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Saudi Arabia's tyrant king misremembered as man of peace

Obama and Abdullah
© Gerald Herbert/AP
After nearly 20 years as de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah ibn-Abdulaziz al-Saud died last night at the age of 90. Abdullah, who took power after his predecessor King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995, ruled as absolute monarch of a country which protected American interests but also sowed strife and extremism throughout the Middle East and the world.

In a statement last night Senator John McCain eulogized Abdullah as "a vocal advocate for peace, speaking out against violence in the Middle East". John Kerry described the late monarch as "a brave partner in fighting violent extremism" and "a proponent of peace". Not to be outdone, Vice President Joe Biden released a statement mourning Abdullah and announced that he would be personally leading a presidential delegation to offer condolences on his passing.

It's not often that the unelected leader of a country which publicly flogs dissidents and beheads people for sorcery wins such glowing praise from American officials. Even more perplexing, perhaps, have been the fawning obituaries in the mainstream press which have faithfully echoed this characterization of Abdullah as a benign and well-intentioned man of peace.

Tiptoeing around his brutal dictatorship, The Washington Post characterized Abdullah as a "wily king" while The New York Times inexplicably referred to him as "a force of moderation", while also suggesting that evidence of his moderation included having had: "hundreds of militants arrested and some beheaded" (emphasis added).

While granting that Abdullah might be considered a relative moderate within the brazenly anachronistic House of Saud, the fact remains that he presided for two decades over a regime which engaged in wanton human rights abuses, instrumentalized religious chauvinism, and played a hugely counterrevolutionary role in regional politics.
Black Magic

Netanyahu invited to appeal for more carnage before U.S. Congress

© Unknown
Netanyahu: "What we need right now is a clear message to the people of this country. This message must be read in every newspaper, heard on every radio, seen on every television... I want *everyone* to *remember*, why they *need* us!"

Exclusive
: Conservative Pat Buchanan once got in trouble by calling Capitol Hill "Israeli occupied territory," but even he might not imagine what's happening now - with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu invited to address a joint session of Congress to decry President Obama's foreign policy, Robert Parry notes.

Showing who some in Congress believe is the real master of U.S. foreign policy, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session and offer a rebuttal to President Barack Obama's comments on world affairs in his State of the Union speech.

Boehner made clear that Netanyahu's third speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress - scheduled for Feb. 11 - was meant to counter Obama's assessments. "There is a serious threat in the world, and the President last night kind of papered over it," Boehner said on Wednesday. "And the fact is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran."

The scheduling of Netanyahu's speech caught the White House off-guard, since the Israeli prime minister had apparently not bothered to clear his trip with the administration. The Boehner-Netanyahu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President's authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.

In the past when Netanyahu has spoken to Congress, Republicans and Democrats have competed to show their devotion by quickly and frequently leaping to their feet to applaud almost every word out of the Israeli prime minister's mouth. By addressing a joint session for a third time, Netanyahu would become only the second foreign leader to do so, joining British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who never used the platform to demean the policies of a sitting U.S. president.

Comment: See also: Obama and Netanyahu face off over Iran as Bibi goes behind his back to meet U.S. senators

Eye 2

Leon Brittan: Thatcher minister accused of failure to act on child sex abuse dossier dies


MP Simon Danczuk was about to challenge Lord Brittan (centre) about what he knew about child sex abuse. Flanking Leon Brittan are Tory grandees Edward Heath and Willie Whitelaw
The Prime Minister has led tributes to Lord Brittan, the former Home Secretary, whose retirement after years of public service has been dogged by controversy over the alleged cover-up of child abuse on his watch.

The death of Lord Brittan, at the age of 75 from cancer, was greeted with sorrow by his family and the admiration of his political peers, but with disappointment from abuse victims' groups seeking answers about an alleged establishment paedophile ring.

As the youngest Home Secretary since Winston Churchill, Lord Brittan was a key member of Cabinet after the Conservative landslide of 1983 swept Margaret Thatcher back to power.

He was a central figure in the controversy over the policing of the miners' strike and the Libyan embassy siege that resulted in the fatal shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher. He was forced to resign from the cabinet over the Westland affair and spent a decade in Brussels as one of the UK's European commissioners.

"Leon Brittan was a dedicated and fiercely intelligent public servant," David Cameron said. "As a central figure in Margaret Thatcher's government, he helped her transform our country for the better by giving distinguished service as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

"He went on to play a leading role at the European Commission where he did so much to promote free trade in Europe and across the world. My thoughts are with Leon's family and friends at this sad time for them." Sir John Major said Lord Brittan had one of the most "acute and perceptive brains" in politics that he used unsparingly for the public good.

Comment: See: UK Establishment: Unmasking psychopathic faces - Pedophilia and murder in VERY high places

TV

South Front Ukraine crisis video updates: Jan 21 to Jan 23

south front
A lot has been happening in Novorossiya since Kiev launched its new offensive. The South Front channel on YouTube has done an excellent job distilling the daily events into short video updates. Here is what has been going on in the last few days.

Chess

Analyst says Saudi Arabia ruled by oligarch consensus therefore policies unlikely to change

King Abdullah
© Reuters / Kirsty Wigglesworth
Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah
Wahhabi extremism is a direct outcome of the foreign policy that the oligarch consensus in Saudi Arabia has pursued for decades, thus there won't be any substantive policy changes, geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser, told RT.

RT: What legacy is King Abdullah leaving behind?

Eric Draitser: There are a number of things we should consider. I think the most obvious is the five hundred pound gorilla in the room, the exporting of Wahhabi extremism, the continued export from Saudi Arabia of precisely the kind of extremism that has been fought in Syria that has been fought in Iraq and all throughout the region. This specter, this global threat of Wahhabi extremism emanating from Saudi Arabia a direct outgrowth of the foreign policy that Saudi Arabia has pursued going on for decades. And it's certainly not all at the feet of one individual, but rather I think it could be described more specifically as an oligarchy, a familiar oligarchy, but an oligarchy nonetheless. And I think that is probably the principle reason why the report there is correct in saying that there won't be substantive policy changes because those policies were not simply enacted by Abdullah; those are enacted by an oligarch consensus in Saudi Arabia.

Comment: Oil prices are now rising, so it will be interesting to see what transpires next:

The U.S./Saudi oil price manipulation smacks of desperation

Bomb

An old hand is at work in Yemen's bloody civil war

© EPA
Smoke and flames rising during heavy clashes between presidential guards and Shiite Houthi rebels in Sanaa.
An old hand is at work in Yemen's bloody civil war.
Yemen is not Syria. But America's skewed comprehension of the Middle East has now produced a remarkably similar scenario.

It's all about the Saudis. No matter how complex the new Yemeni civil war may appear - nor how powerful the Houthi rebels have become in the capital of Sanaa - it's the Zaidi sect of Shiism which the Houthis represent that frightens the Sunni Wahabi monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and not without reason.

For more than five years, there has been armed conflict between Saudi forces and the Houthis, who at one point captured a low mountain range inside the Saudi border. The Saudis blame the usual suspects: Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah. The Houthis blame the usual suspects: the Sunnis of Yemen and their Saudi supporters along - you guessed it - with the United States.

Comment: The Middle East sure is a complicated mess. And now the president of Yemen wants to step down:
The president of Yemen has resigned along with his prime minister in protest at the takeover of the capital Sanaa by Shia Houthi rebels, creating a dangerous political vacuum.


Stock Down

The folly of endless growth: Sooner or later, real physical and environmental limits apply

© Arthur Cofod / Pictures Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Central banks around the globe have taken us all into unchartered territory, where the possible paths boil down to a binary outcome: either it all works out or it doesn't.

Unfortunately, the 'it all works out' outcome has a very low probability of actually happening; so the binary outcome isn't equally weighted like a coin toss. By 'working out', here's what the central banks all striving (praying?) for:
  • Inflation of 2% to 3% per year
  • Economic growth of at least 6% per year (nominal) and a real (inflation adjusted) rate of 3% per year.
The reason that the central banks want all of this growth and inflation isn't because it's good for you, me, or anybody we know. Instead, the bankers need it because that's what our exponential money system requires.

Comment: This article really makes it clear where we are headed and it's not good.

Megaphone

Dead bodies in NATO uniforms and U.S. weapons found under debris of Donetsk airport

© Nikolay Muraviyov/TASS
Dead bodies in NATO uniforms and a great number of US-made weapons have been recovered from under the debris of the Donetsk airport, Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the defense ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said on Thursday.

"While examining the building of the Donetsk airport, we found a great number of American firearms, assault rifles and hand mortars, equipment and communications devices," he said. "We also found publications in European languages, including on religious matters."

Apart from that, "we found dead bodies in NATO uniforms under the debris in the new terminal. Personal belongings indicated that these people were foreign citizens contracted by private military companies who operated under the disguise of Ukrainian subversive groups," he said.

Comment: And yet, Russia invaded Ukraine according to our mainstream media?

Psychological operation: The myth of a "Russian invasion" and the truth about the war in Ukraine

Snakes in Suits

Watch them squirm: Clinton and Dershowitz listed on pedophile Epstein's flight logs

epstein clinton dershowitz
© Jim Cooke
Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the "Lolita Express" - the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein - with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for "massages," according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a "potential co-conspirator" in his crimes.

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 in Florida to one count of soliciting underage girls for sex (and one count of adult solicitation), for which he served just over a year in county jail. But sprawling local, state, and federal investigations into the eccentric investor's habit of paying teen girls for "massages" - sessions during which he would allegedly penetrate girls with sex toys, demand to be masturbated, and have intercourse - turned up a massive network of victims, including 35 female minors whom federal prosecutors believed he'd sexually abused. He has reportedly settled lawsuits from more than 30 "Jane Doe" victims since 2008; the youngest alleged victim was 12 years old at the time of her abuse.

Comment: Nick Bryant has been a tireless investigator and defender of the victims of sex trafficking and pedophile rings. His book, The Franklin Scandal, is a must-read. Needless to say, these men -- Dershowitz, Clinton, Prince Andrew, and others -- need to be investigated with all the capabilities the law provides. But if the past is any precedent -- witness the Franklin Scandal -- they will get away scot-free. See also:

Star of David

Mossad reportedly at odds with Netanyahu over imposing Congressional sanctions on Iran

© Reuters
Mossad director Tamir Pardo (L) confers with Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen

Comment: One thing that's about as telling as anything coming from this article is that Israeli intelligence and leaders are both openly discussing and influencing what the U.S., a supposed sovereign nation, should be doing in Iran vis a vis foreign policy. If that isn't clear evidence that Israel very much controls U.S. foreign policy, among other areas, what is? Why does the U.S. let itself be controlled by a foreign country, to do its bidding? See also:

Israel's political leadership is in disagreement with top members of its intelligence services over the benefit of more Congressional sanctions on Iran as negotiations over its disputed nuclear program continue, Bloomberg News is reporting on Thursday.

The rift is so severe that it compelled the Mossad to contradict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and directly warn US Congressional officials that more sanctions against the Islamic Republic at this juncture could effectively spell the end of negotiations, according to Bloomberg.

Israeli intelligence officials have apparently come around to the same view shared by both the Obama administration as well as American spy agencies who say that any attempts by lawmakers to pass tougher anti-Iran legislation could chase Tehran from the negotiating table.

Netanyahu has gone on record as enthusiastically supporting sanctions while placing little faith that talks with the Islamic Republic would yield an agreement that would meet Israel's security needs.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are expected to press ahead with a plan for more sanctions on Iran, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said last week, despite White House warnings that they risked derailing nuclear talks.

Lawmakers, who say they fear Obama administration negotiators may not take a hard enough line with Tehran, are also at work on a separate bill to have Congress approve any final agreement on Iran's nuclear program, Senator Bob Corker, the chairman, told Reuters in an interview.
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