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"People who are willing to lie, cheat, steal, and kill imagine it makes them superior human beings. But is doesn't. It just makes them ordinary humans willing to lie, cheat, steal, and kill." -- Michael Rivero
As NATO looms ever larger as a major actor in global affairs in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the lack of transparency that characterizes its long-range military planning processes poses a serious challenge to democratic oversight.
That observation applies in particular to the regular tri-annual meetings of NATO’s most senior generals, the Chiefs of Defence, or CHODs. The latest of these meetings, in a format known as the NATO Military Committee, took place on May 10 in Brussels. While media coverage was marginally better than usual — see, for example, this Reuters article —concerns remain that member countries’ parliamentarians and publics are being kept in the dark about one of the most opaque but consequential processes within NATO.
At the Vilnius Summit in July, NATO’s political leaders will be asked to approve thousands of pages of secret military plans that will detail for the first time since the Cold War how the alliance would respond to a Russian attack. Most of these plans were drawn up behind closed doors by the permanent Military Representatives at NATO headquarters in Brussels and other NATO and national defense officials, without any prior scrutiny by parliamentary bodies and independent experts.
Russian authorities said Tuesday that eight Ukrainian drones targeted civilian areas of Moscow, marking the largest attack on the capital city since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last year.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the drones only caused “insignificant damage” to residential buildings and that two people were treated for minor injuries but didn’t need to be hospitalized. The Russian Defense Ministry said five of the drones were shot down, and three were downed using electronic warfare capabilities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the drone attack was an attempt by Ukraine to intimate Russian civilians. The attack came as Russia has stepped up its bombardment of Ukraine, and Putin suggested it was a response to a Russia targeting Ukraine’s military intelligence headquarters a few days earlier.
Ukrainian covert attacks have increased inside Russia in recent months. Kyiv does not officially take credit for the operations, but Ukrainian officials strongly hint at their involvement.
NOT LONG AFTER the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration launched what it called the Office of Strategic Influence, which would seek to “counter the enemy’s perception management” in the so-called war on terror. But it quickly became clear that the office, operating under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, would be managing those perceptions with its own disinformation.
As the New York Times reported at the time, its work was to “provide news items, possibly including false ones, to foreign journalists in an effort to influence overseas opinion.” In the nascent Internet age, observers worried the propaganda could boomerang back on Americans.
“The question is whether the Pentagon and military should undertake an official program that uses disinformation to shape perceptions abroad,” the Times reported in 2004. “But in a modern world wired by satellite television and the Internet, any misleading information and falsehoods could easily be repeated by American news outlets.”
Now, two decades later, “perception management” is once again becoming a central focus for the national security state. On March 1, 2022, the Pentagon established a new office with similar goals to the one once deemed too controversial to remain open. Very little has been made public about the effort, which The Intercept learned about through a review of budget documents and an internal memo we obtained. This iteration is called the Influence and Perception Management Office, or IPMO, according to the memo, which was produced by the office for an academic institution, and its responsibilities include overseeing and coordinating the various counter-disinformation efforts being conducted by the military, which can include the U.S.’s own propaganda abroad.
Add the Old Navy store in downtown San Francisco to the ever-expanding list of retail stores closing up shop this year. So far, Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th, Anthropologie, Coco Republic, Whole Foods, T-Mobile, and a slew of other retail shops have shuttered operations in the crime-ridden progressive-run city because officials are failing to enforce law and order, which has led to a massive surge in thefts.
According to NBC Bay Area, Old Navy's parent company Gap Inc. wrote in a statement that its store, located at 801 Market Street, will close its doors on July 1. The company is attempting to find a new location in the downtown district that "will better serve the needs of the business and our customers."
In other words, the company is relocating from the Market Street location because of out-of-control crime. The other retailers we noted above have specifically mentioned crime as the leading driver in shuttering downtown operations
If you’ve been following our reporting on the issue, you’ll already know that the new World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic prevention initiative, the Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET), recommends using “social listening surveillance systems” to identify “misinformation.” But as more people are learning about how unelected bodies are being used to suppress speech and potentially override sovereignty, it’s starting to get more pushback.
According to documents from the UN agency, PRET aims to “guide countries in pandemic planning” and work to “incorporate the latest tools and approaches for shared learning and collective action established during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The PRET document describes misinformation as a “health threat,” and refers to it as an “infodemic.”
“Infodemic is the overabundance of information – accurate or not – which makes it difficult for individuals to adopt behaviors that will protect their health and the health of their families and communities. The infodemic can directly impact health, hamper the implementation of public health countermeasures and undermine trust and social cohesiveness,” the document states.
If I wrote that we’re living in a world that bears an ever-increasing similarity to Communist regimes throughout history, a lot of people would scoff and say that I was being melodramatic. But research compiled by the Media Research Center and shared on social media by The Heritage Foundation shows, through documents acquired via the FOIA, that the Biden administration is using tax dollars to actively target political opponents and dissenters as potential domestic terrorists in a program with the acronym TVTP.
It’s an important read, and the supporting documents that follow the money are all here in this PDF. (I originally came across this information on a very interesting episode of Dan Bongino’s podcast.)
So, by definition, are you an extremist? A budding domestic terrorist? A violent threat?
Some 32 hospitals across the Sudanese capital of Khartoum have been seized and turned into military bases by both the army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries in their ongoing conflict, an international medical organisation said Monday.
Three doctors have also been kidnapped in Khartoum while one has been killed, Medecins du Monde said, without specifying who the perpetrators were.
Attacks on medical sites could amount to potential war crimes, according to legal observers.
The World Health Organisation has called the use of hospitals as military infrastructure "a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law" that "must stop now".
Last week, deadly clashes broke out between Afghan and Iranian guards at their border raising fears of a new conflict.
Both sides have accused each other of initiating the shooting in which at least two Iranian and one Afghan guard were killed. However, they have issued measured statements aimed at de-escalating the situation.
NATO’s newest member Finland on Monday kicked off military air exercises involving over a dozen countries and a total of 150 aircraft, weeks after the country joined the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The exercise has started today. We currently have the first big rotation underway,” Colonel Henrik Elo from the Finnish Air Force, which hosts the exercise, told AFP.
For nearly two weeks, soldiers and fighter jets from 14 nations, 12 of which are NATO members, will take part in exercises, mainly over Sweden’s northern regions.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog landed in Azerbaijan on Tuesday in the latest stage of a very public evolution of ties between the two countries.
Herzog, who is travelling with his wife, met Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku at the Zugulba presidential palace. Israel's Health and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel also accompanied Herzog.
The visit will see a bilateral agreement signed between Israel and Azerbaijan on cooperation in healthcare. Aliyev announced that the sides were also very actively cooperating in the field of cyber security, without providing further details.
In addition to official meetings, Herzog is expected to attend a festive event dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Israel, and will meet with activists of the local Jewish community.
Israel is planning to bring around 10,000 workers from India to fill positions in the construction and nursing industries, in a sign of deepening economic and political cooperation between Tel Aviv and New Delhi.
According to Hebrew news outlets, the workers will arrive in stages, with half destined for the construction sector and the remaining half designated for nursing roles.
At least 5,000 workers are due in the first year. The final labor agreement is still being negotiated between Israeli and Indian officials.
A spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Population and Immigration said they expect the agreements to be approved soon “in a proper and supervised manner.”
A few minutes after the Israeli parliament approved the budget for the next two years, a triumphant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to announce: "It's a great day for the people of Israel."
It is not. It might be a great day for Netanyahu himself; it's certainly a very bad day for most Israelis. The money allocations - 484bn shekels ($130.4bn), in 2023, 514bn shekels in 2024) solidify an ultra-nationalistic, orthodox Israel, forsaking even the appearance of social justice. Unless, of course, you consider food stamps for members of the ultra-orthodox Shas party social justice in 2023.
About 300 top economists, among them former senior Bank of Israel and Treasury officials, warned in a letter that this kind of budget poses an "existential threat to Israel's future".
Leaders of the Palestinian community within Israel on Monday set up a "protest tent" in front of the government buildings in West Jerusalem to press authorities to address an escalating crime wave.
The protest, set to last three days, comes as scores of Palestinians in Israel have been killed in crime-related incidents this year.
The Palestinian community within the 1948 borders that compose the state of Israel are mainly those who were able to remain despite the ethnic cleansing by Zionist forces during the Nakba.
Muhammad Barakeh, a former Knesset member and leader of the Arab follow-up committee in Israel, said a series of actions are planned soon to pressure the government to tackle crime within Palestinian communities, which make up more than 20 per cent of Israel's population.
This week we saw a major tectonic shift in economic world power and Putin and China just scored another devastating blow to the West. More than 30 countries are asking to join the BRICS collation and move away from the U.S. dollar.
There’s hardly a shortage of Russophobia in the political West, whether it’s the previously latent one or the much more blatant hatred demonstrated in recent times. In most countries dominated by the United States this has become the “new normal” since February 24, 2022. However, of all Washington DC’s allies and satellite states/vassals, there’s one that makes even such endemically Russophobic countries like Poland or the Baltic states seem “moderate” – the United Kingdom.
In recent announcements, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that it could completely cut diplomatic ties with the UK over its extremely escalatory actions such as the delivery of ever more advanced and longer-range weapons to the Kiev regime. In a statement for Russia’s RT, published on Friday, the Russian MFA cited London’s significant and ever-growing meddling in Ukraine, as well as other actions aimed against Russia, particularly when it comes to arming and directly assisting the Neo-Nazi junta forces. Although the MFA stated that cutting ties with the UK might be an “extreme measure”, it was left without virtually any other option, so this move is being considered very seriously.
“The severing of diplomatic ties with the UK would be an ‘extreme measure’, but [Russia] could end up taking the step considering London’s significant involvement in the Ukraine conflict,” the Russian MFA warned on Friday.
The human cost of El Salvador’s controversial “war on gangs” has been laid bare in a new report which claims dozens of prisoners were tortured and killed in jail after being caught up in the year-long security crackdown.
The detailed 107-page report from human rights group Cristosal said at least 153 people had died in custody after being arrested as part of President Nayib Bukele’s year-long offensive against the Central American country’s notorious “pandillas”.
The NGO said it had confirmed 29 of those fatalities as violent deaths and another 46 were considered suspicious. In most of those 75 cases, Cristosal said the bodies of the victims showed signs of torture, beatings or strangulation. Other dead inmates also showed signs of injuries but were classified as having died of “undetermined” or “natural” causes meaning the true number of violent deaths could be higher.
Colombia and Venezuela have reached an agreement to search for remains of victims who were killed by paramilitaries during Colombia's internal armed conflict and reportedly buried in Venezuela, Colombia President Gustavo Petro said on Tuesday.
The agreement follows recent confessions before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal by former paramilitary commander Salvatore Mancuso, Petro said.
The JEP was created under a 2016 peace deal with the now demobilized FARC rebel group to try former combatants and members of the military.
"We’re going to do all the work we can with our body identifying experts. Colombia has history in this, experience,” Petro told journalists on the sidelines of a summit of Latin American presidents in Brazil's capital, Brasilia.
"If Mancuso manages to find those areas, if there really re bodies there, the Venezuelan state could help us return the remains to their families," Petro added.
When senior European and American officials descend on this small, industrial Scandinavian city Tuesday, there’s much they will agree on. They’ll agree on pushing back against foreign interference. They’ll agree on more sustainable trade commitments. They’ll agree on new guardrails around artificial intelligence.
But the one thorny issue they still don’t agree on is the most fundamental to the transatlantic relationship: What to do about China.
With the likes of Valdis Dombrovskis, the European trade commissioner, and Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, jetting in to Swedish Arctic Circle for the twice-yearly meeting of the EU-U.S. Trade and Tech Council, Washington and Brussels are still at loggerheads over how aggressively to push back against China’s rise in everything from global trade to semiconductors to the latest global cause célèbre, generative AI.
Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on "the immediate start of upgrading diplomatic relations, exchanging ambassadors," Egypt's presidency said in a statement on Monday.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine committed to respect five principles laid out by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi on Tuesday to try to safeguard Ukraine's Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Grossi, who spoke at the U.N. Security Council, has tried for months to craft an agreement to reduce the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident from military activity like shelling at Europe's biggest nuclear power plant.
His five principles included that there should be no attack on or from the plant and that no heavy weapons such as multiple rocket launchers, artillery systems and munitions, and tanks or military personnel be housed there.
Russia has given passports to almost 1.5 million people living in the annexed parts of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions since last October, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday.
Moscow claimed the four Ukrainian regions as its own last September, seven months after it launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour. It does not fully control any of the regions, and the annexations are not recognised internationally.
"Since last October, almost 1.5 million people from the new regions have received a Russian passport," Mishustin told a government meeting. Russian officials call the four territories "the new regions".
Mishustin said some 1.6 million people in the regions were receiving pensions and about 1.5 million were receiving social benefits.
Ukraine is seeking guarantees from Moscow and the U.N. that a deal on the safe export of Black Sea grain will work normally if Kyiv allows Russian ammonia to transit Ukrainian territory, a Ukrainian official said on Tuesday.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative between Moscow and Kyiv last July to help tackle a global food crisis aggravated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a leading global grain exporter.
Russia agreed to a two-month extension of the deal this month but has said the initiative will cease unless an agreement aimed at overcoming obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports is fulfilled.
In a recent announcement, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed the launch of a webpage designed to address and curtail what it says is the spread of misinformation related to health and medical topics online. This initiative, known as the “Rumor Control” page invites users to report instances of perceived misinformation on the internet, particularly on social media platforms.
The White House is circulating a private message to Democrats: President Joe Biden actually won debt ceiling negotiations by keeping most Republican requests out of the agreement.
White House officials are selling the agreement to Democrats as one in which Biden successfully staved off the "extreme demands" of Republicans and one in which Democrats can continue advancing their policy goals, Politico reported.
In fact, the White House is celebrating that major social safety spending programs — Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare — and Biden's legislative achievements, like the Inflation Reduction Act (which doesn't actually reduce inflation) and the CHIPS act, among others, are "all being preserved and funded."
The phenomenon of SADS – “Sudden Adult Death Syndrome” is a brand new phenomenon since COVID-19 mRNA vaccines rolled out in the general population starting in December 2020.
Perfectly healthy, young COVID-19 vaccinated people go to sleep and never wake up. There is no struggle. They die “peacefully”.
Here are 13 such cases of young people dying in their sleep in 2022:
UK – 40 yo healthcare worker Kelly Gleeson died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism on Dec.29, 2022. She went to take a nap at 6pm due to feeling sick and never woke up.
The European Union is waging war on refugees.
Italy’s far right government recently declared a state of emergency and hermetically sealed its ports. The other EU member states look the other way.
In February the leaders of the 27 EU countries agreed on tougher measures to tackle “illegal migration.” This includes, above all, the mutual recognition of deportation decisions and asylum rejections and the strengthening of border protection, such as new infrastructure, more surveillance capabilities and better equipment for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex.
Meanwhile, the dead bodies of people seeking help are washing up on European shores. Since 2014, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, more than 26,000 people have died or gone missing crossing the Mediterranean.
This is certainly a significant underestimation of the true toll. The research project “Migrant Files,” estimated that from 2000 to 2014 up to 80,000 fleeing their countries died in the sea alone — in addition, there would be at least the same number of victims dying of thirst in deserts, starvation or murder. And then there are those who experience violence or rape — among them children.
The EU’s war against refugees didn’t begin today. It started, at the latest, with the military tragedies in the Balkans in the 1990s. Back then, a lot of people tried to flee to Western European countries.
Under fire from conservatives, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy worked furiously Tuesday to sell fellow Republicans on the debt ceiling and budget deal he negotiated with President Joe Biden and win approval in time to avert a potentially disastrous U.S. default.
Meeting behind closed doors over pizza for more that two hours at the Capitol, McCarthy walked Republicans through the details, fielded questions and encouraged them not to lose sight of the bill’s budget savings, even though they are far less than many conservatives wanted.
“We’re going to pass the bill,” McCarthy said as he exited the session.
The hard-fought measure is now headed to a House vote Wednesday. Quick approval by both the House and Senate would ensure government checks will continue to go out to Social Security recipients, veterans and others, and prevent financial upheaval worldwide by allowing Treasury to keep paying U.S. debts.
Long before House or Senate Republicans ever dared to push back on the FBI or any other federal institution, it had been no secret that the majority of a bi-partisan Congress had a habit of disappearing, of being unwilling or intimidated to directly challenge willful institutional insubordination; whether on the part of Federal agencies or its personnel in what some might identify today as a form of sedition.
Fast forward to the recently released 316 page Durham Report which has articulated details of the FBI’s open and continued defiance of Congress and the Constitution as the recent House interim report on the Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of Federal Government has confirmed a similar lack of respect for the Rule of Law. The timing of both Durham and the House hearing could only have been a divinely-inspired coincidence as both share a duplicative message meant to resonate with the American people: that the Federal government’s justice system is near-total collapse.
Despite no realistic expectation that Durham would produce a stunning final verdict and uncertainty as to the depth of FBI ‘rot,’ the fact that the FBI interfered in the 2016 election necessitates the removal of Director Wray as well as at least four levels down from their positions of authority ASAP. The Agency may, in fact, be beyond repair with little worth saving except some of the furniture; even as the Democrats propose a new $500 million FBI building larger than the Pentagon.
With a deliberate dearth of media coverage, the American public and its Congress may still be in the throes of grasping the full extent of the depth of US corruption that has publicly surfaced since 2020 with an unexpected ferocity. That corruption has revealed itself to be far more intense, more deeply woven into our national character than previously expected.
Las Vegas has looked more like a city in a failed state than a tourism hotspot over the past several days.
Sin City is a place that welcomes around 40 million people annually. It’s a location where you can drink some beer, play blackjack and cut loose with your friends.
It’s supposed to be a place of enjoyment, and as a Vegas fanatic, I can’t get enough of it. I go at least once a year.
However, Vegas looked like a hellhole over the Memorial Day weekend. Several videos shared online show people beating the living tar out of each other on Fremont Street and other locations.
You can check out the fight videos below, but consider yourself warned they can be a bit rough at times.