Water shrew in Russian winter


This 26 December 2018 video shows a cheeky water shrew demanding food from Russian fishermen.

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Fake ‘Russian’ interference by United States spies


This 27 December 2018 video from the USA is called Senate Security Expert Suspended From FacebookRussiaGate Crumbling.

By Will Morrow in the USA:

US intelligence think tank conducted “false flag” operation impersonating Russian election interference

31 December 2018

A series of articles published in the past week have revealed that the New Knowledge think tank conducted a “false flag” operation to influence the 2017 Alabama state election and make it appear that Russia was conducting a Twitter campaign to back its preferred candidate. New Knowledge is closely connected to the US intelligence agencies and has been widely cited as an impartial investigator of “Russian meddling” in US politics.

The story was first reported by the Washington Post on December 18 and the New York Times on December 19. Only a day earlier, both newspapers had carried lead front-page articles based largely on a New Knowledge report that claimed to provide new evidence of Russian social media operations to influence American politics.

As is the now well-established procedure, the report by New Knowledge was presented by the Times and Post as “independent” and scientific. The articles in the Times and Post were then made the basis for countless news articles and television reports breathtakingly reporting the latest nefarious activities of the Kremlin as established fact.

The New Knowledge report, entitled “The Tactics & Tropes of the Internet Research Agency,” cited hundreds of predominantly left-wing social media posts on Facebook, including on police violence and government spying, to argue that Russian activities were sowing political divisions in the United States. It amounted to a brief for mass internet censorship directed against working-class political opposition. (See: “The disinformation campaign behind the allegations of Russian ‘disinformation’”)

In its December 19 article, the Times admits that New Knowledge CEO Johnathon Morgan was involved in an effort to promote the election of Democrat Doug Jones against Republican rival Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama Senate election. The operation, codenamed “Project Birmingham,” included creating fake Facebook pages to attract conservative voters and promote an obscure write-in conservative Republican candidate likely to draw votes away from Moore. The operation also sought to artificially inflate click rates on anti-Moore news stories in order to encourage more such articles. Moore ultimately lost the election.

Most significantly, the Times report includes the admission that the project “involved a scheme to link the Moore campaign to thousands of Russian accounts that suddenly began following the Republican candidate on Twitter, a development that drew national media attention.”

The Times goes on to quote an internal report by New Knowledge, summarizing Project Birmingham: “We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet.” Moore’s Twitter account was followed by numerous accounts with an obviously fake and Russian appearance, featuring profile pictures of celebrities and Russian cyrillic characters.

In other words, the very body cited as an impartial expert on unsubstantiated allegations of Russian “disinformation” itself carries out actual disinformation fabricating evidence of Russian meddling.

The Times article is itself an exercise in damage control aimed at preserving the credibility of New Knowledge and the intelligence agencies’ anti-Russia campaign, for which the Times and the Post have been leading voices.

As is suggested by the headline, “Secret Experiment in Alabama Senate Race Imitated Russian Tactics,” it argues that New Knowledge and Morgan’s actions were a small-scale “experiment” aimed at testing the impact of Russian-style tactics. It further warns that New Knowledge’s actions were a sign that Russian tactics are being copied by other political groups, and that a further intensification of government censorship of social media is required.

It has since been revealed that the project went beyond the Times’ initial report—and that the Times knew of New Knowledge’s role long in advance but did not mention it even as it promoted New Knowledge’s own report. An article by Buzzfeed on December 27 reveals that Scott Shane, the Times national security correspondent who wrote a December 17 article based on New Knowledge’s report on Russian meddling, was one of a handful of speakers at a September meeting in Washington that discussed “Project Birmingham.”

The Project also involved another organization, American Engagement Technologies, which is run by Mikey Dickerson, a former Obama administration official and Google engineer. The organization received $750,000 from Reid Hoffman, the billionaire CEO of LinkedIn, and spent approximately $100,000 on Project Birmingham. The collaboration of New Knowledge in this operation underscores the close nexus between the intelligence agencies, the Democratic Party, and the technology companies that are leading the campaign for censorship.

New Knowledge and its CEO, Johnathon Morgan, epitomize the collection of state propaganda outlets, staffed by former intelligence agents and advisors, who are trotted out in media television panels and featured in news articles as sources for unsubstantiated allegations of Russian interference. New Knowledge’s co-founder, Ryan Fox, was an NSA agent for 15 years, and previously worked as an analyst for the US Joint Special Operation Command in the military.

Morgan himself was an advisor to the US State Department and helped create the Hamilton 68 “dashboard”, a project run by the German Marshall Fund, ostensibly tasked with tracking Russian disinformation activities, that is headed by Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and advocate of internet censorship.

Even if the allegations of a Russian social media operation since 2016, involving approximately $100,000 of paid Facebook ads, are true, they would pale in comparison with the actions of the US intelligence agencies, which are responsible for overthrowing governments, sponsoring coups, destabilizing governments and providing fake intelligence (“weapons of mass destruction”) for illegal US wars.

If the Washington Post and the New York Times, the so-called “newspaper of record” of what previously passed for American liberal journalism, were operating with a shred of journalistic integrity, the revelation of such compromising actions by New Knowledge would compel them to issue an immediate retraction of their previous promotion of New Knowledge’s investigations.

Neither will do so, because they do not function as houses of genuine journalism, but rather of government propaganda. The campaign over Russian-backed “fake news” is not based on actual facts but is itself the greatest fake news story of all. Its purpose is to justify mass censorship of the internet. Its target is not Russia, but political opposition among workers and young people inside the US, and their determination to obtain information outside of the control of the corporate media, and to organize struggles against social inequality on social media.

No Ukraine-Russia war, no World War III!


This 26 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Moscow & NATO Playing a ‘Dangerous Tit-For-Tat Game’ in Ukraine

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson says that the latest Ukraine crisis, in which Russia is holding Ukrainian navy boats, was foreseeable and likely, given NATO’s constant encroachment on Russia’s border region.

By Clara Weiss in Germany:

Russia-Ukraine stand-off over Azov Sea continues as Poroshenko declares martial law

27 November 2018

Following Russia’s capture of three Ukrainian vessels on Sunday in the Azov Sea, the Ukrainian government, at the behest of President Petro Poroshenko and the War Cabinet, has introduced martial law starting November 28 for 30 days. On Monday, the Ukrainian armed forces also announced that they were fully combat ready. Meanwhile, US media foreign policy and think tank officials have been beating the war drum, urging a “tough” response to alleged “Russian aggression” by Ukraine, NATO and the US.

The Azov Sea borders southwestern Russia, the southeast of Ukraine as well as Crimea, and enters into the Black Sea, which is of key geostrategic significance to both the US and Russia, as a water gateway to the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The stand-off occurred at the Kerch Strait, which is the only link between both seas and has been largely under the control of Russia since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in early 2014.

From daily News Line in Britain today:

The Ukrainian navy vessels were sailing through the narrow Kerch Strait between Crimea and mainland Russia which connects the Azov Sea with the Black Sea. Under a 2003 treaty, ships from both Russia and Crimea have freedom to pass through the very narrow and difficult to navigate Strait on condition that they first contact the Crimean sea port for permission that it is safe to do so. All vessels are required to proceed directly through the Strait and not perform any manoeuvres that endanger other ships.

According to the Russian authorities responsible for safeguarding the Strait the three Ukrainian ships gave no warning that they were entering it, ignored repeated requests to leave Russia’s territorial waters, and entered a stretch that had been temporarily closed to navigation.

The Clara Weiss article continues:

In the most significant direct confrontation between the Russian and Ukrainian military since 2014, Russian warships fired at and captured three Ukrainian vessels after they entered Russian territorial waters. Several Ukrainian sailors were wounded. Russian media have called it a “veritable maritime battle.” Initially shut down by Russia, the Kerch Strait has now been reopened for civilian ships.

The Kiev regime, brought to power in an imperialist-backed, far-right coup in February 2014, had so far refrained from introducing martial law, despite an ongoing civil war in the east of the country that has claimed the lives of over 10,000 people. Poroshenko initially declared martial law for 60 days, but then reduced the duration to 30 days, following a public outcry. He also insisted in a statement that the declaration of martial law in response to Russia’s “aggression” did not mean an open declaration of war with Russia.

The introduction of martial law by Poroshenko is a transparent attempt to exploit the crisis to intensify the far-advanced drive toward dictatorial rule in dealing with an ever deepening domestic crisis. Martial law is being imposed in the midst of a campaign for the March 2018 presidential elections in which Poroshenko is performing worse than all other candidates in the polls and is almost certain to lose his bid for reelection.

Nearly five years after the beginning of the conflict with Russia, some one million Ukrainians are on the verge of starvation, hundreds of thousands have left the country to live and work abroad; and thousands of workers have been going on strike to protest starvation-level wages. There is also enormous anger about the government’s open ties to and reliance on far-right forces, as recently evidenced in the fascist assassination of a former Maidan activist.

Under these conditions, not only Poroshenko but the entire Ukrainian ruling class see the whipping up of militarism, nationalist hysteria and the promotion of dictatorial rule as the only means to deal with mass social discontent.

The escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the introduction of martial law by Kiev have triggered a devaluation of the currencies and a fall on the stock markets of both countries. The value of the Ukrainian currency, the Hryvnia, fell, trading at 27.89 to the dollar on Tuesday, compared to 27.79 to the dollar on Monday. The National Bank of Ukraine has called upon the country’s banks to guarantee cash supply at ATMs in an expected rise in demand because of the state of martial law. The value of several major Ukrainian companies also fell on the stock markets.

The Russian ruble experienced an even sharper devaluation, with the index of the Moscow stock market falling by 1.46 percent.

More details have since emerged about the stand-off on Sunday, suggesting that Ukraine consciously provoked some kind of response by Russia to use as a pretext for an escalation of the long-simmering military conflict.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which fired at the ship on Sunday, released a transcript, according to which the Ukrainian vessels performed maneuvers in Russian territorial waters in the Azov Sea, staying in the waters for some 12 hours and refusing to leave upon the request of Russian authorities. The Ukrainian vessels, according to Russian officials, also entered waters that had been temporarily closed to navigation. In a statement, the FSB argued that the Russian warships were forced to open fire because the three Ukrainian ships had ignored “legal demands to stop” and were “performing dangerous maneuvers.” Footage released by the FSB shows one of the Ukrainian vessels ramming a Russian warship.

The Kremlin has denounced the vessels’ maneuvers as “a dangerous provocation. On Monday, an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council took place. When the agenda proposed by Russia, including Ukraine’s violation of its borders, was voted down (only China, Kazakhstan, Bolivia and Russia voted for it, four abstained), the Russian representatives left the meeting. The UN Security Council instead adopted the agenda proposed by Ukraine.

The British ambassador to the UN denounced Russia’s refusal to participate in the meeting as “provocative.” The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, condemned the use of force by Russia and insisted that it had to release the Ukrainian vessels. Tusk later met with Poroshenko to discuss the situation. Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs, echoed Tusk’s statements, calling upon Russia “to immediately de-escalate the situation.”

The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said: “As President Trump has said many times, the United States would welcome a normal relationship with Russia. But outlaw actions like this one continue to make that impossible.” In reality, the US has helped ratchet up tensions in the region in recent months by supplying Ukraine with missiles and patrol boats, including ones to be used in the Azov Sea. Trump and Putin are set to meet later this week.

Behind the scenes, more open discussions about a military escalation are taking place among the strategists of US imperialism. In a publication by the Atlantic Council, a leading foreign policy think tank in Washington, Michael Carpenter, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, urged the US to “respond immediately by giving Ukraine radars to boost its maritime domain awareness and land-based anti-ship missiles so it can defend its Azov Sea littoral.”” Ukraine insists that it had the right under international law to transit the strait and called Russia’s firing on its vessels an “act of aggression.”

Taras Berezovets, a Ukrainian TV host and founder and CEO of Free Crimea, said: “The US should sanction Nord Stream 2 [pipeline]. NATO should increase its military presence in the Black Sea to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine should declare martial law, impose visa regime, and break the 2003 Azov Sea Treaty.” The Azov Sea Treaty from 2003 regulates relations between Ukraine and Russia, dividing up both the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait between the two, and provides for a ban on foreign ships—including NATO—unless their passage is sanctioned by both countries.

Phillip Karber, who was worked for various US government agencies and now heads the Potomac Foundation, an American NGO that has close ties to the State Department, was even more explicit: “It’s time to spell it like it smells—it’s war!” He demanded “full wartime level of mobilization” in Ukraine; the re-equipment of the Ukrainian military “with modern Western military technology”; that NATO include Ukraine in the alliance, and that the US provide Ukraine “with the hardware needed to sustain a long-term competitive posture.”

The dangerous developments in the Black Sea region underscore the warnings of the ICFI of the danger of a Third World War. Neither the Putin regime, which is the outcome of the Stalinist destruction of the Soviet Union and fears the socialist mobilization of the Russian working class more than any assault by imperialism, nor any other section of the bourgeoisie can be relied upon to fend off the threat of war and dictatorship. Only an independent movement by the working class against capitalism and the nation-state system can put an end to the danger of another imperialist world war and nuclear annihilation.

Over the past several days, Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine and head of the All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” party, has toured Washington to garner support for her presidential bid in the elections in March 2019. Early polling sees her as the front-runner, leading the rest of the potential candidates in a crowded field by nearly twofold: here.

Ukraine purchases armed drones from Turkey. Purchase agreement covers 6 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles, 3 ground control station systems and equipment: here.

Willow warblers’ long-distance migration record


This video from Britain says about itself:

This bird ID video gives useful tips on how to distinguish between Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. It is one of a series of bird ID videos produced by the BTO.

From Lund University in Sweden:

Songbirds set long-distance migration record

November 15, 2018

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have studied flight routes to determine how far willow warblers migrate in the autumn. The results show that the willow warbler holds a long-distance migration record in the ten-gram weight category — with the small birds flying around 13,000 kilometres or longer to reach their destination.

The recently completed study investigated willow warblers that breed during the summer in north-east Russia. Biologists at Lund University together with Russian researchers from Magadan, close to the Kamtjatka Peninsula, managed to get a good overview of the route and distance travelled by the small birds during their autumn migration.

The measurements were taken by small data loggers attached to the backs of the birds. The next year, the birds were recaptured and the researchers downloaded and processed the data.

From their breeding habitats in eastern Siberia, the willow warblers fly to staging areas located in south-west Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. From there, they continue to their winter destinations, located in Kenya and Tanzania — a distance of around 13,000 kilometres.

“Our measurements show that they migrate 13,000 kilometres, but we have not been able to measure the entire distance because the data logger batteries ran out. My guess is that they fly at least another 1,000 kilometres to south-east Africa,” says Susanne Åkesson, professor at the Department of Biology at Lund University.

Other studies have shown that there are birds that migrate farther, but they looked at larger birds that weigh more. Willow warblers weigh 8-9 grams during the breeding period and about 10 grams when they migrate.

“I think it’s fascinating — they are so small and migrate at least 13,000 kilometres one way. There are no other studies that show that birds of that size can migrate that far. Even more impressive perhaps is that they make the journey alone in their first year of life”, says Susanne Åkesson.

In addition to the record for long-haul migration, the study is also the first to show where the most easterly willow warblers spend the winter in east Africa. Moreover, the researchers compared alternative compass routes with the routes the birds actually take. Based on this, they identified two alternative mechanisms that the willow warblers can use during their long migration — a solar compass that compensates for time shifts during the migration, and a magnetic compass based on the assumption that the birds can measure the inclination angle of the Earth’s magnetic field.

No Trump/Russia collusion evidence, Woodward says


This 13 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Woodward: No Evidence Of Trump Russia Collusion

Bob Woodward, in an interview regarding his latest book, Fear, admits to not finding any evidence of Trump/Russia collusion. Here is his perspective.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of evidence of Trump’s homophobia and transphobia; of his shredding of the nuclear missile treaty; of  his shredding of the Iran deal; of his shredding of the Paris climate agreement; of Trump’s biggest military budget of all time; of his tax cuts for billionaires including himself; of his attack on ‘Dreamer’ young immigrants; of his threats to shoot women and children; of his re-starting of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline; etc.

Evidence which the newly elected Democrat majority in the United States House of Representatives might use to wage opposition to Trump from the left; if they would want to do so.

Trump cancels G20 meeting with Putin amid rising tensions. By Andre Damon, 30 November 2018. As world leaders head to the G20 Summit, the United States is poised to intensify its conflicts with Russia, China and Europe. Commenting on the fast-approaching event, the German weekly Der Spiegel called American President Donald Trump the “terror” of the assembled world leaders. No one, perhaps least of all Trump, knows the outcome of the summit in advance, or which part of the world will be the main target of US threats: here.

Rather than being a symptom of Russia or some other foreign country, Trump is a symptom of the domestic situation in the USA.

This 13 November 2018 video from te USA says about itself:

Judge Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline In Blow To Trump

A judge has blocked the Keystone XL Pipeline. This is great news for the environment but will it stand?

In the wake of the one-two punch of articles in the New York Times and Washington Post suggesting that President Trump is an agent of the Russian government—or to be precise, that the FBI suspected that he was a Russian agent and opened a counterintelligence investigation (as the Times reports), and that Trump is concealing his private dealings with Putin as president (as the Post claims)—the American media has gone into a McCarthyite hysteria: here.

Trump’s anti-Russia nuclear escalation


This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Tears up Treaties Pushing for War on Iran, Using Bush-Style Iraq Lies

10 October 2018

As the US ramps up aggression against Iran, withdrawing from agreements and imposing crippling sanctions, Iranians fear Trump and the neocons he surrounded himself with want war – and are echoing Bush-era Iraq “WMD” lies to justify it.

And it is not just Trump’s aggressive policies against Iran. Also against Venezuela. Against Canada. Against Africa. Against China. Against Yemen. Against Syria. Against Afghanistan. Etc.

And now, against Russia. Which may be a bit of a surprise to people who have heard again and again that Trump supposedly does not represent a clique of United States billionaires, but the Russian government. Instead of attacking Trump from the left, eg, about his militarism, his tax cuts for the rich, his homophobia, his misogyny and his witch-hunting of immigrants, eg, the Clintonites in the United States Democratic party usually attack Trump from the right: claiming that Trump is not pushing hard enough for escalation between nuclear armed USA and nuclear armed Russia. The United States establishment is roughly divided into two camps: the Clinton camp primarily anti-Russian; the Trump camp primarily anti-Iranian and anti-Chinese.

When in Stalin’s Soviet Union there was internal criticism and conflict, that was usually blamed on the CIA and other foreign interference. Similarly, now, eg, the Clintonian Democratic establishment in the USA blames internal conflicts in the USA on ‘Johnny Foreigner’, on Ivan (or Vladimir) the Russian. Not just Trump is then attacked as supposedly a Russian puppet; also, eg, the Black Lives Matter movement, or anti-fascists banned from Facebook for supposedly being ‘tools of Russia’.

The main cause of problems of the USA is not that outside it, there is Russia and many other countries. It is that three billionaires are richer than the poorest 50% of people in the USA.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 20 October 2018:

President Trump threatens to cancel the treaty with Russia on nuclear missiles for the short and medium range (500-5000 kilometers). Trump says that Russia does not keep to the agreement, without giving any further explanation.

“We will end the agreement and start producing these weapons”, Trump said. …

The INF Convention has been in force since 1 June 1988. This was the result of negotiations between the then US President Reagan and the Secretary General of the Soviet Union Gorbachev. It prohibits the possession, production and testing of missiles with this range, which are fired from the ground.

‘A Colossal Mistake’: Experts Sound the Alarm After Trump Plans to Ditch Nuclear Arms Control Treaty With Russia. The move “would be reckless and stupid”. By Jessica Corbett.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg delivered the first-ever address by a leader of the US-led imperialist alliance to a joint session of the US Congress on Wednesday, promoting a military buildup against Russia under conditions in which ever greater fissures are threatening to tear NATO itself apart: here.

Noam Chomsky on corporate media’s ‘Russia’ obsession


This 27 July 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Noam Chomsky on Mass Media Obsession with Russia & the Stories Not Being Covered in the Trump Era

The New York Times reports special counsel Robert Mueller is scrutinizing President Trump’s tweets as part of Mueller’s expanding probe into Trump’s ties to Russia. This latest revelation in the Mueller investigation is part of a nearly 24-hour stream of headlines about Trump, Russia and the administration’s various scandals. But is the mainstream media missing the real stories amid its obsession with “Russiagate”? For more, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and professor Noam Chomsky on media manipulation in the Trump era.

A comment on this video says:

MSM [Main Stream Media] Isn’t Covering Climate Change, Teacher’s Strike, Income Inequality, Police Terror, illegal Foreign Wars, The Effect Of The Tax Cuts, Student Debt Crisis, Homelessness, Electoral College, Super Delegates, Gerrymandering [three factors helping Trump ‘win’ the 2016 election, apart from the Clinton factor], Supreme Court Hurting Worker’s Right Joining Unions

I might add the recent passing of Trump’s Pentagon budget, the biggest military budget in United States history, by the United States House of Representatives. Apart from the Republicans, 139 Democratic representatives voted for Trump’s budget; only 49 against.

I might add Donald Trump’s attack on ‘Dreamer’ immigrant young people; let down by corporate Democratic politicians, who, instead of attacking Trump from the left, prefer screaming ‘Russia! Russia!

In the early summer, the Clinton Foundation released hundreds of pages of newly declassified documents about conversations between US president Bill Clinton and Russian president Boris Yeltsin between 1996 and 1999. The documents show the extent of US meddling in Russian domestic politics in the 1990s, and are a stark testimony to the groveling of the Russian oligarchy, personified by Boris Yeltsin, before US imperialism. Under conditions of a thoroughly hypocritical and right-wing media hysteria about alleged Russian “meddling” in the 2016 US elections, and a massive NATO military build-up against Russia, these documents acquire special significance. It is telling that hardly any US newspaper reported on the newly declassified records which contradict almost every element of their anti-Russian propaganda: here.

New York Times’ fraudulent “election plot” dossier escalates anti-Russia hysteria: here.