Thursday, October 6, 2022

#PEDOGATE: ‘Stranger Things’ star Finn Wolfhard FIRES agent amid claims of sexual assault and harassment


by Gus Garcia-Roberts, LA Times:

The Los Angeles-based talent agency APA fired Hollywood agent Tyler Grasham on Friday following allegations that he sexually assaulted and harassed multiple young men in the industry, prompting one of his top clients to leave the firm.

Grasham first came under scrutiny Monday when filmmaker Blaise Godbe Lipman alleged that, as a teenage actor a decade ago, the agent had “fed” him alcohol and then sexually assaulted him.

“Stranger Things” and “It” actor Finn Wolfhard, left, was represented by the agent whom filmmaker Blaise Godbe Lipman, right, has accused of sexual assault. (Getty Images North America; handout)

At least two other men — an editor and actor — have since come forward with stories of more recent unwanted sexual advances and harassment by Grasham. The Times interviewed each of the accusers.

Additionally, the 14-year-old actor Finn Wolfhard, of “Stranger Things” and “It” fame who had been represented by Grasham, left APA, according to a source who was not authorized to comment.

A representative of Wolfhard’s did not immediately respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.

A second client of Grasham’s, 18-year-old actor Cameron Boyce, had also decided to fire the agent before Grasham was terminated by APA, the actor’s publicist said. “In light of the allegations he felt it necessary to part ways with Tyler Grasham,” the publicist, Kasey Kitchen, said of Boyce.

APA had previously announced that it was investigating the allegations. Grasham had been put on leave before his firing was officially announced Friday afternoon.

“Tyler Grasham’s employment with APA has been terminated effective immediately,” the agency’s head of communications, Manfred Westphal, said in a statement. He said he could not provide any further information.

Grasham did not respond to requests for comment.

The men said they were inspired to speak out as part of the “#metoo” campaign in which social media users have aired their experiences with alleged sexual harassment in response to the unfolding scandal surrounding disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. More than 40 women have complained that the co-founder of the Weinstein Co.sexually harassed or assaulted them over two decades.

Founded in 1962 by former MCA executives, APA’s website bills it as “one of the largest diversified talent agencies in Los Angeles.” In addition to actors, the firm represents musicians and other performers. Many of its clients are child actors.

Lipman, 28, whose acting credits include appearances on several TV shows, including “Weeds” and “Hawaii Five-0,” made his allegations in a Facebook post Monday.

Lipman alleged in the post and in a later interview that the incident occurred in the summer of 2007 when he was 17 or 18 — he said he could not remember which — and new to Hollywood. He said Grasham took him to lunch under the pretense of having APA represent him. Lipman said Grasham ordered him alcohol over the actor’s protestations that he wasn’t old enough to drink legally. The agent then brought him to his home and sexually assaulted him, Lipman said.

After the incident, Lipman alleged, Grasham made harassing phone calls to the actor and spread mistruths about him in an effort to hurt his career.

In the post, Lipman blamed APA for allowing Grasham to keep a stable of clients that included child actors. “I find it incredibly difficult to believe they do not know of his predatory behavior, using his position within the company to prey on naive kids,” Lipman wrote.

“I was young and desperately wanted acceptance within my industry,” Lipman wrote on Facebook. “His threats felt very real. Although my initial reaction yesterday and today was to not make this about me, there’s no better time.”

After Lipman’s post, two other men made similar allegations on Facebook or in interviews with The Times.

Lucas Ozarowski, a 27-year-old film editor, alleged in a Facebook post on Thursday that Grasham groped him at his home following an APA party two years ago. Grasham “pulled my pants open and aggressively grabbed my genitalia,” Ozarowski wrote. “I had to forcibly remove his hand and got up and left his house.”

Ozarowski also posted screenshots of what he said were harassing messages Grasham sent him following the incident.

Ozarowski told The Times that on Friday he had contacted the Los Angeles Police Department in order to file a complaint against Grasham. He also said that he had received a call from a man identifying himself as an investigator for APA, seeking a statement about his allegation.

Brady Lindsey, a 19-year-old actor, said in an interview with The Times that Grasham first messaged him on social media when he was 16 and living in Utah. Lindsey said that when he moved to Los Angeles in late 2016, and had just turned 18, Grasham took him to dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Lindsey said that he believed the dinner was “partially” in order to explore possible representation by APA, “although I knew he was interested in me, though I made it clear I wasn’t interested in that.”

At the restaurant, Lindsey said, Grasham ordered him three glasses of wine before they went to the agent’s home for dessert. There, according to Lindsey, Grasham made unwanted sexual advances including grabbing the actor’s crotch.

Lindsey said he allowed Grasham to kiss him. “I was fresh in L.A. and I didn’t want to ruin my career before it got started so I let that part happen,” the actor said.

On a later occasion at a barbecue, Lindsey said, Grasham made more unwanted sexual advances, prompting the actor to leave. He said that the agent continues to send him messages on social media.


WW3 INSANITY: For The First Time In 26 Years, US To Put Nuclear Bombers On 24 Hour Alert

from Zero Hedge:

The unexpected decision by President Trump to amend an emergency Sept 11 order signed by George W Bush, allowing the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired air force pilots to address what the Pentagon has decribed as “an acute shortage of pilots” caught us by surprise. After all, this was the first time we have heard of this particular labor shortage – perhaps there was more to this executive order than meets the eye. Indeed, a just released report may help explain the reasoning behind this presidential decision.

According to Defense One, the US Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991.

 That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of Barksdale Air Force Base’s 11,000-foot runway — dubbed the “Christmas tree” for their angular markings — could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment’s notice.

“This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, told the publication in an interview during his six-day tour of Barksdale and other U.S. Air Force bases that support the nuclear mission. “I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward.”

Quoted by Defense One, Goldfein and other senior defense officials stressed that the alert order had not been given, but that preparations were under way in anticipation that it might come. That decision would be made by Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, or Gen. Lori Robinson, the head of U.S. Northern Command. STRATCOM is in charge of the military’s nuclear forces and NORTHCOM is in charge of defending North America.

Putting the B-52s back on alert is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as the U.S. military responds to a changing geopolitical environment that includes North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal, President Trump’s confrontational approach to Pyongyang, and Russia’s increasingly potent and active armed forces.

Goldfein, who is the Air Force’s top officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is asking his force to think about new ways that nuclear weapons could be used for deterrence, or even combat.

Quoted by Def One, he said that “the world is a dangerous place and we’ve got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons. It’s no longer a bipolar world where it’s just us and the Soviet Union. We’ve got other players out there who have nuclear capability. It’s never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right.” During his trip across the country last week, Goldfein encouraged airmen to think beyond Cold War uses for ICBMs, bombers and nuclear cruise missiles.

“I’ve challenged…Air Force Global Strike Command to help lead the dialog, help with this discussion about ‘What does conventional conflict look like with a nuclear element?’ and ‘Do we respond as a global force if that were to occur?’ and ‘What are the options?’” he said. “How do we think about it — how do we think about deterrence in that environment?”

Asked if placing B-52s back on alert — as they were for decades — would help with deterrence, Goldfein said it’s hard to say.

“Really it depends on who, what kind of behavior are we talking about, and whether they’re paying attention to our readiness status,” he said.

Meanwhile, various improvements have already been made to prepare Barksdale — home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the service’s nuclear forces — to return B-52s to an alert posture. Near the alert pads, an old concrete building — where B-52 crews during the Cold War would sleep, ready to run to their aircraft and take off at a moment’s notice — is being renovated.

Inside, beds are being installed for more than 100 crew members, more than enough room for the crews that would man bombers positioned on the nine alert pads outside. There’s a recreation room, with a pool table, TVs and a shuffleboard table. Large paintings of the patches for each squadron at Barksdale adorn the walls of a large stairway.


One painting — a symbol of the Cold War — depicts a silhouette of a B-52 with the words “Peace The Old Fashioned Way,” written underneath. At the bottom of the stairwell, there is a Strategic Air Command logo, yet another reminder of the Cold War days when American B-52s sat at the ready on the runway outside.


Those long-empty B-52 parking spaces will soon get visits by two nuclear command planes, the E-4B Nightwatch and E-6B Mercury, both which will occasionally sit alert there. During a nuclear war, the planes would become the flying command posts of the defense secretary and STRATCOM commander, respectively. If a strike order is given by the president, the planes would be used to transmit launch codes to bombers, ICBMs and submarines. At least one of the four nuclear-hardened E-4Bs — formally called the National Airborne Operations Center, but commonly known as the Doomsday Plane — is always on 24-hour alert.

Barksdale and other bases with nuclear bombers are preparing to build storage facilities for a new nuclear cruise missile that is under development. During his trip, Goldfein received updates on the preliminary work for a proposed replacement for the 400-plus Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the new long-range cruise missile.

“Our job is options,” Goldfein told Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber. “We provide best military advice and options for the commander and chief and the secretary of defense. Should the STRATCOM commander require or the NORTHCOM commander require us to [be on] a higher state of readiness to defend the homeland, then we have to have a place to put those forces.”

And now that the US is preparing for immediate nuclear war readiness, all it needs is a provocation, one which a world which has never been more on edge over a stray tweet, may have little difficulty in finding…

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Macron’s Call to Federalize Europe

by Martin Armstrong, Armstrong Economics:

France’s President Emmanuel Macron is calling for a radical restructuring of the whole EU. Macron has presented his map for the EU into 2024. He is proposing that the Eurozone budget must include a joint force for military operations. Macron intends to finance this new budget with its tax – the “EU tax” he calls it.

Macron has looked at the numbers and see that France will go the way of Greece if something is not changed and soon. Macron hopes just to throw all the rotten eggs into one basket and hope nobody will notice. It’s the Three Musketeers – All for one; One for All just times 28.

Germany is still dominated by its misunderstanding of the Hyperinflation. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis supports Macron’s federalist proposals on the euro single currency but believes only a real threat could make Germany budge on the issue. It has been Germany that opposed the consolidation of the debts to form the Euro. They are trying to remain isolated in their austerity posture refusing to budge on the debt consolidation, while at the same time they want the single currency to facilitate German exports eliminating foreign exchange risk among other members. They just cannot have it both ways.

The extent of Macron’s plan goes beyond just an EU Tax.  He also says that Europe is moving at “different speeds” and that those states which fall behind should not stand in the way of his proposals. He is calling for a European defense budget and a standard minimum rate for company taxes.

Macron has noted the high cost of taxing the rich. The Socialist agenda under Hollande imposed a wealth tax which drove 10,000 people with about 35 billion euros to flee the country. And that is just what they admit publicly. The tax was imposed on personal assets of more than 1.3 million euros is part of Macron’s reform, but the socialists are demanding they be taxes even more until they all leave one must assume.  As promised by President Emmanuel Macron in the election campaign, the tax will now only apply to real estate, meaning other forms of wealth such as shareholdings in companies will be exempted. Macron realizes that the French share market has one of the worst performance in Europe next to Greece. While the world is worried about bubble markets, Macron is concerned that new lows will unfold on the next crisis.

“When someone leaves the country because of the wealth tax… collectively all French lose.” But the Socialists just refuse to stop their hatred of the rich. Macron has abolished the wealth tax and the socialists are calling him the “President of the rich” and remain oblivious to reality.

More than fifty years ago, back in 1965, it was the French President Charles de Gaulle who withdrew his ministers from the Council of the EU, thereby constituting a de facto veto over all decisions, which became known as the “Empty Chair Crisis.” There were several issues regarding European political integration led to The Empty Chair Crisis. There was a push at that time to create the quasi-federalization of Europe. De Gaulle believed that national governments should move towards integration, but he did not agree with the Commission’s attempt to create some new super central state or a federalized Europe, extending powers of the EU beyond national borders as we have today, which Margaret Thatcher also opposed.

President Charles de Gaulle has proposed the Fouchet Plan was a plan back in 1961 to create a new grand design for Europe. Charles de Gaulle wanted to develop a three-power directorate, consisting of France, Britain and the United States. The idea was to form a new ‘Union of States’, as an alternative to the European Communities (EC). De Gaulle feared a loss of French national influence in the EC as there was a drive to federalize Europe back then.

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Bill Clinton’s $500,000 Moscow speaking gig called into question as part of Uranium One bribery scandal (Video)

by Alex Christoforou, The Duran:

The “real” Russia scandal deepens.

The corruption surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton continues to grow with each passing day.

The Hill is reporting that as Bill Clinton prepared to collect a $500,000 payday from Renaissance Capital for a speech in Moscow in 2010, the former POTUS also sought permission from the Hillary Clinton run State Department to meet with a key Russian nuclear energy firm official.

According to The Hill, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

For Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the “real” Russia scandal deepens, as he discusses this latest development with John Solomon, who broke the Uranium One story wide open last week

More from Solomon via The Hill

“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.

The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

The approval question, however, sat inside State for nearly two weeks without an answer, prompting Desai to make multiple pleas for a decision.

“Dear Jake, we urgently need feedback on this. Thanks, Ami,” the former president’s aide wrote in early June.

Sullivan finally responded on June 7, 2010, asking a fellow State official “What’s the deal w this?”

The documents don’t indicate what decision the State Department finally made. But current and former aides to both Clintons told The Hill on Thursday the request to meet the various Russians came from other people, and the ex-president’s aides and State decided in the end not to hold any of the meetings with the Russians on the list.

Bill Clinton instead got together with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s private homestead.

“Requests of this type were run by the State Department as a matter of course. This was yet another one of those instances. Ultimately, President Clinton did not meet with these people,” Angel Urena, the official spokesperson for the former president, told The Hill.

Aides to the ex-president, Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation said Bill Clinton did not have any conversations about Rosatom or the Uranium One deal while in Russia, and that no one connected to the deal was involved in the trip.

A spokesman for Secretary Clinton said Thursday the continued focus on the Uranium One deal smacked of partisan politics aimed at benefiting Donald Trump.

“At every turn this storyline has been debunked on the merits. Its roots are with a project shepherded by Steve Bannon, which should tell you all you need to know,” said Nick Merrill. “This latest iteration is simply more of the right doing Trump’s bidding for him to distract from his own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security.”

Current and former Clinton aides told The Hill that the list of proposed business executives the former president planned to meet raised some sensitivities after Bill Clinton’s speaker bureau got the invite for the lucrative speech.

Hillary Clinton had just returned from Moscow and there were concerns about the appearance of her husband meeting with officials so soon after.

In addition, two of the Russians on the former president’s list had pending business that would be intersecting with State.

The first was Dvorkovich, who was a chief deputy to Medvedev and one of the Russian nuclear power industry’s cheerleaders. He also sat on the supervisory board of Rosatom, the state owned atomic energy company that was in the midst of buying a Canadian uranium company called Uranium One

The deal required approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an intergovernmental panel represented by 14 departments and offices that approve transactions and investments by foreign companies for national security purposes. Approval meant that control of 20 percent of U.S. uranium production would be shifting to the Russian-owned Rosatom’s control.

CFIUS approved the transaction in October 2010, saying there was no national security concerns. Hillary Clinton has said she did not intervene in the matter and instead delegated the decision to a lower official, who said he got no pressure from the secretary on any CFIUS matters. Any one of the participating offices and departments could have sought to block the deal by requesting intervention by the president.

The Hill reported earlier this week that the FBI had uncovered evidence that Russian nuclear officials were engaged in a massive bribery scheme before CFIUS approved the deal, raising new questions in Congress and drawing attention from President Trump. Uranium “is the real Russia story,” he told reporters, accusing news media of ignoring the new developments reported in The Hill.

The second person on the list that caught attention was Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg.

Two days after Hillary Clinton’s visit to Russia, Vekselberg was named by Medvedev to oversee a new technology investment project called Skolkovo, designed to be Russia’s new Silicon Valley, according to media reports.

Hillary Clinton had directly discussed the Skolkovo project with Medvedev, and her State Department was whipping up support for it among U.S. companies, creating the potential appearance for a conflict. She even attended a major event with the Russians in 2010 to promote the project.

“We want to help because we think that it’s in everyone’s interest do so,” she was quoted as saying at the time.

A third issue that emerged was Renaissance Capital, a Russian bank that actually paid the $500,000 speaking fee to the former president for his 90-minute June 29, 2010, speech, one of the largest one-day fees Bill Clinton ever earned.

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Documentary Just Released Online Blows Lid Off Hollywood Pedophilia: “This is the Tip of the Iceberg”


by Jay Syrmopoulos, The Free Thought Project:

he documentary delves into the firsthand accounts of former Hollywood child actors to show the systemic grooming that lets pedophilia run rampant.

As people try to wrap their minds around the horrid nature of rampant sex abuse in Hollywood, the accusations continue to flow but we are still left with little answers. However, Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Amy Berg has named names and delves into the systemic grooming of child actors in an eye-opening exposé—which includes a shocking on-camera confession of molestation.

With the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal blowing the doors off the open secret of Hollywood pedophilia, a documentary titled, “An Open Secret,” which premiered a few years ago to mass publicity but failed to gain digital distribution, has been officially posted online for the first time by the producer in the wake of recent events.

“It’s so funny to keep seeing headlines about how Harvey’s abuse was ‘an open secret’ in Hollywood, and that’s the name of our film,” producer Gabe Hoffman told The Hollywood Reporter.

Hoffman’s documentary delves into the systemic sexual abuse of children at the hands of Hollywood moguls and heavy-hitters. According to Hoffman, he put An Open Secret on Vimeo for free viewing “to commemorate serial predator Harvey Weinstein finally being exposed.”

While the documentary was initially posted online for free until October 22 by Hoffman, he has now decided that in light of all the other courageous survivors of sexual abuse coming forward since the Weinstein story broke, to extend the free online viewing through October 31.

The movie premiered to a limited theatrical release a few years ago, but the incendiary content of the documentary clearly limited his ability to secure strong distribution as Hollywood bigwigs pushed to marginalize the films reach.

“We haven’t got any offers from major distributors yet because Hollywood doesn’t want to expose its dirty laundry, so we’ve been sitting on this for a while. Now, we want to celebrate the brave women who have exposed Harvey,” Hoffman told the Hollywood Reporter.

Harvey Weinstein, by the way, is not the only one who has used confidentiality settlements. That’s why more of Hollywood’s behavior hasn’t been exposed. This is the tip of the iceberg,”Hoffman said.

Since putting the film online for free, “An Open Secret” has become a viral internet sensation.

The meat of the hard-hitting documentary are the personal testimonies of five former child actors/models, as they recall in vivid detail the terror and horror of being victimized by trusted confidants—including managers, agents, and publicists. The victims voice the confusion they felt after unknowingly being “groomed” for years, by the men guiding their careers, in an effort to gain the trust of the children and their parents.

The familiar face of Corey Feldman appears in archival footage speaking out against the Hollywood pedophiles who molested him and the late Corey Haim, as detailed in his 2013 memoir.

As The Free Thought Project reported, Feldman has spent years attempting to blow the whistle on pedophilia and child abuse in Hollywood, much of which has fallen on deaf ears. Finally, the statements Feldman has made in the past are being viewed in a different light.

“The Number one problem in Hollywood was and always will be pedophilia,” Feldman said.

Please watch the eye-opening documentary “An Open Secret” posted below, as it completely blows the lid off of the systemic pedophilia that is rampant throughout Hollywood!

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“It Could Open A Pandora’s Box”: Italy’s 2 Richest Regions Are Voting In Historic Autonomy Referendums


from ZeroHedge:

Voters in Italy’s two wealthiest northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto are voting on Sunday in referendums for greater autonomy from Rome, in which a positive outcome could fan regional tensions in Europe at a time when neighboring Spain is cracking down to prevent Catalonia from breaking away.

Lombardy, which includes Milan, and Veneto, which houses the tourist powerhouse Venice, are home to around a quarter of Italy’s population and account for 30{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of Italy’s economy, the Eurozone’s third largest. Unlike Catalonia, the consultative votes are only the beginning of a process which could over time lead to powers being devolved from Rome. Also unlike Catalonia, which held an independence referendum on Oct. 1 despite it being ruled unconstitutional, the Italian referendums are within the law. Like Catalonia, however, Lombardy and Veneto complain they pay far more in taxes than they receive.

At its core, today’s vote is about whether taxes collected in the two wealthy regions should be used far more for the benefit of the two regions, or diluted among Italy’s other, poorer regions, especially in the south. Lombardy sends €54 billion more in taxes to Rome than it gets back in public spending. Veneto’s net contribution is 15.5 billion. The two regions would like to roughly halve those contributions – a concession the cash-strapped state, labouring under a mountain of debt, can ill afford.

The two regions are both run by the once openly secessionist Lega Nord, or Northern League party, which hopes that the result will give it a mandate to negotiate better financial deals from Rome. The Northern League was established in the 1990s to campaign for an independent state of “Padania”, stretching across Italy’s north, from around Lombardy in the west to Venice in the east. It no longer campaigns for secession but argues that taxes the north sends to Rome are wasted by inefficient national bureaucracy.

While the twin referendums are non-binding, a resounding “yes” vote would give the presidents of the neighboring regions more leverage in negotiations to seek a greater share of tax revenue and to grab responsibility from Rome. The leaders want more powers in areas such as security, immigration, education and the environment.

Enthusiasm for today’s vote will be critical as the level of turnout will have a direct significance of the results: in Veneto, it has to pass 50{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} for the result to be considered valid. There is no threshold in Lombardy but low voter participation would weaken the region’s hand in any subsequent negotiations with the central government.

* * *

Even though secessionist sentiment in the two wealthy regions is restricted to what has been dubbed “fringe groups” with little following, nonetheless with both regions expected to vote in favour of the principle of greater autonomy, analysts see the referendums as reflecting the pressures that resulted in Scotland’s narrowly-defeated independence vote, Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the Catalan crisis according to AFP.

With dynamic economies and lower unemployment and welfare costs than the Italian average, both regions are large net contributors to a central state widely regarded as inefficient at best.

Public opinions covered both extremes of the spectrum:  

“Lombardy and Veneto have two efficient administrations and public services work well, much better than in other Italian regions … this is why I think it is worth asking for greater autonomy,” said Massimo Piscetta, 49, who voted “Yes” in a small town outside Milan.

“Our taxes should be spent here, not in Sicily,” echoed says Giuseppe Colonna, an 84-year-old Venetian, speaking to AFP.

“I am not going to vote because I think this referendum is useless, expensive, ambiguous and unfair,” countered Giovanni Casolo, 54, speaking to Reuters and expressing concern that the text of the Lombardy referendum did not spell the areas where the region wanted to increase its autonomy.

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The China-Russia Alliance Does Not Have to Be a Threat to the West


by Gilbert Doctorow, Russia Insider:

“I submit that all of the above is wrong and results not only from the limited knowledge of the real situation on the ground in these two countries but to a prejudicial mindset that does not want to get at the facts.”

For a fascinating Russian TV News report from the huge 19th Party Congress in Beijing last week, featured in today’s RI – almost completely ignored by western media, click here.

In this essay we will examine two aspects of the same issue:  the strategic partnership between Russia and China which is fast becoming a foreign policy, commercial and military alliance. 

The first question centers on the relationship itself, how solid is it, and in particular can this potential game changer in international relations be unwound, can Russia be drawn back into the orbit of the Western world.  The second question is that given this partnership cum alliance, what kind of world order has taken shape in the past couple of decades?  We know for certain that it is no longer an American led unipolar world.  But is it de facto a multipolar world as so many of our commentators tell us, or are we witnessing a return to the bipolar world in the context of a New Cold War?  These issues are of critical importance if we are to understand the times we are living in and formulate an effective and durable system of world governance.

Notwithstanding the hysteria in the United States over threats to its democracy coming from Russia, as demonstrated by alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign…  Notwithstanding the claims that Russia has designs on the Baltic States, that it is destabilizing Ukraine and has further territorial ambitions there, all of which reasoning is adduced to justify US movements of arms and personnel into Eastern Europa as part of a program giving new life to NATO…  Notwithstanding the United States naming Russia as the country’s greatest security threat…The consensus view of American and European political scientists is that Russia is a country in decline. 


They make reference to its problematic demographic situation, to near stagnant GNP growth rates and to a highly centralized and authoritarian system of governance that seems incapable of implementing liberalizing reforms they insist are essential. In the near unanimous judgment of this fraternity of Western experts, the global power balance will be changed not by Russia but by China, the up-and-coming power that is already the world’s second largest economy and that has made its geopolitical ambitions clear by its militarization of the South China Sea, securing its perimeter in preparation for the launch of an ocean-going navy and global projection of power to match the global projection of its trade and investment ties.

These same experts tell us that the apparent Russian-Chinese partnership and their common action in the UnitedNations and other forums is not what it seems to be considering the fundamental divergence of their security interests . We are reminded of the nearly empty expanses of Siberia and the Russian Far Eastern territories, just across the border from overcrowded, resource and land hungry China. We are reminded of the  disparity in economic strength of the two, which dictates that Russia will be the “junior partner” – a situation which the Kremlin will find untenable. At best this is a temporary alignment that will not last, they say.

I submit that all of the above is wrong and results not only from the limited knowledge of the real situation on the ground in these two countries but to a prejudicial mindset that does not want to get at the facts. Russia may not be experiencing dynamic growth, but over the past two years it has survived a crisis of circumstance (sharply depressed oil prices) and economic warfare against it by the West that would have felled less competently managed governments enjoying less robust popularity than is the case in Putin’s Russia. Moreover, current GNP performance is on a par with Western Europe’s. Russian agriculture is booming, with the 2017 grain harvest the best in 100 years despite very adverse climatic conditions from early spring. In parallel, domestically produced farm machinery has been going from strength to strength. Other major Industrial sectors like civil aircraft production have revived from zero with the launch of new and credible models for both domestic and export markets. Major infrastructure projects representing phenomenal engineering feats like the bridge across the Kerch straits to Crimea are proceeding on schedule to successful termination in the full glare of regular television broadcasts. So where is this decrepit Russia that our Western commentators repeat to us daily?

The reason for their wrongheaded observations are not so hard to discover. The ongoing rampant conformism in American and Western thinking about Russia has taken control not only of our journalist commentators but also of our academic specialists who serve up to their students and to the general public what is expected and demanded: proof of the viciousness of the “Putin regime” and celebration of the brave souls in Russia who go up against this regime, such as the blogger turned politician Alexander Navalny or Russia’s own Paris Hilton, the socialite turned political activist Ksenia Sochak.

Although vast amounts of information are available about Russia in open sources, meaning the Russian press and commercial as well as state television, these are largely ignored. The sour grapes Russian opposition personalities who have settled in the United States are instead given the microphone to sound off about their former homeland. Children ofthese emigres now studying at American universities are characterized by one of America’s foremost scholars-administrators in the Russian studies field, Timothy Frye, at Columbia’s Harriman Institute, as giving soundness to the field by compensating for the stunning collapse of Russian language training in the country among non-Russian-descent undergraduates and graduate students. Meanwhile, anyone taking care to read, hear and analyze the words of Vladimir Putin becomes in these circles a “stooge.”  All of this limits greatly the effectiveness and usefulness of what passes for expertise about Russia.

Apart from the shortage of Americans or Western Europeans who are not émigrés from Russia or the other former republics of the Soviet Union and can read the language of their area of concentration, the field suffers, as it always has, even in its heyday during the Cold War, from a narrow concentration on Russia and from the impoverished general education of those entering the field. They do not study world history in a way that would put their Russian knowledge in some firmly anchored comparative international setting. 

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Anonymous Group Hackers Target Websites of Spanish Government, Popular Party


from Sputnik News:

A hacktivist group dubbed Anonymous has targeted Spanish institutions for the second time this week.

MADRID (Sputnik) — The Anonymous group carried out a number of attacks targeting websites of Spanish ministries and the country’s Popular Party (PP), a Sputnik correspondent reported Sunday. In addition to governmental websites and the one of the PP, the hackers had also targeted the website of the Francisco Franco Foundation. However, the activities of the websites were restored by Sunday morning.

This is already the second round by the Anonymous group aimed at supporting Catalonia’s independence aspiration. The day before, hackers attacked the website of the Spanish Constitutional Court.

The Anonymous group has been expressing their sentiment over the independence bid since it launched Operation Free Catalonia on September 24. They asserted it was a protest against Spanish efforts to block the stance. On October 20, the Spanish Homeland Security Department warned of a massive campaign being plotted under the slogans #OpCatalunya and #FreeCatalunya.

More than 90 percent of over 2 million Catalans cast their ballots in favor of Catalonia’s secession from Spain on October 1. This move was called illegal and unconstitutional by Madrid and set alight violent clashes between independence supporters and Spanish police. Also, Spain ordered the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to define the region’s position on the separation bid by October 16.

As Puigdemont failed to meet the target date, Spain’s government has held an emergency meeting to start the procedure of invoking Article 155 of the constitution, which allows them to take power from the region and to set an early vote for the Catalan parliament. The attacks began soon after the meeting.

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