Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Reckless Rush To War With Russia

Below are two very interesting and timely articles from Zero Hedge (a site that has been having some extremely pertinent news and commentary recently):

[This article is worth reading in full, below are just a few highlights]

For reasons that have no rational explanations at this time, the US and Europe have embarked on a concerted program to demonize Putin, ostracize Russia, and bring the world as close to a major conflict as it's been since the Cold War, a time hardly memorable to many in the current crop of our elected officials.

Within hours of the MH-17 plane crash, the United States pinned the blame on Russia generally, and Putin particularly. The anti-Putin propaganda (and if there were a stronger term I'd use it) has been relentless and almost comically over-the-top (see image above, and those below).
The US and the UK in particular, are leading the charge. Indeed, the UK's Daily Mail managed to crank out an article on the MH-17 affair within just a few hours on the very same day it occurred

That's really an amazing piece of journalism to have managed to have figured out the who, the what and the why of a major catastrophe without the benefit of any evidence or investigation.  One wonders who the author's source was for obtaining what have become very crisp talking points that both the US and Europe are echoing as they exert increasing pressure on Russia?
Nearly two weeks later, neither the US nor Europe has provided substantial evidence of any sort to support their assertions that Ukrainian separatists and/or Russia are to blame for the MH-17 catastrophe. There's literally been nothing. 
In the meantime, very important questions surrounding the shoot-down have gone entirely unaddressed by US officials and the western media. Why? Perhaps because they raise the possibility that there could be an alternative explanation:

So far, the entire case made by the US State Department and Obama administration boils down to a few highly-questionable social media clips gathered right after the incident, plus several out-of-date low-resolution satellite photos taken from a private company(DigitalGlobe) along with a bevy of 'trust us' statements.
Nonetheless, despite the lack of solid, verified and credible evidence, the current narrative has now been embedded firmly in the media cycle and nearly everyone on the streets of the US, UK and most European nations will tell you that Putin and/or Russia was responsible. 

In all of the thousands of column inches I've read demonizing Putin over the developments in Ukraine and MH-17, I've yet to identify a single compelling answer to this question: What vital US interest is at stake if Russia keeps Crimea and helps to defend the Russian-speaking people along its border?  To my knowledge, it's not yet been articulated by anyone at the State Department or White House. 

What exactly has Putin done to surpass the excesses of past Russian/Soviet leaders? What the US still refers to as the "illegal annexation of Crimea" was actually the result of a heavy turn-out vote by the Crimean people where 97% of the votes cast were in favor of rejoining Russia.

So, to recap, Crimea's people voted overwhelmingly to shape their future in the way they best saw fit, and not one life was lost during the annexation. That sounds pretty peaceful and democratic if you ask me. What would Washington DC prefer? To undo that particular vote and have the people of Crimea be forcibly reunited with Ukraine? For what purpose? To prevent map makers from having to once again redraw Ukraine's wandering borders?

With all of that background, we're now at the point where we can understand just how annoyed Russia must be at the sanctions that have been recently levied against it, various of its industries, and in certain cases, specific wealthy and influential citizens.

Since the MH-17 downing and all of those resulting accusations of Russian responsibility, Russia has been accused of firing artillery and rockets across its border into Ukraine. The only "evidence" to this is the aforementioned crude satellite photos taken by a private company. These photos were then drawn upon (literally) to show trajectories the missiles *could* have followed. These very non-rigorous images were then tweeted out of the account of one Geoffrey Pyatt as hard fact. If his name isn't familiar to you, he's the US Ukrainian ambassador who was famously caught on tape with Victoria Nuland (Asst. Sec. of State) discussing the imminent coup against then-Ukrainian President Yanukovych.
Next, a western tribunal in The Hague suddenly ruled that the former shareholders of the dismantled Russian oil giant Yukos were entitled to $50 billion in compensation to be paid by the Russian government. Surprise!
In chilling response, a person close to Putin reportedly said,  “There is a war coming in Europe. Do you really think this matters?”
Following that,  the US accused Russia of violating the 1987 nuclear arms treaty by testing ground based missiles in...wait for it...2008. I'm sure the timing of this is in no way connected to the dust-up over Ukraine...
And most recently, both the US and the EU levied additional sanctions on Russia and certain Russian individuals:

The people of Russia are not in any mood to be bullied by the US Senate, just as the US Senate would refuse to be dictated to by the Russian parliament.  That's just common sense.
It's completely obvious that the impact of any such Act passed by the US legislature would be to further erode, if not collapse, relations and economic ties between Russia and the US.
The main conclusion here is that not only is the US poking the bear, but it is doing so with increasing frequency and upping the ante dangerously with each step.

In Part 2: How The Coming Confrontation Will Unfold, we examine the most likely scenarios for where the current tensions between the West and Russia may head. 

[If this is true, then it may reveal a big crack in U.S. - EU solidarity in terms of dealing with Russia, and isolating the U.S. rather than Russia, which would represent a huge turn of events]

While many were amused by this photo of Putin and Merkel during the world cup final showing Europe's two most important leaders siding side by side, some were more curious by just what the two were scheming:

Thanks to the Independent, we may know the answer, and it is a doozy, because according to some it is nothing shy of a sequel to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact: allegedlyGermany and Russia have been working on a secret plan to broker a peaceful solution to end international tensions over the Ukraine, one which would negotiate to trade Crimea's sovereignty for guarantees on energy security and trade. The Independent reveals that the peace plan, being worked on by both Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, "hinges on two main ambitions: stabilising the borders of Ukraine and providing the financially troubled country with a strong economic boost, particularly a new energy agreement ensuring security of gas supplies."

Which, of course, goes back to the fundamental question behind the Eurozone experiment: just who calls the shots. And despite what the UK (and certainly France) believe, that one person was and continues to be Merkel.  And at the end of the day, pragmatic Germany knows that for all the posturing and rhetoric, the biggest loser from a western embargo of Russia (which is now actively shifting its attention to China and now India) would be Germany itself.

This is Merkel’s deal. She has been dealing direct with President Putin on this. She needs to solve the dispute because it’s in no one’s interest to have tension in the Ukraine or to have Russia out in the cold. No one wants another Cold War,” said one insider close to the negotiations.

Curiously, if there is one entity that could scuttle the deal it is, no surprise there, the US.

Incidentally, the same Americans which over the past 2 years has been desperate to start a regional war in any one part of the globe in order to break some more windows and boost GDP courtesy of the tried and true "Military Industrial Complex" GDP boost. Which is why if indeed the Ukraine peace process is in the arms of the US, thenperhaps Putin's advisor was spot on when he said that "There is a war coming in Europe." Compliments of the United States?

Heavy Rocket Fire; Israel Calls Up 16,000 More Reservists, Iran To Hamas: 'Turn Israeli Land And Sky Into Hell'

Heavy Rocket Fire As PM Vows No Ceasefire

The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Thursday, the 24th day of Operation Protective Edge. Wednesday saw the heaviest Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, and three soldiers killed in a booby-trapped building. The security cabinet approved ongoing strikes at Hamas, as the IDF continued tackling the Hamas cross-border tunnels.

Fifty-six soldiers and three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side in three weeks of fighting, while Gazan health officials put the death toll there at over 1,300. Israel says hundreds of those are Hamas fighters. (Wednesday’s liveblog is here.)

As Netanyahu speaks, rockets land in the south

During the prime minister’s address, the sirens in Sderot are triggered six times consecutively.
According to Ynet, two rockets explode in the southern city — one near a school, and one near a public park. A man is lightly injured.

We won’t accept truce that prevents the tunnel demolitions, PM says

At the start of the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the IDF continues to fight in Gaza “with full force,” and is neutralizing tunnels.
The tunnels would have enabled Hamas to kidnap and kill Israeli citizens in simultaneous mass attacks, he says. “We are demolishing that capacity now,” he says. Still, just as Iron Dome does not prevent 100% of rocket impacts, there’s no 100% guarantee when it comes to tackling the tunnels, he says, possibly thinking of the five soldiers who were shot dead by Hamas gunmen emerging from a tunnel near Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Monday.
Netanyahu also hails the army’s “impressive results” in the field. “We’ve neutralized dozens of terror tunnels, and we are determined to complete that mission.”
He says Israel will not accept any ceasefire proposal that prevents the IDF from completing the task of demolishing the tunnels, and reiterates that this is only the first step in the full disarmament of the Gaza Strip. He says the US, Europe and others now recognize that imperative.
He says Hamas is suffering harsh blows: “thousands of terror targets” have been attacked — “terror command centers, rocket stores, weapons workshops, launchers, and hundreds of slain terrorists.”
Netanyahu extends condolences to the fallen soldiers’ families — he says he has spoken to the dozens of families by phone — and praises the public for its resilience.
He says there is a minority of the Israeli public that grows increasingly radical at this time — on both extremes of the political spectrum — in a reference to the hostile online and in-person clashes between left-wing and right-wing activists. “Be careful what you say; be careful what you do,” he urges.
He says the ministers must serve as a personal example to the public, and that national unity is vital.
As he speaks, sirens sound in the Gaza border towns, including Sderot.

Move will give IDF ‘some breathing room,’ military official says; 86,000 reserve soldiers recruited in total

Hours after Israel’s security cabinet voted Wednesday evening to intensify the army’s operation in the Gaza Strip, a military official confirmed that the IDF is set to call up an additional 16,000 reservists Thursday, bringing the total of soldiers called up to 86,000.

The military official said the recruitment was meant to give the army “some breathing room,” Ynet reported. “It will be decided [on Thursday] where they will be placed and under which commands,” the official added.

On Wednesday, the security cabinet instructed the IDF to continue “forcefully hitting Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza,” and to conclude its mission to destroy the tunnels leading from the Strip into Israel, a diplomatic source said.

The White House expects a “a full, prompt and thorough investigation” into Wednesday’s shelling of a United Nations-run girls’ school in Gaza, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters during an impromptu press conference aboard Air Force One. Schultz’s statement underscored similar calls from the State Department, but unlike the UN, administration officials refused to ascribe blame to Israel for the incident that Gazan sources said left some 20 people dead.

Amid mounting diplomatic pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire, the security cabinet on Wednesday instructed the IDF to continue to “forcefully hit Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza,” and to conclude its mission to destroy the tunnels leading from the Strip into Israel, diplomatic sources said.

The army’s actions in locating and destroying these terror tunnels have brought about significant strategic achievements in an area in which Hamas has invested much effort over the years, the sources said.

The US is pressing Israel to halt the fighting. On Sunday, in a phone call to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama urged an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. The UN Security Council also urged a ceasefire. On Wednesday, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned: “Israelis have to understand that while they are defending their security in seeking to root out these rocket launchers and deal with the attack tunnels, they are also undermining the support for Israel that exists in the West.” Netanyahu on Monday told Israelis to be braced for what he called a prolonged operation.
The Israeli diplomatic sources noted: “The IDF also has significant achievements in damaging the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and additional terrorist groups and will continue to act and expand these operations.”

If you want to judge a nation, look at how it treats its most vulnerable civilians. Hospitals are a good place to start.

Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, is housed in a converted British army barracks. Some 126 miles north is Israel’s Ziv Medical Center in Zefat.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, is using the civilian population as human shields. The terrorist group has placed its missiles in schools and mosques and, even more deplorably, burrowed its command center underneath the al-Shifa hospital.
Hamas‘ activities are taking place in plain sight. Just two weeks ago, The Washington Post described al-Shifa as “a de facto headquarters forHamas leaders.” These terrorist facilities are of course well known not only to the foreign journalists who interview Hamas fighters there, but also to the Israelis, who would by necessity consider such a location a legitimate target for any action against Hamas.

Hamas sees no downside in this arrangement. Knowing that Israelprioritizes protecting civilians, the terrorists can be reasonably confident that al-Shifa will not be targeted, and they can continue their murderous activities undisturbed. If the Israelis finally decide that these activities are intolerable and that to destroy Hamas they must target their headquarters, Hamas will have pictures of the quintessentially innocent martyrs — hospital patients unable to flee — to plaster across international media in their ongoing propaganda war to demonize the Jewish state.

Meanwhile in Israel, Ziv is a center for pediatric and orthopedic medicine. Given its proximity to Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria, Ziv has seen its share of violence, but despite taking direct rocket fire during the 2006 Lebanon war, it has remained in continuous operation.
During the past three years of the Syrian civil war, Ziv has treated more than 1,000 Syrians injured in that conflict — all free of charge.
All of this means that many of Ziv’s hospital beds and a substantial portion of its funding are not available for Israelis, but the staff has concluded it is worth it if their work can start to reverse the intractable hate that has been relentlessly leveled at Israel by its neighbors.

The chief of Iran's elite Quds Force has ridiculed calls for Hamas to be disarmed and urged the Palestinian Islamist movement in Gaza to "turn the land and sky into hell" for Israel.

Maj.-Gen. Qassem Suleimani's message to militant factions resisting Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip was published late Wednesday by Iran's official IRNA news agency.

Suleimani "underlined that confronting the Zionist enemy is a necessity and the Palestinian resistance movement will turn the land and sky into hell for the Zionists."

"Disarmament of resistance is a daydream that will only come true in the graveyard" for Israel, said the rarely quoted senior figure.

Suleimani's intervention follows a speech Tuesday by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urging the Islamic world to arm the Palestinians and branding Israel's actions in Gaza a "genocide."

Half a million Christians have fled Mosul. Any who remain will be slaughtered.
Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, head of Iraq’s Catholic Church, says that the invasion did what Moslems couldn’t do in 1500 years: destroy Christianity in Iraq.
So both parties, corrupt to the core, are silent on this holocaust.

National Review’s paymasters insist that any comments mentioning the Christian holocaust be immediately deleted (just try it, here.). Apparently, there’s no money in defending Christians. And this comes from the once-respected journal that valiantly defended the rights of Christians put behind the Iron Curtain by FDR.

If the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history reaches the United States, federal law permits "the apprehension and examination of any individual reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease".  These individuals can be "detained for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary".  In other words, the federal government already has the authority to round people up against their will, take them to detention facilities and hold them there for as long as they feel it is "reasonably necessary".  In addition, as you will read about below, the federal government has the authority "to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill".  If you want to look at these laws in the broadest sense, they pretty much give the federal government the power to do almost anything that they want with us in the event of a major pandemic.  Of course such a scenario probably would not be called "marital law", but it would probably feel a lot like it.

"Isolation" would not be a voluntary thing.  The federal government would start hunting down anyone that they "reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease" and taking them to the facilities where other patients were being held.  It wouldn't matter if you were entirely convinced that you were 100% healthy.  If the government wanted to take you in, you would have no rights in that situation.  In fact, federal law would allow the government to detain you "for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary".
And once you got locked up with all of the other Ebola patients, there would be a pretty good chance that you would end up getting the disease and dying anyway.  The current Ebola outbreak has a 55 percent percent mortality rate, and experts tell us that the mortality rate for Ebola can be as high as 90 percent.

This is not like other Ebola outbreaks.
Something seems different this time.
But instead of trying to keep things isolated to a few areas, global health authorities are going to start sending Ebola patients to other parts of the globe.  For example, one German hospital has already agreed to start receiving Ebola patients...
Federal authorities seem to have been preparing for such an outbreak for quite a while.  As my good friend Mac Slavo has pointed out, "biological diagnostic systems" were distributed to National Guard units in all 50 states back in April...

Also see:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The 'Hunt' for Ebola: Search On For 30,000 People, Peace Corps Pulls Volunteers, Liberia Closes Schools

Ebola: Spider's Web Of Infection Is Growing As Hunt Continues For 30,000 'Victims' Of Outbreak

The hunt for people in contact with deadly Ebola was dramatically escalated tonight as the risk of infection spread across the globe like a giant spider’s web.

Initially health officials wanted to trace only a few hundred passengers on two planes which had carried victim Patrick Sawyer, 40.
But – as Cabinet ministers held an emergency Cobra meeting in London – the search was widened to find up to 30,000 people who could be hosting the organismwhich kills 90% of sufferers.
The list includes anyone at one of four airports visited by American dad-of-three Sawyer, and those in contact with him in Nigeria’s capital Lagos, home to 17 million, where he died five days ago.
Mike Noyes, of Action Aid, said: “This is the worst Ebola outbreak the world has ever seen.
"The most worrying thing is not just the numbers of people dying, but how long it is going on for.
“Most outbreaks last six weeks to two months. This one began in February and is speeding up.
“If anyone could answer the question ‘Why?’, we might be able to stop it. Instead, the reach of the spider web of infection is growing.”

Nigeria’s Special Advisor on Public Health Dr Yewande Adeshina said: “We’re actually looking at contacting over 30,000 people.”

A total of 672 have so far been killed in the outbreak which has spread across four borders in Western Africa. A team of public health experts plus £2million in emergency aid have been sent to the region by the UK.
Several airlines have now stopped flying to Liberia and Sierra Leone over concerns about the spread of the disease from Guinea.

Global medical charity Doctors Without Borders has warned the crisis is “unprecedented, absolutely out of control”.

Bart Janssens, the charity’s director of operations, warned there was no overarching vision of how to tackle Ebola.

He said: “This epidemic can only get worse, because it is still spreading in some key hotspots.

“It is difficult to predict, because we have never known such an epidemic.”

The Peace Corps announced Wednesday that it was temporarily withdrawing its 340 volunteers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone after two workers were exposed to the Ebola virus.

A spokeswoman told CNN and CBS News that the pair were being isolated after coming in contact with an infected patient who later died. The two have not exhibited symptoms, however, and will be sent back the United States after doctors clear them.

The Peace Corps did not indicate when the volunteers might return to West Africa, where the growing outbreak is centered.

Health officials in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, fearing that the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa could go global, have tested at least two airline passengers who have shown symptoms of the disease.

The outbreak — the largest in history — has spread across Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone and killed at least 672 people, according to the World Health Organization. The disease has no vaccine and no specific treatment. It has a fatality rate of at least 60%.

- Liberia will close schools and consider quarantining some communities, it said on Wednesday, announcing the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

Security forces in Liberia were ordered to enforce the steps, part of an action plan that includes placing all non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave.

Ebola has been blamed for 672 deaths in Liberia, neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to World Health Organisation figures, as under-funded healthcare systems have struggled to cope with the epidemic. Liberia accounted for just under one-fifth of those deaths.

"This is a major public health emergency. It's fierce, deadly and many of our countrymen are dying and we need to act to stop the spread," Lewis Brown, Liberia's information minister, told Reuters.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in a speech posted on the presidency's website that the government was considering quarantining several communities based on the recommendation of the health ministry.

Concern deepened last week when a Liberian-American died from Ebola in Nigeria having traveled from Liberia. Authorities in Nigeria, as well as Ghana and Togo, where he passed through en route to Lagos, are trying to trace passengers who were on the same plane as him.

Dozens of local health workers - including Sierra Leone and Liberia's top two Ebola doctors - have died treating patients. Two Americans working for Samaritan's Purse, a U.S. charity operating in Liberia, were infected over the past week.

Samaritan's Purse said on Wednesday that Kent Brantly, a doctor working for the charity, and Nancy Writebol, a colleague who was also volunteering in Liberia, had shown a slight improvement but their condition was still serious.