Earlier this month, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees named eight commissioners who will review President Joe Biden’s National Defense Strategy and provide recommendations for its implementation.
But the Commission on the National Defense Strategy, which is tasked with “examin[ing] the assumptions, objectives, defense investments, force posture and structure, operational concepts, and military risks of the NDS,” according to the Armed Services Committees, is largely comprised of individuals with financial ties to the weapons industry and U.S. government contractors, raising questions about whether the commission will take a critical eye to contractors who receive $400 billion of the $858 billion FY2023 defense budget.
The potential conflicts of interest start at the very top of the eight-person commission. The chair of the commission, former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), sits on the board of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications firm that was awarded a seven-year $738.5 million contract with the Department of Defense in 2019.
“Iridium and its Board members follow Iridium’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and all rules and regulations applicable to dealings with the U.S. government,” Iridium spokesman Jordan Hassin told Responsible Statecraft.
Punchbowl News reports that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is planning a trip to Taiwan, which will be yet another incendiary provocation against Beijing if it occurs. The previous House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, sparked a significant escalation in hostilities with her visit last year, the consequences of which are still reverberating today.
Antiwar's Dave DeCamp explains:
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was viewed in Beijing as a major provocation, and it sparked the largest-ever Chinese military drills around the island. The exercises included China firing missiles over Taiwan and simulating a blockade of the island, both unprecedented actions.
China has kept up the military pressure on Taiwan since Pelosi’s visit, and its warplanes regularly now cross the median line, an informal barrier that divides the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Before Pelosi’s trip, China barely crossed the line. Now, it’s an almost-daily occurrence.
Ben Gvir sparked a diplomatic storm between Israel and its Arab allies and neighbours when the extremist politician stormed the compound earlier in January.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited King Abdullah in Amman on Tuesday to reassure the monarch that the status quo at the Jerusalem holy site, which Jordan is the custodian of, will be maintained.
Ben Gvir said that despite the promises Netanyahu made to the king, he will continue to raid the holy site.
"I do not conduct my policy regarding the Temple Mount according to the policy of the Jordanian government," he told the Israeli Kan broadcaster.
On the afternoon of January 10, Van Bawi Mang, a member of an armed resistance group fighting against the Myanmar military, was resting in his barracks at a camp on the country’s northwestern border with India when a loud explosion jolted him back to the reality of war.
He scrambled into a nearby ditch as jet fighters flew overhead, glass shattering with the reverberation of the falling bombs.
The People’s Liberation Army has ramped up combat patrols around Taiwan to deter Taipei from boosting defence ties with Washington, but observers warned Beijing’s increasing intimidation could cause backlash.
The PLA has sent more than 400 aircraft sorties and 80 vessels to carry out operations near Taiwan since Washington approved increased military aid for the island late last month, according to data released by Taiwan’s defence ministry.
The situation began to escalate on December 25, when 71 aircraft and seven vessels from the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command, which oversees the Taiwan Strait, kicked off a joint combat operation in the air and waters around Taiwan.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday one of its hypersonic-missile carrying frigates had conducted “hypersonic missile exercises” in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean.
The frigate Admiral Gorshkov tested the strike capabilities of Russia’s much-hyped Zircon hypersonic missile in the western Atlantic Ocean, according to a statement released by the ministry, using “computer simulation” exercises.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the development of the hypersonic Zircon (or Tsirkon) missiles back in 2019 when he said the missiles have a top speed of mach 9 (or nine times the speed of sound) and have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). The missiles, Putin said, “can hit navy or land targets.”
“In accordance with the training situation, the frigate practiced arranging [a] Tsirkon hypersonic missile strike against a maritime target at a distance over 900 kilometers away,” Russia’s defense ministry said in its statement about the exercise.
It did not say it had launched a missile.
Yes, ChatGPT understands code, can write code, and can even help developers debug their code. This was previously unthinkable, and compared to previous AI text generation tools ChatGPT just seems to get it.
Billions of dollars worth of U.S. weapons are on the negotiating table between Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and Afghanistan’s Taliban government, according to at least one insider.
Presidentish Joe Biden’s bungled bugout from Afghanistan resulted in a windfall for the new radical Islamic government, including artillery, attack helicopters, and thousands of HUMVEES, machine guns, radios — all left behind as our orderly withdrawal degenerated into a rout.
The Department of Defense estimates the total value of the gear Biden left behind at a whopping $7.12 billion, and now Putin is reportedly offering to buy whatever he and the battered Russian Army need.
New research by top US government scientists has found that people exposed to the widely used weed killing chemical glyphosate have biomarkers in their urine linked to the development of cancer and other diseases.
The study, published last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, measured glyphosate levels in the urine of farmers and other study participants and determined that the presence of high levels of the pesticide were associated with signs of a reaction in the body called oxidative stress, a condition that causes damage to DNA. Oxidative stress is considered by health experts as a key characteristic of carcinogens.
The authors of the paper – 10 scientists with the National Institutes of Health and two from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – concluded that their study “contributes to the weight of evidence supporting an association between glyphosate exposure and oxidative stress in humans.” They also noted that “accumulating evidence supports the role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of hematologic cancers,” such as lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia.
“Oxidative stress is not something you want to have,” said Linda Birnbaum, a toxicologist and former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. “This study increases our understanding that glyphosate has the potential to cause cancer.”
The study findings come after the CDC reported last year that more than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults contained glyphosate. The CDC reported that out of 2,310 urine samples taken from a group of Americans intended to be representative of the US population, 1,885 were laced with detectable traces of glyphosate.
Bees are likely to be at high risk from exposure to glyphosate, the most widely used weedkiller in the world, via contaminated wildflower nectar and pollen after pre-harvest spraying (desiccation), according to new research from Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University scientists in Ireland.
Glyphosate is the most frequently used weedkiller within the European Union and is also very common in other parts of the world. The residues the Irish scientists found in nectar in this study exceeded the European maximum permitted levels of glyphosate in honey and honey bee products, which suggests they could be harmful to honeybees and those eating the honey.
In an article published here in November 2018, I referred to the statement of the UK representative of a UN organisation named the International, Impartial, Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011.
I will repeat that statement because it is relevant to the current situation in Syria. That person stated,
“We must demonstrate that those who have committed the most serious crimes of international concern can have no place to hide. There must be no impunity for the horrendous acts taking place on a daily basis in Syria. There must be justice for the victims.”
The UK representative said this without any sense of irony, without any sense of shame, for, of course, it is the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and their gang who have committed war crimes, and crimes against humanity beyond number in Syria since they instigated the uprisings against the government of Syria, beginning in 2011, supported their allied terrorists groups to attack Syrian armed forces and civilians, and imposed their illegal sanctions on the people of Syria.
The history of the war against Syria by the US and UK, Israel and their allies is well-known, the cruel sanctions, the aerial bombings, the missile attacks, the assassinations, the torture, the illegal occupation of the Golan Heights by Israel with US support, and, finally, the US invasion of Syria that began in 2015 with US special forces raids into its territory on a number of occasions that year and 2016 and the formal entry of US forces on March 8, 2017. Their invasion has continued to this day.
A recent update to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) electrocardiogram (EKG) test limits for pilots has some aviation and medical experts questioning if the FAA’s move is concerned that COVID-19 vaccine injuries may be contributing to an ongoing shortage of pilots.
The USFF and some vaccine safety advocates suggested the FAA revised the limits because airlines’ vaccine mandates, which some argued violated FAA regulations, resulted in a significant number of pilots sustaining adverse events.
The revelations surfaced amid claims the FAA did not investigate multiple cases of vaccine-injured pilots, including incidents where disaster nearly occurred, and that there is increasing demand for unvaccinated pilots.
Some critics called for FAA officials to resign, alleging the vaccines endangered the health of pilots and the public.
‘COVID is Going to be a Cash Cow for Us’ … ‘That is Not What We Say to the Public’ … ‘People Won’t Like That’ … ‘Don’t Tell Anyone’
An Idaho police department determined that "White Power" graffiti found at a local high school was not an act of hate, but an "act of intimidation" between two "rival Hispanic criminal street gangs."
"At this time, detectives no longer believe the incident to be motivated by hate but rather an act of intimidation between two rival Hispanic criminal street gangs from Caldwell," the Caldwell Police Department said on Facebook.
"Detectives are basing this off of evidence, video, and other factors discovered in the course of the investigation."
In a brutal assault on the Jenin refugee camp Thursday morning, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians and injured over a dozen others, making it the deadliest day for Palestinians in 2023, and one of the single deadliest raids in the West Bank in years.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH), among those killed was an “elderly” woman identified as Magda Obaid, 60. Two of the others killed were identified as Saeb Izreiqi, 24, and Izzidin Salahat, 26.
The ministry reported that more than 20 people were injured, including four in critical condition. Among the injuries were gunshot wounds to the chest, abdomen, and lower extremities.
The use of the word apartheid to describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinians just keeps growing. David Rothkopf, the former editor of Foreign Policy, baldly states that Israel is an apartheid state in a piece published by Haaretz last weekend.
“Americans once boasted that our ally Israel was the Middle East’s only democracy. Now it is an apartheid state with a government actively working to roll back basic democratic rights and protections. American values like tolerance and the celebration of diversity are ones the current Israeli government rejects…”
Rothkopf has described Israel as an apartheid state for two years, but this latest article in Israel’s leading newspaper is an appeal to “Bibi,” as Rothkopf calls Netanyahu, to avoid a rupture with the U.S. If the rightwing government goes further in its crackdowns on civil rights and Palestinian subjects, Rothkopf warns, it could “have direct, immediate, negative consequences for the U.S.-Israel relationship including the provision of aid.”
The broad effort to silence Palestinians and to protect Israel from criticism has been underway for some time. Lawfare, as it’s termed by the people who wage it, is a sibling to hasbara, which is the squat cousin to plain old lobbying. The fight is unfolding around the first amendment in state legislatures and courts around the country and it’s ever-present at institutions of higher learning. It’s a contest which is simultaneously classically American – speech versus speech – and unAmerican: the defense of apartheid among free people. And it’s one that will likely only grow in intensity as a new, radical government in Israel amplifies its abuses of Palestinians. People here should take note: American values are on the line. American institutions are the battlefield.
This country is a special place. I write that as a Palestinian refugee who arrived here as a child and became a citizen. In the country of my birth, I don’t count for much: I am a Palestinian in the Jewish State. As Human Rights Watch and many others have documented, Israel has adopted an apartheid form of government. Not unlike South Africa before it, Israel grants some indigenous people (Palestinians) limited self rule while Jews exercise total sovereignty. Separate roads, separate rights, separate legal systems governing separate races to keep them apart – it’s a textbook case of an Afrikaner innovation.
In a new and dangerous development, Zionist groups are moving more aggressively than in the past to ban criticism of Israel on campuses by deeming it antisemitic. One tactic deployed by such groups is to create assessment reports claiming dubiously that Jewish students feel uncomfortable about anti-Zionist activities on campus and that those activities should in turn be prohibited.
In this context, Zionist groups are asking for the application of identity-based protections (echoing existing protections for race, ethnicity, and gender identity) to Zionist political belief. This would enable them to claim that challenging that political belief constitutes “discrimination” — a position that runs contrary to established legal and constitutional interpretations of discrimination. To adopt any such recommendations would not only violate the free speech rights of students and faculty but would also render Jewish concerns unjustifiably exceptional by placing them above those of other racialized and/or marginalized social groups.
San Francisco State University (SFSU), a public university with a long history of attempting to silence Palestinian speech and scholarship, recently released such an assessment report to the public. The SFSU Campus Climate Assessment Report epitomizes the use of flawed methodology to assess the “Jewish Campus Climate” in order to produce “data” to confirm its preconceived assumptions that antisemitism is alive and well on campus and that Jewish students are ever more vulnerable to it. SFSU commissioned two virulent Zionist groups, Hillel International and the Academic Engagement Network (AEN), to conduct the assessment survey, the results of which were published in a memo in October 2022.
The film opens by showing the beauty of pre-Zionist rural Palestine. The film was shot in Jordan, where the landscape is very similar. We see Farha in her village, we meet her father and uncle, and it seems like what one would expect in a Palestinian village in pre-Zionist Palestine. And yet, I could not help feeling that something terrible was brewing. Maybe because I know all too well what had happened to Palestinians in 1947- 48, how the ethnic cleansing campaign had caught most Palestinians by surprise. Maybe because of the countless stories I had heard of how the Zionist assault, like an unexpected storm, came suddenly, violently, and disrupted daily lives and destroyed plans that people had for themselves and their children.
Without giving away too much of the movie, it gives us a glimpse, a short moment if you will, of the personal story of Farha the girl. We see it described in some detail. How her ambitions contrasted with the old traditions of a Palestinian village, how her father, the Mukhtar of the village played by my friend Ashraf Barhom, needs to make an important decision about his daughter and about the future of the community his family has led for generations. Farha has no mother and up to this point the movie is quite innocent and lovely.
Early on the morning of May 2, 1945, General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8thGuards Army, accepted the surrender of the German garrison of Berlin.
Two days prior, soldiers from the 150th Rifle Division, part of the Soviet 5th Shock Army, had raised the victory banner of the Red Army over the Reichstag. An hour after the banner went up, Adolf Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, committed suicide in his study inside the Furhrerbunker.
Chuikov, the hero of Stalingrad whose battered 62nd Army was renamed the 8th Guards Army in honor of their victory in holding that city in the face of a massive German onslaught, had led his troops into the heart of the Nazi capital, battling stubborn Nazi resistance in the Tiergarten district of Berlin, where the den of the Nazi beast was located. The Soviet general was rewarded for the courage and sacrifice of his soldiers by being in position to accept the German surrender.
Some California politicos are proposing an additional “wealth tax” on the state’s richest residents.
And while many of you will laugh at my pain, the Democrats want this tax enacted nationally…so it concerns you, too.
Assemblyman Alex Lee, a progressive Democrat from San Jose, filed legislation that would tax an extra 1.5% on Californians with a worldwide net worth of more than $1 billion starting January of 2024, and 1% for those making more than $5o million starting in 2026.
Lee’s proposal aims to tax assets such as stocks and bonds that can skyrocket in value without incurring taxes until they’re sold. He said the tax would apply to the top .1% of California earners and could generate about $22 billion.
“For far too long, we’ve allowed income inequality to deepen and fester in this state and this country while the rich get richer and the middle class shrinks behind,” Lee said Monday.
The legislation is part of a multi-state effort from progressive lawmakers across the country who say the nation’s top earners need to pay their fair share.
The proposal includes an “exit tax,” dings former Californians even years after leaving the state and moving elsewhere.
Exit taxes aren’t new in California. But this bill also includes provisions to create contractual claims tied to the assets of a wealthy taxpayer who doesn’t have the cash to pay their annual wealth tax bill because most of their assets aren’t easily turned into cash. This claim would require the taxpayer to make annual filings with California’s Franchise Tax Board and eventually pay the wealth taxes owed, even if they’ve moved to another state.