Is Russia becoming the Free Trade forum for the Universe? – By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor (VT)

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Macron’s St. Petersburg mission: Keep Russia in the European family

…from Russia Today, Moscow

The IMF’s Christine Lagarde was there

[ Editor’s Note: Some high stakes geopolitical poker has been going on at the Saint Petersburg Forum, where once again Putin is holding the stage as ground zero for free trade and a multi-polar world.

France and Germany are on stage letting the US know they have political and economic options if the US puts the squeeze on via tariffs or backing out of international agreements, where the US seems to be after the gold medal for that category.

The forum moderator was not making a cheap joke with his comment that one of Trump’s unique gifts was “bringing people together”, a left-handed way of really saying that Trump is pushing former US allies into closer relations with others because they see themselves being targeted by Donald and the NeoCons. 

Putin came up with the elephant in the living room by asking how one deals with an international partner who assumes that all past international agreements are up for renegotiation after every US national election.

No one in the US political arena in an official government position has shown any concern about the long term consequences of fickleness. One can hardly call it leadership. It is the kind of thing you would expect from Deep State operatives. Rules are for the “other people” to follow, but not them, and of course not for Israelis. I fear this all will get worse before it gets better… Jim W. Dean ]

 

Nobody “does Putin” like Putin … never hyping, keeping people guessing, and hiding his objective


– First published … May 26, 2018 –

SAINT PETERSBURG – The top table at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) hosted leaders responsible for around 30 percent of global GDP. And quite a line-up it was: Macron and Vladimir Putin, alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and IMF supremo Christine Lagarde.

Indeed, there was so much collective power gathered at Friday event that Bloomberg’s John Micklethwait, who was serving as moderator, quipped how it was the result of Donald Trump’s unique ability to bring people together. However, while humorous, this was an America-centric take that missed the bigger picture.

What was really happening in St. Petersburg was a sort of tug of war, where Russians flirted with East and West as they continue to ponder on which side their bread will be buttered in the future. While Washington and its sidekicks in London don’t seem overly perturbed by Russia’s drift to Asia, France and Germany are alarmed, and representatives from both countries continuously referenced the issue at the SPIEF.

And then Macron made it clear where he stood. “Russia is an inalienable part of Europe… mistakes have been made in the past… we must work to remove our divisions on many issues,” he said.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had earlier warmed up to the same theme: highlighting how an energy partnership with Russia was in Europe’s vital interest. He also mocked US attempts to kibosh the proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, saying he wouldn’t currently look to Washington for “examples of high governance.”

Russian analysts present this week echoed Schroeder’s assertion that the Americans are wielding sanctions for business advantage. And Putin himself warned how protectionist measures could eventually lead to a devastating global crisis.

“The system of multilateral cooperation, which took years to build, is no longer allowed to evolve. It is being broken in a very crude way. Breaking the rules is becoming the new rule,” the Russian president remarked.

Also fascinating was how discourse at the SPIEF differed from the isolationist rhetoric prevalent in London and Washington these days. Putin expressed support for free trade and investment, as well as openness to Chinese companies operating in Russia and their people moving here in tandem.

Indeed, one Italian delegate remarked how the world had been turned on its head: “Thatcher and Reagan used to be the ones pushing these agendas, who would have imagined 30 years ago, Moscow and Beijing standing up for capitalist globalization?”

While Wang and Abe spoke of mutually respectful relations honed over many years, Macron was in a thoroughly different position. But the young French leader was keen to play the humble guest: beginning his speech with tributes to those in St. Petersburg who had died in the Second World War, before making a lengthy reference to Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace.

Nevertheless, politics caught up to Macron when he praised French business for staying in Russia despite “tough times.” Because Russians present were quick to note how Paris was one of the primary drivers behind the Western sanctions that have hurt the Russian economy.

On the ground, the atmosphere was friendly. And the French descended in numbers, with leading companies from Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy to oil major Total investing in lavish stands.

“You look at Russian culture and it’s all European: from Pushkin to Tolstoy and Rachmaninoff to Tchaikovsky. Despite the geography, this is not an Asian country, in any way,” an exhibitor from Lyon noted.

Yet the Russians are keeping their options open. Putin pointed out that, beyond the bluster, French engagement in Russia isn’t as substantial as many might believe.

“Finland’s Fortum invested €6 billion in Russia, while the whole of France invested €15 billion,” he pointedly told Macron, who had earlier said that France desired to become the largest direct investor in Russia.

Putin outlined why this target was ambitious: “trade with Europe was worth $450 billion once, now it has fallen by half. With China, trade is going to reach $100 billion soon.” That said, despite these occasional reality checks, “Vladimir” and “Emmanuel” seemed to be hitting it off.

Russian business delegates wanted their officials to play all sides.

“Russia should be friends with everyone. Why should we choose?” Alina Ustinova from Rostov Oblast noted. “We are mostly European, but a bit Asian too and we must trade with all comers. Even the Americans are welcome, when they finally see sense.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with dancing with the French on Friday night and the Chinese on Saturday; perhaps we could even manage a Wednesday for Trump,” she teased.

Bryan MacDonald for RT

Israel’s high court blesses killing and maiming of Gaza protesters – By Maureen Clare-Murphy Rights and Accountability (Electronic Intifada)

The backs of two standing youth are seen in foreground of photo with Israeli military installation behind barbed wire and fencing in background
Israeli forces aim towards Palestinian protesters east of Gaza City on 25 May.

Atia Darwish APA images

Israel’s high court rejected two petitions from human rights groups challenging the military’s open-fire regulations this week as several more Palestinians died from wounds sustained during Gaza’s ongoing Great March of Return protests.

It was the second ruling made by the court on Thursday rubber-stamping war crimes.

The high court ruling may be viewed by the International Criminal Court as an indication that Israel’s judicial authorities are unwilling to carry out genuine proceedings concerning crimes against Palestinian civilians.

Between 19 and 25 May, Gaza’s health ministry announced the deaths of seven Palestinians from injuries inflicted during protests along the eastern perimeter of the territory beginning 30 March.

The deceased were identified as Hussein Salem Abu Oweida, 41, Ahmad al-Abed Abu Samra, 21, Muhammad Mazen Alayan, 20, Muin Abd al-Hamid al-Saee, 58, Muhannad Abu Tahoun, 21, Ahmad Qatoush, 23 and Yasir Sami Saad al-Din Habib, 24.

Also this week a 15-year-old in the occupied West Bank, Oday Akram Abu Khalil, died from wounds sustained when he was shot in the stomach by Israeli forces during protests on 15 May, the annual commemoration of the 1948 Nakba or catastrophe.

More than 115 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip since 30 March, the vast majority of them during Great March of Return protests – including 14 children, two journalists and a paramedic.

Some 3,600 people were injured by live fire during the protests.

A lightly wounded soldier was the only reported Israeli casualty resulting from the protests in Gaza.

Court sides with state – again

The Israeli high court ruled in favor of the state’s argument that protesters constituted a danger to Israeli soldiers and civilians, thus justifying the use of lethal force.

The judges sided with the government’s contention that the protests take place in the context of a long-running armed conflict between Israel and Hamas. The state argues that the legal framework that regulates the use of fire during the protests is international humanitarian law, or the laws of war.

Human rights groups say that irrespective of the political affiliation of any of the organizers or participants, the demonstrations along Gaza’s eastern perimeter are a civilian matter of law enforcement governed by the framework of international human rights law, which allows for the use of deadly force only to stop an imminent lethal threat.

“Some of the rioters have tried to trample or break through the border fence, creating a clear and present danger that terrorists will penetrate into the state’s territory, and this is happening in areas near towns on the Israeli side,” wrote Hanan Melcer, one of the three judges who reviewed the petitions.

“Among the rioters were some who threw rocks and fire bombs at Israeli troops. Therefore, it seems that gunfire was employed to achieve a legal purpose – defending citizens of the state and Israeli soldiers,” Melcer added.

The court ruling gives the military “a green light to its continued use of snipers and live fire against Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip,” stated Al Mezan and Adalah, two of the groups that had petitioned the court.

The two groups stated that the court had “refused to watch video clips documenting Israeli shootings of demonstrators and, rather than actually examining the case, fully accepted the claims presented to it by the state.”

Al Mezan and Adalah published a video montage of such clips:

“The extreme nature of the ruling is also highlighted by the striking absence of any mention of the casualty figures that had been presented to the court,” the human rights groups added.

The Israeli high court said it could not move forward with an inquiry into the military’s rules of engagement because petitioning organizations rejected a request by the state to present the judges secret intelligence without the petitioners being allowed to review it.

“We have no concrete information about the identity of the key activists and inciters, the nature of their acts, their organizational affiliation, their involvement in terrorist activity or other forbidden hostile activity, or whether and in what manner they constituted a clear and present danger,” Melcer stated.

The justices accepted the state’s description of the Gaza protests as “violent disturbances” which were “organized, coordinated and directed by Hamas, which is a terrorist organization in a state of armed conflict with Israel.”

No imminent threat

Adalah and Al Mezan stated that the court ruling “contradicts the conclusions and preliminary results of international human rights organizations and United Nations bodies documenting and evaluating the events in Gaza.”

During a special session of the UN Human Rights Council concerning the events in Gaza last week, the body’s High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stated:

“Although some of the demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, used slingshots to throw stones, flew burning kites into Israel, and attempted to use wire-cutters against the two fences between Gaza and Israel, these actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force.”

The Human Rights Council voted to establish a commission of inquiry into mass civilian casualties during the demonstrations with a final report due next March.

Tania Hary, executive director of Gisha, an Israeli human rights group which challenged the open-fire regulations, said she was “disappointed but not surprised to see the court again sanction Israel’s grave violations of human rights and international law in Gaza.”

Young man with a metal splint on his legs lies across a bench as two other youths look on
A Palestinian injured during Great March of Return protests rests outside Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital after being discharged, 19 May.

Mohammed Zaanoun ActiveStills

Israel’s high court has long championed policies towards Palestinians that violate international law.

Gisha has previously faulted Israel’s judiciary, and principally the high court, for accepting “the state’s legal positions almost unquestioningly” regarding the 11-year blockade of Gaza.

Palestinian human rights groups have urged the International Criminal Court to investigate the unprecedented closure of Gaza as a crime of persecution.

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister made a referral to the International Criminal Court on Tuesday, calling for an immediate investigation into Israeli crimes.

In 2015, the court launched a preliminary examination into potential war crimes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Preliminary examination by ICC

A preliminary examination is the first step in the court’s process to determine whether to open a formal investigation, which can then lead to indictments and trials.

But while a preliminary examination is carried out whenever a referral is made, it is open-ended and can carry on for years, at the discretion of the chief prosecutor.

In 2006, the prosecutor began a preliminary examination of alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan from 2002.

Eleven years after the examination was opened, and up to 15 years after the commission of the first alleged crimes, the prosecutor concluded that there was enough evidence to proceed with a formal investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Taliban, the Afghan government and the United States.

A preliminary examination into alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Colombia, opened in 2004, is still pending, according to the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

In her response to the Palestinian complaint, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda signaled that she does not intend to expedite the process, stating that the “preliminary examination has seen important progress and will continue to follow its normal course.”

Israel’s foreign ministry lashed out against the Palestinian move, calling it an effort “to politicize the court and to derail it from its mandate.”

Over the past several weeks Bensouda’s office has expressed “grave concern” over the situation in Gaza and warned Israeli leaders that they may face prosecution for the killing of unarmed Palestinian protesters.

Earlier this month the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders formally requested that the International Criminal Court prosecutor investigate the targeting of journalists in Gaza as war crimes.

The Palestinian rights groups Al-Haq, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights stated this week that they “have submitted five comprehensive communications to the prosecutor” as part of the court’s preliminary examination.

“These communications have related to the 2014 offensive against the Gaza Strip, the Israeli-imposed Gaza closure, the use of the Hannibal Directive in Rafah, and crimes committed in the West Bank including Jerusalem,” the groups stated, adding that they “have also provided information on the lack of domestic investigations and prosecutions.”

The prosecutor “has sufficient evidence” to open a full investigation, according to the rights groups.

“The ICC acting as a court of last resort must provide redress to Palestinian victims,” they added.

 

‘Our path’: Iran announces plan to stay in Syria as Pompeo issues unprecedented threats – By Tyler Durden Russia Insider (SOTT)

Map of Syria and Iran

It’s not up to Uncle Sam but up to Syria and Iran alone

After last Thursday’s relatively brief meeting in Sochi between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad wherein Putin stressed that it is necessary for all “foreign forces” to withdraw from Syria, there’s been much speculation over what Putin actually meant.

Many were quick to point out that Assad had agreed that “illegal foreign forces” should exit Syria – meaning those uninvited occupying forces in the north and northeast, namely, US troops, Turkish troops and their proxies, and all foreign jihadists – while most mainstream Western outlets, CNN and the Washington Post among them, hailed Putin’s request to see Iran withdraw from Syria.

Whatever non-Syrian entity Putin intended to include by his words, both Syria and Iran gave their unambiguous response on Monday: Iran announced it would stay in Syria at the request of the Assad government.

“Should the Syrians want us, we will continue to be there,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi declared from Tehran, cited by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency. “Nobody can force Iran to do anything; Iran has its own independent policies,” Qasemi said, in response to a question referencing the widespread reports that Russia desires Iran to withdraw forces from Syria.

“Those who entered Syria without the permission of the Syrian government are the ones that must leave the country,” he said further in a clear reference to the some 2000 US troops currently occupying Syrian-Kurdish areas in the northeast and eastern parts of the country.

As we noted in the aftermath of Israel’s May 10 massive attack on multiple locations inside Syria which marked the biggest military escalations between the two countries in decades, Russia has appeared content to stay on the sidelines while Syria and Israel test confrontational limits; however, Russia is carefully balancing its interests in Syria, eager to avoid an uncontrolled escalation leading to a direct great power confrontation.

But increasingly Israel’s patience appears to be wearing thin after Prime Minister Netanyahu’s oft-repeated “Iranian red line” warning has gone unheeded. In multiple summits with Putin going back to 2015 (the two have met over 6 times since then), Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed he would not tolerate an Iranian presence in Syria and further signaled willingness to go to war in Syria to curtail Iranian influence.

“Iran is already well on its way to controlling Iraq, Yemen and to a large extent is already in practice in control of Lebanon,” Netanyahu told Putin in one especially tense meeting in August 2017, and added further that, “We cannot forget for a single minute that Iran threatens every day to annihilate Israel. Israel opposes Iran’s continued entrenchment in Syria. We will be sure to defend ourselves with all means against this and any threat.”

Israel’s uptick in military strikes on Syria attacks on sites purported to be Iranian bases housing Iranian assets have intensified exponentially over the past half-year, nearly leading to an unprecedented breakout of region wide war during the May 10 exchange of fire, wherein Israel claimed to have been attacked by Iranian rocket fire.

The fact that both Iran and Syria can so openly and confidently announce Iran’s intent to stay in Syria means Damascus sees itself in new position of strength after both shooting down multiple Israeli missiles and simultaneously firing rockets into Israeli occupied Golan territory a response perhaps very unexpected by Israel’s leadership which had grown accustomed to attacking the Syrian army and its allies with impunity.

Meanwhile, Damascus announced Monday that all suburbs around the capital have been fully liberated from al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists, marking the end of a years long insurgency in and around the capital. As Al-Masdar News noted, “The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is in full control of Damascus city and its countryside for the first time since the advent of this conflict.”

Yet the pattern which has emerged over the past few years has been that every time the Syrian Army emerges victorious or carries overwhelming military momentum, Israel or the US launches an attack.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected Pompeo’s bombastic demands and vowed to continue “our path,” insisting that the US could not “decide for the world.”

Rouhani’s words, as quoted by ILNA news agency, were as follows: “Who are you to decide for Iran and the world? The world today does not accept America to decide for the world, as countries are independent … that era is over… We will continue our path with the support of our nation.” This continuing escalation of rhetoric will likely only ensure Iran becomes even more entrenched in Syria, but it will be interesting to see how Russia responds diplomatically.

We’ve already seen Israel’s “diplomacy” in the form of repeat missile attacks, but how much will Russia and Iran sit back and take before enforcing their own red lines against Israel and the West?

Source: Zero Hedge

Comment: See also: ‘Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?’ Rouhani rejects Pompeo’s Iran demands

See Also:

US hysteria over Chinese military ‘expansion’ shows ‘corporate coup d’état is complete’ – Lee Camp – By RT

US hysteria over Chinese military ‘expansion’ shows ‘corporate coup d’état is complete’ – Lee Camp
Watching Congress clutch their pearls over China’s new – and only – overseas military base is the only proof you need that America’s elected officials are bought and paid for by corporations and arms dealers, says RT’s Lee Camp.

In the latest installment of ‘Redacted Tonight,’ host Camp tore into a recent US House Intelligence Committee hearing on “China’s worldwide military expansion,” which bravely exposed the “growing threat” of China’s ability to project power abroad.

The hours-long hand-wringing was an “open hearing,” or as Camp explained: When “our super shady, super bought-off Congress opens their doors to pretend as if they are open and transparent to the nation.”

Camp was particularly unimpressed by Rep. Adam Schiff’s performance. The California Democrat pointed to China’s new (and only) overseas military base – in Djibouti, Africa – as an example of the growing worldwide Chinese menace.

“We fear for our dwindling military and economic empire in a world that is growing beyond it, so we have to build up the scary specter of China, with their one military base around the world. Sure it’s only one base, but it’s around the world!” Camp commented.

Noting that US defense spending is still five times larger than China’s, and that the US military has hundreds of overseas bases, Camp concluded: “The corporate coup d’état is complete – these stooges in this video that I just showed you, they’re just a show. They’re just a little performance. And they’re not even a very fascinating one, either. Put on a f*cking top hat or something, Adam Schiff.”

Watch the full episode:

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A Sleepwalking Society Breaths in ChemTrail Toxins In Plain Sight. Your Life Depends on this Knowledge and Your Actions. – By Steve Robertson – (VT VETERANS TODAY)

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The Great Deception – What On Earth Are They Spraying on US and the World That’s in Plain Sight?

The Deep State, New World Order, Khazarian Mafia or Cabal use the obvious and in plain sight daily barrage of chemtrails or geo-engineering that bombards each of us, our family and friends everyday as a litmus test of how asleep humanity is and how far they can push their agendas of global enslavement and population control.

FORGET NOT THE WORDS OF:

DR. EDWARD L. BERNAYS, the Founding Father of Public Relations:
“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of… If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it…

…The conscious and intellectual manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

FORGET NOT THE WORDS OF:

JOHN F. KENNEDY’S  speech before the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27, 1961 (some two years before his assassination):

“We are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence —-on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of election, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system that has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a
​tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations…

…Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, nor rumor printed, no secret revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war -time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.”

Learn More Here:

Dark Secrets of The Wizards of Oz and Your Hero Within (part 1 of 4) 
Part I: The Spells of a Wicked Agenda

Dark Secrets of The Wizards of Oz and Your Hero Within (part 2 of 4)Part II: Wizards of the Scofield Reference Bible, Israel’s Trojan Horse of Christian Mind Control

Dark Secrets of the Wizards of Oz and Your Hero Within (Part 3 of 4)Part III: Wizards of Mind Control and Their Attempt at Full-Spectrum Dominance

Dark Secret of the Wizards of Oz and Your Hero With (Part 4 of 4)Part IV:  Witches and Warlocks of Controlled Opposition, PSYOP and False Flag Deceptions

StopChemTrailsNow.com

How Democracy Ended – By Eric Zuesse (Strategic Culture Foundation)

How Democracy Ended

What killed democracy was constant lying to the public, by politicians whose only way to win national public office is to represent the interests of the super-rich at the same time as the given politician publicly promises to represent the interests of the public — “and may the better liar win!” — it’s a lying-contest. When democracy degenerates into that, it becomes dictatorship by the richest, the people who can fund the most lying. Such a government is an aristocracy, no democracy at all, because the aristocracy rule, the public don’t. It’s the type of government that the French Revolution was against and overthrew; and it’s the type of government that the American Revolution was against and overthrew; but it has been restored in both countries.

First here will be discussed France:

On 7 May 2017, Emmanuel Macron was elected President of France with 66.1% of the vote, compared to Marine Le Pen’s 33.9%. That was the second round of voting; the first round had been: Macron 24.0%, Le Pen 21.3% Fillon 20.0%, Melenchon 19.6%, and others 15%; so, the only clear dominator in that 11-candidate contest was Macron, who, in the second round, turned out to have been the second choice of most of the voters for the other candidates. Thus, whereas Le Pen rose from 21.3% to 33.9% in the second round (a 59% increase in her percentage of the vote), Macron rose from 24.0% to 66.1% in the second round (a 275% increase in his percentage of the vote). In other words: Macron didn’t just barely win the Presidency, but he clearly dominated both rounds; it was never at all close. But once in office he very quickly disappointed the French public:

On 11 August 2017, Le Figaro bannered (as autotranslated by Google Chrome) “A hundred days later, Macron confronted with the skepticism of the French”, and reported that 36% were “satisfied” and 64% were “dissatisfied” with the new President. 

On 23 March 2018, Politico bannered “Macron’s approval ratings hit record low: poll” and reported that, “Only 40 percent of the French population said they have a favorable opinion of Macron, a drop of 3 percentage points from last month and 12 percentage points from December, while 57 percent said they hold a negative opinion of the president.” 

On 22 April 2018, Europe 1 reported that 44% were “satisfied” with Macron, and 55% were “dissatisfied” with him; and that — even worse — while 23% were “very dissatisfied” with him, only 5% were “very satisfied” with him.

So, clearly — and this had happened very quickly — the French public didn’t think that they were getting policies that Macron had promised to them during his campaign. He was very different from what they had expected — even though he had won the Presidency in a landslide and clearly dominated both rounds. That plunge in support after being elected President required a lot of deceit during his campaign.

Second, is US:

The situation in the US was very different in its means, but similar in its outcome: it was a close election between two candidates, each of whom had far more of the electorate despising him or her than admiring him or her. Neither of the two candidates in the second round was viewed net-favorably by the public. The key round of elimination of the more-attractive candidates, was in the primaries; and, after that, it became merely a choice between uglies in the general election. Any decent (or even nearly decent) person had already been eliminated, by that time. Consequently, the ultimate winner never had the high net-favorable rating from the US public, that Macron did from the French public.

America’s system of ‘democracy’ is very different than France’s: Throughout the primaries-season — America’s first round — the most-preferred of all candidates in the race was Bernie Sanders, who, in the numerous one-on-one polled hypothetical choices versus any of the opposite Party’s contending candidates, crushed each one of them except John Kasich, who, throughout the primaries, was the second-most preferred of all of the candidates (and who performed far better than did Trump did in the hypothetical match-ups against Clinton). In the hypothetical match-ups, Sanders beat Kasich by 3.3%, whereas Kasich beat Clinton by 7.4% — that spread between +3.3% and -7.4% is 10.8%, and gives a pretty reliable indication of what the Democratic National Committee threw away when rigging the primaries and vote-counts for Hillary Clinton to win the Party’s nomination. Sanders beat Trump by 10.4%, whereas Clinton beat Trump by 3.2%. That spread was only 7.2% in favor of Sanders over Clinton; but, in any case, the DNC cared lots more about satisfying its mega-donors than about winning, when they picked Clinton to be the Party’s nominee. (Ms. Clinton’s actual victory over Mr. Trump in the final election between those two nominees turned out to be by only 2.1% — close enough a spread so as to enable Trump to win in the Electoral College (which is all that counts), which counts not individual voters but a formula that represents both the states and the voters. Sanders would have beaten Trump in a landslide — far too big a margin for the Electoral College to have been able to go the opposite way, such as did happen with Clinton. This fact was also shown here and here. That’s what the DNC threw away.) 

Hillary Clinton received by far the biggest support from billionaires, of all of the candidates; Sanders received by far the least; and this is why the Democratic Party, which Clinton and Barack Obama (two thoroughly billionaire-controlled politicians) effectively controlled, handed its nomination to Clinton. On 7 June 2016, the great investigative journalist Greg Palast headlined and documented “How California is being stolen from Sanders right now”, and four days later a retired statistician’s review of other statisticians’ statistical analysis of data from all of the primaries and caucuses, reaffirmed their findings, that the Democratic nomination had been stolen by the Democratic National Committee, and he concluded that “the whole process has been rigged against Bernie at every level and that is devastating even though I don’t agree [politically] with him.” A more detailed study was published on 1 August 2016, titled “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries”. Basically, what had happened is that the most-preferred of all the candidates got deep-sixed by Democratic Party billionaires, who ultimately control the DNC, just as Republican billionaires control the RNC. The US Government is squabbles between billionaires, and that’s all. That’s what’s left of American ‘democracy’, now.

On 12 August 2016, Julian Assange noted: “MSNBC on its most influential morning program, Morning Joe, was defending Bernie Sanders. Then Debbie Wasserman Schultz [head of the DNC] called up the president of MSNBC. Amazingly, this is not reported in the US media. It is reported in the US media that they called up Chuck Todd who’s the host of Meet The Press. Something much more serious is not reported — that Debbie Wasserman Schultz herself personally called up the president of MSNBC to apply pressure in relation to positive coverage about Bernie Sanders on Morning Joe.” That was typical of what went on.

Hillary Clinton’s favorable rating, by Election Day, was 40.3%, her unfavorable was 55.3%. Donald Trump’s favorable was 39.8%, unfavorable was 53.4%. Bernie Sanders, as of the end of the primaries on 29 June 2016, was 50.8% favorable, 39.6% unfavorable, and it has been getting steadily better afterward. But the suckered Democratic Party voters (the ones who were counted, at any rate) voted slightly more for Hillary than for Bernie. Even despite Sanders’s having had support from few if any billionaires, he almost won the Democratic nomination, and that’s remarkable. He might actually have received more votes during the primaries than Hillary did, but we’ll never know.

So: America is a dictatorship by the billionaires. And this means that it operates by fooling the public. France is similar, though it achieves this via a different way. And, in both countries, deceit is essential, in order to achieve its dictatorship. Fooling the public is now what it’s all about, in either case. Democracy can never be won by fooling the public; because fooling the public means removing the public’s ability to control the government. So, calling such a nation a ‘democracy’, is, itself, deceiving the public — it’s part of the dictatorship, or else support of the dictatorship.

In former times, this system was rationalized as ‘the divine right of kings’. Now it’s rationalized as ‘the divine right of capital’. But it’s also become covered-over by yet another lie: ‘democracy’. This is a ‘democratic’ aristocracy; it is an ‘equal opportunity’ aristocracy. In it, each citizen has ‘equal rights’ as every other citizen, no matter how wealthy. It’s just a castle of lies. And its doors are actually open only to the few richest-and-well-connected.

Here, a former CIA official tries to describe how the American dictatorship works — the enforcement-part of the system, and he does (even if only by implication) also touch upon the financial sources of it. Starting at 1:07:35 in that video, he discusses his personal case: why he could no longer tolerate working for the CIA. But his description of how he, as an Agency official, saw the system to function, starts at 3:45 in the video. Key passages start at 12:45, and at 20:15. Maybe any American who would email this article to friends who don’t understand how the system functions, will come under increased US surveillance, but that CIA official’s career and family were destroyed by what the system did to him, which was lots worse than just surveillance. Remarkably, he nonetheless had the courage to persist (and thus did that video). However, when one sees how politically partisan (and so obtuse) the viewer-comments to that video are, one might be even more depressed than by the account this former CIA official presents. But, even if the situation is hopeless, everyone should at least have the opportunity to understand it. Because, if the aristocracy are the only people who understand it, there can’t be any hope for democracy, at all.

Brussels Rises in Revolt Against Washington: a Turning Point in the US-European Relationship – By Alex GORKA (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Brussels Rises in Revolt Against Washington: a Turning Point in the US-European Relationship
Alex GORKA | 19.05.2018 | WORLD /

The May 16-17 EU-Western Balkans summit did address the problems of integration, but it was eclipsed by another issue. The meeting turned out to be a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US. The EU will neither review the Iran nuclear deal (JPCOA) nor join the sanctions against Tehran that have been reintroduced and even intensified by America. Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the JPCOA was the last straw, forcing the collapse of Western unity. The Europeans found themselves up against a wall. There is no point in discussing further integration or any other matter if the EU cannot protect its own members. But now it can.

President Trump has his own reasons to shred the Iran deal, but he needs Europe to strong-arm Tehran into signing a “better” agreement. Were it to do so, the US administration would make it look like a big victory. Washington does not shy away from threatening its allies with punitive measures but the EU is standing tall, deepening the rift. As European Council President Donald Tusk put it, “With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?” According to him, the US president has “rid Europe of all illusions.” Mr. Tusk wants Europe to “stick to our guns” against new US policies. Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the EU Commission, believes that “Europe must take America’s place as global leader” because Washington has turned its back on its allies. Washington “no longer wants to cooperate.” It is turning away from friendly relations “with ferocity.” Mr. Juncker thinks the time is ripe for Europe “to replace the United States, which as an international actor has lost vigor.” It would have been unthinkable not long ago for a top EU official to say such things and challenge the US global leadership. Now the unthinkable has become reality.

The process of shifting away from America does not boil down to just words of indignation and open defiance. Plans are underway to take practical steps. For instance, the EU is to ditch the use of the US currency in its payments for Iranian oil. It can be done. Russia and Iran have already launched an oil-for-goods exchange program in order to leave the greenback behind. The bloc plans to activate a 1996 law (the blocking statute), which bans European businesses from compliance with US sanctions on Iran. The legislation protects “against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country.”

The EU-Iran discussions have already been held. And it is America’s closest ally who is to deal the first powerful blow against US global dominance. This is a demonstration of the “no retreat, no surrender” spirit before the not-yet-unleased war is in full swing.

True, this applies to only a relatively small sector of business activities, and Iran’s $400-billion market can’t be compared to the $18-trillion US market, but the important factor here is the show of political will to stand up to America’s challenge. This rift is taking place amid a looming trade war over aluminum and steel, the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem with no regard for the allies’ opinion, and the controversy over Europe’s NATO spending.

On May 15, the EU defense heads gathered at a meeting of the European Union Military Committee to discuss deeper integration and an independent defense policy, which envisages greater efficiency to reduce expenditures, given the US demands to increase those outlays under the auspices of NATO. The PESCO agreement is the backbone of the EU defense policy and it’s purely European.

Sandra Oudkirk, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, has just threatened to sanction the Europeans if they continue with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to bring gas in from Russia across the Baltic Sea. That country is also seen by the US as an adversary and its approach is by and large the same – to issue orders for Europe to adopt a confrontational policy, doing as it is told without asking too many questions.

Iran and Nord Stream 2 unite Moscow and Brussels in their opposition to this diktat. On May 17, Iran signed a provisional free-trade-zone agreement with a Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) that seeks to increase the current levels of trade valued at $2.7 billion. The deal lowers or abolishes customs duties. It also establishes a three-year process for reaching a permanent trade agreement. If Iran becomes a member of the group, it would expand its economic horizons beyond the Middle Eastern region. So, Europe and Russia are in the same boat, both holding talks with Iran on economic cooperation.

President Donald Trump has just instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prepare a list of new sanctions against the Russian Federation for its alleged violations of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. This is the agreement the US has so egregiously and openly breached. But nobody in Europe has announced that they want US nuclear-tipped intermediate- range weapons on their territory that will be a target for a potential retaliatory strike by Russia. It’s an example of yet another European problem with having the decision-making process located in Washington.

If Europe is resolved to fend off US attempts to dictate its policy on Iran, why should it reconcile itself to the pressure to keep the sanctions against Russia intact? May 17 marked a turning point in the US-European relationship. Europeans joined ranks to resist a policy that encroaches on their right to decide their own fate. It’s Europe, not the US, who is negatively affected by the punitive measures, creating deep divisions within the EU at a time when that group is faced with many problems. The time is ripe for Brussels to stop this sanctions-counter-sanctions mayhem and stake out its own independent policies on Russia, Iran, defense, and other issues, that will protect European, not US, national interests. May 17 is the day the revolt started and there is no going back. Europe has said goodbye to trans-Atlantic unity. It looks like it has had enough.

European Commission nixes US sanctions against Iran on EU soil – By TASS

May 18, 12:56 UTC+3

The European Commission passes the first package of measures to shield EU firms in Iran from US sanctions

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© AP Photo/Yves Logghe

BRUSSELS, May 18. /TASS/. The European Commission on Friday passed the first package of measures on protecting the interests of EU companies investing in Iran from US sanctions, nullifying them on the EU territory, the official statement said.

“Following the green light of EU leaders at the informal meeting in Sofia (the EU-Western Balkans summit on May 16-17) , the European Commission has today taken steps to preserve the interests of European companies investing in Iran and demonstrate the EU’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the Iran nuclear deal,” the document said.

The European Commission has acted on four fronts. The first step was to activate the “blocking statute” that “forbids EU companies from complying with the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, allows companies to recover damages arising from such sanctions from the person causing them, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court judgements based on them,” the document says. The goal is to have the measure in force before August 6, 2018, when the first batch of US sanctions take effect.

The second step will be to “remove obstacles for the European Investment Bank (EIB) to decide under the EU budget guarantee to finance activities outside the European Union, in Iran.”

 

The European Commission will also “continue and strengthen the ongoing sectoral cooperation with, and assistance to, Iran, including in the energy sector and with regard to small and medium-sized companies.” Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete will travel to Tehran this weekend.

The European Commission is also encouraging member-states to “explore the possibility of one-off bank transfers to the Central Bank of Iran.” “This approach could help the Iranian authorities to receive their oil-related revenues, particularly in case of US sanctions which could target EU entities active in oil transactions with Iran,” the document says. According to European sources, this measure may become the EU’s first step towards ditching dollar in trade with Iran.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington quit the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which curbed Tehran’s nuclear activity in exchange for lifting the UN Security Council’s sanctions and unilateral restrictions introduced by the US and the EU. The White House said that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) provides Iran with opportunities for creating a nuclear bomb by evading all current restrictions. Trump vowed to reinstate the previous sanctions and introduce new restrictions should Tehran carry out its nuclear ambitions. The US president called for signing a new deal with Tehran. Meanwhile, Washington put forward demands, which cannot be implemented.

In the wake of Trump’s decision, the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany and France called on other participants in the deal to continue fulfilling it. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran would not abandon the JCPOA and would continue to comply with its obligations.

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http://tass.com/world/1004957

Iranian President to Muslim Nations: Cut Ties With Israel, Stop Trade With US – By SPUTNIK

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (File)

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Muslim nations to abandon their ties with Israel and sever trade with the United States during a televised speech Friday from the 67-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Istanbul.

“I call on countries to totally cut their relations with the Zionist regime [Israel] and also to revise their trade and economic ties with America,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on Iranian state TV, according to Reuters.

The remarks follow the US’ relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Monday. On the same day, Israeli Defense Forces killed at least 60 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,400 others as they participated in the Great Return March and demonstrated against the move. “The holding of this summit and it being welcomed in the current critical conditions of the region reflects the attention of Islamic countries to the Palestinian issue,” Rouhani said Friday, according to his official website. “Most of the US administration’s actions such as their unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and moving their embassy to Al-Quds are not legitimate and acceptable to other countries of the world.”

“Today, we are mourning the last act of the 70-year-old genocide against the innocent in Palestine. The criminal Zionists have challenged the global community before the tearful eyes of the world by trampling human dignity and belittling all values,” Rouhani said in a speech at the summit. “While hundreds of thousands of innocent people are deprived of the most basic human rights, the Zionist regime is falsely introducing its own apartheid and ethnocentric system as democracy, calling its religious extremism secularism; what is more unfortunate is that some Western countries are justifying the invasions of the occupiers.” 

The Iranian president struck a hopeful tone, saying that he hoped the meeting of Islamic nations would “lead to the adoption of practical solutions to end this dangerous crisis and to immediately assist the oppressed Palestinian people, especially the oppressed residents of Gaza.”

Washington and NATO Are Escalating to Conflict – By Brian CLOUGHLE (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Washington and NATO Are Escalating to Conflict

The Trump Administration in Washington is ramping up confrontation and preparing for war all over the globe, from the South China Sea to the Baltic via the Persian Gulf. The countries of the US-NATO military alliance have vastly increased their military spending and are boosting deployment of their forces in Europe in accordance with the policy of Enhanced Forward Presence — the positioning of strike aircraft, missile-armed ships and armoured formations as close as possible to Russia’s border.

In March 2018 NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, former US Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, spoke to the media at Warsaw’s military airport and was effusive about the forward movement of US-NATO troops. She “wanted to say what an honour it was to visit the battlegroup that is deployed here in Poland today… I have had the opportunity… over the past few months to visit all four of the battlegroups, and I can see that that promise made among all Allies in Warsaw in 2016 has resulted in certified, effective battlegroups that are training every single day of the week, to provide for the deterrence and defence of this Alliance. So I was very proud to be here.”

It is hugely expensive to move and maintain military forces in foreign countries and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) records that in 2016 “NATO’s collective military expenditure rose to $881 billion” while “European NATO members spent $254 billion in 2016 — over 3 times more than Russia.”

Russia’s $69.2 billion defence outlay in 2016 was one twelfth of US-NATO’s spending on armaments and preparations for war.

In January 2018 the US Department of Defence published its National Defence Strategy which conveyed the message that “the central challenge to US prosperity and security is re-emergence of long-term strategic competition” from Russia and China who are “revisionist powers” and a “growing threat” requiring a vast surge in US military expenditure. The Pentagon’s Mission involves “restoring America’s competitive military advantage to deter Russia and China from challenging the United States, its allies or seeking to overturn the international order that has served so well since the end of World War II.”

That is the US-enforced “international order” that involved its disastrous war in Vietnam, the invasion of Iraq that propelled the Middle East to its current state of chaos, and a continuing, sixteen-year catastrophe in Afghanistan, all of which military forays by the global gendarme caused massive destruction and the deaths of uncountable numbers of innocent citizens.

And now the US has some 1.3 million people in the army, navy, air force and Marine Corps, with about 200,000 stationed in over 800 overseas military bases, in order to continue enforcement of “international order.”

The Nuclear Posture Review that was published on February 2, 2018, just after the defence strategy paper (January 19) also makes it clear who the Pentagon considers to be its enemies, mentioning China 47 times, Iran 39 times and Russia 127 times, which makes nonsense of the claim by the State Department that “we do not want to consider Russia an adversary . . . This not a Russia-centric NPR.”

Trump’s “America First” policy has alienated longtime US allies and increased distrust by the many countries being confronted militarily. The irony about this drum-thumping slogan is the US claim that “It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model, gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions,” because this is precisely what “America First” is about : military domination and total ascendancy over the economies of the entire world.

A further irony became apparent just two months after notification of the Nuclear Posture and the equally confrontational National Defence Strategy, when SIPRI published its statistics concerning international military expenditure. There was extensive cover of most of its findings in the Western media, but strangely enough little mention was made of the fact that “at $66.3 billion, Russia’s military spending in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than in 2016.”

SIPRI reported that in the year in which Russia reduced its defence expenditure by twenty per cent, “military spending in both Central and Western Europe increased by 12 and 1.7 per cent, respectively . . . total military spending by all 29 NATO members was $900 billion in 2017, accounting for 52 per cent of world spending.”

SIPRI further noted that “The United States continues to have the highest military expenditure in the world. In 2017 the USA spent more on its military than the next seven highest-spending countries combined.”

The Western media’s reporting of President Putin’s speech to Russia’s Federal Assembly on March 1 was intriguing. It concentrated almost entirely on Russia’s weapons’ developments, with the New York Times, for example, reporting that the President “used the speech to reassure Russians that the military buildup was taking place.” The 1500 words of that report were almost entirely devoted to his description of Russian weapons designed to deter US-NATO adventurism, and a mere 65 covered the social improvement programmes he described.

In outlining his priorities the President declared that “the main, key development factor is the well-being of the people and the prosperity of Russian families. Let me remind you that in 2000, 42 million people lived below the poverty line, which amounted to nearly 30 percent – 29 percent of the population. In 2012, this indicator fell to 10 percent. Poverty has increased slightly against the backdrop of the economic crisis. Today, 20 million Russian nationals live in poverty. Of course, this is much fewer than the 42 million people in 2000, but it is still way too many.”

Of course Russia wants to improve the lives of its citizens, and intends to do this, no matter the military buildup round its borders. But it isn’t going to stand back and do nothing while the US-NATO military bloc expands and accelerates towards conflict. Certainly there has been a massive reduction in Russia’s defence budget, while the US and the rest of NATO are vastly increasing military expenditure, but it remains necessary for Russia to maintain its defence capabilities to counter the provocations of the US-NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence menacing its borders.

As noted by the US independent platform Veterans Today, President Putin stated that “American submarines are on permanent alert off the Norwegian coast; they are equipped with missiles that can reach Moscow in 17 minutes. But we dismantled all of our bases in Cuba a long time ago, even the non-strategic ones. And you would call us aggressive?”

Yes, they do, in spite of all the aggression being displayed by US-NATO military deployments and manoeuvres in eastern Europe.

For example, Exercise Siil 2018 was held in Estonia from 2-13 May 2018, involving over 15,000 troops from 10 NATO countries — the UK, US, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland — and the five supposedly neutral countries of Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Sweden and Ukraine.

There could not be a plainer signal that the Pentagon and its sub-branch in Brussels are escalating to conflict.

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