"In a free society, all is allowed unless explicitly prohibited by the government. In a slave society, all is forbidden unless explicitly authorized by the government." -- Michael Rivero

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Authored by Andrew Korybko via Substack,

The Taliban remain international outcasts due to their refusal to implement a truly ethno-politically inclusive government per their prior promises as well as their treatment of women.

Although no tangible progress has been made on either of those two very sensitive issues, economic and security interests pushed regional stakeholders to enter into de facto relations with this group for pragmatic reasons.

Out of all those that have done so, Russia is far ahead of them all as proven by these latest developments:

* 16 May 2024: “Afghan Taliban no longer Russia’s enemy — Russian diplomat

* 17 May 2024: “Afghanistan to expand range of goods exported to Russia — deputy PM Overchuk

* 24 May 2024: “Taliban can stabilize Afghanistan if left to its own devices — FSB director

* 27 May 2024: “Russia invites Taliban to St. Petersburg International Economic Forum — Foreign Ministry

* 27 May 2024: “Russian ministries propose to Putin to remove Taliban from terrorist list — envoy

As can be seen, Russia’s previous threat perception of the Taliban has disappeared, and it now considers the group to be a regional security provider with respect to containing ISIS-K. Moreover, Afghanistan’s location enables it to facilitate Russian trade with Pakistan, both commercial and energy. These interests have combined to inspire Russia to more openly embrace this group, which comes ahead of next month’s investment forum and October’s BRICS Summit. Here are some detailed background briefings:

* 27 September 2021: “Comparing The Contours of Russia’s Ummah Pivot in Syria & Afghanistan

* 19 August 2022: “The Taliban Envisions Russia Playing A Big Role In The Group’s Geo-Economic Balancing Act

* 6 March 2023: “The Top Five Takeaways From The Russian Ambassador To Afghanistan’s Latest Interview

* 16 June 2023: “Russia’s Afghan Point Man Hinted At The Possibility Of Military-Technical Ties With The Taliban

* 19 May 2024: “Analyzing The Strategic Importance Of Russia’s Reportedly Planned Afghan Oil Hub

Basically, Russia sees Afghanistan as an indispensable part of its larger geostrategic reorientation to Muslim-majority countries, while the Taliban believes that Russia can help their country preemptively avert potentially disproportionate dependence on China and especially Pakistan. They also have shared economic interests with respect to facilitating trade between Russia-Central Asia and South Asia via Afghanistan from which that transit country can profit accordingly to help rebuild its economy.

Something big is obviously in the works between them judging by the timing of Russia’s deliberations on removing the Taliban from its terrorist list just before next week’s St. Petersburg International Investment Forum. In all likelihood, not only does Russia expect to make progress on its reportedly planned Afghan oil hub, but there might even be an update about President Putin’s envisaged delivery of Russian pipeline gas to Pakistan through Afghanistan that he mentioned only once in September 2022.

This doesn’t mean that a deal will be clinched on either since that involves Pakistan finally agreeing to conclude their long-running talks on a strategic energy one, which it’s thus far been reluctant to do under American pressure since April 2022’s post-modern coup. Nevertheless, even a Memorandum of Understanding between Russia and Taliban-led but by-then presumably terrorist-delisted Afghanistan on this and/or a parallel railway would be significant since it could help move Russian-Pakistani talks along.

Therein lies the larger goal being advanced through the latest developments in Russian-Afghan relations, namely the comprehensive expansion of Russian-Pakistani relations, which is considered the last piece of Russia’s Ummah Pivot and Greater Eurasian Partnership concepts to be completed

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A BS T R AC T: T h is a r t ic le presents fou r fac tor s to consider
in evaluating Taiwan’s strategic importance to the United States and
its allies and answers a question often raised at forums concerning
the Indo-Pacif ic: “Why should the United States care” about this
small island in the Pacif ic? The response often given is simply
US credibility, and while this is an important factor, this article
reviews a wider array of possible factors to consider when answering
that question. The study of these factors should assist US military
and policy practitioners in accurately evaluating the related strategic
environment. Through a sur vey of off icial US policy statements
and strateg y documents across administrations, part t wo of this
article (to be featured in a future issue) will examine the evolving
US perception of Taiwan throughout the aggressive strengthening
of China and during Taiwan’s domestic politica l development
into a full-f ledged democracy.

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Authored by Ayla Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A new study has found that intermittent fasting may protect against liver inflammation and even liver cancer.

The study, conducted at the German Cancer Research Center and the University of Tübingen and published in the journal Cell Metabolism, aimed to understand more about how intermittent fasting can affect the liver. The researchers found that intermittent fasting can halt the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a precursor to chronic liver inflammation and liver cancer.

(Nok Lek Travel Lifestyle/Shutterstock)

Study Findings Explained

The researchers conducted their experiment by implementing a fasting regimen on mice with pre-existing liver inflammation. It was found that, after four months of intermittent fasting, the mice had improved liver function tests, less fat in their livers, decreased fibrosis, and were less likely to develop liver cancer in the future.

The mice followed a 5:2 fasting diet, meaning they fasted for two days, then were allowed to consume an unlimited number of calories for five days. The cycle was then repeated for four months until the study was concluded.

The researchers also discovered two proteins (known as PPAR-alpha and PCK1) within liver cells that seem to have contributed to the protective effects of intermittent fasting. The study supports March research that suggests fasting can have a powerful impact on one’s overall health.

“In recent years, caloric restriction and fasting studies have stumbled upon many positive health benefits. Some of the benefits include cancer prevention. It is well established that metabolic factors such as high levels of insulin and blood sugar, increase the risk of breast cancer.” Dr. Francisco Contreras told The Epoch Times in an email. Dr. Contreras is a board-certified oncologist who treats patients in California and Mexico.

Intermittent fasting has proven to reduce the incidence of this malignancy and also to reduce the risk of recurrence after treatment. Patients that could do intermittent fasting during treatment experienced relief of chemotherapy-induced adverse effects and cytotoxicity with significant improvement of their quality of life.”

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a type of eating pattern that involves alternating periods of eating and abstaining from food. Most people participate in intermittent fasting for health reasons and research supports intermittent fasting as a way to manage weight and some forms of disease, at least in the short-term.

During fasting days, your body runs off ketones derived from stored fats (triglycerides) in your body. But these ketones work as more than just fuel. They regulate the expression of many proteins and signaling molecules.” Dr. Caroline Walker told The Epoch Times in an email. Dr. Walker is a board-certified gastroenterologist based in Denton, Texas. “It is through these molecules that it is thought that intermittent fasting may have effects on cell growth and plasticity, tissue remodeling, decreased insulin exposure and decreased insulin resistance, improved lipid profile, improved blood pressure, and even improved asthma symptoms.”

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When Jews and pro-Palestinian advocates think strategically to form a coalition that organizes a 1963 MLK “March on Washington”-like demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial next June 16 at noon to force P. Biden to choose between a chance of reelection by supporting the coalition demands and appearing nationally and internationally as an unprincipled, hypocritical, and subservient non-leader incapable of asserting American values

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By the Gatestone Institute

A national poll, commissioned by Gatestone Foundation Trustee Lawrence Kadish of Old Westbury, Long Island, reveals that China has emerged as the nation considered the biggest national security threat to the United States. An overwhelming majority of Americans questioned believed that China will seek to dominate the remaining 21st Century at the expense of the United States.

Vladimir Putin's Russia ranks second as America's biggest threat to our national security, with a little more than half of Americans questioned concerned that Putin is capable of launching a nuclear strike on the United States. The result underscores the poll's finding that a significant majority of Americans are concerned that we have entered a second chapter of the Cold War between the two countries that has considerable consequences for our nation's future.

Nor do many Americans believe that Putin will stop with his invasion of Ukraine. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed believe Putin will target Western Europe next, and many are fearful he could unleash nuclear weapons to achieve victory.

Turning to the Middle East, more than half of Americans surveyed believe Iran would launch nuclear missiles against Israel if given the opportunity and that the United States should take unspecified measures to prevent it.

Responding to the question of whether North Korea could fire nuclear-tipped missiles against the United States, again, the majority of those Americans questioned said yes.

The survey also reveals a startling loss of patriotism among those questioned, and a significant amount of anger by Americans who acknowledged their fears regarding the range of adversaries who now feel free to confront our nation.

The survey was conducted by the national polling company McLaughlin & Associates, and the data had a margin of error of 3.1%. Its CEO, John McLaughlin, observed:

"To the best of our knowledge, these questions have not been posed before to a statistically valid sample size of Americans and they reveal a nation that recognizes the external threats but is anxious about our current ability or willingness to respond to them.

It is clearly a time of uncertainty, anxiety and not a little bit of anger."

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Israeli tanks have rolled into the centre of Rafah for the first time following global outrage over the refugee camp airstrike which saw 45 people killed as an encampment for displaced Palestinians burned to ashes. 

Gaza health authorities said yesterday that another tent camp in the city had been hit, this time by Israeli tank shells, in an area Israel designated as a civilian evacuation zone. 

They said at least 21 people were killed in the attack, including women and children. The IDF denied striking the area of al-Mawasi, west of Rafah.

Meanwhile, witnesses reported seeing the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) tanks advancing into central areas of Rafah - three weeks after the army launched a ground operation in the southern Gazan city.

Tanks and and armoured vehicles mounted with machineguns were seen near al-Awda mosque, a central Rafah landmark, according to witnesses. 

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As was expected, the Taliban will be recognized by Moscow as a legitimate government of Afghanistan and that makes it much easier to cooperate on the issue of ISIS (euphemism for the US and UK) threat (in Russian), plus continuing support in food, energy, materials et al for government in Kabul to remain stable. It always was the matter of not if but when. Now, from Washington:

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Some NATO members, namely the US and Germany, warn against offering Ukraine a firm timeframe for joining NATO, the Daily Telegraph writes, citing sources.

A source told the newspaper that US administration officials were "very skeptical about bringing Ukraine any further along the path to full Nato membership this year." "The US is perhaps not as concerned as Germany, but there is a worry about the threat of Russia to the rest of the alliance," he added.

According to the Daily Telegraph, "while NATO leaders will refuse to provide a timeline for Ukraine’s membership, they will offer what is being described as a 'bridge' or 'path' to accession as a show of support for the process." A package of support will "demonstrate that the path to membership is getting shorter." "The package will focus on bolstering Ukraine’s armed forces to ensure Ukraine is ready to immediately join NATO when alliance leaders agree the time is right," the paper writes.

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The commander-in-chief of Kiev’s armed forces Aleksandr Syrsky has said that he supports the idea of French military instructors being deployed to Ukraine to train local troops.

Syrsky wrote in a Telegram post on Monday that he has signed papers allowing the NATO member's military personnel to visit training centers in Ukraine “soon,” to familiarize themselves with infrastructure and staff.

However Paris and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry have confirmed no plans are actually in place for French military instructors to work in Ukraine.

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The French president's comments on Tuesday come after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged member nations to allow Ukraine to use their weapons to target Russian territory.

"We should allow Ukraine to destroy military facilities on the territory of Russia, where shelling is taking place, but we should not allow [Ukraine] to hit other military or civilian objects on its territory," French President Emmanuel Macron told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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Why is it OK for America to drop two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end their existential threat war? … I thought it was OK,” Graham said in an NBC News program. “That was the right decision.” Graham then hinted at Israel doing whatever it needs to do “to survive as a Jewish state.”

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi called Graham’s statements “extremely regrettable.” The nuclear bombings “took many precious lives, caused (a number of) people to suffer unspeakable hardships such as illnesses and brought about an extremely regrettable humanitarian situation,” they drastically understated.

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General Vladimir Kulishov, First Deputy Director and Head of Russia’s Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Border Service, has accused NATO of gearing up for potential nuclear strikes on Russian soil. 

Kulishov’s accusations come amidst mounting tensions between the Kremlin and the Western military alliance, fueling concerns of a new Cold War era.

Speaking exclusively to state-run Ria Novosti on the occasion of Russia’s “Border Guard Day,” General Kulishov outlined NATO’s purportedly aggressive maneuvers near Russian borders. He alleged a surge in reconnaissance activities and intensified combat training by NATO troops, including drills that simulate nuclear strikes against Russia.

“The situation requires taking appropriate steps to protect and secure our borders,” Kulishov emphasized, underscoring Russia’s perceived need for defensive measures in response to NATO’s alleged provocations.

These accusations follow a recent directive by Russian President Vladimir Putin, instructing the military to conduct exercises involving the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. Moscow cited perceived threats from the West as justification for these maneuvers, raising alarm bells across the international community.

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NATO is dragging the European Union into World War III with statements about strikes on Russian territory and is no longer a "defensive alliance," Florian Philippot, the leader of French Eurosceptic party The Patriots and a candidate for the European Parliament elections, said on social media.

"NATO's statements are an insane dash toward World War III against Russia. Every word is extremely serious and fraught with consequences. NATO has officially abandoned its position as a 'defense alliance' — already disproved in practice — it is declaring war!" Philippot said on X on Tuesday.

The politician has called on Paris to withdraw from the alliance.

"Wishing to stay in NATO is to agree that France will be dragged into World War III indefinitely, that the blood of its children will be spilled for the interests of NATO, the EU, [French President Emmanuel] Macron and the senseless corruption of this entire clique," Philippot added, saying: "let's stop this madness, let's stand up for peace, no more euros or weapons to Ukraine!"

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As the political West keeps sinking into utter insanity, its already atrocious diplomatic “etiquette” (in the form of arm-twisting and threats of sanctions) is now being replaced by assassinations of foreign leaders and terrorist attacks on global military superpowers. And yet, to make matters worse, it seems that EU/NATO’s top-ranking officials are so detached from reality that they’re now openly threatening foreign leaders (even nominally “allied” ones). Namely, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze stated that he was recently warned by an EU commissioner that if he goes ahead with the so-called “foreign agent” law, he should be “very careful”, as Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico learned “the hard way” in a recent assassination attempt.

Honoring the aforementioned diplomatic etiquette that exists in all civilized societies (which automatically excludes the EU/NATO “garden”), Kobakhidze refused to name the EU commissioner who threatened him. However, on May 23, the said official revealed himself as Oliver Varhelyi, the EU Enlargement Commissioner. Varhelyi admitted that he spoke with Kobakhidze by phone, but insists that the Georgian prime minister allegedly “took his comments out of context”. As the commissioner was talking about the possible sanctions and measures the EU would take against Georgia if its government doesn’t repeal the aforementioned “foreign agent” law, he also made a clear reference to Fico’s NATO-sponsored assassination attempt.

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Tel Aviv ignores the order of the International Criminal Court of the United Nations to the IDF to cease military operations in the southern Gaza Strip and open the only checkpoint of Rafah on the border with Egypt to allow humanitarian supplies into the enclave and allow investigation. Even the White House and the EU officially called on Netanyahu to refrain from fighting in Rafah and comply with the order of the UN ICC. At the same time, Washington continues to provide military assistance to Tel Aviv.

The Israeli military does not stop launching strikes and artillery shelling throughout Rafah for several days in a row, threatening lives of almost a million Palestinians, who moved there from other areas of the enclave since the beginning of the military conflict on October 7 last year.

According to Arab media, last night the Israeli Air Force launched rocket and bomb attacks on the western and central parts of Rafah. Israeli artillery did not stop shelling.

At about 4 a.m., the IDF expanded the ground operations and Israeli tanks moved deep into Rafah. Israeli military sources reported that, despite the decisions of the International Criminal Court, the IDF sent another brigade to Rafah, thereby increasing the number of brigades fighting there to six.

The number of civilian victims in Rafah is growing. Dozens civilians were killed and dozens more were wounded as a result of Israeli strikes. At least 45 civilians have been killed in Rafah in the last few days alone, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. In total, since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip, according to official data alone, more than 36,000 people have been killed, more than half of them are children, the elderly and women. The Palestinians have no more safe place to hide from the Israeli aggression.

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On the night of May 28, the Russian military launched new wave of strikes in the Ukrainian rear regions. Russian kamikaze UAVs targeted Ukrainian military facilities in the Kiev and Cherkassy regions, while heavy bombs and missiles pounded Ukrainian military positions in the war-torn Kharkiv region. 

A series of Russian strikes destroyed targets in the town of Borovaya in the Kharkiv region. Ukrainian media shared photos of fires in the settlement. According to the local reports, one of the targets of the Russian strikes was the building of the Nova Poshta, largest private Ukrainian postal and courier company, that is largely used by the Ukrainian military. Most of the facilities of the company were turned into military warehouses and they are regularly targeted by Russian strikes.

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The meeting comes shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin explained why currently the Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada) is the only legitimate power in the country.

Sputnik brings you a broadcast from Moscow where Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is chairing a roundtable on the Ukrainian crisis with heads of foreign diplomatic missions.

While the detailed agenda was not disclosed, the meeting comes the next day after Vladimir Putin elaborated extensively on the question of the legitimacy of the Ukrainian authorities, explaining that the Ukrainian constitution provides for the extension of the powers of the parliament (Verkhovna Rada), but does not mention the possibility of extending the powers of the president.

Moscow officials repeatedly stressed that Russia is not in conflict with the people of Ukraine and that the collective West is the main culprit and instigator of the Ukrainian crisis.

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Indeed, the law of Ukraine on the legal status, legal position and martial law reads that presidential elections are not held during martial law. However, this does not mean that they are extended. They are not held but who said that they must be extended? The Constitution says nothing about this. But Article 111 of the Constitution of Ukraine reads that in this case the powers of the supreme authority, actually the presidential powers are transferred to the Speaker of Parliament. All the more so since the powers of parliament are extended during martial law.

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When chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan requested arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant on Monday, he remarkably chose not to include torture or sexual violence against Palestinian prisoners in his list of Israel’s ​​war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Khan’s omission of torture is exceptional. Over the past seven months, hundreds of reports, testimonies, and investigations have shed further light on Israel’s brutal torture of Palestinian detainees and prisoners held captive in Israeli occupation prisons. 

As Palestinian civil society organizations such as Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, and others have extensively documented, prisoners are being viciously beaten and abused multiple times a day, caged in cells “not fit for human life,” kept blindfolded with their hands bound with plastic ties, isolated from the outside world, stripped of their clothing, collectively punished through starvation, attacked by dogs, sexually assaulted, and psychologically tortured. At least thirteen Palestinians have been martyred in prison since October 7 as a result of torture and being denied proper medical care. Countless more have been discovered in mass graves with clear evidence of having undergone torture, executions, and other crimes against humanity. 

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Nikki Haley, former candidate for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, visited the West Bank and northern Israel on Tuesday. "Don't listen to what is being said in the media. I reassure you: America stands with Israel," she said while visiting the West Bank.

Haley, who withdrew from the Republican primary race against Donald Trump and recently said she would support him against President Joe Biden, said she wanted to "express solidarity with Israel. These words are aimed at the Israelis but also at the Americans. We need a strong Israel, and the only way Israel will be strong is when the US supports Israel completely, unapologetically."

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