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Anatomy of American Propaganda – all it takes is a name

The American public is so well insulated from receiving effective and honest news about anything Russia that they believe whatever the media wants them to believe

Seraphim Hanisch

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Please do not misunderstand. My personal regard for Fox News is actually the highest among American mainstream media outlets. To their great credit, they have been very fair to candidate and now President Donald Trump, and they usually demonstrate a good level of proficiency in outlining the news from a conservative point of view, as long as it is regarding domestic policy.

But when it comes to reporting on the rest of the world, it’s a crapshoot. And, further, if they report on Russia, or President Vladimir Putin in particular, this venerable network either caves to, or actually believes, a very incorrect set of rhetoric, and the American people easily buy into it, all through the use of a very simple tool. Before I explain more, let’s have a read at this piece about the upcoming Russian Presidential Election to take place Sunday, March 18th. This is obviously about candidate / President Putin, and for brevity’s sake I have removed what I considered to be not strictly needed to make my own point. However, please feel free to follow this link to read the whole piece. It will help check my own angle for inappropriate bias:

The upcoming Russian presidential elections are critical to President Vladimir Putin. It seems odd to say that when their outcome is not in question (spoiler alert: Putin will win).  But even so, they matter a lot—and thus should matter a lot to us too. 

The scale of his victory, the number and demographics of Russians who vote, and how rigged the results are perceived to be, are all vital to Putin’s continued stability and power. For one thing, Putin needs broad electoral support either to change the rules so he can remain in power indefinitely or secure another way to exist safely at the end of his term. He will not be able to run for president again in 2024 under the current constitution of the Russian Federation..

Of course, Russians have no real choice in this election anyway, as the Kremlin has prevented viable opposition candidates from participating. But just winning isn’t enough for Putin. He must obtain the same level of popular support he had in the last election, if not more. A diminished margin in his inevitable victory or the perception that he has had to cheat badly to put up a good front could undermine his control.

By “viable candidates” the author of this piece is referring to Alexey Navalny. Mr. Navalny was ruled ineligible to run for President because of felony convictions he has. This is a cause that he disputes, but it should also be noted that this activist and lawyer ran for the office of Mayor of Moscow as well, and lost, getting 27% of the vote to Sergey Sobyanin’s 51%. It should further be noted that Mr. Sobyanin, while a Putin pick, is that way for a reason – he is an incredible administrator. Moscow has been undergoing modernization and revitalization in amazing ways, and it is extremely obvious that effective leadership is in action here. (I live in Moscow, so I see everything that happens here.)

But back to our piece:

Another issue is the mass psychology of his strongman rule. Most Russians think most Russians support Putin. His own apparatus supports him in part because it believes that the Russian population broadly supports him. Putin cannot allow that belief to be undermined. 

Surprisingly, Putin also cares about the perceived legitimacy of the elections. Democracy remains central to Putin’s stated political self-definition, and core to his ideology despite the ongoing propaganda campaign against the failures of Western democracies. 

The irony is that most Russians would likely choose Putin anyway, despite recognizing the regime’s policy failures and limitations on their civil liberties. 

Many perceive Putin as a guarantor of Russia’s economic stability and national pride. The majority of Russians remember the horrific 1990s—a period of brutal poverty, weak government, social degradation, and political uncertainty.

There are no expressed limitations on civil liberties that I have ever specifically heard detailed while here in Russia. Freedom of speech is a very valued right here, and I hear plenty of cynicism but no talk of “he’s oppressing us!!” whatsoever.

Historically, Russians have often been willing to surrender civil liberties if doing so ensures that they will not return to instability. This phenomenon is common in many post-dictatorial states when failing economic policies push their populations back toward authoritarian regimes.

This is a pure piece of propaganda that succeeds with Americans who only remember the Soviet Union’s shadow of oppression under Communism. Most American people have no idea what the country is like now, and they would be surprised to learn that there is no issue with anything our writer has said just above.

Putin also intensifies and then fills the need for the assertion of Russian national identity. His propaganda machine plays up Russia’s humiliations of the 1990s and its historical greatness. Putin provides a source of national pride, especially to older generations, through military adventures that “eradicate terrorism” in Syria and Ukraine, fight “Western hypocrisy,” and strengthen Russian military forces.

This is, in my estimation, a mixture of truth and falsehood. What is certainly true is the assertion of Russian national identity is very strong. In contrast to the “America is guilty” rhetoric of the Obama years, and in comparison to the time of great national pride in the US that existed through the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, national pride is a unifying and galvanizing force in Russia, and it is quite an honest phenomenon. To see this country rebuilding itself with such quiet determination and success is really amazing. As for the matters regarding Syria, Russia is following international law, right or wrong, Syria called for their aid. The Americans are there illegally. The Syrians never wanted them, and the American alliance with al-Qaeda affiliated groups is one of the most amazing examples of hypocrisy in American history. Anyone who lived through 9/11 would be outraged to know this.

Many Russians view Ukraine, for example, as chaotic and sliding back into 1990s-era poverty for no clear benefit. Nearly two decades of propaganda narratives about U.S. failures of democracy in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan also feed this perception.

Ukraine HAS slid back into poverty. The country’s money is almost worthless. Even the BBC notes the severity of the situation. And although this report dates from 2014, recent personal reports about life there do not show much progress… unless you are a politician where you are corrupt and go on lavish trips or build palaces for yourself (both sides played equally badly in this one, and it has not stopped.)

Many young people in Russia do not remember the 1990s and are not sold on Putin’s “stability and pride” pitch. The overall economic situation, while not as dire as the ‘90s, is on a negative trajectory.

Totally and completely incorrect. Sorry, this is not my opinion. It is the assessment of the World Bank. The Russian economy is growing and it is quite stable. Inflation has been brought to only about 4.5%, to begin with…

Moreover, international sanctions, hiked again after Russian meddling in U.S. elections, target Putin’s innermost circle of supporters and are having negative economic effects on foreign investment. Consequently, a significant number of Russians question whether the high economic and human toll of Putin’s foreign adventures is justified.

And again the tiresome election meddling story. This Florida lady says the best response I have seen to that old story:

So there is the bulk of the piece. So, what sells so many Americans on the veracity of this writer’s opinion?

Her name.

Nataliya Bugayova. Good Slavic name, therefore she is an expert on Russia. This is not very rational, though, considering the rest of the data about her, given by Fox News:

Nataliya Bugayova is Development Director at the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War, where she studies Russia’s global impact. She was previously Chief Executive Officer of the Kyiv Post and served in the government of Ukraine following the democratic revolution of 2014.

So, our writer is associated with Washington DC, and served on a Kyivan newspaper in Ukraine, AS WELL as the government of Ukraine following the EuroMaidan. She has a bias.

Now, there is nothing wrong with her writing a piece where she can express what she wishes. And to Fox News’ credit, it IS termed an “opinion” piece. But there is certainly no evident piece in support of Mr. Putin, or that gives a view of Russia that is from inside the country, and is supported by multiple discussions about life with many people who are citizens.

An ideally intellectually honest American media outlet ought to have such a side taken. Fox News used to have a great moniker: “We report. You decide.”

But here, the network does not live up to that, and it is a shame.

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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Five Saudis Face Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing; Crown Prince Cleared

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”

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Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia public prosecutor Sheikh Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the kingdom will seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 11 charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirming suspicions that members of the murder squad purportedly sent to “interrogate” Khashoggi will now themselves face beheadings as the Saudi Royal Family closes ranks around the Crown Prince, per the FT.

As for Mohammed bin Salman who runs the day to day affairs of the world’s top oil exporter and is the de facto head of OPEC, the prosecutor said had “no knowledge” of the mission, effectively absolving him of any domestic suspicion, if not international.

The charges were handed down after the kingdom dismissed five senior intelligence officers and arrested 18 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents that would have allowed him to marry his fiance. Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia.

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime,” according to CNN.

The prosecutor said that the former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, ordered a mission to force Khashoggi to go back to Saudi Arabia and formed a team of 15 people.

They were divided into three groups, the Saudi Public Prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

It was the head of the negotiating team who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, the prosecutor said.

The Saudis stuck by latest (ever changing) narrative that the Washington Post columnist was killed after a mission to abduct him went awry. The deputy chief of intelligence ordered that Khashoggi be brought back to the kingdom, Shaalan said. The team killed him after the talks failed and his body was handed to a “collaborator” in Turkey, he said.

Asked whether Saud al-Qahtanti, an aide to Prince Mohammed, had any role in the case, Shaalan said that a royal adviser had a coordinating role and had provided information. The former adviser was now under investigation, the prosecutor said, declining to reveal the names of any of those facing charges.

Al-Shaalan did reveal that a total of 21 suspects are now being held in connection with the case. Notably, the decision to charge the 5 comes after National Security Advisor John Bolton repudiated reports that a recording of Khashoggi’s murder made by Turkish authorities suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was behind the murder plot.

But as long as OPEC+ is planning to do “whatever it takes” to boost oil prices, the US’s willingness to give the Saudis a pass could always be tested if crude prices again turn sharply higher.

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U.S. May Impose Sanctions Against Turkey Over S-400 “Threat” To F-35

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

The Duran

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Authored by Al Masdar News:


Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted that Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian air defense system poses no threat whatsoever to the NATO alliance. Last month, the Turkish defense ministry announced that delivery of S-400s to Turkey would begin in October 2019.

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform, and may impose sanctions against Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has reported, citing a high-ranking source in Washington.

“I can’t say for certain whether sanctions will be imposed on Ankara over the S-400 contract, but the possibility is there. The US administration is not optimistic about this issue,” the source said.

While admitting that Turkey was a sovereign state and therefore had the right to make decisions on whom it buys its weapons from, the source stressed that from the perspective of these weapons’ integration with NATO systems, the S-400 was “problematic.”

The source also characterized the deployment of S-400s in areas where US F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters are set to fly as “a threat,” without elaborating.

Emphasizing that negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the issue were “continuing,” the source said that there were also “positive tendencies” in negotiations between the two countries on the procurement of the Patriot system, Washington’s closest analogue to the S-400 in terms of capabilities.

Designed to stop enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and altitudes of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defense system in Russia’s arsenal. Russia and India signed a ruble-denominated contract on the delivery of five regiments of S-400s worth $5 billion late last month.

Last week, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said that talks on the sale of the system to his country were ongoing. In addition to Russia, S-400s are presently operated by Belarus and China, with Beijing expecting another delivery of S-400s by 2020.

Washington has already slapped China with sanctions over its purchase of S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in September. India, however, has voiced confidence that it would not be hit with similar restrictions, which the US Treasury has pursued under the 2017 Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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