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🚀 Weapons worth $8B headed to Middle East over Congress' objections
« Reply #675 on: May 25, 2019, 01:34:35 AM »
https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/24/8-billion-weapons-middle-east-3323593

Weapons worth $8B headed to Middle East over Congress' objections

By DAVID BROWN

05/24/2019 06:19 PM EDT

Updated 05/24/2019 07:01 PM EDT


Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Trump administration on Friday notified Congress it plans to sell $8.1 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates without congressional approval — a move that has incensed members from both parties who have sought to cut off military aid for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.

The decision covers 22 pending transfers of munitions, aircraft parts, and other supplies "to deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. "These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Normally such sales are subject to congressional approval. But Trump is using a loophole in the Arms Export Control Act that allows him to bypass the process in case of emergency. The move is similar to Trump's declaration of a border emergency this year, which allowed him to divert military funds to pay for border barriers.

Pompeo, who cited previous instances in which the arms sales authority was used by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, said the step was critical to help allies maintain their armed forces in a period of "increasing regional volatility." And he lashed out at Congress for delaying the shipments.

"These national security concerns have been exacerbated by many months of Congressional delay in addressing these critical requirements, and have called into doubt our reliability as a provider of defense capabilities, opening opportunities for U.S. adversaries to exploit," Pompeo said.
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But he insisted that the decision would be "a one-time event."

"This specific measure does not alter our long-standing arms transfer review process with Congress," he insisted.

Nonetheless, the move was deeply unpopular on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have sought to halt arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. The coalition has been blamed for rising civilian deaths in that country.

Trump recently vetoed legislation that would restrict American support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

In a statement Friday, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) confirmed that the relevant committees had been notified of the pending sales.

"There is no new ‘emergency’ reason to sell bombs to the Saudis to drop in Yemen, and doing so only perpetuates the humanitarian crisis there," Murphy said. "This sets an incredibly dangerous precedent that future presidents can use to sell weapons without a check from Congress."

Murphy said he's looking into new legislation to restrict the sales. "We have the constitutional duty to declare war and the responsibility to oversee arm sales that contravene our national security interests," he said. "If we don’t stand up to this abuse of authority, we will permanently box ourselves out of deciding who we should sell weapons to."
Donald Trump and Patrick Shanahan

Defense
Hundreds more U.S. troops headed to the Middle East

By DAVID BROWN

Several other members of Congress have announced their intention to block any further weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Every bomb sold to Saudi Arabia is another bomb for Saudi bomber jets to drop on Yemeni hospitals, weddings, markets, and school buses," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), an outspoken opponent of America's involvement in Yemen, said in a statement. "Any claim from President Trump that selling weapons to Saudi Arabia constitutes an ‘emergency’ is a farcical attempt to obscure the shameful reality that ‘made in the U.S.A’ bombs are killing innocent civilians and fueling the world’s worst humanitarian emergency in Yemen."

Pompeo insisted, however, that the administration sees little choice but to bypass Congress. "The United States is, and must remain, a reliable security partner to our allies and partners around the world," he said. "These partnerships are a cornerstone of our National Security Strategy, which this decision reaffirms."
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https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/24/8-billion-weapons-middle-east-3323593
Weapons worth $8B headed to Middle East over Congress' objections

And if you don't like it, go fuck yourself. This is all fruit from the poison tree planted by Antonin Scalia, david Arrington and John Yoo, articulating the case for the "unitary executive" for Darth Cheney. That means, in effect, "the the President does it, it can't be illegal." Which Trump is clearly riding hard. That, coupled with the Roy Cohn approach: "tell them to go to hell," and "Who's Gonna Stop Me?"
I piss off liberals when I blame Obama for this as well, because he benefited from the policies when he decided to extend Death by Drone. And he and his zombie AG, Eric Holder, decided infamously, to "look forward" in re the Iraq war, cooked intel, and safesful of lies. That and give every malefactor of great wealth a pass when it came to the collapse of the economy.
Opportunities missed.

It's almost as if someone showed Obama something at the beginning off his term that made him foreclose on heading in the direction of justice for several sets of evildoers.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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🚀 Video: Icebreakers and the Arctic Power Play
« Reply #677 on: May 27, 2019, 12:40:42 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/icebreakers-arctic-power-play/5678429

Video: Icebreakers and the Arctic Power Play
By South Front
Global Research, May 25, 2019
South Front 24 May 2019
Theme: Intelligence

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/z_CFYLOdbmk" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/z_CFYLOdbmk</a>

The Arctic remains one of the few areas of the globe with relatively little human activity and therefore limited prospects for international conflict. Even during the Cold War the Arctic remained comparatively under-resourced by both adversarial blocs. The main theater was Europe, supporting theaters included the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but the Arctic was mainly visited by strategic nuclear platforms such as submarines and bombers which rehearsed their WW3 missions there.

The end of the Cold War gradually raised the Arctic’s importance, and it did so for two reasons. The current multipolar power distribution means the addition of two independent or largely independent political actors, namely the EU and China, and the shifting of the global economic “center of gravity” eastward. This development is increasing Russia’s importance as the economic and political link between the EU and China. However, while the European and Asian economic powerhouses are exploring various forms of economic linkages with Russia serving as a vital component of the relationship, United States is actively seeking to drive a wedge between them by isolating the EU from Russia and therefore also China, and fully subordinating Europe to its economic and political interests. Whether the EU acquiesces to being merely a US protectorate or asserts its independence remains to be seen, however, in the meantime the Arctic is acquiring importance as a trade route linking Europe and Asia. The second reason for the Arctic’s importance is the presence of considerable reserves of energy resources in the region on which the global economy will depend. National control over these resources or lack thereof will in turn determine the power ranking of the country in question.

And since we are increasingly in a world where “possession is 9/10ths of the law”, anyone seeking to access the Arctic and maintain permanent presence there will have to maintain a sizable force of icebreakers in order to ensure navigation in areas which are temporarily or permanently ice-bound. Each of interested powers already maintains an icebreaker fleet whose size and importance is only going to increase in the coming decades.

Russia

Having the longest coastline facing the North Pole and maritime and trade interests in the region going back centuries, it is no surprise the Russian Federation maintains the largest and the most modern icebreaker fleet in the world, with no country even coming close to it. It is also the only country to operate nuclear icebreakers, vessels whose powerplant ensures remarkable endurance and which can plow through ice pack with the aid of hot water jets, courtesy of the reactors.

As of 2019, the nuclear icebreaker fleet consists of four active and one reserve vessels. The active ships include two-reactor, 75,000hp “Yamal” and “50 Years of Victory”, and two single-reactor 50,000hp “Taimyr” and “Vaygach”. The “Sovetskiy Soyuz” remains in reserve, to be used in the event of another ship becoming not operational. The fleet is rounded off by the “Sevmorput” nuclear-powered barge-carrier, capable of independent operations in the ice. The nuclear icebreaker fleet is complemented by five Project 21900 conventional icebreakers, each powered by a 30,000hp diesel powerplant.
Breaking Down Pompeo’s Verbal Assault on Russia and China’s Arctic Interests

The aging of the nuclear fleet means they will be replaced in the coming decade by the LK-60Ya (Project 22220) nuclear-powered icebreakers. They are also two-reactor designs, but boasting slightly greater power than their predecessors at 80,000hp. The first two ships of the class, “Arktika” and “Sibir” have already been launched, the third “Ural” is under construction. A total of five ships of this class are planned, all to enter service during the 2020s.  The LK-60Ya (Project 22220) icebreakers will be followed by LK-120Ya “Lider” (Project 10510) boasting not only vastly greater power (160,000hp) but also greater width, to enable even the largest of ships to use the Northern Sea Passage. Overall, the plan is to have not fewer than 13 heavy icebreakers in service, of which 9 will be nuclear-powered, by 2030. This represents both a quantitative and qualitative expansion of the force, an indicator of the importance of the Arctic to Russia.

United States

By comparison, and in spite of Alaska being part of the United States, the US Coast Guard operates exactly one (1) heavy icebreaker dating back to the 1970s, the Polar Star, with an 78,000hp diesel/gas turbine power plant. A second ship of the class, the Polar Sea, is ostensibly in reserve but has not been to sea in many years and is likely being cannibalized for spare parts to sustain the Polar Star in service which even so remains prone to mechanical breakdowns due to its advanced age and heavy use caused by an absence of alternative ships with similar capabilities.

When it comes to the expansion of its icebreaker fleet, the United States also lags behind the Russian Federation. Currently the plan is to procure three heavy and three medium polar icebreakers within the next decade, with the first of the new ships to be delivered in 2023 and the final in 2029. However, it should be noted that the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, and its modernization programs have suffered after the service was merged with the DHS which is a very much post-9/11 creation whose current budget priorities also happen to include the infamous “wall” separating the United States and Mexico.  Therefore the icebreakers will remain vulnerable to the DHS budget battles, and may also be affected by the looming next US financial crisis.

Canada

The United States may to some extent rely on Canada’s icebreaker fleet, which includes two heavy (36,000hp) and five medium icebreakers. However, its construction program is not as ambitious as Russia’s or even the United States. Only one new icebreaker, the 45,000hp John G. Diefenbaker is expected to join service in the 2020s, replacing one of the current heavy icebreakers. This would mean that for the first time in decades Canada would face icebreaker inferiority relative to the United States. Given US Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent assertion that Canada’s claims to the Northwest Passage are “illegitimate”, it appears that Canada is about to lose control over its portion of the Arctic to the United States.

China

While the PRC is not generally considered an Arctic power, its interest in trade routes means that even though it operates exactly one ship capable of ice-breaking operations, the Xue Long scientific research vessel built in Ukraine in the 1990s, there is an ongoing discussion in China over the importance of the Arctic to its economy. Therefore it is not surprising that China is in the process of developing a heavy nuclear-powered icebreaker comparable to the Russian vessels currently in service, which will likely enter service during the 2020s. Given the pace of Chinese ship-building in general, should China decide to enter the Arctic power play in earnest, it will be able to quickly out-match the United States and Canada in that realm.

Conclusions

Looking at the current situation and the emerging trends, it would appear that the two Eurasian powers, Russia and China, will remain dominant in the Arctic at least during the coming decade. While the United States is starting to get into the game, it is clearly very low on its list of priorities. The fact that the US capabilities are being stretched very thin indeed and the sorry state of America’s finances mean that US Arctic capabilities, military or otherwise, will receive veritable crumbs in terms of funding. Canada’s sovereignty is being gradually eroded by the United States and may lose its status as an Arctic player altogether in the next decade, particularly if icebreaker construction will have to compete for funding with the F-35 fighters which the United States is bent on imposing on Canada. China remains the wild card. At the moment, it seems content to rely on Russia’s icebreaking capabilities in the region, however, should US-China competition in the region intensify, the PRC will become more proactive in exerting its influence in the region.
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🚀 Iraq vows to stand with Iran amid US-Iran tension
« Reply #678 on: May 27, 2019, 02:34:14 AM »
File under "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".

RE

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/iraq-vows-stand-iran-us-iran-tension-190526153054539.html

Iraq vows to stand with Iran amid US-Iran tension


Iran and Iraq have close ties through trade, culture and religion. But Iraq relies on US to combat the threat of ISIL.
by Rob Matheson
18 hours ago

Iraq's leaders are vowing to stand with Iran after the United States ramped up its rhetoric against what it calls the Iranian threat.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali al-Hakim made the pledge following talks with his Iranian counterpart.

Al Jazeera's Rob Matheson reports from Baghdad.
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🚀 The World: What is Really Happening
« Reply #679 on: May 27, 2019, 07:03:44 PM »
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/05/the-world-what-is-really-happening/

The World: What is Really Happening
25 May, 2019  in Uncategorized by craig


If you want to understand what is really happening in the world today, a mid-ranking official named Ian Henderson is vastly more important to you than Theresa May. You will not, however, find anything about Henderson in the vast majority of corporate and state media outlets.

You may recall that, one month after the Skripal incident, there was allegedly a “chemical weapons attack” in the jihadist enclave of Douma, which led to air strikes against the Syrian government in support of the jihadist forces by US, British and French bombers and missiles. At the time, I argued that the Douma jihadist enclave was on the brink of falling (as indeed it proved) and there was no military advantage – and a massive international downside – for the Syrian Army in using chemical weapons. Such evidence for the attack that existed came from the jihadist allied and NATO funded White Helmets and related sources; and the veteran and extremely respected journalist Robert Fisk, first westerner to arrive on the scene, reported that no chemical attack had taken place.

The “Douma chemical weapon attack” was linked to the “Skripal chemical weapon attack” by the western media as evidence of Russian evil. Robert Fisk was subjected to massive media abuse and I was demonised by countless mainstream media journalists on social media, of which this is just one example of a great many.

In both the Skripal and the Douma case, it fell to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to provide the technical analysis. The OPCW is a multilateral body established by treaty, and has 193 member states. The only major chemical weapons owning powers which are not members and refuse the inspections regime are the pariah rogue states Israel and North Korea.

An OPCW fact finding mission visited Douma on April 21 and 25 2018 and was able to visit the sites, collect samples and interview witnesses. No weaponised chemicals were detected but traces of chlorine were found. Chlorine is not an uncommon chemical, so molecular traces of chlorine at a bombing site are not improbable. The interim report of the OPCW following the Fact Finding Mission was markedly sober and non-committal:

    The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody.

The fact finding mission then returned to OPCW HQ, at which time the heavily politicised process took over within the secretariat and influenced by national delegations. 9 months later the final report was expressed in language of greater certainty, yet backed by no better objective evidence:

    Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon on 7 April 2018 in Douma, the Syrian Arab Republic, the evaluation and analysis of all the information gathered by the FFM—witnesses’ testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses from experts, additional digital information from witnesses—provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.

However the report noted it was unable to determine who had used the chlorine as a weapon. Attempts to spin this as a consequence of OPCW’s remit are nonsense – the OPCW exists precisely to police chemical weapons violations, and has never operated on the basis of violator anonymity.

Needless to say, NATO funded propaganda site Bellingcat had been from the start in the lead in proclaiming to the world the “evidence” that this was a chemical weapons attack by the Assad government, dropping simple chlorine cylinders as bombs. The original longer video footage of one of the videos on the Bellingcat site gives a fuller idea of the remarkable lack of damage to one gas cylinder which had smashed through the reinforced concrete roof and landed gently on the bed.

[I am sorry that I do not know how to extract that longer video from its tweet. You need to click on the above link then click on the link in the first tweet that warns you it is sensitive material – in fact there is nothing sensitive there, so don’t worry.]

Now we come to the essential Mr Ian Henderson. Mr Henderson was in charge of the engineering sub-group of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission. The engineers assessed that the story of the cylinders being dropped from the sky was improbable, and it was much more probable that they had simply been placed there manually. There are two major reasons they came to this conclusion.

At least one of the crater holes showed damage that indicated it had been caused by an explosive, not by the alleged blunt impact. The cylinders simply did not show enough damage to have come through the reinforced concrete slabs and particularly the damage which would have been caused by the rebar. Rebar is actually thicker steel than a gas cylinder and would have caused major deformation.

Yet – and this is why Ian Henderson is more important to your understanding of the world than Theresa May – the OPCW Fact Finding Mission reflected in their final report none of the findings of their own sub-group of university based engineers from two European universities, but instead produced something that is very close to the amateur propaganda “analysis” put out by Bellingcat. The implications of this fraud are mind-blowing.

The genuine experts’ findings were completely suppressed until they were leaked last week. And still then, this leak – which has the most profound ramifications – has in itself been almost completely suppressed by the mainstream media, except for those marginalised outliers who still manage to get a platform, Robert Fisk and Peter Hitchens (a tiny platform in the case of Fisk).

Consider what this tells us. A fake chemical attack incident was used to justify military aggression against Syria by the USA, UK and France. The entire western mainstream media promoted the anti-Syrian and anti-Russian narrative to justify that attack. The supposedly neutral international watchdog, the OPCW, was manipulated by the NATO powers to produce a highly biased report that omits the findings of its own engineers. Which can only call into doubt the neutrality and reliability of the OPCW in its findings on the Skripals too.

There has been virtually no media reporting of the scandalous cover-up. This really does tell you a very great deal more about how the Western world works than the vicissitudes of the ludicrously over-promoted Theresa May and her tears of self pity.

Still more revealing is the reaction from the OPCW – which rather than acknowledge there is a major problem with the conclusions of its Douma report, has started a witch hunt for the whistleblower who leaked the Henderson report.

The Russian government claimed to have intelligence that indicated it was MI6 behind the faking of the Douma chemical attack. I have no means of knowing the truth of that, and am always sceptical of claims by all governments on intelligence matters, after a career observing government disinformation techniques from the inside. But the MI6 claim is consistent with the involvement of the MI6 originated White Helmets in this scam. and MI6 can always depend on their house journal The Guardian to push their narrative, as Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker does here in an article “justifying” the omission of the Henderson report by the OPCW. Whitaker argues that Henderson’s engineers had a minority view. Interestingly Whitaker’s article is not from the Guardian itself, which prefers to keep all news of the Henderson report from the public.

But Whitaker’s thesis cannot stand. On one level, of course we know that Henderson’s expert opinion did not prevail at the OPCW. Henderson and the truth lost out in the politicking. But at the very least, it would be essential for the OPCW report to reflect and note the strong contrary view among its experts, and the suppression of this essential information cannot possibly be justified. Whitaker’s attempt to do so is a disgrace.

Which leads me on to the Skripals.

I have noted before the news management technique of the security services, leaking out key facts in a managed way over long periods so as not to shock what public belief there is in the official Skripal story. Thus nine months passed before it was admitted that the first person who “coincidentally” came across the ill Skripals on the park bench, just happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

The inquest into the unfortunate Dawn Sturgess has now been postponed four times. The security services have now admitted – once again through the Guardian – that even if “Boshirov and Petrov” poisoned the Skripals, they cannot have been also responsible for the poisoning of Dawn Sturgess. This because the charity bin in which the perfume bottle was allegedly found is emptied regularly so the bottle could not have lain there for 16 weeks undiscovered, and because the package was sealed so could not have been used on the Skripals’ doorknob.

This Guardian article is bylined by the security services’ pet outlet, Luke Harding, and one other. The admissions are packaged in a bombastic sandwich about Russian GRU agents.


Every single one of these points – that “Boshirov and Petrov” have never been charged with the manslaughter of Sturgess, that the bottle was sealed so could not have been used at the Skripals’ house, and that it cannot have been in the charity bin that long – are points that I have repeatedly made, and for which I have suffered massive abuse, including – indeed primarily – from dozens of mainstream media journalists. Making precisely these points has seen me labelled as a mentally ill conspiracy theorist or paid Russian agent. Just like the Douma fabrication, it turns out there was indeed every reason to doubt, and now, beneath a veneer of anti-Russian nonsense, these facts are quietly admitted by anonymous “sources” to Harding. No wonder poor Dawn Sturgess keeps not getting an inquest.

Which brings us back full circle to the OPCW. In neither its report on the Salisbury poisoning nor its report on the Amesbury poisoning did the OPCW ever use the word Novichok. As an FCO source explained to me, the expert scientists in OPCW were desperate to signal that the Salisbury sample had not been for days on a doorknob collecting atmospheric dust, rain and material from hands and gloves, but all the politics of the OPCW leadership would allow them to slip in was the phrase “almost complete absence of impurities” as a clue – which the British government then spun as meaning “military grade” when it actually meant “not from a doorknob”.

Now we have seen irrefutable evidence of poor Ian Henderson in exactly the same position with the OPCW of having the actual scientific analysis blocked out of the official findings. That is extremely strong added evidence that my source was indeed telling the truth about the earlier suppression of the scientific evidence in the Skripal case.

Even the biased OPCW could not give any evidence of the Amesbury and Salisbury poisons being linked, concluding:

    “Due to the unknown storage conditions of the small bottle found in the house of Mr Rowley and the fact that the environmental samples analysed in relation to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Mr Nicholas Bailey were exposed to the environment and moisture, the impurity profiles of the samples available to the OPCW do not make it possible to draw conclusions as to whether the samples are from the same synthesis batch



Which is strange, as the first sample had an “almost complete absence of impurities” and the second was straight out of the bottle. In fact beneath the doublespeak the OPCW are saying there is no evidence the two attacks were from the same source. Full stop.

I suppose I should now have reached the stage where nothing will shock me, but as a textbook example of the big lie technique, this BBC article is the BBC’s take on the report I just quoted – which remember does not even use the word Novichok.


When it comes to government narrative and the mainstream media, mass purveyor of fake news, scepticism is your friend. Remembering that is much more important to your life than the question of which Tory frontman is in No. 10.

For an analysis of the Henderson Report fiasco written to the highest academic standards, where you can find all the important links to original source material, read this superb work by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media.

————————–

Finally two housekeeping points. Even among regular readers of this blog, well less than 1% make a voluntary subscription and among all readers the number is even smaller. Money is an unfortunate necessity to keep the blog going, and all help is gratefully received – though I do not wish anyone to contribute who has any difficulty to afford it.

Secondly the blog has used the same photo of me since 2005, and it is high time to change it. I have found a photo in which I look at least 80, so hopefully it might keep us going a few years. I hope my kind technical team will get that done today.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.
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🚀 US Forces Blow Up Three Oil Tankers In Syria Enforcing Oil Embargo
« Reply #680 on: June 01, 2019, 12:33:21 AM »
First report of oil tankers being sent to the bottom of Davey Jones locker, courtesy of the red white and blue.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/ruNrdmjcNTc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/ruNrdmjcNTc</a>

RE

https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/US-Forces-Blow-Up-Three-Oil-Tankers-In-Syria-Enforcing-Oil-Embargo.html

US Forces Blow Up Three Oil Tankers In Syria Enforcing Oil Embargo
By Julianne Geiger - May 31, 2019, 4:00 PM CDT


US-led forces have blown up three oil tankers in Syria as the United States increases its pressure on Syria by thwarting the oil trade between the PKK/YPG and the Assad regime, according to local sources quoted by several media sources.

The strike was carried about by coalition planes, which hit three oil tankers, leaving four dead. The coalition has not yet made a statement about the attack. In the area controlled by Assad, oil consumption stands at around 136,000 bpd. Production, meanwhile, is only 24,000 barrels per day. This means that the regime must import significant volumes of crude oil at an estimated expense of more than $2 billion per year.

The attack comes a couple weeks after the EU extended its sanctions on the Assad regime for one year after the Syrian regime upped the ante in repressing the Syrian people, bringing the Syrian crisis to a boiling point.

Reports surfaced weeks ago that Iran had resumed oil shipments to Syria in the wake of US sanctions on the former, with a million barrels arriving in Syria from Iran on May 5. Further illicit oil shipments may be coming, as a new border crossing between Iraq and Syria is currently under construction, Fox News reported last week, based on satellite imagery revealing that construction is underway.

In Syria, Arab residents of oil-rich Deir Ezzor area began protests in April against US-backed Kurdish forces that control the region to the East of the Euphrates. The protests disrupted the oil flows from nearby fields, most of which have been controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces since the end of 2017.

The fuel and electricity shortages that are occurring now in Syria have soured previous supporters of Assad against his rule. Iran, who has poured billions into Syria to prop up the Assad regime in recent years, is now feeling US pressure on both fronts—one at home as its oil exports are restricted, and another in Syria.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 12:38:42 AM by RE »
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Can't wait till they try and run the Straights of Hormuz!  :o

RE

1st look at the US aircraft carrier rushed to the Middle East to deter Iran

    By
    elizabeth mclaughlin
    andmatt mcgarry


ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN — Jun 3, 2019, 2:02 PM ET

PHOTO:Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress conduct joint exercises in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
Brian M. Wilbur/U.S. Naval Forces
WatchInside Iran amid tariff tension with US

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The USS Abraham Lincoln is currently the most-watched aircraft carrier in the world. Since its expedited deployment to the Middle East last month, the ship has become the focal point of tense U.S.-Iran relations.
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The Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force of B-52s were deployed to the region in response to U.S. intelligence that indicated Iran or its proxies were planning to attack U.S. forces and interests in Iraq and Syria, as well as at sea.
(MORE: Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says US sanctions are 'economic terrorism')

ABC News was among the first group of media outlets permitted aboard the ship since its arrival in the Middle East, getting a first-hand look at operations that U.S. officials say have deterred Tehran from direct attacks against American interests.

"I'm just here to do what has been asked of me and that is to deter Iranian aggression, ensure free flow of commerce through the important strait and narrow waterways, and then to ensure that our forces are protected and defended if required," said Adm. John Wade, commander of Strike Group 12.
PHOTO:Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress conduct joint exercises in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Brian M. Wilbur/U.S. Naval Forces
PHOTO:Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress conduct joint exercises in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
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"The threats are credible, and that's why we are here," Wade told ABC News.

On Saturday, the Lincoln carried out joint exercises with a B-52 bomber and F/A-18s from the carrier. The bomber is one of four that the U.S. deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar as part of the mission to deter Iran, along with 1,500 additional U.S. troops and Patriot missile batteries.
(MORE: US believes Iran behind vessel attacks as senior officials brief Congress)

Navy officials would not reveal to ABC News how close the carrier was to Iranian shores, but the Lincoln's commanding officer, Capt. Putnam Browne, said the ship was "close enough" to provide a presence without threatening Tehran.

It also remains to be seen whether the carrier will transit through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
PHOTO:Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress conduct joint exercises in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Brian M. Wilbur/U.S. Naval Forces
PHOTO:Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress conduct joint exercises in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
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"Anytime you go through the straits you have higher levels of security, any straits. So we would elevate our level of security," Browne said.

But he added that Iranian forces have been "fairly professional in the last couple of years" which he expects to continue "should and if" the Lincoln goes through the straits into the Persian Gulf.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, nearly $20 million barrels of oil pass through the Strait of Hormuz every day and keeping the waterway open and navigable is a top priority for the U.S. Navy.

In the past, Iranian gunboats have shadowed American ships as they pass through the strait -- which at its narrowest points can be just 2 miles across.

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.
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The planes are junk anyhow.  The Turks should just let Lockheed Repo them.

RE

June 6, 2019 / 5:41 PM / Updated 13 hours ago
Exclusive: U.S. will not accept more Turkish F-35 pilots over Russia defenses - sources
Phil Stewart

4 Min Read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has decided to stop accepting any additional Turkish pilots who planned to come to the United States to train on F-35 fighter jets, U.S. officials say, in a clear sign of the escalating dispute over Ankara’s plans to purchase Russian air defenses.


FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo

The two NATO allies have sparred publicly for months over Turkey’s order for Russia’s S-400 air defense system, which Washington says poses a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealthy fighters, which Turkey also plans to buy.

The United States says Turkey cannot have both, but has avoided taking steps until now to curtail or halt planned training of Turkish pilots in the program, a reprisal that could be seen as an embarrassment in Turkey.

The two U.S. officials, who spoke to Reuters this week on condition of anonymity, left open the possibility the decision could be reversed, perhaps if Turkey altered its plans. They said the decision so far only applied to upcoming rounds of Turkish pilots and maintenance crews who would have normally come to the United States.

There has not yet been a formal decision to halt the training of the Turkish pilots and maintenance crews now at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, the sources said. Still, Reuters reported last week that the step was being seriously considered.

Four Turkish pilots are currently training at Luke. Two additional Turkish pilots are at the U.S. base working as instructors. Beyond those six Turkish officers, there are an additional 20 Turkish aircraft maintainers at the base undergoing training as well, the U.S. military says.

Turkey has expressed an interest in buying 100 of the fighters, which would have a total value of $9 billion at current prices.

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STRAINED RELATIONSHIP

If Turkey were removed from the F-35 program, it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history in the relationship between the two allies, experts said.

But strains in ties between Washington and Ankara already extend beyond the F-35 to include conflicting strategy in Syria, Iran sanctions and the detention of U.S. consular staff in Turkey.

The disclosure of the decision on the pilots follows signs that Turkey is moving ahead with the S-400 purchase. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on May 22 that Turkish military personnel were receiving training in Russia to use the S-400, and that Russian personnel may come to Turkey.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday it was “out of the question” for Turkey to back away from its deal with Moscow.

Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the Pentagon’s most senior policy officials, said last week that Turkey’s completion of the transaction with Russia would be “devastating,” dealing heavy blows to the F-35 program and to Turkish interoperability within the NATO alliance.

“The S-400 is a Russian system designed to shoot down an aircraft like the F-35,” said Wheelbarger, an acting assistant secretary of defense. “And it is inconceivable to imagine Russia not taking advantage of that (intelligence) collection opportunity.”

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The Pentagon declined comment on whether it would accept new Turkish pilots. But it has stressed discussions are taking place with Ankara on potentially selling Turkey Patriot missile defenses, which are made by Raytheon Co.

Erdogan said on Tuesday, however, that the United States had not “given us an offer as good as the S-400s.”

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Dominic Evans and Mike Stone; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney
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🚀 US carrier in Persian Gulf region sends clear signal to Iran
« Reply #683 on: June 09, 2019, 12:21:10 AM »
If the signal is that they are Sitting Ducks, it's very clear.

RE

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-carrier-persian-gulf-region-sends-clear-signal-63578537

US carrier in Persian Gulf region sends clear signal to Iran

    Byrobert burns, ap national security writer


ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN — Jun 8, 2019, 5:04 PM ET

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, confers with an Air Force officer below the bomb bay of a B-52 bomber on Friday, June 7, 2019 at al-Udeid air base in Qatar. McKenzie said on Friday that he thinks Iran had been planning some
The Associated Press
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Under a starry sky, U.S. Navy fighter jets catapulted off the aircraft carrier's deck and flew north over the darkened waters of the northern Arabian Sea, a unmistaken signal to Iran that the foremost symbol of the American military's global reach is back in its neighborhood, perhaps to stay.

The USS Abraham Lincoln , with its contingent of Navy destroyers and cruisers and a fighting force of about 70 aircraft, is the centerpiece of the Pentagon's response to what it calls Iranian threats to attack U.S. forces or commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf region. In recent years, there has been no regular U.S. aircraft carrier presence in the Middle East.

U.S. officials have said that signs of heightened Iranian preparations to strike U.S. and other targets in the waters off Iran as well as in Iraq and Yemen in late April emerged shortly after the Trump administration announced it was clamping down further on Iran's economy by ending waivers to sanctions on buyers of Iranian crude oil.
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U.S. sending aircraft carrier and bombers to Middle East in response to clear indications Iran planned an attack on U.S. forces in the region.
Aircraft carrier to Middle East after indications Iran planned attack on US forces
VIDEO: 120,000 troops may be deployed if Iran targets US: Report
120,000 troops may be deployed if Iran targets US: Report

The administration went a step beyond that on Friday, announcing penalties that target Iran's largest petrochemical company.

On Saturday the Lincoln was steaming in international waters east of Oman and about 200 miles from Iran's southern coastline. One month after its arrival in the region, the Lincoln has not entered the Persian Gulf, and it's not apparent that it will. The USS Gonzalez, a destroyer that is part of the Lincoln strike group, is operating in the Gulf.

Rear Adm. John F. G. Wade, commander of the Lincoln strike group, said Iran's naval forces have adhered to international standards of interaction with ships in his group.

"Since we've been operating in the region, we've had several interactions with Iranians," he said. "To this point all have been safe and professional — meaning, the Iranians have done nothing to impede our maneuverability or acted in a way which required us to take defensive measures."

The Lincoln's contingent of 44 Navy F-18 Super Hornets are flying a carefully calibrated set of missions off the carrier night and day, mainly to establish a visible U.S. "presence" that Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of Central Command, said Saturday seems to have caused Iran to "tinker with" its preparation for potential attacks.

He said on Friday that he thinks Iran had been planning some sort of attack on shipping or U.S. forces in Iraq. Two other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details, said Iran was at a high state of readiness in early May with its ships, submarines, surface-to-air missiles and drone aircraft.

"It is my assessment that if we had not reinforced, it is entirely likely that an attack would have taken place by now," McKenzie said.

In an interview on the bridge, or command station, of the Lincoln with reporters who are traveling with him throughout the Gulf region, McKenzie said the carrier has made an important difference.

"We believe they are recalculating. They have to take this into account as they think about various actions that they might take. So we think this is having a very god stabilizing effect," he said.

"They are looking hard at the carrier because they know we are looking hard at them," McKenzie said.

He said earlier in the week that he had not ruled out requesting additional defensive forces to bolster the deterrence of Iran, whose economy is being squeezed hard by U.S. sanctions after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. The U.S. already has announced plans to send 900 additional troops to the Mideast and extend the stay of 600 more as tens of thousands of others also are on the ground across the region.

Iran's influential Revolutionary Guard has said it doesn't fear a possible war with the U.S. and asserted that America's military might has not grown in power in recent years. "The enemy is not more powerful than before," the Guard spokesman, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, said in late May.

The U.S. has accused Iran of being behind a string of recent incidents, including what officials allege was sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

McKenzie spent two days aboard the Lincoln to confer with naval commanders, observe both daytime and nighttime flight operations, and to thank crew members. Their deployment plans were disrupted when the White House approved McKenzie's request in early May that the Lincoln cut short its time in the Mediterranean Sea and sail swiftly to the Arabian Sea.

"I am the reason you are here," the general said in an all-hands announcement to the nearly 6,000 personnel on the Lincoln Friday night shortly after he flew aboard by Navy helicopter from Oman.

"I requested this ship because of ongoing tensions with Iran," he said. "And nothing says you're interested in somebody like 90,000 tons of aircraft carrier and everything that comes with it. Our intent by bringing you here was to stabilize the situation and let Iran know that now is not the time to do something goofy."

McKenzie also requested, and received, four Air Force long-range B-52 bombers. They were in the region 51 hours after being summoned and were flying missions three days later. They are now operating from al-Udeid air base in Qatar. There had been no U.S. bomber presence in the Gulf region since late February.

In an interview Friday after speaking with B-52 pilots at al-Udeid, McKenzie said it's hard to know whether that gap in a bomber presence had emboldened the Iranians.

"Cumulatively, the fact that we had drawn down in (the Mideast) may have had an effect on Iranian behavior," he said. "We do know that bringing stuff back in seems to have had an effect on their behavior," noting that there have been no Iranian attacks on U.S. forces.

On Saturday aboard the Lincoln, McKenzie was asked whether there have been any incidents between Iranian and American naval force in recent weeks.

"No, actually I think things are pretty quiet right now," he said.
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🚀 Putin says relationship with U.S. 'getting worse by the hour'
« Reply #684 on: June 14, 2019, 03:11:50 AM »
Countdown to Armageddon.

RE

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/13/putin-united-states-relationship-1363311


President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear at a news conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki. | Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Foreign Policy
Putin says relationship with U.S. 'getting worse by the hour'

By PIA DESHPANDE

06/13/2019 09:46 AM EDT


Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that U.S.-Russia relations are “getting worse and worse," criticizing U.S. sanctions and praising his country's trade relationship with China.

“Unfortunately, we cannot say anything of the kind about our relations with the U.S.,” he told state media outlet Mir TV. “They are in fact deteriorating, getting worse by the hour.”

Putin said trade with China has already surpassed $108 billion, exceeding the nation’s target trade amount of $100 billion.

His comments contradict President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Russia, which the U.S. leader has called an ally. Trump has said he and Putin discussed “forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” to stop election hacking, even though U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump has voiced skepticism that Russia was behind the hacks of Democrats' email accounts in 2016. During the campaign, he tweeted, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should have never been written (stupid), because Putin likes me."

He has also said his son and son-in-law did nothing wrong when they met in 2016 with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer offering information on Clinton. In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that aired Wednesday, he said a foreign actor offering information on an election opponent wouldn't count as interference, and he said he might not alert the FBI if it happened in 2020. "I think I’d take it,” Trump said.
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Mayb be in the dark?  Trumpovetsky is Little Donnie Dark.  "There are none so Blind as those who will not See"

RE

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/06/nyt-washington-attacks-russian-electrical-grid-cyber-malware.html

NYT: U.S. Steps Up Attacks on Russian Electrical Grid, but Trump May Be in the Dark

By Daniel Politi
June 15, 20196:43 PM


Children play in front of a power plant in central Moscow on November 15, 2018.
MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images


Washington is intensifying its campaign to install malware in Russia’s power grid in an illustration of how the administration is getting more aggressive as the cyber war between the two countries intensifies. In a bombshell report released Saturday afternoon, the New York Times reveals the United States is stepping up its digital attacks on Russia’s electric grid. The move is seen as part warning to President Vladimir Putin and part a readiness effort to be ready to carry out a significant cyberstrike if a conflict breaks out.

The stepped up incursion into Russia’s power grid is part of the broader response to Moscow’s efforts to affect the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections and comes after many within the administration had been calling for more aggressive action despite the “risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.” And officials say the difference is noticeable. “It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” a senior intelligence official told the Times. “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”

Although the United States has been digging inside Russia’s electric grid for years, now it is taking a more offensive stance and installing malware “at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before.” This follows a move to give the United States Cyber Command more leeway to carry out offensive activities without approval from the president. For now it seems President Donald Trump isn’t being kept in the loop. Two officials told the Times they think the commander in chief hasn’t received detailed briefing on the effort. There is “broad hesitation” among Pentagon and intelligence officials to reveal too many details of the program to Trump because they fear how he might react or that he could even bring it up with foreign officials.
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Re: WW3??
« Reply #686 on: June 15, 2019, 11:41:37 PM »
Quote
Washington is intensifying its campaign to install malware in Russia’s power grid in an illustration of how the administration is getting more aggressive



And the evidence is crystal clear.
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Re: 🚀 Putin says relationship with U.S. 'getting worse by the hour'
« Reply #687 on: June 16, 2019, 12:56:28 AM »
Countdown to Armageddon.

RE

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/13/putin-united-states-relationship-1363311


President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear at a news conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki. | Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Foreign Policy
Putin says relationship with U.S. 'getting worse by the hour'

By PIA DESHPANDE

06/13/2019 09:46 AM EDT


Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that U.S.-Russia relations are “getting worse and worse," criticizing U.S. sanctions and praising his country's trade relationship with China.

“Unfortunately, we cannot say anything of the kind about our relations with the U.S.,” he told state media outlet Mir TV. “They are in fact deteriorating, getting worse by the hour.”

Putin said trade with China has already surpassed $108 billion, exceeding the nation’s target trade amount of $100 billion.

His comments contradict President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Russia, which the U.S. leader has called an ally. Trump has said he and Putin discussed “forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” to stop election hacking, even though U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump has voiced skepticism that Russia was behind the hacks of Democrats' email accounts in 2016. During the campaign, he tweeted, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should have never been written (stupid), because Putin likes me."

He has also said his son and son-in-law did nothing wrong when they met in 2016 with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer offering information on Clinton. In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that aired Wednesday, he said a foreign actor offering information on an election opponent wouldn't count as interference, and he said he might not alert the FBI if it happened in 2020. "I think I’d take it,” Trump said.

Not to worry, Putin can't get that upset about Trump.  Trump is a useful idiot to Putin.  Trump strengthens Putin's popularity and makes Russia more self-sufficient.  American sanctions achieve absolutely no strategic advantage with regards to the United States and are the best insurance against being deposed Putin could possibly have. 

Putin knows Trump is like a lounge lizard who only has enough folding stuff for one more round and Putin the bartender knows Trump is mortified about anybody finding out his time is about up.  Trump knows if he asks Putin as bartender to run a tab the answer is going to be no.  So what does Trump do, talk shit but quick.  That is Trumps game.  But Putin will get the last of Trumps money as a tip.  And for that he will smile.

Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

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Re: 🚀 Putin says relationship with U.S. 'getting worse by the hour'
« Reply #688 on: June 16, 2019, 01:12:32 AM »

Not to worry, Putin can't get that upset about Trump.  Trump is a useful idiot to Putin.  Trump strengthens Putin's popularity and makes Russia more self-sufficient.  American sanctions achieve absolutely no strategic advantage with regards to the United States and are the best insurance against being deposed Putin could possibly have. 

Putin knows Trump is like a lounge lizard who only has enough folding stuff for one more round and Putin the bartender knows Trump is mortified about anybody finding out his time is about up.  Trump knows if he asks Putin as bartender to run a tab the answer is going to be no.  So what does Trump do, talk shit but quick.  That is Trumps game.  But Putin will get the last of Trumps money as a tip.  And for that he will smile.

More than Impeachment, more than Prison, more than even the Guillotine, there would be no greater Eternal Justice than to see Trumpovetsky Pauperized and living Homeless on the streets of Seattle.  :icon_sunny:

One can only hope.

RE
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Re: 🚀 Putin says relationship with U.S. 'getting worse by the hour'
« Reply #689 on: June 16, 2019, 06:41:27 PM »
Not to worry, Putin can't get that upset about Trump.  Trump is a useful idiot to Putin.  Trump strengthens Putin's popularity and makes Russia more self-sufficient.  American sanctions achieve absolutely no strategic advantage with regards to the United States and are the best insurance against being deposed Putin could possibly have. 

Putin knows Trump is like a lounge lizard who only has enough folding stuff for one more round and Putin the bartender knows Trump is mortified about anybody finding out his time is about up.  Trump knows if he asks Putin as bartender to run a tab the answer is going to be no.  So what does Trump do, talk shit but quick.  That is Trumps game.  But Putin will get the last of Trumps money as a tip.  And for that he will smile.

Trump is a wholly owned Russian asset, and all Putin has to do is arch an eyebrow and the pee tape gets released. At no other time and in connection. with no other individual has the "president" we describe as a mob boss been so obsequious or so accommodating.

Trump is Putin's bitch, and Vlad has him by the shorties.
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