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Boat

Being a US vassal state is expensive: France to pay €1.1 bn to Russia for cancelled Mistral ships

© Reuters / Stephane Mahe
France plans to pay back costs for the Mistral helicopter carriers ordered by Russia if they are not delivered, returning €800 million and paying compensation for other expenses totaling €300 million, French media reports citing government sources.

Paris is expected to fund the compensation from €2 billion that Poland will pay to buy French helicopters, according to Le Journal du Dimanche.

The decision on compensating Russian costs for the Mistral ships hasn't yet been legally formalized; however France and Russia will take another month to set the exact terms of the annulment of the contract for the Mistral war ships.

In addition, Russia will give France the right to resell the two helicopter carriers, the newspaper says adding that some NATO countries have already shown interest in buying them.

Comment: It will be interesting to see if France will try to find a way to weasel out of the deal.


Star of David

Dozens of Palestinians, four police officers, injured in Jerusalem

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© Radio Bethlehem 2000
Palestinian medical sources said dozens of Palestinians have been injured during clashes in different areas of occupied Jerusalem.

Israeli Ynet News said the incident took place near the Mount of Olives, and that three of the officers suffered mild injuries, and one suffered moderate wounds on her lower limbs.

Clashes took place in the area after more police units, and ambulances, rushed to the scene to evacuate the wounded officers.

More clashes took place in Silwan, and the Muslim Quarter of occupied East Jerusalem.

Comment: Looks like Israel has its hands full with the increased tensions in the occupied territories. Probably won't be long before this escalates.


Attention

Yemen Foreign Minister rejects peace talks

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© AFP 2015/ MOHAMMED HUWAIS
Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen rejected a call for peace talks issued by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, pointing out that the Saudi-led military operation against Houthi militia will continue, Reuters said.

The foreign minister said during a conference in London:
"These calls are unacceptable after all of the destruction Ali Abdullah Saleh has caused. There can be no place for Saleh in any future political talks."

Comment: The Houthi militia is not backing down. It seems a ground war is inevitable.


Star of David

AIPAC-backed legislation targeting BDS movement advances in Congress

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© REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
From the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 to the anti-Apartheid campaigns in the 90s, Senator Ben Cardin has spent his life supporting boycotts as a tool for achieving racial, social and economic justice. That all apparently changed when Palestinian civil society decided to adopt boycotts as a tactic to challenge Israel's brutal military occupation.

This past Tuesday Senator Cardin introduced an AIPAC-backed amendment to a trade bill that seeks to thwart the growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. Although it's not yet publicly available, the text of Senator Cardin's amendment is reportedly similar to an amendment that was passed by the House Committee on Ways and Means on Thursday.

Folder

Declassified: Report on NSA surveillance flares up battle for privacy

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© AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards
In anticipation of the Patriot Act surveillance law's expiration, the White House has declassified a six-year-old report on NSA practices. Some Republican lawmakers are seeking the prolongation of bulk data collection.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released the redacted report on the National Security Agency surveillance program following a lawsuit filed by the New York Times in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

The report was prepared by experts from the CIA, the Justice Department, NSA, ODNI and Pentagon back in July 2009.

Comment: An upcoming political battle that will get drawn out to the last minute. There is no reason to believe the Patriot Act will change in any significant way. It will be renewed.


Gold Coins

Austerity measures?: UK's super-rich aren't starving, ain't jobless nor homeless and double wealth over past decade!

© Getty Images for Warner Music Group/AFP/Reuters
Len Blavatnik (left), Galen Weston (center), Srichand Hinduja (right)
As the EU tries to battle its way out of financial crisis, the British mega rich continue to gain capital, according to the Sunday Times' Rich List. It revealed that during the past 10 years the top one percent's fortunes more than doubled in the UK. The combined assets owned by the 1,000 wealthiest individuals in the UK have hit a new high of £547 billion ($831 billion), up from £250 billion posted in 2005.

All these gains came flooding in despite surging unemployment rates all over Europe, creeping deflation fears and overall economic slowdown. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly competitive for the rich to find a place among the top 1,000 spot, with a minimum fortune of £100 million required. Sunday Times published its list on April 26, revealing the names of 117 billionaires, with 80 of them residing in London.

© iStockphoto
On top of the list is the Ukrainian businessman Len Blavatnik with £13.17 billion, taking the spot for the very first time as well as pushing the brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja with £13 billion out of the lead and into the second place.

One of Blavatnik's successful assets includes the Warner Music Group, which was purchased in 2011. The third spot went to the Galen and George Weston and family whose estimated worth is £11 billion.

However, some of the billionaires suffered some losses, including steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, whose fortune dropped to £9.2 billion and Chelsea Football Club chairman Roman Abramovich's assets plunged to £7.29 billion. The list compiles the individuals' land and property as well as financial assets like shares, but excludes bank accounts.

Comment: What are the world's richest up to?
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Behind the Headlines - The Bilderberg Group - Interview with Daniel Estulin




Red Flag

Banks increasingly refuse cash withdrawals - Switzerland joins the fun

© Daniel Rohr
Swiss National Bank headquarters

The war on cash is proliferating globally. It appears that the private members of the world's banking cartels are increasingly joining the fun, even if it means trampling on the rights of their customers.


Yesterday we came across an article at Zerohedge, in which Dr. Salerno of the Mises Institute notes that JP Morgan Chase has apparently joined the "war on cash", by "restricting the use of cash in selected markets, restricting borrowers from making cash payments on credit cards, mortgages, equity lines and auto loans, as well as prohibiting storage of cash in safe deposit boxes".

This reminded us immediately that we have just come across another small article in the local European press (courtesy of Dan Popescu), in which a Swiss pension fund manager discusses his plight with the SNB's bizarre negative interest rate policy. In Switzerland this policy has long ago led to negative deposit rates at the commercial banks as well. The difference to other jurisdictions is however that negative interest rates have become so pronounced, that it is by now worth it to simply withdraw one's cash and put it into an insured vault.

Having realized this, said pension fund manager, after calculating that he would save at least 25,000 CHF per year on every CHF 10 m. deposit by putting the cash into a vault, told his bank that he was about to make a rather big withdrawal very soon. After all, as a pension fund manager he has a fiduciary duty to his clients, and if he can save money based on a technicality, he has to do it.

Comment: The 'war on cash' continues as the next economic crash looks imminent:


Bad Guys

U.S. Military performing drills in public, Army manual states need to 'reeducate dissidents on U.S. soil'

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© Reuters / James Lawler Duggan
Rick Scott of security contractor Camber Corp impersonates a hostile shooter during a training exercise at Quantico Middle High School in Quantico, Virginia
US Army field manuals admit that public drills are aimed at dealing with political dissidents that need to be "reeducated to gain a new appreciation of US policies," Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars Editor at Large told RT's In the Now.

RT: The police in the US are accused more than ever now of militarization. A video has appeared online showing armed national guardsmen conducting exercises near a children's playground in Virginia. We contacted the infantry brigade - here's what they told us: coordination was made with the Staunton Police Department, these are freshers who are training on basic military subjects like drill and ceremonies, basic first aid, military courtesies and the guns they carry are replicas. What is wrong with it?

Paul Joseph Watson: What is wrong with that is the fact that they are doing it not on base but in public. And we have to put this in the context of a spate of videos which have emerged in the recent weeks with not only National Guard but US Army troops in some cases working with police conducting these public drills which in some cases, not in this case but others, are based around crowd control and civil unrest. And the line they always give us that it's designed for overseas combat, foreign operations. But if you then read the US Army's actual manuals that they release, it's clear that it's for dual purpose, it's for "dissidents" on US soil. So the media regurgitate this claim that all these drills are just foreign operations. Yet they are doing it in public, in plain sight, while privately in their own field manuals admitting that it's to take on "dissidents within the continental US." That's why people are concerned about it and a lot of our audience is National Guard or former or current US military. They are concerned about these public drills. They didn't enlist to police the US people which is a lot of this seems to be geared towards.

Comment: While there may be genuine concern of more violent political unrest in the USA, if there were a sufficiently hyped 'national emergency' all these programs could easily be implemented in order to create a domestic situation eerily similar to Nazi Germany. If we look at a brief sample of news from around the world, we see that the probability of such a scenario seems to be increasing daily:


Bad Guys

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will usher in the death of the republic

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government. — Article IV, Section 4, US Constitution
© wilderutopia.com
A republican form of government is one in which power resides in elected officials representing the citizens, and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law.

In The Federalist Papers, James Madison defined a republic as "a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people . . . ."

On April 22, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that would override our republican form of government and hand judicial and legislative authority to a foreign three-person panel of corporate lawyers.

Comment: For more on the TPP see:


Dollars

Losing the War on Drugs: Russian drug czar claims global drug market approaching scale of oil & gas industry

© Reuters / Ricardo Rojas
The dark underworld of drug trafficking will soon be bigger than the world's $3.7 trillion oil and gas market, and is already bigger than the global auto industry, the director of Russia's drug control agency said.

"We see that drug trade is a significant part of the global economy. Unfortunately we have to state today that the drug traffic market is bigger than the automotive industry and its volume is approaching that of the oil and gas sector," Viktor Ivanov said during a ministry meeting with BRICS countries to discuss the war on drugs.

Ivanov singled out Afghanistan and South America as major drug production hubs, noting that more than 80 percent of heroin is produced in Afghanistan and 100 percent of cocaine in South America, by his estimates.


Comment: Interesting that Afghan heroin production only increased to that level after the US invaded. Coincidence?


"Unfortunately, production has once again started to increase in the so-called Golden Triangle of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos," said Ivanov.

Comment: Seeing as how the War on Drugs is a complete failure and one that cannot be won, perhaps it's time to focus our collective attention on issues of real import. Like the pedophiles running our governments.