China Just Sided With Russia Over The Ukraine Conflict (Source Zero Hedge) When it comes to the Ukraine proxy war, which started in earnest just about one year ago with the violent coup that overthrew then president Yanukovich and replaced him with a local pro-US oligarch, there has been no ambiguity who the key actors were: on the left, we had the west, personified by the US, the European Union, and NATO in general; while on the right we had Russia. In fact, if there was any confusion, it was about the role of that other “elephant in the room” – China. To be sure, a question few asked throughout the Ukraine civil war is just whose side is China leaning toward. After all the precarious balance of power between NATO and Russia had resulted in a stalemate in which neither side has an obvious advantage (even as the Ukraine economy died, and its currency hyper inflated, waiting for a clear winner), and the explicit or implicit support of China to either camp would make all the difference in the world, not to mention the world’s most formidable axis. Xinhua reported that late on Thursday Qu Xing, China’s ambassador to Belgium, was quoted as blaming competition between Russia and the West for the Ukraine crisis, urging Western powers to “abandon the zero-sum mentality” with Russia.Cited by Reuters, Xing said that Western powers should take into consideration Russia’s legitimate security concerns over Ukraine. Reuters’ assessment of Xing speech: “an unusually frank and open display of support for Moscow’s position in the crisis.”
The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’ (Source the guardian.com)
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include: Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases. Beating by police, resulting in head wounds. Shackling for prolonged periods. Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility. Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15. At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged. “Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”
In message to US, Iran test fires new weapon in naval drill (Source AP) Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Friday announced it has test fired a “new strategic weapon” in the final day of a large-scale naval and air defense drill, saying the system would play a key role in any future battle against the United States. The claim was a new show of force by Iran just weeks ahead of a deadline for reaching a deal over its nuclear program with the U.S. and other global powers. Iran announced the test on the final day of military drills it is calling “Great Prophet 9.” The exercises are being held near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes. Iran often holds live-fire war games and frequently boasts of advances in its weaponry that cannot be independently verified. The latest drill, which included a simulated attack on an American aircraft carrier, appears to be aimed at sending a message that Iran has no intention of backing down to the U.S. in the nuclear talks. Adm. Ali Fadavi, the Republican Guard’s naval chief, said the new weapon would be critical in any future naval war against the U.S. “The new weapon will have a very decisive role in adding our naval power in confronting threats, particular by the Great Satan, the United States,” he told the guard’s website, sepahanews.com.
US troops just paraded along the Russian border. Is that as insane as it sounds? (Source vox.com)
On Wednesday, the US Army did something that seemed, and maybe was, dangerously provocative: it paraded soldiers and armored vehicles from the Second Cavalry Regiment in the Estonian town of Narva, just 900 feet from Russia’s border. The Washington Post’s Michael Birnbaum, reporting the incident, explains, “Narva is a vulnerable border city separated by a river from Russia. It has often been cited as a potential target for the Kremlin if it wanted to escalate its conflict with the West onto NATO territory.” There is a logic to this sort of demonstration, which is surely meant to show Russia that the US is sincerely committed to the defense of Estonia, which is a member of NATO. In other words, it is meant to deter Russia from starting a Ukraine-style conflict in Estonia, which could plausibly spiral into World War Three. At the same time, such a demonstration is also dangerous, as it risks being misinterpreted by Moscow as an act of aggression and thus making war more likely. Estonia and other Baltic countries, like Ukraine, used to be part of the Soviet Union and have significant Russian or Russian-speaking minorities. Europe has feared that Vladimir Putin might attempt some version of what he did in Ukraine, stirring up pro-Russian sentiment, arming separatists, or even overtly invading. President Obama took this seriously enough to travel to Estonia in September to give a speech pledging that the US would defend the country against Russian aggression. This isn’t just scary because it would be bad to repeat the Ukraine crisis in another country, though it surely would. Estonia is a member of NATO, which means that all other members are committed to help defend it in a war. That includes the US and most European countries, two of which (France and the UK) are nuclear armed. If Putin were to invade Estonia tomorrow, it would spark war between several nuclear powers, and that would be a global catastrophe. Putin does not want World War Three, though, so he’s not going to simply invade Estonia. What’s more plausible, and in many ways scarier, is the possibility that he could attempt smaller and more indirect provocations of the sort he deployed at first in Ukraine. Putin could read The US Army parading on his border as a threat of American aggression or outright invasion. That would make things substantially more dangerous.