Germany warns israel over growing EU Concerns

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German FM to Israel: Your actions won’t go unnoticed by EU

German Foreign Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel gives a speech during a meeting at the EU Charlemagne Building in Brussels on January 8, 2018. (Photo by AFP)German Foreign Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel gives a speech during a meeting at the EU Charlemagne Building in Brussels on January 8, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has issued a warning to Israel over the EU’s rising “frustration” with the Tel Aviv regime’s policies toward the future of a so-called two-state solution.

Speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Gabriel noted that several members of the Israeli cabinet were “explicitly against the two-state solution.”

He added that such a solution “has always been the foundation of our engagement for Israeli-Palestinian peace and for the large amount of funding” from Germany and the EU.

“We need to know if Israel is not supporting a negotiated solution to this conflict anymore,” he added.

“These – at best mixed – signals do not go unnoticed in Europe, where there is clearly growing frustration with Israel’s actions,” he added.

Referring to an increase in concerns about violence, hatred, and Israel’s continued settlement construction, he said, “It is increasingly difficult for people like me to explain to them the reasons why our support for Israel must persist.”

Gabriel also broached the subject of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital.

“The Americans are taking your side more clearly than ever before. But is this really only a good thing?,” he asked.

On December 6, 2017, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

 Referring to the US’ past desire to act as a mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli talks, he asked, “Can the Americans still play such a role if they take sides so openly? Will others try to step into their shoes?”

Earlier this month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Trump’s so-called Middle East peace efforts are the “slap of the century” after his recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.
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How #Brexit Was Engineered by Foreign Billionaires to Bring About Economic Chaos – for Profit

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By Graham Vanbergen,

This article first appeared on GR in October 2017.

In this truly alarming story I connect three significant articles to show that Brexit, far from being the result of representative democracy, is in fact a campaign of covert intervention by foreign billionaires to bring about economic chaos in Britain in order create the circumstances for making huge profits. This is not the stuff of mere conspiracy theories. Clear evidence has emerged that Brexit was engineered and is already proving to be a catastrophe, as confirmed by the mainstream media frenzy over Theresa May’s political mis-management of the greatest post-war challenge of our time. In part-one (by left leaning, The Guardian newspaper) we see how Brexit really came about and who influenced it. In part-two (by centre newspaper The Independent) we see how opaque and deceptive think tanks have heavily influenced Brexit and in part-three (by right leaning EUReferendum) we see that economic chaos is being planned in a post-Brexit era, who is involved and why. These articles identify the actors behind the current attack on Britain and what has happened to date so far. At the end, the reader should get a sense of the impending disaster being constructed by the super-rich against the people of Britain purely for profit. Just as oil speculators pushed up global energy prices to $145 a barrel just prior to the financial crash in what was termed the London Loophole, and then profited from short bets on the way down – Britain is being set up for a fall where those with big money will ultimately clean up.

PART ONE: Carole Cadwalladr from The Guardian wrote a searing piece last May on what really happened in Britain’s EU referendum vote. Her first sentence led the reader into a 7,000 word setting of foreign actors and corporations intent on usurping democracy in Britain. “A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum.” The article entitled “The Great British Brexit Robbery: How Our Democracy Was Highjacked” is now the subject of a bitter legal battle between the accused; Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited and The Guardian newspaper. Several amendments to the article have been made since the original publication in a climate of legal threats. The stakes are very high just for reporting it.

Source: The Guardian

The article went deeply into how technology and data was illegally used in Britain’s EU referendum voting process. One former employee of the main company involved, Cambridge Analytica, confirmed that they were using psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. “We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.” Except they were doing it in Britain, and at a historical moment for its future.

As the reader continues, names like Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, Facebook, Google, MI5 and other vested interests such as hedge funds and banks litter the story.

It is clear from Cadwalladr’s investigation that British democracy was subverted through a covert, far-reaching plan of coordination enabled by US billionaires and she shows how Britain is in the midst of a massive land grab for power by them. These determined individuals bypassed Britain’s electoral laws and swung the margins in favour to Brexit. She also highlights some political activities much closer to home – note the involvement of the DUP, now the balance of power in Theresa May’s government.

Vote Leave (the official Leave campaign) chose to spend £3.9m, more than half its official £7m campaign budget. As did three other affiliated Leave campaigns: BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and the Democratic Unionist party (DUP), spending a further £757,750. “Coordination” between campaigns is prohibited under UK electoral law, unless campaign expenditure is declared, jointly. It wasn’t”.

The story gets darker as it accuses the British military-industrial complex, old-school Tories, a former parliamentary under-secretary of State for Defence procurement, director of Marconi Defence Systems, and David Cameron’s pro-Brexit former trade envoy – of involvement. Allegations are made that the head of psychological operations for British forces in Afghanistan are in on the game. One alarmingly frank quote says: “SCL/Cambridge Analytica was not some startup created by a couple of guys with a MacBook. It’s effectively part of the British defence establishment” using “military strategies on a civilian population.

Data, algorithms, micro-ads, emotional manipulation, voter engagement/disengagement, and psyops strategies are just some of the buzz words in use to ensure enough votes go the right way. These strategies are all connected to names such as the aforementioned Cambridge Analytica, but also Robert Mercer, Steve Bannon, AggregateIQ, Leave.EU, Vote Leave, Nigel Farage, the DUP and big financial donors.

We are in an information war and billionaires are buying up these companies, which are then employed to go to work in the heart of government. That’s a very worrying situation.”

David Miller, a professor of sociology at Bath University and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy. It should be clear to voters where information is coming from, and if it’s not transparent or open where it’s coming from, it raises the question of whether we are actually living in a democracy or not.”

This all conjures up the characteristics of a great novel, a story that helped to bring about the biggest constitutional change to Britain in a century. In the end, the article concludes that  “we, the British people, were played.”

This conclusion is best described by Cadwalladre’s final words.

This is Britain in 2017. A Britain that increasingly looks like a “managed” democracy. Paid for by US billionaires. Using military-style technology. Delivered by Facebook. And enabled by us. If we let this referendum result stand, we are giving it our implicit consent. This isn’t about Remain or Leave. It goes far beyond party politics. It’s about the first step into a brave, new, increasingly undemocratic world.”

Unfortunately, Cadwalladr’s article is not a work of fiction or theory. And if you think that is depressing – that foreign billionaires can usurp Britain’s democracy at will, then it does in fact, get much worse, because obviously there must be reasons why so much time, effort and money has gone into such a dangerous high stakes game in the first place.

PART-TWO – In February 2016, The Independent newspaper published an article about the role of think tanks and Brexit entitled: “EU referendum: Think-tanks conducting ‘independent’ research to support Brexit have close links to Vote Leave.”

Matthew Elliott, political strategist, lobbyists, one time director of right-wing TaxPayers’ Alliance, CEO of Vote Leave organisations

Their conclusions revealed that there was a network of right-wing organisations whose staff, board members and even offices were linked to one of the main Leave campaigns, in fact, Vote Leave.

Dr David Green, the chief executive of think tank Civitas, and Ryan Bourne, head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), are both listed as supporters of Economists for Britain, a group that was run by Matthew Elliott, who was chief executive of the Leave Campaign (all names you will read about in Part-Three).

Elliot is described as a ‘political strategist and lobbyist’ who was also co-founder of right-wing The Taxpayers Alliance, was campaign director for the successful NOtoAV campaign in the 2011, which left the UK as one of very few modern democracies left with its archaic First-Past-The-Post electoral systems. Elliot was the subject of a lengthy Guardian investigation who described TPA as a right-wing lobby group with close links to the Conservative party. Vote Leave ultimately garnered the support of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove for the Brexit campaign.

Mark Littlewood, the director general of the IEA, was on the editorial board of “Change or Go” – Business for Britain’s 1,000-page “bible” on the case for Brexit.

The multimillionaire hedge fund boss Sir Michael Hintze is a trustee of IEA, and is also on the advisory council of Business for Britain. He has also been linked to Vote Leave.

Vote Leave used reports generated by these think tanks to heavily promote the case for Brexit.

Both Civitas and the IEA insisted that their work was entirely independent of the Brexit campaigns and their organisation reflected a wide range of views.

Daniel Bentley, editorial director at Civitas, said:

Civitas is an independent think-tank which conducts its research without fear or favour. We have no formal links with either Vote Leave or Business for Britain. There is absolutely no evidence, nor can it be reasonably deduced, that Civitas’s work is anything less than robust and accurate. Those claiming otherwise are committed pro-EU campaigners, who self-evidently have an agenda to undermine evidence which conflicts with their position.”

At his point it should be noted that both Civitas and the IEA have been identified by Transparify (who rate the financial transparency of major think tanks), as being ‘highly opaque’ about how they are funded and who by. Transparify went on say the following:

A closer look at the highly opaque institutions on our list confirmed our hypothesis that think tanks that hide their donors usually have something to hide. For example, according to research compiled by TobaccoTactics, the Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for Policy Studies, and the Institute for Economic Affairs have all previously received undisclosed funding from tobacco companies, and all have produced research that was then used to lobby against stronger anti-smoking regulations. We found that the Adam Smith Institute has created a structure so opaque that it concealed not only who gave money, but also who took it, leaving us unable to determine where close to one million pounds given by American donors had ended up. Meanwhile, Policy Exchange has previously used evidence that appears to have been fabricated; the resulting report led to fake news headlines in several media outlets that had naively trusted “research” conducted by an opaque think tank.”

All of these names you will read about in part three.

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is a 2007 book by the Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein. In the book, Klein argues that neoliberal free market policies (as advocated by the economist Milton Friedman) have risen to prominence in some developed countries because of a deliberate strategy of “shock therapy”. This centers on the exploitation of national crises to push through controversial policies while citizens are too emotionally and physically distracted by disasters or upheavals to mount an effective resistance.

PART THREE: By adding part one of this story to part two, you will start to gather that all these actors are connected one way or another. Part three identifies yet more actors whose end game is to bring about economic chaos in Britain, one which has been described as “disaster capitalism“, designed to significantly profit from a hard Brexit. “Here, a comparison could be made with Hong Kong, where a similar situation might arise in a UK under the stress of a hard Brexit, where many traditional firms have run for cover, or relocated in the EU, leaving many assets under-priced.

In other words – Brexit has been engineered to bring about economic chaos for no other reason than making huge profits. Read on…

EUReferendum writes: Currently making something of an impact in the Brexit debate is an operation calling itself the Legatum Institute, based in fashionable W1 with the address of 11 Charles Street.

The Foundation is registered with Company House as a company limited by guarantee. But, according to the 2015 accounts (submitted to the Charity Commissioners in October 2016), the bulk of its income comes from the Legatum Foundation Limited, a company registered in Bermuda.

The Bermuda company in turn is controlled by the Institute’s parent undertakings. The ultimate parent undertaking is the Legatum Partnership LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in Jersey., all of which are offshore tax havens.

The Institute itself is part of the Legatum Group, set up in 2006 by the multi-billionaire New Zealand born Christopher Chandler, formerly president of Sovereign Asset Management.

In the 2015 report to the Charity Commissioners, senior management personnel of the Legatum Institute were listed as Anne Applebaum, Giles Dilnot, Alexandra Mousavizadeh, former newspaper columnist Christina Odone and Shanker Singham, the latter acting as chairman of the Institute’s Special Trade Commission, fronting most of the Brexit propaganda.

Applebaum is firmly on the political right, having been an adjunct fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. She has an extensive career as a journalist, working for the Washington Post, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and the Economist. She was deputy editor of the Spectator and political editor for the Evening Standard. However, she resigned from the Legatum Institute in 2016, having disagreed with the director over the Institute’s support for Brexit. She now works for the LSE. If Applebaum was described as ‘politically right’ – one can only imagine where Legatum stands.

Currently top of the hierarchy is Philippa Stroud, CEO of the Institute. Previously. She used to be Chief Executive of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a right-wing think tank that she co-founded with Iain Duncan Smith in 2004. Prior to the CSJ, she was also Special Adviser to Iain Duncan Smith MP (then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) from 2010-15. Another of the Legatum Institute directors is Toby Baxendale. He is also on its board of trustees. As to other interests, he was director, alongside co-director Steve Baker, of the now defunct Leadsom4Leader, a limited company set up to support Andrea Leadsom’s Conservative Party leadership bid.

Baxendale is also co-founder, again with Steve Baker, of the Cobden Centre, a free market libertarian think tank that influenced Margaret Thatcher). He also set up the Hayek Visiting Fellowship at the London School of Economics and has been a significant donor to the Conservative Party.

A senior fellow of the Cobden Centre is Professor Kevin Dowd, who is also an honorary fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs. Dowd is a professor of finance and economics at Durham University and a member of the lobby group, Economists for Free Trade and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute – an American right-wing think located just down the road to the Whitehouse in Washington DC that is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. The brothers allegedly spent nearly $900 million dollars trying to influence the outcome of the last presidential race that saw Donald Trump move into the Whitehouse.

The links with the Cobden Centre bring us to Matthew Elliott, who just happens to be a senior fellow of the Legatum Institute (and you thought he was chief executive of the Leave Campaign!). Elliott, founder of the aforementioned Taxpayers Alliance and one-time director of Vote Leave, sits with another Legatum senior fellow Tim Montgomerie, founding editor of Conservative Home and former Times columnist. At the Cobden Centre, he sits on the Advisory Board with Sam Bowman, research director of the Adam Smith Institute (categorised by Transparify as almost the most ‘highly deceptive’ think tank in Britain), Ewen Stewart – a managing board member of the Freedom Association (right-wing pressure group) – and Douglas Carswell.

Yet another senior fellow Legatum Institute is Danny Kruger, former chief speechwriter to David Cameron, chief leader writer at The Daily Telegraph, and director of research at the Centre for Policy Studies (categorized as highly opaque/deceptive think tank by Transparify).

Listed as a Legatum fellow, along with many others, one also finds Graeme Leach, founder and chief economist of Macronomics, a macroeconomic, geopolitical and future megatrends research consultancy he launched in 2016. He is a visiting professor of economic policy, a member of the IEA Shadow Monetary Policy Committee and has a weekly column in the City AM newspaper. Between 1997 and 2013 he worked as Chief Economist and Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), where he was also a main board director.

A trustee of Legatum is Richard Briance, the Chairman of PMB Capital Limited, a newly formed merchant banking business and former Chief Executive of Edmond de Rothschild Ltd. Before that, he had been Managing Director of Credit Suisse First Boston Ltd, Vice-Chairman at UBS Ltd and Chief Executive of West Merchant Bank Ltd.

In terms of his other political activities, Briance was a Non-Executive Director at Oxford Analytica from 1999-2010 and he has been a trustee of Policy Exchange, the think tank (categorised as ‘opaque’ by Transparify) created in 2002 by Michael Gove, now environment minister, Nicholas Boles and Francis Maude.

One of the key figures in the Policy Exchange was Lord (James) O’Shaughnessy, formerly Deputy Director. He then worked for the Prime Minister, David Cameron, as his Director of Policy between 2010 and 2011 and for three years (2007-2010) worked in the Conservative Party as Director of Policy and Research. He has now become a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute.

Another network is created with the use of Sian Hansen as chair the Institute’s development committee. Formerly managing director of the Policy Exchange, she went on to become executive director of the Legatum Institute”.

She is also also holds non-executive directorships with JP Morgan Income and Capital Trust PLC, Pacific Assets Trust and EBF International (Shanghai) Ltd.

In October 2016, The Legatum Institute sponsored a report called The Road to Brexit. The foreword was by Iain Duncan Smith, Philippa Stroud’s former boss. Also writing for the report were the MPs John Redwood, Peter Lilley, Owen Paterson and Bernard Jenkin – leading members of the “Ultras”.

As well as Shanker Singham, there were two other authors, Sheila Lawlor and James Arnell. Lawlor directs the economic, education, constitutional and social policy programmes of think tank Politeia  who advocates the abolition of the NHS –  while Arnell is a partner as Charterhouse, displaying ultra right-wing views on Brexit.

The picture one gets of Legatum, therefore, is of an exceptionally well-endowed think-tank with fingers in many pies and strongly networked with other think-tanks and the media. With offshore finance, though, this is redolent of foreign interference in UK politics.

The greatest concern, though, comes from reading the Legatum website. Having invested heavily in Russia and developing countries, the business speciality is moving into markets at times of crisis where assets are mispriced.

EUReferendum continues: With an eye for emerging trends and undervalued assets, it invested heavily in the telecommunications sector in Brazil, just after the country emerged from hyperinflation. It describes its own “investment heritage” in navigating through choppy markets, following the great financial crisis.

The company takes great pride in its investments in Hong Kong real estate, a market which investors had fled after the signing of the Sino-British Accord, an agreement that promised to give Hong Kong back to the Chinese government. It saw assets mispriced, and noted that “opportunities arise in times of crisis”.

This is a business style which has been described as “disaster capitalism“, which would benefit significantly from a hard Brexit. Here, a comparison could be made with Hong Kong, where a similar situation might arise in a UK under the stress of a hard Brexit, where many traditional firms have run for cover, or relocated in the EU, leaving many assets under-priced.

Looking also for opportunities arising from deregulation and further privatisation – especially in the NHS, with Legatum having considerable healthcare interests – hard Brexit presents multiple opportunities. This, after all, is a business that openly states that it “finds value where disruptive transitions create unique opportunities“.

In this, the Legatum Institute seems to be paving the way for its “parent undertakings”, engineering a “disruptive transition” for Brexit, then to reap the profits from chaos. Its task is assisted by useful fools and fellow travellers on the Tory right. What we have often characterised as incompetence, therefore, may be more sinister. There is money to be made out of a hard Brexit.

Finally, there are others who agree that Brexit on its own is one thing but what is actually happening is something quite different.

Tax Justice Network, (one of the most transparent think tanks in Britain) are very concerned:

It was never quite made clear who would be the major beneficiaries of Brexit. One thing was certain at the time: it wouldn’t be ordinary people. Instead, power is being consolidated by the same old political and economic elites and the state is becoming more, not less, beholden to big business and its demands. These are the real consequences of Brexit.”

It is also becoming clear with this strategy, that a right-wing Tory Brexit will end with huge deregulation. This will be sold to the general public as freedom from the red tape of an EU bureaucracy that Britain escaped, not the public protections put in place over decades to ensure civil society thrives. But as George Monbiot opines;  

Ripping down such public protections means freedom for billionaires and corporations from the constraints of democracy. This is what Brexit is all about. The freedom we were promised is the freedom of the very rich to exploit us.”

EUReferedum states in its overall aims for a post-Brexit Britain that:

Within the United Kingdom, our vision is for a government respectful of its people who will take on greater participation and control of their affairs at local and national level. Our vision fosters the responsibility of a sovereign people as the core of true democracy.

On its current trajectory, Brexit is not going to deliver any of those noble outcomes, unless of course, you happen to be a foreign billionaire with significant interests in the game.

All images in this article are from the author unless otherwise stated.

 

Uncle Sam dumps the Kurds (yet again)

The Saker

Uncle Sam dumps the Kurds (yet again)

JANUARY 26, 2018

[This article was written for the Unz Review]

The drama which is unfolding in northern Syria is truly an almost ideal case to fully assess how weak and totally dysfunctional the AngloZionist Empire has really become. Let’s begin with a quick reminder.

The US-Israeli goals in Syria were really very simple. As I have already mentioned in a past article, the initial AngloZionist plan was to overthrow Assad and replace him with the Takfiri crazies (Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS – call them whatever you want). Doing this would achieve the following goals:

  1. Bring down a strong secular Arab state along with its political structure, armed forces and security services.
  2. Create total chaos and horror in Syria justifying the creation of a “security zone” by Israel not only in the Golan, but further north.
  3. Trigger a civil war in Lebanon by unleashing the Takfiri crazies against Hezbollah.
  4. Let the Takfiris and Hezbollah bleed each other to death, then create a “security zone”, but this time in Lebanon.
  5. Prevent the creation of a Shia axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.
  6. Breakup Syria along ethnic and religious lines.
  7. Create a Kurdistan which could then be used against Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
  8. Make it possible for Israel to become the uncontested power broker in the Middle-East and forces the KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and all others to have to go to Israel for any gas or oil pipeline project.
  9. Gradually isolate, threaten, subvert and eventually attack Iran with a wide regional coalition of forces.
  10. Eliminate all center of Shia power in the Middle-East.

With the joint Russian-Iranian military intervention, this plan completely collapsed. For a while, the USA tried to break up Syria under various scenarios, but the way the Russian Aerospace forces hammered all the “good terrorists” eventually convinced the AngloZionists that this would not work.

The single biggest problem for the Empire is that while it has plenty of firepower in the region (and worldwide), it cannot deploy any “boots on the ground”. Being the Empire’s boots on the ground was, in fact, the role the AngloZionists had assigned to the Takfiri crazies (aka Daesh/IS/ISIS/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc/), but that plan failed. The only US allies left in the region are Israel and Saudi Arabia. The problem with them is that, just like the USA themselves, these countries do not have ground forces capable of actually deploying inside Syria and taking on not only the Syrian military, but the much more capable Iranian and Hezbollah forces. Murdering civilians is really the only thing the Israelis and Saudis are expert in, at least on the ground (in the skies the Israeli Air Force is a very good one). Enter the Kurds.

The AngloZionist wanted to use the Kurds just like NATO had used the KLA in Kosovo: as a ground force which could be supported by US/NATO and maybe even Israeli airpower. Unlike the Israelis and Saudis, the Kurds are a relatively competent ground force (albeit not one able to take on, say, Turkey or Iran).

The folks at the Pentagon had already tried something similar last year when they attempted to create a sovereign Kurdistan in Iraq by means of a referendum. The Iraqis, with some likely help from Iran, immediately put an end to this nonsense and the entire exercise was a pathetic “flop”.

Which immediately begs to obvious question: are the Americans even capable of learning from their mistakes? What in the world were they thinking when they announced the creation of 30’000 strong Syrian Border Security Force (BSF) (so called to give the illusion that protecting Syria’s border was the plan, not the partition Syria)? The real goal was, as always, to put pressure on Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia while grabbing a lot of oil. As always with Uncle Shmuel, the entire plan had no UNSC authorization was thus totally illegal under international law (as is the presence of the USA in the Syria’s airspace and territory, but nobody cares any more).

Did Trump and his generals really think that Turkey, Iran, Syria and Russia would accept a US protectorate in Syria masquerading as an “independent Kurdistan” and do nothing about it? Yet again, and I know this sounds hard to believe, but I think that this is yet another strong indication that the Empire is run by stupid and ignorant people whose brain and education simply do not allow them to grasp even the basic dynamics in the region of our planet there are interfering with.

Whatever may be the case the Turks reacted exactly as everybody thought: the Turkish Chief of Staff jumped into an airplane, flew to Moscow, met with top Russian generals (including Minister of Defense Shoigu) and clearly got a “go ahead” from Moscow: not only were the Turkish airplanes flying over Syria’s Afrin province not challenged by Russian air defense systems (which have ample coverage in this region), but the Russians also helpfully withdrew their military personnel from the region lest any Russian get hurt. Sergei Lavrov deplored it all, as he had to, but it was clear to all that Turkey had the Russian backing for this operation. I would add that I am pretty sure that the Iranians were also consulted (maybe at the same meeting in Moscow?) to avoid any misunderstandings as there is little love lost between Ankara and Tehran.

What about the Kurds? Well, how do I say that nicely? Let’s just say that what they did was not very smart. That’s putting it very, very mildly. The Russians gave them a golden deal: accept large autonomy in Syria, come to the National Dialog Congress to take place in Sochi, we will make your case before the (always reluctant) Syrians, Iranians and Turks and we will even give you money to help you develop your oil production. But no, the Kurds chose to believe in the hot air coming from Washington and when the Turks attacked that is all the Kurds got from Washington: hot air.

In fact, it is pretty clear that the US Americans have, yet again, betrayed an ally: Tillerson has now “greenlighted” a 30km safe zone in Syria (as if anybody was asking for his opinion, nevermind permission!). Take a look at this simple map of the Afrin region and look what 50 miles (about 80km) look like. You can immediately see that this 30km “safe zone” means: the end of any Kurdish aspirations to created a little independent Kurdistan in northern Syria.

To say that  all these developments make the Russians really happy is not an exaggeration. It is especially sweet for the Russians to see that they did not even have to do much, that this ugly mess of a disaster for the USA was entirely self-inflicted. What can be sweeter than that?

Let’ look at it all from the Russian point of view:

First, this situation further puts Turkey (a US ally and NATO member) on a collision course with the US/NATO/EU. And Turkey is not ‘just’ a NATO ally, like Denmark or Italy. Turkey is the key to the eastern Mediterranean and the entire Middle-East (well, one of them at least). Also, Turkey has a huge potential to be a painful thorn in the southern ‘belly’ of Russia so it is really crucial for Russia to keep Uncle Sam and the Israelis as far away from Turkey as possible. Having said that, nobody in Russia harbors *any *illusions about Turkey and/or Erdogan. Turkey will always be a problematic neighbor for Russia (the two countries already fought 12 wars!!!). But there is a big difference between “bad” and “worse”. Considering that in a not too distant past Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft over Syria, financed, trained and supported “good terrorists” in Syria, was deeply involved in the Tatar separatist movement in Crimea, and was the main rear base for the Wahabi terrorists in Chechnia for well over a decade, “worse” in the case of Turkey can be much, much worse than “bad” is today.

Second, these developments have clearly brought Turkey into an even closer cooperative dynamic with Russia and Iran, something which Russia very much desires. Turkey by itself is much more of a potential problem than a Turkey which partners up with Russia and Iran (ideally with Syria too, but considering the animosity between the two countries and their leaders that is something for the distant future, at least for the time being). What is shaping up is an informal (but very real) Russian-Turkish-Iranian regional alliance against the Axis of Kindness: USA-Israel-KSA. If that is what happens then the latter does not stand a chance to prevail.

Third, even though the Kurds are outraged and are now whining about the Russian “betrayal” – they will come to realize that they did it to themselves and that their best chance for freedom and prosperity is to work with the Russians. That means that the Russians will be able to achieve with, and for, the Kurds what the USA could not. Yet another very nice side-benefit for Russia.

Fourth, Syria, Iran and Turkey now realize a simple thing: only Russia stands between the crazy US-Israeli plans for the region and them. Absent Russia, there is nothing stopping the AngloZionist from re-igniting the “good terrorists” and the Kurds and use them against every one of them.

Be it as it may, having the USA and Israel shoot themselves in the leg and watch them bleed is not enough. To really capitalize on this situation the Russians need to also achieve a number of goals:

First, they need to stop the Turks before this all turns into a major and protracted conflict. Since Tillerson “greenlighted” a 30km “safe zone”, this is probably what Erdogan told Trump over the phone and that, in turn, is probably what the Russians and the Turks agreed upon. So, hopefully, this should not be too hard to achieve.

Second, the Russians need to talk to the Kurds and offer them the same deal again: large autonomy inside Syria in exchange for peace and prosperity. The Kurds are not exactly the easiest people to talk to, but since there is really no other option, my guess is that as soon as they stop hallucinating about the US going to war with Turkey on their behalf they will have to sit down and negotiate the deal. Likewise, the Russians will have to sell the very same deal to Damascus which, frankly, is in no position to reject it.

Third, Russia has neither the desire nor the means to constantly deal with violent flare-ups in the Middle-East. If the Empire desperately needs wars to survive, Russia desperately needs peace. In practical terms this means that the Russians must work with the Iranians, the Turks, the Syrians to secure a regional security framework which would be guaranteed and, if needed, enforced by all parties. And yes, the next logical step will be to approach Israel and the KSA and give them security guarantees in exchange for their assurances to stop creating chaos and wars on behalf of the USA. I know, I will get a lot of flak for saying this, but there *are* people in Israel and, possibly, Saudi Arabia who also understand the difference between “bad” and “worse”. Heed my words: as soon as the Israelis and the Saudis realize that Uncle Sam can’t do much for them either, they will suddenly become much more open to meaningful negotiations. Still, whether these rational minds will be sufficient to deal with the rabid ideologues I frankly don’t know. But it is worth trying for sure.

Conclusion

The Trump Administration’s “strategy” (I am being very kind here) is to stir up as many conflicts in as many places of our planet as possible. The Empire thrives only on chaos and violence. The Russian response is the exact opposite: to try as best can be to stop wars, defuse conflicts and create, if not peace, at least a situation of non-violence. Simply put: peace anywhere is the biggest danger to the AngloZionist Empire whose entire structure is predicated on eternal wars. The total and abject failure of all US plans for Syria (depending on how you count we are at “plan C” or even “plan D”) is a strong indicator of how weak and totally dysfunctional the AngloZionist Empire has become. But ‘weak’ is a relative term while ‘dysfunctional’ does not imply ‘harmless’. The current lack of brains at the top, while very good in some ways, is also potentially very dangerous. I am in particular worried about what appears to be a total absence of real military men (officers in touch with reality) around the President. Remember how Admiral Fallon once referred to General Petraeus as “an ass-kissing little chickenshit“? This also fully applies to the entire gang of generals around Trump – all of them are the kind of men real officers like Fallon would, in this words, “hate”. As for State, I will just say this: I don’t expect much from a man who could not even handle Nikki Haley, nevermind Erdogan.

Remember how the USA ignited the Ukraine to punish the Russians for their thwarting of the planned US attack on Syria? Well, the very same Ukraine has recently passed a law abolishing the “anti-terrorist operation” in the Donbass and declaring the Donbass “occupied territory”. Under Ukie law, Russia is now officially an “aggressor state”. This means that the Ukronazis have now basically rejected the Minsk Agreements and are in a quasi-open state of war with Russia. The chances of a full-scale Ukronazi attack on the Donbass are now even higher then before, especially before or during the soccer World Cup in Moscow this summer (remember Saakashvili?). Having been ridiculed (again) with their Border Security Force in Syria, the US Americans will now seek a place to take revenge on the evil Russkies and this place will most likely be the Ukraine. And we can always count the Israelis to find a pretext to continue to murder Palestinians and bomb Syria. As for the Saudis, they appear to be temporarily busy fighting each other. So unless the Empire does something really crazy, the only place it can lash out with little to lose (for itself) is the eastern Ukraine. The Novorussians understand that. May God help them.

The Saker

EU Delivers €11 Million in Support of Palestinian Families. But How Much of That Will be Stolen by israel?

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25 Jan  1:40 AM

SEE ALSO 72% of aid money intended for Palestine is stolen by israel

The European Union (EU) said, on Wednesday, that it delivered the Palestinian Authority the quarterly payment of a €50-million to support poor and vulnerable Palestinian families in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to the press release, the contribution is funded by the European Union, which provided 10 million euros, the Spanish government, which contributed 1 million euros, and Ireland, which contributed 0.28 million euros. The pledge will contribute to support some 67,500 families, about 80% of them in the Gaza Strip.

The release further stated, according to Al Ray,that  the EU funds will cover the social allowances for more than 115,000 families. This quarterly payment is channeled in times of heightened tensions in Gaza. and a difficult situation for the people living there.

Toman Niklasson, Deputy EU Representative said that “The fight against poverty is at the heart of the EU’s political, economic, and social agenda.”

“Through contributing to the payment of social allowances, the EU is supporting the Palestinian Authority in providing social protection to those in need. This is particularly crucial in Gaza where we are facing alarming and increasing poverty rates.” he said

نصرالله يلتقي كل الفصائل الفلسطينية… ويتوعّد العدو «إذا وقعت الحرب الكبرى»: القدس هدفنا… لا الجليل

«إذا وقعت الحرب الكبرى»: القدس هدفنا… لا الجليل

نصرالله: الحرب في سوريا في مراحلها الأخيرة، قد تنتهي بحدود سنة أو سنتين (هيثم الموسوي)

النقطة الأهم في حديث السيّد حسن نصرالله لـ«الميادين» أمس هي كشفه عن اجتماعات تُعقد مع فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية، بهدف تنظيم التواصل والتنسيق، والدفع لانطلاق الانتفاضة الثالثة، مع تقديم كلّ أنواع الدعم اللازم. ولا يُفصل ذلك عن مسار التحضير لـ«الحرب الكُبرى»، التي قد تصل إلى تحرير القدس لا الجليل وحسب

التحضير لـ«الحرب الكبرى» مع العدو الإسرائيلي، عبر تجميع قوى محور المقاومة، انطلق. هذا ما أعلنه الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، في مقابلته مع قناة الميادين أمس. لا يجزم السيّد بأنّ الحرب ستُشنّ. ولكن، «هناك شيء يُحضّر للمنطقة. (الرئيس دونالد) ترامب حين يذهب في اتجاه ضرب مسار التسوية والمفاوضات في الصميم، يعني إما الاستسلام وإما المواجهة الكبرى».

والشعب الفلسطيني، كما يعرفه نصرالله، «لن يستسلم. أصبح لديّ يقين، لا يوجد فلسطيني يوقّع على تسوية القدس ليست فيها عاصمة لفلسطين. ورغم كلّ الحراك في المنطقة، من دون توقيع الفلسطيني لا تنتهي القضية». والمقاومة «لن تتردد في اغتنام أي فرصة لتقديم الدعم والسلاح للمقاومة في فلسطين، وهذا الدعم واجب وليس رد فعل». إعلان ترامب القدس عاصمة لكيان الاحتلال، الموضوع الذي «يستفز مشاعر كلّ الأمة»، أدّى خلال الأسبوعين الماضيين إلى عقد لقاءات مع كلّ فصائل المقاومة «من أجل لمّ الشمل وإعادة التواصل.

وقد التقيت حسب الترتيب الزمني: الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين، الجبهة الشعبية للقيادة العامة، حركة فتح الانتفاضة، منظمة الصاعقة، حركة النضال الوطني الشعبي، حركة حماس، الجبهة الديمقراطية لتحرير فلسطين، الجهاد الإسلامي، وحركة فتح وفدها كان برئاسة عضو اللجنة المركزية عزام الأحمد».

كرّر نصرالله أكثر من مرّة أنّ «مشروعنا ليس الحرب، ولكن ترامب ونتنياهو قد يدفعان المنطقة إليها، وقد تحصل كحرب على غزة، أو لبنان، أو سوريا، الهدف منها ضرب محور المقاومة». إذا حصلت الحرب المقبلة، وكانت مثلاً تستهدف لبنان، «سيكون هناك الآلاف يُشاركون فيها. السيد عبد الملك الحوثي أعلن استعداده ليكون جزءاً منها. وقد وصلت رسائل مباشرة من السيد الحوثي، أنهم جاهزون إذا وقعت الحرب لأن نُرسل قوات بعشرات الآلاف من المقاتلين حتى لو لم تتوقف الحرب السعودية الأميركية علينا». النواة التي تُحضر وتعمل لاحتمال الحرب، تتألف من فصائل المقاومة في إيران، العراق، سوريا، لبنان، واليمن. المسؤولية التي تقع على هذا المحور هي «التحضير حتى لا نُفاجأ بالحرب، والعمل على تحويل التهديد إلى فرصة تاريخية يعني ما هو أبعد من الجليل. فإذا حصلت حرب كبرى، كلّ شيء وارد»، لافتاً إلى أنّ الهدف حينذاك سيكون تحرير القدس، لا الجليل وحسب. وكما احتمال الحرب وارد، هناك «يقين بالانتصار». فالمعركة الكبرى، يوجد فيها «الآلاف من المقاتلين المستعدين لخوضها من دون حساب، وهم عُشّاق الشهادة». وقال نصرالله إنّ من «ألحق هزيمة بداعش، قادر على إلحاق الهزيمة بالجيش الإسرائيلي، الخارج من مجموعة هزائم، وميزته الوحيدة في سلاح الجو الذي لا يحسم معركة». أما عن عدم الردّ على استهداف الإسرائيلي لأهداف حزب الله في سوريا، «فيخدم التحضير للحرب الكبرى. علماً أنّ الإسرائيليين يعرفون أنّهم لم ولن يتمكنوا من منع وصول السلاح إلى حزب الله».

انطلقت الحلقة على «الميادين»، بحديث نصرالله عن التظاهرات في إيران، وتأكيده أنّ «الأمور انتهت، وما جرى تمّ استيعابه بشكل جيد». قارن بين الأحداث في الأيام الأخيرة، وما حصل غداة الانتخابات عام 2009، «اليوم كلّ تيارات النظام موحدة. بدأت القصة بخلفية مالية، ودخل على الخطّ جهات سياسية متربصة: كجماعة الشاه السابق رضا بهلوي، مجاهدي خلق، ومجموعات أخرى… استغلّت الأمور وأخذتها باتجاه سياسي، وطرحت شعارات سياسية. النظام والمسؤولون تعاطوا بهدوء». ما أعطى ضخامة «هي أعمال الشغب، والتدخل الخارجي إن كان من ترامب ونائبه، أو نتنياهو، والسعودية التي اعتبرتها معركتها وعلّقت آمالاً كبيرة على ما يحصل». الكلّ في إيران «يعترف بالتحدي الاقتصادي ويتفهم الاحتجاجات. سيُشكل هذا حافزاً للمسؤولين والمؤسسات لتُعالج الموضوع بجدية». أما إن كانت الاحتجاجات ستؤثر في دعم المقاومة في فلسطين أو لبنان أو سوريا، فنفى نصرالله ذلك لأنّ «النسبة الأكبر بين الإيرانيين تؤيد السياسة الخارجية. قضية فلسطين، والمقاومة، جزء من عقيدة الشعب ومن التزامه الديني الثوري، وجزء من أمنه القومي. وشُرح للشعب، أنه إذا لم نُساعد في سوريا والعراق واللبنانيين ليقاتلوا التكفير، المعركة ستكون على حدود إيران وداخلها».

في الملفّ اللبناني، كشف نصرالله عن مسعى يقوم به حزب الله لحل أزمة مرسوم ضباط «دورة عون» بين الرئيس ميشال عون ورئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري، من دون أن يُعبّر عن إيجابية في إيجاد حلّ. ثمّ تحدّث عن تفاصيل إضافية في ما خصّ أزمة رئيس الحكومة سعد الحريري. وفق المعلومات، إنّ السعودية كانت تُحضّر لأن «تُقبل الاستقالة، يبقى الحريري نهائياً في السعودية، ونصل إلى تسمية رئيس حكومة جديد. إذا سُمي شخص من خارج تيار المستقبل، سيتم تحريض الأخير وإنزاله إلى الشارع وأخذ لبنان إلى الفوضى. وإذا رُشّح أحد من تيار المستقبل، سيُمنع من قبول التسمية. يؤدي ذلك إلى فراغ، ودفع الأمور إلى التصعيد والفوضى والحرب الأهلية. وحصل نقاش بطريقة إيصال السلاح إلى لبنان». أما في ما خصّ الانتخابات النيابية، «فما يُحكى عن تحالف خماسي، يعزل أطراف أخرى، غير مطروح ولا أساس له من الصحة. الأصل هو التحالف مع حلفائنا. من خارج التحالفات الطبيعية، في مناطق ما، الموضوع قابل للنقاش». وقال نصرالله إنّه «لم نُناقش بعد في الأسماء».

من لبنان إلى سوريا، تحدّث نصرالله عن وجود للمقاومة السورية في الجنوب السوري، وستعمل إما بعنوان «الدفاع، أو اذا أخذت سوريا قراراً بالمقاومة الشعبية لتحرير الجولان. هذا خيار تخشاه إسرائيل». نصرالله الذي التقى الأسد «قبل أسابيع»، قال إنّ الحرب في سوريا «في مراحلها الأخيرة، تنتهي بحدود سنة أو سنتين، إذا بقي مسار الأمور كما هو حالياً». وشرح نصرالله ما قاله أمام كوادر في حزب الله، أنّ العامل الأول للانتصار هو «شخص بشار الأسد، والفريق معه، والجيش السوري، والحاضنة الشعبية. الباقي كانوا عوامل مساعدة». وقال إنّ وجود حزب الله في سوريا «قرار يرتبط بالقيادة السورية، لا نفرض نفسنا ولا نبحث عن شيء. قد يُصبح وجودنا كما كان قبل عام 2011».

في ما خص العدوان على اليمن، أسف نصرالله لأنّ «الحرب ستستمر، ولا يوجد أفق للحل السياسي، بسبب السعودية. هناك مجازر يومية تُرتكب والعالم كلّه ساكت. اليمنيون يطالبون بحكومة وحدة وطنية يشارك فيها الجميع وتعيد توحيد الجيش».

على صعيد آخر، ذكّر نصرالله بأنّه بعد أحداث 11 أيلول، وصلته رسالة من نائب رئيس الولايات المتحدة السابق ديك تشيني، يعرض فيها على حزب الله «إعادة كلّ الأسرى، ورفع الفيتو عن وجودنا في الحكومة، وشطب الحزب عن لوائح الإرهاب، وإزالة القيود، وتقديم مبلغ ملياري دولار لإعادة الإعمار، والاحتفاظ بسلاحنا، من دون الكاتيوشا. ويمكننا أن لا نعترف بإسرائيل، ونخطب ضدّها. ولكن المطلوب، عدم إطلاق نار في مواجهة إسرائيل، عدم تقديم أي مساعدة للفلسطينيين، والتعاون في موضوع القاعدة». حزب الله رفض أي تعاون مع الأميركيين، «وآخر محاولة من قبلهم كانت بعد انتخاب ترامب، ولكن قبل تسلّمه الرئاسة». أما الأوروبيون، «فحصل لقاء بين مسؤول أمني أوروبي ومسؤولين من الجناح العسكري في حزب الله، طلبوا تعاوناً معلوماتياً معنا في مجال مكافحة الإرهاب، ولا مانع لدينا».
(الأخبار)

 

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UK & US Continue to Honour and Supply Saudi Arabia Despite Slaughter at Weddings, Funerals & in Everyday Life

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By Drone Warfare

As decision-makers and most voters in America and Britain enjoy comfortable lives, the Times and Yemen’s al-Masirah TV report that Saudi warplanes near Yemen’s rebel-held capital struck and killed several people on Wednesday, according to medical officials. These included a group of ten women attending the funeral in Arhab, 25 miles from Sanaa, according to a spokesman for the Houthi rebel group.

Locals said the women were returning on foot from the wedding when they were targeted. Several other women, who were riding in a car, escaped the attacks. “The aggressor committed a hideous crime by targeting ordinary women who were returning from a wedding,” said the father of two of the slain women. The deaths are the latest from more than two years of Saudi Arabia’s devastating military campaign against Yemen. More than 12,000, including many women and children, have been killed in Saudi airstrikes while millions remain displaced, living with shortages of fuel, food and water and the threat of cholera.

The European Parliament takes a stand – but will the Commission heed it?

During a debate in the European Parliament, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato challenged Conservative MEP Geoffrey van Orden over his views on arms sales [see video], asking him whether he would vote to end ‘arms sales to Saudi Arabia that are being used to kill Yemeni children.’

The European Parliament then voted in favour of a Green report, challenging the Commission to introduce an embargo on arms exports to Saudi Arabia. The report also calls for a new process to sanction EU countries which do not comply with EU rules on arms exports . . . a major embarrassment to the UK government which has supported billions of pounds worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Featured image is from the Drone Warfare.

People who caused the violence in Venezuela awarded Human Rights prize

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By Lucas Koerner | Mint Press | December 18, 2017

Leftist Eurodeputies have opposed the move, calling the South American country’s opposition violent and anti-democratic.

The European Parliament honored Venezuela’s right-wing opposition with its prestigious Sakharov human rights prize during a ceremony in Strasbourg on Wednesday.National Assembly (AN) President Julio Borges received the award on behalf of the opposition-controlled legislature and the country’s so-called “political prisoners”, to whom the prize was dedicated.

“In the next few months, there should be a presidential election and we ask Europe and the free world to pay full attention,” he said in remarks during the ceremony.

Borges further accused the government of President Nicolas Maduro of having “kidnapped democracy, and installed hunger and misery.”

The AN president’s visit to Strasbourg comes just days after the government’s landslide victory in December 10 municipal elections, which were boycotted by the largest opposition parties, including Borges’ own First Justice party. The main opposition coalition, the MUD, has been wracked by internecine strife since its surprise defeat in October 15 regional elections that saw the ruling socialist party take 18 of 23 governorships.

Speaking at the ceremony, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said the nomination of the Venezuelan opposition was in keeping with the EU’s commitment to defending democracy.

“By awarding this prize, we defend the constitutions, the institutions, the separation of powers. And that’s the basis of democracy,” he declared.

The move has, however, sparked a backlash from parliamentarians on the left-wing of the EU legislature.

“The decision of the presidency of the European Parliament to grant the prize to extremists of the Venezuelan opposition – despite criticisms from various Eurodeputies – is cynical and scandalous,” said German Left Party (Die Linke) Vice President Heinke Haensel, referring to Borges’ and other opposition leaders’ support for four months of violent anti-government protests that left over 125 dead earlier this year.

Spain’s United Left (IU), for its part, led a boycott of the ceremony, accusing the EU Parliament of “putting itself on the side of violence in Venezuela instead of facilitating dialogue”.

“The people receiving the prize today embody a violent opposition that since 2002 has sought to overthrow governments democratically elected by the Venezuelan people with coups,” the party said in a statement.

Venezuela's US-Backed Opposition Turns Up The Violence Following Assembly Vote

An anti-government protester holds a shield brandished with photos of President Nicolas Maduro, government officials and a gun sight, during clashes with security forces in Caracas, Venezuela, July 22, 2017. (AP/Fernando Llano)

Additionally, IU slammed the parliament for passing over finalist Lolita Chavez – a Guatemalan indigenous Ki’che leader whose organization has been targeted by paramilitary groups – in order to give the award to Venezuelan opposition figures like Lorent Saleh, who “was jailed in relation to paramilitarism in Colombia”.

“This year there are people who have not received the prize and fight precisely against what the people who are going to receive it represent,” the leftist party concluded.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was established in 1988 in honor of Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov. The prize is presented annually and past recipients include Nelson Mandela, the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and Pakistani feminist Malala Yousafzai.

The European Parliament’s decision to give the prize to the Venezuelan opposition has been taken as one more indication of the EU’s increasingly hardline stance vis-à-vis Caracas.

While the European Union has yet to follow the US and Canada in approving sanctions against Venezuela, last month it moved to slap the South American country with an arms embargo.

The move was criticized by Noam Chomsky and other leading public intellectuals as hypocritical given the EU’s extensive military contracts with Saudi Arabia and other regimes with highly dubious human rights records.

“The idea of imposing an arms embargo on Venezuela while refusing to impose one on Saudi Arabia is beyond parody, not least because of Saudi Arabia’s murderous assault on Yemen, which has created one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world,” he told Reuters at the time.

Top photo | Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez holds a Venezuelan national flag as he greets a group of opposition protesters outside his home in Caracas, Venezuela, July 8, 2017. (AP/Fernando Llano)

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