Lots of weird shit being reported on Twitter and, in the last few minutes, the BBC
CAN'T A BROTHER GET A LITTLE PEACE?
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Far from being an all-powerful “spookocracy” that controls the Kremlin, Russia’s intelligence services are internally divided, distracted by bureaucratic turf wars, and often produce poor quality intelligence – ultimately threatening the interests of Vladimir Putin himself.
Drawing on extensive interviews with former and current intelligence officials, “Putin’s hydra: Inside Russia’s intelligence services” explains how the spy agencies really work, and argues that Europe’s view of them is patchy and based on outdated caricatures.
The paper punctures the myth that the agencies are the power behind the throne in Russia. They are firmly subordinated to the Kremlin, and Putin plays them off against one another. They are not a united bloc but a disparate group, whose solidarity disappears as soon as there is an opportunity to make money or avoid blame.
When the ground crew at Harare International Airport comes out to refuel the plane, they’re horrified to see blood dripping down the fuselage. The plane’s crew dismisses it. Its led by two Americans, who claim they hit a bird earlier. Somebody calls the cops.
“The ground crew refueling the plane alerted local authorities,” the Zimbabwe Herald reported. “Drops of blood were coming from a door, and state security officials stationed at the airport insisted it be opened.”
They make the pilot climb up the fuselage, and open the door leaking blood. What he finds: an adult male. No bird. No feathers.
“For some reason the pilot first put on latex gloves, and then opened the door, which is quite high up the aircraft,” an aviation insider told the Zimbabwe Herald. “And thwack, a fully clothed body of a black man fell out.”
“Thwack?” Okay. But the body only falls half-out, and for the next several hours the partially-severed arm of a dead man drips blood down the fuselage which wells into a puddle on the tarmac while things sort themselves out.
The crew probably now realize that they face a bit of a sticky wicket. A dead body onboard. Cause of death unknown. Name unknown. Nationality unknown.
This study is an attempt at a preliminary transnational investigation of the Paneuropean Right and particularly of the covert forum, the Cercle Pinay and its complex of groups. Amongst Cercle intelligence contacts are former operatives from the American CIA, DIA and INR, Britain's MI5, MI6 and IRD, France's SDECE, Germany's BND, BfV and MAD, Holland's BVD, Belgium's Sûreté de l’Etat, SDRA and PIO, apartheid South Africa's BOSS, and the Swiss and Saudi intelligence services. Politically, the Cercle complex has interlocked with the whole panoply of international right-wing groups: the Paneuropean Union, the European Movement, CEDI, the Bilderberg Group, WACL, Opus Dei, the Moonies, Western Goals and the Heritage Foundation. Amongst the prominent politicians associated with the Cercle Pinay were Antoine Pinay, Konrad Adenauer, Archduke Otto von Habsburg, Franz Josef Strauß, Giulio Andreotti, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, Paul Vanden Boeynants, John Vorster, General Antonio de Spínola, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
Once the fragmented information is pieced together, the network that emerges cannot be overlooked: the Cercle complex can be seen to be an international coalition of right- wing intelligence veterans, working internationally to promote top conservative politicians who would shape the world in the 1970s and 1980s.
To take the British example, much of the destabilisation of British democracy in the 1970s can only be fully understood by analysing the international support given to groups like the Anglo-American "deniable propaganda" outlet, the Institute for the Study of Conflict. The Cercle Pinay was a major source of support for the ISC virtually from its inception on; the Cercle Pinay and the ISC also tied in with another key British group, the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, heavily funded by BOSS, apartheid South Africa's secret service. BOSS's other incursions into domestic politics in Britain, notably their smear operations against leading Liberals such as Jeremy Thorpe and Peter Hain, were a significant factor in the hijacking of British democracy in the 1970s. Three Cercle members on the FARI Board assisted FARI's actions from 1976 through to the early 1980s. FARI in many ways was the British successor to a previous Cercle operation to support South Africa; the Cercle and the ISC had been active partners in setting up a Paris-based propaganda outlet in 1974 as part of South Africa's covert media campaign later exposed in the "Muldergate" scandal.
German intelligence reports on the Cercle Pinay written in late 1979 and early 1980 which were published in Der Spiegel in 1982 also shed new light on a "Thatcher faction" within MI6 in the lead-up to the Conservatives' 1979 election victory. Whilst receiving wide publicity in France and Germany, these reports have never been covered by the British Press. This serious omission is astounding in the light of the undeniable authenticity of the reports and the startling allegations they contain: one of the German intelligence reports dated November 1979 quotes a planning paper by Crozier about a Cercle complex operation "to affect a change of government in the United Kingdom (accomplished)".
The loosening of marijuana laws across much of the United States has increased competition from growers north of the border, apparently enough to drive down prices paid to Mexican farmers. Small-scale growers here in the state of Sinaloa, one of the country's biggest production areas, said that over the last four years the amount they receive per kilogram has fallen from $100 to $30.
The price decline appears to have led to reduced marijuana production in Mexico and a drop in trafficking to the U.S., according to officials on both sides of the border and available data.
This was a predictable outcome of legalization, but still a big deal and welcome news. One of the major arguments for legal pot is that it will weaken drug cartels, cutting off a major source of revenue and inhibiting their ability to carry out violent acts — from mass murders to beheadings to extortion — around the world. And cannabis used to make up a significant chunk of cartels' drug export revenue: as much as 20 to 30 percent, according to previous estimates from the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness (2012) and the RAND Corporation (2010).
Will this be enough to completely eliminate drug cartels? Certainly not. These groups deal in far more than pot, including extortion and other drugs like cocaine and heroin.
Still, it will hurt. As the numbers above suggest, marijuana used to be a big source of drug cartels' revenue, and that's slowly but surely going away. It's still possible that legalization in America could produce downsides in the US, such as more cannabis abuse. But it's a potentially huge win for Mexico and other Latin American countries.
With the caveat that I literally got up half an hour ago and so have not seen any coverage since 7am, UK time...
ISIS is also my chief suspect. The methodology could go either way, Al-Qaeda or ISIS, with Beslan, Mumbai etc. The gratuitous nature of the violence also suggests ISIS over AQ, the latter being slightly more stringent with targeting (see Charlie Hebdo, frequent AQ complaints about civilian Muslims being collateral damage etc).
According to some reports, just before I went to bed, one of the gunmen shouted "this is the fault of Hollande, he does not have to intervene in Syria" before he killed himself. I suggested, back in 2014, that if overt intervention in Syria looked to be on the cards, the strategic calculus would change for ISIS, that while they would encourage and agitate for attacks in the west, they would prefer to focus on their more immediate enemies except in the case of potential attack. In the long term, I think ISIS would always be looking at attacking the west, it has to wrest the crown from Zawahiri somehow, and beyond that, their overall ideology paints the west as enemies of Islam.
Another thing not to discount is their awareness of the refugee crisis in Europe, and how an attack could complicate the political response there or even work to inflame tensions. ISIS are remarkably media savvy, and I'd be very surprised if they weren't aware of how such an attack would, almost inevitably, be followed by calls to refuse refugees, crack down on Musims generally. That then plays directly into their propaganda. It also sends a message to the refugees - no matter how far you run, we can reach you.
Another thing, that was mentioned in the Vice article but that I neglected to mention above. ISIS has been put under quite a bit of military pressure lately. I suspect it's more of a short-term issue than the death knell of the group, given their ability to bounce back.
That said, a large attack like this...well, it's advertising. Get more men and women joining the jihad. Convince the potential donors in the Gulf states that ISIS is leading the Islamic revolution, and so deserves their donations. An influx of recruits and money could be just what they need to turn things around in those areas where they've been taking a beating recently.
So, I've just been given a green light to bully my co-workers.