"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin

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The invention of nuclear weapons was an act of total insanity. If the massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons are not dismantled and destroyed, sooner or later they will destroy planet Earth.

We have survived so far because the Cuban Missile Crisis awoke President Kennedy and Soviet leader Khrushchev to the danger of distrust between nuclear powers. For the remainder of the 20th century Washington and Moscow worked to defuse tensions and to build transparency and trust. Sufficient success was achieved to avoid false indications from warning systems showing incoming ICBMs from resulting in the launch of nuclear war.

Today there is no trust. In the 21st century all of the arms agreements hammered out over the decades of the Cold War have been abandoned, first by Washington and then in response by the Kremlin. The Soviet collapse in 1991 gave rise to the neoconservative doctrine of US hegemony, an assertion of American unilateralism, a claim of American supremacy. Such an absurd and unrealistic claim is totally inconsistent with the existence of nuclear weapons.

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Israel's military announced Sunday it had withdrawn its forces from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, wrapping up a key phase in its ground offensive against the Hamas militant group and bringing its troop presence in the territory to one of the lowest levels since the six-month war began. But Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Sunday that troops were pulled out "to prepare for future missions, including... in Rafah". Read our blog to see how the day's events unfolded.

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Chinese Premier Li Qiang hosted US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Beijing on Sunday. Following the talks, both top officials said relations between the two nations were “stabilizing,” but a number of issues remained unresolved.

Yellen’s visit is the first high-profile meeting between the US and China since US President Joe Biden hosted his Chinese counterpart in California last November. While both sides have now expressed reserved optimism about improving ties, no specific breakthrough appears to have been reached during Yellen’s visit.

“While we have more to do, I believe that, over the past year, we have put our bilateral relationship on more stable footing,” she stated during discussions. Topping the secretary’s agenda were Chinese trade practices that allegedly put American workers and companies at an unfair disadvantage.

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Israel has announced the entry of more than 300 aid trucks into Gaza, the highest daily volume since its war on the besieged territory began six months ago.

But Monday’s delivery still falls far short of what the United Nations says is the minimum required to feed millions of people – most of them refugees – on the brink of starvation.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has indicated that Ukraine may ultimately have to compromise with Russia in order to bring an end to the brutal conflict. In an interview with the BBC, Stoltenberg said that Ukraine would have to decide what compromises they would be willing to make. “At the end of the day, it has to be Ukraine that decides what kind of compromises they’re willing to do, we need to enable them to be in a position where they actually achieve an acceptable result around the negotiating table,” he said. However, Stoltenberg also maintained that NATO would need to continue backing Ukraine into order to prevent future Russian aggression.
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A report produced by Oxford University and Imperial College London for the UK Government reveals that all airports will be ordered to close, eating beef and lamb will be made illegal, and construction of new buildings will not be permitted to meet the legal commitment of zero emissions by 2050.
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Shifts in carbon isotopes are said to prove that humans are altering the balance of the atmosphere and causing a climate 'emergency'. But new research dismisses human involvement as "non-discernible".
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Police Scotland “can’t cope” with a deluge of hate crime reports made under the SNP’s new law, frontline officers have claimed. David Threadgold, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, also said that officers remained confused about when charges should be made, because of inadequate training. Around 8,000 hate crime reports were made in the first week of the legislation coming into force, with Mr Threadgold warning that the law was being exploited to fuel personal and political vendettas. “Police Scotland have gone public and said that on every occasion, reports of hate crime will be investigated,” Mr Threadgold told the BBC. “That creates a situation where we simply cannot cope at the moment.“
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Apple is to chop more than 600 workers in a move likely related to the cancellation of several projects at the firm, including the company's self-driving car.
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India's Reserve Bank deputy governor has revealed that transaction volumes using the nation's central bank digital currency (CBDC) have trended downwards since December 2023 – and may even have been inflated by one-off uses of the currency. In that month – around one year into the pilot – the number of digital rupee transactions hit the Reserve Bank's (RBI) goal of a million CBDC transactions each day. The pace did not keep up, however, as the total number of transactions using the e-rupee stands at 22 million, revealed deputy governor T Rabi Sankar.
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Protecting your privacy online is hard. So hard, in fact, that even a top Israeli spy who managed to stay incognito for 20 years has found himself exposed after one basic error.

The spy is named Yossi Sariel allegedly heads Israel's Unit 8200 – a team of crack infosec experts comparable to the USA’s National Security Agency or the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters. Now he's been confirmed as the author of a 2021 book titled "The Human Machine Team" about the intelligence benefits of pairing human agents with advanced AI.

Sariel – who wrote the book under the oh-so-anonymous pen name “Brigadier General YS” – made a crucial mistake after an investigation by The Guardian which found an electronic copy of Sariel's book available on Amazon "included an anonymous email that can easily be traced to Sariel's name and Google account.”

The paper has since confirmed with Israeli Defense Force sources that the account was tied to Sariel, and noted multiple sources have confirmed him as the author.

Being outed after more than 20 years of anonymity isn't optimal for someone who's supposed to be a top spy, and the timing for Sariel couldn't be much worse.

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Get ready for a spectacular show: A total solar eclipse will occur above the U.S. on the afternoon of April 8.

Most Americans will be able to see it in some form, but the distance between your location and the path of totality will determine how much of the sun will be covered by the moon. Many places in the U.S. − Rochester, N.Y., Cleveland, and Austin, Texas, to name a few − will see a total eclipse, in which the sun is completely obscured. Other locations will see a partial eclipse. Search for your ZIP code below or select a major city to reveal the time, duration, peak and percentage of the eclipse in your area.

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Comment by Dee McLachlan

“…They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them…” (Link)

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Real threat or North Korean hype? The “hermit kingdom” says it has successfully test-fired a new intermediate-range hypersonic missile. The solid-fuel Hwasong-16B can be deployed more quickly than liquid-fuel variants.

The North appears to be moving away from less reliable and more vulnerable liquid-fueled rocket designs.

Will this beast carry a nuke warhead?

North Korean authorities released imagery and videos of the Hwasong-16B along with an official release a day after the launch. The country's leader, Kim Jong-un, attended the launch near Pyongyang; other senior officials were also present.

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What happens when one of the major political parties suggests the most modest of reforms to the benefits future Social Security beneficiaries will receive?

The other major political party goes ballistic.

Such were the atmospherics when the Republican Study Committee (RSC) played against the prevailing type with the GOP so far and issued a plan that included tweaking the retirement age.

According to the RSC plan, the changes are intended to “prevent Biden's cuts to Social Security.” Setting aside who would be responsible for any future benefits cuts – which are all but assured if no one does anything now to avert them — the plan attempts to cover its political bases as thoroughly as possible, noting that then-Sen. Joe Biden supported earlier tweaks to the Social Security system that raised the retirement age from 65 to 67 :

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A 64-year-old New Jersey man who operates a Trump RV was brutally beaten with a hammer on Friday and airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition.

Rocky Granata of Edison, a beloved father and grandfather, was well-known in the region and across the nation for his Trump RV.

Granata attended Trump rallies, traveled across the country in his Trump RV and sold merchandise.

Rocky Granata’s Trump RV

On Friday Rocky Granata was beaten with a sledgehammer and left with “significant injuries to his head.”

The suspect, Michael Gonzales, 36, was charged with attempted murder.

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At 6 a.m. on March 22, pro-Palestinian activists Said and Yasemin, who were asleep in their respective Berlin homes, were awakened by armed and masked police officers who broke down their doors at the same time. Berlin police then looked through their belongings and confiscated their electronic devices, including their phones. The simultaneous raid was to deter one from communicating with or warning the other.

In a series of posts on social media, Said said that this raid was the police’s third visit and he maintains that he is being targeted for his activism and that he did nothing wrong. “I am not okay,” he wrote, “Why is the German government trying everything possible to criminalize me? I have done nothing wrong. I make the German government and the media responsible for everything that might happen to me!” 

Yasemin tells me that she was targeted due to a social media video she made on the action against Israeli diplomat and ambassador of Israel to Germany, Ron Proser. “I explained why the activists are protesting Proser in my video, but the police [took that as evidence that] I was there.” Yasemin was not. 

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Recent startling revelations about organized crime in the European Union (EU) spotlight the extensive use of real estate for money laundering purposes by more than a third of criminal groups.

There are 821 highly dangerous criminal networks operating in the EU, comprising more than 25,000 individuals, according to a recent Europol report.

The report found that 34 percent of those crime rings have been active for over a decade, with 76 percent of networks operating across two to seven countries, highlighting the transnational nature of organized crime.

Europol stressed that 86 percent of these highly threatening organized crime syndicates use legal business structures (LBS) as part of their illicit activities. Many of them infiltrate existing firms at a high level or set up their own companies, with sectors like construction, hospitality and logistics particularly targeted for infiltration.

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The episode brought light to the violent tactics increasingly used by the country’s conscription officers as Ukraine’s desperate military continues to press gang draftees.

The story of a 14-year-old boy who was kidnapped at gunpoint by a group of conscription officers is going viral in Ukraine. The shocking incident took place last week in the Odessa oblast according to the website Bessarabia Info, which cited local department of social protection head Oksana Terzi.

The young teenager was reportedly walking alone in the village of Priozernoye to meet his girlfriend when a white minivan pulled up beside him. Four men wearing military uniforms and balaclavas emerged; one pressed a rifle against the boy’s temple while forcing him into the car.

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On April 8 and 9, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), often referred to as the World Court, will hold hearings on a case brought by Nicaragua against Germany. Managua is accusing Berlin of facilitating genocide and breaches of international law by Israel against Palestinians and seeks to end military aid to the Jewish state.

The outcome of the hearings is unpredictable. But this is clearly an important event that could have far-reaching consequences, for three reasons: First, this is the highest court of the United Nations. It has no independent capacity to enforce its rulings, but they carry political weight, whether in the short or long term. Second, while Israel is not directly present in the courtroom, its ongoing genocide in Gaza is at the core of the proceedings. Third, whichever way the ICJ ends up ruling, its decision will have implications for other countries, especially in the West, which have supported Israel and its assault.

Nicaragua’s main argument is not complicated: the UN’s 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (in short, Genocide Convention) codifies more than one offense. Under its terms, perpetrating a genocide – Article 3(a) – is only one way to commit a horrific crime. In addition, so is serving as an accomplice – Article 3(e). And, finally, all signatory states commit themselves not only not to be either perpetrators or accomplices, but they have also signed up to prevent and punish genocide – Article 1.

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A group of militants from the nationalist Azov Battalion (designated as a terrorist organization and outlawed in Russia) has been eliminated near Chasov Yar, Igor Kimakovsky, adviser to the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), told TASS.

"A large unit of the infamous Azov Battalion has been eliminated on the outskirts of Chasov Yar. Most of them were staying in residential buildings and were wiped out in their strongholds," he said.

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Ten blood-soaked years ago, on Easter Sunday 2014, I entered Syria’s fabled town of Maaloula with the heroes of the Syrian Arab Army and their Hezbollah allies. Along with the Christian leaders of Syria and Lebanon, we toured the wrecked churches and looted monasteries and some horrified priests kindly translated the graffiti of the NATO backed rebels which informed their readers that they got closer to God by hacking the heads off Christians, Shias and thousands of similar folk, who stood in their masters’ way.

As these scum had already perpetrated much worse crimes against young Christian girls in the surrounding Qalamoun Hills, such threats did not faze me or the Syrian and Lebanese heroes who had saturated the town in search of these savages.

Maaloula had always been a special town, a picturesque mountain town which, in peacetime, had been on every tour of Syria, as its inhabitants still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus and it was full to the brim of all interesting relics and historical curiosities, all of which NATO’s rebels either destroyed or looted and sold off in the swanky auction houses of London and similar NATO strongholds.

I had earlier visited the Shia Zaynab shrine in Damascus, along with a bus load of Iranians and sundry other Shias. As Zaynab is central to their religion, they quite naturally got quite emotional; it is what Shias do when they reminisce on their centuries of suffering.

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