceptable to turn Syria into a stage for confrontation between external forces pursuing their own interests. The people of Syria themselves must determine the future of their country. We hope that the upcoming Sochi forum will become an important step along this road.
2. Comment by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at press briefing on Jan 22, 2018
Question: The Turkish military operation against US-supported Kurds in northern Syria has been continuing for the last few days. What does Moscow think about this operation? Are you surprised at Washington’s extremely restrained response to these latest developments, and will they influence the place and role of the Kurds in the Syrian peace settlement?
Sergey Lavrov: First, you have no doubt read the statements from Moscow following the start of Turkey’s operation in Afrin. Statements have been made by the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry. We called for restraint and for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic…
U.S. adds 21 individuals, nine companies to anti-Russian sanctions list over Ukraine crisis, RT.com, Jan 26, 2018
UK defence secretary drops latest fear bomb, casually warns Russia is planning mass murder, news analysis by Simon Rite, RT.com, Jan 26, 2018
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is really settling into his job, and started the weekend early by scaring the hell out of the British public by claiming Russia could cause “thousands and thousands and thousands” of deaths… “What they [Russia] are looking at doing is they are going to be thinking ‘How can we just cause so much pain to Britain?’” Williamson said. “Damage its economy, rip its infrastructure apart, actually cause thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths, but actually have an element of creating total chaos within the country.” …
Related: Britain’s top Army general begs for more cash so he can fight… guess who, news analysis by Simon Rite, RT.com, Jan 22, 2018
Globe and Mail targets Canada’s new ambassador to China for favouring Canada-China economic ties
[In a front-page news/commentary article on January 26, 2018, two top Globe and Mail writers score longtime Liberal Party mainstay John McCallum for saying (in the reporters’ words) that “Canada now has more in common with China’s authoritarian regime than with the United States under President Donald Trump.” McCallum was appointed ambassador to China in January 2017. The reporters write further: “China’s one-party state has come under significant criticism for its brutal human-rights record as well as its aggression in the South China Sea. According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, China has, over the last decade, ‘effectively seized over 80 per cent of the South China Sea, an area about the size of Western Europe’ and built 12 ‘militarily significant facilities’ in the region, including three major fighter bases.’ “]
[Beginning several years ago, the Globe and Mail has joined China to its already virulent new cold war drive against Russia.
[Canada’s social-democratic party has positioned itself on the right extreme of Canada’s new cold war politics. During the 2015 federal election, then-NDP leader Thomas Mulcair taunted the incumbent Conservative Party, saying its anti-Russia sanctions were not harsh enough. Chiming in to the Globe and Mail‘s latest anti-China screed, NDP MP Nathan Cullen is cited as follows in the Globe report: “NDP MP Nathan Cullen described Mr. McCallum’s comments as facile, saying the average Canadian might be taken aback to hear a government representative saying this country is more in line with ‘Communist China than our American cousins’.”]
Trump and the Fed: U.S. shadow bankers about to deepen control of U.S. economy, by Jack Rasmus, Jan 24, 2018
… The Davos crowd may think they are sitting on their mountain in Switzerland, but they are really partying on the Titanic, as they steam on oblivious to what’s coming, unable to foresee the approaching economic icebergs below the surface. And as their mainstream economists, asleep on the bridge, almost in unison declare ‘steam on’, all is well and getting better.
[Wikipedia: The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve or simply the Fed) is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913, with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, after a series of financial panics (particularly the panic of 1907) led to the desire for central control of the monetary system in order to alleviate financial crises ]
Turkey continues its game of rhetoric with U.S. over U.S. maneuvering with Kurds in Syria, report by Reuters, Jan 25, 2018
Turkey urged the United States on Thursday to halt its support for Kurdish YPG fighters or risk confronting Turkish forces on the ground in Syria, some of Ankara’s strongest comments yet about a potential clash with its NATO ally…
The U.S. has around 2,000 troops in Syria, officially as part of an international, U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State…
[Reuters neglects to explain tha the U.S. troop presence is completely illegal and is opposed by the Syrian government.]
Related: Syrian Kurds seek Damascus’ protection as Turkey’s Erdogan vows to return Afrin to ‘owners’, RT.com, Jan 26, 2018
‘Charity’ institution of many of Britain’s economic elite is shut following annual gala permitting groping of 130 young women hired to serve food, drinks, The Independent, Jan 24, 2018
UN Security Council refrains from condemning Turkey, AFP, Jan 22, 2018
On January 22, the UN Security Council discussed Turkey’s intensifying offensive against Kurdish militias and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria but did not condemn or demand an end to the sensitive Turkish operation…
[Western media is propagating the idea of a Turkey-U.S. conflict over Syria. But Turkey is attacking the Kurds in Afrin province of Syria and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis says Turkey has “legitimate security concerns”. NATO countries spout ‘concern’ about their fellow NATO member Turkey’s operation, but this only means they may use such ‘concern’ as a cover to intervene themselves. NATO’s doctrine of ‘an attack against one member is an attack against all’ is an extremely dangerous side of the Turkish intervention in Afrin. Purported Turkish-U.S. conflicts can disappear in seconds when NATO interests are at stake.
[For its part, Germany is expressing ‘concern’ about the Turkish operation in Afrin and says it will halt arms sales to Turkey so long as the conflict continues. This is NATO member Germany’s way of reminding Turkey of Turkey’s dependence on its fellow NATO members. ]
U.S. chemical weapons blame-game: Well-timed PR stunt or trick to justify military presence in Syria?, editorial comment in RT.com, Jan 24 2018
Conflicting reports emerge as Turkey’s ‘Olive Branch’ military intervention rakes Kurdish Afrin region in northwest Syria, by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Jan 22, 2018
… With the exception of the pro-Kurdish bloc, Turkey’s main political groups are backing the Turkish intervention amid a tidal wave of nationalist euphoria that is gripping the public…
Before the deluge: How Washington sealed Puerto Rico’s fate, by Petra Bartosiewicz, Harper’s Magazine, print issue of February 2018, Vol 336, #2013 (In pdf format here, 11 pages: Puerto Rico, Harpers Magazine, January 2018)
In the summer of 2016, when Congress installed a financial control board to address Puerto Rico’s crippling debt, I traveled to San Juan, the capital. The island owed some $120 billion, and Wall Street was demanding action…
Post-Hurricane Maria [Sept 20, 2017], Puerto Rico looked familiar [as a case of ‘disaster capitalism’]. Yet here, of course, the disaster long predated the storm. What primed the island for the kinds of austerity measures already in motion were decades of repression so encompassing as to be an assault on society of hurricane proportions…
Related: Our American poorhouse: Puerto Rico, Harper’s Magazine, June 1943 (In pdf format here, eight pages: Puerto Rico, Harpers Magazine,, June 1943) Puerto Rico is he poorhouse of the United States. Nowhere else under the American flag is there such a concentration of squalor, disease, and chronic starvation as exists on this island…
Russia Insider goes Goebbels: Debunking Charles Bausman’s warped vision of Russian reality, by Dmitry Babich, published on The Duran, Jan 18, 2018 (Dmitry Babich is a Russian political commentator. He is a regular on RT.com‘s ‘CrossTalk’ current affairs program which is hosted by Peter Lavelle.) Russia Insider’s editor-in-chief rails against the supposed Jewish origin of the world’s ills but totally fails to understand Russia’s history or its people
Congress’s ratification of Trump’s spying power is a direct threat to our privacy, by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout.org, Jan 22, 2018
When it voted 65 to 34 on January 18 to pass the National Security Agency’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Reauthorization Act of 2017, Congress gave Donald Trump vast authority to spy on Americans. Senate Republicans and Democrats have handed the Trump administration a dangerous tool to intercept our internet communications and target immigrants, people of color and government critics…
Senate votes to give Trump vast domestic spying powers that ‘no president should have, by Jon Queally, Common Dreams, Jan 18, 2018
[Germany’s announcement that it will ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia places other NATO arms peddlers in the hotseat, notably the U.S., UK and Canada. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland are dodging questions about the German announcement. The government is facing a pesky lawsuit seeking a judicial ban on its approval of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. On January 8, 2018, a federal court judge rejected the government’s legal bid to kill the lawsuit.
[Western media have been providing key cover for Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen–which has killed more than 5,000 and caused a cholera epidemic. They refer to the war variously as a ‘proxy war’ or ‘war for regional influence’ between Saudi Arabia and Iran. But it is not Iran that is bombing the people and country of Yemen—it is the theocratic regime in Saudi Arabia, backed by the NATO powers.]
Related: German arms manufacturers have Germany in the top five of the world’s arms peddling countries, report in Deutsche Welle, Dec 29, 2017
Glenn Greenwald hits out against Russiagate obsession of Western journalists, by Simon van Zuylen-Wood, New York Magazine, Jan 21, 2018 Where others see Russia collusion, Greenwald sees ‘McCarthyism’.
… “I used to be really good friends with Rachel Maddow,” Greenwald says. “I’ve seen her devolution from this really interesting, really smart, independent thinker into this utterly scripted, intellectually dishonest, partisan hack.”
Turkish troops cross Syrian border near Afrin, news analysis by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Jan 21, 2018
* Mattis says Turkey notified Pentagon before attacking U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria, RT.com, Jan 21, 2018
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Turkey gave advance notice that it was planning to launch an attack on U.S.-allied Kurdish militias in Syria, but he did not specify if Washington tried to dissuade Ankara… “Turkey is a NATO ally. It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns,” said Mattis, who noted that gains against Islamic State did not soothe Turkey’s concerns over a breakaway Kurdish state on territory…
* Turkish assault on Kurdish enclave threatens to open deadly new phase in bloody seven-year civil war, by Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, Jan 22, 2018 [In this latest column, Patrick Cockburn falls for the ruse of a ‘fallout’ between NATO members U.S. and Turkey over policy towards the Kurdish people in Syria. But has the U.S. ever offered a peep of protest against Turkey’s internal war against its Kurdish population, including the jailings of the top leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the third-largst party in the Turkish legislature? What about U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis saying Turkey has ‘legitimate security concerns’ which underlie its military intervention into Afrin province in Syria beginning on January 19? Some ‘fallout’.]
Hollywood’s ‘The Post’ versus the real story of the Pentagon Papers, lengthy article by James DiEugenio, Consortium News, Jan 22, 2018
… Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have given us a combination Washington/Hollywood fairy tale. A ‘feel good’ film that works only for those who are unaware of the underlying facts, which they and their screenwriters have truncated and altered to produce their desired effect. The best thing I can say about this film is that it could provoke the viewer to get the real story by reading [Daniel] Ellsberg’s book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.
The foundation of lies of the gang-up conference in Vancouver against North Korea, column by Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom, Jan 22, 2018
… When [Canadian foreign minister Chrystia] Freeland first announced her plans in late November , she said China’s attendance would be crucial. “We absolutely intend to invite China and we very much hope China will be able to attend,” she told reporters then.
Exactly why Freeland and Tillerson changed their minds is unclear. But in the end, China was not invited as a full participant… Exactly what the summit [held in Vancouver on January 16] was intended to accomplish remains a mystery…
Related: Donald Trump blasted as ‘five-time draft dodger’ by U.S. senator who lost her legs in Iraq War, by Amy Wang, The Independent, Jan 22, 2018 Veteran and Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth accuses President of placing U.S. national security at risk by goading North Korea
It’s time to call economic sanctions what they are: war crimes, by Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, Jan 19, 2018
… Economic sanctions are like a medieval siege but with a modern PR apparatus attached to justify what is being done. A difference is that such sieges used to be directed at starving out a single town or city while now they are aimed at squeezing whole countries into submission’
World’s richest one per cent bagged 82 per cent of global wealth in 2017, while poorest half got nothing, says Oxfam report, RT.com, Jan 22, 2018
The inequality crisis is worsening, according to a new study by global charity Oxfam, which found that the world’s richest 42 people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent worldwide. The annual report showed that 2017 saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history, with new ones created at a rate of one every two days. Their wealth has increased by 13 percent a year on average in the decade from 2006 to 2015…
* Growing gulf between rich and poor leaves 42 people with same wealth as world’s 3.7 billion worst-off, reveals new report by Oxfam, by Josie Cox, business editor, The Independent, Jan 22, 2018 Billionaire wealth rose by an average of 13 per cent each year between 2006 and 2015 – six times faster than wages of average workers
* The 2017 edition of the Global Wealth Report, produced annually by global banking giant Credit Suisse, says that “In the past 12 months, total global wealth grew by 6.4 percent. It is the fastest pace of wealth creation since 2012 and one of the best results since the financial crisis.” But the growth is not being shared: the super-rich — one percent of the global population — now own 50 per cent of the world’s wealth. In the bank’s words, “global wealth inequality has certainly been high and rising” since the great recession of 2008-09.
Conflicting reports surround Turkey’s claims that its ground forces have entered northwest Syria, report in RT.com, Jan 20, 2018
[Turkish artillery began heavy artillery as well as aerial bombardment of the Kurdish-populated Syrian province of Afrin on January 19. See this report in Reuters on January 21. Rudaw news agency (Kurdish region of Iraq) reports on January 21 that at least 18 civilians have been killed, citing the UK-based Syrian Observatory on Human Rights. Rudaw also reports that Turkish ground forces have been pushed back, citing Kurdish military spokespeople.
[Turkey says it is sending ground troops into Afrin in what it calls ‘Operation Olive Branch’. It also says it plans to link that occupied territory with the Syrian territory which Turkey already already occupies in the Kurdish and Arab-populated region of north-central Syria (blue area in adjoining map). That territory was seized by Turkey during its ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ launched in August 2016.
[Russia has withdrawn its ground and air forces forces from Afrin, to avoid a direct clash with the belligerent and unpredictable NATO-member Turkey. Syrian Kurdish forces say this amounts to a Russian “approval” of the Turkish intervention. But the Kurdish forces are in a partnership with the U.S. military, so their harsh words should be read in that light. Their words would have Russia jeopardize the victories made in Syria during the past two years against right-wing jihadi forces in order to protect U.S.-allied Kurdish forces against the U.S.-allied Turkey. As foolhardy as that idea sounds, it gets worse–what if, in the event of a Russian-Turkish clash, Turkey and the U.S. invoke the NATO charter’s ‘collective defense’ clause by which an attack on one member is deemed to be an attack on all? Turkey’s purported ‘conflict’ with the U.S. and other NATO countries would vanish in a flash.
[The Syrian government has condemned the Turkish bombardments and intervention, as has the government of Iran. During the 18 months in which Turkey has occupied Syrian soil in north-central Syria, there have been no moves by the Syrian military to expel the occupiers. Syria already has its hands full fighting U.S.-backed jihadi and other ‘rebel’ forces elsewhere in the country, which Turkish military planners would know well. The U.S. is methodically working away to weaken the Syrian government. Its aim is to weaken Syria’s territorial integrity if not outright partition the country.]
A liberal pillar of the Establishment: The Guardian has a ‘new look’ but old-style orthodoxy, by Media Lens (UK), Jan 18, 2018
Apple and The Guardian: Partners in a death spiral, by Jonathan Cook, published in his website blog, Jan 20, 2018
Tory favors, pensions hole and ‘blacklisting’ workers: The slow and ignoble fall of Britain’s Carillion construction and service conglomerate, RT.com, Jan 15, 2018 Carillion plc is going into liquidation after being overwhelmed by huge financial difficulties, throwing the futures of 43,000 employees into turmoil. Huge government contracts for nearly 900 schools, 50,000 Ministry of Defence homes, and hospitals across the UK are held by the crisis-hit firm saddled with a £1.5 billion ($2.07 billion) debt, sparking a rush to discover which projects could be in jeopardy…
Peace should be integral to the upcoming women’s marches across the United States, by Cindy Sheehan and Rick Sterling, published in CounterPunch, Jan 19, 2018 There is one thing missing from publicity and philosophy of the upcoming Women’s March in Washington DC and cities across the U.S.: the urgent need for peace not war!
Donald Trump’s first year in office and the illusion of choice in the U.S. two-party duopoly, by Neil Clark, published in the ‘Op-Edge’ feature of RT.com, Jan 19, 2018 The striking thing about Trump’s first twelve months compared to the Obama administration is not how different his foreign policies have been, but how similar…
Ankara might be awaiting Russian ok for Afrin operation, by Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Jan 18, 2018
[It’s a mystery why Al-Monitor would believe that Russia will accept a military intervention by NATO-member Turkey against the Kurdish population in the Afrin province of northwest Syria. Russia has long advocated a federal constitution for Syria which would recognize certain autonomous political and social rights for Syria’s Kurdish population. Moreover, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to reporters at the United Nations in New York on January 19 about the double game which the United States is playing in its professed support to the Kurds. He said, “It’s a fact that U.S. forces are seriously involved in creating alternative government bodies on vast part of the Syrian territory. This, of course, absolutely contradicts their own obligations, which they committed to on numerous occasions, including at the UN Security Council, on maintaining the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Syria.”]
[Russia and Syrian military aircraft control the skies over western Syria. Turkey cannot wage a sustained military intervention into Syria without military aircraft to provide air support for ground troops. This will limit its boastful and pre-announced intervention into Afrin province, much of which will take the form of punishing artillery attacks from Turkish soil.]
Knot over Afrin region in northwest Syria: How the battle for a small Kurdish enclave could be the death knell for U.S.-Turkey ties, lengthy news analysis by RT.com, Jan 18, 2018 This week, the countdown began for Afrin, a Kurdish-held enclave in the north of Syria which is feverously preparing for a major Turkish offensive…
What’s going on in Ecuador?, an interview with Wladimir Iza, by Joe Emersberger, published in CounterPunch, Jan 19, 2018 (Wladimir Iza is a longtime political activist in Ecuador and supporter of Rafael Correa.)
Vancouver summit on North Korea failed to provide alternative to Russian and Chinese proposals, says Russian foreign ministry, RT.com, Jan 17, 2018
Related: Russia condemns Canada’s North Korea summit as ‘propaganda’, by Bruce Campion Smith, Ottawa bureau reporter, Toronto Star, Jan 18, 2018 [This Toronto Star report bends over backwards to provide a positive spin on the ‘nothing’ conference issuing more threats against North Korea which took place in Vancouver on January 16. Alternative media in Canada went further, with the National Observer and HuffPost Canada (the latter using a Canadian Press story) presenting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Donald Trump’s foreign policy emissary) and his Canadian sidekick Chrystia Freeland as heroic figures battling demon rulers of North Korea. The entire story of five decades of Western hostility, embargos and nuclear threats against the people of North Korea goes entirely untold in all of these media outlets.]
Winston Churchill: Hero, racist, and imperialist, by John Wight, published in the ‘Op Edge’ feature of RT.com, Jan 17, 2018
Tillerson says U.S troops will stay in Syria; U.S. huddles with allies over upcoming national dialogue conference in Sochi, Russia, by Laura Rozen, Al-Monitor, Jan 18, 2018
Related: Syrian Foreign Ministry: U.S. military presence in Syria is an act of aggression against Syria’s sovereignty, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), Jan 18, 2018
Will Erdogan defy Russia and U.S. and attack Kurds in Afrin?, by Semih Idiz, Al-Monitor, Jan 17, 2018
* War rages in Turkish media in anticipation of military operation into Syria, by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor, Jan 17, 2018
* Damascus warns it may shoot down Turkish planes attacking Kurds within Syrian borders, RT.com, Jan 18, 2018 [Previous incursions by Turkey into Syria to attack Kurdish forces have gone unopposed by the Syrian military.]
Surprise: Gang-up conference in Vancouver against North Korea ends with threats of more sanctions and demands for unilateral disarmament of the country
[The January 16 reunion conference in Vancouver of the genocidal warmakers against Korea in 1950-53 (what the Toronto Star calls a “coalition of countries” was a publicity stunt that ended on a tired refrain. The column reporting on the gathering by the Globe and Mail‘s Gary Mason is headlined, Why the Vancouver summit on North Korea was futile. Ironically, while the conference aimed to deepen the division of north and south Korea dating from 1953, the two Koreas have agreed to field a joint team at the Winter Olympics to begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea on February 9. Athletes from the two Koreas will march together during the opening ceremony under a “unification flag” depicting their peninsula and will field a single women’s ice hockey team.
[Canadian media played along with the stage show in Vancouver, including by stirring Cold War-era nuclear fears in its reporting of false-missile alarms sounded in Hawaii and Japan on January 13 and 16, respectively. But skepticism over the conference was also sounded. The National Observer alternative media outlet fell for the stage show, providing gushing treatment of the words of U.S. Secretary of State’s Rex Tillerson as he reiterated the Trump regime’s threats against the Korean people. The Observer fashions itself as part of the ‘resistance’ to the Trump regime, but it echoes Trump’s warmaking threats against Russia, China and the Korean people.]
Erdogan says Turkey will ‘strangle’ U.S.-backed force in northern Syria ‘before it’s even born’, Reuters, Jan 15, 2018 [Russia is also concerned, for different reasons, about the U.S.-backed Kurdish border force in northern Syria, saying U.S. scheming threatens the sovereignty and territrial integrity of Syria.]
Trump’s racist comments on ‘s***hole’ countries: Eagerness for scandal betrays a cruel indifference to discrimination, by Shree Paradkar, opinion columnist, Toronto Star, Jan 13, 2018, Donald Trump’s latest round of vulgarism represents the contemptuous attitudes and biases that inform U.S. and Canadian immigration policy-making
* Love of Trump endures despite it all, by Margaret Kimberley, editor and senior columnist at Black Agenda Report, Jan 10, 2018
* What Canada and America owe Haiti, by Andray Domise, Maclean’s Magazine (Canada monthly), Nov 24, 2017 The United States and Canada have a brutal, ruinous record in Haiti. This should inform the treatment of asylum seekers today.
George Monbiot is not only a hypocrite, but a bully too, by Jonathan Cook, published on his website blog, Jan 12, 2018
More details emerge of gang-up against North Korea to take place at Vancouver conference on Jan 16 hosted by Canada, U.S., report by Lee Berthiaume, Canadian Press, Jan 11, 2018
Canada and its Korean War allies [!] will sit down in Vancouver next week to mull ways to tighten the screws on North Korea – including whether to intercept North Korean shipping.
U.S. State Department officials confirmed that China and Russia were not invited to Tuesday’s meeting… Instead, only those countries that deployed troops as part of the United Nations during the Korean War between 1950 and 1953 have been invited to participate in the discussions…
China says not all the main parties of the conflict in Korea will be in Vancouver and so it won’t attend, RT.com, Jan 10, 2018
[A gang-up against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) will take place in Vancouver, Canada on January 16, 2018 in the form of a conference hosted by Canada’s foreign minister and the U.S. secretary of state. North Korea is not invited, nor is Russia. China and Russia are the only two countries to share a land border with the DPRK. The two countries hosting the Vancouver conference were among those which waged a genocidal war against the Korean people from 1950 to 1953. Invitations to the conference are specifically directed at other countries that took part in waging that war. Reuters news agency reports, “Canada and the United States are co-hosting the meeting in Vancouver on Jan. 16 to demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.”]
Related news: U.S. to sell Japan $133 million in missiles to counter North Korea threat [sic], by Ellen Mitchell, The Hill, Jan 9, 2018
Murder of lawyer Iryna Nozdrovska on Jan 1, 2018 shakes Ukrainians’ faith in justice system, Deutsche Welle, Jan 5, 2018 Related: Ukraine claims it has caught killer of campaigning lawyer, Irish Times, Jan 9, 2018
The Guardian, White Helmets, and silenced comment, by Tim Hayward (University of Edinburgh), published on his website, Jan 12, 2018
Trump isn’t another Hitler. He’s another Obama, by Caitlin Johnstone, published on Medium.com, Jan 5, 2018
Britain’s finance capitalists discuss prospects for Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, article in Financial Times, Dec 7, 2017. Read the article in pdf format: Jeremy Corbyn as Britain’s PM
Ideologue in Canada’s Globe and Mail daily presents four scenarios for war with North Korea, says ‘best possible’ outcome is to ‘eliminate’ the political leadership of the country before the bombs and missiles fly, by David Welch, special to the Globe and Mail, Jan 6, 2018 (David Welch is Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Chair of Global Security at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (University of Waterloo, Ontario) and CIGI Senior Fellow.)
… The best possible endgame would see someone high up in the North Korean leadership decide that their own long-term interest, and that of their family and compatriots, would be best served by taking matters into their own hands, eliminating Mr. Kim and his enablers, and signalling a willingness to co-operate with the international community…
Pouring it on in Canada:
* Kim Jong-un is a gangster: Here’s how to sort him out, by Robert Huish, professor of ‘international development studies’, Dalhousie U, Halifax, Nova Scotia, published on The Conversation, Jan 7, 2018
* Kim Jong Un is in the nuclear drivers’ seat, op-ed commentary by Simon Palamar, Toronto Star, Jan 8, 2018 [This CIGI ideologue claims the United States has been seeking a “denuclearization” policy on the Korean peninsula but has been frustrated by an intolerant government in North Korea. Donald Trump’s genocidal threats to reduce North Korea to nuclear ashes? ‘Don’t know of that.’ Decades-long economic sanctions by the U.S. against North Korea? ‘I’ll have to check into that.’ U.S. refusal to sign the 1953 armistice agreement ending the 1950-53 Korean War? ‘Never heard of it.’
First broadcast of 2018 of Lee Camp’s ‘Redacted Tonight’ weekly comedy program on RT.com, Jan 4, 2018. Watch Lee Camp speak of the grotesque feigning of concern by U.S. politicians for the discontent of some of people in Iran, for two minutes beginning at the 15’45” mark.
Four years of Ukraine and the myths of Maidan, interview with Stephen Cohen, broadcast on The John Batchelor Show, late December 2017. Print summary and audio of the interview are posted on The Nation, Jan 3, 2018.
[The interview with Stephen Cohen provides a valuable overview of the events in Ukraine since late 2013. One item curiously missing from the print summary is any description of the civil war which the new, right-wing government in Kyiv launched in eastern Ukraine (Donbass region) in April 2014. A related curiousity is Stephen Cohen’s brief reference to that civil war as a “war which broke out against the Kyiv government”. Cohen also terms the March 2014 referendum vote in Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation an “annexation” by Russia.]
Related: Seeing the unseen in Ukraine: Why is America sending arms?, by Patrick Lawrence, published in Salon.com, Dec 31, 2017 (with comment by Roger Annis)
These are the real causes of the Iran protests, by Trita Parsi, published in The Nation, Jan 4, 2018
Statement on Iran Demonstrations by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Dec 31, 2017
Trump’s vow to support Iran opposition carries ‘no credibility’ as demonstrations enter sixth day, interview on Democracy Now! with Trita Parsi and Reza Sayah, Jan 3, 2018 (Trita Parsi is a founder and the president of the National Iranian American Council and is the author of Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Legacy of Diplomacy; Reza Sayah is a freelance journalist based in Tehran, Iran.)
Glenn Greenwald on Iran protests: Trump tweets ‘Time for change’ while backing dictators worldwide, interview with Glen Greenwald, editor of The Intercept, on Democracy Now! Jan 2, 2018 Glenn Greenwald on Iran protests: Trump tweets ‘Time for change’ while backing dictators worldwide, interview with Glen Greenwald, editor of The Intercept, on Democracy Now! Jan 2, 2018 [One hour interview discussing U.S. foreign policy. The first 25 minutes of the interview discusses Iran. The interview then turns to ‘Russiagate’. Glenn Greenwald states that it is “obviously possible” that the Russian government was behind the 2016 hacking of the emails of members of the Democratic National Committee; he then goes on to state there is “no evidence” of collusion between the Trump election campaign and the Russian government. He says responsiblity for the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations is shared by the governments of the two countries.]
Massive protests erupt in Iran against sanctions and unending poverty, by Vijay Prashad, AlterNet (pro-Democratic Party, anti-Russia outlet), Jan 3, 2018
Trump and Netanyahu are trying to take credit, but this movement is all about the people
My year inside Trump’s insane White House, by Michael Wolff, Hollywood Reporter, Jan 4, 2017
Related: So Trump didn’t want to be president but colluded with the Russians to do it?, by Monica Showalter, The American Thinker, Jan 4, 2018 In his stemwinder piece on the early chaotic days of the Trump administration, Michael Wolff would have us believe that Donald Trump really didn’t want to be president…
The scary reality behind Trump’s long Tuesday of weird tweets, by Matthew Yglesias, VOX.com, Wednesday, Jan 3, 2018
… The tweet was just one of many inflammatory statements by Trump over a long day of bizarre tweeting that included everything from fanning the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to attempting to take credit for airplanes being safe, calling for the prosecution of a top aide to Hillary Clinton, attacking the new publisher of the New York Times, and plugging Lou Dobbs’s show on the Fox Business Network. Along the way, he also reiterated a New Year’s Day dig at Pakistan.
It’s a puzzling array of topics that at first glance appears to defy any explanation as a communications strategy or a set of policy priorities. But the source turns out to be clear: It’s all Fox News…
The 12 victories of Venezuelan President Maduro in 2017, by Ignacio Ramonet, published on TeleSur, Jan 3, 2018
Statement from the Iranian Canadian Congress regarding protests in Iran, issued on Jan 2, 2018
… In the days since the protests began, some politicians and political groups in Canada and abroad who have for years advocated for sanctions and aggression against Iran have tried to exploit these protests to justify their anti-Iranian policies…These efforts constitute nothing but an attempt to cynically exploit people’s legitimate demands to advance these groups’ own political agenda..
My life as a New York Times reporter in the shadow of the war on terror, by James Risen, The Intercept, Jan 3, 2017 (lengthy essay)
… My case [in court in January 2015] was part of a broader crackdown on reporters and whistleblowers that had begun during the presidency of George W. Bush and continued far more aggressively under the Obama administration…