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Russia - Aircraft carrier to reinforce combat capabilities of Russian task force in Mediterranean

The Admiral Kuznets
Russia’s heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser The Admiral Kuznetsov will join the naval task force in the Mediterranean soon, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Wednesday.

"At the moment the Russian task force in the Eastern Mediterranean consists of no less than six combat ships and three or four logistic ships from all fleets. To build up the group’s combat capabilities we plan to reinforce it with The Admiral Kuznetsov-led group," Shoigu said a meeting of the Defense Ministry’s board.

Russia’s Navy has been permanently present in the Eastern Mediterranean since 2013, Shoigu recalled.

The Defense Ministry’s board is to consider progress in building seagoing ships capable of carrying long-range high accuracy weapons and measures to complete the testing of the lead frigate of project 22350 The Admiral Gorshkov.

Russiam Med. fleet supporting fight against ISIS
Earlier, in an interview with TASS a military-diplomatic source mentioned plans for sending The Admiral Kuznetsov to the Mediterranean. The official said that deck aircraft would be participating in strikes against militants in Syria. The Russian Navy’s deputy commander-in-chief Viktor Bursuk has confirmed to TASS that The Admiral Kuznetsov was slated to leave on a long voyage soon. The mission would last at least three months, the official said without mentioning where the ship would be on duty.

Last summer The Admiral Kuznetsov underwent overhaul and started testing the upgraded aircraft group that now consists of new deck fighter planes MiG-29K/KUB and Ka-52K helicopters.

The construction of The Admiral Gorshkov (project 22350) frigate began in 2006. It has been in the testing phase since 2014.

Read More: TASS: Military & Defense - Aircraft carrier to reinforce combat capabilities of Russian task force in Mediterranean

USA: Poll Economic Fairness shows Voters find Economy Unfair to Middle Class

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 35% of Likely U.S. Voters think the U.S. economy is at least somewhat fair to the middle class. Most, however, (63%) think it’s unfair.

This includes just five percent (5%) who say the economy is Very Fair to middle-class Americans and 21% who say it’s Not At All Fair. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 4-5, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Read more: Economic Fairness - Rasmussen Reports™


The US Corporate Press: "The Fable Of Good and Bad Deaths in the Middle East

Note how differently The New York Times prepares the American public for civilian casualties from the new U.S.-backed Iraqi government assault on the city of Mosul to free it from the Islamic State, compared to the unrelenting condemnation of the Russian-backed Syrian government assault on neighborhoods of east Aleppo held by Al Qaeda.

In the case of Mosul, the million-plus residents are not portrayed as likely victims of American airstrikes and Iraqi government ground assaults, though surely many will die during the offensive. Instead, the civilians are said to be eagerly awaiting liberation from the Islamic State terrorists and their head-chopping brutality.

“Mosul’s residents are hoarding food and furtively scrawling resistance slogans on walls,” writes Times’ veteran war correspondent Rod Nordland about this week’s launch of the U.S.-backed government offensive. “Those forces will fight to enter a city where for weeks the harsh authoritarian rule of the Islamic State … has sought to crack down on a population eager to either escape or rebel, according to interviews with roughly three dozen people from Mosul.

The Times article continues: “Mosul residents chafed under social codes banning smoking and calling for splashing acid on body tattoos, summary executions of perceived opponents, whippings of those who missed prayers or trimmed their beards, and destroying ‘un-Islamic’ historical monuments.”

So, the message is clear: if the inevitable happens and the U.S.-backed offensive kills a number of Mosul’s civilians, including children, The New York Times’ readers have been hardened to accept this “collateral damage” as necessary to free the city from blood-thirsty extremists. The fight to crush these crazies is worth it, even if there are significant numbers of civilians killed in the “cross-fire.”

By contrast, the Times routinely portrays the battle for east Aleppo as simply a case of barbaric Russian and Syrian leaders bombing innocent neighborhoods with no regard for the human cost, operating out of an apparent lust to kill children.

Rather than focusing on Al Qaeda’s harsh rule of east Aleppo, the Times told its readers in late September how to perceive the Russian-Syrian offensive to drive out Al Qaeda and its allies. A Sept. 25 article by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta, entitled “Syria and Russia Appear Ready to Scorch Aleppo,” began:

“Make life intolerable and death likely. Open an escape route, or offer a deal to those who leave or surrender. Let people trickle out. Kill whoever stays. Repeat until a deserted cityscape is yours. It is a strategy that both the Syrian government and its Russian allies have long embraced to subdue Syrian rebels, largely by crushing the civilian populations that support them.

“But in the past few days, as hopes for a revived cease-fire have disintegrated at the United Nations, the Syrians and Russians seem to be mobilizing to apply this kill-all-who-resist strategy to the most ambitious target yet: the rebel-held sections of the divided metropolis of Aleppo.”

Again, note how the “rebels” are portrayed as local heroes, rather than a collection of jihadists from both inside and outside Syria fighting under the operational command of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which recently underwent a name change to the Syria Conquest Front. But the name change and the pretense about “moderate” rebels are just more deceptions.

Read more: Consortiumnews – Independent Investigative Journalism Since 1995

The Netherlands: Geert Wilders PVV drops 6 percentage points in latest election popularity political poll

The ruling VVD would be the biggest party in parliament if there was a general election tomorrow, according to a new poll from Kantar TNS, formerlly TNS Nipo.

The poll gives the right-wing Liberals 27 seats in the 150 seat parliament, or 18% of the vote. Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV, which was on target to win 29 seats in the September poll, has now slumped to 23.

In June, Nipo put support for the PVV as high as 36 seats, or 24% support. The middle ground is still held by the Liberal Democrats (D66), Socialists and Christian Democrats on 18 and 16 seats respectively.

Wilders who has alligned himself closely with Donald Trump, and even went to the Republican convention to openly endorse him can expect even more backlash from that decision if Trump looses in November


Middle East: "A call for Peace, Forgiveness and Hope - Not for War but for Love"

Collateral damage
While most of us in the more affluent societies around the world are enjoying, praising, and, often also bragging (to friends, family,on social media, etc.), about the pleasures of life this corrupt consumer society has brought us, let us also not forget to pray for those who are suffering and living under unimaginable conditions of despair and hopelessness.

Often, as a result of war, created by political deceit, greed and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, all this terror of war is often also caused by not only their, but also our very own Governments.

May your prayers, however, not be one for Revenge, but for Peace, Forgiveness and Hope. Not for War. but for Love.

Check out the video: A call for Peace

Middle East: Yemen Sees U.S. Strikes as Evidence of Hidden Hand Behind Saudi Air War - by M.bMazetti, B. Hubbard and M. Rosenberg

For the United States, it was simple retaliation: Rebels in Yemen had fired missiles at an American warship twice in four days, and so the United States hit back, destroying rebel radar facilities with missiles.

But for the rebels and many others in Yemen, the predawn strikes on Thursday were just the first public evidence of what they have long believed: that the United States has been waging an extended campaign in the country, the hidden hand behind Saudi Arabia’s punishing air war.

For the Obama administration, the missile strikes also highlighted the risks of a balancing strategy it has tried to pursue in Yemen since a bitter sectarian war engulfed the country two years ago. The United States has not formally joined the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in support of Yemen’s deposed government — and has tried to push the warring factions toward a peace deal — but it has refueled coalition bombers, trained Saudi pilots and provided intelligence to the bombing campaign.

A year and a half of bombing — along with the deaths of thousands of Yemeni civilians — has stoked anger in Yemen not only toward the Saudis, but also toward their perceived patrons in Washington. This week’s attacks on the Mason, an American destroyer, and the Pentagon’s response show how rapidly the United States can go from being an uneasy supporting player to an active participant in a chaotic civil war.

“The Americans have been patronizing and directing the war from the very beginning,” said Brig. Gen. Sharaf Luqman, a spokesman for the rebel alliance.

Yemen’s conflict started in 2014, when Shiite rebels from the north, the Houthis, seized the capital, Sana, and sent the government into exile. They now control much of the country’s north and west, along with army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. An international military coalition led by Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign in March 2015 in an effort to restore the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the exiled president.

The Obama administration gave its immediate support to the campaign — despite skepticism about whether the coalition would be able to dislodge the Houthis from Sana — in part because it needed Saudi support for the nuclear deal it was negotiating with the kingdom’s archenemy, Iran.

That support has come under greater scrutiny amid reports that coalition forces have been striking residential areas, markets, medical facilities and weddings. On Saturday, an attack on a funeral reception in Sana killed more than 100 people.

The United States has also kept warships in the region to guard a sea lane through which four million barrels of oil pass each day. There, in the narrow strait at the mouth of the Red Sea, the dizzying mix of warships, cargo vessels and insurgent forces this week yielded precisely what the Obama administration had spent 18 months trying to avoid.

Read more: Yemen Sees U.S. Strikes as Evidence of Hidden Hand Behind Saudi Air War - The New York Times


Big Business: Americas Monopoly Problem

Botanists define a rheophyte as an aquatic plant that thrives in swift-moving water. Coming from the Greek word rhéos, meaning a flow or stream, the term describes plants with wide roots and flexible stalks, well adapted to strong currents rather than a pond’s or pasture’s stillness. For most of the 20th century, U.S. lawmakers worked to maintain just these sorts of conditions for the U.S. economy—a dynamic system, briskly flowing, that forced firms to adapt to the unpredictable currents of the free market or be washed away.

In the past few decades, however, the economy has come to resemble something more like a stagnant pool. Entrepreneurship, as measured by the rate of new-business formation, has declined in each decade since the 1970s, and adults under 35 (a k a Millennials) are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation on record.

This decline in dynamism has coincided with the rise of extraordinarily large and profitable firms that look discomfortingly like the monopolies and oligopolies of the 19th century. American strip malls and yellow pages used to brim with new small businesses. But today, in a lot where several mom-and-pop shops might once have opened, Walmart spawns another superstore. In almost every sector of the economy—including manufacturing, construction, retail, and the entire service sector—the big companies are getting bigger. The share of all businesses that are new firms, meanwhile, has fallen by 50 percent since 1978. According to the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank dedicated to advancing the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, “markets are now more concentrated and less competitive than at any point since the Gilded Age.”

To comprehend the scope of corporate consolidation, imagine a day in the life of a typical American and ask: How long does it take for her to interact with a market that isn’t nearly monopolized? She wakes up to browse the internet, access to which is sold through a local monopoly. She stocks up on food at a superstore such as Walmart, which owns a quarter of the grocery market. If she gets indigestion, she might go to a pharmacy, likely owned by one of three companies controlling 99 percent of that market. If she’s stressed and wants to relax outside the shadow of an oligopoly, she’ll have to stay away from ebooks, music, and beer; two companies control more than half of all sales in each of these markets. There is no escape—literally. She can try boarding an airplane, but four corporations control 80 percent of the seats on domestic flights.

Politicians from both parties publicly worship the solemn dignity of entrepreneurship and small businesses. But by the numbers, America has become the land of the big and the home of the consolidated.

Note EU-Digest: this is not only a problem limited to the US, but also a problem experienced by most of the Western world and many other major industrial countries around the globe.

Read more: Americas Monopoly Problem

Denmark: - Danish anti-immigration party hit by EU cash scandal

Denmark's anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DPP) was reeling Wednesday from a string of EU expenses scandals, including a trip to Brussels when European institutions were closed.

Morten Messerschmidt, a European lawmaker and one of the country's most ardent eurosceptics, was kicked off the populist party's top leadership late Tuesday after the DPP agreed to pay back 500,000 kroner (67,000 euros, $74,000) of EU funds.

"It's sloppiness at a very high level," party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl told public broadcaster DR.

The money had been used to cover expenses for two EU conferences that appeared to be indistinguishable from the party's regular summer meetings, as well as an educational trip to Brussels for campaign workers during a public holiday when EU institutions were closed.

Cash had also been spent on media training and an advertising campaign.
Messerschmidt told broadcaster TV 2 News that he "completely rejects that there has been a deliberate attempt to cheat."

The expenses scandal is a sharp blow to the outspoken politician, who helped the eurosceptic DPP become Denmark's largest party in the European Parliament election of 2014.

The liberal Politiken daily responded by publishing a list of DPP expense quotes, accusing the EU of wasting taxpayers' money.

"If Europeans knew the full extent of the shameless waste of money, I am convinced that there would be a revolution," Messerschmidt wrote in 2012.

The European parliament had previously asked the DPP to pay back 2.9 million kroner that it spent on political campaigning. The party repaid 1.6 million kroner in June, saying it did not administer the rest of the money.

Messerschmidt previously sat on the board of the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy, a now defunct conservative European alliance.

Last year, the DPP paid back 120,700 kroner to Brussels after using the m
Read more: Flash - Danish anti-immigration party hit by EU cash scandal - France 24

The Netherlands: Dutch Discontent Could Derail General Elections - by Marcel Michelson

The Netherlands is holding general elections in March 2017, the result of which will determine the make-up of the next government.

Mark Rutte, the liberal Prime Minister, is expected to lead his party for the third time and some commentators already expect a third Rutte coalition government but this time possibly not with the PVDA Labour party.

Yet the outcome could be drastically different. The Dutch government and Rutte think they have done a good job and the last annual state budget even contained some presents despite the Dutch’ tight hold on the purse strings.

But the noise in the lowlands is not about how cosy the country is, how nice the purchasing power, how decent the unemployment figures.

It is more about fraud scandals at semi-public institutions, pocket-lining local politicians, sporadic clashes with young Dutch descendants of immigrant families, and the new waves of refugees housed in special complexes all over the country.

The old political system in the Netherlands is falling apart.

For many decades, moderate religious parties in the centre held power even though they had to merge over time to keep the majority.

There were coalitions with either the labour party to the left or the liberals to the right, with a sprinkling of other smaller parties to make up the numbers.

But cooperation is not that easy anymore and the Dutch are not as happy as they seem.

In the wake of late populist politician Pim Fortuyn, shot dead in 2002 by an animal rights activist, Geert Wilders has been garnering a lot of protests votes with his anti-immigration and anti-EU stand.

Wilders has called for a Nexit, Dutch exit from the European Union, after Brexit.

He has been joined in this call by a new party; the Forum for Democracy.

Their leader Thierry Baudet wants more referenda, about the euro for instance and immigration, so that the Dutch citizens are more involved in the political process instead of the four-yearly delegation of power to parliament.

Baudet, and other politicians, are angered that the Dutch government has not implemented the result of a consultative referendum over a treaty with Ukraine.

While less than a third of the Dutch voted in the referendum in April this year, 61 per cent rejected the EU association agreement with Ukraine. The government of Mark Rutte, holding the EU presidency at that time, has so far ignored the result and thereby angered many citizens.

Immigration is also a key issue. While the Netherlands has often prided itself on its tolerance and hospitality, behind the curtains in the living room windows there are now harsher discussions.

On the one hand, Dutch youngsters from immigrant descent are held responsible for petty crimes and proselytism, while on the other hand some descendants of immigrants are demanding the Netherlands to abandon parts of its culture and traditions that hark back to the slave trade.

The annual children’s party of Sinterklaas in December, the Dutch variant on Santa Claus, has turned into an opinion battlefield due to the presence of Black Peter, black-faced helpers. For some, these helpers put the black community in a bad light and remind them of the slavery trade, while for others the blackened-faces are no more than disguises so that the children do not recognise the family members or neighbours who assist Sinterklaas, himself unrecognisable behind a large white beard, long hair and a bishop’s mitre and costume.

Another new party, Denk, is calling for a renewed balance in the Netherlands for all groups of Dutch people, irrespective of their family roots. The founders and leaders of Denk were members of the Labour Party with Turkish ancestors.

A leader of an organisation of Dutch people with Moroccan origins will also present himself on the Denk (“Think” in Dutch) list.

Denk would like better recognition of Palestine, less obstacles to private initiatives for education, Chinese, Arab and Turkish as options in basic education and a national racism register to fight racism.

With the children of the multi-cultural society in the Netherlands calling for mutual understanding and respect and the die-hard Dutch wanting to retreat in the polders behind closed borders, there is hardly a trace left of the “consensus” so dear to Dutch political tradition.

The country once known for its outward-looking attitude and knack for international trade and business seems stuck in an endless search for personal happiness in a cosy cocoon, and increasingly disconnected from the outside world.

Read more: Dutch Discontent Could Derail General Elections - EU And Immigration In Focus

Are Elections outcome decided by the press? Most people polled Say Media, Not Russians, Tilting the Election

Most voters aren’t buying the story that the Russians are trying to manipulate the election for Donald Trump but think the U.S. media is trying to swing things for Hillary Clinton.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters believe it’s more likely that many in the media are working to get Clinton elected president. Just 26% disagree and say it’s more likely that the Russian government is working to get Trump elected. Eighteen percent (18%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Ninety-one percent (91%) of voters supporting Trump think it’s more likely that most in the media are trying to help Clinton. Only 20% of Clinton supporters agree; 56% of her voters believe it’s more likely the Russians are trying to help Trump. But one-in-four Clinton voters (24%) aren’t sure which is more likely.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of all voters think the United States’ worsening relationship with Russia is bad for America.

Only 12% think it’s good for this country, while 20% say it will have no impact. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. These findings are unchanged from June of last year when both President Obama and then-Republican front-runner Jeb Bush were pushing for tougher sanctions against Russia over the continuing political crisis in Ukraine.

WikiLeaks disclosures in recent days have highlighted the close working relationship between the Clinton campaign and journalists at several major news organizations including the New York Times and CNN.

Democrats say the Russians are behind the WikiLeaks releases; WikiLeaks says that isn’t true. Fifty percent (50%) of voters said in July that they expected most reporters to help Clinton.  Just 11% thought they were more likely to help Trump.

Read more: Most Say Media, Not Russians, Tilting the Election - Rasmussen Reports™