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US envoy: Russia should allow Israel air strikes in Syria

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US envoy to Syria James Jeffrey said yesterday that Russia should maintain a “permissive approach” towards Israeli airstrikes in Syria.

Speaking with journalists via a conference call, Jeffrey explained that “in the past Russia has been permissive in consultation with the Israelis about Israeli strikes against Iranian targets inside Syria,” adding that: “We certainly hope that that permissive approach will continue”.

Jeffrey said that Israel has “[an] existential interest in blocking Iran from deploying long-range power projection systems such as surface-to-surface missiles [in Syria]” and “we [the USA] understand this existential interest and we support Israel,” the Times of Israel reported.

Jeffrey’s comments come amid heightened tensions between Israel and Russia after the downing of a Russian military plane over Syrian airspace in September. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces allegedly mistook the Russian jet for an Israeli aircraft, having been simultaneously responding to Israeli attacks on targets in Syria’s coastal region of Latakia.

The incident sparked a diplomatic row after Russia’s Defence Ministry claimed that the Israeli jets carrying out the strikes in Latakia used the Russian plane as cover to allow them to approach their targets without being hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Russia placed the blame for the incident – in which 15 Russian personnel died – squarely with Israel, calling its actions “irresponsible” and accusing it of not giving Moscow sufficient notice of the attack.
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Iran's Leadership Must Decide 'If They Want Their People To Eat' - Pompeo

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Less than a week after US Secretary of State Secretary Mike Pompeo told Fox News Sunday that the "Iranians are responsible for the starvation' of Yemeni civilians" he's again issued hugely provocative words, telling the BBC during an interview that Iranian "leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat" in reference to the latest round of US sanctions. 

As the interview was with BBC Persian, Pompeo's words were immediately translated from English and broadcast to the Iranian public through BBC's Persian-language publication. Pompeo repeated his theme that Iran is the world's foremost state sponsor of terror and a "destabilizing influence" in the Middle East while ultimately blaming the country's economic suffering on the intransigence of the country's leaders. 

Pompeo's words came on the heels of Iran's foreign ministry issuing a formal response to this week's US sanctions snap back on the energy sector, publishing a 3-minute video of FM Javad Zarif on Tuesday wherein Zarif emphasized that the sanctions mainly targeted average Iranian citizens, referencing "the economic warfare that directly targets the Iranian people."
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We Don't Need Daily Press Briefings at the White House

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There was an unseemly verbal brawl Wednesday in the East Room of the White House in which members of the press who are avowed enemies of President Trump (Acosta, Peter Alexander and April Ryan among others) attempted to debate the president over the wisdom and probity of his actions as chief executive of the federal government.
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Edward Snowden: Saudi Used Israel Spyware to Target Khashoggi

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US whistle-blower Edward Snowden yesterday claimed that Saudi Arabia used Israeli spyware to target murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Addressing a conference in Tel Aviv via a video link, Snowden claimed that software made by an Israeli cyber intelligence firm was used by Saudi Arabia to track and target Khashoggi in the lead up to his murder on 2 October inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Snowden told his audience: “How do they [Saudi Arabia] know what his [Khashoggi’s] plans were and that they needed to act against him? That knowledge came from the technology developed by NSO,” Israeli business daily Globes reported. Snowden accused NSO of “selling a digital burglary tool,” adding it “is not just being used for catching criminals and stopping terrorist attacks, not just for saving lives, but for making money […] such a level of recklessness […] actually starts costing lives,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Snowden – made famous in 2013 for leaking classified National Security Agency (NSA) files and exposing the extent of US surveillance – added that “Israel is routinely at the top of the US’ classified threat list of hackers along with Russia and China […] even though it is an ally”. Snowden is wanted in the US for espionage, so could not travel to Tel Aviv to address the conference in person for fear of being handed over to the authorities.

The Israeli firm to which Snowden referred – NSO Group Technologies – is known for developing the “Pegasus” software which can be used to remotely infect a target’s mobile phone and then relay back data accessed by the device. Although NSO claims that its products “are licensed only to legitimate government agencies for the sole purpose of investigating and preventing crime and terror,” this is not the first time its Pegasus software has been used by Saudi Arabia to track critics.
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Will the ‘Taiwan Question’ Give Rise to a World War III Scenario?

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The United States and China are set to go head-to-head over disputes in relation to Taiwan and the South China Sea, with deadly consequences on the immediate horizon.

You wouldn’t know it with all the media hype over the US mid-term elections, but the US and China are on a deadly collision path in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. In the last two months, the US military has flown B-52 bombers and carried out its so-called “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea. There have also been instances of US warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait in support of Taiwan, an island which China considers to be a rogue part of Chinese territory.

On a side note, it is amazing to say the least that the US believes it should have the “freedom to navigate” in the South China Sea, yet seems to get up in arms when Iranian ships expect the same kind of freedom in the Persian Gulf.

Near-collisions in the South China Sea

Last September, US and Chinese warships almost collided when sailing near an islet claimed by Beijing in the Spratly Islands. Reportedly, the Chinese warship threatened the US Destroyer that it would “suffer consequences” if it did not move, as it sailed within 45 yards of the American vessel.
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Trump Fires Sessions - A 'Constitutional Crisis'?

President Trump's acceptance of his Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "resignation" letter has caused a paroxysm of protest among the #resistance movement who see impeachment just around the corner. Suddenly a Jeff Sessions they have despised since his appointment is the linchpin of US democracy! Is it all about politics and nothing about policy? Is the "war at home" getting all the more dangerous? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Did the Russians Influence My Vote?

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I voted Libertarian yesterday, and the New York Times has me really worried. In an article yesterday entitled “Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here’s the Data,” the authors, Jonathan Morgan and Ryan Fox, state that while Russian meddling in the midterm election was not as extensive as it purportedly was in the 2016 election, it was nonetheless still pervasive. Morgan and Fox, who run a cybersecurity company, pointed out, “Indeed, our company is currently detecting more overall activity in real time from continuing Russian online influence operations targeting the midterm elections than has been disclosed by social media platforms or detected by researchers during the same period before the election in 2016.”
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House Goes Blue - Blessing In Disguise For Trump?

What will be the result of the "blue ripple" of the Democrat majority in the House and the resulting split government? Will we see "gridlock" as many pundits are predicting? Unfortunately, when it comes to warfare and welfare (especially corporate welfare), the two parties are more alike than at odds. Look for "compromise" moves that will increase spending on militarism and welfareism. More in today's Liberty Report...
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'The Most Important Election Of Our Lifetime!' - Does It Really Matter?

There was plenty of noise in the run up to today's mid-term election in the US, but were there any real differences when it comes to substantive issues? Or was it all about manufactured outrages designed to motivate people to support this or that tribe with no real thought? Was there any real debate on war? Privacy? NSA spying? None at all! The most important election in our lifetime? Ha! Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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US Doublespeak Hinders Afghan Peace

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Within hours of the announcement on Saturday by the Russian Foreign Ministry that the second meeting of the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan will take place on November 9, the US government-funded Radio Free Europe and Liberty has announced that the Afghan government will not participate in the forthcoming meeting.

The text of the Russian Foreign Ministry statement is reproduced below:
On November 9, Moscow will host the second meeting of the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan at the level of deputy foreign ministers and specialized special representatives. Invitations to participate in the event were sent to the participating countries – Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, as well as the United States. The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, A. Gani, decided to send a delegation of the High Peace Council of this country to the meeting. For the first time, a delegation of the Political Office of the Taliban Movement in Doha will participate in an international meeting of this level. The agreement of the final document is not provided.
The meeting will be opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey V. Lavrov.

The Russian side reaffirms its position that there is no alternative to a political settlement in the IRA and the need for active coordinated work of the neighboring countries and regional partners of Afghanistan in this direction.
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