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Why You Should Visit Russia

Just back from a week in Moscow, I feel obliged to point out a few things about it.

  • Most people there still love Americans.
  • Many people there speak English.
  • Learning basic Russian is not that hard.
  • Moscow is the biggest city in Europe (and far bigger than any in the United States).
  • Moscow has the charm, culture, architecture, history, activities, events, parks, museums, and entertainment to match any other city in Europe.
  • It’s warm there now with flowers everywhere.
  • Moscow is safer than U.S. cities. You can walk around alone at night with no worries.
  • The Metro goes everywhere. A train comes every 2 minutes. The trains have free Wi-Fi. So do the parks.
  • You can rent bicycles at lots of different spots and return them to any other.
  • You can fly direct from New York to Moscow, and if you fly on the Russian airline Aeroflot you’ll get a nostalgic reminder of what it’s like to have airplane seats large enough to hold a human being.
  • Everybody says that St. Petersburg and various other cities are even more beautiful than Moscow.
  • Right now the sun is up from 4:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Moscow, and until 9:30 p.m. in St. Petersburg. The longest day of the year in St. Petersburg is 18-and-a-half hours.

Americans seem not to know about Russia. While four-and-a-half million Americans visit Italy in a year, and two-and-a-half million go to Germany as tourists, only 86 thousand go to Russia. More tourists go to Russia from several other countries than go there from the U.S.

American/Russian Vladimir Posner on the State of Journalism

Vladimir Posner, who spent his youth in the United States, France, and the Soviet Union, and who cohosted a show with Phil Donahue on U.S. television for years, met with a group of visitors to Moscow from the U.S. on Monday, offering his well-informed views on a range of media-related topics.

Posner said that for years he worked on Soviet propaganda aimed at the United States. The first blow to his full belief in the rectitude of the USSR came, he said, with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He eventually concluded that he was not telling the truth, that by telling only good things he was telling half the truth, which is a falsehood. He quit the job and he quit the Communist Party.

What I Saw When I Visited a Russian School

As I was heading off to visit Russia, a friend told me of a friend who knew a Russian school teacher. I asked if I could visit the school, and I brought along a couple of American friends. Here's a video of what we saw there.

Racists Love Russia?

Photo by Daily Progress.

While I’ve been in Russia trying to make friends, back home in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, a group of torch-bearing supporters of Robert E. Lee has held a rally generally understood as a proclamation of white supremacy. I’ve previously written at some length about this white identity group, their humanity, their legitimate grievances, and their support for Donald Trump.

They chanted: “You will not replace us!” possibly because the city of Charlottesville has decided to replace a statue of Robert E. Lee with something less racist.

They chanted: “Blood and soil!” I suppose to express their lengthy connection to the land (although their leader is no more from Virginia than Robert E. Lee is from Charlottesville), or — less charitably — just because of the flagrantly fascist sound of the slogan.

And they chanted: “Russia is our friend!”

A Russian Journalist’s Perspective

Dmitri Babich has worked as a journalist in Russia since 1989, for newspapers, news agencies, radio, and television. He says that he used to always interview people, while lately people interview him.

According to Babich, myths about Russian media, such as that one cannot criticize the president in Russia, can be dispelled simply by visiting Russian news websites and using Google Translator. More newspapers in Russia oppose Putin than support him, Babich says.

If Russian news is propaganda, Babich asks, why are people so afraid of it? Was anyone ever afraid of Brezhnev’s propaganda? (One might reply that it wasn’t available on the internet or television.) In Babich’s view the threat of Russian news lies in its accuracy, not in its falsehood. In the 1930s, he says, French and British media, in good “objective” style, suggested that Hitler wasn’t anything much to worry about. But the Soviet media had Hitler right. (On Stalin perhaps not so much.)

A Russian Entrepreneur’s Perspective

I’ve been in Moscow some days now and have yet to meet an oligarch (although perhaps they don’t identify themselves). I have met an entrepreneur named Andrei Davidovich. He’s started several companies since his first in 1998, including a software company, a marketing agency, a publishing company, etc. He says it takes 5 days to create a new company in Russia.

He gives U.S. friends thanks for technology, research, and knowledge. He tells the U.S. government thanks for nothing.

Davidovich has been in touch for years with the U.S.-based Center for Citizen Initiatives, the excellent organization that can bring you to Russia to learn all about it, and that brought some 6,000 Russian businessmen and women, including Davidovich, to the U.S. during the previous cold war.

Things Russians Can Teach Americans

I suppose the list is lengthy and includes dancing, comedy, karaoke singing, vodka drinking, monument building, diplomacy, novel writing, and thousands of other fields of human endeavor, in some of which Americans can teach Russians as well. But what I’m struck by at the moment in Russia is the skill of honest political self-reflection, as found in Germany, Japan, and many other nations to a great degree as well. I think the unexamined political life is not worth sustaining, but it is all we have back home in the not so united states.

Here, as a tourist in Moscow, not only friends and random people will point out the good and the bad, but hired tour guides will do the same.

“Here on the left is the parliament where they make all of those laws. We disagree with many of them, you know.”

“Here on your right is where they are building a 30-meter bronze wall for the victims of Stalin’s purges.”

Gorbachev: It Was Worse Than This, and We Fixed It

By Дэвид Суонсон (David Swanson)

On Friday in Moscow I and a group from the United States met with former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. He said the current relationship between Washington and Moscow alarmed him. But, he said, it is possible to rebuild trust. “We had a situation that was worse, but we were able to rebuild trust. And people-to-people contacts helped to rebuild trust.”

When Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan first met, presidents of the two countries had not met for six years. Members of Reagan’s cabinet opposed the meeting. Gorbachev came out of the meeting saying of Reagan “He’s not a hawk, he’s a dinosaur.” Reagan came out denouncing Gorbachev as “a die-hard communist.”



But they kept meeting. Eventually and inevitably Reagan asked what the Soviets would do if the U.S. were attacked by a meteor or aliens. Both men said their countries would help each other. However, Reagan was a fan of Star Wars, both the weapons boondoggle and the movie — which he may have kept distinct from each other in his mind. Gorbachev and Reagan accomplished a great deal of disarmament, not to mention Gorbachev’s accomplishing the nonviolent dissolution of an empire. But they could not get rid of all the nuclear weapons, and they could not take other serious steps in that direction, because Reagan was not willing, and the U.S. government was not willing.

The U.S. Behavior That Concerns Russia

I attended a meeting in Moscow on Friday with Vladimir Kozin, longtime member of Russia’s foreign service, advisor to the government, author, and advocate for arms reduction. He handed out the list of 16 unresolved problems above. While he noted that the United States funds NGOs in Russia, as well as Ukraine, to influence elections, and described that as a reality in contrast to U.S. stories of Russia trying to influence a U.S. election, which he called a fairy tale, the topic did not make the top-16 list.

He added to the top of the list as something that could be obtainable, and something he considers very important, the need for an agreement between the U.S. and Russia on no first use of nuclear weapons, an agreement that he thinks other nations would subsequently join.

Then he stressed what he’s listed as the first item above: removing what the U.S. calls missile “defense” but what Russia views as offensive weaponry from Romania, and ceasing the construction of the same in Poland. These weapons combined with no commitment to no first use, Kozin said opens up the possibility of an accident or a misinterpretation of a flock of geese leading to the destruction of all human civilization.

Kozin said that NATO is encircling Russia, creating wars outside of the United Nations, and planning for first use.  Pentagon documents, Kozin accurately stated, list Russia as a top enemy, an “aggressor” and an “annexer.” The U.S. would like, he said, to break Russia apart into small republics. “It will not happen,” Kozin assured us.

Sanctions, Kozin said, are actually benefitting Russia by moving it from importation to domestic production of goods. The problem, he said, is not sanctions but the total lack of action on arms reduction. I asked him if Russia would propose a treaty to ban weaponized drones, and he said that he favored one and that it should not cover only fully automated drones, but he stopped short of saying that Russia should propose it.

Kozin supported the proliferation of nuclear power, without explaining away the problems of accidents like Fukushima, the creation of targets for terrorism, and the moving of any nation that acquires nuclear power closer to nuclear weaponry. In fact, he later warned that Saudi Arabia is acting with just that intention. (But why worry, the Saudis seem very reasonable!) He also noted that Poland has asked for U.S. nukes, while Donald Trump has talked of spreading nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea.

Kozin would like to see a world free of nuclear weapons by 2045, a century since the defeat of the Nazis. He believes that only the U.S. and Russia can lead the way (though I believe the non-nuclear nations are right now doing so). Kozin would like to see a U.S.-Russia summit on nothing but arms control. He recalls that the U.S. and Soviet Union signed six arms control agreements.

Kozin defends weapons sales as long as they are legal, without explaining how they are not destructive.

He also defends holding out optimism that Trump might meet some of his pre-election promises regarding better relations with Russia, including a commitment to no first use, even while noting that Trump has gone back on most such promises since the election. Kozin noted that what he called the Democratic Party’s promotion of fairytales has been very damaging.

Kozin spent some time on the usual fact-based response to the as-yet-unproven U.S. accusations of election interference, as well as providing the usual reality-focused response to accusations of invading Crimea. He called Crimea Russian land since 1783 and Khruschev’s giving it away as illegal. He asked the leader of a delegation of Americans that visited Crimea if she had found a single person who wanted to rejoin Ukraine. “No,” was the response.

While Russia had the right to keep 25,00 troops in Crimea, he said, in March 2014 it had 16,000 there, even as Ukraine had 18,000. But there was no violence, no shooting, just an election in which (perhaps disturbingly to Americans, I guess) the winner of the popular vote was actually declared the winner.

Love from Russians

On Wednesday, I flew out of a New York airport around which armed soldiers in camouflaged uniforms wandered — a New York area that had long ago hidden in the hardest to reach corner of New Jersey the monument that Russia gave the United States in sympathy with the horror of September 11, 2001. I left a country where the corporate media used “ties to Russia” as the equivalent of “servant of Satan,” and treated financial and criminal corruption as honorable or offensive depending purely on whether anyone Russian was involved.

I flew on an airplane named for Pushkin, along with over 400 other passengers, up over Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the beautiful mountains of Norway and Sweden, perfectly visible below, the great expanse of Estonia and Russia, and the suburban houses in pine woods approaching Moscow — the largest city I’ve ever been to with over 20 times the population of Washington, D.C.

It’s a city that I have found, thus far, full of people eager to express their love for the United States and its people. Moscow is a safe, clean, beautiful city of unarmed police, free Wi-Fi on fast trains, traffic jams of shiny new cars, new construction everywhere, and a sense on behalf of at least many people that more is improving than is getting worse — a notion not widely encountered back home in some decades. In Russia, more expatriates are returning, and more young people staying. Many have grievances, but the Canadian Embassy is not overrun following elections.

Many speak English and are happy to assist you in learning Russian. On a tour of subway stations, as above ground as well, you’ll see everywhere efforts to remember the good and the bad of every period of Russian (and Soviet) history. You’ll see monuments to every type of worker: architects, farmers, geographers, and every other occupation rarely thanked for its service back home. And you’ll see monuments to peace (the same word as world) alongside monuments to the defeat of numerous invaders over the centuries, most prominently the Nazis.

Even the major holiday of Victory Day just passed on May 9 resembles the old Armistice Day in the U.S. more closely than it does the current Veterans Day. People march with portraits of those killed in war, not support for ever more wars around the world.

Moscow is alive late into the night. You can call an uber car on your smartphone, for which the restaurants (and I doubt there is one better than this one) will give you a charger. And the hardest thing to find is resentment, even over the U.S. openly taking credit for imposing on Russia its own Donald Trump in the person of Boris Yeltsin.

Thousands in U.S. send messages of friendship to Russians

As of this writing, 7,269 people in the United States, and rising steadily, have posted messages of friendship to the people of Russia. They can be read, and more can be added at RootsAction.org.

People’s individual messages are added as comments endorsing this statement:

To the people of Russia:

We residents of the United States wish you, our brothers and sisters in Russia, nothing but well. We oppose the hostility and militarism of our government. We favor disarmament and peaceful cooperation. We desire greater friendship and cultural exchange between us. You should not believe everything you hear from the American corporate media. It is not a true representation of Americans. While we do not control any major media outlets, we are numerous. We oppose wars, sanctions, threats, and insults. We send you greetings of solidarity, trust, love, and hope for collaboration on building a better world safe from the dangers of nuclear, military, and environmental destruction.

Here is a sampling, but I encourage you to go and read more:

Robert Wist, AZ: A world of friends is far better than a world of enemies. – I wish for us to be friends.

Arthur Daniels, FL: Americans and Russians = friends forever!

Peter Bergel, OR: After meeting many different kinds of Russians on my trip to your beautiful country last year, I am especially motivated to wish you well and to resist the efforts of my government to create enmity between our countries. Together our countries should lead the world toward peace, not further conflict.

Charles Schultz, UT: All of my friends and I have nothing but love, and the utmost respect, for the Russian people! We are not your enemies! We want to be your friends. We do not agree with our government, the members of congress, the president, any of the agencies of government that are constantly accusing Russia of every problem, not only here in the US, but also throughout the entire world!

A metaphoric right-brained essay: President MOABA (Mother of All Bullshit Artists)

By John Grant

 

Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as mediator between this strange hostile world and us. . . . It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.

Syria: Was It Really a “Chemical Weapons Attack?”

 

 


Trump Should Rethink Syria Escalation

 

 

 

Two dozen ex-U.S. intelligence officials urge President Trump to rethink his claims blaming the Syrian government for the chemical deaths in Idlib and to pull back from his dangerous escalation of tensions with Russia.

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)*

SUBJECT: Syria: Was It Really “A Chemical Weapons Attack”?

Russia Conspiracists Claim to Possess Reality

An Associated Press story on Tuesday came with this headline: "Analysis: Reality catching up with Trump on Russia," and began:

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Reality is catching up with President Donald Trump. Hours after Trump dismissed reports that his campaign associates were being scrutinized for colluding with Russia as 'fake news,' FBI Director James Comey confirmed the investigation is real."

Note the slick sophistry here. Trump never denied that there was an investigation. He denied that he colluded with the Russian government to steal the election. But according to the Associated Press, Trump's denial of those charges is disproven by the fact that someone is investigating them.

If you watched the hearing on Monday, you saw Comey asked how the "intelligence" "community" knew that Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to win the election. Comey's answer was nothing but information publicly available for many months, restated as an "assessment." Asked whether the Russian government gave WikiLeaks the Democratic Party emails that showed the DNC sabotaging the Bernie Sanders campaign and denying itself a better shot at winning the general election, Comey said that he "assessed" -- which seemed clearly to mean: speculated based on the absence of any evidence -- that Russia did not do so directly but used a "cutout."

None of this makes it into the AP, which continues:

"The FBI chief also repeatedly insisted there was no evidence to back up Trump's explosive claim that his predecessor wiretapped his New York skyscraper. And Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, knocked down a report about Britain helping President Barack Obama with the alleged surveillance, although the White House had pointed to the report to try to boost Trump's case. Taken together, the disclosures in Monday's lengthy House intelligence committee hearing amounted to an extraordinary undercutting of a president, whose headline-grabbing accusations and Twitter-friendly attacks crumbled quickly under the weight of sworn congressional testimony from some of the nation's top security officials."

Yet, the possibility that the baseless assertions Trump was blurting out were false does nothing whatsoever to prove that the baseless assertions coming from his accusers are true. Nor does this address the comments from NSA whistleblower Bill Binney that the NSA very likely did have material from snooping on Trump for the simple reason that it is systematically snooping on everyone, while the perjurers who deny that to Congress continue to be treated as respectable authorities. Nor is the AP or any other corporate news company addressing the problem of Trump apparently not having access to the U.S. government's information despite being president. Nor is anyone questioning Comey's refusal to mention any details about anyone under investigation now, while he was willing to make public an investigation of Hillary Clinton pre-election at a time when he now claims there was also an investigation of Donald Trump that he chose to keep silent about.

The AP does, however, take the time to inform us that if we disagree with it, we (even those of us pushing for a Trump impeachment on fact-based grounds) are irrational Trump supporters (even as the AP gets around to admitting that no evidence of wrongdoing with Russia has been produced):

"Many of Trump's most ardent supporters are unlikely to be swayed by Monday's spectacle. Still, Trump's credibility and his standing as a reliable ally for his fellow Republicans in Congress are less assured. Even if his advisers are ultimately cleared in the Russia probe, as the White House insists they will be, the investigation could loom over Trump's presidency for months or even years, distracting from the ambitious domestic agenda he's vowed to enact."

AP then cites the media's love for the Russia conspirascandal as evidence of its importance:

"That reality was abundantly clear Monday. Most cable news channels carried Comey and Rogers' five hours of testimony live instead of the first congressional hearing for Neil Gorsuch, Trump's widely praised nominee for the Supreme Court. The Russia hearings came as Trump tried to give a hard sell to Republicans wary of his health care package, a legislative gamble with long-lasting implications for Trump's relationship with his own party."

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” --Karl Rove

Uh-Oh, there goes the Democrats’ 'Russia Did It' campaign: WikiLeaks’ Latest CIA Data Dump Undermines Case Against Russia Electi

By Dave Lindorff

 

The so-called Deep State and Democratic Party campaign to demonize Russia for allegedly "hacking the US election," and delivering the country into the hands of Donald Trump suffered a huge and probably mortal blow this week with the release by WikiLeaks of over 7000 secret CIA documents disclosing secret CIA hacking technologies.

Paving the way for a new progressive party?: Democratic Leaders are a Craven Bunch of Idiots Bent on Self-Destruction

By Dave Lindorff

 

The Democratic Party leadership, both in the Democratic National Committee and in Congress, is full of bad ideas these days, and they’re risking disaster because of it.

Resume inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice

By Dave Lindorff

 

In the annals of human conflict, the Gulf War of 1991, when the US dispatched half a million troops and a huge armada of ships, planes and tanks into the desert south of Iraq and Kuwait and then crushed Iraqi forces in both those countries in a six-week blitz from Jan. 17-Feb. 28, surely has to rank as one of the most one-sided wars since Hitler’s Wehrmacht marched through Holland in four days in 1940.

Ukraine on Fire

I read this article: "A Documentary You’ll Likely Never See," and watched this preview.

So, of course, I wanted to see it.

I got a hold of a copy but am not allowed to share it and have been unable to get any information on where you can learn more, how you can rent it, where it will be screened, etc.

Bit *if* you are ever able to see Ukraine on Fire you should. This is a story about recent events in Ukraine that puts them into the context of Ukraine's history, rejects propaganda, and presents the evidence clearly and concisely. It includes interviews of key figures conducted by Oliver Stone.

To summarize the key points will just sound like lunacy to U.S. media consumers, though a bit of reading or watching this film might help persuade many.

The United States promoted two color revolutions in Ukraine several years apart, taking the side of neo-Nazis, installing handpicked leaders in Kiev and even a former coup leader from Georgia in Odessa. Russia did not invade Ukraine. Just as Russia did not hack the German or U.S. elections. The evidence also suggests that Russia was probably not involved in shooting down that Malaysian airplane, that Ukrainian nationalists did that.

As Russia is being demonized in a new way every week in Washington, knowing truth from lies on Ukraine may be critically important and could just save us. I hope somebody makes a way for you to see this movie.

Focus: Russia and NATO - Feb 16, 2016

 

Putin accuses NATO of trying to embroil Russia in confrontation  - TASS


Putin pledges to strengthen Russia’s Federal Security Service - TASS


Putin: 'Ukraine government is clearly not ready for a peaceful solution...openly speak about organization of sabotage and terrorism' - Donbass International


Putin urges 'restoring dialogue' between Russia, US intel - AFP


VIDEO: Putin urges 'restoring dialogue' between Russia, US intel - YouTube


VIDEO: Vladimir Putin’s full statement at the annual meeting of the FSB - YouTube


TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin’s full statement at the annual meeting of the FSB - President of Russia


Moscow vows to take measures in response to NATO buildup in Black Sea - Sputnik


Russia may lose interest in dialogue with NATO if it yields no results: NATO envoy - APA


Russia demands Pentagon explanation of Mattis’s ‘position of strength' comments - newsweek.com

 

Out of question: 'Crimea cannot be subject of bargaining between Russia and US': Official - Sputnik


POLL: Over 80% of Russians have positive attitude toward President Putin - Sputnik


Kremlin aide says no agreement yet on Putin-Trump meeting: Ifax - Reuters


Russian fighter jets 'buzz' US warship in Black Sea, photos show - CNN.com


Russia shows off menacing amphibious vehicle after NATO deploys troops - Express.co.uk


The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was followed by more than 50 NATO ships on its way to Syria and back - Sputnik


Russia deploys cruise missile in violation of arms treaty: report - TheHill


Russian spy ship now off Virginia coast - ABC News


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Defense ministers at NATO meeting pledge to counter Russia, sign letters of intent spurring additional actions - ibtimes.com


NATO European allies to jointly buy planes, set up new elite HQ - US News


NATO to boost naval presence in Black Sea - Yahoo News


VIDEO: NATO Secretary General, Press Conference at Meetings of Defence Ministers - YouTube


TRANSCRIPT: NATO Secretary General, Press Conference at Meetings of Defence Ministers - NATO


NATO Secretary General: alliance remains committed to Georgia - Agenda.ge


Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission at the level of Defence Ministers - NATO


NATO to stay "strongly committed" to Ukraine: Stoltenberg - Unian


Stoltenberg unfazed by poll showing waning Ukrainian support for NATO - KyivPost


Ukraine turns a blind eye to ultrarightist militia - The Washington Post


Ukraine publishers speak out against ban on Russian books - The Guardian


500 US troops arrive in Romanian Black Sea port to bolster defense - AP


Ships from 4 NATO countries conduct naval drills in Black Sea - RT News


Get Ready, Russia: Britain is sending warships to the Black Sea - The National Interest Blog

 

NATO ships merge into group to exercise anti-submarine tasks amid drills in the Black Sea - Sputnik

 

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Trump warns of the dangers of a “nuclear holocaust” while addressing the need for a positive relationship with Russia - POLITICO


VIDEO: Trump raises spectre of 'nuclear holocaust' amid questioning over Russia - YouTube


Mattis tells NATO: 'We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level (with Russia.) But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground' - UPI.com


Mattis rejects Putin’s proposal to share intelligence - New York Post


Trump’s retreat from realism accelerates: The case of Crimea - Cato @ Liberty


An open letter to Trump and Putin: The world needs Nuclear Zero - TheHill


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Which Washington Crimes Matter Most?

Michael Flynn participated in mass murder and destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, advocated for torture, and manufactured false cases for war against Iran. He and anyone who appointed him to office and kept him there should be removed from and disqualified for public service. (Though I still appreciate his blurting out the obvious regarding the counterproductive results of drone murders.)

Many would say that prosecuting Al Capone for tax fraud was a good move if he couldn't be prosecuted for murder. But what if Al Capone had been funding an orphanage on the side, and the state had prosecuted him for that? Or what if the state hadn't prosecuted him, but a rival gang had taken him out? Are all take-downs of major criminals good ones? Do they all deter the right activities by up-and-coming criminals?

Michael Flynn was not removed by public demand, by representative action in Congress, by public impeachment proceedings, or by criminal prosecution (though that may follow). He was removed by an unaccountable gang of spies and killers, and for the offense of seeking friendlier relations with the world's other major nuclear-armed government.

Hoist on his own petard: NSC Head Flynn Was Brought Down By the Very Spying Machine He Helped to Build

By Davd Lindorff

            A retired three-star Lt. General, Flynn had previously been director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration. In that role since 2012, he was a key player in the leadership of the sprawling $50-billion US intelligence apparatus that has increasingly been spying not just on Americans but on US allies and, to the extent possible, on the entire world.  Flynn, as DIA director, was the top guy in charge of the so-called “Five Eyes” group of intelligence agencies-- all English-speaking nations including the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada -- which has coordinated spying on citizens of those nations as well as on the citizens and leaders of such supposed NATO allies as Germany, France, Italy, Spain etc.

            Knowing all this, it’s simply astounding to learn that Flynn himself was using apparently unencrypted email, phones and texting to communicate with, of all people, the Russian Ambassador to the US, discussing such issues as potentially lifting sanctions imposed on Russia by the sitting president of the United States, Barack Obama.

            His political implosion is doubly ironic because Flynn was one of those who was loudly condemning Trump’s presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private server for her official State Department business, and for her general lax security standards (he actually led a “Lock her up!” chant at one Trump rally!).  Because clearly Flynn was not using secure communications in his own conversations with the Russian ambassador -- communications that are now widely circulating in complete transcript form courtesy of US spy agencies like the National Security Agency.

            Talk about someone being hoist upon his own petard!

            You’d think that seeing the kind of trouble the NSA’s “collect it all” motto can wreak even for the powerful and seemingly invincible, Washington’s elite might rethink what the NSA is doing?

            But nah, I wouldn’t count on that happening. There’s more likely to be a lot of shadenfreude among those, both Democrats and traditional Cold War Republicans, who want to see Trump and his band of bozos go down, but hubristic to a fault, they’re not going to go so far as to think, “Hey, this could as easily happen to me!”

            And yet, what we’re seeing here, besides the exposé of a thoroughly inept and out-of-his-depth President Trump, is the workings of the so-called “deep state” -- the permanent power structure the really runs things in the US -- which is taking advantage of its vast powers to rein in the efforts of a loose cannon trying to steer things off on an unorthodox course...

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/3452

Focus: Russia - Feb 9, 2017


Putin calls snap Russia air-raid drill involving 45,000 troops and 150 aircraft this week, 'for a time of war and...to repel aggression' - Independent


S-400 air defense units of Russia's Aerospace Force go on combat alert in snap check - TASS


Moscow air defense spots notional enemy’s strategic bombers in snap check - TASS


NATO buildup in E. Europe and Germany threat to Russian security, increases risk of incidents: Moscow - RT News


Russia says Romania's stance on EU sanctions and decision to host elements of a Nato missile defence system made it a 'clear threat' - Telegraph


U.S. forces arrive in Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania - UPI.com


Baltic states seek more NATO help ahead of a large Russian military exercise planned for September - Reuters


NATO war with Russia: US troops, helicopters deployed to Germany - ibtimes.com


Navy kicks off NATO drills on the Black Sea, Putin's doorstep - navytimes.com


NATO activities in Black Sea region fight against non-existent threats: Moscow - Sputnik


NATO backs Ukraine as clashes surge: deputy chief - AFP


Top House Armed Services Dem to Trump: Give Ukraine weapons - The Daily Caller


Ukraine's domestic conflict no platform for Russia-US deal: Kremlin - Sputnik


Russia's Baltic Sea pipeline scares the life out of Ukraine - Forbes


Is Europe caving to Russia on pipeline politics? - Foreign Policy


Putin ratifies deal to build Turkish stream gas pipeline to southern Europe - rferl.org


Senators urge Trump to get tough on Russia, introduce bill to prevent the President from easing sanctions without congressional approval - CNNPolitics.com


Text of The Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017 - huffingtonpost.com


Dem pushing House vote on Trump’s alleged business conflicts, Russia ties - TheHill


Moscow readies a new, hard-line ambassador for Washington - Foreign Policy

 

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Russian foreign ministry says ready to cooperate with NATO in Afghanistan: TASS - Reuters


Russia to host conference on Afghanistan, to push for talks with the Taliban and contain 'spillover effects' of Islamic State trying to get a foothold - VOA


Top American commander: Russia 'legitimizing' Taliban to undermine US, NATO - TheHill


General requests thousands more troops to break Afghanistan ‘stalemate' - NPR


Russia sends Syria its largest missile delivery to date, US officials say - Fox News


Former NATO general warns against Russia partnership in Syria - Stripes


Russian diplomat slams as provocation Amnesty International’s report on Syria, stating that thousands were hanged in secret at Saydnaya - TASS


We don't view PKK or YPG as terrorists, Russia says: Report - hurriyetdailynews.com


Russia disagrees with Trump labeling Iran ‘number one terrorist state’ - RT News


Russia promises Israel to keep weapons out of Hezbollah's hands - ynetnews.com


EU reaches out to Russia to broker deal with Libyan general Haftar - The Guardian


French report: What's behind Russia ramping up its military presence in the Mediterranean - Sputnik


Putin expected to take part in Silk Road Summit in Beijing in May - Sputnik


China’s president plans to visit Russia in midyear - TASS


Multiple Russia-China ministerial meetings planned for this year - Sputnik


Ambassador says Trump's administration not going to affect Russia-China relations - TASS


POLL: Half of Russians consider China Moscow's strategic, economic partner - Sputnik


Russia warns other States against interfering in South China Sea dispute: Envoy - Sputnik


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)


Focus: Russia and Ukraine - Feb 2, 2017


Putin says the Ukrainian authorities triggered the current surge of tensions in Donbass - TASS


VIDEO: Putin says Ukraine escalated conflict in Donbass - RT News


Ukrainian paramilitary supported by army attacked rebels in East: Peskov, citing Kremlin data - RT News


Foreign Ministry statement on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Donbass - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation


Russia UN ambassador Churkin: Kiev trying to find military solution to Donbass conflict - Sputnik


VIDEO: Statement of Russia UN Ambassador Churkin: Violations of the Minsk agreement by Ukraine - YouTube


Recordings of surveillance cameras clearly indicate that clashes were triggered by fire from positions held by the Kiev government troops, Russia's UN ambassador says - TASS


Ukrainian army concentrated troops near Avdiivka for offensive: Separatists - Sputnik


Ukrainian Defense Ministry admits it conducts offensive operations in Donbass, refrains from commenting on the question about the pullback of heavy weapons - TASS


Russia diplomat says OSCE monitors turn blind eye on Ukrainian tanks in Donbass - TASS


VIDEO: BBC reporter films Kiev tanks in residential area on E. Ukraine frontline - RT News


Why Avdiivka is the most vulnerable spot for the Russian-separatist army in Ukraine, The new Ukrainian army positions allow to take the main road under fire control - Euromaidan Press


POLL: Only 14% of Ukrainians trust Poroshenko, 9% the government and 5% the parliament - TASS


POLL (Results): Trust to Ukraine Social Institutions - Kiev International Institute of Sociology


Kiev should give up on the Donbass, As conflict rages again, Ukraine needs to understand that winning the war would be more trouble than it's worth - Foreign Policy


Anxious Ukraine risks escalation in ‘creeping offensive', observers say the Ukrainians appear to be trying to create new facts on the ground - rferl.org


Is Ukraine sabotaging Trump's detente with Russia? It’s hard to see what Putin gains from new fighting, on the other hand Poroshenko has everything to gain - Huffington Post

 

------------------------------------------------------

 

US administration flirts with softer stance on Russia's conduct in Ukraine - Military.com


State Dept statement on cease-fire violations in Eastern Ukraine - state.gov


US Ambassador Nikki Haley condemns Russia's 'aggressive actions' in Ukraine - AFP


McCain to Trump: Send weapons to Ukraine - TheHill


EU's Tusk says fighting must stop in Ukraine, points to 'Russia's aggression' - rferl.org


Chief Monitor of the OSCE Mission to Ukraine Ambassador Apakan calls for immediate cessation of violence in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area - OSCE


NATO Scraps Ukraine meeting fearing escalation with Russia - themoscowtimes.com


Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, to call for referendum on joining NATO - UPI.com


Berlin authorities suspect that Poroshenko bears responsibility for the deteriorating situation in the east of Ukraine, German Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper wrote - Sputnik


Hungary’s prime minister Orban meets Putin, urges the European Union to repair relations with the Kremlin and lift sanctions - irishtimes.com


POLL: Putin has better reputation in Hungary than Merkel or Trump, survey finds - Hungary Today


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Does Rachel Maddow Want Russia Bombed?

Here's why I ask. Maddow devotes many minutes on MSNBC stirring up hatred of Russia in order to establish that there is a vague possibility that President Donald Trump might be corrupted by a foreign government.

But that's already established beyond any doubt. China's state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the largest tenant in Trump Tower. It is also a major lender to Trump. Its rent payments and its loans put Trump in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Every building approval, extension of credit, tax break, subsidy, or waiver of normal rules that Trump's businesses get from numerous foreign governments, state governments, and the U.S. government define him as quintessentially impeachable.

So, if the point is just to document corruption by Trump, why reach and stretch for a speculative possibility, when you've got a solid case sitting in your lap?

A Big Cahuna of a Lacuna

 

 


Obama Admits Gap in Russian ‘Hack’ Case

 

 

 

The hole in the U.S. intelligence community’s “high confidence” about Russia “hacking” Democratic emails has always been who gave the material to WikiLeaks, as President Obama recently admitted.

By Ray McGovern

Obama's Last Chance to Face Down Our Spies


A Demand for Russian ‘Hacking’ Proof

 

More than 20 U.S. intelligence, military and diplomatic veterans are calling on President Obama to release the evidence backing up allegations that Russia aided the Trump campaign – or admit that the proof is lacking.

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: President Barack Obama

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: A Key Issue That Still Needs to be Resolved

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