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Lithuania is ready to send soldiers to Ukraine as part of a training mission, writes the Financial Times with reference to Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrid Shimonite.

"Shimonite told the Financial Times that she has permission from parliament to send troops to Ukraine for training purposes," the publication says.

The newspaper clarified that Kiev has not yet received a request to send a mission.

In addition, as stated by Shimonite, Lithuania wants to help Ukraine ensure "that it has the potential to upgrade its armed forces." In this regard, Vilnius will refuse Ukrainian draft dodgers a residence permit. At the same time, they will not intentionally search for or deport them, as this is illegal, the prime minister stressed.

Tags: EUROPE, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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The US plans to return to the same schedule of delivering weapons to Ukraine as before, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

"We are working on other packages," he told reporters at a regular news conference. "You can expect to see us get back to the kind of tempo that we were at before we had this break in funding."

Miller had no specific announcements to make on Wednesday.

Tags: RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS, WHITE HOUSE
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EU foreign policy spokesman Peter is inciting terrorism with his statement about Ukraine's alleged right to attack the Crimean Bridge, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Maria Zakharova said.

"On May 6, EU foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano made a statement about Ukraine's alleged right to attack the Crimean Bridge within the framework, as part of, as it was written, self-defense. You know, there is simply no other way to call this but direct incitement of terrorism," the diplomat said at a briefing.

According to Zakharova, it is shocking that the statement was made by a European official who "in general speaks on behalf of the entire European Union." "These are his responsibilities. Stano’s unacceptable statement proves that the EU is not only a sponsor of the Kiev regime, but its statements also incite Kiev to continue attacks on peaceful Russian cities, civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and stores," she added.

The spokeswoman pointed out that the EU, along with supplying heavy and long-range weapons, "openly disregards its own international obligations, as well as to others, and clearly becomes complicit in the terrorist activities of Ukrainian neo-Nazis."

Tags: EUROPE, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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Amid bellicose rhetoric from Paris and London regarding the possibility of sending soldiers to Ukraine and massive NATO drills near Russia’s borders, the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces on Tuesday announced that it was preparing drills to practice the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons.

The US-led multinational integrated air and missile defense exercise Astral Knight 2024 kicked off near the border with Russia’s Kaliningrad region, Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh stated at a briefing on May 7.

With scheduled live-fly operations across the territories of Poland and the Baltic countries, the two-week drills are set to involve around 5,000 personnel from six participating nations – the US, UK, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Denmark and Greece will observe the exercise.

Over 50 aircraft will be involved in the drills that are “part of the Defense Department's large scale global exercise 2024 program," according to the Pentagon press secretary.

Tags: RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS, WHITE HOUSE
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Lebanon’s Hezbollah attacked on May 8 several Israeli settlements and sites of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), causing material losses and casualties.

In four separate statements, Hezbollah said its fighters struck buildings occupied by Israeli troops in the settlements of Metula, Shlomi, Manara, Hanita and Avivim. In two other statements, the group announced that it had targeted fortified posts in the sites of al-Rahib and al-Malikiyah using guided missiles then shelled troops and surveillance equipment of the IDF there.

Hezbollah said in two more statements that it launched a suicide drone at a newly-established headquarters of the IDF’s Western Brigade near the settlement of Yaara and struck the headquarters of the 91st Division in Pranit barracks with a Burkan heavy improvised rocket. In another statement, the group announced that it fired rockets at the al-Samaqa site.

The attacks were carried out in support of the Palestinian people and resistance in the Gaza Strip and as a response to recent Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon, Hezbollah noted in its statements.

Hebrew media reported a number of casualties in Manara, Avivim and al-Malikiyah with some being evacuated by helicopter to a military hospital in the northern Israeli city of Afula. It also acknowledged that the IDF failed to intercept the drone Hezbollah launched at Yaara.

Tags: ISRAEL, LEBANON, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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A number of former and current high-ranking officials in Malta have been charged with corruption over a hospital privatization scandal, the AFP news agency reported on Wednesday.

The charges against former premier Joseph Muscat, current Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, and the governor of the EU nation’s central bank, Edward Scicluna, were filed on Monday, AFP said, citing documents it had obtained.

Muscat, who was Malta’s prime minister between 2013 and 2020, has reportedly been charged with accepting bribes, corruption in public office, and money laundering.

Tags: EUROPE, POLITICS/ ELECTIONS/ CORRUPTION
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Tags: CONSUMER RIGHTS / PRODUCT REPORTS, JAPAN, SCIENCE/ HEALTH/ CLIMATE/ NATURE
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Russia firmly opposes the West’s “colonial policies” aimed at elevating a few nations by restraining the development of other sovereign states, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in his address at the military parade in Moscow celebrating the 79th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany.

According to Putin, Western nations “would like to forget the lessons of World War II.”

“We see how they are trying to distort the truth about World War II – it interferes with those who are accustomed to building their essentially colonial policy on hypocrisy and lies. They demolish memorials to true fighters against Nazism and place traitors and Nazi collaborators on pedestals,” the president said.

He called this revanchism policy a “mockery of history” based on the desire to justify current followers of the Nazis.

Tags: CURRENT EVENTS, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS, WHITE HOUSE
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EU elites are growing increasingly disenchanted with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung has claimed. Bloomberg reported last month that French President Emmanuel Macron, widely regarded as a key backer in von der Leyen’s rise, is eyeing a replacement for her.

Although she is unelected, von der Leyen’s fate still indirectly depends on the outcome of the European parliamentary elections scheduled for next month. She remains the main candidate for the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), which has the most seats in the European Parliament. Despite an expected right wing surge in the upcoming votes, it is expected to reinforce its dominant position in June.

Any EPP nominee would still require the backing from an absolute majority of MEPs and von der Leyen has refused to rule out a coalition with right wing groups in order to secure another five-year term.

Tags: EUROPE, POLITICS/ ELECTIONS/ CORRUPTION
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UK Interior Minister James Cleverly has announced a package of sanctions targeting Russia’s diplomatic presence in the country in response to what he called Moscow’s “malign activity.” He outlined the measures while addressing Parliament on Wednesday.

The measures include imposing new restrictions on Russian diplomatic visas, including capping the length of time Russian diplomats can spend in the UK, and removing the status of diplomatic premises from several Russia-linked properties in the country. London believes that Moscow has used the properties, including Seacox Heath in Sussex and the Trade and Defense Section in Highgate, for intelligence purposes.

Cleverly also announced the expulsion of the Russian defense attaché, whom London has branded an “undeclared military intelligence officer.”

Tags: GREAT BRITAIN/ UK, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA
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Up to two dozen cases of the presence of French-speaking foreign mercenaries in the Zaporozhye Region have been exposed, Vladimir Rogov, the chairman of the commission on sovereignty, patriotic projects and support for veterans under the Civic Chamber, has told TASS.

Ethnic Poles and Georgians account for the largest groups of mercenaries in the Ukrainian army.

"There were French-speaking mercenaries, but without any French patches or insignia. Both white and dark-skinned. There were up to two dozen such cases in the Zaporozhye Region. Poles, Georgians and Ichkerians (supporters of the self-proclaimed and non-existent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria - TASS) are the largest groups. They were in Orekhov, Gulyaypole and in the city of Zaporozhye itself, as well as Kamyshevakha and Kushugum," Rogov said.

Their exact number on the line of engagement is difficult to determine.

Tags: FRANCE, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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Israel continued to bombard Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah on 8 May, as over one million Palestinians there face an immediate threat after Israeli forces captured the city’s border crossing with Egypt the previous day.

“Overnight and into the early hours of the morning, the Israeli military continued to pound parts of eastern Rafah city,” Al Jazeera reported, adding that health facilities in Rafah are unable to accommodate large numbers of casualties.

Israel also targeted Rafah with white phosphorus munitions, which are illegal to use on civilians and civilian infrastructure and are considered a war crime under international law. 

Tags: ISRAEL, PALESTINE, TORTURE/ WAR CRIMES, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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US retailers have announced the closure of almost 2,600 stores in 2024 - just four months into the year.

Big names including Macy's, Walmart, Walgreens, Foot Locker and 7-Eleven have all said they are closing shops. 

But discount stores like Family Dollar and bankrupt 99 Cents Only have been worst hit, as have drugstores like CVS and Rite Aid. 

If the closures were to continue at the same rate for the rest of the year they would total 7,800 in 2024 - almost 40 percent more than the total in 2023.

Bricks-and-mortar locations are struggling in the face of competition from online. 

Scroll down for the full list of closures so far in 2024.

Tags: ECONOMY
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Palestinian medical teams on 8 May unearthed dozens of bodies from a third mass grave at what remains of Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital, raising the number of mass graves left behind by the Israeli army inside Gaza hospitals to seven.

The chairman of the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Ramy Abdu, said that the grave contains the bodies of “dozens of Palestinians, including women, children, and patients, executed by Israel.”

“We condemn in the strongest terms the crimes of genocide and the continuous killing committed by the occupation army against our Palestinian people,” the Government Media Office in Gaza said via Telegram.

“This brings the number of mass graves found inside hospitals to seven: one in Kamal Adwan Hospital, three graves in Al-Shifa Medical Complex, and three graves in the Nasser Medical Complex … 520 martyrs have been recovered from these graves so far,” the official statement details.

Tags: ISRAEL, PALESTINE, TORTURE/ WAR CRIMES, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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Israel shut down nearby Kerem Shalom, the main commercial crossing into Gaza, on Monday after four Israeli soldiers were killed in a rocket attack nearby the previous day.

UN officials said that deliveries via Erez crossing in Gaza’s north, which has been opened for limited supplies in recent days, were insufficient for meeting the needs of Palestinians concentrated in Rafah.

Aid agencies had “pre-stocked some aid within Rafah but said there were very low supplies of water and high-energy nutrition supplies needed to treat malnourished children,” Reuters reported.

The World Food Program said that its stocks in Gaza would only cover people’s needs for one to four days in Rafah, Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah.

The UN said that Gaza has only a day’s worth of fuel reserves in Gaza, and that with no fuel, the aid operation in the territory would be put “in its grave.”

The heads of three prominent Palestinian human rights groups – Al-Haq, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights – called on third states to urgently intervene to stop a massacre on the scale of Srebrenica.

Thousands of men and boys were killed in that town when Bosnian Serb forces overran a UN safe zone in 1995. An international tribunal declared that massacre to be a genocide.

Tags: ISRAEL, PALESTINE, TORTURE/ WAR CRIMES, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a signed article published in Serbian media on Tuesday that China stands ready to make China-Serbia ironclad friendship deliver more benefits to the two peoples. Serbia is one of the stops of President Xi's ongoing visit to Europe. What can be expected from this visit? How will the two countries deepen cooperation under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)? Global Times (GT) reporters Zhang Han and Wang Wenwen talked to Bojan Lalic (Lalic), director of the Belt and Road Institute in Belgrade and Katarina Zakic (Zakic), head of Regional Centre for Belt and Road, Institute of International Politics and Economics in Belgrade, on these issues.

Tags: CHINA/TAIWAN, ECONOMY, EUROPE
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On the calm South China Sea scattered with uninhabited shoals and reefs, cargo vessels loaded with containers move about every day. The tranquil waters host a vibrant array of marine species and sustain dynamic international trade and commerce, connecting regional countries with the outside world. 

On March 23, a supply vessel and two Coast Guard vessels of the Philippines broke the peace and tranquility as they intruded into the adjacent waters of Ren'ai Jiao, a shoal that has long been China's territory. They were heading toward the shoal in the name of resupplying necessities to a rusty warship which was illegally grounded there by the Philippines 25 years ago and is still garrisoned with troops. Ignoring the frequent reminders and restrained measures of China Coast Guard, the Philippine ship was determined to reach the shoal, but failed.

A drama full of crafty deception

Videos have shown that the supply vessel was actually carrying construction materials not food. The apparent purpose was to repair and reinforce the grounded warship, so that it could be some sort of outpost and give the Philippines a de facto permanent presence on Ren'ai Jiao. 

What's more intriguing is that on board the vessels were also Philippine journalists and media representatives from third countries busy taking footage. The "fruits of their labor," as past experience shows, are usually stories about how China was purportedly "intimidating smaller countries." 

Tags: CHINA/TAIWAN, PACIFICA
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For years, cybersecurity researchers at Citizen Lab have monitored Israeli spyware firm NSO Group and its banner product, Pegasus. In 2019, Citizen Lab reported finding dozens of cases in which Pegasus was used to target the phones of journalists and human rights defenders via a WhatsApp security vulnerability.

Now NSO, which is blacklisted by the U.S. government for selling spyware to repressive regimes, is trying to use a lawsuit over the WhatsApp exploit to learn “how Citizen Lab conducted its analysis.”

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. federal court in 2019 by WhatsApp and Meta (then Facebook), alleges that NSO sent Pegasus and other malware to approximately 1,400 devices across the globe. For more than four years, NSO has failed repeatedly to get the case thrown out.

With the lawsuit now moving forward, NSO is trying a different tactic: demanding repeatedly that Citizen Lab, which is based in Canada, hand over every single document about its Pegasus investigation. A judge denied NSO’s latest attempt to get access to Citizen Lab’s materials last week.

Tags: COMPUTERS/INTERNET/AI, ISRAEL
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There’s an adage among observers of American Middle East policy that suggests the Arab world can’t have democracy because it would be bad for Israel. Arab publics favor the Palestinians, the thinking goes, and will vote in governments that act accordingly — and that is a no-go zone.

Now, with discontent in the U.S. boiling over amid Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, the framing might need a small update: The U.S., it seems, can’t have democracy either, lest an American democracy end its support for everything and anything Israel wants to do to the Palestinians.

Recent weeks saw violent crackdowns on protests, the passage of bills severely curtailing American free speech rights, and lawsuits seeking to effectively outlaw student groups hostile to Israel.

A serious red line has been crossed: America’s democratic freedoms, expansive on paper, will simply not tolerate serious dissent on the U.S.–Israel relationship. As criticisms of Israel have become more mainstream, the attempt to shut them down entirely has become more extreme.

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Tags: COVER-UP/ DECEPTIONS/ PROPAGANDA, DICTATORSHIP, ISRAEL, PALESTINE, POLITICS/ ELECTIONS/ CORRUPTION, TORTURE/ WAR CRIMES, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS, WHITE HOUSE
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In the early hours of April 30, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik announced that negotiations with student protesters had failed. She ordered the students, who were demanding that the school divest from Israel, to disband their encampments and end their protests.

Instead, students occupied Hamilton Hall. They renamed the building — which has a long history of occupations — Hind’s Hall in honor of Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces after calling for help in January.

“Every dollar that we spend on policing, especially policing that is suppressing our constitutional rights in a democracy, is an affront.”

That evening, at Shafik’s request, the New York City Police Department stormed the campus for the second time in two weeks. Hundreds of officers in riot gear showed up around 8 p.m., violently mass arresting students, and stayed until at least midnight, when the university said the area had been cleared.

Mayor Eric Adams has called for Columbia to foot some of the bill, but New York City residents are, for now, the ones paying for that violent evening. Based on estimates of the size of the police force and the cost per officer, New York spent at least $200,000 on overtime alone for the four-hour raid to clear Hamilton Hall, according to an analysis by The Intercept.

Tags: CURRENT EVENTS, DICTATORSHIP, EDUCATION, ISRAEL, PALESTINE, PROTESTS/ REVOLUTION, TORTURE/ WAR CRIMES, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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  • Russian strikes were reported in Kiev;
  • Russian strikes were reported in Vinnytsia;
  • Russian strikes were reported in Poltava;
  • Russian strikes were reported in Kirovohrad;
  • Russian strikes were reported in Zaporizhzhia;
  • Russian strikes were reported in Ivano-Frankivsk;
  • Russian strikes were reported in Lviv;
Tags: RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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The Rafah border crossing into Gaza remained closed on Wednesday following its capture by Israeli forces, cutting off vital aid deliveries after the UN’s World Food Program warned Palestinians in northern Gaza are already facing a “full-blown famine.”

Israeli sources told The Times of Israel that the Rafah crossing with Egypt will remain closed amid Israeli military operations on the Palestinian side, and it’s unclear how long that will be. The US claims it’s opposed to Israel restricting aid shipments into Gaza, but President Biden backed Israel’s operation to capture the crossing, which has tightened the starvation blockade.

Israel claimed on Wednesday that the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing that connects Gaza and Israel was re-opened. But both the US and the UN said no aid entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom since there is no one to distribute it and there are active military operations in the area. Gaza border officials said six of their employees came under fire when trying to approach the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Tags: ISRAEL, PALESTINE, TORTURE/ WAR CRIMES, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
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President Biden told CNN on Wednesday that the US would stop sending heavy bombs to Israel if its military launched a major invasion of Rafah and acknowledged that Israel has been killing civilians with US-provided munitions.

The comments marked the first time Biden appeared to put conditions on US military aid to Israel, but it might not make a difference. A US official told The Washington Post a day earlier that Israel already had enough munitions supplied by the US and other countries to launch a full-scale assault on Rafah.

In the interview, President Biden claimed that Israel had not “gone in Rafah” despite launching an operation to capture the Rafah border crossing, ordering an evacuation of eastern parts of the city, and launching heavy airstrikes.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem,” he said.

Tags: ISRAEL, PALESTINE, TORTURE/ WAR CRIMES, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS, WHITE HOUSE
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