‘Moscow’s genius move’: Syrian Kurds will join Syrian Army and Russians to cooperate on assault on Idlib – By Jafe Arnold- Fort Russ News (SOTT)

SDF patrolling streets

© AFP 2018 / DELIL SOULEIMAN

RusVesna reports that the hitherto US-backed mixed Kurdish-Arab units under the brand of “Syrian Democratic Forces” have decided to put on Syrian Arab Army uniforms and fight terrorist forces in cooperation with Moscow and Damascus.

Sources on the ground have reportedly said that in the cities of Nubbol and Zahra in the Aleppo province, Kurdish militias have fully joined forces with Syrian troops.

Local units of the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ have resolved to don Syrian Arab Army uniforms in order to not be singled out by Turkish forces in the impending battle for Idlib and the western part of the Aleppo province.

The largest Turkish news agency, Anadolu, has reportedly confirmed this, with an Anadolu correspondent in Aleppo saying: “As part of an agreement with the Bashar Assad regime, the YPG organization has deployed 1300 fighters over the past two weeks to the regime-controlled Aleppo province. On the morning of August 11th, a convoy with YPG fighters went via Manbij to Aleppo.’

As FRN has reported, YPG commander-in-chief Sipan Hemo recently declared that Kurdish forces would join Syrian forces in anti-terrorist operations in the north.

These developments follow months of Russian military negotiations with Kurdish elders and field commanders to persuade them to cooperate with Damascus, RusVesna reports, calling this “Moscow’s genius move.”

The pledge of SDF and YPG forces to aid the Syrian Arab Army comes not only as rumors and reports have suggested that a Syrian northern offensive is imminent, but also in tandem with significant statements from both Turkey, which has troops in the area, and Russia, which militarily backs Damascus.

Following Turkish President Erdogan’s announcement on Sunday that Ankara is preparing a new military operation in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov visited Ankara yesterday, where he stressed that Syria has the right to defend itself from attacks in Idlib, and stated:

“As for Syria, today we are discussing via different channels the objectives of tackling resistance by the remaining terrorist groups and returning the armed opposition that rejects terrorist methods to peaceful life. [We are also] discussing the complete implementation of agreements on the de-escalation zones, including Idlib.”

At the same time, Lavrov suggested that the US is trying to undermine the Astana peace process through sanctions.

At the press conference with Lavrov, Turkey’s foreign minister Cavusoglu conveyed:

“The Idlib zone is home to more than three million civilians, but there are also terrorists from Eastern Ghouta, Aleppo and other zones there. They threaten the civilian population. We should have a common strategy with Russia and other powers, identify and eliminate terrorists. Despite their presence, we cannot bomb the city, as it will result in mass casualties [among civilians]. We should separate radicals and civilians. We must conduct the fight against terrorists together.”

Both Lavrov and Cavusoglu’s statements seem to suggest that an offensive operation in Northern Syria is imminent. It is likely that the fate of Turkish forces and other armed groups occupying Syrian territory will be decided in multilateral negotiations in the coming days.

Comment: Except for a few tactical blunders (e.g., the loss of Palmyra after it was liberated), the Russian campaign in Syria has just been one success after another. Compare with the U.S. effort in Iraq and Afghanistan and draw what conclusions you will.

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Netanyahu and May ‘partners in crime’ over Gaza’s ‘rivers of blood’, Palestinian activist tells RT – By RT

Netanyahu and May ‘partners in crime’ over Gaza’s ‘rivers of blood’,  Palestinian activist tells RT
British PM Theresa May is complicit in the ‘crimes’ of her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, a leading UK-based Palestinian campaigner has told RT, a day before the Israeli leader visits London.

Netanyahu has this week been visiting his European allies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, lobbying them to follow the US and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

While he plans to do the same with May, London-based Palestinian activists are demanding he face questions over the scores of Palestinians shot in Gaza by the Israeli military in the past two months.

Up to 121 Palestinians have been killed and around 13,000 injured since the Great Return March started on March 30. Protesters marched to a fence, erected by the Israeli government, demanding the right to return to the land they were expelled or fled from following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. As they approached the fence they were shot at. Israel claims most of the protesters were Hamas ‘terrorists’ trying to infiltrate their country.

In the UK, thousands are expected to protest outside Downing Street on Tuesday for all of those killed, which include Palestinian nurse Razan Al-Najjar ,21, who was shot dead by Israeli snipers last Friday while helping those injured by the Israel Defence Force’s use of live ammunition.

Up to 50 UK health workers signed a letter saying they are “deeply concerned about the level of violence” in Gaza, citing that Al-Najjar’s death was in “violation” of the Geneva Conventions. They called on the government to follow suit and urged the UN to launch an independent inquiry into her visibly unprovoked killing.

Adie Mormech, from Stop Arming Israel and previously a lecturer in Gaza, told RT: “Razan is the second Palestinian medic to be killed in the last 2 months and many more have been shot and injured.

“The horror of these crimes against the Palestinians is clear for all who dare to look, well documented by all the major human right organisations and amidst the ongoing, crippling 11 year siege of Gaza that I spent two years living in, when it was deplorable but not as bad as it is now.

“One has to ask, how many medics, with their hands in the air, have to be executed by the Israeli army until the world holds Israel to account?”

The Downing Street protest comes shortly after it surfaced that the UK’s defense contractors are selling a record amount of arms to Israel.

According to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the UK last year issued £221m worth of arms licenses to defense contractors selling military equipment to Israel. A significant increase compared to £86 million ($114 million) in 2016.

Mormech said: “Britain has increased Israeli weapons exports the more Palestinians have been murdered. It is appalling and completely inexcusable that Israel is rewarded by Britain given the rivers of blood that are currently flowing through Gaza from the shootings and accompanying bombing campaigns.

“The fact Netanyahu is visiting the UK says to me that these are partners in crimes, profiting from the spoils of the brutality with which Israel is treating the Palestinians.”

The recent escalation of violence has prompted various British politicians to demand the the government halts its arms sales to Israel, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn calling for their review in April.

The conduct by the IDF over the past sixty days has been met with international criticism from human rights organizations, who have called into question the appropriateness of using live ammunition against peaceful protesters. Israel blames Palestinian organization Hamas for the casualties, and claimed most of those killed were members of terrorist groups trying to make it into the country to attack Jewish forces and civilians.

The UN has launched a war crime investigation into what it described as Israel’s “wholly disproportionate” reaction to the protesters. The US was one of the two states opposed to the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution, while the UK was among the 14 to abstain.

By Claire Gilbody-Dickerson, RT

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Press review: Trump cancels North Korean summit and how Gazprom’s anti-trust battle ended – By TASS

May 25, 13:00 UTC+3

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday

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© AP Photo/Evan Vucci

 

Kommersant: Trump cancels meeting with North Korean leader, but door may re-open

US President Donald Trump on Thursday announced his decision to cancel the much-talked-about meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. Trump cited the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in Kim’s latest statements, which convinced him that holding the meeting at this point in time was inadvisable.

Kommersant writes that despite the meeting’s cancellation, Trump signaled that dialogue may be held in the future. This means that after exchanging accusations Washington and Pyongyang may return to pragmatic bargaining on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Experts interviewed by Kommersant note that the real reason behind Trump’s decision was that Pyongyang was not ready to fulfill some of Washington’s conditions rather than Kim’s latest statements. It is noteworthy that the North Korean leader has not made any statements regarding the US over the past weeks – the official position was voiced by North Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

 

“We faced a situation, when there is a big gap between the Trump team’s expectations and what North Korea may really offer. The US demand that the summit in Singapore should result in North Korea’s commitment to eliminating its nuclear program by 2020 doomed the idea of this meeting to failure from the very beginning,” Vasily Kashin, senior research fellow at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Kommersant.

Complete denuclearization may be achieved only through years-long step-by-step talks that build up mutual measures of trust and US readiness to make serious concessions to North Korea, the expert noted.

Alexey Arbatov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said: “During the preparations for the meeting Donald Trump achieved no serious concessions, besides Pyongyang’s pledge to halt nuclear tests, which may be resumed at any moment.”

 

Kommersant: Gazprom’s anti-trust battle with EU ends with no penalty

Russia’s state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom has settled its six-year antitrust case with the European Commission. In the end, Brussels did not impose any fine in exchange for Gazprom’s vow to comply with the European Commission’s terms, Kommersant writes. This may result in gas price cuts for Eastern European markets and also brings Brussels closer to fulfilling its dream on creating a single EU gas market. The case won’t be a disaster for Gazprom, which has successfully adapted to a changing market over the past several years, the paper says.

Market sources said it is difficult to assess the energy giant’s losses because it depends on the oil prices and the gas demand in a particular country. However, these losses are incomparable with the 10 bln euro fine, which Gazprom had faced.

This is a very good outcome for Gazprom because the antitrust investigation had been hanging over its head for several years, Maria Belova from Vygon Consulting told the paper.

Meanwhile, market sources expect that Poland will challenge the European Commission’s decision with a lawsuit. However, a source in a major European gas company believes that Warsaw’s chances for success are slim. So far, Poland’s attempts to challenge the European Commission’s decisions in cases related to Gazprom have failed.

 

Izvestia: EAEU to get its own cryptocurrency by 2020

By 2020, the Eurasian Economic Union’s (EAEU) member-states will have their own cryptocurrency. The Eurasian Economic Commission is working on its creation now, a source close to the executive body told Izvestia. Another source close to the Central Bank, two bankers familiar with the situation and President of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Yuri Pripachkin also confirmed this plan. According to the experts, a digital currency will simplify the settlement of accounts between the countries and will make it possible to skirt sanctions.

A name for the single cryptocurrency has not been chosen yet, but a working title has been put forward – the cryptoaltyn (altyn is a historical Russian currency first mentioned in 1375). “The EAEU may get its own cryptocurrency earlier than its single currency,” Pripachkin said.

Forex Club analyst Ivan Marchena said the idea of creating its own currency is vital for the Eurasian Economic Union. Obviously, digital money is capturing the market, he noted. “The first steps on legitimizing cryptocurrencies have been made,” Marchena noted. “Belarus has subsequently recognized them, and Russia is drafting legislation on this matter.”

The EAEU’s cryptocurrency may be considered an international unit of account to carry out cross-border financial transfers across the Eurasian space, head of the rating service of the National Rating Agency Tatyana Kovaleva said. “Its introduction will make it possible to ease up and accelerate settling accounts and reducing most transaction expenses,” she said.

Many countries have announced plans to create national cryptocurrencies, including Sweden, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, India, the United Kingdom and China. However, the world’s first national cryptocurrency, El Petro, was introduced by Venezuela and is pegged to the price of one barrel of oil. The country sought to bypass sanctions and hoped to attract Russian, Chinese and Middle Eastern financing.

 

RBC: Can Macron’s visit to Russia improve ties with Moscow?

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron began his first two-day visit to Russia with France’s head of state holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During Macron’s first year in office, Paris has been building up relations with Russia on the cultural and economic fronts, though ties in other areas have come to a standstill. However, France shows interest in resetting dialogue, experts told RBC.

RBC has analyzed the progress in fulfilling major programs, which the Russian and French presidents announced a year ago.

The Trianon Dialogue, aimed at intensifying contacts between the Russian and French civil society, was put together in December 2017 and held its first session on urban development at the Gaidar Forum in Moscow in January. Now, a plan for further endeavors has been outlined for 2018 and partly for 2019, Alexander Orlov, Russia’s former Ambassador to France and the Executive Secretary of the Trianon Dialogue, said. The Trianon Dialogue’s official opening will take place when the two presidents meet at SPIEF. Among the many proposals is one to lift visa requirements for young Russian and French citizens under 18. The initiative is a major one, if not the only breakthrough in bilateral ties over the past year, said Arnaud Dubien, Director of the Observo French-Russian analytical center.

According to Dubien, nothing has been done on the key issues of foreign policy between Moscow and Paris, particularly on Ukraine and Syria. However, other countries, rather than Russia and France, should be blamed for the lack of progress, he noted. It is not ruled out that the meeting between the two leaders in St. Petersburg may bring about some progress in dialogue, Dubien said.

The minimum goal is to put the brakes on the deterioration in relations, and the maximum goal is to create a framework for renewing dialogue, the expert said. “There won’t be full normalization and a return to the previous relationship, as many things have happened. But it is important to demonstrate this aspiration given the new challenges,” he stressed.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Iran demands Europe’s carte blanche for missile program

On Friday, Vienna will hold a meeting between senior officials from those states, which still remain parties to the Iranian nuclear deal. Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that the conference will be held without Washington’s participation. Now Iran demands that its European partners fulfill a number of conditions to salvage the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Tehran expects some EU states will not only keep their investments in its economy, but also won’t criticize its foreign policy and its missile program.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei castigated France, Germany and the UK for silencing the US failure to meet its commitments under the JCPOA. Europe should compensate for Iran’s losses arising from the new US sanctions, he wrote on Twitter. Europe should provide guarantees that it won’t question Iran’s missile program and its regional affairs, he said. The EU states should also guarantee that Iranian oil will be fully sold.

Meanwhile, experts interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta believe that Tehran’s conditions will be difficult to meet.

“I think that the guarantees of European banks on economic deals are the most difficult issue,” said Stefan Meister, who heads a program for Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). “They [European banks] are very frightened by the US sanctions and are afraid of losing access to the US market. Several other demands are also not easy, especially the refusal to review the missile program.”

The expert’s assessment that some European companies will follow the US course was confirmed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement made during her two-day visit to China.

Khamenei’s push will hardly encourage international mediators of the nuclear deal from the EU, Yuliya Sveshnikova, Research Associate at the Higher School of Economics, told the paper. According to her, this rhetoric is aimed more at domestic rather than foreign audiences. “The Europeans’ accord, their principal position on the JCPOA is one issue, and the practical possibility to give Tehran guarantees that Iran will get the advantages from the JCPOA even without the US participation, is another issue,” she said.

It is impossible to exert pressure on the businesses, who weigh all pros and cons, while the dependence on the US financial system and the supplies of components for production is very high, the expert explained.

 

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press review

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There is No Such Thing as Press Freedom in US’ – NYC Independent Journalist – By SPUTNIK

Man reads the newspaper

ok to make it difficult for users to find independent sources,” Danny Haiphong said.

Danny Haiphong notes that the most devastating effect on independent journalism, the anti-“fake news” campaign had on the internet, when Facebook and Google changed their search algorithms. The internet is an important platform for independent journalists as it is a very popular tool to search for information and the only way for minor media to reach out to the broader public.

READ MORE: US Moves Down 2 Places in Press Freedom Index — Watchdog

He also noted that the problem hasn’t disappeared with Trump, who often accuses media giants such as the New York Times of publishing “fake news.” According to Danny Haiphong, these media have adapted to the new situation and repressed left-wing and some right-wing media, depriving US citizens dissatisfied with both the corporate media and the political system of information that can “challenge the status quo.”

READ MORE: Press Freedom Watchdogs Silent on RT Registration as Foreign Agent in US

He summed up the situation saying that it was corporate media that created Trump and then used him to “stifle” independent press, promoting endless wars around the world instead of issues that really worry people all over the world, such as poverty, joblessness and healthcare.

War-time Journalism in Syria

The roots of this campaign against free media lie, according to Danny Haiphong, in the “desperate attempts to maintain hegemony” in the world. He is confident that as countries like Russia and China start growing more independent, this is creating “the need to censor independent media” in the US and allied countries. This censorship brands independent journalists as working for Russia and whose materials need to be prevented from reaching the minds of the public.

“The main risk is that the US and its allies only have one path to maintain legitimacy and power around the world: war. […] Every US intervention ends in disaster. This has created the need to censor independent media, which in the US and the West has taken the form of demonizing independent journalists as ‘agents of Russia’,” he said.

Commenting on journalism surrounding the situation in Syria, Danny Haiphong notes that it is information warfare, where “corporate media” feed people lies and discredit real journalists who try to tell the truth about false flag chemical attacks and other provocations taking place in the war-torn country.

“Corporate press has lied about the character of the “rebels” there [in Syria] and have consistently misreported chemical weapons attacks to justify a massive military invasion of the country. Then the corporate press has the nerve to call journalists such as Vanessa Beeley, who has been to Syria many times, a ‘9/11 truther’ and a dupe of Russia and the Assad government,” he said.

It’s not only the reports by independent journalists that are being ignored by the Western media. Recently, Russian media and the Russian delegation to the OPCW have presented to the public a young Syrian boy, Hassan Diab, who participated in White Helmets’ film about the alleged chemical attack in Douma.

READ MORE: Boy From White Helmets’ Video on Douma Attack Should Speak at UNSC — Moscow

But although he described how the fake video was made and how the participants were “rewarded” with food, his and many other witness testimonies from the press briefing of the Russian delegation to OPCW were largely ignored in Western media.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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Strike on Syria won’t remain without consequences – Russian ambassador to US – By RT

Strike on Syria won't remain without consequences – Russian ambassador to US
The Russian Ambassador to the US has warned of “consequences” after the US and its allies launched a coordinated military action against Syria.

Russia feels threatened by the US decision to strike Syrian targets in retaliation for the alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, which Moscow believes was staged.

“A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences,” Anatoly Antonov said in a statement on Friday night. “All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.”

Despite repeated warnings from Russia, US President Donald Trump has ordered American forces, along with their British and French allies, to strike military targets in Syria on Friday night. The Russian military operating in Syria was not notified about the American targets in advance, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters following the attacks.

The US “specifically identified” targets to “mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved,” Dunford said. “We used the normal deconfliction channel to deconflict airspace. We did not coordinate targets.”

While Trump said that the purpose of the US actions is to “establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons,” Antonov reminded that “the US – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.”

The combined decision by the US and its allies to strike Syria comes after Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Major-General Igor Konashenkov presented evidence claiming that last Saturday’s alleged chemical attack in Douma was orchestrated.

The attack also comes just hours before experts from the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were scheduled to visit Douma on Saturday to determine whether chemical weapons had indeed been used there.

Amid escalating tensions in the region, Russia has repeatedly warned the US and its allies against taking any military action in Syria, as it might lead to grave consequences for the whole world, especially given the fact that Russian troops are deployed in the country. Moscow also suggested that it will shoot down any projectiles that threaten Russian personnel fighting jihadists in Syria.

So far, there is no information that Russian citizens have been injured in the strike, the embassy in Damascus told RIA.

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World’s top 5 ‘most evil’ corporations – By RT

World’s top 5 ‘most evil’ corporations
Most companies become successful thanks to their stellar reputations. But not always. RT Business scraped the bottom of the barrel to find the most hated companies trending on the internet.

Monsanto

The company that needs no introduction, creator of DDT and Agent Orange, Monsanto is one the world’s largest pesticide and GMO seed manufacturers. It is known for being the first company to genetically modify a seed to make it resistant to pesticides and herbicides. Monsanto’s herbicides have been blamed for killing millions of crop acres, while its chemicals were added to blacklists of products causing cancer and many other health problems.

Apple

Once the darling of Microsoft-hating gadget lovers, Apple more recently has been accused of mistreating or underpaying their employees, hiding money offshore, and not paying taxes. It has also been accused of violating health or environmental legislation, and misusing its position where they have a monopoly in the market. And, oh yes, deliberately slowing older iPhones and overcharging for its products to boot.

Nestle

The world’s largest food and beverage company Nestle says it is committed to enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. However, it has been dragged through numerous scandals involving slave labor. The multinational is one of the most boycotted corporations in the world, as violations of labor rights have been reported at its factories in different countries.

Philip Morris

The products of the American multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company are sold in over 180 countries outside the United States. Philip Morris owns Marlboro, one of the world’s biggest brands. Back in 1999, Philip Morris courted officials of the Czech Republic by explaining how smoking would in fact help their economy, due to the reduced healthcare costs from its citizens dying early.

McDonald’s

American fast-food company McDonald’s was founded in 1940. The company serves more customers each day than the entire population of Great Britain, but has a long history of terrible labor practices. It has been constantly under fire for serving unhealthy junk food, which contributes health problems. Researchers have found that McDonald’s burgers cannot decompose on their own.

Notable mentions of corporations not quite evil enough to make the top list:

Goldman Sachs
JPMorgan Chase
ExxonMobil
Halliburton
British American Tobacco
Dow Chemical
DuPont
Bayer
Microsoft
Google
Facebook
Amazon
Walmart

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Russia becoming world’s bread basket with wheat exports feeding half the planet – By RT

Russia becoming world's bread basket with wheat exports feeding half the planet
Food exports from Russia, dominated by wheat and fish, soared to a record $19 billion last year, according to the Russian Export Center.

Shipments of Russian food have reportedly grown by 25 percent since 2012. The country also boosted exports of products such as sweets and sugar.

The country has managed to capture more than half of the wheat market in recent years, becoming the world’s biggest exporter of the grain, thanks to bumper harvests and attractive pricing, Bloomberg reports.

The exports are reportedly set to beat another record this season. Russia is expected to sell 36.6 million metric tons of wheat overseas, according to Moscow-based agriculture consultancy SovEcon and the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR).

Nearly half of the world’s nations purchase wheat from Russia, which has been improving yields year after year in an attempt to curb its dependence on agricultural imports. In 2014, Moscow barred purchases of some foods from Western exporters in retaliation for sanctions.

Higher prices for wheat also helped Russia earn more from its food sales last year, according to Managing Director at SovEcon Andrey Sizov, as quoted by the agency.

Egypt, which imports huge amounts of grain, has become the main international buyer of Russian wheat. Last year, the country overtook China to become the largest buyer of Russian food for the first time since 2012.

According to the export center, Egypt’s purchases of Russian foods, including wheat and sunflower oil, skyrocketed 44 percent to $1.74 billion in 2017, while China’s imports of Russian food production like fish and oilseeds totaled $1.72 billion.

Russia expects to boost grain exports to China after Beijing lifted quarantine requirements on Monday, allowing the import of wheat from six Russian regions.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

 
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America’s Crisis – An Ubiquitous Culture of Spin – By Chris Kanthan (Sott.net)

Media reality

Trump famously said that if he shot a person on 5th Ave, he still wouldn’t lose any supporters. Shocking as it may be, he was quite right. Of course, on the other side, the damning evidence of Clinton corruption in the WikiLeaks emails didn’t really sway any Hillary voters. The reason is that the discourse in America has become extremely divisive and partisan. People live in their own ideological echo chambers where critical thinking doesn’t exist. However, the problem goes beyond politics – this fact-free, stubborn, narcissistic, illogical and spin-loving attitude has become pervasive in every aspect of our society. The most dire challenge that America faces is not financial, geopolitical or environmental. It is the crisis due to the death of logic and objectivity.

Let’s start with some examples in politics.

During the election: According to Trump and his supporters, the unemployment number was fake (since, based on labor participation rate, 38% of adults weren’t working), GDP growth below 4% was horrible, monthly jobs growth under 300,000 was indicative of a recession, and the stock market was a big fat bubble!

After the election: Now, for Trump and his loyal supporters, official unemployment numbers are legit and awesome (even though the labor participation rate hasn’t budged since 2016), GDP growth of 2.3% is a sign of a booming economy, average monthly jobs growth of 175,000 is amazing, and the stock market is a reflection of tremendous accomplishments by Trump (until it crashes).

As for the Democrats, Trump was a Nazi and a racist for wanting a wall – never mind that we already have had a wall in many parts of the US-Mexico border for a long time. Hillary supporters also refused to read the WikiLeaks emails and couldn’t see anything suspicious about the Clinton Foundation, her private email server, or the deletion of 30,000+ emails. However, any accusation related to Russia interference or collusion was eagerly accepted at face value without any corroborating evidence – the Steele dossier being an obvious example. Louise Mensch and other trolls have millions of social media followers who thrive on their daily dose of shocking allegations, innuendos and claims that what they would like to be true, definitely is.

Thus we have a political environment where one half of the country is totally against the other. Democrats in Congress will automatically reject Republican ideas and vice versa. The result of this ideological fanaticism is gridlock, inefficiency and terrible legislation. It’s hard to negotiate with an irrational person; it’s almost impossible for two irrational people to negotiate.

The media is also caught in this ideological trap. On a given topic, one can almost always predict the viewpoint of MSNBC, Fox News, Washington Post or Breitbart. Lone gone are the days when one could expect objectivity and neutrality from the media.

We have become a society of relentless spinning. Everyone works backward – start with the conclusion and twist logic like a pretzel to make it true. Every logical fallacy in the book gets deployed. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • One of the most commonly used tools is “what about-ism”. Bring up Islamic terrorism, and someone will counter with, “what about domestic terrorism by whites?”
  • Cherry-picking or selective use of facts and data. “We added 2 million jobs last year” may ignore the fact that many of them are part-time or temp jobs.
  • Ideological filters are powerful tools to reject truth and facts. “I don’t believe anything from Breitbart” or “I reject anything that might be considered socialist.”
  • Exaggeration and distortion are powerful tools to fool ourselves and others. “Iran wants to annihilate Israel” is over-the-top; and “Putin annexed Crimea” ignores the fact Crimea had a referendum and willingly joined Russia (and there’s much more behind this drama).
  • Slogans and catch phrases stand in for truth. Whether it’s tax cuts or global warming or how to lose weight, people are programmed to instinctively react to buzz words and phrases, while eschewing deeper analysis. The ubiquitous American desire for quick solutions causes more problems in the end.
  • Sensationalism has become a powerful propaganda tool. News media rely on it for advertisement revenue; public figures use it to boost their popularity or to get votes; and people use it to convince themselves of their own views. This is also similar to people screaming or using expletives to make their points.
  • Flip-flopping has become an art. Listen to Bill Clinton, Obama or other leading Democrats a few years ago, and they spoke strongly against illegal immigration. Now it’s a complete reversal. Trump supporters constantly complained that Obama commanded no respect from other nations. But now that Trump’s rating around the world is abysmal, the new argument is, “Who cares what the world thinks?”

The bigger problem is that all these attributes aren’t limited to politics and, in fact, have permeated every aspect of our society. In the legal system, lawyers constantly use these tactics to argue their cases – in fact, such a clever lawyer is admired. Even the judges at the highest levels are driven by ideology – that’s why Obama and Trump have very different choices for the US Supreme Court. Logic and law are distorted to arrive at predetermined conclusions.

In sales and marketing, nobody can succeed without spinning and exaggerating. Obviously, being factual and objective is a death sentence for a career in those areas.

Foreign policy is replete with spins, exaggerations and blatant lies. Want to attack Iraq? Let’s exaggerate Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda and WMD. Bring fake witnesses who cry about babies in incubators murdered by Saddam’s soldiers, forge papers to show the sale of Uranium from Niger to Iraq, plant stories in the New York Times and then use them to bolster your case on Sunday shows. Similarly, if we want to arm Al Qaeda in Syria, we just call them “moderate rebels” – a simple marketing tactic that solves a sticky problem. Have you ever heard US politicians or corporate media talk about waging wars for profits, imperialism or natural resources? No, it’s always about freedom and democracy! When trillions of dollars are at stake, deception becomes an integral part of foreign policy and perpetual wars.

The spin culture has also spread into science and medicine. GMOs are always marketed in terms of higher yield or cheap food, while it’s really about profits and, more importantly, controlling people and nations. Vaccines are blindly accepted by people who fall for the slogan, “Safe and Effective.” The billions of dollars of annual profit in the vaccine industry and the revolving door between Big Pharma and bureaucracies such as the CDC are ignored by the masses.

Big Pharma repackages old medicines with insignificant changes in order to get new patents that will justify higher prices. OxyContin’s 12-hour pain reliever was a marketing scam, but the lies brought in billions of dollars. Scientists fudge the data for clinical trials, and regardless of how many times Big Pharma gets caught for fraud, people’s faith remains undeterred. Even global warming is full of sensationalism, wild conjectures and over-confident claims when there are too many overlooked known and unknown variables. The nerdiest scientist is as vulnerable to groupthink, peer pressure and temptations of fame and fortune as the sleazy politician on CNN.

Our financial system is controlled by a private Federal Reserve Bank, which has created a Ponzi scheme fueled by unsustainable debt and inflation. However, the elites keep spinning about prosperity and growth. Propagandists on CNBC and other financial media are paid to blow up bubbles all day long. When the bubbles burst, they will look you in the eye and will tell you that no one could have seen it coming.

All these problems have arisen because deception has become a way of life and we don’t have the patience (or sometimes the skill) to think critically and objectively. It’s as if the movie Idiocracy or the TV show Jerry Springer has become the new reality. More than 2000 years ago, Socrates taught Greeks how to think rationally and logically, but somewhere along the way, we lost it. This crisis is solvable, but it requires a deliberate shift in our thinking and behavior.

Chris Kanthan (Profile)

Chris Kanthan is the author of a new book, Syria – War of Deception. It’s available in a condensed as well as a longer version. Chris lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled to 35 countries, and writes about world affairs, politics, economy and health. His other book is Deconstructing Monsanto. Follow him on Twitter: @GMOChannel

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Switzerland & United States are the world’s most corrupt nations – report – By RT

Switzerland & United States are the world’s most corrupt nations – report
A new study from advocacy group Tax Justice Network reveals that Switzerland is the world’s most-corrupt country, with a “high secrecy score of 76.” It’s followed by the US and the Cayman Islands.

“Switzerland is the grandfather of the world’s tax havens, one of the world’s largest offshore financial centers, and one of the world’s biggest secrecy jurisdictions or tax havens,” said the group’s report ‘Financial Secrecy Index — 2018 Results’.

It explained that “the Swiss will exchange information with rich countries if they have to, but will continue offering citizens of poorer countries the opportunity to evade their taxpaying responsibilities.

“These factors, along with ongoing aggressive pursuit of financial sector whistleblowers (resorting at times to what appear to be non-legal methods) are ongoing reminders of why Switzerland remains the most important secrecy jurisdiction in the world today,” said the report.

The index ranks countries for the assistance their legal systems provide to money-launderers, and to all people who seek to protect corruptly-obtained wealth. The higher the secrecy score, the more corrupt the government is.

In order to create the index, a secrecy score is combined with a figure representing the size of the offshore financial services industry in each country.

According to the report, the United States’ secrecy score (60) is rising, which results in attracting corrupt wealth. In 2013, the US was in the sixth place, and in 2015 it took the third in the rating.

“The continued rise of the US in the 2018 index comes off the back of a significant change in the US share of the global market for offshore financial services. Between 2015 and 2018 the US increased its market share in offshore financial services by 14 percent,” said the report. In total the US accounts for 22.3 percent of the global market in offshore financial services.

“The US provides a wide array of secrecy and tax-free facilities for non-residents, both at a Federal level and at the level of individual states.”

The report added that “Financial secrecy provided by the US has caused untold harm to the ordinary citizens of foreign countries, whose elites have used the United States as a bolt-hole for looted wealth.”

Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Germany, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and Guernsey closed out the top-10 most corrupt countries.

The least corrupt nations among the 112 covered in the rating were San Marino, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Montserrat.

The countries with the lowest secrecy score were UK (42) and Slovenia (42), Belgium (44), Sweden (45), Lithuania (47), Italy (49) and Brazil (49).

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Declassified documents from 1957 reveal CIA-MI6 plot to terrorize Syria, spark fake revolution, assassinate leadership – By Ben Fenton (THE GUARDIAN) (SOTT)

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Catapulting the propaganda: Britain’s MI6 has been doing this with their fellow psychopaths in the Mossad and the CIA for a long time…

Documents show White House and No 10 conspired over oil-fuelled invasion plan

Nearly 50 years before the war in Iraq, Britain and America sought a secretive “regime change” in another Arab country they accused of spreading terror and threatening the west’s oil supplies, by planning the invasion of Syria and the assassination of leading figures.

Newly discovered documents show how in 1957 Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbours, and then to “eliminate” the most influential triumvirate in Damascus.

The plans, frighteningly frank in their discussion, were discovered in the private papers of Duncan Sandys, Mr Macmillan’s defence secretary, by Matthew Jones, a reader in international history at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Although historians know that intelligence services had sought to topple the Syrian regime in the autumn of 1957, this is the first time any document has been found showing that the assassination of three leading figures was at the heart of the scheme.

Comment: Oh historians know all about that, do they?

Funny how not a WORD about it was brought up by Western journalists over the last SEVEN YEARS of EXACTLY this scenario playing out in Syria.

In the document drawn up by a top secret and high-level working group that met in Washington in September 1957, Mr Macmillan and President Eisenhower were left in no doubt about the need to assassinate the top men in Damascus.

Part of the “preferred plan” reads:

“In order to facilitate the action of liberative forces, reduce the capabilities of the Syrian regime to organise and direct its military actions, to hold losses and destruction to a minimum, and to bring about desired results in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals. Their removal should be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention and in the light of circumstances existing at the time.”

The document, approved by London and Washington, named three men: Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, head of Syrian military intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, chief of the Syrian general staff; and Khalid Bakdash, leader of the Syrian Communist party.

For a prime minister who had largely come to power on the back of Anthony Eden’s disastrous antics in Suez just a year before, Mr Macmillan was remarkably bellicose. He described it in his diary as “a most formidable report”. Secrecy was so great, Mr Macmillan ordered the plan withheld even from British chiefs of staff, because of their tendency “to chatter”.

Concern about the increasingly anti-Western and pro-Soviet sympathies of Syria had been growing in Downing Street and the White House since the overthrow of the conservative military regime of Colonel Adib Shishakli by an alliance of Ba’ath party and Communist party politicians and their allies in the Syrian army, in 1954.

Driving the call for action was the CIA’s Middle East chief Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of former president Theodore Roosevelt. He identified Colonel Sarraj, General al-Bizri and Mr Bakdash as the real power behind a figurehead president. The triumvirate had moved even closer to Nikita Khrushchev’s orbit after the previous year’s disastrous attempt by Britain and France, in collusion with Israel, to reverse the nationalisation of the Suez canal.

Comment: Kermit Roosevelt also organized the coup d’état against Iran’s democratically elected leader Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953.

By 1957, despite America’s opposition to the Suez move, President Eisenhower felt he could no longer ignore the danger of Syria becoming a centre for Moscow to spread communism throughout the Middle East. He and Mr Macmillan feared Syria would destabilise pro-Western neighbours by exporting terrorism and encouraging internal dissent.

Comment: Which is of course PRECISELY what they were doing. See how psychopaths project onto their intended victim precisely what they are in fact doing?

More importantly, Syria also had control of one of the main oil arteries of the Middle East, the pipeline which connected pro-Western Iraq’s oilfields to Turkey.

The “preferred plan” adds:

“Once a political decision is reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS [MI6] will attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals.

“The two services should consult, as appropriate, to avoid any overlapping or interference with each other’s activities… Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus; the operation should not be overdone; and to the extent possible care should be taken to avoid causing key leaders of the Syrian regime to take additional personal protection measures.”

Comment: “The operation should not be overdone…” Note the perspicacity for discipline. Definitely NOT your garden-variety psychopaths. Precisely the same effort went into the ‘protests’ organized in Deraa and elsewhere in southern Syria to kick-start the phony revolution in 2011.

Sabotage

The report said that once the necessary degree of fear had been created, frontier incidents and border clashes would be staged to provide a pretext for Iraqi and Jordanian military intervention. Syria had to be “made to appear as the sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments,” the report says. “CIA and SIS should use their capabilities in both the psychological and action fields to augment tension.” That meant operations in Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, taking the form of “sabotage, national conspiracies and various strong-arm activities” to be blamed on Damascus.

The plan called for funding of a “Free Syria Committee”, and the arming of “political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities” within Syria. The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.

Comment: Syria 2011: check, check, check, and check…

The planners envisaged replacing the Ba’ath/Communist regime with one that was firmly anti-Soviet, but they conceded that this would not be popular and “would probably need to rely first upon repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power”.

The plan was never used, chiefly because Syria’s Arab neighbours could not be persuaded to take action and an attack from Turkey alone was thought to be unacceptable. The following year, the Ba’athists moved against their Communist former allies and took Syria into a federation with Gen Nasser’s Egypt, which lasted until 1963.

Comment: ‘The plan’ may not have been ‘actionized’, to borrow spook-speak, back then, but it is precisely what happened to Syria half a century later. The reason why there is a 50-year lag between the earlier articulation of this plan and its execution is because Western powers always use the same basic plan. They just didn’t get around to ‘doing’ Syria until other circumstances permitted.

Keep in mind that the CIA’s “fear of the spread of communism” was total BS, of course, just as today’s ‘fear of Russia’ or ‘fear of Islamism’ is.

As explained by former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell, the real goal was to keep Third World countries as Third World countries by fighting a prolonged Third World War. They knew the Soviets were no threat. But the rise of ‘socialist’ policies (that is, policies that actually raised people out of poverty, thus strengthening national independence) threatened the US’ global order.

John Stockwell – CIA’s War on Humans

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