"One-third of teens and young adults reported worsening mental health during the pandemic. According to an Ohio State University study, suicide rates among children rose 50 percent. A study in August 11, 2021 by Brown University found that infants born during the quarantine were short, on average, 22 IQ points as measured by Baylor scale tests. Some 93,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2020—a 30 percent rise over 2019." -- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Americans’ trust and confidence in the military increased slightly over the past year, but remains near a five-year low, according to a new survey by the Ronald Reagan Institute.
Conducted in early November after the U.S. midterm elections, the study found that 48 percent of the American public trusts and has confidence in the military, up from 45 percent last year but way down from 70 percent in 2018.
“No other public institution has seen this stark of a decline as we have seen for the U.S. military,” said Rachel Hoff, the institute’s policy director. “I'll note that it does still rank at the top of the list of the institutions we poll.”
Why the decline? The perceived over-politicization of military leaders was cited by 62 percent of respondents as the top reason for their decline in confidence. And 59 percent cited “the performance and competence of presidents, as the Commander-In-Chief.”
NATO has doubled down on its determination to eventually add Ukraine to its membership, renewing its 2008 commitment to that goal in a meeting between the foreign ministers of the alliance in Bucharest, Romania this past Tuesday.
The Romanian city was where NATO initially made the promise to Ukraine back in 2008, and at the time, US officials acknowledged that attempting to bring the country into the alliance could spark a war in the region.
“We made the decision in Bucharest in 2008 at the summit,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday. “I was there … representing Norway as Prime Minister. I remember very well the decisions. We stand by those decisions. NATO’s door is open.”
Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu granted far-right leader Bezalel Smotrich extensive powers over Israeli settlements and Palestinian construction in the West Bank as part of a coalition deal signed on Thursday between Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party and Netanyahu’s Likud.
Under the agreement, authority over the settlement and open lands divisions in the powerful Civil Administration and Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit will be handed to a Religious Zionism minister based in the Defense Ministry, a spokesperson for the party confirmed.
Channel 12 reported that this minister will likely be Smotrich himself, who will also be taking over the Treasury under the agreement, though the party said that has yet to be finalized.
French President Emmanuel Macron snatched an unexpected win from his U.S counterpart during a visit to Washington on Thursday, getting Joe Biden to suggest that European companies could benefit from a controversial American subsidies package.
Fury has been boiling over in Europe after it became clear that Biden's Inflation Reduction Act — a $369 billion package for green industry — could drain investment out of the EU and into the U.S. Big car-making nations like France and Germany had complained that the U.S. law was potentially illegal for discriminating against foreign companies in the electric vehicle sector and encouraging consumers to "Buy American."
Macron’s visit to the U.S. had been trailed as a doomed last-ditch effort to secure a truce over Washington's largesse before the EU and U.S. would lurch into a subsidy race or full-blown trade war with countervailing tariffs.
A coalition of Palestine advocacy groups has launched a renewed effort to free members of the Holy Land Five, a group of Palestinian men imprisoned fourteen years ago for allegedly funding terrorism through their charity.
The new campaign was ignited by Within Our Lifetime, the Coalition for Civil Freedoms, and the Samidoun Prisoner Network, but dozens of human rights organizations have joined the call including Palestinian Youth Movement, CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Canadian BDS Coalition.
“It is time to act,” said the Samidoun Prisoner Network in a statement. “These three men remain behind bars, locked away from their communities and loving families, and we demand their freedom, alongside the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners. Like the prisoners of the Black Liberation Movement, Leonard Peltier, Alex Saab and others, the Holy Land 5 are political prisoners of U.S. imperialism.”
Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hammouri, who is currently imprisoned by Israel, has been ordered by the Israeli state to be deported on December 4th, following the revocation of his Jerusalem residency status.
Last year the Israeli government revoked the Jerusalem residency of Hammouri, a dual Palestinian-French citizen who was born in Jerusalem, on the basis of “breach of allegiance” to the state. The decision comes after an Israeli Supreme Court ruling back in July that allowed for stripping citizenship or Jerusalem residency status from those found in “breach of loyalty” to the state.
From the door of a half-empty kebab restaurant in the southern Turkish town of Karkamis can be seen a gaping hole in the ground. It’s a reminder to the customers here, and all the town’s residents, of the danger they faced and continue to face.
One man walked through that door grumbling about his daughter, mixing Kurdish words with his Turkish ones in a heavily accented voice.
“She is still in fear, doesn’t leave her mother for a moment,” he said to the owner.
“This restaurant should have been full now. But people are afraid to go outside. The rocket, you know, landed over there,” he told Middle East Eye.
Ten days ago, rockets slammed into this community, killing three people, including a teacher and a child. It was part of escalating violence between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish groups, sparked by a bombing in Istanbul and likely to end in a full-scale Turkish ground offensive in northern Syria.
Russia deployed troop reinforcements Wednesday to an area of northern Syria controlled by Kurdish fighters and government troops, residents and a war monitor said, amid fears of a Turkish ground incursion.
Israel is considering blocking entry to Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, Israeli media reported.
Albanese, who is planning on visiting Palestine in the coming days, was accused of taking part in an online conference in Gaza last week, which allegedly included members of the Palestinian political groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Israeli newspaper Israel National News reported that Albanese is “guilty of making several anti-Israel remarks, including a few new ones which we’re (sic) addressed to Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials who participated in a conference in Gaza last week.”
The conference, entitled, ’16 Years of Siege on Gaza: Impacts and Prospects’, aimed to “shed light on the repercussions of the siege on Gaza” and was organized by the Council on International Relations-Palestine.
A recent blast hit the center of Istanbul resulting in several casualties. The Turkish authorities were very quick to announce the identity of the suicide person: A Kurdish woman in close relation with the Kurdistan Workers Party. Nevertheless, this terror act in Istanbul, followed by a new Turkish military intervention (aggression) in North Syria, once again opened the “Kurdish Question” which is in direct connection with the question of Kurdistan’s independence and terrorism as the political instrument in the realization of the national projects and ultimate goals.
The role of Russia in solving the “Kurdish Question” in the Middle East can be of crucial importance and a double-fold nature:
1. To openly support minority rights of the Kurds for self-determination including and a right for the national-state independence according to, for instance, the US’s policy-pattern upon Kosovo case; and
2. To provide by all means hidden support to the Kurdish freedom-struggle terrorism in Turkey as a matter of revenge for both Turkey’s direct support of the Chechen separatist rebels in the 1990s on Russia’s territory and for the Turkish bastard-style crashing the Russian military plane in 2015.
According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), on 1 December, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority and defense ministry signed an agreement with Spanish-based company Navantia to construct numerous combat ships for the Saudi Naval Forces.
Saudi Defense Minister Khaled bin Salman signed the agreement with the Spanish Minister of Industry María Reyes Maroto to bolster Riyadh’s defense ministry.
“This MoU represents the latest effort to fulfill the vision of HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister to localize our military industry and empower and strengthen the capabilities of the ministry of defense, which will help provide security for our country and region,” Salman said.
The military deal aims to support Riyadh’s Naval forces in boosting maritime security.
Navantia claims it will localize 100 percent of the ship construction, integrate combat systems, and cover maintenance.
A meeting of Europe's largest security organization opened Thursday with foreign ministers and other representatives strongly denouncing Russia's war against Ukraine, a conflict that is among the greatest challenges the body has faced in its nearly half-century of existence.
Along with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was founded to maintain peace and stability on the continent, has provided a rare international forum for Russia and Western powers to discuss security matters.
But since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the 57-nation OSCE has become another venue where the bitter clash between Russia and the West has played out, exposing the organization's own inadequacies in helping to resolve the conflict.
China’s top official in charge of Covid-19 controls has signalled a new chapter in the country’s pandemic response with small, progressive refinements to restrictive measures, in a sign the zero-Covid policy may be gradually phased out.
In a meeting with experts from the National Health Commission on Wednesday, Sun Chunlan – the vice-premier who has led the battle against Covid-19 for the past three years – also acknowledged that the Omicron variant is more transmissible but less deadly, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Sun said the country is “facing a new situation and new tasks as the pathogenicity of the Omicron virus diminishes, vaccination becomes more widespread and experience [grows] in prevention and controls”.
According to the San Francisco Police Department’s draft policy, “Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD.”
Yet as investigative journalist Sam Biddle points out, this is “what nearly every security agency says when it asks the public to trust it with an alarming new power: We’ll only use it in emergencies—but we get to decide what’s an emergency.”
A last-minute amendment to the SFPD policy limits the decision-making authority for deploying robots as a deadly force option to high-ranking officers, and only after using alternative force or de-escalation tactics, or concluding they would not be able to subdue the suspect through those alternative means.
The United Nations said Thursday that it is asking member states for a record $51.5 billion in aid funding for next year, as disasters and the ongoing war in Ukraine drive up humanitarian needs worldwide.
The global body's humanitarian office said the funds are needed to help 339 million people in 69 countries, an increase of 65 million people compared with the same time last year. The appeal is a 25% increase on that made for 2022, it said.
“Humanitarian needs are shockingly high, as this year’s extreme events are spilling into 2023,” said the U.N.'s emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths.
In September, twenty-seven Democrat and Republican lawmakers called on the Biden administration to use the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to sanction Algeria's purchase of Russian military equipment.
Algeria is considering signing a new 10-year-long arms deal with Russia worth US$17 billion. [Getty]
The Algerian-Russian Desert Shield 2022 military exercise was cancelled last month, announced Algiers' Ministry of Defence Monday night.
In a statement to the state's television, the ministry denied that any military exercises with Russia had taken place in the region of Bechar, in the southwest of the country, near the Moroccan borders.
Both Moscow and Algiers have confirmed previously the exercises' schedule.
The abrupt announcement came as a surprise when the alleged exercises were supposed to have occurred from November 16 to 28. Russia has yet to address the alleged cancellation.
“It seems probable that Russia will impose a solution. If, as expected, it becomes clear that the West can’t or won’t negotiate, it will behoove Russia to implement a maximalist solution. Or alternatively, Russia “bargains” by showing that it can create a dead zone in Western Ukraine as big as it likes. If Ukraine and its US minders don’t come to their senses, that dead zone will be awfully big.” —Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism
How does this end?
How does Russia create a “neutral” Ukraine that isn’t armed-to-the-teeth by Moscow’s enemies?
How do they prevent Kiev from conducting joint-military drills with NATO or placing missile sites on Russia’s border?
How do they stop the Ukrainian Army from shelling ethnic Russians in the east or training far-right paramilitaries to kill as many Russians as possible? How does Putin change Ukraine into a good neighbor that doesn’t pose a security threat and that doesn’t fuel anti-Russian hatred and bigotry?