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newthinking

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'Sub' outside Stockholm was civilian boat

Source: The Local


'Sub' outside Stockholm was civilian boat

Published: 13 Apr 2015 07:43 GMT+02:00


Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad at a press conference after Sweden's October submarine hunt. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

A suspected submarine spotted in the Stockholm archipelago a week after Sweden's extensive hunt for Russian underwater vessels outside the capital last autumn was only a civilian boat, Sweden's Armed Forces have now said.

On October 31st, 2015, retired naval officer Sven Olof Kviman snapped a picture of what looked like a 20-30 metre long, black submarine in waters just outside Lidingö in Stockholm. The incident has remained unconfirmed, but has been classed by the military as a “potential” submarine.

But Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad has now told Swedish newspapers that the Armed Forces reported to the Swedish government last Wednesday that the suspected underwater vessel was in fact only a civilian “working boat”.

Read more: http://www.thelocal.se/20150413/suspected-sub-in-swedish-waters-was-working-boat



Sweden confirms mystery ‘Russian sub’…was in fact a workboat
Published time: April 13, 2015


ARCHIVE PHOTO: Swedish corvette HMS Visby patrols the Stockholm Archipelago October 19 2014, searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in the waters (Reuters / Marko Savala)

The unknown foreign vessel the Swedish Navy searched for near Stockholm last autumn was actually a “workboat,” a senior navy official says. Local media had alleged a hunt was on to try and find a Russian submarine, which was believed to be in the area.

Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad told the Swedish TT news agency on Saturday that what was thought to be a vessel or a foreign submarine was actually just a “workboat.”

READ MORE: Swedish military wants $700mn to hunt subs after autumn ‘chase’

The Swedish Navy changed the wording from “probable submarine” to “non-submarine” when referring to the reconnaissance mission connected to the unidentified vessel spotted in the Stockholm archipelago.

http://rt.com/news/249109-sweden-submarine-hunt-workboat/

The massive hunt was used by the Swedish Defense Ministry to justify a six billion kronor ($696 million) hike in defense spending between 2016 and 2020.

The Least Among Us: The War in the Donbas Is Terrorizing Ukraine’s Most Vulnerable Citizens

The Least Among Us: The War in the Donbas Is Terrorizing Ukraine’s Most Vulnerable Citizens

The Western media have forgotten those who have suffered the most in the Ukrainian civil war—the eastern Ukrainians.
James Carden
April 6, 2015
The Nation Magazine


An apartment that sustained damage from shelling; an 80-year-old woman lives there alone. Oktyabrskaya district, Donetsk (All photos by James Carden)

On a bluff overlooking the Sea of Azov in the southwest corner of Russia—tucked between the city of Rostov-on-Don and the town of Taganrog—sits a series of six unprepossessing buildings on dirt lot roughly the size of an acre. Living in these plain cinderblock dwellings are over fifty school-age children and their mothers, refugees from the war that has been raging in the cities, villages and towns of East Ukraine’s Donbas region for nearly a year. These mothers and children probably do not have very good chances for happy futures; they lack means and they lack opportunity. Their separatist husbands and fathers are still in Donbas fighting against Keiv’s regular army and ultra-nationalist battalions or else have been killed. For many, the homes they once knew have been destroyed and the country they were born into is now very far along the process of disintegrating. Yet. for all that. these refugees in Russia, by the sea, are the lucky ones. They got out.

Many have not. For four days last week (March 24-27) I and a small group of other foreign journalists*, visited the largest city in the Donbas, Donetsk, and several surrounding towns and villages. Today, Donetsk, which had a pre-war population of well over 1 million inhabitants, seems on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. In several shelters in and around Donetsk we saw scores of children—some as young as three days old—and their mothers (and many cases their grandmothers) living in cramped, dirty hovels with limited access to electricity, food and water. The sound of artillery shelling could be heard not far off from the Donetsk airport where fighting between the separatists’ Army of Novorossiya and the Ukrainian forces has sporadically flared up, despite the fact the the second Minsk cease-fire has, for now, largely held in other parts of Donbas.

The cease-fire, which is being actively undermined by Kiev’s refusal to negotiate directly with the rebel government, has, according to several rebel fighters we spoke to, not prevented snipers from taking up positions in abandoned apartments throughout the city. Though the targets of sniper fire have mainly been rebel parliamentarians and members of the burgeoning Donetsk government, the fear they inspire among the non-combatants is real.

Unremarked upon by the American media, eastern Ukraine’s elderly, women and children are living in a city that is effectively under an economic and military blockade by the Western-backed government in Kiev; which has resulted in a very real sense of privation throughout the city. The Poroshenko government, as one of its first moves, cut off all social services and benefits to the citizens of the Donbas; because people are living without medical insurance, hospitals are offering their services for free. Kiev has also cut the area off from the banking system; there is no access to credit or even the most rudimentary banking services. Unsurprisingly, commerce has ground to a standstill; in the city center only small markets selling flowers, crafts and, occasionally, food seem to be doing much business. Medium-sized enterprises, retailers and restaurants, are shuttered, as are, according to one parliamentarian we spoke to, most of the Donbas’s primary large-scale industry: coal and steel enterprises. Only the main Donbas Metallurgical facility is still operating.


Continued:
http://www.thenation.com/article/203553/least-among-us-war-donbas-terrorizing-ukraines-most-vulnerable-citizens

Donbass: ‘The War Has Not Started Yet’ - PEPE ESCOBAR

OP commentary: Our media is fairly quiet at the moment and not reporting much on the region. But there is a general concern building that while things are quiet, there are indications more war is on it's way.


Kiev Wants War
Donbass: ‘The War Has Not Started Yet’
by PEPE ESCOBAR

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/03/donbass-the-war-has-not-started-yet/


Two top Cossack commanders in the People’s Republic of Donetsk and a seasoned Serbian volunteer fighter are adamant: the real war in Donbass has not even started.

It’s a spectacular sunset in the People’s Republic of Donetsk and I’m standing in the Cossack ‘holy land’ – an open field in a horse-breeding farm – talking to Nikolai Korsunov, captain of the Ivan Sirko Cossack Brigade, and Roman Ivlev, founder of the Donbass Berkut Veterans Union group.

Why is this Cossack ‘holy land’? They take no time to remind me of the legendary 17th century Cossack military hero Ivan Sirko, a.k.a. “The Wizard”, credited with extra-sensory powers, who won 55 battles mostly against Poles and Tatars.

Only three kilometers from where we stand a key battle at a crossroads on the ancient Silk Road called Matsapulovska Krinitsa took place, involving 3,000 Cossacks and 15,000 Tatars.

Now, at the dawn of the Chinese-driven 21st century New Silk Road – which will also traverse Russia – here we are discussing the proxy war in Ukraine between the US and Russia whose ultimate objective is to disrupt the New Silk Road.

Commander Korsunov leads one of the 18 Cossack brigades in Makeevka; 240 of his soldiers are now involved in the Ukrainian civil war – some of them freshly returned from the cauldron in Debaltsevo. Some were formerly part of the Ukrainian Army, some worked in the security business. Korsunov and Ivlev insist all their fighters have jobs, even if unpaid – and have joined the Donetsk People’s Republic army as volunteers. “Somehow, they manage to survive.”

What’s so special about Cossack fighters? “It’s historical – we’ve always fought to defend our lands.”Commander Korsunov was a miner, now he’s on a pension – although for obvious reasons he’s receiving nothing from Poroshenko’s Kiev set up; only support from the Berkut group, the Ministry for Youth and Sports of the People’s Republic, and humanitarian food convoys from Russia.

Korsunov and Ivlev are convinced Minsk 2 will not hold; fierce fighting should resume “in a matter of weeks.” According to their best military intelligence, Kiev’s army, after the recent IMF loan, was allocated no less than $3.8 billion for weapons.


Continued:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/03/donbass-the-war-has-not-started-yet/

Some Disturbingly Relevant Legacies of Anticommunism

Some Disturbingly Relevant Legacies of Anticommunism

The impact of Cold War anticommunism on our national life has been so profound that we no longer recognize how much we’ve lost.

Victor Navasky
March 23, 2015 , The Nation Magazine

http://www.thenation.com/article/201177/some-disturbingly-relevant-legacies-anticommunism


In 1956, Jack O’Dell was subpoenaed to appear before Senator James Eastland’s Internal Security Subcommittee, the intersection of the red scare and white supremacy. (AP Images)

More than once, when i’ve been introduced to someone as the former longtime editor of The Nation, that person has asked me: “Did you found the magazine?”

And more than once, I have resisted the temptation to denounce the questioner.

I am old (82 last July), but not that old. However, the truth is that when, in the late 1970s, I had the chance to become The Nation’s editor, I said yes largely because of The Nation’s long and noble history.

Even though I grew up in a home where The Nation (along with The New Republic) arrived weekly, my parents found it hard to understand why I would give up what looked like a promising career at The New York Times (where I worked as an editor on the Sunday magazine).

I had taken a leave from the Times in the early 1970s to write Naming Names, the story of the Hollywood blacklist, which focused on the role of the informer during the so-called phenomenon of McCarthyism. I say “so-called” because the anticommunist hysteria that was its signature began before Senator Joseph McCarthy arrived on the scene and persisted long after he drowned in alcohol. (The historian Ellen Schrecker tells us that knowing what we know now, we should probably call it “Hooverism,” after J. Edgar, who did so much behind and in front of the scenes to promote the anticommunist hysteria.)

In the course of my research, I read through all the magazines and journals of the period, and I came to admire The Nation’s coverage more than any other’s. I also got to read, interview and know The Nation’s editor during those years, the late, great and wise Carey McWilliams, who gave a parade of informed and eloquent writers capacious space to document the paranoia of the period, not least among them the lawyer-historian Frank Donner, who so accurately and definitively reported in 1961:

Continued:

http://www.thenation.com/article/201177/some-disturbingly-relevant-legacies-anticommunism

Free Trade Isn’t about Trade. It’s About Bureaucrats—and Guns.

Free Trade Isn’t about Trade. It’s About Bureaucrats—and Guns.

Free trade agreements like the TPP have provisions that are designed less for trade, and more about replacing public bureaucrats with private, corporate ones.



(Reuters/Larry Downing)

Free trade isn’t about trade. Free trade is about bureaucrats. And guns. Simple stories about how one country is good at making wine, and should trade with another country that is good at making cloth, explain very little about today’s trade agreements. Instead, agreements are about which bureaucrats make decisions about markets that operate between countries. Who has the power to settle international disputes between massive multinational corporations and the states they do business with? This issue, otherwise known as investor-state dispute settlement, is at the heart of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) President Obama is seeking to sign with twelve Asia-Pacific region countries.

Investor-state dispute settlement is a method of private arbitration by which private companies operating in foreign countries can bring lawsuits if that country violates the terms of agreed-upon trade. It’s a core element of modern trade agreements. Senator Elizabeth Warren has warned about these agreements, and economist Joseph Stiglitz has argued that they “most seriously threaten democratic decision-making.” On the other hand, economists David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon H. Hanson recently argued that “this mechanism would protect U.S. firms against predatory regulatory interventions by member governments. “

Let’s dig into an example. In 2011, Australia passed the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011, designed “to discourage the use of tobacco products” by, among other things, requiring cigarette packages to have larger warnings, ugly colors, and no logos or advertisements. This act is clearly a “predatory intervention” against tobacco companies, designed explicitly to reduce their business in Australia by lowering smoking rates. As a result, Philip Morris Asia, a part of the American company Philip Morris International, is using an investor-state dispute settlement to stop enforcement and demand compensation, claiming this is a discriminatory “expropriation.” Instead of just the bureaucrats at the Australian government creating and administering rules for the selling of cigarettes, there’s an additional layer of international bureaucrats—positions created by trade agreements—who can overrule them.

Many people argue that this is corporate welfare, and it is. But it also goes deeper than that. This episode perfectly encapsulates the problem described by David Graeber in his new collection of essays, The Utopia of Rules. He argues that globalization now isn’t about technology leveling distances or speeding trade, but about piling private bureaucracies on top of public ones.


Continued:
http://www.thenation.com/article/202409/free-trade-isnt-about-trade-its-about-bureaucrats-and-guns

The Victory of National Democracy in Ukraine

And the Crushing of the Political Opposition
The Victory of National "Democracy" in Ukraine
by HALYNA MOKRUSHYNA

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/19/the-victory-of-national-democracy-in-ukraine/

What is democracy? It is a political, economic and social arrangement of a territorial unity of people in which the majority rules but minority rights are protected and there is a robust political opposition. How does Ukraine measure up to this standard? Very badly. A failure, I would say. And here is why.

Is there any real political opposition in Ukraine? No. The official opposition party, the Opposition Bloc, which includes deputies from the former Party of Regions, has forty seats in the current Ukrainian parliament out of 422 . In the last election to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament) on October 26, 2014, this party won the majority of votes in five oblasts (regions) of Eastern Ukraine – Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizzhia. It obtained the second largest number of votes in Mykolaiv and Odessa oblasts, and the third largest number in Kherson. The participation in the election in the whole of Southeastern Ukraine reached an all-time low – less than 50 per cent in all of the oblasts. This is a clear indicator of the population’s apathy and mistrust of the current Ukrainian parliament.

In the Verkhovna Rada, the ruling coalition for the first time in the history of independent (post-1991) Ukraine has the largest majority in the Parliament – 303 deputies. The breakdown of the majority is 150 deputies from the Poroshenko Bloc, 82 deputies from the Narodnyi (Peoples) Front of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, 31 deputies of the Samopomich party of Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi, 21 deputies of the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko, and 19 deputies of the Batkivshchyna Party of former Ukraine’s prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The Opposition Bloc is the only official opposition party in the Verkhovna Rada. Deputies of the Bloc have stated on several occasions that they are ignored in the Parliament and their work is blocked. For instance, Vadym Rabynovych said that he has registered 19 bills but none of them has been proposed for examination by the Rada.

Tatiana Bakhteeva has been a Rada deputy since 2002 and has experience working in the opposition as well in the ruling coalition in the Rada. She stated recently that for the first time in the history of the Ukrainian Parliament, there is not a single deputy from the opposition in the executive of the Rada – for instance, the positions of speaker or vice-speaker. Not a single member of the opposition chairs a parliamentary committee, whereas in the previous Parliament under President Victor Yanukovych, 12 out of 26 parliamentary committees were chaired by the opposition. Bakhteeva also says that the first 100 days of work of the Euromaidan parliament have shown it to be the most unprofessional Parliament in the history of independent Ukraine.

Continued:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/19/the-victory-of-national-democracy-in-ukraine/

The New (Deplorable) American Order

The full article is well worth the read:

The New (Deplorable) American Order

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/03/19/new-deplorable-american-order

1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of "We the People"
by Tom Engelhardt
CommonDreams.org



'Don’t for a second think,' writes Engelhardt, 'that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state.'


Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.

Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of "we the people."

Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/03/19/new-deplorable-american-order

Uncle Pentagon: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American War State

Very interesting story from a family deeply committed to "nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear culture".

Uncle Pentagon: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American War State

For the daughter of two radical pacifists, antiwar advocacy runs in the family.
Frida Berrigan
March 10, 2015


Frida Berrigan speaks at an antiwar seminar in Sweden in 2011. (Credit: YouTube)

The Pentagon loomed so large in my childhood that it could have been another member of my family. Maybe a menacing uncle who doled out put-downs and whacks to teach us lessons or a rich, dismissive great-aunt intent on propriety and good manners.

Whatever the case, our holidays were built around visits to the Pentagon’s massive grounds. That’s where we went for Easter, Christmas, even summer vacation (to commemorate the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). When we were little, my brother and sister and I would cry with terror and dread as we first glimpsed the building from the bridge across the Potomac River. To us, it pulsated with malice as if it came with an ominous, beat-driven soundtrack out of Star Wars.

I grew up in Baltimore at Jonah House, a radical Christian community of people committed to nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear culture. It was founded by my parents, Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister. They gained international renown as pacifist peace activists not afraid to damage property or face long prison terms. The Baltimore Four, the Catonsville Nine, the Plowshares Eight, the Griffiss Seven: these were anti–Vietnam War or antinuclear actions they helped plan, took part in and often enough went to jail for. These were also creative conspiracies meant to raise large questions about our personal responsibility for, and the role of conscience in, our world. In addition, they were explorations of how to be effective and nonviolent in opposition to the war state. These actions drew plenty of media attention and crowds of supporters, but in between we always went back to the Pentagon.

As kids, horrific images of war were seared into our brains from old documentaries about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and newer dispatches from Vietnam, and later El Salvador and Guatemala. And all of them seemed traceable to that one place, that imposing five-sided building overlooking the Potomac and surrounded by parking lots and sylvan acres of lawns and paths.

http://www.thenation.com/article/200881/uncle-pentagon-growing-shadow-american-war-state

FAIR: Funny How Russian Propaganda, US Free Press Produce Exact Same Mood Swings

Funny How Russian Propaganda, US Free Press Produce Exact Same Mood Swings
By Jim Naureckas

http://fair.org/blog/2015/03/09/funny-how-russian-propaganda-us-free-press-produce-exact-same-mood-swings/
(Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License)

"Thought the Soviet Union was anti-American?" asks the Washington Post's Michael Birnbaum (3/8/15). "Try today’s Russia."

Birnbaum, the Post's Moscow bureau chief, reports on a new "torrent of anti-Western fury" there:

"After a year in which furious rhetoric has been pumped across Russian airwaves, anger toward the United States is at its worst since opinion polls began tracking it. From ordinary street vendors all the way up to the Kremlin, a wave of anti-US bile has swept the country, surpassing any time since the Stalin era, observers say….

More than 80 percent of Russians now hold negative views of the United States, according to the independent Levada Center, a number that has more than doubled over the past year and that is by far the highest negative rating since the center started tracking those views in 1988."


The "anti-Western anger" has been "fed by the powerful antagonism on Russian federal television channels" since "Putin cranked up the volume after protest movements in late 2011 and 2012, which he blamed on the State Department." A political analyst is quoted:

"What the government knew was that it was very easy to cultivate anti-Western sentiments, and it was easy to consolidate Russian society around this propaganda."


Wow, must be tough living in a totalitarian society like that, where people respond like puppets to government manipulation of the media, huh?

Funny thing, though–the anti-American sentiment in Russia is pretty much a mirror image of anti-Russian sentiment in the United States, which has likewise risen to record heights since polling began roughly 25 years ago. Here's the polling of Russians about the US:



And here's the polling of Americans about Russia, from Gallup (2/16/15):



Note that the spikes in hostility occur precisely together. The Post describes these as a "list of perceived slights from the United States":

The United States and NATO bombed Serbia, a Russian ally, in 1999. Then came the war in Iraq, NATO expansion and the Russia-Georgia conflict. Each time, there were smaller spikes of anti-American sentiment that receded as quickly as they emerged.


But they could just as easily be described as a list of perceived slights by Russia toward the United States. On both sides, the population seems to object about equally to the rival nation using violence against a smaller country and the rival nation failing to endorse one's own nation's use of violence.

Despite the obvious symmetry in US/Russian public opinion, don't expect the Washington Post to run any articles about how a wave of anti-Russian bile following a wave of furious rhetoric being pumped across US airwaves. That would raise an uncomfortable questions about how easy it for a US president to crank up the volume of anti-whomever sentiment–and the role of media outlets like the Post in facilitating such cranking up.

http://fair.org/blog/2015/03/09/funny-how-russian-propaganda-us-free-press-produce-exact-same-mood-swings/

Breedlove's Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

Breedlove's Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

By SPIEGEL Staff


Top NATO commander General Philip Breedlove has raised hackles in Germany with his public statements about the Ukraine crisis.

US President Obama supports Chancellor Merkel's efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. But hawks in Washington seem determined to torpedo Berlin's approach. And NATO's top commander in Europe hasn't been helping either.

It was quiet in eastern Ukraine last Wednesday. Indeed, it was another quiet day in an extended stretch of relative calm. The battles between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists had largely stopped and heavy weaponry was being withdrawn. The Minsk cease-fire wasn't holding perfectly, but it was holding.

On that same day, General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again "upped the ante" in eastern Ukraine -- with "well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery" having been sent to the Donbass. "What is clear," Breedlove said, "is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day."

German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn't understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn't the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove's numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America's NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.


Continued:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/germany-concerned-about-aggressive-nato-stance-on-ukraine-a-1022193.html
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