AuthorTopic: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis  (Read 85070 times)

Offline RE

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This the Illuminati's plan to begin a war with the US and Russia, until soon they will begin the nuclear war that will reduce the number left on earth to be 10,000 or something written on some ancient stone.

Except apparently the Ruskies have the same goal, getting rid of Maduro.

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Offline RE

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🌍 NATO at 70: Not a happy anniversary
« Reply #721 on: April 04, 2019, 02:17:10 AM »
The Empire Collapses.


NATO at 70: Not a happy anniversary
By Dov S. Zakheim, opinion contributor — 04/03/19 09:00 AM EDT

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is visiting the United States on the occasion of NATO’s 70th anniversary. He has met with President Trump at the White House, speaks to a joint session of Congress today, and this evening Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will host a reception for him at the State Department. On Thursday, Stoltenberg will lead a meeting of NATO foreign ministers that also will be held at State.

Other than marking its anniversary, however, the alliance does not have much to celebrate. Despite his meeting with the secretary general, the leader of its most powerful member has little that is good to say about the organization. Another of its powerful members, the United Kingdom, is in the throes of national self-immolation. It has yet to determine how, and in what way, it will exit the European Union; in the meantime, it is becoming increasingly clear that whatever the denouement with the EU, Britain’s defense budget is unlikely to grow, and could well shrink.

Since the country already contributes barely 2 percent of its gross domestic product to defense, such a development hardly will endear it to President Trump, who is fixated on percentages. Perhaps that is how he views the nature of alliance contributions to the common defense.

Thus far, at least, Britain has reached the president’s 2 percent goal. Other NATO states are not faring nearly as well. According to the authoritative Military Balance that the International Institute for Strategic Studies issues annually, none of the other major NATO allies — France, Germany, Spain and Italy — reached the 2 percent mark in 2018. Germany, once NATO’s bulwark in continental Europe, managed to achieve only 1.13 percent, with no improvement over the previous year.

The pressures of feeding, housing, educating and providing for the health of thousands — and in Germany’s case, hundreds of thousands — of refugees from the Middle East promise to constrain military spending in these nations for the foreseeable future.

As if budgetary shortfalls were not enough to dampen NATO’s celebrations, the schism in the alliance wrought by Italy, Hungary and Turkey are far more threatening to its future cohesion. Hungary’s Viktor Orban has made much of his close relationship with Vladimir Putin, and has signed a number of cooperative economic agreements with Russia. The recently elected Italian government has proclaimed its own desire to reach out to Moscow.

Perhaps of greatest concern, however, is Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s determination to press ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 air defense missile systems, the first time a NATO nation actually has acquired major systems from Moscow.

Washington has threatened Erdogan with cancellation of the sale of the F-35 Lightning II (better known as the Joint Strike Fighter) to Ankara. The Pentagon has halted the transfer of fighter equipment to Turkey, and on March 28 a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation to block the fighter’s sale. Turkey has a major stake in the F-35: its industry has participated in its development and production and is slated to play a role in sustaining both the plane and its F135 engine. Moreover, Turkey was approved for producing its own F135 engines and the city of Eskisehir was selected as the site of the F135’s first European maintenance facility.

Despite his country’s having so much to lose, Erdogan is pressing ahead with the S-400 buy, an indication of Turkey’s increasingly close relationship with Moscow. So, too, is Turkey’s cooperation with Russia and Iran to achieve a peace agreement in Syria, in what has come to be known as the Astana Process (named after the Kazakh city where representatives of the three countries met), even as the United States has been relegated to the sidelines of this tri-national effort.

NATO requires the consensus of all 28 of its members to act upon Article 5, which states that any armed attack against one member of the alliance is an attack against them all. Cozying up to Moscow on the part of Hungary, Italy and Turkey calls into question NATO’s ability to respond to a crisis, whether in Europe or outside it, in the face of Russian opposition. Given President Trump’s attitude toward NATO, even the United States might not necessarily be guaranteed to invoke Article 5 should Russia attack a NATO member.

NATO has survived many crises. For example, during the 1960s, tensions within the alliance rose as a result of American plans for a Multilateral Nuclear Force (MLF), the war in Vietnam and the coup of the Greek colonels. The late 1970s and early 1980s witnessed major European opposition to the proposed deployment of American Pershing and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM) on the continental mainland. The Iraq War prompted deep divisions between Washington and what then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld termed “Old Europe.”

One can only hope that NATO will get past its current crisis — in some respects the sharpest of them all. The United States, in particular, must trust that this will be the case. After all, America is the only country for which the NATO allies ever invoked Article 5 (after 9/11), and allied troops fought and died alongside those of the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq for well over a decade. Hopefully, when NATO celebrates its 80th anniversary, the smiles and toasts will be genuine and not, as perhaps they are this week, artificial and forced.

Dov S. Zakheim is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and vice chairman of the board for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He was under secretary of Defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense from 2001 to 2004 and a deputy under secretary of Defense from 1985 to 1987.
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Offline RE

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🌎 Venezuelans take to the streets as power struggle persists
« Reply #722 on: April 07, 2019, 12:58:51 AM »

Venezuelans take to the streets as power struggle persists

Thousands rally in Caracas in the latest rival displays for and against President Nicolas Maduro.
by Elizabeth Melimopoulos
12 hours ago

Opposition supporters in the Caracas neighbourhood of Petare [Elizabeth Melimopoulos/Al Jazeera]

more on Latin America

    Venezuelans take to the streets as power struggle persists
    Venezuela braces for another round of rival protests
    Venezuela in crisis: All the latest updates
    Venezuela's health emergency: Calls for UN intervention

Caracas, Venezuela - Supporters and opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are once again pouring into the streets of Caracas, the latest rival rallies to be held in the capital amid a protracted political crisis and rising anger over blackouts that have left millions without electricity and water.

Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president and leader of the National Assembly, has asked his supporters not to get used to living in "darkness" while blaming high-level corruption and mismanagement under Maduro for the electricity outages.

Guaido has also held the government responsible for an exodus of people from the oil-rich country - according to the United Nations estimates, around three million Venezuelans have left since 2015.

"Look around you, we are not alone," Guaido told the pro-opposition rally in Caracas on Saturday. "Venezuela, look around, ... people are here, we are here fighting for our rights."

Earlier, opposition supporterLobelai Sandoval said she was marching "in the name" of her son.

"A son that this country has taken away from me, as he had to leave," she said, dressed in the colours of the Venezuelan flag.

"I am alone, thanks to this corrupted government that has left us in the situation we are today, and like me, there are many other mothers, many other families have split," Sandoval added.

"For how much longer can we carry on like this? We need to go out, we have to do it."
Government supporters near the presidential palace in Caracas [Elizabeth Melimopoulos/Al Jazeera]
'Can't let others take our country'

Across the city, government supporters were also taking to the streets for a "march in defence of peace", as Maduro labelled it.

The president, who has been in power since 2013 after the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez, accuses the United Statesand its allies in Venezuela of trying to force a coup against him, as well as for sabotaging the state.

Soner Boliviar, 50: 'I'm here to defend the sovereignty of my country, we are being threatened' [Elizabeth Melimopoulos/Al Jazeera]

"I'm going out to defend the future of my children and grandchildren," Elizabeth Ruiz, a Maduro supporter, said.

"No other nation can interfere in our affairs," she added.

"We can't let others take away our country - why would we allow them? This is the inheritance that our beloved President Chavez left."

The rival displays came days after Guaido said he feared abduction by the government after the Constituent Assembly on Tuesday stripped him of his parliamentary immunity and authorised the country's top court to prosecute him for proclaiming himself president.

The US, which has openly backed Guaido, has called for a UN Security Council meeting next week to discuss Venezuela's "humanitarian crisis".

On Friday, the US announced new sanctions on 34 vessels owned or operated by Venezuelan state-run oil company Petroleos de  Venezuela ( PDVSA), and on two companies and a vessel that delivered oil to Cuba in February and March.

"The United States will continue to exert all diplomatic and economic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy," Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech in Houston, Texas.

"Venezuela's oil belongs to the Venezuelan people," he added.

The sanctions were the latest by the US as it tries to choke off revenue for Maduro's government, which enjoys the backing of China and Russia.

Experts, however, have warned against the effect of these moves and urged for dialogue.

"We must push for agreements that can prevent this train crash," Luis Vicente Leon, an economist and analyst, said, referring to the deepening rivalry between Venezuela's government and opposition.

"If this is not resolved in a different way, this could end pulverising what remains of the country, businesses and infrastructure," he added.
Guaido stripped of immunity by Venezuelan legislators (2:19)
'This crisis is severe'

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the economy of Venezuela is estimated to have shrunk by more than 30 percent between 2013 and 2017. Last year, it is believed to have declined by 18 percent.

The Washington-based institution has also said Venezuela's inflation rate could reach 10 million percent by the second half of this year, exacerbating the country's economic crisis.

The collapse has made food and medicine unaffordable for most citizens, causing widespread malnutrition, especially among children, and a rise in preventable diseases.

On top of that, blackouts have knocked out water supplies and affected transport and communications.

"No matter how hard they try, Venezuelan authorities cannot hide the reality on the ground," said Shannon Doocy, an associate professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University, who conducted research at Venezuela's border.

"Venezuela's health system is in utter collapse, which, combined with widespread food shortages, is piling suffering upon suffering and putting even more Venezuelans at risk. We need UN leadership to help end this severe crisis and save lives."

William Alberto, 30: 'I'm here because the situation is just too [severe]. I'm not with the opposition, nor the government but we need to find a solution. If Hugo Chavez were here, he would not tolerate this [Elizabeth Melimopoulos/Al Jazeera]

Last month, the International Federation of Red Cross announced it was planning to increase operations in Venezuela to provide aid to 650,000 people. However, a UN report leaked to the media at the same time said that the number of people in need was close to seven million.

"This crisis is severe, we don't have the necessary tools," Vietnam Veras, a doctor in Caracas, said

"The state is not following through its obligation with the health system," he added.

"They say they don't have the resources - then, they should ask for help, make a call to the UN and do not let this chaos drag."
How can the political crisis in Venezuela be solved?
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Offline RE

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🌎 The Big Picture
« Reply #723 on: April 07, 2019, 02:03:10 AM »

The Big Picture

Eddison  Flame

There is a trend that seems to have been going on in the world for a pretty long time now. Rulers in the world have been actively suppressing a particular kind of social movement whenever and wherever it appears. These movements vary in name and in scale, but they are united in principle. In principle, what they all have in common is they are inspired by and founded upon principles of cooperation among people.

Consider for example the United States’ long standing anti-socialist policies toward Latin America. These have led the overthrow of one socialist government after another all throughout Latin America and for many years. Even now this policy has not changed, an overthrow attempt in Venezuela is ongoing. Commenting on the subject publicly in mid February Trump tweeted, “We are here to proclaim that a new day is coming in Latin America. In Venezuela and across the Western Hemisphere, Socialism is DYING…”.

Even more, as documented by Wayne Madsen for the Strategic Culture Foundation, a number of right wing leaders throughout south and central america have recently come together to form an official coalition whose purpose is to, essentially, combat socialist movements in the region. They seek to, “eradicate all vestiges of Venezuela’s late president, Hugo Chavez, and Brazil’s wrongfully-imprisoned past president, Inacio Lula da Silva.”

Another example is the hippy movement of the sixties. This was a movement that, somewhat unexpectedly it seems, grew up right in our own backyard. This movement was also rooted in principles of peaceful cooperation among people, and it too was ruthlessly stamped out by our own government. As Richard Nixon’s chief of domestic policy stated in an interview with Dan Baum for Harpers Magazine:

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

There are many many more examples of this type of thing occurring throughout history, this fight against cooperative movements goes back ages. The real question is, why do they keep having to stamp these movements out? Why do they need policies aimed at combatting these kinds of cooperative movements? And why do these movements keep coming back?

It’s almost like, to them anyway, the world has contracted some kind of disease that keeps breaking out all over the place. Whenever they take their eye off some place, people start cooperating again, and they have to hurry in and smash those communities to bits before the cooperative ideas start to spread.

For them, this seems to be the crux of the problem. The cooperative paradigm is the better, more efficient paradigm. Why else would people keep doing it? Even when they know the U.S. will try to crush them, even now in Venezuela while the U.S. is actively crushing them, the people remain dedicated to socialism. Once people have seen how much better a cooperative paradigm is, they don’t want to go back to the competitive one.

We can do a little thought experiment here to illustrate the point. Consider the two paradigms. One group says society will be more efficient if everyone competes with everyone else. Another group says society will be more efficient if everyone works together. One group suggests that everyone will be better off if we all fight over everything, and whoever gets the most stuff gets to keep it all, and if someone doesn’t get anything at all, too bad. The other group says that if we all work together, we can ultimately accomplish much more and we can simultaneously ensure that everyone always has at least enough to get by.

Do we even need to analyze these alternatives? How can anyone with even a shred of intellectual honesty argue that people will get more done fighting amongst each other than they will by working together? It’s absolutely ludicrous! If these people weren’t actively trying to destroy us all the time, the situation would be quite funny.

The problem for us is, they are trying to destroy us all the time! These people are extremely dangerous. They are literally killing people in wars all over the world for profit. Their actual policy is to actively identify and destroy collectivist movements of any kind wherever they appear, and they do this using all kinds of brutal tactics. These people rule the world, and they have endless resources at their disposal. They are rich, they are powerful, and they are thugs.

Still, they have a problem. Their problem is that the truth is on our side. Their problem is that the cooperative paradigm is the better paradigm. This is why they have to keep stamping out movements whenever they pop up, because they don’t want the word to get out. They don’t want people to find out that a better paradigm exists.

This ties in to a related topic, that poverty is a feature not a bug of the current system. Poverty is actually a useful feature for the super rich. If you want people to do things that they would otherwise not want to do, you have to have some kind of leverage over them. You have to engineer a situation where if they refuse to do what you want them to do, then you can make them suffer. This is poverty.

If you want someone to work for long hours in an uncomfortable and unsafe factory, the alternatives have to be pretty bleak. They have to pretty much be living in abject poverty. In fact, for the rich capitalist, the more rampant poverty is, the more power he wields. If people are really poor, I’m talking on the brink of starvation poor, they can be convinced to do all kinds of horrible things for a just a bit money.

So this is the real reason why the rulers of the world are quick to stamp out such cooperative movements. These movements threaten to undermine their leverage, their control over the people. If everyone starts taking care of everyone, it could get to the point where all the people have enough to eat and a place to sleep. Then people will not behave like slaves anymore. If people are generally satisfied and taken care of, how can they be exploited? This is the problem for the capitalists.

Their greatest fear, by far, is that some cooperative ideology could take hold of the people everywhere. It would undermine their whole power structure. Without their leverage over the poor, the rich have no power.

Having said all that, here is the bigger issue I want to address. We need to recognize where we stand. We need to recognize the mortal danger these people represent to we the people. We need to recognize how they see us, not as people but as slaves. We also need to recognize that what these people value most is power, and that any attempt to free ourselves is, to them, a direct assault on that very thing they love the most.

If we were to free ourselves. If we were able to reshape society into a cooperative one, everyone would win, but in their minds they would have lost. They would have lost their control over society, which to them is the most important thing in the world. So this is not something they will allow.

Recognize too that they have seen the world this way all along. They have always considered us to be like cattle. Their job has always been to keep us at work and focused on anything but them. They have always well understood the stakes and what could go wrong for them. They have always known that if we did figure out what is really going on, then we might rise up against them. They are well aware of this, and they have always been prepared to put us back in line, (as quietly as possible of course, so as not to upset the rest of the herd).

So the point is this, they have always been fighting against cooperative ideologies, and they are prepared now to fight us again the next time we try to rise up. In fact, they have certainly seen the shifting tides. They are aware that people are waking up, and they have been making preparations for it. They are beginning to lock down the internet. The police all over the western world have been militarized. They are working hard to take away peoples guns. These people are preparing to go full authoritarian. They are preparing to lock down all of society. The question is, are we prepared to resist when they do?

Cover photo by Tiago Gerken on Unsplash.
The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff we publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for our website, which will get you an email notification for everything we publish.

Eddison Flame is an activist affiliated with several progressive organizations working in the field of ecosocialism.
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Offline K-Dog

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Re: The Big Picture
« Reply #724 on: April 07, 2019, 02:21:46 AM »
So the point is this, they have always been fighting against cooperative ideologies, and they are prepared now to fight us again the next time we try to rise up. In fact, they have certainly seen the shifting tides. They are aware that people are waking up, and they have been making preparations for it. They are beginning to lock down the internet. The police all over the western world have been militarized. They are working hard to take away peoples guns. These people are preparing to go full authoritarian. They are preparing to lock down all of society. The question is, are we prepared to resist when they do?

Get tech savy!  If the internet got locked down a renaissance of clever LANs could spring up and asynchronous bridging can communicate between networks swapping RSS packets.

Sounds good anyway.  A webpage on a short wave radio might be fun too.

At least I'm playing with balls.

See what I'm up doing.  Right now I'm learning how to use the d3.js library.  I'm being a total student.  The globe on my site is built with the help of the d3 library which turns out to be super useful.  It is OK because my blog project is actually on schedule!  D3 will be used to manage links besides spinning balls.  Digressing to learn this skill is well worth the trouble.

Take a peek at what it can do.  For polls and charts it opens doors!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 02:33:34 AM by K-Dog »
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Offline RE

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Re: The Big Picture
« Reply #725 on: April 07, 2019, 08:14:01 AM »
So the point is this, they have always been fighting against cooperative ideologies, and they are prepared now to fight us again the next time we try to rise up. In fact, they have certainly seen the shifting tides. They are aware that people are waking up, and they have been making preparations for it. They are beginning to lock down the internet. The police all over the western world have been militarized. They are working hard to take away peoples guns. These people are preparing to go full authoritarian. They are preparing to lock down all of society. The question is, are we prepared to resist when they do?

Get tech savy!  If the internet got locked down a renaissance of clever LANs could spring up and asynchronous bridging can communicate between networks swapping RSS packets.

Sounds good anyway.  A webpage on a short wave radio might be fun too.

At least I'm playing with balls.

See what I'm up doing.  Right now I'm learning how to use the d3.js library.  I'm being a total student.  The globe on my site is built with the help of the d3 library which turns out to be super useful.  It is OK because my blog project is actually on schedule!  D3 will be used to manage links besides spinning balls.  Digressing to learn this skill is well worth the trouble.

Take a peek at what it can do.  For polls and charts it opens doors!

I'm still waiting to upgrade the Diner to your new Blog & Forum software.  ::)

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Offline azozeo

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Re: The Big Picture
« Reply #726 on: April 07, 2019, 11:40:37 AM »
So the point is this, they have always been fighting against cooperative ideologies, and they are prepared now to fight us again the next time we try to rise up. In fact, they have certainly seen the shifting tides. They are aware that people are waking up, and they have been making preparations for it. They are beginning to lock down the internet. The police all over the western world have been militarized. They are working hard to take away peoples guns. These people are preparing to go full authoritarian. They are preparing to lock down all of society. The question is, are we prepared to resist when they do?

Get tech savy!  If the internet got locked down a renaissance of clever LANs could spring up and asynchronous bridging can communicate between networks swapping RSS packets.

Sounds good anyway.  A webpage on a short wave radio might be fun too.

At least I'm playing with balls.

See what I'm up doing.  Right now I'm learning how to use the d3.js library.  I'm being a total student.  The globe on my site is built with the help of the d3 library which turns out to be super useful.  It is OK because my blog project is actually on schedule!  D3 will be used to manage links besides spinning balls.  Digressing to learn this skill is well worth the trouble.

Take a peek at what it can do.  For polls and charts it opens doors!

It's a keeper dawg  :icon_sunny:
Put it on my hallowed home turf. You're now a favorista ......  :icon_mrgreen:
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline RE

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🌎 Blackouts threaten death blow to Venezuela's industrial survivors
« Reply #727 on: April 13, 2019, 12:09:04 AM »

April 12, 2019 / 3:11 AM / Updated an hour ago
Blackouts threaten death blow to Venezuela's industrial survivors
Corina Pons, Mayela Armas

6 Min Read

VALENCIA, Venezuela (Reuters) - The latest power outage kicked off another tough week for factory owner Antonello Lorusso in the city of Valencia, once Venezuela’s industrial hub.

For the past month, unprecedented nationwide blackouts have paralyzed the factory and the rest of the country, cutting off power, water and cell service to millions of Venezuelans.

Lorusso’s packaging plant, Distribuidora Marina, had already struggled through years of hyperinflation, vanishing client orders and an exodus of employees.

But now the situation was worse.

For the whole month of March, Lorusso said his company produced only its single daily capacity: 100 tonnes of packaged sugar and grains.

When Reuters visited on April 8, he was using a generator to keep just one of a dozen packaging machines running to fulfill the single order he had received. Power had been on for a few hours, but was too weak to work the machines.

“There is no information, we don’t know if the blackouts will continue or not,” said Lorusso, who has owned the factory for over 30 years. He said the plant had just a day’s worth of power during the previous week.

Power has been intermittent since early March, when the first major blackout plunged Venezuela into a week of darkness. Experts and the opposition have called the government incompetent at maintaining the national electrical grid.
Businessman Antonello Lorusso stands next to a generator at the warehouse of his food packaging plant in Valencia, Venezuela, April 8, 2019. Picture taken April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition and the U.S. government of sabotage.

Venezuelan industry has collapsed during six years of recession that have halved the size of the economy. What is left is largely outside of the capital Caracas, the only major city that Maduro’s government has excluded from a power-rationing plan intended to restrict the load on the system.

In Valencia, a few multinational companies like Nestle and Ford Motor Co hang on. But according to the regional business association, the number of companies based there has fallen to a mere tenth of the 5,000 situated there two decades ago, when Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez became president.

The government said on April 4 that the power rationing plan meant Valencia would spend at most three hours a day without electricity.

But a dozen executives and workers there said outages were still lasting over 10 hours. Generators are costly and can only power a fraction of a business’s operations, they said, and many factories have shut down.

“The game is over. Companies are entering a state of despair due to their inviability,” said an executive of a food company with factories in Valencia, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Industrial companies this year are operating below 25 percent of capacity, according to industry group Conindustria. It estimated companies here lost about $220 million during the days in March without power, and would lose $100 million more in April.

Nestle’s factory, which produces baby food, halted production during the first blackout in early March and operations again froze two weeks later, with employees sent home until May, according to Rafael Garcia, a union leader at the plant.

He blamed the most recent stoppage on very low sales of baby food which cost almost a dollar per package, or about what someone earning minimum wage makes in a week.
Slideshow (12 Images)

“My greatest worry is the closure of the factory,” said Garcia, as he sat at a bus stop on Valencia’s Henry Ford Avenue, in the city’s industrial outskirts where warehouses sit empty and streets are covered in weeds.

Nestle, in a statement to Reuters, said it had “temporarily interrupted its manufacturing activities” at its Valencia factory due to a lack of demand and would resume production in May.

Ford’s plant had been operating at a bare minimum for several months, union leaders said. In December, the carmaker began offering buyouts to staff after it received no orders for 2019, they said. Ford had said in December it had “no plans to leave the country.”

The outages have idled more than just factories. In the countryside, lack of power has prevented farmers from pumping water to irrigate fields.

Since January, farmers have sown 17,500 hectares of crops - a third of the area seeded last year - and they fear losing the harvest due to the lack of water, according to agricultural associations.


In the central state of Cojedes, several rice growers have already lost their crops, farmers said.

“In the rural areas, the blackouts last longer,” said Jose Luis Perez, spokesman for a federation of rice producers.

Producers of cheese, beef, cured meats and lettuce told Reuters orders had dropped by half in March as buyers worried the food would perish once their freezers lost power in the next blackout.

Back in Valencia, Lorusso was preparing his factory for the new era of scarce power. He has converted one unused truck in his parking lot into a water tank. He plans to sell another to buy a second generator.

“We’ve spent years getting used to things. Then we were dealt this hard blow, and now we’re trying to find ways to cope,” he said.

Additional reporting by Tibisay Romero in Valencia; writing by Angus Berwick; editing by David Gregorio and G Crosse
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💣 Sri Lanka bombings: Death toll jumps to 290 in Easter Sunday explosions
« Reply #728 on: April 22, 2019, 09:09:42 AM »

Sri Lanka bombings: Death toll jumps to 290 in Easter Sunday explosions

Updated on: April 22, 2019 / 12:50 AM / CBS News

A series of nine bombings in Sri Lanka targeted Christian churches and hotels in three cities. The death toll has risen to at least 290 people and wounded more than 500 others on Easter Sunday, according to officials. Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene described the coordinated blasts as a terrorist attack by religious extremists.
Here is what we know

    At 8:45 a.m. Sunday, bombs tore apart three churches, one in the capital of Colombo, and two others in the cities of Negombo and Batticaloa.
    Four hotels in Colombo were also attacked: the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand, the Tropical Inn and the Kingsbury. There was another explosion at a housing complex in Dematagoda.
    Those targeted were members of Sri Lanka's Christian population and guests at the island nation's luxury hotels.
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "several U.S. citizens" were among those killed.
    The government of Sri Lanka has temporarily blocked social media services like Facebook and WhatsApp to prevent the spread of misinformation.
    Sri Lanka's police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said 24 suspects have been apprehended and the attacks appear to have been carried out by suicide bombers.
    Sri Lanka experienced a vicious 26-year long civil war between its Sinhala Buddhist majority and minority Tamil Tiger ethnic group that ended in 2009.

Sri Lanka Church Blasts
A view of St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. AP
Japan confirms 1 fatality in Sri Lanka blasts

Japan is confirming one of its citizens was killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and at least four were wounded. Foreign Minister Taro Kono offered his condolences to all the victims of the attacks and expressed Japan's commitment in "combating terrorism" and solidarity with Sri Lanka.

Japan also issued a safety warning, telling Japanese people in Sri Lanka to avoid churches, mosques, public places like malls and nightclubs, and government offices related to public security.

-The Associated Press
Eiffel Tower to pay tribute to Sri Lanka victims

The Eiffel Tower's Twitter page announced it would turn off its lights "to pay tribute to the victims of the Sri Lanka attacks."
Easter bombings bring back memories of Sri Lankan civil war

The suicide bombings that killed over 200 people on Sunday have brought back horrifying memories of the violence that plagued Sri Lanka during its brutal civil war that lasted from 1983 to 2009. Faraz Shauketaly, a TV broadcaster at News First and an editor at The Ceylon Independent, spoke with CBSN about the Sri Lanka Civil War and its connection to Sunday's attack.

"In Sri Lanka the ethnic conflict began approximately 40 years ago and finished approximately 10 years ago," Shauketaly told CBSN on Sunday. "It lasted about 30 years and it was mainly by a group of terrorists who claimed to want independence in the northern part of Sri Lanka, which is a tiny island, maximum 240 miles long by about 140 miles wide."

May 18, 2019, will mark the 10-year anniversary since the end of the nation's civil war. It was fought between the Sri Lanka government and its Sinhala Buddhist majority and the Tamil Tigers minority ethnic group.

Sri Lanka is a religiously diverse country of about 20 million people. It contains Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

"We've never had any sort of trouble with -- or anything aimed at -- the Christian community ever before," Shauketaly said, adding that Sunday's terrorist attack, "appears to be targeted at the Christian community."

"This attack today, targeting the churches and also the luxury hotels in our city, in the capital, is absolutely horrendous and caught the people of Sri Lanka completely unaware," he added. "We have enjoyed relative peace for the last 10 years so it came as a complete shock."
Witness describes chaos in bombing's aftermath

A witness to one of the bombings, at a hotel by the zoo in Colombo, told CBSN about the chaotic aftermath that unfolded after the explosion. Asela Waidyalankara described hearing a large blast and rushing to see what had happened.

"Suddenly, near my residence, we heard a strong sound of an explosion, so I rushed up to my rooftop to observe what was going on, and I observed a small building from a location about 1 kilometer or less away from us," Waidyalankara said by phone. "The closest landmark is the National Zoo of Sri Lanka, and we noticed within a few minutes there was a helicopter that approached the location and within a few more minutes we could hear ambulances and firetrucks coming into the area."

"At that moment we realized this was probably a larger attack in connection to the chain of attacks that we witnessed," he continued. "Incidentally so, the newswires picked it up, and said that two people had died in that particular explosion."

"We as Sri Lankans are shocked and heartbroken," Waidyalankara said. "But yet we will persevere."
Sri Lankan government blocks social media

The Sri Lankan government blocked major social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, in an attempt to prevent the spread of misinformation and rumors in the aftermath of the bombings. Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University, spoke with CBSN on Sunday about the motivations behind the decision.

"I think governments around the world have come to see social media is a risk," Grygiel said. "And platforms like Facebook and Facebook Inc., which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, really have not launched a product in a way that is safe or has enough content moderators or support to make sure that these platforms aren't being abused."

"When tragedy strikes, I think governments are taking quick action to make sure that rumors aren't spread on some of these applications, for example," Grygiel said.
Pompeo says Americans are among those killed

The secretary of state condemned the attack in a statement Sunday morning and said "several U.S. citizens were among those killed."

"Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security," Pompeo said. "The U.S. Embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families."
World leaders condemn attack
Vatican Easter
Pope Francis delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and the world") message, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, on Sun., April 21, 2019. AP

On Sunday, world leaders spoke out and denounced the attacks. Speaking from St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis said, "I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence."

"I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event," the pope added.

President Trump tweeted a message of support on Sunday: "The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka. We stand ready to help!"

Former President Obama also tweeted a message: "The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka."

Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the attacks as "cruel and cynical." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the blasts "an assault on all of humanity."
Christians are an ethnic minority in Sri Lanka

The bombings came during church services on Easter Sunday, the most important holiday in the Christian calendar.

Sri Lanka is an ethnically diverse country with a predominantly Buddhist population. Nearly 70 percent of Sri Lankans are Buddhists, according to a 2012 census. Twelve percent are Hindu, nearly 10 percent are Muslim and seven percent are Christian.
24 suspects arrested in connection with the blast

Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena described the blasts as a terrorist attack by religious extremists, and police said at least 24 suspects were arrested, though there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Wijewardena said most of the bombings were believed to have been suicide attacks. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the violence could trigger instability in the country and its economy.

Wickremesinghe said his government would "vest all necessary powers with the defense forces" to take action against those responsible" for Sunday's attacks, "regardless of their stature."
At least 27 foreigners among the dead

The Sri Lanka government confirmed at least 11 foreigners were among the deceased. An additional 19 foreign nationals have been injured. According to the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry, those killed include:

    3 people from India
    1 person from Portugal
    2 people from Turkey
    3 people from the U.K.
    2 people with U.S./U.K. dual nationalities
    1 person from Japan

Death toll reaches at least 290 people

At least 290 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the blasts, pitching the South Asian island nation into the worst chaos it has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago. Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, said he feared the violence could trigger instability in the country and its economy.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said at least 500 more people were wounded in the blasts.

First published on April 21, 2019 / 12:54 PM
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🌎 Venezuela – Still on the Brink? Quiet Before the Storm
« Reply #729 on: April 23, 2019, 01:54:11 AM »

Venezuela – Still on the Brink? Quiet Before the Storm
By Peter Koenig
Global Research, April 18, 2019
Region: Latin America & Caribbean, USA
Theme: Intelligence

The silence is almost deafening. Is it the quiet before the storm? – Or is the US giving up on Venezuela? I don’t think so. It’s more like a regrouping after a first defeat, well, it’s a multiple defeat, if we start counting since the failed coup attempt against Hugo Chavez on 11 April 2002.

However, Washington is not giving up. The first blows come flying. Pompeo to Maduro – open your borders for humanitarian aid, or else…. which implies the usual, “all options are on the table – ’humanitarian’ military intervention is an option”.

Washington – April 10, 2019, high level US and South American (members of the infamous and nefarious Lima Group, naturally) politicians and military held a secret meeting about the strategic next steps to subdue Venezuela, how to “regime-change” the Maduro Government, by ‘military options’, as reported by investigative journalist Max Blumenthal. The meeting was dubbed ‘Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela.’ It was hosted by the DC-based neoliberal thinktank the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN, Samuel Moncada, denounces Trump’s preparations for war to the entire UN community. The UN Community is increasingly taking note of the atrocities and lawlessness of the one rogue UN member that has the arrogance of thinking and acting as if it were above the law, above every law, even the laws made by its own lawmakers, the United States of America. In the context of the failed coup attempt on Venezuela, a group of about 60 UN members formed, including Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and many more, representing about half of the world population, in support of Venezuela and especially in support of the UN Charter. The group requests and will enhance actions for UN members to respect the UN principles, the laws and rules upon which the United Nations were created almost 75 years ago. This is a new twist within the UN body.

On 11 April, US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, met in Washington with 16 ministers of finance and representatives of 20 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Peru, Spain, and the UK) – to enhance the support of some 50 countries of the self-declared president Juan Guaidó, and how to support Venezuela, once the Maduro Government “is gone”. – Hilarious, if it wasn’t so serious.  It is as if these, otherwise smart people, were falling into the trap of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister – if a lie is repeated enough, it becomes the truth. Indeed, there is no other country in recent history that emulates Hitler and his approaches to world dominance by manipulation as well as Washington. And indeed, it is not quite clear, who was teaching whom.

Venezuela’s Vice-president, Delcy Rodriguez, denounces the preparation of a military intervention in Venezuela by the US, Colombia and Brazil. She warns the world from a humanitarian disaster if the global community, allows the United States and its minions to interfere in Venezuela.

Mexico’s new President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), also vehemently rejects any interference in Venezuela – and offers his Government’s services to mediate a dialogue between the Maduro Government and the opposition, a dialogue to which President Maduro has invited the opposition already many times. To no avail. Mostly because the orders from Washington are clear, no dialogue – no compromise, the Maduro Government must be go.
Venezuela – US Attack Imminent?

    We will inject the necessary capital into the inefficient oil industry, and our petrol corporations are eager to revive Venezuela’s hydrocarbon industry and make it profitable again.

These are the bold and honest words of John Bolton, US National security Adviser. Let’s see where all this hoopla may lead. If it sounds like wishful thinking, it is wishful thinking.

Even though the true media hero, Julian Assange is for totally illegal reasons behind bars in the UK. And this because laws are made in Washington as Washington sees fit, as Trump signs papers, shows them on TV and they becomes law – and laws of the US are applied throughout the US vassalic world, and especially by its poodle puppets in London. Never mind this minor detail of human derailment. More importantly, it seems that Mr. Assange’s spirit and that of his creation of truth telling, Wikileaks, is increasingly reflected by politicians and journalists – who, though somehow coopted into the ‘system’, feel discomfort with this very system and decide to leak so-called classified information into the non-mainstream truth-telling media.

A classical case may be the secret ‘RoundTable’ that took place in Washington on 10 April to discuss the fate of Venezuela. The news about it was first published by the Grayzone portal on 13 April. Mr. Blumenthal has obtained the information along with a “check-in list” of the high-flying participants to this private ‘round-table’. When confronted and asked for interviews on the event, most members on the list were surprised, even stunned, and refused to talk. Somebody from inside must have leaked the information about the clandestine meeting.

On a totally different issue, but equally important for the concept and philosophy of leaking information to the outside world, is the recent disclosure – “leak” – by someone in the French military that sophisticated French weaponry was used by Saudi Arabia to attack and kill defenseless Yemenis. And this, although the French – and especially Roi Macron himself, has always denied that the French were participating offensively in this also illegal US-UK-NATO proxy war. The French narrative was and is that France’s weapons were only defensive. Sounds as stupid as calling the US War Ministry, the Ministry of Defense.

Are we entering a Leak-zone (no pun intended) – an epoch of leaking, of divulging ‘secret’ and classified information? Have we had enough impunity? It’s time to stop it. What is this “classified” and secret information anyway? In a so-called Democracy – why are the elected government officials privileged to hold on to secret information, unknown to the public who lives under the illusion that they elected them, and – more importantly, or even worse – the public, who pays for them. Can’t you see, dear People, what aberration of “democracy” we have moved into? – Please, just open your eyes and see all these contradictions, contradictions for us, but they serve the chosen- and you believe elected-by-you – elite, lining their pockets and increasing their power.

Now the public must know the truth. This new Leak-Culture may take hold. – If so, its high time, but never too late. It would be another sign towards the empire heaving on its last breath, or as Andre Vltchek so adroitly puts it, when he describes the ultimate crime of the lawless London gang, the police manhandling a sick and defenseless Julian Assange, “By dragging him from the embassy into a police van, it [the empire] has admitted that it already has begun sewing its own funeral gown.”

Back to Venezuela. Has Washington given up? Most likely not. Although their first coup attempt has failed. The Venezuelan military did not defect. Despite Trump’s warning, even threats, they stood and still stand behind Nicolás Maduro. The humanitarian aid trucks at the border in Cúcuta did not cross into Venezuela. In fact, they were burned by the very opposition, hoping to make believe that Maduro’s troops put them on fire. No. They were indeed the opposition forces and their allies in Colombia. Ironically, the mayor of Cúcuta, after the humanitarian aid stayed stuck at the border, asked Colombian President Duque, whether he, the mayor, might distribute the aid among the poor people of Cúcuta, because this aid was more needed in Cúcuta than in Venezuela.

Second, Juan Guaidó was never able to mobilize the crowds as Washington expected. Guaidó, a US lackey in the first place, lacks any charisma. He does not appeal even to the majority of Venezuela’s opposition. So, he is a dead horse. Bad choice by Washington.

Third, a direct military intervention seems unlikely – at least at this point – as Russia quietly but with considerable force has made known her presence in the country. And so does China. Though China may not have sent military personnel, China’s position was and is: Don’t mess with Venezuela. China and Russia have both huge investments in Venezuela’s hydrocarbon industry.

In the meantime, Bolton and Pompeo have already accused, in addition to Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua as spreading ‘socialism’ in the region. That’s their crime. It’s now in the open – it’s not just the oil, it’s also ideology. They are going to be sanctioned. In Cuba invoking again the 1996 Helms–Burton Act, under which foreign companies are prohibited from doing business in Cuba, lest they are prevented from doing business in the US. In addition, the amount of money Cuban American’s may send home is again limited, after Obama lifted the restrictions. – And exile Cubans – mostly applying to those in Florida – may now sue Cuba in US courts for confiscated and nationalized land after the revolution. And that after 60 years. I wonder, what US courts have to meddle in Cuba. This latest US arrogance stinks to heaven.

Will the world smell it? – Is Washington at the end of the rope with Venezuela? – Will see. Not voluntarily; that’s for sure. But if leakers keep leaking, it’s a sign that even insiders have had it.


Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image: Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN, Samuel Moncada
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April 23, 2019 / 11:33 AM / Updated 6 hours ago
Bowing to U.S. demands, U.N. waters down resolution on sexual violence in conflict
Michelle Nichols

France blasts US for weakened UN resolution on sexual violence in conflicts

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.S. threat to veto U.N. Security Council action on sexual violence in conflict was averted on Tuesday after a long-agreed phrase was removed because President Donald Trump’s administration sees it as code for abortion, diplomats said.
Amal Clooney and Nadia Murad listen to Denis Mukwege speaking at the United Nations Security Council during a meeting about sexual violence in conflict in New York, New York, U.S., April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

A German-drafted resolution was adopted after a reference was cut referring to the need for U.N. bodies and donors to give timely “sexual and reproductive health” assistance to survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

The U.S. veto threat was the latest in a string of policy reversals that some U.N. diplomats say has been driven by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, a conservative Christian who staunchly opposes abortion rights.

Pence was not involved in directing U.S. diplomats during the negotiations, a White House aide said, but added that the adopted text “ended up in a place that is closer in line with the White House’s priorities.”

Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen did not speak after the council vote.

After the vote French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told the 15-member body: “It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict - and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant - should have the right to terminate their pregnancy.”

The language promoting sexual and reproductive health is long-agreed internationally, including in resolutions adopted by the Security Council in 2009 and 2013 and several resolutions adopted annually by the 193-member General Assembly.

The text adopted on Tuesday simply reaffirms the council’s commitment to the 2009 and 2013 resolutions. A reference to the work of the International Criminal Court in fighting the most serious crimes against women and girls was also watered-down to win over Washington, which is not a member of the institution.

Before the vote, Cohen told the Security Council: “None of us can turn our backs on this issue.”

“It requires the engagement of all member states and of the United Nations to support the efforts of those fighting to protect women, provide accountability, and support survivors,” Cohen said.

Thirteen council members voted in favor of the resolution, while Russia and China abstained over a number of concerns - including a German push for expanded U.N. monitoring of sexual violence in conflict - and even circulated their own rival draft text, which they did not put to a vote.

“Please do not even try to paint us as opponents of the fight against sexual violence in conflict. Our stance on this issue remains firm and unyielding, this scourge has to be eliminated,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said.

The council voted after hearing briefings from Nobel Peace Prize winners Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi woman who was held as a sex slave by Islamic State militants, Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, who treats rape victims, Libyan rights activist Inas Miloud, and international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

The Trump administration cut U.S. funding in 2017 for the U.N. Population Fund because it “supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” The United Nations said that was an inaccurate perception.

In 2018 the administration unsuccessfully tried to remove language on sexual and reproductive health from several General Assembly resolutions, then failed in a similar campaign last month during the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women meeting.

Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington'; Editing by Susan Thomas and Howard Goller
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I wonder if Russell "Texac" Bentley will get a Ruskie Passport?


World News
April 24, 2019 / 4:34 AM / Updated an hour ago
Russia offers passports to east Ukraine, president-elect decries 'aggressor state'
Darya Korsunskaya, Pavel Polityuk

5 Min Read

ST PETERSBURG, Russia/KIEV (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order on Wednesday simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, prompting calls from Kiev for more international sanctions.

FILE PHOTO: People line up after crossing the contact line between pro-Moscow rebels and Ukrainian troops as they wait at passport control in Mayorsk, Ukraine February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

Five years of war between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed forces have killed 13,000 people despite a notional ceasefire signed in 2015.

Russia’s move is an early test for the Ukrainian president-elect, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who won a landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential election and has pledged to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Zelenskiy said Putin’s action showed Russia was waging war in Ukraine and brought the two sides no closer to peace. He called for the international community to threaten Russia with more sanctions. Outgoing President Petro Poroshenko said Russia might try to annex the Donbass region.
Related Coverage

    U.S. slams Russia's offer of citizenship to east Ukraine residents

“Russia, through this highly provocative action, is intensifying its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Rebellions broke out against Ukrainian government rule in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014. Moscow provided military help for the separatists, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, although Russian officials have denied providing material support.

Plans have been in the works for several months to streamline the issuing of Russian passports to residents of the two regions, according to sources close to the separatist administrations. If those plans had been announced before the Ukrainian election, it could have bolstered the chances of Poroshenko, the candidate Moscow least wanted to win.

“We have no desire to create problems for the new Ukrainian leadership, but to tolerate a situation in which people living in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk republic are generally deprived of any civil rights, this is already crossing the line from the point of view of human rights,” Putin said.


Ukraine urged residents not to apply for Russian passports and informed the United Nations about Russia’s move. Kiev also asked the European Union to take “prompt and decisive” action.

Swathes of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are now under the de facto control of the Moscow-backed rebels, while Ukraine says it is determined to reassert its control, a position backed by most Western countries.

Zelenskiy’s office said his priority was achieving peace but called Russia’s actions “another evident confirmation for the world community of Russia’s true role as an aggressor state, which is waging a war against Ukraine”, according to a statement.

Russia has consistently denied Western and Ukrainian accusations that it sends troops and heavy weapons to fight Ukrainian forces in the region.


Relations between Ukraine and Russia plunged after the Maidan street protests in Kiev in 2014 prompted a Kremlin-backed Ukrainian president to flee into exile.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula a month later in March 2014, triggering Western sanctions.

The United States, the European Union and Russia will be closely watching Zelenskiy’s foreign policy pronouncements to see if and how he might try to end the conflict.

Immediately after Zelenskiy’s victory, the Kremlin said it was premature to talk of Putin congratulating Zelenskiy or the possibility of the two leaders working together.

Zelenskiy has pledged to keep Ukraine on a pro-Western course while sounding less emphatic than Poroshenko about possible plans for the country of 42 million people to join the EU or NATO one day.
Slideshow (3 Images)

The head of Poroshenko’s security council said Russia’s move was intended to give Moscow legal cover for deploying troops to eastern Ukraine on the pretext of protecting Russian citizens.

“It is actually about the Kremlin’s preparations for the next step of aggression against our state - the annexation of the Ukrainian Donbass or the creation of a Russian enclave in Ukraine,” said Poroshenko, who remains president until Zelenskiy is inaugurated, likely next month.

Poroshenko urged Ukraine’s allies “to prevent the worst scenario, to severely condemn the destructive and criminal actions of the Russian authorities and to strengthen the regime of international sanctions”.

Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Pavel Polityuk; Additional reporting by Anton Zverev in Moscow, Andrei Makhovsky and Natalia Zinets in Kiev and Eric Beech in Washington; Writing by Anton Kolodyazhnyy, Christian Lowe and Matthias Williams; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Alison Williams and Peter Cooney
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🌎 Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Ukraine’s “Actor President”
« Reply #732 on: April 25, 2019, 03:16:01 AM »

Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Ukraine’s “Actor President”
By Dr. Binoy Kampmark
Global Research, April 24, 2019
Region: Europe
In-depth Report: UKRAINE REPORT

The world is not so much a stage as a simulacrum for those who think it so. And if the stage goes bad, it is fitting that those who get thrown onto it change it in the most daring and provocative way.  Politics is now as much a director’s production as it is an estranging show for the participating voter.  The shock to such formulae is when a political aspirant decides to either reject the director’s cut entirely or, as in the case of Ukraine, embrace it as a mocking demonstration of bankruptcy.  We know it is a joke: vote for me as a true expression of the authentic.

The sheer scale of repudiation by the voters on Sunday is striking, saying as much about the victor as the defeated.  Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s triumph in an election without precedent (almost 40 presidential candidates, and victory for a Jewish one) was crushing, coming in at 73% over incumbent Petro Poroshenko.  Holographic presence on screen – a comedian playing a character in a series who becomes president after a video rant on corruption goes viral – turned reality.  “Could I ever imagine that I, a simple guy from Kryvyi Rih, would be fighting for the presidency against a person who we confidently and definitively elected President of the Ukraine in 2014?”

Hope is often a devalued currency, but its vigorous circulation can be gathered in the measurements of public opinion by the Kyiv-based International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted this month.  Deputy Chief Anton Hrushetskiy reported findings of 2004 respondents to the question “Which of the following should the president do in the first 100 days?”

The list is meaningfully desperate and vengeful against state officials: a touch under 40% wish a slash in utility rates; 35.5% demand a removal of immunity for lawmakers, judges and the president; 32.4% wish for an opening of investigations and a speeding up of current ones into corruption-related crimes and abuses; 23.3% hope for commencing talks with Russia; 18.4% demand a reduction of wages of top officials.  All this stands to reason: Zelenskiy offers something others have not: a tabula rasa upon which voters can impose their vision.  In contrast, Poroshenko, candy billionaire with an acid aftertaste, offered the usual cluttering: Army, language, faith.
Farcical Ukraine Runoff Presidential Election

The broom for cleaning is being readied.  Remarks had been made, some floated from the quarters of Poroshenko, that the new administration would include elements of the old regime.  Former Finance Minister and advisor to Zelenskiy, Oleksandr Danyliuk, was adamant on Ukraine’s ICTV this would not be the case:

    “Regarding the comment that Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s new team will include old staff of the Presidential Administration, the Cabinet of Ministers… I’d like to say this is absolutely not true, this is one of the fake news and bogeyman stories that your [Petro Poroshenko’s] headquarters is spreading.”

Political regulars and strategists have brought out their calculators and have been left wanting.  Moscow, along with other readers of political entrails, did not see this victory in the offing.  Poroshenko offered an ideal target: divisive, army hugging entho-nationalist, with an anti-Russian fixation.  He could therefore be, over time, worn down, his country packaged as resoundingly anti-Semitic, fascist and hateful of the Soviet Union’s exploits against Nazi Germany.  Preference would have been for Yuriy Boyko, backed by the pro-Russian Viktor Medvedchuk.  The results did give their party 16% of the vote, making them second behind Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People, which received 26%.  Not quite happy days, but perhaps less anxious ones.

From what can be gathered from the new president, some measure of rapprochement towards their fraternal, giant neighbour might be in the offing, even if accompanied by what he terms “a very powerful information war” to end the eastern conflict.  Baby steps include lifting restrictions on the use of Russian in the country, which would also entail an end to blocking cultural exchanges and restrictions on accessing Russian social media networks. But to perceive a total change on that front would be to wonder in the realms of fantasy. In the words of head spokesperson at Zelinskiy’s election headquarters, Dmitry Razumkov, “The return of the occupied territories of the Donbass and Crimea must proceed exclusively on Ukraine’s terms.  Russia, as always, is trying to turn everything on its head and do everything backwards – by holding elections first.”

The stage in Ukraine has been going to seed for some years, manuring away in decay and poverty, bleeding in the Donbass region and plundered by self-enriching elites.  It took Zelenskiy to come to the fore by stepping off the screen and, quite literally, onto a live stage.  Whether he is capable of directing his own show, mastering his own brief, as it were, will be a wonder.  For one, parliamentary elections are due in October, leaving the virgin premier with six months of potential obstruction.  Poroshenko, for his part, promises to be a vulture in the galley, awaiting any slipups: “I am leaving office, but I want to firmly underline that I am not leaving politics.”


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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email:
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🌎 The Collapse of the Amerikan Empire
« Reply #733 on: May 05, 2019, 10:39:33 AM »
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Pace Pompeo: What if the US is “Sowing Chaos” in Mideast & Iran is a Status Quo Power?

Juan Cole 05/12/2019

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told NBC that Iran is an active threat to US interests and “sowing chaos” in the Middle East.

It strikes me that exactly the opposite is true. The Islamic Republic of Iran has in recent years, despite its heritage in the 1979 revolution, acted as an Establishment, status quo power.

I don’t agree with Iranian policy, e.g. its Syria intervention; I’m just acting as a dispassionate analyst and asking if it is really destabilizing. I conclude, not so much.

In contrast, the United States (and more especially the Republican Party) has sown enormous amounts of chaos in the Middle East just in the past 20 years.

The Bush administration probably had to try to overthrow the Taliban, given that that organization in Afghanistan sheltered al-Qaeda, which hit the US on 9/11/01. But instead of putting the Northern Alliance in charge and withdrawing, the Bush administration unwisely attempted to establish a long term foreign military presence (many Pushtuns would see it as an occupation). This brilliant policy, which may have aimed at surrounding Russia, has failed so badly that the Taliban, once hated, came back to take over half the country (at least).

This year, US and US-backed forces in Afghanistan killed more innocent civilian bystanders than did the Taliban. Now that is sowing chaos.

Bush also invaded and occupied Iraq, an action Trump himself ran against, but which current National Security Adviser John Bolton supported so strongly he lied to get it. The American war on that country displaced 4 million people from their homes (out of then 26 million), killed hundreds of thousands, wounded millions and left millions widowed and orphaned. Sowing chaos.

As a result of US policies in Iraq favoring the Shiites, Sunnis were alienated from the new order. Fringe groups like the so-called Islamic State in Iraq grew up, and ultimately it became the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant– Daesh or ISIL, and took over 40 percent of Iraqi territory in 2014. Many Iraqi Sunnis were taken hostage by the well-armed, well-funded group.

Sowing chaos, indeed.

The Obama administration Syria policy was a mess, but John Kerry admitted to having seen ISIL take over northeast Syria and to having done nothing because he thought it would put pressure on Bashar al-Assad, since Washington wanted him to step down. Ash Carter later used leftist Kurdish militias to defeat ISIL in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor provinces, a huge revolution in Syrian affairs since it empowered the Kurds. Turkey is still furious.

While Defense supported the Kurds, the CIA sent money and arms through Saudi intelligence to 40 “vetted” guerrilla groups aiming to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. The Lord knows to whom the Saudis gave the money, but we know they backed the hard line Salafi Army of Islam (Jaysh al-Islam). Some of the CIA-backed groups had links to al-Qaeda or had al-Qaeda-linked groups as battlefield allies.

The US almost certainly prolonged and made the Syrian Civil War more deadly by its split-personality policies there. On several occasions the Pentagon proxies fought a battle with the CIA proxies.

The Syrian Civil War displaced 11 million people and left hundreds of thousands dead.

So the US has been the bull in the China shop, sowing chaos in the eastern reaches of the Middle East. Now the US power elite has set its sights on destabilizing Iran.

Trump in breaching the 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed with members of the UN Security Council and Iran has destabilized the whole region in a bid to vastly weaken or destroy the Islamic Republic. That is not a status quo action leading to calm.

The completely one-sided support of the US for the right wing government of Israel in their occupation and human rights abuses against the Palestinians has destabilized the Levant. Trump’s unilateral recognition of all of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel contains the kernel of decades of turbulence.

So let us consider Iran. It was a mainstay in helping Iraq roll up ISIL and put the radical Sunni genie back in the bottle.

Iran joined Russia in propping up the status quo in Syria and helping to defeat the al-Qaeda affiliate and ISIL there.

Iran has warm relations with the Ghani government in Kabul and tries to use its influence among Afghan Hazara Shiites (some 22% of Afghanistan) to contain the hyper-Sunni Taliban, against whom Iran almost went to war in the late 1990s.

The US blames Iran for supporting Hizbullah. But Hizbullah began by attempting to expel Israel troops from southern Lebanon, which they had illegally occupied. Recently Hizbullah has mainly been fighting Sunni extremists in Syria that you’d have to have your head examined to want to rule Damascus. It has been acting as a status quo power.

It is not clear that Iran very heavily supports Hamas in Gaza any more, since Hamas dumped Tehran for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 2012-2013. Even if it does, Hamas was elected into power in a US-supported election in 2006, so Tehran would be supporting a status quo.

So Iran has been shoring up Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The US either deliberately or covertly has taken steps that have the effect of destablizing the eastern reaches of the Middle East, including Trump’s destruction of the Iran deal itself.

Who is sowing chaos?
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