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Fri, 18 Jan 2019
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Iran: No military withdrawal from Syria despite Israel's threats

Iran General Mohammad Ali Jafari
© AP/Vahid Salemi
The head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps General Mohammad Ali Jafari
The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps says Iran will retain its military presence in Syria, defying Israeli threats that Iranian forces will be targeted if they do not leave the war-torn country.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will keep its military advisers, revolutionary forces, and its weapons in Syria," Iranian media quoted Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying on January 16. The comments come days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was "more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria."

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on January 13, Netanyahu also said that Israel had succeeded in "curbing Iran's military entrenchment in Syria" by attacking Iranian and Hizballah targets there "hundreds" of times."

Jafari called Netanyahu's threats "a joke" and warned that the Israeli government "was playing with [a] lion's tail." "Be afraid of the day that Iran's precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head and revenge all the blood you have spilt of innocent Muslims in the region," the Iranian general said.

Comment: See also:


Tucker Carlson: Trump's wish to remove the US from NATO leaves neocons seething

© Unknown
US President Donald Trump
Tucker Carlson, Fox News and Russian and American news outlets alike have picked up the story that US President Donald Trump has on numerous occasions, opined that the United States would do well to depart from the North Atlantic Military Organization, or NATO.

This wish caused enormous fury and backlash from those opposed, which, oddly enough include both Democrats and Republicans. Their anger and alarm over this idea is such that the media networks through much of the US are alive with the idea of impeaching the President or bringing 25th Amendment proceedings against him for insanity!

Take a look:

Tucker Carlson, as usual, nailed it.

NATO was formed to make Western Europe secure in the face of a perceived Soviet threat. In 1991, the USSR collapsed and the threat of Ivan the Communist bad guy collapsed with it.

But 28 years later, NATO is still here. And, why?

Comment: The many unfounded assaults on this president, so far, have not culminated in his removal. So defying logic, the new plan is: more of the same.


George Galloway: Extinct prime minister Theresa May, and her deadman-walking government

© Reuters/Peter Nicholls
Even after her historic Commons defeat over the Brexit deal, PM Theresa May is unlikely to be toppled in the upcoming no-confidence vote. That won't help alleviate the chaos her previous bad decisions have started.

There will now be a special glass case in the political museum for May, who has just suffered - by some distance - the worst defeat for any British prime minister in the history of the country. Like the glass case in London's Natural History Museum marked "Dodo" it will contain an extinct entity, an ex-parrot, an ex-prime minister.

May's defeat by 230 votes is worse by some margin than the next largest, that suffered by the first Labour PM Ramsay MacDonald - by 166 votes - before being brought down by the MI6 forgery known as the Zinoviev Letter in 1924. It is in the memorable words of a commentator at "the upper-end of bad." No political adjectives exist to fully describe the stratospheric scale of the defeat.

Comment: See also:

Snakes in Suits

Trump: A symptom of a new brand of class warfare raging at home and abroad

© Buzzfeed
What's happening in America is an echo of what's happening in democracies around the world, and it's not happening because of Trump. To understand events around the world today, one must think in terms of the class struggle.

This sentence sounds like something that could be written by a doctrinaire Marxist. But it is nonetheless true. Much of the current tension in America and in many other democracies is in fact a product of a class struggle. It's not the kind of class struggle that Karl Marx wrote about, with workers and peasants facing off against rapacious capitalists, but it is a case of today's ruling class facing disaffection from its working class.

In the old Soviet Union, the Marxists assured us that once true communism was established under a "dictatorship of the proletariat," the state would wither away and everyone would be free. In fact, however, the dictatorship of the proletariat turned into a dictatorship of the party hacks, who had no interest whatsoever in seeing their positions or power wither.

Yugoslav dissident Milovan Djilas called these party hacks the "New Class," noting that instead of workers and peasants against capitalists, it was now a case of workers and peasants being ruled by a managerial new class of technocrats who, while purporting to act for the benefit of the workers and peasants, somehow wound up with the lion's share of the goodies. Workers and peasants stood in long lines for bread and shoddy household goods, while party leaders and government managers bought imported delicacies in special, secret stores. (In a famous Soviet joke, then-leader Leonid Brezhnev shows his mother his luxury apartment, his limousine, his fancy country house and his helicopter only to have her object: "But what if the communists come back?")

Comment: It seems to be a lot more going on than just 'class warfare' in the dynamics that undergird the latest manifestations of unacceptable control, increasing poverty and profound unrest. Social engineering, population culling and authoritarian politics employed to mask financial failure? The elite have contrived the means to be insulated, protected. The common man: less and less each day.

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A new tactic for suppressing online speech in Africa: Taxing social media

Africans beach
© Reuters/Feisal Omar
Africans facing restrictions online
Think things are bad in the US and Europe when it comes to social media speech suppression?

Check out, Africa.

Will this be our future?

Aware of the threat that social media poses to their power, repressive regimes in Africa have employed various methods to stifle internet-based mobilization. These include internet shutdowns, targeted social media applications shutdowns, website takedowns, extensive surveillance of digital communications, online propaganda, and the detention of online critics, writes Babatunde Okunoye for Foreign Affairs.

According to Okunoye, in 2018, repressive governments adopted yet another tactic: taxes on social media usage. In countries such as Uganda, Benin, Tanzania and Zambia, there are now laws in place which impose daily taxes on social media and other over-the-top services.

Comment: It is more than stifling freedom of expression. Social media and the internet are information access tools of the people, and as such, have the means to expose corruption. Denied access, regulation, prohibitive cost structures and censorship are mechanisms to limit dissent.

Black Magic

Government 'sneaks out' £7,000 pension cut for poorest elderly couples under cover of Brexit vote

Amber Rudd
© Mark Thomas/Rex/Shutterstock
The work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, leaves No 10. Age UK has described the changes as a ‘substantial stealth cut’.
Poorer pensioner couples will lose more than £7,000 a year, under a cut "sneaked out" while MPs are preparing for the showdown Brexit vote.

Ministers have been accused of attempting to bury the impact of the change to pension credit, which tops up the incomes of hard-up elderly people.

It means couples where only one partner is over the state pension age, which is now 65 or for both men and women depending on when they were born, will no longer receive the extra benefit.

It will take effect from 15 May, when the partner below the pension age is required to make a claim for universal credit, which merges six working-age benefits into a single payment.

Comment: Just when you thought there was nowhere left for the UK government to plunder: Also check out SOTT radio's:

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Russia-US INF talks fail in Geneva - US announces withdrawal date in February

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov
Washington is still on course to unilaterally quit the landmark 1987-signed Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) as early as next month, rejecting new talks after negotiations in Switzerland brought no breakthrough.

"It is clear that Russia continues to violate the treaty in a substantial way," US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson said at the press briefing that followed Tuesday's discussions, which she called "disappointing."

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who led a sizeable Russian delegation comprising senior officials from all relevant departments, said that US representatives arrived in Geneva with their minds made up, with a position that was both "uncompromising and lacking in specifics."

Comment: And now the foregone conclusion:
The US will begin its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia on February 1, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thompson has said.
In an interview published on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia "has no interest in a new arms race" with the US, but warned the Trump administration against withdrawing from the treaty, saying "such a course will have the gravest consequences."

Trump first threatened to pull out of the landmark agreement last October, telling reporters "we'll have to develop those weapons." Reacting to Trump's announcement, Gorbachev issued a similar warning to Putin, calling Trump's planned withdrawal a "dire threat to peace."

Star of David

New IDF chief pledges to make army 'deadly, efficient'

kochavi assad
Aviv Kochavi (L) and Bashar Assad (R).
The former Army intelligence chief earlier made headlines for his proposal to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi as the new military chief of staff Tuesday, according to a report by Haaretz. Kochavi replaced Gadi Eisenkot, who recently made headlines by admitting that Tel Aviv had supplied weapons to terrorists in Syria.

"I take this job upon myself in sacred reverence; I take it as an honour," Kochavi said during the ceremony, attended both by Netanyahu and Eisenkot.

"Now, as it is my turn, and I have received the responsibility of leading the army, I commit to dedicating all my energy, with a critical and demanding approach, to strengthening our defensive wall, to training for present and future threats - which focuses upon strengthening our attack capabilities towards our enemies and presenting an army that is deadly, efficient and modern, that preserves its mission and its uniqueness," he added.

​While Kochavi's speech could be perceived as humble, Netanyahu, who promoted Kochavi to chief of staff, then spoke with his trademark, much more aggressive tone.


Trump's shutdown trap?

Has President Trump suckered Democrats and the Deep State into a trap that will enable a radical downsizing of the federal bureaucracy? In only five more days of the already "longest government shutdown in history" (25 days and counting, as of today), a heretofore obscure threshold will be reached, enabling permanent layoffs of bureaucrats furloughed 30 days or more.


Federal court orders discovery on Clinton email, Benghazi scandal: Obama/Clinton officials to be deposed under oath

hillaryclinton email server
© Keven Siers/Charlotte Observer
Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton's email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials - including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap - will now have to answer Judicial Watch's written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department's objections to Judicial Watch's court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruled that the Clinton email system was "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.")

Judicial Watch's discovery will seek answers to:
  • Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;
  • whether the State Department's efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and
  • whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch's FOIA request.
Discovery is scheduled to be completed within 120 days. The court will hold a post-discovery hearing to determine if Judicial Watch may also depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.

Comment: See also: