Did the USSR have a ‘Blue Scare’? – History Matters

Nov 1, 2021

We all know about America’s red scare in the 1950s when everyone and their mom freaked out about Communists secretly plotting to overthrow the government and eat their babies. But did the USSR have anything similar with respect to capitalists.

Did the USSR have a blue scare?

To find out the answer (it’s no) watch this short and simple animated history documentary.

Lithuania says Russian troops in Belarus pose “direct threat”

Russian troops arriving in Belarus for what Moscow and Minsk say will be joint military exercises are a direct threat to NATO member Lithuania, and could prompt Washington to station more troops in the region, Lithuania’s defence minister said.

Jan 18, 2022: Russia and Belarus will rehearse repelling an external attack when they hold joint military drills in Belarus next month, both sides said on Tuesday, at a time of acute tensions with the West over neighboring Ukraine.

Russian military forces and hardware began arriving in ex-Soviet Belarus on Monday for “Allied Resolve” drills to be held near Belarus’s western border with NATO members Poland and Lithuania and close to its southern flank with Ukraine. read more

“In the current situation, we consider the entry of Russian military forces into Belarus not only as a destabilising factor of the security situation, but also as an even greater direct threat to Lithuania,” the minister, Arvydas Anusauskas, wrote on Facebook.

Anusauskas called on NATO and the United States to react by moving more troops into the region.

“I think the U.S. moving additional capabilities to Europe now is definitely in the works, because the situation demands it,” he told reporters.

The Russian troops are raising concerns that they “potentially” could be used to attack neighbouring Ukraine, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.

The U.S. administration is worried the Russian deployment could lead to the positioning of Russian nuclear weapons on Belarus soil, some news agencies reported on Tuesday.

Anusauskas said Russia has had nuclear weapons in its Kaliningrad enclave between NATO members Lithuania and Poland “for a long time”, so their deployment in Belarus “would not radically change the situation”.

“We are saying clearly: Russia has these (nuclear) capabilities next to NATO countries, about 100 km from our borders”, he said.

May 28, 2021: Lithuanian President Says Russia Wants to Swallow Belarus

Russia said in 2018 it deployed nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad. The Iskander missiles have a range 500 km (300 miles) and can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads.


Sweden redeploys troops to the island of Gotland near Russia – euronews

Jan 15, 2022

Sweden reinforces its military presence on the island of Gotland, which is the closest part of the country to Russia.

Russia needs to stop clinging to the idea of reviving the Soviet Union, Ukraine ambassador says

  • Relations between the Kremlin and its European counterparts hit a low in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
  • Republican Senator Mitt Romney told NBC on Sunday that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to reestablish a “type of Soviet Union.”
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no bones about the fact that he thinks the breakup of the Soviet Union was a catastrophe for Russia.

Russia needs to move forward in the world and stop dreaming about reconstructing the Soviet Union, a prominent Ukrainian diplomat has told CNBC as tensions with Moscow escalate.

Jan 19, 2022: Russia talks difficult because EU ‘really dependent’ on Russian gas, Ukraine official says

“Russia needs to reinvent itself as a modern state and stop clinching to the, let’s say, idea of the reconstruction of the Soviet Union,” Vsevolod Chentsov, the Ukrainian ambassador to the EU, told CNBC Tuesday.

“It’s already gone,” he said regarding the Soviet bloc which collapsed in 1991.

Relations between the Kremlin and its European counterparts hit a low in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. And it has supported a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country where low-level fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian troops has continued ever since.

Now, U.S. officials are warning that Russia could be weighing a potential invasion of the former Soviet republic Ukraine, with the Kremlin moving 100,000 troops close to the border. Geopolitical analysts suggest that Moscow’s actions, and any incursion, would be an attempt to boost Russian influence in other parts of the region.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney told NBC on Sunday that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to reestablish a “type of Soviet Union” and “that can’t be allowed to happen.”

Mar 25, 2014: Ukraine PM: Putin intends to reinstate Soviet Union

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no bones about the fact that he thinks the breakup of the Soviet Union was a catastrophe for Russia, once describing it as the “greatest geopolitical tragedy” of the 20th century.

Evolution of the EU position

Other experts suggest that the Kremlin is instead trying to destabilize the European Union, the 27-member bloc that it shares several borders with. Chentsov, who works closely with Brussels, said that if this is Putin’s plan, then it is not working.

Jan 18, 2022: ‘Massive attack’ on Ukraine by Russia unlikely, EU’s Josep Borrell says

“There is more unity among the member states and more understanding of Russian actions,” he told CNBC.

“We [have] witnessed [a] gradual evolution of the EU position towards Ukraine, towards the crisis,” he said, mentioning the various statements and visits from European officials to Kyiv.

Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister Annalena Baerbock — who is among the recent flurry of European politicians to visit Ukraine — said in Moscow on Tuesday that there is “no understandable reason” for the Russian military buildup close to Ukraine.

She added that it is “hard” not to see this move as a “threat.” Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have complained about Germany’s reluctance on sending defensive weapons to help out Kyiv.

We would like to have more assistance. Also material assistance from our partners like Germany,” Chentsov said, adding that the intention is not to attack Russia, but to be able to protect Ukraine in the event of further military aggression.

When asked if Kyiv recognized that a potential German decision to send weapons to Ukraine could escalate tensions with Russia even further, Chentsov said: “We do not share this logic that it would make the situation worse.”

“We hope that the new government in Germany, they … take a fresh look at the situation,” he said.

Jan 18, 2022: German FM Baerbock in Moscow to ease Ukraine tensions

Speaking on Monday in Kyiv, Germany’s Baerbock played down the chances of Berlin changing its mind, reportedly saying the German government will be supporting Ukraine “by other means.”

The German position contrasts with a U.K. announcement on Tuesday which stated that it would be supplying Kyiv with defensive arms. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said these weapons have a “short range” and do not pose a threat to Russia, Sky News reported.

Blinken to visit Ukraine

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign affairs minister, Tuesday ahead of his trip to Ukraine and Germany this week.

“The Secretary stressed the importance of continuing a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions surrounding the deeply troubling Russian military build-up in and near Ukraine,” Blinken’s office said in a press statement.

These new conversations come just days after failed talks between Russia, the U.S. and other NATO members to resolve the ongoing tensions.

Russia said it is waiting for a written reply from the U.S. and NATO regarding its demand for a de-facto veto on any new members joining the military alliance.

In the meantime, geopolitical tensions continue to build.

On Friday, key Ukrainian government websites were subject to a cyberattack, which Ukraine has already blamed Russia for. In addition, the United States has accused Russia of preparing a pretext so that it could invade Ukraine.

Over the weekend, Sweden also moved troops to its strategically-important island in the Baltic Sea, Gotland.


Blinken warns Ukraine faces ‘unprecedented threat’ from Russia – Al Jazeera

Jan 19, 2022

Russia could invade Ukraine at “very short notice”.

That is the warning from the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who is in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, to reaffirm Washington’s commitment.

Al Jazeera’s Victoria Gatenby reports.

Far-right French presidential candidate found guilty of racist hate speech

Éric Zemmour drew widespread outrage in September 2020 after a tirade against child migrants

A French court has found the far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour guilty of racist hate speech for a tirade against unaccompanied child migrants.

Jan 17, 2022: French far-right presidential candidate Zemmour convicted for racist hate speech

Zemmour drew widespread outrage in September 2020 when he told the CNews channel that child migrants were “thieves, killers, they’re rapists. That’s all they are. We should send them back.”

Zemmour, a media pundit who is struggling to assemble the endorsements from elected officials he needs to compete in April’s presidential vote, did not show up in court to hear the verdict, having already skipped his trial in November.

The court fined him €10,000 (£8,350) in daily instalments of €100 over 100 days. He could be jailed if he fails to pay the sum. Zemmour’s lawyer, Olivier Pardo, said he would appeal against the verdict.

Last year, Zemmour claimed the case was “nothing other than another attempt to intimidate me”, saying “they won’t shut me up”.

The far-right journalist and author has two previous convictions for hate speech and has been investigated 16 times in total over incendiary remarks on immigration and Islam.

In 2011, he was fined €10,000 for claiming on TV that “most drug dealers are black and Arab”. In 2018, he was ordered to pay €3,000 for comments about a Muslim “invasion” of France.

His entrance into frontline politics after a career spent in the media sent waves through the French ruling class in September, making him briefly the most talked-about challenger to the president, Emmanuel Macron.

Like all candidates in the race, Zemmour needs to muster 500 endorsements from elected figures around the country by the middle of March in order to have his name on the ballot for the two rounds of voting in April.

Dec 5, 2021: Clashes erupt as far-right presidential candidate Zemmour holds first rally

But he has admitted he risks being excluded unless more mayors and other elected figures agree to back him under a system he has denounced as discriminating against political outsiders.


UK bill ‘limiting’ right to protest sparks outrage – DW News

Jan 17, 2022

People have been rallying in cities across the UK to protest against a new bill they say is an attack on the right to demonstrate. The controversial ‘police and crime bill’ would grant police greater powers to crack down on disruptive protests, but critics say it will also make it more difficult to hold peaceful demonstrations.

Let’s talk about identifying with the bad guy a little more – Beau of the Fifth Column

Jan 18, 2022

Liz Cheney’s Wyoming Nemesis Is an Oath Keeper Who Was at Capitol Rally

Frank Eathorne, chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party, is a leading figure in the campaign to unseat Liz Cheney. He’s also a member of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group.

When the Department of Justice indicted members of the Oath Keepers last week for their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, one Republican official might have taken more notice of the arrests than others.

Nov 16, 2021: Wyoming GOP Votes To Stop Recognizing Liz Cheney As A Republican

Frank Eathorne, who was revealed in a leak last year to be one of 191 Wyoming-based members of the far-right militia group, was in Washington for protests on Jan. 6. But Eathorne is no rank-and-file fringe crank. He is the sitting chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party.

That role has made him one of the more influential Republican officials in the country. Eathorne is presiding over what is perhaps the GOP’s highest-profile primary battle of the 2022 election: the MAGA-fueled campaign to unseat Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her unrelenting criticism of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

And rather than remain neutral, Eathorne has been one of the top figures fighting to defeat Cheney. He has appeared frequently in conservative media to denounce her since her January 2021 vote to impeach Trump for inciting the riot, which kicked off the nasty primary campaign.

In February 2021, Eathorne supported an effort by the party to formally censure Cheney, which narrowly succeeded. In November, he presided over a successful vote to no longer recognize Cheney as a member of the Republican Party.

But the Oath Keepers indictments mean that Eathorne’s aggressive efforts to keep the pressure on Cheney—in hopes of replacing her with a MAGA acolyte—are going to be complicated by his association with an extremist group facing grave, and rare, federal criminal charges.

Aside from his aggressive efforts to bring down Cheney, Eathorne has made national news for amplifying the most fringe of right-wing ideas. Appearing on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in 2021, he expressed interest in the idea of Wyoming seceding from the United States. The remark prompted a quick and strident rebuke from Bannon.

In 2022, state and local Republican Party organizations are home to figures like Eathorne. But Eathorne stands out for his association with the Oath Keepers, as well as his participation in the Jan. 6 riots.

Of the 700-plus Capitol rioters who have been charged with a crime, Oath Keeper leaders and members are facing some of the most serious prosecutions. Eleven members of the Oath Keepers—including the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes—have been charged with “seditious conspiracy.”

These charges cover the specific crime of conspiring to overthrow the government or disrupt its functioning, and they are rarely brought. The federal government has not charged anyone on these grounds since 2010.

Jan 13, 2022: Oath Keepers leader charged with seditious conspiracy

In fall 2021, a whistleblower group called Distributed Denial of Secrets published a trove of hacked documents and information about the Oath Keepers. The identities of more than 38,000 members were in that data dump, sparking nationwide scrutiny on politicians and law enforcement officers who were named.

In the aftermath, BuzzFeed News reported that 28 elected officials nationwide were Oath Keepers, including a pair of GOP state legislators from Alaska and Arizona who traveled to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Using that data, the Wyoming-based news site WyoFile reported in December that Eathorne, along with former governor candidate Taylor Haynes, were members of the militia group.

Lindsay Schubiner, program director at the Western States Center—a nonprofit advocacy group that tracks far-right extremism, particularly in the West—called the militia membership of party figures like Eathorne a “dangerous signal about the state of our democracy.”

“It’s troubling to see leaders in institutions that should be engaging in the democratic process not only condone paramilitaries, but officially join them,” Schubiner said.

Eathorne did not respond to a request for comment.

The Republican National Committee, which oversees state-level GOP organizations, did not respond to questions about whether Eathorne should remain the leader of the Wyoming GOP, nor did Sens. John Barrasso or Cynthia Lummis, the state’s two Republican U.S. senators. A Cheney spokesperson also declined to comment on Eathorne.

But Cheney has made no secret of her views on Eathorne. “Certainly, there are people in the state party apparatus of my home state who are quite radical,” Cheney said during an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier on Jan. 7. “And some of those same people, include people who were here on Jan. 6, include a party chair who has toyed with the idea of secession.”

Eathorne was not mentioned in the federal indictment of Oath Keepers, and he has not been arrested or charged with any offense in relation to Jan. 6.

In a statement a day after the insurrection, Eathorne confirmed he was in Washington for the events, including “a brief stop in the vicinity of the Capitol building property.”

“I retired from the public gathering near mid-afternoon and watched the news of some reported events I personally had not witnessed,” Eathorne said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center now describes the Oath Keepers as one of the largest far-right groups operating in the U.S. today. Many of its members are former military and law enforcement personnel.

The federal government’s filing details a painstaking plan by Rhodes and his fellow militiamen to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory to ensure Trump remained in power.

The indictment alleges that the defendants “conspired through a variety of manners and means,” including recruiting members to come to Washington on Jan. 6 and procuring and transporting paramilitary gear and weapons.

It is also alleged that the defendants used organized, military-style tactics to breach the U.S. Capitol that day “in an effort to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote.”

If convicted, defendants face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. Nine of the 11 Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy have already been charged with other crimes in connection with Jan. 6.

Schubiner, with the Western States Center, emphasized that while the Oath Keepers are known for their far-right, anti-government, and frequently bigoted views, the insurrection underscored that they are focused on seizing power. The mainstreaming of their members, she said, is part of achieving that goal.

“It’s incredibly important for Republican leaders and any political leaders,” she said, “to denounce affiliations with paramilitary groups, if they do not want their party to become identified with those groups.”


Revealed: The Billionaires Funding the Coup’s Brain Trust

Conservative mega-donors including the DeVoses and Bradleys are pumping big money into the Claremont Institute think tank that fueled Trump’s election-fraud fantasies

The Claremont Institute, once a little-known think tank often confused with the liberal-arts college of the same name, has emerged as a driving force in the conservative movement’s crusade to use bogus fraud claims about the 2020 election to rewrite voting laws and remake the election system in time for the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election. Most infamously, one of the group’s legal scholars crafted memos outlining a plan for how then-Vice President Mike Pence could potentially overturn the last election.

Nov 8, 2021: How Pro-Trump Group’s Election Fanfic Imagined The Aftermath Of 2020 Election

Conservative mega-donors like what they see.

The biggest right-wing megadonors in America made major contributions to Claremont in 2020 and 2021, according to foundation financial records obtained by Rolling Stone. The high-profile donors include several of the most influential families who fund conservative politics and policy: the DeVoses of West Michigan, the Bradleys of Milwaukee, and the Scaifes of Pittsburgh.

The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation donated $240,000 to Claremont in 2020 and approved another $400,000 to be paid out in the future, tax records show. The Bradley Foundation donated $100,000 to Claremont in 2020 and another $100,000 in 2021, according to tax records and a spokeswoman for the group. The Sarah Scaife Foundation, one of several charities tied to the late right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, supplied another $450,000 to Claremont in 2020, according to its latest tax filings.

Claremont’s own tax filings show that its revenue rose from 2019 to 2020 by a half-million dollars to $6.2 million, one of the highest sums since the organization was founded in 1979, according to the most recent available data. A Claremont spokesman said the group wouldn’t comment about its donors beyond publicly available data but estimated that Claremont’s revenue for the 2021 fiscal year had increased to $7.5 million.

The DeVoses, Bradleys, and Scaifes are among the most prominent donor families in conservative politics. For Bradley and Scaife, the giving to Claremont tracks with a long history of funding right-wing causes and advocacy groups, from the American Enterprise Institute think tank and the “bill mill” American Legislative Exchange Council, to anti-immigration zealot David Horowitz’s Freedom Center and the climate-denying Heartland Institute.

Bradley in particular has given heavily to groups that traffic in misleading or baseless claims about “election integrity” or widespread “voter fraud.” Thanks to a $6.5 million infusion from the Bradley Impact Fund, a related nonprofit, the undercover-sting group Project Veritas nearly doubled its revenue in 2020 to $22 million, according to the group’s tax filing. Bradley is also a long-time funder of the Heritage Foundation, which helped architect the wave of voter suppression bills introduced in state legislatures this year, and True the Vote, a conservative group that trains poll watchers and stokes fears of rampant voter fraud in the past.

The Bradley Foundation was founded in 1942 by the Bradley family. Brothers Harry and Lynde Bradley co-founded the Allen-Bradley company, which would later provide much of the funding for the Bradley Foundation. The nonprofit, which has given out more than $1 billion in its history, no longer has any Bradley family members on its board.

But while the Bradley donations are to be expected, the contributions from the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation to Claremont are perhaps more surprising. Betsy DeVos, in one of her final acts as Trump’s education secretary, condemned the “angry mob” on January 6 and said “the law must be upheld and the work of the people must go on.”

A spokesman for the DeVoses, Nick Wasmiller, said Betsy DeVos’s letter “speaks for itself.” He added: “Claremont does work in many areas. It would be baseless to assert the Foundation’s support has any connection to the one item you cite.” While the foundation’s 2020 tax filing said its grants to Claremont were unrestricted, Wasmiller said the filing was wrong and the money had been earmarked. However, he declined to say what it was earmarked for.

The donations flowing into Claremont illustrate that although the group’s full-throated support for Trump and fixation on election crimes may be extreme, they’re not fringe views when they have the backing of influential conservative funders. “Were it not for the patronage of billionaire conservatives and their family foundations, the Claremont Institute would likely be relegated to screaming about its anti-government agenda on the street corner,” says Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog group Accountable.US.

The Claremont spokesman responded to Herrig’s comment by saying “We think the dark money behind Accountable.US, under left-wing umbrella groups like Arabella Advisors, are threats to democracy and Western civilization. We defer to Herrig’s expertise on street corners.”

Jan 7, 2022: Why American Fascism Is On The Rise

The Claremont Institute’s mission, as its president, Ryan Williams, recently put it, is to “save Western civilization.” Since the 2016 presidential race, Claremont tried to give an intellectual veneer to the frothy mix of nativism and isolationism represented by candidate Donald Trump. The think tank was perhaps best known for its magazine, the Claremont Review of Books, and on the eve of the ’16 election, the Review published an essay called “The Flight 93 Election,” comparing the choice facing Republican voters to that of the passengers who ultimately chose to bring down the fourth plane on September 11th. If conservatives didn’t rush the proverbial cockpit, the author, identified by the pen name Publius Decius Mus, “death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.”

The essay’s author, later revealed to be a conservative writer named Michael Anton, went to work in the Trump White House, which made sense given his description in “Flight 93 Election” of “the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle.”

Former Claremont scholars said they were aghast by the think tank’s full-on embrace of Trump in 2016. “The Claremont Institute spent 36 years as a resolutely anti-populist institution, [and] preached rightly that norms and institutions were hard to build and easy to destroy, so to watch them suddenly embrace Trump in May 2016 was like if PETA suddenly published a barbecue cookbook,” one former fellow told Vice News.

In recent years, the think tank courted controversy when it awarded paid fellowships to Jack Posobiec, a right-wing influencer who was an early promoter of the Seth Rich and Pizzagate conspiracy theories, and Charlie Kirk, head of the pro-Trump activist group Turning Point USA who has pushed baseless election-fraud theories and vowed to defend young people who wouldn’t refused vaccination from what he called “medical apartheid.”

Jan 16, 2021: Charlie Kirk’s Deleted Tweets About US Capitol Siege Involvement

But Claremont wouldn’t fully land in the spotlight until the end of Trump’s presidency. On Jan. 6, John Eastman, a law professor and Claremont scholar, spoke at the “Save America” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, that preceded the Capitol insurrection. Eastman repeated several election-related conspiracy theories, alleging that “machines contributed to that fraud” by “unloading the ballots from the secret folder,” a version of the rampant conspiracy theories spread by Trump campaign lawyers about the company Dominion Voting Systems.

As would later be revealed, Eastman also wrote two memos outlining a plan for how then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 result on January 6. “The main thing here is that Pence should do this without asking for permission — either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court,” Eastman wrote. “Let the other side challenge his actions in court…” (Worth noting: The Claremont Review would later publish its own critique of Eastman’s memos by a professor of government and ethics at Claremont McKenna college. After walking through a key piece of Eastman’s argument, the professor, Joseph Bessette, wrote: “One doesn’t have to be a scholar of the American Founding, a professor of constitutional law, or an expert in election law to know that this simply cannot be right.”)

Claremont continues to push the stolen-election myth and has apparently helped state lawmakers draft legislation to make election laws more favorable to the Republican Party. In October, Claremont President Ryan Williams told an undercover liberal activist that Eastman was “still very involved with a lot of the state legislators and advising them on election integrity stuff.”

Williams went on to tell the undercover activist, Lauren Windsor, that Eastman’s position was this: “Look, unless we get right what happened in 2020, there’s no moving on. They’re just going to steal every subsequent election.”

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