21 September 2014

China and Iran to Conduct Joint Naval Exercises in the Persian Gulf

TEHRAN — Two Chinese warships have docked at Iran’s principal naval port for the first time in history, Iranian admirals told state television on Sunday, adding that both countries would conduct four days of joint naval exercises.

On Sunday, Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, reported that on Saturday, Chinese Navy ships involved in protecting shipping in the Gulf of Aden stopped at an Iranian port for a “friendly visit.”


One of the vessels was the Changchun, a guided-missile destroyer, the report said.

The news agency posted images of one of the destroyers docking in the port of Bandar Abbas, where it was given a military welcome.

One of China’s new generation of guided missile destroyers the "Changchun" has been
commissioned to the People’s Liberation Army Navy
The Iranian and Chinese navies are scheduled to conduct joint exercises, starting on Monday, focusing on rescue missions, Iranian news media reported. China has been expanding the areas where its navy operates, most recently joining the effort to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

The visit to the port of Bandar Abbas is an example of the growing ties between China and Iran. China is already the principal buyer of Iranian oil, and Iran uses much of the profit from those sales to buy Chinese products, deals complicated by the international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.

The official website of the Chinese Navy reported that this was the first visit to Iran by Chinese naval ships. The report did not mention any joint exercises.

But a Chinese fleet commander, Rear Adm. Huang Xinjian, said that the visit was intended to “deepen mutual understanding, and to enhance exchanges between our two countries’ navies.”

“I’m sure that this visit will encourage the constant advancement of friendly cooperation between our two countries’ navies,” Admiral Huang added.

His Iranian counterparts said that there would be drills focused on safety at sea and fighting piracy. “Discussing and studying the two countries’ naval relief and rescue operations and drills, confronting sea incidents and accidents and gaining the necessary technical preparedness are among the exercises to be practiced with the Chinese Navy forces,” said Adm. Amir Hossein Azad, commander of Iran’s First Naval Zone.

The Iranian state newspaper Kayhan reported on Saturday that 650 Chinese sailors were onboard the Chinese warships and that they would also compete in “sport events” with Iranian sailors.

Iran’s main competitor in the Persian Gulf is the United States Navy, which has a sprawling base in Bahrain and stations at least one aircraft carrier in the region. On several occasions, Iran has threatened to choke off the strategic Hormuz Strait, a narrow waterway between Iran and the United Arab Emirates that is a gateway for 40 percent of the world’s oil and gas shipments. The only other foreign state to have a naval base in the Persian Gulf is France, which uses a port in the United Arab Emirates.

Zionist-plutocrat Mikhail Khodorkovsky willing to hand Russia over to the New World Order


Moscow (AFP) - Ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in jail after challenging the Kremlin, openly stated his political ambitions on Saturday by announcing he would be ready, if called upon, to lead Russia in times of crisis.

By publicly voicing his readiness to take on the country's top job, the man who was once Russia's richest appears to have broken a promise to steer clear of politics which he made after being pardoned by President Vladimir Putin in December.

"I would not be interested in the idea of becoming president of Russia at a time when the country would be developing normally," he was quoted as saying by Le Monde newspaper.

"But if it appeared necessary to overcome the crisis and to carry out constitutional reform, the essence of which would be to redistribute presidential powers in favour of the judiciary, parliament and civil society, then I would be ready to take on this part of the task."
The comments were made as Khodorkovsky, 51, launched an online movement dubbed Open Russia to unite pro-European Russians in a bid to challenge Putin's grip on power.

"A minority will be influential if it is organised," he said during a ceremony broadcast online from Paris.

Khodorkovsky and his allies said political change could come quickly and insisted the time had come to think of Russia's future after Putin.

Khodorkovsky stressed that his project -- named after his eponymous charity that was shut down after his imprisonment -- would be an online "platform" for like-minded people, not a political party.

The Kremlin is still likely to find the project unsavoury, said the photogenic ex-tycoon sporting closely-cropped hair and a casual shirt.

"I expect him to be upset," Khodorkovsky said, referring to his nemesis Putin.

"We believe that the statement 'Russia is not Europe' is a lie that is being imposed on society on purpose.

"This is being done by those who want to rule the country for life, those who want to spit upon law and justice,"
Khodorkovsky said in a thinly veiled reference to Putin, the former KGB operative who came to power in 1999.

"We are Europe, both in terms of geography and culture.

"We are not simply Russian Europeans. We are patriots. And true patriots even during pitch-dark reactionary times should serve their country and their people."


Khodorkovsky says that Russia is "...Europe, both in terms of geography and culture," and that he and his allies are "...not simply Russian Europeans. [They] are patriots. And true patriots even during pitch-dark reactionary times should serve their country and their people."
Khodorkovsky is the quintessential traitor within the walls who acts as the "gate-opener" - i.e., he'd love nothing more than to lower Russia's defenses and let international ZOG divide and drain the Russian nation, just as ZOG is dividing and draining America.
Below is the real scoop on Khodorkovsky.


The Real Crime of M. Khodorkovsky


Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s real crime was not stealing Russia’s assets for a pittance in the bandit era of Yeltsin. His real crime is that he was a key part of a Western intelligence operation to dismantle and destroy what remains of Russia as a functioning state. When the facts are known the justice served on him is mild by comparison to US or UK standard treatment of those convicted of treason against the state. Obama’s torture prison at Guantánamo is merely one example of Washington’s double standard.
According to the politically correct sanitized account in Wikipedia, “Yukos Oil Company was a petroleum company in Russia which, until 2003, was controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky…Khodorkovsky was convicted and sent to prison…Yukos was one of the biggest and one of the most successful Russian companies in 2000-2003. In 2003, following a tax reassessment, the Russian government presented Yukos with a series of tax claims that amounted to $27 billion. As Yukos’s assets were frozen by the government at the same time, the company was not able to pay these tax demands. On August 1, 2006, a Russian court declared Yukos bankrupt. Most of Yukos’s assets were sold at low prices to oil companies owned by the Russian government. The Parliamentary Council of Europe has condemned Russia’s campaign against Yukos and its owners as manufactured for political reasons and a violation of human rights.”
If we dig a little deeper however we find a quite different case. As he stepped out of his private plane in Siberia in October 2003 Khodorkovsky was arrested. He was arrested, as Wikipedia correctly states, for tax crimes. What they did not say is that he at the tender age of 40 had risen to become the richest man in Russia worth some $15 billion by fraudulent acquisition of state assets during the lawless Yeltsin era. In an auction run by his own bank, Khodorkovsky paid $309 million for Yukos. In 2003 the same company was assessed as worth $45 billion, and not owing to Khodorkovsky’s management genius.
In 1998, Khodorkovsky had been let free in a US case where he was charged with helping launder $10 billion with his own bank and the Bank of New York. He had very influential friends in the US it appeared. The then head of the Republic National Bank of New York, Edmund Safra, was murdered some months later in his Monaco apartment reportedly from members of an alleged “Russian mafia” whom he had cheated in a drug money laundering scheme.
But there was more. Khodorkovsky built some impressive ties in the West. With his new billions in effect stolen from the Russian people, he made some powerful friends. He set up a foundation modeled on US billionaire George Soros’ Open Society, calling it the Open Russia Foundation. He invited two powerful Westerners to its board—Henry Kissinger and Jacob Lord Rothschild. Then he set about to develop ties with some of the most powerful circles in Washington where he was named to the Advisory Board of the secretive private equity firm, Carlyle Group where he attended board meetings with fellow advisors such as George H.W. Bush and James Baker III.
However, the real crime that landed Khodorkovsky behind Russian bars was the fact that he was in the middle of making a US-backed coup d’etat to capture the Russian presidency in planned 2004 Russian Duma elections. Khodorkovsky was in the process of using his enormous wealth to buy enough seats in the coming Duma elections that he could change Russian laws regarding ownership of oil in the ground and of pipelines transporting same. In addition he planned to directly challenge Putin and become Russian President. As part of the horse trade that won Putin the tacit support of the wealthy so-called Russian Oligarchs, Putin had extracted agreement that they be allowed to hold on to their wealth provided they repatriate a share back into Russia and provided they not interfere in domestic Russian politics with their wealth. Most oligarchs agreed, as did Khodorkovsky at the time. They remain established Russian businessmen. Khodorkovsky did not.
Moreover, at the time of his arrest Khodorkovsky was in the process of negotiating via his Carlyle friend George H.W. Bush, father of the then-President George W. Bush, the sale of 40% of Yukos to either Condi Rice’s former company, Chevron or ExxonMobil in a move that would have dealt a crippling blow to the one asset left Russia and Putin to use for the rebuilding of the wrecked Russian economy: oil and export via state-owned pipelines to the West for dollars. During the ensuing Russian state prosecution of Yukos, it came to light that Khodorkovsky had also secretly made a contract with London’s Lord Rothschild not merely to support Russian culture via the Open Russia Foundation of Khodorkovsky. In the event of his possible arrest (Khodorkovsky evidently knew he was playing a high-risk game trying to create a coup against Putin) the 40% share of his Yukos stocks would pass into the hands of Lord Rothschild.
The crocodile tears of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the violations of Khodorkovsky’s human rights hide a far deeper agenda that is not being admitted. Washington used the Russian to try to reach its goal of totally destroying the only power left on the earth with sufficient military strike power to challenge the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance strategy—control of the entire planet. When seen in that light the sweet loaded words “human rights” take on a quite different meaning.
More on Kissinger and the NWO here.

20 September 2014

Senate okays US-Israel Strategic Partnership bill

WASHINGTON — With over three-quarters of its members as co-sponsors, the Senate unanimously adopted the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act late Thursday evening. The bill declares Israel to be a “major strategic partner” of the United States, and its proponents say it will lay the foundation for expanded US-Israel cooperation in defense, energy, agriculture, and a number of other key sectors.

The bipartisan legislation was authored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) had 81 co-sponsors, out of a total of 100 Senators.

“America’s long-standing relationship and strong cooperation with Israel dates back to the presidency of fellow Missourian Harry S. Truman,” Blunt said following the bill’s passage. “I’m pleased the Senate has passed this bipartisan bill to reaffirm and broaden the important US-Israel alliance through security, energy, and trade during this critical time in the Middle East region.”

In addition to declaring that Israel is a “major strategic partner” of the United States, the legislation increases the frequency and detail of US government reporting on Israel’s qualitative military edge. It also includes a provision that will expand the authority for forward-deployed US weapons stockpiles in Israel.

Under the new legislation, the US can increase by $200 million the value of US weapons held in Israel — bringing the total value of US weapons stored in Israel to a total of $1.8 billion. The forward-based weapons stockpiles in Israel have doubled in their value in the past two years, and are meant to speed up US resupply in the event of a crisis in the Middle East.

The weapons in the stockpile can also be used by Israel in the event of an emergency, with Israel reimbursing the US for any weapons used. This stockpile — known as War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I) — jumped to the headlines this summer after the US let Israel use 40mm grenades and 120mm mortar rounds located therein. Under scrutiny, the US placed additional reviews on the further transfer of armaments from the US to Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

The legislation will also upgrade Israel’s trade status to expedite export licensing, authorize the president to provide assistance to promote cooperation in water, homeland security, agriculture and alternative fuel technologies. In addition, it creates new mechanisms for in enhanced energy cooperation, including the establishment of a US-Israel Center of Excellence in energy and water engineering, and supporting the development of research and development and academic partnerships.

Passed days after Christopher Painter, the State Department’s Coordinator for Cyber Issues, visited Israel to discuss cyber-security, the bill also requires that the president study the feasibility of expanding US-Israel cooperation on cyber security.

It also includes a carefully-worded provision to encourage the inclusion of Israel in the Visa Waiver Program. Allowing Israelis to enter the US without securing a tourist visa at a US consulate has been a recurring topic for years, but Israel is still not included among the three-dozen states with visa-free entry to the US.
Boxer described the bill “affirming Israel’s ability to participate in the visa waiver program as long as she meets existing requirements.”

Earlier this year, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Israel has failed to meet the criteria to join the program, but State Department officials have said they’re working with Israel to bring the country into compliance with the requirements for consideration.

A source at a pro-Israel organization described the visa waiver provision as a major advancement, in that its inclusion in the original House version of the legislation spurred the renewed round of US-Israel talks to bring Israel into compliance with the benchmarks. Israel’s high rate of visa rejections – the number of Israelis denied US visas – is above the US requirement for admission, and the two states have begun working together to try to address that metric.

The bill also reiterates US support for a negotiated political settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians resulting in two states living side-by-side in peace and security.

The passage of the bill was welcomed by AIPAC, which wrote in a statement Friday morning that “this bill will dramatically strengthen and expand the US-Israel alliance as a way to confront new threats and challenges in the Middle East.”

William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office for Jewish Federations, also commended the legislation, saying that JFNA was “delighted that the Senate has come together to pass this important legislation building upon the remarkable relationship between Israel and the United States.”
 Israel’s Supreme Court legalizes apartheid communities: here

“In declaring Israel a ‘major strategic partner,’ the Senate has made perfectly clear that the Jewish state is and will remain one of our strongest allies in the world,” Daroff continued. “Alongside this week’s House resolution condemning anti-Semitism throughout the globe, it is heartening to know that at times of need, the Jewish community will always be able to count on our Congressional leaders for support.”

The House of Representatives adopted a companion bill in March 2014, and pro-Israel advocates, including AIPAC, are pushing both houses to move quickly to reconcile the two versions of the legislation in order to advance it to the president for final approval. Differences between the two bills are described by those familiar with the legislation as ‘minimal’, and there are hopes that the legislation can be reconciled during the lame-duck session of Congress following the November midterm elections.

19 September 2014

A Quarter of Americans Want to Secede From the US

BOSTON (Reuters) - The failed Scottish vote to pull out from the United Kingdom stirred secessionist hopes for some in the United States, where almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.

The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.
Anger with President Barack Obama's handling of issues ranging from healthcare reform to the rise of Islamic State militants drives some of the feeling, with Republican respondents citing dissatisfaction with his administration as coloring their thinking.

But others said long-running Washington gridlock had prompted them to wonder if their states would be better off striking out on their own, a move no U.S. state has tried in the 150 years since the bloody Civil War that led to the end of slavery in the South.

"I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference anymore which political party is running things. Nothing gets done," said Roy Gustafson, 61, of Camden, South Carolina, who lives on disability payments. "The state would be better off handling things on its own."

Scottish unionists won by a wider-than-expected 10-percentage-point margin.

Falling public approval of the Obama administration, attention to the Scottish vote and the success of activists who accuse the U.S. government of overstepping its authority - such as the self-proclaimed militia members who flocked to Nevada's Bundy ranch earlier this year during a standoff over grazing rights - is driving up interest in secession, experts said.

"It seems to have heated up, especially since the election of President Obama," said Mordecai Lee, a professor of governmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, who has studied secessionist movements.


Republicans were more inclined to support the idea, with 29.7 percent favoring it compared with 21 percent of Democrats.

Brittany Royal, a 31-year-old nurse from Wilkesboro, North Carolina, said anger over the "Obamacare" healthcare reform law made her wonder if her state would be better off on its own.

"That has really hurt a lot of people here, myself included. My insurance went from $40 a week for a family of four up to over $600 a month for a family of four," said Royal, a Republican. "The North Carolina government itself is sustainable. Governor (Pat) McCrory, I think he has a better healthcare plan than President Obama."

By region, the idea was least popular in New England, the cradle of the Revolutionary War, with just 17.4 percent of respondents open to pulling their state out.

It was most popular in the Southwest, where 34.1 percent of respondents back the idea.

That region includes Texas, where an activist group is calling the state's legislature to put the secession question on a statewide ballot. One Texan respondent said he was confident his state could get by without the rest of the country.

"Texas has everything we need. We have the manufacturing, we have the oil, and we don't need them," said Mark Denny, a 59-year-old retiree living outside Dallas on disability payments.

Denny, a Republican, had cheered on the Scottish independence movement.

"I have totally, completely lost faith in the federal government, the people running it, whether Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever," he said.

Hammered by the West, Putin Turns East

Russia and China are close to another natural gas deal that could reshape the world's energy map
Right as the West is tightening the screws on Russia's energy sector, Vladimir Putin is accelerating his own pivot to the east, moving closer to another giant natural gas deal with China.

If consummated this fall, the multibillion-dollar deal would at least partially alleviate Russia's fears about finding future markets for its gas exports and China's worries over finding future energy supplies, especially natural gas, for its growing economy and population. By potentially boosting Russia's leverage with respect to Europe while dealing a blow to other gas exporters' hopes of leaping into the Chinese market, the deal's knock-on effects could be felt from Brussels to British Columbia.

Russian officials including Putin started talking up the prospects of the western gas route, also known as the Altai route, even before the ink was dry on the other huge gas deal with China. And for an obvious reason: Linking gas fields in western Siberia, which today supply Europe, with China would give Moscow the ability to shift energy supplies west or east as it sees fit.

"This will give us big advantages in rechanneling gas flows, depending on the world market situation," Putin said earlier this month at a groundbreaking ceremony in eastern Siberia.

The United States and the European Union have steadily increased the pressure on big Russian energy firms with the latest round of sanctions unveiled earlier in September. Those measures would restrict Russia's ability to tap oil in challenging environments, such as deepwater offshore, the Arctic, and in shale. Congress is currently preparing even stiffer sanctions on Russia that would increase the pressure on its energy sector; legislation winding its way through the Senate this week would take particular aim at Gazprom if gas supplies to Europe are interrupted, for example. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed the bill Thursday.

"The Altai deal will be Putin's calculated response towards U.S. and EU sanctions against Russia, and the biggest beneficiary will be China," said Keun-Wook Paik, an expert on Sino-Russian energy relations.

"Putin looks determined to show that Russia has a very powerful vehicle that can respond to Washington and Brussels's sanctions policy against Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis."

What's more, the Ukraine crisis seems to have focused Europe on the need to wean off excessive reliance on Russian gas, after a pair of gas-supply crises in the last decade failed to really rouse policymakers. Countries across the continent are seeking alternative sources of gas and, next month, the European Commission will present the results of the stress test it performed to check Europe's resilience to Russian energy blackmail.

That's all potentially bad news for Gazprom, which exports most of its gas to Europe and which is now expecting its lowest-ever gas production this year due to the aftermath of the Ukraine mess.

But it takes two to tango. After years of politely brushing aside Russian advances, Beijing may be more willing to dance. And that's because as China starts to rein in its use of heavily polluting coal, it needs more natural gas. With the world's most plentiful shale gas resources on paper, China hoped that domestic production would go some way toward meeting its energy needs.

To make up the shortfall, China can either turn to imported liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which is expensive in Asia, or piped gas from Central Asia and Russia. Perhaps coincidentally, the initial volumes to be exported on the Altai route from Russia match the shortfall in Chinese domestic shale gas production.

"In a sense, China will serve as a collision space for Russia's own pivot-to-Asia policy and the U.S. and Canadian pivot."
"Putin looks determined to show that Russia has a very powerful vehicle that can respond to Washington and Brussels's sanctions policy against Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis."

18 September 2014

Brno court acquits German pro-White patriot of "racism"

Robin Siener was defending his right to talk about foreigners, especially from India and Africa, in negative terms

Brno, Sept. 18 (ČTK) —  A Czech court today acquitted German far-right activist Robin Siener of racism charges over his speech delivered at the May Day rally of the Czech Workers' Youth in Brno in 2011.
In his speech to the crowd of about 500 far-right proponents, Siener sharply criticized the "cheap labor that is flooding Europe" and he spoke of multicultural terrorism.

Siener said, among other things, no great poet or scientist had ever come from Africa and India.
The verdict has not yet taken effect, and the prosecutor may still appeal it.
Siener expressed satisfaction over the verdict.
"My speech was social criticism. I talked like we talk about these issues in Germany. If it is no problem in Germany, I cannot see why it should be a problem in the Czech Republic," he told the Czech News Agency.
Judge Dagmar Bordovská said Siener's speech had xenophobic passages, but no violation of law and he committed no crime with his statements.
The activists from the Workers' Youth that organized the rally May 1, 2011, closely cooperate with the Czech extreme-rightist Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS).

The DSSS was repeatedly prosecuted over the May Day speeches delivered by its leaders. The party follows up the Workers' Party (DS), which was outlawed because of its racism in 2010.

Russia strengthens its relationship with Kyrgyzstan

Vladimir Putin with the Kyrgyzstan president, Almazbek Atambayev
While Russia’s relationship with Ukraine has been grabbing the headlines, Moscow has been steadily strengthening its foothold in another of the post-Soviet states – Kyrgyzstan.
In the past few years Russia has written off half a billion dollars of the impoverished Central Asian country’s debt, pledged to supply the government with weapons and military equipment and taken over its gas network.
The state-run oil giants Rosneft and Gazprom, the subject of new EU sanctions announced last week, have both invested heavily in new energy projects in Kyrgyzstan over recent years.
Significantly, Russian influence resulted in the recent closure of the massive US air base Manas outside the capital Bishkek, marking the end of American military presence in the region.
“In essence, the closing of Manas marks Kyrgyzstan’s new era as a Russian client state,” said Central Asia specialist Alexander Cooley, professor of political science at Barnard College at Columbia University.
Manas was built in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks and served as a base for more than 5.3 million Nato troops serving in Afghanistan. It officially closed in July 2014.
“The Kyrgyz side faced significant pressure from Moscow to close the facility,” Cooley said. 

Acting under a mix of pressure and economic incentives from Russia, the Kyrgyz government first tried to evict the US from Manas in 2009. The Americans agreed to raise the annual rent from $17.4m to $60m, and the base was allowed stay. 

But Russia grew increasingly wary of foreign military presence in the region, and upped the ante.

“This time Moscow has effectively used a number of instruments of influence to assert itself as Kyrgyzstan’s primary foreign policy and security partner,” Cooley said. 

Anti-government protests that let to the resignation of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010
In August, Russia pledged $500m in financial assistance to Kyrgyzstan to speed up Kyrgyzstan’s integration into the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union, an economic bloc that currently includes Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the funds will ensure “maximum comfort” for Bishkek, but did not disclose details what the money will be spent on.

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev said his country would join the Eurasian Economic Union by the end of the year. Now that the foreign military presence is gone from Kyrgyzstan, “Russia will now assert itself as the country’s exclusive security patron,” Cooley said.

In 2012 Russia agreed to write off almost $500m of Kyrgyz debt in exchange for a 15-year extension of the lease for a Russian military air base.

Moscow operates four military installations in Kyrgyzstan, including the Kant Air Base near Bishkek where 600 Russian servicemen and a number of warplanes are based, and a naval test site at Lake Issyk Kul in the Tien Shan mountains.

Russia also pledged to supply weapons and other military equipment worth $1.1bn to Kyrgyzstan as part of a bilateral armed forces assistance programme, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Experts say that with these measures Putin is trying to restore influence in the region that Russia lost when the Soviet Union disintegrated.

According to Alexei Malashenko, a Central Asia scholar and chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center, Russia exerts a lot of power over Kyrgyzstan. “To my mind, Kyrgyzstan is more controlled by Moscow than other Central Asian states,” he said. Kyrgyzstan’s current president Almazbeck Atambaev “sees no alternative to Russian economic and political presence,” he added. 

Kyrgyzstan’s gas infrastructure was put entirely under Russian control this year. Russia’s Gazprom paid a symbolic $1 to take over the Kyrgyzgaz natural gas network in July, and vowed to invest 20bn roubles ($521m) to upgrade its infrastructure in the first five years. With this deal, the Russian gas giant also assumed Kyrgyzgaz’s debts of around $40m.
This month Bishkek announced that Gazprom would start exploration of gas fields in Kyrgyzstan by late September. Other recent deals include RusHydro, a Russian state-owned energy company, which began construction on a series of hydroelectric dams in Kyrgyzstan.
Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company, also signed a deal in February this year to invest up to $1bn for a stake of at least 51% in Manas International Airport.
Last week the EU announced new sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, including restrictions on the Rosneft and Gazprom, which will now be prevented from raising capital on EU markets.
Kyrgyzstan has many ethnic and cultural similarities with Russia. Almost one million Kyrgyz people are said to work abroad, most of them in Russia. Their remittances, according to the World Bank, make up 30% of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP.
Kyrgyzstan is the only multi-party parliamentary democracy in Central Asia, but the political system is under pressure. Two presidents have been deposed by violent revolts since 2005.
Mirsuljan Namazaaly, a political economist in Bishkek and the co-founder of the Central Asian Free Market Institute, said: “I wouldn’t say that Kyrgyzstan is politically independent from Russia, as many laws are just copying the laws from Russia, presidents and members of parliament always look at Russia and do what Russia can approve.” However he stressed that Kyrgyz people are generally not opposed to Russia’s influence, and that most favour the Russian presence and support in their country.

Sneak peak at Russia’s ‘under renovation’ Arctic base

Kotelny Island is a nondescript piece of frigid wasteland of no particular note. Except hosting a military base-in-the-making, the first of many from which Russia plans to project its military might to and across the Arctic. RT visited with the Navy.

The island is the largest in the Novosibirsk Archipelago, located in the Laptev Sea off the eastern Siberian coast. Back in the soviet days the military deployed an observation post and a radar station on the Kotelny Island, but with the fall of the country all the troops were withdrawn, leaving behind only a civilian meteorological station.
But now, after decades of desolation, the former military base is being rebuilt. Last year sailors and engineers of the Russian Northern Fleet began construction works, cleaning up rusty barrels and broken vehicles abandoned on the island and constructing a landing strip so that supplies could be airlifted rather than air-dropped.
Now the Temp base, which is still mostly a couple of buildings and rows of temporary winter tents, has become the new home for the 99th Arctic tactical group, the Navy’s permanent unit serving at the hostile land. There is virtually not a tree on the island, much of which is a flat rocky bed of pebbles covering a layer of permafrost.
An RT crew is traveling with a fleet of warships and support ships that delivered the troops and their military hardware, including brand new armored vehicles, to Kotelny. The military men say they are determined to deal with the hardships Arctic will deal them.
“The conditions are certainly harsh, but we are coping. We have housing and equipment, so we’ll survive just fine,” Yuri Popov, an engineer with the 99th told RT’s Murad Gazdiev.
The Russian Defense Ministry had big plans for Kotelny. A new pier will be soon built to dock medium-sized vessels, which would make supply runs that much cheaper during the summer navigation. The runway would be extended and strengthened to serve heavier aircraft, including heavy transport planes and strategic bombers. Manning all the new installations would require additional personnel, and a new city for the troops and their families is now being built several kilometers from the Temp.
With the Arctic becoming warmer and its natural riches more accessible, leading nations are eager to get their share of the pie. Thanks to its geographical position Russia will get the biggest slice. And it’s not sparing any expense to add a military backing to its economic claim, especially since it has an edge due to experience and the world’s best fleet of icebreakers.

What was once a battle for the moon has now become a race to the Arctic between the West and Russia. On September 8, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia’s military presence in the Arctic is one of nation’s top priorities, arguing that it will protect shipping routes between Europe and the Pacific. But a few Western countries are wary about Russian military in the Arctic. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said America would increase a presence in the Arctic while Canada expressed deep concerns. But a strong Russian existence puts Alaska and America’s access to natural resources at risk.

Tensions between the West and Russia never went away after the fall of the Soviet Union, but Putin and Russia’s involvement in Ukraine only increased the tension to Cold War levels. Putin knows what he wants and is not afraid to grab it. He knows the West can threaten sanctions and penalties, but Russia’s wealth in oil and natural gas greatly protects him from the consequences these may otherwise have. He can poke and prod the West and more than likely escape any harmful punishment.

On September 8, Russia’s military claimed construction on new military bases started in the region. It is the first time for new construction at the bases since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

"On Wrangel Island and Cape Schmidt, block-modules have been unloaded for the construction of military camps,” said Eastern Military District spokesman Colonel Alexander Gordeyev. “The complex is being erected in the form of a star.”

The Russians never used Wrangel Island, which is in the Arctic Ocean and separates “the East Siberian Sea and Chukchi Sea,” in the Cold War. In August, Russian military rooted the Russian flag on the island to claim it. However, Wrangel Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which means no construction of any kind can take place. It is another example that Putin will grab what he wants no matter the consequence.

Cosmic beauty: Astronomy Photographs of the Year 2014

Reality is the sprouting of Beauty

Israel’s Supreme Court legalizes apartheid communities


The Israeli high court upheld on Wednesday the “Admissions Committees Law,” which allows rural towns in the Negev and Galilee to reject Palestinian citizens of Israel and other marginalized groups from residing in them on the basis that they are “unsuitable” for Jewish communities.
It is a ruling that Israeli civil and human rights organizations have condemned as legalizing the practice of segregation.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, had filed a petition against the law on behalf of several human and civic rights organizations in Israel on 30 March 2011, arguing that the law violated Israel’s prohibition against discrimination.

On 17 September, an expanded panel of judges ruled five-to-four to dismiss the petition.
In a press release, Adalah said: “This law is one of the most racist pieces of legislation enacted in recent years, the primary objective of which is to marginalize Arab citizens and prevent them from accessing housing on ‘state land’ in many communities. The court’s decision upholds one of the most dangerous laws in Israel.”
While there is specific language in the law that nominally bars explicit discrimination in terms of race, religion, gender, nationality, or disability, it nevertheless allows admissions committees to use a vague criteria to reject an applicant who is “not suitable for the social life in the community” or the “candidate’s lack of compatibility with the social-cultural fabric of the community town.”


In its condemnation of the law in 2011, Human Rights Watch pointed to one example in which a kibbutz justified its rejection of an Arab-Israeli couple citing the town’s criteria that required residents be eligible for the membership in the World Zionist Organization and to have served in the Israeli army, which swiftly disqualifies most Palestinian citizens.
Around 700 rural communities across Israel have committees made up of town residents and representatives from the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organization. Under the regulations of the Israel Land Authority, these communities have admissions committees, but their procedures for admitting new residents had never before been organized under a national law. The law, passed on 22 March 2011, codifies the longtime practice of these committees rejecting applicants who wish to live in the small communities on a discriminatory basis.
As the law was originally drafted, it would have applied to all communities in Israel with fewer than 400 families, totaling around 700 communities, but the final version of the bill was restricted to just the Negev and Galilee — two areas in which there have been concerted efforts to Judaize while removing Palestinian inhabitants. There are 434 communities which will fall under its jurisdiction, constituting around 43 percent of towns in Israel. 
In 2010, as the bill was making its way through committee readings in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), Knesset members defended the law by arguing that the selection criteria would come under the supervision of the attorney general’s office and therefore unlikely to enable racial discrimination.
However, statements to the media by the bill’s sponsors, and documented by Human Rights Watch, betray the racist motivations for the law.


Speaking to the Knesset in December 2009, David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, said that the law would allow towns to be “established by people who want to live with other Jews.”
The following year, Yisrael Hasson of the Kadima party, another sponsor of the bill, said it “reflects the Knesset’s commitment to work to preserve the ability to realize the Zionist dream in practice in the state of Israel” through “population dispersal.”
Israel has not allowed the establishment of any new Arab and Palestinian towns since 1948, save for seven townships in the Negev to which the Bedouin population was relocated. So while Arabs comprise roughly 20 percent of Israel’s population, only 2.5 percent of the land is under the jurisdiction of Arab local governments.

In 2008, Adalah approximated that Palestinians were blocked from living in 80 percent of the land controlled by the state — which is 93 percent of all of Israel.
As a result of the dearth of space for Palestinians in Israel to live, some have attempted to move to these Jewish-majority communities.
And despite a high court ruling in 2000 that was celebrated as paving the way to end the practice of discrimination among admissions committees, no improvement has been detected. In the highly vaunted Kaadan case, in which an Arab-Israeli couple petitioned the high court after being denied the right to live in the Jewish community of Katzir, the high court ruled that allocating land to citizens based solely on their religion was prohibited.

Continuous policy

But writing on the failure of the Kaadan ruling to fulfill any of its promise “to end decades of communal segregation of Jewish and Palestinian citizens” or “loosen the oppressive system of ethnic control over Israeli territory,” Jonathan Cook wrote:
the court did nothing substantive to enforce the rights of Palestinian citizens to equal access to land or community membership in the intervening years. And to avert any potential damage from the Kaadan ruling, the Knesset responded in 2011 by changing the law to give legal backing to such committees.
Since 2007, Adalah has been challenging the existence of “admissions committees.” Also in 2007, the United Nations committee that oversees the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that Israel examine the role of admissions committees.
On 25 January 2012, the attorney general asked the high court to dismiss the petitions “on the grounds that they are premature and theoretical, as the law itself has not been used to bar any applicant from these small communities thus far.”
In its Wednesday ruling, the court stated, “We cannot determine at this stage whether the law violates constitutional rights”.
In 2011, HRW recorded one village committee requiring applicants “to embrace the values in the village’s charter, including ‘Zionism’ and ‘Jewish tradition’.”
Adalah attorney Suhad Bishara stated: “The law is functioning the same way it did previously as a policy, deterring many segments of the population, especially Palestinian Arab citizens of the state, from applying for housing in these towns for fear of rejection. The law has serious implications now and has had for many years, so it is not possible to say that it is not ripe for judicial ruling.”

17 September 2014

Israel's Worst-Kept Secret: Is the silence over Israeli nukes doing more harm than good?


Former CIA Director Robert Gates said so during his 2006 Senate confirmation hearings for secretary of defense, when he noted—while serving as a university president—that Iran is surrounded by “powers with nuclear weapons,” including “the Israelis to the west.” Former President Jimmy Carter said so in 2008 and again this year, in interviews and speeches in which he pegged the number of Israel’s nuclear warheads at 150 to around 300.
But due to a quirk of federal secrecy rules, such remarks generally cannot be made even now by those who work for the U.S. government and hold active security clearances. In fact, U.S. officials, even those on Capitol Hill, are routinely admonished not to mention the existence of an Israeli nuclear arsenal and occasionally punished when they do so.
The policy of never publicly confirming what a scholar once called one of the world’s “worst-kept secrets” dates from a political deal between the United States and Israel in the late 1960s. Its consequence has been to help Israel maintain a distinctive military posture in the Middle East while avoiding the scrutiny—and occasional disapprobation—applied to the world’s eight acknowledged nuclear powers.
But the U.S. policy of shielding the Israeli program has recently provoked new controversy, partly because of allegations that it played a role in the censure of a well-known national-laboratory arms researcher in July, after he published an article in which he acknowledged that Israel has nuclear arms. Some scholars and experts are also complaining that the government’s lack of candor is complicating its high-profile campaign to block the development of nuclear arms in Iran, as well as U.S.-led planning for a potential treaty prohibiting nuclear arms anywhere in the region.

The U.S. silence is largely unwavering, however. “We would never say flatly that Israel has nuclear weapons,” explained a former senior State Department official who dealt with nuclear issues during the Bush administration. “We would have to couch it in other language, we would have to say ‘we assume’ or ‘we presume that Israel has nuclear weapons,’ or ‘it’s reported’ that they have them,” the former official said, requesting that his name not be used due to the political sensitivity surrounding the topic.

President Barack Obama made clear that this four-decade-old U.S. policy would persist at his first White House press conference in 2009, when journalist Helen Thomas asked if he knew of any nations in the Middle East with nuclear arms. “With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate,” Obama said, as though Israel’s established status as a nuclear-weapons state was only a matter of rumor and conjecture.
So wary is Paul Pillar, a former U.S. national-intelligence officer for the Middle East, of making any direct, public reference to Israel’s nuclear arsenal that when he wrote an article this month in The National Interest, entitled “Israel’s Widely Suspected Unmentionables,” he referred to warheads as “kumquats” throughout his manuscript.

Even Congress has been coy on the subject. When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee published a 2008 report titled “Chain Reaction: Avoiding a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East,” it included chapters on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey—but not Israel. The 61-page report relegated Israel’s nuclear arms to a footnote that suggested that Israel’s arsenal was a “perception.”
“This report does not take a position on the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons,” the report said. “Although Israel has not officially acknowledged it possesses nuclear weapons, a widespread consensus exists in the region and among experts in the United States that Israel possesses a number of nuclear weapons. For Israel’s neighbors, this perception is more important than reality.”
While former White House or cabinet-level officers—such as Gates—have gotten away with more candor, the bureaucracy does not take honesty by junior officials lightly. James Doyle, a veteran nuclear analyst at Los Alamos National Laboratory who was recently censured, evidently left himself open to punishment by straying minutely from U.S. policy in a February 2013 article published by the British journal Survival.

“Nuclear weapons did not deter Egypt and Syria from attacking Israel in 1973, Argentina from attacking British territory in the 1982 Falklands War or Iraq from attacking Israel during the 1991 Gulf War,” Doyle said in a bitingly critical appraisal of Western nuclear policy, which angered his superiors at the nuclear-weapons lab as well as a Republican staff member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Even though three secrecy specialists at the lab concluded the article contained no secrets, more senior officials overruled them and cited an unspecified breach as justification for censuring Doyle and declaring the article classified, after its publication. They docked his pay, searched his home computer, and, eventually, fired him this summer. The lab has said his firing—as opposed to the censure and search—was not related to the article’s content, but Doyle and his lawyer have said they are convinced it was pure punishment for his skepticism about the tenets of nuclear deterrence.

Neither Doyle nor his colleagues revealed if the sentence in his article about Israel’s arsenal was the one that provoked officials to nitpick about a security violation, but several independent experts have surmised it was.
Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said the clues lie in the Energy Department’s citation—in a document summarizing the facts behind Doyle’s unsuccessful appeal of his ill treatment—of a classification bulletin numbered “WPN-136.”
The full, correct title of that bulletin, according to an Energy Department circular, is “WNP-136, Foreign Nuclear Capabilities.” The classification bulletin itself is not public. But Aftergood said Doyle’s only reference to a sensitive foreign nuclear program was his mention of Israel’s, making it highly probable this was the cudgel the lab used against him. “I’m certain that that’s what it is,” Aftergood said in an interview.
The circumstances surrounding Doyle’s censure are among several cases now being examined by Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General Gregory Friedman, as part of a broader examination of inconsistent classification practices within the department and the national laboratories, several officials said.
Doyle’s reference to the existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal reflects the consensus intelligence judgment within DOE nuclear weapons-related laboratories, former officials say. But some said they find it so hard to avoid any public reference to the weapons that classification officers periodically hold special briefings about skirting the issue.
“It was one of those things that was not obvious,” a former laboratory official said, asking not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the topic. “Especially when there’s so much about it in the open domain.”
Israel’s nuclear-weapons program began in the 1950s, and the country is widely believed to have assembled its first three weapons during the crisis leading to the Six-Day War in 1967, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit group in Washington that tracks nuclear-weapons developments.

Entire article here.
Victor Gilinsky, a physicist and former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who has written about the history of the Israeli program, complained in a recent book that “the pretense of ignorance about Israeli bombs does not wash anymore. … The evident double standard undermines efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons worldwide.”

Martian meteorite yields more evidence of the possibility of life on Mars

A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists
The finding of a ‘cell-like’ structure, which investigators now know once held water, came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece.  Their findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Astrobiology.

While investigating the Martian meteorite, known as Nakhla, Dr. Elias Chatzitheodoridis of the National Technical University of Athens found an unusual feature embedded deep within the rock. In a bid to understand what it might be, he teamed up with long-time friend and collaborator Professor Ian Lyon at the University of Manchester.
A new finding has raised the possibility that there is life on Mars
Professor Lyon, based in Manchester’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, said: “In many ways it resembled a fossilised biological cell from Earth but it was intriguing because it was undoubtedly from Mars. Our research found that it probably wasn’t a cell but that it did once hold water - water that had been heated, probably as a result of an asteroid impact.”

These findings are significant because they add to increasing evidence that beneath the surface, Mars does provide all the conditions for life to have formed and evolved.  It also adds to a body of evidence suggesting that large asteroids hit Mars in the past and produce long-lasting hydrothermal fields that could sustain life on Mars, even in later epochs, if life ever emerged there.

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=12797As part of the research, the feature was imaged in unprecedented detail by Dr. Sarah Haigh of The University of Manchester whose work usually involves high resolution imaging for next generation electronic devices, which are made by stacking together single atomic layers of graphene and other materials with the aim of making faster, lighter and bendable mobile phones and tablets. A similar imaging approach was able to reveal the atomic layers of materials inside the meteorite.

Together their combined experimental approach has revealed new insights into the geological origins of this fascinating structure.

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=12797Professor Lyon said: “We have been able to show the setting is there to provide life. It’s not too cold, it’s not too harsh.  Life as we know it, in the form of bacteria, for example, could be there, although we haven’t found it yet.  It’s about piecing together the case for life on Mars – it may have existed and in some form could exist still.”

Now the team is using these and other state-of-the-art techniques to investigate new secondary materials in this meteorite and search for possible bio signatures which provide scientific evidence of life, past or present. Professor Lyon concluded: “Before we return samples from Mars, we must examine them further, but in more delicate ways.  We must carefully search for further evidence.”

Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal: NSA shared Americans' private communications with Israel - Snowden

Former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden has accused the U.S. National Security Agency of routinely passing private, unedited communications of Americans to Israel, an expert on the intelligence agency said Wednesday.

James Bamford, writing in the New York Times, said Snowden told him the intercepts included communications of Arab and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the information.

"It's one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen," Bamford quoted Snowden as saying.
Snowden said the material was routinely transferred to Unit 8200, a secretive Israeli intelligence organization.

Bamford cited a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart outlining transfers that have occurred since 2009.

Leaked by Snowden and first reported by the British newspaper the Guardian, it said the material included "unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”
The memorandum indicates the data is routinely sent in raw form, without editing out names or other personally identifiable information, Bamford said.

He noted allegations in Israel by veterans of Unit 8200, who in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week accused the agency of using information it collects to politically persecute innocent Palestinians.

The data gathered by the unit included Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce them into becoming collaborators, they said.


Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is wanted by the United States on espionage charges after leaking a mass of secret NSA documents.

The 31-year-old fugitive is in asylum in Russia, where he has been granted a three-year residency that allows him to travel abroad.

Bamford, author several books on the supersecret NSA, which specializes in electronic espionage and codebreaking, interviewed Snowden over a three-week period in Moscow for Wired magazine.
From the NYT:
WASHINGTON — IN Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/opinion/israels-nsa-scandal.html?_r=1Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.
Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.
Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. “I think that’s amazing,” he told me. “It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.”
It appears that Mr. Snowden’s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 — many still serving in the reserves — accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for “political persecution.” In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.
The veterans of Unit 8200 declared that they had a “moral duty” to no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians.” An Israeli military spokesman disputed the letter’s overall drift but said the charges would be examined.

It should trouble the American public that some or much of the information in question — intended not for national security purposes but simply to pursue political agendas — may have come directly from the N.S.A.’s domestic dragnet. According to documents leaked by Mr. Snowden and reported by the British newspaper The Guardian, the N.S.A. has been sending intelligence to Israel since at least March 2009.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/opinion/israels-nsa-scandal.html?_r=1The memorandum of agreement between the N.S.A. and its Israeli counterpart covers virtually all forms of communication, including but not limited to “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.” The memo also indicates that the N.S.A. does not filter out American communications before delivery to Israel; indeed, the agency “routinely sends” unminimized data.

Although the memo emphasizes that Israel should make use of the intercepts in accordance with United States law, it also notes that the agreement is legally unenforceable. “This agreement,” it reads, “is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law.”

It should also trouble Americans that the N.S.A. could head down a similar path in this country. Indeed, there is some indication, from a top-secret 2012 document from Mr. Snowden’s leaked files that I saw last year, that it already is. The document, from Gen. Keith B. Alexander, then the director of the N.S.A., notes that the agency had been compiling records of visits to pornographic websites and proposes using that information to damage the reputations of people whom the agency considers “radicalizers” — not necessarily terrorists, but those attempting, through the use of incendiary speech, to radicalize others. (The Huffington Post has published a redacted version of the document.)