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Duterte welcomes Russian Naval ships to Philippines as military cooperation pact is signed

Philippines and Russia continue to expand their bilateral partnership, thanks to the initiative of President Rodrigo Duterte.

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has welcomed a flotilla of Russian Naval ships to Manila as a formal military cooperation pact is signed between the two countries.

Duterte personally toured the Russian destroyer Admiral Panteleyev as Philippines received a free shipment of weapons from Russia, including 5,000 Kalashnikov riffles and military vehicles.

CONFIRMED: Russia begins shipment of Kalashnikov rifles to Philippines

Duterte has hailed new fruitful relations with Russia, something which encapsulates his policy goals of expanding Philippines’ relations with countries in the wider so-called ‘global east’.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu has travelled to Manila as part of the third large Russian military contingent to visit Philippines since Duterte took office in the summer of 2016.

Shoigu later met with the Philippine Secretary of National Defense, Delfin Lorenzana where the two signed a military agreement to expand “research, production support, as well as the possible exchange of experts and training of personnel for joint programs”.

Shoigu welcomed the new cooperative agreement, stating,

“The leaders of our states have outlined the strategic priorities of bilateral cooperation. Active work is being conducted today to implement the agreements reached, including to further strengthen ties in the defence sphere”.

With Philippines marking the defeat of the ISIS-Maute Group whose initial attack on Marawi came while President Duterte was in Moscow for meetings with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia looks forward to further military cooperation with Philippines at a time when Philippine troops are celebrating their victory over a violent terrorist insurgency.

The newfound relationship between Moscow and Manila, represents a two-way street in terms of new partnerships. Russia’s long-term goal is to expand its commercial and security presence in South East Asia, beyond its traditional ally in Vietnam. Russia has been engaged in free trade deal discussions with countries as varied as Indonesia and Thailand. For Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte represents a new-era in which the one time US colony is firmly breaking free of a post-colonial past and initiating new partnerships with major regional players including China in East Asia and Russia in Eurasia.

Duterte has frequently praised Russia for not attaching an ideological component nor making demands on Philippine sovereignty during sovereign business transactions. This open attitude is one of the many points of attraction between the two countries.

Of the major planks of Duterte’s wide ranging political programme are the concepts of prosperity through security against both terrorism and the drug crime which feeds terrorism, expanded economic partnerships throughout Asia and beyond, a more equitable distribution of Philippines’ wealth and fairer regional political representation.

Today’s successful meeting with Russian military leaders is a further sign that vast powers are more willing than ever to engage in Philippines with Duterte at the helm.

As I previously wrote, on Philippine Independence Day:

“Today, Philippines celebrates 199 years of independence from Spain, but it was during that fateful year of 1898 that the country switched one colonial master for another.

The Spanish-American war saw Philippines along with Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico come under US control. However, it was Philippines that gave the United States the most to worry about. It was during the Philippine-America war of 1899-1902 that was America’s first experience in fighting a colonial insurgency. It would be the first of many.  Simultaneous to this, a separate rebellion broke out among Philippine Moros, the Muslim population of the country. This was something that both the US and later independent Philippine governments had to face.

Although Philippines became fully independent in 1946, it was a kind of independence that perversely relied on a deeply dependant relationship on America which by the end of the 1940s was a world-leading economic and military super-power.

Today, Philippines has a strongly independent President who has spoken openly and clearly of his desire not to be treated like a colony any longer. President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued a foreign policy independent of US edicts and one which disregards the neo-clonial attitude of US funded NGOs.

Duterte is now having to face down an ISIS insurgency on the southern island of Mindanao and the city of Marawi in particular. ISIS coalesced during Duterte’s Presidency not because Duterte wanted war with Moros but because he wanted peace.

Duterte had promised a new federal structure for the country and barring that, promised autonomy for Mindanao, where Duterte himself was born and for years was mayor of the city of Davao.

ISIS also knew that if Duterte was successful in crushing the violent drugs trade in Philippines, they would be deprived of a major source of revenue, generated from the cultivation, sale and trafficking of drugs.

Duterte has pledged to fight all of these threats but many in Philippines are not giving him the support nor the credit he deserves.

Many opposition figures, particularly those in the Philippine Liberal Party have questioned his decision to declare martial law in Mindanao. Even more concerning is a recent statement by the Philippine Department of Tourism which stated that it is Duterte’s declaration of martial law that has seen tourism to Mindanao decline. Logic would dictate that the presence of ISIS is the reason tourism has declined, but there is increasingly little logic among Duterte’s opponents who are keen to retain their position as post-colonial elites who care more for their own wealth and prestige than for the people of their country.

Now, Duterte is facing yet another problem, the very real threat of a soft military power struggle against his Presidency. After initial reports that the Philippine government requested US assistance in fighting ISIS, a request confirmed by the United States, President Duterte has stated that no such request originated from himself or his colleagues.

He furthermore stated  that,

“…our soldiers are pro-American, that I cannot deny”.

He further stated that he only found out that American forces had agreed to ‘assist’ Philippines from the same Reuters report cited in breaking reports from The Duran.

It is a deeply dangerous scenario if military commanders in Philippines are acting unilaterally, without the permission let alone consent of their President.

It is imperative that at this time of crisis, Philippine law makers and ordinary people alike support their President. The very independence celebrated on the 12th of June is better represented by Duterte than any previous Philippine leader in the modern age.

President Rodrigo Duterte wants for his people that which a subservient post-colonial/neo-colonial attitude could never possibly achieve: dignity.

Duterte is the last best hope for the Philippine people and the Philippine nation. He is, simply put, the best President that the country has ever had and may have for some time.

Duterte understands not only the modern realities of his country but the modern realities of a multi-polar world. It is not realistic in the 21st century for an East Asian country to continue to act as a post-colonial satellite of declining American power. It is essential for Philippines to develop and cultivate new regional partnerships, especially with China, a super-power which is far closer to Philippines than the United States.

Rodrigo Duterte understands that while building new  bridges, one must not burn the old. His apparently good relationship with Donald Trump is evidence of the fact that Duterte means what he says when he states he is still wiling to work with America on important issues, only from a position of mutual-respect rather than that of a slave to a master.

President Duterte is a man uniquely moved by a patriotic purpose and uniquely guided by the hand of destiny. If his plans are embraced, Philippines stands the real chance to enter into a new, more peaceful and more prosperous age. If Duterte is rejected, the Philippine people will have rejected their best chance at achieving true independence in every sense: political, military, economic and even spiritual.

On this day, one must celebrate not only achievements of the Philippine past but the prospects of a better Philippine future, a future which Duterte can guide the country towards better than any of his rivals”.

PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY: Duterte is the best President in the country’s history

Today’s events further solidify Duterte as a President who has brought meaningful change to Philippines that will have positive effects for decades to come.

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FBI recommended Michael Flynn not have lawyer present during interview, did not warn of false statement consequences

Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.

Washington Examiner

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Via The Washington Examiner…


Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who arranged the bureau’s interview with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 — the interview that ultimately led to Flynn’s guilty plea on one count of making false statements — suggested Flynn not have a lawyer present at the session, according to newly-filed court documents. In addition, FBI officials, along with the two agents who interviewed Flynn, decided specifically not to warn him that there would be penalties for making false statements because the agents wanted to ensure that Flynn was “relaxed” during the session.

The new information, drawn from McCabe’s account of events plus the FBI agents’ writeup of the interview — the so-called 302 report — is contained in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn’s defense team.

Citing McCabe’s account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 — the fourth day of the new Trump administration — McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn’s West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with Flynn to discuss Flynn’s talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only,” McCabe wrote. “I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”

Within two hours, the agents were in Flynn’s office. According to the 302 report quoted in the Flynn sentencing document, the agents said Flynn was “relaxed and jocular” and offered the agents “a little tour” of his part of the White House.

“The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.”

The agents had, of course, seen transcripts of Flynn’s wiretapped conversations with Russian then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used … to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said … they would not confront him or talk him through it,'” the Flynn memo says, citing the FBI 302.

“One of the agents reported that Gen. Flynn was ‘unguarded’ during the interview and ‘clearly saw the FBI agents as allies,'” the Flynn memo says, again citing the 302.

Later in the memo, Flynn’s lawyers argue that the FBI treated Flynn differently from two other Trump-Russia figures who have pleaded guilty to and been sentenced for making false statements. One of them, Alexander Van der Zwaan, “was represented by counsel during the interview; he was interviewed at a time when there was a publicly disclosed, full-bore investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election; and he was given a warning that it is a federal crime to lie during the interview,” according to the memo. The other, George Papadopoulos, “was specifically notified of the seriousness of the investigation…was warned that lying to investigators was a ‘federal offense’…had time to reflect on his answers…and met with the FBI the following month for a further set of interviews, accompanied by his counsel, and did not correct his false statements.”

The message of the sentencing memo is clear: Flynn, his lawyers suggest, was surprised, rushed, not warned of the context or seriousness of the questioning, and discouraged from having a lawyer present.

That is all the sentencing document contains about the interview itself. In a footnote, Flynn’s lawyers noted that the government did not object to the quotations from the FBI 302 report.

In one striking detail, footnotes in the Flynn memo say the 302 report cited was dated Aug. 22, 2017 — nearly seven months after the Flynn interview. It is not clear why the report would be written so long after the interview itself.

The brief excerpts from the 302 used in the Flynn defense memo will likely spur more requests from Congress to see the original FBI documents. Both House and Senate investigating committees have demanded that the Justice Department allow them to see the Flynn 302, but have so far been refused.

In the memo, Flynn’s lawyers say that he made a “serious error in judgment” in the interview. Citing Flynn’s distinguished 30-plus year record of service in the U.S. Army, they ask the judge to go along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s recommendation that Flynn be spared any time in prison.

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Macron offers crumbs to protestors in bid to save his globalist agenda (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 36.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at French President Macron’s pathetic display of leadership as he offers protestors little in the way of concessions while at the same time promising to crack down hard on any and all citizens who resort to violence.

Meanwhile France’s economy is set for a deep recession as French output and production grinds to a halt.

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Via Zerohedge


As if Brussels didn’t have its hands full already with Italy and the UK, the European Union will soon be forced to rationalize why one of its favorite core members is allowed to pursue populist measures to blow out its budget deficit to ease domestic unrest while another is threatened with fines potentially amounting to billions of euros.

When blaming Russia failed to quell the widespread anger elicited by his policies, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to appease the increasingly violent “yellow vests” protesters who have sacked his capital city by offering massive tax cuts that could blow the French budget out beyond the 3% budget threshold outlined in the bloc’s fiscal rules.

Given the concessions recently offered by Italy’s populists, Macron’s couldn’t have picked a worse time to challenge the bloc’s fiscal conventions. As Bloomberg pointed out, these rules will almost certainly set the Continent’s second largest economy on a collision course with Brussels. To be clear, Macron’s offered cuts come with a price tag of about €11 billion according to Les Echos, and will leave the country with a budget gap of 3.5% of GDP in 2019, with one government official said the deficit may be higher than 3.6%.

By comparison, Italy’s initial projections put its deficit target at 2.4%, a number which Europe has repeatedly refused to consider.

Macron’s promises of fiscal stimulus – which come on top of his government’s decision to delay the planned gas-tax hikes that helped inspire the protests – were part of a broader ‘mea culpa’ offered by Macron in a speech Monday night, where he also planned to hike France’s minimum wage.

Of course, when Brussels inevitably objects, perhaps Macron could just show them this video of French police tossing a wheelchair-bound protester to the ground.

Already, the Italians are complaining.  Speaking on Tuesday, Italian cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti said Italy hasn’t breached the EU deficit limit. “I repeat that from the Italian government there is a reasonable approach, if there is one also from the EU a solution will be found.”

“France has several times breached the 3% deficit. Italy hasn’t done it. They are different situations. There are many indicators to assess.”

Still, as one Guardian columnist pointed out in an op-ed published Tuesday morning, the fact that the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) organizers managed to pressure Macron to cave and grant concessions after just 4 weeks of protests will only embolden them to push for even more radical demands: The collapse of the government of the supremely unpopular Macron.

Then again, with Brussels now facing certain accusations of hypocrisy, the fact that Macron was pressured into the exact same populist measures for which Italy has been slammed, the French fiasco raises the odds that Rome can pass any deficit measure it wants with the EU now forced to quietly look away even as it jawbones all the way from the bank (i.e., the German taxpayers).

“Macron’s spending will encourage Salvini and Di Maio,” said Giovanni Orsina, head of the School of Government at Rome’s Luiss-Guido Carli University. “Macron was supposed to be the spearhead of pro-European forces, if he himself is forced to challenge EU rules, Salvini and Di Maio will jump on that to push their contention that those rules are wrong.”

While we look forward to how Brussels will square this circle, markets are less excited.

Exhausted from lurching from one extreme to another following conflicting headlines, traders are already asking if “France is the new Italy.” The reason: the French OAT curve has bear steepened this morning with 10Y yields rising as much as ~6bp, with the Bund/OAT spread reaching the widest since May 2017 and the French presidential election. Though well below the peaks of last year, further widening would push the gap into levels reserved for heightened political risk.

As Bloomberg macro analyst Michael Read notes this morning, it’s hard to see a specific near-term trigger blowing out the Bund/OAT spread but the trend looks likely to slowly drift higher.

While Macron has to fight on both domestic and European fronts, he’ll need to keep peace at home to stay on top. Remember that we saw the 10Y spread widen to ~80bps around the May ’17 elections as concerns of a move toward the political fringe played out in the markets, and the French President’s popularity ratings already look far from rosy.

And just like that France may have solved the Italian crisis.

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Watch: Democrat Chuck Schumer shows his East Coast elitism on live TV

Amazing moment in which the President exhibits “transparency in government” and shows the world who the Democrat leaders really are.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected to the Presidency was because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – against Democrat policy decisions and “stupid government” in general.

One of the reasons President Donald Trump is reviled is because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – in the American political scene.

In other words, there are two reactions to the same characteristic. On Tuesday, the President did something that probably cheered and delighted a great many Americans who witnessed this.

The Democrats have been unanimous in taking any chance to roast the President, or to call for his impeachment, or to incite violence against him. But Tuesday was President Trump’s turn. He invited the two Democrat leaders, presumptive incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and then, he turned the cameras on:

As Tucker Carlson notes, the body language from Schumer was fury. The old (something)-eating grin covered up humiliation, embarrassment and probably no small amount of fear, as this whole incident was filmed and broadcast openly and transparently to the American public. Nancy Pelosi was similarly agitated, and she expressed it later after this humiliation on camera, saying, “It’s like a manhood thing for him… As if manhood could ever be associated with him.”

She didn’t stop there. According to a report from the New York Daily News, the Queen Bee took the rhetoric a step below even her sense of dignity:

Pelosi stressed she made clear to Trump there isn’t enough support in Congress for a wall and speculated the President is refusing to back down because he’s scared to run away with his tail between his legs.

“I was trying to be the mom. I can’t explain it to you. It was so wild,” Pelosi said of the Oval Office meet, which was also attended by Vice President Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

This represented the first salvo in a major spin-job for the ultra-liberal San Francisco Democrat. The rhetoric spun by Mrs. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was desperate as they tried to deflect their humiliation and place it back on the President:

With reporters still present, Trump boasted during the Oval meeting he would be “proud” to shutdown the government if Congress doesn’t earmark cash for his wall before a Dec. 21 spending deadline.

Pelosi told Democrats that Trump’s boisterousness will be beneficial for them.

“The fact is we did get him to say, to fully own that the shutdown was his,” Pelosi said. “That was an accomplishment.”

The press tried to characterize this as a “Trump Tantrum”, saying things like this lede:

While “discussing” a budgetary agreement for the government, President Donald Trump crossed his arms and declared: “we will shut down the government if there is no wall.”

While the Democrats and the mainstream media in the US are sure to largely buy these interpretations of the event, the fact that this matter was televised live shows that the matter was entirely different, and this will be discomfiting to all but those Democrats and Trump-dislikers that will not look at reality.

There appears to be a twofold accomplishment for the President in this confrontation:

  1. The President revealed to his support base the real nature of the conversation with the Democrat leadership, because anyone watching this broadcast (and later, video clip) saw it unedited with their own eyes. They witnessed the pettiness of both Democrats and they witnessed a President completely comfortable and confident about the situation.
  2. President Trump probably made many of his supporters cheer with the commitment to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall funding. This cheering is for both the strength shown about getting the wall finished and the promise to shut the government down, and further, Mr. Trump’s assertion that he would be “proud” to shut the government down, taking complete ownership willingly, reflects a sentiment that many of his supporters share.

The usual pattern is for the media, Democrats and even some Republicans to create a “scare” narrative about government shutdowns, about how doing this is a sure-fire path to chaos and suffering for the United States.

But the educated understanding of how shutdowns work reveals something completely different. Vital services never close. However, National Parks can close partly or completely, and some non-essential government agencies are shuttered. While this is an inconvenience for the employees furloughed during the shutdown, they eventually are re-compensated for the time lost, and are likely to receive help during the shutdown period if they need it. The impact on the nation is minimal, aside from the fact that the government stops spending money at the same frenetic pace as usual.

President Trump’s expression of willingness to do this action and his singling out of the Dem leadership gives the Democrats a real problem. Now the entire country sees their nature. As President Trump is a populist, this visceral display of Democrat opposition and pettiness will make at least some impact on the population, even that group of people who are not Trump fans.

The media reaction and that of the Democrats here show, amazingly, that after three years-plus of Donald Trump being a thorn in their side, they still do not understand how he works, and they also cannot match it against their expected “norms” of establishment behavior.

This may be a brilliant masterstroke, and it also may be followed up by more. The President relishes head-to-head conflict. The reactions of these congress members showed who they really are.

Let the games begin.

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