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Britain’s Wizard of Oz moment as PM Theresa May ducks TV debate

British Prime Minister Theresa May ducks out of party leaders’ TV debate, once again exposing her weakness as Prime Minister.

Alexander Mercouris

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Back in December, when I first began writing about how Theresa May was not the strong and decisive Prime Minister the British establishment was making her out to be, I was alone in saying it.   The British general election has turned my solitary view into a consensus.  Today, as her poll ratings plunge, the British media is full of claims of how the election has exposed Theresa May as “brittle” and lacking in ideas, and as a ‘robotic’ Prime Minister, who is failing to connect with the British public.

This was cruelly exposed during back to back interviews the BBC’s veteran interviewer Jeremy Paxman conducted on Monday before a television audience, first with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and then with Theresa May.  As many people noticed, whereas the television audience warmed to Jeremy Corbyn’s obvious sincerity and authenticity, they laughed and jeered at Theresa May.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn each took today a decision that will further emphasise the contrast between them.  Whereas Corbyn has agreed to participate in a television debate with the other party leaders, Theresa May has refused to do so.   Inevitably people are saying that this is because Theresa May is afraid to debate Corbyn on television, and they are right.

This is one of the strangest elections in British political history, and it has left the British political and media class baffled.

It began with the universal expectation that under Jeremy Corbyn’s supposedly shambolic and extremist leadership the Labour Party would experience a meltdown, with its support plunging to around 20% of the vote.  Instead all the opinion polls show Labour steadily increasing its share of the vote.  It is now polling 34-38% of the vote, not enough to win but more than it achieved in the last election in 2015, and far more than was expected when the election was called.

Moreover Labour has a gigantic lead amongst young voters (some estimates give Labour an 80% to 20% lead over the Conservatives amongst voters aged 18 to 24) and according to most opinion polls it leads the Conservatives amongst voters under 45.  In addition it seems that the Labour vote in Scotland – against all expectations – is gradually edging up again, as support for the SNP falls.

To some extent all this reflects well established trends.  Labour has historically always appealed to young voters, and has always done well in Scotland, where until 2015 it was the majority party.  These advantages have however historically been more than offset by the Conservatives’ equally commanding lead amongst voters over 65, who not only make up an increasingly large share of the total population, but who are also the part of the British electorate which is most likely to vote.  Labour’s seeming revival in this election simply represents the return of traditional and well established voting patterns, and with Labour still failing to make inroads amongst Conservative voting older voters it is still likely the Conservatives will win.

However this election was supposed to be different, with English working class voters supposedly put off by Corbyn’s supposed incompetence and extremism, and rallying behind Theresa May’s supposedly tough “hard Brexit” policy.  After all the election was supposedly called to give Theresa May a mandate to negotiate a “hard Brexit”, though she has never clearly defined what she means by this.

At this stage in an election there must always be a question mark over the opinion polls, and despite the marked tightening of the opinion polls in recent days, I still believe that the Conservatives will ultimately win the election – probably by a bigger margin than some are now expecting – for the reason I gave above..

However if the result of the election is now open to doubt, it is because the media’s past representation of the two leaders – of Theresa May as strong and decisive, and of Jeremy Corbyn as bungling and weak – has been the reverse of the truth.

Ever since she became Prime Minister Theresa May’s conduct of the government has been accompanied by a succession of missteps and screeching U-turns, as she has acted immediately to reverse whatever policies appeared unpopular or controversial.

By contrast Corbyn has successfully seen off the most sustained challenge experienced by any opposition leader from within his own party in recent history.  Moreover he has done so whilst remaining courteous and calm, and without compromising his basic policy positions, though he has wisely shown flexibility in the election by not pressing policies such as the abandonment of Britain’s nuclear deterrent or the abolition of the monarchy which he is known to support but which might alienate voters and split his party.

By any objective assessment it is Corbyn who is the stronger and more confident personality, and the reason the election has so far not gone as predicted is because the election campaign has exposed the fact.  Corbyn’s decision to attend the party leaders’ debate, and Theresa May’s refusal to do so, highlights the fact.

The Wizard of Oz ends with the famous scene in which the banal reality of the insignificant Wizard behind the curtain is exposed to view.  The Wizard frantically commands that no attention should be paid to the man behind the curtain.  No one however listens to him and from that moment the awe and fear in which he is held – and his authority which derives from it – is gone.

With Theresa May Britain is now living through such a moment.

Regardless of what happens in the election a week from now, the illusion has been shattered.  It is impossible to see Theresa May if or rather when she is re elected being represented once more as the commanding figure that she was before the election was called.

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.

Watch:

Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

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Via RT


Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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