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Wed, 21 Nov 2018
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Puppet Masters


US Senator Rubio urges Venezuela be placed on US state terrorism sponsors list

© Reuters
Venezuelan President Maduro
The prospect of Venezuela being included on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism is looming as a result of increased lobbying from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), WaPo reports.

A person "familiar with the deliberations" told the Washington Post on Monday that, while no timetable for adding Venezuela to the list had been decided, discussions had "moved forward" in recent days, thanks to Rubio's insistence. The State Department has shopped the move around to various agencies for feedback, including the Department of Health and Human Services, and the US Agency for International Development.

The administration will have a difficult time finding proof to tie the Venezuelan government to terrorism, according to another anonymous source, this one a US official. Rubio and two other Republican senators implored Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a September letter to declare Venezuela a terrorism sponsor, accusing the country of links to both Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) but neglecting to furnish proof.

Comment: If Venezuela is a terrorist-sponsor state, it surely doesn't have any money to pay the buggers. See also:


Was it a CNN victory or press defeat? WH restores Acosta's pass but imposes conduct rules

Jim Acosta/Intern
© Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
CNN's Jim Acosta and White House intern
CNN's White House correspondent Jim Acosta will see his "hard pass" restored, but all journalists seeking access to the presidential press room will now have to abide by written rules of conduct due to his misbehavior.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine sent a letter to Acosta on Monday, notifying him that his hard pass was restored, but that it might be suspended or revoked again if he fails to abide by the new rules that apply to all White House correspondents going forward.

Under the rules laid out in the letter, each journalist gets "a single question" before having to yield the floor, with follow-ups solely at the discretion of White House officials. Failure to obey the rules may result in suspension or revocation of the "hard pass," the document allowing major networks regular access to the White House.

"Should you refuse to follow these rules in the future, we will take action in accordance with the rules," wrote Sanders and Shine.

Acosta's pass was yanked following an incident at President Donald Trump's November 7 press conference, where the CNN correspondent argued with Trump instead of asking questions (not for the first time) and physically prevented a White House intern from taking the microphone away from him.

Comment: See also:
You're FIRED! Trump pulls press credentials of craven CNN reporter Jim Acosta after press conference confrontation - UPDATES

Arrow Up

Russia's major leap in the European gas war

© unknown
On November 19th, President Putin will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Erdogan during a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the first string of Turk Stream. The subsea gas pipeline will transfer 15.75 bcm directly from mainland Russia to Turkey. The capacity will double after the second string is completed. The pipeline will be operational at the end of 2019. Despite several setbacks, mutual interests concerning security and trade have ensured the strengthening of cooperation between Russia and Turkey in the face of opposition from the West. The first string of Turk Stream, which is almost completed, is important for bilateral relations. The second string, however, will service the European market and is a sign of Gazprom's successful strategy in the face of opposition from the EU and several European countries.
© PISC Gazprom

Comment: Russia's pipe dreams are coming true.


America the Global Empire: French bank pays huge US fine for doing business in Cuba and Iran

french car
© Global Look Press / Bernhard Schmerl
Societe Generale has agreed to pay $1.34 billion to US federal and state authorities to settle a pending legal dispute over violations of US trade sanctions against Iran and other countries.

One of France's largest banks has also pledged to pay $95 million to resolve another dispute over violations of anti-money laundering regulations.

"We acknowledge and regret the shortcomings that were identified in these settlements, and have cooperated with the US authorities to resolve these matters," the group CEO Frederic Oudea said in a statement.

"These resolutions, following on the heels of the resolution of other investigations earlier this year, allow the bank to close a chapter on our most important historical disputes."

Comment: The amazing thing is that these European companies are actually paying these 'fines'.

Of course, because of the sinking of the Iran Deal, we now know why: these companies have such huge market shares and joint investment deals in the US market that they prefer to accept the shakedown than tell Uncle Sam to take a hike.


US playing int'l bully again, promises to 'disrupt' oil shipments to Syria, sanctions Russian & Iranian companies

latakia port
© Reuters / Khaled Al Hariri
The US has introduced sanctions against what it called a network of petroleum shipments to Syria, including Russian and Iranian companies and individuals. Washington says it wants to disrupt shipments to Syrian-owned ports.

Six individuals have been sanctioned over oil shipments to Syria, the US Treasury Department has said. Three institutions have also been sanctioned.

In addition to the fresh measures, the US Coast Guard has issued an advisory warning of "significant sanctions risks" on petroleum shipments to Syria. The US has promised that it will "disrupt" any attempted shipments to government-owned ports in Syria.

The Treasury Department claims that the individuals and companies affected by the measures are involved in a "complex and malign scheme" to bolster the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad. It claims that oil is being imported into Syria from Iran in defiance of American sanctions. The Syrian government then allegedly transfers cash to Islamic militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, at Iran's direction.


Russian officials warn Poland not to proceed with permanent US military base

us tank
© Reuters / Agencja Gazeta
Moscow will have to respond if Warsaw pushes through a plan to build a permanent US base on its soil, top Russian officials have warned, as the Polish defense chief said construction of the so-called Fort Trump was a done deal.

Poland's Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak confirmed that a permanent US military installation will be "undoubtedly" created on the country's territory. While bolstering US military presence is not a matter for negotiation, the exact mechanism and select units to be deployed are still being discussed, Blaszczak told Polish Radio on Tuesday.

However, he did not reveal any details citing the need to protect a "strong negotiating position."

The idea of building a permanent US military installation is wholeheartedly supported by top Polish officials, who are even ready to pay a hefty sum of $2 billion for it.


UN report makes it clear: Britain's enemy is not Russia but its own ruling class

british cops
© Reuters / Darren Staples
As the UK political establishment rips itself to pieces over Brexit, a far greater crisis continues to afflict millions of victims of Tory austerity.

A devastating UN report into poverty in the UK provides incontrovertible evidence that the enemy of the British people is the very ruling class that has gone out of its way these past few years to convince them it is Russia.

Professor Philip Alston, in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, spent two weeks touring the United Kingdom. He did so investigating the impact of eight years of one of the most extreme austerity programs among advanced G20 economies in response to the 2008 financial crash and subsequent global recession.

What he found was evidence of a systematic, wilful, concerted and brutal economic war unleashed by the country's right-wing Tory establishment against the poorest and most vulnerable section of British society - upending the lives of millions of people who were not responsible for the aforementioned financial crash and recession but who have been forced to pay the price.

Cow Skull

IMF issues warning that land confiscation plans will hurt South Africa's economic growth

drought South Africa
© Reuters / Mike Hutchings
Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa's economic recovery faces serious constraints, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which pointed to land reform, growing debt of state firms, and capital outflows as obstacles for growth.

"Some of the initial optimism has dissipated as growth remains stuck in low gear and reform implementation has faced constraints," the IMF said, naming the state power firm Eskom as a key risk.

Last month, the global lender projected Africa's most industrialized economy expanding by 0.8 percent in 2018, down from a prior forecast of 1.5 percent. South Africa's Treasury predicts growth of 0.7 percent.

Comment: When a government runs on ideaology instead of responding to real circumstances, only disaster can follow. Some understand the danger: Some have already read the writing on the wall:

Snakes in Suits

Nancy Pelosi scolds MSM for giving Trump too much attention

© Reuters / Joshua Roberts
House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scolded media for giving President Donald Trump too much airtime, and also compared the President to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Trump has been in a state of war with the press.

Pelosi, who is facing tough opposition from within her own party against her bid to become the next House Speaker, has taken a swipe at the media for letting Trump hog so much attention.

Comment: Unfortunately for Pelosi, the media is giving Trump attention because they get good ratings that way. Good ratings equals advertising dollars. They are going to do whatever gets them the most money.

In an interview with the New York Times' Robert Draper published on Monday, the veteran politician made a surprising claim, alleging that the press has been enamored with the US President.
I think the press loves him. All day on TV - and I don't even watch TV, except sports. But he says somebody had a horse face - all day we hear about that. We hear about Kanye West, all day. You just give him all day!
Pelosi was referring to Trump's Twitter rant from last month, in which he called porn actress Stormy Daniels "Horseface" and said that he would "go after" her and "her3rd rate lawyer" Michael Avenatti after a federal judge had thrown out Daniels' defamation case against him.

Bad Guys

Is peace looming in Yemen? Stalemated Houthis and Saudis make conciliatory statements

Yemen government soldiers
© Reuters / Anees Mahyoub
Yemen government soldiers on patrol in the city of Taiz following a protest against the country's deteriorating economy, October 6, 2018
Factions from both sides fighting in Yemen's civil war made overtures towards peace on Monday, with the Saudi king voicing support for a peaceful solution after Houthi rebels pledged to end their rocket and drone attacks.

Delivering his annual policy speech to top Saudi officials, clerics and military officers in the capital Riyadh, King Salman gave his full support to UN efforts to bring an end to the fighting.

However, the ageing Saudi monarch justified Saudi involvement in Yemen as "not an option but a duty to support the Yemeni people" from Houthi aggression that is supported by Saudi Arabia's bitter regional rival, Iran.

Comment: Liar. The Saudis are the ones who invaded. Salman has been listening to too much Netanyahu.

The Kingdom entered the conflict at the head of a mostly Arab coalition in a bid to restore the internationally-recognized Yemen government, after an uprising by Houthi rebels in 2015 threatened to take full control of the country.

Comment: "Internationally recognized", i.e., not by the people of Yemen.

The Saudis are now facing increased pressure from the international community to bring an end to the conflict.

Over 57,000 lives have been claimed in the fighting while a Saudi-led blockade and bombing campaign has left infrastructure devastated, with the importation of aid and supplies made almost impossible.

As a result of the campaign, as many as 14 million Yemeni citizens are at risk of famine, according to a recent report by the UN.

Comment: See also: