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Thu, 29 Jul 2021
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Putin

Putin is broke? Biden is the latest US leader to publicly expose the dangerous lack of genuine Russia expertise in Washington

Putin/biden
© Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
Russian President Vladimir Putin • US President Joe Biden
US presidents are a mass of contradictions. Donald Trump spoke of improving relations with Russia, but dragged them to new lows with sanctions. Joe Biden, by contrast, has overseen a thaw, while saying nasty things about Moscow.

Most recently, the Democratic Party politician has renewed the New START treaty and ended American efforts to sabotage the Russian- and German-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, efforts which were kicked off by his predecessor. But, as if to make up for it, he seems to feel a need to bring out fiery and fear-mongering rhetoric at every opportunity.

So it was that during a visit to the office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday, Biden talked up the threat posed by Russia, explaining its alleged aggressiveness as a product of its supposedly failing economy. Biden claimed that his counterpart, President Vladimir Putin,
"has a real problem. He is sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wealth and nothing else. Nothing else. Their economy is like the eighth ... largest in the world. He knows he's in real trouble - which makes him even more dangerous, in my opinion."

Comment: Not only does Biden not have accurate facts, he has no filter.


Arrow Up

Federal Reserve chair admits inflation could be 'more persistent' than expected

Jerome Powell
© Flickr
Fed Reserve Chair Jerome Powell
Contrary to President Biden's confident assertion that current inflation rates are "temporary," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell admitted on Wednesday that high inflation could be "more persistent" than expected.

While "inflation has increased notably," Powell initially tried to remain hopeful. He began by stating that inflation "will likely remain elevated in coming months before moderating," but he quickly called his own optimism into question.
"The process of reopening the economy is unprecedented, as was the shutdown at the onset of the pandemic. As the reopening continues, bottlenecks, hiring difficulties, and other constraints could continue to limit how quickly supply can adjust, raising the possibility that inflation could turn out to be higher and more persistent than we expect."

Comment: Why don't these 'experts' just say it like it is: 'There is unprecedented financial devastation ahead and the public is screwed.'


Bullseye

'Independent' Mexico has every right to send aid to Cuba in defiance of 'inhumane' US sanctions, president says

Obrador
© Reuters
President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has scoffed at the notion that Mexico should honor a US-imposed embargo on Cuba, as his country sends aid to the island in defiance of Washington's suffocating economic restrictions.

Defending his decision to fuel shipments and other humanitarian aid to Cuba, Obrador said on Tuesday that US sanctions on the socialist state were "inhumane," and that "independent" Mexico was well within its rights to defy the unilaterally imposed embargo.

Earlier this week, a Mexican cargo ship loaded with 100,000 barrels of diesel fuel set sail for Cuba. The Mexican government said the fuel would be used to provide power for Cuban hospitals. Two additional vessels loaded with medical supplies and food embarked in the following days. Mexico's Foreign Ministry described the shipments as humanitarian assistance aimed at helping Cuba overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington has tried to penalize ships that deliver goods to Cuba by preventing them from docking later at US ports, Obrador noted. The rule is one of the main ways the US enforces its embargo.

Comment: Humans treating humans as human. What a concept.


Footprints

Armenia asks Russia to deploy soldiers to frontier with Azerbaijan, as shootout kills three soldiers, sparking fear of new conflict

outpost/Pashinyan
© mil.am/Nikol Pashinyan/Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann
Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan • Military outpost
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has called on Moscow to deploy more peacekeepers to his country's border with Azerbaijan, as both nations accuse each other of violating an agreed ceasefire after a day of bloody fighting.

Speaking at a government meeting on Thursday, he said:
"Given the current situation, I think it makes sense to consider deploying strongholds of Russian border guards across the whole Armenian-Azerbaijani border to allow for the demarcation of the border, without the risk of firefights."
Officials in Yerevan announced that three soldiers had died and five had been wounded after a fatal skirmish along the frontier on Wednesday evening. Casualties were also reported on the Azerbaijani side of the border. Russian peacekeepers are already stationed in outposts near key towns and villages as part of the Moscow-backed deal, signed last year, that paused the fighting in a brief but violent war between the two nations.

Clipboard

France fines Monsanto for illegally running 'watch lists'

Spraypainting Paris Bayer
© AP/Francois Mori
French Attac activists spray-paint the Paris headquarters of Bayer AG to protest its production of environmentally harmful pesticides in Paris, March 14, 2019.
France's personal data protection agency on Wednesday fined US firm Monsanto for illegally compiling files of public figures, journalists and activists with the aim of swaying opinion towards support for its controversial pesticides.

The firm, now owned by German chemical giant Bayer, failed to inform the people on the watch lists compiled in the context of a heated public debate about glyphosate, a weed killer, it ruled. The CNIL agency fined Monsanto 400,000 euros ($473,000) in the case brought by seven plaintiffs. Compiling lists of contacts was not in itself illegal, the agency said, but only people who could "reasonably expect" to figure on such lists because of their business sector or their public standing should have been included.

Furthermore, data had to be collected legally and targets informed, including of their right to refuse being listed. By keeping the lists secret, Monsanto deprived them of this right, CNIL said.

Monsanto gave a rating of one to five to each of the over 200 people on its French lists corresponding to their estimated influence, credibility and level of support for Monsanto on several topics, especially pesticides and genetically-modified crops.

The case, first reported by French media Le Monde and France 2 television in 2019, quickly spread to other European countries where Monsanto was also keeping lists.

Comment: Today's war on health has many diabolical facets. Monsanto and its poisons are just one more long-running example that a human life is not worth consideration when Big Agra calls the shots.

See also:


Handcuffs

More COVID protesters from Russia's North Ossetia receive prison terms

Riot police

Riot police confront participants in the April 2020 rally protesting coronavirus measures in Vladikavkaz.
A Russian court in the southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don has handed lengthy prison terms to a second group of individuals from the North Caucasus region of North Ossetia for taking part in a massive rally in April 2020 to protest against coronavirus restrictions.

The Lenin district court on July 29 found Artur Dzhavadyan guilty of attacking a police officer and sentenced him to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Four other defendants, Arsen Brikhov, Khetag Samov, Georgy Khugayev, and Atsamaz Tebloyev, were convicted of taking part in mass disorder and sentenced to prison terms of between four years, nine months, and 5 1/2 years in prison.

Two days earlier, five other men who took part in the massive rally against coronavirus restrictions in North Ossetia were handed prison sentences of between five years and 5 1/2 years.

On April 20 last year, police in North Ossetia detained dozens of protesters when about 2,000 people gathered in the central square of the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, demanding the resignation of regional leader Vyacheslav Bitarov.

The rally lasted for several hours until police violently dispersed it. Thirty-seven participants were charged with taking part in mass disorder, assaulting law enforcement, or disobedience to police.

Court decisions are still expected to come on others involved in the protests.

Megaphone

Brussels must find way to engage with Russia despite no bloc-wide consensus over how to deal with Putin, says EU foreign minister

Josep Borrell
© Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell
With the diplomatic relationship between Moscow and Brussels at a historic low point, the European Union should look for new ways to engage with Russia, and the bloc should seriously consider how best to establish a new dialogue.

That's according to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, who told Spanish newspaper El Pais that there is a lot of disagreement within the Union over how to handle Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

"We had a mandate from the European Council to produce a report analyzing the current situation and the prospects of a relationship that is at its lowest point in many years," Borrell said.

Light Sabers

'Biggest destroyer of peace': China lashes out after US Navy warship sails through Taiwan Strait for SEVENTH time under Biden

USS Benfold
© Getty Images / Stocktrek Images
A US Navy guided missile destroyer has crossed the Taiwan Strait in the South China Sea, making it the seventh such trip by an American warship this year, and prompting China to accuse the US of trying provoke its military.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Benfold sailed northwards through the strait on Wednesday, the US Navy said in a statement. The maneuver was confirmed by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense on Thursday, with officials saying the military used joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tools to monitor movements at sea and in the air around Taiwan, according to local media reports.

Claiming that the navy destroyer's presence in the South China Sea does not contradict international laws, the report added it was the seventh such maneuver by American warships in the area since US President Joe Biden took office this year.

Brain

Biden blames 'Freudian slip' after saying 'President Trump' when he meant Obama

biden
© AFP via Getty Images
President Biden on Wednesday mistakenly uttered the name of his predecessor — "President Trump" — chalking it up to a "Freudian slip" even though he was talking about his longtime boss Barack Obama.

Biden meant to refer to Obama, under whom he served for eight years as vice president, when describing his role in auto-industry bailouts in 2009.

"In 2009, during the so-called Great Recession, the president asked me to be in charge of managing that piece — then-President Trump," Biden misstated during a speech near Allentown, Pa.

"Excuse me, Freudian slip, that was the last president. He caused — anyway, President Obama, when I was vice president. The American auto industry, remember, was on the rocks?"

Propaganda

Chinese billionaire pig farmer jailed for 18 years for 'illegal mining, illegal occupation of land, attacking state organs'

Dawu
© Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images
Sun Dawu, the founder of the Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group, was also fined 3.11m yuan (£345,000).
Sun Dawu, a Chinese billionaire pig farmer and agricultural mogul, has been sentenced after weeks of hearings in secret to 18 years in prison and fined 3.11m yuan (£345,000) for a catalogue of crimes including "provoking trouble", in a case observers believe was politically motivated.

The court in Gaobeidian, near Beijing, said Sun was guilty of crimes including "gathering a crowd to attack state organs", "obstructing government administration" and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a catch-all term often used against human rights figures and dissidents.


Comment: The Guardian's anti-China slant becomes blatantly clear throughout the article; their overseers in British intelligence would be pleased: The Guardian's collusion with Britain's Secret Service


Sun, an outspoken supporter and friend of Chinese political dissidents, was arrested on 11 November alongside more than 20 others including his wife, two sons and daughters-in-law.

Comment: RT provides more details of Sun's crimes which, were they to have occurred in any Western country, would almost certainly invite a harsh response from the state; unless of course the billionaire was 'connected' to people in government:
He was detained by authorities back in November, along with 19 relatives and business associates, after Dawu employees tried to stop a government-owned enterprise from demolishing a company building in August 2020. According to a social media post by Sun, more than 20 people were injured in a clash with the police.

Sun's legal team said prosecutors alleged that the Dawu Group acted deceptively toward its employees, interfering with the government's administrative duties, and causing political instability. The billionaire has faced a slew of other charges, including illegal mining and illegal occupation of farmland.

The billionaire's lawyers said that the secrecy of the trial "violated legal guidelines and did not protect the defendant's litigation rights."

The land dispute is not the first time the pig-farmer billionaire has butted heads with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

In the early 2000s he ran a website that included criticism of state-owned banks, which he accused of neglecting rural investment while funneling rural residents' savings toward urban projects.

In 2003, he was charged with 'illegal fundraising' after reportedly taking illegal deposits without approval from the People's Bank of China. Instead, he solicited investments for his business from friends and neighbors.

After abandoning his appeals for the case, the sentence was suspended and Sun received probation.

More recently, in 2019, he criticized the government's handling of the swine fever outbreak, publicly disputed the scale of the epidemic, saying it was far more severe than officials had said. He reported that about 15,000 pigs on his farms had died from the disease and posted photos of the dead animals online.
It's possible - even likely - that the Chinese government is deliberately down playing the African swine fever outbreak. But, as we can see from the RT article, Sun's has been jailed for illegal mining, illegal occupation of land, aggressively blocking state developers, and illegal financial activity; these crimes amount to much more than a simple 'dissident' or 'human rights activist' who 'published criticisms of the state', which was what The Guardian clearly wanted us to believe.

See also: China refuses diplomatic access to trial of Australian national citing national security concerns