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Rocket

Iran urges India, China & Russia to counter NATO missile system

© Reuters / Atef Safadi
USS Higgins with Aegis interceptor systems
Iran has announced its readiness to cooperate with Russia, China and India on the issue of NATO's missile shield and related threats from the military bloc, the head of its defense ministry said in Moscow.

"I'd like to support the idea of developing multifaceted defense cooperation between China, Iran, India and Russia to counter NATO eastwards expansion and installing a missile shield in Europe," Hossein Dehghan said on Thursday, at an international security conference in Moscow.

Hours later Dehghan was cited by RIA Novosti as saying that Russia, China and Iran may hold tri-party defense talks.

"We discussed certain aspects of regional security. It was proposed to hold a trilateral meeting of Russia, Iran and China," Dehghan said after meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.

Comment: See also: Russia, China, Iran: Common understandings, mutually supportive actions


Dollars

Your wallet may soon become illegal: The criminalization of cash

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Louisiana has moved to criminalize cash! That's right, as you may have read on any number of websites this week, Louisiana's state legislature has passed House Bill 195, which reads in part:
"A secondhand dealer shall not enter into any cash transactions in payment for the purchase of junk or used or secondhand property. Payment shall be made in the form of check, electronic transfers, or money order issued to the seller of the junk or used or secondhand property and made payable to the name and address of the seller."

If this story seems familiar to you, then congratulations; you were probably paying attention when the bill was actually passed back in 2011. That's right, in another example of that strange internet phenomenon by which a very old "news" story gets picked up as new news by one website and then copy-pasted around the internet, it looks like Louisiana's anti-cash secondhand goods law just got recycled (appropriately enough) as a secondhand news story.

And why not? The story itself may be old, but it is part of an unfolding agenda to create a cashless society, an agenda that continues to this very day.

Do you remember when the Canadian government stopped allowing payment of taxes in cash at government service centers? Or when Passport Canada did the same?

How about when children's game manufacturers started pumping out cashless versions of the Game of Life, Monopoly and other classics? Or when companies like IBM started pimping their vision of a cashless future in TV advertisements?

Or there's the fact that London buses no longer take cash. Same in Sweden.

Did you catch when Visa chief Peter Ayliffe predicted the end of cash?

Or perhaps you've noticed that cash is getting increasingly more difficult to withdraw or even deposit into your bank account?

Of course, there are many reasons presented as to why we need to transition into a cashless society. Cash is only used by criminals and terrorists, after all (just ask the government of France or the FBI or Amtrak or, presumably, the authors of House Bill 195 in Louisiana). Cash carries germs. Cash is so, like, 20th century.

Comment: The social fabric of a society is only as strong as its local connections. Complementary local currencies is an interesting and effective idea for doing so.


Better Earth

(VIDEO) Russian President Vladimir Putin's 2015 public Q&A marathon with highlights

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© RIA Novosti / Michael Klimentyev
April 16, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) answers questions from the public during the annual Q&A session live on Russian television and radio.

Russia sees no enemies among other countries and advises no one to treat it as such. It wants to be America's equal partner and refuses to be Uncle Sam's vassal. And Putin took Schröder to a Russian banya and doesn't want to be cloned.

These are some of the highlights of President Putin's 13th annual Q&A marathon televised from Moscow on Thursday. The Russian leader spoke for about four hours, falling some 50 minutes short of his previous record. RT picked some memorable Putin quotes.

On anti-Russian sanctions
"Pressuring Russia with such measures is useless and senseless. I think our partners will soon realize this and will at least try to seek compromise instead of trying to fit us into the stereotypes they consider right."
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On passing the worst of the crisis
"Oil prices did grow a little, but [recovery of the Russian economy] is not directly linked to it, and experts see it. The ruble's appreciation is not linked to this rise, there are other factors. Experts see that we have passed the worst of the problems with paying our foreign debt, with our banking sector, with real sector businesses. We corrected the ruble's exchange rate and nothing burst, everything is working."

Comment: In his recent article anticipating President Putin's Q&A, Matthew Chance (writing for CNN) begins:

"In Russia's tightly-managed democracy, where being an opposition politician can seriously damage your health, chances to question the country's leader are rare."

This statement, of course, is an allusion to the murder of Boris Nemtsov that has become one more notch in the Western narrative of how evil Russia and its president are supposed to be - with no real facts or data needed to back it up. The rest of the article is pretty much par for that course, and predictably puts Putin's Q&A through an almost expertly subtle exercise of dissembling. But that's all that the West is capable of and all they know how to do at this point: no matter how many efforts, conferences, pledges, proofs, treaties, offers of good will, and shows of conscience Russia and it's President Vladamir Putin demonstrate - the projection of malevolence and malcontent will always be thrust upon them.


Wall Street

Another former IMF head Rodrigo Rato arrested

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As we reported earlier, the former chief of the IMF Rodrigo Rato, who was succeeded in 2007 by another scandalous figure, Dominique Strauss-Khan, was recently put under investigation by Spanish authorities for money-laundering, benefiting from a tax amnesty to repatriate previously undeclared offshore funds. This is in addition to at least one previous investigation into his role as chairman of Caja Madrid, the failed savings bank, and its successor Bankia.

And, unlike every single JPM banker pretty much ever, moments ago Rato became the second former IMF head in several years (following DSK), to be placed under arrest.

Comment: Too bad this doesn't happen while they are in office. Better late than never. This is only the tip of the iceberg though.


Eye 2

Voting for Hillary? You may want to recall the Clinton body count


If you or anyone you know is thinking about doing such a thing, you may want to read a little further and learn some more about the Clintons.

The Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign is now official, so America will be faced with the horrendous prospect next year of having to choose between continuing a Clinton Dynasty or a Bush Dynasty. If indeed Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush become the presidential candidates for their respective parties, and get elected for 2 terms, do you realize what that would mean? In that scenario, we would have had a Clinton or Bush in the White House from 1980 to 2024! That would be 44 straight years of a Clinton or Bush (remembering that George Bush Sr. was VP under Reagan and that Hillary worked, and still works, under Obama)! Could it be any more obvious that the US is not a Republic or democracy but rather an oligarchy of the rich and powerful? A bloodline aristocracy may be a better term, since all of the 44 US Presidents have been part of European royal bloodlines, despite having different last names.

Comment: Further reading:


Wall Street

Warren blasts Government for ignoring 'blatantly criminal activity' on Wall Street

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© AP/Susan Walsh, File
In remarks on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized the failure of both federal regulators and Justice Department officials to prosecute or otherwise hold to account Wall Street banks and financial institutions despite their long and steady pattern of "blatantly criminal activity."

Speaking at conference hosted by the Levy Economics Institute, Sen. Warren was firm in her denunciation of regulators - including those at the Security and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve - for not using the tools already available to them and for largely failing to meet their oversight obligations.

"The SEC needs to get its act together," Warren told the attendees. "In all sorts of ways and on all sorts of issues."

Comment: Warren keeps harping on this topic but is anyone listening?


USA

No matter who wins the White House, the new boss will be the same as the old boss

"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It's not good at much else."—Author Tom Clancy
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Here's Hillary...
The American people remain eager to be persuaded that a new president in the White House can solve the problems that plague us. Yet no matter who wins this next presidential election, you can rest assured that the new boss will be the same as the old boss, and we—the permanent underclass in America—will continue to be forced to march in lockstep with the police state in all matters, public and private.

Indeed, as I point out in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it really doesn't matter what you call them—the 1%, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that no matter which party occupies the White House in 2017, the unelected bureaucracy that actually calls the shots will continue to do so.

Consider the following a much-needed reality check, an antidote if you will, against an overdose of overhyped campaign announcements, lofty electoral promises and meaningless patriotic sentiments that land us right back in the same prison cell.

FACT: For the first time in history, Congress is dominated by a majority of millionaires who are, on average, fourteen times wealthier than the average American. According to a scientific study by Princeton researchers, the United States of America is not the democracy that it purports to be, but rather an oligarchy, in which "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy."

FACT: "Today, 17,000 local police forces are equipped with such military equipment as Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear and armored vehicles," reports Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. "Some have tanks."

FACT: Thanks to an overabundance of 4,500-plus federal crimes and 400,000-plus rules and regulations, it is estimated that the average American actually commits three felonies a day without knowing it. In fact, according to law professor John Baker, "There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration."

FACT: The number of violent crimes in the country is down substantially, the lowest rate in forty years, while the number of Americans being jailed for nonviolent crimes such as driving with a suspended license is skyrocketing.

FACT: Despite the fact that women only make up 8 percent of the prison population, they are more likely to be strip searched, though not more likely to carry contraband.

Rocket

Russia, China, Iran: Common understandings, mutually supportive actions

© RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev
S-300 - Russian-made defensive missile system
Over past decades, the pre-fabricated myth of an elusive "Iranian bomb" was never the real issue between the US and Iran; the issue was how to subdue - or "isolate" - a powerful, independent nation that refused to toe the exceptionalist line.

Now that the "rehabilitation" of Iran - at least for some exceptionalists and their minions - may be imminent, pending a nuclear deal to be clinched in June, various Washington factions still can't get their act together.

The Pentagon has all but admitted the perennial wet dream of neocons and corporate media remains on the table; the military option.

The US Congress will go no holds barred in trying to scotch the deal. The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed a bill that would give Congress the right to interfere with anything related to the removal of sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif faces an even more uphill battle as the "fact sheet" the Obama administration insisted it needed to release to make the case in Washington complicates how the nuclear deal may be received in Iran. To top it off, "fact sheet" or not, the case was not made in Washington after all.

And now the usual suspects - from the State Department to Congress and the Israel lobby - are predictably going bonkers on a demented "Putin selling missiles to the ayatollahs" narrative.

Comment: Iran has done well to keep dialogue going on both sides of the fence. When push comes to shove it has recognized its real friends.


Black Cat

See it coming? Obama betrays Iran on nuclear deal

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One thing for sure can be said about Obama. He's consistent. He says one thing. He does another - virtually always.

On the other, he surrendered to congressional anti-Iranian hardliners without a whimper of protest.

Lausanne is dead. Chances for concluding fair and equitable final terms with Iran by June 30 are virtually nil.

Business as usual triumphed. US neocons, Israel, its Lobby and other Iran-haters won.

Obama agreed to sign the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act of 2015 (INAA) when passed by both houses - likely by a veto-proof margin.

On Tuesday, it cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously. Republicans and most Democrats are in lockstep.

It gives Congress final say on any nuclear deal reached with Iran. It effectively undermines whatever may be consummated.

Comment: These developments are hardly surprising when one considers that the whole premise under which the talks were made are false, Congress is under the full sway of Israel and its AIPAC, and the real intent behind the talks was an attempt to bully and subjugate Iran. It also speaks to the incredible morass of lies and illusion that our leaders live under simply because of the belligerence they hold towards countries they don't "like".


Snakes in Suits

Yatsenyuk: Kiev to never again restore former trade relations with Russia

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© EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO
Ukraine will never restore the former level of trade relations with Russia, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on Thursday.

"Objectively, the trade relations that we had with Russia 10 years ago, will never be restored," the premier said at a meeting of the social and economic council for the prospects of Ukraine's development.

"We need new markets," he said, adding Ukraine should look for ways for entering European markets.

Comment: The ex-Prime Minister sees the problem yet Yatsenyuk does not. With this latest statement by Yatsenyuk, it is hard to imagine him as even being remotely sane.