Histórias do presente

1) Haaretz

ANALYSIS: The accusations against Syria are all too routine

"The accusation leveled at the Syrians by Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, the hints by Prime Minister Fuad Siniora urging the establishment of an international tribunal to try Hariri's killers, and statements by anti-Syrian elements in Lebanon, put Syria at the top of the list of suspects in Tuesday's assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel. However pure political and diplomatic logic makes it difficult to see Damascus behind the assassination. The day Gemayel was killed, Syria chalked up one of its most significant diplomatic achievements since its defeat in Lebanon in April 2005: the renewal of full diplomatic relations with Iraq. (...)"

2) Antiwar: "Poisonous Propaganda The latest story about a KGB 'poisoning' is pure bunk "

"The continuing propaganda campaign directed at Vladimir Putin's Russia has taken a bizarre turn with the alleged "poisoning," in a London restaurant, of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent now associated with exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. According to the story being put out by Litvinenko and his friends, a meeting with Italian researcher Mario Scaramella was swiftly followed by Litvinenko's sudden collapse. The diagnosis: thallium poisoning. As far as much of the news media, and certainly the numerous Russophobes in the punditocracy are concerned, it's no mystery as to who's responsible: according to their "logic," since Litvinenko is a vehement critic of the Putin administration, Putin and his KGB were clearly responsible. Case closed… (...)

The stricken man opposed Putin and wrote a book accusing the Russian government of being behind the 1999 terrorist attacks carried out in Russian cities, for which Chechen terrorists were blamed. Therefore, Putin was behind this purported assassination attempt. As an indication of Litvinenko's credibility, he also claims that the KGB secretly funds al-Qaeda and orchestrated the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Litvinenko, in short, is a raving lunatic, who just so happens to enjoy the patronage of a very wealthy man with a very big grudge against Putin and Russia in general: Boris Berezovsky, the exiled oligarch who used his Communist connections to buy up whole sectors of the Russian economy dirt cheap during the rigged "privatizations" of the Yeltsin era, and fled the country when faced with charges of corruption. With much of his vast fortune still intact, Berezovsky has become Putin's nemesis, allying himself with Chechen terrorist leaders, what passes for Russian liberals, and American neoconservatives in a popular front for regime change in the Russian Federation.

(...) The plot thickens – or, rather, coagulates – when we get to the second meeting Litvinenko had on Nov. 1: with Andrei Lugovoi and some character known only as "Vladimir." According to an article posted on the Jamestown Foundation's Web site, before falling into Berezovsky's orbit, Lugovoi, a former FSB major, was a bodyguard to several Kremlin big shots, including Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar. He really made his mark, however, in connection with the escape from custody of former Aeroflot chairman Nikolai Glushkov, a Berezovsky protégé, jailed on charges of money-laundering. Glushkov and several others were charged with stashing over $252 million of Aeroflot's cash in Swiss accounts controlled by Berezovsky. Lugovoi was the warden of the prison Glushkov escaped from, and was compromised by certain phone calls overheard by the FSB. He was arrested and subsequently released under somewhat mysterious circumstances, although other accounts report he was "acquitted." Whatever.

In spite of the numerous interviews Litvinenko appears to have given to the media – a veritable public relations tsunami, in which his absurd conspiracy theory is being touted as unimpeachable fact – he is supposedly too sick to be making statements and finds himself unable to answer queries about what transpired at this meeting, or even where it occurred. Via Alex Goldfarb, president of a Berezovsky front group masquerading as a "human rights" organization, Litvinenko claims "through the agony of his illness, Mr. Litvinenko could not recall details of the meeting." Goldfarb has also suggested that Litvinenko was stricken when poison was poured into drinks at the meeting with Lugovoi and "Vladimir."

The cockamamie narrative being woven around the sudden and very mysterious illness visited on Litvinenko is a direct takeoff on the Yushchenko "poisoning," which goes unsolved to this day in spite of having Ukraine's full investigative capacities allegedly focused on exposing the plotters. That way it's so much easier to blame the KGB.

I won't reiterate my skepticism – to put it mildly – when it comes to the "official" story of how Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin, a most unlikely candidate for an assassin's arsenal. Go here, here, and here for an extensive investigation into the continuing mystery of Yushchenko's disfigurement, but I want to make a larger point.

The attempt to portray the Russians as mad poisoners intent on assassinating their political opponents no matter where they try to find refuge is a powerful propagandistic theme that, although unsupported by any facts, winds its way through the media narrative on the wings of pure supposition. These people don't care about facts: it's all speculation, unsupported by evidence that passes the most perfunctory smell test.

If ever there was an attempted frame-up, then the Litvinenko "poisoning" is it. They won't really ever know what poisoned Litvinenko, and they can't detect enough thallium in his system, or indeed much of anything. Here is yet another link in the long chain of manufactured incidents meant to provoke a confrontation with Russia. An aggressive propaganda campaign aimed at the Russians has been in high gear for quite some time, and it appears to be reaching a crescendo with this Litvinenko nonsense.

The Russophobes' lobby includes all sorts of unlikely bed partners, including neoconservatives playing footsie with Chechen "freedom fighters" in the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya. What do avidly pro-Israel neocons and radical Islamists have in common? Hatred of Putin and his Russian nationalism is apparently enough to get them to work together.(...)

Here is an issue that both wings of the War Party – by which I mean the leadership of the two major parties – can agree on. Liberal internationalists of the Clintonian mold and those few neocons still left standing can all get behind the regime-change agenda when it comes to Putin's Russia.

Just what we need – more enemies. The War Party has a long list of potential candidates, including not only Russia but also China. If one gives out, there's always another that pops up to take its place. And isn't it funny how that works
La Mafia progresse en Europe
Publié le 14 novembre 2006
Actualisé le 14 novembre 2006 : 07h46
Les activités récemment découvertes de la Camorra napolitaine en Espagne et celles de la Ndrangheta calabraise en Allemagne prouvent que les organisations criminelles italiennes continuent de tisser leur toile sur le continent.


We all pay a high price for the houses of the super-rich

Nick Cohen
Sunday November 19, 2006
The Observer
The British have been preoccupied with home ownership since the Fifties, but in London at the moment, the obsession has tipped over into a kind of insanity. People swap stories of buyers paying fantastically inflated prices and then squint at you with a faintly maniacal glance that asks: 'Am I mad or has the world gone mad?' ...

hardly any of the buyers employing the services of the Candy brothers were English. They were Russian oligarchs and Arab petro-billionaires lured to London by Gordon Brown's generous willingness to allow 60,000 foreigners to escape paying tax on income and investments held abroad.
Inevitably, they would be joined by Chinese and Indian plutocrats as Asia grew and she could see the time when the English rich would no longer be able to compete with foreigners being subsidised by the Chancellor and, by extension, every Observer reader who pays taxes.
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