This is the story of how a multibillionaire who has dedicated his life to advancing the cause of the Israeli national security state is now in control of Great Britain’s most sensitive public and military data.
In 2020, software giant Oracle won a gigantic contract with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide it with cloud infrastructure, digital assistance, data visualization software, mobile hub and development tools. The military is far from the only British institution entrusting its most sensitive data to the Texas-based firm, however. The Home Office, Office of National Statistics and National Health Service, among others, also rely on Oracle databases to function.
For years before signing the MoD agreement, Oracle founder Larry Ellison had been ingratiating himself with the British establishment, employing all manner of well-connected individuals at his foundation. Among these included media executive and father-in-law of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Matthew Symonds, who earned over $600,000 per year as the executive director of the Larry Ellison Foundation. Richard Meredith, a longtime director of the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was also snapped up at a similar salary to become deputy executive director.
Many other well-connected British government officials, including Vel Gnanendran, went straight from the Larry Ellison Foundation into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and worked there at the time that the body signed off on the lucrative Oracle contracts. For years, the Larry Ellison Foundation also bankrolled the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the former U.K. prime minister’s new political project.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently visited Palestine, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority “President” Mahmoud Abbas. People ask in wonder what was achieved, what the United States might do to relieve the tensions, and whether it is possible that the U.S. can bring about the renewal of “peace negotiations.”
However, no such serious advances were made, and apparently they were not even discussed. Indeed, it seems that they were not even needed. According to the official State Department website, Blinken said,
We bolstered our assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, including approximately $50 million in new funding that I announced today in Ramallah, enabling the provision of essential services like food, vaccines, education, as well as vital aid for refugees. That brings U.S. total funding for Palestinians over the last two years to nearly $940 million. We’re supporting quality health care through the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, and we’re making real progress toward implementing an agreement to provide a 4G network in the Palestinian territories.”
On Monday morning, February 6, Israeli forces conducted a deadly raid on the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, located southwest of Jericho in the Jordan Valley. Aqabat Jabr is the largest refugee camp in the West Bank.
The raid comes more than a week after a Palestinian allegedly opened fire at a restaurant near the illegal settlement of Almog on January 28. No one was injured in the shooting, and the shooter fled the scene. Israeli forces subsequently launched a week-long manhunt that has entailed the closure of the Jericho area, and which has culminated with this morning’s raid.
Palestinians are describing the raid as an “assassination mission” targeting wanted resistance fighters in the area.
A Canadian teenager was arrested on Monday after he turned up at his rural Ontario school, despite being suspended for expressing his views on transgender policies.
Josh Alexander, 16, was suspended in November from St. Joseph's Catholic High School in Renfrew, Ontario - a small town 80 miles west of Ottawa.
Alexander, a devout Christian, said he told his fellow students he believed only two genders; that students cannot switch between genders; and that students born male should not be permitted into the girls' bathroom.
A devastating 7.8 earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria this week, and more than 11,000 people have already been confirmed killed in one of the biggest natural disasters in the region in decades.
There has been an outpouring of international assistance to Turkey in the wake of the devastation. The U.S. and dozens of other states have been quick to offer help, including the deployment of teams to assist in rescuing survivors still trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Millions of refugees from the Syrian war in Turkey are among those affected by the destruction and displacement caused by the earthquake.
Unfortunately, reports are already indicating that relief efforts in Syria are being severely hampered thanks to the policies of the Syrian government, the political divisions created by the war, and broad U.S. sanctions. The Syrian government requires all humanitarian aid intended for the areas they control to go through them, which inevitably slows down the delivery of aid. The Assad regime should open all border crossings it controls and give up on its official grip on the distribution of aid, but the U.S. is in a poor position to influence their government to make these changes.
However, the U.S. can make important and constructive changes to its own policies.
A 16-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed in Nablus on Tuesday morning, making him the sixth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank in the span of 24 hours.
According to Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), 16-year-old Hamza Ashqar was shot and killed by Israeli forces at around 3:20 am Tuesday morning during an Israeli military incursion into the Al-Masaken Al-Sha’bya neighborhood of Nablus.
Ashqar and a group of boys from the New Askar refugee camp were confronting Israeli forces with rocks and other objects, which they threw towards military vehicles as the army withdrew from the area.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Biden took aim at China and said winning the “competition” with Beijing should “unite all of us.”
“Before I came to office, the story was about how the People’s Republic of China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world. Not anymore,” the president said.
Biden insisted that he made clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he seeks “competition, not conflict.” But the president said he makes “no apologies” for the fact that the US was investing in “industries that will define the future, and that China’s government is intent on dominating.”
Part of President Biden’s strategy to compete with China is through harsh sanctions that intend to cripple China’s semiconductor industry. As part of this effort, his administration is pressuring Japan and the Netherlands to also limit chip exports to China.
Webmaster addition: Biden barely mentioned Ukraine in his speech. His focus is on China and starting a new war there to distract from the fact that Ukraine, like Afghanistan, has been badly bungled.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Tuesday said the US and NATO were trying to prolong the war in Ukraine and that their military aid and other support for Kyiv threatens an “unpredictable escalation.”
“The United States and its allies have been trying to prolong the conflict as much as possible. For this purpose, they are supplying ‘heavy offensive weapons’ and openly calling on Ukraine to seize Russian territories,” Shoigu said, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
“Such moves are actually drawing NATO countries into the conflict and can eventually lead to an unpredictable escalation,” Shoigu added. His comments came after a series of escalations of Western military aid, including heavy tanks and longer-range missiles that can hit targets up to 94 miles away.
The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) on Tuesday called for the lifting of US and other Western economic sanctions on Syria following a massive earthquake that has killed over 7,000 people in Syria and Turkey.
“The evacuation process and rescue operations are restricted due to obstacles resulting from the severe sanctions,” said Khaled Hboubati, president of the SARC. He said the sanctions are preventing Syria from acquiring machinery needed to rescue people from the rubble.
“I mean specific machinery that lifts the rubble without injuring people trapped under the rubble. The economic sanctions imposed on our country is the main obstacle to getting this machinery,” Hboubati said.
“With this, we demand for the lifting of economic sanctions and the siege in order … to allow aid deliveries and humanitarian actions to be implemented by SARC and other bodies,” he said.
Matt Taibbi joins CN Live! to discuss the implications of his Twitter Files revelations, including his latest on Hamilton 68 and its fatal blow to the Russiagate narrative. With Chris Hedges and John Kiriakou. Watch the replay.
One of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right allies said on Tuesday Israel would not freeze Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank, a week after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed Israel to halt construction.
"There will be no construction freeze in Judea and Samaria period," a statement from Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism party said on Tuesday, using a term common in Israel for the West Bank.
Senior members of Netanyahu's far-right coalition have sought to further expand Jewish settlement in the West Bank, which was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and where Palestinians have long aimed to establish a state. Most world powers consider Israel's settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal.
On a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories last week, Blinken repeated U.S. calls for a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and called publicly for an end to settlement expansion.
According to Colonel Markus Reisner, the military strategist of the Austrian Ministry of Defence, Ukraine does not need NATO soldiers, as they are already there on the frontlines as mercenaries.
As reported by RIA Novosti, Reisner’s remark came in response to a question during a press conference at the AIES Institute. One of the journalists asked him who would be managing the proposed transfer of tanks to Ukraine – NATO servicemen or Ukrainians.
Reisner replied that if the military from Austria or NATO countries retired from service and became mercenaries, then they could no longer be considered representatives of the armies of their states.
He explained that the serviceman takes off his uniform, signs a contract and goes to Ukraine – now he is not a soldier, for example, of the Austrian armed forces, but a contract mercenary. In his opinion, there are a large number of mercenaries on the territory of Ukraine and not soldiers of the alliance.
A peace deal being pushed by powerful Western nations to resolve tensions between Serbia and Kosovo fails to address mutual recognition, which essentially means it would fail to achieve real progress, analysts have told Al Jazeera.
Among the provisions in the proposal touted by France, Germany and the United States, Serbia would not explicitly recognise Kosovo’s independence but would have to stop lobbying against its membership in international bodies, such as the United Nations.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tore into comedian Joe Rogan on Tuesday for saying that "the idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous" and "like saying Italians aren't into pizza!"
Joe Rogan on his podcast Saturday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D-MN) tweet from 2019 saying that US political leaders support for Israel is driven by Jewish megadonors and is "all about the Benjamins baby."
Semiconductor chips are often compared to the beating heart driving technology innovation. But with the United States restricting exports of critical semiconductor components and technology to China, questions are mounting over how long the world's second largest economy can maintain a pulse.
Core technologies are China's Achilles' heel, despite having the world's strongest industrial manufacturing capability, and they are easy prey for Washington in its strategy of tech containment.
Without mastery of the fiendishly complex chips that power everything from cars to smartphones, President Xi Jinping's hopes of transforming China into the pre-eminent global digital power, while surpassing the US to become the No 1 economy in the world, could fall apart.
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Nikki Haley will reportedly announce the start of her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on February 15, becoming the first GOP 2024 candidate after Donald Trump. Since it’s likely that Haley will emphasize foreign policy issues in pitching her candidacy, it’s worth examining her public record more closely to see what kind of foreign policy she thinks the U.S. should pursue.
There is no question that Haley is a long-shot contender for the nomination. Trump’s decision to seek renomination after his 2020 defeat has created an unusual situation for other potential candidates as they are faced with the prospect of having to compete with a former president. But as a former governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, her presidential ambitions have been no secret – one of the main reasons why she went to work for Trump in 2017 was to further those ambitions.
Once hailed as one of the future leaders of the party, Haley is one of those Republican “rising stars” that hasn’t risen very far yet. Her 2016 endorsement of Marco Rubio ahead of the South Carolina primary was supposed to represent the dawn of a “new” Republican Party, but it turned out that Haley’s endorsement didn’t count for much in her home state. Now Haley is arguably too close to Trump to please his opponents, but she is also not enough of a loyalist to satisfy his core supporters. In trying to have things both ways for years, repeatedly switching between embracing and criticizing Trump, Haley has left herself with no obvious base of support. Like Marco Rubio, Haley will probably have a much bigger cheering section among hawkish policy intellectuals than she will among primary voters.
A Japanese court on Tuesday rejected a damage suit filed by a group of children of Hiroshima atomic bombing survivors seeking government support for medical costs, saying the hereditary impact of radiation exposure is still unknown.
A group of 28 plaintiffs whose parents suffered radiation exposure in the Aug. 6, 1945, U.S. atomic attack were demanding the central government include them in the medical support available to survivors.
The Hiroshima District Court said the possibility of a hereditary effect from radiation cannot be denied, but there is no established scientific consensus and the government’s exclusion of the plaintiffs from medical support is not unconstitutional.
The government has insisted there is no scientific evidence showing a hereditary effect from parents’ radiation exposure on their children.
The U.S. Space Force said a power surge during a lightning storm likely caused a mechanical issue that allowed about 700 gallons (2,750 liters) of diesel fuel to spill last week at the environmentally sensitive and culturally important summit of Haleakala mountain on Hawaii's Maui Island.
Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, the commander of the U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific, said a team will take measurements to better understand the severity of the contamination. Mastalir said it's impossible to know right now how far the diesel fuel seeped into the ground.
The spill occurred at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex at the summit of Haleakala, 10,023 feet (3,055 meters) above sea level. The site hosts hosts the military’s largest optical telescope, which tracks satellites.
A pump that supplies fuel to a backup generator from a storage tank failed to shut off during a lightning storm Jan. 29, Mastalir said at a news conference Monday, The Maui News reported. An alarm should have gone off to notify officials of a potential overflow, but didn't.
The only international aid corridor from Turkey into Syria has been disrupted because of earthquake damage, compounding an already dire humanitarian situation and laying the groundwork for potential wrangling between the Syrian government and the international community.
“It’s chaos. We are not able to rely on anything cross border right now,” Amany Qaddour, regional director of Syria Relief and Development, a US-based non-profit, told Middle East Eye.
Two earthquakes with an epicentre in Turkey have so far killed more than 7,200 people and left a trail of destruction across a wide area of southern Turkey and neighbouring Syria.
Tens of thousands have been injured or left homeless in cities in Turkey and northern Syria. The overall number of people affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria could be 23 million or higher, according to preliminary assessments by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
International aid for Syria has begun pouring into the country following a powerful earthquake on 6 February that devastated the country’s northwest region and left at least 1,444 dead.
In the early hours of 7 February, the first Iranian plane carrying humanitarian aid landed at Damascus International Airport, as the Iranian ambassador to Syria confirmed Tehran would send more planes carrying aid relief.
Other states from West Asia and North Africa that have already delivered aid to Syria include Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi also held a phone conversation with his Syrian counterpart in which he expressed “his sincere condolences for the victims of the devastating earthquake” and reaffirmed Cairo’s solidarity with Damascus. The Egyptian leader also directed officials “to provide all possible aid and relief assistance.”
On Tuesday, Lebanon announced it was sending structural engineers, soldiers, paramedics, and handlers with trained search dogs to the neighboring country, hours after a 100-strong Algerian civil protection team arrived in Aleppo.
Webmaster addition: Good for them. In the face of natural disasters of such scale, it is appropriate to set aside the petty political squabbles and help our fellow human beings.
Turkey’s energy infrastructure has suffered severe damage from the two earthquakes that shook Turkey and neighbor Syria yesterday, killing more than 3,000 people, according to the country’s government.
The first 7.7-magnitude quake damaged a big port on the Mediterranean, Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said, as quoted by news agencies, and later in the day, a fire broke out at the same port.
Operations at the Ceyhan oil terminal were halted as a result of the quake but Turkey’s oil pipelines—Kirkuk-Ceyhan and Balku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan—were undamaged.
Despite the fact that the oil pipelines are intact, there could be delays to operations at the Ceyhan oil terminal, the endpoint of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, a major export line from Kirkuk in Iraq.
What’s more, the Kurdistan Regional Government said it had suspended flows along the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline in the wake of the quake.
Now age 29, Elian Gonzalez has grown up from the child whose 1999 family crisis became the unwitting symbol for the breakdown of Washington-Havana relations to this week becoming a candidate for a seat in Cuba's parliament.
State newspaper Granma on Monday released the list of the 470 candidates running for a spot in the upcoming session of the National Assembly of People's Power, which included Gonzalez, who is currently an executive at a public company.
Gonzalez first gained international notoriety when on Thanksgiving Day 1999 fishermen rescued the five-year-old from a flimsy boat floating between Cuba and Florida after his mother and 10 others had died while trying to reach the United States.
Seen by many as the youth candidate, Gonzalez is running to represent Cardenas, a city 135 kilometers (84 miles) east of Havana.
Candidates were submitted by municipal delegates last week, while voters will have the chance to approve or reject the choices in late March.
There is a strong possibility of Moldova becoming a conflict hotspot so that the West can maintain maximum pressure on Russia’s periphery and bog the country down in more war. This comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the media that the West now has its “eyes” on Moldova and that Moldovan President Maia Sandu is ready to act on any instructions that she receives.
The possibility of Moldova becoming a major European flashpoint has always existed because the Transnistrian conflict has been frozen since July 1992.
If Moldova, in the eyes of officials, becomes even more pro-Western and integrated into Romania, the more likely is that Transnistrians will resolve their right for sovereignty by force. This would turn Moldova into the “next Ukraine”, which will surely see indirect international intervention, and perhaps a direct Russian intervention. Moscow has the ability to support Transnistria, including with financial, diplomatic and military methods to resolve the conflict, and will not hesitate to do so if new provocations emanate from Moldova.
Transnistria, where 60% of the inhabitants are Russian and Ukrainian, had sought to secede from Moldova even before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, fearing that Moldova would join Romania in the face of post-communist nationalism. In 1992, after the Moldovan government failed to resolve the issue by force, Transnistria became an unrecognised territory outside of Chisinau’s control.