Normandy Four to Meet in Paris on December 9th; MSM: Americans Lack Interest in Impeachment Circus Because They’re Dumb and Apathetic

French President Macron in Paris/AP Photo/Michael Euler

After successful disengagement of forces in both major areas of the Donbas in recent weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced he will be hosting Normandy Four talks with Germany, Ukraine and Russia on December 9th. According to the AP:

Macron’s office says that the meeting will allow implementation of the Minsk accords, the 2015 agreement sponsored by France and Germany that envisages broad autonomy for the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and an amnesty for the rebels.

A couple of folks in the media have apparently had some criticism thrown their way for acknowledging what everyone has already figured out – that the impeachment hearings last week have been about as stimulating as a shot of Nyquil or a hit of Benadryl. Listening to career National Security State bureaucrats relay Brzezinski’s talking points from the grave on Russia and Ukraine and the provision of a lot of second and third-hand hearsay that would not be permitted in a court of law, it turns out, is rather boring.

But, of course, it’s not enough to be subjected to this snoozefest as we slug rotgut coffee in between two crappy service jobs and wondering how we’re going to pay our medical bills. Now the average American also has to be condescended to by the political class and their media mouthpieces with implications that we’re too thick to understand the finer points of corruption being discussed by our intellectual superiors in Congress. Translation: Us plebes aren’t sufficiently waving our pompoms for impeachment because we’re morons.

In one of her famous daily “radar” rants at The Hill’s morning show, Krystal Ball explains to the whine and cheese crowd that average Americans understand quite a bit – including how the Democratic Party establishment has no moral leg to stand on when it comes to taking on Republican malfeasance because they’re all up to their botox-enhanced foreheads in the muck, parlaying their political positions into money-making enterprises on a regular basis.

Does anyone think that Obama would be making millions of dollars giving speeches to billionaires on Wall Street if he’d tried to govern like FDR? Does anyone imagine that he’s chiding these billionaires that they should temper their greed or “quickly get over” their sense of entitlement so that average Americans could have a fighting chance at a better standard of living and a more peaceful and sustainable world? Of course not. He knows he wouldn’t be invited back for more lucrative speeches if he did. The most he’ll do is ask these billionaires during a mutual admiration society meeting to give him a “thank you” for what he did for them while in office. With unmitigated gall, he reserves his finger-wagging for the little people who are finally making some demands for justice by supporting candidates like Bernie Sanders after decades of de-industrialization, stagnant wages, skyrocketing housing and health care costs, and endless wars that waste money and lives.

Moreover, Ball points out that even some Democrats are admitting in private that these hearings are not moving the needle to get more people to support impeachment and Trump’s removal from office. It’s a foregone conclusion that the Senate will not vote to remove Trump. But 6-8 weeks of a Senate trial will take several Democratic primary candidates – e.g. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – off the campaign trail during a crucial time. If one didn’t know better, it might look like Pelosi and the Dem Party leadership would rather have 4 more years of Trump than a left populist reformer like Sanders as president. And why not? They’d do just fine under a second Trump administration, just like they’re doing fine under the current one, getting to play the role of the loyal opposition for the cameras and laughing all the way to the bank, while not actually doing a damned thing to improve things for the rest of us.

Thank you, Hillary Clinton, for Helping Tulsi Surge; OSCE Confirms Successful Withdrawal of Forces Near DPR in Donbas

As many of you are likely aware, Hillary Clinton made some comments during a podcast interview a few weeks back suggesting that a female Democratic Party primary contender was being “groomed” by the evil Rooskies to run as a third party candidate, presumably to serve as a spoiler and split the vote. Clinton didn’t mention Tulsi Gabbard by name, but it was easy to figure out who she meant and all subsequent media coverage of Clinton’s comments ran with the assumption that it was Gabbard. Gabbard responded on Twitter with sharp criticism of Clinton’s record of “war-mongering” and dirty political tricks.

The controversy has helped put Gabbard on the media map as many have been sympathetic to Gabbard being targeted in such a defamatory way by the deeply disliked diva of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Earlier this week, lawyers for Gabbard’s campaign sent a letter to Hillary Clinton’s legal team demanding that Clinton publicly retract her baseless accusations against Gabbard, with the implied risk a defamation suit. It is unlikely that Gabbard would actually win such a suit given the fact that she is a public figure and the criteria for winning such a suit is more difficult to meet than for a person who is not in the public eye. But this keeps the controversy front and center for a bit longer.

And why not? The controversy – which Gabbard has expertly parlayed to her advantage by contrasting herself with the hated Hillary – has created a surge in support for Gabbard as reflected in a newly released poll showing Gabbard at 6% in New Hampshire – ahead of Andrew Yang and Kamala Harris who continues her death spiral in popularity. Gabbard has met the criteria for the debate coming up later this month and is on the cusp of qualifying for the December debate as well. This gives her more opportunities to make her case to the American public and to perhaps land a karate chop to another establishment/corporate toady candidate. Pete Buttigieg or Amy Krowbarjaw are on my wish list. Below is Rising‘s Krystal Ball giving a summary of Tulsi’s surge and how she might actually satisfy the search for that highly sought after, but elusive “most electable” candidate against Trump.

So, it would appear that Hillary’s strategy of trying to torpedo Gabbard’s candidacy has backfired in typical Wiley Coyote fashion. In fact, Clinton has a history of bad strategic moves that have come back to bite her hard in the butt (Pied Piper, anyone?). But she seems unable to learn from her failures. Rather than keeping her pie-hole shut for a while after this, she has continued on by either implying publicly that she knows who the Democratic nominee is likely to be or that it might even be her since she hasn’t ruled out running again.

From my perspective, Hillary Clinton has shown since her loss in 2016 that she has serious mental health issues as manifested by the obsession with her loss and refusing to take any responsibility for it, instead blaming it on a laundry list of excuses: sexism, James Comey, the Russians, the man in the moon. She is now doing psyops on the American public in a desperate attempt to stay relevant. This is the same woman who thought she had it so in the bag in 2016 that she could offer the American electorate nothing substantive, insult half of them as “deplorables,” and not bother campaigning in rust belt states that were important in terms of the electoral college. She also practically anointed Kamala Harris as her successor at the outset of the primary campaign by handing over her foreign policy and other contacts to her. How’s that judgment call working for you, Hillary? Why anyone would give Hillary’s opinions and prognostications – much less her chances of success in another presidential run – any credibility at this point is beyond me. The country would be better off ignoring her.

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On November 13th, the OSCE reported the following developments in the Donbas:

On 12 November, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) received a letter from the armed formations in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk region, notifying that they had completed the withdrawal of forces and hardware in the agreed disengagement area near Petrivske.

On 13 November, the SMM received two Notes Verbales from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, one notifying that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had completed the withdrawal of forces and hardware in the agreed disengagement area near Petrivske….

…The second Note Verbale from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the above-mentioned letter from the armed formations also contained notifications of readiness to begin the removal of fortifications and other installations of military value from the disengagement area, together with baseline information and geographical co-ordinates of these fortifications, and other installations of military value.
These notifications were provided to the SMM in accordance with a timeline, endorsed by the Trilateral Contact Group on 1 October 2019, regulating activities in the disengagement areas concerning the withdrawal of forces and hardware, the removal of fortifications and demining.


The second Note Verbale and the letter also notified that the removal of fortifications and other installations of military value would begin in line with the agreed timeline.

Putin’s Remarks on Climate Change as Effects are Increasingly Seen in Russia and Youths Express Concern

Although it’s been very slow to emerge, there is increasing concern expressed in Russia about the environment, from pollution related to industry and unregulated landfills to climate change. The Russian government has finally been forced to recognize the problem – at least in terms of rhetoric, with 2017 having been officially declared “The Year of the Environment in Russia.”

This past September, Russia – the fourth biggest emitter of carbon in the world – finally ratified the Paris Climate Accord. However, Russia could remain within its commitments to the accord by increasing its current emissions because of the major drop that came after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. There has been talk for several years that Putin even supports the formation of a Green Party, though some wonder if it would just be another small rather ineffectual party with a green “flavor.”

Over the past year, Russia has experienced major storms, floods and wildfires on an unprecedented scale – of which the aftermath prompted a personal visit by Putin in which he scolded the poor emergency response by local officials. But there is much more damage happening that hasn’t received such a dramatic treatment by the media. A recent article from Asia Times reports:

The Kremlin has now been forced to acknowledge that Russia is being hit hardest by climate change. According to state agency Rosgydromet, global warming is taking place 2.5 times faster in Russia than on average in the rest of the world, because of its geographical position.

Some effects of climate change became evident this summer, when surging wildfires devastated millions of hectares of Siberian taiga and floods ravaged the Irkutsk region.

But these are minor developments compared to a far, far greater peril.

If temperatures continue rising, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia’s permanently frozen landmass – a vast geographic region which makes up 60% of the country’s territory.

Melting of permafrost poses threats to “the structural stability and functional capacities” of key infrastructure, as pointed out in a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

According to separate estimates by the Russian Academy of Science, at current rates, the area covered by permafrost will shrink by a staggering 25% by 2080. That shrinkage threatens $250 billion worth of physical infrastructure, including energy pipelines, transportation networks and residences.

Additional reporting by Moscow correspondent Fred Weir for CSM revealed more concerns:

Arctic ice, receding at a record pace, revealed five new islands in the Russian far north this year that had been hidden under the ice sheets for all of recorded human history.

Russian scientists aboard a research ship near the northern coast of Siberia last week were amazed to discover a massive eruption of methane bubbles from the ocean floor. The huge clouds of the super-greenhouse gas suggest that the underlying permafrost is melting faster than anyone could have anticipated.

This all begs the question of whether any short-term benefits that Russia might gain from more comfortable temperatures in populated areas or the opening up of formerly unreachable resources might be seriously outweighed by the longer-term liabilities.

According to polls administered by the Russian government, over half of Russians think environmental problems are worsening and two-thirds don’t think the government is doing enough about it. More importantly, a recent Russian poll to ascertain the attitude of youths (aged 10 – 18, living in 52 Russian regions) toward several issues, showed that almost half were concerned about the environment and 90 percent thought that updated laws were needed to better protect the environment.

With this context in mind, I will share comments that Putin made at the recent Valdai conference with respect to climate change in response to a question about Russia’s ratification of the Paris accord and how to resolve the conflict between protection of the environment and economic imperatives:

Vladimir Putin: As for the uniformity of approaches and evaluations, we will probably never reach this. Indeed, experts in various fields who somehow try to answer the question about the causes of climate change do not give unambiguous answers to the causes of climate change.

There are different opinions, I have heard them. Some say there is some global change in space that affects the Earth, so from time to time huge changes like this take place on our planet. I sailed along the Lena River in our country and saw high banks with deposits containing the remains of obviously ancient tropical mammals, which lived in tropical seas. I am talking about the Lena River, its stretch north of the Arctic Circle. It means back then the climate there was like this. Well, were there any anthropogenic emissions at the time? Of course, not. You see, there is no answer.

Just the same, my position is that if the human race is responsible for climate change, even in the slightest degree, and this climate change has grave implications, and if we can do something to, at least, slow down this process and avoid its negative consequences, we must spare no effort. This is our position. Despite all disagreements, we will support the international efforts to combat climate change.

Indeed, we have practically ratified the Paris Agreement and are committed to implementing it. You said we hesitated or argued about it. There will always be room for doubt or disputes. But look at the obligations that we undertook and those undertaken by our partners. We are committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 70 or 75 percent by 2050.

By the way, the European Union has undertaken to cut the same type of gas emissions by 60 percent. We have approved a national environmental programme. It sets forth in detail what we must do and how we must do it complete with the deadlines. We have approved 12 federal programmes under the national project to work to change the situation regarding the environment. Gas emissions in 12 of the largest metropolises in our country, where they affect people’s lives and have a negative impact on the environment, must be reduced by 20 percent.

We have adopted a programme to deal with waste dumps – not only with primitive rubbish dumps but with hazardous waste as well. We have adopted a programme to extend protected nature areas by five million square kilometres. We have a whole set of measures that we are not just intending to carry out but we have already started to implement and they have already been made law in our country. So, we are determined to move, together with our partners, along this path that is laid down in the Paris Agreement.

As for the hydrocarbons, I think it was yesterday that I said the structure of the Russian energy sector is one of the world’s greenest. The nuclear power and hydropower industries in our country account for a third of the energy sector and gas accounts for 50 percent of the remaining two-thirds.

We have one of the greenest energy sectors in the world plus the capacity of our forests to absorb [waste carbon dioxide]. So, we understand the threats that everyone, including us, are exposed to. The warming rate in Russia exceeds that in the rest of the world by 2.5 percent. We are aware of this.

And one more thing: there are forests ablaze in one part of our country while close to it there is flooding and there is also drought and so on. We are well aware of this and we will do, jointly with the whole world, with the humankind, whatever it takes to preserve nature and the environment.

Withdrawal of Forces Completed Successfully at First Location in Donbas; Lavrov Says No Military Alliance with China is Forthcoming; Russian Government Says Time is Running Out to Renew START Treaty; Putin: NATO is Washington’s Foreign Policy “Tool”

The OSCE reported over the weekend that both the Kiev forces and the Donbas rebels have successfully completed the withdrawal of troops and weaponry from the line of contact at Zolote, near the LPR.

On 1 November, the SMM received a letter from the armed formations in non-government-controlled areas of Luhansk region, notifying that they had completed the withdrawal of forces and hardware in the agreed disengagement area near Zolote.

On 2 November, the SMM received two Notes Verbales from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, notifying that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had completed the withdrawal of forces and hardware in the agreed disengagement area near Zolote.

Withdrawal of forces near the DPR in Petrovskoye are scheduled to begin today.

As analyst Tom Luongo has written, with the last approval permit having finally been granted by Denmark for Nordstream 2 to proceed, if significant progress can be made toward resolving the Donbas war, then a detente between Russia and Europe is likely to follow. This would mean a relaxation or even rescinding of the sanctions.

I agree with this assessment and believe that Washington is likely to find itself isolated within the next couple of years if it persists with its anti-Russia hysteria. If Jeremy Corbyn were to become Prime Minister of Britain, there is also a chance for decreased hostility from the UK, which will leave only Poland and the Baltic states as out-of-tune players in the “we can’t get beyond our animus toward Russia” band.

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In an interview last week with a Russian TV news channel, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that, while Russian-Chinese relations are the best they’ve ever been, neither country is contemplating the establishment of a formal military alliance.

It appears that the Russian government is prepared for Washington to not renew the New START Treaty, which expires in February of 2021. Since there is no active diplomatic work being done on behalf of a possible extension, it would be difficult to get the necessary logistics done in order to extend the treaty before the deadline. Antiwar.com reports:

An expected replacement treaty would be what everyone was hoping for, but with no work active on it, there is no real chance of getting everything done, and indeed no sign that things will even start, with the US showing little interest in arms limitation talks.

Though Russian Foreign Ministry office’s Vladimir Leontyev says it might be possible to rush through a blanket extension of New START under existing terms, even that would take at least six months to implement, and is made even more complicated by President Trump wanting China to also be limited by any new deal.

In a recent interview conducted jointly by Al Arabiya, Sky News, and RT Arabic, Putin answered a question about how Russia will respond to NATO’s continual march toward Russia’s borders. Watch the 3 minute exchange below.