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Wed, 31 Aug 2016
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Conflict in Syria has 'begun to resemble global war'

As the situation in Syria is steadily deteriorating, any kind of breakthrough in the Russo-American negotiations is needed to pave the way for halting the ongoing bloodbath in the region, Swedish journalist Gunilla von Hall writes, adding that events on the ground have begun to resemble a global war.

The situation on the ground in Syria has begun to resemble a global war, Gunilla von Hall, the foreign correspondent for Swedish daily newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, reports.

According to Hall, the Geneva peace talks have become the focus of worldwide attention.

"It is here in Geneva that some sort of breakthrough could occur to stop the fighting in Syria, where the situation is seemingly spinning out of control. Since July, the situation has deteriorated and complicated dramatically," she writes.

Comment: The US still presumes that it can dictate to Russia how to handle its operations in Syria. As the US envoy to the Syrian Opposition Michael Ratney has stated,
"The United States and Russia have not reached an agreement, but we are working on understandings that, if they are achieved, can restore the cessation of hostilities, reduce the violence and save lives. These steps are not based on trust, they are specific, and we have set a high ceiling for Russia, the regime and its allies.

"The situation around Aleppo city is unacceptable to us," Ratney's statement said. "The United States deplores the regime's attempt to besiege Aleppo city and demands that full access to the city be maintained."
In other words the US wants Russia to give its terrorists free reign in and out of Aleppo, and demands a 'cessation of hostilities' in order to rearm them. Given their ludicrous demands it's a testament to Russian will that Lavrov can still negotiate with them.


Tensions rise over US-South Korean joint military exercises, North Korea soldiers allegedly given 'nuclear backpacks'

© Alamy
Soldiers with backpacks carrying radiation symbols parade in the capital Pyongyang, October 2015
Report comes after series of weapons tests by Kim Jong-un's forces

Elite North Korean soldiers are being armed with "nuclear backpacks", a source has claimed as tensions increase over the authoritarian state's attempts at military escalation.

An anonymous source told Radio Free Asia special units have been formed since March to carry the weapons and had been taking part in simulated training exercises with dummy bombs.

"Outstanding soldiers were selected from each reconnaissance platoon and light infantry brigade to form the nuclear backpack unit the size of a battalion," the source from North Hamgyong province was quoted as saying.

The supposed weapons were said to weigh between 10 and 30 kilograms and be able to "spray radioactive material", possibly uranium, on the enemy.

North Koran propaganda showed soldiers wearing rucksacks bearing a yellow and black radiation symbol during a parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the national Workers' Party in October, while similar backpacks were seen at a procession in 2013.


Turkey in Jarablus: A deal between everyone but the U.S.

© Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office / Reuters
Turkish army tanks make their way towards the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria August 24, 2016.
Thanks to all for the good discussion of Mark Sleboda's post here. His central thesis: the recent Turkish invasion of Syria was against Russian interests, Russia basically left Syria hanging and lost out in the NATO war on the country.

But my sources told me of behind-the-scenes agreements that went against the U.S. orders and plans. All relevant news published recently also points to a different story. Turkey has aligned with Russia and Iran and some, maybe temporary, agreement was found with regards to the conflict in Syria. The U.S. was lost in the chaos that followed when two of the U.S. proxy forces, Syrian Kurds and Turkish-led "moderate rebel" Jihadists, fought each other around Jarablus.

Comment: See Behind the Headlines: Whose Side is Erdogan on? Understanding Geopolitics and Human Nature and our coverage of the Jarablus offensive here and here.


China takes bolder role in Syrian conflict

© AP/ Ng Han Guan
Earlier this month, Chinese Admiral Guan Youfei visited Syria. Few details were made available on the specifics of Beijing's cooperation agreement with the Syrian military, but the pact itself represents a landmark shift both in the military sense and from the perspective of international geopolitics, says French political analyst Thierry Meyssan. In an informative analysis published in the independent geopolitical analysis website Voltairenet.org, Meyssan explained that while details of the Chinese-Syrian military cooperation agreement remain murky, Beijing's motivations for increasing its involvement in the conflict are not.

Rear Admiral Guan's visit to the war-torn country, conducted in his capacity as director of the newly created Office for International Military Cooperation under the powerful Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, took place as part of Beijing's broader efforts to establish military contacts with nations in the Middle East. Meeting with Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij in mid-August, Guan said that the Chinese and Syrian militaries already have "a traditionally friendly relationship," adding that the Chinese military would be "willing to keep strengthening exchanges and cooperation" with their Syrian counterparts.

In practice, few details have emerged on the kind of military assistance that Beijing will actually offer, with Guan saying only that a consensus had been reached on the PLA's providing humanitarian aid, and Beijing confirming last week that Syrian medical personnel would receive training inside China. Despite the limited nature of this assistance, Meyssan noted that China's moves have nevertheless led to considerable anxiety in Western capitals. And they have reason to be concerned, he added, because "everyone understands that this agreement is hiding something else, since the training of Syrian military medical personnel has been taking place for the last four years, to the point where half of Syria's military doctors have been trained in China."

Comment: For the last 50 or so years, China's political and economic policies have largely been based in a gradualist strategy through incremental and deliberate steps towards development. However, the political environment of more recent years has, out of necessity, propelled China towards establishing their position in demanding situations. The establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and President Xi's initiative of the New Silk Road all speak to how China is working towards a world that an alternative to domination of U.S. interests.

The U.S. desires to 'contain' China and such a policy of hostile engagement towards global powers will not bode well for the future of the West. Russia's involvement in Syria has been force for good in taking a definitive stance against the covert maneuvers of the United States. Up until now, China has largely been acting behind the scenes with regard to the Syrian crisis. However, this latest Chinese-Syrian visit suggests China is readying itself for a greater role in resolving the conflict.


Conspiracy theory in America

© University of Texas Press
Do you smirk when you hear someone question the official stories of Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris or Nice? Do you feel superior to 2,500 architects and engineers, to firefighters, commercial and military pilots, physicists and chemists, and former high government officials who have raised doubts about 9/11? If so, you reflect the profile of a mind-controlled CIA stooge.

The term "conspiracy theory" was invented and put into public discourse by the CIA in 1964 in order to discredit the many skeptics who challenged the Warren Commission's conclusion that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald, who himself was assassinated while in police custody before he could be questioned.

The CIA used its friends in the media to launch a campaign to make suspicion of the Warren Commission report a target of ridicule and hostility. This campaign was "one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time."

So writes political science professor Lance deHaven-Smith, who in his peer-reviewed book, Conspiracy Theory in America, published by the University of Texas Press, tells the story of how the CIA succeeded in creating in the public mind reflexive, automatic, stigmatization of those who challenge government explanations. This is an extremely important and readable book, one of those rare books with the power to break you out of The Matrix.

Professor deHaven-Smith is able to write this book because the original CIA Dispatch #1035-960, which sets out the CIA plot, was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Apparently, the bureaucracy did not regard a document this old as being of any importance. The document is marked "Destroy when no longer needed," but somehow wasn't. CIA Dispatch #1035-960 is reproduced in the book.

The success that the CIA has had in stigmatizing skepticism of government explanations has made it difficult to investigate State Crimes Against Democracy (SCAD) such as 9/11. With the public mind programmed to ridicule "conspiracy kooks," even in the case of suspicious events such as 9/11, the government can destroy evidence, ignore prescribed procedures, delay an investigation, and then form a political committee to put its imprimatur on the official story. Professor deHaven-Smith notes that in such events as Kennedy's assassination and 9/11, official police and prosecutorial investigations are never employed. The event is handed off to a political commission.


SWIFT acknowledges new cyber-attacks on its money transfer system - pressures local networks to upgrade security

© Carlo Allegri / Reuters
The global provider of interbank money transfer services, SWIFT, has confirmed more hack attacks on its member banks. The attacks occurred after SWIFT updated security procedures following February's breach at the Bangladesh central bank.

In a private letter to customers, SWIFT said there had been new cyber-theft attempts since June, some of them successful.

"Customers' environments have been compromised, and subsequent attempts (were) made to send fraudulent payment instructions," Reuters quoted a copy of SWIFT's letter. "The threat is persistent, adaptive and sophisticated - and it is here to stay."

SWIFT said some banks attacked had lost money. It didn't say how much money was taken or how many of the attempted hacks succeeded. The company did not identify specific banks, but said they all shared one thing in common - weaknesses in local security that attackers used to compromise local networks and send fraudulent messages requesting money transfers.

In June, SWIFT warned banks of a number of cyber-attacks on its system and asked them to update their software. It released a security update for the software 11,000 financial institutions use to access its network.

It was the first time the global network had acknowledged there were cyber-attacks on its system, as well as the hacking of the central bank of Bangladesh. In that attack, cyber-thieves stole $81 million from the bank's account at the US Federal Reserve.

Comment: Nefarious players or groups may be at work attempting to hack the Swift system, but it also provides governments with another venue to wage war on each other.


Nearly 40 Daesh fighters killed at Aleppo meeting, bombed by Russian Su-34s

© Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation
Russia's Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback tactical bombers strike ISIS sites in Syria
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Russian airstrikes killed around 40 Daesh jihadists in the Syrian province of Aleppo.

Russian airstrikes killed around 40 Daesh jihadist group in the Syrian province of Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday. "On August 30, 2016, a mass gathering of Daesh fighters numbering up to 40 have been killed as a result of the Russian Su-34 bomber's strike in the Maaratat-Umm Khaush area of Aleppo province," the ministry said.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that a second-in-command of the Daesh jihadist group has been killed in an airstrike in the Syrian province of Aleppo.

"Among the killed terrorists confirmed through multiple intelligence channels was Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, better known as 'official media spokesman' of the Islamic State international terrorist group," the ministry said in a statement.

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting numerous opposition factions and extremist groups.

Aleppo has been under siege by militant groups, including Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat Fatah al Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, classified as terrorist organization in Russia. The city has seen intense fighting over the past few months, with the Syrian army and local militia forces managing to encircle large groups of militants in the eastern districts of the city.


Presstitution: The Financial Times is a megaphone calling for mass murder and regime change in Venezuela

The Financial Times editorial page carries a logo that proclaims: "Without fear and without favour". Indeed the editors have shown no fear when it comes to. . . fabricating lies, promoting imperial wars decimating countries and impoverishing millions, whether in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and now Venezuela. The fearless "Lies of Our Times" have been at the forefront forging pretexts for inciting imperial armies to crush independent governments.

Despite its pretentious scribblers and prestigious claims, the FT is seen by the Anglo-American financial class as a belligerent purveyor of militarist policies designed for the most retrograde sectors of the ruling elite.

What is most striking about the FT fearless fabrications on behalf of imperial militarism is how often their political and economic prognostications have been incompetent and flat out wrong.

For the past ten years, the FT editorial pages have described China in economic crisis and heading for a fall, while in reality, the Chinese economy has grown at between eight and six percent a year.

For over a decade and a half, the FT editors claimed Russia under President Vladimir Putin presented an international existential threat to 'the West'. In fact, it was the 'Western' armies of NATO, which expanded military operations to the borders of Russia, the US, which financed a neo-fascist coup in Kiev and the US-EU which promoted an Islamist uprising in Syria designed to totally undermine Russia's influence and relations in the Middle East.

The FT's economic gurus and its leading columnists prescribed the very catastrophic deregulatory formulas which precipitated the financial crash of 2008-09, after which they played the clownish role of "Mickey the Dunce" - blaming others for the failed policies.

The fearless FT scribes are currently leading a virulent propaganda campaign to promote the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro.

This essay will identify the FT's latest pack of fearless lies and fabrications and then conclude by analyzing the political consequences for Venezuela and other independent regimes.


War Whore

A historic opportunity to annihilate humanity: Defense contractors tell investors WWIII will be great for business

They see it as a 'historic opportunity.'

The mainstream media has been working overtime to position Putin's Russia as our newest and most pressing international threat, and now even the most absurd events in media are linked to Russian interference. The reason why media is working so hard to create the impression that Russia is actively conspiring against is because conflict with the former Soviet Union is good for business.

If you had any remaining doubts that the world is being forced into perpetual military conflict so that a morally corrupt world elite can garner huge profits, then consider recent comments by members of the military industrial complex about the benefits of escalating tensions between Russia and the West.

Former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Richard Cody, retired as four-star army general and is now Senior Vice President of L-3 Communications, the seventh largest defense contractor in America, as noted by Business Insider. In 2015, L-3 was awarded 7,622 government contracts for an obligated amount of some $5 billion putting them in a key position to influence government and take advantage of any escalation of global military conflict.


Bad Guys

Who's behind the campaign to blame Putin for everything?

Hardly a day goes by without some "news" about the Russian "threat," and in the past twenty-four hours the hate-on-Russia campaign seems to have picked up speed. After learning from Hillary Clinton that Vladimir Putin is not only responsible for the Trump campaign, but also for the "global nationalist movement" that yanked the British out of the European Union, mainstream media are telling us that Russian interlopers are supposedly invading our electoral process by hacking into voter databases. The Washington Post "reports":

"Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials in June that Russian hackers were behind the assault on the election system in that state.

"The bureau told Arizona officials that the threat was 'credible' and severe, ranking as 'an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10,' said Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office.

"As a result, Secretary of State Michele Reagan shut down the state voter registration system for almost a week."

So the Russkies are invading the American polity, launching a cybernetic assault on the very basis of our democracy? Really? Well, no, as becomes apparent when the reader gets down in the weeds and exercises his critical faculties, if such exist. Because by the time we arrive at paragraph five of this "news" story, we learn that:

"It turned out that the hackers did not succeed in compromising the state system or even any county system, but rather had managed to steal the user name and password for one Gila County elections official."

Oh, but never mind that nothing much happened and no data was altered, because:

"Nonetheless, the revelation comes amid news that the FBI is investigating suspected foreign hacks of state election computer systems, and earlier this month warned states to be on the alert for intrusions."

"Russian" hackers have now been magically transformed into "suspected foreign hacks": we aren't supposed to notice this shift in attribution because, after all, the FBI is supposedly putting its imprimatur on this conspiracy theory. Except they aren't: nowhere in the story does the FBI confirm that the Russians or any foreign actors are behind this.

Comment: Another reason for the rise in the "Russian hacker" meme is the creation of a 'threat' that can be blamed for the inevitable nuclear economic winter.