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Mon, 21 May 2018
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Crimea: Russian FSB shuts down extremist group created by MP's aide of the Ukrainian parliament

Russian FSB members
© Igor Zarembo / Sputnik
The Federal Security Service (FSB) has shut down the activity of an extremist group in Crimea that had been created by an aide to Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada member of parliament, the FSB Center for Public Relations told TASS.

"The Federal Security Service and the Russian Interior Ministry have revealed the activity of an extremist group created by Erol Veliyev, aide to Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada member of parliament [Mustafa] Dzhemilev, as ordered by [Refat] Chubarov, who is the leader of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, which is outlawed in Russia, and is on the wanted list, with support from the Ukrainian Security Service," the FSB Center for Public Relations reported.

Apart from Veliyev, former boxers Steshenko and Tretyakov are also members of the group that was formed in Kharkov, FSB reported. "The extremists planned to commit crimes based on political hatred with a goal to threaten the pro-Russian Crimean Tatars and stoke national tensions on the territory of the Republic of Crimea," the Center noted.


Syrian Navy receives high speed patrol boat from Russia

The Raptor (Project 03160) high-speed patrol boat
© www.pellaship.ru
The Raptor (Project 03160) high-speed patrol boat
On May 20, Syrian pro-government activists revealed that the Syrian Coastal Guards had received at least one Project 03160 "Raptor" high speed patrol boat from the Russian Navy. The boat is currently carrying out patrols along the coast of the city of Tartus, according to the activists.

The news outlet Shephard Military News reported on July 8, 2017 that Russia is planning to supply the Syrian Coastal Guard with new patrol boats and other equipment. Back then, the source said that the delivery of boats will begin in 2017 and will be completed in 2019.

Russian Ro-Ro ship Alexandr Tkachenko was spotted carrying military equipment including at least one Raptor high speed patrol boat while crossing the Bosporus en route to the Syrian coastal city of Tartus on April 13.


Satellite images reveal increased number of Russian warplanes in T-4 Airbase

Satellite image of the T-4 airbase in Homs
Russia is still extensively using a large airbase in central Syria to launch sorties against positions for the rebel groups across the country, satellite images reveal.

The images, released online, clearly show four SU-25 jets, as well as a squadron of helicopters including three Ka-52 attack helicopters.

The highly-operational T-4 airbase hosts Russian as well as Iranian forces which help the Syrian Army fights the terror groups across the war-torn country.

Comment: See also: Syrian T-4 airbase in Homs province hit by airstrikes - UPDATE: Israel did it

Arrow Down

German cartoonist sacked over Netanyahu caricature

Netanyahu caricature
Social media users slammed the cartoon as anti-Semitic. The newspaper offered excuses, but the author of the cartoon didn't. The elderly cartoonist claimed that being fired for an inappropriate cartoon is an unusual punishment.

German popular daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung fired its cartoonist after his caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was harshly criticized on social media, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported. The cartoon in the now withdrawn issue of the magazine depicts Netanyahu in the likeness of Israeli singer Netta Barzilai, who won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, while holding a missile in his hand. The text balloon above him said "next year in Jerusalem."

After the cartoon caused public uproar, the newspaper's chief editor, Wolfgang Krach, issued his apologies, but the 85-year-old cartoonist refused to follow the suit, which led to him being fired. Dieter Hanitzsch, the author of the controversial cartoon, said that such a punitive measure for an inappropriate drawing is not normal.

"You can reprimand him [the cartoonist], warn him, but firing is not a good way," he said.


China better prepared to deal with US sanctions on Iran than EU - analyst

© AP Photo / Vahid Salemi
China's state-owned energy giant CNPC is ready to replace French energy company Total's stake in the Iranian South Pars gas project. In 2017, Total and CNPC signed a 20-year contract worth 4.8 billion dollars to develop Phase 11 of Iran's South Pars field. Sputnik spoke with political analyst Tom McGregor about CNPC's acquisition plan.

Sputnik: How serious is CNPC about acquiring Total's stake in the South Pars gas project in your opinion?

McGregor: Definitely if it's available to them they will certainly look at the deal and the way the Chinese do business is that they don't make an announcement unless they are going to do something. They are very secretive about this kind of stuff, so unless there is some weird bluff, there's no reason for them to make an announcement unless they are very serious. Chances are they are already taking action and they have already moved forward on it and they are just waiting to sign the deal to see what Total does.


Cuba mourns after 107 killed in Boeing 737 airliner crash

The Cuban national flag half-mast
© AFP photo
The Cuban national flag is raised at half-mast in tribute to the victims of a plane crash.
Cuba began two days of national mourning Saturday for victims of the crash of a state airways plane that killed all but three of its 110 passengers and crew.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel said an investigation was under way into Friday's crash of the nearly 40-year-old Boeing 737, leased to the national carrier Cubana de Aviacion by a Mexican company.

Three women pulled alive from the mangled wreckage are the only known survivors.

The Boeing crashed shortly after taking off from Jose Marti airport, coming down in a field near the airport and sending a thick column of acrid smoke into the air.

Георгиевская ленточка

Skripal case no longer important: How Russia may soon become the EU's darling

Sergei Skripal
© Associated Press / Misha Japaridze / File
Sergei Skripal speaks to his lawyer from behind bars seen on a screen of a monitor outside a courtroom in Moscow Aug. 9, 2006
Former spy Sergei Skripal was discharged from Salisbury hospital on May 18. Speaking to Sputnik, Adam Garrie, director at Eurasia Future, opined that the British inquiry into the Skripals' poisoning will end up with nothing to show and explained why Europe could soon ease anti-Russian sanctions and open its markets to China.

No matter how much London wants to use the Skripal case as a stick to beat Russia with, it needs Moscow in its upcoming fight for the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by Donald Trump on May 8, Adam Garrie, a geopolitical analyst and director at Eurasia Future, opined.
"Now Europe will have to work with both Russia and China if it is serious about preserving the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal), Europe (including Britain) may need to relax sanctions in a meaningful way because the JCPOA cannot be saved by Europe alone. Europe will need to work with Russia and China and this means dropping sanctions against Russia and opening up EU markets to China."

Bad Guys

The deep state is very real and it's in Trump's White House

white house deep state
Most don't have to look very hard to see clear evidence that there's a deep state. But now it's becoming even more clear that president Donald Trump's White House, at least in some capacity, is a part of the same deep state the president promised to eliminate by "draining the swamp."

Trump does indeed have a problem with people working against him, but some of those people are awfully close by...

Leaks to the media have plagued Trump's presidency since his first day in office, and a new report on leakers' motives opens a window into the extent of the subterfuge. "To be honest, it probably falls into a couple of categories," one White House official told Axios's Jonathan Swan. "The first is personal vendettas. And two is to make sure there's an accurate record of what's really going on in the White House." Many of those with ties and puppet strings connecting them to the deep state are actually in Trump's White House, according to The Washington Post.

Comment: Trump continues to try to implement policies that he believes would lead to the betterment of the American people, but it seems the deep state holds more sway: Also check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: The Art of The Iran no-Deal: Trump, Israel, And The End of The Atlantic Alliance


Those who express outrage over TSA groping will now be put on a watchlist

© YouTube
From the 'touchlist' to the 'watchlist'
Travelers who are deemed "offensive" could be the targets of even more harassment from the TSA if they are placed on the agency's new secret watchlist.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is forming a new watchlist specifically for people who give its agents a hard time during security screenings, and are deemed "unruly" passengers who act in ways that TSA agents find "offensive."

The New York Times obtained a five-page directive recently published by the agency announcing the establishment of the watchlist or "95 list," which is a new program that began in February.

The directive, which was reportedly issued by Darby LaJoye, TSA's assistant administrator for security operations, states that "An intent to injure or cause physical pain is not required, nor is an actual physical injury."

The criteria that could land a person on the list is extremely vague and could include anything from loitering near the checkpoint to having a verbal altercation with a TSA agent. The directive also suggested that anyone who presents "challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening" could be added to the list.

Comment: What's more offensive: The TSA's fine choice between gropings? Or, those on-file radiation pictures that leave nothing to the imagination!

The watchlist threat of secret profiling is a gross abuse of power with little recourse for a listed person to appeal, if that person even knows of the listing. Once again the rights of the many are compromised or negated by 'concern over the few'. We all know this is only one more step in the infraction of rights being perpetrated upon today's society and merely another lame-blame scenario to do so.


Drone footage of US troops' last stand and escape from Niger ambush

Mission footage
© Department of Defense
Mission Footage
Newly released footage from the Pentagon shows how US troops ambushed in Niger prepared for their last stand, the aborted French airstrike on Islamic State militants, and friendly fire by Nigerian rescuers.

The US Department of Defense has put together a 23-minute video showing the October 4, 2017 ambush of US special forces operatives and their Nigerian hosts outside the village of Tongo-Tongo, near Niger's border with Mali in sub-Saharan Africa.

Only 11 minutes of the video were shown to Congress last week, however. The rest, made public late Thursday, shows the surviving troops bracing for what they thought would be their last stand, and includes the footage from two unarmed US drones that arrived on the scene of the battle.

Comment: See also: More PNAC delusion: Pentagon justifies increase of US troops in Africa as key to 'global strategy'