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5 reasons why Ukraine is a bigger threat to peace and safety than North Korea

It doesn’t fit the western narrative, but Ukraine is a far bigger threat to its own people and its neighbours than North Korea is or has been for decades.

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The Korean Peninsula is often thought of as a volatile region, a dangerous region, an unpredictable ‘weaponised’ region. In particular, the United States has accused North Korea of being a threat to regional peace and stability.

Objectively, there is some truth to all of this, but the Demilitarised Zone separating the two Korean states is far less unstable than the Syria/Iraq border which is currently controlled by ISIS.

But when it comes to threatening regional instability and causing bloodshed, there is one place that is vastly more deadly and volatile than the Korean Peninsula: the battle-zone between Kiev controlled Ukraine and the Donbass Republics.

Despite the fact that the North and South Korea are technically still at war, the region has been remarkably stable and calm since the ceasefire which ended the hot conflict on the peninsula in 1953.

Despite occasional worrying movements on the DMZ (demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas), since 1953, life in North Korea and South Korea has been allowed to develop in such a way that all Koreans live their daily lives in a normal way according to the standards that each unique Korean state has set for its citizens over the decades since the hot period of the Korean War.

For all of its rhetorical bluster, North Korea remains technically committed to a ‘no first strike’ policy in respect of nuclear weapons. Because of this, letting a sleeping dog lie would be good advice for the more hawkish forces in Washington.

READ MORE: The US should accept China’s proposal and talk to North Korea. Here’s why.

Compare this to the Ukraine/Donbass conflict. 

1. Duration and Nature of the Conflicts 

Ukraine, a country which between 1991 and 2014 was united, but with deep political divisions, has split. The Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were proclaimed after the fascist coup in Kiev and since then, the regular forces, mercenaries and terrorists loyal to Kiev have been invading and attacking the two Donbass Republics, almost without cessation and in total violation of the Minsk II ceasefire agreement, which unlike the successful Korean War ceasefire, was dead on arrival.

The Ukrainian war of aggression against the Donbass Republics which started in February of 2014 and still rages, has all ready gone on for longer than the 3 year and 1 month hot period of Korean War which lasted between June of 1950 and July of 1953, before the ceasefire took effect.

Augmenting this have been attempted terrorist attacks on neighbouring Russia, attacks which were thankfully thwarted by the Russian security services.

READ MORE: Shootout in Crimea: Russia’s FSB vs Ukrainian Saboteurs

By contrast, the last time any North Koreans violated the ceasefire with the South was in 1975 when North Korean soldiers committed an ‘axe murder’ of two American soldiers chopping down a tree in the DMZ.

When all was said and done, America reacted by chopping down the rest of the tree as a ‘show of force’.

2. Chemical Weapons 

Whilst no heavy weapons have been fired from one Korean state to another since 1953, Ukraine is guilty of using illegal chemical weapons on civilian targets in Donbass. The Russian Investigative Committee came to the conclusion that white phosphorus was Kiev’s chemical weapon of choice when attacking Donbass.

READ MORE: When Ukraine dropped chemical weapons on Donbass, the west didn’t care (VIDEO)

3. Deaths

While death has not been a daily feature of Korean life since 1953, the same cannot be said for Donbass. As of December 2016, the UN reports that nearly 10,000 people, including women and children were killed in the Donbass conflict and many suggest the UN figure is low compared to the even grimmer realities on the ground. Many more, including civilians have been killed since then.

Beyond the deaths, torture and rape, including child rape has been a feature of Kiev’s war of aggression. No such analogue exists in the Korean states.

READ MORE: The war in Eastern Ukraine and child rape

4. Political Maturity 

Although both Koreas have a goal of uniting the peninsula under their respective flags and in turn do not acknowledge the political legitimacy of the other state, in reality, both accept the fact that for the foreseeable future they’ll have to live side by side.

Not even the most radical anti-communists in the South plan to storm across the border in a ‘liberation war’ nor will North Korea turn Seoul into a ‘sea of flame’ unless provoked. It’s all bombastic rhetoric and has been since the 1950s.

Just as East and West Germany lived side by side without engaging in war, a similar ‘cold peace’ exists between North and South Korea.

By contrast, Ukraine is totally confused about its own position on the Donbass Republics. On the one hand, they claim that the territory is part of a unitary Ukrainian state, but on the other, they cut off water, electricity and other vital supplies to the Republics. Ukraine has legally removed the rights of Russian speakers throughout the country and has purged Russian from Ukrainian media.

The Kiev regime refuses to allow trains from Donbass into Kiev controlled regions and they do not issue passports and birth certificates in Donbass, which has led Russia to now fully accept legal ID issued in the Donbass Republics as legitimate documents. Ukraine calls the Donbass people terrorists, ‘Russian agents’ and everything else to make them as distant as possible. By contrast, neither Pyongyang and Seoul  challenge the ‘Koreaness’ for those on the other side of the DMZ.

Vladimir Putin said just yesterday, that it isn’t Moscow which somehow lured the Donbass Republics into its realm but rather, Kiev simply cut them off, isolated them, alienated them and pushed them away. One could add historical inevitability to this list. 

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin blasts western hypocrisy while standing next to Angela Merkel

5. The Nuclear Question 

While there are no longer nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory, there are many nuclear power facilities and most are in a state of total disrepair. Ukraine’s nuclear sector is among the least safe in the world. The combination of lack of funds and a disorganised central government has allowed a situation to develop that could result in another Chernobyl style disaster.

The Energy Post describes the Ukrainian nuclear sector as being plagued by “persistent safety problems”.

In an article from 2016, the Energy Post describes how Ukraine’s neighbours live in fear of another nuclear meltdown on Ukrainian territory,

“Ukraine’s neighbours are also concerned. Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria have sent multiple questions for clarification and requests for participation in trans-boundary consultations. But Kiev, in response, denied its obligation to conduct any.

One might think that this experience, or perhaps civil society’s repeated warnings, would make decision makers reconsider this reckless adventure. But not the Ukrainian government”.

While ‘nuclear war’ is a  better headline than ‘nuclear safety concerns’, the fact is that since 1945, the world’s biggest nuclear disasters have been the result of poorly managed nuclear power facilities and not nuclear weapons.

In this sense, Ukraine’s ‘nuclear problem’ is a graver danger to global safety than North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme which thus far has never fired a missile in anger.

Between 2014 and the present day, Ukraine has killed more innocent civilians than either Korean state has even attempted to do since 1953. Ukraine has broken ceasefire agreements on a daily basis while the Korean states have not. Ukraine has deployed chemical weapons on civilians while neither Korean state has done so and unlike the quiet Korean political conflict, Kiev’s war of aggression is going on at this very moment.

Furthermore, Ukraine’s silent nuclear problem is manifestly more worrying than North Korea’s weapons programme.

Objectively, no one could argue that either Korean state is as dangerous or as volatile as post-coup Ukraine.

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Social media purge continues, as platforms operate as publishers (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 80.

Alex Christoforou

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Following the suspension of Alex Jones, Twitter has also moved to restrict Jones’ Infowars account.

BuzzFeed News is reporting that the Infowars account will be restricted from tweeting, but will still be able to browse Twitter and send direct messages to other users, while users will still be able to view the account.

The move, which essentially puts the account in read-only mode, comes less than a day after Twitter temporarily limited Infowars proprietor Alex Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video in which he called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready. That video, which was shared on Twitter-owned live streaming service Periscope, was also shared by Infowars earlier on Wednesday.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that Infowars’ account, which has more than 430,000 followers, will be prevented from tweeting, retweeting, liking or following other users during a seven-day window. The account will stay online, allowing users to view it during that period.

Via Zerohedge

On Tuesday, Twitter suspended the conspiracy theorist and blogger for violating the social media company’s policies, in a stark reversal for Jack Dorsey who previously bucked the trend by other tech giants to muzzle the Infowars creator.

As CNET first reported, Jones’ account was put in “read only” mode and will be blocked from posting on Twitter for seven days because of an offending tweet, the company said. While Twitter declined to comment on the content that violated its policies, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN the content which prompted the suspension was a video published Tuesday in which he said, “now is time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag.”

A Twitter spokesperson wouldn’t say what would get Jones or Infowars permanently suspended, however they noted “We look at [the] volume and nature of violations before suspending an account,” according to Buzzfeed.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the latest twists and turns in the vicious social media purge of conservative right and libertarian accounts. Platforms are acting like publishers and this may mean the end of monopoly social media services.

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

Meanwhile, in a censorship move against Libertarian commentary, Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams and Antiwar editor Scott Horton were suspended by Twitter for simply retweeting. Justin Raimondo informs…

Target Liberty reports

Update from Justin:

Neither @scotthortonshow nor @DanielLMcAdams have been reinstated. You can see their tweets: they can’t tweet.

RW

Daniel McAdams explain what happened…

Robert I can give you an update from my perspective regarding what happened:

Yesterday on Twitter, former US diplomat Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell) took members of the mainstream media to task for swallowing and printing government lies without even bothering to check them out. He said as a former US government official (turned whistleblower) he also lied to the press on behalf of the government and was astonished that the press swallowed each one, hook, line and sinker.

Several corporate media hacks and in particular one employee of an NGO funded by George Soros — a fellow called Jonathan Katz — piled on Peter, accusing him of all manner of treachery. When Peter ended one response with a sarcastic reference to zombie attacks – “I hope a MAGA guy eats your face” — which is obviously a joke, Katz replied that he is reporting Peter for promoting violence.

So he and his buddies ganged up on Peter and got him banned. Scott Horton and I were incensed over the ban, which seemed to us totally arbitrary. There was no threat of violence and it was no different than millions of Tweets all the time. So Scott and I both joined in and criticized Katz for running off to the authorities in attempt to get someone banned rather than just walk away from the debate.

Katz then did his usual routine and ran to the authorities and had Scott and me banned. Mine was for, as Twitter informed me, because “you may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” There is no way at all that my Tweet violated the above rule. In no way did I harass or threaten based on those criteria. I merely strongly criticized Katz for running to the authorities to get Peter banned.

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“I’m Not A Racist, But I’m A Nationalist”: Why Sweden Faces A Historic Election Upset

Sweden is set to have a political earthquake in September.

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Via Zerohedge


“Trains and hospitals don’t work, but immigration continues,” Roger Mathson, a retired vegetable oil factory worker in Sweden, told Bloomberg on the same day as the violent, coordinated rampage by masked gangs of youths across five Swedish cities.

We noted earlier that Swedish politicians were quick to react with anti-immigrant party ‘Sweden Democrats’ seeing a surge in the polls ahead of the September 9th election.

“I’m not a racist, but I’m a nationalist,” Mathson said. “I don’t like seeing the town square full of Niqab-clad ladies and people fighting with each other.”

Is Sweden set to have its own political earthquake in September, where general elections could end a century of Social Democratic dominance and bring to power a little known (on the world stage), but the now hugely popular nationalist party often dubbed far-right and right-wing populist, called Sweden Democrats?

Sweden, a historically largely homogeneous population of 10 million, took in an astounding 600,000 refugees over the past five years, and after Swedes across various cities looked out their windows Tuesday to see cars exploding, smoke filling the skies, and possibly armed masked men hurling explosives around busy parking lots, it appears they’ve had enough.

Over the past years of their rise as a political force in Swedish politics, the country’s media have routinely labelled the Sweden Democrats as “racists” and “Nazis” due to their seemingly single issue focus of anti-immigration and strong Euroscepticism.

A poll at the start of this week indicated the Sweden Democrats slid back to third place after topping three previous polls as the September election nears; however, Tuesday’s national crisis and what could legitimately be dubbed a serious domestic terror threat is likely to boost their popularity.

Bloomberg’s profile of their leader, Jimmie Akesson, echoes the tone of establishment Swedish media in the way they commonly cast the movement, beginning as follows:

Viking rock music and whole pigs roasting on spits drew thousands of Swedes to a festival hosted by nationalists poised to deliver their country’s biggest political upheaval in a century.

The Sweden Democrats have been led since 2005 by a clean-cut and bespectacled man, Jimmie Akesson. He’s gentrified a party that traces its roots back to the country’s neo-Nazi, white supremacist fringe. Some polls now show the group may become the biggest in Sweden’s parliament after general elections on Sept. 9. Such an outcome would end 100 years of Social Democratic dominance.

The group’s popularity began surging after the 2015 immigration crisis began, which first hit Europe’s southern Mediterranean shores and quickly moved northward as shocking wave after wave of migrants came.

Jimmie Akesson (right). Image source: Getty via Daily Express

Akesson emphasizes something akin to a “Sweden-first” platform which European media often compares to Trump’s “America First”; and the party has long been accused of preaching forced assimilation into Swedish culture to be become a citizen.

Bloomberg’s report surveys opinions at a large political rally held in Akkeson’s hometown of Solvesborg, and some of the statements are sure to be increasingly common sentiment after this week’s coordinated multi-city attack:

At his party’s festival, Akesson revved up the crowd by slamming the establishment’s failures, calling the last two governments the worst in Swedish history. T-shirts calling for a Swexit, or an exit from the EU, were exchanged as bands played nationalist tunes.

Ted Lorentsson, a retiree from the island of Tjorn, said he’s an enthusiastic backer of the Sweden Democrats. “I think they want to improve elderly care, health care, child care,” he said. “Bring back the old Sweden.” But he also acknowledges his view has led to disagreement within his family as his daughter recoils at what she feels is the “Hitler”-like rhetoric.

No doubt, the media and Eurocrats in Brussels will take simple, innocent statements from elderly retirees like “bring back the old Sweden” as nothing short of declaration of a race war, but such views will only solidify after this week.

Another Sweden Democrat supporter, a 60-year old woman who works at a distillery, told Bloomberg, “I think you need to start seeing the whole picture in Sweden and save the original Swedish population,” she said. “I’m not racist, because I’m a realist.”

Sweden’s two biggest parties, the Social Democrats and Moderates, are now feeling the pressure as Swedes increasingly worry about key issues preached by Akesson like immigration, law and order, and health care – seen as under threat by a mass influx of immigrants that the system can’t handle.

Bloomberg explains further:

But even young voters are turning their backs on the establishment. One potential SD supporter is law student Oscar Persson. Though he hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote, he says it’s time for the mainstream parties to stop treating the Sweden Democrats like a pariah. “This game they are playing now, where the other parties don’t want to talk to them but still want their support, is something I don’t really understand,” he said.

Akesson has managed to entice voters from both sides of the political spectrum with a message of more welfare, lower taxes and savings based on immigration cuts.

With many Swedes now saying immigration has “gone too far” and as this week’s events have once again thrust the issue before both a national and global audience, the next round of polling will mostly like put Sweden’s conservative-right movements on top

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The Turkish Emerging Market Timebomb

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him.

The Duran

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Authored by Jim O’Neill, originally on Project Syndicate:


As the Turkish lira continues to depreciate against the dollar, fears of a classic emerging-market crisis have come to the fore. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him, and sooner or later, he will have to make nice with his country’s traditional Western allies.

Turkey’s falling currency and deteriorating financial conditions lend credence, at least for some people, to the notion that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I suspect that many Western policymakers, in particular, are not entirely unhappy about Turkey’s plight.

To veteran economic observers, Turkey’s troubles are almost a textbook case of an emerging-market flop. It is August, after all, and back in the 1990s, one could barely go a single year without some kind of financial crisis striking in the dog days of summer.

But more to the point, Turkey has a large, persistent current-account deficit, and a belligerent leader who does not realize – or refuses to acknowledge – that his populist economic policies are unsustainable. Moreover, Turkey has become increasingly dependent on overseas investors (and probably some wealthy domestic investors, too).

Given these slowly gestating factors, markets have long assumed that Turkey was headed for a currency crisis. In fact, such worries were widespread as far back as the fall of 2013, when I was in Istanbul interviewing business and financial leaders for a BBC Radio series on emerging economies. At that time, markets were beginning to fear that monetary-policy normalization and an end to quantitative easing in the United States would have dire consequences globally. The Turkish lira has been flirting with disaster ever since.

Now that the crisis has finally come to pass, it is Turkey’s population that will bear the brunt of it. The country must drastically tighten its domestic monetary policy, curtail foreign borrowing, and prepare for the likelihood of a full-blown economic recession, during which time domestic saving will slowly have to be rebuilt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership will both complicate matters and give Turkey some leverage. Erdoğan has  constitutional powers, reducing those of the parliament, and undercutting the independence of monetary and fiscal policymaking. And to top it off, he seems to be reveling in an escalating feud with US President Donald Trump’s administration over Turkey’s imprisonment of an American pastor and purchase of a Russian S-400 missile-defense system.

This is a dangerous brew for the leader of an emerging economy to imbibe, particularly when the United States itself has embarked on a Ronald Reagan-style fiscal expansion that has pushed the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than it would have otherwise. Given the unlikelihood of some external source of funding emerging, Erdoğan will eventually have to back down on some of his unorthodox policies. My guess is that we’ll see a return to a more conventional monetary policy, and possibly a new fiscal-policy framework.

As for Turkey’s leverage in the current crisis, it is worth remembering that the country has a large and youthful population, and thus the potential to grow into a much larger economy in the future. It also enjoys a privileged geographic position at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, which means that many major players have a stake in ensuring its stability. Indeed, many Europeans still hold out hope that Turkey will embrace Western-style capitalism, despite the damage that Erdoğan has done to the country’s European Union accession bid.

Among the regional powers, Russia is sometimes mentioned as a potential savior for Turkey. There is no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin would love to use Turkey’s crisis to pull it even further away from its NATO allies. But Erdoğan and his advisers would be deeply mistaken to think that Russia can fill Turkey’s financial void. A Kremlin intervention would do little for Turkey, and would likely exacerbate Russia’s own .

The other two potential patrons are Qatar and, of course, China. But while Qatar, one of Turkey’s closest Gulf allies, could provide financial aid, it does not ultimately have the wherewithal to pull Turkey out of its crisis singlehandedly.

As for China, though it will not want to waste the opportunity to increase its influence vis-à-vis Turkey, it is not the country’s style to step into such a volatile situation, much less assume responsibility for solving the problem. The more likely outcome – as we are seeing in Greece – is that China will unleash its companies to pursue investment opportunities after the dust settles.

That means that Turkey’s economic salvation lies with its conventional Western allies: the US and the EU (particularly France and Germany). On August 13, a White House spokesperson confirmed that the Trump administration is watching the financial-market response to Turkey’s crisis “very closely.” The last thing that Trump wants is a crumbling world economy and a massive dollar rally, which could derail his domestic economic ambitions. So a classic Trump “trade” is probably there for Erdoğan, if he is willing to come to the negotiating table.

Likewise, some of Europe’s biggest and most fragile banks have significant exposure to Turkey. Combine that with the ongoing political crisis over migration, and you have a recipe for deeper destabilization within the EU. I, for one, cannot imagine that European leaders will sit by and do nothing while Turkey implodes on their border.

Despite his escalating rhetoric, Erdoğan may soon find that he has little choice but to abandon his isolationist and antagonistic policies of the last few years. If he does, many investors may look back next year and wish that they had snapped up a few lira when they had the chance.

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