News for progressives

Roger Waters: “You want to start a war with the Russians? Are you crazy?”

Translated by Scott Humor Roger Waters – about his upcoming concerts in Russia, his humanitarian activities and conflict with the “White helmets.” source: An exclusive interview for the Izvestia newspaper.
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Quo Vadis Vatican?

by Jimmie Moglia for The Saker Blog The nature of the subject requires an introduction. A detective story does not require a murder, nor the events of a thriller need
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Is frustrated Washington planning a new false flag operation?

By Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog It seems like it’s time again. Washington will once more try to prove to the world that it matters in Syria by striking
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There is a burning need to rekindle anti-militarist political movements

Rabble News - Wed, 2018-08-29 03:48
Yves Engler

Are soldiers more valuable to society than teachers? Are they more essential than the people who drive buses or clean up our waste? Are their jobs that much more dangerous than firefighters, or psychiatric nurses or loggers? Is what they do more honourable than parenting, caring for elders, providing essential social services or reporting the news? 

These questions arose when reading that British Columbia is currently holding a six-week public consultation on whether former RCMP members should be permitted access to special veterans license plates. The opposition has complained the consultation is only taking place online while some military veterans have threatened to return their special licenses if the RCMP are allowed to join their exclusive club. "I am very, very proud to be given that particular plate," said Lt.-Col. Archie Steacy of the B.C. Veterans Commemorative Association, which is leading opposition to the change. "Having served in the armed forces for a period of 38 years I feel really good when I am driving my car and people stop me to say thank you."

Granted a monopoly over the poppy symbol nearly a century ago, the Royal Canadian Legion allows provincial governments to use their trademark poppy on licence plates to signify the driver is a veteran. Much to the chagrin of some military veterans, the Legion's definition of a "veteran" now includes former RCMP.

In the mid-2000s every province adopted a special veterans licence plate. Generally, Canadian Forces (CF) members, RCMP officers who served under CF command and anyone who served in a NATO alliance force are eligible.

But special license plates are only one of the many initiatives that reinforce the military's special cultural standing. On August 18 MiWay (Mississauga) transit offered military veterans a free ride to attend the Warriors' Day Parade at the Canadian National Exhibition. In December, Sherbrooke, Quebec, joined a long list of cities that offer free parking to veterans. In another automotive-centred militarist promotion, a Ford dealership in Kingston, Ontario, offered a special discount package to former or current soldiers. Its January release stated, "whether you're a local weather presenter, a plumber or play drums in a weekend cover band, your way of life is possible, in part, due to the brave sacrifice of the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces."

But for men with guns an evil force would prevent you from drumming? Is that really what this is about?

Prioritizing soldiers above reporters, poets, janitors etc., the government set up a program in 2014 to allow foreign nationals who join the CF to get their citizenship fast tracked. A number of initiatives also benefit students of military families and help soldiers access civilian work. The Canada Company Military Employment Transition Program assists CF members, reservists and veterans in obtaining non-military employment. It offers companies/institutions the status of Designated Military Friendly Employer and National Employer Support Awards. Taking this a step further, Barrick Gold hired a Director of Veteran Sourcing and Placement to oversee a Veterans Recruitment Program. According to program director Joel Watson, "veterans self-select to put service before self, which says much about their individual character, drive and willingness to work together in teams."

But no special recruitment program for single mothers?

Underlying all these initiatives is the notion that soldiers (or the military in general) have a unique social value, more than teaching assistants, plumbers, daycare workers, hairdressers and single mothers. Or, if danger is the primary criteria, how about those who build houses or feed us?

Over the past half-century tens of times more Canadian construction workers have been killed on the job than soldiers. While 158 Canadian soldiers died in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014, there were 843 agriculture-related fatalities in Canada between 2003 and 2012.

Does the CF do more to enable people to "play drums" than those growing our food? Is the "local weather presenter" more indebted to soldiers than those who build homes? Should the "plumber" be more grateful to troops than teachers?

The problem with glorifying soldiers is that veterans' organizations generally use their cultural standing to uphold militarism and reactionary politics. Politicians justify weapons purchases by claiming we need to give the troops the best equipment possible and then demand the public "support the troops" they've deployed abroad.

Is this really the best we can be?

There is a burning need to rekindle anti-militarist political movements in this country. Next month's World Beyond War conference in Toronto offers a good opportunity to start.

Photo: Wilson Hui/Flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

Rotstein’s Monumental Epitaph

Progressive economics forum - Wed, 2018-08-29 02:26

The late Abraham/Abe Rotstein (1929-2015) was an economist of a leftist persuasion, literally a Left Liberal. He left behind an almost completed manuscript which he had been working on for more than three decades. It has now been published.  Its title Myth, Mind and Religion: The Apocalyptic Narrative is indicative of its extraordinary breadth.

Problems, possibilities, catastrophes, which compel resolution present themselves in an apocalyptic manner: oppressor/victim, inversion of victims into masters, and a salvation regime as the outcome.  There are chapters on Jesus, Luther, Hegel, Marx, Hitler, etc.  For example, Marx, in a manner familiar to economists: capital oppresses labour, the proletariat as victim overthrows the capitalists, there is heaven a.k.a. communism on earth.

Rotstein chose to go far beyond his own discipline of economics – which is a tribute to his intellectual courage – but he is not without relevance to our present day concerns about matters economic and beyond in these turbulent, perhaps apocalyptic, times.

On contemporary matters,  Rotstein reminds us of, in his words, the Radical Decade from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. The cry was for liberation – by black people and indigenous people from racism and for civil rights, students, colonies and dependencies from the imperium, women, gays – and for respect for the environment, for Nature, from the assaults of capital in particular. Radicalism proved ephemeral but the demands have not ceased.

Rotstein was writing before Trump and the rise of the alt-right, but, as noted, he does deal with Nazi fascism, of the perverse claim that the populace was oppressed by the Jews, the Other of the times, and must be annihilated. Today it is immigrants and refugees who constitute the Other and who must therefore be oppressed in the name of white supremacy.

Rotstein sees out-of-control technology as the apparent menace of  our times – think today’s carbon emissions and climate change, the attacks on privacy and democracy by digital media, job destruction from artificial intelligence, “the robotization of life.” The victims are the many but what or who are the oppressors and what is to be done.

Rotstein is no longer with us to discuss these matters.  His legacy is to warn us of the dangers of apocalyptic thinking, a mode of thought that he sees as characterizing the Judaeo-Christian West for three millennia.


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Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp stands up for Indigenous children

Rabble News - Wed, 2018-08-29 00:59
Pamela Palmater

The violent deaths of Colten Boushie in Saskatchewan and Tina Fontaine in Manitoba hit their families, communities and First Nations pretty hard. These were youths who had their whole lives ahead of them. The fact that deep-seated institutional and societal racism and violence against Indigenous peoples is what led to their deaths is a glaring injustice that we have seen happen many times over to our people. But the other glaring injustice is how institutional and societal racism and violence allows the killers of our people to walk free. The high level of impunity for lethal race-based violence against Indigenous peoples serves only to reinforce the racist idea that Indigenous lives don't matter. Without intervention from federal, provincial and municipal governments, agencies and police forces, our people will continue to be at risk.

Canada's failure to act on this crisis means that First Nations must continue to take action to stand against these injustices which are killing our people. At a time when our hearts were collectively breaking over the non-guilty verdicts in the Gerald Stanley murder trial of Colten Boushie and the Raymond Cormier murder trial of Tina Fontaine, First Nation members from Saskatchewan got together and created the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp. On February 28, 2018, they raised a traditional teepee and lit a sacred fire in Treaty 4 territory at Wascana Park, just across from the Saskatchewan legislative building. These grassroots community members used their most powerful tool to bring attention to this crisis -- their voices and their traditions.

But the teepee and the sacred fire not only attracted media attention for our issues, it also turned into something special. This camp became a gathering place for those who had lost children to violence, foster care and the justice system. Mothers, fathers, aunties and cousins with broken hearts came to the camp to share their stories, release their emotions and start their healing journeys. Far from creating any safety risk to the public, this camp offered hope, comfort, solidarity, a sense of collectiveness and empowerment. The longer the camp remained at Wascana Park, the more the media took notice and started to highlight the many injustices faced by First Nations. The core message from the camp was that we need justice specifically for Indigenous youth in the wake of the Stanley and Cormier not guilty verdicts; and justice for the many Indigenous children stolen from our communities by child welfare agencies, the justice system and societal violence.

For many months, it may have appeared to outsiders looking in, that they were alone and that their camp would eventually fade from attention. They occupied the area peacefully for four months, supported by donations from First Nations and allies. It wasn't until the Province of Saskatchewan thought the camp would interfere with its planned location for its Canada Day beer gardens that they took legal action. On June 5, the camp was issued and eviction order and 10 days later, the Regina Police Service began their eviction procedures by removing the tents. On June 17 the teepee was taken down and on June 18 six of the campers were arrested and removed from the area, though charges were never laid. Many of us watched with anger as the province carried out this heavy-handed action, trampling over the wounded hearts of those who have found some temporary peace at the camp -- all for the sake of beer gardens.

But if there is one lesson from our elders that we have to remember, is that we can never give up hope. Our ancestors died protecting the rights of future generations not yet born. We inherited the obligation to face each barrier put in front of us by colonial powers, with the same commitment to overcoming it, as our ancestors had. So, on June 21 National Indigenous Peoples Day, when we saw videos of the campers returning to Wascana Park, re-erecting the teepee and joining together in a round dance, our collective hearts were lifted again -- this time with a renewed sense of resistance and empowerment. On June 23, a second teepee was erected and others joined in solidarity after that until there were many teepees side by side. People made donations of cash, food and water to support the campers and the healing continued. We owe so much to the spirit and determination of those who have stayed at the camp for long. Their commitment is why we are still talking about justice for our stolen children.

There is a real and growing crisis in Saskatchewan that demands an emergency, crisis-level joint response by federal, provincial and First Nation governments, experts and advocates. It doesn't matter what the federal or provincial governments say they have done, what programs they have funded, or who they talk to at various discussion tables -- what matters is that what they have done to date has not worked and the crisis continues to get worse. Therefore, a radical shift from the status quo is required to save the lives of our children. They don't have a whole childhood to wait for the slow, drawn-out process of policy change. Our children are dying and the statistics present a dire picture for their life chances if we don't change this now.

Child welfare

In Canada, Indigenous peoples make up five per cent of the population and Indigenous youth make up seven per cent of the youth population. Nationally, Indigenous children make up 48 per cent of all children in foster care -- a number that is three times higher than during the height of residential schools. However, in Saskatchewan, an alarming more than 70 per cent of children in provincial care are Indigenous and the numbers continue to increase. We know that less than half of those children will graduate from high school and more likely to end up in youth corrections. The statistics also show that that Indigenous girls in foster care are four times more likely to be sexually abused; more likely to be targeted for human sex trafficking and are over-represented in murdered and missing Indigenous girls. The theft of our children into foster care does not just impact the children. Indigenous mothers who lose their children to foster care are more likely to die from heart disease and suicide.

Justice system -- prison

Canada has had the lowest crime rate since 1969 with a reduction of 34 per cent since 1998. Yet Indigenous people make up more than 26 per cent of those in federal prisons and Indigenous women make up 34 per cent. Saskatchewan's numbers are frightening. Over 76 per cent of admissions to Saskatchewan prisons are Indigenous -- the highest rates in Canada. Nationally, 41 per cent of youth in corrections are Indigenous, with 51 per cent being Indigenous girls. In Saskatchewan youth corrections, 92 per cent are Indigenous boys and 98 per cent are Indigenous girls. They have the highest youth incarceration rates in the entire country. More than one-fifth of Indigenous prisoners were in residential schools and two-thirds were in the child welfare system. It is important to remember that Indigenous peoples represent one-third of all suicides in prison and more than half of those who suffer in solitary confinement/segregation.

Violence -- state and societal

In 1996, the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples noted that racism is rampant from police forces to the courts. Saskatchewan policing in particular has a long, violent history of racism against Indigenous peoples. In 2004, the Saskatchewan Commission on First Nations and Metis Peoples and Justice Reform found that racism in policing was a "major obstacle" in relations with First Nations. The well-known police practice of "Starlight Tours" where police detain and drive Indigenous men to the outskirts of town where they freeze to death doesn't seem to have ended with the Neil Stonechild inquiry. Indigenous women are often targeted with sexualized violence -- including from police. The Human Rights Watch report from 2017 documented instances of excessive use of force, abusive strip searches and other sexual harassment against Indigenous women. The statistics also show that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of police involved deaths (beatings, chokings, shootings) of Indigenous peoples (62.5 per cent).

The RCMP report into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls showed that nationally Indigenous women and girls make up 16 per cent of those murdered, but in Saskatchewan, that number jumps to 55 per cent. Societal violence comes from the places most people do not suspect: priests, farmers, police, corrections, doctors, lawyers, judges, social workers, teachers, and foster parents. Very few of those who sexually violate or murder Indigenous women and girls are serial killers. The statistics also show they are less likely to be murdered by their spouse than Canadian women. The high level of impunity (non-conviction) for those perpetrators in society who continue to commit violence against Indigenous peoples is exacerbated by the many reports that document how police fail to protect Indigenous peoples or properly investigate their cases.

We have a real crisis in Saskatchewan. What has been done isn't working. We need a new approach -- one that is led by First Nations and their experts and advocates. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the campers at the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp who have sacrificed their time and energy, and risked police arrest and jail, to keep the light on this crisis. We don't want to lose any more of our children and we want to bring the rest of our children who are in foster care, corrections, trapped by human traffickers, or missing -- back home. Bring our children home.

In memory of all those precious lives those and sadly, too many to name:

Neil Stonechild, Leo Lachance, William Kakakaway, Leonard Paul John, Colten Boushie

Nadine Machiskinic, Shelley Napope, Melanie Dawn Geddes, Amber Redman, Danita Bigeagle

Haven Dubois, Brandon-Bee Ironchild, Evander Lee Daniels

Please see my YouTube video that I have created in support of the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp.

This article was originally published on Pamela Palmater's blog on August 23, 2018.

Photo: Memaxmarz/Flickr

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How Media Failures Complicate The Nuclear Talks With North Korea

North Korea recently again asked the Trump administration to stick to the three steps agreed upon in the Singapore Statement. The Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin characterizes the North Korean request as "belligerent": Pompeo received the letter from Kim Yong...
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War is big business. We need a strengthened movement to challenge the arms industry

Rabble News - Tue, 2018-08-28 21:57
Brent Patterson

War is highly profitable for a few transnational corporations.

Case in point, on April 7, 2017, Fortune reported, "Raytheon stock surged Friday morning, after 59 of the company's Tomahawk missiles were used to strike Syria in Donald Trump's first major military operation as President."

Fortune also highlighted, "The shares of other missile and weapons manufacturers" including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics  "each rose as much as 1 per cent, collectively gaining nearly $5 billion in market value as soon as they began trading, even as the broader market fell."

Arms corporations based in Canada are also making a killing.

In June 2016, The Globe and Mail reported, "Canada has soared in global rankings to become the second biggest arms dealer to the Middle East on the strength of its massive sale of combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia, new figures show."

That article also noted, "Canada has also vaulted to sixth overall among all arms-exporting countries, based on rankings released by Jane's this week. This means only five countries are currently selling more weapons and military equipment."

And the Canadian government intends to increasingly be a big customer.

The federal government spent an estimated $20.6 billion on the Canadian military in 2017 and the Trudeau government has announced its intention to spend $32.7 billion a year on the military by fiscal year 2026-27.

Those figures also help to understand the relatively low priority the federal government has given to clean drinking water for Indigenous peoples across this country. In 2016, the Liberals allocated $1.8 billion -- over five years -- for water systems.

And while climate activists in Canada have rightly targeted the Trans Mountain pipeline, less is said about the carbon emissions produced by the military.

In December 2015, Newsweek reported, "The Iraq war was responsible for 141m tonnes of carbon releases in its first four years, according to an Oil Change International report. On an annual basis, this was more than the emissions from 139 countries in this period, or about the same as putting an extra 25m cars on to U.S. roads for a year."

In March 2017, Vice noted, "And then there's the not-so-small problem that Canada doesn't count greenhouse gas emissions for any overseas operations conducted by its military. That's right, any of them. Army, navy, air force."

There is at least one international example of a peace group linking the arms industry and the climate and taking action on that front.

The U.K.-based Campaign Against Arms Trade has an "Arms to renewables" campaign that says money now spent on subsidizing the arms industry would be better spent on renewables and that in turn would be better for workers, the economy and world peace.

A discussion with the labour movement is also needed. Most of the workers who will be building armoured vehicles -- some mounted with 105-millimetre guns -- for Saudi Arabia at a General Dynamics plant in London, Ontario are members of Unifor Local 27.

Weapon sales mean a few transnational corporations profiting from death and destruction, public money diverted from the social good, unsustainable carbon emissions, violations of Indigenous rights, and the destructive mining of strategic metals for military production.

This country appears to be in urgent need of a strengthened, community-based, networked peace movement that is deeply connected with other movements for climate justice, workers' rights, and Indigenous rights.

Photo by Brent Patterson

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Poverty as public relations, from the Trudeau Liberals

Rabble News - Tue, 2018-08-28 20:37
August 28, 2018Liberals' new poverty reduction strategy is more PR than strategy The problem with the federal government's new anti-poverty statement is that it includes no new poverty reduction measures.
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Liberals' new poverty reduction strategy is more PR than strategy

Rabble News - Tue, 2018-08-28 20:29
EconomyPolitics in Canada

To their credit, the Trudeau Liberals put real money in the pockets of lower-income Canadian families in 2016 by enacting the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), a yearly tax-free payment of up to $6,496 per year for each child under six, and $5,481 per year for those aged six to 17.

Compared to programs it replaced, the CCB added $3,535 per year for a family with income of $35,000, according to the Finance Department.

Team Trudeau are so proud of the CCB that they have re-packaged it as the centrepiece of a new anti-poverty strategy presented last week by Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, a former Laval University economics professor.

The problem with the anti-poverty statement is that it includes no new poverty reduction measures: not one dollar in additional spending, no commitment to a social safety net for those currently living on the streets, no repairs to the broken employment insurance program which is unavailable to two-thirds of workers, and no mention of the near poor -- the millions of people struggling to survive with barely enough.

The anti-poverty strategy is not a strategy to reduce poverty: it is a public relations vehicle that takes the CCB and bundles it with an assorted selection of spending promises -- mainly for the distant future -- to improve housing, add child care, increase incomes for seniors, and better life for Indigenous people.

A big part of its PR package is that Canada will now have an official poverty measure, complete with an Advisory Council to hold the government to account if it fails to meet its targets of reducing poverty from 2015 levels by 20 per cent in 2020 and by 50 per cent in 2030.

Absolute poverty is a problem and the so-called "market basket" that measures it will be the new official poverty measure.

The low-income measure (LIM) captures relative poverty, and is in wide use internationally. Those with less than 50 per cent of the median income are considered low income. The two measures differ importantly and as Andrew Jackson has pointed out, need to be looked at together to identify issues each one misses.

The market basket measure is an attempt to calculate basic consumption needs for individuals and families based on forecasted expenditures on food, clothing, transport (bus pass for urban, five-year-old car for isolated rural) and services. For a family of four, the market basket is full at just over $32,000 in rural Quebec and $40,000 in Toronto. A telephone is budgeted for, but internet services will only be included when more than 70 per cent of Canadian households have it, which tells you most of what you need to know about how satisfying the basket would be to most Canadians.

The appeal for the Liberals is that with the market basket measure in place, the government can proclaim reduction in official poverty from the beginning of their mandate in 2015, thanks to the CCB, which is estimated to have already lifted some 300,000 Canadians out of poverty.

The poverty section of the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget 2018 lays out how the Liberals could actually reduce poverty by 50 per cent over the next three years, instead of making Canadians wait for the never-never land of 2030.

Without any comparative perspective on how other countries deal with low income, the Duclos anti-poverty statement falls short of what is needed to enlighten the public.

The CCB, welcome as it may be, alone does not provide Canadian families with the assistance they deserve, compared to what is available in France, for example, where a full child-care program -- not a promised one -- exists alongside generous per-child cash benefits and income replacement programs for parental leave that go beyond what is provided (through EI) to Canadian parents.

The Duclos paper backs away from historical analysis. There is no attempt to explain, for instance, why the nearly 30-year-old 1989 all-party parliamentary resolution to abolish child poverty by the year 2000 failed to achieve anything near its objective.

Homelessness and destitution deserve special attention from the Canadian government and they receive none in the anti-poverty statement.

The reality is that Canada has many people living in poverty, but also gross inequalities of the type caught by the LIM measure but not the market basket measure. Both concerns need to be addressed -- and simultaneously -- because they are linked.

Though it may ring harshly to Liberal ears, some people are poor because others are wealthy.

Low market wages and poor employment practices are the main reason people are poor. Corporate and government union-bashing policies contribute greatly to inequality, along with out-of-control executive pay packages, and an unwillingness to tax great wealth.

The Liberal anti-poverty strategy relies on the well-known public relations principle that for the public, perception is reality. Making people think you are doing something should be enough to garner their support.

What the Liberals prefer not to mention is that their approach requires the provinces to bring people above the poverty line.

Premier of Ontario Doug Ford: are you listening? You are supposed to improve the Ontario welfare program to reduce the official poverty count by the federal government.

Duncan Cameron is president emeritus of and writes a weekly column on politics and current affairs.

Photo: #G7Charlevoix/Flickr

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Poverty Reductioncanadian povertyAnti-povertyTrudeau governmenteconomic inequalitylow incomeDuncan CameronAugust 28, 2018Why are people destitute in Canada?A social safety net to ensure that every individual has enough to live on should be standard in a liberal democracy. Canada had such a social safety net, until it was abolished nearly 25 years ago.The moral economy and the struggle for a good lifeMuch of the world's population struggles for basic necessities. Adequately paid jobs, housing, food, clean drinking water, and health-care are not reaching many who need it. But, why is that?People with lived experience of homelessness walking for justiceKym Hines, Hugh Lampkin and Cynthia Travers talk about the Poor Persons Walk, an action taking place later in July in several British Columbia communities.
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American hysterics at the meeting of Bolton and Patrushev (Ruslan Ostashko)

[please make sure to press the ‘cc’ button to see the English-language captions]
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Moveable Feast Cafe 2018/08/27 … Open Thread

2018/08/27 03:30:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of
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Bolton in Kiev Instead of Trump

By Rostislav Ishchenko Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard cross posted with source:   John Bolton’s trip to Kiev didn’t represent essential interest. After five hours of
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The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-43

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama: August 21 - Microsoft Promotes Russia Scare To Gain Insider Access To Campaign Information August 22 - Facebook Kills "Inauthentic" Foreign News Accounts - U.S. Propaganda Stays Alive August 23 - What The...
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Syria Sitrep - The Build Up For The Idleb Campaign

The long awaited Syrian army campaign to liberate Idleb governorate in Syria's northwest is supposed to start shortly after September 7, the date when the Turkish, Russian and Iranian presidents will meet. Strong forces have been put into place and...
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What Bolton needs to understand about Russia and history

On 23 August, 2018, National Security Adviser to the President of the United States of America J. R. Bolton, using his auspices as the representative of the President of the
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“Non-Existent” Ukrainian Buk Got Into An Accident In Kiev (Ruslan Ostashko)

Translated and captioned by Leo.     In 2015, the Ukrainian authorities said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces could not bring down the Malaysian Boeing because of the lack of
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Trump Ties North Korea Talks To Trade Deal With China

Yesterday U.S. President Trump threw another hissy fit on the negotiations with North Korea: Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 17:36 utc - 24 Aug 2018 I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at...
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