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Hillary Clinton pulls the Russia card, calls Donald Trump a Russian ‘puppet’ in final debate

Last television debate showed contenders scoring points but left a clear impression of the inadequacy of both of them and of the growing disconnect between the US political establishment and the American people.

Joe Lauria

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Donald Trump deflected charges from Hillary Clinton that he was Russia’s “puppet” while blasting Clinton for her Middle East policy on Wednesday night in the third and final debate before the November 8 election.

Neither candidate appeared to make inroads into each others’ supporters as they at times angrily reiterated positions they’ve taken throughout the campaign. Clinton goes into the election with leads in key states, making her the favourite three weeks from now.

In what was another highly contentious match, the candidates clashed in Nevada on a number of foreign policy issues, including the operation to liberate Mosul, U.S. policy in Syria and relations with Iran.

Trump’s position on Russia again took centre stage. Clinton has been under fire for damaging revelations in her campaign chairman’s emails, which have been published by Wikileaks. To deflect attention from them, Clinton and U.S. intelligence claim, without producing proof, that the “highest levels” of the Russian government are responsible for the hacked emails in an effort to help Trump get elected. Evidence is evidently not required when it comes to blaming Russia.

Sparks Fly

Clinton’s charge sparked a dramatic exchange. “What’s really important about Wikileaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans,” she charged. “They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions, then they have given that information to Wikileaks,” she said.

“This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from [President Vladimir] Putin himself, in an effort, as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed, to influence our election,” Clinton said.

“Will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election?” she asked.

Trump responded by saying that Clinton had “no idea” if it was Russia, China or anyone else who had hacked into the accounts. Some former U.S. intelligence officials contend that the emails were leaked, rather than hacked.

The Republican candidate said he favoured good U.S.-Russian relations and that the two countries should form an alliance to fight ISIS. “I don’t know Putin,” Trump said “He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good. If Russia and the United States got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good. [Putin] has no respect for [Clinton].”

“Well, that’s because [Putin would] rather have a puppet as president,” Clinton shot back.

“You’re the puppet,” Trump interjected.

“You are willing to spout the Putin line,” Clinton retorted, “sign up for his wish list, rake up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favourite in this race.”

If Russia prefers Trump it is probably because he wants dialogue with Moscow, while Clinton has called Putin “Hitler” and made bellicose statements towards the country.

The U.S. and Russia on September 9 concluded such a deal that Trump wants to jointly fight ISIS but it collapsed after the U.S. said it “accidentally” killed about 80 Syrian soldiers near Deir ez-Zor in Syria.

“She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way,” Trump said. “All you have to do is look at the Middle East. They’ve taken over. We’ve spent $6 trillion. [Russia has] taken over the Middle East. She has been outsmarted and outplayed worse than anybody I’ve ever seen in any government whatsoever.”

At one point Trump said Russian had “taken over territory” in Syria, though Russia has no ground troops in the country, a statement that shows Trump’s shaky command of facts.

Clinton again recklessly called for a safe area and a no-fly zone in Syria, though the chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, told Congress this month that that would mean war with Russia. And in one of her leaked emails she admitted a no-fly zone would “kill a lot of Syrians.” 

At Odds Over Mosul

The two candidates also sharply disagreed on the operation launched this week by the Iraqi Army, the Kurdish peshmerga and Shiite-dominated militia to retake Mosul from ISIS.

Trump blamed Clinton for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq when she was secretary of state. “We had Mosul,” said Trump said though he insists he opposed the 2003 invasion. “But when she left, she took everybody out, we lost Mosul. Now we’re fighting again to get Mosul.”

Without going into details, Trump said Iran would benefit most by the liberation of Mosul. “Iran should write us a thank you letter,” he said. “As I said many years ago, Iran is taking over Iraq. Something they’ve wanted to do forever. But we’ve made it so easy for them.”

Trump also claimed that ISIS leaders had already fled the Iraqi city because the U.S. had incorrectly advertised the operation months in advance. “Whatever happened to the element of surprise?” Trump said.

Clinton rejected Trump’s allegation that the timing of the Mosul attack was aimed at helping her get elected. “I’m just amazed that he seems to think that the Iraqi government and our allies and everybody else launched the attack on Mosul to help me in this election,” she said.

Victory in Mosul would boost Barack Obama’s legacy, that vanity outgoing presidents become obsessed with. It would also undermine Trump’s argument that the Clinton-Obama policies in Iraq have failed.

“We need to go after the leadership, but we need to get rid … of their fighters, their estimated several thousand fighters in Mosul,” Clinton said. “They’ve been digging underground. They’ve been prepared to defend. It’s going to be tough fighting. I think we can take back Mosul and move on into Syria and take Raqqah”, ISIS’s stronghold there.

Trump landed a few zingers, exposing Clinton’s hypocrisy in defending women’s rights while cozying up to the Saudis. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia had given $25 million to the Clinton Foundation.  “You talk about women and women’s rights. So these are people that push gays off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money. So I’d like to ask you right now why don’t you give back the money that you have taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly? Why don’t you give back the money?” Trump said.

Domestic Differences

The debate then moved on to other topics, but there were no questions about climate change, government surveillance of citizens, energy policy, police violence or tension in the South China Sea.

On domestic issues, the candidates disagreed on abortion, guns, immigration, health care and the economy. Trump and Clinton differed on abortion, with Clinton supporting Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision making it legal nationally, while Trump wants the individual states to decide.

Trump strongly defended the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Americans the right to own guns, while Clinton said that right should be limited by government regulation. This is one of Clinton’s strongest points.

Trump again called for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants while Clinton said they should be offered a path to citizenship. On health care, Clinton defended Obama’s national plan, while Trump again vowed to scrap it but again didn’t say what he’d replace it with.

And on the economy Trump said he wants to cut taxes on all Americans including the wealthiest, while Clinton said she’d make the rich and big corporations pay “their fair share.” It will certainly bear watching whether she follows through on this pledge should she win, given her very strong ties to Wall Street.

Then Trump made the remark that sent the corporate media into hysteria. He said he wouldn’t know until the election results were in whether he would accept them as free and fair. Over the past week he’s repeatedly warned that the election process would be “rigged.”

The 2000 and 2004 elections were marred by evidence of election fraud and a close result in three weeks could again open the results to contention.

Circling the Class Wagons


Corporate media, which has decided it is their imperative to defend their class interests and those of their bosses, and not practice journalism, led all of their broadcasts and front pages with this remark in their best display of herd mentality.  They are reading into this that Trump will use violence to prevent the sacred “democratic transfer of power.” Yet given what happened in Florida and Ohio it is a completely reasonable position for Trump to take.

Feeling threatened by the anger in the land their policies have created, the Establishment has circled the wagons around Clinton, whose comments in a speech and in leaked emails reveal her disdain for ordinary Americans.

Class anger has underscored the entire 2106 campaign. Americans who have suffered under neoliberalism since Ronald Reagan are fighting back. Unfortunately, they have yet to find the right leader.  Sanders was certainly on the right track, railing against Wall Street, the trade deals, college debt and other issues, and he was without Trump’s baggage. But he promised to support Clinton (and save his standing in a deeply corrupt Democratic Party), rather than become head of the Green Party ticket to make a viable independent run, taking votes from both Clinton and Trump.

Trump is the wrong leader because he’s a billionaire demagogue whose commitment to the interests of the ruined middle class are untested. For instance he wants tax cuts for people as rich as he is, peddling the lie that that will create jobs. Demand creates jobs and that means putting money in people’s pockets. He denies climate change and wants to expand torture, and he’s shown extreme intolerance towards Mexicans and Muslims.

There’s been overkill on the story, but Trump’s sexual misconduct certainly undermines his character. His strongest suit has been his foreign policy rhetoric, especially regarding Russia, but even that is flawed, for instance when he accused Russia of taking over the Middle East and “territory” in Syria. And he wants to increase military spending when the U.S. spends as much as the next ten countries. He has talked about Japan and South Korea getting nuclear weapons, as Clinton pointed out in the debate.

And when Trump is right on a point he fails to make the right arguments. He never demanded  to see the evidence against Russia, and never presented evidence showing the Obama-Clinton foreign policy team’s role in fostering the rise of ISIS,

It’s going to be a very long four years as we wait to see if America will explode in social unrest.

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Theresa May goes to Brussels and comes back with a big fat donut (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 39.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at Theresa May’s trip to Brussels to try and win some concessions from EU oligarchs, only to get completely rebuked and ridiculed, leaving EU headquarters with nothing but a four page document essentially telling the UK to get its act together or face a hard Brexit.

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Via Zerohedge


Any confidence boost that might have followed Theresa May’s triumph this week over her party’s implacable Brexiteers has probably already faded. Because if there was anything to be learned from the stunning rebuke delivered to the prime minister by EU leaders on Thursday, it’s that the prime minister is looking more stuck than ever.

This was evidenced by the frosty confrontation between the imperturbable May and her chief Continental antagonist, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, which was caught on film on Friday shortly before the close of a two-day European Council summit that descended into bitter recriminations. After offering token praise of May’s leadership, Brussels’ supreme bureaucrat criticized her negotiating strategy as “disorganized”, provoking a heated response from May.

Earlier, May desperately pleaded with her European colleagues – who had adamantly insisted that the text of the withdrawal agreement would not be altered – to grant her “legally binding assurances” May believes would make the Brexit plan palatable enough to win a slim victory in the Commons.

If there were any lingering doubts about the EU’s position, they were swiftly dispelled by a striking gesture of contempt for May: Demonstrating the Continent’s indifference to her plight, the final text of the summit’s conclusions was altered to remove a suggestion that the EU consider what further assurances can be offered to May, while leaving in a resolution to continue contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit.

Even the Irish, who in the recent past have been sympathetic to their neighbors’ plight (in part due to fears about a resurgence of insurrectionary violence should a hard border re-emerge between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), implied that there patience had reached its breaking point.

Here’s the FT:

But Leo Varadkar, the Irish premier, warned that the EU could not tolerate a treaty approval process where a country “comes back every couple of weeks following discussions with their parliament looking for something extra…you can’t operate international relations on this basis.”

Senior EU officials are resisting further negotiations — and suggestions of a special Brexit summit next month — because they see Britain’s requests as in effect a bid to rewrite the exit treaty.

Mr Varadkar noted that many prime ministers had been called to Brussels “at short notice” for a special Brexit summit “on a Sunday in November,” adding: “I don’t think they would be willing to come to Brussels again unless we really have to.”

In response, May threatened to hold a vote on the Brexit plan before Christmas, which would almost certainly result in its defeat, scrapping the fruits of more than a year of contentious negotiations.

Given that Mrs May aborted a Commons vote on her deal this week because she feared defeat by a “significant margin,” her comments amounted to a threat that she would let MPs kill the withdrawal agreement before Christmas.

Mrs May made the threat to German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron and EU presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk as the two day Brussels summit descended into acrimony, according to diplomats.

“At the point where there is no prospect of getting anything more from the EU, that’s when you would have to put the vote,” said one close aide to Mrs May.

If this week has taught May anything, it’s that her plan to pressure the EU into more concessions (her preferred option to help her pass the Brexit plan) was an unmitigated failure. And given that running out the clock and hoping that MPs come around at the last minute (when the options truly have been reduced to ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’) leaves too much room for market-rattling uncertainty, May is left with a few options, two of which were previously ‘off the table’ (though she has distanced herself from those positions in recent weeks).

They are: Calling a second referendum, delaying a Brexit vote, pivoting to a softer ‘Plan B’ Brexit, or accepting a ‘no deal’ Brexit. As the BBC reminds us, May is obliged by law to put her deal to a vote by Jan. 21, or go to Parliament with a Plan B.

If May does decide to run down the clock, she will have two last-minute options:

On the one hand she could somehow cancel, delay, soften or hold another referendum on Brexit and risk alienating the 17.4 million people who voted Leave.

But on the other hand, she could go for a so-called Hard Brexit (where few of the existing ties between the UK and the EU are retained) and risk causing untold damage to the UK’s economy and standing in the world for years to come.

Alternatively, May could accept the fact that convincing the Brexiteers is a lost cause, and try to rally support among Labour MPs for a ‘softer’ Brexit plan, one that would more countenance closer ties with the EU during the transition, and ultimately set the stage for a closer relationship that could see the UK remain part of the customs union and single market. Conservatives are also increasingly pushing for a ‘Plan B’ deal that would effectively set the terms for a Norway- or Canada-style trade deal (and this strategy isn’t without risk, as any deal accepted by Parliament would still require approval from the EU).

But as JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank anticipated last week, a second referendum (which supporters have nicknamed a “People’s Vote”) is becoming increasingly popular, even among MPs who supported the ‘Leave’ campaign, according to Bloomberg.

It’s not the only previously unthinkable idea that May has talked about this week. Fighting off a challenge to her leadership from pro-Brexit Conservative members of Parliament, the premier warned that deposing her would mean delaying Britain’s departure from the European Union. That’s not something she admitted was possible last month.

The argument for a second referendum advanced by one minister was simple: If nothing can get through Parliament — and it looks like nothing can — the question needs to go back to voters.

While campaigners for a second vote have mostly been those who want to reverse the result of the last one and keep Britain inside the EU, that’s not the reason a lot of new supporters are coming round to the idea.

One Cabinet minister said this week he wanted a second referendum on the table to make clear to Brexit supporters in the Conservative Party that the alternative to May’s deal is no Brexit at all.

Even former UKIP leader Nigel Farage is urging his supporters to be ready for a second referendum:

Speaking at rally in London, Press Association quoted Farage as saying: “My message folks tonight is as much as I don’t want a second referendum it would be wrong of us on a Leave Means Leave platform not to get ready, not to be prepared for a worst-case scenario.”

Putting pressure on Brexiteers is also the reason there’s more talk of delaying the U.K.’s departure. At the moment, many Brexit-backers are talking openly about running down the clock to March so they can get the hard Brexit they want. Extending the process — which is easier than many appreciate — takes that strategy off the table.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has continued to call for May to put her deal to a vote principally because its defeat is a necessary precursor for another referendum (or a no-confidence vote pushed by an alliance between Labour, and some combination of rebel Tories, the SNP and the DUP).

“The last 24 hours have shown that Theresa May’s Brexit deal is dead in the water,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “She’s failed to deliver any meaningful changes. Rather than ploughing ahead and recklessly running down the clock, she needs to put her deal to a vote next week so Parliament can take back control.”

The upshot is that the Brexit trainwreck, which has been stuck at an impasse for months, could finally see some meaningful movement in the coming weeks. Which means its a good time to bring back this handy chart illustrating the many different outcomes that could arise:

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Ukraine’s President Says “High” Threat Of Russian Invasion, Urges NATO Entry In Next 5 Years

Poroshenko is trying desperately to hold on to power, even if it means provoking Russia.

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Via Zerohedge


Perhaps still seeking to justify imposing martial law over broad swathes of his country, and attempting to keep international pressure and media focus on a narrative of “Russian aggression,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced what he called the high “threat of Russian invasion” during a press conference on Sunday, according to Bloomberg.

Though what some analysts expected would be a rapid flair up of tit-for-tat incidents following the late November Kerch Strait seizure of three Ukrainian vessels and their crew by the Russian Navy has gone somewhat quiet, with no further major incident to follow, Poroshenko has continued to signal to the West that Russia could invade at any moment.

“The lion’s share of Russian troops remain” along the Russian border with Ukraine, Poroshenko told journalists at a press conference in the capital, Kiev. “Unfortunately, less than 10 percent were withdrawn,” he said, and added: “As of now, the threat of Russian troops invading remains. We have to be ready for this, we won’t allow a repeat of 2014.”

Poroshenko, who declared martial law on Nov. 26, citing at the time possible imminent “full-scale war with Russia” and Russian tank and troop build-up, on Sunday noted that he will end martial law on Dec. 26 and the temporarily suspended presidential campaign will kick off should there be no Russian invasion. He also previously banned all Russian males ages 16-60 from entering Ukraine as part of implementation of 30 days of martial law over ten provinces, though it’s unclear if this policy will be rescinded.

During his remarks, the Ukrainian president said his country should push to join NATO and the EU within the next five years, per Bloomberg:

While declining to announce whether he will seek a second term in the office, Poroshenko said that Ukraine should achieve peace, overcome the consequences of its economic crisis and to meet criteria to join the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during next five years.

But concerning both his retaining power and his ongoing “threat exaggeration” — there’s even widespread domestic acknowledgement that the two are clearly linked.

According to The Globe and Mail:

While Mr. Poroshenko’s domestic rivals accuse him of exaggerating the threat in order to boost his own flagging political fortunes — polls suggest Mr. Poroshenko is on track to lose his job in a March election — military experts say there are reasons to take the Ukrainian president’s warning seriously.

As we observed previously, while European officials have urged both sides to exercise restraint, the incident shows just how easily Russia and the West could be drawn into a military conflict over Ukraine.

Certainly Poroshenko’s words appear designed to telegraph just such an outcome, which would keep him in power as a war-time president, hasten more and massive western military support and aid, and quicken his country’s entry into NATO — the latter which is already treating Ukraine as a de facto strategic outpost.

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The Stampede of the Gadarene Swine: US Leaders Allowing Ukraine to Pull Them into Global War

There is no way in any sane assessment that the Ukrainian forces – and certainly not the neo-Nazi militias recruited in the west of the country to terrorize the east – can be regarded as “brothers” of the US armed forces.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


George Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel was right – Again: The only thing the human race learns from history is that it learns nothing from history.

In 1914,the British Empire, largest in human history and one of the longest-lasting, charged into World War I to defend “gallant little Belgium” whose King Leopold over the previous 30 years had carried out one of the longest, largest genocides of all time, killing 10 million people in the Congo.

Germany, wealthiest, most prosperous nation in Europe, blundered into the same needless war when feckless Kaiser Wilhelm II causally gave sweeping approval to Austria-Hungary to annihilate the tiny nation of Serbia. Millions of brave and idealistic Russians eagerly volunteered to fight in the war to protect “gallant little Serbia.” Most of them died too. There is no record that any of the Serbian leaders after the war visited any of their mass graves.

Now it is the United States’ turn.

Since the end of the Cold War US policymakers, presidents and their congresses have carried out virtually every stupidity and folly imaginable for any major power. The only one they have so far avoided has been the danger of stumbling into a full scale world war.

However, now, with the escalating and increasingly hysterical US support for the shady and risk-taking junta in Kiev, President Donald Trump risks committing that most dire and unforgivable of all horrors.

Trump today is no more than putty in the hands of his national security adviser John Bolton, one of the masterminds of the catastrophe that was the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Bolton is just like his hero Winston Churchill a century ago during World War I. He always gets his way, always gets the wars and battles he wants and bungles them embarrassingly every time. And like the young Churchill, Bolton never learns, never mellows and he never changes. It is always everybody else’s fault.

Churchill finally did grow and learn. His famous activities of the 1930s were not meant to start a new world war with Germany under the far worse leadership of Adolf Hitler: He wanted to avert such a war.

The invaluable diaries of Ivan Maisky, the Soviet Union’s ambassador to Britain through the 1930s make clear that even then Churchill was eager – alone in the British ruling classes – to establish a serious close defensive alliance with Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union. He recognized that would be the only way to box in Hitler and prevent a global catastrophe.

But Bolton has not learned from his hero – Quite the reverse. He is now impelling Trump on a reckless course of empowering the dangerous adventurers who with US support have seized Ukraine and have spent the past nearly five years wrecking it.

Even worse, the same kind of absurd sentimentalizing of an obscure, tiny or unstable ally that doomed Britain, Russia and Germany to unimaginable suffering and loss in 1914 now permeates US decision-makers, strategists and their pontificating pundits about Ukraine. On March 1, 2016, US General Philip Breedlove, then NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) memorably referred to “our Ukrainian brothers and sisters” in a Pentagon press briefing

There is no way in any sane assessment that the ramshackle Ukrainian forces – and certainly not the neo-Nazi militias recruited in the west of the country to terrorize the east – can be regarded as “brothers” of the US armed forces. The US and Soviet troops who met on the River Elbe on April 25, 1945 after advancing a combined more than 2,000 miles to liberate Europe from the darkest tyranny in its history could truly be called “brothers.”

However, the US military today and the Ukrainian forces they are being drawn in to protect certainly are not “brothers and sisters.” No poll has been taken since then across the United States, as far as I am aware as to whether the American people would be willing to risk full-scale nuclear war to defend a government in Ukraine that is demonstrably unpopular among its own people.

Trump was elected president in November 2016 precisely because he was the only candidate in that shock election who unambiguously called for the United States to end its 70-year fixation with getting pulled into one endless war and confrontation after another around the world. It would be the darkest of ironies if instead he took America into its last and most catastrophic conflict – a nuclear confrontation from which there could be no recovery, no escape and no survival.

Britain, Russia and Germany in 1914 were all destroyed by the deliberate plotting and manipulations of vastly smaller or weaker allies run by psychopathic gamblers. The rulers of Kiev today, in their entirely reckless disregard for the dangers of global thermonuclear war clearly fit into that category.

Policymakers in Moscow recognize this dire reality. Their counterparts in Washington remain amazingly totally blind to it. Their only idea of strategy is the suicidal stampede of the Gadarene Swine in the Gospels off the end of a cliff. And they are taking the entire human race with them.

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