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Mon, 28 Nov 2022
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Take 2

Russia's surprise military exercises alarm Black Sea neighbors

© Russian Ministry of Defense
Russia's Black Sea Fleet taking part in military exercises this week.
Russia's surprise, large-scale military exercises on the Black Sea are raising alarm among some of its neighbors. Russian President Vladimir Putin sprung the exercises on his military at 4 am Thursday and showed up in person, along with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, to observe the exercises on Friday. The exercises involve around 30 warships, 7,000 service-members and various armored vehicles and artillery.

But the Black Sea is a complex geopolitical environment: Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol, in on-again-off-again ally Ukraine. NATO members Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania also have naval forces on the sea, as of course does Russia's foe Georgia. So the international response to the exercise wasn't entirely positive. As RT put it, "The Russian naval drills came as a surprise not only to the Russian armed forces, but also for neighboring countries' militaries as well, which were forced to rub sleep from their eyes and rush to their duties as up to 30 Russian battleships left port."

Russian officials pointed out that there is nothing to prevent them from conducting these sorts of surprise drills. "According to international practice, exercises involving up to 7,000 people do not require us to inform our partners in advance," said Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.


Canadian government offers "bail-in" regime, prepares for the confiscation of bank deposits to bail out banks

Continuing my series of banks ready to "Cyprus" their depositors, I offer this reader contribution from Don from Canada 2013-03-29 23:11:
As part of the 2013 budget in Canada, the Minister of Finance tabled the Economic Action Plan 2013 which included the newest buzzword 'bail-in'.

Source: budget.gc.ca/.../...
Page 145

"The [Canadian] Government proposes to implement a "bail-in" regime for systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital. This will reduce risks for taxpayers. The Government will consult stakeholders on how best to implement a bail-in regime in Canada. Implementation timelines will allow for a smooth transition for affected institutions, investors and other market participants. Systemically important banks will continue to be subject to existing risk management requirements, including enhanced supervision and recovery and resolution plans.

This risk management framework will limit the unfair advantage that could be gained by Canada's systemically important banks through the mistaken belief by investors and other market participants that these institutions are 'too big to fail'."

A depositor is an unsecured creditor to a bank. The Canadian government presents its position to be one of shielding the taxpayer from the need to pay for bailing out a failing bank. As a taxpayer that is comforting.

However as a depositor, the phrase "rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital" concerns me. My deposit is the bank's liability. Could depositors' funds fall under the definition of 'certain bank liabilities'?

I searched the entire 442 page document and I cannot find where the term 'certain bank liabilities' is defined.

The prudent approach I believe would be to assume that under certain conditions, certain bank liabilities will include depositors' funds; at least those funds in excess of CAD 100,000 which is our so-called insured amount.

Even if it has noble intentions now, under a credit and derivatives collapse scenario, it is conceivable that the Canadian government could be coerced or bullied by external agents into grabbing depositors' funds just like what is happening in Cyprus.

I find the newest 'bail-in' term being used since the Cyprus debacle quite amusing. It reminds me of the 'sit-in' and 'love-in' terms of the peace/hippie generation.

We all seem to be floating on the bathwater of fiat currency liquidity. The tub is being drained at the opposite end from where we are floating. The EU is circling the drain. The central banks are feverishly trying to replenish the tub with thimbles full of water, but it appears inevitable that some will go down the drain, whilst others will be left high and dry. The central bankers only have thimbles, not a drain stopper.


The message sent by America's invisible victims

© Reuters/Ahmad Masood
Air strikes in Afghanistan killed 51 Afghan children in 2012, the UN report says.
As two more Afghan children are liberated (from their lives) by NATO this weekend, a new film examines the effects of endless US aggression

Yesterday I had the privilege to watch Dirty Wars, an upcoming film directed by Richard Rowley that chronicles the investigations of journalist Jeremy Scahill into America's global covert war under President Obama and specifically his ever-growing kill lists. I will write comprehensively about this film closer to the date when it and the book by the same name will be released. For now, it will suffice to say that the film is one of the most important I've seen in years: gripping and emotionally affecting in the extreme, with remarkable, news-breaking revelations even for those of us who have intensely followed these issues. The film won awards at Sundance and rave reviews in unlikely places such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. But for now, I want to focus on just one small aspect of what makes the film so crucial.

The most propagandistic aspect of the US War on Terror has been, and remains, that its victims are rendered invisible and voiceless. They are almost never named by newspapers. They and their surviving family members are virtually never heard from on television. The Bush and Obama DOJs have collaborated with federal judges to ensure that even those who everyone admits are completely innocent have no access to American courts and thus no means of having their stories heard or their rights vindicated. Radical secrecy theories and escalating attacks on whistleblowers push these victims further into the dark.

It is the ultimate tactic of Othering: concealing their humanity, enabling their dehumanization, by simply relegating them to nonexistence. As Ashleigh Banfield put it her 2003 speech denouncing US media coverage of the Iraq war just months before she was demoted and then fired by MSNBC: US media reports systematically exclude both the perspectives of "the other side" and the victims of American violence. Media outlets in predominantly Muslim countries certainly report on their plight, but US media outlets simply do not, which is one major reason for the disparity in worldviews between the two populations. They know what the US does in their part of the world, but Americans are kept deliberately ignorant of it.

Red Flag

West Virginia Judge suspended after 24 violations of state's judicial ethics rules

A West Virginia judge caught on video screaming furiously at litigants has been removed from the bench for the duration of his term.

The West Virginia Supreme Court on March 26 suspended Putnam County, W.Va., Family Court Judge William Watkins III without pay until December 2016, citing 24 violations of the state's judicial ethics rules.

The justices said that, while in court, Watkins shouted profanities at people and threatened litigants. On one occasion, he called a woman seeking a protective order against her husband "stupid," they said. He told her to shut up and criticized her for "shooting off [her] fat mouth about what happened."

The judge's conduct in a separate case was recorded on video and posted on YouTube in July.

Bad Guys

Stealing land: Israel gave less than 1% of seized West Bank to Palestinians

A Palestinian protestor waves his national flag amidst others throwing stones towards Israeli security forces during a demonstration against the closer of the main southwest entrance of the West Bank city of Hebron, which is situated near the Jewish settlement of Beit Hagai, in the occupied West Bank, on February 15, 2013.
The Israeli government has reported that only 0.7 percent of Israeli 'state land' in the West Bank has been given to Palestinians over the past three decades; around 38 percent was allocated to Jewish settlements, according to new evidence.

The Civil Administration, the organization responsible for distribution of Israeli 'state land,' released evidence to the High Court of Justice showing that the land allocation process has become politicized, Haaretz reported.

Israeli state land in the West Bank consists of 1.3 million dunams (approximately 325,000 acres), the majority of which is being used to expand Jewish settlements.

The information came to light after a failed attempt by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Bimkom (Planners for Planning Rights) to receive data from the Civil Administration on state lands in the West Bank, leading to a formal request for the court to intervene.

Comment: Not surprising, since stealing land and murdering its rightful owners was Israel's plan from the beginning. Read the following articles to learn more, including Ilan Pappé's book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

Israel's ethnic cleansing and apartheid in Palestine
65 years ago the green light for Zionism's ethnic cleansing of Palestine


Israeli commandos placed spying equipment in Syria in order to spy on Russian fleet

© Unknown
Listening devices in rocks?
Listening in? The UK's Sunday Times newspaper exposed what it claims are new details on what Syria states are "Israeli espionage measures" planted on Ant Island - a tiny island opposite Syria's Tartus Port.

According to the report on Sunday, divers from 'Shayetet 13', Israel's elite naval commando unit installed the equipment. They approached the island from one of the country's German-built Dolphin class submarines, which are armed with nuclear cruise missiles.

In early March, Al-Manar, a pro-Syrian Hezbollah affiliated television station in Lebanon, reported that the "rocks" could track and film Russian warship movements and instantly transmit pictures back to Israel by satellite.

Syria's state-run television showed a camera, a satellite dish and other objects including batteries and cables secreted among several imitation rocks.


Pakistan's underwater cable damaged: Internet speed plummets by 60% nationwide

© File
Major fiber optic cable in Arabian Sea develops fault.
Internet speed across Pakistan plummeted by nearly 60% on Wednesday when an underwater fiber optic cable was damaged in the Arabian Sea near Karachi.

South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE) 4, one of the four submarine cables that connects the country globally via the internet, was damaged around noon on Wednesday - only a couple of weeks following the breakdown of India-Middle East-Western Europe (I-ME-WE) fiber optic cable that has yet to be repaired.

As a result, internet services in the country will likely remain disrupted for an indefinite period. Internet service providers were unable to provide a timeframe on when the problem will be resolved.

Shortly after the disruption, internet users across Pakistan faced a host of problems ranging from intermittent to slow internet connectivity. Many complained that their browsing speed had decreased significantly.

"This is a result of a fault in the undersea cable line to Pakistan through Alexandria, Egypt. The fiber optic undersea cable SEA-ME-WE-4 was affected beyond Egypt for currently unknown reasons," Wateen Telecom said in a statement.

Comment: Meanwhile, on the same day, off the coast of Egypt...

March 27, 2013: Egypt: Naval forces capture 3 scuba divers trying to sabotage undersea Internet cable

Then just over a year ago, we reported on another spate of undersea cable cuts...

March 3, 2012: Undersea Internet Cables Cut AGAIN!

Between this and the hysteria being whipped up around North Korea's counter-provocations, just what are the Powers That Be up to?

Perhaps their military satellites (the ones they don't share data from) have picked up an imminent cosmic hazard, so they're cooking up a diversion they hope will keep the masses under control?...


Obama signature on Monsanto Protection Act ignites massive activism

Comment: Yet another of Obama's broken promises.

Of course he and his family would never eat GM food, but he will gladly sell the American people - all people everywhere, in fact - to those who play god with the global food supply and the very seeds of life.

Check out our recent discussion of Monsanto and GMOs on SOTT Talk Radio:

SOTT Talk Radio: Paleo food - Staying Healthy in a GMO world

Star of David

Anonymous, RedHack breach Mossad servers, hackers claim

© Screengrab/Screengrab
One of the several websites hacked by LANMIN3 - a pro-Palestinian web activist seemingly based in Algeria.
As the planned revitalization of OpIsrael looms, hackers claim to have gained access to servers used by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

A number of hacker groups, including factions within Anonymous, claim to have gained access to servers used by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, stealing personal information of more than 30,000 individuals belonging to several sectors of the Israeli government, as well as several nongovernmental organizations.

RedHack, a Turkey-based Marxist hacker group, specifically claimed responsibility for the release of the personal information, which included phone numbers, emails and addresses. RedHack said the information belongs to Mossad intelligence officers, as well as informants handled by Israeli officers.

"Yes, we realize we are sailing in dangerous water but we like swimming," tweeted RedHack_EN, an English Language account used by the Turkish hacker group. In the same tweet, RedHack_EN posted links to spreadsheets containing the information.

Bad Guys

Walmart's death grip on groceries is making life worse for millions of people

© Jennifer Cowley / Flickr
Walmart's growing control of our food system has been to intensify the rural and urban poverty that drives unhealthy food choices.

When Michelle Obama visited a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, a few weeks ago to praise the company's efforts to sell healthier food, she did not say why she chose a store in Springfield of all cities. But, in ways that Obama surely did not intend, it was a fitting choice. This Midwestern city provides a chilling look at where Walmart wants to take our food system.

Springfield is one of nearly 40 metro areas where Walmart now captures about half or more of consumer spending on groceries, according to Metro Market Studies. Springfield area residents spend just over $1 billion on groceries each year, and one of every two of those dollars flows into a Walmart cash register. The chain has 20 stores in the area and shows no signs of slowing its growth. Its latest proposal, a store just south of the city's downtown, has provoked widespread protest. Opponents say Walmart already has an overbearing presence in the region and argue that this new store would undermine nearby grocery stores, including a 63-year-old family-owned business which still provides delivery for its elderly customers. A few days before the First Lady's visit, the City Council voted 5-4 to approve what will be Walmart's 21st store in the community.