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FIFA proves to the British that Russia is not the enemy

FIFA Championship tournament defies geopolitical propaganda efforts as lovers of football meet and compete right in the heart of Moscow

Seraphim Hanisch

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The UK government is likely to have to eat a lot of crow this year. Despite all the fiery rhetoric about Russian “aggression” and secret spies deployed by Vladimir Putin all around the world, and especially in England, some British citizens came to Russia anyway. The FIFA World Cup is being played here, after all, and football is very important for these people.

As the result of this, the people from one of the most stalwart Western powers are getting a completely different and first-hand, view of Russia.

A news piece in the Guardian, entitled “Message to the English: come to Russia and feel the love” blew the lid off the seal that the British propagandists thought they had placed on the great country to their east, and it was done simply and in the most direct way possible, by portraying the experience of the English tourists who are in Russia en masse now for the tournament. Tom Rosenthal writes:

This. World. Cup. Is. Good. Having been lucky enough to be at Nizhny Novgorod for England 6 Panama 1(stick that in your hats), St Petersburg for Argentina 2 Nigeria 1(Messi’s foot of God) and Kaliningrad for Belgium against England (the game was literally pointless), I get to write in The Guardianto say my personal experience is that Russia is absolutely killing this World Cup, which is a vast improvement on spies in Zizzi*. The organisation of this tournament has been fantastic and you’ll struggle to find anyone who’ll say otherwise, which is not because they’re a double-agent or a Twitter bot, but because it’s true.

Newspaper headlinesBloodthirsty hooligans vow murder”, “Russian Ultras: KID BOOTCAMP” and “Russian hooligans warn England fans ‘prepare to DIE’’’. A BBC documentary called Russia’s Hooligan Army. A Foreign Office warning of “heightened risks of violence”. What do these things have in common? Well, they all sound like things Ross Kemp would mumble in his sleep, but they are also UK media reports that put a lot of English people off having an experience like mineand having the opportunity to experience first-hand which country puts us out on penalties.

It’s so trite to say the people have been amazing… but the response of the Russian populace to England fans has been the polar opposite of what we were told to guard against. Mark Roberts, head of UK football policing, warned against taking England flags to Russia, for fear of being too imperialistic and inciting violence. He might have felt a little silly in Victory Square, Kaliningrad, with St George’s crosses draped over every inch of the U Gasheka pub, native onlookers cheering along to the Umbro-clad mire of English lager-lads singing adapted Atomic Kitten songs (“Southgate you’re the one, you still turn me on … football’s coming home again”). If flags are universally signals of peremptory intent, tell that to the Russian teenager who asked all the fans he met to sign his with where they were from. Desecrating the sacred colours of the motherland with “Jeff, Grimsby” doesn’t get you put in a gulag, apparently.

And if this all sounds too magical to be true, that’s how it felt.When numerous Russians asked why we were being told not to come to their country – once phrasing it heartbreakingly as, “Why don’t you like us?” – I initially worried it was some sort of state edict that Putin had issued into their mind-chips to trick us. But it quickly became obvious that it was I, plagued with worries of being attacked if I donned an England shirt, who had been operating in a fantasy of disinformation. My first Airbnb host said how happy he was to meet an Englishman, as his favourite author was Stephen Fry and described how he’d very much enjoyed the BBC adaptation of War and Peace, and that Russians felt a great affinity for the British as they also had a great empire in the past but are now far less powerful and in somewhat of an identity crisis in the present. I tried to return the compliment but am so poorly read I settled for saying it was great when Andrei Arshavin scored four goals for Arsenal at Anfield.

Mr. Rosenthal is not alone in his observations. The FIFA World Cup has created amazing exposure for the Russian Federation to the Western world. With many hundreds of thousands of tourists here from countless countries, the air in Russia is one of enjoyment, delight and interest as people from all over the world get to enjoy the games together, and to get to know what it really is like here. 

This is not a phenomenon that is restricted to Moscow or St Petersburg, either. Eleven cities are FIFA game sites, and for the people here following the matches, it is a huge opportunity to explore a whole lot of the nation and to get a pretty solid idea of what life is like here, and about what the attitudes of the Russian people are towards Westerners.

There are two nations that stand to receive the biggest surprise from viewing the reality of Russia versus the propaganda about the country: The United Kingdom and the United States. Although the American soccer team did not make it to the FIFA tournament, many Americans did, and they have been seen in Moscow and St Petersburg en masse, and they are astounded by what Russia is really like.

But for the British, as Mr. Rosenthal noted above, it is a completely radical experience.

Sputnik News writes that in Moscow’s famous Red Square, late in the evening around eight o’clock PM, on a small pitch, two teams met to make a gentlemen’s game of European football (a.k.a soccer).

The teams were comprised of Russian fans, and… British fans. They joined the game with relish, and with a very friendly spirit of competition. Sputnik writes:

As the sun goes down on Red Square, twenty-three British fans jog up and down a miniature football pitch; they practice high knees, backwards jogs and heel kicks. They’re warming up for one of the more intense games of the tournament: England fans vs Russian fans.

…Those kitted up and ready to play may not be professional footballers on the English side, but the game is a serious one. The organiser, Richard Peers, runs the British School of Football in Moscow. He explains how this game symbolises ‘friendship through sport’; with sport being the ‘best means to engage’. Given the undeniably tempestuous UK/ Russia relations of late, this World Cup has been an opportunity to smooth out some of the diplomatic rifts between the nations. An example of sport spearheading through the swamp of politics.

It is an interesting juxtaposition. In the run-up to the Cup, the opposite was true, politics was all anybody talked about. As Mr. Peers notes, “after all that has happened over the last few months, UK/ Russia relations are very different.” This is an opportunity to put the countries’ positives into the media spotlight, and to promote the true reality of Russia. A month ago, when people discussed England versus Russia, they were not picturing a friendly played out in the heart of the Russian capital. Most likely, they would hark back to the European Championships of 2016.

The FIFA championships of 2018 have placed Russia in the world spotlight like never before and at a most opportune time. Great numbers of Westerners descended upon Russia, some 25,000 expected from Mexico alone, and for weeks already, Moscow’s famous Nikolksy Street has been the crossroads of the world, as fans from all the participating nations, and visitors from still more nations, converged in Russia’s capital city.

The stormy political relations between the United Kingdom and Moscow of late had their effect on some, but as Sputnik goes on to say, coming to Moscow heralded quite the discovery:

Al Humphries ‘Big Al’, 54, from Northampton, is in the stands watching the game. He notes his anxiety in planning his trip to Russia — talking specifically on the subject of the European championship two years ago in Marseilles.

“I was frightened at first. I thought I wasn’t going to come. I thought it was going to be a bloodbath. Especially for England fans, we’re a target, and we’ve got a reputation.”

But with such beliefs, why did ‘Big Al’ decide to come to Russia for the World Cup championships?

“I thought things would have changed, and of course, it was right. It’s not the same anymore. I thought it was going to be very nasty here, but it’s just been unbelievable. I mean just look at this! A friendly!

Big Al gestures to the people on the pitch. Both teams are well into the game, sweat flying.

© SPUTNIK / MAUD START England fans vs Russian fans tournament in the Red Square in Moscow

Big Al’s mate, Matt from Warsaw, weighs in. He said he had not been afraid of coming to Russia for the World Cup, but this raises some eyebrows among his peers. There were not many British fans that were not slightly concerned in the run-up to the tournament. As a result, the reality of Russia has come as a surprise to many.

“Getting the Fan Ids and visas, easy. Tickets, ok, I had to go collect them myself. But, the streets are clean, the police are polite, and the underground is amazing. I think this is really good for Russia. Everyone has been so welcoming, and you know, the Western world has a view of Russia that could be changed through this World Cup.

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mary jane

The establishment will find some way to spin it. Should be interesting, our propaganda machine gets less credible by the day.

Patrick Woolley
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Patrick Woolley

McCain must be frothing at the mouth over how well this World Cup is going.

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Russia is a good and great country and it is a shame that the Military Industrial Congressional Complex and NATO has to have a Fall Guy for their Elites to siphon money from their peoples.

John Vu
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Putin is a partner of Deepstate.

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US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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