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Two Russians poisoned; Britain goes mad

Feverish speculation in the British media of Russian state involvement in alleged poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter is unwarranted

Alexander Mercouris

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Once again the British media is going through a James Bond moment following the discovery on Monday of two Russians – Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia – seriously ill and poisoned on a bench in the town of Salisbury.

The story has dominated the media for two days, the British cabinet’s COBRA committee has met, there have been portentous (and quickly retracted) announcements by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson concerning a British intention to boycott the World Cup in Russia, a further (calmer) announcement today by British Home Secretary Amber Rudd (one of the few relatively level headed politicians left in Britain), and it seems that a statement to the House of Commons by British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected shortly.

Meanwhile the media has been pouring out stories asserting “Russian state involvement” in the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter as fact, along with speculations about whether or not the substance which poisoned them is radioactive (it isn’t), with comparisons being made between the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter and the murder by polonium poisoning in 2006 of the exiled Russian ex-policeman and FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko.

It needs to be said clearly that all these speculations are at the present time both groundless and unwarranted.  So far not a scintilla of evidence has publicly appeared linking the Russian state to the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter.

Moreover in one important respect the reporting is demonstrably wrong.

Skripal is invariably described in the British media as a “Russian spy”.  It should be said clearly that he is no such thing.  Just as Alexander Litvinenko was never a spy (he was a law enforcement officer tasked by the FSB with combatting organised crime) so Skripal is not a “Russian spy”.

Skripal is a former Russian army officer who beginning in December 1995 started accepting payments from the British in return for information.  He was a British not a Russian spy.

Skripal became an informer for British intelligence at a time when the influence within British intelligence of Christopher Steele – the compiler of the Trump Dossier – was approaching its peak.  As Business Insider says, it is likely – though not proven – that he was a member of Steele’s network.

In the event the Russians discovered in 2004 that Skripal was working for the British, and he was arrested and jailed by them in that year.  As John Helmer has pointed out, shortly after in 2006 the Russian counterintelligence agency the FSB rolled up what was left of Britain’s intelligence operation in Russia.  Skripal himself was pardoned and exchanged by the Russians in 2010 in return for the ‘illegals’ (Russian deep cover agents) infiltrated by Russian intelligence into the US, who were arrested by the US that year.  The glamorous Anna Chapman was one of these Russian ‘illegals’.

Why the Russians would want to murder an ex-spy who they had previously pardoned and allowed to go to the West after they had caught and jailed him is not obvious.

As several British media commentaries have rather grudgingly admitted, by the time Skripal was poisoned he had been thoroughly exposed and debriefed by both the Russians and the British, and was living a quiet life in retirement in Salisbury.  At the time of his poisoning he posed no conceivable threat to Russian intelligence or to Russia.

Theories that his poisoning was some sort of act of ‘revenge’ against Skripal for his previous activities, or was intended as some sort of warning by the Russians to Steele, are not only entirely unsupported by evidence but would be wholly out of character for Russian intelligence, and should be discounted.

Though there is in fact very little publicly available evidence at the present time upon which to base speculations about the case, such evidence as there is if anything points away from Russian state involvement.

Though the substance which poisoned Skripal and his daughter has apparently so far not been conclusively identified, some reports suggest that it is fentanyl, a powerful opoid drug, which is widely available in Britain where it is used both for medical and for recreational drug use.

The fact that traces of this substance were found on the bench where Skripal and his daughter were sitting when they were found suggests – though it does not prove – that they ingested the substance themselves.

If the substance was fentanyl then that might suggest either a case of recreational drugs use which went horribly wrong – and fentanyl has been linked in Britain to the deaths of large numbers of recreational drugs users – or sadly to something darker.

It is a commonplace that defectors cut off forever from their home country often fall into depression and engage in suicidal thoughts – here is an article discussing this condition amongst North Korean defectors – and Skripal has in addition recently suffered the double blow of the death in 2012 from cancer of his wife and of the recent death in July last year of his son.

Assuming that his daughter shared his grief it is not impossible that this is a joint suicide attempt.

Let me stress that I do not know whether either of these two theories is true, just as I do not know that the substance which poisoned Skripal and his daughter is fentanyl – other theories suggest that it might have been a nerve agent – though I would say that the accounts of witnesses of the appearance of Skripal and of his daughter when they were found which I have seen do seem to me to be consistent with fentanyl poisoning.

I only bring up these theories because there have been so many other theories which look to me far less grounded in the facts of this case as they are so far known.

If – as is to be earnestly hoped – Skripal and his daughter recover from their poisoning, perhaps they will tell us what happened and we will know the truth.

In the meantime there is no justification for the orgy of unsubstantiated speculation about this case which we are currently witnessing in Britain and elsewhere.

Nor – given that only two people are involved – is there any justification for the preposterously over the top publicity which is being given to this incident.

In Britain sad to say people die from drugs overdoses every day – with fentanyl responsible for a large proportion of these deaths – making it absurd to focus on just two cases of poisoning until more is publicly known about this incident which justifies treating it as something more sinister.

Certainly convening the COBRA committee and getting the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister to make statements at this stage in the case is profoundly wrong and frankly ridiculous.

What unfortunately it shows is how extreme the atmosphere of Russophobia in Britain has become that speculation like this can run rife and dominate the headlines for days in the complete absence of any facts.

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Putin, Trump meet in Helsinki for first bilateral summit

The Helsinki summit is the first ever full-fledged meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Their previous encounters were brief talks on the sidelines of the G20 and APEC summits in 2017.

Vladimir Rodzianko

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are meeting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki for their first bilateral one-on-one meeting.

Trump arrived in the Finland capital a day early, while the jet of Putin, who wrapped up his nation’s hosting of the World Cup Sunday, touched down around 1 p.m. local time and the Russian president’s motorcade whisked him straight to the palace where the two world leaders are meeting.

Trump signed an August 2017 law imposing additional sanctions on Russia. The law bars Trump from easing many sanctions without Congress’ approval, but he can offer some relief without a nod from Congress.

Almost 700 Russian people and companies are under U.S. sanctions. Individuals face limits on their travel and freezes on at least some of their assets, while some top Russian state banks and companies, including oil and gas giants, are effectively barred from getting financing through U.S. banks and markets.

The agenda of the summit hasn’t been officially announced yet, though, the presidents are expected to discuss global crises, such as the Syrian conflict and Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations.

Stay tuned for updates…

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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