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Russia and Laos intensify ties

Laos and Russia have agreed to continue broadening their cooperation in trade, economic, scientific and technical affairs.




Quietly, without much ado or loud noise, the Russian Federation has intensified its relations to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic during the last decade. It went almost unnoticed by the so-called mainstream media of the West, which are busy writing about the Ukraine conflict, the Syria conflict, the Venezuela conflict, and all kinds of other global conflicts. At the present time, there are surely no conflicts in Laos, although this country has had its fare share of wars and destruction in the past. The Russians sell weapons to Laos. On the 20th of January 2019, newly delivered Russian tanks and armoured vehicles were displayed at the military parade in Vientiane, on the occasion of the 70th birthday of Lao People’s Armed Forces. Furthermore, Russian sappers are helping to de-mine Laos and to build new hydropower plants. Overall, ties between both countries are intensifying, as Russia is very interested in the Southeastern region of Asia.

Laos is a landlocked country in Southeastern Asia, bordered by Vietnam in the East, Thailand in the West, Cambodia in the South, China and Myanmar in the North. Vientiane is the capital and largest city, located on the banks of the Mekong River, near the border with Thailand. Sixty-five percent of Laos’ inhabitants are Buddhists.

Laos is one of Russia’s strategic partners in the Asia-Pacific region. Diplomatic ties between the two countries were established in 1960. Since then, Laos and Russia have been connected by a close relationship. With the assistance of the Soviet Union many projects in the fields of transport infrastructure, healthcare and education were implemented in Laos. About 8.000 Lao citizens received higher education in Soviet and later Russian universities.

Even after the breakup of the USSR in 1991, these good relations continued. In 1994, Laos and the Russian Federation signed an agreement on the foundation of friendly relations. Both parties retained common views on crucial international issues and continued cooperating in various spheres. Cooperation has been rapidly evolving in the last few years in connection with the generally increased interest of the Russian Federation in South East Asia.

“Russian-made tanks T-72 and armored vehicles BRDM-2M amphibious armored patrol cars took part in the parade on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Lao People’s Armed Forces” (INTERFAX, 20.01.2019). The tanks were delivered to Laos at the request of the president of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic as part of military-technical aid. Earlier, Laos had already received four Yakovlev Yak-130 aircraft from Russia under a contract signed in 2017.

In addition, the Russian Defence Ministry opened its representative office in the Lao capital Vientiane, in implementation of a Lao-Russian intergovernmental agreement. “The opening ceremony was attended by Laotian Defence Minister Lieutenant General Sengnuan Xayalat and Major General Alexander Kshimovsky, the chief of the Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation, who heads Russia’s military delegation on a working visit to Vientiane” (TASS, 20.01.2019).

Russia wants to expand military and military-technical cooperation between Moscow and Vientiane in areas such as training Lao soldiers in military schools subordinate to the Russian Defense Ministry, organizing trips of Russian military experts as consultants to assist Laos in building its armed forces and in using Russian-made weapons and military equipment.

How was this military equipment paid for? “Traditionally, the Lao military does not like to reveal the true cost of such purchases, using national security as an explanation for its silence. The cost of the Russian heavy weapons has not been published yet, but Laos doesn’t pay Russia in cash, some local newspapers reported. A source close to a high-ranking Lao military officer said that the Lao government is giving Russia the concession of mining and development projects in exchange. Russia is already surveying mines in Laos” (RADIO FREE ASIA, 28.12.2018).

Neither has the Russian Defence Ministry declosed any further details, so we may keep guessing, how Laos will pay for the Russian weapons and which mines the Russians inspected. Certainly, the mining concessions will be a good deal, since Laos is very rich in mineral deposits. More than 540 mineral deposits of gold, copper, zinc, lead and other minerals have been identified and are being explored in the Southeastern country of Asia.

The government of Laos sent back 30 old Russian tanks to Moscow. The World War II vintage T-34 tanks were in active service with the Lao military forces until recently. At the beginning of the year 2019, they were shipped by sea to Vladivostok, Russia’s Far Eastern port. From there, the vehicles went by rail to Naro-Fominsk outside Moscow. They will be used in various Russian cities for the Victory Parades. The vintage tanks will also update Russian museum exhibits and play a role in historical films about the “Great Patriotic War”, as World War II is called in Russia.

“Working T-34s frequently appear in Russia’s annual Victory Day parades. They’re also a cinematic draw. The Russian government sponsored the 2019 historical action film T-34, which is about … the T-34. In the first week of its nationwide release on the 1st of January 2019, the movie raked in more than $15 million, making it the top Russian movie at the time. More than four million people saw the movie in that period” (THE NATIONAL INTEREST, 10.01.2019).

Speaking of wars, Laos has had its fair share of those. During the War against Vietnam, the US forces bombed Laos as well. Massive aerial bombardment of Laos by the USA killed millions of people. Between 1964 and 1973, the USA dropped two million tons of bombs on Laos, making Laos the most heavily bombed country in history, relative to the size of its population. The New York Times noted this was “nearly a ton for every person in Laos”.

Many US bombs failed to explode and remain scattered throughout the country, rendering vast swathes of land impossible to cultivate and killing or maiming 50 Laotians every year. Due to the particularly heavy impact of cluster bombs during this war, Laos was a strong advocate of the Convention on Cluster Munitions to ban these weapons.

From October 2018 until March 2019, Russian specialists in Laos are helping to de-mine the country. In October 2018, the first detachment of the International Mine Action Centre of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation started its de-mining mission in the village of Lak Sao, Bolikhamsay province. The ceremony dedicated to the start of this dangerous and complex work was attended by Lao Deputy Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Onsi Sensuk, representatives of the Directorate of the Chief of Engineers of the Russian Armed Forces, and heads of the administrative regions of Bolikhamsay province.

Besides, there were soldiers of the de-mining detachment of the People’s Army of Laos, with whom the Russian detachment established cooperation. The Deputy Defence Minister of Laos thanked the Russian engineers for their readiness to render assistance in clearing the Lao territory. As part of the event, the Lao representatives were shown the means of engineering equipment. They also learned about mine clearance procedures of the Russian Armed Forces.

The squad of Russian sappers is equipped with modern means of searching and detecting explosive objects (IMP-S2 inductive portable mine-detecting sets, MBI-P2 man-portable magnetometric mine detector, MG-1I mine detectors, INVU-3M portable detector of noncontact explosive devices) and OVR-2-02 personal protection fitted with a cooling system (Press Release, October 2018, Russian Defence Ministry).

By December 2018, the Russian sappers had already cleared more than 40 hectares of mines. The team of 36 de-miners plan to clear over 100 hectares of mines in Laos until March 2019 (TASS, 24.12.2018).

Russia is lending a helping hand to Laos in various ways. In the summer of 2018, the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric dam broke in Laos, which caused the flooding of the Attapeu region, killing 35 people and displacing about 6.000 people. The Russian Ministry of Emergencies sent an IL-76 plane carrying 36 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the city of

Vientiane. The goods included portable power plants, tents, blankets, boats, utensils and food (TASS, 24.08.2018).

The accident raised concerns about dam safety. The Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam is one of five planned on a tributary of the Mekong. It is due for completion in 2019. In recent years, Laos has invested heavily in hydroelectric power. The country sells much of this electricity abroad, which makes up 30 percent of its exports. The Lao government plans to double current energy production by 2020 to become the “battery of South East Asia”.

The Russian Federation is assisting Laos in dam planning and management. Already in 2017, Russia’s Inter RAO Engineering, A-RKSYENS and Electricité du Laos Generation Public Company signed an agreement on the project for construction of the Sekong 5 hydropower plant in southern Laos. The signing ceremony in Vientiane was witnessed by the Lao Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines, Sinnava Souphanouvong, and the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Laos, Mikhail Baranov.

The Sekong 5 plant will have a capacity of 330 Megawatt. From 10 to 20 percent of the electricity generated will be used in Laos, 80 to 90 percent will be sold to Thailand. This hydropower plant means a significant boost to the development in the Xekong province. The project is located near the village of Talooy Ghai in the Xekong River basin. It includes a 199 metre high dam that will create a reservoir stretching about 50 km up to the border with Vietnam. Xekong 5 is one of the key investment projects in the economic cooperation agenda between Laos and the Russian Federation (ASIA NEWS  NETWORK, 21.07.2017).

Furthermore, tourism was boosted after the governments of Russia and Laos decided to cancel visas, in 2016. Lao and Russian citizens can enter each other’s country for up to 30 days without an entry visa. Russia is the 11th country, with which Laos has a visa exemption agreement.

Education is another priority on the list of cooperation. “ The good tradition of training personnel for Laos in Russia is continuing. In 2017, almost 100 people from Laos went to study at various Russian universities,” said Mikhail Baranov, the Russian Ambassador to Laos. “ The annual increase in the number of scholarships allocated to Lao nationals became a tradition after the reestablishment of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Vientiane, in 2013. This centre successfully promotes Russian culture and language in Laos. We have witnessed a striking interest among Lao people in our country,” he added (VIENTIANE TIMES, 05.07.2018).

In addition, Laos and Russia have agreed to continue broadening their cooperation in trade, economic, scientific and technical affairs. In November 2018, the 14th session of the Joint Laos-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation took place in Vientiane.

During the session, the two parties agreed to boost cooperation in the public and private sectors across a range of fields such as political relations, banking and finance, trade and investment, telecommunications, culture, education and public health. Russia and Laos are keen to share knowledge in the fields of science and technology, natural resources and the environment, agriculture and medical sciences (VIENTIANE TIMES, 03.12.2018).

Laos has an embassy in Moscow, Russia’s embassy is located in Vientiane. Normally, Russian tourists or visitors on business in Laos want to try out Laotian cuisine. When they get homesick for Russian food, they can eat at the “Pon its website in Russian and English Privet” restaurant in Vientiane, which offers a large variety of typically Russian dishes on its website in Russian and English.

The address is Ban Don Pa Mai, Vientiane 01000, Laos. Tel: +856 20 78 097 784.

“Privet” – “Hello” from Russia and Laos.

Olivia Kroth: The journalist and author of four books lives in Moscow.
Her blog:

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Terry WallOlivia KrothNormski1 Recent comment authors
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While USA and NATO go around the world destroying other country’s and stealing natural resources, Russia gets quietly on with building relationships and alliances with other nations. I think it’s called diplomacy but of course, the word diplomacy doesn’t appear anywhere in the US dictionary!.

Olivia Kroth

Yes, Normski.
And furthermore, Russian sappers are de-mining Laos. They are clearing the debris left from the times when the US bombed Laos.

Terry Wall
Terry Wall

Spot on as usual Normski..
Keep safe


Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence





Via RT…

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.




Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:

It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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Americans: Are you represented in Congress by a stooge of Saudi Crown Prince Salman?

The Sauds’ plan is to saturation-bomb the narrow access-route that supplies all food into the Houthis’ region of Yemen so as to starve the Houthis to death and thereby enable Prince Salman’s stooge to run Yemen.

Eric Zuesse



Submitted by Eric Zuesse:

You can find out here by clicking there to see how your Representative and your two Senators voted on the resolution to stop U.S. arming and aid to Prince Salman’s war to starve millions of Houthis to death. In neither house did the resolution pass with enough votes to be able to override Salman’s stooge Trump’s veto of it, and so our Government will continue to support this extermination.

The Sauds’ plan is to saturation-bomb the narrow access-route that supplies all food into the Houthis’ region of Yemen so as to starve the Houthis to death and thereby enable Prince Salman’s stooge to run Yemen.

This plan would have no chance to succeed if the U.S. withdrew its backing of and participation in it.

“If we suspend providing spare parts for their F-15s, their air force would be grounded in two weeks” — Robert Jordan, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

In other words: this slaughter-campaign isn’t only Prince Salman’s, it is Trump’s, too. In fact, you can see the entire Saudi-led coalition that’s backing this extermination-campaign, by clicking here.

So: if your vote means anything at all, and if you voted for a Representative and/or for one or both of the Senators who backs stooge Trump on this extermination-campaign, then you, too, are actually supporting this exterminationist government — today’s U.S. Government — and not only supporting Crown Prince Salman’s effort to take over Yemen.

Back when Barack Obama was the U.S. President, there was bipartisan support in both houses of Congress for Prince Salman’s extermination-campaign in Yemen and therefore no such possibility for stopping it; but, now, as the 2020 U.S. Presidential campaign is getting under way, Democrats especially have come out publicly against it, because the Republican President, Trump, is so strongly in favor of it, and so the Yemen-issue can help win the voters who want “Change.” Nonetheless, for example in the Senate, Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Todd Young, Jerry Moran, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Steve Daines, and Mike Lee, joined all Democratic Senators and both Independent Senators, in supporting this resolution, which the current, Republican, President, Trump, then vetoed, thus continuing the U.S. Government’s decades-long service as a vassal-nation to the Saud family — even if not also to Israel’s Government, as well. (Israel, of course, being far more favored by America’s voters than is Saudi Arabia, presents far more danger for members of Congress to oppose than Saudi Arabia does; and, so, there are no resolutions in Congress that challenge Israel as the current resolutions have been challenging Saudi Arabia. And even the congressional challenges to the Sauds might be basically for political show, rather than serious policy-positions.)

The present news-report, including its links that enable any reader to know where each of his/her supposed representatives (or else Saud-stooges) stand on this extermination-campaign, is being submitted simultaneously to all U.S. national news-media, so that Americans (or at least ones who are receiving honest news that’s linked to all its sources so that you can decide for yourself what the facts are) can become easily informed regarding the true character of the given citizen’s federal representatives. To vote in ignorance is slavery.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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