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CONFIRMED: The west continues to seek Russia’s destruction although Trump tried his best to shift this

Donald Trump has not only the weight of the American elite on his shoulders, he has the weight of western history on his shoulders. Donald Trump’s pragmatic world-view translating into tangible foreign policy was almost an impossible task. It is proving to be increasingly impossible by the day, but at least he tried. This in and of itself, deserves some commendation.

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It is now clear that one man, even if that one man happens to be the President of the United States, cannot change the overall trajectory of western aggression against Russia. With the near-ancient exception of Mongolia and the more modern exception of Ottoman Turkey, all of the main foes and aggressors against Russia have been from the west and Europe in particular.

The young United States had little meaningful interaction with Russia except for a treaty of understanding in 1832 and the Alaska Purchase in 1867. However, in 1911, the United States decided to rescind its end of the 1832 treaty.

From there on, the tread became one of increased hostility. In 1917, under the radar of the newspapers, many Wall Street tycoons helped to finance the Bolsheviks in both the run-up and aftermath of the October Revolution.  The aim was several-fold. Some in the US simply wanted to weaken a powerful potential rival by fomenting revolution, others were oddly sympathetic to Communism in spite of their position in a world centre of capitalism and others yet bought into the Russian versus Jewish narrative.

After the Revolution the US government gradually turned anti-Soviet when the so-called ‘Red Scare’ made many think that Communism would ‘spread’ to the United States. The reality for much of the political class however was simply that while many in the US and UK had hoped the October Revolution would destroy Russia, the Soviet Union gradually became a new mighty world power which would soon challenge the hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon powers.

Old hatreds were redefined through the prism of Communism and the west’s traditional hatred of Orthodox Russia was simply re-configured in opposition to the Soviet Union.

Prior to must people in the United States thinking Donald Trump had a real chance to win the election, I wrote the following in The Duran:

“Although Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov often speak of western governments as ‘partners’, there is more than a tinge of unintentional (at times not so unintentional) sarcasm to such remarks.

In spite of any wishful thinking that a united front could be forged against a merciless Islamic terrorist enemy which threatens civilisations of the east and west equally, the opposite is happening. The West is using the conflicts in Syria and beyond to do what they have always tried to do to a strong and sovereign Russia; destroy it. Here are just a few examples from modern history.

In the 19th century as Russia grew ever stronger and her regional rival Ottoman Turkey grew ever weaker.  The great Western powers of France and Britain, time and again directly and indirectly, aided the Ottomans.

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The Crimean War, fought between 1853 and 1856 was a particularly low point in Western-Russia relations. The war was an ugly war, the purpose of which many in Britain and France couldn’t entirely grasp.

Even late Victorian Conservative governments in Britain which themselves tended to favour Ottoman Turkey over Russia at a diplomatic level, came to see the Crimean War as something of a disaster (even after a putative victory) which helped inspire the late 19th century politics of ‘splendid isolation’ from European and Middle Eastern conflicts.

In spite of this, Anglo-Afghan Wars persisted throughout the remainder of the century as supposed proxy conflicts in which Britain acted out of a fear that Russia would try to use Afghanistan as a pivoting point through which to gain influence in British India.

Like many anti-Russian theories over the years, British academic Lord Blake dismissed such fears as fanciful in his 1966 biography of Benjamin Disraeli.

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Yet it was this anti-Russian hysteria which led Britain to force Bismarck (who wisely stayed out of the anti-Russian fray) to hold the Berlin Congress of 1878 to revise the Treaty of San Stefano which had rewarded Russia for her victory against Turkey in a war which had ended that same year. Even British Foreign Secretary Lord Salisbury however admitted that ‘we had backed the wrong side’.

If Imperial Russia under Tsar Alexander III was a power that was feared and respected abroad, even by Russia’s enemies, then under the softer and less competent Nicholas II the fangs of Russia’s western enemies were bared.

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Here begins a grim tale, one of whose authors is a little known man called Jacob Schiff.

Schiff was the head of the New York based investment firm Kuhn, Loeb and Company. The firm had handsomely financed Japan in her Western backed naval war against Russia, which resulted in a Japanese victory in 1905. This had the effect of inspiring the Russian Revolution of 1905 which weakened the Tsar’s authority.

Called a ‘reformist revolution’ by some, in reality it was a preview of what was to come in 1917.

The idealised tale of a home grown Marxist insurrection in October of 1917 is one of the great myths of history.

The Revolution certainly did have domestic supporters, fighters and true believers.  However it was ultimately financed by foreign funds and led by those who had fomented revolution from outside of Russia’s borders.

In 1916 Trotsky was living in exile in New York. It is claimed that it was there that Trotsky developed a relationship with Schiff, a man Trotsky allegedly referred to as Dr. M in his autobiography My Life.

Schiff’s relationship with Trotsky was clarified by Schiff’s grandson who in 1949 said that the elder Schiff had contributed $20 million towards the Bolshevik cause.

In the latter half of the 20th century US Senator Barry Goldwater helped expose the depths to which Wall Street stooped to help put the Bolsheviks into power. The men who did so were an awkward alliance of hard-line communist supporters aided and funded by those who sought to weaken and destabilise the Russian state, making Russia rife for exploitation.

But it was not just America. White Russian General Arsene de Goulevitch  reported that even before 1917, famed British Imperialist Alfred Lord Milner had given Trotsky as much as 10 million roubles to be paid  back upon the overthrow of the Tsar. De Goulevitch added that the money was filtered by Lord Milner to Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador to Moscow who then handed the funds to the Bolsheviks.

It is of course well known that Vladimir Lenin was privately shipped to Moscow by the German state in order to weaken Russia’s war effort in the First World War.

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It is also well known that Yakov Sverdlov, a member of The All-Russian Central Executive Committee, was the brother of a prominent New York banker. Upon Sverdlov’s death, his personal safe was filled with gold. This again speaks to the foreign influence on the Revolution.

Once the Soviet Regime became strong and no longer dependent on foreign money, the West spoke of ‘Red Scares’ and the need to fight Communism. However, the pitifully half-hearted Western aid to the White forces during the Civil War is testament to the fact that for the West it was never about Tsarist versus Communist ideology, it was about weakening Russia, whatever government Russia might have.

After the illegal dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West again set their eyes on dismembering what was left of the Russian state. Corrupt businessmen (many of whom were known as bandits and crooks in their own countries) and so-called NGOs flooded into Russia.

George Soros and his Soros foundation helped set the stage for the financial collapse of 1998 which had brought any tentative recovery to its knees. Incidentally, the Soros foundation was banned from Russia in 2015 under President Putin.

But what is the moral of this story? How do all of these historical instances relate?

They demonstrate a clear pattern of the Western powers using both military and financial pressure to help weaken the Russian state.

Much of it relates to the theories of English academic Sir Halford John MacKinder whose article The Geographical Pivot of History, described Russian territory as a ‘pivot area’ which Western powers must control in order to more easily dominate the Orient. Although anti-Russian sentiments in the West preceded the 1904 publication of MacKinder’s work, his theory proved influential on many, including Adolf Hitler.

Whilst in 1812-1814, and again in 1941-1945, the West came to rely on Russia to contain Western powers who had taken things too far, the truth of the matter is, there is a long history of the West seeing Russia as a monolith to destroy rather than a co-equal in a kind of ‘concert of civilisation”.

Against this background it becomes clear that Donald Trump had the weight of western history on his shoulders. He had to contend with the proclivities of some Catholics and Protestants who remain hateful of Orthodox powers , he had to contend with a British and French imperialist mindset from the 19th century that has re-located across the Atlantic, he had to contend with latent Russia versus Jewish narrative that still holds sway in some parts of the west, he had to contend with the atheist ultra-left who always hated Russia’s conservative Christian traditions and has had to content with the geo-strategic thinking of just about everyone in Washington who are hell-bent in subduing Asia using Russia as MacKinder’s ‘pivot area’.

Against this tide came a seemingly pragmatic Donald Trump who in a more innocent American style said something akin to ‘this world is big enough for the both of us’. It was an idea that Russia and America could co-exist with unique geo-strategic positions without coming to blows. It was an idea for which the entire US political and media establishment have used to try to remove Trump from power and barring that, they are trying to disgrace and weaken the office of President itself, making this POTUS and possibly his successors, increasingly dependent on Congress.

Donald Trump still has time to try and fight for his power and reputation domestically and he still indeed his time to assert his pragmatic world-view into US foreign policy making. The fact is that the road for Trump is long and it may be impossible in the end, not least because however powerless Trump is over Russia, he is even more powerless to stop the US deep states ambitions towards Iran and China, to increasingly important partners for Russia.

At least he tried.

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It’s Official: ‘Britain’s Democracy Now At Risk’

It’s not just campaigners saying it any more: democracy is officially at risk, according to parliament’s own digital, culture, media and sport committee.

The Duran

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Via True Publica, authored by Jessica Garland – Electoral Reform Society:


Britain’s main campaign rules were drawn up in the late 1990s, before social media and online campaigning really existed. This has left the door wide open to disinformation, dodgy donations and foreign interference in elections.

There is a real need to close the loopholes when it comes to the online Wild West.

Yet in this year’s elections, it was legitimate voters who were asked to identify themselves, not those funnelling millions into political campaigns through trusts, or those spreading fake news.

The government trialled mandatory voter ID in five council areas in May. In these five pilot areas alone about 350 people were turned away from polling stations for not having their papers with them — and they didn’t return. In other words, they were denied their vote.

Yet last year, out of more than 45 million votes cast across the country, there were just 28 allegations of personation (pretending to be someone else at the polling station), the type of fraud voter ID is meant to tackle.

Despite the loss of 350 votes, the pilots were branded a success by the government. Yet the 28 allegations of fraud (and just one conviction) are considered such a dire threat that the government is willing to risk disenfranchising many more legitimate voters to try to address it. The numbers simply don’t add up.

Indeed, the fact-checking website FullFact noted that in the Gosport pilot, 0.4 per cent of voters did not vote because of ID issues. That’s a greater percentage than the winning margin in at least 14 constituencies in the last election. Putting up barriers to democratic engagement can have a big impact. In fact, it can swing an election.

In the run-up to the pilots, the Electoral Reform Society and other campaigners warned that the policy risked disenfranchising the most marginalised groups in society.

The Windrush scandal highlights exactly the sort of problems that introducing stricter forms of identity could cause: millions of people lack the required documentation. It’s one of the reasons why organisations such as the Runnymede Trust are concerned about these plans.

The Electoral Commission has now published a report on the ID trials, which concludes that “there is not yet enough evidence to fully address concerns” on this front.

The small number of pilots, and a lack of diversity, meant that sample sizes were too small to conclude anything about how the scheme would affect various demographic groups. Nor can the pilots tell us about the likely impact of voter ID in a general election, where the strain on polling staff would be far greater and a much broader cross-section of electors turns out to vote.

The Electoral Reform Society, alongside 22 organisations, campaigners and academics, has now called on the constitution minister to halt moves to impose this policy. The signatories span a huge cross-section of society, including representatives of groups that could be disproportionately impacted by voter ID, from Age UK to Liberty and from the British Youth Council to the Salvation Army and the LGBT Foundation.

Voters know what our democratic priorities should be: ensuring that elections are free from the influence of big donors. Having a secure electoral register. Providing balanced media coverage. Transparency online.

We may be little wiser as a result of the government’s voter ID trials. Yet we do know where the real dangers lie in our politics.

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Corrupt Robert Mueller’s despicable Paul Manafort trial nears end (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 79.

Alex Christoforou

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Paul Manafort’s legal team rested its case on Tuesday without calling a single witness. This sets the stage for closing arguments before the judge hands the case to jurors for a verdict.

Manafort’s defense opted to call no witnesses, choosing instead to rely on the team’s cross-examination of government witnesses including a very devious Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime deputy, and several accountants, bookkeepers and bankers who had financial dealings with Manafort.

Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday. Jurors may begin deliberating shortly after receiving their final instructions from judge Ellis.

Manafort case has nothing to do with Mueller’s ‘Trump-Russia collusion witch-hunt’ as the former DC lobbyist is accused of defrauding banks to secure loans and hiding overseas bank accounts and income from U.S. tax authorities.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a defense motion to acquit Manafort on the charges because prosecutors hadn’t proved their case.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the circus trial of Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and how crooked cop Robert Mueller is using all his power to lean on Manafort, so as to conjure up something illegal against US President Donald Trump.

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Via Zerohedge

Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars made from his work for a Ukrainian political party, then lied to obtain bank loans when cash stopped flowing from the project.

The courtroom was sealed for around two hours Tuesday morning for an unknown reason, reopening around 11:30 a.m. with Manafort arriving around 10 minutes later.

The decision to rest their case without calling any witnesses follows a denial by Judge T.S. Ellis III to acquit Manafort after his lawyers tried to argue that the special counsel had failed to prove its case at the federal trial.

The court session began at approximately 11:45 a.m.:

“Good afternoon,” began defense attorney Richard Westling, who corrected himself and said, “Good morning.”

“I’m as surprised as you are,” Judge Ellis responded.

Ellis then heard brief argument from both sides on the defense’s motion for acquittal, focusing primarily on four counts related to Federal Savings Bank.

Federal Savings Bank was aware of the status of Paul Manafort’s finances,” Westling argued. “They came to the loans with an intent of doing business with Mr. Manafort.”

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye fired back, saying that that even if bank chairman Steve Calk overlooked Manafort’s financial woes, it would still be a crime to submit fraudulent documents to obtain the loans.

“Steve Calk is not the bank,” Asonye argued, adding that while Caulk may have “had a different motive” — a job with the Trump administration — “I’m not really sure there’s evidence he knew the documents were false.”

Ellis sided with prosecutors.

The defense makes a significant argument about materiality, but in the end, I think materiality is an issue for the jury,” he said, adding. “That is true for all the other counts… those are all jury issues.”

Once that exchange was over, Manafort’s team was afforded the opportunity to present their case, to which lead attorney Kevin Downing replied “The defense rests.

Ellis then began to question Manafort to ensure he was aware of the ramifications of that decision, to which the former Trump aide confirmed that he did not wish to take the witness stand.

Manafort, in a dark suit and white shirt, stood at the lectern from which his attorneys have questioned witnesses, staring up at the judge. Ellis told Manafort he had a right to testify, though if he chose not to, the judge would tell jurors to draw no inference from that. – WaPo

Ellis asked Manafort four questions – his amplified voice booming through the courtroom:

Had Manafort discussed the decision with his attorney?

“I have, your honor,” Manafort responded, his voice clear.

Was he satisfied with their advice?

“I am, your honor,” Manafort replied.

Had he decided whether he would testify?

“I have decided,” Manafort said.

“Do you wish to testify?” Ellis finally asked.

“No, sir,” Manafort responded.

And with that, Manafort returned to his seat.

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One more step toward COMPLETE de-dollarization

Over the past several months, sitting here in Moscow, it has become increasingly obvious that while the US Dollar is unquestionably the world’s leading and liquid reserve currency, it comes with an ever increasing high price (of sovereignty and FX) if you are not the USA.

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I have opined and written about the trend towards de-dollarization before, but with the latest US –Turkish spat it has hit the wallets, mattresses and markets of a number of countries, be they aligned with Washington or not. One thing they all have in common was that in this recent era of low cost available money, many happily fed at the US dollar trough.

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This serves as a further albeit loud example to many nations for the need to diversify to an extent away from the greenback, or risk being caught up in its volatile, sudden and unpredictably risky increasingly politicized directions.

The Dollar and the geopolitical winds from Washington are today as never before openly being used as policy, which can be called the “carrot and stick”, a distinctly Pavlovian approach. Sadly, few if any can make out where or what the carrot is in this recent US worldview branding.

Tariffs, sanctions, pressured exchange rates, the Federal Reserve loosening or tightening, trade agreements and laws ignored or simply trashed… there is a lot going on which seems to democratically affect America’s allies as well as those on Washington’s politically popular and dramatic “poo-poo” list.

Just now from a press conference in Turkey, I watched Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov say that through the actions shown by the US, the role of the US dollar as a secure global reserve currency for free trade will diminish as more countries switch to national currencies for international trade.

He clearly spoke for many nations when he said; “It will make more and more countries that are not even affected by US sanctions go away from the dollar and rely on more reliable, contractual partners in terms of currency use.” Putting the situation in a nutshell he went on to say “I have already said this about sanctions: they are illegal, they undermine all principles of global trade and principles approved by UN decisions, under which unilateral measures of economic duress are unlawful.”

Turkey, a long-standing NATO ally and a key line of western defense during the long cold war years fully agreed with his Russian counterpart. The Turkish foreign minister Mr. Cavosoglu openly warned that US sanctions or trade embargoes can and are being unilaterally imposed against any country at any time if they do not toe DC’s political line.

He said at the same press conference; “Today, sanctions are imposed on Turkey, and tomorrow they can be used against any other European state. If the United States wants to maintain respect in the international arena, then it is necessary for it to be respectful of the interests of other countries.”

What is happening in Turkey is symptomatic of the developed and emerging markets globally. When trillions of dollars of newly issued lucre was up for grabs, thanks to several developed country central banks, it was comparatively easy for governments and companies just like Turkey’s to borrow funds denominated in dollars and not their national currencies.

Turkey has relied on foreign-currency debt more than most EM’s. Corporate, financial and other debt denominated mostly in dollars, approximates close to 70% of it’s economy. Therefore as the Turkish lira plunges, it is very costly for those companies to repay their dollar-denominated loans, and even now it is patently clear many will not.

The concern rattling around the underbelly of the global markets is what can be reasonably expected for assets and economies that were inflated by cheap debt, the United States included. All this points not so much to a banking crisis as has happened eight years ago, but a systemic financial market crisis.

This is a new one, and I doubt if any QE, QT, NIRPs, or ZIRPs will make much of a difference, despite the rocket-high equity markets the US has been displaying.

One financial trader I spoke to, whom I have known since the early 1980’s (and I thought him ancient then) muttered to me “we’re gettin’ into the ecstasy stage, nothing but the high matters, everything else including the VIX is seen as boring denial, and not the warning tool it is. Better start loading up on gold.”

Meanwhile, de-dollarization is ongoing in Russia and is carefully studied by a host of countries, especially as the Russian government has not yet finished selling off US debt; it still has just a few billion to go. The Russian Finance Minister A. Siluanov said this past Sunday that Russia would continue decreasing holdings of Treasuries in response to sanctions.

The finance minister went on to say that, Russia is also considering distancing itself from using the US dollar for international trade, calling it an unreliable, conditional and hence risky tool for payments.

Between March and May this year, Russia’s US debt holdings were sold down by $81 billion, which is 84% of its total US debt holdings, and while I don’t know the current figure it is certain to be even less.

The latest round of tightening sanctions screws against Russia were imposed by the State Department under a chemical and biological warfare law and should be going into effect on August 22. This in spite of the fact that no proof was ever shown, not under any established national or international law, or with any of several global biochemical conventions, not even in the ever entertaining court of public opinion.

Whatever Russia may continue to do in its relationship with US debt or the dollar, the fact of the matter is that Russia is not a heavyweight in this particular financial arena, and the direct effects of Russia’s responses are negligible. However, the indirect effects are huge as they reflect what many countries (allied or unallied with the US) see as Washington’s overbearing and more than slightly unipolar trade and geopolitical advantage quests, be they Mexico, Canada, the EU, or anyone else on any hemisphere of this globe.

Some of the potential indirect effects over time may be a similar sell-off or even gradual reduction of US debt exposure from China or any one of several dozens of countries deciding to reduce their exposure to US debt by reducing their purchases and waiting for existing Treasuries to mature. In either case, the trend is there and is not going away anytime soon.

When Russia clears its books of US dollarized debt, then who will be next in actively diversifying their US debt risk? Then what might be the fate of the US Dollar, and what value then will be the international infusions to finance America’s continually growing debt, or fuel the funds needed for further market growth? Value and the energy of money has no politics, it ultimately trends towards areas where there is a secure business dynamic. That being said, looks like we are now and will be living through the most interesting of disruptive times.

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