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Fri, 30 Sep 2022
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Russia: Gorbachev Talks! (And Putin Won't Like What He's Saying.)

Mikhail Gorbachev, a man who knows something about losing control of Russia, met with students today and warned of swelling protests against Vladimir Putin if he retakes the presidency.


It may be time to add a familiar old face to the gallery of fresh pro-democracy leaders that's been created by Russia's growing anti-Putin street protest movement: the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Mr. Gorbachev, now an octogenarian, was one of the first Russian political figures to start warning - more than a year ago - that Vladimir Putin's autocratic, top-down Kremlin-centric regime risked repeating many of the errors that led to the downfall of the USSR and could face a mass challenge from the streets if it failed to implement democratic reforms.

Now that protest movement has materialized and Gorbachev, who faced a popular groundswell of opposition in the dying days of the Soviet Union, is advising Mr. Putin to drop his bid for election to a third presidential term in March 4 polls and leave.

With society turning against him, Putin is no longer able to handle the burdens of the presidency, Gorbachev said during a meeting with students at Moscow's International University today.

War Whore

Propaganda Alert! Iran Helping al Qaeda? War "Hysteria" Builds

Iran US flags
© CBS/AP
Reported concerns among some U.S. officials that Iran may have essentially freed a group of al Qaeda militants held for almost a decade under house arrest in the Islamic Republic are adding Friday morning to the escalating war-rhetoric pouring out of Washington and Israel.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some government officials believe Iran's move to allow the men greater freedom - which may include permission to leave the country - suggests the nation's hardline rulers are trying to bolster a link between themselves and the radical Muslim terror group as Western pressure mounts on both entities.


Comment: In other words, unsubstantiated rumors from unnamed sources, AKA Propaganda.


The report is particularly disconcerting as it follows closely on the heels of America's intelligence chief James Clapper warning U.S. lawmakers that Iran is, "more willing to conduct an attack in the United States" as sanctions hit its economy and talk of Israel attacking its military and nuclear installations gains volume.

MIB

Germany Expels Four Syrian Diplomats in Spy Case

Guido Westerwelle
© Reuters//Guido Krzikowski
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
As tensions mount between Western nations and Syria, the German authorities said Thursday that they had ordered the expulsion of four Syrian diplomats after arresting two men accused separately of spying on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

The police here arrested the two men on Tuesday, saying they were "strongly suspected of investigating Syrian opposition members in Germany for a Syrian intelligence service over a period of years."

The men were identified, under standard German procedures, only as Mahmoud El A., 47, of Lebanese descent, and Akram O., 34, a Syrian.

State and federal police officers searched the homes of six other suspects "believed to be involved in espionage," prosecutors said.

In a statement on Thursday, Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said the four diplomats - three men and a woman who were not identified by name - had been given three days to leave Germany. Mr. Westerwelle did not go into detail about the expulsions, but officials said the embassy personnel were suspected of carrying out activities incompatible with their diplomatic status, a formulation that usually refers to espionage.

Dominoes

Greek deputy minister quits over EU/IMF bailout terms

Greek deputy labour minister, Yannis Koutsoukos
© Syracuse University
Greek deputy labour minister, Yannis Koutsoukos
A Greek deputy minister resigned on Thursday in an early sign of resistance to tough austerity and reform measures which party leaders accepted as the price of a new international bailout.

Deputy Labour Minister Yannis Koutsoukos, a member of the socialist PASOK party and former trade union leader, said he was quitting because the measures were "painful for working people," and accused Greece's foreign lenders of blackmail.

He released his resignation letter to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos after the premier announced that leaders of the three parties in his coalition had signed up to conditions demanded by the European Union and IMF.

Parliament must approve the agreement in a vote expected to be held on Sunday or Monday.

"Our lenders ignored the arguments and concrete proposals made by the Labour Ministry and in a blackmailing way are crushing the edifice of labour relations," Koutsoukos wrote.

Bad Guys

Hungary's Government Tightens Grip on Arts

Right-wing leadership stands accused of controlling the cultural sector for political ends

Image
© Unknown
Viktor Orban at the opening of an exhibition that he commissioned at the Hungarian National Gallery.
Already under attack from the European Commission for its policies on banking, the law and the media, Hungary's national conservative government is now facing a tide of protest from the arts community. The government, led by Viktor Orban, stands accused of systematically replacing key figures in cultural institutions, staging pro-government exhibitions, rethinking permanent museum displays and replacing historic statues to fit its political agenda. "The fact that an authoritarian government wants to control the arts is in itself not surprising," says the Hungarian economist Janos Kovacs. "But it's incredible that this is happening in the middle of the European Union without provoking angry reactions in Brussels."

Comment: Sounds like the drumbeat of Ponerology in that pathological individuals insert themselves into various institutions in an attempt to control ideas of the common populace and in this case, by erasing history for nefarious purposes. These individuals truly believe their subjective view of the world and, in turn, strive to impose it upon others. For more information on Ponerology - The Science of Evil, see these Sott links:

Political Ponerology: A Science on The Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes

Ponerology: The Study of Evil - Interview with Marian Wasilewski

For information regarding an authoritarian mindset see:

Hypocrisy of the Authoritarians

For more on the author of Political Ponerology, Andrew Lobaczewski

Sott.net Interview with Andrew Lobaczewski


Chess

Palestinian Rivals Agree to Form Unity Government

Mahmoud Abbas
© Reuters/Mohamad Torokman
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas smiles during a Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 30, 2012.
The leaders of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas signed a deal in Qatar on Monday to form a unity government of independent technocrats for the West Bank and Gaza, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The move, following the failure of exploratory Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at reviving stalled peace negotiations, was condemned by Israel, which says the Islamist Hamas cannot be part of any peace efforts.

The accord signed by President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal is supposed to pave the way for Palestinian presidential and parliamentary election possibly later this year, and to rebuild the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip following a 2008-2009 Israeli offensive against Hamas.

It was not known whether the deal would be implemented. No timetable was set. A reconciliation pact Fatah and Hamas struck in May 2011 has had little substantive result but both sides said they were serious about carrying out the new accord.

Abbas' Palestinian Authority supports a negotiated peace with Israel that would give Palestinians an independent state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in Gaza, co-existing alongside the Jewish state.

Airplane

Pakistan: Second US Drone Strike In 2 Days; 3 Dead

drone missle
© cnn.com
A U.S. drone fired two missiles at a house in Pakistan's northwest tribal region, killing three suspected militants in the second such attack in as many days, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The back-to-back strikes could be an indication the drone program is picking up steam again after a slowdown caused by tensions with Pakistan over accidental American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.

The U.S. held off on carrying out drone strikes for over six weeks after the deadly accident on Nov. 26. There have been a handful of attacks since they resumed in January, but the last two are the first consecutive strikes since the border incident.

The house hit before dawn on Thursday was located in the main bazaar in Miran Shah, the biggest town in the North Waziristan tribal area, the country's main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida militants, said Pakistani intelligence officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Laptop

Bill C-11 Has Disgruntled Canadians Taking Action

Image
© Reuters
A reporter's laptop shows the Wikipedia blacked out opening page.
When news of the threat Bill C-11 potentially poses broke nearly three weeks ago, the majority of Canadian observers took a hard stance against this Canadian SOPA-like anti-piracy legislation.

Comments from our Bill C-11 blog were unequivocally opposed to this bill passing through the House of Commons. Tweets responding the the blog echoed that same sentiment. And the poll placed on our SOPA topic page saw an astounding 94 per cent vote against online piracy regulations.

But it's not enough to simply draw a line in the sand and choose a side.

The 'Stop Bill C-11: Fight Harper's proposed Copyright Act - Defend Your Data' Facebook page is encouraging followers to contact their local MPs and voice their displeasure. Several of the near 2,500 followers have done just that, and the general response has been rather positive.

One follower commented on the page, stating she "just got a reply from the NDP leader, regarding my letter of concern about C-11. I can copy and paste the entire thing out, but in short, they will not be backing the bill as it is currently written."

Eye 1

US: Reid Sneaks SOPA Back Into Senate With New Name

Sen Harry Reid
© n/a
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is re-branding SOPA and the Protect IP act under a new name to launch a second round of attacks in an attempt to censor the Internet.

After trying to adopt Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), both pieces of legislation turned out to be a disaster, causing outrage among Internet giants and ordinary users alike. Congress had to retreat. However it's determined to get what it wants this time.

After the shelving of SOPA and PIPA back in January Reid stated, "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved."

As RT reported last month, Senator Reid added that lawmakers will "continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans' intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the Internet."

Chess

Iran Calls New US Sanctions 'Psychological War'

Iran on Tuesday dismissed the new U.S. sanctions, saying they are part of a "psychological war" meant to sow discontent among Iranians and insisting the measures would not halt the country's nuclear program.

Washington ordered the new penalties on Monday, giving U.S. banks additional powers to freeze assets linked to the Iranian government and close loopholes that officials say Iran has used to move money despite earlier restrictions imposed by the U.S. and Europe.