“What if the rights and principles guaranteed in the Constitution have been so distorted in the past 200 years as to be unrecognizable by the Founders? What if the government was the reason we don’t have a Constitution anymore? What if freedom’s greatest hour of danger is now?” -- Andrew P. Napolitano

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Civil society groups on Friday accused the UN climate secretariat (UNFCCC) of  "unprecedented" policing of their actions and expressions of solidarity with Palestine at the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai.

Officials from War on Want and Climate Action Network International (Can) reported that activists have been threatened with removal from the summit for wearing keffiyehs or pro-Palestine badges inside the conference centre's blue zone, one of the "dedicated spaces" for protests at the summit.

The blue zone is UN-administered and therefore subject to UNFCCC regulations, while UAE laws in general ban any expression of dissent outside the Cop28 venue.

But activists have reported increasingly tight restrictions on speech used during pro-Palestine protests within the blue zone.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:36

The Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip said on Saturday that they targeted several Israeli military targets, Anadolu Agency reports.

The Al-Quds Brigades, the military arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement, claimed on Telegram that they targeted an Israeli military vehicle with two shells, injuring several soldiers west of Gaza City.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announced “targeting enemy (Israeli) command centers” in southern Gaza City with heavy-caliber mortar shells.

They also reported targeting “an Israeli Merkava tank in the eastern part of Khan Yunis city with a Yasin 105 shell.”

Al-Qassam also claimed shelling the invading enemy forces in northern Khan Yunis city with mortar shells, as well as launching a missile barrage at the Israeli settlement of “Magen” in Gaza.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:31

Russia warned Israel against flooding the Gaza Strip tunnels with seawater, and said that this step would be a war crime, the US-based magazine Newsweek reported.

The warning came after Tel Aviv announced that it would establish a large system of pumps to flood the tunnels used by the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas,  in an attempt to expel its fighters.

According to Newsweek, “Russia said that reports of proposals to flood the tunnels were shocking and warned that ‘if done, this will be a war crime’.”

Webmaster addition: Pouring all that salt water into the ground will ruin all the water wells and make the soil unusable for agriculture. It may also weaken the soil making rebuilding the strip more difficult and costly.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:29

Now denied a renewal of her visa by the Israeli authorities, Lynn Hastings is the current Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

Having held her current title for three years, she now faces Israeli allegations of failing to be objective and impartial in her role.

Lynn Hastings, a Canadian Veteran UN official, has worked for decades across a multitude of conflict zones in a professional capacity. Prior to taking her current role in 2020, she had worked as Deputy Director in the Operations and Advocacy Division of OCHA, in New York. 

She was also Senior Advisor for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, had been the Country Director for Pakistan of OCHA and Chief of Staff in the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) between 2003 and 2011.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:29

There is a reason why Palestinians are keen on releasing their prisoners, despite the heavy price they continue to pay for their freedom.

It may seem rational to ask the question: what is the point of releasing a few Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons if the price of doing so is the death of over 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza?

Even if all Palestinian prisoners – numbering about 7,000 – are released, they would not even amount to 30 percent of the total number of Palestinian dead and missing so far in the ongoing Israeli genocide in the Strip.

The logic may sound even more puzzling when we consider that, between October 7 and November 28, Israel detained over 3,290 Palestinians in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem.

Namely, the number of Palestinian women and children detainees released – following several prisoner swaps between Palestinian Resistance and the Israeli army in the period between November 24 and November 30 – is insignificant compared to those who were detained during the same period.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:27

In the week that followed the expiration of the “humanitarian pause”, Israel has escalated its invasion of the Gaza Strip. Aerial bombardment by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) resumed within minutes of the uneasy week-long pause that ended on December 1. It was then followed by advances of armoured units, artillery and infantry on the ground.

During the truce, Israeli forces continued issuing warnings and threats aimed mainly at Hamas but also at the Palestinian population. Once the truce was over, Israel showed it meant what it had said, making a strong and determined push into the south of the strip, mainly targeting the city of Khan Younis.

Many analysts had expected that they would advance further towards the urban centre of Gaza City, with the three columns that carried out the invasion along different axes converging towards the old city.

Instead, Israeli forces decided to open a new front by advancing into the southern part of Gaza. In a fashion similar to their assault on Gaza City in November, they again chose to encircle the city before taking the battle to the next stage.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:26

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has accused President Joe Biden of failing to secure the southern border, and is seeking half a billion dollars in federal reimbursement for the state's spending on the crisis.

In a letter on Friday, which Hobbs released publicly, the governor requested more than $512 million in federal funds to reimburse state spending on migrant transport, drug interdiction, and law enforcement 'due to the federal government's failure to secure our border.'

It comes after Customs and Border Protection encounters with migrants at the southern border reportedly hit a one-day high of 12,000 on Tuesday, including more than 10,200 who were detained illegally entering the US from Mexico between ports of entry.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:23

Iran has condemned “baseless” claims against it in a statement of G7 leaders after their virtual meeting, saying some members of the group are the main cause of instability and insecurity in the region and the world.

The Wednesday statement of the G7 members, comprising Japan, the US, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the EU, called on Iran “to refrain from providing support for Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and other non-state actors” and “never develop a nuclear weapon”.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani on Thursday strongly condemned the claims which he said resembled “a bitter historical joke”, as he reiterated the country’s position regarding nuclear weapons.

“As it has been announced many times, nuclear weapons have no place in the defense doctrine of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.

Kan’ani said the nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic are “completely transparent, peaceful and within the framework of Iran's rights and obligations based on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:12

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian of Iran says the United States and Israel are clueless about how to either continue the war in the besieged Gaza Strip or negotiate a ceasefire.

“The US and Israel neither have a strategy on how to maintain the [Gaza] war nor do they know how to achieve a ceasefire,” Amir-Abdollahian addressed a group of university students at Tehran University on Saturday.

“Resistance factions have declared they have so far mobilized between 10 and 12 percent of their forces, and are fully prepared for a prolonged war with Israel.”

Posted on: Dec 10 07:11

Condemnations have poured in from across the world following the United States’ veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian death toll continues to rise from the Israeli regime’s genocidal war against the besieged territory.

In a statement on Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced as “aggressive, immoral, and a flagrant violation of all humanitarian principles” US’ veto, saying the move made Washington “complicit” in Israeli war crimes in Gaza. 

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh described the veto as “a disgrace” and another “blank cheque” given to the Israeli regime to “massacre, destroy and displace”.

Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, told the UNSC that condoning the continuation of war while claiming to care about the lives and safety of people in Gaza is” hypocritical” and “double-standards”.

Posted on: Dec 10 07:09

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said assistance to Ukraine is a good opportunity for NATO member countries to spend their money. When asked how NATO member countries should spend 2% of their GDP on defense, something the alliance requires of its members, the secretary general said, "If the problem is that it’s hard to spend 2% [of GDP], I can help you."

"We have a lot of good purposes in NATO. We have a big assistance fund for Ukraine," he said at a news conference after meeting with Luxembourg Prime Minister Luc Frieden. "If you have surplus money, you can put it in there."

NATO countries set the goal of bringing their military expenditures to 2% of GDP at the Wales Summit in September 2014, citing the "Russian threat" following the reunification of Crimea with Russia. At the Vilnius summit in July 2023, it was decided that 2% of GDP should be a minimum level of defense spending for NATO countries, rather than a goal to reach.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:53

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces Northern Command and warned that the escalation of tensions on the border with Lebanon by Hezbollah could cause Beirut and South Lebanon to repeat the fate of the Gaza Strip.

"If Hezbollah decides to open an all-out war, then with its own hands it will turn Beirut and southern Lebanon, which are not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Yunis," he said on X (formerly Twitter).

The situation in the Middle East sharply escalated following an incursion of Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip into Israel on October 7, accompanied by killings of residents of Israeli settlements near the border and taking more than 200 hostages, including children, women and elderly people. Hamas has cast the attack as a response to Israeli actions against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israel has declared a complete siege of the Gaza Strip and started a military operation there. Israel also strikes parts of Lebanon and Syria in retaliation for bombardments originating from these countries. Clashes are also taking place in the West Bank.

Webmaster addition: Israel still wants access to the Litani river!

Posted on: Dec 10 06:51

Berlin has been by far the biggest donor of ammunition and military equipment to Ukraine for NATO’s proxy war against Russia after the US, to the Bundeswehr’s detriment. Last month, German media reported that the nation’s military only has enough resources to last a “maximum” of 48 hours if Germany ever faced a hot war.

German media has savaged Defense Minister Boris Pistorius’s plans to station a German Army brigade in Lithuania to “contain Russia,” suggesting that “basic arithmetic” shows such plans to be infeasible.

Pistorius announced plans to deploy a 4,000-strong brigade of troops in the Baltic nation in September, saying the move, designed to show “solidarity and responsibility in the east wing [of NATO]” should be created by the end of 2024.

“This is unprecedented for the German Bundeswehr. We’ve never done it like that, deploying an entire brigade overseas,” Pistorius said, noting that troops would be deployed to the east together with their families.

But Berlin may have bitten off than it can chew with the deployment, according to detractors.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:51

San Francisco stores have quietly disabled self-checkout recently, indicating a trend in “defensive retailing” that may soon spread across the city. While innovative measures to prevent theft at Bay Area retailers have been well documented this year, the changes to self-checkout are a more recent development. 

The Safeway at 1335 Webster St. in the Fillmore District closed down its self-checkout area a few months ago, an employee confirmed to SFGATE. Target on San Francisco’s Mission Street also has closed its self-checkout kiosks, rotating the screens backward to make them unusable to customers, SFGATE confirmed.

While Safeway and Target did not respond to SFGATE’s requests for comment on why these self-checkout stations are no longer available to customers, self-checkout stations have been linked to increased shoplifting at other retailers. Retail crime has become an outsize concern locally over the past few years. In September, Target blamed the closure of three Bay Area stores on theft and organized retail crime. In 2021, Safeway cut hours at its store in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood due to increasing theft.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:39

A protest attended by over 1,000 demonstrators temporarily shut off vehicular traffic to Disneyland’s eastern entrance on Saturday afternoon.

Protestors calling attention to the Walt Disney Company’s financial support of Israeli aid organizations marched up and down Harbor Boulevard from 1 p.m. to approximately 4:30 p.m., causing the Anaheim Police Department to shut down traffic in the area. The protest was peaceful and no arrests were made, APD’s public information officer, Sgt. Jon McClintock, told SFGATE.

The action was the first pro-Palestine protest to ever take place at the park, according to Rida Hamida, founder of Latino Muslim Unity. The organization spearheaded the demonstration alongside Jewish Voice for Peace, the Islamic Society of Orange County, Los Angeles’ chapter of Black Lives Matter, and other local groups.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:38

Western culture has valued free speech as a necessary check on overreaching centralized power for centuries.  Yet we’re watching the ability to speak freely disappear before our eyes.

Imagine going to federal prison for a meme.

Douglass Mackey, also known by his Twitter name Ricky Vaughn, is going to jail for memes mocking Hillary Clinton back in 2016.  He made fake memes telling people to vote from home via text messages. Mackey insisted in court that he was just sh*tposting. He didn’t think anyone would be stupid enough to actually fall for it.

But never underestimate the power of stupid!  At least 4900 people did call the prank number to vote for Hillary. The federal government did not find it funny and sentenced Mackey to seven months in prison.

What’s happening in Ireland is even worse.

This is bad, but it’s mild compared to what Ireland has planned.  In November 2022, the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence and Hatred or Hate Offences) Bill 2022 was initiated in Ireland’s legislature.

Section 10 (1) (a) states that a person will be found guilty of an offense if he “prepares or possesses material that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected characteristics or any of those characteristics with a view to the material being communicated to the public or a section of the public, whether by himself or herself or another person.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:37

Electric vehicles are failing to live up to their promise, with a new report from Consumer Reports showing that they have an incredible 79 percent more problems than their conventional counterparts, in addition to being less reliable.

Plug-in hybrids fared even worse, registering 146 percent more problems than vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines.

According to Consumer Reports, the least reliable type of vehicle overall was electric pickup trucks.

They reached this conclusion based on a survey they conducted among members about issues they have had with their vehicles during the past year. Data from more than 330,000 vehicles with model years from 2000 onward was included in the assessment.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:34

It’s no secret that the liberal ladies of ABC’s The View love abortion and despise pro-lifers. Earlier this year, they brought on far-left extremist Jane Fonda who told them that her final solution to pro-lifers was to “murder” them, which they did not push back on. Well, on Friday, co-host and pro-choice radical Sara Haines suggested that pro-lifers should stop receiving life-saving medical treatments because it was “God’s will” that they die, and that they were hypocrites for doing so.

Haines’s hate-filled attacks against pro-lifers came in response to the recent abortion court ruling in Texas. “Yeah, and this example should be one of the easy ones, because this actually also risked her future fertility and she wants to grow her family more and, of course, the baby is going to pass, all those things,” she said.

“[I]t’s also not a universal truth when life begins,” she falsely proclaimed.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:34

Nearly 20 illegal gold mines were blown up by the Colombian and Brazilian authorities in the Amazon this week, part of an ongoing attempt by both governments to combat an illicit trade that pollutes and degrades the area’s natural habitat.

Aerial footage provided by the Colombian military shows a number of improvised mines in an area in the far south, close to the country’s shared border with Brazil. 

Their corrugated iron roofs burst into flames as explosions set by the military detonate in the surrounding green jungle, blowing to smithereens mines that were producing some $1.5 million in gold a month, according to official estimates. Both the Brazilian and Colombian security forces also destroyed digging equipment and other tools used to mine gold.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:33

I often get questions when I write articles about the lack of trust I have in the banking system. While I do have my own financial strategy, it’s not one-size-fits-all. Financial security is so incredibly important, and I don’t feel comfortable offering advice that I’m not really qualified to give.

That’s why I recently asked email subscribers to send in their questions for Lynette Zang of ITM Trading. ITM is the place I trust the most for my own financial preparedness, so why would I go anywhere else to seek advice for you?

Lynette spent a long time answering your questions, plus the ones that popped up when we were talking. I hope that you enjoy this interview and find it useful when setting up your own financial preparedness time. Our economy is in big trouble, and we need to focus NOW on how to survive the crash.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:32

For many people, the U.S. military is a mystery. They may imagine its photographic output is largely stoic soldiers and rows of tanks and jets, but the reality is different. Troops are people. A lot of them are nerds with the same hobbies as civilians, and. many of them take terrible photos. 

Every year, the Pentagon takes millions of photos and uploads them on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, a repository of photographs and videos generated by the U.S. military. Every now and then you get something of historical significance on the DVIDS, like the cell phone photo an Air Force pilot took before shooting down a Chinese surveillance balloon. But the overwhelming majority of the photos are mediocre. Some are poorly composed. Others are cursed. But they all say something about the way America conducts war and what kinds of things are important to the troops who take them.

Your tax dollars paid for these photos, meaning they belong to the U.S. public. Please, pour yourself a coffee and join me as I recount the most cursed military images of 2023. A lot of them are Star Wars related, but as these photos illustrate, the army of today also loves horny anime just as much.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:31

The so-called 'porn Dem,' Susanna Gibson, who lost her Virginia House of Delegates race last month after webcam videos of her having sex with her husband were exposed, says she was victim of 'hit job' and is determined to find out who was responsible for leaking the clips.

Gibson, a Democrat whose House of Delegates campaign and personal life were rocked by news reports that she had live-streamed sex acts with her husband on a pornographic website, says she wouldn't wish the humiliation on her worst enemy.

While expressing regret about what unfolded, Gibson is also unapologetic about her participation in the online sex acts. 

She maintains that a crime was committed when members of the news media were alerted to the existence of videos documenting what had been live-streamed to the site Chaturbate.

Posted on: Dec 10 06:29