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Wed, 29 Mar 2017
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Russia plans to enhance oil and gas industry cooperation with Iran

© Aleksey Nikolskyi / Sputnik
March 28, 2017. Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani.
Russia is planning to expand economic cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran in the oil and gas industry to ensure sustainable economic development, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after meeting his Iranian counterpart. Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, is in Moscow on an official visit. Russia sees "a great potential for enhanced oil and gas industry cooperation," Putin said at a joint news conference which followed the meeting of the two leaders. He added that "leading Russian companies have reached a number of important agreements concerning the development of major hydrocarbon deposits in Iran."

Putin and Rouhani also agreed to continue cooperation aimed at stabilizing the global energy market and ensuring sustainable economic development. The two sides "welcomed the agreements reached by OPEC members and other oil-producing countries, which contribute to the balancing of supply and demand at the [global] oil market within the acceptable price range," read the joint communiqué signed by the two presidents.

Comment: Iran has found a dozen new oil fields that could produce 30 billion barrels of crude and 128 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
See also:


Chess

US 'defensive' expansion brings Russia and China together


Nice pivot, Washington
Moscow and Beijing are accelerating military and security cooperation to counter U.S. "defensive" installations in their backyards

Russia and China are tired of Washington's "defensive" military installations in their backyards — and they're already taking action.

According to the Atlantic Council and other responsible thinkers, the Untied States reserves the right to park its missile shields anywhere it wants, whether it be in Europe, East Asia, or the dark side of the Moon. This is because placing missile shields all over the place is an important cornerstone of Washington's ingenious plot to encourage Beijing and Moscow to put aside their differences and form a long-term security and military partnership.

Take for example Washington's decision to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to South Korea.

Vader

The Battle of Mosul isn't just a war on ISIS, it is really the latest war on Iraq

© Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse
Destruction of Mosul
You cannot beat ISIS by becoming ISIS.

It is painful to watch Iraq die a million times before its penultimate death. Between 1990 and the present day, there have been more years when Iraq has been bombed by the US and its partners, than years during which the opposite was true.

No other country can say the same in respect of that 27 year time frame. When Iraq wasn't being bombed by the US, it was being sanctioned to death, while pirates plundered the profits from the inherently inhumane Oil For Food programme.

Seeing the recent images from Mosul, where more people have died in a day of bombing than during the entire Battle of Aleppo, including those killed in Aleppo by Al-Qaeda and other terrorists, one can only weep for Iraq. In spite of this, some Iraqis are challenging the clear evidence of war crimes. It is as though they refuse to believe that an Iraq which only a few years ago showed some small signs of resurgence, could stoop to this. But the reality exposes a gap between such wishful thinking and the facts on the ground.

This can be contrasted sharply with Syria.

Laptop

FOIA lawsuit filed against federal government after border searches of electronic devices grow five-fold in one year

© Mike Blake / Reuters
A report provided by DHS found searches of electronic devices carried out by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents grew five-fold in one year, from fewer than 5,000 searches in all of 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016.
Dramatic increase in border searches of electronic devices prompt FOIA lawsuit against Trump administration

A group of First Amendment attorneys has filed suit against the federal government after a surge in electronic device data searches at US border crossings.

On Monday, the the Knight First Amendment Institute (KFAI) at Columbia University filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seeking "statistical, policy, and assessment records regarding the government's searches" involving electronic devices.

Comment: Border crossings: Electronic media searches increase worry


Black Magic

Loony Congresswoman Waters plays race card in questioning patriotism of Trump supporters

Note to Donald Trump supporters: Maxine Waters is a bigger patriot than you are.

At least that's what she thinks.

During a screed on the House floor Monday night, Waters played the race card and the patriotism card against supporters of the president.

"Mr. Speaker, my position against this president and his administration is clear. I oppose this president. I do not honor this president. I do not respect this president," Waters said during a nearly 9-minute speech.

Comment: Apparently this latest rant is rather mild for the unhinged Ms. Waters.


Propaganda

The media army arrayed against truth

Why can't 21st century media just report news and separate opinion? Maybe straight news that allows readers, viewers, and listeners to discern the truth is just inefficient. Maybe the few who own all our information channels are trying to save the people from thinking too much? US President Donald Trump has made headlines for revealing so-called "Fake News" - but what's behind the new media madness? Here's a look at the lily pads floating in the swamp a US president claims he'll drain, and the oh so many croaking frogs drowned out truth.

Small Time Henchmen

This Guardian piece disgruntled Russian journalist and notable Putin hater Alexey Kovalev is a fine example of frog-croaking. Most readers of NEO would simply blow off "In Putin's Russia, the hollowed-out media mirrors the state" as just another fake news bit attacking Putin and Russia. But Kovalev, the former RIA Novosti editor (turned globalist freedom fighter) provides contrast for my story today. In the west the neo-liberal media lambasts Russia and independent media as "propaganda", when in reality it's the mainstream that is propagating the lies about Trump, Putin, Le Pen, Farage, or anybody in opposition to a system of control that is, quietly frankly, unbelievable. WikiLeaks revelations about massive CIA and intelligence community surveillance scarcely makes headlines in America, but Donald Trump slicing a wedge shot at one of his golf courses is a Russian conspiracy. It's all sensational, unbelievable, crazy, and scary. But the craziness gets even scarier once we see how it's all planned, rather than simply grass roots activism and idealism.

Light Saber

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responds to US decision to block advance of Syrian army


Lavrov says US should not exploit fight against terrorism in Syria
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on a U.S.-led operation that has blocked the Syrian Army's advance on Raqqa

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on Monday about the U.S.-led operation to block the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) from marching on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

Responding to a journalist's question about the development, Lavrov stated that Russia supports any international efforts to combat Islamic State, but warned the U.S. "to fight terror rather than gain geopolitical advantages in Syria":
[N]umerous uninvited players [are in Syria]: the US-led air force coalition, Turkish servicemen, and commandos from the United States and a number of European countries. All of this creates a rather motley picture, but we are confident (and have advocated this for a long time) that the main criterion should be our common concern in the fight against terrorism.

[...]

So far, coordination leaves much to be desired. We have reason to believe that our partners, including the Americans, are beginning to realise the need for remedying this situation. Let us hope that all of us will be driven by the well-understood priority to fight terror rather than gain geopolitical advantages in Syria.

Lavrov seems to be keeping his cards close to his chest, but it's clear that he's less than thrilled about Washington's posturing around Raqqa. It could be as simple as a "lack of coordination" — but let's be honest: There's very likely a lot more at play here. Any attempt by Washington to prevent Syrian forces from liberating their own country from Islamic State should be seen as extremely worrying.

Comment: See also: US forces block Syrian Army advance in preparation for Syria's 'balkanization'


Star of David

Israel Surprised! Trump administration demands limit to settlements

© The Times of Israel
Israeli outpost of Amona in the West Bank, January 31, 2017.
The Trump administration is pushing a hard bargain with Israel to limit its settlement activity because it knows that Palestinians and the Arab states won't support a peace process without that concession, analyst and former Israeli civil servant Dan Arbell told Radio Sputnik.

US President Donald Trump is keen to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians and the White House has been discussing the issue with the Israeli government in recent weeks. Last month, the US President broke with decades of US policy by saying that Washington will not insist on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but wants to achieve a solution that "both parties like."

At a press conference with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump called on Israel to reduce its settlement-building on Palestinian land."I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit," he told Netanyahu.

On Saturday, Israel's Channel 2 reported the details of negotiations between the Trump administration and the Israeli government delegation in Washington on the issue. The proposed deal would allow Netanyahu to fulfill his promise to build a new settlement for the residents of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, which was evacuated in January. In exchange, the Israeli government would restrain settlement construction elsewhere, Channel 2 reported. However, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the report was "incorrect," the Jerusalem Post reported.

Comment: Which is more important to Israel: Continuing settlements on Palestinian land, or Donald Trump, the peace process and 2-state solution? Consider how many solution-makers have fallen by the wayside and how often the 2-state proposal made it to second base. One state? (Israel has that now!)


Attention

Le Pen: 'EU will die', globalists will be defeated

© PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS
Marine Le Pen waves to supporters at the end of a political rally in Lille, France on Sunday.
The European Union will disappear, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen told a rally on Sunday, promising to shield France from globalisation as she sought to fire up her supporters in the final four weeks before voting gets underway.

Buoyed by the unexpected election of Donald Trump in the United States and by Britain's vote to leave the EU, the leader of the eurosceptic and anti-immigrant National Front (FN) party, told the rally in Lille that the French election would be the next step in what she called a global rebellion of the people.

"The European Union will die because the people do not want it anymore ... arrogant and hegemonic empires are destined to perish," Le Pen said to loud cheers and applause. "The time has come to defeat globalists," she said, accusing her main rivals, centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon, of "treason" for their pro-EU, pro-market policies.

Opinion polls forecast that Le Pen will do well in the April 23 first round of the presidential election only to lose the May 7 run-off to Macron. But the high number of undecided voters means the outcome remains unpredictable and motivating people to go to the polling stations will be key for the top candidates.

Its opposition to the EU and the euro currency underlines an anti-establishment stance that pleases the FN's grassroots supporters and attracts voters angry with globalisation. But it is also likely to be an obstacle to power in a country where a majority oppose a return to the franc.

Comment: See also:


Dollar

AG Sessions: Sanctuary Cities - Obey the law, or govt won't fund you

© Yuri Gripas / Reuters
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Moments ago Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a surprise appearance at Sean Spicer's daily White House press briefing to announce that his DOJ will be taking steps to not only require that so-called "sanctuary cities" enforce federal immigration laws but would also be seeking to claw back past DOJ awards granted to those cities if they refuse to certify compliance.
"Today, I'm urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws. Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for DOJ grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition for receiving those awards."

"This policy is entirely consistent with the DOJ's Office of Justice Programs guidance that was issued just last summer under the previous administration."

"This guidance requires jurisdictions to comply and certify compliance with Section 1373 in order to be eligible for OJP grants. It also made clear that failure to remedy violations could result in withholding grants, termination of grants and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants."

"The DOJ will also take all lawful steps to claw back any fines awarded to a jurisdiction that willfully violates Section 1373."
Sessions also called on states like Maryland and California to scrap their plans for becoming a sanctuary state.
"That would be such a mistake."

"I would plead with the people of Maryland to understand this makes the state of Maryland more at risk for violence and crime, that it's not good policy."
Sessions' full comments can be viewed below: