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Thu, 24 May 2018
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Books

Meet Timothy Snyder, Western intellectual and anti-Russian fanatic

putin trump montage
© Tim Robinson / The Nation
Timothy Snyder is a Yale historian whose scholarly reputation rests on his wide-ranging histories of Central and Eastern Europe. Trained at Oxford, Snyder demonstrated a capacity for research in some 10 languages and a willingness to engage with many different areas of specialization; his colorful prose increased his work's potential appeal for nonacademic readers, as did his ability to cover large swaths of territory and time. His most important early work, The Reconstruction of Nations, mapped the development of Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Belarusian nationhood from 1569 to 1999, and was met with wide acclaim from academic reviewers.

Capitalizing on his credentials as a historian, over the past decade Snyder has positioned himself as a public intellectual, shifting from academic histories to more popular works, writing for magazines like The New Republic and The New York Review of Books, and appearing often on the national and international speaking circuits. His first popular success was 2010's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, which set out to tell the story of the millions of people - especially Jews, Ukrainians, and Poles - who were killed between 1933 and 1945 in the area between central Poland and western Russia. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Bloodlands offered a conceptual revision, grouping the victims of Hitler and Stalin together and arguing that the Nazi and Soviet governments spurred each other on to increased violence.

Comment: What a deranged mind this critter has.

Masters of rhetoric with no (or a skewed) moral compass have been around since forever. Their flowery prose still holds sway over truth.

The scary part is that large portions of Western populations eat this stuff up.

The good news is that they're not the majority.

(We hope!)


Eye 1

On Silencing RT Forever

russia today censor
Loyalists of the western empire have been growing increasingly honest about their desire to use censorship and propaganda in order to win an "information war" against Russia.

The other day we saw a Guardian article arguing for the necessity of a coordinated campaign by western governments to "combat Russian disinformation" due to Russia's disinterest in "cooperating to reach a common understanding of the truth", i.e. agree with unproven western accusations and capitulate to the longstanding western agendas those accusations are meant to advance.

Before that, we saw a Defense One article authored by an Atlantic Council official arguing in favor of the creation of a "NATO for Infowar" to propagandize westerners against Russian interests for their own good. The author of this article went so far as to suggest that the Kremlin-backed television channel RT ought to be forbidden to air in western nations.

Caesar

Putin Sworn in as President For Fourth Time: "My Duty is to Guarantee Russia's Peaceful And Prosperous Future"

Putin inauguration
© Sputnik / Alexei Druzhinin
A ceremony to swear Russian President Vladimir Putin in for a new presidential term has been held in the Kremlin. Sputnik looks into the main highlights of Putin's speech during the event.

When taking oath, Vladimir Putin has revealed the key tasks for the government in the next six years.

Comment: Putin Shows Off His New Russian-Made Limousine For The Presidential Inauguration Ceremony


Russian Commander-in-Chief Reviews His Regiment On Cathedral Square To Mark His Inauguration





TV

Shill 'Morning Joe' guest praises AG Rosenstein: "You need a deep state"

Richard Haass
Well, the truth finally came out on "Morning Joe."

On Wednesday, frequent "Morning Joe" guest Richard Haass suggested that not only did America have a "deep state," but upstanding career bureaucrats like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was proof that the country needed one.

The surprising admission came after a lengthy montage the show ran of Republicans praising Rosenstein's service.

"It was great listening to that. That was a civics lesson and it's why you need a deep state," said Haass, who also serves as the longtime president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

"You need people whose commitment is not to the person, but is to the process and the law," he added. "You would want every high school kid in America to watch that. You know good for him. That's just what this country needs. And that's kind of who we are. That's our DNA. That was actually a really good moment."


Comment: Countries obviously do need deep states. Governments could not function without some continuity between administrations. But if anything, Rosenstein is an example of why deep states can be hindrances to actual democracy. Funny that Haass sees the deep state's worst features (and worst exemplars) as a positive reason for its existence. Or, actually, not so funny - just very revealing.


MIB

Trump circles reportedly hired Israeli spy company 'Black Cube' to dig up dirt on Iran deal negotiators

Israeli Black Cube
Someone tipped off the Observer, the Guardian's Sunday edition, about an attempt of Donald Trump flunkies to find dirt about the people who negotiated the nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran. An Israeli spy company was hired to set up traps. One of the victims describes how that happened. The modus operandi seems similar to one described in another dirty story which surfaced about a year ago. The company, not named by the Observer, in question is Black Cube.

The Observer: Revealed: Trump team hired spy firm for 'dirty ops' on Iran arms deal
Aides to Donald Trump, the US president, hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a "dirty ops" campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, the Observer can reveal.

People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to "get dirt" on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama's top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal.
...
Sources said that officials linked to Trump's team contacted investigators days after Trump visited Tel Aviv a year ago, his first foreign tour as US president.
...
According to incendiary documents seen by the Observer, investigators contracted by the private intelligence agency were told to dig into the personal lives and political careers of Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and Kahl, a national security adviser to the former vice-president Joe Biden. Among other things they were looking at personal relationships, any involvement with Iran-friendly lobbyists, and if they had benefited personally or politically from the peace deal.
...
Both Rhodes and Kahl said they had no idea of the campaign against them.

Quenelle

Judge mulls dismissal of Manafort charges as he slams Mueller for overreach

manafort
© Alex Wong/Getty Images
Like most motions to dismiss, Paul Manafort's was initially viewed as a long-shot bid to win the political operative his freedom and get out from under the thumb of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

But after today's hearing on a motion to dismiss filed by Manafort's lawyers, it's looking increasingly likely that Manafort could escape his charges - and be free of his ankle bracelets - because in a surprising rebuke of Mueller's "overreach", Eastern District of Virginia Judge T.S. Ellis, a Reagan appointee, said Mueller shouldn't have "unfettered power" to prosecute over charges that have nothing to do with collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Ellis said he's concerned Mueller is only pursuing charges against Manafort (and presumably other individuals) to pressure them into turning on Trump. The Judge added that the charges brought against Manafort didn't appear to stem from Mueller's collusion probe. Instead, they appeared to be the work of an older investigation into Manafort that was eventually dropped.

Comment: Further reading: Giuliani says Mueller's Russian collusion case is 'dead' - 'Sessions should step in and close it'


Camcorder

New bodycam footage of Vegas shooting shows officer stating 'windows not broken' in Paddock's room

mandalay bay
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is finally starting to release portions of the footage from the body cameras worn by the officers who responded to reports of a mass shooting on 1 October, and the footage that has been made public is showing that officers' accounts differ from the official narrative.

Suspect Stephen Paddock is alleged to have transported dozens of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition to his adjoining hotel rooms on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel where he broke the windows and used his perch to open fire on a nearby music festival.

In the body camera footage, LVMPD officers can be seen clearing the rooms on the floor, and waking up other hotel patrons who were in bed near where the massacre was said to have been launched and were apparently unaware that any gunfire had taken place. Following entry into their room, an officer informed the patrons in their beds that there was someone shooting inside the casino.

In fact, one of the patrons who sounded like a female seemed shocked a shooting was taking place. She said, "Oh, ok." The tone of her voice seemed to indicate that she had no idea a shooting was reportedly taking place just feet from their room. Also interesting was the officer's order for them to "lock the door." Who were these patrons and why were they not interviews by the press?


Comment: See also:


Fire

Hawaii State of Emergency: Small Tsunami Followed Strongest Quake Since 1975 - SIX Fissures Have Opened up, Forcing Evacuations

hawaii lava fissure
A large, 6.9-magnitude quake jolted Hawaii Island on Friday afternoon, just an hour after another sizable quake, amid an ongoing eruption of Kilauea that's triggered mandatory evacuations in Leilani Estates, sent lava spewing into streets and threatened homes.

Six fissures - each several hundred yard longs - have been confirmed in the Puna subdivision, officials say.

The extent of the damage isn't yet known, but officials did say at least two structures were significantly damaged and a number of roads have been covered in lava or severely cracked.

"Everything is still elevated," said Talmadge Magno, administrator of Hawaii County Civil Defense. "It kind of gets you nervous."

The 6.9-magnitude quake, which happened about 12:30 p.m., was the largest in Hawaii since 1975 and generated small tsunami waves around the Big Island. Hawaii County Civil Defense said sea fluctuations ranged from 8 inches in Hilo to 16 inches at Kapoho.


Ambulance

America's post-9/11 wars in Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen: How many have been killed?

tripoli nato airstrike smoke
© REX
Smoke is seen after an NATO airstrikes hit Tripoli, Libya
In the first two parts of this report, I have estimated that about 2.4 million people have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, while about 1.2 million have been killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. In the third and final part of this report, I will estimate how many people have been killed as a result of U.S. military and CIA interventions in Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

Of the countries that the U.S. has attacked and destabilized since 2001, only Iraq has been the subject of comprehensive "active" mortality studies that can reveal otherwise unreported deaths. An "active" mortality study is one that "actively" surveys households to find deaths that have not previously been reported by news reports or other published sources.

These studies are often carried out by people who work in the field of public health, like Les Roberts at Columbia University, Gilbert Burnham at Johns Hopkins and Riyadh Lafta at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, who co-authored the 2006 Lancet study of Iraq war mortality. In defending their studies in Iraq and their results, they emphasized that their Iraqi survey teams were independent of the occupation government and that that was an important factor in the objectivity of their studies and the willingness of people in Iraq to talk honestly with them.

Comprehensive mortality studies in other war-torn countries (like Angola, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Iraq, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda) have revealed total numbers of deaths that are 5 to 20 times those previously revealed by "passive" reporting based on news reports, hospital records and/or human rights investigations.

In the absence of such comprehensive studies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, I have evaluated passive reports of war deaths and tried to assess what proportion of actual deaths these passive reports are likely to have counted by the methods they have used, based on ratios of actual deaths to passively reported deaths found in other war-zones.

Beaker

Czech president admits Republic tested Novichok, confirming Russian claims and further weakening UK accusations against Russia

Presidente checo, Milos Zeman
© David W Cerny - Reuters
The Czech Republic has apparently produced and tested a nerve agent of the so-called Novichok family, the country's president Milos Zeman told state media. His statement follows an inquiry conducted by the Czech security services.

"One has to conclude that our country produced and tested Novichok, even though [it was produced] only in small quantities and then destroyed," the Czech leader told the Barrandov TV Channel. "It would be hypocritical to pretend it is not so," he said, adding that "there is no need to lie."

The president said that he based his conclusions on a report provided by Czech military intelligence. The report showed that a nerve agent known as A230, which was produced by the Czech Military Research Institute located in the city of Brno, was, in fact, Novichok.

Another report, which was provided by the Czech Security Service (BIS) said, however, that the nerve agent produced and tested in Brno was not Novichok but some other substance. After studying both papers, Zeman still decided to agree with the opinion of the military intelligence, Czech media report.


Comment: Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov pointed out the obvious on Twitter:
"Novichok was produced and stored in the Czech territory in some small quantities. This fact is a crushing blow to London's theory that is already falling apart at the seams," Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov said in a Twitter post, commenting on the recent revelations made by the Czech President Milos Zeman. "London is confused: Its whole construct is crumbling," the Russian politician added.
But the British media are silent. D-notice, perhaps??