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Ukraine Embeds “Irreversible” Commitment To Join EU/NATO Into Its Constitution

Authored by Manilo Dinucci via Off-Guardian.org, The day after the signature of NATO’s membership protocol with North Macedonia as its 30th member, Ukraine did something without precedent: it included in its Constitution the engagement to enter officially into NATO and the European Union at the same time. On 7 February, on a proposition by President Petro Poroshenko – the oligarch who made himself rich by plundering public properties, and who is once again a candidate for the presidency – the Kiev parliament, by 34 votes to 35 with 16 abstentions, approved these amendments to the Constitution. The Introduction pronounces “the irreversible movement of Ukraine towards Euro-Atlantic integration”; articles 85 and 116 state that it is a fundamental duty of the parliament and the government to “obtain Ukraine’s full membership of NATO and the EU”; article 102 stipulates that “the President of Ukraine is the guarantor of the strategic decisions of the State aimed at obtaining full membership of NATO and the EU”. The inclusion in the Ukrainian Constitution of the engagement to enter officially into NATO bears with it some very serious consequences. On the interior, it alienates the future of Ukraine from this choice, by excluding any alternative, and outlaws de facto any party or person who might oppose the “strategic decisions of the state”. Already, the Central Electoral Commission has forbidden Petro Simonenko, director of the Ukrainian Communist Party, to...

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Kalashnikov Unveils Kamikaze Drone At IDEX-2019

Russian assault and sniper rifle manufacturer Kalashnikov Group, a Rostec subsidiary, has unveiled a new high-precision suicide drone, called the KYB UAV, on Sunday at the IDEX-2019 arms exhibition in the United Arab Emirates. The new drone is equipped with GPS, allows it to precisely hits ground targets, delivering a small warhead to target coordinates. “This is a very accurate and most effective weapon, which is very difficult to fight with using traditional air defense systems, said Sergey Chemezov, head of Rostec. “The explosive can be delivered to target regardless of how well hidden it is. It operates ‘regardless of hidden terrains, at both high and low altitude,” he added. According to the presentation shown at the Kalashnikov booth, the KYB drone can travel at speeds of 50-80 miles per hour, with a 6.6-pound warhead and flight duration of up to 30 minutes. A video shows the takeoff, flight, and destruction of the target with a KUB-BLA, a slight variant of the KYB “The drone was successfully tested and ready to go,” Rostec representatives told TASS during IDEX-2019. Russia also claimed that is has started shipping Kalashnikov AK103, a third generation assault rifle, to Saudi Arabia under an arms deal signed between the two countries in 2017. In the drone age, both US and Russia should fear the global proliferation of weaponized UAVs. More importantly, Russia strapping a small warhead to a drone that looks like it can be purchased on Amazon, suggests that small, weaponized drones on the modern battlefield will be...

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Labour Splitters: Getting The Bland Back Together

Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org, A damp squib of a press conference displays a group struggling for charisma, coherence and identity… As of yesterday morning, seven MPs have officially resigned the whip and quit the Labour Party. They are now “independent”, apparently. Their names, if you don’t know already: Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith…and the other two. It doesn’t really matter, to quote David Lindsay on Twitter: People you’ve never heard of leave party they were never really in. #LabourSplit — David Lindsay (@davidaslindsay) February 18, 2019 And so our 7 brave little soldiers head off into the unknown. The Seven Samurai. Ronin, the Japanese might say. Warriors without masters, if you’re in the mood to be flatteringly poetic. Chickens without heads if you’re being a little more honest. It’s not gone terribly well so far. For one thing, the announcement was NOT of the long-awaited [name-to-be-announced] party. There is no party. They have no policies except Brexit is bad and no ideology except Corbyn is worse. There is no leader. No manifesto. No direction. They are the “independent group”, that is all. A not-at-all catchy name for a sordid collection of also-rans and never-weres. A line up that looks more like a staff photo for a struggling comprehensive than a political party. Or the roster of one of those dodgy personal injury law...

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“But They Are Dangerous!” European Leaders Shocked At Trump’s ISIS Ultimatum 

After President Trump’s provocative tweets on Sunday wherein he urged European countries to “take back” and prosecute some 800 ISIS foreign fighters as US forces withdraw from Syria, or else “we will be forced to release them,” the message has been met with shock, confusion and indifference in Europe. Trump had warned the terrorists could subsequently “permeate Europe”.  Possibly the most pathetic and somewhat ironic response came from Denmark, where a spokesperson for Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said Copenhagen won’t take back Danish Islamic State foreign fighters to stand trial in the country, according to the German Press Agency DPA. “We are talking about the most dangerous people in the world. We should not take them back,” the spokesperson stressed, and added that the war in Syria is ongoing, making the US president’s statement premature.  Image source: Alamy News/BBC Germany’s response was also interesting, given a government official framed ISIS fighters’ ability to return as a “right”.  A spokeswoman for Germany’s interior ministry said, “In principle, all German citizens and those suspected of having fought for so-called Islamic State have the right to return.” She even added that German ISIS fighters have “consular access” — as if the terrorists would walk right up to some embassy window in Turkey or Beirut!  Noting that the Iraqi government has also of late contacted Germany to transport foreign fighters to their home country for trial, she added, “But in Syria, the German government cannot guarantee legal and consular duties for jailed...

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Warsaw And Munich: Whistling Past NATO’s Graveyard

Authored by Tom Luongo, If the Anti-Iran conference in Warsaw was the opening act, the annual Munich Security Conference was the main event. Both produced a lot of speeches, grandstanding and virtue-signaling, as well as a lot of shuffling of feet and looking at the ground. The message from the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia was clear, “We are still committed to the destruction of Syria as a functional state to end the growing influence of Iran.” Europe, for the most part, doesn’t buy that argument anymore. Germany certainly doesn’t. France is only interested in how they can curry favor with the U.S. to wrest control of the EU from Germany. The U.K. is a hopeless has-been, living on Deep State inertia and money laundered through City of London. The Poles just want to stick it to the Russians. Everyone else has a bad case of, “been there, done that, ain’t doin’ it again.” They know supporting the fiction that the War in Syria was a war against the evil President Bashar al-Assad is counter-productive. The geopolitical landscape is changing quickly. And these countries, like Hungary, Italy, and the Czech Republic, know that the current policy trajectory of the Trump administration vis a vis Russia, Iran and China is a suicide pact for them. So they show up when called, receive our ‘diplomats’ and then pretty much ignore everything...

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Escobar: How New Silk Roads Are Shaping Southwest Asia

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times, Businesses in the Middle East have begun to think ‘Make trade not war’ and being part of China’s Belt and Road scheme Singapore, aiming high for the status of Asia’s unofficial capital, seems like the ideal venue for a conference to discuss how the Middle East could learn a few lessons from ASEAN’s multi-layered relations with China, especially involving partnership in the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But first, let’s get things straight. The “Middle East” is, of course, a Eurocentric, Orientalist denomination. From Asia’s – and China’s – cultural and geographical point of view, the “Middle East” is correctly seen as Southwest Asia. It’s enlightening to evaluate two Chinese informed perspectives on how China is deploying its geopolitical soft power across Southwest Asia in contrast to the Trump administration’s immensely muddled strategy. Duke University professor Bai Gao, also a visiting professor at Peking University, stresses how ASEAN privileges “a stronger regional identity that often unites these countries together to pursue their common interests when they deal with external great powers.” That’s in sharp contrast with Southwest Asia, where nations, geopolitically, are extremely selfish and eschew aligning on common interests. Peking University Professor Wu Bingbing, also Qatar Chair Professor in Middle Eastern Studies, for his part, stresses how “China believes in partnerships and does not take sides with any...

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Visualizing The 7 Major Flaws Of The Global Financial System

Since the invention of banking, the global financial system has become increasingly centralized. In the modern system, central banks now control everything from interest rates to the issuance of currency, while government regulators, corporations, and intergovernmental organizations wield unparalleled influence at the top of this crucial food chain. There is no doubt that this centralization has led to the creation of massive amounts of wealth, especially to those properly connected to the financial system. However, as Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes, the same centralization has also arguably contributed to many global challenges and risks we face today. FLAWS OF THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM Today’s infographic comes to us from investment app Abra, and it highlights the seven major flaws of the global financial system, ranging from the lack of basic access to financial services to growing inequality. Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist 1. Billions of people globally remain unbanked To participate in the global financial sector, whether it is to make a digital payment or manage one’s wealth, one must have access to a bank account. However, 1.7 billion adults worldwide remain unbanked, having zero access to an account with a financial institution or a mobile money provider. 2. Global financial literacy remains low For people to successfully use financial services and markets, they must have some degree of financial literacy. According to a recent global survey, just 1-in-3 people show an understanding...

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GE, Boeing, T-Mobile Among Latest Victims Of Chinese IP Theft

As US and Chinese negotiators prepare to begin their seventh round of trade talks this week, more reports are being leaked to the media about China’s efforts to steal trade secrets from US companies via “Operation Cloudhopper”, the Ministry of State Security-backed infiltration campaign that used service providers in the US and Europe to infiltrate the systems of their clients. According to a report in the New York Times that detailed how China and Iran have ramped up their hacking efforts since 2015, when the now-abandoned Iran deal was initially struck, and China promised the Obama administration that it would pull back on its cyberespionage efforts. After an 18-month lull, China’s 10-year-long commercially motivated campaign was revitalized in the midst of growing trade tensions between the US and China (tensions that predated Trump’s trade war). Among the latest targets of China’s hacks, according to the NYT’s military and private sources, were GE Aviation, Boeing and T-Mobile. A summary of an intelligence briefing read to The New York Times said that Boeing, General Electric Aviation and T-Mobile were among the recent targets of Chinese industrial-espionage efforts. The companies all declined to discuss the threats, and it is not clear if any of the hacks were successful. Offering some background on China’s hacking strategy in recent years, sources described how China has managed to carry out more sophisticated attacks that have...

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The ‘Disappearing Democrat’ Scandal – Part 2

Authored by Tim Donner via Liberty Nation, This is the second of a two-part series on a massive scandal which has gone largely unreported, based on an interview on Liberty Nation Radiowith Luke Rosiak, author of Obstruction of Justice: How the Deep State Risked National Security to Protect the Democrats. In part one, Mr. Rosiak described how the scandal unfolded and jeopardized the security of more than two dozen Democratic members of Congress. The media, the DOJ, and the Democrats: A powerful axis with the ability to shape what we perceive as the issue of the day… It was a scandal that threatened to metastasize and blow up in the face of Democrats in a presidential election year like no other. But with the Hillary Clinton email scandal growing by the day, Democrats willing to do almost anything to avoid the specter of a Donald Trump presidency, the FBI burying their findings and a drive-by media behaving with a distinct lack of curiosity, few people took notice. Imram Awam, an IT specialist and Pakistani national with a checkered past, yet unvetted by the many congressional Democrats who employed his services, took advantage of the unfettered access he was granted to their computer files to hack, steal, blackmail – and even threaten to kill his wife’s family – in the process placing national security in distinct jeopardy. We were joined on Liberty Nation Radio by Luke Rosiak,...

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The Wealthiest And Poorest County In Every U.S. State

Submitted by Visual Capitalist The average U.S. state is made up of 62 counties. With so many counties spread throughout each state in the nation, it’s not surprising that we can find counties that exemplify almost any part of the American experience. In this case, we’re comparing county-level data to look at the differences in economic opportunity within each state. More specifically, we are looking at the range of median household income, which is one proxy for the difference in economic status between counties. Disparity By State Today’s infographic comes to us from TitleMax, and it looks at the wealthiest and poorest counties in each individual U.S. state based on the measure of median household income. Here are the five states with the biggest disparity between rich and poor counties: 1. Virginia: $102,800 Loudoun is about an hour’s drive to D.C., and it also happens to be the richest county in the U.S. in terms of median income. Further west in the state, bordering Kentucky and West Virginia, lies Buchanan County, which has a median household income of just $31,800. 2. New Mexico: $86,500 In Los Alamos, known as the birthplace of the atomic bomb, median household income has exploded to $114,700 – meanwhile, along the Mexico border lies Luna, the poorest county in the state. 3. Colorado: $85,200 Just like the Colorado has a difference in elevation, it...

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