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Bucha’s Atrocities Are Not Russia’s First. They Must Be the Last

Retreating soldiers are leaving behind evidence of brutal civilian killings. Absent further action to make this war too costly for the Kremlin, this will not be a one-off......»»

Category: topSource: washpostApr 4th, 2022

A separatist fighter reportedly told his wife that Russian troops are war criminals and used a slur to call them morons

In a purported phone call between a Russian-backed separatist and his wife, the fighter describes chaos and war crimes among Russian soldiers. Russian soldiers walks along a street in Mariupol on April 12, 2022.Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images) A Russian-backed separatist fighter reportedly trashed Putin's troops in a call with his wife.  Ukraine's military intelligence released on Thursday what it said was a phone call between the two.  Russian troops have been accused of war crimes and other atrocities since the war's early days. A Russian-backed separatist fighter reportedly told his wife that President Vladimir Putin's troops are war criminals and used a slur for disabled people to call them imbeciles. Ukraine's military intelligence uploaded a video to YouTube on Thursday of what it alleged was a phone conversation between a soldier from the Moscow-backed and self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and his wife. During the phone call, the soldier describes disorganization and chaos among the Russian soldiers, using a slur to call Putin's forces morons and comparing soldier infighting to those who mutinied during World War I. "Like during the war on Potemkin, in the night, they had support come in to help them, and they started firing on themselves, Russians firing on Russians, destroying themselves," he says. The separatist also purportedly blasts Russian military generals for not understanding the situation on the ground."In short, they fucked us for everything," the fighter reportedly says.The separatist fighter also complains that Russian forces aren't allowing them to rotate off the front lines. "I just want them to get us out of here," he said, adding that he thinks the Russians aren't allowing soldiers off the front lines because they're afraid they'll desert and never return."Nobody is going home, because they won't fucking come back," he said. "And mostly, they are right, because even the guy from the 33rd regiment said, 'this is a one-way ticket, I will leave and not come back.' "Russian troops have been accused by Ukrainian officials and Western states of committing war crimes and other atrocities against civilians since the war's early days. Throughout the four-month-long conflict, civilians, journalists, and officials have documented and reported instances where Russian troops have directly targeted Ukrainian civilians with their brutality.Among the horrors are summary executions and raping of civilians, as well as the indiscriminate bombing of residential areas and hospitals. Ukraine and the West have vowed to prosecute any alleged war crimes.  The soldier's wife is heard in the phone call saying, "the rapes and everything happened there in Ukraine was done by the Russians," but explains that some people say the Russians aren't capable of such a thing. "They are capable of anything," the soldier replies. Translations by Nikita Angarski.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 1st, 2022

Zelenskyy says Russia bombed a shopping mall because seeing Ukrainians try to live a normal life made it ‘angry’

Russian missiles hit a shopping mall in Kremenchuk with more than 1,000 shoppers inside. At least 18 people were killed, the region's governor said. Ukrainian firefighters at a shopping center burned after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, on June 28, 2022.AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky Russia bombed a Ukrainian mall as it was "angry" at people trying to live a normal life, Zelenskyy said. More than 1,000 people were inside during the strike, and at least 18 people are dead, officials said. Zelenskyy said the mall posed "no threat to the Russian army" and had "no strategic value." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia fatally a shopping center because it was "angry" that Ukrainians were trying to live a normal life.Russian missiles hit a shopping mall in Kremenchuk on Monday that had more than 1,000 shoppers inside.Dmytro Lunin, the region's governor, said on Telegram on Tuesday morning at least 18 people were killed.Zelenskyy said in a Tuesday Telegram post that Russia was sabotaging "people's attempts to live a normal life, which make the occupiers so angry."He said the mall had been "no threat to the Russian army" and had "no strategic value."He also called the missile strikes "one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history."Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said Russia's military has been "systematically shelling civilian infrastructure with the aim to scare people, to kill people, to bring terror to our cities and villages," the Associated Press reported.She said the attack proved that Ukrainians should expect an attack from Russia "every minute."Meanwhile, Russia's deputy representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, baselessly claimed there were "many inconsistencies" in reports about Kremenchuk and suggested it was a Ukrainian hoax, as it did with the Bucha atrocities, the Economist correspondent Oliver Carroll reported.Russia has denied targeting civilian infrastructure, despite evidence showing multiple Ukrainian schools, hospitals, kindergartens, and other civilian buildings being repeatedly hit by Russia. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 28th, 2022

"Russia needs to be defeated": Russian socialists in exile say Putin has to be defeated in Ukraine

Speaking with Insider, left-wing activists Ilya Matveev and Ilya Budraitskis said Russia's invasion of Ukraine destroyed their country, too. President Vladimir Putin looks on during the Victory Day military parade marking the 77th anniversary of the end of World War II in Moscow, on May 9, 2022.Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP Ilya Matveev and Ilya Budraitskis are socialist activists from Russia. They fled the country weeks after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. For the good of Ukraine — and Russia — they argue that Vladimir Putin cannot be allowed to win. Over coffee in a bustling Eurasian neighborhood full of cafés, bars, delivery drivers on mopeds, and scores of cigarette-smoking hipsters, Ilya Matveev — a democratic socialist and academic — said he had come to terms with the fact that he may have to spend the rest of his life in exile here or in one of the handful of other places currently open to Russian expats.He also knows that he will be hated — not just by nationalists in the country he fled, but by the victims of a war that he himself opposes."How can you create anything besides hatred after what Russia did?" Matveev asked. Maybe the hate won't last forever, but if there ever is peace, there will also be loathing, with memories having been created that will last generations. "If Ukrainians don't like me," he said, "it's perfectly understandable."In the wake of the Bucha massacre, where dozens of unarmed civilians were executed by Russian forces, and the bombing and killing of more than 600 men, women, and children sheltering in a Mariupol theater, there will be no easy postwar reconciliation."I feel a lot of shame," Matveev, in his early 30s and wearing round glasses with clear frames, said in an interview. "Maybe I'm not personally responsible for the war, but when I look at these atrocities — that definitely happened — I'm very ashamed of Russian soldiers, of Russian everything."Even acknowledging that what Moscow is waging in Ukraine is indeed a "war" is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in Russia. It's why Matveev — an associate dean for international relations at the North-West Academy for Public Administration in St. Petersburg, and a founder of the Openleft.ru socialist website — left a country that he loved for a land he doesn't know. Vladimir Putin's government had long been repressive, jailing and assassinating its opposition, but after the February invasion it became intolerable for liberals, leftists, and anyone else who would not remain silent as their homeland became an international pariah."I'm feeling awful because my country is destroyed in every sense possible," Matveev said. Cultural and academic exchanges are a thing of the past, with Russia turning inward on the orders of those at the top, extinguishing hope that an open society could be built from the bottom up. "It's just the destruction of everything."It's impossible to say how many other Russians are mortified by their country's war on its neighbor. What is known is that there was an uptick in Russians leaving the country this year. Most are not antiwar socialist dissidents but driven by concerns about their economic prospects under a pariah regime.Even abroad, Russians who spoke to Insider did not always feel comfortable sharing their opinions on the record. Some, after all, may wish to return. Even the outspoken, like Matveev, remain cautious; he asked that his host country not be revealed, wishing to avoid drawing attention to the fact it's hosting anti-Putin activists.What unites all in the Russian diaspora is that they had the means to leave, something not available to the vast majority of those living under the Putin regime and suffering under sanctions for a war they cannot stop.A necessary evilAs a leftist and a Russian, Matveev is adamant that the masses are not to blame for a war launched by one man. He takes no pleasure in seeing the pain imposed by broad sanctions that have tanked the economy and indirectly contributed to shortages of things like medicine.Recognizing the privilege of living abroad, "I'm not going to cheer that," he said.At the same time, "I cannot even call for the lifting of sanctions," he said, "because I think they can be effective." What hurts the economy also hurts Russia's military-industrial complex, potentially compelling an early end to the war effort in Ukraine.And Matveev is clear: His country needs to lose."Russia needs to be defeated, basically," he said.On this count, Russia's democratic left finds itself more anti-Moscow than some other socialists in the United States and Western Europe, where the wisdom of Noam Chomsky — the former MIT linguist who argues the US aimed to "draw the Russians into Ukraine" and is now intentionally prolonging the conflict — is sometimes given more airtime than the perspective of those in Kyiv or Moscow."Most of the leftists were wrong on this," Matveev said. Chomsky, for example, dismissed concerns about an imminent invasion as an "annual media event," an argument echoed by his anti-imperialist fellow travelers. "And they are still wrong on this," Matveev continued, "because they cannot understand Russian imperialism. They don't understand there is imperialism outside the West. They just reject this idea."This manifests itself in demands that Ukraine, viewed as a mere proxy for US power, be made to effectively surrender in order to stop the war. But ceding territory and laying down arms at this point means "ethnic cleansing," Matveev said — the elimination of any shred of Ukrainian identity in lands seized by Russian forces. For Ukrainians, the fight is existential, "a nightmare scenario"; on the other hand, he said, "the worst thing that will happen for Russia is that it just goes back to its borders."Confused and in exileOpenly agitating against the government is not possible in today's Russia. That, in some ways, has eased some Russians' transition to the opposition abroad. There, at least, they can write and publish what they really thinks.Until recently, Ilya Budraitskis, a stocky, left-wing political writer in his 40s, was based in Moscow. In 2015, in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin's support for armed insurrection in east Ukraine, he warned the left abroad that his country was as imperialist as Washington.Even so, "I didn't believe until the last moment that this invasion was possible, because it was clear that it's such a stupid plan," he said, speaking to Insider thousands of miles from home in a location that he asked not be named.Budraitskis — like Matveev — has joined the Russian diaspora. As with the invasion he did not see coming, he's still coming to terms with his new reality and the possibility he will never go back to the place he was born."Little bit confused," he said, repeating the words to himself, of his new life as an expatriate, one where he still faces the brunt of sanctions in the form of banks being hesitant to open an account for him. He blames the lack of any dissenting voices around Putin for the quagmire in Ukraine that also served to push him and others out of Russia."One old man is the only powerful political institution," he said. "The system is this man, and no one around him is [able] to balance his decisions in any way."The point of propaganda in modern Russia, he argued, is not to rally people behind a government whose actions they cannot influence. It's more "psychotherapy," Budraitskis explained — a state-sponsored coping mechanism, minimizing cognitive dissonance by fashioning reality to something more bearable, so at least the masses have a rationale to help them sleep at night.There is, indeed, not much else that a Russian can do within Russia other than to keep their head down and try to improve their own life (although resistance persists: someone has been setting fire to military-recruitment offices)."People sort of feel — and it is proved to them by their material conditions — that they cannot do anything. Whatever they do, wherever they go, if they try to protest and do something, to organize or whatever, it doesn't really work," Budraitskis said. Especially in more remote regions of the country, far from Moscow and St. Petersburg, there are few prospects and less hope."And these people, they're not so much supportive of either Putin or the war. It's just their practice, their everyday life, that tells them nothing is going to change — and they've never seen any change in their lives," Budraitskis said.He's skeptical of economy-wide sanctions, not seeing the pain inflicted on those Russians as contributing to the end of a war. But he does believe that for the sake of Ukraine as well as his own country — and for others who fear they are targets for Russian expansionism — there can be no victory for Moscow."To end the regime," he said, "there should be some defeat."Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.comRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 27th, 2022

Plug Power bought a company for $123 million. That investment is about to become its biggest business

"One of the reasons the sales funnel for electrolyzers continues to grow is because of the atrocities that are happening in Ukraine," says Plug Power chief executive Marsh......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJun 26th, 2022

Vatican praises US Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade, says it "challenges the whole world"

The Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life has praised the Supreme Court for overturning Roe v Wade, but calls for support for mothers. Pope Francis holds his homily during the Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on April 16, 2022 in Vatican City, Vatican.Franco Origlia/Getty Images The Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life praised the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade.  In a statement, they said this change "challenges the whole world." It called for better sex education and support for mothers to enable them to keep their children.  The Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life has praised the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade which protected abortion rights for women. They also called that legislation ensures that those giving birth are given the support needed to keep and care for their children. In a statement released on Twitter, the Catholic organization said "The fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world."—Pontifical Academy Life (@PontAcadLife) June 24, 2022 They also called for sexual education, accessible healthcare, and support for "mothers, couples, and the unborn child that involve the whole community, encouraging the possibility for mothers in difficulty to carry on with the pregnancy." Pope Francis has previously compared abortion to the atrocities of Nazi Germany, to hiring "a hitman to resolve a problem," and has said it is akin to "throwing life away."President Joe Biden, who is a Catholic, has condemned the Supreme Court's ruling and has called for the 1973 ruling to be reinstated. "Let me be very clear and unambiguous: The only way we can secure a women's right to choose, the balance that existed, is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law," the President said. "No executive action from the president can do that." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 25th, 2022

Ukraine War Blows Up EU"s Superpower Delusion

Ukraine War Blows Up EU's Superpower Delusion Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute, The leaders of France, Germany and Italy have jointly visited Ukraine in an attempt to present a unified European front regarding the Russia-Ukraine war. The one-day visit was long on rhetoric but short on substance: European unity remains elusive. When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the European Union responded the following day with a package of unprecedented economic sanctions aimed at isolating Russia. The EU, which was praised for displaying "determination, unity and speed" in its response to Putin, was said to be facing a "transformative moment" that would allow the bloc to become a "geostrategic actor" on the global stage. An observer claimed that the EU had become "a top geopolitical protagonist" and that Europe "discovered that it's a superpower." On March 21, less than a month after Russia invaded Ukraine, European officials announced an ambitious plan for the EU to achieve "strategic autonomy" aimed at placing the 27-member bloc on equal footing with China and the United States. The implicit objective was to enable a "sovereign" EU to act independently of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in matters of defense and security. That plan is now in shambles. As the war has dragged on, European unity has collapsed and efforts to transform the European Union into a European superstate — a United States of Europe — have been exposed for what they are: delusions of grandeur. The EU's largest member states — France and Germany — have sought to appease Putin at the expense of Ukrainian sovereignty. French President Emmanuel Macron, the strongest backer of European strategic autonomy, insists that Putin should not be "humiliated" and has even called on Ukraine to make territorial concessions to help the Russian dictator save face. Meanwhile, German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz, for reasons that remain unclear, has stubbornly refused to supply Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression. The Franco-German appeasement has infuriated most Central and Eastern European members of the EU and NATO. They rightly fear that if Putin's imperial pretensions are not stopped in Ukraine, he will set his sights next on them. Russian revanchism, and the EU's divided response, has produced a clear shift in the bloc's balance of power on security matters. France and Germany have long arrogated to themselves de facto leadership of the EU — and have expected other member states to fall into line. The failure of Paris and Berlin to confront Putin's aggression has created an EU leadership vacuum that Poland, the Baltic states and other former communist countries have filled. A return to the pre-war status quo seems unlikely. Putin's invasion of Ukraine has underscored the indispensability of the United States and NATO for European defense and security. France and Germany, by failing to defend the most basic Western values, have undermined their own trustworthiness and dependability. Other EU member states can be expected to strongly oppose any efforts to develop an independent European military capacity that undermines the transatlantic alliance. Humiliating Putin Macron and Scholz in particular have repeatedly sought to accommodate Putin. Both, for instance, have held numerous one-on-one telephone calls with the Russian leader — calls that other EU member states have criticized as counterproductive because such conversations may convince Putin that he can end the war on his terms. After one such phone call on May 13, Scholz called for a ceasefire in Ukraine but did not demand that Russia immediately withdraw all its troops from Ukrainian territory. Germany, despite repeated promises, still has not transferred a single heavy weapon to Ukraine, according to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. Some say Scholz is playing for time. The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel recently reported that Scholz refuses to utter the words "Ukraine must win" because he believes that Ukraine cannot achieve victory. Others think the German chancellor is waiting for the war to end so that German industry can resume doing business with Russia. Whatever his motivation, Scholz's dithering has seriously damaged Germany's credibility, according to policy experts from across the political spectrum. Scholz seems unable or unwilling to consider, after the lessons of Britain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, that if Putin wins in Ukraine, he might turn his sights next on Europe. Meanwhile, Macron has clung to his pretense of turning the EU into a sovereign superstate. During a speech to the European Parliament on May 9, the French president called for building a "stronger and more sovereign Europe" that can become "the master of its own destiny." He added that the war in Ukraine "must not distract us from our agenda." Macron, who has provided military support to Ukraine, also warned against humiliating Putin and called for reaching an agreement with Russia "to build new security balances" in Europe. That was widely interpreted as a call for Ukraine to make territorial concessions to Putin. On June 3, Macron repeated his warning about humiliating Putin. Speaking to French media, he said: "We must not humiliate Russia so that when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic channels. I am convinced that France's role is to be a mediating power." Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded: "Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives." Polish President Andrzej Duda, in an interview with the German newspaper Bild, said that the phone calls with Putin were akin to talking to Adolf Hitler: "I'm amazed at all the talks that are being held with Putin at the moment. By Chancellor Scholz, by President Emmanuel Macron. These talks are useless. What do they do? They only legitimize a person responsible for the crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin. He is responsible for it. He made the decision to send the troops there. The commanders are subordinate to him. Did anyone talk to Adolf Hitler like that during WWII? Did someone say Adolf Hitler had to save face? That we should proceed in such a way that it is not humiliating for Adolf Hitler?" John Chipman, head of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, tweeted: "The end of French exceptionalism. Once you claim your main role to be a mediator between right and wrong, days of grandeur are over. "'Saving face' is a weak diplomatic aim; Putin can take personal responsibility for his face. "Humiliation: a mild punishment for war crimes." National Interests Some observers have speculated that Macron's obsession with Putin's humiliation stems from a faulty understanding of the June 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended World War I. Long-standing orthodoxy has held that the terms imposed on Germany were humiliating and fueled the nationalist sentiment that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War II, but contemporary scholars have challenged that narrative: the Treaty of Versailles, they say, was not tough enough on Germany. Others suspect that Macron and Scholz are seeking a new 19th century-style Concert of Europe in which France, Germany and Russia agree to divide Europe into spheres of influence. Such an agreement would, presumably, turn Ukraine into a vassal state of Russia. Still others believe that France and Germany are primarily concerned with protecting national business and financial interests in Russia. German Member of the European Parliament Reinhard Bütikofer noted: "As Moscow hardliners question whether Europe will 'survive' the current crisis, President Macron says: 'We must not humiliate Russia.' Macron appears not to realize that defending Ukraine against Russia's aggression is also about defending Europe's common security. Putin wants more than just to dominate Ukraine. Macron sees France's interests decoupled from those of Eastern and Central Europe." Bütikofer's comment goes to the heart of the issue: national interests still matter. One of the EU's founding myths has been that national sovereignty is an outmoded concept and that the national interests of the EU's 27 member states can be subsumed under a new "European interest." The war in Ukraine and the differing responses to it have proven that national interests still matter and will continue to do so. Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, in an interview with Politico, argued that the only way to achieve lasting peace and security in Europe is for Russia to lose the war in Ukraine: "The difficulty is that some of my colleagues have a false belief ... peace at any cost. Peace at any cost is what we have done for 20 years with Putin. Peace at any cost means Putin wins. We end up losing. Now, in the self-interest of Germany, and France and Italy and everyone else, if we really want security in Europe, Russia has to lose, they finally have to realize they cannot operate in this way. And collectively, we have the ability to make that happen." Transatlantic Relations Meanwhile, transatlanticism is enjoying a surge in popularity. A new survey by Globsec, a think tank based in Bratislava, found broad support (79%) across nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) for NATO's role as security guarantor. The survey also found significant growth in the CEE countries' perception of the United States as a strategic partner. In Poland, for instance, such perceptions increased from 54% in 2021 to 73% in 2022. By contrast, Polish perceptions of Germany as a strategic partner plummeted from 48% in 2021 to 27% in 2022. "The perception that the US is a strategic partner has soared by 10 percentage points since 2021," according to the report. "Washington is now viewed as a key ally in NATO by 3/4 of respondents in the CEE region." German analyst Marcel Dirsus noted: "Without American support, Ukraine would already be done. Countries like Germany and France have made European autonomy even more difficult because nobody east of the Oder River trusts them to come through when things get rough.... "What good are more German tanks to Poland or Estonia if neither they nor Russia thinks that Berlin would be willing to use them to defend Warsaw or Tallinn? "I very much doubt central Europeans who were already skeptical about European autonomy or sovereignty or whatever the phrase of the day is are looking at Macron and Scholz and think now is the time to rely more on Paris and Berlin. If anything, they'll double-down on America." Polish analyst Konrad Muzyka agreed: "Ukraine's shown that France and Germany are unwilling to increase costs on Russia for its attack on Ukraine. Paris and Germany are unwilling to send equipment to Ukraine, what makes people think its soldiers will die for Tallinn, Vilnius, Riga or Warsaw?" American foreign policy expert Elliot Cohen concluded: "President Macron continues, perversely, to talk about an exit from the war, to include European security guarantees for Ukraine. Why on earth would any Ukrainian think France or Germany could or would fight on their behalf? This is vanity, not statesmanship, at work." Rhetoric versus Substance On June 16, Macron, Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for the first time since the beginning of the war. The visit was designed, apparently, to dispel criticism of European disunity and inconsistent support for Ukraine. The leaders pledged that the EU would not force Ukraine to surrender or give up territory to end the war. "Ukraine will choose the peace it wants," Draghi said. "Any diplomatic solution cannot be separated from the will of Kyiv, from what it deems acceptable to her people. Only in this way can we build a peace that is just and lasting." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also invited to attend the G7 Summit to be held in Germany on June 26-28, and the NATO Summit in Madrid on June 29-30. The three leaders expressed support for Ukraine to be given candidate status for EU membership, but Macron stressed that such status would be accompanied by a "roadmap" that would include "conditions." Previously, Macron, Scholz and Draghi all said that Ukraine's EU bid could take decades. German MP Norbert Röttgen criticized Scholz's trip to Ukraine as political showmanship: "Chancellor Scholz created high expectations for his trip to Ukraine. He did not fulfill them with the 'yes' to EU membership and the invitation to the G7 summit. Ukraine needs quick help now, we owe it. EU membership is a matter of decades." Europe analyst David Herszenhorn, writing for Politico, noted: "Despite the encouraging rhetoric, the trio of leaders — representing the EU's biggest, richest and most powerful countries — did not announce any dramatic new military or financial assistance for Ukraine, which might help tip the war in Kyiv's favor. "By contrast, U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced an additional $1 billion in support for Ukraine.... "While Ukraine has been pushing hard to win candidate status, that designation alone offers little indication about when, or even if, Ukraine would ever formally become a member.... "Many EU officials and diplomats said it is difficult to imagine Ukraine making much progress toward actual membership until it is no longer at war, and Macron has said that the overall process could take a decade or longer." Correspondents Guy Chazan, Roman Olearchyk and Amy Kazmin, writing for the Financial Times, concluded: "French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian prime minister Mario Draghi did not just have warm words for Ukraine — they also backed its bid to join the EU. "But once the euphoria wore off, some Ukrainians wondered whether the visit of the three leaders, who were also joined by Romania's president Klaus Iohannis, marked a triumph of ceremony over substance. "Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine's ambassador to Berlin, summed up the ambivalence. EU membership for Ukraine lay far off in the future, he told Germany's ZDF TV. 'But right now what we need is to survive,' he said. 'And for that we need heavy weapons.' "Anyone hoping the visit would break the logjam in the delivery of such kit will have been disappointed. The only new pledge came from Macron, who said France would supply six additional Caesar howitzers, on top of the 12 it has already given Ukraine.... "The issue of weapons continues to loom over relations between Ukraine and its allies. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted earlier this month that Ukraine needed 1,000 howitzers, 300 multiple rocket launchers, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles and 1,000 drones to achieve parity with Russia and 'end the war.' The equipment western countries have committed to provide so far falls far short." Expert Commentary Irish analyst Judy Dempsey, in an article — "German Ambiguity Is Deciding Ukraine's Future" — published by the Brussels-based think tank Carnegie Europe, wrote that Scholz's delay in sending heavy weapons to Ukraine was hurting Kyiv's chances of preserving its sovereignty, and that it was damaging Germany's standing across Europe: "Scholz's position reveals a lack of leadership and with it a lack of conviction and consistency. It is also about a fear of antagonizing the Kremlin. The German political elites that grew up during the Cold War don't want to give up their special business and political ties to Moscow. They are still reluctant to accept Russia's motives in Georgia, Syria, Belarus, and now Ukraine. "These motives are about Russia positioning itself to reshape Europe's post–Cold War order. The longer Scholz continues his ambiguity toward Ukraine, the greater the likelihood that Putin will use the German chancellor and French President Emmanuel Macron to push Ukraine into a compromise and ultimately change Europe's security architecture. "In practice, that would have devastating consequences for the transatlantic relationship which Putin has long sought to weaken. It would divide Europe. As it is, Poland and the Baltic states are deeply distrustful of France's and Germany's relations with Putin. They are also frustrated that Paris and Berlin do not take the Russian imperialist agenda seriously. "Beyond Ukraine, Scholz's ambiguity is hurting all of Europe. Putin will not hesitate to exploit it both militarily and politically." Former MI6 head John Sawers, in an article — "Macron is Playing a Risky Game on Ukraine" — published by the Financial Times, warned that the French president's insistence that Putin should not be humiliated could lead to a premature ceasefire that locks in Russian gains: "The west has two goals in the war in Ukraine: to uphold Ukrainian sovereignty and to deter Russia from any similar assaults on European countries in the future. "However, the fighting in the Donbas region is ugly and it is tempting to support any move that would bring it to an end. Unsurprisingly, there have been calls for an early peace initiative, while French president Emmanuel Macron has said that it is important not to 'humiliate' Russia over its invasion — a remark that drew a frosty response from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy's chief of staff. "The problem is that a ceasefire now would lock in Russia's military gains on the ground. There is no reason to think that Vladimir Putin would agree to pull back.... "If another round of European diplomacy leaves Russia once again sitting on its military gains in Ukraine, then Putin will regain political strength at home and feel empowered to launch new military adventures in the future. The Ukrainians want to fight on and they need our continued support — advanced weapons and ever tougher sanctions on Russia. That means several more months of ugly fighting. But a premature ceasefire will help Putin snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. No western leader should be his enabler." Austrian political scientist Ralph Gert Schöllhammer, in an article — "Why Europe Hedges Its Support for Ukraine" — published by The Wall Street Journal, argued that Paris and Berlin worry that an EU with Ukraine could lead to a competing Warsaw-Kyiv axis: "Despite the supranational ambitions of the EU and its most ardent supporters, national interests still dominate the political calculations of member states. For Paris and Berlin the Ukraine crisis isn't only a security issue, it could also determine the EU's future power distribution. "The most prestigious positions in the EU are held by Western European politicians, reflecting a power imbalance between Eastern and Western Europe, from Ms. von der Leyen (Germany) and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde (France) to the high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell (Spain) and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel (Belgium). Eastern European governments have made clear that this status quo is increasingly unacceptable to them, and the war in Ukraine has given them additional confidence to change it. "The EU is built around Germany and France, and both states have jealously guarded their position as the ultimate decision makers in Europe. Policy makers in both countries are aware that an EU with Ukraine could lead to a competing Warsaw-Kyiv axis, something neither France nor Germany wants. Ukraine is politically and culturally closer to Poland than Germany, meaning that German power in the EU could be diminished significantly and replaced by growing Eastern European influence. "These thoughts might seem cynical in light of the heroic struggle of Ukraine and its people, but it would be a mistake to believe that power politics has been replaced by universally held ideals." Europe expert Stefan Auer, in an opinion essay — "Ukraine's Fight for Freedom Exposes 'Sovereign Europe' as a Delusion" — published by the Financial Times, wrote that Central Europeans understand better than France or Germany the connection between national independence and security: "The shared outrage over Russia's invasion of Ukraine initially strengthened European unity. But the challenges that the war has generated appear to be reinforcing European disunion. Central and eastern European states, with the notable exception of Hungary, strongly support Ukraine's fight for territorial integrity, while Germany, France and Italy seek ways to accommodate Russia. "For the EU, the return of sovereignty is unexpected. European integration supposedly made nation states increasingly obsolete. Dialogue, not threats of violence, would uphold peace.... "Rather than enemies, Europeans thought they had partners, competitors or at worst rivals. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced an abrupt re-evaluation of this view.... "It was once a truism that France needed the EU to conceal its weakness, while Germany needed it to hide its strength. In relation to Russia, one could argue that Germany uses the EU's relative weakness to justify its own inaction.... "But when it comes to assisting Ukraine in the war itself, it is national capitals that matter, not Brussels. What Moscow wants and many of Putin's western supporters appear willing to accept is the division of Europe into spheres of influence. This is redolent of the Grossraum thinking articulated by the crown jurist of Nazi Germany, Carl Schmitt: a theory of large economic spaces controlled by major powers.... "German chancellor Olaf Scholz echoes such arguments when he declares that 'Russia must not win this war,' rather than unambiguously advocating a Ukrainian victory. This is as logical as it is misguided. Where there are no enemies, there can be no victors. "By contrast, leaders in central and eastern Europe are not afraid to combine the language of values with power politics. The French and German visions for peace imply Ukrainian territorial concessions. Such ideas are foolhardy and will not ensure security for Europe or Ukraine. A sovereign Europe must not be pursued at the expense of Ukrainian sovereignty.... "In fact, for Europe to have a future in freedom, Ukraine must win this defining battle of our times. The losers will include not just Putin's Russia. The defeat of Russian imperialism should finally put to rest Franco-German delusions, whether they aim at a sovereign or a post-national Europe." German analyst Ulrich Speck, in an essay — "The Ukraine War and the Rebirth of NATO" — published by the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, concluded that the actions of Macron and Scholz has cemented NATO, not the EU, as the cornerstone of European security: "Three developments have catapulted NATO back into the center of events. "First: Russia's open attack on Ukraine in February 2022. This time, not only East Central Europeans, but also West Europeans and North Americans were shocked by the breach of all norms on which the European peace order is based: an open war of aggression and conquest with countless atrocities and war crimes. It is therefore clear that Putin is ready to implement his project of a new Russian empire, even at great expense. It is also clear that if he is successful, he will probably not stop at Ukraine. "The second reason for the renaissance of NATO is that the United States is fulfilling its classic leadership role in the Western alliance. For the Biden administration, the revival of alliances is at the center of foreign policy: close cooperation with allies is seen as providing a decisive advantage over China and Russia, which allows it to deal with the autocratic challengers from a 'position of strength.' "The third reason is that the EU leaders, France and Germany, have been very reluctant to react to Russia's attack on Ukraine. While the United States made decisive progress on arms deliveries and sanctions, flanked by a resolutely acting Great Britain, it seemed that Paris and Berlin were hoping to the last to be able to change the mind of the Russian President. Both are reluctant to supply arms to Ukraine, and they are more likely to play along than lead when it comes to sanctions. The fact that Macron and Scholz have not been in Kyiv since the beginning of the war underscores the distance they maintain from Ukraine. "With this attitude, Berlin and Paris have discredited themselves in the eyes of East Central Europeans and Scandinavians as reliable partners in the event of a Russian threat. More than ever, Eastern and Northern Europe will rely on the United States and Great Britain — ​​that is, on NATO — for security policy. "This means that there is no alternative to NATO — at least as long as Russia takes a revisionist stance, does not respect borders and does not recognize the reorganization of the region after the end of the Cold War. The lesson of current experience is that only the United States is capable of holding Russia in check. The vehicle for this remains NATO, which has not outlived itself, but is more important as the security policy core of a free West than it has been for decades." Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 02:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 23rd, 2022

Visiting Ukraine, AG Merrick Garland names longtime Nazi-hunter to lead Justice Department unit investigating war crimes

Eli Rosenbaum, the head of the Justice Department team investigating war crimes in Ukraine, previously tracked down Nazi war criminals. Merrick Garland announced a new war crimes accountability team to investigate atrocities in Ukraine.Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images A new Justice Department team will centralize efforts to investigate war crimes in Ukraine. The team will be led by a longtime official who spent years working to deport Nazi war criminals. That official, Eli Rosenbaum, will be joined by prosecutors with expertise in human rights abuses. Declaring there is "no hiding place for war criminals," Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday said the Justice Department had formed a new team to investigate war crimes and other atrocities committed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.Garland announced the War Crimes Accountability Team during an unannounced visit to Ukraine, where he met with the country's top prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, just across the Polish-Ukrainian border. The team is expected to centralize the Justice Department's efforts to support investigations into suspected war crimes in Ukraine, bringing together experts in investigations involving human rights abuses along with technical assistance for criminal prosecutions, evidence collection, and forensics.Leading the team is a longtime Justice Department official, Eli Rosenbaum, who previously spearheaded efforts to track down, denaturalize, and deport Nazi war criminals as director of the Office of Special Investigations. Rosenbaum will be joined by Hope Olds, the acting chief of a Justice Department unit focused on human rights abuses, and prosecutors Christian Levesque, Christina Giffin, and Courtney Urschel."The US Justice Department will pursue every avenue of accountability for those who commit war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine," Garland said in prepared remarks Tuesday. "Working alongside our domestic and international partners, the Justice Department will be relentless in our efforts to hold accountable every person complicit in the commission of war crimes, torture, and other grave violations during the unprovoked conflict in Ukraine."As head of the Justice Department's human rights and special prosecutions section, Rosenbaum oversaw efforts that led to the deportation of Jakiw Palij, a former Nazi labor camp guard in German-occupied Poland who lived in Queens, New York, following World War II. Palij was 95 at the time of his removal from the US in 2018.Rosenbaum more recently handled the trial and appeal of the removal case against Friedrich Karl Berger, a Tennessee resident with German citizenship who was deported for participating in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution while serving as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp in 1945. Berger was the 70th Nazi persecutor removed from the US, the Justice Department said last year.Within months of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Garland said the Justice Department was closely monitoring reports of mass graves and evidence of other atrocities. His remarks came days after images emerged of Ukrainian civilians killed in Bucha, a town near Kyiv."We have seen the dead bodies of civilians, some with bound hands, scattered in the streets," Garland said in April."The world sees what is happening in Ukraine," he added. "The Justice Department sees what is happening in Ukraine."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJun 21st, 2022

Ukraine Proposed Viable Peace Plan Before Abruptly Cutting Off Negotiations: Kremlin

Ukraine Proposed Viable Peace Plan Before Abruptly Cutting Off Negotiations: Kremlin Authored by Kyle Anzalone & Will Porter via The Libertarian Institute, As talks toward a peaceful settlement to the war in Ukraine have all but collapsed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow received a workable proposal from Ukrainian negotiators soon after the conflict began, but claimed Kiev abruptly broke off all dialogue and has been ‘silent’ ever since. Speaking to TASS for an interview on Thursday, Lavrov said that while peace talks held in Istanbul in March offered some promise for an end to the fighting, the efforts quickly crumbled after Ukraine’s negotiation team ceased all contact with its Russian counterpart. Image via Reuters/TASS "These negotiations at some point at the end of March … led to a result that gave hope to all of us, thanks to the fact that the Ukrainian side for the first time put on paper a position that suited us as a basis for work," the FM said.  As of mid-April, however, "the Ukrainian side has not responded to the proposals that we transmitted to them," Lavrov went on, adding "There has been complete silence" ever since. "If the Ukrainian side shows understanding that it is still necessary to conclude some agreements, we are ready for this. But they showed no such desire." It’s unclear what proposal was advanced by Kiev, but Lavrov said the talks were ended soon after the "provocation in Bucha," referring to a series of alleged Russian war crimes in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital. Though the minister dismissed the charges, claiming the atrocities were 'staged,' evidence has emerged indicating Russian soldiers were behind a number of grisly executions in the city. The allegations have yet to be probed by an impartial investigator. While Kiev has previously signaled that it would be open to a diplomatic settlement, its rhetoric has become increasingly bellicose, with President Volodymyr Zelensky vowing to achieve a full military victory over Moscow earlier this week. Ukraine’s Western allies, meanwhile, have at times discouraged negotiations altogether, while simultaneously funneling billions of dollars in heavy weapons into the chaotic warzone.  France is among a small number of states currently urging for dialogue, but President Emmanuel Macron has faced intense criticism for the suggestion from Ukrainian officials and other nations in Eastern Europe. During a visit to Kiev on Thursday, the French leader said Ukraine must decide for itself whether to cede any territory to Russia – a concession Zelensky has repeatedly rejected throughout the conflict. Some Western countries may favor prolonging the war over a diplomatic solution, regardless of the cost in blood or treasure. In April, the Washington Post reported that members of the NATO bloc prefer that Ukrainians continue "fighting and dying" to "a peace that comes too early," rejecting any outcome that could be sold as a "victory" for Moscow. Additionally, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently said "There are countries within NATO who want the war to continue," hoping it will leave Russia "weaker," a view later echoed nearly verbatim by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Tyler Durden Sat, 06/18/2022 - 11:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 18th, 2022

The Value Gap: How should companies atone for their ties to slavery? This financial giant sets a good example, expert says

'The moral tenor of our times has changed. Where do you want to be in it?' says Sarah Federman, an expert on the role of businesses in mass atrocities......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJun 14th, 2022

The Five Stages Of Totalitarianism

The Five Stages Of Totalitarianism Authored by Walker Larson via The Mises Institute, Fears of a growing totalitarian tendency in the US have swelled during 2020–22. But how close are we really to a totalitarian state? How have such regimes come about historically and what are the warning signs? This article will answer these questions by examining totalitarian regimes in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries and the pattern by which they came to power. Stage 1: Discontent and Rumblings Every new order rises on the ruins of the old. Those who would establish a new regime must tap into or generate dissatisfaction with the status quo. However much those desiring a reset may despise the old order, they can’t accomplish much without harnessing or fabricating a similar attitude in the public. Then the revolutionary totalitarian appears as the solution to these problems. The Reign of Terror in Revolutionary France, for example, didn’t begin with blood but with bread. Between 1715 and 1800, the population of Europe doubled, creating food shortages among the French people. Many of the French people resented the King’s growing centralized authority. In addition, the ideas of the “Enlightenment” thinkers were stirring up revolutionary feeling. Finally, the French government was massively in debt due to the many wars of the eighteenth century, and it increased taxation even on nobles. It was these sufferings and fears, combined with the machinations of the secret societies (admitted by the Marquis de Rosanbo at the Chamber of Deputies session of July 1, 1904) that led the to the revolution and the totalitarian Jacobin government. The Reign of Terror came after the fall of the king and the ancien régime, which the revolutionaries accomplished in part because of the problems and suffering in French society prerevolution. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917—which established a totalitarian regime so bloody that it would make the Reign of Terror look like a mere red drop in the guillotine bucket—followed a similar blueprint. The Bolshevik communists exploited the sufferings of the Russian people for revolutionary purposes. What were these sufferings? The Russian people had lost faith in Tsar Nicholas II and his government, Russia contained restless ethnic minorities, and the poorly equipped and led Russian armies were losing against the Germans in World War I. Russia’s failures in the war led to demoralization and disrupted the economy. In January 1917, transportation to cities like Petrograd broke down, and this caused food and fuel shortages, and, eventually, riots. Not long after the rise of Bolshevism in Russia, Adolf Hitler became involved with the Nazi Party during the Weimar Republic. Struggling postwar Germany bubbled with discontent. The Treaty of Versailles had been harsh: Germany was expected to accept full responsibility for the war, pay massive indemnities to the Allies, surrender large amounts of territory, possess no military worth speaking of, and be monitored by Allied troops. In the years following the war and the treaty, the German economy suffered mightily, including through hyperinflation. When Germany defaulted on some of its payments, French and Belgian troops occupied Germany’s richest industrial region, the Ruhr district, which only made Germany poorer and the people angrier. Stage 2: The False Savior and the First Revolution After identifying and appealing to the people’s discontent, the totalitarian presents himself as a savior. In stage 2, the revolutionary totalitarian enacts a dramatic change to “solve” the problems and discontent of stage 1. To find a solution for its debt crisis, the French government called the Estates General assembly to advise the king on what to do. The Third Estate quickly claimed full governmental authority as the “National Assembly.” The National Assembly wanted to draw up a new constitution that would change the nature of the government to deal with injustices. After the storming of the Bastille, peasants in rural areas revolted against their lords. The National Assembly declared feudalism abolished and introduced the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. With the execution of Louis XVI on January 21, 1793, the first stage of the revolution was over. The regicide left a massive power vacuum. Various groups struggled to fill this hole, but in the end, the Jacobins—the radicals—dominated the new revolutionary government. In the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks took advantage of the food riots that began early in 1917. When the military began siding with the rioting workers, rather than restoring law and order, Tsar Nicholas knew all was lost. He abdicated on March 2, 1917 (and was later shot). The Bolshevik-run Petrograd Soviet quickly took control of post-tsarist Russia. Their slogan—Peace, Land, and Bread—attracted many frightened and angry people to them as to a savior. On November 6–7, they staged a coup that finally overturned the provisional government. The initial rise of Nazism in Germany was less bloody but similarly based on messianic promises. Capitalizing on the resentment in Germany due to the Versailles Treaty and global economic downturn in 1929, the Nazi Party grew in size and influence. The Nazis had attempted a violent coup in November 1923 but had failed, and they turned to legal means of gaining control of the government. Due to Hitler’s skill with propaganda, the Nazi Party won more and more of the vote by the early 1930s. Eventually, it was the second-biggest political party in the country. At this point, Hitler was demanded that President Paul von Hindenburg appoint him chancellor, which Hindenburg agreed to in 1933. This was not a violent revolution, but the failed 1923 attempt shows the party’s violent tendencies. Stage 3: Censorship, Persecution, Propaganda, and the Ending of Opposition In stage 3, the initial upheaval of stage 2 has passed. The old order has been fundamentally changed, and now various forces begin to react. The rising totalitarian government faces many enemies, often dubbed “counterrevolutionaries” or “extremists.” Here in its infancy, the new order must struggle to gain more power and maintain that which has been acquired. For this reason, it sets about combatting its enemies through censorship and persecution. As soon as they had gained sway over their countries, the first move of totalitarians like Hitler and Vladimir Lenin was to censor opposition and put out propaganda. Each of these totalitarian leaders also gained control of education and had secret police forces to monitor and even kill anyone designated as an enemy. Another strategy was to establish youth organizations to indoctrinate citizens in the state’s propaganda from an early age and tear their loyalties away from family or religion. Religion was almost universally persecuted once these regimes came to power. Finally, Hitler and Lenin outlawed (either de jure or de facto) all political parties and views besides their own after coming to power.1 Totalitarians create a one-party system that often maintains a façade of democracy. Stage 4: The Crisis Stage 4 prepares the way for the totalitarian government to grasp total control over those under its rule. It consists of a crisis moment, which may be either a real threat or a false flag that seems to threaten the nation. By 1793, the French Revolution was at a crisis point. Defenders of the old order rose up on all sides to crush the new order. Austrian and Prussian armies encircled France, while the Vendéean peasants revolted against the revolutionary government and army. And so, in the name of “public safety,” the government decided to take harsh measures against all enemies of the revolution. And so, of course, they needed more control. This was the task of the Committee of Public Safety, and it suffered from no scruple in its methods. On August 3, 1918, Lenin was shot after giving a speech at a factory. While recovering in the hospital, he wrote to a subordinate, “It is necessary secretly—and urgently—to prepare the terror.” This initiated a campaign of mass killings and detentions by the government, known to history as the Red Terror. As always, the justification for these acts was the “emergency” indicated by the attempted assassination. The “radicals” and “counterrevolutionaries” were allegedly “at the gate,” and it was necessary to use extreme measures to deal with this imminent “threat.” So the rhetoric went. And so it always goes. Hitler also used a “state of emergency” to justify his clampdown. On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag went up in flames. In response, Herman Gorrin, minister of the interior, ordered a raid on Communist headquarters, allegedly for evidence of sedition and a Communist plot to attack public buildings. This, in Hitler’s mind, was the signal for seizing complete control. On February 28, the cabinet abolished freedom of speech, assembly, privacy, and the press. Around four thousand people were arrested that night. This “crisis,” with the usual language about safety and countering threats, ushered in totalitarianism in Germany. Stage 5: Purges, Genocide, and Total Control Using the crisis of stage 4 as an excuse, the totalitarian government now seizes absolute control over the lives of its citizens. The regime overcomes the enemies of stages 3 and 4. It begins brutally enforcing its “utopia” and ideology on the populace. This stage also sees the greatest atrocities committed against the populace because resistance to the totalitarian regime has been crushed. The people are defenseless and demoralized. Nothing stands between the regime and its victims. This stage involves mass killings as the regime liquidates any remaining enemies while seeking to control every detail of citizens’ lives. During the latter stages of the French Revolution, the Committee of Public Safety received dictatorial powers to defeat anyone who opposed the revolutionary government. During 1793–94, the CPS eliminated rival revolutionary groups before passing a law that suspended citizens’ rights to a public trial or legal assistance and gave the jury only two options, acquittal or death. The result was horrifying: throughout France, three hundred thousand suspects were arrested, seventeen thousand were executed, and about ten thousand died in prison or without trial. But it was nothing compared to the Red Terror and Joseph Stalin’s purges. The party used the attempted assassination of Lenin as justification for intense persecution of its enemies. Tens of thousands of people became victims, as discussed in Richard Pipes’s The Russian Revolution. But Lenin’s handiwork was only a precursor to Stalin’s “purges” of political enemies. Historians are divided on just how many people Stalin killed, but estimates reach as high as sixty million. Estimates of the people killed by Hitler and his Nazi Party vary as well. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the figure stands at seventeen million, but only God knows for certain. In addition to carrying out mass killings, established totalitarian regimes seek to control everyday life through measures like censorship, propaganda, gun control, and internal passports. The United States in 2022 So is the United States headed for totalitarianism? Here we move from facts to speculation—a risky business. The answer is not straightforward. But if we are careful to avoid exaggeration, some useful comparisons can be made. Have any forces in the US taken advantage of real or imagined problems in the country to stir up discontent and even violence? The death of George Floyd and the associated claims of systemic racism in 2020 gave rise to violent and destructive riots. Fortunately, this has calmed down, but, like in pre-Soviet Russia, ongoing tensions surrounding racial minorities continue to threaten more social unrest. This unrest could intensify if predictions of food shortages and increasing inflation come true in the coming months and years. Has any figure or group presented themselves as a savior with the solution to our problems, a solution that will require the curtailing of individual rights? Are freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, due process, or religious rights under attack? The covid pandemic was used by governments around the world to justify vast restrictions on personal freedom, including limitations on freedom of assembly, the closing of religious centers, and censorship of information or viewpoints that opposed the official covid narrative and dictates. Many of these public officials presented themselves as “experts” whose forceful policies were “necessary” for “public safety.” Entities such as the World Economic Forum and many global leaders continue to discuss the need for a “Great Reset,” in part as a response to the “threat” of covid. This reset includes everything from redesigning health systems and education to the implementation of vaccine passports. This is presented to us as our “salvation” from covid and other dangers, including racism. Are we experiencing any censorship in the US? Are our media sources independent and objective or coerced and controlled? As the recent Musk/Twitter debacle has highlighted, Big Tech bears responsibility for censoring certain information and views with increasing regularity in recent years, and particularly conservative voices. Does the US live under a one-party system? As far as we can tell, the answer to this question is no. However, if the claims of election fraud abounding since the 2020 elections are true and the fraud remains unremedied, we effectively live in a one-party system, since one party can maintain power indefinitely through illegal means. But that is a substantial if. Are we witnessing mass arrests or mass killings? We clearly have not progressed into stage 5–type mass arrests and killings at this time, although the data on adverse reactions surrounding the covid vaccine is concerning. Still, that data, even if accurate, does not definitively show that premeditation or a totalitarian regime is the culprit behind these injuries and deaths. Yet the possibility, I think, should not be ruled out entirely. One final point must be made. Though troubling similarities exist between the trajectory of the US and the historical examples of totalitarianism outlined above, we must avoid both the extremes of an alarmist fatalism and a starry-eyed state of denial. On the one hand, the events of the past few years in our country are grim. On the other, history does not work like a machine, and many factors are at play here. I do not claim to know the future, and I do not believe in historical determinism. In the end, whether the United States is headed for totalitarianism or not is largely up to us and whether or not we resist these trends. Tyler Durden Mon, 06/13/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 14th, 2022

Bodies of Ukrainians discovered with knees shot "tells us that people were tortured," Ukrainian police say

Ukrainian authorities are investigating more than 12,000 killings since Russia invaded the country earlier this year. Members of an extraction crew work during an exhumation at a mass grave near Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, June 13, 2022.AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko Ukrainian authorities are still discovering more mass graves in the town of Bucha this week. Russian forces occupied the Kyiv suburb for most of March before Ukraine retook the town in early April. Bodies discovered on Monday had their hands tied behind their backs and had been shot in the knees. Ukrainian workers this week exhumed bodies from yet another mass grave near the formerly-occupied town of Bucha, according to the Associated Press.Russian soldiers occupied the Kyiv suburb for most of March, leaving behind a trail of atrocities upon their withdrawal. Since Ukrainian forces retook Bucha at the beginning of April, authorities said they've discovered 1,316 bodies, several of which were disposed of in mass graves or in Bucha's nearby forests, according to the AP.Workers donning white hazmat suits and masks this week set to work digging up more bodies in the forest. Multiple victims had their hands tied behind their backs, authorities told the AP."Shots to the knees tell us that people were tortured," Andriy Nebytov, head of the Kyiv regional police, told the outlet at the scene. "The hands tied behind the back with tape say that people had been held [hostage] for a long time and [enemy forces] tried to get any information from them."—Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) June 13, 2022 The mass grave where workers were stationed Monday was located behind a trench dug out for a military vehicle, according to the AP. Seven civilian bodies were discovered, two of which were bound and had suffered gunshot wounds to the knees, Nebytov said. The newly-discovered mass grave comes as Ukrainian authorities announced a criminal investigation into the killings of more than 12,000 people since Russia first invaded Ukraine in February. National police chief Igor Klimenko told Ukrainian news this week that the probes include some victims who were found in mass graves as well as victims who were killed by snipers carrying out mass killings from military vehicles.It was not immediately clear how many of the 12,000 dead were civilians versus military. In the aftermath of Russia's withdrawal from Bucha, several mass grave sites have been discovered, as well as photographic and video evidence of civilian killings and possible war crimes. Ukraine's Prosecutor General in April estimated that there were already at least 5,600 cases of alleged war crimes and 500 war crime suspects. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 13th, 2022

Lindsey Graham and Bernie Sanders find something they can agree on during Fox debate: "Putin sucks"

Sanders said he wasn't in favor of Graham's "vulgarity" but he conceded that "the intent is correct." Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) right, greets Ranking Member Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC) during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Lindsey Graham, R-SC., don't agree on much. But they had a similar take on Vladimir Putin during a debate on Fox Nation, even if they disagreed on how to express it. "One thing Bernie and I agree, is that Putin sucks," said Graham. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Donald-Trump supporting conservative, don't agree on much.But they had one similar take on Russian leader Vladimir Putin amid his brutal invasion of Ukraine, even if they have different ways of expressing it."One thing Bernie and I agree, is that Putin sucks," said Graham, a South Carolina Republican.The debate on Fox Nation was intended to help leading senators find common ground on policy issues, but the two were at odds on most. Moderator Bret Baier, however, asked Sanders if he would concede Graham's point on Putin."Not in favor of the vulgarity but the intent is correct," said Sanders, a Vermont independent, drawing a laugh from the audience in the Kennedy Institute's full-size replica of the US Senate chamber."Putin's a bad guy," Graham said. "There we go. I'll use the other word."Putin launched the invasion on Feb. 24 on false premises, including that Ukraine was run by Nazis, and after his forces were defeated after suffering heavy casualties on approach to the country's capital they reorganized and are making grinding progress in the eastern Ukraine areas where many Russian-speakers live, often by obliterating villages and infrastructure with artillery.Russian forces are accused of carrying out mass atrocities, including gunning down civilians whose hands were bound.Sanders and Graham are former presidential candidates who sit on the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders as chairman and Graham as the top Republican.The live debate is the first in a series, launched on Monday by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. It will also air on Fox News on Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 13th, 2022

Top Ranking Senator Declares Punishing Putin & Assad "Will Never Be Over"

Top Ranking Senator Declares Punishing Putin & Assad "Will Never Be Over" Occasionally US officials, especially Congressional hawks, speak the quiet part out loud. Last week a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing considered and advanced a measure that would require formal reports to Congress on Russian atrocities in Ukraine. Idaho Republican Jim Risch was among those attempting to connect the situations of Russia and Syria, arguing that "autocrats are watching our actions." "Current and future autocrats are watching our actions. We cannot send the message that we will forget these atrocities over time and welcome Assad back to the international community," Risch said. He suggested this would send a message to Putin. That's when he stressed "this will never be over" - referring to US plans to punish and isolate both Assad and Putin. At a hearing on US policy in Syria -- i.e. US military occupation & crippling sanctions -- GOP Sen. Jim Risch declares that, like Ukraine, "we can't have this end... this is something that's got to go on for a long time." Asst. Sec. of State Barbara Leaf agrees. pic.twitter.com/YZsVVskj7s — Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) June 9, 2022 Risch said, "We can't have this thing end - just as what's happened in Syria... but we can't have this end and say 'OK it's over'." "No it's not over, this will never be over until people are held to account for what they've done... this is something that's got to go on for a long time" - this as already the US has hit both Russia and Syria (which in Syria's case started years prior) with unprecedented sanctions. Sen. Risch further lambasted some US allies for recent reported efforts to reestablish positive diplomatic relations and communications with the Assad government in Damascus. In March for example, President Bashar al-Assad made his first trip to the United Arab Emirates since the Syrian war began in 2011, where he was given red carpet treatment. Saudi Arabia too is signaling that it's deemed "times have changed" regarding viewing Assad as a pariah. Days ago, Al Jazeera reported that "Saudi Arabia is close to reaching an agreement on diplomatic normalization with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, as Riyadh jockeys to play a lead role in removing the Iranian presence from Syria, Al Jazeera has been told by those with close knowledge of the discussions." Damascus International Airport will be out of use for some time after the Israeli attack, likely weeks, possible months. Planes unable to move, runways taken out, big strikes on each runway. Remaining flights redirected to Aleppo, huge cost, air travel in Syria paralysed. — Danny Makki (@danny_makki) June 11, 2022 This has infuriated Washington, and is expected to be raised during President Joe Biden's expected visit to meet with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, which is likely to come as early as next month, according to admin officials. The kind of 'total economic war' previously unleashed on Syria and its population is now being implemented on Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion... Damage in Damascus International Airport. pic.twitter.com/Wfj7Wpw4gQ — Danny Makki (@danny_makki) June 11, 2022 Meanwhile, a recent book entitled Syria Crucified has detailed stories of common Syrian civilians living under economic siege by the West and US-led sanctions. Ironically, after surviving the bullets and bombs of foreign-backed jihadist "rebels" during the prior decade long proxy war - much of the population is now under threat more than ever by starvation, lack of resources like fuel, lack of medicines and hospital equipment, and runaway inflation. The Senate Foreign Relations committee has just agreed, "we can't have this end." Tyler Durden Sun, 06/12/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 12th, 2022

Greenwald Opines On Biden"s "Submissive - And Highly Revealing - Embrace Of Saudi Despots"

Greenwald Opines On Biden's "Submissive - And Highly Revealing - Embrace Of Saudi Despots" Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com, In 2018, President Trump issued a statement reaffirming the U.S.'s long-standing relationship with the Saudi royal family on the ground that this partnership serves America's “national interests.” Trump specifically cited the fact that “Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world” and has purchased hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons from U.S. arms manufacturers. Trump's statement was issued in the wake of widespread demands in Washington that Trump reduce or even sever ties with the Saudi regime due to the likely role played by its Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Then-Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (2nd R) welcomes then-US Vice President Joe Biden (C) at the Riyadh airbase on October 27, 2011, upon his arrival in the Saudi capital with a US official delegation to offer condolences to the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz following the death of his brother, Crown Prince Sultan. AFP PHOTO/STR (Credit: AFP via Getty Images) What made these Trump-era demands somewhat odd was that the Khashoggi murder was not exactly the first time the Saudi regime violated human rights and committed atrocities of virtually every type. For decades, the arbitrary imprisonment and murder of Saudi dissidents, journalists, and activists have been commonplace, to say nothing of the U.S./UK-supported devastation of Yemen which began during the Obama years. All of that took place as American presidents in the post-World War II order made the deep and close partnership between Washington and the tyrants of Riyadh a staple of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Yet, as was typical for the Trump years, political and media commentators treated Trump's decision to maintain relations with the Saudis as if it were some unprecedented aberration of evil which he alone pioneered — some radical departure of long-standing, bipartisan American values — rather than what it was: namely, the continuation of standard bipartisan U.S. policy for decades. In an indignant editorial following Trump's statement, The New York Times exclaimed that Trump was making the world "more [dangerous] by emboldening despots in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere,” specifically blaming “Mr. Trump’s view that all relationships are transactional, and that moral or human rights considerations must be sacrificed to a primitive understanding of American national interests.” The life-long Eurocrat, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, lamented what he described as Trump's worldview: “if you buy US weapons and if you are against Iran - then you can kill and repress as much as you want.” CNN published an analysis by the network's White House reporter Stephen Collinson— under the headline: “Trump's Saudi support highlights brutality of 'America First' doctrine” — which thundered: “Refusing to break with Saudi strongman Mohammed bin Salman over the killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Trump effectively told global despots that if they side with him, Washington will turn a blind eye to actions that infringe traditional US values." Trump's willingness to do business with the Saudis, argued Collinson, “represented another blow to the international rule of law and global accountability, concepts Trump has shown little desire to enforce in nearly two years in office.” Perhaps the most vocal critic of Trump's ongoing willingness to maintain ties with the Saudi regime were then-Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. As a recent CNN compilation of those statements demonstrates: “In the years prior to taking office, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and many of their administration's top officials harshly criticized President Donald Trump's lack of action against Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.” In a 2019 Democratic primary debate, Biden vowed: “We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are,” adding that there is “very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia.” Harris similarly scolded Trump for his ongoing relationship with the Saudis, complaining on Twitter in October, 2019, that "Trump has yet to hold Saudi officials accountable," adding: "Unacceptable—America must make it clear that violence toward critics and the press won't be tolerated." That Joe Biden was masquerading as some sort of human rights crusader who would sever ties with the despotic regimes that have long been among America's most cherished partners was inherently preposterous. As Obama's Vice President, Biden was central to that administration's foreign policy which was driven by an embrace of the world's most barbaric tyrants. So devoted was Obama to the U.S.'s long-standing partnership with Riyadh that, in 2015, he deeply offended India — the world's largest democracy — by abruptly cutting short his visit to that country in order to fly to Saudi Arabia, along with leaders of both U.S. political parties, to pay homage to Saudi King Salman upon his death. Adding insult to injury, Obama, as The Guardianput it, boarded his plane to Riyadh “just hours after lecturing India on religious tolerance and women’s rights.” The Guardian, Jan. 27, 2015 The unstinting support of the Saudi regime by the Obama/Biden White House was not limited to obsequious gestures such as these. Their devotion to strengthening the despotic Saudi ruling family was far more substantial — and deadly. Obama's administration played a vital role in empowering the Saudi attack on Yemen, which created the world's worst humanitarian crisis: far worse than what has been taking place in Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24. In order to assuage the Saudis over his Iran deal, “Obama’s administration has offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, other military equipment and training, the most of any U.S. administration in the 71-year U.S.-Saudi alliance,” reported Reuters in late 2016, just months before Obama and Biden left office. Beyond the enormous cache of sophisticated weapons Obama/Biden transferred to the Saudis to use against Yemen and anyone else they decided to target, the Snowden archive revealed that Obama ordered significant increases in the amount and type of intelligence technologies and raw intelligence provided by the NSA to the Saudi regime. That intelligence was — and is — used by Saudi autocrats not only to identify Yemeni bombing targets but also to subject its own domestic population to rigid, virtually ubiquitous, surveillance: a regime of monitoring used to brutally suppress any dissent or opposition to the Saudi regime. In sum, no hyperbole is required to observe that the Obama/Biden White House — along with their junior British counterparts — was singularly responsible for the ability of the Saudi regime to survive and to wage this devastating war in Yemen. But that is nothing new. The centerpiece of U.S. policy in the Middle East for decades has been to prop up Saudi despots with weapons and diplomatic protection in exchange for the Saudis serving U.S. interests with their oil supply and ensuring the use of the American dollar as the reserve currency on the oil market. That is what made the hysterical reaction to Trump's reaffirmation of that relationship so nonsensical and deliberately deceitful. Trump was not wildly deviating from U.S. policy by embracing Saudi tyrants but simply continuing long-standing U.S. policy of embracing all sorts of savage despots all over the world whenever doing so advanced U.S. interests. Indeed, what angered the permanent ruling class in Washington was not Trump's policy of embracing the ruling Saudi monarchs, but rather his honesty and candor about why he was doing so. American presidents are not supposed to admit explicitly that they are overlooking the human rights abuses of their allies due to the benefits that relationship provides, even though that amoral, self-interested approach is and for decades has been exactly the foundational ideological premise of the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy class. But this has been the core propagandistic framework employed by the DC ruling class since Trump was inaugurated. They routinely depicted him as an unprecedentedly monstrous figure who has vandalized American values in ways that would have been unthinkable for prior American presidents when, in fact, he was doing nothing more than affirming decades-old policy, albeit with greater candor, without the obfuscating mask used by American presidents to deceive the public about how Washington functions. Reuters, Sept. 7, 2016 Beyond the Saudi example, this same manipulative media scam could be seen most vividly when Trump welcomed the brutal Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to the White House. As I reported at the time, the mainstream Washington commentariat depicted Trump's meeting with and praise for the Egyptian strongman as some sort of shocking violation of bedrock American principles. In fact, the U.S. has been by far the largest benefactor of Egyptian tyranny for decades. It armed and supported the Mubarak regime up until the very moment it was overthrown. Obama's Secretary of State, John Kerry, praised the military coup engineered by Gen. Sisi against the country's first democratically elected leader, as an attempt to protect democracy. And shortly before the Arab Spring began, Kerry's predecessor, Hillary Clinton, declared her personal affection for Sisi's predecessor, the monstrous dictator who ruled Egypt for three decades: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family, so I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States,” Clinton gushed in 2009, while Obama ensured that the flow of money and weapons to Mubarak never ceased. While the bipartisan political and media class has spent decades insisting, and still insists, that the core foreign policy goal of the U.S. is to defend freedom and democracy and fight tyranny around the world, the indisputable reality is the exact opposite: propping up the world's most brutal dictators who serve U.S. interests has been a staple of U.S. foreign policy since at least the end of World War II. The only attribute that differentiated Trump from his predecessors and the rest of the mainstream D.C. ruling class was not his willingness to do business and partner with despots. There are few policies official Washington loves more than that. It was his honesty about admitting that he was doing this and his clarity about the reasons for it: namely, that the real goal of U.S. foreign policy is to generate benefits for the U.S. (or, more accurately, ruling American elites), not to crusade for democracy and human rights. To the extent that one attempted to isolate any other difference between Trump and official Washington, it was that he was often insistent that “American interests” be defined not by "what benefits a small sliver of U.S. arms manufacturers and the U.S. Security State” but rather “what benefits the American people generally” (hence his eagerness, and his ultimate success, to be the first U.S. president in decades to avoid involving the U.S. in new wars). In sum, the U.S. always has been, and continues to be, not just willing but eager to support and embrace foreign dictators whenever doing so serves those interests. They are just as willing and eager to overthrow or otherwise undermine and destabilize democratically elected leaders who are judged to be insufficiently deferential to American decrees. What determines U.S. support or opposition toward a foreign country is not whether they are democratic or despotic, but whether they are deferential. Thus, it was not Trump's embrace of long-standing U.S. partnerships with Saudi and Egyptian despots that represented a radical departure from the American tradition. The radical departure was Biden's pledge during the 2020 presidential campaign to turn the Saudis into "pariahs” and to isolate them as punishment for their atrocities. But few people in Washington were alarmed by Biden's campaign vow because nobody believed that Joe Biden — with his very long history of supporting the world's worst despots — ever intended to follow through on his cynical campaign pledge. It took no prescience or cleverness to see it as nothing more than a manipulative attempt to demonize Trump for what official Washington, and Obama and Biden themselves, have always done with great gusto and glee. This is why it comes as absolutely no surprise, repellent as it may be, that Joe Biden aggressively abandoned this core 2020 campaign foreign policy vow regarding Saudi Arabia the first chance he got. Far from turning them into a "pariah” state as he pledged, Biden has seamlessly continued — and even escalated — the U.S. tradition of propping up and strengthening what is quite plausibly the world's single most despotic and murderous regime. Just one month after Biden's inauguration, the Director of National Intelligence made public a long-secret report that announced: “We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill” Jamal Khashoggi. Yet the White House, while imposing some mild sanctions on some Saudi individuals, adamantly refused to impose punishments on Crown Prince bin Salman himself, dispatching anonymous officials to friendly media outlets to explain that they were unwilling to jeopardize the significant benefits that come from the U.S./Saudi partnership. That was exactly the argument Trump made in 2018 in defense of his identical decision which caused so much faux indignation. One would, needless to say, be very hard-pressed to find similarly vehement condemnations of Biden for vandalizing sacred U.S. principles by refusing to sever or even meaningfully reduce the American partnership with the Saudis due to their murder of Khashoggi. But this was merely the start of Biden's embrace of the Saudi regime. Last November, “the U.S. State Department approved its first major arms sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under U.S. President Joe Biden with the sale of 280 air-to-air missiles valued at up to $650 million.” Just a few weeks later, the U.S. Senate, reported Politico, “gave a bipartisan vote of confidence to the Biden administration’s proposed weapons sale to Saudi Arabia, blunting criticisms from progressives and some Republicans over the kingdom’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war and its human rights record.” A group of dissenters — led by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Mike Lee (R-UT) — argued that the arms sales would fuel the war in Yemen and embolden the Saudi regime, but they were easily swept aside by a status-quo-protecting bipartisan majority led by the two party's leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). And it was during that same time — long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine — when Biden had all but abandoned any pretense of weakening ties with the Saudis, let alone turning them into the "pariah” state he promised during the campaign against Trump. “Mr. Biden was already prepared to end the isolation of Prince Mohammed as far back as October when he expected to encounter the Saudi leader at a meeting of the Group of 20 leaders and most likely would have shaken hands,” explainedThe New York Times last week (bin Salman was a no-show at the meeting). And now, it appears that Biden is planning a pilgrimage to Riyadh to visit his Saudi partners in person. Last week, The New York Times reported that Biden “has decided to travel to Riyadh this month to rebuild relations with the oil-rich kingdom at a time when he is seeking to lower gas prices at home and isolate Russia abroad.” During the trip, “the president will meet with” bin Salman himself, who Biden's own DNI said oversaw the murder of Khashoggi. The rationale offered by The New York Times for Biden's planned trip was virtually identical to the arguments Trump used in 2018: “the visit represents the triumph of realpolitik over moral outrage, according to foreign policy experts.” Indeed, the explanation offered by Biden's Secretary of State for the president's ongoing embrace of the Saudis is virtually indistinguishable from the rationale offered by Trump that sparked so many outraged denunciations about the fall of American ideals supposedly caused by his willingness to do business with undemocratic regimes: “Saudi Arabia is a critical partner to us in dealing with extremism in the region, in dealing with the challenges posed by Iran, and also I hope in continuing the process of building relationships between Israel and its neighbors both near and further away through the continuation, the expansion of the Abraham Accords,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Wednesday at an event marking the 100th anniversary of Foreign Affairs magazine. He said human rights are still important but “we are addressing the totality of our interests in that relationship.” Despite Biden's clear abandonment from the start of his campaign pledge to distance the U.S from the Saudis, this trip is being justified by the need to plead with the Saudis to make more oil available on the market in order to compensate for U.S.-led sanctions on Russia. As The Times put it: “Russia and Saudi Arabia are close to tied as the world’s second-largest oil producers, meaning that as Biden administration officials sought to cut off one, they concluded they could not afford to be at odds with the other.” After the Times report, Biden officials said the trip had been postponed to July, but did not deny that it was happening. What cogent moral argument can be advanced that it is preferable to buy Saudi oil as a means of avoiding the purchase of Russian oil? Whatever one's views are on the extent of autocracy under Putin's rule in Russia, there is no minimally credible argument that it is worse than the systemic tyranny long imposed by the Saudi ruling family. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to contest that, at least prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, civil freedoms were more abundant in Russia than in Saudi Arabia. And while one can certainly contend that Russia's three-month war in Ukraine has been more a moral atrocity, there is no basis — none — for arguing that it is worse on any level than the indiscriminate violence and destruction the Saudis have been unleashing for seven years in Yemen (unless one values the lives of European Ukrainians more than non-European Yemenis). And even if one did insist upon the view that absolutely nothing on the planet is worse than the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that everything must therefore be done to maintain the sanctions regime imposed on Russia, how would that dubious moral claim justify overlooking Saudi atrocities and sending Biden, on his knees, to beg bin Salman for more oil? If suffocating and punishing Russia is the highest moral and strategic priority, why would it not be more prudent and more moral for the U.S. to lift Biden's restrictions on its own domestic drilling as a means of replacing Russian oil, especially if that would avoid the need to further strengthen the Saudi regime? But herein lies the unique truth-providing value of the U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia. Of course U.S. foreign policy is not devoted to spreading freedom and democracy and fighting despotism and tyranny in the world. How can a country that counts the Saudi monarchs, the Egyptian military junta, the Qatari slave owners, and the Emirati dictators as its closest partners and allies possibly claim with a straight face that it opposes tyranny and fights wars in order to protect democracy? The U.S. does not care, at all, whether a foreign country is ruled by democracy or tyranny. It cares about one question and one question only: whether the government of that country serves or hinders U.S. interests. Donald Trump's sin was admitting this obvious fact. This has been the central deceit shaping the virtually closed propaganda system imposed by the West around the U.S./NATO role in the war in Ukraine. If Western leaders had simply acknowledged from the start the obvious truth about their role — that they regard Russia as a geopolitical adversary and seek to exploit the war in Ukraine to weaken or even break that country — at least an honest debate would have been possible. Instead, they and their corporate media allies did what they always do whenever a new war is newly marketed: they draped it in fabricated moral fairy tales about freedom-fighting and opposition to tyranny. Thus, the popular Western moralistic narrative imposed a series of claims about U.S. motives that should not have even passed the laugh test, yet became virtually obligatory articles of faith. The U.S. is not involved in this war in Ukraine because it sees an opportunity to advance its own interests by sacrificing Ukraine in order to weaken Russia (a truth they began admitting in private: their goal is not to end the war but prolong it). Nor is the U.S. motivated by an opportunity to enrich the weapons manufacture industry which lost its primary weapons market after the U.S. withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and which wields enormous power in Washington. Nor does the U.S. government, with its posture of Endless War, seek to justify the ever-increasing budget and power of the U.S. Security State and the sprawling Pentagon bureaucracy. Perish these thoughts. The massive benefits conferred on those powerful sectors by every new war are always just happy coincidences. Only a deranged conspiracy theorist would believe that profit and power for these factions — whose unrestrained growth was the target of Dwight Eisenhower's grave warnings when leaving office in 1961: long before their power exploded even more due to Vietnam, the ongoing Cold War and especially 9/11 — is ever a factor in shaping U.S. war policy. Good American patriots view the military-industrial complex as just a chronic lottery winner: they just keep hitting the jackpots purely through immense strokes of luck. To sustain popular support for the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars in new foreign wars, the population must be fed a morally uplifting framework, a sense of righteous purpose that leads them — at least at the start — to believe these new wars are moral necessities. Thus, rather than self-interest in Ukraine, the U.S. is acting benevolently, with the noblest of motives, with nothing but a desire to help others. The United States, you see, is a country that cares deeply that the peoples of the world remain free, that they enjoy the right of democratic rule and self-determination, and that they should never suffer under the repressive thumb of despotism — and we are so magnanimously devoted to these values that we are even willing to expend our our vast resources to ensure the prosperity of others. Those kinds of grandiose morality tales are always deployed to secure American support for new wars (hence, the war in Vietnam was about defending our South Vietnamese democratic allies from aggression and invasion by North Vietnamese Communists; the war in Afghanistan would liberate oppressed Afghan women from the Taliban; the first war in Iraq, beyond “liberating” Kuwait, was to stop a tyrant who tore babies out of incubators, while the second war in Iraq, beyond WMDs, was about freeing Iraqis from Saddam's tyranny; the wars in Libya and Syria would rid their long-suffering populations from the brutal thumb of Gadaffi and Assad, etc. etc.). It is the great enduring mystery of American and British discourse that the U.S. and UK Governments can still have employees of media corporations genuinely believe that their governments fight wars not to advance their own interests but to defend democracy and fight tyranny — even as these very same media figures watch those very same governments prop up the most repressive tyrannies on the planet and lavish them with weapons, intelligence technologies, and diplomatic protection. Somehow, without the U.S. press batting an eye, Joe Biden can deliver a speech righteously touting his commitment to protect democracy in Ukraine and stop Russian autocracy, and then board a plane the very next minute to go visit Mohammed bin Salman and General Sisi, heralding them as vital American partners, and announce new aid military and intelligence packages to each. Somehow, this severest cognitive dissonance — watching a government insisting with one hand that it fights wars in order to protect democracy and vanquish tyranny and then, with the other, send aid to the world's most repressive tyrants — eludes these savvy journalistic gurus. Perhaps this cheap, repetitive, and transparent propaganda works with the journalistic in-group because the officials inside the U.S. Government who disseminate these fraudulent tales are the friends, colleagues, neighbors and vital sources for the country's wealthiest and most prominent journalists, who therefore see the world the way they see it and want to assume the best about the intentions of their socioeconomic and professional comrades. Perhaps it is due to the great career benefits that are inevitably conferred on journalists who uncritically cheer and help sell the lies behind U.S. war propaganda (the path that led Jeffrey Goldberg from writing full-on Iraq War agitprop for The New Yorker in 2002 to becoming editor-in-chief of The Atlantic today). Perhaps it is because bolstering U.S. war propaganda fosters widespread elite applause, while doubting it fosters attacks on one's patriotism, loyalty, competence and sanity. Perhaps American journalists feel a sense of jingoistic pride and psychological pleasure by believing that their government, unlike most in the world, involves itself in an endless stream of new wars due to magnanimity rather than more craven motives. When it comes to the uniquely gullible and herd-like U.S. and British press corps and their unyielding faith in the noble motives of U.S. war planners, all of those dynamics are likely at play. Notably, this self-evidently manipulative propaganda — U.S. foreign policy is devoted to spreading freedom and fighting despotism — works only in the U.S., the UK and various parts of Western Europe. The rest of the world — especially those regions whose democracies have been on the receiving end of the CIA's violence and destabilization efforts — react to such claims not with gullible credulity but scornful laughter. This is why, as The New York Times reported this week, the Biden administration has been encountering increasing levels of resistance around the world for his Ukraine war policies, because most countries understand that what the Western press refuses to acknowledge: namely, that the U.S's motives in Ukraine — whatever they might be — have nothing to do with safeguarding democracy and fighting despotism. The same dynamic was vividly apparent with Biden's failed attempt to summon Latin American countries to Los Angeles for his so-called “Summit of the Americas.” After the Biden administration announced the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua on the ground that those countries are insufficiently democratic, numerous other Latin American nations, led by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced they were likely to refuse to participate. Mexico ultimately boycotted the event, whereas Brazil attended only after Biden acceded to the demands of its president, Jair Bolsonaro, to hold a one-on-one meeting with him and refrain from criticizing Brazil over environmental policies in the Amazon. Again, nobody outside of the U.S. and British media takes seriously the claim that the U.S. — loyal patron to the Saudis, Emiratis and Egyptians and countless CIA coups in their region — is so offended by authoritarianism in the three excluded Latin American countries that they cannot abide participating in a conference with them. Such a claim is particularly unsustainable in light of reports that Biden officials were all but begging Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro to sell oil on the market to compensate for sanctions on Russia in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela (indeed, why is it more moral to buy oil from the Saudis than the Venezuelans)? The reason for the U.S.'s shunning of those countries has nothing to do with America's antipathy to autocracy and everything to do with the political importance of rapidly growing immigrant communities in Florida and other key swing states who fled those Latin American countries due to contempt for those governments. What possible cogent moral argument holds that it is permissible to maintain relations with the Saudis and Egyptians due to geo-strategic benefits around oil and international competition but not countries in the U.S.'s own hemisphere such as Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua? If American interests compel the U.S. to “overlook” or even sanction grave human rights abuses in their close Gulf-State-dictatorship-partners, why do the benefits for American citizens from relations with these Latin American countries not compel the same? The undeniable reality is that Kissingerian realism — the question of what is in the self-interest of the United States, or at least what is in the interests of a small sliver of American elites — is and long has been the core, animating, overarching ideology of U.S. foreign policy, as is true of the foreign policy of all great powers. The bit about crusading for human rights and democracy and battling tyranny and despotism is just the propagandistic packaging for domestic media consumption. That is why both presidents Obama and Trump, and every president before them, were willing to embrace many of the world's most repressive regimes: because they perceived that doing so would produce tangible benefits for “American interests,” however that might be defined. It is that same mindset that caused both of those presidents, for instance, to view Ukraine as a vital interest of Russia, but not the United States, and therefore not a country worth risking war with Moscow in order to defend. The core deceit about U.S. foreign policy — that it is designed to spread democracy and vanquish tyranny — serves no purpose other than to manipulate the American public, through the government tool known as the U.S. corporate media, to support whatever new wars, obscene spending packages, or authoritarian powers are demanded in its name. And therein lies the real value of the long-standing U.S./Saudi partnership, the reason that Biden's immediate abandonment of his campaign pledge to scorn the Saudis, is so illuminating. For any rational person, watching Joe Biden continue and even escalate the decades-long love affair between Washington and the murderous despots in Riyadh should dispel these myths once and for all and illuminate the reality, the actual motivational scheme, that drives the role that the United States plays in the world, both generally and in Ukraine. To support the independent journalism we are doing here, please subscribe, obtain a gift subscription for others and/or share the article Tyler Durden Sun, 06/12/2022 - 14:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 12th, 2022

Russian state news is one of Putin"s greatest weapons during his struggling Ukraine war

Here's why Russian state TV routinely airs wildly false claims like World War III has started and Ukraine is a Nazi state. Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during the Victory Day military parade marking the 77th anniversary of the end of World War II in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 9, 2022.Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP Putin's crackdown on the free press accelerated following the war in Ukraine. Getting access to independent news is not impossible in Russia, but it's become more and more difficult. State news is dominated by Kremlin propagandists who echo Putin's outlandish, false talking points. By virtually eliminating the independent press in Russia and ensuring state media echoes Kremlin talking points, Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the Russian populace in the dark on the human toll from the Ukraine war.  Putin's crackdown on the free press — and dissent more generally — began years ago. But the Kremlin's efforts to control the media landscape in Russia reached new heights after Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February. "Obviously, this is not the first media crackdown under Putin. But there is a difference in degree in terms of what happened after the war versus before," Maya Vinokour, an assistant professor in the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University, told Insider. "Any major independent outlet that you can name has now been shuttered."In this vacuum of independent media, the cries of Russian state TV personalities resound: that Russia is blameless and the West is the real instigator, that Ukraine is a Nazi state, that World War III has begun. Some experts say Putin's regime has been remarkably, unsettlingly effective in controlling the Russian populace's perception of the war, while others warn that Moscow has isolated the country to such an extent that it's hard to know what people there truly believe anymore. Among other steps to tighten his grip over the narrative, Putin signed a law barring the media from calling the Ukraine war a "war," instead requiring journalists and pundits to refer to the full-scale invasion as a "special operation." Russian journalists who haven't fallen in line have been placed on wanted lists. Russia's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, blocked access to independent news websites over their coverage of the war. Major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have also been blocked in Russia in relation to the war. Facing pressure from the government over their reporting, multiple prominent print, radio, and TV outlets — including Echo of Moscow, Novaya Gazeta, and TV Rain — closed up shop or suspended operations since the war began. Vinokour said that some of these outlets have reconstituted in various ways outside of Russia, and there are Russians who access banned websites via virtual private networks. Many Russians are also active on Telegram, a social media and chat app that's not been banned, where independent news sources are fighting to counter the often false, conspiratorial posts from Russian state outlets.In short, independent Russian outlets aiming to offer accurate reporting that challenge the government do still exist and have an audience. But a survey from Levada, the only independent pollster in Russia, found a majority of Russians get their news from state-run television — where they are being fed a constant stream of propaganda.State TV channels like Channel One and Russia-1 effectively exist to parrot the government's talking points. They feature pro-Putin hosts like Vladimir Solovyov, who constantly vilifies the West while boasting about Russia's supposed military prowess. Meanwhile, Russia was forced to retreat from its assault on Kyiv after staggering losses, and the toll continues to mount — including over 1,000 tanks and a flagship cruiser.—Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) April 20, 2022 The State Department has described Solovyov as possibly "the most energetic Kremlin propagandist around today," adding that the Russian host, his producers, and guests "flood Russian-language audiences with Guinness World Record-breaking diatribes of anti-Western and anti-Ukraine disinformation, hatred, and vitriol on a daily basis."Kremlin propagandists like Solovyov routinely pepper Russian audiences with an array of false, baseless, outlandish assertions. "Russian propaganda is not super well-crafted," Vinokour said. As world leaders accuse Moscow of committing genocide in Ukraine, Russian state news has portrayed apparent atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine as staged or fake. Olga Skabeyeva, who hosts "60 Minutes" on Russia-1, pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that Ukrainians were behind a massacre of civilians in Bucha. Skabeyeva, who has been referred to as the "iron doll of Putin TV," has also told Russians that they're already in the midst of  "World War III."Indeed, state news agencies have repeatedly blamed the war on NATO, often portraying the conflict as the beginning of a wider war against the alliance. In the reality viewers won't hear on Russian TV, the invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked. Though Ukraine has received significant levels of support from NATO, including lethal aid, it is not a member of the alliance and was not on the formal path to join it when Russia invaded.Russian state media has also spent a fair amount of time and energy promoting the Kremlin's bogus claim that the war in Ukraine is being waged to liberate it from Nazis. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish, highlighting how absurd such claims are. Russia-1 host Olga Skabeyeva has played a key role in the Kremlin's propaganda strategy amid the war in Ukraine.YouTube/UATV EnglishThough Moscow's propaganda on the Ukraine war is not especially sophisticated, that doesn't mean it hasn't been successful. A number of Russia watchers have said that Putin's close control over media has given him a major advantage in terms of keeping the public on his side. Russian journalist Alexey Kovalyov, who previously worked for state news agency RIA Novosti and now works as an editor for the independent, Latvia-based outlet Meduza, in April told Al Jazeera that Russian state news has been "terrifyingly effective" in molding public opinion on the Ukraine war throughout Russia."There are quite a few heartbreaking accounts of people living in Ukraine under the Russian bombs, they're calling their family members in Russia and telling them they're being bombed by the Russian army, and their own family members refuse to believe them," Kovalyov said. And though the war has been disastrous for Russia on many levels — with the Russian military failing to achieve major objectives and losing an estimate of 15,000 troops in three months — there are signs that many Russians have been convinced otherwise. A Levada poll conducted in late May found 77% of Russians support the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, and 73% believe that the "special operation" is moving forward successfully. But the lack of reliable pollsters in Russia — on top of the fear induced by the dangers of speaking out against the war or the Kremlin — makes it difficult to gauge the true level of support among the Russian public for Putin's so-called "special operation" in Ukraine. Government-backed polls can't be trusted, and experts like Vinokour are skeptical that any broad-based conclusions can be drawn on levels of public support for the war."The whole idea of polling in inside of what is now a personal authoritarian regime seems suspect to me," Vinokour said.It seems that by vying to control what the Russian public knows about the Ukraine war, Putin has also made it much harder for the wider world to understand what's happening in Russia and how Russians truly feel. Even so, it will be hard for the Russian media to blot out its leader's mistakes and the losses on the scale of the Soviet Union's failed incursion in Afghanistan forever."It is Orwell 1984," Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats, who hosted a show on Echo of Moscow before it shut down, told NPR in March. "In this world... lies are truth and war is peace."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 12th, 2022

Jim Bovard: It"s Time For Joe Biden To Exit The Ring

Jim Bovard: It's Time For Joe Biden To Exit The Ring Authored by Jim Bovard via The Libertarian Institute/Mises.org, President Biden often looks like a punch-drunk old fighter sent into the ring once too often. At this point, the only thing lower than Biden’s approval numbers is his energy level. Is Uncle Joe too old to rebound? At this point, Biden is running on little more than fumes and righteousness. In his televised antigun speech Thursday night, Biden proclaimed that he expected most people “to turn your outrage into making this issue [assault weapons] central to your vote.” Biden’s histrionic spiel was far more likely to turbo-charge gun owners than gun banners and could be another coffin nail for Democratic candidates in middle America. Biden perennially tells audiences that banning assault weapons is justified because the Second Amendment didn’t permit Americans to own cannons—a falsehood that even The Washington Post has repeatedly derided. Inflation is the top issue by a wide margin for Americans nowadays. Biden’s inflation will soon have inflicted a 10 percent cut in the purchasing power of Americans’ paychecks. But Biden is indignant at criticism of his policies. When Peter Doocy of Fox News asked about the impact in January, Biden called him “a stupid son of a bitch.” In a March speech to Democratic members of Congress, Biden raged at being blamed for inflation: “I’m sick of this stuff!…We have to talk about it because the American people think the reason for inflation is the government spending more money. Simply. Not. True.” Biden first tried to blame greedy corporations for inflation and then began railing about “Putin’s price hikes.” Didn’t work. Last week, The Washington Post revealed that Biden now blames White House aides who “were not doing a good job explaining the causes of inflation and what the administration is doing about it.” But his aides have a hell of a challenge when Biden boasts “a gallon of gas is down 14 percent today”—as he claimed based solely on a happy fantasy on March 9. Even wackier? Last Friday, Biden boasted that Americans feel more “financially comfortable,” thanks to his policies. Biden won in 2020 in part because he promised in the final debate: “I’m going to shut down the virus.” Biden bet his presidency on covid vaccines. When their efficacy faded, Biden dictated a “jab or job” ultimatum to more than a hundred million Americans. The Supreme Court rebuffed most of that mandate but not before the omicron variant was causing a million new cases a day and obliterating Biden’s covid victory boasts. Last month, the White House predicted up to a hundred million new covid cases this fall—after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted that almost half of covid fatalities now are among the fully vaxxed. In lieu of more reliable vaccines, Team Biden is pressuring social media companies to crack down on “disinformation” that casts doubts on presidentially ordained injections. Biden has a long DC reputation for trampling the facts. His first presidential bid collapsed in the late 1980s, thanks to his brazen plagiarism of a British politician. But the Democrats in 2020 were desperate to find someone who could defeat Donald Trump. Their verdict: “He’s a pathological liar, but he’s our pathological liar.” During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden was shielded by a phalanx of media allies and former government honchos who helpfully buried issues such as the damning revelations of Hunter Biden’s laptop (first exposed by the New York Post). But, regardless of how often Biden flees back to Delaware, he is in the limelight far more than during the campaign. He struggled to find his way off stage after a speech, and the video of him attempting to shake hands with invisible people on stage was jolting. A decade ago, Biden seemed mentally quick and verbally agile in battering Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in the vice presidential debate. But Biden’s verbal and mental struggles make that stellar performance seem like a thousand years ago. The Biden White House discloses little or no verified medical information on the president’s health, mental or physical. Instead, Biden’s apologists in the media insist that he is doing fine—the same way that much of the press corps covered for President Woodrow Wilson after he was debilitated by a stroke. Last month, The Washington Post reprinted a column by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein demanding that Americans “Stop Smearing Biden’s Mental Capacity.” Bernstein described doubts about Biden’s acuity as “one of the many ugly things that’s happened during Joe Biden’s presidency.” Bernstein rests his defense of Biden on the trustworthiness of the Washington elite: “To believe that Biden is impaired requires a belief in a massive conspiracy…by thousands of people.” Like the notion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction—a Bush scam to justify a war that was supported in lockstep by most of the media and the Washington establishment? Or the notion that the Federal Reserve flooding the nation with increasingly worthless currency is good for America—another beloved myth embraced by the Beltway? A poll last month showed that 53 percent of Americans doubted whether Biden was “mentally fit” for the presidency. Who knew that antigeezer prejudice would explode during Uncle Joe’s reign? But even 51 percent of senior citizens doubt Biden’s mental competence for office. That the official scorekeepers ruled that Biden won eighty-one million votes in the 2020 election is supposedly the only proof of “competence” that matters. Perhaps there is only one proof of Biden’s mental capacity that matters in Washington: he is delivering the conflict with Russia that the Democratic Party has craved since Hillary Clinton made anti-Russia agitation a linchpin of her 2016 presidential campaign. Biden’s hysterical denunciations of Vladimir Putin have endeared him to DC insiders itching to drag this nation into a military conflict that they know most Americans would not support if the full facts and risks were presented to them. Biden Dismisses Elon Musk’s Fears of a Recession: "Lots of Luck on His Trip to the Moon" Good luck to Biden on this gaffe not haunting him in the future pic.twitter.com/OEs1VOjXHa — Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 3, 2022 The White House, State Department, CIA, and Pentagon have provided almost zero credible evidence on how the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine is proceeding. Instead, Biden has been the front man for a fairy tale that pretends that providing almost unlimited U.S. government aid and weapons to a corrupt regime in Kiev will create a historic victory for democracy everywhere. But Russia’s unjust invasion and atrocities against civilians do not purify a Ukrainian regime that has been abusing its own people for decades. In effectively opposing any peace talks between Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Team Biden has simply assured more pointless deaths on both sides. Biden is a listless president surrounded by aides with broken compasses. Biden’s worst pummeling could occur if Democrats lose control of Congress in November. Republican committees will be investigating an array of potential abuses of power that Team Biden has successfully buried (at least according to media scorekeeping) so far. Unless Biden can make it a hate crime to attach “I did this!” stickers to gas pumps, his support will keep draining away every time Americans fill up their tanks. Tyler Durden Fri, 06/10/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 10th, 2022

Top Senate Democrats sound the alarm about Russian interference in the 2022 midterms

The senators wrote that the US supports Ukraine, "we must also be vigilant in guarding against threats to our own system of government." Top Democratic lawmakers are urging intelligence and national security agenda heads to stay on guard for Russian election interferenceMikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP Top Senate Democrats are concerned about Russian interference in 2022.  A group of senators urged leading national security and intelligence officials to stay vigilant.  The Ukraine war has provided an avenue for Russian disinformation to flourish in the US on the far right.  Leading Senate Democrats are sounding the alarm about Russian interference in the 2022 midterm elections.A group of 17 Senate Democrats led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged some of the nation's top military, intelligence, and national security officials to stay vigilant against interference in a new letter obtained by Insider. "As the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to an increase in Russian disinformation and warnings of potential cyberattacks, we urge you to ensure that your agencies are prepared to quickly and effectively counter Russian influence campaigns targeting the 2022 elections," the senators wrote in Thursday's letter.  The letter also cites an Insider report from March on how Putin's missteps in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has staunchly united the West and bolstered the NATO alliance while isolating Moscow economically and politically, could spur the Kremlin to redouble its efforts in undermining Western democracy through both cyberhacking and disinformation operations that are far cheaper to carry out than a land war on the scale of the Ukraine invasion. "Manipulating social media is incredibly inexpensive compared to Javelins and ammunition," Chris Rouland, the CEO of Phosphorus Cybersecurity, told Insider. "If anything, Russia would get more aggressive in its manipulation of social media because it's almost free compared to a tank."Ex-NSA hacker David Kennedy, the CEO of TrustedSec, told Insider that "Putin and the intelligence agencies are going to look at how to cause as much damage as possible" through cyber operations. He added that the US in particular is a "ripe target" for continued Russian interference efforts because of the major impact Russia had in influencing the 2016 election.Empty poll kiosks await voters at the Mississippi Second Congressional District Primary election precinct, Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Jackson, MissAP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisRussia's successful history of meddling in the US "underscores the urgency" for 2022, senators say.In 2016, Russia's interference campaign included hacking into the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee to obtain damaging internal emails, attempting to compromise state voter registration databases, and using bot and troll farms to spread misinformation about the candidates and sow division and anger among the American electorate on social media.  Russia also interfered in the 2018 and 2020 elections, the US intelligence community found, by focusing less on cyber hacking and more on manipulating the information environment through social media, state media, online journals, and proxies. "Russia's history of interfering in our last three federal election cycles underscores the urgency of the current warnings," the senators wrote in the letter.As other experts noted to Insider, Russia's primary goal in interfering in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections was not to boost President Donald Trump, but instead to sow fundamental distrust and undermine confidence in American democracy and institutions.  "Our democracy has been a shining beacon for the world and as we continue to assist Ukraine and our European allies, we must also be vigilant in guarding against threats to our own system of government," Klobuchar and Reed wrote. "With primaries underway for the 2022 midterm election cycle and ongoing preparations for the November general election, it is vital that the federal government does everything in its power to ensure the integrity of our elections against foreign threats." As fighting rages on in Ukraine, Russia is waging an information war both at home and abroad. Putin has gone to extraordinary lengths to control the flow of information in Russia amid the war in Ukraine, vying to keep Russians in the dark on what's truly happening in Ukraine. Moscow has effectively eliminated the independent press in Russia while criminalizing opposition to the war. Those who speak out against Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine could face up to 15 years in prison, based on a law Putin signed making it illegal to spread "fake" news on the Russian military.Meanwhile, Russian state news constantly peppers the Russian public with outlandish and false claims on the war. Pro-Kremlin propagandists have peddled a range of conspiratorial narratives to legitimize the invasion, falsely telling Russian audiences that Ukraine is a Nazi country and that World War III has begun. Russian state news has also claimed that apparent atrocities committed by Russian troops, including the Bucha massacre, were staged or fabricated by Ukrainian forces. Russia's President Vladimir Putin appears on a television screen at the stock market in Frankfurt, Germany, Feb. 25, 2022. Russia is revving up its sophisticated propaganda machine as its military advances in neighboring Ukraine.AP Photo/Michael Probst, FileA feedback loop has emerged between Russian state media and right wing media in the US.Prominent right wing figures in the US, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have echoed Russia's propaganda and disinformation on Ukraine. Russian state TV has recycled and applauded Carlson's commentary, which reaches millions of Americans — he hosts the most-watched show on cable news in the US.  As Russia gathered tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine's border in the lead-up to the invasion in late 2021, Carlson parroted Moscow by blaming NATO for Putin's aggression toward Kyiv. Carlson said NATO only existed to "torment" Putin, claiming that the authoritarian leader "just wants to keep his western borders secure." Russia's invasion of Ukraine was ultimately an unprovoked assault on a sovereign nation, which is why much of the world has rallied behind Kyiv and against Moscow. After the invasion, Carlson also pushed a discredited Russian conspiracy theory that the US was funding bio-weapons development at labs in Ukraine. The false bio-labs story also found an audience on far right social media channels in the US, among other platforms and forums, highlighting the myriad ways disinformation can spread in today's world. "People are asking if the far right in the US is influencing Russia or if Russia is influencing the far right, but the truth is they are influencing each other," Thomas Rid, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and expert on Russian disinformation, told the New York Times in March, adding, "They are pushing the same narratives."There are no signs that the Ukraine war will end at any point in the near future. As the conflict continues and the economic consequences of it are felt more acutely by Americans, the circumstances could provide an ideal avenue for the proliferation of Russian disinformation in the US — sowing further discord across the country amid a period of historic political divisions. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 9th, 2022

GOP House candidate endorsed by Elise Stefanik said Hitler is "the kind of leader we need today" in a 2021 interview, calling the Nazi ruler "inspirational" and "a doer"

"I understand that invoking Hitler in any context is a serious mistake and rightfully upsets people," Carl Paladino told Insider in a statement. US Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and former Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images, KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images New York House candidate Carl Paladino said Adolf Hitler is "the kind of leader we need today." Paladino made the remarks in a WBEN radio interview in June 2021. "I understand that invoking Hitler in any context is a serious mistake," he told Insider on Thursday. Carl Paladino, a Republican congressional candidate in New York, described the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler as "the kind of leader we need today" during a June 2021 radio interview. Paladino's remarks to WBEN were unearthed by Media Matters, a left-leaning nonprofit organization that reports on right-wing media."I was thinking the other day about [how] somebody had mentioned on the radio Adolf Hitler and how he aroused the crowds," Paladino said in the interview when asked how he would boost voter enthusiasm. "And he would get up there screaming these epithets and these people were just — they were hypnotized by him. That's, I guess, I guess that's the kind of leader we need today. We need somebody inspirational. We need somebody that is a doer, has been there and done it." —Eric Hananoki (@ehananoki) June 9, 2022Paladino, a controversial figure who ran against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2010, went on to say the New York GOP was "sound asleep" and criticized his party's communications strategy."They don't get up with new press releases to comment on this issue, comment on that issue," Paladino said. "I mean, there should be a debate going on in the newspaper every day."Paladino denied that he praised Hitler in his 2021 comments, but conceded it was a "serious mistake" to invoke the Nazi leader. "Any implication that I support Hitler or any of the sick and disgusting actions of the Nazi regime is a new low for the media," Paladino said in the statement. "The context of my statement was in regards to something I heard on the radio from someone else and was repeating, I understand that invoking Hitler in any context is a serious mistake and rightfully upsets people. I strongly condemn the murderous atrocities committed against the Jewish people by Hitler and the Nazis.In a Thursday interview with The Buffalo News, Paladino said he picked the wrong historical figure."I should have used Churchill," he told the paper.On June 3, Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third highest-ranking Republican in the House, endorsed her fellow New Yorker for his bid in the 23rd district, which covers and area around Buffalo and the state's Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border.—Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) June 3, 2022 The congresswoman described Paladino as "a friend" and a "conservative outsider." Paladino is expected to run up against Nick Langworthy, the chairman of the New York State Republican Committee, in the primary set for August 23, which coincides with a special election to pick who will serve the remainder of Rep. Tom Reed, who resigned in May.Stefanik's campaign did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.Paladino deactivated his Facebook page on Tuesday after his account promoted a conspiracy theory regarding the May mass shooting in Buffalo. The candidate denied posting the message. "I don't post," Paladino said, according to WIVB, the CBS affiliate in Buffalo. "I don't even know how to get on Facebook. My assistant does our posting only when I told her to post things."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 9th, 2022

Russia"s former president, a Putin ally, says he"ll "do anything" to make Moscow"s enemies "disappear"

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Medvedev has parroted the Kremlin's bombastic and conspiratorial talking points on the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev enter the hall during the XIX Congress of United Russia Party on November 23, 2019 in Moscow, Russia.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images Dmitry Medvedev, ex-president of Russia, in a Telegram post on Tuesday said he would do anything to make Russia's enemies "disappear." "They are bastards and scum. They want death for us, for Russia," Medvedev said.  Medvedev, an ally of Putin's, is now deputy chair of the Security Council of Russia.  Dmitry Medvedev, the former president of Russia, on Tuesday expressed a desire to "disappear" Moscow's enemies in a threatening post on Telegram."People often ask me why my Telegram posts are so harsh. The answer is that I hate them. They are bastards and scum. They want death for us, for Russia. And as long as I'm alive, I'll do anything I can to make them disappear," Medvedev said, per a translation from The Moscow Times.It's not clear precisely who or what the post was referencing or targeting, but it came as Medvedev — a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — has taken an increasingly bellicose tone toward Kyiv and the West amid Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine. Some Russia watchers interpreted Medvedev's post as being directed at both Ukraine and the West, while others saw it as a genocidal message aimed at Ukrainians. President Joe Biden has accused Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine, which Putin has falsely suggested is not a real country — questioning its right to exist.—Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) June 7, 2022—Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) June 7, 2022—Paul Massaro (@apmassaro3) June 7, 2022 Medvedev, currently deputy chair of the Security Council of Russia, was president of Russia from 2008 to 2012 after being handpicked by Putin — who was constitutionally barred from serving a third consecutive term at the time (but has since signed a law to change that following a referendum on constitutional amendments in 2020).There was a time when Medvedev was considered to be a liberal who would improve ties with the West and strengthen democracy in Russia, not unlike early expectations of Putin. But Medvedev, who was also Russia's prime minister from 2012 to 2020, ultimately served to help place Putin on the path to becoming president for life. And since the war in Ukraine began in late February, Medvedev has consistently parroted the Kremlin's bombastic and conspiratorial talking points on the conflict. Medvedev, for example, baselessly said that evidence of apparent atrocities committed by Russian troops in Bucha, Ukraine, was fabricated and "Ukrainian propaganda." Echoing Putin, he's also suggested that Ukraine is not a real or legitimate country. "Deep Ukrainianism, fueled by anti-Russian poison and an all-consuming lie about its identity, is one big fake," Medvedev said in a Telegram post in April. "This phenomenon has never happened in history. And now it doesn't exist," he added.Ruth Deyermond, a Russia expert in the Department of War Studies at King's College London, told the Washington Post that such rhetoric is "hard to read in any other way than a justification for mass killing," adding, "It's extremely disturbing language and clearly has genocidal overtones."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJun 7th, 2022

Russia puts journalist on "wanted" list after he exposed Putin"s purges of spy agency blamed for failings in Ukraine

Andrei Soldatov highlighted chaos in Russia's FSB, where senior officials were suspended in retribution for poor intelligence ahead of the invasion. A view shows the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor agency to the KGB, and Lubyanka Square in front of it in central Moscow on February 25, 2021.ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images Journalist Andrei Soldatov told Insider he'd been placed on a Russian "wanted" list.  He exposed turmoil and purges in Russia's security services prompted by failings in Ukraine.  The Kremlin is punishing anybody in Russia who deviates from its triumphant official war narrative. Andrei Soldatov, a journalist and prominent expert on Russia's security services, told Insider that has been placed on a "wanted" list in Russia and had his bank accounts frozen after fleeing the country. The investigative reporter said the move was retaliation for exposing purges and failings in Russia's security services amid the stalled invasion of Ukraine. Soldatov, who founded the website Agenta.ru that monitors Russia's security services, said in a tweet Tuesday: "My Monday: my accounts in Russian banks are under arrest, plus I'm placed on Russia's wanted list."Soldatov told Insider that the case had been filed by the Russian Investigative Committee, the Russian government's main prosecution office.He said it was not clear what he had been accused of, but that it likely related to new laws seeking to suppress what the Kremlin deems to be "fake news" about the war in Ukraine. —Andrei Soldatov (@AndreiSoldatov) June 6, 2022"I think it's caused by my reporting about the role of the FSB [Russia's domestic security agency] in the war," he said.He described a "backlash" from the investigative committee after he reported on purges within the agency after the invasion, first in the form of senior officials being arrested in retribution for poor intelligence that underpinned mistakes in the beginning of the invasion.Speaking from Moscow in March, Soldatov went further, telling Insider that the Kremlin had launched a search for moles in the FSB, suspecting that some of its agents were leaking information to the US. Soldatov told Insider on Monday that he was now based in the UK.Insider has contacted the Russian embassy in the UK for comment. Soldatov is among the world's foremost authorities on Russia's security services, and is one of few experts who has been able to penetrate the secretive agencies, detail their failings, and their brutal rivalries. He has commented on Russian security issues for prominent Western outlets including The New York Times, New Yorker and the Times of London, and is a fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis. The Kremlin has launched a wide-ranging crackdown on independent reporting of its invasion within Russia.Russia's state TV channels have kept up a steady drum-beat of propaganda, seeking to portray the war as a mission to defend Russia against destruction by the West and its allies.Evidence of war crimes and atrocities by Russian troops is not reported, and outlets are banned from describing the military activity in Ukraine as a "war" or an "invasion," instead using the euphemism "special military operation."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 7th, 2022