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"Everyone has their price. What's surprising is...how low it is" -- Napoleon
At the G7 summit in Hiroshima, much was talking about “de-risking” from China – which seems to be the new preferred terminology. The summit joint statement said:
“we are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognise that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying.”
In the same spirit, US President Joe Biden, on May 21, stated: “we’re not looking to decouple from China, we’re looking to de-risk and diversify our relationship with [it].” The US state department describes “de-risking” somewhat more clearly as “the phenomenon of financial institutions terminating or restricting business relationships with clients or categories of clients to avoid, rather than manage, risk.”
Journalists Keith Johnson and Robbie Gramer in turn, writing for Foreign Policy, define de-risking this way:
“decoupling refers to the deliberate dismantling and eventual re-creation elsewhere of some of the sprawling cross-border supply chains that have defined globalization and especially the U.S.-China relationship in recent decades.”
The State Department has refused to say if it’s engaging with the Ukrainian government over American citizen Gonzalo Lira, who was detained by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) due to his political views on the conflict with Russia.
Lira has a popular YouTube channel and a large following on Twitter and Telegram. He is also a writer who has contributed to several media outlets, including Business Insider. Lira was born in California and is a dual citizen of the US and Chile and had been living in Kharkiv, Ukraine, throughout the war.
Lira is a critic of the Ukrainian government and was arrested by the SBU on charges of justifying the Russian invasion. “After the start of the full-scale invasion, the blogger was one of the first to support the Russian invaders and glorify their war crimes,” the SBU said in a press release referring to Lira.
The SBU also accused Lira of “discrediting the top military and political leadership and the Defense Forces of our state.” He was charged under sections 2 and 3 of Article 436-2 of Ukraine’s criminal code, which outlaws the “distribution of materials” that justify Russia’s actions going back to 2014.
Insurance company Lloyd’s of London has announced its exit from a net-zero alliance for insurers - the sixth such organization to have pulled out from the initiative within a week.
The Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA), convened by the United Nations, seeks to commit group members, composed of the world’s leading insurers and reinsurers, to fighting climate change. As part of this, members have to transition their insurance and reinsurance underwriting portfolios to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. On Friday, Lloyd’s of London quit the NZIA. This took the total number of members who have quit NZIA this week alone to six, which represents a fifth of the organization’s total of 30 members. Since March, a total of 10 members have quit NZIA.
The exodus of major insurance companies has raised questions about NZIA’s viability. None of the six firms that quit this week have made it clear why they left the initiative.
The insurance firms are said to have decided to pull out due to concerns about getting embroiled in disputes about net-zero initiatives in the United States. On May 15, attorneys generals from 23 American states sent a letter to 28 insurance companies asking for information about potential violations of antitrust laws.
Nvidia continues to push forward in the race to develop artificial intelligence (AI) tools and applications as the company revealed plans to release more AI products.
Speaking at the Computex show in Taiwan on May 28, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled a new AI supercomputer platform called DGX GH200. The supercomputer’s primary purpose is to aid tech companies in developing successors to the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT, according to Huang.
Big Tech firms such as Microsoft, Meta and Google’s Alphabet are anticipated to be among some of the pioneering users of the supercomputer equipment.
Huang announced a new service called Nvidia ACE for Games, which targets the video game industry. ACE will utilize AI to help give background characters in games more character.
Several progressive lawmakers, including Representative Cori Bush (D-MO), have called for the United States to pay reparations to black people amounting to $14 trillion in their Reparations NOW resolution.
This call has been echoed by several cities, including Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Asheville, North Carolina, which have commissioned reparations pilot programs. However, these efforts have been met with criticism from conservatives who view them as a "bait and switch" and an attempt to "dig into the history."
Princeton professor Dr. Carol Swain has cautioned Black Americans against believing that the Democrats will come up with a policy that will solve all their problems. She has advised them to look at the people making these promises and their track record of delivering on such promises.
According to Swain, the Democrats see reparations as a way to get Black Americans excited about the 2024 election, believing that electing a Democrat president will push it through Congress. However, Swain believes that the Democrats promise the moon but deliver nothing, and it's more of the same.
Itamar Ben-Gvir’s second visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as Israel’s national security minister on May 21 represents a dangerous mix of religion and politics.
Ben-Gvir was seen standing and reading off his phone, apparently in prayer. Such an act would be forbidden under the current “status quo” governing Al-Aqsa, referred to as the Temple Mount or Har Habayit by Jews, even though a small group of Orthodox Jews is increasingly finding ways to pray on the holy site.
Israeli soldiers broke into a Palestinian elementary school in Beitunia, near Ramallah, and prevented students and teachers from leaving it, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Local sources told WAFA that Israeli occupation forces stormed the Al-Kurom elementary school and held Palestinian students and teachers at gunpoint, threatening to shoot whoever tried to leave the school.
Israel’s attacks on Palestinian education are a daily routine in the occupied West Bank. These include Isreali military raids in schools, harassment, arrest, and assault of children.
The New York Times on Sunday published a piece seeking to divine the motives of Republican opponents of escalation in Ukraine, such as Senators J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley, and Representatives Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna. The upshot was that these figures are beholden to a blinkered America First-ism that calls for “retreating from the rest of the world,” as Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a pro-war Democrat, told the paper.
So far, so humdrum. But one notable bit was the comparison between this “loud GOP minority,” as the headline framed Vance et al., and Rep. Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who in 2001 cast the lone vote against authorizing President George W. Bush to take military action after 9/11. That vote, Gaetz has suggested, makes Lee a “folk hero.” But the Times and Lee herself were quick to dash any parallels between today’s antiwar Republicans and the progressive dissidents of yesteryear.
Lee—who indeed showed tremendous courage and prescience in opposing the disastrous post-9/11 wars—told the paper that in the Ukraine war, “we see a dictatorship invading a democracy. And we need to be on the side of democracy. Whenever you see innocent people being killed by a war criminal, you want to do what you can to support them.” Lee has voted with her party and most Republicans in favor of some military aid for Kiev, though in other cases she has declined to go along.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, designed to ferry astronauts to the moon, has been reportedly found by an audit to be $6 billion over budget and six years behind its original schedule.
Engadget reports that a recent audit has found that NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which is intended to transport astronauts to the moon, is $6 billion over budget and six years behind schedule.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba published a live video on Facebook this weekend defending the Chinese Communist Party from allegations that a special delegation from Beijing that visited Kyiv this month pressured Ukraine to cede occupied territories to Russia.
Kuleba – who met personally with the delegation and its leader, former Chinese ambassador to Russia Li Hui – said that, following a report accusing China of fighting for Russian interests published in the Wall Street Journal, he reached out to other foreign diplomats who met with the delegation and could not find any to confirm the story.
Kuleba’s defense of China is the latest in a string of compliments and defenses out of the Ukrainian government backing China, which President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly and enthusiastically encouraged to meddle in the conflict. Zelensky has repeatedly urged genocidal Chinese dictator Xi Jinping to speak with him – which Xi did in April – and “Chinese businesses” to rebuild the war-torn regions of Ukraine once the conflict ends. Ukraine is a member of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), its global debt trap program to erode the sovereignty of poorer nations, and has not vocalized any significant condemnation of the Communist Party’s human rights atrocities and genocide of the indigenous communities of occupied East Turkistan.
Comedy legend John Cleese says he refuses to remove the famous “Loretta” transgender scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian for the stage adaptation of the classic film.
On social media last Thursday, Cleese said that a journalist recently spread rumors that he would be removing the famous scene from all future adaptations of the film.
“A few days ago I spoke to an audience outside London. I told them I was adapting the Life of Brian so that we could do it as a stage show (NOT a musical ). I said that we’d had a table reading of the latest draft in NYC a year ago and that all the actors – several of them Tony winners – had advised me strongly to cut the Loretta scene. I have, of course, no intention of doing so,” he tweeted.
‘So someone in the audience had called a journalist and misreported me. Amazingly none of the British media called to check,” he added.
Cleese also clarified that he would not be cutting the song “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life” from the stage adaptation.
Following rising tensions between Kosovar authorities and the local Serb minority, NATO forces based on the territory clashed with Serb demonstrators in the Serb majority town of Zvecan on May 29. Serbian sources reported that Serb minority demonstrators staging a sit down protest outside municipal buildings were confronted by heavily armed members of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR), who surrounded the demonstrators throwing threw stun grenades and tear gas into the crowd. This provoked retaliation with rocks, after which NATO troops escalated using batons and rubber bullets. 50 protesters were hospitalised as a result of the clashes, while 25 NATO personnel were injured. Serb citizens had launched the sit in to prevent officials from the Albanian ethnic majority from taking office, after elections had been boycotted by the Serb population as illegitimate. Kosovo is recognised under the United Nations and by its leading non Western members states as part of Serbia, although the territory moved to secede in 2009 with Belgrade coming under intensive Western pressure to recognise its separation. Pressure from NATO members on the country escalated further from 2022, with Belgrade pressed to support the ongoing Western war effort against Russia including through imposing economic sanctions and arming Ukraine - which it has so far refused.
The Soviet Union, and now Russia, have long worked on the development of twin concepts for the detection and assured destruction of high-value targets in near-real time. The Reconnaissance Strike Complex (разведивательно-ударный комплех-RYK) was designed for the coordinated employment of high-precision, long-range weapons linked to real-time intelligence data and precise targeting provided to a fused intelligence and fire-direction center. The RYK functioned at operational depths using surface-to-surface missile systems and aircraft-delivered “smart” munitions. The Reconnaissance Fire Complex (разведивательно-огновой комплех ROK) was the tactical equivalent. It linked intelligence data, precise targeting, a fire-direction center and tactical artillery to destroy high-value targets in near-real time. The Soviets were making good progress in development of both systems before the Soviet Union collapsed. After a period of chaos and adjustment, Russia is back on track and modernizing her armed forces. Part of that modernization is the fielding of a functioning and renamed reconnaissance strike system and reconnaissance fire system. The reconnaissance fire system (разведивательнфая-огновая система ROС) has now been successfully deployed and battle tested and is part of Russian Field Artillery capabilities. In the words of Deputy Chief of Staff of Ground Forces, Major GeneralVadim Marusin, “Today the cycle (reconnaissance -- engagement) takes literally 10 seconds.”
Russia fired a barrage of missiles at Kyiv on Monday sending panicked residents running for shelter in an unusual daytime attack on the Ukrainian capital following overnight strikes.
A series of explosions rang out in Kyiv on Monday as Russia targeted the city for the second time in 24 hours.
AFP journalists heard at least 10 explosions from around 11:10 am local time (0810 GMT) in Kyiv, starting just a few minutes after an air raid warning sounded.
Authorities said Ukrainian air defences had downed every Russian missile launched against the Kyiv region.
“A total of 11 missiles were fired: ‘Iskander-M’ and ‘Iskander-K’ from a northerly direction,” Ukraine’s armed forces chief Valery Zaluzhny said.
“All the targets were destroyed by air defences,” he added.
Research journals have withdrawn well over 300 articles on COVID-19 due to compromised ethical standards and concerns about the publications’ scientific validity.
Retraction Watch has provided a running list of withdrawn papers on COVID-19 ranging from “Acute kidney injury associated with COVID-19” to “Can Your AI Differentiate Cats from COVID-19?”
A total of 330 research papers have currently been retracted.
During the pandemic, researchers have compromised on ethical standards and tried to either get more publications approved or to take shortcuts around ethics, senior researcher Gunnveig Grødeland at the Institute of Immunology at the University of Oslo says, after going through the list of articles that have been withdrawn, and the reasons for some of them.
As Memorial Day weekend begins the transition to summer-time fun, many Americans are making plans to spend time on the nation’s beautiful beaches.
Many of those beaches are along the East Coast. However, back in 1995, the New York Times ran a story with “experts” genuinely concerned those beaches would be gone in 25 years.
The Biden administration’s attempt to thaw U.S.-Chinese relations has hit a significant snag.
The Chinese government said Monday that it has declined a U.S. request for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, after Beijing had said several times that no meeting will be forthcoming as long as Li remains under U.S. sanctions.
There have been no direct communications between top military officials from the two governments for the last six months, and the hoped-for meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore was supposed to be the way to begin repairing ties. Contrary to President Biden’s statement in Japan last week that U.S.-Chinese ties would begin improving “very shortly,” the two sides seem as far apart as ever.
Recently, officials in the fascistic, openly Jewish supremacist, Israeli government attacked famed rockstar Roger Waters’ performance in Berlin. Israel’s anti-Palestinian agents in many countries amplified the embarrassing frenzy, which claimed Waters was anti-Jewish for posting Anne Frank’s name on a big screen alongside murdered Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Even if Waters’ show had simply contrasted the two names it wouldn’t have been untoward but in fact the names of about a dozen individuals killed by security forces, such as George Floyd in the US, flashed on the screen during the performance.
The second element in their cynical frenzy was complaining that Waters dressed in fascist, SS-like, attire. But Waters has been doing variations of this anti-fascist, anti-Nazi, skit for four decades, as the photo above demonstrates.
Finally, some claimed the performance included a pig with a Star of David at the show, which was an outright fabrication.
North Korea has informed Japan of its plan to launch a satellite in the coming days, which could be an attempt to put its first military reconnaissance satellite into orbit.
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada has ordered Japan's Self-Defense Force to shoot down the satellite or debris if any enters Japanese territory. The launch window is from May 31 to June 11, and the launch may affect waters in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and east of the Philippines' Luzon Island.
To launch a satellite into space, North Korea must use long-range missile technology banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions. Its past launches of Earth observation satellites were seen as disguised missile tests. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the launch would violate U.N. resolutions and was a "threat to the peace and safety of Japan, the region, and the international community."
Kohl's, the department store chain, has come under fire from shoppers after it began selling LGBTQ clothing for infants and young children.
The merchandise, including a "Baby Sonoma Community Pride Bodysuit set" and other items such as towels, bibs, candles, shorts, and pillows, was posted on various social media accounts to celebrate Pride Month. However, the display has been criticized, with some shoppers calling for a boycott of the company.
The Twitter account "End Wokeness" initially highlighted the Pride display and associated products, posting pictures of several items alongside the caption, "Looks like Kohl's didn't learn a thing from Bud Lite and Target."
On a recent appearance on Fox & Friends on Memorial Day, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis underscored the urgency of revitalizing the morale of the U.S. military, expressing concerns over the impact of certain ideologies and policies he characterizes as leftist on the institution.
A potential 2024 presidential candidate, DeSantis elaborated on his plans to address these issues should he secure a win in the race to the White House.
DeSantis stated his concern about the current military state, claiming a divergence from the organization he had served in. "The military I see is different from the military I served in," he articulated. A former Navy lieutenant, DeSantis expressed disquiet over the emphasis on political ideologies, gender pronouns, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, suggesting that such focus might cause decreased recruitment and lowered morale.
Israeli settlers on Monday relocated a Jewish religious school originally established on private Palestinian land in the illegal outpost of Homesh to nearby state-owned land.
Settlers have long campaigned for a yeshiva to be established in the area, and the latest move is part of an incremental effort by the government to legalise the Homesh settlement, built deep inside the occupied West Bank.
Earlier this year, Israeli lawmakers approved a controversial piece of legislation that would allow four abandoned Jewish settlements in the West Bank - Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim - to be re-established after they were dismantled in 2005.
Monday's steps to tentatively re-establish the settlement was made with the approval of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, and was given the green light by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected for a third presidential term on Sunday, prompting his supporters to take to the streets in jubilation.
With his win secure, Erdogan addressed some of the things he plans to do in the near future. Yet, amid the celebrations, he nonetheless faces significant challenges, including: addressing the economic crisis, finding solutions for the refugee crisis, and securing victory in the upcoming municipal elections in 10 months' time.
That's just on the domestic front. As for foreign policy, Turkey's western allies are urging Erdogan to ratify Sweden's Nato membership before a summit in Vilnius on 11 July, an issue linked to Turkey's need for F-16 warplanes.
A flare-up between the regional government in Kurdistan and Baghdad has added risk for the resumption of oil flows from the northern Iraqi region.
Rudaw reports that the spike in tension followed amendments in relation to Kurdistan that the Iraq government had made to the federal budget last week. The Kurdish government slammed the changes as unconstitutional.
The dispute will delay the approval of the budget and may destroy the delicate balance that Baghdad and Erbil achieved in the wake of the oil export halt from Kurdistan that prompted the shut-in of thousands of barrels in output.
“Jumping on understandings and agreements and trying to violate the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region is completely contrary to national responsibility and it won’t yield anything other than disappointment and complicating the political stability of the country. It will harm the whole of Iraq,” Kurdistan’s president, Nechirvan Barzani said in a statement.
Denmark plans to increase its spending on military aid to Ukraine by 17.9 billion crowns ($2.59 billion) over this year and next, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Monday, winning thanks for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Denmark, with a population of less than 6 million, in March established a $1 billion fund for military, civilian and business aid to Ukraine in 2023.
Frederiksen, seen as a possible contender to become new NATO chief, on Monday told Danish public radio the government planned to add another 7.5 billion crowns to the fund this year, and 10.4 billion next year.
"This major contribution will further strengthen the combat capabilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the short and medium term," Zelenskiy said in a tweet. "Our strength is in unity!"
Several explosions have rocked the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, according to officials, in the 15th Russian air attack on the city this month and the second overnight attack in a row.
“A missile shot down near Kyiv,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging channel in the early hours of Monday. “Air defence working!”
He added that blasts were heard in several districts of the city, including Kyiv’s historic neighbourhood of Podil, where falling debris damaged the roof of a house.
According to preliminary information from the mayor and the city’s military administration, there were no casualties in the overnight attacks.
Massive amounts of seaweed is washing ashore along the beaches of South Florida which could be carrying flesh-eating pathogens.
Known as Sargassum, once the seaweed washes ashore, it is a nuisance as the thick, brown algae carpets beaches, releasing a pungent smell as it decays and entangles humans and animals who step into it.
For hotels and resorts, clearing the stuff off beaches can amount to a round-the-clock operation.
But the seaweed also interacts with plastic debris and Vibrio bacteria in the ocean creating what scientists call a 'pathogen storm' that can pose risks to beachgoers.
The biggest Vibrio bacteria threat is a condition called 'leaky gut syndrome.'