"Your love of liberty, your respect for the laws, your habits of industry, and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness." -- George Washington (1789)

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The United States shot down more drones and missiles than Israel did on Saturday night during Iran’s attack, The Intercept can report. 

More than half of Iran’s weapons were destroyed by U.S. aircraft and missiles before they ever reached Israel. In fact, by commanding a multinational air defense operation and scrambling American fighter jets, this was a U.S. military triumph. 

The extent of the U.S. military operation is unbeknownst to the American public, but the Pentagon coordinated a multination, regionwide defense extending from northern Iraq to the southern Persian Gulf on Saturday. During the operation, the U.S., U.K., France, and Jordan all shot down the majority of Iranian drones and missiles. In fact, where U.S. aircraft originated from has not been officially announced, an omission that has been repeated by the mainstream media. Additionally, the role of Saudi Arabia is unclear, both as a base for the United States and in terms of any actions by the Saudi military.

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Jordan's involvement in intercepting Iranian projectiles bound for Israel over the weekend has sparked questions about its security relationship with Israel, in a country with the highest population of Palestinian refugees. 

Amman joined Israel, the US, UK and France in shooting down around 300 drones and missiles on Saturday night, in the first direct Iranian attack targeting Israeli territory. 

The operation was in response to Israeli strikes on the Iranian consular building in Syria earlier this month that killed seven members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Jordan reportedly intercepted missiles near the Jordan Valley and along the border with Syria. It marked a rare occasion of an Arab country appearing to directly come to the defence of Israel. 

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Russia was able to destroy a key power plant serving Kyiv because Ukraine ran out of defensive missiles, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed.

Speaking to US news outlet PBS on Tuesday, Zelenskyy’s comments follow repeated warnings from his government to its allies about scarce air defences. Ukraine is desperately calling for ammunition as Russia scales up strikes on its infrastructure.

The Trypilska thermal power plant (TTPP), one of the biggest electricity suppliers to the Kyiv region, was destroyed by Russian missiles on April 11.

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The Israeli online magazine +972 has published a detailed report on Israel’s use of an artificial intelligence (AI) system called “Lavender” to target thousands of Palestinian men in its bombing campaign in Gaza. When Israel attacked Gaza after October 7, the Lavender system had a database of 37,000 Palestinian men with suspected links to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Lavender assigns a numerical score, from one to a hundred, to every man in Gaza, based mainly on cellphone and social media data, and automatically adds those with high scores to its kill list of suspected militants. Israel uses another automated system, known as “Where’s Daddy?”, to call in airstrikes to kill these men and their families in their homes.

The report is based on interviews with six Israeli intelligence officers who have worked with these systems. As one of the officers explained to +972, by adding a name from a Lavender-generated list to the Where’s Daddy home tracking system, he can place the man’s home under constant drone surveillance, and an airstrike will be launched once he comes home.

The officers said the “collateral” killing of the men’s extended families was of little consequence to Israel. “Let’s say you calculate [that there is one] Hamas [operative] plus 10 [civilians in the house],” the officer said. “Usually, these 10 will be women and children. So absurdly, it turns out that most of the people you killed were women and children.”

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Mixing religion with politics is generally not a good idea. Still, it looks like it is one of the few remaining options to avoid what then-Senator Sam Nunn and his colleagues  described in 2020 as continuing to sleepwalk towards a nuclear WWIII.

According to a YouGov poll, most Americans think such a war will be in the next decade. Other polls and experts give even shorter terms.

For example, Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius talks about the war starting in 5 to 8 years. British Secretary of State for Defense Grant Shapps says that we have already moved “from a post-war to a pre-war world.”

The “Collective West’s” opinion is that the current crisis started with Russia’s “unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. But others trace it to the February 2014 Western-backed “Maidan” coup that changed Kyiv’s regime from a neutral to a pro-NATO stand.

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The New York Times instructed journalists covering Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip to restrict the use of the terms “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” and to “avoid” using the phrase “occupied territory” when describing Palestinian land, according to a copy of an internal memo obtained by The Intercept.

The memo also instructs reporters not to use the word Palestine “except in very rare cases” and to steer clear of the term “refugee camps” to describe areas of Gaza historically settled by displaced Palestinians expelled from other parts of Palestine during previous Israeli–Arab wars. The areas are recognized by the United Nations as refugee camps and house hundreds of thousands of registered refugees.

The memo — written by Times standards editor Susan Wessling, international editor Philip Pan, and their deputies — “offers guidance about some terms and other issues we have grappled with since the start of the conflict in October.”

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An OSU study found that black kids visiting white parts of town—presumably in Columbus, Ohio—felt less “safe.”

Strangely, this same study doesn’t ask if when white kids visit predominately black parts of town, do they feel unsafe?

Visiting white parts of town make some Black kids feel less safe: Familiarity seems to reveal threats, new study finds, Ohio State University News, April 10, 2024

Some Black youth feel less safe when they visit predominantly white areas of their city, a new study in Columbus has found.

And it was those Black kids who spent the most time in white-dominated areas who felt less safe, said Christopher Browning, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

“Familiarity with white neighborhoods doesn’t make Black kids feel more comfortable and safer. In fact, familiarity seems to reveal threats,” Browning said.

“It is not a terribly optimistic finding.”

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A couple of weeks ago, President Trump in a radio in Michigan raised the issue of immigration’s contribution to crime:

The presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee sat down with West Michigan Live with Justin Barclay on Monday to talk about ”Biden migrant crime“ and promised to deliver the “largest deportation in history“ if he is returned to the White House in November.

Trump: Venezuela ’Dumped’ Its Gang Members Into US, by Nicole Wells, NewsMax, Tuesday, April 2, 2024

This topic as usual has provoked an avalanche of purported “Fact Checking” articles seeking to rubbish Trump’s charges. Somewhat atypical was NBC NewsTrump’s claims of a migrant crime wave are not supported by national data, by Olympia Sonnier and Garrett Haake, February 29, 2024.

Atypical because 13 paragraphs down the Trump people were allowed to raise a crucial question:

“Democrat cities purposefully do not document when crimes are committed by illegal immigrants, because they don’t want American citizens to know the truth about the dangerous impact Joe Biden’s open border is having on their communities,” Karoline Leavitt, Trump campaign press secretary, said.

Ethical journalism would have put this charge much further up, so that their readers would not have fallen asleep before reaching it.

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Suddenly, western politicians from US President Joe Biden to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have become ardent champions of “restraint” – in a very last-minute scramble to avoid regional conflagration.

Iran launched a salvo of drones and missiles at Israel at the weekend in what amounted a largely symbolic show of strength. Many appear to have been shot down, either by Israel’s layers of US-funded interception systems or by US, British and Jordanian fighter jets. No one was killed.

It was the first direct attack by a state on Israel since Iraq fired Scud missiles during the Gulf war of 1991.

The United Nations Security Council was hurriedly pressed into session on Sunday, with Washington and its allies calling for a de-escalation of tensions that could all too easily lead to the outbreak of war across the Middle East and beyond.

“Neither the region nor the world can afford more war,” the UN’s secretary general, Antonio Guterres, told the meeting. “Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate.”

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I urge you to set aside some time tonight to watch this 40-minute interview with Israeli historian Haim Bresheeth Zabner (right) who epitomizes what Israel could have been: civilized, humane and generous.

Zabner says there is nothing Jewish about genocide and militarism. He says Jews and Muslims have lived in peace for centuries until Zionism came along. Some other points he made in this fascinating interview:

– Israelis can’t decide whether they are invincible or vulnerable and the contradiction is driving them crazy.

– Israel is a major munitions supplier. It supplies the Indian army and most European countries.

–The IDF is embedded in all aspects of daily life and identity. And that we should not merely see it as a fighting force enjoying an international reputation, but as the central ideological, political and financial institution of Israeli society.

— Israel has 200 nuclear war heads and is blackmailing the whole world.

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Commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Force Brigadier General Kioumars Haydari says Iran’s retaliatory operation against Israel has further dispelled the threadbare myth that the wicked and child-killing Tel Aviv regime is unbeatable.

Haydari stated on Tuesday that the successful launch of hundreds of missiles and drones at the occupied territories in retaliation for the Israeli regime’s April 1 terrorist strike on the Islamic Republic’s consulate in Syria was a severe and crushing response to the notorious Zionist regime.

He emphasized that the destruction of Israeli military bases falls within the framework of Tehran’s success in countering and neutralizing the financial, logistical and intellectual support of the criminal US administration and its allies in West Asia and across the globe.

“The Iranian Armed Forces can now confront any type of threats and nip any threat in the bud, thanks to constant vigilance and watchfulness… The courageous and decisive action of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran melted the hearts of millions of freedom-loving Muslims, grief-stricken Gazans and fighters from resistance factions, and lived up to the divine promise about the victory of truth over falsehood,” the Iranian Army’s Ground Force chief pointed out.

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Most Western analysts were popping champagne corks today proclaiming Israel’s “massive” victory over Iran’s 14 April combined drone, cruise missile and ballistic missile attack on targets in Israel. I don’t know if they are really this blind to what happened or are willing participants in a psychological operation to persuade Israel that it had a victory and does not need to escalate. Regardless, let’s deal with the facts.

Iran told the United States and several neighboring countries exactly what it was going to do. We know this thanks to an article in the Financial Times published on April 12 — 36 hours before Iran launched.

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Market watchers warn that oil prices could surge if the latest tit-for-tat between Israel and Iran morphs into a wider regional conflict. If the Biden administration slaps new sanctions on Iran's oil exports, it could send prices higher too, observers say.

On the eve of Iran's retaliatory strike on Israel, oil prices spiked, but slightly backtracked in the aftermath of Tehran's attack. On Monday, Brent retreated 0.9%, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was down 0.8%.

"The impact of Iran’s attack on oil prices was hardly noticeable for the simple reason that the flow of oil from the Gulf region hasn’t been disrupted," Dr. Mamdouh G. Salameh, an international oil economist and a global energy expert, explained to Sputnik. "This could, however, change if Israel retaliates, thus prompting Iran to respond with a harsher retaliation that could lead to a disruption of oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz," he noted.

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The scale of Iran’s attack forced Israel to uncover the majority of anti-missile technologies the US and it have across the region, one analyst noted. They add that the Iranians likely now have “almost a full map of what Israel’s missile defense system looks like”.

An article published in Mondoweiss on Sunday suggested that Iran’s retaliatory attack against Iran was not a failure, after Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that 99% of the launched missiles and drones were intercepted by Israeli air defense systems. The article notes that Iran declared its intentions to attack a week in advance and promised the US that its attack would be “under control” and conducted in a way that “avoids escalation”.

On Tuesday, Sputnik’s The Critical Hour was joined by Dr. Jim Kavanagh, an independent journalist, to discuss Iran’s recent response to Israel’s attack over the weekend.

“This was not a failure on Iran's part. This was an action that has changed the game entirely,” said Kavanagh.

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Plaintiffs Suhail Al Shimari, Asa'ad Zuba'e, and Salah Al-Ejaili accuse CACI of conspiring to commit war crimes including torture. CACI is a Virginia-based professional services and information technology firm hired in 2003 by the Bush administration as translators and interrogators in Iraq during the US-led invasion and occupation there.

Three Iraqi victims were finally given their day in court on Monday after waiting for nearly two decades regarding human rights abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. The case being heard in the US District Court in Alexandria, Al Shimari v. CACI was first filed in 2008 under the Alien Tort Statute which allows non-US citizens to sue for human rights abuses committed abroad, a recent report said.

On Tuesday, Sputnik’s Fault Lines was joined by Dan Kovalik, an American human rights and labor rights lawyer, to discuss the case. When asked about the case that came two decades after the three men were tortured, Kovalik quoted the adage; ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.

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Webmaster addition: The video fails to name the app. It's "boycat." Just added it to my iPhone.

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The new law further simplifies draft procedures, with all Ukrainians obliged to “update data” on themselves with the military authorities within 60 days after the legislation comes into force. The provision applies to Ukrainians living abroad as well. 

Apart from that, all eligible individuals aged 18 to 60 now must always carry their military ID on them. Moreover, a conscription notice is forthwith considered to be delivered to a draftee even should conscription officers fail to meet them in person at their residence and actually hand them their notice.

The legislation also introduces new penalties for breaches, including fines and suspension of a driver’s permit. The police can also forcibly deliver a suspected draft dodger to an enlistment office should a draftee fail to show up on being deemed to have received their conscription notice.

Critics of the legislation have argued that it will further distance the Ukrainian authorities from the general public. It has also reportedly received a poor reception within the military itself, given the lack of any demobilization mechanisms. The reception was apparently also influenced by the fact that the bill’s introduction was justified largely by the purported need to relieve war-weary soldiers from their military service.

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Iran’s retaliatory strikes against Israel were not conducted alone. Strategic partners Russia and China have Tehran’s back, and their role in West Asia’s conflict will only grow if the US doesn’t keep Israel in check.

A little over 48 hours before Iran’s aerial message to Israel across the skies of West Asia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov confirmed, on the record, what so far had been, at best, hush-hush diplomatic talk:

The Russian side keeps in contact with Iranian partners on the situation in the Middle East after the Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria.

Ryabkov added, “We stay in constant touch [with Iran]. New in-depth discussions on the whole range of issues related to the Middle East are also expected in the near future in BRICS.”

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Russia is withdrawing its peacekeepers from Karabakh, a region that had previously seceded from Azerbaijan, the Kremlin confirmed on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said reports of the move that had appeared in Azerbaijani media were correct.

What was formerly the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh defied Baku’s authority amid the collapse of the USSR, when its predominantly ethnic Armenian population sought independence. The region remained a constant source of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which tacitly supported the ambitions of its de facto government.

There was a series of bloody armed conflicts over Nagorno-Karabakh in the following decade. The last of these occurred last year and resulted in Baku reasserting its sovereignty over the area. A mass exodus of people followed what Azerbaijan described as a counter-terrorism operation.

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Belgian police barricaded the entrance to a conference of national conservatives in the capital of the EU for several hours, in what participants denounced as censorship and political repression.

The event, dubbed NatCon, drew populists from both Europe and the US to Claridge, a venue in central Brussels. As Brexit architect Nigel Farage spoke on Tuesday, police blocked the entrance and prevented keynote speaker Eric Zemmour – a former French presidential candidate – from entering. 

“I knew I wouldn’t be welcome back in Brussels,” Farage, a former MEP, joked on stage, calling the attempt to cancel the event “simply monstrous.”

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House Speaker Mike Johnson betrayed liberty and the Constitution by making a full-court press to get a “clean” reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Act through the House.

Section 702 authorizes warrantless surveillance of foreign citizens. When the FISA Act was passed, surveillance state boosters promised that 702 warrantless surveillances would never be used against American citizens. However, intelligence agencies have used a loophole in 702, allowing them to subject to warrantless surveillance any American who communicated with a non-US citizen who was a 702 target. Intelligence agencies could then also conduct warrantless surveillance on any Americans who communicated with the new American target. This Section 702 loophole has been used so often to subject Americans to warrantless wiretapping that it has been referred to as the surveillance state’s crown jewel.

A bipartisan coalition of Republican and Democratic House members worked to add a warrant requirement to the FISA bill. Speaker Johnson agreed to allow a vote on the House floor on an amendment requiring federal officials to get a warrant before subjecting any American to surveillance. However, he publicly opposed the amendment, as did President Biden. Prominent deep state operatives, such as former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, also lobbied against the amendment.

Webmaster addition: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." -- 4th Amendment

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From the beginning it has been completely clear that the criminal and civil indictments of Trump have the purposes of using up his energy, money, and time so that he cannot campaign and of discrediting him with the insouciant part of the population that is stupid enough to have faith in the “justice system.”

The trials themselves and the words of the prosecutors and judges prove it.

The black Democrat New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, put into office by anti-Trump billionaire George Soros, who Elon Musk says hates humanity (which means gentiles), has concocted a criminal case against President Trump for “falsifying business documents” that legal scholars dispute. Apparently, Bragg cares not a whit about his reputation, only about preventing Trump from campaigning. Bragg contends that Trump should have reported his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels as a campaign contribution to himself and not as legal fees. But, of course, it would have been one of Trump’s lawyers or CPA who filled in the form. A person of Trump’s wealth leaves such decisions to professionals and does not himself navigate complicated and risky forms. Regardless, there is nothing illegal whatsoever in making extortion or bribery payments to a porn star so that she doesn’t make harmful accusations. It is a much cheaper solution than suing for slander.

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It might be wrong to assume China has “peaked”. Nicholas R. Lardy, a  Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, writing for Foreign Affairs, argues it is still rising and should not be underestimated  as a superpower. Parts of the American establishment, however, still cannot conceive of pacific coexistence/competition with Beijing. Matt Pottinger (former Deputy National Security Adviser) and Mike Gallagher (former chair of the “House Select Committee on the CCP”) amazingly call for regime change in China, and argue that Washington should ensure the whole of Asia is under US military primacy.

Pottinger and Gallagher in fact wrote that “the United States shouldn’t manage the competition with China; it should win it”. They call for “greater friction” in Chinese-US relations, by adopting “rhetoric and policies that feel uncomfortably confrontational.” The authors add that “Washington should not fear the end state desired by a growing number of Chinese”, namely a China “free from communist dictatorship.”

Other goals Washington should pursue, according to the same piece, are “severing China’s access to Western technology” (by placing export bans on areas such as “quantum computing and biotechnology”), and also multiplying “U.S. military installations across the region and pre-position critical supplies such as fuel, ammunition, and equipment throughout the Pacific.”

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Russian media shared a video reportedly found in the mobile phone of one of the captured Ukrainian servicemen. The footage was provided by Russian law enforcement agencies.

The footage shows an officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine arguing with a soldier. The officer likely wanted to punish the soldier. He beat the victim. Then, the officer is seen shooting in the direction of the soldier. The result of the quarrel is unknown. Unfortunately, there is a high risk that the victim was killed.

The Ukrainian POW was captured in the Kherson region, where the Armed Forces of Ukraine are holding control of a small stronghold in the village of Krynki and continue some operations near the Antonovsky bridge. The filmed incident took place in the Kherson region too.

This is far from the first video revealing the assassination of Ukrainian servicemen by their comrades. In recent days, most of these cases have been recorded in the Kherson region, where Ukrainian servicemen do not want to participate in senseless operations and risk their lives trying to cross the Dnieper River. LINK

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