Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Young Guards museum in LPR



We spent a good part of today in the city of Krasnodon which is in the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR).  About 100 members of the Teachers Union have been meeting over the past two days and our small foreigners delegation (hosted by Labor leader Andrey Kochetov) was invited to join them for a moving tour of the Young Guards Museum in Krasnodon.

The two buses carrying us all from Lugansk to Krasnodon (about an hour drive) first stopped at a memorial of victims following the 2014 US directed coup d'etat in Kiev.  A hill top memorial listing more than 200 names of young and old from the Krasnodon area has been established to remember those who were killed in 2014-2015 by Nazi death squads (and the Ukrainian regular Army) that attacked the region.  We were given flowers to place at the site and each were asked to ring a large bell in their memory.


The self-defense forces in the LPR eventually drove the Nazis and regular Army out of the Krasnodon area.  But today the attacks on the Donbass region continue along the 'contact line' where the US-backed Ukrainian forces continue shell various villages inside the LPR and Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) controlled territories near the Russian eastern border.

We heard from one man who told the story that during the 2014-2015 period long lines of refugees flooded the one road leading into Russia trying to escape the attacking fascist forces that worship the memory of the WW II western-Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.

The Russian government set up camps just inside their border and provided food and medical care for the fleeing people.  Some have stayed in Russia and others returned to the LPR once the Nazis were pushed out of the area.

At the museum in Krasnodon we were first taken to see a huge stone monument that covers a former coal mining hole where Nazis in 1943 threw 71 bodies of 'Young Guards' (ages 14-22) who had been leading resistance to the German occupation of Krasnodon that began in July of 1942.  Some had been tortured and beaten to death while others were thrown into the 23 meters deep mine pit alive.


The Young Guards became legendary in the former Soviet Union for their dedicated and courageous resistance actions against the Germans.  During their time, before being killed, the Young Guards did some of the following:

  • Hung red flags around the city in defiance of the Nazi occupiers
  • Burned down the Labor Exchange building that had lists of local workers.  The Germans wanted to round the workers up and send them to Germany as slaves. Many lives were saved by this action
  • Nazi's tried to reopen a coal mine but the Young Guards sabotaged the effort
  • The Young Guards freed 70 prisoners
  • Printed and distributed more than 5,000 flyers communicating with the local people
In all there were about 80 Young Guards.  They were ultimately betrayed by someone which led to their roundup - only eight of their group survived.  The Nazi extermination of the Young Guards happened just two weeks before the Soviet Army liberated Krasnodon from German control.

After a group lunch at a local restaurant we returned to the the museum auditorium for a program.  One speaker reminded the assembled, "We have to preserve our history in order to survive."

Throughout the program the word 'fascism' was repeatedly used by various speakers.  After all, people living in the LPR and DPR have historic memory of the fight against the Nazis during WW II and since 2014 they again have been facing the Nazi death squads - facilitated by the US-NATO war machine.


Another speaker in the program said, "In an information war like at the present, the goal is to destroy the spirit, so we have to defend it."

During the intense period of 2014-2015, when today's Nazis attacked Krasnodon, they repeatedly tried to destroy the Young Guards museum and memorial statue.  Just outside the museum is also a grave site where the bodies of those found inside the deep mine pit were buried.  Some of the mothers of these young people requested to be buried there as well.  So when the attempts to attack the museum were recently happening the Nazis also tried to destroy the burial memorial.  Luckily local people were able to successfully protect the museum and surrounding shrines.


Unexpectedly in today's program at the museum the three guests from the US and Ireland were also invited to speak to the assembled teachers.  When it was my turn I said that I was angry at my own government for its role in creating the present Ukrainian civil war and promised that when I returned home I would continue to share what I have learned with my fellow citizens as well as friends in other nations.

Most people know little to nothing about what is going on in the Donbass today.  What little some might know is filtered through western propaganda that maintains the people of LPR and DPR are 'separatists' being aided by an invading Russian military.  Since arriving here I've seen no military of any kind but that might change as we move closer to the 'line of contact' in coming days.

I did see one man in jungle fatigues today limping down a street in Krasnodon and Andrey said to me, "There are many such wounded here in the LPR."

Bruce

John Pilger on Assange



On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to legendary journalist and filmmaker John Pilger on Julian Assange’s latest extradition hearing this Monday, which he attended. He discusses how Julian appeared at the trial, the bias of the judge against Julian Assange, the lack of mainstream media coverage of Julian’s persecution, his health and conditions in Belmarsh prison, CIA spying on Julian Assange and more!

Next, we speak to Chris Williamson MP on Assange’s extradition hearing, his motion in the House of Commons to condemn Julian Assange’s treatment, why Julian’s persecution is of international importance, the silence of mainstream media on Julian Assange, the lack of vocal outrage from Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour front bench over Assange’s treatment and more!

Finally, Going Underground’s Deputy Editor Charlie Cooke discusses Boris Johnson’s plan to introduce mandatory voter ID at elections, which many accuse him of being a plot to suppress minority voters.

The money-go-round


Friday, October 25, 2019

Arrival in Lugansk

Civilian targets (like this apartment block) have continually been shelled in the Donbass region by the US-NATO backed puppet regime in Kiev. More than 10,000 have died since 2014 when these attacks on the residents of Donbass began.  Their crime?  They are ethnic Russians and those in traditionally right-wing western Ukraine like to kill Russians.

I spent last night in Rostov, Russia after a 24-hour train ride from Moscow to that city.  My guide Leonid has a friend whose father lives in Rostov so we stayed at his home. Vladimir cooked a great dinner for us and then entertained us on his accordion and sang many Cossack songs.  He is a short but well built man who is four years younger than me.  This morning at breakfast he challenged me to an arm wrestling contest and cleaned my clock twice.

Our host in the Donbass is a labor union leader by the name of Andrey and he picked Leonid and I up this morning about 10:30 am in Rostov and then we went to the airport to pick up a man who has come from Ireland to join our small delegation for the next five days.  We made the drive to the Russia-Lugansk border where it took me an hour to pass thru Russian immigration (they had lots of questions for me on a form that had to be filled out) and then similarly it took almost another hour to pass thru Lugansk immigration.  Because it is an active war zone they are very security conscious.

When we arrived in Lugansk at our hotel we were immediately taken to a dinner being sponsored by the Teachers Trade Union and many toasts were made as introductions were done.  The food was excellent and the spirit of the people quite soul full.  They are particularly grateful that people had come from so far away to stand in solidarity with them.

I don't know many of the details of our schedule yet but we leave the hotel early in the morning at 8:30 am for likely a full day of activities.  In a couple of days from now we have been invited to speak at conferences being held in Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics.

I'll do my best to keep the blog posts coming during this period but not sure how much time I will have.  I do know that there is a curfew from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am every day so I doubt we will be having many nights out on the town.

At this point it appears that the war is a stalemate.  The new Ukraine President Zelensky talks about peace but allows the shelling of civilians in the Donbass to continue.  Germany, Italy and France have been pressuring Kiev to back off the war and settle for peace with the Donbass.  The US has in the past not wanted that to happen and has pushed Ukraine to keep the war going.  It is not really clear what Trump's position is on the war - as most other issues he is hard to figure out.

Bruce 

Haiti rising



Five weeks of uninterrupted protests to topple U.S. puppet President Moïse and the heroic people of Haiti have lost 0 energy.

Let's remember that the people of Saint Domingue (Haiti) were the first in the hemisphere to shatter the system of slavery and drive out the European colonizers during the 1790s Haitian Revolution.

Haiti's future remains in the people's hands, it's all a question of time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Preparing for trip to Donbass war zone


I am staying at a tourist hotel on the north side of Moscow.  It appears that mostly Russian tourists are staying in one of the seven red brick five story Soviet-era buildings that surround this garden.  This is unusual because these days there are lots of Chinese tourists in this city.  Music is piped into the center of the garden - mostly jazz and blues is what I've heard when walking through the courtyard.

Like all hotels in this country a buffet breakfast comes with the room price which is under $50 per night.  A good deal.

I've been here four nights and my luggage finally arrived two nights ago - at 1:15 am when a hotel staffer kindly delivered it to my door.

Yexterday I took the Metro to Red Square and then walked about three hours heading north toward my hotel. Got pretty close but needed to grab a cab the rest of the way back to hotel as my new knee was getting sore.  

Today GN Advisory Board member Leonid Ilderkin and I will take the overnight train to the Donbass where I am scheduled to speak in the Lugansk and Donetsk people's republics which were established in 2014 after the coup d'etat in Ukraine's capital city Kiev.  During that time the US (led by V-P Joe Biden) installed a puppet government and as we've heard in the news the V-P got his son appointed to the board of a fossil fuel corporation at $50,000 a month.  That's not bad for a guy (Hunter Biden) who knew nothing about Ukraine or the gas business.  You can read a very thorough article on this entire sordid story by Max Blumenthal here.

Following the 2014 coup in Kiev the new illegal government (that deposed a duly elected government) began shelling Ukrainian citizens living in the Donbass (eastern part of the country near the Russian border).  The residents of Donbass are ethnic Russians, have a common history, traditions and language. Since the days of the USSR, Donbass has been closely economically connected with Russia.

Western media and politicians call the people in Lugansk and Donetsk republics 'separatists'. In 2014, after the newly installed post-coup government was in place, the first thing that was done was to ban the speaking of Russian in all of Ukraine - which is quite insane.




The people in the Donbass began peacefully marching and signing petitions calling for a 'federated' Ukraine where they could decide which language they wished to speak and to hold back some portion of their taxes for development as they knew Kiev would try to starve their local economy.  

Kiev's answer to these peaceful protests?  The Ukrainian Army and neo-Nazi death squads began attacking the people and to date more than 10,000 have been killed in the process.  Soon after this began coal miners came out of the mines along with other citizens to form self-defense forces to protect their homes and families.  This was the time that the west began calling them 'separatists'.  Frankly, after five years of non-stop attacks, the people in the Donbass have decided that they in fact do want go their own way - linking to Russia would insure safety and stability for them.

Moscow has been frequently criticized by supporters of the people in the Donbass for not being more aggressive in defending them.  The western media claims that Russia has invaded the Donbass but in fact I've not seen the slightest evidence of that claim during these past five years that I've been following this story.  I'll get a much closer look at the scene in coming days but don't expect to see Russian troops and tanks in the Donbass. 

In 2016 I went to Odessa, Ukraine on May 2 to stand with the Mothers Council whose sons and daughters had been massacred by the Nazi death squads when the people were peacefully gathering signatures for a referendum demanding local autonomy.  Regis Tremblay filmed a video of me telling the story that you can see here.


The recently elected new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (a TV actor) won overwhelmingly because the public is tired of the war and want their economy to be restored. During the campaign he inferred that he was the candidate of 'hope and change'.  We've heard that one before.

Because the US-NATO 2014 coup was in large part to reorient the economy of Ukraine to Europe, and not Russia, the normal trading relationship with their next door neighbor was severed and they have essentially become a failed state.  See more on this story here.

Zelensky has refused to honor the Minsk Agreement that declared that Kiev must pull back their military forces from the 'line of contact' in the Donbass and negotiate a federated state plan that would lead to peace.  Instead Zelensky watches as the Nazi death squads continue to attack the Donbass and he demands that the Lugansk and Donetsk republics unconditionally surrender which they will never do.

Thus the war continues with support from the US, during both the Obama and Trump administrations.  A key goal of the US-NATO operation in Donbass is to create endless instability along the Russian border and have it bleed into Russia forcing 'regime change' even in Moscow.  See evidence of US training the Ukrainian military forces here.

Upon arrival in the Donbass I will be looking for signs of any movement toward peace and will also be seeking to learn more from leaders of the new republics about how they see their future at this most difficult moment.

Bruce

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The killing of Julian Assange



Assange Displayed Signs of Torture in Courtroom Farce

By Craig Murray

I was deeply shaken while witnessing yesterday’s events in Westminster Magistrates Court [London]. Every decision was railroaded through over the scarcely heard arguments and objections of Assange’s legal team, by a magistrate who barely pretended to be listening.

Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of the proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought.

Until yesterday I had always been quietly skeptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture – even of Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture – and skeptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments. But having attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that yesterday changed my mind entirely and Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness.

Will He Survive?

I had been even more skeptical of those who claimed, as a senior member of his legal team did to me on Sunday night, that they were worried that Julian might not live to the end of the extradition process. I now find myself not only believing it, but haunted by the thought. Everybody in that court yesterday saw that one of the greatest journalists and most important dissidents of our times is being tortured to death by the state, before our eyes. To see my friend, the most articulate man, the fastest thinker, I have ever known, reduced to that shambling and incoherent wreck, was unbearable.


Yet the agents of the state, particularly the callous magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, were not just prepared but eager to be a part of this blood sport. She actually told him that if he were incapable of following proceedings, then his lawyers could explain what had happened to him later. The question of why a man who, by the very charges against him, was acknowledged to be highly intelligent and competent, had been reduced by the state to somebody incapable of following court proceedings, gave her not a millisecond of concern.

The charge against Julian is very specific; conspiring with Chelsea Manning to publish the “Iraq War Logs,” the “Afghan War Logs” and the U.S. State Department cables. The charges are nothing to do with Sweden, nothing to do with sex, and nothing to do with the 2016 U.S. election; a simple clarification the mainstream media appears incapable of understanding.

The purpose of yesterday’s hearing was case management; to determine the timetable for the extradition proceedings. The key points at issue were that Julian’s defense was requesting more time to prepare their evidence; and arguing that political offences were specifically excluded from the extradition treaty. There should, they argued, therefore be a preliminary hearing to determine whether the extradition treaty applied at all.

The reasons given by Assange’s defense team for more time to prepare were both compelling and startling. They had very limited access to their client in jail and had not been permitted to hand him any documents about the case until one week ago. He had also only just been given limited computer access, and all his relevant records and materials had been seized from the Ecuadorean embassy by the U.S. government; he had no access to his own materials for the purpose of preparing his defense.

CIA-Ordered Spying

Furthermore, the defense argued, they were in touch with the Spanish courts about a very important and relevant legal case in Madrid which would provide vital evidence. It showed that the CIA had been directly ordering spying on Julian in the embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide security there. Crucially this included spying on privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers discussing his defense against these extradition proceedings, which had been in train in the USA since 2010. In any normal process, that fact would in itself be sufficient to have the extradition proceedings dismissed. Incidentally I learnt on Sunday that the Spanish material produced in court, which had been commissioned by the CIA, specifically includes high-resolution video coverage of Julian and me discussing various matters.

The evidence to the Spanish court also included a CIA plot to kidnap Assange, which went to the U.S. authorities’ attitude to lawfulness in his case and the treatment he might expect in the United States. Julian’s team explained that the Spanish legal process was happening now and the evidence from it would be extremely important, but it might not be finished and thus the evidence not fully validated and available in time for the current proposed timetable for the Assange extradition hearings.

For the prosecution, James Lewis QC stated that the government strongly opposed any delay being given for the defense to prepare, and strongly opposed any separate consideration of the question of whether the charge was a political offense excluded by the extradition treaty. Baraitser took her cue from Lewis and stated categorically that the date for the extradition hearing, Feb. 25, could not be changed. She was open to changes in dates for submission of evidence and responses before this, and called a 10-minute recess for the prosecution and defense to agree these steps.

US Runs the Show

What happened next was very instructive. There were five representatives of the U.S. government present (initially three, and two more arrived in the course of the hearing), seated at desks behind the lawyers in court. The prosecution lawyers immediately went into huddle with the U.S. representatives, then went outside the courtroom with them, to decide how to respond on the dates.


After the recess the defense team stated they could not, in their professional opinion, adequately prepare if the hearing date were kept to February, but within Baraitser’s instruction to do so they nevertheless outlined a proposed timetable on delivery of evidence. In responding to this, Lewis’s junior counsel scurried to the back of the court to consult the Americans again while Lewis actually told the judge he was “taking instructions from those behind.” It is important to note that as he said this, it was not the U.K. Attorney-General’s office who were being consulted but the U.S. embassy. Lewis received his American instructions and agreed that the defense might have two months to prepare their evidence (they had said they needed an absolute minimum of three) but the February hearing date may not be moved. Baraitser gave a ruling agreeing everything Lewis had said.

At this stage it was unclear why we were sitting through this farce. The U.S. government was dictating its instructions to Lewis, who was relaying those instructions to Baraitser, who was ruling them as her legal decision. The charade might as well have been cut and the U.S. government simply sat on the bench to control the whole process. Nobody could sit there and believe they were in any part of a genuine legal process or that Baraitser was giving a moment’s consideration to the arguments of the defense. Her facial expressions on the few occasions she looked at the defense ranged from contempt through boredom to sarcasm. When she looked at Lewis she was attentive, open and warm.

Washington’s Timetable

The extradition is plainly being rushed through in accordance with a Washington dictated timetable. Apart from a desire to pre-empt the Spanish court providing evidence on CIA activity in sabotaging the defense, what makes the February date so important to the USA? I would welcome any thoughts.

Baraitser dismissed the defense’s request for a separate prior hearing to consider whether the extradition treaty applied at all, without bothering to give any reason why (possibly she had not properly memorized what Lewis had been instructing her to agree with).

On the face of it, what Assange is accused of is the very definition of a political offense – if this is not, then what is? It is not covered by any of the exceptions from that listed. There is every reason to consider whether this charge is excluded by the extradition treaty, and to do so before the long and very costly process of considering all the evidence should the treaty apply. But Baraitser simply dismissed the argument out of hand.

Just in case anybody was left in any doubt as to what was happening here, Lewis then stood up and suggested that the defense should not be allowed to waste the court’s time with a lot of arguments. All arguments for the substantive hearing should be given in writing in advance and a “guillotine should be applied” (his exact words) to arguments and witnesses in court, perhaps of five hours for the defense. The defense had suggested they would need more than the scheduled five days to present their case. Lewis countered that the entire hearing should be over in two days. Baraitser said this was not procedurally the correct moment to agree this but she will consider it once she had received the evidence bundles.

(SPOILER: Baraitser is going to do as Lewis instructs and cut the substantive hearing short).

Baraitser then capped it all by saying the February hearing will be held, not at the comparatively open and accessible Westminster Magistrates Court where we were, but at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, the grim high security facility used for preliminary legal processing of terrorists, attached to the maximum security prison where Assange is being held. There are only six seats for the public in even the largest court at Belmarsh, and the object is plainly to evade public scrutiny and make sure that Baraitser is not exposed in public again to a genuine account of her proceedings, like this one you are reading. I will probably be unable to get in to the substantive hearing at Belmarsh.

Plainly the authorities were disconcerted by the hundreds of good people who had turned up to support Julian. They hope that far fewer will get to the much less accessible Belmarsh. I am fairly certain (and recall I had a long career as a diplomat) that the two extra American government officials who arrived halfway through proceedings were armed security personnel, brought in because of alarm at the number of protestors around a hearing in which were present senior US officials. The move to Belmarsh may be an American initiative.

Assange’s defense team objected strenuously to the move to Belmarsh, in particular on the grounds that there are no conference rooms available there to consult their client and they have very inadequate access to him in the jail. Baraitser dismissed their objection offhand and with a very definite smirk.

Finally, Baraitser turned to Julian and ordered him to stand, and asked him if he had understood the proceedings. He replied in the negative, said that he could not think, and gave every appearance of disorientation. Then he seemed to find an inner strength, drew himself up a little, and said:

    “I do not understand how this process is equitable. This superpower had 10 years to prepare for this case and I can’t even access my writings. It is very difficult, where I am, to do anything. These people have unlimited resources.”

The effort then seemed to become too much, his voice dropped and he became increasingly confused and incoherent. He spoke of whistleblowers and publishers being labeled enemies of the people, then spoke about his children’s DNA being stolen and of being spied on in his meetings with his psychologist. I am not suggesting at all that Julian was wrong about these points, but he could not properly frame nor articulate them. He was plainly not himself, very ill and it was just horribly painful to watch. Baraitser showed neither sympathy nor the least concern. She tartly observed that if he could not understand what had happened, his lawyers could explain it to him, and she swept out of court.


The whole experience was profoundly upsetting. It was very plain that there was no genuine process of legal consideration happening here. What we had was a naked demonstration of the power of the state, and a naked dictation of proceedings by the Americans. Julian was in a box behind bulletproof glass, and I and the thirty odd other members of the public who had squeezed in were in a different box behind more bulletproof glass. I do not know if he could see me or his other friends in the court, or if he was capable of recognizing anybody. He gave no indication that he did.

In Belmarsh he is kept in complete isolation for 23 hours a day. He is permitted 45 minutes exercise. If he has to be moved, they clear the corridors before he walks down them and they lock all cell doors to ensure he has no contact with any other prisoner outside the short and strictly supervised exercise period. There is no possible justification for this inhuman regime, used on major terrorists, being imposed on a publisher who is a remand prisoner.

I have been both cataloguing and protesting for years the increasingly authoritarian powers of the U.K. state, but that the most gross abuse could be so open and undisguised is still a shock. The campaign of demonization and dehumanization against Julian, based on government and media lie after government and media lie, has led to a situation where he can be slowly killed in public sight, and arraigned on a charge of publishing the truth about government wrongdoing, while receiving no assistance from “liberal” society.

Unless Julian is released shortly he will be destroyed. If the state can do this, then who is next?

~ Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.  His web site is https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

Corporate funded sleaze network



Hillary Clinton has smeared Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Jill Stein (Green Party) as Russian assets, and almost no Democratic politicians are pushing back.

Max Blumenthal says that Clinton's comments reflect a continued effort by Democratic neo-liberals to deflect responsibility for their loss to Trump in 2016; marginalize voices like Gabbard and Stein's who challenge their pro-war, corporatist agenda; and preview their potential future attacks on Bernie Sanders.

Also check out this excellent Rolling Stone article on this same subject here

Monday, October 21, 2019

Speaking truth in Kiev occupied Donbass



Ukrainian journalists came to the frontline zone in Donbass in the hope of making a provocative video, where they talked with the local population. Traditionally, they did not hear anything pleasant concerning the Kiev authorities.

The cunning Ukrainian “Channel 5” news channel, known for distorting the facts about the events in Donbass (eastern part of the country near the Russian border), carefully cut from its interview with people from Zolotoye-4, which is under the control of the US-NATO puppet government in Ukraine, important information from one of the residents of the village, during the preparation for the disengagement of troops.

Here is the unedited version of the interviews.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Taxi ride into Moscow


It was a long and tiring journey from Nepal to Moscow.  Unfortunately, I first had to fly from Kathmandu to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).  From there I had to board another plane to Rome and then Moscow.  But my flight in Abu Dhabi (which was supposed to leave at 2:15 am) was delayed by several hours and my arrival in Rome was just 30 minutes before my flight to Moscow.

I ran like hell (but first had to go through security, lucky for me there was no line) and I made it to my gate for the Moscow flight with 10 minutes to spare.  I arrived on schedule in Moscow, but my checked luggage did not, fortunately I had carried my toothbrush in my computer bag.

My friend Leonid Ilderkin (who was one of our guides last spring during our Russia Study Tour) met me at the airport and hired a taxi cab to take me to my hotel in Moscow.  Leonid, originally from Ukraine, had to leave his country in 2014 following the US orchestrated coup d'etat that installed a government brimming with Nazis.  Leonid is now a leader in the group called Union of Ukrainian Refugees and Political Prisoners and will take me on the night train to the Donbass war zone region of Ukraine on October 23.

Our taxi driver spoke much of the way from the airport to Moscow with Leonid doing the translation.  He had many questions for me such as, "Will Trump be reelected?".  I was repeatedly asked the same question during my visits to India and Nepal.  My answer was, "Who knows?" 

The cabbie also spent alot of time describing to me how the CIA runs the US government and nothing happens in American foreign policy that has not been planned.  I replied that while I believe that is basically true (since the CIA directed assassination of JFK no one becomes president that the 'deep state' does not control) I do think that there is a war for control currently going on within the 'deep state'.  Sort of like a Mafia-style battle for turf dominance.

[Sidebar: While in India attending the Space Law conference, American University History Professor Peter Kuznick told me that Oliver Stone is now working on a new documentary updating his famous JFK assassination movie.]

In the US we have ruling regional oligarchs - Boston, New York, Washington, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle etc - that compete for power.  They basically agree on US foreign and economic empire but battle with each other as to which of them will do a 'better job' running this collapsing imperial project.  (And of course they are also competing with each other for the spoils of empire.) This is what I see happening today in Washington - competing oligarchs backing either Trump or the Democrats (who are still largely controlled by the Clinton political machine).

I also suggested that the US is losing ground internationally as it is now being challenged by the rising movement for a multi-polar world rather than the singular US domination of global affairs.

I asked Leonid and the cab driver what strategy Russia is using during this current US internal power struggle.  Leonid responded that Russia sits back and waits.  In the meantime Moscow tries its best to have various countries sit down and talk as we saw with the Iran nuclear deal which Putin played a key role in making happen before Trump yanked the US out of the deal.

I told them both about Hillary Clinton's recent accusation that Putin is now putting together a plan (see blog post below) to 'steal' the 2020 US election.  They both laughed uproariously.

So while many Democrats hang on every word of a now discredited Clinton team, most of the rest of the world shakes their heads and can't quite understand why people believe such nonsense coming out of the mouths of people like Hillary.  So it goes....

Bruce  

Sunday song