Dec 162023
 
 December 16, 2023  Posted by at 10:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Edward Hopper Hotel lobby 1943

 

Hersh: Hamas Troops Surrendering in Gaza, West Bank is Next Tinderbox (Sp.)
Pumping Seawater Into Hamas Tunnels Proves ‘Successful’ (Cradle)
IDF Reveals Forces ‘Mistakenly’ Killed Three Israeli Hostages in Gaza (Sp.)
Maersk Diverts All Vessels From Red Sea (ZH)
West Secretly Urging Russia-Ukraine Talks – Lavrov (RT)
Scott Ritter: Ukrainian Military to Crumble by Mid-2024 (Sp.)
Scholz Pulled Ruse On Orban To Start Ukraine Accession Talks – Politico (RT)
Hungary May Impose Veto On Ukraine’s EU Accession Talks – FM (TASS)
Austrian Leader Skipped Russian Sanctions Vote – Politico (RT)
Biden Lacks ‘End Game’ in ‘Doomed’ Ukraine Project – Analyst (Sp.)
Zelensky’s Global Begging Tour Is an Obscene Fiasco (SCF)
Cranking Up the Ukraine Phoney History Mill (Karganovic)
The Mystery of the Missing Binder (CNN)

 

 

 

 

Watters Hunter Watch this!

 

 

Pretty good

 

 

Turn off the internet Miles Taylor is a “national security official” in the same sense that your Starbucks barista is a national security official.

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Dore

 

 

Tucker Assange

 

 

 

 

“..the disparity in Israeli and Palestinian civilian deaths “is something that Israelis will have to think about.” The officer supports the war “but the balance is not right.”

Hersh: Hamas Troops Surrendering in Gaza, West Bank is Next Tinderbox (Sp.)

The growing crisis in the West Bank is fraught with the risk of sparking a regional war in the Middle East, as Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his recent blog post. While the Joe Biden administration appears to have turned a blind eye to mounting civilian casualties in Gaza, the US president is concerned about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attacks on the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, according to Hersh. “Steadily increasing violence committed there against the Palestinian population by Israeli settlers, who are openly supported by the IDF and the extremists that now dominate Israeli politics, has triggered alarms in Washington,” the investigative journalist wrote, quoting a US official with access to sensitive information.

“The official told me that ‘Bibi’s continuing campaign’ in the West Bank ‘is complicating Israel’s efforts to create favorable arrangements in Gaza after the war ends,’ and the violence has become a ‘huge obstacle’ for the Biden administration.” According to Hersh, Netanyahu and Israeli hardliners want carte blanche from the Biden White House for their actions in the West Bank. He quoted his source as saying that Netanyahu cabinet officials “are pissed at Biden and think he should have said that we’re with you all the way: ‘You got to do [in the West Bank] what you got to do’.” The most ardent supporter of tougher measures against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank is National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a lawyer and right-wing politician. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist noted that Biden was “uncharacteristically caustic about Gvir”, suggesting that the minister and his allies are against the two-state solution.

According to Hersh’s source, the crucial question faced by US intelligence analysts “is whether there is going to be a regional war” in the Middle East if Tel Aviv continues to ignore the growing crisis in the West Bank. That question is “up in the air” given Netanyahu’s ongoing legal predicament and the backing he needs from Ben Gvir and his supporters. Commenting on the prospects of the two-state solution in the Middle East, the intelligence official noted that “there is a lot of behind-the-scenes back-and-forth.” Meanwhile, the “astonishing number” of civilians dying in Gaza has “left a stain” on Israel’s international reputation — worrying even some former Israeli military officers, Hersh said. One told the investigative journalist that the disparity in Israeli and Palestinian civilian deaths “is something that Israelis will have to think about.” The officer supports the war “but the balance is not right.”

Hersh said he had learnt that as many as 700 Hamas soldiers had opted to surrender to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). A senior aide to Yahya Sinjar, the purported masterminds behind Hamas’s October 7 cross-border raid, is also said to have surrendered. “Israel expected Hamas to fight to the end, just as America thought the Japanese would do in World War II,” the US source told Hersh. The journalist noted that Sinjar is believed to be hiding somewhere in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The journalist also discovered that Israel and Hamas leadership in exile have renewed contacts with regard to a possible exchange of Israeli hostages for imprisoned Palestinians. “At this point, I was told, there are 137 Israelis in Hamas custody and still thought to be alive,” Hersh wrote.

“All were taken hostage on October 7, and as many as thirty-six of them are believed to be active IDF members, men and women between the ages of eighteen to thirty-one. Eight civilian women and two children are still believed to be in custody.” Reportedly, Hamas wants to exchange 10 hostages for 40 prisoners in Israeli jails and a 48-hour ceasefire. The US official told Hersh that some elderly hostages in Hamas’ custody had died due to lack of medical treatment. After all hostages are freed “the entire [Hamas] leadership—political, religious, and military—will be killed in the countries where they live,” Hersh’s contact said, adding that Mossad — the Israeli intelligence service — “is already tracking them, but killing them before the hostages are out is risky.”

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“The tunnels were built by well-trained and educated engineers who considered all possible attacks from the occupation, including pumping water..”

Pumping Seawater Into Hamas Tunnels Proves ‘Successful’ (Cradle)

The Israeli daily The Times of Israel reported on 14 December that the attempt to pump seawater into the vast network of tunnels built by Hamas in Gaza was proving to be a “success.” “The tunnel flooding had indeed begun, albeit in a limited trial capacity …,” and that “it was understood to have been a success,” the newspaper said on Thursday. Three days ago, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the Israeli military had already begun pumping seawater into tunnels used by Hamas. Citing US officials familiar with the Israeli military operation, the WSJ had reported that the move to flood the tunnels with water from the Mediterranean was in its early stages. A spokesperson for the Israeli defense minister had declined to comment, saying tunnel operations were classified.

When asked, however, if the tunnel flooding tactic might pose a threat to Israeli prisoners held in Gaza, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press conference on 14 December that the military operates on “intelligence” regarding where prisoners are being kept, adding that Israel “will not take steps that harm them.” In another press conference in Beirut on Thursday, senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said that the tunnels were built to withstand flooding, and that Israel’s plans have been taken into account. “The tunnels were built by well-trained and educated engineers who considered all possible attacks from the occupation, including pumping water,” Hamdan said, adding that the underground network is “an integral part of the resistance, and all consequences and expected attacks have been taken into account.”

At the start of the war in October, officials were quoted as saying that soldiers should “under no circumstances” attempt to enter the tunnels. The report by The Times of Israel comes as Israel is no closer to its goal of destroying Hamas. “Israel is still far from toppling Hamas. The majority of its fighters are still alive; it still possesses rockets,” said Michael Millstein, a Palestinian studies expert, on 12 December. Clashes continue to rage between Israel and the Palestinian resistance in both north and south Gaza, with resistance fighters ambushing Israeli troops on a daily basis. At least 10 Israeli soldiers were killed in the Shujaiya neighborhood of north Gaza and elsewhere on 12 December in coordinated ambushes laid by Hamas and other groups. Israeli media referred to the ambush as “one of the deadliest” since the ground war was launched in late October.

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‘Mistakenly..’

IDF Reveals Forces ‘Mistakenly’ Killed Three Israeli Hostages in Gaza (Sp.)

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) admitted on Friday that the service had mistakenly identified three hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip as a threat and opened fire, killing all three. “During combat in Shejaiya, the IDF mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat. As a result, the troops fired toward them and they were killed,” the IDF wrote on its Telegram channel. The bodies of the three individuals, two of who were identified by the IDF as Samer Talalka and Yotam Haim, have since been recovered by Israeli forces. The third individual was not publicly identified at the family’s request “Immediate lessons from the event have been learned, which have been passed on to all IDF troops in the field,” the IDF said in a statement.

“The IDF expresses deep remorse over the tragic incident and sends the families its heartfelt condolences. Our national mission is to locate the missing and return all the hostages home.” The trio were said to have been taken into custody by Hamas from Kibbutz Kfar Aza during the October 7 surprise attack. A “review” of the incident has been launched. Since early October, Israel has detailed that upwards of 1,000 Israelis have been killed in hostilities, with nearly 250 civilians and soldiers having been taken hostage by Hamas. To date, more than 18,000 Palestinians have been killed amid ongoing bombing campaigns on Gaza, including nearly 8,000 children.

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A powerful punch.

Maersk Diverts All Vessels From Red Sea (ZH)

There’s been yet another Houthi attack on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, in at least the third serious incident this week, prompting container shipping giant Maersk to order any of its vessels near the southern entrance of the Red Sea to immediately halt their voyages. “Following the near-miss incident involving Maersk Gibraltar yesterday and yet another attack on a container vessel today, we have instructed all Maersk vessels in the area bound to pass through the Bab al-Mandab Strait to pause their journey until further notice,” the Danish international liner confirmed Friday, per Bloomberg. “In this latest incident, ballistic missiles and a drone were fired from Houthi held territory in Yemen and struck a Liberian-flagged cargo ship near the Bab El-Mandeb Strait, according to a Pentagon official. A second vessel in the same area also came under attack close in time to the first.”

According to breaking details relayed in Reuters: Attacks from Houthi-controlled Yemen struck two Liberian-flagged ships in the Bab al-Mandab Strait on Friday, a U.S. defense official said, underlining the threat to vessels in shipping lanes being targeted by the Iran-aligned group. A projectile, believed to be a drone, struck one of the vessels, the German-owned Al Jasrah, causing a fire but no injuries, the official said. Two ballistic missiles were fired in the second attack, one of which struck a vessel, causing a fire which the crew was working to extinguish, the official said.” A Houthi statement subsequently identified that the MSC Alanya and MSC Palatium III were the targeted vessels in the attack. It’s unclear whether they are Israeli-linked, however it is clear that the vessels were sailing the direction of Israeli ports when they were struck. US Navy and other coalition warships are reportedly en route to assist the damaged ships – with potential casualties unknown at this point.

The impact of this fresh pair of attacks has been felt immediately by markets (note: rerouting of traditional routes means chaos as buyers need to scramble to ensure they have priority to new routes, and this in turn leads to surge in charter rates and boost to shipper revenues), per Bloomberg: “Shipping stocks extend their surge as Maersk tells its vessels in the Red Sea area to pause their journeys, following recent militant attacks on merchant ships. The attacks have raised fears of disruptions to container shipping.” Crucially, Maersk has now confirmed that its tankers will avoid the Red Sea altogether. This directive has reportedly already been sent out. As of late last month, the Maersk exodus had already begun: “Ships with links to Israel are diverting in greater numbers from the Red and Arabian Seas following a series of attacks over the past 11 days by Houthis, Iranians and Somalis. Danish liner giant Maersk became the latest big name to announce that a pair of its ships on charter – Lisa and Maersk Pagani – will be diverted with cargoes discharged in the United Arab Emirates resulting in delays of more than a week. “This decision has been made with careful consideration of various factors, prioritizing the safety of crew, the vessel, and your cargo,” Maersk stated in an advisory to clients.

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“… at least via three different channels of communication, sent signals as to why don’t we meet and talk about what to do with Ukraine and with European security..”

West Secretly Urging Russia-Ukraine Talks – Lavrov (RT)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that multiple Western leaders had approached him about potential negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine, saying the Kremlin is ready for dialogue so long as it respects Moscow’s core interests. Speaking alongside his Belarusian counterpart Sergey Aleinik on Friday, Lavrov told reporters that some Western powers were increasingly interested in a negotiated settlement, though declined to single out any country by name. “I do not want to and I have no right to name names, but a number of high-level, well-known leaders of Western countries, including one specific Western leader, a very well-known one, several times, … at least via three different channels of communication, sent signals as to why don’t we meet and talk about what to do with Ukraine and with European security,” he said.

Lavrov added that Russia is “always ready to discuss these issues seriously,” but suggested Kiev had been the unwilling party, saying “We have never rejected the negotiations and this question should not be addressed to us.” However, the FM stressed that any talks would have to account for “Russia’s legitimate interests” and must mean “putting an end to attempts to build [one’s] own security at the expense of others,” referring to Ukraine’s efforts to join the NATO bloc. Though Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met for multiple rounds of talks in the weeks after Moscow launched its military operation, the discussions soon collapsed. Kiev has shown little interest in further dialogue in the months since, with President Vladimir Zelensky even signing a decree barring any talks with the current Kremlin leadership.

During a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) earlier this month, Lavrov recalled that the two sides had essentially reached a peace agreement following talks in Istanbul in March 2022, noting that senior Ukrainian MP David Arakhamia, who led his country’s delegation, had recently confirmed this. A key political ally of Zelensky, Arakhamia said that Russia’s primary goal had been to pressure Ukraine to accept neutrality and abandon plans to join NATO. Kiev did not trust Moscow to keep its word and wanted “security guarantees” from third parties, Arakhamia said, also pointing out then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s role in discouraging the talks.

Western leaders have so far said little about new peace talks in their public comments, though recent media reports have indicated that US and European officials have quietly broached the issue behind the scenes. According to US officials cited by NBC, Washington is now “worried that Ukraine is running out of forces” and cannot succeed on the battlefield, reportedly prompting new interest in negotiations.

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“He’s going to want a lot of money to continue, to not only sustain the funding of the Ukrainian state, but also to sustain the greasing of Ukrainian corruption, because that’s the only thing that keeps Zelensky in power.”

Scott Ritter: Ukrainian Military to Crumble by Mid-2024 (Sp.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s charm offensive has failed, as US members of Congress are fixing to leave for winter break without passing Biden’s $61 billion package for Kiev. Even though the Democratic-controlled Senate has delayed holiday recess to unlock the aid, the House shows no sign of returning to pass it through the full Congress. “The day of the West turning over hundreds of tanks, hundreds of armored fighting vehicles, hundreds of artillery pieces is over,” Scott Ritter, a military analyst and former US Marine Corps intelligence officer, told Sputnik. “We just don’t have any left to give. So the best Zelensky can hope for is your penny packets of armor, penny packets of infantry fighting vehicles, some ammunition, and maybe an F-16 or two. He’s going to want a lot of money to continue, to not only sustain the funding of the Ukrainian state, but also to sustain the greasing of Ukrainian corruption, because that’s the only thing that keeps Zelensky in power.”

The US House of Representatives voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 14. The bill extended the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative through the end of 2026, authorizing $300 million for Kiev in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024, as well as the next one. Still, the US media admits that it’s just a drop in the bucket when compared to the $61 billion requested by Biden. Both American voters and members of Congress have grown skeptical about funneling more money into Ukraine. Almost 50 percent of US voters believe Washington is spending “too much” in military and financial aid for Ukraine, as per the latest FT-Michigan Ross monthly survey. The sentiment is largely explained by Kiev’s crushing defeat during the summer counteroffensive.

Meanwhile, Kiev officials behave as if they are absolutely unaware of the troublesome trend. Earlier this month, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense handed over a “list of armaments to meet the needs of Ukraine’s defense forces” to their American counterparts. In addition to artillery shells, F-16 fighters, drones, and missiles the list also included F-18 Hornet fighter jets, Boeing Apache attack helicopters, Lockheed Martin Black Hawk choppers, and even the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) air defense system, among other top-notch weapons. Per Ritter, there’s zero chance whatsoever that Ukraine will ever see anything on that wish list, with the exception of perhaps a handful of old F-16 fighters and a fraction of the artillery ammunition that they’ve requested.

“This is a sign of absolute panic on the part of Ukraine,” Ritter believes. “Zelensky is approaching a delusional state where he appears to be of a mindset similar to that which Adolf Hitler possessed in the final days in the Berlin bunker as the Red Army closed in, where he fantasized armies, he was moving nonexistent troops and aircraft on a map with his hands.” The former Marine intelligence officer explained that providing sophisticated weaponry to Kiev is throwing away money and throwing away capability in the eyes of Washington. Furthermore, Russia knocking out F-18 fighter jets or THAADs would create a bad precedent, let alone the security challenge of US technologies falling into the hands of the Russian military, according to Ritter.

“Ukraine does not factor into the legitimate national security interests of the United States,” the military expert highlighted. “We are not going to sacrifice ourselves on the altar of Ukrainian nationalism. We’ve given them some support, but that support was merely sufficient to create the perception of Ukrainian strength. But we were never going to give the Ukrainians the ability to win this war, because they were never going to have the ability to win this war. Ukraine cannot defeat Russia. They’re not physically capable of defeating Russia, regardless of the equipment that the West gives them. So why would we sacrifice the best equipment we have on this altar?”

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No ruse. Orban knew what was happening.

Scholz Pulled Ruse On Orban To Start Ukraine Accession Talks – Politico (RT)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz managed to get Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban out of the room at a key EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday so that he would not veto a motion to begin formal accession talks with Ukraine, Politico reported on Friday. The ruse reportedly allowed the EU to move forward with the process. While the EU Council recommended opening membership talks with Kiev in November, Orban has repeatedly criticized the initiative, branding Ukraine “one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” and claiming that it had failed to meet the necessary conditions for such a decision. EU leaders attempted to persuade Orban to change his stance during marathon negotiations in Brussels on Thursday.

Finally, about three hours into the talks, Scholz told Orban that “he should consider leaving the room briefly,” and, perhaps go “grab a coffee outside,” Politico reported, adding that the idea behind the suggestion was that EU leaders would be able to unanimously approve the move while Orban would be able to say that he had not voted in favor. According to Politico’s sources, while Scholz’s down-to-earth strategy raised some eyebrows both in the EU and beyond, it had been “pre-agreed” and carried out in a “constructive manner.” One official told the magazine that the German chancellor resorted to “an old trick from his time with the Young Socialists,” the youth wing of his Social Democratic Party. The ground for the ploy, according to the magazine, was set in the previous hours of the summit that saw many EU leaders piling strong pressure on Orban, attempting to debunk his arguments that Ukraine was not worthy of being given a path to joining the bloc.

Finally, while Orban did not veto the accession talks with Ukraine, he called the decision “completely senseless, irrational, and incorrect.” Nevertheless, he still blocked the EU’s four-year plan to allocate €50 billion ($54 billion) for Ukraine. Orban’s chief political adviser previously insisted that Budapest could sign on for the move if the EU unfreezes all of the €30 billion earmarked for Hungary that was blocked over corruption and rule-of-law concerns. Brussels previously unlocked €10 billion, citing Budapest’s progress on judicial reforms to make the country’s courts more independent.

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“We were not involved in this decision, we were not responsible for it and we were exempt from its consequences..”

Hungary May Impose Veto On Ukraine’s EU Accession Talks – FM (TASS)

Hungary will veto the European Union’s talks on the accession of Ukraine if they are found to be detrimental to Hungarian interests, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in an interview with Mandiner magazine. “The European Union has decided to start accession talks with Ukraine,” Hungary’s top diplomat said. “This is a principled decision, which has no practical significance whatsoever.” “In case Brussels, tries to squeeze in during the preparations for the real talks on the [Ukrainian] accession something that would harm us, we will be forced to resort to the tool of tough veto,” Szijjarto stressed.

Having called as “completely irrational” a decision to launch talks on Ukraine’s EU accession, the Hungarian foreign minister recalled that his country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban did not participate in negotiations on this issue at the most recent EU summit in Brussels. According to Szijjarto, it was the best PM Orban could do in that situation, as the leaders of the other 26 EU countries insisted on providing the green light to Ukraine’s accession process. “We were not involved in this decision, we were not responsible for it and we were exempt from its consequences,” the Hungarian foreign minister added. Speaking to journalists last Friday ahead of the European Union’s Summit in Brussels on December 14-15 Orban said: “No sense of launching talks today with Ukraine [on EU’s admission].”

Hungary’s Premier Orban stated previously in the month that he objected to including the issue of Ukraine’s EU membership on the agenda of the organization’s meeting in Brussels on December 14-15. Hungary has repeatedly stated its intention to keep channels of communication with Russia open in order to continue looking for ways to resolve the Ukraine crisis, among other things. Putin and Orban focused on this issue at their meeting in Beijing on the sidelines of the Belt and Road international forum on October 17.

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It’s a popular move…

Austrian Leader Skipped Russian Sanctions Vote – Politico (RT)

European Union member states have agreed to a 12th package of sanctions against Russia; however, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who had been holding up a decision on the latest set of punitive measures targeting Moscow, was reportedly not in the room, Politico reported. While the text of the package had been agreed upon by all countries earlier this week, Austria reportedly wasn’t able to give its final approval until late Thursday, saying it needed time to examine the legal text. Reuters earlier wrote that sources familiar with the matter said the country had been trying to have Raiffeisen Bank International, the largest Western bank still operating in Russia, taken off a Ukrainian blacklist in return for Vienna’s willingness to sign off on new EU sanctions against Moscow.

European diplomats told Politico that Nehammer’s absence was just a coincidence, as he had left the room to speak with EC President Ursula von der Leyen about the EU accession of Romania and Bulgaria. However, ironically, earlier in the day, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán seemed to have resorted to the same maneuver. Orban left the leaders’ room when they decided to go ahead with accession talks for Ukraine, to allow for a unanimous decision in what the media wrote was “the coffee break that saved Ukraine’s membership talks.” According to Reuters, despite Austria’s reported efforts to take it off Ukraine’s blacklist, Raiffeisen is still there. The new penalties include a direct ban on imports of non-industrial Russian diamonds starting from January 1 and a phased ban on diamond imports from third countries starting from March, in alignment with the G7 countries. Other sanctions include toughening the proof required of companies which claim they adhere to the G7 Russian oil price cap.

The package also added measures to prevent Russia from getting dual-use goods by obliging EU companies’ counterparties to sign contracts when buying certain products which prohibit their re-sale to Russia. A notification procedure for Russian citizens or entities in Russia wishing to transfer more than 100,000 euros (over $109,000) out of the EU was also incorporated into the sanctions package. The EU has already imposed 11 rounds of sanctions on Russia since the beginning of its conflict with Ukraine in early 2022, aiming to weaken the country’s economy by depriving it of access to critical technology and markets, and by curtailing its income from the export of raw materials. In response, Russia has redirected much of its trade to Asia, primarily India and China. Speaking during a marathon Q&A session on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the US and its allies are largely “shooting themselves in the foot” by slapping Russia with new sanctions, which he said ended up hurting them more than they did Moscow.

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“Neither the United States nor the Europeans even have the stockpiles to undertake a war… We are so depleted right now, we wouldn’t even be able to fight a one-front war..”

Biden Lacks ‘End Game’ in ‘Doomed’ Ukraine Project – Analyst (Sp.)

The ‘Ukraine’ project “is doomed,” and the regime in Kiev “has already lost,” Michael Maloof, former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, told Sputnik. “The Biden administration, and I think even some European countries now are seeing the inevitability of that,” he added. With the much-heralded Ukraine counteroffensive turning out to be a total flop, despite the enormous military assistance that the US and its NATO allies have doled out, the mainstream media has now stopped talking about any so-called ‘successes’ by the Zelensky regime and has gone practically silent. So currently, given the open admissions that Kiev’s counteroffensive was a disaster, ‘Ukraine fatigue’ is now gaining ground both in the US and Europe. Meanwhile, the Russian Armed Forces have transitioned to an offensive stance in the special military operation zone and are advancing along the entire contact line, as emphasized by President Vladimir Putin during his annual press conference on December 14.

Ukraine’s military, according to Maloof, had seriously lacked one particular element from the start – air power. “They didn’t have the air power to deal with tank traps, mines that the Russians built up over time. And it devolved into trench warfare,” he said. As for Western countries, in their frenzy to fuel NATO’s proxy conflict against Russia in Ukraine, they ended up facing depleted weapons and munitions stocks. “Neither the United States nor the Europeans even have the stockpiles to undertake a war… We are so depleted right now, we wouldn’t even be able to fight a one-front war,” said Maloof. Weighing in on talk by the West to “help the Ukrainians to build up their own indigenous military production capabilities,” the retired senior security policy analyst dismissed it as “silly.” He recalled that Russia recently warned that if Ukraine were to start manufacturing these weapons on its soil, such facilities would be deemed a legitimate target.

“Well, that also applies to the F-16s that they [Kiev regime] hope and pray to get,” stressed Maloof, and continued: “But first, pilots have to be trained in English to understand the instructions, and that could take years. So in addition to the training, so even if they were based in Ukraine, they’re going to be taken out. Could the Ukrainians launch these F-16s from a NATO country? If they did that, it immediately involves a NATO country… And Russia would have a right to respond.” Of course, Ukraine’s President Volodymy Zelensky had been offered a chance at a negotiated settlement, but he was pressured by then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, other Western leaders, to reject Russia’s generous terms with the promise of more arms. Well, now “that’s faltering,” the former US Defense Department staff member succinctly pointed out. Ukrainian President Zelensky failed miserably in his last ditch effort to win a funding package worth over $60 billion from American lawmakers.

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“The EU membership talks were granted no doubt as a way to distract from the fact that the EU funds were not forthcoming and especially following the miserable response from U.S. lawmakers..”

Zelensky’s Global Begging Tour Is an Obscene Fiasco (SCF)

The United States’ proxy war in Ukraine against Russia has cost the lives of up to 400,000 Ukrainian soldiers. In the last six months alone, it is estimated that over 120,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed in a failed counteroffensive. Even Western media are coyly admitting the grim reality of failure after much-vaunted predictions last year of imminent victory against Russia. Yet nearly two years after the conflict erupted, the leader of the puppet regime in Kiev persists in begging for billions more in funds from his Western sponsors to continue the bloodbath – the biggest armed confrontation in Europe since the Second World War. The hostilities can be traced back to the 2014 coup in Kiev orchestrated by the CIA and precipitated by the European Union and Washington trying to cleave traditional Ukrainian relations with Russia.

Those hostilities culminated in February 2022 in what can be seen as a U.S.-led proxy war against Russia. A war that has failed for the Western powers and needs to be peacefully negotiated to spare further death and destruction. This week, however, saw Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky going to Washington “cap in hand” to plead for $60 billion in additional funds. His begging mission failed. The U.S. Congress refused to pass the supplemental bill requested on his behalf by President Joe Biden for Ukraine. After that humiliation, Zelensky then turned his solicitation to the European Union. The EU, by turn, failed to agree on a requested fund for $54 billion for Ukraine. As a sort of consolation prize, the EU leaders at their two-day summit in Brussels declared that Ukraine could start negotiations for eventually gaining access to the 27-member bloc.

That decision was bombastically hailed as “historic” but it seemed more theatre than substance given that the negotiations will take several years to conduct and there is no guarantee at the end of the tedious process that Ukraine will actually gain EU membership. Will Ukraine even exist as a state in a few years, as our columnist Stephen Karganovic ponders in an article this week? The EU membership talks were granted no doubt as a way to distract from the fact that the EU funds were not forthcoming and especially following the miserable response from U.S. lawmakers. The whole sorry saga indicates that the U.S.-led proxy war in Ukraine has become a deplorable black hole for Western public money. Given the military debacle and the futile bloodshed, it is becoming politically untenable for Washington and Brussels to keep shovelling billions of taxpayer money into this abyss.

Up for the asking this week was a total of nearly $100 billion between the U.S. and Europe for Ukraine. How many badly needed public services in Western states could do with – and are denied – that kind of financial sustenance? The spectacle of Zelensky touring the world scrounging for more money is as shameful as it is sordid. Official figures show that the Western governments have already donated a combined total of $200 billion to Ukraine since the conflict escalated in February 2022. To put that largesse into perspective, it is estimated that the U.S. Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of the whole of Europe following World War Two was equivalent to $173 billion in today’s money. Think about that. The Western funding to Ukraine already exceeds this historic salvage package by some $30 billion. And yet Western governments are trying to muster another $100 billion on top of that.

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“..a long-overdue project to fabricate a history for Ukraine..”

Cranking Up the Ukraine Phoney History Mill (Karganovic)

What took the British so long? We learned from the Guardian recently that British “partners” have embarked on a long-overdue project to fabricate a history for Ukraine, “to wrest Ukraine’s past from the shadow of Russian and Soviet narratives.” Projection is evident right from the start. A narrative, the definition of which is a self-serving false account, is being concocted in London to counter not another equally false narrative but to undermine the historically attested perception shared by inhabitants of both contemporary Russia and Ukraine that they are, indeed, “one people.” That is exactly what was pointed out in you know who’s famous essay ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,“ published in the summer of 2021. Ever since, those essentially commonplace historical assertions, acknowledged for at least the last millennium as axiomatic by all the locals from Kiev to Moscow, have disconcerted quite a few nation-builders in the collective West.

And that precisely is the reason for the Ukraine history project which lately has obsessed British minds. The construction of a viable anti-Russia is glaringly incomplete unless endowed with a suitable “history” written to reflect not just Ukraine’s supposed distinctness but more importantly its antithetical nature in relation to Russia. The task of the London-based Ukrainian History Global Initiative is to fill the embarrassing gap in the scholarship by hiring a bevy of what in the narcissistic West passes for reputable academics for the job. The undertaking has been conceived by serious hybrid warfare operatives to supersede the inadequate and primitive rants of native propaganda assets with a glossy, sophisticated version of exactly the same rants, but skilfully packaged as respectable scholarship in order to impress the simpleminded.

The Ukrainian History Initiative is expected to complete its work in three years and has been entrusted to ninety largely non-Ukrainian, Western academics. It is chaired by Swedish politician Karl Bildt (whose credentials as a historian are not clear) and includes such luminaries as the stridently anti-Russian Yale historian Timothy Snyder, intelligence asset Anne Applebaum (who just happened to fall in love and marry Russian fifth-columnist Ilya Ponomarev), British lawyer and KC Philippe Sands, and Klaus Schwab associate Yuval Harari, among others.

It may seem odd that the fabrication of Ukrainian history is being managed from London, not having been entrusted to the intellectual brain-power of the Kiev regime, the party which presumably should be interested the most in the success of this academic travesty. Western curators, however, prefer to keep such undertakings under tight control and to delegate execution to reliable staff. The identical approach – seemingly just as odd, but not really – was employed several years ago for the fabrication of the “Montenegrin language”. The new language was created by a committee composed entirely of foreigners, without a single Montenegrin. Just as NATO satrapy Ukraine would be incomplete without a history, for roughly similar reasons the new NATO satellite Montenegro would appear inauthentic without a separate language.

The front man for the Ukraine history operation is an individual by the name of Viktor Pinchuk, self-identified on the internet page of the Fund bearing his name as “a Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist.” Specific information about Pinchuk’s “philanthropic” activities, beyond the tritely stated goal of “empowering future generations to become the change makers of tomorrow,” is scarce. The fact, however, that Pinchuk’s business accomplishments date back to the early 1990s, an era not particularly remembered for its philanthropic spirit, suggests the origin and manner of acquisition of his considerable wealth. And to boot, Pinchuk is the son-in-law of Ukraine’s second President, the notoriously corrupt Leonid Kuchma, whose pointedly entitled book, “Ukraine is not Russia,” should probably prove enormously helpful to the scholars being assembled in Britain to give an academic articulation to precisely such an idea. A chip off the old block indeed.

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CNN wants you to think “Putin sought to help Trump win the 2016 election..”

The Mystery of the Missing Binder (CNN)

A binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference went missing at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, raising alarms among intelligence officials that some of the most closely guarded national security secrets from the US and its allies could be exposed, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Its disappearance, which has not been previously reported, was so concerning that intelligence officials briefed Senate Intelligence Committee leaders last year about the missing materials and the government’s efforts to retrieve them, the sources said. In the two-plus years since Trump left office, the missing intelligence does not appear to have been found. The binder contained raw intelligence the US and its NATO allies collected on Russians and Russian agents, including sources and methods that informed the US government’s assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Trump win the 2016 election, sources tell CNN.

The intelligence was so sensitive that lawmakers and congressional aides with top secret security clearances were able to review the material only at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where their work scrutinizing it was itself kept in a locked safe. The binder was last seen at the White House during Trump’s final days in office. The former president had ordered it brought there so he could declassify a host of documents related to the FBI’s Russia investigation. Under the care of then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, the binder was scoured by Republican aides working to redact the most sensitive information so it could be declassified and released publicly. The Russian intelligence was just a small part of the collection of documents in the binder, described as being 10 inches thick and containing reams of information about the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

But the raw intelligence on Russia was among its most sensitive classified materials, and top Trump administration officials repeatedly tried to block the former president from releasing the documents. The day before leaving office, Trump issued an order declassifying most of the binder’s contents, setting off a flurry of activity in the final 48 hours of his presidency. Multiple copies of the redacted binder were created inside the White House, with plans to distribute them across Washington to Republicans in Congress and right-wing journalists. Instead, copies initially sent out were frantically retrieved at the direction of White House lawyers demanding additional redactions. Just minutes before Joe Biden was inaugurated, Meadows rushed to the Justice Department to hand-deliver a redacted copy for a last review. Years later, the Justice Department has yet to release all of the documents, despite Trump’s declassification order. Additional copies with varying levels of redactions ended up at the National Archives.

But an unredacted version of the binder containing the classified raw intelligence went missing amid the chaotic final hours of the Trump White House. The circumstances surrounding its disappearance remain shrouded in mystery. US officials repeatedly declined to discuss any government efforts to locate the binder or confirm that any intelligence was missing. The binder was not among the classified items found in last year’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, according to a US official familiar with the matter, who said the FBI was not looking specifically for intelligence related to Russia when it obtained a search warrant for the former president’s residence last year. There’s also no reference to the binder or the missing Russian intelligence in the June indictment of Trump over the mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

One theory has emerged about the binder’s whereabouts. Cassidy Hutchinson, one of Meadows’ top aides, testified to Congress and wrote in her memoir that she believes Meadows took home an unredacted version of the binder. She said it had been kept in Meadows’ safe and that she saw him leave with it from the White House. “I am almost positive it went home with Mr. Meadows,” Hutchinson told the January 6 committee in closed-door testimony, according to transcripts released last year. A lawyer for Meadows, however, strongly denies that Meadows mishandled any classified information at the White House, saying any suggestion Meadows was responsible for classified information going missing was “flat wrong.” “Mr. Meadows was keenly aware of and adhered to requirements for the proper handling of classified material, any such material that he handled or was in his possession has been treated accordingly and any suggestion that he is responsible for any missing binder or other classified information is flat wrong,” Meadows attorney George Terwilliger said in a statement to CNN. “Anyone and any entity suggesting that he is responsible for anything missing does not have facts and should exercise great care before making false allegations.”

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Linus

 

 


[Tardigrades are usually about 0.5 mm (0.020 in) ] Tardigrades can survive the most extreme conditions and the same is true for their eggs, which show a remarkable geometric beauty. Tardigrades have survived all five recognized mass extinctions due to their plethora of survival characteristics, including the ability to survive conditions that would be fatal to almost all other animals.

 

 


Arnold Newman Picasso 1962

 

 

Thank you
https://twitter.com/i/status/1735351446147584366

 

 

 

 

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