Gerry Cranham They all fall in the round I call 1963
Don't eat anything that grows here
Don't drink the water
Don't burn any wood or vegetative matter
Don't eat any animals that were fed from or watered here
Don't live downstream from here
Don't take soil from here
The land is wasted forever once we do this to it pic.twitter.com/pxpQJCcz67
— UAE Exotic Falconry & Finance (@FalconryFinance) February 15, 2023
Are Americans deliberately being poisoned? pic.twitter.com/LRM9LZlWhw
— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) February 15, 2023
“Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.”
– Salman Rushdie, 1991
And people believe this
Andrey Sushentsov, Valdai Club program director. Well argued.
It is unlikely that President Vladimir Zelensky expects to win militarily. But it seems that he genuinely believes that he will succeed in turning Ukraine into something like Israel – a paramilitary state living with a sense of constant military threat. Ukraine doesn’t have the military or economic resources of its own to achieve victory, and the resources provided by the West will never be enough to inflict a final defeat on Russia. Zelensky’s calculation is likely based on the belief that by offering Ukraine as a tool for NATO to use against Russia, he will constantly mobilize Western support and thereby ensure his own survival, and that of his associates. In the worst-case scenario, as he sees it, Zelensky is probably counting on emigrating to the West with his closest associates, where they will advocate a continued policy of Russian containment.
But does he care about the interests of ordinary people in Ukraine? The unprecedented hardships of war that the country now faces could have been significantly reduced if Zelensky had been willing to settle the crisis diplomatically. Russia has repeatedly taken diplomatic initiatives to resolve this conflict. In the first phase, for example, negotiations took place in Belarus and Turkey. However, under the influence of the US and the UK, Kiev has set a course to prolong the conflict, banking on Western military assistance to achieve its goals. As Ukraine’s own military and economic resources have dried up, the country has become increasingly dependent on Western supplies, and has ultimately become a tool to fight Russia. Nevertheless, Kiev still has the opportunity to begin talks with Moscow.
Zelensky could take the initiative to negotiate a status quo that is still comfortable for Ukraine. Of course, as the Russian military campaign progresses, the situation will change in ways that are far from favorable to Kiev. And the solutions put forward by the Russian delegation at the beginning of the crisis will no longer be on the table. However, there is still the possibility of a sustainable peace, with reduced risks of escalation into Europe’s biggest military conflict since the Second World War and a nuclear catastrophe. Zelensky could still claim the laurels of a peacemaker who sacrificed some of his personal ambition in the name of saving Ukrainian lives and ensuring a peaceful future for his country.
A truce would alleviate the economic difficulties of Kiev’s supporters in the West, and thus generate some gratitude. Ukraine would also save a considerable amount of its military resources. Peace would obviously limit them, as deliveries would dry up, but those resources in situ would still be at the disposal of the Ukrainian government. Yet, Zelensky’s government acts as if it sees no value in preserving Ukrainian statehood. The administration is squandering citizens’ lives and the economic fabric of the country in the belief that this sacrifice is necessary to gain some possible, rather indefinite, advantage in the future. Instead of acting as a peacemaker, as someone who is prepared to make sacrifices to save the lives of his people, Zelensky acts like a gambler, while feeding the population military propaganda.
[..] Zelensky expects that even if he is defeated and loses part of his territory, he will remain in power as the military leader the West needs for the new Ukraine, which will be the main anti-Russian outpost on NATO’s eastern borders. One that will be armed to the teeth, saturated with Western economic aid and that will provide its citizens with an acceptable standard of living. I believe that Zelensky is genuinely convinced he will succeed in turning Ukraine into something like Israel, a paramilitary state in a hostile environment, and living with a sense of constant military threat. I do not exclude the possibility that even in the worst-case scenario, where there is a complete collapse of his government, Zelensky expects to find himself and a group of his closest associates in exile in the West. Once there, they will actively advocate a continued policy of containment and defeat of Russia. History shows that this prospect has every chance of materializing.
Actually, he says the US wants no responsibility for it: “A move on Crimea would be “Kiev’s decision alone..”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was not “actively encouraging” Ukraine to seize Crimea from Russia, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing four people familiar with the top diplomat’s Zoom call with a group of experts. A move on Crimea would be “Kiev’s decision alone,” Blinken was quoted as saying. According to the report, the remarks came after a person on the call asked Blinken if the US would help Kiev retake the Black Sea peninsula, which Ukrainian and Western officials consider illegally occupied by Russia. Blinken was said to have replied that this would be “a red line” for Russian President Vladimir Putin and would trigger “a wider Russian response.” Two of the people quoted by Politico said Blinken led them to believe that the US does not consider a potential operation to seize Crimea “a wise move at this time.”
However, the diplomat did not say this explicitly, they stressed. Blinken instead said that Washington is focusing on helping Kiev “where the fight is,” according to Politico. Crimea voted in a referendum to split with Ukraine and join Russia shortly after the 2014 Western-backed coup in Kiev. Ukrainian officials have since maintained that the return of the peninsula is their long-term goal. “There is perfect solidarity within the Ukrainian public about achieving this goal,” President Vladimir Zelensky told France’s TF1 TV in December. Major General Kirill Budanov, Kiev’s top military intelligence official, told local media the same month that Ukrainian troops would “enter” Crimea sometime in the future. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow would use all means at its disposal to defend Russian territories, including Crimea.
Without China (+India?!), there will be no solution.
China is ready to join forces with the international community to promote a political solution for the crisis in Ukraine, Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee said in a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Wednesday. “China stands ready to cooperate with the international community, including France, to promote a path of political solution [for the conflict], and reach a ceasefire at an early date,” Wang Yi was quoted as saying by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in a statement on its website.
He also said China attached importance to France’s role as an independent major country in the efforts to resolve the crisis. Wang Yi said that China had adopted an objective and impartial attitude in the Ukrainian issue and was always committed to promoting peace talks. The Chinese Foreign Ministry earlier reported that Wang Yi was set to visit France, Italy, Hungary and Russia from February 14-22. He’s also scheduled to participate in the Munich Security Conference that will take place from February 17-19.
Hersh’s new Substack piece is behind a paywall. And as much as I understand why, the Automatic Earth doesn’t do paywalls.
Journalist Seymour Hersh has promised to reveal more incriminating information linking the US to the demolition of the Nord Stream gas pipelines. President Joe Biden ordered the lines destroyed to prevent Germany from resuming the purchase of cheap Russian gas, he claimed. In a post to his Substack page on Wednesday, Hersh slammed the mainstream media – singling out the New York Times and Washington Post – for refusing to “run a word” on the pipeline story, and for ignoring Russia and China’s calls for an international investigation. Both papers, he said, published his exposés on the US military’s war crimes in Vietnam, but are now seemingly uninterested in “national security or matters of war and peace.”
Nord Stream 1 and 2, which connected Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, were damaged in a series of underwater explosions last September. Hersh, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, released a report last week blaming the US for the attack and detailing how the Biden administration and the CIA planned the operation. The White House dismissed the allegation as “utterly false and complete fiction.” The article backed up Moscow’s repeated assertions that the US carried out the strike in order to prevent rapprochement between Russia and Germany, while making Berlin dependent on more expensive American liquefied natural gas.
Germany halted certification of Nord Stream 2 in the days before Russian troops entered Ukraine, and EU sanctions throttled the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1 since late summer by impeding vital repairs. However, Hersh told Germany’s Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday that the Biden administration feared Berlin would lift these sanctions and resume gas transit as temperatures dropped over the winter. “The President of the United States would rather see Germany freeze than [see] Germany possibly stop supporting Ukraine,” he asserted. “There may be more to learn about Joe Biden’s decision to prevent the German government from having second thoughts about the lack of cheap gas this winter,” Hersh wrote on Wednesday. “Stay tuned,” he said. “We are only on first base…”
“The Russian side won’t allow the situation with the explosions at the critical energy infrastructure to be downplayed..”
Russia believes the explosions at the Nord Stream pipelines were attacks by international terrorists, Igor Girenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy to the US, said in a statement on Wednesday. “We qualify the incident as an act of international terrorism that requires a comprehensive and independent investigation,” the statement said. “It wouldn’t hurt if the US, which claims the monopoly on the truth, shifted from empty accusations directed at us to the matter at hand and at least try to prove it wasn’t involved in the destruction of the gas pipelines.” The embassy pointed to the unrestrained reaction of the US State Department spokesman Ned Price “to a completely reasonable question from journalists about how the administration would feel about the involvement of the UN in the search for those responsible for the unprecedented sabotage attack in the Baltic Sea.”
“The interest of the correspondents was more than justified, given the total disregard by the US government – with the tacit consent of domestic media – of the resonant investigation of the Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh,” Russian embassy spokesman said. “The Russian side won’t allow the situation with the explosions at the critical energy infrastructure to be downplayed, especially given that there’s no information about several undetonated explosives that have apparently remained on the sea bed,” he said. On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news conference that the United States has nothing to do with the explosions at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines and is ready to reiterate this at a meeting of the UN Security Council. Price described reports that Washington was behind the explosions as complete misinformation.
Unfortunately the subtitles in the first version sometimes cut off the last line of the translation…. I am sorry! Here is the corrected version: pic.twitter.com/0xt8ZUpZjt
— Sevim Dağdelen, MdB (@SevimDagdelen) February 14, 2023
No, a neutral source should do it. China, India.
The explosions on Nord Stream pipelines did not take place on US soil so Washington thinks it would be most appropriate for the countries whose territory was involved to investigate them, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday. “I would leave it to our partners on whose territory – on whose soil as it were – these blasts occurred to speak to the appropriate investigative mechanisms,” Price said during the daily briefing. Price declined to comment on the news that Russia has called a session of the UN Security Council for next week, with the intent to seek an international investigation into the September 2022 explosions that damaged the Baltic Sea pipelines previously supplying Russian natural gas to Germany.
“I will repeat what we’ve said before: What we have heard from Moscow, what we’ve heard from the Kremlin, is nothing but a lie. It’s pure disinformation that the US was behind what transpired with Nord Stream 2, er, the Nord Stream blasts,” Price said. “This is the message that we have conveyed consistently in the face of these lies that have been parroted by Russian officials, and will convey them [sic] again if we need to, in any form.” Russia has previously said that the UK and US “benefited” from the pipeline’s destruction but stopped short of accusing Washington outright. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, however, did just that in a Substack article published last week. The Pulitzer-prize winning journalist described how the US divers planted the explosives, alleging a Norwegian airplane gave the detonation signal.
The White House dismissed Hersh’s story as “utterly false and complete fiction.” Price himself called it “utter and complete nonsense” at a briefing last week, prompting his Russian counterpart Maria Zakharova to accuse him of “once again lying live on air, openly mocking journalists who asked fully justified questions.” In an interview to the German outlet Berliner Zeitung over the weekend, Hersh stood by his claims and said that the pipelines’ destruction happened because US President Joe Biden “would rather see Germany freeze than Germany possibly stop supporting Ukraine.” Meanwhile, when asked about a possible UN probe into the Nord Stream sabotage, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday that the world body would need to “have a mandate, which we don’t, clearly.” Denmark, in whose waters the explosions happened, is a NATO member. Both it and nearby Sweden – which is trying to join the US-led bloc – have refused to even respond to Russian requests for an investigation. NATO’s current secretary-general is a former prime minister of Norway.
“..it is now only a matter of how many more Ukrainians Zelensky is willing to have die in the war effort..”
Seymour Hersh gave his first television interview since publishing his bombshell report on the Nord Stream pipelines attack that his source said was carried out by the Biden administration, which has been denied by Washington. Hersh spoke with Democracy Now! about his article and the fallout. When asked why the U.S. would carry out such a risky mission, he said, “The fear was Europe would walk away from the war.” Indeed, one of the most repeated claims by military officials and politicians in Washington is that NATO is somehow closer than ever. Russian oil and gas always “scared the hell out of Washington,” he said.
He said President Joe Biden’s thought process was likely, “I’m in a big war with Ukraine, it’s not looking good. I want to make sure I get German and West European support and I know winter’s coming…and if it’s going to be bad, I don’t want the Germans to say, ‘We’re going to check out because we’re getting massacred with no cheap fuel and our economy is going to go bonkers…We’re going to check out and we’re going to open up the gas line.’ So he took away that option.” He said the U.S. has for decades worried that cheap gas would bring Western Europe into the Russian orbit. Hersh said Biden’s decision to bomb to pipeline will severely damage the U.S. relationship with Europe as more information is released.
He said he wouldn’t think of giving a story like this to The New York Times, his one-time employer, because he said the paper decided that that Ukraine War is going to be won by Ukraine. “I just did my reporting,” he said. “There’s no question that there has been a polarization of the press since [former President Donald] Trump got in. We’re now on two sides: right, left….Democrat, Republican.” He said the sources that he’s spoken to paint a dire picture in Ukraine, despite the coverage in the West, and that it is now only a matter of how many more Ukrainians President Volodymyr Zelensky is willing to have die in the war effort.
.@geraldcelente: "It's a whole new world. If we don't change it, it's going to be hell on earth"
Feb 19 we're going to Washington DC to Rage Against the War Machine! We rally at Lincoln Memorial, then march to the White House to demand an end to the billions going to Ukraine! pic.twitter.com/85vL411wJc
— The People’s Party (@PeoplesParty_US) February 16, 2023
Now with new sanctions..!
The West is attempting to use the Ukraine conflict to portray Russia as a “rogue state” in the eyes of the world, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday. He stressed that the strategy has not been successful. “The US and its satellite states are waging an all-encompassing hybrid war that they have long been preparing for, and are using Ukrainian radical nationalists as a battering ram against us,” Lavrov said in a speech in the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma. They are not even trying to hide the goal of this war: it is not only to defeat our country on the battlefield and destroy our economy, but also to surround us with a ‘sanitary cordon’ and turn us into a type of a rogue state.
The statement came the same day that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled proposals for a new sanctions package against Russia, including additional export bans and measures to prevent the bypassing of restrictions. Lavrov said that the West’s efforts to isolate Russia have failed because Moscow continues to develop relations with partners in other areas of the globe. He added that nations that have refused to back the “unprecedented” sanctions make up the majority of the world’s population. The countries of the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, and South America “don’t want to live in accordance with the West-centric order,” the Russian minister stated.
“So it makes perfect sense why three-quarters of the world’s countries have not joined the anti-Russian sanctions and have a reasonable view regarding the situation in Ukraine.” China and India are among the major economies that have refused to impose restrictions on Moscow. Denis Alipov, Russia’s ambassador to New Delhi, said on Tuesday that sanctions “had an opposite effect” and facilitated more trade and closer cooperation between Russia and India. Beijing, meanwhile, has accused the US of fueling the Ukraine conflict and trying to weaponize the world economy for its own benefit.
The US has absolute no interest stopping the war in Ukraine:
Senator Lindsey Graham:
"I like the path we’re on,with U.S. weapons and money, Ukraine will fight Russia to the last person" pic.twitter.com/VHUXkIlC82
— Richard (@ricwe123) February 16, 2023
“..the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had suggested in late 2022 that [..] that Ukraine had achieved the maximum territory possible in the war and that things would go worse for Ukraine if the war continued.”
The January report, Avoiding a Long War, received wide publicity and comment because it seemed to overturn a previous RAND study done in 2022 that had suggested a long war in Ukraine would benefit the US. It was widely noted that RAND receives most of its funding from the US Defense Department, and that the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had suggested in late 2022 that it was a good time for Ukraine to negotiate a cease fire. His opinion was that Ukraine had achieved the maximum territory possible in the war and that things would go worse for Ukraine if the war continued. The Chairman’s opinion was outside the official narrative at the time and did not get much traction in public.
Thus the RAND report in January was viewed as another attempt by the generals to educate the rest of the government and public that, in all likelihood, the Ukraine war would turn for the worse come the new year. The RAND report did serve to help open up space for a competing narrative that the Ukraine War was using up resources that would be better used in the competition with China, the real peer country. Thus one could argue that NATO was not giving up or losing a small war in Ukraine, but was simply reorienting efforts in preparation for the big war with China. One US general conveniently announced that he expected war with China to begin in 2025.
The February article from RAND, What Russia Got Wrong, is also a lengthy and well-written attempt at getting the new narrative in place. It serves in two ways: It explains the mainstream reported success of Ukraine in 2022 as being in large part due to mistakes by Russia and extensive support by NATO, and also warns that Russia is learning from its mistakes and will be much improved in 2023. In addition, the NATO supply of ammunition and rockets is running out and it is doubtful that NATO support will be enough in the future. While the article does not specifically call for negotiations now, it points out at the end that war is unpredictable and that Russia could win after all. The importance of the article is that it was published in Foreign Affairs magazine, the organ of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
What Russia Got Wrong shows an extensive knowledge and expertise on the part of the author. The beginning of the article lays out the author’s case: “Before the invasion, Russia’s military was larger and better equipped than Ukraine’s….Why Russia did not prevail—why it was instead stopped in its tracks, routed outside major cities, and put on the defensive—has become one of the most important questions in both U.S. foreign policy and international security more broadly.” The author then goes on for a major portion of the article explaining and answering the question. The answer included “excessive internal secrecy… an invasion plan that was riddled with faulty assumptions, arbitrary political guidance, and planning errors that departed from key Russian military principles.”
Additionally, Russia underestimated both Ukrainian resistance and Western support for Ukraine. The article goes on for many pages listing Russian military capabilities and a long list of deficiencies. The article continues to follow the official narrative through most of the many words, only to waffle at the end. One point is the emphasis on the initial thrust of the Special Military Operation (SMO) by Russia. It was very weak compared to the size of the Russian army, and the author notes it as a failure. There is a brief reference to Russian desire to avoid casualties and damage, but the author is basically looking at the situation as a military issue and assuming that major war strategy and tactics should have been followed.
“Our air defense systems are much more effective than the enemy’s..”
While Ukrainian forces are quickly incorporating munitions supplied by the West, it will take time and effort to effectively use Western fighter jets such as the US-made F-16, experts from the Wagner Group suggest. Speaking to RT on Wednesday, one of the PMC’s aircraft specialists commented on the potential deliveries of Western-designed military aircraft to Ukraine’s armed forces, as Kiev has repeatedly asked the US and its NATO partners for increasingly advanced weaponry. The Wagner expert pointed out that there would be a lot of problems with establishing repair centers and supplying spare parts for the expensive F-16 aircrafts, noting that talks about Western jet deliveries are just “noise.”
The specialist noted that it’s “unclear” what the F-16 “would even be doing here,” considering Russia’s air defense systems are all over the place and the jets will simply not be able to enter the combat area. “Our air defense systems are much more effective than the enemy’s,” he stated, noting that the Western jets are nevertheless “welcome to visit.” He also noted that Ukraine’s air force has suffered significant losses during the past year, and that most of its pilots today are “Instagram youths,” whereas Russia’s air force consists of seasoned professionals that have extensive combat experience. Meanwhile, a Wagner artillery expert admitted to RT that Kiev’s forces, on the other hand, are likely to quickly adapt to Western-supplied military hardware, noting that the Ukrainian school of artillery has always been renowned for producing high-class specialists which can effectively use any equipment.
“They are a formidable opponent,” he said, adding that Kiev’s forces are unlikely to experience any shortage of munitions or any other problems in that regard due to continued Western aid. However, he noted that NATO artillery is something the Wagner group already has had a lot of experience with. Although he refused to disclose any details about such previous encounters, he noted that the artillery systems they had come up against in the past were more advanced than what is currently being supplied to Kiev. “They have taught us a lot, and we have developed our own tactics of conducting artillery warfare. But that is our secret, our own intellectual property, so to speak,” he said.
“..only 15% of the exports ended up in the countries at risk of famine..”
Almost half of the Ukrainian wheat and corn exports to the EU ended up feeding the pigs in Spain to produce the world-famous and expensive jamon, according to an investigation by the Austrian outlet eXXpress. The bloc ended up accounting for most of Kiev’s grain exports, even though the Black Sea corridor was advertised as a way to feed Africa and Asia. An estimated 2.9 million tons of wheat and corn from Ukraine ended up in Spain, where it was used as animal feed, the Austrian outlet said on Monday. According to eXXpress, only 15% of the exports ended up in the countries at risk of famine, including 167,000 tons in Ethiopia and 65,000 tons in Sudan. “Spain paid more money – and Ukraine delivered,” the outlet said. After months of Kiev and its Western backers accusing Russia of “blockading” the Ukrainian ports, the UN and Türkiye negotiated an arrangement for exporting grain from both Ukraine and Russia, via special corridors in the Black Sea.
The “grain deal” announced in August last year was presented as a way to avoid famine in parts of Africa and Asia, dependent on imports from Russia and Ukraine that were disrupted by both the conflict and Western sanctions. From the very beginning, however, things did not go as advertised. The grain from Ukraine ended up being animal feed, and was shipped mainly to European ports and Türkiye. By December, Russian officials were saying that 6.4 million tons of Ukrainian grain had been exported to the EU, of which 43% was corn and 29% wheat. Moscow is not happy with the grain deal, either, as the portion that envisioned lifting the restrictions on Russian grain and fertilizer exports has simply been ignored by the West. The US and its allies say they never sanctioned these products.
While that is technically true, their embargo has banned all Russian ships from docking in their ports, or accessing insurance and brokerage services, in effect imposing a total blockade on commercial shipping. Spanish jamon is touted as “the finest ham in the world,” commanding premium prices on the export market. The most expensive variety, Jamon Iberico de Bellota, comes from free-range pigs that feed on acorns. The vast majority of pigs, however, are raised on industrial farms on corn-based feed. Seeking to bolster the government in Kiev, the EU had also suspended all tariffs and taxes on Ukrainian agricultural goods. The temporary arrangement was rolled out in May 2022 and is due to expire in June this year. Poland, Hungary and Romania – all of which border Ukraine – are reportedly lobbying against extending the deal, complaining that it has “disrupted competitiveness in the region” and flooded their markets with cheap Ukrainian goods.
France accusing Russia of trying to exploit Africa. What a world!
French allegations that Moscow is pursuing a neocolonialist policy in Africa turn reality upside down, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, adding that they are part of the Western proxy war against Russia. France and other European nations “committed multiple bloody atrocities on the continent,” and even today, Paris “openly considers Africa its backyard,” Lavrov said at a briefing of MPs on Wednesday. Moscow on the other hand “played the leading and decisive role in liberating the continent from the colonial yoke,” and assisted African nations in “building their statehood, forming the basis of their economies and defense,” according to the foreign minister. This assistance was often provided for free, he noted.
Several French officials, including President Emmanuel Macron, accused Russia of trying to exploit Africa. Earlier this month, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Claire Legendre slammed Moscow for what she called its “neocolonial political involvement” on the continent, claiming that Russia is using “mercenaries” in various parts of Africa. This was in response to remarks to the media by her Russian counterpart, Maria Zakharova, who accused Paris of looking down on its former colonies, and said that African nations no longer need Paris’ approval for policy decisions. In recent months, Burkina Faso, Mali, and the Central African Republic have shown France’s military forces the door. The Central African Republic invited Russia’s Wagner Group to help with its sectarian conflict. The government in Bangui has said that Russia “saved” the country.
Lavrov called the French allegations “an attempt to demonize Russia” – claims that require no comment, he added. There are remnants of European colonialism surviving today, the foreign minister said. Paris remains in control of the island of Mayotte, which it considers a French overseas department, despite multiple UN resolutions condemning its failure to return it to the Union of the Comoros. The Russian government described as ‘neocolonialist’ the international system, in which the US and its allies leverage military strength and power over key global trade and financial instruments to undercut fair competition.
These plans start with “more awareness” among young people, but it’s really all military. Seen similar stories in Holland. There’s a link with increasing arms purchases.
A number of high-ranking military officials have joined some politicians in calling for Germany to bring back compulsory military service, and the AfD parliamentary group has now tabled a motion to discuss the possibility in Germany’s parliament next month. The motion entitled “Reactivation of conscription” will be debated in the Bundestag on March 3, after which the proposal will be referred to the parliament’s defense committee for further deliberation. Military personnel have called for a return to military service, which was phased out under former chancellor Angela Merkel in 2011, in order to replenish the German army’s depleting numbers. The Bundeswehr currently has 183,500 active personnel, ranking it the 28th largest army in the world.
Proposals to bring back military service were initiated by newly appointed Defense Minister Boris Pistorius who suggested such a move would restore a “connection to civic society at large” for a German youth that has lost its sense of civic duty. In condemning recent attacks on emergency responders and police officers, Pistorius told Bavarian newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, “It appears that the people have lost the awareness that they themselves are part of the state and of society. Taking responsibility for a set period could open eyes and ears to that.” Calls were swiftly rejected by other members of the German federal government. Finance Minister Christian Lindner told the same newspaper the debate was a “phantom dispute” and insisted the government’s efforts “have to be concentrated on strengthening the Bundeswehr as a highly professional army.”
Government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit dismissed the proposal as “nonsensical.” However, military leaders appear to be on the side of some form of conscription. “I believe that a nation that needs to become more resilient in times like these will have a higher level of awareness if it is mixed through with soldiers,” said Jan Christian Kaack, the chief of the German navy. Following the announcement of the parliamentary debate, AfD MP Rüdiger Lucassen told German news outlet Junge Freiheit: “The arguments against conscription were always bogus arguments,” and insisted the Bundeswehr in its current capacity “is not capable of national defense because of its lack of personnel.”
Only conservative sites.
Goodbye Disinformation Board, Hello Disinformation Index. Less than a year after many celebrated the disbanding of the Biden’s Administration Disinformation Board, it appears that the Administration has been funding a British group to rank sites to warn people about high-risk disinformation sites. The Global Disinformation Index (GDI) has released its index and every one of the high-risk sites turn out to be . . . wait for it . . . conservative or libertarian sites. Not HuffPost or Mother Jones (which were also analyzed). It turns out that the “riskiest online news outlets” just happen to be some of the most popular conservative sites. The GDI is designed to steer advertisers and subscribers away from certain sites, potentially draining sites of revenue needed to operate.
The organization issues the index to “advertisers and the ad tech industry in assessing the reputational and brand risk when advertising with online media outlets and to help them avoid financially supporting disinformation online.” The State Department is partially funding the effort. The Biden Administration gave $330 million to The National Endowment for Democracy, which partially supports the GDI’s budget. GDI warned advertisers that these sites could damage the reputations and brands: New York Post, Reason, Real Clear Politics, The Daily Wire, The Blaze, One America News Network, The Federalist, Newsmax, The American Spectator, and The American Conservative. The inclusion of the New York Post is particularly notable. It is ranked in the top ten newspapers in the country and the top ten digital news sites.[..] The New York Post was suspended by social media companies over the Hunter Biden story before the 2020 election by companies relying on false stories appearing in many of the most trustworthy sites listed by GDI.
[..] The GDI disinformation index shows the very favoritism that it attributes to others. For example, in discouraging advertisers from supporting the New York Post, the group declares that “content sampled from the Post frequently displayed bias, sensationalism and clickbait, which carries the risk of misleading the site’s reader.” The line reflects the utter lack of self-awareness of self-appointed monitors of disinformation. There is no effort to explain what constitutes “clickbait” or “sensationalism” in comparison to more favored sites like HuffPost. The fact that GDI reflects such bias is not particularly surprising. Disinformation efforts have long displayed pronounced political influences and agendas. Indeed, we have seen recent disclosures of how members of Congress like Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Cal.) secretly sought to use disinformation claims to ban critics, including a columnist, from social media.
Not 100% sure I understand this.
In order to sell goods, the capitalist mode of production must define the buyer. In the earlier years of capitalism, identifying the buyer was easy: it was obvious to the producer what the needs of buyers were. The requirement to have shoes, bread, chairs, for example,after all, is self evident. The style of shoe, the type of bread and the quality of the chair were secondary considerations. As time progressed, and the productive system became more efficient and competitive, it became important to differentiate the style of shoe, the type of bread and the quality of the furniture, to attract buyers. But to attract buyers meant being able to differentiate among them and to target them with advertising. For example, what type of buyer would be interested in this style of shoe and how can I advertise this product? This meant examining and dividing the buyers into market segments. Hence, the birth of targeted advertising and the consumer.
Initially, this segmentation involved determining the broad social classes of consumers: whether they were white or blue collar workers, whether they lived in cities or on farms, whether they were educated or not. As time went on, and the system of production became more sophisticated, consumers were increasingly differentiated into ever smaller and more specific groups. Advertising began to penetrate ever more precisely defined subjectivities: demographic groups whether single, coupled or extended; age groups whether teenager, middle aged or elderly; gender identities whether male, female, fluid; interest groups whether in sport, politics, the arts or other areas; cultural identities whether autochthonous, native or diasporic, and so forth. Instead of reflecting already existing groups, the advertising industry then began to actually fashion or create purpose built subjectivities in order to be able to sell pre-conceived products to them.
The media industry became the chief vehicle in this process with distinctions between advertising and artistic output largely disappearing. This process is reflected in the dictum: capitalism will eventually create artificial needs so that it can satisfy them. With the coming of the digital age, algorithms have made it possible to reduce societal groups almost to the category of the single individual. As a result society has been split into ever more specific niches, corresponding to an entire panoply of identities and orientations in an ever strengthening centrifugal dynamic. As consumers, human beings are continually being into ever more fragmented subjectivities, on the assumption that the nature of their existence is ultimately entirely ‘monadic’ and isolated, a condition where they would be vulnerable to each and every external force or influence, unable almost to conceive of positive social change.
«Fun to imagine» is a 1983 BBC TV series originally shot on 16mm film at Richard Feynman's house in Altadena, California. He explains that trees actually come from the air and why the heat from a fire is in fact the heat of the Sun: https://t.co/wwvicGAd4zpic.twitter.com/lpxDuoj0qO
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) February 15, 2023
The pudús are two species of South American deer from the genus Pudu, and are the world’s smallest deer
Brent Artman takes a large piece of copper and cleans it until it's shiny, using reduction flame to change the color of the design with the fire
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) February 15, 2023
Find the snake.
A time-lapse of an oak tree acorn in a jar of water
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) February 15, 2023
Unlike people, sharks don't enter an unconscious state while sleeping. Some species have peculiar sleeping habits: whitetip reef sharks, for example, have been seen piled on one another in a cuddly, sleep-like state
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) February 15, 2023
Shark just before it emerges from water, breaking surface tension (Matt Dave)
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