Gift 3

IMF carve-up of Ukraine: Putin may have 'taken' Crimea, but Western corporations took everything else

Putin
© Presidential Press and Information Office
Putin at the press conference following the Russian-Hungarian talks.
As the conflict in Ukraine persists and as peace talks between Putin and western European leaders (Merkel and Hollande) continue, it is important to look at the economic actors/interests that benefit from conflict and regime change in the Ukraine and how this compares to situations like Syria, Libya and Iraq. There are under-reported angles and interests to these conflicts that we hear little about in western mainstream media and that many do not look for because they are too caught up in political or human dramas. For instance, mainstream media spend so much time demonizing a single enemy, be it Putin in the Ukraine situation, Assad in Syria, Gaddafi in Libya or Saddam Hussein in Iraq, etc., that they do not also critically explore how external actors may exploit or bolster such conflicts and situations in order to secure politic-economic motives such as access to oil, making way for destructively conditional IMF loans, or quashing domestic policies that undermine foreign imperial and economic interests.

In western media, a dangerously false binary exists; wherein opposition to western imperial and corporate agendas for a particular region equals support for "evil men" like Putin or Gaddafi, for instance. This is part of what I call distraction politics or conflation politics, where opposition to neoliberal and imperial policies—such as IMF loans with austerity conditions that devastate and impoverish a nation, its people and its agriculture—is conflated with support for certain tyrants (as defined by the west).

Comment: Western propaganda is so backwards that it's brain damaging. For accurate information about what happened in Ukraine - and why - check out:

Megaphone

General Wesley Clark: Our friends and allies created ISIS

Not that it was really a conspiracy 'theory' but with General Wesley Clark (ret.) now openly admitting "ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies... to fight to the death against Hezbollah" it appears the 'angel investors' cat is out of the bag. Adding that "they recruited the zealots and religious fundamentalists" Clark says 'we' create "Frankenstein." He is careful not to name names, but we ask (rhetorically of course), which of our (oil-bearing) allies has the biggest bone to pick with Hezbollah (apart from Israel of course)?

Clark on creating Frankenstein...

Magic Hat

Minsk, Merkel and the American Way: Der Spiegel says Putin has won

A mammoth Der Spiegel article points to Russian-German understanding for a broad settlement of the Ukrainian conflict

Merkel is now billing herself a 'realist'
Yesterday Russia Insider published a lengthy account from the German magazine Der Spiegel of the Minsk negotiations.

This article is a good example of the sort of press Merkel gets in Germany. It portrays her as the heroine of the hour, battling to save peace from the sinister designs of others. The article lavishes praise on her in a way that readers outside Germany might find unsettling. Contrary to what many in the West think, the Russian media never writes about Putin in this way.

The very favourable publicity Merkel gets in Germany is coordinated by her own office. Articles like the one in Der Spiegel are written in close communication with her office. This means that though the article gives a rather one-sided account of the Minsk negotiations, it is nonetheless packed with information if one knows how to read it properly. In the case of this particular piece, we can be certain that Merkel's office was involved since the article actually names it as a source.

The first thing we learn from the text is that what triggered the Minsk process is the disintegration of the Ukrainian economy and especially of the Ukrainian military.
USA

Fifty shades of filth: The glorification and acceptance of pornography reveals society's moral bankruptcy

© YouTube
[Editor's note: All redactions are sott.net redactions for offensive language]

Fifty Shades of Grey, the book and the movie, is a celebration of the sadism that dominates nearly every aspect of American culture and lies at the core of pornography and global capitalism. It glorifies our dehumanization of women. It champions a world devoid of compassion, empathy and love. It eroticizes hypermasculine power that carries out the abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture of women whose personalities have been removed, whose only desire is to debase themselves in the service of male lust. The film, like American Sniper, unquestioningly accepts a predatory world where the weak and the vulnerable are objects to exploit while the powerful are narcissistic and violent demigods. It blesses this capitalist hell as natural and good.

"Pornography," Robert Jensen writes, "is what the end of the world looks like."

We are blinded by self-destructive fantasy. An array of amusements and spectacles, including TV "reality" shows, huge sporting events, social media, porn (which earns at least twice what Hollywood movies generate), alluring luxury products, drugs, alcohol and magic Jesus, offers enticing exit doors from reality. We yearn to be rich, powerful and celebrities. And those we must trample to build our pathetic little empires are seen as deserving their fate. That nearly all of us will never attain these ambitions is emblematic of our collective self-delusion and the effectiveness of a culture awash in manipulation and lies.

Comment: If looked at from a broader view, the glorification and widespread availability of pornography is intentional. It's been made that way in order to create the culture that we currently have. It is done to strip away our humanity and turn us into unthinking, unfeeling robots who have lost all connection to what makes us inherently human. The same people who tout the USA as "the greatest country in the world" also have created the conditions which allowed pornography to flourish, which in turn has created a society where, more than any other time, women are victims of domestic abuse, rape, and sodomy. Even by viewing pornography, one is contributing to that world. Make a stand, refuse to participate and help end the social decline into barbarism.

USA

Leader of Islamic State is fictional character whose voice is played by an actor, says U.S. military


Comment: Although this article appeared in 2007, it is quite apt today as the Islamic State is being touted as the next big terrorist organization that requires U.S. intervention all around the world to combat.


For more than a year, the leader of one the most notorious insurgent groups in Iraq was said to be a mysterious Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi.

As the titular head of the Islamic State in Iraq, an organization publicly backed by Al Qaeda, Baghdadi issued a steady stream of incendiary pronouncements. Despite claims by Iraqi officials that he had been killed in May, Baghdadi appeared to have persevered unscathed.

On Wednesday, a senior American military spokesman provided a new explanation for Baghdadi's ability to escape attack: He never existed.

Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, said the elusive Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima.

Comment: Fascinating, isn't it?

It's as if they had a plot line involving an 'Islamic State led by al-Baghdadi' waiting in the wings, but decided against using it at the time.

7 years later, an 'Islamic State led by al-Baghdadi' is justifying US intervention from Morocco to Pakistan.

Is this one equally fictional?

There are real people doing really horrible things in Muslim countries - most of them from Europe and Saudi Arabia - but the idea that they're part of some 'cohesive enemy threatening Western civilization' is clearly fictional.

Remember what former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said before his untimely death: 'al Qaeda' was a database of Western intelligence informants...

Eye 1

Ron Paul: 'Get NATO, foreign countries out of Ukraine to end civil war'

Ron Paul

Screenshot from Ruptly video
The best thing for Ukraine is to force NATO, the US, and regional players out of the country, former US congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul said. Without foreign meddling in the civil war, Kiev will focus on the nation's economic collapse.

"Get the foreigners out of there [Ukraine], get the Europeans out, the US out, get NATO out, and get the Russians out," Paul said at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington on Friday. "There will be less of a civil war going on there because they will have to worry about their debt. This is an economic matter too. You have to realize that the country is totally bankrupt."


"I'm not pro-Putin, I'm not pro-Russia, but I'm pro-facts," Paul stressed when defending his stance. "Crimea is not exactly a foreign country, according to the Russians. But I'm neutral on that," the former presidential candidate stated.

Paul - a 79-year-old retired doctor who spent nearly three decades in the US Congress representing the state of Texas - reiterated his previous statements, noting that what happened in Ukraine last year was a "coup" that was planned by "NATO, EU" and western Ukrainians. "One thing for sure that we do know, is we [US] had the conversations between our State Department and our ambassador before the coup - who will we put in place. And they planned part of the coup."
Light Saber

Israeli air force pilot turned activist: I was "part of a terror organization"

© Ryan Rodrick Beiler
Yonatan Shapira: defines conscience and bravery in speaking out against Israeli terror.
Yonatan Shapira was born on an Israeli military base the year before his father flew fighter jets in the October War of 1973. Thirty years later, twelve of them spent as an air force pilot himself, Shapira rejected the military. In 2003, he wrote a letter, pledging not to fly over the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Shapira is among the few Israelis to have declared support for the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. He has also been attacked by the Israeli military for attempting to sail towards and break the siege of Gaza.

He recently spoke to The Electronic Intifada contributor Ryan Rodrick Beiler.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler: What was it like growing up in a military family?

Yonatan Shapira: The education I got was very much about peace, equality, freedom and a lot of socialist values — caring about the other, caring about the poor — but at the same time with a big wall of negligence of Palestine. The same time I was in class learning these beautiful values, the Israeli army was engaged in occupation, land grabs, settlements, massacres, deportation of Palestinian activists.

But I didn't know these things. I truly believed that I should defend my country. I wanted to be like my father. I wanted to be a pilot in the air force and it was my dream come true when I was accepted. I became a helicopter pilot and flew rescue missions and commando transport.

RRB: When did you begin to question the military's actions?

YS: I realized something was rotten when the Israeli government started what was called the "assassination policy" in 2001-2003. Palestinian resistance failed to bring liberation and more extreme attitudes took place, such as suicide bombings and other [forms of] armed struggle. The government thought to assassinate everyone that has to do with armed resistance.

Comment: It is the brave acts, as those like Yonatan Shapira's, that reflect the voices of conscience in this world, and help make it permissible for others to speak and act on what is in their hearts.

Windsock

NATO: Atlantic bridge is falling down... we can only hope

Washington created something called NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949 to weld Western Europe firmly to the future foreign policies of Washington, however destructive that might prove to the genuine interests of Germany, France, Italy and the other nations of Europe. In 1986 the twelve nations of the then-European Economic Community modified the 1957 Treaty of Rome and signed the Single European Act. That mandated the creation of a single EEC market by end of 1992, and set forth rules for European Political Cooperation, the forerunner of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Then on November 9, 1989, an event of historic dimension intervened to disrupt the EEC strategy for a single market. Gorbachev's USSR surrendered the German Democratic Republic to the West. The Cold War was de facto over. Germany would be reunited. The West had apparently won. Most Europeans were jubilant. Many believed the decades of living on the brink of possible nuclear war were over. The emerging Europe seemed proud, confident of the future. NATO was an entity created by Washington, in the words of its first General Secretary, Lord Ismay, to "keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down."

European Defense Pillar or US NATO?

The Maastricht Treaty, a document with fatal flaws, was introduced at a meeting of the EEC in December 1991. A shocked Helmut Kohl was told by France's Mitterrand and Britain's Margaret Thatcher that Germany must agree to creation of a single currency to control the Bundesbank. That became today's Euro and an independent supranational European Central Bank. It was blackmail as precondition for their accepting German unification. The Germans swallowed hard and signed.

What was little discussed at the time was that the Maastricht Treaty also included a section mandating establishment for the first time of a Common Foreign and Security Policy. The twelve nations signed the treaty and intense discussions were underway of establishing a European defense pillar independent of NATO. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the raison d'être for NATO was gone. The Warsaw Pact had dissolved. Washington had assured Gorbachev that NATO would never extend to the east.

Comment: It took a little time, but now that the leaders of Germany and France have finally realized that many more lives hang in the balance than just those of the Eastern Ukrainians, they have set a new dynamic in motion. Will there be more blackmail, false flags and wholesale carnage inflicted as punishment and pretext for further lies and countermoves? We'll likely see very soon. But the answer is, very probably, yes. NATO has, under the cover of formerly being a counter force to the former U.S.S.R. - morphed into something else entirely, and has wreaked catastrophic damage on the peoples of Europe and Asia. But barring some cosmic intervention likened to putting a mad dog down, NATO, and the forces behind it, will persist. The only question that now remains is, what is the rest of the world willing to do about it?

See also: NATO and Nazism: Global hegemony in the guise of "collective defense"

Roses

Chapel Hill: We can't stop speaking out, even if our voices shake

chapel hill
© The Herald-Sun | Bernard Thomas Suzanne
Barakat (left) is pictured at Wednesday's UNC vigil honoring the death of her brother Deah Shaddy Barakat. She is pictured with her parents Namee Barakat (center) and his wife Layla Barakat (right).
Dear Fellow Muslim-Americans,

I know many of you are afraid.

I am, too. It's hard not to be, when it could've been us.

This letter is a token of faith to all of you - if you have been discriminated against for your beliefs before or after Feb. 10, and if you have been, or are, scared to leave your home today.

This is for anyone who feels like they've been bullied into silence.

I'm sure you're probably asking yourselves: do your lives hold any value? Are we worth any headlines?

They do, and we are.

Comment: Suzanne Barakat talks about the death of her brother.



See also: Now is the time for everyone to stand up and speak out.

Nuke

Ten reasons why we should celebrate the inevitable nuclear holocaust

H-Bomb

So beautiful.
Our leaders are eager to escalate a conflict that could very easily spiral out of control. So why not embrace the inevitable?

A hundred years ago, the world "sleepwalked" into the First World War, the war that wiped out an entire generation of Europeans. Aren't we repeating the same sleepwalking march again, this time with even deadlier consequences? The recent baiting and bullying of Russia and the Russian-speaking population of Eastern Ukraine; the proposals in Congress to supply lethal military aid to Ukraine coupled with the Defense Secretary nominee's enthusiasm for such help, all indicate a major dysfunction of rationality.

Russia has been sending signals that it is not backing off from this conflict, that the situation in Ukraine is too important to its national security. Recent signals of Russia's resolve include its reformulation of its military doctrine that views NATO expansion into Russia's neighborhood as the major threat; and the view of US policy in Ukraine as a proxy war against Russia.

While some scholars and journalists point to the possibility, if not inevitability, of the all out war, major news outlets prefer to underreport the depth of the conflict, treating it as something farcical rather than tragic. Maybe the press and politicians have the point? After all, how can a possible war with a nuclear-armed rival be serious? So let's learn from our political leaders and stop worrying. We might as well die laughing:

10. In regular wars, common people die in the trenches while those who send them there spend their time giving speeches at luncheons and making TV appearances. By contrast, a nuclear war will put everyone in the same boat. We, the people, should all rejoice in the fact that we'll finally witness the examples of personal courage and leadership provided by our brave politicians. To see a politician putting his money where his mouth is, is one of the greatest joys of citizenry. For many true patriots, it is a joy worth dying for.

9. A nuclear war will provide great satisfaction for messianic nations that take offense at America's self-proclaimed status of "exceptional" and "indispensable." The US's status as the only nation that had used nuclear bombs against civilians will no longer be exceptional.
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