12/22/14

Permalink Ruble Crash: China Pledges to Support Russia

Though it has been entirely unreported in the West, China has been saying all week that it stands ready to support Russia if its help is needed. With $3 trillion of reserves the sums necessary would from China’s point of view be small change. The only condition is that Russia must first ask China for assistance, as this editorial in the semi-official English language Chinese newspaper Global Times sets out. Global Times belongs to The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, so an editorial published by Global Times has official sanction and represents the opinion of the Chinese government. Putting the question beyond any further doubt were comments pledging support for Russia from the Chinese Foreign and Commerce Ministers as reported by the Russian TASS news agency.

Larchmonter 445/Vineyard of the Saker The China-Russia Double Helix [PDF]
Sputnik News: China Ready to Assist Russia in Solving Economic Problems: Foreign Minister


Permalink N. Korea threatens US, demands apology for Obama’s ‘reckless rumors’ of Sony hack

N. Korea has demanded an apology from the US for “recklessly” circulating an unsubstantiated rumor about Pyongyang’s culpability in the recent Sony hack, warning the “proportional” response promised by Obama will be met with the “toughest counteraction.” The FBI report of the investigation into the hack at the Sony Pictures Entertainment is based on “intentional allegation rather than scientific evidence” of the North Korean involvement, said the Policy Department of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK. “After all, the grounds cited by the FBI in its announcement were all based on obscure sci-tech data and a false story and, accordingly, the announcement itself is another fabrication,” the statement reads, that accuses the US of “gangster-like behavior”. [Hard to disagree with that.]


12/19/14

Permalink Did North Korea really hack Sony Pictures? Some experts aren't so sure

Last week, a dreadful message appeared on the computers of some Sony Pictures employees. "Hacked by #GOP," the text read, referring to a group calling itself Guardians of Peace. "Obey us," they wrote in the message, plastered over a drawing of a skull that seemed to be lifted from children's horror book cover. Far from a stunt, the attack has actually compromised gigabytes, if not terabytes, of internal Sony Pictures files, including five leaked movies and a vast number of sensitive documents. After siphoning off all that data, the hackers apparently used destructive malware to wipe Sony's computers and make them unusable — something akin to a group of robbers stealing boxes of documents from a corporate office and then setting it on fire. As news of the attacks started spreading, rumors soon followed. Unnamed sources pointed the finger at North Korea, partly on the basis that the country was angry about Sony Pictures' upcoming comedy The Interview, which pokes fun at the secluded communist regime and its leader, Kim Jong-un.

RT.com: FBI formally accuses North Korea in Sony hack
PC World: Think North Korea hacked Sony? Think about this
TMZ: North Korean Government: Sony Hackers Don't Work For Us
RT.com: Sony slammed by Deputy PM Clegg for bowing to N. Korean ‘intimidation’
Dmitri Trenin Russia-NK Opening Sends Message to Region
Patrick Martin US stokes conflict with North Korea over Sony hacking


12/18/14

Permalink Russia may seek China help to deal with crisis

Russia could fall back on its 150 billion yuan (HK$189.8 billion) currency swap agreement with China if the rouble continues to plunge. If the swap deal is activated for this purpose, it would mark the first time China is called upon to use its currency to bail out another currency in crisis. The deal was signed by the two central banks in October, when Premier Li Keqiang visited Russia. "Russia badly needs liquidity support and the swap line could be an ideal tool," said Bank of Communications chief economist Lian Ping. The swap allows the central banks to directly buy yuan and rouble in the two currencies, rather than via the US dollar. Two bankers close to the People's Bank of China said it was meant to reduce the role of the US dollar if China and Russia need to help each other overcome a liquidity squeeze. China has currency swap deals with more than 20 monetary authorities around the world. Swaps are generally used to settle trade. "The yuan-rouble swap deal was not just a financial matter," said Wang Feng, chairman of Shanghai-based private equity group Yinshu Capital. "It has political implications as it is a sign of mutual trust."


12/17/14

Permalink “Mass sterilization”: Kenyan Doctors Find Anti-fertility Agent in UN Tetanus Vaccine

According to LifeSiteNews, a Catholic publication, the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association is charging UNICEF and WHO with sterilizing millions of girls and women under cover of an anti-tetanus vaccination program sponsored by the Kenyan government. The Kenyan government denies there is anything wrong with the vaccine, and says it is perfectly safe. The Kenya Catholic Doctors Association, however, saw evidence to the contrary, and had six different samples of the tetanus vaccine from various locations around Kenya sent to an independent laboratory in South Africa for testing. The results confirmed their worst fears: all six samples tested positive for the HCG antigen. The HCG antigen is used in anti-fertility vaccines, but was found present in tetanus vaccines targeted to young girls and women of childbearing age.


12/16/14

Permalink Sydney siege ends in violent police assault

Mike Head A 16-hour police siege of an inner Sydney café culminated in a full-scale assault by para-military commandos just after 2 a.m., leaving two hostages dead, as well as the lone hostage-taker. The bloody outcome also left many unanswered questions about the entire incident, including the fatal decision to storm the building. Police and security officials kept reporters far away from the scene throughout the siege, making it impossible to view what happened, but long-distance footage showed heavily-armed units storming the building, firing stun grenades and semi-automatic weapons. Just minutes earlier, at least 5 of the 17 hostages fled the building, as did 5 last night. Soon after the siege was ended, Prime Minister Tony Abbott issued a statement commending the “courage and professionalism” of the police and other emergency services involved. Yet the official justifications offered for sending in commandos, resulting in three deaths, were full of contradictions.

Peter Symonds Without providing any justification, the Australian government yesterday seized on an isolated incident involving a deeply disturbed individual in the Sydney CBD to activate the entire “counter-terrorism” apparatus and impose a state of siege in the centre of the country’s largest city—with tragic consequences. What would ordinarily have been dealt with as a serious, but relatively straightforward, police matter—an armed gunman taking hostages in a city café—was escalated into a major national crisis by the intervention of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with the full support of the opposition Labor Party and the Greens, state governments and the entire media. [...] No rational reason has been offered for this massive police operation. Police determined relatively quickly that the hostage-taker was Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee well-known to police. He had no connection to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al Qaeda or any other Islamic extremist organisation. He was a troubled individual, with a history of erratic actions, on bail for alleged involvement in the murder of his ex-wife. Likewise, no coherent explanation has been given for the decision to storm the café in the early hours of this morning. The NSW police commissioner initially declared that officers charged into the building in response to shots heard inside, then declined to repeat his statement. The outcome is that the hostage-taker is dead, along with two innocent people—the café manager and a mother of three—and four others are injured.


12/15/14

Permalink Probable Islamic terror hoax in Australia

ISIS™ nabs a chocolate shop in Sydney, right across from Channel 7! As of 10 PM Central time on the 14th (which is the 15th in Australia) an "Islamic terrorist" has taken over a Lindt chocolate shop in Sydney Australia and held 50 people hostage. But there are serious problems with this story. The first problem? A sign the hostages reportedly were forced to hold up against the windows which read "We sacrifice ourselves for you, O Mohamed" was shown via a blurry photograph and had incomplete text. This would be expected of a hack doing this, no Muslim would get the text wrong. The second serious problem is that this is purportedly an ISIS action. But it appears to be a lone gunman doing it all, which reeks to high heaven of a pre programmed CIA drone doing this according to what ever script was washed into his head especially with the sign being apparently half baked in appearance. The third serious problem? As of 10 PM CST, absolutely nothing about this has been released on anything other than twitter. Nada on Drudge, CNN or anywhere else.

Stephen Lendman Knee-Jerk Reaction to Sydney Hostage Siege
AP/Big Story: Police say Sydney cafe hostage situation over
Sputnik News: Sydney Opera Evacuated After Reports of Suspicious Package
Itar-Tass: Five hostages escape from cafe in Sydney, negotiations underway
PressTV: Five hostages escape from Australia cafe


12/04/14

Permalink How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide

Ryan Gallagher In March 2011, two weeks before the Western intervention in Libya, a secret message was delivered to the National Security Agency. An intelligence unit within the U.S. military’s Africa Command needed help to hack into Libya’s cellphone networks and monitor text messages. For the NSA, the task was easy. The agency had already obtained technical information about the cellphone carriers’ internal systems by spying on documents sent among company employees, and these details would provide the perfect blueprint to help the military break into the networks. The NSA’s assistance in the Libya operation, however, was not an isolated case. It was part of a much larger surveillance program—global in its scope and ramifications—targeted not just at hostile countries.


12/03/14

Permalink UN Resolution: Israel Must Renounce Nuclear Arms

The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved an Arab-backed resolution Tuesday calling on Israel to renounce possession of nuclear weapons and put its nuclear facilities under international oversight. The resolution, adopted in a 161-5 vote, noted that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country that is not party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It called on Israel to "accede to that treaty without further delay, not to develop, produce test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons" and put its nuclear facilities under the safeguard of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. The United States, Canada, Palau and Micronesia joined Israel in opposing the measure, while 18 countries abstained. Israel is widely considered to possess nuclear arms but declines to confirm it.


11/28/14

Permalink UN Committee against Torture condemns US human rights record

The United Nations harshly criticized the United States on Friday for torturing detainees in prison, the militarization of police and "numerous reports" of police brutality against minorities. A report by the UN Committee against Torture concluded that the US has failed to comply with international anti-torture treaties, citing police shootings of unarmed black youth, military interrogations, maximum security prisons and extensive use of solitary confinement among areas of concern. The UN Convention's first review of the US record on preventing torture since 2006 came amid high tensions and violent protests in the US against a grand jury's decision to exonerate a white police officer after he shot dead a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. The UN committee cited deep concern about the frequent sexual assault of inmates, shackling of pregnant women in some prisons, racial profiling, as well as the "excruciating pain and prolonged suffering” of prisoners during "botched executions."


Permalink Russia & China to accuse U.S. of not having the gold

King World News has published an interview with expert Steve Quayle who said he believed that China and Russia were going to publicly demand that the US show its gold reserve "Less than a year ago I was given access to information about intended economic war plans that indicated that a time is coming very soon when both Russia and China will announce to the world that they don’t believe the United States has all [8,100 tons of ] the gold it claims to possess," Quayle said. He added that "China already possesses more physical gold than anyone in the world." Earlier, Germany and Switzerland announced their intention to take their gold back from abroad. Quayle said that his efforts sparked an intense debate over German gold repatriation in the German media. When a country filed a request with the FRS to repatriate its gold, the request was denied or a country only received a token amount back. Officially, Germany was told that its gold would be safer where it is. Unofficially, it is believed that there it did not seem possible to repatriate the gold reserve from America. This has led Quayle to believe that the FRS does not have gold in its vaults.


11/27/14

Permalink Suit says Goldman Sachs, others rigged metals prices

Banks Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Standard Bank and a unit of chemical producer BASF conspired to manipulate platinum and palladium prices, according to a US lawsuit filed this week. The class-action suit, filed Tuesday in New York, said the four defendants shared nonpublic information about client purchases and sale orders to manipulate prices for their benefit and to the detriment of plaintiffs. This illegal sharing of information "gave them the ability to execute trades... in advance of those (price) movements," the complaint said. "This unlawful behaviour allowed Defendants to reap substantial profits, while non-insiders, which include Plaintiffs and members of the Class, were injured." The plaintiff, Modern Settings, a US maker of jewelry and other metal products, alleges it lost value on "tens of thousands of transactions" due to the conspiracy, the complaint said. Investors in the commodities "lost millions of dollars as a result of this conduct," said Labaton Sucharow, the firm representing the plaintiffs, in a statement.


11/26/14

Permalink 41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground

New analysis of data conducted by human rights group Reprieve shared with the Guardian, raises questions about accuracy of intelligence guiding ‘precise’ strikes. The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur. Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not. However many Americans know who Zawahiri is, far fewer are familiar with Qari Hussain. Hussain was a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida that trained the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, before his unsuccessful 2010 attack. The drones first came for Hussain years before, on 29 January 2008. Then they came on 23 June 2009, 15 January 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 October 2010. Finally, on 15 October 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator or Reaper drone killed Hussain, the Pakistani Taliban later confirmed. For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm.

RT.com: 50 civilians dead in US-led airstrikes against ISIS in Syria – UN


11/25/14

Permalink U.S. Among Only 3 Countries at U.N. Officially Backing Nazism & Holocaust-Denial; Israel Parts Company from Them; Germany Abstains

Eric Zuesse In a U.N. vote, on November 21st, only three countries — the United States, Ukraine, and Canada — voted against a resolution to condemn racist facsism, or “nazism,” and to condemn denial of Germany’s World War II Holocaust against primarily Jews. This measure passed the General Assembly, on a vote of 115 in favor, 3 against, and 55 abstentions (the abstentions were in order not to offend U.S. President Obama, who was opposed to the resolution). The measure had been presented to their General Assembly after a period of more than a decade of rising “neo-Nazi” (i.e., racist-fascist) movements in Europe, including especially in Ukraine, where two Ukrainian nazi parties were installed by the U.S. into high posts in Ukraine’s new government, immediately after the democratically elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych was overthrown in a violent coup in Kiev during February of this year. [...] Ukraine voted no on this resolution because this new Ukrainian Government is the only nazi regime in the world.[...] Germany abstained from voting on this resolution because their leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, does not want to offend the U.S. President by voting for a resolution that the U.S. Government strongly opposes; and also because, as today’s leader of the land where nazism started — in the first nazi political party, the Nazi Party of Germany — she does not want Germany to vote against a resolution that condemns Nazism.


11/20/14

Permalink Individuals from 17 countries urge the UN General Assembly to debate the Hammarskjöld Commission Report

Leading individuals from seventeen countries, many having served the United Nations in senior positions, have urged the UN General Assembly to re-open the UN inquiry of 1961-62 into the cause of the death of former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has suggested the General Assembly may wish to consider three options in pursuing the matter further. He also called on Member States ‘in the light of the passage of time, to declassify any relevant records in their possession.’

RORG: Hvem drepte Dag Hammarskjöld?
Dagens Nyheter: Regering byter linje angående Hammarskjölds död
The People's Voice: The Murder of Count Folke Bernadotte


11/18/14

Permalink Here's What Really Happened at the G20 in Australia

Western media reports of the summit are an embarrassing travesty
Far from isolated, Putin was embraced by the great majority of heads of state
Idea that he left early, upset over criticism is total, complete, sheer, bloody rot - a new low for western media who alleged this in chorus
EU leaders tried to browbeat Putin - Putin told them to take a few laps in the Brisbane river, and explained to them yet again, correctly, that it is he, in fact, who holds the strong cards in Ukraine, and that the EU had better get its act together
As before, the EU has no idea what to do about the Ukraine mess
The clinically obtuse Mr. Obama managed to insult China


11/14/14

Permalink Top 5 takeaways from Putin ahead of G20

US sanctions violate the very system they created. Sanctions levied against Russia are against the norms of international trade and the core principles of the G20, as they can only be introduced via the United Nations, Putin said. Sanctions are “against WTO principles and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the GATT. The United States itself created that organization at a certain point. Now it is crudely violating its principles,” Putin explained.
Interconnected economy: What hurts us hurts you Sanctions against Russia have targeted the finance, energy and weaponry sectors of the economy. Russia’s retaliatory sanctions to ban agricultural imports are having a colossal ripple effect on jobs, social sectors, and growth. This is especially pertinent to Europe, which is feeling the squeeze of the agricultural export ban to Russia, one its biggest markets. “Everyone must understand that the global economy and finance these days are exceptionally dependent on each other,” Putin said. Germany’s economic growth is an example of financial blowback from sanctions with Russia.

Stephen Lendman Putin: Sanctions Violate International Law
Itar-Tass: Putin: We are guided by interests rather than feelings in dealing with our partners


Permalink President Obama’s gum chewing habit at the APEC Summit pissed off a lot of people in China - Video

Obama chewed out for gum gaffe in China at the APEC summit. People in China took to the internet to criticise President Obama for getting caught on camera chewing gum as he arrived at an economic summit in Beijing. Some also took offence to his method of transportation.


11/11/14

Permalink President Obama pushes for secretive trans-Pacific trade deal in China

President Barack Obama is again pushing international leaders to finalize the trans-Pacific trade deal between 12 countries that would eradicate tariffs and regulations, but critics say the secretive negotiations have been a boon only to corporations. Leaders of the countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal at this week’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings have not set a timetable for settling the pact, but the Obama administration is optimistic that by end of his eight-day visit to Asia a deal can be reached. If finalized, it would eliminate tariffs on goods and services and change regulations for labor, government procurement, state-owned enterprises, intellectual property and environmental protections. The deal would also enhance the United States’ presence in Asia, something the White House has wanted to do ever since President Obama was first inaugurated.

PressTV: US promoting military agenda in Pacific: Dennis Etler
SputnikNews (RIA Novosti): Putin, Obama Spoke Several Times in Beijing, Discussed Bilateral Relations
Stephen Lendman Obama at APEC


11/07/14

Permalink DNA evidence proves that early humans survived the last Ice Age

The earliest humans to live in Europe managed to survive the last Ice Age, a ferocious change in the climate that covered much of the continent in a thick layer of ice, a study has found. Scientists analysing the genetic makeup of the fossilised bones of a man who lived about 37,000 years ago in what is now western Russia found that his DNA is similar to modern-day Europeans suggesting they have a longer, continuous history than previously supposed. The fossilised shinbone was found at a Stone Age site near the village of Kostenki on the River Don, and the successful extraction and sequencing of the man’s DNA means it is now the second oldest complete genome for anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens.


10/31/14

Permalink Putin To Western Elites: Play-Time Is Over

Most people in the English-speaking parts of the world missed Putin's speech at the Valdai conference in Sochi a few days ago. Western media did their best to ignore it or to twist its meaning. Regardless of what you think or don't think of Putin, this is probably the most important political speech since Churchill's “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946. In this speech, Putin abruptly changed the rules of the game. To sum it all up: play-time is over. Children, put away your toys. Now is the time for the adults to make decisions. Russia is ready for this; is the world?

Key quotes from Putin's Valdai speech in Sochi - His strongest yet against the Western Empire
PaulCraig Roberts Vladimir Putin Is The Leader Of the Moral World


Permalink Climate change measures like 'primitive civilisations offering up sacrifices to appease the gods', says Maurice Newman

The Abbott government's chief business adviser says too much time has been spent focusing on global warming and as a result Australians are "ill prepared" to deal with the prospect of global cooling. Maurice Newman, who has been vocal in his climate change scepticism, has attacked governments, including the former Labor government, for pursuing "green gesture politics" by introducing carbon price signals in an opinion piece for the Murdoch-owned News Corp publication The Australian. He likened the measures to "primitive civilisations offering up sacrifices to appease the gods".

Eric Worrall Maurice Newman, Aussie PM Abbott’s most senior advisor, on the dangers of global cooling


10/30/14

Permalink Mein Datenschatten als Grafik: So durchschaubar sind wir

Diese Infografik hat es in sich: Der Politiker Malte Spitz hat bei Firmen und Behörden nach seinen Daten gefragt. Das Ergebnis ist erschreckend. Der Grünen-Politiker Malte Spitz hat sich auf die Suche nach seinen Daten gemacht. Er hat bei Unternehmen und Behörden nachgefragt, was über ihn alles gespeichert ist. Manchmal hat er Auskunft bekommen, so wie es das Gesetz auch vorsieht. Seine Recherche ist gerade als Buch erschienen. "Was macht ihr mit meinen Daten" heißt es. Aus den Antworten ergibt sich ein riesiger Datenschatten, eine Sammlung von Einträgen in elektronischen Verzeichnissen, die zum Teil mehr als ein Jahrzehnt in die Vergangenheit reicht. Wohin Malte Spitz geflogen ist, wann er sich bei der Bahn beschwert hat, wer seine Klicks im Internet speichert, all das findet sich in seinem Datenschatten. Den zeigt diese Abbildung - mit dem Mauszeiger lassen sich über die Buttons oben bestimmte Datenquellen hervorheben. Allerdings ist das Daten-Abbild unvollständig: "Ich hätte vermutlich eine Handvoll Anwälte, ein paar Tausend Euro und drei Jahre Zeit für etliche Klagen haben müssen", schreibt Spitz. Denn nicht alle von ihm angeschriebenen Datenerfasser wollten herausrücken, was sie alles über Spitz speichern. Außerdem fehlt ein wichtiger, dicker Brocken: All das nämlich, was Internet- und Mobilfunkbetreiber anhand von gespeicherten Verbindungsdaten über Spitz wissen könnten. Das hat der Politiker vor einigen Jahren schon einmal gesondert auswerten lassen. Doch auch der unvollständige Datensatz zeigt eindrucksvoll, dass wir längst die Kontrolle verloren haben. [Ein Dankeschön an Steigan Blogger]


10/29/14

Permalink Who and What Is Causing the Decline in Oil Prices, and Where Will It Lead?

RIA Novosti With oil hovering around the $80-85 per barrel mark, down nearly 30 percent from a high of over $115 in mid-June, media and expert analysis about the causes and consequences of the price decline has been extensive. We present another, Russia-informed perspective. [...] There are high hopes among Russian experts and by many in Russian society that unstable energy prices, combined with Western sanctions, may drive a revival of the country as a major industrial, agricultural and technological power. Some industries have already seen growth in recent months as a result of the government’s push for import substitution, while the president noted the need for a “true industrial breakthrough” in the coming years, which would reduce the country’s natural resource dependency.


10/27/14

Permalink Hungarians revolt against internet tax - PHOTOS, VIDEO

Furious with the government plan to impose tax on Internet data traffic, thousands of Hungarians rallied in front of the Economy Ministry in Budapest to protect the freedom of the internet from the 'anti-democratic' measure. Tens of thousands gathered in front of the Economy Ministry building on Sunday, urging the politicians to scrap the plan that will see internet service providers (ISPs) pay 150 forints ($0.62) for every gigabyte of data traffic transferred over their networks. Although the draft suggests that ISPs would be able to offset corporate income tax against the new levy, the protesters believe that eventually the new tax burden will end up pinned on common users. The Association of IT, Telecommunications and Electronics Companies has already said the tax would force them to raise prices, Reuters reports. The rally organized via Facebook group with over 210,000 followers said that the move “follows a wave of alarming anti-democratic measures by [Prime Minister Viktor] Orban that is pushing Hungary even further adrift from Europe.”


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