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Quenelle

'Paris' throws temper tantrum after French lawmakers hold 'unauthorized' meetings with Assad, Hezbollah

© Reuters/SANA
French President Francois Hollande (Reuters/Vincent Kessler) and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
Four French lawmakers have been slammed by their government and one of them threatened with sanctions and suspension after an unauthorized meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus as well with a Hezbollah member.

The group of four cross-party lawmakers, identified as Gerard Bapt, Jean-Pierre Vial, Jacques Myard and Francois Zochetto, went to the Middle East on a ''personal mission to see what is going on, to hear, listen."

According to the Syrian state news agency, Assad and the French lawmakers discussed developments and challenges facing Arab and European nations, especially those pertaining to terrorism.

"We met Bashar al-Assad for a good hour. It went very well," Jacques Myard, an MP from the opposition UMP party, told AFP but refused to give details.

Comment: It's good to see some lawmakers actually going out to see for themselves if what they are being told is actually true. Naturally they will be condemned for doing so as everyone else who searches for the truth.

Snakes in Suits

Bill O'Reilly busted again: 'Phony' Fox News star 'lied' about JFK murder witness

© Still from Youtube video
Conservative TV host Bill O'Reilly has been caught repeatedly lying about being present at the suicide of a key JFK assassination investigation witness, a week after he was accused of exaggerating the dangers he faced reporting from the Falklands War.

"Bill O'Reilly's a phony, there's no other way to put it," Tracy Rowlett, who worked with O'Reilly at a local Dallas WFAA station during the alleged incident, told Media Matters, an online news website.

The suicide victim is George de Mohrenschildt, a picaresque Russian émigré, who was on friendly terms with both the family of Jackie Kennedy and the assassin of John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. He reportedly cooperated for decades with the CIA.

Comment: Hopefully more will come out on Bill O'Reilly's lying to force him off the air.

Clipboard

Defeat in Debaltsevo: Kiev's Stalingrad

ukraine graves
Junta's losses over the last month stagger the imagination.

DPR Ministry of Defense published data concerning the losses of Ukrainian occupation forces which they suffered during battles with Novorossia's defenders in the vicinity of Debaltsevo and on other sectors of the front between January 12 and February 20.

Occupier losses include 10,940 killed and wounded (including 4110 killed), and 1178 prisoners of war.

Equipment losses are also staggering. The invaders have lost the following quantities of equipment:

Comment: It was a humiliating defeat, that's for sure. Now Kiev is on the hunt to replenish their weapons supply. UAE to the rescue!



Boat

Cyprus and Russia renew military cooperation

© Twitter
Anastasiades and Putin.
Russian navy ships will keep having access to stop off at Cyprus' ports in Mediterranean as the two countries have agreed to prolong the pre-existing deal on military cooperation.

The agreement, which applies to Russian vessels involved in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts, was signed by President Vladimir Putin and his Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, in Moscow.

The signing came aimed heightened tensions and sanctions between Russia and the EU over the military conflict in Ukraine.

President Putin, however, stressed that the agreement, as well as Russia-Cypriot ''friendly ties aren't aimed against anyone."

"I don't think it should cause worries anywhere," he said.

During his press conference at Tass news agency's headquarters, Anastasiades stressed that Moscow and Nicosia haven't signed any new agreements, but only prolonged those that were in place before.

Comment: See also: While the West continues to bash Putin, Putin continues to behave like a gentleman.

Question

Why is there a Department of Homeland Security in the first place?

homeland security
© The Daily Beast
When it’s not making us take our shoes off, it’s trampling our civil liberties and ‘building’ centers that don’t exist. Enough already.
Are you nervous, America?

If nothing happens before Friday, the mighty Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—every bit as much a WTF legacy of George W. Bush as those surreal White House Christmas videos that featured Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson talking to Barney "the First Dog" like the Son of Sam killer—will lose its funding due to a budget fight between congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama.

And when DHS funding ends, then...well, nothing much, actually, it turns out.

Without funding, about 30,000 "non-essential" DHS employees will be told not to show up for work. The other 210,000 or so workers who are considered "essential" and "exempt" will still have to punch the clock, although most of them won't get paid until after the budget stalemate is ended. Not optimal, but not the worst outcome, either.

Comment: A shutdown of the DHS sounds like a good idea, but like all good ideas in the US government, it probably won't happen.

Oscar

'Jihadi John' radicalized by UK govt? So says UK charity

jihadi john

Jihadi John.
Following the identification of the British extremist formerly known as Jihadi John, thought responsible for the execution of a number of ISIS held hostages, a charity has blamed the UK government for his radicalization.

Jihadi John was revealed on Thursday by the Washington Post to be Mohammad Emwazi, a young British man from West London who was known to British security services.

The Home Office refused to confirm his identity due to operational risk, claiming lives were at stake if his identity was publicly known.


Comment: So which Home Office 'operations' were at risk? Inquiring minds want to know. Some already have an idea or two...


Emwazi is thought to have killed American journalist James Foley in a video released last August.
Sheeple

Year of the Sheep, Century of the Dragon?

© Lindsay Turner/flickr/cc
Seen from the Chinese capital as the Year of the Sheep starts, the malaise affecting the West seems like a mirage in a galaxy far, far away. On the other hand, the China that surrounds you looks all too solid and nothing like the embattled nation you hear about in the Western media, with its falling industrial figures, its real estate bubble, and its looming environmental disasters. Prophecies of doom notwithstanding, as the dogs of austerity and war bark madly in the distance, the Chinese caravan passes by in what President Xi Jinping calls "new normal" mode.

"Slower" economic activity still means a staggeringly impressive annual growth rate of 7% in what is now the globe's leading economy. Internally, an immensely complex economic restructuring is underway as consumption overtakes investment as the main driver of economic development. At 46.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP), the service economy has pulled ahead of manufacturing, which stands at 44%.

Geopolitically, Russia, India, and China have just sent a powerful message westward: they are busy fine-tuning a complex trilateral strategy for setting up a network of economic corridors the Chinese call "new silk roads" across Eurasia. Beijing is also organizing a maritime version of the same, modeled on the feats of Admiral Zheng He who, in the Ming dynasty, sailed the "western seas" seven times, commanding fleets of more than 200 vessels.
Bulb

Merkel reiterates that European security must include Russia

© AFP/Odd Andersen
Merkel announced at a press conference with Sweden's Prime Minister that European security should not be built against Russia.

Security in Europe must be built with Russia and not against it, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated on Wednesday during a meeting with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

"This is an important message to Russia. We want to build security in Europe with Russia and not against Russia. This is our condition," Merkel announced at a press conference with the Swedish Prime Minister.

Relations between Moscow and Washington severely deteriorated in 2014 amid accusations of Russian involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. The United States and its allies imposed several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions, targeting defense, energy and banking sectors of the economy. Russia has repeatedly denied those accusations.
Passport

'Jihadi John' identified as Mohammed Emwazi from West London

© A still from Youtube video
The British Islamic State militant who has featured in videos featuring the execution of Western hostages, known as 'Jihadi John', has been identified.

The man is Mohammed Emwazi, a young British man from West London who was known to British security services.

Security agencies did not disclose his name earlier due to operational reasons.

Emwazi is thought to have killed American journalist James Foley in a video released last August.

Comment: Now that they have a name for Jihadi John, he won't be returning to the UK anytime soon, at least not alive.

Bomb

The boiling frog: A reverse Cuban crisis brewing in the Ukraine?

Guided by an aggressive neocon "regime change" strategy, the United States has stumbled into a potential military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, a dangerous predicament that could become a Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse, as ex-U.S. diplomat William R. Polk explains.

In a rather ghastly Nineteenth Century experiment, a biologist by the name of Heinzmann found that if he placed a frog in boiling water, the frog immediately leapt out but that if he placed the frog in tepid water and then gradually heated it, the frog stayed put until he was scalded to death.

Are we like the frog? I see disturbing elements of that process today as we watch events unfold in the Ukraine confrontation. They profoundly frighten me and I believe they should frighten everyone. But they are so gradual that we do not see a specific moment in which we must jump or perish.

In October 1962, Americans were terrified over Soviet missiles in Cuba, as this newspaper map showing distances between Cuba and major North American cities demonstrates.

So here briefly, let me lay out the process of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and show how the process of that crisis compares with what we face today over the Ukraine.

Comment: The biggest obstacle to peace are the psychopaths in power, who will not be amenable to rational arguments and analysis. One of the hallmarks of psychopathy is the pursuit of aggression even to its own detriment and destruction. So let's hope this scenario doesn't play out in the coming future.

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