“kindergartners in black niqab with guns”

Kindergarten children dressed as Daesh for Indonesian Independence Day parade
RT.com, Aug 20 2018

Children at an Indonesian kindergarten were dressed up in Daesh-style costumes and given rifle replicas to hold during an independence day parade, prompting raised eyebrows and an apology from event organizers. Photos and videos of the parade, which appeared online, show lines of girls dressed in head-to-toe black veils while carrying cardboard-cutout guns. When asked to explain the decision, TK Kartika kindergarten head Hartatik apologized “deeply” and insisted that they were not trying to “instill violence” in the young girls, but simply raising “the theme of the struggle of the Prophet to increase faith and devotion to Allah.” Hartatik said the school, which is located on the site of an Indonesian military complex, had chosen the strange attire to save money by using things the school already had on hand, but did not explain why the props had been needed in previous years. The school “never thought” about the impact, because “the important thing is to take part in the parade, that the children were happy,” Hartatik said. At a media conference called to explain the incident, Probolinggo military commander Lt-Col Kav Depri Rio Saransi said the intention was just to educate children about the “struggle of Islam” but was not radical in nature. he said:

There is not the slightest bit of radicalism. I emphasize that purely there is no such thing as an element of intentionally showing the existence of radical activities.

The furor surrounding the children’s parade even prompted the House speaker in the Indonesian parliament to denounce it as an “inappropriate spectacle” which gives a “poor perception” and could “damage children’s ideas.”

new rose

Israel’s bogus definition of anti-Semitism will unleash havoc in Labour
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, Aug 20 2018

While the Israeli campaign of psychological warfare against Labour continues, the pindo opposition party’s membership is increasingly disquieted by their leaders’ apparent willingness to capitulate. The latest wave of the “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” fabrication is aimed at attempting to coerce the party into adopting the Israeli government’s preferred definition of anti-Semitism. But Palestine solidarity activists have described the IHRA “working definition” as a flawed document which bans key criticisms of Israeli state racism. On Friday, 84 Black, Asian, Arab and other minority groups in Britain released an open letter condemning the IHRA definition as part of the “silencing” of Palestinian colonial history and “a dangerous breach of our own rights, and of the wider British public.” Antony Lerman, the founder of the Institute for Jewish Policy research, tweets:

Lerman has written a concise history of how the document was devised and promoted by the Israeli government and its affiliated lobby groups. Yet recent reports indicate that the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) is set to do a U-turn on its new code of conduct against anti-Semitism. The controversial IHRA “working definition” document was already mostly adopted into the new code in July. But one of the “examples” of anti-Semitism attached to the document, which forbids criticizing Israel as “a racist endeavor,” was rejected by the NEC on grounds of legitimate free speech. Amid all this, the party grassroots have begun campaigning against Israeli-government-backed attempts to change Labour’s rulebook. Activists have established a “Back the Code” website with instructions on how to campaign against the IHRA changes and join a Twitterstorm at 7pm on Monday night by tweeting using the #backneccode hashtag. And more questions are being raised about the role of the Israeli government in this summer’s smear campaign against Labour. Party activists have Jeremy Corbyn and General Secretary Jennie Formby an open letter calling for an investigation. The letter calls for them to look at “how much the Israeli government, or the government of any other foreign power, is interfering in the Labour Party.” The open letter was sent to EI by one of its authors and is currently circulating online. Renowned Israeli anti-Zionist Moshé Machover, himself a target of the Labour Party witch hunt against falsely accused “anti-Semites,” is one of the signatories. The letter asks why no such Labour investigation has been launched, despite Corbyn and his shadow foreign affairs minister Emily Thornberry calling for one last year after the revelation of an Israeli dirty tricks campaign by Al-Jazeera. Another open letter calling on the leadership to “resist calls to adopt all eleven examples accompanying the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism into the party’s code of conduct,” has been signed by more than 5,000 Labour members. Left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour has been campaigning in local parties in defense of the code as it stands, and for the NEC to “resist pressure to adopt the full list of examples attached to the IHRA definition.” Meanwhile, a third open letter has slammed the leadership of pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum in scathing terms, for what it characterized as a failure to stand up to “the latest iteration of the smear campaign.” In the letter, addressed to Momentum’s national coordinating group, 30 members of a local chapter in Camden wrote:

If Momentum’s leadership is not prepared to stand up to the ongoing witch-hunt, it will simply create the conditions for further attacks.

The letter was reported on by Skwawkbox, and EI has spoken to one of its backers. Under pressure, some trade union leaders whose unions have seats on Labour’s ruling executive, the NEC, have called for Labour to adopt the definition, including all of its misleading “examples” of anti-Semitism, when it next meets at the start of September. By way of contrast, left-wing activists and Palestine solidarity campaigners have called for the IHRA document to be dropped.

Momentum-backed candidate for NEC Huda Elmi wrote in the Independent last week that adopting the full IHRA document “will only raise tensions further” and “provide a never-ending supply of rows and media stories.” She wrote that “intense disagreement on Israel and on Zionism will continue to exist” in the party even if it adopts the IHRA document. She continued:

We cannot contravene the right of Palestinians to freely articulate their oppression. Our rich history and tradition as a labour movement of standing shoulder to shoulder with Palestinians would be heavily penalized.

After initially strongly supporting the Labour code of conduct on anti-Semitism Momentum leader Jon Lansman appeared earlier in August to be doing a U-turn. And in a statement to Skwakbox last week, Lansman wrote that he now supports adopting the IHRA document in full “subject to the provisions of our agreed code of conduct.” He told the left-wing news site:

I would absolutely not support interpreting it as preventing BDS.

Last month Barnet council in North London was set to debate a motion which would have banned supporters of BDS from using council facilities, on the basis that BDS is allegedly “consistent with the IHRA’s guidance on the definition of anti-Semitism.” The motion was knocked back to a committee meeting which will take place in October. Despite the smear campaign, the vast majority of the party’s members reject the “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” narrative. Polling in March showed that 77% of members believe it is being “deliberately exaggerated” or “hyped up” to damage Labour and Corbyn. Likely frustrated by this, the Israeli government has begun to intervene more directly. Last week, Netanyahu tweeted to falsely accuse Corbyn of laying a wreath “on the graves of the terrorist who perpetrated the Munich massacre” and of comparing “Israel to the Nazis.”

Corbyn hit back, saying that Netanyahu’s claims were false, and slamming Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza since March, as well as Israel’s new racist “nation state” law. Corbyn tweeted:

His office later complained to the British media’s self-regulated press watchdog IPSO over misleading recent coverage by six newspapers of an old Corbyn visit to a Palestinian conference in Tunisia. The conference took place in 2014, but the media had attempted to turn it into a smear during last year’s general election, and repeated the attempt this month. Corbyn had taken part in a wreath laying to pay tribute to those killed in a 1985 Israeli bombing raid on the PLO’s compound in Tunis. The raid killed 60 Palestinians and Tunisians, including many civilians. Britain’s pro-Israel organizations have continued their relentless media assault on the party this summer, in alliance with right-wing Labour MPs. Without a shred of credible evidence, they have defamed the party as “institutionally anti-Semitic,” and one right-wing pro-Israel MP slandered Corbyn himself as a “fucking anti-Semite and racist.” Most hysterically of all, three pro-Israel newspapers wrote that Corbyn as prime minister would be an “existential threat to Jewish life” in Britain. This was so egregious a slur that one of their own editors publicly denounced it as “repulsive” in an interview with the Canary. Those three papers made the aim of the smear campaign clear in a joint editorial in July when it accused Labour of endorsing something it called “political anti-Semitism targeting Israel.” Yet another reminder that the “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” smear campaign has from its beginnings in earnest in February 2016 been about Israel and Israel only. It has nothing to do with protecting Jews from anti-Semitism.

Here is JTA’s current hit piece:

Jeremy Corbyn appeared on stage in 2012 with Hamas terror chief
JTA, Aug 20 2018

British Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn, already facing scrutiny over his contacts with various Palestinian terrorist groups, hosted a 2012 panel featuring a number of senior members of Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip. According to a new report in The Telegraph, Corbyn appeared beside several individuals who had been convicted of murder and had been freed the previous year in a prisoner swap. Among those who appeared with Corbyn were Khaled Mashaal, who at the time was Hamas’ political chief, and Husam Badran, the erstwhile head of the group’s military wing who had overseen a series of bombings that killed dozens of Israeli civilians, including the 2001 attacks on the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem and the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv. Alongside Mashaal and Badran was Abd’ul-Aziz Umar, who was responsible for the 2003 Cafe Hillel bombing in Jerusalem. Corbyn said during the panel that “their contribution was fascinating and electrifying” despite the fact that the participants appeared to advocate violent attacks against Israel. Badran was filmed at the event saying that the Palestinians had been displaced by force and that “the return will only be viable through military and armed resistance and nothing else.” Corbyn’s spox told The Telegraph:

Jeremy has a long and principled record of solidarity with the Palestinian people and engaging with actors in the conflict to support peace and justice in the Middle East. That is the right thing to do.

On Monday afternoon, i24News, a cable news network based in Jaffa, reported that Corbyn visited Israel and the West Bank to meet with Hamas officials in 2010. According to the report, Corbyn, then a minor MP, was flown in by Middle East Monitor, a British organization which has accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and whose rhetoric was described as “strikingly familiar to older forms of antisemitism” by Britain’s Community Security Trust. During his visit Corbyn met with Hamas representatives in Ramallah, the wife of a convicted Hezbollah spy and several Hamas-linked members of the Palestinian Legislative Council wanted by Israeli police. A hard-left politician who has called Hezbollah and Hamas officials “friends” whom he was “honored” in 2009 to host in Parliament, Corbyn is widely accused of tolerating or ignoring anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel speech, among other forms of Jew hatred. Last week it emerged that Corbyn had attended an event in Tunis in 2012 with PFLP leader Maher al Taher only weeks before members of his organization carried out an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in which six people were killed. The event in question was a commemoration ceremony for the Black September terrorists who took part in the 1972 massacre of 11 Israelis at the Munich Olympics. Corbyn’s participation in the event, in which he was photographed laying a wreath near the terrorists’ grave, has caused an international uproar, provoking fierce reactions from British Jews and Israeli politicians. He subsequently attempted to downplay his involvement in the wreath-laying ceremony, telling Sky News:

I was present when it was laid. I don’t think I was actually involved in it.

Shortly thereafter, it emerged that Corbyn had endorsed the BDS movement against Israel as “part and parcel of a legal process that has to be adopted” during a 2015 conference in Belfast shortly before he he assumed the position of Labour leader. Over the weekend, a Jewish group affiliated with the party accused the heads of the left-wing faction of trying to “censor” material on anti-Semitism it had planned on presenting at an upcoming party gathering. In the 1980s, it says, Corbyn was closely affiliated with Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine, a group which stood in “opposition to the Zionist state as racist, exclusivist, expansionist and a direct agency of imperialism” and which “support the Palestinian people in their struggle for a democratic and secular state in the whole of Palestine.” Many supporters have taken to social media to castigate the Jewish community for their opposition to Corbyn. Jim Sheridan, a former member of Parliament and Corbyn ally, was suspended from Labour over the weekend after writing a Facebook post accusing Jews of plotting against the Labour leader. Sheridan wrote:

For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.

David Horovitz, the British-born editor of The Times of Israel, called for Corbyn’s expulsion from the party in a column Monday. Horovitz noted that Corbyn has not just been a critic of Israeli policies but has been active in groups like the Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine that have actively called for its demise, and concluded:

Britain may soon elect a racist and an anti-Semite as its prime minister.

russia or china

Pentagon report targets China’s “expanding global influence”
Peter Symonds, WSWS, Aug 21 2018

The Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military and security released last Thursday underscores the intense drive by Pindostan to contain and undermine the country that it regards as the major threat to its global domination. While the report focusses on China’s growing military capabilities and international reach, its build-up is in response to Faschingstein’s menacing stance, and is dwarfed by the Pentagon’s world-wide system of alliances and bases,. The Pindo attitude was summed up in January in its NDAA, which declared:

Inter-state strategic competition is now the primary concern.

It prioritised “preparedness for war” against the “revisionist powers,” China and Russia. The targeting of China began under the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” involving a massive expansion of the pindo military in the Indo-Pacific, aimed at encircling and preparing for war against China. Trump has increasingly targeted China as the chief threat to pindo interests both economically and militarily. Embroiled in allegations about “Russian influence” in the pindo elections, Trump lashed out with a tweet last weekend declaring:

All of the fools that are so focussed on looking only at Russia should start also looking in another direction, China.

The political infighting in pindo ruling circles involves bitter divisions over which rival to confront first: Russia or China. The Pentagon report reflects the preoccupations and calculations of the intelligence and military establishment about China’s rising economic and military capabilities. While the international media has dwelled largely on drills of long-range Chinese nuclear bombers, the report’s overriding focus is on China’s restructuring of its land-based army to modern, integrated air, land, naval and missile forces able to counter not only nearby threats but international ones. The report pays significant attention to China’s “expanding global influence” including its strategic and military relations. It vaporizes about Pres Xi Jinping’s “dream of national rejuvenation.” It identifies China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a huge infrastructure program aimed at linking the Eurasia in particular by land and sea, as a top concern. The Pentagon states that Beijing will exploit BRI projects to align the interests of recipient countries with China as well to “deter confrontation or criticism of China’s approach to sensitive issues.” It also declares that some BRI investments “could create military advantages for China,” including by allowing the prepositioning of supplies necessary to sustain naval deployments in distant waters. China’s development of a blue-water navy and the consolidation of safe maritime corridors is hardly surprising given its heavy dependence on the importation of energy and raw materials. Even the Pentagon notes:

The growth of China’s global economic footprint makes its interests increasingly vulnerable to international and regional turmoil.

Beijing is also well aware that Pindo war plans include the use of naval power to cut off vital supplies, blockade China and thus strangle it economically. The report highlights the opening of China’s first overseas military base last year in Djibouti, adjacent to key shipping routes, noting that China may seek additional bases elsewhere. It points to the expansion of China’s joint military exercises with Russia, Pakistan, Vietnam and various other mainly Asian countries, and the growth of its arms exports. None of this remotely compares to the global activities of Pindostan, not least of which is its involvement of a succession of illegal wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. The report reviews key flashpoints in the region including NK, Taiwan, South China and East China Seas as well as the border area with India, where a dangerous standoff between Chinese and Indian troops continued for months. Faschingstein, under Obama and now Trump, has deliberately stoked tensions by encouraging Japan and India to take a more aggressive stance towards Beijing. The report emphasises China’s developments in the area of military technology, paralleling accusations made by the Trump administration that China is “stealing” technological secrets from Pindostan. It claims:

To support this modernisation, China uses a variety of methods to acquire foreign military and dual-use technologies, including targeted foreign direct investment, cyber-theft and exploitation of private Chinese nationals’ access to these technologies.

The Trump administration is exploiting these allegations to justify an escalating barrage of trade war measures against China, not only over its trade surpluses with Pindostan but its “Made in China 2025” program to accelerate Chinese advances in key areas of technology. Earlier this month, Trump signed this year’s massive $716b defence bill containing several clauses directed against China, including controls on government contracts with the Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei. The Chinese foreign ministry declared that it was “strongly dissatisfied” with Trump’s signing of the defence bill, which also provocatively includes a call for Pindostan to “strengthen defence and security cooperation with Taiwan,” calling on Pindostan to “abandon its cold war mindset and zero-sum philosophy” and warning that the bill could damage relations if its negative aspects were implemented. Likewise, China’s defence ministry criticised the Pentagon report released last week, declaring that its claims about China’s military reform, weapons development and defence capabilities were “pure guesswork” and calling on Pindostan to view China’s military “objectively and rationally” and take “actual steps to promote and protect the stable development of military-to-military relations.” In fact, relations are becoming increasingly unstable as Pindostan seeks to use its military might around the world to shore up its global dominance. Having launched into one disastrous war after another over the past 25 years, Pindostan is now preparing for a conflict with China under conditions in which its military superiority is being eroded. The danger is that Pentagon planners are drawing the conclusion that a confrontation with China should take place sooner rather than later.

sick but funny

Boris Johnson gathers support for pro-Brexit Tory leadership challenge
Robert Stevens, WSWS, Aug 21 2018

Parliament’s summer recess has become an occasion for vicious infighting between the contending factions of the ruling elite, with the drive to remove Jeremy Corbyn matched by preparations for a leadership challenge against Theresa May on the other side of the house. The declared aim of the Labour right wing challenging Corbyn is to secure a “People’s Vote” aimed at overturning the referendum vote to quit the EU. May faces removal by her party’s hard Brexit wing, led at this point at least by former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Both factional struggles have a series of crucial dates ahead, including upcoming party conferences and the resumption of parliament, but looming large in their calculations is the Mar 29 2019 Brexit deadline, when a verdict must be delivered on whatever Brexit deal May finally strikes with the EU. May’s opponents have indicated that they want to mount a leadership challenge at the earliest when parliament reconvenes on Sep 4. Johnson has staked his claim to leadership against his rivals, including former Brexit Secretary David Davis, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg, by stoking Islamophobia with attacks on the vanishingly-small percentage of Muslim women who for cultural or religious reasons wear the burqa. In a column for the Daily Telegraph earlier this month, Johnson described women who wear such garments as looking like “letterboxes” and “bank-robbers.” In response, Conservative chair Brandon Lewis launched a formal investigation, while May demanded he apologise, but Johnson and his backers have utilised these moves to portray him as a free-speech martyr whose views are shared by most Tory Party members. The pose of outrage in the liberal media has only served to consolidate his position. One of Johnson’s supporters warned May not to continue with threats to discipline Johnson, as he could count on two-thirds of the party’s MPs to back him over the issue. Four unnamed members of May’s cabinet made known their support for Johnson, with one declaring:

What he said wasn’t that outrageous, and a lot of the party happens to agree with him. The sooner the party throws this investigation out, the better. Lots of people both on the front and back benches are really pissed off.

According to the Brexit-supporting Sun, 38 MPs have already signed up to a leadership challenge out of a 48 needed to trigger a leadership contest against May. One Tory MP told the tabloid:

Any punishment beating will be the tipping point. People will send letters in. They can’t believe what’s happening.

Significantly, Johnson won support from Rees-Mogg, the most influential backbench hard Brexit MP, who said the investigation launched into Johnson’s comments was a “show trial.” Brendan O’Neill of the right-wing libertarian Spiked group, jostling for space in a slew of supportive articles in the Tories house magazine, the Spectator, described Johnson as the “victim of the modern inquisition.” A reported 100 Tory MPs, almost a third of the parliamentary party, are being primed to vote down any deal May reaches with the EU when it comes to a vote in parliament this autumn. Johnson himself is reportedly planning to speak on Brexit at a fringe event at the upcoming Tory conference in October, at which one party figure told Business Insider there would be a “bloodbath” atmosphere. Johnson is often presented as a buffoon who shoots his mouth off without thinking, but he is a seasoned politician who for the most part tests out the water before jumping in. His anti-burqa comments and the leadership ambitions that informed them were spurred on above all by the effusive support he was given by Pres Trump and Steve Bannon. Prior to his July visit to Britain, Trump attacked the EU and Germany at the NATO Summit in Brussels, before denouncing the deal struck by May with her cabinet that is meant to provide for a soft-Brexit, maintaining tariff-free access to the Single European Market. Johnson followed David Davis in resigning from cabinet in protest. Trump made clear his support for their position in an interview with Murdoch’s pro-Brexit Sun, declaring:

May is threatening any future Pindo-British trade deal, because Pindostan would be dealing with the EU, instead of dealing with Britain. We are cracking down right now on the EU, because they have not treated Pindostan fairly on trading.

He added that Johnson would make a “great prime minister.” Bannon openly called on Johnson to challenge May and has been reportedly in secret talks with him ever since his resignation from cabinet. Bannon was also one of the first to rush to Johnson’s defence over his burqa comments, stating that he had “nothing to apologise for” and should refuse to “bow at the altar of political correctness” in an interview with Murdoch’s Sunday Times on Aug 12. Johnson would be a “great Prime Minister, not a good one,” he declared. Amid an escalating trade war, including the imposition of pindo tariffs on EU imports of steel and aluminium and sanctions on China, Russia, Iran and Turkey, the Brexiteers feel they have been confirmed in their belief that compromise with the EU is either impossible if relations with Pindostan deteriorate still further, or unnecessary because Brussels will be forced to accept the opening up of Europe’s markets by pindo threats. Britain is being forced to choose whose side it is on in a global trade war already underway. Will it be with the EU or Pindostan? May, a Remainer, has only managed to avert a leadership challenge thus far because of continuous fudges she has carried out over her Brexit negotiation proposals, and because her opponents were not quite ready. But such is the rift within the Tories that any notion of May continuing to straddle the two warring camps is a pipe dream. Her standing among broad sections of the party was summed up in a column earlier this month by Sherelle Jacobs in the Daily Telegraph. Stating of May that her “populist instincts do not exist,” Jacobs continued:

Although it is not clear when or whether May will be ousted, one thing is certain: her successor must not be another liberal elite centrist.

Johnson still faces rivals among the Eurosceptics, and discussions are reportedly intense over how to proceed, including over whether he should first endorse Davis as a “stalking horse,” given that he who assumes the role of Brutus will not prosper. But over the weekend it emerged that Johnson’s backers are seeking to change party rules so that members and not just MPs are able to nominate leadership candidates, to ensure that his enemies do not spike his leadership bid. The Remain camp continues to present itself as a progressive alternative, including condemning Johnson’s burqa remarks, but this is pure cynicism. May’s record as home secretary is one of the most illiberal in British history, while Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said on the BBC’s Question Time in 2013:

I wouldn’t want my four-year-old looked after by somebody wearing a burka. I wouldn’t want my elderly mum looked after by somebody wearing a burka. They need to be able to show their face.

More generally, a policy of trade war and stepped up militarism in alliance with Europe will demand attacks on working people no less savage than if conducted in alliance with Pindostan. On this agenda of ever-deeper austerity, all factions of the ruling elite are in full agreement.

“money for germany” is money for lockheed, raytheon and boeing

German defence minister upbeat on chance for more weapons funding
Andrea Shalal, Reuters, Aug 21 2018

Von der Leyen next to a Bundeswehr Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter at Holzdorf
Air Base south of Berlin, Jul 24 2018. (Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)

NIEDERSTETTEN – German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday she believed negotiations with the finance ministry, which is led by the Social Democrats, would result in additional funds for major procurement programmes. The finance ministry have been resisting bigger funding increases for the military. The current 2019 budget plan calls for a €4b increase to €42.9b, but the defence ministry says it needs more to meet its needs. Von der Leyen was asked about the prospect of securing additional funds for a big heavy-lift helicopter programme and other arms projects after a demonstration of NH-90 helicopters at an army base in Niederstetten, in southern Germany. nShe replied:

I am optimistic, because we have a clear prioritisation. Ensuring adequate personal equipment for soldiers and digitalisation are the ministry’s top priorities, followed by a large number of weapons programmes. Which arms projects proceed will hinge on talks with MPs and on the successful negotiation of contracts to ensure that funds can be allocated. I am optimistic that we will be able to get our work done.

Von der Leyen had shocked some last month when she said the funding for a €4b programme to replace Germany’s ageing fleet of CH-53K helicopters was not yet secure, and would depend on the outcome of the 2019 budget finalisation process. That could result in delays to a long-awaited competition between two Pindo weapons makers Lockheed Martin and Boeing, a ministry spokesman said. Von der Leyen told reporters she expected progress on one smaller programme: the procurement of seven smaller, light support helicopters to replace an ageing fleet of UH-1D helicopters. She said:

The decisions are being made in these weeks. We hope we can complete the negotiations for a contract by the end of the year so that it can be signed.

Airbus Helicopter is offering the army its H145M helicopter for the order, while Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron and maker of the current models, is offering its 429 aircraft. The expected contract will be worth around €70m, including the aircraft and other services. Von der Leyen said the NH90 helicopter had made progress after some initial growing pains, and it played a big role in aiding a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali that just ended. Colonel Peter Goehringer, commander of Transport Helicopter Regiment 30, one of the army’s two NH90 units, said a range of measures had helped to improve the aircraft’s low readiness rate to 50% and that this would grow further. The NH90 helicopter is built by a consortium owned by Airbus Helicopter, Fokker and Italy’s Leonardo.

rothschild cunts press on

Britain presses for more EU sanctions against Russia
William James, Reuters, Aug 21 2018

LONDON – Britain on Tuesday will call for the EU to increase sanctions against Russia, saying the bloc had to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Pindostan, which hit Moscow with new economic curbs this month. Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt will say that Pres Putin has made the world “a more dangerous place” and that after a CW attack in England, the EU should apply more pressure to ensure Russia sticks to international rules. Hunt will tell an audience in Faschingstein in his first major speech since his appointment in July:

Today, Britain asks its grateful thralls to go further, by calling on the EU to ensure its sanctions against Russia are comprehensive, and that we truly stand shoulder to shoulder with Pindostan. That means calling out and responding to transgressions with one voice whenever and wherever they occur, from the streets of Salisbury to the fate of Crimea.

Earlier this month Pindostan imposed sanctions against Russia covering natsec-related goods. It has promised more hard-hitting measures unless Russia gave “reliable assurances” it would no longer use CW. The sanctions sparked a sell-off across Russian markets and pushed up the country’s cost of borrowing, with both likely to worsen if the second wave of measure is enacted. Britain is preparing to leave the EU next year, but its sanctions policy is currently determined in Brussels. The EU recently agreed to renew sanctions against Russia relating to its annexation of Crimea and activity in the region. But, the EU has not imposed sanctions related to Salisbury, although it strongly condemned Moscow and joined international action to expel Russian officials. Its measures against Russia include finance restrictions and arms exports. Hunt, who took over from Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in July, will meet Pompeo on Wednesday, and address the UNSC on Thursday. His speech later on Tuesday will also outline other threats that Britain sees to the global order, including telling China that “with economic power comes political responsibility” and criticising their inaction over Crimea and CW. On Brexit, Hunt will repeat a message he has been delivering to European leaders over the summer:

The risk of a messy divorce, as opposed to the friendship we seek, would be a fissure in relations between European allies that would take a generation to heal… Now is the time for the EC to engage with an open mind with the fair and constructive proposals made by the PM (ie fuck you, frogs – RB).

the man they couldn’t ban (van buren, not brennan)

Why John Brennan Doesn’t Deserve a Security Clearance
Peter Van Buren, AmConMag, Aug 20 2018

After Pres Trump revoked his security clearance, John Brennan arose as a Hero of Free Speech. On Twitter, he announced in terms that reanimated the Founding Fathers and marched them down Constitution Avenue:

This action is part of a broader effort by Mr Trump to suppress freedom of speech. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.

Twelve former senior intelligence officials agreed, calling Trump’s revocation “an attempt to stifle free speech.” No less than Ben Wizner, a director at the ACLU, stated:

The First Amendment does not permit the president to revoke security clearances to punish his critics.

Bob Corker, the retiring Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, said:

It just feels like sort of a … banana republic kind of thing.

Adm William McRaven, former SEAL and bin Laden killing superhero, said of Trump’s revocation:

Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children.

Relax. The only danger here is to John Brennan’s credibility as a #McResistance pop idol. Over five million Pindos hold security clearances. When a cleared person honorably leaves government, he usually retains his status. Ostensibly this is to allow him to help out his successors, yet most people use their clearances to hop on the gravy train. High-level clearances take time and cost a lot of money to obtain. Retired, cleared federal employees can slide into a range of lucrative contractor jobs. They can also use their clearances to garner information from old colleagues and put it to vaguely legal use at think tanks, universities, and as media analysts. That’s not to say that once out of government a former employee can run around openly sharing secrets. What officials can do, and Brennan is pack leader, is become “sources” for journalists, unpaid positions albeit ones of extraordinary political power. Next up is to become a paid commentator, as Brennan also has done, where he can imply and allude to classified information to bolster his credibility. “If you could only see what I see,” the line goes, and the audience fills in the blanks. None of this is particularly unique to Brennan though. To fully understand the real impact of his losing his security clearance, one has to grasp the role he plays in the “Destroy Trump” ecosystem. If Mueller is the guy at the table who chooses his words carefully, Brennan is the drunk uncle, blurting out crazy stuff that would be embarrassing except you so desperately want to believe him. To the anti-Trump family, Mueller has been a real disappointment. Already into his second year of an investigation that seems to have no end in sight, he’s off mopping up Paul Manafort’s financial naughtiness from a decade ago, which doesn’t appear to have anything to do with “collusion.” Unless he’s planning to drop a bomb just ahead of the midterms and ignite a full-on war over interference in the Pindo political process, Mueller is pretty much on ice until, if the Demagogs improbably score a lot of new seats in November, the end of the year. Not Uncle John. Within hours of losing his clearance and ostensibly some of his free speech rights, Brennan appeared in the NYT announcing:

Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.

And about that security clearance? Brennan plays with us, stating:

While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware, thanks to the reporting of an open and free press, of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some Pindo citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.

Bang! Brennan mentions his “deep insight” from 2016, implying classified stuff, then saves himself from an Espionage Act charge by saying it’s really all just from reading the news. The does-he-or-doesn’t-he game adds shady credibility as he spews up fact-less opinions. Brennan, with his access to tippy-top secret stuff, would know, even if he couldn’t tell us just now, right? He might as well be peddling a revised version of 2002’s WMD tall tale. Of course, the punch line is that, if there was anything to really know, Mueller and all of the CIA already would know, and maybe just haven’t gotten around to acting on it over the last couple of years. So how do you keep a politically useful story alive in the absence of conclusive evidence? John Brennan. The ever-pliant media has been quick to pick up on his value. The WaPo’s David Ignatius reminds us that Brennan absolutely knows the truth:

Trump was frightened, and remains so to this day, about just how much Brennan knows about his secrets. And by that, I don’t just mean his dealings with Russian oligarchs and presidents but the way he moved through a world of fixers, flatterers and money launderers. What does Brennan know? What did he learn from the CIA’s deep assets in Moscow?

That’s why Brennan wants his security clearance, and the media wants him to have it. He wants the flexibility to leak bits of real secrets to the press, while overtly hinting to the public that he knows the whole story, sealing the deal with a wink. Mueller is the stern dad who may or may not come through. The rotating cast of jesters, Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti, Tom Arnold, Omarosa, enliven the story with cheap entertainment. Brennan is the big voice who coughs up Trump attacks, driving the narrative. As a true Deep State actor, he implies proof without ever producing proof. Spewing capital charges without evidence, hoping the accusations alone do damage, is pure McCarthyism, and Brennan has learned that lesson, even if we, and the media, have not. Brennan needed that clearance as a hedge against sounding like just another old man shouting at Trump in stream-of-consciousness rants on Twitter. The media needed him to have it so he appeared credible enough for the front pages. Implied access to the real classified story is the only thing that separated Brennan from every other Russiagate conspiracymonger cluttering up social media. Is it all political? Sure. But what was the point of Brennan, or other Obama-era officials unlikely to be consulted by the Trump administration, having clearances that outlived their government tenures anyway? Brennan monetized his security clearance to flavor his “commentary” with the tang of inside knowledge. There is no government interest in that, and the government has no place allowing Brennan to hold a clearance for his own profit. Shutting him down preserves the entire point of issuing a clearance, which is so the grantee can do Uncle Sam’s bidding. A clearance isn’t a gift; it’s a tool issued by the government so employees can get work done. Brennan is working now only for himself. He deserved to lose his clearance.

chickens

French energy giant Total quits lucrative Iran gas project
Al-Jazeera, Aug 20 2018

French energy giant Total confirmed it is withdrawing from a multibillion-dollar gas project in Iran after it failed to obtain a waiver from US sanctions. Total signed a deal worth $4.8b in Jul 2017 to develop a field off Iran’s southern coast as the lead partner alongside the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Iran’s Petropars. the company told AFP news agency on Monday:

Total has notified the Iranian authorities of its withdrawal from the contract following the 60-day deadline for obtaining a potential waiver from the Pindo boxtops. Despite the backing of the French and European authorities, such a waiver could not have been obtained.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said the company had notified authorities of its decision to exit the deal. “Total has officially left the agreement for the development of phase 11 of South Pars,” Zanganeh said, emphasising the dire state of Iran’s oil-and-gas facilities, which he said were “worn out” and in need of renovation that Iran could not afford. The deal was meant to bring in state-of-the-art technology to tap the gas field, which Iran could then replicate on surrounding ones. Total has $10b of capital in pindo assets (a mere 4% of their $242.63 global assets – RB), and pindo banks are involved in 90% of its financing operations, meaning it would have been highly vulnerable to pindo penalties for remaining in Iran. Zanganeh said the process to find a replacement for Total was under way. But it is unlikely that CNPC or Iran’s own firms can take over the project, said Homayoun Falakshahi, an energy analyst for Wood Mackenzie in London. He said:

The technology Total was hoping to implement would have been world-first, using electricity to compress the gas. The other complication is that it needs huge platforms. Iran can build 5,000 to 7,000-tonne platforms. This would have been 20,000 tonnes.

The urgent need for investment to upgrade Iran’s dilapidated energy infrastructure was a key motivator behind its decision to join the 2015 nuclear deal. The Total deal was the only major investment project finalised after the nuclear deal came into force.

a civilized liberal like craig murray may never share my views, but i can share his

Charlie Rowley is back in hospital. A drug overdose is hinted at in this piece – RB

Novichok poisoning victim Charlie Rowley back in intensive care
Sky News, Aug 21 2018

Novichok poisoning victim Charlie Rowley is back in the hospital intensive care unit he was discharged from a month ago. He was taken there on Friday after falling ill at home where he was continuing his recovery from the effects of the nerve agent. It is understood he is critically ill and being treated for something unrelated to the poisoning which almost killed him. Before being poisoned, Mr Rowley had been dealing with personal problems, including a drug habit, according to friends. His brother Matthew Rowley said:

He was released too early. He was suddenly let out of hospital and found it difficult to cope.

A Gangster State
Craig Murray, Aug 20 2018

Max Weber defined a key attribute of a state as holding the monopoly on the legitimate exercise of violence within a given territory. For anybody other than the state to use substantive physical force against you or to imprison you is regarded as an extremely serious crime. The state itself may however constrain you, beat you, imprison you and even kill you. That link is on deaths in police custody. I might also quote the state murder of 12-year-old British child Jojo Jones, deliberately executed by drone strike by Pindostan with prior approval from the British government. That is but one example of the British state’s decreasing reticence over the use of extreme violence. The shameless promotion of Cressida Dick to head the Metropolitan Police as reward for orchestrating the cold-blooded murder of an innocent and unresisting Jean Charles de Menezes is another example. So is Savid Javid’s positive encouragement of Pindostan to employ the death penalty against British men stripped of citizenship.

There are a class of states where the central government does not have sufficient control over its territories to preserve its monopoly of violence. That may include violence in opposition to the state. But one further aspect of that is state-sanctioned violence in pursuit of state aims by non-state actors, done with a nod and a wink from the government: death squads and private militias in South America, often CIA-supplied, have often acted this way, and so occasionally does the British state, for example in the murder of Pat Finucane. In some instances, a state might properly be described as a gangster state, where violent groups acting for personal gain act in concert with state authorities, with motives of personal financial profit involved on both sides. It appears to me in this sense it is fair to call Britain a gangster state. It has contracted out the exercise of state violence, including in same instances to the point of death, against prisoners and immigration detainees to companies including G4S, who exercise that violence purely for the making of profit from it. It is a great moral abomination that violence should be exercised against humans for profit, and it should be clear that in even in most “humane” conditions the deprivation of physical liberty of any person is an extreme and chronic exercise of violence against them. I do not deny the necessity of such action on occasion to protect others, but that the state shares out its monopoly of violence, so that business interests with which the political class are closely associated can turn a profit, is a matter of extreme moral repugnance.

Rory Stewart appeared on Sky News this morning and the very first point he saw fit to make was a piece of impassioned shilling on behalf of G4S. That this was the first reaction of the Prisons Minister to a question on the collapse of order at Birmingham Prison due to G4S’ abject performance, shows both the Tories’ ideological commitment to privatisation in all circumstances, especially where it has demonstrably failed, and shows also the extent to which they are in the pockets of financial interests, and not in the least concerned about the public interest. I should add to this that Tories here includes Blairites. Blair and Brown were gung-ho for prison privatisation, and even keen to extend the contracting out of state violence for profit to the military sector by the deployment of mercenary soldiers, which New Labour itself consciously rebranded as “private military companies.” Iraq was a major exercise in this with British government contracted mercenaries often outnumbering actual British troops. The reason for the state to have the monopoly of violence in any society is supposed to be in order to ensure that violence is only ever exercised with caution, with regret and in proportion, solely in unavoidable circumstances. It is the most profound duty of a state to ensure that this is so. The contracting out of state violence for private profit ought to be unthinkable to any decent person.

britain has wasted billions funding nazis

Russia urges rebels in Idlib to distance selves from Nusra
Reuters, Aug 20 2018

MOSCOW – Russia’s foreign minister called on Monday for opposition groups in Idlib province to distance themselves from Jabhat al-Nusra. Russia has also asked the UN Sec-Gen why the organisation is not participating in Syria’s reconstruction, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow after talks with his Lebanese counterpart.

Western media frames Jihadi-controlled Idlib as peaceful enclave under assault by Assad
RT.com, Aug 21 2018

Western media reports denouncing the SAA offensive to retake Idlib conveniently fail to mention that the area is controlled by warring Jihadi groups that were designated as terrorists by the Pindo State Dept. Idlib province is the last major Jihadi stronghold in the country, but you would never know it if you got your news exclusively from CNN. As RT’s Ilya Petrenko explains, some Western media reports have attempted to portray Idlib as a peaceful enclave under assault by the SAA, while omitting the fact that the region is ruled by extremist groups such as Tahrir al-Sham (better known as Jabhat al-Nusra, or AQ in Syria), Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam and Nour al-Din al-Zenki. These groups have been accused of beheading children, abductions, torture, and attacks on journalists and aid workers, among other crimes. Jayash al-Islam even once paraded caged hostages through neighborhoods that it once controlled, in hopes of using the civilians as human shields. Several of the groups currently holed up in Idlib were placed on the terrorist list by then-Sec State John Kerry. The Western media tactic of painting a Jihadi stronghold as a bastion of legitimate resistance under siege by Assad was similarly deployed during the campaign to liberate East Aleppo, with breathless reports about bombed civilians, carefully ignoring the fact that designated terrorist groups, not “moderate rebels,” controlled the city. And as the SAA advances on Idlib, the media is once again starting to howl. Sky News even boasted of having “exclusive access to Idlib province,” describing the region as “the final rebel-held area of the country.” However, it appears that the narrative is already starting to crumble. The disclosure sparked considerable pushback on social media, with some commenters openly speculating about how Sky News was granted “exclusive access” to an area controlled by warring Jihadi groups. In another setback to the “besieged moderate rebel” narrative, Britain is cutting its funding for rebel groups in Syria, with the Times noting that the decision was made in light of the fact that the war was coming to an end and remaining rebel areas had “fallen into the grip of Jihadis.”

Britain Finally Ditches “Moderate Rebels”
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Aug 21 2018

CNN warns that Syrian and Russian forces are closing in on the “last rebel stronghold” in Syria while characteristically failing to inform its readers that the “rebel” coalition in control of the north-west pocket of Idlib is HTS/Nusra. With the final major battle looming which could mark the ultimate end and final chapter to the war, the Western public is about to be subjected to a final end-all media onslaught of “the last hospital” and “the last school” and “the last humanitarian rescuers” type stories similar to how the media presented the battle for Aleppo in 2016. Starting this past weekend, the refrain started, as NBC reported:

Humanitarian groups fear a ‘bloodbath’ as Assad looks to press the advantage and wipe out the last pockets of resistance.

This was echoed across a dozen other outlets. There’s now even an Idlib version of “Bana” that popped up on twitter only a month ago. Six-year old “Hala” supposedly set up an account to publish awareness videos telling the world to keep their “eyes on Idlib” ahead of Assad’s impending military campaign. However, there are some few outlets out there that recently decided to finally drop the worn out transparent charade of “moderate rebels” and simply call Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham for what it is. Business Insider, for example, accurately labels Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) a terrorist group in some of their recent headlines, and has called the AQ affiliate “the next Daesh.” But it appears that HTS is set to be wiped about before fully establishing control as the next Daesh as Syrian government ground forces and the Russian Air Force have already begun eroding their perimeters, which had been established when AQ first took Idlib city and much of the surrounding province in 2015, with UKUS coalition help. Over the past days and weeks, massive Syrian troop and heavy armor deployments have been seen amassing outside the AQ-held province, poised for a final offensive. This after Syria’s southern Daraa and Quneitra provinces were liberated in a mere matter of weeks. But perhaps the greatest sign that the writing is on the wall for Syria’s “the last rebel stronghold” (to repeat CNN’s words), there are new reports that Britain has cut off its long-time support to the “moderate rebels” it has for years throughout the war funded and armed. According to The Guardian:

The British government is to end funding to a scheme to support the Syrian opposition, deeming the programmes now too risky to operate as the final rebel-held areas face imminent attack from Bashar al-Assad’s forces. While humanitarian support will continue, the ending of this governance programme is highly symbolic, suggesting Britain has accepted that the Syrian opposition, which it has backed since the early days of the civil war in 2012 to 2013, is facing imminent defeat from a combination of Syrian regime forces and Russian airstrikes.

On Monday a British government spox told Reuters:

As the situation on the ground in some regions has become increasingly difficult we have reduced support for some of our non-humanitarian programming, but continue to deliver vital support to help those most in need and to improve security and stability in the country.

This is in essence Britain finally admitting its side has lost, though we should note its “humanitarian funding” will continue to flow to controversial groups like the ‘White Helmets’ who have long been proven to work in tandem with AQ.