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Mon, 05 Dec 2016
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North Dakota fracking company slapped with $2.1mn fine over pollution of Native American reservation

© Andrew Cullen / Reuters
A North Dakota oil drilling company has agreed to pay a $2.1 million fine imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency for causing air pollution on a Native American reservation.

Slawson Exploration Co, the largest oil producer in the Midwest, was hit with the fine for air pollution arising from 170 oil and gas wells, the majority of which were on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

The EPA said that the company failed to adequately design, operate and maintain vapor control systems on its storage tanks which contributed to pollution, specifically smog. This pollution can increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, and exacerbates diseases such as asthma.


The New York Times claims Trump is upsetting diplomacy by talking to world leaders

The paper of record is very upset...upset at the fact that President-elect Trump is talking to world leaders that have been ignored over the years.

In an article entitled, "How Trump's Calls to World Leaders Are Upsetting Decades of Diplomacy" the NYT goes over a list of Trump foreign policy telephone no-no's.

God forbid Trump engages in dialogue, rather than bombs and coups.

Via How Trump's Calls to World Leaders Are Upsetting Decades of Diplomacy...

Comment: Some more of Trumps egregious phone calls:


Europol report warns ISIS may use car bombs, extortion, kidnappings in EU

© Dabiq / Global Look Press via ZUMA Press
Islamic State is likely to carry out more terrorist attacks in the EU, Europol warns, citing intelligence sources. Jihadists may resort to tactics that they use in Syria and Iraq, such as car bombs, extortion and kidnappings, according to a new report.

Intelligence sources suggest that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has "assembled teams in Syria" that are being sent to European Union countries to carry out attacks, the report, entitled "Changes in Modus Operandi of Islamic State Revisited," from Europol's European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) warned on Friday.

"Estimates from some intelligence services indicate several dozen people directed by IS may be currently present in Europe with a capability to commit terrorist attacks," Europol warned.

"Modi operandi employed in Syria and Iraq, such as the use of car bombs, may emerge as a method of attack in the EU," it said.

Comment: The funny thing is that, even if this Europol report is accurate (many of its points are plausible, given the way ISIS operates), the Islamic State's goals align pretty closely with the goals of many in the American and European deep state. Think Operation Gladio's "strategy of tension". The reason is simple: despite their differing surface ideologies, both "states" share the same pathological worldview. Where does one end and the other begin?


Islamic State tells supporters to quit messaging apps on smartphones for fear of U.S. bombs

© Reuters/Dado Ruvic
A man holds a smartphone showing the Islamic State logo in front of a screen showing the Telegram logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina November 18, 2015.
Islamic state has told its members to stop using internet-based communication apps like WhatsApp and Telegram on smartphones, suspecting they are being used by the U.S.-led coalition to track and kill its commanders.

Until recently, the hardline group used such apps to chat with members and supporters outside its main areas of control in Syria, Iraq and Libya -- including, say French officials, the assailants who staged attacks across Paris a year ago, killing at least 130 people.

A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State positions since 2014, when the group proclaimed a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Twenty commanders of the group were killed this year, including spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani.

"If you get onto the programs like WhatsApp and Telegram or others from Mosul, and get in touch with a person being tracked, the crusaders will start thinking about you ... assessing your importance and identifying the locations of the (Islamic State) centers by following you," said an article in the group's weekly newspaper, Al-Naba, published online.

Comment: See also: FBI study states the obvious: US military operations abroad the reason for homegrown terrorism

Post-It Note

Memo: The Trump line on his cabinet picks

© Henry Romero / Reuters
President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has provided detailed instructions to congressional Republicans on how to defend his Cabinet picks, including directions to portray his attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), as a strong defender of civil rights and to play up South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's Indian heritage as evidence of Trump's purported commitment to a diverse administration.

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, urges GOP lawmakers to describe Trump's latest picks — former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce — as "world-class" financial talents with "ideal," "extraordinary" qualifications for their posts. The memo did not directly address concerns from some Trump supporters about the nominees' elite backgrounds and ties to the finance industry.

The memo, transcribed, is posted below in full:


Media goes silent on eve of Italy's constitutional referendum

© AFP/Claudio Giovannini
Matteo Renzi rose from local government to prime minister of Italy in just months, but a constitutional referendum could send him back down the greasy pole of politics.
Media silence was imposed across Italy Saturday on the eve of a constitutional referendum crucial for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has staked his future on the government reforms.

In the frantic final round of campaigning which ended on Friday, Renzi's rivals vowed to defeat referendum proposals to streamline parliament and force the centre-left leader out of office.

The 41-year-old premier is hoping for a last-minute turnaround in voter sentiment, having pledged to quit in the event of a "No".

While all media comment on the referendum is now banned until polling ends at 11:00 pm (2200 GMT) on Sunday, the campaign continued on social media.

But #silenzioelettorale (electoral silence) was the among Twitter's top-trending topics as Italian web users rejoiced at the end of a highly-charged campaign.

Politically and economically, the stakes are high.

After Britain's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's presidential triumph in the United States, Renzi is being portrayed as next in line to suffer a populist backlash from fed-up and forgotten voters.

A "No" vote would be seen as bolstering the populist Five Star Movement as well as the anti-immigrant, anti-EU Northern League.


Berlin finally admits US using Ramstein for 'extra-legal' drone killings

© Wikipedia/ Airman 1st Class Kenny Holston, U.S. Air Force
After repeated questions from the Die Linke opposition party, the German government has admitted that the US Air Force is using its Ramstein base to control drone strikes which are used in anti-terror operations and to carry out extra-legal killings, German MP Andrej Hunko told Sputnik Deutschland.

Die Linke deputy Andrej Hunko told Sputnik Deutschland that Berlin has finally admitted the role Ramstein plays in US drone attacks after denying it for several years. "It's really bizarre. We have been asking about Ramstein's role in the US drone war for two years. Because of statements from drone pilots the public has known for a long time that Ramstein is a main control center in this 'drone war.' Now, after many denials, there is finally an admission that Ramstein fulfils this function," Hunko said.


Can Lavrov trust Kerry in the new Aleppo ceasefire deal?

US Secretary of State Kerry's latest offer for all Jihadis to leave Aleppo appears to be an attempt to get the Russians to agree to a ceasefire in order to preserve the Al-Qaeda controlled pocket in eastern Aleppo until after Obama leaves the Presidency in January. However Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called Kerry's bluff by demanding that the US come up with concrete proposals and a definite timetable for the Jihadis' withdrawal.

As news filters in of the Syrian army's capture of another formerly Jihadi controlled district of eastern Aleppo, and of talks between the Russians and Jihadi representatives in the Turkish capital Ankara, there comes news of further discussions between Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary State Kerry in Geneva.

That Lavrov and Kerry are talking at all may come as a surprise to many people. Just a few weeks ago - on the eve of the US Presidential election - all the talk was of the US refusing to talk to the Russians further, and of the Russians being arraigned on war crimes charges.

Now Lavrov is saying that Kerry came to Geneva on 2nd December 2016 and "finally presented proposals on Aleppo in line with Russia's stance".


Militants in east Aleppo shoot down Syrian army aircraft, kill crew

© Sputnik/ Mikhail Voskresenskiy
L-39 planes of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Air Force at an aerodrome 50 km of Palmyra
Armed rebel groups holding quarters in the Eastern part of Aleppo have shot down a Syrian Armed Forces aircraft killing the crew, according to the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen news channel.

Al Mayadeen reports that the incident took place not far from the Aleppo airport territory.

The militants shot down the L-39 Albatros — two-seat single-engine trainer — which was produced by Czech Aero Vodochody company until 1996, the Baladi News portal reported.

It is reported that the body of one of the pilots, Syrian Airforce colonel Jafar Hasan, has been found already. The search for the second pilot's body is currently underway.

Syrian Armed Forces officials have not commented on the incident so far.


Venezuelan president reports 'cyber sabotage' against banking system

Maduro tells the country to be on “permanent alert” in the face of the financial cyber attack.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused rightwing forces of attempting to destabilize his government through financial "cyber sabotage" on Friday as payment terminals and electronic banking platforms began to present generalized technical failures around the country.

On Friday, citizens took to social media to denounce widespread difficulties making purchases with debit cards and electronic bank transfers. The incident follows isolated difficulties throughout the week and a sudden 300 percent increase in the black market value of the dollar since the beginning of November.

"I am here to denounce this economic, monetary coup d'etat, by international financial sectors and some national financial sectors," stated the president.

"Today we suffered an international cyber attack on the technological base platform of our internet, which... affected the entire capacity for internet transfers," he added.