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Here’s the real danger to opposition journalists in western police states

The western police state’s war against the opposition is far more devious than more familiar models of repression.

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Even prior to the release of Vault 7 from Wikileaks, people knew that so-called intelligence agencies in western states had the means to spy on their own citizens. Many also assumed that the typical illegality of such activities was of no consequence for agencies and individuals in those agencies who regard themselves as being above the law.

Now that we know the CIA and other institutions have such abilities to digitally hack just about every household device from the smart phone and smart-tv to the good old fashioned PC, the biggest question is, when do these deep state organisations implement these measures to spy on civilians and compromise their lives?

The answer can be found without needing to resort to conspiracy theories nor even speculation. The answer lies in the private sector.

Organisations like the CIA, MI5, FBI etc., need only do what the private sector isn’t all ready doing for them and as it is, the private sector is doing a hell of a lot.

If one wonders why major financial, academic, diplomatic, trading, banking, security and even artistic institutions in the west tend to have people on their payrolls who follow the ‘western ideological narrative’, there are two reasons.

The first is that people are attracted to like-minded people and by extrapolation like-minded professions.

But there is a second more devious reason. Those who think outside the western box, those who ‘question more’ simply cannot get a foot through the door. Technically, one needn’t have any view on Vladimir Putin to be on the board of a major western construction company, law firm, private bank or hedge fund. These professions do not involve knowledge of Russian politics or society.  But those who have and even casually express a view of Putin or of the Arab world or of East Asia and Latin America that differs from the neo-lib/neo-con point of view, are blacklisted.

Social media has made this blacklisting easier to do than ever. If two equally qualified candidates were applying for a high level position at a financial institution and one person had a picture of himself at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser on his Facebook and the other had a ‘Save Palestine’ picture or a pro-Putin meme on his social media accounts, there would be no prizes for correctly guessing who would almost certainly get the job.

In the words of George Carlin, “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it”.

The punitive blacklisting of those who don’t follow the CNN/BBC/NYT script has a double effect.

First of all, it keeps those who think outside the box away from positions of power in the private sector and in most western countries, without a prominent position in the business or mainstream entertainment community, achieving political office is next to impossible.

Secondly, there is a powerful deterrent effect. Many people would like to post pro-Putin, pro-Donbass, pro-Syria or pro-Palestine items on social media, but they are afraid that it could cost them their job, their bonus or even their friends. In the west such things can break-up families. It happens every day. At this very movement, someone in a western country is contemplating suicide because of being on the losing end of a divorce settlement. Very sad, yet very true.

This Kafkaesque reality is achieved without the CIA needing to hack people’s phones or computers. The private sector does the job for them.

For every tabloid story about a woman losing her job because she posted a photo of her genitals on-line, there are many more people who are professionally compromised for posting photos of patriotic Russian or Arab leaders.

Throughout the 20th century, the private sector has always been happy to do the bidding of the deep state. Hollywood was largely compliant with the ‘red scare’ tactics of the 1950s and frankly, Hollywood producers did more to censor free-speech than the drunk and soon discredited Joseph McCarthy ever could have done.

Why should the CIA waste time and money to read people’s emails, when their much more local boss, or chairman of ‘human relations’ can take a quick look at Facebook and achieve the CIA’s goal far more easily?

The answer is that they don’t. The beauty of a police state is that unquestioning citizens are deputies of the secret police and they work for free. Some do it wilfully and others do it unconsciously, but they do it nevertheless.

Those who question more are often labelled as sensationalist, ‘shock-merchants’ or a number of related epithets to try and discredit their work.

The truth is that those in alternative-media, those who favour multi-polarity, those who speak fairly about Russia, China, Syria, Palestine and beyond, are actually taking a big risk.

Those who say that the west is superior for allowing dissenting thinkers to write and speak without being publicly arrested and sent to a penal colony are being either naive or deceptive.

Western governments do not need to attract publicity by arresting dissenting thinkers because they can do something that has a similar effect and without any of the fanfare.

They can instead use the very corporatist-capitalist system they call ‘free’ to make such people’s lives a living hell. After all, extreme poverty in a capitalist society is as bad as prison is in some countries and this is not an exaggeration. Being socially shunned is an unpleasant situation in any society with any economic system.

For those who make the biggest impact, they can subject them to a hell even worse than poverty. Julian Assange is a crucial example. The fake charges against him are akin to something straight out of Franz Kafka’s The Trial.

If anything, the west is less compassionate than other parts of the world. The west’s record of imperialism, war crimes and human slavery, drug trafficking and environmental terrorism is surely a testament to this. People should be in no doubt that if western governments thought that they could get away with killing opposition journalists and commentators, they would certainly not hesitate to kill the opposition with impunity. The problem is that in a world of mostly free online media that can still circumvent the power of western police states, having reports of opposition thinkers and journalists ‘disappearing’ or being found strangled to death, could bring more attention to the causes of the victims than the western power structures are willing to risk.

The decision not to kill certain opposition thinkers is nothing more than a cost benefit analysis. When someone gets too powerful like Julian Assange or his sources, such people are very much dealt with by facing the receiving end of the full power of state violence. Manning was imprisoned, Snowden and Assange had to seek asylum and Seth Rich, the man widely believed to have been Wikileaks’ source for the DNC leaks, was murdered in cold blood.

Make no mistake, after the cost benefit analysis comes the economy of scale. If someone has an influential website, they’ll merely try to deprive him or her of a livelihood. If that website grows to Wikileaks proportions, such an individual’s life will be in grave danger.

But there may be a happy ending. As the world becomes more multi-polar and the power structures/money structures of global dominance become more balanced, the western private sector oligarchy that does the bidding of the west’s deep state, will no longer be able to exercise the influence they once could.

It is a matter of numbers and when it comes to ordinary citizens throughout the world, in addition to rising powers on the non-western side of the multipolar world, the western elites are simply outnumbered by the rest of us. A sleeping giant needn’t even be awake in order to crush his small but powerful opposition. Such a sleeping giant needs only to stand up before falling back down on the backs of his persecutors. The power of ordinary people throughout the world, plus friendly states that oppose western hegemony, combine to constitute this sleeping giant.

The effects are all ready being felt. Funding sources that come from China, Russia and other strong non-western states are not beholden to the western axis of money and power that for so long could ruin people’s lives with comparative ease.

For those who criticise outlets like RT for getting some funding from the Russian government, they ought to think twice. RT, in being financially independent of western financial structures, is creating a more globally fair and balanced community and helping to give those who have been shut out, a chance to speak without fear of total economic and social isolation. RT’s funding which is largely independent of the western power-structure, has allowed the information playing field to become at least a bit more level. Prior to this, it was grossly out of balance, some would say depressingly so.

Whether the west attempts to fully purge the web and airwaves of alternative media sources from abroad is now a race against time. They want to put the genie back in the bottle, but I personally believe that they may find such a thing more difficult than expected. That being said, many opposition commentators will indeed feel the sting of western police state power in the meantime.

For those who think multi-polarity is only about bombs and sanctions, think again. If you’re reading this piece, it is very much about you.

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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