Oct 122023
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait with palette 1906

 

Israeli Assault on Gaza is Doomed to Fail (Scott Ritter)
Western Virtue Signaling Goes Hypersonic Over Israel (Marsden)
The Silence Of The Bears – Russia Is Reorienting Towards The Arabs (Helmer)
Russia Always Supported Establishment Of Palestinian State – Putin (TASS)
How A US ‘Peace Plan’ Brought War To Israel’s Doorstep (Fomenko)
Source of Dubious ‘Beheaded Babies’ Claim Is Israeli Settler Leader (GZ)
Extensive Gas Reserves Off The Gaza Coastline (Monotti)
Scott Ritter: Untracked US Arms to Client Regimes Land in Terrorist Hands (Sp.)
Western Political System Doesn’t Bring Smartest People To The Top – Putin (RT)
Zelensky ‘Starting To Annoy’ Everyone In US, Europe – Peskov (TASS)
Elon Musk Predicts ‘Civil War’ In Europe (RT)
Biden Classified Doc Scandal Deepens (ZH)
VP Biden Emailed About Son’s Business 29,000+ Times (Fed.)
The EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) May Undermine Fundamental Rights (BR)

 

 

 

 

Nap/Ritter

 

 

Assad

 

 

 

 

Rand Paul
https://twitter.com/i/status/1712108710909091959

 

 

RFK

 

 

 

 

“The Israeli military today is more comfortable making TikTok videos and posting Instagram photographs..”

Israeli Assault on Gaza is Doomed to Fail (Scott Ritter)

Israel has amassed some 300,000 troops, armed with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and artillery, and supported by helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Their mission is to secure the perimeter around Gaza to make sure that Hamas fighters are not able to sortie forth and commit atrocities against the citizens of Israel like those that occurred on October 7 and 8. At some point it is estimated that these troops will be ordered into Gaza for the purpose of destroying Hamas as an organization. But the sad fact is that the Israeli Army today is not up to such a mission. It lacks the training and fortitude for a task like that, regardless of outcome, and will cost Israel thousands of lives if seen to fruition. Any Israeli assault on Gaza is doomed to fail before it even begins.

A short look back at the preparedness and training of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) helps underscore the reasoning behind such a bleak assessment. Earlier this year, over the course of two weeks, stretching from late May through early June, the IDF carried out a massive exercise, code named “Firm Hand,” which tested the Israeli capability to wage war on multiple fronts. Like a similar exercise held the year before, code named “Chariots of Fire,” the “Firm Hand” event focused on a major air campaign being waged against Iran, and a major ground war being waged against Hezbollah, in northern Israel/southern Lebanon. Both exercises envisioned that there would be outbreaks of localized violence in the West Bank and along the Gaza Strip that would need to be contained by forces allocated to the Central and Southern military commands, respectively.

The focus of effort for both exercises was the Northern Command, and more specifically, the border with Lebanon. There, beyond the border, were located the forces of Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party which maintained a militia larger, better trained, and better equipped than most armies. Israel fought a 34-day war with Hezbollah in August 2006, pitting a force that had grown to over 30,000 troops, backed by tanks, artillery, helicopters, and fixed wing aircraft, against a lightly armed unit of around 3,000 fighters. The war was an unmitigated disaster for the IDF. Hezbollah commanders found that Israeli troops were by and large poorly organized and disciplined, with very little training that was relevant to the rigors of modern war. Israeli tank operators were unfamiliar with tactics relevant to the terrain they were operating in, leaving themselves open to Hezbollah attacks that ended up destroying 20 of Israel’s vaunted Merkava tanks.

Israel has been struggling to overcome the stain of its 2006 defeat at the hands of Hezbollah. In 2016, the IDF embarked on Project Gideon, a five-year plan designed to reconfigure and retrain the Israeli Army so that it would not repeat the mistakes of 2006. When Project Gideon was completed, Israel then embarked on what it called the “Tnufa” (“Momentum”) plan, intended to build on the changes effected under Project Gideon. Part of the Tnufa plan is something called Ground Horizon, a series of technical innovations designed to make Israeli ground forces more effective. The IDF forces participating in both the Chariots of Fire and Firm Hand exercises had been at the receiving end of the Project Gideon/Tnufa/Ground Horizon changes. Two of the IDF’s premier units, the 91st “Galilee” Division, responsible for defending against Hezbollah from Lebanon, and the 36th Ga’ash (“Golan”) Armored Division, which is responsible for the Syrian border, took the lead in the exercises.

They carried out a multidivisional exercise where they conducted combined arms training against a Hezbollah-like foe. The Central Command and Southern Command practiced several counterterrorism exercises which emphasized the security of residents in Judea and Samaria. When the Firm Hand exercise was completed, the IDF high command declared it a success. They had not exercised against an event like the Hamas attacks of October 7-8 of this year. Urban combat is extraordinarily difficult. It is made even more so when a defender can settle in amongst the rubble of a destroyed city. Ask the Germans at Stalingrad. Ask the French, British, Indians, and Poles who fought at Monte Casino. Ask either the Ukrainians or Russians about Mariupol and Artemovsk (Bakhmut).

The Israeli military today is more comfortable making TikTok videos and posting Instagram photographs than they are in perfecting the skillsets needed to close with and destroy your enemy through firepower and maneuver. This is a military that, with a few exceptions found in the elite reconnaissance units of the IDF, has grown accustomed to a peacetime ritual more akin to the life of a corrections officer than soldier. The IDF has become experts at arresting children, beating up women, and murdering unarmed men. Digging a competent enemy out of the rubble of a destroyed city, especially when they have prepared and organized for such a battle, is deadly work. The Israeli troops who have been assembled outside of Gaza are not ready for this fight. They are not trained or equipped for this fight. They are not psychologically prepared for this fight.

Read more …

“..some egghead in Brussels is watching coverage of all the gas guzzling pickup trucks used by Hamas to raid villages and kidnap people and asking, “What’s the carbon footprint on those?”

Western Virtue Signaling Goes Hypersonic Over Israel (Marsden)

“Israel has the right to defend itself – today and in the days to come. The European Union stands with Israel,” tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, effectively blessing a carte blanche response by the notoriously measured and restrained Israeli leadership in response to the Hamas attacks. “Who do you think you are? You’re unelected, and have no authority to determine EU foreign policy, which is set by @EUCouncil,” replied Irish MEP Clare Daly. “Europe does NOT ‘stand with Israel’. We stand for peace. You do not speak for us. If you’ve nothing constructive to say, and you clearly don’t, shut up.” In a single tweet, von der Leyen managed to position all of Europe as more militant than even the editorial staff of one of Israel’s main national newspapers, Haaretz, which placed blame for the attacks squarely on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of “annexation and dispossession” which “openly ignored the existence and rights of Palestinians.”

The implication is that no action occurs in a vacuum absent the risk of sparking a reaction. The danger of Europe’s unelected Queen Ursula unilaterally launching hypersonic virtue signaling missiles in a knee-jerk emotional response is that it can’t possibly substitute for foreign policy decided in more sobering moments. Yet these days, more often than not, it’s the only kind of foreign policy we get, on everything from Israel to Ukraine. In yet another example of symbolism getting ahead of policy pragmatism, the EU announced withdrawal of its support for Palestine … before walking back the move just hours later. On Monday, Israel’s defense minister announced that the IDF was going to blockade Gaza even more than usual by preventing any entry of water, food, fuel, and electricity.

And just a couple hours later, EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said the bloc was joining the cause – by withholding its humanitarian funding for the Palestinian people. Germany and Austria were the first to get the ball rolling on funding withdrawal. However, a few hours later, the EU aid freeze was reversed by the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, after an apparent epiphany that it would only end up “punishing all the Palestinian people” and would have “only further emboldened terrorists.” There’s no way Brussels may have been inadvertently funding those terrorists in the first place, is there? [..] Or maybe, given all the climate-conscious verbiage attached to the aid, the EU just got angry that Hamas’ hang gliders were motorized. You just know that some egghead in Brussels is watching coverage of all the gas guzzling pickup trucks used by Hamas to raid villages and kidnap people and asking, “What’s the carbon footprint on those?”

All the virtue signaling in the world can’t now compensate for a lack of due diligence that the schizophrenic withdrawal and subsequent reinstatement of Palestinian funding suggests. It wouldn’t be the first time that innocent people suffered because of Brussels’ incompetence. Just ask the people of the entire European bloc currently facing seemingly endless economic hardship so their leaders can keep patting themselves on the back for supporting Ukraine. And just like in Ukraine, Brussels doesn’t seem too interested in availing itself of an opportunity to play any kind of a mitigating or thoughtful role amid this conflict, but is rather taking its usual seat in riding shotgun to the US neocons on whatever the current thing happens to be.

While even Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that there’s no “smoking gun” tying Iran to the latest Hamas attacks, that hasn’t stopped the usual neocon warmongers on the American side of the Transatlantic alliance from substituting sloganeering for actual policy, either – in favor of Iranian regime change, of course. “This is one of history’s best cases for regime change,” said former US National Security Advisor John Bolton. Because, when it comes to drumming up Iranian regime change, neocons are suddenly willing to take Hamas’ word to the bank as their trustworthy source for Iran’s involvement. “The Biden Administration should get a spine and pin the blame on Tehran where it belongs,” Bolton later added. It “belongs,” facts and policy be damned, because it fits the radical neocon narrative, even if it ends up being to the detriment of American lives and interests.

Read more …

“..Erdogan and Putin are contemplating a Turkish ship convoy of aid to Gaza, protected from Israeli attack by the Russian Navy from its Tartous base on the Syrian coast, and by the Russian Air Force from Hmeimim..”

The Silence Of The Bears – Russia Is Reorienting Towards The Arabs (Helmer)

From a policy of equivalence and equivocation between Israel and the Arabs, Russia has reached the policy of engagement on the Arab side. The driver has been the US war to defeat and destroy Russia through the Ukraine. The longer the new Palestinian war lasts, the more clearly Russian military and political strategy in the Middle East will pursue a new anti-American line. The consequences are as great as the defeat of the US and NATO which Russia is now inflicting in Europe, and of the western sanctions war in the global commodity markets and the trading lanes at sea. “We are witnessing a sharp deterioration of the situation in the Middle East,” Putin said in his public welcome for Iraq’s prime minister, Muhammed Shia al-Sudani, at the Kremlin on Tuesday morning.

“I think that many will agree with me that this is a clear example of the United States’ failed policy in the Middle East, which tried to monopolise the settlement process, but, unfortunately, was not concerned with finding compromises acceptable to both sides, but, on the contrary, put forward its own ideas about how this should be done and put pressure on both sides, truly both — first on one, then on the other. But each time without considering the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people, bearing in mind, first of all, the need to implement the decision of the UN Security Council on the creation of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state.” The Foreign Ministry followed Putin later in the afternoon, when the regular weekly briefing by Maria Zakharova was advanced several days early in order to report there have been direct negotiations with the leaders of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, the Arab League, Iran, and Turkey – not with Israel.”*

“The US bet on the ‘freezing’ of the status quo and the promotion of ‘economic peace’, as well as the use of collective formats tailored for crisis response, has not justified itself,” Zakharova said. “Everyone sees the result…The statements of American politicians and public figures calling for ethnic cleansing in the region look monstrous. They openly call for one group of people [to be] near-doomed to complete destruction. Once again, aggression, violation of the rule of law, and the caveman’s hatred have emerged on the surface of the American declarations of good looks and human rights dogmas.” In the first direct Russian warning to the US Navy force in the Eastern Mediterranean, Zakharova added: “So far we see that the situation is developing along the path of escalation. There is a great risk of involving third forces in this conflict. And this is fraught with long-term consequences for the region and for the world.”

Putin followed in the evening on the telephone with the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The need for an immediate ceasefire by both sides and the resumption of the negotiation process was emphasised,” according to the Kremlin’s communiqué. “Mutual readiness to actively contribute to this was expressed…Separate issues of Russian-Turkish cooperation in various fields were also touched upon.” Erdogan’s press release was more revealing. He and Putin had “touched upon what initiatives can be taken to meet humanitarian needs in the region, as the Turkish president told Putin that targeting civilian settlements is worrying and Türkiye does not welcome such move.” Erdogan’s twitter announcement adds: “President Erdogan and President Putin of Russia also exchanged views on potential initiatives to meet humanitarian needs in the region.”

This is a hint that Erdogan and Putin are contemplating a Turkish ship convoy of aid to Gaza, protected from Israeli attack by the Russian Navy from its Tartous base on the Syrian coast, and by the Russian Air Force from Hmeimim. This humanitarian operation by sea would aim at breaking the blockade of the coast by the Israelis, and running the gauntlet of the USS Gerald Ford and its squadron further offshore. If this operation, a reminder of the Gaza Flotilla of 2010, is in planning now – the open signals are warning Washington and the US Navy to expect it – then the confrontation, and the risk to the US and Israel of strategic defeat at sea, are unprecedented.

Read more …

“..those who have been trying for decades to solve this problem by force have the upper hand. Unfortunately, this leads to such tragic events as we are witnessing now..”

Russia Always Supported Establishment Of Palestinian State – Putin (TASS)

Russia has always advocated the implementation of the UN Security Council’s decision on the creation of an independent Palestinian state, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the plenary session of the Russian Energy Week. “We have always supported the implementation of the decisions of the UN Security Council, I mean, first of all, the creation of an independent Palestinian state. This is the root of all problems,” Putin pointed out. He also said that Russia’s position on the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict did not emerge as a result of the recent tragic events, but was formed over the past decades. “And this position is well known both to the Israeli side and to our friends in Palestine,” the Russian president added.

He noted that the Palestinian-Israeli issue has been accompanied and aggravated by “mediation activities” of a number of countries in recent years. According to the Russian president, there are still political figures and experts in these countries today who believe that it is necessary to follow the path of creating an independent state. “And there are such people in Israel. But those who have been trying for decades to solve this problem by force have the upper hand. Unfortunately, this leads to such tragic events as we are witnessing now,” Putin said.

Read more …

Abraham Accords. Trump, Kushner, Pompeo.

How A US ‘Peace Plan’ Brought War To Israel’s Doorstep (Fomenko)

Conflict between Israel and Palestine is about as common as the sun rising in the East, but this time it is different, not only because of the frightening number of victims on both sides over just a few days, but because such conflicts have not constituted a formal war since 1973, and the legally recognized territory of Israel has not been invaded by an enemy since 1948. The stakes are huge, but one might question, how exactly did it come to this? Why is this happening now? And how does it relate to the broader context of not only the Middle East, but the world? Two words: Abraham Accords. The United States’ push to create a one-sided, unbalanced and effective appeasement of Israel’s actions, coupled with an attempt to use such to isolate Iran, has led to the calculation by Hamas that the only way to salvage its cause is to unleash a full-scale armed struggle.

In doing so, the militants’ goal is not to destroy Israel head on, because we must acknowledge that such an outcome is not possible. Rather, it is to turn the diplomatic and political tide in the region against Israel and the US in the name of a new Jihad. The Abraham Accords are a peace initiative started in 2020 by the Trump administration that seeks to get Arab countries to unilaterally recognize the State of Israel, without West Jerusalem itself making any concessions regarding the issue of Palestinian statehood. Through the accords, driven by the pro-Israel fanaticism of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the US was successful in getting the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco, and Bahrain to open up diplomatic relations with Israel. The US typically incentivized this by making unilateral concessions to these countries as part of a deal, such as removing Sudan from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list or recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

The Abraham Accords were not a serious peace initiative because all they did was bribe countries to effectively side with Israel and abandon Palestine, instead of seeking peace in one of the most prominent simmering conflicts in the region. Moreover, the accords’ true geopolitical intention was to facilitate the diplomatic isolation of Iran by weakening and splitting the anti-Zionist cause. The grander strategy, by extension, was to facilitate American hegemony over the Middle East, given Israel’s very close relations with the US. Opposition to the US in the region has always gone hand-in-hand with opposition to Israel, be it through Arab nationalism (Syria, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and, historically, Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt) or Islamic fundamentalism (Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas).

In line with this, the US hoped that, by diplomatically isolating Iran, imposing tough sanctions on it and attempting to force it to capitulate on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Washington could sustain its order over the Middle East and maintain its favourable security relationships in the region. The Abraham Accords, to this end, encouraged appeasement of Israel, rather than making a mutually acceptable compromise which sought to move towards a two-state solution. In promoting this, the US was happy to allow Israel under Netanyahu to continually move the goalposts towards a “one-state solution” and to effectively ignore Palestinian resistance, which it now describes as “unprovoked.”

Read more …

”..who incited riots to ‘wipe out’ Palestinian village..”

Source of Dubious ‘Beheaded Babies’ Claim Is Israeli Settler Leader (GZ)

After an Israeli reserve soldier named David Ben Zion told a reporter Palestinian militants “cut [off] heads of babies,” Biden, Netanyahu, and the international media amplified the dubious claim. The Grayzone has identified Ben Zion as a fanatical settler leader who incited riots by demanding a Palestinian town be “wiped out.” An international outcry erupted when Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced that Palestinian militants from the besieged Gaza Strip had killed 40 “babies,” and beheaded several of them during an incursion into Kfar Aza, a kibbutz on the Gaza border. President Joseph Biden repeated the inflammatory claim during an October 10 White House Rose Garden address, while networks across the West carried the story without a shred of critical scrutiny.

According to CNN correspondent Nic Robertson, apparently citing Israeli military sources, Palestinian militants carried out, “ISIS-style executions,” in which they were “cutting the heads off of people,” including babies and pets. The Grayzone has now identified a key source of the claim that Palestinian militants beheaded Israeli babies. He is David Ben Zion, a Deputy Commander of Unit 71 of the Israeli army who also happens to be an extremist settler leader who incited violent riots against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank earlier this year. In an October 10 interview with reporter Nicole Zedek of the Israeli state-sponsored i24 network, Ben Zion stated, “We walked door to door, we killed a lot of terrorists. They are very bad. They cut heads of children, they cut heads of women. But we are stronger than them.” He added, “We know that they are animals,” referring to Palestinians, “but we found that they don’t have any heart.”

Hours after his interview with i24, still in the village of Kfar Aza, a uniformed Ben Zion could be seen repeatedly grinning ear-to-ear in a video posted to his Facebook – an odd disposition for a supposed witness to the methodical butchering of babies. Earlier that day, i24’s Zedek declared during a live report from Kfar Aza, “About 40 babies were taken out on gurneys… Cribs overturned, strollers left behind, doors left wide open.’” Zedek’s report has been viewed tens of millions of times on Twitter and promoted by Israel’s Foreign Ministry – which underwrites her network. Hours later, she qualified her statement, stating, “Soldiers told me they believe 40 babies/children were killed. The exact death toll is still unknown as the military continues to go house to house and find more Israeli casualties.” Yet the unverified tale quickly made its way to the highest levels of leadership, as if by design.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman stated unequivocally that babies and toddlers were found with their “heads decapitated,” while President Joe Biden himself vaguely gestured towards “stomach-churning reports of babies being killed.” Likewise, cable news has flown into a frenzy, breathlessly reporting the story despite the IDF walking back its initial confirmation. Meanwhile, some reporters who initially carried the official Israeli allegations about beheaded babies began issuing qualifications of their own. Oren Ziv, an Israeli reporter who joined the military’s official tour of Kfar Aza, commented on Twitter, “I’m getting a lot of question about the reports of ‘Hamas beheaded babies’ that were published after the media tour in the village. During the tour we didn’t see any evidence of this, and the army spokesperson or commanders also didn’t mention any such incidents.”

Read more …

X thread.

Extensive Gas Reserves Off The Gaza Coastline (Monotti)

Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline: “It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine. The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.

Who Owns the Gas Fields?
The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine. The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves. British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics. The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.”

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“We do that everywhere we go. We just give the weapons away and we walk away…

Scott Ritter: Untracked US Arms to Client Regimes Land in Terrorist Hands (Sp.)

US military aid to its client regimes goes unaccounted for — and often finds its way to terrorist groups, says a former UN weapons inspector. Video emerged this week of a Hamas guerrilla thanking the US for the rifle he carried in the groups incursion into Israel, saying it came from a shipment of weapons to Ukraine that had found its way onto the black market. Scott Ritter told Sputnik that Washington is lackadaisical when it comes to keeping track of arms it gifts to its foreign proxies. “We’ve seen the weapons some of the Hamas assault squads are making use of American-made M4 rifles,” Ritter noted. “So it’s not a question of whether or not they have them. We know they have them. The question is, where did they get them from?” “Historically we tend to flood a client state with weapons as part of our security agreement,” Ritter said.

“The American calculation is never about the quality of the assistance being provided, but the quantity, because the quantification is linked to a dollar figure that the US Congress has established.” “That dollar figure needs to be translated into a deliverable that could be reported back to Congress, saying that we have provided this much money for this and that. And so weapons is the easiest thing we will send in,” he added. He recalled how during the Western occupation of Iraq, advisers to the new police force asked for rifles and handguns from the US — which corrupt officers then sold on the black market. The firearms ultimately ended up in the hands of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)* militants in neighboring Turkiye, where they were captured by police and traced back to the US.

“We do that everywhere we go. We just give the weapons away and we walk away,” Ritter said. Washington’s failure to keep track of its arms handouts to the Kiev regime is also being felt acutely in West Africa.”We see the same thing in Africa, where weaponry that we provided to Ukraine, in particular handheld anti-tank missiles, are showing up in the Lake Chad region in the hands of Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group that’s using them against Niger forces, the forces from Chad, forces from Nigeria, forces from Cameroon, many of these forces whom we train,” Ritter said. “Our weapons that we send to Ukraine get in the hands of the people that are fighting the forces that are ostensibly friendly to us. So this is a big problem.”

The former US Marine said government officials seemed unconcerned where the billions of dollars’ worth of military aid ends up. “There’s literally no accounting for these weapons,” Ritter warned. “There’s no quality control in terms of being able to tell Congress or tell anybody, American policymakers, what the status of these weapons is.”

Read more …

“Europe could have just said: ‘Open this route now. We need it to support our economy. But no..”

Western Political System Doesn’t Bring Smartest People To The Top – Putin (RT)

Russia sees absolutely no sense in the EU’s current policy of forgoing Russian energy supplies, particularly gas, President Vladimir Putin told the Russian Energy Week forum on Wednesday. He added that “the modern political system in [the West] obviously sometimes brings not the smartest people to the top.” Speaking about the issue of Russian gas exports to Europe, he pointed to what he called a lack of common sense in some European capitals. “There is no sensible explanation to why some European economies, including Germany’s, should behave like this,” the president said, referring to the situation in the European energy market. He called it “surprising” that European nations did not demand that Kiev reopen one of the Russian gas pipelines going through Ukraine after it was shut down.

Ukraine halted Russian gas transit along one of the routes running through its territory back in May, arguing that it had lost control over one of the gas compressor stations. The station in question is located in the Lugansk People’s Republic, which voted to join Russia last year. The Ukrainian pipeline operator claimed that Russian forces controlling the compressor station were somehow “interfering” with its technical processes and shut down its part of the line. Moscow denied the allegations and warned that Russian gas exports could not be effectively re-routed to other pipelines to compensate for the shutdown. In July, Kiev said that it might cut Russian gas supplies to Europe altogether as it does not intend to renew the transit deal with Moscow. “I believe, by the winter of 2024, Europe will not need Russian gas at all,” Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko told Politico.

The 2019 transit agreement allows Russia to export some 40 billion cubic meters of gas per year via Ukraine until the end of 2024. A third of this volume should have reached Europe via a pipeline that Kiev has already cut off. “Europe could have just said: ‘Open this route now. We need it to support our economy. But no,” Putin said, commenting on Kiev’s actions. A similar approach could have been used when Poland terminated a supply contract with Russia ahead of its end-2022 expiry date. Warsaw rejected Moscow’s demand for ruble payments in May 2022 and started using its leg of the Yamal-Europe Pipeline to pump stored gas from Germany. The Yamal-Europe Pipeline, which links European customers to the natural gas fields in Russia’s north, used to carry nearly half of Gazprom’s westbound gas deliveries.

Moscow repeatedly stated that it was ready to restart supplies of natural gas to the EU via this route, adding that the shipments had been halted in the first place for political reasons. Germany might have pointed to the fact that it was the biggest donor to the EU common budget while Poland was the largest recipient of EU funds, Putin said, adding that Berlin might have told Warsaw “not to bite the hand that feeds you.” The German government could have also approved the use of the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the Russian leader stated. One of the two pipeline strings remained operable after a series of underwater explosions that destroyed the other three strings of Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. “Nord Stream 2 is a direct [route] to Germany,” Putin said, adding that it could have “delivered 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year.” Instead, Germany “opts to buy [gas] with a 30% premium and not use our energy resource. That’s their choice,” the president added.

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“People are starting to wonder: What is this man spending our money on if Ukraine is a country most famous for, you know, being such an oasis of corruption on Earth?”

Zelensky ‘Starting To Annoy’ Everyone In US, Europe – Peskov (TASS)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has found himself in a rather challenging situation, as he is getting on the nerves of everyone in the United States and Europe, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the Moscow. The Kremlin. Putin TV program, an excerpt of which was posted on anchor Pavel Zarubin’s Telegram channel. “Zelensky is in a rather tricky position. First of all, he is starting to touch a nerve. He is starting to annoy everyone both in America and Europe,” Peskov said. “People are starting to wonder: What is this man spending our money on if Ukraine is a country most famous for, you know, being such an oasis of corruption on Earth?” the Kremlin spokesman said.

“Certainly, nobody likes it, and this dissatisfaction with Zelensky will grow,” Peskov concluded, pointing out that the Ukrainian president feels this and “is beginning to crack.” Moreover, the Kremlin spokesman continued, “he [Zelensky] still has that professional greed: How could the weapons promised to me be given to Israel?” “That is why things are not so easy for him. Things are not so easy. Traditionally, they are already spoiled and are used to this sort of mentorship. We will wait and see how [the situation] unfolds from here,” the Russian presidential spokesman added.

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Immigration.

Elon Musk Predicts ‘Civil War’ In Europe (RT)

US entrepreneur Elon Musk has suggested that European Union may face the prospect of civil war due to its immigrant-welcoming policies. Two weeks ago, he visited the US southern border, wading into the bitter debate over immigration in his home country. “If current trends continue, civil war in Europe is inevitable,” he claimed in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday. Musk was responding to a thread by Moscow-born British satirist and political commentator Konstantin Kisin. He denounced what he called “people celebrating rape and murder by a proscribed terrorist organisation as the police stand and watch in major European cities.” Kisin was referring to pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the wake of the deadly incursion by Hamas into southern Israel last week.

Some residents of European nations focused on condemning Israel for mistreatment of people in the West Bank and Gaza rather than condemning the killings and kidnappings of Israelis by the Palestinian militant movement. “We import more people who think this way every day,” Kisin noted, decrying the lack of “a sensible immigration policy” screening for people with “cultural values that match our own.” He was presumably referring to the EU rather than the UK, where Conservative governments have ramped up immigration controls since Brexit. Kisin concluded that British author Douglas Murray was correct when he argued that European civilization was committing suicide in his 2017 book ‘The Strange Death of Europe’. Immigration is a hot-button issue in the US as well, as critics of the administration of President Joe Biden accuse him of turning a blind eye to illegal border crossings for the sake of ideological and political goals.

Musk weighed in on the debate in late September, when he visited the border city of Eagle Pass in Texas. The US should “smooth out legal immigration and stop a flow of people that is of such magnitude that we’re leading to a collapse of social services,” Musk urged at the time. He declared himself “extremely pro-immigrant,” citing his own status as a naturalized citizen. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York attacked her colleague, Tony Gonzales of Texas, who gave Musk a tour of the border area. She said the Republican “decided to skip town to joyride with a billionaire” instead of staying in Washington DC and working on ways to avoid a government shutdown. Congress has since passed a compromise stopgap spending bill, prolonging the fight over budgetary priorities. Musk has previously branded Ocasio-Cortez “not very smart” on immigration issues.

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“There is no reasonable explanation as to why this many White House employees and lawyers were so concerned with retrieving boxes they believed only contained personal documents and materials..”

1/ He was not allowed at any time to have any of the -highly classified- docs. Period.
2/ He now says (paraphrased) that he didn’t know they were there.
3/ That only makes it worse.

Biden Classified Doc Scandal Deepens (ZH)

More than a year before White House lawyers claim to have ‘discovered’ classified documents at the Penn Biden Center in November of 2022, evidence has emerged that White House employees ‘inspected’ or ‘took inventory’ of them, while another official removed “a few” boxes containing Biden materials that October, according to the House Oversight Committee. According to a letter to White House counsel Edward Siskel from Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY), the official timeline of events provided by the Biden team “omitted months of communications, planning, and coordinating.” Comer says that a Penn Biden Center employee told the committee that on March 18, 2021, senior White House aide Annie Tomasini “[took] inventory of President Biden’s documents and materials” stored at the center, where he established a private office after his vice presidency.

The same witness also said that on Oct. 13, 2022, Oval Office deputy director of operations, Ashley Williams, removed “a few” of Biden’s boxes. The White House has previously claimed that all relevant documents were either moved to the National Archives or the DOJ, while Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, said that the documents were discovered on November 2, 2022 – a total lie. The committee, which has conducted three witness interviews, says on five occasions, White House employees, including former White House Counsel Dana Remus, and the president’s former assistant Kathy Chung, a current Department of Defense employee, went to the Penn Biden Center to take inventory, pack up or remove materials. These visits occurred between March 2021 and mid-October 2022. -CBS News

“There is no reasonable explanation as to why this many White House employees and lawyers were so concerned with retrieving boxes they believed only contained personal documents and materials,” said Comer in his letter. The letter requests transcribed interviews with Remus, Williams, Tomasini, Anthony Bernal, a top adviser to the first lady, and Katie Reilly, a West Wing aide, according to CBS News. It is also asking for documentation and communication related to the documents. The committee has already interviewed Chung, who was then-Vice President Biden’s assistant. Democrats, of course, have resorted to whataboutism…

“Former President Trump’s willful retention of hundreds of highly classified documents, his defiance of court-ordered subpoenas, his reported disclosure of our country’s most sensitive national security information, and false statements to law enforcement should worry the Chair of a congressional committee with jurisdiction over government records,” said a spokesman for Democrats on the House Oversight Committee. “Instead Chairman Comer is using the Committee to focus on President Biden whose complete cooperation with the Special Counsel’s investigation stands in stark contrast, including voluntarily participating in a two-day interview with the Special Counsel, and opening the doors to his Penn Biden Center office and private residence to investigators.”

As Jonathan Turley noted earlier, the ‘ultimate punchline’ here could be that Special Counsel Robert Hur may be in a sticky situation if he actually finds evidence of a crime. On its face, the President claims that he had no knowledge of these documents appears dubious at best. Some classified material reportedly goes back to Biden’s time as a senator — material that he would have had to remove from a sensitive compartmented information facility or secure room on Capitol Hill. More importantly, the documents from the Obama Administration were removed when Biden left as vice president. They were then divided and repeatedly moved to different locations. That suggests not just knowledge but a purpose. Why were they divided and some documents were found in his garage and possibly his library?

If Hur found fingerprints that contradict Biden’s statements, he could face not just some of the same charges brought against Trump but also possible false statement or obstruction charges. Notably, Biden used counsel to conduct searches and (as in the Trump case) additional classified materials were found after the Biden team said that they had finished their searches. There are serious questions over whether, in allowing uncleared counsel to search through these documents, evidence may have been lost in how they were stored or appeared in locations like the garage. Hur can bring charges against third parties, who would not be barred from indictment under the DOJ policy. But what does Hur then do if he has evidence against the President himself?

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4 years as VP is some 1450 days. That’s 20 mails per day, every single day. That’s a lot. Doesn’t mention the pseudonym accounts.

VP Biden Emailed About Son’s Business 29,000+ Times (Fed.)

President Joe Biden denied long before he was inaugurated that he ever discussed business with his son. A new FOIA obtained by America First Legal via lawsuit, however, revealed that Joe emailed his son Hunter Biden, his brother James “Jim” Biden, and their respective firms tens of thousands of times over the course of his vice presidency. In a joint status report published by the Washington D.C. District Court on Friday, the National Archives and Records Administration reluctantly admitted that it knew of 4,243 emails between then-Vice President Joe and Hunter Biden, another 1,751 emails between Joe and Jim, 19,335 emails between Joe and Hunter’s private equity firm Rosemont Seneca, and 3,738 emails between Joe and Jim’s Chinese-communist party connected consulting firm Lion Hall Group.

Joe, Hunter, Jim, and the firms listed in the court documents are at the center of the GOP investigation into the Biden family influence-peddling operation. “These damning numbers further confirm that there was never a wall separating the Office of the Vice President and Hunter Biden’s business endeavors. In fact, there was extensive commingling between them,” AFL wrote in a statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. It’s unclear what exactly the emails said since NARA claimed it would take more than 15 months to sort through the data requested by AFL. The existence of the emails, however, is proof alone that Biden has lied about his involvement in his family’s scheme to sell political favors to foreign oligarchs.

Biden insisted in 2019 that “there will be an absolute wall between personal and private [business interests] and the government.” “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses. Period,” Biden said. From the October 2020 debate stage, the then-presidential candidate specifically denied that Hunter “made money” on China. At the time, the New York Post had already reported on emails from Hunter’s abandoned laptop detailing how the younger Biden pursued business deals with one of China’s largest energy companies with hopes of cashing in “for me and my family.” Since then, receipts, White House visitor logs, testimonies from Biden business partners, text messages, and documents eviscerating Joe’s lies have surfaced.

Hunter’s text messages, obtained by the House Ways and Means Committee, indicate the Bidens saw Joe as the one and “only asset” of the Biden family “brand” that they sold to foreign businessmen in exchange for cash. This pay-to-play racket, receipts suggest, enriched members of the Biden family, including Hunter and Jim, by at least $20 million. Despite corporate media trying to cover for his flip-flop by claiming that his relationship with Hunter’s business partners has “long been known,” Joe’s involvement as the “big guy,” who would receive a cut from a deal with Chinese energy company CEFC and other foreign players, was apparent from the start.

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“Trusted Flaggers..”

The EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) May Undermine Fundamental Rights (BR)

The Digital Services Act (DSA) aims to provide a European solution to an important societal challenge: illegal content and misinformation online. These are real and significant problems, for which new legislation was needed indeed. The DSA was developed and approved during the pandemic. It is a lengthy and complex text, and I believe it has received insufficient political and public scrutiny. The DSA does contain highly valuable provisions, e.g. providing mechanisms for fighting child abuse and for enforcing transparency requirements in online advertising and recommendation systems. However, there are also concerning parts, which may undermine fundamental rights, especially freedom of expression and information, a cornerstone of European democracies and enshrined as Article 11 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Hereunder, I summarize my understanding of some key points in the DSA, omitting technical details and nuances, and emphasizing those potential risks.

• The DSA requires that online platforms make it easy for anyone to report allegedly illegal content. Online platforms (and providers of so-called ‘hosting services’ more generally), such as social media platforms, must provide user-friendly mechanisms that allow anyone to ‘notify’ (i.e. flag or report) content on the platform (e.g., a message on X) that they believe to be illegal (Art 16).

• Online platforms become liable for reported content. Once notified, platforms (e.g., X) become liable for the notified content, if it is indeed illegal (Art 6, and Art 16 paragraph 3). They then must quickly take appropriate action against it (suppression, removal of the content, suspension or blocking of the author…) (Art 16).

• Notices submitted by so-called Trusted Flaggers must be handled with priority. Trusted Flaggers are organizations that will be certified as such by the so-called national Digital Service Coordinators (DSCs) (see below and Art 49-51). Platforms must handle notices submitted by Trusted Flaggers as a matter of priority (Art 22). Trusted Flaggers that notify content too often inaccurately can lose their privileged status, but they risk nothing more than that (Art 22, par 6-7).

• Complaint and redress procedures must be established, but they will take time. Complaint and redress procedures must be established and clearly communicated (see e.g. Art 16 par 5, and Art 17 par 3(f)). Such procedures must include an internal complaint-handling system (Art 20), out-of-court dispute settlement bodies (Art 21), and judicial redress. However, these procedures can drag on for months, during which time the measure (suppression, removal, etc.) remains in force.

• Terms & Conditions (T&Cs) are used as a means against undesirable (but not illegal) content. Notifications can compel a platform to take measures for two possible reasons (e.g., Art 17 par 1):
1/ because the platform also deems the content to be illegal (or, perhaps more often, because it does not have the time or resources to investigate, and thus prefers to err on the side of caution), or
2/ because the content violates the platform’s T&Cs (but is not necessarily illegal).

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Vampire squid

 

 

Cuttlefish

 

 

Dogs
https://twitter.com/i/status/1712336414795334018

 

 

Turtle
https://twitter.com/i/status/1712120874944598105

 

 

 

 

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