Maybe a war for oil in Venezuela will be juuust-right. Let's stage the coup openly.
Meanwhile, Maduro insists a new constitution is essential to fend off what he refers to as an attempted foreign-sponsored “coup” against his government."
Right on cue, multinational military exercises, led by the US: "Given the U.S. fear of Venezuelan oil becoming the property of the Russian government, as well as the U.S.’ documented history of overthrowing and undermining leftist governments in Venezuela, “Operation: American United” may be less of a drill and more of what its name implies – a way to bring Venezuela, along with other South American nations, back into the fold of U.S. influence."
Russia points out that a military blockade against ocean trade with North Korea is an act of war against the countries whose ships are stopped and boarded by the navy. (Just in case you forgot.)
"A State Department official on Friday said that the Russian proposal calling to bar U.S. military aircraft from flying over designated safe zones cannot “limit” the U.S.’s mission against ISIS in the country in any way. “The coalition will continue to strike ISIS targets in Syria,” the official told The Wall Street Journal. “The campaign to defeat ISIS will continue at the same relentless pace as it is proceeding now.” A deal hammered out by Russia, Turkey and Iran to set up "de-escalation zones" in mostly opposition-held parts of Syria went into effect Saturday."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov remarks that the members of the Trump administration "have not yet fully adjusted to each other". Thanks Eleni.
"There’s the traditional neo-con/deep state friendly galaxy where General McMaster and to a degree James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis reside, there’s the Samantha Power 2.0 galaxy which is home of Nikki Haley, there’s the conservative, anti-Salifist/non-Russophobic galaxy of a seemingly isolated Steve Bannon and then there’s the Donald Trump galaxy where a long time ago and seemingly far away, Donald Trump actually knew what he stood for. Sean Spicer is meanwhile living in a strange galaxy where Hitler didn’t gas his people but Bashar al-Assad did. This place isn’t even worth exploring. One can only hope that Rex Tillerson, who for all his problems at least looks and acts in a professional manner, will be able to conduct relations with his counter-part Sergey Lavrov that by July, might be able to put an end to the confusion that seems to have paralysed the Trump administration."
He is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at about 8:30 a.m. before huddling with Mr. Trump later in the morning. The Russian envoy’s visit reciprocates Mr. Tillerson’s trip to Moscow last month, when he met with President Vladimir Putin after meeting with other Russian officials. Russia has said it is working toward establishing a meeting between Messrs. Trump and Putin... Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Lavrov comes as a plan by Russia, Iran and Turkey to set up “de-escalation zones” in Syria has been accompanied by Russian demands that U.S. planes stay away from the protected areas.Sergei Lavrov, Moscow’s top diplomat, will be in Washington for the first time since 2013.
Update: Lavrov reacts to the Comey firing news... Shaking his head, he chirped sarcastically “Was he fired? Was he fired? You are kidding?!”
President Trump “clearly stated his desire for businesslike” relations with Russia, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who met with President Trump Wednesday. "Very, very good meeting", remarked Trump.
The Future of Islam in Western Europe is a careful analysis, Thanks Eleni:
The threat has never been Islam. The threat is Takfirism. Here is how Wikipedia defines the concept of “Takfir”: In Islamic law, takfir or takfeer (Arabic: تكفير takfīr) refers to the practice of excommunication, one Muslim declaring another Muslim as kafir (non-believer)... “Takfirism” is first and foremost a mindset. Guns and bullets cannot defeat a mindset. In fact, only ideas can defeat other ideas. The Russians know that... Islam and the Muslims who practice it were never the enemy. That the enemy was a relatively small sect of para-Islamic crazies which originated in the 13 century and which remained largely in the fringes of the Islamic world until it was given an immense boost first by the House of Saud and, later, by the US CIA. Today, the Takfiris are still the instrument of the AngloZionist Empire, they are the infection which is unleashed against any country daring to reject the Empire’s dominion. Furthermore, the Takfiris are, first and foremost, a threat to any and all other variants of Islam, whether Shia or Sunni.
There is a sudden massing of hundreds of American military vehicles, tanks and supply trucks, on Jordan's border with Syria (drone pics here). Also the deal is set to massively increase weapons supply to Syrian Kurds, an effective fighting force, hated by Turkey. (Erdogan says Trump can still turn back from this.)
Who wants to be FBI Director? Let's see a show of hands! Free sword-of-Damocles!
Wikileaks offers Comey a job in Washington office.
Barack Obama is paid $3.2 million for a 90 minute talk in Italy. What a lucky guy! Thanks for the news, Ray. (New term "pre-bribery" just means "guaranteed payoff for services rendered". This is public advertising for how profitable it is to serve the masters well.)
Pat Buchanan, who worked in the White House the entire Nixon presidency, draws parallels between Nixon and Trump, who both feared and hated the CIA. Nixon went into the job fully prepared... There are differences.
Modern Monetary Theory, the Trillion $ platinum coin, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump... (Lincoln spent greenbacks into circulation. Global banking hated him with a vengeance.)
To a layperson, MMT can seem dizzyingly complex, but at its core is the belief that most of us have the economy backward. Conventional wisdom holds that the government taxes individuals and companies in order to fund its own spending. But the government—which is ultimately the source of all dollars, taxed or untaxed—pays or spends first and taxes later... “It’s a theory insofar as arithmetic is a theory.” “The contribution of MMT is not the discovery of new facts,” Galbraith says. “It’s a teaching core of things which are factually uncontroversial.” But its implications can be radically humane. What’s threatening to the establishment, Galbraith adds, “is that the narrative is very compelling.”
Pension cuts mandated by the Eurogroup are ruled illegal under Greek and European law (a minor formality...)