Rasmussen: Ball in Ukraine’s court over NATO after election

Adrian Croft reports for Reuters:

‘NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday that Ukraine’s political leaders expect a new parliament to abandon the country’s non-aligned status after an election next month in a possible prelude to an application to join NATO. Ukraine said on Friday it would seek the protection of NATO membership after what Kiev and its Western allies say is the open participation of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine’s eastern provinces.

Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, who was toppled in a revolution this year, had pursued non-aligned status since he took power 2010 – a route taken by many developing countries not wishing to be linked with NATO or any major power bloc. If Ukraine scrapped its non-alliance status after the Oct. 26 vote, NATO would discuss with Kiev “how to move forward”, Rasmussen said, but he said it was too early to say how long it might take for Ukraine to join the U.S.-led alliance.’

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Boys & Their Toys: NATO military flights surprise over Cardiff and Newport

Gavin Thomas reports for BBC News:

Osprey MV-22 aircraft ‘A series of training flights by military helicopters and other aircraft ahead of the NATO summit startled residents in Newport and Cardiff on Monday. The elite US Marine Corps HMX-1 squadron, which provides air support to US Presidents, thundered over the cities, along with RAF Military helicopters and police air support.

Perhaps the most dramatic sight were the Osprey MV-22 aircraft, which can land and take off like a helicopter but then tilt their rotors to become conventional planes. The Ospreys, which visited both the Celtic Manor summit venue and Cardiff city centre, were accompanied by Sikorsky VH-60N helicopters, a VIP version of the US Blackhawk.’

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NATO to create high-readiness force to counter Russian threat

Ewen MacAskill reports for The Guardian:

Nato is to create a 4,000-strong “spearhead” high-readiness force that can be deployed rapidly in eastern Europe and the Baltic states to help protect member nations against potential Russian aggression, according to Nato officials. Leaders from the 28 Nato countries are expected to approve the plan at the alliance’s summit in Wales when the Ukraine crisis tops the agenda on Friday.

The Nato secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the force, drawn on rotational basis from Nato allies, could be in action at “very, very short notice”. Rasmussen described it as a mixture of regular troops and special forces that could “travel light but strike hard”. It would be supported by air and naval forces as needed.’

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John J. Mearsheimer: Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault

John J. Mearsheimer provides a realist perspective of the situation in Ukraine in the latest issue of the Council on Foreign Relations’ bi-monthly magazine, Foreign Affairs:

‘According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president — which he rightly labeled a “coup” — was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Putin’s pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics. They tend to believe that the logic of realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis of such liberal principles as the rule of law, economic interdependence, and democracy.

But this grand scheme went awry in Ukraine. The crisis there shows that realpolitik remains relevant — and states that ignore it do so at their own peril. U.S. and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy.’

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VIPS: Germany’s Merkel Needs To Ask Tough Questions at NATO Summit

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) recently published a memorandum for the attention of Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, on the subject of Ukraine ahead of the NATO Summit this week:

‘We the undersigned are longtime veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5.

You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicions of charges made by the US State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.’

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The US government can brand you a terrorist based on a Facebook post

Arjun Sethi writes for The Guardian:

facebook surveillance illustration‘The US government’s web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. Now we know just how opaque, inefficient and discriminatory it can be. As we were reminded again just this week, you can be pulled into the National Security Agency’s database quietly and quickly, and the consequences can be long and enduring. Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information.

This kind of data sharing, however, isn’t limited to the latest from Edward Snowden’s NSA files. It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors.

The watchlist tracks “known” and “suspected” terrorists and includes both foreigners and Americans. It’s also based on loose standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the US government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information – including a Facebook or Twitter post – to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist.’

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The Next-Generation Copyright Monopoly Wars Will Be Much Worse

Rick Falkvinge writes for TorrentFreak:

‘We’ve been manufacturing our own copies of knowledge and culture without a license for quite some time now, a practice known first as mixtaping and then as file-sharing.

[...] We’re now somewhere in the 1980s-equivalent of the next generation of copyright monopoly wars, which is about to spread to physical objects. The copyright industry is bad – downright atrociously cynically evil, sometimes – but nobody in the legislature gives them much thought. Wait until this conflict spreads outside the copyright industry, spreads to pretty much every manufacturing industry.’

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A Two-Faced Friendship: Turkey Is ‘Partner and Target’ for the NSA

Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Michael Sontheimer and Holger Stark report for SPEIGEL and The Intercept:

‘[...] Documents from the archive of US whistleblower Edward Snowden that SPIEGEL and The Intercept have seen show just how deeply involved America has become in Turkey’s fight against the Kurds. For a time, the NSA even delivered its Turkish partners with the mobile phone location data of PKK leaders on an hourly basis. The US government also provided the Turks with information about PKK money flows and the whereabouts of some of its leaders living in exile abroad.

At the same time, the Snowden documents also show that Turkey is one of the United States’ leading targets for spying. Documents show that the political leadership in Washington, DC, has tasked the NSA with divining Turkey’s “leadership intention,” as well as monitoring its operations in 18 other key areas. This means that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, which drew criticism in recent weeks after it was revealed it had been spying on Turkey, isn’t the only secret service interested in keeping tabs on the government in Ankara.’

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Even Without Victims of Current War, Iraq has More than 3 Million Disabled

Adel Fakhir reports for Rudaw:

An Iraqi girl laughs as a doctor checks her pulse during a medical check-up at Al-Hanan Home for Severely Handicapped Children in Baghdad. AFP‘Even without counting victims from the ongoing war, up to three million people across Iraq suffer from physical disabilities, coping with life without any special facilities as laws to help them fail to be implemented. War and some of its consequences – including terrorism and traffic accidents – are the main reasons for so many Iraqis being physically handicapped, doctors say.

“Addressing people with special needs is not a about an individual or rare case,” said Dr. Bassem Sharif al-Hudjaimi. “It’s about the rights of 10-12 percent of the Iraqi nation. That is more than three million Iraqis in all parts of Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region,” he told Rudaw.  “They all suffer from injuries, disability due to wars or terrorism, and the absence of a real health watchdog,” said Hudjaimi,  a member the outgoing parliament’s health and environment committee. Many doctors who treat special needs patients feel the government has a responsibility to provide special attention to these people, who after all are victims of war and policies.’

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US trained Alaskans as secret ‘stay-behind agents’ during early Cold War period

Robert Burns reports for The Associated Press:

‘Fearing a Russian invasion and occupation of Alaska, the U.S. government in the early Cold War years recruited and trained fishermen, bush pilots, trappers and other private citizens across Alaska for a covert network to feed wartime intelligence to the military, newly declassified Air Force and FBI documents show.

[...] The secret plan was to have citizen-agents in key locations in Alaska ready to hide from the invaders of what was then only a U.S. territory. The citizen-agents would find their way to survival caches of food, cold-weather gear, message-coding material and radios. In hiding they would transmit word of enemy movements.’

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In Bosnia’s schools, three different people learn three different histories

Kristen Chick reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

‘Two decades after Bosnia’s brutal civil war ended, reconciliation is still a dream, one the education system is pushing further away from reality. Bosnia Serbs, Bosniak Muslims and Croats typically study in schools with curricula tailored to their ethnic biases. World War II is hardly the only period that receives wildly different treatments depending on the school.

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Ukraine war pulls in foreign fighters

Patrick Jackson reports for BBC News:

Spanish volunteer Rafa Munoz Perez practising with a rifle in Donetsk, 7 August ‘French, Spanish, Swedish or Serb, the foreigners fighting for both sides in east Ukraine’s bloody conflict hail from across Europe and come with a bewildering array of agendas. The non-mercenaries among them are motivated by causes which can stretch back to the wars in the former Yugoslavia – and even further still, to the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.

Russia is the elephant in the room, dwarfing any other foreign nationality, although it is increasingly hard to disentangle Russians fighting as volunteers from regular soldiers allegedly deployed on covert missions. Ukraine’s pro-Russian rebels like to talk up their foreign volunteer fighters, presenting them as latter-day International Brigades fighting “fascism”. Meanwhile there has been some debate in Kiev on the wisdom of creating a Ukrainian “Foreign Legion”.

Here we look at some of the foreign fighters by country of origin, in a phenomenon which, in a small way, mirrors that of young Muslims from Britain and other parts of Europe travelling to the Middle East to fight in its wars.’

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Banning Russian-made AK-47s sets off a U.S. buying frenzy

Michael S. Rosenwald reports for The Washington Post:

‘The AK-47 buying frenzy presents yet another example of a paradoxical consequence of trying to limit gun sales: booming demand. During the debate over the measure commonly called the ­Brady Bill in the 1990s, gun purchases skyrocketed. When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, sales soared again. When President Obama tried to pass sweeping gun control laws after the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting, some dealers even sold out of ammunition.

[...] For gun dealers, the threat of increased regulations is frequently seen as a form of economic stimulus. Some display and sell posters declaring Obama the gun salesman of the year — or century. But the surge in sales troubles advocates of gun control, who fear some buyers will flip their purchases in private sales at gun shows or through online auction sites, where background checks aren’t required.’

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Saudi Arabia remains on U.N. Human Rights Council despite 19 beheadings, including one for “sorcery”

All Gov reports:

‘Ask any human rights organization where they stand on chopping off people’s heads and they’ll probably say such actions constitute a violation of human rights.

And yet, one nation that does a lot of beheadings is on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Lately, in fact, Saudi Arabia can’t seem to get enough beheadings. Its government has executed at least 19 people using this method since August 4, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Of the 19, eight were found guilty of non-violent offenses; seven for drug smuggling and one for committing sorcery.’

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Nail In The Petrodollar Coffin: Gazprom Begins Accepting Payment For Oil In Ruble, Yuan

Zero Hedge reports:

‘Several months ago, when Russia announced the much anticipated “Holy Grail” energy deal with China, some were disappointed that despite this symbolic agreement meant to break the petrodollar’s stranglehold on the rest of the world, neither Russia nor China announced payment terms to be in anything but dollars. In doing so they admitted that while both nations are eager to move away from a US Dollar reserve currency, neither is yet able to provide an alternative.

This changed in late June when first Gazprom’s CFO announced the gas giant was ready to settle China contracts in Yuan or Rubles, and at the same time the People’s Bank of China announced that its Assistant Governor Jin Qi and Russian central bank Deputy Chairman Dmitry Skobelkin held a meeting in which they discussed cooperating on project and trade financing using local currencies. The meeting discussed cooperation in bank card, insurance and financial supervision sectors.

And yet, while both sides declared their operational readiness and eagerness to bypass the dollar entirely, such plans remained purely in the arena of monetary foreplay and the long awaited first shot across the Petrodollar bow was absent. Until now.’

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Russia and economic warfare: RIP the free market new world order

Larry Elliott writes for The Guardian:

Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989‘[...] Although Putin has no alternative ideology to offer, times have changed. This is now a messier, less clearly defined, multipolar world. It is not just that the pre-eminence of the dollar has been challenged by Russia’s announcement that roubles and yuan will be used in the oil deal it has brokered with China. It is not just that we are back to spheres of influence. It is not even that governments have become more interventionist and protectionist. It is that after the convulsions of the past seven years, it is hard to imagine a US president or indeed any western leader saying: “We know what works, the free market works.”

So RIP new world order. Born Berlin 1989. Died with Lehman Brothers September 2008. Laid to rest eastern Ukraine August 2014.’

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David Cameron wants FIFA to strip Russia of 2018 World Cup in political sanction move

Nik Simon reports for The Daily Mail:

London calling: Prime Minister David Cameron greets FIFA President Sepp Blatter outside 10 Downing Street in 2010, as part of England's bid for the 2018 World Cup‘David Cameron will push for Russia to be stripped of its right to host the 2018 World Cup as part of a sanctions threat against Vladmir Putin’s deployment of troops in Ukraine.

Alongside various officials from across the EU, the British Prime Minister is working on a list of symbolic policies to isolate the Russian President until he draws an end to the conflict.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine between the military and Russian-backed separatists has left almost 2,600 people dead, according to UN figures, and Cameron is ready to put the case forwards to FIFA.’

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£50 million spent on a massive fence to protect politicians ahead of NATO Summit

Michael Krieger writes for Liberty Blitzkrieg:

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.35.16 AM‘Most of us woke up this morning to news that the UK had raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe.” Considering the competence and trustworthiness of the nation’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, there must be some specific threat they’re concerned about to justify instilling fear in a population of 65 million. Nope.

Although the new threat level rates the risk of an attack on the UK to “highly likely,” Home Secretary Theresa May stated that “there was no evidence to suggest one was imminent.” Well then.

It makes you wonder if the the change in threat level is being used in part to justify the extraordinary $80 million [£50 million] sum spent on building a fortress around the Newport and Cardiff city centers in Wales, which many are describing as “similar to the Berlin Wall,” or a “zoo,” in an unprecedented display of protection for many of the world’s most corrupt politicians.’

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Newly declassified documents show how US agreed to Israel’s nuclear program

World Bulletin reports:

Files show how US agreed to Israel's nuclear program‘Declassified documents from 45 years ago have revealed how cabinet secretaries and senior advisers to the then US president Richard Nixon withdrew from a plan to block Israeli nuclearization ahead of a meeting with then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir at the White House in September 1969.

The files, that were made public by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), not only shows how American delegates agreed to Israel’s refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but also how they came to terms with allowing Israel to refuse an American inspection of the Dimona nuclear facility and a deal which would have seen the delivery of strategic ground-to-ground Jericho missiles to Israel in exchange for their signing of the treaty.

Although the details of Nixon’s meeting with Meir remain classified, the declassified files state that officials had on the eve of the talks advised Nixon to show restraint with regard to the Israeli nuclear program, and to abandon efforts to get Israel to cease acquiring 500-kilometer-range missiles with one-ton warheads developed in the Marcel Dassault factory in France, if it could reach an agreement with Israel on these points, the daily Haaretz reported.’

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U.S. army sees ‘megacities’ as the future battlefield

Paul McLeary reports for The Army Times:

‘When the Army looks to the future, it sees cities. Dense, sprawling, congested cities where criminal and extremist groups flourish almost undetected by authorities, but who can influence the lives of the population while undermining the authority of the state.

And the service is convinced that these “megacities” of 20 million or more people will be the battleground of the future.

The problem from a military strategists’ point of view, however, is that no army has ever fought it out in a city of this size. So in thinking through the issue of what to do about the coming age of the megacity, the Army’s Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) got together with US Army Special Operations Command, the chief of staff’s Strategic Studies Group and the UK’s Ministry of Defence in February to explore these types of urban operations.’

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The best and worst countries for journalists

Both images are taken from ‘These maps show the best and worst countries for journalists‘ over at Global Post:

Pro wrestlers make unlikely peace trip to North Korea

Anna Fifield reports for The Washington Post:

‘The violent spectacle — complete with flashing lights and heavy metal music — was part of the Pyongyang International Pro Wrestling Games, a weekend of martial-arts-related events organized by Antonio Inoki, the Japanese wrestler-turned-politician who promotes “peace through sports.”

Famous in the United States for his 1976 fight against Muhammad Ali, Inoki is on a personal mission to help improve ties between the communist state and its former colonial master, and especially to help resolve decades-old abduction cases.

The three Americans are among the 20-odd wrestlers participating in his two-day event here, in which sport is used to provide contact that politics does not currently allow.’

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What dispute? India and China ignore land squabble (for now)

Tim Sullivan reports for the Associated Press:

‘For more than 50 years, it has pitted India against China — a smoldering dispute over who should control a swath of land larger than Austria. Two militaries have skirmished. A brief, bloody war has been fought. And today, thousands of soldiers from both countries sit deployed along their shared frontier, doing little but watching each other.

But as Beijing confronts countries across the South China and East China seas, displaying its diplomatic and strategic strength in a series of increasingly dangerous territorial disputes, the India-China standoff results in almost nothing beyond regular diplomatic talks and professions of international friendship.

Because the last thing the world’s two most populous countries want right now is war with each other. Not when things are going so well. “The territorial issues and the sovereignty issues have not gone away,” said Sujit Dutta, a China scholar at New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University. “But the Chinese are not pushing further (into the disputed regions) and neither are the Indians.”

“Today, India and China have a new context for their relationship,” he said. That context comes down to two key components: An understanding that the disputed land has lost its strategic luster. And money.’

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India says Pakistan border clashes ‘extremely serious and provocative’

Reuters reports:

‘Clashes along India’s border with Pakistan are “extremely serious and provocative” and not conducive to improving relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

The comments came nearly two weeks after New Delhi called off top level diplomatic talks, protesting against Pakistan’s meetings with separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir.

Exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir have intensified in recent weeks, claiming lives of several people, including soldiers.’

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Lesotho’s Deputy Premier Takes Reins After PM Flees ‘Coup’

Voice of America reports:

FILE - Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane attends a European Union-Africa summit in Brussels, April 2, 2014. ‘Lesotho’s Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing is now running the government after the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled the country accusing the army of staging a coup, a minister said on Sunday.

Gunfire rang out in the capital, Maseru, on Saturday, according to witnesses, who said soldiers patrolled the streets, occupied government buildings and surrounded Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s official residence.

Thabane left with his family for neighboring South Africa after receiving intelligence that he was the target of a military assassination attempt. He said the military action amounts to a coup.’

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It’s socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us in Britain

Owen Jones writes for The Guardian:

UK Fears Triple-dip Recession.‘Socialism lives in Britain, but only for the rich: the rules of capitalism are for the rest of us. The ideology of the modern establishment, of course, abhors the state. The state is framed as an obstacle to innovation, a destroyer of initiative, a block that needs to be chipped away to allow free enterprise to flourish. “I think that smaller-scale governments, more freedom for business to exist and to operate – that is the right kind of direction for me,” says Simon Walker, the head of the Institute of Directors. For him, the state should be stripped to a “residual government functioning of maintaining law and order, enforcing contracts”. Mainstream politicians don’t generally talk in such stark terms, but when the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg demands “a liberal alternative to the discredited politics of big government”, the echo is evident.

And yet, when the financial system went into meltdown in 2008, it was not expected to stand on its own two feet, or to pull itself up by its bootstraps. Instead, it was saved by the state, becoming Britain’s most lavished benefit claimant. More than £1tn of public money was poured into the banks following the financial collapse. The emergency package came with few government-imposed conditions and with little calling to account. The urge to punish all bankers has gone far enough,” declared a piece in the Financial Times just six months after the crisis began. But if there was ever such an “urge” on the part of government, it was never acted on. In 2012, 2,714 British bankers were paid more than €1m – 12 times as many as any other EU country. When the EU unveiled proposals in 2012 to limit bonuses to either one or two years’ salary with the say-so of shareholders, there was fury in the City. Luckily, their friends in high office were there to rescue their bonuses: at the British taxpayers’ expense, the Treasury took to the European Court to challenge the proposals. The entire British government demonstrated, not for the first time, that it was one giant lobbying operation for the City of London. Between 2011 and 2013, bank lending fell in more than 80% of Britain’s 120 postcode areas, helping to stifle economic recovery. Banks may have been enjoying state aid on an unprecedented scale, but their bad behaviour just got worse – and yet they suffered no retribution.

Contrast this with the fate of the unemployed, including those thrown out of work as a result of the actions of bailed-out bankers. In the austerity programme that followed the financial crisis, state support for those at the bottom of society has been eroded. The support that remains is given withstringent conditions attached. “Benefit sanctions” are temporary suspensions of benefits, often for the most spurious or arbitrary reasons. According to the government’s figures, 860,000 benefit claimants were sanctioned between June 2012 and June 2013, a jump of 360,000 from a year earlier. According to the Trussell Trust, the biggest single provider of food banks, more than half of recipients were dependent on handouts owing to cuts or sanctions to their benefits.’

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George Carlin in 1988 on the Reagan administration, Republicans and the religious right

Former British Foreign Secretary: Putin is key to avoiding a new cold war

Lord (David) Owen, British foreign secretary under Labour from 1977-79, writes for The Guardian:

‘[...] There are four essential issues that have to be addressed, and probably not all of them can be resolved in one meeting. First and foremost, a devolved government for eastern Ukraine. Next, a full endorsement of all international agreements on air travel relating to Ukraine, Crimea and Russia. Then, linked to this, an agreement on all the issues surrounding the gas pipelines passing through Ukraine. Finally, though it may be too early for this, resolution of the international status of Crimea, perhaps along the lines of an indefinite international lease of Crimea to Russia along the lines of the US-Cuba agreement over Guantánamo.

It may, on the face of it, appear impossible to agree such a package, but there are signs it is becoming clear to all three presidents that it is in the interests of their countries to make a far-reaching settlement. Some crises can be resolved by incremental measures, but others require an all-embracing settlement based on big trade-offs. If there is no agreement, there is a danger of, at the very least, going back to the cold war. But there is a deeper danger that a shooting war breaks out between Ukraine and Russia.’

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Gorbachev: Internal Ukrainian conflict can’t be turned into inter-state one

Interfax reports:

‘Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev believes Russia has not intervened in the events in southeastern Ukraine and is right in doing so. “If our country intervenes, there could be a fire that the whole world would be unable to put out. And it’s right that the politicians are holding to their position,” Gorbachev said on Rossiyskaya Sluzhba Novostei (Russian News Service) on Saturday.

“Our proposal was to open passages and let people get out of all those entrapments. But no, someone is sitting in warm offices and intellectualizing. And at the same time – look what is happening to the people, to children and women. Maternity homes and schools are being shelled, hospitals are being destroyed. Two thousand people have been killed even according to official reports, and how many have been injured?” Gorbachev said.

He insisted that everything possible should be done to de-escalate the conflict. “Everything should be done so that the people stop killing each other. After all, this is one people. If states get involved, the scope grows, and everyone meddles there, we might see a horrible slaughter in Europe. But this can’t be allowed,” he said.’

SOURCE

Pepe Escobar: From Minsk to Wales, Germany is the key

Pepe Escobar writes for RT:

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (L), Russia's President Vladimir Putin (top centre R) and Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (3rd R from Putin) meet with high-ranking officials and presidents from Kazakhstan and the European Union in Minsk, August 26, 2014.(Reuters / Alexei Druzhinin)‘The road to the Minsk summit this past Tuesday began to be paved when German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked to ARD public TV after her brief visit to Kiev on Saturday. Merkel emphasized, “A solution must be found to the Ukraine crisis that does not hurt Russia.” She added that “There must be dialogue. There can only be a political solution. There won’t be a military solution to this conflict.”

Merkel talked about “decentralization” of Ukraine, a definitive deal on gas prices, Ukraine-Russia trade, and even hinted Ukraine is free to join the Russia-promoted Eurasian Union (the EU would never make a “huge conflict” out of it). Exit sanctions; enter sound proposals. She could not have been more explicit; “We [Germany] want to have good trade relations with Russia as well. We want reasonable relations with Russia. We are depending on one another and there are so many other conflicts in the world where we should work together, so I hope we can make progress”.

The short translation for all this is there won’t be a Nulandistan (after neo-con Victoria ‘F**k the EU’Nuland), remote-controlled by Washington, and fully financed by the EU. In the real world, what Germany says, the EU follows. Geopolitically, this also means a huge setback for Washington’s obsessive containment and encirclement of Russia, proceeding in parallel to the ‘pivot to Asia’ (containment and encirclement of China).’

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