Friday, December 8, 2017

Today's Links

"While Netanyahu hailed Trump’s decision as a “historic landmark,” in reality it is merely a tombstone erected on the grave of the political fictions known as the “peace process” and the “two-state solution” that have been used to mask and justify the oppression of the Palestinian people for decades.
Trump’s action has laid bare—once again—the fraud of the claims that the aspirations of the Palestinian people and an end to their oppression by the Zionist state can be obtained through deals and maneuvers between imperialism and the Arab bourgeois regimes."   Bill Van Auken, WSWS

1--Russia plays central role in ME peace process

Russia also plans to suggested a peace congress in Libya to end the six-year conflict similar to talks that will be held in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry and parliament’s lead negotiator on Libya Lev Dengov has told Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper.

The concept of a Syrian national dialogue congress was suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The congress will aim at adopting final documents on reconciliation and creating a committee that will draft a new constitution.

“Russia’s initiative was positively assessed in Italy several days ago. They called it an unparalleled format of dialogue. So why not apply it to Libya after we have established contacts with all parties to the conflict. We will use it,” Dengov said.
All Syrian ethnic groups and religious sects as well as opposition factions from Syria and abroad have been invited to participate

2--Mideast Peacemaking is No Longer Made-in-America

the Syrian opposition have lost the war—victors decide the peace, not the vanquished.

So the U.S. turned its hand to resuscitating a limp Geneva peace process that might have delivered a Syrian political settlement sans Assad.

Instead, two years on, the tables have turned in this sphere, too. Today, it is the Iranians, Turks, and Russians leading reconciliation efforts in Syria through a process established in Astana and continued last week in Sochi—not Geneva. The three states have transformed the ground war by isolating key extremists, carving out ceasefire zones, and negotiating deals to keep the peace.

To nobody’s surprise, the Americans are neither part of this new initiative, nor have they offered any constructive counters. Meanwhile, the UN’s Geneva framework, after eight rounds of talks, has not once been able to bring the two Syrian sides face-to-face at the Big Table....

the “Syrian opposition” do not actually represent “the Syrian people.” Most of these individuals have been selected by foreign governments—until recently, mainly by U.S. allies in Riyadh, Doha, Ankara—to do their bidding in Geneva, and have been “elected” by no more than a few dozen other Syrians in foreign capitals....

A “political solution” in Sochi next?

Ceasefires are, incidentally, one of the two primary objectives of the Geneva process. They are the military part of a Syrian solution.

The other objective is the political settlement of the Syrian conflict, envisioned by Geneva’s architects as the establishment of a transitional government that would generate a revised constitution, prepare elections, and the like....

In a joint statement, the presidents of Iran, Russia, and Turkey called for a “Syrian National Dialogue Congress” to be held in Sochi in the near future, consisting of the Syrian government and “the opposition that are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-fractional character of the Syrian state.”...

In the end, it is altogether conceivable that a final Syrian political solution will look very similar to the reforms Assad offered up in 2011 and 2012. His proposals were never given the time or space to mature and were, at the time, rejected outright by foreign governments and their Syrian allies.

But most importantly, if Sochi can finish what Geneva could never start, we will be thrust into a genuine post-American era where alternative regional actors will be able to broker globally significant peace deals....

Trump this week forever dispelled the notion that America is an honest mediator in Middle East peace efforts when he unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It is not surprising that the Saudis, Jordanians, Qataris, Sudanese, Egyptians, and others are now beating a path to Moscow for some fresh thinking.

3--Saudi prince leading anti-corruption crackdown revealed as buyer of $450mn da Vinci painting

4--America's richest 1% owns 40% of country's wealth - study

5-- Trump and Jerusalem: The end of the Mideast “peace” charade

In one stroke, Trump upended the posturing of past administrations. In doing so, he sent a clear signal to the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that its expansion of Zionist settlements, expropriation of Palestinian land, ethnic cleansing and wholesale repression will enjoy unconditional support from Washington....

In the wake of Trump’s speech, there have been numerous warnings that the shift in US policy will provoke new terrorist attacks, with Islamist groups such as Al Qaeda appealing to religious sentiments. No doubt this has been factored into the calculations of the US military and intelligence apparatus, which will seize upon any new act of terrorism as the pretext for war abroad—particularly against Iran—and intensified attacks on democratic rights at home....

While Netanyahu hailed Trump’s decision as a “historic landmark,” in reality it is merely a tombstone erected on the grave of the political fictions known as the “peace process” and the “two-state solution” that have been used to mask and justify the oppression of the Palestinian people for decades.
Trump’s action has laid bare—once again—the fraud of the claims that the aspirations of the Palestinian people and an end to their oppression by the Zionist state can be obtained through deals and maneuvers between imperialism and the Arab bourgeois regimes.

In its Zionist variant, it claimed legitimacy on the grounds of establishing a homeland for Jews fleeing the horrors of the Holocaust. Instead, it has created a militarized state based upon colonialism and expansionism, pitting the Jewish population against the Palestinians and the other peoples of the region, while presiding over one of the most unequal societies on the face of the planet. As Leon Trotsky warned, the creation of this state has proven to be a “bloody trap” for the Jewish people.

6--Impeachment?  No takers among Dems

Democratic Congressman Al Green on Thursday moved a vote in the House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment against Trump, which was overwhelmingly rejected by congressional Democrats and unanimously by Republicans....

The eruption of ferocious conflicts within the states is the expression, however, of a deeper disease, for which the ruling class has no solution. If Trump’s ruling class critics were to succeed in removing him, it would not resolve the crisis of class rule that is engulfing the United States. It would place in power a government even more firmly under the control of the military-intelligence apparatus, committed to continuing the offensive against the working class and escalating the military confrontation with Russia.
An altogether different conflict is developing, between the ruling class and the working class. Three billionaires now control more wealth than half of the population in the United States. The broad mass of the population is suffering from an escalating crisis—mass indebtedness, low-wage jobs, an expanding drug epidemic, and other manifestations of social distress. The financial system, inflated through an endless infusion of cash, is teetering on the edge of another collapse, on the scale of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, with incalculable consequences.

7--The man who sold his soul---informed people will see this black propaganda offensive for what it is: weaponizing sports in the geopolitical war waged by America against Russia. (America never plays fair?)

But as ITV Sports editor Steve Scott put it last month, the report didn't even come close to establishing "beyond a reasonable doubt." Ninety-five out of 96 cases involving Russian athletes under investigation by WADA were shut down because "there was not sufficient evidence to pursue an anti-doping violation." Given his criminal history, it is not surprising that Rodchenkov has attempted to implicate 'the Kremlin' in what was likely a criminal scheme largely of his own making. .....

Cultural war against Russia
When the US government realized that it could no longer militarily intimidate Russia, a few years ago it decided to try to wage economic warfare against the country. When that effort also failed, the reality-creators in Washington figured they could force the Russians back in line by initiating a global smear campaign. From gay rights to hacking elections to sporting events, nothing is off the table when it comes to spreading bogus allegations about how 'evil' Russia and the Russian people supposedly are. Will Washington succeed now where they have so far repeatedly failed? Probably not. ....

As is now a familiar pattern when it comes to sanctioning Russia in toto based on the testimony of one shady character, the banning of Russia from sporting events stems from the claims made by one Grigory Rodchenkov. He fled Russia in 2015 to (where else?) the USA, where he spilled the beans on an alleged doping program during the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi.

The strange thing is that Rodchenkov has been accusing others of what he himself has done in the most egregious way.

As the head of the WADA-approved Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov was responsible for tampering with the samples of Russian athletes and developing a three-drug cocktail of banned substances that he mixed with liquor and sold for personal profit to Russian athletes that competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. According to an investigator with Moscow City court, he prescribed many of these drugs as 'vitamins' to unwitting athletes. For years prior to this, Rodchenkov and his sister Marina also ran a sideline selling PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) to anyone else who was willing to pay. In 2011, the two Rodchenkovs were arrested and found guilty of drug dealing. Marina spent 18 months in prison while Grigory escaped jail time by claiming insanity and spending time in the Kashchenko psychiatric hospital.

In 2015, two 'whistleblowers,' former Russian 800m runner Yuliya Stepanov and her husband, interviewed and recorded Rodchenkov, without his knowledge, where he talked about doping at the Sochi Olympics. In February 2016, allegedly 'fearing for his safety,' Rodchenkov fled to the USA, where he is currently part of a witness protection program. The Stepanovs are also ensconced somewhere in the Land of the Free. 

8-- Is Flynn's Defection a Death Blow?

After 18 months, we have no evidence Trump colluded with Russia in hacking the emails of the DNC or John Podesta, which is what the FBI investigation was supposedly about.
There is no conclusive evidence Flynn committed a crime when, as national security adviser-designate, he tried to prevent Obama from sabotaging the policies Trump had run on — and won on.
Yet there is evidence Russian intelligence agents colluded with a British spy in the pay of the oppo research arm of the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign — to find dirt on Donald Trump.

And there is evidence James Comey’s FBI wanted to hire the British spy who appeared to have access to the Russian agents who appeared to possess all that wonderful dirt on the Donald.
It is hard to see how this ends well....

Why did he not tell the FBI the truth?
As national security adviser to the president-elect, Flynn had called the ambassador. Message: Tell President Putin not to overreact to President Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats. Trump will be president in three weeks, and we are committed to a new relationship.....

Flynn, it now appears, was not freelancing, but following instructions. His deputy, K. T. McFarland, sent an email to six Trump advisers saying that Obama, by expelling the Russians, was trying to “box Trump in diplomatically.”...

“If there is a tit-for-tat escalation,” warned McFarland, “Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia.” Exactly.
Flynn was trying to prevent Russian retaliation. Yet, as the ex-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, he had to know his call to Kislyak was being monitored and recorded.

9--The Nutball the Neocons Wanted in NATO 

10-- Flynn's Sin Was Lying to Liars, Not Colluding with Russians

Yet another tool in the Deep State toolbox is to lean on family members in order to extract a confession. To get Flynn senior to confess, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is purported to have threatened Mike Flynn junior with a legal kneecapping.

Ultimately, The State has overwhelming power when compared to the limited resources and power of an accused. The power differential between The State and an accused means he or she, as the compromised party, will cop a plea.

The Flynn guilty plea bargain, if you will, is nothing more than a negotiated deal which subverts the very goal of justice: the search for truth

11--What Did John Brennan and Anonymous Sources Really Say?

The Washington Post and a number of other mainstream media outlets are sensing blood in the water in the wake of former CIA Director John Brennan’s public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. The Post headlined a front page featured article with Brennan’s explosive testimony just made it harder for the GOP to protect Trump. The article states that Brennan during the 2016 campaign “reviewed intelligence that showed ‘contacts and interaction’ between Russian actors and people associated with the Trump campaign.” Politico was also in on the chase in an article entitled Brennan: Russia may have successfully recruited Trump campaign aides.

The precise money quote by Brennan that the two articles chiefly rely on is “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”

12-- Mueller-Rosenstein-Comey Deep state tagteam-- POLITICAL PROSECUTION: Mueller’s Hit Squad Covered For Clinton And Persecutes Trump Associates

Comey’s FBI took that purchased pack of lies to a secret court (FISA) to get a secret warrant to record conversations of one of candidate Trump’s associates. The media laughed at the President for suggesting he had been wiretapped.
Let that sink in: The incumbent-but-departing-administration secretly wiretapped the team of the incoming President of the United States (whom it despised)—based on lies the Clinton campaign bought-and-paid-for from a Russian.....

We learned this week that while Mueller has been stonewalling Congress, he has been protecting a corrupted FBI Agent—his lead investigator Peter Strzok—the same agent who helped craft Director Comey’s exoneration of Mrs. Clinton and conducted her “interview” with the FBI shortly after Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton. Agent Strzok was actually fired months ago for text messages with his mistress revealing his disdain for President Trump. Agent Strzok is the agent responsible for interviewing retired General Flynn and is under investigation himself by the Inspector General for his role in the Clinton email “investigation.”...

The fallacious facade of quasi-attorney general Mueller’s “investigation” is crumbling by the minute, revealing ugly truths and the stench of a political persecution at its worst.

We learn more every day that Mueller’s team consists of corrupt Clinton cronies, donors, and sycophants; the poster boy for prosecutorial misconduct — Andrew Weissmann, former Clinton lawyer Jeanie Rhee, and “never-Trumpers” whose blatant biases have tainted this investigation — “investigation” — from its inception. Their own conflicts of interest are so palpable, the prosecution so selective, and the process so corrupt, that all charges brought to date should be dismissed and the debacle ended.

It’s hard to tell quite where and how it all began, but here is a start.
First, Robert Mueller, James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Mueller lieutenant Andrew Weissmann all have longstanding, strong relationships with each other. Each of these key men worked for and with Mueller throughout their careers. The fingerprints of each of them are on the Uranium One transactions with Russia which infused the Clintons and their “Foundation” with hundreds of millions of dollars while helping Russia and depleting our supply of uranium....

Given that extremely brief time frame, and Comey’s admitted leaks to the New York Times of his conversations with the President (which should have been protected at a minimum by executive privilege), one can surmise that three or all four of these men communicated extensively and hatched this plan for Mueller to be special counsel—if not prior to Comey’s termination, then immediately after it.
Why else would Comey tell Congress that he leaked his conversations to a friend to get to the New York Times “hoping” to trigger the appointment of a special counsel?

13--Mueller Charges Against Flynn Exonerate Trump of Russian Collusion by Publius Tacitus

14-- Putin is defending a world that most Americans want. Washington rejects that world.  

When the U.N. was established, its founders did not in the least think that there would always be unanimity. The mission of the organization is to seek and reach compromises, and its strength comes from taking different views and opinions into consideration. Decisions debated within the U.N. are either taken as resolutions or not. As diplomats say, they either pass or do not pass.

Whatever actions any state might take bypassing this procedure are illegitimate. They run counter to the charter and defy international law. We all know that after the end of the Cold War — everyone is aware of that — a single center of domination emerged in the world, and then those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that if they were strong and exceptional, they knew better and they did not have to reckon with the U.N., which, instead of [acting to] automatically authorize and legitimize the necessary decisions, often creates obstacles or, in other words, stands in the way.

It has now become commonplace to see that in its original form, it has become obsolete and completed its historical mission. Of course, the world is changing and the U.N. must be consistent with this natural transformation. Russia stands ready to work together with its partners on the basis of full consensus, but we consider the attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They could lead to a collapse of the entire architecture of international organizations, and then indeed there would be no other rules left but the rule of force.
We would get a world dominated by selfishness rather than collective work, a world increasingly characterized by dictate rather than equality  There would be less of a chain of democracy and freedom, and that would be a world where true independent states would be replaced by an ever-growing number of de facto protectorates and externally controlled territories.

What is the state sovereignty, after all, that has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It is basically about freedom and the right to choose freely one's own future for every person, nation and state. By the way, dear colleagues, the same holds true of the question of the so-called legitimacy of state authority. One should not play with or manipulate words.

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