Saturday, March 3, 2018

Today's links

1--The Oscar speech we'd like to hear on Sunday night

“Members of the Academy [Fumbles for speech.] …"What’s going on here tonight and what’s been going on since October is simply filthy and disgraceful.  Sexual assault is horrendous, a crime, but that’s not what this is about. Harvey Weinstein was a convenient jumping-off point, that’s all. And you know it. What began with Weinstein has become a full-scale witch-hunt, in some ways more pernicious than the McCarthyite purges of the late 1940s and 1950s.
“Individuals have been essentially criminalized and ‘disappeared’ on the basis of unsubstantiated, often anonymous accusations. Some of our more talented and intriguing performers have had their careers destroyed. Academy Award winners Kevin Spacey and Geoffrey Rush have been thrown to the wolves. Poor Louis C.K. has been turned into a non-person. ...
“Casey Affleck didn’t dare show up here tonight. Only a few years ago most of you would have murdered a close family member to land a part in a Woody Allen movie. Now many of you are cheering on the sick and pathetic Mia Farrow. Shame on you! And where is Matt Damon, who had the audacity to point out there was a ‘difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation’? Ben Affleck, Jeffrey Tambor, Garrison Keillor, perhaps James Franco, and Roman Polanski still! … these are the new criminals, the new demons. And as though it were not enough to destroy careers, you have nominated Christopher Plummer for best actor, which must be the first time someone has been honored for directly scabbing on a colleague.
“And the result of all this has been more repression and more censorship. Women haven’t benefited, except for a few at the top. The conditions of working women haven’t been affected in the slightest.
“What rotten hypocrites many of you are! Wouldn’t it be lovely if all the details of your sex lives, including from 30 or 40 years ago, came to light? Would they be so irreproachable? Has any artistic community ever been renowned for its moral firmness and self-restraint? Show me one! This new puritanism is as reprehensible as the original one. It’s the sanctimonious, censorious, self-centered upper-middle class in charge, God help us.
“This same affluent middle class had no ‘moral’ difficulty with Barack Obama’s 540 murderous drone strikes, “kill lists” and endless wars in Libya, Syria, Yemen and beyond. This same crowd, made rich and especially stupid by the stock market boom, has no problem with the endless suffering of the poor and the working class, men and women, in the United States or anywhere else. These self-pitying loudmouths, many of them multi-millionaires, would have us believe that their ‘daily torment’ is a world-historical occurrence.
“Pardon me, if I don’t take part in celebrating this well-promoted and well-remunerated ‘bravery.’ These allegations, some or even many of them may well be true—but I’ll stick my neck out, some of them are lies, self-serving, outright lies.
“This is a Democratic Party-New York Times operation, it goes hand in hand with the anti-Russian hysteria and Internet censorship.  Ashley Judd and Ronan Farrow, for example, are essentially Democratic Party operatives. They have no credibility whatsoever. All of these people supported Hillary Clinton, a warmonger in the pocket of Wall Street. Even if every allegation against Weinstein, for example, were true, he would not be one-hundredth the criminal that Clinton is, up to her elbows in the blood of the Libyan, Syrian and other peoples...
“What odious depths of conformism and cowardice there are in Hollywood! After the infamous blacklist and the anti-communist purges, the studios, the media and the film unions said it could never happen again. They’d all learned their lesson, we were told. In fact, they learned nothing. Everyone here is once again toeing the line, chiming in with denunciations, scared to death, miserably trying to save their own skins. There doesn’t seem to be the slightest concern with democratic rights, due process. It’s revolting, and so sadly predictable.
“You think your ‘sex life complications’ are so fascinating, but most of the population is paying no attention. They have more important things to worry about.
“In West Virginia, 30,000 teachers and school employees are on strike, defying the state government, politicians of both parties, their own treacherous unions. The working class has been suppressed for years, big strikes have become a thing of the past, and the result has been a sharp lowering of wages, the destruction of conditions, the impoverishment of millions. It has also had a terrible impact on art and film, which is connected in complicated ways with popular moods and movements, and nourished by rebellion and resistance.
“When millions of workers break out of the straitjacket of the unions and the Democratic Party, it will have a shattering, healthy impact on the general atmosphere, including the atmosphere among the artists. From that point of view, what the West Virginia workers are doing is more important for the future of culture than 90 percent of the films honored here tonight. 
“So, once again, dear members of the Academy, you ‘wonderful, sweet people,’ as Charlie Chaplin, driven out of Hollywood by the Red Scare, commented years ago … Once again, allow me to register the strongest and angriest possible protest against the sexual hysteria and the entire effort of this rich, selfish crowd to impose their ‘morals’ on movie making and on the movie-going public. I urge others to speak up and help expose this reactionary fraud.
“And, as for this Oscar, I think you know what you can do with it!

2-- PUTIN: "Listen to us now"

Putin denied accusations of starting an arms race, saying one had effectively been initiated with the US pulling out of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty (ABM Treaty) in 2002.

Putin also said, “We are greatly concerned by certain provisions of the revised Nuclear Posture Review,” which envisages a nuclear response to “conventional arms attacks and even to a cyber threat.”

He described Russia’s military doctrine, as “very clear and specific”:  “Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons solely in response to a nuclear attack, or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, or an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threatens the very existence of the state.”

3--'Dark clouds of a war': North Korea will 'counter US' if it holds drills with Seoul

As a result of his ever-expanding investigation into the White House, Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the first twelve years of the “war on terror,” has become the most powerful man in America. Mueller exemplifies the vast and sweeping powers that the state intelligence agencies are assuming in conjunction with the Democratic Party’s conspiratorial drive to undermine or remove Trump.

As the WSWS has previously explained, the Mueller investigation originated in the opposition of sections of the military-intelligence apparatus, backed by the Democratic Party, to any softening of the anti-Russian national security offensive undertaken in the second term of the Obama administration, particularly in relation to US intervention to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s main Mideast ally, and the US backing for the fascist-led coup that overthrew a pro-Russian government in Ukraine....
There is not the slightest progressive or democratic content to the campaign by the Democrats, the media and the intelligence agencies to cripple the Trump White House and, if possible, create the conditions to force Trump to leave office. They have not objected to Trump’s ferocious attacks on democratic rights, his witch-hunting of immigrants, his attack on social programs like food stamps and Medicaid, or his militaristic threats against North Korea, Iran and China.
On much of the Trump agenda, particularly the tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, the slashing of health, safety and environmental regulations on business, and the record levels of military spending, there is bipartisan agreement in the ruling elite.
But there is mounting concern that Trump is too erratic a figure to be relied on as the “commander-in-chief” of American imperialism

5-- Did Russia meddling affect the 2016 election?

44% say No
42 percent say yes
14% undecided

In the new poll, nearly seven in 10, 69%, say they believe Russians made a serious effort to meddle in the 2016 election. Fewer than one in five doubt that. 
On that issue, there is an almost even split: 42% say Russian meddling affected the outcome of the election; 44% say it didn't.
Views on that question reflect a sharp partisan divide. Democrats by more than 3-1, 69%-20%, say Russian meddling affected the election's results. Republicans by more than 7-1, 81%-11%, say it didn't.
Mueller's level of credibility is significant because of attacks by Trump and his allies on the professionalism and nonpartisanship of the special counsel, the FBI and the Justice Department. Now, 31% express "a lot" of trust in Mueller and 27% "some" trust; 28% have little or no trust.
Neither Trump nor Mueller has a favorable rating of 37% for Mueller. . Mueller's unfavorable rating is 23%.

6-- Turkey can withdraw from NATO after Putin's speech

7-- Seth Rich--More loose ends

8--Will Japan end QE?

9--Putin Trumps Trump

In December, 2002, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the US would unilaterally pull out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that had curtailed the development of nuclear missiles and anti-missile systems to defeat them....

LinkBookmarkRussia’s new arms include the RS-28 heavy ICBM, called ‘Satan 2’ by NATO. This big brute of a liquid fueled missile can carry up to ten nuclear warheads over 10,000 km (6,000 miles). What makes it very different from other ICBM’s is its ability (Russia claims) to carry nuclear-armed hypersonic vehicles through low earth orbit that can attack North America from multiple directions unseen by the radars of anti-missile systems.

President Putin also revealed a new nuclear-armed cruise missile propelled by a miniature nuclear engine that can stay aloft for very long periods and fly over Latin America and the South Pole to attack North America from the south. The US has been trying to develop such a nuclear engine since the late 1950’s, but with no success. During the corrupt Yeltsin era, the Kremlin accepted huge amounts of cash bribes to sell a miniaturized reactor to the Americans designed to power ocean surveillance satellites.

10--Putin’s stern lecture to the US: you brought it on yourselves by pushing Russia around

11--Yet the wars in Syria have now gone on for so long that they are almost impossible to end. A few issues have been decided: Assad is going to stay in power in Damascus, but his power is not going to extend to the whole country. Isis has been defeated, overwhelmed by the sheer number of its enemies. But Russia, US, Turkey and Iran have become so embroiled in Syria that they cannot afford to see their local allies and proxies destroyed.

12-- Mr Khalil has a bleak but highly informed view of the future of Syria, believing that there is a lot more fighting to come. He is adamant that the Kurdish paramilitary forces, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), will fight to the end for Afrin city and will never surrender. Given the dedication and battle experience of its combatants, who have been fighting Isis since 2015, a prolonged and bloody siege of Afrin is in prospect....

Mr Khalil says the reason that the Russians gave a green light to a Turkish invasion was in retaliation for the drive of the Kurdish Arab forces into Deir Ezzor, depriving Mr Assad of Syria’s biggest oilfields.

Mr Khalil is sure that the next great battle of the Syrian war will be fought in Afrin. He does not think that the Turks will attack the town of Manbij further east, as they have often threatened to do, because of the US military presence. He describes a Syrian political landscape in which all the players still believe they can be successful, making his belief that the Syrian war still has at least four more years to run sound horribly convincing....

But today it has the unique benefit of standing at the entrance to the vast territories to the east of the Euphrates captured by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) with US air support from Isis since 2015. “We are the only gateway for the Kurds,” says Kaftan, who explains that businessmen from Aleppo had poured into the city to profit from the trade with the 30 per cent of Syria now held by the Kurds.

13--Caitlin Johnstone--More escalations from Trump
This administration has already killed Russians in Syria, greatly escalated nuclear tensions with Russia, allowed the sale of arms to Ukraine (a move Obama refused for fear of angering Moscow), established a permanent military presence in Syria with the goal of effecting regime change, forced RT and Sputnik to register as foreign agents, expanded NATO with the addition of Montenegro, assigned Russia hawk Kurt Volker as special representative to Ukraine, shut down a Russian consulate in San Francisco and thrown out Russian diplomats as part of continued back-and-forth hostile diplomatic exchanges, all while keeping the troops on Russia’s border placed there at the end of the Obama administration.
On top of all this, this administration has recently increased US Navy presence in the Black Sea “to counter Russia’s increased presence ther

14--Afghanistan ready to play connector role in Eurasian integration

The article also claimed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had notified White House Counsel McGahn on February 9 of problems that would significantly delay a top-level security clearance for Kushner. Rosenstein has been a frequent target of Trump criticism for his role in overseeing the Mueller investigation.
It is clear that the sections of the intelligence apparatus in conflict with Trump have seized on the issue of security clearances as a means of exerting additional pressure on his immediate entourage. Porter was forced out on February 7, Hicks is now leaving and Kushner’s role will be severely reduced so long as he is barred from access to classified materials, which encompass virtually every document relating to US foreign relations, his main activity....

A further expression of the extraordinary tensions within the Trump White House came in the form of a Twitter attack by Trump Wednesday against his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, after Sessions announced that he had asked the inspector general of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, to investigate claims of improper or illegal FBI surveillance against former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. The charges were made in the so-called Nunes memo issued by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee.
bases in e Syria

The US has provoked Turkey into launching a military operation in the Syrian area of Afrin supplying advanced weapons to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which control the area, the Assistant to the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Alexander Venediktov told the state-run news agency Ria Novosti.
“The Kurds are being boosted with advanced weaponry. The deliveries of modern weapons and encouragement of separatist sentiments among the Kurds have in fact provoked Turkey into carrying out the military operation in Syria’s northern Afrin region,” the official said

today we are witnessing an almost uncontrolled hyper use of force --military force--in international relations, force that is pushing the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts

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