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Thu, 21 Feb 2019
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Mr. Potato

Why is Schiff-ty waffling now? House Intel chairman claiming Trump-Russia collusion "compelling" but not necessarily "criminal"

Adam Schiff

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the most visible purveyors of the narrative that Trump and his associates engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia to rig the 2016 election, apparently no longer believes that Trump committed a crime by "colluding" with the Russians.

During an appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Schiff ticked off a litany of suspicious activities involving Trump and his associates that he said suggest that collusion did take place - but instead of labeling the behavior as evidence of a criminal conspiracy, Schiff declared that "there's a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt" and that it would be "up to Mueller" to determine whether Trump or senior members of his campaign team broke the law.

Comment: It appears the collusion narrative is finally collapsing under its own falsity. Schiff appears to be trying to manage the implosion.


Light Saber

Venezuelan authorities boot 'interventionist' team of European MPs who planned to meet with Guaido

maduro supporter
© Reuters/Marco Bello
A supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a banner during a rally in support of him in Urena, Venezuela February 11, 2019.
A six-member European delegation that sought to meet with self-proclaimed Venezuelan 'interim president' Juan Guaido is being expelled from Venezuela after being accused by Caracas of coming with "conspiratorial purposes."

European MPs arrived in Venezuela on Sunday and were supposed to stay until Tuesday to carry out a series of meetings, including with Guaido, the leader of the opposition recognized by a number of European governments as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

These plans, however, went awry shortly after they landed, when the MPs received a cold welcome from the Venezuelan authorities, who are now deporting them back to Europe, according to delegation member Esteban González Pons.

Comment: The Making of Juan Guaidó: How The US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela's Coup Leader


Stop

Russia's Gazprombank freezes Venezuela PDVSA accounts, Lukoil halts oil swaps after US sanctions

PDVSA Socialis
© Panama Post
Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under U.S. sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday.

While many foreign firms have been cutting their exposure to PDVSA since the sanctions were imposed, the fact that a lender closely aligned with the Russian state is following suit is significant because the Kremlin has been among Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's staunchest supporters.

"PDVSA's accounts are currently frozen. As you'll understand, operations cannot be carried out," the source said. Gazprombank did not reply to a Reuters request for a comment.

PDVSA brandished the story as "fake news" on its Twitter account in capital red letters, but did not reply to a request for comment.

Comment: The international trading arm of Russia's Lukoil also stopped oil swaps with Venezuela, according to their CEO Vagit Alekperov:
Because of Moscow's support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

"Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed," Lukoil's Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company's chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn't approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.



X

Lavrov claims US, militants blocking refugees from exiting Rukban camp

syrian refugees rukban
© AP Photo
Earlier, the Syrian government and Russian military accused US forces and "illegal militant groups" under their control of forcibly keeping women and children in the camp, situated in southern Syria on the war-torn country's border with Jordan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has blasted the US' inaction on the Rukban refugee camp, reiterating Moscow's long-standing concerns about the fate of refugees in the US-controlled territory.

"It's long past time to withdraw the refugees from the Rukban camp," Lavrov said, speaking to reporters following his meeting with Omani Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Moscow on Monday.

"We, along with the Syrian government, are calling for this to take place. But the United States and the extremists under their control who control this camp prohibit people from leaving," Lavrov added.

The diplomat expressed hope that representatives of the United Nations, who recently accompanied a second humanitarian relief convoy to Rukban, would "see that everything is far from being in order" at the camp, and report back on their findings to the UN Security Council.

Comment: Al-Tanf and Rukban will be the last areas from which US troops are withdrawn. The only reason they've been holding it is to block one of the two main modes of land access between Syria and Iraq, thus stifling any trade via land. In other words, it has been for completely petty and malicious reasons. Plus there was the bonus of providing a no-fly-zone of sorts under which to protect militants from the Syrian military. Go figure.

See also: Moscow says situation in US-controlled Rukban refugee camp in Syria like that of WWII concentration camps


Broom

'Those seven dwarfs date back to Tony Blair, good riddance': Rundown of Labour MPs' defection

labour mp leave
© REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britain's Labour Party MPs Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker pose for a picture after their announcement they are leaving the party
Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone told RT he's not surprised by Monday's Labour Party resignations, saying he's "glad to see them go." He was also quick to dismiss accusations of systemic racism within Labour.

Livingstone explained that the split goes right back to New Labour, saying "these are the people who date back to the time of Tony Blair when he took over the party and he blocked genuine Labour and socialist people from being parliamentary candidates."

He said the Blair-led shift saw the parliamentary structure no longer reflecting Labour and its socialist values, instead favoring neoliberal ones.
"Now we've got a genuine Labour leader of course many of these people feel that they don't agree with him, so they've gone and I'm glad to see them go."

Comment: More from RT:
Galloway slams 'Seven Dwarfs' for ditching Labour, says he wants to rejoin party

galloway
© Global Look Press / ZUMAPRESS.com / Daniel Leal-Olivas
George Galloway says he has formally asked the Labour Party to let him rejoin after his "ridiculous expulsion" by Tony Blair over his opposition to the Gulf War.

The former Labour MP revealed his application in a nine-minute-long video commenting not only on his hopes for the future of the Labour Party, but criticising the party's breakaway MPs, dubbing them the 'Seven Dwarfs'.

Galloway made reference to other rebel Labour MPs who may join their colleagues in exiting the party as a "whole raft of rats who are about to jump ship in the hope it will sink that ship," but that Labour will not only survive the departures but be "the more resplendent for being rid of them."

Galloway, who was an MP for 30 years, also spoke of when the so-called 'Gang of Four' quit the party back in 1981. The key difference between then and now, according to Galloway, is that while the four who left almost 40 years ago had gravitas and political heft, the "same cannot be said of the seven dwarfs on parade this morning."

Chris Leslie delivered an "honest statement" as a "supporter of the status quo" when the breakaway MP opined that Labour could not fulfil its election promises due to economic constraints, Galloway said, however:
Jeremy Corbyn's program can only be afforded if there are radical changes in the British economy, if the rich pay more for living in Britain in the way that they have been dodging doing over many, many decades.
The plan can only work "if there is a redistribution of wealth and ownership of the British economy," which is something Corbyn and Galloway think is justified. However, he said that Leslie and "people like him" do not want any fundamental change.

He dismissed accusations of anti-Semitism in Labour, Corbyn or those around him as a "lie," adding that Corbyn has been fighting anti-Semitism and racism "all of their lives." Further to that, Galloway said that all seven of the MPs who confirmed leaving Labour on Monday are associated with a group called 'the Labour Friends of Israel' and that their concern is not anti-Semitism, but anti-Israelism, and Corbyn's recognition of injustices against the Palestinian people.

Touching on Brexit, Galloway accused the group of trying to "thwart" the referendum result and "spit in the face" of the millions who voted in their encouragement for another vote: "The worst possible thing for social peace in Britain would be a political elite of which they are perfect quintessential examples to stab the British people's decision to leave the EU in the back."


A vocal opponent of the Iraq war, the ex-MP was officially expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 for inciting British troops to disobey what he described as illegal orders, and for bringing the party into disrepute.

In his video statement on Monday, Galloway said that unlike those "who ditched the Labour Party today, I believe in Labour." The people who kicked him out of the party almost killed Labour, he claimed, but "Jeremy Corbyn has brought it back to life."
As if the BBC hadn't already earned its title of government propaganda arm and Corbyn basher, the publicly funded broadcaster, apparently accidentally, aired an incredibly biased comment:
'We are actually f***ed': BBC airs swear-laden voiceover during Labour split

The BBC has been left red-faced after a voice commenting during their live broadcast of the Labour Party split was heard saying that "between this and Brexit we are actually f***ed."

Seven Labour MPs announced their decision to leave the party and set off on their own as an independent group on Monday morning, and the BBC was covering the event in London when viewers were surprised to hear the unexpected political commentary coming from someone off-screen.

The clip is under investigation, according to the BBC, which did not confirm or deny that an employee made the remarks.

"Due to an error, we inadvertently broadcast some background comments from another microphone during our coverage of the press conference this morning. We apologised on air once we realised our mistake," a BBC spokesperson told The Guardian.

Giggling viewers who caught the gaffe took to Twitter to share their delight and provide their own commentary, while some speculated if the technical glitch was actually an insight into the station's political preferences.




And last but not least, RT reports on Twitter's reaction:
'Good riddance': Twitter reacts to #LabourSplit as 7 MPs jump ship

[...]

In a press conference, Umunna stated that the established parties "cannot be the change because they have become the problem" arguing that it is "time we dumped this country's old-fashioned politics."

Jewish MP Luciana Berger said she was "embarrassed and ashamed" at what the Labour Party had become and criticized her former party for becoming "sickeningly institutionally racist."

"I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation. I look forward to a future serving with colleagues who respect each other," she added.

Reaction to the news online has been a mixture of shock and dismay, to outright derision. Some Labour supporters were quick to delight in the departures, suggesting the party will be stronger without detractors undermining it from within.





Others though said it was time for Jeremy Corbyn to take the criticism seriously.




Meanwhile, some Twitter users commented on Young Labour's somewhat barbed response to the situation.





See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


Magnify

Social media giants 'recruited' by foreign states to pressure Russian-linked media - Kremlin

facebook
© Michael Weber / Global Look Press
International social media giants hurt their own reputation when they join the forces with the foreign governments to exert pressure on Russian-linked media, the Kremlin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

"Many large companies which offer social media services and, let's say, other digital formats, are recruited by the authorities of unfriendly nations to be used as tools to apply pressure on Russian media," Peskov told reporters on Monday.

"We've seen it being done multiple times," he said, adding that such actions "lead to the loss of trust and seriously damage the reputation."

At the same time he advised people not to rush to conclusions regarding the recent takedown of Russian-linked pages by Facebook. "We must get an explanation first," Peskov stressed. "We know that [Russian outlets] had repeatedly managed to defend their rights."

Pirates

European govts reluctant to take back ISIS fighters - "They're dangerous!"

isis jihadists
© Reuters / Bassam Khabieh
Trump's call to European countries to "take back" and prosecute jihadists captured in Syria has met quite a mixed reaction, with Germany expressing legal concerns over the move and Denmark rejecting it altogether.

The bold demand was tweeted by the US president on Sunday. The options for Europe are simple - to take Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighters "back," or the US and its subordinate militants in Syria "will be forced to release them."

The call was heard, yet some countries flatly rejected it.

"We are talking about the most dangerous people in the world. We should not take them back," a spokesperson for Denmark's prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said. The official described Trump's call as premature, claiming that the situation in Syria was far from stable.

Germany was more subtle in its dismissal of Trump's demand, explaining that in theory German nationals who fought in IS ranks have the right to come back. Certain legal obstacles, however, prevent their immediate return.

Bullseye

Assad to militia groups 'betting on America': US will sell you out, no one can protect you but Syria

assad
© Reuters / SANA
The militia groups relying on US support in Syria will be sold out by Washington, which sees them as a token chip in a political bargain, President Bashar Assad said, while apparently referencing the Syrian-Turkish border.

"We say to those groups who are betting on the Americans, the Americans will not protect you,"Assad said during a televised speech aired Sunday. "The Americans will put you in their pockets so you can be tools in the barter, and they have started with [it]."

Relying on foreign support will only see those groups becoming the "slaves of Turkey," he warned. "Nobody will protect you except your state," Assad said. He added that Damascus treats "any intruder" as an enemy and is adamant "every inch of Syria will be liberated."

While Assad did not specifically name those "betting on the Americans," the message has apparently targeted the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - the US-backed, Kurdish-led militia, which is controlling the northeastern parts of the country. Syrian troops and the SDF have avoided engaging in a direct conflict over the years, yet relations between them appear to be quite strained.

Snakes in Suits

Pepe Escobar: US elites remain incapable of understanding China

USA China
© Christian Ohde / Global Look Press
A new report on US policy toward China launched by the Asia Society in New York is another example of how supposedly bipartisan US intellectual elites, instead of offering impartial advice, do little more than parrot Washington's talking points, failing to admit they know nothing of substance about the existential "threats" posed by Russia and China.

The report 'Course Correction: Toward an Effective and Sustainable China Policy' was written in collaboration with the 21st Century Chinese Center at the University of California, San Diego. Orville Schell, one of the chairs of the Task Force Report, should be seen as one of the least biased among an uneven basket of self-declared US experts on China.

Still, he frames the report as trying to find a way between "confronting China" and "accommodating China." That does not include "respecting" China - considering all the nation's achievements 40 years after the reforms launched by Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping.

Comment: It's quite clear for much of the world to see what China is up to, however the decaying establishment in the West are incapable of understanding it because they can't imagine a country not operating with the same deviant mindset as their own: Also check out SOTT radio's:


TV

Merkel: Children protesting climate change influenced from "outside"

Merkel
© Alexandra Beier/Getty Images
Merkel made her remarks about the protests as part of an answer to a question in which she addressed hybrid warfare
Chancellor said demonstrations couldn't have happened without 'outside influence.'

Angela Merkel's spokesman said she supported climate action protests by schoolchildren after the German chancellor said the demonstrations could not have taken place without outside influence.

In remarks at the annual Munich Security Conference, Merkel mentioned the protests after talking about hybrid warfare from Russia. Hybrid warfare uses techniques including cyberwarfare and disinformation to destabilize an opponent.

"In Germany now, children are protesting for climate protection. That is a really important issue," she said. "But you can't imagine that all German children, after years, and without any outside influence, suddenly hit on the idea that they have to take part in this process."

Comment: Merkel actually has a point, hybrid warfare is a reality. Just a few days ago in the UK thousands of school children attended a protest against 'global warming' - although it's probably not so surprising since they skipped a day of school to do so. However, contrary to what Merkel is implying, these movements and those responsible for their manipulation likely originate closer to home. For example, in France, it's the government, in line with EU diktats, who were levying higher taxes on diesel for 'environmental' reasons. And it's the Western establishment that has been bombarding the public with environmental propaganda for well over a decade. As for Merkel, it's also notable that she's on her way out and in the process has been making sure to get as many of her insidious talking points in as possible: Also check out SOTT radio's: