Is The UK Manufacturing Its Nerve Agent Case For ‘Action’ On Russia?

Tyler Durden , ZeroHedge, Authored by Nafeez Ahmed via Oriental Review,

The official claim that ‘Novichok’ points solely to Russia has been discredited…

On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that former Russian spy, Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned with “a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia” known as ‘Novichok’.

The chemical agent was identified by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. May referred to the British government’s “knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so” as a basis to conclude that Russia’s culpability in the attack “is highly likely.”

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Why Gina Haspel, the Queen of Torture, Was Able to Rise to the Top of the CIA

By Lisa Hajjar* – The Nation

Obama’s decision not to pursue accountability has given Bush administration criminals golden-shield powers.

President Trump finally found the opportunity to parade his pro-torture bona fides. In the latest cabinet shuffle, he promoted Gina Haspel as new director of the CIA. If Congress confirms her, she will replace Mike Pompeo, who is slated to become the new secretary of state. While Pompeo is a torture enthusiast like Trump—and many other Republican politicians—Haspel is the real deal. A career CIA agent, she played a leading role in the agency’s program of torture, kidnapping, and forced disappearance during the Bush administration.

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Reflections on Turkey: From Mustafa Kemal To Recep Erdogan

Viewpoint by Pier Francesco Zarcone*

ROME (IDN) – Has Turkey changed under Erdogan? The question may seem absurd due to the habit of considering Turkey a secular and Westernised country before Recep Erdogan came to power.

However, this consolidated image turns out to be false. There has been a change, but not in substance: what has changed is its exteriority. In fact, albeit with periodic recourse to elections, the country has always been governed in an authoritarian way, and today this feature is only more evident and its quality is more pronounced.

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A young Stephen Hawking would never have made it in today’s age of austerity

Opinion, Zoe Williams – The Guardian

The late physicist was a genius and a visionary but it is hard to imagine those qualities thriving with cuts to disability support and the NHS under attack

What is a fitting tribute to Stephen Hawking? It’s probably not to ask, as John Humphrys unaccountably did, whether the “science community cut him a lot of slack because he was so desperately disabled?” A more insulting idea is hard to imagine: that you spend your life overcoming adversity to get to the top of your field, then the minute you’re dead, someone speculates that you’d never have made it without the adversity.

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The Koch Brothers Get Their Very Own Secretary of State

By John Nichols*  – The Nation

Trump’s pick to replace Rex Tillerson is an errand boy for billionaires

In the Republican wave election of 2010, when Charles and David Koch emerged as defining figures in American politics, the greatest beneficiary of Koch Industries largesse was a political newcomer named Mike Pompeo. After his election to the House eight years ago, Pompeo was referred to as the “Koch Brothers’ Congressman” and “the congressman from Koch.”

Now Pompeo is positioned to become a Koch brothers–influenced secretary of state.

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Rohingya Crisis May Be Genocide, UN Officials Say

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 14 2018 (IPS) – In the wake of persistent violence against the Rohingya community, UN officials have expressed growing fears that genocide is being incited and committed in Myanmar.

Since violence renewed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017, almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. Often arriving to limited food and shelter, refugees have brought with them stories of serious human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and the deliberate burning of entire villages.

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Reinventing the World Social Forum?

Boaventura de Sousa Santos* – The Socialist Project

World Social Forum (WSF) met for the first time in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001. This was an event of extraordinary importance. It signaled an alternative form of globalization to the globalization being promoted by global capitalism, at a time when capitalism was increasingly assuming it is most exclusive and antisocial version: neoliberalism. This was not its first signal, but it was unquestionably its most consistent one. It put on the international agenda the struggles of the movements and social organizations fighting all over the world against the many faces of social exclusion: economic, racial, ethno-cultural, sexist, religious, etc. The WSF was, at the same time, both a symptom and a potentiality of the hope harbored by the oppressed social groups. It emerged as a world vocation in Latin America, because the subcontinent was then the world region where the popular classes were more consistently translating hope into forms of progressive government.

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Replacing Tillerson With Pompeo Would Supplant a Moderate With a Hawk

By MARK LANDLER  – The New York Times

President Trump announced that he had ousted Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and intends to replaced him with Mike Pompeo, now the C.I.A. director.

Mr. Trump also named Gina Haspel as his choice to become the next C.I.A. director.

WASHINGTON — For all his political and bureaucratic stumbles, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has been a steady voice of moderation in how the Trump administration engages with the world.

That voice will be lost if, as expected, President Trump replaces Mr. Tillerson at the State Department with Mike Pompeo, a hard-line former Republican congressman who has brought an avowedly political edge to the Central Intelligence Agency, where he is the director.

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For Trump, Crime Is Not a Problem to Be Solved, It Is a Weapon to Be Wielded

By Jon Wiener – The Nation

How the president has changed the “law and order” debate.

Chris Hayes is the Emmy Award–winning host of All In With Chris Hayes on MSNBC, and an editor at large of The Nation. His book A Colony in a Nation is out now in paperback with a new afterword. This interview has been edited and condensed.


Jon Wiener: Ta-Nehisi Coates called your book “essential and groundbreaking,” partly because you ask the question, “What do we talk about when we talk about crime?” What’s the answer?

Chris Hayes: A lot of times we’re talking about preserving a certain social order. It’s been remarkable to watch the last year unfold with a president who, probably more than any president since Nixon, rhetorically invoked law and order. He talks about chaos, lawlessness, and criminality racking the nation, and he is coming to restore law and order. Then we have watched as person after person in his inner circle has pleaded guilty to felonies. There’s been a sort of orgy of lawlessness around the president of the United States. You have to wonder, was he really talking about the law? The answer is, no. This is obviously someone whose concern for legality, or lawfulness, is trivial to nonexistent. The point is that this is not hypocrisy. It’s actually an integrated world view, in which criminality is defined by who is committing what offenses, and which side they’re on.

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The Most Dangerous Man in Europe Is Jens Weidmann

BY SIMON TILFORD * – Foreign Policy

The front-runner to lead Europe’s central bank doesn’t seem to believe in central banking.

Germany’s political and economic establishment believes its handling of the eurozone crisis and its aftermath has been vindicated. After all, the eurozone is intact and enjoying an increasingly robust economic recovery. This conveniently ignores, of course, that the euro survived because of European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi’s promise to do “whatever it takes” and buy as many government bonds as was necessary to prevent the banking systems of Italy and other crisis-riven countries from collapsing, and the euro with them. This promise drew fierce criticism in Germany and Jens Weidmann, head of Germany’s Bundesbank, was the only member of the ECB’s governing council to oppose it.

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Trump’s Travesty of Protectionism

Posted Yves Smith – Naked Capitalism

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is J is for Junk Economics. Jointly posted with Hudson’s website

Trump’s series of threats this week was a one-two punch. First, he threatened to impose national security tariffs on steel and aluminum, primarily against Canada and Mexico (along with Korea and Japan). Then, he suggested an alternative: He would exempt these countries IF they agree to certain U.S. demands.

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Want to Learn How to Save a Planet?

By Maged Srourl

ROME, Mar 9 2018 (IPS) – The agricultural sector in the Mediterranean Area is facing tough challenges and incredible opportunities at the same time: beyond a shadow of doubt, the farming sector is experiencing a critical time of change and transition towards a new era.

In collaboration with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) and the SDG Academy the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) has developed the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on “Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective”. The BCFN is an independent multidisciplinary research center, with the purpose of providing people, institutions and media with “activities and scientifically robust analysis related to food and its relationships with societies and environment.”

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International Women’s Day 2018: Beyond #MeToo, With Pride, Protests and Pressure


ROME — In the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up, International Women’s Day arrived on Thursday with a sense of urgency and determination.

For many women, there was a keen awareness that there had been a major shift in the firmament when it came to gender parity, the treatment of women in the workplace and sexual dynamics.

But others — scratching out lives in developing countries in Africa, toiling away at jobs with little pay in Latin America or scrambling to raise children without help in the Middle East — most likely had little time left over to reflect on the one day of the year designated to celebrate “the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women,” as the website says.

Nonetheless, Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner, said on Twitter: “There is a lot to fight for: Engage! Women and men alike. We need power to make equality a reality.”

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If I were the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, I’d be cynical about this state visit

Robert Fisk – The Independent

The truth is, you just can’t tell who your real friends are these days 

Thank heavens Theresa May is giving a warm welcome today to the illustrious Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Majesty Mohammad bin Salman. For it is meet and right that she should do so. His Royal Highness is a courageous Arab reformer, keen to drag his wealthy nation into the 21st century in a raft of promises – women’s rights, massive economic restructuring, moderate Islam, further intelligence gathering on behalf of the West and an even more vital alliance in the “War on Terror”.

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Gary Cohn’s Demise

David Leonhardt* – The New York Times

Serve Donald Trump at your own risk. Being a top aide in his administration doesn’t usually work out well.

Some former advisers, like Michael Flynn, are in legal trouble. Others, like Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci, became laughing stocks. Still others have tarnished once-sterling reputations.

Gary Cohn falls into the last category. Before working for Trump, Cohn had an underdog story good enough for a best-selling book. He overcame dyslexia, talked his way into a job at Goldman Sachs and rose to the No. 2 job at the firm.

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Australia and Timor-Leste sign historic maritime border treaty

Helen Davidson – The Guardian

The treaty determines entitlement to Timor Sea oil and gas reserves, including in the Greater Sunrise basin

Australia and Timor-Leste have a permanent maritime border for the first time after the signing of a significant and unprecedented treaty in New York on Wednesday.

The treaty finally determines each nation’s entitlement and ownership of the rich oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, including the untapped Greater Sunrise basin, estimated to hold $53bn worth of gas reserves.

However, the countries could not come to an agreement on how to develop the field, and will continue negotiations.

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The Chaos After Trump

David Brooks – The New York Times

What happens to American politics after Donald Trump? Do we snap back to normal or do things spin ever more widely out of control?

The best indicator we have so far is the example of Italy since the reign of Silvio Berlusconi. And the main lesson there is that once the norms of acceptable behavior are violated and once the institutions of government are weakened, it is very hard to re-establish them. Instead, you get this cycle of ever more extreme behavior, as politicians compete to be the most radical outsider. The political center collapses, the normal left/right political categories cease to apply and you see the rise of strange new political groups that are crazier than anything you could have imagined before.

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#MeToo in the Global Workplace: Time to Connect the Dots

By Laila Malik and Inna Michaeli (*)

TORONTO, Mar 6 2018 (IPS) – Since its explosion onto the social media landscape at the end of 2017, the #metoo movement has continued to gain global traction. Initially centred on powerful Hollywood women breaking decades of silence about sexual abuse and harassment in the industry, the conversation soon spread across global regions and sectors, from #YoTambien in the Spanish-speaking world to #balancetonporc in French.  From China to ???_????# in Arabic. From national governments to universities to international development, the stories are grim, and their pervasiveness has been jarring.

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The real reason Trump wants to start a trade war

By Paul Waldman*  – The Washington Post

President Trump was already expressing concern about the practices of America’s trade partners decades before he ran in the 2016 election.(Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

On most policy issues, when President Trump states his position, you can tell that he’s blurting out an unformed idea that is always subject to change. No one is really surprised when, a day or an hour later, he says the exact opposite, because when it comes to policy, generally speaking, he doesn’t know and he doesn’t care.

There is one exception, however: trade.

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Italy is headed for a hung parliament as voters shun establishment parties

Holly Ellyatt | Matt Clinch (*) – CNBC

The votes counted so far showed the Five Star Movement would be the largest single party.

But a center-right bloc — which features the right-wing Lega party and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party — would gain the most seats.

Such an early result will be concerning to Europe as M5S and Lega are likely to push their anti-establishment, euroskeptic agendas at a national level.

Italy is headed towards a hung parliament Monday, following an election that saw voters shun mainstream politics and opt for anti-establishment parties.

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