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Canadian official travels to US to warn illegal immigrants: Best way to take care of your family is to enter Canada legally, if you enter illegally you’ll be deported-USA Today

6/8/18, “Canada warns immigrants in U.S. about heading north of the border,” USA Today, Alan Gomez, Miami

In the past year, Canada has seen bursts of…immigrants crossing illegally into Canada, mostly into the Quebec province that borders New York and other northeastern U.S. states.

In August [2017], Royal Canadian Mounted Police caught more than 5,500 people trying to illegally cross from the U.S. Those were mostly Haitian immigrants who will soon lose Temporary Protected Status as part of the Trump administration’s phase-out of the TPS program….

This week, Boissonnault met with groups that work with a variety of immigrants in South Florida. He even went on a Radio Caracol, a Spanish-language station, to explain the realities of immigration using his best Spanish.

“Canadians are broadly supportive of immigration,” Radchenko said. “But Canadians truly believe in order and well-managed immigration.”

Part of the reason many immigrants try their luck in Canada is the way the country has responded to the global refugee crisis.

The country has been increasing the total number of immigrants it admits each year. It’s on pace to accept 310,000 permanent residents this year, with a goal of increasing the annual total to 340,000 by 2020….

Boissonnault told the story of his forefathers, who first landed in Canada in 1642. He said it makes no difference, however, whether someone’s family has lived in Canada for “four centuries, four decades, four months or four minutes: A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

“Other than indigenous peoples…our country has been built on, and will continue to be built on, immigration,” he said. “But if you cross the border illegally, you will be breaking the law. You will be apprehended. And after that, you will be in detention.””

State Dept. contractor from Costa Rica admits stealing $2 million intended for processing of visa application fees at US embassy in Costa Rica-justice.gov

June 14, 2018,Department of State Contractor Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds, justice.gov, Charleston, South Carolina

“United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon stated today that Mauricio Andulo Hidalgo, age 43, of Costa Rica, has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Charleston, to Theft of Government Funds, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641.  United States District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy, of Charleston, accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Hidalgo used his position as President of SafetyPay-Central America to steal over $2,000,000 of government funds that were supposed to be transferred to a bank account maintained by the Department of State’s Global Financial Services Center in Charleston. SafetyPay-Central America had been hired as a subcontractor to handle the processing of visa application fees for the United States Embassy in Costa Rica. As part of the scheme, Hidalgo diverted the funds from a SafetyPay bank account in Costa Rica to another Costa Rican account under his sole control.

Ms. Lydon stated the maximum penalty for Theft of Government Funds is imprisonment for 10 years and/or a fine of $250,000.

The case was investigated by special agents of the Department of State, Office of Inspector General, led by Inspector General Steve A. Linick. Assistant United States Attorneys Marshall “Matt” Austin and Nathan Williams of the Charleston Office are prosecuting the case.”

 

Flooding of US border by Central Americans caused in part by US government failure to address 2012 complaints of violations to CAFTA, Central America Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA has increased displacement-8/2014

8/1/2014: For more than two years the U.S. Labor Department has failed to act on the Honduras complaint.”…Portions of violent Central American populations were forced onto defenseless US communities by US House and Senate unanimous agreement in 2008.

Portions of violent Central American populations were forced onto defenseless US communities by US House and Senate unanimous agreement in 2008. The new population would be funded by millions of US taxpayer dollars. “Many of the new students were years behind in their education. Some had never gone to school and couldn’t read or write in any language. The day before Christmas Eve in 2008, George W. Bush signed the William Wilberforce Reauthorization Act. 7/7/2014,Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking,” NY Times, Carl Hulse
………….

8/1/2014, Tackling the Root Causes of the Refugee Crisis at the U.S. Border,” talkingunion.wordpress.com, Charlie Fanning (“Charlie Fanning writes for the AFL-CIO Now blog, where this post originally appeared.”)

For months, thousands of children and families from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have been turning themselves in at the southern U.S. border, fleeing widespread violence, poverty and corruption in their communities. This influx of refugees has strained the resources of front-line responders and evoked both humanitarian responses from community groups and local unions and xenophobic backlash from right-wing politicians and activists….

Moving beyond a solely domestic response, the labor movement also stressed the need for the U.S. government to address longstanding concerns about labor rights abuses and a lack of access to decent work in Central America. 

Indeed, the situation for workers in Central America is dire. In both Honduras and Guatemala, the AFL-CIO and its labor movement counterparts in those countries have filed complaints under the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), alleging that those governments are complicit in serious violations of workers’ rights.

Trade unionists have reported that the governments of Honduras and Guatemala have done little to stop ongoing threats, retaliation and even the murder of labor activists. Guatemala is the most dangerous country in the world for trade union activity and Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world for a country not at war.

While U.S. government representatives are in the process of assessing the situation in Guatemala, for more than two years the U.S. Labor Department has failed to act on the Honduras complaint. This prompted a renewed call last week from the AFL-CIO and the Honduran labor movement for the U.S. government to respond to complaints, issue a report on findings, and begin a process to address the violations.

More than any other Central American country, Honduran workers and their families have been fleeing an acute jobs crisis and systemic violence, which their own government has perpetuated failing to protect its citizens’ rights to join together in trade unions and collectively improve their working conditions. Had it acted promptly to address the failures of the Honduran government to protect workers, the U.S. government already could have been on the way to addressing many of the “push factors” involved in the current refugee crisis.

To complement this ongoing work, the AFL-CIO and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) recently hosted a briefing for congressional staff discussing how U.S. trade, foreign and development policies have negatively affected the countries from which children are fleeing.

The panel shared first-hand accounts of how labor exploitation, violence, failed development strategies and the legacy of civil war in Central America has left the region devastated, while CAFTA, specifically, has done nothing to improve conditions and has only exacerbated displacement. The speakers urged lawmakers and their staff to turn away from short-sighted solutions and consider measures to improve U.S. trade policies, promote decent work and prevent future funding for corrupt military and police forces in the states most affected.

The AFL-CIO Executive Council committed America’s labor movement to provide support for refugees and stand with workers in Central America. Unions will continue working with civic leaders, clergy, refugee and immigrant rights groups and other community organizations to ensure children’s health, educational, safety and legal needs are met. In the months ahead, AFL-CIO unions also will organize a high-level labor delegation to investigate the root causes of the crisis and develop recommendations for addressing them. Until the U.S. government can craft an appropriate, long-term policy response that tackles problems on both sides of the border, there will be no end in sight for the current refugee crisis.

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Added: “Many of the new students were years behind in their education. Some had never gone to school and couldn’t read or write in any language. Flood of so-called unaccompanied minors from Central America was ensured by Dec. 2008 William Wilberforce Act “enacted quietly” by George Bush:

7/7/2014,Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking,” NY Times, Carl Hulse

Image caption: President George W. Bush signing the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. Credit Charles Dharapak/Associated Press”

“The bill gave substantial new protections to children entering the country alone who were not from Mexico or Canada by prohibiting them from being quickly sent back to their country of origin. 

Instead, it required that they be given an opportunity to appear at an immigration hearing and consult with an advocate, and it recommended that they have access to counsel. It also required that they be turned over to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the agency was directed to place the minor “in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child” and to explore reuniting those children with family members.”

……………….

Added: Obama administration placed Central American children with human traffickers. Jan. 2016 articles, Washington Post and NY Times: “The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, failed to do proper background checks of adults who claimed the children, allowed sponsors to take custody of multiple unrelated children, and regularly placed children in homes without visiting the locations,….permitted their adult sponsors to prevent caseworkers from providing them post-release services.”

1/28/2016,Obama administration placed children with human traffickers, report says,Washington Post, Abbie Van Sickle The Obama administration failed to protect thousands of Central American children who have flooded across the U.S. border since 2011, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers and to abuses at the hands of government-approved caretakers, a Senate investigation has found. 

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, failed to do proper background checks of adults who claimed the children, allowed sponsors to take custody of multiple unrelated children, and regularly placed children in homes without visiting the locations, according to a 56-page investigative report released Thursday.

And once the children left federally funded shelters, the report said, the agency permitted their adult sponsors to prevent caseworkers from providing them post-release services.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) initiated the six-month investigation after several Guatemalan teens were found in a dilapidated trailer park near Marion, Ohio, where they were being held captive by traffickers and forced to work at a local egg farm.

The boys were among more than 125,000 unaccompanied minors who have surged into the United States since 2011, fleeing violence and unrest in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador….

The report concluded that administration “policies and procedures were inadequate to protect the children in the agency’s care.” HHS spokesman Mark Weber said in a statement that the agency would “review the committee’s findings carefully and continue to work to ensure the best care for the children we serve.”

The report was released ahead of a hearing Thursday before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which Portman co-chairs with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). It detailed nearly 30 cases where unaccompanied children had been trafficked after federal officials released them to sponsors or where there were “serious trafficking indicators.”

“HHS places children with individuals about whom it knows relatively little and without verifying the limited information provided by sponsors about their alleged relationship with the child,” the report said.

For example, one Guatemalan boy planned to live with his uncle in Virginia. But when the uncle refused to take the boy, he ended up with another sponsor, who forced him to work nearly 12 hours a day to repay a $6,500 smuggling debt, which the sponsor later increased to $10,900, the report said. A boy from El Salvador was released to his father even though he told a caseworker that his father had a history of beating him, including hitting him with an electrical cord. In September, the boy alerted authorities that his father was forcing him to work for little or no pay, the report said; a post-release service worker later found the boy was being kept in a basement and given little food.

The Senate investigation began in July after federal prosecutors indicted six people in connection with the Marion labor-trafficking scheme, which involved at least eight minors and two adults from the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala.

One defendant, Aroldo Castillo-Serrano, 33, used associates to file false applications with the government agency tasked with caring for the children, and bring them to Ohio, where he kept them in squalid conditions in a trailer park and forced them to work 12-hour days, at least six days a week, for little pay.

Castillo-Serrano has pleaded guilty to labor-trafficking charges and awaits sentencing in the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo.

The FBI raided the trailer park in December 2014, rescuing the boys, but the Senate investigation says federal officials could have discovered the scheme far sooner.

In August 2014, a child-welfare caseworker attempted to visit one of the children, who had been approved for post-release services because of reported mental-health problems, according to the report.

The caseworker went to the address listed for the child, but the person who answered the door said the child didn’t live there, the report added. When the caseworker finally found the child’s sponsor, the sponsor blocked the caseworker from talking to the child.

Instead of investigating further, the caseworker closed the child’s case file, the report said, citing “ORR policy which states that the Post Release Services are voluntary and sponsor refused services.”

That child was found months later, living 50 miles away from the sponsor’s home and working at the egg farm, according to the report. The child’s sponsor was later indicted.”

“VanSickle is a reporter for the Investigative Reporting Program, a nonprofit news organization at the University of California at Berkeley.”  ………

==============

Jan. 28, 2016 NY Times article

The report also said that it was unclear how many of the approximately 90,000 children the agency had placed in the past two years fell prey to traffickers, including sex traffickers, because it does not keep track of such cases.”…

1/28/2016, U.S. Placed Immigrant Children With Traffickers, Report Says, NY Times,

The Department of Health and Human Services placed more than a dozen immigrant children in the custody of human traffickers after it failed to conduct background checks of caregivers, according to a Senate report released on Thursday.

Examining how the federal agency processes minors who arrive at the border without a guardian, lawmakers said they found that it had not followed basic practices of child welfare agencies, like making home visits.

The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations opened its inquiry after law enforcement officials uncovered a human trafficking ring in Marion, Ohio, last year (2015). At least six children were lured to the United States from Guatemala with the promise of a better life, then were made to work on egg farms.

The children, as young as 14, had been in federal custody before being entrusted to the traffickers….

In addition to the Marion cases, the investigation found evidence that 13 other children had been trafficked after officials handed them over to adults who were supposed to care for them during their immigration proceedings. An additional 15 cases exhibited some signs of trafficking. 

The report also said that it was unclear how many of the approximately 90,000 children the agency had placed in the past two years fell prey to traffickers, including sex traffickers, because it does not keep track of such cases….

In the fall of 2013, thousands of unaccompanied children began showing up at the southern border. Most risked abuse by traffickers and detention by law enforcement to escape dire problems like gang violence and poverty in Central America.

As detention centers struggled to keep up with the influx, the Department of Health and Human Services began placing children in the custody of sponsors who could help them while their immigration cases were reviewed. Many children who did not have relatives in the United States were placed in a system resembling foster care. 

But officials at times did not examine whether an adult who claimed to be a relative actually was, relying on the word of parents, who, in some cases, went along with the traffickers to pay off smuggling debts.

Responding to the report, the Department of Health and Human Services said it had taken measures to strengthen its system, collecting information to subject potential sponsors and additional caregivers in a household to criminal background checks.

Mark Greenberg, the agency’s acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families, said it had bolstered other screening procedures and increased resources for minors.

“We are mindful of our responsibilities to these children and are continually looking for ways to strengthen our safeguards,” he said.”
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Comment: The US political class has successfully converted the US into another lawless, third world toilet.

Probe expands into Qatar government hacking emails of a US citizen and former RNC finance chair then distributing contents to multiple prominent media outlets to create and sell a narrative favorable to Qatar vs US government. Among numerous defendants is cyber intel consultant Global Risk Advisors-Free Beacon

Defendants in the case include Mohammed bin Hamad, a senior Qatari regime official who leads the country’s public relations and lobbying efforts in the United States; Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former Qatari diplomat and head of a $100 billion Qatari sovereign wealth fund; Jamal Benomar, a former United Nations official who lives in New York and works for Qatar; and the cyberintelligence consulting firm Global Risk Advisors, which was hired by Qatar in 2017.”

6/15/18, Phone Records Suggest Qatar Shopped Hacked Emails to DC Reporters,” Washington Free Beacon, Adam Kredo

Subpoenas issued in widening probe into Qatar hack of Elliot Broidy’s email.”

“Attorneys for former Republican National Committee finance chairman and Trump ally Elliott Broidy have issued 43 subpoenas in an investigation following the hack of his email account by what Broidy alleges was the state of Qatar, according to multiple sources involved in the investigation.

Broidy’s legal team is preparing more subpoenas in a case alleging that Qatar orchestrated a spear phishing hack of Broidy’s email, in retaliation for Broidy’s anti-Qatar advocacy with the Trump administration. The lawsuit says that individuals working for Qatar in Washington and New York, including both registered and unregistered foreign agents, distributed the hacked emails to reporters, fueling a series of damaging media stories.

Several prominent news outlets ran stories in recent months based on emails obtained from the Broidy hack, including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the New York Times, McClatchy, and the Associated Press.

The stories revealed details of Broidy’s interactions with Qatar’s Gulf-region rivals, and his efforts to persuade President Trump and other administration officials to side with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Qatar in their ongoing dispute in the region. The leaked emails appear to show Broidy was reporting back to UAE representatives regarding meetings he held with President Trump and administration officials.

In at least two instances in which records have already been obtained—those concerning stories in the AP and McClatchy—subpoenaed phone records show that Nicolas Muzin, a former deputy chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) who was a registered foreign agent for Qatar, had been in close contact with reporters who soon thereafter published stories based on the Broidy emails.

In the weeks leading up to the May 21 publication of a lengthy AP story on Broidy, Muzin and AP reporter Tom LoBianco spoke approximately three dozen times, according to subpoenaed phone records viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

Muzin and McClatchy reporter Ben Wieder held at least four calls on January 25 and 26, the phone records show. In March, McClatchy ran a lengthy article based on the hacked Broidy emails.

The AP reporter, LoBianco, left the AP a day after the Broidy story was published.

Both the AP and McClatchy told the Free Beacon that they do not comment on their sourcing. LoBianco did not respond to a request for comment.

Individuals once tied to Qatar, including Muzin and Joseph Allaham, have publicly cut ties with the country or have criticized Qatar in recent days as the legal landscape shifts against the Middle Eastern nation.

On June 6, Muzin announced on Twitter that his firm, Stonington Strategies, “is no longer representing the State of Qatar.”

A day later, Joseph Allaham, a New York restaurateur who is accused of working for Qatar and with Muzin, also abruptly severed ties with Qatar, telling Politico that “Qatar enjoys portraying themselves as the purveyor of peace in the region, but this could not be further from the truth.”

Allaham, who was being paid by Qatar but had not filed with the Justice Department as a registered foreign agent, announced he would register.

Allaham’s legal troubles recently deepened when a federal district court judge in New York ordered him for the third time to comply with a Broidy subpoena seeking records and documents related to the hack. Allaham had gained extensions first by citing his wife’s pregnancy and then the birth of a child, finally earning a harsh rebuke from the judge. The failure to produce documents, “combined with the fact that no response, not even an objection, was filed by the compliance date … further suggests that Allaham never intended to comply with the subpoena or produce any documents whatsoever” the judge ruled.

Other defendants in the case include Mohammed bin Hamad, a senior Qatari regime official who leads the country’s public relations and lobbying efforts in the United States; Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former Qatari diplomat and head of a $100 billion Qatari sovereign wealth fund; Jamal Benomar, a former United Nations official who lives in New York and works for Qatar;

and the cyberintelligence consulting firm Global Risk Advisors, which was hired by Qatar in 2017.”

FDR excited to meet Stalin in Tehran, formed partnership with Stalin and Churchill to defeat Nazis in Europe, outlined for Stalin his view of future United Nations dominated by “four policemen,” US, UK, China, and Soviet Union-Politico

Stalin, FDR, Churchill, 11/28/1943

Image:President Franklin D. Roosevelt joined British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin at a conference in Tehran. AP Photo,” via Politico

11/27/2016, FDR attends Tehran conference: Nov. 28, 1943,Politico, Andrew Glass

“On this day in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt joined British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin at a conference in Tehran that cemented the pledge of an Allied second front against Nazi Germany in Western Europe.

The leaders, known as the Big Three, chose the Iranian capital as the site for their parley, largely at Stalin’s behest. When first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Roosevelt’s daughter Anna voiced a desire to accompany the president, he said no women would be present. Subsequently, they were incensed to learn that Churchill’s wife, Clementine, and Madame Chiang Kai-shek of China had made the trip. 

FDR biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote that rather than feeling any trepidation about the dangers of a secret trip through war zones, Roosevelt was not only eager to meet again with his friend Churchill but also excited at the prospect of meeting Stalin for the first time.

Roosevelt promised Stalin that the Americans and the British would invade Nazi-occupied France, crossing the English Channel, in the spring of 1944. Until that point, Churchill favored a joint strike through the Mediterranean, pushing eastward through the Balkans. That strategy would have presumably secured British interests in the Middle East and India while curbing the Soviet advance into Eastern Europe. For his part, FDR, with the advent of an Allied victory, sought to break up the British Empire; his concessions to Stalin served that goal….

The leaders agreed that the Soviet Union would fight against Japan once the Nazis were beaten. They also promised to offer postwar economic assistance to Iran and guaranteed the host nation’s independence and territorial integrity.”

Wind turbines come to standstill across UK, no wind for 7 days-Daily Mail, 6/6/18

6/6/18, “Britain Becalmed: Turbines across the UK are at a STANDSTILL after wind ‘disappears’ for a week causing a two-year low in electricity production,” Daily Mail, Joe Pinkstone

Calm conditions in the last seven days have caused wind turbines across the UK to come to a standstill.

The ‘disappearing wind’ has meant turbines have generated less than two per cent of the country’s power this month – the lowest figure for more than two years.

Forecasts show the calm conditions will continue until the middle of the month.

Critics of wind power are likely to point to the current wind shortage as evidence of their unreliability. upporters say improvements in storage technology will allow power generated by wind to smooth out demand.

The Met Office told MailOnline that this period of tranquillity and little power is the result of a series of high-pressure areas over the UK. 

Periods of low wind are common, but it is unusual for it to be this severe and for it to last this long. 

Britain got 15 per cent of its power from wind last year – twice as much as coal. But on Sunday this figure fell to just 1.1 per cent, with only 0.3 gigawatts of energy being produced around 10am.

The figures were equally as dire on Saturday, with only 2.6 per cent of the day’s electricity coming from wind turbines. In the last three days, the amount of energy produced has hovered between 6.7 per cent and 8.8 per cent.

A spokesperson for the Met Office told MailOnline: The reason winds are light at the moment is because of several high pressure systems over the UK. ‘With a clockwise air current, the weather tends to be much calmer than when it is moving in an anticlockwise direction in a low pressure system. Recently, we have experienced a preponderance of high pressure systems, but it’s not been constant.’

Britain has been trying to lighten its dependence on fossil fuels, and in 2017 wind produced twice as much power as coal….

A drop-off like this in winter could be catastrophic should the UK become reliant upon renewable energy sources. Whilst advances in the storage of energy has meant power can be kept for longer, the process is yet to be perfected.

Earlier this week, Greg Clark, secretary of state for business energy and industrial strategy signalled that the UK will take the next step toward agreeing to help Hitachi Ltd. finance a new nuclear reactor.“…

 

Crimeans know it wasn’t Russia but the US who incited violence in Ukraine in 2013-2014. US oligarchs are still in post WWII mindset that entitled them to meddle in whatever country they wanted. US is out of control global aggressor, not Russia or Putin

“With the violent overthrow of the Kiev government and clear proof of US involvement in the coup it seems highly inaccurate to say that Russia “invaded” or is “occupying” Crimea. On the contrary, it seems to be the USA and allies which are “aggressive”.”……In the years following the end of the Soviet Union, the idea that Russia was “ours to lose” gained wide currency in American foreign policy circles. The Clinton administration sought to dismantle the remaining state apparatus of Soviet-era Russia and replace it with a new liberal civil society that took its cues from Washington.“…May 2018, The Cold War Culture War,” James Carden, American Affairs JournalIn a 9/26/2013 Washington Post column US neocon Gershman called Ukraine the prize.In 2014, after 22 years and $5 billion US tax dollars US won the “prize” by engineering a “regime change” in Ukraine. “Regime change” is politically correct term for “coup.” 

7/15/2016, “Is it True That “Russia is Aggressive”?” Rick Sterling, counterpunch.org

Recently I went on a 15 day visit to Russia organized by the Center for Citizen Initiatives [created in 1983, formerly known as Center for US-USSR initiatives]. The group visited Moscow, the Crimean peninsula, Krasnodar (southern Russia) and St. Petersburg. In each location we met many locals and heard diverse viewpoints. CCI has a long history promoting friendship and trying to overcome false assumptions between citizens of the USA and Russia. The founder Sharon Tennison has focused on making people-people connections including the business community, Rotary clubs, etc.. This delegation was organized because of concern about escalating international tensions and the danger of a drift toward world threatening military conflict.

We were in Russia in late June as they were commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. They call it the Great Patriotic War where 27 million Soviet citizens died. In Russia it’s a very sober occasion in which they pay tribute to the fallen, acknowledge the heroes and underscore the horrors of war. Virtually everyone in Russia lost family members in World War 2 and there seems to be a deep understanding of what war and invasion mean.

It is alarming to see the constant drumbeat in Western media that Russia is aggressive, Russia invaded Crimea, Russia is a threat. Hardly a day goes by that the NY Times does not have an editorial or news story with the assertion or insinuation that Russia is “aggressive”.

Today’s op-ed by Andrew Foxall is an example. The “thinktank “ director bemoans the British departure from the European Union and suggests that Russian President Putin may be behind it :

“Mr. Putin has spent the past 16 years trying to destabilize the West….. After Brexit, the union has lost not only one of its most capable members, but also one of its two nuclear powers and one of its two seats at the United Nations Security Council… …..Mr. Putin checked the European Union’s expansion when he invaded Ukraine in 2014. The Continent’s security order is now in a perilous plight: If Mr. Putin senses weakness, he will be tempted into further aggression.”

It is now common to hear the claim that Russia “invaded” Ukraine and is “occupying” Crimea.

The US and allies have imposed sanctions because of the Crimean decision to separate from Ukraine and rejoin Russia. Tourist cruise ships no longer stop at Crimean ports and international airlines are prohibited from flying directly to the international airport at the Crimean capital, Simferopol. Students from Crimean universities cannot transfer their academic credits to universities internationally.

Despite the sanctions and problems, Crimea appears to be doing reasonably well. In the past two years, the airport has been rebuilt and modernized. The streets of Balaclava, Sevastopol, Simferopol and Yalta are busy and bright. No doubt things could be much better and residents want the sanctions lifted, but there were no evident signs of shortages or poverty. On the contrary, kids were enjoying ice cream, parks were full and streets busy late into the night. The famous Artek Youth Camp near Yalta is being refurbished with new dormitories, state of the art swimming pool and gymnasium. Right now they are handling 3,000 youth in the camp at one time with 30,000 kids from all over Russia this year.

A 12 mile bridge connecting Crimea to southern Russia is now half complete. A impressive video showing the design is here.

After 22 years as part of independent Ukraine following the breakup of the Soviet Union, what drove the people of Crimea to overwhelmingly support a referendum calling for ‘re-unification’ with Russia? Was this the result of intimidation or an ‘occupation’ by Russia?

We received a very strong sense from talking with many different people in Crimea that they are happy with their decision. The impetus was not aggression from Russia; the impetus came from the violence and ultra-nationalism of the foreign backed coup in Ukraine [ie the US led coup in Ukraine].

Protests against Ukraine’s Yanukovych government began in November 2013 in the “Maidan” (central square) in Kiev. Protesters included right wing nationalist and Nazi sympathizers hostile to the Yanukovych government. A significant faction glorified the Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.

The US was deeply involved in promoting the “Maidan” protests and strategizing how to bring in a new government. Assistant Secy of State Victoria Nuland demanded the Yanukovych government do nothing to stop or prevent the increasing vandalism, attacks and intimidation. With thugs in the street increasingly clashing with police, the US pressed the Ukrainian government to break economic ties with Russia as a condition for closer relations with Europe and loans from the International Monetary Fund.

On the surface, the US was encouraging Ukraine to strengthen ties with the European Union but in reality Nuland’s goals were about the US, NATO and undermining Russia. This was dramatically revealed in a secretly recorded phone call between Nuland and the US Ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. Nuland and Pyatt discussed who should and should not be in the coup government two weeks before the coup happened. As they conspired over the phone, Nuland expressed her displeasure with the EU’s reluctance to push the coup …. “Fuck the EU” said the woman who six weeks earlier spoke glowingly of Ukraine’s “European aspirations”.

Prior to the coup, Nuland spoke of the high US “investment” in promoting “democracy” in Ukraine. In a December 2013 speech she said

“Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We have invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals…” (approx 7:30 into the recording / US-Ukraine Foundation, 13 December 2013).

In mid December hundreds of Crimeans traveled to Kiev in buses to join peaceful protests in opposition to the Maidan protests [incited by US oligarchs using US taxpayer dollars] seen on television. They stayed in Kiev through January and into February until the violence exploded on February 18 (2014). Altogether, 82 persons were killed including 13 police and 1100 injured. At that point, the Crimeans decided peaceful protest was useless and to return home. The bus caravan departed Kiev on Feb 20 but was stopped at night near the town of Korsun. The buses were torched and the Crimean travelers brutalized, beaten and seven killed. When news of this reached Crimea, it was yet another cause for alarm. A video titled “The Crimes of Euromaidan Nazis” documents the events and includes interviews with numerous passengers. These atrocities against unarmed Crimeans were done on a public highway with no intervention from local Ukrainian police.

On Feb 21 the existing government came to a compromise agreement. But that did not appease the most violent protesters or their supporters. A parliamentarian was beaten in broad daylight and threats issued. President Yanukovych fled for his life and a new government, led by Victoria Nuland’s choice Arseniy Yatsenyuk, took charge. The US and western allies quickly recognized the new government while Russia objected it was an illegal coup. In the first days of the new government a bill was passed to make Ukrainian the sole official language of the country.

Indeed there was aggression and violence in Ukraine but it was not from Russia. Rather, evidence indicated the violence was from the forces which led the coup. This was revealed in an intercepted phone conversation between British representative to the European Union, Catherine Ashton, and the Estonian Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet. Paet reported that he had been to Kiev and “there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition.”   Instead of probing into the facts behind this dramatic information, Ashton said “Oh gosh …. We will need to look into that” and quickly moved on.

Crimeans we spoke with described their shock and outrage at the events. In just four months they witnessed violent Maidan protests, the overthrow of the elected government, beatings and killings of citizens returning from Kiev, and then the removal of Russian as an official language.

In response, local leaders recommended a Crimea wide referendum with the option to officially re-unite with the country that Crimea had been part of for over two centuries. A referendum was held on March 16. Turnout was 89% with 96% voting in favor of the “reunification of Crimea with Russia”.

With the violent overthrow of the Kiev government and clear proof of US involvement in the coup it seems highly inaccurate to say that Russia “invaded” or is “occupying” Crimea. On the contrary, it seems to be the USA and allies which are “aggressive”.

The same reversal of reality is going on with the expansion of NATO. In recent weeks NATO has placed armed forces in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. NATO military expenses are already 13 times greater than that of Russia yet NATO plans to increase military spending even more. Meanwhile the US unilaterally withdrew from the Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 and is busy building and installing ABM sites in Alaska and now eastern Europe. With a serious face they have previously claimed these sites are being installed because of the danger of “Iranian missiles” but only a fool could take that seriously. There is the additional risk that the same sites could be converted from anti ballistic missiles to contain nuclear warheads.

Are NATO and the US preparing for war? The public should be asking hard questions to our political and military leaders as they waste our tax dollars and risk global conflagration.

When the audio recording of Nuland and Pyatt discussing how to “midwife” the Kiev coup was revealed, the State Dept spokesperson was grilled about it. She responded “That’s what diplomats do”.

Enough of the nonsense that “Russia is aggressive” when the evidence indicates it’s the USA and allies who are destabilizing other countries, escalating a new arms buildup and promoting conflict instead of diplomacy.”

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Rick Sterling is a retired aerospace engineer who now does research/writing on international issues. He can be contacted at rsterling1@gmail.com.”

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Comment: These days US personnel constantly cite “national security” as an excuse to end conversations about what they’re doing in our name and with our money. Unfortunately, US government actions prove they couldn’t care less about ‘national security.’ If the US cared in the slightest about security of Americans they’d long ago have barricaded the US southern border. Instead, to them the US southern border doesn’t even exist. Expenditures of our US tax dollars aren’t to be questioned because–“National Security”– we’re always on the verge of yet another unwinnable war–instigated by the criminal mob running the US. US post WWII interventionism has never once made life better in its target countries. Quite th opposite, these aggressions have been disastrous, ruining entire continents such as Libya and multiple Middle East wars. By the way, Communist China is very aggressive but you don’t see US putting tanks around their borders.