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Tue, 21 Feb 2017
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Russian Actions in Syria Part of Radical Remaking of Global Order: A New World Awaits

While keeping up with the ongoing geopolitical shenanigans between the US and Russia in Syria, I repeatedly note a recurring and glaring omission in every mainstream media report on the situation: a sensible reason why either country is so interested in Syria. There are, of course, narratives, like that both countries are 'fighting terrorism', or that the US is supporting democracy in Syria by trying to overthrow the 'brutal dictator' Assad. But I assume that, at this stage, most people are highly skeptical of those explanations. After all, way back in 2003, in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq, 15 million ordinary people saw right through the political narrative that the invasion was to protect Western populations from Saddam's (non-existent) WMDs and marched on Europe's streets chanting "no war for oil".

Many people knew the real reason for the scramble for Iraq, but do they know the reason for the scramble for Syria? And what about Russia? Is Putin fighting a purely ideological war against terrorists and helping Russia's long-term ally Assad to stay in power? Is that reason enough to launch modern Russia's first-ever large-scale military deployment abroad?

In an October 2015 essay, I outlined the realpolitik behind the war in Syria at that time. It was then, and still is, all about natural resources, specifically oil and especially natural gas. Intricately linked to the development of these two resources, and to the future configuration of the world economy, is Eurasian integration and the 'new Silk Road', i.e. a network of land links between Asia and Europe (more about that below).


U.S. "Pounds" Mosul, Russia Halts Airstrikes on Aleppo

© Azad Lashkari / Reuters
Peshmerga forces walk in the east of Mosul during operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, October 17, 2016.
(Scroll down for updates.)

Continuing our coverage of the Mosul offensive (see: Iraq Launches Major Op to Retake Daesh-held Mosul), the U.S. coalition envoy Brett McGruk says the "steady advance towards Mosul" is continuing. The combined forces of the Iraqi army, Kurds, and PMU are reaching their objectives ahead of schedule, despite some losses on all sides (including a Daesh military commander, Dwud Abdul Wahab, and a Kurdish commander, Fahmi Mohamed Qadir). Despite the fact that most Daesh fighters have already left the city, Obama still says "Mosul will be a difficult fight, and there will be advances and there will be setbacks." We guess that means the coalition will drop a few bombs here and there and pretend they're facing massive resistance on the ground. But there's a point to such rhetoric. Obama is talking up the Mosul offensive in advance of creating 'facts on the ground' through US participation in the offensive itself. The point being, if the US is directly involved in or has a controlling stake in the operation, it will be in a position to influence the future geopolitical game of competing oil and gas pipelines that this entire conflict and ISIS is all about.

The Kurdish Peshmerga cleared nine villages (200 square kilometers), moving the front line 8km closer to Mosul, Iraqi troops retook Nimrud and recaptured 50+ oil wells, and coalition jets hit 17 targets (destroying four explosive-rigged vehicles), the main obstacle being booby traps and "suicide bomber trucks" - vehicles packed with explosives that some brainwashed jihadi deliberately drives towards enemy troops before detonation. One Peshmerga major told AP his fighters are afraid to step out of their vehicles due to the dangers. While the Kurds agreed not to enter Mosul itself, they have apparently been given permission to retain control of the villages they liberate. The spoils of war...

Meanwhile, despite all their bluster, the Turks still haven't involved themselves in the operations. I guess that means Erdogan plans to move to "Plan B", whatever that is.


Iraq Launches Major Op to Retake Daesh-held Mosul - Baghdadi Escapes in Nick of Time! - Suicide Attack Kills 70+ Iraqi Troops

© REUTERS/ Stringer/Files
The U.S.'s most successful export.
The operation to retake northern Iraq's city of Mosul from the Islamic State terrorist organization began this morning. Anti-Daesh "coalition" commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said the battle could last for weeks, "possibly longer", and "may prove to be a long and tough battle." An Iraqi military source says it could be completed in two weeks (just in time for the U.S. elections!). CENTCOM says 19 nations are participating, which basically means Iraq, the U.S., and a bunch of hangers-on to cheer lead and maybe ride shotgun during an airstrike or two.

Daesh overtook and occupied the city in June 2014, causing half its population to flee and leaving 1.3 million civilians. The number of estimated anti-Daesh forces ranges anywhere from 30,000 to 65,000 to 80,000, with 4,000 Kurdish Peshmerga and 24,000 militiamen, not to mention around 6,000 U.S. troops. (The Kurds have agreed with the Iraqi government not to enter the city, however.) They are set to battle an estimated 3,000-4,500 Daesh militants (according to U.S. military estimates).

Back in February 2015, there were rumors that as many as 30,000 Daesh fighters were in Mosul - a number dismissed by one Iraqi officer as Daesh propaganda, the real number being closer to 12,000 fighters. In March 2016, CNN reported an estimate of "up to 10,000 ISIS fighters" there. And just four months ago, in June, Osama al-Nujaifi, head of United Coalition in Iraq, confirmed that there were 12,000 militants in the city and its suburbs. At the same time, U.S. coalition Col. Christopher Garver said ISIS had "less than 10,000" fighters in Mosul.

In other words, for a year and a half, the number of Daesh militants in Mosul has been estimated by Iraqi and American sources at around 10,000-12,000. Now the Americans are saying there are only 3,000-4500. (And that probably includes the various local Baathists and Sufist Naqshbandi Army insurgents.) By those numbers, that means that anywhere from 5,500 to 9,000 Daesh fighters are MIA. Where did they go?

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Behind the Headlines: The 2016 US Presidential Race at the End of Murica's Imperial Reign

It's ugly. It's fascinating, And it's fascinating in its ugliness. The 2016 US presidential race has seen so many sensational twists and turns, and its implications are so clearly horrendous for the United States and for the rest of the world, that we can barely turn away from the next statement, scandal or knock-on effect that this contest of wills presents us with. King Kong v. Godzilla doesn't even begin to describe it. But describe it we will, because whoever "wins," everyone loses.

Join us this week on Behind the Headlines as we delve deeply into these and other major stories of the day.

Running Time: 01:49:59

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The Health & Wellness Show: The medical and social implications of gender multiplicity

He, her, ze, zer, gender queer, androgynous, person of transgender experience, two-spirited. It seems that, while gender was once such a simple non-issue, in our crumbling world it's become ridiculously complicated. Phrases like "boys and girls" no longer accepted in classrooms, "men" getting pregnant, $250000 fines for calling someone the wrong gender pronoun and toddlers transitioning to the opposite sex - it's never been more confusing to use a bathroom than in the 21st century. On the other hand, violence, bullying, suicides and even murder of transgendered people is at an all time high. Has political correctness gone too far? Are transgendered people being unfairly discriminated against? Is there a physiological component to gender dysphoria or is it a result of childhood trauma?

Join us as we explore the social, psychological and medical issues surrounding gender fluidity.

And, as always, stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where the topic will be animal reproduction.

Running Time: 01:10:12

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SOTT Earth Changes Summary - September 2016: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs

© Sott.net
Super-typhoon Meranti damages an ancient temple in Taiwan
As the Empire crumples under its own hubris, and as the flames of discontent spread amid rumors of world war, planetary upheaval continues unabated. This month's Hurricane Matthew will probably be remembered as the year's worst storm event in the US (and elsewhere), but in September two other storms, Hermine and Julia - one of them Florida's first hurricane since 2005, and the other the first such storm to ever form directly over the Sunshine State - inundated the coastal US Southeast.

A series of cyclones also brought wave after wave of flooding to southeastern Australia, breaking rainfall records dating back to the country's foundation in the 19th century, and bringing the country as a whole its third wettest winter on record. Meanwhile multiple typhoons in the northwest Pacific battered the Philippines, Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan. 50% stronger today than 40 years ago, the strongest of these cyclonic storms - Category 5 Meranti - was the strongest anywhere in the world so far this year, and second only to 2013's Typhoon Haiyan in the record books.

In addition to the walls of water brought by these large storms, local downbursts brought record-breaking rainfall, causing severe flash-flooding that washed away cars, homes and people in parts of the US, Mexico, Tunisia, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, India, Indonesia, and China. Oklahoma, which never experienced earthquakes until recently, last month felt its strongest yet. A record-strong earthquake also hit South Korea, while a strong quake in Skopje, Macedonia, damaged buildings and sent residents into a panic.

Multiple volcanic eruptions, mass fish kills, whale beachings and meteor fireball events round off another eventful month of Earth Changes...

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The Truth Perspective: Thirty-plus years of Visas for Al-Qaeda: Interview with J. Michael Springmann

© www.presstv.ir
J. Michael Springmann worked for the State Department in the 1980s, in Saudi Arabia. What he witnessed and experienced did not make much sense at the time, but what he later learned put it all in context, and helped to explain the entire course of U.S. foreign policy for the next 30 years. In short, just as the CIA provided funding and training for radical Mujahideen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, they have been doing the same thing ever since. Prior to 9/11, this legion of foreign fighters was used to destabilize and destroy Yugoslavia. Afterward, Iraq, Libya, and today Syria.

For this entire period of time, al-Qaeda has been a fighting force for America, a fact that has been known for years, but which is only now going mainstream due to American failures and Russian successes in Syria.

Today, we interview Mr. Springmann about his time at the consulate in Jeddah, and the events that led him to blow the whistle and expose the reality of the U.S.'s creation and support of terrorism around the globe.

You can visit Mr. Springmann's website here: michaelspringmann.com

His book is Visas for al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World

In the second hour of the show, we discussed the latest Trump and Clinton leaks, and how they reveal what everyone should have already known: politicians are two-faced and corrupt, and fairly unsavory individuals. Brent closed the show with another Police State Round-up on police un-accountability.

Running Time: 02:04:03

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The Health & Wellness Show: When the body says, 'Whoah!': Rare diseases and strange ailments

© Unknown
There are a number of people currently living around the world who are experiencing the weirdest, rarest diseases known to man. Some are genetic, some are caused by injury and practically all of them leave the most learned medical professionals scratching their heads in confusion. When the human body works as it should it can be a wonder to behold, but what about when things go wrong? Gustatory auditory synaesthesia, polydactyly, misophonia, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive, hirsuitism and spontaneous human combustion are just a few of the conditions we'll talk about. What causes these strange ailments? A cruel mishap in the genetic lottery, karma, poverty and malnutrition, a disturbance in the morphic field?

Join us on this episode of the Health and Wellness Show as we discuss these rare diseases.
Stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment where the topic will be strange animals.

Running Time: 01:25:38

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Airplane Paper

Russia Checkmates US in Syria: Expect More Terrorism, Not Nuclear War

© Sputnik/Andrey Stenin
If you happen to be a member of the 'international community' - i.e., if you live in North America, Europe or Australia/New Zealand - you may have noticed a subtle shift in recent years in what you 'know' about Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. From being just another country that you might like to visit one day, Russia and its leader have been transformed into the source of much of the world's problems.

From 'Russian aggression in Europe' to 'annexing Crimea and fomenting civil war in Ukraine' to 'shooting down passenger planes' to 'hacking American democracy' to 'bombing innocent civilians and hospitals' (and bunny rabbits) to 'creating the European refugee crisis' to having a monopoly on 'state-sponsored doping' and 'supporting terrorists in Syria', there doesn't seem to be much that Russia hasn't done to royally screw up the planet.

Of course, the astute reader will have noticed that most of these allegations come from American politicians, political pundits and newspapers.

In recent weeks, the level of anti-Russian vitriol coming out of places like the US State Department has reached such a pitch that we all might be excused for taking up yoga in anticipation of the moment when we must perform the necessary maneuver to kiss our collective arse goodbye in a global nuclear conflagration.

But the existential threat of a 'hot war' between Russia and the USA is more the stuff of nightmares and propaganda than reality. The reality is that the 'exceptional' USA is all out of options, including nuclear, when it comes to impeding Russia's emergence as a major world power with global influence.

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A new kind of war: Russian journalist and war expert on what they learned in Syria

Syrian National Defense Forces - the first line of defense against terror warfare for Syrian towns and villages.
Syria is currently fighting a war that is unprecedented. That's according to Vasily Pavlov and Andrey Filatov - a Russian journalist and a Russian military man. As they describe in the lecture below, the type of war the Syrian army is fighting is unconventional to say the least. But "terror warfare" probably isn't as new and unheard-of as they imply - you can already see aspects of it in the Allies' firebombing of German and Japanese cities in WWII, the use of death squads in Latin America and Southeast Asia, and most recently in the terror wars on Iraq and Libya. But the terror warfare in Syria has arguably gone on longer than intended - Assad and his army have proved more resilient than anticipated, especially after Russia intervened - and the war has morphed into something new simply by virtue of the fact that it takes the black-ops/death-squad approach to another, all-encompassing level.