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Messages - Roger

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31
The British Kangaroo Court Proceedings Against Julian Assange
Moon of Alabama

February 26, 2020


   Britain is currently holding an obscene show trial against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The hearing is designed to end with the extradition of Assange to the United States or with his death. In the U.S. he would be accused of a conspiracy to reveal secrets and put into jail for the rest of his life.

Over the years Wikileaks has revealed material on many important issues. As Patrick Cockburn remarked: With WikiLeaks, Julian Assange did what all journalists should aspire to do. Wikileaks provided the material its sources revealed to partner media who profited from it, but then went on to betray Assange. As Kit Klarenberg wrote a few days ago: â They Should Be In Jailâ : How The Guardian and New York Times â Set Upâ Julian Assange.

Those who are not familiar with the false case against Julian Assange should read this interview with Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who provides detailed insight. In Melzer's learned view Assange, as the main editor of Wikileaks, has not committed any crime.

Melzer has also written at his medium page about the case:

Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange

State Responsibility for the Torture of Julian Assange

The false 'rape' case in Sweden which was used to incarcerate Assange is also detailed in Marcello Ferrada de Noli's book: Swedenâ s Geopolitical Case Against Assange 2010-2019. It can be downloaded for free.

That the current extradition case against Assange is crooked and that a bad outcome is likely assured can be deducted from the persons behind the current proceedings. Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis at Declassified UK have done some digging:

REVEALED: Chief magistrate in Assange case received financial benefits from secretive partner organisations of UK Foreign Office

UK minister who approved Trumpâ s request to extradite Assange spoke at secretive US conferences with people calling for him to be â neutralizedâ Craig Murray and Kevin Gosztola are in the court room to document the proceedings. Gosztola tweets live (day 1, day 2, day 3) from the Woolwich courthouse in London and provides daily write ups at Shadowproof.com:

Assangeâ s Defense Details CIA-Backed Espionage Operation, Trumpâ s Politicization Of Justice Department Assange Extradition Hearing: Chelsea Manningâ s Grand Jury Resistance A Major Hurdle For Prosecutors Ambassador Craig Murray publishes daily summaries at his site:

Your Man in the Public Gallery â " Assange Hearing Day 1 Your Man in the Public Gallery â " Assange Hearing Day 2

George Galloway held a speech yesterday about the abstruse processes around the hearing. The video of it is here.

One hopes that the British court will not extradite but free Assange. Unfortunately that seems currently unlikely. But the case will be fought hard and over many month and sometimes good things do happen





32
Pentagon reveals deal with Britain to replace Trident
MPs dismayed after US defence officials leak news of nuclear weapons deal before parliament is told
Jamie Doward  The Guardian
Sat 22 Feb 2020 18.05 GMT
Last modified on Sat 22 Feb 2020 21.20 GMT
 
 The Royal Navy Vanguard class nuclear submarine HMS Vengeance, which carries Trident missiles. Photograph: EPA
Britain has committed itself to buying a new generation of nuclear warheads to replace Trident, which will be based on US technology. The decision was revealed by Pentagon officials who disclosed it before an official announcement has been made by the government.
The revelation has dismayed MPs and experts who question why they have learned of the move – which will cost the UK billions of pounds – only after the decision has apparently been made. It has also raised questions about the UK’s commitment to staunching nuclear proliferation and the country’s reliance on the US for a central plank of its defence strategy.
Earlier this month, Pentagon officials confirmed that its proposed W93 sea-launched warhead, the nuclear tip of the next generation of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, would share technology with the UK’s next nuclear weapon, implying that a decision had been taken between the two countries to work on the programme.
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In public, the UK has not confirmed whether it intends to commission a new nuclear warhead. The Ministry of Defence’s annual update to parliament, published just before Christmas, says only: “Work also continues to develop the evidence to support a government decision when replacing the warhead.”
But last week Admiral Charles Richard, commander of the US strategic command, told the Senate defence committee that there was a requirement for a new warhead, which would be called the W93 or Mk7. Richard said: “This effort will also support a parallel replacement warhead programme in the United Kingdom, whose nuclear deterrent plays an absolutely vital role in Nato’s overall defence posture.”

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
 Read more

Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “It is totally unacceptable that the government seems to have given the green light to the development of new nuclear weapon technologies with zero consultation and zero scrutiny. Britain under Johnson increasingly looks like putty in Trump’s hands. That Britain’s major defence decisions are being debated in the United States, but not in the UK, is a scandal. Under Johnson, it seems that where Trump leads, we must follow.”
Alan Shaffer, Pentagon deputy under-secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, also made reference to the new UK programme in a briefing session at the annual nuclear deterrence summit, in Alexandria, Virginia. “I think it’s wonderful that the UK is working on a new warhead at the same time, and I think we will have discussions and be able to share technologies,” Shaffer said.
David Cullen, director of pressure group the Nuclear Information Service, said: “The UK’s reliance on US knowledge and assistance for their nuclear weapons programme means they will find it almost impossible to diverge from any development path the US decides to take. “We are legally bound to take steps towards disarmament under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but this would take us in the opposite direction.”
It is understood that the US had agreed with the UK not to make any announcement while parliament was in recess. However, US defence officials were apparently oblivious to the agreement and confirmed the programme’s existence – to the embarrassment of the UK government.
Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, said the development of the new warhead posed significant geopolitical problems. “Britain and the US have come a long away from being leaders in reducing the role of nuclear weapons and contemplating the possible road toward potential disarmament to re-embracing nuclear weapons for the long haul. They are obviously not alone in this, with Russia, China and France doing their own work. So, overall, this is a serious challenge for the international non-proliferation regime,” he said.
Tom Plant, director of proliferation and nuclear policy at the independent security thinktank, Rusi, said the lack of debate about the new weapon was a concern. “There’s been a presumption from those in opposition and analysts like myself that it should come to parliament in some way, like the 2016 vote on Trident. I suspect that the MoD’s position is that they don’t want it to. What the programme doesn’t need from their perspective is lots of scrutiny. But if there’s going to be a decision it should absolutely come to parliament.”
The MoD said: “As previously stated in the 2015 defence review, we can confirm that we are working towards replacing the warhead. We have a strong defence relationship with the US and will continue to remain compatible with the US Trident missile. An announcement about the UK’s replacement warhead programme will be made in due course.”

33
Syria - Turkey Invades Idleb But Its Bluff Will Be Called
Moon of Alabama

February 10, 2020


   Since last week's post on the Syrian Idleb campaign the Syrian army has made significant progress.

Saraqib, Al Eis and dozens of other cities and towns were liberated. Large parts of the M5 highway in Idleb are now under Syrian government control.

The aim of the current campaign is to regain control over the M5 highway between Damascus and Aleppo city and the M4 highway between Latakia and Aleppo. These highways are of importance for the revival of Syria's economy.

It was originally Turkey's task to guarantee free civilian traffic on both highways. The Sochi Memorandum of Understanding between Turkey and Russia, signed on September 17 2018, provides (machine translated):

3. A demilitarized zone with a depth of 15-20 km will be created in the de-escalation zone. 4. The specific passage of the lines defining the demilitarized zone will be agreed upon in the course of further consultations.

5. All radical terrorist groups will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by October 15, 2018.

6. All tanks, artillery, MLRS and mortars of the conflicting parties will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by October 10, 2018.

7. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey and the military police of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will carry out coordinated patrols and monitoring using unmanned aerial vehicles in the demilitarized zone.

8. In the interests of ensuring free movement of local residents and goods, as well as restoring trade and economic ties, transit traffic along the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored before the end of 2018.

None of these points were ever fulfilled by Turkey.

Idleb is still under control of the al-Qaeda aligned Hayat Tahrir al Shams (HTS) which has continued to attack Syrian government positions as well as civilian targets. HTS is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization, including by Turkey. But Turkey has done nothing to remove it. It instead provides the organization with weapons and other supplies.

The reaction of Turkey's wannabe Sultan Erdogan to the Syrian army campaign has been hysterical. He threatened several times that he would militarily intervene if the Syrian army operation does not stop. Over the last days more than 1,450 Turkish military vehicles, including tanks, heavy artillery and armored infantry vehicles, invaded the terrorist held Idleb area.

Turkey says that these are just reinforcements for its 'observer posts'. But in reality these forces are configured to attack the Syrian army. One Turkish artillery groups tried to set up a position at the former Syrian military airbase Taftanaz north of Saraqib. Earlier today it came under Syrian artillery fire. At least six Turkish soldiers were killed and several wounded. A Turkish helicopter was allowed to come in to evacuate the casualties.

The Turkish military claimed that it retaliated for the attack:

The Turkish army responded to the targets determined in the region, said the statement.

â The necessary response was given, the targets were destroyed and the blood of our martyrs was not left on the ground. The developments are being closely monitored and necessary measures are being taken,â said the statement.

There is no evidence that any such retaliation has taken place.

Turkey demands that the Syrian army retreats back to the lines where its current campaign started months ago.

That is not going to happen.

Today, while the Turkish army settled among the terrorist, HTS sent two suicide vehicles against the Syrian lines. It is not yet known if they caused casualties. If the Turkish army wants to be the bodyguard of such terrorist it will be handled appropriately.

The Russian and Syrian air forces are in control of the airspace over Idleb. Russian war ships are deployed near the coast of Syria and are ready to launch their cruise missiles. Russia can reinforce its airforce in Syria within 24 hours. Turkey's airforce is not able to change that picture.

After the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan nearly three quarters of Turkey's airforce pilots were dismissed. The maintenance status of Turkey's 240 F-16 fighter jets is dubious. It is estimate that less of a quarter of them are ready to fly. The F-16s are no match for the Russian Su-34 jets which cover Syria. They also lack the capabilities to overcome the Russian air defenses. Then there is also Russia's economic leverage over Turkey.

Over the last few days there have been intense talks between the Russian and the Turkish side. The Russians are not budging. Syria will liberate the two highways that Turkey promised would be opened under the Sochi MoU. Should the Turkish army try to prevent that it will be bombed to high heaven.

Erdogan can not risk a war with Russia in Syria. He is bluffing and his bluff will be called.





34
Moscow concerned over low-yield nuclear warheads deployed on US submarines
TASS

February 5, 2020


   Moscow is highly alarmed over the deployment of W76-2 new low-yield nuclear warheads on US submarines, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Wednesday.

"We are reacting to this with a serious concern not because we see a threat to the security of our country - this security is reliably ensured as a result of the efforts that were taken with regard to the armament and with regard to developing advanced weapon systems, but from the viewpoint of doctrines and concepts, which the Americans are using in the nuclear sphere. This is very alarming," the senior Russian diplomat said.

The deployment of low-yield charges on US strategic delivery vehicles suggests that "the pronouncements made by the American side in the declarative form about the possibility of deploying such means in a hypothetical conflict are already being embodied in the metal and items," Ryabkov said.

"This indicates that the US is really reducing the nuclear threshold and admits of a limited nuclear war for itself and the victory in that war," the deputy foreign minister said.

In this context, Moscow's proposal to "confirm again the commitment to the well-known formula that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it must never be unleashed" is becoming especially important, the high-ranking Russian diplomat said.

Russia formally handed over this proposal to Washington back in 2018, he added.

"All the developments in their entirety and all the signs I am speaking about set us up for the need to double efforts in order to try to contain the US further drift in the dangerous direction and Washington's further slide into the planning of absolutely inadmissible catastrophic scenarios," Ryabkov stressed.

US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood stated on Tuesday that the US Navy had started deploying W76-2 new low-yield nuclear warheads on submarines. The US Department of Defense said in a statement that it identified the requirement to modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads "to address the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and part.

35
Operation Barbarossa II: Setting The Stage For War
Christopher Black, New Eastern Outlook

February 7, 2020


   I have written several times about the continuing NATO preparations for an attack on Russia, a second Operation Barbarossa, the code name for the Nazi invasion of the USSR in 1941. Circumstances prompt me to write about it again, for as of the last week in January the Americans and their gang of lieutenant nations in NATO have commenced the biggest military exercises in 25 years to take place in Europe. The code name for this operation is Defender-Europe 20 but we can interpret that as Attack-Russia 20; in effect a preparation for an attack on Russia comparable to the Nazi invasion in 1941 that killed 27 million Soviet citizens, wounded countless more and destroyed everything west of the Urals and led ultimately to the crushing of the Nazis that launched the attack.

For the past several years the US has been building up bases in Eastern Europe, building up their logistics systems, prepositioning vast amounts of munitions and weapons of every type and calibre, securing convoy routes from the USA across the Atlantic and across Europe right up to Russia's borders for the rapid movement of military equipment and formations, installing nuclear capable missile systems in key locations from Poland to Romania, increasing intelligence flights in the Baltic, particularly with regard to the Russian base at Kaliningrad and the approaches to St. Petersburg, and the Black Sea, Crimea and Ukraine as well around the Russian bases at Vladivostok, all the while, in their propaganda talking about false flag operations they could use to blame Russia and provide the pretext for their attack. Kaliningrad has been mentioned several times by US generals and officials as one possible scene for staging a false flag operation for this purpose. But the number of scenarios they could use is limited only by their imagination and capabilities.

These conventional military exercises are complemented by the withdrawal of the United States from several nuclear arms treaties to give the US a free hand to develop and deploy nuclear weapons which, according to their National Defence Strategy, they will use whenever and wherever they see fit, without limitation or restrictions, including the intention to launch a nuclear first strike. The clear targets are Russia and China. The "pivot to the Pacific" that the Americans began some years ago is a part of these preparations, and while this applies pressure against China it also threatens Russia.

But the new exercises are raising alarms in Moscow and Minsk The Belarusian Minister of Defence, Andrei Rakov, noted that:

"NATO's military contingent deployed in the countries neighbouring Belarus during the Atlantic Resolve and Enhanced Forward Presence has been increased by 13 times in the past six years, from 550 to more than 7,000 troops, and the number of hardware units has grown fivefold and that the Defender-Europe 20 exercises to be organized on the territories of ten states, including Poland and the Baltic republics that border Belarus involve about 37,000 troops, with 20,000 of them from the United States."

He also said that "the number of NATO drills near the Belarusian border and the number of personnel involved in these drills had more than doubled in the past five years. Defence spending has increased as well. In the past five years, Poland's military budget soared by 30%, that of Lithuania — by 2.5 times, and Latvia's — threefold."

In such conditions, he underscored, "Belarus is forced to take response measures. We are forced to react to the scale-up of military activities in Europe, including in close proximity to our border. Our response will not necessarily be tit-for-tat. We were ready for such development of the military political situation that is why our reaction has a planned character," he noted. "Thus, in the past three years, the Belarusian military have increased the number of exercises by more than 20% and the number of snap combat readiness checks have doubled."

The Russian Foreign Ministry on January 17 stated that,

"NATO's military drills on the eastern flank of NATO are increasingly more reminiscent of purposeful preparations for a large-scale military conflict" and, "NATO countries are constantly building up their military presence close to our borders, working to improve the operational efficiency of redeploying forces to the eastern flank. The intensity of the drills whose scenarios are increasingly more reminiscent of preparations for a large-scale military conflict is increasing. The systematic development of the European segment of the US/NATO missile defence system continues."

On February 4th Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated,

"Russia will react to the US military exercise in Europe Defender 2020 due in March, but it will do so in a way that will rule out unnecessary risks. Naturally, we will react. We cannot ignore processes that arouse very great concerns. But we will react in a way that will not create unnecessary risks."

However it is certain the United States and its armed gang in NATO will do everything they can do take risks that could kill us all. For the Defender-Europe 20 exercises are on a vast scale, involving according to a US Army fact sheet, four Army prepositioned weapons and ammunition and other logistics sites in three European countries, transport materiel four thousand kilometres across twelve convoy routes, involve nine thousand US troops already in Europe, seven thousand National Guard soldiers, use 14 major ports and airfields, major elements of the US Navy, major elements of US Air Force units from the US, Europe and Africa, the deployment of 20,000 Army and Marine US soldiers from the US to Europe, twenty thousand pieces of equipment to be moved from the US to Europe including trucks, tanks, and artillery pieces, all having the objective, the US claims of

"increase strategic readiness and interoperability by exercising the U.S. military's ability to rapidly deploy a large combat-credible force and equipment from the United States to Europe; and alongside its allies and partners, quickly respond to a potential crisis."

And, they add,

"The joint, multinational training exercise is scheduled to take place from April to May 2020, with personnel and equipment movements occurring from February through July 2020. The exercise supports objectives defined by NATO to build readiness within the alliance and deter potential adversaries."

The last sentence in the US Army Europe statement reveals the strategic objective of the exercises, to build readiness for war on Russia. There is no other interpretation possible.

On February 26, 2016 the Atlantic Council, the preeminent NATO think tank, issued a report on the state of readiness of the NATO alliance to fight and win a war with Russia. The focus of the report was on the Baltic States. The report is called "Alliance at Risk."

It has the sub-heading "Strengthening European Defense in an Age of Turbulence and Competition." Layer upon layer of distortion, half-truths, lies and fantasies obscure the fact that it is the NATO countries that have caused the turbulence from the Middle East to Ukraine. NATO is responsible for nothing according to this report, except "protecting the peace." Russia is the supreme aggressor state, intent on undermining the security of Europe, even intent on attacking Europe, an "existential threat" that NATO must prepare to repel.

It states a series of lies at page 6 that,

"The Russian invasion of Crimea, its support for separatists, and its invasion of eastern Ukraine have effectively ripped up the post-Cold War settlement of Europe. President Vladimir Putin has shattered any thoughts of a strategic partnership with NATO; instead, Russia is now a de facto strategic adversary. Even more dangerously, the threat is potentially existential, because Putin has constructed an international dynamic that could put Russia on a collision course with NATO. At the center of this collision would be the significant Russian-speaking populations in the Baltic States, whose interests are used by the Kremlin to justify Russia's aggressive actions in the region. Under Article 5 of NATO's Washington Treaty, any military move by Putin on the Baltic states would trigger war, potentially on a nuclear scale, because the Russians integrate nuclear weapons into every aspect of their military thinking."

Lies, because none of this is true and it is the NATO war alliance that threatens the peace and incorporates nuclear weapons into all their military thinking and planning.

This supports warnings made the past two years of a move by NATO in the Baltic states which will be justified by false flag hybrid war operations conducted by NATO, as I have stated several times in other essays. This is emphasized by the recommendation in the report that "to deter any Russian encroachment into the Baltic States, NATO should establish a permanent presence in the region to prevent a Russian coup de main operation "

The document also uses language that indicates that the NATO powers do not recognize Russian sovereignty over Kaliningrad that was established at the end of the second world war, claiming that Russia "has ripped up" the post-Cold War settlement of Europe, whatever that means to them, because as far as we know the Cold War was supposed to end with the withdrawal of the Red Army from Eastern Europe in exchange for a commitment by USA that NATO would not move east. Instead the NATO powers, with the treachery that is their custom, moved quickly into those territories and began conducting regular and expanding military exercises threatening Russia directly.

Once again, the NATO powers are preparing the ground for an incident involving Kaliningrad, home base of their Baltic Fleet and guardian of the approaches to St. Petersburg and what the Guardian stated is "emerging as a critical square on the east European chessboard in Vladimir Putin's efforts to push back assertively against NATO expansion."

The situation has become so critical that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved their Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight last week citing as a primary reason the immediate danger of nuclear war between the United States and Russia. They stated, "Civilization-ending nuclear war—whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication—is a genuine possibility. But even they, a US organisation, lied about the true state of affairs and blamed Russia as much as the US for the situation the US and its allies have created.

As for international law, it is nowhere to be seen. The preparations for war by NATO are a violation of the UN Charter and the fundamental principles of international law contained in it. They are war crimes under the Nuremburg Principles and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, because they are part of the conspiracy to commit, and preparations for, a war of aggression against Russia, and, since the use of nuclear weapons is a certainty if war breaks out, genocide of the entire human population.

The UN cannot act to prevent this because the Security Council, neutered by its own structure cannot act. The ICC continues to be an irrelevancy. And since, in the absence of a world government with policing powers, international law relies on a shared sense of morality, ethics and humanity to be effective, the total negation of morality by the leadership of the United States and the NATO countries has led to a breakdown of international law. Thugs, gangsters and pirates recognise no laws, and we live in a world where these are the people that are now in power in the west.

And so Russia reacts to defend itself, preparations for war intensify, and any hope we have of the American people delivering us from the criminals they keep raising to power, of us doing the same in the other NATO countries, of calling for peace as the World Peace Council does, giving peace a chance, as Lennon said, is buried deeper and deeper under layers of lies and propaganda and we are left with little but despair unless the people, the mass of people release the power latent in them and confront those in power and replace them with leaders dedicated not only to the welfare of their people, but also dedicated to peace, peace now and peace forever. I joined the Canadian Peace Congress to try to do that. I urge all of you to wake up to the danger, join peace groups wherever you are, do whatever you can, but block the road to war.





36
The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) Called the Bluff of the US and Made History
Mohamad Shaaf, Information Clearing House

February 1, 2020


   Since the end of WWII the US, as the world hegemon, has conducted coups against many nations, including Iran in 1953. Although actions in 1953 are officially confirmed by unclassified CIA documents, the role of the CIA in creating the IRI still remains classified. After the revolution in 1979, the IRI was very popular. However, that popularity was short lived; it was encouraged by the US and allies in an effort to topple the IRI by the establishment and support of four fifth columns:

1. MKO, with Saudi's financial support

2. Pro-monarchy activists, again with Saudi's support

3. Israeli government

4. Iranian Intelligentsia?

Opposition criticism of the IRI since 1979 has been as follows:

First, the IRI as a theocracy has been breaking the promise of democracy and deceiving Iranians, therefore, needs to be replaced by a secular democracy. ?

Second, the IRI committed executions and imprisoned many Iranians in the name of god, Islam, and the revolution. ?

Third, indications suggest that IRI, as an anti-communist force, came to power with the help of the US. It is now known that the IRI has helped the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, though it has been campaigning against the US since coming to power. Those contradictions suggest that, IRI may be a US puppet, as was the Shah. ?

Fourth, policies of IRI resulted in Iranians suffering under US pressure in the form of illegal embargos, threats of war, including nuclear, economic sanctions, and assassinations, resulting in continuous social fear and anxiety for Iranians. ?

Fifth, many Iranians have felt the need to immigrate, resulting in hardship, loss of income and wealth, and a steady and massive brain drain. ?

Sixth, the IRI war with Iraq, promoted and supported by the US, lasted from 1980 to 1988, costing more than 600,000 lives. ?

Seventh, the IRI has made life much more difficult economically as well, including double-digit inflation rate and unemployment, poverty, and inequality. ?

Eighth, the state budget has been growing, including massive waste, dependent mainly upon exports of oil.

However, as yet the IRI has not been toppled. ?

IRI Advancing Military Power to Resist the US: Since the Collapse of the USSR in 1989 the strategic value to the US of IRI declined, US threats of war against Iran increased and, after 9-11, the frequency and the level of threats have been increasing steadily. Moreover, as General Clark revealed, the US planned to invade Iran. In response, IRI made a Defense Agreement with Syria in 2005. In December 2011 Iran's cyber warfare unit seized a US drone, safely landed and successfully copied it; they then started domestic mass production with improvement in precision and range. ?

After the war in Syria, the IRI recruited two army divisions of zealous Muslims, one from Afghanistan and one from Pakistan (video in Farsi). In 2012, IRI moved those forces and those of Hezbollah to Syria. With Russian air protection they defeated US-created ISIS and the Obama doctrine of terrorist proxy war. That was a major strategic success for both Iran and Russia. In November 2016, Iran acquired Russian S-300 air defense, which they copied and reproduced, thereby arming itself with home-made defense and retaliatory weapons for relatively low cost. ?

Uniting Iran: Several vital factors encouraged Iranians to be united with IRI:

First, since 1979, the US has been increasingly hostile, causing the general population of Iran to become united in support of IRI. That unity peaked and was confirmed recently by the funeral of General Soleimani inside and outside Iran. ?

Second, Iranians worry that the US, using its established fifth columns mentioned earlier, might induce another "revolution" and replace the IRI with another US-puppet that might be even worse than IRI, as the IRI was worse than the Shah. ?

Third, IRI has created a semi-welfare state by subsidizing basic necessities, and lately providing free medical insurance to all, a situation that does not exist even in the US. ?

Fourth, overt US existential threats including a steady increase of sanctions, as economic terrorism have had a direct impact on ordinary Iranians. ?

Fifth, the US demand for Iranians to topple the IRI is believable based upon recent US history of regime changes in many countries, specifically in the Middle East, Central and South America. ?

Sixth, Trump's "maximum pressure" on the Iranian people rather than IRI via sanctions has had a significant impact on ordinary Iranians. ?

Seven, by now Iranians, as well as the world, have recognized that western democracy is based on wealth and is not true democracy. ?

IRI Strategic Planning and Calling the US Bluff: IRI moved on many fronts to thwart the US:

First, going to Syria and defeating US-created ISIS and western backers was a vital strategic act. Because Iran stopped ISIS in Syria, devastation, as in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, was prevented in Iran. ?

Second: Policies and the ability to produce defensive and offensive weapons have made the prospect of a US invasion costly; the US backed down. ?

Third, development of strategic alliances with Russia and China, with their UN veto power has effectively made overt US aggression illegal. ?

Fourth, IRI making a major strategic shift to the balance of world power in favor of Iran, Russia, and China, against western imperialists. ?

Fifth, in June 2019 Iran surprised the world by shooting down a US drone in the Persian Gulf; there was no US military response. ?

Sixth, in late December 2019 IRI conducted military exercises with Russia and China in the Gulf of Oman. ?

Seventh, on January 3, 2020 the US assassinated General Soleimani, an act condemned around the world. Following that action, Iran labeled the Pentagon a terrorist organization and US a terrorist state. ?

Eighth, the most important strategic achievement of Iran was its response to that killing, shooting 22 missiles into two US military bases in Iraq, again without a US response. ?

Ninth, IRI developed a policy of changing US assets into liabilities; also showed that the sole purpose of US weapons has been to increase corporate profit, not for defense. ?

Tenth, according to Duff, Trump's attempts to force Iraqi's PM to resign, by suggesting he and his defense minister could be killed, failed when the PM refused and made it public. Then Duff concluded: "We now enter a new world, not just one with America "schooled" but with America's actual role exposed, occupier, terrorist and thief." ?

Conclusions: While the Iranian people had low approval of the IRI for years, they have been gradually uniting as the government counters US provocations, sanctions, sustained hostility, aggression, and existential threats against Iranians. Recently, they have been more critical of the US than the IRI. There is general support of IRI's series of major strategic achievements including defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and their strategic alliances with the emerging world powers of China and Russia. Most importantly, IRI prevented US from invading Iran, made history and changed the world balance of power against US aggression, hopefully moving toward a more peaceful and safer world. However, fifth columns in Iran still exist, but with less support from Iranians; the feeling of independence has not been as strong since nineteenth century. ?





37
The Nasty Secret Behind Aramco, ISIS and Trump in Syria
Gordon Duff, New Eastern Outlook

Jan 28, 2020

   The Saudi Arabian oil company, Aramco, is now hiring oil workers throughout Deir Ezzor Province inside Syria as part of a joint effort, nominally with an unknown American entity and with full partnership with both ISIS and the United States Army.

Thousands of unemployed Syrian engineers and oil workers are being asked to apply for jobs paying $3000 per month.

No one knows who they will be working for.

This is the story we will be examining, how it began and where it is going now.

In 2017, soon after Trump took office, Aramco, the Saudi owned oil conglomerate, opened offices in Deir Ezzor province in Syria.

Under the protection of both ISIS and the United States Army, Aramco began an exploration of 12 new oil and gas deposits recognized by American SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) military satellites, retasked for this purpose.

These oil and gas fields represent significant finds, equaling the Kirkuk field in Iraq and the largest of Saudi Arabia's oil finds.

Similarly, as early as 2012, massive oil and gas deposits were discovered in the Mediterranean Sea, some off Gaza, others off Cyprus, but the largest traversed inland, into Syria, across Latakia and Idlib Provinces, areas now held by ISIS and al Qaeda with US support.

We know that prior to the Russian Aerospace Forces eliminating oil trafficking by ISIS from both Syria and Iraq, the famous satellite photos of 12,000 oil trucks four abreast that the American led coalition never saw, a massive theft of oil was going on under the guise of terrorism.

We also know that when the US went into Iraq, its oil fields were looted for year after year, a process that continues unabated under the partial American occupation of Iraq.

In November 2018, Trump announced the US was going to "secure Iraq's oil" in order to develop the oil fields and bring in American companies.

We now know that process began 18 months earlier, but the company wasn't American, it was Saudi. In fact, that 18 months was spent identifying new oil deposits on both sides of the border, in Iraq as well as Syria and in securing the ability to explore and service these new finds through the cover of anti-ISIS operations.

In fact, we find that there were, in fact, no ISIS operations at all but rather mercenaries hired by Saudi Arabia and the US, operating in conjunction with American air and artillery cover, to hide oil exploration in the region.

By late December 2019, the security situation across Syria had changed dramatically. Russian forces had taken over many of America's oil bases in the North of Syria and had moved toward the Turkey, Iraqi border.

They were unaware, at that time, that the real moves were coming from the South, from al Tanf, and the US occupied zone on the Jordanian border.

Then, in early January 2020, an inexplicable resurgence of ISIS capabilities blocked highways from Palmyra to al Bukamal and across the region, forces that should not exist. Those ISIS forces were deployed from American training camps in the US occupied zone of Southern Syria.

Their job was to secure transit routes for oil drilling equipment to be transited from Saudi Arabia, some transiting Iraq as well, under US protection in order to comply with Trump's policy of "seize the oil."

The problem, however, is that there would be no way to build and service these massive new oil and gas fields under the current political situation. It would become necessary for Iraq's Anbar Province, perhaps Nineveh as well, to be broken off into a new Sunni only entity, as had happened in early 2014 when Sunni based ISIS, mostly led by former Sunni leaders loyal to Saddam Hussein, enabling Aramco to set up full scale operations.

In order to create a political situation that would facilitate this, Iraq's Shiite led government would have to be put under pressure and collapsed.

Since 2018, Adel Abdul Mahdi had been prime minister, from Al Jazeera:

"Newly elected Iraqi President Barham Salih has named independent Shia candidate Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister-designate, ending months of deadlock after an inconclusive national election in May.

The presidency, traditionally occupied by a Kurd, is a largely ceremonial position, but the vote for Salih in parliament on Tuesday was a key step towards forming a new government.

Under Iraq's constitution, Salih – a 58-year-old, British-educated engineer who has held office in both the Iraqi federal and Kurdish regional governments – had 15 days to invite the nominee of the largest parliamentary bloc to form a government. He chose to do so less than two hours after his election.

Since Saddam Hussein was toppled in a 2003 US-led invasion, power has been shared among Iraq's three largest ethnic-sectarian components.

The most powerful post, that of prime minister, has traditionally been held by a Shia Arab, the speaker of parliament by a Sunni Arab and the presidency by a Kurd.

A former vice president, oil minister and finance minister, Abdul Mahdi now has 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval.

He faces the daunting tasks of rebuilding much of the country after four years of war with the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), healing its ethnic and sectarian tensions, and balancing foreign relations with Iraq's two major allies – Iran and its rival, the US.

Abdul Mahdi, 76, is a trained economist who left Iraq in 1969 for exile in France, where he worked for think-tanks and edited magazines in French and Arabic. He is the son of a respected Shia leader who was a minister in the era of Iraq's monarchy, overthrown in 1958."

The US has chosen to not recognize the authority of the Mahdi government and, after the murder of General Soleimani, has refused legal demands of that government to leave Iraq.

The US demanded that Abadi be named prime minister, who had kept a blind eye on American misconduct during his time in office.

The US only recognizes Abadi's authority though he freely accepted Mahdi's election, congratulating him on his election.

Conclusion In Syria, we now see a massive resurgence of ISIS, not under the lack of America's efforts against ISIS but rather with America's full support of ISIS.

We also see why, Syrian oil, Iraqi oil too, not minor oil discoveries but massive ones. We also see an inexplicable relationship with the US Army and a private Saudi owned company that has personal relationships with White House envoy and Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

We also look at the Soleimani killing and wonder if it was intended to bring about an Iraqi civil war that would be required for Saudi Arabia to seize Syria's oil fields under US military occupation, or is that US military and ISIS occupation?

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He's a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook."


38
Syria strongly condemns, rejects so-called "deal of the century", renews standing by Palestinians' struggle
SANA

Jan 29, 2020


   Syria has affirmed its absolute rejection and condemnation of the so-called "deal of the century" which represents a prescription to surrender to the usurping Israeli occupation, and it renewed its frim standing by the just struggle of the Palestinian people for restoring their legitimate rights.

An official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said in a statement to SANA that the Syrian Arab Republic expresses its strong condemnation and absolute rejection of the so-called "deal of the century" which represents a prescription to surrender to the usurping Israeli occupation and it comes in the framework of the attempts of the successive U.S. administrations and the Zionist entity to liquidate the Palestinian cause and to ignore the international legitimacy and thwart its resolutions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The source added that the latest U.S. plan has again clarified the organic link between the U.S. and the Zionist entity in its extreme hostility to the Arab nation and its issues, and that the U.S. policy in the region first and foremost aims to serve "Israel" and its expansionist schemes at the expense of the Arab rights and interests, indicating that the one who has always been a main supporter of the Israeli aggression is not eligible at all to play the role of peace maker.

The source added that Syria calls on the international community to condemn this U.S. contempt for the international legitimacy, and to emphasize its resolutions, on top of which ending the Israeli occupation for the Arab and Palestinian territories and guaranteeing the legitimate rights for the Palestinian people, on top, the right to return and to establish an independent sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The source asserted that Syria, which has made the Palestinian cause as a compass for its foreign policy and the central cause for the Arab nation, renews the importance of finding an effective Arab stance to confront this U.S.-Zionist outrageous trespass of the Arab rights which constitutes a danger on the present and the future of the nation.

Syria also renews its firm standing by the just struggle of the Palestinian people for restoring their legitimate right,the source said.





39
The Jewish Combat Commander Who Liberated Auschwitz
Martin Sieff, Strategic Culture

Jan 30, 2020


   Retired Red Army Lieutenant Colonel Anatoly Shapiro was proud of his lifetime service in the Red Army: He spent the last years of his life combatting the Big Lie of Holocaust denial by neo-Nazis.

But never in his wildest dreams did Colonel Shapiro imagine that his own contribution to history and that of the entire Red Army in ending the Nazi genocide of the Jewish and Russian peoples would itself be cast into the black hole of denial.

For Colonel Shapiro, who died in 2005 at the age of 92, has become a non-person himself: Because he was the Red Army officer who commandeered the liberation of Auschwitz the greatest and most frightful death camp of all.

Shapiro had not planned to become a soldier. The son of a Jewish family in Konstantinograd in the Poltava region of Russia, he joined the Red Army in 1935. He saw action throughout World War II and was repeatedly promoted and decorated for gallantry. In the great 1943 showdown battle between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht around Kursk, he was seriously injured and had to spend time in hospital.

When Colonel Shapiro received his orders from Major General Petr Zubov's 322nd Division of the First Ukrainian Front, commanded by legendary Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev to ready his elite 1085th ‘Tarnopol' Rifle Regiment for immediate action on January 25, 1945 he knew his force was being tapped to liberate a Nazi death camp, but neither he nor any of his men dreamed what lay ahead.

The war was still raging in full fury in the east and the Nazis fought with demented fanaticism to try and prevent the Red Army troops from exposing their most hellish secrets.

On the way to the camp, Shapiro's forces ran into a minefield. A doctor and five nurses were killed. As British historian Michael K. Jones wrote in his acclaimed 2011 book "Total War: From Stalingrad to Berlin" "The following morning the regiment encountered strong enemy opposition and even had to fend off a counter-attack."

Lieutenant Ivan Martynushkin, a junior officer told Jones in an interview more than 60 years later: "As we approached Auschwitz we had to fight for every settlement, every house." Yet as the 1085 the1085th's combat journal laconically recorded, "No one wanted to turn back."

It was early morning of January 27, after much heavy fighting that the 1085th advanced into Auschwitz itself in the face of ferocious Nazi artillery fire. By 11 am, Shapiro's men had crossed the Sola River and he gave the order "Break into Auschwitz."

The fighting continued to be fierce. Dozens of Red Army troops died. Shapiro and his men entered the camp. The Nazis had evacuated most of the surviving prisoners and sent them on a death march towards the German border. However, the camp still held at least 1,200 people as well as another 5,800 at Birkenau, including 611 children.

"The gates were padlocked. Snow was falling and there was a smell of burning in the air. Inside, were rows of barracks but not a person could be seen," Jones wrote. The Red Army men shot the locks off the doors with their submachine guns. For the next 60 years, Shapiro vividly recalled what they found inside. Decades later, he said in an interview: "I had seen many innocent people killed. I had seen hanged people. I had seen burned people. But I was still unprepared for Auschwitz The stench was overpowering. It was a women's barracks, and there were frozen pools of blood, and dead bodies lay on the floor."

Outside one barracks, a sign said ‘kinder.' However, Shapiro recalled "There were only two children alive; all the others had been killed in gas chambers, or were in the ‘hospital' where the Nazis performed medical experiments on them. When we went in, the children were screaming, ‘We are not Jews!' They were in fact Jewish children, and mistaking us for German soldiers evidently thought we were going to take them to the gas chambers. We stared at them aghast This was the hardest sight of all."

Shapiro recalled that the Russian Red Cross rapidly entered the camp and started cooking chicken soup and vegetable soup for the starving survivors.

Another senior Red Army officer of Jewish origins, Colonel Georgi Elisavetsky became its very first commandant after its liberation. His testimony is preserved in the excellent Russian Holocaust Center in Moscow and was also cited by Jones.

The response of Marshal Konev's forces to the humanitarian catastrophe they had uncovered was exemplary. Elisavetsky testified, "We knew immediate action had to be taken to try and It is impossible to describe how our doctors, nurses, officers and soldiers worked – without sleep or food – to try and help those unfortunates, how they fought for every life."

Red Army Military Hospital Number 2962 run by Dr. Maria Zhilinskaya, Jones noted, "Nevertheless managed to save 2,819 inmates."

After the war, Shapiro never lost his faith in and love for the Soviet Union. Following its disintegration, he moved with his family to the United States and settled on Long Island. He wrote several books on the subject and on his own experiences before his death on October 8, 2005.

For Colonel Shapiro, the idea that he, his Red Army comrades and the medical staff who fought and died to liberate Auschwitz and who worked so hard to save it's pitifully few survivors should be casually equated with the Nazis mass-killers would have been ludicrous and contemptible. President Vladimir Putin recognizes this too, he is commemorating the anniversary this year in Israel.

The true story of the Liberation of Auschwitz needs to be told and retold. It needs to be rammed down the throats of Russia-hating bigots and warmongers everywhere.

40
‘Mix of tragedy & farce’: Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is set to cause outrage, but won’t change anything – George Galloway
28 Jan, 2020 23:09 RT

‘Mix of tragedy & farce’: Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is set to cause outrage, but won’t change anything – George Galloway
A Palestinian demonstrator reacts during a protest against the U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast peace plan, in the southern Gaza Strip January 28, 2020. © REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa


While Donald Trump’s ‘peace plan’ from Israel and Palestine violates international law in every possible way, its only result will be a widespread outrage among the Muslims since it’s impossible to implement, George Galloway says.

The pompous unveiling of the peace plan by US President Donald Trump and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu looked like a true “mixture of tragedy and farce,” former Labour MP told RT on Tuesday.

The two embattled politicians – one facing impeachment and the other entangled in a bribery case – did not miss the opportunity to have a joint PR stunt, but only managed to stomp on the international law and agreements such as the Oslo Accords that established the Palestinian Authority “just like the JCPOA, the nuclear deal [that] was ripped up by President Trump,” Galloway told RT.

He added that the occupied Palestinian territories remain occupied de jure, regardless of how long Israel clings onto them.
Also on rt.com Trump tweets proposed Palestine map showing Syria's Golan Heights as part of Israel, tunnel linking West Bank and Gaza

“It completely reverses international law, which states very clearly the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by force and illegally settling that territory. All of that has been reversed," Galloway said. "So, for a property man Trump showed a very poor grasp of the property law.”

Trump’s gaffe with the Al-Aqsa mosque – one of the main holy sites for Muslims – only reinforced the impression that the US president poorly understands the whole complexity of the Palestinian issue, Galloway believes.

    “When President Trump referred to an ‘Al-Aqua’ mosque – which was a rather wet joke – making clear that he has no understanding whatsoever that the Al-Aqsa mosque is one of the holiest shrines in Islam, therefore placing it under Israeli sovereignty infuriates the best part of 2 billion Muslims in the world.”

Ambiguous wording the US President used on the issue of Palestinian capital – promising to open an embassy in “eastern” Jerusalem while calling the city “Israel’s undivided capital” – however, was likely intended, Galloway suggests.

The US unilateral decision to recognize East Jerusalem as Israeli territory is unlikely to be accepted by anyone except for Israel and Washington themselves, both due to the religious importance of the city and the existing international law.

“Jerusalem is a city, it has west and east. The east is occupied by force for 53 years, but it remains occupied and nothing that Donald Trump can say can change that. The Security Council will never accept it, the European Union will never accept it, the Arabs will never accept it – even the most obeisant of them can never accept that,” Galloway said.
Also on rt.com ‘Jerusalem is not for sale, your conspiracy deal will not pass’ – Abbas reacts to Trump's Middle East peace deal

While the ambitious announcement of the “deal of the century” is likely to spark a “furious” reaction across the region, it’s unlikely to have any actual effect and change the situation on the ground, Galloway believes. Trump’s administration will be simply unable to implement the ‘deal’ by any means – even if he manages to secure the second presidential term – and no Palestinian leaders would dare to try and impose it on their people.

“Nothing changes as a result of this, at least de facto," the former MP added. "De jure, between the US and Israel it writes new crimes into the book, but it doesn’t change anything on the ground.”

41

   Associated Press Sees "Hundreds" Where Pictures Show Millions
Moon of Alabama

Jan 24, 2020


   At 10:01 UTC today the Associated Press tweeted that "hundreds" gather in central Baghdad to demand that American troops leave the country.

Thirty eight minutes earlier CNN had already reported that "hundreds of thousands" are protesting in Baghdad against the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

When AP sent the misleading tweet the commander of the Iraqi Federal Police Forces Jaffar al-Batat had already announced that the number of demonstrators exceeds one million.

That number may well be correct. Reports said that the column of protesters was already eight kilometers long even while many were still arriving.

Muqtada al-Sadr, who had called for the protests but is hardly a 'radical', demanded that the U.S. follows the decision of the Iraqi parliament and ends its occupation. All U.S. bases in Iraq must be closed, all security agreements with the U.S. and with U.S. security companies must be ended and a schedule for the exit of all U.S. forces must be announced.

Meanwhile the U.S. is pulling strings and tries to carve a new Sunni state out of western Iraq.

Al-Sadr promised to temporarily halt the resistance against the U.S. occupation if the U.S. commits to leaving orderly.

Otherwise ...

42
Iraqis march in 'millions' to call for expulsion of US troops
Press TV

Jan 24, 2020


   Photos: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/24/616968/Iraq-Protest-US

Iraqis have rallied in Baghdad in massive numbers to call for an end to US military presence in the country following high-profile assassinations and airstrikes targeting anti-terror forces.

Sayed Sadiq al-Hashemi, the director of the Iraqi Center for Studies, said more than 2.5 million took part in the demonstrations on Friday.

Since the early hours on Friday, huge crowds of men, women and children of all ages converged on the Jadriyah neighborhood near Baghdad University.

The protesters were seen carrying banners and chanting slogans calling for the expulsion of US forces.

"Get out, get out, occupier!" some shouted, while others chanted, "Yes to sovereignty!"

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the expulsion of all foreign forces after the US assassination of Iran's General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The massive rally came after influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Iraqis to stage "a million-strong, peaceful, unified demonstration to condemn the American presence and its violations".

Sadr issued a statement on Friday calling for US bases to be shut down and Iraqi airspace closed to US warplanes and surveillance aircraft.

He warned that US presence in the country will be dealt with as an occupying force if Washington does not agree with Iraqi demands to withdraw for the country.

In a message delivered through a representative at Friday prayer in the holy city of Karbala, top cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also urged Iraqi political groups to do what is needed to the safeguard the country's sovereignty.

He called on Iraqi groups to stand united, far from any foreign influence in countering the dangers which threaten the country.

On Thursday ahead of the planned rallies, Sadr called on Iraqis to mobilize and defend the country's independence and sovereignty.

"Oh women, men and youth of the country, the time is now upon us to defend the country, its sovereignty and dependence," Sadr said in a tweet.

"Spread the word of an independent future Iraq that will be ruled by the righteous; an Iraq which will not know of corruption nor aggression" he added, calling on Iraqis to expel the "tyrants".

Various Iraqi resistance groups affiliated with the country's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have also backed the anti-American rally.

‘Zero hour in face-off with US'

Speaking to the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel, Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the PMU-affiliated Kata'ib Hezbollah resistance group, said "other means" will be used against the Americans if they do not leave Iraq.

The American presence, he said, has led to corruption and instability in the country.

In an interview with Iran's Tasnim news agency, Firas al-Yasser, a member of the political bureau of Iraq's Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, said Friday's rallies marked "a new chapter" in the Arab country's relations with the US.

He said Iraqi resistance groups support the stance of the country's clerical leadership, which does not tolerate Washington's "theory of dependence and humiliation" of Iraq.

"We believe we have reached the zero hour in facing off with the US," he said.

Yasser added that Iran's missile attack on the Ain al-Assad base in the western Iraqi province of Anbar earlier this month was a "prelude" to the expulsion of US forces from the country.

Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, which is part of the PMU, described Friday's rallies as a "second revolution" a century after the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920 against British forces.




43
Putin wants 7 amendments to Constitution for strong, nuclear Russia
Pravda

Jan 15, 2020


   On January 15, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his 16th Address to the Federal Assembly. During this annual speech, the head of state traditionally sets out his assessment of the state of affairs in the country and his vision of main objectives for the future. This year, Putin's speech was broadcast live almost everywhere - on the facades of buildings, in public transport, at clinics, hospitals, airports, libraries, on Mount Elbrus and even on board the International Space Station.

Putin paid first priority attention to such issues as increasing the birth rate in Russia, increasing the income level of citizens, supporting young families, overcoming poverty and economic stagnation.

Economists, experts and many public figures believe there will be no "revolutionary" or "breakthrough" suggestions, because they are simply no such suggestions per se.

Putin started his speech with saying that there is a demand for a change in the Russian society. The pace of change should increase every year, he said, with the active participation of Russian citizens in them. At the same time, he noted, it is extremely important how many people there are in the country. Thus, the problem of demography was the first one that Vladimir Putin spoke about in this speech.

The fate of Russia and its historical prospects depend on demography in the first place, the president said, added that the country needs to escape from the demographic trap and ensure the country's population growth.

Putin noted that it is the generation of the 1990s that builds families today. Russia experienced a significant demographic crisis during the 1990s, which has created a complicated demographic period today.

The total birth rate coefficient in 2019 was 1.5. For comparison, the coefficient was 1.4 during war years.

As Putin said, the point of all measures that he proposes is to create an extensive family support system.The president emphasized that the measures in the field of demographic development that the Russian authorities had taken before have already brought positive results, and there is a large new generation growing in Russia. "They are the boys and girls who go to kindergartens and study at schools now," the president said. "It is very important that they take true family values close to their hearts: that family means love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family means strong connection of several generations, where respect for elderly people and care for children always unite, that family gives a feeling of confidence, security and reliability," Putin said.

If all this becomes a natural moral norm for the younger generation, then the authorities would be able to solve the historical objective to guarantee the development of Russia as a large and successful country.

About 70-80% of low-income families in Russia are families with children. "Very often, even when both parents work, the income of such a family is very modest," Putin said.

If incomes are low, families should receive additional payments for their first and second children, the president said and suggested implementing monthly payments for each child from three to seven years old already from January 2020. Families whose income does not exceed one subsistence rate per person will be eligible to such payments.

"When the child turns three years old, the family stops receiving payments and may find itself in a difficult situation. This is what happens most of the time, and we should not make this happen. In this regard, I propose to provide monthly payments for children aged from 3 to 7 years inclusive, starting from January 1, 2020," Putin said.

"At this age, children "get acquainted" with viruses, they often get sick and do not go to school. So, it is often difficult for mothers to combine work and child care," he added.

Initially, such payments will amount to a half of the cost of living - 5,500 rubles, and in 2021 they will be increased twice to the average amount of 11,000 rubles per month.

The program of the maternity capital in Russia will be extended before 2026, while the capital will be increased.

"Presently, this program embraces the period before December 31, 2021. I know that many people wonder what the state intends to do after December 31, 2021. We will extend this program, at least before December 31, 2026," Putin said.

With the birth of a second child, the maternal capital will be increased by another 150,000 rubles, and then it will be indexed every year.

The total amount of the maternity capital for a family with two children will make up more than 616,000 rubles. From January 2020, families in Russia will receive maternity capital already with the birth of their first child.

For young families, the preferential mortgage rate will apply to the entire loan. Vladimir Putin called on all banks - not only the state ones - to actively participate in the program of preferential mortgage at 2% for families with children.

Putin proposed that all school children studying in grades from 1 to 4 should have free hot meals at their schools.

"I propose providing free hot meals to all elementary school pupils studying in grades from 1 through 4," the president said.

Putin also pointed out the importance of the role of the class master. The class master is also a mentor. This is a federal function, the president noted, adding that class masters in Russia would receive additional payments while maintaining existing payments. They should not be reduced, because it goes about the specialists who are vital for the country, Putin said.

Starting from September 1, 2020, class masters in Russia will receive a special additional payment of no less than 5,000 rubles.

Putin refuses to change the Constitution.

The potential of the 1993 Constitution has not been exhausted and there is no need to change it, the President of the Russian Federation said.

However, some changes are necessary, the president believes. Vladimir Putin proposed a minimum of 7 amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

1. A citizen applying for the post of president of the Russian Federation must not have a residence permit in another country either at the time of his or her nomination or ever before.

2. The President of the Russian Federation will not be able to hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

3. The Constitution should guarantee that the minimum wage must not be lower than the subsistence level.

4. The role of governors will be enhanced.

5. All factions represented in the State Duma of the Russian Federation believe that the Federal Assembly can play a large role in the formation of the government. Presently, the President of the Russian Federation receives the consent only from the State Duma for the approval of the head of the Russian government. Now it is proposed to give the Federal Assembly an opportunity to elect the head of the cabinet of ministers, while the president will be required to appoint the proposed candidacy as prime minister of the Russian Federation.

6. The President will appoint all heads of law enforcement agencies only after consultations with the Federation Council to make this process transparent to society.

7. The President should be entitled to dismiss the heads of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts if their acts discredit honor and dignity.

According to Putin, it is citizens of the Russian Federation who should have the final say on the adoption of the above-mentioned amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. He proposed an all-Russian referendum for the purpose.

Russia will defend the truth about Victory over fascism In his Address to the Federal Assembly, the Russian president announced the need to defend the historical truth about Victory over fascism.

"This year we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. For Russia, May 9 is the greatest and the holiest of holidays, we are proud of the generation of victors, we honor their feat, and our memory is not only a tribute to the heroic past, it serves our future, it inspires us and strengthens our unity. We must protect the truth about Victory, otherwise what we are going to say to our children if lies spread all over the world like an infection?" said Vladimir Putin.

To protect the "truth about Victory," a complex of archival documents on the history of WWII will be created in Russia. These documents will be available to the whole world.

"Russia will create the largest and most comprehensive complex of archival documents, cinematic and photographic materials related to WWII, and they will be available to both our citizens and to the whole world," Putin said. The creation of such an archive is "our duty of a victorious nation, it is our responsibility to future generation," he added.

Speaking about the social policy further, the president proposed to increase the number of state-funded places at universities annually. Priority should be given to regional educational institutions.

"In the coming years, the number of school graduates will increase. It is important to maintain equal, fair access to free full-time higher education. In this regard, I propose to increase the number of state-funded places at universities annually and give such places to regional universities in the first place," Putin said.

The President of Russia also said that problems with interrupted supplies of vital medicines in Russia should not be repeated in the future.

"Last year, a number of regions experienced interruptions in the supplies of medicines. Procurement was actually thwarted, and some officials spoke about the problem as if it was a matter of purchasing office supplies," Putin said. "People were left without extremely important, sometimes vitally necessary medicines. I draw attention to the fact that such situations should never happen again," the president added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see a breakthrough in Russian science, in the field of artificial intelligence and in other high-tech fields, in particular, in genetics, digital and energy technologies.

"The speed of technological changes in the world has been accelerating, and we must create our own technologies and standards in those areas that determine the future. It primarily goes about artificial intelligence, genetics, new materials, energy sources, digital technologies. I am convinced that we can achieve a breakthrough here, just like in the defense sector," the head of state said during his Address to the Federal Assembly.

In addition, Putin added, our should create conditions to attract young specialists to science. "A chance to work with unique equipment, to take on most ambitious tasks is an incentive for young people to go to science. This is already happening; it is estimated that by the middle of the decade, every second scientist in Russia will be younger than 40 years old," the Russian president said.

At a time when world events, in particular, in the Middle East, are developing unpredictably and uncontrollably, when regional conflicts are rapidly evolving into global threats, one should take real action towards peace, the Russian president said.

"The UN founding countries should set an example. It is the five nuclear powers that bear special responsibility for the preservation and sustainable development of mankind. It is five nations that must be first to take measures to eliminate prerequisites for a global war, develop new approaches to ensuring stability on the planet, which would fully take into account political, economic and military aspects of modern international relations," Putin said.

According to Putin, Russia is no threat to anyone, nor does it impose her will on anyone else, but "our decisions to strengthen national security have been made in a timely and sufficient manner."

"For the first time in the history of nuclear missile weapons, including the Soviet period, and the newest time, we are not catching up with anyone, but on the contrary, it is other leading states of the world that have to create the weapons that Russia already has. The country's defense has been ensured for decades to come, although we can't rest on laurels and relax here - we need to go forward, carefully observing and analyzing what is happening in this area in the world, to develop combat systems and arms systems of future generations, "Putin said.

He noted that the security that Russia's state-of-the-art weapons provide, in turn, "creates the basis for the progressive, peaceful development of Russia, allows to do a lot more to solve most pressing domestic issues and focus on the economic and social growth of all our regions in the interests of the people."





44
NATO Chiefs of Defence assess current adaptation and future requirements
NATO News

January 15, 2020


   On 14 and 15 January 2020, the NATO Chiefs of Defence gathered for the 182nd Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session (MCCS), their first meeting of 2020. The two-day discussions focused on NATO's Deterrence and Defence Posture, including the Deterrence and Defence Euro-Atlantic Area Concept, the Enablement of SACEUR's Area of Responsibility as well as NATO's Operations, Missions and Activities. The Chiefs of Defence held a special session with the NATO Partner Georgia.

After meeting with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the 29 Chiefs of Defence reviewed NATO's ongoing operational commitments, force generation and discussed potential future requirements. "Currently, there are approximately 20,000 NATO military personnel engaged in operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Mediterranean, managing what are often complex ground, air and naval operations. I commend them for their bravery commitment to upholding NATO's role as peace and security provider" underlined Air Chief Marshal Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. The Chiefs of Defence then met, in dedicated sessions, with the Operational Partners from the Resolute Support Mission, the NATO Mission Iraq and the KFOR Mission.

In the afternoon, the Chiefs of Defence focused on the Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. "These documents are derived from the NATO Military Strategy but are complimentary as the first one looks at the immediate to short-term and the second has a 20-year approach. They will allow our Alliance to prepare for a more unpredictable world and deal with the consequences of a changed security environment", added the Chairman.

On Wednesday 15 January, the Allied Chiefs of Defence turned their attention to NATO' southern flank with discussions on the Framework for the South and enhancing the cooperation with partner countries in the region and international organisations, including the European Union and the United Nations.

The next session was devoted the different elements related the Enablement of SACEUR's Area of Responsibility, including the Joint Forces Command Norfolk and the Joint Support and Enabling Command.

The Chiefs of Defence concluded their two-day meeting with a final session with Partner Georgia. They received an update on the current security situation, recent developments as well as a progress report on defence reforms. "Georgia is a valued NATO Partner, who is committed to NATO. And NATO is committed to Georgia. The work to refresh the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package will give both Allies and Georgia the chance to reflect recent initiatives and to prioritise these new initiatives for better effectiveness", concluded Air Chief Marshal Peach.

The Allied Chiefs of Defence will meet again at NATO HQ in May 2020.

45
Now is not the time to defend Britain's democracy – we need a democratic revolution
Laurie Macfarlane, openDemocracy

28 August 2019


   The ancient institutions of the British state are well past their sell-by date. Only a radical shake-up can resolve the crisis.

"Defend democracy – resist the parliament shutdown". This is the rallying call of protestors gathering today to oppose Boris Johnson's proroguing of parliament.

To be clear: I think the protests are well intentioned. Boris Johnson's cynical attempt to force through a no deal Brexit is reckless and should be opposed, including on the streets if necessary.

But there is something unsettling about taking to the streets to "defend" our democracy, when it is precisely our broken democratic structures that are to blame for the mess we are in.

Of course Boris Johnson's actions are undemocratic, but so is our entire system. As my colleague Adam Ramsay has argued at length, the ancient institutions of the British state are well past their sell-by date.

Our unelected House of Lords contains the only hereditary legislators in the world, and the only automatic seats for clerics outside Iran. We have a head of state that is appointed not on the basis of merit, but by bloodline. We have an "uncodified" constitution, which is to say that we don't really have one. We have an electoral system which encourages millions to believe that voting can never make a difference. And we have an absurd concentration of power which ensures that citizens in most parts of the country have no say over the decisions that affect them.

Combined with an economic model that has left many on the wrong side of our finance-led economy, is it really any wonder that people jumped at the chance to "take back control"?

Painful as it has been, the Brexit vote provided a much needed wake up call. But while the EU is far from perfect, the real source of our problems can be found much closer to home.

So despite the good intentions, now is not the time to be defending Britain's broken democracy. Instead, we should be demanding a democratic revolution.

Abolish the House of Lords? Why not. Establish a written constitution like most normal countries? A no-brainer. Decentralise power across the nations and regions? It would be crazy not to. Allow referendums on self-determination for any nation that wants one? That's democracy.

With Queen Elizabeth nearing the end of her reign, it is also right that we have a national debate about the future of the Monarchy.

The stakes couldn't be higher. Boris Johnson – a man of Eton, Oxford and the Telegraph – has successfully positioned himself as a "man of the people" whose noble attempts to uphold democracy are being thwarted by an out of touch elite. In this context, taking to the streets with a message of defending the status quo is potentially fatal. It is precisely what Johnson and his band of disaster capitalists want.

The only way to defeat them is to seize the agenda by offering a radical shake-up of Britain's democratic structures. Together with a bold economic programme that makes a decisive break with neoliberalism, there is an opportunity to change the terms of the debate on what it means to "take back control".

Britain's constitutional crisis has been a long time coming. It's not pretty, and it might not be on the terms of our choosing. But we can't afford to let the crisis go to waste.




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