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Taiwan scrambles jets and navy vessels to 'surveil and control' passage of Chinese warships

© Stringer / Reuters
Taiwan deployed jets and navy vessels after a group of Chinese warships entered the country's air defense identification zone. The aircraft and vessels were deployed to "surveil and control" the passage of the Chinese ships, a government spokesperson said.

China's Soviet-built 'Liaoning' aircraft carrier led warships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, while returning from exercises in the South China Sea. Although Taiwan's Defense Ministry stated that the carrier was not trespassing in the country's territorial waters, it confirmed that it did enter its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the southwest.

In response, the Taiwanese military quickly deployed jets and navy ships to follow the Chinese boats as they traveled through the narrow body of water which lies between Taiwan and China, Defense Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said, as cited by Reuters.

Star of David

Philip Weiss: Jared Kushner fired me over Israel ten years ago


Jared Kushner and Donald Trump
Donald Trump has now named his son-in-law Jared Kushner as a senior adviser, notably on Middle East/Israel issues, and as Kushner fired me ten years ago over these issues, it seemed a good time to review my memories of our (limited) interactions and do what journalists do, make a prognosis about his future efforts.

Kushner was 25 when he bought the New York Observer from investment banker/artist Arthur Carter in 2006, and as all such transactions do, the move set off panic on the editorial side of the paper. The editor, my dear friend Peter Kaplan, now deceased, was at once engaged in a struggle with his new boss over the paper's news budget and independence. For my part I had been a columnist for a few years, protected against attacks and my own ineptitude by my Harvard chum Kaplan (yes, Virginia, that's how media works), and had lately started Mondoweiss there as a personal blog, and because I was vehemently against the Iraq war and beginning to connect that tragedy to the US relationship to Israel in my postings, I was apprehensive about Kushner's view of the blog and me. I knew that he had been a big supporter of the orthodox Jewish Chabad House at Harvard and had lauded Alan Dershowitz there. Not a good sign — when I was discovering Rachel Corrie and The Israel Lobby.

Mr. Potato

Ridiculous: Clapper & senators use fuzzy math on RT's reach

© Aliza Krichevsky / RT
RT America's studios in Washington, DC
The US intelligence community testified on Capitol Hill about supposed Russian interference in the 2016 election. In doing so, they provided more free advertising for RT, yet also seemed confused about the network, its reach and its coverage.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers and FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon about a recently declassified report on accusations that Russia influenced the presidential election.

The "multifaceted" campaign blended propaganda, namely by RT, with covert intelligence operations, including cyber activity, and official efforts by the government, third-party intermediaries and "paid social media users or 'trolls.'"

Quenelle - Golden

Venezuela's Supreme Court blocks US-inspired regime change

© Miraflores Palace / Reuters
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro
For years, the US has tried to organise regime change in Venezuela. This just hit a big stumbling block.

In another blow against American attempts to rig democratic processes, the Supreme Court of Venezuela has annulled the impeachment of socialist President Nicholas Maduro. This represents a big setback for American puppet opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, who has pushed hard to erode Bolivarism in the only OPEC member with a socialist government (honourable mention to Algeria in this respect).

Comment: Further reading: The Many Victories of Maduro in 2016


Quenelle - Golden

"A total political witch hunt!" Trump strikes back at Buzzfeed & CNN fake news

Trump tweets about the hoax report being spread in Buzzfeed and CNN.

It did not take long for Trump to take to Twitter to call out the ridiculous and gross story about Moscow Hotel "golden showers" that Buzzfeed and CNN decided to spread around the world.

The story is now being completely debunked everywhere, but the neo-liberal news sites that ran with the unverified report, did their work for the deep state, which is in full panic mode for what will be four years of a Trump presidency.

Comment: Further reading: CIA, Obama and major media outlets trolled by 4chan fanfiction asserting Donald Trump was being blackmailed by Russian spies
Defying all reason and journalistic duty, BuzzFeed may have now topped the Washington Post in the quickly burgeoning Fake News market, publishing accusations President-elect Donald Trump has "deep ties to Russia" — but the astoundingly baseless claim seems to have unraveled in the most hilarious way possible.



Bad Guys

NATO's efforts to increase pressure on Russia will prove futile

© Flickr/ U.S. Army Europe Images
NATO's efforts to increase pressure on Moscow by beefing up its military presence on the country's borders will prove futile, Russian military expert Viktor Litovkin told Sputnik, adding that it is impossible to scare Russia or make it to bend to someone's will.

NATO is trying to reaffirm its importance in the eyes of Europeans, Russian military expert Viktor Litovkin told Sputnik Czech, commenting on a series of joint military drills held by the bloc's members on Russia's western borders.

On Sunday a Czech mechanized battalion comprising 112 servicemen and 37 military-vehicles set off for Training Bridge 2017 joint military drills in Lithuania, according to the Seznam news portal.

Lithuania's Ministry of National Defense reported Monday that "rotational troops of the Czech Armed Forces" was due to arrive in Lithuania, Sestokai, on January, 10. The drills will be carried out until March, 20.

"Throughout the rotation time the Czech soldiers will be based at the Lithuanian Grand Duke Butigeidis Dragoon Battalion in Klaipeda and train alongside military personnel of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Kestutis Mechanised Infantry Battalion based in Taurage district. Lithuanian and Czech soldiers will train in a range of field training exercises and live firing events," the Ministry's official website reads.

Bad Guys

CIA's John Brennan-US misjudged appeal of Western democracy for Middle East during Arab Spring

© Goran Tomasevic / Reuters
A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011.
The administration of US President Barack Obama made a mistake when it hoped to impose Western values and Western-style democracy in the Middle East during the Arab Spring, according to outgoing CIA Director John Brennan.

"I think there were very, very unrealistic expectations in Washington, including in some parts of the administration, that the Arab Spring was going to push out these authoritarian regimes and democracy is going to flourish because that's what people want,"Brennan said in an interview with CNN.

Earlier this year Brennan, who spent years stationed in the Middle East, already admitted that the Arab Spring uprisings that began in late 2010 created fertile ground for terrorists. But in his latest comments, he said the focus should not be solely on the "symptoms of the problems" like terrorism and violence, but rather on the underlying factors such as governance.


Comment: Washington and its allies had their grubby hands all up in the Arab Spring. Further reading:

  • How the "Arab Spring" went from spontaneous uprising to orchestrated slaughter



Eye 1

'Russia hacking': US Intel agencies try to strong-arm Trump into War with Russia

Powerful elites are using the credibility of the US Intelligence agencies to demonize Russia and prepare the country for war. This is the real meaning of the "Russia hacking" story which, as yet, has not produced any hard evidence of Russian complicity.

Last week's 25-page report, that was released by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, illustrates to what extent intelligence is being "fixed around the policy". Just as the CIA generated false information related to Weapons of Mass Destruction to soften public resistance to war with Iraq, so too, the spurious allegations in the DNI's politically-motivated report are designed to depict Russia as a growing threat to US national security. The timing of the report has less to do with the election of Donald Trump as President than it does with critical developments in Syria where the Russian military has defeated US-proxies in Syria's industrial hub, Aleppo, rolling back Washington's 15-year War of Terror and derailing the imperialist plan to control vital resources and pipeline corridors across the Middle East and Central Asia. Russia has become the main obstacle to Washington achieving its strategic vision of pivoting to Asia and maintaining its dominant role into the next century. The Intelligence Community has been coerced into compromising its credibility to incite fear of Russia and to advance the geopolitical ambitions of deep state powerbrokers.

Propaganda

Peskov: Russia has no compromising info on Trump or Clinton, report is 'total bluff'

© Mike Segar, Carlos Barria / Reuters
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
Moscow says documents alleging that Russia has compromising information on Donald Trump are a fabrication and a "total bluff." Russia has never gathered information of this kind on either the US president-elect, or his former rival, Hillary Clinton.

"The Kremlin has no compromising information on Trump. This report does not correspond to reality and is nothing but an absolute fiction," the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Wednesday.

"This is a total bluff, an absolute fabrication, complete nonsense," he said.

Comment: See also:


Bizarro Earth

What a pity! - Obama's legacy

Eight years ago the world was on the brink of a grand celebration: the inauguration of a brilliant and charismatic black president of the United States of America. Today we are on the edge of an abyss: the installation of a mendacious and cathartic white president who will replace him.

This is a depressing decline in the highest office of the most powerful empire in the history of the world. It could easily produce a pervasive cynicism and poisonous nihilism. Is there really any hope for truth and justice in this decadent time? Does America even have the capacity to be honest about itself and come to terms with its self-destructive addiction to money-worship and cowardly xenophobia?

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville - the two great public intellectuals of 19th-century America - wrestled with similar questions and reached the same conclusion as Heraclitus: character is destiny ("sow a character and you reap a destiny").

The age of Barack Obama may have been our last chance to break from our neoliberal soulcraft. We are rooted in market-driven brands that shun integrity and profit-driven policies that trump public goods. Our "post-integrity" and "post-truth" world is suffocated by entertaining brands and money-making activities that have little or nothing to do with truth, integrity or the long-term survival of the planet. We are witnessing the postmodern version of the full-scale gangsterization of the world.

The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump - but it did contribute to it. And those Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility.