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Syria: U.S. thinks twice, returns to diplomacy with Russia

As the trap closes on Jihadis in Aleppo, the US again turns to diplomacy as it desperately seeks to avoid a debacle.

Alexander Mercouris

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Latest news from Aleppo confirms significant advances by the Syrian military in the Jihadi controlled eastern area of the city.

On a map these advances may not particularly large or significant.  However in urban warfare, where advances are usually tracked a building at a time, they are very rapid indeed, and suggest that the position of the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo is weakening much faster than anyone had expected.

The explanation for this is that the Jihadis in Aleppo can no longer obtain supplies and reinforcements by way of the Castello road.  The result is that they cannot replace their losses, whilst the Syrian military and its Shia militia, Hezbollah and Kurdish militia allies can.

Whilst on the subject of the Syrian military’s Shia militia allies, I must take strong issue with the Guardian headline describing them: ‘Sectarian fighters mass for battle to capture east Aleppo’. 

This headline is frankly propaganda. Whilst the militia in question are indeed Shia, the true sectarians in Syria – as the Guardian of course knows – are the various militant Wahhabi/Salafist/Takfiri Jihadist groups such as ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra – the latter the main defenders in eastern Aleppo – which are waging war against Syria’s determinedly secular and non-sectarian government.

Perhaps because the defences in eastern Aleppo are collapsing so quickly, a further frantic round of diplomacy is now underway.

As I have discussed previously, claims the US has pulled out of all talks with Russia over Syria are simply untrue. The Russians have confirmed that Kerry and Lavrov talk with each other over the telephone about Syria every day.

Meanwhile the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has flown to Moscow where he seems to be trying to win the Russians over to another ceasefire plan for Aleppo, which would involve a cessation of bombing in the city and a resumption of humanitarian supplies there.

The plan appears in essence to be identical to the 9th September 2016 Kerry-Lavrov agreement in that its key provision is the withdrawal of Jihadi fighters from eastern Aleppo leading to its effective surrender to the Syrian government.

That this is indeed the central idea of the French plan – which almost certainly is being inspired by the US – has been essentially confirmed by Staffan de Mistura, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to Syria. 

De Mistura has repeatedly been used by Kerry and the US State Department as a stalking horse for their plans – to which he can be relied upon to give a humanitarian gloss – and it is notable that he is now publicly calling for Jabhat Al-Nusra’s fighters to quit Aleppo.  Indeed he is even offering to accompany them as they retreat in order to guarantee their safety

“If you did decide to leave, in dignity with your weapons, to Idlib or anywhere you wanted to go, I personally am ready, physically ready, to accompany you.  I can’t guarantee more than my own personality and body.”

The Kerry-Lavrov agreement collapsed because the US failed to act on its promise to separate the Syrian fighters it supports from Jabhat Al-Nusra, whilst the fighters in Syria – egged on by their foreign sponsors and the hardliners in Washington – also refused to do so. 

Despite de Mistura’s claim that Jabhat Al-Nusra fighters account for no more than 900 out of the 8,000 Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo, independent reports confirm that Jabhat Al-Nusra is in reality the dominant force there. 

Indeed at the time of the Jihadi offensive against south west Aleppo in late July and August, all the Jihadi fighters inside and outside Aleppo had united under Jabhat Al-Nusra’s leadership and were taking orders from its so-called “operations room”.

De Mistura’s proposal, and the French plan that probably underpins it, therefore look essentially like an attempt by the realists in Washington to revive their previous plan to save the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo and to preserve them as a coherent force by withdrawing them intact from the city, where they have become trapped and are now facing defeat and ultimate annihilation.

Whether the realists can succeed where because of the opposition from the hardliners in Washington and elsewhere they have previously failed is another matter.  Possibly the prospect of imminent defeat may have concentrated a few minds and won some of the hardliners round, but only time will tell whether this is so.

There is of course also the question of whether the plan has now run out of time. 

There must be a question whether the Russians – with their faith in Kerry badly shaken not just by the collapse of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement but by the vituperative campaign the US subsequently launched against them, blaming them falsely for the collapse of the ceasefire – will be prepared to revisit a plan that has previously failed. 

It is incidentally almost certainly because Russian trust and confidence in Kerry and the US has hit rock bottom over everything concerning Syria that the US is now having to work through de Mistura and the French rather than directly with the Russians.

Regardless, the return to diplomacy, however faltering, suggests that some of the wilder plans for covert air and missile strikes being floated by the hardliners in the State Department and the Pentagon have for the moment at least been put to one side, though given the character of some of the people in Washington it is impossible ever to be completely confident of this.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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Why Joe May be Courting Stacey

Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


Of 895 slots in the freshman class of Stuyvesant High in New York City, seven were offered this year to black students, down from 10 last year and 13 the year before.

In the freshman class of 803 at The Bronx High School of Science, 12 students are black, down from last year’s 25.

Of 303 students admitted to Staten Island Technical High School, one is African-American.

According to The New York Times, similar patterns of admission apply at the other five most elite high schools in the city.

Whites and Asians are 30 percent of middle school students, but 83 percent of the freshman at Bronx High School of Science, 88 percent at Staten Island Technical and 90 percent at Stuyvesant.

What do these numbers tell us?

They reveal the racial composition of the cohort of scientists and technicians who will lead America in the 21st century. And they tell us which races will not be well represented in that vanguard.

They identify a fault line that runs through the Democratic Party, separating leftists who believe in equality of results for all races and ethnic groups, and those who believe in a meritocracy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed anger and frustration at the under-representation of blacks and Hispanics in the elite schools. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have ignored his pleas to change the way students are admitted.

Currently, the same test, of English and math, is given to middle school applicants. And admission to the elite eight is offered to those who get the highest scores.

Moreover, Asians, not whites, are predominant.

Though 15 percent of all middle school students, Asians make up two-thirds of the student body at Stuyvesant, with 80 times as many slots as their African-American classmates.

The egalitarian wing of the Democratic Party sees this as inherently unjust. And what gives this issue national import are these factors:

First, the recent scandal where rich parents paid huge bribes to criminal consultants to get their kids into elite colleges, by falsifying records of athletic achievement and cheating on Scholastic Aptitude Tests, has caused a wave of populist resentment.

Second, Harvard is being sued for systemic reverse racism, as black and Hispanic students are admitted with test scores hundreds of points below those that would disqualify Asians and whites.

Third, Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Here are Biden’s quotes, unearthed by The Washington Post, that reflect his beliefs about forced busing for racial balance in public schools:

“The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with.

“What it says is, ‘In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son.’ That’s racist!

“Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child?

“I am philosophically opposed to quota systems. They insure mediocrity.”

That was 44 years ago. While those views were the thinking of many Democrats, and perhaps of most Americans, in the mid-’70s, they will be problematic in the 2020 primaries, where African-Americans could be decisive in the contests that follow Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden knows that just as Bernie Sanders, another white male, fell short in crucial South Carolina because of a lack of support among black voters, he, too, has a problem with that most loyal element in the Democratic coalition.

In 1991, Biden failed to rise to the defense of Anita Hill when she charged future Justice Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was a law-and-order champion responsible for tough anti-crime legislation that is now regarded as discriminatory.

And he has a record on busing for racial balance that made him a de facto ally of Louise Day Hicks of the Boston busing case fame.

How, with a record like this, does Biden inoculate himself against attacks by rival candidates, especially candidates of color, in his run for the nomination?

One way would be to signal to his party that he has grown, he has changed, and his 2020 running mate will be a person of color. Perhaps he’ll run with a woman of color such as Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race in Georgia.

An ancillary benefit would be that Abrams on the ticket would help him carry Georgia, a state Donald Trump probably cannot lose and win re-election.

Wrote Axios this morning:

“Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.”


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

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