Wednesday, March 27, 2019

River Of Change


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied...
 The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia...
After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.” 
One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.
For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.
“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

Russian specialists are in Venezuela as part of the 2001 military-technical cooperation deal with Caracas that doesn’t need further approval, Moscow said after reports of the arrival of two military planes with troops and cargo.
Russia develops its relations with Venezuela “in strict accordance with the Constitution of this country and in full respect of its legislation,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
The existing deal was ratified by both Russia and Venezuela, and it “doesn’t require any additional approval from the National Assembly of Venezuela,” 
she pointed out.

The United States has again put both Venezuela and Russia on notice, after days ago two military planes carrying a contingency of about 100 Russian troops led by a high ranking officer touched down in Caracas. National Security Adviser John Bolton warned that foreign military "meddling" in Latin America would not be tolerated, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Russia to "cease its unconstructive behavior"...
Monday's outage affected a little over half the nation, including parts of Caracas. Shortly after most of the country's electricity was restored, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez made a televised statement saying the “fascist right” and their American “imperial masters” had attacked key transmission lines, impacting about 57% of Venezuela.  
 Rodriquez called out Pompeo, Bolton, as well as Republican Senator Marco Rubio specifically for orchestrating attacks on the Maduro government to cause a coup. He dubbed them “the trio of misfortune, perversity and criminality”.
Maduro's vice president questioned, “What was the objective of this new attack? It was to deprive Venezuela’s people of electricity as happened so terribly just two weeks ago.”

​We should do more than hope that nobody knocks out America's power grid...
In what would be a major about-face for the federal government, President Trump is reportedly preparing to sign an executive order to study the risks of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the US.
Despite the fact that a growing number of scientists and national security experts see an EMP attack on the US electricity grid as one of the greatest terror threats facing the country, the DoD decided in late 2017 to defund a Congressional committee that had been studying the EMP threat since 2001. The DoD terminated funding for the Commission to Assess the Threat to the US from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack in September 2017...
"Nuclear EMP attack is part of the military doctrines, plans, and exercises of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for a revolutionary new way of warfare against military forces and civilian critical infrastructures by cyber, sabotage, and EMP," the report continues.
"The Commission sees the high-altitude nuclear explosion-generated electromagnetic pulse as an existential threat to the survival of the United States and its allies that can be exploited by major nuclear powers and small-scale nuclear weapon powers, including North Korea and non-state actors, such as nuclear-armed terrorists."...
EMP attacks do not require accuracy, nor do the bombs require a re-entry vehicle, heat shield or shock absorbers like standard nuclear weapons, and they can be delivered through several methods - including satellites, short - medium - long range missiles, or even from a jet, commercial airliner or a meteorological balloon.

​I wonder whose interests might be served by a rocket flying out of Gaza to hit a house near Tel Aviv, just before Israeli elections, with Bib in a win-or-go-to-prison situation. Really, I wonder...​
An early morning rocket, allegedly fired from the Gaza Strip, struck a home in central Israel on Monday, wounding seven people and prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Washington...
  An Israeli military spokesperson said the rocket attack was carried out by Hamas, adding that the army was set to deploy two brigades and infantry units to the southern Gaza area. It also called up reserves after the rocket attack...
Later on Monday, a Hamas official denied to AFP news agency that the movement was behind the attack.
"No one from the resistance movements, including Hamas, has an interest in firing rockets from the Gaza Strip towards the enemy," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"​A friend in need..."
In a brief proclamation, witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump declared that
“the United States recognizes that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel.”

He argued that Israel’s illegal seizure of the Golan Heights in 1967, its unilateral annexation of the territory 14 years later and its continued assertion of control along with the aggressive buildup of Jewish settlements and Israeli capitalist exploitation in the territory were all justified by “Israel’s need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats,” including Iran.​..
The present election cycle has seen Netanyahu ally himself with the fascist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, which is an offshoot of the Kach Party of Meir Kahane, which was defined by the US State Department as a terrorist organization. Together with the religious Zionists of the Jewish Home party, Netanyahu’s coalition stands for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population from Israel and the occupied territories in pursuit of the goal of a “Greater Israel,” an imperialist and colonialist project that is bound up with the subjugation of the Middle East to US imperialist interests and the preparation for war with Iran.

​Helen of DesTroy via RT points out the simple elegance of the Trump/Kushner Mideast Peace Plan...
It has become clear that US President Donald Trump, despite his vaunted prowess as the Dealmaker-in-Chief, isn't interested in brokering peace between Israel and Palestine. His Middle East peace has no room for Palestine at all.​..
Trump claims the deal will be revealed in all its glory after the Israeli election in two weeks, when Netanyahu is presumably reelected​...
Bezalel Smotrich, deputy speaker of the Knesset, knows a giving mood when he sees one and has matter-of-factly asked Trump to recognize over half a century of illegal West Bank settlements by handing over the whole territory.​..
 Trump's primary financial backer, casino magnate and IDF fan-boy Sheldon Adelson, is one of the main funders of West Bank settlements​.​..
Netanyahu applauded the financial coups de grace, calling the millions of Palestinians descended from those who were evicted from their land during the 1948 Nakba "fictitious refugees." Kushner himself has called for two million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan to be delisted as "refugees."  

US Vice President Mike Pence has slammed the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates that ditched the pro-Israel policy conference.
The pro-Israel top Republican slammed the multiple Democrats who skipped the annual conference of American Israel Public Affairs Committee that opened Sunday.
"Let me be clear on this point, anyone who aspires to the highest office in the land should not be afraid to stand with the strongest supporters of Israel in America," said the former Indiana governor. "It is wrong to boycott Israel and it is wrong to boycott AIPAC."

​North Koreans are starving under US imposed sanctions. Security Advisor, Joshua Bolton announcing more sanctions, after North Korean goodwill demonstrations last year, resulted in North Korea closing it's communication channel with South Korea. 
South Korean President Moon called President Trump for some quick help, and Trump announced a rolling back of some of the starvation, which appears to be getting countered by Team Bolton, because there can never be too much starvation and war...​

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron said in a newspaper interview Monday he hoped a 73-year-old yellow vest protester who suffered serious head injuries after being charged by police in Nice gains “wisdom” over the incident.
Anti-globalization activist Genevieve Legay remained hospitalized after riot police carrying shields suddenly pushed toward people defying a protest ban Saturday.
An Associated Press reporter saw Legay, who was waving a rainbow flag marked “Peace” and holding a yellow vest, fall to the pavement as blood spilled from her head.
In an interview published in Nice Matin on Monday, Macron suggested Legay didn’t behave “responsibly,” saying that “fragile” people shouldn’t attend “places that are defined as prohibited.”

​You can see in the video that Genevieve was righteously brave, holding her rainbow peace flag high and chanting for liberty as police closed in around her​. Then we see her lying still in a pool of blood around her head. (The police appear to be under orders to inflict pain for any justification.)
According to her daughter, cited by AFP, she suffered from several fractures of the skull and petrosal bone (inner ear). “She has to stay another 48 hours under surveillance. She is conscious, under morphine infusion, because she has severe headaches,” she said, adding that the doctors were “very, very scared” for her. The activist told her daughter, who she did not recognise at first, what happened: “I remember that a policeman charged at me and afterwards I do not remember anything”.​..​ 
The Yellow Vests started to leave Sacré Cœur and march South. What followed was an unsanctioned march that for sure was spontaneously decided on. After 15 minutes of marching the column was suddenly blocked off by the regime and then gassed. This caused a tense standoff with “revolution” being chanted en masse by the “Yellow Vests”. After about 15 minutes the Yellow Vests decided to turn around, since their path was blocked, and head the other way. But sadly this direction was also blocked off by the police. It is at this moment that the chaos began.
The Yellow Vests would spend the next 30 minutes being pursued by the police down street after street. Law enforcement on motorbikes soon caught up with everyone, including me, and started to detain the Yellow Vest wearers (not me, fortunately) who they were able to catch. I escaped with only a burst of CS gas in my face, which immobilised me for at least 5 minutes.

Of course, in many respects there is a chess game ongoing here. Macron thought that by sealing off the Champs-Elysees he would prevent the Yellow Vests from repeating what they did on March 16th – firing a proverbial, and in many respects literal, missile up his ass. But in reality, by doing this he drove himself into a corner, since now the Yellow Vests (and their partisan allies) will try to reclaim it, either by force or by outmanoeuvring the regime with asymmetrical actions.
The next 3 weeks are critical – on the 30th there will be a demonstration against home evictions in Paris, which I will attend, on the following Saturday it is planned to gather in Toulouse, on the 13th of April it is planned to all gather in Bordeaux, and on April 20th the next Yellow Vests barrage of artillery is planned for Paris. Unless Macron has a lobotomy and starts implementing fully-fledged “democracy” before this day, we can only brace ourselves. I know that the “Black Blocks” are preparing a new strategy against “Manu” as I type.​..
Despite the heavy artillery out of the government, there were more Yellow Vests on the street yesterday than in Act 18. The picture is strong and clearly indicates that Macron attempted poker move hasn’t worked. And it will not work.​..
A torrent of hope and revolt cannot be stopped by police blocks. It impedes it, but it does not stop it. The government must now deal with a part of its population that has risen and will not lie down soon.

It was meant to be a routine visit by a journalist to another journalist. Instead, I found myself locked in a cold, surveilled room for over an hour by Ecuadorian officials, as a furious argument raged between the country’s ambassador and Julian Assange on Monday.
The room was inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Julian Assange currently lives under the ostensible protection of political asylum. Yet the WikiLeaks publisher was barred from entering the room, where he was supposed to join me for a pre-approved meeting, because he refused to submit to a full-body search and continuous surveillance.

​What is the Brexit decision-tree which parliamentarians face? 
It appears to guide them in a series of lesser-evil steps to something that is not "Sovereign Brexit".​

John Ward, The Slog, has this out this morning.
To the surprise of many, the Letwin amendment reviving Theresa May’s Magnificent Seven options passed the House of Commons last night. This means that tomorrow (Wednesday) MPs will vote on them to give “an indication” of what they can support as a group. It also, effectively, should​ ​render May’s Withdrawal Agreement “plan” dead, but don’t bank on it: I only hope somebody somewhere has a good supply of silver bullets and sharp stakes.
As I posted last week, the seven options are a liar’s card trick designed to create Brino – Brexit in Name Only. Only ‘No Deal Leave on April 12th’ and ‘Tariff-free trade deal’ would deliver clean Brexit…and the latter wouldn’t solve the backstop problem….

​Whitewater Rafting​

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