"An ignorant man with lawyers is a danger to all society." -- Michael Rivero

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On March 13, U.S. lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill forcing TikTok’s foreign owner, ByteDance, to sell up or face a stateside ban. Its advocates claim the popular video-sharing app is a Chinese Communist Party-controlled national security threat that could be weaponized as a tool of surveillance and manipulation if it isn’t already. Yet, despite the anti-Beijing hysteria running wild, many haven’t swallowed the bait, with even some typically pliant mainstream outlets alleging a far darker rationale.

For a start, the ominous vision of TikTok as a CPC Trojan Horse is demonstrably absurd. While parent company ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing and was founded by local internet entrepreneurs, court filings, financial returns, official submissions to Congress, and even Chinese government documents show the company is 60% owned by foreign investors, including many in the U.S., while a fifth is in the hands of its own employees, including thousands of Americans.

Despite this, the monolithic narrative of a CPC-run spying app maliciously taking over the phones of young Western citizens has long abounded. In January, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi Chew was subject to relentless McCarthyite grilling by Republican Tom Cotton on his loyalties and relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. A visibly bemused Zi Chew repeatedly explained he was a patriotic Singaporean, married to a U.S. citizen. These inconvenient facts did not deter the Senator’s bullying, xenophobic interrogation.

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The terror attack in a Moscow suburb last week was indisputably orchestrated and enabled by Western powers. In many ways, there should be no surprise about this because the NATO proxy war against Russia was always essentially “unconventional” – or, more plainly, terroristic.

The timing of the move to deploy more outright acts of terrorism reflects the fact that the U.S.-led NATO proxy war in Ukraine is facing historic defeat, and hence Russia’s enemies are – by necessity – switching to unconventional terror tactics.

Only a week after the atrocity in which more than 140 people were shot dead by terrorist gunmen in a theater, it has been fairly well assessed who organized the mass murder of Russian citizens.

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Authored by Janice Hisle and Catherine Yang via The Epoch Times 

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images)

Monday’s dramatic bond reduction for former President Donald Trump did nothing to dissipate the dark cloud that his civil-fraud case has cast over New York business deals.

Although investors won’t publicly admit it, the case is having a chilling effect, said Charles Trzcinka, professor of finance at Indiana University-Bloomington.

If you talk to people in this market, they are very, very upset … and these are people who are neutral or even opposed to Trump,” Mr. Trzcinka told The Epoch Times. “They’re just angry about it.

In his role at the university, Mr. Trzcinka said he places students in the corporate lending market in New York, making him aware of trends in that sphere.

An appeals court’s decision to slash the bond by about 60 percent, reducing it to $175 million, still left a massive penalty intact while President Trump continues a legal challenge of Justice Arthur Engoron’s ruling.

Judge Engoron ruled that President Trump and his associates fraudulently overvalued their assets. But Mr. Trzcinka said anyone who thinks President Trump’s activities in that case were irregular or fraudulent may lack an understanding of typical New York business transactions.

A source familiar with the case explained to The Epoch Times that, normally, business-related cases are handled in the New York courts’ commercial division.

There, cases are decided by judges who have specific, “sophisticated” knowledge of commercial law and business practices.

But the case didn’t go that route because New York Attorney General Letitia James found a novel way to use New York’s anti-fraud law.

Researchers examined other alleged fraud cases in New York over a 70-year period and found the Trump case stands alone. The Trump Organization was the only company that confronted the possibility of being forced out of business despite no victim suffering major financial harm.

Because of Ms. James’ unusual application of the law, the case was channeled to a court that would rarely, if ever, handle business-related matters.

Thus, the source said, “This case proceeded in just a highly irregular fashion from the start.”

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The United States is set to significantly expand acquisitions of military grade explosives from Turkey in order to support efforts to expand American artillery production, following growing concerns regarding the serious depletion of domestic stockpiles. An expanded capacity for artillery production would allow the United States Washington to more sustainably arm Ukraine, as well as Israel which has expended munitions at considerable rates since October 2023, where currently U.S. domestic stockpiles have been critically depleted leaving Ukraine in particular very seriously outgunned. Explosives acquisitions from Turkey will follow increased dependence by Washington on its NATO ally to replenish munitions stockpiles and supply much needed propellants trinitrotoluene and nitroguanidine required to support arms manufacturing in the U.S. Both NATO members have been leading suppliers of military equipment to Ukraine, with Turkish drones hailed in the West in the initial weeks of the Russian-Ukrainian War, as a game changer before their severe performance limitations were revealed in combat. 

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The White House is touting work from Vice President Kamala Harris to combat "economic insecurity" by creating hundreds of thousands of "high quality jobs"—in northern Central America.

In a fact sheet released Monday, the White House provided an "update" on Harris's efforts to address the "root causes" of illegal immigration. One section, titled "Creating Opportunities," notes that "U.S. government support for as many as 23,000 private sector firms in northern Central America has helped create and sustain up to an estimated 250,000 jobs." The fact sheet goes on to tout U.S. taxpayer-funded vocational training and jobs summits for residents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

"Vice President Harris continues to lead the implementation of the Root Causes Strategy, which tackles the drivers of irregular migration," the sheet says. "These efforts provide hope and opportunity to the people of Central America, affirming that a secure and prosperous future lies in their home communities."

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The Crucifixion of Julian Assange – by Mr. Fish

Prosecutors representing the United States, whether by design or incompetence, refused — in the two-day hearing I attended in London in February — to provide guarantees that Julian Assange would be afforded First Amendment rights and would be spared the death penalty if extradited to the U.S. 

The inability to give these assurances all but guaranteed that the High Court — as it did on Tuesday — would allow Julian’s lawyers to appeal. Was this done to stall for time so that Julian would not be extradited until after the U.S. presidential election? Was it a delaying tactic to work out a plea deal? Julian’s lawyers and U.S. prosecutors are discussing this possibility. Was it careless legal work? Or was it to keep Julian locked in a high security prison until he collapses mentally and physically? 

If Julian is extradited, he will stand trial for allegedly violating 17 counts of the 1917 Espionage Act, with a potential sentence of 170 years, along with another charge for “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” carrying an additional five years.

The court will permit Julian to appeal minor technical points — his basic free speech rights must be honored, he cannot be discriminated against on the basis of his nationality and he cannot be under threat of the death penalty.

No new hearing will allow his lawyers to focus on the war crimes and corruption that WikiLeaks exposed. No new hearing will permit Julian to mount a public-interest defense. No new hearing will discuss the political persecution of a publisher who has not committed a crime.

The court, by asking the U.S. for assurances that Julian would be granted First Amendment rights in the U.S. courts and not be subject to the death penalty, offered the U.S. an easy out — give the guarantees and the appeal is rejected. 

It is hard to see how the U.S. can refuse the two-judge panel, composed of Dame Victoria Sharp and Justice Jeremy Johnson, which issued on Tuesday a 66-page judgment accompanied by a three-page court order and a four-page media briefing

The hearing in February was Julian’s last chance to request an appeal of the extradition decision made in 2022 by the then British home secretary, Priti Patel, and many of the rulings of District Judge Vanessa Baraitser in 2021

If Julian is denied an appeal, he can request an emergency stay of execution from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHRunder Rule 39, which is given in “exceptional circumstances” and “only where there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm.” But it is possible the British court could order Julian’s immediate extradition prior to a Rule 39 instruction, or decide to ignore a request from the ECtHR to allow Julian to have his case heard there.

Julian has been engaged in a legal battle for 15 years. It began in 2010 when WikiLeaks published classified military files from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — including footage showing a U.S. helicopter gunning down civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in Baghdad.

Claire's Observations:  Assange's "crime" was showing Americans, and the world, what the alleged "war on terror" was all about; the assassination of people with the temerity to be breathing, sitting on very valuable real estate because of its natural resources which  the US government wanted to claim for itself through a proxy government in several countries.

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Russian forces delivered a massive night strike by long-range precision weapons, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles against Ukrainian energy facilities and air defense sites over the past day in the special military operation in Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on Friday.

"Last night, the Russian Armed Forces delivered a combined strike by air-launched, seaborne and ground-based long-range precision weapons, including Kinzhal aero-ballistic hypersonic missiles, and also by unmanned aerial vehicles against energy facilities and air defense sites of the Ukrainian army. The goals of the strike were achieved. All the targets were struck," the ministry said in a statement.

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The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on March 29 that the Iranian-backed Houthis (Ansar Allah) launched four suicide drones at a coalition vessel and a U.S. warship in the Red Sea a day earlier.

The Houthi drones were engaged in “self defense,” the command said in a statement, without reporting any injuries or damage.

“It was determined these weapons presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region,” CENTCOM said. “These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for the U.S. Navy and merchant vessels.”

The Houthis have attacked dozens vessels affiliated with Israel or owned by the U.S. and the United Kingdom in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since last November in response to the Israeli war and siege on Gaza. In an attempt to deter the group, the American and British militaries have been bombing Yemen since January.

CENTCOM’s latest announcement came just a day after Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthis, mocked the U.S. and the UK for their failures to stop attacks from Yemen.

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Hezbollah announced on March 29 that it had shelled the headquarters of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) 91st Division and the military site of Jal al-Alam in support of the Palestinian people and resistance in the Gaza Strip as well as in response to two recent waves of Israeli strikes that targeted the Syrian capital, Damascus, and the governorate of Aleppo.

In two separate statements, the Lebanese group said that its fighters fired two Burkan heavy improvised rockets at the 91st Division headquarters, which is located within the Pranit barracks, as well as a salvo of Falaq heavy rockets at the Jal al-Alam site and nearby troop gatherings right on the border with Lebanon.

The announcement marked the first time Hezbollah, a close ally of the Damascus government, has launched an attack from Lebanon in response to Israeli strikes that targeted Syrian territory during the ongoing confrontation with the IDF which broke out last October on the backdrop of the Israeli war on Gaza.

Five fighters of Hezbollah were among more than 40 military personnel and civilians who were reportedly killed in the Israeli strikes that targeted Aleppo in the early morning. A day earlier, several strikes hit the southern outskirts of Damascus, wounding two civilians.

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A series of Israeli strikes hit the northern Syrian governorate of Aleppo early on March 29, claiming the lives of dozens of people.

A Syrian military official said in a statement to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) that a number of civilians and military personnel were killed after Israel and militant groups launched attacks against Aleppo.

The Israeli strikes targeted several areas in the countryside of Aleppo at about 1:45 a.m. local time [10:45 p.m. GMT], the unnamed official said, adding that the strikes coincided with drone attacks carried out from Idlib and western rural Aleppo by “terrorist group” targeting civilians in Aleppo and its surroundings.

However, the official did not mention a specific death toll or clarify whether the casualties were caused by the Israeli airstrikes or the attacks by militant groups.

“The aggression resulted in the martyrdom and injury of a number of civilians and military personnel and caused material losses to public and private property,” the official said.

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A series of Russian strikes with missiles and drones hit several thermal and hydro power plants in central and western Ukraine, according to the country’s power grid operator Ukrenergo and other official sources.

“During the night, the Russians struck again at energy facilities in a massive and combined attack,” Ukrenergo said on its official channel on the Telegram messaging app. “Thermal and hydroelectric power plants in the central and western regions were damaged.”

Explosions were reported in the regions of Ivano-Frankivsk, Khmelnytskyi and Lviv as well as the city of Dnipro as cruise missiles and suicide were spotted in Ukrainian air space.

Maksym Kozytskyi, head of Lviv Military Administration, said that two missiles damaged a critical infrastructure facility in the region.

In addition, regional officials in Dnipro said that Russian forces had attacked infrastructure in the Kamianske district near the city. Ukrainian energy minister German Galushchenko also said that power facilities in the regions of Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava and Cherkasy were attacked.

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Backlash against the Biden Administration’s Israel policy is growing in the US with polls showing that 55% of Americans oppose Israel’s actions in Gaza compared to 36% who approve—a near reversal of what Americans believed in November.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that it is Israel’s policy to allow as much humanitarian aid into Gaza as necessary, which aid agencies have said is false. And yesterday, the prime minister said that he wanted to allow food convoys into Gaza at the Rafah crossing, but that convoys were being raided and taken over by Hamas.

This week, Israel also abandoned talks with Hamas in Qatar in response to the US' decision to abstain from the UN Security Council's resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Just a day later, after the US stated that the resolution was “non-binding”, the US State Department said that Israel had agreed to reschedule the meeting on military plans for Gaza’s southern city of Rafah.

Esteban Carrillo, a Beirut-based Ecuadorian journalist and head of news for The Cradle, spoke to Sputnik’s Political Misfits on Thursday about Israel’s continued fight against Hamas. When asked by Sputnik’s John Kiriakou whether Israel’s war is for public consumption, or if it is to depopulate Gaza and settle it with Israelis, Carrillo suggested that it is “not possible to stomp out ideas with violence”.

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Ukraine’s blood-soaked summer counteroffensive to a great degree owed its spectacular failure to the Russian military's successful strategy of static defense. Furthermore, formidable minefields laid by Russian combat engineers proved impervious to Ukraine's Western-supplied modern military equipment.

Long gone are the days when US media reports were all bluster about the impending Ukrainian counteroffensive. That was last summer, and it fizzled out into huge manpower and hardware losses. Now that the tables have been turned, a different tune has been struck up.

As Russia’s Armed Forces press forward relentlessly, Ukraine is in a frantic scramble to make up for lost time and dig enough trenches, Politico has stated. By all accounts, Kiev has landed in this unenviable position because "warnings" from both Western analysts and Ukraine’s own opposition lawmakers about the need to dig in fell on deaf ears. The latter is apparently understandable, given that President Volodymyr Zelensky and his circle were much too busy tooting their own horn at the time.

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American First Legal (AFL) has taken a decisive step by issuing a demand letter to Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, as well as the Board of Directors and management team.

The missive accuses the company of breaching fiduciary duties and violating federal civil rights laws, specifically in relation to its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. AFL, a legal advocacy group led by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, contends that Disney's DEI programs have adversely impacted the company's value.

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Flying Bats FC, an Australian soccer team, sparked controversy on social media recently when its squad, featuring five transgender players, dominated a women's preseason tournament.

The team clinched the Beryl Ackroyd Cup final with a 4-0 victory over the Macquarie Dragons and was awarded a $1,000 prize, as reported by news.au.com. Throughout the four-week tournament, Flying Bats FC remained undefeated and even secured a resounding 10-0 win in one of the matches.

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Chicago Illinois used to be a shiny toy. Soft’ survey data has been a bloodbath this week with regional Fed surveys all slumping and this morning’s Chicago PMI uglier than all expectations.
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