Never Mind The Real Russia, It’s All about Trump

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By Ann Garrison for Black Agenda Report – In American politics, Donald Trump has been so effectively identified with Russia that hostility or friendship toward Russia is now driven by feelings about Trump. David Swanson, founder of World Beyond War and author of “War is a Lie” and “War Is Never Just,” was on a friendship tour in Russia when a Tiki torch-bearing crowd protested the removal of a Confederate monument in his hometown and chanted “Russia is our friend.” I spoke to David Swanson upon his return. Ann Garrison: On May 13, in your hometown—Charlottesville, Virginia—a Tiki torch-bearing crowd protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The protesters chanted “Blood and Soil,” a well-known Nazi slogan invoking the bloodline of a people and its territory, and “Russia is our friend.” You were in Russia at that time on a friendship tour, so could you tell us how Russians perceived this? David Swanson: At that time, few of them had heard about it, and I hope that remains the case. I did discuss it with some, and I mentioned it immediately to a Russian friend I was with. He objected, “But we didn’t have slavery; we had serfdom. It’s not the same.”

Irrefutable Proof: Russian Election Meddling Documented!

The Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin: Did the Russians hack U.S. election databases? (Yahoo News photo illustration, photos: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters, Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters, AP, AP)

By Fred Gardner for Counter Punch – For months we have all been force-fed a story few of us can digest about the hacking of the Democratic Party’s email servers, presumably by Russians commanded by Vladimir Putin himself. The pundits say, “Nothing like this happens in Russia without Putin’s approval,” as if they actually knew what was done by who. It is unclear how the contents of the DNC emails are supposed to have swayed the US electorate. Was anyone shocked to learn that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign managers were manipulative, lame, and fearful of Bernie Sanders? The current brouhaha is utterly trivial compared to the extreme, direct interference by US government-connected campaign professionals in the election that solidified oligarchy in the former Soviet Union.* Ahoy, out there in the United States of Amnesia… Does anyone remember when Time Magazine was influential? A team of US political consultants operating clandestinely in Moscow was paid $250,000 plus expenses to help a very unpopular Boris Yeltsin get re-elected as Russia’s president in 1996.

Gorbachev Warns Of Growing Danger

Ukraine’s anti-Russian President Petro Poroshenko speaking to the Atlantic Council in 2014. (Photo credit: Atlantic Council)

By Rick Sterling for Consurtium News – A group of Americans visiting Russia heard dire warnings from ex-Soviet President Gorbachev that the tensions between the U.S. and Russia are creating a dangerous situation for the world, reports Rick Sterling, who is on the trip. The former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, is 87 years old but still sharp. He told a delegation of 30 Americans in a two-week visit to Russia organized by the Center for Citizen Initiatives, “This is a time to be concerned. We should worry about relations between our two countries. … Things cannot continue as they are.” President Gorbachev recalled his initial meetings with President Reagan, which came after six years of poor relations and hostility. In the first summit meeting, Reagan issued a long list of accusations against the Soviet Union; Gorbachev responded with his own accusations against the U.S. After that meeting Gorbachev said “He’s not a hawk; he’s a dinosaur” while Reagan said about Gorbachev “He’s a die-hard communist.” At the next summit meeting, Reagan continued lecturing Gorbachev. After listening for 15 minutes. Gorbachev stopped Reagan saying, “That’s enough. If you want to talk as equals we can go very far. Differences can be bridged. Problems can be resolved. But as equals.”

The Russian Hacking Fiasco

The Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin: Did the Russians hack U.S. election databases? (Yahoo News photo illustration, photos: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters, Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters, AP, AP)

By Mike Whitney for Information Clearing House – There’s no proof that Russian officials or Russian agents colluded with members of the Trump campaign. There’s no proof that Russia provided material support of any kind for the Trump campaign or that Russian agents hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails or that Russian officials provided Wikileaks with emails that were intended to sabotage Hillary’s chances to win the election. So far, no one in any of the 17 US intelligence agencies has stepped forward and verified the claims of Russian meddling or produced a scintilla of hard evidence that Russia was in anyway involved in the 2016 elections. No proof means no proof. It means that the people and organizations that are making these uncorroborated claims have no basis for legal action, no presumption of wrongdoing, and no grounds for prosecution. They have nothing. Zilch. Their claims, charges and accusations are like the soap bubbles we give to our children and grandchildren. The brightly-colored bubbles wobble across the sky for a minute or two and then, Poof, they vanish into the ether. The claims of Russia hacking are like these bubbles. They are empty, unsubstantiated rumors completely devoid of substance. Poof.

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

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By David Swanson for Lets Try Democracy – 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.

The ‘Soft Coup’ Of RussiaGate

Trump and Comey NBC News

By Robert Parry for Consortium News. Russia-gate, the hazy suggestion that Putin put Trump in the White House and that Trump is a Putin “puppet” (as Clinton claimed), became the principal weapon to use in destroying Trump’s presidency. However, besides the risks to U.S. stability that would come from an Establishment-driven “soft coup,” there is the additional danger of ratcheting up tensions so high with nuclear-armed Russia that this extreme Russia-bashing takes on a life – or arguably many, many deaths – of its own.

The U.S. Behavior That Concerns Russia

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By David Swanson for Lets Try Democracy – 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.

Why Washington Is Terrified Of Russia, China

AFP 2017/ HOW HWEE YOUNG

By Pepe Escobar for Sputnik News – Enveloped in layers of subtle sophistication, there’s no way to know the deeper terms Beijing and Moscow have agreed upon behind those innumerable Putin-Xi Jinping high-level meetings. Diplomats, off the record, occasionally let it slip there may have been a coded message delivered to NATO to the effect that if one of the strategic members is seriously harassed — be it in Ukraine or in the South China Sea – NATO will have to deal with both. For now, let’s concentrate on two instances of how the partnership works in practice, and why Washington is clueless on how to deal with it. Exhibit A is the imminent visit to Moscow by the Director of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Li Zhanshu, invited by the head of the Presidential Administration in the Kremlin, Anton Vaino. Beijing stressed the talks will revolve around – what else — the Russia-China strategic partnership, “as previously agreed on by the countries’ leaders.” This happens just after China’s First Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, one of the top seven in the Politburo and one of the drivers of China’s economic policies, was received in Moscow by President Putin.

The U.S., Not Russia, Arms Jihadists Worldwide

1970; Emory Douglas (CA); Black Panther Newspaper

By Glen Ford for Black Agenda Report – If the United States were not a superpower, it would be the joke of the planet, a nation whose government tells the most outrageous and ridiculous lies — and may actually believe them — and whose corporate media report those lies as gospel truth. The latest whopper comes from the mouth of James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, who claims the Russians are providing weapons to the Taliban, in Afghanistan. The charge is insane. If there is one major power in the world that has consistently fought against Islamic jihadists, in Afghanistan and everywhere else, it is Russia. And, the major power most responsible for the rise of the Taliban and other jihadist outfits, is the United States, which teamed with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to create the international jihadist network in order to force the Soviets out of Afghanistan, almost 40 years ago. Despite that history, beginning in 2009, the Russians allowed the U.S. to use Russian airspace to supply American troops in Afghanistan. It was a vital lifeline for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, which could not be adequately supplied through Pakistan. The Russians were hoping that the new American president, Barack Obama, would make an honest effort to improve relations with Moscow…

Why Washington Is Terrified Of Russia, China

A man sits in front of a mural in Caracas, Venezuela | Photo: Reuters

By Pepe Escobar for Information Clearing House – April 22, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – “Sputnik” – The Russia-China strategic partnership, uniting the Pentagon’s avowed top two “existential” threats to America, does not come with a formal treaty signed with pomp, circumstance – and a military parade. Enveloped in layers of subtle sophistication, there’s no way to know the deeper terms Beijing and Moscow have agreed upon behind those innumerable Putin-Xi Jinping high-level meetings. Diplomats, off the record, occasionally let it slip there may have been a coded message delivered to NATO to the effect that if one of the strategic members is seriously harassed — be it in Ukraine or in the South China Sea – NATO will have to deal with both. For now, let’s concentrate on two instances of how the partnership works in practice, and why Washington is clueless on how to deal with it. Exhibit A is the imminent visit to Moscow by the Director of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Li Zhanshu, invited by the head of the Presidential Administration in the Kremlin, Anton Vaino.

Julian Assange Strikes Back At CIA Director And Talks Trump, Russia, And Hillary Clinton

Elise Swain for The Intercept

By Jeremy Scahill for The Intercept – WIKILEAKS FOUNDER JULIAN ASSANGE is hitting back at Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo following a speech last week in which Pompeo accused WikiLeaks of being a “hostile nonstate intelligence agency” operating outside of the protections of the First Amendment. “We can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for,” Pompeo declared, adding an ominous assertion: “It ends now.” Speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been living since June 2012, Assange said Pompeo appeared to be issuing a threat. “So how does he propose to conduct this ending? He didn’t say. But the CIA is only in the business of collecting information, kidnapping people, and assassinating people. So, it’s quite a menacing statement that he does need to clarify,” said Assange.

What Russia-Gate Has Wrought

Green Party leader Jill Stein and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn attending a dinner marking the RT network’s tenth anniversary in Moscow, December 2015, sitting at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

By Robert Parry for Consortium News – Since Trump took those actions – in accordance with the neocon desires for more “regime change” in the Middle East and a costly New Cold War with Russia – Russia-gate has almost vanished from the news.On April 4, Trump fully capitulated to the neoconservative bash-Russia narrative amid dubious claims about a chemical attack in Syria. On April 6, Trump fired off 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase; he also restored the neocon demand for “regime change” in Syria; and he alleged that Russia was possibly complicit in the supposed chemical attack. I did find a little story in the lower right-hand corner of page A12 of Saturday’s New York Times about a still-eager Democratic congressman, Mike Quigley of Illinois, who spent a couple of days in Cyprus which attracted his interest because it is a known site for Russian money-laundering, but he seemed to leave more baffled than when he arrived. “The more I learn, the more complex, layered and textured I see the Russia issue is – and that reinforces the need for professional full-time investigators,” Quigley said, suggesting that the investigation’s failure to strike oil is not that the holes are dry but that he needs better drill bits.

A Multi-level Analysis Of US Cruise Missile Attack On Syria

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By The Saker. I don’t think that anybody seriously believes that Assad or anybody else in the Syrian government really ordered a chemical weapons attack on anybody. To believe that it would require you to find the following sequence logical: first, Assad pretty much wins the war against Daesh which is in full retreat. Then, the US declares that overthrowing Assad is not a priority anymore (up to here this is all factual and true). Then, Assad decides to use weapons he does not have. He decides to bomb a location with no military value, but with lots of kids and cameras. Then, when the Russians demand a full investigation, the Americans strike as fast as they can before this idea gets any support. And now the Americans are probing a possible Russian role in this so-called attack. Frankly, if you believe any of that, you should immediately stop reading and go back to watching TV.

Newsletter: Dangerous War In Korea Brewing

South Korean anti-war protest

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. North Korea, which has borders with Russia and China, is in Trump’s cross hairs and a US military attack risks a larger war. The US public is being given partial and inaccurate information and is largely uninformed about the country. The rhetoric from the Trump administration threatening a military attack on North Korea comes at the end of a massive military exercise that included mock nuclear attacks by the United States and a mock assassination of the North Korean leader. The United States claims the exercises are because North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, but North Korea has offered to stop building such weapons if the United States stops their military exercises that regularly practice attacking their country. President Trump has refused, as did President Obama before him. In fact, both presidents have escalated their military exercises on North Korea. This is a time for a renewed and independent peace movement. The movement must understand the US has a bi-partisan problem of two parties controlled by Wall Street and war.

Closer To World War III: Russia & Iran Warn Military Response Next Time

The Trump Administration is seeking to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the Obama Administration's climate policies. Credit: Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

Following Friday’s cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase, in retaliation for the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun earlier in the week, the alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a joint statement threatening action in response to “any breach of red lines from whoever it is”. “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well,” the group’s joint command centre said. Syria missile strike: Trump calls on ‘all civilised nations to end the slaughter and bloodshed’ US President Donald Trump said the strike on al Shayrat airbase, near Homs, with some 60 Tomahawk missiles was “representing the world”.