torsdag 31. mars 2016

50th humanitarian aid convoy rolls into Donbass as Moscow marks 1.5 years keeping 5 million Ukrainians alive

© Graham Phillips
Russia's emergencies ministry has sent yet another humanitarian convoy to Donbass. This latest convoy is the 50th to deliver aid to the besieged population. The convoy is made up of about 90 trucks carrying more than 1,100 tons of food products, textbooks, and articles of daily necessity.

"The convoy will break in two before the state border. One convoy will go to the Donetsk border checkpoint, the other - to the Matveyev Kurgan checkpoint," the ministry press service said, adding that the trucks will be checked at the border checkpoints by Russian and Ukrainian customs and border officers in the presence of monitors from the OCSE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) mission.

Since mid-August 2014, the Russian emergencies ministry has delivered more than 59,000 tons of humanitarian aid, of which about 43,000 tons were food products, to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions


Mass suicides of refugees from Donbass to Ukraine because of “dog's life”

Refugees from Donbass, who decided to move to the territory of Ukraine, are massively committing suicide due to unbearable living conditions.

It was stated on the "National security" program by Sergey Kunitsyn, a MP from the "Petro Poroshenko Block" and a former Crimean, reports The Politnavigator.
According to him, in particular, it regards problems in Odessa.
‘These displaced people have terrible problems. We have revealed a situation in Odessa where in a former pioneer camp there live two thousand people, refugees from Donbass. For six months there have been committed seven suicides. Can you imagine it? They live in the dog’s conditions,’ said Kunitsyn.
DONi News Agency

Philip Hammond has a funny way of showing his commitment to ‘international norms’

Danielle Ryan
Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance journalist and media analyst. She has lived in the US and Germany and is currently based in Moscow. She previously worked as a digital desk reporter for the Sunday Business Post in Dublin. She studied political reporting at the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism in Washington, DC and also has a degree in business and German. She focuses on US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias. 
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond © Eddie Keogh
Gone are the good ol’ days when Russia was only a ‘threat’ to countries on its periphery. Moscow now represents a threat to “all of us” according to British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. 
Speaking to Reuters during a trip to Georgia, Hammond said Russia was a threat to all countries on the basis that it “ignores the norms of international conduct and breaks the rules of the international system” — and this, he said “represents a challenge and a threat to all of us.”

The first, but most minor point to make here is that Russia’s allies would probably beg to differ. Hammond’s comments are a prime example of the flippant way in which leaders and representatives of Western nations make sweeping statements about “us all” or the “international community” when what they actually mean is “us and our friends.”

But, like I said, that is a minor issue in comparison to the outrageously hypocritical reasoning Hammond gave to justify his opinion.

International law, except not for us

In March 2014, Curtis FJ Doebbler, a professor of international law in the Faculty of International Relations at Webster University in Geneva wrote for CounterPunch that “like any source of law, a large part of the legitimacy of international law depends on its equal application to all.” This, demonstrably, has not been the case when it comes to the United States.

American lawyers and diplomats, Doebbler continued, have attempted to twist international law “into an instrument justifying the actions of the United States, while criticizing the actions of other States based misinterpretations or misapplication” of that law.

There simply can be no question mark here. It is incontrovertibly true. To get through all the examples of Washington’s blatant disregard for international law would take an eternity. But let’s do a quick recap of some of the more egregious examples:
  • US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, illegal under international law: Civilian death toll up for debate, a Guardian report estimated that as many as 20,000 could have been killed in the first year of conflict alone.
  • US invasion of Iraq in 2003, illegal under international law: Left one million dead, according to variousreports.
  • NATO intervention in Libya in 2011 violated the parameters of the UN resolution permitting NATO action, hence also illegal. The intervention left scores of civilians dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. Libya, once the richest country in Africa, is now a failed state.
  • US bombing of Syria in 2014, illegal under international law. Washington has been given no authority to carry out airstrikes in Syria. Nor, by the way, has the United Kingdom (maybe someone should tell Hammond?)
  • Ongoing use of drone strikes, killing hundreds of innocents, including children.
  • Continued use of Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention and torture of people ‘perceived’ as threats. In one of the grossest injustices, Shaker Aamer was held at Guantanamo for 13 years without trial or charge before finally being reunited with his family in the UK.
None of this is up for debate — and yet Hammond has not, to my knowledge, classified the United States as a threat to “all of us”. If breaking international law is the benchmark here, it would follow that he probably should.

What’s an invasion or two among friends?

Unfortunately, as Hammond has just displayed, Western nations often confuse ‘consensus among friends’ to mean ‘legal’. As such, they believe that none of their actions deserve to be scrutinized in the same manner as the actions of their declared enemies. This however, does not stop them from using the subject of international law as an “instrument of political rhetoric” to condemn other countries.

Washington has displayed such flagrant disregard for international “norms” and the “rules of the international system” so consistently and so appalling that the world has become desensitized to it. To acknowledge the sheer scale of the horror that has been unleashed by our collective indifference is too uncomfortable. Our best bet is to distract ourselves with a convenient bogeyman.

Hammond might be happy to bury his head in the sand, but it doesn’t make what he is saying any less ridiculous when all the facts are laid on the table.

What Hammond really means

And it’s not the first time Hammond has hugely exaggerated (or fabricated, if you prefer) the threat Russia poses to the UK. In March of last year, he said Russia could potentially pose the “single greatest threat” to Britain’s security. It’s unclear what kind of alternate universe you need to be living in to believe this, but what is clear is that Hammond has upped sticks and taken residence there.

The truth is, what Hammond and his neighbors in cuckoo-land really mean when they say these things is that Russia is a threat to Western dominance; the dominance that allows their own breaches of international law to go unchecked and unpunished and anyone else’s to be amplified a thousand-fold. Any threat or challenge to that hegemony in international affairs is unacceptable. And that, more than anything, is the threat which Russia represents.

The funny thing is, Hammond probably doesn’t think that’s what he means. He probably genuinely believes that Russia threatens the security of Britain. Whether he thinks this conflict might take the form of an invasion, an unprovoked nuclear attack, information warfare or something else, he has probably convinced himself that there really is cause for huge concern. After all, he has admitted that for “anyone over the age of about 50” fearing Russia is familiar territory. He is not an expert on today’s Russia, its political system or its foreign policy. All he really has to go on are his bad memories of the Cold War and whatever terribly misinformed advice he is being given.

But threat or no threat, if the “rules of the international system” are really that important to Philip Hammond, he’s got a funny way of showing it.

Stephen F. Cohen: Palmyra -- Why Is Obama Silent on ISIS' Biggest Defeat to Date? (Audio Podcast)

No congratualations were forthcoming from the White House

Originally appeared at The John Batchelor Show
John Batchelor has an extremely popular political talk show on America’s largest radio network, WABC.
He has Stephen Cohen on live in the studio almost every week for a full 45 minute segment, the only guest he gives that much time to. 

Why? Because Cohen’s appearances are killing the ratings. America seems to be thirsting for an alternative and critical view of Obama’s Russia policy. 

See below for a summary of this program courtesy of The Nation.

Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US­-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments are at

By regaining control of Palmyra, a major and ancient city, Cohen argues, the Syrian army and its ground allies, backed by Russian air power, have dealt ISIS its most important military defeat.

The victory belies the US political-media establishment’s allegations that Putin’s six-month military intervention was a sinister move designed to thwart the West’s fight against terrorism.

Instead, it has gravely wounded the Islamic State, whose agents were behind the terrorist assaults on Paris and Brussels.

Indeed, Cohen points out, US–Russian cooperation in Syria, which includes the Geneva peace negotiations, is the result of a kind of mini-détente brokered by Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Not surprisingly, these positive developments are being assailed by the American-led war party, which has redoubled its vilification of Russian President Putin, preposterously accusing him, for example, of “weaponizing the migration crisis” in Europe, even though the crisis began long before Russia’s intervention in Syria.

Putin clearly backs Lavrov’s initiatives, even meeting with Kerry several times. Obama’s stance, it seems to Cohen, remains unclear.

Neither he nor the American commander of NATO congratulated or otherwise applauded the Syrian-Russian victory in Palmyra, and Obama again went out of his way to insult Putin (twice).

With US backing, the Kerry-Lavrov mini-détente might extend to the political epicenter of the new Cold War, Ukraine.

Instead, Cohen explains, Washington is seeking to make the US-born Natalie Jeresko prime minister of Ukraine, putting an American face on the ongoing Western colonization of the Kiev government. 

Jaresko is also the candidate of the US-controlled IMF, on which Kiev is financially dependent but whose demands for economic austerity measures and “privatization” of state enterprises will almost certainly further diminish the government’s sharply declining popular support and further abet the rise of ultra-right-wing Ukrainian forces and Kiev’s conflict with Russia.

Meanwhile, in recent interviews, Donald Trump has emerged as the only US presidential candidate to challenge Washington’s bipartisan foreign policies that contributed greatly to the new Cold War.

As Cohen predicted last week, the American national security establishment has reacted to Trump as an “anti-Christ,” along with the equivalent of the preceding Cold War’s redbaiting.

Thus, Hillary Clinton charged that Trump’s less militarized proposals would be like “Christmas in the Kremlin.”

The mainstream media has taken the same approach to Trump, thereby continuing to deprive America of the foreign policy debate it urgently needs.

Bill allowing foreigners to head the Ministry of Finance filed in Rada

The speaker of the Verkhovnaya Rada of Ukraine Vladimir Groisman has registered in the parliament a bill allowing foreigners to hold the position of the head of the Ministry of Finance.

A potential candidate for the post of the Prime Minister of Ukraine Groisman previously presented his program of the new Cabinet to the heads of the parliamentary factions. He also stated that he would like to see the former head of the Ministry of Economy of Slovakia Ivan Miklos in the post of the Finance Minister of the government. According to the Ukrainian law, the public office can be taken only the citizens of Ukraine.
‘The post of Minister of Finance of Ukraine can be appointed to a foreigner among former heads and members of foreign governments, speaking the state language or understanding it sufficiently to perform his duties,’ says the bill.
According to the bill, such official shall obtain the citizenship of Ukraine during a year, otherwise he will be fired. The official will have the status of resident on the territory of Ukraine on legal grounds without obtaining a residence permit.
DONi News Agency

FSB: CIA Is in Charge of Ukrainian Security Sevices, SBU Agent Detained (Press Release)

Translated by 
Kristina Kharlova

Agent of Department of counterintelligence of the Central apparatus of the Security Service of Ukraine has been detained

On March 26 an employee of the Department of counterintelligence of the central apparatus of Security service of Ukraine, Colonel Yury Ivanchenko was detained on the territory of Russian Federation.  Ivanchenko arrived to Russia under the pretext of visiting relatives, despite the fact that SBU prohibits its employees from visiting Russia.

Even before his arrival in Russia, FSB received advance information that the SBU and the CIA prepared the operation for Ivanchenko's recruitment by the FSB by offering his services.

It is known that at present representatives of U.S. intelligence who oversee all the work of the SBU against Russia operate at the SBU building. 

First time Ivanchenko tried to offer his services to the FSB of Russia in 2014.

SBU agent had to interest FSB in his capabilities to obtain secret information and convince FSB of the need to communicate with him in Kiev through secret drop points.

At some stage SBU and CIA planned to capture the FSB agent red-handed, while obtaining information from Ivanchenko.

After the detention, Ivanchenko, not fearing of being convicted of treason, demanded to call the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow. The opportunity to contact the Ukrainian Embassy was provided.

Because the acts of the foreigner did not cause damage to security of Russian Federation, he will be deported to Ukraine and banned from entering Russia.

Assad says ‘Erdogan's army of terrorists’ fighting in Syria

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad © SANA
Turkey’s direct support for terrorists fighting in Syria makes them President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s own army, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an exclusive interview with Sputnik, adding that his country is ready to counter the aggression. 
Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia, have "crossed all possible red lines, possibly from the first weeks of the Syrian war," Assad said. 

"Today, the war against Erdogan and against Saudi Arabia is a war against terrorists. The Turkish army, which is not even Turkish, is Erdogan's army that is fighting today in Syria," he added.

Everything that Ankara and Riyadh “have done from the very beginning can be considered aggression. Aggression in a political sense or in a military sense – providing terrorists with arms – or direct aggression with the use of artillery, and other military violations," he stressed. 
Erdogan is directly supporting the terrorists as “he allows them to move into Turkish territory, to carry out maneuvers with tanks,” the Syrian president said. 

“This concerns not only individuals, he finances them [terrorists] through Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and through Turkey itself, of course,” he said.

According to Assad, his Turkish counterpart “trades oil that has been stolen by IS (Islamic State, Daesh), at the same time carrying out artillery attacks against the Syrian army - when it moves close - in order to help the terrorists.”

According to the President, countermeasures to Turkey's aggressive actions must first of all take place within Syrian territory.

Successful strikes against terrorists in the country will lead to the failure of policies pursued by Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he added.

"They are terrorists and when we attack these terrorists in Syria, this leads to Erdogan's direct defeat," Assad said.  

However, Assad stressed that there was no dispute between the peoples of Syria and Turkey.

The relations between the two countries will be “good” if Erdogan stops interfering in Syrian affairs, he explained.

During the interview, Assad also expressed readiness to call an early presidential election in Syria if the people desire one.

"This depends on the Syrian people’s stance, on whether there is a popular will to hold early presidential elections. If there is such a will, this is not a problem for me. It is natural to respond to the will of the people and not to that of certain opposition forces,” he said.

“The president cannot work without the people’s support,” the Syrian leader added.

If the election takes place, every Syrian citizen, including those who left because of war, should be able to take part in the voting, he said.

“This issue concerns every Syrian citizen because every citizen votes for the president," Assad stressed.

Assad also recalled his surprise visit to Moscow last autumn, which came less than two weeks after Russia began its bombing campaign against the terrorists in Syria on September 30, 2015.

"That visit was made under special circumstances,” he said, adding that no documents were signed during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The talks in the Russian capital mainly revolved around two issues: “Firstly, the military operation, which had begun at the time, and as a consequence, the need to strike a blow at terrorism. Secondly, we focused on how we could use the military operation to support the political process,” the Syrian president told Sputnik.

At least 5 block of flats, nursery and boiler station destroyed as a result of shelling by Ukrainian fighters (Photos)

As a result of shelling carried out by UAF, 5 block of flats in the northern suburb of Gorlovka were destroyed. Nursery and object of utility infrastructure were destroyed.

The shelling conducted from positions of Ukrainian side.

The hostility used tanks, heavy artillery and mortars.

Utility workers are trying now to restore gas supply there; smell of char is still felt. Be reminded that 1 civilian got wounded.

Important! Zaytsevo is being shelled all day. Building of local administration in Zaytsevo was directly struck

Novorossia Today
The building of administration of Zaytsevo (Gorlovka) got numerous damages as a result of shelling by Ukrainian nationalistic battalions.

We will point out that the administration is n the first floor of 2-storied populated house. All doors and windows flew away. Walls and roof were destroyed.

The shelling stopped, workers of the OSCE and JCCC, and DPR Defence Ministry arrived to monitor the destroying.

Since night the shelling of Zaytsevo restarted several times, earlier was reported that at least 5 civilians wounded and 5 block of flats destroyed.

Bombings In Europe “Operation Gladio” And Erdogan, A Bomb-tastic Strategy !

Jordan’s King Abdullah believes that Turkey is deliberately exporting terrorists to Europe. (He’s not the only one.)


The king’s comments were made during a January meeting with members of US Congress, and were only recently revealed by the Middle East Eye. According to reports, Abdullah didn’t mince words:

The monarch said that Islamist militants were being “manufactured in Turkey” and “unleashed” into Europe.

He also used the debriefing, held after a cancelled rendezvous with US President Barack Obama, to remind the US politicians of Turkey’s alleged complicity in buying Isis oil.

“The fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy,” said King Abdullah. “Turkey keeps on getting a slap on the hand, but they are let off the hook.”

Arguing that the autocratic Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan believes in a “radical Islamic solution to the region”, King Abdullah said.

We have a sneaking suspicion that Abdullah wasn’t expecting his comments to be picked up by the press: After his accusations were published, Jordan’s government spokesman issued a non-denial denial:

“Turkey-Jordan relations are historic and based on mutual respect principle,” said the Jordanian government spokesman, adding that these claims could not impact the relation between the two countries.

“This kind of news is devoid of the minimum of vocational professionalism,” Mumuni added.

Of course, we’ll never know for sure, but it’s doubtful that the Middle East Eye — which has an excellent track record, in our opinion — would make up such a story, especially considering how detailed the report is (they also claim Abdullah told Congress members about “a tense stand-off between Turkish, Israeli and Russian war planes”; why bother fabricating something like that when the claims about Turkey exporting terrorism are already so provocative?)

And frankly speaking, Abdullah’s claims don’t sound too far-fetched to us. Erdogan has cleverly used the threats posed by mass migration and terrorism to blackmail the European Union. Just four days before the Brussels attacks, he made the following remarks:

“there is no reason why the bomb that exploded in Ankara cannot explode in Brussels, in any other European city.”

“The snakes you are sleeping with can bite you any time,” he added.

And of course, Erdogan’s direct and indirect ties to the Islamic extremists terrorizing Syria have been well-documented.

But Erdogan is likely just an accessory to the crime. According to reports, “Turkey warned Belgium and the Netherlands that [the Brussels bomber] was a militant”. This provides perfect cover for both Ankara and Brussels: Turkey “warned” the EU about the militant that they were deliberately sending to the Netherlands, but “police negligence” allowed the militant to remain in Europe. An honest mistake with no malicious intent from either party.

We don’t buy it. To us this sounds like a classic Gladio-style NATO operation. For those unfamiliar with Gladio:

Operation Gladio was a clandestine NATO/CIA “stay-behind” operation in Europe during the Cold War. It was originally conceived (or so we are told) as an armed resistance group in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.

The invasion never came, so Gladio’s mission was slightly changed to “let’s bomb public buildings, and then blame the Communists.
The existence of Gladio was confirmed and admitted by the Italian government in 1990, after a judge, Felice Casson, discovered the clandestine network during his investigations into right-wing terrorism. In 1992, the BBC made a long, depressing documentary about this brilliant, bomb-tastic “strategy of tension”

Abdullah might deny that he said that Erdogan is deliberately “‘unleashing” terrorists into Europe — but it’s completely consistent with tactics that NATO has previously used to keep Europe in line.

As Erdogan warned Europe: “The snakes you are sleeping with can bite you any time”.

Russia Insider

Billions Of IMF Loans Delayed, More Chaos In The Ukraine Junta Government

Critics say the failure to form a coalition would delay reforms further and boost support for populist parties who oppose the IMF-backed austerity measures. Ukraine’s prospects of forming a new coalition — vital to get International Monetary Fund loan talks back on track — were thrown into fresh doubt on Tuesday after former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko demanded changes as the price of taking her Fatherland Party into an alliance.
Her remarks dampened expectations of an imminent deal to end months of political infighting that have thwarted Western-backed reform efforts, delaying billions of dollars in foreign loans.  The demands included scrapping a tax on pension payments and rolling back energy price hikes. The latter is a key reform implemented under Ukraine’s bailout program from the IMF.
The statement suggested a coalition was far from agreed upon despite an announcement by Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s party on Monday of a new alliance with Fatherland and Ukraine’s biggest faction, belonging to President Petro Poroshenko. Tymoshenko’s Fatherland is the smallest party in parliament, but support by its 19 lawmakers is enough to give the coalition a majority when added to the 216 MPs from Poroshenko’s and Yatseniuk’s factions.

Failure to form a coalition could trigger snap parliamentary elections, but there is no clear deadline as the responsibility for calling the vote lies with Poroshenko.


Ukraine’s prospects of forming a new coalition – vital to get IMF loan talks back on track – were thrown into fresh doubt on Tuesday after Yulia Tymoshenko pressed demands as the price of taking her Fatherland Party into an alliance. Her remarks dampened expectations of an imminent deal to end months of political infighting that have delayed Western-backed reform efforts and left Ukrainians increasingly disillusioned with the pace of change after the Maidan protests that brought the pro-Western leaders to power.

The scale of the challenge for any new administration was laid bare on Tuesday by the sacking of a reformist senior prosecutor, who at a news conference accused vested interests of throttling his efforts to tackle corruption in the prosecution service.

Tymoshenko’s requests include scrapping a tax on pension payments and rolling back energy price hikes. The latter is a key reform implemented under Ukraine’s bailout program from the International Monetary Fund.

The lack of a stable coalition capable of pushing reforms through parliament has derailed talks for a new $1.7 billion loan from the IMF. The Fund has warned that political paralysis is putting the entire $17.5 billion aid program at risk.

Tymoshenko’s comments suggested a coalition was far from agreed despite an announcement by Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s party of a new alliance with Fatherland and the faction belonging to President Petro Poroshenko.

Tymoshenko “is demanding a stack of political laws be voted on before joining the coalition. Everyone has to go back to the drawing-board,” a source in Poroshenko’s faction said.

Fatherland is the smallest party in parliament, but the support of its 19 lawmakers is enough to give the coalition a majority when added to the 216 MPs from Poroshenko’s and Yatseniuk’s factions.

Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Groysman, a 38-year-old former mayor and ally of Poroshenko, has been put forward as a replacement prime minister, but Yatseniuk has refused to step down until a new coalition agreement is signed.

Anton Gerashchenko, a lawmaker in Yatseniuk’s faction, said the three-party coalition had not been formalized.

The head of Yatseniuk’s party, Maksym Burbak, said they did not expect any final coalition agreement before next week.

Failure to form a coalition could trigger snap parliamentary elections, which critics say would delay reforms further and boost support for populist parties who oppose the IMF-backed austerity measures.

Meanwhile the prosecutor’s office was similarly immersed in high-level squabbling.

Parliament approved the forced resignation of General Prosecutor Viktor Shokin – an ally of Poroshenko – but before the vote his office announced that he had dismissed top reformist prosecutor, Davit Sakvarelidze, for “grossly violating” the ethics of his post.

Sakvarelidze, who has been in a long-running feud with Shokin, said the dismissal of him and his colleagues amounted to “a cleansing of people who are prepared every day to fight corruption and the old guard without compromise.”

If Having the First Female President Means WWIII, Then It's Not Worth It

Those who want Hillary simply because she’ll be the first female president need to think again


We came, we saw, we all die
This is one of a series of excerpts from a longer article which originally appeared in Salon under the byline Patrick L. Smith.
The author is a longtime correspondent abroad, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune and The New Yorker. He is also an essayist, critic and editor.
His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale, 2013)

President Obama brought a new attitude to America’s conduct abroad, but he has done shockingly little to improve on Bush II’s record. In some respects he has worsened things, just as Bush II worsened what Clinton I handed him, and Clinton I worsened what Bush I handed him, and so on at least as far back as Kennedy. (And I exclude neither Johnson nor Carter.) There is a malign momentum in the conduct of American foreign policy that must be broken. In this regard Hillary Clinton holds out no prospect other than continuity.

Other questions: How can any of us fail to recognize that American foreign policy, never right since it was structured as imperial strategy in the late 19th century, is now a net contributor by a long way to an acute crisis of global disorder? How can anyone view Hillary Clinton in this context and come up with the idea of voting her into the White House?

I have already suggested my answers: mythologies, orthodoxies, muddled thinking, no thinking. And I have used the word “urgent.” Yes, it is urgent we get ourselves beyond these impediments to achieve a clear view of where we are and what to do about it.

A few weeks ago I read the following in an essay published in The Nation under the headline, “Why this socialist feminist is voting for Hillary.” It was written by Suzanna Danuta Walters, a sociologist at Northeastern University: “I want a woman president… I support her less for her specific political positions… than for the iconic value of electing the first woman president of the United States.”

I cannot be the only one brought up short on reading this contribution by a self-described socialist feminist. It is an indefensible passage by any rational measure, but it is not short of implications worth dwelling upon.
Let us consider a couple of these with Clinton’s foreign policy record in view.

Iconic value for whom exactly?  In what tangible, useful forms will this value be realized in the immediacy of a world now in crisis, and how will this come to be?  Is the rest of the world supposed to accept that it is on the receiving end of Clinton II’s agenda on the foreign side for no reason other than her gender? All the world beyond our spacious skies is merely the proscenium within which orthodox American feminism achieves its highest fulfillment?

It is bitter to conclude that the only answer available here is yes. And this is problematic two ways.

One,  this kind of thinking reeks of American exceptionalism. We are invited to assume that the exercise of dominative American power is somehow in the natural order of things—and that providing Americans and all others self-deluded signifiers of our entitlement to moral leadership—independent of the actual consequences of our exercise of  power—is humane, rational and wise. It is none of these.

The first of our two problems, then, concerns exceptionalism. And let us avoid any suggestion of ad hominem argument: In its implications Walters’ thinking—our icon is more important than your village or school or political order or life—is merely symptomatic of a consciousness that afflicts more or less all of us.

It is customary to identify our historically prevalent exceptionalist consciousness with right-wing reaction. This is an inadequate analysis. However much self-described progressive or socialists or liberals may hope to hold themselves above the idea that we are exceptional in the world, the consciousness is in us like a bad odor in a carpet. We are  not sufficiently vigilant on this point—or, speaking for myself, I can say without hesitation I am not. And we have to address this now in the context of the Clinton candidacy.

 Her exceptionalism does not qualify her for “critical support,” or “lesser evil” consideration. In her case it is too consequential—too much the very wellspring of American policy as she will conduct it.

I used the phrase “orthodox American feminism.” By this I mean the purposely depoliticized feminism that emerged in the late-1960s and early 1970s—a feminism shorn of any critique of power and intent only on sharing it as it is constituted. Many years ago I spent a lot of time with veterans of the women’s movement in Japan—a savvy, salutary group with keen intellects. They dismissed the American phenomenon as “rights and careers” feminism—a good phrase. An old friend here in America with a similarly sharp mind and politics second to nobody’s calls it “Betty Friedan feminism.”
This is also a problem in need of address, given the prospect of a Clinton II government. The Clinton campaign reeks of it, and, like exceptionalism, it is a source of confusion and a cause of poor judgment, notably when carried into the foreign policy context. It gives us what we may now call “icon feminism.” To take a ready example of an icon, it gives us Madeleine Albright on camera defending the slaughter of half a million Iraqi children as “a tough decision but worth it.”

Naturally enough, we come back to Hillary Clinton’s “hard choices” and now her candidacy. And we find that another icon’s policies abroad are even more deleterious to women’s interests than many of her domestic positions.

The record is long and lately comes more to light. In the edition of CounterPunch published this week, Nick Alexandrov has a startling piece, “Hillary in Honduras,” on the fate of women after the 2009 coup that Clinton backed as secretary of state.  In The Nation, Greg Grandin describes the “all-out assault on decent people,” who include indigenous women, by the Tegucigalpa putschists Hillary still calls “a unity government.”

Libya is an ongoing tragedy—which Clinton could have avoided had she not refused negotiations, it turns out. How many civilian casualties so far—and how many of those women and children? Clinton takes a highly antagonistic position with regard to the Rouhani government in Iran, so encouraging extremist conservatives. Ever been to Iran? It teems with sophisticated women who are happy to be Iranian but remain trapped in a political, social and cultural environment wherein there is no chance of fully realizing themselves.
The list goes on. I draw a lesson from it, as follows.

Feminism must be recognized and deployed as a subset of humanism. Any other understanding of it renders it impotent in the advance of its own cause. This is a great loss to everyone. Think what a superb, inspiring force feminism of a properly thought-out kind could be in international affairs. We have rarely, if ever, seen this anywhere. We will see nothing remotely resembling it from a Clinton II White House, to state the very obvious.

What we have and will get is what is now consolidated as the orthodoxy: It is a device for the achievement of power, which is an exceedingly cynical and offensive use of feminist thought. 

Or feminism assumes an iconic character, a preoccupation with imagery and signs. Icons are sacred images, of course—that is, objects of belief, evocations of feeling. They do not require thought, do not invite it and are not expressions of it.

Hillary Clinton is an icon, is she? Anyone who wants it can have my share. With her shocking inability to learn anything from the most horrific failures of American policy abroad, she bears a big lesson, this one can say:

If Americans are to get anything of use to the world done in the 21st century, they must stop feeling and believing and begin thinking. With Clinton II so close to becoming a reality, the time for this shift in consciousness, profound and difficult as it may be, is now.

Massive Saudi offensive in northern Yemen turns disastrous: 378 killed

On Monday, the Saudi-led Coalition – backed by the Hadi loyalists – launched a massive offensive in northern Yemen, targeting the Houthi-controlled district of Midi near the Saudi border-crossing.
However, the offensive was over-hyped by the Saudi-state media and failed to yield any significant gains, despite having air supremacy and the superior firepower against the poorly-armed Houthi fighters and Yemeni Republican Guard.

According to the Yemeni news channelAl-Jabah“, 378 Saudi-led Coalition fighters were killed over the last 48 hours; this report was confirmed by the Yemeni Army’s spokesperson.

 Al-Jabah News added that the Saudi-led Coalition assault was once again repelled after the latter sustained heavy casualties.

‘This Is What Happens When You Get Into Bed With Extremists’

A general view from an office window of emergency services outside Maelbeek station is seen in Brussels, Belgium in this still image taken from video on March 22, 2016
The West has brought terrorists attacks on their own people by supporting for decades Islamist terrorists trying to achieve geostrategic objectives, said the editor of Politics First Marcus Papadopoulos, commenting on the Brussels blasts.
“The roots of these terrorist attacks are Western foreign policy. For the last 30 years or so America in particular, but also Britain and France have been working with Islamist terrorists to try and achieve geostrategic objectives. And this is what happens when you get into bed with repugnant dangerous extremist people – it comes back to haunt you,” he told RT.
“In Afghanistan in the 1980’s the Americans and the British were supporting the Mujahedeen including Osama bin Laden against the Russians; in the 1990’s during the Bosnian civil war the Americans facilitated the arrival of Mujahedeen fighters into Bosnia to fight the Serbs, because the Serbs were fighting the Islamists, the Americans were anti-Serb. But the Americans brought the Mujahedeen fighters into Europe. The Americans then invaded Iraq and they turned Iraq into a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism,” he said.
“Britain and France intervened in Libya and turned that into a failed state. Now it is ruled by various Islamist groups including ISIS. America, Britain and France, and their regional allies - Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar - have been supporting Islamist groups in Syria to try and overthrow the Syrian government… We have to analyze Western foreign policy, and by doing so, we will see that the West has brought these terrorist attacks on their very own people,” Papadopoulos added.
French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday “the world is facing a global threat, which requires a global response.” Papadopoulos agrees with the statement.
“Of course it is, but there is more than meets the eye to this. For example, the Syrian people on a daily basis are victims of terrorist attacks. Those terrorists, who are carrying out those attacks against Syrian people up and down the country on a daily basis have been backed by America, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar,” he told RT.
“The French President is right there is a global threat from terrorism,” Papadopoulos said. Yet, he argues, France has played an important role in bringing this terrorist threat to the streets of, for example, Paris.
“The threat from Islamism terrorism would be nowhere near as powerful as it is today without the support they receive from the West. And the West uses them trying to achieve geostrategic objectives,” Papadopoulos continued.
Papadopoulos suggests in the immediate term Europe has to have borders again.  

“Schengen has failed and it is finished. But if we want to tackle the reasons for the terrorist threat in the long-term, and we must always think of the long-term. We have got to see an end to Western foreign policy, in which it uses Islamist fighters to trying to achieve geostrategic objectives,” he said.
According to Papadopoulos, Syria at the moment is the principle root for Islamist terrorism.
“In order to reduce the threat Europe is facing from Islamist terrorism, the West and its regional allies – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar must - end all forms of support to all militant groups in Syria,” he said.
Papadopoulos proposes the Americans, the British, and the French tell Turkey: “Close your border with Syria. Do not allow Islamist fighters to cross into Syria anymore. Do not allow jihadists to cross from Turkey into Syria.”
Then, he said, “eventually the terrorists in Syria, the Islamist fighters will be starved, and the Syrian army, which is the heart and soul of the fight against the Islamist terrorism, backed by the Russian military will be able to liberate more and more territory which is currently occupied by ISIS, al-Nusra, the Free Syrian Army, who are all Islamist groups…”
According to Papadopoulos Turkey played a crucial role in the Syrian conflict and allowed its territory to “become a training camp for Islamist terrorists to go into Syria.”
“ISIS of course in the last year or so has taken over regrettably oil fields in Syria – they have managed to push the Syrian army out; and ISIS has been selling oil to Turkey. And Erdogan, the Turkish president, a close friend and ally of America, Britain and France has been benefiting financially.”
But the picture is bigger here as Ankara is “a puppet of the West,” the analyst said.  
“America has given the green light to Turkey to destabilize Syria, to use Islamist terrorists, jihadists to try and destroy the Syrian government,” Papadopoulos told RT.
What the West and its regional allies are trying to achieve in Syria is the overthrow of the Syrian government, and by doing that, “they would end Russian power and influence in the Middle East, and Iranian power and influence in the Middle East,” he said. “It is the game of chess in the West and its regional allies are playing. However, it is ordinary people, who are suffering,” Papadopoulos concluded.

Alleged Killer of Russian Su-24 Pilot Detained in Turkey

© Sputnik/ Dmitriy Vinogradov

According to Dogan News Agency, the alleged killer of the pilot of the downed Russian Su-24 flight has been detained in Turkey.

The man, who is believed to be responsible for the Russian pilot's death, is identified as Alparslan Chelik. 

Alparslan Çelik, İzmir'de gözaltına alındı - aracılığıyla
​According to Hurriyet newspaper, Chelik was detained Wednesday evening in Izmir. Alparslan Chelik has reportedly been fighting against the government forces in Syria.

No official explanation for his arrest has been circulated yet, but Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Moscow will study the reports on Celik's arrest and closely follow the developments.

The body of the pilot of Russia's Su-24 bomber that was shot down by Turkey last week has arrived at the Chkalovsky Airport near Moscow
© Photo: Vadim Savitsky / Russian Defense Ministry
The Russian Su-24 was shot down by a Turkish F-16 jet over Syria on November 24, falling 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Turkish border. The crew of the plane ejected and one pilot was killed by fire from the ground, according to the Russian General Staff. The co-pilot survived. 
 Su-24 pilot Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov killed by fire from the ground after ejecting from a Russian Su-24 jet downed by Turkey over Syria was posthumously awarded with a Gold Star medal, Russia's highest honorary title.

Ukrainian tycoon closing TV channel signals his intention to leave country

The Ukraine Today international TV channel, affiliated with the "1+1" media group of oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, stops all TV broadcasts as of April 1, 2016. The closure of this and other of Kolomoisky’s projects may be signs of his intention to curtail his Ukrainian assets and eventually leave Ukraine, Ruslan Bortnik, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Analysis and Policy Management, told TASS.

"Lack of funds is just one of the reasons for closing Ukraine Today," Bortnik said commenting on Tuesday’s statement of the TV channel’s General Producer Tatyana Pushnova. The expert believes the TV project turned out to be unprofitable for the Ukrainian oligarch.
Kolomoisky failed to find any external sponsors for his project while the Ukrainian state develops its own projects in this field [foreign broadcasting], Bortnik explained. 
But the key reason, in Bortnik’s view, is Kolomoisky’s obvious desire to retire from Ukraine’s political and economic battlefield together with his assets. "It’s not the oligarch’s only project, which is facing problems. Other projects, like [Kolomoisky’s] football club Dnepr [where the players are not receiving their salaries], are also in trouble," the Ukrainian expert went on to say.

DONi News Agency

AFU train snipers at football stadium in Schastye

The Kiev security officers in violation of the Minsk Accordst continue military buildup of the units in the  so-called 'anti-terrorist operation area', actively use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the intelligence and carry out training of the military on the territory of civil objects, reported the official representative of the LPR People's Militia Major Andrey Marochko.

He reminded that the Kiev gunmed shelled the positions of the LPR People's Militia three times over the last day, having noted at the same time that "the situation in the area of the People's Militia responsibility has not changed significantly over the past day and is characterized as stably tense".
According to our intelligence, it was registered that at the stadium of football club "Zarya" in town of Schastye the military of AFU are placed. There constantly take place shooting trainings, the shooting gallery and for snipers were made at the stadium
DONi News Agency

Ukrainian Punishers Receive Orders in English at UAF Training Camp

Fort Russ
Translated by 
Ollie Richardson 
for Fort Russ
31st March, 2016

The training camp is located in Melitopol, which is located near the border of the Kherson region.

If you look closely at the video, you can see that the UAF  are being trained by NATO specialists and mercenaries.

According to Aleksey Zhuravko, the UAF are being trained by the so-called Islyamov battalions - mercenaries from the Turkish group "Grey wolves" - in Kherson.