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Mon, 27 Mar 2017
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Paul Craig Roberts: The day earth was murdered

"Change you can believe in" disappeared in the early days of the Obama regime as the same Washington insiders filled the new government's ranks. David Brooks sung the praises of those who made change impossible: "the best of the Washington insiders, Achievetrons who got double 800s on their SATs."

Eight years later Donald Trump was specific about the changes he intended, the two most important being normalized relations with Russia and the return home of the middle class jobs and associated state and local tax base that US corporations had moved offshore to foreign locations. But Trump's government quickly became home to corporate polluters, Wall Street executives, defense contractors, and Russophobic generals.

Obama's disappointed supporters held firm to their conviction that their man would set the agenda and not the Washington insiders who occupied his government. Trump's disheartened deplorables are currently finding refuge in this same conviction. But it looks like we will not get the good part from Trump, only the bad part of more pollution and more damage to the social safety net.

Eye 1

UK Met and Indian police accused of hacking emails of political activists and journalists

The U.K. Metropolitan police are accused of collaborating with Indian police and hackers to illegally access the emails of hundreds of activists and journalists.

A secret unit of the Metropolitan police has been partnering with hackers to monitor the emails of hundreds of political activists and journalists, according to a whistleblower familiar with the unit. The individual claims that the secret unit worked with Indian police and hackers to steal the passwords for the emails of activists, reporters, and photographers. The Guardian reports:
The person, who says he or she previously worked for the intelligence unit that monitors the activities of political campaigners, detailed their concerns in a letter to the Green party peer Jenny Jones. The peer passed on the allegations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating.

Hacked passwords were passed to the Metropolitan police unit, according to the writer of the letter, which then regularly checked the emails of the campaigners and the media to gather information. The letter to Jones listed the passwords of environmental campaigners, four of whom were from Greenpeace. Several confirmed they matched the ones they had used to open their emails.

Pistol

Bumbling NATO instructors on the brink of getting laughed out of Ukraine

© Agency France Presse/Yury Dyachyshyn
NATO instructors training Ukrainian troops in the art of war have been accused of incompetence. Recently, Ukraine's Defense Ministry decided to show off fresh photos of NATO troops training their Ukrainian counterparts for battle. However, eagle-eyed observers pointed out that all they ended up showing off was the NATO trainers' ineptitude.

Last week, Ukraine's Defense Ministry published photos from the latest training exercises in Lviv region, where Ukrainian servicemen are being trained up to NATO standards by instructors from the United States, Canada, Poland and Lithuania.

Comment:
NATO instructors preparing Ukrainian Army for combat


Coffee

Simple question: Were the hackers who broke into the DNC's email really Russian?

© Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser and friend to President Donald Trump, speaks before signing copies of his book ‘The Making of the President 2016’ at the Boca Raton Marriott on March 21, 2017
The question of whether political operative Roger Stone helped Russian hackers break into the email of Democratic politicians, to some people, invites another: Who says the hackers were Russian?

The FBI does, and so do several U.S. intelligence agencies, as they've declared repeatedly over the past five months. But among private-sector computer security companies, not everybody thinks the case is proven.

"I have no problem blaming Russia for what they do, which is a lot," said Jeffrey Carr of the international cybersecurity company Taia Global Inc. "I just don't want to blame them for things we don't know that they did. It may turn out that they're guilty, but we are very short on evidence here."

Beaker

Russia destroys last remaining supplies of deadly chemical weapon Soman

© Sputnik/ Pavel Lisitsyn
Russia has destroyed the last of its supplies of the deadly chemical weapon soman, the Federal Administration for the Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons announced on Saturday.

"On March 25 2017 at the Kizner facility for the storage and destruction of chemical weapons in the Udmurt Republic, in accordance with the schedule for the destruction of chemical weapons in the Russian Federation, the last drop of the poisonous substance soman was destroyed," the administration's head Colonel-General Valery Kapashin stated.

"As of today, Russia's supplies of the poisonous skin irritant mustard gas and the organophosphate soman have been completely destroyed."

Attention

Why Trump was lucky the Obamacare repeal bill failed


By pulling a complex repeal bill from Congress the President has avoided a protracted battle on a complex and unpopular issue.


The withdrawal of the Obamacare repeal bill from the House of Representatives has highlighted divisions within the Republican Party. It is clear that whilst all Republicans claim to oppose Obamacare, they are far from united on an alternative, and as of the time of writing it is far from certain they will ever agree on one.

I wholly lack the knowledge to say whether the alternative to Obamacare proposed by the Trump administration was better or worse than the current system it was intended to replace. Given the hurry with which it was cobbled together I suspect it was worse.

I would also say that it is baffling to me, as I suspect it is to most Europeans, that the US seems incapable of coming up with a coherent and cost-effective health care system when this is something which has been done successfully in all the other developed countries.

However if the story of US health care reform is one of a seemingly never-ending disaster, I doubt the decision to pull the bill from the House of Representatives before the vote will do the President much political or electoral harm.

Megaphone

Lavrov gives landmark speech: New centers of economic power will end US 'global domination'


Russia's Foreign Minister paves the way for a consensus-driven world order in a landmark speech in Moscow


This is perhaps one of Sergei Lavrov's finest addresses. It needs to be read in its entirety to fully appreciate the scale and depth of Lavrov's observations — although we've provided a very short excerpt for those with short attention spans.

Lavrov's driving thesis is that the U.S.-led global order has abandoned the concepts of state sovereignty and international law, choosing political expediency over consensus.

Crusader

Telling it like it is: Putin slams governments for imperialism, pedophilia, and "faith in Satan"

In a rarely seen speech, Putin states that there is a moral crisis occurring in the west and it is one that is purposely created by governments.

In short, the moral foundations of objective right and wrong often linked to Christendom have eroded.

In their place the imperial oligarchs have erected a system that reverses what is good and replaces it with propaganda that leads to cultural decay and erasure of identity, according to Putin.

Comment:


Bulb

Iran Imposes Sanctions Against 15 US Companies That Support Terrorism

Iran has imposed sanctions against 15 US companies for "supporting terrorism" in response to new US sanctions against Tehran, according to local media.

Jet5

Syria fully reopens Kuweires air base and prepares to use it against ISIS

Full reopening of Kuweires air base in northern Aleppo province possible sign of Syrian army offensive against ISIS's capital Raqqa.

The Syrian military has fully re-opened the Kuweires air base 30 km east of Aleppo, making it possible for a Russian built IL-76 transport aircraft to land and take off from the base.

In a war where no lack of courage has been shown by the combatants on either side, the successful defense of Kuweiris air base by the Syrian military stands out as an especially heroic episode in the bitter Syrian war.