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Military Industrial Complex - The Hunger Games Economy

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The Hunger Games Economy
Jeff Faux: Dreams of Wall St. and Military Industrial Complex are not compatible with dreams of American middle class
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Jeff Faux is the Founder and now Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC. He is an activist, economist and writer, He has written extensively on issues from globalization to neighborhood development. His latest book is “The Servant Economy; Where America¹s Elite is Sending the Middle Class.”
Transcript
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.
There's been some debate amongst the American governing elite about America's place in the world and its declining power. Barack Obama went to Australia not long ago and declared that America will continue to be an Asia-Pacific power. And the issue of the Brzezinskian grand chessboard is still very much on their mind. But what does this maintaining America's position in the world mean for ordinary Americans? Who's going to pay for all this? When it comes to competitiveness, it really means wages, although that word doesn't get talked about very much, not in the mainstream press or in the halls of Congress.
Well, it does get talked about in a piece written by Jeff Faux, and he's now joining us. Jeff is a founder and distinguished fellow of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. He's an activist, economist, and writer. He's written extensively on issues from globalization to neighborhood development, and his latest book is The Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class. Thanks very much for joining us, Jeff.
JEFF FAUX, AUTHOR: Oh, it's great to be here, Paul. Thank you.
JAY: So, I mean, clearly we are dealing with a different world. And it's not just that it's militarily different, in the sense that China's now somewhat of a power, so is Russia and—back somewhat of a power—I mean, nothing on the scale of the United States, but the geopolitics and chessboard has changed somewhat. But where it's changed a lot more is with this massive industrial capacity in areas of the world where 20, 30 years ago there was nothing like it—advanced technology, high-quality production, very low wages. And America wants to maintain its competitiveness in all of this. So talk a bit about that and what that might mean for ordinary Americans, and maybe what the word competitiveness means.
FAUX: Well, I think—start from what I think is the basic assumption, and that is the United States can no longer satisfy the three great dreams that have driven American politics over the last decades. The first dream is the dream of Wall Street and business for unregulated access to speculative profits. The second dream is the dream of the military and foreign-policy elite and the military-industrial complex for global hegemony. The third dream is the dream of ordinary Americans for a rising living standard.
Now, we can have one out of three, certainly. Two out of three, maybe. Three out of three? No way. So in effect the decision is being made right now—or has been made—by this country's elite.
There's a lot of talk in Washington, as you know, about the grand bargain between Republicans and Democrats over budgets and taxes. But the real deal has already been cut. The average American income in real wages is going to decline over the next 10 years, 15 years, as far into the future as we can see. Now, this has been coming for a long time. It's not just about the recession and it's not temporary. As you probably know, for the last 30 years we've had stagnant wages in America. After wages rise steadily since World War II, they flattened out after 1979 and essentially have been flat.
So the question is: if wages were flat, how come everything looked so good? That is, people went to shopping centers and bought cars and houses during those 30 years that ended in 2008. And the reason is two. One, family incomes kept up because we sent more members of the family to work, usually the wife. Now there are more women than men in the labor force so that that strategy for most people is exhausted. The second is debt. People weren't getting raises, but they were getting access to cheaper and accessible credit. That has evaporated with the collapse of the financial sector.
JAY: Jeff, before you continue, let me ask: so if this process more or less began in the '70s, why? What happened? Why? If you could—you know, to some extent one could say that third dream of ordinary Americans, you know, to own a house, send the kids to college, not to be terrified of losing their job, to some extent that's—dream was still possible, at least in the early '60s.
FAUX: Oh, yeah. And the reason—.
JAY: So what happens?
FAUX: Yeah. There are three things that happened since the end of the '70s. The data starts from 1979; the kink in the curve starts from 1979. One was globalization, and by that I mean, essentially, exposing American workers to a very brutal and competitive global labor market before they were prepared.
Second, the weakening of the bargaining position of the average American worker. A lot of that had to do with the decline of unions. But it affected union members and nonunion members. The second thing that happened was the weakening of the bargaining position of the average American worker. This was not just about weaker unions, but weaker unions played a key role, not just for union members, but for people who aren't union members. Because unions were strong—or certainly stronger than they are now—the threat of unionization kept the bosses and kept the employers from cutting wages too much, cutting pensions too much, even though they would have liked to. So weaker unions, weaker bargaining positions [crosstalk]
JAY: And is weaker unions and bargaining positions linked to number one, which is globalization and the threat of moving offshore?
FAUX: That's right, certainly linked to number one. And number three, later, was the shredding of the safety net, the real value of the minimum wage, and the kinds of New Deal protections for labor that have been frayed away over the last 10 or 15 years.
But on the first, on globalization, there's something very important here to remember, and that is it not only affected working people, but it changed the culture of the American elite. You know, if you go back to the early part of the 20th century, labor and capital were in fierce struggles. But both labor and capital knew that they needed each other and were stuck in the same country. So, you know, when Henry Ford raised the wages of his Ford employees to $5 a day, the Wall Street guys said, Henry, what are you doing here? I mean, you can't pay—you're spoiling these people, you're paying them too much. And Henry Ford, who was a SOB union buster, said, look, I've got to pay them enough to come in to make the cars, but I also need to pay them enough to buy the cars. So it was an economy in which, while there were labor and capital disputes, we were all in it together.
What happened—what's happened since the 1980s is that globalization, the deregulation of trade and investment, has allowed the American commercial and economic elite to roam the world in search of lower wages, in search of government subsidies by Third World countries, etc.
JAY: Yeah, so you now have a situation where they saved GM and Chrysler, but workers'—starting worker wages go from, what, $26 to $14 an hour, and you probably couldn't buy a new car at $14 an hour.
FAUX: Exactly. And unlike Henry Ford, the people who run the Ford Motor Company today, you know, have other people they can use to sell their cars to. And so high wages, which we sort of learned after the 1930s were good for the economy because it created consumer demand and consumers bought the goods that were being produced, high wages in America are no longer what they were. They're now a threat to multinational corporations who still produce and sell things. And that's been a critical change.
JAY: They also seem to no longer think they need an educated workforce. I used to—in the '50s and '60s, all this talk about, you know, America will compete because it's going to be the most educated working class and this and that, they don't seem to care anymore. The public school system can go to hell and they don't seem to care.
FAUX: They don't care. But that's sort of the last excuse of the political governing class. I mean, whether it's, you know, Barack Obama, George Bush, Bill Clinton, they're all the so-called education presidents, and their answer to this decline in living standards and wages is not to worry, just go get an education. Barack Obama was in Florida about a year ago touring the country, saying the way we're going to compete in the world is to out-educate everyone.
Well, first what's obvious: that we're shrinking the schools, we're laying off teachers, kids can't go to college because it costs too much. But second, which is really important, we are not creating jobs for educated young people. You go into Apple, in the Apple Store, there is the future. And it's not the technology. It's in all those smart college-educated kids working as retail clerks for $10, $12 an hour. The Bureau of Labour Statistics—government agency—projects that between 2010-2020, the largest, fastest-growing occupations in this country, of the ten largest and fastest-growing, only one requires a college education.
JAY: Well, Jeff, we're going to pick this up in part two, and what I'll be asking in part two is it seems to me while this may make sense for Apple and it may make sense for a lot of individual companies to drive wages down and have more and more service jobs, as an economy somebody's got to be making money to buy all this stuff, and that seems to be where the rub is. So join us for part two of our series of interviews with Jeff Faux on The Real News Network.

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Iran

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داعش و دام اسلامی کردن خاورمیانه Image

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داعش و دام اسلامی کردن خاورمیانه

 داعش و دام اسلامی کردن خاورمیانه
ژرفشی پیرامون ژاژخایی بارک الحسین آل اوباما در مبارزه علیه ددمنشان داعش.
نویسنده وگوینده: نیک پاکپور
به باور گوینده، آنچه را که ما امروز در میین استریم مه دییا ” Mainstream media” غربی، به عنوان جنجال جنگی غرب علیه جهادیزم جانی، وحشی ـ وهابی، اسلامی ـ ارتجاعی، در منطقه خاورمیانه شاهد هستیم، در اصل و اساسش چیزی به جز یک رجز خوانی ره توریک گونه یا تبلیغات تعفن بار و تهوع آور، آغشته و آمیخته به انواع ترفندها، تزویرها، تحریک ها و توطئه های تموچین گونه برای تسخیر، تقسیم و تصرف و سپس تهی کردن و تخلیه کردن خاورمیانه از منابع، معادن و مینرال سرشار نفتی و گازی اش نمی باشد که از سالها پیش توست استراتژیست های ”Anglo-American” آلبته با سروری و سردمداری سبعانه و ساویج گونه زایونیزم جهاتی بطور مکارانه و مزورانه و میرغضبانه، مهندسی و معماری شده است

گوینده: نیک پاکپور - بنیاد بریکس و بیم غرب Image

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گوینده: نیک پاکپور - بنیاد بریکس و بیم غرب

بنیاد بریکس و بیم غرب
گوینده: نیک پاکپور
Reference:BRICS
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William Engdahl | July 25, 2014
2-BRICS establish $100bn bank and currency pool to cut out Western dominance
By RT: Published time: July 15, 2014 18:14
3-BRICS against Washington consensus
BY By Pepe Escobar “Asia Times: Jul 15, '14”
4-Dollar dying; multi-polar world in offing
By F.William engdahl
4-US Dollar Suffers Serious Setback
By By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
5-Throwing BRICS at Israel
By Johnny Punish

نیک پاکپور - دیو داعش و نقش غرب Image

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نیک پاکپور - دیو داعش و نقش غرب

دیو داعش و نقش غرب

گوینده: نیک پاکپور

گوینده آنچه را که مربوط به ریشه سعودی،سلفی،سیاه ایی، زهش یا زایش، پیدایش یا پالایش تاول یا تکاثر،ترسناک،تروریسم تکفیری میشود را در یک ویدئویی،بتاریخ 24 فوریه 2014 میلادی،با نوضیح و نفسیر، و بر پایه پویش پروسه تیک پژوهشی،تکوینی،تاریخی،در جهت آژیرنده و آگاه کننده، مورد ارزیابی و آنالیز منطقی قرار داده ام

ولی بعد و بنیاد پحث امروز گوینده بطور اختصار و در حد اختیار،اختصاص دارد به حوادث دهشتناک و دردناکی که بطور فزاینده و فژاگن در کشور همسایگی،ما ایرانیان یعنی کشور عراق جریان دارد.

 

 

Europe

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Turkish riot police teargas protesting health workers Image

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Turkish riot police teargas protesting health workers

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters in Ankara on Thursday when authorities attempted to disperse members of the Health and Social Service Workers Union (SES) sitting outside the city's Parliament building.Gathering outside the entrance of the building, the demonstration was staged as the Parliamentary Planning and Budget Commission held a session on the Health Ministry's budget. COURTESY: RT's RUPTLY video agency, NO RE-UPLOAD, NO REUSE - FOR LICENSING, PLEASE, CONTACT http://ruptly.tvRT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

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'Books not Bombs': Students march against tuition fees & cuts in London

Britain's seen its biggest student protest in years - with thousands rallying against tuition fees in London. Some students turned on police, while others broke through the security barrier into Parliament Square. The mass protests are already being described as the largest student rally since 2010. Police say they've made six arrests, so far and that some officers have suffered minor injuries.RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

Islamic State in Europe? Image

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Islamic State in Europe?

Europe has again been forced to confront the fact that some of its citizens are committing atrocities for Islamic State abroad. That's after a number were identified in the jihadists' latest execution video. RT's Peter Oliver reports on the West's battle against the Middle Eastern menace.RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTListen to us on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rttvRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

Middle east

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Anonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq Caliphate Image

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Anonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq Caliphate

Anonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq Caliphate- Connect with Anonymous -Subscribe ● http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=anonymousworldvoceGoogle+ ● https://www.google.com/+AnonymousWorldvoceFacebook ● http://Facebook.com/AnonymousOfclAnonymous T-Shirts ● http://anonymousofficial.spreadshirt.comTwitter ● http://Twitter.com/anonymousOfclWebsite ● http://anonofficial.comAs ISIS continue to make territorial gains in the Middle East, they are also becoming a dynamic presence online. This report looks at one recent campaign video, designed to disseminate their radical manifesto."These are your passports, O Tyrants all over the world", one anonymous jihadist declares to a baying crowd as he spears a pile of the documents with a machete. Within the organisation's mission to establish a unitary caliphate across the region, such credentials are obsolete: mere vestiges of a by-gone age of national boundaries and rival political identities. "I swear by Allah, we will cleanse the Arabian peninsula of you, you defiled ones." Films such as this, depicting the brutal imposition of a supposedly utopian Islamic supra-state - often by means of summary executions and banning opposing sects from public life - are a sign of the increasing sophistication of ISIS' propaganda strategy. They depict well-armed, organised militants, and are cause for concern for Iraqi ex-pats struggling to reach relatives back home. "ISIS have forgotten the real religion, and now they are full of hate and revenge", says Salahaddin al-Beati, who has lived in Switzerland since 1996. With voices from all sides of the conflict, this report offers a chilling insight into a markedly 21st century insurgency.SRF - Ref 6166We are Anonymous.We are legion.We do not forgive.We do not forget.Expect us.Video originally by Journeyman Pictureshttp://www.youtube.com/journeymanpictures----ISISISISISISAnonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq CaliphateAnonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq CaliphateAnonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq Caliphate"Anonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq Caliphate""Anonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq Caliphate""Anonymous - Inside ISIS and the Iraq Caliphate"

ISIS refugee smuggling to Turkey makes money for locals Image

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ISIS refugee smuggling to Turkey makes money for locals

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English translation of clip showing ISIS fighters discussing

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English translation of clip showing ISIS fighters discussing ''buying and selling Yezidi slaves''

Today is the slave market dayToday is the day where this verse applies: “Except with their wives and the (captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (then) they are not to be blamed”Today is distribution day God willingEach one takes his shareI swear man I am searching for a girl I hope I find oneToday is the day of (female) slaves and we should have our shareWhere is my Yezidi girl?Where is my Yezidi girl?Whoever wants to sell his slave, whoever wants to give his slave as a present... Everyone is free to do what he wants with his share.Where is my Yezidi girl?Whoever wants to sell, I can buy my brothers.Whoever wants to sell his slave, I buy.Whoever wants to sell his own slave, I buy her.And if you want to give her as a gift, also I take her.Who wants to sell?I want to sell.Why?I pay 3 banknotes (1 banknote is most probably 100 dollars)I buy her for a pistol.The price differs if she has blue eyes.I buy her for a glock (pistol brand)I pay 5 banknotes. (1 banknote is most probably 100 dollars)If she is 15 years oldI have to check hercheck her teeth.If she has green eyesIf she doesn’t have teeth, why would I want her?Put dentures for her.I don’t want.On the YezidisCan one take 2 slave girls? Does that work?(Voice behind camera asks) You have a share. What about it?I got a share of Yezidis but I don’t want one.Why? Wait why don’t you want yours?I will give my share away.AL Farouk and I, we do not want any.(Voice asks the boy) Do you want a Yezidi slave?He nods yesCan you handle her?Boy gigglesAbu Khalid, do you want a slave?I don’t want to take one.Why?Abu Fahd: “Your Yezidi is dead”She’s deadSomeone giggles

United state

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24 views

'Russia is not threat to US, but to its domination' - Richard Becker

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Seattle Begins Police Reforms in Wake of Federal Civil Rights Investigation Image

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Seattle Begins Police Reforms in Wake of Federal Civil Rights Investigation

Reporter Ansel Herz discusses the Seattle Mayor adopting reforms after a federal investigation found the Seattle police force carried out discriminatory practices

Published on Nov 18, 2014

ISIS claims beheading of US aid worker Kassig in new video Image

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ISIS claims beheading of US aid worker Kassig in new video

Islamic State militants have purportedly beheaded US aid worker Peter Kassig even though he converted to Islam, a video posted on social media shows. READ MORE http://on.rt.com/i1fvuoRT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

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  • Biden in Kiev on US Regime-Change Victory Tour
    Biden in Kiev on US Regime-Change Victory Tour By Finian CUNNINGHAM | 22.11.2014 | 00:00 "Strategic Culture Foundation" US vice president Joe Biden flew into Kiev this week to celebrate the anniversary of the Maidan protests that led to the overthrow of Ukraine’s government.With arms waving and his wife in tow, as he stepped off Air Force One, the spectacle was tantamount to an unctuous victory lap for American regime change in the former Soviet republic.The fact that Biden’s son, Hunter, was also appointed as a board member of Ukrainian gas company Burisma since the regime took over adds a certain personal dimension to the American celebrations of this coup. The next US planes to follow Biden’s will be loaded with weapons and other non-lethal munitions, as earlier this week Washington announced for the first time that it is to start supplying the Kiev regime with military hardware. Those weapons are to include anti-tank and air defence systems, sniper rifles and machine-guns.Up to now, the US has been maintaining the fiction that it is only sending «non-lethal aid» – although unofficially it is understood that military materiel and private American «security» contractors have already been flowing to prop up the ultra rightwing regime that the American CIA helped seize power earlier this year.Russia this week condemned the dangerous escalation of US military involvement in Ukraine. Moscow’s foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the arms announcement «broke all agreements» and that it would further destabilise the country and make a political resolution of the conflict less likely.Biden’s celebratory arrival in Kiev could hardly be more provocative.The Kiev regime, headed up by president Petro Poroshenko and his prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, is preparing to scale up its military offensive in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Last week it announced that it was cutting off vital public services, including hospitals and energy, to the breakaway self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. That move can be seen as a form of collective punishment paving the way for military attack. The largely ethnic Russian people of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions have refused to recognise the Western-backed junta in Kiev that came to power in an illegal coup last February. For the past seven months, the Kiev regime has been conducting a blitzkrieg in the dissident east, which has resulted in more than 4,300 deaths – mostly civilians – and up to one million people displaced from their homes.That lethal military onslaught has been fully backed by the US and its European allies, even though it has been carried out by neo-Nazi paramilitaries and battalions working alongside regular armed forces. A ceasefire called on September 5 has been largely ignored by Kiev’s military units, which have continued laying siege to cities and towns with indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas. Up to 1,000 people have been killed over the past two months since the ceasefire brokered in Minsk was officially declared, according to the latest figures from the United Nations.Biden was instrumental in pushing the regime-change operation in Ukraine. He led international calls for the elected government of Victor Yanukovych to stand down, and it was Biden and State Department officials who whipped up the Maidan anti-government protests that began last November. The protests were ostensibly sparked by Yanukovych rejecting a proposed European Union association agreement in favour of maintaining historic trade ties with Russia. No doubt many of the protesters who flocked to Kiev’s Maidan Square had genuine aspirations for their country to embark on a process of EU integration and they felt disgruntled by Yanukovych’s spurning of the association agreement. But, more importantly, there is ample evidence that Washington had laid the groundwork to hijack the protests with a «colour revolution» involving rightwing extremists. Paramilitaries belonging to the neo-Nazi Right Sector and Svoboda (Freedom) organisations, who had been trained in Poland months before the Maidan rallies touched off, followed the script for regime change. Their use of street violence and forcible occupations of government buildings culminated in the February 20 sniper shootings in which more than 80 people, including police and protesters, were killed. With the help of Western media, the massacre was blamed on the Ukrainian government. But forensic and medical evidence shows that the snipers were operated by the CIA-backed paramilitaries.In the final hours of Yanukovych’s presidency – before he was routed by the Right Sector and Svoboda shock-troops – Biden phoned the doomed Ukrainian leader and told him that belated reform efforts «were a day late and a dollar too short», as reported in the New York Times. Yanukovych fled his office on February 22 and the regime took over. The cynical indifference of German, French and Polish governments in the face of this coup also make them complicit in the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s constitution and the withering violence that has ensued in that country.To be sure, Moscow is rightly alarmed by the brazen regime change in a neighbouring country, which has centuries of close cultural, political and economic ties. Ukraine was a member of the Soviet Union until the latter’s dissolution in the early 1990s.The ongoing violence of the Kiev regime, which adulates the Second World War Nazi collaborators from the western Ukrainian regions, is motivated by a visceral hatred of Russian-speaking people in the east and of Russia. It openly uses Nazi terminology of «sub-humans» and «cleansing» when referring to the Slavic east.Washington’s script for regime change did not stop with the usurpation of the Ukrainian government. The conflict that the US-backed regime has fuelled in the eastern regions is aimed at destabilising Russia itself. This is part of a long-term geopolitical game that US planners have been working on since the early 1990s, as set out by such strategists as Zbigniew Brzezinski and like-minded imperialists in the US State Department. For them the Cold War did not end; it was merely a change in tactics to subdue Russia and gain access to that country’s awesome natural resources, in particular Russian oil and gas.The plan to turn Ukraine into a political, economic and military penetration point into Russia’s heartland is a very real existential threat to Moscow. It follows two decades of encroachment on Russia’s borders by the US-led NATO military alliance in contravention of previous American legally binding agreements not to do so.The propaganda war has involved turning reality on its head by accusing Russia of stoking violence in Ukraine, when it should be glaringly obvious that the past year of deadly unrest has resulted from Washington and Europe’s intervention in that country.Earlier this week, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Moscow to hold discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on how to end the violence in Ukraine. Steinmeier appeared to be nonplussed by Russia’s position that the conflict stems from the illegal overthrow of the Ukrainian government by a hostile regime. The German diplomat reiterated the Western trope that Russian subversion is to blame. What bubble has Steinmeier been living in for the past year?Even US government-owned broadcaster Voice of America inadvertently acknowledged this week that Russia is not supplying weapons or troops into eastern Ukraine to help the anti-Kiev militia there. In a report based on interviews with militia members, the VOA noted that «most arms used by the separatist fighters were looted from Ukrainian weapons stores». If Russia were sponsoring the rebels, then where are Russian-supplied weapons?Similar inadvertent admissions of Russia’s non-involvement have been reported previously by the New York Times and CIA-linked Radio Free Europe.Yet, in spite of a dearth of evidence, Western governments, NATO and the Western mainstream media continue to assert that Moscow is the guilty party for the conflict in Ukraine.Joe Biden’s victory lap of honour this week in Kiev, bearing news of a US weapons bonanza, is proof – if ever proof was needed – of Washington’s regime change in Ukraine and its hostile anti-Russian agenda.Washington and to a lesser extent its European allies are to blame for the conflict in that country and now its anticipated escalation.
  • John Kerry stays in Vienna in bid to hammer out Iran nuclear deal
    John Kerry stays in Vienna in bid to hammer out Iran nuclear deal Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif also cancels flightsFour days of negotiations had failed to bring breakthrough By Julian Borger in Vienna "theguardian.com, Friday 21 November 2014 21.35 GMT" The US secretary of state, John Kerry, and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, cancelled flights on Friday and held unscheduled late-night talks in an attempt to break the deadlock on Iran’s nuclear program.Zarif had planned to fly back to Iran from Vienna to consult leaders in Tehran on the next steps, after four days of intensive negotiations in the Austrian capital failed to bring a breakthrough. Kerry had intended to fly to Paris, to consult the French government and wait for Zarif’s return.However, both men changed their minds, opting for a face-to-face session.The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, also delayed his flight, and held a late-night meeting with Kerry. France has been the most sceptical of a deal among the western nations represented at the Vienna talks.“We have not yet determined when we will depart, but will stay in Vienna overnight,” the State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said.A western diplomat had described the day’s talks as “sombre and serious” with several obstacles still to be overcome.The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, who took part in the multilateral talks on Friday afternoon, said there was still a “very significant gap” to close.“We have had a series of useful discussions. These are very complex issues and there is still a very significant gap between the parties,” Hammond said. “We’re all going to go away and have further technical discussions with our experts and we will resume again over the course of the weekend.”Earlier, Hammond had told reporters: “It’s clear that both sides want to get a deal done. But none of us want to do a bad deal and we’re very clear we have to get more flexibility from the Iranians. In return, we’re prepared to show some flexibility on our side. But time is short.”Hammond added: “There is clearly an interest on the Iranian side to get a deal done. The prize for Iran is huge. Access to very large amounts of frozen assets, the ability to trade freely with the world again, and the ability to reset relationships with the international community, so there is a huge prize on the table for Iran.”Fabius urged Iran to “seize this opportunity” for an agreement. A comprehensive deal, which would have to involve Iranian acceptance of significant curbs on its program in return for sanctions relief, would bring to an end a 12-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear aspirations.Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Kerry agreed that extra efforts were needed to reach a deal by the self-imposed deadline of Monday, Russia’s foreign ministry said.The main gaps between the two sides concern Iran’s future capacity to enrich uranium, and the speed and sequence in which international sanctions on Iran are lifted.  
  • Obama secretly extends US combat operation in Afghanistan
    Obama secretly extends US combat operation in Afghanistan By RT President Barack Obama has secretly signed an order that expands the United States’ direct combat role in Afghanistan throughout 2015, the New York Times reported.Signed over the last few weeks, the secret order permits American forces to continue to battle the Taliban and other militants that pose a threat to either the Afghan government or US personnel. According to the Times, US jets, bombers, and drones will be able to aid ground troops – be they Afghan or US forces – in whatever mission they undertake.Under the order, ground troops could join Afghan troops on missions, and airstrikes could be carried out in their support.If true, this marks a significant expansion of America’s role in Afghanistan in 2015. Previously, President Obama said US forces would not be involved in combat operations once the new year begins. He did say troops would continue training Afghan forces and track down remaining Al-Qaeda members.Obama signed the secret order after tense debates within the administration. The military reportedly argued that it would allow the US to keep the pressure on the Taliban and other groups should details emerge that they are planning to attack American troops. Civilian aides, meanwhile, said the role of combat troops should be limited to counter-terror missions against Al-Qaeda.The Times said an administration official painted the secret order's authorization as a win for the military, but another said the US would not carry out "offensive missions" against the Taliban in 2015.“We will no longer target belligerents solely because they are members of the Taliban,” the official said. “To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe.”The change in direction came as the administration faces pointed criticism from those who say the US withdrew from Iraq too quickly, allowing the so-called Islamic State to make rapid gains in a country whose military proved to be easily intimidated and defeated.Meanwhile, new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has a much softer position on the US presence in his country compared to his predecessor Hamid Karzai. Ghani reportedly asked the US to keep battling the Taliban into 2015. He also removed restrictions against US airstrikes and joint raids that were implemented by Karzai.It appears that the number of troops that will be operating in Afghanistan next year will remain unchanged from previous plans. There will be 9,800 soldiers left throughout next year, and that number will be cut in half by the end of the year.By the end of 2016, the remaining troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan, ending the US military presence in the country.
  • Washington plays Russian roulette
    Washington plays Russian roulette By Pepe Escobar "Asia Times" These are bleak times. I've been in serious conversation with some deep sources and interlocutors - those who know but don't need to show off, privileging discretion. They are all deeply worried. This is what one of them, a New York strategic planner, sent me:The propaganda attack against Putin equating him with Hitler is so extreme that you have to think that the Russians cannot believe their ears and cannot trust the United States anymore under any circumstances.I cannot believe how we could have gotten ourselves into this situation to protect the looters in the Ukraine that Putin would have rid the Ukraine of, and even had the gall to place in a leadership role one of the worst of the thieves. But that is history. What is certain is that MAD [mutually assured destruction] is not a deterrent today when both sides believe the other will use nuclear weapons once they have the advantage and that the side that gains a decisive advantage will use them. MAD is now over.That may sound somewhat extreme - but it's a perfectly logical extension, further on down the road, of what the Russian president intimated in his already legendary interview with Germany's ARD in Vladivostok last week: the West is provoking Russia into a new Cold War. [1]Mikhail Gorbachev just stressed a few days ago the new Cold War is already on. Princeton's Stephen Cohen says the Cold War in fact never left. The Roving Eye reported about Cold War 2.0 months ago. Brits - still stranded in the 19th century new Great Game - prefer to spin the "strident toxic personality" of "diminutive Putin"; [2] he is the "ruthless, charming and ultimately reckless" man who "put the cold war back in vogue". The Council on Foreign Relations, predictably, mourns the end of the post-Cold War world, blasts the current "disorder", and dreams of the good ol' unchallenged exceptionalist days. [3]For arguably the best detailed background on how we came to this perilous state of affairs, it's hard to beat Vladimir Kozin of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies. [4] Read him carefully. And yes, it's Cold War 2.0, the double trouble remix; between the US and Russia, and between NATO and Russia.Seeing redIn his ARD interview, Putin stuck to actual facts on the ground: "NATO and the United States have military bases scattered all over the globe, including in areas close to our borders, and their number is growing ? Moreover, just recently it was decided to deploy special operations forces, again in close proximity to our borders. You have mentioned various [Russian] exercises, flights, ship movements and so on. Is all of this going on? Yes, it is indeed."For the Russia-demonizing hordes, it's always convenient to forget that NATO expansion to Georgia and Ukraine was clinched at a NATO meeting in Bucharest in April 2008. The Georgia op spectacularly failed in the summer of 2008. Ukraine is a work in progress.Crucially, in the ARD interview, Putin also told the EU coalition of the clueless/vassals/puppets/ that Russia can bring down the Ukraine House of Cards in a flash; Moscow just needs to emphasize it's time to collect the humongous amounts of cash it is legally owed.Putin also made it very clear Moscow won't allow - and that was categorical: won't allow - Donbass to be overrun/smashed/ethnic-cleansed by Kiev: "Today there is fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian central authorities have sent the armed forces there and they even use ballistic missiles. Does anybody speak about it? Not a single word. And what does it mean? What does it tell us? This points to the fact, that you want the Ukrainian central authorities to annihilate everyone there, all of their political foes and opponents. You want that? We certainly don't. And we won't let it happen." [5]According to Kiev's own figures, no less than 65% of residential buildings and 10% of schools and kindergartens in Donbass have been destroyed. Over 40,000 medium-sized companies are paralyzed. Unemployment - Ukraine-wide, is over 40%. External debt may reach US$80 billion - and don't expect the International Monetary Fund, which now owns Ukraine, to go philanthropic. Most of all, Kiev can't pay its billionaire gas bills to Gazprom because it spends a fortune terrorizing eastern Ukraine citizens. This Poroshenko rant sums it all up - with the US and EU fully complicit.So NATO has been warned about Russia's real red lines. Still, substantial sectors of the Washington/Wall Street elites can't get enough of war. And they like it hot. [6] No one should ever underestimate the unlimited stupidity of the Return of the Living Neo-con Dead using their favorite pulpit, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.The "logic" behind Cold War 2.0 - now in full swing - couldn't give a damn about European stability. The Obama administration launched it - with NATO as the spearhead - to in fact prevent Eurasian integration, building a New Berlin Wall in Kiev. The immediate target is to undermine Russia's economy; in the long run, regime change would be the ultimate bonus.So the logic of escalation is on. The economically devastated EU is a joke; the only thing that counts for the US is NATO - and the overwhelming majority of its members are in the bag, sharing the prevailing mood in Washington of treating Putin as if he were Milosevic, Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi. There are no signs whatsoever Team Obama is willing to de-escalate. And when the Hillarator President-in-Waiting ascends to the throne, all bets are off.Notes:1. Putin's Sunday Interview on German TV (Dubbed + Transcript), Russian Insider, November 19, 2014.2. The new cold war: are we going back to the bad old days?, The Guardian, November 19, 2014.3. The Unraveling: How to Respond to a Disordered World, foreignaffairs.com, December 2014 issue.4. See here.5. The broken-down beauty of Eastern Ukraine, 25 years after the end of the USSR, Quartz, November 15, 2014.6. The Wall Street Journal Wants the US to Go To War in Ukraine, Russia Insider, November 18, 2014.Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
  • China Successfully Launches Second Disaster Relief Satellite
    China Successfully Launches Second Disaster Relief Satellite By Sputnik China has successfully launched the Kuaizhou II natural disaster monitoring satellite into orbit, making it the second space mission launch within about 24 hours, Xinhua news agency reported Friday.MOSCOW, November 21 (Sputnik) – The satellite was launched into orbit at 2:37 p.m. local time Friday (06:37 GMT) from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the news agency reported.Kuaizhou II, also known as Speedy Vehicle II, will monitor natural disasters and provide disaster relief information. Kuaizhou I was launched last year in September with the same mission.Earlier on Thursday, China launched the Yaogan Weixing-24 remote-sensing satellite at 3:12 p.m. local time. Yaogan Weixing-24 will carry out disaster relief monitoring, scientific experiments and assess and estimate crop yields, the news agency said in an earlier report.The number of military-controlled space activities in China has grown recently. Last week, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation announced that the country plans to launch about 120 applied satellites. In early November, China's maiden lunar orbiter successfully flew around the far side of the moon and safely landed back on Earth.The country aims to operate its own permanent space station by 2020, according to the China National Space Administration.
  • Move over Trans-Siberian: China launches 'world’s longest' train route
    Move over Trans-Siberian: China launches 'world’s longest' train route By RT The 82-wagon cargo train is expected to take 21 days to travel 6,200 miles, passing through six countries between China and Spain.Dubbed Yixinou, the train left Yiwu, an industrial center less than 200 miles south of Shanghai, on Tuesday and is expected to reach Madrid in December after traversing Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, and France, reports the Local.se.The newly operational route is 450 miles longer than the famous Moscow-Vladivostok connection. However, unlike the Russian line, goods on the Yixinou will have to be transferred to different wagons at three points during the trip because of incompatible track gauges in different countries.China was eager to connect Yiwu, the world’s largest wholesale market for small consumer goods to Europe by railway. According to the European Commission, China is the EU’s biggest source of imports. The two entities currently trade over a billion dollars a day.China’s state press agency noted that the new route “would reduce dependence on sea and air cargo transport.” Businesses in Yiwu also welcomed the new line, saying it was faster than sea transport, and much cheaper than air. Test operations for the route, which began at the start of this year, left Yiwu and terminated in Central Asia, reportedly brought an additional $39 million boost to the coastal region’s export value.China’s President, Xi Jinping, was optimistic about the future of China-Europe train connections when meeting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajov in Beijing earlier this fall.”China looks forward to the West's proactive participation in building and operating the Yiwu-Madrid line that would help boost the level of cooperation between China and Spain," he said.Others, however, are concerned about the potential operational costs of railway freight, with some calling for government subsidization. Currently, operational costs of the Yiwu-Madrid line are about 20 percent higher than the cost of using sea transport.Huang Qifan, the mayor of Chongqing, a major industrial center in south west China which serves as the starting point of the Chongqing-Duisburg line, part of the expanding “New Silk Road,” believes there will be no profit unless the price of cargo per kilometer drops."If the cost remains high, the government should subsidize," Huang was quoted as saying in the Want China Times, a Taiwan based news website.Meanwhile, authorities maintain that costs will fall as both export and import values increase.
  • Ukip victory in Rochester and Strood piles pressure on Cameron
    Ukip victory in Rochester and Strood piles pressure on Cameron Ukip beats Tories by 2,920 votes in Kent byelectionFarage says ‘all bets are off’ for general electionLabor support plummets to 16.8% of vote By Rowena Mason in Rochester "theguardian.com, Friday 21 November 2014 06.15 GMT" Ukip has seized its second seat at Westminster in as many months, defeating the Conservatives by 2,920 votes in the closely-fought Rochester and Strood byelection.The insurgent party’s victory amounts to a humiliating defeat for David Cameron. The prime minister promised to throw everything at winning the contest, visiting the seat five times and ordering his MPs to make at least three trips each.Mark Reckless, a former Tory MP whose defection to Ukip triggered the byelection received 16,867 votes, or 42.1% of the poll.His Conservative opponent, Kelly Tolhurst, took 13,947 votes (34.8%). The Conservative vote fell by 14.4%.Labour’s Naushabah Khan came third with 6,713 (16.8%, down 11.7%) and the Liberal Democrats just 349 (0.9%, down 15.4%).The Lib Dems came behind the Greens, who polled 1,692 (4.2% up 2.7%).In his victory speech, Reckless told Britons that Ukip would “give you back your country”.He said his win proved Ukip could win nationwide and called for voters to put the party in a balance of power position in parliament.“Whichever constituency, whatever your former party allegiance, think of what it would mean to have a bloc of Ukip MPs at Westminster large enough to hold the balance of power,” he said.“If you believe that the world is bigger than Europe, if you believe in an independent Britain then come with us and we will give you back your country.”He also gave a mention to European migrants, after he was accused last week by Labour of wanting to see them repatriated if Britain leaves the EU. “They’re now here as part of our country, and they will always be welcome,” he said.Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, described the win as “massive” because it was the party’s 271st target seat. “Looking forward to next year’s general election,” he added, “all bets are off, the whole thing’s up in the air.”Ukip’s margin of victory was not as high as some polls had predicted but it is still likely to increase panic in the Conservative ranks about strategy and messaging just six months away from the election.With the party continuing to lose swaths of support to Ukip, Cameron’s leadership may now come under pressure.Labour said its vote was squeezed by the other two parties, while the Liberal Democrats candidate Geoff Juby lost his deposit.The result is poor for the Conservatives but does not augur well either for Ed Miliband’s hopes of winning an outright majority and performing well in the south of England. Labour had held the north Kent seat for 13 years until Reckless won in 2010 following some boundary changes.Polling day was also overshadowed for Labour by the fact that one of its senior MPs, Emily Thornberry, had to resign from the shadow cabinet over accusations her tweet of a Rochester house draped in St George’s flags showed snobbery against her party’s traditional working-class voters.Thornberry’s departure was an entirely unexpected twist on a night that was set to be dominated by damage to Cameron’s reputation and the possibility of further defections from the Conservatives to Ukip.Senior Conservative sources have also expressed hope that the seat can be won back in May after voters have had the chance to give the government a kicking.Turnout was just 50.67%, or 40,113 votes – lower than would be typical in a general election – and pollsters suggested Reckless needed a 10 percentage-point majority to be confident about holding the seat in the general election next year.However, Ukip said the result would give the momentum needed to gain even more seats than currently expected at the next election.Diane James, a Ukip MEP, told the FT: “We could get 20 seats. That would be the icing on the cake.”Rochester and Strood was regarded as much less natural Ukip territory than Clacton in Essex, where the first party’s first MP, Douglas Carswell, another Tory defector, won last month.There are therefore serious worries at No 10 about the possibility of further defections in the case of a defeat, after Reckless said he was in talks with two of his former colleagues.On the campaign trail, the Tory chief whip, Michael Gove, insisted he was “absolutely 100%” sure there would be no more defections, regardless of the result.Cameron has taken a different tone in recent days when the prospect of defections has been raised. Asked about his message to would-be switchers, he urged MPs to stay with him on the basis that moving to Ukip would be counter-productive in light of his EU referendum promise.Farage gave strong hints that he believed more MPs would join him. Asked before the count whether Adam Holloway, the Eurosceptic Tory MP for neighbouring Gravesham, would defect, the Ukip leader said: “Who’s to say?“Depending on the result tonight, let’s see what happens. There may well be a number of MPs who look at their own positions and think: do you know what, maybe this is the right place to be.”Asked about Gove’s confidence about keeping all his MPs, Farage added: “I like Michael very much but since he went from being an excellent education secretary, his role as [chief whip] is not looking to be terribly good, is it? He’s getting most things wrong, and he’s probably going to be wrong about this too.”The byelection campaign was dominated by the issue of the NHS and local schools but there were bitter battles over the issue of immigration, with Reckless criticised for suggesting that some immigrants could be asked to leave the country in the event of the UK leaving the EU. He subsequently flatly denied that this would be the case and infuriated his Tory opponent by accusing her of distributing “BNP-light” campaign material.Straight after the count, Ukip supporters headed to a nightclub in Chatham for a party addressed by Farage.Downcast Conservatives headed home, as their party chairman, Grant Shapps, tried to put a positive gloss on the defeat by claiming they would be “in strong contention” to take the seat back in May.Treasury minister Priti Patel, who attended the count, said the result was “disappointing” but predicted the party would fight to win the seat back in the general election.The losing Tory candidate, Tolhurst, said: “I’m going to fight every day until May 2015 to return a Conservative MP in this constituency.“I will not let Ukip put Ed Miliband in No 10. The truth is, Ukip have taken seats from the Conservatives but all that does is make sure that Labour is in office and what that will mean is ... higher taxes, more borrowing, uncontrolled immigration and welfare.”With all the mainstream parties vulnerable to Ukip’s taunts about them being part of a “political elite”, Thornberry’s tweet touched a particular raw nerve with Labour as Miliband tries to stop the seepage of working-class Labour votes to Ukip.Her tweet simply showed a terraced house draped in flags and a white van outside, without any negative comment about its owner. Several newspapers managed to track down the inhabitant of the house, 36-year-old Dan Ware, who said he was upset about his van’s numberplate being circulated on the internet.The first edition of the Sun newspaper’s front page referred to “Snob Labour MP’s dig at White Van Man England flags”.The MP for Islington South & Finsbury initially defended her decision to take the picture, saying her critics may have been showing “a somewhat prejudiced attitude towards Islington”. But within hours, she apologised for “any offence caused” by the tweet after party sources made clear Miliband was furious.Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, suggested it was “derogatory and dismissive of the people”. He told the Mail Online it was “like the Labour party has been hijacked by the north London liberal elite and it’s comments like that which reinforce that view”.Just after the polls closed in Rochester at 10pm, it emerged that Thornberry had resigned following a second conversation with Miliband. A Labour source said: “She thought the right thing to do was to resign. Ed agreed.”
  • West Must Not Encroach on Russia’s Interests in Post-Soviet Space
    West Must Not Encroach on Russia’s Interests in Post-Soviet Space By Arkady DZIUBA | 21.11.2014 | 00:00 "Strategic Culture Foundation" Russian President Vladimir Putin answered questions from a correspondent of German TV channel ARD in Vladivostok on November 13. On November 19, President Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave an interview to BBC. The both interviews contained an important and timely message to the West making precise the Russia’s stance on Ukraine.A BBC correspondent said Russia was making the situation in Ukraine growing tenser. Mr. Peskov said in response, «We will continue to make it much more tense as far as our national interests are concerned».Answering the question if the Ukrainian scenario could be repeated in Latvia, Peskov said «I would share their worries». According to him, if someone orchestrated a coup d’état and Brussels would recognize the new power, then «there would be a danger for Latvia».In his interview Peskov voiced the key demand put forward by Russia –the West must provide guarantees to Moscow that Ukraine will never become a NATO member.The guarantees must be binding and unconditional, otherwise the scenario may be repeated - NATO failed to hold to the promise made to Michael Gorbachev, then President of the USSR, not to expand to the East. Today Moscow understands well that Western promises are nothing but empty words and nobody of those who dealt with Gorbachev ever intended to come through.The sharp crisis in Ukraine has been lasting for more than a year. The Russia’s stance on the issue has been consistent and expressed in mild words. No need to sound tough if the goal is to avoid a conflict and adopt the policy aimed at dialogue and constructive talks with an opponent, the role played by the West while discussing the situation in Ukraine with Russia. Only political losers burst out with bombastic remarks. The example is close at hand, just have a look at the statements made by Ukrainian political riff-raff about Russia and compare it with reality. Moscow has been turning a deaf ear to the baloney voiced by Kiev. It has been regularly offering a dialogue to the West as the party responsible for what has happened in Ukraine during the last year. The recent statements coming from the Kremlin strike new notes to change the tonality of talks.The Minsk agreements are not complied with. Ukrainian forces never stop to shell the residential areas in Donetsk. Poroshenko says Ukraine is ready for an all-out war with Russia. Other top officials of the regime in Kiev say ditto. They don’t make a secret out of the fact that the only thing the armistice is needed for is to regroup forces, heal the wounds and then deliver a new strike. Poroshenko issued an executive order banning social payments like pensions, benefits etc. to the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics, no matter the region of Donbass is an economic donor of Ukraine. Until now the region has been regularly paying taxes and pension contributions. The incumbent regime cuts off Donbass from the rest of Ukraine. The decision is taken as winter is approaching while the infrastructure is destroyed as a result of war. The physical survival of the people living in Donbass is in question. At that Kiev continues to say that it would never reconcile with the fact that part of its territory is lost. It insists that any type of federalization is out of the question. A new offensive against “separatists and terrorists» is to be expected soon.Should Russia stay away as the people who pin their hopes on it are dying as a result of shelling and hunger? It renders humanitarian aid to Donbass and so far abstains from other ways of influencing the situation in order not to give reasons for saying that Russia encroaches on the Ukraine’s territorial integrity. One gets the impression that Russia needs this integrity more than Ukraine itself. That is the only explanation of the fact that, no matter all the crimes committed by the Kiev regime, Moscow leaves the door open to talks on Donbass remaining part of Ukraine.With all the efforts applied by it to manage the crisis, it is nobody else but Moscow who is blamed for the destabilization in Ukraine.In his first public speech at the German Marshall Fund, Brussels General Jens Stoltenberg, the new NATO Secretary General, said that Russia violates international law and challenges Euro Atlantic security. Russia has vital interest in Ukraine, but NATO has no intention to provide any guarantees that Ukraine will not become a member of the Alliance and will not be dragged into the orbit of its interests. To the contrary, the promise to let Ukraine finally join the organization is actually confirmed. To appease Moscow they say the issue of Ukraine’s membership is not part of the current agenda.The West strongly believes that it can still treat Russia as in the days of Gorbachev and Yeltsin! It’s a pity! It’s better to leave these false impressions behind.The new notes struck by the statements made in Moscow are an invitation for the Russia’s Euro Atlantic partners to get rid of their illusions as fast as they can. That’s the message President Putin also tried to bring home at the G20 summit. Did the Western leaders get it? That is the question.
  • Russia warns US against supplying ‘lethal defensive aid’ to Ukraine
    Russia warns US against supplying ‘lethal defensive aid’ to Ukraine By RT Moscow has warned Washington a potential policy shift from supplying Kiev with “non-lethal aid” to “defensive lethal weapons”, mulled as US Vice President visits Ukraine, would be a direct violation of all international agreements.A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that reports of possible deliveries of American “defensive weapons” to Ukraine would be viewed by Russia as a “very serious signal.”“We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power in the region,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned. Ukrainian army soldiers with an artillery field gun maneuver on the coastline near the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on October 21, 2014. (AFP Photo/Alexander Khudoteply)His remarks follow US deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken Wednesday’s statement at a hearing before the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, in which he said that Biden may offer the provision of “lethal defensive weapons” as he visits Ukraine. Lethal assistance “remains on the table. It's something that we’re looking at,” Blinken said.“We paid attention not only to such statements, but also to the trip of representatives of Ukrainian volunteer battalions to Washington, who tried to muster support of the US administration,” Lukashevich said.The Ministry made it clear that such a move by Washington would violate a number of agreements.“This is a very serious signal for several reasons. First of all, this is a direct violation of agreements, including the ones achieved in partnership with the United States. I mean the Geneva Declaration from 17 April,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman. US Vice President Joe Biden (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal aid from the US during a visit to Washington in September.READ MORE: Obama declines to give Ukraine 'lethal aid' despite Poroshenko's pleaThe American Vice President who has arrived in Kiev late Thursday has not yet made any official announcement, but Reuters’ sources point to the possibility that US might increase a “non-lethal” aid package to Kiev instead of opting to supply arms.Under the non-lethal aid package, the US could deliver to Ukraine first Humvee vehicles and radars but as officials pointed out such deliveries would unlikely alter the conflict. Previous non-lethal aid to Ukraine announced in September included military equipment such as counter-mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars and other gear worth $53 million.At the same time the US diplomatic branch announced that it will continue to send advisers to Kiev and has allocated funds to Ukraine to battle what both the US and Ukraine see as a threat from Russia. Medical volunteers unpack individual first aid kits similar to those used by NATO during a ceremony where they were donated by Kiev's Mayor Vitaly Klitschko in Kiev October 31, 2014. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)“The United States, as you’re no doubt aware, is providing about $116 million in security assistance to help Ukraine in this effort,”State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Thursday. “This assistance also includes advising and training, and the United States will continue to send advisory teams to Kiev to help improve Ukraine’s combat medical care and to identify areas for additional security assistance.”Rathke also said that lethal assistance to Ukraine is not yet “off the table.”“Our position on lethal aid hasn’t changed. Nothing is off the table, and we continue to believe there’s no military solution. But we, in light of Russia’s actions, as the nominee mentioned yesterday in his testimony, this is – as he indicated, this is something that we should be looking at,” Rathke said.For now all will be decided Friday when Biden is expected to hold talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and President Petro Poroshenko. Following the talks, Biden and Poroshenko will make a joint press statement.
  • Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Gitmo Force Feeding Case Update
    Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Gitmo Force Feeding Case Update By Peter B Collins | November 20, 2014 Peter B. Collins Presents Attorney Jon Eisenberg Hunger striking prisoners at Guantanamo are often forcibly “extracted” from their cells to be force fed. Jon Eisenberg relates the recent ruling in the case of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, where Judge Gladys Kessler showed compassion for Dhiab and expressed outrage over aspects of his treatment, but failed to address the key legal issues. While he is very disappointed in the ruling, Eisenberg confirms that there was a secret hearing with only government lawyers present, and notes that he is pursuing the same legal points in another case before a different judge. He says Dhiab’s treatment has improved, and that the release of videos of cell extraction and force feeding may be delayed by government appeals.*Jon B. Eisenberg is an attorney in Oakland, California who is one of many pro bono lawyers aligned with Reprieve (UK) and the Center for Constitutional Rights. He was lead counsel in the al Haramain illegal wiretapping case.Listen to the Preview Clip Here