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Thought for the day
"I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." -- Charles de Gaulle, French general & president
President Biden’s top Asia official on the National Security Council said the US will be conducting “air and maritime transits” in the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks in response to China’s military exercises that were a consequence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
“We will ensure that our presence, posture, and exercise account for China’s more provocative and destabilizing behavior towards guiding the situation in the western Pacific towards greater stability,” Kurt Campbell, the NSC’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, told reporters on Friday.
Campbell said that the stepped-up US presence in the region “includes conducting standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks.” The US typically sails a single destroyer through the Taiwan Strait about once a month, but it’s possible the US could go for a bigger show of force after China conducted its largest-ever military drills around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit.
The US has thrown down the gauntlet. A showdown may come "in the coming weeks," if sanity does not prevail.
White House and Pentagon spokesmen keep insisting, as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl did on Aug. 14:
"What’s important for us right now is to make sure that Beijing understands that our forces in the region will continue to operate, to fly, to sail wherever international waters allows. That includes the Taiwan Strait.
"I think you should expect that we will continue to do Taiwan Strait transits, as we have in the past, in the coming weeks. …"
As Statista's Anna Fleck shows in the infographic below, based on new data from Eurostat, in June 2022 the EU countries (plus the UK) where unemployment was most widespread were Spain (12.6 percent), Greece (12.3 percent) and Italy (8.1 percent).
In contrast, Switzerland (2.0 percent), the Czech Republic (2.4 percent), Poland (2.7 percent) and Germany (2.8 percent) had the lowest rates.
This compares to the average rate for the European Union of 6.0 percent, which is an improvement on the 7.2 percent average of the year before.
Jewish settlers destroyed a portion of a water pipeline on Thursday, in the village of Al-Farsiya in the northern Jordan Valley region, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Muataz Besharat, a local activist, told WAFA that a group of Jewish settlers destroyed a portion of the pipeline used for irrigation by local Palestinian farmers, noting that the pipeline was built with funding from the European Union.
In a cluster of dusty hamlets south of Hebron, a decades-long contest of wills between Palestinians and the Israeli government may be coming to an end.
After a legal battle lasting over 20 years, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in early May that the army could evict over 1,300 Palestinians living inside a military training zone that covers miles of rolling hilltops.
“They’re trying to remove us from here, once and for all,” said school principal Haytham Abu Sabha, who says he has lived in this village his entire life.
On Saturday, Medical sources reported that a Palestinian child from Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, lost his eye after Israeli soldiers shot him with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
The sources said the child, Ziad Mohammad Abu Ayyash, 15, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet directly in the right eye, causing extensive damage, before being moved to a hospital and then to a Jordanian medical center in Amman.
The surgeons tried to save his eye, but the damage to the retina and optic nerves was so severe, forcing them to remove it.
The child was shot by a soldier in the fortified military tower at the main entrance of the refugee camp when dozens of Palestinians marched against the seriously escalating Israeli violations, including the recent offensive on Gaza, the killing of a Palestinian in Hebron, and the assassination of the three Palestinians in Jenin.
The clouds of recession are gathering globally. The Chinese economy contracted in 2Q. The US notched a “technical recession.” The flow of natural gas to Western Europe is restricted. In the past three months, we have revised down our forecast for global growth to 2.5%Y in 2022, which is about 50bp below consensus and 40bp lower than in May. We are edging closer to the bear scenario from our May Mid-year Outlook. Is a global recession upon us?
Recession is our baseline view for the euro area. The flow of natural gas from Russia has been restricted, prices have surged, and we see weak growth through the end of the year. We expect a recession by 4Q, but the data will be noisy. While 2Q GDP surprised to the upside because of the timing of the European post-Covid rebound, PMIs were already negative for July. A complete gas cut-off is the worst-case scenario and remains possible, but normalization of gas flows would bring only modest relief. Winter price levels are already partially baked in. And with the ECB almost single-mindedly focused on inflation, more hikes are likely until there are hard data that show economic contraction or normalized inflation. Inflation and rate headwinds are not dissipating any time soon.
When James Ray Epps Sr. first called the FBI regarding his January 2021 activities in Washington D.C., he didn’t mention how he implored protesters in several locations to go inside the Capitol, but he later told an agent that he expected a bomb would detonate on a side street near the Capitol.
Those are just two of the revelations in a collection of Epps-related material obtained by The Epoch Times, including FBI interview summaries, FBI audio recordings, transcripts, videos, and photographs.
In two interviews with the FBI in 2021, Epps explained his actions on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6. He admitted he was guilty of trespassing on restricted Capitol grounds and confessed to urging protesters to go to—and into—the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Despite the admissions, the FBI never arrested Epps and he was not charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with any Jan. 6 crimes. The non-action has fueled a crop of theories that he might have been working for the FBI or another agency.
You can't make this shit up...
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's son is the second largest investor in a Chinese tech company whose senior executive was arrested in a fraud investigation, according to DailyMail.com, raising questions about his secretive visit to Taiwan with his mother.
53-year-old Paul Pelosi Jr did not publicly disclose his stake before accompanying his mother on the taxpayer-funded trip to Taiwan.
Pelosi is not only a major investor in Borqs, a player in the Chinese internet-of-things and 5G sector, but has also worked as a consultant for the firm, rewarded for his services with 700,000 shares in the firm, at which time his holdings were exceeded only by CEO Pat Sek Yuen Chan.
Upon learning that Pelosi Jr. had tagged along with his mother’s delegation, several Taiwanese politicians, including the former chair of the island’s financial supervisory commission, Tseng Ming-chung, have demanded to know whether the island’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party had a financial relationship with the Pelosi family and whether the congresswoman’s visit involved business interests.
The younger Pelosi was not listed as a member of the delegation and had no government post or other stated mission to carry out.
It is unclear what Pelosi Jr.'s role at the company was.
In this special episode, The Epoch Times' Tiffany Meier sat down with Rex M. Lee, cybersecurity adviser at My Smart Privacy. He helps shed light on China’s cyberattacks on America, how they affect us in our daily lives, and what can be done to stop them.
Lee notes one way adversarial countries can get in is through invasive apps:
“You have to look at an app as legal malware. And that’s the best way you can describe apps today. An app—whether it’s a social media app developed by Bytedance, such as TikTok, or Facebook, or Instagram—any of these apps, they are basically legal malware that enable the developer to monitor, track, and data mine the end user for financial gain 24 by seven, 365 days a year.
“A single intrusive app enables the developer to collect over 5,000 highly confidential data points associated with the end user’s personal information, business information, medical information, legal information, and employment information because the surveillance and data mining done by these companies is indiscriminate, meaning that they’re not only collecting consumer information, they’re collecting every bit of information from the end user, including text messages, email, email attachments, calendar events, and so forth,” he added.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) confirmed that he has received his cell phone back from the FBI after the agency had seized it a few days back.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), joined by members of the House Freedom Caucus, speaks at a news conference on the infrastructure bill outside the Capitol Building in Washington, on Aug. 23, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
On Aug. 9, a day after raiding former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, FBI agents had taken Perry’s phone as part of a separate investigation. At the time, Perry was traveling with his family. Speaking to “Capitol Report” on NTD News, the GOP member confirmed that he has received his phone.
He is still uninformed as to why the phone was confiscated by the FBI. However, Perry was informed by his attorneys that he was not a target of the FBI’s investigation.
After the seizure, Perry had blasted FBI agents for making no attempt to contact his lawyer who would have made arrangements to submit the phone if needed by the agency.
In a statement, Perry said that though he was outraged, he was “not surprised” that the FBI under the direction of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice would seize the phone of a sitting member of Congress.
A group of military families and veterans watch President Biden's speech announcing that all troops are out of Afghanistan, on Aug. 31, 2021. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
The White House is planning to circulate a new memo on Capitol Hill defending President Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and claiming the move strengthened national security by freeing up critical military and intelligence agents, according to a copy of the document obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: The memo comes as many across Washington are still seeking answers about the flawed evacuation. Republicans in particular are planning to use the one-year anniversary to reexamine the failures that led to the Afghan capital swiftly falling into the hands of the Taliban.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt wants answers from the IRS commissioner on why the IRS needs an army of potentially armed new agents.
State Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks at an election-night gathering after winning the Republican primary for U.S. Senate at the Sheraton in Westport Plaza in St Louis, Mo., on Aug. 2, 2022. (Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Schmitt, who is a Republican Senatorial Candidate, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig on Aug. 11,questioning the agency’s massive expansion plans that include hiring 87,000 more IRS employees over the next 10 years.
The IRS has stockpiled 5 million rounds of ammunition and spent $750,000 this year to buy more, according to Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who introduced a bill to block future purchases by the agency.
Concurrently, social media was set ablaze this week by an IRS job post for Criminal Investigation Special Agents that would require them to “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force.” https://www.jobs.irs.gov/resources/job-descriptions/irs-criminal-investigation-special-agent
“This arsenal makes a recent IRS job advertisement downright frightening,” Schmitt wrote.
Russia has called for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send inspectors to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), a facility that Russia has controlled since March.
“We believe that the IAEA should not delay the visit. It would be good if it is held in late August or early September, but not all things depend on us,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy in Vienna, said on Saturday, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
In recent weeks, the ZNPP has come under frequent shelling, and Ukraine is blaming Russia for the attack even though the facility is under Russian control. Moscow denies the accusation and says Ukraine is attacking the plant. Ulyanov said that an IAEA inspection will show who is responsible for the shelling.
So far, IAEA officials haven’t blamed either Ukraine or Russia for the attacks on the plant. “The agency refrains from naming those responsible, partially due to the fact that none of its representatives is present at the station,” Ulyanov said. He added that a visit to the plant would give IAEA inspectors “a chance to see what is really happening there with their own eyes.”
Members of the UN are blocking a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (ZNPP) so they can avoid confirming Kiev shelled the Russian-controlled facility, local official Vladimir Rogov told RT in an interview on Monday.
Rogov, a member of the Zaporozhye military-civil administration, insisted that the ZNPP is always prepared to welcome the atomic energy watchdog, which has repeatedly expressed a desire to visit the facility, but noted that the UN has “directly started to block the possibility of an IAEA inspection.”
The official suggested that if the agency does visit the plant, it would be forced to conclude that it had been shelled by Kiev’s forces. “It is obvious, it’s all been documented, and not only that, it’s also well known who is being supplied with American guided missiles. Obviously, not Russia, but the Zelensky regime.”
The Zaporozhye nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – has repeatedly come under attack over the past few weeks. While none of the reactors have so far been struck, the shelling has partially damaged a nearby thermal power plant as well as equipment used to cool the nuclear reactors.
Moscow has accused Ukraine of using rockets, artillery and drones to attack the ZNPP and has described Kiev’s actions as “nuclear terrorism” and holding the whole of Europe hostage.
The Chinese air force is sending fighter jets and bombers to Thailand for a joint exercise with the Thai military on Sunday.
The training will include air support, strikes on ground targets and small- and large-scale troop deployment, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
China's expanding military activities in the Asia-Pacific region have alarmed the United States and its allies and form part of a growing strategic and economic competition that has inflamed tensions between the world's two largest economies.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Thailand in June as part of an effort to strengthen what he called America’s “unparalleled network of alliances and partnerships” in the region.
Speaking at a press conference, Wang Wenbin, deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Information Department of China, said the US government’s decision to seize Afghanistan’s $7 billion of foreign exchange reserves “contributed mightily to Afghanistan’s economic collapse."
The US government’s “decision to divide these funds in two is arbitrary and unjustified” and “undermines the recovery” of the Afghan economy, Wenbin said at the press conference.
“Nearly 20 years of 'forced transformation' imposed by the US on Afghanistan have not only failed to lift the Afghan people out of poverty and turbulence, but also worsened the crisis of human survival and national development,” Wenbin told reporters.
Meanwhile, officials of the Islamic Emirate said that negotiations are underway to release the Afghan assets of the Central Bank.
“The freezing of Afghan assets by the US is in contrast to international law. Diplomatic efforts are underway to unfreeze the assets of the Afghans,” said Abdul Latif Nazari, deputy Minister of Economy.
Analysts said that Afghanistan’s Central Bank assets can help the stability of the Afghan economy.
A virtually unregulated investment firm today exercises more political and financial influence than the Federal Reserve and most governments on this planet.
The firm, BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, invests a staggering $9 trillion in client funds worldwide, a sum more than double the annual GDP of the Federal Republic of Germany.
This colossus sits atop the pyramid of world corporate ownership, including in China most recently. Since 1988 the company has put itself in a position to de facto control the Federal Reserve, most Wall Street mega-banks, including Goldman Sachs, the Davos World Economic Forum Great Reset, the Biden Administration and, if left unchecked, the economic future of our world. BlackRock is the epitome of what Mussolini called Corporatism, where an unelected corporate elite dictates top down to the population.
The Ukrainian crisis has nothing to do with Ukraine. It’s about Germany and, in particular, a pipeline that connects Germany to Russia called Nord Stream 2. Washington sees the pipeline as a threat to its primacy in Europe and has tried to sabotage the project at every turn. Even so, Nord Stream has pushed ahead and is now fully-operational and ready-to-go. Once German regulators provide the final certification, the gas deliveries will begin. German homeowners and businesses will have a reliable source of clean and inexpensive energy while Russia will see a significant boost to their gas revenues. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.
The US Foreign Policy establishment is not happy about these developments. They don’t want Germany to become more dependent on Russian gas because commerce builds trust and trust leads to the expansion of trade. As relations grow warmer, more trade barriers are lifted, regulations are eased, travel and tourism increase, and a new security architecture evolves. In a world where Germany and Russia are friends and trading partners, there is no need for US military bases, no need for expensive US-made weapons and missile systems, and no need for NATO.
There’s also no need to transact energy deals in US Dollars or to stockpile US Treasuries to balance accounts. Transactions between business partners can be conducted in their own currencies which is bound to precipitate a sharp decline in the value of the dollar and a dramatic shift in economic power. This is why the Biden administration opposes Nord Stream. It’s not just a pipeline, it’s a window into the future; a future in which Europe and Asia are drawn closer together into a massive free trade zone that increases their mutual power and prosperity while leaving the US on the outside looking in.
From the persecution and torture of journalist Julian Assange to mass censorship of independent media outlets by US government contractors in Silicon Valley, Washington’s attacks on freedom of the press hurt every country and person on Earth.
The US government employs many strategies to try to justify its intervention in the internal affairs and violation of the sovereignty of foreign nations. Chief among these deceptive tactics is Washington’s weaponization of accusations that its adversaries violate the freedom of expression.
This is quite ironic, given that the United States is the world’s leading violator of press freedoms, according to any consistent definition of the term.
And unlike the countries that Washington claims supposedly repress the freedom of expression within their borders, US government censorship of independent media outlets and suppression of alternative voices is global, hurting people across the planet.
The Joe Biden administration has in particular gone to great lengths to depict itself as a defender of civil liberties.
In May, the White House published a statement commemorating World Press Freedom Day. The purpose of the declaration was to portray Russia as a leading violator of free speech and the United States as its noble protector.
But the reality is Washington is guilty of exponentially more persecution of journalists than anything Moscow is even accused of.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released new data showing a total of 1,379,438 reports of adverse events following COVID-19 vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Aug. 5, 2022, to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). That’s an increase of 7,964 adverse events over the previous week.
VAERS is the primary government-funded system for reporting adverse vaccine reactions in the U.S.
The data included a total of 30,162 reports of deaths — an increase of 181 over the previous week — and 251,075 serious injuries, including deaths, during the same time period — up 1,959 compared with the previous week.
Foreign reports are reports foreign subsidiaries send to U.S. vaccine manufacturers. Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, if a manufacturer is notified of a foreign case report that describes an event that is both serious and does not appear on the product’s labeling, the manufacturer is required to submit the report to VAERS.
On May 13th, 2022 for the first time, Russia used its S-300 air defense system against Israel, firing at Israeli jets after an air strike in northwestern Syria. In 2015 Putin had come to the defense of Syrian ally President Assad, requesting Russian military assistance against US-Turkey-Saudi backed ISIS terrorists, successfully securing Assad from yet another illegal US coup insurgency. Recall that
Syria was among the targeted nations per the infamous Bush-Cheney-neocon takedown list of 7 nations in 5 years, disclosed by General Wesley Clark. But with Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia all now arguably left failed states, compliments of US unipolar aggression and imperialistic wars clearly fought for Israel’s Yinon plan, only Iran still stands intact militarily unattacked. But unhappy over the latest developments and concessions after a Russian brokered new US-Iran deal in March, in response Israel has acquired new capabilities ramped up for launching a potential attack against Iran.
Fox News anchor Eric Shawn floated the possibility that former President Donald Trump may have tried to "sell" classified documents to Russia or Saudi Arabia.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort residence on Monday in search of top secret and sensitive compartmentalized information, as well as other classified documents. The Washington Post reported Thursday that information regarding nuclear weapons was believed to be among the documents sought by federal agents, and a Russian-state television host said officials in Moscow have already studied the records. Trump described the report regarding nuclear weapons documents as a "hoax."
In a Sunday Fox News broadcast, Shawn interviewed former intelligence officer and Russian expert Rebekah Koffler. At the start of the segment, the Fox News anchor raised questions about what Trump may have done with the classified materials.
The US government holds many political prisoners, including journalists; national security state whistleblowers; Black, Indigenous, and Latino revolutionaries; foreign diplomats; Muslims detained without trial; women who defended themselves from attacks; and environmental activists.
The United States constantly accuses its adversaries of holding political prisoners, while insisting it has none of its own. But for its entire history, the US government has used incarceration of its political opponents as a tool to crush dissent and advance the interests of economic elites.
Well-known cases are those entrapped or framed in US national security state sting operations, or imprisoned with extreme sentences for a minor offense because of their political activism, such as Black revolutionary George Jackson.
Each period of struggle by the working class and oppressed peoples against ruling-class control results in some activists locked up for their revolutionary work. “Political prisoner” has often meant those revolutionaries jailed for fighting their national oppression, as is the case with a great number of Black Panthers.
In contrast, a century ago, most political prisoners in the United States were Marxists, labor organizers, and anti-war activists, such as Joe Hill, Eugene Debs, and Big Bill Haywood.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — the guy who is, unfortunately for the country, the head of the House Intelligence Committee — appeared on “Face the Nation” on Sunday with Margaret Brennan.
Brennan asked Schiff about the FBI raid on President Donald Trump and she asked a terrific question, the same question that so many of us have been asking — if this was truly the “national security” issue they are trying to portray it as now, why did they wait 18 months? I’d even add another point to that — why did they wait three days after they got the warrant on August 5 to execute it?
There’s no evidence in the warrant that there were any “nuclear” documents, there’s only a “sources” report from the Washington Post. ”What was the change that made this immediate?” Brennan asked.
Russian state media outlets have been offering words of support for Former President Donald Trump amid the FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in an attempt to sow discord in the U.S.
"The Russians understand that Donald Trump is a hot button in America and they use their narratives to foment discord and amplify tensions in our country," Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and the author of "Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America," told Fox News.
The comments come after multiple Russian media outlets have expressed support for Trump in the days since the FBI raid on his home, with both Izvestia and RenTV arguing over the weekend that the raid was designed to prevent Trump from running for president in 2024.
The House Democrats’ top investigators on Saturday asked the director of National Intelligence to conduct a review and damage assessment of the boxes of highly classified information seized by the FBI this week from former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
© Susan Walsh/APTop lawmakers seek intelligence assessment of documents from Mar-a-Lago
The letter was sent to National Intelligence Director Avril Haines by House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and cites the search warrant cataloguing the classified documents of various levels of sensitivity found at Mar-a-Lago.
Webmaster addition: The documents had been declassified.
Rick LaBrode has worked at NASA for 37 years, but he says the American quest to return to the Moon is by far the crowning moment of his career.
LaBrode is the lead flight director for Artemis 1, set to take off later this month -- the first time a capsule that can carry humans will be sent to the Moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
"This is more exciting than really anything I've ever been a part of," LaBrode told journalists at the US space agency's Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas.
The 60-year-old confided to AFP that the eve of the launch is likely to be a long night of anticipation -- and little rest.
"I'm going to be so excited. I won't be able to sleep too much, I'm sure of that," he said, in front of Mission Control's iconic giant bank of screens.
Artemis 1, an uncrewed test flight, will feature the first blastoff of the massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will be the most powerful in the world when it goes into operation.
Several major Wall Street banks have begun offering to facilitate trades in Russian debt in recent days, according to bank documents seen by Reuters, giving investors another chance to dispose of assets widely seen in the West as toxic.
Most U.S. and European banks had pulled back from the market in June after the Treasury Department banned U.S. investors from purchasing any Russian security as part of economic sanctions to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine, according to an investor who holds Russian securities and two banking sources.
Following subsequent guidelines from the Treasury in July that allowed U.S. holders to wind down their positions, the largest Wall Street firms have cautiously returned to the market for Russian government and corporate bonds, according to emails, client notes and other communications from six banks as well as interviews with the sources.