Archive | January 7th, 2017

Sandra Naranjo Appointed Vice President of Ecuador

  • Sandra Naranjo, a graduate in economics and finance with a specialization in mathematics, will still be in charge of the National Secretariat for Planning and Development
    Sandra Naranjo, a graduate in economics and finance with a specialization in mathematics, will still be in charge of the National Secretariat for Planning and Development | Photo: Andes.
She is the second woman in the country’s history to hold this position.

National Secretary of Planning Sandra Naranjo, will be the vice president of the Republic of Ecuador until Feb. 19, replacing the incumbent, Jorge Glas, while he runs as the vice presidential candidate on the governing Alianza Pais ticket with Lenin Moreno as the presidential candidate.

RELATED: Ecuador Starts Presidential Race, Correa’s Former Vice President Leads

Secretary of Communication Patricio Barriga confirmed Wednesday night the appointment of Naranjo. He wrote from his Twitter account: “@MashiRafael appoints @sandynaranjo vice president of the Republic. Extraordinary woman of Tonga, a great professional.”

Sandra Naranjo, a graduate in economics and finance with a specialization in mathematics, will remain in charge of the National Secretariat for Planning and Development (SENPLADES), a post she’s held since October 2015. Previously she was Minister of Tourism.

She is the second woman to serve as vice president of Ecuador, the first being Rosalía Arteaga, who was elected as vice president in 1996 and served in that role for two years.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly approved the unpaid leave of Vice President Glas, with 75 affirmative votes and 19 abstentions.

Glass’ request is in accordance with article 93 of the Code of Democracy, which states that “dignitaries who opt for immediate re-election” may use the unpaid leave “from the registration of their candidatures until the day after the elections.”

Over 12 million Ecuadorian voters will go to the polls on February 19 to select one of the eight candidates running for President. They will also elect the members of the National Assembly and the representatives to the Andean Parliament. Voting is mandatory in the country for all eligible voters, with voting age beginning at 16.

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At Least 33 Inmates Killed in Brazil in 2nd Prison Riot in Days

  • Forensic experts of the Civil Police are handcuffed during a protest against bad working conditions and low pay in front of the Court of Justice in Manaus, Brazil, January 5, 2017.
    Forensic experts of the Civil Police are handcuffed during a protest against bad working conditions and low pay in front of the Court of Justice in Manaus, Brazil, January 5, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
The new prison uprising was reportedly a reaction to the deadly riot that left 56 prisoners slaughtered in the Manaus prison five days ago.

At least 33 inmates have been killed in an uprising in a Brazilian prison in the northernmost region of Roraima, local government officials said on Friday.

RELATED: Incarceration Crisis: 1 Killed Every Day in Brazil’s Prisons

The riot, which broke out at dawn, was reportedly a reaction to the prison uprising and deaths of around 60 people in the Amazon jungle Manaus prison on Sunday night.

The government has been quick to blame the Roraima riot on the country’s wide-reaching criminal organization Primeiro Comando da Capital, the country’s most powerful drug cartel.

Last October violent clashes at that same prison left at least 25 inmates dead. The facility, over 2,000 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, is located near the Venezuelan border.

Several of the deceased in Manaus had their decapitated bodies thrown over the prison walls, in what has been considered the bloodiest rebellion in the country’s overcrowded jails within the last two decades.

RELATED: Brazil Eyes War on Drug Gangs After Prison Riot Massacre

Officials say police have managed to recapture 40 of the 87 prisoners who escaped.

Brazil has the fourth largest prison population in the world behind Russia, China and the United States, with over 600,000 inmates living in overcrowded and squalid conditions.

Human rights groups have repeatedly raised concerns about the inhumane living conditions in Brazilian correctional facilities, which play an instrumental role in sparking violent clashes.

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Ex-Haitian Coup Leader Guy Philippe Arrested


Guy Philippe participates in a march into the city of Gonaives, Haiti, Feb. 19, 2004.

  • Guy Philippe participates in a march into the city of Gonaives, Haiti, Feb. 19, 2004. | Photo: Reuters.

Philippe, a paramilitary who helped lead the 2004 U.S-backed coup to oust Aristide, was arrested days before taking his elected senate seat.

Former Haitian coup leader Guy Philippe wanted by the U.S. on drug trafficking charges was arrested Thursday night after appearing on a live talk show near the capital of Port au Prince.

RELATED:  Haiti: Moise Officially Declared President

The ex-paramilitary leader turned senator-elect was arrested outside a radio studio where he was giving an interview in which the host of the program interrupted to announce the police had arrived outside the Scoop FM studio to arrest Philippe. Haitian police fired shots into the air to break up the crowd and Philippe was then taken into custody, according to the Associated Press.

After being arrested, Philippe was then transferred into the custody of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration where it is hoped that he will be soon extradited to the U.S. for trial to face drug trafficking charges, the Miami Herald reported.

Philippe, 48, led the 2004 Haitian coup which overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The coup was backed by then-U.S. President George W. Bush.

Philippe was elected in November to the Senate despite being wanted by the DEA for more than a decade on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and money laundering.

Had Philippe been sworn into office he would have enjoyed immunity from arrest or prosecution during his senate term.

The DEA and Office of the U.S. Attorney office are yet to make any comments on the arrest.

ANALYSIS: Haiti: The Price of Liberation  

Haiti issued an arrest warrant for Philippe over his suspected involvement in a 2015 attack on police headquarters in Haiti’s south where at least six people were killed. Philippe’s lawyers say the arrest warrant does not apply because he was a candidate in last year’s election.

Philippe has been accused by human rights groups of overseeing extrajudicial killings in Haiti, and has constantly been able to evade arrest and spend time in exile in the Dominican Republic. He had previously threatened to start a war in Haiti between paramilitaries and the country’s government.

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Russia Begins to Pull Forces from Syria


Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is pictured in international waters off the coast of Norway, Oct. 17, 2016.

  • Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is pictured in international waters off the coast of Norway, Oct. 17, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

As the conflict in Syria nears its sixth year, Russia has begun pulling out forces, beginning with an aircraft carrier.

Russia is starting to wind back its military presence in the Syrian conflict, Russian military chiefs announced on Friday. The scaling down of troops comes after President Vladimir Putin issued a decree amid the negotiation of a cease-fire with Iran and Turkey.

RELATED:  70% Spike in Civilian Deaths by US-Led Coalition in Syria, Iraq

The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and its battle group will taken from its current post in the Mediterranean Sea to its base in Severomorsk, Russia, Army General Valery Gerasimov said on Friday. The battle group had been deployed to Syria since October 2016, using its aircraft to target anti-Assad government forces and give joint support to other divisions.

“In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin, the Russian Defense Ministry is beginning the reduction of the armed deployment to Syria,” Gerasimov said.

On Dec. 29, Putin ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian forces in Syria and the following day a cease-fire was agreed to with Iran and Turkey. The cease-fire appears to be holding up and the U.N. Security Council unanimously backed the draft resolution in support of the deal. Russia, however, still has significant firepower in Syria including surface to air missiles.

RELATED:  Syria Anti-Govt Groups Halt Talks over Alleged Truce Violation

Putin said that the cease-fire would be an opportunity to bring an end to the devastating conflict which has raged since March 2011. Fighting has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to U.N. estimates, and has displaced millions, fueling a refugee crisis as refugees flee neighboring countries and Europe.

Viktor Ozerov, Russia’s head of the parliamentary Federation Council’s Committee for Security and Defense, said that the start of the withdrawal “is an act of Russia’s good will within the framework of the cease-fire regime.”

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At Least 4 Killed, 700 Arrested in Mexico Gas Protests

  • Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 5, 2017.
    Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 5, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
Mexicans continue to rage against the president’s neoliberal reforms and high gas prices.

Protests over a double-digit hike in gasoline prices in Mexico continue in at least 22 states of the country, officials said on Friday, as they confirmed that the wave of violent lootings and blockades has left three people dead and at least 700 arrested.

RELATED: Gasoline Hikes Lead to Food Shortages in Mexico

Business leaders estimate that some 1,000 shops and companies have been looted or vandalized this week as others closed over fears of being robbed.

Protesters argue that the government’s decision to raise fuel prices by up to 20 percent has no justification in an oil-rich country, but the government insists that the move responds to international prices and not a result of the government’s neoliberal reforms.

On Thursday night President Enrique Peña Nieto used a nationally televised New Year’s address to defend the increase, again.

“It is a difficult change, but as president, it is precisely my responsibility to take difficult decisions in the present to avoid major problems in the future,” said Peña Nieto, whose approval rating has fallen below 23 percent.

The unpopular leader said that keeping the same prices would have cost the government US$9.3 billion, forcing the suspension of health care and welfare programs.

“I ask you, what would you have done?” he said.

While acknowledging the widespread anger, Peña Nieto said he would forge ahead with the liberalized or deregulated price scheme, which removes fuel subsidies and allow gasoline prices to be determined by prevailing international prices.

Meanwhile, the state-run oil company PEMEX has denounced blockades on roads that give access to fuel storage terminals and has warned that if the situation continues it could trigger a crisis of shortages and aggravate the problem.

RELATED: Mexico Plunges into Fresh Crisis as Fury Swells over Gas Prices

Some have speculated that the looting and vandalism has been led by allegedly “infiltrated” groups, in a move that staunch critics of Peña Nieto’s administration claim is intended to create chaos in the country and undermine social protests, setting the basis for the targeting of activists as criminals.

The increases, which applied to both gasoline and diesel, will subsequently raise food, transportation and other costs, analysts warn.

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2017: A Centenary Like No Other

posted by Morning Star in Features

Russian Revolution Centenary Committee co-chair RALPH GIBSON reports on the many unique events lined up to mark the revolution in the coming months

IT’S already clear that the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution has captured the interest and imagination of a vast range of organisations and institutions across Britain.

The momentum is only likely to increase as the year progresses towards the key date of November 7, or October 25 according to the Julian calendar used in Russia at that time — hence the “Great October Socialist Revolution.”

The Russian Revolution Centenary Committee (RRCC) continues to draw in individuals and organisations planning to mark this epoch-changing event, as well as working on its own major one-day celebration on November 4 at Congress House in central London.

At its press launch last month, the RRCC welcomed Cuban ambassador HE Teresita Vicente, who spoke about the revolution’s decisive role in the evolution of ideas and movements which led to the creation of a socialist Cuba.

She noted the vital role played by the USSR in the continued existence of socialism on the island in the face of massive opposition from the United States and the forces of capitalism. And she was in no doubt about the positive impact of the revolution across the Caribbean and Latin America.

Though they may not interpret the results of the revolution in such positive terms, its significance can be seen in the attention the centenary will receive at some of Britain’s major London-based institutions.

The Royal Academy begins the year with Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 (February 11-April 17), while the Design Museum follows with Imagine Moscow (March 15-June 3).

The British Library’s contribution Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths runs from April 27 to August 29, while Tate Modern ends the year with Red Star Over Russia which runs from November 8 until February 18 2018.

A series of major arts events in Wales next year, involving the Welsh National Opera and the National Museum of Wales, have also been announced.

But the focus of the RRCC is on facilitating the exchange of ideas, information and support among smaller, less well-resourced organisations. The committee aims not only to mark the anniversary but also to inform debate about the Russian Revolution’s continued relevance to politics and society today.

Co-founded by the Marx Memorial Library and Workers’ School (MML) and the Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS), it brings together a broad-based coalition of labour movement, heritage and cultural organisations, including the Morning Star.

The MML is working on a touring exhibition which explores the context of the revolution in the first world war and its impact on Britain.

The SCRSS is planning a seminar which will draw together historians and academics from Russia and this country and will also be putting on an exhibition drawn from its extensive archives and collections.

Other ideas emerging are the possibility of recreating the choir of the Communist Club, rehearsed readings of early Soviet plays, performances of early Soviet chamber or orchestral music and screenings of classics of the early Soviet cinema.

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New McCarthyism Targets Trump


Image result for trump cartoons

When President Obama expelled Russian diplomats over the hysterical and unproven accusation of Russia “hacking the election,” Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to be drawn into a petty squabble, saying he would delay any response until Donald Trump assumed office. Instead Putin invited American diplomats and their families in Moscow to join the official holiday celebrations in the Kremlin.

Then came the shock that shook Official Washington: President-elect Trump, in the form of a tweet heard round the world, wrote: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”

And just to be sure that everyone saw it, Trump “pinned” the tweet which means it is the first thing seen by viewers of his account. This was a first use of “pinning” for Trump. And to be doubly sure, he posted it on Instagram as well. This was no spontaneous midnight outburst but a very deliberate action taken on Friday noon, Dec. 30, the day after Obama had issued his retaliation order.

The implications of this move are, arguably, breathtaking. Trump treated Putin as his ally, not as a hated adversary. And he treated Obama and the bipartisan foreign policy elite of Washington as his adversaries, not his allies – a move that makes perfect sense if Trump’s desire is to rein in the War Party’s New Cold War and to strive for a New Détente with Russia.

If the main enemy is those who are stoking the New Cold War and risking worse, then Trump has placed himself squarely against these war hawks. And stop to consider for a moment who these folks are. Besides President Obama and Hillary Clinton, they represent a full-blown armchair army: neocons, liberal interventionists, the mainstream media, various Soros-funded “non-governmental organizations,” virtually all the important think tanks, the leadership of both major parties, and the CIA and the other U.S. intelligence agencies. This array of Official Washington’s power elite has been working 24/7 at demonizing Putin and stoking tensions with nuclear-armed Russia. Trump took on all of them on with his tweet!

Putin as Ally Against the War Party

As Trump looks for new allies in pursuit of a New Détente and a relaxation of U.S.-Russian tensions, Putin is foremost among them. Thus, in the struggle for peace, Trump has drawn new lines, and they cross national borders. Not since Ronald Reagan embraced Mikhail Gorbachev or Richard Nixon went to China have we seen a development like this. In this new battle to reduce tensions between nuclear powers, Trump has shown considerable courage, taking on a wide range of attackers.

Later that afternoon, Maya Kosoff writing for Vanity Fair put out an article entitled “Twitter Melts Down over ‘Treason’ After Trump Praises Putin.” The first batch of such tweets came from “journalists and other foreign policy experts,” the next from Evan McMullin, the former CIA officer who tried to draw off Republican votes from Trump in the general election, who tweeted: “To be clear, @realDonaldTrump is siding with America’s greatest adversary even as it attacks our democracy. Never grow desensitized to this.”

Finally came the predictable rash of tweets calling Trump’s words “treasonous” or “seditious.” In response, Team Trump refused to issue a “clarification,” saying instead that Trump’s words spoke for themselves.

As stunning as Trump’s tweet was in many ways, it was in other ways entirely predictable. Despite the mainstream media’s scorn and Hillary Clinton’s mocking him as Putin’s “puppet,” Trump has held firm to his promise that he will seek peace with Russia and look for areas of cooperation such as fighting terrorism.

So, even when Trump’s Russia comments appeared to cost him politically, he stuck with them, suggesting that he believes that this détente is important. The rule of thumb is that if a politician says something that will win votes, you do not know whether it is conviction or opportunism. But if a politician says something that should lose her or him votes, then you can bet it is heartfelt.

Trump was bashed over his resistance to the New Cold War both during the Republican primaries when many GOP leaders were extremely hawkish on Russia and during the general election when the Clinton campaign sought to paint him as some sort of Manchurian Candidate. Even his vice presidential candidate Mike Pence staked out a more hawkish position than Trump.

Trump stood by his more dovish attitude though it presented few electoral advantages and many negatives. By that test, he appears to be sincere. So, his latest opening to Putin was entirely predictable.

A Choice of Peace or War

What is troubling, however, is that some Americans who favor peace hate Trump so much that they recoil from speaking out in his defense over his “treasonous” tweet though they may privately agree with it. Some progressives are uncomfortable with the mainstream’s descent into crude McCarthyism but don’t want to say anything favorable about Trump.

After all, a vote for President is either thumbs up or thumbs down – nothing in between – though voters may like or dislike some policy prescriptions of one candidate and other positions of another candidate. And progressives could list many reasons to not vote for Trump.

But a presidential administration is multi-issued – not all or none. One can disagree with a president on some issues and agree on others. For instance, many progressives are outraged over Trump’s harsh immigration policies but agree with him on scrapping the TPP trade deal.

In other words, there is no reason why those who claim to be for peace should not back Trump on his more peaceful approach toward Putin and Russia, even if they disdain his tough talk about fighting terrorism. That is the reality of politics.

What I’ve discovered is that many progressives – as well as many on the Right – who oppose endless war and disdain empire will tell you in whispers that they do support Trump’s attempt at Détente 2.0, though they doubt he will succeed. In the meantime, they are keeping their heads down and staying quiet.

But clearly Trump’s success depends on how much support he gets – as weighed against how much grief he gets. By lacking the courage to defend Trump’s “treasonous tweet,” those who want to rein in the warmongers may be missing a rare opportunity. If those who agree with Trump on this issue stay silent, it may be a lost opportunity as well.

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US House Shamelessly Grovels to I$raHell… AGAIN


Image result for ZIONIST US House CARTOON

US House Shamelessly Grovels to Israel… AGAIN
By Greg Bacon

Yesterday, January 5, the US House put on a shameful display of groveling to Israel, a display even more noxious than their usual butt-kissing of the world’s #1 terror state, Israel, voting to pass HR 11.

The House measure, which is non-binding, calls for the UN resolution “to be repealed or fundamentally altered so that… it is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel” and allows all final status issues toward a two-state solution to be resolved through direct bilateral negotiation.

It also demands that the United States ensures that no action be taken at the Paris Conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict scheduled for January 15, that would impose an agreement on the two sides.

One after another House poodle scurried to the podium and swore their love and allegiance to Israel. The ass-kissing was on an industrial scale, all due to the UN asking Israel to stop stealing Palestinian land. One, Dana Rohrabacher from California, was so incensed that the UN dare to ask Israel to obey international law and some treaties that he must of went to the ER afterwards, to get his lips set into a cast.

It was the House’s first full official day of business. You’d think they might talk about our collapsing infrastructure or the vet suicide problem, created largely from fighting endless wars for Israel, or address the flagging economy, but no, the House did its Master’s bidding.

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Chilean MPs to demand UK apology for Balfour Declaration


Image result for Balfour Declaration CARTOON

Palestine Information Center

SANTIAGO – A number of pro-Palestinian Chilean MPs are preparing for an international campaign starting from the Chilean capital, Santiago that calls on the United Kingdom to apologize to the Palestinian people for the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the establishment of Israel on the land of Palestine in 1948.

Chilean deputies from the parliament affirmed that the vast majority of the political spectrum in Chile advocates the Palestinian cause.

The deputy of the Christian Democratic party, Fuad Shahin, said in an interview with the Quds Press news agency that half of the deputies of the Chilean parliament support the Palestinian issue and back the UN anti-settlement resolution. They also push to stop importing goods form the Israeli settlements, and expedite the approval of the two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 territories.

George Sbakh, MP of the Christian Democratic party, told the Quds Press that the supporters of Palestine are not only in the parliament, but also in all Chilean official institutions, and they don’t face major challenges since supporting Palestine is common among Chilean people. Besides, pro-Israel activists in the Chilean parliament and government don’t pose any danger, he added.

A number of pro-Palestinian Chilean MPs received on Thursday a delegate of Palestinian notables in Europe accompanied by Palestinian journalists. Their visit to Chile comes as a part of activities seeking to shed light on the Palestinians of Chile who make up the largest percentage of Palestinian refugees in Latin American countries.

A group of Chilean MPs are preparing to launch a campaign demanding Britain to apologize to the Palestinian people for the Balfour Declaration on its centennial anniversary. They are also working to unify the endeavors of the pro-Palestinian parliamentarians in Latin America.

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Very Powerful People in the U.S. Government Want War – This is Their Sales Pitch


Image result for U.S. Government CARTOON

By Michael Krieger 

From the post: Who Benefits from War with Russia?

The rising hysteria about Russia is best understood as fulfilling two needs for Official Washington: the Military Industrial Complex’s transitioning from the “war on terror” to a more lucrative “new cold war” – and blunting the threat that a President Trump poses to the neoconservative/liberal-interventionist foreign-policy establishment.

By hyping the Russian “threat,” the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks, who include much of the mainstream U.S. news media, can guarantee bigger military budgets from Congress. The hype also sets in motion a blocking maneuver to impinge on any significant change in direction for U.S. foreign policy under Trump.

After spending some time watching the recently concluded intelligence briefing to the U.S. Senate, I’ve concluded it to be one of the most disturbing and ominous things I can remember. I have several takeaways from what I saw, and none of them are good. […]

One of the main reasons I opposed Hillary Clinton so vehemently, was I felt she embodied the neocon, neoliberal, military-intelligence-indsutrial complex’s burning desire for a global confrontation with Russia, as well as continued disastrous imperial adventures all over the world. Many of us hoped that with her loss, cooler heads would prevail and the American public might receive a much needed respite from never-ending war. This has not happened.

If anything, those in the Hillary camp have become even more aggressive and unhinged in their bloodlust, and appear willing to do “whatever it takes” to start a fight that will result in unimaginable devastation for the American public. This has become such an overwhelming concern to me, I felt the need to discuss what those of us who wish to avoid this outcome must do.

First, we need to understand the motivation of those driving us in this disastrous direction. Their primary motivation is pretty simple, a desire to retain power and status. They can see the writing on the wall when it comes to the disintegration of status quo authority and credibility, and they fundamentally understand the need to focus on an outside enemy in order to distract attention away from internal failures. Second, we need to understand where we are in the war-creating process. We must acknowledge that very powerful interests have already decided they want this war. To them, this isn’t about weighing facts and being reasonable, they’ve already made up their minds. As such, we are currently in the sales process.

Right at this very moment, we are being sold on this war by the media, politicians, intelligence agencies, as well as various other vested interests who benefit from imperial dominance abroad (unlike the vast majority of us who are severely harmed by it). When you understand that this is simply a huge sales pitch to herd the American public like sheep into a conflict that is not in their best interests, then everything you see and hear around you starts to make sense.

Just in case you doubt my theory that certain people have already decided they want this war, watch the following diatribe by neocon chickenhawk Lindsey “I never saw a war I didn’t like” Graham.

The only thing more disturbing than Graham’s endless rock-throwing lust, is what Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said at the end of it: “I find myself in complete agreement with what he just said, and I appreciate it.” The lunatics are indeed running the asylum.

This is very important. James Clapper admits he wants to throw rocks at Russia. Why? Because in his opinion, Russia provided genuine information to Wikileaks which was embarrassing to the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton lost an election. Let’s just assume for a second that U.S. intelligence does have proof that Putin ran the operation and sent it to Wikileaks for the expressed purpose of helping Trump. If that can be proven, I absolutely think it is meaningful information, and I think the American people should be aware of it. However, would I be willing to get into a war with Russia over it? Certainly not. Would most Americans? I doubt it. To summarize, the American people don’t want war, but many D.C. politicians and special interests do. This divergence makes the situation all the more dangerous.

We need to understand that those who want this war will be absolutely relentless. The sales pitch will not end until they get exactly what they want. This is where all of us critical thinkers need to play a key role. We must be prepared to diligently analyze all unsubstantiated official claims, and push back against the war-mongers, because we know for certain the oligarch-owned corporate media won’t. We must be prepared to inform our fellow citizens about what’s happening so that we don’t fall victim to a cheap sales pitch with devastating consequences. Unfortunately, we must also be prepared for a possible deep state false flag if the current sales tactic falls on deaf ears. … Full article

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