Apr 012024
 
 April 1, 2024  Posted by at 8:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  31 Responses »


Caravaggio The Denial of Saint Peter 1610

 

Easter Becomes the Latest Flash Point in American Politics (Turley)
Jack Smith Handed a ‘Blank Check’ to Target Trump, Lawyers Argue (ET)
Jack Smith Seeks to Shield Names of Potential Witnesses in Trump Case (ET)
How America’s Top Spymaster Sees The World Is Rather Disappointing (Amar)
US Congressman Calls For ‘Hiroshima and Nagasaki’ in Gaza and Ukraine (RT)
A Genocide Foretold (Chris Hedges)
UK Govt Lawyers Conclude Israel In Breach Of Humanitarian Law (RT)
Biden Claims Arab States Are Ready to Recognize Israel (Sp.)
Moscow Demands That Kiev Surrender Terrorism Suspects (RT)
US House To Consider Ukraine Aid Bill In April (TASS)
Ukraine Turned Into Afghan Drug Lords Paradise Under Western Watch (Sp.)
Why Russia Didn’t Join NATO (Sp.)
The Assange Hearing Permission Appeal Judgment (Craig Murray)
61 Unexpected PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in Food Packaging (SciAm)

 

 


Mr. Fish – Genocide

 

 

Sachs Russia
https://twitter.com/i/status/1774186219703869896

 

 

CCP bridge

 

 

 

 

Habba

 

 

Snowden: “Warren Buffett, the billionaire head of Berkshire Hathaway, will probably go down as the greatest investor in history… Berkshire shares have seen an average annual return of 20.0%…”

Meanwhile:


just some members of congress outperforming the greatest investor in history. we are surely fortunate to be represented by such extraordinary talents

 

 

 

 

Pot and kettle:

“Sadly, it’s unsurprising politicians are seeking to divide and weaken our country with cruel, hateful, and dishonest rhetoric..”

Easter Becomes the Latest Flash Point in American Politics (Turley)

It often seems like there is nothing left today that is not a battleground over our political and social differences. We can now add Easter. The Biden White House triggered a firestorm by picking Good Friday to announce that Easter Sunday will now be the “Transgender Day of Visibility.” At the same time, families objected to regulations on Easter egg designs, barring children from including any religious imagery or references on this religious holiday. There are even objections to the use of eggs at the annual White House egg roll. Despite the criticism from various politicians, including Speaker Mike Johnson, Jean-Pierre went on X Saturday to reaffirm that Sunday is to be designated as the “Transgender Day of Visibility.” Transgender Visibility Day actually began 15 years ago and many have noted that the overlap with Easter Sunday this year is a coincidence.

President Joe Biden has made no comment on the controversy and issued his Easter proclamation[..] White House spokesperson Andrew Bates did respond on Saturday: “As a Christian who celebrates Easter with Family, President Biden stands for bringing people together and upholding the dignity and freedoms of every American. Sadly, it’s unsurprising politicians are seeking to divide and weaken our country with cruel, hateful, and dishonest rhetoric. President Biden will never abuse his faith for political purposes or for profit.” In the meantime, the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll is being called a celebration of “National Guard Families.” The 2024 “Call for Youth Art” flyer states that “Children should depict on an egg template (see Art Submission form) a snapshot of their life – a favorite activity, scenery in your state, your military family, a day-in-your life, etc.” However, under its restrictions list, the flyer noted, “The Submission must not include any questionable content, religious symbols, overtly religious themes, or partisan political statements.”

One can understand the desire to bar “Let’s Go Brandon” eggs. Moreover, the Easter egg event has long been treated as open to people of all faiths and background. It has been treated more as a celebration of spring. However, some families have objected that the holiday does have a religious origin and that the bar on any religious references like a cross or other symbols is an affront. As a legal matter, there is no bar on religious displays in such White House events, which have included such symbols in celebrations of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim holidays. On the positive side, the egg roll will involve eggs. PETA has asked the First Lady to substitute potatoes for the eggs. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk objected that:

“Children love animals and would be sad to learn that the eggs used for fun and games at the White House come from tormented hens whose lives are spent in cages that afford them less space than a standard sheet of typing paper. Easter should be a time of renewal and joy for all sentient beings—and that means hens, too.” By having children decorate and roll spuds, Newkirk suggested, the First Lady could remove these little “cholesterol bombs” from the diet of children. Besides, she added, “potatoes are cheaper and healthier than eggs and leave birds in peace.” The head of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) added his own warning to people not to eat whole eggs and to cut back on the sweets to protect their health. However, the Easter Bunny appears to have been vindicated this week in a scientific study that found that eating 12 eggs a week did not increase one’s cholesterol. Indeed, it found possible heart benefits to egg consumption. That proposal was clearly rejected for now.

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“Mr. Smith’s actions as a notionally independent United States attorney are beyond the scope of what the Supreme Court has permitted, and therefore, his actions are unlawful..”

Jack Smith Handed a ‘Blank Check’ to Target Trump, Lawyers Argue (ET)

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump argued in his classified documents case that special prosecutor Jack Smith has been given too many resources while other parts of the Department of Justice haven’t. The former president faces dozens of charges that he allegedly illegally retained classified materials after he left office in 2021. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has sought to delay the trial, while U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has not set a firm date for when it will start. His attorneys earlier this week argued that Mr. Smith’s team was handed “a blank check” that has imperiled the former president’s rights. “To be clear, offering the Special Counsel a blank check has harmed President Trump’s substantial rights, and DOJ [Department of Justice] simply could not have funded the entirety of Jack Smith’s expansive politically motivated witch hunt from an alternative source,” Trump attorney Christopher Kise wrote in court to Judge Cannon earlier this week, adding:

“Since the founding, resource constraints on prosecutors have been regarded as an indispensable guarantee of substantive fairness.” Because there are no constraints, the lawyer wrote that the special counsel’s office can “engage in an unabashed political crusade with zero accountability” against President Trump. Mr. Smith was appointed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2022 to pursue the classified documents case and the federal election case in Washington. “The Special Counsel’s Office is pursuing two different cases in two jurisdictions in order to maximize interference in the ongoing presidential election,” Mr. Kise wrote. “This tactic is the luxury of a prosecutor facing no resource constraints. And it is far from a forgone conclusion.” The special prosecutor’s team has yet to file a response to the court motion.

Later in the motion, Mr. Kise wrote that other parts of the DOJ have been denied funding, including targeting Big Tech antitrust cases. “In 2019, for example, DOJ was forced to prioritize its antitrust review of Google over Apple because it could not afford to pursue both,” he wrote. Earlier, his attorneys and third parties have argued that Mr. Smith’s appointment by the U.S. attorney general violated the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause, noting that Congress has to approve his team’s expenditures. Last week, a law professor submitted a “friend of the court,” or amicus, brief in the case, arguing that Mr. Smith is not an “officer of the United States” due to how he was appointed.

“Simply being appointed by a department head does not elevate that position to the status of an inferior ‘Officer of the United States.’ Indeed, the mere fact that a person is appointed by the Head of a Department does not make that position an office at all,” Professor Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law in Houston wrote, referring to a brief that Mr. Smith had filed in which he described himself as an “inferior officer.” “Instead, precedents … provide that an office must be continuous.” “Mr. Smith’s actions as a notionally independent United States attorney are beyond the scope of what the Supreme Court has permitted, and therefore, his actions are unlawful,” he also wrote.

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“Mr. Smith also wants redacted, in addition to the names of potential government witnesses, “any pronouns revealing their gender..”

Jack Smith Seeks to Shield Names of Potential Witnesses in Trump Case (ET)

Special counsel Jack Smith on March 29 asked a federal judge to approve redactions to filings made by a co-defendant of former President Donald Trump. The briefs submitted by Walt Nauta, the co-defendant, contain information that should not be made public, Mr. Smith told U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon. That includes the names of people that government officials may call as witnesses in a trial, the special counsel, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, said. “Witness safety and privacy are paramount pretrial. The limited redactions of the names satisfy the good cause standard established in Chicago Tribune Co. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., as well as the higher standard requiring a compelling interest for the redactions and the redactions being narrowly tailored,” Mr. Smith said in his request.

The Chicago Tribune case, decided in 2001 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, hinged on a federal rule that enables keeping information secret if there is “good cause” to do so. “Federal courts have superimposed a balancing of interests approach for Rule 26’s good cause requirement,” that ruling stated. “This standard requires the district court to balance the party’s interest in obtaining access against the other party’s interest in keeping the information confidential.” Mr. Smith also wants redacted, in addition to the names of potential government witnesses, “any pronouns revealing their gender,” according to the new filing.

And the special counsel is asking that information about sealed grand jury proceedings be kept secret, including one proceeding that happened before he was appointed. The proposed redactions come after Judge Cannon, who was appointed by President Trump, outlined a schedule for the parties in the case with respect to redactions. The proposals are for two filings from Mr. Nauta—a reply to the government on his assertion that the prosecution of him has been selective and vindictive, and a motion to suppress evidence. Other recent documents from Mr. Nauta and President Trump that have not been placed on the public docket do not require redactions, Mr. Smith said. Those documents include President Trump’s briefs in support of a motion to dismiss the charges based on prosecutorial misconduct and selective and vindictive prosecution.

The actual motions to dismiss based on selective and vindictive prosecution have still not been made available to the public, although Mr. Smith’s team described some of its contents in another recent filing. Prosecutors said that Mr. Nauta in his motion focused on a conversation that his attorney had over coffee with one of the prosecutors. During that discussion, the prosecutor was quoted as saying the government would not “accept anything less than Mr. Nauta’s full cooperation” in exchange for not being charged. Prosecutors say the decision to charge Mr. Nauta after he declined to cooperate does not “amount to vindictiveness as a matter of law.” In a related filing, Mr. Nauta said the government was focused only on himself and another former aide of President Trump while ignoring a “universe of other comparators who, unlike Mr. Nauta, were likewise never prosecuted.”

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Burns is a puppet.

How America’s Top Spymaster Sees The World Is Rather Disappointing (Amar)

There is no doubt that this CIA director is a smart and experienced man principally capable of realism, unlike all too many others in the current American elite. Famously, he warned in 2008, when serving as ambassador to Moscow, that “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin).” That makes the glaring flaws in this big-picture survey all the more remarkable. Burns is, obviously, correct when he observes that the US – and the world as a whole – is facing a historically rare moment of “profound” change in the global order. And – with one exception which we will return to – it would be unproductive, perhaps even a little churlish, to quibble over his ideologically biased terminology. His mislabeling of Russia as “revanchist,” for instance, has a petty ring to it. “Resurgent” would be a more civil as well as more truthful term, capturing the fact that the country is simply returning to its normal international minimum status (for at least the last three hundred years), namely that of a second-to-none great power.

Yet Burns’ agenda is more important than his terminology. While it may be complex, parts of it are as clear as can be: He is eager (perhaps desperate) to prevent Washington from ending its massive aid for Ukraine – a battle he is likely to lose. In the Middle East, he wants to focus Western aggression on Iran. He may get his will there, but that won’t be a winning strategy because, in part thanks to multipolar trend setters, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, Iran’s escape from the isolation that the US has long imposed on it is already inevitable. Regarding China, Burns’ real target is a competing faction of American hawks, namely those who argue that, bluntly put, Washington should write off its losses in Ukraine and concentrate all its firepower on China. Burns wants to persuade his readers that the US can have both its big fight against China and its proxy war against Russia.

He is also engaged in a massive act of CIA boosterism, clearly aiming to increase the clout of the already inordinately powerful state-within-a-state he happens to run himself. And last but not least, the spy-in-chief has unearthed one of the oldest tricks in the subversion and destabilization playbook: Announcing loudly that his CIA is on a recruiting spree in Russia, he seeks to promote a little paranoia in Moscow. Good luck attempting to pull that one on the country that gave us the term “agentura.” Moreover, after the horrific terror attack on Crocus City Hall in Moscow, it is fair to assume that Burns regrets having boasted about the CIA expanding its “work” in Russia. Not a good look, not at all. What matters more, though, than his verbal sallies and his intriguingly straightforward, even blunt aims, are three astonishingly crude errors:

First, Burns insists on reading the emerging outcome of the war in Ukraine as a “failure on many levels,” for Russia, revealing its, as he believes, economic, political, and military weakness. Yet, as the acknowledged American economist James K. Galbraith has recently reiterated, the West’s economic war on Russia has backfired. The Russian economy is now stronger, more resilient, and independent of the West than never before. As to the military, Burns for instance, gleefully counts the tanks that Russia has lost and fails to note the ones it is building at a rapid rate not matched anywhere inside NATO. In general, he fails to mention just how worried scores of Western experts have come to be, realizing that Moscow is overseeing a massive and effective expansion of military production. A curious oversight for an intelligence professional. He also seems to miss just how desperate Ukraine’s situation has become on the ground.

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“We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid..”

US Congressman Calls For ‘Hiroshima and Nagasaki’ in Gaza and Ukraine (RT)

Michigan congressman Tim Walberg believes Washington should not waste money on humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza or Ukraine, and instead focus on supporting Israel and Kiev’s war efforts, to achieve “quick” victories. Walberg made his remarks during a meeting with members of the public in Dundee, Michigan last week. In a video posted on social media on March 25, the Republican congressman criticized President Joe Biden’s policies, telling a small audience that the US should better spend Gaza aid money on supporting Israel, which he labeled Washington’s “greatest ally, arguably, anywhere in the world.” “We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid. It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick,” Walberg could be heard saying.

“The same should be in Ukraine. Defeat Putin quick. Instead of 80% in Ukraine being used for humanitarian purposes, it should be 80-100% to wipe out Russian forces,” he added. After his statements went viral, Walberg claimed that his words were misreported and misinterpreted, arguing that he was merely speaking metaphorically and did not advocate for the actual use of nuclear weapons. “In a shortened clip, I used a metaphor to convey the need for both Israel and Ukraine to win their wars as swiftly as possible, without putting American troops in harm’s way,” Walberg said in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday. “The use of this metaphor, along with the removal of context, distorted my message, but I fully stand by these beliefs and stand by our allies,” he added, arguing that the quicker these conflicts end, the “fewer innocent lives will be caught in the crossfire.”

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“Every horrifying act of Israel’s genocide has been telegraphed in advance. It has been for decades..”

A Genocide Foretold (Chris Hedges)

There are no surprises in Gaza. Every horrifying act of Israel’s genocide has been telegraphed in advance. It has been for decades. The dispossession of Palestinians of their land is the beating heart of Israel’s settler colonial project. This dispossession has had dramatic historical moments — 1948 and 1967 — when huge parts of historic Palestine were seized and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed. Dispossession has also occurred in increments — the slow-motion theft of land and steady ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The incursion on Oct. 7 into Israel by Hamas and other resistance groups, which left 1,154 Israelis, tourists and migrant workers dead and saw about 240 people taken hostage, gave Israel the pretext for what it has long craved — the total erasure of Palestinians.

Israel has razed 77 percent of healthcare facilities in Gaza, 68 percent of telecommunication infrastructure, nearly all municipal and governmental buildings, commercial, industrial and agricultural centers, almost half of all roads, over 60 percent of Gaza’s 439,000 homes, 68 percent of residential buildings — the bombing of the Al-Taj tower in Gaza City on Oct. 25, killed 101 people, including 44 children and 37 women, and injured hundreds — and obliterated refugee camps. The attack on the Jabalia refugee camp on Oct. 25 killed at least 126 civilians, including 69 children, and injured 280. Israel has damaged or destroyed Gaza’s universities, all of which are now closed, and 60 percent of other educational facilities, including 13 libraries. It has also destroyed at least 195 heritage sites, including 208 mosques, churches, and Gaza’s Central Archives that held 150 years of historical records and documents.

Israel’s warplanes, missiles, drones, tanks, artillery shells and naval guns daily pulverize Gaza — which is only 20 miles long and five miles wide — in a scorched earth campaign unlike anything seen since the war in Vietnam. It has dropped 25,000 tons of explosives — equivalent to two nuclear bombs — on Gaza, many targets selected by Artificial Intelligence. It drops unguided munitions (“dumb bombs”) and 2000-pound “bunker buster” bombs on refugee camps and densely packed urban centers as well as the so-called “safe zones” — 42 percent of Palestinians killed have been in these “safe zones” where they were instructed by Israel to flee. Over 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced from their homes, forced to find refuge in overcrowded UNRWA shelters, hospital corridors and courtyards, schools, tents or the open air in south Gaza, often living next to fetid pools of raw sewage.

Israel has killed at least 32,705 Palestinians in Gaza, including 13,000 children and 9,000 women. This means Israel is slaughtering as many as 187 people a day including 75 children. It has killed 136 journalists, many, if not most of them deliberately targeted. It has killed 340 doctors, nurses and other health workers — four percent of Gaza’s healthcare personnel. These numbers do not begin to reflect the actual death toll since only those dead registered in morgues and hospitals, most of which no longer function, are counted. The death toll, when those who are missing are counted, is well over 40,000. Doctors are forced to amputate limbs without anesthetic. Those with severe medical conditions — cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease — have died from lack of treatment or will die soon. Over a hundred women give birth every day, with little to no medical care. Miscarriages are up by 300 percent.

Over 90 percent of the Palestinians in Gaza suffer from severe food insecurity with people eating animal feed and grass. Children are dying of starvation. Palestinian writers, academics, scientists and their family members have been tracked and assassinated. Over 75,000 Palestinians have been wounded, many of whom will be crippled for life. “Seventy percent of recorded deaths have consistently been women and children,” writes Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, in her report issued on March 25. “Israel failed to prove that the remaining 30 percent, i.e. adult males, were active Hamas combatants — a necessary condition for them to be lawfully targeted. By early-December, Israel’s security advisors claimed the killing of ‘7,000 terrorists’ in a stage of the campaign when less than 5,000 adult males in total had been identified among the casualties, thus implying that all adult males killed were ‘terrorists.’

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“British authorities, however, have apparently opted to keep the findings out of the public domain..”

UK Govt Lawyers Conclude Israel In Breach Of Humanitarian Law (RT)

Lawyers for the UK government have established Israel has been breaking humanitarian law amid its ongoing conflict in Gaza with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, a senior Tory is claiming, according to leaked audio revealed by the Observer newspaper on Saturday. Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Alicia Kearns, made the remarks earlier this month during a Conservative Party fundraising event. “The Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law but the government has not announced it,” Kearns, a former official with the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence, who has been pressing the government on the matter, said during the event. The legal experts’ assessment effectively makes the UK complicit in the Israeli military’s violations, and defense cooperation should have been severed by London immediately after they produced their evaluation of the situation in Gaza.

“They have not said it, they haven’t stopped arms exports. They have done a few very small sanctions on Israeli settlers and everyone internationally agrees that settlers are illegal, that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and the ways in which they have continued and the money that’s been put in,” Kearns stated. During the event, Kearns insisted that she, like the UK Foreign Secretary James Cameron, strongly believes in Israel’s right to “self defense,” noting however that there were legal boundaries for exercising it. “The right to self defense has a limit in law. It is not limitless,” she explained, warning that Israel’s approach to handling the escalation may end up putting its own – and Britain’s – long-term security at risk. The authenticity of the recordings obtained by the Observer appears beyond question, given that Kearns has been rather vocal about her position on the matter.

On Saturday, she produced similar remarks as well, once again urging the government to make public its legal assessment of the Israeli actions. “I remain convinced the government has completed its updated assessment on whether Israel is demonstrating a commitment to international humanitarian law, and that it has concluded that Israel is not demonstrating this commitment, which is the legal determination it has to make,” she stated, arguing that “transparency” was absolutely needed to “uphold the international rules-based order.” Israel launched the operation in Gaza following an incursion by Hamas militants into the southern part of the country last October. During the attack, over 1,200 people were killed and scores of hostages were taken into Gaza. The Israeli campaign inflicted heavy damage on the Palestinian enclave, causing widespread destruction and leaving at least 32,000 people dead, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

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“..Riyadh has repeatedly made it clear that it would not agree to establish relations with Israel without the creation of a Palestinian state.”

Biden Claims Arab States Are Ready to Recognize Israel (Sp.)

Speaking at a recent campaign event in New York, US President Joe Biden announced the willingness of Arab nations to recognize the Jewish state, but remained mum on the status of a Palestinian state. “I’ve been working with the Saudis and with all the other Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan and Qatar. They’re prepared to fully recognize Israel. There has to be a post-Gaza plan, and there has to be a trade to a two-state solution. It doesn’t have to occur today. It has to be a progression and I think we can do that,” Biden said. As for Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom has repeatedly made it clear that it would not agree to establish relations with Israel without the creation of a Palestinian state. The US president’s statement came as the Biden administration “quietly” approved the transfer of billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets to Israel, amid Tel Aviv’s plans to launch a military offensive in southern Gaza that could threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians.

Biden’s announcement reflects “a longstanding position rather than a novel development,” Dr. Imad Salamey, an associate professor of political science and international affairs at the Lebanese American University, said in an interview with Sputnik. He pointed to the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut, which “highlighted the collective willingness of Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, to recognize Israel, contingent upon Israel’s recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.” “The crux of the issue remains Israel’s reluctance to acknowledge a Palestinian state as per these terms. This impasse underscores the complexity of achieving peace and mutual recognition in the region,” the political scientist stressed. Salamey also underscored that while publicly calling for peace, the US “continues to affirm its strategic alliance with Israel, as demonstrated by the new supply of bombs and fighter jets.”

In 2002, regional states clinched the Arab Peace Initiative, which stipulates recognizing Israel in return for the creation of a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel rejected the proposal. 18 years later, in 2020, Israel signed the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, normalizing ties. Morocco and Sudan later signed on to the accords. While Washington voiced hope that Saudi Arabia would be the next signatory to the document, Riyadh has repeatedly made it clear that it would not agree to establish relations with Israel without the creation of a Palestinian state.

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“..including Kiev’s domestic spy agency boss Vasily Malyuk..”

Moscow Demands That Kiev Surrender Terrorism Suspects (RT)

Moscow has demanded that Ukraine surrender everyone in the country it suspects of terrorism, including Kiev’s domestic spy agency boss Vasily Malyuk, and to immediately stop supporting any related activities such individuals and groups undertake, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday. The ministry said it had officially contacted Kiev with the demands under the UN-adopted International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. The demands include the “immediate arrest and extradition” of all the suspects which Moscow has identified and linked to the recent terrorist attacks against Russia. The deadly attack on the Crocus City Hall, which “shocked the whole world is, by far, not the first terrorist attack endured by our country recently,” the ministry noted.

”The investigations carried out by the competent Russian bodies indicate that the traces of all these crimes lead to Ukraine,” it stressed. Apart from the concert hall attack, which left at least 144 people dead and more than 500 injured, the ministry cited such incidents as the assassination of the military blogger Maksim Fomin (best known by his pen name Vladlen Tatarsky), the deadly bombing of the Crimean Bridge, as well as recent cross-border raids into Belgorod Region and elsewhere which have been attributed by Kiev to the so-called Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK). The paramilitary unit, advertised as composed of Russians collaborating with Ukraine, has been designated as a terrorist entity by Moscow.

The ministry did not reveal any of the names of those it has demanded due to their suspected involvement, aside from the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Vasily Malyuk. The spy boss “cynically admitted on March 25 that Ukraine organized the bombing of the Crimean Bridge in October 2022 and revealed details on the organization of other terrorist attacks in Russia,” it noted. Failing to meet Russia’s demands will constitute a breach of Ukraine’s international obligations with respect to fighting terrorism and “entail its international legal responsibility,” the ministry warned. “Fighting against international terrorism is the responsibility of every state. The Russian side demands that the Kiev regime immediately stop any support for terrorist activities, hand over the perpetrators and compensate for the damage done to the victims,” it stressed.

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Mike Johnson’s seat is at stake.

US House To Consider Ukraine Aid Bill In April (TASS)

Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, said on CBS television that House Speaker Mike Johnson plans to put the bill on aid to Ukraine to a vote in April. “The speaker has made it clear that he supports Ukraine both directly to [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky – publicly, he’s made these statements – and to the secretary general of NATO. The speaker has made very clear statements that when we get back [from a recess], it’s the next top agenda, after having just passed all the bills that fund the federal government. I believe this is going to have overwhelming support in Congress, and we’ll put a bill on the president’s desk,” he said in an interview.

Turner was asked whether the current legislation will need to be tweaked to either include loans that Ukraine would have to pay back or incorporate clauses about border security to gain approval. He said, “There already is a significant and very strong support among Republicans.” “As this package moves, certainly there are going to be some discussions, you know, in both the Senate and the House,” he went on to say. “I’ve had discussions about the border itself. And certainly there have been discussions about the manner in which the non-military, humanitarian aid is structured.”. Turner also said that Washington is close to greenlighting supplies of ATACMS ballistic missiles to Ukraine.

“We need to give them longer range weapon systems. The White House has been hesitant to do so. Congress has called for that. President [of Ukraine Vladimir] Zelensky has called for that,” he said. “It’s the ATACMS and I think it’s long range <…> ATACMS. Those I think the administration is on the verge of being willing to provide.” Earlier this week Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Charles Q. Brown held a meeting with the Washington-based Defense Writers Group, of which TASS is a member, where he commented on the prospect of supplying Kiev with ATACMS missiles. When asked whether a transfer of ATACMS missiles from the US to Ukraine would carry an unacceptable risk of escalating the conflict, he said the risk is now not as high as it used to be.

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Smells like CIA. A lot.

Ukraine Turned Into Afghan Drug Lords Paradise Under Western Watch (Sp.)

Under the West’s watch, Ukraine has morphed into a gangsters’ paradise with all sorts of illicit drugs passing through its territory and the domestic production and consumption of synthetic narcotics booming. Back in June 2002, the US Justice Department emphasized Ukraine’s growing importance as a transit point for heroin trafficking largely originating from Afghanistan which went through the Balkan and Northern routes. The US-backed 2014 coup in Ukraine exacerbated the problem and was followed by a spike in corruption, gang crime, and weapons smuggling. The role of Ukraine as a transit point for extremists and illicit drugs to Europe has also increased. In July 2015, Italian MEP Matteo Salvini drew attention to ISIS* sympathizers fighting on the side of the Kiev regime in Donbass in an official letter to the EU leadership.

In 2019 and 2020, British, Polish and Ukrainian investigative journalists revealed that ISIS jihadists originating, in particular, from post-Soviet space used Ukraine as a transit point to and out of the Middle East in the course of the civil war in Syria which started in 2011. Having sustained defeat from the Russian Air Forces in Syria, ISIS started to use Ukraine as a safe haven. Ukraine’s role as a hub for ISIS terrorists could be closely connected with drug trafficking. Establishing a foothold in Afghanistan in 2015, ISIS militants used the Afghan opiate trade as a source of income since at least 2014, according to the Russian Federal Service for Drug Control. “The large-scale transit of Afghan heroin acts as a renewable financial base for the functioning of the Islamic State, which extracts fabulous profits by providing half of the total volume of heroin supplied to Europe through destabilized Iraq and some African countries,” the Russian agency stated on November 26, 2014.

“In 2015, the Afghan branch of ISIS officially declared its establishment,” Andrey Serenko, director of the Analytical Center of Afghanistan policy, told Sputnik. “[ISIS-Khorasan*] emerged from the ruins of some groups of dissatisfied Taliban** fighters whose leaders for some reason did not agree on interests with the Taliban leadership. From the first months of its existence, the Afghan branch of ISIS began to fight for jihad resources. The large Afghan ‘jihad industry’, then, and even now, relies heavily on the drug business. If in Syria and Iraq such sources of economic power of jihad were the illegal trade in petroleum products, then in Afghanistan it was drugs.” “In [Afghanistan’s] provinces of Kunar and Nangarhar [infamous for heroin production – Sputnik], ISIS reached an agreement with the local tribes who joined ISIS and still sympathize with the terror group. Accordingly, in several counties, for example, Achin County, ISIS was able to seize control of laboratories producing heroin,” the expert continued.

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“But in the evening, when we had dinner, he said, ‘you know, I’ve talked to my team, no-no, it’s not possible now.”

Why Russia Didn’t Join NATO (Sp.)

On March 31, 1954, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov shocked his US, French and British counterparts with a diplomatic note expressing Moscow’s readiness to join NATO. If the USSR joined, the note said, “the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would cease to be a closed military grouping of states” and, opening its doors to other European powers, facilitate the creation of “an effective system of collective security in Europe, which would be of utmost importance for strengthening universal peace.” Chewing over the shock Soviet proposal for over a month, Washington eventually responded, sending Moscow a note on May 7, 1954 citing the “unrealistic nature of such a proposal” and stressing that “it contradicts the very principles on which the defense system and security of Western states depend.”

Founded in April 1949, NATO’s official goals centered around “deterring Soviet expansionism” through collective defense for its members, which originally numbered 12 countries. Behind the scenes, the post-war security architecture created by the United States had other goals, including control over European countries’ domestic affairs. As Lord Hastings Ismay, the alliance’s first secretary-general, once famously put it, the purpose of NATO was to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Before sending the March 1954 note, Soviet diplomats made several other attempts to convey to Washington the USSR’s interest in joining NATO as a mechanism for European collective security. As veteran Soviet diplomat Andrei Gromyko put it in 1951, “if this pact was aimed against the restoration of German aggression, the USSR would join NATO.”

In 1952, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin reportedly told French Ambassador Louis Joxe that if NATO was the peaceful, UN Charter-abiding organization President Charles De Gaulle described it as, the USSR might consider membership. The same year, Stalin sent Western powers a series of diplomatic cables proposing the reunification of Germany as a neutral power in the center of Europe separating the Eastern and Western blocs. Austria became such a country in 1955, with the USSR withdrawing troops in exchange for a commitment from Vienna for neutrality (which, incidentally, it continues to hold this day). In the post-Cold War period, both in the early 1990s and early 2000s, the Russia that emerged from the ashes of the USSR would again express its interest in membership in, or at least partnership with, the Western alliance, in the overarching interests of peace and security in Europe.

President Boris Yeltsin and his first Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, who famously quipped that Russia “has not national interests” apart from abstract “universal human values,” held intense negotiations with the Clinton administration through the early to mid-1990s on the prospects of Russian membership in the Western alliance. Clinton successfully pulled the wool over Yeltsin’s eyes, with the Russian leader swallowing as “brilliant” US assurances that Russia would be treated as an “equal partner,” and begrudgingly accepting the first round of eastward expansion by the alliance to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. After becoming president, Vladimir Putin too decided to probe US intentions vis-à-vis Russia at the dawn of the 21st century, recalling in his recent interview with Tucker Carlson that he had asked Clinton point blank what he thought about the idea of Russia in NATO.

“I became president in 2000. I thought: okay, the Yugoslav issue is over, but we should try to restore relations. Let’s reopen the door that Russia tried to go through…At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I asked him, ‘Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?’ Suddenly, he said ‘you know, it’s interesting, I think so’,” Putin recalled. “But in the evening, when we had dinner, he said, ‘you know, I’ve talked to my team, no-no, it’s not possible now.” “If he had said yes, the process of rapprochement would have commenced, and eventually it might have happened if we had seen some sincere wish on the side of our partners. But it didn’t happen. Well, no means no, okay, fine,” Putin said.

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“..Those grounds would explicitly gag the defence from ever mentioning again in court inconvenient facts..”

The Assange Hearing Permission Appeal Judgment (Craig Murray)

The latest judgment by the High Court in the Assange case achieved completely the objectives of the UK and US states. Above all, Julian remains in the hell which is Belmarsh maximum security prison. He is now safely there alone and incommunicado, from the authorities’ point of view, for at least several more months. Importantly, the United States has managed to keep him detained without securing his actual appearance in Washington. It is crucial to grasp that the CIA, who are very much controlling the process, do not actually want him to appear there until after their attempt to secure the re-election of Genocide Joe. No matter what your opinion of Donald Trump, there is no doubt the CIA conspired against him during his entire Presidency, beginning with the fake Russiagate scandal and ending with their cover-up of the Hunter Biden laptop story. They do not want Trump back.

Biden is politically in deep trouble. Biden’s lifelong political support for Israel has been unwavering to the point of fanaticism. In the process he has collected millions of dollars from the Zionist lobby. That always seemed a source of political strength in the United States, not of weakness. The current genocide in Gaza has changed all those calculations. The sheer evil and viciousness of the Israeli state, the open and undisguised enthusiasm for racist massacre, has achieved the seemingly impossible task of turning much American public opinion against Israel. That is particularly true among key elements of the Democratic base. Young people and ethnic minorities have been shocked that the party they have supported is backing and supplying genocide. The mainstream media have lost control of the narrative, when the truth is so widely available on mobile phones, to the point that the MSM have actually been forced to change course and occasionally tell truths about Israel. That also was unthinkable a few months ago.

Precisely the same groups who are outraged by Biden’s support for genocide are going to be alienated by the attack on a journalist and publisher for revealing true facts about war crimes. Assange is not currently a major public issue in the United States, because he is not currently in the United States. Were he to arrive there in chains, the media coverage would be massive and the issue unavoidable in the presidential election campaign. The extradition proceeding has therefore had to be managed in such a way as to keep Assange locked in a living hell the whole time, without actually achieving the extradition until after the presidential election in November. As the years of hearings have rolled by this has become increasingly difficult for the British state to finesse on behalf of their American masters. In this respect, and only in this respect, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Johnson have done brilliantly in their judgment.

Senior British judges do not have to be told what to do. They are closely integrated into a small political establishment that is socially interlinked, defined by membership of institutions, and highly subject to groupthink. Dame Victoria Sharp’s brother Richard arranged an £800,000 personal loan for then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and subsequently became chairman of the BBC despite a complete lack of relevant experience. Lord Justice Johnson as a lawyer represented the intelligence services and the Ministry of Defence. They did not have to be told what to do in this case explicitly, although it was very plain that they entered the two-day hearing process knowing nothing except a briefing they had been given that the crux of the case was the revelation of names of US informants in the Wikileaks material.

The potential danger of an appeal, the granting of which would achieve the United States’ objective of putting the actual extradition back beyond the election date, was that it would allow the airing in public of a great catalogue of war crimes and other illegal activity which had been exposed by Wikileaks. Sharp and Johnson have obviated this danger by adjourning the decision with the possibility of granting an appeal, but only on extremely limited grounds. Those grounds would explicitly gag the defence from ever mentioning again in court inconvenient facts, such as United States war crimes including murder, torture and extraordinary rendition, as well as the plans by the United States to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange. All of those things are precluded by this judgment from ever being raised again in the extradition hearings. The politically damaging aspect of the case in terms of the Manning revelations and CIA behaviour has been cauterised in the UK.

Read more …

Yikes.

61 Unexpected PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in Food Packaging (SciAm)

Food packaging from around the world contains at least 68 “forever chemicals” that can seep into what we eat, a new study finds. And 61 of them are not even supposed to be used in such products. This kind of packaging may include coated paper wrappers, plastic containers and aluminum foil. Scientists behind the paper say it’s not clear why the latter chemicals, which are not on lists of those authorized for use in food containers, are in such packaging. “It’s very hard to explain where they come from,” says the study’s senior author Birgit Geueke, senior scientific officer at the nonprofit Food Packaging Forum Foundation in Zurich. That’s especially concerning because her team was only able to find data on potential hazards for 57 percent of the chemicals the researchers found in food packaging.

The study, published on Tuesday in Environmental Science & Technology, focused on a class of chemicals called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). For decades, these substances have been used in a wide range of consumer products, from cookware to pesticides to cosmetics, because of their ability to repel water and grease. PFASs are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down readily in the environment or in the body. That’s because their characteristic carbon-fluorine bond—part of what makes them so useful in the first place—is one of the strongest in nature. PFASs have been found in human blood and breast milk, drinking water, soil and other startling places around the world. In March 2023 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a drinking water standard for six PFAS compounds.

Exposure to some of the most studied PFASs has been associated with cancer, reproductive problems and lessened responses to vaccines. “There’s an incredible body of scientific evidence linking these chemicals to health harms,” says David Andrews, a chemist and toxicologist at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, who was not involved with the new study. The paper adds to recently growing concerns about the prevalence of PFASs—and about an overall dearth of knowledge as to what chemicals are found in many everyday products. “Food packaging may not be the only way we are exposed to PFAS, but food packaging could contribute” to these exposures, Geueke says.

She and her team found a mismatch between what they detected in actual products and a database of chemicals assembled by compiling information on PFAS that regulatory agencies (including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) have authorized for use in food packaging, and PFAS that industrial manufacturers have listed for use in food packaging. About 140 PFASs are known to be used in food packaging, but only seven of the 68 chemicals in the study were on this list. Geueke says it’s unclear how or why the other 61 chemicals turned up. Andrews suggests that it’s possible that unknown impurities emerged during the manufacturing of the authorized chemicals or that the authorized PFASs degrade over time. This class of chemicals includes many long-chain molecules, and they can break into shorter chains that are simply different types of PFASs.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Skunk

 

 

Babies
https://twitter.com/i/status/1774336548865024294

 

 

Mom dog
https://twitter.com/i/status/1774156744651854012

 

 

Lion dachs

 

 

5 days

 

 

Snow angels

 

 

Polar bear walrus
https://twitter.com/i/status/1774406767977316815

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in wartime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 012023
 
 July 1, 2023  Posted by at 9:11 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  48 Responses »


Edward Hopper Approaching a city 1946

 

Time To Make Peace In Ukraine, Trump Tells Reuters (TASS)
Arming Ukraine Is A Cynical And Dangerous NATO Ploy – Bowes (RT)
Poland Wants US Nuclear Weapons – PM (RT)
Russia Always Emerged Stronger From All Troubles – Lavrov (TASS)
Russia Will Destroy Foreign Fighters, Western Generals In Ukraine – Lavrov (RT)
Ray McGovern: Russia’s ‘Coup’ Is Actually Biden’s Disaster (SP)
Orban Taunts EU’s Drained Coffers With Travolta Meme (Sp.)
Ukraine’s Top General ‘Pissed Off’ Over Counteroffensive Criticism – WaPo (RT)
Kiev Considers ‘Holding Crimea Hostage’ – WaPo (RT)
West’s Ideas About How To End Crisis In Ukraine ‘Schizophrenic’ – Lavrov (TASS)
CIA Chief Made Secret Trip to Ukraine to Discuss Battle Plans, Ceasefire (Sp.)
CIA Head Calls Russian Intel Chief To Say US Uninvolved In Wagner Mutiny (TASS)
Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Sends Scathing Letter to GOP Chair (Sp.)
The Long, Hot Summer (Kunstler)
America Is a Military Dictatorship Disguised as a Democracy (Whitehead)

 

 

How much longer can Macron last? Very little in the press about the riots, and to post 100 videos of fires here is also not great. But it’s serious.

“2 Police Unions have written to Macron threatening to revolt. “Today the police are in combat as we are at war. Tomorrow we will be in the resistance and the government should be aware of this”

 

 

Comer

 

 

 

 

Maté Ritter

 

 

Tucker pride

 

 

Blumenthal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cancer cells

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I think the biggest thing that the US should be doing right now is making peace..”

Time To Make Peace In Ukraine, Trump Tells Reuters (TASS)

The time is ripe for making peace in Ukraine, and the United States should contribute to the peace process right now, acting as a mediator, former US President Donald Trump said in a telephone interview with Reuters on Thursday. “I think the biggest thing that the US should be doing right now is making peace – getting Russia and Ukraine together and making peace,” he said. “This is the time to do it,” he added. The ex-US leader also believes Ukraine may be allowed to keep what it has “earned.” “I think they would be entitled to keep much of what they’ve earned and I think that Russia likewise would agree to that. You need the right mediator, or negotiator, and we don’t have that right now,” he lamented.


Without either elaborating on what Trump meant under “earned” or citing the former US president directly, Reuters said that he did not rule out that Kiev might have to concede some territory to Russia. Everything would be “subject to negotiation” though, Trump added. The former US leader has repeatedly said publicly that he would broker peace in Ukraine in 24 hours if he were to win the 2024 presidential election. However, he never explained exactly how he sees ending this conflict.

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“..weapons being supplied by NATO and their allies to Ukraine are being wilfully targeted against civilian populations on a daily basis… all miraculously invisible to the Western media..”

Arming Ukraine Is A Cynical And Dangerous NATO Ploy – Bowes (RT)

Western nations are pushing Ukrainian soldiers into suicide missions against Russian forces after providing them with outdated and often inoperative weapons, RT correspondent Chay Bowes has told the UN Security Council. The Irish journalist was among the speakers invited to address to the Council on Thursday, sharing his views on Western lethal aid to Ukraine and the related proliferation risks. The gathering was attended by ambassadors including Russian Permanent Representative Vasily Nebenzya and his UK counterpart Barbara Woodward. Bowes told the delegations that NATO nations have been helping Kiev to build up its military since 2014, training thousands of troops each year. He described the current hostilities as “a proxy conflict, where Ukraine supplies manpower… to support a de-facto NATO operation to prevent a Russian military victory”.

A defeated Ukraine would undermine the US-led military bloc itself, he predicted, which explains the escalation of arms supplies from the West. Many of the weapons provided to Kiev, especially by smaller nations, are often in a poor state of repair, Bowes said, citing multiple reports from the Western media and officials. Some are “outright lethal”to the Ukrainians using them. The sub-par weapons are being “dumped” as part of schemes by the larger powers, primarily the US, to replace and upgrade their own stocks. Meanwhile on the frontline, Kiev’s troops have paid a heavy price for “strategically insignificant” territorial gains during this month’s counteroffensive, he said. Ukrainian action essentially amounts to a “suicidal full-frontal attacks on in-depth prepared defenses”, and allowing them to occur is “deeply cynical” and “sinister”, the reporter argued. “No modern NATO military strategist or senior officer would suggest these maneuvers are anything but an inhumane ticket to tragedy, when commanding their own troops,” Bowes claimed.

“Yet when it comes to Ukrainian young men mounting these assaults being decimated – they are silent.” Continued hostilities are also taking a toll on civilians in Russia, some of which Bowes said he had met personally in places including Belgorod Region. “I’ve seen [Russian] villages burning, I’ve heard artillery strikes, and I have to tell you that weapons being supplied by NATO and their allies to Ukraine are being wilfully targeted against civilian populations on a daily basis… all miraculously invisible to the Western media,” he told the UNSC. Historical precedents, such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland or the terrorist attack on the 2015 Bataclan Theater in Paris, show that even a small number of weapons can cause much suffering by civilians, Bowes warned. The arming of Ukraine may lead to decades of instability in the region and cause spillover effects in far-away nations, he added.

Read more …

Why not give them directly to Kiev?

Poland Wants US Nuclear Weapons – PM (RT)

Warsaw is asking NATO to include it in the bloc’s Nuclear Sharing Program, Prime Minister Mateus Morawiecki told journalists in Brussels on Friday. The program allows the deployment of US nuclear bombs on the territory of other nations. Morawiecki called Poland’s appeal a response to Moscow’s decision to station its tactical nuclear arms in neighboring Belarus. “Due to the fact that Russia intends to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, we are… appealing to… NATO to [allow us] take part in the Nuclear Sharing Program,” the prime minister said. The final decision on the issue would rest with Washington, Morawiecki said, but added that Warsaw sought to “act quickly in this regard.”

Poland “does not want to sit idly,” he explained, while accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of increasing “all sorts of threats.” Launched in 2009, the NATO Nuclear Sharing Program has seen US B-61 nuclear bombs deployed to various locations around Europe, including in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye. Some nations have appeared to regret allowing the deployments. In 2010, German lawmakers made a decision on the withdrawal of America’s nuclear weapons from Germany but the arms have remained in place. In April 2023, Sevim Dagdelen, the deputy head of the Left party in the Bundestag, demanded a US troop withdrawal from Germany, alongside America’s nuclear weapons.

Moscow and Minsk signed a treaty on Belarus hosting Russian tactical nuclear weapons in May. The atomic warheads will be mounted on Iskander-M missiles and fighter jets specifically modified for the purpose, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at that time. Moscow pointed to the NATO Nuclear Sharing Program as its own justification for the move. An estimated 150 American atomic bombs were deployed across several NATO nations on the European continent as of April 2022.

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“This is an indirect, but very clear, explicit recognition of who is at war against whom..”

“So, thank you for your concern, but we can handle it ourselves..s”

Russia Always Emerged Stronger From All Troubles – Lavrov (TASS)

The West should not worry about Russia’s national interests; the country has emerged stronger from all troubles, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at an online briefing on Friday. “Thank you for your concern about our national interests, but you shouldn’t feel worried,” Lavrov said, responding to a question from Reuters. About the attempted mutiny in Russia Lavrov said that “Russia has always emerged stronger from any trouble.” “This will be the case this time,” he stressed. “Moreover, we already feel that this process has begun.” Lavrov added that the attempted mutiny in Russia brought to mind only one epithet – “much ado” – and could hardly be described in a different way.


Lavrov recalled how last Saturday some Western officials, in their comments on the internal political situation in Russia, said that “the facade of the Russian authorities has cracked” and that they were doing everything right with regard to Ukraine. Lavrov pointed out that in this way the Western officials acknowledged that it was they (and not Ukraine) who were at war with Russia. Lavrov also recalled the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s statement that the West was doing the right thing by arming Ukraine and called for stepping up arms supplies to Kiev. “This is an indirect, but very clear, explicit recognition of who is at war against whom,” Lavrov pointed out. “So, thank you for your concern, but we can handle it ourselves,” he concluded.

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“..committing a war crime by allowing mercenaries, Western generals and instructors to use civilian objects to hold all sorts of meetings.”

Russia Will Destroy Foreign Fighters, Western Generals In Ukraine – Lavrov (RT)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused Ukraine of allowing foreign mercenaries and Western generals to use civilian infrastructure to fight against Russia, and has vowed to destroy these groups. Speaking at an online briefing on Friday, Lavrov said that Russia has “not seen confirmation of a single fact of deliberate shelling of civilian targets by the Russian army.” He claimed, however, that the Ukrainian side has been “violating international humanitarian law and committing a war crime by allowing mercenaries, Western generals and instructors to use civilian objects to hold all sorts of meetings.”

“If we discover such gatherings, for example, as in Kramatorsk, we will destroy them, because these are people who have declared war on us,” Lavrov said, referring to Russia’s recent high-precision strike on a temporary brigade base in the Donbass city of Kramatorsk on Tuesday. The Russian Defense Ministry had claimed that the base was hosting a staff meeting involving dozens of Ukrainian officers and foreign advisers, and reported that the attack resulted in the deaths of “two generals, up to 50 officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as up to 20 foreign mercenaries and military advisers.”

Russian forces have continued to repel Ukrainian attacks on their defensive positions in Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, as well as in Donbass, since Kiev launched its much-hyped counteroffensive earlier this month. Ukraine has so far been unable to make any significant gains and has suffered numerous casualties, losing hundreds of servicemen and dozens of heavy equipment, including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles provided by Kiev’s Western backers, according to numerous media reports.

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“Ain’t because McGovern knows everything. It’s because McGovern knows guys who know everything. Scott Ritter. Colonel MacGregor.”

Ray McGovern: Russia’s ‘Coup’ Is Actually Biden’s Disaster (SP)

The reason I adduce the Iraq example is because it’s a mirror image of the media lying and being fed by the intelligence community that matters. Now, there’s something that I have that you don’t have, Robert. You have a much longer record of objectivity and fearless reporting. What I have I was two years an Army infantry intelligence officer. Okay. Now, let me be very brief here. This may sound corny, but the first thing we were drilled into that was drilled into our minds. You do an estimate of the situation. You get a map and you find out where Ukraine is relative to Russia and where the U.S. and Western Europe are. And then you try to figure out how many Russians are under arms and how many how many Ukrainians could be stood up. And then you say, well, are they motivated?

And then you say, well, what kind of weaponry they have? And then you say blocks. Now, locks, not like locks and bagels that were usually in the Bronx. Okay. This is lines of communication and control and supply, actually. Now, there’s no way that Russia facing an existential threat from NATO and the U.S. and Ukraine can lose this battle. And, you know, for proof. Well, don’t believe me now. Check with me in three weeks and see where the situation on the battlefield is, because the Ukrainians are almost down to their last soldier. And the question will be, where do the Russian army stop the Dnieper or do they go all the way to the Polish border? So check with me in three weeks on that. Don’t trust me now. Okay. But the cardinal thing is that Americans have been misled.

And, you know, I’m really glad that whether you’re playing devil’s advocate here or whether you’re I’m really glad you’re posing these questions, because I am supremely confident. Ain’t because McGovern knows everything. It’s because McGovern knows guys who know everything. Scott Ritter. Colonel MacGregor. Just like when I was briefing Schultz, I could say I know these guys who are serious analysts don’t pay any attention to Gates and his boss, Casey. I listen to me and them because we’re giving you the straight scoop. Now, again, my record is there for everyone to see what people call me as some sort of devotee of Putin. But that’s that’s only because what he and I say tend to coincide much more than what John Kirby and others say on behalf of the administration.

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“Where is the money?”

Orban Taunts EU’s Drained Coffers With Travolta Meme (Sp.)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban trolled the European Commission in a Twitter post on Thursday over its rapidly emptying coffers. “What happened to the 7-year budget?” Orban queried, accompanying his tweet with a John Travolta meme from the movie Pulp Fiction. “How did this happen? What happened to the budget? Where is the money?” were the questions that Orban put out there, as the European Commission requested an increase of €66 billion ($72 billion) on Tuesday for its long-term budget. A review of a draft budget for the 2024-2027 period by the European Commission triggered an urgent need to boost the rapidly dwindling budget, with most of the money ostensibly needed to fund additional assistance for Ukraine.


Viktor Orban’s post on Twitter kicked off a thread of comments. Many took to social media to deplore the money going towards propping up Ukraine’s “corrupt” President Volodymyr Zelensky. Since the beginning of Russia’s special military operation, EU members have provided more than 61.7 billion euros in direct support to Kiev, including over 10 billion euros in military assistance. Moscow has warned repeatedly that such aid threatens to escalate the crisis. Back in May, Hungary blocked the European Union from allocating the eighth €500 million package from the so-called European Peace Fund to pay for military assistance to the Kiev regime. Orban has insisted that the ongoing hostilities stem from a “failure of diplomacy.” Rather than pursuing a strategy of further ramping up tensions, the veteran Hungarian leader urged an immediate end to escalation by the West. Viktor Orban has also offered especially harsh criticism of the European Union’s aggressively anti-Russian policies.

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“It’s not a show the whole world is watching and betting on or anything..”

Ukraine’s Top General ‘Pissed Off’ Over Counteroffensive Criticism – WaPo (RT)

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces has vented his frustration over recurring remarks by international commentators and officials that the country’s counterattacks are proceeding too slowly. In an interview with the Washington Post published on Friday, General Valery Zaluzhny stressed that Kiev’s ongoing push – which Moscow claims has failed to gain any ground – is not a spectacle for the entire world to enjoy. “It’s not a show the whole world is watching and betting on or anything. Every day, every meter is given by blood,” he stressed. Zaluzhny, who was earlier reported to have been seriously injured in a Russian missile strike, also said that it “pisses [him] off” when he hears that Ukraine’s offensive is bogged down.

The Ukrainian general also reiterated that without adequate supplies, Kiev would not be able to implement its plans. “But they are being carried out. Yes, maybe not as fast as the participants in the show, the observers, would like, but that is their problem,” he added. Zaluzhny went on to complain that Ukraine still needs more weapons from its Western backers, saying that his troops have often been outgunned by their opponent due to limited resources. He also voiced frustration that Ukraine has to storm Russian lines without air support, with deliveries of advanced F-16 fighter jets still at least several months away.

Ukraine kicked off its much-anticipated counteroffensive in the early days of June, attempting to penetrate Russian defenses along several sections of the front. It has so far failed to gain any ground, according to Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Ukrainian losses have exceeded Moscow’s by a factor of ten, estimating that Kiev has lost 259 tanks and 780 armored vehicles since the start of the campaign. At the same time, Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov has described the attacks as a “preparatory operation” while President Vladimir Zelensky has admitted that the offensive is developing “slower than desired”in the face of “tough resistance” from Russian troops.

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“..they hope to gain leverage over Moscow by retaking “substantial territory by the fall,” and, “in an ideal scenario,” station artillery and rocket systems on the border with Crimea..”

Kiev Considers ‘Holding Crimea Hostage’ – WaPo (RT)

Ukrainian officials aim to station long-range weapons near Crimea in order to gain an upper hand in future peace negotiations with Russia, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing three people familiar with the matter. According to the Post, the Ukrainian leadership shared the plans with CIA head William Burns during his secret trip to Kiev last month, where he met with President Vladimir Zelensky. Zelensky and his aides are reportedly devising plans to end the fighting “on terms that are acceptable to Russia and the Ukrainian people.” To achieve that, they hope to gain leverage over Moscow by retaking “substantial territory by the fall,” and, “in an ideal scenario,” station artillery and rocket systems on the border with Crimea, where the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is located.

By “holding hostage” the peninsula, Kiev wants to “open negotiations” and demand that “Russia accept whatever security guarantees Ukraine can secure from the West,” the Post said. Ukraine’s top commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, has voiced frustration over criticism of the much-hyped counteroffensive, which was launched last month, but has so far failed to push back the Russians in any significant way. According to Moscow, multiple Ukrainian assaults were repelled, while Kiev’s forces had suffered heavy losses. The troops lost Western-supplied heavy tanks and combat vehicles to minefields and artillery fire as they tried to break through fortified Russian positions.

Peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine broke down in the spring of 2022. Kiev has since demanded that Russia surrender its four newly acquired regions, as well as Crimea, which Moscow stressed was non-negotiable. Russia also named Ukraine’s neutrality as one of requirements for the conflict to end. Crimea voted to join Russia in the wake of the 2014 Western-backed coup in Kiev. The regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye did the same after holding referendums in September 2022. Ukraine considers these territories illegally occupied by Russia.

Read more …

“..Ukraine must first win and carry out a successful counteroffensive, and only then will we decide to negotiate..”

West’s Ideas About How To End Crisis In Ukraine ‘Schizophrenic’ – Lavrov (TASS)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement about ending the conflict in Ukraine through “diplomacy” and “negotiation” strange against the backdrop of the West’s constant speculations about the need to defeat Russia first. “It’s a strange statement, I’ve heard about it,” Lavrov said in response to a TASS request for a comment. “This is all being said almost simultaneously with statements by the very same Secretary of State, Blinken, the very same leaders of the US National Security Council and the very same European Union and NATO functionaries, who keep saying: Ukraine must first win and carry out a successful counteroffensive, and only then will we decide to negotiate,” Lavrov explained. “This is a schizophrenic situation: they say that everything will be ended by negotiations, but first we have to defeat Russia.”

He also drew attention to the basis on which the West wished to negotiate. “The United States, together with NATO members and with the European Union, has stated firmly, repeatedly and uncompromisingly that the sole basis for negotiations is the notorious [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky peace formula, which consists of ten points,” Lavrov pointed out. “There are some neutral things there. Trivial, I should say.” “It is unclear why they were included there,” he noted, naming food and energy security among such things. “These are the very same things that have been undermined by the West’s sanctions.”

“But the main thing about the prospects for a peace treaty is that first Russia is to withdraw beyond the 1991 borders, the Russian leadership is to be put on trial, and Russia must pay reparations. Only after these preconditions have been met, will peace be made. This is what the West has in mind when it speaks of the need for negotiations and a peace settlement,” Lavrov explained. He remarked that “this split personality disorder does not help to correctly navigate the situation.” “The way I see it, they are trying to temporarily freeze this conflict, to achieve some kind of cease-fire and buy time to beef up Ukraine’s military muscle again, to create a new military infrastructure, and to supply it with new lethal long-range weapons,” Lavrov pointed out, adding that this scenario “is being advanced by US political scientists.”

He cited a recent article in Foreign Affairs magazine that promotes “exactly this type of scenario.” “Make peace, take a breather. Yes, Russia will also get a break, but the entire West is behind Ukraine, so we (the Western countries – TASS) will make it much stronger and then [will] continue to press ahead for the same aims mentioned in Zelensky’s plan.” “Demagogy has never hindered diplomacy in achieving certain aims, but that’s what diplomats are for: to distinguish some contrived moves from reality,” Lavrov concluded.

Read more …

“Ukraine officials told Burns they aim to move artillery and missile systems near the boundary line of Crimea and push further into eastern Ukraine by the fall. ”

CIA Chief Made Secret Trip to Ukraine to Discuss Battle Plans, Ceasefire (Sp.)

The head of the CIA in a secret trip to Ukraine reportedly held talks with officials on an ambitious strategy to retake territory from Russia and open ceasefire talks with Moscow by year-end. Citing officials familiar with the visit, US media reported that CIA Director William Burns during the trip in June met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukraine’s top intelligence officials. The purpose of the visit was to reaffirm the Biden administration’s commitment to sharing intelligence designed to help Ukraine in the conflict. Ukraine officials told Burns they aim to move artillery and missile systems near the boundary line of Crimea and push further into eastern Ukraine by the fall.

Then Kiev intends to open negotiations with Moscow for the first time since they broke down in March of last year, the report said, citing people involved with the planning. Officials reportedly later said they hope by agreeing not to take Crimea, Russia would accept whatever security guarantees Kiev can secure from the West. One Ukrainian official told the outlet “the US agrees that Ukraine should enter the negotiations from a strong position.” The CIA refused to comment when asked about Burns’ assessment of Kiev’s plans, the report said. Burns’ trip occurred just before Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s aborted mutiny. The report said the US intelligence community had detected in mid-June that Prigozhin was plotting something, but that those findings were not relayed to Ukrainian officials.

According to the report, Kiev is under extraordinary pressure from Western allies that provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in weaponry ahead of the counteroffensive. Earlier Friday, US media reported that Burns recently called his Russian counterpart, Sergey Naryshkin, to inform him that the United States had no involvement in Prigozhin’s aborted mutiny against the Russian government.

Read more …

“..the highest-level interaction between the US and Russia since the incident..”

CIA Head Calls Russian Intel Chief To Say US Uninvolved In Wagner Mutiny (TASS)

CIA Director William Burns called Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Naryshkin this week to tell him that the US had nothing to do with the mutiny attempt by the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), The Wall Street Journal said on Friday citing its sources. According to them, the phone conversation between Burns and Naryshkin was the highest-level interaction between the US and Russia since the incident. The conversation, initiated by the American side, aimed to deliver a message that the US “had no involvement” in Wagner founder Evgeny Prigozhin’s actions and did not intend to exacerbate tensions in Russia, the newspaper writes, noting that the conversation took place this week.

According to the newspaper, Burns told Naryshkin that the US had no role in the mutiny and the incident was Russia’s internal affair. On the evening of June 23, several audio recordings were posted on the Telegram channel of Wagner PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin. In particular, he claimed that his units had come under attack, blaming the Russian military. The Russian Defense Ministry slammed the Wagner boss’ allegations of a strike on the PMC’s “rear camps” as fake news. The PMC units that supported Prigozhin headed to Rostov-on-Don and toward Moscow. The Federal Security Service (FSB) opened a criminal case on calls for armed mutiny. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a televised address to the nation on June 24, described the Wagner group’s actions as armed mutiny and a betrayal.

Later on June 24, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in coordination with Putin, held talks with Prigozhin, resulting in the PMC standing down, turning its units around, and retreating to their base camps. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian authorities pledged not to prosecute those Wagner PMC fighters who took part in the mutiny in light of their “frontline achievements.” The criminal case on armed mutiny was dropped, the FSB said.

Read more …

Let’s get to court..

Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Sends Scathing Letter to GOP Chair (Sp.)

One of Hunter Biden’s lawyers reportedly sent a scathing letter on Friday to US Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), the chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, accusing him of feeding a “misinformation campaign” against the Biden son. US media reported the letter claimed Smith was trying to undermine the law and feed “the misinformation campaign to harm our client, Hunter Biden, as a vehicle to attack his father.” In the letter, Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell references transcripts of interviews between the committee and IRS Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley, who earlier told the panel he had copies of WhatsApp messages in which Hunter Biden allegedly attempted to use his father’s position as then-vice president to influence his business dealings.

“I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction,” reads the message, from 2017, which was allegedly sent from Hunter Biden to a Chinese businessman. Last week, Smith released transcripts of the interviews while the White House and Justice Department dismissed the IRS whistleblowers’ claims. Smith also tweeted screenshots of the message, according to a report, which Lowell says are “complete fakes.” “Both include a photo of Mr. Biden not from 2017 but from the White House Easter Egg roll in April 2022 (long after the purported message was sent); both images portray the message in a blue bubble, when WhatsApp messages are in green; one image super-imposed the Chinese flag for the contact ID, when surely that was not how a text or contact was kept; and one purports to be a screenshot with the ‘…’ of someone composing a text (as in Apple’s iMessage) when that does not happen on WhatsApp,” Lowell wrote in his letter, in reference to Smith’s tweeted images.

“In short, the images you circulated online are complete fakes,” he concludes. In reference to the IRS whistleblowers, who Lowell says are “claiming that title in an attempt to evade their own misconduct,” Lowell added that the interviews were “orchestrated recitations of mischaracterized and incomplete ‘facts’ by disgruntled agents who believed they knew better than the federal prosecutors who had all the evidence as they conducted their five-year investigation of Mr. Biden.” “Chairman Smith, it is easy when a committee does not operate with fairness and thoroughness and an adherence to rules and procedures to forward a false political narrative,” concluded Lowell in his letter.

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“It’s unfortunate that America suffered three fake presidential impeachments in recent decades..”

The Long, Hot Summer (Kunstler)

Do you suppose that “Joe Biden” & Company can keep up this charade of a proxy war with Russia much longer? $150-billion pounded down the Kiev rat-hole, purchasing yet another foreign relations humiliation. Never has an American president been heaped with such an ignominious foundering and dishonor. He can only pretend to run for reelection as he wrecks the country. The DNC poohbahs, cross-eyed in transports of Woke-ism, must know that this bumbling grifter personifies a failing state. The White House press pool reporters are even flinging harsh questions at him these days as he desperately searches for doors to escape through. The tally in the Biden family bribery operation stands above $30-million now, with government whistleblowers pouring out of the agencies like termites from a burning house.

Most of them have not testified in Congress yet, or in any other venue, nor have the various DOJ and FBI officials associated with the broad-based cover-up of these blatant crimes. Do you doubt anymore that Attorney General Merrick Garland perjured himself testifying that the Delaware US attorney David Weiss was not interfered with in the Hunter Biden tax and gun violation case? The mounting evidence of foreign influence-peddling is hard and vivid now, viz., the Whatsapp text out this week of Hunter, “sitting here with my father,” extorting Chinese business associate Henry Zhao to fullfill his commitment or “regret not following my direction.” Hmmmmm. Explain that. Or the email archive carefully saved by IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley, who was prudent enough to back up his story with docs apt to prove DOJ malfeasance.

It’s unfortunate that America suffered three fake presidential impeachments in recent decades — Bill Clinton’s over a sexual impropriety, which is hardly a high crime, and the two utter charades involving Donald Trump — because now our nation is faced with serious presidential crimes explicitly laid out in Article II Section Four of the Constitution: bribery. “Joe Biden” will be impeached if he doesn’t bail altogether, and he might not do that because then he loses the power to pardon the other Biden family members involved. The impeachment of Merrick Garland for debauching and dishonoring the Justice Department logically would be the warm-up act for the impeachment of the president. They’ve both got to go and they both could save our country a lot of trouble by just stepping down. Then we can see about Kamala Harris.

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This too made me think of France.

“..sometime over the course of the past 240-plus years that constitutional republic has been transformed into a military dictatorship disguised as a democracy..”

America Is a Military Dictatorship Disguised as a Democracy (Whitehead)

The government is goosestepping all over our freedoms. Case in point: America’s founders did not want a military government ruled by force. Rather, they opted for a republic bound by the rule of law: the U.S. Constitution. Yet sometime over the course of the past 240-plus years that constitutional republic has been transformed into a military dictatorship disguised as a democracy. Most Americans seem relatively untroubled by this state of martial law. Incredibly, when President Biden bragged about how the average citizen doesn’t stand a chance against the government’s massive arsenal of militarized firepower, it barely caused a ripple. As Biden remarked at a fundraising event in California, “I love these guys who say the Second Amendment is—you know, the tree of liberty is water with the blood of patriots.

“Well, if [you] want to do that, you want to work against the government, you need an F-16. You need something else than just an AR-15.” The message being sent to the citizenry is clear: there is no place in our nation today for the kind of revolution our forefathers mounted against a tyrannical government. For that matter, the government has declared an all-out war on any resistance whatsoever by the citizenry to its mandates, power grabs and abuses. By this standard, had the Declaration of Independence been written today, it would have rendered its signers extremists or terrorists, resulting in them being placed on a government watch list, targeted for surveillance of their activities and correspondence, and potentially arrested, held indefinitely, stripped of their rights and labeled enemy combatants. This is no longer the stuff of speculation and warning.

For years, the government has been warning against the dangers of domestic terrorism, erecting surveillance systems to monitor its own citizens, creating classification systems to label any viewpoints that challenge the status quo as extremist, and training law enforcement agencies to equate anyone possessing anti-government views as a domestic terrorist. A 2008 Army War College report revealed that “widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.” The 44-page report goes on to warn that potential causes for such civil unrest could include another terrorist attack, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters.”

Read more …

 

 


 

 


This particular shark is believed to predate the existence of the United States of America. A team of scientists discovered a cluster of Greenland sharks and concluded that some of them are the oldest known vertebrates alive today. These sharks inhabit the frigid waters of Greenland and were the subject of a study conducted in 2017, which examined 28 individuals. The eldest shark in the study measured 16.5 feet (five meters) in length and was estimated to be approximately 392 years old. The researchers established, with a “95 percent certainty,” that the shark’s age fell within the range of 272 to 512 years, with a most probable age of around 390.

While the exact reasons behind their exceptional lifespan remain unclear, it is believed that the arctic temperatures they inhabit (plunging below 29 degrees Fahrenheit) contribute to their longevity. These low temperatures result in reduced body temperatures and slower metabolisms, thereby minimizing damage to the sharks’ tissues. Additionally, their growth rate is exceptionally slow, with less than half an inch (a centimeter) gained per year, suggesting a significantly longer lifespan compared to other vertebrates. Furthermore, the females of this species exhibit delayed sexual maturity, only beginning to mate at the age of 156.

 

 

Octopus
https://twitter.com/i/status/1674792210985021440
https://twitter.com/i/status/1674822032649863179

 

 

Tigers
https://twitter.com/i/status/1674806164310175744

 

 

Oarfish

 

 

Roman theater
https://twitter.com/i/status/1674843500917948420

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 142023
 
 April 14, 2023  Posted by at 9:15 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  40 Responses »


Jean-Michel Basquiat Warrior 1982

 

US Fanning Ukraine Crisis, Exacerbating Ukrainians’ Suffering – Xinhua (TASS)
CIA Director Concedes US Power Is Waning (RT)
World Faces ‘Most Dangerous Period Of Time In History’ – Trump (RT)
Bolton Touts ‘Grand Strategy’ To Counter Russia and China (RT)
US Military Would Need Conscription to Fight China (ET)
Stalemate Will Force Ukraine To Enact ‘Full Mobilization’ – Media (RT)
Seymour Hersh: The CIA Knows Ukrainian Officials Are Skimming US Aid (Antiwar)
Moscow Urges Washington To Issue Visas To Russian Delegation To UN Events (TASS)
Brazil Rebels Against US Dollar ‘Straitjacket’ (RT)
Frozen Assets To Be Returned To Russia After End Of Conflict (TASS)
UN Seeking To Reconnect Some Russian Banks To SWIFT (RT)
Trump Testifies In New York Business Fraud Case (Az.)
Appeals Court Ruling May Threaten DOJ Position in Dozens of Jan. 6 Cases (ET)
New York Times Is Now Telling Bigger Lies Than Iraq WMDs (Swanson)
Anheuser-Busch Loses $6BN In Six Days After Bud Light Trans Ad Campaign (ZH)

 

 

 

 

RFKjr Milgram

RFK jr autism
https://twitter.com/i/status/1646353148305457155

 

 

 

 

Babies stroke

 

 

Spike sperm
https://twitter.com/i/status/1646520024667148295

 

 

 

 

Rogan Taibbi

 

 

Tucker Musk

 

 

Tucker hot war

DC Draino:
Jack Texeira, the Ukraine Whistleblower, exposed Biden illegally putting US troops in Ukraine w/o Congressional authorization per the War Powers Resolution of 1973, an impeachable offense
His patriotism may end up stopping WW3
He doesn’t deserve jail time
He deserves an award

Pepe Escobar:
Old school Beltway intel source, retired:
Controlled leak.
Internal.
Way, way up – beyond the CIA.
21-year old gamer is a fall guy.
The circus is in town – actually a show that never ends.

 

 

 

 

“..the biggest peacebreaker and troublemaker in today’s world..”

“..It remains to be seen if they have noticed the changes in the Global South and started to reflect on the reasons behind them..”

US Fanning Ukraine Crisis, Exacerbating Ukrainians’ Suffering – Xinhua (TASS)

The United States has been fueling the crisis in Ukraine as it hampers peace there, while inflicting more pain on the Ukrainians, Xinhua said in a commentary on Friday. “As for the Ukraine crisis, the United States is constantly fanning the flame and hindering other countries from promoting talks for peace,” the Chinese news agency said. According to the commentary, leaders of many developing countries believe that by prolonging the crisis, Washington “is exacerbating the Ukrainians’ suffering, and impeding the resolution of other pressing issues facing the international community.” As a result, the international community, especially developing nations, “are more and more vocal in their criticism of the hegemonic and selfish behavior of the United States,” Xinhua maintains. While international peace and stability has been the biggest aspiration for developing countries, the agency argued, “it was made out of reach by the United States – the biggest peacebreaker and troublemaker in today’s world.”


“After the escalation of the Ukraine crisis, US-led Western countries launched severe sanctions against Russia, resulting in a spike of prices of global food, energy and other commodities, which overwhelmed developing countries,” the news agency emphasized. “It is obvious that more and more developing countries are now vocal in their opposition to the various irresponsible actions of the United States, with many refusing to follow the United States in imposing sanctions against Russia,” Xinhua added. “For years, American politicians have been used to pointing fingers at other countries and acting willfully on the international arena. It remains to be seen if they have noticed the changes in the Global South and started to reflect on the reasons behind them,” Xinhua concluded.

Read more …

“..Beijing is “not content to only have a seat at the table; it wants to run the table,” while Russia is seeking to “upend the table altogether.”

CIA Director Concedes US Power Is Waning (RT)

The dominant global role of the US can no longer be guaranteed as the country is witnessing a time of change “that comes along a couple of times a century,” CIA Director Bill Burns has claimed. Speaking at the Baker Institute earlier this week, Burns said that although Washington “still has a better hand to play than any of our rivals,” it is “no longer the only big kid on the geopolitical block and our position at the head of the table isn’t guaranteed.” The CIA chief pointed to growing ties between China and Russia, which he argued will present a “formidable challenge” for his agency for years to come. According to Burns, Beijing is “not content to only have a seat at the table; it wants to run the table,” while Russia is seeking to “upend the table altogether.”

Burns, who served as the US ambassador to Moscow under George W. Bush, condemned Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, calling it an act of “brutish aggression.” He claimed the CIA has provided “good intelligence” that has “helped the Ukrainians defend themselves” and cemented “a strong coalition in support of Ukraine.” Burns added that Kiev’s long-anticipated spring offensive would feature “strong material and intelligence support from the US and our allies.” The spy chief claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “not serious about negotiations” on a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and suggested that only Ukrainian progress on the battlefield was “likely to shape prospects for diplomacy.”

Russia has repeatedly stated that it is open to peace talks and has blamed Kiev and its Western allies for blocking negotiations. Ukraine has placed a legal ban on any talks with Russia as it seeks to defeat its opponent on the battlefield. Regarding China, Burns insisted that Beijing remains the CIA’s “biggest long-term priority.” He noted that in the last few years, the intelligence agency has doubled the resources it focuses on China, including hiring and training Mandarin speakers and stepping up efforts to compete with Beijing on the world stage. “Managing a crucial and increasingly adversarial relationship with China will be the most significant test for American policy makers for decades to come,” the US official said, arguing that the risk of a conflict over Taiwan will continue to grow.

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“I think it’s much more than infrastructure we’re talking about.”

“..the most dangerous period of time in the history of our country and in the history of the world, right now, and we have an incompetent person at the top.”

World Faces ‘Most Dangerous Period Of Time In History’ – Trump (RT)

The world has been pushed to the brink of total destruction by inept leaders and nuclear weapons that are 500 times as powerful as the atomic bombs that American forces dropped on Japan during World War II, former US president Donald Trump has claimed. “Look, we could end up in World War III over this whole thing,” Trump said in a Fox News interview that was aired on Wednesday night. He added, “I believe it is the most dangerous period of time in history – number one, because we have people on top that are incompetent. That’s number one.” Trump made his comments in the context of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Russian officials have warned that increasing US and NATO involvement in Ukraine, including massive military aid to Kiev, could escalate the crisis into a wider conflict, possibly involving nuclear weapons.

Asked by host Tucker Carlson who was behind last year’s bombing of Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, Trump said it wasn’t Moscow. He implied that Washington was involved in the sabotage, saying, “I don’t want to get our country in trouble, so I won’t answer it.” The former president acknowledged that it was “very dangerous” to blow up the pipelines, adding, “I think most people know who did it.” Asked whether the US put itself at risk of retaliatory strikes on its critical infrastructure, he said, “I think it’s much more than infrastructure we’re talking about.”

Trump also warned that nuclear weapons are the biggest threat facing the world today, and the US and Russian arsenals could cause unprecedented destruction. “All it takes is one madman, and you’re gonna have a problem the likes of which the world has never seen.” Trump, who is currently polling as the leading Republican Party candidate in the 2024 presidential race, blamed current US leadership for heightening the risk of nuclear war with Russia and China. “The most dangerous period of time – because of weaponry, because of nuclear, because of weaponry – the most dangerous period of time in the history of our country and in the history of the world, right now, and we have an incompetent person at the top.

Read more …

“Bolton urged Washington to prepare for what happens “after Ukraine wins its war with Russia.”

Bolton Touts ‘Grand Strategy’ To Counter Russia and China (RT)

Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton has urged Washington to implement a new Cold War-style strategy against Russia and China. According to the long-time hawk, the West should cut back on social security to fund military spending, renew testing of nuclear weapons, and provide NATO-like protection to Taiwan. Bolton, who served in the administration of President Donald Trump, described his “grand-strategy” approach to geopolitics in a Wall Street Journal column on Wednesday, urging candidates in the 2024 US presidential election to think in the same terms. The US should have a “contemporary reincarnation” of NSC-68, the top-secret document adopted under President Harry Truman which laid the foundation for militarizing the confrontation with the USSR. Bolton claimed that in the new Cold War, the US and its allies would be pitted against a Chinese-Russian “axis” and “accompanying rogue-state outriders like Iran and North Korea.”

He named several key points for his proposed strategy, including an immediate increase in military spending to Reagan-era levels, which he claimed should be maintained for the foreseeable future. Bolton also argued that Western nations should cut back on social spending, because “neither the obese welfare state nor massive income-redistribution schemes protect us from foreign adversaries.” In addition, he asserted that the US should upgrade its nuclear stockpiles, which would mean “the inevitable need to resume some underground testing.” Bolton’s plan also advocated the “improvement and expansion” of American military alliances, possibly by making NATO a global organization. This would help “exclude Moscow from regional influence, along with Beijing,” the former official claimed.

The self-governed Chinese island of Taiwan should get “much more military aid” from Western nations, which should “embed Taipei into collective-defense structures,” Bolton also suggested. The recommendation comes despite the Chinese government identifying Taiwanese separatism as a major ‘red line’ which may trigger military action if crossed. Finally, Bolton urged Washington to prepare for what happens “after Ukraine wins its war with Russia.” He claimed that such an outcome could lead to Russia’s fragmentation, and warned that China would then seize some of its territories, providing it with “direct access to the Arctic, including even the Bering Strait, facing Alaska.” Moscow has claimed that the conflict in Ukraine is part of a US proxy war against Russia, and that Washington’s goal is to partition the country. The Russian leadership has argued that this threat leaves it with no other option but to succeed in Ukraine.

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“Our army is too small as constituted to actually prosecute a war with these countries, but it’s large enough that it’s sucking a lot of resources away.”

US Military Would Need Conscription to Fight China (ET)

The U.S. military could not achieve victory in a war with China using its current, all-volunteer force, according to one expert. The United States will thus need to radically transform its force structure to better contend with the emerging threat environment, up to and including by reinstating conscription, said Jonathan Askonas, an assistant professor of Politics at Catholic University of America. “This is a five-alarm fire,” Askonas said during an April 11 discussion with the Hudson Institute think tank. “We’re facing global threats and we have a force structure which we know will not work against those threats. “We basically can’t fight a war larger than Iraq with the all-volunteer force.”

The all-volunteer force has been a staple of U.S. military organization since 1973, when the draft was terminated along with the United States’ direct involvement in the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, Askonas said, the all-volunteer force was proving incapable of generating the number of service members required for a war between great powers, and its burdensome logistical processes were likely to be ineffective in either a conflict with China in the Indo-Pacific theater or supporting European powers against Russia. “We have a Goldilocks problem,” Askonas said. “Our army is too small as constituted to actually prosecute a war with these countries, but it’s large enough that it’s sucking a lot of resources away.”

“We have to be ruthless. We need to adapt our force structure not to hypothetical threats or in some universal Swiss army knife approach, but to the actual threats that we face.” To that end, Askonas suggested that the military should re-adopt a “cadre” system for deploying the military, not dissimilar to that used in World War II. Under such a system, the number of resource-heavy full time service members would be decreased in peacetime in favor of investing in expensive, slow-to-build items like warships.

Read more …

There is no stalemate.

Stalemate Will Force Ukraine To Enact ‘Full Mobilization’ – Media (RT)

The US believes that neither Ukraine nor Russia will achieve major gains on the battlefield this year, and that the ensuing stalemate will force Kiev to call up every last available man to fight, according to leaked Pentagon documents cited by the Washington Post. The US Defense Intelligence Agency views both Kiev and Moscow as having “insufficient troops and supplies for effective operations,” and as such predicts that the conflict in Ukraine will drag on into 2024, with both sides achieving only “marginal” territorial gains this year, the newspaper reported on Wednesday. Nevertheless, “negotiations to end the conflict are unlikely,” the agency reportedly wrote in its assessment, which was included in a trove of leaked documents.

The Post and a number of newspapers have published information from some of these documents, while simultaneously helping the government track down the suspected leaker, who was arrested by the FBI on Thursday after the New York Times published his identity. In a protracted conflict with little chance of victory or negotiations, it is Ukraine that will pay the heaviest price, the Pentagon reportedly believes. Such a stalemate will force Kiev to enact the “full mobilization” of its remaining male population, the Post reported, a move that will trigger public “criticism” of Vladimir Zelensky’s government and make “leadership changes more likely.”

The document also gives scenarios in which Ukraine either scores a decisive victory, forcing Russia to escalate or negotiate, or Russia scores a victory that enables it to demand regime change in Kiev. However, the stalemate outcome is reportedly listed as “the most likely scenario.” Kiev’s efforts to conscript civilians into military service have proven unpopular, with numerous videos surfacing showing men being forcibly detained on the streets and press-ganged into service. With Ukrainian lawmakers reportedly considering expanding the draft, many of those already in uniform have been funneled into the encircled Donbass town of Artyomovsk (known as Bakhmut in Ukraine), which they consider no longer worth defending.

Other recently leaked Pentagon documents revealed that, as of February, the US believes Ukraine has suffered up to 131,000 casualties in the conflict thus far, including up to 17,500 killed. Establishing a true body count is difficult, as Ukraine rarely publishes its losses. Last autumn, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen put Kiev’s fatalities at 100,000, a claim that was disputed by Kiev and later removed from the EU’s websites. The Post noted that the documents did not specify whether a “leadership change” in Kiev refers to a rotation of political leaders or military brass. Officials in Kiev are reportedly outraged over the leak, which also included information suggesting Ukraine is ill-equipped to mount its long-promised spring counteroffensive.

Read more …

“..Burns presented Zelensky with a list of 35 generals and senior government officials whose corruption was known to the CIA. Zelensky responded by dismissing 10 officials..”

“.. Zelensky “has been buying the fuel from Russia, the country with which it, and Washington, are at war, and the Ukrainian president and many in his entourage have been skimming untold millions from the American dollars earmarked for diesel fuel payments.”

Seymour Hersh: The CIA Knows Ukrainian Officials Are Skimming US Aid (Antiwar)

On Wednesday, Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published a report on Substack that alleged the CIA was aware of widespread corruption in Ukraine and the embezzlement of US aid. The report said the Ukrainian government has been using US taxpayer money to purchase diesel from Russia to fuel its military. Hersh said Zelensky “has been buying the fuel from Russia, the country with which it, and Washington, are at war, and the Ukrainian president and many in his entourage have been skimming untold millions from the American dollars earmarked for diesel fuel payments.” Hersh said according to one estimate by CIA analysts, at least $400 million in funds were embezzled last year. Sources told Hersh that Ukrainian officials are also “competing” to set up front companies for export contracts to private arms dealers around the world.

The issue of corruption was raised during a meeting between CIA Director William Burns and Zelensky in January. An intelligence official with direct knowledge of the meeting told Hersh that Burns delivered a stunning message to Zelensky. Hersh wrote: “The senior generals and government officials in Kiev were angry at what they saw as Zelensky’s greed, so Burns told the Ukrainian president, because ‘he was taking a larger share of the skim money than was going to the generals.’” During the meeting, Burns presented Zelensky with a list of 35 generals and senior government officials whose corruption was known to the CIA. Zelensky responded by dismissing 10 officials who were engaged in flagrant corruption. “The ten he got rid of were brazenly bragging about the money they had—driving around Kiev in their new Mercedes,” the intelligence official said.

Hersh said Zelensky’s “half-hearted response” and the “lack of concern” in the White House angered some US intelligence officials. The intelligence official speaking to Hersh criticized President Biden’s two main foreign policy advisors, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “They have no experience, judgment, and moral integrity. They just tell lies, make up stories. Diplomatic deniability is something else,” the official said. The official said there was a “total breakdown between the White House leadership and the intelligence community.” The report said the rift started in the fall when the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines were blown up. According to Hersh’s earlier reporting, President Biden ordered the operation that took out the pipelines. “Destroying the Nord Stream pipelines was never discussed, or even known in advance, by the community,” the official said.

The official said there is “no strategy for ending the war” within the Biden administration and offered more scathing criticism of Blinken and Sullivan. “Burns is not the problem,” the official said. “The problem is Biden and his principal lieutenants—Blinken and Sullivan and their court of worshippers—who see those who criticize Zelensky as being pro-Putin. ‘We are against evil. Ukraine will fight ’til the last military shell is gone, and still fight.’ And here’s Biden who is telling America that we’re going to fight as long as it takes.” Hersh’s story comes after a series of leaked top-secret documents from the Pentagon and other government agencies surfaced online. Some of the documents show US war planning for Ukraine and reveal the US doubts Kyiv’s ability to launch a successful counter-offensive, offering a starkly different view of Ukraine’s abilities than what Biden officials have been saying publicly

Read more …

Move the UN. Or dissolve it altogether.

Moscow Urges Washington To Issue Visas To Russian Delegation To UN Events (TASS)

Moscow urges Washington to immediately issue visas to members of Russia’s delegation to events related to the country’s chairmanship of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said. “The request to issue visas for the Russian delegation and the journalists was sent to the US Embassy in Moscow at the end of March. However, not a single entry permission has been granted so far,” the envoy said in a statement, commenting on the issuance of visas to members of the Russian delegation led by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “There was an agreement that the Russian media representatives would visit the American diplomatic mission on March 31 to have their visa applications examined. However, the appointment was canceled without any explanation less than one day prior to it. There is still no certainty, although there are only a few days left before the event,” Antonov noted.


“We urge Washington to immediately issue visas for our delegation, as well as for our journalists. Failure to do that is a violation of the United States’ obligations as the host country of the UN headquarters, which impedes appropriate, full-fledged functioning of the World Organization,” the Russian ambassador stressed. “An incomprehensible situation concerning the Minister’s special flight is evolving. The US authorities have not yet sanctioned the arrival of the aircraft. We expect Americans to promptly grant the flight permission without any conditions or restrictions,” Antonov added. The UN secretary general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a briefing on Wednesday that the United Nations expected the US to issue visas to members of Lavrov’s delegation, expected to visit the UN headquarters in late April.

Read more …

“Every night I ask myself why all countries have to base their trade on the dollar. Why can’t we do trade based on our own currencies?”

Brazil Rebels Against US Dollar ‘Straitjacket’ (RT)

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has stated that developing nations should move away from the US dollar in favor of their own currencies in order to push back against American dominance over the global financial system. Speaking in Shanghai on Thursday during an official visit to China, Lula said the BRICS group – comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – should look for an alternative currency to the dollar for trade. “Every night I ask myself why all countries have to base their trade on the dollar. Why can’t we do trade based on our own currencies?” he said. “Who was it that decided that the dollar was the currency after the disappearance of the gold standard?”

The leftist leader went on to lament that “everyone depends on just one currency,” referring to the dollar, and proposed “a currency to finance trade relations between Brazil and China, between Brazil and other countries.” Lula kicked off his trip to China with an event to mark the appointment of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as the head of the New Development Bank, also known as the ‘BRICS bank,’ which he said could free emerging economies “from submission to traditional financial institutions, which want to govern us.”

Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad also traveled with the president to China, where he told reporters that Brazil would aim to create trade mechanisms for developing countries to bypass the use of the dollar. “The advantage is to avoid the straitjacket imposed by necessarily having trade operations settled in a currency of a country not involved in the transaction,” he said. Lula’s visit to China comes as Beijing increasingly promotes the use of its own currency, the renminbi, to settle international transactions. Last month, Russia said it had adopted the yuan as one of its primary reserve currencies amid a massive sanctions campaign linked to the conflict in Ukraine, highlighting a gradual shift away from the Western financial system by some major powers.

Trade between China and Brazil has seen a significant boost over the last decade, with more than $150 billion in business recorded last year. Chinese firms have bought up large amounts of minerals and agricultural goods in the South American country, and invested in Brazilian infrastructure. The Brazilian president arrived in China on Wednesday night and will remain there until April 15. After his speech in Shanghai, Lula headed off to Beijing, where he is set to meet with President Xi Jinping on Friday. The two leaders are expected to focus on issues related to trade and foreign policy – such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to develop roads, highways and other infrastructure in foreign countries – according to the Financial Times.

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“..the EU’s legal service has not yet found an answer to a question what to do if the EU loses these funds in a certain situation..”

Frozen Assets To Be Returned To Russia After End Of Conflict (TASS)

Lawyers of the European Commission (EC) have arrived at a conclusion that assets of the Bank of Russia frozen in the EU will have to be returned to Russia after the end of the conflict in Ukraine, Die Welt newspaper said on Thursday, citing an unpublished EC document. Assets of the Bank of Russia cannot be simply transferred to Ukraine, EC experts said. “There is political will but legal barriers are high. The European Commission comes to a sobering conclusion that frozen assets cannot be touched since once upon a time, when the war ends, they will have to be returned to Russia,” the newspaper informed. The next one suggested by the EC is to invest frozen assets of the Bank of Russia in European government bonds and use the interest for payments to Kiev. At the same time, the EU’s legal service has not yet found an answer to a question what to do if the EU loses these funds in a certain situation, the newspaper reported. Actions in such case still need to be clarified, Die Welt said.

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“..According to the Kremlin, only half of the agreement is currently being implemented because not all parties have kept their side of the bargain…”

UN Seeking To Reconnect Some Russian Banks To SWIFT (RT)

The United Nations is discussing bringing some Russian banks back to the SWIFT payment system in order to help keep grain shipments from Ukraine going, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said. When asked during a briefing on Wednesday if any progress had been made on Russia’s demands regarding the grain agreement, Dujarric said that UN officials were “trying to doggedly move the process forward.” Moscow warned on Wednesday that the outlook for extending beyond May 18 the grain deal, which ensures the safe export of grain and fertilizer from several Ukrainian Black Sea ports, was “not good.”

The Kremlin has demanded allowing Russian Agricultural Bank to return to SWIFT, permitting Russia to import agricultural machinery, as well as the removal of insurance restrictions, port access for Russian ships and cargo, and an unblocking of the financial activities of Russian fertilizer companies. “Obviously, the fact that a number of Russian financial institutions are not, if not all of them, I’m not sure, are not in the SWIFT system makes things more complicated. And we are in discussions with the people who are responsible for SWIFT and the Europeans and others on that,” Dujarric said.

According to him, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has no authority over SWIFT or over the EU member states that imposed anti-Russia sanctions. “He has no authority over insurance companies, shipping companies. He can’t tell them what to do,” the spokesman stressed, adding that “we’re trying to herd a whole group of people.” While the Western sanctions do not directly target Russian agricultural goods, they affect payments, insurance and shipping. With many Russian banks disconnected from SWIFT, direct settlements for exports have been made difficult. Under the pact, brokered in July last year by the UN and Türkiye, Russia was to receive a sanctions reprieve for its own agricultural goods. However, Moscow has voiced discontent with UN efforts to lift Western restrictions affecting the sector.

According to the Kremlin, only half of the agreement is currently being implemented because not all parties have kept their side of the bargain. In March, Moscow agreed to extend the agreement for 60 days, stressing it would only consider a further extension if the demands in relation to its own exports were met. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the time that the organization would “do everything possible to preserve the integrity” of the deal and make sure that it continued to function. The Black Sea export agreement has reportedly allowed more than 27.5 million tons of food to be shipped out, which, according to the UN, has helped lower food prices across the world.

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Every real estate company makes itself look the best it can. What fraud?

Trump Testifies In New York Business Fraud Case (Az.)

Former US President Donald Trump answered questions Thursday in New York during his second deposition in a civil case accusing him of business fraud, according to Anadolu Agency. The deposition came only a week after Trump’s arraignment on criminal charges in a separate lawsuit. The $250 million lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James last year against the ex-president claims that Trump and his family misled banks and business associates about his net worth and the value of some of his assets. Trump denies any wrongdoing. The questions behind closed doors took nearly seven hours, according to media reports. ”This civil case is ridiculous, just like all of the other Election Interference cases being brought against me,” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social ahead of his testimony. Last week, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to his alleged involvement in a scheme to pay “hush money” to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

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Obstruction.

Appeals Court Ruling May Threaten DOJ Position in Dozens of Jan. 6 Cases (ET)

An April 7 decision issued by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals may jeopardize a key legal backing used by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute participants in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach, according to attorney Albert Watkins. “What this opinion did do was, it practically begged for other [Jan. 6] cases to be brought up to the Court of Appeals that would permit a more balanced opinion,” Watkins, who has represented four Jan. 6 defendants, including released prisoner Jacob Chansley, told The Epoch Times on April 11. Watkins’s comment came after a three-judge panel at the D.C. Court of Appeals on April 7, struck down a lower court’s ruling in a 2–1 vote, dismissing a federal charge against three Jan. 6 defendants, and rejected the lower court’s reasoning about the scope of the obstruction charge.

Although the higher court’s ruling (pdf) allowed the DOJ’s prosecution of these three specific defendants—Joseph Fischer, Edward Lang, and Garret Miller—to continue, the effect of the higher court’s opinion extends beyond these cases, the attorney said. According to Watkins, this extended effect has to do with the interpretation of language regarding “corrupt” intention in obstruction charges, considering that the DOJ has been using the obstruction charge as an “attractive” legal tool to prosecute Jan. 6 cases and score plea agreements. According to a provision in the statute for obstruction charge (18 U.S. Code Section 1512 2(c)), “Whoever corruptly … obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

A narrowed definition of this provision could hinder the DOJ’s ability to use the charge further and introduce uncertainties in the ongoing trials, the attorney indicated. The DOJ had charged more than 200 Jan. 6 defendants with obstruction-related charges. “It should cause a certain degree of trepidation on the part of the Department of Justice about utilizing—in a very footloose and fancy-free fashion—the obstruction of an official proceeding charge as the count of choice for pleas,” Watkins said. “I will say it was, in many respects, an extraordinary opinion—more time was spent addressing potential issues not before the court than the issues actually before the court.”

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“What in the world would it mean to oppose organized mass murder because it skews right wing?”

New York Times Is Now Telling Bigger Lies Than Iraq WMDs (Swanson)

The New York Times routinely tells bigger lies than the clumsy nonsense it published about weapons in Iraq. Here’s an example. This package of lies is called “Liberals Have a Blind Spot on Defense” but mentions nothing related to defense. It simply pretends that militarism is defensive by applying that word and by lying that “we face simultaneous and growing military threats from Russia and China.” Seriously? Where? The U.S. military budget is more than those of most nations of the world combined. Only 29 nations, out of some 200 on Earth, spend even 1 percent what the U.S. does. Of those 29, a full 26 are U.S. weapons customers. Many of those receive free U.S. weapons and/or training and/or have U.S. bases in their countries.

Only one non-ally, non-weapons customer (albeit a collaborator in bioweapons research labs) spends over 10% what the U.S. does, namely China, which was at 37% of U.S. spending in 2021 and likely about the same now despite the highly horrifying increases widely reported in the U.S. media and on the floor of Congress. (That’s not considering weapons for Ukraine and various other U.S. expenses.) While the U.S. has planted military bases around Russia and China, neither has a military base anywhere near the United States, and neither has threatened the United States. Now, if you don’t want to fill the globe with U.S. weaponry and provoke Russia and China on their borders, the New York Times has some additional lies for you: “Defense spending is about as pure an application of a domestic industrial policy — with thousands of good-paying, high-skilled manufacturing jobs — as any other high-tech sector.”

No, it is not. Just about any other way of spending public dollars, or even not taxing them in the first place, produces more and better jobs. Here’s a doozie: “Liberals also used to be hostile to the military on the assumption that it skewed right wing, but that’s a harder argument to make when the right is complaining about a ‘woke military.’” What in the world would it mean to oppose organized mass murder because it skews right wing? What the hell else could it skew? I oppose militarism because it kills, destroys, damages the Earth, drives homelessness and illness and poverty, prevents global cooperation, tears down the rule of law, prevents self-governance, produces the dumbest pages of the New York Times, fuels bigotry, and militarizes police, and because there are better ways to resolve disputes and to resist the militarism of others. I’m not going to start cheering for mass killings because some general doesn’t hate enough groups.

Then there’s this lie: “The Biden administration touts the size of its $842 billion budget request, and in nominal terms it’s the largest ever. But that fails to account for inflation.” If you look at U.S. military spending according to SIPRI in constant 2021 dollars from 1949 to now (all the years they provide, with their calculation adjusting for inflation), Obama’s 2011 record will probably fall this year. If you look at actual numbers, not adjusting for inflation, Biden has set a new record each year. If you add in the free weapons for Ukraine, then, even adjusting for inflation, the record fell this past year and will probably be broken again in the coming year.

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How to kill a brand.

Anheuser-Busch Loses $6BN In Six Days After Bud Light Trans Ad Campaign (ZH)

After reaching a three-year high of $66.73 per share, Bud Light parent company Anheuser Busch Inbev lost more than $6 billion in market cap since announcing its partnership with 26-year-old transgender ‘influencer’ Dylan Mulvaney on April 2, as bar owners and distributors report a sharp decline in Bud Light sales over the past week. The company’s market cap fell as low as $125.7 billion, down from $132.8 billion six days ago, a drop of more than five-percent. Meanwhile competitor Molson Coors (TAP) saw $350 million added to its market cap over the last week. Bud Light’s partnership with Mulvaney included custom cans featuring his face and pro-LGBTQ language to commemorate the biological male’s ‘being a woman’ for over a year.


The ad campaign kicked off with naked Mulvaney drinking Bud Light in a bathtub. And while Anheuser-Busch issued a statement in support of Mulvaney, saying it “works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics,” the Daily Wire reports that company executives had no idea about the ad campaign. “No one at the senior level” of the company was aware of Bud Light’s polarizing partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, sources close to the situation claim. The company is also allegedly pausing its marketing efforts and scrambling to implement a more “robust” process for evaluating future influencer partnerships.

“No one at a senior level was aware this was happening,” said one source, who was granted anonymity to discuss sensitive internal discussions. “Some low-level marketing staffer who helps manage the hundreds of influencer engagements they do must have thought it was no big deal. Obviously it was, and it’s a shame because they have a well-earned reputation for just being America’s beer — not a political company. It was a mistake.” A second source also claimed that a lower level employee had made the decision to include Mulvaney in the campaign, a move that appears to have cost the company $5 billion in market value. The backlash to the iconic American beer brand has been so intense that a Budweiser distributor in Missouri canceled an event with the company’s famous Clydesdale horses because everything was “still sensitive” over the matter.” -Daily Wire

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Goats on trees
https://twitter.com/i/status/1646533792495206403

 

 


An albino tree is unable to produce chlorophyll & survives by obtaining sugar through neighboring trees’ roots

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 122023
 


Ceiling painting from the palace of Amenhotep III, New Kingdom ca. 1390–1353 B.C.

 

US Will ‘Turn Over Every Rock’ Until Source Of Document Leak Found (G.)
Pentagon Chief Grilled Over Leaks (RT)
Putin Believes He Can Grind Down Ukraine: CIA Director Burns (Az.)
Pentagon Leak Shows Western Special Forces On The Ground In Ukraine (BBC)
US Has Doubts About Ukrainian ‘Counteroffensive’ – Pentagon Leaks (RT)
Imperial Washington – The New Global Menace (David Stockman)
Private Armies Are Making A Killing (Fazi)
Manhattan Prosecutor Sues Trump’s Chief House Ally Jim Jordan (RT)
Europe Warming Up To Macron’s ‘Strategic Autonomy’ Push Away From US (Pol.eu)
Switzerland Refuses To Freeze More Russian Assets (RT)
Trump Weighs In On Nord Stream Sabotage (RT)
BRICS Nation South Africa To Clarify Russia Stance With Washington (RT)
The Taliban Did In One Year What Washington Couldn’t In 20 (Marsden)
Kremlin Pours Cold Water On Unblocking Twitter (RT)
Australian, UK Politicians Call on US to Drop Julian Assange Extradition (ET)
Democrats Urge Biden To Drop Julian Assange Charges (RT)

 

 


In June ’23 UK gov plans to jab vulnerable Children from 6 months old with the unsafe & ineffective Pfizer ‘vaccine’, despite data proving unprecedented harms including death.

 

 

RFKjr Bioweapons

 

 

 

 

Nap Ritter

 

 

 

 

Tucker USD

 

 

MiG-41

 

 

Tucker Trump

 

 

RFKjr Fauci

 

 

Sudden death among EU athletes is up tenfold since the advent of the #covidvaccines in 2021.
– Peter McCullough

 

 

 

 

This is from a “live” thread in the Guardian. I wanted to use it, with the next 2 articles, to point out the nonsense spouted by the CIA director and the Defense Secretary.

US Will ‘Turn Over Every Rock’ Until Source Of Document Leak Found (G.)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday said the United States will investigate the recent purported leak of classified documents until the source is found. “We will continue to investigate and turn over every rock until we find the source of this and the extent of it,” Austin said during a press conference at the state department. Investigators are working to determine what person or group might have had the ability and motivation to release the intelligence reports. The leaks could be the most damaging release of US government information since the 2013 publication of thousands of documents on WikiLeaks.

Milancy Harris, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security, is leading the Pentagon’s review to assess the potential impact of the leaked documents, a U.S. official told Reuters. Some of the most sensitive information is purportedly related to Ukraine’s military capabilities and shortcomings, and one document mentions the small number of western special forces troops in the country. The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of the documents.

Russia ‘risks becoming economic colony of China’ as isolation deepens, says CIA director
Russia risks becoming an “economic colony” of China as its isolation from the West deepens after the invasion of Ukraine, CIA Director William Burns said on Tuesday. “Russia is becoming more and more dependent on China and, in some respects, runs the risk of becoming an economic colony of China over time, dependent for export of energy resources and raw materials,” Burns said at an event at Rice University in Houston.

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“Well, they were somewhere in the web, and where exactly and who had access at that point we don’t know. We simply don’t know at this point..”

Pentagon Chief Grilled Over Leaks (RT)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he was not made aware of a major leak of classified intelligence documents until more than a month after they first appeared online, raising questions about the government’s response as the Pentagon and Justice Department scramble to determine the origin of the breach. Speaking at a Tuesday press briefing alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a senior official from the Philippines, Austin took an aside to address the document leak, which has dominated headlines since they were noticed by US media last week. Stating the government takes the disclosures “very seriously” and had ordered an “urgent cross-department” probe, the Pentagon head also revealed that he was first briefed on the leaks on the morning of April 6 – weeks after the sensitive files first appeared online.


Asked by a reporter how the documents could have been freely accessible online for “at least many weeks… before US intelligence knew they were in the public domain,” Austin was unable to provide a clear answer, instead reiterating that officials would conduct a thorough investigation. “Well, they were somewhere in the web, and where exactly and who had access at that point we don’t know. We simply don’t know at this point,” he said. “I will tell you that we take this very seriously and we will continue to investigate and turn over every rock until we find the source of this and the extent of it.” A similar query addressed to Secretary Blinken was also met with a Glomar response, with the senior diplomat stating “I’m certainly not going to comment on these purported documents.”

Austin

The batch of sensitive documents appeared online in early March on the chat platform Discord, but the first media reports on the leaks did not emerge until last week. The document trove is made up of dozens of classified pages containing information about US and NATO war planning in Ukraine, including timelines for training and arms deliveries, data on ammunition expenditures, the structure of Ukrainian combat units, estimated Russian and Ukrainian losses, and information regarding foreign special forces on the ground. Other material related to US counter-terrorism efforts, as well as its policies in the Middle East and China, is also reportedly included in the files. However, so far officials have declined to confirm the accuracy of their contents, saying only that they are looking into the leak and working to remove the documents from the internet.

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“Real countries fight back.” He doesn’t realize he describes Russia.

Putin Believes He Can Grind Down Ukraine: CIA Director Burns (Az.)

The CIA assesses that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “not serious about negotiations at this stage” of the war in Ukraine and it is “Ukrainian progress on the battlefield that is most likely to shape prospects for diplomacy” to end the ongoing conflict, CIA Director Bill Burns said on Tuesday, Report informs, citing CNN. Speaking publicly for the first time, at Rice University, since leaked classified US military documents appeared online, Burns stressed the importance of Ukraine’s planned offensive, saying “a great deal is at stake in the coming months.” “Instead of backing down, he has doubled down,” Burns said about Putin, adding the Russian president believes he can grind down Ukraine and the West. “Real countries fight back,” Burns said on Tuesday, adding that Ukraine and its president have done just that. “Putin was profoundly mistaken” in his assumptions about Ukraine before the war, Burns added.

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It IS Russia vs NATO.

Pentagon Leak Shows Western Special Forces On The Ground In Ukraine (BBC)

The UK is among a number of countries with military special forces operating inside Ukraine, according to one of dozens of documents leaked online. It confirms what has been the subject of quiet speculation for over a year. The leaked files, some marked “top secret”, paint a detailed picture of the war in Ukraine, including sensitive details of Ukraine’s preparations for a spring counter-offensive. The US government says it is investigating the source of the leak. According to the document, dated 23 March, the UK has the largest contingent of special forces in Ukraine (50), followed by fellow Nato states Latvia (17), France (15), the US (14) and the Netherlands (1). The document does not say where the forces are located or what they are doing.

The numbers of personnel may be small, and will doubtless fluctuate. But special forces are by their very nature highly effective. Their presence in Ukraine is likely to be seized upon by Moscow, which has in recent months argued that it is not just confronting Ukraine, but Nato as well. In line with its standard policy on such matters, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has not commented, but in a tweet on Tuesday said the leak of alleged classified information had demonstrated what it called a “serious level of inaccuracy”. “Readers should be cautious about taking at face value allegations that have the potential to spread misinformation,” it said.

It did not elaborate or suggest which specific documents it was referring to. However, Pentagon officials are quoted as saying the documents are real. One document, which detailed the number of casualties suffered in Ukraine on both sides, did appear to have been doctored. UK special forces are made up of several elite military units with distinct areas of expertise, and are regarded to be among the most capable in the world. The British government has a policy of not commenting on its special forces, in contrast to other countries including the US.

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“Doubts”? Ha ha.

US Has Doubts About Ukrainian ‘Counteroffensive’ – Pentagon Leaks (RT)

Documents said to have been leaked from US intelligence paint a bleak picture for Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive, according to the Washington Post. If genuine, they raise doubts about Kiev’s ability to field the manpower and ammunition needed to sustain major combat operations over the coming months. Parts of the leaked trove began circulating online last month. Files labeled ‘top secret’ reveal American reservations about the upcoming counter-attack, warning that a lack of troops and ammunition could mean that Ukraine will fall short of its ambitious goals to retake lost ground over the spring, the Post reported on Monday.

“Enduring Ukrainian deficiencies in training and munitions supplies probably will strain progress and exacerbate casualties during the offensive,” the document says, going on to cite Russia’s sturdy network of defensive installations across the southern Kherson Region and Kiev’s ongoing “force generation and sustainment shortfalls.” The document also suggests Ukrainian forces will aim to capture territory in the south and east, apparently hoping to cut off Russian troops advancing from Crimea. However, the intelligence assessment predicts only “modest” success in those goals. A separate classified briefing prepared by the National Intelligence Council, seen by only select lawmakers on Capitol Hill, concluded that Kiev’s counter-offensive is unlikely to be as successful as operations last fall, which did result in some regained ground, according to sources cited by the Post.

Yet another leaked document citedby the Wall Street Journal on Sunday also warned that Ukraine faces a “looming air defense crisis,” which could prevent its military from massing the frontline forces needed for the counteroffensive. The assessment predicts that, at the current rate of consumption, Kiev will have exhausted its supply of Buk air defense missiles sometime this week, and all of its S-300 ammunition by May 3, leaving its skies largely undefended. While the full scope of the leak – as well as the veracity of the documents, some of which appear to have been doctored – remains unclear, Pentagon spokesman Chris Meagher has acknowledgedthat the files “appear… to contain sensitive and highly-classified material.”

During a Monday briefing, he said both the Pentagon and Justice Department are probing the matter, and that a criminal investigation was underway to determine the source of the unauthorized disclosures. A previous report in the New York Times indicated that more than 100 pages had been leaked in total. The document trove contains a wealth of information about US and NATO war planning in Ukraine, including timelines for training and arms deliveries, data on ammunition expenditures, the structure of Ukrainian combat units, estimated Russian and Ukrainian losses, and, apparently, information regarding foreign special forces on the ground. Officials have declined to confirm the accuracy of their contents, however, saying only that they are investigating the leak.

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“George H. W. Bush should never be forgiven for enabling the likes of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Gates and their neocon pack of jackals to come to power — even if he eventually denounced them in his doddering old age..”

Imperial Washington – The New Global Menace (David Stockman)

There is no peace on earth today for reasons mainly rooted in Imperial Washington — not Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Damascus, Mosul or the rubble of what remains of Raqqa. Imperial Washington has become a global menace owing to what didn’t happen in 1991 (when the USSR collapsed). At that crucial inflection point, Bush the Elder should have declared “mission accomplished” and parachuted into the great Ramstein Air Base in Germany to begin the demobilization of America’s war machine. So doing, he could have slashed the Pentagon budget from $600 billion to $250 billion (2015 $); demobilized the military-industrial complex by putting a moratorium on all new weapons development, procurement and export sales; dissolved NATO and dismantled the far-flung network of US military bases; reduced the United States’ standing armed forces from 1.5 million to a few hundred thousand; and organized and led a world disarmament and peace campaign, as did his Republican predecessors during the 1920s.

Unfortunately, George H. W. Bush was not a man of peace, vision or even middling intelligence. He was the malleable tool of the War Party, and it was he who singlehandedly blew the peace when, in the very year the 77-Years’ War ended with the demise of the Soviet Union, he plunged America into a petty argument between the impetuous dictator of Iraq and the gluttonous emir of Kuwait. But that was none of George Bush’s or America’s business. Furthermore, George H. W. Bush should never be forgiven for enabling the likes of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Gates and their neocon pack of jackals to come to power — even if he eventually denounced them in his doddering old age. Alas, upon his death, Bush the Elder was deified, not vilified, by the mainstream press and the bipartisan duopoly.

And that tells you all you need to know about why Washington is ensnared in its Forever Wars and is the very reason there is still no peace on earth. Even more to the point, by opting not for peace but for war and oil in the Persian Gulf in 1991, Washington opened the gates to an unnecessary confrontation with Islam and nurtured the rise of jihadist terrorism that would not haunt the world today save for forces unleashed by George H. W. Bush’s petulant quarrel with Saddam Hussein. We will momentarily get to the 52-year-old error that holds that the Persian Gulf is an American lake and that the answer to high oil prices and energy security is the Fifth Fleet.Suffice it to say here that the answer to high oil prices everywhere and always is high oil prices — a truth driven home in spades by the oil busts of 2009, 2015 and 2020, and the fact the real price of oil today (2022 $) is no higher than it was in the mid-1970s.

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PMSCs = private military and security companies. “The largest PMSC in the world, UK-based G4S, alone employs more than 500,000 people and is present in more than 90 countries.”

Private Armies Are Making A Killing (Fazi)

Crucially, the UN report acknowledges that the private security and military industry is a global and growing phenomenon. While today’s focus is on Wagner, the real mercenary boom occurred during the US-led military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. In both cases, the US relied heavily on PMSCs such as DynCorp and Blackwater (now known as Constellis). Indeed, at points, the number of contractors on the ground actually outnumbered American troops. By 2006, there were estimated to be at least 100,000 PMSC employees in Iraq working directly for the US Department of Defense.

And like Wagner today, these were involved in several human rights abuses in the country. Blackwater, for example, the most high-profile PMSC in Iraq, was involved in the massacre of 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007 (which led to the conviction of four Blackwater employees), while other PMSCs were involved in the Iraq Abu Ghraib prison scandal (though none faced prosecution) and were alleged to have participated in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” programme — the kidnapping and forced removal of individuals to places known to torture. Despite these obvious failures, by the summer of 2020, the US had more than 20,000 contractor personnel in Afghanistan — roughly twice the number of American troops. Before that, in 2017, Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, had proposed to fully privatise the war effort there.

What could possibly inspire such chutzpah? Well, although the Iraqi and Afghan conflicts are generally considered to have been a strategic blunder for the US, not to mention a humanitarian tragedy, they were a boon for the PMSC sector: up until 2016, the US State Department spent $196 billion on PMSC contracts for the Iraq war, and $108 billion for the Afghan war. And business hasn’t slowed: in 2022, the PMSC sector — whose largest businesses are now American or British — was valued at $260 billion and is projected to reach a value of around $450 billion by 2030. The largest PMSC in the world, UK-based G4S, alone employs more than 500,000 people and is present in more than 90 countries.

Should we be surprised? Ultimately, the growth of the PMSC sector is just another example of how economic transformations in recent decades have blurred the boundary between the public and private-corporate sphere to the point of making it indistinguishable. The result has been the rise of a state-corporate Leviathan which has gobbled up every sector of the economy — healthcare, banks, energy, tech — and has now taken over the field of warfare as well, at the expense of democratic control and oversight. This applies to Russia just as much as it applies to Western countries. If the conflict in Ukraine has taught us anything, it’s that war today is a bigger business than it’s ever been. No wonder peace — in Ukraine or elsewhere — seems constantly out of reach.

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“Sen. John Kennedy reacts to the news that DA Alvin Bragg is suing Rep. Jim Jordan: “I have read his indictment … it looked to me like, as a legal product, someone knocked over a urine sample.”

Manhattan Prosecutor Sues Trump’s Chief House Ally Jim Jordan (RT)

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, seeking to quash what it describes as a “transparent campaign to intimidate and attack” Bragg and derail his prosecution of former president Donald Trump. The suit seeks to block enforcement of Jordan’s subpoena for testimony from Mark Pomerantz, who previously worked as a senior prosecutor in Bragg’s office, and to stem the flow of demands for “confidential documents and testimony from the district attorney himself as well as his current and former employees and officials” emanating from the Republican’s office.

Describing Jordan’s requests as a “constitutionally destructive fishing expedition” that threatens “federalism and the sovereign interests of the State of New York,” Bragg complains that the Republican’s demands have “no legitimate legislative purpose” as Congress lacks jurisdiction over state and local cases. Even if the “unprecedentedly brazen and unconstitutional attack” did have a legitimate legislative purpose, the suit argues, the material Jordan is seeking is protected by attorney-client, work product and other privileges. Responding to Bragg’s lawsuit, Jordan tweeted, “First, they indict a president for no crime. Then, they sue to block congressional oversight when we ask questions about the federal funds they used to do it.” Bragg has denied Jordan’s claim that $5,000 in federal funds used to investigate Trump gives Congress legitimate grounds to request information – despite his office previously stating it would comply with requests for information about the use of those funds.

Trump was arraigned last week on 34 felony charges, becoming the first US president ever to face criminal prosecution. The case centers on his alleged payment of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels to remain silent about their purported affair ahead of the 2016 election. While falsifying business records is typically charged as a misdemeanor, Bragg had the charges bumped up to felonies, meaning that if Trump is found guilty, he could be prohibited from running in the 2024 election. The former president, who has seen his popularity soar since the indictment, has denounced the charges as politically-motivated persecution, denying having an affair with Daniels or knowingly paying her off and insisting “this fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election.”

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Charles Michel is a disease. Like Ursula and Borrell.

Europe Warming Up To Macron’s ‘Strategic Autonomy’ Push Away From US (Pol.eu)

European leaders are becoming increasingly favorable toward French President Emmanuel Macron’s push for “strategic autonomy” away from the United States, European Council boss Charles Michel said Tuesday. As controversy swells around Macron’s comments that Europe should resist pressure to become “America’s followers,” Michel suggested that the French politician’s position was not isolated among EU leaders. While Macron spoke as the French president, his views reflect a growing shift among EU leaders, Michel said. “There has been a leap forward on strategic autonomy compared to several years ago,” Michel told French television show La Faute à l’Europe (which has a partnership with POLITICO) in an interview set to air on Wednesday.

“On the issue of the relationship with the United States, it’s clear that there can be nuances and sensitivities around the table of the European Council. Some European leaders wouldn’t say things the same way that Emmanuel Macron did … I think quite a few really think like Emmanuel Macron.” Following a trip last week to China with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Macron told POLITICO and French newspaper Les Echos that Europe had to limit its dependency on the United States and avoid getting pulled into “crises that are not ours.” “There is indeed a great attachment that remains present — and Emmanuel Macron has said nothing else — for this alliance with the United States. But if this alliance with the United States would suppose that we blindly, systematically follow the position of the United States on all issues, no,” Michel said.

Michel also addressed recent controversies about his use of private jets to go to U.N. climate talks and growing budget for international trips. “The order of magnitude of the number of chartered air taxis is similar to those used by the Commission. I would note that people seemed to be moved about this for one case, but less so for the other,” he said. He also said there was “absolutely nothing lavish” about his transportation budget, which is meant to ensure the EU can participate on the international stage. “It is moreover the wish of the heads of state and governments to have the European Council engage more with the rest of the world,” he said. “When [Russian] Minister Sergey Lavrov goes to Africa to spread Russia’s falsehoods, it’s important to counter fire.”

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“..such a move would violate ownership rights and would be illegal from the point of view of the Swiss legal system.”

Switzerland Refuses To Freeze More Russian Assets (RT)

The Swiss government will not block more Russian assets – apart from the funds already frozen – due to a lack of evidence they fall under sanctions, Director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) Helene Budliger Artieda said in a Tuesday interview in the German newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Her comments came in response to earlier claims by US Ambassador to Switzerland Scott Miller, who criticized SECO last month for not doing enough to implement sanctions against Russia, saying that Bern could block a further 50 to 100 billion Swiss francs in Russian assets and use them to help restore Ukraine. “The figure of 50 to 100 billion francs was initially circulated as a possible estimate of Russian funds under [Swiss] management, but it was not an estimate produced by Switzerland. Not all Russians are subject to sanctions – only a small minority,” Budliger Artieda told the NZZ.

Bern has frozen 7.5 billion Swiss francs ($8.3 billion) worth of Russian assets since the EU imposed sanctions on Moscow in connection with its military operation in Ukraine. According to the SECO chief, the blocked funds equate to around “a good third” of the €21.5 billion ($23.4 billion) frozen across the European Union, but further asset freezing would require evidence that the funds were connected with sanctioned entities or individuals. “We keep telling the US and all partner countries, if you have any valuable leads, give them to us. We will follow these up. To this day we have not received any from the Americans,” she stated. When asked whether the frozen assets could be confiscated to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine, the official reiterated earlier statements by Swiss authorities that such a move would violate ownership rights and would be illegal from the point of view of the Swiss legal system.

“The confiscation of private assets is not permitted in Switzerland if they are of lawful origin and have no proven criminal background. Their confiscation would be contrary to the Federal Constitution and the applicable legal system and violate Switzerland’s international obligations,” she stated, adding that the Swiss government is also unlikely to pressure the country’s financial institutions to stop serving Russian clients. “We do not dictate to any bank or company who it has to maintain customer relationships with,” she said. While the notion of seizing frozen Russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine has been discussed by Western countries for some time, no actual steps have been taken so far, as many fear it could create a dangerous precedent in the global legal system. Russia has repeatedly warned against taking such actions, claiming they essentially constitute theft.

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“I don’t want to get our country in trouble so I won’t answer it.”

Trump Weighs In On Nord Stream Sabotage (RT)

Former US President Donald Trump has dismissed the claims that Russia was behind the destruction of the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year, but said that speculating on the true perpetrator might “get our country in trouble.” Speaking to Fox’s Tucker Carlson for an interview set to air in full later this week, Trump was asked for his thoughts about “who blew up the Nord Stream pipeline,” which was hit by multiple blasts under mysterious circumstances last September. “I don’t want to get our country in trouble so I won’t answer it. But I can tell you who it wasn’t, was Russia. How about when they blamed Russia. They said ‘Russia blew up their own pipeline.’ You got a kick out of that one, too. It wasn’t Russia,” he told the Fox News pundit.

While the US and other Western governments have so far offered few details about ongoing investigations into the sabotage, a February report by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh stated that US President Joe Biden had personally ordered the bombing as a way to persuade Germany to ramp up support for Ukraine amid its conflict with Russia. Washington has vocally denied the report, which relied on anonymous sources, and insisted it had no role in the bombings. “It’s a completely false story. There’s no truth to it. Not a shred of it,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told Fox in February. Ukrainian officials have similarly denied any involvement in the Nord Stream sabotage, and subsequent reporting by the New York Times has claimed that an unnamed “pro-Ukrainian group” was behind the attack.


It is unclear how the group could have accomplished the bombing from a small pleasure yacht as reported, however, as the operation would have required military-grade explosives and experienced divers, among other things. Hersh has rejected the Times’ account as part of a “cover-up” staged by US intelligence agencies, as the outlet has largely cited unnamed intelligence officials to support its story. Moscow has also voiced skepticism about the “pro-Ukrainian group,” with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov arguing the story was deliberately circulated by Western media outlets to distract from the revelations purportedly uncovered by Hersh.

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“..Putin is scheduled to visit South Africa in August for the 15th BRICS Summit..”

BRICS Nation South Africa To Clarify Russia Stance With Washington (RT)

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that he will dispatch an envoy to Washington to clarify Pretoria’s stance on Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. According to Obed Bapela, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, the move comes in response to criticism of South Africa’s “non-participant” and “non-aligned” position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the country’s longstanding relationship with Moscow. President Putin is scheduled to visit South Africa in August for the 15th BRICS Summit — and concerns have been expressed about whether Pretoria intends to act on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) arrest warrant issued against the Russian leader for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

The South African Communist Party, in an April statement, asserted that the timing of the arrest warrant, issued just before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia in March, indicated a political motivation and historical inconsistency. “Unfortunately, imperialist powers continue to manipulate this multilateral institution and use it for judicial imperialism,” the SACP wrote in a statement, according to local outlet News24. The party added that “despite many calls, and ample evidence, the ICC has consistently refused to charge the likes of Netanyahu, Bush, Clinton, Blair and Obama who have destroyed countries and killed thousands of people.”

In 2017, the ICC found South Africa in breach of its obligations by failing to arrest former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country in 2015 for an African leaders’ summit. As a signatory to the Rome Statute establishing the court, Pretoria has sought legal advice on how to deal with the ICC order against Putin. According to the presidency, the planned visit to Washington, which is not a member of the ICC, will allow South Africa to “engage and persuade” regarding its Russia position. Although the identity of the envoy heading the delegation has not been revealed, Bapela said that its members will be highly experienced and may include former ministers.

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How the CIA makes money that doesn’t need to be declared or justified.

The Taliban Did In One Year What Washington Couldn’t In 20 (Marsden)

It’s been nearly a year since the Taliban banned Afghan poppy farming used for the production of opioids. The impact of the move is set to hit global markets sometime soon, given the delay from farm to customer. You’d think that would bring a welcome sigh of relief. Apparently not. Reports are now suggesting that a lack of Afghan heroin on the global market and a reduction of available natural opioids like heroin could lead to increased use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. If that’s the case, then it’s only because Washington and the West are about as competent at curtailing skyrocketing drug overdose deaths as they were at tackling the cultivation of Afghan opioids back when they had control of the country. Synthetic opioids from China and Mexico are increasingly being used, as are those procured through prescriptions within America’s own healthcare system.

Over the course of the US-led Global War on Terror that kicked off in Afghanistan in 2001, heroin overdoses in the US and elsewhere spiked. Despite having control over the country and its government for two decades, Washington not only failed to curtail farming and exports of Afghan opium, but oversaw an increase. In February 2004, then US Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Robert Charles, outlined a new policy for countering “narcoterrorism” in Afghanistan before Congress. He cited a desire to assist the US-backed Afghan government with its objective “to eliminate opium poppy cultivation and trade in 10 years.” The project would involve deploying CIA-linked USAID to poppy-growing areas to help find alternative farming solutions.

But there have always been strong doubts over the sincerity of such efforts. A US Department of Justice policy paper from 1991 accused the CIA of “complicity in the narcotics trade” in Afghanistan, underscoring that “covert CIA operations in Afghanistan, for example, have transformed South Asia from a self-contained opium zone into a major supplier of heroin for the world market.” The CIA would certainly be in a position to know, having backed Mujahideen jihadist fighters against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the Cold War while the trafficking occurred right under its nose. Apparently old habits die hard.In 2010, Former Director of the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia, Viktor Ivanov, met with NATO officials to request a mandate for destroying the poppy fields, citing 30,000 opium-related deaths in Russia.

“We cannot be in a situation where we remove the only source of income of people who live in the second poorest country in the world without being able to provide them with an alternative,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai replied, according to Reuters.Clearly, they just weren’t that interested. It now seems that the US and NATO counter insurgency mission served in part as cover for safeguarding and protecting the opium fields from destruction – which the Taliban had already gone about doing before the 2001 US invasion. Propping up Western proxies doesn’t come cheap, and some things simply aren’t fit for the accounting books back home. It’s no secret that the CIA has a history of using narcotic trafficking to support US interests abroad while simultaneously accusing the local opposition of doing just that – from Nicaragua and Haiti to Southeast Asia, Indochina, and even France.

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“..it has a list of around 1,300 Twitter posts which are in breach of Russian law..”

Kremlin Pours Cold Water On Unblocking Twitter (RT)

Any proposal to lift Russia’s ban on Twitter is a matter for the national media regulator, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. A senior member of the State Duma’s Committee on Information Policy recently proposed lifting restrictions on the platform. MP Anton Gorelkin suggested that the Twitter ban, which was imposed more than a year ago, could be lifted after a recent policy shift by the social media giant. Twitter has stopped hiding posts by official Russian accounts in its search results, and has added labels to Western state-affiliated news outlets, Gorelkin noted. Even so, Peskov expressed skepticism about removing the restrictions on Twitter in Russia when commenting on Tuesday.

“The relevant agency, Roskomnadzor, is the competent party on the matter. It will decide whether its conditions have been met. So far, there is plenty of material which does not comply with the requirements,” said the Kremlin spokesman. Roskomnadzor expressed similar sentiment on Monday, stating that it has a list of around 1,300 Twitter posts which are in breach of Russian law. The regulator banned Twitter in early March 2022 at the request of the prosecutor general’s office. It accused the platform of discrimination against Russian news outlets and a failure to police disinformation about Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

Previously, Roskomnadzor said Twitter had failed to delete content prohibited in Russia, such as child pornography, advice on the consumption of narcotics, and calls for illegal acts. On Sunday, Twitter CEO Elon Musk was accused of “not abiding by sanctions” over his refusal to crack down on the account of former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Musk argued in response that “all news is to some degree propaganda,” and claimed that had been told that Russian President Vladimir Putin “called me a war criminal for helping Ukraine, so he’s not exactly my best friend.” Peskov was asked to comment on that particular accusation, responding that the billionaire must have been “misinformed” and that the Russian leader had never made remarks of that nature.

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Julian had been in Belmarsh for 4 years on April 11. Where were you guys all that time?

Australian, UK Politicians Call on US to Drop Julian Assange Extradition (ET)

Politicians from Australia and the UK, from all political leanings, have asked U.S. Attorney-General Merrick Garland to end all extradition attempts for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In an open letter, 48 Australian parliamentarians from the government, opposition, and crossbench said extradition would set a “dangerous precedent” for freedom of the press and be “needlessly damaging” for the United States as a world leader in freedom of expression. “If the extradition request is approved, Australians will witness the deportation of one of our citizens from one AUKUS partner to another—our closest strategic ally—with Mr Assange facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison,” the letter reads.

The MPs and senators noted that Assange has been “effectively incarcerated” for over a decade, while the person who leaked the classified information, Chelsea Manning, has “been able to participate in American society since 2017.” “A clear majority of Australians consider that this matter has gone on for far too long and must be brought to a close,” the letter says. “We implore you to drop the extradition proceedings and allow Mr Assange to return home.” Assange’s father, John Shipton, previously said that his son’s incarceration was “excoriating and scarring” for him and his family. “After 14 years, you no longer use the term hope,” he said in March. But he was heartened at the growing support for his release from across the political spectrum.

“The incoming tide is now turning into a tsunami of support,” he said. “You don’t need to be a weatherman to see which way the wind’s blowing.” Similarly, 35 UK MPs and Lords from six parties have written to Garland requesting that the attorney general uphold the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and drop the extradition proceedings to allow Assange to return to Australia. “This April 11 marks the fourth anniversary of Mr Assange, an award-winning journalist and publisher, being detained in His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London, where he awaits a decision on extradition to the United States of America,” the letter says.

[..] Greg Barns, the spokesperson for the Australian Assange Campaign, told the AAP that legislators from around the world were eager for the case’s conclusion. It was especially critical for Washington to understand the level of support for Assange among Australian MPs for the extradition proceedings to an end. “There has been bipartisan support for a long period of time, but what this letter says in print is the extent of that diversity,” Barns said. “That is a reflection of the Australian community [because] a lot of people think no matter what Assange has done, enough is enough.” He noted that he was unaware of anyone else subject to “inhumane” conditions while yet to be formally charged with a criminal offence.

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The Squad for Assange.

Democrats Urge Biden To Drop Julian Assange Charges (RT)

Several Democrats in the House have penned a letter calling for the immediate release of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, urging the Department of Justice to drop its charges against the publisher and halt extradition proceedings aiming to bring him to the United States to face prosecution under the World War I-era Espionage Act. The group of progressive lawmakers, frequently dubbed ‘the Squad,’ addressed their letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday to mark the fourth anniversary since Assange’s 2019 arrest, saying the charges against him represent a serious threat to the free press. “We write you today to call on you to uphold the First Amendment’s protections for the freedom of the press by dropping the criminal charges against Australian publisher Julian Assange and withdrawing the American extradition request currently pending with the British government,” the lawmakers said.

They went on to cite warnings from a long line of human rights, civil liberties and press freedoms groups – among them the ACLU, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Defending Rights and Dissent and Human Rights Watch – which have argued Assange’s case poses “a grave and unprecedented threat to everyday, constitutionally protected journalistic activity.” Assange was arrested by British authorities in 2019 after losing political asylum status at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was holed up for more than seven years for fear of prosecution by the United States due to WikiLeaks’ publication of large amounts of classified material. Under President Donald Trump, the US Department of Justice unsealed a multi-count indictment against Assange on April 11, 2019 – the same day of his arrest – slapping him with 17 charges under the Espionage Act, which can potentially carry the death penalty.

He has been held at the UK’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison in the years since, as Washington presses an extradition request to bring Assange to the US to face his charges. The publisher’s legal team has appealed a prior ruling in favor of extradition on the grounds of Assange’s declining health, a process which continues to play out in the British courts. The Democratic lawmakers argued that Assange’s prosecution would “greatly [diminish] America’s credibility” as a defender of human rights around the globe and set a dangerous legal precedent “whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted.”“In the future the New York Times or Washington Post could be prosecuted when they publish important stories based on classified information. Or, just as dangerous for democracy, they may refrain from publishing such stories for fear of prosecution,” they continued. Assange’s charges stem from the 2010 publication of a massive trove of classified documents obtained by US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, including material suggesting US forces committed war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere. Manning was charged and sentenced to 35 years in prison, but was later released after President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence.

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With 891,163 km2 of wetlands, Canada has about 25% of the world’s freshwater – the largest wetland area in the world. Plus it is surrounded by 3 oceans, and has over 2 million lakes

 

 

GOAL!
https://twitter.com/i/status/1645793930456473604

 

 


Pareidolia makes us see shapes even in the weirdest place, even faces in unusual shark photos

 

 

Caterpillar
https://twitter.com/i/status/1645771534630363136

 

 


Mount Etna erupting at night creating the spectacular illusion of a Phoenix rising over the Sicilian port city of Catania in 2019.

 

 

 

 

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