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Wed, 21 Nov 2018
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Star of David

Annexing is fine when we do it: US officially recognizes Golan Heights as Israeli territory

israeli tank
© Reuters/Amir Cohen
Israeli tank parked in Golan Heights
Israel said its sovereignty over the Golan Heights is permanent, after the US for the first time rejected a symbolic UN resolution that calls on the Jewish state to end its occupation of the Syrian territory it captured in 1967.

"Israel will remain forever on the Golan Heights, and the Golan Heights will forever remain in our hands," Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, thanking the US leadership for voting against calls at the United Nations on Friday for the return of the Golan to Syria.

Netanyahu noted that Israel has been working with the US "for some time" towards the abandonment of Washington's passive support for the non-binding resolution titled "The occupied Syrian Golan." Previous US leadership had abstained from the vote on the symbolic document but, this year, under Donald Trump, the US became the only state to vote 'No' alongside Israel. However, with 151 votes in favor and 14 abstentions, the Special Political and Decolonization Committee's resolution passed anyway.

The document demands the end of Israeli occupation of the Golan while urging Tel Aviv to refrain from establishing settlements and from imposing Israeli citizenship on Syrians living there.

Comment: There goes the 'Russia bad because Crimea annexation' rationale for sanctioning and threatening war with Russia.

The US just gave Netanyahu his 'My Precious' moment.

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Light Saber

Germany sanctions Saudi Arabia for murdering journalist Khashoggi - Fully halt arms exports, slaps travel bans on 18 Saudis

© Reuters
German Chancellor Merkel and Saudi officials
Germany has imposed travel bans on 18 Saudis suspected of involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, after its economic ministry confirmed all the arms deals with Riyadh have been fully canceled.

The country's foreign ministry announced that the sanctions were imposed in coordination with France and Britain. The 18 individuals will be banned from entering all 26 Schengen Area countries.

None have been named due to German privacy law, but the list more than likely includes some of the same individuals sanctioned by the US government last week. Among those sanctioned by the US are Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, who Turkish authorities believe led a 15-man 'kill team' to Istanbul to murder Khashoggi, Saudi Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi, and Mustafa al-Madani, a middle-aged man who was seen leaving the Saudi consulate after Khashoggi's death, wearing the deceased journalist's clothes.

The news came almost one month after German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her country would stop supplying weapons to Riyadh "under current circumstances" - referring to the investigation into Khashoggi's death.

Comment: Good for her.

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Operation 'No deal'? UK's army braces for Brexit chaos, May faces fierce rejection of 'divorce' plan

Brit soldiers patrol
© AFP/Odd Andersen
British soldiers patrolling London's Heathrow airport.
The military is reportedly drafting contingency plans that could see British troops deployed in the streets, as the prospects of a chaotic Brexit seem increasingly realistic, with Theresa May facing a potential no-confidence vote.

"About 20 officers who normally oversee Operation Temperer... were ordered last week to step up no-deal Brexit planning," the Sunday Times reported, citing a well-placed military source.

While Operation Temperer officers are reserved as a response to terror attacks, this time they were tasked with devising a strategy to maintain public order and secure the flow of medical supplies to hospitals. As many as 10,000 members of the military could be deployed on British streets should UK exit the EU on March 29 with no deal with Brussels.

Comment: Contingency plans in anticipation of chaos. Has it really come to this?

Recent deployments of the UK Army as part of the ongoing Operation Temperer include the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing (May 23, 2017) and the Parsons Green bombing (September 15, 2017).


Sri Lanka shocked by display of flying fists and pelted bottles from warring politicians

Sri Lanka parliament skuffle
© Reuters
A pro-Rajapaksa member of parliament confronts police escorting the house’s speaker.
In 1987 grenades ripped through Sri Lanka's parliament, killing two people and narrowly missing the country's president and prime minister.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, who until three weeks ago occupied the prime minister's office, had been in the building that day, he reminded journalists on Friday. "I've been here when a bomb was thrown," he said. Even so, the scenes in Sri Lanka's parliament this past week have been shocking, he said. "This is the breaking-up of parliament by a group of people claiming to be the government."

A few hours earlier, legislators allied to Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country's former strongman president, had trashed Sri Lanka's national assembly, attacking police officers with fists, chairs, even a copy of the country's constitution, and dousing opposing lawmakers with streams of water mixed with chili.

During a parliamentary brawl the previous day, an MP allied to Wickremesinghe had appeared to brandish a knife at opponents. It had actually been a steel letter opener, the MP clarified on Friday.

The fighting, broadcast around the world, graphically illustrated a crisis that has left the Indian Ocean island without an agreed prime minister or cabinet, a currency at record lows, and a paralysed civil service.

Comment: More from RT:
Rajapaksa loyalist Dilum Amunugama was cut as he tried to take the speaker's microphone and was later admitted to a nearby hospital in Colombo. Some MPs reportedly threw wastepaper baskets and water bottles.

Meanwhile, MPs Ranjan Ramanayake and Palitha Thewarapperuma reportedly threatened other lawmakers with a knife.

"Both Ranjan Ramanayake and Palitha Thewarapperuma threatened me with a knife inside the chamber. When I brought Speaker's attention to this, he said not knives but swords should be brought in because of the current state of affairs," MP Indika Anuruddha said, as quoted by local news outlet the Daily Mirror. He added that he has filed a police complaint.

Despite the utter chaos, Speaker Jayasuriya appears to look amused at one point - even though the whole incident started by people running at him.

The Sri Lankan government has been in turmoil since President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe for trying to implement a "new, extreme, liberal political concept" and neglecting the desires of the people.

The president replaced the ousted prime minister with Rajapaksa, but parliament passed a no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa in a voice vote on Wednesday, followed by a signed document. However, President Sirisena said he could not accept that vote as it appeared to ignore the constitution, parliamentary procedure, and tradition.


Yemen: Houthis ready to comply with broader ceasefire if 'Saudi-led coalition wants peace'

Yemeni tribesmen
© AP/Hani Mohammed
Yemeni tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels
Yemen's Houthi movement announced that it was ready for a broader ceasefire if "the Saudi-led coalition wants peace."

The Yemeni Houthi rebels said on Monday that they are ready to declare ceasefire with the Saudi-led coalition and peaceful settlement of the crisis, the Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee said in a statement, obtained by Sputnik:
"We declare our initiative to call on the official Yemeni authorities to stop launching rockets and drones against the aggressor states of the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their Yemeni allies, in order to deprive them of any excuses to continue the aggression or blockade, [we] are ready to freeze and stop military operations on all fronts and come to a fair peace."
The group also said it was ready for a broader ceasefire if "the Saudi-led coalition wants peace," according to Reuters.

Comment: Was the war worth it...for the Houthi? the Saudis? the Yemeni people? What was accomplished for the horrible human price?


Ditching the dollar, China seals currency swap deal with Indonesia

Shredding dollar
© Getty Images
A bilateral currency swap agreement worth $28.81 billion has been clinched between China and Indonesia, China's central bank announced on Monday.

According to the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the three-year deal is aimed at facilitating bilateral trade, boosting mutual investments, and maintaining financial market stability. It will reportedly allow the partners to swap a total of 200 billion yuan for 440 trillion Indonesian rupiah, and vice versa.

The deal, signed at the annual meeting of leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), comes as an extension of the previously sealed agreement and doubles the amount of local currency exchanged between the central banks of the two countries.

Comment: Deals like this one are adding to a global monetary reset and exclusion of the dollar.


UK FM Hunt will make his first visit to Iran, discuss the nuclear deal

Jeremy Hunt
© AP/Matt Dunham
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jeremy Hunt
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt will visit Iran on Monday for the first time since his appointment to discuss various issues, including the future of the 2015 nuclear deal with the Iranian government.

According to the UK Foreign Secretary's Office, he will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and stress that London will stick to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as long as Iran is committed to following the terms of the deal, CNBC reported. Hunt said in a statement ahead of the visit:
"We will stick to our side of the bargain as long as Iran does. But we also need to see an end to destabilising activity by Iran in the rest of the region if we are going to tackle the root causes of the challenges the region faces,"
Hunt also noted that he would be willing to discuss the coming peace talks aimed at ending the conflict in Yemen. He will urge the Iranian government to "halt supplies and give its full backing to coming peace talks in Stockholm," the UK Foreign Office said, cited by The Independent.

The UK Foreign Secretary also stated that
"the Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearized Iran. It needs 100 percent compliance through to survive".
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump was reportedly infuriated that the UK had decided not to exit the Iranian deal and didn't join the US in introducing sanctions on Iran's economy. He allegedly berated British Prime Minister Theresa May over the UK's stance when she telephoned to congratulate him on the Republicans' success in the midterm elections.

The US decided to withdraw from the JCPOA in May, reimposing sanctions on Iran in August and November. The other signatories - Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany - have repeatedly stressed that Iran is compliant with the agreement, as has the UN nuclear watchdog. The European Union is developing commercial mechanisms aimed at compensating firms that are affected by the American sanctions.

Control Panel

Italy and other EU countries are throwing down the gauntlet in challenge to Brussels' diktats

Italy's Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte l
The EU has had a lot of trouble on its hands, as its members, such as Poland and Hungary, are openly challenging the established order. This time it's a very serious situation, because Brussels is facing defiance from Italy, the 3rd largest national economy in the eurozone and the 8th largest global economy in terms of nominal GDP. It has a population of over 60 million. It is also a Europhile country and the bloc's founding member.

The Italian government has rejected the EU's calls to revise its draft budget for 2019 that includes a 2.4% deficit of GDP, which could dangerously boost the nation's public debt. The ruling coalition in Rome, which is made up of the League and the populist Five Star Movement, has decided to increase borrowing so that it can fund its campaign promises, such as lowering the retirement age and increasing welfare payments.

Stock Down

Whistleblower exposes biggest money laundering scandal in European history involving Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Danske Bank

Deutsche Bank
Just when Deutsche Bank probably thought the worst of its legal troubles (over the Libor scandal, sales of shoddy mortgage-backed securities, FX and precious metal rigging which collective resulted in tens of billions in legal fines) were behind it, the struggling German lender is being drawn deeper into the biggest money laundering scandal in European history.

Following reports over the weekend that Deutsche, JPM and Bank of America had been approached by federal investigators about their correspondent banking business's involvement in clearing transactions for Danske Bank's Estonian branch, the whistleblower who helped blow the lid off Danske's $234 billion money laundering scandal said during testimony to the Danish Parliament that $150 billion of the money had been cleared by a large European lender, stopping short of naming Deutsche, likely to respect confidentiality rules governing the whistleblower's work at Danske. Incidentally, as Bloomberg adds citing a "person familiar", the unnamed bank is Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche continued to clear transactions for Danske's Estonia branch until 2015, two years after JPM had ended its correspondent banking relationship with Danske's Estonia branch over AML concerns. The suspicious funds flowed through Danske between 2007 and 2015 before Denmark's largest lender closed its non-resident portfolio over AML concerns.

Comment: Interestingly, the collapse of the banking giants occurred in 2007/2008.

Comment: See also:

Magic Hat

Trump sets off another Twitter storm after twisting Democrat Schiff's name in fiery post: 'Little Schitt'

Adam Schiff Trump
© Reuters / Jim Bourg / Kevin Lamarque
Congressman Adam Schiff (L), President Donald Trump (R)
Congressman Adam Schiff has become the latest US politician to get a profane nickname from Donald Trump after the president labeled him "little Adam Schitt," sending Twitter into convulsions.

"So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate," Trump tweeted on Sunday, twisting the congressman's last name. Schiff is "not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!"