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What a Country!

By Jeff Foxworthy:

If plastic water bottles are okay, but plastic bags are banned, — you might live in a nation (state) that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

WE DO LIVE IN SUCH A DUMB COUNTRY!!

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives latest F-16 or F-35 fighter jets to the crazy leaders in Israel or Saudis — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If an 80-year-old woman who is confined to a wheelchair or a three-year-old girl can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe”, according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

Blanket Surveillance

RT discussed the issue with Richard Barbrook, academic in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages at the University of Westminster.

“In 1984 George Orwell has this idea that a large number of the population had telescreens where the television spies on you as well as gives you propaganda. And this is the source of the logical extension of this,” Barbrook told RT.

We all carry around mobile phones, we have laptops, now people have these voice activated assistants and obviously this is all collecting data on you,” he continued.

Barbrook says it is interesting that people became paranoid about voice surveillance and it any form of surveillance 20-30 years ago, but now just accept it.

“Often, lots of it is happening in the commercial sector and the NSA is basically piggybacking on the back of this,” he added.

Asked about the privacy implications of massive collection of voice recording by NSA, Barbrook pointed out that “it is blanket surveillance, not tracking people.”

He said he doesn’t think anybody would argue that the police should chase terrorists or pedophiles.

“But we are not talking about just targeted surveillance, what we are talking is – everybody, everything, every piece of data by everybody being collected and scanned by software for anything that looks deviant,” he explained.

“You can’t tell. You could say ‘They are only after the bad guys.’ But what happens if suddenly there is a massive protest movement in Western countries, then they could start targeting people involved in very legitimate things like demonstrations, strikes, even people who vote the wrong way, as far as the American government is concerned,” he noted.

Barbrook also claimed that whistleblowers seem to be one of the NSA’s priorities “as they [NSA] don’t want people to know what they are doing.”

Nord Stream 2 Is A Game Changer For Gazprom

By Viktor Katona – Jan 21, 2018Gazprom

It’s difficult to imagine an energy company that’s more hated and more closely monitored than Gazprom…

Perhaps in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill, BP attained similar levels of public oversight.

Nevertheless, defying most trends, 2017 will go down in history as one of Gazprom’s successful years: for the first time in history, its share in Europe’s gas consumption reportedly reached 40 percent.

Despite seemingly crippling U.S. sanctions specifically targeting Gazprom’s European endeavors and the EU’s hastily engineered gas rules, the construction of Nord Stream 2 has been going forward as planned, moreover, the project’s European partners (Shell, Engie, OMV, Uniper, Wintershall) wholly fulfilled their financial obligations.

Gazprom increased gas sales to almost all its buyers in Europe. Germany’s intake reached a historic maximum of 53.4 BCm (Nord Stream-I utilization rate was equally at an unseen high of 93 percent). Turkey took in 29 BCm (18 percent growth). France totaled 12.3 BCm (7 percent growth). A combination of cold weather, low price and shrinking domestic gas output in Europe led Gazprom to a spectacular increase in production, too — its year-on-year growth amounted to 52 BCm/year.

Related: Azerbaijan: A Crucial Energy Hub

Despite regularly occurring fakes that Gazprom is running short of gas, the gas giant is still keeping idle at 100-120 BCm/year of surplus production, mostly on the Yamal peninsula. So technically it can increase its supplies even further, but the real question is whether there will be sufficient demand to meet it.

Further dramatic Europe-bound increases are unlikely until Nord Stream 2 gets onstream. The next few winters might not be as cold as previous ones; oil-pegged gas prices start to appreciate and demand is constrained by existing supply routes. Still, once a pipe dream, now Nord Stream 2 increasingly stands out as Gazprom’s future claim on further European consolidation. The European Commission antitrust enquiry is effectively retracted from the DG Comp’s agenda after Gazprom agreed not to object to cross-border sales of resold Russian gas and make destination clauses flexible.

The EU legal service’s legal opinion on the applicability of the Third Gas Package to an offshore pipeline Nord Stream 2 (it found it was not) all but buried any future European Commission aspirations to block the project. The European Council chief, Donald Tusk, keeps on urging member states to adopt new EU gas rules which would specifically target maritime gas pipelines feeding the EU, however, Germany and France seem highly reluctant to go along with it. If the required legislation is not passed unilaterally before Nord Stream 2 is built (and its construction is already well underway and expected to be finished in 2019), Germany could treat the gas pipeline as a domestic matter, similarly to Nord Stream 1, and act without the EU’s supervision.

Apart from a very few of staunch Gazprom opponents in the European Union, like Poland or Lithuania, most countries might ease their antagonism vis-à-vis Gazprom as the Ukraine-Russia gas conflict slowly disentangles (displays of solidarity are a must on European level). The Stockholm Arbitration Court’s recent ruling, with both sides claiming victory, stipulates that Ukraine maintains a contractual take-or-pay obligation to buy at least 4 BCm/year and Gazprom ought to supply at least 5 BCm/year.

Despite a history of belligerent rhetoric throughout 2017 when Ukraine received no Russian gas from Gazprom (only reversed Russian gas resold from EU countries), the national company Naftogaz indicated willingness to start buying as soon as Q1 2018. This might be a bit too optimistic, considering the Stockholm Court is to deliver an opinion on another issue, the Gazprom-Naftogaz transit contract, however currently almost no one doubts this will happen after the court dealings are over. The underlying motive is quite simple: On average, Ukraine has been paying a premium of 25-30 dollars per MCm to European traders for remarketed Russian gas, roughly a $35-40 million loss every month.

While the fate of Gazprom in Europe lies mostly in German hands, the company’s eastward progress has been dramatic — often so swift that it was difficult to follow. Not only is the construction of the 38 BCm/year Power of Siberia-1 going according to schedule, the sides have already agreed on the day exports will begin: December 20, 2019. The Western route of China-bound supplies, the so-called 30 BCm/year Altay pipeline (also known as Power of Siberia 2) is still lingering around and further details about its future should be expected in Q2 2018 after the dust whipped up by the presidential elections has settled. While Power of Siberia-1 will be mostly sourced from Eastern Siberian fields in Sakha/Yakutia and Irkutsk Oblast, the proposed Power of Siberia-2 will be fed from the Yamal Peninsula up north. Related: $70 Oil Cripples European Refiners

Most recently, another potential Russo-Chinese gas project has popped up, namely the Sakhalin-Vladivostok-China pipeline with an estimated delivery volume of 8 BCm/year. Gazprom and the Chinese national company CNPC have signed an initial agreement on the issue (which doesn’t mean anything because the crucial issue, as always, will boil down to pricing formulae), but doubts remain whether Gazprom will be able to provide the required gas volumes. The problem is 10 years ago the Sakhalin-I consortium — the only one so far capable of providing the gas (roughly equivalent of the Chayvo field’s peak output) — tried to build a gas pipeline following a similar route; however, Gazprom vetoed it on the grounds that its exclusive monopoly on gas exports disallows other producers to sell their gas abroad.

So to sell additional volumes of gas to China, Gazprom would need the consent of the ExxonMobil-led consortium, which might not be as enthusiastic about the gas giant’s prospects as they would like to think (just think of Rosneft, whose gas output is widely expected to reach 100 BCm/year by 2020 and is desperate to break Gazprom’s export monopoly).

The Ministry of Energy is pressurizing the Sakhalin-I consortium to find a consensual agreement with Gazprom, steering clear of any legislative changes, yet it will be a long and tough negotiations process. But with the gas export monopoly confirmed by authorities to remain fully in the hands of Gazprom, thinking big is not an eventuality but a must.

By Viktor Katona for Oilprice.com

Nasrallah: Trump heads for Armageddon, Israel will be more easily defeated than ISIS

January 21st, 2018 – Fort Russ News –
– Al Mayadeen, translated by Sayed Hasan –

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The following is the second part of an interview aired on Al Mayadeen television, relevant to the headline, in which Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah explainas the strategic folly of Trump’s position on Israel, and how any escalation on the part of the Zionist occupational entity will result in a defeat swifter than that suffered by ISIS.

*

Journalist: At the end of the first part of our interview, we concluded on two points. In the first point, you said that the events in Iran will have no consequences and are over, and in the second point we evoked, the most dangerous, is that Trump and Israel are pushing the region towards a big war, and in case this war would be triggered, the Resistance Axis is preparing and has to be prepared. And I ask Your Eminence, are you really worried and concerned that this war happens ? Because I understand from your comments that the war is (a real) possibility, they will perhaps trigger it, and that you (are certain to) be victorious in this war.

Hassan Nasrallah: Listen, regarding the possibility of war, it is real. As for the degree of probability, we cannot rule it out, not even for a moment. Because with such a mentality, such an administration… And whatever they say, it’s not just Trump, but the Vice-President, the whole of this administration, their vision… You see how some approached the cause of Al-Quds. He approached it with a religious point of view! These things are related to…

If you read the statements of the Americans and even the Israelis, you see he wants an Armageddon, he prepares a (real) Armageddon and heads towards it with force. We know their mentality.

Journalist: They are supported by Christian Zionists.

Hassan Nasrallah: Anyway, we need to keep our eyes riveted on this possibility, because after they destroyed the negotiation process, what they call the peace process, what are the remaing choices? Where do they want to bring the region (if not to war)? This is why I say it is a real possibility. I do not say more than that. Because to say more than that, we need evidence, and we would worry people. That is true. But it would not be fair for any of us to enjoin people to be reassured, with Trump and Netanyahu, with all these madmen, and to say that the region could not be better, that there is nothing to fear, that peace is guaranteed. Where do we see this? There is absolutely no indication in that direction. That’s why we must speak of permanent possibility (of war).

Here, the only possibility is enough, from the point of view of rationality and responsibility, to push us to take action. Namely we must prepare, organize, strengthen our front, our Axis, our men, our situation and our capabilities, because (war) may happen (from one day to the other). If it does not happen, we will have lost nothing. We will be reinforced. And if it happens, we will be ready to face it.

Journalist: Eminent Sayed, so you get prepared with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine? This is your (Resistance) Axis now?

Hassan Nasrallah: Basically, yes. Naturally, we also consider included in the Axis, because it is not necessarily only a military axis, all personalities, movements, parties and forces in the Arab and Muslim worlds that support this path. We consider them as part of the (Resistance) Axis. But the main military forces on the front are those we just mentioned.

But let me add the Yemeni element. The Yemeni element that is currently agressed and attacked. When I announced that in the next war, there will not be tens but hundreds of thousands (of fighters joining us), if you remember, after only a few days, Sayed Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, in a live speech, announced that he was ready, and that jihadists Yemeni forces were ready to participate in this war (against Israel).

I’ll even tell you more than that. Through the constant contact between us in one way or another, I received a letter directly after my speech, and before Sayed Abdel-Malik al-Houthi announced this position on TV, informing me that they were ready, in case of war, to send forces by the tens of thousands if we needed it, tens of thousands of fighters, even if the Saudi-American war against them continues. Yemen today, what is known as the Yemeni army and the popular forces who are fighting, are fully at our side in the Resistance Axis and the Resistance Front. And besides, it’s one of the reasons for the war against Yemen.

Journalist: That is true. Eminent Sayed, so that it is not said right after this interview (as is often the case) that you exaggerated in your statements, and how (Hezbollah) could be victorious in this war (to come against Israel) while there are powerful States, NATO, the possibility of a world war, and yet you affirm that you will enter (occupiedPalestine) beyond Galilee in the next war if it occurs. Can we imagine reasonably that Hezbollah fighters will invade Galilee and beyond?

Hassan Nasrallah: If a great war happens… Now, the question of Galilee is distinct, it is an issue that was mentioned in the past, and we have always made clear that the basic position (announced to) Resistance fighters is “Be prepared for the day when the Resistance leaders might ask you to enter the Galilee or free the Galilee.”

In terms of going beyond Galilee, this is related to the general idea of which we are speaking. If a major war occurs in the region, anything can happen.

Journalist: Why are you certain of being victorious, Eminent Sayed? Why this certainty? Does it come from God, from the Invisible (world)? Or is there some real field data?

Hassan Nasrallah: As for God, the Invisible and the question of trust in God Almighty and the Exalted, and in His promise, this obviously has a fundamental place. But God Almighty, even when He assured (believers) of His help and His support, He set (material) conditions: “Prepare against (your enemies) all the forces you can.” (Qur’an 8:60) And He said, “If you help (the cause of) Allah, He will support you.” (Quran, 47:7) The second part (our own efforts on the ground) is fundamental.

Our reading of the Israeli enemy through all the experiences and all the wars is different. This enemy has no strength in himself. And it is possible to defeat him. That’s the first point. This was an old debate but we ended it. No one can question the achievements of the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. One of the greatest achievements of the Resistance on the military, moral, cultural, psychological and political levels, is to have shattered the myth of the invincible Israeli army. (We have shown) that this army can be defeated.

And I’m going even further. Those who are capable of inflicting a defeat on ISIS and takfiri forces in Syria and Iraq are much more capable of defeating the Israeli army.

Journalist: ISIS is more difficult (to defeat) than the Israeli army?

Hassan Nasrallah: Of course, there is no doubt about it. The Israeli army has only one point of strength, its aviation. But air force (alone) does not win the battle. As powerful as it may be, the air force cannot win the battle.

Journalist: And the air force will weaken in the future (due to possible anti-aircraft capability of Hezbollah) ?

Hassan Nasrallah: It must weaken! The fight against takfiri forces is infinitely more difficult than the fight (against Israel). You see, there is a huge difference between the takfiri fighter and the Israeli officer and soldier. I am not exaggerating the strength (of takfiris), no. But I must be honest. When you take part in a battle in which hundreds of suicide bombers face you… I do not consider them martyrs. Hundreds of suicide bombers on a vehicle containing one or two tons of explosives, and they attack your brigade, your battalion or your positions. They are ready to die, without any limit. Regardless of the reasons that led them there (indoctrination, drugs…).

(Hezbollah and other forces fought) on this very dangerous front in Syria for 7 years, a little bit more than 3 years in Iraq, and we managed to inflict a defeat on ISIS, and I declare that it would have been possible to overcome them faster without the support and protection of ISIS by Americans. This must be reported. The Israeli army, Professor Sami, its soldiers, just to move forward, as we saw them in 2006, and also in the last battle in Gaza at Shuja’iya (2014), we saw how the Israeli elite troops were fighting: to move forward, their soldiers and officers must be preceded by armored vehicles, followed by war ambulances, yes, ambulances, and above them, there must be helicopters and air force. Without all that, they do not make a step forward. Such a soldier is defeated (beforehand), he is a coward who has no will to fight, despite all materials and capacity provided. We have seen this in Lebanon, Gaza, and it is this reality that is present inside occupied Palestine.

Today we are facing an Israeli army which got out of several defeats, and since 2006 they do nothing but equipping themselves, training, make maneuvers, again and again…

Journalist: But you too.

Hassan Nasrallah: We don’t deny it. But they have not solved their problem. Because their problem is not with tanks, planes and weapons. Their problem is men. The fundamental equation introduced by the Resistance, and in which the Resistance Axis has the upper hand today, in this battle, it’s the human equation. I am one of those who sit at a table and say that 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, because the result is 3, I am using (indisputable) field data.

Today, for example, one of the most important strengths, we need people to know, one of our key strengths in the great battle (on preparation) against the Zionists is that currently, there are hundreds of thousands of fighters ready to fight this battle without any limits.

Journalist: Shooting down airplanes?

Hassan Nasrallah: You keep questioning me about (the ability to) shoot down planes.

Journalist: But this is the equation…

Hassan Nasrallah: (There are hundreds of thousands) of aspirants to martyrdom (ready to fight Israel). You see, in the past – when we met with various Resistance movements, we talked about the past – one Yemeni youth would join such Palestinian faction, as would a young Tunisian, Algerian, Egyptian.

Today we no longer speak of (some) young people coming from here or there. We’re talking about real forces, military and jihadists formations who fought on different grounds, who took part in the most difficult battles, who are not afraid, who are extremely experienced, who trust in God and in themselves. Today they are present in the Resistance Axis.

Journalist: Very good. Everything you say is very promising. But one might argue, Eminent Sayed, that you affirm pompously that you will defeat Israel, invade it and cross borders, but Israel bombs you in Syria, and you do absolutely nothing in return, you have not retaliated. What is the reason?

Hassan Nasrallah: It is in the interest of preparing for the Great (upcoming) War.

Journalist: That is to say ?

Hassan Nasrallah: First, at the point where things are, we all care not to be led to an escalation in a particular place, unless one has no choice. In Syria, Israel strikes some things. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail, they do not succeed every time. This is are details I will not evoke. But they have not succeeded nor will they succeed in preventing – Israel knows it, I do not reveal a secret here – the capacity, the means and the preparation of the Resistance in Lebanon to increase. This is something we need to endure until further notice, I’m not saying we will tolerate (these attacks) indefinitely. (We patient) until further notice, in the interest of the general strategic objective (ISIS defeat and preparation for the great war against Israel). And that’s what I called the rules of engagement.

Journalist: Very good. You warned me that you will not enter into details, but let me ask a question. The Israeli strikes positions, warehouses or factories of Hezbollah’s weapons or missiles did not prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah? This is what you mean?

Hassan Nasrallah: They have not prevented it and will not prevent it. And they know it very well. I do not tell you a secret here, even if it is perhaps the first time that I say it to the media. But the Israelis themselves know it.

Journalist: There is also a last front (I would like to mention) with your permission before we address the Syrian issue, Eminent Sayed, and it is the front of southern Syria. Much has been said about it, and Israelis are very worried, namely that Hezbollah and Iran, of course with the help and support of the Syrian army who also fought for 7 years, are preparing for Resistance near the border, from the Golan to the entire length of the southern border. Is it true? Is there any new Resistance against Israel at the Syrian-Palestinian border?

Hassan Nasrallah: You see, it is once again somethingthat it’s better not (to) speak about.Ultimately…

Journalist: It’s a mute interview (withoutrevelations), Eminent Sayed.

Hassan Nasrallah: This is because you insist on difficult (secret) issues. The enemy is quite right to worry, I tell him he’s right to worry. Because in the end, what happened in the Syrian south, it is a major experiment that is now a possibility for Syrian youth and the Syrian army. The army as a national army and Syrian youth. Because you know that in Syria it is not only the army that fights. Those that Syrian media refer to as the Allied forces, they are Syrian Popular formations composed of young people from villages, cities and regions, each in his area, Aleppo youth in Aleppo, those of Deraa in Deraa, those of Hama in Hama, those of Homs in Homs, etc., those of Suweida in Suweida, etc., they fought in their provinces. These young people have gained a great and valuable experience, especially on the southern front. Because the nature of the fighting on the southern front was sometimes classic warfare, sometimes guerrilla warfare, on both sides. Concretely, this has created a human structure, at the level of thinking, experience, preparation, which can be assembled in 24 hours. It is not necessary that an effective (permanent) formation exists.

Our very presence in the Syrian south, for reasons related to the nature of the ongoing battle in Syria, wherever we find ourselves, it is natural that Israel be worried, because there is a visceral opposition between us and the Israelis. This is why the Israelis are worried about anything that can happen in southern Syria, and they work, they push, they try to take advantage of US pressure, they try to talk with Russia, they try to threaten, frighten, they yell, so that there is no Resistance and no resistant in the Syrian south. But so far they have not succeeded.

So it happened, there is a presenceof the Resistance, from what I understand from your words, there are resistant cells ready for any coming war against Israel.

Hassan Nasrallah: The Resistance is present in the south of Syria, and anyway, it’s a normal thing on the defensive side, and Syria has the right to have this Resistance present at her service, if it is attacked, and it also has the right, at any time, to make the decision to resort to popular Resistance to liberate the Golan (from the Israeli occupation). And if you remember well, in the last years before the events in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad had referred clearly and explicitly to it, stating that they may eventually opt for this choice. And it is a logical and natural choice, that is greatly feared Israel. Israel is very afraid of that.

Journalist: The Popular Resistance mentioned by President Bashar al-Assad was Syrian.

Hassan Nasrallah : Yes.

Journalist: But now, from what I understand from Your Eminence, there is both a Syrian and non-Syrian Popular Resistance on the southern front.

Hassan Nasrallah: Yes. […]

Moldova seeks “billions of dollars” from Russia for yet another “occupation”

January 20, 2018 – FRN –
RIA – translated by Inessa Sinchougova

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The Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament Andrian Candu accused Russia of violating the norms of international law and announced the intention to collect billions of dollars from Moscow for the “occupation of Transnistria.”

Candu called Russian peacekeepers in the region “occupying” forces.

“Russian military units pose a threat to security, since this is an illegal military presence, such as the presence of the Russian army in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Eastern Ukraine,” the speaker of the parliament said.

He also expressed the hope that the issue of “the illegal presence of Russian troops” in Transnistria will be taken up by the UN.

In 1992, a Joint Control Commission was established, consisting of soldiers from the armed forces of Moldova, the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic (PMR – disputed territory) and Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Later, Ukrainian military observers were also included. The current peacekeeping mechanism is a multi-state mission, backed by an international mandate. Somebody teach the Parliamentary Speaker basic history!

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Moldova has in recent years found itself with a pro-Russian president, and an anti-Russian parliament.

“You Are Now Entering the American Sector” (Will Syria Be Partitioned?)

ISRAEL SHAMIR • JANUARY 19, 2018 • 2,900 WORDS

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Russia avoided the Syrian quagmire despite dire predictions. Putin minimised his footprint, his war is almost over, ISIL has been defeated. Trump could also exclaim “Mission is completed!” – and fly home. But it seems he is eager to rush in where angels fear to tread. Trump does not mind doing for the Israeli Prime Minister what his predecessors, whether Democrats or Republicans, refused, namely, fighting Israel’s war by indefinitely extending the hostile and illegal occupation of Syria.

He should have learned by now that foreign policy is not his forte. His liberal opponents at home effectively neutralise every move he does. Worse, his steps are counterproductive. He would achieve more if he were to forget about the world at large for a long while, and let the world forget about him.

Take, for instance, the Iranian protests. They appeared so dangerous for the regime, when the crowds called for resurrection of the late Shah and for withdrawal from Syria. They could have become dangerous, but they dissipated thanks to the timely intervention of President Trump. He had promptly expressed his support for the protesters.

Even the more pro-American segments of the European body politic have learned by now that the real American establishment never agrees with the real President Trump, and refused being drawn into human rights rhetoric and condemning Iran. We may quietly cheer the obnoxious Nikki Haley, who had succeeded in annoying the international community so much during the Jerusalem vote that her attempt to call the Security Council to arms miserably backfired.

The Russians and the Turks took Trump’s cue and denounced (otherwise almost non-existent) American intervention, while the Europeans stayed away. The Iranian protesters understood who would enjoy more riots and went back home, to deny Trump this pleasure. This was a very good outcome for the Russians who could have found themselves in dire straits in Syria without Iranian ground troops.

In Palestine, the steady genius of Trump achieved the near-impossible feat of forcing the Palestinian leadership’s withdrawal from the Oslo Accords. These miserable accords, blessed by the US and EU, and condemned by the late, great Edward Said, had been the basis of apartheid perpetuation in Israel/Palestine. As long as they were preserved, one couldn’t expect much change; they were the Iron Dome of Israeli politics, quipped an Israeli wit. Now they are dead and gone, and the new rules will be laid down, presumably with Russia’s participation.

The US-North Korean stand-off looked perilous, and the nuclear war appeared imminent. But Trump’s obvious insanity restored some sense to the troubled soul of South Korean president Moon. He understood that he was likely to become the president of incinerated Seoul, and called his North Korean counterpart for a friendly chat. The two Korean leaders exchanged virtual cigars and agreed to provide a joint team at the Olympic Games, to great disappointment of war-mongering Trump. This breakthrough encouraged the Russians and the Chinese so much that they refused to visit the Vancouver gathering; without them, the meeting had very little meaning, if any.

In Syria, the Russians came under the Attack of the Drones, which coincided with the government army offensive in the rebel-run Idlib province. The drones also came from Idlib, where the last act of the civil war is being played. Turkey was supposed to keep peace in Idlib, and the Turks were upset by the offensive. They said peace negotiations with the rebels were the only way to restore order; this suits the Russians who generally prefer to negotiate rather than fight. But Damascus does not believe in negotiations with the Islamist radicals; these radicals, a new reincarnation of al Qaeda, make impossible demands like “Assad must go”, and use the negotiation time to entrench. Confrontation between the Turks and ‘their’ rebels on one side, and the Russians and ‘their’ Syrians over Idlib was been looming and threatening.

Things could have become uncomfortable for the Russians, but here again, the US helped by declaring that they were arming and training a new rebel army in Syrian Kurdistan. Nothing spurs the Turks into action as fast as Kurdish moves. Just recently they succeeded in defeating Barzani’s attempt at creating an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, and now, Kurdistan Take Two, this time in Syria. Erdogan promised to drown the new Kurdish army under American leadership in rivers of blood and began gathering troops on the border of Afrin, the smaller Kurdish-held enclave. Even Erdogan was not sufficiently imprudent to confront both Russia and the US at once, and he patched up his relations with Putin. The Attack of the Drones has been re-assigned from the Turkish-supported rebels to the US-supported ones, as a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol plane had been in the air in that area at the right time. Thus the big danger of Russia-Turkey quarrel was averted, while US-Turkey enmity quickly rose.

This would be a very good time for the Americans to go home while the going is good. Turkey is much more important for the US than Syria could ever be; while for Israel it is other way around, Syria is more important. This was the moment of choice for President Trump: what does he treasure more, the US or Israel? The answer has been given in Rex Tillerson’s speech at Hoover Institution.

If until now, the official US position was that they came to Syria to defeat ISIS and then go home when the mission is completed, now we were disabused. Americans are not going anywhere. They will stay put forever, or until kicked out; another part of Syria, besides the Golan Heights, will be occupied.

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“The US will maintain a military presence in Syria… We will not repeat the 2011 mistake of pulling out from Iraq. We shall strive for the diminishment of Iranian influence — the northern arch will be denied, and Syria’s neighbours [read: Israel] will be secure. [We will stay until] Syria is free from weapons of mass destruction… The US will not withdraw until Assad is gone”.

Thus, Sergey Lavrov’s assessment given last week, that Americans intend to dismember Syria, became true. “A course was set for the partition of Syria,” the Russian minister of foreign affairs said. Now this prediction turned into reality.

Well, what else is new? Americans never leave voluntarily. Whenever they come, they try and stay forever. They came to Philippines in 1898, and they are still there, despite many demands to get out. They came to Cuba in 1898, and they still stay there, despite many promises to leave blood-soaked Guantanamo. In 1945, they occupied Germany and Japan, and they are still there, only their puppets change. They came to South Korea, and they still stay there. They conquered Afghanistan in 2001, and they are still there.

Among many colonial powers, the US is the exceptional one by its stubborn stickiness. It is easier to get rid of a chewing gum that got stuck to your sole than the American presence.

It is difficult, but not impossible. The Vietnamese did it. It took them many years, five million of their own dead, fifty thousand dead American soldiers, ruination of their economy, destruction of forests, cities bombed, My Lai burned and raped, but they succeeded in dispatching the Yanks home.

The Lebanese did it. Just one successful suicide driver had got through the gate of the Marines’ encampment, and killed over two hundred Marines. The US gunboats bombarded unprotected Lebanese villages in the mountains, but afterwards the Yanks sailed home.

The Somalis did it. They downed a couple of Black Hawk helicopters and in a single day-long battle killed two dozen of America’s best. Afterwards, the Americans went home.

The question is how many dead bodies will Trump need in order to understand that there is no place like home, and that American presence in Syria is unwelcome. The Israelis will be upset if the Yanks leave. From the Israeli point of view there is nothing as good as an American military presence in Syria next door. But President Trump was elected by the Americans, and he has to make the right choice, the sooner the better.

Ben Cardin Spoils For a Fight

If after reading this far, you, my American reader, have had a moment of buyer’s regret for electing Trump, here comes another story to comfort you. Ben Cardin, a leading member of the Jewish Lobby, a Senator whose previous claim to fame had been authoring a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel, now took a new bold step. He has produced a very long report accusing Putin of interfering with the world and subverting democracy. It could be read like a pre-election advertisement for the smart Russian president. Alternatively, it is a call for stepping up warfare against Russia, for isolating her and sanctioning to the hilt.

Why is this prominent Jewish leader so keen to attack Russia? Putin seems to be a good buddy of Netanyahu, and Jews are happy in Russia. But these guys are not grateful.

In a recent piece, The Russia Insider chief editor Charles Bausman claimed that Jewry is on the forefront of the anti-Russia campaign. This long (5,000 words) piece annoyed a lot of people, encouraged a lot more, while some American Jews blamed Putin for its appearance. However, it is more complicated.

While indeed there are many ferociously anti-Russian and anti-Putin American Jews (Masha Gessen, Ben Cardin), they are usually a liberal lot, man-haters and anti-Trump to the (Max) Boot.

Pro-Trump Jews do not care much about Russia one way or other. They want Trump to fight wars for Israel in the Middle East.

If you find a non-Zionist and Russia-friendly American Jew, you have found a good and rare thing, and he is probably not a member of the Congress.

Just the thought that Mr Cardin and his lot would rule the US instead of Trump (in case of Ms Clinton’s victory) should cure your regrets.

And Cardin is dumber than Trump, too. Cardin’s accusations are dumb and trivial. Russians trying to influence US public opinion? What’s wrong with that? Every opinion-holding person tries to influence others, and these influences easily cross borders. Russians influence Americans, while Americans influence Russians. The US has much, much more influence in Russia (or anywhere else on this planet) than the other way around.

The Soviet Union of old wasn’t all that influential in the West (outside the narrow left-wing milieu), but modern Russia has much less influence than the USSR did, for Russia is not all that different and it does not offer a real alternative on a large scale. Russia has its own billionaires, it has its own immigrants from the global South, the Russians gave up smoking and once surly Russian salesgirls now smile to customers. The anti-Russian hype is rather baseless.

What do the Russians do? They try to offset and counteract the vicious anti-Russian campaign carried out in the US by Cardin’s gang, granted. This is reasonable and to be expected. But do they spread ideas for Western consumption that they themselves abhor? This is what I would call “weaponising propaganda,” and that is what the US did during the Cold War I, when their VOA and Radio Liberty encouraged internecine strife and ethnic nationalism in the Ukraine or Transcaucasia while promoting antiracism at home.

The Russians do not do it. They are sincere. They promote what they like. Russians do have quite conservative views. In their interaction with the West, the Russians express these views. They are against EU, and therefore they are for Brexit and for dissolution of the EU. For Russians, the EU is too liberal, and anyway the EU does not embrace Russia (the Russians wanted to join).

Regarding the US, the Russians do support conservative, traditional factors and those anti-globalist, parochial elements that contributed to the rise of Trump. Their support of Trump is not a manipulative one, but a sincere response.

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The Russians have no political correctness. They say “Jew” as easily as you’d say “Pole” or “Cherokee”. They do not like mass migrations. They aren’t keen on Greeks and Georgians, Arabs and Armenians or indeed Tajiks, at least not in Russia, and not in big quantities, and they express this forbidden (for you) thought without hesitation. The Russians are ‘racists’, in the eyes of a New York liberal, but they easily marry and socialise across ethnic and racial borders. So when Russians express horror at the influx of dusky foreigners into Europe, they are not trying to cause trouble but speaking from their hearts. The Russians disprove of gender bending as much as your father did. They value masculine men and feminine women, and they are not ashamed of admitting that.

These are the transgressions of the Russians as discovered by Ben Cardin in his report. Why it bothers Ben Cardin and his lot to the extent of threatening far-away Russia with sanctions and war?

The Senator who had spend all his life since the age of 24 in politics, is an archetypical high-powered Jew, one of these Deep State figures who rule the US in fact, if not in name. Once, these powerful Jews had some powerful and similar-minded Gentiles to play ball with and to front for them. Not anymore. Real Americans of this kind do not exist anymore, or they can’t be relied upon.

That is why the Jewish Lobby wants to elect a black woman to the top position in the White House, whether Oprah or Michelle or even Condoleezza – it does not matter. Any one of them can be ruled by Ben Cardin and his ilk from behind the curtain, Wizard-of-Oz-style. And now the Democrats can’t find normal, regular men even for the lower rungs of power.

Ben Cardin wants to run for the Senate again; he will be opposed by Bradley (“Chelsea”) Manning, the man who leaked the State Department diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. I bless him for leaking the cables: people are entitled to know the dark secrets of the Deep State. I also sympathise with his suffering. After months of torture, he was forced to undergo castration in order to get out of jail. However, he is a patsy, not a strong-willed person suitable for a position of authority. He got himself in trouble because he could not keep his mouth shut. He had to brag about his feat, and quickly found himself locked up. While his predecessor, Deep Throat, kept his real identity secret until his last day.

The problem is, the opponents of Ben Cardin are as awful as he is. Glenn Greenwald writes in The Intercept: “Centrist Democrats Launch Smear Campaign Against Young Transgender Woman, All to Keep an Old, Straight, White Man in Power”. Every word in this sentence annoys. Manning is not a woman, for ‘woman’ is not a castrated man. (You can take the opinion of Germaine Greer, if my opinion is not good enough for you). Calling Cardin an “Old, Straight, White Man” is a clear-cut example of racism, sexism and ageism; it is ‘ad hominem’ of the worst kind, but these guys do not mind giving others a taste of the delicacy they hate.

I abhor Cardin not because he is an “Old, Straight, White Man”, for this definition would fit Lincoln and Tolstoy, but because he is a warmonger, a servant of the Lobby and an enemy of American workers.

I equally detest Greenwald, not because he is a Young Queer Coloured Jew, but because he privatised the treasure trove he got from Ed Snowden and turned it into a source of his personal enrichment, instead of sharing its contents with the people, as he was told to do by Snowden. I detest Greenwald for he turned the precious data to the spy agencies to rummage through and filter as they find fit.

But foremost of all I detest Greenwald for his support of identity politics; for his effort to make our kind of stand for freedom and against warmongers – alien and foreign to ordinary American men.

Greenwald and Cardin are two sides of the same coin. They are quite similar: not (only) by their Jewishness, but by their refusal to allow ordinary American men (who are Christian, “white” “straight” “males”, in their parlance) to decide their fate. For Greenwald and Cardin, the positions of authority should be reserved for transvestites, queers, women, persons of colour – or Jews who apparently have no gender, race or age.

We witness the same phenomenon in Israel, where the liberals use “they” as the pronoun of choice instead of sexist ‘he’ or ‘she’, acclaim a mixed-race non-binary-gender autistic person, insist on keeping illegal African immigrants, but can’t allow their Palestinian goyim elementary liberties of moving around, working or voting. It has the same explanation: the refugees, autistic persons or gender dissidents will not limit the power of those empowered now; the Palestinians would. Do not take your eyes off the ball, remember that all this delicate pussyfooting is about power.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam

This article was first published at The Unz Review.

Decision on Interim Facility for US Embassy in Jerusalem Not Taken Yet – DoS

Meanwhile, the US Department of State outlined Washington’s plans concerning the embassy’s move to Jerusalem on January 19: the decision on an interim facility to move the country’s embassy to Jerusalem has not been yet taken, which echoes Rex Tillerson’s explanations in mid-December that the embassy was likely to be relocated no earlier than 2020, or possibly even later.

READ MORE: Decision on Interim Facility for US Embassy in Jerusalem Not Taken Yet — DoS

Saving Europe – comments on UNZ

End of civilizations display very specific characteristics: moronic relativism, hedonism, absurdity, inability to understand that some rules of the game – or constraints – cannot be changed, and, of course, no children. Looking at Western Europe that behaviour is dominant, so what’s there to save?

What is there to save?

A civilization. The greatest civilization the world has yet seen.

How to save it?

1) Stop talking and acting like a wimp.

2) Boot the globalist treasonite leadership.

3) Boot the “refugees” and criminal immigrants, incentivize repatriation of legal and law-abiding immigrants, with large cash grants, certain rights, e.g., to Euro passports but without residency rights.

4) Reimpose the traditional values through education, law reform, and legal restrictions on recruitment by non-Christian religious groups.

5) Criminalize sex “education”.

6) Outlaw abortion.

7) Restore meritocracy in education, slash university entrance to 10% or less of school graduates, terminate the PC indoctrination courses in the university, restore academic freedom in the university, slash academic salaries, eliminate corporate control of academic research.

8) Restore freedom of speach:

Break up the media monopolies. Institute a one person/company one media outlet policy.

. . .

Yes, but how do you even get close to implementing such a programme? . . . it looks like most Western Europeans still don’t get the gravity of the situation and are unwilling to do anything about it. Even voting for a patriotic party in the secrecy of a voting booth is apparently too much for them.

Comments on UNZ

. . . In this discussion as well as in countless others the common thread is a tone of anti-Americanism. This is an unfortunate turn of events but is self-inflicted. At the end of the last war America had a lot of political capital, people looked to it as an example, the economy was providing a good life to many people and slogans of freedom and democracy fell on receptive ears everywhere. This has been squandered by the greed and shortsightedness of the ‘elites’, such as they are, as the US has become more openly predatory as it’s capabilities to do so have grown. I don’t even know if the US can continue to be considered to be ‘west’ as it seems to have morphed into some mongrelized hybrid offshoot. There’s no real culture you know, just some commercial junk-mind-rot. Let me point out that most of the anti-American comments here and elsewhere come from Americans themselves, can you believe it?

. . .

It is heading towards a confrontation.

It depends what type of “confrontation”. If we are talking military one – Europe and US have no chance. If it is a cultural clash, what can I say – sad, but then again, is current Europe even worth fighting for? Is it even Europe anymore? That is the main question. As long as Europe buys Russia’s affordable energy and washing machines, among many other things, it is fine with Russians. After 2019 it might not be that crucial altogether. Putin effectively staked Russia as Europe in his speech at Valdai. So, in some cynical sense, it is Europe’s problems not Russia’s. In fact, the number of people in Russia demanding new Iron Curtain is growing. Russia is certainly not intent to “attack” Europe (what for) and she is entirely capable now to defeat any attempt on herself. We’ll see how it plays out in Ukraine and then we will have a larger “data set” to play with.

. . .

Most Western media is in a full yellow journalism mode yelling for a war (‘but not really’, right?). At some point perceptions become reality. It is hard to walk back crazy talk in a crisis. What politician would take a chance?

Culturally, I more or less agree with you. The West has shot itself in the foot. Out of either hubris or desperation, the West has gradually politicised every institution; from Hollywood to the Olympics, from travel advisories to media campaigns and ‘truth agencies’. (By the way, how does a ‘truth agency’ as setup by EU or Nato differ from a simple censorship? Has there ever been a censor who didn’t claim that they were doing it to ‘suppress lies or heresies’?)

. . .

Even cynicism has to have a rational goal. If Western Europe becomes a harder working, colder version of the Third World, it is not good for either Central Europe or Russia. Central Europe due to its size and proximity would eventually follow the West. An isolated Russia is a vulnerable Russia. As many have pointed out, during times of isolation something in the Russian psyche kicks in and starts the mad yearning for the ‘West’, to be like ‘Paris’, to sell it all for a nice smile. It could happen again. And the fact that by then Paris might as well be an Oudagoudou with Metro (decrepit anyway), will not stop the Russian yearning – it is in the soul.

We would all be better off if rationality would prevail and people would go back to mature behaviour and some sense of normalcy. On all sides.

. . .

I think a lesson from history is that it is a self-defeating madness to ‘conquer’ and occupy any Zoo run by recently arrived simians, or a poor shit-hole of any kind. It is stupid. Expanding into a gutter, makes your country into a gutter, your own it.

Reconquista had inquisition and slightly more permissive ‘population’ policies. That is not available today. If Western Europe goes down over the next 25-50 years into Third World squalor, nobody will come to save them. My concern is that before they slide down the garbage shoot into the Third-World multicultural nirvana they will manage to spread it into Central-Eastern Europe. They are certainly trying. And if that happens it is only a question of time before an isolated Russia – with its own internal issues – follows the pattern.

. . .

Britain engineered WWI because of the Berlin Basra railway.
Edward Mead Earle, Ph.D., ‘Turkey, The Great Powers and The Bagdad Railway, A study in Imperialism’, 1923, 1924, New York
The line was to go through Mosul, with a German concession of ten miles at both sides, through the richest then known oilfields.
Lawrence (of Arabia), archeologist, spied on the progress.
The connection to Basra was also feared, the British might lose their monopoly on exporting goods to India, smuggling from Basra to India could not be prevented.
When I visited Aleppo in 1986 the railway station still existed, until the Syrian war tourist trains travelled from Istanbul to Aleppo, or Damascus, forgot which.
In the thirties the British again feared Germany because of economic expansion to the south east:
Lawrence R. Pratt, ‘East of Malta, West of Suez’, London, 1975

The Euro Disaster: Failed Monetary Unions, Past & Present

Via GEFIRA,

A glance at history

The beginnings of monetary union can be traced back to attempts to unify the coin standard. Emperor Augustus successfully unified the coins in the Roman Empire – for over 400 years the gold coins were minted almost exclusively with the seal of the Roman Emperor.

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The fall of the Roman Empire, caused among other things by its multiculturalism and multinationality, led to the disintegration of the state and to the deterioration of the coin value through a lower proportion of gold or silver.

Until the 19th century, the fragmentation of the right to mint coins to the regional rulers led to the fact that the profit resulting from the creation of money from the difference between metal value and production costs and the value of the coins issued was no longer allocated only to a feudal ruler. In the 19th century, completely new methods of creating money emerged for the ruling classes – paper standards were gradually introduced. The paper standard should no longer be based on gold or silver parity, but should be secured by appropriate policy of the central bank, especially by influencing interest rates.

In the 19th century, monetary unions were developed, on which the idea of the euro was based. All failed.

In 1865, the Latin Monetary Union unified the currencies of France, Italy, Belgium, Greece and Switzerland. A French franc corresponded to an Italian lira, which corresponded to a Belgian franc, etc. Greece and Italy were then as now debtor countries. The Union’s objectives were similar to those of the euro zone today: to simplify trade and make countries more competitive on world markets. Although the value of the coins in the Latin Union was based on a fixed gold or silver standard, paper money were not based on the precious metal parity, so that the member states’ central banks were able to print as much as they wanted. Coins minted in accordance with regulations were allowed to circulate freely throughout the Union. Since the relatively stable ratio of silver to gold gradually changed in the nineteenth century to the disadvantage of silver, silver coins flowed in from the south to settle the debts of the southern European states. The obligation to redeem the silver coins in gold at the official parity led to considerable losses in the “North”.

In 1893 Greece became insolvent and, just as it is today, a two-speed Europe emerged of the prosperous states in the north and the debtor states in the south. The French and Belgians financed Greeks and Italians because they were afraid that otherwise all coins would have to be withdrawn from circulation. As it is today, a non-working Union existed until the First World War. What must happen to make us put an end to the madness of the euro?

The same happened with the Scandinavian Coin Union of 1872: the different pace of economic development in Denmark, Sweden and Norway led to the flow of gold to Sweden. The Union also ended with the outbreak of the First World War when the obligation to convert the money into gold was lifted.

A glance at the present

The cost of saving the banks during the last financial crisis was borne by the citizens. Later, politicians led by Merkel saved Greece hand in hand with international bankers. Also at the expense of citizens of other EU countries. What was the point? Despite the Troika measures, Greece is actually bankrupt. Its debts are now higher than they were before the “debt reduction”imposed by the Troika, because the country does not have its own currency, which it could devalue and thus cope with its debts.

euro_en.jpgThe huge sums of money pumped to Greece did not create any new jobs, no consumption and therefore no new tax revenue.

The ECB decides on interest rates in the euro area and they have remained low for years. In Germany, low interest rates led to a revival of the real estate market, some people are already talking about a real estate bubble, prices of apartments and houses are rising, while savings – whether on bank accounts or in the form of investments – are falling, as they earn a de facto negative interest due to the rising inflation. A gloomy future for future pensioners, if such interest rates persist for longer. Whether the introduction of the euro was favourable for German citizens remains therefore questionable. It stimulated the German economy, that’s right.

However, the introduction of the euro also made southern European economies less competitive.

“With its introduction, the Southern Europeans have recognised the increase in their purchasing power, which could take place due to the fact that the euro is worth more than their national currency; the perception of a better purchasing power created by the euro has led the Southern Europeans to increase imports, but also to raise the prices of their goods (…) The economies of France and Italy were both net exporters before the introduction of the euro and became net importers, whereas Spain, Portugal and Greece have increased the size of their trade deficits”.

Slovakia was the only country in the Visegrád Group to introduce the euro. The consequences?

Eight years after the introduction of the euro, food prices in Slovakia are ten percent higher than in Czechia or Hungary. Compared to Poland, they are even one-third higher. Although wages in Slovakia would have come closer to the Czech average by 2014, they are now far from each other again.

The purchasing power of the Slovaks, due to their lower wages and higher prices, is significantly lower than that of the Czechs”.

In summary, we have a monetary union without a common fiscal, tax, social and defence policy that has failed and continues to fail: Greece’s bankruptcy, Brexit, Catalonia, high unemployment in Italy, Spain and Slovakia, to name but a few disasters.

Neither does political union exist; it is an idée fixe, a mirage of sick minds of Brussels bureaucrats who do not learn from the history of monetary union and ignore facts.