The Netanyahu government has just pulled off a major diplomatic victory, reaching a longtime goal toward upgrading US-Israel relations.
US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has agreed to Israel's entry into the US Visa Waiver Program, which means that for the first time Israeli citizens will be able to travel to the United States visa-free. It will take effect Nov. 30, according to US officials.
"The designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program is an important recognition of our shared security interests and the close cooperation between our two countries," Mayorkas said in Wednesday statement confirming Israel's upgraded status.
And Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed the designation as "a critical step forward" in the US strategic partnership with Israel "that will further strengthen long-standing people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation, and security coordination between our two countries" - as quoted in Axios.
"This important achievement will enhance freedom of movement for U.S. citizens, including those living in the Palestinian Territories or traveling to and from them," he added, in reference to reciprocity. Israel will now allow US passport holders visa-free travel in return, including theoretically Palestinian-Americans.
Webmaster addition: That will make life so much easier for Mossad agents!
Authoritarian control freaks out to micromanage our lives have become the new normal or, to be more accurate, the new abnormal when it comes to how the government relates to the citizenry.
This overbearing despotism, which pre-dates the COVID-19 hysteria, is the very definition of a Nanny State, where government representatives (those elected and appointed to work for us) adopt the authoritarian notion that the government knows best and therefore must control, regulate and dictate almost everything about the citizenry’s public, private and professional lives.
Indeed, it’s a dangerous time for anyone who still clings to the idea that freedom means the right to think for yourself and act responsibly according to your best judgment.
This tug-of-war for control and sovereignty over our selves impacts almost every aspect of our lives, whether you’re talking about decisions relating to our health, our homes, how we raise our children, what we consume, what we drive, what we wear, how we spend our money, how we protect ourselves and our loved ones, and even who we associate with and what we think.
Why is the U.S. refusing to call a halt to the Ukraine madness? Why can’t an era of “Peaceful Coexistence” in Europe and the world be declared or at least sought? How about détente with Russia? With Russia and China? What is wrong with that?
We’ll start peeling the onion by looking at the U.S. military-industrial complex.
Of course, President Eisenhower warned us against the MIC over 60 years ago in his “Farewell Address” of January 20, 1961. Among other remarks he said:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
Today about 2.1 million people are employed by the defense industry. According to Acara Solutions, a major MIC recruiting firm, their average annual salary is $106,700, 40 percent higher than the national average. The companies they work for produced revenues in 2022 of $741 billion. How much of their production is high-priced junk, no one knows. The performance of U.S.-produced armaments in the Ukraine conflict does not seem impressive. No modern U.S. weapons have ever been tested in an industrial-type war against an equal adversary.
Following Tuesday night's bombshell report from Congressional investigators that Dr. Anthony Fauci was smuggled into CIA headquarters "without a record of entry" where he "participated in the analysis to "influence" the Agency's" Covid-19 investigation," it's worth revisiting claims made by former EcoHealth Alliance scientist, Andrew Huff,about the CIA's alleged connections to EcoHealth and Covid-19.
A Brief Review
Recall that EcoHealth received lucrative contracts to perform experiments on bat Covid in Wuhan, China after the Obama administration banned gain-of-function research in 2014. Four months prior to the ban, the NIH effectively shifted this research to EcoHealth, headed by Peter Daszak. The research was shielded from government oversight by Fauci's NIAID, and Daszak was forced to report after the fact that he'd engaged in gain-of-function experiments.
"As a virologist, I personally think creating chimeras of SARS-related bat coronaviruses that are thought to pose high risk to humans entails unacceptable risks," virologist Jesse Bloom told The Intercept.
After Sars-CoV-2 broke out in the same town where Daszak was manipulating Bat Covid, The Lancet published a screed by Daszak (signed by over two-dozen scientists), which insisted the virus could have only come from a natural spillover event, likely from a wet market, and that the scientists "stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin." The Lancet only later noted Daszak's conflicts of interest.
The wires were from Wang Xin and Jonathan Li, the latter of whom ran a Chinese private equity fund (BHR) which Hunter was listed as being on the board of directors. Hunter also arranged for a meeting between Li and Joe Biden while Joe was VP, while Joe allegedly gave Li's son a letter of recommendation.
One document confirmed rumors that at one point the FBI and IRS investigated Hunter Biden for possible violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), a federal law requiring disclosure of any lobbying activities on behalf of foreign powers. "Please focus on FARA evidence only," Delaware Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf emailed agents in August 2020 concerning a possible search warrant application.
Following President Biden's unprecedented visit to the picket lines of United Auto Workers in Michigan on Tuesday afternoon, by night, tens of thousands of members of the Culinary and Bartenders Unions in Las Vegas voted by 95% to authorize a strike against some of Sin City's largest casinos and resorts.
"Now, Culinary and Bartenders Unions negotiating committee is authorized to call for a strike at 22 casino resorts properties on the Las Vegas Strip between the largest employers MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, and Wynn/Encore Resorts. The Culinary Union, which is now authorized to call for a strike at any date or time, has not yet set a strike deadline and continues negotiating in good faith with all gaming companies," Culinary Workers Union Local 226 wrote in a press release.
Speaking at a convention in April, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain identified what he considered the union’s “one and only true enemy – multibillion-dollar corporations and employers that refuse to give our members their fair share.” He may be attacking the wrong enemy.
The UAW is now engaged in a strike of historic proportions against America’s big three auto manufacturers: GM, Ford, and Stellantis (owner of Chrysler). But it’s the Democratic Party’s climate activists who pose the most significant threat to American auto workers today – the forced transformation of the U.S. auto industry from gas to electric-powered vehicles (EVs).
As for the strike, the UAW’s demands include a stunning 40% pay raise over the next four years. According to CEO Jim Farley, that increase would put Ford “out of business.” Yet, in a response that hardly seems miserly, Ford has offered a 20% increase over the life of the contract and an immediate 10% increase.
For a starting point in negotiations, it’s strong evidence of good faith, if not generous. GM and Stellantis will likely make offers in that range. But the final number won’t mean much to the union workers whose jobs disappear.
On March 6, 2020, the mayor of Austin, Texas, canceled the biggest tech and arts trade show in the world, South-by-Southwest, only a week before hundreds of thousands were to gather in the city.
In an instant, with the stroke of a pen, it was all gone: hotel reservations, flight plans, performances, exhibitors, and all the hopes and dreams of thousands of merchants in the town. Economic impact: a loss $335 million in revenue at least. And that was just to the city alone, to say nothing of the broader impact.
It was the beginning of U.S. lockdowns. It wasn’t entirely clear at the time—my own sense was that this was a calamity that would lead to decades of successful lawsuits against the Austin mayor—but it turned out that Austin was the test case and template for the entire nation and then the world.
The reason was of course COVID but the pathogen wasn’t even there. The idea was to keep it out of the city, an incredible and sudden fallback to a medieval practice that has nothing to do with modern public health understanding of how a respiratory virus should be handled.
“In six months,” I wrote at the time, “if we are in a recession, unemployment is up, financial markets are wrecked, and people are locked in their homes, we’ll wonder why the heck governments chose disease ‘containment’ over disease mitigation. Then the conspiracy theorists get to work.”
Elon Musk on Tuesday revealed that he took multiple COVID-19 vaccines so that he could travel during the period of intense pandemic restrictions and that after taking his third shot, he nearly ended up hospitalized.
Mr. Musk made the remarks in a post on X that was part of a thread he started as a response to a warning by European Union (EU) officials that X has fallen squarely into the bloc's censorship crosshairs for being found to be the top purveyor of so-called misinformation and disinformation.
"Have you heard dis information?" Mr. Musk captioned his original post, in a play on words that accompanied a video compilation of COVID-19 vaccine news headlines that began with bold initial claims early in the pandemic that the vaccines are "100 percent effective" before steadily dropping lower and lower.
This type of exploit can have severe consequences, from crashes to arbitrary code execution and unauthorized access to sensitive information.
The reclassification of CVE-2023-5129 as a libwebp vulnerability holds particular importance due to it initially going unnoticed as a potential security threat for numerous projects using libwebp, including 1Password, Signal, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and the native Android web browsers.
Hackers are utilizing a new trick of using zero-point fonts in emails to make malicious emails appear as safely scanned by security tools in Microsoft Outlook.
Although the ZeroFont phishing technique has been used in the past, this is the first time it has been documented as used in this way.
In a new report by ISC Sans analyst Jan Kopriva, the researcher warns that this trick could make a massive difference in the effectiveness of phishing operations, and users should be aware of its existence and use in the wild.
Just a month after the September 11 attacks, the CIA leadership gathered its army of lawyers and black ops people and came up with a plan to legalize torture. This was despite the fact that torture has long been patently illegal in the United States. But it didn’t matter. There was no thought to the long term. There was no worry about what would happen if prisoners were tortured and then actually did have to go on trial. Nothing they said would be admissible. But nobody cared.
On August 2, 2002, CIA officers and contractors began torturing Abu Zubaydah at a secret prison. That torture was well-documented in the Senate Torture Report, or rather, in the heavily-redacted Executive Summary of the Senate Torture Report. The report itself will likely never be released. But even in its redacted version, and with comprehensive footnotes, it paints a horrifying picture of what the CIA did to its prisoners. That torture, that policy, has come back to haunt the CIA.
Military trials have always moved at a glacial pace at the U.S. base at Guantanamo, Cuba, where the United States has kept a total of roughly 780 prisoners from the so-called “War on Terror” since early 2002. That number is down to a few dozen of what the government calls the “worst of the worst.” Only a small handful are cleared for eventual release, pending the identification of a country willing to take them. The rest will likely never be released.
The problem with charging a defendant at Guantanamo has proven to be several-fold. First, much of the evidence that the Pentagon wants to use against the likes of alleged September 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, accused al-Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaydah, accused September 11 facilitator Ramzi bin al-Shibh and others was collected by CIA officers and contractors through the use of torture. That in and of itself essentially doomed the cases from the start.
The House on Wednesday night voted down an amendment to the Pentagon appropriations bill introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) that would have banned the transfer of civilian-killing cluster bombs to other countries.
The amendment failed in a vote of 160-269, with only 85 Republicans and 75 Democrats supporting the measure.
Cluster bombs spread small submunitions, known as bomblets, over a large area. They are so hazardous to civilians because many of the submunitions do not explode on impact and can be found years or decades later, often by children. Due to their indiscriminate nature, cluster bombs are banned by over 100 countries.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Wednesday that the purpose of recent large-scale Chinese military drills around Taiwan is to “combat the arrogance” of Taiwan “separatists,” referring to recent actions by Taipei to boost ties with the US and other Western countries.
“The purpose is to resolutely combat the arrogance of Taiwan independence separatist forces and their actions to seek independence,” said Taiwan Affairs spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian.
Zhu’s comments came after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen hosted a delegation of six Australian members of parliament. Tsai was seeking Australian support for Taiwanese membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation trade agreement.
The North Korean Ambassador to the UN warned that tensions with the US have escalated so far that there is a realistic potential for a nuclear conflict. The head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, expressed concern that nuclear tension between several states risks a catastrophe of “epic proportions.”
Kim Song, Pyongyang’s representative at the UN, delivered an address to the General Assembly on Tuesday. “Owing to the reckless and continued hysteria of nuclear showdown on the part of the US and its following forces, the year 2023 has been recorded as an extremely dangerous year that the military security situation in and around the Korean peninsula was driven closer to the brink of a nuclear war,” he said. “Due to [Seoul’s] sycophantic and humiliating policy of depending on outside forces, the Korean peninsula is in a hair-trigger situation with imminent danger of nuclear war.”
Kim blamed Washington for attempting to create an “Asian NATO” that will bring a “new Cold War structure to northeast Asia.”
A US official spoke with a Druze spiritual leader to express support for protests against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that have been taking place in Syria’s southern Suwayda governate.
The US Embassy in Syria wrote on X that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ethan Goldrich “spoke with Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Hekmat al-Hajari reiterating our support for Syrians’ freedom of expression, including peaceful protest in Suwayda.”
According to The Cradle, the protests in Suwayda, a Druze-majority area, broke out on August 16 after the Syrian government raised civil servant salaries but cut fuel subsidies amid a collapse in the value of the Syrian pound. The demonstrations have continued since then with calls for the overthrow of Assad.
In his speech at the UN General Assembly last week, Netanyahu said, “Above all — above all — Iran must face a credible nuclear threat. As long as I’m prime minister of Israel, I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu’s office later said he misspoke, insisting the prepared speech said “credible military threat” instead of “credible nuclear threat.” Iran still issued a complaint, noting that Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons that it does not acknowledge.
Birds dip between low branches that hang over glittering brooks along the drive from Jalalabad heading south toward the Achin district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. Then, the landscape changes, as lush fields give way to barren land.
Up ahead, Achin is located among a rise of rocky mountains that line the border with Pakistan, a region pounded by American bombs since the beginning of the war.
Laborers line the roadside, dusted with the white talc they have carried down from the mountains. A gritty wind stings their chapped cheeks as they load the heavy trucks beside them. In these parts of Achin, nothing else moves in the bleached landscape. For years, locals say this harsh terrain has been haunted by a deadly, hidden hazard: chemical contamination.
In April 2017, the U.S. military dropped the most powerful conventional bomb ever used in combat here: the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, known unofficially as the “mother of all bombs,” or MOAB.
Before the airstrike, Qudrat Wali and other residents of Asad Khel followed as Afghan soldiers and U.S. special forces were evacuated from the area. Eight months after the massive explosion, they were finally allowed to return to their homes. Soon after, Wali says, many of the residents began to notice strange ailments and skin rashes.
The Biden administration is currently considering going where no other president has gone before: offering a formal security guarantee to Saudi Arabia and helping the kingdom develop a civilian nuclear program in return for Riyadh normalizing relations with Israel.
President Biden and his team argue that the United States has a national security interest in brokering such a deal, even if that means massive and unprecedented concessions to Riyadh.
Biden and his team are wrong. Entering into a mutual security agreement with Saudi Arabia would represent a catastrophic miscalculation. A security guarantee for Saudi Arabia would entrap Washington as Riyadh’s protector despite a fundamental disconnect between the interests and values of the United States and the kingdom.
Experts from the G7 and Belgium will discuss potential sanctions on Russian-mined diamonds this week on a visit to the Indian cities of Mumbai and Surat.
The trip is the latest step forward in months of negotiations among Western powers over how to impose sanctions that could transform a sprawling – and often controversial – global industry.
Around one-third of the world’s supply of diamonds are mined in the Siberian region of Yakutia by Russian state-owned company Alrosa. The diamond industry overall contributes around $4.5 billion to the Russian economy annually, making it one of the largest sectors in Russia to avoid the sweeping sanctions imposed by Western powers since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
But this is not for lack of trying. Individual countries such as the US and UK have introduced their own sanctions on the luxury stones even while discussions over diamond sanctions among the EU stalled due to pushback from member state Belgium.
International mediators have stepped up efforts to prevent a new round of armed confrontation between Israel and the Islamist Hamas group, which runs Gaza, amid an escalation in violent protests along the border fence.
"The United Nations is talking to and working with all concerned to improve the lives of people in Gaza, particularly the most vulnerable," U.N. Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said on social media platform X on Wednesday, a day after he met Hamas officials in Gaza.
"The situation inside the Strip is dire and we must avoid another conflict that will have grave consequences for all. The people of Gaza have suffered enough and deserve more than a return to calm."
A regional diplomat said Egypt, which brokered numerous truces between Israel and Gaza militants in the past, had also stepped up its efforts to prevent a slide into another war.
UK regulators approved on Wednesday the development plan for the Rosebank oil and gas project in the North Sea, paving the way for operator Equinor to proceed with a $3.8-billion investment in the field, which has stirred controversy in Britain amid debates about the need for new oil and gas projects.
The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) on Wednesday granted development and production consent for the Rosebank field northwest of Shetland, the largest discovered untapped resource on the UK Continental Shelf.
“We have today approved the Rosebank Field Development Plan which allows the owners to proceed with their project,” a spokesperson for NSTA said in a statement.
“The FDP is awarded in accordance with our published guidance and taking net zero considerations into account throughout the project’s lifecycle.”
White House spokesperson Ian Sams called the new allegations "bananas."
Responding to a journalist who called the allegations a "fake, would-be gotcha" because, allegedly, Hunter was living at Biden's Delaware home in 2019, Sams responded, "Imagine them arguing that, if someone stayed at their parents' house during the pandemic, listed it as their permanent address for work, and got a paycheck, the parents somehow also worked for the employer.
"It's bananas," he declared. "Yet this is what extreme House Republicans have sunken to."
But there's a significant problem with Sams' response.
The now-defunct plea deal that Hunter struck with federal prosecutors included a statement of facts that Hunter agreed is true when he entered into the deal. In that statement of facts, Hunter agreed that he was living on the other side of the country — in California, not Delaware — in 2019.
Apple on Thursday released urgent security updates for iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watch, and Safari users to patch against three vulnerabilities that Apple says are being actively exploited.
The three vulnerabilities include a flaw in WebKit, the browser engine that powers Safari; a certificate validation bug that can allow a malicious app to run on an affected device; and a third bug that can be used to get broader access to the kernel, the core of the operating system. These three vulnerabilities form part of an exploit chain, where the bugs are used together to gain access to a target’s device.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been transferred to a jail near capital Islamabad after a court extended his custody by two more weeks in a state secrets case related to his 2022 removal.
Khan, 70, was moved to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi city on Tuesday night after having spent more than three weeks in Attock Jail some 100km (62 miles) away where he was sent following his conviction in a corruption case last month.
Ahmed Eltantawy is a former Egyptian Member of Parliament who previously served as the chairman of Egypt’s al-Karama political party. In March 2023 he announced his intention to run in the upcoming Egyptian presidential election, stating that he planned to offer a “democratic” alternative to the current president. Following this announcement Eltantawy, his family members, and supporters have been subjected to harassment, including reported arrests of 12 family members.
Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been in power since 2014, when he led the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi. Sisi has been widely described as an autocrat. Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have documented widespread human rights abuses under el-Sisi’s regime, including repression against civil society groups, activists, and political opposition.
Eltantawy became suspicious about the safety of his phone and reached out to the Citizen Lab. We performed a forensic analysis on his device. Our forensic analysis showed numerous attempts to target Eltantawy with Cytrox’s Predator spyware.
The Citizen Lab has previously documented Cytrox Predator infections targeting the devices of two exiled Egyptians: exiled politician Ayman Nour and the host of a popular news program (who chose to remain anonymous).