Thought for the day

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has lost a moral right to say what’s right and what wrong.

She made the statement in response to the German minister’s attempt to accuse Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of lying.

"After so many years of lies about the desire to comply with the Minsk accords, continuing to lie now, Annalena Baerbock has lost a moral right to talk about what is truth and what is lies," the Russian diplomat said on Telegram.

Posted on: Jan 13 13:03

NATO prepares a deployment Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance planes to Bucharest, Romania. The aircraft are scheduled to arrive on January 17, 2023 and are going to support the Alliance’s reinforced presence in the region and monitor Russian military activity.

“…there must be no doubt about NATO’s resolve to protect and defend every inch of Allied territory,” said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. “Our AWACS can detect aircraft hundreds of kilometres away, making them a key capability….”

….NATO has increased its air presence in eastern Europe with additional fighters, surveillance aircraft, and tankers. Since February 2022, NATO AWACS have conducted regular patrols over eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea region to track Russian warplanes near NATO borders.

Posted on: Jan 13 13:03

The Polish government has approved the formation of a new infantry unit, operating primarily in the northeastern Podlaskie Voivodeship (province) bordering Belarus.

The 1st Legions Infantry Division will be based out of Łomza province. The headquarters will be at Ciechanów, Masovian Voivodeship.

Posted on: Jan 13 13:02

Research conducted by New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics into Russian trolling behavior on Twitter in the lead-up to the 2016 US presidential election has found “no evidence of a meaningful relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior.”

Which is to say that all the years of hysterical shrieking about Russian trolls interfering in US democracy and corrupting the fragile little minds of Americans — a narrative that has been used to drum up support for internet censorship and ever-increasing US government involvement in the regulation of online speech — was false.

And to be clear, this isn’t actually news. It was established years ago that the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency could not possibly have had any meaningful impact on the 2016 election, because the scope of its operations was quite small, its posts were mostly unrelated to the election and many were posted after the election occurred, and its funding was dwarfed by orders of magnitude by domestic campaigns to influence the election outcome.

Posted on: Jan 13 13:02

The US prison at Guantánamo Bay opened 21 years ago this Wednesday. For 21 years, the extrajudicial detention facility has held a total of 779 men between eight known camps. In two decades, Guantánamo grew from a small, makeshift camp of chainlink cages into a maximum-security facility of cement bunker-like structures that costs close to $540m a year to operate.

Twenty-one years is a long time – a generation was born and came of age in that time. Four American presidents have served. The World Trade Center was rebuilt.

During that time, the US military, the CIA and other intelligence agencies experimented with torture and other human rights violations. Soldiers and even leaders committed war crimes. The US Congress researched, wrote and released a report documenting torture, abuse and inhumane treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo and at black sites around the world, while also making it impossible to close Guantánamo.

Of those 779 prisoners held at Guantánamo, we know that nine died there; 706 have been released or transferred out; 20 have been recommended for transfer but remain there; 12 have been charged with crimes; two have been convicted; and three will be held in indefinite law-of-war detention until someone demands their release.

Posted on: Jan 13 13:01

A human rights monitoring group has released a new report finding at least 87 Yemeni civilians were killed with American or British weapons during a 14-month period. The Oxfam report reviewed 1,700 attacks on civilians and found Saudi Arabia used US or UK weapons in over a quarter of those incidents.

For this report, Oxfam reviewed incidents that occurred between January 2021 and February 2022. The author of the report, Martin Butcher, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor on Arms and Conflict, said, “[t]he intensity of these attacks would not have been possible without a ready supply of arms. That is why it’s vital the UK government and others must immediately stop the arms sales that are fuelling war in Yemen.”

Butcher reported the American or British arms were used by the Saudi military to kill 87 civilians, bomb 19 medical facilities, and displace over 300 people. The Oxfam study found that of the over 1,700 attacks on civilians during that 14-month window, a quarter were committed with US and UK weapons.

Posted on: Jan 13 13:00

In 2019, reporter Lynzy Billing returned to Afghanistan to research the murders of her mother and sister nearly 30 years earlier. Instead, in the country’s remote reaches, she stumbled upon the CIA-backed Zero Units, who conducted night raids — quick, brutal operations designed to have resounding psychological impacts while ostensibly removing high-priority enemy targets.

So, Billing attempted to catalog the scale of civilian deaths left behind by just one of four Zero Units, known as the 02, over a four year period. The resulting report represents an effort no one else has done or will ever be able to do again. Here is what she found:

Posted on: Jan 13 12:59

A clause in the coalition agreement between Likud and Religious Zionism says the government will instruct the head of the army's Central Command to enable assets currently held by the Civil Administration to be transferred to their pre-1948 Jewish owners. This move is expected to facilitate settlement expansion and allow Israel to gain control over Palestinian-leased buildings.

According to estimates obtained by the NGOs Peace Now and Bimkom, this move could affect about 13,000 dunams (3,250 acres) of land in the West Bank and about 70 buildings in Hebron, said to be owned by Jews before 1948.

Most of the land is in Gush Etzion (Bethlehem area) and north of Jerusalem, but other plots are in the area of Nebi Samuel, Batir and Beit Furik. Several parcels of land are in Area B, which is defined as land under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control according to the Oslo Accords.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:58

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday defended the planned judicial overhaul recently unveiled by his government while hinting there may be limits to how much he will tolerate protests against his government.

“We are not weakening the judicial system, we are strengthening all our systems, democracy and the rule of law that are all dependent on the correct balance between institutions,” Netanyahu said at a press conference during which he presented his coalition’s economic plans.

“This balance that we find in all countries around the world has been somewhat broken, as you know, in Israel, and we have to return it in a responsible way and that’s what we will do,” he added.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:57

According to the Palestinian President’s Office for Jerusalem Affairs, around 13,000 Palestinians that reside in the city have been threatened with being displaced to pave the way for the construction of Jewish-exclusive homes, museums, social spaces, and synagogues.

The adviser to the Palestinian President’s office, Ahmed Al-Ruwaidi, issued a statement on 11 January remarking that the Israeli authorities are preparing for local excavations and the opening of tunnels around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in a bid to expand Israeli settlements in the vicinity.

Ruwaidi urged UNESCO to investigate Israel’s violations of Jerusalem’s cultural heritage. 

“Despite the importance of the decisions issued by this organization, its decision to send an investigation committee has not been implemented because the occupation authorities have previously prevented the arrival of its delegation to Jerusalem, which does not justify the continued delay,” Ruwaidi said.

Last month, a Haartez report disclosed that Tel Aviv refused to grant 13,000 Palestinians residency in Jerusalem.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:56

Tens of thousands including many opposition MKs and prominent public figures are expected to attend a mass demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night in protest of the government’s judicial reforms.

“It is the duty of every citizen to join the fight for the homeland, its security and future, for the values of the Declaration of Independence, for equality, for the brotherhood of man, his dignity, his rights and his freedom,” according to a flyer distributed by the Black Flags movement, which is organizing the demonstration. It also included the slogans “No to Dictatorship” and “This is a True Alarm.”

Party leaders who announced they would attend the “Fighting the Coup d’État” protest at Habima Square included National Unity chairman and former defense minister Benny Gantz, Labor chairwoman Merav Michaeli and Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas. Many opposition MKs from these parties and Yesh Atid also said they would attend. Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman did not commit out of concern of being linked to some of its left-wing messages.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:55

When intense combat unfolds in the east of Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu vowed on January 10 to expand the country’s weaponry and advance aviation technology and increase drone production.

Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin ordered Shoigu to create a report on how military units are supplied, including details of weapons and equipment delivered to the military and suggestions for enhancing the defense ministry’s operations.

The order was given in the wake of some significant losses incurred by the Russian military on the battlefield.

It had become imperative for Russia to bolster its military preparedness when NATO countries were pledging robust weapon systems to Ukraine in the recent military packages. The NATO military aid that started in February 2022 when Ukraine was invaded will soon equal Russia’s 2022 defense budget.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:55

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has started implementing a new law in the sanctuary state of California that allows recently-arrived border crossers to police American citizens as law enforcement officers with local, county, and state agencies.

Last year, Newsom signed S.B. 960, which only requires that law enforcement officers in the state have a work permit to be employed in the United States — removing residency requirements that mandated law enforcement officers be either American citizens or green card-holders that had at least filed to become naturalized American citizens.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:54

India’s army chief said on Thursday the border situation with China is stable but unpredictable after a nearly two-and-a-half-year standoff between tens of thousands of soldiers from both countries in the eastern Ladakh area.

Gen. Manoj Pande told reporters the countries were continuing to talk both at the diplomatic and military levels, and that India’s military maintains a high level of preparedness.

“We have adequate forces. We have adequate reserves in each of our sectors to be able to effectively deal with any situation or contingency,” Pande said.

“I would say the situation is stable and under control, yet unpredictable,” he said.

Pande added that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has impacted the supply of spare parts for India’s military but did not provide more details. He also spoke about India’s reliance on equipment from these countries.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:47

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Thursday that security force members were complicit in letting an anti-government mob ransack the seat of power in Brasilia, and promised to weed out hardcore supporters of his predecessor.

The task of screening out those actors will be complex, his senior aides said, but investigations have begun to see who was responsible for letting backers of former President Jair Bolsonaro storm and vandalize the presidential palace.

"There were a lot of people who were complicit in this among the military police. There were many people from the armed forces who were complicit," Lula told journalists. "I am convinced that the door to the palace was opened to allow these people in, because I did not see that the door was broken."

Posted on: Jan 13 12:46

"The Venezuelan president insisted that the "aggression" from abroad "is a threat to recolonize" the country.

Maduro, thus, denounced that the oil activity is under persecution "with the aim that Venezuela does not have the resources it should freely receive to invest them in its economy and in the social rights of the people".

Posted on: Jan 13 12:46

Clashes between protesters and police have broken out in Peru’s tourist city of Cusco as a month of demonstrations, which have now left at least 47 people dead, continued over the removal of the country’s ex-President Pedro Castillo.

Health officials in Cusco said 37 civilians and six police officers were injured on Wednesday when protesters tried to take over the city’s Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport, a gateway for tourists to visit the nearby Incan citadel of Machu Picchu. One civilian later died after being hit by gunfire, officials said.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:45

During a vote on the Israeli Knesset on 11 January, 70 lawmakers voted in favor of a draft law to revoke the citizenship or residency of Palestinian prisoners who receive remuneration from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The bill, introduced by Likud member Ofir Katz, received backing from parties belonging to the far-right ruling coalition and lawmakers from self-proclaimed ‘centrist’ parties, including the Yesh Atid party headed by former premier Yair Lapid.

Wednesday’s vote was the first of four votes necessary before the proposal becomes law. The preliminary reading came just days after the release of resistance fighter Karim Younis, Israel’s longest-serving Palestinian prisoner.

Younis was arrested in 1983 and charged in Israeli courts with killing an Israeli soldier in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights three years prior.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:45
An FBI whistleblower accused Director Christopher Wray of scrambling to rebrand himself as a non-partisan, law and order man just as House Republicans are preparing to investigate how the bureau has allegedly been “weaponized” against conservative Americans under his watch.
By: orraz
Posted on: Jan 13 12:43

Since the end of the Second World War (1939-1945), there have been many civil wars and several important regional military conflicts between two or more countries, but none has evolved into a general world war involving all the most heavily armed countries. The most serious regional wars were the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the Iraq War (2003-2011), the Syria War (2011- ), and the Ukraine War (2022- ).

Indeed, with no sign yet of peace in Ukraine, nine years after the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government, in February 2014, and nearly one year after the Russian military invasion, last February 24—and with a real danger that such a prolonged proxy conflict between great powers could escalate into a nuclear world war—it may be appropriate to search for reasons why, in this 21st Century, the world is still threatened with murderous and destructive wars.

There are basic tendencies in human nature, structural institutional failures and geopolitical factors for why this is the case.

Let us identify the most important causes, which can explain why wars of aggression and proxy wars are still taking place today.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:43
An engineer has been blamed for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) NOTAM system crash that halted all domestic airplane departures Wednesday morning, according to a new report.
By: orraz
Posted on: Jan 13 12:43

The discovery of two batches of classified documents from Joe Biden’s time as vice president could bring renewed attention to an office the president shared with his scandal-plagued son Hunter and a Chinese energy conglomerate linked to Chinese military intelligence.

Joe and Hunter Biden were "office mates" with executives from CEFC China Energy in 2017, according to emails from Hunter’s abandoned laptop. In an email to the general manager for the K Street office building, Hunter Biden said the office would be shared by his consulting firm Hudson West, CEFC China Energy, and the Biden Foundation, his family charity.

"[P]lease have keys made available for new office mates," Hunter Biden wrote in a Sept. 21, 2017 email, listing Joe Biden, his stepmother Jill Biden, his uncle Jim Biden, and Gongwen Dong, whom he identified as the "emissary" for the chairman of the now-bankrupt Chinese energy conglomerate CEFC.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:43

President Joe Biden touted falling food prices Thursday, but the latest federal data shows the price of food is actually on the rise and has been for more than a year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new inflation data Thursday that showed the overall consumer price index dropped 0.1%, driven in part by a decrease in energy prices.

“For the sixth month in a row, yearly inflation is down,” Biden wrote on Twitter after BLS released the data. “It might be rising in economies around the world, but it's coming down here. And gas prices, food, and more are following. That adds up to a break for families and proof that my plan is working.”

Posted on: Jan 13 12:42
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley warned that President Joe Biden could very well have set a trap for himself when he claimed he had not known about the classified documents that have now been found in several places.
Posted on: Jan 13 12:42

The beginning of the end of Europe’s dependency on China for precious rare earth materials may lie buried deep under the rugged reaches of northern Sweden, well above the Arctic Circle.

Sweden’s iron-ore miner LKAB said Thursday it has identified "significant deposits" in Lapland of rare earth elements that are essential for the manufacture of smartphones, electric vehicles and wind turbines.

The government-owned company that mines iron ore at Kiruna, almost 1,000 kilometers north of Stockholm, said there are more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:42
A Virginia school administrator knew of a possible weapon on campus before a teacher was shot by a 6-year-old, according to the school’s superintendent.
By: orraz
Posted on: Jan 13 12:41

In one of their final acts in power, House Democrats secretly passed through a rule change that will see lawmakers in the lower chamber get a $34,000 pay raise. 

The new rule, proposed by Democrats on the House Administration Committee, allows House members to be reimbursed for the cost of lodging, food and travel while on official business in Washington DC.

It was tucked into the House's internal rules, rather than in annual spending bills, and therefore was not debated on the House floor, according to the New York Times. 

Posted on: Jan 13 12:41

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday charged crypto firms Genesis and Gemini with allegedly selling unregistered securities in connection with a high-yield product offered to depositors.

Gemini, a crypto exchange, and Genesis, a crypto lender, partnered in February 2021 on a Gemini product called Earn, which touted yields of up to 8% for customers.

According to the SEC, Genesis loaned Gemini users’ crypto and sent a portion of the profits back to Gemini, which then deducted an agent fee, sometimes over 4%, and returned the remaining profit to its users. Genesis should have registered that product as a securities offering, SEC officials said in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

Posted on: Jan 13 12:41