“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." -- Frédéric Bastiat, French economist

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Russia's military may have its sights set on Ukraine's key southern port city of Odesa next. On Saturday a wave of drone and artillery strikes reportedly killed at least 11 people.

According to Ukraine government officials, "Eight were confirmed dead, including a child and a baby, after an overnight drone strike on the southern port city of Odesa." Two more bodies were said to have been found on Sunday. A direct drone strike appears to have destroyed a residential apartment block.

Port city of Odesa, via UNESCO

Zelensky in the attack aftermath said that ongoing aerial strikes like these are why Kiev urgently needs additional batteries of advanced anti-air defense systems.

"Russia continues to hit civilians," Zelensky said in a statement on social media. "We need more air defenses from our partners. We need to strengthen the Ukrainian air shield to add more protection for our people from Russian terror. More air-defense systems and more missiles for air-defense systems save lives," he said.

Claire's Observations:  And Ukraine's attacks on Russia are NOT "killing civilians"?!?

Come on, folks;  pot... kettle... black!!

This stupid, immoral and vile war, emboldened by Western opportunists who had utterly no clue about Russian capabilities, should never have gotten started; the US did a marvelous job of "scotching" any viable potential cease-fire and negotiations at its onset, and now has to live with the reality and consequences of its failure.  (DAMN:  that "hopium/changium" FAILED THE US AGAIN!!)

Sending more weapons to Ukraine, which can further penetrate Russia's airspace, will be a nasty "red line" which Putin will not tolerate. I would like to hope that some of us read some of Putin's weekend speech to Russia's General Assembly.

The whole speech was transcribed into English, as indicated here, in his remarks to the General Assembly:  http://www.en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/messages/73585, and here are some excepts which I think are critically important:

"We were not the ones who started the war in Donbass, but, as I have already said many times, we will do everything to put an end to it, eradicate Nazism and fulfill all the objectives of the special military operation, as well as defend sovereignty and ensure that our people are safe."

"The strategic nuclear forces are on full combat alert and the ability to use them is assured. We have either already accomplished or are about to accomplish all our plans in terms of weapons in keeping with what I said in my 2018 Address."

"Kinzhal, the hypersonic air-launched complex, has not only entered combat duty, but has been effective when carrying out strikes against critical targets during the special military operation. By the same token, Zircon, a ship-based hypersonic missile complex, has already served in combat. It was not even mentioned during the 2018 address, but this missile system has also entered combat duty."

"Avangard hypersonic ICBMs, as well as the Peresvet laser complexes have also entered combat duty. Burevestnik, a cruise missile with an unlimited range, is about to complete its testing stage and so is the Poseidon, an unmanned underwater vehicle. These systems have proven that they meet the highest standards and it would not be an exaggeration to say that they offer unique capabilities. Our troops also received the first serially produced Sarmat heavy ballistic missiles. Soon, we will show them to you on their combat alert duty"

"Here is a good example of their (Western) hypocrisy. They have recently made unfounded allegations, in particular, against Russia, regarding plans to deploy nuclear weapons in space. Such fake narratives, and this story is unequivocally false, are designed to involve us in negotiations on their conditions, which will only benefit the United States."

"At the same time, they have blocked our proposal which has been on the table for over 15 years. I am referring to the agreement on preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space, which we drafted back in 2008. There has been zero reaction to it. It is totally unclear what they are talking about."

"Therefore, there are reasons to suspect that the current US administration’s professed interest in discussing strategic stability with us is merely demagoguery. They simply want to show to their citizens and the world, especially in the lead-up to the presidential election that they continue to rule the world, that they would talk with the Russians when it will benefit them and that there is nothing to talk about and they will try to inflict defeat on us otherwise. Business as usual, as they say."

"But this is unacceptable, of course. Our position is clear: if you want to discuss security and stability issues that are critical for the entire planet, this must be done as a package including, of course, all aspects that have to do with our national interests and have a direct bearing on the security of our country, the security of Russia."

"We are also aware of the Western attempts to draw us into an arms race, thereby exhausting us, mirroring the strategy they successfully employed with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Let me remind you that in 1981–1988, the Soviet Union’s military spending amounted to 13 percent of GDP."

"Our current imperative is to bolster our defence industry in such a way as to increase our country’s scientific, technological and industrial capabilities. We must allocate resources as judiciously as possible, fostering an efficient economy for the Armed Forces, and maximising the return on each ruble of our defence spending. It is crucial for us to expedite the resolution of social, demographic, infrastructural and other problems we face while simultaneously advancing the quality of equipment for the Russian Army and Navy."

So can anyone tell me, please,  with all the billions the US has spent on "defense", why are we still "behind the 8 ball"  relative to Russia and China's defense industries?!? The weapons Putin talks about in this speech, are real, and one of the most interesting (terrifying) things about them, is that they are maneuverable in flight.  

Please understand:  I hate war.  To me, the act of war demonstrates  a catastrophic failure of imagination. Preventing wars takes hard-fought, hard-won moral negotiations on both sides.

But having said this, if we are going to be at war with Russia (or China) why aren't our weapons systems better than those Putin described in this speech?!?  

Somehow, our DOD, and the manufacturers which service them, have been "asleep at the wheel" for far too long, and the time has come for a thoughtful, radical change here, taking into account the weapons Russia and China have, which the US government and military do not.  

 I am profoundly baffled as to why the weapons Putin described, have not been put into service far before the Russians have by the US's DOD.

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Remember when, in the immediate aftermath of the Ukraine war, Russian oil immediately traded down to a discount of as much as 30% below spot Brent as the entire western world suddenly found itself locked out of access to the most valuable Russian export (which also meant that China and India were the only natural buyers left) and the price of Russian oil had to reflect the explicit plunge in demand?

Well, that's no longer the case because in the two years since the start of the Ukraine conflict, it became apparent that Western sanctions were merely a theatrical publicity stunt as the alternative - strict enforcement - would have sent oil prices soaring and that would be unacceptable to a Biden administration terrified of losing the November elections if and when oil and gasoline prices surges.

And as fear of enforcement became a non-issue over time, so did the discount of Russian oil to Brent, which brings us to today, and Goldman's "chart of the week" which illustrates the collapse in the discount on Russian crude oil close to zero relative to Brent, according to the bank's estimates using the most recent customs data for December.

According to Goldman, which estimates the effective price of Russian crude paid by its trade partners using detailed customs data on import volumes and import payments for Russia crude, this drop in the price discount was primarily driven by the countries outside of the G7 coalition.

However, the discount has also narrowed for most of the buyers as Russian fleets were becoming more capable of operating under the G7 price cap.

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As we reported earlier, the US made its first successful aid airdrops over Gaza on Saturday, at a moment the White House is seeking to stave off further humanitarian disaster in the Strip as the war presses on.

Local footage has begun emerging, captured by Palestinians scrambling to access the aid. Like Jordan before, the US C-130s flew low and dropped the aid crates over and near the beach. Hundreds if not thousands of people could be seen clamoring to open the crates.

Pentagon officials have said that such air drops can be risky in terms of the safety of people on the ground, hence a beach is 'open air' enough for an optimally safe delivery.

Israel's military over the weekend issued a video saying it had authorized the US airdrops and coordinated with the Pentagon.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israel is working with international partners "to enable the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza."

View from inside C-130 of Saturday's airdrop. US Air Force via Reuters

"We encourage all efforts, all of them to help alleviate the suffering of civilians in Gaza," he said also of airdrops by the Royal Jordanian Air Force, which has conducted at least 16 drops since the Gaza war began.

Meanwhile, there are emerging reports Sunday saying that children in some local hospitals have begun to die of malnutrition. "The number of children who have died of dehydration and malnutrition in northern Gaza has risen to 15, a Palestinian Ministry of Health spokesman there said Sunday," CNN reports

Claire's Observations:  This number of kids, dead from starvation, is probably very conservative, compared to the number of kids who actually have died, or are dying, from starvation in Gaza.

But hey, starvation and illness are dandy ways to kill Gazans, and the IDF doesn't  need to use those pesky, US continually-supplied bombs and bullets to do so!!!

And about a potential, viable cease-fire?!?  As a much loved TV character used to say frequently, "Fuggetaboutit!!"   

Netanyahu will refuse it, because he can: the "fix is in" with Egypt, which is being given a two billion dollar massive loan/(bribe) by the IMF to establish tent cities in the Sinai for those Palestinians left breathing, to become their  "permanent home". 

Because of a recent population boom there, primarily among its poorest citizens, Egypt's poverty rate is estimated at roughly 27%, by various private agencies, including the World Bank.

How in the name of heaven Egypt is going to take care of their own people, let alone, their "Gazan Guests", is anyone's guess, particularly when most of the IMF money will most likely be "siphoned off"  by President El-Sisi and his minions.

But hey, Egyptian state accounting people will make the spending of this money look great, and as though that money is actually getting to the people who desperately need it..... on paper.  

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Yesterday, we detailed the leak of a wiretapped telephone conversation in which senior German officers discuss the use of German Taurus missiles, training, the capabilities of this system and the possibility of destroying the Crimean bridge.

Image removed.

They revealed many interesting facts. Embarrassing for the Germans, who have now launched an investigation...

As The FT reports, German chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised a full investigation after Russia published a recording of a phone call between senior German air force officers in which they appeared to discuss supplying missiles to Ukraine.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, Scholz described the incident as a “very serious affair”.

“It will be investigated very carefully, intensively and quickly,” he said.

“It is also necessary to do so.”

Politicians from parties in Scholz’s coalition expressed concern that Russia may have eavesdropped on other sensitive conversations, and that government communications may no longer be adequately protected.

The German defence ministry said:

“According to our assessment, a Luftwaffe conversation was tapped. We cannot say for sure whether changes were made to the recorded or transcribed version that is circulating on social media.”

Konstantin von Notz, a senior Green MP, said it must be swiftly established if the “eavesdropping scandal is a one-time event or a structural problem”.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the Bundestag defence committee, told the news agency RND that the Russians were trying to scare Scholz off from allowing the delivery of Taurus missiles.

But the cat is out of the bag.

Adding more color to what we already know, Peter Hanseler breaks down, via Voice From Russia, the full content of the leaked call and shows how the NATO states are already knee-deep in the Ukraine conflict as active warring parties.

Claire's Observations:  And Germany's ( and NATO'S) intel community, never saw this coming?!?

I am having a double face-palm, at velocity, upon reading this.

For Russia, there is no such thing as a "Frenemy"; I would have thought that the German and NATO elite in leadership, would have understood this a long time ago.

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On Sunday night, Congressional negotiators revealed a bill which will fund key parts of the government through the rest of the fiscal year which began in October.

The 1,050-page legislation sets a discretionary spending level of $1.66 trillion for FY24, which comes just days after lawmakers passed the fourth stopgap measure since Oct. 1 to keep the government funded a bit longer.

According to Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer's office, the bill "maintains the aggressive investments Democrats secured for American families, American workers, and America’s national defense."

House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement that "House Republicans secured key conservative policy victories, rejected left-wing proposals, and imposed sharp cuts to agencies and programs critical to the President Biden’s agenda."

But what neither of them mention is that the bill also nukes the entire Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve - which, at roughly 1 million barrels, is too small to matter on a national scale - but which could serve as a critical cache of energy in the event of another major disaster.

Claire's Observations;  Apparently, to become "vetted" as a Congressional Representative  on either side of the aisle, one must demonstrate a pathological and critical inability to think something through to its logical conclusion; this is a perfect case in point.

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Something is going on.

Saturday Night Live last night did a cold open attacking Joe Biden’s age. It wasn’t funny, but it was pretty brutal.

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Well, that escalated quickly.

I guess we’re just going to cancel the utopia?

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This year's Christmas presents could be sorted: scientists have invented a DVD-sized disc that can store millions of hours of video, enough for all your favorite movies and TV shows—and much more besides.

Current DVDs only have a storage capacity of about 4.5 GB, which can contain about 2 hours of video footage.

Now, however, researchers from China have developed a new type of disc that can hold up to a petabyte of data, the equivalent of more than 220,000 regular DVD discs, according to a new paper in the journal Nature.

The development could be great news for lovers of physical media—as just one of these "super-DVD"s could contain up to a million movies.

The new disc may be dangerous, however, as it could make it much too easy to binge-watch every episode of Gossip Girl for the fifth time.

Webmaster addition:  Sure will make backups easier for large amounts of data!

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In a huge development and absolute smoking gun revelation, the government of Germany has confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio recording file published by Russia's state-backed RT. The leak was first published by RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan, who described that she received it from Russian security officials.

It first appeared under the headline "Alleged audio of German officers discussing Crimean Bridge attack leaked" - as it featured top ranking Germany military officials in a private discussion of "a potential German operation to bomb the Crimean Bridge in Russia," as it was initially described by RT. Russian media is now openly admitting that the call was in fact intercepted by Russia. Moscow is now saying this shows "direct" German involvement in the war.

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The entire Maricopa County, Ariz., Board of Supervisors was driven out of a recent meeting by a cohort of We the People who served them for treason.

Michelle "Miki" Klann, who spoke directly to the board, reported that every last scoundrel on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors fled the room and "vacated their post" after citizens stormed the room and informed them about their personal liability in the 2020 election heist they oversaw.

(Fact check: A forensic audit found that Arizona's 2020 election results are based on systemic fraud, meaning Biden did not win in that state.)

"My name is Michelle Klann, and I'm here today to put you on public notice and to inform you that you are not our elected officials," Klann said to the board.

"None of you have ever signed an oath to the Republic of Arizona. Instead, you have signed an oath of office to a foreign corporation which means this is an act of insurrection."

Klann would continue by informing the board members that they do not have a proper bond carrying surety for their actions with regard to We the People.

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A proposed change to existing Kentucky law seeks to charge parents of transgender children with neglect and potentially remove children from their homes if they do not use restrooms that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The language of the bill itself doesn’t mention transgender children at all, but rather references the state code that currently exists regarding restrictions on restroom and locker room use in schools. For individuals who are not familiar with that state code, which is referred to as Senate Bill 150 and passed into law in March of last year, the changes would be easy to miss.

Legislative tracker and transgender activist Allison Chapman appears to be the first to have noticed the proposed changes to state law, posting about it on social media on Tuesday night.

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One of the basic rules of war is that you always keep two fronts going simultaneously. The first is the obvious battlefield. However, the second is communication. Suppose you DO NOT keep communication open through the back channels. In that case, there is NEVER the possibility of PEACE, and the war then becomes concluded only when one side is obliterated. This is what has taken place, and the demonizing of Putin is HIGHLY dangerous, for it shows there is no intention of peace. You cannot keep calling someone a piece of shit publicly and then expect the people to accept a reversal of that policy.

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The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza announced that the death toll of the Israeli aggression on Gaza has risen to 30,228 martyrs and 71,377 injuries since the seventh of last October.

The Ministry confirmed in a press statement on Friday that the Israeli occupation army committed 16 massacres against families in the Gaza Strip, claiming the lives of 193 people and injuring 920 others during the past 24 hours.

The Ministry pointed out that there are victims still under the rubble and on the roads, as Israeli occupation forces have been banning ambulance and civil defense crews from reaching them.

For 147 days in a row, the Israeli occupation army has been waging a genocidal war against civilians, mostly women and children in the beleaguered Gaza Strip, with US and European support.

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Well, it looks like the band’s back together. The CIA and the New York Times have teamed up yet again to pull a fast one on the American people. Sadly, this shouldn’t surprise anybody. After all, the CIA and the New York Times have been working together to gaslight the American people on a whole host of issues, including the infamous and debunked “Russia hoax.”

There’s a common misconception that the CIA’s job is to protect the US from foreign dangers. That’s a cute idea, but it’s not true. Obviously, the CIA has morphed into a law unto itself, and having a federal agency that operates outside of Congressional oversight cannot be allowed in the United States. Now, we’re learning that the CIA has been sharing top-secret intel with select journalists as part of a PR battle against GOP members in Congress pushing to cut back on Ukraine war funding. It’s like the CIA has gone full throttle against Republican lawmakers, once again proving US intelligence is weaponized and being used against anybody who dissents from the regime’s approved policies.

According to Mike Benz, this is the key paragraph from the New York Times CIA Ukraine piece that reveals, explicitly, why the CIA hand-selected the NYT to publish highly classified intelligence and invited hand-selected NYT journalists onto a secret CIA base: It was to pressure Republicans in Congress to keep funding Ukraine.

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US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has become the latest to add her voice to the growing chorus of Western officials calling for the seizure of Russia’s $300 billion in frozen foreign-exchange reserves for the benefit of Ukraine. This comes after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak penned an op-ed over the weekend in which he called for the West to be “bolder” in moving toward confiscating the assets.

Notwithstanding the reticence being displayed in some quarters of Europe and various admonitions that such an action would be both blatantly illegal and also detrimental to the integrity of the financial system, the idea seems to be taking on a momentum of its own, particularly in Washington and London. 

What we are seeing is a vivid example of the type of thinking that places perceived short-term gains ahead of a commitment to preserve the integrity of an institution that derives its potency precisely from widespread confidence in that integrity. It is also, as we will see, a manifestation of a particular type of paradoxical impulse that arises during times of momentous change.

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The Yemeni capital, Sanaa and other provinces witnessed mass rallies on Friday afternoon, in support of the Palestinian people, under the slogan “You Are Not Alone…Steadfast with Gaza.”

In a response to the call of Sayyed Abdul-Malik Badr al-Din al-Houthi, millions of Yemenis gathered in the mass rallies, affirming their steadfast stance with Gaza and their readiness to participate in the battle of ‘The Promised Conquest and Holy Jihad.

A statement was issued during the rallies reaffirming the continuation of demonstrations and marches in support of Palestine, as well as the continuation of military mobilization and training.

The statement praised the operations of the Yemeni Armed Forces, asserting that they will not stop until the aggression on Gaza ceases and the siege is lifted.

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The Palestinian Resistance has been engaged in heavy confrontations with Israeli occupation forces in al-Qarara area to the northeast of the city of Khan Younis, Al Mayadeen's correspondent reported on Friday. 

The Resistance has been intensely confronting occupation forces since 5 am on Friday in the southern Gaza Strip, according to our correspondent. Field sources confirmed that Israeli military rescue helicopters evacuated a number of casualties from al-Qarara. Concurrently, Israeli occupation forces attempted to infiltrate the eastern side of the area, attempting to evacuate a number of killed and wounded soldiers.

According to our sources, Israeli attack helicopters intervened and targeted the area in which Resistance fighters confronted the evacuation team after several of the Israeli troops were injured in the operation.

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Western forces have long been fighting on Ukraine's side, intelligence veteran Leonid Reshetnikov told Sputnik, commenting on the German military representatives' discussion about blasting the Crimean Bridge with Taurus missiles.

A recording of German military officers discussing a potential attack on the Crimean Bridge was released by Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT and Rossiya Segodnya, Sputnik's parent media group, on March 1.

Judging from the transcript, NATO soldiers from the UK, the US and France have been operating in the Ukraine combat zone for quite a while.

"A significant part of the weapons used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces is supplied from the West," Leonid Reshetnikov, a retired lieutenant general of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), told Sputnik.

"In addition, there is a considerable presence of Western intelligence operatives from NATO countries in Ukraine. They have long settled there, in Ukraine, even before 2014 - the intelligence services of the US, the UK, and also other countries."

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The American newspaper The Washington Post writes that Ukraine has become completely dependent on the military industry of Europe and the United States. In particular, we are talking about shells for artillery, expendable air defense systems and many other ammunition coming from abroad.

The article notes that "European countries are struggling to expand defense production to meet Ukraine's needs." At the same time, the military industry in previous years proceeded from the fact that large-scale orders could not be expected and based production plans accordingly.

The military-industrial complex of the United States has other difficulties, although it has much more substantial capacity and opportunities for marketing its products.

Moscow, of course, is also participating in the military industry race, achieving noticeable success here.

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The globalist agenda is making a bold move to silence free speech on the internet once and for all. While this effort is currently unfolding in Canada, it’s a fair bet that similar actions could be on the horizon for the US. Trudeau’s latest move is basically a blueprint for what could be unleashed stateside when the regime is ready. Just like in Canada, expect to see appeals about protecting kids and popular culture figures like Taylor Swift championing “democracy” as justifications for destroying your rights. What’s truly alarming is how many Americans will embrace this kind of tyranny. A huge section of our population seems thrilled to have Big Brother’s boot on their necks. This shift toward favoring “Big Brother’s” control is a concerning trend with the left, which used to fight against “The Man.” Constitutional lawyers are already raising the alarm about these developments in Canada, signaling a dire warning that freedom on the internet could be at stake for Canadians—and potentially, the rest of the world.

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John Ladd's phone is an archive of life on a ranch beside the Arizona border with Mexico.

He scrolls past photographs of handsome Red Angus and cross-bred Hereford-Brahman cattle, picture after picture of Donald Trump's 30ft border wall that spans about six-and-a-half miles of his land. Then he stops at an image of a tree.

'That's a rape tree,' he said, pointing out the women's clothes thrown into the thorny branches. 

'Almost all the women who come across get raped by their guides, who then they throw their underwear in the trees.'

The trees have been spotted up and down the border. Academics talk of them as warnings or trophies in the brutal symbolism of violent gangs. 

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The National Border Patrol Council has savagely mocked President Joe Biden days after he paid a visit to the southern border. 

The Council, which is the official union of the U.S. Border Patrol, funded and administered by Border Patrol agents, joked about how the president's itinerary would have been extremely tiring for the 81-year-old.

'Board AF1, take nap. Wake up in place called Brownsville. Read large teleprompter message, "It's all Trump's fault." 

'Board AF1, ask who people in green uniforms were, told they "strap" illegal aliens, express horror, take nap. Wake up, call a lid, hit beach, take nap,' the union tweeted coupled with a photo of Biden snoozing on the sands. 

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President Joe Biden could face growing backlash over his support for aid to Israel as efforts to get Democrats to vote ‘uncommitted’ in the presidential primaries ramp up heading into Super Tuesday when fifteen states and one territory hold contests next week.

It comes after the president received fierce condemnation from some Democrats in Michigan where more than 101,000 voters selected ‘uncommitted’ rather than cast a ballot for the president in the state’s primary as Israel wages war in Gaza

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