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Tue, 28 Feb 2017
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Puppet Masters


'Soft coup' against Jeremy Corbyn is already underway behind the scenes - shadow chancellor

© Darren Staples / Reuters
Britain's shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell claimed this week that members of his own party are in cahoots with the "Murdoch media" in a renewed attempt at bringing down the Labour leader.

"The coup is not being waged up front in public but strictly behind the scenes," the Corbyn ally wrote in a piece for the website Labour Briefing.

"Having learned the lesson of the last coup attempt - that a direct attack on Jeremy and his policies will provoke a backlash from many party members - the coup perpetrators are this time round pursuing a covert strategy."

He added that the unnamed plotters were "willing to go so far in denigrating Jeremy that they endanger their own parliamentary seats and endanger the very existence of the party."

The apparently well resourced "soft coup" allegedly includes "daily and constant" briefings to the press about Corbyn's office and anonymous interventions on every statement made by the socialist leader in Parliament.

Comment: See also:


Media analyst - 'US held hostage for too long, Trump right to bar MSM from White House gaggle'

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
White House spokesman Sean Spicer
Many Americans are secretly loving the Trump administration's media offensive, because for the longest time these organizations, they believe, have held a monopoly with their haughty attitude that they know better, says political commentator Lionel.

In the latest clash between the Trump administration and the media, several Western news outlets were barred from Friday's off-camera Q&A session with White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Outlets denied entry to the "gaggle"included the New York Times, Politico, CNN, the Guardian, BuzzFeed, among others. However, Trump-friendly conservative publications, such as Breitbart News, the One America News Network, and the Washington Times, were granted admission, as well as TV networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News.


Fighting in Donbass, coal blockade, and infighting in Kiev, as Ukraine's crisis deepens

Crisis deepens in Ukraine as far right militants seize and are then driven out of water filtration plant and mount coal blockade threatening country with energy emergency.

The last few weeks have witnessed an acceleration of Ukraine's downward slide.

Following the bitter fighting in and around Avdeevka and the angry telephone exchange between Russian President Putin and German Chancellor Merkel, an attempt was made to bring the fighting in the area around Avdeevka to an end and to arrange for a mutual pullback of forces to the starting lines.

Stock Down

Germany takes hard line on debt relief: 'Greece must not be granted a bail-in' where creditors take a loss

Germany's deputy finance minister says 'no debt relief for Greece.'

Fearful that EU member states and "institutional creditors" would take a complete bath, and suffer political retribution from their local constituents, Germany is once again warning all involved in the never ending Greek debt crisis, that a "bail in" involving creditors must not take place.

A "bail in" involving the Greek population (in the spirit of the Cyprus "bail in" model used years ago), we imagine will be perfectly acceptable for the German deputy finance minister, and the unelected oligarchs ruling over their EU kingdom.

"There must not be a bail-in," Jens Spahn was quoted by Reuters.

Referring to losses that Greece's creditors would have to take if debt was written off, Spahn told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk....
"We think it is very, very likely that we will come to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that does not require a haircut."


Trump plans to boost Pentagon budget by $54bn - White House

© Flickr/ Rudi Riet
President Donald Trump aims to increase the Pentagon's budget by $54 billion, as part of a push to rebuild America's "depleted military." Trump also promised to rein in domestic spending and do more with less.

Details of the new budget will be unveiled sometime in March, but the president is expected to preview portions of it during Tuesday's night address to Congress.

In a Monday meeting with governors at the White House, Trump said the budget will be heavy on "public safety and national security" and feature a "historic increase of defense spending to rebuild the depleted military."


Ex-CIA chief Brennan denies being source of Flynn intelligence leaks

© Gary Cameron / Reuters
Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan
Former CIA Director John Brennan has denied he is the source of intelligence leaks about the Trump administration, and stressed the importance of a bipartisan investigation into reports of Trump's ties to Russia.

Speaking on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, Brennan was asked about House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes' claims that leaks about General Michael Flynn's phone calls could only have come from the "very highest levels of the previous administration."

Flynn resigned as Trump's national security adviser after he was exposed as having misinformed senior administration officials over the content of his phone calls with Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, in late December.

"I think it's very unhelpful to make allegations about who is responsible for these leaks," Brennan said, stressing the importance of distinguishing between leaking "classified information, which is against the law and leaks of discussions that might be taking place within the administration."

Brennan, who left the CIA in January, said classified leaks are "appalling" and need to be stopped, but the information "could be coming from any number of quarters, whether it be the intelligence community, White House, Congress, because a lot of people have access to this information."

Comment: Brennan's television tap-dance doesn't hold water. The leaks were a grave breach of government secrecy. It also exposed the fact that the CIA feels it can spy on other branches of government with impunity. The organization is out of control, just as Kennedy said.


US experts confirm Russian prankster trolled NATO chief Stoltenberg

© Francois Lenoir / Reuters
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
Russian pranksters who called Jens Stoltenberg in early February, one of them introducing himself as Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, did indeed reach the NATO Secretary General, Life.ru reported, citing US experts.

After Life.ru initially published the conversation, NATO accused them of disinformation, the Russian tabloid says. It then decided to contact an American investigative agency to prove the authenticity of the recording.

Life.ru gave VIP Protective Services Inc., a company that employs former agents from FBI, CIA and a number of European agencies, their recordings that featured a conversation between the pranksters and, allegedly, NATO chief Stoltenberg.

The phone talk in question happened earlier this month, when prankster Lexus, who works in tandem with another man known as Vovan, introduced himself as Poroshenko and asked the supposed Jens Stoltenberg whether Ukraine could become a NATO member within the next two years, "as advised by American partners."

Comment: See also:


China warns US and S. Korea of 'consequences' over THAAD land swap deal

© Reuters
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor
China announced that Washington and Seoul will face "consequences" over a land swap deal which will allow the US to host its THAAD missile defense system on South Korean soil - a move which Beijing claims will undermine its own ballistic capabilities.

The agreement, which involves a land swap between Seoul and retail giant Lotte, was approved on Monday.

"We received a message that the board approved the exchange of land for THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) deployment," the South Korean Defense Ministry said in a statement, as quoted by AFP.

Comment: US may mobilize THAAD missile defense system to S. Korea in June over China's objections

Che Guevara

Irish sympathy for Palestine forged by mutual struggle for statehood

© Ammar Awad / Reuters
Palestinians walk past a post office building in East Jerusalem
The Irish and the Palestinian people share a common bond that stretches back in history many centuries - in the case of the Palestinians to Biblical times - and that is their long-fought struggle to acquire a national homeland against insuperable odds.

What distinguishes the two groups, however, is that the Irish succeeded in fulfilling the dream of obtaining statehood, while the Palestinians remain stuck in limbo.

The Irish achieved statehood status in 1922 following the Irish War of Independence and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty (the struggle over Northern Ireland, however, continued up until the Good Friday Agreements in 1998). By comparison, the Palestinians have sat through countless peace talks, following battered roadmaps to nowhere, while the dream of a homeland always remains just beyond their grasp.

Now, with Donald Trump in the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have little to fear about getting an Obama-style scolding over the settlement construction in contested territories, which has increased dramatically of late.

It was on Obama's watch, it should be remembered, that the US abstained from voting in December on a UN resolution that calls Israel "settlement building" in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank a "flagrant violation under international law."

A veto by the US - or any of the five permanent members of the council- would have stopped the resolution.



Poland and Hungary join together to challenge EU bureaucracy

The rifts within the EU continue to widen as Poland and Hungary join together in opposition to the EU bureaucracy.

Soon after Poland's ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in October 2015, the Polish parliament passed a law allowing the government to appoint the judges of its choosing to the highest court and not recognize those chosen by its predecessor, the liberal Civic Platform party.

The crisis began in 2015 when Civic Platform, the party then in power, improperly nominated two judges to the constitutional court. When the PiS won October's elections, it refused to recognize them and also blocked three other judges who had been properly selected by parliament. PiS also wants the court to hear cases in chronological order, rather than setting its own priorities for tackling its caseload. The Polish government believes it is unfair that a constitutional court with a majority of judges appointed under the previous parliament should be able to scupper flagship policies for which PiS secured a mandate in democratic elections in 2015.