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Sat, 16 Feb 2019
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Tulsi Gabbard stands out from the crowd: Rational foreign policy, end for-profit prisons, legalize marijuana, punish big pharma

Tulsi Gabbard

US representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii's democratic congresswoman and one of many entrants in the crowded 2020 presidential race, is already turning heads thanks to her anti-interventionist foreign policy approach and progressive stance on a variety of issues, making her an outlier among establishment Democrats.

If her pre-campaign messaging and campaign launch speech are any indicator, the potential presidential contender has no intention of backing down - especially when it comes to her strong advocacy of medical marijuana and harsh criticisms of the criminal justice system and pharmaceutical industry.

Rocket

European leaders react to the death of the INF Treaty by perfecting their ostrich impressions

ostrich head sand
I'm old enough to remember the excitement that most of the world felt when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles - better known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It was one of those epoch defining moments, with two seemingly implacable enemies, having stared each other down across the so-called Iron Curtain, and having engaged in a costly and potentially disastrous arms race, actually concluded that it was all rather pointless and certainly too dangerous to continue, and that a much better idea - and indeed a perfectly feasible one - was to sit down and come to an arrangement that benefited both sides, and made nuclear confrontation far less likely.

The result was a treaty, signed by the leaders of both countries in 1987, which eliminated missiles with a range of 500-5,500km, fired from land-based launchers. The purpose of this treaty was to guarantee (as much as such guarantees are possible) the security of Europe, which until that point had become a focal point of possible nuclear confrontation between the two sides, with American BGM-109G ground-launched cruise missiles based in Great Britain, West Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherland, and Soviet SS-20s missiles based in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, as well as on the territory of Russia.

Arrow Down

Nothing like Bitcoin - JPMorgan launching it's own cryptocurrency

Jamie 'Demon'
© MIT Technology Review
Less than two years ago, Jamie Dimon (above), CEO of JPMorgan Chase, called Bitcoin a "fraud." Today his bank announced that it is planning imminent real-world tests of its own cryptocurrency, called "JPM Coin."

Bank-issued Bitcoin?

Far from it. The bank intends to use the new coin to settle payments between big institutions, and it will be redeemable 1:1 for US dollars, according to an FAQ post on the bank's website. JPMorgan moves more than $6 trillion around the world for its clients. In trials scheduled to begin in a few months, it plans to handle a small fraction of those payments using a homegrown blockchain.

Light Saber

Macron fights back: Yellow Vest boxing champ and father of 3 who defended protesters from violent police is sentenced to 1.5 years in prison

Christophe Dettinger

Christophe Dettinger
A former professional boxer who became an unlikely star of the Yellow Vest protests after a video of him delivering blows at two French police officers went viral, has been sentenced to 30 months of jail, 18 of them suspended.

Christophe Dettinger, former French light heavyweight champion, was found guilty of assaulting police officers in Paris on January 5, as tensions were running high during a weekly Yellow Vest protest. The footage of Dettinger throwing punches at gendarmes has gained traction on social media, shooting him to fame, and was replayed during his trial on Wednesday.

Dettinger handed himself in two days after the incident, and argued that while he was ashamed of what he did he was not morally in the wrong. The retired boxer said that he charged the policemen on the spur of the moment to defend a fragile-looking woman pinned on the ground.

Comment:


Laptop

Cyber-security experts release damning report: Why the DNC was not hacked by the Russians

eyes hands
Investigation by cyber-security and intelligence experts William Binney and Larry Johnson

The FBI, CIA and NSA claim that the DNC emails published by WIKILEAKS on July 26, 2016 were obtained via a Russian hack, but more than three years after the alleged "hack" no forensic evidence has been produced to support that claim. In fact, the available forensic evidence contradicts the official account that blames the leak of the DNC emails on a Russian internet "intrusion". The existing evidence supports an alternative explanation - the files taken from the DNC on between 23 and 25 May 2016 and were copied onto a file storage device, such as a thumb drive.

If the Russians actually had conducted an internet based hack of the DNC computer network then the evidence of such an attack would have been collected and stored by the National Security Agency. The technical systems to accomplish this task have been in place since 2002. The NSA had an opportunity to make it clear that there was irrefutable proof of Russian meddling, particularly with regard to the DNC hack, when it signed on to the January 2017 "Intelligence Community Assessment," regarding Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election:
We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.
The phrase, "moderate confidence" is intelligence speak for "we have no hard evidence." Thanks to the leaks by Edward Snowden, we know with certainty that the NSA had the capability to examine and analyze the DNC emails. NSA routinely "vacuumed up" email traffic transiting the U.S. using robust collection systems (whether or not anyone in the NSA chose to look for this data is another question). If those emails had been hijacked over the internet then NSA also would have been able to track the electronic path they traveled over the internet. This kind of data would allow the NSA to declare without reservation or caveat that the Russians were guilty. The NSA could admit to such a fact in an unclassified assessment without compromising sources and methods. Instead, the NSA only claimed to have moderate confidence in the judgement regarding Russian meddling. If the NSA had hard intelligence to support the judgement the conclusion would have been stated as "full confidence."

Handcuffs

Putin proposes game-changing organized crime bill - Russian kingpins will no longer sleep well at night

gang members tattoos
© Global Look Press / Alexey Myakishev
President Vladimir Putin wants to give crime bosses hard time. He has proposed legislation to jail crime lords just for accepting a leading position in the criminal world.

In the Russian Criminal Code, one could be jailed for organizing and leading a mob only if they are found guilty of involvement in a crime. Leaders of crime gangs often avoid punishment, as they aren't involved in crime personally, even if their position within a gang is widely known, Putin explained in a comment on the proposal.

Comment: Step by step, Putin is changing the culture of lawlessness created by American vulture capitalists into one of principled behaviour


Attention

Ukraine strips pro-Russia priest of citizenship, deports him

bishop gedeon
© Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Bishop Gedeon
Ukraine has taken the extraordinary step of deporting a senior cleric of the Moscow-aligned Orthodox Church and stripping him of his citizenship, marking a political escalation in the historic rift that has shaken the Eastern Orthodox world and further raised tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.

The move threatens to draw U.S. officials into the spat, since the Ukrainian-born Bishop Gedeon, whose given name is Yuriy Kharon, is said to hold U.S. citizenship.

U.S. Embassy officials in Kyiv could not immediately confirm whether or not he has U.S. citizenship.

Gedeon, of the Moscow Patriarchate Church in Ukraine, had just touched down at Kyiv's Boryspil Airport after a working trip to the United States when Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) agents detained him over accusations of promoting Russia's military aggression against the country and holding a second passport, reportedly American.

After being held for hours overnight on February 13 and interrogated, the Ukrainian-born cleric was stripped of his Ukrainian passport and then put on a plane to Frankfurt early on February 14, Ukrainian authorities and Moscow Patriarchate officials said in official statements. Ukrainian authorities claimed he had lied about losing the passport but then found it on him during the interrogation.

NPC

Measles are making a comeback & it's probably Russia's fault, says bombshell report

measles
Russian trolls accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election may have contributed to a measles outbreak in Europe, according to an extremely logical, level-headed report from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The State Department-funded conduit for unvarnished truth has concluded, after some diligent sleuthing, that rumblings on the internet about the alleged dangers of vaccines - and resulting health crises - are at least partly due to a coordinated disinformation campaign carried out by the Kremlin.

'Are Russian Trolls Saving Measles From Extinction?' reads the article's Louise Mensch-inspired headline.

While making its airtight case, the outlet consulted David Broniatowski, a professor at George Washington University, who claimed that trolls at the allegedly Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency have fueled the vaccine debate in the United States and "eroded public consensus on vaccination" since 2014.

Yoda

Ilhan Omar gives lying warmonger Elliot Abrams a well-deserved public smack down

Elliot Abrmas Ilhan Omar
© C-SPAN
War criminal Elliot Abrams isn't happy about his public outing.
Days after being smashed with a vicious establishment vicious establishment smear campaign to paint her as an antisemite for accurately criticizing AIPAC, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is already back on the horse aggressively disrupting the establishment narrative matrix that our rulers have worked so hard to construct for us.

Elliott Abrams is a monster. The atrocities that he has facilitated, covered up and whitewashed in Panama, El Salvador, Gaza, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Iraq are utterly unforgivable, and the fact that he has been appointed as special envoy to Venezuela by the Trump administration completely invalidates the US government's Venezuela narrative all by itself. Even without the blatant lies, the known oil agendas, the CIA ops, the mounting evidence of US arms smuggling to right-wing militias, and America's extensive history of utterly disastrous regime change interventionism, the fact that this administration would appoint such a ghoulish individual to spearhead its Venezuela interventionism alone is enough to show you that the US government has nothing but malevolent intentions for that nation.

So it was nice to see someone in that government calling him what he is right to his face in front of everybody.

Comment: Twitter errupted on both sides of the question:




More comment on Omar's gutsy move:
Omar's performance was soon trending on social media, with the congresswoman polarizing the country for the second time in a week. While critics of the US' never-ending regime-change operations cheered her on, conservatives looked askance at the Somalian immigrant's accent and her mispronunciations of several key words central to her questioning - including "Communist" and "contra." Her addressing of Abrams as "Mr. Adams" - whether intentional or not - also rubbed some people the wrong way.

...though fans pointed out that winning an election in one's second language was no mean feat.

Another critic insinuated that Omar's grilling of Abrams was motivated by anti-Semitism, bringing up accusations against the congresswoman from earlier this week.

...and Abrams' fellow neocons leaped to his defense.

But, it was pointed out, Abrams did plead guilty...

Lest anyone think Omar was being too harsh - the Contra revolution in Nicaragua was just one war, after all - another user took the time to write up a quick summary of Abrams' role in the Guatemalan civil war, as well.


At one point in the hearing, Abrams was heckled by antiwar activists from Code Pink, some of whom were physically removed from the chamber.
code pink elliot abrams
© Agence France-Presse / Getty Images / Alex Wong
House hearing on Venezuela: Military intervention no, regime change yes
CodePink protesters confront US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, DC, February 13, 2019
Committee chair Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York) made sure to assert congressional power to declare war and argue that the Democrat-majority House will not approve an armed intervention in Venezuela.

"I do worry about the president's saber rattling, his hints that US military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: US military intervention is not an option," Engel said.

Most Democrats appeared on board with Trump's regime change policy, however, so long as it could be done quickly and cheaply. Brad Sherman (D-California) was particularly interested in making sure the US-backed government doesn't repay any of the loans Caracas has taken out from Russia, which Venezuela has been settling with oil shipments.

Meanwhile, Colombian President Ivan Duque was in Washington meeting with President Donald Trump.The two presidents released a joint statement pledging to "work with the Guaido government to restore freedom, democracy, and prosperity to Venezuela" and condemning the "illegitimate, former dictator of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro."

Last month, Trump recognized the opposition politician Guaido as president of Venezuela, in a bid to oust the elected President Maduro. So far, 51 US allies around the world have recognized Guaido.
Per Rand Paul, it looks as if the Neocons have managed to 'scurry in' to the Trump administration. Foreign policy is being forced back onto the 'right path' for the Empire.


Chess

Russia, Iran & Turkey talk long-term Syrian peace in Sochi as US and allies beat war drums in Warsaw

erdogan putin rouhani
© REUTERS / Tolga Bozoglu
Leaders from Russia, Turkey and Iran have descended on the Black Sea city of Sochi to discuss ways of ending Syria's near-eight-year civil war. Meanwhile, hostile talk is emerging from a meeting of the US and its allies in Warsaw.

Ahead of the talks, the Kremlin said the purpose of the convention would be to discuss potential "joint steps" that can be taken to bring about a "long-term settlement" in the war-torn country.

In addition to the joint forum, President Vladimir Putin is also holding separate talks with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani.

Speaking at the start of his meeting with Putin, President Erdogan said there was still uncertainty over Washington's plan to remove troops stationed with Kurdish forces in northern Syria. However, he added that Turkey was willing to move ahead with coordinating a possible 'safe zone' with Russia.