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Wed, 26 Apr 2017
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Light Saber

Lavrov uses wrecking ball to demolish UK-led sarin 'investigation' in 30 seconds

© Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has a simple message for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: Stop with the bullshit.

Speaking with journalists in Moscow on Monday, Lavrov pointed out that the OPCW has taken more than four months to 'analyze' chemical samples from Aleppo, which would likely implicate Syrian 'opposition' forces in war crimes. And surprise, surprise — the OPCW needs even more time before it can release a report.

Meanwhile, it took this prestigious organization only four days to declare that Sarin was used in the April 4 attack in Khan Sheikhun.

Comment: So, it takes more than four months to analyse evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian 'opposition forces', but it takes less than 24 hours to make a determination that Assad 'gassed his people'.


X

Yeah, right! Twitter says they're blocking UK govt and MI5 from spying

© Kacper Pempel / Reuters
Twitter has blocked the British government and its domestic spy agency MI5 from accessing data on potential terrorist threats in a bid to tackle its "surveillance" plans, according to the Telegraph.

Twitter will impede police and the intelligence service attempts to gather user data to identify terrorist plots. Government ministers have slammed the company over the move, but their criticism seems to have been in vain. Twitter allows the government to access profiles as freely as any other user, but opposes any attempt to pull data for the purpose of surveillance.

In a post in November, Twitter's Vice-President Chris Moody expressed the company's commitment to "social justice."

Comment: Sounds more like a PR stunt. Everyone already knows state intelligence agencies doesn't need official agreements to obtain the data they want to have.


TV

It's official: The BBC has lost the plot

© BBC News / YouTube
"Are there any circumstance in which you would authorize a nuclear strike?" This was the question asked of Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK Labour Party, by the BBC's Andrew Marr during an interview on Marr's flagship Sunday morning politics TV show.

Corbyn has just embarked on a campaign to be elected Britain's next prime minister - following the decision of the current occupant of 10 Downing Street, Theresa May, to call an early general election on June 8. Andrew Marr was attempting to apply pressure to what is widely considered one of Corbyn's major weaknesses regarding his suitability to lead the country - namely defense.

However the most revealing aspect of the attempt to put Corbyn on the spot over defense was not the answer he gave to Andrew Marr's question, it was the question itself. Here it is worth making the point that Marr is one of the most senior of the BBC's political journalists, and certainly one of the most highly remunerated. By way of a reminder, the question he asked Corbyn was, "Are there any circumstance in which you would authorize a nuclear strike?" It is a question that instantly begs another question: "Are these people insane?"

It seems that the answer is a resounding yes.

Comment: UK seems ready for a preemptive strike: Fallon proudly declares Tory government would launch preemptive nuclear strike


Briefcase

Florida court sets hearing to determine whether class action lawsuit against DNC will be dismissed

The lawsuit was filed in response to evidence that the DNC favored Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries
© Brian Snyder / Reuters
After deliberating since October 2016, a federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has recently issued an order for appearance to the lawyers representing the DNC and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the plaintiffs representing Bernie Sanders supporters, Jared Beck and Elizabeth Lee Beck. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. on April 25, when the judge is expected to announce the court's decision in response to the DNC's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was initially filed in June 2016 in response to the mounting evidence that Wasserman Schultz used the DNC to tip the scales in Hillary Clinton's favor during the Democratic primaries. Wasserman Schultz and her staff overtly violated article four, section 5 of the DNC Charter, which stipulates, "The Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process."

Comment: More information on the DNC's machinations against the Sanders campaign:


Jet2

Russia has withdrawn nearly half of its air group from Syria's Hmeymim airbase

© Sputnik/ Dmitry Vinogradov
Russia has withdrawn almost half of its air grouping originally based at the Hmeymim facility in Syria, the Russian General Staff said Wednesday.

"The number of terrorist units has decreased, which allowed us to withdraw almost half of the aircraft based at the Hmeymim airbase," chief of the Main Operational Directorate Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said at the VI Moscow Conference on International Security.

Rudskoi revealed that the Russian air group never exceeded 35 aircraft between November 10, 2016 and January 10, 2017. As for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), now Russia is operating about 80 drones in Syria, he added.

Comment: Updates on the Syrian war:


Attention

'Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach': Pope warns world leaders in surprise TED talk

© TED / YouTube
Pope Francis has given his first TED Talk, warning of the dangers of wielding too much power, while also recounting his own experience as a son of immigrants.

The 80-year-old pontiff delivered a modern message of hope via videolink from Vatican City to the annual TED 2017 conference in Vancouver, Canada, Tuesday.

The surprise TED Talk was organized in secret and marks the first time his holiness has spoken at an international conference.

The pope first remarked on the theme of the conference, 'The Future You,' noting that "we can only build a future by standing together, including everyone."

"Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the 'other' is not a statistic, or a number. We all need each other."

Info

Russian General Staff reports Daesh formations near Hama and Homs totally decimated

© Sputnik/ Mikhail Voskresenskiy
Daesh formations near Hama and Homs have been totally defeated, the Russian General Staff said on Wednesday. Moscow has managed to reverse the developments in Syria, the General Staff stressed.

"The actions of the Russian group allowed Syrian troops to reverse the situation completely. As of today, terrorist formations have been totally decimated in Hama and Homs... Government troops have also strengthened their footing in the Damascus province and on the capital's outskirts," the chief of the Russian General Staff's Main Operational Directorate Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said.

Info

Complete control established over Palmyra, terrorists suffered serious damage

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin
Complete control has been established over Syria's Palmyra, the Russian General Staff said on Wednesday, adding that terrorists are suffering serious damage.

"In a month and a half, the [Syrian] government forces <...> completely destroyed a Daesh terror group, advanced more than 60 kilometers and established complete control over Palmyra. The terrorists suffered serious damage," Rudskoy said.

Bad Guys

FSB head: ISIS leaders 'negotiate merger' with other terrorist groups

© Medyan Dairieh / Global Look Press
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist groups are changing their tactics, moving fighters to Afghanistan, Yemen and Africa in order to set up a new large-scale terrorist network, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service has stated.

"Having realized that they are being threatened with total destruction in the zone of their former domination, leaders of the largest international terrorist groups, such as Islamic State, Al-Nusra Front and the remnants of the pre-existing Al-Qaeda structures, began changing their tactics. In particular, they stepped up transfer of militants over to Afghanistan, Yemen and deep into Africa, and started building support points and bases there," Aleksandr Bortnikov told participants of the VI Moscow Conference on International Security on Wednesday.

"We're talking about development of a new large-scale terrorist network," the FSB director said. "There are also reports of ongoing negotiations between Islamic State and other [terrorist] groups about a possible merger."

Map

Turkish FM claims Ankara notified US 'weeks' before airstrikes on Kurdish-held areas in Syria and Iraq

© Rodi Said / Reuters
Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) inspect the damage at their headquarters, Syria April 25, 2017.
Ankara notified the US and international coalition of plans to strike Kurdish-held areas in Syria and Iraq "weeks" in advance, the Turkish foreign minister said. Washington claimed the operation was "not approved by the coalition" raising deep concerns.

The Turkish Air Force hit the respective areas on Tuesday, claiming that dozens of "terrorists" were killed. The targeted territories had been allegedly infiltrated by members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey considers to be a terrorist group, according to Turkish Army statement. Local Kurdish militias the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Peshmerga, however, said the strikes had hit them instead, giving of a lower number of dead and wounded among fighters and civilians.

Comment: For more on this story: Turkish airstrikes on Kurds complicates US operations in Iraq and Syria