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Russia claims White Helmets staged Douma attack; will US strike destroy evidence?

“There Wasn’t A Single Corpse” report the Russians from the scene of the alleged chemical attack in Syria

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It looks like the US is preparing for a major attack on Syria, in supposed retaliation for alleged chemical weapons use in Douma.

But there is currently no evidence put forward that the Syrian government used chemical weapons – or that chemical weapons were used at all in Douma.

Logic and prior events reveal this is likely a false flag attack. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has certainly had no time to get on the ground and conduct an investigation, nor have any other international bodies.

The UN has already said they are unable to independently verify if chemical weapons were used, yet the United States insists this is the case without any proof.

With a massive US missile attack likely ahead, it may already be too late to confirm the facts on the ground.

One of the most pressing questions is: If the US attacks Syria now, will that destroy or otherwise make unrecoverable, any evidence proving that Syria and Assad did NOT perform the attack.

Douma is already filled with Russian military police, so one would hope the United States wouldn’t dare strike the military of a nuclear superpower.

The Russian military on the scene have already confirmed they have found no evidence of chemical weapons use. A scientific investigation can take weeks, and a US missile strike does not exactly furnish the proper environment for an investigation.

Currently, the only first hand “evidence” put forward of a chemical attack comes from the White Helemts, a group with already proven terrorists connections.

“There wasn’t a single corpse”: Russia Claims ‘White Helmets’ Staged Syria Chemical Attack

An excellent report from Zero Hedge provides insight into this latest false flag:

Russia claims that the reported chemical attack in Syria last Sunday was staged by the “white helmets,” a US-funded NGO lauded by mainstream media for their humanitarian work, while long-suspected of performing less-than humanitarian deeds behind the curtain.

Speaking with EuroNews, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizov, said “Russian military specialists have visited this region, walked on those streets, entered those houses, talked to local doctors and visited the only functioning hospital in Douma, including its basement where reportedly the mountains of corpses pile up. There was not a single corpse and even not a single person who came in for treatment after the attack.”

“But we’ve seen them on the video!” responds EuroNews correspondent Andrei Beketov.

There was no chemical attack in Douma, pure and simple,” responds Chizov. “We’ve seen another staged event. There are personnel, specifically trained – and you can guess by whom – amongst the so-called White Helmets, who were already caught in the act with staged videos.”

Russia said it sent experts in radiological, chemical and biological warfare – along with medics, in order to inspect the Eastern Ghouta city of Douma where the attack is said to have taken place.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the experts “found no traces of the use of chemical agents,” following a search of the sites, adding “All these facts show… that no chemical weapons were used in the town of Douma, as it was claimed by the White Helmets.”

All the accusations brought by the White Helmets, as well as their photos… allegedly showing the victims of the chemical attack, are nothing more than a yet another piece of fake news and an attempt to disrupt the ceasefire,” said the Russian Reconciliation Center.

In a statement to the UN Security Council on April 9, Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia outlined Russia’s position on the timeline of the attack in Douma, as well as the Western response after the White Helmets reported that chemical agents were used:

On April 6, the new head of Jaysh al-Islam, following instructions of sponsors, derailed the evacuation of a party of fighters from Douma and resumed the rocket and mortar fire against residential areas in Damascus. The firing targeted [indistinct name of four areas]. According to official information, eight people died. 37 civilians were wounded. Unfortunately, we failed to see statements from Western capitals condemning the shelling of a historical district of Damascus. The following day, April 7, fighters accused the Syrian authorities of dropping barrel bombs with toxic substances. At the same time, diversions were being mixed up. It was either called sarin, chlorine, or a mix of toxic gases. Based on a well-known scheme, these rumors were immediately taken out by those who are financed by western capitalists; I am referring to NGOs and the White Helmets who are mendaciously acting under the cloak of health professionals. And these reports were also taken up and transferred to media outlets.

It behooves us once again to state that many of these dubious structures have a clear list of the email addresses of representatives of Security Council members, which shows that some of our colleagues, with a reckless approach towards their status, are leaking sensitive information to their protégés. Incidentally, all should recall the way that accidentally, the White Helmets put on the internet a video which showed preparations for staging a so-called victim of an alleged attack perpetrated by the Syrian army. 

Indeed, over the last several years, reports out of Syria have been criticized as being primarily of anti-Assad origin and unverified.

In a speech at the UN, pro-Assad Canadian journalist and RT contributor Eva Bartlett gave her account of what’s going on with reports out of Syria – calling western sources “compromised” and “not credible.”

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Theresa May told President Trump on Tuesday that Britain would require more evidence in last weekend’s suspected chemical attack before committing to a military strike against Syria, reports The Times.

The prime minister rejected a swift retaliation as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) prepared to visit the Damascus suburb where at least 40 people were reported to have been killed by chlorine gas on Saturday. –The Times

May chaired a meeting of the national security council in London this week, where she spoke with Presidents Trump and Macron for the first time since the Douma chemical attack. It is reported that Trump, who’s had a remarkable change of heart on U.S. involvement in Syria since the election, did not ask the UK to join military strikes.

A No 10 read-out of her call with the US president stated that they agreed the international community “needed to respond” but stopped short of blaming the Syrian regime. “They agreed that reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria were utterly reprehensible and if confirmed, represented further evidence of the Assad regime’s appalling cruelty against its own people and total disregard for its legal obligations not to use these weapons,” it said. –The Times

President Trump also appears to have backed off an imminent strike after promising Syria would “pay a big price,” and that the U.S. response would be decided by Wednesday. Trump reportedly canceled travel plans after reports emerged that Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria would complicate matters in the region.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said that the U.S. is still assessing intelligence on the alleged chemical attack, saying in a statement “we’re still working on this.” In the same breath, Mattis said the United States is “ready” to provide military options for Syria. 

The Elephant in the Room: who benefits if Syria is attacked?

There is a recurring curse upon the Syrian lands. Whenever Syria is on the verge of destroying terrorism, she comes under attack by a foreign power. This often allows the terrorists to regroup, or to retreat.

The terrorists have been on the verge of complete annihilation by Russian-Syrian forces. They know the only thing that can save them is a foreign – possibly US intervention. This gives them all the motivation they need to create false flag attacks, as we have seen before, and as we see now in Douma.

Now, based on Donald Trump’s recent bombastic comments, and the deployments of a massive US strike force, that attack seems imminent.

All the more reason that the following point must be raised again:

Why would Assad perform a chemical attack on his own people, when he is openly winning the war? He is under constant pressure from nations looking for excuses to attack him, in order to save their losing proxies.

Why would he give them this excuse?

Why would he create the scenario that would lead to his own downfall, when he is already winning? If you don’t understand, these two maps of Syria explain the situation perfectly:

The photo on the left is taken from August 2015 shortly before the Russian intervention in Syria. On the right is April 11th, 2018, showing Syria’s government (Red) has regained most of its core territory including Aleppo.

On the left, we see Syria in 2015, before Russia intervened. ISIS (black) looked like it was going to conquer both Syria and Iraq. Today, after the Russian intervention, Assad’s Syrian government (red) has reclaimed much of the country, and ISIS has been decimated.

A full-scale US intervention against Syria would be catastrophic for Assad, but wonderful for the terrorists who are on the verge of being destroyed. That alone explains why he would not be inclined to perform such an attack.

All of this, we have already discussed in this article:

Israel’s shadow interests: warned US about strike on Syria, did NOT warn Russia

Dangerous times are upon us again in Syria, and the coming days may bring with them shocking developments. We here at The Duran will keep you informed.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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