Update(1228ET): The Daily Mail is calling it a "deal soaked in blood" after the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Russia confirmed that Brittney Griner's release for notorious convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout came via Saudi/UAE mediation efforts led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). Foreign ministry statements by both countries, hours after the now freed American and Russian walked past each other on a UAE airport tarmac, revealed the following per a leading Mideast regional news outlet:
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed led mediation efforts that secured the release of two prisoners between the US and Russia, a joint statement issued by both countries’ foreign ministries said on Thursday.
"The ministries said the success of the mediation efforts was a reflection of the mutual and solid friendship between their two countries and the United States and Russia," the statement said.
This is not The Onion, but CNN, which produced a whole report in effect arguing that internationally banned weapons are OK if given to Ukraine for the 'good cause' of fighting Russia...
"Ukrainian officials and lawmakers have in recent months urged the Biden administration and members of Congress to provide the Ukrainian military with cluster munition warheads, weapons that are banned by more than 100 countries but that Russia continues to use to devastating effect inside Ukraine."
BUT, the mainstream outlet writes, "For Ukraine, cluster munitions could address two major issues: the need for more ammunition for the artillery and rocket systems the US and others have provided, and a way of closing Russia’s numerical superiority in artillery."
A Big Tech lawsuit has uncovered one of the most disturbing revelations yet about social media companies’ collusion with law enforcement agencies to police speech on the Internet. A former FBI agent, Elvis Chan, revealed during the court hearings that the bureau held weekly meetings with major social media companies prior to the 2020 and 2022 elections.
On Wednesday, the court transcript of former FBI agent Elvis Chan’s testimony was released and corroborated earlier reports.
“Mr. Chan, or Agent Chan, who do you recall on the social media platform side participating in these — in these working group meetings that you have been testifying about from 2020 and 2022?”
“The companies that I remember attending the meetings are Facebook; Microsoft; Google; Twitter; Yahoo!, which have been known as Verizon Media at the time; Wikimedia Foundation and Reddit,” Agent Chan said.
Tucker Carlson highlighted a story Wednesday concerning a New Jersey mother being told she is being “monitored” by local law enforcement at the behest of military personnel who didn’t like her social media posts questioning sexualisation of children in school.
Angela Reading alerted other parents of children in the North Hanover Township Elementary School District that children from grade 4 up are being encouraged to research topics of sexuality and create LGBTQ+ posters.
Suddenly, the concerned mom found herself the target of one Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Shilling, who stated that the Joint Base (McGuire, Fort Dix and Lakehurst) are looking into her posts and informing law enforcement.
The city of Minneapolis will pay out $50,000 each to twelve individuals injured by police during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots of 2020.
These incidents broke out nationwide at the time and caused billions of dollars in damages and between six to twenty homicides, according to the Blaze.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis agreed in October about these payouts, and they will be paying out this hefty sum to twelve people injured by police at that time.
The city council signed off the agreement on October 20, which was signed off by Democrat Mayor Jacob Frey six days later. Finally, a federal judge also signed off on the agreement on Wednesday.
Offshore wind farms have become integral to President Joe Biden’s version of the Green New Deal.
The idea is that arrays of wind turbines would spin in the ocean breeze, creating carbon-free electricity and thus helping to combat climate change.
The Blaze reports that offshore wind farms have an environmental impact that their proponents have yet to anticipate.
“A new study has cast significant doubt on whether the White House’s plan and similar initiatives to tackle so-called climate change can be accomplished without creating some substantial negative environmental changes all their own.
“In addition to impacting regional atmosphere, ‘multiple physical, biological, and chemical impacts on the marine system have been identified,’ all resultant of these ‘environmentally jus[t]’ solutions.”
The peer-reviewed study, published in the Springer Nature journal Communications Earth & Environment “examined the impact of wind farms in the North Sea, which lies between Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Since the sea is shallow and the wind in the region is stable, the North Sea is a ‘global hotspot for offshore wind energy’ and home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm.”
The European Commission has announced on Wednesday that a new program to aid civil society, students, scientists and professionals in Belarus worth 25 million euros was endorsed.
The statement released by the European Commission explains the objectives covered by the allocated funds.
Firstly, funds are provided to "civil society activists to promote democratic changes and human rights in Belarus." The European Union believes that thanks to this aid, they would be "able to continue their work despite the very difficult context on the ground."
Additionally, financial aid is provided to students and professionals "in accessing modern quality education, training and learning opportunities, including through a scholarship program and by facilitating contacts between Belarusian and EU-based professionals and organizations."
- It is currently impossible to completely restore Ukraine's energy system to what it was before the crisis, Ukrainian media quoted President Vladimir Zelensky as saying in a video address on Wednesday.
"I've held a meeting on the stabilization of the energy system and the protection of our power plants. We are constantly increasing the generation and supply of electricity - we are adding more volume every day. But we should not forget that it is now impossible to restore 100% of the energy system as it was before," Zelensky said.
Consequently, scheduled blackouts are continuing in the majority of cities and districts, he said.
"As of this evening, the largest number of blackouts is in Kiev and the Kiev, Lvov, Zhitomir, Khmelnitsky, Poltava, Vinnitsa, and Transcarpathia regions," the president said.
Meanwhile, Ukrenergo grid operator CEO Vladimir Kudritsky said that Ukraine's power grid is still working despite taking major damage.
The ringleader of a US-supported opposition group, Maryam Rajavi, has admitted to organizing the recent riots in Iran, the Tasnim news agency reported on Thursday, citing the information posted on Rajavi’s official website.
"This movement [riots] was well-organized by the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) with the use of rebel centers," Tasnim quoted Rajavi, who heads MKO, as saying. "[We consider] the National Council of Resistance of Iran [established by us] as an alternative to the current regime," she said.
This remark by Rajavi was deleted from her website several hours later.
Earlier, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that Rajavi, who used to call herself "president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran," announced "a presidential bid for the transition period" on social media. Rajavi and her husband, Massoud, are responsible for the death of 17,000 innocent Iranians, the news agency said.
Hundreds of workers at Shelter, a British housing and homeless charity, have launched industrial action, joining thousands of striking employees in various economic sectors across the country.
More than 600 workers at the charity started their protest action on Monday, in what their union, Unite, described as "a bitter dispute over pay."
Staging the strike, the Shelter's staffers said the combination of insufficient payment and soaring inflation has prompted them to start worrying about their own housing security.
Unite said Shelter's management has imposed a three-percent salary rise, which it claimed "has left many of its own staff being unable to pay their rent" and haunted with the possibility of being made homeless.
Thousands of Britain's Border Force workers announce a Christmas period strike over pay, joining thousands others of striking employees in various economic sectors across the country.
The workers' Public and Commercial Services Union announced the industrial action on Wednesday.
It said the protest move stands to affect passport booths at Heathrow and Gatwick airports as well as Birmingham Airport, Cardiff Airport, Glasgow Airport, Manchester Airport, and the Port of Newhaven.
The union's General Secretary Mark Serwotka said around 2,000-3,000 staff would be involved in the walkouts on December 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 31.
The new package of sanctions against Russia may include a clause on the blocking of four Russian TV channels. Such a measure of influence on the Kremlin is proposed in the official statement of the European Commission (EC), made on behalf of its head Ursula von der Leyen.
"We will strike at the Russian propaganda machine by additionally disconnecting four channels and all other platforms for distributing content from the air," the European Commission said in a statement.
At the same time, von der Leyen did not specify which Russian TV channels she was referring to. The measures announced may be in the next, ninth package of sanctions against Russia. According to the head of the EC, Europe is taking such measures because it supports Ukraine and wants to "make Russia pay for its cruelty."
In the same statement, the politician admitted that the new package of sanctions would ban Russia's access to unmanned aerial vehicles. This also applies to technologies obtained with the help of third countries.
UK PM Rishi Sunak has said that the British government "cannot solve" all the problems UK citizens are facing, as per a report from Sputnik news. Sunak, however, stated that he will be honest with UK citizens on the economic challenges that the country faces. The new UK PM's government is slated to introduce a budget on November 17th.
Rishi Sunak said that he was "confident" that the British people will consider his autumn budget fair and compassionate. The British state, due to Liz Truss' economic plans, has witnessed a decline in revenue. Sunak faces the challenge of navigating the economy without cutting public spending too much. Heavy cuts in public spending, especially cuts in the NHS' budget, will lead to backlash at the voting booth.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said Polish nationalists can’t wait to seize western Ukraine.
"As for the governments of some of our neighbors, Poland, nationalist elements there dream of taking back their so-called historical territories, seizing the western territories that Ukraine gained as a result of a decision by Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin following World War II," the president said at a meeting with the Human Rights Council.
He said "these territories were taken away from Poland and given to Soviet Ukraine."
House Republicans are requesting a sit-down meeting with President Biden to discuss the ongoing scourge of fentanyl overdoses after he traveled to Arizona earlier this week but declined to visit the southern border, telling reporters that there were “more important things going on.”
Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, outgoing chairman of the Republican Study Committee, authored the letter obtained by RealClearPolitics. It wasn’t the first, however, that House Republicans have sent.
Up to 10 tankers carrying oil from Kazakhstan remain stranded in the Turkish straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, the head of the KazMunayGas Kazakh oil and gas company, Magzum Mirzagaliev, said on Thursday.
“As of yesterday, there were 21 tankers there, including six tankers with oil from TCO [Kazakh oil producer]. In general, we estimate that about eight tankers related to Kazakhstan — from eight to 10 — are among those stranded,” Mirzagaliev told reporters.
Mirzagaliev cited the Kazakh Energy Ministry as saying on Wednesday that the delay in the passage of ships through the Turkish straits had already lasted six days at that point. He also recalled the 14-day bottleneck in the same waters last December.
Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is reportedly gathering with some of his top donors this month as he plots out the course of his political future following his blowout victory in last month’s midterm elections.
District Judge Michael Stepka decided Wednesday that five men must stand trial in connection with a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to The Associated Press, a saga that has already resulted in convictions for several others.
More than a thousand New York Times union staffers are preparing to strike Thursday over a disagreement on wages with some staffers asking readers to stand in solidarity with the picketers by not engaging with the publication.