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Fri, 23 Jun 2017
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Tillerson calls for regime change; Iran furious at 'brazen interventionist plan'

© Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters
Iran has accused the United States of interfering in its domestic affairs after calls by the US Secretary of State to support "elements" that would ensure a "peaceful transition" in the Islamic Republic. Tehran also officially delivered a note of protest to the UN.

Speaking last Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rex Tillerson said Washington will support efforts of a regime change in Iran.
"Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop obviously nuclear weapons, and to work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know," Tillerson said on June 14.
In addition to voicing Washington's apparent support of a regime change, Tillerson also said the US could pursue sanctions on Iran's entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Tillerson's remarks sparked an avalanche of criticism and condemnation from Iran.

Comment: Is the Trump holding pattern dissipating or is Tillerson, low-key, voicing what the House of Representatives expects to hear? The pressure on the US to goad Iran has always been the demand of Israel -- currently seeing an opportunity to go for the jugular at the US' expense.


Lavrov: US still owes explanation over downing of Syrian jet

© Al-Masdar News
Moscow is still waiting for an explanation from Washington about the downing of a Syrian warplane, the Russian Foreign minister has said after talks with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. Sergey Lavrov also expressed hope that US actions won't undermine anti-terrorist efforts in Syria.
"There is a mechanism [to avoid Syria airspace incidents between Russia and US] that is now suspended after the US shot down that plane," Lavrov told reporters. "We have requested a detailed explanation through the Ministry of Defense. We expect that it will be provided."
© Daily Mail
French FM Jean-Yves LeDrian
The US-led coalition shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet over the province of Raqqa on Sunday saying it allegedly dropped bombs on the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia. The Syrian government countered that it was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

This incident, considered an act of aggression and a violation of sovereignty by Moscow and Damascus, led to the Russian Defense Ministry suspending cooperation with its US counterparts within the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria.

Lavrov added that he hopes the American-led coalition's efforts in Syria will not undermine the Syrian government's struggle against terrorism.

Comment: See also:

Light Sabers

Xi Jinping: Russia-China alliance will remake the world

Xi Jinping addresses celebration of Communist Party 95th anniversary
Xi Jinping: Russia and China can create an alliance before which NATO will be powerless

Chairman of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping in his speech on July 1* noted the strategic need for an alliance between Russia and China, which in his opinion will determine the future world order.
"The world is on the verge of radical change. We see how the EU is gradually collapsing, how the US economy is crashing, and all this will end with a new world order. So, as never before, in 10 years we will have a new world order, in which the tandem of China and Russia will be the key," Xi Jinping said.

Comment: See also: How Russia and China are creating a New World Order


Wikileaks: Clinton-Mueller-Russian 'special delivery 2009' uranium ties surface

© Truthfeed/KJN
Toxic Combination
Secret 'plane-side tarmac meeting' returns confiscation cache

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton facilitated the transfer of highly enriched uranium (HEU) previously confiscated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) during a 2006 "nuclear smuggling sting operation involving one Russian national and several Georgian accomplices," a newly leaked classified cable shows.

So-called 'background' information was provided in the cable which gave vague details on a 2006 nuclear smuggling sting operation in which the U.S. government took possession of some HEU previously owned by the Russians.

The secret 'action request,' dated Aug. 17, 2009, was sent out by Secretary of State Clinton and was addressed to the United States Ambassador to Georgia Embassy Tbilisi, the Russian Embassy, and Ambassador John Beyrle. It proposed that FBI Director Robert Mueller be the one that personally conduct the transfer a 10-gram sample of HEU to Russian law enforcement sources during a secret 'plane-side' meeting on a 'tarmac' in the early fall of 2009.
© Wikileaks

Comment: Not Hillary's first encounter with uranium and Russia, the importance of returning a HEU sample has been overblown. The question surrounds the clandestine delivery and why then FBI Director Mueller was tagged for the job.


Corbyn criticizes the 'government without a majority' for its 'thin gruel' Queen's Speech

© Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has criticized the "threadbare legislative program" offered up by UK Prime Minister Theresa May's "government without a majority" and declared his own party is ready to lead Britain instead. As a 'Day of Rage' protest marched to Westminster, the Labour leader tore into the prime minister's plans for two years of government in the House of Commons.

A number of Tory manifesto pledges including fox hunting, grammar schools, and the controversial dementia tax were canned. Nearly a third of the bills are designed to deal with Brexit alone. Taunting May for shelving her pledge to scrap infants' free school lunches, Corbyn asked her to "confirm food is not after all going to be taken from the mouths of infants."

Comment: A strong start for Corbyn.


Why the Saudi shake-up is good for China and Russia

© AP Photo/ Mikhail Klimentyev
Newly appointed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been the chief point of contact for Russia and China for important military, energy, and economic investment dealings with the Kingdom.

Royal Intrigue

Let's get everything out of the way before we begin - Mohammed bin Salman is reviled by many abroad, and especially in the Middle East, for his disastrous War on Yemen and unbridled bullying of Qatar. He's been a deleteriously disruptive force since becoming Defense Minister in January 2015, and it's easy to understand why he doesn't have many supporters outside his country. Mohammed bin Salman's military policies have rightly attracted strong criticism for their wanton use of force and bullying, and his efforts to forge an anti-Iranian "Arab NATO"have thus far been spectacularly in vain.

This young "warrior prince" - as the 31-year-old has been called by some - is prone to rash decision-making and high-risks gambles, all of which have thus far failed to achieve any of their objectives. This is disturbing to many observers because of the unparalleled influence that he's believed to wield on his father King Salman, whom some people have speculated might be suffering from a mentally degenerative disease which has all but made Mohammed bin Salman the "grey cardinal" of Saudi Arabia. Such suggestions appear to have been confirmed by King Salman's sacking of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from both his second-in-line spot for the throne and the important position that he previously wielded as Interior Minister.

While such a move was anticipated by many for a while already, the timing of it caught a lot of people off guard, given the regional uncertainty that Saudi Arabia finds itself in the center of, ironically by its very own hand. Questions are swirling in certain social media circles over whether Mohammed bin Nayef is capable of staging a "counter-coup" to reclaim his right to the throne and depose the up-and-coming "warrior prince," whom some sources have alleged is unpopular among some members of the royal family due to the gaping wound that he's inflicted on the Kingdom's coffers as a result of the War on Yemen. Nevertheless, such worries were likely quashed by Mohammed bin Nayef's dismissal from the influential and powerful position of Interior Minister, and the succession shake-up appears to have gone smoothly.


Public outcry forces government hand: Homeless Grenfell Tower survivors to be rehoused in 68 luxury Kensington flats

© Metropolitan Police / Reuters
An apartment inside Grenfell Tower in north Kensington
Survivors of London's Grenfell Tower fire will be rehomed in a luxury housing development in the heart of Kensington, the government has announced, following massive public outcry over its "slow" and "chaotic" response to the disaster.

Sixty-eight apartments, including one, two and three-bedroom flats, have been acquired at the newly-built Kensington Row by The City of London Corporation. The development is part of a £2 billion (US$2.5 billion) regeneration project owned by the Berkley Group.

The move comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for empty luxury properties in Kensington to be taken over by the government to house victims.


More powerful than Leningrad Siege! Russia on its knees after new sanctions target motorcycle club and Crimea "cheerleaders"

Banned from using Bank of America ATMs?
Good morning from Moscow. Today is June 21, 2017.

Pour yourself a caffeinated beverage and let's get this party started.

The morning's top story: Double-secret KGB sleeper cell agent Donald Trump added 38 individuals and companies to the always-growing list of Russia sanctions. At this rate, sanctioning Russia will become a US presidential tradition, like the annual Turkey Pardon or bombing defenseless brown people.

At any rate, the latest victims of US sanctions include: Bridge builders, tourism initiatives, and a motorcycle club that Putin likes.

Actually, there does seem to be a common theme to this latest batch of sanctions: Anyone who directly or indirectly supports Crimea's right to self-determination will be punished by the US Treasury Department.


Ron Paul: US had no right to fly into Syrian airspace - should mind its own business

© U.S. Air Force / Reuters
U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles
The US has no right to fly into Syrian airspace where it shouldn't be and set boundaries but should mind its own business. Otherwise, it is an act of aggression, says former US Congressman Ron Paul.

The US fighter jet downed an armed drone belonging to pro-Syrian government forces in southern Syria, near a base in the al-Tanf region, on June, 20 as the drone was advancing on US-backed forces, according to a coalition statement.

This is happening at a time of escalating tension between Moscow and Washington. Also on Tuesday, Australia said it is temporarily suspending air operations in Syria.

Apple Red

Just deserts? Special counsel may probe Obama Team's obstruction of justice

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch
By using fired FBI Director James Comey to attack the new Republican administration, Democrats have opened up a legal can of worms for the Obama administration.

Under sworn questioning, Comey has veered off the topic of President Trump and Russia and revealed several damning incidents in which his predecessor's administration politically interfered in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. And now the Senate will investigate Team Obama for obstruction of justice.

Specifically, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced last week it will hold hearings to "examine then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch's involvement in the Clinton email server investigation."

The findings of the powerful panel, which has oversight of the Justice Department and FBI, could lead to a separate criminal investigation and the naming of another special counsel — exactly what Trump needs to distract attention from his growing legal woes.

Comment: Intentional on Comey's part? If so, he's proven himself a true FBI director: hedging bets and keeping dirt on everyone.