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"We never had any illusions as to who we are dealing with. It was clear to us that after the Cold War ended, Washington and its NATO satellites sought total hegemony and wanted to resolve their own development challenges at the expense of others." -- Sergey Lavrov's article for Razvedchik news magazine (24/3/2023)
The debt ceiling showdown appears to be on the verge of resolution, pending a vote in the Senate, with a deal between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to suspend the debt ceiling in exchange for a cap on some federal spending. The deal would roughly freeze discretionary spending at current levels for the coming year. But one area of federal spending received a reprieve from Republican fiscal conservatives, the defense budget. The budget will receive a 3 percent increase in the coming year, in line with the White House’s $886 billion spending proposal.
Over half of the Pentagon’s spending goes to contractors and the CEO of the biggest weapons firm in the world, Lockheed Martin, is already taking a victory lap. Speaking at the Bernstein Annual Strategic Decisions Conference for investors, Lockheed head James Taiclet celebrated the defense budget hikes as a win for his company, telling the audience today:
“Now, there’s been the political activity going on around the debt ceiling lately. Even with that, the current agreement on the table, it’s not passed all the way through yet, the Senate’s still got to address it, is 3 percent growth for two years in defense where other areas of the budget are being reduced. And I think, again, that’s as good an outcome as our industry or our company could ask for at this point.”
The Joe Biden administration said it will walk away from some of its obligations under the landmark New START Treaty after the Kremlin ended its participation in the agreement earlier this year.
A State Department fact sheet published on Thursday outlined “Four lawful countermeasures in response to the Russian Federation’s ongoing violations of the New START Treaty,” saying Moscow was notified in advance about the retaliatory move, which it deemed “proportionate” and “reversible.”
Of the four countermeasures, the most significant calls to bar all Russian inspectors from visiting US territories. However, inspections were halted due to pandemic restrictions imposed in 2020.
The State Department maintains that Russian officials could have resumed inspections last year but chose not to, though Moscow says it could not send staff to the United States due to US sanctions.
The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced Thursday that the US and Taiwan signed the first trade agreement under a new economic initiative that was launched last year.
The deal was signed in Washington by representatives of the US and Taiwan’s respective de facto embassies, the American Institute in Taiwan, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.
The agreement has angered China as Beijing opposes any official cooperation between the US and Taiwan. While the deal was signed by de facto embassies, it was negotiated by USTR officials and Taiwanese trade officials. The trade deal covers trade facilitation, regulatory practices, anticorruption efforts, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
“China strongly opposes official interaction of any form between China’s Taiwan region and countries that have diplomatic relations with China. That includes negotiating or signing any agreement of sovereign implication or official nature,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said before the deal was signed.
Joe Biden’s history with Israel’s illegal settlement project is a lot longer than anyone else’s in U.S. politics. More than 40 years ago when he was a young senator, he banged the table and told Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, If you don’t stop building illegal settlements across the Green Line we’re going to slash aid!
But of course Begin won on that one, Israel just kept building settlements. And in one of the iconic moments of the U.S.-Israel “special relationship”, in 2010, just when Vice President Joe Biden landed in Israel, the country announced 1600 new settlement units — thumbing its nose at the White House. Biden took it lying down. He’d learned!
Now the question is, What is Biden going to do about Israel reestablishing Homesh? Homesh is an outpost Jewish settlement in the West Bank that Israel promised the White House in 2005 that it would dismantle. But Israel’s new extremist rightwing government ministers demanded it as a “passion” project, so Netanyahu greenlighted it.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) began January 6, 2021, by mugging for the cameras—more specifically, a camera operated by her filmmaker daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, who just happened to record every moment of her mother’s movements on what would become one of the most infamous days in American history.
As a clearly tense Pelosi prepared to convene the joint session of Congress during which Republican members of the House and Senate planned to debate the Electoral College outcome in six states—Pelosi also is seen conducting a caucus video conference that morning criticizing Republican plans to delay certification—her chief of staff warned that President Trump might go to the Capitol following his noon speech at the Ellipse. “I hope he comes, I’m gonna punch him out,” she told Terry McCullough.
Turning toward her daughter’s camera, Pelosi continued her tirade. “I’ve been waiting for this, for trespassing on Capitol grounds. I’m gonna punch him out, I’m gonna go to jail, and I’m gonna be happy.”
As the global economic intelligentsia debates how to “decouple” or “de-risk” from China, Elon Musk clearly didn’t get the memo.
The Tesla founder was feted like a returning king in Beijing this week. From the moment his private jet arrived on Tuesday, Musk is reportedly being called “Brother Ma,” putting him in rarified league with Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma.
There are many takeaways from Musk’s first China visit in three years. One is that not everyone is decoupling from China, least of all the globe’s most influential electric-vehicle (EV) evangelist and owner of Twitter. Another: the future of EV production and innovation is shifting toward Asia’s biggest economy.
Yet the most important one may be how Beijing is putting out a huge welcome mat for foreign chieftains – from Musk to JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon – to signal that China really is open for business again.
Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is officially rated R, Variety has confirmed with Universal Pictures. The film is Nolan’s first for the studio after his lengthy tenure at Warner Bros., where he directed tentpoles such as “Interstellar,” “Inception” and his Dark Knight trilogy. “Oppenheimer” will be Nolan’s first R-rated feature since 2002’s “Insomnia.”
The director confirmed last month that “Oppenheimer” is the longest movie of his career yet, running just shy of the three-hour mark. What does that mean for prints of the film? The Associated Press reports that “Oppenheimer” is so long that Imax prints are “11 miles of film stock” that “weigh some 600 pounds.” As is par for the course, Nolan shot the movie using large format film camera. Universal Pictures has now made tickets available for the film in premium theaters such as Imax 70mm, 70mm, Imax digital, 35mm, Dolby Cinema and more.
Nolan told AP that the “best possible experience” for viewing “Oppenheimer” is the Imax 70mm film format. However, that format only exists in 25 theaters across North America. Some of those venues include the AMC Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, the AMC Lincoln Square in New York, the Cinemark Dallas, the Regal King of Prussia near Philadelphia and the AutoNation Imax in Fort Lauderdale.
“The sharpness and the clarity and the depth of the image is unparalleled,” Nolan said. “The headline, for me, is by shooting on Imax 70mm film, you’re really letting the screen disappear. You’re getting a feeling of 3D without the glasses. You’ve got a huge screen and you’re filling the peripheral vision of the audience. You’re immersing them in the world of the film.”
On Thursday night, Daily Wire’s screening of the widely successful What Is A Woman documentary was throttled by Twitter after company owner Elon Musk said that it wouldn’t happen.
On Thursday, Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing announced that the outlet had reached an agreement with Twitter to air the film for free in order to celebrate its one-year anniversary. Twitter was initially enthusiastic about the idea, Boering stated, adding that the platform offered the opportunity to buy a package to host the movie on a dedicated event page.
Daily Wire accepted and signed the agreement, at which point Twitter asked to see the film to better understand which segments might “trigger” viewers. After reviewing the film, Twitter informed the outlet that the package was no longer available. Instead, the video’s reach would be limited under the platform’s “hateful conduct” policy because of “misgendering.”
After news spread, Musk told Boering that the incident was the result of a “mistake” at Twitter and vowed to reverse the decision. “This was a mistake by many people at Twitter. It is definitely allowed,” Musk said.
A U.S. Air Force official said last week that a simulation of an artificial intelligence-enabled drone tasked with destroying surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites turned against and attacked its human user, who was supposed to have the final go- or no-go decision to destroy the site.
The Royal Aeronautical Society said it held its Future Combat Air & Space Capabilities Summit in London from May 23-24, which brought together about 70 speakers and more than 200 delegates from around the world representing the media and those who specialize in the armed services industry and academia.
The United States has announced its first round of sanctions on Sudan, after the Sudanese army pulled out of ceasefire talks in Jeddah.
Four companies have been sanctioned by the US. Two are connected to the army and two are connected to its enemy, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary.
The White House released a statement on Thursday saying that it was responding to the ongoing violence in Sudan by "levying economic sanctions, imposing visa restrictions against actors who are perpetuating the violence, and releasing an updated 'business advisory' on Sudan."
The US government said that "these measures are intended to hold accountable those responsible for undermining the peace, security, and stability of Sudan".
The FBI has restarted its investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported on Thursday.
According to a front-page story in the SMH, the FBI is looking to build its case up against Assange, who was indicted by the US Justice Department in 2019 for exposing US war crimes by publishing classified documents he obtained from a source, a standard journalistic practice.
The report said that last week, the FBI contacted Andrew O’Hagan, a Scottish novelist who worked as a ghostwriter for Assange’s autobiography. O’Hagan rejected the FBI request as he opposes the US’s efforts to imprison Assange for his journalism.
“I would not give a witness statement against a fellow journalist being pursued for telling the truth,” O’Hagan said. “I would happily go to jail before agreeing in any way to support the American security establishment in this cynical effort.”
Assange’s legal team was surprised by the FBI request, which came amid building pressure on the Biden administration to drop the charges against the WikiLeaks founder. A delegation of Australian lawmakers recently met with the US ambassador to Australia and called on Washington to free Assange, who has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since the indictment.
On Dec. 24, 2022 Matt Taibbi was in a room at the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco poring through reports sent to Twitter from an entity called the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF). The FITF is an FBI-led interagency task force that forwards “moderation requests” from numerous government agencies, including Homeland Security, the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department, to social media outlets. Taibbi was given access to the internal traffic by Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk. It revealed how the FBI and other government agencies routinely suppressed news and commentary. He published a Twitter thread that night, Christmas Eve, with the headline “Twitter and Other Government Agencies”.
“There would be a list of YouTube videos,” Taibbi said when I reached him by phone. “There would be a notation that would say ‘We assess that these are all created by the Internet Research Agency in Russia. We assess that they are promoting anti-Ukraine attitudes.’ I would see that all those videos were no longer on YouTube. You can make your own deduction from that, but that was the pattern. They would send Excel spreadsheets full of account names and either all or most of them would be gone.”
The content that was suppressed included right-wing and left-wing reports critical of the dominant narrative advanced by the Democratic Party and the old establishment wing of the Republican Party, which has been folded into the Democratic Party. Threads from the Yellow Vests movement, activists from the Occupy movement, Global Revolution Live, negative stories about Joe Biden, reports on the Ukrainian energy company Burisma that paid Hunter Biden about $1 million a year while his father was vice-president, positive stories about Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, reports about Ukrainian human rights abuses and details of the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop were part of the plethora of accounts that were flagged and disappeared.
The U.S. Army has said it is seeing an upward trend in recruiting but has refused to provide numbers to bolster the claim.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told Congress that the branch has improved upon its numbers from last year in its bid to reverse a severe recruiting crisis, but would not fulfill a request to provide the actual data when it was requested by Military.com
According to the outlet, requests to the Army for quarterly recruiting data were made in early April, and the branch has declined for weeks to be forthcoming with the numbers and has provided no reason for their refusal.
In 2023, despite skyrocketing inflation and debt, as well as rising sociopolitical divisions, leadership among both Republicans and Democrats will always agree that substantially more US taxpayer money, never less, should be poured into the military-industrial complex, according to an analysis by journalist Judd Legum.
Case in point, the debt ceiling agreement established between the Joe Biden administration and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy caps military spending at a record $886 billion, exactly matching Biden’s mammoth budget request.
The GOP was seeking large increases in military spending and would only entertain cuts in non-military expenditures. The agreed upon war budget represents a 3.3% increase over the current year. The tentative deal still needs to make its way through Congress, where hawks will fiercely oppose any and all military spending caps.
Half of that money will go to defense contractors, with Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics receiving the lion’s share. Some of those industry giants are currently ensnared in a massive “price gouging” scandal, with a bipartisan group of senators demanding an investigation at the Pentagon’s highest levels.
US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Barbara Leaf, on 31 May, threw cold water on reports by Israeli media that allege Saudi Arabia is close to normalizing ties with Tel Aviv.
“There’s a lot of misreporting and a lot of hyperventilation in the press, a lot of excitable rumint, I would say, in the press, especially in the Israeli press. They’re just electric with the idea that Saudi Arabia might take that step,” Leaf told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Wednesday.
Nonetheless, the senior US official stressed Washington sees “plenty of space to get things done.”
Earlier this week, Israel’s National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said during a radio interview that the far-right government in Tel Aviv is “in a fog” on any progress in talks between Riyadh and Washington over normalization.
“I say this to be as clear as I can within the framework of the fog that exists for us … We are not really aware, right now, of what is happening in the Saudi-American corridors,” the Israeli official said.
As the sun sets over Taiwan’s Kinmen islands, the neon lights of mainland China dazzle in the distance just 2.5 miles away.
Yet as striking as the lights on the horizon are the reminders, everywhere, of war. Kinmen’s beaches are lined with anti-invasion spikes, its islands dotted with aging military posts, its streets home to countless bomb shelters – defenses prepared long ago for an invasion that never came. Or, at least, one that hasn’t come yet.
The shadow of war has hung over these islands ever since Taiwan and mainland China split at the end of the Chinese civil war in the late 1940s. Kinmen, a near and easy target for the mainland’s Communist forces, was bombarded with an estimated one million artillery shells in the years that followed.
Though active fighting ended in Kinmen in 1979, Beijing continues to claim self-governing Taiwan as its territory and recently has been making increasingly bellicose threats toward Taipei. As a consequence, many see the likelihood of war returning to these lands as higher now than it has been in decades.
Geneva has banned an exhibition that highlights the suffering of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, just days before its scheduled start.
The exhibition was set to be held from May 25-27. It was a collaboration between the Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun and the Rouge secour organisation, a group that works to highlight the plight of political prisoners.
However, two days before the event was scheduled to be held, the head of the venue, the Almacen, contacted Samidoun and told them that the City of Geneva municipal authority had intervened to cancel the event.
The Israeli parliament has advanced two bills that would bring Palestinian schools and staff in Israel under increased scrutiny from the security and intelligence services.
If passed, one of the bills proposed on Wednesday would require the education ministry to carry out background security checks on potential teachers.
The bill would authorise a committee, after conducting a hearing, to rescind the appointment of a teacher or dismiss a school staff member if they “identify with a terror organisation” or expressed support for the armed struggle of an enemy country.
It also requires potential teachers to prove they have no “affinity for terrorism".
The second bill sets stricter guidelines that would make obtaining a teaching licence much harder.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas condemned on Wednesday Israel’s transformation of the ancient Palestinian historical site, the Citadel of Jerusalem, into a Jewish museum with the new name of the Tower of David Museum, the Middle East Monitor reported.
“Hamas condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli occupation’s decision to turn the Citadel of Jerusalem, an ancient fortress located near the Hebron Gate in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, into the Tower of David Museum,” an official statement announced.
“Such a move has no legitimacy as it comes as part of the Israeli occupation’s strenuous effort to erase Jerusalem’s identity. Jerusalem will always remain an Arab and Islamic city,” the statement stressed.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement declared victory on Thursday in its years-long campaign against corporate security giant G4S.
“In a major win for human rights activism against corporate complicity, the world’s largest private security company Allied Universal, which owns G4S, has decided to sell all its remaining business in apartheid Israel,” BDS said in a statement, adding:
“This follows years of an effective #StopG4S campaign waged by the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.”
The BDS campaign against G4S was launched in 2012 by Palestinian prisoners’ rights and human rights organizations to support the major hunger strike waged then by Palestinian political prisoners.
German politicians have been left fearing the consequences of diversity after migrant parades celebrated the re-election of Turkey’s Islamist president took place in the country.
Numerous elected officials within Germany have expressed concern at the parades, which celebrated the victory of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey’s presidential election on Sunday.
Erdoğan is increasingly seen as an adversary of the European Union by many, with the Turkish strongman often coming at odds with European powers over his increasingly close relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and for frequently blackmailing the bloc with opening up the floodgates of migration.
Progressives across the continent would have also likely ben perturbed by the Islamist Turkish president’s victory speech, in which he vowed to protect the country from alleged attempts by the “pro-LGBT” to “infiltrate” Turkish society.
The left-wing Labour Party is reportedly planning on forcing landowners to sell their land at cut-rate prices to force more home building.
In a return to form, the Labour Party is reportedly eyeing a socialist-style scheme they claim will alleviate the ‘housing crisis’ by using the long arm of the state to force the sale of privately-held land at lower-than-usual prices.
According to a report from the Financial Times, Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow levelling-up secretary, is prepping plans to change the rules surrounding compulsory purchase orders (CPO), which allows government bodies to acquire land without the consent of the owner under circumstances in which it is deemed necessary to provide for the public good, in a similar manner to eminent domain in the United States.
At present, landowners who face such orders are entitled to a “hope” premium on their property, meaning that their land is valued at a price assuming that it would go towards development and therefore far more valuable than an average plot of land, the higher price compensating owners for having their land taken from under their feet.
The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia held talks on Thursday on resolving a political crisis that has spiralled into violence, with the leaders of France and Germany pressing them to take swift steps to reduce tensions.
Kosovo's Vjosa Osmani and Serbia's Aleksandar Vucic met briefly in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the European Union's foreign policy chief on the sidelines of a summit in Moldova.
The EU and the United States have expressed alarm at the latest in a long-line of crises between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian-dominated government and ethnic Serbs who are a majority in the north.
Violence flared on Monday after Kosovo authorities, backed by special police units, installed ethnic Albanian mayors in offices in northern municipalities. The mayors had been elected on turnout of just 3.5% after Serbs boycotted local polls.
Despite the quiet after the latest Israeli aggression on the besieged coastal enclave, Gaza's children continue to grapple with significant mental health issues.
"All Gazans, in particular children, were subjected to psychological trauma during the Israeli assault, mainly as they did not know if they will be affected by the Israeli attacks," Sami Owaida, a head of the nongovernment Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), said to The New Arab.
Earlier in May, Israel launched a bloody five-day bloody operation against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ), starting with the killing of three senior commanders and their families while they slept.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Thursday with China's deputy foreign minister and other top diplomats from the BRICS bloc of developing economies for discussions that included the group's possible expansion to include the major oil-producing nations of Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
Ahead of the talks at a luxury oceanside hotel in South Africa, Lavrov cast BRICS — an acronym for current members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — as central to the establishment of a "more just" world order.
The Russian minister also took swipes at the West for its sanctions and other forms of what Lavrov alleged was "financial blackmail” against Moscow, according to a translation of his comments.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, who hosted the talks, confirmed that an invitation had been extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend a larger BRICS summit scheduled for August despite Putin being the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant.
A left-wing parliamentarian in Germany has openly voiced his support for an Antifa activist convicted on Wednesday of being involved in a gang that violently attacked people with hammers.
Ferat Koçak, a Berlin parliamentarian for the Die Linke party, has openly voiced his support for Lina E., a violent Antifa extremist who has now been convicted of being a member of a gang that perpetrated numerous violent attacks on right-wingers.
The unnamed Antifa gang reportedly conducted numerous attacks on individuals and groups perceived as being part of Germany’s extreme right, using hammers and clubs to inflict sometimes life-threatening injuries on numerous individuals.
One individual set upon by the group was reportedly targeted due to the hat he was wearing, which was perceived as being designed by a right-wing clothing company.
France and Germany urged the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia to organise new elections as soon as possible in regions affected by recent civil unrest, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday after talks in Moldova with the two parties.
Speaking after a summit of European leaders in Moldova, Macron said he and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had given them a week to respond to their proposals.
Unrest in Kosovo's north has intensified since ethnic Albanian mayors took office in the region's Serb-majority area, a move that led the U.S. and its allies to rebuke Pristina. The majority Serb population had boycotted the April election, allowing ethnic Albanians to win the poll.
"What we have asked the two parties is very simple: the organisation as soon as possible of new elections in these four municipalities with a commitment from Kosovo, Macron told reporters.
They had also asked for clear participation from the Serbian side and the resolution without delay on the question of the associations of Serb municipalities from the Kosovo side.
The tragic death of Jordan Neely and the despicable legal lynching of Daniel Penny are not random events.
Democrats have instituted globalist-inspired programs and policies, transforming major cities like New York into dystopian hellscapes. Public safety has been abandoned. Predatory criminals, the drug addicted, and the violently mentally ill roam the streets and subways with impunity. Police are either absent or passive spectators. States attorneys protect criminals instead of their victims.
The result is law-abiding citizens have been left to survive on their own. And when heroes like Daniel Penny stand up to protect their lives and those of their fellow citizens—they are crushed.
The Republican primary is already in full swing. While a few second-tier candidates have joined the fray, including neoconservative Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and old school evangelical and former Vice President Mike Pence, the chief contest is between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Things are already heated. Some former Trump supporters now support DeSantis. Indeed, they have completely turned against Trump. The firehose of criticism reminds one of the refrains of a jilted lover.
Perhaps these former enthusiasts expected too much from Trump and from politics in general. On the other hand, it’s not like his high self-regard or lack of discipline was some big secret that should have come as a surprise to them.
Even I, as a Trump supporter, had my share of criticisms of him during his presidency, since I judged him by his fidelity to his 2016 campaign promises. But one has to wonder, with the volume and intensity of his erstwhile supporters’ attacks, how much money is sloshing around turning pundits into hired guns for Team DeSantis.
Israel recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, and many Jews and Christians see the state’s existence as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, but a former Israeli general also raised the alarm about the growing threats from Iran and its allies in the East.
“Things have changed dramatically in the last year,” Amir Avivi, a retired brigadier general in the Israeli Defense Forces, told The Daily Signal in an interview at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention last week. “We’ve seen the East moving towards adapting to the sanctions the West is imposing in the last year, especially on Russia and rightly so. But China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, all of these countries are getting closer and closer together. It enables them to overcome sanctions.”
In April, China brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, signaling a new balance of power in the Middle East.
“When they look at the West, they see a strong military power, but with zero willingness to use power,” Avivi warned. “When this is the reality, they feel they can pretty much do whatever they want and this is destabilizing the whole globe.”