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Putin ally says he sent EU Parliament a stained sledgehammer after it branded Russia a state sponsor of terrorism

The European Parliament officially declared Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" on Wednesday, apparently irritating Prigozhin. Yevgeny Prigozhin on August 9, 2016.Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP The European Parliament declared Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" on Wednesday. Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin responded by saying that he had sent the EU a sledgehammer. It is unclear whether the EU received the sledgehammer, which had fake blood stains on it. An ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Wednesday that he had sent the European Parliament a  sledgehammer stained with fake blood after it branded Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.This week, the EU Parliament announced that repeated Russian military strikes on Ukrainian civilians and its energy infrastructure had violated international law, and it had voted to recognize Moscow "as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state which uses means of terrorism."The vote passed with 494 in favor, 58 against, and 44 abstentions.On Wednesday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who founded the notorious Wagner Group paramilitary, responded to the vote in a notably bombast fashion.Prigozhin was quoted on a Concord Management Telegram channel as saying that he had discussed the EU vote with his Wagner commanders and decided to take action against the parliament.Concord is a catering company founded by Prigozhin, who has long been nicknamed "Putin's chef.""Today I held a meeting of the Wagner PMC commanders and told them this sad news," the statement, which was reported by both The Moscow Times and the independent Russian news outlet SOTA, said. "I do not know what law the European Parliament is guided by, but according to our legislation, from today we declare the European Parliament dissolved."It continued: "But before this procedure enters into legal force, I was instructed to submit an information case to the European Parliament."Prigozhin did not directly say what he meant by an "information case." However, a video published by SOTA on Wednesday showed a violin case containing a sledgehammer with the inscription "PMC Wagner" on its head and fake blood stains on its handle. (PMC Wagner is another name for The Wagner Group.)The violin case was carried by the Wagner Group's lawyer Igor Yeliseyev, the Gulagu.net rights group said on Telegram. Insider was unable to independently verify the reports. According to The Moscow Times, Yeliseyev gave the case to a pro-war military blogger, who was meant to pass it on to a member of the EU parliament.It is unclear whether the EU Parliament received the sledgehammer. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Earlier this month, in another Concord post, Prigozhin appeared to celebrate the brutal execution of a Russian soldier who had defected to Ukraine.In a video shared on a pro-Russian social media channel, the man was struck twice in the head with a sledgehammer. Prigozhin's response was that the man was "a traitor."Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly called on the international community to declare Russia a "terrorist state" over its invasion of his country.This latest video comes on the back of the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, saying that the parliament's official website had been hit by a cyberattack."The European Parliament is under a sophisticated cyberattack. A pro-Kremlin group has claimed responsibility," Metsola announced on Wednesday."Our IT experts are pushing back against it and protecting our systems. This, after we proclaimed Russia as a State-sponsor of terrorism. My response: #SlavaUkraini (Glory to Ukraine)," she added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 24th, 2022

Russia"s Wagner Group Sent "Blood-Stained" Sledgehammer To EU Parliament

Russia's Wagner Group Sent 'Blood-Stained' Sledgehammer To EU Parliament In response to last week's European Parliament vote to designate Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" - one Kremlin-linked official send a threatening message to the European body.  Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is the leader of Russia's most well-known and feared private security firm, Wagner mercenary group, says that he sent a bloodied sledgehammer to European parliament. Via The Telegraph The chilling response to the largely symbolic EU Parliament terror designation was confirmed in various regional media outlets, and also detailed in Western outlets.  "On Wednesday, the EU officially called Russia a 'state sponsor' of terrorism over its actions in Ukraine but the move was denounced by Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin who sent them a violin case, with a chilling item inside," wrote Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "Inside the case was a sledge hammer with fake traces of blood on it." It's unclear (and perhaps unlikely) whether the sledgehammer was ever actually mailed or received by any official representing the Brussels-based European Parliament, beyond being shown in a Wagner Telegram video. According to more of the publicity stunt response to the European Parliament's terror designation vote:  Prigozhin sent the sledgehammer in a violin case as an "information case" to those voting in EU Parliament. The Putin ally said that he had held a meeting with Wagner Group commanders, and they had decided to declare the European Parliament "dissolved." "Before this procedure enters into legal force, I have been instructed to submit an information case to the European Parliament," Prigozhin said. Евгений Пригожин передал в Европарламент «окровавленную» кувалду с гравировкой логотипа ЧВК «Вагнер» «Подарок» в скрипичном футляре привез юрист Пригожина Игорь Елисеев из Петербурга и передал ее блогерам, которые якобы должны отправить инструмент в Европу. pic.twitter.com/AeHGOHqSYz — SOTA (@Sota_Vision) November 24, 2022 The EU parliament has also voted to identify the Wagner group as a terror organization, following an early November video that emerged showing the sledgehammer execution of a defected Russian soldier, reportedly at the hands of Wagner mercenaries.  The sledgehammer has become the unofficial symbol of the Wagner group. Prigozhin, who has also been known as "Putin's chef" for the catering company he runs which has been used by the Russian presidency's office to host functions, said the sledgehammer was needed "information" for MEPs. Tyler Durden Sun, 11/27/2022 - 11:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 27th, 2022

Russia"s Wagner Group Sent Blood-Stained Sledgehammer To EU Parliament

Russia's Wagner Group Sent Blood-Stained Sledgehammer To EU Parliament In response to last week's European Parliament vote to designate Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" - one Kremlin-linked official send a threatening message to the European body.  Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is the leader of Russia's most well-known and feared private security firm, Wagner mercenary group, says that he sent a bloodied sledgehammer to European parliament. Via The Telegraph The chilling response to the largely symbolic EU Parliament terror designation was confirmed in various regional media outlets, and also detailed in Western outlets.  "On Wednesday, the EU officially called Russia a 'state sponsor' of terrorism over its actions in Ukraine but the move was denounced by Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin who sent them a violin case, with a chilling item inside," wrote Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "Inside the case was a sledge hammer with fake traces of blood on it." It's unclear (and perhaps unlikely) whether the sledgehammer was ever actually mailed or received by any official representing the Brussels-based European Parliament, beyond being shown in a Wagner Telegram video. According to more of the publicity stunt response to the European Parliament's terror designation vote:  Prigozhin sent the sledgehammer in a violin case as an "information case" to those voting in EU Parliament. The Putin ally said that he had held a meeting with Wagner Group commanders, and they had decided to declare the European Parliament "dissolved." "Before this procedure enters into legal force, I have been instructed to submit an information case to the European Parliament," Prigozhin said. Евгений Пригожин передал в Европарламент «окровавленную» кувалду с гравировкой логотипа ЧВК «Вагнер» «Подарок» в скрипичном футляре привез юрист Пригожина Игорь Елисеев из Петербурга и передал ее блогерам, которые якобы должны отправить инструмент в Европу. pic.twitter.com/AeHGOHqSYz — SOTA (@Sota_Vision) November 24, 2022 The EU parliament has also voted to identify the Wagner group as a terror organization, following an early November video that emerged showing the sledgehammer execution of a defected Russian soldier, reportedly at the hands of Wagner mercenaries.  The sledgehammer has become the unofficial symbol of the Wagner group. Prigozhin, who has also been known as "Putin's chef" for the catering company he runs which has been used by the Russian presidency's office to host functions, said the sledgehammer was needed "information" for MEPs. Tyler Durden Sun, 11/27/2022 - 11:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 27th, 2022

Biden Admin Approves $1 Billion Arms Sale To Qatar During World Cup

Biden Admin Approves $1 Billion Arms Sale To Qatar During World Cup Authored by Mimi Nguyen Ly via The Epoch Times, The Biden administration approved a possible military sale to Qatar on Tuesday worth an estimated $1 billion. The announcement of the approval by the State Department was posted during the World Cup 2022 match between the United States and Iran, held in Doha. The notice of the potential sale is required by law. In it, the State Department said the government of Qatar requested to buy 10 anti-drone systems—referred to as “Fixed Site-Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft System Integrated Defeat System (FS-LIDS) System of Systems.” The Qatari government also asked for 200 “Coyote Block 2 interceptors,” which are used to defeat drones, as well as a slew of related equipment and technical and logistics support services. Qatar, along with other Gulf Arab states, faces threats from Iranian-backed proxies in the region. “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” said the State Department. It added that the proposed sale will also “improve Qatar’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing electronic and kinetic defeat capabilities against Unmanned Aircraft Systems.” “Qatar will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and/or services into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” Five U.S. government and 15 U.S. contractor representatives will be sent to Qatar for five years “to support fielding, training, and sustainment activities,” the department stated. The main contractors will be Raytheon, SRC, and Northrop Grumman. The United States and Qatar in 2017 previously signed a $12 billion arms deal for Qatar to purchase up to 36 F-15 fighter jets and other U.S. weapons. At the time, the Defense Department said the sale “will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar.” Former President Barack Obama’s administration in November 2016 approved the potential sale, which was estimated at the time at $21 billion. Leading up to the $12 billion deal, then-President Donald Trump denounced Qatar as a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism and called on the country’s government to “take a hard line” on funding extremism. While Qatar denies supporting extremism, its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, have accused it of funding terrorist groups, including al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, and of supporting Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Because of Qatar’s alleged support for terrorists, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt in 2017 had cut off diplomatic ties with the country. President Joe Biden in March this year designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally of the United States—a special status granted to close, non-NATO allies that have strategic working relationships with the U.S. military. It allows Qatar to be provided with certain defense and security benefits with the United States. Qatar is home to the Al Udeid Air Base, one of the largest U.S. military bases in the Middle East that hosts the U.S. Central Command’s forward headquarters and the Pentagon’s air operations center for the region. The base is regarded as a key player in the fight against the terrorist ISIS group. In August 2021, the air base played a major role and hosted thousands of refugees which aided U.S. efforts to evacuate people from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, after U.S. troops withdrew from the country. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/30/2022 - 10:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 30th, 2022

EU Parliament Hit By Pro-Kremlin Cyberattack After Russian Terror Designation

EU Parliament Hit By Pro-Kremlin Cyberattack After Russian Terror Designation The European Parliament on Wednesday voted to formally recognize Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" for what it called "deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine." European legislators also cited "serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amount to acts of terror" in the overwhelming vote in favor of the terror label. The move is more symbolic than anything, however, carry no specific legal consequences for Moscow. The EP is now urging the European Union to enact the same, which would mark a major escalation in already spiraling relations, as it would also likely require more sanctions.  The parliament statement said it "recognizes Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state which uses means of terrorism." Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the designation, saying Wednesday, "Russia must be isolated at all levels and held accountable in order to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe." At the same time, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova angrily dismissed the move, writing on Telegram: "I propose recognizing the European Parliament as a sponsor of idiocy." Immediately after the vote, European officials accused Russia of mounting a "sophisticated" cyberattack: "I confirm that the Parliament has been subject to an external cyber attack, but the Parliamentary services are doing well to defend the Parliament," Dita Charanzová, Czech MEP and Parliament vice president responsible for cybersecurity, said in a statement. Another senior Parliament official, requesting not to be named, said "it might be the most sophisticated attack that the Parliament has known so far." Eva Kaili, who is the Greek vice president of the European Parliament, pointed the finger at Moscow, saying, "We have a strong indication that it is from Killnet, the hackers with links to Russia indeed. This is my information, but it is under control. It only cut the external access to the Parliament's website ... Unless there is extra attacks we expect it to be back and accessible very soon." Shortly after, a group believed by the West to have ties to the Russian state claimed responsibility:  PRO-RUSSIA GROUP KILLNET CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR DDOS ATTACK And similarly, the German Greens' MEP Alexandra Geese said on Twitter: "This morning Russia was still designated as a terrorist state in an official resolution. This afternoon the entire network collapses in [the European Parliament]." The attack mainly impacted the European Parliament website. Tyler Durden Wed, 11/23/2022 - 14:22.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 23rd, 2022

EU declares Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism", a move it hopes could make it easier to put Putin on trial

EU parliament members voted in favor of designating Russia "a state sponsor of terrorism" with 494 votes in support, 58 against, and 44 abstentions. Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech on November 9, 2022.Sergei Guneyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File The EU parliament declared Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" over its invasion of Ukraine. It said the vote would help bring Putin closer to facing an international tribunal. Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Cuba were the only other countries already on the EU's list. The EU Parliament on Wednesday voted to declare Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" over its invasion of Ukraine.The step is a mostly-symbolic gesture, prompted by evidence of war crimes in the nine-month-old invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.In a statement, the parliament said that it hoped the designation could lead to legal consequences for Russian leaders like President Vladimir Putin in a hypothetical war-crimes trial.Parliament members voted in favor of the move by 494 votes in support, 58 against, and 44 abstentions.The parliament, which is the legislature for the European Union, said in a Wednesday statement that "Following the atrocities carried out by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin's regime against Ukrainian civilians, MEPs have recognised Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.""MEPs highlight that the deliberate attacks and atrocities committed by Russian forces and their proxies against civilians in Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of international and humanitarian law amount to acts of terror and constitute war crimes."It said in a statement before the vote that the move would aid efforts for Putin to face a war crimes trial."By declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, MEPs want to prepare the ground for Putin and his government to be held accountable for these crimes before an international tribunal."US President Joe Biden, officials in Ukraine, and some European national governments have already called for Putin to face a tribunal.Many experts have said it is unlikely this will actually happen, as it would be legally very difficult to prosecute Putin.There is some precedent, however, for world leaders to face such a trial.Former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević was tried at the International Criminal Tribunal in a years-long trial that stated in 2002 with charges including genocide and war crimes, but he died before it ended.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 23rd, 2022

Russia Says It May Sever US Relations If Declared Terrorism Sponsor

Russia Says It May Sever US Relations If Declared Terrorism Sponsor A Russian diplomat warned that if his country is declared a state sponsor of terrorism, it could not only harm US-Russo relations but potentially sever them completely.  On Friday, Alexander Darchiyev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's North American department told the TASS news agency:  "I would like to mention the legislative initiative currently being discussed in Congress to declare Russia a 'country sponsor of terrorism.' If passed, it would mean that Washington would have to cross the point of no return, with the most serious collateral damage to bilateral diplomatic relations, up to their lowering or even breaking them off. The US side has been warned." Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have been leading an effort to pressure the Biden administration into making the terror designation, which would allow new categories of sanctions. The are only four designated countries today: Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria.  On July 28, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism. At the time, Graham said this about a potential designation: "It means that doing business with Russia with that designation gets to be exceedingly hard – it has secondary effect sanctions, it would limit dual export items, and more importantly it would waive sovereign immunity when it came to suing Russia in U.S. courts. This designation would be a nightmare for Russia." Senators Graham and Blumenthal present Ukrainian President Zelenskey with a framed copy of their Senate resolution  Blinken, however, has said a terror designation wouldn't change things much: "The costs that have been imposed on Russia by us and by other countries are absolutely in line with the consequences that would follow from designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.” On Thursday, the Latvian parliament made its own terror-sponsor designation of Russia. "Latvia recognizes Russia's actions in Ukraine as targeted genocide against the Ukrainian people," declared the legislature's resolution.   "A timely move," tweeted Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba. "Russia has long deserved this status with its actions in Ukraine and beyond. Ukraine encourages other states and organizations to follow suit."   As we wrote in June, "the U.S. government's application of terrorist designations has been impulsively disingenuous to the point that it saps the label of any meaning apart from the financial consequences. In practice, terror designations are just another means of bludgeoning countries that are out of favor with the U.S. government." Designating Russia a state sponsor of terror over a conventional military invasion would represent just the latest bastardization of the term. Indeed, if the terror label were attached to every invasion that's accompanied by alleged war crimes, the U.S. government would have to designate itself.  Tyler Durden Sat, 08/13/2022 - 11:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 13th, 2022

Latvia Designates Russia As Terrorist State, Urges Europe To Follow

Latvia Designates Russia As Terrorist State, Urges Europe To Follow Latvia on Thursday became among the first European countries to designate Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" after nearby Lithuania was the first to do so back in May. Latvia’s Parliament made the declaration while alleging that Russian forces are targeting civilians in the ongoing Ukraine invasion, and urged other countries to implement their own formal designations.  Out of the 100-seat assembly, 67 lawmakers voted yes, with 16 abstaining. The formal designation charged Russia forces with enacting "Suffering and intimidation as tools in its attempts to demoralize the Ukrainian people and armed forces and paralyze the functioning of the state." Latvia's parliament, file image. Latvia’s Parliament now "recognizes Russia’s violence against civilians in pursuit of political aims as terrorism, recognizes Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and calls on other like-minded countries to express the same view." What's more is that Latvia has joined neighboring Estonia in halting all tourist visas issued to Russians. There are reports that Estonia too will soon pass its own Russian "state sponsor" terror designation.  The Baltic countries and former Soviet satellite states have been at the forefront of urging Western weapons shipments to Ukraine, and have even played host to arms in transit. Some European countries such as Finland are now trying to push an EU-wide ban on all Russian travel, which critics in Germany especially (which hosts a large Russian expat population) argue is unfair collective punishment of innocent civilians. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back, condemning the Latvian parliament vote as part of anti-Russian "xenophobia." Moscow has vowed retaliation, with one Russian parliamentarian saying they would unleash "retaliatory measures that will show Latvia its place and will be quite painful." Earlier in the now six-month Ukraine conflict, the Biden administration began using the word "genocide" when talking about alleged Russian atrocities (but more recently has stopped using the specific word), but has so far resisted some Congressional calls to label Russia a terror state sponsor.  Tyler Durden Sat, 08/13/2022 - 07:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 13th, 2022

Chris Hedges: War With Iran?

Chris Hedges: War With Iran? Authored by Chris Hedges via ConsortiumNews.com, The United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, responsible for military fiascos, hundreds of thousands of deaths and innumerable war crimes in the Middle East, are now plotting to attack Iran. Illustration by Mr. Fish — “Biden at Bat” The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia are plotting a war with Iran. The 2015 Iranian nuclear arms accord, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Donald Trump sabotaged, does not look like it will be revived.  U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is reviewing options to attack if Teheran looks poised to obtain a nuclear weapon and Israel, which opposes U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations, carries out military strikes. During his visit to Israel, Biden assured Prime Minister Yair Lapid that the U.S. is “prepared to use all elements of its national power,” including military force, to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon.  Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. function as a troika in the Middle East. The Israeli government has built a close alliance with Saudi Arabia, which produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks and has been a prolific sponsor of international terrorism, supporting Salafi jihadism, the basis of al-Qaeda, and such groups as the Afghanistan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front.   The three countries worked in tandem to back the 2013 military coup in Egypt, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew its first democratically elected government. He has imprisoned tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, on politically motivated charges. The Sisi regime collaborates with Israel by keeping its common border with Gaza closed to Palestinians, trapping them in the Gaza strip, one of the most densely populated and impoverished places on earth.  Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East, has conducted an ongoing campaign of covert attacks on Iranian nuclear sites and nuclear scientists. Four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, presumably by Israel, between 2010 and 2012. In July 2020, a fire, attributed to an Israeli bomb, damaged Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. In November 2020, Israel used remote control machine guns to assassinate Iran’s top nuclear scientist.  In January 2020, the United States assassinated Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, along with nine other people including a key figure in the anti-ISIS coalition, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. It used an MQ-9 Reaper drone to fire missiles into his convoy, near Baghdad’s airport.  Iranian Restraint If similar attacks had been carried out by Iranian operatives inside Israel, it would have triggered a war. Only Iran’s decision not to retaliate, beyond lobbing about a dozen ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq, prevented a conflagration.  On July 7, Iran informed The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that  it is using IR-6 centrifuges with “modified subheaders.” The declared purpose of the enrichment process at its underground facility at Fordow is to create uranium isotope enriched up to 20 percent — far below the 90 percent enrichment levels necessary to create weapons-grade uranium. Under the JCPOA agreement, enrichment levels were capped at 3.67 percent. Israel has allocated $1.5 billion for a potential strike against Iran and, during the first week of June, held large-scale military exercises, including one over the Mediterranean and in the Red Sea, in preparation to attack Iranian nuclear sites using dozens of fighter aircraft, including Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.   The 2016 Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Barack Obama provides a 10-year, $38 billion military package for Israel.  Israel and its lobby in the U.S. are working to scuttle  negotiations with Iran to monitor its nuclear program. The preparation for war mirrors the Israeli pressure on the U.S. to invade Iraq, one of the worst strategic decisions in U.S. history.  Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in testimony before the British Iraq war commission, offered this account of his discussions with George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas in April 2002: “As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”    Saudi Arabia, which seeks to dominate the Arab world, severed ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by protesters following Riyadh’s execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi Arabia, with Chinese help, has built a plant to process uranium ore and acquired ballistic missiles. Saudi Arabia signed a series of letters in 2017 with the U.S. to purchase weapons totaling $110 billion immediately, and $350 billion over the next decade. Awar with Iran would be a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.  It would spread swiftly throughout the region. The Shiites across the Middle East would see an attack on Iran as a religious war against Shiism. The two million Shiites in Saudi Arabia, concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern province; the Shiite majority in Iraq; and the Shiite communities in Bahrain, Pakistan and Turkey would join the fight against the U.S. and Israel.  Iran would use its Chinese-supplied anti-ship missiles, rocket and bomb-equipped speedboats and submarines, mines, drones and coastal artillery to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, the corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil and liquified gas supply. Oil production facilities in the Persian Gulf would be sabotaged. Iranian oil, which makes up 13 percent of the world’s energy supply, would be taken off the market. Oil would jump to over $500 a barrel and perhaps, as the conflict drags on, to over $750 a barrel. Our petroleum-based economy, already reeling under rising prices because of the sanctions on Russia, would grind to a halt. Israel would be hit by Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missiles. Hezbollah’s store of Iranian-supplied rockets that allegedly can reach any part of Israel, including Israel’s nuclear plant at Dimona, would also be deployed. Strikes by Iran and its allies on Israel, as well as on American military installations in the region, would leave hundreds, maybe thousands, dead. In 2002, the U.S. military conducted its “most elaborate war game” ever, costing over $250 million. Known as the Millennium Challenge, the exercise was between a Blue Force (the U.S.) and the Red Force (widely considered as a stand-in for Iran). It was meant to validate America’s “modern, joint-service war-fighting concepts.” It did the opposite. The Red Force, led by retired Marine lieutenant general Paul Van Riper, conducted a swarm of kamikaze suicide boat attacks and destroyed 16 U.S. warships in under 20 minutes. When the war game was reset, it was rigged in favor of the Blue Force. The Blue Force was given access to experimental technology – including that which doesn’t exist such as airborne laser weapons. Meanwhile, the Red Force was told they weren’t allowed to shoot down the Blue Team’s aircraft, had to keep their offensive weapons in the open and could not use chemical weapons. Even then, the Blue Force could not achieve all of its objectives as Riper unleashed a guerrilla insurgency on the occupying forces. The US-Saudi Tandem President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz greeting at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, on Friday. (Saudi Press Agency/Wikipedia) Why shouldn’t Joe Biden be feted by the murderous regime of Saudi Arabia and the apartheid state of Israel? He and the U.S. have as much blood on their hands as they do. Yes, in 2018 the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the assassination and dismemberment of my friend and colleague Jamal Khashoggi. Yes, Israel assassinated Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. But Washington has more than matched the crimes carried out by Israel and the Saudis, including against journalists.  The imprisonment of Julian Assange – who released the collateral murder video showing U.S. helicopter pilots laughing as they shot to death two Reuters journalists and a group of civilians in Iraq in 2007 – is designed to destroy Assange psychologically and physically. The corpses of civilians, including children, piled up by Israel and Saudi Arabia, who do much of their killing in Gaza and Yemen with U.S. weapons, don’t come close to the hundreds of thousands of dead the U.S. has left behind in the two decades of warfare it has perpetrated in the Middle East.  In 1991, a U.S.-led coalition destroyed much of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure, including water treatment facilities resulting in sewage contaminating the country’s drinking water. Then followed years of U.S., U.K. and French airstrikes enforcing a “No Fly Zone” along with crushing sanctions they imposed via the U.N. From 1991 to 1998, these sanctions alone were estimated to have killed 100,000 to 227,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, although the exact figures have been the subject of much dispute. The U.S. “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign of Iraqi urban centers during its subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003 dropped 3,000 bombs on civilian areas, killing over 7,000 noncombatants in the first two months of the war.  By one estimate, the U.S. has been responsible for directly or indirectly killing nearly 20 million people since the end of the Second World War.  Israel and Saudi Arabia are gangster states. But so is the United States. “There are few of them,” Biden, reacting to Democratic lawmakers who have criticized Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, told Israel’s Channel 12 news. “I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend and I make no apologies.” The angst about Biden’s not holding the Saudis and the Israelis to account on this visit is risible, as if we have any credibility left that allows us to arbitrate between right and wrong. The idea that Biden and the U.S. are brokers for peace was eviscerated long ago. The U.S. offers shameless support for Israel’s right-wing government, including vetoing U.N. resolutions that censor Israel. It refuses to condition aid on a respect for human rights even as Israel launches repeated murderous assaults against the civilian population in Gaza, labels Palestinian NGOs as terror groups, expands illegal Jewish-only settlements, carries out aggressive housing evictions of Palestinian families and mistreats Palestinian and Arab-American citizens at points of entry and within the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The idea that the U.S. represents and promotes virtue illustrates the self-delusion that accompanies America’s moral and physical degeneration. The rest of the world, which recoils in repugnance at what the U.S. has become, does not take it seriously. They fear U.S. bombs. But fear is not respect. They no longer envy America’s hedonistic mass culture, tarnished by mass shootings, social inequality, the decay of infrastructure, dysfunction and a Grand Guignol-style of politics that has turned civil and political discourse into a tawdry burlesque. America is a grim joke, one about to be made worse when the Christian fascists, bigots and conspiracy theorists take control of Congress in the fall, and I expect, the presidency two years later. The U.S., along with Israel, makes war on Muslims who, with an estimated 1.9 billion adherents, comprise nearly 25 percent of the world population. The U.S. has turned many in the Muslim world into its enemies. The Muslim world does not hate the U.S. for its values. It hates its hypocrisy. It hates its racism, its refusal to honor their political aspirations, its lethal attacks and military occupations and its crippling sanctions. Muslims express the rage felt by Guatemalans, Cubans, Congolese, Brazilians, Argentines, Indonesians, Panamanians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Filipinos, North and South Koreans, Chileans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans – those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” They too were slaughtered by the U.S. high-tech military machine and subjugated, humiliated, forced to accept U.S. hegemony and killed in American clandestine torture centers or by C.I.A.-backed assassins. No one is held accountable. The C.I.A. blocked all investigations into its torture program, including destroying videotape evidence of interrogations involving torture and classifying nearly all of the 6,900-page report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that examined the C.I.A.’s post-9/11 program of detention, torture and other abuse of detainees.  Biden goes to Saudi Arabia and Israel as a supplicant. As a presidential candidate, he called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and vowed to make it “pay the price” for Khashoggi’s murder. But with the rising price of oil, Biden is whitewashing the murder, along with the humanitarian disaster the Saudis have caused in Yemen, imploring the Saudis to increase output, a plea Prince Salman has rejected. Similarly, Biden is weak in Israel, powerless against the expansion of Jewish settlements and assaults on Palestinians, and unwilling to move the U.S. Embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, a move by the Trump administration that violates international law. Biden’s staff was reduced to pleading with the Israelis not to embarrass him as they did during his 2010 visit as vice president. During his 2010 visit, Israel announced it was building 1,600 new Jewish-only houses in illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. The Obama White House angrily condemned “the substance and timing of the announcement.” How can the U.S. bar Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from a summit of the Americas in Los Angeles and embrace the Saudi regime and the Israeli aparatheid state? How can it decry the war crimes of Russia and unleash industrial violence on the Mulism world? How can it plead for the 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, living in Xinjiang, and ignore the Palestinians? How can it justify another “preemptive war,” this time against Iran? The duplicity is not lost on most of the world. They know who the U.S. is. They know that in American eyes they are unworthy. The inevitable demise of the U.S. on the world stage is cheered by the majority of the planet. The tragedy is that, as it goes down, it is determined to take so many others down with it. *  *  * AUTHOR’S NOTE TO READERS: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my now weekly Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report. This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular column. Click here to sign up for email alerts. Tyler Durden Tue, 07/19/2022 - 23:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 20th, 2022

US Senators Meet With Ukrainian President, Discuss Designating Russia As "State Sponsor Of Terrorism"

US Senators Meet With Ukrainian President, Discuss Designating Russia As "State Sponsor Of Terrorism" Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the capital city of Kyiv on July 7 to discuss legislation that would assign a terrorism designation to Russia. (L–R) Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a composite image. (Alex Wong/Samuel Corum/Getty Images) The proposed bill seeks to designate Moscow as a “state sponsor of terrorism” and would place Russia alongside countries like North Korea, Syria, and Iran, Graham told Reuters in the joint interview with Blumenthal. Graham insisted that the proposal could garner near-unanimous support in the U.S. Senate. Blumenthal pointed to photos of suspected atrocities allegedly committed by Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Bucha back in March 2022 to support his argument that Russia deserved the “state sponsor of terrorism” designation. “If that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is,” Blumenthal said. International prosecutors are still investigating the incident with Ukrainian counterparts. The meeting between the U.S. senators and the Ukrainian president came as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned about more serious military action against the smaller nation. “Everybody should know that largely speaking, we haven’t even yet started anything in earnest,” Putin said during a meeting with leaders of the Russian parliament. “We are hearing that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. Let them try.” The Russian president also accused the West of wanting to “fight us until the last Ukrainian,” and said that attempts of the “collective West” to enforce “its version of the global order are doomed to fail.” Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine, dismissed these statements, adding that there was no “collective West” plan and that Putin’s mantra of “war to the last Ukrainian” is proof of deliberate genocide, he said in a July 8 tweet. Arming Ukraine During the meeting, the Ukrainian president broached the subject of the United States providing more arms to his country. “We appeal to you so that the Congress supports Ukraine in the matter of supplying modern air defense systems. We must ensure such a level of sky security that our people are not afraid to live in Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said, according to the official website of the Ukrainian president. In their interview with Reuters, both senators agreed that Ukraine could use U.S.-supplied weapons systems in insurgency campaigns within Russian-occupied territories. Blumenthal expressed support for further arming Ukraine, including providing air defense systems, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and HIMARS rocket systems “with longer ranges,” provided Kyiv does not use them to attack any Russian territory. “Long-range artillery is very, very important. But so is the hand-to-hand insurgency that we are hoping to see in eastern Ukraine, in the territory that’s already been occupied by the Russians,” Blumenthal said. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Tyler Durden Sun, 07/10/2022 - 07:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 10th, 2022

In Memoriam 2022

In Memoriam 2022 Authored by Robert Gore via Straight Line Logic blog, "You don’t fight for your country, you fight for your government." The Golden Pinnacle, by Robert Gore On Memorial Day, America remembers and honors those who died while serving in the military. It is altogether fitting and proper to ask: for what did they die? Do the rationales offered by the military and government officials who decide when and how the US will go to war, and embraced by the public, particularly those who lose loved ones, stand up to scrutiny and analysis? Some will recoil, claiming it inappropriate on a day devoted to honoring the dead. However, it is because war is a matter of life and death, for members of the military and inevitably civilians, that its putative justifications be subject to the strictest tests of truth and the most probing of analyses. Millions have marched off to war believing they were defending the US, which implies the US was under attack. Yet, setting aside for a moment Pearl Harbor and 9/11, US territory hasn’t been invaded by a foreign power since the Mexican-American War (arguably—Mexico claimed the territory it “invaded” was part of Mexico), or, if the Confederacy is considered a foreign power, the Civil War. That war ended a century-and-a-half ago, yet every US military involvement since has been justified as a defense of the US. That has gradually attenuated, in a little noted slide, to a defense of US “interests,” which is something far different. Only one of those involvements could, arguably, have been said to have forestalled not an invasion, but a possible threat of invasion: World War II. Watching newsreel graphics of Germany’s drives across Europe, Northern Africa, and the USSR, and Japan’s across Asia and the Pacific, it was perhaps understandable that Americans believed the Axis powers would eventually come for them, especially after Pearl Harbor. However, that was a one-off attack by the Japanese to disable the US’s Pacific Fleet. To launch an invasion of the US, Japan, a smaller, less populated nation whose economy depended on imports of vital raw materials, including oil, would have had to cross the Pacific and fight the US, and undoubtedly Canada, on their home territories. The Pearl Harbor attack, provoking America’s entry into the war, proved a strategic blunder for the Japanese. An invasion would have been ludicrous. Similarly, Germany, up to its eyeballs in a two-front war, couldn’t conquer Russian winters or Great Britain across the English Channel. How was it supposed to either cross the Atlantic, or the USSR and hostile guerrillas, then the Pacific, and attack the US? That, too, would have been ludicrous. The 9/11 attack was also a one-off. A majority of the attackers came not from a US enemy but rather a supposed ally, Saudi Arabia. They received funding and other support from people in that country and perhaps its government. A conventional war against a “state sponsor of terrorism” might have required war against Saudi Arabia; it is still not clear how involved its government was. That option was never considered. Rather, the Bush administration performed metaphysical gymnastics and launched the first war in history against a tactic: terrorism. Although the jihadists who perpetrated 9/11 were self-evidently not the vanguard of an invasion, the terrorism they employed was deemed a threat to US interests in the Middle East, and to life and property in the US. However, none of our subsequent involvements in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen have been necessary to maintain US citizens’ freedoms, the nation’s territorial integrity, or its lives and property. There are undoubtedly many epitaphs on tombstones in this country to the effect: Here lies the deceased, who died defending America, and not one that reads: Here lies the deceased, who died defending American interests. However, the latter is in most cases more accurate than the former. Who decides the interests for which members of America’s military will die? Those considering entering the military today must look beyond the slogans, contemplate the risks of being killed, wounded, dismembered, paralyzed, or psychologically traumatized, and ask themselves: why and for whom are these risks being borne? You don’t fight for your country, you fight for your government. Is it worth risking one’s life for the US government? In 1821, John Quincy Adams said America had not gone “abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” and while we wished those seeking liberty well, theirs was not our fight (see “In Search of Monsters,” SLL, 4/11/15). Since then, America has searched for monsters, found, and in some cases, destroyed them. However, as the poison of power has worked its evil on the minds and souls of those who possess it, the monsters have become more ethereal, apparitions conjured like creatures in the closet by children when they go to bed. The war on terrorism creates more terrorists, the monsters of choice since 9/11. The government still pays occasional lip service to “democratic values” and “civil liberties,” but allies itself with regimes which have no more fealty to those values and liberties than the “tyrants” the government opposes. “Defending America” and “Promoting Our Way of Life” have become transparent pretexts for American power and domination unbounded. As Adams so presciently warned, the search for monsters has turned the government itself into a monster, the biggest threat to Americans’ “inextinguishable rights of human nature.” Those who have fought and died to defend America and its freedoms are noble beyond measure. Those who pay self-serving tribute to their valor, but make war and expend lives as means to corrupt ends are evil beyond redemption. Honor the former; expose and oppose the latter. Tyler Durden Mon, 05/30/2022 - 21:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 30th, 2022

Nick Fuentes is well known as a white supremacist and anti-semite. That hasn"t stopped Trump and at least 5 GOP lawmakers from associating with him since 2017.

These controversial encounters have rattled the GOP with Kevin McCarthy and Mitt Romney urging other lawmakers to avoid Fuentes. America First Foundation leader and white nationalist Nick Fuentes; former President Donald Trump; Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia; Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of ArizonaGetty Images White nationalist Nick Fuentes has associated with several MAGA stars who claim they don't know him. Fuentes has spent time with Donald Trump, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, among others. GOP leaders like Kevin McCarthy and Mitt Romney have urged others to stay away from Fuentes.  Conservative firebrand Nick Fuentes has had dinner with, posed for pictures alongside, and welcomed on stage at least a half dozen Republicans since becoming a star of the white nationalist movement. Interactions with the America First Foundation leader have also prompted GOP lawmakers to deny knowing who Fuentes is and what he stands for. The Anti-Defamation League describes Fuentes as a white supremacist, anti-semite, and 2020 election-denier "who seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP." Fuentes, who has been similarly decried by the Department of Justice and Simon Weisenthal Center, also founded the far-right America First Political Action Conference in 2020 as an alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference.Embattled former President Donald Trump is currently trying to distance himself from Fuentes following a Thanksgiving holiday sit-down at Mar-a-Lago that included rapper Kanye West, now known as "Ye." The meeting blindsided Trump's 2024 campaign staff and rattled GOP leaders. "I don't think it's a good idea for a leader that's setting an example for the country or the party to meet with [an] avowed racist or antisemite," outgoing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday.  Here are the elected officials who've taken heat for entering Fuentes' orbit. Former President Donald TrumpFormer US President Donald Trump speaks during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images"He gets me," Trump reportedly said Tuesday as Fuentes flattered the former president's 2016 campaign and his in-your-face messaging. A Stop the Steal rally attendee who's been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the deadly siege at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Fuentes also told Trump that he was part of the otherwise unflappable MAGA base that's disappointed by Trump's inaction on behalf of the insurrectionists charged in the riot. Trump, who has floated pardoning Capitol rioters if he's elected again, blamed the standoffishness on advisors pushing him to be more "presidential," Axios reported. Since then, Trump has sought to downplay the radioactive encounter, writing on his social media platform Truth Social that he "didn't know Nick Fuentes." The attempted damage control hasn't satisfied Republicans who want the party to rid itself of the polarizing former president once and for all. "It's incumbent upon the Republican establishment, what's left of it, to stamp this kind of element from within the GOP once and for all," former Rep. Charlie Dent told CNN over the weekend. One-time Trump ally and possible 2024 presidential contender Chris Christie said the Fuentes meeting should be disqualifying. "This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump, which, combined with his past poor judgments, make him an untenable general election candidate for the Republican Party in 2024," the former governor of New Jersey said on Friday.Rep. Paul GosarRepublican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona speaks to reporters about his Fire Fauci bill during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesThe Arizona Republican has been heavily criticized for mingling with Fuentes. Gosar spoke at an America First PAC event in 2021, denied being involved in a planned 2021 fundraiser that upset GOP leaders, and then sent a prerecorded message to a 2022 AFPAC event that was later blamed on a "miscommunication" with his congressional staff. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah called Gosar and fellow AFPAC participant Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia "morons" for getting involved with Fuentes. "There's no place in either political party for this white nationalism or racism," the 2012 GOP presidential nominee told CNN in February, adding, "It's simply wrong."House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chastised Gosar for the 2022 incident, calling it "appalling and wrong." "The party should not be associated any time any place with somebody who is anti-Semitic," McCarthy said earlier this year. Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneRepublican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia speaks during an outdoor news conference on Capitol Hill September 20, 2022 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesThe far-right conspiracy theorist from Georgia claimed she knew nothing about Fuentes or his views when she decided to speak at the AFPAC conference in February 2022. "I'm not aligned with anything that may be controversial," Greene told CBS News in an interview a day after the conference. She attended the event to "address his very large following," describing them as "very young.""It's a generation I'm extremely concerned about," she said. "I went to talk to them about America First policies and I talked to them about what's important for our country going forward."When a reporter said Fuentes is a white nationalist, Greene responded, "I do not endorse those views."Last week, Greene on Twitter appeared to address Fuentes' concerns about the January 6 defendants, saying anyone who claims Trump is doing nothing for them "is either lying, clueless, or wants to hurt him.""I've been to a lot of rallies this year and I've heard him say he will pardon J6 defendants multiple times," tweeted Greene, who has visited the accused rioters in jail. "I have not heard any other potential 2024 presidential candidate say that yet."Former Rep. Steve KingRepublican Rep. Steve King of Iowa testifies during a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on September 26, 2017 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesThe polarizing Iowa Republican had already been punished for espousing white supremacist rhetoric before finding his way to Fuentes. McCarthy stripped King of his committee assignments in 2019 following a troubling interview with The New York Times. King, who lost his 2020 reelection bid after years of questionable behavior, said he felt like he was being targeted by a "political lynch mob." King spoke at AFPAC's 2021 gathering and posed for a picture with Fuentes, Gosar, and other attendees. Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachinIdaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin speaks with a supporter at a campaign event at a grocery store on March 19, 2022 in Idaho Falls, Idaho.Natalie Behring/Getty ImagesMcGeachin made a video appearance at the AFPAC 2022 in February and thanked those in attendance for "joining our efforts." When later confronted about her appearance by a Boise news reporter, she said she didn't know Fuentes and never met him. She also blamed the media."The mainstream media, you do this to conservatives all the time, but you don't do it to yourself," she told a KTVB7 reporter. "That every time, any time there's any kind of affiliation with anybody at any time on any stage, that we are all guilty by association. And it's not, it's not appropriate."The reporter later asked whether McGeachin would have said "yes" to the group if she had known who Fuentes was."Well, again, this movement is so much bigger than one individual. Who cares what Nick Fuentes has to say? Who cares?" she said. "There's thousands and thousands of young conservatives all across the country that are very concerned about what's happening to our country."In a statement responding to calls for her resignation, McGeachin called "America First" policies "vital," but also said she doesn't support identity politics or other discriminatory views.McGeachin, Idaho's first female lieutenant governor, was backed by Trump and beaten decisively in her primary challenge against the incumbent Gov. Brad Little. It was the first time since 1938 that a sitting governor had been challenged by a lieutenant governor of the same party, according to the Idaho Press. McGeachin, who made "election integrity" part of her platform, is now facing scrutiny for issuing partisan messages in her official state office newsletter, at taxpayer expense, ahead of the November elections.Arizona state Sen. Wendy RogersWendy Rogers in September 2018Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll CallRogers embraced Fuentes during her AFPAC speech as someone she truly respects, calling him the "most persecuted man in America.""Nick, and the other patriots in attendance at AFPAC: please keep doing what you're doing," she said. "I admire you, and I so appreciate how you never give up. We need more strong Americans like you."Rogers later posted an image of herself on her Gab and Telegram accounts, pictured with Fuentes and Gab founder Andrew Torba behind a dead rhinoceros branded with the Conservative Political Action Conference logo and a Jewish Star of David.The Arizona Senate censured her for violent rhetoric, but did not address anti-Semitism or white nationalism in its motion, Insider's Bryan Metzger reported.Rogers, who was endorsed by Trump, won reelection in November after prevailing against a GOP primary opponent who made Rogers' ties to Fuentes a key issue.State Sen. Kelly Townsend, an ultra conservative who challenged Rogers, told Insider that she  was "horrified" after watching a compilation video about Fuentes and she pleaded with Rogers to denounce him. Townsend also criticized Trump."If he's unwilling to speak out against Nick Fuentes, then why would I want an endorsement from somebody who can't do that?" she told Insider.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 28th, 2022

How Russian ally Kazakhstan is taking a stand against the Ukraine war

Kazakhstan is toeing the line between maintaining a friendly relationship with Russia while also building stronger ties with the European Union. Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Kazakhstan' President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during their meeting at Moscow's Kremlin on February 10, 2022.MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images) Russian ally Kazakhstan has been subtle but firm in its opposition to the Ukraine war. Some hawkish Russians have called for the "de-Nazification" of Kazakhstan, stoking fears it could be next. Kazakhstan is balancing its friendly relations with Russia with building stronger ties with the EU. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, its longtime ally Kazakhstan did not rush to its support.The former Soviet republic in central Asia, which shares a 4,750-mile long land border with Russia, maintains close relations with its neighbor. But despite being one of its closest allies, Kazakhstan has made subtle but firm moves to show it does not support Russia's invasion of Ukraine.Kazakhstan's official position on the war is to call for a ceasefire and a diplomatic solution, Magzhan Ilyassov, Kazakhstan's new ambassador to the UK, said in a press briefing attended by Insider.Following the invasion of Ukraine, fears have also been stoked that Russia could turn its sights to Kazakhstan next."I wouldn't lie and tell you that we're just watching it and think it's nothing to do with us," Ilyassov said."We're neighboring the Russian Federation. There are parts of our community and society that are very concerned about what's happened. There are some people who can extrapolate the scenario that it can happen to Kazakhstan."However, the ambassador pointed to the two countries' strong trade and economic ties and said it would not make sense for Russia to take any "hostile action" against the nation. A delicate balancing actKazakhstan has been toeing the line between maintaining a friendly relationship with its neighbor while also building stronger ties with the European Union. While already sharing close trade and investment ties, the EU and Kazakhstan pledged to forge "ever closer" relations at a meeting in Luxembourg in June.Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi attends the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council Meeting in Brussels, Belgium on May 10, 2021.Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesAlthough it has not outright criticized Russia for invading Ukraine, Kazakhstan has made its position clear.It denied a request to send troops to fight with Russia near the beginning of the war and has sent planeloads of humanitarian aid to Ukraine.Kazakhstan also declined to recognize the Russia-created breakaway republics Luhansk and Donetsk in southern Ukraine, which the country's president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made a point of stating in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin while speaking at an economic forum in St Petersburg in June.The threat of 'de-Nazification'Earlier this week, a guest on the show of Vladimir Solovyov, a well-known Russian TV presenter and propagandist, said that "the next problem is Kazakhstan" because "the same Nazi processes can start there as in Ukraine."—ТРУХА⚡️English (@TpyxaNews) November 22, 2022 Putin baselessly used "de-Nazification" as a pretext for invading Ukraine in February.Other Russian politicians have made similar comments about Kazakhstan, with Sergey Savostyanov, a Moscow city parliament deputy, praising Russia's so-called mission to "denazify" Ukraine and suggesting it should next turn its sights to countries including Kazakhstan.A social media post by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also questioned Kazakhstan's sovereignty and called it an "artificial state" this summer, but it was later deleted, and hackers were blamed."People don't understand why somebody on Russian TV would say that, what Kazakhstan has to do with Nazis," Ilyassov said.He said that while people in Kazakhstan were upset by the comments, it was important to note that Solovyov is a known provocateur, and Russian politicians who have made these comments tend to be very junior and perhaps looking to score points – meaning it is likely not reflective of any official position.Russia has indicated its unhappiness with its neighborAlthough Russia is presumably displeased by Kazakhstan's lack of support, it has chosen not to retaliate in any overt ways at a time when it has been slapped with global sanctions and alienated by the West.However, Russia has made small moves to suggest unhappiness with its neighbor."There have been some strange incidents, and no one is 100% sure if it's a coincidence or if it was designed," Ilyassov said.He pointed to this summer when, two days after Tokayev's comments in St. Petersburg, Russia temporarily shut down an oil terminal on the Black Sea that is key to exporting Kazakh oil, ostensibly due to "environmental concerns."The president has since told his government to diversify its oil supply routes.Kazakhstan aims to improve its reputationIn January, mass protests broke out across Kazakhstan over rising fuel prices, which was met with a brutal crackdown that led to the deaths of over 200 people.CSTO leaders in Yerevan, Armenia on November 23, 2022.Hayk Baghdasaryan/Photolure via REUTERSRussian-led troops were deployed to the country after Kazakhstan's president asked for assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation known as CSTO, consisting of several post-Soviet states. The move was criticized by Western leaders at the time, as Russia was amassing troops on the border of Ukraine.Kazakhstan has since tried to distance itself from the incident. Ilyassov said that Russian troops were there among others from all member states and left after nearly two weeks without being involved in any action. He added that an investigation was ongoing into the events following the January protests.Tokayev, who came to power in 2019, was re-elected as president in a snap election this week. He was congratulated by both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.An influx of Russian people and businessesKazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, and is bordered by Russia and China.Google MapsKazakhstan is vast, equivalent to the size of western Europe (1,000,000 sq mi), and it is the biggest landlocked country in the world. It has a diverse population of 19 million, which includes ethnic Kazakhs and Russians, and has also experienced an influx of Russian businesses and individuals.When Putin ordered the partial mobilization of reservists to Ukraine, it sparked an outpouring of fighting-age Russian men fleeing the country.Around 200,000 of them crossed the border into Kazakhstan, according to the country's official figures, and Ilyassov said that around 80% of them passed through to other destinations. Many of the remaining Russians have registered to work in the country.Dozens of foreign companies that had previously been based in Russia have also relocated to Kazakhstan.As Kazakhstan continues to try and maintain its balancing act, it remains to be seen how far it can push it without angering Moscow.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 27th, 2022

The ambitious career of Kevin McCarthy, GOP frontrunner for Speaker of the House

The frontrunner for Speaker of the House has held political office since 2002, when he began serving in the California State Assembly. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, is the GOP nominee for Speaker of the House. Over the course of his political career, McCarthy has developed a reputation for his ambition. Here's a look at his more than two decades in office and how his influence has grown among the GOP. Kevin McCarthy, a California congressman, is the House Republican nominee angling to replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House in the next congressional session. While he will still need to win 218 votes to win the Speaker's gavel when Congress convenes next year, the Bakersfield Republican has developed a reputation for his ambition over his more than 20-year political career and is favored to win the position. Here's a look at McCarthy's career, starting with his time in the California State Assembly to his recent years as a political influencer poised to become second in the line of presidential succession.  Representatives for McCarthy did not respond to Insider's requests for comment.Kevin McCarthy's political career began before he was elected to the California State Assembly. He worked in Rep. Bill Thomas's district office from 1987 to 2002, when he first won state office. The son of a Bakersfield assistant fire chief, McCarthy briefly ran a deli counter out of his aunt and uncle's frozen yogurt shop as a young adult but has worked in state or federal politics for his entire career.In this March 26, 2004 file photo, then-California State Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, left, talks to reporters after a meeting with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sacramento, Calif.AP Photo/Steve Yeater, FileMcCarthy served as California State Assemblyman until 2007 and was Assembly Minority Leader from 2004-2006. In 2006, he raised $1.15 million in campaign finances, according to OpenSecrets, slightly below the $1.36 million average raised by House members. In comparison, during the 2022 election, McCarthy raised $25.5 million — far above the $2.85 million average.In this Feb. 17, 2005 file photo, then-California State Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy, right, walks with then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, center, and Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, FileAfter winning his election as representative for California's 22nd Congressional District in 2007, after his former boss Bill Thomas retired from the seat, McCarthy's political influence began to grow. He served as Majority Whip, the third-ranking House Republican from 2011 to 2014.Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Thursday, June 21, 2007.Chuck Kennedy/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty ImagesIn his early years as a US Representative, McCarthy was one of three founding members of the GOP Young Guns Program — an initiative intended to promote young Republicans among the National Republican Congressional Committee.U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks on day one of the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center September 1, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesMcCarthy ran for his House seat unopposed in 2008 and 2010. Reflecting on his one-time student, Dr. Mohsen Attaran, professor of management at California State University, Bakersfield, who taught McCarthy in his BA and MA programs, told Insider, "He's at the same time an ambitious and compassionate individual."Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), shown here in the U.S. Capitol, December 9, 2009, was chosen in a poll of congressional insiders as the GOP member of Congress with the "brightest political future."Robert Giroux/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty ImagesIn 2012, McCarthy's congressional office was revealed to be one of the top spenders in Washington, spending the equivalent of two salaries — or $95,000 —on pastries and lunches, with an additional $4,000 being spent on bottled water, ABC reported. The next highest spender that year, Republican House Speaker John Boehner, spent a comparative $64,000.House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., leaves the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July, 11, 2012, after the Republican-controlled House voted 244-185 to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law.AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteIn his fifth term, McCarthy was part of a group of mostly GOP leaders who sued the Obama administration over the president's use of executive action related to the Affordable Care Act's employer health insurance mandate.McCarthy (R-CA), leaves a meeting of the House Republican conference June 18, 2014 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesBecoming more of a figurehead within the GOP, then-House Majority Leader McCarthy took a lead role in challenging the Obama administration's policy goals. He urged President Obama to sign legislation approving the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline and called for a firmer response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. He ran an unsuccessful bid for Speaker of the House in 2015.House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., center, with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., right, sponsor of the Senate's Keystone XL pipeline bill version, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the Republican Conference, urge President Barack Obama to sign the legislation passed in the House and Senate approving expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015.AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteMcCarthy was among the first Republicans to express support for Donald Trump and endorsed him for the Republican primary in the 2016 presidential election, signaling an alliance that would persist through two impeachments. McCarthy, now a GOP figurehead, also vastly out-fundraised other House Republicans in 2016— raising $7.74 million in campaign finance contributions compared to the average $1.73 million, according to OpenSecrets.Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Tuesday, July 19, 2016.AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteIn 2017, CalMatters reported "no politician has more clout with the Trump White House than [McCarthy] does," calling him "Trump's closest ally in Congress," though The Washington Post reported McCarthy had been recorded saying "I think Putin pays" Trump the year before.President-elect Donald Trump, followed by President Barack Obama, greets Congressional leadership as they arrive for Trump's inauguration ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, PoolAs House Majority Leader, McCarthy unified House Republicans in voting against Trump's first impeachment, related to allegations the former president threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine in order to enlist the government in discrediting his political rival, Joe Biden.House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., listen to President Donald J. Trump during a signing ceremony for S. 756, First Step Act and H.R. 6964, Juvenile Justice Reform Act in the Oval Office at the White House on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 in Washington, DC.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesMcCarthy has maintained his defense of the former president on numerous occasions, with CNN reporting he said "there's nothing that the president did wrong" on his phone call with Zelenskyy and Politico reporting he defended military expenditures at Trump's Scottish resort, saying "It's just like any other hotel."House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.AP Photo/Susan WalshFollowing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, McCarthy privately lambasted the then-president, even saying he would call for Trump's resignation while maintaining public support for him. Though their relationship was briefly questioned after recordings of McCarthy's criticism surfaced, Trump reaffirmed his belief in McCarthy's loyalty earlier this year.President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One, followed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., as he returns Saturday, May 30, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump is returning from Kennedy Space Center for the SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch.AP Photo/Alex Brandon"Kevin McCarthy will sell his mother's soul in order to protect his own political career and to do whatever the former president tells him to do. And that's not okay," McCarthy's 2022 political challenger, Marisa Wood, told Insider, echoing concerns from within his party that McCarthy's ambition had outweighed his morals. "He's willing to sacrifice everything for his own political gain," Liz Cheney said of McCarthy in October 2022.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during a news conference as Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., right, looks on at Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Pelosi is rejecting two Republicans tapped by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. She cited the "integrity" of the investigation.AP Photo/Jose Luis MaganaToday, McCarthy is a frontrunner for Speaker of the House just as Trump has announced his third presidential campaign. Though McCarthy still needs to win 218 votes to win the Speaker seat when Congress convenes next year, he's favored to win the position.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., heads to his office surrounded by reporters after House investigators issued a subpoena to McCarthy and four other Republican lawmakers as part of their probe into the violent Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, May 12, 2022.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, FileRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 25th, 2022

Turkey Says US Complicit In Istanbul Bombing, Rejects Condolence Message

Turkey Says US Complicit In Istanbul Bombing, Rejects Condolence Message We reported earlier on Monday that Turkey has made an arrest for the terror bombing of a busy tourist hub in central Istanbul which left six people dead and dozens more injured.  But soon after the rare deadly attack which Turkey quickly blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - and despite no official initial claims of responsibility - Ankara officials used the incident to air broader geopolitical grievances.  Police investigate the bombing scene, via Reuters. Turkey lashed out at Washington, going so far as to suggest the Untied States was to blame the blast. "Turkey’s interior minister accused the U.S. of being complicit in a recent bombing in the city of Istanbul on Sunday that left at least six people dead and dozens of others injured," The Hill reports. The accusation was prompted by an official condolence statement from the US Embassy in Ankara. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in a dramatic press conference said that Turkey has rejected the condolence statement from Washington.  "I emphasize once again that we do not accept, and reject the condolences of the US Embassy," Soylu said, according to Turkish state media publication Anadolu Agency. Soylu slammed the US statement as being akin to "a killer being first to show up at a crime scene." The allegation was hurled due to America's well known longtime support of Syrian Kurds, which form the core of the US-trained Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Ankara has long alleged that Washington is giving aid to "terrorists". The hugely provocative Turkish reaction to the US condolence message came despite the White House saying it stands "shoulder-to-shoulder" with its NATO ally Turkey. The U.S. strongly condemns the act of violence that took place today in Istanbul, Turkiye. Our thoughts are with those who were injured and our deepest condolences go to those who lost loved ones. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO Ally Turkiye in countering terrorism. — Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) November 13, 2022 Turkey will likely hold this against NATO applicants Finland and Sweden as well, given it has been blocking their membership to the Western military alliance based on accusations that they harbor Kurdish terrorists and entities linked to the outlawed PKK.  Turkey says it has a Syrian woman linked to the PKK in custody. However, both the PKK and Syrian YPG (as well as SDF) have issued official statements denying their involvement.  Tyler Durden Tue, 11/15/2022 - 04:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 15th, 2022

Putin ally running Russian mercenary army celebrates gruesome video that appears to show soldier who defected to Ukraine being executed by sledgehammer

Yevgeniy Nuzhin said he surrendered to Ukraine in September. On Saturday, a brutal video appeared to show him captured and executed by pro-Russian forces. A file photo of a soldier's helmet after Russian forces withdrew from Balakliia, Ukraine, on September 15, 2022.Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images A video shared on Saturday appears to show the brutal execution of Russian soldier Yevgeniy Nuzhin. Nuzhin said he was recruited to Russia's Wagner Group and surrendered to Ukraine in September. But the video suggests he was recaptured. Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner Group's founder, celebrated it. A video shared on a pro-Russian social media channel appears to show the brutal execution of a Russian mercenary who surrendered to Ukraine and was later captured by pro-Russian forces.The graphic video, which Insider has seen but is not linking to, was shared on November 12 and purports to show Yevgeniy Nuzhin, a Russian convict who was recruited into the Russian Wagner Group mercenary army but who later surrendered to Ukraine and intended to fight on its behalf.The video begins with a clip from an interview that Nuzhin gave in September in Ukraine, describing his decision to switch sides. Later, the video shows a man who closely resembles Nuzhin seemingly in Russian captivity and with his head taped to some bricks. According to independent Russian media outlet Meduza, the man identifies himself as Nuzhin and says that he joined the fighting in order to switch sides. He then says that on November 11 he was walking in Kyiv, was knocked out and woke up in a basement, to be told he would face judgment, per Meduza.A figure in combat gear loiters behind him, and then hits him in the head with a sledgehammer. His body falls to the floor, where another heavy blow is struck, his face out of view. Insider was unable to verify the video, and according to Meduza Nuzhin's death has not been officially confirmed in Russia.President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin has no knowledge of the incident and cannot verify it, adding: "It's none of our business," state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported. The video was shared by the pro-Russian channel the Grey Zone. The channel is associated with the Wagner Group, and shares recruitment calls for the private army, according to BBC Russia,On Sunday, Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin was quoted on a Concord Management Telegram channel commenting on the video and appeared to confirm the man was Nuzhin. Concord is a catering company founded by Prigozhin, who has long had the nickname of "Putin's chef." Prigozhin first admitted his ownership of the Wagner Group, Putin's favored mercenary army, in September. In the Concord post, Prigozhin was quoted as celebrating the man's death, saying: "Nuzhin is a traitor."Independent Russian outlet Important Stories reported in August that the Wagner Group was recruiting from Russian prisons.  Nuzhin's surrender to Ukraine first came to light through an interview he gave to Ukrainian journalist Yuri Butusov in September. In it, Nuzhin says he was convicted in 1999 when he got into a "messy situation" with gangs and "had to shoot at people," whereupon he killed someone and injured another, per Butusov's translation. In July 2022, Prigozhin visited his prison, promising a pardon and 100,000 rubles in exchange for enlistment to fight in Russia's war in Ukraine, Nuzhin said. According to his telling, Nuzhin soon learned that he was to be "cannon fodder." He said he decided to try to surrender and to fight for Ukraine instead.  Should the man in the November 12 video be Nuzhin, several questions remain as to how he ended up being captured.Ukraine's "I Want to Live" surrender hotline, launched two weeks after Nuzhin says he surrendered, offers clemency for Russian soldiers who wish to turn themselves in. The initiative promised confidentiality and no obligation to return to Russia, for example by way of a prisoner exchange. It is also unclear how a prisoner of war could be walking freely about the streets of Kyiv, as the man said he was doing before he was apparently captured by pro-Russian forces. Ukraine's Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 14th, 2022

Turkish Police Arrest "Terror" Suspect In Istanbul Bombing That Killed 6

Turkish Police Arrest 'Terror' Suspect In Istanbul Bombing That Killed 6 Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), An ambulance leaves the blast site after an explosion on busy pedestrian Istiklal street in Istanbul, Turkey, on Nov. 13, 2022. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)  Police in Turkey have arrested a suspect following an explosion in central Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue on Sunday that left six people dead, the interior minister has confirmed. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told local media outlets on Monday that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was behind the bombing on the packed street in the Beyoglu district of Turkey’s largest city. The PKK is a militant political organization aiming for the establishment of an independent Kurdish state within Turkey. The organization is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. An assessment carried out by officials suggests that “the order for the deadly terror attack came from Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria, where the PKK/YPG has its Syrian headquarters,” Soylu said. “We will retaliate against those who are responsible for this heinous terror attack.” #Breaking: Just in - Reports of an explosion in "#Istanbul", #Turkey, reports of multiple people injured. pic.twitter.com/UGbL9OmMFs — Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) November 13, 2022 No group has claimed responsibility for the blast yet. Soylu confirmed that six people were killed and 81 were injured in Sunday’s explosion, of which 51 have been released from the hospital and give are still in intensive care units. Two of the injured victims are in critical condition, he added. Video footage of the incident posted online shows hundreds of people fleeing the crowded area following a large explosion at around 4:13 p.m. local time. The explosion sent debris flying into the air and left several people lying on the ground. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on Nov. 2, 2022. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO/Handout via Reuters) ‘The Perpetrators of This Attack Will Be Exposed’ A separate video appears to show a woman, who is reportedly the suspect behind the bombing, sitting on a bench on the street for around 40 minutes before placing a bag on the bench and leaving the area. The explosion occurs around one or two minutes after she had left. Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters on Sunday that there are two possibilities regarding the bag: “Either that bag had a mechanism in it and it exploded on its own, or someone detonated it from afar.” Details regarding the victims are still being updated. However, a government ministry worker and his daughter are among those dead, according to officials. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday described the explosion as “treacherous” while offering his condolences to the victims. “Let our nation be sure that the perpetrators of this attack will be exposed with all its elements and punished as they deserve,” the President said. Several countries have also shared their condolences with Turkey and for the victims of Sunday’s attack, including Greece, Egypt, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Italy, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Sunday that the Biden administration “strongly condemns the act of violence” that took place in Istanbul and that the U.S. stands “shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO Ally Türkiye in countering terrorism.” “Our thoughts are with those who were injured and our deepest condolences go to those who lost loved ones,” the statement read. However, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on Monday took aim at what he called the “insincerity of our so-called allies,” who he said “seem like friends to us” but “either hide all terrorists in their own country, or give life to terrorists in the areas they occupy—areas they rule, and send them money in their own senates.” Tyler Durden Mon, 11/14/2022 - 10:15.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 14th, 2022

Escobar: Everybody Wants To Hop On The BRICS Express

Escobar: Everybody Wants To Hop On The BRICS Express Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Cradle, Eurasia is about to get a whole lot larger as countries line up to join the Chinese and Russian-led BRICS and SCO, to the detriment of the west... Let’s start with what is in fact a tale of Global South trade between two members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). At its heart is the already notorious Shahed-136 drone – or Geranium-2, in its Russian denomination: the AK-47 of postmodern aerial warfare. The US, in yet another trademark hysteria fit rife with irony, accused Tehran of weaponizing the Russian Armed Forces. For both Tehran and Moscow, the superstar, value-for-money, and terribly efficient drone let loose in the Ukrainian battlefield is a state secret: its deployment prompted a flurry of denials from both sides. Whether these are made in Iran drones, or the design was bought and manufacturing takes place in Russia (the realistic option), is immaterial. The record shows that the US weaponizes Ukraine to the hilt against Russia. The Empire is a de facto war combatant via an array of “consultants,” advisers, trainers, mercenaries, heavy weapons, munitions, satellite intel, and electronic warfare. And yet imperial functionaries swear they are not part of the war. They are, once again, lying. Welcome to yet another graphic instance of the “rules-based international order” at work. The Hegemon always decides which rules apply, and when. Anyone opposing it is an enemy of “freedom,” “democracy,” or whatever platitude du jour, and should be – what else – punished by arbitrary sanctions. In the case of sanctioned-to-oblivion Iran, for decades now, the result has been predictably another round of sanctions. That’s irrelevant. What matters is that, according to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), no less than 22 nations – and counting – are joining the queue because they also want to get into the Shahed groove. Even Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gleefully joined the fray, commenting on how the Shahed-136 is no photoshop. The race towards BRICS+ What the new sanctions package against Iran really “accomplished” is to deliver an additional blow to the increasingly problematic signing of the revived nuclear deal in Vienna. More Iranian oil on the market would actually relieve Washington’s predicament after the recent epic snub by OPEC+. A categorical imperative though remains. Iranophobia – just like Russophobia – always prevails for the Straussians/neo-con war advocates in charge of US foreign policy and their European vassals. So here we have yet another hostile escalation in both Iran-US and Iran-EU relations, as the unelected junta in Brussels also sanctioned manufacturer Shahed Aviation Industries and three Iranian generals. Now compare this with the fate of the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone – which unlike the “flowers in the sky” (Russia’s Geraniums) has performed miserably in the battlefield. Kiev tried to convince the Turks to use a Motor Sich weapons factory in Ukraine or come up with a new company in Transcarpathia/Lviv to build Bayraktars. Motor Sich’s oligarch President Vyacheslav Boguslayev, aged 84, has been charged with treason because of his links to Russia, and may be exchanged for Ukrainian prisoners of war. In the end, the deal fizzled out because of Ankara’s exceptional enthusiasm in working to establish a new gas hub in Turkey – a personal suggestion from Russian President Vladimir Putin to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And that bring us to the advancing interconnection between BRICS and the 9-member SCO – to which this Russia-Iran instance of military trade is inextricably linked. The SCO, led by China and Russia, is a pan-Eurasian institution originally focused on counter-terrorism but now increasingly geared towards geoeconomic – and geopolitical – cooperation. BRICS, led by the triad of Russia, India, and China overlaps with the SCO agenda geoeconomically and geopoliticallly, expanding it to Africa, Latin America and beyond: that’s the concept of BRICS+, analyzed in detail in a recent Valdai Club report, and fully embraced by the Russia-China strategic partnership. The report weighs the pros and cons of three scenarios involving possible, upcoming BRICS+ candidates: First, nations that were invited by Beijing to be part of the 2017 BRICS summit (Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Thailand, Tajikistan). Second, nations that were part of the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting in May this year (Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand). Third, key G20 economies (Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye). And then there’s Iran, which has already already shown interest in joining BRICS. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has recently confirmed that “several countries” are absolutely dying to join BRICS. Among them, a crucial West Asia player: Saudi Arabia. What makes it even more astonishing is that only three years ago, under former US President Donald Trump’s administration, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS) – the kingdom’s de fact ruler – was dead set on joining a sort of Arab NATO as a privileged imperial ally. Diplomatic sources confirm that the day after the US pulled out of Afghanistan, MbS’s envoys started seriously negotiating with both Moscow and Beijing. Assuming BRICS approves Riyadh’s candidacy in 2023 by the necessary consensus, one can barely imagine its earth-shattering consequences for the petrodollar. At the same time, it is important not to underestimate the capacity of US foreign policy controllers to wreak havoc. The only reason Washington tolerates Riyadh’s regime is the petrodollar. The Saudis cannot be allowed to pursue an independent, truly sovereign foreign policy. If that happens, the geopolitical realignment will concern not only Saudi Arabia but the entire Persian Gulf. Yet that’s increasingly likely after OPEC+ de facto chose the BRICS/SCO path led by Russia-China – in what can be interpreted as a “soft” preamble for the end of the petrodollar. The Riyadh-Tehran-Ankara triad Iran made known its interest to join BRICS even before Saudi Arabia. According to Persian Gulf diplomatic sources, they are already engaged in a somewhat secret channel via Iraq trying to get their act together. Turkey will soon follow – certainly on BRICS and possibly the SCO, where Ankara currently carries the status of extremely interested observer. Now imagine this triad – Riyadh, Tehran, Ankara – closely joined with Russia, India, China (the actual core of the BRICS), and eventually in the SCO, where Iran is as yet the only West Asian nation to be inducted as a full member. The strategic blow to the Empire will go off the charts. The discussions leading to BRICS+ are focusing on the challenging path towards a commodity-backed global currency capable of bypassing US dollar primacy. Several interconnected steps point towards increasing symbiosis between BRICS+ and SCO. The latter’s members states have already agreed on a road map for gradually increasing trade in national currencies in mutual settlements. The State Bank of India – the nation’s top lender – is opening special rupee accounts for Russia-related trade. Russian natural gas to Turkey will be paid 25 percent in rubles and Turkish lira, complete with a 25 percent discount Erdogan personally asked of Putin. Russian bank VTB has launched money transfers to China in yuan, bypassing SWIFT, while Sberbank has started lending out money in yuan. Russian energy behemoth Gazprom agreed with China that gas supply payments should shift to rubles and yuan, split evenly. Iran and Russia are unifying their banking systems for trade in rubles/rial. Egypt’s Central Bank is moving to establish an index for the pound – through a group of currencies plus gold – to move the national currency away from the US dollar. And then there’s the TurkStream saga. That gas hub gift Ankara for years has been trying to position itself as a privileged East-West gas hub. After the sabotage of the Nord Streams, Putin has handed it on a plate by offering Turkey the possibility to increase Russian gas supplies to the EU via such a hub. The Turkish Energy Ministry stated that Ankara and Moscow have already reached an agreement in principle. This will mean in practice Turkey controlling the gas flow to Europe not only from Russia but also Azerbaijan and a great deal of West Asia, perhaps even including Iran, as well as Libya in northeast Africa. LNG terminals in Egypt, Greece and Turkiye itself may complete the network. Russian gas travels via the TurkStream and Blue Stream pipelines. The total capacity of Russian pipelines is 39 billion cubic meters a year. Map of Russian gas route via Turkey TurkStream was initially projected as a four-strand pipeline, with a nominal capacity of 63 million cubic meters a year. As it stands, only two strands – with a total capacity of 31,5 billion cubic meters – have been built. So an extension in theory is more than feasible – with all the equipment made in Russia. The problem, once again, is laying the pipes. The necessary vessels belong to the Swiss Allseas Group – and Switzerland is part of the sanctions craze. In the Baltic Sea, Russian vessels were used to finish building Nord Stream 2. But for a TurkStream extension, they would need to operate much deeper in the ocean. TurkStream would not be able to completely replace Nord Stream; it carries much smaller volumes. The upside for Russia is not being canceled from the EU market. Evidently Gazprom would only tackle the substantial investment on an extension if there are ironclad guarantees about its security. And there’s the additional drawback that the extension would also carry gas from Russia’s competitors. Whatever happens, the fact remains that the US-UK combo still exerts a lot of influence in Turkey – and BP, Exxon Mobil, and Shell, for instance, are actors in virtually every oil extraction project across West Asia. So they would certainly interfere on the way the Turkish gas hub functions, as well on determining the gas price. Moscow has to weigh all these variables before committing to such a project. NATO, of course, will be livid. But never underestimate hedging bet specialist Sultan Erdogan. His love story with both the BRICS and the SCO is just beginning. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/29/2022 - 00:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 29th, 2022

Multipolar World Order – Part 4

Multipolar World Order – Part 4 Authored by Iain Davis via Off-Guardian.org, Part 1 of this series looked at the various models of world order. Part 2 examined how the shift towards the multipolar world order has been led by some surprising characters. Part 3 explored the history of the idea of a world ordered as a “balance of power,” or multipolar system. Those who have advocated this model over the generations have consistently sought the same goal: global governance. In Part 4 we will consider the theories underpinning the imminent multipolar order, the nature of Russia and China’s public-private oligarchies and the emergence of these two nations’ military power. THE WIDER CONTEXT OF THE UKRAINE WAR There is no evidence to suggest that the war in Ukraine is, in any sense, “fake.” The political and cultural differences among the populace of Ukraine are older than the nation-state, and the current conflict is rooted in long-standing and very real tensions. People are suffering and dying, and they deserve the chance to live in peace. Yet, beyond the specific factors that led to and have perpetuated the conflict in Ukraine, there is a wider context that also deserves discussion. The so-called leaders in the West and in the East have had ample opportunity and power to bring both sides in the Donbas war to the negotiating table. Their attempts to broker ceasefires and to implement the various Minsk agreements over the years were weak and half-hearted. Both sides, it seems, chose instead to play politics with Ukrainian lives. And both sides ultimately fuelled the conflict. The West has done little but exacerbate the situation. And, though it faced a tough economic choice, the Russian government could certainly have leveraged its commanding position in the European energy market to better effect. If, that is, avoiding war were the objective. Whatever else it is, the war in Ukraine is the fulcrum for a transition in the balance of geopolitic power. Like the pseudopandemic that immediately preceded it, the war is accelerating the polarity shift. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was right to observe that the Ukraine war is “a gift to NATO.” Just as the West has delivered the Russian government’s monetary policy to them, so Putin’s administration has rescued NATO from vanishing relevance. Both poles are strengthened, if for different reasons. At the same time the European Union (EU) is capitalising on both the war and the sanctions it imposed in order to reinvigorate its push towards EU military unification. The UK is involved in this push, even though in 2016 its population elected, via referendum, to leave the EU, specifically because a majority of voters did not want to give “national sovereignty” away to the union leadership. But, as we can see, it doesn’t matter what the people vote for or against. Despite having supposedly left the EU, the UK’s newly unelected Prime Minister has just signed up the UK as a “Third State,” bound by Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) agreements, under the direct military command of Brussels. As the UK partly hands its independent defence capability to the EU, it is playing its part in assisting the emergence of another pole. The International Monetary and Financial System (IMFS), which has thus far underwritten unipolar domination, is being transformed now that it’s reaching the end of its life cycle. Economic growth is being deliberately stifled in the West via sanctions but encouraged in the East. Energy flows and consumption patterns are being redirected eastward. Simultaneously, effective military power is being “rebalanced.” During the pseudopandemic, we saw much evidence of global coordination. Most unusually, almost every government acted in lockstep. China, the US, Russia, Germany, Iran, the UK and many other nations followed the same false narrative. All participated in shutting down global supply chains and limiting world trade. Most countries assiduously heeded the World Economic Forum’s preferred path of global “regionalisation.” The few that resisted were considered international pariahs. What has happened since then? We’re told the war in Ukraine has reintroduced the same old East-vs-West division that most of us are more familiar with. Yet in nearly every other significant way nations remain strangely in total agreement. It seems The war in Ukraine is practically the only dispute. MULTIPOLAR THEORY The proposed multipolar world order does not constitute a defence of the nation-state. We have already discussed how the multipolar model dovetails quite precisely with the “Great Reset” (GR) agenda, so it should come as little surprise that multipolar theory also rejects the suggested Westphalian concept of national sovereignty. Russia has numerous think tanks and GONGOs (government organized non-governmental organizations). Just as in the West, these are funded and influenced by both the public and private sectors, working in partnership. As noted by the Swedish Defense Research Agency, Russian think tank funding “part comes from the government and the rest from private actors and clients, usually big business.” Katehon is the “independent” think tank established by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofyev (Malofeev), who has been sanctioned by the US since 2014 for his support of Ukrainian Russians, first in Crimea and then in the Donbas. The Katehon board includes Sergey Glazyev, the economist and politician who is the current Commissioner of Macroeconomic Integration for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). In 2018, Katehon pointed out that, despite all talk to the contrary, multipolarity had largely been defined as opposition to unipolarity. That is, expressed in terms of what it isn’t rather than what it is. Katehon sought to rectify this, offering its Theory of the Multipolar World (TWM): Multipolarity does not coincide with the national model of world organization according to the logic of the Westphalian system. [. . .] This Westphalian model assumes full legal equality between all sovereign states. In this model, there are as many poles of foreign policy decisions in the world as there are sovereign states [. . .] and all of international law is based on it. In practice, of course, there is inequality and hierarchical subordination between various sovereign states. [. . .] The multipolar world differs from the classical Westphalian system by the fact that it does not recognize the separate nation-state, legally and formally sovereign, to have the status of a full-fledged pole. This means that the number of poles in a multipolar world should be substantially less than the number of recognized (and therefore, unrecognised) nation-states. Multipolarity is not a system of international relations that insists upon the legal equality of nation-states[.] The unipolar world doesn’t protect the nation-state any more than the multipolar model does, Katehon observed. According to Katehon, the Westphalian model, in its application, has always been a myth. We might say it is just another “idea” political leaders peddle to delude us into accepting the policy goals they create. They occasionally exploit “nationalism” because it is useful. EURASIANISM In their efforts to cast Vladimir Putin as a comic book villain, the Western mainstream media (MSM) has attempted to personally link him to the controversial Russian political-philosopher and strategist Aleksandre Dugin. They have labelled Dugin Putin’s Rasputin or Putin’s “brain” and have alleged that Putin considers Dugin a close ally and his favourite philosopher. There was never any foundation to these stories, however. Speaking in 2018, Dugin said “I do not hold an official position within the state apparatus. I don’t have a direct line with Putin, I’ve never even met him.” In 2022, the Western MSM’s allegations prompted Alain de Benoist, Dugin’s political and philosophical collaborator and friend of more than 30 years, to observe: Putin’s “brain!” The fact that Dugin and Putin have never met once face-to-face is a good measure of the seriousness of those who use this expression. [. . .] Dugin undoubtedly knows Putin’s entourage well, but he was never one of his intimates or his “special advisers.” [. . .] The book he wrote a few years ago on Putin is far from being an exercise in admiration: Dugin on the contrary explains both what he approves of in Putin and what he dislikes. Although Dugin has no special relationship with the Kremlin, this doesn’t mean his ideas aren’t influential there. He has acted as an advisor to the Chairman of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, and to the Chairman of the State Duma, Gennadiy Seleznyov, so he certainly has political connections and is heard by the Russian political class. Dugin is perhaps the leading modern voice for Eurasianism. In a 2014 interview, he explained his interpretation of both Eurasianism and its place within multipolarity this way: Eurasianism is based on the multipolar vision and on the rejection of the unipolar vision of the continuation of American hegemony. The pole of this multipolarism is not the national state or the ideological bloc, but rather the great space (Grossraum) strategically united within the borders of a common civilization. The typical great space[s] [are] Europe, the unified USA, Canada and Mexico, or united Latin America, Greater China, Greater India, and in our case Eurasia.[. . .] The multipolar vision recognizes integration on the basis of a common civilization. [. . .] Putin’s foreign policy is centred on multipolarity and the Eurasian integration which is necessary to create a truly solid pole. Neither the oligarchs nor the global political class are deluded enough to believe that they can simply commend one political philosophy or another, or one cultural ideology or another, and thereby control the behaviour and beliefs of humanity. There will always be the need for some Machiavellian skulduggery. Putin has frequently espoused Eurasianist ideas. Conversely, Dugin is among those who have criticised Putin for his lack of a clear ideology: He must translate his individual intuition into a doctrine intended to secure the future order. He just doesn’t have a declared ideology, and that’s becoming more and more problematic. Every Russian feels that Putin’s hyper-individual approach poses a huge risk. In 2011, Putin announced his plan to create the Eurasian Union, much to the delight of Dugin and other the Eurasianists like Malofyev and Glazyev. Putin published an accompanying article: We suggest a powerful supranational association capable of becoming one of the poles in the modern world and serving as an efficient bridge between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. [. . . .] It is clear today that the 2008 global crisis was structural in nature. We still witness acute reverberations of the crisis that was rooted in accumulated global imbalances. [. . .] Thus, our integration project is moving to a qualitatively new level, opening up broad prospects for economic development and creating additional competitive advantages. This consolidation of efforts will help us establish ourselves within the global economy and trade system and play a real role in decision-making, setting the rules and shaping the future. Alexander Dugin Putin pointed towards a global crisis that led to the claimed need for a supranational body that could act as a pole for decision-making in a global system based upon a balance of power. What he said follows a pattern; all those who extol global governance have used the same rhetorical trick. This pattern is currently being repeated again. Irrespective of any other beliefs he may hold, Putin’s commitment to resetting the global polity is clear. Eurasianism renders the Russian Federation a “partner” within a wider union. Currently the Eurasian Union only exists in the economic sense, and Russia is overwhelmingly dominant within it. Similarly, Russia’s permanent position in the UN Security Council affords Russia relative dominance within the UN. Nonetheless, while the Russian government may hope to benefit from such unions and councils, by forming “poles” in a multipolar system and setting policies influenced by ideas like Eurasianism, it has diluted and declared a plan to eventually cede Russian “national sovereignty” to the union—to the pole. Putin’s pursuit of Eurasianism and multipolarity doesn’t necessarily indicate anything other than pragmatism. Nor does it represent a defence of the Russian nation-state. We can only guess, but Putin’s preference for Eurasianism and multipolarity is unlikely to be rooted in any particular ideology. Rather, it serves a purpose, providing his government and its partners a bigger stake in “the game.” TIANXIA Putin’s notion of “Eurasian integration” jibes with the Chinese ideology of “tianxia,” which can be translated as “everything under heaven.” In Chinese antiquity, tianxia placed the empire at the pinnacle of a global moral hierarchy. Confucian universal care dictates that a civilised state cares for its own, first and foremost, but cannot consider itself civilised if it doesn’t care for others, too. Other states are considered civilised if they care for their citizens and barbaric if they don’t. Therefore, all civilised states should care more for the interests of other peaceful and civilised states than they do for the needs or desires of barbaric states. Consequently, bonds are naturally formed between caring states, creating a kind of organic geopolitical order, as each state places its own people at the centre of a network of civilised relationships. In tianxia, the practice of Confucian universal care also operates within all institutions that comprise a state. For instance, civilised individuals naturally care for their families and their immediate communities more than they care for people outside those circles. However, no one is to act selfishly at the expense of other citizens, no matter where they reside, without falling into barbarism themselves. This is a model of state that is not based upon ethnic or “blood” ties or even national borders, but rather upon a hierarchical system of morality. Tianxia has been promoted by a few Western commentators as a “beautiful” idea. Like a philosophical Mandelbrot set it suggests a perfect moral symmetry at both at the micro and the macro scale. The multipolar world order, supposedly with tianxia at its heart, is therefore recommended as a wonderful new model of global governance and is frequently described as “win, win cooperation.” Academics like Professors Zhao Tingyang and Xiang Lanxin have said that the global adoption of tianxia would establish a “post-Westphalian world.” This view stems from their assessment that the Westphalian order is ideologically stagnant, limited to nothing more than an expedient balance of power system wherein “might is right.” The criticism from these tianxian scholars is not a fair reflection of the moral precepts expressed by the Peace of Westphalia—treaties that extolled the Christian values of forgiveness, tolerance and peaceful cooperation. The scholars’ assessment is, however, a reasonable appraisal of the actual conduct of Western states that only pretend to honour Westphalian principles. Professor Lanxin points out that China “has no ontological tradition.” That is, philosophically tianxia doesn’t ask “what is this?” but rather “what path does this suggest?” If tianxia were applied to China’s strategic foreign policy, it would be ambivalent to ideas like national sovereignty. Much like the moral foundations of Westphalian international relations, tianxia is professed but not practised. Currently, for example, China is arming the UAE and the Saudi regimes to wage war in Yemen and is also stealing Yemen’s natural resources. Is this tianxia? Where is the “win” for the Yemeni people in China’s behaviour? The drawback of noble ideas is that they can be exploited by hard-nosed geostrategists to sell any policy agenda they like. The theories of tianxia and Eurasianism provide a grounding for multipolarity. The philosophy isn’t the problem, it is its exploitation by the engineers of multipolar global governance. They don’t care what the intent of an idea is. They care only how they can use that ideology or philosophy to justify their actions if anyone asks. If philosophical thought suggests some useful strategies, all the better. When global governance over a multipolar system is the goal, then tianxia, like Eurasianism, certainly is “beautiful.” Consider the words of Professor Zhou: [Some are] concerned that tianxia would lead to “Pax Sinica” replacing “Pax Americana.” However, this concern is misplaced because under tianxia, there would be no place for a king — the system itself is king. In this sense, it would be a bit like Switzerland, where various language groups (French, German, Italian, Romansh) and local cantons all coexist in a commonwealth of roughly equal parts where the center in Bern is essentially a coordination point with a rotating president whose power is so constrained that some Swiss citizens can’t even name the person occupying the post. Tianxia relegates the political voice of the people to an irrelevance. It is multipolar, defining political power as a networked system that is not limited by national sovereignty or unipolar authority but rather operates “constrained” centres of power. For those who manipulate geopolitics covertly, it is perfect: the system itself is king. Tianxia may be a serene philosophy, but what really matters is how the theory is applied to policy. The 2017 authorised publication titled Forge Ahead under the Guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Thought on Diplomacy by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi gives us a glimpse of the kind of thing China’s political class and others call “win, win cooperation.” Xi Jinping […] puts forward new propositions on security, development and global governance. […] Xi Jinping […] has underscored China’s role and contribution to world peace and development and to upholding the international order. […] China has […] played a leading role in the Asia-Pacific cooperation, the G20’s transformation and the course of economic globalization[.] […] China has promoted the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund and the BRICS New Development Bank, and has taken an active part in the formulation of rules governing such emerging areas as marine and polar affairs, cyberspace, nuclear security and climate change. […] The [Belt and Road] initiative has been widely commended for lending impetus to global growth and boosting confidence in economic globalization. […] We have taken an active part […] and worked with other countries to tackle global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cyber security and refugees. […] We advocated the formulation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and became the first country to release its national plan on implementation. It turns out that the alleged application of tianxia means upholding the international order, international financial and monetary system reform, Agenda 2030, counterterrorism, controlling human capital, exercising global cybersecurity, economic globalization and, of course, global governance. It seems Xi Jinping’s tianxia-inspired “thoughts” are just the same as the thoughts of the Rockefellers, Vladimir Putin, Klaus Schwab and all other members of the multipolar sales team. RUSSIA – THE FUSION OF THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE OLIGARCHY The Russian government and its think tanks and and oligarchs are not alone in advocating a “regionalized” world of poles. With its five “groups,” a nascent multipolar world order already exists in the form of the G20. The G20’s enthusiasm for a single global tax system demonstrates the intention to move toward a much firmer system of global governance. Previously we noted that Putin purged the oligarch collaborators of the West in fairly short succession after becoming President. Much has been written about his war against the “5th columnists.” This often infers that Putin is somehow opposed to the power of oligarchs. That isn’t true at all. The Russian government has no problem with people making huge amounts of money and then using it to exercise political power. It is just that political power must promote the Russian government’s aspirations. In fact, one of the perks of being in Putin’s circle is the opportunity to become fabulously wealthy. We have already discussed the obscene levels of wealth inequality in Russia, particularly in terms of its concentration in the hands of the oligarchs. Putin hasn’t put an end to this elitism; he has facilitated it on a grand scale. To put the matter in perspective: when Putin became President in 1999—that is, “elected” in 2000—there were a handful of Russian billionaires and oligarchs. Today, according to Forbes, there are more than 100. Perhaps it is just another coincidence, but the sanctions have provided an impetus for Russian oligarchs living overseas to return to the motherland, a trend that has effectively strengthened the Kremlin’s bond with its oligarch “partners.” In 1999, Putin inherited a Russian economy that had been holed out. Between 1999 and 2014, he oversaw a remarkable Russian economic recovery. Living standards improved significantly, GDP rose from $200 billion in 1999 to $2.2 trillion in 2014. Putin led Russia from the 20th largest economy in the world to the 7th (now 11th). It seems that luck—or price fixing!—may have played a part in this apparent economic miracle. Russia’s GDP growth tracks the global oil price quite precisely. While the Russian people benefited from some of this growth, fuelling a consumer boom, the same period also saw a huge increase in wealth inequality. A new class of Russian oligarchs hoovered up a disproportionate share of Russia’s national wealth. During his 2000 campaign to be formally anointed as President, when a radio journalist asked Putin how he would define “oligarch” and what he thought of them, he said: [The] fusion of power and capital — there will be no oligarchs of this kind as a class. Once secured in power, though, Putin’s team constructed a crony capitalist regime that is the epitome of the “fusion of power and capital.” He and his entourage effectively inverted the Western model of oligarch control, where capital is converted into political power. In Russia, political power enables the accumulation of capital, creating an almost unique class of oligarchs. Gazprom, the world’s largest publicly listed gas company, provides a case study demonstrating how the Russian oligarchy functions. Dmitry Medvedev and Alexei Miller worked in St Petersburg alongside Putin during the 1990s. Medvedev was the mayoral campaign manager for Anatoly Sobchak, who subsequently co-authored the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Putin was an advisor and then deputy to Sobchak. Miller served on the mayor’s Committee for External Relations. When Putin became President, he gave Medvedev the highest civil service rank in Russia and made Miller the Deputy Minister of Energy. Meanwhile, Putin decreed that Gazprom was a “national champion”—meaning a “private” corporation the Russian government considers essential to the Russian economy. Through various funds, the Russian government retained its 50.2% controlling interest in Gazprom, which makes Gazprom a public-private partnership. Putin appointed Medvedev and Miller to the Gazprom board. Medvedev acted as chairman until 2008, when he was selected as the nominal President of the Russian Federation, while Putin temporarily acted as Prime Minister for a few years. Miller was appointed as Gazprom CEO in 2001 and is still in that post. In 2006, Gazprom released the construction cost of its Altay pipeline from West Siberia to China. The same year it also released the expenditure figures for its Gryazovets-Vyborg pipeline. The per-kilometer cost of the Gryazovets-Vyborg pipeline was four times higher than the comparable Altay pipeline or similar pipelines, such as the OPAL pipeline in Germany. In 2008, the Russian firm PiterGaz Engineering estimated the total construction cost of the Sochi pipeline to be $155 million—at the current exchange rate. Yet Gazprom paid the present-day equivalent of $395 million. This inflated price prompted the East European Gas Analysis (EEGA) to note: Russian pipeline engineering institutions, including the corresponding divisions of Gazprom, give realistic estimations of pipeline construction costs, comparable with those of western projects. However, it looks like, on the way to the top management of Gazprom, these cost estimations get at least tripled. [. . .] Apparently, after getting a realistic cost estimation, Gazprom executives add a generous margin for contractors and brokers, so the total project cost gets 3-4 times higher. Such slush funds are found in every sector of the Russian economy, most notably in defence, infrastructure development and healthcare. The proceeds are then doled out to loyal oligarchs. They are “oligarchs” in the fullest sense of the word. Their wealth is dependent upon their partnership with the political state. In return, they use their wealth to forward the policies of the state. Their capital couldn’t be more “political.” For example, Alexey Mordachov owns the steel giant Servestal that supplies gas pipeline to Gazprom for its development projects, such as the Yakutia-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline (aka the China–Russia East-Route). Other oligarchs profiting from the scheme include Putin’s personal friends Gennady Timchenko, who owns the OAO Stroytransgaz construction company, and Arkady Rotenberg, whose Stroygazmontazh (S.G.M. Group) forms Russia’s largest gas pipeline and power grid construction company. The oligarchs are profiting from the construction of the Arctic Silk Road. They deploy their resources to ensure that the Russian government’s foreign policy objectives are realised. The Russian oligarchs and the Russian political class are in a symbiotic relationship: a public-private partnership constructing the multipolar world order. In so doing, they are engaging in the Great Reset, implementing the Rockefellers’ vision and fulfilling the dreams of Carroll Quigley’s Anglo-American network. The Russian state is more than just a public-private partnership. Moving beyond mere contractual arrangements and shared strategic goals, Russia’s government has fused the corporate and the political into a single public-private nation-state. Despite the slaughter going on in the Ukraine war and all sides’ refusal to unconditionally negotiate, Russia’s “state-owned” private energy corporation Gazprom has apparently settled its dispute with Ukrainian “state-owned” energy corporation Naftogaz and is pumping 42.4 million cubic meters of natural gas a day through Ukraine to Western Europe energy markets. The Russian Federation is paying the Ukrainian government substantial transit fees. It is effectively funding Ukraine’s war effort. The war is only for the little people. CHINA – THE FUSION OF THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE OLIGARCHY The only major developed economy in the world to have gone further than Russia in fusing the public and private sectors is China. China is a neo-fuedal capitalist state operating as a technocracy under the leadership of an oligarch dynasty. The great military and political leaders of Mao Zedong’s revolution who later successfully evaded Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) were collectively referred to as the “eight immortals.” When the Rockefellers and the Trilateral Commission dispatched Henry Kissinger to prepare the ground for US President Nixon’s visit to China in the early 1970s, seven of the immortals decided to throw their collective political weight behind fellow immortal Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms. Deng Xiaoping The process of opening up China’s economy began in earnest following Mao’s death in 1976. Prominent Trilateralists such as then-US President Bill Clinton, global investment firms, Western-based multinational corporations and private investors stepped up foreign direct investment to assist China’s immortals in modernising the country’s economy, financial sector, military, industrial and technological capability. The modernisation enabled the rise of China’s oligarchy. For example, the immortal General Wang Zhen supported Deng’s economic liberalism but also sliced off huge chunks of China’s state assets and placed them in trust to his son, Wang Jun. Subsequently, Wang Jun collaborated with Deng’s economic advisor, Rong Yiren, to seed his now private capital into Citic Group Corp, which then became China’s “state-owned” investment company. Citic Group is a public-private partnership that today has significant influence over China’s financial services, advanced manufacturing technology, production of modern materials and urban development. In this way the immortals effectively created a public-private dynasty in China. Their immensely wealthy offspring are now collectively referred to as the “Princelings.” The Princelings can broadly be divided into three groups, each influencing important Chinese sectors and industry: political Princelings, such as Xi Jinping, manage the public sector military Princelings manage the defence and national security sectors entrepreneur Princelings manage the private sector. As a group, they have huge influence over China’s domestic and foreign policy. China is a one-party state but has not abandoned politics. The selection of Xi Jinping as Paramount Leader in 2012 marked an effective power-shift toward the Princelings, who many consider to represent the “elite.” They are “opposed” by the “Tuanpai,” whose power base stems from the Communist Youth League movement established by former president Hu Jintao. The Tuanpai are broadly popularist and more focused on the issues of working Chinese people. Other factions, such as the “Shangai Gang” and the “Tsinghua Clique,” add to the political mix. Technocracy controls citizens through the allocation of resources. China leads on the technocratic aspects of the Great Reset. It is the world’s first operational Technate, wherein the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) oversees the surveillance and control of the population through its social credit system: The establishment of a social credit system is an important foundation for comprehensively implementing the scientific viewpoint of development. [. . .] Accelerating and advancing the establishment of the social credit system is an important precondition for promoting the optimized allocation of resources. The idea is that citizens can be rewarded for good behaviour and penalised for bad. Speaking to French Television, one of the lead developers of China’s social credit system was asked how French adoption of it might have impacted the Yellow Vest protests in France. Lin Jinyue replied: I really hope that we will manage to export it in a capitalist country. [. . .] I believe that France should quickly adopt our system of social credit, to regulate their social movements. [. . .] If you had had the system of social credit, the Yellow Vests would never have been. Coincidentally, social credit-style surveillance has been greatly enhanced as a result of the pseudopandemic that began in China. To travel on public transport, enter civic buildings, be admitted to the workplace and so on, it is necessary for China’s citizens to scan their COVID Pass QR code. Green allows them to move freely; Red prevents their free movement. Biometric identification via facial recognition scanning is required to register a sim card in China. The biometric data system allows the NDRC to track the movements of every citizen and allows biosecurity to be enforced nationally. Covid QR codes, combined with digital ID, means that China’s Technate is on its way to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 16. SDG 3 reads: Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks And SDG 16 says: By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration “Legal identity” is UN code for digital identity. The Chinese technocratic oligarchy is also ahead of other countries in its development and implementation of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Bo li recently vacated his position as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of China to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as its Deputy Managing Director. Speaking at the IMF’s Central Bank Digital Currencies for Financial Inclusion: Risks and Rewards symposium, Bo Li discussed the claim that CBDC would improve so-called “financial inclusion”: CBDC can allow government agencies and private sector players to program [CBDC] to create smart-contracts, to allow targetted policy functions. For example[,] welfare payments [. . .], consumptions coupons, [. . .] food stamps. By programming, CBDC money can be precisely targeted [to] what kind of [things] people can own, and what kind of use [for which] this money can be utilised. For example[,] for food. So this potential programmability can help government agencies precisely target their support to those people who need support. So, in that way we can also improve financial inclusion. Perhaps so—although the improvement will only be afforded tothe citizen who obeys the”government agencies and private sector players”—the Princelings. Engage in “bad” behaviour and and CBDC will be used to target you for financial “exclusion.” With CBDC in place, there would be no need to switch people’s QR code to red to stop them from attending a protest. Simply program their CBDC to prevent train ticket purchases or the use of money more than a mile from home. Physical lockdowns of Covid days are replaced by CBDC lockouts, which are much easier to enforce. Bo Li speaking at the IMF symposium THE MULTIPOLAR MILITARY DIMENSION Global economic and financial power is backed up by military force. So if the powers-that-be are serious about building a new system of super-powered poles, they need to have the muscle to hold their respective positions. After all, a multipolar world order cannot be stabilised and enforced unless each pole presents a genuine military threat to the other. For most of the post-WWII period, the US-led unipolar NATO alliance possessed the most advanced military technology. Not only did the West dominate monetarily, financially and economically, it had the military advantage to go with it. Yet, just like every other aspect of former Western dominance, that, too, has disappeared, and military power has blossomed elsewhere. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, Russia is claiming technological military supremacy. It is now ahead in the arms race. The US has confirmed that Russia used a functioning hypersonic missile in Ukraine, a fact that Joe Biden called “consequential” and frankly admitted “is almost impossible to stop.” China, too, has fired a hypersonic missile. It apparently circled the globe. It then dispatched a hypersonic glide missile that struck its target in China. Again, confirmation came from senior US military officials, who called the technological advance “stunning.” Now China says it may soon be able to arm its navy with these superior weapons. Meanwhile, the West’s dunderheads, who until relatively recently dominated militarily, simply can’t wrap their minds around the ramjet engine technology (or scramjet) that powers this new breed of missiles. While China has confirmed global flight tests and pinpoint hypersonic accuracy and Russia has actually used them in the battlefield, the Pentagon and the US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and its private-sector partners like Raytheon are still fumbling about with limited tests, hoping they might be able to develop the same operational capability sometime soon. If you can believe that! The British can’t build ships that function in warm water, and their aircraft carriers can’t sail more than a few nautical miles without breaking down. The US Navy can’t sail its ships at all. And no one in the West can build a fighter aircraft that actually works. Yet Russia has taken submarine technology to a new level, and everyone is pretty sure China has developed AI “intelligentized” fighting capability. The West’s sudden inability to stay in, let alone lead, the technological arms race certainly seems to mark a polar shift in the global military balance of power. It is likely that the Western military-industrial complex is kicking itself after spending the last 30 years handing its military technology over to the East. Now look what they’ve done! CONCLUSION The Russian government and the Chinese government are not “worse” than the US, the UK or the French government. They are just governments doing what governments do. They represent the interests of those who can keep them in power—or remove them. The multipolar world order ends the last vestiges of national sovereignty. It is the geopolitical Great Reset: the culmination of the oligarch’s longstanding plan to establish a system of global governance that affords them dominion over all. If the multipolar system proceeds, which seems likely, the 193 nations—give or take—of the world will eventually be incorporated into a few global poles. Who knows how many, but probably no more than half a dozen or so. There are some potential benefits to multipolarity. Perhaps tianxia will break out, thus reducing the risk of conflict. A “balance of power” between global poles of states could limit aggression. But if we consider how this might be achieved and who is supposedly leading it, there is reason for concern. Assuming that the Pax Americana, Pax Europa, Pax Eurasia and Pax Sinica poles, or whatever, don’t intend to disarm, wouldn’t this logically infer a proliferation of armaments globally, including hypersonic nuclear weapons? How will these poles maintain internal security? What is to stop warfare from breaking out within each pole as disputes emerge? Will other poles have to, or choose to, intervene? Let’s be honest. The omens don’t look too encouraging. We are accelerating towards the multipolar world order due in large part to a war currently being waged by one of multipolarity’s leading proponents. Similarly, the activities of the other leading proponent—in places like Yemen, for instance—hardly inspire confidence. There is no evidence to suggest that the conduct of either Russia or China is or will be intrinsically “better” than the conduct of the leading nations of the previous “order.” By far the most concerning aspect of the multipolar world order is that fewer “poles” will empower global governance. The consistent trajectory, throughout history, toward the centralisation of power hasn’t just happened by accident. The strategy of diminishing the clique of people who exercise control over the global population is a purposeful one. Were it not, it wouldn’t have been engineered in the first place. The goal of these technocrats is to possess unopposed power. We know what they desire to do with that power should they ever achieve it: enhanced biosecurity population control population surveillance digital IDs social credit systems AI automated censorship Universal Basic Income control of the food supply, of water, of energy, of housing, of education ultimately, the total control and enslavement of humanity through Central Bank Digital Currency, or some variation of it. The nation-states advocating the new multipolar world order don’t reject these control mechanisms. On the contrary, they are leading in of their development. The multipolar system is one giant leap toward global technocratic tyranny, a system they fully endorse. In Part 1, we noted that US geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski had identified Eurasia—”extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok”—as the setting for what he called “the game.” He observed: America must absolutely take over Ukraine, because Ukraine is the pivot of Russian power in Europe. Once Ukraine is separated from Russia, Russia will no longer be a threat. US-led Western powers, having orchestrated the 2014 Euromaidan Coup and having failed to seize control through the Ukrainian ballot box, have since then demonstrated their intent to incorporate Ukraine into the West’s strategic orbit by any means. Conflict of some sort became inevitable from that point onwards. The next eight years saw an escalating proxy conflict unfold, with virtually no serious attempts to stop it, which has led to this entirely predictable Ukraine War. The people of Ukraine and the people in the new Russian republics and oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson are viewed as expendable pawns. The conflict is all too real for them, as they fight and die and long to live in peace without the perpetual threat of violence. Yet neither the “great powers” nor their puppet leaders care about the lives of the people beyond their strategic value. The war in Ukraine is a deadly tactical ploy. The point is to fight it out, down to the last Ukrainian, if necessary, in order to facilitate the transition to the multipolar world order, thus enabling the abhorrent Great Reset and finally delivering full-blown global governance. The vulnerable ones who will freeze to death in Europe this winter—and they could number in the thousands—are mere collateral damage in “the game.” Yet war needn’t get in the way of business as usual: Russia continues to supply gas to Europe, if in greatly reduced quantities and at elevated prices, through Ukrainian pipelines. The mainstream media and much of the alternative media, in both the West and the East, market the Ukraine war as a battle for “freedom,” “sovereignty” or some such drivel. As the death toll mounts among those forced to fight for their existence, we in the wider international community, taking one side or the other, fall for the same old monstrous lies. We plant our little flags, online and off, and argue about our respective delusions, imagining that we are participating in the war, in our own small way. We act like jeering football crowds who cheer on our side to win. Globalist think tanks have long considered war a strategic catalyst for change, a point we should have learned from Norman Dodd’s investigation and report for the Reece Committee on Foundations in 1954. We are being hopelessly naive if we imagine the war in Ukraine couldn’t possibly lead to a horrific global conflict. We have no reason to “trust” the lunatics whom we allow to remain in charge. Equally, we should recognise that we are being manipulated by tactics designed to produce fear. Nuclear brinkmanship should always be seen in its fear-inducing context. The oligarchs of the world are united as they seek to establish a regionalized, multipolar system of global governance that will rule the nation-states we live in. Our political leaders, wherever they exert their claimed authority, are wholly complicit with the oligarchs’ agenda. They are selling us all out as they vie for a better seat at the table while breaking our backs in their obsequious desire to polish it. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/25/2022 - 23:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 26th, 2022

The US never banned asbestos. These workers are paying the price.

As other countries outlawed asbestos, workers in a New York plant were "swimming" in it. Now, in a fight against the chemical industry, the United States may finally ban the potent carcinogen. But help may come too late. A Hornblower Niagara Cruises catamaran sails back to its Canadian dock as passengers in blue ponchos line up at the American dock in Niagara Falls, New York, to board the Maid of the Mist, on May 15, 2014.Carolyn Thompson/AP At OxyChem's now-closed plant in Niagara Falls, New York, former workers told ProPublica that asbestos dust hung in the air and rolled across the floor in clumps, like tumbleweeds. Inhaled asbestos fibers can get trapped deep in the lungs. This can lead to inflammation and scarring and can result in chronic coughing, chest pain and a lung disease called asbestosis. The Environmental Protection Agency tried to ban asbestos in the 1980s. But the US crumpled in the face of pressure from OxyChem and its peers in the chlorine industry.   Now, in a fight against the chemical industry, the US may finally ban the potent carcinogen. But help may come too late. Co-published with NPR NewsProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.Henry Saenz remembers when he first learned what even the tiniest bit of asbestos could do to his body. He was working at a chemical plant where employees used the mineral to make chlorine, and his coworkers warned him about what could happen each time he took a breath: Tiny fibers, invisible to the eye, could enter his nose and mouth and settle into his lungs, his abdomen, the lining of his heart. They could linger there for decades. Then, one day, he might develop asbestosis, a chronic disease that makes the lungs harden, or mesothelioma, a vicious cancer that ends the lives of most who have it within a few years.By then, in the early 1990s, the dangers of asbestos were already irrefutable. The United States had prohibited its use in pipe insulation and branded it so risky that remediators had to wear hazmat suits to remove it. But unlike dozens of other countries that banned the potent carcinogen outright, the United States never did. To this day, the U.S. allows hundreds of tons of asbestos to flow in each year from Brazil, primarily for the benefit of two major chemical companies, OxyChem and Olin Corp. The companies say asbestos is integral to chlorine production at several aging plants and have made a compelling argument to keep it legal: Unlike in the horrific tales of the past, their current protocols for handling asbestos are so stringent that workers face little threat of exposure.But at OxyChem's plant in Niagara Falls, New York, where Saenz worked for nearly three decades, the reality was far different, more than a dozen former workers told ProPublica. There, they said, asbestos dust hung in the air, collected on the beams and light fixtures and built up until it was inches thick. Workers tramped in and out of it all day, often without protective suits or masks, and carried it around on their coveralls and boots. They implored the plant's managers to address the conditions, they said, but the dangers remained until the plant closed in late 2021 for unrelated reasons.It was hard for Saenz to reconcile the science that he understood — and that he believed OxyChem and government leaders understood — with what he saw at the plant every day. He did his best not to inhale the asbestos, but after a short time, he came to believe there was no way the killer substance was not already inside him, waiting, perhaps 30 or 40 or even 50 years, to strike.Now, too late for Saenz, the Environmental Protection Agency appears poised to finally outlaw asbestos in a test case with huge implications. If the agency fails to ban a substance so widely established as harmful, scientists and public health experts argue, it would raise serious doubts about the EPA's ability to protect the public from any toxic chemicals.To fight the proposed ban, the chemical companies have returned to a well-worn strategy and marshaled political heavyweights, including the attorneys general of 12 Republican-led states who say it would place a "heavy and unreasonable burden" on industry.Lost in the battle is the story of what happened in the decades during which the U.S. failed to act. It's not just a tale of workers in hardscrabble company towns who were sacrificed to the bottom line of industry, but one of federal agencies cowed again and again by the well-financed lawyers and lobbyists of the companies they are supposed to oversee.It's the quintessential story of American chemical regulation.The headquarters of Occidental Petroleum, which owns OxyChem, in Los Angeles, California, on January 29, 2010.Reed Saxon/APFor decades, the EPA and Congress accepted the chlorine companies' argument that asbestos workers were safe enough, and regulators left the carcinogen on the list of dangerous chemicals that other countries ban but the U.S. still allows. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration even let OxyChem and Olin into a special program that limited the frequency of inspections at many of their plants. Along the way, the two companies proved that they didn't need asbestos to make chlorine: They built some modern facilities elsewhere that didn't use it. But they balked at the cost of upgrading the older facilities where it was still in use — even as they earned billions of dollars from chemical sales and raked in record profits this year.OxyChem, owned by one of the country's largest energy companies, Occidental Petroleum, declined requests for an interview. After ProPublica sent a summary of its reporting, company officials said the accounts from the Niagara Falls plant were "inaccurate" but declined to say what specifically was incorrect. In a statement, the company said it complies with federal regulations on asbestos and that workers who handle it are "trained, work in restricted areas of our plant, protected by personal protective equipment and are offered annual medical examinations." The company also said it authorizes employees to stop work if they feel unsafe. "The health and safety of every plant worker and the people in our surrounding communities is our top priority," the company said.Olin did not respond to calls and emails sent over the course of a month.It has been easy to minimize the toll asbestos takes on workers. Workers' compensation cases are often confidential, and employees may fear speaking out and jeopardizing their livelihood. ProPublica reporters, however, found a unique opportunity to explore what it was really like to work at an asbestos-reliant plant after America's longest-standing facility, the one run by OxyChem in Niagara Falls, shuttered last November. With their jobs no longer on the line, Saenz and 17 other former workers, some with institutional knowledge dating back to the 1960s and others with memories less than a year old, said they felt free to talk. They agreed to hours of interviews and dug through their homes for documentation to reconstruct their work lives in the decades they spent at the plant.What they recounted — ever-present asbestos dust with scant protection — stunned six experts in industrial hygiene and occupational health who were consulted by ProPublica."Totally unacceptable," said Rachael Jones, professor and chair of the Environmental Health Sciences Department at the University of California, Los Angeles."Fraught with danger," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a public health physician trained in occupational medicine and epidemiology who leads Boston College's program for Global Public Health and the Common Good."It sounds like something that maybe would happen in the 1940s or the 1950s," said Celeste Monforton, a lecturer in public health at Texas State University who studies occupational health and safety practices."It's just so counter to everything that they put in the record about using [asbestos] safely," Monforton said.For more than a century, OxyChem's plant on the Niagara River, just 3 miles upstream from the world-renowned falls, was a small city unto itself. It buzzed with workers day and night, and, in its heyday, had its own cafeteria, credit union and health clinic. A job there carried a certain cachet. Workers could make six figures, even without college degrees. But the plant had a dark legacy. Its previous owner, Hooker Chemical, had buried toxic waste in an unfinished aqueduct called Love Canal, then turned the property over to the city for development in the 1950s. After contaminated groundwater sickened the people who lived there, it became known as one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.A fence and a sign cordon off a contaminated toxic waste dump site in the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York, on August 2, 1978. The crisis led to federal Superfund legislation to clean up the nation's abandoned waste sites.APUnlike many of the other workers who grew up in the shadow of the plant, following their fathers and uncles into jobs there, Saenz was originally from Northern California. But he fell in love with a woman from Niagara Falls and moved there to start a family with her, working at a hotel, delivering flowers and tending bar — anything to put food on the table, he said — before deciding OxyChem was the job he wanted to stay in.He was hired in 1989 and soon after got a crash course in chemistry. A jolt of electricity, he learned, could turn a tank of salt water into three substances: chlorine, caustic soda and hydrogen. The chlorine could be sold for disinfecting water, the caustic soda for making paper, soap and aspirin. There was, however, a real danger: If the chemicals mixed, the tank could turn into a bomb. So each tank had a thick, metal screen inside to keep the chemicals apart.The screen was coated with a layer of impenetrable asbestos. OxyChem used chrysotile, or white asbestos, the most common type. It showed up on trains in oversized bags that looked like pillows stuffed with down feathers. At OxyChem, there were about 200 tanks, called cells, each the size of a dining room table and containing a metal screen. When a screen needed to be recoated, a special team of workers removed it and brought it to the cavernous cell-maintenance building. There, they blasted it with a high-pressure water cannon until the old asbestos fell off. Then, they dipped the clean screen into a wet mixture containing new asbestos and cooked it in an oven until the asbestos hardened. They worked on one or two screens each day.The asbestos job was one of the most hazardous at the plant, requiring special training. But it also provided a rare benefit. Unlike most positions, which forced workers to take afternoon and midnight shifts, the asbestos job was days only. Saenz, who initially worked in a different department, waited years for an opening on the team, eager to spend more time with his growing family. After his fourth child was born, a spot opened up.The team was a small fraternity of eight or so men who ate lunch together in a special trailer. Some days, when their shift ended at 2 p.m., they would meet at JD's, a dive bar near the plant. Other days, it was the wing joint down the street or the bar in Terry Cheetham's basement. Cheetham was the big brother of the group; the guys called him Soupie. Reserved and shaggy-haired, garrulous only with a beer in hand, he'd dropped out of high school after his father's death and gone to work for OxyChem. He wanted to help his mom support their family. Soon after Saenz joined the team, Cheetham tapped him on the shoulder. "We're going for a ride after work," he said. Later, they pulled up outside the local liquor store. As the new guy, Saenz had to carry the keg.The guys raised their kids together, helped each other's families through difficult times. At the plant, they always had each other's backs. Certain hazards, like fires, were hard to miss. Others, like chlorine leaks, were more subtle. Then, there was the asbestos. As Saenz spent more time on the job, he began noticing just how much of it surrounded him.Federal workplace safety standards require keeping asbestos fibers wet to prevent them from going airborne, having workers wear protective equipment and containing the asbestos inside certain areas. OxyChem had rules in place to meet those standards. But protocols failed to match reality at the Niagara Falls plant, according to more than a dozen workers.Water-blasting the screens was like washing a car with a high-powered hose. Asbestos splattered everywhere. It wasn't a problem when the asbestos was wet. But it would dry overnight, and the next morning, it would be stuck to the ceiling and the walls. Clumps would roll across the floor like tiny tumbleweeds. Floating particles would catch the light when the sun poured in. There was so much asbestos in the cell-maintenance building that it was impossible to keep it all wet, said Robert Cheff, who worked at the plant from 1981 to 2007. "We were constantly swimming in this stuff."Hand-specimen of asbestiform serpentine ore, also known as chrysotile, one of six minerals currently regulated as asbestos.asbestorama/Getty imagesWorkers wore protective gear for certain tasks, like pressure washing and screen dipping. But they went into the building to carry out other tasks without special suits or anything protecting their faces, despite company requirements. One worker said managers enforced those rules. But a dozen others interviewed by ProPublica recalled that the bosses looked the other way. Suiting up was impractical, those workers said. It took time away from the tasks that needed to get done and was uncomfortable, especially on hot days, when the temperature inside could reach 100 degrees.In the summer, the windows and doors were left open to keep the workers from overheating, allowing asbestos to escape outside. Wet asbestos splashed on their uniforms, coats, helmets and boots. One guy seemed to always have some on his mustache. It would dry and flake off their clothes wherever they went, they said. Saenz remembered walking into safety meetings in the administrative building with asbestos drying on his coveralls. The guys carried so much asbestos into the trailer where they ate lunch and took breaks that it needed to be replaced, former union leaders said.Their uniforms sat in the laundry, caked with dry asbestos. When the union raised the problem in 2010, managers responded by giving the team its own hamper with a lid to contain the asbestos, said longtime union officer Mike Spacone. Only after union leaders threatened to call federal authorities did the company give the team its own laundry facilities, Spacone said.On occasion, workers who handled asbestos would leave without showering in the plant's locker room or wear their work clothes home. "My kids played sports," recalled Dave Helbig, an employee from 1980 through 2021. "Sometimes I had to leave to get to their games."The company would have known employees were being exposed; workers with a high risk of exposure sometimes clipped a small monitor to their bodies to measure the amount of asbestos in the air around them. At least five times in 2001 and 2002, the levels around team member Patrick Nowak exceeded OSHA's exposure limit, his company records show. "I failed so many times, they quit testing me," he said. The records do not indicate if Nowak was wearing a protective mask known as a respirator, as some other employees' records do.Tony Garfalo wore a monitor seven times in 2001, and, on four occasions, the results exceeded OSHA's limit, his records show. Once, the asbestos level was more than five times the allowable limit. The records say he was wearing a half-face respirator. Garfalo said his bosses promised to address the situation, but "nothing changed."He and the others knew all too well the damage asbestos could cause. Garfalo said his father, who worked the asbestos job at the plant, developed asbestosis. Employees in other departments got sick from a type of asbestos-containing pipe covering that once insulated the plant, longtime employees said and court records show. Cheff said his uncle died from asbestosis at 59. A millwright named Teddy Skiba was diagnosed with mesothelioma and later died.In addition to those signature diseases, which are rare even among asbestos workers, the tiny strands can harm the body in other ways. They can put people at increased risk of heart disease by scarring the lungs, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood through them to pick up oxygen. Some scientific evidence suggests an association between asbestos exposure and stroke. And battling all kinds of illnesses with damaged lungs can weaken the body's ability to fight them; that damage can mean the difference between life and death.One retired member of the team, Umberto Bernardone, died from an aneurysm in 2004 at age 77. He had long had trouble breathing, said his son, Mario, who also worked at the plant. X-rays showed that asbestosis had scarred his lungs. "The asbestos was with him all the time," Mario said.Not long after, another retired team member, Salvatore "Buddy" Vilardo, died from a blood clot, his son said. He was 62.Cheetham, the group's big brother, had just retired when he fell ill in 2004. A doctor in Buffalo said it was cancer. Cheetham told his daughter Keri that he was certain the asbestos was responsible and asked her to consult a lawyer after he died. When the guys found out he was sick, they showed up at his house. They found their friend in a bed in his living room, under the care of a hospice nurse, struggling to breathe.Cheetham died five months before his 56th birthday. His autopsy surprised his family — it wasn't asbestos after all; an aggressive form of skin cancer had killed him. His former co-workers weren't told about the autopsy. For years, they believed his cancer had been brought on by asbestos exposure. The memory of Cheetham's last gasps haunted the guys like a ghost, a harbinger of what their own futures might hold.Elsewhere in the world, governments were taking action to protect their people. Saudi Arabia banned asbestos in 1998, Chile and Argentina did so in 2001, Australia in 2003. By 2005, asbestos was outlawed across the European Union. "It was a no-brainer," said Tatiana Santos, head of chemical policy at the European Environmental Bureau, a network of environmental citizens' groups.America's EPA could have banned asbestos. Congress could have banned it. But over and over, they crumpled in the face of pressure from OxyChem and its peers in the chlorine industry.The EPA tried to enact a ban in the late 1980s, but the companies got ahead of it. Records from the time show corporations testified that removing asbestos from chlorine plants would not yield significant health benefits because workers were only minimally exposed; they also argued it would require "scrapping large amounts of capital equipment" and thus would "not be economically feasible."Under federal law at the time, the EPA was obligated to regulate asbestos in the way that was "least burdensome" to industry. That forced the EPA to make a cold calculation: Banning asbestos in chlorine plants would prevent "relatively few cancer cases" but increase the companies' costs. So when the agency enacted an asbestos ban in 1989, it carved out an exemption for the mineral's use in the chlorine industry.The EPA made it clear that the companies should begin using alternatives to asbestos screens; in fact, according to company records made public through litigation and published as part of Columbia University and the City University of New York's Toxic Docs project, OxyChem had already developed screens that didn't need an asbestos coating. Still, the companies celebrated their immunity from regulation."WE HAVE A WIN," a lobbyist declared in an internal communication included in the Toxic Docs project.In the end, asbestos was never banned. The asbestos industry challenged the ban in court, and in 1991, a panel of federal judges deemed the rule too onerous and overturned it. The decision was a stinging blow to the EPA, several current and former employees told ProPublica. "I still remember the shock on the managers' faces," said Greg Schweer, an EPA veteran who ran its new-chemicals management branch before he retired in 2020. The office "was full of energized people wanting to make their mark. But things changed after that." The agency shelved efforts to regulate other dangerous substances and wouldn't attempt a similar chemical ban for 28 years.Most industries stopped using asbestos anyway, a phenomenon experts largely attribute to a wave of lawsuits from people with asbestos-related diseases. But the chlorine industry kept using its asbestos screens. It continued importing hundreds of tons of the substance every year, more than the weight of the Statue of Liberty.In 2002, Sen. Patty Murray a Democrat from Washington, tried to get a ban through Congress. She tried again in 2003 and again in 2007. That year, with Democrats in control of the Senate and House, her effort found some traction. OxyChem was keenly aware how much an asbestos ban would hurt its bottom line. Chlorine and caustic soda were the focus of its chemical operation, financial statements show, driving more than $4 billion in annual sales. Most of OxyChem's plants still used asbestos; if they had to close, production would tumble.Occidental Petroleum, OxyChem's owner, was a force on Capitol Hill, with lobbyists that spent millions influencing policy and a political action committee that pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns each election cycle. OxyChem was also a member of the American Chemistry Council, an influential trade organization that made campaign contributions of its own.The industry had an ally in then-Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana; at the time, at least a quarter of the 16 asbestos-dependent plants in the country were located in the Republican senator's home state, records show. At a hearing in June 2007, Vitter echoed the chlorine industry's standby talking point, that its manufacturing process involved "minimal to no release of asbestos and absolutely no worker exposure.""Now, if this were harming people or potentially killing people, that would be the end of the argument, we should outlaw it," he added. "But there is no known case of asbestos-related disease from the chlor-alkali industry using this technology."Then-Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat in favor of the ban, pushed back, saying the chlorine manufacturing process was "not as clean as one would think." But to build support for the bill, proponents ultimately agreed to exclude products that might contain trace levels of asbestos, such as crushed stone, as well as the asbestos used in the chlorine industry.The bill passed out of the Senate on a unanimous vote. But many of the public health advocates who championed the initial measure opposed the watered-down version, saying it had been practically gutted, and it failed to find support in the House. Vitter, who later went on to lobby for the American Chemistry Council, did not respond to requests for an interview.In the 15 years that followed, congressional attempts to ban asbestos would continue to fall short.The Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2020.Lucy Nicholson/ReutersYet another federal entity had the power to protect the OxyChem workers. There was once a time when OSHA inspectors visited the Niagara Falls plant about every year. That ended in 1996, when the plant won coveted admission into an OSHA program that exempted it from such scrutiny.The Star Program, created during the Reagan administration as part of OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs, allows plants that can prove they are model facilities to avoid random inspections. The theory behind the program is that motivating companies to adhere to best practices on their own is more effective than having underfunded government inspectors punish them.At the Niagara Falls plant, former union leaders believed the program would protect jobs and make the facility safer, they told ProPublica. They worked with management on the application — a monthslong process that entailed updating the plant's safety practices and submitting to a rigorous inspection. But what actually changed, the union leaders said, was that OSHA inspectors came far less frequently and announced their visits well in advance. When OSHA came to re-evaluate the plant, usually every three to five years, management spent months preparing, said Spacone, the union officer. "They would clean the hell out of the place. Everything would be spotless." Work in certain areas came to a halt. Plant representatives tried to limit what the evaluators saw.Even still, in 2011, evaluators found asbestos "scattered in certain areas of the floor" and covering much of the mechanical equipment, records show. "This contamination can spread easily when dry," they wrote in a report. "Appropriate clean up procedures must be instituted to prevent airborne asbestos." The evaluators did not give the plant an official citation. In the end, they applauded the plant's "commitment to safety and health" and recommended it for continued participation in the program.Three years later, evaluators identified another issue related to hygiene: Although the plant tested the air for hazards like asbestos, it wasn't using the data to spot problems. What's more, the person in charge of the program wasn't properly trained. OSHA let the plant remain in the program on the condition that it fixed the problems within a year. The plant updated its software and the department leader took a 56-hour course, records show.Apart from the re-evaluation visits, OSHA made just two other trips to the plant between 1996 and 2021, records show. Only one included a full inspection. On that visit, inspectors cited the plant for failing to protect workers from falls. The other visit did not result in any citations.With OSHA largely out of the picture, the plant's managers became more lax about safety, Spacone said. "I started thinking [that joining the Star Program] was a mistake," he said. Debbie Berkowitz, a former chief of staff and senior policy adviser at OSHA during the Obama administration, said that, in her experience, it was possible for plants to stay in the program long after their commitment to safety had lapsed. "Once they're in, they're in," she said. "In most cases, it is a total ruse."OSHA declined to make an official available for an on-the-record interview or comment on ProPublica's findings at the Niagara Falls plant. A Department of Labor spokesperson said that plants can be terminated from the program and that unions can withdraw their support.In the absence of government intervention, union leaders tried to tackle the asbestos problem themselves, four former union presidents told ProPublica. The union repeatedly asked management to expand the asbestos team and have certain people dedicated to cleaning. Plant leaders refused, they said. "It was a never-ending battle," said Vincent Ferlito, one of the former presidents. "It always came back to the same thing: money."Fed up with the mess, Garfalo grabbed a roll of red caution tape one day in 2007 and wrapped it around the asbestos-soiled building where his team worked, to the amazement of his colleagues. He barricaded each doorway, then hung as many danger signs as he could find. The protest prompted his managers to hire professionals for a one-time clean, but they also warned him to never do it again, he said.By 2011, a year after he'd retired, Garfalo couldn't ignore a lingering cough that would occasionally startle him out of sleep. His doctor couldn't tell whether his breathing difficulties were caused by asbestos or his smoking habit, but said that smokers who are exposed to the substance have an even higher risk of serious illness. Garfalo's mind traveled back to a day, a dozen years earlier, when he climbed atop the cell-maintenance building to fix a fan, only to discover that the entire roof was coated in asbestos. Train cars parked beside the building were covered, too. He thought about the homes less than a half-mile away and wondered how far the fibers had traveled.Federal Triangle buildings, including the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2022.Patrick Semansky/APIn August 2021, OxyChem announced it was closing the Niagara Falls plant, blaming "unfavorable regional market conditions" and rising rail costs in New York state. Over time, its workforce had dwindled from more than 1,300 to about 150. OxyChem's chlorine operation was now mostly in Gulf Coast states with lower taxes and less regulation.And a law that had once protected it from "burdensome" environmental rules had changed.In 2016, Congress had updated the Toxic Substances Control Act, removing the requirement that the EPA choose regulations that burdened industry as little as possible. Though the change gave the agency another chance to ban asbestos, it wasn't going to happen during the Trump administration; the former president once alleged that the movement against asbestos was "led by the mob" and had his face featured on the packaging of Russian-produced asbestos. Under the Biden administration, however, the EPA determined that all workers in asbestos-dependent chlorine plants faced an "unreasonable risk" of getting sick from it, citing a review of the companies' own exposure-monitoring data. This April, EPA Administrator Michael Regan proposed a ban for the first time in more than three decades.It could be eight months or more before the rule is finalized. Two trade associations, the American Chemistry Council and the Chlorine Institute, are imploring the EPA to reconsider. They are once again arguing that the companies use asbestos safely — and they've turned to industry-friendly scientists and consulting firms to accuse the EPA of overestimating the risk to workers.When given a summary of ProPublica's reporting on the Niagara Falls plant and asked to respond, Chlorine Institute Vice President Robyn Brooks said her organization had no knowledge of the situation and referred reporters to OxyChem. The American Chemistry Council pointed to the plant's participation in the Star program as proof of its "record of performance."The industry groups have also made the case that a ban would jeopardize the country's supply of chlorine and could even create a drinking water shortage. But the EPA and public health advocates contest those claims. They point out that only a small fraction of the chlorine produced by asbestos-dependent plants is used to clean drinking water and that OxyChem and Olin have voluntarily closed or reduced capacity at several of those plants in recent years without catastrophically disrupting the supply chain. In fact, OxyChem told investors in August that its plans to upgrade the asbestos-reliant technology at its largest chlorine facility next year would have "no impact on customers," a transcript shows. For at least eight years, the company has been slowly upgrading some plants to a newer technology that uses a polymer membrane to separate the chemicals; it built a completely asbestos-free plant in 2014.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come to the companies' defense, saying asbestos is "tightly regulated" and "used safely every day" in the chlor-alkali industry. So have 12 Republican attorneys general, including Ken Paxton of Texas and Jeff Landry of Louisiana. In a letter, they questioned whether the EPA has the authority to pursue a ban, signaling a readiness to take the agency to court like the asbestos industry did in 1989. (The Chamber and most of the attorneys general declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries from ProPublica. A spokesperson for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson called the situation at the Niagara Falls plant "very concerning" and said that it would be "completely misleading" to suggest that the letter implied approval of such circumstances.)Industry leaders are confident they will prevail. "We've been engaged in this activity for quite a while and have pushed back on it," Olin CEO Scott Sutton told shareholders on a July 29 earnings call. "I think you're not likely to see a final rule come out that is as proposed."Michal Freedhoff, the EPA's top chemical regulator, said she could not comment on what the final rule-making decision would be. But she said the agency was not backing down on the science and that ProPublica's reporting underscores the need for decisive action.Given the potential for litigation, lawmakers are renewing their effort to pass a law banning asbestos, which would be more difficult to challenge in court. "It is a brutal and painful fight," said Linda Reinstein, a leading advocate who co-founded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization after her husband, Alan, died of mesothelioma in 2006. "We're not going away."Hanging in the balance is the health of hundreds of workers at the eight remaining asbestos-dependent chlorine plants in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Kansas. ProPublica reached out to current and former employees at those facilities. At the OxyChem plant in Wichita, union president Keith Peacock said he was comfortable with the way asbestos was handled. "I don't know of anyone who sees this as a health issue," he said. "There are rules in place for it and everyone adheres to those safety guidelines." But Chris Murphy, a former union president at Olin's plant in Alabama, said the conditions there mirrored the ones described by the workers in Niagara Falls. He said he himself had seen asbestos caked on beams and cranes in recent years and been told to remove it with a putty knife. "There ain't nothing to it," he remembered his managers saying. "You'll be all right. It ain't that bad." He wasn't told to wear protective gear, he said, so he didn't.The former OxyChem workers who still live in Niagara Falls gather once a month to reminisce over Buffalo wings and beef piled high on salty kummelweck rolls. They can only wait and see if they develop symptoms as they enter the post-exposure time frame in which asbestos-related disease is commonly diagnosed.Saenz left the plant with a bad back in 2016. Now a 64-year-old grandfather of two, he's been having lung trouble and considering X-rays to see if there are signs of asbestos-related damage. "I'm wondering if I'm not headed down that road," he said.He sees the burden he now carries as a tradeoff for the lifestyle he was once afforded. "It was a great place to work. I was able to raise four children and buy a house and live the American dream." He even gave his son Henry Jr. his blessing to start a job at OxyChem in 2013, so long as he stayed far away from asbestos. Saenz now wonders how much more time he has left with his family."It's a nightmare," he said. "It's a price you pay, I guess."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 23rd, 2022

US trolls Hungary, the most pro-Russian EU state, reminding its leaders they are supposed to be allies with the West

Despite being a member of the EU and NATO, Hungary has been sympathetic to Russia throughout its invasion of Ukraine. A man passes by a poster that "We are being punished by the Brussels sanctions", in Budapest on October 18, 2022. Hungary's leaders have objected to the severity of EU measures against Russia.FERENC ISZA/AFP via Getty Images The US called out Hungary stance on the invasion of Ukraine, which has been softer than many nations. The US embassy reminded the EU and NATO member that the US and Hungary are supposed to be allies. It shared a joke quiz highlighting how so many Hungarian officials made anti-West statements. The US embassy in Hungary trolled the country over its soft response to Russia, reminding the EU and NATO member that the US and Hungary are supposed to be allies.The US Embassy in Budapest shared a video of a joke quiz on Monday that let people guess whether statements came from Russian President Vladimir Putin or from Hungarian officials.—US Embassy Budapest (@usembbudapest) October 17, 2022It wrote alongside the video: "In recent weeks, several senior Hungarian government figures and government-funded commentators have made harsh anti-Western and anti-American statements. Hungary and the United States are Allies.""As Russian aggression threatens us all, we must stand together, not move apart."The questions included one that said "The United States has attacked the European Union. Our response should be that we will put our gloves, and we go to war against America."Viewers were then asked to guess if the comment came from the editor of a media outlet that gets government funding, or Putin.The comment was made by the editor, the embassy said.Hungary has been the EU member least critical of Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.Its far-right leader Viktor Orbán, who is popular with former US President Donald Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, said he condemned Russia's invasion.But he been repeatedly criticized by Ukraine, the US, and EU for not taking actions to back it up.As EU countries repeatedly sanctioned Russia, Orbán denounced that approach.He said in September that the EU should scrap its sanctions, and earlier in the year blamed them for the EU's energy-supply crisis.Orbán has long been an ally of Putin, and he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy one of his "opponents" when he was reelected to a fourth term in April, two months after the invasion began.The embassy's quiz, which asked seven questions, was seemingly inspired by a similar questionnaire that the Hungarian government is giving to citizens, the BBC reported.The pamphlet featured loaded questions seemingly designed to demonstrate public support for Hungary's anti-EU stance, the BBC noted.One question was: "Household utility bills across Europe have risen to record levels. In response to the sanctions, Russia is threatening to cut off gas supplies. This is endangering supplies for home heating and the viability of the European economy.""Do you agree with the sanctions on natural gas supplies? Yes or No."The campaign also involved a government poster that describes EU sanctions as bombs falling on Hungary.It says "We are being punished by the Brussels sanctions," sparking criticism from the EU commission.Separately, the EU parliament voted last month to declare Hungary no longer a democracy, rebuking the country for the steady erosion of its political opposition, independent judiciary, and approach to academic freedom.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 20th, 2022