John Koch Conversation 1962
FACT: The whole White House looks like Weekend at Bernie's.
No one in Washington is interested in ending this war.
Everything that's going on is delusional nonsense and somebody needs to put a stop to it! pic.twitter.com/GZBfm2Llwp
— Douglas Macgregor (@DougAMacgregor) August 5, 2023
New charges every day. 40 in total now? The idea seems to be that each time something about Hunter comes out, Trump gets a new charge.
Former US President Donald Trump has set off a social media firestorm by issuing an apparent threat against unidentified enemies just one day after he was indicted for the third time in four months. “If you go after me, I’m coming after you,” Trump said on Friday in a post on his Truth Social platform. He offered no context or explanation for the statement, letting supporters and critics alike infer his meaning for themselves. Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the latest criminal charges against him, four felonies related to an alleged conspiracy to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. After leaving the federal courthouse in Washington, he claimed that politically motivated prosecutors were going after him because Biden couldn’t beat him in a 2024 election rematch.
“This is a very sad day for America,” Trump told reporters before boarding his plane. He added, “This was never supposed to happen in America. This is a persecution of the person that’s leading by very, very substantial numbers in the Republican primary and leading Biden by a lot, so if you can’t beat him, you persecute him. We can’t let this happen in America.” Trump issued his cryptic threat on the same day that his campaign released a new ad alleging that Biden had assembled a “cast of unscrupulous accomplices to get Trump.” That group, which the ad called “the fraud squad,” includes Jack Smith, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) special counsel who’s handling the two federal cases against Trump, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who filed charges against Trump in April for allegedly making false claims in his New York business filings.
While Trump supporters interpreted his latest message to mean “the gloves are off,” and that he will take revenge on his enemies when he’s elected president again in 2024, detractors suggested that he was trying to scare anyone who would try to punish him for his alleged crimes. Magistrate Judge Moxila Updadhyaya warned Trump on Thursday that the most important condition of his release on bond was that he mustn’t commit “any new crimes” while awaiting trial, which could lead to him being jailed or sentenced more harshly if convicted. According to NPR, she told Trump that it’s a crime to “influence a juror or try to threaten or bribe a witness or retaliate against anyone connected to the case.”
Smith also filed dozens of felony charges related to Trump’s alleged mishandling of state secrets. On Friday, Trump waived his right to appear at an arraignment for the updated indictment in that case. Smith slapped Trump with three additional charges late last month for allegedly plotting to delete potentially incriminating security camera footage before FBI agents raided his home to gather evidence in the classified documents case. He pleaded not guilty in June to the 37 previously filed charges in that case. Friday’s filing said he will also plead not guilty to the new charges.
“It isn’t Trump that poses an ‘existential’ threat to Democrats, It’s democracy itself, and that’s what they are trying to snuff out.”
Former US President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to four federal charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The first hearing for the trial is expected on August 28. The ex-POTUS was indicted earlier this week as part of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s purported push to reverse the results of the election, which was followed by the January 6, 2021 US Capitol breach. “The case brought against Trump on Thursday is another example of judicial intervention in the electoral process,” Dr. Harvey Schantz, professor of political science at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, said. He added that the 45th US president’s indictment “goes to the core of the American political system because it involves the transfer of power” from a Republican Party president to a Democratic Party president.
According to Schantz, such a change is “more momentous than ever because the two parties have very alternative views of public policy and markedly different supporters.” The political scientist argued that the Trump indictment “divides people along party affiliations, exacerbating differences between Democrats and Republicans and between Trump and [US President Joe] Biden voters.” Schantz pointed out that “the multiple cases” against the former American president “have strengthened his hold on the Republican presidential nomination, and contrary to conventional wisdom, have not as yet hurt Trump in the 2024 general election contest, in which polls have Trump and Biden running neck and neck.” Dr. Nicholas Waddy, political analyst and Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred State College, for his part, told Sputnik that Thursday’s arraignment of Trump “[…] represents a new low for the Biden Administration, progressives, and the Deep State,” who he said “are, in effect, trying to criminalize dissent, criticism, differences of opinion, and political opposition.”
Waddy insisted that ex-US president “isn’t being charged because of his actions, or his words, but because of who he is and what he represents.” “The Deep State, including [Attorney General] Merrick Garland and [Special Counsel] Jack Smith, hates Trump with every fiber of its being. They are terrified that he might be able to defeat [President] Joe Biden in the 2024 election and win a second term as president, and thus they, and numerous other state and federal prosecutors, have decided on a strategy of ‘lawfare’ to kneecap him as a candidate,” the political analyst claimed.According to him, these officials “would love to imprison Trump for the rest of his life, but their primary aim is to tie him up in legal knots throughout 2024 so that he cannot campaign effectively, and so that the entire election revolves around a debate about Donald Trump’s criminality, rather than Joe Biden’s performance in office.”
“The goal here – to interfere with the electoral process itself – is so transparent that no fair-minded person could deny it,” Waddy added. He claimed that “It isn’t Trump that poses an ‘existential’ threat to Democrats, It’s democracy itself, and that’s what they are trying to snuff out.”
“The problem is that Trump had lawyers and others telling him that the claims were true. Smith is indicting Trump for believing his lawyers over his other advisers.”
Special counsel Jack Smith made history on Tuesday. It wasn’t just the federal indictment of a former president. Smith already did that in June with the indictment of Donald Trump on charges that he mishandled classified documents. No, Smith and his team have made history in the worst way by attempting to fully criminalize disinformation by seeking the incarceration of a politician on false claims made during and after an election. The hatred for Trump is so all-encompassing that legal experts on the political left have ignored the chilling implications of this indictment. This complaint is based largely on statements that are protected under the First Amendment. It would eviscerate free speech and could allow the government to arrest those who are accused of spreading disinformation in elections.
In the 2012 United States v. Alvarez decision, the Supreme Court held 6-3 that it is unconstitutional to criminalize lies in a case involving a politician who lied about military decorations. The court warned such criminalization “would give government a broad censorial power unprecedented in this Court’s cases or in our constitutional tradition. The mere potential for the exercise of that power casts a chill, a chill the First Amendment cannot permit if free speech, thought, and discourse are to remain a foundation of our freedom.” That precedent did not deter Smith. This indictment is reminiscent of the case against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. His conviction on 11 corruption-related counts was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court in 2016, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing that federal prosecutors relied on a “boundless” definition of actions that could trigger criminal charges against political leaders.
Smith is now showing the same abandon in pursuing Trump, including detailing his speech on Jan. 6, 2021, before the riot while omitting the line where Trump told his supporters to go to the U.S. Capitol to “peacefully” protest the certification. While the indictment acknowledges that candidates are allowed to make false statements, Smith proceeded to charge Trump for making “knowingly false statements.” On the election claims, Smith declares that Trump “knew that they were false” because he was “notified repeatedly that his claims were untrue.” The problem is that Trump had lawyers and others telling him that the claims were true. Smith is indicting Trump for believing his lawyers over his other advisers.
I criticized Trump’s Jan. 6 speech while he was still giving it and wrote that his theory on the election and the certification challenge was unfounded. However, that does not make it a crime. If you take a red pen to protected free speech in this indictment, it would be reduced to a virtual haiku. Moreover, if you concede that Trump may have believed that the election was stolen, the complaint collapses.
Mothafu**ing roach! What damp dark spot did he crawl out of?
Former US President Donald Trump will likely withdraw the world’s biggest military superpower from NATO if he wins the 2024 election, ex-White House aide John Bolton has claimed. “In a second Trump term, we’d almost certainly withdraw from NATO,” the former US national security advisor said on Thursday in an interview with US media outlet NewsNation. Bolton was ousted as Trump’s top national security aide in September 2019, after failing to persuade the president to launch regime-change wars in Iran and North Korea. Bolton — a notorious war hawk who also has pushed for regime changes in Cuba, Libya, Venezuela, Syria and Yemen – argued that Trump has an “erratic” and ineffective approach to national security.
“Donald Trump doesn’t really have a philosophy as we understand it in political terms,” the ex-advisor said. “He doesn’t think in policy directions when he makes decisions, certainly in the national security space. It’s all connected with how things benefit Donald Trump.” Despite being indicted three times on criminal charges in the past four months, Trump is polling as the top candidate for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination. He and President Joe Biden are currently tied at 43% voter support in a hypothetical rematch of their 2020 battle, according to a New York Times poll released this week.
Biden has led NATO and other US allies in imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine conflict and supplying billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Kiev. Trump has claimed that if elected again, he would end the bloodshed in 24 hours by forcing Russian and Ukrainian leaders to the negotiating table. Bolton called Trump’s agreement with the Taliban to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan a “disastrous mistake for America and for national security in the world.” He also faulted the then-president for failing to “squeeze the Iranians” after quitting the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. “He did not deal with the threat of terrorism from Iran effectively.”
Court documents stemming from Hunter Biden’s failed plea-bargain deal on federal criminal charges have revealed that US President Joe Biden’s son brought in income of more than $4.4 million, mostly from China and Ukraine, while paying no taxes in 2017 and 2018. In 2017 alone, Hunter Biden netted nearly $2.3 million from foreign sources, including over $1.6 million from his Chinese business interests and $500,000 in director’s fees from a Ukrainian energy company, according to a filingreleased documents, which Noreika released in response to a request from NBC News. Biden became addicted to crack cocaine in 2016, contributing to the collapse of his marriage and his most significant business relationship the following year.
Despite his escalating drug use, “Biden successfully entered into business ventures and landed legal clients, earning millions of dollars.” Republican lawmakers have accused the Biden family of soliciting bribes through Hunter Biden’s overseas business forays, including a stint serving as a director for Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings. Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky reportedly urged Hunter Biden, whose father was then the US vice president, to help end a corruption investigation against the company in 2015. Zlochevsky later told an FBI informant that he was coerced into paying a $10 million bribe to the Bidens and that he had multiple recordings to verify his claims.
Hunter Biden’s substance abuse worsened in 2018, when he moved to Los Angeles for a “spring and summer of nonstop debauchery,”according to the plea agreement. Weeks before his 2017 tax return was due to be filed, he received a $1 million payment for legal services to Chinese business associate Patrick Ho, but he spent almost all of the money over the next six months on travel, entertainment and other expenses. Similarly, around the time his 2018 return was due, in April 2019, he received $758,000 and spent almost all the money by the end of May. The documents showed that an unidentified third party paid Biden’s nearly $2 million in combined tax liabilities for 2017 and 2018 in October 2021.
That same person also paid about $243,000 on Biden’s behalf for unresolved tax liabilities from 2016 and 2019. Media outlets have identified that backer as Kevin Morris, Hunter Biden’s “sugar brother” lawyer in Los Angeles. Noreika refused to accept the plea agreement last week, saying she had concerns about the terms granted to Biden. Republicans had accused prosecutors in the Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) of giving the president’s son a “sweetheart”deal on the tax charges against him and a separate case involving an illegal gun purchase. Republican lawmakers launched an investigation this week of the DOJ’s handling of the plea and diversion agreements in Hunter Biden’s cases.
“There’s no goal and there’s no off ramp. His internal goal is to run for reelection as a wartime president like his hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in 1940. But this is not a war like World War Two.”
“Joe Biden cannot articulate what the goal of the American military involvement [in Ukraine] is,” Judge Andrew Napolitano, former New Jersey superior court judge and host of the Judging Freedom podcast, told Sputnik. “The neocons around him just love the concept of war, particularly war against Russia, particularly against Russia while Vladimir Putin is in office.” The US has been involved in the Ukraine conflict for 17 months and has already transferred over $68 billion. Nevertheless, Kiev cannot boast any considerable progress on the ground with their much-discussed counteroffensive having eventually stalled. As the conflict is continuing to drag on, Biden administration officials and the US president are still asserting to Kiev that Washington will support it “as long as it takes.”
“If you ask him, as long as it takes to do what he can’t answer the ‘To do what?’ As long as it takes to produce a stalemate? As long as it takes to produce a cease fire? As long as it takes, if you ask Victoria Nuland, to drive President Putin from office? I mean, they can’t answer that question,” Napolitano noted. The Ukraine conflict has been presented in the Western mainstream press as a way to bleed Russia dry and drain President Vladimir Putin’s “political standing with the Russian people,” the judge opined. In February 2023, President Biden made a claim in front of a Polish crowd that suggested he wanted to see the Russian president deposed: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden stated. The White House later downplayed this rally cry as a gaffe.
Still, what Team Biden and their neocon allies “don’t understand is that President Putin is enormously popular, that he’s fighting a patriotic war for a return of land, for which there is a valid legal argument, it has always been a part of Russia, culturally a part of Russia, linguistically a part of Russia,” according to Napolitano. “They think they can use Ukraine as a battering ram to drive President Putin from office. They’re crazy. It’s not going to work. Joe Biden does not have an off ramp. He doesn’t have the ability to say, okay, we’ve we’ve succeeded. It’s time for us to stop. There’s no goal and there’s no off ramp. His internal goal is to run for reelection as a wartime president like his hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in 1940. But this is not a war like World War Two.
This is not a war that the American public perceives as a threat to American national security. All the politicians will argue that. But they’re so tied up with the military industrial complex that, you know, you have a majority in the Congress, Republicans and Democrats, that like all wars because it enriches the military industrial complex and keeps people working in the factories.” What’s more, there is no American national security interest at stake in Ukraine, despite US neocons arguing to the contrary, according to the judge. US war hawks are continuing to claim that Washington’s military aid to Kiev is a great investment since Russia is being bashed without American lives being lost. “The Russians are dying. The best money we’ve ever spent,” as US Senator Lindsey Graham said back in May. As long as no American body bags are coming home, the public is buying into this argument.
Still, it’s no longer a secret that a limited contingent of US servicemen has been operating on the ground in Ukraine. “We know the US military is there in Ukraine out of uniform. We know it is there in Poland, operating equipment that is shooting projectiles at Russian boys,” noted the judge. US mercenaries have also joined Ukrainian battalions on the battlefield. And these Americans are dying in Ukraine: a sad statistic has already found its way out, indicating that dozens if not hundreds of US citizens have been killed in the conflict zone since February 2022.
“Zakharova earlier stressed that Zelensky’s so-called peace plan was nothing more than another US-created manual on how to fuel the conflict in Europe..”
Those countries that the West is “courting” in its efforts to promote the peace formula put forward by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky need to understand that the future of millions of Russians is at stake, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. “All the countries that the West is courting to push ‘Zelensky’s formula’ definitely need to understand that these people’s future is at stake as the Kiev regime has openly threatened to destroy them,” Lavrov said in response to a question from International Affairs magazine about initiatives aimed at resolving the Ukrainian crisis. “The need to put an end to these neo-Nazi threats is clear. However, initiatives ‘on Ukraine,’ whose number is growing, are silent about this issue, while actions violating the rights of Russian speakers continue unabated,” the top diplomat noted.
According to Lavrov, given numerous initiatives for resolving the situation in Ukraine, Russia reaffirmed that it appreciated all efforts to achieve a fair and sustainable peace. “Clearly, it’s impossible to find justice in any conflict without making sure that everyone fully respects the rights of ethnic minorities. Especially because there is no alternative to that for Ukraine, where Russian has always been the mother tongue for most of the population,” he maintained. “Why don’t his Western impresarios ask him [Zelensky] to publicly present another ‘formula’ to the international community, clarifying how Kiev envisions the status of Russians and other ethnic minorities in the country after Ukraine secures the ‘victory’ for the sake of which NATO and the EU have spared neither money nor weapons?” the Russian foreign minister asked rhetorically.
He added that this would help many countries in the Global South, which are not indifferent to the situation, to better understand what’s going on. “We could see during numerous discussions and talks at the second Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg that they are really interested in fully sorting out the root causes of the crisis and the prospects for finding a way out of it,” Lavrov emphasized.While addressing the G20 summit via video link in November 2022, Zelensky put forward a ten-point plan “to achieve peace.” The document stipulates the need to ensure nuclear, food and energy security; carry out an “all-for-all” exchange of “detained persons”; and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova earlier stressed that Zelensky’s so-called peace plan was nothing more than another US-created manual on how to fuel the conflict in Europe. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in turn, noted that Zelensky was making statements about a peaceful solution without taking the actual situation into account.
“..since launching the counteroffensive, Kiev has lost over 43,000 troops..”
The Pentagon realizes that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will not be an easy task given the strong defensive positions established by Russian forces, US Defense Department Press Secretary Pat Ryder said on Thursday. Speaking to reporters, Ryder was asked to respond to criticism that the US has been too slow in supplying Kiev’s forces with tanks, long range missiles and other weapon systems, which in turn has held up Ukraine’s counteroffensive. The press secretary stressed that the US and its allies have been “very aggressive in providing Ukraine with a variety of capabilities” but admitted that the Pentagon holds “no illusions that this – this fight that Ukraine finds itself in – is an easy fight.” Ryder suggested that the real issue was that Russia has had time to build up strong defenses in the territories it controls.
“Ukraine is taking the fight to them and it’s going to be a tough fight,”the official said. He noted that the US has been“training the Ukrainians since 2014” and that Washington is “confident” that Kiev’s forces have “significant combat capability available to them and that they’re going to employ that at a time and place of their choosing.” Ukraine’s forces launched a series of major attacks on Russian positions in early June, in what is believed to have been the start of Kiev’s much-touted counteroffensive. However, met with formidable Russian defenses and vast minefields, Ukraine has so far suffered heavy casualties, while failing to achieve any significant territorial gains.
On Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that since launching the counteroffensive, Kiev has lost over 43,000 troops, more than 4,900 pieces of heavy weaponry, including German-made Leopard tanks and US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and some 747 artillery guns.] The slow pace of the operation and Kiev’s heavy losses have reportedly become a point of frustration for Ukraine’s backers in the US and NATO, with several Western media outlets reporting that further military support to the country could be contingent on the counteroffensive’s success. Meanwhile, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Aleksey Danilov, admitted on Wednesday that Kiev does not have an exact timetable for progress in its counteroffensive, and insisted that “no one but us can impose deadlines.”
“..nothing – not even the provision of the requested weapons systems – can reverse the trajectory of strategic defeat that Kiev currently finds itself on..”
In Japanese, the term Kamikaze, or ‘Divine Wind’, has taken on a dark interpretation, linked as it is to the suicidal pilots who flew their aircraft into enemy ships in the closing months of the Second World War. The original meaning of the phrase, however, was much different, drawn from Japan’s history when, in 1274 and again in 1281, powerful typhoons destroyed the fleets of the invading Mongols, saving the Japanese islands and their people from the wrath of the Mongol leader Kublai Khan. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podoliak appeared to be invoking a modern-day manifestation of the ‘Divine Wind’ of 13th century Japanese history when, in response to a statement made by the Italian Minister of Defense Guido Crosetto, he advocated for a political solution to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine by calling on the West to provide F-16 fighters, ATACMS long-range artillery rockets, and modern missile and air defense systems to Ukraine.
According to Podoliak, these weapons are needed by Ukraine to forcibly evict Russian forces from territory Ukraine claims is illegally occupied by Russia (including Crimea). Anything less than this, he contends, “will result in the collapse of the global security order and the triumph of bloody cannibals around the world.” Putting aside Podoliak’s twisted analysis of the political reality on the ground in what Russia today calls Novorossiya, or ‘New Russia’ (the territories of Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk, and Lugansk, which became part of the Russian Federation following referendums held at the end of September 2022), the emphasis placed by the Ukrainian politician on the impact the requested weapons would have on the outcome of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is telling. On its face, Podoliak’s statement at once reveals the depth of Ukraine’s military difficulties, and the reality that nothing – not even the provision of the requested weapons systems – can reverse the trajectory of strategic defeat that Kiev currently finds itself on.
[..] Zaluzhny’s American counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, disagrees. Following a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which coordinates the supply of weaponry to Ukraine, Milley told the press that the provision of F-16s made no sense from a financial perspective. “If you look at the F-16, 10 F-16s [cost] a billion dollars, the sustainment cost another billion dollars, so you’re talking about $2 billion for 10 aircraft,” Milley said, noting that if the US had provided F-16s earlier, Ukraine would not have gotten much of the equipment Zaluzhny claimed he needed to carry out the Ukrainian counteroffensive. “There are no magic weapons in war,” Milley said. “F-16s are not and neither is anything else.”
“..when everyone comes back from the beach or the lake after Labor Day. Banks will resume failing, too, followed by bail-out efforts that will open a trapdoor under the dollar. The country will finally learn what Bidenomics means..”
So, the best they could do was to charge Mr. Trump with objecting vocally to an election that looked as rotten as Hunter’s uncapped teeth? We all saw what happened overnight November 3 and 4, 2020: what the numbers looked like in the swing precincts at midnight and the magic mathematics that swapped tens of thousands of votes over from the Trump column to the Biden column (say, whu?) … the shutdown of the Fulton County State Farm Arena due to a supposedly leaking toilet and the ensuing monkey business with rolly-bags full of ballots under the tables captured by the closed-circuit cameras… the miraculous wee-hour harvest of ballots in Milwaukee… US Postal Service truck full of completed ballots out of Bethpage, Long Island, that turned up in Philadelphia… Mark Zuckerberg’s $419-million-dollar operation using two front orgs, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) to staff precinct election boards with party shills and buy votes… the thumb drives and modems in the vote-counting machines….
Special Counsel Jack Smith may find it difficult to prove that expressing an opinion about all that is some kind of crime. Meanwhile, he’s turned Mr. Trump into the poster boy for the many other aggrieved victims of a government weaponized against its own people. More than half the country sees exactly what’s going on and no amount of video footage showing “JB” and Jill holding hands on the beach is going cover for that. We are on the threshold of a king-hell national crisis.
Consider: a 27.4 percent drop in goods of all kinds “roaded-in” on semi-trucks to the northeast USA this summer. That’s everything from auto parts to lumber, clothing, and food. What else do you think sent the Yellow Corp trucking company, one hundred years old, spinning into sudden bankruptcy this week? Yellow won’t be bought and reorganized, either. It owes three quarters of a billion dollars in loans to the federal government (i.e., to us taxpayers) and untold pension obligations. Next, 22,000 Yellow Corp workers will hit the unemployment rolls. Yellow Corp had a special role in the supply chain: the LTL (less-than-truckload) niche, often the final journey of a product to the customer. It was also the cheapest. Whoever picks up the work — FedEx, ABF Freight? — will cost more, and so will everything you have to buy.
Behind this crumbling economy looms the fragile financial system of banks, securities markets, a wilderness of derivatives trades, and currencies. How long do you think it will take before that clockwork of debt obligations and ownerships in failing enterprises breaks down? Think: four to eight weeks, starting with when everyone comes back from the beach or the lake after Labor Day. Banks will resume failing, too, followed by bail-out efforts that will open a trapdoor under the dollar. The country will finally learn what Bidenomics means.
It still is that simple.
Russia was doing its utmost to prevent war and defend the rights of Donbass residents when the coup d’etat took place in Ukraine and nationalists came to power, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a youth audience at the Terra Scientia forum. “When the coup happened in Ukraine in 2014, and it was exactly a coup d’etat, when the nationalists began to take over and when Donbass refused to co-exist with them when it realized that the power of the nationalists was being established, it was a very dramatic moment,” Peskov said. “Russia [then] did its utmost to prevent war. Russia did everything in a bid to reach a peace settlement of this problem and to defend the rights of Donbass and its residents by political and diplomatic methods.”
Peskov recalled that “as a result of very difficult, titanic negotiations” the Minsk agreements were signed. “It was the product of a very complex balance of agreements and a diplomatic success of our country,” he noted, pointing out that the step-by-step implementation of the agreements at that moment “would have prevented war and would have allowed the people of Donbass to live under special conditions with special rights and to determine their future themselves through elections and referendums.”Peskov also recalled that France’s former president, Francois Hollande and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said late last year that “they were not going to fulfill anything” under the Minsk agreements.
“But we did not know that, we were on the way to implement these agreements, we were trying to force Ukraine to follow the path of the agreements in order to avoid war,” the Kremlin spokesman stressed. He drew attention to the fact that “2019 was the time when we (Russia – TASS) adhered to these Minsk agreements, and then it was really an intra-Ukrainian problem.” “Yes, it was really so,” Peskov emphasized. “But then, when it became clear that no one was going to implement the Minsk agreements, when it became clear that Ukraine was preparing for war, when it became clear that NATO military advisers were already there, when it became clear that Kiev was actually a puppet in the hands of, first of all, Washington, when it became clear that this very war could not be avoided, then the events took the current course,” he said.
The Minsk agreements were supposed to be the basis for a settlement in Donbass. They were signed on February 12, 2015. However, Kiev delayed the peace process for years and refused to implement them. Later it declared the unacceptability of the political part of this package, as well as categorically refused to enter into a direct dialog with the Donbass republics. The agreements were mediated by the OSCE, Russia, Germany and France. In December 2022, in an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the conclusion of the Minsk agreements as an attempt to give Ukraine time to become stronger. She said it was clear to everyone that the conflict was frozen and the problem was not solved, it just let Ukraine gain time. Later, Hollande, who was also involved in agreeing a set of measures to implement the Minsk agreements in 2015, confirmed Merkel’s words.
“every liberating army becomes, after a while, an occupier.”
The military coup in Niger is an aftershock of the neocolonial relationship between France and various countries on the African continent, according to former French ambassador Gerard Araud. The crisis in Niger, which began last week when army general Abdouramane Tchiani toppled democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, is a “rejection of the French presence in the country,” Araud told news website Euractiv in comments published on Thursday. The 70-year-old diplomat added that the coup could be seen as a rejection of the so-called ‘Francafrique’: a term used to describe Paris’ sphere of influence over former colonies in sub-Saharan Africa. The absence of a concerted African strategy is a “failure” of Europe, Araud added.
Araud, who was previously France’s ambassador to the United States, has held various high-profile diplomatic positions on behalf of France and the United Nations, as well as previously serving as the director general for political and security affairs in France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said France’s colonial past had ushered in a “revolt of the youth” in the sub-Saharan region, with many taking that view that national governments are increasingly being seen as Paris’ puppets in Africa. He added to Euractiv that population growth and increasing levels of poverty has also fomented distrust by Africans in their established systems of government.
Despite increases in foreign security in Niger, particularly from France and the United States, insurgent attacks from Al-Qaeda and Islamic State-linked groups have continued; a factor also generally considered to be contributing to Niger’s political instability. On July 28, Tchiani, the head of Niger’s presidential guard, declared himself head of state of the African nation which has a population in excess of 25 million people. In 2021, there was a coup attempt around 48 hours before Bazoum’s inauguration as president of the West African state after he defeated opponent Mahamane Ousmane at the polls. The coup attempt was thwarted by the presidential guard.
French influence in Africa dates back to the 17th century but increased substantially in the 19th century with the invasion of the Ottoman Algiers in 1830. France took control of some areas of Niger in the 1890s. Ethnic groups in the African country rebelled against French rule before it was conquered as a colony in 1922. Niger later declared independence in 1960. However, France has maintained a stance of activity in the Sahel region of Africa – with Araud telling Euractiv that French forces were regarded as “freedom fighters” for repelling insurgents in North Mali in 2012 and 2013. However, he added that “every liberating army becomes, after a while, an occupier.”
“UFC president Dana White has even suggested that the proposed cage match between the two billionaires could become the most profitable fight in history.”
Former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has reportedly refused to train American billionaire Elon Musk for his fight with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, according to TASS news agency. A person familiar with the situation told the outlet that the undefeated Russian fighter had rebuffed an approach by Musk, who wanted him to prepare him for the bout. It is not known why Nurmagomedov turned down the offer, but the source claimed the event was being organized by UFC Eurasia CEO Andrey Gromkovsky. Earlier, the New York Times reported that Musk and Zuckerberg were in talks with the UFC about the fight. UFC president Dana White has even suggested that the proposed cage match between the two billionaires could become the most profitable fight in history.
While it has yet to be officially confirmed that Nurmagomedov has refused to train Musk, a number of MMA promoters have come out in support of his reported decision. In a statement to TASS, Russian sports manager Vladimir Khryunov said that “Khabib is a man of his own convictions” and is very serious about the sport to which he has dedicated his life. “I consider his decision to be the right one and it causes great respect for Khabib,” he added. President of the promotional company Fight Nights Global, Kamil Gadzhiev, also told the agency that Nurmagomedov’s decision was to be expected considering he has announced his retirement from MMA and is currently not even training anyone close to him. “For Khabib, it must be something super-principled to return to MMA. And Elon Musk’s fight definitely doesn’t belong to this category,” Gadzhiev added.
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, the richest and 10th-richest men in the world, have been trading barbs on social media for several weeks now, following the announcement and subsequent launch of Zuckerberg’s Threads – a rival to Musk’s Twitter (now called X). In June, Musk challenged Zuckerberg to a “cage match,” which drew the response: “Send me location.” Musk then tweeted: “Vegas Octagon” – the famed arena that hosts UFC fights. While many have been exicted by the prospect of seeing the two billionaires thrash it out in the ring, the probability of the bout actually happening doesn’t appear to be very high. Last week, Zuckerberg stated that he is “not sure” the cage match will “come together.”
Inexplicable behaviour of both the cow and the snake…. But they have a language of their own!pic.twitter.com/t2UEXZZQYZ
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Lapwings are so protective towards their egg: a very strong example comes from this one, which didn't move even when the tractor came very close.
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This gibbon is probably protecting its territory or just toying the tiger cubs, but its hazardous acrobatics and grace are simply stunning
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