UK claims of Russia spying on Skripals is a ‘big surprise’ – Russian Ambassador Yakovenko

Speaking at a press conference in London on Friday morning, Yakovenko was asked about a newly declassified letter by Downing Street to NATO claiming Russia has been hacking into the emails of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia for the past five years. He said Prime Minister Theresa May’s government should have sent the allegations directly to Russia.

“If someone was spying, why were the British services not complaining about that?” Yakovenko told reporters.

“They always complain if something goes wrong. We didn’t see any signs, any applications from the British side that they are not happy with the way Skripals were living in Salisbury.”

The letter by National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also contained allegations of Russians smearing nerve agents onto door handles to assess their effectiveness.

Police investigating the Salisbury poisoning said the highest concentration of the Novichok nerve agent had been found on Sergei Skripal’s front door.

The letter also claimed that the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals had most likely been made at a laboratory in Shikhany, near Volgograd, which is a branch of the State Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology.

Yakovenko said the UK appears to be pursuing a policy of “destroying evidence” in the Skripal case. He reiterated Russia’s dismay over the British government’s refusal to allow Russian diplomats access to Skripal and his daughter. He added that Moscow believes the two Russian nationals have been abducted by British authorities.

Russia vehemently denies being behind the attack in Salisbury. It accuses the UK of denying it a chance to directly examine samples of the agent.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zakharova said: “Even if it’s Novichok, about 20 countries produced it. About 20 countries could have developed this chemical material – why have they pointed at Russia?”

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The Weeknd lets down his guard on surprise EP ‘My Dear Melancholy’

Canadian singer-songwriter The Weeknd dropped his surprise release My Dear Melancholy, on March 30. The 6-track EP sees him seemingly reflect on his heartbreak this past year while returning to his alt-R&B roots.

My Dear Melancholy, comes on the heels of The Weeknd’s 2016 album Starboy. On the aforementioned effort, he delved deeply into pop music, channeling ‘80s Michael Jackson and Prince on some tracks. In early 2017, he started dating pop superstar Selena Gomez. While in the midst of his extensive Starboy: Legend of the Fall World Tour, the two would later break up that October. The music on Melancholy appears to touch on the demise of their relationship and his fallout afterword. “I said I didn’t feel nothing, babe, but I lied,” he sings on opener “Call Out My Name.” “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life,” The Weeknd adds as a possible allusion to Gomez’s kidney transplant last year following complications with her Lupus diagnosis.

On the EP, The Weeknd worked with collaborators both old and new. He re-teamed with “Pray For Me” producer Frank Dukes on most of the project, including “Call.” Mike Will Made It returned the favor as a producer on “Try Me” and Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo from “Starboy” and “I Feel it Coming” comes back on “Hurt You.” French DJ Gesaffelstein, who worked on Kanye West‘s Yeezus, was brought into the fold as featured act on “Hurt” and “I Was Never There.” The resulting sounds on Melancholy eschews the pop of Starboy for industrial hip-hop beats and electronica-tinged R&B. The Weeknd is on the prowl again, declaring, “And now I know relationship’s my enemy,” on “Hurt.” Then he’s back on loose loving with “Wasted Times,” singing, “I ain’t got no business catchin’ feelings.”

The Weeknd is all in his feelings on Melancholy. The invincible “Starboy” comes crashing down to Earth thanks to the girl who broke his heart. “I’m on the edge of breaking,” he acknowledges on the vulnerable “I Was Never There.” While continuing to take R&B to cool and exciting places, the promising EP makes way for the return of mixtape era Weeknd. On the closer “Privilege,” he says, “I’ma drink my pain away / I’ll be back to my old ways.”

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With Kim Jong Un's Surprise Visit, China Sends A Clear Message: It Will Not Be Excluded

Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stunned the diplomatic world this week with an unannounced bilateral meeting in the Chinese capital. 

Replete with surprise sightings of Kim’s bulletproof train and an elaborate banquet, experts say the secret Beijing visit was a carefully choreographed message from China to the United States and South Korea, who are jointly focused on achieving Pyongyang’s denuclearization.

Forced Into A Corner

The summit between Kim and Xi follows the extraordinary announcement earlier this month that Trump and Kim had agreed to meet by May to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. 

The overture was a stunning change in posture after months of escalating threats and warmongering between Washington and Pyongyang, and was maneuvered by the diplomatic gymnastics of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Since his election in last May, Moon has made a fierce effort to prevent any kind of military confrontation on the Korean peninsula. The South Koreans continuously sought relations with the North and facilitated messages between Pyongyang and Washington. Moon has organized an inter-Korean summit with Kim in late April, and proposed last week that he and Trump could even hold a three-way summit with Kim if their respective talks with the North Korean leader go well.

China has watched these events unfold from the sidelines with increasing “exclusion anxiety,” according to Yun Sun, co-director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center, a research institute in Washington.

“China probably didn’t see many other options than to reach out to North Korea. It was almost forced into a corner,” she said.

“In the past, China has seen the North Korean nuclear issue as a form of leverage in its relationship with the United States, and it has extracted a lot of bargaining power out of that issue with the Americans. It has seen itself as an integral ― if not the central ― player in this issue. It does not want to be reduced to being a bystander.”

China is afraid that its exclusion from international efforts to denuclearize North Korea could have broader implications down the road, Yun continued. The Chinese fear that a rapprochement between Kim and Trump could diminish China’s influence over the Korean peninsula, facilitate the unification of the peninsula and ultimately create a U.S. military ally along the Chinese border. 

“It’s a far-fetched possibility, but nevertheless, it is a possibility,” said Yun. 

The meeting with Kim has got Xi “back in the game,” echoed Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

“Xi Jinping and China have really been marginalized over the last few weeks as the inter-Korean relationship has begun to improve,” Glaser noted. This week’s meeting, she believes, allowed Xi to shore up his relationship with North Korea and convey some of the outcomes China would like to see from Kim’s meeting with Trump. 

Beijing And Washington’s Divided Interests

From Trump’s perspective, China’s role in addressing the nuclear threat from North Korea has, in many ways, been disappointing. The U.S. president had expressed hope that Xi would cooperate by restricting Beijing’s trade relations with Pyongyang, which has only happened to a limited degree thus far.

“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” Trump told the Financial Times last year, after repeatedlytweeting about his frustrations over Beijing’s apparent unwillingness to help rein in the North.

Even so, Trump has continued to push China to leverage its economic influence over North Korea.

China is the North’s biggest trading partner, and has historically opposed harsh international sanctions on the isolated nation to prevent a regime collapse and consequent influx of North Korean refugees. The countries’ relations have worsened in recent months, however, as China bowed to international pressure and backed tougher U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang.

Experts worry that Beijing and Washington’s competing objectives and foreign policy disputes could hinder efforts to peacefully resolve tensions with North Korea, even at this critical time. 

“The Chinese have always been fearful that [the American-North Korean relationship] could improve in a way that could be harmful to Chinese interests, or that somehow North Korea could be transformed into a partner of the United States. It sounds crazy, but I hear them say this all the time,” said Glaser.

She believes that the best possible approach to denuclearizing North Korea involves multilateral cooperation and trust, but said Kim has successfully undermined hopes of a collaborative effort by turning South Korean, Chinese and American officials against one another.

“It is in Kim’s interest to divide the United States from South Korea and China, and try to get whatever he can from each of these countries. If all three of them were aligned against North Korea, that would be the worst outcome for Kim,” she said. “He’s playing a weak hand very, very well.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Surprise! Assistant Director of FBI’s Girlfriend is Illegal Alien on NBC’s ‘Blindspot’

There was a real plot twist in the personal life of FBI Assistant Director Edgar Reade (Rob Brown) in the March 2 episode of NBC’s Blindspot, titled “Warning Shot.” His girlfriend, Meg Butani (Reshma Shetty), reveals to FBI Special Agent Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza) that she is an illegal alien. Oh, by the way, Meg is a high profile journalist who was in a storyline about African refugees.

Would someone in the FBI, especially someone so high up in the organization, be willing to risk his career with a romance with an illegal alien? Well, maybe, given all the political corruption we’ve seen lately in the headlines these days.

Naturally, Meg feels entitled to remain in America even though she never went through the legal process, even when she learned of her dilemma at the age of 16 years old when she tried to get a driver’s license. At least Meg finally snaps out of the sadness of her illegal life in America to ask what any reasonable person would – how did she get mixed up personally with Reade, given his position?



Meg: My family came from India when I was 6. My uncle arranged our papers, and we thought everything was okay. Then, when I was 16, I took my documents to the DMV to get my driver’s license… The lady at the counter took one look at them and said that if I didn’t want to get arrested I should burn the whole pile.

Tasha: Your uncle got you fakes.

Meg: I’ve gone to college. I’ve paid taxes. I’ve worked at two high-profile newspapers without being discovered. But everything that I do, it’s a roll of the dice.

Tasha: That’s a horrible way to live.

Meg: But not as bad as the idea of being shipped off to a place that I barely remember. This is my home. I love this country. And I’m proud of what I have contributed.

Tasha: As you should be. Who else knows?

Meg: Just a few people over the years. You can’t do it alone. You need allies, people that you can trust.

Tasha: And you can trust me.

Meg: Of course.

Tasha: Okay, I’m just gonna say it. You’re undocumented, and you decide to date the Assistant Director of the FBI?

Meg: He didn’t exactly lead with that. And by the time I knew, it was too late. I was in love.

Oops. Too late. She was already in love with Reade.

So, as the episode continues, we learn that Reade has drawn a friend into the situation. This friend works for the State Department. Reade asks him to look into Meg’s status and find out if he can pave the way for her to become a legal resident. The agent can’t but he lays the blame on the fact that “some things at the upper levels of the State Department have changed… Everything is under more intense scrutiny including sensitive immigration issues.” There it is. The mandatory swipe at the Trump administration’s serious approach to illegal immigration. The lefties in Hollywood are so predictable.


Reade: Jonathan. Didn’t expect to see you so soon.

Jonathan: I’m here on other business. I only have a minute, but we need to talk.

Reade: Of course. Appreciate you taking the time.

Jonathan: As I’m sure you’re aware, some things at the upper levels of the State Department have changed… A lot.

Reade: Okay.

Jonathan: And… and everything I do is under more intense scrutiny now, including sensitive immigration issues.

Reade: What are you saying?

Jonathan: I’m sorry, Edgar. My hands are tied. I can’t break the rules right now.

Reade: Whoa, whoa, whoa. No one asked you to break any rules.

Jonathan: I can’t even bend them right now. Not without compromising myself. It’s too risky. I’m late for this briefing. Be careful, okay?

Is it just me, or is everyone here just showing a blindspot for ethics? The Assistant Director of the FBI wants a friend at the State Department to fix his girlfriend’s immigration status and the State Department guy complains that the old days of turning a blind eye are over. Good grief.

The end of the episode brings Reade proposing to Meg. Sure, who didn’t see that one coming? Meg demurely reminds him that marrying her won’t change her status but Reade isn’t bothered by that. She says yes and that’s that.

Now I guess we wait and see where this plot development takes us as the season continues. Hollywood is definitely beating the drum on illegal immigration this season. It’s a bit hard to be too sympathetic, though, when the people here illegally feel so entitled.

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Incubating the “Jewmerican” Elite – A New Jewish President at Harvard – No Surprise!

Incubating the “Jewmerican” Elite – A New Jewish President at Harvard – No Surprise!


Today Dr. Duke introduced his audience to Lawrence Bacow, the new Jewish President of Harvard. He succeeds Drew Faust, a white woman who was married to a Jew, who in turn succeeded Lawrence Summers, a Jewish gangster who helped his fellow tribesmen loot Russia in the 1990s. Dr. Duke talked about the Jewish takeover of elite institutions like Harvard and Tulane in New Orleans, which is now 41% Jewish.

Dr. Slattery commented that test scores and grade are playing a decreasing role in admissions in the United States, and essays in which a student can signal his or her Jewish heritage or commitment to “progressive values” or “diversity” are becoming more important. He noted a student who was admitted to Stanford after having written an essay that simply repeated #BlackLivesMatter 100 times.

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Take a look at the Carl Bernstein statement on Jewish Neocons causing the Iraq War, as referenced by Dr. Duke:

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