Henri Matisse The terrace, St. Tropez 1904
And then, Nuland set him straight. pic.twitter.com/5N2NwT03kE
— Ghost of Zeepo (@mdfzeh) August 26, 2022
Biden showering with his daughter is creepy as hell, but for me it’s more: what if Ivanka had written this about her dad? He would have been crucified.
Rumble CEO: We'll do whatever it takes to hold the line for free speech pic.twitter.com/STudLf8jQK
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2023) August 27, 2022
“..the NATO-Bandera alliance..”
Europe is now a runaway TGV – minus the requisite Hollywood production values. Assuming it does not veer off track – a dicey proposition – it may eventually arrive at a railway station called Agenda 2030, The Great Narrative, or some other NATO/Davos denomination du jour. As it stands, what’s remarkable is how the “marginal” Russian economy hardly broke a sweat to “end the abundance” of the wealthiest region on the planet. Moscow does not even entertain the notion of negotiating with Brussels because there’s nothing to negotiate – considering puny Eurocrats will only be hurled away from their zombified state when the dire socio-economic consequences of “the end of abundance” will finally translate into peasants with pitchforks roaming the continent.
It may be eons away, but inevitably the average Italian, German or Frenchman will connect the dots and realize it is their own “leaders” – national nullities and mostly unelected Eurocrats – who are paving their road to poverty. You will be poor. And you will like it. Because we are all supporting freedom for Ukrainian neo-nazis. That brings the concept of “multicultural Europe” to a whole new level. The runaway train, of course, may veer off track and plunge into an Alpine abyss. In this case something might be saved from the wreckage – and “reconstruction” might be on the cards. But reconstruct what? Europe could always reconstruct a new Reich (collapsed with a bang in 1945); a soft Reich (erected at the end of WWII); or break with its past failures, sing “I’m Free” – and connect with Eurasia. Don’t bet on it.
The SMO may be about to radically change – something that will drive the already clueless denizens of US Think Tankland and their Euro vassals even more berserk. President Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu have been giving serious hints the only way for the pain dial is up – considering the mounting evidence of terrorism inside Russian territory; the vile assassination of Darya Dugina; non-stop shelling of civilians in border regions; attacks on Crimea; the use of chemical weapons; and the shelling of Zaporizhzhya power plant raising the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. This past Tuesday, one day before the SMO completing six months, Crimea’s permanent representative to the Kremlin, Georgy Muradov, all but spelled it out.
He stressed the necessity to “reintegrate all the Taurian lands” – Crimea, the Northern Black Sea and the Azov Sea – into a single entity as soon as “in the next few months”. He defined this process as “objective and demanded by the population of these regions.” Muradov added, “given not only the strikes on Crimea, but also the continuous shelling of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the dam of the Kakhovka reservoir, peaceful facilities on the territory of Russia, the DNR and LNR, there are all preconditions to qualify the actions of the Banderite regime as terrorist.” The conclusion is inevitable: “the political issue of changing the format of the special military operation” enters the agenda. After all, Washington and Brussels “have already prepared new anti-Crimean provocations of the NATO-Bandera alliance”.
So when we examine what the “restoration of the Taurian lands” implies, we see not only the contours of Novorossiya but most of all that there won’t be any security for Crimea – and thus Russia – in the Black Sea without Odessa becoming Russian again. And that, on top of it, will solve the Transnistria dilemma. Add to it Kharkov – the capital and top industrial center of Greater Donbass. And of course Dnipropetrovsk. They are all SMO objectives, the whole combo to be later protected by buffer zones in Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts. Only then the “tasks” – as Shoigu calls them – of the SMO would be declared fulfilled. The timeline could be eight to ten months – after a lull under General Winter.
“The ‘green delirium..’”
Former Czech President Vaclav Klaus has rejected the notion that the Ukrainian conflict has been the sole reason for the economic problems now experienced around the globe. “The issues that led to spiking inflation and to a huge increase in energy prices that we have now originated long before February 24” when Russia sent its troops into Ukraine, Klaus told outlet Seznam Sravy on Friday. “This is self-inflicted, this is self-inflicted by the West. The Russian invasion just added to that,”he insisted. Russia is a major supplier of gas, oil and coal, but it’s “just one of the players” on the international market, the 81-year-old economist, who was the Czech Republic’s president between 2003 and 2013, pointed out.
So, the reduction of supply of Russian hydrocarbons to the EU and soaring energy prices – which came as a result of sweeping sanctions imposed on Moscow by the bloc – just can’t be the number one cause for high inflation rates and soaring energy prices, Klaus insisted. “I don’t understand why the number one cause isn’t being mentioned. The ‘green delirium,’ the supposed fight against climate change and the EU’s Green Deal – that’s the fundamental cause for the rise in prices,” he said, referring to the Western attempts in recent years to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The ex-president has urged the sides involved to find a solution to the conflict in Ukraine, which has already been going on for half a year, warning that the situation will only “get worse and worse” if it’s not done soon. “It won’t be enough for the representatives of Ukraine and Russia to get together. It’s necessary for the West, especially the US, to start negotiating with Russia. Every person with at least some intelligence understands this,” he also remarked.
How news is fabricated. Michael Day at iNews.uk comes with this headline, but nowhere in his quotes is it repeated. Instead, China simply called on both sides to be careful. And of course the article talks about Russian shelling, which we know is nonsensical. Russia’s held the plant since March, and there was never an issue until Ukraine started firing at it. But yeah “Russian Roulette” sounds cute, and so does “China Calls On Putin To End..” [it].
China has issued a thinly veiled attack on Russia’s brinkmanship over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, as fears of disaster escalate following a near-miss at the site. A senior Chinese official told the UN on Friday that just one incident might cause a serious nuclear accident “with irreversible consequences for the ecosystem and public health of Ukraine and its neighbouring countries”. Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative at the UN, pointedly called on all parties involved “to exercise maximum restraint strictly abide by international law and minimise the risk of accidents”, adding: ”We must not allow the tragedies of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents to be repeated.”
In addition to an international public health emergency, a serious accident and radiation release at the plant would be another blow to the world economy, already severely impoacted by Covid-19 and the energy crisis. China’s warning is signficiant as it is perhaps the only world power with real influence over the Putin regime. Beijing issued its statement just hours after an incident at Zaporizhzhia – Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – when electricity was cut off for hours, according to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr Zelensky said Russian shelling on Thursday sparked fires in the ash pits of a nearby coal power station, wihch disconnected the Zaporozhzhia plant from the power grid. A Russian official claimed Ukraine was to blame.
Back-up diesel generators ensured that the power supply to the plant, vital for cooling and safety systems there, continued, Mr Zelensky said. He urged international bodies to act faster to force Russian troops to vacate the site, located in the south of country. Oleh Savitskyi, an energy policy expert with the Ukrainian Climate Network who has worked in the country’s ministry of energy and environment protection, told the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists (BOAS) that relying on back-up diesel generators was not enough “Russians are using Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as their military base, they could have been stealing that diesel fuel or using it for their vehicles. Nobody knows how much fuel is available,” he said.
Why do you have to hear this through RT, and not a US source, who should be all over it? Easy:
“..the fighter was killed not by Russian or allied forces, but by his fellow soldiers while “fleeing from the position.”
Another American has died in fighting in Ukraine, the US State Department revealed on Friday, confirming previous claims made by Russian officials. “We can confirm the death of a US citizen in Ukraine,” a US State Department spokesperson told Newsweek on Friday. “Out of respect for the privacy of the family, we have no further comment at this time.” On Friday, Oleg Kozhemyako, who serves as the governor of Russia’s Far Eastern Primorsky Region, said that the ‘Tiger’ military unit from his area had eliminated an American while repelling an attack from a group consisting of mercenaries from several countries.
“An American mercenary was destroyed in Ukraine,” he said on his Telegram, attaching photos of both a US passport and Ukrainian military service card, apparently issued in the name of Joshua Alan Jones. The ID documents say he was born in Tennessee and joined the Ukrainian Army on July 14 with the A3449 military unit. According to Andrey Rudenko, a Russian military reporter, the fighter was killed not by Russian or allied forces, but by his fellow soldiers while “fleeing from the position.” The State Department spokesperson offered a reminder that “US citizens should not travel to Ukraine, due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of US citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials.”
“US citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options,” the representative reiterated. Russia’s Ministry of Defense has repeatedly claimed it had destroyed foreign mercenaries in Ukraine, including by conducting high-precision missile strikes. Moreover, earlier this month, authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic said that three Western nationals accused of fighting as mercenaries for Ukraine could be sentenced to death while another two are facing up to eight years behind bars for the same reason. Earlier, the Russian Ministry of Defense warned that mercenaries aren’t viewed as combatants under international law and “the best thing that awaits them if they are captured alive is a trial and maximum prison terms.” s
Amnesty still feels queasy. More interesting is Duma Speaker Volodin:
“He and his inner circle ordered to bomb, shoot and kill peaceful citizens: the elderly, women, children. That is why Zelensky is doing everything to prevent the tribunal.
Amnesty International is against putting Ukrainian POWs on trial for alleged war crimes, insisting that Russia and Donbass are in no position to do so. Describing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as “Russian-backed armed groups,”the organization called the upcoming tribunals “illegal and abusive.” The organization also blasted the decision to set up the trials in the city of Mariupol, captured by Russian and Donbass forces during the ongoing conflict, saying it was “a further act of cruelty against a city.” “Any attempts by Russian authorities to try Ukrainian prisoners of war in so-called ‘international tribunals’ set up by armed groups under Russia’s effective control in Mariupol are illegal and unacceptable,” Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Marie Struthers, said in a statement on Friday.
The remarks echoed those recently made by top Ukrainian officials, including Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who threatened to cut any potential negotiations with Russia should Ukrainian POWs, primarily fighters of the notorious neo-Nazi Azov regiment, be placed on a “show trial.” “If this despicable show trial takes place … This will be the line beyond which any negotiations are impossible. Russia will cut itself off from any negotiations,” Zelensky said in a video address on Monday. Zelensky’s call, however, has been promptly snubbed by top Russian and Donbass officials, with the head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, stating such threats will have “no effect” on the tribunal plans.
“The data on 80 counts of crimes committed by the Azov has been collected, 23 people have been arrested and are in custody,” Pushilin stated. Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin issued a darker warning in response to Zelensky’s threats, suggesting the public hearings will expose Kiev’s crimes, which is why the Ukrainian president rightfully fears them. “He and the Kiev regime have reasons to be afraid,” Volodin said. “He and his inner circle ordered to bomb, shoot and kill peaceful citizens: the elderly, women, children. That is why Zelensky is doing everything to prevent the tribunal.”
“The biggest flaw [of sanctions] is that full or partial embargoes are not being enforced by over 100 countries with 40% of world GDP..”
The harsh sanctions imposed on Russia by the West over the conflict in Ukraine have so far been unable to deliver the desired result, The Economist magazine has acknowledged, adding that the strategy has “flaws.” “Worryingly, so far the sanctions war is not going as well as expected,” the British publication said in its article on Thursday, insisting that the effectiveness of economic restrictions on Moscow “is key to the outcome of the Ukraine war.” “Russia’s GDP will shrink by 6% in 2022, reckons the IMF, much less than the 15% drop many expected in March… Energy sales will generate a current-account surplus of $265 billion this year, the world’s second-largest after China. After a crunch, Russia’s financial system has stabilized and the country is finding new suppliers for some imports, including China,” it pointed out.
At the same time, the energy crisis, which has been provoked by the sanctions war, “may trigger a recession” in Europe, where gas prices spiked by another 20% this week, according to the British magazine. This all means that the expected “knockout blow [from restricting Russia] has not materialized,” The Economist said. “The unipolar moment of the 1990s, when America’s supremacy was uncontested, is long gone, and the West’s appetite to use military force has waned since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” it acknowledged. Economic restrictions “seemed” to be the new tool that would allow the US, EU and its allies to project their power globally, but the conflict in Ukraine has revealed that “the sanctions weapon has flaws,” it said.
One of those flaws is “the time lag,” the magazine continued. For example, “blocking [Russia’s] access to tech the West monopolizes takes years to bite,” it added. The Economist suggested that isolation from Western markets could only “cause havoc in Russia… on a three- to five-year horizon.” “The biggest flaw [of sanctions] is that full or partial embargoes are not being enforced by over 100 countries with 40% of world GDP,” the outlet insisted. “A globalized economy is good at adapting to shocks and opportunities, particularly as most countries have no desire to enforce Western policy.” With economic curbs failing to cripple the Russian economy, one should “discard any illusions that sanctions offer the West a cheap and asymmetric way to confront China” if it decides to use force against Taiwan, The Economist warned.
Hungary, Serbia, Turkey, who’s next?
Serbs would not have to save energy and reduce their consumption this winter thanks to Belgrade’s policies and gas imports from Russia, President Aleksandar Vucic told his fellow citizens in an address on Saturday. “There are no plans for electricity restrictions next winter,” he said, adding, however, that the situation in the energy field remains “extremely difficult.” At the same time, the Serbian cabinet is expected to provide “large discounts” to those who did save electricity this year in comparison to the previous one, he said. Such measures have become possible particularly due to gas imports from Russia, the Serbian leader believes. Serbia purchases 2 million cubic meters of gas – or between 63% and 64% of all gas it needs – from Russia and its total cost amounts to €800 million ($797 million), Vucic said, calling such a price “fantastic.”
If Belgrade had to buy gas at the current European market prices, it would go bankrupt, he said, arguing that the remaining 1.2 million cubic meters of gas – or around 36% of its total consumption – would cost Serbia €4.8 billion ($4.7 billion) now. “And our entire budget is around €13 billion,” the president said. Vucic also praised a deal Belgrade struck with Budapest that would see Hungary storing between 300 and 500 cubic meters of gas purchased by Serbia in its gas storages. The Serbian president’ comments come as the European gas prices continue to soar. September futures on the TTF hub in the Netherlands rose to nearly $3,500 per thousand cubic meters on Friday, according to data on the London ICE exchange.
Raytheon pay day. But this stuff won’t be ready for another two years. They are actively trying to create a 10-year war. Why would Russia wait that long, though?
The Pentagon has signed a $182-million deal with US arms manufacturer Raytheon to produce NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems) for the Ukrainian military. The work on short-and medium-range air defense weaponry will be conducted at Raytheon’s facilities in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, with an estimated completion date of August 23, 2024, the US Department of Defense said in a statement on Friday. Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden announced yet another military aid package for Ukraine amid its conflict with Russia. At $2.98 billion it is the largest to date, and will include six NASAMS systems.
The military assistance will be funded as part of the so-called Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), meaning the hardware will be specifically produced for Kiev, and not taken from US stocks. In an article earlier this month, Air Force Magazine described the NASAMS as a vital piece of technology that could help the Ukrainian forces to shoot down Russian cruise missiles, which have so far been hitting targets in the country “nearly unimpeded.” Moscow has long been critical of weapons supplies to Kiev by Washington and its allies, saying that they only prolong the conflict and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.
“In total, nearly 200,000 people have been declared ‘criminals’ over the five years.”
German politicians, a French actor, Victor Orban, Henry Kissinger, and of course as per last week, Roger Waters.
Mirotvorets, which compiles lists of ‘enemies of Ukraine’, has been operating with impunity for eight years. For the last eight years, a group of publicly unknown activists in Ukraine have been compiling lists of ‘enemies of the people’ with impunity. Hundreds of thousands have been declared criminals without trial. Among them are not only Russian citizens, but also Ukrainian opposition figures and bloggers, European politicians, and US citizens. At the very least, being added to this list is a stigma that makes life difficult in Ukraine, but it can also serve as justification for imprisonment or, in some cases, even being killed. This is exactly what happened last weekend to Daria Dugina, daughter of world-famous Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, who’s name also can be found on that list.
RT explains what is behind the Mirotvorets, or ‘Peacemaker’, website, whose creators seek to bring ‘peace’ to their country with the help of extrajudicial killings, and why the Ukrainian authorities have done nothing about this despite condemnation from the international community. What is Mirotvorets? The main page of the Ukrainian Mirotvorets website proclaims that the outlet represents a ‘Center for Research of Signs of Crimes against the National Security of Ukraine, Peace, Humanity, and the International Law’. It claims to have been created by a group of academics, journalists, and other specialists. However, their names are known to no one, and the outfit itself has never even been officially registered in Ukraine. Nevertheless, this organization has been in operation for nine years, since August 2014.
[..] As long as Mirotvorets was limiting itself to publishing information on Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea and Donbass, Ukrainian opposition politicians and journalists, and Russian residents and officials, the odious organization went unnoticed in the ‘civilized world’. But a scandal erupted in 2016, when Mirotvorets published information on employees of a host of media outlets, including the BBC, Reuters, Al Jazeera, AFP, Le Monde, the Guardian, Le Figaro, France 24, El Mundo, CBS News, CNN, Sky News, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Cheska Televize, Radio France, Channel 9 Australia, the Associated Press, Japan TV, the Daily Mail, Die Welt, the Washington Post and New York Times, as well as representatives of Human Rights Watch and many other organizations, for “cooperating with a terrorist organization” (i.e., the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics).
[..] so far, calls for the closure of Mirotvorets have, in fact, been limited to a chorus of journalists, human rights defenders, and parliamentarians, who lack the power to make legally binding decisions with respect to Ukraine. This issue is not included among the list of requirements put forth by the Council of Europe or the European Commission that Kiev must fulfil in order to implement the EU Association Agreement.
“..the largest Rorschach test in history..”
With Friday’s release of the redacted affidavit from the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, the largest Rorschach test in history seemed to play out on cable television. Instead of ink blots, pundits and politicians stared at pages of solid black lines and offered strikingly different “ah-ha” observations. For former Mueller top aide Andrew Weissmann, the affidavit meant one thing — that “the former president is going to be prosecuted.” (Of course, Weissmann once expressed certainty that Donald Trump would pardon himself by his last day in office.) There already are a plethora of news and opinion columns focusing on five things we learned from the redacted affidavit. Equally telling, I think, is what did not happen with the affidavit’s release.
[..] There is every reason to believe that what followed contained some facts that could be released on the FBI’s communications with the Trump team or the breakdown of such communications. After all, the Trump team already knows about that. Yet the government is saying that everything which occurred in that critical month cannot be disclosed in even the smallest detail. The court could have pushed for additional disclosures but chose to call it a day, based on government representations that more would cause harm. Yet this is the same department that maintained all of the pages released this week could not be released without causing harm.
There is still more that can be done by the court. One option is the special master requested, belatedly, by Trump’s team. I previously argued that Attorney General Merrick Garland should have proposed such an appointment to assure the public that this was not a pretextual search using sensitive documents as an excuse for a massive seizure. The scope of the warrant was ridiculously broad, allowing the seizure of virtually every document in the storage room and every document generated during Trump’s presidency. A special master could have sorted through this mass of material and separated privileged or immaterial documents. That would add to the legitimacy of an otherwise unlimited search.
That also did not happen. However, a special master could still serve the same interests of transparency and legitimacy. By dividing these documents into classified material, unclassified but defense-related information, and unclassified material we would have a better understanding of the scope and seriousness of any alleged crimes. That is why the most curious thing about the redacted affidavit is what did not happen. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Silver Blaze,” a police inspector asks Sherlock Holmes if anything about a crime scene bothered him. The brilliant detective responds, “To the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.” When the confused inspector objects that “the dog did nothing in the night-time,” Holmes replies: “That was the curious incident.”
“A hearing is set for Sept. 1 at 1:00 p.m.”
A federal judge on Saturday announced her “preliminary intent to appoint a special master” to review records seized by the FBI during its unprecedented raid of his Mar-a-Lago home earlier this month, at the request of former President Trump and his legal team, citing the “exceptional circumstances.” Trump and his legal team filed a motion Monday evening seeking an independent review of the records seized by the FBI during its raid of Mar-a-Lago earlier this month, saying the decision to search his private residence just months before the 2022 midterm elections “involved political calculations aimed at diminishing the leading voice in the Republican Party, President Trump.”
U.S. District Judge from the Southern District of Florida Judge Aileen M. Cannon on Saturday afternoon said that the decision was made upon the review of Trump’s submissions and “the exceptional circumstances presented.” “Pursuant to Rule 53(b) (1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Court’s inherent authority, and without prejudice to the parties’ objections, the Court hereby provides notice of its preliminary intent to appoint a special master in this case,” Cannon wrote in a filing Saturday. A hearing is set for Sept. 1 at 1:00 p.m. in West Palm Beach, Fla. Cannon also ordered the Justice Department to file a response by Aug. 30 and provide, “under seal,” a “more detailed Receipt for Property specifying all property seized pursuant to the search warrant executed on August 8, 2022.”
The current property receipt shows that FBI agents took approximately 20 boxes of items from the premises, including one set of documents marked as “Various classified/TS/SCI documents,” which refers to top secret/sensitive compartmented information. Records covered by that government classification level could potentially include human intelligence and information that, if disclosed, could jeopardize relations between the U.S. and other nations, as well as the lives of intelligence operatives abroad. However, the classification also encompasses national security information related to the daily operations of the president of the United States. The property receipt also showed that FBI agents collected four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents and three sets of confidential documents, but the document does not reveal any details about any of those records.
This is extraordinary. Maher confronts Klobuchar and Reiner with an undeniable fact and they can’t help but sputter “January 6th!” They’re confirming what we all understand. Nothing matters as long as Trump and Rs are defeated. Whatever it takes. pic.twitter.com/3h6iEjN4pR
— Chris Stigall (@ChrisStigall) August 27, 2022
Word du jour: Overreach.
To understand the damage that this deeply flawed law has done, and will continue to do, we have to look at its origins. The Espionage Act was written in 1917, at the height of World War I. The U.S. was panicked at the thought of German spies working undercover to steal its secrets and to disrupt its ability to produce war materiel and support its allies. Congress drew up a law in which one provision, Section 794, made it a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death to provide “national defense information” to a foreign power. But another provision, Section 793, made it a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison to “provide national defense information to any person not entitled to receive it.”
The problems with the law were myriad. First, nobody ever bothered to define what “national defense information” was. The law doesn’t even mention the term “classified information” because the classification system wouldn’t be invented for another 40 years. Second, there was no “affirmative defense” written into the law. A defendant was forbidden from saying in court, “Yes, I gave national defense information to a reporter because I was revealing a crime” or “I did it in the national interest.” And to make matters worse, the Sedition Act, which was passed a year later, amended the Espionage Act to criminalize many forms of speech, including “any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy.”
Even a Hollywood studio was prosecuted under the Espionage Act. In United States v. Motion Picture Film, a federal court upheld the Justice Department’s seizure of the film, called Spirit of ’76, because a scene showed British soldiers being cruel to colonists. The Justice Department had argued that such a depiction, even if true, could undermine public support for the British in the world war. The film’s producer, Robert Goldstein, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $5,000. He served three years. These are only a few of the dozens of “espionage” prosecutions from the period. The law’s Section 793 was largely ignored from the mid-1920s to the early 1970s, when the Nixon administration charged Daniel Ellsberg with multiple counts of espionage for releasing the Pentagon Papers to the media. The case fell apart when Nixon ordered his “plumbers” to break into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office, steal his files and send them to newspapers. Section 793 then went dormant again until Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.
It’s theater. And it’s too late.
The credibility and legitimacy of public health demands two things. The rules have to make sense; they can’t be nakedly contradictory. And the rules have to benefit people. You can’t demand jumping through hoops merely for optics. The treatment of the tennis star Novak Djokovic, who is officially blocked from competing in this year’s U.S. Open, set to begin on Monday, violates both. Keeping him from playing because he has not received a Covid-19 vaccine undermines the credibility of the White House, which set the policy, and public health more broadly. I’m saying this both as a Democrat and a doctor gravely concerned about eroded trust in our institutions.
Djokovic is one of the best tennis players of all time. He is currently vying for most majors of any champion (21 to date), competing with Rafael Nadal (22) and Roger Federer (20). But there will forever be an asterisk next to those comparisons because Djokovic is banned from entering the U.S. to compete in this year’s U.S. Open because of a byzantine rule that non-U.S. citizens cannot enter the country without proof of vaccination. This rule makes no sense from a medical or public health standpoint. Consider the facts. Djokovic is 35 years old, and he is in terrific health. He has had and recovered from Covid-19 twice. This—and the fact that current variants are less lethal than prior strains—means that Djokovic’s odds of doing well were he to get sick with Covid-19 again are remarkably good, and lower than his risk of seasonal influenza.
If Djokovic gets a vaccine at this moment it would be against the ancestral, Wuhan strain of the coronavirus and there is no good evidence this would further improve his odds. Now consider Djokovic’s risk to others. At least 140 million Americans have had and recovered from Covid-19 as of January (this number is higher today), and both vaccinated and unvaccinated can spread the disease. Data shows, when infected, that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals shed virus at similar rates and for similar durations. Forcing Djokovic to get vaccinated won’t protect others. Sars-cov-2 will circulate in the United States for a thousand years whether we let Djokovic in, or keep him out forever.
Then, there are the absurd contradictions in our current rules. Unvaccinated American citizens can move freely in and out of the country without testing. Unvaccinated people can pack the stadium to watch this year’s U.S. Open, where face masks are optional. There is no vaccine or testing requirement to attend. Worst of all, Novak Djokovic competed in last year’s U.S. Open, where he made the finals before the travel rule barring his entry was in place. Joe Biden, who made the rule that blocks Djokovic, has received four Covid-19 vaccine doses. He has had Covid-19 twice, and taken at least 2 courses of Paxlovid. His wife, first lady Jill Biden, has also had four vaccine doses, also had Covid-19 twice. Yet, for some reason, their concern is the Novak Djokovics of the world.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Is there any comparable time in history?
It is a sign of our times. It used to be that the key criterion for college roommates was whether you are a “partier v. non-partier.” Now, it is just your party. A new NBC and Generation Lab study of the class of 2025 showed that roughly half of college students refuse to live with someone who voted for a member of a different political party. That percentage is notably much higher with Democrats rather than Republicans. According to the poll, 46% responded that they would “probably not” or “definitely not” be willing to share a room with someone from another political party.
Of those, 62% of young Democrats refused to share a room with a member of the Republican party while only 28% of young Republicans took that position. That attitude extended to marriage where 52% ruled out a spouse from an opposing party. So much for opposites attracting. Notably, 62% would not work for a company that does not share their political values. It seems Twitter is going to be busy this hiring season. sThe poll reflects not just our age of rage but the increasing siloed news consumption of citizens. People now largely remain in echo chambers for news from the left or the right. It appears that such self imposed isolation now extends socially and professionally for the rising generation, particularly for Democratic students.
“Overwhelming evidence has emerged proving that the US prosecution against my husband is a criminal abuse..”
Julian Assange’s legal team filed an appeal on Friday to stop the WikiLeaks co-founder’s extradition to the US, where he faces espionage charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 175 years. According to WikiLeaks, Assange’s lawyers filed “perfected grounds of appeal” before the UK High Court of Justice against the US government and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who approved the extradition of the Australian-born editor in mid-June. The appeal argues that “Julian Assange is being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions,” while the US government “misrepresented the core facts” of the case to the UK judiciary. It adds that the request to extradite the WikiLeaks co-founder violates the relevant treaty between the US and the UK, as well as international law.
The document also reportedly contains some new evidence that has been compiled since the UK court ruled on Assange’s extradition in early 2021. The editor’s wife, Stella Assange, said: “Overwhelming evidence has emerged proving that the US prosecution against my husband is a criminal abuse,” adding that the high court will now decide whether her husband is given the opportunity to make his case against the US before open court at the appeal. In early June, the Wall Street Journal reported that Assange’s lawyers had filed two appeals to fight his extradition to the US, just a day before the deadline for the legal action was set to expire. The exact details of the appeal, however, were unclear.
German power baseload price
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