Thought for the day

About 4,000 members of the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division are still deployed in Romania as part of a military buildup in Eastern Europe that President Biden ordered last year, as the Pentagon is still deciding whether to maintain current troop levels.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that some 101st soldiers are stationed at a base near the Romanian city of Constanta on the Black Sea while others are further north, just a few miles from the Ukrainian border, and are simulating fighting Russia in Ukraine.

In exercises with Romanian troops, the Times report said the 101st soldiers are firing artillery, launching helicopter assaults, and digging trenches similar to those on the front lines in Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast.

The deployment marks the first time the 101st has been sent to Europe since World War II.

Tags: EUROPE, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA
Posted on: Jan 04 07:22

Israel’s new foreign minister, Eli Cohen, spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday and passed a message from the US, The Times of Israel reported.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken held his first call with Cohen on Monday. An Israeli diplomatic official told the Times that Blinken was aware of the planned call with Lavrov and asked Cohen to pass a message, the contents of which the Israeli source did not disclose.

Blinken has barely spoken to his Russian counterpart since the February 24th invasion of Ukraine as the Biden administration has largely abandoned diplomacy with Moscow. The only known discussion between Blinken and Lavrov of the war took place in July and focused on a prisoner swap, not the war in Ukraine.

Tags: ISRAEL, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WHITE HOUSE
Posted on: Jan 04 07:21

The State Department said Tuesday that the US approach toward Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is “not changing” and said crippling economic sanctions on the South American country will remain.

“Our approach to Nicolas Maduro is not changing. He is not the legitimate leader of Venezuela,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Price’s comments came after Maduro said Venezuela was “ready” to work toward normalization with the US, and Venezuela’s opposition voted to dissolve the “interim government” and removed Juan Guaido as the “interim president.”

The US recognized Guaido as the “interim president” of Venezuela in 2019 after rejecting the results of the 2018 election that saw Maduro secure another term. The US also backed a failed coup against Maduro and ramped up sanctions that have done little but hurt ordinary Venezuelans.

Tags: SOUTH/CENTRAL AMERICA, WHITE HOUSE
Posted on: Jan 04 07:20

Israel's far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, entered Al-Aqsa Mosque's courtyards in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, in a move bound to inflame tensions.

video posted on social media shows Ben-Gvir touring the courtyards with a heavy security detail. 

On Monday, the Palestinian movement Hamas warned Israel that it "won't sit idly by" if the new security minister visits Al-Aqsa Mosque, as he vowed to do on Sunday.

Following his visit on Tuesday, Ben-Gvir said: "Our government will not surrender to threats from Hamas. 

"The Temple Mount is the most important place for the people of Israel," he said, using the Jewish name for the site.

Tags: ISRAEL, PALESTINE
Posted on: Jan 04 07:20

At a recent virtual summit, NATO leaders reaffirmed their intent to admit Ukraine to the alliance.

In doing so, they indicated an odd preference to directly defend Ukraine at some point, just not now while it’s under attack. As the dominant power in the NATO alliance, this puts the United States in the familiar, but dangerous, position of vaguely and half-heartedly offering to defend a non-ally.

These states, which we call “quasi-allies,” in our recent report, are not true allies, in that the United States has no treaty commitment to defend them. But they hover in a kind of geopolitical purgatory, encouraged by Washington to believe that they might be under the U.S. defensive penumbra. Quasi-ally status creates danger, not only for the United States, but also for those states it feints at protecting. Washington should stop creating quasi-allies, with word and deed, and either commit to defending states or, as should be the case most of the time, be clear that we won’t.

Quasi-allyship is a murky status, created by official rhetoric, such as overzealous Congressmen or speechifying presidents talking falsely — calling states “allies,” speaking of “enduring bonds,” and “ironclad” commitments. Heavy arms sales and talk of formal commitments exacerbate the trouble. Quasi-ally status generally applies to states — Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Ukraine, Georgia, and Taiwan, and probably Israel, which is arguably so close to an actual ally that it is one — but can also describe relations with sub-state entities like the Mujahideen fighting the Soviet-backed government in 1980s Afghanistan or the Kurds in Syria today.

Tags: RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA
Posted on: Jan 04 07:19

 Drone advances in Ukraine have accelerated a long-anticipated technology trend that could soon bring the world’s first fully autonomous fighting robots to the battlefield, inaugurating a new age of warfare.

The longer the war lasts, the more likely it becomes that drones will be used to identify, select and attack targets without help from humans, according to military analysts, combatants and artificial intelligence researchers.

That would mark a revolution in military technology as profound as the introduction of the machine gun. Ukraine already has semi-autonomous attack drones and counter-drone weapons endowed with AI. Russia also claims to possess AI weaponry, though the claims are unproven. But there are no confirmed instances of a nation putting into combat robots that have killed entirely on their own.

Experts say it may be only a matter of time before either Russia or Ukraine, or both, deploy them.

Tags: COMPUTERS/INTERNET, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA, WAR/DRAFT/ VETERAN AFFAIRS
Posted on: Jan 04 07:18

Svetlana fled the war in Ukraine in March, crammed into the back of a truck with her 6-year-old child and other refugees under bombardment by Russian forces. Invited to Israel by a close family friend, she hoped to recover and begin a new life in the Holy Land.

A few months after arriving, she said, she was raped by the man who wrote the letter of invitation that had gotten her out of the war zone.

“She was sleeping and he woke her up and roughly dragged her into his room,” says Olga Udovichenko, whom Svetlana later approached for help at the Volunteer Help Center for Refugees from Ukraine in Haifa. “She suffered deeply from both the war and the rape — but here she could barely get any assistance from the authorities. Instead of help she encountered a maze of bureaucracy and lost any motivation she had to hold the man to account and seek justice.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 is estimated to have killed more than 40,000 civilians and displaced up to 30 million more. As the war surpasses 300 days, 17.7 million Ukrainians around the world need humanitarian help and protection, according to the United Nations.

Svetlana is one of over 47,000 Ukrainians — the vast majority of them women — who traveled to Israel since the start of the invasion but who are not eligible for citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return, according to Israel’s Welfare Ministry. Of these, only approximately 15,000 currently remain in Israel, with the rest having chosen to leave. Not a single Ukrainian fleeing the war has been accorded refugee status by Israel.

Tags: ISRAEL, RUSSIA/ UKRAINE /BELARUS /CRIMEA
Posted on: Jan 04 07:14

As the chaos on the House floor continued into the third vote on Tuesday, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) nominated Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for the Speakership for a third time. As 19 Republicans revolt against McCarthy in hopes of getting recessions, they have begun to rally behind Jordan who is seen as a more conservative option for the Republican leadership. Roy is one of those members leading the fight. During his nomination speech, Roy emphasized the need to change the status quo and stand up for America.

“So this is what the chamber looks like when we are actually debating and the bodies are in the chairs,” Roy began in reference to the over 430 members in the House chamber. “How many times have we been down here giving speeches and there isn’t a soul in the chamber? Yet this is what it takes to get 435 people in the chamber and have an actual debate.”

“The American people are watching and that’s a good thing. What we’re doing is exercising our rights to vote and have a debate and have a discussion about the future of this country through the decision of choosing s Speaker. This is not personal,” he emphasized. “This is about the future of the country. It is about the direction of the country.”

Tags: POLITICS/ ELECTIONS/ CORRUPTION
Posted on: Jan 04 07:12

Mahmoud Al Khajah at his Jerusalem office on March 2, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

A visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United Arab Emirates slated for next week has been postponed until February, Hebrew media reported Tuesday.

Reports of the postponement came shortly after the Gulf state condemned Israel over a Tuesday morning visit by new National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem.

Associates of Netanyahu denied any connection between the incidents, however, saying the visit had been postponed due to logistical considerations, according to the Ynet news site.

Tags: ISRAEL, MIDDLE EAST
Posted on: Jan 04 07:10

New Foreign Minister Eli Cohen spoke on Monday with his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, stressing the importance of expanding bilateral ties.

Zayani wished Cohen success, according to the Bahraini readout of the call.

Israel’s top diplomat tweeted on Tuesday that the two had discussed “meaningful projects” that would deepen the economic and people-to-people ties between the countries.

Tags: ISRAEL, MIDDLE EAST
Posted on: Jan 04 07:08
Journalist Matt Taibbi released the eleventh installment of “The Twitter Files” Tuesday afternoon that explored the social media platform’s embrace of the U.S. Intelligence Community in recent years.
By: orraz
Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 20:05
The Chinese government, whose draconian “zero COVID” policy forced people to stay in their homes for as long as 100 days at a time, lashed out at countries around the world that will require COVID testing for travelers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
By: orraz
Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 20:04
Virginia’s Republican governor and attorney general are scrutinizing another liberal school district in the D.C. suburbs, following a special grand jury convened by the pair that indicted two Loudoun County school officials.
By: orraz
Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 20:03
A watchdog group says recent hate crime statistics published by the FBI are “essentially useless,” and anti-Semitism, which the report says is declining, is actually surging in the United States.
Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 20:02
Joe Biden and his family of grifters departed St. Croix en route to the White House on Monday afternoon.
By: orraz
Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 20:01
Kevin McCarthy lost the second round of voting today for Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
By: orraz
Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 20:01
Calley Means, a former lobbyist, says that Coke paid the NAACP to call Coke’s opponents racist.
By: orraz
Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 20:00
Rep. Lauren Boebert has just posted a video that shows two men removing the metal detectors positioned outside the House floor.
Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 19:58

New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was seen having what appeared to be a tense discussion with Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz after he opposed Rep. Kevin McCarthy in voting for a new Speaker of the House.

A camera caught Ocasio-Cortez and Gaetz discussing something in the aftermath of the first vote.

“Ocasio-Cortez and Gaetz appeared to be cordial during the conversation in the 17-second video, which ended with Gaetz and Ocasio-Cortez walking away from each other. A second video showed Ocasio-Cortez and Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar having an amiable conservation in adjoining seats on the floor of the House of Representatives,” the Daily Caller reported.

WATCH:

Tags: POLITICS/ ELECTIONS/ CORRUPTION
Posted on: Jan 03 17:22

Victoria’s Secret brand CEO Amy Hauk will resign after just eight months running the lingerie giant, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

Hauk, whose resignation goes into effect on March 31, will also relinquish her duties as brand CEO of PINK, the sister company which sells clothing geared toward teens.

News of Hauk’s departure sent shares of parent company Victoria’s Secret & Co. (VSCO) tumbling around 5%.

“Amy Hauk will be stepping down as CEO of Victoria’s Secret and PINK in order to spend more time with her family in Florida,” the company said in a statement.  

Hauk, 56, will be replaced by longtime executive Martin Walters, who will continue in his role as CEO of Victoria’s Secret & Co.

Webmaster addition: Maybe this is the reason Victoria's Secret is failing?

 

Tags: CURRENT EVENTS, ECONOMY
Posted on: Jan 03 16:21

The state of Missouri will execute Amber McLaughlin on Tuesday evening, making her the first transgender woman to be executed in the United States after Gov. Mike Parson declined to grant clemency.

McLaughlin, 49, will die by injection for the 2003 killing of former girlfriend Beverly Guenther in St. Louis. She was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006, and a judge sentenced her to death after a jury deadlocked on punishment. A later appeals court ruling reinstated the death penalty.

Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 14:44

An Associated Press article published this week lamented that “Unless Missouri Gov. Mike Parson grants clemency, Amber McLaughlin, 49, will become the first transgender woman executed in the U.S.”

The piece, republished by The Washington PostABC NewsCBS News, and many more, is referencing the case of Scott McLaughlin, a man who was convicted in 2006 of stalking, raping, and killing his former girlfriend Beverly Guenther.

In fact, Mclaughlin only began “transitioning” three years ago, according to the AP report– while incarcerated, and with the help of another transgender inmate.

The piece begins with an appeal to McLaughlin’s plea for clemency rather than McLaughlin’s undisputed heinous crime.

McLaughlin is scheduled to die by injection Tuesday. Despite the media’s angling, Gov. Parson says it will indeed occur as planned. 

“McLaughlin’s culpability in Ms. Guenther’s murder has never been in question,” Parson said in a statement. “McLaughlin’s conviction and sentence remains after multiple, thorough examinations of Missouri law. McLaughlin stalked, raped, and murdered Ms. Guenther. McLaughlin is a violent criminal. Ms. Guenther’s family and loved ones deserve peace. The State of Missouri will carry out McLaughlin’s sentence according to the Court’s order and deliver justice.”

Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 14:43

Democrat Katie Hobbs took the oath of office on Monday to become Arizona’s governor. During a private ceremony at the state Capitol, Hobbs formally took over from outgoing Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who is leaving office because of term limits.

During the swearing-in ceremony, Hobbs burst out in laughter as 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Roopali Desai sought to administer the oath. Her mother was standing across from the governor and holding what appeared to be a Bible.

“Stop it, Mom!” Hobbs called out.

WATCH:

WATCH: Katie Hobbs literally bursts into snickering and outright laughter on-camera when swearing oath to the Constitution as Governor of Arizona.@KariLake @KariLakeWarRoom pic.twitter.com/UpoXSsocO2

— Patriot Alerts (@alerts___) January 3, 2023

 

The Associated Press reported the outburst was in response to her “mother’s joyous tears.”

Twitter users had mixed emotions about Hobbs’ behavior.

Tags: POLITICS/ ELECTIONS/ CORRUPTION, VOTE FRAUD
Posted on: Jan 03 14:32

A last minute decision by the Illinois Supreme Court will not allow the state to abolish the cash-bail system. Set to take effect on January 1, 2023, the SAFE-T Act was postponed by the court. The Act would have eliminated the cash-bail system through “a provision known as the Pretrial Fairness Act.”

The incredibly progressive and liberal Act received criticism from both parties for fear that ending the system would be a danger to public safety. “The Illinois supreme court has not set a date to hear appeals in the case, so it’s unclear when or whether the provision eliminating cash-bail will take effect” reports National Review.

Kankakee County chief judge Thomas Cunnington ruled in favor of 64 counties whose lawsuits against the state were consolidated, finding that “the appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat.”

The state’s Democratic-appointed attorney general, Kwame Raoul, appealed the decision Friday, seeking to overturn Cunnington’s ruling.

Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 14:11

Jeffrey Younger has lost his court case to prevent his ex-wife from taking their son to California, where he could be medically transitioned. Younger has been trying to stop this from happening for years, and said that he has now reached the end of the line.

He wanted the courts to stop his ex-wife from taking the children to California and to protect his boys from medical mutilation at the hands of their mother, who is a pediatrician. The courts prevented him from forcing the mother to bring the boys back from California. Younger has accused her of using the children to help advertise her "inclusive," "gender affirming" practice.

This after Judge Kim Cooks, on October 24, said that both parents should have a "joint managing conservatorship," which each able to have "a say in his medical treatment," The Texan reported.

The custody case was before the Supreme Court of Texas, which ruled against Younger. Younger had issued a petition on December 16 to try to retain his parental rights after his ex-wife, Dr. Anne Georgulas, took the boys to California.

California has a law in place, starting on Sunday:

Children in that state will not be returned to their home state in the event that the home state would prevent the children from being medically transitioned to present as the opposite sex.

Younger wanted the boys brought home.

Tags: CURRENT EVENTS
Posted on: Jan 03 14:08

Fortville police arrested an accused burglar who was caught in the act by the homeowners — and then returned to the house for a second time.

Police received a call from the homeowners on December 16. A married couple said they had returned to their home on Mill Street from a funeral around 8:45 p.m. and noticed all the lights were on in their house.

When the woman went into a bedroom, she noticed a blanket had been pulled back on the bed, and drawers in the room had been opened and appeared to have been rummaged through.

According to court documents, the woman then noticed the suspect, Michael Warren, 49, of Indianapolis, lying between the wall and the bed.

As her husband retrieved a firearm, police said Warren ran off. At that point, Fortville police were called.

After police got information from the homeowner and left to search for Warren, court documents state Warren returned to the home.

Police said the homeowner once again pulled a firearm and ordered Warren outside of the home where he was taken into custody.

Tags: RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS
Posted on: Jan 03 14:07

The $68 billion Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust (BREIT) will receive a $4 billion bailout cash infusion from the University of California. BREIT has been in turmoil for the last two months. Blackstone sent a letter to investment advisors and portfolio managers in late November to calm down wealthy clients after redemptions soared. The New York-based investment manager enforced a redemption cap of 2% of NAV that could be redeemed per month or 5% per calendar quarter to prevent further panic.

statement from the Office of the Chief Investment Officer of the Regents of the University of California (UC Investments) and Blackstone announced a long-term strategic venture in which UC Investments will invest $4 billion in BREIT Class I common shares.

Blackstone and UC Investments have also entered into a separate strategic agreement that provides for a waterfall structure concerning the total return to be received by UC Investments on its investment. Blackstone will contribute $1 billion of its current holdings in BREIT to support an 11.25% minimum annualized net return for UC Investments over a 6-year hold period. 

Blackstone's terms for UC Investments should be terrifying for all BREIT investors. 

Tags: ECONOMY
Posted on: Jan 03 14:04