Welcome to Sott.net
Wed, 29 Mar 2017
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters
Map

Radar

Russia and China to launch joint naval exercise in South China Sea

© Roman Kosarev / RT
Russia and China are launching an eight-day naval exercise in the South China Sea on Monday. The drills will include anti-submarine warfare, vessel rescue, joint air defense, and taking an island with amphibious and airborne troops.

The South China Sea is a major trade route, as well as a source of regional tension, with several powers, including China, contesting sovereignty over parts of the sea. The Russian-Chinese drill, which is being held off China's southern Guangdong Province, is not directed against any third party, the two countries' militaries said.

"Our cooperation is not aimed against anyone and is meant to protect our mutual interest and ensure security in all naval regions. It's good to have two powerful nations cooperate," said Admiral Aleksandr Fedotenkov, deputy commander of the Russian Navy.

Both countries provided Navy surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters, and armored amphibious equipment, said Chinese Navy spokesperson Liang Yang.

Comment: Seems like the message to any interested observers is that if anyone is considering confronting China in the South China Sea, they are also going to have to deal with Russia. Whether that's actually something that would happen is another thing, but they are clearly trying to give that impression.


Eye 1

Calm before storm, pressure mounts as MSM admits Clinton's health is 'campaign issue' that can no longer be ignored

Hillary Clinton's admission that she has pneumonia after allegedly becoming "overheated" at a 9/11 event has even some in MSM acknowledging that the issue of the Democratic candidate's health can no longer be ignored, as her tour has been put on hold.

While Republican candidate Donald Trump's Twitter account was silent following the news of Clinton's diagnosis, the revelation coincided with a political "ceasefire" that the two campaigns had agreed upon so that the 15th anniversary of the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks could be observed in peace. Trump was "not planning to tweet," Washington Post's Robert Costa reported, citing two Trump advisers, but he and his aides were still "closely monitoring HRC news."

With Hillary's health problems, both confirmed and perceived, one of Trump's recurrent arguments as to why his rival is "unfit and incapable" of being the next US president, it took only a matter of hours for things to get "pretty aggressive on the campaign trail," RT America's host and political commentator Ed Schultz noted.

It is not just the physical capability of the candidate that has been called into question amid a rigorous campaign tour schedule, but the fact that Clinton's illness remained undisclosed up until the moment that she had to be evacuated from the 9/11 remembrance ceremony.

Comment: Killary is going downhill fast. It doesn't sound like she'll last until the pre-election debates.

See also: UPDATE: Hillary Clinton 'overheated' at 9/11 ceremony in NYC


Rocket

The geopolitics of North Korea's bomb

© KCNA / Reuters
Back in February, shortly after North Korea launched a satellite into space, I wrote an article for Sputnik in which I lamented the total absence of Western diplomatic engagement with North Korea.

I pointed out that endless angry rhetoric and sanctions extending back to the Korean war of the 1950s have completely failed to achieve their stated purposes: the North Korean regime is still there, it has not changed or moderated itself or its policies in any way, and so far from its ending its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, those are racing ahead.

I also pointed out that any idea that North Korea would now willingly abandon the nuclear weapons technology it has acquired after so much effort is simply delusional. Having worked for decades to achieve a nuclear weapons capability in the teeth of Western hostility and Western sanctions, it is not going to give it up.

Insisting that North Korea part with its nuclear weapons technology, and making that a condition for any engagement with North Korea, is simply a guarantee that no such engagement will take place.

The latest nuclear test in North Korea - the most powerful yet - merely provides further confirmation of all of this.

Since the West refuses to talk to North Korea, or come to any sort of agreement with it which does not involve North Korea's total capitulation to Western demands, the North Koreans have no incentive to change their behaviour or to rein in their nuclear weapons programme.

To be clear, whilst there is no possibility of the North Koreans now giving up the nuclear weapons capability they already have, there might be a possibility that in return for some meaningful concessions from the West - for example involving an easing of sanctions or some sort of confidence building measures on the North Korean peninsula of the sort that worked well in Europe during the Cold War - they might be prepared to place some limits on it.

Comment: It's pretty unlikely that China and Russia would be unwittingly drawn into an 'uncontrolled nuclear arms race'. Both countries utilize very careful and deliberate planning for their strategies and policies. Japan under crazy Abe is, however, a different story. At first glance Japan might seem the least likely to be a threat because of their WWII agreement to not produce nuclear weapons. Yet, under US influence Japan is being driven toward rapid military development. See:

US continues to push Japan to war against China
Japan planning to deploy new missiles in East China Sea by 2023
Preparing for war: Japanese military asks for record $50bn defense budget to oppose China, N. Korea

Not all hope is lost though. It's worth noting that the development of relations between Russia and Japan could provide a smidgen of hope for rationality to prevail. US dominance will not see this favorably, but all empires do fall at some point.

Putin and Abe want a positive 'New Era' in Russia-Japan relations
The necessary rapprochement between Russia and Japan


Map

25 years since collapse of USSR created 25 years of global instability

© Vladimir Vyatkin / Sputnik
Yes, you have read the title of this article correctly. And no, this is not a press release by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

What this is, however, is an article documenting what has happened on the international stage since, and as a consequence of, the USSR's demise, 25 years ago - an event which continues to affect the lives of ordinary people across the world, whether they are aware of it or not, and whether they like it or not.

This article stands diametrically opposed to the West's standard narrative of the USSR, and it is this which makes this article particularly pertinent today, given that the West's portrayal of itself as the "foundation of global peace and stability" has come to be exposed as nothing more than a façade and a manipulative lie. With that in mind, I ask of you, the reader, to be open-minded when reading this article and to set aside what Western politicians and mainstream journalists have constantly told you about the Soviet Union - a country which, amongst many other achievements, secured the victory over Nazism in the Second World War. As Winston Churchill wrote, it was the USSR that "tore the guts out of the Nazi war machine."

Stock Down

Worst day for world stock markets since June's Brexit referendum after Fed discusses possibility of rate hike

© Brendan McDermid / Reuters
Global markets were falling on Monday over speculation about an imminent rate hike in the United States. This is the worst day for markets around the world since the Brexit referendum in June.

During afternoon trading in Europe, the British FTSE 100 index was down 2.60 percent, Germany's DAX was losing 2.65 percent, while France's CAC 40 slid three percent. The pan-European Stoxx 600 is starting the week with a 1.7 percent loss.


Comment: Clearly the market isn't strong enough to handle an actual rate hike if mere rumors get this kind of reaction. From a recent Zero Hedge article:
For the sixth year running, exuberant GDP growth projections have been drastically marked down to a new normal low. But this year is different, not only have 2016 GDP growth expectations been marked down to post-crisis lows, but The Fed - in all its wisdom - is determined to raise rates (twice if you believe them) because, in their own words"the economy is in good shape and headed in the right direction..."

Does this look like the right time raise rates?



Whistle

Russian Defense Ministry announces Syrian ceasefire to come into effect at 16:00 GMT

© Mikhail Alaeddin / Sputnik
The Russian and US-brokered nationwide ceasefire in Syria is due to come into effect at 16:00 GMT, the Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed. It added that Russia will continue airstrikes targeting terrorists.

The Russian Defense Ministry says that airstrikes against terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front will go ahead, since they are not part of the brokered agreement.

Moscow also says that the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria has established special monitoring groups in all Syrian provinces to observe the cessation of hostilities.

According to Moscow, a joint US-Russian Coordination Center will be established to decide on airstrikes conducted by US-led coalition planes and the Russian Air Force.

Comment: See also: The US does not want a ceasefire in Syria -- it wants breathing room


Network

Baghdad hoping for help from Russia to defeat Daesh in Mosul

© REUTERS/ Ahmed Saad
Baghdad hopes that Moscow will continue to provide Iraqi security forces intelligence data on the location of Daesh militants and their capabilities during the upcoming operation to free Mosul, the second largest city in the country seized by the group in 2014, Izvestiya reported, citing an unnamed source in the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Our troops received all the necessary information from the coordination center in Baghdad that comprises experts from Iraq, Russia and Iran to prepare and carry out military operations. This data has helped us to conduct a significantly more efficient anti-Daesh offensive than if our troops acted solely on the basis of their own intelligence," the diplomat said.

"I hope that this cooperation will continue during the operation aimed at freeing Mosul."

Like Raqqa in Syria, Mosul has served as Daesh's stronghold in Iraq since early 2014. The brutal group captured the city on July 10, 2014, in a blitz offensive on northern Iraq. Mosul is the last large city under the group's control in the country.

Bad Guys

CIA chief calls Russia a 'formidable adversary' that the US has to cooperate with

© Chip Somodevilla / AFP
Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan
CIA Director John Brennan called Russia a "formidable adversary" that challenges the US in a "number of areas," like cyberspace, while admitting it is essential to get along with Moscow, as it has a "vested interest" in stability and defeating terrorism.

In an interview with CBC on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the US intelligence chief described Russia as a "world power" with vast military potential, which plays a very active role internationally.

"So, Russia is a formidable adversary in a number of areas," he said, in answering a question from CBC's John Dickerson's on whether and to what extent Russia poses a threat to US national security.

Brennan believes the fact that Russia and the US are competitors does not rule out their working together to resolve a number of the most pressing international issues, in particular, putting an end to the protracted conflict in Syria by pushing the Syrian government to comply with the demands of the US-Russia deal.

The US-Russia brokered agreement envisages a long-term nationwide ceasefire and the establishment of a joint implementation center, where experts from both countries will work to distinguish hardline militants, like Al-Nusra terrorists, from so-called "moderate rebels." The first step in its implementation is a preliminary 48-hour truce, which came into effect on Monday.

The agreement will also see Moscow and Washington coordinate airstrikes on terrorist targets in Syria.

Russia has a "vested interest in trying to bring stability and trying to dismantle these terrorist organizations," Brennan acknowledged, while noting the importance of Russia's contribution to fighting terrorism.

Comment: See also:


Che Guevara

Jill Stein pledges new investigation into 9/11 attacks if elected president

© AP Photo/ Alex Brandon
US Green Party Presidential bid Jill Stein claimed that as an elected president she would launch a new investigation into the 9/11 attacks, because the probe carried out during the George W. Bush Administration "defrauded the nation."

In a statement published on her campaign site, Stein said that Americans "want and deserve a comprehensive and independent" probe into the 9/11, which they haven't gotten so far.

​"The Bush Administration initially said an inquiry was unnecessary, claiming that the perpetrators had been identified and their methods and motives were clear," she said of the 9/11 Commission study.

The report conducted by 9/11 Commission in 2004 that the attacks happened because of the failures by both the FBI and the CIA, which had fallen short of acting wiser and aggressively to prevent the tragedy. Stein said that the paper had scores of "omissions and distortions" that, in fact, worked to whitewash the facts.

Snakes in Suits

About time and good riddance: David Cameron to quit as Conservative MP immediately

Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to stand down as an MP, triggering a by-election in his Oxfordshire seat of Witney.

Mr. Cameron, who resigned as prime minister after June's EU referendum, said he did not want to be a "distraction" for new PM Theresa May.

He had said he would continue as an MP until the next general election.

The 49-year-old, who has represented Witney since 2001, became Conservative leader in 2005 and PM in 2010.