Wednesday, July 17, 2013
As I reported on Sunday, Russia’s large scale amassing of over 160,000 troops, naval ships, fighter planes, and strategic bombers has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media — with only Russian-based news services really reporting on the entire event. From the Israeli bombing of the Russian missiles to the ‘snap drills’ calling upon Russian forces to enter this period of ‘full combat readiness’, it appears that only RT has been analyzing the situation and looking at what’s going on based on military sources.
Tabloid Media to Busy to Cover Brewing World Conflict
Originally being revealed by an anonymous intelligence individuals within the US military and shared with CNN as reported by the Israeli National News, the revelation that Israel was behind the strike on the Russian-made missiles in Syria may be behind the reason for the combat drill — assuming the Russians found out before the general public. Unfortunately, the US mainstream media is too busy covering the minor intricacies of what George Zimmerman ate for breakfast today to discuss the potential brewing of mega conflict.
And when you throw Edward Snowden into this mix of tensions between world powers, it’s additional fuel on the fire amid all of this diplomatic turmoil. And with the intelligence leak that it was Israel who blew up Russia’s missiles after they deemed them to be a threat to the country, you have a real serious key going into the ignition of world war.
An excerpt from the Russian report on the English version of the .RU website RIA Novosti reads:
“Russia’s air base of Tu-95MS Bear-H strategic bombers in the Amur Region is switching to full combat readiness as part of massive snap drills in the Eastern Military District, the Defense Ministry’s press office reported on Sunday… The exercise, which involves over 160,000 servicemen, some 1,000 armored vehicles, 130 aircraft and 70 warships from the Pacific Fleet, was ordered by President Vladimir Putin on Friday evening.”
Whether or not escalations reach the point of conflict, and I certainly hope they do not (as Israel vs Russia is the absolute ‘perfect storm’ setup to launch the next world war and potential nuclear armageddon), the amassing of over 160,000 troops and strategic bombers with orders to achieve ‘full combat readiness’ is newsworthy. But apparently not to the mainstream media within the United States. A simple Google search at the time of writing for ‘Russia 160,000 troops’ will in fact bring up forums, social media posts, Russian websites, and small-time blogs.
President Obama’s Middle East policy has been an ever-worsening train wreck because it lacks credibility and strategy, as Egypt, Libya, and particularly Syria, have shown. And the region is about to get much worse, unless Obama exercises resolute leadership on the most important global security issue of this generation: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
In a commerce-critical region where “might makes right” and only the strong survive, Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could have catastrophic consequences for the Middle East and beyond. The resulting dangers potentially include: (i) nuclear proliferation, as other Mideast countries feel threatened into pursuing their own nuclear programs; (ii) the transfer of nuclear materials from Iran – the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism – to terrorist organizations and/or rogue states; (iii) bolder attacks by Iranian terror proxies (Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, etc.) protected by Iran’s nuclear umbrella; and (iv) an even more belligerent Iran that flexes its nuclear arsenal to: export its radical Islamic ideology, acquire disputed territories and resources from neighboring countries, and/or undertake actions like blocking the Strait of Hormuz to increase the price of oil.
As Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently told CBS News’s Face the Nation, the Islamic Republic is now dangerously close to a nuclear capability. Because Iran has stockpiled about 190 pounds of 20% enriched uranium, Iran is just 60 kilograms – potentially just weeks – short of crossing the nuclear “red line” that Netanyahu set in his speech before the UN last September.
Unfortunately, Obama has signaled no urgency over Iranian nukes. Perhaps he hopes for a negotiated settlement to the issue, now that Hassan Rouhani, a so-called “moderate,” was elected to assume Iran’s presidency next month. But hope is not a strategy with the Iranian regime. Rouhani has been linked to the 1994 terrorist bombing of an Argentine Jewish community center that killed 85 people, and has boasted about how he manipulated nuclear talks with the West about a decade ago to expand Iran’s nuclear program. More importantly, Iran’s foreign policy is set by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has banned concessions to the West. Indeed, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, made it clear last Friday that Rouhani’s election will have no impact on Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities.
Obama must also recognize that the sanctions against Iran have demonstrably failed. The Islamic Republic has skillfully outmaneuvered them, as shown in a leaked U.N. report detailing 11 instances of Iran violating sanctions, including attempts to acquire materials for its atomic program. Reuters published an expose outlining how Iran exploits sanctions loopholes to import ore from Germany and France that could be used for making armor and missiles. More importantly, the Iranian nuclear weapons program has never once stopped because of sanctions. The only time that Iran ever suspended its nuclear program was after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when Iran briefly feared that a U.S. attack was imminent.
Obama’s Iran policy has thus far failed to produce any credible deterrent. It’s time for Obama to build on the lead of Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who warned last month that Iran only has only a few months to demonstrate to the West that it is serious about a negotiated solution to the standoff.
Israel doesn’t have the luxury of treating its red lines the way Obama has treated the one he set for Syria’s use of chemical weapons; that means that the volatile Middle East of today could become far more engulfed in war and instability. Netanyahu’s latest message may be the canary in the coalmine giving its final warning, so Obama should provide bold leadership on this critical issue before it’s too late. New Jersey-sized Israel survives only by the strength of the military force that it projects. Critical to that deterrent is making good on its threats, as Israel did with its destruction of the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs, in 1981 and 2007, respectively, and its ongoing surgical airstrikes to prevent Syria from transferring game-changing weapons to Hezbollah.
Given such exploits, isolationists might wonder why the U.S. should bother; let Israel bear all of the costs and risks of eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat for us, goes the thinking. But the nuclear program in Iran is far more dispersed, hardened, and distant than what Israel neutralized in Iraq and Syria. Iranian nukes are truly vulnerable only to U.S. military capabilities. Expecting Israel to do the job is like a heavyweight-boxing champion asking his featherweight friend to defend him against the approaching middleweight champion. Such cowardly tactics needlessly endanger the featherweight ally, but – more importantly – there is a good chance that the middleweight won’t be fully neutralized and will feel far more emboldened to attack the heavyweight after he concludes (alongside the rest of the world) that the heavyweight is just a paper tiger.
Iran can already attack U.S. interests across the Middle East and Europe. And as early as 2015, Iran could develop and test ballistic missiles that could strike the continental U.S., according to a Pentagon report released last week (“2013 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Assessment”). Obama can wait for the U.S. to be drawn into war with a nuclear-armed Iran, or he can proactively address the threat before Iran acquires nukes. But he cannot hide from the threat or hope it away. Obama must lead – before Iran’s nuclear recalcitrance forces Israel’s hand, with potentially apocalyptic consequences.
CHITA, July 17 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin praised the Russian military's performance Wednesday in an extensive snap check of combat readiness of unprecedented scale in Russia’s Far East this week.
Putin, supreme commander-in-chief of Russia’s armed forces, who oversaw the maneuvers at the Tsugol military testing site 250 kilometers from the city of Chita, said the Russian military had demonstrated high combat readiness and effectiveness. He described the overall results of the exercise as “more than satisfactory”, noting there has not been a single serious violation or failure.
"Such exercises have not been held since the Soviet era or perhaps even during that period,” Putin said after overflying the exercise area in a helicopter accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Over 160,000 servicemen, five Russian armies, the Third Air Force and Air Defense Command including strategic aviation, and the Pacific Fleet have been involved in the exercises, Putin said, stressing the operation was not simply an exercise but a snap combat readiness check.
On Tuesday afternoon, military units proceeded with the second stage of the exercise, ordered by Putin Friday to start early Saturday and due to end on July 20. The exercise, in which 5,000 tanks and armored vehicles, 130 aircraft and 70 Pacific Fleet warships have taken part, is the latest in a series of random combat-readiness checks that began in February.
The Defense Ministry has said snap inspections will be conducted on a regular basis to ensure constant combat readiness.
Police officers in Chicago, Illinois can remotely access video shot from any of the city’s 24,000 closed-circuit television cameras, and they are already using that ability to nab suspects who thought they could outsmart surveillance.
According to a recent Chicago Sun-Time article by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Frank Main, police officers in the Windy City recently issued their first arrest stemming from the use of space-age facial-recognition technology coupled with thousands of cameras that collect live video in real-time at all hours of the day.
Pierre Martin, 34, was arrested on May 2 and charged with armed robbery in connection with two incidents from earlier this year. During one of those events, a video camera owned by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and wired to the city’s three detective branches and the Criminal Information Prevention Center at police headquarters was rolling when Martin allegedly encountered his victim.
Months later, investigators were able to use the footage recorded using the CTA cameras and comb through a database of 4.5 million criminal booking shots in order to identify Martin as a person of interest. He is the first individual to be picked up by the CPD using the facial-recognition technology, but only one month after a city-wide roll-out he is likely to not be the last.
The Transportation Security Administration has given the CTA a $5.4 million grant to aid with the program, and that money has been used to update an already impressive arsenal of city-licensed surveillance cameras to run in tandem with NeoFace, a high-tech analysis program used by various governments and law enforcement agencies around the globe to grab biometric data off of an image and match it to another.
According to an April 2013 press release from NeoFace’s parent company, NEC Corporation of America, NeoFace exemplifies “facial recognition as an effective and non-intrusive tool for identification,” and has been deployed more than 200 times across 30 countries in only a few short years. Its use in Chicago is one of the latest, however, and the arrest of one individual already signals that other cities may follow suit.
“This was our first success,” Chicago Police Cmdr. Jonathan Lewin told the Sun-Times, adding, “as we pick up our training, you will see ongoing successes.”
Currently, Chicago cops can only rely on pre-recorded footage, with the system configured to avoid real-time surveillance. “It’s only post-event,” Lewin told the Sun-Times. But as similar programs become introduced elsewhere, the capabilities of systems like NeoFace are likely to put the activity of anyone, anywhere on the radar of authorities.
RT reported last week that the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC feeds footage from over 150 speed cameras, 50 red light lenses and more than 120 other closed-circuit television cams across the city to special analysis centers where local investigators can try to identify people caught on film breaking the law after the fact. One lawmaker likely to pursue an opportunity to run for DC mayor next year told the Washington Times that he wants officers everywhere to be able to monitor those cameras in real-time, and intends on fighting for that ability as Election Day approaches. Civil liberty advocates in Chicago, DC and elsewhere aren’t impressed, however, and warn that systems such as NeoFace could let police profile anyone of their choosing.
“Given Chicago’s history of unlawful political surveillance,” Harvey Gross man of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said in 2011, “it is critical that appropriate controls be put in place to rein in these powerful and pervasive surveillance cameras now available to law enforcement throughout the city.”
“The ubiquity and technological reach of Chicago’s surveillance camera system present a fundamental threat to the privacy and First Amendment rights of all persons in Chicago,” added ACLU of Illinois senior staff counsel Adam Schwartz in a statement at the time. “The current mayor and other city officials have said that their goal is to place a camera on every corner, blanketing the entire city in an integrated fashion. If that goal is achieved, the lives of residents of Chicago will be changed. We will be forced to make decisions about where to go and when with the knowledge that all of our actions can be watched and recorded.”
Two years down the road, those cameras are quickly growing in number and federal aid courtesy of the TSA is only helping speed up the process of putting an eye in the sky on every street block.
BRUSSELS - Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has said outsiders cannot tell him where his country begins or ends in reaction to new EU guidelines on settlements.
Speaking in a 40-second-long TV clip in Hebrew on Tuesday (16 July), he noted: "I will not let anybody harm Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, the Golan and Jerusalem … We will not accept any external dictates regarding borders."
He added the EU should focus on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme and Syria's civil war instead of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"I expect those who want peace in the region to deal with settlements after they solve the Syria crisis and the Iranian threat," he said.
His remarks come after revelations in Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the European Commission on 28 June quietly adopted new guidelines on EU funding in the region.
According to the rules, EU institutions will from 2014 onward refuse to co-fund projects unless Israel gives legal guarantees that none of the money will go to entities whose official seat is beyond the 1967 green line.
"The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the state of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support," the EU delegation in Tel Aviv said in a statement also on Tuesday.
The EU and the UN say the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Syria's Golan Heights, were illegally occupied by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
But Israel, which refers to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria and which claims Jerusalem as its "indivisible" capital, says they are not under occupation because there is no such thing as a Palestinian state.
It says it needs to keep the Golan Heights as a buffer against a potential Syrian attack.
It also says its final borders can only be agreed in bilateral talks with Palestinians.
As far back as ancient times, whenever civilizations fell into great crisis, people in desperation have almost invariably turned to a single individual who promised them better times.
Both the Greeks and Romans often conveyed dictatorial powers to someone in whom they entrusted people’s security and livelihood. Typically this was a battle-hardened general who could lead a city’s defenses and beat off an invading horde.
Of course, history is full of examples of men who did not give up power willingly once the crisis passed.
The ancient historian Herodotus lists as many as fifty ‘tyrants’ in his writings, a word that has its origins in ancient Greek despotic rulers.
For thousands of years, ambitious men have always taken advantage of crisis, social turmoil, and economic downturns to solidify their positions and take control… often creating even more destruction in their wake.
As an example, the 1920s economic crisis in the Weimar Republic had a huge impact in the rise of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism.
One of Hitler’s key tenets was to abrogate the Treaty of Versailles, and in particular section 231 – the ‘war guilt’ clause that stuck Germany with debilitating war reparation payments.
His message resonated with millions of Germans who had seen their entire lives turned upside down by economic stagnation and one of the worst episodes of hyperinflation in history.
The rest is, as they say, history.
I’ve been thinking about these stories quite a bit during my current travels across Europe’s most bankrupt nations.
One thing is painfully obvious– the situation on the ground is worse than ever.
The unemployment rate in Portugal hit a record high of 18% in May. The rate eased slightly by late June to 17.6%… but only because (you guessed it) the government simply stopped counting people.
Or, more appropriately, so many people vanished.
Here in Portugal, the latest craze is leaving. The country is experiencing a massive brain drain as people pack their bags and get out of dodge.
They know the labor market isn’t going to improve. Plus, wages here have fallen so much, people are looking abroad to places like Angola’s booming oil economy, Brazil, and Macau, all Portuguese-speaking former colonies.
This trend will likely increase as the latest government figures show that the recession here is actually accelerating.
The Portuguese economy contracted at a 4% annualized rate in the first quarter, worse than last year’s 3.2% contraction.
All of this comes at a time when the central government has collapsed. Based on the terms of their 78 billion euro bailout agreement, it’s EU bureaucrats in Brussels and Frankfurt that are calling the shots now.
(To put this figure in context, it would be akin to an $8 trillion ‘bailout’ in the US…)
These conditions are eerily similar to the Weimar Republic during the rise of National Socialism.
The country is bankrupt, the government has collapsed, the economy is in ruins, the debt burden is suffocating, and they’re controlled by foreigners. People are starting to call out for someone to deliver them from this chaos.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that some new Hitler is lurking in the shadows about to take over a European nation-state (though there are some disturbing trends, especially in Greece).
But it’s important to understand that there are serious, often historical consequences when major developed nations go bankrupt.
In the 1920s, there was one bankrupt country. And the consequences still define the world we live in.
Today there are at least half a dozen insolvent nations, including some of the largest economies in the world– Japan, Spain, Greece, Portugal, the US, etc.
And while major economic decline can take years or even decades to unfold, history shows that the consequences affect almost everyone… especially when people look to a man on a white horse to save them from their desperation.