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Sat, 16 Feb 2019
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No joke! Ukraine's presidential choice: an oligarch, a gas princess or a comedian

ukraine candidates
© REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko; Wikipedia
For some time, it was assumed that Yulia Tymoshenko would challenge Petro Poroshenko for the Ukrainian presidency in next month's election. However, out of nowhere, Vladimir Zelensky has now emerged as the frontrunner.

For Ukrainians able to vote in next month's presidential election, the choice is now pretty clear. There are three options: the incumbent oligarch anti-Russia hardliner, the femme fatale of Kiev's political scene, or a comedian best known for playing a fictional president in a popular TV drama.

While his candidacy originally inspired much bemusement, nobody's laughing now at Zelensky. Because the entertainer has surged into a nine-point polling lead with just six weeks left before the big day.

Right now, here's the state of play: Zelensky 26.9 percent, Poroshenko 17.7 percent, and Yulia Tymoshenko 15.8 percent.

Asked why they favor the newcomer, 54 percent of his backers cite his status as a fresh face, who's up against a number of figures who've been on the political scene for donkey's years.

Attention

Trump declares a national emergency for border crisis

Trump
© Reuters/Jim Young
President Trump declares a national emergency on border security.
President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency, allowing him to build his long-promised border wall without congressional approval. Trump is also expected to sign a bill granting limited funding towards the wall.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House before the signing on Friday, Trump said he will declare a national emergency, a move that will allow him to corral funding from other parts of the government to fund the US-Mexico border wall.

"We're declaring it for virtual invasion purposes," Trump told reporters. "Drugs, traffickers and gangs."

The president is also expected to sign a spending bill that will avert a second government shutdown, but will only provide $1.3 billion towards building the wall, a fraction of the $5.6 billion requested by Trump late last year.


Comment: More from RT, 2/15/2019:
Pelosi suggested that Democrats could enact stricter gun control laws, sidestepping conservative lawmakers who would be certain to mount a fierce opposition.

"Let's talk about today: The one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That's a national emergency. Why don't you declare that emergency, Mr President? I wish you would," Pelosi said on Thursday, adding that "a Democratic president can do that." Pelosi then toned down her rhetoric a bit, noting that she does not "advocate for any president doing end-run around Congress," and said that she was merely warning Republicans "about the door that they are opening, the threshold they are crossing."

However, Pelosi's idea won support from 2020 Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted that unlike "Trump's ridiculous wall," gun violence, climate change and opioid epidemics were real emergencies.


Democratic presidential contenders Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren didn't mince their words either, with Harris calling it "a ridiculous vanity project."




Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that it strikes her as "undermining the appropriation process, the will of Congress and of being of dubious constitutionality." Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said that while he believes there is a crisis at the US' southern border, the declaration may pave the way for a future president to "use the exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal."
See also:


Bullseye

Trump: McCabe a "disgrace to the FBI & country" after Russia probe admission

Andrew McCabe
© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe
In his first interview about the Russia probe since he was summarily fired by President Trump just 26 hours before he was set to retire and collect his pension, and while the possibility of criminal charges over his attempts to cover up his leaks to the press, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe sat for an interview with CBS about the early days of the Russia probe.

In an excerpt of the full interview, which is set to air on Sunday, McCabe described how he quickly moved to start the Russia probe a day after meeting with Trump in May 2017 in the days after James Comey's firing, over fears that he would soon be fired. After authorizing the investigation into Trump's Russia ties, McCabe sought to ensure that the investigation - which was eventually rolled into the probe eventually taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller - would be on "solid ground" even if he was booted from the FBI.

Comment: The consensus seems to be that McCabe may have made a serious tactical blunder. More comment from the Twitteratti:
Well, there goes Thursday . . .

So, a "coup"?


McCabe also said Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein offered to wear a wire multiple times while meeting with President Trump:


No wonder he doesn't want to testify in front of Congress:


Deep State status? CONFIRMED:


We'll note that it's also pretty dumb of McCabe to think this was viable:


From the WSJ on why it wouldn't work:




Exit question: Is this real or is McCabe just trying to sell books?



Chess

Did this Russian cause Brexit, too? Deep State mouthpiece Bellingcat names '3rd GRU officer' in Skripal poisoning saga

brexit
© Global Look Press / Alberto Pezzali
Bellingcat claims that a high-ranking Russian military intel officer named Denis Sergeev was in the UK under the alias of Sergey Fedotov at the time of the poisoning drama in Salisbury - and, "notably," on eve of the Brexit vote.

The UK-based organization that touts itself as a citizen-journalism outfit published a report on Thursday, saying that Sergeev is the real name of the man who it previously connected to the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and another poisoning case in Bulgaria.

The report is part of a series in which Bellingcat offers "open source" or leaked data to connect the Salisbury affair with the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency.

The fresh report fails to explain the chain of reasoning that led Bellingcat to believe that Fedotov and Sergeev are the same person, focusing instead on the background of Sergeev and the travel history of Fedotov. However, it promises to publish the evidence later, saying it was obtained despite the Russian government allegedly trying to erase Sergeev's public record.

Hiliter

Trump will sign spending bill, declare national emergency and 'other executive action' to build the wall

Trump border
© Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump will sign spending legislation to prevent a government shutdown while declaring a national emergency to try to build his proposed border wall, the White House confirmed Thursday.

"President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action - including a national emergency - to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. It came before both chambers of Congress easily passed a measure to keep the government open past a midnight Friday deadline.

"The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country," she added, as Trump prepared to approve legislation allocating about a quarter of the money he sought for barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

If Trump follows through, lawmakers and the White House would dodge their second partial shutdown since December, sparing about 800,000 federal workers from more financial pain. But the emergency declaration could quickly spark lawsuits challenging the president's authority, creating yet another fight over his key campaign promise.

Trump will sign border deal and issue national emergency, McConnell says from CNBC.

Comment: More from RT, 2/14/2019
Both houses of the US Congress have passed a spending and border security bill, dodging a new government shutdown. ... The bill now moves to the White House. While Trump is expected to sign it, the president has made it clear he will declare a national emergency to get the funding for his wall. The bill provides just $1.375 for fencing at the US-Mexico border, a far cry from the $5.7 billion Trump requested.

The spending bill, which funds several government agencies to the tune of over $300 billion, passed the Senate with a vote of 83-16 and the House with a vote of 300-128 on Thursday. It also provides over $22 billion for "border security initiatives," including upgraded technology at ports of entry, assistance for illegal immigrants apprehended crossing the border, and more border patrol hires. It will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year and provide a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal workers, as well as a $1 billion increase in funding for the Census Bureau.

Both parties have framed the bill as a victory. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his approval of Trump's decision to use a national emergency to requisition more money for his wall, and Republicans pointed to the addition of more steel slat border fencing as a win.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the bill a "fair compromise," noting they had gotten away without funding "the president's expansive and ineffective wall."



Megaphone

There are no independent countries in the world - Putin

us flag
© Getty Images / Justin Sullivan
Europe can't oppose the US deployment of missiles, even if it is contrary to their interests, because no country can be truly independent these days, Vladimir Putin believes.

The Russian president thinks "the modern world is the world of interdependency" and there are no truly independent countries these days.

"Do you think European countries want missiles in Europe? Nobody wants it. But they keep silent. Where is their sovereignty?" Putin asked during his visit in Sochi.

Comment: That's globalization, and our situation can be used as a force of good or ill:


Cheeseburger

US-led Anti-Iran Circus in Warsaw Unravels as Farce

duda bibi

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to Polish president Andrzej Duda: "So you're gonna own the Holocaust, right?"
A conference in Warsaw this week was billed as reinstating the US' lead role in diplomacy for the Mideast. The absence of Russia and other European leaders only served to expose the ill-conceived summit and Washington's isolation.

When the forum was initially planned last year by the Trump administration, the purpose was to bring Washington back in from the diplomatic cold which it had opted for by abandoning the international nuclear accord with Iran.

Trump's tearing up of the Iran deal in May 2018 had isolated the US from other signatories: Russia, China and the Europeans. By holding a high-level conference on Iran, the idea was to burnish Washington's diplomatic standing in the Middle East.

The trouble was that from the outset most would-be participants saw the real agenda of the meeting as an attempt by Washington to drum up international support for further antagonizing Iran with economic sanctions.


Comment: Or, if you're Netanyahu, declaring "a common interest of war with Iran."

Where does that - to quote a former French foreign minister "shitty little country" get off??


Comment: Meanwhile, US Vice Pence - that beady-eyed quisling - took the opportunity to don a kippah and warn Europeans that Iranians are literally Hitler.

The best part of the conference came when Netanyahu's plane was about to take off:

Israeli PM Netanyahu's plane gets damaged before take-off in Warsaw

Perhaps a local worker didn't take too kindly to Netanyahu lecturing Poland - in Warsaw! - about its supposed perfidy in the Holocaust.

The hosts meanwhile used the occasion to bash Germany's idea of a pan-European army (i.e., something to replace US-controlled NATO). While that may or may not be a good idea, the obsequiousness of Poland to the Anglo-Zionist-American order is stomach-churning.

As Putin said of the circus in Warsaw, specifically regarding the vassals' acquiescence to US unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty, and thus the likely return of American missile silos in European countries, "Where is their sovereignty?"

One can only hope that US irrelevance and bluster will become more obvious with each new pantomime, and that countries will continue to 'grow a pair' by becoming sovereign and thus free of the malignant meddling of despotic regimes like the US, UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

See also:


Propaganda

Regime Change Template: The ocean of lies on Venezuela recalls the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq

Bush Blair

Minutes after the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred authority to Iraq's interim government, President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair shake hands during a work session at the NATO Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, June 28, 2004.
There are clear and disturbing parallels between the events that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the current frenzy promoting regime change in Venezuela. From the state actors to the massive disinformation campaign, Washington and its "coalition of the willing" appear to be following the same old imperialist formula.

The Canary spoke to activist journalists Mike Prysner and Fiona Edwards about the parallels between the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq and current events in Venezuela. Prysner was 19 years old when he was deployed to Iraq in March 2003. He is now an anti-war activist, producer and writer for The Empire Files, and co-host of the Eyes Left podcast. Edwards, meanwhile, is a national officer of Stop the War coalition (a central organising force against the Iraq invasion) and a writer on Latin America.

Comment: See also:


Propaganda

US re-brands mosques as ISIS bases to avoid criticism over Syrian casualties, analyst says

Damaged mosque in Al-Jina
© REUTERS / Ammar Abdullah
A mosque in al-Jina damaged by a US airstrike in March 2017.
For several months now, the US-led coalition in Syria has been deliberately targeting mosques - religious objects that have protected status under international law. The trick is to say that they are no longer actually 'mosques'.

There are rules on what types of targets the US military is not allowed to bomb to avoid direct civilian deaths and long-term harm from damage to civilian infrastructure. Mosques, of course, are on the list, along with schools, hospitals, embassies, and refugee camps.

Yet since October of last year, the US-led coalition had apparently changed its approach to hitting mosques in eastern Syria as its warplanes prop up Kurdish militias trying to take over what is left of territory held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Sherlock

US judge orders medical examiner to turn over all files regarding death of RT founder Mikhail Lesin

Mikhail Lesin
© Reuters
Washington officials concluded that Mikhail Lesin died of blunt force trauma in a hotel room on November 5, 2015.
A Washington judge has ordered the city medical examiner to turn over dozens of autopsy records and other files in the investigation of Mikhail Lesin, the former Russian press minister who was found dead in a D.C. hotel room under suspicious circumstances more than three years ago.

The February 13 ruling came in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by RFE/RL, which has sought the files as part of its ongoing probe into Lesin's November 2015 death.

Once a powerful media adviser to President Vladimir Putin, Lesin fell out of favor sometime around 2012 and had largely been out of sight before his body was found in the Dupont Circle Hotel. Despite the official conclusion that his death was "accidental," suspicion has focused on whether he was killed to keep him from sharing information with the Justice Department.

Comment: Also see: