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Russia Strengthens its Black Sea Fleet

As Russia deploys new frigates and submarines, the Black Sea is becoming a Russian lake.

Alexander Mercouris

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Since securing control of its Sevastopol naval base in Crimea the Russian navy has acted to strengthen Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The first of a new series of naval frigates – the Admiral Grigorovich – joined the fleet on Thursday.  Admiral Grigorovich will shortly be joined by her sister, Admiral Essen, and thereafter -probably next year – by a further sister, Admiral Makarov,

These are advanced frigates equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles, supersonic Oniks anti-ship missiles, a 100 mm naval gun, Shtil anti aircraft missiles (a naval variant of the well-known Buk missile system) and a Kamov KA26 helicopter.

The three Admiral Grigorovich class frigates are the first large surface warships to have joined the Russian Black Sea Fleet since the USSR’s collapse.  All the other major surface ships in service with the Black Sea Fleet were built before 1980, with the oldest – the guided missile destroyer Smetlivy – dating from 1969.

The arrival of the Admiral Grigorovich therefore reverses a long history of decay, with the status of the Black Sea Fleet left previously uncertain by doubts over the future of the fleet’s key base at Sevastopol.

The original plan was to provide the Black Sea Fleet with a force of 6 Admiral Grigorovich class frigates.  That project has been at the very least delayed because of the need to find Russian built replacements for the Ukrainian built engines used by the last three members of this class, which are still under construction.  Whilst an alternative Russian engine has been sourced from NPO Saturn in Rybinsk, it seems it may not be available until 2020, with the navy prioritising its use for its more advanced Admiral Gorshkov class frigates, which are intended for the Northern and Pacific Fleets. There is apparently now a suggestion that construction of the three remaining Admiral Grigorovich class frigates be discontinued, or that the frigates be completed after 2020 and then sold abroad, so that more resources can be allocated to building more of the advanced Admiral Gorshkov class frigates, some of which might eventually also be deployed to the Black Sea.

The three Admiral Grigorovich class frigates are only the most visible reinforcement of the Black Sea Fleet.  Of at least equal importance is the deployment of 6 advanced Varshavyanka diesel-electric submarines to the Black Sea Fleet, which has taken place since 2014.

Diesel-electric submarines are inherently quieter than nuclear powered submarines and are arguably more suited to the confined waters of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Varshavyanka submarines are state-of-the-art and are sometimes referred to as “black holes” because of their ability to evade NATO acoustic sensors.  They also possess a potent armament, being able to carry not just advanced torpedoes but also Kalibr cruise missiles, which they can launch from underwater.  One of the new Varshavyanka class submarines belonging to the Black Sea Fleet, the Rostov-on-Don, demonstrated this capability when it launched Kalibr cruise missiles from a position in the eastern Mediterranean against rebel positions in Syria last year.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet represents only a fraction of the forces at Russia’s disposal in the Black Sea region.  Air bases in Crimea, the northern Caucasus and southern Russia give Russia an overwhelming advantage against surface ships.  Crimea itself, located centrally in the Black Sea, is in all essentials an unsinkable aircraft carrier.  The Russians moreover demonstrated during the 2014 Crimean crisis their ability to deploy rapidly to the Black Sea region supersonic land-based Bastion anti-ship missiles, which provide a further potent capability against any NATO warships that find themselves in the Black Sea.

Though the Black Sea Fleet itself remains a diminished force compared to its Soviet heyday, the Black Sea is once again a Russian lake.

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NXIVM Sex-Cult Prosecutors Have Evidence Of Illegal Clinton Campaign Contributions For “Political Influence”

NXIVM’s Clinton connections have been known for some time.

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Via Zerohedge


US Attorney Richard Donoghue asked a federal judge last month for permission to present a mountain of new evidence in the NXIVM sex-cult trial – including evidence of an “illegal scheme to exceed contribution limits to a presidential primary campaign,” in the “hopes of obtaining political influence to advance their own agenda,” according to a March court filing.

“At the suggestion of a political operative, who has since pleaded guilty to an unrelated New York state bribery charge also involving campaign contributions, the contributions were “bundled” and presented to the candidate at a fundraising event attended by conspirators,” the filing continues.

And whose “presidential primary campaign” did the group allegedly attempt to buy influence with?

None other than Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to former NXIVM publicist-turned-whistleblower Frank Parlato, who told Big League Politics “I was there, and I knew that the contributions were made by more than a dozen NXIVM members to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

At present, the judge overseeing the case has not responded on the case docket.

Founded by accused pedophile Keith Raniere, NXIVM started out as a multi-level-marketing self-help business for people who wanted to “reach their potential” through various courses.

NXIVM’s Clinton connections have been known for some time 

After being run out of Arkansas in the early ’90s by then-Governor Bill Clinton’s attorney general on charges of fraud and business deception, Raniere and NXIVM executives emerged a decade later only to donate $29,900 to Hillary Clinton’s 2006 presidential campaign a decade later. At least three NXIVM officials are (or were) “invitation-only” members of the Clinton Global Initiative, according to the New York Post.

Meanwhile, NXIVM’s ‘inner sanctum’ turns out to have been sex-cult known as ‘DOS’ – which Parletto says stands for “dominus obsequious sororium,” or “master over the slave women.”

A 2009 photo of Raniere in Albany, New York, where Mack bought a house to be closer to the Nxivm founder.

Raniere’s inner cadre included Seagrams heiresses Clare and Sara bronfman, who joined NXIVM in 2002 and subsequently contributed $150 million of their inheritance to the organization, while Claire bought 80% of Wakaya island off the coast of Fiji for $47 million in 2016, according to Vanity Fair.

Female members of DOS – such as former Smallville actress Allison Mack, would procure women for Raniere – who required that prospective “slaves” upload compromising collateral into a Dropbox account. One such recruit-turned-coach was India Oxenberg – daughter of Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenbergwho met with prosecutors in New York in late 2017 to present evidence against Raniere.

Allison Mack

Raniere and Mack were arrested on federal charges which include sex trafficking, forced labor, wire fraud conspiracy, human trafficking and other counts. Most recently, Raniere was accused of having sex with children and producing kiddie porn, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Mack – who allegedly held the second-most-senior position in NXIVM, pleaded guilty earlier this month to racketeering charges and manipulating women into becoming sex slaves.”I believed Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people, and I was wrong,” a tearful Mack told a Brooklyn judge. “I know I can and will be a better person,” she added.

Prior to his death, Clare and Sara’s father, Seagrams founder and former president of the World Jewish Congress Edgar Bronfman (whose funeral Hillary Clinton spoke at), told Vanity Fair of NXIVM “I think it’s a cult.”

Edgar Bronfman Sr. receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1999

A cult which tried to buy favor with Hillary Clinton, allegedly.

(March filing below, P. 24)

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Tulsi Gabbard: Trump is ‘Saudi Arabia’s servant’ as he refused to end US support of Yemen war

Tulsi tweets: “By vetoing War Powers Act, Trump again proves he’s the servant of Saudi Arabia.”

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Tulsi Gabbard, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has called President Donald Trump’s decision to veto a bill seeking to end US support for the Yemen war nothing less than proof he serves Saudi Arabia.

By vetoing the bill dubbed the War Powers Act, Trump again “proves he’s the servant of Saudi Arabia – the theocratic dictatorship spending billions spreading the most extreme and intolerant form of Islam around the world, supporting al-Qaeda & other jihadists, and waging genocidal war in Yemen with US help,” Gabbard said in an emotional tweet.

The War Powers resolution, approved in the House of Representatives in April and the Senate in March, was vetoed by President Donald Trump, who said it was an “unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members.”

In the video that accompanies the tweet, Gabbard is heard saying that the US is complicit “in this genocide that’s causing millions of people to starve and suffer.” She accused Trump of being “more interested in pleasing the Saudis that doing what is right.”

This is by no means the first time Gabbard has attacked Trump over Saudi Arabia. Last year, she tweeted: “Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia’s b*tch is not ‘America First.’”

Since a Saudi-led coalition started the military offensive against Yemen in 2015, an estimated 60,000 Yemenis have died due to the conflict, and another 85,000 have succumbed to famine and malnutrition. Airstrikes conducted often with munitions supplied by the US and its allies frequently target areas with civilians. The Saudis say they are acting in support of the exiled president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, against the Yemeni Houthis who control most of the country. Riyadh and its Western allies accuse the opposition group of being proxies of Iran.

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Is Lori Loughlin’s Daughter Olivia Jade Now Under Investigation?

Both Olivia Jade and Bella are technically still University of Southern California students whose accounts are on hold while the university reviews their cases.

The Duran

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Via Yahoo News…


Another day, another “ruh-ro” in the ongoing Operation Varsity Blues saga. After Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges in the college admissions scam on Monday, the Daily Mail now reports one of their two daughters—either influencer/vlogger Olivia Jade, 19, or Bella Giannulli, 20—has received a “target letter” declaring her the subject of an investigation by the Department of Justice.

As The New York Times reported earlier this week, “at least some children of the parents who were charged in the scandal have received so-called target letters, which notify people that they could be targets of a criminal probe.” So far, no students (read: kids of the dozens of parents) allegedly involved in the scandal have been charged.

Internet sleuths are now, inevitably, speculating that the daughter in question could be Bella, who deleted her Instagram account this week. (Her sister’s remains active.) Both Olivia Jade and Bella are technically still University of Southern California students whose accounts are on hold while the university reviews their cases; their parents, Loughlin and Giannulli, stand accused of paying $500,000 to Operation Varsity Blues ringleader William “Rick” Singer to pass their daughters off as crew recruits. Some of the high-profile parents charged, including Felicity Huffman, have pleaded guilty in hopes of reduced sentences, though prosecutors are still seeking a four- to 10-month jail sentencefor the actress. But on Monday, Loughlin and Giannulli entered not guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, and are vowing to fight the charges.

One potential line of defense? Loughlin and Giannulli—because, reminder, it wasn’t only the moms who were allegedly involved in the scam—were just trying really, really hard to help their kids, according to the L.A. Times, in this cultural moment of “parenting on steroids.” For future reference, though, steroid possession is also illegal.

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