Azov fighters are Ukraine’s greatest weapon and may be its greatest threat

The battalion’s far-right volunteers’ desire to ‘bring the fight to Kiev’ is a danger to post-conflict stability

by Shaun Walker

“I have nothing against Russian nationalists, or a great Russia,” said Dmitry, as we sped through the dark Mariupol night in a pickup truck, a machine gunner positioned in the back. “But Putin’s not even a Russian. Putin’s a Jew.”

Dmitry – which he said is not his real name – is a native of east Ukraine and a member of the Azov battalion, a volunteer grouping that has been doing much of the frontline fighting in Ukraine‘s war with pro-Russia separatists. The Azov, one of many volunteer brigades to fight alongside the Ukrainian army in the east of the country, has developed a reputation for fearlessness in battle.

But there is an increasing worry that while the Azov and other volunteer battalions might be Ukraine’s most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists, they also pose the most serious threat to the Ukrainian government, and perhaps even the state, when the conflict in the east is over. The Azov causes particular concern due to the far right, even neo-Nazi, leanings of many of its members.

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The Real Reason the GOP Is Obsessed with Voter Fraud

by David Sirota

It is rare for a politician to publicly deride efforts to boost voter turnout. It is seen as a taboo in a country that prides itself on its democratic ideals. Yet, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week slammed efforts to simplify voter registration.

Referring to Illinois joining other states — including many Republican-led ones — in passing a same-day voter registration law, Christie said: “Same-day registration all of a sudden this year comes to Illinois. Shocking. It’s shocking. I’m sure it was all based on public policy, good public policy to get same-day registration here in Illinois just this year, when the governor is in the toilet and needs as much help as he can get.”

Christie was campaigning for Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the same-day registration bill into law in July.

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53 Million Temps: All You Need To Know About The “Jobs Recovery”

by Tyler Durden

After years of ignoring the obvious, the Federal Reserve has been finally forced to admit that the labor force participation rate matters, and in fact has started to point it out as a clear negative when it comes to Yellen’s “dashboard” of thresholds which will allow the Fed to raise rates (for the obvious reason that the Fed is desperate to delay ZIRP as long as possible and is now highlighting all that is wrong with the economy, contrary to Obama who is still focusing on all the rigged greatness of the US recovery) and to do so is going through Zero Hedge archives to note all those things which everyone had ignored for years and which we have pointed out as structural failures of the so-called recovery.

So while we are happy to oblige the Fed with our tens of thousands of articles summarizing what is broken with the US economy thanks to, well, the Fed, here is another one: one which the Fed can use next year when the time to hike rates has come and gone, and when the Fed is once again scratching its head what to blame it on.

The chart below shows the civilian employment to population ratio: a convenient indicator of the real state of the US labor market which does away with the labor force entirely, and the associated rhetoric of why it may or may not be plunging, and merely focuses on two simple things: total population and the total civilian population of the US. One thing is clear: the ratio crashed when the depression started and has flatlined since. Which, incidentally, may be all you, and the Fed, needs to know about the recovery.

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From Victor Provenzano:

According to The Times of London, a forensic analyst now says that the video of James Foley’s beheading “was probably staged” (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4186089.ece). The New York Daily News, Economic Policy Journal, and IBT, a sister publication of Newsweek, have also reported this story.

Here, then, are a few unanswered questions:

1) Can the death of James Wright Foley be in any way confirmed at this point?

I am sorry for even seeming to be tasteless about this, but one might have to

ask the alleged jihadis for either his head or his body in order to confirm his death empirically.

2) How can a knife edge move to and fro across a bare neck 6 times without drawing any blood? This question is especially essential since it seems somewhat clear from the alleged jihadi video that the “saw edge” of the blade, not the beveled “knife edge,” was used on the victim’s neck.  Read more »


Froomkin Blogs Again: Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal

By Dan Froomkin

In a lot of ways, we’re worse off today than we were under George W. Bush.

Back then, Bush’s extremist assault on civil liberties, human rights and other core American values in the name of fighting terror felt like an aberration.

The expectation was that those policies would be quickly reversed, discredited — and explicitly outlawed — once he was no longer in power.

Instead, under President Barack Obama, they’ve become institutionalized.

There will be no snapping back to a pre-Bush-era respect for basic human dignity and civil rights. Thanks to Obama, it’s going to be a hard, long fight.

In some cases, Obama has set even darker precedents than his predecessor. Massively invasive bulk surveillance of Americans and others has been expanded, not constrained. This president secretly condemns people to death without any checks or balances, and shrugs as his errant drones massacre innocent civilians. Whistleblowers and journalists who expose national security wrongdoing face unprecedented criminal prosecution.

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Manhattan’s New Most Hideous Building Will Have 3 Floors Just for ‘Maid’s Rooms’

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There’s a new front-runner for Manhattan’s biggest eyesore, and it’s the condo tower located at 125 Greenwich Street that will top 1,356 feet, making it just 12 feet shorter than the new World Trade Center.

The glassy monstrosity’s most irritating feature? Three of the building’s 77 floors will reportedly be just for “maid’s rooms.” Gosh, what a fine city we live in.

Link here


While I don’t buy the claim that Foley seems to have two different sets of parents (both couples look the same to me), I do agree that the “James Foley”(seemingly) beheaded in the video is simply not James Foley; and that neither of these two beheadings is convincing.


The Hannibal Directive: How Israel Killed Its Own Troops and Massacred Palestinians to Prevent Its Soldiers’ Capture

by Max Blumenthal

In the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Aug. 1, 2014 is known as Black Friday. This was the day the Israeli military bombarded the city with almost every mode of destruction available to it, from F-16 missiles to Apache rockets to naval shelling to drone strikes and mortars.

Bulldozers ripped down homes at random while tanks barreled through neighborhoods, shelling anything in sight. In a matter of hours, at least 500 artillery shells and hundreds of missiles were dumped on the city, almost entirely in civilian areas. By the end, at least 190 people had been killed, so many that unequipped local hospitals were forced to store their corpses and body parts in ice cream coolers.

The target of the operation was not necessarily Rafah’s civilian population, though attacking it was part of the Israeli military’s underlying logic. Instead, the army apparently aimed to kill one of its own. Indeed, Israeli forces had invoked the Hannibal Directive, opening up an indiscriminate assault on the entire circumference of the area where one of its soldiers, Lt. Col. Hadar Goldin, was allegedly taken captive by an ambush team from the Hamas military wing known as the Qassam Brigades.

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Exclusive: Official Washington draws the Ukraine crisis in black-and-white colors with Russian President Putin the bad guy and the U.S.-backed leaders in Kiev the good guys. But the reality is much more nuanced, with the American people consistently misled on key facts, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

If you wonder how the world could stumble into World War III – much as it did into World War I a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire U.S. political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats vs. black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.

The original lie behind Official Washington’s latest “group think” was that Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated the crisis in Ukraine as part of some diabolical scheme to reclaim the territory of the defunct Soviet Union, including Estonia and other Baltic states. Though not a shred of U.S. intelligence supported this scenario, all the “smart people” of Washington just “knew” it to be true.

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Talk about projection…

Putin’s propoganda keeps Russians in the dark about Ukraine and more

By Editorial Board

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, his bitter resentment at the Soviet empire’s collapse metastasized into seething Russian nationalism, has marginalized the political opposition, muzzled dissidents and intimidated independent voices in civil society. In prosecuting his widening war in Ukraine, he has also resurrected the tyranny of the Big Lie, using state-controlled media to twist the truth so grotesquely that most Russians are in the dark — or profoundly misinformed — about events in their neighbor to the west.

Most Russians get their news from state-
controlled broadcast outlets, which have moved beyond mere propaganda into outlandish conspiracy theories and unhinged jingoism. The shoot-down of the Malaysian airliner in July, over territory controlled by Russian-sponsored militias in Ukraine, was spun by Kremlin’s media mouthpieces into aprovocation orchestrated by the West. With few countervailing views in the mainstream media, many Russians believed the spin or had no idea what to believe.

In support of those Russian-sponsored militias in eastern Ukraine, now backed by growing ranks of Russian troops and weapons, Moscow has created a fantasy that plays on Russian victimization. By this rendering, the forces backing Ukraine’s government in Kiev are fascists and neo-Nazis, a portrayal that Mr. Putin personally advanced on Friday, when he likened the Ukrainian army’s attempts to regain its own territory to the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War II, an appeal meant to inflame Russians’ already overheated nationalist emotions.

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