Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Road to Russia

"Macron, Merkel pledge push to settle euro differences by June" by Gregory Viscusi, Helene Fouquet and Arne Delfs Bloomberg News  March 16, 2018

French and German leaders pledged to present a road map for a stronger euro area by June, signaling a push to overcome historic differences as German Chancellor Angela Merkel begins her new term.

“For many years, Europe has waited for the French-German couple to move forward,” French President Emmanuel Macron said alongside Merkel in Paris on Friday. “That’s where we’re at, and this is the road that’s now ahead of us.”

The same road traveled by Napoleon and Hitler. Now Trump, the great shameless, audacious bawler elected governor of the army, the bridge broken(!), the city faint from fear. The trumpet shakes with great discord, an agreement broken (Iran?).

Macron’s sweeping proposals last year for deeper ties between the 19 euro-area countries have received a guarded response in Germany and were effectively put on ice by almost six months of post-election stalemate in Berlin, which ended Wednesday with Merkel’s swearing-in. Differences, including over risk-sharing within the euro area, remained on the table as the two leaders met at the Elysee presidential palace.

Two steps out and they come to a fork!

As a potential trade war with the United States looms, Merkel said the European Union needs to stand united against threats to free trade and competition from emerging countries.

“We’ll be unbeatable as Europeans if we don’t allow ourselves to be divided,” she said. “Europe must stand united at a time when multilateralism is under pressure.”

Macron warned against defeatism, saying European leaders must find responses to shocks such as Brexit, Italy’s election this month, and rising populism. With Merkel’s full policy-making powers restored, he suggested it’s time for her to move forward.

“Dear Angela, I want to tell you how ready I am, how I’m waiting to begin our work together,” said Macron, who took office in May.....


(Bear Roar)

"‘Overwhelmingly likely’ that Putin ordered spy’s poisoning, Britain says" by Richard Pérez-Peña New York Times   March 16, 2018

LONDON — Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of Britain said Friday that it was “overwhelmingly likely” that President Vladimir Putin of Russia personally ordered the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy this month.

Johnson’s remarks were a significant escalation in the dispute between London and Moscow, directly linking the Russian leader to the poisoning of Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the English city of Salisbury.

So Johnson speaks for all of Britain now, huh?

They came hours before Scotland Yard said it was treating the death of another Russian expatriate, who was a close associate of a prominent Putin critic, as a murder.

Next thing you know they will be blaming Russians for farting in elevators.

Until Friday, British officials had given the Kremlin a little room for deniability, saying that Russia had either directed the attack or allowed its chemical weapons to fall into the hands of unspecified rogue actors. That door may have been only slightly ajar, but Johnson appeared to shut it.

“Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin,” Johnson said at a news conference. “That is why we’re at odds with Russia.”

That explains the pre$$' $hitt swirl.

Johnson has a history of going further in his statements than Prime Minister Theresa May and other Cabinet ministers, and it was not immediately clear whether his comments represented a new official position for the government.

“We have repeatedly stated on various levels that Russia has nothing to do with that story,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told the Tass news agency Friday. “Any reference to, any mentioning of, our president in this context is nothing else but a shocking, unforgivable breach of diplomatic proprieties.”

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, indicated that his country would expel British diplomats — a move that was expected in response to Britain’s crackdown this week. But he declined to give a number.

“We will be fair,” he said, according to the Interfax news agency. “What would you do?”


"Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke in Kazakhstan, where he met with the foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey over the situation in Syria and the three agreed that there can be no military solution to the conflict, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA. In northern Syria, the Turkish military urged civilians to leave and Syrian Kurdish militiamen to surrender to besieging Turkish forces. Victims lay dead on the streets in pools of blood, according to a video, and residents say they are facing bread, water, and electricity shortages......"

Where are the pictures and articles regarding the traumatized children of Palestine and Yemen?

Also on Friday, Britain’s Metropolitan Police said they were treating as a murder the death of Nikolai Glushkov, a former Russian business executive who was found dead in his home in London on Monday. Police made the decision after a post-mortem, but did not elaborate.

A Russian court tried and convicted Glushkov in absentia last year on corruption charges, and he was an associate of former Russian business oligarch Boris Berezovsky, an outspoken Putin critic who died in London in 2013.

This is all Jewish mafia stuff that has nothing to do with Putin.

In Moscow, Russian authorities said Friday that they had opened a criminal case into the poisoning of Yulia Skripal, which was committed by “a generally dangerous method,” and the death of Glushkov.

“The investigation will be conducted in accordance with the Russian and international law,” said the Investigative Committee of Russia, the equivalent of the FBI. “The investigators plan to engage highly-qualified experts and are also ready to work with the competent agencies in Britain.”

What a BRILLIANT move, although some are not seeing it that way.

The attack on the Skripals has caused outrage in Britain and among its allies, pushing relations between London and Moscow to their lowest level since the Cold War.

Britain has sought to gather international condemnation against Russia over the poisoning, making its case to an array of international bodies, including the UN Security Council, and to several allies. On Thursday, the leaders of France, Germany, and the United States joined May in blaming Russia.

The next morning, May spoke with her Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull. Australia is a member of the “five eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance, along with Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.

That's how U.S. intelligence agencies get around the law; they simply ask one of those countries to hand over what they collected.

Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence, was convicted in 2006 of selling secrets to British intelligence and imprisoned in Russia. In 2010, he was sent to Britain as part of a spy swap between Russia and the West.

British officials have said that their own scientists have identified the nerve agent, but that the finding has not yet been confirmed by independent authorities such as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.....

Anyone remember the DODGY DOSSIER? 


Meanwhile, in the streets of London:

"An Iraqi teenager who arrived in Britain as an asylum-seeker was found guilty Friday of a bombing that sent a fireball through a London subway train last year, a case that raised questions about the country’s antiradicalization efforts....."

In the rush to war against Russia they forgot the terrorists!

Also see:

"Seven American service members were killed when a US helicopter crashed in Iraq, the Pentagon said Friday. The aircraft crashed in Anbar province in western Iraq a day earlier. The crash did not appear to be the result of enemy activity and is under investigation, the Pentagon said. No one else was aboard the aircraft when it went down. The helicopter was used by the Air Force for combat search and rescue, and was in transit from one location to another when it went down Thursday afternoon near the town of Qaim in Anbar."

That reminds me:

"My Lai ceremony highlights peace, but dark memories recalled" by Tran Van Minh Associated Press  March 16, 2018

MY LAI, Vietnam — Talk of peace dominated the 50th anniversary commemoration of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, but among the hundreds in the audience were survivors and a former US Army photographer whose gruesome images galvanized antiwar opinion.

That would never happen now.

Their disturbing tales were a sharp rejoinder to the ceremony’s peaceful sentiments.

Friday’s memorial events were held at the site of the 1968 massacre by American troops of 504 unarmed Vietnamese villagers, mostly women, children, and elderly men.

A provincial official addressing the crowd mentioned the killings but scrupulously avoided naming the United States as the two nations steadily improve their relations.

The audience included Sergeant Ron Haeberle, who photographed the aftermath in My Lai, and survivor Tran Van Duc, who was 6 at the time and whose slain mother was photographed by Haeberle.

The two men bonded after they met in 2011. Duc lives in Remscheid, Germany, and a German cinematographer put him in touch with Haeberle.

Duc recalled some US soldiers appearing at his family’s house soon after landing by helicopter, who then herded him, his four siblings, and their mother out onto a trail, where American troops began shooting.

Duc and Haeberle on Thursday visited the trail where the three, along with about three dozen other people, were shot down.

Haeberle’s shocking photos were published first in November 1969 in The Plain Dealer, the biggest newspaper in his home state of Ohio, and then in Life magazine and all around the world.

He had been using his Army-issue camera to take photos of fellow soldiers to be dispatched to their hometown papers, a standard military public relations practice which, he acknowledged, did not work so well that day.

It was a technicality that brought the pictures of the carnage to public view; he also carried his personal camera, a Nikon F, for which he had one roll of color film, which meant he did not have to turn in photos to the army’s public information office.

The cold-blooded killing was mind-boggling to Haeberle, who was 26 at the time, about six years older than the average troops in Charlie Company.

Later, he concluded that the American soldiers were badly trained, scared, bitter, and since they couldn’t understand why the Vietnamese villagers seemed hostile, they considered them to be just like the Viet Cong guerrillas they were fighting.....

They should never have been there to begin with.


"Zuma, former South Africa leader, charged with corruption" by Norimitsu Onishi New York Times   March 16, 2018

JOHANNESBURG — In a severe legal blow to Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s former president, national prosecutors announced Friday that they would reinstate corruption charges against him in a case related to a multibillion-dollar arms deal in the late 1990s.

The announcement was the latest — though not likely the final — chapter in a long-running corruption case that nearly derailed Zuma’s bid for the presidency and tarnished the image of South Africa’s governing African National Congress. The deal under scrutiny laid the seeds of a culture of graft that has flourished in recent years.

A skilled tactician, Zuma rose to the presidency despite the shadow cast by the arms deal — a multibillion dollar purchase to modernize South Africa’s military after apartheid — and other legal problems, including a trial on rape charges.

He portrayed himself as a victim and tapped into his deep support among poor South Africans to become president in 2009.

What does a..... never mind.

But last month, Zuma, now 75, was ousted from office after losing a power struggle to his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, who seized on the public’s growing disillusionment with the endemic corruption during the Zuma years.

“The arms deal was the most graphic loss of innocence of post-apartheid South Africa and it presaged the corruption we are seeing today,” said David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, a nonprofit organization based in Johannesburg. “This is the first time we are seeing accountability in the arms deal.”

This is the end.

Lewis called the prosecutor’s decision “significant,” and added: “The biggest cause of corruption is the impunity of the powerful, so this does send the message that, as long as it may take, somebody at the highest level can be held accountable.”

But Lewis said it would have been more significant if it had been taken while Zuma was still president, adding that it could be regarded as “victor’s judgment.”

They write the history books.

The arms deal, made by the government of Nelson Mandela in the 1990s, involved the purchase of naval vessels, submarines, fighter jets, and other equipment from European nations. The deal totaled 30 billion rand, or between $3 billion to $5 billion at the time.

Zuma’s supporters have long argued that accusations of corruption in the case were politically motivated and that he was singled out while other ANC officials implicated in the deal were never charged.

He successfully resurrected his bid for the presidency after the chief prosecutor dropped the charges against him in 2009, accusing his own officials of political interference.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, challenged the chief prosecutor’s decision. But Zuma successfully avoided prosecution during his presidency.

Pierre de Vos, a constitutional scholar at the University of Cape Town, said that the corruption case against Zuma could drag on for years.“It’s been the former president’s strategy to use every legal loophole to actually avoid having his case being heard in court,” de Vos said. “If he has the money for lawyers, he could stay out of court forever.” 

At least he is being held accountable.

In Parliament, Ramaphosa said this week that the government has spent $1.3 million on Zuma’s defense in this case. Opposition politicians, who have argued that Zuma should be forced to pay his own legal costs in this case because it preceded his presidency, said the expenses amount to several times more.

Ramaphosa said that the government will continue to pay Zuma’s legal fees but that the former president would have to reimburse the state if he is found guilty.

I'm sure that makes the poor South Africans very happy.


How the f*** did we end up there?