Jan 212024

Rembrandt van Rijn The Three Crosses 1653


Commissioner Requests Fani Willis Produce Info On ‘Misuse’ Of County Funds (DC)
Fani Willis Handed Lucrative Contracts To Her Alleged Lover’s Law Partner (DC)
Trump Believes Supreme Court Will ‘Intervene’ Soon (ET)
What Are “They” Afraid That a “Dictator”/President Trump Might Do? (VDH)
The Dangerous Myth of the “Indispensable Nation” (Goodman)
Gaza, Yemen & Ukraine Sound Death Knell for ‘Rules-Based World Order’ (SCF)
Starving Gaza: Egypt and Israel’s Rafah Weapon (Cradle)
Letting Ukraine into NATO Is ‘Basis For World War Three’ – Fico (RT)
This Is Not Another ‘Phoney War’ (Patrick Lawrence)
Top Biden Aides: Ukraine Will Lose in Weeks or Months Without Aid (Sp.)
Ukraine Openly Asks West To Use Its Army As A Proxy (RT)
The Many Faces Of Kevin Morris, Hunter Biden’s Financial Patron (Turley)
A New Party Is Reshaping The German Political Landscape (Amar)
The Last Cut For Alexei Kudrin Is The Deepest (Helmer)





Trump Mona Lisa



Jack Posobiec:

Trump just got the entire media to finally admit Nancy Pelosi was in charge of security on Jan 6



Rogan food








Fani Willis is the gift that keeps on giving. Trump should want her to stay on.

““There was an ask of her about how much money was being spent on the Trump proceedings,” he told the DCNF. “Essentially the answer was you know, well…’Lady Justice isn’t on a budget.’”

Commissioner Requests Fani Willis Produce Info On ‘Misuse’ Of County Funds (DC)

Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis requested Friday that District Attorney Fani Willis disclose information relating to her potential “misuse” of county funds in her decision to appoint her alleged lover, Nathan Wade, as outside counsel in the case against former President Donald Trump. Bank statements contained in a court filing Friday revealed that Wade purchased two airline tickets in Willis’ name, backing up allegations made in a motion by a Trump co-defendant that she benefited from the “lucrative” contract she awarded Wade when he took her on trips to these locations. Ellis told the Daily Caller News Foundation that “all Fulton county citizens and taxpayers deserve clear and truthful answers” from Willis, who he earlier noted has been “relatively obstinate” in answering questions from commissioners.

He added that it will “ultimately be decided in a court proceeding” whether the information known to date will disqualify Willis from leading Trump’s prosecution, noting that “the average person likely concludes that something isn’t right with all of this.” Willis was accused of enjoying cruises and vacations that Wade had paid for using county funds garnered from his work as a special prosecutor on Willis’ case against Trump. Wade has earned over $650,000 in legal fees from the county since the start of 2022. In the letter obtained by the DCNF, Ellis requested Willis provide by Feb. 2 invoices for special prosecutors’ expenses and fees, their contracts with the office, payments from the office, the “professional experience” of each special prosecutor utilized by the office, as well as the “source of funding for any payments to special prosecutors” from Jan. 1, 2021 until now. The letter also requests Willis provide information relating to “laws, rules, or regulations” that apply to a district attorney’s selection of a special prosecutor.

“Separate from any potential inquiry by the State of Georgia, this situation requires confirmation of whether County funds provided for the operation of your office and its prosecutorial function were used in an appropriate manner, and whether any payments of County funds to Mr. Wade were converted to your personal gain in the form of subsidized travel or other gifts,” the letter to Willis states. Ellis earlier confirmed to the DCNF that Willis did not ask the Fulton County Board of Commissioners’ permission before hiring Wade, though he noted it “may be a matter of legal interpretation” whether the board’s approval was required. “There was an ask of her about how much money was being spent on the Trump proceedings,” he told the DCNF. “Essentially the answer was you know, well…’Lady Justice isn’t on a budget.’” Commissioner Bridget Thorne confirmed to the DCNF that “approval for outside counsel never came through us.” “Our County attorney tells us that she doesn’t believe Fani Willis needed our approval,” she said.

Georgia law, GA Code § 15-18-20, states that the district attorney in each circuit may employ outside counsel “as may be authorized by the governing authority of the county or counties comprising the judicial circuit.” “There is no requirement that the District Attorney get permission from Fulton County to hire a special prosecutor,” a spokesperson for the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia told the DCNF, citing their Executive Director Pete Skandalakis. “Fulton County’s Code of Ordinances does not apply to the DA. The DA is a constitutional state officer.” Ellis also requested Willis provide information about the method her office used in determining the hourly rate each special prosecutor earns, as well as the basis for any differentiation of rates in their contracts. Wade has been paid at a rate of $250 an hour, while the attorney known as Georgia’s top racketeering expert, John Floyd, was initially paid only $150 and was later paid $200 an hour, according to contracts and billing statements obtained by the DCNF.

Willis had falsely claimed Sunday that she paid all three special counsels on the case the same hourly rate. “I’m a little confused. I appointed three special counsels, as is my right to do, paid them all the same hourly rate. They only attack one,” Willis during remarks Sunday, making an indirect reference to Wade. The state’s response to Trump co-defendant Michael Roman’s motion to disqualify Fani Willis is also due by Feb. 2, before the hearing Judge Scott McAffee scheduled to consider the issue on Feb. 15. A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp told the DCNF that “the Georgia General Assembly laid out a specific oversight process for district attorneys that is transparent and unbiased, which the governor supported and signed into law.” “The governor has repeatedly stated that these allegations are deeply troubling, that evidence should be presented in order for the judge in this case to rule quickly, and that complaints regarding any district attorney’s conduct can be referred to the oversight commission once the legislative process concludes this session and the commission begins full operations,” the spokesperson said.

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“It’s not just the issue about Wade being her paramour and the issue of kickbacks, but she also got the funds by misleading the Fulton County Commissioners about what the funds were going to be used for..”

Fani Willis Handed Lucrative Contracts To Her Alleged Lover’s Law Partner (DC)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ hired her alleged lover’s law partner to work for her office at a rate of $150 an hour, according to documents obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation — an arrangement that is raising eyebrows among legal experts who question her spending of public funds. Christopher Campbell, a partner at Wade & Campbell Firm, has received $126,070 from the Office of the District Attorney since 2021, according to county records. Willis hired Campbell to provide services as a “Taint Attorney” reviewing privileged evidence beginning in Jan. 2021 at a rate of $150 an hour, contracts obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation show. “Taint attorneys” help sift through files obtained from a search warrant to filter out evidence covered by things like attorney-client privilege and prevent them from being passed to prosecutors.

Willis appointed Campbell’s partner, Nathan Wade, in November 2021 to serve as special prosecutor in the case against former President Donald Trump despite him allegedly being her boyfriend. A co-defendant of former President Donald Trump accused Willis in a motion last week of awarding Wade, her alleged lover, a “lucrative” contract, claiming she benefited from it because he took her on trips and cruises using the money he earned from the position. The motion further alleged Willis never secured approval from the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to appoint Wade and paid him using funds she requested to clear a backlog of cases from the COVID-19 pandemic. The circumstances surrounding the contracts raise concerns about Willis’ allocation of funds, legal experts told the DCNF.

John Malcolm, vice president for the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Constitutional Government and former deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Criminal Division, told the DCNF that payments to Campbell could pose additional problems for Willis if his work as a taint attorney was for the Trump case. “It’s not just the issue about Wade being her paramour and the issue of kickbacks, but she also got the funds by misleading the Fulton County Commissioners about what the funds were going to be used for,” he said. “In addition to that, it would enrich [Wade’s] firm.” Willis hired three outside attorneys to work on the Trump case — Wade, John Floyd and Anna Cross. Willis claimed that she paid all three special counsels on the Trump case the same hourly rate, though billing statements obtained by the DCNF revealed she was paying Floyd a lower hourly rate than Wade, her alleged lover.

Campbell’s contract, which spans from Jan. 25, 2021 to Jan. 25, 2022, places him at the same hourly pay rate Willis initially awarded Floyd, who’s known as Georgia’s top racketeering expert, in his contract beginning in April 2021. Other billing statements and contracts show Floyd was later paid $200 an hour. Willis also contracted with Anna Cross, a prosecutor with 20 years of experience who has represented Georgia in multiple high-profile homicide cases, to work at a rate of $250 an hour, according to contracts obtained by the DCNF. Wade’s contracts starting on Nov. 1, 2021 and billing statements reveal he received $250 an hour for his work as special prosecutor, $100 more than his partner, Campbell. Wade has received nearly $654,000 from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office since the start of 2022, according to county records.

Wade and Campbell’s former law partner, Terrence Bradley, has also been paid $74,480 by the District Attorney’s office since 2021, according to county records. Under a separate contract spanning from March 1, 2021 to April 30, 2021, Campbell was also hired to provide services as a “First Appearance Attorney” at a rate of $65 an hour, according to the document. The job is to represent the District Attorney’s Office at a defendant’s First Appearance hearing, which is held before a judge within 72 hours of arrest to consider the issue of bond and notify the defendant of charges. “This is a mystery in and of itself,” Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney and legal analyst Philip Holloway told the DCNF. “I have no clue why any DA’s office needs to pay a private lawyer to handle ‘first appearance’ calendars. Any Assistant DA could easily do that. They are already on the payroll and it is the most simple of all tasks.”

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Gavin Newsom: “we defeat candidates at the polls.” He added, “Everything else is a political distraction.”

Trump Believes Supreme Court Will ‘Intervene’ Soon (ET)

Former President Donald Trump said he believes the U.S. Supreme Court will “intervene” in multiple cases to prevent him from appearing on state ballots, forecasting that the three justices he nominated to the high court will rule in his favor. Speaking to Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday evening, the former president said that the justices are “not going to take the vote away from the people” because of “three great justices” and “other great justices up there.” During his term in office, President Trump nominated Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. “I’m sure the Supreme Court is going to say, ‘We’re not going to take the vote away from the people,’” he continued to say, saying that Democrats are the real “threat to democracy” in the United States.

Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a 4–3 decision to prevent the former president from appearing on state ballots, citing their interpretation of the “insurrection” clause of the Constitution’s 14th amendment. They claimed that they believed President Trump engaged in an insurrection against the U.S. government despite him having not been convicted or charged with the crime in any court. Days later, Maine’s Democratic secretary of state, Shenna Bellows, issued a unilateral decision to bar the former president from that state’s ballots under similar pretexts. Unlike Colorado, which is expected to lean heavily Democratic in the 2024 election, Maine could be considered a battleground state, and President Trump won one of the state’s four electors during the 2020 contest.

Meanwhile, according to the former president, the Supreme Court justices should factor in his strong poll numbers and recent win in the Iowa caucuses. National polling averages show that he has a 50-point advantage over the second-place and third-place GOP presidential candidates—former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “But I don’t think the Supreme Court would [agree with decisions to keep him from ballots] because you can’t take the vote,“ the former commander-in-chief added to Mr. Hannity. ”You know, I’m leading in every poll … I’m leading the remaining Republicans … they’re barely hanging on. How can you possibly take the vote away?” In a Truth Social post earlier on Thursday, President Trump said he hoped that it would be “an easy decision” for the Supreme Court. “God bless the Supreme Court,” he added.

The former president several weeks ago appealed the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court before the high court accepted it. Arguments in the case are scheduled for next month. This week, more than 170 congressional Republicans—including some of its leadership—filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, arguing to keep President Trump on the 2024 ballots. “Disqualification under Section 3 is an extraordinarily harsh result, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s own text confirms that Congress, representing the Nation’s various interests and constituencies, is the best judge of when to authorize Section 3’s affirmative enforcement,” the lawmakers wrote in their brief. The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision, they added, “will only supercharge state officials to conjure bases for labeling political opponents as having engaged in insurrection.“

What’s more, the nine justices should overturn that ruling to reduce the ”partisan incentive“ to remove political opponents from ballots under the 14th Amendment’s Section 3, or ”insurrectionist ban,” according to the lawmakers. Also this week, a Maine Superior Court judge concluded she lacked authority to stay the judicial proceedings but she wrote that she did have authority to send the case back to the secretary of state with instructions to await the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court case before withdrawing, modifying or upholding her original decision. In the decision, the judge said that the issues raised in the Maine case mirror the issues raised in the Colorado case before the U.S. Supreme Court. She wrote that her decision “minimizes any potentially destabilizing effect of inconsistent decisions and will promote greater predictability in the weeks ahead of the primary election.”

Days before that, in Oregon, the state Supreme Court issued a statement saying that it would not rule on a ballot-related challenge against President Trump “for now” until the U.S. high court renders its decision. A number of other federal and state judges in different jurisdictions have also rejected similar ballot-related lawsuits seeking to bar the former president from appearing on the ballots. The nation’s highest court has never ruled on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. Some left-wing legal scholars and activists say the post-Civil War clause applies to President Trump, while some have noted that he was never charged with those crimes. In California, Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement last month rejecting a push to bar the former president from his state’s ballots in 2024, writing that in the Golden State, “we defeat candidates at the polls.” He added, “Everything else is a political distraction.”

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Pretty brilliant Victor Davis Hanson X thread.

What Are “They” Afraid That a “Dictator”/President Trump Might Do? (VDH)

As Joe Biden’s political viability implodes, the exasperated Left has yet a new narrative: front-runner Trump and his extremist/semi-fascist/Ultra MAGA 160 million are out for “revenge” and “retribution—and that Trump might well become a “dictator” and “trample” the Constitution. Ok, let’s examine what a supposed dictator Trump might do if he were to be elected this November?

1) Will he hide the fact that in 2024 he attempted to hire a foreign ex-spy to work with Russian sources to create a fake anti-Biden dossier (while sneakily hiding his payments behind three paywalls), seed it with the media, and hatch lies that Biden was a “Putin poodle” and “Russian asset”?

2) Would a Trump president weaponize a vengeful FBI to begin contracting with X and Facebook to suppress stories he feels will hurt MAGA candidates? Would his FBI alter FISA warrants to go after his leftwing opponents? Would he and his FBI henchmen have leftwing newspapers blacklisted from X?

3) Would Trump’s future Secretary of State round up 51 right-wing ex-CIA “authorities” to swear and lie on the eve of the balloting that the Russians created the Stormy Daniels nondisclosure agreement?

4) Maybe Trump will get his DOJ to go easy on any future accusations of tax fraud on behalf of his sons by weaponizing the IRS.

5) Maybe Trump will dictatorially cancel student loan debt on the eve of the 2026 midterms. Or would he dare by fiat drain the strategic petroleum reserve merely for Republican advantage in the midterms?

6) Maybe a dictator Trump might appoint a special counsel to investigate the entire Biden family. Would his legal counsel consult with local and state Republican prosecutors to coordinate 90 or so more indictments against ex-president Joe Biden? Will he order the FBI to sweep down on one of the Biden residences to hunt for more missing classified files that Biden removed as a senator and vice president?

7) Will he postfacto declare the 2020 riots to be an armed “insurrection” and retroactively start trying, convicting, and jailing the some 14,000 who were arrested and released—on charges of rioting, looting, arson, murder, and assault, in addition to “illegal parading” and conspiracy to burn a federal courthouse, a city police precinct, a historic church? Would dictator Trump keep in preventative detention indefinitely those arrested in 2020 for rioting and violent protest?

8) Maybe dictator Trump will refuse to discuss all medical questions concerning his 78-year age.

9) Will Trump minions in the media and military start talking about rooting out “leftwing rage”, or Antifa and BLM “domestic terrorists” from the military ranks? Would Trump order the Pentagon to discharge any soldier who refused to get one of his Operation Warp Speed COVID mRNA boosters?

10) Will dictator Trump protect some 500 “sanctuary cities” from ignoring federal laws—as they nullify the endangered species list or federal gun registrations statutes?

11) Would dictator Trump’s America destroy the southern border deliberately and invite in 10 million illegal aliens from countries he thought would ensure new conservative voters?

12 ) Would dictator Trump’s America start seeing red-states removing the names of Democratic candidates from the ballot?

13) Would dictator Trump start jailing ex-Biden officials who refused Republican congressional subpoenas?

14) Would dictator Trump’s America turn over $50 billion in weapons and supplies to terrorists like the Taliban?

15) Would dictator Trump’s America see an epidemic of big-city lawlessness, as conservative prosecutors deliberately let out felons convicted of smash and grab and car-jacking, and exempted theft and shoplifting from punishment?

16) Would dictator Trump start shaking down foreign governments to send $30 million into the Trump family coffers?

17) Would dictator Trump camp out at Mar-a-Lago for 3-4 days a week, and turn the presidency into a pastime job?

So what exactly would a “dictator” Trump do that our “civil libertarian” Joe Biden already has not done?

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“.. the “influence of our example” would “overthrow them all without a single exception.”

The Dangerous Myth of the “Indispensable Nation” (Goodman)

“But if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us. Our nation’s memory is long and our reach is far.” – Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 1998.

“We are the indispensable nation. American leadership is what holds the world together.” – President Joe Biden, 2023.

“The United States is still…the ‘indispensable nation’ in the Middle East.” –David Ignatius, Washington Post columnist, 2024.

There is no better declarative indicator of American arrogance and hubris than the self-appointed title of “indispensable nation.” Liberal pundits and critics believe that the notion of the indispensable nation had its origins in the post-Cold War era following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In actual fact, the ideological origins of the indispensable nation were “present at the creation,” if I can borrow the title of Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s trenchant memoir. The idea of the unique international standing of the United States was part of the Founding Fathers’ debate over our global role in 1789. Liberal pundits and critics argue that U.S. “internationalism” was unique to twentieth-century diplomacy, but our notions of free commerce and liberal democracy were there at the outset. They cite former presidents Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman in their discussion of “internationalism.” But John Quincy Adams, arguing that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” envisioned the United States as a threat to Europe’s autocratic regimes. Adams added that the “influence of our example” would “overthrow them all without a single exception.”

The success of the Revolutionary War created a sense of American nationalism and internationalism that was manifested in our nineteenth-century wars against Britain (1812), Mexico (1846), and Spain (1898). The Constitution has little to say about war, peace, and diplomacy: Article I grants Congress the power to declare war; Article II grants the president the power to serve as commander-in-chief. But the Founding Fathers accepted George Washington’s dictum that “if you wish for peace, prepare for war.” As early as 1783, Alexander Hamilton called for the drafting of our first national security strategy. Ignatius’s notion that the United States is the “indispensable nation” in the Middle East is particularly naive. In reality, the Middle East is our briar patch. We have no influence over Israel, the region’s superpower; we have been unable—perhaps unwilling—to reduce the misery suffered by innocent Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank; and we have been unable to deter regional actors from using force despite our military presence.

The United States and Israel are totally at odds on the post-war scenario; the idea of a two-state solution; the role of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza; and the role of the Arab states in the rebuilding of Gaza. President Biden’s address on the 100th day of the Gaza war made no mention whatsoever of the more than 24,000 Palestinians who have been killed in the war, mostly women and children. Biden’s decision to expand the war into the Red Sea last week was predictable in view of the naval deployments in the region, but it is unlikely to have any favorable impact on the actions and policies of Yemen and the Houthis. The U.S. and British attacks could lead to a wider war, however, that involves Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border. On January 16, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched missiles at an Israeli intelligence facility in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, not far from the U.S. consulate.

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“..There is, too, an unmistakable sense that Western leaders have become aware of their charade having been rumbled and of their imminent downfall..”

Gaza, Yemen & Ukraine Sound Death Knell for ‘Rules-Based World Order’ (SCF)

Whatever moral authority or superiority Western states may have presumed to have had in the past, all that is now shredded – irreparably. The hypocrisy and duplicity of the United States and its Western allies have been perceived for many years, indeed centuries. There is nothing new in that. But what is new now is how glaringly obvious to the world the fraudulent pretense has become. Global consciousness is, in turn, leading to global contempt. There is, too, an unmistakable sense that Western leaders have become aware of their charade having been rumbled and of their imminent downfall. This week saw British government ministers issuing desperate scaremongering warnings about global threats as a way to rally public support for their vanishing authority. In doing so, they just sound laughable.

Elsewhere this week, France’s President Emmanuel Macron delivered a bizarre nationwide address pleading for national unity amid global chaos. Macron sounded pathetic as if begging to be given respect. The irony is that the threats and chaos that these political charlatans adduce are largely the result of Western lawlessness, as evidenced by their de facto support for the genocide in Gaza and the relentless funding of a Neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine to provoke Russia. For decades, the Western powers have gotten away with mass murder, illegal wars, and global vandalism. The difference now is that a convergence of crises has exposed their malevolence and machinations. The slaughter in Gaza has exceeded 100 days and the death toll is approaching 30,000. It is the most transparent genocide in history, as Richard Falk deplores. And, what is more, the United States and its European allies are fully complicit in the shocking crimes committed by the Israeli regime.

Hospitals are shelled by the Israelis, medics and journalists are murdered, as are hungry people running to occasional food aid trucks. Unicef calls it a “war on children”. Up to 800,000 people in Gaza are reportedly facing starvation, and yet the arrogant Western powers do nothing to stop this annihilation nor even condemn it. The complacency and smugness of Western political leaders like U.S. President Joe Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken are nauseating. The United States as well as the European Union are enabling and arming the Israeli regime with no restraint. Indeed, when South Africa presented its charges of genocide against Israel at the United Nations International Court of Justice at the Hague last week, it was apparent to the world that the U.S., Britain, and other European powers were de facto in the dock as well over their complicity.

Washington, London, and Brussels have pointedly refused to demand a ceasefire in Gaza under the guise of cynical excuses that recycle odious Israeli propaganda lies, such as the Palestinian militant group Hamas allegedly using human shields or hospitals as bases. Yet these Western powers turn around and suddenly bomb Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab region because it has taken the principled action of blocking Red Sea shipping as a leverage point to force a ceasefire in Gaza. The Yemenis are invoking their right under the 1948 Genocide Convention to act in solidarity to prevent the genocide of Palestinian people. Thus the Western powers are not only arming, enabling, and justifying the Israeli crimes in Gaza. When another party, Yemen, takes action to help the Palestinians, the Western powers double down on their criminality by assaulting Yemen.

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“..Tel Aviv has instituted a draconian siege on Palestinians in the Strip, cutting off access to water, electricity, and communications – and the essential crossings – for over 100 days now..”

Starving Gaza: Egypt and Israel’s Rafah Weapon (Cradle)

On a rainy morning, a group of Palestinian children gathered in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The gathering was not spontaneous, as children quickly began holding signs reading “Open the crossing.” Their plea was directed towards international organizations across the border in Egypt, conveyed through the signs as aid trucks stacked up, awaiting Egyptian permission to cross. As the kids roamed around the border fence, lunch was provided to EU observers and civil society staff, who gave up their meals to the children of Rafah. Now here’s the rub. Those placards were not addressed to Egypt. The crossing was not Rafah, but Gaza’s north-eastern Karni border point with Israel. And the incident took place in 2006, not in 2024. In 2006, Israel’s punishment to Palestinians for voting in Hamas during free and fair elections was starvation. This is Tel Aviv’s silent war, a siege that slowly claims its victims, depriving Gaza’s 2.3 million civilians of nourishment and medical relief.

Since the Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the Strip found itself under a tight blockade, transforming it into a massive open-air prison surrounded by wires and checkpoints. Eight crossings were controlled – six of these by Israel – connecting Gaza to the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948. Four of these crossings remained completely closed, and two were opened intermittently: “Beit Hanoun” and “Kerem Shalom.” Since Israel’s military withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Tel Aviv has had a singular goal: to establish total hegemony over Gaza by land, air, and sea. To achieve its aims, three agreements were signed to regulate movement at the crossings: the Crossings Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (2005), the Palestinian-European-Israeli border control agreement, and the Philadelphi Protocol between Egypt and Israel. The latter deal established a 14 km buffer strip along the Egypt-Gaza border and required Israeli–Egyptian security coordination, the presence of Egyptian border guards along the Philadelphi corridor, and security patrols from both sides.

The Rafah crossing was restricted to Palestinian ID card holders, with exceptions requiring prior notice to the Israeli government and approval from the highest PA authorities. The General Authority for Crossings in Gaza, under the PA, handled approvals and objections, with strict timelines set by the crossings agreement. However, tensions rose when Hamas took control of the crossing in 2007, leading to shifts in operations and closures based on the evolving relations between Egypt and Hamas. The dynamic changed in 2017 when rivals Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement, aiming to end the persistent internal division. However Israel’s complete blockade on the Gaza Strip after the 7 October Hamas-led resistance operation elevated the significance of the Strip’s border crossings with Egypt.

Just a year earlier, the Rafah crossing had been open for 245 days and facilitated the passage of over 140,000 people and numerous essential goods such as diesel, cooking gas, and construction materials. Alongside its brutal, unprecedented, military assault on Gaza, Tel Aviv has instituted a draconian siege on Palestinians in the Strip, cutting off access to water, electricity, and communications – and the essential crossings – for over 100 days now. The Rafah crossing has become the sole lifeline for civilians seeking refuge from shelling, or receiving medical treatment or even a meal. While International organizations have flocked to provide aid through the crossing, mass displacement caused by indiscriminate Israeli bombardment – and Egyptian opposition to a resettlement plan in Sinai – have worsened the situation, leading to the emergence of a class of beneficiaries.

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“..a situation where “a country that absolutely does not meet any requirements” joins the EU is unacceptable..”

Letting Ukraine into NATO Is ‘Basis For World War Three’ – Fico (RT)

Bratislava will block Kiev’s bid to join the US-led NATO alliance and will stand by a decision to stop supplying weaponry to Ukraine amid its conflict with Russia, Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico has said. The PM made the remarks on Saturday ahead of his visit to Ukraine to meet his counterpart Denis Shmygal in the western Ukrainian city of Uzhgorod. Fico stressed that his visit serves solely “humanitarian” purposes and promised to openly communicate Bratislava’s stance to Kiev on different issues, including Ukraine’s potential accession to EU or NATO membership. “I will tell him that there are things on which we have completely different opinions,” Fico told broadcaster RTVS. “I will tell him that we respect them when it comes to joining the EU, but they must fulfill the conditions,” he added, explaining that a situation where “a country that absolutely does not meet any requirements” joins the EU is unacceptable.

He ruled out any possibility of Ukraine joining NATO, insisting such a move would only result in a global catastrophe, apparently caused by a direct collision between NATO and Russia over the issue. I will tell him that I will veto and block [a NATO bid by Ukraine] because that is exactly the basis of the third world war and nothing else.Fico also promised to reiterate to Shmygal his election campaign pledge to stop providing Kiev with weaponry, stating that the decision remains in force. Still, the weapons restriction applies only to state-sponsored military aid to Ukraine and supplies coming from Slovak military stocks, whereas arms manufacturers are free to sell to the country whatever they like, he noted.

“When Slovak companies don’t make money, American ones will,” Fico noted. Prior to Fico assuming office following his party’s electoral victory in September, Slovakia had been among Kiev’s top supporters, lavishly supplying it with sophisticated weaponry, including warplanes and anti-aircraft systems. The policy of the previous government has also left the country’s own defense posture badly damaged, new Defense Minister Robert Kalinak claimed earlier this week. “The former government left us without our own anti-aircraft defenses, without combat aviation, and we don’t even have the promised 700 million for MiGs, which the government also handed over to Ukraine,” Kalinak told the Standard newspaper.

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“..there is no longer a question of whether there will be a regional conflict. It has already begun..”

This Is Not Another ‘Phoney War’ (Patrick Lawrence)

Amid the tit-for-tats along Israel’s border with Lebanon over the past few weeks, the Houthis’ shelling of Red Sea traffic and repeated assertions that the U.S. does not want to widen the Gaza crisis into a regional war, I started thinking of that twilit interim in 1939–1940 known in history as “the phony war.” Has the world entered another such passage—another war we do not want to think is a war but is a war we do not want to see? That question seems far away now, an intellectual flinch. America, mindlessly loyal to the frothing dog known as Israel, has wandered into another war the way our president wanders away from podiums and off television news programs while the cameras are still rolling. This is a 21st century war, replete with attacks, denials, proxies and indirection, and with no formal declaration. But we may as well declare it ourselves so we understand our moment properly. America is once more at war.

The U.S. had for weeks refrained from responding to the Houthis, who, in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza, have since November staged dozens of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships sailing through the Red Sea. These now include U.S. and British vessels and a U.S. warship. The Biden regime’s stated concern was that it did not want to risk sparking a conflict that would spread through the region and, in particular, provoke the Islamic Republic. The Pentagon, in the role of lumbering giant, also acknowledged that there was little U.S. forces could do to stop the Houthis’ operations. The weeks of restraint, so uncharacteristic of the Biden White House, ended last Thursday, when the U.S. and a handful of its clients hit more than two dozen Houthi targets—military bases, airports, weapons dumps—in Yemen. Air and naval units struck the Houthis again last Friday, and the world suddenly sat up straight. Here is part of a news analysis The New York Times published Friday evening:

“With the American-led strike on nearly 30 sites in Yemen on Thursday and a smaller strike the next day, there is no longer a question of whether there will be a regional conflict. It has already begun. The biggest questions now are the conflict’s intensity and whether it can be contained. This is exactly the outcome no one wanted, presumably including Iran.” Among the reporters bylined on this piece was David Sanger, a longtime Washington correspondent who is, to keep this polite, very close to the national- security state and faithfully reflects its perspectives. I certainly sat up straight on reading these paragraphs. They struck me as the Biden regime’s first admission, an early warning, that war was on the way. “I will not hesitate,” President Biden had said by the time Sanger et al. published, “to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”

Indeed, U.S. attacks on Houthi targets are now something close to routine. On Tuesday the Pentagon announced that Navy SEAL commandos had raided an Iranian vessel bound for Yemen and seized missile components from its cargo. As of Monday evening (East Coast time, Tuesday morning in the Middle East), Biden and his policy people have exactly what they have insisted they do not want but which Israel probably does. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the IRGC, launched at least 11 ballistic missiles into northern Iraq and Syria, where all sorts of U.S. proxies, including the Islamic State, are active. I do not think there is any longer any stepping back from the reality that the U.S. is now in a regional war involving Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

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Close the border.

Top Biden Aides: Ukraine Will Lose in Weeks or Months Without Aid (Sp.)

The United States has already spent more than $113 billion providing military and other aid to Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly warned that aid will only serve to prolong the conflict and any cargo entering Ukraine will be considered a legitimate military target. National Security adviser Jake Sullivan and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers during a private meeting that Russia could win the conflict in Ukraine in a matter of weeks or months if Congress does not approve additional aid for the Kiev regime, US media reported on Friday. According to two people familiar with the meeting, via US media, the two high-ranking aides said that Ukraine will soon run out of air defense missiles and lose its artillery capabilities. One White House official described the description as “incredibly stark.”

In December, the US announced that it had allocated the last tranche of aid to Ukraine that has been approved by Congress.”We have given now Ukraine the last security assistance package that we have funds to support right before New Year’s, right after Christmas. And we’ve got to get support from Congress so we can continue to do that,” Sullivan told reporters at the time.Ukraine is facing more than a funding crisis, it is also facing a lack of personnel on the frontline. It was reported in Western media outlets last fall that the average age of a Ukrainian soldier had increased to 43 years. It also lifted restrictions on female soldiers, putting them into machine gunner, tank commander and other frontline roles. Even with its air defense operational, Russia has shown its capability to hit targets all over the country.

Still, an influx of military aid for Ukraine could prolong the conflict longer, resulting in more deaths. For months, US President Joe Biden has demanded that Congress pass an additional $60 billion in aid, which would be the largest single package sent to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s special military operation. While the US Senate has at times seemed ready to pass a compromise funding bill that would include Biden’s request, House Republicans have steadfastly blocked it, demanding significant border security reforms that most Democrats would have difficulty selling to their voter base. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is insisting that a border bill include stronger border barriers and reforms to make it easier to arrest and deport asylum seekers and undocumented migrants already living in the United States.

“We’re not insistent upon a particular name of a piece of legislation, but we are insistent that the elements have to be meaningful,” Speaker Johnson told reporters after the White House and Senate Democrats said they planned to reject a House-passed border bill. “We understand that there’s concern about the safety, security, sovereignty of Ukraine, but the American people have those same concerns about our own domestic sovereignty, and our safety and our security,” he added. There have also been signs of cracks behind the scenes between Ukraine and its biggest benefactor. In December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky skipped a planned speech to the US Senate during which he was scheduled to make his pitch to lawmakers on why they should authorize more aid. When he finally did deliver a speech to lawmakers, on December 22, only 86 of 213 House Republicans showed for the speech and it was reported that those who did attend and were against the aid did not appear convinced.

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“..the sum of money allocated to Ukraine is to say the least a very little part” of the US military budget.”

Ukraine Openly Asks West To Use Its Army As A Proxy (RT)

The cost of supporting the Ukrainian troops as a proxy force against Russia is miniscule compared to the overall US budget, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said in Davos, arguing that such a security investment benefits the US military industrial complex. Unlike other US “allies,” Kiev is not even asking for American troops on the ground, Kuleba argued in an interview with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We kind of offer the best deal on the global market of security… Give us the weapons, give us the money, and we will finish the job,” Kuleba stated. “So you save the most important, you save the lives of your soldiers.” The Ukrainian diplomat also claimed that Kiev “does not steal any money from American taxpayers,” arguing that “the sum of money allocated to Ukraine is to say the least a very little part” of the US military budget.

“Moreover, a vast amount of this money stays in the United States because it is invested in the production of weapons that go then to Ukraine,” he told reporters, adding that “it needs to be explained to the American taxpayers that their communities benefit from it.” Russia has estimated that Kiev has received more than $203 billion in foreign assistance since the outbreak of the conflict. The US alone has sent Kiev over $75 billion, including more than $45 billion in direct military aid, representing 5% of the Pentagon’s proposed 2024 budget. Moscow has also repeatedly accused the US and its allies of using the Ukraine crisis to wage a “proxy war” against Russia and turning the battlefield into a testing ground for Western military equipment. Even the Pentagon and a former UK defense secretary have referred to Ukraine as a “battle lab” and a “military innovation laboratory.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry has described Kiev’s losses throughout the conflict as catastrophic, estimating that the Ukrainian military has lost nearly 400,000 troops – killed and wounded – since February 2022, including over 160,000 during its failed counteroffensive last year. Kiev has never officially disclosed its casualty figures, but the heavy losses have been indirectly corroborated by its ever-widening mobilization effort. Late last year, President Vladimir Zelensky claimed the country’s military had asked him to round up another 500,000 recruits to bolster the ranks, although a new mobilization bill has yet to be passed.

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“..But the legal ethics rules are designed to avoid gunslinging generally and ambiguity specifically..”

The Many Faces Of Kevin Morris, Hunter Biden’s Financial Patron (Turley)

“Who was the real me? I can only repeat: I was a man of many faces.” Those words by author Milan Kundera could well have been written for Kevin Morris, a critical figure in the unfolding Hunter Biden scandal.

Morris was largely unknown to most people until he emerged as the Democratic donor who reportedly paid Hunter Biden millions to handle his unpaid taxes and maintain his lavish lifestyle. The Hollywood lawyer and producer portrayed himself as a good Samaritan on a biblical scale — a good man who simply found a desperate stranger on the road and gave him more than $5 million. His counsel, Bryan M. Sullivan stated that “Hunter is not only a client of Kevin’s, he is his friend and there is no prohibition against helping a friend in need, despite the inability of these Republican chairmen and their allies to imagine such a thing.” The statement captures the problem for Morris. It is increasingly hard to determine what Morris was at any given moment: Democratic donor, lawyer, friend. Indeed, that problem that some of us have raised for months.

Lawyers are not supposed to pay the bills of their clients. Specifically, California Bar Rule 1.8.5(a) states that “[a] lawyer shall not directly or indirectly pay or agree to pay, guarantee, or represent that the lawyer or lawyer’s law firm will pay the personal or business expenses of a prospective or existing client.” They are required to maintain clear representational boundaries. This is also now the subject of a new bar complaint filed by a conservative legal group this week. Friends have described Morris as a “rule-breaker” and admit that his relationship with Hunter raises eyebrows. “Certainly it’s not careful, but he’s a gunslinger,” one told the Los Angeles Times. “This is how he rolls.” But the legal ethics rules are designed to avoid gunslinging generally and ambiguity specifically.

Hunter calls him both his lawyer and his “brother.” Lead counsel Abbe Lowell observed, “I have never in any of my representations of any other client — other than someone who is an immediate family member of one of my clients — known anyone who is like Kevin.” When the relationship began, Morris was playing the role of loyal Democratic donor. He was introduced to Hunter at a 2019 political fundraiser by another producer and Democratic deep pocket, Lanette Phillips. Soon thereafter, Morris was giving Hunter copious amounts of money and legal advice. That would include reportedly paying off Hunter’s long-delinquent taxes before criminal charges were filed. It also included paying for Hunter’s lavish lifestyle.

Morris may be most eager to avoid the label “democratic donor” because these payments could be viewed as an unreported campaign donation. Morris was brought in during Joe Biden’s campaign for president. Then, on February 7, 2020, Morris flagged how the taxes represented a “considerable risk personally and politically.” He seems to have sought to resolve that political liability by paying off the taxes and calling it a “loan.” Those “loans” would continue, and Morris insists that it was all standard “loan” stuff. Except he is not a bank. He was repeatedly referring to Hunter as his “client.” It is also important that these millions are treated as loans because, if they are actually gifts, they could create a new tax problem. Hunter has to declare such “gifts.” Few would view Hunter as a good risk for a loan, given his history of stiffing a wide array of businesses and associates. Indeed, he reportedly even faced a complaint over failure to pay for alleged high-end prostitutes. He was even accused of using a credit card connected to his father to pay off an alleged Russian call-girl. Even the art dealer who recently sold Hunter’s art reportedly testified that Hunter never reimbursed him for the costs of the shows.

That art adds an interesting twist to the mysterious role of Morris. Recently, art dealer Georges Bergès blew away White House claims that Hunter had been barred from knowing the names of purchasers under a comprehensive ethics system. He admitted that Hunter knew the identity of 70 percent of the purchasers. It was not hard. Despite news reports of buyers flocking to buy the art, it turns out it was largely Morris who bought the art. Notably, however, Morris only reportedly paid Bergès’ 40 percent commission on the $875,000 purchases. It is not clear whether Morris used the sales to wipe out part of the loan debt. That would be a clever way to treat the money as a loan, if it were used for that purpose. You simply have Hunter crank out dubious pieces of art and arrange for an ally to throw art shows in New York. You then have media allies write how buyers were “floored” by Hunter’s talent.

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Scholz is on his way out.

A New Party Is Reshaping The German Political Landscape (Amar)

Germany is in severe crisis. Between a tanking economy and an increasingly unpopular government, the country has begun to show just how much stress it is under. Half a year ago, the head of German carmaker Volkswagen warned that “the roof is on fire,” while The Economist concluded that “disaster,” meaning not just the decline but collapse of the German car industry, is “no longer inconceivable.” At this moment, the wintry beginning of 2024, German farmers are staging large-scale and escalating protests and forcing the ruling coalition into concessions, the trains are not running on time due to a strike, the country’s wholesale sector has dropped to pandemic-level pessimism, “dampening hopes of a rapid rebound in Europe’s largest economy,” as reported by Bloomberg, residential property prices are in record decline, and the office real estate market “has collapsed,” according to leading German news magazine Der Spiegel.

The Economist finds Germany to be “down” politically as well – in fact, self-relegated – from its status as leader of Europe (or, at least, the EU) to less than second fiddle (that would be France, perhaps): while “Angela Merkel was the continent’s undoubted leader, Olaf Scholz, has not taken on her mantle.” That is a very British understatement. In reality, in the toxic yet key relationship with the US, Germany, with its hapless attempt to transfer the management concept of “servant leadership” to geopolitics, has now subordinated itself so thoroughly to American neocon-type interests that it has no leverage left at all. Because once you make your loyalty unconditional, you will be taken for granted: Selling oneself may be inevitable for any but the greatest powers. Selling oneself for free takes a special lack of foresight. We could go on heaping up examples of malaise. But the gist is simple: Germans may love to lay it on thick when it comes to venting their misery and “angst” (I should know, being German), but, clearly, something has to – and will – give. The question is what. One political force that stands to gain from the crisis has just been established. (Another fairly new party that is profiting is the AfD.)

Long rumored and in the making, 8 January saw the official founding of a new party, the Bündnis Sarah Wagenknecht – Vernunft und Gerechtigkeit (Alliance Sarah Wagenknecht – Reason and Justice), or BSW for short. Its leader Sarah Wagenknecht used to be the most popular top politician of the hard-Left party Die Linke, which she left with a bang. As the name BSW suggests, the new party is, in part, a vehicle for Wagenknecht’s considerable personal political acumen and charisma. Opponents of “Red Sarah,” as the popular, generally right-leaning newspaper Bild still calls her, like to stereotype her as an “icon.” Yet, wiser from the failure of an earlier attempt to strike out on her own (under the label “Aufstehen,” roughly: “Stand Up”), this time, Wagenknecht has gone out of her way and made sure to do her homework, preparing a well-crafted organization, a set of junior leaders around her, and, last but not least, a solid program. This is politically significant: Unlike “Aufstehen,” the BSW will not fold quickly under the weight of its own problems.

On the contrary, the party’s chances of making a strong impact from the get-go are very good, as polls consistently indicate. The most recent one – commissioned by Bild and carried out just days after the party’s founding by a top pollster – shows that 14% of Germans would vote for the BSW in a federal election. For comparison: the SPD, traditionally one of the core parties of Germany and the political home of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, reaches 14% as well. For the BSW this is an impressive figure, but for the SPD it is catastrophic. Meanwhile the Greens, the second partner in Berlin’s governing “Ampel” coalition, are at 12%. The FDP, the third “Ampel” component, would fail to get any seats at all (due to not crossing Germany’s electoral threshold of 5%). Sarah Wagenknecht’s own former party, Die Linke, would suffer the same fate. The only two parties that would do better than the BSW are the traditional center-right CDU (27%) and the populist-right/far-right AfD (18%).

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The man who would be Putin.

The Last Cut For Alexei Kudrin Is The Deepest (Helmer)

Alexei Kudrin – the state finance factotum President Vladimir Putin promoted for his entire federal government career until in the war against the Ukraine and the US the president couldn’t protect him any longer — has lost his half-billion dollar payoff. Kudrin’s long-held ambition to succeed Putin in the Kremlin with US backing ends with the oligarchs and state bankers about to take over Yandex and cutting Kudrin’s stake in the deal by at least two percent and several hundred million dollars. This last cut is not only the deepest for Kudrin: the oligarchs and bankers are making public this week that Putin is not protecting Kudrin any longer. Yandex, the dominant Russian internet company once controlled by the Israeli exile, Arkady Volozh, is now undergoing a process of state takeover to protect it from Volozh’s allies in the US and NATO, and to reprivatize it in the hands of the state bankers VTB and the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a group of oligarchs; they are rivalling each other, led by Vladimir Potanin of Norilsk Nickel and Vagit Alekperov of LUKoil.

Volozh has lost control of Yandex because of his attacks on the Russian war against the US and NATO on the Ukrainian battlefield, because he fled to Israel, and because he is a cyber security risk to Russia. Notwithstanding, Putin has been conciliatory and protective. “He lives in Israel, and I can imagine that, to live a good and prosperous life there and have good relations with authorities, he has to make certain statements. He had been silent for a long time before he decided to make a statement. God grant him health and may he live well there. Frankly speaking, we are not particularly bothered by what he said. But in general, if a person grew up on this soil, got an education and became successful, he should have some respect for the country that gave him everything. I am not referring to Volozh – he is a gifted person who created a really good company and handpicked a team – I am not referring to him, but in general. Yes, one can imagine that a person does not agree with what the current authorities are doing. Do they have the right to express their views? By all means. But there are quite a few fine points here.”

“We can side with our geopolitical adversaries and play along with them, thus damaging our country’s interests, or we can act otherwise. There are many nuances here. People decide for themselves who they are. Do they have a sense of national identity? Or do they prefer to mimic and feel like someone else, not a Russian person born in the Soviet Union? A person makes their own choices.” At the same time as Putin was saying this, he had agreed to a scheme for breaking up Yandex into its Russian asset and foreign asset holdings, neutralizing Volozh’s power in Russia. To prevent the scheme from turning into a renationalisation by the state, Putin appointed Kudrin as his overseer. Kudrin’s payment for this was to be so large that Moscow sources suspected it was intended to become a political fund to finance Kudrin’s bid for the succession to Putin after his re-election in March of this year. Depending on the value of the final transactions, that might have been as large as $1.5 billion or as little as $375 million.

At peak, when it was listed in New York, the Yandex group had a market capitalization of almost $30 billion; Volozh’s worth, reported by Forbes US, peaked at $2.3 billion. After delisting on the New York Stock Exchange and trading freeze on Nasdaq as the special military operation began, Yandex’s share value has dropped to $6.9 billion on the Moscow Stock Exchange this week. At this price, Kudrin stands to earn no more than $104 million – a premium retirement pension collectable in roubles, but a tupik politically (deadend).

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Trick shots



Elasmotherium, a large rhinoceros genus, existed in Eurasia from the Late Miocene to the Late Pleistocene, with the latest confirmed dates approximately 39,000 years ago.



Reversed roles








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






Nov 162023

Jackson Pollock Reflection of the Big Dipper 1947


US Will Take Massive Hit In Global Standing Over Israel (RS)
Rights Group Sues Biden For ‘Complicity’ In Gaza Genocide (Cradle)
Why The US Needs This War In Gaza (Pepe Escobar)
All Telecoms Services In Gaza To Halt In Coming Hours — Russian Envoy (TASS)
US Secretly Increased Weapons Supplies To Israel – Bloomberg (RT)
US Sabotaged Balanced UN Security Council Resolution On Mideast – Envoy (TASS)
Biden Calls Xi a ‘Dictator’ Hours After Meeting (Sp.)
Washington Raises Stakes On ‘Losing Hand’ In Ukraine – Jeffrey Sachs (RT)
Ukrainian Officials Embezzled 20%-36% Of All Western Financial Aid (TASS)
Germany’s Energy Woes Spark ‘Deindustrialization on Considerable Scale’ (Sp.)
Hunter Biden Asks Judge for Trump, Barr Subpoenas (Sp.)
Lawyer Admits To Leaking Witness Videos In Georgia Election Case (JTN)
Michigan Court Rejects Effort to Disqualify Donald Trump (Turley)





Erdogan Israel











Self defence





“..the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole ‘nother level.”

US Will Take Massive Hit In Global Standing Over Israel (RS)

This past weekend saw the publication of a disturbing report from Axios, following a phone call between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Israeli counterpart. According to unnamed sources, the outlet reports, there are growing fears within the Biden administration that the Israeli government wants to provoke Hezbollah into starting a wider regional war that would envelop Lebanon and other nearby countries, as well as the United States. It’s a powerful reminder that the Biden administration’s current policy of unconditional support for the Israeli government’s war on Gaza carries with it no upsides and only downsides in regards to U.S. interests. Avoiding another Middle Eastern war is a core priority for President Joe Biden, who both campaigned on ending “forever wars,” and has expressed concern about the U.S. capacity for a future military confrontation with China.

In fact, according to Axios, Austin’s weekend phone call was precisely to register his concern over the Israeli attacks in Lebanon and “the need to contain the conflict to Gaza and avoid regional escalation.” U.S.officials have been reportedly trying to prevent this outcome from the start of the conflict. Short of a full-blown war, Washington’s support for the war is already leading to U.S.casualties. As of Monday, U.S. and coalition forces have suffered at least 52 attacks since October 17, injuring 56 troops in Iraq and Syria. In a classic case of tit-for-tat, four of those attacks took place this past Sunday alone in response to U.S. airstrikes on Iran-linked facilities, which were themselves a response to earlier militia attacks on American targets in the region over Washington’s backing for Israel. At one point, a drone launched by an Iran-backed drone crashed into the U.S. barracks at an Iraqi air base, failing to kill U.S.troops only because it was defective.

There are few greater interests of a nation than ensuring the safety and security of its citizens. The Biden administration certainly thinks so, since it has repeatedly invoked the U.S. citizens taken as hostages by Hamas and made clear the importance it places on their safe return. Yet U.S. citizens remain trapped in Gaza, their lives threatened by not just Israel’s relentless bombing campaign, but by the siege that has created a devastating humanitarian crisis in the territory. The longer the war goes on, the bigger the risk to these Americans’ lives. At the same time, administration officials are already warning the war is going to inflame terrorism, the very thing the United States spent the past two decades, thousands of lives, and trillions of dollars trying to combat. The U.S. State Department issued an alert early on in the war that there was an increased “potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.”

A leaked intelligence bulletin around the same time warned that Hezbollah and Al Qaeda affiliates were calling for attacks on U.S. citizens and interests over the conflict, and that the October 17 blast at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City — responsibility for which is still undetermined — would “likely continue to draw public backlash and organized responses.” (The Israeli military has since repeatedly attacked multiple hospitals in Gaza). Similar warnings abound. The Department of Homeland Security has cautioned that the United States is “in a heightened threat environment” as a result of the war. FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress that “multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West,” and that “the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole ‘nother level.”

We stand with

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“I paid for Israel to kill my cousins and my aunt, there’s no two ways around it..”

Rights Group Sues Biden For ‘Complicity’ In Gaza Genocide (Cradle)

US President Joe Biden and two of his cabinet members are being sued in a US federal court for aiding and abetting genocide in Gaza, Al-Jazeera reported on 14 November. A federal complaint filed on 13 November against President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, accuses them of “failure to prevent and complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide.” Israel, which receives $3.8 billion in military support from the US each year, has killed over 11,200 Palestinians, the majority women and children, since the beginning of its bombing campaign in Gaza on 7 October.

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the suit on behalf of Palestinian human rights organizations, Palestinians in Gaza and US citizens with relatives trapped in the besieged enclave. The bombing campaign has been accompanied by statements from Israeli military and political leaders claiming that all 2.3 million residents of the Gaza Strip are legitimate targets, rather than just members or fighters of Hamas, the group that attacked Israel on 7 October. “Numerous Israeli government leaders have expressed clear genocidal intentions and deployed dehumanizing characterizations of Palestinians, including ‘human animals’,” the CCR wrote in its complaint. It said those “statements of intent”, when combined with the “mass killing” of Palestinians, reveal “evidence of an unfolding crime of genocide.”

Numerous legal scholars and human rights groups have also called Israel’s actions in Gaza genocide, including Israeli historian and Holocaust scholar Raz Segal, who has called the Israeli bombing campaign, “A textbook case of genocide.” As the Palestinian death toll continues to mount, the Biden White House has escalated its financial and military support to Israel and refused to set limits or redlines on how US weapons may be used in Gaza. “Immediately after the launch of Israel’s unprecedented bombing campaign on Gaza, President Biden offered ‘unwavering’ support for Israel, which he and administration officials have consistently repeated and backed up with military, financial, and political support, even as mass civilian casualties escalated alongside Israeli genocidal rhetoric,” the CCR said.

Because the US is Israel’s closest ally and largest supplier of military assistance, the US could have a “deterrent effect on Israeli officials now pursuing genocidal acts against the Palestinian people,” the complaint said. Instead, the group said, Biden, Blinken, and Austin “have helped advance the gravest of crimes.” Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Astha Sharma Pokharel, a lawyer at the CCR, said: “They have a significant responsibility under customary international law, under federal law, to prevent this genocide, to stop supporting this genocide. At every step of the way, at every opportunity, they have failed. They have continued to provide cover to Israel; they have continued to provide material support to Israel; and currently, they intend to send more money and more weapons to Israel.”

Laila al-Haddad, a US citizen represented by CCR in the complaint, has lost five relatives to Israeli bombing in Gaza since 7 October. “I paid for Israel to kill my cousins and my aunt, there’s no two ways around it,” she told Al-Jazeera. “It was my tax dollars that did that, that sent those bombs to Israel to kill my family. And so I feel I and all other American taxpayers have a very unique responsibility to hold our government and our elected officials responsible.”

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“Wars in Europe and West Asia may be its last chance (it will lose) to subvert the emergence of a prosperous, connected, peaceful Eurasia Century.”

Why The US Needs This War In Gaza (Pepe Escobar)

The catastrophic debacle of Project Ukraine and the revival of an intractable West Asian war are deeply intertwined. Beyond the fog of Washington’s “worry” about Tel Aviv’s genocidal rampage, the crucial fact is that we are right in the thick of a war against BRICS 11. The Empire does not do strategy; at best, it does tactical business plans on the fly. There are two immediate tactics in play: a US Armada deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean – in a failed effort to intimidate Resistance Axis behemoths Iran and Hezbollah – and a possible Milei election in Argentina tied to his avowed promise to break Brazil-Argentina relations. So this is a simultaneous attack on BRICS 11 on two fronts: West Asia and South America. There will be no American efforts spared to prevent BRICS 11 from getting close to OPEC+.

A key aim is to instill fear in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi – as confirmed by Persian Gulf business sources. Even vassal leaders at the OIC show would have been aware that we are now deep into The Empire Strikes Back. That also largely explains their cowardice. They know that for the Hegemon, multipolarity equals “chaos,” unipolarity equals “order,” and malign actors equal “autocrats” – such as the new Russian-Chinese-Iranian “Axis of Evil” and anyone, especially vassals, that opposes the “rules-based international order.” And that brings us to a tale of two ceasefires. Tens of millions across the Global Majority are asking why the Hegemon is desperate for a ceasefire in Ukraine while flatly refusing a ceasefire in Palestine. Freezing Project Ukraine preserves the Ghost of Hegemony just a little bit longer.

Let’s assume Moscow would take the bait (it won’t). But to freeze Ukraine in Europe, the Hegemon will need an Israeli win in Gaza – perhaps at any and all costs – to maintain even a vestige of its former glory. But can Israel achieve victory any more than Ukraine can? Tel Aviv may have already lost the war on 7 October as it can never regain its facade of invincibility. And if this transforms into a regional war that Israel loses, the US will lose its Arab vassals overnight, who today have a Chinese and Russian option waiting in the wings. The Roar of the Street is getting louder – demanding that the Biden administration, now seen as complicit with Tel Aviv, halt the Israeli genocide that may lead to a World War. But Washington will not comply. Wars in Europe and West Asia may be its last chance (it will lose) to subvert the emergence of a prosperous, connected, peaceful Eurasia Century.

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Good to remember: “..Hamas views its attack as a response to Israeli authorities’ steps against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem..”

All Telecoms Services In Gaza To Halt In Coming Hours — Russian Envoy (TASS)

Residents of the Gaza Strip are about to find themselves without any communications to the outside world due to fuel and electricity shortages, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya told the UN Security Council. “Any humanitarian action requires an immediate cessation of hostilities. One cannot clear the debris and evacuate people when under fire, and also it is impossible to bring in much-needed fuel, without which Gaza’s hospitals are about to run out of energy. Besides, without fuel supplies, in the coming hours (according to UNRWA forecasts on November 16), the residents of Gaza will find themselves without any communications, without Internet and in a complete isolation from the outside world,” the Russian diplomat said, addressing the UN Security Council which has just adopted a resolution on the Middle East.

A total of 12 countries in the 15-member council voted in favor of the document, aimed at helping children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict zone. The United States, the United Kingdom and Russia abstained. “There will be no telling what happens there at all. The Gaza Strip will be completely plunged into darkness and chaos, and coordination among emergency services will be disrupted,” Nebenzya continued. s”At this very moment, while delegations to the Security Council are exercising in eloquence, the Israeli army is raiding Al-Shifa hospital, bombing UNRWA schools, and there are alarming reports of medical staff being shot, medical equipment and medical depots being destroyed,” he added. “I stress once again: humanitarian pauses are not and cannot be a substitute for a ceasefire or even a truce. It is only a short-time halt, after which hostilities resume with renewed vigor.”

The resolution, obtained by TASS, has seven provisions. It contains a call for establishing extended humanitarian pauses and corridors in the Gaza Strip “for a sufficient number of days to enable, consistent with international humanitarian law, the full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” for United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other impartial humanitarian organizations enabling them to deliver humanitarian aid, repair essential infrastructure and organize “urgent rescue and recovery efforts, including for missing children in damaged and destroyed buildings.” The humanitarian pause should be long enough to conduct “evacuation of sick or injured children and their care givers.”

Tensions flared up in the Middle East after Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip attacked Israeli territory on October 7, when many Israelis living in the settlements near the border were killed and more than 200 people, including children, women and the elderly, were taken hostage. Hamas views its attack as a response to Israeli authorities’ steps against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israel declared a total blockade of the Gaza Strip and launched bombardments of the enclave and some areas in Lebanon and Syria. Clashes are also reported in the West Bank.

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“..since Gaza is “one of the world’s most densely populated places, 155mm artillery shells are inherently indiscriminate.”

US Secretly Increased Weapons Supplies To Israel – Bloomberg (RT)

The US Department of Defense has allegedly ramped up weapons deliveries to Israel without making any public announcements, Bloomberg has reported. The media outlet claimed that the deliveries of artillery shells, which supposedly feature prominently on Israel’s wish list, continue despite protests by dozens of relief organizations. The US has for decades been Israel’s closest ally and a major supplier of weapons. Following Hamas’ surprise attack on the country on October 7, Washington quickly came to Israel’s rescue, providing it with Iron Dome air defense missiles and smart bombs. In its report on Wednesday, Bloomberg, citing an internal Defense Department list dated late October, claimed that the Pentagon had been dipping into its stocks at home and in Europe to furnish Israel with 36,000 rounds of 30mm cannon ammunition and approximately 2,000 Hellfire Laser Guided missiles for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

The list also included 57,000 155mm High Explosive artillery shells, as well as mortars, rifles, and night vision devices, among other items. Israel reportedly requested 200 armor-piercing Switchblade 600 strike drones, which the US military does not have in its inventory. When asked for comment, the Defense Department said in a statement that it was “leveraging several avenues — from internal stocks to US industry channels – to ensure Israel has the means to defend itself.” Officials added that “this security assistance continues to arrive on a near-daily basis.” Bloomberg pointed out that the deliveries have apparently continued despite the Biden administration publicly calling on Israel to exercise restraint and try to avoid civilian casualties during its ongoing operation against Hamas in Gaza.

On Monday, thirty relief groups sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, urging him to halt the deliveries of 155mm shells in particular. They argued that, since Gaza is “one of the world’s most densely populated places, 155mm artillery shells are inherently indiscriminate.” On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives approved a bill proposed by Speaker Mike Johnson over the weekend to avoid a looming government shutdown this Friday. Aid for Ukraine and Israel is conspicuously absent from the stopgap legislation, which aims to secure funding for US government agencies through mid-January and early February. The Biden administration originally asked Congress last month to approve a massive $106 billion assistance package for Ukraine and Israel. However, Republicans opposed the plan, leading to a political deadlock.

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“The Council does not even demand humanitarian pauses, but only calls for them, which is a mockery of the Council’s prerogative..”

US Sabotaged Balanced UN Security Council Resolution On Mideast – Envoy (TASS)

Since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalated in early October, the United States has been sabotaging a balanced UN Security Council document on the issue, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said. “From the very beginning of the current escalation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone, the US delegation has sabotaged any attempt to develop a balanced and depoliticized document aimed at taking real and urgent measures to de-escalate the situation. Our American colleagues on the Council justified the collective punishment and annihilation of the Palestinians, first of all the civilian population, under the slogans about the fight against terrorism and Israel’s right to self-defense, effectively paralyzing the work of the main UN body for the maintenance of international peace and security,” Nebenzya told the UN Security Council after it adopted a resolution on the Middle East.

In his words, Washington has consistently rejected draft resolutions demanding a humanitarian ceasefire. The diplomat expressed his regret over the fact that “under pressure from Washington, the language of the resolution has been emasculated.” “The Council does not even demand humanitarian pauses, but only calls for them, which is a mockery of the Council’s prerogative,” Nebenzya said.

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The Chinese simply do not understand such poor manners.

Biden Calls Xi a ‘Dictator’ Hours After Meeting (Sp.)

Hours after a meeting designed to restore US-Chinese relations between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden called the Chinese leader a dictator during a press conference about the meeting. Biden and Xi met in San Francisco during the APEC Leaders’ Summit on Wednesday. The highly anticipated meeting was hyped as a critical opportunity to restore Chinese-US relations following years of heightened tensions between the two countries. During a press conference following the meeting, Biden touted the progress made, saying that they reached a deal to combat fentanyl precursor chemicals from China entering the United States, resuming direct communications between the world’s two largest militaries and a plan to have experts from both countries meet on the dangers of AI. He said they also discussed Ukraine, Gaza, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

After Biden stated he would take no more questions he started walking towards the exit but then stopped and announced that he would take another question, “Who can holler the loudest?” the President asked the crowd of supporters. The reporter, whose name and outlet were not clearly audible in the video, first asked if Biden could share the evidence he had that Hamas hid a headquarters in Al-Shifa hospital, something Biden said was a “fact” earlier in the press conference. Biden said he was confident in the evidence he saw, but declined to provide it. “No, I can’t tell you. I won’t tell you.” The same reporter then asked if Biden still calls Xi a “dictator” as he did earlier in the year. Biden confirmed that he still does.

“Well look, he is. I mean he is a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that is based on a form of government that is totally different from ours,” Biden stated before leaving the press room. The Chinese government has not yet responded to Biden’s latest description of the Chinese President as a “dictator.” In June, one day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing in an effort to ease tensions between the countries, Biden harmed those discussions by calling Xi a dictator and implying that he did not know what was going on in his country. “The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment is he didn’t know it was there,” Biden said at a fundraiser. “That’s a great embarrassment for dictators.”

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“The US has played a losing hand badly for 15 straight years..”

They’ve raised the stakes for 15 years on a losing hand, and they can’t get it,” [..] “And this is our team. They failed.”

Washington Raises Stakes On ‘Losing Hand’ In Ukraine – Jeffrey Sachs (RT)

Washington has continually escalated a failed foreign policy in Eastern Europe since at least 2008, driving Ukraine to the brink of total destruction by failing to address Russia’s legitimate security concerns in the former Soviet republic, US public policy analyst Jeffrey Sachs has argued. “The US has played a losing hand badly for 15 straight years,” Sachs said on Wednesday in an interview with independent journalist Glenn Greenwald. “This is really important to understand if one wants to learn a little bit about geopolitical poker, which is, we keep raising the stakes on a losing hand.” Sachs, an award-winning economist who advised the Russian and Ukrainian governments following the Soviet Union’s breakup, detailed how at various points in the past two decades, Washington could have forestalled a military conflict without Kiev losing any territory.

He pointed out that Moscow was demanding that NATO not expand onto its doorstep, which US officials refused to concede. When Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych, chose neutrality over aligning with the West and agreed to extend the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s lease of its naval base in Crimea, that wasn’t good enough for US leaders, Sachs said. US State Department official Victoria Nuland “and friends” then helped overthrow Kiev’s democratically elected government in 2014, leading to Ukraine’s loss of Crimea, he said. Even then, Russia wasn’t demanding more territory. Rather, Sachs said, Moscow wanted Ukraine to refrain from shelling ethnic Russians in the breakaway Donbass region and to grant them a degree of autonomy. Those terms were included in the Minsk II agreement, which was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council, but US officials told Ukrainian leaders that they didn’t need to comply with the deal, the analyst said.

In December 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a security pact pledging no further expansion of NATO and negotiations on placement of US missile systems in Eastern Europe. The US reply came in January 2022. “We don’t have to discuss any of that with you,” Sachs said, summing up Washington’s stance at the time. “That was the reply. We don’t have to discuss NATO with you. It’s none of your business.” Just three days after Russian forces launched a military offensive against Ukraine in February 2022, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky sought to resolve the conflict by pledging neutrality, Sachs said. However, he suggested that, when Zelensky reached a preliminary agreement with the Russians on a peace settlement a few weeks later, US President Joe Biden’s administration torpedoed the deal.

Washington has since approved $113 billion in aid to Ukraine, essentially prolonging the fighting, the analyst argued. Earlier this year, the Biden administration goaded Kiev into a major counteroffensive against Russian forces that was “clearly an impossibility,” Sachs said. “They’ve raised the stakes for 15 years on a losing hand, and they can’t get it,” the economist said. “And this is our team. They failed.” ” We need a new foreign policy team, and we need a new foreign policy approach, and we need to negotiate before Ukraine is completely destroyed.”

Sachs noted that he and other observers predicted the Ukraine debacle in the early days of the conflict. “This one was not very hard to see,” he said. “Like you said, how can you beat Russia? It was very obvious. These people just are not very clever. Biden, Nuland, [National Security Advisor Jake] Sullivan, [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken – they’ve been at this since 2014.” Kiev’s much-anticipated offensive campaign, launched in the summer, failed to achieve any significant victories or win back much territory. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top general, said in a recent interview that the fighting has reached “a stalemate.” The Economist reported this week that Western officials “increasingly think” that the conflict could last for another five years.

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“I’m talking about former senior officials of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.”

So this is just the defense guys. But the rest want their cut, too.

Ukrainian Officials Embezzled 20%-36% Of All Western Financial Aid (TASS)

Between 20% and 36% of all financial aid, provided to Kiev by the West, has been misappropriated by Ukrainian officials, the Russian Foreign ministry’s official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “Based on our information, between 20% and 36% of all financial aid from the West was misappropriated by Ukrainian officials,” the diplomat said. “I’m talking about former senior officials of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.” Corruption scandals at various sectors of economy and state governance are a regular occurrence in Ukraine. Former Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov was sacked in September amid numerous corruption scandals. He was succeeded by Rustem Umerov.

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“..two out of three German companies have partially relocated their operations abroad due to ongoing energy issues in Germany..”

Germany’s Energy Woes Spark ‘Deindustrialization on Considerable Scale’ (Sp.)

Germany’s automotive, mechanical engineering, and industrial goods companies are prioritizing moving less complex processes overseas to secure their business futures. Berlin’s chances of reversing such a trend are in doubt, as companies have expressed disappointment in the current government’s actions to forestall their departure. Consultancy firm Deloitte reports that two out of three German companies have partially relocated their operations abroad due to ongoing energy issues in Germany. Previous reports indicated that nearly half of the country’s small-to-midsized companies were considering moving abroad or ceasing operations. According to Deloitte, 67 percent of German companies have moved some operations abroad, and every third industrial company plans to relocate high-quality areas such as production and preassembly.

Investments in infrastructure, digitalization, and cost-effective energy pricing are essential for securing business locations. The situation is particularly acute in Germany’s mechanical engineering, industrial goods, and automotive sectors, where 69 percent of companies report moderate to large-scale relocation. Currently, companies are primarily moving less complex aspects like component manufacturing abroad. Florian Ploner, a partner at Deloitte and industry sector expert, remarked, “Deindustrialization is already taking place on a considerable scale here. If the general conditions remain the same, it is very likely that more companies will follow and more and more important parts of the value creation will migrate.”

When considering relocation, one-third of respondents focus on high-value areas like general production (33 percent) and preassembly (34 percent). Currently, companies are relocating evenly across the EU, Asia, and the US, with only 10 percent of companies planning to move to other Asian countries and eight percent considering returning to Europe from Asia.

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“Dammit, Mr. President, I am not going to talk to you about Hunter Biden. Period!”

Hunter Biden Asks Judge for Trump, Barr Subpoenas (Sp.)

Lawyers for Hunter Biden asked a federal judge on Wednesday to issue subpoenas for several federal law enforcement officials, including former Attorney General Bill Barr and former US President Donald Trump, in the case against the first son. According to the recent filing, Biden is seeking the testimony of Trump, Barr, and two other Justice Department officials in an effort to prove that the federal investigation of him was politically motivated. “Mr. Biden seeks specific information from three former DOJ officials and the former President that goes to the heart of his defense that this is, possibly, a vindictive or selective prosecution arising from an unrelenting pressure campaign beginning in the last administration, in violation of Mr. Biden’s Fifth Amendment rights under the Constitution,” Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, wrote in the request to US District Judge Maryellen Noreika.

Hunter, who is the son of US President Joe Biden, is facing a trio of federal gun charges after a plea deal collapsed over the summer that also included misdemeanor tax fraud charges. While it was Hunter’s lawyer who scuttled the deal, he has since tried to argue that the filing of new gun charges since then is part of a political campaign against him and his father, who is standing for reelection next November. “In the lead up to the 2020 election, IRS case files show certain investigative decisions were made ‘as a result of guidance provided’ by, among others, ‘the Deputy Attorney General’s office,’” Lowell’s filing said. Lowell also specifically pointed to a comment by Barr published in his 2022 memoir “One Damn Thing After Another,” in which he said he told Trump in October 2020: “Dammit, Mr. President, I am not going to talk to you about Hunter Biden. Period!”

“These confirmations of communications give more than a mere appearance that President Trump improperly and unrelentingly pressured DOJ to pursue an investigation and prosecution of Mr. Biden to advance President Trump’s partisan ambitions,” Lowell’s note to the judge said. Lowell also claimed that Republican pressure on special counsel David Weiss compelled the attorney into “changing course” to file the indictment against Hunter Biden in September, “charging three felony counts for the same gun and same facts that just a few months prior Mr. Weiss had agreed to divert under a pre-trial diversion agreement.”

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“Miller’s provision of the footage to the media was not illegal..”

Lawyer Admits To Leaking Witness Videos In Georgia Election Case (JTN)

An attorney representing one of the defendants in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s election case admitted on Wednesday to releasing video footage of several proffer sessions involving defendants who entered plea agreements. A proffer session is a meeting between a defendant and prosecutors to provide information to prosecutors. Footage from those of attorneys Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis, and Sidney Powell became public this week, along with that of co-defendant Scott Hall. “In being transparent with the court and to make sure that nobody else gets blamed for what happened — and so that I can go to sleep well tonight — Judge, I did release those videos to one outlet,” Attorney Jonathan Miller told Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, according to The Hill. “And in all candor, I need the court to know that.”

Prosecutors ultimately filed a request for a protective order on how defendants may disseminate materials from the case. Miller’s provision of the footage to the media was not illegal. Miller represents defendant Misty Hampton, one of former President Donald Trump’s 18 co-defendants in the case stemming from efforts to challenge the 2020 election results. The original publication of the videos prompted several rounds of finger-pointing within the courtroom, with attorneys for the myriad defendants and Willis’s office denying any involvement until Miller came forward.

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“These challenges are spreading uncertainty on the choices that will be allowed for voters — a dangerous and dysfunctional effort.”

Michigan Court Rejects Effort to Disqualify Donald Trump (Turley)

We have been discussing the nationwide effort to disqualify former President Donald Trump from ballots in key states under a novel theory using Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Yesterday, a Michigan judge was the latest to dismiss the effort to prevent voters from being able to vote for Trump. As many of you know, I have been a vocal critic of the theory as unfounded and dangerous. While figures like Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe have assured the public that Trump is clearly disqualified under the theory, it is based on unsustainable historical and legal interpretations in my view. For that reason, I have welcomed rulings to allow these claims to be reviewed on appeal. It has not fared well. While some have misrepresented past rulings, Tribe and others are still seeking a favorable judge.

Trump rally

State Judge James Robert Redford rejected the challenge and found that the courts lack the claimed authority under the theory. Judge Redford also rejected the effort of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) under state law to remove candidates from the ballot based on that provision. An appeal is now expected to proceed and the matter could well end up in front of the Supreme Court. Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in a similar case that Trump could not be removed from the primary ballot in that state. Another ruling is expected soon out of Colorado. I have previously addressed the constitutional basis for this claim. It is, in my view, wildly out of sync with the purpose of the amendment, which followed an actual rebellion, the Civil War.

As previously discussed, the 14th Amendment bars those who took the oath and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.” It then adds that that disqualification can extend to those who have “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” According to these experts, Jan. 6 was an “insurrection” and Trump gave “aid and comfort” to those who engaged in it by spreading election fraud claims and not immediately denouncing the violence. But even the view that it was an “insurrection” is by no means a consensus. Polls have shown that most of the public view Jan. 6 for what it was: a protest that became a riot. One year after the riot, CBS News mostly downplayed and ignored the result of its own poll showing that 76 percent viewed it for what it was, as a “protest gone too far.” The view that it was an actual “insurrection” was far less settled, with almost half rejecting the claim, a division breaking along partisan lines.

Advocates of this theory like Benson are arguing that they are protecting democracy by denying the ability of tens of millions of Americans to vote for their preferred candidate. Nothing says democracy like barring the choice of voters. It is a practice that is common in nations like Iran where the government scrubs the ballots of unacceptable candidates. Hopefully, these courts will expedite these rulings to allow the matter to reach the Supreme Court for a final and definitive ruling. These challenges are spreading uncertainty on the choices that will be allowed for voters — a dangerous and dysfunctional effort.

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Rogan Rock





Ron Paul











Split screen sunset





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Jun 222023

Joaquin Sorolla Passeggiata sulla spiaggia (Walk on the beach) 1909


Ukrainian Troops Understand They Don’t Stand A Chance – Putin (TASS)
Counteroffensive Not Going Well – Zelensky (RT)
Scott Ritter: Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Loses Momentum as Logistics Falters (Sp.)
Kiev Should Sue for Peace to Avoid Further Losses (Tsukanov)
Putin: Half Of Strategic Missile Units Rearmed With Hypersonic Systems (TASS)
Putin Reveals Future Of Russian Armed Forces (RT)
Biden Walks Back On Ukraine’s NATO Accession (Bhadrakumar)
Moscow Issues Warning Over ‘Nuclear Winter’ (RT)
France Has NATO-for-Truce Plan For Ukraine – Media (RT)
Pressure on US Dollar, Debt Drove Blinken Effort to Mend Ties With China (Sp.)
The Hunter Biden ‘Controlled Demolition’ is Complete (Turley)
Economic Cutbacks Making British Kids Shorter (RT)
House Votes to Censure Rep. Adam Schiff (ET)
Durham: FBI Overlooked Intel Clinton Masterminded Plot To Smear Trump (JTN)





RFK peace













“.. that includes Leopards, French wheeled vehicles, US-made armored vehicles – everything,” the president said. “They burn quite well.”

Ukrainian Troops Understand They Don’t Stand A Chance – Putin (TASS)

Ukraine’s troops understand that they don’t stand a chance against heroic and courageous fighters of the Russian Armed Forces, President Vladimir Putin emphasized on Wednesday. “Thanks to the courage and heroism of our fighters, thanks to the commanders’ readiness to repel any aggressive actions against Russia, I believe, the enemy doesn’t stand a chance. They understand that and this is why they have stalled now,” Putin said at the meeting with military college graduates, answering a question from reporter Pavel Zarubin. “Ukrainian forces began [the counteroffensive] on June 4, engaging strategic reserves. Curiously, we currently observe certain lull at this moment,” the president said, adding that “this is due to the enemy suffering serious casualties in personnel and in vehicles.”

According to the president, “there are individual elements of hostilities going on: shelling, reconnaissance-in-force.” “But, I repeat, there is currently no active offensive,” Putin added. Meanwhile, he noted: “As of today, we see that the enemy’s offensive potential has not been depleted yet; the enemy has reserves and it thinks where and how to use them.” Speaking about the destroyed Western vehicles, Putin underscored that these numbers keep growing. “How much – that would require a look at the numbers. The total as of last night was 245 tanks and 678 armored vehicles of various types. Of course, that includes Leopards, French wheeled vehicles, US-made armored vehicles – everything,” the president said. “They burn quite well.”

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Give it up. Start negotiating.

Counteroffensive Not Going Well – Zelensky (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has admitted that the long-promised counteroffensive against Russian forces has not delivered the results that some Western observers expected. Amid mounting losses, Zelensky insisted that he would not discuss peace with Moscow. “Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It’s not,” he told the BBC on Wednesday, admitting that advances by Ukrainian troops have been “slower than desired.” “Whatever some might want, including attempts to pressure us, with all due respect, we will advance on the battlefield the way we deem best,” he added.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive began on June 4 with a failed attack on Russian positions near Donetsk, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Wave after wave of attacks followed along the Donetsk and Zaporozhye sectors of the front line, all of which Russian forces have managed to withstand while destroying hundreds of Western-supplied tanks and armored vehicles, and thousands of Ukrainian troops, according to the ministry. While Zelensky told the BBC that his forces have managed to capture eight villages, Ukrainian troops have yet to penetrate even the first of Russia’s multi-layered defensive lines. With a warren of trenches, minefields, and fortifications in their path and Russian artillery and air support operating freely, Ukraine has lost 7,500 men and 30% of its Western-supplied tanks and armored vehicles, the Kremlin estimated last Wednesday.

Daily reports from Moscow have since added at least another 2,000 men to the casualty count, with Ukraine said to have lost over 1,000 soldiers and 20 tanks in a single day of fighting over the weekend. Zelensky is reportedly under pressure to score some battlefield successes for his Western patrons, and he acknowledged to the BBC that “victories on the battlefield are necessary” to resolve the conflict in Kiev’s favor. However, he added that “no matter how far we advance in our counteroffensive, we will not agree to a frozen conflict because that is war, that is a prospectless development for Ukraine.”

Zelensky has repeatedly vowed to drive Russian troops out of the four formerly Ukrainian regions – Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye – that voted last year to join Russia, as well as Crimea, which joined Russia after a referendum in 2014. American, British, and other NATO officials have backed his refusal to “freeze” the conflict, but many admit that Ukrainian forces could never hope to mount an attack on Crimea. “Behind the scenes, many Western military analysts express serious doubts about the success of the Ukrainian adventure,” Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) chief Sergey Naryshkin said on Monday. “Without going into details, I’ll say that the tasks announced by the Kiev regime are assessed as unachievable” by foreign experts, he added.

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“one of the most heavily fortified defensive positions in the history of modern warfare.”

Scott Ritter: Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Loses Momentum as Logistics Falters (Sp.)

With Ukraine’s current military condition desperate and dire, the political leadership in Kiev may be planning to target Crimea with Western-supplied HIMARS and Storm Shadow missiles, Sergey Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, said. Speaking at the Russian Defense Ministry Board Session, he warned, the “[d]eployment of these particular missiles outside the special military operation zone will be regarded as direct involvement of the US and UK in the conflict and will result in immediate retaliatory strikes on decision-making centers in Ukraine’s territory. Scott Ritter believes that the rationale for Ukraine’s move is to provoke an intervention by the West, stressing, however, “they’ve lost this war.”

Despite a seemingly impressive army on paper, Ritter explained to Sputnik that the Ukrainian forces cannot penetrate Russia’s fortified defenses, which he describes as “one of the most heavily fortified defensive positions in the history of modern warfare.” As the Ukrainian Armed Forces falter and stand at the precipice of collapse in their counter-offensive, Ritter’s view of the Russian military stands in stark contrast, as he believes they have managed to quietly amass a significant force, maintaining a notable numerical advantage and demonstrate strategic prudence in their operations. Ritter underlined the chaotic and disorganized nature of Ukraine’s defense logistics system, asserting that large quantities of military aid are being mismanaged or lost in transit.

Furthermore, he pointed out that Ukraine has a notorious reputation for corruption, which may exacerbate the issue. According to him, accountability for this military aid is being overlooked mainly by the West due to the intensity of the ongoing conflict. A recent US media report says Ukrainian government documents show that over $800 million have been spent by Ukraine since 2022 on partially or completely unfulfilled arms supply contracts. “That’s the Ukrainian defense logistics system right now. Totally haphazard, totally chaotic. And if I were, you know, an inspector general going at it, I’d have to be honest and say, guys, we’re not going to be too strict on the accounting right now because this is war.”

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“..the peace terms Russia will offer will likely be significantly worse than the peace terms it is offering Ukraine today..”

Kiev Should Sue for Peace to Avoid Further Losses (Tsukanov)

The colloquially named ‘Surovikin Defensive Line’ has thrashed Ukrainian forces, with the Russian military reporting thousands of enemy casualties and the destruction of nearly 200 tanks and over 400 armored vehicles over the past two weeks. Named after Sergei Surovikin, the Russian general who commanded the Joint Group of Forces in the Special Military Operation Zone last fall and winter, and who was charged with the task of preparing Russian defenses for a Ukrainian counteroffensive, the Surovikin Line consists of vast networks of zigzag infantry trenches, anti-tank dragon’s teeth, berms and minefields across a frontline that stretches hundreds of kilometers. Kiev’s long-awaited counteroffensive – expected since March, began in early June, and is now widely acknowledged to have bogged down, with even senior Ukrainian officials and their Western patrons admitting in recent days that Ukrainian forces have wasted significant resources and lives probing the highly-fortified Russian defensive lines.

“The Ukrainians are yet to push deeply into Russian defensive lines,” Rainer Sachs, the former head of Estonian Foreign Intelligence who until about a month ago believed that Kiev had been successful in “creating the preconditions” for an offensive, said this week. “Russia considers it very important to hold onto the southern part of the front, so more defensive lines have been built there,” the intelligence analyst said. The term ‘Surovikin Line’ is actually a product of Western tabloid media, and was originally used to mock Russia’s military preparations, and dismissed as “grandiosely senseless” and “completely insane in terms of uselessness – but wildly expensive in terms of execution cost.” The past weeks have proven otherwise, with President Putin announcing late last week that despite some local gains, Ukrainian forces failed to penetrate even the first layer of the network of defensive lines anywhere along the front, instead becoming trapped and facing horrendous casualties.

“US intelligence had predicted only modest territorial gains for the Ukrainian spring offensive because Russian defensive preparations have been so extensive,” former US Army combat arms and HQ staff officer David T. Pyne told Sputnik. Citing reports that Ukrainian troops have taken ten times more casualties and lost three times more tanks than Russian forces in the past two weeks, Pyne said that “the longer the counteroffensive continues, the heavier Ukrainian casualties will be and the more vulnerable Ukraine will be to a Russian counteroffensive that could enable Russia to take control over western Donetsk [Region] and perhaps Kharkov [Region] as well.” If that happens, Pyne said, “the peace terms Russia will offer will likely be significantly worse than the peace terms it is offering Ukraine today.” Accordingly, he said, “Western leaders must face the reality that there is no chance Ukraine can defeat Russia and therefore we must negotiate the best deal for Ukraine we can get without further delay.”

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“Russia’s nuclear triad allows for effective and guaranteed strategic deterrence and maintains the global balance of power..”

Putin: Half Of Strategic Missile Units Rearmed With Hypersonic Systems (TASS)

About half of the units of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force have been equipped with the latest Yars missile systems and are being rearmed with modern Avangard warheads, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “About half of the Strategic Missile Force units are now equipped with the latest Yars systems. Rearmament with modern missile systems carrying Avangard hypersonic warheads is in progress,” Putin said at a meeting with graduates of military academies on Wednesday. He stressed that the strengthening and development of the army and reliable security of the country had always been and remained an unconditional priority.

“In light of the new challenges and invaluable experience of the special military operation we will continue to improve the Armed Forces in every possible way,” he said, adding that the most important task here was to develop the nuclear triad as the key guarantee of Russia’s military security and global stability. Putin also announced that new Sarmat missile launchers would enter duty soon. “In the near future, the first launchers of the Sarmat complex with a new heavy missile will be put on combat duty,” he said. “The arsenals of aviation and naval components of strategic nuclear forces are being replenished in strict accordance with the timetable,” he stressed.

In particular, he noted, the lead submarine of the Borey-A project had been commissioned and in January 2023 the frigate Admiral Gorshkov left base on a combat duty mission. Putin stressed that this ship was designed to perform tasks in the blue water zones and carried the newest hypersonic missiles Tsirkon. “Russia’s nuclear triad allows for effective and guaranteed strategic deterrence and maintains the global balance of power,” Putin concluded, adding that it was an embodiment of many years of tremendous efforts by domestic enterprises, design bureaus, workers, engineers and military and civilian specialists.

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The future is hypersonic.

Putin Reveals Future Of Russian Armed Forces (RT)

Strengthening the armed forces is one of Russia’s top priorities, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with graduates of military academies in Moscow on Wednesday. The nation’s military will evolve on the basis of the “priceless experience” provided by the ongoing military operation in Ukraine, as well as the modern challenges Russia is facing, he added. Russia’s nuclear triad will remain a focus of the military development efforts, Putin said, adding that it remains “a key guarantee of Russia’s military security and global stability.” Around half of Russia’s strategic land-based missile units have already been equipped with state-of-the-art Yars missiles – some of Russia’s most modern nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, Putin revealed.

The troops also continue to receive the hypersonic Avangard gliders, the president said. Such systems are fitted on silo-based ICBMs. The military will also be further supplied with hypersonic anti-ship Zircon missiles, to be used by the Navy, as well as air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. New Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles are also about to enter combat duty, Putin added. The modernization will not be limited to nuclear weapons only, the president explained. Heavy armor, air defense systems, and the production of drones will all be upgraded, he said. “We have yet to do much for a quality upgrade of all parts of our Armed Forces,” Putin said, adding that Russia “is delivering on those plans to the fullest.” The Russian defense industries in particular are expected to “boost mass production” of drones and “robotized strike systems” that have “demonstrated good results in combat,” the president said. According to Putin, every Russian military unit down to a platoon should be equipped with such systems.

His words came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow is potentially ready for a conflict with NATO if the military bloc decides to attack Russia. “Well, let them fight, we are ready for this,” he said. Putin has described the conflict in Ukraine as a hybrid war between Russia and “the entire Western military machine.” The statements came amid the continued Ukrainian offensive, which was launched earlier in June. The operation had been touted by Ukrainian and Western officials for several months but has so far failed to yield any major results. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Kiev’s troops have suffered heavy casualties in their attacks on Russian positions. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also described the Russian defense as “well prepared.”

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”Don’t rule out an insurrection in Ukraine if war deaths become unsustainable for the society.”

Biden Walks Back On Ukraine’s NATO Accession (Bhadrakumar)

Biden’s remark on Saturday that the US is “not going to make it easy” for Ukraine to join the NATO can only be seen as a retrogressive journey into the past. Biden underscored that Ukraine will be required to meet the “same standards” as any other member of the bloc, implying that Ukraine must conform to the so-called Membership Action Plan or MAP, which requires a candidate nation to make military and democratic reforms, with NATO’s advice and assistance, before a determination of membership can be made. The MAP process can take years. Macedonia took 21 years. Biden’s remark is not only a signal to Kiev but comes at a time when there is a groundswell of opinion within the alliance that Europe and the US must provide Ukraine clear-cut NATO security guarantees, which is important for the future of European security.

In fact, Biden spoke only 4 days after meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, at the White House last Tuesday, where, reportedly, the latter sought to simplify the accession process for Ukraine on the plea that Kiev had already made significant progress toward membership. What prompted Biden to take a hard line? Poland’s President Andrzej Duda declared, in the run-up to his talks in Paris on June 12 with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Weimar Triangle format, that Ukraine would like to have “a very concrete perspective … of joining the North Atlantic Alliance.” Duda hoped that the NATO summit in Vilnius will “send a positive message to Kiev, …that Ukraine’s future membership in NATO is clearly visible.”

Apparently, there was consensus amongst the Weimar Triangle members also that Ukraine should receive security guarantees. Scholz declared: “It is evident that we need something like this, and we need it in a very concrete form.” Macron endorsed, calling for a rapid agreement on “tangible and credible security guarantees.” Indeed, there have been threatening noises too that if there is no concretisation on Ukraine’s membership in Vilnius, some of the “hardcore” allies may take things into their own hands, and the renegade undertaking – at the national level –- could also include stationing of troops from NATO members in Ukraine. Now, Biden has ignored these demands from Old and New Europeans. He is confident he can shift the goal post. Maybe, Macron and Scholz are only playing to the gallery? We may never know.

The heart of the matter is that Biden realises that the ongoing Ukrainian offensive is heading for a train crash and the decimation of Kiev’s remaining army. It is uncertain how long Kiev will be able to recruit enough soldiers. The two figures whom Washington had groomed for precisely the sort of Plan B in Kiev that it needs now — commander of the armed forces Gen. Valeri Zaluzhny and spy chief Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov — are out of reckoning, having been put out of action summarily by recent Russian missile strikes. Don’t rule out an insurrection in Ukraine if war deaths become unsustainable for the society. Biden also sees that there is continuously shrinking approval in America for his war policy, which could possibly endanger his re-election. Biden pointed out to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky during his last visit to Kiev that the funds that Washington could provide were limited. And CIA chief William Burns separately left a message with Zelensky that continued American military assistance beyond July is problematic.

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“acute deficit of mutual trust.”

Moscow Issues Warning Over ‘Nuclear Winter’ (RT)

Global arms control is mired in an unprecedented crisis, triggered primarily by the actions of the West, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov claimed on Tuesday. Speaking at the PIR Center, a Russian think tank specializing in nuclear non-proliferation, Ryabkov argued that the issue had been building for some time, and had been exacerbated by US and Western attempts to “actively use coercion and violence in unsuccessful attempts to strengthen their global positions.” Those actions could be exemplified by the bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia, the US invasion of Iraq, and NATO’s “destabilizing” eastward expansion, the diplomat said.

At the same time, Washington and NATO “categorically refused” Russia’s proposals to create a comprehensive security framework in Europe, Ryabkov insisted. Instead, they embraced a course seeking to “deliberately and maliciously” fan the Ukraine conflict and inflict a “strategic defeat” on Moscow – all of which affected areas of contact with the West, including regarding arms control, he added. According to the diplomat, the problem could potentially be remedied by dialogue between the US and Russia, which hold the largest nuclear arsenals on the planet. “However, that’s all in theory. In practice… Washington is clearly not ready to revise its destructive course seeking to undermine our security. And how long such a ‘frosty winter’ in this field will last is anyone’s guess. This is not fatal in itself, as long as it doesn’t spiral into a nuclear winter!”

Ryabkov said that Moscow had noted Washington’s proposal to discuss arms control separately from other issues in bilateral relations. However, by endorsing this “compartmentalization,” the US wants to push the red lines even further in a bid to undermine Russia’s national security, the diplomat claimed. Against this backdrop, arms control talks are unlikely to be productive unless the US and the West “dramatically change their aggressive anti-Russia policies,” Rybakov argued. In early June, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington was ready to engage in arms control discussions with Russia and China “without preconditions.” Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov welcomed the suggestion, but noted that Moscow should understand the specifics of the proposals, which he said came at a time of an “acute deficit of mutual trust.”

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You don’t know what Ukraine will look like “after the conflict is over”.

France Has NATO-for-Truce Plan For Ukraine – Media (RT)

The French government may attempt to lure Kiev to the negotiating table with Russia by offering support for Ukraine’s accession to NATO after the conflict is over, French media reports. According to Le Monde, this approach was discussed at the Elysee Palace on Monday last week by the French Defense Council. The hope is that if Ukraine joins the US-led military bloc, this would deter further hostilities, according to the report on Tuesday. A military source told the newspaper that the French position is “closer to that of Poland than that of Germany.” Russia considers NATO a hostile organization and has called attempts to include Ukraine in the bloc a ‘red line’ for national security.

Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring country last year after NATO members refused to discuss its security concerns. The organization was quietly absorbing Ukraine without formally including it, Russian officials claimed. The deliberations in Paris come ahead of a summit of NATO leaders which will take place in Lithuania next month. Last week, US President Joe Biden poured cold water on hopes that Ukraine’s candidacy would be fast-tracked. He stated that the country would have to meet the same standards as everyone else and that “we are not going to make it easy.” The Biden administration is reportedly siding with the cautious German position rather than with Poland and other countries which want to see a swift roadmap for Ukraine to join NATO.

According to the New York Times, Kiev may instead receive an upgrade of relations with the bloc to the council level – the same that Russia once had – and a pledge of continued arms supplies. Kiev demands the full withdrawal of Russian troops from territory that Ukraine claims before any peace talks. A ‘peace plan’ promoted by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky demands this, as well as reparations and other concessions. Moscow has rejected the proposal, calling it detached from reality.

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And then Biden calls Xi a dictator…

Pressure on US Dollar, Debt Drove Blinken Effort to Mend Ties With China (Sp.)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken likely sought to stabilize relations with Beijing because Washington has begun to feel pressure from China’s withdrawal of support for the dollar and the enormous US government deficit, analysts told Sputnik. From June 18-19, Blinken visited China for talks with President Xi Jinping, Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi and other senior officials. During the trip, the secretary highlighted the importance of maintaining open channels of communication and made clear that the United States will responsibly manage the competition so that the relationship does not veer into conflict. “The United States is feeling itself squeezed and probably needs to make nice with China,” Krainer Analytics founder Alex Krainer told Sputnik.

“The United States has painted itself into a corner with China: they want to do their usual destabilization/regime change thing, except China is still the second largest creditor the United States has, and it has been getting rid of the US debt quite aggressively over the last two years.” Now China and Russia are increasingly shifting to national currencies in their trade and that could lead to many other nations abandoning the dollar and triggering a huge financial crisis in the United States, Krainer warned. “If they [the Chinese] continue to dump US treasuries, they could depress its price, push interest rates higher and trigger a selling stampede by other nations as well. This is one of the biggest risks that the United States is facing,” he said.

Independent Institute Center for Peace & Liberty President Ivan Eland believes that Blinken’s trip was meant to stop the relationship between Washington and Beijing from deteriorating even further. “The Biden administration was concerned that US relations with China were sinking to dangerous levels. His meeting with Xi, itself noteworthy, did not produce many tangible breakthroughs but did seem to stop the free fall in bilateral ties,” he said. A mild thaw in relations could set in, but there are still no indications of any major progress on defusing potential sources of serious hostilities, Eland cautioned. “It is likely now that US-Chinese economic relations will get better. However, [there is] still no Chinese agreement for military-to-military ties improving – including deconfliction of military operations,” he said.

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The essence:

“He will plead to a couple of misdemeanors on tax violations without addressing how he actually made this money..”

The Hunter Biden ‘Controlled Demolition’ is Complete (Turley)

The House Oversight Committee has documented potentially millions in financial transfers from foreign sources to Biden family members. The labyrinth of LLC corporations and accounts used for the transfers seems designed to evade detection. Indeed, allegations from a trusted FBI source referenced payments that were being made to the Bidens without directly involving “the big guy.” That was the name allegedly used for President Biden after associates insisted that no one should use his name. Attorney General Merrick Garland took the most important step in pulling off the controlled demolition by steadfastly refusing to appoint a special counsel. Such an appointment would allow the release of a report that would detail the alleged corrupt practices of the Biden family and the knowledge and involvement of the president. It is the essential framing used in demolition to avoid broad blast effects.

The second key is the charge. In buildings, you have to use just enough explosives to take out supports to collapse the structure in on itself. In scandals, it comes down to the criminal charges. You need an assortment of minor charges to suggest equal justice without anything large enough to cause collateral damage to others. It also has to be minor enough to get Hunter to take one for the team. The Hunter plea is the perfect charge load for the scandal. He will plead to a couple of misdemeanors on tax violations without addressing how he actually made this money. The gun charge looks like a serious threat for incarceration, but it is little more than a phantom felony count under which Hunter will be allowed to go into a diversion program and ultimately negate the violation.

The problem for those seeking to drop this scandal in a confined fashion is that the House GOP is now investigating the influence-peddling scandal. The Democrats’ loss of the House in 2022 was a huge blow to the Biden team and, when the new Congress was sworn in, it was essential to enter a plea deal before the release of more serious evidence. In May, I called it a “capstone plea” to make it more difficult for the Justice Department to be pressured into stronger action. The House will push ahead, but the media has already imposed another blackout on coverage. The challenge for the White House is that this plea could come at a tactical cost. If this is the end of the Hunter Biden investigation, the Justice Department and FBI will have a more difficult time withholding evidence on the basis of an “ongoing investigation.” That is why it is a bit suspicious to see U.S. Attorney David Weiss state that that there is an “ongoing investigation.”

Read more …


Economic Cutbacks Making British Kids Shorter (RT)

British five-year-olds who grew up in the era of austerity are shorter than their peers in other developed nations by as much as 7cm (2.76in), according to data from the Non-Communicable Diseases Risk Factor Collaboration published by The Times on Tuesday. Since 1985, when British boys and girls both ranked 69 for average height at five years out of 200 listed countries, their ranking has plummeted dramatically – to 102 for boys and 96 for girls, putting them behind countries as diverse as Canada, Kyrgyzstan, and Cuba. Comparing the numbers to data on 19-year-olds, Professor Tim Cole of University College London’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health suggested to The Times that growing up in the 2010s “period of austerity” was what “clobbered the height of children in the UK.” The height of British five-year-olds peaked in 2011 at 112.8cm (44.4in) and has been falling ever since, the statistics show.

Because height is affected not just by quality and quantity of food but also stress, poverty, illness, and even sleep quality, Cole argued it is a uniquely “sensitive” indicator of living conditions. “It’s quite clear we are falling behind, relative to Europe,” he said. “In modern Britain, the way we eat is one of the clearest markers of inequality,” former UK government food adviser Henry Dimbleby told The Times, pointing out that “children in the poorest areas of England are both fatter and significantly shorter than those in the richest areas at age ten to eleven.” Family doctors in low-income areas have reported an “extraordinary” surge in the kind of nutritional-deficiency-borne diseases prevalent during Victorian times, Dimbleby explained. According to NHS data, 700 children are admitted to English hospitals every year with rickets, scurvy, or other forms of malnutrition, while nutrition charity The Food Foundation has found higher rates of type 2 diabetes and dental decay as well as obesity in poorer children.

“A diet of cheap junk food has the peculiar quality that it can make you simultaneously overweight and undernourished.” It is not just European countries like the Netherlands and Lithuania which outperform Britain. According to the study, China and North Korea both raise taller five-year-olds than the UK. Even five-year-olds in Libya – born and raised after the NATO bombing campaign that helped to overthrow their government and turn the country into a failed state – are taller (boys) or as tall (girls) compared to their British counterparts. Austerity has been linked to a host of socioeconomic problems in the UK, from soaring inequality to declining educational achievement. While supporters argue the program enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis was necessary to rescue a floundering economy, critics have countered that the damage done outweighs any benefits.

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Not enough.

House Votes to Censure Rep. Adam Schiff (ET)

The House of Representatives voted to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on June 21, a week after an initial resolution to do so was tabled. The measure passed along party lines on a vote of 213–209. Six Republicans voted “present.” The resolution, introduced by Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), denounces Schiff, a Democrat, for allegedly perpetuating misinformation against former President Donald Trump. With the passing of the resolution, Schiff has been referred to the House Ethics Committee for investigation. The resolution was privileged and therefore triggered a House vote. In last week’s vote, 20 Republicans joined 205 Democrats to table the initial resolution.

The revised resolution was similar to the initial one, with the notable difference being that it doesn’t include a $16 million fine for Schiff should he be held accountable by the House Ethics Committee for his alleged “falsehoods, misrepresentations, and abuses of sensitive information.” The proposed $16 million fine is half of the taxpayer cost of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The new resolution, like the tabled one, condemns Schiff, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for perpetuating the notion there was collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. That was debunked by Mueller in 2019, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz later the same year, and special counsel John Durham in May. Durham testified on June 20 at a closed-door hearing before the House Intelligence Committee and also gave testimony in a public hearing on June 21 in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

Additionally, the new resolution didn’t state that “Schiff used his position and access to sensitive information to instigate a fraudulently based investigation, which he then used to amass political gain and fundraising dollars.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gave credence on June 15 to the 20 House Republicans that joined Democrats in tabling the initial resolution. “I think everybody knows my thoughts of Adam Schiff,” McCarthy told The Epoch Times. “That’s why I removed him from [the House Intelligence Committee]. … You have a number of members on principle that sat and argued for the last four years with President [Donald] Trump that you had to have due process and voted that way. And I think a number of them believe that they should [have] gone to [the House Ethics Committee] first.”

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Very disappointing. 5 years?!

How many of these half-assed investigations, include also Hunter Biden, can the country take?

Durham: FBI Overlooked Intel Clinton Masterminded Plot To Smear Trump (JTN)

Former special counsel John Durham testified Wednesday that the FBI overlooked intelligence that Hillary Clinton had approved a plan to smear former President Donald Trump with Russia allegations and treated the two campaigns disparately during the 2016 election. Durham confirmed that the CIA had received intelligence about Clinton approving a plan to make Russia allegations against Trump as a means of distracting from her classified email scandal. The prosecutor said the FBI did not “sufficiently scrutinize information it received” and did not “apply the same standards to allegations it received about the Clinton and Trump campaigns.” “The FBI was too willing to accept and use politically funded and uncorroborated opposition research, such as the Steele dossier,” he said during the House Judiciary Committee hearing.

“The FBI relied on the dossier and FISA applications, knowing there was likely material originating from a political campaign or political opponent.” He told the House panel that “it’s going to take time to rebuild the public’s confidence in the institution” of the FBI after the agency’s handling of the so-called Russia collusion probe. Durham, appointed as a Justice Department special counsel in 2020 to investigate the matter, has said there was no evidence of collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials when the FBI probe was launched. “There were some individuals who clearly expressed a personal bias” against Trump, Durham told the committee, following the release in May of his final report on the now-discredited Russian collusion probe.

Under questioning from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, Durham said former FBI Director Jim Comey withheld a referral memorandum from the agents working the Crossfire Hurricane case that contained information about then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s attempts to tie Trump to Russia. The memo contained intelligence from a high-level briefing with Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan. Durham testified that then-President Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch received the same briefing from Brennan. “They kept key intelligence from the investigators. This is how bad this investigation was but here’s the scary part: I don’t think anything has changed,” Jordan said.

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Tire dog





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Sep 042017
 September 4, 2017  Posted by at 3:34 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »

Detail of a fresco from the House of the Tragic Poet, Pompeii, 2nd century BC


About a month ago, I finished reading former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’ book “Adults in the Room”, subtitled “My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment”, and published by The Bodley Head. I started writing about it right away, but noticed I was writing more about my personal ideas and experiences related to Greece than about the book. So I let it rest a bit.

I read the book in, of all places, Athens, sitting outside various old-style cafés. That got me a lot of reactions from Greeks seeing the cover of the book, most of them negative, somewhat to my surprise. Many Greeks apparently do not like Varoufakis. Of course I asked all the time why that is. “He’s arrogant” was/is a frequent one.

That’s not very helpful, I find, since first of all, it’s a purely subjective judgment, and second, I’m convinced their views come to a large extent from Greek media coverage, not only during Yanis’ term as finance minister from January to July 2015, but also in the years leading up to it. And Greek media are all controlled by ‘oligarchs’ et al, who certainly do not like either Yanis or the Syriza party he represented as minister.

The irony is that Varoufakis received more -individual- votes in the January 2015 election that brought Syriza to power than any other party member. And in the July 5 referendum 61.3% of Greeks voted against -yet- another bailout, very much in line with what Varoufakis had proposed. So there was a time when he was popular.

One guy said: ”he should be in jail”. When I asked why, the response was something like “they should all be in jail”, meaning politicians. Which is a bit curious, because whatever Varoufakis may be, a politician he is not. And the Greeks know that. They are very disappointed, and often depressed, by what has happened to them, of course they are. But why they would think Yanis is responsible for that is much less clear. Other then: “they’re all responsible”.

The best line in my opinion came from someone who said he thought Varoufakis was wrong for getting involved with Greek politics in the first place, a pit -as is the EU- replete with slithering venomous snakes. That I understand. That he should never have become minister since it could only have ended badly because of the corruption and backstabbing at all levels. I’m guessing Yanis himself has thought that too at times.

But at the same time, I remain convinced, as I’m sure he does, that he genuinely did it to help his people -who were already in terrible shape in late 2014 when he decided to run, and are much worse off now. And that’s not all. He would never have done it if he hadn’t had a plan to make things better. He did. If anything, that’s the key to his story.

And if his one-time friend, PM Tsipras, had not been paralyzed with fear at the last moment, that plan might well have worked. Yanis is an economist, and a game theorist at that. And though he has always insisted game theory was not the basis of what he did as minister, and rightly so because it’s not a game, there’s one aspect of what happened that comes straight from that field.

That is, before he agreed to run for finance minister, as he writes in the book, he tells Tsipras and his closest Syriza confidants that because Greece is very weak vs the Troika, they are not in any position to bluff. Meaning, if they are going to follow ‘the plan’, they must follow it to the end, in other words, they must be willing to walk away from the Troika, from the EU.

Not because they want to, but because the rules of the game demand it. When you’re weak, you cannot afford to blink. Yanis based his plan on letting the other side blink first, as he felt they would have to if only Greece did not. That’s what the whole thing was based on. And then, after -or rather, even before- winning the NO referendum, Tsipras blinked.

And yes, you can blame Varoufakis for that: for not making sure that would not happen. For putting trust where none was warranted. But the alternative would have been to stay in Texas and see his country perish. He was asked to join, he had a plan he believed in, what was he supposed to do?


“[The book] reads like a train”, says a Dutch review of Adults in the Room. And it does. Yanis proves a talented writer in the ‘genre’, which is not his by trade -so to speak-, of a day-to-day description of a series of events, conversations, confrontations with Greek, European and global political elites -with the occasional economist thrown in here and there-. The fact that he recorded many of the conversations on his iPhone, and undoubtedly made notes of many things as they happened, makes it a very compelling read. It’s obvious he’s not making it up, that he wrote down what actually happened -much of it word for word-. Seen through his eyes, of course.

As much as it reads like a train though, it also reads like a trainwreck. The portraits Yanis paints of many of the individuals he encounters, as well as of the institutions they represent, are often as painful as they are damning. Still, that is not what he sets out to do, as many of those who find their names in the book will undoubtedly claim. They are simply the portraits that emerge as events unfold.

In the world of power politics, this should not be a great surprise. But the picture of the dynamics that ‘control’ the European Union and it representatives, as well as the Troika institutions, the IMF, ECB, Eurogroup and European Commission, becomes, as we read along, more and more that of one familiar to us through the Godfather and the Sopranos. For many of the ‘players’ that appear on the scene, a comparison to ‘made men’ in the mafia is hard to avoid. Only, without a proper code of honor. A conversation Yanis describes in the introduction of the book makes this ‘analogy’ even more striking. He’s talking to Larry Summers, former US Treasury Secretary, who talks about insiders and outsiders.

“I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People – powerful people – listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.”

That’s obvious stuff. Except that this quote is from another book, US Senator Elizabeth Warren’s “A Fighting Chance”, and it’s almost verbatim the same as the one in Yanis’ book. It’s just politics. In the same way that Vito Corleone says: “it’s not personal, Sonny, it’s strictly business”. And Larry Summers is a consiglieri who spreads the gospel. Like it was once spread to him.

How do you become an insider, a made man? By committing to ‘the cause’, the family, through performing acts, initiation rituals. In the mob, that act is mostly murder, in the EU it’s something else, like obliterating the Greek economy. Or, in the case of European Council president Donald Tusk or First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, incessantly badmouthing Vladimir Putin. That gets you in. We know this because neither Tusk nor Timmermans had any other outstanding achievements to their names before they landed their top jobs.

So that gets you in. But into what, exactly? That’s a very opaque issue, and Varoufakis’ book doesn’t shine much light on it. Which is not a criticism, that’s not what he set out to do. Still, when he writes that in many occasions, as he tries to talk to for instance the assembled Eurogroup (all EU finance ministers plus -often- ECB head Mario Draghi and IMF head Christine Lagarde) about actual policies and plans, he “might as well have been singing the Swedish national anthem”, the opaqueness is the only thing that does ‘shine’.

A question that occurred to me, repeatedly, was how many of the people he tries to discuss issues with, actually understand what he’s talking about. For instance, once you delve into the specifics of debt swaps, what the benefits of one sort of bond are over others, you need a specific kind of knowledge, something an experienced investment banker or economist would have.

Schäuble’s a lawyer. Dijsselbloem’s an ‘agricultural economist’, whatever that may be. If you want to prevent any discussion on issues, what better than to put people in place who are -by education, by intelligence- simply not able to discuss them?


Not even Yanis, in my view, condemns Merkel and Schäuble and Dijsselbloem and a whole host of other characters in Brussels, Athens and beyond, strongly enough. Because the mob truly resides in Brussels -and Athens is truly corrupt. And Berlin. No matter how many times you may hear, or say, that something is simply politics, or it’s simply business, and nothing personal, it is very much personal and we should never accept it as normal human behavior.

That is the most damning issue Varoufakis brings up, but he doesn’t do that strong enough. When he seals a deal with China’s ambassador to Greece for Beijing to invest in Greece’s ports and railways, Angela Merkel calls the Chinese to tell them to back off; Germany’s not done with Greece yet. When current French President Emmanuel Macron, who was Economy Minister in 2015, sought to help Greece, Merkel called then-President Hollande to order him to get Macron ‘off the case’.

The European Union is undemocratic in myriad ways. What Varoufakis lays bare in his book, and then fails to utterly condemn, is that it is also undemocratic in the ‘ultimate’ way. That is, no country has anything to say except Germany. The EU’s largest member country decides everything. Not that Berlin sweats the small stuff, mind you, others are allowed to keep the illusion of democracy alive there.

But as soon as big decisions are made, finance, defense, there is one voice only that counts. That is the final nail in Europe’s coffin, even if it remains hidden very well. But spell that out loud and clear to the French people, or the Italians, that they have nothing at all to say about their own country and their own laws anymore, that the Germans decide FOR them, and what do you think they will say?

The very concept of a sovereign country, and the Union officially has 27 of them left, has turned into a joke inside the EU. Plus, Merkel and Macron and Brussels are calling for more Europe. Go to a supreme court in any EU country and tell them their own governments have lost all power over money and economics, and what do you think their constitutions will say? Care to define sovereignty?

So tell people that. Tell them that in reality Angela Merkel is their ‘leader’, not the people they have voted for. Ironically and unfortunately, the right wing regimes in eastern Europe may prove to be the ones who point this out first. Which is in line with how Brexit came about, and Trump, but in the end what all this really exposes is that we are all lied to three ways to Sunday, every day of the week.

Perhaps just as ironically, Varoufakis now leads a movement, named DiEM 25, that seeks to democratize the EU. I wish him all the good and then some with that, but I don’t see it. Because you would have to ‘overthrow’ Germany’s dictatorship of Europe, and get Germany to agree to being voluntarily ‘overthrown’. Why would Berlin ever agree to that? That’s even less likely than them agreeing to Varoufakis’ ideas about saving the Greek economy.

I’ve said it many times before, Europe’s nations can work together in many different ways, and the EU is just one of them, and it’s a very bad option. But reforming the EU from within does not look to me to be the way to go. It’s like reforming the US Republican or Democratic parties: they’re rotten to the core; why not start something new that doesn’t come with the whole deep-state-style burden?


You will hear and see a lot about how Yanis is naive and/or didn’t know what he was doing and proposing. But the only way in which he may have been naive is that he believed common sense would ultimately rule Europe. He might still have been right, if Tsipras et al had not choked. Which he told them repeatedly before he became Finance Minister would be fatal for Greece. He was right on that too, but he’ll find no pleasure in it.

His fault is that he didn’t – and doesn’t- want to ‘play the game’. That game is the only one in town, and it consists of keeping the established order in charge of everything, and of enhancing that power. It’s about politics, not economics. Or rather, the prevalent economic models suit the power elite just fine, so much so that their very faults help them stay in power, and nobody wants better models.

For trying to swim against that stream, you can blame Yanis, but that is the world turned upside down. Because if you look just a little bit closer, you can see that the present model is not only riddled with nonsensical assumptions, it is, because it is, destroying formerly sovereign nations.

For trying to prevent his country, Greece, from becoming the first nation in the formerly rich world to fall prey to that new-fangled colonialist model, Varoufakis deserves praise, not scorn. Do remember that when you see yet another ‘serious’ reviewer ridicule him for being naive. As in: who’s naive, you or Yanis? Is one naive for not kneeling before dictatorship disguised as democracy?


One last issue. It is often mentioned that the reason Brussels acts the way it does towards Greece is to scare off other EU members from ‘trying the same’, i.e. go against the rules set by the EU -which we, thanks to Yanis, know means Germany, and Germany only. But I don’t think that is true. It’s not about going against the EU; it’s doing anything. whatever it is, that would endanger the banks.

What the -scandalous- treatment of EU member and sovereign country Greece reveals is that it’s in the end not even Angela Merkel who calls the shots, but the main German, French, Dutch banks. Why the British would want to remain members of that kind of cabal will never cease to amaze me, but why their banks would does not in the least.

But yeah, so, the banks. That’s where it all started. Europe’s main banks lent Greek banks and corporations, all as corrupt as can be, money ‘up the wazoo’. When that could not be paid back this debt was not restructured, as it would be in any normal bankruptcy case, it was transferred first to the EU and then directly to Greek pensioners and other citizens. That is why Greece is in such a deplorable state.

The banks who made the loans were made whole, through a trick that hadn’t been tried before -and may not have been 100% legal but who cares about law in the EU?- and the entire mess was unloaded upon Greek society. Which is now in an even much bigger mess, with no end in sight, than when Varoufakis became finance minister. He knew that was coming and tried to prevent it.

What Merkel et al have done is to make sure that this ‘salvation’ of Deutsche Bank, Crédit Agricole et al will not be in peril. That’s more important to the system than Portugal or Italy questioning the powers of Berlin or Brussels. It’s not about scaring off other countries, it’s about safe-guarding the banks. It’s not about economics, it’s about raw political power.

In the next economic downfall, watch that dynamic. I’ve often said that the general principle of globalization/centralization, of which the EU is a good example, cannot stand in times of negative growth, because people won’t accept decisions about their lives being taken by far-away ‘leaders’ unless they think they can profit from it.

Wait till the realization dawns that Europe, like the rest of the world, only looks sort of okay because debt levels are rising everywhere. Mario Draghi still buys tens of billions of euros in ‘paper assets’ every month. That’s the European economy, that’s all that keeps it looking good, that’s the pig and that’s the lipstick, right there.

But forst and foremost, read the book. Yanis Varoufakis: “Adults in the Room”, subtitled “My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment”, published by The Bodley Head. If you’re at all interested in Greece, politics, economics, Michael Corleone, the EU, the IMF and/or the Sopranos. It reads like a train.

And it tells you a lot about how the world does (not) work. From the inside, and you don’t get to have a lot of views from the inside. “Adults in the Room” is a rare chance. The ruling powers will keep trying to discredit Yanis, but the more they do, the more you should be alerted.