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Fri, 22 Feb 2019
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Ex-Reagan official Dr. Paul Craig Roberts on Afghanistan's long saga of opium, oil, proxy wars

2 USAF flag
© CC BY 2.0/DVIDSHUB
USAF, Alexander's Castle near Qalat City, Afghanistan
US policy-makers are continuing to oppose Donald Trump's decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan. Speaking to Sputnik, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, economist, author and former US official, shared his views on the US' decades-long Afghanistan saga, surprising rise in opium crops under the American occupation and apparent use of Islamists by the US.

Donald Trump's decision to withdraw 1,000 or more US troops from Afghanistan has prompted concerns among American lawmakers and Washington's European allies. On 16 February the bipartisan group of US congressmen met with Afghan President Ashaf Ghani on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to discuss the painful dilemma.

The US' Afghanistan war, which will mark its 18th anniversary this October, started in 2001 following the 9/11 terror attack under then-US President George W. Bush.

"Officially, Washington invaded Afghanistan because the Afghan government was allegedly harbouring Osama bin Laden who allegedly organised the attack on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon", Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, economist, author, and former US assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy under President Ronald Reagan, told Sputnik, adding that "Bin Laden was the excuse for an invasion that served several interests."

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X

Shoving aside US arm-twists and pipe dreams, Europe just won't quit Russian gas imports

pipeline
© Global Look Press/Gazprom
Austria will continue buying Russian gas despite US pressure and fear-mongering from Poland and Ukraine about dangers to European energy security. The cost of importing US gas is just not right, says its Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday, the 32-year-old chancellor stood up for Austria's continued support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is due to be completed later this year.

Austria wants a secure gas supply, Kurz told local media after meeting with Trump, adding that Vienna has no problem with buying liquid natural gas (LNG) from the US, "but as long as the price is better, Russia is more attractive as a partner, as Trump can certainly understand as a former businessman."

The price of US imports is "currently not competitive," Kurz said, so the gas for Austria "will continue to come mainly from Russia" in the foreseeable future.

Germany has also pushed back on US pressure to halt the pipeline in recent days, with the new leader of the ruling CDU party Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer describing the project as something that "just can't be turned back" and adding that Germany has "quite legitimate economic interests in energy supply."

Comment: More from RT:
Berlin must not bow to any other countries' "dictation" on its energy policy, the head of a German trade lobby in Russia has said, as he slammed the politicization of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

"As for issues of energy supply and energy security, Germany must not yield to dictation or influence of other countries, whether it is Russia or the US. Germany is not the 51st state of the US," the chairman of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Matthias Schepp, said in Berlin on Thursday.

The pipeline, which will deliver gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, is the largest infrastructure project in the EU, according to the trade chamber. It has created 30,000 jobs and is of great importance for European businesses, as around 670 European companies from various industries, including small and medium ones, take part in Nord Stream 2.

The pipeline will make energy more readily available to German industries, as the country has high tariffs for factories. Not only businesses will benefit from the high capacity of the project, but also private households, according to the trade lobby.

"The EU demand for natural gas imports will grow," said Rainer Seele, president of the chamber of commerce and chief executive at Austria's oil and gas company OMV.

He explained that the booming demand is based on the reduction of production in Europe as well as phasing out coal by Germany. Thus reliable imports of energy with accessible prices are necessary, which is what makes Nord Stream 2 so important for Europe.

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is a joint venture of Russia's Gazprom and five European energy majors. It is expected to double the existing pipeline's capacity of 55 billion cubic meters annually, and is supposed to come into operation by the end of 2019.

Apart from some European critics, including Poland and Ukraine, the project was slammed by the US, which wants to sell more of its own LNG to Europe. US President Donald Trump accused German authorities of being "captive to Russia," and Washington later pressed its European allies to abandon the pipeline project, threatening to sanction companies which participate in it.



Arrow Up

Sanders raises $6M first day of campaign; former Clinton staffer blames Russia

BSanders
© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/WIN MCNAMEE
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
A former adviser to Hillary Clinton suggested that Russia is supporting Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, after the popular senator raised a whopping $6 million in the first 24 hours since announcing his 2020 campaign.

Sanders' impressive first-day fundraising far outpaced that of California senator Kamala Harris, who raised $1.5 million on her first day and who has been billed by the media as the frontrunner in the Democratic primary race.

But the influx of donations to Sanders' campaign rang alarm bells for former Clinton campaign staffer Adam Parkhomenko, who jumped on Twitter to quip that half of the people donating to the campaign were "named Vladimir."


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Rocket

It's official: Trump directs Pentagon to create Space Force legislation for Congress

TrumpSpaceDir4
© Jim Young/Reuters
President Donald Trump displays the "Space Policy Directive 4" after signing the directive to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 19, 2019.
President Donald Trump signed a directive on Tuesday that ordered the Department of Defense create a Space Force as a sixth military branch.

Known as Space Policy Directive 4 (SPD-4), the directive orders the Pentagon draft legislation for Congress that would create the Space Force as a part of the U.S. Air Force. This would establish the first military branch in 72 years. The Air Force is the nation's youngest branch and was added shortly after World War II.

"America must be fully equipped to defend our vital interests. Our adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space, and they're working very hard at that," Trump told reporters at the White House.

"We're investing in new space capabilities to project military power and safeguard our nation's interests, especially when it comes to safety and defense," Trump added.


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Snakes in Suits

Summary North Carolina orders new U.S. House election after 'tainted' vote

vote_polling
(Reuters) - North Carolina's elections board on Thursday ordered a new election for a U.S. House seat after officials said corruption surrounding absentee ballots tainted the results of a 2018 vote that has embarrassed the Republican Party.

The bipartisan board's 5-0 decision came after Republican candidate Mark Harris, confronted by days of evidence that an operative for his campaign orchestrated a ballot fraud scheme, called for a new vote in the state's 9th Congressional District.

"It's become clear to me that the public's confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted," Harris said on the fourth day of the hearing in Raleigh, the state capital.

Elections Board Chairman Bob Cordle said "the corruption" and "absolute mess" with absentee ballots had cast doubt on the entire contest.

"It certainly was a tainted election," Cordle said. "The people of North Carolina deserve a fair election."

War Whore

A map of the US war on terror: Now in 80 countries

In September 2001, the Bush administration launched the "Global War on Terror." Though "global" has long since been dropped from the name, as it turns out, they weren't kidding.

Comment:


Cult

Bezos v. Trump illustrates the three major divisions in the American ruling class

Jeff bezos

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, considered to be the richest man on earth in terms of measurable wealth, and Donald Trump, arguably the most powerful man on earth as President of the United States, are figuratively at each other's throats. US media is abuzz with talk of genital photographs, blackmail allegations, sexual misconduct, and media bias. However, those who look deeper may see bigger differences and hidden rivalries at stake. Two hostile camps have emerged within the circles of American power.

Widespread Notions of a Shadowy Elite

The notion that wars, political unrest, and clashes within society are the result of disagreements among a shadowy elite is a theme that repeatedly surfaces in art, culture, and fringe political discourse in western countries.

Aleister Crowley, the early 20th-century occultist, was known for putting forward his concept of the "hidden church" that ruled the world. He presented his followers with the belief that shadowy societies and secret orders among the elite were behind the scenes, manipulating world events in order to serve their own ends. One of Crowley's novels, Moonchild, published in 1929, presented the First World War as resulting from a clash between different factions of witches and wizards who controlled various governments.

Crowley's Occultists ramblings, most not presented as fiction, are easy to laugh at. To modern readers, they almost sound like a bizarre meeting between Alex Jones' broadcasts and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. However, Crowley's world view is pretty well echoed today in the various conspiracy theories that fill the internet.

Better Earth

Warsaw and Munich: Whistling past NATO's graveyard

Angela Merke Mike Pence
© AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes United States Vice President Mike Pence, left, for a bilateral meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
If the Anti-Iran conference in Warsaw was the opening act, the annual Munich Security Conference was the main event. Both produced a lot of speeches, grandstanding and virtue-signaling, as well as a lot of shuffling of feet and looking at the ground.

The message from the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia was clear, "We are still committed to the destruction of Syria as a functional state to end the growing influence of Iran."

Europe, for the most part, doesn't buy that argument anymore. Germany certainly doesn't. France is only interested in how they can curry favor with the U.S. to wrest control of the EU from Germany. The U.K. is a hopeless has-been, living on Deep State inertia and money laundered through City of London.

The Poles just want to stick it to the Russians.

Everyone else has a bad case of, "been there, done that, ain't doin' it again."

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Bad Guys

Socialist? Bernie Sanders has 3 houses, makes millions

Bernie Sanders
© Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., entered the 2020 presidential race this week promising to transform America with a left-wing vision of economic and environmental justice. But the self-described democratic socialist's high-end income, multiple houses and fondness for air travel have already opened him up to criticism that his lifestyle doesn't always match the rhetoric.

Sanders has pitched himself as a grassroots economic populist, focusing on income inequality and higher taxes for the rich.

"Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice," he said.

Comment: More background on The Bern. Limousine liberal indeed.


Megaphone

Labour Party defections highlight rotten state of UK democracy

Uk independent group

The Independent Group are the cynical careerists who have put climbing the greasy poll above everything
UPDATE

So now it is eight. If you want to understand that the UK truly is not a functioning democracy, consider this. Joan Ryan is all over the MSM this morning as being the eighth defector to the Independent Group. Yet astonishingly, while she is universally reported as citing anti-semitism as the reason she is leaving, it appears not one MSM journalist has asked her about her receipt of US$1 million from the Israeli Embassy for spreading Israeli influence. Not one. Nor has any mainstream media outlet cited the fact in its reporting today. Most, of course, never even mentioned it at the time.

ORIGINAL

I have heard it argued again and again on television this last 48 hours that it is deeply undemocratic for the electorate to be offered a choice that is any more complicated than between Red Tories and Blue Tories. It is apparently unthinkable and deeply wrong that Corbyn's standard German style social democracy - which is routinely labeled "hard left" and "communist" - should be proffered to voters for them to support, or not.

Comment: Scottish National Party MP Mhairi Black was spot on when she said 'UK MPs are sociopaths who aren't held to account' - Scottish MP Mhairi Black

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