Oct 272023
 October 27, 2023  Posted by at 8:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  45 Responses »

Peter Paul Rubens Saturn devouring one of his sons 1636


Netanyahu Dragging US Into War With Iran to Save His Political Career (Tweedie)
US Will ‘Not Be Spared’ If Israel-Hamas War Escalates – Iran (RT)
US Launches Strikes in Syria After Targeted Attacks On US Troops (DeMartino)
Israel and US Fear New Humiliation in Ground Invasion of Gaza (Tweedie)
Lavrov Blasts US Bid to Monopolize Mideast Settlement (Sp.)
Escalations Might All Fuse Into ‘One’ (Alastair Crooke)
Hamas Delegation Arrives In Moscow As Russia Blames US For Escalation (ZH)
Full-Dress Irrationality (Patrick Lawrence)
US Reportedly Changes “Sales Pitch” on Ukraine Aid (Sp.)
Orban ‘Proud’ Of Dialogue With Russia (RT)
Hungary Says Energy Security ‘Impossible’ Without Russia (RT)
Prosecutor Says FBI Resisted Investigation Of Biden Bribery Claim (JTN)
ACLU Declares Trump Gag Order to be Unconstitutional (AG)
Trump Planning To Withdraw US From NATO – Media (RT)





Gideon Levy











Sen. Kennedy













“Netanyahu had good reason to allow the situation to erupt on October 7 and to escalate it further, as he was “not in control” of the more extreme members of his coalition government while also facing criminal charges when he leaves office..” “Netanyahu could make this an endless war just to stay in office and to protect himself personally.”

Netanyahu Dragging US Into War With Iran to Save His Political Career (Tweedie)

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is facing calls to resign over the apparent failure of his government and security services to predict and head off the guerrilla incursion and rocket barrage by Hamas and other Palestinian groups from the besieged Gaza Strip into southern Israel. US President Joe Biden flew to Israel to back Netanyahu following his vow to invade Gaza and “destroy” Hamas, and has sent two US Navy aircraft carrier strike groups and a US Marine amphibious assault group to the region to “deter” other nations from intervening on the Palestinian side. US bases in Iraq and Syria have been attacked 14 times since Israel began its latest bombing campaign against Gaza in preparation for an eventual ground assault. The Biden administration has accused Iran of being behind those attacks by Iraqi militias — originally armed by the US and trained by Iran to fight Daesh* — and has threatened Tehran with dire consequences if they continue.

Security expert Michael Maloof told Sputnik that could dangerously up the ante in a conflict that was already out of control. “So far, they’ll respond to individual attacks. That’ll be it. But what I’m concerned about is that the US is just going to take off and start bombing all over the place and escalate this thing even more,” Maloof warned. “It does represent an escalation to attack US troops, by the way, who are in Syria illegally. They had an invitation into Iraq, but I think they’ve clearly overstayed their welcome.” He said that the White House seemed to be concerned about how the conflict was broadening, but “doesn’t know how to stop it.” “Netanyahu is calling the shots and and the president just a few hours ago basically said that he’s asked for a delay in any invasion,” Maloof noted, “but he can’t control basically tell Netanyahu what to do. And that gives that gives Netanyahu a lot of power to drag us into a conflict that we’re clearly reluctant to get involved in.”

He pointed out that the network of US military bases across the Middle East were just as much of a potential target for Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah or the Yemeni Ansarallah government as they were a threat to them — leaving the American personnel there hostages to fortune whose deaths could trigger a wider war. “The game is on, and this this really fulfils Netanyahu’s long passion to get the US engaged. Ultimately, the ultimate goal of Netanyahu is Iran,” Maloof said. Lebanon’s Hezbollah is already in a low-intensity conflict on Israel’s northern border and threatening to open a full-blown second front if Netanyahu launches his Gaza offensive. The Israeli air force has made several missile attacks on airports in the Syrian capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, ostensibly to prevent Iran flying in troops and weapons, while also accusing Syria of shelling IDF positions in the occupied Golan Heights area.
The security advisor said Biden was leading the US into another military fiasco on Israel’s heels.

“This is all a self-made disaster at the hands of the Biden administration. It just didn’t have to be,” Maloof stressed. “And now we’re reaching a point where Israel, as we now know, could be extinguished if the Sunnis and the Shia unite and take on Israel all at once in a swarm approach from all directions.” He said Netanyahu had good reason to allow the situation to erupt on October 7 and to escalate it further, as he was “not in control” of the more extreme members of his coalition government while also facing criminal charges when he leaves office. “Netanyahu could make this an endless war just to stay in office and to protect himself personally.” Maloof argued. “There’s clear evidence now that he knew, he had information and intelligence that Hamas […] was planning an action. He was warned, but he let it happen.”

Old Testament

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“This is our home and West Asia is our region. We do not compromise with any party and any side..”

US Will ‘Not Be Spared’ If Israel-Hamas War Escalates – Iran (RT)

The US will “not be spared from this fire” if Israel’s “genocide” against the Palestinian people continues, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. “I say frankly to the American statesmen and military forces who are now managing the genocide in Palestine, that we do not welcome the expansion of the war in this region,” Amir-Abdollahian said in his address. “But I warn [that] if the genocide in Gaza continues, they will not be spared from this fire,” he continued. “This is our home and West Asia is our region. We do not compromise with any party and any side and have no reservations when it comes to our home’s security.”

US President Joe Biden has pledged that Washington will “stand forever” with Israel, and is currently pushing Congress to authorize a $14 billion package of military aid for the Jewish state. Meanwhile, the US has positioned two aircraft carrier groups and other naval assets, a squadron of F-16 fighter jets, air defense systems, and 900 troops to the Middle East since Hamas militants launched their surprise attack on Israel on October 7. Biden and his officials have declared that these deployments are intended to dissuade Iran from getting involved in the conflict, either directly or by instructing Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. Tehran, however, has argued that Washington’s full-throated backing of West Jerusalem makes escalation more likely.

“It’s a great shame that the American president announced that the US would dispatch hundreds of planes, ships and trucks filled with military equipment to the occupied territories to support the mass murder that Israel is committing in Gaza but has managed to coordinate plans for only 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to enter the besieged enclave,” Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday. “If the US and the Israeli regime do not stop their crimes against humanity immediately, there will be a possibility of anything at any moment and the region may spin out of control,” he added. Speaking to Al Jazeera last week, Amir-Abdollahian cautioned that an Israeli ground operation in Gaza – which the Israeli military has been preparing to launch for weeks – would result in “many other fronts being opened.”

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“..19 of them, were classified as “traumatic brain injuries” and all have since returned to service..”

US Launches Strikes in Syria After Targeted Attacks On US Troops (DeMartino)

Earlier in the day, the Pentagon confirmed that 21 US personnel suffered minor injuries from 16 attacks that began on October 17. Most of those injuries, 19 of them, were classified as “traumatic brain injuries” and all have since returned to service. The US has placed blame for the attacks on “Iranian-backed militia groups.” The US Department of Defense revealed late Thursday that forces had fired strikes against two facilities in Syria following earlier attacks against American and allied troops in Iraq and Syria. “Today, at President [Joe] Biden’s direction, US military forces conducted self-defense strikes on two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups,” the release said on Thursday.

“These precision self-defense strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17.” The release underscored that the US strikes were not related to the Palestine-Israel conflict. The statement added that the US does not seek an escalation of the conflict in Palestine. “These narrowly-tailored strikes in self-defense were intended solely to protect and defend US personnel in Iraq and Syria. They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict,” the release said. Information on the specific targets hit by US forces has not been provided. A US journalist reported that a pair of F-16 fighter jets were used in the attack. The reporter claims, citing US officials, that the attacks hit ammunition depots near Abu Kamal on the eastern Syria border with Iraq.

There have been no reports of fatalities or injuries, and it is unknown if anyone was inside the facilities when the strikes were launched. Earlier Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said the US has, or was in the process of, deploying around 900 troops to the Middle East to bolster security in the area. He did not provide details on where the troops were going specifically, only confirming they would not be deployed to Israel. Ryder further stated that a US response to the attacks would come “at the time and place of our choosing.” Also Thursday, Biden reiterated that he sent a message to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warning against strikes on US troops. The remark came after the US president earlier noted he had filed to the Ayatollah that retaliation might be forthcoming. “My warning to the Ayatollah was that if they continue to move against those troops, we will respond, and he should be prepared. It has nothing to do with Israel,” Biden said at a conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday.

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“..it’s quite possible that Israel wants to delay because they want to bomb Gaza as much as possible and starve Gaza as much as possible to make any ground invasion easier.”

Israel and US Fear New Humiliation in Ground Invasion of Gaza (Tweedie)

Israel’s threatened ground offensive in Gaza is still on hold, almost three weeks after the devastating Hamas raid into southern Israel. Independent journalist Sam Husseini and veteran war correspondent Elijah Magnier argued that fear of another defeat was holding Israel back. Israel fears a second military defeat by Hamas if it goes ahead with an offensive to destroy the Palestinian group and free hundreds of hostages, two journalists say.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called up some 350,000 military reservists after a surprise Hamas attack from the Gaza Strip left almost 300 Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) troops and over 1,000 civilians dead, with more than 200 taken captive. Earlier this week, US media reported that US President Joe Biden’s government was pressuring Israel to delay its ground invasion in the hope of negotiating the release of dual US-Israeli nationals taken hostage there by the Hamas movement.

But journalist Sam Husseini told Sputnik that it was not Washington holding the IDF back, but Israel’s fear of taking heavy casualties in the assault. “I’m not positive that Israel wants to go in sooner rather than later,” Husseini said. “That seems to be the case, but it’s quite possible that Israel wants to delay because they want to bomb Gaza as much as possible and starve Gaza as much as possible to make any ground invasion easier.” He said Netanyahu’s vow to destroy Hamas in return for the October 7 attacks was merely a “pretext” for ethnic cleansing and a land-grab. “Israel is doing what it’s long wanted to do, which is to go after the civilian Palestinian population, to decimate Palestinian society as much as possible in order to drive out more and more Palestinians from their lands so they can take it, so they can take the resources, the gas reserves off the coast of Gaza, for example, as well as just another ethnic cleansing as they did in 1948, 1967,” Husseini said.

He also focussed on the release of two elderly Israeli women held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. One of the women, Yukhfed Livshitz, told reporters how the militants had treated her and others humanely and with dignity, promising not to harm them and even bringing a doctor to check on them every few days. The journalist said that surprising turn of events was the motive for the IDF’s “Hannibal Directive” that an Israeli is “better dead than abducted” by Israel’s enemies. “Israel basically says we’re going to kill anyone Hamas or any other Palestinian group takes hostage,” Husseini stressed. “The standard interpretation of that has been that they don’t want Hamas to take to be taking people in that to be leverage over Israel. But there’s another interpretation, which is that they don’t want these people to come out alive to say Hamas treated us perfectly fine.”

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“..such a state was “promised to the Palestinian people 75 years ago.”

Lavrov Blasts US Bid to Monopolize Mideast Settlement (Sp.)

Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov participated in a Minsk-hosted conference on Eurasian security and delivered a speech on today’s most pressing foreign policy issues. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed in his speech that Washington’s attempt to “monopolize the Middle East settlement process has led to a catastrophic situation.” He vehemently denounced terrorist attacks and any other actions that cause harm to civilian populations or that otherwise violate international humanitarian law. In addition, he urgently called for an immediate ceasefire. However, he added that the negotiations on “establishing a sovereign Palestinian state” must start and highlighted that such a state was “promised to the Palestinian people 75 years ago.” Foreign Minister Lavrov dismissed Ukraine’s attempts to secure unilateral security guarantees, stating that they are all in vain.

“The Kiev regime’s attempts to secure unilateral security guarantees from its Western masters are also futile. This also suggests that the goal is to tear Russia and Belarus away from the arrangements that the West subsequently wants to build on the continent,” Lavrov said at a high-level international conference dubbed “Eurasian Security: Reality and Prospects in a Transforming World.” The West has demolished the system of confidence-building measures and arms control in Europe, the diplomacy chief said, referring to the US withdrawal from the treaties on missile defense, and on the prohibition of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, among other things. “Mounting strategic risks are created due to the forward deployment of American nuclear weapons in a number of European countries and the implementation of so-called joint nuclear missions. This has an extremely destabilizing effect. Against the backdrop of a general increase in threats from NATO, it forces us to resort to compensatory measures,” Lavrov stressed.

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“..Israeli military leaders are actually more hawkish than the prime minister now. They are red with rage and determined to deliver a blow to Hamas that the whole neighbourhood will never forget”.

Escalations Might All Fuse Into ‘One’ (Alastair Crooke)

Tom Friedman uttered his dire warning in the New York Times on Thursday last: “I believe that if Israel rushes headlong into Gaza now [unilaterally] to destroy Hamas — it will be making a grave mistake that will be devastating for Israeli interests and American interests”. “It could trigger a global conflagration and explode the entire pro-American alliance structure that the U.S. has built…I am talking about the Camp David peace treaty, the Oslo peace accords, the Abraham Accords and the possible normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The whole thing could go up in flames. “Unfortunately, the senior U.S. official told [Friedman], Israeli military leaders are actually more hawkish than the prime minister now. They are red with rage and determined to deliver a blow to Hamas that the whole neighbourhood will never forget”.

Friedman here is talking, of course, about an American alliance system, pivoted around the idea of Israel’s military prowess being invincible – the ‘Little NATO’ paradigm that acts as the essential substrata for the spread of the American-led Rules Order through West Asia. It is analogous to the substrata of the NATO alliance, whose claimed ‘unchallengeability’ has underpinned U.S. interests in Europe (at least until the Ukraine war). One Israeli Cabinet member put it to the veteran Israeli defence correspondent Ben Caspit that Israel just cannot permit its long-term deterrence being undermined: “This is the most important point — ‘our deterrence’”, the senior war Cabinet source said. “The region must quickly understand that whoever harms Israel the way Hamas did, pays a disproportionate price. There is no other way to survive in our neighbourhood than to exact this price now, because many eyes are fixed on us and most of them do not have our best interests at heart”.

In other words, the Israeli ‘paradigm’ hinges on manifesting overwhelming, crushing force directed to any emerging challenge. This has had its origin in the U.S. insistence that Israel have both the political leading-edge (all strategic decisions lay with Israel uniquely under Oslo), and equally, that it has the military cutting leading-edge over all its neighbours too. Despite being presented as such, this is not a formula by which to reach any sustainable, peaceful accord by which the 1947 UNGA Resolution 181 (the division of Mandate-era Palestine) into two states can be reached. Rather, Israel under the Netanyahu government has been moving closer and closer to an eschatological founding of Israel on the (Biblical) ‘Land of Israel’ – a move that expunges Palestine totally.

It is no coincidence that Netanyahu flourished a map of Israel during his General Assembly address last month in which Israel dominated from the River to the Sea – and Palestine (indeed any Palestinian territory) was non-existent. Tom Friedman in his NYT reflections may fear that just as NATO’s impaired performance in Ukraine has ruptured ‘the NATO myth’, so too the 7 October Israeli military and intelligence collapse and what happens in its wake in Gaza ‘might explode the entire pro-American alliance structure’ in the Middle East. The confluence of two such humiliations might break the spine of western primacy. This seems to be the gist to Friedman’s analysis. (He likely is correct).

Nap Crooke

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“Will Russia press the delegation to release more captives? Likely this is high on the agenda for Moscow.”

Hamas Delegation Arrives In Moscow As Russia Blames US For Escalation (ZH)

In a somewhat unexpected development, a delegation of Hamas leaders have arrived in Moscow for talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed Thursday evening (local time). “I can confirm that representatives of the [Hamas] Palestinian movement are visiting Moscow,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a press briefing, vowing to provide relevant details as the talks unfold. The visit had not been previously announced by either side, and the Hamas delegation is being led by a senior member of the group, Moussa Abu Marzouk. Hamas is a designated terror organization in the US, European Union, and some other countries; but it has official relations with countries like Iran, Turkey, Syria, and now apparently Russia.

Russia, however, has said it remains willing to talk to all sides of the conflict in hopes of achieving ceasefire and peace. After the US exit from Afghanistan, Moscow had similarly hosted a Taliban delegation. It’s as yet unclear whether Russia’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, will meet with the Hamas representatives, given he’s said to currently be in Minsk. RIA Novosti has reported that Hamas has during opening meetings with Russian officials “commended Putin’s position and the efforts of Russia’s diplomacy.” The Kremlin has said it is engaged in crisis diplomacy talks with both the Hamas and Israeli sides, at a moment that over 220 hostages are still being held in Gaza. Four have been released thus far, including two Americans, due in large part to the mediation of Qatar. Will Russia press the delegation to release more captives? Likely this is high on the agenda for Moscow.

Just days ago Russia blamed the United States for stoking escalation by positioning Navy warships in the Mediterranean near Israel. FM Lavrov said Monday during a meeting in Tehran that “the more a state takes this kind of proactive measures, the greater the risk and the danger of an escalation of the conflict”. He called out Washington as “already among the countries intervening the most” since the October 7 Hamas terror attack. The Biden administration as of course rejected the charge, and blamed Iran for ultimately being behind Hamas and regional terror.

At the UN in New York, Russia and China have also just vetoed US drafted UN Security Council resolution on Gaza. The dueling sides have rejected the proposals of the other given Washington’s pro-Israel stance, and the willingness of Moscow and Beijing to heap criticism on Tel Aviv for the humanitarian crisis and soaring death toll among Palestinians. Turkey has also been a foremost critic of Israel’s assault on Gaza, as the death toll surpasses 7,000 – with President Erdogan blasting the West’s double standard on the crisis.

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“..all of late-imperium America’s wars: They are money-laundering operations by way of which the taxes Americans pay in the name of national security, global leadership and all the rest is recycled to the military-industrial complex behind the Chinese screen of patriotism..“

Full-Dress Irrationality (Patrick Lawrence)

I am not an economist and I don’t think overmuch about the federal budget, but to me what the national government spends on education is the single most important decision the federal bean counters make if we want to think about the prosperity, safety, and altogether the future of this country, our children and their children, etc. The Education Department’s budget for FY 2024 comes to $90 billion—$15 billion short even of this interim spend on wars and confrontations abroad. To be noted in this connection: of the $105 billion, $61.4 billion goes to Ukraine. Except for one thing: Half of this $61.4 billion does not go to Ukraine. It goes to the Pentagon, which is to say the defense contractors.

An acquaintance told me the other day about a clever adage he saw mounted on someone’s office wall: “The main thing to remember is that the main thing is the main thing.” It is perfectly apropos. And the main thing to remember as we contemplate Biden’s $105 billion is that it will go to one war the U.S. cannot win (Ukraine), to the provocation of another war the U.S. cannot possibly win (with China over Taiwan) and to Israel’s purposely disproportionate violence against Palestinians, the end-point of which we call ethnic cleansing, although you have to wonder how long until we ought to push the vocabulary to the freighted “extermination”? There is no calling this state of affairs rational. I go to Julian Assange’s observation some years ago.

His reference was to Afghanistan, but the thought applies to all of late-imperium America’s wars: They are money-laundering operations by way of which the taxes Americans pay in the name of national security, global leadership and all the rest is recycled to the military-industrial complex behind the Chinese screen of patriotism, high ideals, duty and whatever else people such as Joe Biden come up with. Why else would Washington spend so extravagantly on wars it cannot win and unnecessary confrontations from which it will emerge the loser? Given that the system Julian Assange identified actually works even as it claims unspeakable numbers of lives and impoverishes American life, there seems only one way to think of it: This is a textbook case of what I call the irrationality of hyperrationality.

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Good for American jobs…

US Reportedly Changes “Sales Pitch” on Ukraine Aid (Sp.)

US President Joe Biden’s earlier request for $24 billion in aid for Ukraine led to the threat of a government shutdown in September when Republican congressmen refused to approve a budget that included funds for the Kiev regime. The Joe Biden administration is privately speaking to each representative of both political parties in Congress to justify the need for further aid to Ukraine by the fact that it will allegedly become the key to economic growth in the US itself, media reported. The White House aides are “quietly” distributing talking points among the lawmakers to make the case that shoring up the Kiev regime “is good for American jobs,” the outlet reported. “As we replenish our stocks of weapons, we are partnering with the US defense industry to increase our capacity and meet the needs of the US and our allies both now and in the future,” a copy of the talking points obtained by the outlet reads.

The outlet described the talking points as “an implicit recognition” that the Biden administration “has work to do in selling its $106 billion foreign aid supplemental request [announced in POTUS’ speech last week] – and that talking about it squarely under the umbrella of national security interests hasn’t done the trick.” The White House’s apparent change “in sales pitch” comes as the latest opinion polls indicate that Americans are becoming skeptical about Washington’s aid to Kiev and continuing to question Biden’s handling of the US economy. The outlet noted in this regard that some Republicans berate the Biden administration for its “subpar” rhetoric about Ukraine, purportedly adding that the White House should “change its message” in order to gain House GOP support and preserve the stronger backing in the Senate.

An unnamed senior Republican congressional aide was quoted by the outlet as saying that the Biden administration has privately “realized that their messaging on Ukraine specifically has been a disaster […] and that they need to change.” “There has been a bit of effort to help the administration understand that their messaging is wholly inadequate, and they’re using phrases that Republicans don’t respond to, and they’re not making convincing arguments,” the aide added. The remarks came after former State Department diplomat James Carden argued that Biden’s nationally broadcast speech last week, in which he sought broad support for stepping up already huge levels of US aid to Ukraine, was another unthinking, reflexive expression of the globalist mindset that has been destroying the US economy over the past several decades.



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“We are the only one who is speaking on behalf and in favor of the peace which would be the interest of everybody in Europe..”

Orban ‘Proud’ Of Dialogue With Russia (RT)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he is “proud” to maintain good relations with Russia, accusing other European nations of pursuing a “war strategy” that will only stoke more conflict. Speaking to reporters after arriving for an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels on Thursday, Orban explained that his country’s approach differs from the “majority” of the bloc, which has adopted a range of hostile policies targeting Russia since Moscow sent forces into Ukraine in February 2022. “We keep open all the communication lines to the Russians. Otherwise, there will be no chance for peace. This is a strategy. So we are proud of it,” he said, adding that while most EU members follow “a war strategy,” Hungary has “a peace strategy.” The PM’s remarks followed a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing last week, which Orban defended while in Brussels.

“We are the only one who is speaking on behalf and in favor of the peace which would be the interest of everybody in Europe,” he continued. The Hungarian leader has faced criticism over the sit-down with Putin, with Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel saying it amounted to a “middle finger” to Ukrainians. Estonian premier Kaja Kallas also said she would discuss the issue with Orban. While Budapest condemned the Russian military operation in Ukraine soon after it was launched last year, Orban has refused to take part in the US-led sanctions campaign against Moscow, and refused to provide arms to Kiev. The PM previously argued that Western sanctions had “backfired,” saying that Brussels had “shot itself in the foot” following a spike in energy prices across Europe.

Orban has been highly critical of the EU in the past. Speaking to mark the anniversary of Hungary’s failed 1956 uprising against the Soviet Union earlier this week, Orban slammed the bloc as a “bad contemporary parody” of the USSR, saying it has worked to impose a model of liberal democracy that the Hungarian people have rejected. “We had to dance to the tune that Moscow whistled,” Orban said of Hungary’s decades under Soviet control. “Brussels whistles too, but we dance as we want to, and if we don’t want to, then we don’t dance.”

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“It is the duty and responsibility of the Hungarian government to guarantee safe energy supplies in the country.”

Hungary Says Energy Security ‘Impossible’ Without Russia (RT)

Eastern and Western economies were “exceptionally” mutually dependent for decades, but after severing ties with Russia it is unclear how the EU can remain competitive, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has warned. As an example, he cited electricity prices in the bloc, which are reportedly now three times higher than in China. Speaking at an international conference on Eurasian security in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Thursday, Szijjarto stated that “the success of Western countries is almost impossible to imagine without cooperation with Eastern countries. And the opposite is also true.” The diplomat emphasized that the car industry, which he described as the “backbone of the European economy,” will not be able to enter a “new age” of electric vehicle production without affordable resource supplies.

Szijjarto argued that for decades, a combination of Western technology and affordable Eastern energy had been the “foundation” of the world economy. “And this combination has now fallen apart, unfortunately. As a result, people in Europe now pay four times more for gas. We pay three times more for electricity than people in China. It is difficult to understand how the European economy can be competitive in such conditions,” the minister said. He claimed that over the past year and a half, issues of energy supplies have become “hostage to political debate,” even though energy has nothing to do with politics as it is a matter of “physical reality.”

“It is the duty and responsibility of the Hungarian government to guarantee safe energy supplies in the country. And since it is physically impossible without Russian resources, we will continue to cooperate in reasonable relations with Russia,” Szijjarto said. The diplomat prioritized the resumption of “civilized dialogue” between the East and the West, adding that Hungary is ready to become a point of contact between the two sides.

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“even ‘simple’ requests to the FBI and DOJ, like ‘extending the assessment,’ required a renewal every 30 days […] it required 17 different people..”

Prosecutor Says FBI Resisted Investigation Of Biden Bribery Claim (JTN)

Former Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Scott Brady revealed to the House Judiciary Committee that his team found enough credible evidence in its initial review of Hunter Biden’s dealings with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings and possible corruption by Joe Biden to refer criminal matters to three separate U.S. Attorney’s offices in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Delaware for further investigation. But almost immediately after he was assigned by the Justice Department in 2020 to review Biden family matters in Ukraine, Brady said he encountered resistance at both the FBI and the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s office that at times required him to escalate to his bosses in the deputy attorney general’s office. “It was a challenging working relationship,” Brady said of the FBI in testimony earlier this week that was reviewed by Just the News.

“I think there was reluctance on the part of the FBI to really do any tasking related to our assignment from DAG Rosen and looking into allegations of Ukrainian corruption broadly and then specifically anything that intersected with Hunter Biden and his role in Burisma. It was very challenging.” Brady’s testimony emerged the same day that Sen. Chuck Grassley revealed that the FBI had more than 40 informants providing evidence of possible criminality by the Biden family dating back years but that most leaders were shut down, particularly by the FBI’s Washington field office or its New York counter-intelligence office. Brady was critical of the FBI, noting the bureau never told his office it had Hunter Biden’s laptop and had corroborated its contents even as DOJ prosecutors investigated the Ukraine allegations.

“I would have thought that would be something, especially as has been publicly reported, there’s information relating to Hunter Biden’s activities on the board of Burisma in Ukraine, that might have been helpful in our assessment of the information that we were receiving about him. I would have expected that be shared,” he said. Brady said he encountered similar resistance and skepticism as he tried to hand off evidence and investigative leads to Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss and his deputy Lesley Wolf in fall 2020, corroborating similar testimony provided to the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this summer by IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler. “Speaking generally, from a process perspective, I think there was both a skepticism of the information that we were developing, that we had received, and skepticism and then weariness of that information,” Brady said of Weiss’ office. “I think they were very concerned about any information sharing with our office.

[..] Brady said he was struck throughout his work by the FBI’s reluctance to engage in the Hunter Biden probe and the unprecedented layers of approval that FBI headquarters imposed on the agents working for him in Pittsburgh. Brady said that “even ‘simple’ requests to the FBI and DOJ, like ‘extending the assessment,’ required a renewal every 30 days […] it required 17 different people, including mostly at the headquarters level to sign off on it before the assessment could be extended.” He opined that Biden’s role as the Democratic nominee for president in the 2020 election likely played a role in the FBI’s behavior. “Certainly anything related to Ukraine and Ukrainian nationals that intersected with Hunter Biden and his role serving on the Burisma board was sensitive and certainly in 2020, months before an election cycle when different policies kick in for the Department and for the FBI,” he testified.

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ACLU Declares Trump Gag Order to be Unconstitutional (AG)

On Wednesday, the far-left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) made a surprising statement condemning a federal judge’s attempted gag order on former President Donald Trump. As Politico reports, the ACLU’s statement came as a shock to many who support the group, as it had been one of Trump’s primary enemies during his presidency, frequently suing his administration to block many of his policies. But in a new friend-of-the-court brief, the ACLU agreed with Trump’s assertion that a gag order by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan is a violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, as well as a violation of the public’s right to hear him speak. “The obvious and unprecedented public interest in this prosecution, as well as the widespread political speech that it has generated and will continue to generate, only underscores the need to apply the most stringent First Amendment standard to a restraint on Defendant’s speech rights,” the ACLU’s statement read.

The ACLU told Chutkan that she should re-evaluate her order, parts of which the group described as so vague that it was “unknown and perhaps unknowable.” The group focused on one particular portion which forbade President Trump from making any statements that could be perceived as making a “target” out of Special Counsel Jack Smith, the prosecutors, court personnel, or attorneys or witnesses in the case. “Reading the order, Defendant cannot possibly know what he is permitted to say, and what he is not,” the ACLU noted. Chutkan had tried to justify her decision by claiming that Trump’s status as a leading presidential candidate does not make him any different from any other defendant in a criminal case, but the ACLU disagreed, citing the heightened public interest in his case and other legal cases.

“Defendant’s ability to speak publicly about the substance of the prosecution, even including potential witnesses and testimony, is in many ways inextricable from the 2024 presidential campaign in which he is a declared candidate,” the ACLU observed. Judge Chutkan recently agreed to temporarily halt her own gag order as President Trump’s legal team appeals the order itself. President Trump also faces three other cases, with another being in Washington D.C., one being in New York City, and one in Atlanta, Georgia. The cases generally revolve around his efforts to combat voter fraud in the 2020 election, as well as accusations of “inciting insurrection” for his speech to a crowd of peaceful protesters on January 6th, 2021. Despite the dozens of charges he faces, President Trump’s approval ratings have consistently gone up every time a new indictment was announced, both in polling for the GOP presidential primary and for the general election in a head-to-head matchup with Joe Biden.

Read more …

“Starting World War III” over some of the bloc’s smaller members makes no sense, Trump vented to his advisers in mid-2018, arguing that most Americans had never even heard of some of these countries.”

Trump Planning To Withdraw US From NATO – Media (RT)

Former US President Donald Trump has discussed pulling the country out of NATO or dramatically scaling back America’s commitment to the bloc if he wins the 2024 election, Rolling Stone magazine reported on Monday. Citing two sources who allegedly heard him make the comments, Rolling Stone claimed that Trump has expressed openness to leaving NATO altogether, or remaining in the military alliance if its European members increase their defense spending and scrap Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty – which treats an attack on one member state as an attack on all 31. “Starting World War III” over some of the bloc’s smaller members makes no sense, Trump vented to his advisers in mid-2018, arguing that most Americans had never even heard of some of these countries.

Attributed to a ‘former senior administration official’, this anecdote backs up what former National Security Advisor John Bolton told the Washington Post last year: that Trump was ready to announce the US departure from NATO at the bloc’s 2018 summit, but ultimately backed down on Bolton’s advice. “In a second Trump term, I think he may well have withdrawn from NATO,” Bolton said at the time. With conflict raging in Ukraine and NATO’s Eastern European and Baltic members urging the alliance to step up its military aid to Kiev, Trump has repeatedly warned of the likelihood of “World War III” breaking out in Europe. If elected, Trump has promised to cut off military aid to Ukraine and force its president, Vladimir Zelenzky, to negotiate a peace deal with Russia.

In a campaign video released earlier this year, Trump blamed the conflict on “all the warmongers and ‘America Last’ globalists in the Deep State, the Pentagon, the State Department and the national security industrial complex,” who he said were “obsessed with pushing Ukraine towards NATO.” According to Rolling Stone’s sources, Trump has made it clear that his second administration would not be staffed by “NATO lovers.”

The sources said that Trump studied a policy proposal by conservative writer Dr. Sumantra Maitra earlier this year entitled ‘Pivoting the US Away from Europe to a Dormant NATO’ and liked some of its ideas. In the paper, Maitra wrote that “the NATO bureaucracy” is “prone to push missions that are beyond NATO’s core role and, at times, opposed to the domestic interests of the United States. Radically reducing the NATO bureaucracy should be a chief aim.” “He still wants out,” one Trump adviser told Rolling Stone. The aide acknowledged that Trump might not actually follow through on this desire, but “wants a policy team around him nowadays that is much, much tougher on NATO than anything he’s done in the past.”

Read more …





The last photo of Muhammad Ali, 2016



Artificial stone





Street artist





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Jun 232018

René Magritte Le Mal du Pays (Homesickness) 1940


The two most viral photographs of the ‘Trump Separation Scandal’ have now been debunked, or at the very least been proven to have been used ‘out of context’. This is a dangerous development, as are the reasons to use them the way they have been. Both pictures are of children who had not been separated from their mothers at all. But both were used to depict just that: a child being taken away from its mother.

What’s dangerous about this is, first, that those who spread the narrative regardless of the truth may next permit themselves to use images from entirely different locations or times to make their point. Yes, children have been taken from parents at US borders. And attention for that is warranted, very much so. But playing loose with the facts turns those facts into a mere narrative in which nobody can tell fact from fiction anymore.

First, a week ago already, I saw this on RT:


Debunked: Viral Image Of Crying, Caged Toddler ‘Detained By ICE’ Not What It Seems

A distressing image of a crying toddler locked in a barred cage after purportedly being detained by US immigration officials has gone viral – but despite online claims, it does not actually depict what has been alleged. The image, which shows a little boy crying in a cage as he looks out between its bars, was shared by activist journalist and undocumented migrant Jose Antonio Vargas as a comment on the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown on families.

In the same thread, Vargas admitted that he came across the photo on a friend’s timeline and was still looking for the original source. Nevertheless, the snap quickly went viral with Vargas’ post garnering more than 23,000 retweets and many others sharing the image across their own social media accounts.


Vargas explained that he shared the photo because when he was detained by ICE in McAllen, Texas in 2014, he encountered children who were locked up there. “It wasn’t okay then; it’s not okay now,” he wrote, adding that he’s been outraged about the incident for years.

It has since emerged that the picture was in fact not from a detention facility at all, and instead was taken at a protest against Trump’s immigration policies held on June 10 outside Dallas City Hall. The demonstration organized by Brown Berets de Cemanahuac was held to call out the policy of family separation and confining undocumented children.

Ergo: an activist journalist and undocumented immigrant makes it look as if a picture depicts something that in reality it did not. Note also that the article says he wanted to comment on the Trump immigration crackdown, because he has memories of the Obama immigration crackdown, when he saw children locked up. But then, hey, that’s social media, right? Anyone can say anything.

It’s different, though, when TIME Magazine uses such politics. And its editor-in-chief defends the use of the picture by saying it was the most visible symbol of something, even though he knew full well that the photo didn’t depict that something. That’s a mighty slippery scale. If they could have achieved the same effect with a picture of a overripe banana taken in the Pacific in the 1950’s, they probably would have used it. It’s the effect that counts, not the facts.


Fact-Check: Was Migrant Girl On US Border Taken From Mother? Unfounded

Two photos that went viral on social media depict scenes that are not directly related to the family separations taking place on the US-Mexico border since early May. The most prominent, of Honduran two-year-old Yanela Varela crying inconsolably, has become a global symbol of the separations – helping to attract more than $18 million in donations for a Texas non-profit called RAICES. The photograph was taken on June 12 in McAllen, Texas by John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for Getty Images.


An online article about the picture, published by Time Magazine, initially reported the girl was taken from her mother, but was subsequently corrected to make clear that: “The girl was not carried away screaming by US Border Patrol agents; her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together.” Time Magazine nonetheless used the image of the sobbing child on its cover, next to an image of President Trump looming over her, with the caption “Welcome to America”. The head of Honduras’ Migrant Protection Office Lisa Medrano confirmed to AFP that the little girl, just two years old, “was not separated” from her family.

The child’s father also said as much. Denis Varela told the Washington Post that his wife Sandra Sanchez, 32, had not been separated from their daughter, and that both were being detained together in an immigration center in McAllen. Under fire for its cover – which was widely decried as misleading including by the White House – the magazine said it was standing by its decision. “The June 12 photograph of the 2-year-old Honduran girl became the most visible symbol of the ongoing immigration debate in America for a reason,” Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said.


Nassim Nicolas Taleb, of black swans and Fragility, has found the appropriate term for this ‘phenomenon’, and explains why it works so well that TIME apparently doesn’t care about the damage to its reputation caused by using photographs for such purposes.


Pedophrasty, Bigoteering, and Other Modern Scams

Pedophrasty Definition: Argument involving children to prop up a rationalization and make the opponent look like an asshole, as people are defenseless and suspend all skepticism in front of suffering children: nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures. [..] Pedophrasty is effective as it provides arguments to strike before the evidence is formed. People are moved into “doing something” Pedophrasts prey on our maternal (and paternal) instincts.

Pedophrasty has its most effects on actors, journalists and similar types who are intellectually insecure, deprived of critical judgment, and afraid of being classified as violators of some norm of political correctness. For instance, pedophrasty has been commonly used in the Syrian war by such propagandists as Julian Roepke continuously supplying the German public with pictures of dead children. Or the various lobbies hired by Saudi Barbaria (and allies), such as the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, to promote Sunni Islamist policies under the cover of “think tanks”.

The Nayirah testimony: a false congressional testimony by 15-year-old girl who provided only her first name, Nayirah (she turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S.) was a bit responsible into tipping the US into the war. Nayirah claimed that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators a Kuwaiti hospital, and leave the babies to die. Nobody dared to question the veracity of her claims.

That’s what is dangerous: seeing a photo of a child in distress makes people halt their critical thinking. That’s also why such photos are used. They help build a narrative that doesn’t have to be factual to shock people. But at that point TIME becomes a fiction magazine; it’s where it leaves journalism behind.

The narrative also depends to a large extent on the singularity of Trump’s brutality compared to other presidents and nations’ leaders. It seeks to single him out as being extremely cruel. That narrative will fall to pieces going forward, and not only because the stories behind the photos have now been exposed.

First, here’s a look at what happened under earlier US presidents, in this case Obama, published by the ACLU in May 2018:


ACLU Obtains Documents Showing Widespread Abuse Of Child Immigrants In US Custody

Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union featured in a new report released today show the pervasive abuse and neglect of unaccompanied immigrant children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The report was produced in conjunction with the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.

“These documents provide a glimpse into a federal immigration enforcement system marked by brutality and lawlessness,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, ACLU Border Litigation Project staff attorney. “All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their immigration status — and children, in particular, deserve special protection. The misconduct demonstrated in these records is breathtaking, as is the government’s complete failure to hold officials who abuse their power accountable. The abuse that takes place by government officials is reprehensible and un-American.”

The report is based on over 30,000 pages of documents dated between 2009 and 2014.

Then, what other ‘leaders’, who express their ‘disgust’ and worries at the Trump separation policies do at home. The Guardian yesterday:


Theresa May’s Brutal Family Separations Would Make Trump Blush

[..] as a British citizen I cannot, in good faith, reassure myself with that time-old mantra that we are somehow more civilised and less cruel or brutal than our cousins across the pond. Nor do I think that condemnation from our government can carry any real currency. Since long before anybody had heard the words “Make America great again”, splitting up families has been official policy in Theresa May’s Home Office – and it has been carried out with a brutality and on a scale that would make even President Trump blush.

The Children’s Commissioner has found that at least 15,000 children growing up in the UK live without a parent because the right of British citizens to reunite with a foreign spouse is limited by an unreasonable income threshold, an impossible complicated application system fraught with Home Office errors, and no legal aid for families to challenge incorrect decisions.

And the Sydney Morning Herald from December 2017:


Australia Is Wilfully Damaging The Health Of Children On Nauru To Make A Point – And It Is Appalling

When we visited Nauru as paediatric specialists three years ago, we were asked to see 30 of the 100 children being detained on the island. Among them was a six-year-old girl who had tried to kill herself and a two-year-old boy with such severe behaviour problems a doctor had prescribed anti-psychotic medicines. Their parents were in despair. They had fled persecution, trying to save their children from harm, but had ended up imprisoned on a remote island, without hope.

We left with the view that these were the most traumatised children we had ever consulted on, far worse than children we had seen in Australia, Africa, Asia or Europe. Three years later, 43 of those children remain on the island. Officially they are now free to move around, but reports of attacks by locals show Nauru is not safe and so they remain in the “Regional Processing Centre”.

In 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that children at this centre were deeply traumatised psychologically, and had even been abused. Their detention was harming them. When Australia introduced mandatory detention in 1992, it took 10 weeks on average to process an application for refugee status. Now it takes years. As the numbers of children in detention fall, the length of time in detention rises. This is deliberate: wilfully damaging children’s health to deter others from seeking asylum.

See, what TIME Magazine and others do, using pictures of crying children regardless of their actual context, may make for an initially appealing narrative, but in the end their approach only distracts from what really matters. Which is that children need to be with their mothers (and preferably fathers).

Just reporting the facts on this is not only enough, it’s the only way to report on it. Once you start making up stuff, you’re done, and the truth is done.

US immigration laws are clearly not working; so change them. ICE is a terrible organization that has attracted far too many sociopaths. Close it down. Child abuse as a tool to instill fear has been an international political tool for a very long time. Those are the things that should be making headlines. Turning this into yet another anti-Trump narrative, using crying children as shortcuts to people’s emotions, doesn’t work, or not for long.

This is not about Trump. Trying to make it about him is not going to help those children. And that’s what you want, right? Right?