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Vader

Western intelligence agencies exploiting progressive social causes to further imperial agenda

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© GCHQ/Public Affairs Office
Over the weekend, the British surveillance agency GCHQ — the most extremist and invasive in the West — bathed its futuristic headquarters with rainbow-colored lights "as a symbol of the intelligence agency's commitment to diversity" and to express solidarity with "International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia." GCHQ's public affairs office proudly distributed the above photograph to media outlets. Referring to Alan Turing, the closeted-and-oppressed gay World War II British code-breaker just memorialized by an Oscar-nominated feature film, Prime Minister David Cameron's office celebrated GCHQ's inspirational lights:


This is so very moving. Gay Brits are now just as free as everyone else to spy on people, covertly disseminate state propaganda, and destroy online privacy. Whatever your views on all this nasty surveillance business might be, how can you not feel good about GCHQ when it drapes itself in the colors of LGBT equality?

This is all a stark illustration of what has become a deeply cynical but highly effective tactic. Support for institutions of militarism and policies of imperialism is now manufactured by parading them under the emotionally manipulative banners of progressive social causes.

Comment: It's clear that the Powers That Be in the U.S. government have discovered just how easily it is to manipulate the bleeding hearts of liberals to their own benefit. Whether you are liberal or progressive, there is a program to guide you towards the way of thinking that the American Empire wants you to think.


Star of David

Blowing smoke: Netanyahu vows commitment to two-state solution

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© AP Photo/ Dan Balilty
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised his commitment to two-state solution of the crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations on Wednesday for the first time since his reelection.

Before the March election in Israel, Netanyahu had said he would oppose the creation of a Palestinian state if reelected.

"I want to reiterate my commitment to peace...My position hasn't changed. I don't support a one-state solution. I don't believe this is a solution at all. I support the vision of two states for two peoples - a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state," Netanyahu told EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, as quoted by the Haaretz newspaper.

Comment: Who can believe anything coming out of this man's mouth. He wants the impossible of having Palestinians recognize a Jewish state who stole their lands. Therefore there will not be a two-state solution.


Attention

Militarization is more than tanks and rifles: It's a cultural disease, acclimating the citizenry to life in a police state

"If we're training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier's mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not."— Arthur Rizer, former civilian police officer and member of the military.
© rightwingnews.com
Militarized police.
Talk about poor timing. Then again, perhaps it's brilliant timing.

Only now—after the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense have passed off billions of dollars worth of military equipment to local police forces, after police agencies have been trained in the fine art of war, after SWAT team raids have swelled in number to more than 80,000 a year, after it has become second nature for local police to look and act like soldiers, after communities have become acclimated to the presence of militarized police patrolling their streets, after Americans have been taught compliance at the end of a police gun or taser, after lower income neighborhoods have been transformed into war zones, after hundreds if not thousands of unarmed Americans have lost their lives at the hands of police who shoot first and ask questions later, after a whole generation of young Americans has learned to march in lockstep with the government's dictates—only now does President Obama lift a hand to limit the number of military weapons being passed along to local police departments.

Not all, mind you, just some.

Talk about too little, too late.

Months after the White House defended a federal program that distributed $18 billion worth of military equipment to local police, Obama has announced that he will ban the federal government from providing local police departments with tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and large-caliber firearms.

Obama also indicated that less heavy-duty equipment (armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear and specialized firearms and ammunition) will reportedly be subject to more regulations such as local government approval, and police being required to undergo more training and collect data on the equipment's use. Perhaps hoping to sweeten the deal, the Obama administration is also offering $163 million in taxpayer-funded grants to "incentivize police departments to adopt the report's recommendations."

Yoda

China to further strengthen alliance with Russia by boosting investments 150% in 5 years

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© Reuters / Sergei Ilnitsky / Pool
China may more than double its investment in the Russian economy to $10 billion within 5 years if conditions are favorable, said the Deputy Secretary-General of the China Overseas Development Association He Zhenwei.

"Chinese investments abroad currently amount to $140 billion, with about $4 billion investment into Russia. This can be doubled at least to $8 billion, although not within one year. We can increase the investment to $10 billion step by step within five years, especially in terms of investment projects as road and railway construction requires large amounts," the Chinese official told TASS on Tuesday.

Many Chinese enterprises are oriented to cooperate with Chile and Brazil because of the investment climate, although Russia's location is much better in terms of logistics, he added. There are no reasons for Chinese investors not to invest in Russia, especially due to the good interstate relations between Russia and China at the highest level, He Zhenwei was cited as saying by TASS.

Russia-China economic cooperation has been booming, mostly in energy and finance. Moscow and Beijing have signed an impressive number of energy, trade and finance deals earlier this month during Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Beijing will invest around $6 billion in the construction of Russia's first high-speed rail line between Moscow and Kazan which is to be extended to China. The railway will become part of the grand Silk Road project.

Bomb

What Minsk agreements? Massive shelling on Donetsk by Kiev forces

© REUTERS/ Alexei Chernyshev
With the coming of the evening, the situation in Donetsk sharply escalated. Information from the residents of Donetsk indicates that, as of 20:30, the Ukrainian Armed Forces ("UAF") was shelling the area of the Donetsk Airport from their positions in Peski (shells were landing in close proximity to the Railroad Depot).

As of 20:47, artillery salvos could be heard throughout Makeevka, in all districts. From the direction of Novobakhmutovka, UAF was conducting artillery shelling of the positions of the Militia (Novorossiya Armed Forces, or "NAF") around the settlement of Spartak and the district of the First Square.

Reports started coming in about a large number of Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles ("UAVs" or drones) in the air above the city and the activation of enemy Saboteur Reconnaissance Groups ("SRG") on the northern approaches to the city.

At 20:58 Ukrainian forces started the shelling of the area of the Putilovka mine. The Kievsky district has also been hit. Heavy howitzer artillery could be heard. Large shells were incoming with a frequency of 2-3 minutes.


Comment: Despite Poroshenko paying lip service to the Minsk agreements after Kerry's rejoinder in Sochi, it seems Kiev is hell-bent on continuing the destruction. In addition to the indiscriminate shelling of their own people, Ukrainian forces have also captured two Russian volunteers in the rebel militia. Predictably, guys like Klimkin triumphantly announced the capture of "Russian officers" (see? proof of Russian invasion!) and threatened to put them on open trial for 'war crimes'. In a bad imitation of the old KGB, Kiev's SBU released footage of the men reading what amount to their scripted 'confessions'. The Russian MOD is calling for their return. Maybe Kiev thinks capturing these two volunteers is good justification for resuming heavy shelling? If so, they're all kinds of stupid.


Megaphone

Russian CEO: Effect of sanctions on Russia is waning

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© RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov
Norilsk Nickel General Director and Board Chairman Vladimir Potanin
The effect of sanctions is waning and its high time investors returned to Russia, said Vladimir Potanin the CEO and a principal owner of Norilsk Nickel. He adds that Russia and the US had great potential for rapprochement.

"Nobody wants more sanctions. I think we reached a stable level in terms of tensions," Potanin told Bloomberg Television Monday.

Potanin said Russia and the US had great potential to be friends, but something "has been broken" since Russia showed support for the US after September 11.

It is hard to change the legacy of relations between Russia and the rest of the world, but relations could improve if the parties had a "challenge to overcome together," said Potanin adding that Russia wants to be friends, not pupils in the class.

Comment: The Western sanctions against Russia were impotent from the start. The U.S. simply does not understand how strong Russia is or how well they are able to survive on their own.


Stock Down

Fossil fuels subsidised by a 'shocking' $10m a minute, says IMF

Governments around the world will subsidise the cost of gas, coal and oil with a "shocking" $10million (£6million) a minute this year, a new study by economic experts has revealed.

The estimated figure, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described as "extremely robust", suggests that firms benefit from $5.3 trillion (£3.4 trillion) a year. That is more than the annual total worldwide governments spend on health care, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics.

Researchers defined energy subsidies as the difference between what consumers pay for energy and its "true costs", as firms do not pay the costs levied against governments by burning fossil fuels.

This sum factors in supply costs and the damage that energy consumption inflicts on people's health and the environment, two senior IMF officials wrote in a blog post, entitled "Act Local, Save Global", launching the study on Monday.

China will spend the most this year, and was responsible for over 40 per cent of the total amount as it relies heavily on coal, followed by the US at 13 per cent, while the EU will account for 6 per cent.

"These estimates are shocking," experts Benedict Clements and Vitor Gaspar wrote in the post.

"Energy subsidies are both large and widespread. They are pervasive across advanced and developing countries," the added.

Eye 2

Report finds American Psychological Association collaborated with U.S. government to bolster CIA torture program

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© John Moore/Getty Images
An American soldier patrolling outside Abu Ghraib prison in 2005. The public disclosure of images of prisoners being abused there prompted debate about the way the United States was treating detainees
The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association's role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group's actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program," the report's authors conclude.

The involvement of health professionals in the Bush-era interrogation program was significant because it enabled the Justice Department to argue in secret opinions that the program was legal and did not constitute torture, since the interrogations were being monitored by health professionals to make sure they were safe.

The interrogation program has since been shut down, and last year the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a detailed report that described the program as both ineffective and abusive.

Bulb

Russian Duma speaker urges EU to ignore U.S. propaganda, work with Russia on common interests

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© Reuters / Francois Lenoir
State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin has urged European politicians to stop listening to US propaganda and start working on common Eurasian economic interests with Russia.

Naryshkin expressed his views on the best possible course for European politics in an article entitled "Natural Allies", published on Monday in the Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

He wrote that the foundations of the European Union or "Big Europe" had been laid by people who remembered the lessons of the First and Second World Wars and these people still assert NATO's eastward expansion was a mistake. Europe is taking great risks if it remains in the political wake of a nation located thousands of miles from the European continent. The Ukrainian crisis is yet another confirmation of the fact that EU member countries must decide on their foreign policies without any foreign interference, he noted.

If this doesn't happen, Washington will eventually destroy the EU's economic sovereignty by skillful manipulation of WTO mechanisms, Naryshkin wrote. Large-scale, rigid deals the United States is pushing through, under the guise of liberalization of trade, are in reality bringing the European economy under US control, he noted.

Bizarro Earth

Rob Kirby on the big picture facing us

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Rob Kirby of Kirby Analytics
Gold expert Rob Kirby arranges deliveries of the yellow metal to his clients measured by the ton. Kirby says news that China may disclose it has 30,000 tons of gold will be devastating for the West. Kirby contends, "We could be fast approaching the moment when the tide is going to turn and go out, and we are going to find out who's wearing a bathing suit. I think that time is fast approaching, if it is not here already." Kirby also says, "I think the implied message is we are going to show you how much we have, and then you are going to have to show us how much you have. . . . America, very likely doesn't have, in my view, doesn't have the gold they claim to have. They also probably spent a lot of other people's gold in safe keeping."

What would happen to the U.S. dollar if China revealed a vast holding of physical gold? Kirby contends,
"If this would destabilize the dollar enough . . . it could cause a sudden drop in the U.S. dollar, which could signal a tsunami of dollars coming back to America and could set off a very, very ugly, ugly bout of inflation, which could build into a hyperinflation in America. This would bring social unrest in America. This is the social unrest the U.S. military and the Pentagon have been saying is inevitable and is coming to America. This is exactly the kind of backdrop you would expect to have before this would occur."

Comment: Kirby paints an excellent big picture around the inevitable collapse of the Western dollar-based financial system. In his words: "This sort of activity is not tolerated in Nature forever".