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Thought for the day
"The Marxians love of democratic institutions was a stratagem only, a pious fraud for the deception of the masses. Within a socialist community there is no room left for freedom." -- Ludwig Von Mises
Polish oil and gas company PGNiG is forced to take out a loan to purchase natural gas in anticipation of a warming period.
At the end of April this year, Gazprom stopped the gas supply to Poland for refusing to pay in Russian rubles. Previously, the republic received up to 10 million tons of this fuel annually from Russia.
The group’s statement states that PGNiG has “signed a loan agreement with the National Economy Bank (BGK) amounting to PLN 4.8 billion (a little over one billion euros at the current exchange rate)”.
The loan agreement has been concluded for 24 months.
It was noted that by signing the loan agreement, PGNiG benefited from the Treasury guarantee, a mechanism stipulated by the Law on Special Decisions on the Protection of Gas Fuel Consumers Depending on the Gas Market Situation.
Hundreds of Americans were left in Afghanistan following last year’s disastrous withdrawal of US troops — and the Biden administration has no intention to help thousands of Afghans who aided the US during its 20-year war against the Taliban and are still marooned in the collapsing country, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee claimed in a damning report released Wednesday.
In a two-page summary of Rep. Michael McCaul’s 115-page report, Republicans on the committee stressed that the White House had repeatedly said “about a hundred” Americans were left behind after the last US troops departed Kabul on Aug. 31, 2021.
Apple disclosed a serious security vulnerability for iPhones, iPads and Macs that could potentially allow attackers to take complete control of these devices.
Apple's explanation of the vulnerability means a hacker could get "full admin access" to the device. That would allow intruders to impersonate the device's owner and subsequently run any software in their name, said Rachel Tobac, CEO of SocialProof Security.
According to enrollment data, nearly 2 million students stopped attending public schools between 2020 and 2021.
Was it a glitch or was it a sign of things to come?
One year ago, following the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, the US froze about seven billion dollars in Afghan central bank assets and cut major international funding to the country.
The measure, which pushed the Afghan economy to collapse, faced backlash from inside and outside Afghanistan. In February, US President Joe Biden signed an order splitting Afghan assets between relief aid to Afghanistan and 9/11 victims.
On Tuesday, nearly 80 family members of 9/11 victims sent a letter to Biden saying the money belongs to Afghans, urging him to release the money without delay.
In Afghanistan more and more people are going without job and cash as the US sanctions have paralyzed the public economy. Frustrated Afghans call for the release of Afghanistan central bank assets and solidarity from the international community.
Majority of the Afghan population is in need of humanitarian assistance. More than half Afghans are going hungry and more than a million children are severely malnourished.
Ankara and Kiev have signed a memorandum on Turkey’s participation in the restoration of Ukrainian infrastructure facilities, Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure said.
"Today in Lvov, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Alexander Kurbakov and Turkish Trade Minister Mehmet Mus signed a memorandum of understanding on the reconstruction of infrastructure, which provides for Turkey’s participation in Ukraine’s reconstruction," the ministry said in a statement on Facebook (an Internet platform banned in Russia since it is owned by Meta corporation deemed extremist by Russian authorities).
On the surface, it seemed like the most surprising aspect of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary defeat on Tuesday was how big the margin was.
In a press conference on Wednesday 10 August, former President Donald Trump said that on Monday, two days earlier, more than 30 FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida. The FBI refused to allow Mr. Trump’s attorney or any other witnesses to be present during the razzia which lasted over 9 hours. Mr. Trump was suggesting they might have used the opportunity to plant evidence against him.
And why not?
It is clear that the Trump residence Mar-a-Lago raid was not about a bunch of documents that he may have taken with him from the White House. It was about much more. And it is not over yet. US Attorney General Merrick Garland, has intimated that never before in the Justice Department’s 152-year history, was such an extensive investigation of a former President carried out.
“These are dark times for our nation,” former President Trump declared in response to the FBI’s Monday morning raid on his Mar-a-Lago private residence. He compared the event to “an assault” that “could only take place in broken, Third-World countries.”
The President of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute, Paul du Quenoy, calls the The Mar-a-Lago Raid a Desperate Act of a Corrupt Establishment.
The supposed populist Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance has structured his income to exploit a controversial tax loophole that almost exclusively benefits the super-rich, according to financial disclosures reviewed by The Lever.
Vance’s opponent, Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, has co-sponsored legislation to close the so-called carried interest loophole, which lets many Wall Street moguls pay an artificially low tax rate on their income.
Politicians in both parties have denounced the tax dodge — but if they ever get serious about trying to eliminate the maneuver, Vance could stand in their way. If Vance wins in November, the Senate’s arcane rules could empower him to stall any initiative to close a tax loophole from which he stands to personally benefit.
What’s happening in the nearly six-month-old Russo-Ukrainian war? It’s hard to say. Moscow expected a proverbial cakewalk and bungled its initial attack. After rebuffing Russia’s assault, the Zelensky government expanded its objectives, expressing its desire to reconquer portions of the Donbas seized by separatists with Russian support in 2014, as well as Crimea, which had been formally annexed by Moscow.
In recent months, however, Russian forces have made slow progress in the Donbas and now occupy a fifth or more of Ukrainian territory. But Ukraine and its advocates have been threatening counteroffensives against Moscow’s supposedly overstretched forces. Conflicting claims have been made about casualty levels, the impact of high-tech allied weapons sent to Ukraine, and both sides' prospects in the war.
Both Russia and Ukraine have lied and will continue to lie in search of future advantage. Of course, it makes sense to mislead one’s enemies. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously observed: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
In his State of the Union address, President Biden announced that Russia was "isolated from the world more than [it] ever has been." He said that "We are choking off Russia’s access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come."
But the facts on the ground are less certain than Biden’s words.
In an attempt to relieve world markets from the pain and pressure caused by sanctions on Russian oil, Biden went to Saudi Arabia as a supplicant seeking oil. The Saudis gratefully accepted everything Biden brought them and then, laughing, escorted him out of their house. The Saudis did increase their oil production: by a drop. The 100,000 barrels per day increase, "equivalent to 86 seconds of global oil demand" was described by analysts "as an insult to U.S. President Joe Biden."
Biden asked for help isolating Russia; Saudi Arabia seemingly sided with Russia.
Western policymakers appear to have reached a consensus about the war in Ukraine: the conflict will settle into a prolonged stalemate, and eventually a weakened Russia will accept a peace agreement that favors the United States and its NATO allies, as well as Ukraine. Although officials recognize that both Washington and Moscow may escalate to gain an advantage or to prevent defeat, they assume that catastrophic escalation can be avoided. Few imagine that U.S. forces will become directly involved in the fighting or that Russia will dare use nuclear weapons.
Washington and its allies are being much too cavalier. Although disastrous escalation may be avoided, the warring parties’ ability to manage that danger is far from certain. The risk of it is substantially greater than the conventional wisdom holds. And given that the consequences of escalation could include a major war in Europe and possibly even nuclear annihilation, there is good reason for extra concern.
Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man and wounded at least 30 others in a predawn raid in Nablus on Thursday.
Medical staff at the city's Specialised Arab Hospital said Wasim Nasser Abu Khalifa, a 20-year-old who lived in the Balata refugee camp, had died from wounds resulting from Israeli army gunfire.
Ahmad Jibril, director of the Palestinian Red Crescent's emergency department in Nablus, told the Palestinian news agency Wafa that Abu Khalifa had been shot twice in the upper chest, including one shot that penetrated his heart.
Jibril said Israeli forces had opened fire at young men attempting to block their passage after the soldiers swept into several areas in Nablus, including Amman Street, Jerusalem Street, the vicinity of Joseph's Tomb, the Balata and Askar refugee camps and many surrounding communities.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States has sent over $8 billion worth of military aid to support Kyiv’s war effort. This massive arms transfer has included a wide range of weapons, from anti-armor missiles to helicopters and beyond.
With the constant flow of news about the war, it can be hard to keep track of all these weapons packages, so we at Responsible Statecraft decided to put together a timeline of every arms shipment that has been announced since the war began. And whenever a new transfer is announced, we’ll update this page to reflect it.
Before jumping into the timeline, it is important to note a couple of things. First, this list only contains publicly announced information. The Pentagon has admitted to sending at least one type of missile that was never mentioned in their press releases, so there’s reason to believe that this list is not exhaustive.
Second, there are two different sources for these lethal aid packages. One, which has made up the vast majority of transfers to date, is known as a “presidential drawdown.” This means that the White House and Pentagon agree to send weapons to Ukraine from U.S. stockpiles, after which DoD can use the funds to replenish their stocks by purchasing new arms from defense contractors. Biden has used this authority an unprecedented 18 times in order to send weapons to Ukraine, with most of the funding coming from money that Congress has set aside to arm Kyiv.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with US officials on Thursday and said if the Biden administration doesn’t “walk away” from the current Iran nuclear deal talks, it will show “weakness.”
“In the current situation, the time has come to walk away from the table. Anything else sends a message of weakness to Iran,” Lapid told US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), according to an Israeli official speaking to Axios.
The US is currently reviewing Iran’s response to an EU proposal to revive the deal, known as the JCPOA. Details of the proposal and Iran’s response aren’t clear, but Iran is reportedly seeking some guarantees if the US withdraws from the deal again, as it did in 2018.
As the US is considering Iran’s response to an EU proposal to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, The Cradle reported on Thursday the details of the agreement Tehran put forward.
The Cradle report cited an unnamed Iranian source who said that the deal includes comprehensive sanctions relief for Iran and a series of measures meant to deter the US from withdrawing from the agreement in the future.
Iran has to shut down some centrifuges to bring its nuclear program back into the limits of the JCPOA. The source said that the centrifuges will be left in a state such that if the US pulls out of the deal again, the centrifuges could be restarted within a year.
“The platforms of the centrifuges will not be destroyed and their connections and electricity are collected, which brings our rebuildability to under one year and is a kind of guarantee,” the source said.
The situation in Palestine can be summed up as follows: Rampant Settler violence and intimidation, state-sponsored racism and violence, modern, comfortable housing and living conditions for Jews only while Palestinians are denied basic services, killing of Palestinians across the board – activists, journalists, fighters, children and citizens of Israel. Palestinian organizations, even ones that are recognized internationally, have no protection and are subject to closure, arrests and confiscation of their property.
Nowhere in Palestine can Palestinians expect to be safe or to enjoy equality, justice or peace of mind. Be they citizens in El-Lyd or the Naqab, residents with limited rights in Jerusalem, or residents with no rights in ghettos across what used to be the West Bank. People living in Gaza, be they active or not, militant or not, men, women or children, Palestinian lives are expendable.
On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) could be shut down if Ukrainian forces continue shelling the plant.
Ukraine claims that Russia has been behind the shelling on the ZNPP, but the plant and the areas around it have been controlled by Russian forces since March. The ZNPP is located in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and Russian-installed officials in the region have accused Ukraine of frequent attacks on the plant.
Igor Kirillov, a Russian Defense Ministry official, said Thursday that the plant’s backup support systems had been damaged as a result of shelling and said it might have to be shut down. Also on Thursday, Russia rejected a UN proposal to de-militarize the ZNPP, saying it would leave the plant vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks.
Operators of the Zaporozyhe Nuclear Power plant in Ukraine are reporting six to eight explosions very near the plant as of 6:00 AM eastern US Time Friday, August 19, 2022.
Russia again says Ukraine is shelling the plant and a nuclear disaster could be created by that shelling. Russian air defenses are being used against the incoming attacks, as shown in the video below:
Three MiG-31 aircraft armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have been relocated to the Chkalovsk airfield in the Kaliningrad region as part of additional strategic deterrence measures, the Russian Defense Ministry said on August 18.
"Today, August 18, 2022, as part of the implementation of additional strategic deterrence measures, three MiG-31I aircraft carrying Kinzhal hypersonic missiles were relocated to the Chkalovsk airfield in the Kaliningrad region," the ministry said.
"At the Chkalovsk airfield, round-the-clock combat duty of MiG-31 aircraft with the Kinzhal hypersonic aviation system will be organized," the Defense Ministry added.
Kinzhal is Russia's state-of-the-art arms complex with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles. The MiG-31K and MiG-31I fighter-interceptors were chosen as the carrier for the complex.
See more at https://english.pravda.ru/news/russia/153676-kinzhal_mig_31/
A military confrontation between Russia, the United States and NATO is not part of Moscow's interests. Russia, as a nuclear power, will continue to act as responsibly as possible, Ivan Nechaev, Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said, RIA Novosti reports.
"Our armed forces are equipped with modern and high-precision conventional weapons, which allow us to fully implement the goals and tasks set by the President of Russia for purposes of the special operation in Ukraine. Russia, as a nuclear power, will continue to act as responsibly as possible, and a direct confrontation with the United States and NATO is not part of our interests,” he said.