Midnight in Damascus

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MIDNIGHT IN DAMASCUS

Imagine you are part of a hardcore, heavily weaponized Islamist outfit in Syria.

You would have had until noon this Friday to contact the US and/or Russia military and win a prize; be part of a “cessation of hostilities,” ersatz “ceasefire” that does not apply to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, as well as assorted remnants of the former Free Syrian Army (FSA) who are for all practical purposes embedded with al-Nusra.Compounding the drama, as background noise you have US Secretary of State John Kerry bluffing that Plan B is the partition of Syria anyway. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov once again had to call for order in the court.

So what do you do? You’re a Washington-approved “moderate rebel”. So you re-label yourself as FSA. Will you fool the task force set up by the US and Russia — hotline included — to monitor the “ceasefire”? Well, at least you’ve got a shot. The “ceasefire” mostly applies to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), unspecified “moderate rebels” and the Syrian Kurds. Everyone must de-weaponize by midnight this Friday.

If you’ve skipped the deadline, you may be in serious trouble. Because for the Russians, that qualifies you as an ally of Salafi-jihadis. You will be bombed to smithereens. And there’s nothing Uncle Sam can do to save you.

This positively Dadaist development is what passes for a road map to peace in Syria — even though odds are on Washington and Moscow will be seeing red on virtually every noon and cranny of it.

What this might spell out though goes way beyond Syria; it’s all about the White House, the Pentagon and NATO’s spectacular demise as exceptionalist arbiters and executioners — using Shock and Awe, R2P (responsibility to protect) or straight-up regime change — of geopolitical tangles.

Or is it?

Position of Syrian army at village of Salma and city of Zabadani
© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

A hefty case can be made whether the “ceasefire” benefits Damascus and Moscow — considering the “4+1” (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah) has been heavily on the offense. The “ceasefire” may certainly benefit Washington if the hidden agenda — to re-weaponize gaggles of “moderate rebels” — still applies. After all Pentagon supremo Ash “Empire of Whining” Carter, Marine General Joseph Dunford and CIA Director John Brennan are terminal Russophobes who will never admit defeat.The vague terms of the “cessation of hostilities” do not explicity specify that Washington, London and other members of the US-led-from-behind “coalition” should stop bombing Syrian territory. And there’s nothing about suicide bombs and chemical weapons routinely used by any outfit, from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh to “moderate rebels”, against the civilian Syrian population.

So there’s got to be some heavy-duty horse-trading between Washington and Moscow behind all the shadowplay. And none of it has leaked, at least not yet.

Daddy Stole My Invasion

Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed joint invasion of Syria by Turkey and Saudi Arabia is not going to happen because His Masters’ Voice vetoed it — as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was forced to explain. He essentially admitted that the invasion would need the agreement of all members of the US-led-from-behind coalition fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Unfortunately, they are scared to death of being decimated by the Russian Air Force. So they might as well cozily revert to the “cessation of hostilities” charade.

On what really counts — the Syrian theatre of war — the most pressing issue is whether the SAA will finally be able to control Aleppo and environs, continue to rule in Latakia, and manage to configure Idlib as a Saudi remote-controlled Army of Conquest enclave cut off from almost all sides and depending solely on Ankara, which for its part won’t dare a face-to-face with the Russian Air Force.

It’s no wonder Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan fears this ceasefire business like the plague. Because he’s got nothing; at best a vague promise, extorted by Team Obama, that Syrian Kurds won’t keep advancing to smash either ISIS/ISIL/Daesh along the border, or pockets of al-Qaeda in Syria.In return, Ankara shall desist from its Syrian invasion and that dream of a 10 km “safe zone” inside Syrian territory to keep away the Kurds and facilitate the re-weaponizing of its Islamist proxies. Ankara’s favorite Jabhat al-Nusra, by the way, remains active north of Aleppo, and in the Turkmen regions of Latakia and Azaz (in the Turkish-Syrian border).

What Team Obama seems to have finally understood — and “seems” is the operative word — is that neither ISIS/ISIL/Daesh nor al-Nusra could ever “unify” Syria; assuming 60% of Syria’s population is Sunni, what matters is that over half are secular and do support Damascus against all those Turk/Saudi-supported Salafi-jihadi crazies.

Will this all be enough to assure the success of the “cessation of hostilities” charade? Hardly. Keep calm and carry on (watching). Plan B remains Return of the Living Dead material.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do notnecessarily reflect the official position of UNRULY HEARTS.

 

Unholy Alliance: Why US Hawks, Islamists are Bummed Out by Syrian Ceasefire
Ceasefire Agreement to ‘Radically’ Change Syria, Middle East
Nearly 100 Rebel Groups Sign Up to Syrian Ceasefire Deal
WikiLeaks’ Saudi Cables Reveal Riyadh Wanted to Pressure Russia on Syria
Tags:
cessation of hostilities, forecast, military, ceasefire, Daesh, United States, Damascus, Russia, Syria

25 Recent Events in Ukraine the U.S. Wants You To Forget

 

WAR MIND

WAR MIND

Remember when our rulers told us that regimes like Saddam, Gaddafi, and Assad were the epitome of evil and must be liberated because they allegedly killed their own citizens? Probably not. Americans have short memories.

I only remind you to let you know that the U.S. and other Western governments have reversed their stance on regimes killing their own citizens. They now fully endorse and support this rule-with-an-iron-fist so long as the victims can be successfully labeled “separatists” or “terrorists”.

In fact, they want in on the action. The Pentagon began wargaming this week with the regime in Ukraine on how best to kill pesky citizens in Eastern Ukraine who oppose the U.S. Vice President’s son stealing and fracking shale gas on their land.

People who defend their land and families are called “terrorists” when imperial powers want their resources. In turn, Western rulers call violent coups “duly elected” if they pledge allegiance to the IMF.

This situation is creating friction among the world’s superpowers not seen since the Cold War. Obama recently expressed concern that ”The old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite where we need to be in terms of a new order.” Later in the speech he blamed uncooperative nations (read Russia) for standing in the way of the New World Order.

It seems if Russia doesn’t get on board with the Western-led world order, these powers are destined to clash in a West vs. East showdown over international banking and the control of gas supplies.

Here are 25 recent events, or data points, that our rulers hope we forget when they blame the collapse of the old world order on Russia:

  1. US spent $5 billion to destabilize Ukraine, not to mention the millions NGOs spent on “opposition groups“. The State Department was even caught playing kingmaker in Ukraine in secret recordings during the takeover.
  2. November 21st, 2013 – Ukraine’s President abandons an agreement on closer trade ties with EU, instead seeking closer cooperation with Russia. Violent pro-EU protests begin to organize.
  3. December 17th, 2013 – Putin offers to buy $15bn of Ukrainian debt and discount the price of Russian gas by about a third.
  4. February 2014 – Violence of coup peaks on the 20th. On 22nd protesters took control of Kiev and Parliament votes to remove president from power.
  5. February 23rd – New interim government named, replaces head of Ukraine central bank.
  6. March 6th – Obama signs national emergency executive order to punish Ukrainians that ”undermine democratic processes and institutions” of the coup government in Ukraine. You can’t make this stuff up.
  7. March 16th – Crimea holds voter referendum to split from coup government in Kiev and ally with Russia, passes by over 95%.
  8. March 20th – Obama announces more unilateral sanctions on Russia.
  9. March 24th – Leaked tape where former prime minister of Ukraine and darling of the West, Yulia Tymoshenko, calls for wiping out all Russians with nuclear weapons.
  10. April 29th – Obama unilaterally expands sanctions on Russia.
  11. April 30th – Newly installed regime in Kiev receives $17 billion from the IMF for “economic reforms”. (December deal from Russia with better terms for Ukrainian people discarded.)
  12. May 3rd – Obama calls Kiev’s coup government “duly elected“.
  13. May 11th – Eastern Ukraine votes for independence from Kiev and for self-rule.  Kiev mobilizes military to punish citizens for disloyalty.
  14. May 15th – US Vice President’s son Hunter Biden named to the board of Ukraine gas company.
  15. May 21st – Russia and China sign historic $400 billion “Holy Grail” gas deal not using petrodollars.
  16. May 27th – Second day in office, new Ukraine president launches military ”anti-terrorist operation“ against eastern Ukrainians.
  17. June 3rd – NATO pledges military support for Ukraine to battle dissidents.
  18. June 16th – Ukraine refuses to pay its gas bill to Moscow’s Gazprom, Russia cuts off gas.
  19. June 26th – Gazprom agrees to drop the dollar to settle contracts with China.
  20. June 27th – The EU signs an association agreement with Ukraine, along with Georgia and Moldova
  21. July 15th – BRICS nations fund international development bank to compete with the IMF, World Bank, and the dollar itself.
  22. July 17th – Commercial airliner MH17 shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine. Appears to be classic false flag event after the West immediately blamed Russia citing sketchy YouTube videos.
  23. July 2014 – US announces yet more sanctions on RussiaEU and Canada both join in calls for more sanctions for Russia.
  24. July 2014 – Joe Biden’s son’s company prepares to drill shale gas in east Ukraine.
  25. July 2014 – Pentagon creates military plan to clear path for gas drilling in rebel-held areas of Ukraine.
I’m sure I missed a few.  Feel free to fill in the blanks in the comment section below.

The so called business tycoon Donald Trump announced his presidential bid on June 16, 2015

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Billionaire Donald Trump

Trump said immigrants from Mexico bring mostly drugs and crime to the United States, characterizing them as “rapists.”

Several business entities, including the Macy’s department store and two television stations cut ties with Trump. Moreover, the New York government put Trump’s contracts with the city under review.

Almost 60 percent of Republicans now favor Trump as the next US president, according to a poll released by The Washington Post and ABC News on Wednesday.

Frontrunner among Republican Party presidential candidates Donald Trump has genuinely surprised his electorate, as the marketing team that runs his social media account posted on Twitter a collage depicting an American flag, White House and dollar bills alongside with marching Nazi soldiers.

The montage of the US flag merged with Trump’s face, banknotes and armed soldiers marching under the White House appeared on the mogul’s Twitter account.  But the illustrated soldiers apparently looked like Waffen SS fighters, Trump’s followers noted.
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The next president of the United States? Are you kidding?

“These guys are dressed as late (1944-45) WW2 Waffen-SS infantry. Nothing to debate here. Way to go, Trump!” John Schindler, a former national security affairs professor at the US Naval War College, tweeted on his microblog.

If this man is the next president of the United States, will the last one out, please shut the door!

BIG THANKS!

Aww so sweet… Congrats to the new Ukrainian Führer

On Hitler’s Birthday, U.S. Will Begin Training Ukraine’s Far-right National Guard

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Perhaps the Defense Department’s PR staff could have picked a better day.

On Tuesday, The Associated Press reported The United States plans to send soldiers to Ukraine later this month to train the country’s national guard, which includes groups expressly espousing support for far-right and Nazi ideology.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the units to be trained include the Azov Battalion, a volunteer force that has attracted criticism for its far-right sentiments including brandishing an emblem widely used in Nazi Germany.

As the BBC would describe the Azov Battalion last December:

The volunteer Azov Battalion is a case in point.

Run by the extremist Patriot of Ukraine organisation, which considers Jews and other minorities “sub-human” and calls for a white, Christian crusade against them, it sports three Nazi symbols on its insignia: a modified Wolf’s Hook, a black sun (or “Hakensonne”) and the title Black Corps, which was used by the Waffen SS. Azov is just one of more than 50 volunteer groups fighting in the east, the vast majority of which are not extremist, yet it seems to enjoy special backing from some top officials.

That the United States is supporting neo-Nazi factions is nothing particularly new. Indeed, Alternet’s Max Blumenthal (as well as other outlets) have  documented this fact for well over a year. What is of note is that (A) the United States military is now doing so openly and seemingly without much shame and (B) deciding, in a perverse irony, to begin this latest partnership on Hitler’s Birthday. As the AP would explain:

Avakov said the training will begin April 20 at a base in western Ukraine near the Polish border and would involve about 290 American paratroopers and some 900 Ukrainian guardsmen.

Surely, someone in either the Ukrainian or American chain of command or in the Pentagon’s PR department could see why this was a bad idea, no?

 

Playing Chicken with Nuclear War

Exclusive: U.S.-Russian tensions keep escalating – now surrounding the murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov – yet almost no one on the American side seems to worry about the possibility that the tough-guy rhetoric and proxy war in Ukraine might risk a nuclear conflagration, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry (Updated with Washington Post editorial on March 3.)

The United States and Russia still maintain vast nuclear arsenals of mutual assured destruction, putting the future of humanity in jeopardy every instant. But an unnerving nonchalance has settled over the American side which has become so casual about the risk of cataclysmic war that the West’s propaganda and passions now ignore Russian fears and sensitivities.

A swaggering goofiness has come to dominate how the United States reacts to Russia, with American politicians and journalists dashing off tweets and op-eds, rushing to judgment about the perfidy of Moscow’s leaders, blaming them for almost anything and everything.

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A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

These days, playing with nuclear fire is seen as a sign of seriousness and courage. Anyone who urges caution and suggests there might be two sides to the U.S.-Russia story is dismissed as a wimp or a stooge. A what-me-worry “group think” has taken hold across the U.S. ideological spectrum. Fretting about nuclear annihilation is so 1960s.

So, immediately after last Friday night’s murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, the West’s media began insinuating that Russian President Vladimir Putin was somehow responsible even though there was no evidence or logic connecting him to the shooting, just 100 meters from the Kremlin, probably the last place Russian authorities would pick for a hit.

But that didn’t stop the mainstream U.S. news media from casting blame on Putin. For instance, the New York Times published an op-ed by anti-Putin author Martha Gessen saying: “The scariest thing about the murder of Boris Nemtsov is that he himself did not scare anyone,” suggesting that his very irrelevance was part of a sinister political message.

Though no one outside the actual killers seems to know yet why Nemtsov was gunned down, Gessen took the case several steps further explaining how – while Putin probably didn’t finger Nemtsov for death – the Russian president was somehow still responsible. She wrote:

“In all likelihood no one in the Kremlin actually ordered the killing — and this is part of the reason Mr. Nemtsov’s murder marks the beginning of yet another new and frightening period in Russian history. The Kremlin has recently created a loose army of avengers who believe they are acting in the country’s best interests, without receiving any explicit instructions. Despite his lack of political clout, Mr. Nemtsov was a logical first target for this menacing force.”

So, rather than wait for actual evidence to emerge, the Times published Gessen’s conclusions and then let her spin off some even more speculative interpretations. Yet, basing speculation upon speculation is almost always a bad idea, assuming you care about fairness and accuracy.

Remember how after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, some terrorism “experts” not only jumped to the false conclusion that the attack was a case of Islamic terrorism but that Oklahoma was chosen to send a message to Americans that no part of the country was safe. But the terrorist turned out to be a white right-wing extremist lashing out at the federal government.

While surely hard-line Russian nationalists, who resented Nemtsov’s support for the U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime in Kiev, should be included on a list of early suspects, there are a number of other possibilities that investigators must also consider, including business enemies, jealous rivals and even adversaries within Russia’s splintered opposition – though that last one has become a target of particular ridicule in the West.

Yet, during my years at the Associated Press, one of my articles was about a CIA “psychological operations” manual which an agency contractor prepared for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noting the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a “martyr” for the cause. I’m in no way suggesting that such a motive was in play regarding Nemtsov’s slaying but it’s not as if this idea is entirely preposterous either.

My point is that even in this age of Twitter when everyone wants to broadcast his or her personal speculation about whodunit to every mystery, it would be wise for news organizations to resist the temptation. Surely, if parallel circumstances occurred inside the United States, such guess work would be rightly dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”

Nuclear Mischief

Plus, this latest rush to judgment isn’t about some relatively innocuous topic – like, say, how some footballs ended up under-inflated in an NFL game – this situation involves how the United States will deal with Russia, which possesses some 8,000 nuclear warheads — roughly the same size as the U.S. arsenal — while the two countries have around 1,800 missiles on high-alert, i.e., ready to launch at nearly a moment’s notice.

Over the weekend, I participated in a conference on nuclear dangers sponsored by the Helen Caldicott Foundation in New York City. On my Saturday afternoon panel was Seth Baum of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute who offered a sobering look at how the percentage chances of a nuclear war – though perhaps low at any given moment – add up over time to quite likely if not inevitable. He made the additional observation that those doomsday odds rise at times of high tensions between the United States and Russia.

As Baum noted, at such crisis moments, the people responsible for the U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons are more likely to read a possible computer glitch or some other false alarm as a genuine launch and are thus more likely to push their own nuclear button.

In other words, it makes good sense to avoid a replay of the Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse by edging U.S. nuclear weapons up against Russia’s borders, especially when U.S. politicians and commentators are engaging in Cold War-style Russia-bashing. Baiting the Russian bear may seem like great fun to the tough-talking politicians in Washington or the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post but this hostile rhetoric could be taken more seriously in Moscow.

When I spoke to the nuclear conference, I noted how the U.S. media/political system had helped create just that sort of crisis in Ukraine, with every “important” person jumping in on the side of the Kiev coup-makers in February 2014 when they overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

Since then, nearly every detail of that conflict has been seen through the prism of “our side good/their side bad.” Facts that put “our side” in a negative light, such as the key role played by neo-Nazis and the Kiev regime’s brutal “anti-terrorism operation,” are downplayed or ignored.

Conversely, anything that makes the Ukrainians who are resisting Kiev’s authority look bad gets hyped and even invented, such as one New York Times’ lead story citing photos that supposedly proved Russian military involvement but quickly turned out to be fraudulent. [SeeNYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop.”]

At pivotal moments in the crisis, such as the Feb. 20, 2014 sniper fire that killed both police and protesters and the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 killing 298 passengers and crew, the U.S. political/media establishment has immediately pinned the blame on Yanukovych, the ethnic Russian rebels who are resisting his ouster, or Putin.

Then, when evidence emerged going in the opposite direction — toward “our side” — a studied silence followed, allowing the earlier propaganda to stay in place as part of the preferred storyline. [See, for instance,President Gollum’s ‘Precious’ Secrets.”]

A Pedestrian Dispute

One of the points of my talk was that the Ukrainian crisis emerged from a fairly pedestrian dispute, i.e., plans for expanding economic ties with the European Union while not destroying the historic business relationship with Russia. In November 2013, Yanukovych backed away from signing an EU association agreement when experts in Kiev announced that it would blow a $160 billion hole in Ukraine’s economy. He asked for more time.

But Yanukovych’s decision disappointed many western Ukrainians who favored the EU agreement. Tens of thousands poured into Kiev’s Maidan square to protest. The demonstrations then were seized upon by far-right Ukrainian political forces who have long detested the country’s ethnic Russians in the east and began dispatching organized “sotins” of 100 fighters each to begin firebombing police and seizing government buildings.

As the violence grew worse, U.S. neoconservatives also saw an opportunity, including Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who told the protesters the United States was on their side, and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who passed out cookies to the protesters and plotted with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt on who would become the new leaders of Ukraine. [See [NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.]

Thus, a very manageable political problem in Ukraine was allowed to expand into a proxy war between nuclear-armed United States and Russia. Added to it were intense passions and extensive propaganda. In the West, the Ukraine crisis was presented as a morality play of people who “share our values” pitted against conniving Russians and their Hitler-like president Putin.

In Official Washington, anyone who dared suggest compromise was dismissed as a modern-day Neville Chamberlain practicing “appeasement.” Everyone “serious” was set on stopping Putin now by shipping sophisticated weapons to the Ukrainian government so it could do battle against “Russian aggression.”

The war fever was such that no one raised an eyebrow when Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told Canada’s CBC Radio last month that the West should no longer fear fighting nuclear-armed Russia and that Ukraine wanted arms for a “full-scale war” against Moscow.

“Everybody is afraid of fighting with a nuclear state. We are not anymore, in Ukraine,” Prystaiko said. “However dangerous it sounds, we have to stop [Putin] somehow. For the sake of the Russian nation as well, not just for the Ukrainians and Europe. … What we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little.” [See  “Ready for Nuclear War over Ukraine?”]

Instead of condemning Prystaiko’s recklessness, more U.S. officials began lining up in support of sending lethal military hardware to Ukraine so it could fight Russia, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who said he favored the idea though it might provoke a “negative reaction” from Moscow.

Russian Regime Change

Even President Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders who have yet to publicly endorse arming the Kiev coup-makers enjoy boasting about how much pain they are inflicting on the Russian economy and its government. In effect, there is a U.S. strategy of making the Russian economy “scream,” a first step toward a larger neocon goal to achieve “regime change” in Moscow.

Another point I made in my talk on Saturday was how the neocons are good at drafting “regime change” plans that sound great when discussed at a think tank or outlined on an op-ed page but often fail to survive in the real world, such as their 2003 plan for a smooth transition in Iraq to replace Saddam Hussein with someone of their choosing – except that it didn’t work out that way.

Perhaps the greatest danger from the new neocon dream for “regime change” in Moscow is that whoever follows Putin might not be the pliable yes man that the neocons envision, but a fierce Russian nationalist who would suddenly have control of their nuclear launch codes and might decide that it’s time for the United States to make concessions or face annihilation.

On March 3, the Washington Post’s neocon editorialists emphasized the need for ousting Putin as they praised Nemtsov and other anti-Putin activists who have urged an escalation of Western pressure on Russia. The Post wrote: “They say he [Putin] can be stopped only by steps that decisively raise the cost of his military aggression and cripple the financial system that sustains his regime.”

The Post then added its own suggestion that Putin was behind Nemtsov’s murder and its own hope that Putin might be soon be removed, saying: “It’s not known who murdered Mr. Nemtsov, and it probably won’t be as long as Mr. Putin remains in power.”

Yet, what I find truly remarkable about the Ukraine crisis is that it was always relatively simple to resolve: Before the coup, Yanukovych agreed to reduced powers and early elections so he could be voted out of office. Then, either he or some new leadership could have crafted an economic arrangement that expanded ties to the EU while not severing them with Russia.

Even after the coup, the new regime could have negotiated a federalized system that granted more independence to the disenfranchised ethnic Russians of eastern Ukraine, rather than launch a brutal “anti-terrorist operation” against those resisting the new authorities. But Official Washington’s “group think” has been single-minded: only bellicose anti-Russian sentiments are permitted and no suggestions of accommodation are allowed.

Still, spending time this weekend with people like Helen Caldicott, an Australian physician who has committed much of her life to campaigning against nuclear weapons, reminded me that this devil-may-care attitude toward a showdown with Russia, which has gripped the U.S. political/media establishment, is not universal. Not everyone agrees with Official Washington’s nonchalance about playing a tough-guy game of nuclear chicken.

As part of the conference, Caldicott asked attendees to stay around for a late-afternoon showing of the 1959 movie, “On the Beach,” which tells the story of the last survivors from a nuclear war as they prepare to die when the radioactive cloud that has eliminated life everywhere else finally reaches Australia. A mystery in the movie is how the final war began, who started it and why – with the best guess being that some radar operator somewhere thought he saw something and someone reacted in haste.

Watching the movie reminded me that there was a time when Americans were serious about the existential threat from U.S.-Russian nuclear weapons, when there were films like “Dr. Strangelove,” “Fail Safe,” and “On the Beach.” Now, there’s a cavalier disinterest in those risks, a self-confidence that one can put his or her political or journalistic career first and just assume that some adult will step in before the worst happens.

Whether some adults show up to resolve the Ukraine crisis remains to be seen. It’s also unclear if U.S. pundits and pols can restrain themselves from more rushes to judgment, as in the case of Boris Nemtsov. But a first step might be for the New York Times and other “serious” news organizations to return to traditional standards of journalism and check out the facts before jumping to a conclusion.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

USA raises the question about artistic freedom of expression in UN

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“The United States would like to discuss the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, ‎particularly focusing on artistic expression and creativity,” said the American Ambassador Keith Harper in a statement at the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. He continued:

“Artistic expression and creativity as a form of freedom of expression is fundamental to the development of vibrant cultures and the functioning of democratic societies. Artistic expression has given us some of the great social commentary on humanity and the human condition.”

We are a richer human race for having the genius of Shakespeare, Shostakovich, Rumi, Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frida Kahlo, Chinua Achebe, and Nadine Gordimer – just to name a few. Today, contemporary artists like Ai Weiwei and Salif Keita are inspiring and challenging us.

The right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative expression, is enshrined under article 19 of the ICCPR. States Parties to the ICESCR recognize the right, under Article 15, to benefit from the protection of interests resulting from one’s artistic production. Artistic expression is critical to the human spirit.

At HRC-23, we welcomed the report by the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, which addressed the right to freedom of expression and creativity.

Artistic expressions and creations have come under particular attack because they convey specific messages and articulate symbolic values in a powerful way. A satirist provoking laughter and derision is as powerful as a writer urging change.

It is little wonder that dictators seek to silence art.

Freedom of opinion and expression is enshrined in the UDHR and the ICCPR, and the United States defends this right vigorously wherever it is threatened. Likewise, the United States takes seriously any threats to the right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative expression, and we look forward to engaging on this issue further.”

The statement of American ambassador Keith Harper about artistic expression and creativity as a form of freedom of expression, seems to be directed to the nation his country considers an “enemy”: Russia, as well as all the promotion to bring a punk duo  of anti-Putin lousy performers to the spotlight.

Pussy Rioters would be arrested in any civilized place if they do what they habitually do in Putin’s face.

Wikipedia entry for Pussy Riot reads:
“They stage unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, which are edited into music videos and posted on the Internet. Their lyrical themes include feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between Putin and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Unauthorized, provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, huh? That surely is a democratic way to express opposition to “dictator” Putin. I suppose that if Pussy Riot did unauthorized guerrilla performances in unusual public places like an airport, they would meet worse fate States side.

A bunch of mal-eleve’s that managed to get the New YorkTimes to give them a forum for venting their angst for President Vladimir Putin.

The Pussy Riot may be a legitimate protest. Still the amount of publicity it receives in the press is exaggerated [now we understand why]. Is it just gloating about Russia’s and Putin’s problems? One wonders….

Now it is Putin’s fault that the games are safe from the terrorists who made it known to everyone that it is their plan to disrupt the Olympic games by killing the athletes and visitors? Initially there were multiple complains that the games are not secured enough. Now, they are too secured??? I guess for some people who only want to see Russia in the negative light, there is no way to please them. Also, remember what the president of the IOC said during the opening ceremony. Don’t play politics on the backs of the athletes who came here to compete. It is their time to be in the spotlight.

A few voices here aired skepticism regarding the authenticity of the violence apparently directed against these women by a video. But the video attributed to the AP and posted on YouTube doesn’t look staged to this skeptic.

Again,  the Times didn’t do some fact-checking on this incident and reported back to us so we can know whether President Putin is indeed sending out thugs to beat up angry women with an attitude?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uEmwtJWldQ

 

If there is a ban, live with it. There are bans on what people can do in and around the White House or the Capitol building. If you want to make a political speech about LGBT issues, do it where such expressions are welcome and tolerated.

If you need to protest, if your argument is valid and strong, you would not need to piggy back on the Olympics or any other venue. And please, if you want to be taken seriously, do not produce an obvious video lie. Horsewhips? Really? How gullible does the media think we are?

It is amusing that Pussy Riot received so much attention in the past. At present time who remembers them?  Their magazine is totally ignored.

Every society has its malcontents. But they can’t be allowed to disrupt the rights of millions to enjoy the games. Olympics are all about sports. It is fair to athletes who prepare hard to perform their best and enjoy a moment of glory and satisfaction that hard work has paid off. Pussy Riot has no right to disturb the games, nullify all the hard work and rob them of chance to show their skills and athleticism.

The games are for two weeks in 4 years. There will be 206 weeks for politics.

If you have only singled out Sochi, then you protest in vain. Did you watch the Beijing Olympics? The government cleared the city of homeless migrant workers, who worked for their daily rice bowl slaving 24/7. Did you watch the Salt Lake City Games? The local chairman at the time primed his pockets to lead a future presidential campaign, with “binders full of women.”

No Olympics in the last decades, given the cost to bid and then build the arenas, is a fair business deal. Much of it is based on baksheesh and creates graft, like in most nations of the world. And yet, I can’t help but support the athletes. So I watch.

You have a right to an opinion, to criticized and explain your agenda. But you  staged the Cossack Whipping Scene as part of the music video you were making, which came out immediately with whip-clips intercut. It was very, very unconvincing, and all you really demonstrated was the enormous gullibility of the Western media.

Interesting. I just watched it, and the Cossacks paid no attention to the cameras, which seems odd.

Enough with the rambling rants of wannabe revolutionaries and Baby Boomers hungry to show their counterculture credentials, lousy performers who can’t sing  disrespecting an Orthodox Church, and others intent on despoiling the games with in your face servings of their political views on an unwilling Russian public. The Olympic Games are the opportunity for the world’s athletes to strut their stuff in an atmosphere of sportsmanship; it should not be used as a political platform. So you don’t like President Vladimir Putin but he is trying to showcase Russia like any head of state hosting the games. Not many people outside of Germany liked Hitler but athletes showed up at Munich in 1936 and debunked the myth of Teutonic racial superiority by successfully competing at the games. This is how you bring foster pride for your country.

The pair flew into Berlin Monday after visiting New York to promote their “new prison rights foundation”, where they played a gig with Madonna(!). Appearing at a short press conference in Berlin, they said they have received “several offers” for “film projects” that were never confirmed.  The duo couldn’t contain their happiness for the supposedly offers of a Hollywood movie that never materialized.  Tolonnikova  stated that the movie would be something like “Star Wars.”  Brainy huh?

They also announced they had no plans to run for president themselves(!), but said they might seek elected office in Moscow, where they live. The two said they would consider working with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s wealthiest man, released a few days before they were after serving most of his 10-year sentence for theft and fraud. From lousy performers with Hollywood dreams to politicians…

The duo said their collective Pussy Riot is not a band, that they don’t know how to sing, but they can scream which is what is needed to deliver their message to Putin and his supporters. In a red carpet?

These bogus activists need to be taken to the Guantanamo prison and introduced to the many prisoners who are kept in solitude, without a trial date, and forced to wear masks so they can’t see what’s around them.

These pseudo intellectuals took part in an event to read a list of academic quotes to make believe they can save the world from President Putin. They have deceived many people into thinking Pussy Riot is “changing the people,” and want to run for office in Moscow.

Any person, who, at being 8 months pregnant, performs a multiple partner full intercourse orgy in public needs to see a psychiatrist immediately before she rejoins society. Needless to say your “artistic expression”, the Vaginal Liberation of Food.  The only thing Pussy Riot is exposing is themselves advertising a delusional agenda that “sideshow” Western musicians and actors to glom onto the spotlight

Prof Mark Levine at UC Irvine, hit the nail on the head in his essay about Pussy Riot.  “There are hundreds of artists who perform under threat to their freedom and lives, who also deserve our solidarity.” Levine correctly points out “Western artists can and should support their Russian comrades. But the support received by Pussy Riot is sadly an aberration.”


 

» Mission of the United States in Geneva, Switzerland – 13 March 2015:
Freedom of Expression, Including Artistic Expression, is a Right Enshrined in ICCPR
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America at the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council as delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper.