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Mon, 18 Feb 2019
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Maduro orders plans drawn up for troops at border with Colombia against US 'provocation'

venezuela militia Maduro
© Reuters/Marco Bello
Venezuelan militia members at the entrance of the cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Tienditas, Venezuela February 12, 2019.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the military to come up with a plan for a permanent deployment of forces to the border with Colombia to avert "provocations" he accused the US of masterminding.

"Reinforcing the border with Colombia is necessary to make it "safe and peaceful," Maduro said, adding that the permanent deployment would ensure that it is unpenetrable. "We must be well deployed to defend our land, to thwart any provocation, which we anticipate and which we do not know yet. Imagine them defending their maritime area against our marine and air force," he said.

"[Colombian President Ivan] Duque has plans against Venezuela supported by the US government," the embattled Venezuelan leader said on Friday at the meeting marking the end of the largest ever Angostura military drills.

Comment:


Megaphone

Yes, Moscow boosts western anti-imperialist voices. So what?

RT subway as UK
In an extremely weird article titled "Russia is backing a viral video company aimed at American millennials", CNN reports that Facebook has suspended popular dissident media outlet In The Now and its allied pages for failing to publicly "disclose" its financial ties to a subsidiary of RT. According to CNN, such disclosures are not and have never been an actual part of Facebook's official policy, but Facebook has made the exceptional precondition of public disclosure of financial ties in order for In The Now to return to its platform.

I say the article is extremely weird for a number of reasons. Firstly, according to In The Now CEO Anissa Naouai, CNN knew that Facebook was going to be suspending the pages of her company Maffick Media before she did, suggesting a creepy degree of coordination between the two massive outlets to silence an alternative media platform. Secondly, the article reports that CNN found out about Maffick's financial ties thanks to a tip-off from the German Marshall Fund, a narrative control firm which receives funding from the US government. In The Now's Rania Khalek has described this tactic as "a case where the US government has found a legal loophole to suppress speech, in this case speech that is critical of destructive US government policies around the world."

Caesar

Essay by Kremlin Advisor Vladislav Surkov: 'Putin's Long-Lasting State'


Comment: The following essay was recently published in Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Russian-American author Dmitry Orlov has translated it, as published here on The Saker.

The essay's author is Vladislav Surkov. If Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin is mischaracterized in the West as "Putin's brain," then Surkov is similarly mischaracterized "Putin's éminence grise." Surkov was Deputy Chief of the Russian Presidential Administration from 1999-2011, during which time he apparently played a role in the transition from Yeltsin to Putin and later developed the concept of sovereign democracy, which is arguably 21st century Russia's 'state ideology'.

Surkov also served as Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Modernisation from 2011-2013, and has since remained an aide to Putin, apparently with the specific brief of handling Russia's relationships with Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Ukraine. When Western elites went apoplectic because Crimea joined the Russian Federation in 2014, Surkov was one of the first names on Obama's sanctions list. Asked how he felt about no longer being able to travel to the US, Surkov responded:
"The only things that interest me in the US are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don't need a visa to access their work."
As Western actors hurl invective, sanctions, cyberattacks, political subterfuge and proxy wars at Russia - all apparently with a view to 'correcting' its policy decisions in the short-term, and thus its developmental trajectory in the long-term - Surkov ignores the screamers to describe the nature of modern Russian governance, a unique system developed by Vladimir Putin, which, Surkov argues, has become - whether they realize it or not - the new standard-bearer for all countries to follow...

[Hyperlinks to Wikipedia and other sources concerning historical events/actors referenced by the author are ours, as are the endnotes]


putin kremlin
"It only seems that we have a choice." 1 These words are amazing in their depth of meaning and audacity. They were uttered a decade and a half ago, and today they are forgotten and are never cited. But according to the laws of psychology, that which is forgotten affects us much more than that which we remember. And these words - having gone far beyond their original context - have as a result become the first axiom of the new Russian statehood upon which have been built all theories and practices of contemporary politics.

The illusion of choice is the most important illusion, the centerpiece of the Western way of life in general and Western democracy in particular, which has for a long time now adhered more closely to the ideas of P.T. Barnum than to those of Cleisthenes. The rejection of this illusion in favor of the realism of predestination has led our society first to reflect upon its own special, sovereign version of democratic development, and then to completely lose interest in any discussions on the subject of what democracy should be like and whether it should exist even in principle.

Comment: How about that for a Kremlin come-back to the petabytes of lies?!

Not that many in the West will hear it.

They're too busy screaming about how evil Russia is.

But they doth protesteth too much, and signal merely the noisy preamble to the nations of the world embracing Putinism.


Attention

Judicial Watch: Docs reveal FBI covered up 'chart' of Killary's potential violations of law

hillary clinton cell phone
© Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her phone in October 18, 2011
'I'll make sure Andy tells Mike to keep these in his pocket'

(Washington, DC) - Judicial Watch announced today it received 186 pages of records from the Department of Justice that include emails documenting an evident cover up of a chart of potential violations of law by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Judicial Watch obtained the records through a January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DOJ failed respond to a December 4, 2017 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)). Judicial Watch is seeking all communications between FBI official Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page.

The newly obtained emails came in response to a May 21 order by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to the FBI to begin processing 13,000 pages of records exchanged exclusively between Strzok and Page between February 1, 2015, and December 2017. The FBI may not complete review and production of all the Strzok-Page communications until at least 2020.

Magnify

The Tulsi Gabbard phenomenon as a diagnostic tool for the sickness in US politics

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard
Ever since Tulsi Gabbard announced that she will be running for President in 2020 her personality and candidacy have been a subject of heated debates and after I posted a rather small message from her, I have been getting panicked emails warning me that she is a fake and that I not should "jump on her bandwagon" or otherwise endorse her.

So, first and foremost, I am not - repeat NOT - endorsing her in any way shape or fashion.

However, I do find her and what is taking place around her extremely interesting and I want to look at it a little closer. This won't be a review or analysis of her ideas, political platform or chance of getting elected. Neither will I try to read her mind and do what so many other folks are doing and confidently declare that I know what her true values, ideas or plans are. I don't.

But there are a few things which can already be observed about her which I want to comment on.

Question

Boot And Kristol: Why Are These Professional War Peddlers Still Around?

MaxBoot BillKristol
© U.S. Navy/Gage Skidmore
Max Boot • Bill Kristol
Pundits like Max Boot and Bill Kristol got everything after 9/11 wrong but are still considered "experts."

One thing that every late-stage ruling class has in common is a high tolerance for mediocrity. Standards decline, the edges fray, but nobody in charge seems to notice. They're happy in their sinecures and getting richer. In a culture like this, there's no penalty for being wrong. The talentless prosper, rising inexorably toward positions of greater power, and breaking things along the way. It happened to the Ottomans. Max Boot is living proof that it's happening in America.

Boot is a professional foreign policy expert, a job category that doesn't exist outside of a select number of cities. Boot has degrees from Berkeley and Yale, and is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has written a number of books and countless newspaper columns on foreign affairs and military history. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, an influential British think tank, describes Boot as one of the "world's leading authorities on armed conflict."

None of this, it turns out, means anything. The professional requirements for being one of the world's Leading Authorities on Armed Conflict do not include relevant experience with armed conflict. Leading authorities on the subject don't need a track record of wise assessments or accurate predictions. All that's required are the circular recommendations of fellow credential holders. If other Leading Authorities on Armed Conflict induct you into their ranks, you're in. That's good news for Max Boot.

Attention

Pence reproaches US allies at Warsaw summit on Iran

PenceNeti
© Kacper Pempel/Reuters
US VP Mike Pence and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Warsaw.
Vice-president tells event that EU mechanism to facilitate trade with Iran is 'ill-advised.'

The US vice-president, Mike Pence, has sharply rebuked Washington's European allies over their efforts to shield their businesses from US sanctions on Iran, as transatlantic tensions over US foreign policy were laid bare at a conference in Warsaw.

A scheme the European Union has set up to facilitate trade with Iran was "an effort to break American sanctions against Iran's murderous revolutionary regime", Pence said during a conference on the Middle East organised by the US in the Polish capital.

"It is an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and create still more distance between Europe and the US," he said.

In an unusually blunt and fiery address, Pence called on what he described as "freedom-loving nations" to stand against Iranian "evil", and went so far as to accuse the regional power of plotting a "new Holocaust".

Comment: Once again there is the obvious dichotomy of tone, tactic, concerns, solutions and actions put forth by US and Russia diplomacy with other countries. Both achieve results.


X

Saudi prince: We could go far with Israeli money and Saudi brains, but it's not going to happen

Prince Turki
© AP/KAMRAN JEBREILI
Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal
A former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to the US has given an unprecedented interview to an Israeli TV channel that was broadcast just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the Omani foreign minister in Poland to discuss a new era for the Middle East.

In an interview with Israel's Channel 13 news, Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud said that Saudi Arabia and Israel have the funds and political means to work together provided that they reach a lasting peace first.
"With Israeli money and Saudi brains, we can go far. Yes, if there is peace. Unfortunately, Israel chooses to ignore all the efforts of Saudi Arabia to make peace, expects Saudi Arabia to put its hand on its hand and go forward on technology, on water desalination, on issues like that. It's not going to happen".
Prince Turki, who served as ambassador to the United States, said.

Comment: Prince Turki is right. It it's not going to happen.


Light Sabers

US Vice Pence goes to Europe and tells EU how to conduct foreign policy: 'Reject Iran deal and Russian pipeline!'

MerkelPenceMogherini
© Andreas Gebert/Andreas Gebert/Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
Angela Merkel • Mike Pence • Federica Mogherini
US Vice President Mike Pence went full throttle in Munich as he rolled out a list of Washington's demands to the EU, clashing with Germany's Angela Merkel and Brussels' Federica Mogherini on Iran and Russia.

EU nations must "stop undermining US sanctions" against Iran, Pence told the audience at the annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday, urging European allies to follow the American lead in ditching the deal on the Iranian nuclear program.

He had earlier blasted EU countries for not being "cooperative" with Washington's push to pressure Iran. The US unilaterally pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last year, citing mistrust towards the Islamic Republic and accusing it of threatening global security. Iran denied the allegations, while Washington's move was condemned by the EU, China and Russia.



Comment: Strong-arming: a bullying tactic inflicted by Pence.


Document

Letter to the President: House panel to launch probe into Trump's emergency declaration

Trump declaration
© Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump announces emergency declaration to build the wall.
A key committee in the U.S. House of Representatives announced on Friday it was launching an immediate investigation into President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration, saying his move to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border raised constitutional and statutory issues.

In a letter to Trump, Democrats who control the House Judiciary Committee asked the Republican president to make available for a hearing White House and Justice Department officials involved in the action. They also requested legal documents on the decision that led to the declaration, setting a deadline of next Friday.

"We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system," said the letter signed by committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other top Democrats on the panel.

Comment: See also: