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The Olympic Movement: Heading for a Split?

The campaign to ban Russian athletes from participating in the Rio Olympics will over time result in parallel sporting events being created.

Alexander Mercouris

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As of the time of writing there is no information about the decision the International Olympic Committee will take in response to the WADA report.  However all the indications point to an outright ban on the Russian team from participating in the Olympic Games in Rio.

I would add that WADA seems to be lobbying to ban Russia not just from the Olympic Games in Rio but from all international sports competition.  That would presumably include the World Cup.  If Russia is banned from the Rio Olympics – as I expect – then I would not be surprised to see a renewed campaign to strip Russia of the World Cup.

I would like to make a few further points:

(1) My objections to the WADA report, and to the whole way in which this affair is being conducted, centre on the lack of due process, the abandonment of fundamental principles of fairness, and the meting out of collective punishment against Russian athletes based on their nationality.  I do not say that there was no doping problem within Russian sports.  The Russian authorities admit there was.  The problem is that the manner in which this affair has been conducted makes it impossible to trust the findings in the WADA report.  There would need to be a far more detailed and thorough investigation – one which questioned all the individuals concerned and which made all its evidence public – before findings of the sort made by the WADA report could be confidently accepted.  However I want to emphasise that even if all the claims of systematic state sponsored doping by the Russian authorities made in the WADA report are true, they would still not in my opinion justify a blanket ban on Russian athletes, many of whom may be wholly innocent.  Nor would they entitle the sports authorities to strip Russian athletes of the presumption of innocence.  Rather what they should result in is lifetime bans on all those involved and criminal action against them.

(2) In light of the absence of press coverage of the case, for the reasons I have discussed previously, I no longer have much hope of the case in Lausanne.  I am not saying by the way that there are secret communications between those behind the campaign to ban Russian athletes and bodies like the IOC, the IAAF and the Court in Lausanne.  The trouble is that since international sports became wholly professionalised the sort of sports administrators and officials who make up these organisations are too heavily involved in the commercial world – which is dominated by Western money and Western interests – to risk their careers by taking a stand.  I remember Lord Killanin – the President of the IOC at the time of the Moscow Olympic boycott in 1980, when Olympic sports were still nominally amateur.  People like him were immune to the kind of pressure we are seeing today.  In the very different world of today sports administrators and officials no longer are, which is why I have no great hopes of either the IOC or the Court in Lausanne.

(3) It seems to me that those behind the campaign to ban Russian athletes from participating in the Rio Olympics appear once again to have miscalculated the Russian reaction.  When the allegations of systematic state sponsored doping first circulated last year I suspect they expected the Russians to respond according to their Hollywood stereotype: with defiance, bluster and threats, and with a complete refusal to cooperate.  That would have made it much easier – though still wrong – to justify a call for a blanket ban.  Instead the Russians responded in a more sophisticated way – admitting there was a problem, offering cooperation, and putting in place arrangements which would satisfy any reasonable person that any Russian athletes who competed in Rio would do so cleanly.

Predictably that only made those behind the campaign angry, and even more determined to have their way.  The result is the campaign we have seen over the last few months – which I discussed in my previous article – and the latest WADA report and the way it was published, which finally caused the mask to slip and made the politicised nature of the campaign all too obvious.  This has put Putin in the position where he could convincingly make the statement pointing to the political motives behind the campaign that he made yesterday.  Whilst the Western public knows nothing of any of this, the publics in Russia and sports bodies and officials around the world of course do, and are now perfectly aware of who is actually behind the campaign and of the true reasons for it.

(4) Notwithstanding this I do not expect any other country to boycott the Olympics in solidarity with Russia, and I do not expect the Russians to call for such a boycott.  However with sports bodies and sports officials around the world having seen the ruthless way the Western powers have conducted themselves in this affair, some of them will no doubt be asking the question: who is next?  Whilst I don’t expect there to be a formal secession from the Olympic movement, I predict that over time parallel sporting events will be established – just as is happening in the world of global finance with the parallel financial institutions that are now being created by China, and as is of course also happening in the world of international media – if only as a means of insurance against something like this happening again.  With sports now wholly professionalised and with the Russians and Chinese able easily to cap any cash rewards athletes get for winning, I would not be surprised if these events attract more and more of the best athletes, including in time those from the West.  Though there will probably not be a formal split, the dominance of the Olympic movement in world sport will as a result diminish.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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