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Fri, 28 Oct 2016
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Puppet Masters


Royal Bank of Scotland Group blocks RT's UK bank accounts

© RT
© RT
RT UK's bank accounts have been blocked, RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan reported. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova reacted, saying it seems that in leaving the EU, London also left any freedom of speech obligations behind there.

"Our accounts in Britain have been blocked. All of them. 'Decision not to be discussed'. Hail to freedom of speech!" RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on her Twitter account.

The National Westminster Bank has informed RT UK that it will no longer have the broadcaster among its clients. The bank provided no explanation for the decision.

"We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities," NatWest said in a letter to RT's London office.

The bank said that the entire Royal Bank of Scotland Group, of which NatWest is part, would refuse to service RT. The letter said the decision was final and that it is "not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it."

"We have no idea why it happened, because neither yesterday nor the day before yesterday, nor a month ago, nothing special happened to us, nobody threatened us in any way. Hypothetically, this may have something to do with new British and American sanctions against Russia, which may be announced soon. It may not. Our legal department is dealing with the issue now," Margarita Simonyan told RBK business news website.

Comment: Any SOTT readers have accounts with NatWest clients like RBS? Please consider the example of Tony West:
"I have been a NatWest account holder in the UK since 2003, today I just emailed them the following text:

"According to today's news you arbitrarily intend to cancel the bank accounts of RT NEWS, as this is my preferred news source it is my intention to arbitrarily cancel my banking services with you and I sincerely hope that my account cancellation is joined by thousands of other like-minded account holders, I don't suppose you could recommend another banking service could you, perhaps one that sticks to banking and not politics?

"Sincerely, Tony West"

If you share these sentiments or are a NatWest client who has doubts about the bank's policies following its decision against RT, send us your story at [email protected]
See also: Update 1: It looks like RBS is backtracking, despite their unequivocal cancellation letter. They sent a response to RT:
"These decisions are not taken lightly. We are reviewing the situation and are contacting the customer to discuss this further. The bank accounts remain open and are still operative," Sarah Hinton-Smith, Head of Corporate & Institutional, Commercial & Private Media at RBS Communications, wrote.

However, the response by Hinton-Smith contradicted an earlier statement by RBS Group, which said that the decision to suspend banking services to RT was final and not up for discussion.

The broadcaster addressed the Royal Bank of Scotland representative over the contradiction, pointing out that "your statement seems to suggest that the bank will contact RT and that there will be a review and further discussion."

"There's not much more of a steer I can give other than what is in the statement," Hinton-Smith replied via email.
Update 2 (Oct. 18): More signs of support for this obvious political move: Journalists Neil Clark and John Wright also had some choice words on RBS's decision:
Wright: There seems to be no financial reason, and it seems more than a coincidence that this has taken place at a time when the anti-Russian propaganda has been ramped up to unprecedented levels.

In London last week, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for public demonstrations to be staged outside the Russian embassy in London. That's remarkable. This reflects the extent to which the West is losing the information war. RT plays a key role in challenging the narrative of the West and Western media when it comes to events in Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East.
Clark: The great thing about RT is that it urges viewers to question more. I'm afraid the British establishment doesn't want the people to question more, it wants them to question less and swallow the propaganda. It's about RT being punished for telling the truth and for putting on voices which don't get put on the establishment channels.
British journalist Oliver Tickwell launched a petition protesting NatWest/RBS, calling it a "blatant attack on diversity that aims, ultimately, to close down its distinctive and valuable voice, and restrict choice for UK viewers.": "if we put up with this, then what's next?"
The journalist pointed out that RT has been "tremendously successful" in providing an alternative take on events for its UK viewers, who "appreciate the diversity that it adds to otherwise frankly rather uniformed output, in particular, on television." ... "There is a sort of a hegemonic point of view about a lot of issues that is becoming increasingly unacceptable to deviate from," Tickell said, adding that the current "attack" on RT goes beyond the attempt to restrict its coverage, and could hold wider implications for all alternative sources of information.
RT is often portrayed by its opponents, including the BBC, as a "propaganda" channel, Tickell wrote in the petition, arguing that the only difference between the two channels is that BBC exclusively conveys the opinion of the British government and elites, while RT allows the other side to be heard. "RT's account of many contentious issues - for example events in Syria and Ukraine - is often more credible, accurate and evidence-based than those of mainstream media," the petition concludes.


No demand for pickup trucks: Ford halts four more factories in October

As US manufacturing data for September turned out to be a disappointment, Ford announced temporary lockouts on two more US plants, and two in Mexico this month and in early November - their once-popular F-model pickup trucks do not sell anymore.

Mere weeks after Ford shut down its Mustang factory in a suburb of Detroit, MI, Ford Motor Company announced it would idle four more factories due to lackluster demand for pickup trucks.

The facilities in Louisville, KY, as well as two plants in Mexico, will shut down this week, while a factory in Kansas City will stop operating for seven days starting next week. On 31 October, the Louisville factory will close for another seven days, Ford said.

Snakes in Suits

Just look in the mirror: UK collecting evidence against those involved in Syria war crimes

© REUTERS/ Toby Melville
The United Kingdom is collecting evidence against the sides responsible for the war crimes perpetrated in the crisis-torn Syria, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Tuesday.

"The UK is leading the way, in accumulating evidence against those, who are responsible for these crimes [carried out in Syria]," Johnson said speaking at the parliament. He added that London was collecting "good, secure" proof of the crimes and expressed confidence that they would be useful to bring the sides responsible for the crimes to justice.

Comment: Is the evidence coming from this guy? Propaganda spin cycle: 'Syrian Observatory for Human Rights' is funded by US and UK governments Boris only needs to look into a mirror.

Comment: Clown Boris needs to look at his own country's war crimes to see he doesn't hold any moral high ground: Hypocrisy at large: Aleppo the worst humanitarian disaster since WWII? Not so fast, Mr. Kerry

Eye 2

Hypocrisy at large: Aleppo the worst humanitarian disaster since WWII? Not so fast, Mr. Kerry

American helicopters protect infantry battalions crossing rice fields 17 August 1967 in an unlocated place during the Vietnam war.
The propaganda offensive unleashed against Russia by Washington and its allies has moved beyond satire and entered the realm of farce.

At the conclusion of their most recent meeting in London over the ongoing conflict in Syria, specifically the operation being carried out by Syrian government forces and Russia in Aleppo, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to the press in words that will not be treated kindly in the court of history.

"We are outraged by what is happening in Aleppo, which is in year 2016, beginning of the 21st century, horrendous step back in time to a kind of barbarianism, a use of force that is an insult to all of the values that the United Nations and most countries believe should guide our actions," Kerry said.

It should be borne in mind that John Kerry speaks for a country which since the beginning of the 21st century has been responsible for a military mission in Afghanistan, where today the Taliban has never been stronger and in which ISIS now has a foothold, and for turning Iraq and Libya into failed states, unleashing an ocean of death, misery, human suffering, and chaos in the process.

Treasure Chest

'Russian threat' great for business: Norway to buy a dozen more F-35s

© Flickr/ Samuel King Jr
Norway will be first among international partner nations to participate in a multiyear F-35 fighter jet purchase, and will request an additional 12 "block buys" of the war plane in 2019 and 2020.

In its budget proposal for 2017, Norway's Defense Department told the country's parliament of its plan to order 12 additional fifth-generation stealth fighters. "They continue to stay strong in the program and it shows the confidence they have in the F-35," said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, where the airplane is built. "Norway and other international partners on the F-35 program have been involved in the concept of a block buy since its inception," said Joe DellaVedova, a Pentagon spokesman for The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO). "Due to vast economies of scale, all countries will achieve significant reductions on the price of their jets." Buying the supersonic stealth jets in blocks drives down the cost, from $112 million per unit in 2013, to $80-85 million each.

Comment: This is why talk of WW3 (nuclear war) is nonsense. You think the greedy psychos are gonna give up all their chances to make more loot and gain more power? The point being, TALK of WW3 is good, ACTUAL WW3 is very BAD for business!

Stock Down

Blowback: Exxon has lost over $1B due to Russian sanctions

© Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters
An aerial view shows the Yastreb (Hawk) land rig at Sakhalin-1's Chaivo field, some 1,000 km (621 miles) north of Yuzhno Sakhalinsk
Exxon has turned into a collateral victim of the US economic sanctions against Russia. So while supermajor BP's chief executive Bob Dudley said earlier this week that he was "a little saddened" with the way the Deepwater Horizon movie has painted his company, Exxon's Rex Tillerson has perhaps an even greater reason to be a little saddened.

Exxon, the world's biggest oil and gas company by value, entered Russia in the 1990s and has enjoyed a long and fruitful presence there. This presence was set to expand further with Exxon's plans to take part in the exploration and exploitation of the country's Arctic shelf. Unfortunately for Exxon, the US and the EU hit Russia with sanctions over the annexation of Crimea and its support for Eastern Ukrainian rebels.

The sanctions forced Exxon to shelve its Arctic plans, and it started to lose money from revenues generated by its ongoing Russian projects, such as the flagship project Sakhalin-1 and a number of joint ventures with Russia's Rosneft. It also lost future revenues. The Arctic venture alone was valued at $500 billion in total investments. What made the project particularly appealing for Exxon was that Rosneft's CEO, Igor Sechin, had promised to exempt the company from export duties and property tax.

Comment: In an interesting twist of fate, Russia's Gazprom is selling more gas to Europe than it did in 2015, despite the sanctions.


WikiLeaks 11: Podesta emails reveal more contempt for 'doofus Bernie' Sanders

© Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
The 11th tranche of emails from John Podesta has been released by WikiLeaks. The batch includes discussion around Clinton's potential vice presidential candidates and further evidence of contempt for Bernie Sanders within the campaign.

It's understood this leak comprises almost 2,000 emails, of a total of 50,000 from Hillary Clinton's campaign chair which the whistleblowing website claims to possess.

Yesterday's release included campaign staff exchanges on handling media queries about Clinton "flip-flopping" on gay marriage, galvanizing Latino support and locking down Clinton's healthcare policy.


What you need to know about the Syrian situation

© Patrick Feller | CC BY 2.0
1. Syria is country about the size of Washington state, with an extraordinarily long, well-documented and glorious history, and central role in the emergence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Before the current war, it had a population of around 22 millions. It has never threatened and poses no threat to the United States.

It is a secular, constitutional republic recognized diplomatically by the United Nations and has diplomatic and usually cordial relations with Russia, Iran, China, India, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, the Philippines, Argentina, Tanzania, Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Algeria, Oman, etc. It has historically been a battleground of Arab, Iranian and Turkish peoples, at different times a part of the Persian Empire, the Arab-led Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, or the Ottoman Empire. It fell under French colonial administration after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire (centered on what is now Turkey) in the course of World War I. It was briefly declared a kingdom under the Arab Emir Feisal until the French drove him out of Damascus in 1920.

Thereafter the League of Nations awarded France a "mandate" to govern Syria (including Lebanon, which the French made a separate state). This colonial administration continued to 1946. After independence from France, political parties representing merchants and intellectuals from Damascus or Aleppo vied for power while the Communist Party was (to Washington's alarm) tolerated. The secularist Ba'ath Party founded by Christians, Sunnis and Alawites in 1947 began to organize.


Dumbed down and sexed up Western media propaganda on the rise

© Ben Brewer / Reuters
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper
As shocking as it may seem to some, fake news is on the increase. It's cheaper to produce, more effective and often more believable. But it's not just the Americans who are mastering it. The Europeans are catching up fast.

Many have questioned in recent days CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and his lack of objectivity when cross-examining Donald Trump in the televised one-on-one debate with Hillary Clinton. Yet in reality many Americans saw little problem with CNN being the required unbiased mediator. Personally, given my own experiences with the network that showed me first hand that Atlanta never lets the truth stand in the way of a good story, I found this laughable.

Even less hue and cry was generated when just previous to the claim by the Trump camp about foul play on Cooper's side, reports emerged of the Pentagon paying a British PR firm over half a million dollars to produce entirely fabricated 'news' in Iraq.

It's as though the American general public, who are so easily cajoled by the clamor of mainstream giants like CNN examining the personal foibles of presidential candidates over their policies, has got so used to fake news. Even recent reports of the Pentagon dropping 'fake bombs' in the Nevada desert might go to support a narrative where the empty warheads become real ones in the minds of journalists over time. The Pentagon does, after all, have a lot of money to spend on spin, therefore it is hardly surprising that it crosses lines and simply makes up the news. They couldn't make up the news though about Major General Ron Lewis who was sacked in 2015 for inappropriately spending government money to pay for strippers and alcohol. That was definitely the real deal.

War Whore

The great diversion: Sex scandals and conflict with Russia

© inspiretochangeworld.com

Comment: The drive for wars and the threat of WWIII with Russia is, in many ways, profitable for the Powers that Be. An actual WWIII would not be. The shabby U.S. would likely lose the battle, as it already has in Syria. They'd lose their power and lots of money. That's not very appealing to the PTB.

With media coverage in America dominated by allegations of sexual assault against the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, one would never know that the United States is on the verge of a massive escalation of operations against Syria and is preparing for a military conflict with Russia.

Friday's wall-to-wall coverage of Trump's alleged sexual transgressions featured a speech full of moralistic outrage by First Lady Michelle Obama, a veteran of the cutthroat Chicago political machine. She melodramatically declared that a leaked tape of Trump making lewd remarks had "shaken me to my core."

The entire media spectacle serves as a smoke screen for far-reaching plans by the present administration, with the full support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, to implement deeply unpopular policies without public scrutiny. It serves as well to bury any discussion of substantive issues in the election campaign.

Behind a nearly total media blackout, the White House National Security Council held a closed-door meeting Friday to review the US military's campaign in Iraq and Syria. The only major media advance report on the meeting, carried by Reuters on Thursday and then quickly dropped, noted that US officials were weighing "air strikes on Syrian military bases, munitions depots or radar and anti-aircraft bases." Asked about the meeting at a press conference Friday afternoon, deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz refused to even acknowledge that it was taking place.