Bilderberg, the annual gathering of the world’s most powerful politicians and business magnates, is clearly shaping global policies by positioning its favored politicians as world leaders, determining the timetables of military conflicts and influencing the economic policies of nearly every nation on the planet, impacting the lives of billions around the globe.
Daniel Estulin, an author and expert on the Bilderberg Group, has learned from his internal sources several items on Bilderberg’s agenda for this year’s conference in Copenhagen, Denmark which began yesterday:
1) Nuclear diplomacy – how Russia, China and even Iran could work together to erode western hegemony.
2) The recent gas agreement between Russia and China – how this and other long-term projects between the two countries will likely reduce dependency on the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency.
3) The rise of nationalism within Europe that is challenging the power structure of the European Union – the recent victories of the populist United Kingdom Independence Party, which opposes the European Union, is particularly concerning to the Bilderberg Group because the EU, and its Euro currency, were formulated by the group at its second annual meeting in 1955.
4) The European Union’s Internet privacy regulations – what they mean for the United States.
5) The rise of cyber warfare – the government could deceptively use the threat of cyber attacks to strengthen censorship and other Internet regulations.
6) From Ukraine to Syria – Is Obama’s foreign policy doomed?
7) The “climate change” agenda – the deindustrialization of targeted nations as a result of “climate change” treaties and legislation.
And there’s likely more that will be discussed during this year’s three-day conference.
But to truly absorb the importance of these agenda items and the influence of the Bilderberg Group, it’s critical to look back at several of the world’s most significant events in the past several decades, which were not as random as they appear but were rather planned by design inside the eloquently-furnished meeting rooms of past Bilderberg conferences.
In 1991, the then governor of Arkansas, who was relatively unknown at the time, was invited to attend the Bilderberg meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany. Just over one year later the governor, William Jefferson Clinton, became the President of the United States.
A few years later, in 2009, Tucker predicted that Bilderberg would use the resulting economic slowdown to erode America’s national sovereignty.
This is now coming to fruition through multiple ways, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, which allows transnational mega-corporations to tighten their grip on individual countries such as the United States.
And representatives for many large companies are in attendance at this year’s Bilderberg meeting.
“You have 50 to 60 key CEOs of the world’s most powerful corporations from the western world [in attendance],” Estulin said.
The fact that Balls was carrying enough papers to fill a large phone book invalidates his prior denial of Bilderberg’s importance.
In reality, the Bilderberg Group is pushing ahead with its anti-free market, state-corporate takeover designed to destroy independent nations as well as the individual in order to make the population dependent on a system controlled by the tiny elite well-represented at the conference.
Considering the 7 agenda items , these goals are blocked ( to a not insignificant degree ) by the emergence of Russia led by Putin as a leading global leader in matters geopolitical . Left to his devices , Putin will continue over the remainder of the Obama Presidency , to stitch together a global network / alliance of countries seeking to be on the right side of history ( connected to the looming Dynamic Duo of China / Russia .) Correspondingly , we have seen a remarkable decline in the prestige of both the US Presidency and the US as a global power. Left to its own devices , the White House and its foreign policy team will pass the baton to a new President who will find himself / herself in a far weaker global position.
Russia has been in the news - for the purpose of this missive , let's consider recent events involving the US , White House and our foreign policy. As a general statement , our recent and not so adventures in Afghanistan , Iraq , Libya , Syria and Ukraine are either festering long term clusterfarks , clusterfarks in the making or clusterfarks yet to come . Decide in what buckets you would place Libya , syria or Ukraine. Her are some items that jump out that should peak the interest of the active observer.For example :
1) Consider the comments of our former Ambassador to Syria..... We know US foreign policy regarding Syria is a mess - but consider the timing of his interview today :
Former US ambassador to Syria: I couldn’t defend US policy any longer
US Ambassador Robert Ford resigned from his State Department post a month ago, after a long and difficult time as the envoy to Syria. Ford showed great personal courage in his service while Bashar al-Assad instigated attacks on Western embassies and eventually provoked a massive civil war which has turned into a regional threat, thanks to the collapse of his power in large regions of Syria. The collapse of American policy in Syria over the past year was presumed to have prompted Ford’s departure, which he confirms with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview today.
This is interesting for more than just the rebuke to the aimless foreign policy of the Obama administration, though :
“I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy,” he said. “We have been unable to address either the root causes of the conflict in terms of the fighting on the ground and the balance on the ground, and we have a growing extremism threat.” …
“There really is nothing we can point to that’s been very successful in our policy except the removal of about ninety-three percent of some of Assad’s chemical materials. But now he’s using chlorine gas against his opponents.”
At the beginning of Syria’s conflict, the U.S. State Department – including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – pushed hard for America to provide robust support for the moderate opposition; that recommendation was not borne out.
This seems to hint at a disconnect on Syria between the Hillary Clinton State Department and the John Kerry State Department, which has focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict much more than the Syrian civil war. There probably isn’t much of a disconnect, though, even if there is a difference in focus. Obama blew whatever political capital he had for an intervention in Syria by drawing and then erasing his “red line,” and ended up surrendering control of the situation to Vladimir Putin.
The idea of intervention keeps coming up, but Ford was right to get out when he did. The recent Obama pivot on foreign policy was supposed to set the stage for a more activist policy, but Obama so thoroughly booted it that he ended up arguing against an intervention — and inadvertently validated the Iraq War.
This part of Ford’s remarks (not included in the video clip) contains its own possibly unintended but devastating criticism of the Obama/Hillary foreign policy in Libya. Ford’s talking about Syria and Assad, but it’s not exactly rocket science to apply this to the US-led effort to topple Moammar Qaddafi:
Assad “physically does not control two-thirds of Syria,” Ford said. “And we warned even as long as two years ago that terrorist groups would go into that vacuum, as we had seen in places like Afghanistan and Somalia and Yemen and Mali.”
“This is not rocket science. In a place where there is no government control, terrorist groups can infiltrate in and set up places where they can operate freely.”
“And we warned this would happen in Syria, and it has.”
Two years ago, by the way, was before the Benghazi attack, and Mali specifically resulted from creating the failed state in Libya. Ford’s criticism goes directly to the heart of the Obama/Hillary foreign policy decision to decapitate the Qaddafi regime without controlling the situation on the ground. It will be interesting to see how many others connect the dots on this argument, even if Ford may not have intended to do so himself.
2) The Bergdahl Clusterfark prisoner exchange .....understanding much has been written , let's consider some thing s perhaps lost in the shuffle and after the fact justifications :
11 Things You Need to Know about Obama’s Exchange of the ‘Last American POW’ for 5 Gitmo Terrorists
117,742SharesByKyle Becker1 day ago
Reports are flying around the president’s unilateral transfer of “the last American POW” in the Afghan War for 5 dangerous Gitmo prisoners.
Here are 11 stories that will give you a sense of the controversy and questions swirling around this news:
1. President Obama Almost Certainly Broke the Law
President Obama did not consult Congress when making the transfer of 5 Taliban commanders at Gitmo for Bowe Bergdahl.
The Washington Post raises questions about whether the president violated the law regarding terrorism policy:
Congressional Republicans and others focused on a series of concerns that are likely to reverberate in coming days: whether the deal breached U.S. policy forbidding negotiations with terrorists, whether sufficient safeguards were in place to ensure that the released Taliban prisoners do no further harm to the United States and whether Congress was informed about the prisoner trade, as required by law.
2. The 5 Taliban Commanders Released Were Among the Most Dangerous at Gitmo
Numerous publications note that these detained terrorists were among the worst at the facility. The Daily Beast gets to the point:
The five Guantanamo detainees released by the Obama administration in exchange for America’s last prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, are bad guys. They are top Taliban commanders the group has tried to free for more than a decade.
According to a 2008 Pentagon dossier on Guantanamo Bay inmates, all five men released were considered to be a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated.
3. Soldiers Who Served with Bergdahl are Making Claims He Was a Deserter
CNN’s Jake Tapper reports that soldiers who served with Bergdahl are calling him a “deserter,” not a “hero”:
“I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”
Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to not only acknowledge his actions publicly but face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
4. Soldiers Who Served with Bergdahl Signed Non-Disclosure Agreements Not to Reveal What Happened
Again, from CNN’s Jake Tapper:
Many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops — from the seven or so who knew him best in his squad, to the larger group that comprised the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him.
Some were willing to dismiss that document in hopes that the truth would come out about a soldier who they now fear is being hailed as a hero, while the men who lost their lives looking for him are ignored.
5. Bergdahl Reportedly Split Camp with Just a Few Survival Items
According to first-hand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera, and a diary.
6. Soldier Who Claims to Have Served with Bergdahl Says He Mailed His Valuables Back Mid-Tour
As reported by IJReview contributor Soopermexican, a soldier claims Bergdahl mailed back his valuables mid-tour. Going by the moniker of @CodyFNFootball, he claims about Bergdahl:
“Why would someone pack all of there [sic] belongings and send them home in the middle of a 12 month deployment? Hmmmm.”
In addition, the soldier claims that Bergdahl bought an AK-47, a highly unusual choice for a U.S. soldier.
7. Six U.S. Soldiers Killed in Manhunt to Find the AWOL Soldier
PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Murphrey, 2LT Darryn Andrews, were all KIA from our unit who died looking for Bergdahl. Many others from various units were wounded or killed while actively looking for Bergdahl.
7. Bergdahl Reportedly Made Anti-American Statements
According to a Rolling Stonearticle written by the late writer Michael Hastings, Bergdahl complained about fellow soldiers and had anti-American things to say.
“I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools,” he concluded. “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”
8. The Highly Unusual Behavior of Bowe Bergdahl
Also corresponding with the story reported earlier here, Bergdahl dreamed about joining the French foreign legion, had an interest in fighting warlords in Darfur in Sudan, and also said he had a desire to become a mercenary.
9. Father Praises Allah; Has Pro-Islamic Tweets on Timeline
Regardless of what one thinks about Islam, it is quite a coincidence that Bowe’s father Robert Bergdahl’s Twitter account has pro-Islamic statements, along with tweets critical of Gitmo detainment.
At the press conference with President Obama announcing his son’s release,Robert Bergdahl said“Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim” —which means “In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate.”
10. Robert Bergdahl Deletes Extremely Suspicious Tweet
As reported by IJReview contributor Soopermexican earlier, this is what Robert Bergdahl by all appearances deleted from his timeline:
11. CIA Station Chief in Kabul is “Outed” by the White House One Week Before Transfer
If numerous military members knew something was awry with the story about Bergdahl’s apparent capture by the Taliban, what would the CIA station chief in Kabul know? As the Washington Postreported:
The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops.
The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country.
It is debatable that this uneven exchange serves the U.S.’ long-term national security interests, since it encourages our enemies around the world to take more American military members hostage.
Such reports also throw into question the claim that Bergdahl was a “hero” who was “captured on the battlefield,” and there are issues surrounding this exchange that are far from settled.
Lots of links .... Can the politically tone deaf hear anger ?
A number ofVietnamese officials have now threatened to bring legal action against Chinaover their territorial dispute in the South China Sea; but it does not seem to be having any impact on China's efforts to defend and sustain their presence. As Bloomberg reports, a total offive Chinese fighter jets have now been deployed to the area of exploration in disputed waters off the coast of Vietnam today (compared to 1 previous day) citing Fishing Control Department under Vietnam’s agriculture ministry.China has refused to answer the case the Philippines filed with an international tribunal at The Hague. It is likely to pursue a similar strategy if Vietnam appeals to international law in its own disputes with China.
Vietnam appears set to use international law to settle its territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea... (via The Diplomat)
A number of Vietnamese officials have now threatened to bring legal action against China over their territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
And China is responding in kind (as Bloomberg reports)...
Total of five Chinese fighter jets deployed to area of exploration rig in disputed waters off coast of Vietnam today, compared to 1 previous day, newspaper reports, citing Fishing Control Department under Vietnam’s agriculture ministry.
China still maintains 120 vessels of all kinds, including 4 military ships in disputed Paracel Islands area: newspaper
Some 50 Vietnamese ships are fishing in Paracel Islands area 20-30 nautical miles from the rig: newspaper
Speaking to Bloomberg News on Friday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that Vietnam is preparing to bring its territorial row with China to an international arbitrator. “We are prepared and ready for legal action,” Dung said, according to Bloomberg. “We are considering the most appropriate timing to take this measure.”
Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh reiterated the prime minister’s statement on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore over the weekend. He also stated that China has asked Vietnam not to pursue legal action. “They [China] have asked us several times not to bring the case to international court,” Vinh told reporters on the sidelines of the annual security forum. “Our response was that it’s up to China’s activities and behavior; if they continue to push us, we have no choice. This [legal] option is also in accordance with international law.”
Earlier in the summit, Vinh held a bilateral meeting with Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Party, the highest ranking military official Beijing sent to the Shangri-La Dialogue.
Vietnam was one of many countries who used the Shangri-La Dialogue to criticize China’s actions in Asia’s maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas. As The Diplomat has previously reported, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made implicit criticisms of China’s recent actions in his keynote speech on Friday, while U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made more explicit criticisms of China.
Australia also criticized China’s recent actions. “They’ve been certainly unhelpful, and if they’re unhelpful they must be destabilizing,” Australian Defense Minister David Johnston said at the Singapore conference. “The unilateral action of the declaration of boundaries is completely unhelpful and takes us in the wrong direction.”
General Wang lashed out at both Japan and the United States during his own speech to the annual forum on Sunday. He accused Tokyo and Washington of colluding together in criticizing China, though he said he preferred Hagel’s remarks because they were more direct than Abe’s, which didn’t mention China directly.
Vietnam’s threats to take up its case for sovereignty with an international arbitrator has obvious parallels with the Philippines, who is also appealing to international courts to deal with its territorial disputes with China over parts of the South China Sea. Last month, Prime Minister Dung traveled to the Philippines to meet with President Benigno Aquino III as well as attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia. Dung said during the trip that the two leaders “shared deep concern over the current extremely dangerous situation caused by China’s many actions that violate international law.”
Around the same time, Dung told the Associated Press that, “like all countries, Vietnam is considering various defense options, including legal actions in accordance with the international law.” According to the Associated Press, it was the first time Vietnam had seriously considered using international law to help resolve its dispute with China. Two unnamed Vietnamese diplomats told the Associated Press at the time that Vietnam might join the Philippines ongoing case or else begin its own complaint against China.
China has refused to answer the case the Philippines filed with an international tribunal at The Hague. It is likely to pursue a similar strategy if Vietnam appeals to international law in its own disputes with China.Interestingly, in his remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue, General Wang rejected U.S. criticisms that China isn’t following international law by noting that the U.S. has not signed onto the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas.
4) Seeing Russia have success standing up to the US ( as well as Iran , President Karzai of Afghanistan , China ) , France next in line to kick sand in Obama's face :
With Eric Holder suddenly playing hardball with the banks (most notably not US banks), it has not gone unnoticed among the largest European newspapers. The potential $10 billion penalty for BNP Paribas - France's largest bank - for alleged dealings with a sanctioned Iran has been called a "masterful slap," by Le Monde and Le Figaro said the U.S. was making an example of BNP to deflect criticism it had been "lenient with the American banks responsible for the financial crisis." This could make for an awkward week for Obama, not only facing Putin as he visits Europe to celebrate D-Day but as the allies themselves turn on him with France's Hollande likely to raise the matter and, as Bloomberg reports, newly elected National Front party called on the French government to "defend the national interest" in the case.
As Bloomberg reports, following Eric Holder's plan to fine BNP Paribas $10 billion over dealings with sanctioned nations,The French are crying foul...
Le Monde in its May 31 edition called the possible fine a “masterful slap.” Le Figaro newspaper said the U.S. was making an example of BNP to deflect criticism it had been “lenient with the American banks responsible for the financial crisis.”Hollande may raise the matter with Obama this week, Les Echos reported today, without citing anyone.
This would be the largest criminal penalty in US history - which some are claiming is unfair...
“If this results in a guilty plea, it is likely to increase debate in France and the rest of Europe about the essential fairness of U.S. criminal procedures,” said Frederick T. Davis, a lawyer at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in Paris and a former U.S. prosecutor.
Europe is not happy...
“This affair is part of Washington’s hegemonic ambition in law and commerce,” said Jacques Myard, a lawmaker from Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP Party. “Washington has theannoying habit of trying to apply its laws outside its jurisdiction and use its strength for commercial ends.”
“Megaphone diplomacy is not what’s called for here,”Le Guen said on BFM television. “The United States can’t treat its allies like this.”
In a statement on its website,the National Front accused the U.S. of “racketeering,” in an effort to weaken BNP and aid its American rivals. “We demand that the French government not stay idle,” the statement said.
It seems this week might be a busy one for Obama as he visits Europe...
“It would be unacceptable for the French government to do nothing at a time when the European Union is negotiating a free-trade accord with the U.S.,” he said.
And as if that was not bad enough, just this week, Goldman Sachs has downgraded the French bank from "conviction buy" because a potentially meaningful financial penalty in the US curtails the
outlook for capital return.
On excess capital optionality, the Wall Street Journal reported (May 29) that the
US Department of Justice is seeking more than US$10 bn for the alleged violations of US economic sanctions for US$ transactions with certain countries. If this were the case then the hit to CET1 from additional provisions would reach c.110 bp of RWAs and lower the CET1 ratio to 9.5% pro forma on 1Q14. The company has provisioned US$1.1 for a potential penalty; however the final impact could be significantly larger than this.
For purposes of our analysis we incorporate additional provisions in expectation that BNP will face a US legal penalty in the amount of US$7.5 bn, based on the midpoint of the latest two amounts reported in the press (US$ 10bn, WSJ, 5/29/2014; US$ 5bn, Reuters, 5/21/2014).
Recent reports have introduced wide-ranging outcomes. Other examples suggest that settlements can reach the top end of the range(e.g. media put Credit Suisse litigation charge at $1bn, rising to $2.5bn. The settlement on May 20 was $2.6bn). This reduces our 4Q14 CET1 capital estimates to 10.2%.
So - sell French banks and... buy US banks? Seems like the Treasury's Terrorism unit is working full-time these days.
So what can Obama , the White House and the US do to upset the poker table they're sitting at with a losing hand as compared with Russia ? Well , let's consider :
A) Another terror scare - this time cyber hack attack ....and from Russia to boot , UK warns folks there have two weeks to prepare ( US should probably fall in same bucket - no warning to folks in the US though ) :
(Reuters) - A U.S.-led international operation disrupted a crime ring that infected hundreds of thousands of PCs around the globe with malicious software used for stealing banking credentials and extorting computer owners, the Justice Department said on Monday.
Authorities in nearly a dozen countries worked with private security companies to wrest control of the network of infected machines, known by the name of its master software, Gameover Zeus.
Court documents released on Monday said that between 500,000 and 1 million machines worldwide were infected with the malicious software, which was derived from the original "Zeus" trojan for stealing financial passwords that emerged in 2006. Officials charged a Russian man with hacking, fraud and money-laundering, and court documents suggested they suspect he wrote Zeus, one of the most effective pieces of theft software ever found.
In addition to stealing from the online accounts of businesses and consumers, the Gameover Zeus crew installed other malicious programs, including one called Cryptolocker that encrypted files and demanded payments for their release. Cryptolocker alone infected more than 234,000 machines and won $27 million in ransom payments in just its first two months, the Justice Department said.
The two programs together brought the gang more than $100 million, prosecutors said in court documents, including $198,000 in an unauthorized wire transfer from an unnamed Pennsylvania materials company and $750 in ransom from a police department in Massachusetts that had its investigative files encrypted. Other victims included PNC Bank [PNCBKN.UL] and Capital One Bank [COFCB.UL], according to court documents.
“These schemes were highly sophisticated and immensely lucrative, and the cyber criminals did not make them easy to reach or disrupt,” Leslie Caldwell, who heads the Justice Department's criminal division, told a news conference.
The Gameover Zeus "botnet" - short for robot network - is the largest so far disrupted that relied on a peer-to-peer distribution method, where thousands of computers could reinfect and update each other, said Dell expert Brett Stone-Gross, who assisted the FBI.
"We took control of the bots, so they would only talk with our infrastructure," Stone-Gross said.
A civil suit in Pennsylvania helped authorities get court orders to seize parts of the infected network, and on May 7, Ukrainian authorities seized and copied Gameover Zeus command servers in Kiev and Donetsk, officials said. U.S. and other agents worked from early Friday through the weekend to seize servers around the world, freeing some 300,000 victim computers from the botnet so far.
ACCUSED MASTERMIND IN RUSSIA
A criminal complaint unsealed Monday in Nebraska, meanwhile, accused Russian Evgeniy Mikhaylovich Bogachev and others of participating in the conspiracy.
U.S. officials said Bogachev was last known to be living in the Black Sea resort town of Anapa. In an FBI affidavit filed in the Nebraska case, an agent cited online chats in which aliases associated with Bogachev claimed authorship of the original Zeus trojan, which has infected more than 13 million computers and is blamed for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
"That's what he claimed. There were probably a number of people involved," said Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of security firm CrowdStrike, which also worked with the FBI. A person familiar with the case said that Bogachev's ICQ number, which is an assigned Internet chat query identifier, matched that of the known Zeus author. Attempts to reach Bogachev were unsuccessful. The FBI declined to comment on Zeus' authorship, citing the ongoing investigation, and Justice Department officials did not respond to questions on the issue.
Zeus's code has since been publicly released, and many variants are still being used by gangs large and small.
"Zeus is probably the most prolific and effective piece of malware discovered since 2006," said Lance James, head of cyber-intelligence at consultancy Deloitte & Touche, which also helped authorities.
Russia does not extradite accused criminals to other countries, so Bogachev may never be arrested. He was named as part of a new policy on aggressively exposing even those the United States has little hope of catching. The recent crackdown includes the indictment of five members of China's People's Liberation Army for alleged economic espionage, which prompted denials and an angry response from Chinese authorities.
“This is the new normal,” Robert Anderson, the top FBI official in charge of combating cyber crime said at a news conference announcing the Russian action.
When asked whether Russian authorities would turn Bogachev over to the United States, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said “as far as Russia, we are in contact with them and we’ve been having discussions with them about moving forward and about trying to get custody of Mr. Bogachev,” but declined to provide further detail of those talks. The shutdown of Gameover Zeus may not last. Other botnets have resurfaced as criminals regained at least partial control of their networks. Officials at the United Kingdom's National Crime Agency said in an "urgent warning" that users might have only two weeks to clean their computers from traces of the infection. They directed users to https://www.getsafeonline.org/nca, which was intermittently available late Monday.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security set up a website to help victims remove the malware. The European Cybercrime Centre also participated in the operation, along with Australia,Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Ukraine.
Intel Corp, Microsoft Corp, security software companies F-Secure, Symantec Corp, and Trend Micro; and Carnegie Mellon University supported the operation.
2 weeks to prepare for 'powerful' virus strike-back in major malware offensive
Published time: June 02, 2014 20:17 Edited time: June 03, 2014 05:58
The UK has warned its computer-users they have two weeks to protect their machines from two powerful viruses, GameOver Zeus and Cryptolocker, after a US-led multinational operation announced a coordinated takedown of malware.
There are more than 15,500 computers infected in the UK and many more are at risk, the UK’s National Crime Agency has said, citing “intelligence” assumptions.
It “could cost computer users millions of pounds,” the NCA warned.
The agency is now “urging the public and small businesses” to consult with the government-backed getsafeonline.org website.
“Nobody wants their personal financial details, business information or photographs of loved ones to be stolen or held to ransom by criminals. By making use of this two-week window, huge numbers of people in the UK can stop that from happening to them,” Deputy Director of the NCA’s Cyber Crime Unit Andy Archibald said.
However, computer users need to take action immediately, as authorities only have temporary control of communications.
"This warning is not intended to cause you panic but we cannot over-stress the importance of taking these steps immediately. This is because the UK's NCA has taken temporary control of the communications used to connect with infected computers, but expects only a very limited window of opportunity to ensure you are protected," said UK-based Get Safe Online, a government-backed organization that has published a list of software it recommends for the task.
With the warning reaching the public, Get Safe’s website crashed under the number of requests to view its content.
The organization’s Chief Executive Tony Neate insisted that this was not due to a cyber-attack.
The NCA’s warning relates to a strain of malware known as Cryptolocker, which works together with another malware, Gameover Zeus (also known as GOZeus or P2PZeus).
GOZeus is usually downloaded by unsuspecting users in what is known as a phishing attack, often in the form of an email which looks legitimate, but which is in fact designed to trick someone into downloading malicious software.
Once inside someone’s machine, the malware then searches for files containing financial information. If it cannot find anything, it will install Cryptolocker, which locks the computer until a ransom fee is paid.
According to the US-led team of investigators, which include FBI, NCA, and Europol, Gameover Zeus virus estimate that between 500,000 and 1 million computers around the world. A quarter of victims are said to be the US, where computer-users have lost more than $100 million to Gameover Zeus.
Cryptolocker alone infected more than 234,000 machines and won $27 million in ransom payments in just its first two months, the Justice Department said.
In the biggest operation of its kind, servers all over the world were raided simultaneously by the NCA, FBI, Europol, and other authorities.
This meant police could direct what are known as Command and Control (C&C) servers, which hackers and criminals use to control the operation of the botnet. A botnet is a network of home computers often controlled by a criminal gang.
“The scale of this operation is unprecedented. This is the first time we’ve seen a coordinated international approach of this magnitude, demonstrating how seriously the FBI takes this current threat,” Steve Rawlinson from Tagadab, a web-hosting company involved in the bust, told the BBC.
The FBI accuses a Russian called Evgeny Bogachev, who they have identified a ringleader of the gang. Bogachev, 30, is now facing 14 criminal charges alleging that he is the “administrator” of GameOver Zeus. He is also accused of being a leader of the “tightly-knit gang” behind CyberLocker.
b) Financial scandal might be tried , after all , Putin is alleged to have billions :
Just over a month ago, in the latest round of sanctions against Russia, and specifically Putin's inner circle of advisors and lieutenants, one person was singled out - Gennady Timchenko, part-owner of the Gunvor Group commodities trading company, the fourth largest oil trader in the world with over $90 billion in 2013 revenues.
This name was particularly notable because as part of the justification for adding Timchenko to the list of sanctioned oligarchs, the US Treasury said that "Putin has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds." This is curious because in 2008 The Economist also linked Putin to Timchenko. Timchenko promptly sued but later dropped the case, and The Economist issued a statement. “We accept Gunvor’s assurances that neither Vladimir Putin nor any other senior Russian political figures have any ownership in Gunvor."
Yet somehow, despite the repeated denials that Putin has a direct or indirect interest in the massive oil trading company, the Treasury department apparently knows better. As the NYT reports, "Seth Thomas Pietras, Gunvor’s corporate affairs director, said Mr. Putin “does not and never has had any ownership, direct, indirect or otherwise, in Gunvor,” nor is he “a beneficiary of Gunvor,” and “he has no access to Gunvor’s funds.” After the sanctions statement, Gunvor executives flew to Washington to meet with State Department officials and congressional aides. “We’re providing evidence but have not seen any sort of evidence from them yet and don’t know if we ever will,” Mr. Pietras said. He said the company’s banking partners had been satisfied by its explanations.
The Treasury Department, however, was not. “We remain confident that the information on the relationship between Putin and Gunvor is accurate,” said a Treasury official, who asked not to be identified in a public dispute with the company."
Still, whether or not Putin has a stake in Gunvor is of secondary importance - what matters is that tomorrow, as part of yet another round of sanctions by the US Treasury, among those likely to be on Monday’s list, are Igor Sechin, president of the Rosneft state oil company, and Aleksei Miller, head of the Gazprom state energy giant.
Which brings us to the topic of this post, namelythe quest for Putin's billions.
Because if there was anything the Gunvor sanction escalation showed, is that the US is not afraid of going those who are in the Putin circle of not only trust but, certainly, money. To be sure, so far the American government has not imposed sanctions on Putin himself, and according to the NYT, officials said they would not in the short term, reasoning that personally targeting a head of state would amount to a “nuclear” escalation, as several put it. But that doesn't mean the Treasury can't go after those who are nearest to Putin, both in terms of power, and certainly money.
The problem, as the US is starting to realize, is that those alleged billions that Russia's leader may (or may not) have access to are quite difficult to track down. There is much speculation and conjecture, but the facts are still rather slim. Here is what is known:
For years, the suspicion that Mr. Putin has a secret fortune has intrigued scholars, industry analysts, opposition figures, journalists and intelligence agencies but defied their efforts to uncover it. Numbers are thrown around suggesting that Mr. Putin may control $40 billion or even $70 billion, in theory making him the richest head of state in world history.
For all the rumors and speculation, though, there has been little if any hard evidence, and Gunvor has adamantly denied any financial ties to Mr. Putin and repeated that denial on Friday.
The US may not be sure just where Putin's billions are buried preventing a laser-guided strategy, but that just means it will engage in a shotgun approach and slam all those financiers and oligarchs who are closest to Putin - even those whose goodwill is so critical to keep Russian gas flowing to Germany and the UK.
“It’s like standing in a circle and all of a sudden everyone in the circle is getting a bomb thrown on them, and you get the message that it’s getting close,” said Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, describing at a recent hearing the way the sanctions are getting closer to Mr. Putin.
Still, this does beg the question - is Putin really a billionaire? Officially, of course not.
Mr. Putin’s reported income for 2013 was just $102,000, according to a Kremlin statement this month. Over the years, he has crudely dismissed suggestions of personal wealth. “I have seen some papers about this,” he said at a news conference in 2008. “Just gossip that’s not worth discussing. It’s simply rubbish. They picked everything out of someone’s nose and smeared it on their little papers.”
How much Mr. Putin cares about money has long been a subject of debate both in Russia and in the West. On government payrolls since his days in the K.G.B., the Soviet intelligence agency, Mr. Putin to many seemed driven more by power and nationalism than by material gain. With access to government perks like palaces, planes and luxury cars, he seemingly has little need for personal wealth.
“If he really does have all that money salted away somewhere, why?” asked Bruce K. Misamore, who was the chief financial officer of Yukos Oil before the Russian government imprisoned its top shareholder, Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, seized its assets and gave many of them to Mr. Sechin’s Rosneft. “What good does it do him? Is it just ego? Presumably, it’s not to pass it down to heirs. I doubt we’ll see Mr. Putin becoming one of the leading philanthropists in the world.”
Philanthropist, no. But if indeed Putin has highly confidential access to up to $70 billion, that would probably make him the wealthiest person on earth. And thus most influential.
Still, with no hard numbers and org charts highlight Putin's equity stakes and bank accounts around there world, there is mostly speculation:
The C.I.A. in 2007 produced a secret assessment of Mr. Putin’s wealth that has never been released, according to officials who have read it. The assessment, the officials said, largely tracked with assertions later made publicly by a Russian political analyst who said Mr. Putin effectively controlled holdings in Gunvor, Gazprom and Surgutneftegaz that added up to about $40 billion at the time.
... the assessment roughly mirrored estimates made publicly at the end of that year by Stanislav Belkovsky, a Russian political analyst with ties to the Kremlin whose public attack on oligarchs several years earlier had presaged the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Khodorkovsky of Yukos.
Mr. Belkovsky told European newspapers in December 2007 that Mr. Putin had amassed a fortune of “at least” $40 billion through sizable shares of some of Russia’s largest energy companies. Mr. Putin secretly controlled “at least 75 percent” of Gunvor, 4.5 percent of Gazprom and 37 percent of Surgutneftegaz, Mr. Belkovsky said, citing only unnamed Kremlin insiders.
“The reality is that Putin has others and entities to move money that he controls or that he might control ultimately,” said Mr. Zarate, the former Bush adviser. “The challenge with him is you don’t have an easy way of drawing the line to the assets he actually owns and controls currently. There’s a dimension of layering and relationships with people with whom he’s close and entities that serve as conduits that make it tricky to determine what is Putin’s and what is not.”
Then, there is the indirect way of estimating Putin's wealth:
In 2010, Sergei Kolesnikov, a businessman, published an open letter saying he had helped Mr. Putin secretly build a billion-dollar palace on the Black Sea. The Kremlin dismissed his claims as “absurd.” In 2012, Boris Y. Nemtsov, an opposition leader, released a report detailing the presidential perks at Mr. Putin’s disposal, including 20 residences, 15 helicopters, four yachts and 43 aircraft.
Indirect estimates, however, always leave much to be desired:
some hunting for Mr. Putin’s private wealth have found obstacles. Last month, Cambridge University Press declined to publish a book by its longtime author Karen Dawisha, a Miami University professor, exploring how Mr. Putin built “a kleptocratic and authoritarian regime in Russia.” The publisher wrote her saying it had “no reason to doubt the veracity” of her book, but deemed the risk of a lawsuit too high, according to letters published by The Economist. In a return letter, Ms. Dawisha called the decision “pre-emptive book burning.”
Which brings us back to Gunvor, which is sternly denying any relationship with Putin, even as the US Treasury openly rejected this explanation, with its explicit language.
Did Putin have some or all of his billions at the Cyprus-based company? Perhaps, but the cross holdings are so well-hidden not even the NSA likely knows who owns what. Indicating the complexity of Russian-oligarch org charts, here is just a "simple" summary of what Gunvor's stakeholder Timchenko owned, via Bloomberg:
The majority of Timchenko's net worth was derived from his 44 percent stake in Cyprus-based oil trader Gunvor Group, which he sold to partner Torbjorn Tornqvist on March 19, 2014, ahead of U.S. economic sanctions. Through Volga Group, his Luxembourg-based investment vehicle, he also holds 23 percent stake in publicly traded Novatek, Russia's second-largest natural gas producer; a 31.5 percent stake in petrochemical company Sibur; and 80 percent of rail company Transoil.
He owns Sibur through the holding company Sibur Ltd. with billionaire partner Leonid Mikhelson. The pair acquired the company from Gazprombank, the lending affiliate of state-controlled energy company Gazprom, in 2010 and 2011. The investment cost is calculated using the value stated by Gazprombank in December 2010, when it sold the first 25 percent for $1.3 billion. He also has an 80 percent stake in Russian construction company Stroytransgaz, which is valued using the average price-to-sales and price-to-book value multiples of three publicly traded peers: Mostotrest, Budimex and Polimex-Mostostal.
Through Volga, Timchenko holds stakes in publicly traded Rorvik Timber and Russian Sea Group, a fish farm and seafood processing company, as well as 8 percent of Bank Rossia, 12.5 percent of insurance company Sogaz, 49.1 percent of insurance company Sovag and 30 percent of coal mining company Kolmar. Gunvor holds another 30 percent of Kolmar.
Through A-group, the billionaire controls 70 percent of Avia Group, which develops ground infrastructure for the business aviation center at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, Avia Group Nord, which provides business-aviation services for flights out of Saint Petersburg's Pulkovo international airport, and a 99 stake in private jet operator Airfix Aviation. He also controls Finland's Hartwall Areena along with billionaire partners Boris and Arkady Rotenberg.
Confused yet? Here is more on the ties between the commodity magnate and the Russian president from a 2008 FT profile:
...many wonder whether Gunvor’s rapid expansion over the past five years – just as the Kremlin has moved in on private oil production – is due to more than just vision.The company has “one very good friend,” a former partner says. “He is at the very top level,” says another.
Some have speculated whether there are ties that bind Gunvor’s other co-founder, Gennady Timchenko, and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president from 2000 until last week. As the company emerges from obscurity, some details of the connections between the two are finally becoming clear. The company claims that it has not benefited from any political favours.
The company’s rise provides a glimpse into a secretive clique of businessmen close to Mr Putin who have made immense fortunes under his presidency but have so far stayed far away from public scrutiny. Even as Mr Putin completes a stage-managed transfer to the role of prime minister, installing his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, as president, they are finding it increasingly hard to escape the spotlight. This year, Mr Timchenko for the first time made it on to the Forbes rich list with an estimated fortune of $2.5bn.
In a scanty paper trail, corporate records from St Petersburg show Mr Timchenko and a committee headed by Mr Putin participated in one business in the early 1990s. Bankers say the company, Golden Gates, was established to build an oil terminal at St Petersburg’s port but foundered in a clash with organised crime.
Mr Timchenko’s trading company, meanwhile, was a beneficiary of a large export quota under a scandal-tainted oil-for-food scheme set up by Mr Putin when he worked as head of the city administration’s foreign economic relations committee in 1991, local parliament records show. The trader also built close ties with Surgutneftegaz, a Kremlin-loyal oil company, inviting speculation he may have built a significant stake there.
Keep in mind, this is just one billionaire in Putin's entourage: consider the spaghetti chart of cross-holdings, ownerships and stakes if one charts Putin with all his closest oligarchs. As for those who ended up "less than close" with Putin, just Google Khodorkovsky.
And somehow the Treasury is supposed to keep tabs on all such relationships and track stakeholder interests which in all likelihood were defined only by a verbal arrangement? Of course, it isn't.
Which is why in tomorrow's round of sanctions, the US Treasury will most likely push further and, as rumored, may go as far as the two most powerful men in Russia (behind Putin of course) - the heads of Rosneft and Gazprom.
Will Jack Lew's department finally sink a battleship in its shotgun approach to isolating the financial pawns, knights, bishops and rooks in Putin's chessgame? And if so, what happens if suddenly Putin realizes that the US financial trap may be getting warmer and warmer, and even the nuclear option is being contemplated. Will that be enough to force the former KGB spy to backtrack after over 2 months of opportunities to do just that? Somehow we doubt it, and in fact it will likely accelerate the Russian offensive both in the Ukraine and elsewhere around the world.
If nothing else, though, in a few more months of escalating sanctions of those most near and dear to Putin, if not Putin himself, the world may finally have its first official glimpse of what and where are "Putin's billions."
3) Might one of those radical syria foreign fighter take a pot shot with an expert rifle at a visiting Putin ? He will be in Europe this week , BRICS Summit next month. Probably at World Cup :
LONDON — Two years ago, a young man who now calls himself Abu Muhajir slipped into Syria with a few friends and $80,000, forsaking what he said was a job as a high school science teacher in North America to wage jihad.
In a conversation conducted by text message in recent weeks, he said he was raised in a religious family, studied at a madrasa on Sundays and had no non-Muslim friends growing up. And he suggested that Western governments could indeed have cause to be worried that the foreign jihadis in Syria might someday return home to carry out attacks.
“Attacks occurring on the soil of Middle Eastern countries,” he said. “We can only expect a response. Americans are still in Afghanistan.”
More than 70 Americans are thought by intelligence and counterterrorism officials to have traveled to Syria to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad. One of them, still publicly unidentified, carried out a suicide bombing there on Sunday, making him the first United States citizen believed to have been involved in such an attack.
As many as 3,000 Westerners are believed to have gone to Syria to fight, prompting increasingly aggressive efforts by their home governments to keep them from leaving and to detain them on their return. In Britain, the Home Office has stripped at least 20 jihadis of their citizenship, and the police said that the number of “Syria-related arrests” totaled 40 from January to March of this year, compared with 25 for the whole of last year.
Police at Heathrow Airport have arrested a 19-year-old man suspected of terror offences, the Met has said.
He was detained by counter-terror SO15 officers on suspicion of "preparing for acts of terrorism". A spokesman said the arrest was "Syria-related".
The force said it had searched an address in Camden, north London, but that the arrest was "not in response to any immediate risk or threat".
The teenager is being held in custody at a south London police station.
In a separate incident at the airport, the Met said officers from the same unit arrested a 20-year-old who they believe sent "money/property overseas for the purposes of assisting terrorism in Syria".
The British national was arrested as he entered the UK and is also being detained in south London.
Both suspects were held under the Terrorism Act 2006.
PARIS, June 3 (KUNA) -- In view of upwardly-revised estimates on their number, French security and intelligence services are ramping up efforts to stem the flow of French nationals seeking to become "foreign fighters" in the Syrian conflict and to monitor their return to France from the battlefield, official sources said Tuesday.
An ongoing crackdown on recruiters and support networks will be also be intensified, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on French television.
The re-evaluation of France's strategy has taken place only days after the arrest of a former combatant in Syria, 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche, who is alleged to have carried out a deadly shooting against a Jewish target in neighbouring Belgium on May 24.
Nemmouche, a French national, was arrested in Marseille on Friday in possession of weapons believed to have been used in the attack against the Jewish Museum in Brussels and video which is said to incriminate him in the shooting to death of three people and the serious wounding of a fourth.
The veteran of the Syrian conflict had left France for a self-declared "Jihad" and spent a year on the battlefield before returning to his home country via several other nations in Asia and Europe. Estimates on the number of French people fighting or having fought in Syria vary, but the figure was previously put at between 300 to 500, although non-official estimates have gone as high as 1,000.
Prime Minister Valls said on Tuesday that the number of people involved or seeking involvement in the Syrian conflict was above 800, the highest figure ever officially confirmed here.
He estimated the number of French nationals killed in Syria at around 30.
France this year has already implemented tougher measures to restrict young people - under 18 years of age - from leaving the country if it is known they are heading for Syria.
Parents have been given a special network to inform authorities if they suspect their children are planning to go to fight.
Increased surveillance of internet and other networks has already been put in place to track recruiters and organisers of transit to Syria.
"We have never before faced a challenge of this type," the Prime Minister said on "BFM Television, adding that the foreign fighter threat is "the most serious threat" France now faces.
Valls said that hundreds of people were now being monitored, both French and European nationals, after they volunteered to fight in Syria.
The major concern on a national level, he said, is that returning foreign fighters carry out terrorist operations on home soil.
A number of arrests of veterans and people linked with the Syrian "networks" have been made here and arms and explosives have been seized.
The attack last month in Belgium was the second in Europe by a self-declared, French "Jihadist" but Nemmouche is the first "Syrian foreign fighter" to have managed to carry out a deadly attack. The alleged assailant is now facing extradition to Belgium.
In early 2012, Mohammed Merah, a 24-year-old veteran of Afghanistan, who trained in Pakistan, went on a shooting spree that killed three French soldiers and a Jewish family, including three young children in Montauban and Toulouse in the southern France.
The Prime Minister warned in the interview that there could be "dozens" of similar cases waiting to happen in France but that the security services had prevented many threats and arrested a number of people and dismantled networks supporting foreign fighters. (end) jk.ajs
Time is of the essence to mitigate the Putin influence ..... That influence grows every day even as Obama sees his influence wane :
President Obama isn't scheduled to meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this week in Europe, but two U.S. allies are.
The office of British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he will meet with Putin this week after they attend events in Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings Friday.
Cameron's 10 Downing St. office said talks between the British and Russian leaders are a chance to "to set out the importance of a dialogue between the Russian government and the new Ukrainian government," according to the Associated Press.
Obama will attend the D-Day anniversary event but doesn't have Putin on his schedule. The American and Russian presidents have had a tense relationship, made worse by Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine.
"We don't have any plans for a bilateral meeting with President Putin, so we're not anticipating the two leaders will have any type of formal meeting," said Ben Rhodes, deputy White House national security adviser. "Clearly, they will be in the same place, attending the leaders lunch and then the ceremony, so they will certainly have cause to interact in that context."
French President Francois Hollande is scheduled to meet with Putin in Paris on Thursday
Putin may meet with UK Prime Minister Cameron in Normandy
MOSCOW, June 02. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia's President Vladimir Putin may meet with United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron in Normandy, France, on June 6 within the framework of D-Day 70th anniversary, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Such possibility is being discussed now,” Peskov told ITAR-TASS on Monday.
Earlier, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said Putin would meet with his French counterpart Francois Hollande in Paris on June 5 to discuss a wide range of issues, including the Ukrainian crisis. “The presidents of both countries will meet at the Elysee Palace on June 5 for talks on major international and bilateral issues, including the crisis in Ukraine,” Ushakov said last week. “On June 6, Putin is expected to take part in a solemn ceremony in Deauville, Normandy, on the occasion of D-Day 70th anniversary,” he said.
This will be Putin’s first visit to Western Europe since the crisis in Ukraine. France invited Putin to take part in the event several months ago and confirmed the invitation despite the disagreements on Ukraine.
After the EU summit, Hollande offered his Russian counterpart to have a bilateral meeting in Normandy on June 6. “I invited my Russian colleague to meet on June 6. We intend to hold consultations, including on the situation in Ukraine,” Hollande said. “We can have different views. But I didn’t forget and will never forget that the Russian people lost millions of lives (in World War II),” French President Francois Hollande said. President Putin “is a welcome guest at the festivities”, Hollande added.
Washington shares France’s view. US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said despite the serious disagreements on Ukraine, the US Britain, France, the Soviet Union and other countries joined in the struggle against Nazism 70 years ago.
At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on May 24, Putin said he was ready to meet with foreign leaders as part of his trip to Normandy, France, on June 6. “If nothing changes in the French president’s schedule, I’ll come,” Putin said at a meeting with editors-in-chief of world news agencies. “I’m not going to run from anyone. I’ll have contacts with my colleagues, including the Canadian premier,” he said.
World leaders from many countries are invited to attend the festivities. US President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and German Chancellor Angela Merkel affirmed their decision.
Ten years ago, on June 6, 2004 the heads of state of 16 states, including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, celebrated D-Day 60th anniversary in Cannes.
2) Making sanctions meaningless ....
Gazprom increasing gas exports to foreign countries — Gazprom CEO
MOSCOW, June 03. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian gas giant Gazprom is increasing gas exports to foreign countries, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Tuesday, adding that gas exports in May went up by 10% year-on-year to reach 13.75 billion cubic metres.
“Gazprom is increasing gas sales to its clients in foreign countries, even as compared with the last year’s record-breaking exports,” he said. “In May, exports amounted to 13.75 billion cubic metres, or by 10% more than last year. In general, over the five months of the current year, gas exports have grown by 5% on the background of projected decrease in gas production in Europe and in gas supplies from other sources.
Gazprom plans to deliver 158.4 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe, 56.4 billion cubic meters to the CIS and Baltic states in 2014, the company said.
Gazprom has supplied 161.5 billion cubic meters of gas in Europe, 59.4 billion cubic meters to the CIS and Baltic states in 2013.
The average gas price for Europe has stood at $387 per 1,000 cubic meters and $272 for CIS states.
3) Teaching master class on Diplomacy....
Moon of Alabama.....
June 02, 2014
Unveiling "Western" Hypocrisy Russia Connects Syria And Ukraine
Australia, Luxembourg, and Jordan are planning to circulate a new U.N. Security Council resolution that diplomats say would authorize the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria through four border crossings without approval from President Bashar Assad's government.
Diplomats familiar with the draft said it is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which means it could be enforced militarily. It would authorize humanitarian access at three crossings from Turkey and one from Iraq.
Some diplomats doubt Russia would approve a new humanitarian resolution under Chapter 7, but they say it could be a bargaining chip in negotiations.
That "bargaining chip" is worth nothing. Russia will veto any Chapter 7 resolution on Syria. There is nothing to bargain about that. But using that "bargaining chip" is now firing back.
For June Russia will be take up the presidency of the UN Security Council which allows it, to a certain extend, to set the agenda. The first point on that agenda is now the question of "human corridors" from Russia into east-Ukraine:
Russia will submit a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council on Monday calling for an immediate end to worsening violence in Ukraine and the creation of humanitarian corridors in the east of the country, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
[The draft resolution] will also include "a demand for the creation, without delay, of humanitarian corridors though which peaceful civilians could leave combat zones if they wish," he said. The text would also call for guarantees of unhindered access for humanitarian aid.
"Now how about a Chapter 7 clause for that?" Lavrov will ask his colleagues.
Russia is actively linking the cases of Syria and Ukraine. That may not bring any progress on either issue. But by connecting the cases Russia can publicly demonstrated the utter hypocrisy of "western" policies. The target of this is the "western" public which is already against further "western" meddling in Syria as well as in Ukraine. I expect more such political "mirroring" of the two situations in the coming weeks and month.
This morning the Kiev regime sent jets and bombed the regional administration building in Luhansk which had been taken over by federalists. At least five people were killed. This is another escalation by Kiev and the puppet players behind the regime with the larger intend to openly draw Russia into a fight with NATO. Moscow will not fall for the bait.
4) Alliances .....
Are China And Russia Moving Toward A Formal Alliance?
During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China last week, China and Russia signed a huge natural gas deal that is worth about $400 billion. The natural gas deal is a win-win for China and Russia, as China secures a long-term (30 years) provision of natural gas from Russia and Russia can reduce its dependence on the European markets as well as strengthen Russia’s position against Western sanctions. In the meantime, China and Russia conducted a joint naval drill in East China Sea, sending a deterrence message to Japan and the U.S. This also indicates that Russia is now moving closer to China’s side with regard to the territorial disputes between China and Japan. Furthermore, China and Russia last weekvetoed a draft UN resolution to send Syria to the International Criminal Court for war crimes. China and Russia had vetoed three previous UNSC resolutions condemning Syria.
In the joint statement issued by China and Russia, the main message is that China-Russia relations have reached a new stage of comprehensive strategic partnership and this will help increase both countries’ international status and influence, thus contributing to a more just international order. Of particular importance is the agreement that China and Russia will deepen cooperation underthe Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building in Asia (CICA), a new security framework in Asia-Pacific that conveniently excludes the U.S. and Japan.
The question that everybody now is asking is this: Why this new development in China-Russia relations?Obviously, the main trigger is the recentUkraine crisis that has seriously damaged Russia-West relations, thereby pushing Russia closer to China. However, there is also a larger strategic reason. That is, there are mutual strategic needs as both China and Russia want to create a multipolar world that is not dominated by the U.S., particularly as China faces threats from the US-led alliance in Asia. As previously pointed out by Zachary Keck, China’s chance of winning maritime disputes with Japan partly depends on maintaining a good relationship with Russia. From Russia’s perspective, the NATO expansion is a serious threat to Russia’s national security and as such Russia has to fight back. Russia’s current and future capabilities are limited, however, and it desperately needs a reliable strategic partner, which happens to be China.
A more fundamental question, however, is: are China and Russia moving toward to a formal alliance? Some believe (hereand here) that a new China-Russia alliance is now emerging and this will eventually lead to a multi-polar world order. Others disagree (here and here) by pointing to problems in China-Russia relations such as historical mistrust, the lack of a common threat, and conflicting interests in Central Asia. Interestingly, within China there have been some domestic debates (here, here, and here) about whether China should form an alliance with Russia.
A prominent proponent for a China-Russia alliance is Professor Yan Xuetong from Qinghua University. Yan has been advocating for a China-Russia alliance for some years. According to Yan, the most important factor determining whether China and Russia should form an alliance is whether the two countries have shared strategic interests and how long such shared strategic interests can last. He first argues that currently neither China nor Russia could become a member of the Western bloc led by the U.S. because other allies of the U.S. would feel threatened by China and Russia. On the one hand, the West would never trust Russia, thus Russia has no better alternative to siding with China. On the other hand, China’s number two position in the world means that China will not be supported by the U.S. with regard to most international affairs issues. Moreover, a declining U.S. will choose an offshore balancing strategy by relying on its allies in Europe and Asia, thereby increasing pressures for China and Russia. Such increasing pressures pose common threats to China and Russia. Thus, a China-Russia alliance would benefit both countries in the next 10 to 20 years. Yan also refutes the argument that a China-Russia alliance against the U.S. would lead to another cold war.
Opponents of a China-Russia alliance, however, point out that there could be potentially high costs of such an alliance due to common problems such as fears of abandonment and entrapment. China could be dragged into an unnecessary war by Russia. Also, Russia is not that interested in this alliance idea as Russia is unwilling to be China’s junior partner in the relationship. Besides, Russia wants to maintain good relations with all Asian states and thus will not side with China when it comes to territorial disputes between China and Japan. For all these reasons, a China-Russia alliance is unrealistic and a strategic partnership is more flexible and better for China.
Thus, it seems that in the near future a formal alliance between China and Russia will not happen due to a variety of reasons. Unless the U.S. militarily threatens both China and Russia at the same time, a formal alliance will not occur.However, the U.S. should be careful not to make another strategic mistake that would only facilitate a formal China-Russia alliance.
Following Russia’s historic $400 billion natural gas supply deal with China last week, Japanese lawmakers are looking to revive efforts to tap into Russian natural gas supplies themselves. ABloombergreport shows that a group of 33 lawmakers in Japan are backing a 1,350 kilometer pipeline that would run between Russia’s Sakhalin Island and Japan’s Ibaraki prefecture, just northeast of Tokyo. The project is estimated to cost $5.9 billion and could yield as much as 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year (equivalent to 15 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas). The pipeline would make up 17 percent of Japan’s imports.
The Japanese lawmakers backing the proposal belong mostly to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party. The renewed interest in the pipeline is primarily due to Japan’s own energy shortages following the shutdown of all of Japan’s 48 nuclear reactors following the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Democratic Party of Japan government at the time decided to shut down Japan’s nuclear plants and begin moving the country away from a reliance on nuclear power following a public backlash after the Fukushima crisis.
Based on current plans, natural gas originating on Russia’s Sakhalin Island would be transported via the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline where it will be processed into liquefied natural gas for export to Japan. Russia has considered additional undersea and land-based pipelines to deliver gas to China, North Korea, and South Korea in the region, including one pipeline that would deliver gas to South Korea via North Korea.
For Russia, a pipeline deal with Japan would be particularly compelling. Japan is the world’s largest LNG importer, having purchased 87.49 million metric tons of LNG in 2013 according to the Japanese finance ministry. Despite being the largest importer worldwide and its proximity to Russia, Japan only imported 9.8 percent of its LNG from Russia. The proposed pipeline would see that number grow substantially, in part because Japan could import natural gas instead of LNG. LNG is costlier to transport. Naokazu Takemoto, the Japanese parliamentarian heading the group in favor of the pipeline, estimates that “the price of natural gas will be two times lower than the export of liquefied natural gas.” Politically, given Russia’s current isolation with the West over its actions in Ukraine, a pipeline deal would also gain Vladimir Putin some vitally needed political currency. Indeed, Russia’s recent deal with China was likely motivated by the Kremlin’s political concerns — China seems to have won a deal at a very favorable price.
If Japan and Russia formally begin negotiations for a pipeline, Tokyo will likely be able to win a favorable price as well. As Europe tries to reduce its dependence on Russia’s natural gas, Russia will lose a certain amount of leverage in negotiations. The group of Japanese lawmakers will propose the deal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will study the feasibility of the deal in June. It is likely that Abe will propose the deal to Vladimir Putin when he visits Tokyo later this year.
In the end, Xi Jinping prevailed. A self-declared soccer fan, Xi Jinping had long ago signaled that he'd like to visit Brazil during the upcoming World Cup. Acceding to China's demands, Brazil agreed to not only schedule Xi's highly symbolic state visit in the week after the final (it marks 40 years of the bilateral relationship), but also organize the 6th BRICS Summit on July 15, just two days after the World Cup Final at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
The decision marks the end of months of uncertainty for many NGOs around the world which were desperate to schedule parallel meetings to the summit. After all, the yearly BRICS Leaders' Summit is not only an important moment for senior government officials to meet up - it has also turned into a point of reference for civil society in the Global South to interact and coordinate joint action. In this sense, the BRICS idea has been a success: Although incipient, intra-BRICS ties on civil society level have increased markedly since the government leaders decided to develop a more institutionalized format six years ago.
Summits in Brazil, India and South Africa are particularly important because they allow freer, more spontaneous interaction between academics, policy makers and NGO representatives. Summits in China, on the other hand, tend to be staged in difficult-to-access venues and even the track II events between academics and the banquets in China tend to provide little space for frank debates.
President Rousseff decided to organize the BRICS Summit in Fortaleza as a favor to a political ally, Governor Cid Gomes of the state of Ceará, who will be crucial in undermining the candidacy of Eduardo Campos, one of Rousseff's rivals in her bid for reelection in October 2014. For the BRICS Summit, the decision will have mostly negative consequences. To begin with, the city's hotel infrastructure is precarious. Fortaleza will host a World Cup quarter final on July 4, and prices of hotel rooms and flights even in the week after the tournament are already extremely high. An Indian diplomat privately complained that the city lacked hotel rooms adequate for state leaders and joked that India's new Prime Minister may just as well sleep in a tent, as Libya's Muhammar Gaddafi used to do during state visits abroad. In addition, the South African, Russian, Chinese and Indian embassies in Brasília will have to transport their limousines for the state leaders to Fortaleza, 2000 km away from the capital. Finally, no matter what the outcome of the World Cup, the international media and Brazil's population will certainly still be focused on the tournament's aftermath and eclipse any meaningful decisions taken at the summit - such as the creation of the BRICS Development Bank.
And yet, the decision to postpone the summit (Brazil had initially proposed late March or early April) has one important positive consequence: Rather than outgoing Manmohan Singh, India's new Prime Minister will participate, allowing the meeting's debates to look ahead with greater confidence. It may be one of the newly elected leader's first international trips, and will serve as a litmus test of India's continued commitment to the grouping.
Organizing a large international summit just two days after the greatest sports event on earth involves challenges and risks for President Rousseff. Protests may mar the tournament, as occurred during the 2013 Confederations Cup, possibly denting her approval ratings. The BRICS Summit could be criticized by some who argue that Brazil's claim to a greater role in the world is misguided and that it should focus on internal challenges instead. All that, alas, is unlikely to matter much to the population should Brazil's head coach Felipe Scolari deliver and win, as widely expected, the final on July 13.
Looks like something needs to give between the World Cup and before Putin travels to Japan in the Fall - that is if the Global Elites want to control the narrative . Stay tuned.....
Odd stuff ?
BTW , was Obama's security detail snacking on mary jane candy bars today while the President was working out ( vulnerable ) ?
Published: 05 Jun 2014 15:24 GMT+02:00 Updated: 05 Jun 2014 15:24 GMT+02:00
The same day President Vladimir Putin was to arrive in France for D-Day anniversary events, radical feminist protest group Femen destroyed the Russian leader's statue in a Paris wax museum.
A topless member of the radical protest group Femen used a metal chisel to stab and bash in the face of Putin's statue in a famed Paris wax museum on Thursday.
The activist, who had 'Kill Putin' written on her bare chest, reportedly screamed "Putin is a dictator" while destroying the figure at the Grevin Wax Museum, French daily Le Parisien reported.
Police arrested the activist shortly after the attack, which happened near statues of US President Barack Obama and recently abdicated Spanish King Juan Carlos, both of which escaped without a scratch.
A Femen activist hacks apart Putin's effigy. (AFP)
Putin is to arrive in France on Thursday to attend the 70th anniversary of D-Day events, which have attracted scores of world leaders to France. Putin arrives under the cloud of the confrontation between western powers and Russia over the annexation of Crimea.