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Attention

US shocked at Beijing's unbelievable progress of airstrip in South China Sea

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© AP Photo/ Roley Dela Pena, Pool
New satellite imagery shows the extent of China's construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea. Fiery Cross Reef could soon serve as a military-grade runway in the middle of the ocean. And despite its own military presence in the region, US officials are in panic.

Dredging sand from the seafloor, the Chinese government has been steadily building artificial landmasses atop sunken reefs in the Spratly Islands archipelago. In part, the islands will be used to bolster emergency response in the region. But Beijing also says the islands will be used as military defense posts, which worries officials in Washington, already concerned about a growing Chinese influence.

Images obtained by IHS Jane's Defense Weekly from Airbus Defence and Space show just how rapid the island growth has been. With construction beginning only last year, Fiery Cross Reef is now home to China's first airstrip in the South China Sea. With 503 metered already paved, the runway could be as long as 3,000 meters once completed. That's long enough to support heavy military transport planes and fighter jets, according to Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Comment: Whenever China or Russia improve their defenses, Washington always looks at it as 'aggression'.


Question

Obama surprised Russian ban on missiles sale to Iran 'held this long'

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© AP Photo/ File
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree lifting the ban that was originally put in place following the 2010 UN Security Council embargo on arms deliveries to Iran.

"I am frankly surprised that it [the ban on S-300 air defense systems to Iran] held this long given that they were not prohibited by sanctions from selling these defensive weapons."

On Thursday, Putin said that there were no reasons for Russia to keep the embargo on providing Iran with S-300 air defense systems, underlining that it is a purely defensive weapon.

Comment: So if this was a surprise to Obama, then no problems for Congress to lift Iranian sanctions right?


Bad Guys

Al-Qaeda seizes key military camp in Yemen including tanks and artillery

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© Reuters / Stringer
Al-Qaeda militants have taken control of a strategic military camp in the city of Mukalla in southeastern Yemen, seizing tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons.

The takeover of the base has established Al-Qaeda's full control of Mukalla after they seized the city's airport on Thursday.

"Today Al-Qaida fighters took control of the 27th Mechanized Brigade's camp and seized heavy weapons including tanks and artillery," an unnamed Yemeni official told AFP.

Residents of Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province, said the army camp fell into the Islamists' hands "without resistance."

Comment: Will Saudi Arabia allow Al-Qaeda militants to seize more territory in Yemen?


Arrow Up

Putin makes it clear that Moscow will continue to stand up to America

© RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev
April 16, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin answers questions from the public during the annual Direct Line with Vladimir Putin special broadcast live on Russian television and radio.
Much commentary about Russia is hyperbolic and infused with emotive exaggeration. By contrast, Vladimir Putin's 13th annual Q&A was an extremely calm and assured affair.

So that's a baker's dozen for Putin: Thirteen years of a unique question and answer marathon which has no comparison that I know of in the rest of the world. Whatever your opinion of the Russian president, you have to admire both his stamina and his grasp of his brief.

While many Western leaders can barely issue a compete sentence without a teleprompter, Putin is able to wax lyrical for just shy of 4 hours on topics as diverse as milk prices and fleeing a burning banya with a former German Chancellor. One questioner even solicited relationship advice.

On the subject of dairy, I don't think anyone believes that the president pops down to Olga's product store on a regular basis to check grocery costs. However, his mastery of milk industry intricacies did reveal something - Putin isn't a bluffer and he forensically studies consumer data supplied to him. It is part of his populist style of governance and it also partially explains why he's managed to maintain overwhelming support for so long. Sections of the Western media will come up with a million reasons to explain Putin's high poll ratings - most of them nefarious - but few will concede that perhaps he's just good at his job?

Red Flag

'No Jab, No Pay' Australia policy ends payouts to citizens who refuse vaccines

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No Jab No Pay - Government calls the shots
In a stunning example of the disregard held toward the rights of individual Australians, the Australian government has not only passed measures to "tighten" guidelines on the ability to obtain religious exemptions to vaccinations but has also passed a "no jab no pay" policy ending government welfare payouts to those families who refuse to vaccinate.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently announced the new policy to eliminate the "conscientious objector" status for individuals who are morally, evidentially, or philosophically opposed to vaccination beginning in January, 2016.

Abbot and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said in a joint statement that
"The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments."

Comment: Additional examples on the 'frontal assault on individual liberty and the right to choose':


Bullseye

Monsanto is using Ukraine as a jumping off point to infect the rest of Europe with GMO crops

When the Washington Post chooses to pen an insulting, condescending editorial targeting entire nations speaking up against Western impropriety, one can just as well assume the precise opposite of whatever narrative the Post is trying to push forward is true.

Regarding American biotech companies and their attempts to infest the planet with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and in particular their attempts to corrupt the whole of Europe with their unwanted poison through a backdoor (Ukraine), has prompted Russia to speak up for their Eastern European neighbor. Up until the armed coup in 2013-2014, also known as the "Euromaidan," Ukraine had adamantly rejected GMOs.

With an obedient client regime now installed in Kiev, a series of political, economic and military decisions have been made that have more or less extinguished Ukraine as a sovereign nation state. Along with its extinguished sovereignty comes a complete lack of desire for self-preservation, and so, sowing one's fields with genetically tainted, unsafe, literal poison goes from being adamantly avoided, to being openly embraced.

Comment: See also: GMO agri-businesses invade Ukraine's bread basket


TV

South Front, Ukrainian Crisis News: Political assassinations in Ukraine, unprovoked attacks on Novorossiya

A large number of Kiev's gunmen were killed and about 300 wounded while attempting to break into areas near Donetsk airport and the village of Spartak. "Ukrainian Armed Forces launched an attack in two directions but were repelled," leader of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko told reporters. According to additional information, Kiev forces also lost 11 pieces of military equipment. DPR forces experienced an average number of casualties. Furthermore, Ukraine's military is increasing the number of troops and combat hardware along the disengagement line.

Ukraine's military is continuing to attack Donetsk with artillery fire. "Cannonade that is clearly heard virtually in each district of the city is nothing else than provocations on the part of the Ukrainian armed forces," the DPR Ministry of Defense stated last night. Heavy armaments are heard in some districts of the city, and small arms in others. The ministry said the DPR militia does not return fire.


Comment: Don't miss their Foreign Policy Diary on Yemen either:




Stock Down

Signs that the American elite are feverishly preparing for something BIG

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The American war machine is being turned inwards...
What in the world are the elite up to? In recent days, we have learned that the New York Fed is moving a lot of operations to Chicago because of concerns about what a "natural disaster" could do, the federal government is buying 62 million rounds of ammunition commonly used in AR-15 semi-automatic rifles for "training" purposes, and NORAD is moving back into Cheyenne Mountain because it is "EMP-hardened". In addition, government authorities have scheduled a whole host of unusual "training exercises" all over the nation. So are the elite doing all of this in order to prepare for something really BIG, or should we just chalk up all of this strange activity to rampant government paranoia?

First, let's talk about what the New York Fed has been doing. What kind of natural disaster would be bad enough to completely shut down the operations of the New York Federal Reserve Bank? It would have to be something very unusual, and apparently the New York Fed is very concerned that such an event could happen. According to Reuters, the New York Fed has been transferring personnel to Chicago and building up its satellite office there just in case a "natural disaster" makes it impossible for normal operations to continue in New York...

Comment: It's coming, and it could happen as soon as next month.


USA

Obama proclaims global trade rules should be written by US, not China

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© AP Photo/ Charles Dharapak
US President Barack Obama, in a special message to Congress, which addresses the issue of granting the White House authority to sign a trade agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, said that the laws of the global economy should be written by the United States, not countries like China.

Key congressional leaders agreed on Thursday on legislation to give President Barack Obama special authority to finish negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement — the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994.

The "fast-track" legislation comes as Obama seeks a sweeping trade agreement with eleven Pacific nations. It would renew presidential authority to present trade agreements that Congress can endorse or reject, but not amend.

Comment: Nope, can't have China interfering with US global dominance and 'exceptionalism'.


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