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Wed, 22 Aug 2018
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Puppet Masters


India defies US threats and is poised to sign deal for Russian S-400s in October

Russian S-400s
© Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters
A column of S-400s on the move
Russia hopes to finalize two major defense deals with India by year's end, with first deliveries of the S-400 air defense system potentially taking place in 2020, a Russian defense official has said.

India defied US demands to drop the S-400 deal in favor of US weaponry, selecting the defense system to protect its skies in June following an agreement on technical and economic specifications earlier this year. The S-400 is capable of destroying aerial targets at an extremely long range of up to 400km (almost 250 miles).

Arrow Down

Twitter sparks backlash with verification of NYT's racist Sarah Jeong

Sarah Jeong
Twitter has been accused of having double standards after a decision to 'verify' the controversial New York Times reporter Sarah Jeong with the coveted blue tick, despite her record of making 'racist' comments about white people.

Jeong, who has been on Twitter since 2009, only received the blue tick after she was hired by the Times, despite outrage after a series of past tweets re-emerged in which she ranted about "dumbass f*cking white people" and admitted she enjoys "being cruel to old white men" - as well as a slew of other derogatory comments aimed at "white people".

Earlier this month, the Times was forced to publicly defend its decision to hire the Asian-American Jeong after the tweets sparked controversy online. In a statement, the Times said that while it did "not condone" her past speech, Jeong had simply been "imitating the rhetoric of of her harassers" and that she now understood her past approach was wrong. The paper also said it was confident Jeong would be "an important voice" going forward. Jeong herself defended her tweets, claiming she saw them as "counter-trolling" against some of the abuse she had personally received from other users on the platform.


German chair of AfD: We need to meet with Assad whether we like it or not

Armin-Paulus Hampel
Russian, Turkish, French and German leaders may hold a meeting on the Syrian issue, said Russian President aide, Yuri Ushakov.

In July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the summit of leaders of the four countries to be held in Istanbul on 7 September.

Erdogan said leaders would discuss the Syrian conflict and other issues. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the meeting was not on the agenda yet.

"The meeting is possible," Ushakov told the Izvestiya newspaper.

Bad Guys

Ex-CIA deputy chief goes on tirade after Republican questions him about monitizing security clearances

Philip Mudd
© Today Show/NBC
Former CIA Deputy Director Philip Mudd
Kraft Former CIA Deputy Director Philip Mudd and GOP strategist Paris Dennard exchanged stinging barbs during a heated debate on CNN over John Brennan's security clearance being revoked.

The verbal cross-fire occurred on Friday when Dennard, a supporter of US President Donald Trump, accused Mudd of profiting from his security clearance, which can give former US intelligence officials access to sensitive documents if they are called on by the government to advise.

The two were discussing Trump's recent revocation of ex-CIA Director Brennan's security clearance when Dennard told Mudd: "Your contracts and your consulting gigs pay you a lot more money because of the access that you have. I hope the president continues to do this."


Latvia provokes anti-Russian sentiment with NATO drills targeting ethnic Russian towns

Latvian National Guard
© Ints Kalnins / Reuters
Latvian National Guard unit takes part in the urban fighting drill during the NATO Saber Strike exercise in Latvia, on June 13, 2018.
NATO has launched the biggest war games ever staged on the territory of Latvia since the Baltic state gained independence. The drills are scheduled to include the military tackling "spontaneous" unrest in Russian-populated towns.

"After four years of intensive preparations, this will be the largest military training exercise since the restoration of Latvia's independence in which we will be test the armed forces' readiness to defend Latvia from any threats," said the Latvian Chief of Defense, Lieutenant General Leonids Kalnins. "This exercise is the opportunity to train not only the National Armed Forces but also Latvia's overall defense capabilities as our partners are involved in the drills as well," he added.

The two-week drills began on Monday, and are scheduled to end on September 2.


District Judge rules Rosenstein is the 'ultimate authority' over Mueller's investigation

SC Robert Mueller
© AP
Special Counsel Robert Mueller
As of July 31, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller has finally been reigned in by a District Judge for the United States District court for the District of Columbia.

Usually, a Special Counsel is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In this case - which is the first of it's kind in U.S. history - the Special Counsel was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions has recused himself from matters related to the Russian "collusion" investigation, since President Donald J. Trump is the subject of the investigation.

Since this is a case of first impression, there have not been any guidelines regarding the parameters of Mueller's investigation, causing frustration among President Donald J. Trump, American citizens, and even federal judges.

Comment: The Hill has an excellent report on the many weaknesses in this judge's decision, pointing out that, "If Howell is right, the attorney general, without Senate approval and by his own regulations, can establish independent prosecutors with vast budgets, secret powers, and no effective oversight by the president or Congress."

The report continues:
It is a well written opinion, but it is deeply flawed when held up to the light of reality. Its implications are its weakness. Under the ruling, a crafty deputy attorney general could appoint the most powerful prosecutor in the land with an unlimited term, hidden authority, independent budget, and with little oversight by the president or Congress just by declaring the attorney general to have a conflict and therefore to be disabled. Or an attorney general looking to sink a president can simply say his hands are tied and delegate the process to folks immune from direct authority.

Come to think of it, one of those alternatives is exactly what we are living through right now, and it has bitterly divided the country. Given that an impeachment trial requires two-thirds of the Senate, the appointment of independent counsels with a majority vote of the Senate makes sense. It would prevent the runaway appointments and prosecutions that have been the ignominious hallmark of special counsels. It would put the Constitution back in the driver seat, and end these secret processes that have allowed the hijacking of our government by unelected officials.

I hope this case gets to the Supreme Court with all deliberate speed so the ruling can be overturned. The entire country knows that one presidential campaign was treated one way and another was treated much differently. Rosenstein and Mueller have become blind to the corrosive effect of this unfair justice. Ending the appointment of the special counsel on grounds that it needed Senate confirmation could be the best way out of the mess created by this backdoor granting of power.


Turkey lodges WTO complaint that US tariffs broke free trade rules

steel factory
© Darley Shen / Reuters
Turkey has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against US tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum products.

"Turkey has requested WTO dispute consultations with the United States concerning additional import duties imposed by the United States on steel and aluminium products. The request was circulated to WTO members on 20 August," the WTO said on Monday.

In its petition to the WTO, Turkey said the US violated free trade rules when it initially imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports in June for most countries. Doubling them is an additional violation, according to Ankara.

Comment: The WTO complaint probably won't do much but you can't blame Turkey for going all in: Also check out SOTT radio's: NewsReal: Social Media Censorship and the Clash of Civilizations - Manufactured, Packaged, Sold

Bad Guys

65 Years Ago This Week: The 1953 Iran Coup - A Crime Authored in London And Washington

1953 Iran coup
This week marks 65 years since the Western-orchestrated coup in Iran. August 19, 1953 is the day that Iranians were taught a hard lesson in the rules of the game when it comes to empire and hegemony.

For on this day, the country's democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, was overthrown at the hands of Washington and London. It was, by any measure, an act of international banditry that continues to cry out for just redress.

Operation Ajax was planned, organized and unleashed by the CIA in conjunction with MI6 in response to the decision that was taken by Mossadegh - acting with the support of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) - to nationalize Iran's oil and husband the resulting revenue for the benefit the Iranian people.

Up to this point, the lion's share of the revenue garnered from the exploitation of Iranian oil was sucked out of the country by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) - the British state-owned oil company established in 1908 with this objective in mind and the forerunner of today's global oil conglomerate BP.


Unhinged CNN analyst Philip Mudd blows up at Paris Dennard for pointing out the profitability of security clearances

Phil Mudd CNN, Paris Dennard

If Mudd's outburst on steroids is not the top unhinged moment in the media of the year, it definitely has to rank in the top five.

CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd has a well-deserved reputation for being unhinged but on Friday's Anderson Cooper 360 (with substitute host Jim Sciutto), he went completely berserk to the extent of trying to kick another commentator off the show that wasn't even his. Before his actual explosion you can see the absolute fury building up in him as political commentator Paris Dennard was making good points as to why security clearances are profitable for those who hold them.

If Mudd's outburst on steroids is not the top unhinged moment in the media of the year, it definitely has to rank in the top five:

Comment: Lest one think Mr Mudd was simply having a bad day, this nutjob routinely suggests Trump should be killed:

See also: Former CIA official taunts 'Trump can't do anything about the FBI' in spite of GOP memo

Monkey Wrench

Italy's NATO racket: Is it a bridge too far?

Morandi bridge
© KRISTV.com
Morandi motorway bridge, Genoa, Italy
The catastrophic bridge collapse in Italy this week has prompted a public outcry over the country's crumbling infrastructure and how it is putting lives at risk. But the question the public in Italy and across Europe should be asking is: why are their governments spending extra tens of billions of dollars on NATO militarism, while neglecting vital civilian infrastructure?

When the iconic Morandi motorway viaduct came crashing down this week over the city of Genoa - with a death toll so far of 39 people - the consensus among Italian news media and members of the public is that the bridge was a disaster waiting to happen.

Nearly 200 meters of the motorway flyover section spanning a river, houses and an industrial area collapsed while dozens of cars and trucks were passing. Shocked witnesses described the scene as "apocalyptic" as vehicles plunged 40 meters along with concrete and iron girding to the ground below.

Comment: Trump is right that NATO countries are not paying their fair share and the US has been carrying the heavy financial load. NATO's necessity is based on propaganda that maintains a looming bogeyman, a unified threat, in order to support the sales of arms. And for that reason, it must maintain and expand. Is it 'a bridge gone too far'?