"The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them w/illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim." -- Gustave Le Bon
Following the defeat of Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in local elections over the weekend, John Bolton swings into action doing damage control:
By demonstrating seriousness of purpose, Taiwan can refute one canard still alive in Washington: that Taiwan’s citizens are insufficiently committed to their own defense. Geostrategist Edward Luttwak recently wrote in these pages of “the persistent fecklessness” of Taipei’s military preparedness, while its “youth can continue to play video games.” Such criticism is unjustified and corrosive, as Taiwan can’t open itself to criticism that it is free-riding on U.S. political and military aid.
Bolton says that this is a "canard," but the record of Taiwanese military spending speaks for itself. Not only has the Taiwanese government spent relatively little of its own wealth on its defense, but it has also spent it on too many of the wrong big-ticket items that are costly but easily destroyed and not so easily replaced. Bolton says that Taiwan "can't open itself to criticism that it is free-riding," but of course that is what their government has been doing for decades.
For more than three decades, the United States has sought to make the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) an international pariah. The primary goal of that strategy of isolation has been to force Pyongyang to abandon its ongoing nuclear weapons program, but an important secondary goal is to throttle the country’s ballistic missile program.
It is increasingly clear that Washington’s strategy has failed on both counts.
The latest ICBM test is a game-changer in two respects. First, it underscores the futility, indeed absurdity, of Washington’s isolation strategy. The United States is now in the untenable and dangerous position of having no formal relationship—much less a tolerably cordial one—with the world’s latest nuclear weapons power. Second, the prospect of a DPRK fleet of ICBMs in the next few years significantly alters the risk-benefit calculation of the U.S.’s extended deterrence commitment to the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Soon, North Korea will be capable of launching a nuclear strike against the American homeland in the event of a conflict that has spiraled out of control.
It’s been over five years since the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) “Black Identity Extremist” (BIE) report was leaked to Foreign Policy magazine in early October 2017. The August 3, 2017, report – which alleged that “perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement” – drew a torrent of criticism from civil rights and civil liberties groups, as well as a backlash from Black House and Senate members. The fact that the FBI was employing overtly race-based criteria for investigating the political activities of Black Americans brought back ugly memories of the Bureau’s infamous Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) targeting the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Congress, NAACP, and a host of other prominent Black civil rights leaders and organizations from the mid-1950s through at least the late 1970s.
In the two years after the leak of the “BIE” report, FBI Director Chris Wray found himself constantly on the defensive over the report and the FBI’s use of the BIE term. In late July 2019, Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Bureau had abandoned the use of the BIE phrase, with one other FBI official claiming the term had not been used by the FBI since 2018.
FBI documents obtained by the Cato Institute via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit appear to tell a somewhat different story.
Ukraine has always been a nation divided. Northwestern and Central Ukraine, which had once been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, have always faced west to Europe; the Southeast, long part of the Russian Empire, has always faced east to Russia. Historically, Western Ukraine has voted for presidential candidates with European-oriented policies, and Eastern Ukraine has voted for presidents with Russian-oriented policies. The country is caught in a tug-of-war, vulnerable to being ripped in two.
The rupture happened dramatically after the U.S.-sponsored and -supported coup of 2014. That coup was intended to replace a president who was favorable to Russia with a president chosen by the U.S., and to pull Ukraine closer into the European and NATO security sphere.
Italy's ruling rightist parties on Tuesday withdrew an amendment that would have allowed the government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine throughout 2023, a parliamentary source said, after the opposition called for a separate decree on the issue.
In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, former Prime Minister Mario Draghi's administration introduced measures that made it possible to send weapons to Kyiv without seeking parliamentary authorisation for each shipment.
This arrangement expires at the end of the year and the coalition backing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni initially tried to extend it until Dec. 31, 2023, by amending a government decree currently going through parliament.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO on Tuesday against providing Ukraine with Patriot missile defence systems, denouncing the alliance as a "criminal entity" for delivering arms to what he called "extremist regimes".
Medvedev, who once cast himself as a liberal moderniser as president from 2008 to 2012, has increasingly emerged as one of the most hawkish proponents of Russia's war in Ukraine, posting scathing denunciations of the West on his social media channels.
"If, as (NATO Secretary-General Jens) Stoltenberg hinted, NATO were to supply the Ukrainian fanatics with Patriot systems along with NATO personnel, they would immediately become a legitimate target of our armed forces," Medvedev wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Squelching through thick mud on Tuesday, Petro, a Ukrainian soldier dug in not far from Russian positions in the Donbas, recounted matter-of-factly how his unit had to use buckets to clear out water-logged trenches.
"We're more or less okay, but it's bit harder now because of the rain and a light frost. It's a swamp. It's dried a bit today...," the 35-year-old said, warming up in a dugout near the trenches.
"It's okay, we're holding up," he added, laughing.
Heavy rain and falling temperatures are making conditions even grimmer along the frontlines, where tens of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians are facing off as the war, now in its 10th month, grinds into winter.
Staunch union advocate President Biden is facing heat from some labor groups after he directed Congress to take up legislation to force terms of a tentative deal on workers who object to them.
'Joe Biden blew it,' Railroad Workers United said in a press release Tuesday, before accusing the president of being a 'pawn' of big business.
Biden in September celebrated a tentative deal between rail workers and railroads that his White House helped broker. Now with a little over a week before a deadline that will trigger a devastating rail strike, four of 12 major rail labor unions have rejected the deal.
The CEO of AMC Networks has stepped down in a shock move after just three months on the job, and the company plans to lay off about one-fifth of its US workforce as it faces pressure from streaming competitors and a slowing economy.
The cable network, home to hit shows such as Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul announced the moves in a press release and internal memos on Tuesday.
The layoffs at AMC Networks come at a time when several media companies including Amazon and Facebook-parent Meta Platforms are making deep cuts to their employee base to navigate a potential downturn in the economy.
Protesters screamed as they threw glass bottles at scores of cowering hazmat-clad riot police in China last night, as demonstrators continue to defy President Xi Jinping's brutal Communist regime and his disastrous zero-Covid policies.
The sound of shouts and the smashing of glass pierced the night air in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, as the defiant and frustrated protesters clashed with riot police carrying shields.
Hundreds of riot police, seen wearing hazmat suits for the first time, advanced towards the protesters and were seen dragging the screaming protesters away to unknown locations in dystopian scenes.
Webmaster addition: China has now backed off the lockdowns. See story above.
Disgraced rapper Kanye West is in the lead to win the dishonorable title of “Antisemite of the Year” by a group that tracks Jewish hate.
The other two finalists for watchdog group StopAntisemitism's fourth annual contest include Mohamed Hadid — the father of supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid — and Jon Minadeo II head of the white supremacist group the Goyim Defense League (GDL).
"Though these three men promote antisemitism from three different directions, they are equally dangerous,” said StopAntisemitism Executive Director Liora Rez. “Together, they have all been a catastrophe for the well-being Jewish people in the United States in 2022. There are no Jewish safe spaces. The current state of Jew hatred is running rampant with no end in sight."
Webmaster addition: Damn! I didn't even get nominated!!!
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers militia group, was found guilty by a jury on Nov. 29 of seditious conspiracy connected to the events on Jan 6, 2021.
One co-defendant, Kelly Meggs, was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy on Tuesday, while three others—Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell—were acquitted of that charge.
In total, Rhodes was found guilty on three out of five counts: seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, and tampering with documents or proceedings.
Meggs was found guilty on five counts out of six: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, and tampering with documents.