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Shut down, but not out: How can RT triumph over NatWest?

RT UK must rethink its strategy in order to remain in its London office.

Haneul Na'avi

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“There is an imperialism that deserves all [honour] and respect — an imperialism of service in the discharge of great duties. But with too many it is the sense of domination and aggrandisement, the glorification of power. The price of peace is eternal vigilance”.

— Leonard H. Courtney, President of the British Statistical Society

The ongoing bickering between Russia’s RT news channel and Royal Bank of Scotland subsidy NatWest has polarised into polemics over freedom of speech on one end, and baseless drivel on the other.

Without explaining itself for weeks, then finally citing ’poor ratings’, NatWest officially severed ties with RT, leaving the channel’s employees and supporters reeling in confusion and anger.The Duran’s Alex Christoforou exclaimed.

“We only wish the UK government and its crony bank would grow a pair, and just admit that they are trying to shut down RT’s operations in the UK because the United States and VP Joe Biden gave then the order to do so”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed condemnation:

“Actions of this sort […] by the UK media regulator, OFCOM, are part of attempts to oust from the British media space an internationally popular broadcaster that offers an alternative point of view on global affairs”.

It is certainly questionable that 4 billion viewers—over 65 times the UK population before triggering Article 50—qualifies as ‘poor ratings’ by OFCOM standards. Notwithstanding concerns of a post-Brexit economy, NatWest chose falling on its sword over keeping the British economy afloat.

This was evidenced by a wave of solidarity voiced by British citizens, businessmen, trade unions and fans of RT, prompting ridicule and even threats to close NatWest accounts.  One commentator tweeted.

“Dear #NatWest you should stick 2 #banking & not try 2 dictate our politics. I’ve just closed my account in view of you blocking.”

The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB-ML) even initiated protests in front of NatWest and RBS branches across Birmingham and London, and released a full statement in response.

“The BBC and the corporate media are constantly attempting to prepare British people for a military confrontation with Russia, which would be catastrophic for British workers,” the organisation mentioned.

We must not allow such blatant bias and propaganda to go unchallenged, [and] fight the interference of NatWest in the affairs of Russia Today which operates legally and fairly in Britain.”

A London CPGB-ML cadre highlighted during a RUPTLY interview:

“RT is a fantastic source of news that gives a different side of the story from most other media outlets. If you say that you have freedom of speech, democracy, and freedom of the press, it’s important to have a variety of sources […] We saw the same thing happen last year when we saw the Cooperative bank shut down the Palestine Solidarity Campaign accounts.”

Nevertheless, voicing indignation can spread awareness, but does not guarantee success, and not even RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan’s “Long live freedom of speech” rant can stop British enterprises from having the freedom to make poor decisions.

Speaking of which, RBS is no stranger to self-sabotage. Whether the English High Court indicts RBS CEO Ross McEwan for “ample support for an inference of fraud and dishonesty at the highest level”, or the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) fines RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank 56 million GBP for its massive 2012 IT snafu, which disappeared remittances for over 6.5 million customers overnight, it will continue this dishonourable tradition with RT.

RBS was even dubbed “the Vampire Bank” after a whistleblower caught the bank bloodletting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to save its own neck during the 2008 financial crisis.  Channel 4 reported

“Lawrence Tomlinson […] told MPs that RBS was a ‘vampire’ bank which has systematically destroyed small businesses by its ruthless treatment of entrepreneurs.”

So, why the indignation? RT could more easily safeguard its finances in a soiled mattress in Brixton than trust the RBS and its subsidiaries.

Despite these shortcomings, “freedom of speech” arguments hold very little weight when the UK government considers Russia a hostile wartime bedfellow.

RT’s immense successes in fighting corporate media put it completely at cross purposes with Westminster’s domestic and foreign policies, which are to fund and train extremists in Ukraine and Syria, provide weapons to bomb Yemeni civilians and hospitals, and attack Russia sometime in the near future, whenever UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon gets over his performance anxiety.

Clause 41 of the Magna Carta, the championed origin of Western ‘democracy’, states the following:

All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, […] in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us.

Therefore, the UK government, regardless of whatever asinine excuse it gives, in effect uses this clause to justify its actions within a national context, but outside of international law.

Consequently, RBS is 71.5% owned and operated by the Her Majesty’s Treasury and will refuse service to RT to protect state interests; this is an unfortunate reality the Russians must face.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Simonyan should consult Sun Tzu’s chapter on the Nine Situations for an solution and fortunately, there is one:

When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear, it is serious ground.

Independent Economic Researcher Ian Pye profoundly observed a weakness in Britain’s plan of attack.  He stated.

“A large Chinese bank with a firm presence in London should take up NatWest’s slack. Much, much harder politically to sanction China.” 

RT simply has to visit 81 King Williams Street to open accounts with the Industrial and Commerce Bank of China (ICBC)—the largest bank in the world with a market capitalisation of $198 billion according to Forbes Magazine—and end the mindlessness of this state-sanctioned dispute.

The PRA recently awarded the ICBC a UK banking licence in September 2014, which allows it to operate freely within the country.

Michele Chen of London’s Squire Sanders law firm highlighted:

“…another significance of ICBC now having branch license is that Chinese banks are increasingly learning how to operate in a global environment, satisfying UK laws and regulations whilst providing a diverse range of products to customers.”

Those “diverse range of products” include sanction-free international banking for RT employees via Unionpay, backed by the Chinese Yuan. Also, as the ICBC is also state-owned, Russia and China can negotiate any contentious terms and conditions, such as excess capital controls on remittances, in order to facilitate the process, bypassing future punitive measures.

Russia Today must realise that it is waging an information war and will be treated as such by the UK authorities. There are material interests at stake for both countries, and indignation alone will do nothing more than frustrate the matter.

It must consider its options with ICBC or even the Bank of China to circumvent NatWest’s schizophrenic banking policies, and then embarrass them by continuing operations in the UK without the threat of sanctions. RT can even file a corporate lawsuit against NatWest if desired.

Finally, RT should keep in mind Mr. Courtney’s words, follow through, and then beef up its security.

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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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Five Saudis Face Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing; Crown Prince Cleared

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”

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Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia public prosecutor Sheikh Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the kingdom will seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 11 charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirming suspicions that members of the murder squad purportedly sent to “interrogate” Khashoggi will now themselves face beheadings as the Saudi Royal Family closes ranks around the Crown Prince, per the FT.

As for Mohammed bin Salman who runs the day to day affairs of the world’s top oil exporter and is the de facto head of OPEC, the prosecutor said had “no knowledge” of the mission, effectively absolving him of any domestic suspicion, if not international.

The charges were handed down after the kingdom dismissed five senior intelligence officers and arrested 18 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents that would have allowed him to marry his fiance. Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia.

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime,” according to CNN.

The prosecutor said that the former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, ordered a mission to force Khashoggi to go back to Saudi Arabia and formed a team of 15 people.

They were divided into three groups, the Saudi Public Prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

It was the head of the negotiating team who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, the prosecutor said.

The Saudis stuck by latest (ever changing) narrative that the Washington Post columnist was killed after a mission to abduct him went awry. The deputy chief of intelligence ordered that Khashoggi be brought back to the kingdom, Shaalan said. The team killed him after the talks failed and his body was handed to a “collaborator” in Turkey, he said.

Asked whether Saud al-Qahtanti, an aide to Prince Mohammed, had any role in the case, Shaalan said that a royal adviser had a coordinating role and had provided information. The former adviser was now under investigation, the prosecutor said, declining to reveal the names of any of those facing charges.

Al-Shaalan did reveal that a total of 21 suspects are now being held in connection with the case. Notably, the decision to charge the 5 comes after National Security Advisor John Bolton repudiated reports that a recording of Khashoggi’s murder made by Turkish authorities suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was behind the murder plot.

But as long as OPEC+ is planning to do “whatever it takes” to boost oil prices, the US’s willingness to give the Saudis a pass could always be tested if crude prices again turn sharply higher.

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