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US, Britain, and allies seek to expand OPCW competencies

Because the Russians are ‘highly likely’ to be up to some really bad stuff

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Ever so convenient for the powers of the West which arm, fund, and run interference for terrorist organizations, which serve as their proxies as agents of destabilization, a special session for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is being held at the Hague for the purpose of outlining and granting it expanded competencies in the area of assigning definitive charges for the use of chemical weapons.

With recent chemical weapons attacks allegedly in Salisbury, UK, and Douma, Syria, but without any evidence materializing to that effect, with Russia being involved in both of them to some degree, it’s doggone important that some means to definitively assign the blame on the Russians and Syrians gets hammered out.

The Russians and Syrians simply can’t be allowed to exist in the world with such impunity, because they’re always up to some really bad stuff which is usually undermining freedom and democracy across the civilized world.

AFP reports:

Britain, the US and their allies squared off against Russia Tuesday in a high-stakes diplomatic battle seeking to empower the world’s global chemical watchdog with the authority to identify those behind toxic arms attacks.

The meeting opened in The Hague as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are also expected to unveil soon a long-awaited report into an alleged sarin and chlorine gas attack in April in the Syrian town of Douma. Medics and rescuers say 40 people were killed.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was to head up his country’s delegation to a rare special session of the OPCW’s top policy-making body, and was due to address the session later in the day.

“We want to strengthen the Organisation entrusted with overseeing the ban on chemical weapons,” the British delegation said in a tweet.

“We want to empower the @OPCW to identify those responsible for chemical weapons attacks.”

London called the gathering of the OPCW’s state party members after the nerve agent attack in March on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English town of Salisbury, which Britain and its allies have blamed on Russia.

There has been growing international concern about repeated allegations of the use of poison gases in the Iraq and Syria conflicts, as well as alarm at the 2017 assassination of the North Korean leader’s half-brother in a rare nerve agent attack in Kuala Lumpur airport.

It is feared that use of deadly chemical weapons, first seen during World War I, is becoming gradually normalised due to the lack of any effective way of holding perpetrators to account.

– ‘No longer a Cold War body’ –

Opening the session, the conference chairman, Abdelouahab Bellouki, said, those responsible for chemical weapons attacks “need to be punished on the basis of true and strong evidence”.

“In spite of different and divergent positions and opinions, we are all committed to constructive cooperation… in order to rid once and for all the world of chemical weapons.”

Tensions ran high from the start Tuesday. It took three hours of a heated back-and-forth between the delegates of Russia, Syria and Iran joining forces against the representatives of the United States and Canada just to adopt the agenda.

The talks will move behind closed doors on Wednesday and possibly linger on until Thursday for a key vote on the British draft decision. It is only the fourth time in the body’s history that such a special session has been convened.

Russia has already denounced the meeting, and the head of the delegation, Georgy Kalamanov, said Moscow would not support Britain’s draft decision and will unveil its own, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

“We believe that the powers that Britain wants to give to the OPCW are the powers of the UN Security Council and this is the only body which has a right to make such decisions,” he said.

But others, including France and the United States, believe it is time the organisation’s role evolved.

“The mandate of the OPCW must be adapted to the challenges of the 21st century,” said a French diplomat ahead of the talks, asking not to be named.

“It was conceived in an entirely different context to independently verify the proper destruction by the major powers during the Cold War of their chemical weapons stocks.”

– ‘Culture of impunity’ –

A two-thirds majority, minus any abstentions, is needed for Britain’s draft to pass, with about 143 countries out of the OPCW’s 193 attending the meetings, according to an official count.

Russia was reportedly already working behind the scenes to defeat Britain’s proposal.

Moscow wielded its veto power at the UN Security Council to effectively kill off a previous joint UN-OPCW panel aimed at identifying those behind attacks in Syria.

Before its mandate expired in December, the panel known as the JIM (Joint Investigative Mechanism) had determined that the Syrian government used chlorine or sarin gas at least four times against its own civilians. The Islamic State group used mustard gas in 2015.

Outgoing OPCW head Ahmet Uzumcu has said the current situation of impunity is “unsustainable”, warning “a culture of impunity cannot be allowed to develop around the use of chemical weapons”

This would mean that the next time a staged chemical weapons attack takes place, the West can conduct some ‘precision’ strikes before the OPCW gets around to investigating it and then the OPCW can confirm that the strikes were legit because investigations can definitively determine that either the Russians or the Syrians were ‘highly likely’ to have been behind it.

 

 

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John MasonWayne BlowAkitGonzogalYou can call me Al Recent comment authors
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John Mason
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John Mason

No different to the UN is the OPCW, an institution set up to benefit the globe and like the UN has turned rogue. Russia should give the West a complete miss, get out of the OPCW, UN, they do not serve the purpose anymore, let the US and West have their institutions and save yourself the embarrassment.

Wayne Blow
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Wayne Blow

Just another “UN” fixed up “CLUB” for Nikki to lord over , eh, eh???

Akit
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Akit

Very odd since they take absolutely no notice of what the OPCW says anyway. I believe they openly declared that Syria was free of all chemical weapons in 2017. The Russian should demand to know what stockpiles of chemical weapons the US and Britain have got squirrelled away. More likely this is a meeting with one purpose only. To offer more bribery money for the OPCW to lie and ignore all the use of chemical weapons by western powers.

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

“We want to empower the @OPCW to identify those responsible for chemical weapons attacks.”

And their panic when proof is given that THEY are responsible for cw attacks?! This MUST cut both ways, and there is more proof that THEY were responsible than Syria or Russia!

You can call me Al
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You can call me Al

“Britain, the US and their allies squared off against Russia Tuesday in a high-stakes diplomatic battle seeking to empower the world’s global chemical watchdog with the authority to identify those behind toxic arms attacks.”…….. maybe they / we should be careful what we wish for. !!.

Breaking OPCW news 1: “UK supplies Syrian terrorists with chemicals”.
Breaking OPCW news 2: “No chemicals used in Salisbury UK”.

and so on and so on.

By the way – I am British and I am ashamed by the so called politicians allegedly running our dying nation.

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

RT

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Via RT…


The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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