Saturday, 7 January 2017

Syrian Army’s elite forces head to rural Damascus for Wadi Barada offensive Valley

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:10 P.M.) – Minutes ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) managed to break-through Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham’s (formerly Al-Nusra Front) front-line defenses at the northern flank of Bassima, capturing all of the hills overlooking this village in the Barada Valley of rural Damascus.
Led by the 4th Mechanized Division and Qalamoun Shield, the Syrian Arab Army stormed the northern flank of Bassima earlier today, killing several militants from Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham.
Intense clashes would continue north of Bassima for much of day, as the Syrian Arab Army attempted to enter the well-fortified village.
According to some local activists in Wadi Barada, a temporary ceasefire deal has been reached between the Syrian Arab Army’s High Command and jihadist rebels; however, this cannot be confirmed at the moment.
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Very Powerful People in the USA Government Want War – This is Their Sales Pitch

Michael Krieger — Liberty BlitzKrieg Jan 5, 2017
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), left, and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) plan to reintroduce the Iran Ballistic Missile Sanctions Act. Click to enlarge
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), left, and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). Click to enlarge
The rising hysteria about Russia is best understood as fulfilling two needs for Official Washington: the Military Industrial Complex’s transitioning from the “war on terror” to a more lucrative “new cold war” – and blunting the threat that a President Trump poses to the neoconservative/liberal-interventionist foreign-policy establishment.
By hyping the Russian “threat,” the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks, who include much of the mainstream U.S. news media, can guarantee bigger military budgets from Congress. The hype also sets in motion a blocking maneuver to impinge on any significant change in direction for U.S. foreign policy under Trump.
The following will probably be one of the most important articles I’ve ever written. After spending some time watching the recently concluded intelligence briefing to the U.S. Senate, I’ve determined it to be one of the most disturbing and ominous things I can remember. I have several takeaways from what I saw, and none of them are good.
Before I get started, I want to remind you of something I wrote last summer in the piece, Japanese Government Shifts Further Toward Authoritarianism and Militarism.
One of the most discomforting aspects of Neil Howe and William Strauss’ seminal work on generational cycles, The Fourth Turning (1997), is the fact that as far as American history is concerned, they all climax and end with massive wars.
To be more specific, the first “fourth turning” in American history culminated with the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the second culminated with the Civil War (1861-1865), while the third ended with the bloodiest war in world history, World War II (1939-1945). The number of years between the end of the Revolutionary War and the start of the Civil War was 78 years, and the number of years between the end of the Civil War and the start of World War II was 74 years (76 years if you use America’s entry into the war as your starting date). Therefore, if Howe & Strauss’ theory holds any water, and I think it does, we’re due for a major conflict somewhere around 75 years from the end of World War II. That brings us to 2020.
The more I look around, the more signs appear everywhere that the world is headed into another major conflict. From an unnecessary resurgence of a Cold War with Russia, to increased tensions in the South China Sea and complete chaos and destruction in the Middle East, the world is a gigantic tinderbox. All it will take to transform these already existing conflict zones into a major conflagration is another severe global economic downturn, something I fully expect to happen within the next 1-2 years. Frighteningly, this puts on a perfect collision course with the 2020 area.
One of the main reasons I opposed Hillary Clinton so vehemently, was I felt she embodied the neocon, neoliberal, military-intelligence-indsustrial complex’s burning desire for a global confrontation with Russia, as well as continued disastrous imperial adventures all over the world. Many of us hoped that with her loss, cooler heads would prevail and the American public might receive a much needed respite from never-ending war. This has not happened.
If anything, those in the Hillary camp have become even more aggressive and unhinged in their bloodlust, and appear willing to do “whatever it takes” to start a fight that will result in unimaginable devastation for the American public. This has become such an overwhelming concern to me, I felt the need to discuss what those of us who wish to avoid this outcome must do.
First, we need to understand the motivation of those driving us in this disastrous direction. Their primary motivation is pretty simple, a desire to retain power and status. They can see the writing on the wall when it comes to the disintegration of status quo authority and credibility, and they fundamentally understand the need to focus on an outside enemy in order to distract attention away from internal failures. Second, we need to understand where we are in the war-creating process. We must acknowledge thatvery powerful interests have already decided they want this war. To them, this isn’t about weighing facts and being reasonable, they’ve already made up their minds. As such, we are currently in the sales process.
Right at this very moment, we are being sold on this war by the media, politicians, intelligence agencies, as well as various other vested interests who benefit from imperial dominance abroad (unlike the vast majority of us who are severely harmed by it). When you understand that this is simply a huge sales pitch to herd the American public like sheep into a conflict that is not in their best interests, then everything you see and hear around you starts to make sense.
Just in case you doubt my theory that certain people have already decided they want this war, watch the following diatribe by neocon chickenhawk Lindsey “I never saw a war I didn’t like” Graham.
The only thing more disturbing than Graham’s endless rock-throwing lust, is what Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said at the end of it: “I find myself in complete agreement with what he just said, and I appreciate it.” The lunatics are indeed running the asylum.
This is very important. James Clapper admits he wants to throw rocks at Russia. Why? Because in his opinion, Russia provided genuine information to Wikileaks which was embarrassing to the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton lost an election. Let’s just assume for a second that U.S. intelligence does have proof that Putin ran the operation and sent it to Wikileaks for the expressed purpose of helping Trump. If that can be proven, I absolutely think it is meaningful information, and I think the American people should be aware of it. However, would I be willing to get into a war with Russia over it? Certainly not. Would most Americans? I doubt it. To summarize, the American people don’t want war, but many D.C. politicians and special interests do. This divergence makes the situation all the more dangerous.
We need to understand that those who want this war will be absolutely relentless. The sales pitch will not end until they get exactly what they want. This is where all of us critical thinkers need to play a key role. We must be prepared to diligently analyze all unsubstantiated official claims, and push back against the war-mongers, because we know for certain the oligarch-owned corporate media won’t. We must be prepared to inform our fellow citizens about what’s happening so that we don’t fall victim to a cheap sales pitch with devastating consequences. Unfortunately, we must also be prepared for a possible deep state false flag if the current sales tactic falls on deaf ears.
This is not to say that in the course of human events war is never necessary. Sometimes it’s simply thrust upon you, but we’re nowhere near that point. Moreover, the fact so many people are pushing this conflict forward based on what is actually a pretty trivial accusation in the grand scheme of things, should be seen as particularly problematic. Which brings me to the most important point of all.
America cannot win a global war of such a scale if it is based on false pretenses and in the absence of exceedingly strong public support. This support does not exist. Will this serve as a necessary restraint against the masters of war and their devious plans? It’s too early to tell, but I do know that if we are unnecessarily pushed into a global conflagration, it will not end well for us. If this is the road our twisted status quo insists on taking us down, let us never forget who they are and the self-serving motivations behind their actions.
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USA Fueling Terror Attacks Across the Planet?

By Vijay Prashad
Alternet” – Stories upon stories pile up about what appears to be senseless violence at an Istanbul (Turkey) nightclub or a market in eastern Baghdad (Iraq), on the streets of Tripoli (Libya) or in a mosque in Kabul (Afghanistan). Some in the West turn away from this news, eager to shut it off or to blame it somehow on the failings of Eastern societies. Have they not always been like that? Will they not always kill each other? Others in the West look, but all they feel is great sorrow and then, gratefulness for their own security. It is always the leaden eyes of children in war that move people. Accumulations of such stories are never enough. The voices of the grieving make no sense. It is one thing to feel sympathy for someone in war, but hard, very hard to feel empathy – their suffering is so alien to the comforts of those in the West, too alien to expect a person to enter the shattered lives of others.
The reactions are easier when the West can walk away from its deep complicity in this suffering, particularly when it can blame petty autocrats and the Russians for everything. Someone else, surely, is at fault. How can the West take political and emotional responsibility for the actions of others who have their own will? It is a fair question. Autocrats and tyrants do have their own will, and they do often exercise it with great brutality against those who deign to challenge them. But do the autocrats control the destiny of their countries, or do other – malevolent – forces surround them, driving people to desperation and into the jaws of death?
News comes from the United Nations that 6,878 civilians were killed in Iraq during 2016. These are official numbers. The unofficial numbers are likely much higher. Since the illegal American war on Iraq in 2003, hundreds of thousands if not a million people have been killed before their natural lives ended. It is one of the great criminal acts of contemporary history, and yet no one has been called to account for it (although The People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War hopes to make noise in the silence). The immensity of the tragedy of Iraq – the cause of great destabilization in West Asia and North Africa – has been utterly forgotten. It is easy to see the Associated Press article on these numbers, to even read about the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq’s hard work to establish these figures, and yet to forget that the prime mover here is not Eastern culture or human nature, but a war driven by Washington, DC based entirely on lies.
President George W. Bush’s adventure in Iraq was not an aberration in the War on Terror, as President Barack Obama suggested; it was its highest point, its defining action. Reason went out of the window and in its place came a jumble of anxieties mixed in with older currents of racism – hatred of Arabs who were seen to be inherently duplicitous and only able to learn their lessons through violence. Unforgivable bombardment of Baghdad and Fallujah fixed the outlines, which were then colored in by lesser actions up and down the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Iraq now lingers despite every effort over the past decade to erase it from the map.
There is little reported news from southern Libya, where a battle is raging in the crossroads city of Sabha between two rivals – and unofficial – armies, the forces of the city of Misrata and the Libyan National Army led by General Khalifa Haftar. Earnest protests by residents of the city for the war to go elsewhere have been ignored. Moth-eaten military bases and lucrative checkpoints are the targets of this war. Sabha sits at a strategic point in the Sahara Desert, linking the trafficking from Agadez (Niger), Darfur (Sudan), Zouar (Chad), Kidal, Gao and Menaka (Mali) and Ghat (Algeria). It is through Sabha had human traffickers cart people to the Libyan coastline to become refugees to Europe or extremists for the wars in Libya and Syria as well as back to Boko Haram in Nigeria. Africa’s central region has been wracked by war, driven not merely by terrorism but by IMF-induced economic collapse, Western-backed kleptocracy, and the wars of Africa’s Great Lakes for resources – including those that run our cell-phones – that have spilled out of the Congo region. NATO’s regime change war in Libya, the French military intervention in Libya and the presence of US Special Forces in 33 of the 54 African states did little to settle an already disturbed situation. There is little to chose between the wars in Libya and in the eastern Congo – both catastrophic for the future of Africa, both fueled by the capillaries of economic polices driven by the West and by an arms industry buoyed by Western arms sales.
Why does the United States have this vast footprint across Africa and – indeed – the entire world? Why does the United States – which already has five military bases in Colombia and a considerable base in Paraguay – plan to build another large base in Peru? What is the point of the drive to push NATO eastwards from Germany’s eastern border to Russia’s western border? Why do US warships patrol close to the Chinese coastline and in the waters off Iran? Why is the United States’ arms industry the largest in the world, and why does the US government eagerly lobby for arms sales to countries that its own State Department chastises for human rights violations?
No Great Power claims to exercise authority for its own interests or for the interests of those businesses that dominate its institutions. They like to speak about humanitarian obligations – whether to protect civilians from other humans or from natural disasters. They put on the cloak of protection to suggest that they are above crass monetary interests, whether theft of resources or control of markets. The United States – currently the most powerful state on the planet – is no different. It too suggests that it goes to war to protect humanity – using weapons of mass destruction to destroy weapons of mass destruction. In our liberal age, it is hard to define wars in terms of self-interest. That is what makes the wars and economic policies of our time so mystifying. We are told that they the bitter medicine for the good of the planet, when in fact they are the use of force – by gun or by pen – for the betterment of very small numbers of people against the collective interest of the working-people of the planet. Our bewilderment comes from the thick cloak of ideology that covers over the real motivations of the powerful.
‘Globalization’ meant that firms no longer produce their goods and services near their markets. The planet was their factory, with bits and pieces of goods made here and there and assembled in yet another place. Power of workers deteriorated as business owners made decisions to set up their plants where they could squeeze the best deals from desperate states. Businesses found that they needed to ensure the safety of their communications networks, their transportation systems and their intellectual property. The Global Commodity Chain – which is what this novel form of production is called – had to be protected from hackers and pirates. It is to this end that the United States and its allies revived old Cold War bases and built new bases to defend the commodity chain and supply lines, to ensure that Big Business was not vulnerable to any attack. Meanwhile, ordinary people saw their wages decline as they competed on a global scale for low-tech production and as robots displaced them in strategically situated high-tech factories. Donald Trump’s economic nationalism is ignorant of these realities.
Those US ships that sail in the South-China Sea are not there to protect Taiwan or South Korea. They are there to protect the Global Commodity Chain. With the emergence of Russia and China – in particular – as regional powers, the US has tried to hem them in. The tensions between the United States and Russia-China is not because the former is benevolent and the latter are malevolent, but because they are in the midst of a geo-strategic battle over whether the United States and its allies should be the only ones to control the supply lines and the commodity chain, as well as how money is moved around (the SWIFT network) and how money is valued (whether the Dollar remains the main currency). This is a dangerous battle that could well go out of control. The victims of that war will once more be in the proxy battlefields of the Global South, where the blood already, ‘mysteriously,’ flows.
Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
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Pathetic: USA “intelligence” report on Clinton leaks provides no evidence of Russia’s involvement

The latest US intelligence report into Russian involvement in the US election fails to provide evidence of Russian involvement in the Clinton leaks but focuses obsessively on RT.
A week ago, following release of Grizzly Steppe, the FBI/Homeland Security report supposedly substantiating the US intelligence community’s report that Russian intelligence was behind the hacking of the DNC and of Podesta, I said that the Russian hacking scandal is starting more and more to resemble the Iraq WMD debacle, with one dodgy dossier succeeding another.
That claim found vindication today with the release of a further 25 page report, which in the event had nothing new to say about the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Podesta, but which focused instead on “analysing” Russian President Putin’s supposed motives, and discussing the role of RT at inordinate length.
The entirety of the case that Russia hacked the DNC and Podesta, and leaked the information it obtained to Wikileaks, is contained in the following paragraphs
Cyber Espionage Against US Political Organizations.
Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties. We assess Russian intelligence services collected against the US primary campaigns, think tanks, and lobbying groups they viewed as likely to shape future US policies.
In July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016.
The General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) probably began cyber operations aimed at the US election by March 2016. We assess that the GRU operations resulted in the compromise of the personal e-mail accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures.
By May, the GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC.
Public Disclosures of Russian-Collected Data.
We assess with high confidence that the GRU used the Guccifer 2.0 persona,, and WikiLeaks to release US victim data obtained in 3 cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets.
Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be an independent Romanian hacker, made multiple contradictory statements and false claims about his likely Russian identity throughout the election. Press reporting suggests more than one person claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 interacted with journalists.
Content that we assess was taken from e-mail accounts targeted by the GRU in March 2016 appeared on starting in June. We assess with high confidence that the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.
Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity. Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.
In early September, Putin said publicly it was important the DNC data was exposed to WikiLeaks, calling the search for the source of the leaks a distraction and denying Russian “state-level” involvement.
The Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks. RT’s editor-in-chief visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2013, where they discussed renewing his broadcast contract with RT, according to Russian and Western media. Russian media subsequently announced that RT had become “the only Russian media company” to partner with WikiLeaks and had received access to “new leaks of secret information.” RT routinely gives Assange sympathetic coverage and provides him a platform to denounce the United States.
No substantiating evidence is provided for these assertions, which are purely affirmative, though the references to Putin’s comments about the leaks and to RT’s supposed connections to Julian Assange and to Wikileaks, are apparently thrown in to give the impression that they are such evidence.  Needless to say they are nothing of the sort.
Nor is there anything new in these assertions save that the earlier claim that the Russian counter-intelligence the FSB was involved – previously made by the private company CrowdStrike – has been dropped, with the whole blame now being placed on the Russian military’s intelligence agency the GRU.  Possibly this is because US intelligence knows, as CrowdStrike apparently does not, that the FSB unlike the GRU is not an espionage agency.
The fact that the entirety of the blame for the Clinton leaks is now being laid at the door of the GRU presumably means that it is now alleged that both Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear work for the GRU even though CrowdStrike says they were working in ignorance and at cross-purposes with each other.
The report is a redacted version of a classified document which supposedly contains the evidence for these assertions. Whilst the report does not say what that evidence is, it does make this statement
Many of the key judgments in this assessment rely on a body of reporting from multiple sources that are consistent with our understanding of Russian behaviorInsights into Russian efforts—including specific cyber operations—and Russian views of key US players derive from multiple corroborating sources. Some of our judgments about Kremlin preferences and intent are drawn from the behavior of Kremlin loyal political figures, state media, and pro-Kremlin social media actors, all of whom the Kremlin either directly uses to convey messages or who are answerable to the Kremlin. The Russian leadership invests significant resources in both foreign and domestic propaganda and places a premium on transmitting what it views as consistent, self-reinforcing narratives regarding its desires and redlines, whether on Ukraine, Syria, or relations with the United States.
(bold italics added)
This paragraph strongly suggests that the case is largely inferred from the US intelligence community’s “understanding of Russian behaviour” based on its “insights” rather than from actual knowledge. Indeed the report’s extensive references to President Putin’s public statements, those of other Russian officials, of the Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, of Russian media figures, and of RT, essentially says as much, even though none of the reported statements comes remotely close to being an admission of Russian involvement in the Clinton leaks.
Reuters report which appeared yesterday makes the following further assertion
U.S. intelligence agencies obtained what they considered to be conclusive evidence after the November election that Russia provided hacked material from the Democratic National Committee to WikiLeaks through a third party, three U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
U.S. officials had concluded months earlier that Russian intelligence agencies had directed the hacking, but had been less certain that they could prove Russia also had controlled the release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
This is incidentally an admission that earlier claims made during the election that Russia had provided the Clinton leaks to Wikileaks were at that time no more than guesses.
There is no information as to who this supposed “third party” is, or how the Russians provided this “third party” with the Clinton leaks, or how the “third party” provided the Clinton leaks to Wikileaks.
The only information that has appeared publicly since the election concerning how the Clinton leaks actually reached Wikileaks has come from Julian Assange and from Craig Murray.  Both have denied that Wikileaks obtained the Clinton leaks from Russia.
There have been some suggestions that in his recent interview with Sean Hannity Julian Assange supposedly admitted that the Clinton leaks might have originated in Russia and have reached Wikileaks through a third party, though not directly from the Russian government.  This is however a complete misrepresentation of what Assange actually said.  Once again Assange’s clear denial that Wikileaks obtained the Clinton leaks from the Russian government is being treated as an admission of something else: that Wikileaks might have obtained the Clinton leaks from the Russian government via a “third party”.
An NBC report – which has provoked the fury of Donald Trump – has also made the following claim
The U.S. has also identified Russian actors who turned over stolen Democratic material to WikiLeaks, the source told NBC News Thursday.
(bold italics added)
These words are highly ambiguous, and may not refer to the supposed “third party” at all, but rather to the Russian officials or agencies who are supposed to have been behind the release of the Clinton leaks to Wikileaks via the supposed “third party”.  However the claim that the US has identified “the Russian actors who turned over the stolen Democratic material to Wikileaks”, taken together with the reference to RT in the report directly after the discussion of the Clinton leaks (see above) may be intended to suggest that the “third party” is RT.  That might also explain the disproportionate amount of attention given to RT in the report.
If so then this flatly contradicts what both Julian Assange and Craig Murray have said.   Since RT is a Russian government funded broadcaster Assange would certainly treat RT as an agency of the Russian government.  RT is therefore covered by Assange’s assertion that Wikileaks did not receive the Clinton leaks from the Russian government.
One thing which has become very clear over the last few months is the extent of the paranoia of some people within the US intelligence community about Wikileaks and RT.  Lurid claims about RT dominate the report, whilst an article in the Huffington Post contains this extraordinary comment about Wikileaks by a former NSA official
One former National Security Agency analyst said the consensus view among U.S. intelligence holds there is no real difference between Assange and the Russians ― pointing out Assange’s role in finding NSA leaker Edward Snowden sanctuary in Moscow. “The only real debate is when the relationship began,” said John Schindler, who added that by 2013, Wikileaks essentially had become a mouthpiece for Russian intelligence. “This is not complicated.”
(bold italics added)
This is a paranoid claim, which takes Edward Snowden for a Russian agent, and assumes Wikileaks is an agency controlled by Russian intelligence because of its supposed role in spiriting Snowden to Moscow.  That Snowden never wanted to go to Moscow, and only ended up there because the US obstructed his journey to Brazil, is a fact that is apparently of no importance.
Back in October (before the  US election) a failed attempt was made to close down RT’s London branch in parallel with action to deny Julian Assange computer access.  At that time I linked these two actions together and said they were almost certainly related to the Clinton leaks
Here I am going to align myself with Adam Garrie and with those who think that it is no coincidence that this attack came on the same day as Julian Assange was denied internet access.  Moreover this clearly points to the US Presidential election, and the roles Julian Assange, Wikileaks and Russia, are taking or are supposed to be taking in the election, being the reason for the attack.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been hit by a series of leaks of emails published by Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Hillary Clinton, her campaign, the Western media, and US intelligence, are all blaming Russia for these leaks, and are saying that it is Russia that is providing the hacked and stolen emails to Assange and Wikileaks.  The implication is that Assange and Wikileaks, whether consciously or not, are Russian agents. 
I have said previously why I personally doubt this is so, and I have explained why the statement US intelligence has published blaming Russia cannot be taken as proof of this
The US nonetheless publicly insists it is the case, and it has been talking openly of taking retaliatory action against Russia because of the leaks. The cutting off of Assange from the internet and the action against RT look to me like precisely the sort of retaliatory action the US has been talking about. 
To be precise they look to me like an attempt to plug the leaks by simultaneously acting against the person who is producing the leaks and the operation in Britain – the country where Assange is located and where Wikileaks is mainly based – of the Russian television channel the US believes Russia is using to disseminate news of the leaks 
The coincidence of the simultaneous actions against Assange and RT is just too strong to leave me personally in any doubt that the two events are connected.
The 25 page report US intelligence just published, with its obsessive and frankly paranoid claims about RT, bears all this out.
However it seems we have now moved a whole giant step further.  Whereas in October it appeared that the action against RT was intended to prevent RT disseminating the Clinton leaks, now it seems that US intelligence has convinced itself that RT was in some way responsible for the Clinton leaks as part of some sinister Kremlin inspired conspiracy to swing the election to Donald Trump.
If so then all I can say is that this demonstrates the paranoia involving Russia of some people within the US intelligence community and the Democratic Party, and the extent to which they have become lost in the ‘wilderness of mirrors’.
It is no secret that most people in Russia wanted Donald Trump to win the US Presidential election.  Trump has repeatedly spoken of the need to improve relations with Russia.  By contrast his opponent – Hillary Clinton – gave the impression of wanting to heighten tensions with Russia to a state not seen since the darkest days of the Cold War.  That alone is sufficient to explain why most Russians – including most Russian politicians, officials and journalists – would have wanted Trump to win.
That the Russian media – including RT – were influenced by this preference in their reporting is completely natural and unsurprising.  It is also something which is completely legitimate.
No one is alleging that the British government illegally interfered in the US Presidential election because some British politicians openly spoke out against Donald Trump, and because the BBC – a publicly funded news organisation with far greater prestige in the US than RT – together with the rest of the British media, openly favoured Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.  Why then is it wrong for Russian politicians, Russian media, and for people working at RT, to have a preference for Donald Trump?
To lump this together with the Clinton leaks, the saga of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange’s RT appearances, and the fact that the DNC and Podesta hacks may have used malware developed in Russia, in order to form a theory of a gigantic Russian conspiracy to swing the US Presidential election to Donald Trump masterminded by President Putin himself, is beyond ridiculous.  That however is the paranoid scenario we are now being asked to accept.
This preposterous affair would never have gained the traction that it has were it not for the fact of it being used by certain politicians in the Democratic Party and by US President Obama himself to try to discredit and delegitimise Donald Trump.
With President Obama about to go, and with this latest report having nothing of substance to say, that attempt has clearly failed.  My own view is that we are now passed the peak of this affair, and that it will soon be over.
Donald Trump’s generous statement about the US intelligence community today, which however conceded nothing of substance, suggests that he thinks the same.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

End of the US Empire: Russian Warships Just Arrived in the Philippines

January 06, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – “ANTIMEDIA” – Notable American foreign policy critic and linguist, Professor Noam Chomsky, has stated numerous times that the United States’ power has steadily been declining since the end of World War II. As Chomsky notes, in 1945, the United States had “literally half the world’s wealth, incredible security, controlled the entire Western Hemisphere, both oceans, [and[ the opposite sides of both oceans.”
In that context – and in the context of the United States waging war in multiple countries across the globe with the most advanced military technology in the world – it is hard to understand how this has happened. But Chomsky is not wrong.
Beginning with what was referred to as the “loss of China” in the 1940s, the United States slowly began to lose areas of Southeast Asia, which led America to brutally launch the Indochina wars. As Chomsky notes, by destroying South Vietnam in the heavily criticized Vietnam War — a move designed to prevent Vietnam from achieving independence and perhaps becoming a Communist state — the U.S. sent a message to the rest of Indochina that if a nation attempted to break free of U.S-European control, it would likely be bombed into oblivion. The strategy worked at the time; as Chomsky notes, by 1965, every country in the region had dictatorships that were prepared to rule in a way suitable to America’s foreign policy interests. As recent developments in the Asian region have shown, however, the success of this bully-style strategy has been short-lived indeed.
Regardless, the United States has also lost South America. According to Chomsky, the “loss” of South America is easily observable:
“One sign is that the United States has been driven out of every single military base in South America. We’re trying to restore a few, but right now there are none.”
Over the course of the last few decades, the United States has begun to lose the Middle East, as well. In Iraq, the United States helped support Saddam Hussein’s rise to power and went so far to support his war of aggression against neighboring Iran. Then, the U.S. turned its back on Hussein, attacking Iraq in 1991 under the presidency of George H.W. Bush. As a result, the U.S. learned at least one valuable lesson from bombing Iraq in the early nineties: that Russia was not going to intervene in America’s ambitions in the Middle East.
The Middle East was, therefore, ripe for the taking, and this continued to be the case up until the Syrian war. What people fail to understand, however, is that the United States is not bombing the Middle East into submission because of its immense power, but because it is losing its power, influence, and control throughout the region.
As should be quite clear to anyone following the conflict, Russia has replaced the United States as judge, jury, and executioner (and supposed peace broker) in the five-year Syrian war, successfully retaking the major city of Aleppo from NATO-backed rebel groups.
Russia’s advances in the Middle East have spilled over to the rest of the world. In October of last year, the U.S. officially “lost” its stranglehold over the Philippines. Though it was previously seen as an integral ally U.S. ally vital to countering China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines openly and proudly boasted about their new ties with Russia and China.
As it transpires, the Philippines has put its money where its mouth is. Russian warships arrived in Filipino territory this Tuesday. According to the Philippines’ Navy, the visit is merely a “goodwill visit,” but the future of joint exercises is to be discussed. A report from Russia’s state-run Sputnik News seemed to contradict this, stating the ships were there specifically to conduct joint exercises with Philippine forces for the purposes of fighting maritime piracy and terrorism.
“You can choose to cooperate with United States of America or to cooperate with Russia,” Russian Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov said, speaking at the Manila Harbor.“But from our side we can help you in every way that you need. We are sure that in the future we’ll have exercises with you. Maybe just maneuvering or maybe use of combat systems and so on.”
Mikhailov also seemed to indicate that other players in the region, such as China and Malaysia, would coordinate with the potential training exercises within the next few years. Russia has also offered the Philippines sophisticated weaponry, including aircraft and submarines.
The United States has only one move left: surround Russia’s borders with NATO troops and missiles, which they are doing quite rapidly. Sooner or later, however, the United States will have to admit its very real decline in world standing and will have no choice but to learn to coordinate global affairs with the likes of Russia and China.
Let’s face it — what is the alternative?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House editorial policy.
Duterte visits Russian destroyer, wants Moscow to be ally & protector: “We welcome our Russian friends. Anytime you want to dock here for anything, for play, for replenish supplies or maybe our ally to protect us,” Duterte said as cited by Reuters
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Merry Christmas Russia!

January 7 is celebrated as Christmas day by millions of Orthodox Christians around the world. A midnight liturgy is scheduled for tonight at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior.  You can watch the service here. Merry Christmas to all!

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Don't Israel my Facebook

Actually forget FB,  move to  NOW!

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McCain’s Largely Unreported Treachery Against the USA

McCain’s Largely Unreported Treachery Against the US

Arizona’s recently re-elected Republican senator John McCain, along with his faithful «drama queen» accomplice South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, recently met with a contingent of Ukrainian troops at a «forward combat zone» in Shyrokyne in eastern Ukraine and publicly questioned president-elect Donald Trump’s plans to defrost America’s chilly relations with Russia. For McCain, his return to his personal war front in Ukraine came three years after he stood with Ukrainian neo-Nazis and fascists on Kiev’s Maidan Square calling for the ouster of president Viktor Yanukovych.Meanwhile, McCain, Graham, and their neo-conservative allies within the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as press outlets like The Washington Post, have questioned Trump’s ultimate loyalty to the United States. The neocons’ angst arises from their anger over the incoming president wisely doubting the efficacy of Central Intelligence Agency «intelligence» linking Russia to a spate of computer penetrations of U.S. computer systems and networks, including pre-election hacks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and private email of Hillary Clinton’s top campaign officials.
After President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from Washington, DC and San Francisco and shut down two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York in retaliation for unproven Russian government involvement in the hacking, McCain and his neocon war hawks doubled down by claiming that Russian hacking of U.S. computer systems amounted to an «act of war». Seizing on the neocons’ war frenzy, the CIA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Russian hackers had penetrated the electrical power grid operated by Vermont’s Burlington Electric. The Washington Post, owned by Amazon billionaire and CIA cloud computing contractor Jeff Bezos, echoed the grid hacking story as factual.
There was only one problem with the Russian electrical grid hacking headline: it was not true. Burlington Electric revealed that a laptop computer in the possession of a Burlington Electric employee, which allegedly was infected by a malware program linked by the U.S. government to Russian hackers, was never connected to the Vermont electrical grid. The laptop contained a hackers’ software package called Neutrino, which is not linked, in any way, to Russia. An attempt by the «Amazon Post» and the war hawks to pin the Vermont grid story on Russia and link it to the DNC hacking fell flat on its face.
Burlington Electric issued a statement on December 30, 2016, identifying DHS as the «boy who cried wolf» that issued the same «Russian malware» scare to electric utilities across the United States. The statement read, «Last night, U.S. utilities were alerted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of a malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the name DHS has applied to a Russian campaign linked to recent hacks. We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature. We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems».
It turned out that Ukraine, the country where McCain, Graham, and Minnesota’s rather myopic Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar were kibitzing with army troops and neo-Nazi armed militia members over the holidays, was the source of the malware hacking program used to hack into DNC computersThe Washington Post was also forced to shamefully retract its grid hacking story. The episode was yet another example of the haste at which the outgoing Obama administration and the neocon toadies in the Republican Party led by McCain were apt to blame any bad news on «the Russians». It was as if the Cold War witch hunter senator Joseph McCarthy had met the Keystone Kops. The situation would have been funny had it not been for the fact that the actions of Obama and the neocons propelled the world closer to cataclysmic warfare with the likes of McCain, Graham, and others beating the war drums.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and DHS amateurishly coined the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC computers with the cover term «Grizzly Steppe», a code phrase that would have been rejected by any legitimate Hollywood movie script writer as being too cartoonish and campy. Moreover, the malware used in the hacking of the Democrats’ computers was an antiquated version of PHP, a program originally designed for personal home pages, hence the abbreviation PHP, but which now stands for «PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor».
The PHP malware was found to be freely distributed by a Ukrainian hacker group as a hackers’ tool. Although the FBI, DHS, and CIA did not bother to investigate whether the Ukrainian hackers were linked to McCain’s and Graham’s friends in the Ukrainian intelligence service, the Ukrainians would have had every reason to initiate a further damaging fracture in relations between the United States and Russia. Furthermore, the Ukrainians could have availed themselves of «network weaving» tools to run their malware through servers in Russia.
In fact, the amateurish FBI/DHS «Grizzly Steppe» report found that the Ukrainian malware, later blamed on the Russians, had passed through the IP [Internet Protocol] addresses of 389 organizations in 61 different countries. None of the 389 malware pass-through IPs, including those of the University of Michigan; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York; Datasource AG in Ingmarso, Sweden; Hunenberg, Switzerland; Kustbandet AB in Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria; Voxility S.R.L. of Bucharest; and – the company owned by none other than Washington Post owner and CIA contractor Mr. Bezos! – were linked to the Russian government. These include the United States, Ukraine, Russia, China, France, Germany, Seychelles, Moldova, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Montenegro, Romania, and Israel. Such a rich global network, which included several TOR anonymous browsing gateways, would have provided more than ample network weaving opportunities to mask the original Ukrainian digital fingerprints on the actual hacking of DNC computers.
The malware program, called P.A.S. version 3.1.7., is contained in a web shell of PHP code. The malware program states that it is «Made in Ukraine» and the date of the program, 2011-2016 is followed by the letters «UA,» the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) two-letter code for Ukraine
In eastern Ukraine, standing alongside a camouflage-festooned chocolate mogul president Petro Poroshenko, McCain and Graham accused Russia of «attacking» the United States, with Graham accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of «hacking our election». Both called for increased sanctions against Russia. However, the sum-total of computer security knowledge of these two Republican fossils would not exceed that possessed by a kindergarten student in Arizona or South Carolina.
Rather than accuse other Americans, including Mr. Trump, of engaging in potentially treasonous activities, perhaps Mr. McCain should recall the charges made by several U.S. prisoners-of-war about his «singing» to his North Vietnamese captors after his plane was shot down over Hanoi in October 1967. McCain, according to some fellow POWs who later spoke out, gladly gave his captors about six months’ worth of U.S. Navy operational plans for the bombing of North Vietnam and Laos. McCain’s psychosis about Russia reportedly could stem from his time at the «Hanoi Hilton» POW prison. McCain was given the Russian KGB code name «Jack Mouse» and, per Chan Chong Duet, the commander of the prison, the downed Navy pilot and son of the U.S. Pacific Forces Commander, Admiral John McCain, Jr., was quite free with the information he passed to North Vietnamese, Cuban, and Soviet officers while being treated for his wounds by Soviet doctors. If McCain wants to question the loyalty of any American, he should look into a mirror. He should also seek out psychiatric assistance

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