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Thu, 25 Aug 2016
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Estimates show Saudi Arabia withdrew 70 billion from markets

© AFP
Saudi Arabia has withdrawn as much as $70 billion from global asset managers as OPEC's largest oil producer seeks to plug its budget deficit, according to financial services market intelligence company Insight Discovery.

"Fund managers we've spoken to estimate SAMA has pulled out between $50 billion to $70 billion from global asset managers over the past six months," Nigel Sillitoe, chief executive officer of the Dubai-based firm, said by telephone Monday. "Saudi Arabia is withdrawing funds because it's trying to cut its widening deficit and it's financing the war in Yemen," he said, declining to name the fund managers.

Eye 2

London is the world capital of drug trafficking and money laundering

© Rolling Stone/ Illustration by Victor Juhasz
As it appears from the report recently published by the Bank of England, half of British banknotes are used for money laundering by criminal structures, or circulate abroad. The British shadow economy covers, primarily, criminal activity which in addition to drug trafficking and prostitution, includes considerable monetary payments for such goods and services as, for example, construction works, which allows avoiding taxes. According to the British publication's estimates, the shadow economy makes up about 10% of the GDP of Great Britain.

The fact that London is the world capital of money laundering has already been mentioned in the British mass media. In particular, The Independent told its readers that billions of Pounds Sterling are laundered by criminals and foreign officials who buy expensive London real estate through offshore shell companies. Out of 36,342 private properties in London only recently bought through the shell companies from offshore zones, a huge number of the real estate was bought anonymously in order to hide stolen money.

According to London Police data, 75% of transactions on property are carried out through illicit companies by those persons, against whom criminal cases on charges of corruption were initiated. According to the information of the British Office of the Anti-Corruption Organization Transparency International, the flow of the "dirty money" led to an increase in average real estate prices in London and in its outskirts, thus an entire "world of expensive apartments and houses" that are inaccessible to ordinary people appeared.

Comment: Also see:


Bad Guys

Complete media silence while NATO violates Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons


Yesterday at Ramstein Air Base here in Germany, hundreds marched in protest of America's drone killing and warlike posture. Carrying signs demanding the U.S. military "to go home" and "to stop war," a crowd of Germans peacefully protested the military activities carried out from this key base. Growing anti-US sentiment in Germany is only an undercurrent now, but what about when Moscow targets American nukes the Pentagon is sending? What if Germans discovered the new nukes are first strike weapons?

Ironically, only Stars and Stripes carried the story of the anti-drone protests on Saturday, but stories of growing anti-American sentiment are purposefully underplayed in the western press. Take the news Bundeswehr air base in Buchel in western Germany has begun preparations for receiving 20 new B61-12 nuclear bombs, if Russia had not complained, then you'd have never heard tell of the move. You haven't heard, have you?

Against the will of the German people, against the German parliament's 2010 call to remove all such weapons from German soil, and even the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), NATO still insists. What's more frightening still, is the fact German nor European media has seen fit to report.

Comment: Also see:


Chess

Lavrov: West should respect UN authority, learn from past mistakes

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© RT
Washington and the US-led coalition have not learned the lessons of the past and keep undermining the United Nations' authority with unilateral anti-terrorist actions on Syrian soil, Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov told RT, urging the West to "harmonize" its actions with Damascus.

"Whenever people act bypassing the United Nations, whenever they try to use force, not asking the Security Council to consider a special situation and to issue a necessary mandate, people undermine the United Nations' authority," Lavrov said in an exclusive interview with RT on the sidelines of the 70th UN General Assembly in New York.

Comment: The horrific fact of the matter is that what any sane person considers a mistake, or even a tragedy, is not viewed in the same way by the psychopaths that Russia's leadership is addressing. But really, Lavrov and Putin clearly already know and understand this. They are, in reality, reaching out to anyone who'll listen; doing all that they can do to lead by example and make clear to the World of normal people what new evil is being faced.

Brings to mind what a particularly bright man once said on the subject of learning from past mistakes:

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Attention

Kadyrov tells it like it is: 'West's main target in Syria is Assad, not ISIS'

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© Zubair Bairakov / RIA Novosti
Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic.
The US and the EU cannot bring peace to the Mideast because instead of real action against Islamic State terrorists they prefer to talk about their desire to displace Syrian President Assad, the head of the Chechen Republic has told reporters.

"Today there are no more doubts that the main target of the West is Assad and not the 'Iblis State' terrorist organization," Ramzan Kadyrov told reporters on Tuesday, using wording suggested by Russian Muslim scholars to describe the group that calls itself Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

"Since the start of the armed support of the Syrian opposition by the United States and Europe and the beginning of air strikes on ISIS, the peace process has not advanced even one millimeter. On the contrary, Western forces cause tens of thousands of young men from all over the world to come to Syria and Iraq," the Chechen leader added.

Comment: Kadyrov is absolutely correct and echoes Putin's solution to the Syrian crises.


Attention

As Taliban captures Kunduz, Afghanistan, Putin asks the West 'Do you know what you have done?'

© Hekmat Aimaq/AP
Taliban fighters and young men take over an army truck on a street in Kunduz, north of Kabul, on Monday.
This morning, as world leaders prepared to address the United Nations General Assembly, in Afghanistan the Taliban stormed the city of Kunduz. If the Islamic State's capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul last year wasn't evidence enough of a failure of American foreign and military policy, the loss of Kunduz surely is.

Speaking to the UN, Russia's president Vladimir Putin made it clear that he believes that the Americans have only themselves to blame. The strength of the United Nations, Putin said, comes from taking different points of view into consideration. Unfortunately, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, those 'at the top of the pyramid' (i.e. the USA and its allies) felt that they knew best and did not need to bother with what others thought or with the UN. As a result, they weakened the rule of international law. Putin implied that the chaos engulfing much of the Middle East and Central Asia was entirely the Americans' fault (he carefully avoided mentioning the United States by name, but it was clear whom he was talking about).

Comment: Putin's U.N. General Assembly speech


Attention

Trouble in the Kingdom: Unhappy prince calling for Saudi Palace coup

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© AFP 2015/ Paul J. Rchards
Protesters stepping on picture of Saudi King Salman.
A senior Saudi prince has launched an extraordinary call to overthrow the leader of Saudi Arabia, King Salman, saying that his poor management of the state, along with dropping oil prices, the war in Yemen and the recent Hajj tragedy in Mecca is leading the country down the path of ruin.

The prince, one of the grandsons of the state's founder, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, was quoted by the Guardian saying that many within the Saudi royal family, and in turn the wider public, were unhappy with King Salman, who acceded the throne in January.

Comment: Saudi Arabia looks to be headed for quite a change in the not-to-distant future. See also: Sadistic Saudi princes and Washington warmongers Vs Russia's civilizing force


Card - VISA

Visa International to stop guaranteed service operations in Russia

© Jason Reed/Reuters
The Visa International payment system has notified Russian banks it will stop providing guaranteed service operations on their cards from October 1, Russian media reported.

"Visa announced that from October 1 it does not guarantee the processing of authorization requests for local operations [in Russia - Ed.]," the Russian daily Kommersant cited an unnamed source. In effect, Visa is avoiding the responsibility for refusing to process transactions, for which it would have to pay a new guarantee fee to Russia's Central Bank, the source added.

Visa confirmed it had notified the banks, according to Kommersant.

All Russian banks have to switch to Russia's national system of payment cards (NSPC) by October 1. As for international payment systems, those who want to work in Russia, have to transfer local processing operations to NSPC.

The system was established in 2014 to ensure smooth operation of electronic payments across Russia, after Visa and MasterCard blocked specific US-sanctioned Russian banks from using their payment systems.

MasterCard transferred the processing of Russian operations to the country's national payment system on time, thus avoiding penalties. Visa, however, failed to meet the deadline and had to pay a guarantee fee, which was later returned. The official size of the fee was not disclosed but experts estimated the sum at $50 million.

Since then, Russian banks have been working with Visa in two ways - directly and through NSPC. Nevertheless, according to the law, all card payments in the country should be made through NSPC starting next month.

The officials at NSPC along with market participants are confident that Visa's new approach won't lead to crashes in the system, according to Kommersant. A disclaimer of warranties from Visa "will not disrupt card holder's transactions", NSPC said.

Comment: See also:


Info

Russia hardly isolated: Ten facts about Russian exports

For one thing Russia now exports more agricultural products than weapons

When Russian goods exports come to mind, people tend to think of things like oil, gas, vodka and high-tech weaponry. But as Russia's Gazeta.ru has found, the country's exports are, in fact, becoming "sweeter and more peaceful."

Here are the top-10 most interesting facts about the shifting dynamic of Russian exports, according to the newspaper.

1. Despite arms exporters continuing to enjoy a cushy position among Russia's non energy-related export earnings, the country's exports are becoming more peaceful. Over the past year, Russian agricultural producers exported $20 billion worth of food goods, growing by 15 percent compared to the previous year, and leading agricultural products to outstrip weapons as a total share of exports.

2. Russia's T-90 main battle tank is one of the best-selling tanks in the world, with India alone expected to have 2,000 units in service by 2020, roughly half of them produced locally on export license. Other operators of the $2.5 million-a-piece tank include the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, along with developing countries in the Middle East and Africa, including Algeria and Uganda. Sales of Russian tanks and armored vehicles abroad far outstrip their American and German competitors, with Russia continuing to serve as the second-largest conventional arms exporter in the world after the United States.

Comment: It's becoming more obvious that the silly sanctions imposed by Western nations are not having the intended consequences, and have only served Russia by improving the country's self-sufficiency and helping to forge links with more reasonable nation-states.


Vader

Debacle, Inc.: How Henry Kissinger helped disorder the world

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The only person Henry Kissinger flattered more than President Richard Nixon was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. In the early 1970s, the Shah, sitting atop an enormous reserve of increasingly expensive oil and a key figure in Nixon and Kissinger's move into the Middle East, wanted to be dealt with as a serious person. He expected his country to be treated with the same respect Washington showed other key Cold War allies like West Germany and Great Britain. As Nixon's national security adviser and, after 1973, secretary of state, Kissinger's job was to pump up the Shah, to make him feel like he truly was the "king of kings." Reading the diplomatic record, it's hard not to imagine his weariness as he prepared for his sessions with the Shah, considering just what gestures and words would be needed to make it clear that his majesty truly mattered to Washington, that he was valued beyond compare. "Let's see," an aide who was helping Kissinger get ready for one such meeting said, "the Shah will want to talk about Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, the Kurds, and Brezhnev."

During another prep, Kissinger was told that "the Shah wants to ride in an F-14." Silence ensued. Then Kissinger began to think aloud about how to flatter the monarch into abandoning the idea. "We can say," he began, "that if he has his heart set on it, okay, but the President would feel easier if he didn't have that one worry in 10,000 [that the plane might crash]. The Shah will be flattered." Once, Nixon asked Kissinger to book the entertainer Danny Kaye for a private performance for the Shah and his wife.