COMING UP SHORT THIS MONTH.
Thought for the day
"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." -- James Madison
The Kremlin said on Friday that attacks against any part of the swathe of Ukraine that president Vladimir Putin was about to annex would be considered aggression against Russia itself, adding that Russia would fight to take the whole of the Donbas region.
Russian resident Vladimir Putin is due to proclaim the annexation of more than 15 per cent of Ukraine on Friday, escalating his seven-month war and taking it into an unpredictable new phase.
Moscow is declaring Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, largely or partly occupied by Russian or Russian-backed forces, to be part of Russia.
A federal judge on Thursday eased several demands a special master had imposed on former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers in conducting a review of documents the F.B.I. seized from his residence last month, overruling an arbiter she had appointed herself.
In a six-page order, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida set aside requirements the special master, Judge Raymond J. Dearie, put in place in recent days that would have tested excuses Mr. Trump has made in connection with the trove of documents taken from his estate, Mar-a-Lago.
Judge Cannon also rejected a swift timetable Judge Dearie had set to resolve the review of the documents, slowing the matter down.
Comedian and talk show host Trevor Noah is leaving The Daily Show after seven years at the helm during which the late-night infotainment show's viewership declined dramatically.
Noah, 38, who hails from South Africa, took over the show from former host Jon Stewart in 2015.
He revealed the news to a stunned live audience during yesterday's taping of the show, which runs from Monday-Thursday on Comedy Central.
Webmaster addition: Get woke, go broke!
New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul announced Thursday there will be “no more excuses” not to buy an electric vehicle after directing the State Department of Environmental Conservation to take significant action to accelerate the state’s transition to clean transportation to protect the environment.
In White Plains, New York, Governor Hochul outlined the state’s new ambitious clean energy and climate goals. The most important takeaway is all new vehicles sold in the state of New York will now need to be zero-emission by 2035, the same requirement that was set in California by the state’s new Advanced Clean Cars II regulation.
California Air Resources Board (CARB) predicts California’s new regulation will cut emissions by 50% between 2026 and 2040. Since it passed, 18 other states have followed in California’s footsteps, adopting California’s Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) and Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandates, with New York being the most recent.
On September 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that, given mounting economic sanctions, full “de-dollarization” of the Russian economy is only a matter of time (RBC, September 12). Putin`s remark was preceded by a statement from Russian Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev, who argued that “Russia no longer needs the US dollar as a reserve currency.” Instead, Russia must accumulate funds in currencies of so-called “friendly countries,” such as the Chinese yuan, which is playing a key role in this regard (RBC, September 8).
The idea of departing from the US dollar as a reserve currency is by no means new to Russia: It was first entertained in the 1990s. By 2018, Moscow had devised a “plan on the de-dollarization” of its economy. Prior to the outbreak of Russia`s war against Ukraine on February 24, Dmitry Medvedev stated that, if the Kremlin`s operations with US dollars were to be restricted, Moscow could fully switch to the yuan and euro instead (Vedomosti.ru, January 27). However, following Russia`s attack on Ukraine, the United States, the European Union, and other large economies have effectively barred Moscow from using their national currencies. As a result, aside from the Turkish lira, the United Arab Emirates` dirham and the Indian rupee—each of which cannot be fully relied on due to a number of factors—Russia has been reduced to the use of the yuan as an alternative reserve currency to the US dollar and euro.
The Senate on Thursday approved a stopgap funding bill needed to avert a government shutdown that includes up to $16 billion in new aid for Ukraine.
The legislation passed the Senate in a vote of 72-25 and is expected to be passed quickly by the House so it can reach President Biden’s desk by Friday night.
One provision in the bill is for a $12.3 billion aid package for Ukraine. It includes $4.5 billion in direct budgetary aid for the Ukrainian government, $2.8 billion for the Pentagon to pay for troops deployments in Eastern Europe, $1.5 billion to replenish US stockpiles sent to Ukraine, and $3 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). The USAI allows the US government to purchase weapons for Ukraine.
Webmaster addition: "Those people in Florida will just have to deal with the hurricane damage on their own!" -- Official White Horse Souse
The US is planning to establish a new command base in Germany that will focus entirely on supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
Establishing the command would be part of the Western effort to support Ukraine in the long term, as there are no signs that the war will be ending anytime soon. The command would oversee the arming and training of Ukrainian forces.
US officials told the Times that Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, the top US military officer in Europe, recently submitted a proposal to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on establishing the command. Austin is reviewing the plan and is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks, and the idea is said to be favored by the White House and the Pentagon.
The US and its European allies have begun depleting their arms stockpiles by transferring myriad weapons systems to Kiev. The civilian head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said he is working with the arms industry to increase production.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, members of NATO have sent tens of billions in arms to Ukraine. On Wednesday, the White House announced a new $1.1 billion arms transfer to Kiev. Washington has led all donors by a significant margin, giving over $65 billion to Ukraine in just over seven months.
Most weapons President Joe Biden has sent to Ukraine have come under the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to give away American weapons without Congressional approval. The legislature has approved billions for the PDA in a $40 billion Ukraine aid bill that was passed in May.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Moscow was exploring the idea of holding in-person talks with the US on New START, the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two powers.
“At the moment, we are exploring possibilities for holding a face-to-face session,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
Zakharova said that there is an “ongoing dialogue” between the US and Russia concerning the resumption of inspections under the New START treaty, which have been suspended since 2020 due to COVID-19. “There is an ongoing dialogue through the appropriate channels on how the parties could return to full implementation of the treaty in this part,” she said.
Mercifully, the January 6th committee hearings in congress were canceled yesterday, presumably because Hurricane Ian’s landfall would have botched ratings. With midterms approaching, Democrats have a lot riding on January 6th and are growing impatient. New York congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who runs the party’s campaign arm, even grumbled about a lack of indictments.
“I think it’s going to be very hard for people to understand if there aren’t actions by the Justice Department to hold people accountable,” he said.
As with Ukrainegate and impeachment, and Russiagate before that, polls show January 6th remains low on the list of voter concerns (the cratering economy is first). However, the reason it “may be hard for people to understand,” as Maloney says, is that congress has spent too much time blurring lines between election denial and conspiracy to overturn the result. If they just focused on the latter — and they have produced evidence, like Trump asking Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to seize voting machines — the hearings might be more effective, even with Republicans.
But they haven’t been, for a reason made obvious by Matt Orfalea’s damning video — which YouTube incredibly has already demonetized — above. Amid sweeping efforts to punish election denial in the Trump context, both criminally and with censorship, an almost exactly similar denial campaign that inspired four-plus years of blue politics has been dropped down a memory hole.
Led by the losing candidate in 2016, Democratic Party politicians along with law enforcement and intelligence officials and media spent years denying the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, based on an equally specious/dishonest formulation: “The election was hacked.” Moreover, they instigated removal efforts based on the same declare-guilt-now, prove-it-later mentality that gripped figures like Trump and Rudy Giuliani in 2020. How different really is “Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me” from “We just have to dig deeper, do the investigation and find it”?
A federal appeals court in Manhattan handed former President Donald Trump a procedural victory Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit, after famed columnist E. Jean Carroll claimed that Trump had raped her in the 1990s.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally to support Republican candidates running for state and federal offices in the state at the Covelli Centre, in Youngstown, Ohio, on Sept. 17, 2022. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
In a two-to-one decision on Sept. 27, the panel on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court erred when it ruled that Carroll could sue Trump for defamatory statements during his presidency, given that a federal law, known as the Westfall Act, shields government employees from liability in work-related incidents.
Carroll, 78, sued Trump in 2019, claiming the Republican sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s in a dressing room at a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan. Because the alleged attack happened decades ago, Carroll was originally barred from suing over sexual battery, pushing her to sue for defamation over allegedly disparaging comments Trump made about the rape allegation.
Trump denied her allegation at the time and accused her of using false claims as a way to promote her book. “I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened,” the-then president told The Hill in an interview at the White House in June 2019.
An election-integrity group is filing a new legal complaint each day this week regarding a different Minnesota county for officials’ failure to remove duplicate voter registrations from county voter rolls.
“Federal law requires that duplicate registrations are eliminated from the voter roll,” said J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF). Adams is a former civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It is troubling that we are seeing duplicate registrants remain on the voter roll in Minnesota counties. Each duplicate registration allows for a person to vote more than once. Removing these duplicate registrations will make Minnesota’s elections more secure.”
PILF describes itself as “the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly to election integrity.” The nonprofit organization “exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity, and fight against lawlessness in American elections.”
Under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), states are required to implement a computerized statewide voter registration list that is accurate and eliminates duplicate registrations.
PILF is now using state implementation provisions in HAVA that have “pretty much never been used for 20 years,” Adams told The Epoch Times in an interview.
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers are seeking another delay in allowing lawyers for former President Donald Trump to peruse documents seized in August from Trump’s Florida estate.
The DOJ was supposed to provide electronic copies of the documents to Trump attorneys and U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master in the case, no later than Sept. 26. But the government sought and received a delay of four days for the production.
DOJ lawyers said that the delay was warranted because of issues contracting a vendor to scan and store the materials.
Those issues have not been resolved, DOJ lawyers said in a new filing entered late Sept. 27.
None of the five vendors proposed by the government “were willing to be engaged by Plaintiff,” the lawyers said, citing attorneys for Trump.
The sabotage of the Nord Stream (NS) and Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipelines in the Baltic Sea has ominously propelled ‘Disaster Capitalism’ to a whole new, toxic level.
This episode of Hybrid Industrial/Commercial War, in the form of a terror attack against energy infrastructure in international waters signals the absolute collapse of international law, drowned by a “our way or the highway”, “rules-based”, order.
The attack on both pipelines consisted of multiple explosive charges detonated in separate branches close to the Danish island of Bornholm, but in international waters.
That was a sophisticated operation, carried out in stealth in the shallow depth of the Danish straits. That would in principle rule out submarines (ships entering the Baltic are limited to a draught of 15 meters). As for prospective “invisible” vessels, these could only loiter around with permission from Copenhagen – as the waters around Borholm are crammed with sensors, reflecting fear of incursion by Russian submarines.
Swedish seismologists registered two underwater explosions on Monday – one of them estimated at 100 kg of TNT. Yet as much as 700 kg may have been used to blow up three separate pipeline nodes. Such amount could not have possibly been delivered in just one trip by underwater drones currently available in neighboring nations.
The pressure on the pipelines dropped exponentially. The pipes are now filled with seawater.
The United States has carried out multiple surveillance flights this week around Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave located on the Baltic Sea coast. The American spy planes are likely assessing Moscow’s nuclear weapons activity as the two sides step up threats and warnings over the ongoing war in Ukraine.
During the past week, at least three Boeing RC-135s have circled Kaliningrad – a small piece of land sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland – according to data collected by flight tracking site RadarBox.
The territory has become a potential flashpoint in recent months, as members of the US-led military bloc have threatened to cut it off from mainland Russia, with which it shares no border.
Earlier this year, NATO announced that it would welcome Finland and Sweden into the alliance. Moscow warned it could increase its military presence in the region as a response to any future strategic weapons deployments within the territory of new members.
Banks in Turkey will no longer accept the Russian Mir payment system, as reported by the Turkish NTV broadcaster on Wednesday, 28 September.
According to a person speaking on behalf of the Russian Kremlin, this decision is due to weeks of “unprecedented pressure” exercised by the United States.
“It’s clear that banks and economic operators are under the strongest possible pressure from the United States, and they are threatened with secondary sanctions on the banking system,” the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov criticized Washington for its measures.
Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi, TC Ziraat Bankasi, and Turkiye Halk Bankasi were the last three banks to receive the Russian Mir bank cards. The report says that the three banks will still process the ongoing payments but will pull out of the system.
Hungary cannot support the European Union's planned eighth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine if those contain energy sanctions, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday.
The EU executive proposed on Wednesday fresh sanctions against Russia, including tighter trade restrictions, more individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.
The proposed sanctions fall short of harder-hitting measures, including a ban on importing Russian diamonds, sought by Russia hawks Poland and the three Baltic countries.
But EU states need unanimity to impose sanctions and Orban has been a vocal critic, saying on Monday that the EU sanctions have "backfired", driving up energy prices and dealing a blow to European economies.
Webmaster addition: "Too late! Now Russia can't send you any energy, nyah, nyah, nyah!!" -- Official White Horse Souse
Rockets have landed in Baghdad’s Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign missions, for the second day in a row, breaking weeks of calm.
No one has claimed responsibility for the four missiles fired from the east of the capital on Thursday morning, and there were no reported casualties, local police officers said.
The resignations of the 73 MPs of the Sadrist bloc were illegal and it was not within the Iraqi parliament speaker’s authority to authorise them, the parliament's legal advisor has ruled.
According to a letter sent to parliament by legal advisor Muhammad al-Ghazi, and seen by Middle East Eye, the MPs’ resignations did not follow the necessary processes, therefore the Sadrists are still MPs.
Parliament needs to conduct technical and legal discussions and put the resignations to a vote, Ghazi says, “because of its impact on the real representation of the House of Representatives”.
Two Sadrist leaders welcomed the news and told MEE that the movement’s return to parliament has become a necessity and inevitable reality, insisting there was no alternative to ending Iraq’s political crisis than this.
The undersea blasts on Monday, which blew up Nord Stream pipelines from Russia to Germany, were caused by “highly effective explosive devices” and could only have been carried out by “state actors,” German news weekly Der Spiegel reported Thursday, citing sources within the German government and security services.
The blasts that raptured the Baltic Sea pipelines off the coast of Denmark were “comparable to that of 500 kilograms of TNT,” Der Spiegel added.
The damage was apparently caused by military-grade explosives, initial evidence suggests. “One of the explosions measured 2.3 on the Richter scale, which Danish experts described as in line with a powerful bomb from the second world war,” The Guardian newspaper reported.
The US on Thursday announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports in the latest sign that a revival of the Iran nuclear deal is unlikely.
The State Department announced sanctions on two Chinese-based firms accused of trading Iranian oil, while the Treasury Department designated several entities based in Hong Kong, Iran, India, and the UAE.
The Treasury Department said that the targeted entities were “involved in the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products to end users in South and East Asia.”
Iran has found some relief from US sanctions by stepping up oil sales to East Asia, and Washington has been looking to impede those deals. The sanctions are an example of how the Biden administration has escalated the so-called “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran that was started under President Trump.
That war, hidden behind the U.S. created Ukraine crisis, is designed to destroy Europe’s manufacturing advantage compared to the U.S. It is more likely though to strengthen the economic position of China and other Asian economies.
I have argued that Germany must open the Nord Stream II pipeline which can bring Russian natural gas to Germany without crossing other countries’ territory. It must also allow Siemens to repair the defect Nord Stream I compressors. It is in fact inevitable if German’s industry is to survive.
Others have come to similar conclusion and decided to sabotage the pipelines to make their re-opening impossible:
Three offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system have sustained "unprecedented" damage in one day, Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday in what one German official has suggested is a "targeted attack”. Nord Stream 2 suffered a gas leak which was then followed by a drop of pressure on Nord Stream 1.
The company also said that it was impossible to estimate when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.
The simultaneous sub sea damage to three pipelines is obviously not an accident.
A German economy official told Tagesspiegel: "We can’t imagine a scenario that isn’t a targeted attack."
They added: "Everything speaks against a coincidence."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has increased its investment in digital ID projects through part of a $1.27 billion package to support “global health and development projects.” Part of the funding, $200 million, will go to digital public infrastructure, including civil registry databases and digital ID.
The announcement followed the annual “Goalkeepers Report,” an annual assessment report on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SGD). The UN set a goal (goal 16.9) for a global legal identity by 2030, and the report said that the world will not make that deadline. A podcast is available on the plans here.
To achieve that goal, digital identity programs are supposedly needed.
The 2019 Goalkeepers Report touted biometrics as one of the technologies needed for the equitable redistribution of resources in developing nations.
The $200 million will also support data sharing systems and interoperable payments systems.
The CIA used hundreds of websites for covert communications that were severely flawed and could have been identified by even an “amateur sleuth”, according to security researchers.
The flaws reportedly led to the death of more than two dozen US sources in China in 2011 and 2012 and also reportedly led Iran to execute or imprison other CIA assets.
The new research was conducted by security experts at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which started investigating the matter after it received a tip from reporter Joel Schectmann at Reuters.
The group said it was not publishing a full detailed technical report of its findings to avoid putting CIA assets or employees at risk. But its limited findings raise serious doubts about the intelligence agency’s handling of safety measures.
The Senate is considering increasing the Pentagon’s budget to $850 billion. Think tanks are key advisers to the Senate on such increases — and a look at those think tanks’ funding reveals they’re all getting money from weapons manufacturers.
The Israeli army has green-lighted the use of armed drones to carry out assassinations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported on Thursday.
Israeli Army Chief Aviv Kochavi gave his approval to use the armed drones for assassinations and “to carry out strikes should armed gunmen be identified as posing imminent threats to the troops,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
The leaders and most of the news media in the U.S. seem to believe that Washington’s foreign policy over the past several decades has been a success and benefitted both the United States and the world. That assumption wasn’t really true even during the Cold War, although that confrontation eventually resulted in the peaceful demise of America’s nasty totalitarian adversary. There was plenty of collateral damage along the way, with the suffering caused by Washington’s conduct in Vietnam and Afghanistan being the most glaring examples.
The performance of U.S. leaders after the Cold War has been even worse. An array of disruptive, bloody tragedies—most notably those in the Balkans, Afghanistan (again), Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen—mark Uncle Sam’s global trail of wreckage. The Biden administration’s decision to use Ukraine as a pawn in Washington’s power struggle with Russia is fast becoming the latest example.
Very few policymakers even concede that Washington’s overseas military adventures often have not turned out as planned. The news media, which is supposed to serve as the public’s watchdog, have routinely ignored or excused America's foreign-policy disasters. Instead, when one intervention fails, they simply move on to lobby for the next crusade pushed by U.S. leaders. Consider how few news accounts now deal with the ongoing violence and chaos in places such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen, even though Washington was a major contributor to all of those tragedies. Paul Poast, a scholar with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, aptly describes the conflict in Syria as America’s “forgotten war.” “That the war in Syria has become the “forgotten war,” he observes, “points to a more disturbing trend in U.S. foreign policy: The United States is so engaged in wars and interventions around the world that a conflict involving the U.S. military that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians does not even register with the American public anymore.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said the "unprecedented sabotage" against the Nord Stream gas pipelines was "an act of international terrorism," the Kremlin said in a statement.
Putin made the remarks in phone call with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan. He also said it was necessary to fulfil an internationally-brokered deal on Ukrainian grain exports, including the removal of barriers for Russian food and fertilizer supplies to the global markets, the Kremlin said.
Here’s the curious thing: since at least the Vietnam War era of the 1960s and early 1970s, the United States has been almost continuously at war. Certain of those conflicts like the Vietnam War itself and those in Iraq and Afghanistan in this century are still remembered by many of us. Honestly, though, who remembers Grenada or Panama or the first Gulf War or even the struggle against ISIS, the endless (still ongoing) bombing of Somalia, and this country’s military adventures in Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere across the Greater Middle East and Northern Africa? And doubtless, I’m forgetting some conflicts myself. Oh, yes, what about the 1999 bombing of Serbia? So it goes, or at least has gone, for more than half a century.
As Stan Cox pointed out at TomDispatch recently, the U.S. military, as the largest institutional user of petroleum in the world today, now seems at war not just with other countries or terror movements of various sorts, but with the planet itself. And don’t forget those 750 bases our military occupies on every continent except Antarctica or the staggering Pentagon and national security budgets that have continued to fund all of the above (and so little else).