Category Archives: Russia

Russia 2018: Major challenges for next World Cup hosts

Rafael Saakov writes for BBC News:

‘After what was largely considered to be a successful World Cup in Brazil, international attention now turns to the next hosts, Russia. Whether current political tensions between Russia and the West will have any bearing on the staging of the tournament remains to be seen.

What does seem assured is that the 2018 World Cup is set to top Brazil 2014 as the most expensive in history, with Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying the budget for the tournament could total $40bn, having earlier estimated it at $19bn. The estimated cost of the stadiums alone in Brazil, in comparison, was in the region of $4bn.

Critics in Russia point to the fact that the minimum capacity for World Cup venues is 45,000, while the average attendance for the Russian Premier League is 11,500. “Stadiums have a function, but they must not just lie empty,” says Nikolay Levshits, a Moscow-based campaigner and activist.’

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Sanctions against Russia spark AK-47 buying frenzy in US

RT reports:

Cindy Sparr boxes up an AK-47 style rifle after selling it at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson)‘Russian-made firearms are reportedly flying off the shelves of American gun stores after the United States Treasury Department announced sanctions last week against the maker of the popular AK-47 rifle.

Kalashnikov Concern, the company responsible for the eponymous gas-operated 7.62 caliber assault rifle known largely around the world as the AK-47, is among the latest Russian-owned entities to be blacklisted by the US government following last Wednesday’s announcement that several Russian banks, energy firms and weapons makers were being targeted by new sanctions.’

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Gaspipe Diplomacy: How Ukraine Set Off a New U.S.-Russian Energy Fight

Sylvia Todorova writes for WhoWhatWhy:

South Stream pipeline’s planned route through the heart of Europe‘Now that all eyes are on Ukraine and the potential of a bigger war looms, there’s never been a more important time to understand what is at stake. The real reasons surrounding a conflict are often buried under the headlines and rhetoric. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that, behind the scenes, oil and natural gas are driving a big piece of the U.S. response to Russian involvement in Ukraine. If you want to understand where the rubber meets the geopolitical road in the Ukraine war, you need to learn about the 1,480-mile South Stream natural gas pipeline.

The pipeline is core to the larger battle being fought over Europe between Moscow and Washington. It may even have been a motivation behind Russia’s annexation of Crimea. And if there’s a crack in the unified front between the U.S. and Europe over Russia’s role in Ukraine, South Stream is it. Why does South Stream matter? It’s a $21.6 billion project to connect Russia’s gas reserves—the world’s largest—to Europe’s markets.  Europe relies on Russia for about 30 percent of its natural gas. Any delays in finishing the pipeline—scheduled for completion in 2018—can only help Russia’s competitors in the international energy business.  And one player gearing up to challenge Russia in the European energy market is the United States.

This year, the United States became the largest producer of natural gas and oil hydrocarbons in the world, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. There’s solid evidence that the U.S. is seeking both commercial advantage and political influence by gaining a foothold in Europe’s oil and gas markets. The evidence comes, in part, from the targets the Obama administration has chosen to punish for Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula. All of this raises the question of how much the confrontation in the Ukraine is about who gets to sell natural gas (and later oil) to one of the world’s biggest energy consumers: Europe.’

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Russia Sues McDonald’s, Questioning Quality of the Food

The New York Times reports:

‘The McDonald’s cheeseburger will have its day in court. Russia’s consumer protection agency has filed a claim accusing the restaurant chain of violating government nutritional and safety codes in a number of its burger and ice cream products, a Moscow court announced Friday.

The suit could temporarily ban the production and sale of the chain’s ice cream, milkshakes, cheeseburgers, and Filet-o-Fish and chicken sandwiches, said Yekaterina Korotova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court, where the case will be heard.

“We have identified violations which put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald’s chain in doubt,” Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer protection agency, said in statements reported by the Interfax news agency.’

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General Dempsey: We’re Pulling Out Our Cold War Military Plans Over Ukraine

Jon Queally writes for Common Dreams:

‘Hours after the U.S. State Department on Thursday claimed (though failed to describe) new evidence that Russia’s military was both increasing the flow of arms to rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine and firing artillery at Ukrainian Army positions across its border, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey elevated the  rhetoric against Russian President Vladimir Putin and directly invoked the idea that a new Cold War-like posture is now being taken by the U.S. military.

Speaking from the Aspen Security Forum, a defense industry conference in Colorado, Dempsey said Pentagon planners are now looking at military options “we haven’t had to look at for 20 years” and warned that Putin—who he characterized as escalating the crisis inside Ukraine—“may actually light a fire” he cannot control. And not just in Ukraine or eastern Europe, Dempsey said, but globally.

Drawing a dramatic historic comparison, Dempsey equated Putin’s alleged involvement in eastern Ukraine to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland in 1939: “It does change the situation. You’ve got a Russian government that has made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives. It’s the first time since 1939 or so that that’s been the case,” Dempsey said. “They clearly are on a path to assert themselves differently not just in Eastern Europe, but Europe in the main, and towards the United States.”’

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U.S. invents reports of Russia attacking Ukrainian bases

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘Apparently still laying the groundwork for their own planned military intervention, the US government has invented a narrative of massive Russian artillery strikes against Ukrainian military bases along the border. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf introduced the story to the press at today’s briefing, claiming that the US has secret evidence from “human intelligence information” that the attacks are taking place. The Pentagon concurred, saying such attacks have been going on “for several days.”

During the past several days, there has not been a single report out of Ukraine of an artillery strike against any of their military bases, anywhere in the country. The last such incident was two weeks ago, when rebels fired a BM-21 grad at a military base. And this is Ukraine we’re talking about, which comes up with its own dubious stories of Russian attacks on a near daily basis. If Russia was carrying out concerted shelling against Ukrainian military targets, Ukraine would be harping on about it constantly. They aren’t even alleging anything close to that is happening.’

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With 100,000+ displaced, why is U.S. ignoring Ukraine’s civil war? Interview with Katrina vanden Heuvel

Russia offers 3.9m roubles for ‘research to identify users of Tor’

Alec Luhn reports for The Guardian:

Russia‘s interior ministry has offered up to 3.9m roubles (£65,000) for research on identifying the users of the anonymous browsing network Tor, raising questions of online freedom amid a broader crackdown on the Russian internet.

The interior ministry’s special technology and communications group published a tender earlier this month on the government procurement website offering the sum for “research work, Tor cipher”.

Before changes to the tender were published on Friday, numerous news outlets reported that it originally sought “research work on the possibility to obtain technical information about users (user equipment) of the anonymous network Tor”.’

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Obama on the new world (dis)order

Editor’s Note: Many people, especially within the conspiracy community, get excited whenever the term ‘new world order‘ is uttered by politicians. The ‘new world order’ often spoken of by U.S. leaders over the past 25-30 years, starting with George H.W. Bush at the end of the Cold War, refers to an American led global order. In recently years there has been a challenge to this American led system through the growth of the BRICS countries which has weakened U.S. global military and financial power. It is the growth of Russia and China in particular that TTIP and TPP are designed to stifle economically. You also have the Asia Pivot (aimed at China) and American/NATO involvement in Ukraine (aimed at Russia) which come into it on the side of foreign policy. It’s all essentially one big game of chess that has been going on for many years now.

Ben White reports for Politico:

‘President Obama at a fundraiser last night outside Seattle: “People are anxious. Now, some of that has to do with some big challenges overseas. I am very proud that we have ended one war, and by the end of this year we will have ended both wars that I inherited … But whether people see what’s happening in Ukraine, and Russia’s aggression towards its neighbors in the manner in which it’s financing and arming separatists; to what’s happened in Syria … to the failure in Iraq for Sunni and Shia and Kurd to compromise … to what’s happening in Israel and Gaza” …

“Part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet to where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people. … But here in the United States, what people are also concerned about is the fact that although the economy has done well in the aggregate, for the average person it feels as if incomes, wages just haven’t gone up; that people, no matter how hard they work, they feel stuck.”’

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CNN Poll: One in 10 Americans happy to go to war with Russia over downing of MH17

CNN reports:

INSANE: 1 in 10 Americans Wants War With Russia Over Downed Airliner ‘Most Americans say Russia is directly or indirectly responsible for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine, and unfavorable opinions of Russia have surged, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey conducted Friday through Sunday also indicates that nearly nine in 10 say that Moscow and pro-Russian rebels that control the area where Flight 17 crashed last week will try to cover something up in any international investigation.

But only one in 10 say the United States should take military action if there is clear evidence that Russia is responsible for the shooting down of the plane, which killed all 298 passengers and crew.’

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General Breedlove calls for a retooling of NATO’s Response Force

Steven Beardsley reports for Stars & Stripes:

breedlove 722‘[...] The general also used the news conference, attended mostly by Italian journalists, to underline the need for changes to NATO posture during the alliance’s summit in September. Breedlove said Russian actions in Ukraine require a retooling of the NATO Response Force — a military unit combined from member nation forces stationed across Europe — as well as the creation of new headquarters focused on Article 5 military response in Europe’s north and south. Article 5 requires NATO members to support one another in case of attack. He also said that NATO needs to position resources forward on its eastern flank in response to the concerns of nations close to Ukraine.

“Pre-positioned supplies, pre-positioned capabilities and a basing area ready to rapidly accept follow-on forces,” he said. “And how we man that in a rotational or nonpermanent basis is what we’re looking at now to propose in NATO and we will be looking at that with the (North Atlantic Council).” Poland, in particular, has argued for forward supplies and permanent bases to be moved to eastern member states, a measure opposed especially by Germany, which claims a 1997 agreement between Russia and NATO prohibits such a shift. Poland argues the agreement, known as the Founding Act, is no longer valid after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in the spring. Italy, like Germany and France, has balked at harsh measures toward Russia favored by countries like Poland.’

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Time and Newsweek covers “flock to the jingoist consensus”

Hat tip to Media Lens for drawing attention to these

British government announces investigation into death of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko

Pepe Escobar: A chessboard drenched in blood

Pepe Escobar writes for the Asia Times:

‘ [...] The Big Picture spells out the Empire of Chaos elites as extremely uneasy. Take Dr Zbigniew “The Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, who as a former foreign policy mentor has the ears of the increasingly dejected White House paperboy. Dr Zbig was on CNN this Sunday challenging Europe’s leaders to “stand up to Putin”. He wonders if “Europe wants to become a satellite” and worries about “a moment of decisive significance for the future of the system – of the world system”.

And it’s all Putin’s fault, of course: “We’re not starting the Cold War. He [Putin] has started it. But he has gotten himself into a horrendous jam. I strongly suspect that a lot of people in Russia, even not far away from him who are worried that Russia’s status in the world is dramatically being undermined, that Russia’s economically beginning to fail, that Russia’s threatened by the prospect of becoming a satellite to China, that Russia’s becoming self-isolated and discredited.”

Obviously Dr Zbig is blissfully unaware of the finer points of the Russia-China strategic partnership, as well as their concerted voice inside the BRICS, the G-20 and myriad other mechanisms. His trademark Russophobia in the end always gets the better of him. And to think that in his latest book, Strategic Vision (2012), Dr Zbig was in favor of an enlarged “West” annexing Turkey and Russia, with the Empire of Chaos posing as “promoter” and “guarantor” of broader unity in the West, and a “balancer” and “conciliator” between the major powers in the East. A quick look at the record since 2012 – Libya, Syria, Ukraine, encirclement of China – reveals the Empire of Chaos only as fomenter of, what else, chaos.

Now compare a fearful Dr Zbig with Immanuel Wallerstein – who was a huge influence in my 2007 warped geopolitical travel book Globalistan. In this piece (in Spanish) Wallerstein argues that the Empire of Chaos simply can’t accept its geopolitical decadence – and that’s why it has become so dangerous. Restoring its hegemony in the world-system has become the supreme obsession; and that’s where the whole “policy” that is an essential background to the MH17 tragedy reveals Ukraine as the definitive do or die battleground.

In Europe, everything hinges on Germany. Especially after the National Security Agency scandal and its ramifications, the key debate raging in Berlin is how to position itself geopolitically bypassing the US. And the answer, as pressed by large swathes of German big business, lies in a strategic partnership with Russia.’

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US Intelligence: No direct Russian involvement, rebels likely downed MH17 by mistake

Editor’s Note: When you understand the context of what has been happening in eastern Ukraine, how Willy Wonka’s military forces from Kiev have been shelling the shit out of the area for months killing innocent people, the idea that the jet shoot down was a mistake makes much more sense than the cartoonist super villain propaganda that Putin blew it out of the sky just for kicks. I put forward the theory that it was an accident a couple of days ago on several threads in the midst of all the hysteria so many people were certain it was a deliberate act and that Russia had be be directly involved. The same idea was put forward in an article in Time that quoted Austin Long, professor of political and international affairs at Columbia.

The Associated Press reports:

‘Senior U.S. intelligence officials say they have no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. They say the passenger jet was likely felled by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and that Russia “created the conditions” for the downing by arming the separatists.

The officials briefed reporters Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used in discussing intelligence related to last week’s air disaster, which killed 298 people. They said they didn’t know if any Russians were present at the missile launch, and they wouldn’t say that the missile crew was trained in Russia. A senior official said the most likely explanation was the plane was shot down by mistake.’

Are People Who Shoot Down Passenger Planes ‘War Criminals’–or ‘Hard to Fault’?

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

‘The New York Times (7/22/14) didn’t mince words in its editorial on the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: “Whoever unleashed a lethal missile not knowing how to distinguish between a military and a civilian plane is not only irresponsible and stupid, but a war criminal.”

That seems pretty unequivocal. But if you look at the New York Times‘ archives, you’ll see that some people who unleash lethal missiles without knowing how to distinguish between military and civilian planes aren’t irresponsible, stupid or criminal–they’re just doing what they had to do. Of course, if you’re going to shoot down a civilian jetliner–from the Times‘ point of view–it helps to be working for the US Navy when you do it.’

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Hysteria over MH17 plane transitions to post-crash accusations

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar: ‘The hysterical allegations surrounding the apparent shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in eastern Ukraine continue to grow. The latest round of unproven allegations seems to be focusing on the situation at the crash site itself. Earlier this morning, NBC News presented the story “fury grows as pro-Russian rebels block access to MH17 site,” which pictures of scary-looking rebels with masks and guns. But that doesn’t seem to be true, as BBC News was reporting at virtually the same time  that “Dutch experts examine bodies,” a story focusing on how the rebels were actually letting the Dutch access the bodies. Another group of international investigators is making their way to the site as well.’ READ MORE…

Ethical Journalism Network Director Speaks to Russia Today About Ethics in Journalism

The downing of Flight MH17: A plea for objectivity

Nile Bowie writes for Kuala Lumpor, Malaysia for RT:

A piece of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)‘[...] For any international investigation to succeed, all possibilities should be scrutinized and considered, including the theory that rebels brought down the aircraft. Western media outlets have worked tirelessly to create the perception that Russia governs the conduct of rebel groups in eastern Ukraine. Any objective analysis of the conflict up until now suggests that Moscow only has influence among these groups; it does not control them. Militia groups fighting in eastern Ukraine would be damaging their own cause if they fail to cooperate with the investigators.

While the party responsible for the crime has not yet been established, the incident has proven most opportune for those figures that have been calling for stinging sanctions on Russia, and this tragedy is already being exploited to put maximum political pressure on Moscow.

Malaysia and the Netherlands, the countries that bore the brunt of this terrible incident, have chosen not to antagonize and assign blame. When asked by a report if he agreed with President Obama’s assessment that Moscow should be held responsible, Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, said, “We need verification on that.” Malaysian officials have also stated that Russia has done its level best to ensure access to the crash site.

More evidence is expected to surface in the coming days that will provide a clearer picture into the vicious killing of the 298 people onboard MH17. This incident should be an impetus for all sides to implement a negotiated ceasefire that would put an end to this horrible fratricidal conflict, but in all likelihood, this incident will only protract Ukraine’s war.’

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Pentagon still claiming Russian troops massing near Ukrainian border

Philip Ewing reports for Politico:

3453453‘[...] There are about 10,000 to 12,000 regular Russian combat troops inside their border with Ukraine, Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon briefing, an increase from a few weeks ago but a smaller force than the roughly 40,000 that were there earlier in the standoff.

Press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby also confirmed that defense officials have long observed movements of weapons and advisers from Russia to pro-Russian separatists inside Ukraine, although he said the Pentagon has not specifically seen a heavy, tracked surface-to-air missile launcher like the one believed to have shot down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.’

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MH17: Tony Blair calls for EU defence plan to stand up to Putin

Matthew Holehouse reports for The Telegraph:

‘The EU urgently needs a common defence policy in order to stand up to Russian aggression “on its doorstep”, Tony Blair said today. Europe is “powerless” without the help of the United States in the face of crises threatening the region because its militaries do not co-operate, Mr Blair said. In an apparent endorsement of David Cameron’s approach, he urged European leaders to match the wide-ranging sanctions imposed on Russian companies by the United States, saying the West needs to have a shared position.

…Mr Blair said: “There is such an urgent need today for Europe to have a strong foreign policy and indeed defence policy. If you look at any of the crises that are happening, whether it’s in Syria on the doorstep of Europe, Libya on the doorstep of Europe, Ukraine on the doorstep of Europe, we are completely dependent on the United States. I’m a great fan of the US and it’s important we remain strong allies of the US, but it’s important we develop the capability to be able to handle the problems on our own doorstep.”‘

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Ukraine and Gaza: Spot the difference in the value of civilian lives killed by war

Lindsey German writes for Stop the War:

‘The fear Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow’s expressed on Twitter has turned out to be all too prophetic: “Awful danger that the shooting down of flight MH17 will provide cover for an intensification of Israel’s ground war in Gaza”. Yet the coverage of both events in the western media shows a quite shocking disproportion of standards between the two. While new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond argued the case for more sanctions on Russia as a result of the shooting, David Cameron, writing in the Sunday Times, went even further:

“This is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action.”

The wording is uncannily reminiscent of Tony Blair’s call for action after 9/11, which has created much of the horror we are now seeing in the world. The media refer to Putin as a ‘terrorist’, there are calls to brand the Ukrainian separatist organisations as terrorist, and there are demands from the Dutch and other governments to take even stronger strong action against Russia.

It is hardly worth recording that attitudes to Israeli bombing and ground invasion are completely different in tone, let alone in trying to apply serious sanctions to a government which has repeatedly attacked Palestinians and who used the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish students on the West Bank to launch another attack on Gaza. When Philip Hammond was asked, by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, whether Israel was acting disproportionately in Gaza, he three times refused to answer, but blamed Hamas.’

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KAL 007 and Iran Air 655: Comparing the Coverage

From Fairness In Accuracy & Reporting back in 1988:

USS Vincennes (Wikimedia)‘The day after a Soviet interceptor plane blew up a Korean passenger jet, the first sentence of a New York Times editorial (9/2/83) was unequivocal: “There is no conceivable excuse for any nation shooting down a harmless airliner.” Headlined “Murder in the Air,” the editorial asserted that “no circumstance whatever justifies attacking an innocent plane.”

Confronted with the sudden reality of a similar action by the U.S. government, theNew York Times inverted every standard invoked with righteous indignation five years earlier. Editorials condemning the KAL shoot down were filled with phrases like “wanton killing,” “reckless aerial murder” and “no conceivable excuse.” But when Iran Air’s flight 655 was blown out of the sky on July 3, excuses were more than conceivable–they were profuse.

Two days after the Iranian passenger jet went down in flames, killing 290 people, the Times (7/5/88) editorialized that “while horrifying, it was nonetheless an accident.” The editorial concluded, “The onus for avoiding such accidents in the future rests on civilian aircraft: avoid combat zones, fly high, acknowledge warnings.”‘

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Legislating the Way to World War 3? The U.S. Senate’s “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014″

Eric Draitser writes for New Eastern Outlook:

234234‘The US Congress is doing its part to escalate the tensions with Russia over Ukraine and a host of other issues. In so doing, the legislative and executive branches of the US Government work hand in glove to further the US-NATO agenda in Eastern Europe. The bill, propagandistically titled the “Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014,” (S.2277) was proposed by right wing Republican Senator Bob Corker, and has been cosponsored by a significant number of prominent Republicans in the Senate. While Democrats have yet to cosponsor the bill, they are almost without exception behind President Obama and his aggressive policy towards Russia and Ukraine. Indeed, this bill, though obviously partisan in its political character, represents the consensus within the US political establishment – a consensus that presumes US aggression in Eastern Europe to be defensive in the face of Putin’s “expansionism” and “imperial ambitions.”

It goes without saying that such a distorted world-view is par for the course in Washington, where upside-down logic is the predominant way of thinking about the world. However, the proposed legislation is less a response to perceived aggression from Moscow, and more of an attempt to capitalize on the crisis in Ukraine, using it as a convenient pretext for the expansion of NATO, continued militarization of Eastern Europe, promotion of corporate oil and gas interests, and much more. Essentially, the bill provides a blueprint for US intentions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe for the coming years. Moreover, it reflects the greatest concern of all for Washington and its NATO allies: the loss of hegemony in the post-Soviet space. Seen in this way, S.2277 is not truly about punitive measures to punish Russia for its “aggression,” but rather is about pre-emptively attacking Russia politically and economically, while building up to a possible military confrontation. Needless to say, such dangerous and destabilizing actions are a reflection of the moral bankruptcy, not to mention utter insanity, of the US political establishment and the ruling class it serves.’

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Senator Feinstein: The U.S. Is Now At Cold War Levels With Russia

Dustin Voltz reports for the National Journal:

In cartoon: Ukraine in crisis‘Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein thoroughly condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for his role in empowering Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists during an interview with CNN on Sunday, largely laying the blame at his feet for the downing last week of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet.

Regardless of Putin’s level of involvement in the plane crash, Feinstein said U.S. relations with Russia had dipped to a new low. When asked by CNN’s Candy Crowley for if U.S.-Russia relations were now “at Cold War levels,” Feinstein did not hesitate. “Yes,” the California Democrat replied.’

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U.S. says Russia hacked the NASDAQ

Michael Riley reports for Business Week:

Behind the cover‘In October 2010, a Federal Bureau of Investigation system monitoring U.S. Internet traffic picked up an alert. The signal was coming from Nasdaq. It looked like malware had snuck into the company’s central servers. There were indications that the intruder was not a kid somewhere, but the intelligence agency of another country. More troubling still: When the U.S. experts got a better look at the malware, they realized it was attack code, designed to cause damage.

As much as hacking has become a daily irritant, much more of it crosses watch-center monitors out of sight from the public. The Chinese, the French, the Israelis—and many less well known or understood players—all hack in one way or another. They steal missile plans, chemical formulas, power-plant pipeline schematics, and economic data. That’s espionage; attack code is a military strike. There are only a few recorded deployments, the most famous being the Stuxnet worm. Widely believed to be a joint project of the U.S. and Israel, Stuxnet temporarily disabled Iran’s uranium-processing facility at Natanz in 2010. It switched off safety mechanisms, causing the centrifuges at the heart of a refinery to spin out of control. Two years later, Iran destroyed two-thirds of Saudi Aramco’s computer network with a relatively unsophisticated but fast-spreading “wiper” virus. One veteran U.S. official says that when it came to a digital weapon planted in a critical system inside the U.S., he’s seen it only once—in Nasdaq.’

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How the Clintons Set the U.S. on the Dangerous Path of Confronting Russia

John V Walsh writes for Unz Review:

shutterstock_179155100

‘The most damning indictment yet of the Clintons on the world stage comes in the book Superpower Illusions by former Ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock. The book came out way back in 2009, but it is worth examining again as we confront the possibility of a return to Clintonism. And Matlock is a man who knows whereof he speaks.

[...] Being a diplomat, Mattlock speaks diplomatically of the colossal, damaging shift in U.S.-Russia relations under the Clintons who reversed the approach of Reagan and Bush I. He gets to the point right away in the preface to Superpower Illusions:

“The Clinton administration’s decision to expand NATO to the East rather than draw Russia into a cooperative arrangement to ensure European security undermined the prospects of democracy in Russia, made it more difficult to keep peace in the Balkans and slowed the process of nuclear disarmament started by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev.”’

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Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: The Accident Theory

Diane Tsai writes for Time:

‘International affairs expert Austin Long explains how Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine could easily have made a mistake when using sophisticated missile systems

While it appears likely that the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine using sophisticated missile systems, much of the crucial information is yet to be determined.

“It is entirely plausible, given the circumstances, that this was an accident,” says Austin Long, assistant professor of political and international affairs at Columbia.

This would not be the first time that military forces have accidentally shot civilian planes — the U.S. military made such mistakes back in 2003 and 1994.’

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Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz Hails New BRICS Bank Challenging U.S.-Dominated World Bank & IMF

‘A group of five countries have launched their own development bank to challenge the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — unveiled the New Development Bank at a summit in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai. Together, BRICS countries account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population. To discuss this development, we are joined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and the World Bank’s former chief economist. “It’s very important in many ways,” Stiglitz says of the New Development Bank’s founding. “This is adding to the flow of money that will go to finance infrastructure, adaptation to climate change — all the needs that are so evident in the poorest countries. It [also] reflects a fundamental change in global economic and political power. The BRICS countries today are richer than the advanced countries were when the World Bank and the IMF were founded. We’re in a different world — but the old institutions haven’t kept up.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

Who Shot Down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and Why? Interview with Stephen Cohen