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US Urgently Mediating Between Turkey & Syrian Kurds To Prevent Ground Offensive

US Urgently Mediating Between Turkey & Syrian Kurds To Prevent Ground Offensive.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 28th, 2022

Biden Misled Public On Afghanistan; New GOP Report Finds

Biden Misled Public On Afghanistan; New GOP Report Finds Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClear Politics (emphasis ours), The frantic and deadly U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan was so disorganized that 1,450 children were evacuated without their parents, and senior leaders in Vice President Kamala Harris’ and first lady Jill Biden’s offices, as well as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked private veteran groups for assistance evacuating certain people from the country. In the waning days of the evacuation, more than 1,000 women and girls waited more than 24 hours on dozens of buses, desperately circling the Kabul airport and trying to avoid Taliban checkpoints. Many of them were told multiple times they were not allowed to enter the airport. Now, nearly a year since the Taliban took control of the country, fewer than one-third of them have managed to flee the country. These are just some of the findings in a new report by Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee one year after the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital of Kabul, almost instantly rolling back more than two decades of U.S. and NATO military support and nation-building efforts. More broadly, the report, which RealClearPolitics obtained late last week, asserts President Biden and top officials in his administration repeatedly – and perhaps intentionally – misled the American people when they said the fall of Kabul came as a surprise and there was no alternative other than depending on the Taliban for security in the Afghan capital as the U.S. military evacuated hastily.   The report asserts that the chaotic withdrawal that left more than 800 American citizens stranded in the country was completely avoidable if Biden and his national security team had listened to the warnings and advice of military leaders, U.S. diplomatic officials operating on the ground, and international allies. It adds that one of the most tragic outcomes of the evacuation – the death of 13 U.S. servicemembers and 160 Afghans in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport – could have been prevented if the administration had accepted the Taliban’s Aug. 15 offer for the U.S. to control the capital city’s security until the end of the withdrawal. Such an arrangement would have allowed American forces to extend the airport’s security perimeter, creating more space for evacuating Afghans and a far more orderly process. It also would have prevented U.S. servicemembers from being penned in amid the frantic crush of Afghans desperately trying to board U.S. military planes, leaving them vulnerable to the suicide attack, several former officials told committee Republicans, according to the report. “There were many sins if you will – there was a complete lack of and failure to plan,” Rep. Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the panel told CBS News’ Face the Nation Sunday. “There was no plan executed.” In a new memo over the weekend, the White House started defending its decision to withdraw troops, arguing that the move strengthened U.S. national security by freeing up military and intelligence agents and assets. The memo, written by National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson and first reported by Axios, is a direct response to the House Republicans’ interim report outlining their view of the administration’s withdrawal failures. It assails the House Republicans’ report as a partisan exercise “riddled with inaccurate characterizations, cherry picked information, and false claims…. It advocates for endless war and for sending more troops to Afghanistan, and it ignores the impacts of the flawed deal that former President Trump struck with the Taliban,” the memo states. Republicans are standing by their findings, arguing that a failure to plan left the State Department with only 36 consular officers at the airport trying to process hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of days. These officials were overwhelmed, McCaul said, but the lack of resources for a withdrawal of this magnitude was just one of the many mistakes involved in failing to plan for Kabul’s fall despite multiple warnings. United States of America fled Afghanistan leaving behind innocent Afghans. These shocking visuals from Kabul today describe the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Betrayal. Escape. Lack of empathy. No clarity. Failure. Chaos. pic.twitter.com/UCDMC7CffT — Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) August 16, 2021 Several top U.S. military leaders for months had warned the president that the Afghan government would likely collapse if the U.S. left fewer than 2,500 troops stationed there, the report states. The report also cites “more realistic assessments on the ground,” including a July 13, 2021, embassy cable from 23 U.S. personnel assigned to the embassy in Kabul, which reportedly contained “a stark warning” about the potential collapse of the Afghan state. The cable, which the Wall Street Journal first reported a year ago, and was sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Director of Policy Planning Salman Ahmed, called on the State Department to respond more urgently to the Taliban’s offensive. Although Blinken acknowledged the existence of the cable, he has refused to share it or disclose his response to it with congressional committees, including the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The biggest mistake of all, McCaul argued, was Biden’s rejection of the Taliban’s offer for the U.S. to take control of Kabul’s security until the evacuation was over. “Think about what that would have changed,” McCaul said. “We had to rely on the Taliban to secure the perimeter of [the airport], that led to the chaos, and it also led to the suicide bomber who killed 13 servicemen and women and injured hundreds of people.” The Biden administration also rebuffed other offers that could have helped prevent the frantic crush of Afghans at the airport and preserve America’s reputation abroad, the report states. U.S. leaders ignored a proposal from Guam for the U.S. territory to serve as an interim processing center to help evacuate interpreters and other at-risk allies. It similarly declined an offer from Pakistan to have a facility there serve as a transit center for evacuees, despite other facilities in Qatar and Germany reaching capacity. The report, which will serve as a roadmap for several lines of inquiry if Republicans win back the majority in either chamber this fall, is based on open-source information, along with interviews with U.S. officials and civilians involved in evacuating U.S. citizens and Afghan allies. Several whistleblowers who requested anonymity also played a key role, along with sworn statements by U.S. military personnel who were part of the investigation into the August 26, 2021, suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. The State Department did not comply with requests for documents and transcribed interviews with 34 administration officials involved in the Afghanistan evacuation effort. The report also criticizes the full House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Democratic Rep. Greg Meeks of New York, for holding just one full committee hearing with senior Biden administration officials on the Afghanistan withdrawal even though it’s widely recognized as one of the worst U.S. foreign policy failures in decades. While the report says more State Department resources would have helped ease panic and confusion, it faults the agency for basic communication miscues that further exacerbated the chaos. By ignoring early warnings that they were not moving quickly enough to evacuate Americans and at-risk Afghans who had worked directly with the U.S. government, they left American citizens, green-card holders, and Afghan allies approved for departure stranded outside airport gates with no assistance. “Attempts by members of Congress and their staff to help their constituents or other would-be evacuees were often stymied by out-of-office replies to email requests and broken links to web pages mean to submit information,” according to the report. It also criticizes U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson for going on a two-week vacation as Afghanistan was falling apart. Wilson took his summer break immediately after accompanying then-Afghanistan President Ghani to a late June meeting with Biden who promised the Afghan envoy, “We’re going to stick with you, and we’re going to do our best to see to it that you have the tools you need.” “There were no decisions made in the embassy until [Ross] returned in mid-July. This made action impossible,” a U.S. military officer told Army investigators. “Ground could have been gained at this time if the embassy had been able to do anything.” A couple of weeks later, it was Biden and Blinken who were on vacation at Camp David and the Hamptons, respectively, when alarms began sounding at the Pentagon for the need to relocate all of U.S. embassy personnel to the Kabul airport. Before the move, the personnel were being ordered to destroy sensitive documents in response to new fears of an immediate Taliban takeover of Kabul. All these hasty actions left no time for the State Department to speed up the processing of immigration applications for the Afghan allies Biden had promised to protect. There were no plans made to evacuate tens of thousands of U.S.-trained Afghan commandoes and other elite units who possess sensitive knowledge about American military operations. Also left behind: women leaders and soldiers whom Americans had promised sanctuary, along with more than 10,000 Afghans who had been employed by Embassy Kabul since it was re-established in 2001 and thousands more who worked with U.S. Agency for International Development. Nearly one year after the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan, the Biden administration still lacks a plan to help these at-risk Afghan allies who fought and worked alongside U.S. forces, even though the administration has admitted that the Taliban and other terrorist groups have subjected these U.S. allies to killings and forced disappearances. And, despite Biden’s assurances that the U.S. had accomplished its original goal of expelling al Qaeda and other terrorist groups from the country, the report points to the recent U.S. strike against Ayman al Zawahiri, a top al Qaeda leader, who was living freely in downtown Kabul, as proof of the group’s presence in Afghanistan. “Thankfully, al Zawahiri was killed by a U.S. drone strike last month, but officials warn that al Qaeda and ISIS-K continue to grow their presence in Afghanistan,” the report states. Meanwhile, the withdrawal has wreaked havoc on the country’s economy, with some estimates that 95% of the country needs emergency assistance to avoid hunger. With the Taliban back in control, there are reports of targeted revenge killings against those who worked with the U.S. government or military. U.S.-based volunteer groups seeking to aid Afghan evacuees have reported nearly 500 reprisal attacks, including beheadings, hangings, severed limbs, lash marks, and car shootings. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported in July 2022 that these killings are often carried out “execution style – for example, when an individual is taken out of their house and shot almost immediately,” the report notes. One of the worst casualties of the U.S. withdrawal from the country is the dramatic regression of women and girls, who are now ordered to wear burqas and are prevented from attending school or universities or even from walking unaccompanied in public places. Child marriage is also reportedly on the rise with girls as young as nine years old being sold into marriage to pay off debts, or families being forced to marry off their young daughters to Taliban fighters, the report states, quoting PBS documentary filmmaker Ramita Navai’s comments earlier this month after two visits to Afghanistan. The report also cites a finding by Amnesty International that “many women protesters” in Afghanistan who demonstrated against the Taliban’s repressive policies “have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance and torture,” including Taliban-administered beatings and electric shocks with tasers. Although Blinken acknowledged reprisal attacks and killings earlier this year, the report points out that the secretary played down the Taliban leadership’s responsibility for the deaths. “We are of course seeing retribution, attacks by Taliban against those who are part of the former government,” he told a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on April 28. “These seem to be, for the most part, not centrally directed, that is they – they tend to be happening at a local level, but they're happening.” Many of these allies are still sheltering in safe houses, afraid that the Taliban informants will expose their previous work with the U.S. government or NATO allies. Each passing week, they have fewer resources to purchase basic items such as food, fuel, and shelter. With the State Department unable to aid these people, the task of clothing, feeding, and sheltering tens of thousands of Afghans has fallen to outside veteran or humanitarian groups or sympathetic individuals. With almost no support from the U.S. government, some of the personnel running these groups, many of them comprising military veterans, have drained their personal retirement accounts, quit jobs, and suspended their small businesses in order to raise the funds to operate these networks of safe houses. “But these funds are not limitless, and the resource strains incurred have endangered the continued existence of these safe houses which many Afghans and Americans rely on for their very survival,” the report concludes. Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics' White House/national political correspondent. Tyler Durden Sat, 08/20/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 21st, 2022

The Bizarre, Unanimous Dem Support For The $40b War Package To Raytheon And CIA: "For Ukraine"

The Bizarre, Unanimous Dem Support For The $40b War Package To Raytheon And CIA: "For Ukraine" Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com, After Joe Biden announced his extraordinary request for $33 billion more for the war in Ukraine — on top of the $14 billion the U.S. has already spent just ten weeks into this war — congressional leaders of both parties immediately decided the amount was insufficient. They arbitrarily increased the amount by $7 billion to a total of $40 billion, then fast-tracked the bill for immediate approval. As we reported on Tuesday night, the House overwhelmingly voted to approve the bill by a vote of 388-57. All fifty-seven NO votes came from Republican House members. Except for two missing members, all House Democrats — every last one, including all six members of the revolutionary, subversive Squad — voted for this gigantic war package, one of the largest the U.S. has spent at once in decades. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks to a group of supporters during a rally at the U.S. Capitol on August 03, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) While a small portion of these funds will go to humanitarian aid for Ukraine, the vast majority will go into the coffers of weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the usual suspects. Some of it will go to the CIA for unspecified reasons. The extreme speed with which this was all approved means there is little to no oversight over how the funds will be spent, who will profit and how much, and what the effects will be for Ukraine and the world. To put this $54 billion amount in perspective, it is (a) larger than the average annual amount that the U.S. spent on its own war in Afghanistan ($46 billion), (b) close to the overall amount Russia spends on its entire military for the year ($69 billion), (c) close to 7% of the overall U.S. military budget, by far the largest in the world ($778 billion), and (d) certain to be far, far higher — easily into the hundreds of billions of dollars and likely the trillion dollar level — given that U.S. officials insist that this war will last not months but years, and that it will stand with Ukraine until the bitter end. Voice of America, Apr. 6, 2022 What made this Democratic Party unanimity so bizarre, even surreal, is that many of these House Democrats who voted YES have spent years vehemently denouncing exactly these types of war expenditures. Some of them — very recently — even expressed specific opposition to pouring large amounts of U.S. money and weaponry into Ukraine on the grounds that doing so would be unprecedentedly dangerous, and that Americans are suffering far too severely at home to justify such massive amounts to weapons manufacturers and intelligence agencies. Here, for instance, is the shocking-in-hindsight warning of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on March 8 — just two months before she voted YES on this $40 billion weapons package: Just as stridently, her progressive House Democratic colleague, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), appeared on Democracy Now on February 8 to discuss the imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, and he explicitly and repeatedly demanded that no lethal arms be sent by the U.S. into Ukraine. Indeed, Khanna, while repeatedly denouncing Putin's aggression, heaped praise on former President Obama for long resisting bipartisan demands to send lethal arms to Ukraine — based on Obama's oft-stated belief that Ukraine is and always will be a vital interest to Russia, but will never be to the U.S. — and argued that such a move would be dangerously escalatory: I certainly join [House progressives] in the concerns of having increased aid, lethal aid, into that area. That will only inflame the situation. I also join them in the concern that we need restraint, that the last thing the American people want is an escalation which could lead us to some long war in Ukraine with Russia, that that’s a very dangerous situation, and no one in this country — or, very few people in this country would want that. There’s a reason President Obama didn’t send lethal aid into Ukraine and had a greater restraint in his approach. So, I do think we should do everything possible not to escalate the situation, while having the moral clarity that Putin is in the wrong in this case…. The arguments Khanna was endorsing from House progressive leaders came in the form of a January 26 press release from co-caucus-leaders Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). The progressive duo argued: “There is no military solution out of this crisis — diplomacy needs to be the focus.” Then they added this: “We have significant concerns that new troop deployments, sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions, and a flood of hundreds of millions of dollars in lethal weapons will only raise tensions and increase the chance of miscalculation. Russia’s strategy is to inflame tensions; the United States and NATO must not play into this strategy.” Just over three months later, both Lee and Jayapal voted not for a "flood of hundreds of millions of dollars in lethal weapons,” but to flood Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars in lethal weapons. One would think that when a member of Congress engages in such a remarkable and radical shift in their position, they would at least deign to provide some explanation for why they did so. In the case of the Squad and dozens of House progressives, one would be very wrong. On Friday morning, I emailed and/or texted the press representatives of the five Squad members who have said nothing about their vote (only Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), in a doozy of a statement discussed below, bothered to explain), and directly texted both Omar and Khanna. Other reporters also have requested statements. More than seventy-two hours after they cast this enormously consequential war vote, they still have refused to explain themselves or even issue a cursory statement as to why they supported this (see update below). This vote, and their silence about it, is particularly confounding — one could, without hyperbole, even say chilling — given how rapidly Democrats’ rhetoric about Ukraine is escalating. As we noted on Tuesday, many leading Democrats, such as Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), have begun speaking about this war not only as an American proxy war — which it has long been — but as “our war” that we must fight to the end in order for “victory” to be ours, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) vows that there be “no off ramps” to end the war diplomatically, since the real goal of the war is regime change in Moscow. Even worse, the eighty-two-year-old House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), now in his twentieth term in Congress, went to the House floor on Friday to twice say that "we are at war” — meaning the U.S is now at war with Russia — and that it is therefore inappropriate to heavily criticize our president: As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has spent decades pointing out, there is nothing more dangerous to humanity than a war between the two nations with the planet's largest nuclear stockpiles. One might think that those who just voted to dangerously escalate such a war would at least deign to explain themselves, especially those who have repeatedly made recent statements violently at odds with the YES vote they just cast. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has thus far said nothing about this House vote, warned in The Guardian in early February, that while Putin is immoral and tyrannical, the West bears some blame for provoking this war with reckless NATO expansion and, more importantly, warned of the grave and unpredictable dangers of having the U.S. pursue a strategy of fueling the war rather than trying to solve it diplomatically. So exceptional is this headlong rush into this war that even The New York Times — usually loyally supportive of U.S. war policies and the Democratic establishment — published a highly unusual news article about the House vote which repeatedly and harshly criticized Congress for being too frightened to ask questions or express skepticism about Biden's war policy. The NYT took the members of Congress voting YES in both parties to task for being cowed into submission, meekly falling into line. The headline of the article told the story — “House Passes $40 Billion More in Ukraine Aid, With Few Questions Asked" — as the Paper of Record all but called these YES-voting members of Congress cowards and abdicators: The escalating brutality of the war in Ukraine has dampened voices on both the right and left skeptical of the United States’ involving itself in armed conflict overseas, fueling a rush by Congress to pour huge amounts of money into a potentially lengthy and costly offensive against Russia with few questions or reservations raised….[L]awmakers in both political parties who have previously railed against skyrocketing military budgets and entanglements in intractable conflicts abroad have gone largely silent about what is fast becoming a major military effort drawing on American resources…. That total — roughly $53 billion over two months — goes beyond what President Biden requested and is poised to amount to the largest foreign aid package to move through Congress in at least two decades….But stunned by the grisly images from Ukraine and leery of turning their backs on a country whose suffering has been on vivid display for the world, many lawmakers have put aside their skepticism and quietly agreed to the sprawling tranches of aid, keeping to themselves their concerns about the war and questions about the Biden administration’s strategy for American involvement….. And as Mr. Biden’s requests to Congress for money to fund the war effort have spiraled upward, leaders in both parties have largely refrained from questioning them…..The result has been that, at least for now, Congress is quickly and nearly unanimously embracing historic tranches of foreign aid with little public debate about the Biden administration’s strategy, whether the volume of military assistance could escalate the conflict, or whether domestic priorities are being pushed aside to accommodate the huge expenditures overseas. Perhaps the most remarkable part of this surreal episode is the statement issued by Rep. Bush, ostensibly explaining and justifying her YES vote. If you are able to discern some sort of cogent explanation from this statement, it means that you have better reading skills than I. While Rep. Bush at least deserves credit for bothering to try to explain her vote — in contrast to her fellow Squad members who have thus far refused to do so — by far the clearest and most significant part of what she says are her admissions of the horrible and dangerous parts of this bill, for which she just voted YES. Behold these admissions: Additionally, at $40 billion, this is an extraordinary amount of military assistance, a large percentage of which will go directly to private defense contractors. In the last year alone, the United States will have provided Ukraine with more military aid than any country in the last two decades, and twice as much military assistance as the yearly cost of war in Afghanistan, even when American troops were on the ground. The sheer size of the package given an already inflated Pentagon budget should not go without critique.  I remain concerned about the increased risks of direct war and the potential for direct military confrontation.  Imagine saying this about a bill — recognizing how wasteful and dangerous it is — and then snapping into line behind Nancy Pelosi and voting for it anyway to ensure Democratic Party unanimity in support of this war. Credit to Rep. Bush for candor, I suppose. One person whose name has not yet appeared in this article is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). That is because we published on Wednesday a comprehensive video report on Rumble, documenting how AOC's YES vote on this war package so violently contradicts virtually everything she has ever claimed to believe about questions of war, militarism and military spending. AOC, needless to say, has not bothered to reconcile this vote with the drastically divergent body of statements she has uttered her entire adult life because her blind followers do not demand anything of her, let alone explanations for why she does what she does (which is why she knew she could, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, attend the Met Gala — the nation's most gluttonous celebration of capitalist excess and celebrity culture — and attended to indoors by a team of masked servants while she and her boyfriend remained comfortably and glamorously unmasked, and then show total contempt for her fans by hilariously spray-painting a banal, inoffensive phrase on the back of her designer gown, knowing this would make them not only accept her behavior but celebrate her heroic subversiveness). The full video about how the Squad and AOC just permanently killed whatever was left of the U.S. left-wing anti-war movement can be seen on our Rumble page, or watched on the video player below. A full transcript of that video appears below for subscribers only. Only two months ago, those who observed that this was not a war between Russia and Ukraine, but really a proxy war between Russia and the U.S./NATO, were vilified as Kremlin propagandists. Now, U.S. leaders openly boast of this fact, and go further, claiming that the U.S. is actually at war with Russia and must secure full victory. That there is not a single Democratic politician willing to object to or even question any of this speaks volumes about what that party is, as well how dangerous this war has become for Americans and the world generally. UPDATE, Mar. 14, 2022, 6:56 a.m. ET: Rep. Khanna provided the following comment in response to our question of how he can reconcile his argument in his February 8 Democracy Now interview that the U.S. should not send lethal arms to Ukraine with his vote on Monday to send lethal arms: I wanted to do everything we could to prevent conflict through diplomacy and so did not want to escalate prior to invasion. But once Putin invaded and has been barbarically destroying towns and cities, I believe it is morally justified to stand firmly with Ukraine in defense of their territory and provide them with military and economic assistance. We at the same time need to be aggressively encouraging diplomatic talks and a ceasefire and enlisting countries who can play a mediating role to help us bring this brutal war to an end. Note that the assumption of that entire was interview was that Russia would invade Ukraine. Indeed, the first question to which Rep. Khanna responded, when arguing that the U.S. should not send lethal aid to Ukraine, was this one: “And do you support the threat of devastating sanctions against Russia in the event of any kind of Russian invasion of Ukraine?” Nonetheless, in contrast to many of his House colleagues, at least he is willing to account for the vote he cast. We will add any further comments in response to our requests for comment if and when we receive them. To support the independent journalism we are doing here, please subscribe, obtain a gift subscription for others and/or share the article Tyler Durden Sat, 05/14/2022 - 11:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 14th, 2022

Nightmare Scenario: Operational Miscalculations Could Trigger Nuclear War

Nightmare Scenario: Operational Miscalculations Could Trigger Nuclear War Submitted by geopolitical and national security analyst Nauman Sadiq, Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have tried to set up phone calls with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen. Valery Gerasimov but the Russians “have so far declined to engage,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in a statement Wednesday, March 23. “A nightmare scenario would be a Russian missile or attack aircraft that destroys a U.S. command post across the Polish-Ukrainian border,” James Stavridis, a retired admiral who served as the Supreme Allied Commander at NATO from 2009 to 2013, told the Washington Post. “A local commander might respond immediately, thinking the event was a precursor to a wider attack. This could lead to rapid and irreversible escalation, to include potential use of nuclear weapons.” According to a CNN report detailing a rare face-to-face meeting between Russian and US military officials last week, the US believes that the refusal for high-level meetings is due to Kremlin worries that the encounters would show them to be vulnerable if they allowed such meetings, because it risks a tacit admission that an abnormal situation exists, according to the readout of the meeting. Though the assumption of vulnerability appears misconceived considering while the Pentagon has allegedly attempted to maintain high-level contacts with Russian counterparts, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has not attempted any conversations with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, since the start of the conflict last month. The real reason the Russian military leadership has allegedly shunned maintaining high-level contacts with the Pentagon’s top brass appears to be the duplicitous and treacherous role played by the transatlantic NATO alliance of significantly escalating the conflict by substantially increasing the NATO military footprint in Eastern Europe along Russia’s western flank, publicly providing billions of dollars’ worth lethal weapons to Ukraine’s security forces and allied neo-Nazi militias while asininely claiming to be “peacemakers” extending chivalrous courtesies to the arch-rival. Ahead of the NATO summit attended by President Biden Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced the transatlantic military alliance would double the number of battlegroups it had deployed in Eastern Europe. “The first step is the deployment of four new NATO battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, along with our existing forces in the Baltic countries and Poland,” Stoltenberg said. “This means that we will have eight multinational NATO battlegroups all along the eastern flank, from the Baltic to the Black Sea.” NATO issued a statement after Thursday's emergency summit attended by Joe Biden and European leaders: “In response to Russia’s actions, we have activated NATO’s defense plans, deployed elements of the NATO Response Force, and placed 40,000 troops on our eastern flank, along with significant air and naval assets, under direct NATO command supported by Allies’ national deployments. We are also establishing four additional multinational battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.” Last week, President Biden announced an unprecedented package of $1 billion in military assistance to Ukraine in addition to $350 million previously pledged which was disbursed within days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. The new package includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 2,000 anti-armor Javelins, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems and 100 Switchblade kamikaze drones. Besides providing abundance of anti-aircraft and anti-armor munitions to Ukraine’s largely conscript military and allied irregular militias, a senior US administration official told Reuters Washington and its allies were also working on providing anti-ship weapons to protect Ukraine's coast. Ukrainian forces claimed on Thursday to have blown up a Russian landing ship in a Russian-occupied port. Nonetheless, what must have exasperated Russia’s military leadership is a secret plan for a “peacekeeping mission” involving 10,000 NATO troops from the member states surreptitiously occupying western Ukraine and imposing a limited no-fly zone over Lviv and rest of towns which is allegedly being prepared by the Polish government. The plan is seemingly on hiatus due to a disagreement between Polish President Andrzej Duda and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the deputy prime minister of Poland and the head of Law and Justice (PiS) Party. Duda wants Washington’s approval before going ahead, whereas Kaczynski appears desperate to obtain political mileage from the Ukraine crisis. The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia traveled via train to the embattled Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and met with President Volodymyr Zelensky on March 15 in a show of support for Ukraine. De facto leader of Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, accompanied them. Speaking on the occasion, Kaczynski said: “I think that it is necessary to have a peace mission—NATO, possibly some wider international structure—but a mission that will be able to defend itself, which will operate on Ukrainian territory.” In response, Russian officials condemned Poland's proposal to send NATO “peacekeeping forces” into Ukraine as a “very reckless and extremely dangerous” idea that would risk a full-scale war between the alliance and Moscow. “This will be the direct clash between the Russian and NATO armed forces that everyone has not only tried to avoid but said should not take place in principle,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. Regarding how operational-level miscalculations could lead to all-out war between belligerents, it’s pertinent to recall that on February 7, 2018, US B-52 bombers and Apache helicopters struck a contingent of Syrian government troops and allied forces in Deir al-Zor province of eastern Syria that reportedly killed and wounded scores of Russian military contractors working for the Russian private security firm, the Wagner Group. The survivors described the bombing as an absolute massacre, and Moscow lost more Russian nationals in one day than it had lost during its entire military campaign in support of the Syrian government since September 2015. Washington’s objective in striking Russian contractors was that the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which is mainly comprised of Kurdish YPG militias – had reportedly handed over the control of some areas east of the Euphrates River to Deir al-Zor Military Council (DMC), which was the Arab-led component of SDF, and had relocated several battalions of Kurdish YPG militias to Afrin and along Syria’s northern border with Turkey in order to defend the Kurdish-held areas against the onslaught of the Turkish armed forces and allied Syrian militant proxies during Ankara’s “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwest that lasted from January to March 2018. Syrian forces with the backing of Russian contractors took advantage of the opportunity and crossed the Euphrates River to capture an oil refinery located to the east of the Euphrates River in the Kurdish-held area of Deir al-Zor. The US Air Force responded with full force, knowing well the ragtag Arab component of SDF – mainly comprised of local Arab tribesmen and mercenaries to make the Kurdish-led SDF appear more representative and inclusive in outlook – was simply not a match for the superior training and arms of the Syrian troops and Russian military contractors, consequently causing a carnage in which scores of Russian nationals lost their lives. A month after the massacre of Russian military contractors in Syria, on March 4, 2018, Sergei Skripal, a Russian double agent working for the British foreign intelligence service, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a public bench outside a shopping center in Salisbury. A few months later, in July 2018, a British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after touching the container of the nerve agent that allegedly poisoned the Skripals. In the case of the Skripals, Theresa May, then the prime minister of the United Kingdom, promptly accused Russia of attempted assassinations and the British government concluded that Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a Moscow-made, military-grade nerve agent, novichok. Sergei Skripal was recruited by the British MI6 in 1995, and before his arrest in Russia in December 2004, he was alleged to have blown the cover of scores of Russian secret agents. He was released in a spy swap deal in 2010 and was allowed to settle in Salisbury. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter have since recovered and were discharged from hospital in May 2018. In the aftermath of the Salisbury poisonings in March 2018, the US, UK and several European nations expelled scores of Russian diplomats and Washington ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. In a retaliatory move, Russia also expelled a similar number of American, British and European diplomats, and ordered the closure of American consulate in Saint Petersburg. The number of American diplomatic personnel stationed in Russia drastically dropped from 1,200 before the escalation to 120, and the relations between Moscow and Western powers reached their lowest ebb since the break-up of the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in December 1991. Notwithstanding, five years following a potentially catastrophic incident that could’ve inundated Islamic State’s former capital Raqqa and many towns downstream Euphrates River in eastern Syria and caused more deaths than the deployment of any weapon of mass destruction, the New York Times reported in January that at the height of US-led international coalition’s war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, US B-52 bombers struck Tabqa Dam with 2,000-pound bombs, including at least one bunker-busting bomb that fortunately didn’t explode. In March 2017, alternative media was abuzz with reports that the dam was about to collapse and entire civilian population downstream Euphrates River needed to be urgently evacuated to prevent the inevitable catastrophe. But Washington issued a gag order to the corporate media “not to sensationalize the issue.” The explosive report noted that the dam was contested between the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, the Syrian government and the Islamic State. A firefight broke out in which SDF incurred heavy casualties. It was then that a top secret US special operations unit Task Force 9 called for airstrikes on the dam after repeated requests from the Kurdish leadership of the SDF. “The explosions on March 26, 2017, knocked dam workers to the ground. A fire spread and crucial equipment failed. The flow of the Euphrates River suddenly had no way through, the reservoir began to rise and authorities used loudspeakers to warn people downstream to flee. “The Islamic State group, the Syrian government and Russia blamed the United States, but the dam was on the US military’s ‘no-strike list’ of protected civilian sites, and the commander of the US offensive at the time, then-Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, said allegations of US involvement were based on ‘crazy reporting.’” It’s worth noting that it was the same rogue Pentagon General Stephen J. Townsend, currently the commander of US AFRICOM and then the commander of Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) – Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) responsible for leading the war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, whose “operational miscalculation” was responsible for the reckless confrontation a year later in February 2018 when US B-52 bombers struck Russian military contractors, killing and wounding scores, a tragic incident that brought two nuclear powers engaged in the Syrian conflict almost to the brink of a full-scale war. *  *  * Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based geopolitical and national security analyst focused on geo-strategic affairs and hybrid warfare in the Af-Pak and Middle East regions. His domains of expertise include neocolonialism, military-industrial complex and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor of diligently researched investigative reports to alternative news media. Tyler Durden Sat, 03/26/2022 - 23:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 27th, 2022

"Now It"s Time For Central Banks To Make The Rich Richer And The Poor Poorer Again, As Before"

"Now It's Time For Central Banks To Make The Rich Richer And The Poor Poorer Again, As Before" By Michael Every of Rabobank An awful lot happened yesterday, if you join the headlines, the dots, and the plot; yet not a lot of it played out the way the largest headlines and the most important dot plot would have it. In the US, the Empire PMI collapsed to -32.9, showing further signs of real pain in the real US economy. By contrast, in Europe the German ZEW survey of investors expectations surprised to the upside at 16.9, as German Chancellor Scholz said there would be no recession this year. Adding more good cheer, the IMF is revising its latest call that one third of the world is heading for recession: another sterling projection from the Fund. China’s Liu He then thrilled Davos by saying China will hit 6% GDP growth in 2023 -- after the hilarious data yesterday, pencil it in now -- and loves private business, foreign investors, markets, its property market, opening up, free trade, imports, and globalisation. Suddenly ‘common prosperity’ and national security are gone, even as Bloomberg separately reports the PLA is rebuffing all US efforts to re-establish military-to-military lines of communication. This was a 2017 redux moment, when global capital last rose as one to applaud a Chinese speech extolling exactly it, just before the opposite transpired. Not much mention was made of the epochal first fall in China’s population since 1961, years ahead of official expectations. ‘A Midwife Crisis’ already flagged it in 2021, quoting a PBOC working paper that stressed the need to reverse the demographic trend, advocating controlling housing prices to do so, and arguing China should “be highly vigilant and prevent the savings rate from falling too quickly…if there is no accumulation there will be no growth…. [Developed economies are] not a model to learn from.” In short, China should consume less, automate more, and always run trade surpluses: just don’t tell Davos. ‘A Midwifer Crisis’ later in 2021 put the shift in China’s population into a global context: it’s staggering. Eclipsing this long-term trend was the short-term rumor the ECB will shift from 50bp hikes to 25bp. We also got positioning for a BOJ meeting today where we might (or might not) see a further retreat from Yield Curve Control, something the FX market is already heftily pricing in, and which is negative for the US dollar. (The rights and wrongs of that are another matter.) All in all, the market hummed at the ideas that the Fed was close to a rates peak; so was everyone else; that there wouldn’t be a recession; that the dollar is weakening; that rates would go down; and so assets would go up. The latter is of course all that really matters. Are the assembled billionaires in Davos really worried about what was already projected as a mild recession that would reverse very low unemployment rates and very high (nominal) wage growth? No! What worries them are tight labor markets and nominal wage growth: that, and the asset-price recession in 2022 as interest rates rose in response. With higher rates, the rich have already been in recession, and they didn’t like it. One year was quite enough, thank you very much, and now it’s time for central banks to make the rich richer and the poor poorer again, as before. Thus all the right headlines, speeches, data, and rumors are being mobilized in support of ‘Just not 2022!’ trades in 2023 – and working so far. However, as mentioned, not all the headlines line up correctly for that happy, illogical narrative of no recession, no inflation, lower rates, and higher asset prices. There were one or two loud voices at Davos flagging risks of the Fed having to go to 6% if the labour market won’t weaken. And so far, it isn’t weakening except in tech. On which note, Twitter is still working fine after shedding a swathe of its staff, whereas in the real economy things couldn’t get any leaner without economic bulimia. What if there is an ongoing shift from high-paid, irrelevant jobs of the kind Davos sees, because their kids work there, to less well-paid jobs, with rising wages from a low base, in places the Davos set never set foot? More importantly, Russia just announced: 1) it will declare all treaties signed with the Council of Europe terminated; 2) it must maintain its food reserves, and not export everything – which sounds like weaponizing commodities again; and 3) it will expand its army to 1.5 million men, confirming reports another 500,000 are going to be mobilized shortly – such escalatory tactics won Russia many previous wars after badly-bodged beginnings. Russia is going all in on war, ahead of a likely spring offensive, while markets are pricing for ‘war is over’ due to a European winter as warm as a summer. That doesn’t mean we will get the same scale of shock as in 2022 again, but one will likely come. It also underlines that the West is going to have to escalate its economic and military response in kind – or lose the war. Finland has already stated it is in this for the long term, be it 5, 10, or 15 years: who is next? But a long war is going to remain inflationary in 2023, and more so if we see more deliberate supply-destruction. Does mobilising illogical narratives really work against mobilising men? Meanwhile, the US said that it so only going to rebuild its Strategic Petroleum Reserve slowly. Very, very slowly, one would presume. Or, to put it another way, unless energy prices crash --which would take a higher dollar via higher Fed Funds-- the SPR is largely spent as geopolitical ammunition: add it to the list of key US inventory stockpiles that have been depleted in 2022, and which it will need years, much money, and disrupted supply chains to rebuild. Saudi Arabia said that it is open to trading oil in other currencies than the US dollar; and Ghana, with lots of gold in the ground, is floating gold-for-oil swaps because it has few dollars. Having twice delved into ‘Why Bretton Woods 3 Won’t Work’, including recently, I am not going to repeat the exercise. Suffice to say that whatever currency the Saudis trade in, they will price in dollars, and sell the other FX they garner for dollars because they are pegged to it themselves. However, these kind of actions are aimed at chipping away at the walls of the ‘global dollar’ fortress, as are Russia’s; and we are seeing ongoing global efforts to shift towards barter trade to try to avoid the dollar, even if dollar pricing remains ubiquitous for now. Most fortress owners don’t tend to relax when someone is messing with their foundations, even ineffectually. At least not successful fortress owners. That is another argument mobilising against the happy, illogical narrative of no recession, no inflation, lower rates, and higher asset prices. Meanwhile, if the fortress were to crumble due to a Death Star-style weakness, it would topple onto everyone’s heads, including those doing the chipping away at it. Again, that backs recession, inflation, higher rates, and lower asset prices. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/18/2023 - 10:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 18th, 2023

Russia"s forces in Ukraine will be "burned through and exhausted" by the end of winter, ex-NATO commander predicts

Russia's forces are battling to prevent further Ukrainian advances along a broad front, but have an air advantage. This photograph taken on September 11, 2022, shows a Ukrainian soldier standing atop an abandoned Russian tank near a village on the outskirts of Izyum, Kharkiv Region, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images Russia's forces in Ukraine will be "exhausted" soon, said a former senior NATO leader.  James Stavridis said a tough winter would create a window for meaningful negotiations.  Ukraine is seeking to push back Russian forces along a broad front in east Ukraine.  Former NATO official James Stavridis said that Russia's forces in Ukraine will be "burned through and exhausted" by the end of winter, creating an opportunity for peace negotiations. In an interview with New York radio station WABC 770, Stavridis said that while Ukraine was winning on the ground, Russia had an advantage in the air.Stavridis is a retired US Navy admiral who from 2009 to 2013 served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, one of the most powerful roles after the secretary general."I don't see either side having a breakthrough moment — at least this winter," Stavridis told WABC host John Catsimatidis."Unfortunately, the first chance we can get to a negotiation is going to be after the winter. The Russians will be burned through and exhausted, losing so many men, so much equipment."Stavridis also said that there will be pressure on both sides in 2023 to enter into negotiations to end the conflict. "On the Ukrainian side, the pressures from the West, in order to avoid further costs, is going to become significant," Stavridis predicted."When I put it all together, more war to go. Ukrainians win it on the ground. Russians winning in the skies.""Let's all push for a negotiation sometime mid-2023," he said.Ukrainian and Russian forces are fighting along an approximately 600 mile front, with Ukraine forcing Russia into defensive positions in the south and northeast, while Russian forces are seeking to advance around the eastern city of Bakhmut. Ukraine had forced Russia to give up large swaths of territory late in 2022, but as winter set in gains for either side have been piecemeal.Russian forces have suffered steep casualties in the war so far, and the Kremlin has mobilized around 300,000 people meant to give Russia an advantage in the months to come.Some, seemingly including Stavridis, do not think the mobilized troops will be a large help. They cited the high casualty rates among trained officers and poor training and equipment as reasons that an influx of unskilled fighters may not be much use.In a recent missile strike, Ukraine killed hundreds of Russian recruits in the Donetsk region in a strike blamed on a basic error: raw soldiers giving their locations away by using their phones.Ukrainian intelligence has claimed that Russia is preparing to draft 500,000 more civilians for a potential spring offensive, a claim denied by the Kremlin. Stavridis told WABC that he believes Ukraine is winning the "ground war" because it is more motivated and has been given cutting-edge equipment by Western nations, like the HIMARS artillery used to blow up the soldiers in Donetsk.Russia retains an advantage in the air, Stavridis said, pointing to its use of drones to target infrastructure. Though both the Kremlin and Ukraine's government have in recent weeks signaled a willingness to negotiate, UN Secretary General António Guterres said in December he does not believe there will be "serious" peace talks in the immediate future. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 9th, 2023

Ukrainian Narrative Continues To Morph Ugly

Ukrainian Narrative Continues To Morph Ugly Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog, If the "Ukrainian narrative" was not ugly enough, it continues to work its way farther to the dark-side. It is debatable how long the American people will buy the line that funding the war in Ukraine will result in a good outcome. Someday, what is happening in Ukraine may be looked back upon as a horrible blunder, lie, and misstep largely orchestrated by America and the "Obama/Biden political machine." Sadly, US senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday agreed, due to fairly intense pressure from the White House, to withdraw the so-called ‘Yemen War Powers’ resolution from a vote in the Senate. The crucial bill would have restricted US military involvement in war-torn Yemen and reasserted Congress’ war-making authority. As a footnote, the word was put out that President Joe Biden would most likely veto the bill passed if it passed. White House officials said the bill “could complicate the effort to back Ukraine in its war against Russia.”  Recently, in a phone call, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "thanked" President Joe Biden for the "unprecedented defense and financial assistance that the U.S. provides to Ukraine." that of course did not stop him from asking for billions more. So far the total that has been either proposed, pledged, or enacted exceeds a mind-boggling $100 billion. With every billion dollars representing roughly three dollars for every man woman and child in America, this means it has already cost each of us around 300 dollars. When you consider how many people, such as children and those barely getting by don't share in this burden, the amount placed upon each taxpayer soars. Much of this money has been doled out with little oversight. It is important to remember that under Biden's tutelage this "conflict" has become not so much about defending Ukraine but ending Putin and Russia. It is not about the people of Ukraine but much more. The Ukrainian people and much of Europe have become mere pawns in a game. Unfortunately for the Biden camp, for all the money being poured into this "theater" it would be naive to think Putin will not achieve his goals or come out of this conflict the victor.  Even as this is being written, Ukraine is bracing for yet more Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure. Ukraine has accused Moscow of intentionally unleashing additional suffering on the population headed into Christmas. Its Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said, "Russian terrorists will do everything to leave Ukrainians without electricity for the New Year." Currently, around 80% of the Kiev area appears to be without electricity for the second day in a row. The only thing growing as fast as the cost of Biden's proxy war is the ego of Ukraine's President Zelensky. This has become more apparent by the day as the attention-seeking comedian media star turned politician pushes his way onto the center of the world stage. Zelensky is constantly appearing at major public events to make appeals for aid. These include the Grammys and Cannes Film Festival. This is when he's not busy addressing the G7, the European Parliament, or an UN-sponsored event.   Pro-war advocates even arranged for Zelensky to give a 30-minute long speech before Congress, foreign leaders seldom get this opportunity. During the speech, he was frequently interrupted by spontaneous standing rounds of applause from US lawmakers as he vowed: "absolute victory" over Russia. With events like this taking place, it is little wonder Time magazine recently named Zelensky and The Spirit Of Ukraine as person of the year. There are, however, signs global audiences are tired of hearing Ukraine's President Zelensky ask for more money. His message is steeped in propaganda. This could be the chief reason the formal request for Zelensky to talk about "world peace" before the kickoff to the World Cup final, was recently denied.  The Biden administration along with Ukrainian officials have been shocking the world with claims of how well things are going on the battlefield." This has gone to the point where NBC News reports that the White House now calculates that the Ukrainian armed forces are capable of retaking the Crimean Peninsula. Administration officials are using this as a reason Congress still needs to fund Ukraine. Those promoting and encouraging such an offensive move ignore the danger it may cross Moscow’s "red lines" and increase the possibility of nuclear weapons being used. Chart Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies Still, with many Americans distracted by the holidays, few are paying attention to just how much money we are spending supporting Ukraine. The visual aid above helps clarify the distinction between what has been proposed and enacted. The additional "proposed" billions that are shown in the above chart have at this point been approved with the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. Approving the current request would bring the total amount approved to $104 billion in less than a year.  To the chagrin of many Americans, the war in Ukraine continues to grind on. The ramifications of the Biden proxy war extend far past spending. It includes using presidential draw-down authority to pull hundreds of millions in weapons and anti-air missile systems from American stockpiles. Biden's newly announced pledge to send Patriot missiles to Ukraine means we may be short weapons if a problem comes up somewhere else. This is why NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg commenting on the state of Russia-West relations said "Even if the fighting ends, we will not return to some kind of normal, friendly, relationship with Russia. Trust has been destroyed." He claimed that NATO sought to build positive relations with Russia immediately after the Cold War - despite the fact it expanded to Russia's doorstep soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union. For now, the idea this conflict will rapidly end has been placed on the back burner. This could be because many people are benefiting from the spending. To the warmongers, this is because we have not done enough. Those of us advocating the antiwar position view this as an unnecessary proxy war and that we have no business there. This extends to the position we should do everything we can to bring hostilities to an end. Some of us take the position that this was all set in motion by the U.S. choreographed coup in Kiev eight years ago under the Obama Administration. It would be hard to overstate the significance those events played in creating the situation currently before us. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is one of those calling for urgently finding a path of negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine. He warns the entire world is in danger as nuclear-armed superpowers inch closer to a disastrous confrontation. A huge factor in keeping truthful information about what is happening is held hostage by propaganda. The situation on the ground in Ukraine may be far different than we in America are being led to believe. Recently the Russians have altered their strategy in reaction to reality but not because they are in dire straits. An argument can be made that Russia's pullback from some Ukrainian territory was strategic and that by pulling back they have sucked the Ukrainian troops into a meat grinder where they have suffered massive casualties. Michael Vlahos and Douglas Magcregor got together recently in the library of the Army-Navy Club, Washington, D.C., to reflect on the war in Ukraine;  It appears Putin has been to the front to confirm that Russian troops are prepared for a winter offensive. This is the type of warfare in which Russia excels. When it comes to fighting on the ground in cold weather, it has been said that Russia invented winter. It certainly does not look like a pleasant winter for the people of Ukraine, and for that, they can thank Biden. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/24/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 24th, 2022

Elon Musk blocks Ukraine from using Starlink in Crimea over concern that Putin could use nuclear weapons: report

Musk told political analyst Ian Bremmer that he denied Ukraine's request to extend the range of Starlink, fearing the potential for escalation. Elon Musk's (pictured right) SpaceX is increasing Starlink internet prices for all customers.Getty Images Elon Musk denied a Ukrainian request to enable the use of Starlink in Russian-occupied Crimea. Musk told political analyst Ian Bremmer he fears a Ukrainian offensive could start a nuclear war. The SpaceX CEO denied that he recently spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Bremmer claims. Elon Musk personally rejected a Ukrainian request to extend his satellite internet service to Crimea, the SpaceX CEO fearing that an effort to retake the peninsula from Russian forces could lead to a nuclear war, according to a report published Tuesday.Following Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, Musk — and the US government — provided Kyiv with thousands of Starlink systems, enabling Ukrainian forces to communicate in what were previously dead zones. The low energy requirements of the service's satellite receivers have enabled it to be connected to reconnaissance drones, Yahoo News reported, providing valuable, real-time intelligence on Russian movements and the ability to target them. But recently there have been problems. Last week, the Financial Times reported that the service was suffering "catastrophic" outages on the frontlines, prompting speculation that it had been shut off in areas controlled by Russia — perhaps to prevent the Kremlin from itself exploiting the network.On Twitter, Musk said he could not comment on battlefield conditions, saying "that's classified." But speaking to Eurasia Group political analyst Ian Bremmer in late September, Musk appeared to confirm that the satellite service was being intentionally disabled.Neither SpaceX nor Ukraine's Ministry of Defense immediately responded to requests for comment. Musk, speaking to Bremmer, said that he had been asked by Ukraine's defense ministry to activate Starlink in Crimea, which was invaded and illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. Per Bremmer, Musk "refused given the potential for escalation."According to Bremmer, Musk claimed to have recently spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin, asserting that he is "prepared to negotiate" (Musk this month proposed a Ukraine peace plan seen as aligning with Russian interests). In that conversation, Putin reportedly threatened to use nuclear weapons if Ukraine tried to retake the Crimean peninsula, which serves as the base for Russia's naval forces on the Black Sea.On Twitter, however, Musk flatly denied having any recent conversation with the Russian leader, writing that he has "spoken to Putin only once and that was about 18 months ago." The subject, he said, "was space."Russian forces are losing ground in Ukraine's south and have lost huge swathes in Ukraine's east as they press into regions Russia declared it had annexed, sparking concern among arms control experts about whether Putin and his top advisers may contemplate an attack with a nuke from their vast arsenal in an attempt to stanch their losses.Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.comRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 11th, 2022

Some Nuns and Bishops Are Taking on the U.S.’s Biggest Gunmaker. It May Take Years for Them to Succeed

An unlikely group of activists is going head to head with gunmaker Smith & Wesson It was her years as a teacher in the Seattle-area Catholic School system that made Sister Judy Byron particularly sensitive to gun violence. “We had fire drills in Washington, we had earthquake drills, but never in my wildest imagination would I ever have thought someone would have come in with a firearm to the school where I was,” she says. And then came the school shooting at Columbine, and years later, Sandy Hook. “I remember thinking at the time, if we don’t do something now, when we’ve murdered all those little first graders, we never will. And of course we didn’t.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] She knew more could be done by one of the biggest stakeholders in gun violence: gunmakers. “Every time there’s an incident you hear from everyone—even the NRA will put out a statement—but we never hear anything from the firearms manufacturers,” says Byron, who is an Adrian Dominican Sister, an order of about 400 nuns with a motherhouse in Michigan. “They have to be part of the solution to this.” Almost a decade after Sandy Hook but only months after horrific shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, Byron, together with an unlikely group of activists, is going head to head with the U.S.’s biggest gun manufacturer, Smith & Wesson. On Sept. 12, the storied gunmaker held its annual shareholder meeting online. Along with the usual run-of-show for these events—re-electing board members, ratifying some salaries, approving an omnibus stock plan and officially re-installing its auditors—shareholders were asked to vote on Item 5, a proposal to get the gun manufacturer to adopt a comprehensive human rights policy. Byron and her band of investors sought to encourage the company to take a look at the way its business operations may impinge on the rights of others. The proposal did not pass, but Byron seems undaunted. “We will continue engaging these two firearm manufacturers,” she says, pointing to recent victories her group has had with a similar vote at Sturm Ruger, and as part of the consortium who asked major credit card companies to start to give gun sales a particular merchant code, which they have now agreed to do. “Many, many groups got involved in pushing [the credit card companies],” she says. With the firearm manufacturers, we seem to be only the only investors that are really engaging them on these issues.” Read More: The Inside History of How Guns Are Marketed and Sold in America Byron is the leader of a consortium of 14 religious shareholders, the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, who have hatched an ambitious—and possibly quixotic—plan to open another avenue for conversation about the fraught issue of gun ownership in America, which despite dozens of deadly incidents since Sandy Hook has been stuck in a cycle of finger-pointing and inaction. While most of the members of the Coalition are other religious orders, and thus unlikely gun investors, they seek to use shareholder power to nudge gun companies into reckoning with the effect of firearms in America. The effort stems from conversations Byron had in 2016 with the Interfaith Coalition for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a mix of faith-based and ethics-based investors who together have about $4 trillion in managed assets, and who have long used investment as a form of engagement with the corporate America. The unusual shareholder initiative is non-binding and seemed modest enough. It asked that the company “adopt a comprehensive policy articulating its commitment to respect human rights,” and requested “a description of proposed due diligence processes to identify, assess, prevent and mitigate actual and potential adverse human rights impacts.” Elaine Thompson—APSister Judy Byron, director and coordinator of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, in her office in Seattle, March 2018. The proponents of the policy say that Smith & Wesson needs to explore and communicate the risks it may be facing—and thus shareholders may be facing—as a manufacturer of a dangerous product. These include reputational risks, that people will suddenly find the stock abhorrent and sell their shares after a horrific event involving a product the company makes (the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schoolshooter in Parkland, Florida used a Smith & Wesson weapon); financial risk, that the company will be sued and have to pay damages—as Remington was and did—and legal risks, that a change in gun laws may one day limit the company’s profitability. Smith & Wesson’s board asked shareholders to vote against the proposal. “Our lens for this is that they need to take a very holistic look at their policies, procedures, products and practices,” says Laura Krausa, System Director of Advocacy Programs for for CommonSpirit, and another member of the coalition, who was also one of the lead petitioners at Sturm Ruger. “They need to have a third-party auditing firm really talk with the wide spectrum of stakeholders to understand where they have some rights risks that could impact their bottom line.” Daniel Brenner—The New York Times/ReduxLaura Krausa, director of advocacy for CommonSpirit, a nonprofit hospital chain, at her home in Wheat Ridge, Colo., in May 2022. In its advice to shareholders, Smith & Wesson said that it had already taken steps to identify and manage any financial risks it faced and that the originators of the proposal have a gun-control agenda rather than the best interest of shareholders at heart. The shareholder activists disagree. “We believe, honestly, that reasonable and sensible solutions to prevent gun violence and to promote gun safety both can and should peacefully coexist with the Second Amendment,” says Krausa. Smith & Wesson declined several interview requests made by TIME to its media representative Whether as a result of this tactic or the increased regulatory scrutiny weapons manufacturers have been under since President Biden came into office, Smith & Wesson has recently gone on the offensive, stepping up its communications with its shareholders and customers, releasing several documents about its products, procedures and operating principles. On Aug. 15 CEO Mark Smith came out swinging on social media, accusing the “government and its lobbying partners in the media” of causing “the surge in violence and lawlessness” and then “shifting the blame on to Smith & Wesson” and other gun companies and gun owners. Making the religious case for gun control Many Christians are guns-rights supporters, but the group attempting to influence Smith & Wesson say their faith has led them the other way. Krausa works in violence prevention and shareholder advocacy for Commonspirit, a large non-profit health system associated with the Catholic church, with about 1000 clinics in 21 states. She sees engagement with gun companies as part of a larger approach to addressing the violence that often sends victims through Commonspirit’s doors. “Obviously, one reason we’re very interested in this is that we see this coming into our facilities,” she says. “Gun violence is rampant. In FY ’21, we had 3,200 incidences of injuries that came into our facilities. The cost of that is $32 million. And the human cost is far worse.” Like Byron, she feels that gun manufacturers are the missing piece in the struggle to lower gun violence. “There’s a lot of people trying to solve this problem,” she says. “But so far, the gun manufacturers haven’t joined that group. And because they do happen to make the product that is part of the problem, it seems very reasonable that they should come to the table and discuss solutions as well, and really look at how rights are being violated or potentially violated by their products.” Reverend Doug Fisher, an Episcopal Bishop in the western Massachusetts, and another member of the shareholder group, also got involved after the shooting at Sandy Hook, when some local church leaders formed Bishops United Against Gun Violence. In 2012, they started trying to help craft state and federal legislation to address what he calls “the absolute public health crisis of gun violence.” Progress in that area stalled, says Fisher, “and so we thought, ‘Well, maybe if we get in dialogue with the gun manufacturers, we can invite them to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.” And so the Episcopal church took gun companies off the list of stocks it would not hold and became weapons investors. Progress on engaging the gun companies, however, has been slow. The first shareholder proposal at Smith & Wesson was in 2018, asking for a gun safety report. It passed, but the groups felt the resultant report was half-hearted and shoddily done, mostly copied off the internet rather than reflecting any original thinking. The human rights policy was proposed in 2019 and again in 2021, each time garnering a slightly larger percentage of votes; last year, 44% of shareholders were in agreement. The percentage of shareholders who voted for it this time is not yet available. Byron says executives from Smith & Wesson met with representatives from the group several times, but the two sides have been unable to persuade each other of the merits of their position. This frustrates her. “You know, even Philip Morris International has a human rights policy,” she says. One advantage the faith-based proponents have is that, as people who believe in eternity, they are prepared to play the long game. The ICCR was founded when the Episcopal church bought shares in General Motors in 1971 and asked it to disinvest from South Africa, which it eventually did. It took apartheid another 23 years to fall. The movement has more recently worked with hotel chains on trafficking and pharmaceutical companies on HIV and AIDS drugs as well as campaigns around racial justice and environmental protection. They lose more than they win, but sometimes the losses are all they need. After an unsuccessful shareholder vote at Gilead Sciences in the early 2000s, the pharmaceutical firm nevertheless decided to make its HIV drugs more available in developing countries. “[The company] really became a leader in addressing HIV AIDS,” says Byron. More recently, in February 2021, a shareholder proposal for a human rights report at food giant Tyson was voted down by investors, but by the end of the year, after the ICCR indicated its intention to try again, the food giant agreed to have an independent party conduct just such an audit. Read More: When There’s Talk of Gun Control, Gunmakers Play the Jobs Card. They’re Often Bluffing Byron, the kind of nun who favors Hawaiian shirts, tries to be even-handed about what Smith & Wesson is doing. “One good thing they do that I wouldn’t have known [before meeting the corporate secretary] is they don’t let any of their product be shown in video games—the shooter video games kids use,” she says. But she cannot hide her disbelief that the firearms manufacturer couldn’t do more. Her group would like them to “really look at that supply chain and see if there are any places where guns are disappearing or being sold where they shouldn’t be sold,” and “to look at how they market the products and who they market them to, and where they market them now.” Her biggest ask, however, is for better safety features. “We get the same song and dance all the time about why technology doesn’t work in guns,” she says. “In the future I see that guns will have to be technologically smart.” She uses the example of passcodes and facial recognition on smartphones. “You know, if you couldn’t use my cell phone here on my desk, there’s no reason why if I had a gun on my desk, you should be able to pick it up and use it. I mean, it’s just, I don’t think it makes sense in this age.” Fisher says improving its products’ safety features would make Smith & Wesson a better company. “Car companies are always trying to make their cars safer,” he says. “I can safely pull out of the parking lot outside right now because there’s a rearview camera. Why can’t gun companies do the same thing? Why can’t they do things to make their products safer?” This is a particularly sensitive point for Smith & Wesson, since a former CEO, Ed Shultz, agreed to start to develop more safety mechanisms in 2000, in return for the withdrawal of lawsuits against the company mounted by several states. The reaction was brutal: gun wholesalers and many small retailers boycotted the brand, the company was dropped by its law firm and sold by its British owners, Shultz was forced out and the plan was dropped. Ever the nun, Byron is sympathetic to the company’s travails. “That trauma is in their DNA,” she says. “They feel that, you know, they’re not gonna make that mistake again.” But she points to the example of Edward Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, another company in which the shareholder activists invested and had more success. By the time they met with him, Stack had already been moved to act by the 2018 Parkland shooting. He removed large-capacity magazines and rifles from stores. The blowback was also intense; 65 employees quit straight away and sales dropped. But the company recovered and retail giants Walmart and Kroger made similar moves not long afterwards. “All it takes is, you know, a leader who really sees what the problem is and what they could do about it,” says Byron. Ed Shultz’s departure was 22 years ago, before the tragedies at Sandy Hook, Parkland and Uvalde, Texas. Recent surveys have shown an increasingly large majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws. Can things change? “We needed the support of the major investors like BlackRock and Vanguard,” says Byron. “We won’t know until they publish their votes if they supported the resolution.” Smith & Wesson’s largest investors are institutional fund managers such as BlackRock, Vanguard and the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Both the activist group and Smith & Wesson have met with these investors’ representatives on several occasions, as well as with governance groups that advise shareholders, such as Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). When a similar proposal requesting a human rights impact study passed at Sturm Ruger in June, that company’s CEO, Christopher Killoy, blamed the institutional investors, who “blindly followed the guidance” of governance groups. Both Glass Lewis and ISS recommended voting in favor of the proposal at Smith & Wesson this year. But they also recommended that the last time it didn’t pass, in 2021. Scott Keller—The Daily Times/APSmith and Wesson President and CEO Mark Smith, left, and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee prepare for a ground breaking ceremony for the new Tennessee location for the firearms manufacturer, November 2021 in Alcoa, Tenn. Until recently, business had been good for gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson. Although it just reported a large drop in sales for the quarter, it’s coming off a bumper season. In the first year of the pandemic, Smith & Wesson’s revenues increased by 27%. For the fiscal year that ended in April, the company had $875 million in sales, it says, with a gross profit margin of 43%. And the board is clearly happy with its new-ish CEO. Since he was appointed in 2020, Smith has had a 77% raise in his base salary, according to ISS, which, with other incentives, has taken his earnings to $2.8 million. The vote at Ruger took place shortly after 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, and it’s unclear if, in the absence of such a tragedy, shareholders felt as motivated to call on the gun companies to reexamine their role. It’s also unclear if such a non-binding proposal is worth the investment the shareholders have put in. Byron believes it is and says that the ICCR is planning a strategy session at their fall meeting at the end of September. In 2020, according to the CDC, there were more than 45,000 firearm-related deaths in the U.S.—about 124 people a day. That’s about 12% more Americans than died from car crashes, and half as many as died from drug overdoses. More than half of those gun deaths were suicides and more than 40% were homicides. “We have 400 million guns [in America] now,” she says. “It’s gonna take more than my lifetime to change this, but you know, we just have to do something.” Sept. 13: This story has been updated to reflect the results of the shareholder meeting......»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 13th, 2022

Some Nuns and Bishops Are Taking on the U.S.’s Biggest Gunmaker. They May Succeed

An unlikely group of activists is going head to head with gunmaker Smith & Wesson on Sept. 12. It was her years as a teacher in the Seattle-area Catholic School system that made Sister Judy Byron particularly sensitive to gun violence. “We had fire drills in Washington, we had earthquake drills, but never in my wildest imagination would I ever have thought someone would have come in with a firearm to the school where I was,” she says. And then came the school shooting at Columbine, and years later, Sandy Hook. “I remember thinking at the time, if we don’t do something now, when we’ve murdered all those little first graders, we never will. And of course we didn’t.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] She knew more could be done by one of the biggest stakeholders in gun violence: gunmakers. “Every time there’s an incident you hear from everyone—even the NRA will put out a statement—but we never hear anything from the firearms manufacturers,” says Byron, who is an Adrian Dominican Sister, an order of about 400 nuns with a motherhouse in Michigan. “They have to be part of the solution to this.” Almost a decade after Sandy Hook but only months after horrific shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, Byron, together with an unlikely group of activists, is going head to head with the U.S.’s biggest gun manufacturer, Smith & Wesson. On Sept. 12, the storied gunmaker will hold its annual shareholder meeting online. Along with the usual run-of-show for these events—re-electing board members, ratifying some salaries, approving an omnibus stock plan and officially re-installing its auditors—shareholders will be asked to vote on Item 5, a proposal to get the gun manufacturer to adopt a comprehensive human rights policy. Byron and her band of investors seek to encourage the company to take a look at the way its business operations may impinge on the rights of others. Read More: The Inside History of How Guns Are Marketed and Sold in America Byron is the leader of a consortium of 14 religious shareholders, the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, who have hatched an ambitious—and possibly quixotic—plan to open another avenue for conversation about the fraught issue of gun ownership in America, which despite dozens of deadly incidents since Sandy Hook has been stuck in a cycle of finger-pointing and inaction. While most of the members of the Coalition are other religious orders, and thus unlikely gun investors, they seek to use shareholder power to nudge gun companies into reckoning with the effect of firearms in America. The effort stems from conversations Byron had in 2016 with the Interfaith Coalition for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a mix of faith-based and ethics-based investors who together have about $4 trillion in managed assets, and who have long used investment as a form of engagement with the corporate America. The unusual shareholder initiative is non-binding and seems modest enough. It asks that the company “adopt a comprehensive policy articulating its commitment to respect human rights,” and asks for “a description of proposed due diligence processes to identify, assess, prevent and mitigate actual and potential adverse human rights impacts.” Elaine Thompson—APSister Judy Byron, director and coordinator of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, in her office in Seattle, March 2018. The proponents of the policy say that Smith & Wesson needs to explore and communicate the risks it may be facing—and thus shareholders may be facing—as a manufacturer of a dangerous product. These include reputational risks, that people will suddenly find the stock abhorrent and sell their shares after a horrific event involving a product the company makes (the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schoolshooter in Parkland, Florida used a Smith & Wesson weapon); financial risk, that the company will be sued and have to pay damages—as Remington was and did—and legal risks, that a change in gun laws may one day limit the company’s profitability. Smith & Wesson’s board has asked shareholders to vote against the proposal. But Sturm Ruger’s board opposed a similar initiative brought by members of the same group in June. And it passed with almost two thirds of the vote. “Our lens for this is that they need to take a very holistic look at their policies, procedures, products and practices,” says Laura Krausa, the assistant director of advocacy programs for Commonspirit Health, another member of the coalition, who was also one of the lead petitioners at Sturm Ruger. “They need to have a third-party auditing firm really talk with the wide spectrum of stakeholders to understand where they have some rights risks that could impact their bottom line.” Daniel Brenner—The New York Times/ReduxLaura Krausa, director of advocacy for CommonSpirit, a nonprofit hospital chain, at her home in Wheat Ridge, Colo., in May 2022. In its advice to shareholders, Smith & Wesson says that it has already taken steps to identify and manage any financial risks it faces and that the originators of the proposal have a gun-control agenda rather than the best interest of shareholders at heart. The shareholder activists disagree. “We believe, honestly, that reasonable and sensible solutions to prevent gun violence and to promote gun safety both can and should peacefully coexist with the Second Amendment,” says Krausa. Smith & Wesson declined several interview requests made by TIME to its media representative Whether as a result of this tactic or the increased regulatory scrutiny weapons manufacturers have been under since President Biden came into office, Smith & Wesson has recently gone on the offensive, stepping up its communications with its shareholders and customers, releasing several documents about its products, procedures and operating principles. On Aug. 15 CEO Mark Smith came out swinging on social media, accusing the “government and its lobbying partners in the media” of causing “the surge in violence and lawlessness” and then “shifting the blame on to Smith & Wesson” and other gun companies and gun owners. Making the religious case for gun control Many Christians are guns-rights supporters, but the group attempting to influence Smith & Wesson say their faith has led them the other way. Krausa works in violence prevention and shareholder advocacy for Commonspirit Health, a large non-profit health system associated with the Catholic church, with about 1000 clinics in 21 states. She sees engagement with gun companies as part of a larger approach to addressing the violence that often sends victims through Commonspirit’s doors. “Obviously, one reason we’re very interested in this is that we see this coming into our facilities,” she says. “Gun violence is rampant. In FY ’21, we had 3,200 incidences of injuries that came into our facilities. The cost of that is $32 million. And the human cost is far worse.” Like Byron, she feels that gun manufacturers are the missing piece in the struggle to lower gun violence. “There’s a lot of people trying to solve this problem,” she says. “But so far, the gun manufacturers haven’t joined that group. And because they do happen to make the product that is part of the problem, it seems very reasonable that they should come to the table and discuss solutions as well, and really look at how rights are being violated or potentially violated by their products.” Reverend Doug Fisher, an Episcopal Bishop in the western Massachusetts, and another member of the shareholder group, also got involved after the shooting at Sandy Hook, when some local church leaders formed Bishops United Against Gun Violence. In 2012, they started trying to help craft state and federal legislation to address what he calls “the absolute public health crisis of gun violence.” Progress in that area stalled, says Fisher, “and so we thought, ‘Well, maybe if we get in dialogue with the gun manufacturers, we can invite them to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.” And so the Episcopal church took gun companies off the list of stocks it would not hold and became weapons investors. Progress on engaging the gun companies, however, has still been slow. The first shareholder proposal at Smith & Wesson was in 2018, asking for a gun safety report. It passed, but the groups felt the resultant report was half-hearted and shoddily done, mostly copied off the internet rather than reflecting any original thinking. The human rights policy was proposed in 2019 and again in 2021, each time garnering a slightly larger percentage of votes; last year, 44% of shareholders were in agreement. Since then, Byron says executives from Smith & Wesson have met with representatives from the group several times, but the two sides were unable to persuade each other of the merits of their position. This frustrates her. “You know, even Philip Morris International has a human rights policy,” she says. One advantage the faith-based proponents have is that, as people who believe in eternity, they are prepared to play the long game. The ICCR was founded when the Episcopal church bought shares in General Motors in 1971 and asked it to disinvest from South Africa, which it eventually did. It took apartheid another 23 years to fall. The movement has more recently worked with hotel chains on trafficking and pharmaceutical companies on HIV and AIDS drugs as well as campaigns around racial justice and environmental protection. They lose more than they win, but the losses are all they need. After an unsuccessful shareholder vote at Gilead Sciences in the early 2000s, the pharmaceutical firm nevertheless decided to make its HIV drugs more available in developing countries. “[The company] really became a leader in addressing HIV AIDS,” says Byron. More recently, in February 2021, a shareholder proposal for a human rights report at food giant Tyson was voted down by investors, but by the end of the year, after the ICCR indicated its intention to try again, the food giant agreed to have an independent party conduct just such an audit. Read More: When There’s Talk of Gun Control, Gunmakers Play the Jobs Card. They’re Often Bluffing Byron, the kind of nun who favors Hawaiian shirts, tries to be even-handed about what Smith & Wesson is doing. “One good thing they do that I wouldn’t have known [before meeting the corporate secretary] is they don’t let any of their product be shown in video games—the shooter video games kids use,” she says. But she cannot hide her disbelief that the firearms manufacturer couldn’t do more. Her group would like them to “really look at that supply chain and see if there are any places where guns are disappearing or being sold where they shouldn’t be sold,” and “to look at how they market the products and who they market them to, and where they market them now.” Her biggest ask, however, is for better safety features. “We get the same song and dance all the time about why technology doesn’t work in guns,” she says. “In the future I see that guns will have to be technologically smart.” She uses the example of passcodes and facial recognition on smartphones. “You know, if you couldn’t use my cell phone here on my desk, there’s no reason why if I had a gun on my desk, you should be able to pick it up and use it. I mean, it’s just, I don’t think it makes sense in this age.” Fisher says improving its products’ safety features would make Smith & Wesson a better company. “Car companies are always trying to make their cars safer,” he says. “I can safely pull out of the parking lot outside right now because there’s a rearview camera. Why can’t gun companies do the same thing? Why can’t they do things to make their products safer?” This is a particularly sensitive point for Smith & Wesson, since a former CEO, Ed Shultz, agreed to start to develop more safety mechanisms in 2000, in return for the withdrawal of lawsuits against the company mounted by several states. The reaction was brutal: gun wholesalers and many small retailers boycotted the brand, the company was dropped by its law firm and sold by its British owners, Shultz was forced out and the plan was dropped. Ever the nun, Byron is sympathetic to the company’s travails. “That trauma is in their DNA,” she says. “They feel that, you know, they’re not gonna make that mistake again.” But she points to the example of Edward Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, another company in which the shareholder activists invested and had more success. By the time they met with him, Stack had already been moved to act by the 2018 Parkland shooting. He removed large-capacity magazines and rifles from stores. The blowback was also intense; 65 employees quit straight away and sales dropped. But the company recovered and retail giants Walmart and Kroger made similar moves not long afterwards. “All it takes is, you know, a leader who really sees what the problem is and what they could do about it,” says Byron. Ed Shultz’s departure was 22 years ago, before the tragedies at Sandy Hook, Parkland and Uvalde, Texas. Recent surveys have shown an increasingly large majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws. Can the shareholders succeed now? Smith & Wesson’s largest investors are institutional fund managers such as BlackRock, Vanguard and the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Both the activist group and Smith & Wesson have met with these investors’ representatives on several occasions, as well as with governance groups that advise shareholders, such as Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). When a similar proposal requesting a human rights impact study passed at Sturm Ruger in June, that company’s CEO, Christopher Killoy, blamed the institutional investors, who “blindly followed the guidance” of governance groups. Both Glass Lewis and ISS have recommended voting in favor of the proposal at Smith & Wesson this year. But they also recommended that last year, when it didn’t pass. Scott Keller—The Daily Times/APSmith and Wesson President and CEO Mark Smith, left, and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee prepare for a ground breaking ceremony for the new Tennessee location for the firearms manufacturer, November 2021 in Alcoa, Tenn. In the meantime, business is good for gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson. Most analysts that follow the company’s stock recommend buying in. In the first year of the pandemic, Smith & Wesson’s revenues increased by 27%. For the fiscal year that ended in April, the company had $875 million in sales, it says, with a gross profit margin of 43%. And the board is clearly happy with its new-ish CEO. Since he was appointed in 2020, Smith has had a 77% raise in his base salary, according to ISS, which, with other incentives, has taken his earnings to $2.8 million. The vote at Ruger took place shortly after 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, and it’s unclear if, in the absence of such a tragedy, voters will feel as motivated to call on the gun companies to reexamine their role. It’s also unclear if such a non-binding proposal is worth the investment the shareholders have put in. Byron believes it is. In 2020, according to the CDC, there were more than 45,000 firearm-related deaths in the U.S.—about 124 people a day. That’s about 12% more Americans than died from car crashes, and half as many as died from drug overdoses. More than half of those gun deaths were suicides and more than 40% were homicides. “We have 400 million guns [in America] now,” she says. “It’s gonna take more than my lifetime to change this, but you know, we just have to do something.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 10th, 2022

High-profile attacks behind Russian lines hint at how Ukrainian special forces may be using their US training

Recent attacks behind Russian lines in Crimea may be the work of Ukrainian troops who have trained extensively with US special operators since 2014. Smoke rises after explosions at a Russian air base near Novofedorivka in Crimea on August 9.Reuters Recent explosions in Crimea have damaged Russian military hardware and other infrastructure. Russia hasn't blamed Ukraine specifically, but Ukrainian officials have said they are behind the blasts. The attacks may be the work of Ukrainians who have trained closely with US special operators since 2014. This month, the Ukrainian military has again showed Russia and the world its commitment to winning the war, carrying out attacks far behind Russia's frontlines.On August 9, Ukrainian forces struck a military target in Crimea, the first Ukrainian attack there since Moscow invaded and illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014. At least six blasts rocked Russia's Saki air base, which is home to the 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment, but the source of the attack remains unclear.On Tuesday, there more explosions at an ammunition dump in northern Crimea. Russia's Defense Ministry said a fire at "a temporary ammunition storage site" caused the blast, calling it "an act of sabotage."In both cases, Ukrainian officials have said or suggested that their forces were involved, which hints at how Ukrainian forces might be using the training they've been getting from Western special-operations forces since 2014.Special operators or ballistic missiles?Saki air base in Crimea on August 10.Planet Labs PBC/Handout via REUTERSThe explosions at Saki Air Base on August 9 destroyed at least eight aircraft — Ukraine has said nine — including Su-30SM fighter jets and Su-24M fighter-bomber, in addition to ammunition, fuel supplies, and aircraft storage facilities.Russia has said the blasts were caused by accidental detonations of munitions and blamed the destruction on fire-safety violations.US officials have not determined what caused the blasts but have said they weren't caused by a US-supplied weapon — ruling out the powerful M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. (The US-made MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System could reach the base if fired from Ukrainian-held territory but the US hasn't provided that weapon, despite requests from Kyiv.)Some Ukrainian officials denied responsibility but others said their forces were involved in the explosions at the base. Ukraine could have used a domestically developed long-range missile but it's not clear if it has such a weapon in service, though Kyiv has been working on one.One Ukrainian official told The Washington Post that the attack was a result of a special-operations raid. Whether that claim was made to hide the actual cause of the attack is still uncertain.Smoke rises from an electrical substation that caught fire after a blast in northern Crimea on August 16.Still image from video obtained by ReutersThe explosions on Tuesday also hit an electrical plant and power lines, rail lines, and residential buildings, Russia's Defense Ministry said. Another blast, reportedly caused by a drone, hit a military airfield in central Crimea.Following those explosions, a former senior Ukrainian official told The Guardian that Ukraine had "intelligence assets" operating in Crimea. A current Ukrainian official told The New York Times that an "elite" military unit "behind enemy lines" was responsible for the blasts in northern Crimea.Special-operations raids could be plausible considering the training that Ukrainian commandos have received from special operators with the US and other NATO militaries and the capabilities those commandos have already displayed during the war.Since 2014, the US special-operations community — primarily Green Berets from the Army's 10th Special Forces Group — has led a multinational effort to train Ukrainians, which has had a pivotal role in moving them away from their Soviet-era mindset and tactics and into the 21st century.Ukrainian, Romanian, and US Army Special Forces soldiers train together in May 2021.Romanian army/Capt. Roxana DavidovitsInsider understands that during those years of training, US special operators placed particular emphasis on operational and contingency planning and on updating the tactics, techniques, and procedures of Ukrainian commandos.Throughout the war, Ukrainian special operators — whose ranks also doubled during that period of Western training — have repeatedly struck behind Russian lines, taking out resupply convoys and other vulnerable targets.The attack at the Saki Air Base, moreover, has the indications of a special-operations raid. The explosions started in the morning, when all the aircraft were on the ground prior to launching the day's sorties — the Russian air force's nighttime combat capability is questionable at best.Special operators naturally train and fight in the darkness, allowing them to surprise and out-maneuver larger conventional forces, and Ukrainian operators may have used the cover of night to approach the base. Those operators may have then triggered the blasts in the daytime with time-delayed or remotely detonated explosives.Small drones have also been used to attack Russian installations in Crimea, though that method would likely require the drone operators to remain closer to the target for longer.The start of a counteroffensive?A woman and child walks by a Russian soldier on an embankment by the Black Sea in Kherson on May 20.AP PhotoThe attacks come as the Ukrainian military appears to be gaining the strategic initiative, dictating major moves on the battlefield with Moscow scrambling to respond.Ukrainian officials told Politico that the attack on the air base could be considered the start of a counteroffensive toward the southeastern city of Kherson, which is north of Crimea.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his military advisers gambled when they launched a counteroffensive toward the south just a few days after Russian forces launched a renewed offensive in the Donbas region in mid-May.That gamble seems to be paying off, as Russian forces have failed to make meaningful advances in Donbas and are now urgently relocating to meet the Ukrainian threat to Kherson.Ukrainian troops near the frontline in Kherson on July 15.Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesUkraine now has "a unique chance and window of opportunity," as an advance on Kherson and across the Dnieper River could limit Russia's ability to maneuver and bring more of Crimea into range of Ukrainian weapons, Sergii Grabskyi, a Ukrainian army reserve colonel, said on a recent podcast.A number of factors will influence events in the months ahead. Ukraine and Russia have both sustained heavy losses among experienced troops, and the onset of autumn may make operations more challenging.Both sides struggle with combined-arms warfare — that was evident for Russia early in the war, and Ukraine may now face similar difficulties."Since 1992, in our field exercises, we did not study offensive actions. We always planned defensive actions," Grabskyi said. "After eight years of war, Ukrainian forces are brilliant in defensive actions, but they have a very limited or almost zero experience to conduct large-scale offensive actions."Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 16th, 2022

From rich kid to first daughter: The life of Ivanka Trump

How President Donald Trump's favorite daughter grew up in the public eye to be a powerful businesswoman, famous face, and one of his closest advisors. Ivanka Trump, 38.Jemal Countess / Getty Images Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump's eldest daughter, has lived her life in the public eye. The 39-year-old has been a business executive, runway model, socialite, doting mother, and key advisor in her father's administration. Here's a closer look at her life, career, and time in the White House. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Ivanka Trump has lived her life in the public eye.Born to then real-estate mogul Donald Trump and model Ivana Trump, his first wife, she is now the president's oldest (and suspected favorite) daughter.The 39-year-old has been a business executive, runway model, socialite, doting mother, and key advisor in her father's White House.Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were both senior advisers in the West Wing — although they didn't take a salary — and held significant influence over Trump's policy initiatives.Here's a look back at her life, career, and time in the West Wing.Ivana Trump was born in Manhattan on October 30, 1981. "Ivanka" is actually a nickname for her real name, which is the same as her mother's.Ivana Trump, ex-wife of real estate developer Donald Trump, is shown with her children Ivanka, left, and Eric as Ricardo Mazuchelli looks on in October 1993.APSources: Business Insider, Ivanka TrumpShe is the middle child of Donald's first wife, Ivana, who was born in Czechoslovakia.The funeral of Ivana Trump's father Milos Zelnicek in Zlin, Czechoslovakia in 1990. From left: Trump's children, Eric, 6, Ivanka, 8 and Donald, 12, Ivana and Donald Trump.APHer mother and father divorced in 1992 after a very public breakup when he cheated with Marla Maples, who would become his second wife. Ivanka was 11 years old.Ivana & Ivanka Trump in 1994.John Barrett/PHOTOlink/MediaPunch /IPX via APIvanka has said while she loves Maples and her half-sister Tiffany, she could never really forgive Maples for breaking up her parents' marriage. At the time, tabloid journalists accosted her, shouting, "Is it true that Marla said that your father was the best sex she'd ever had?"Marla Maples and Trump with their family at the US Tennis Open championships in New York on September 7, 1994.. Ivanka is sitting on her father's lap, and her half-sister Tiffany Trump is to her right.Mike Segar/ReutersSource: GQShe attended the exclusive all-girls Chapin School in Manhattan — of which Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is an alumna — and then shipped off to boarding school at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut — where John F. Kennedy went.Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka peek over the crowd as they take in a tennis match during the US Open in New York on September 7, 1994.Roh Frehm/APSource: PoliticoTaking after her mother, Ivanka started modeling as a teen.Ivanka on the cover of "Seventeen" in May 1997, when she was 15.Seventeen Magazine/Hearst CorporationShe studied at Georgetown and the University of Pennsylvania (her father's alma mater), where she graduated in 2004 with a degree in economics.Donald Trump, left, his daughter Ivanka, center, and ex-wife Ivana watch the men's semifinal match from their box at the US Open in New York on Sept. 6, 1997.AP Photo/Richard DrewIvanka's memoir said she graduated summa cum laude, but HuffPost reported in 2016 that she actually graduated cum laude.Ivanka met Jared Kushner, from a fellow real-estate mogul family who also grew up in the public eye, in 2005. The pair began dating on and off shortly after that. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, owner of the New York Observer, attend a fashion show on September 9, 2007 in New York City. Rob Loud/Getty ImagesAn inch shy of 6 feet, she's walked the runways for Versace. Ivanka told Harper's Bazaar in 2007 that 60-year-old bankers "have nothing on a group of catty 16-year-old female models without parental supervision."Ivanka Trump walks the runway at Johnnie Walker's 'Dressed To Kilt 2007' fashion show at Capitale on April 2, 2007 in New York City.Peter Kramer/Getty ImagesSource: Harper's BazaarBut her true passion has always been the family business. She tagged along to board meetings and negotiations her whole life, but started officially working for her father in 2005 after graduating college.A billboard in New York City in 2007.RtMcbride / MediaPunch/IPXSource: Trump OrganizationIvanka appeared on her father's hit TV show, "The Apprentice," joining the cast as a boardroom judge from its sixth season to its final episode with the Trumps at the helm in 2015.From left, first "Celebrity Apprentice" winner Piers Morgan, Donald Trump, and Ivanka Trump in 2007.NBCSource: IMDBIvanka apparently inherited her father's dealmaking skills. She was the lead negotiator on the Trump National Doral Miami, a $1 billion property that she scooped up for $150 million.Donald and Ivanka Trump place their hands in concrete during festivities for the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago on Sept. 24, 2008.Charles Rex Arbogast/APSource: Business InsiderIn 2009, she published, "The Trump Card," an inspirational how-to get ahead in business book based on her experiences. It was a New York Times bestseller. Her second book, "Women Who Work," came out in May 2017.Ivanka Trump attends the 'The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life' book launch celebration at Trump Tower on October 14, 2009 in New York City.Andrew H. Walker/Getty ImagesSources: Amazon, AmazonIvanka married Kushner on October 25, 2009. She converted to Orthodox Judaism for him, and the couple keep kosher and observe the Sabbath, shutting off their electronics to spend time with family.The wedding of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on October 25, 2009.Brian Marcus/Fred Marcus Photography via Getty ImagesSource: The New YorkerIn addition to helping run the Trump Organization, Ivanka launched a jewelry collection in 2007, and created her own fashion and lifestyle brand, The Ivanka Trump Collection, shortly thereafter.Ivanka Trump attends the Launch of Her Spring 2011 Lifestyle Collection of Footwear at the Topanga Nordstrom on February 17, 2011 in Canoga Park, California.Frederick M. Brown/Getty ImagesSources: Harper's Bazaar, Ivanka Trump, New York TimesIvanka is an early riser, usually beginning work by 6:30 a.m. People describe her as friendly, polished, eloquent, capable, and even a bit intimidating. She admits she has "a big ego," like her father.Donald Trump listens to Ivanka talk about his 92-story Trump International Hotel & Tower during a news conference on construction progress in Chicago on May 24, 2007.Charles Rex Arbogast/AP PhotosSources: Harper's Bazaar, GQ, The New YorkerPreviously an avid Manhattan socialite, she lent her name recognition to various charitable causes, including the New York City Police Foundation and Cookies for Kids' Cancer, shown here.Ivanka Trump hosts the Glad Cookie Exchange in support of Cookies for Kids' Cancer at Trump Tower on November 29, 2011 in New York City.Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Glad Product CompanyHer and her brothers Eric and Donald Jr. — all Trump's kids from his first wife — held the title of executive vice presidents of development and acquisition at the Trump Organization, with offices side-by-side-by-side in Trump Tower.Eric, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Donald Trump attend the ground breaking of the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Building in Washington on July 23, 2014.REUTERS/Gary CameronSource: Trump OrganizationShe has always been extremely close with her father. When Ivanka was little, he used to brag to high-powered executives about how smart she was. And he never ignores her phone calls.Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry with Ivanka and Eric Trump on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland.Getty/ Jeff J MitchellSources: Harper's Bazaar, GQReceiving numerous accolades for her business acumen over the years, the World Economic Forum named Ivanka a Young Global Leader, and she was 33rd on Fortune magazine's '40 Under 40' list in 2014.Ivanka Trump speaks at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington on Oct. 14, 2015.Carolyn Kaster/APSource: Ivanka TrumpOn March 27, 2016, Ivanka and Jared welcomed baby Theo, their third child after Arabella and Joseph.Apr 25, 2016 - Ivanka Trump shared the first photo of her family of five featuring baby Theo.ivankatrump/InstragramSource: Ivanka Trump"The most important job any woman can have is being a mother, and it shouldn't mean taking a pay cut," she controversially proclaimed in a political ad for her father.Ivanka Trump with two of her children.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/APSources: YouTube, Washington Post, Refinery 29After her father clinched the party's presidential nomination, Ivanka delivered a keynote address at the Republican National Convention, highlighting her father's record of supporting women and minorities within his company.Ivanka Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderShe was her father's constant foil on the campaign trail. After a lewd 2005 tape of Trump making crude sexual remarks about women, Ivanka said his comments were "clearly inappropriate and offensive," and that she was glad he apologized for them.Ivanka Trump looks on as her her father speaks during a campaign event on September 13, 2016 in Aston, Pennsylvania.Mark Makela/Getty ImagesSources: Business Insider, Fast CompanyHer support for her father has never wavered. "Thank you, America, for the trust that you placed in my father," Ivanka said on election night after he won. "He will never let you down!"Ivanka Trump brushes the hair off her daughter Arabella Kushner's face as husband Jared Kushner looks on before voting at PS 59 in New York, New York on November 8, 2016.Thomson ReutersSource: Ivanka TrumpAnd she is clearly her father's favorite child. "Daddy’s little girl!" he's called her.Tiffany and Ivanka Trump attend their father's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.ReutersSources: The New Yorker, Bravo, ABC NewsAfter the election, Ivanka and Jared moved to D.C., and both relinquished control of their many business ventures. She stepped down from her fashion line and the Trump Organization, leaving the company in her brothers' hands.APSource: Business InsiderBut her father's many critics have jeopardized Ivanka's brands. Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Gilt, and Burlington all dropped her fashion line in early 2017 following customer protests and weak sales.Ivanka Trump watches as President Donald Trump delivers remarks after touring the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture on February 21, 2017.Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderBy July 2018, Ivanka announced she was shutting down her fashion company. "I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington," she said in a statement.AP Photo/Charles SykesSource: Business InsiderOne of her father's closest confidantes, Ivanka has sat in on many of his meetings with business and world leaders — just like she did as a kid.Ivanka Trump looks at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a roundtable discussion on the advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders at the White House on February 13, 2017.REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueBut sometimes critics think she's gone too far, like when she briefly took her dad's seat at the G20 Summit in Germany in July 2018.President Donald Trump (R) holds his daughter Ivanka Trump (C) at the G20 summit on July 8, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.Matt Cardy/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderShe has represented the US on multiple occasions, including attending the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.Ivanka Trump visits the USA House on February 24, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.Marianna Massey/GettySource: Business InsiderShe and Jared also opened the new US embassy in Israel that her father moved to Jerusalem. That day, 40,000 Palestinians protested the opening at the Gaza border. At least 58 Palestinians died and more than 2,700 were wounded, many from Israeli forces.Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump (L) stands next to the dedication plaque at the US embassy in Jerusalem, and (R) a wounded Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated as others take cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border on May 14, 2018.REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Ibraheem Abu MustafaSource: Business InsiderProtesting Trump's controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy and family separations at the US border, celebrities called on the first daughter in a "Dear Ivanka" campaign that went viral.President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he believed his daughter, Ivanka Trump, would make a "dynamite" ambassador to the UN.Carlos Barria/ReutersSource: InsiderAfter Trump ended the family separations, Ivanka later said they were a "low point" in her time in the White House. "I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children," she said in August 2018.Pool/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderIvanka has made supporting women, children, and families her key issues, pushing for a child tax credit and paid family leave.She's worked on both issues with Sen. Marco Rubio.J. Scott Applewhite/APSource: Business InsiderShe has broken with her father two notable times since he took office — once when she defended the press, saying she didn't think the media, or the "fake news" as her dad likes to say, were the "enemy of the people."Trump holds a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington.Thomson ReutersSource: Business InsiderIvanka also denounced disgraced former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore before her father withdrew his endorsement, saying "There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children."Ivanka Trump.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderBut she always defends her father, like when a reporter asked if she believed the women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. "I think it's a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he's affirmatively stated there's no truth to it," Ivanka said in February 2018.Ivanka and Donald TrumpMark Wilson/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderRead more: The 24 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconductTrump even floated the idea of making her his new US ambassador to the UN, saying she "would be dynamite," but said he could "already hear the chants of nepotism!"President Donald Trump said "everyone wants Ivanka Trump to be the new United Nations Ambassador."Carlos Barria/ReutersSource: Business InsiderIvanka found herself in hot water when the Washington Post reported in November 2018 that she conducted government business using a private email account, in violation of federal records rules.“She was the worst offender in the White House,” a former senior government official told The Post about Ivanka's private email use.Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesSource: Washington PostMany saw Ivanka's use of a private email to be hypocritical, after her father called for his former Democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton to be "locked up" over her use of a non-government email while serving as secretary of state.Trump has not commented on his daughter's use of a private email account for government business.Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesSource: Washington PostA spokesperson for Ivanka's ethics counsel told the Post that Ivanka was unaware that using a private email for government business violated records rules, and emphasized that she never discussed classified information on her private email.The Post said that Ivanka conducting government business with a private email could violate the Presidential Records Act.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSource: Washington PostIvanka again raised eyebrows at the 2019 G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, when she took on the role of a diplomat, attending official meetings alongside her father, and even delivered an official readout from Trump's meetings with the leaders of Japan and India.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US President Donald Trump, and Trump's daughter Ivanka, a White House adviser, at the G20 summit meeting in June 2019.The Asahi Shimbun via Getty ImagesSources: The White House, Business InsiderIn a cringeworthy moment that went viral, Ivanka also unsuccessfully tried to get involved in a conversation with French president Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Teresa May, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and IMF leader Christine Lagarde.Ivanka Trump, left, daughter of the US President, talks with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, right, at a meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on Feb. 16, 2019.AP Photo/Kerstin JoenssonSource: Business InsiderThe moment was mocked online, with Twitter users editing Ivanka's photo into other historical scenes, and multiple members of Congress calling out her presence at the summit as evidence of nepotism in the administration.Ivanka Trump with world leaders, including the heads of Japan, Canada, and Saudi Arabia, during an event promoting women's empowerment at the June 2019 G20 summit.Kyodo News via Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderWhile her father largely eschewed wearing masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Ivanka often posed in them during the pandemic. But she and her siblings were all pictured without them during the first presidential debate. Days later, the White House experienced a COVID-19 outbreak that sickened both the president and first lady.Ivanka Trump watches her father President Donald Trump hold a photo-op on June 1, 2020 in front of St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House during ongoing protests over racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd.ReutersSource: Business InsiderIn July 2020, Hispanic-owned Goya Foods faced a boycott after its CEO said the US was "truly blessed" to have Trump as president. Ivanka posted a photo of her posing with the company's black beans on Twitter and Instagram, which may have broken ethics rules against people in public office endorsing products.Ivanka Trump shared a picture of herself with Goya beans, along with the company's slogan, on July 14, 2020.Twitter/Ivanka TrumpSources: Business Insider, Reuters, Twitter, InstagramIn March 2020, Jared and Ivanka finally registered as Republicans. She introduced her father for his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention held at the White House in August, which broke ethical norms of separating the place of power from campaigning. "I love you for being real, and I respect you for being effective," she said.White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump introduces her father U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver his acceptance speech as the 2020 Republican presidential nominee during the final event of the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on August 27, 2020.REUTERS/Carlos BarriaSources: Business Insider, The New York TimesAt the end of August 2020, news broke that Melania's former close friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff said in her memoir that the first lady launched "Operation Block Ivanka," during Trump's 2017 inauguration in order to keep his daughter from being shown on TV cameras. The White House denied Winston Wolkoff's account.President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC as his wife Melania stares on.Alex Wong/GettySources: Business Insider, New York magazineOn her 39th birthday, an interview with RealClearPolitics was published revealing Ivanka was anti-abortion. "Parenthood affected me in a profound way in terms of how I think about these things," she told reporter Philip Wegmann. "I am pro-life, and unapologetically so."Ivanka Trump, President Trump's daughter, drinks a Cuban coffee at the renowned Versailles restaurant in Miami.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesSource: RealClearPoliticsAfter her father left office, Kushner launched the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace, which aims to foster tourism and trade in the Middle East. Ivanka attended an inaugural event for the Institute in 2021.Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz (L) shakes hands with Daughter and Senior Advisor to the former US President Ivanka Trump alongside US businessman and former Trump-administration presidential advisor Jared Kushner (C) during the inaugural event of the Abraham Accords Institute, at the Knesset (Israel's parliament) in Jerusalem on October 11, 2021.AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty ImagesSource: InsiderShe cooperated with the House committee investigation the Capitol riot, testifying voluntarily for 8 hours. Donald Trump was reportedly annoyed with her testimony after the committee played it during the hearings, saying "she shouldn't have said anything," according to the New York Times.Former White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump is seen on a video display during the seventh hearing held by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on July 12, 2022 .Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty ImagesSource: Business Insider, The New York TimesInvanka's mother, Ivana Trump, died at age 73 on July 14, 2022. Donald Trump called her a "wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great and inspirational life."Ivanka Trump, Ivana Trump and Eric Trump attend the 8th Annual Eric Trump Golf Tournament at Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 15, 2014 in Briarcliff Manor, New York.Bobby Bank/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderIvanka's trusted voice shaped her father's presidency and she remains a close advisor in his inner circle as he plans a possible political comeback.Ivanka Trump.Evan Vucci/APRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 14th, 2022

77 years ago, the US"s largest invasion in the Pacific may have prevented an even bigger fight with the Japanese

The Battle of Okinawa, which ended in June 1945, made clear to US commanders what kind of fighting awaited them if they invaded Japan. US Marines during fighting at Wana Ridge on Okinawa, May 1945.US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Walter F. Kleine In spring 1945, the US island-hopping campaign was drawing closer to the Japanese mainland. US commanders were thinking about an invasion of Japanese itself, and invading Okinawa was seen as a prelude. The fanatical resistance and appalling casualties on Okinawa made clear what awaited them. By mid-March 1945, the Allies were closing in on the Japanese home islands. Allied forces were well into the process of liberating the Philippines. Japan's navy had suffered a string of disastrous defeats that left its fleet almost useless, and the brutal fight for Iwo Jima was drawing to a close.But the Japanese had shown they were determined to fight to the last man, and due to the US's insistence that Japan surrender unconditionally, it seemed to US commanders that an invasion of the Japanese mainland was the only way to end the war.Strategists began making invasion plans. Okinawa, just 350 miles south of the Japanese mainland, was a prime candidate for a staging ground. Aircraft could launch from its airfields, the US Navy could use it as a base to cut off Japanese ships from the rest of Japan's empire, and Allied troops could gather there for the invasion of Japan itself.US Navy battleship USS Idaho shells Okinawa, April 1, 1945.US NavyIt was obvious that the fight for Okinawa was going to be at least as bloody as the battle on Iwo Jima, where total US casualties outnumbered Japanese casualties for the first time in the war. Okinawa was much bigger, its Japanese garrison was almost five times larger, and, as on Iwo, they had prepared to defend it.The Japanese commander, Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushiijima, chose to mount a layered defense.Instead of trying to fight on the beaches, he focused most of his forces on defensive lines on Okinawa's southern tip, leaving only smaller groups to defend the central and northern parts. Some 60 miles of underground tunnels and dozens of bunkers, artillery positions, and machine gun nests were built using the island's numerous reverse slopes.The American invasion force was the largest US amphibious invasion force in the Pacific campaign. Led by Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., it was made up of over 180,000 soldiers and Marines from four US Army and two Marine Corps divisions.They were supported by more than 1,300 ships from the US 5th Fleet and British Pacific Fleet and by thousands of aircraft from the US Navy and Army Air Forces.US landing craft unload supplies on Yellow Beach on Okinawa, April 13, 1945.US National ArchivesThe first landings at Okinawa were on the outlying Kerama Islands on March 26, 1945 — the last day of the Battle of Iwo Jima. On April 1, after a full week of naval bombardments, US soldiers and Marines landed on central Okinawa.At first, it appeared to be going surprisingly well. The Americans encountered almost no enemy resistance. By the end of the first day, the Kadena and Yontan airfields were easily taken. Marines began to clear the northern part of the island while soldiers moved south.On April 6, the Japanese navy, in a desperate attempt to defend the island, sent the largest and most powerful battleship ever built, the Yamato, on a suicide mission against the US Navy.Yamato and five of her escorts were sunk just one day into their voyage after being hit by at least 15 bombs and eight torpedoes in an attack by 300 US Navy aircraft, killing more than 4,000 Japanese sailors.Japanese battleship Yamato explodes and sinks after bomb and torpedo hits from US Navy carrier planes north of Okinawa, April 7, 1945.US NavyBut the Allies' initial successes suddenly came to a halt.As the Americans advanced south, they walked straight into well-prepared enemy kill zones and ambushes. Constant artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire from fortified and hidden positions, along with Japanese nighttime assaults and counterattacks, slowed most progress.The fighting was especially hard along the Shuri and Machinato defensive lines, where the reverse slopes provided clear fields of fire on exposed American troops. To make things worse, late April brought the rainy season, turning battlefields into mud pits. Tanks and armored vehicles were left almost useless, and the offensive ground to a halt.At sea, the battle was just as intense. With their navy unable to mount any resistance to the superior American fleet, the Japanese turned to mass kamikaze attacks from the air.US Navy aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill was hit by two kamikaze attacks in 30 seconds off Kyushu, May 11, 1945.US NavyAlthough kamikaze attacks were used in previous battles, Okinawa was the first time they were launched simultaneously and in overwhelming numbers.Over six weeks, thousands of planes from bases in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's main islands, conducted about 1,900 such attacks.Among the planes was a new type of weapon: the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka, a 2,600-pound rocket-powered manned kamikaze aircraft.These attacks wreaked havoc; 13 aircraft carriers, 10 battleships, and hundreds of destroyers, transports, and other vessels were hit, killing about 4,900 sailors. The destroyer USS Laffey alone survived six kamikaze hits.Marines supported by bazookas assault a ridge during fighting on Okinawa, April 5, 1945.US Marine Corps/PFC L. L. GriffinDespite the fierce resistance, American troops continued to advance. On April 20, the northern part of the island was fully cleared. By the end of May, Naha, Okinawa's capital city, was captured after being virtually destroyed.Aided by airpower, naval bombardments, additional landings, and flamethrower tanks, the Americans were able to finally capture the last part of the island on June 22 — nearly three months after the battle started.The total casualties were staggering: over 12,00 Americans were killed and 36,000 wounded. Among the dead were Buckner, the overall commander, and Brig. Gen. Claudius Miller Easley, commander of the Army's 96th Infantry Division. Both were killed in the final days of the battle.Of the over 100,000 Japanese defenders, almost all were killed in action or died by suicide; only about 7,000 surrendered. Three of the four senior Japanese officers killed themselves, including Lt. Gen. Ushijima. The remaining officer, Col. Hiromichi Yahara, requested permission to commit seppuku but was directly ordered not to.A US tank, left foreground, uses a flamethrower against a Japanese strong point as US troops advance past pillboxes and underground forts on Okinawa, June 20, 1945.US ArmyMaterial losses were also high; the Americans lost 36 ships with over 360 more damaged. More than 760 aircraft and 200 tanks were destroyed as well. The Japanese lost 16 ships, more than 1,000 aircraft, and about 20 tanks.Civilians on the island suffered the most horrific toll.Unlike Iwo Jima, the Japanese did not completely evacuate the civilian population of Okinawa. It is estimated that well over 100,000 civilians — one-third of the population — died during the battle. Many were caught in the fighting and were killed in the crossfire. Some were even used as human shields by Japanese soldiers.The Japanese also mounted a program of mass indoctrination of the local population, telling them that Americans were barbarians that would slaughter or rape them if they surrendered. Large numbers of civilians willingly killed themselves or were forced to do so by Japanese soldiers to prevent their capture.Japanese prisoners of war at Okuku on Okinawa, June 27, 1945.US Marine CorpsThe fanatical resistance and appalling casualties, both military and civilian, led American leaders to reconsider an invasion of the Japanese mainland.The fighting would have undoubtedly been harder and costlier. Estimates of American casualties in such a battle ranged from 225,000 to 1 million troops, while the Japanese estimated they would suffer as many as 20 million casualties.At a White House meeting on June 18, President Harry Truman made it clear he wanted to prevent "an Okinawa, from one end of Japan to the other."In the end, the invasion of Japan never happened. Germany's surrender on May 7, coupled with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, made the Japanese realize that fighting to a negotiated surrender was impossible. On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally.This story was first published in June 2020.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 22nd, 2022

Beware Of Hidden Messages From War-Games

Beware Of Hidden Messages From War-Games Authored by Guermantes Lailari via The Epoch Times, An NBC Meet the Press special on May 14  presented a war game conducted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a Washington-based think tank. On the surface, the game appeared to “educate” its audience. However, looking deeper into the messages delivered, “education” was not its purpose. These are the “conclusions” as quoted from the NBC news article about the war game: The “U.S. should prepare for drawn-out conflict if China invades Taiwan.” “An attack would plunge the region into a broad, drawn-out war that could include direct attacks on the U.S.” The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will conduct a decapitation strategy against Taiwan prior to its invasion. The CCP is “not going to let the president of Taiwan survive the first day.” Part of the “swift decapitation of Taiwan’s government” involves the CCP “pre-emptively attacking American bases in Japan and Guam.” This NBC report notes that “it may sound like a purely academic exercise but, in fact, it’s deadly serious.” Even the monthly Air Force Magazine picked up the story and repeated some of the CNAS’s talking points. Luckily, one senior retired U.S. Air Force officer recognized that the scenario was far-fetched. NBC assumed the CNAS game is consistent with what we know about CCP assumptions about what the United States will or will not do to stymie an invasion. The CNAS war game’s most important problematic assumption is that the CCP would order the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct a preemptive strike against U.S. bases in Japan and Guam. First, attacking the U.S. military bases and killing American soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines, and the U.S. and Japanese civilians will bring a hellfire on the CCP—and the CCP is fully aware of such a response. An attack on the U.S. territory of Guam would remind the U.S. public of the last time an Asian country attacked the United States and what transpired; Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and, after four years of hard fighting, was the recipient of two atomic bombs in August 1945. The CNAS assumption about attacking U.S. Pacific bases is analogous to asserting that Vladimir Putin would preemptively attack NATO bases in Europe as a prelude to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The CNAS’s assumption is fantastical and unrealistic. CNAS Connections Having argued that the CNAS made a strategic blunder, I investigated the background of one of the key participants, Michèle A. Flournoy. Flournoy and Kurt M. Campbell co-founded the CNAS in 2007 as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization. The CNAS touts its research as independent and non-partisan. This article argues that this war game was partisan and supports indirectly or directly the CCP propaganda and media warfare campaigns conducted against Taiwan and the United States. According to the CNAS website, “Michèle Flournoy is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors, and former Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where she currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors.” Prior to her selection as the under secretary of defense for policy from February 2009 to February 2012, Flournoy “co-led President Obama’s transition team at the Defense Department.” In other words, she has close ties to the Obama administration and the Biden administration. U.S. Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy arrives for a bilateral meeting with Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, at the Bayi Building in Beijing, China, on Dec. 7, 2011. (Andy Wong/Getty Images) Campbell was the Obama administration’s assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. Currently, Campbell is the Biden administration’s first designated National Security Council coordinator for the Indo-Pacific. WestExec Advisors Secretary of State Antony Blinken was WestExec’s co-founder and managing director; Avril D. Haines, the current director of National Intelligence, was a WestExec principal; Jen Psaki, former Biden White House press secretary, and Eli Ratner, current assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, were WestExec senior advisers. Ben Weingarten’s Newsweek exposé provides more details on the current administration’s connections to the CCP. In early March 2022, a group of former administration officials visited Taiwan to deliver a message endorsing the Biden administration’s “asymmetric warfare strategy” or “little porcupine strategy” to President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration, including Flournoy and former National Security Council senior directors for Asia Mike Green and Evan Medeiros. Why did Washington send people who are not part of the current administration to deliver an important message to Taiwan? President Joe Biden could have sent a current assistant secretary of defense or state. Consider how Tsai felt when she had to swallow her pride and pretend she was grateful for this after-thought hodge-podge crew thrown at her because the Biden administration was embarrassed by former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s visit to Taiwan later that same week.  ‘Asymmetric’ Weapons for Taiwan In 2020, Mike Green and Evan Medeiros co-wrote an article in Foreign Affairs arguing that Taiwan should not buy expensive weapon systems. They argued: “These [weapons] do little to deter a combined naval, air, and missile campaign from China—and the PLA will always be bigger and better equipped than Taiwan’s army in a ground battle. Rather, the United States should work with Taiwan to develop asymmetric military capabilities that would actually stand a chance of deterring a Chinese invasion or attacks on critical infrastructure.” The weaknesses of the asymmetric weapons strategy was well documented by this author’s recent two articles in Taiwan News. Absent a guarantee that the U.S. military would intervene in an invasion of Taiwan by the PLA, the U.S. government is asking the Taiwanese to commit national suicide. The asymmetric military capabilities proposed by these “advisers” do not “deter” a Chinese invasion or attacks on critical infrastructure. By allowing Taiwan to only purchase these asymmetric weapons at the exclusion of others needed to address at least four other attack scenarios makes Taiwan more vulnerable. All five attack scenarios are decapitation (missile and air strikes), naval and air blockade/embargo, invasion, border operations (quickly taking Taiwan’s small islands), and all-out regional war. What Is the War Game’s Message to the US Population? The CNAS war game had several subtle messages that corrupt the U.S. popular support for Taiwan, such as the following: The United States should not be involved in a long and bloody war against the CCP/PLA (remember Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam). The United States will not send troops and promotes the idea that the Taiwanese can defend themselves using asymmetric weapons (same as Ukraine). What Is the Message to the Taiwanese Population? The war game’s message to the Taiwanese population is the following: The PLA will destroy Taiwan’s expensive weapons during an invasion. Taiwan should purchase only “asymmetric weapons” (no weapons that can reach China). The United States will sell Taiwan weapons to defend itself against an invasion. These weapons will support a guerrilla operation against the PLA. These asymmetric weapons will not prevent the PLA from other attack scenarios such as an air and naval embargo or air and missile strikes. Taiwan is not a state, and Taiwan does not deserve weapons that other countries have, such as Israel. Taiwan “only” deserves weapons that non-state actors have (guerrillas or terrorists). If the people of Taiwan are brave enough to fight against annexation by a genocidal and totalitarian regime, they will lose. The PLA has more people and more weapons. The United States is not serious about helping Taiwan defend itself and will refuse to commit to assisting in a war. So just give up now. What Is the Message to the CCP and the PLA? The war game’s scenario hid the following messages: Diminish American popular support to fight against the PLA. “Asymmetric warfare” policy would not threaten the Chinese landmass. Deterrence is not only defensive (attacking forces invading the island); deterrence is also offensive (striking targets inside China). Conceding the option of putting marauding invaders at risk on their home soil before they set foot on the soil of a democracy is a prescription for failure, as demonstrated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Taiwan should surrender rather than fight because the PLA is destined to win. The CCP’s Goal Regarding Taiwan A CCP “core interest” (核心利益), the equivalent of U.S. vital interest, is to absorb Taiwan into China. The CCP views Taiwan’s political independence as an issue of “state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and national reunification,” which is more important to the CCP than economic stability. Helping Xi Jinping accomplish this goal would make any person or country a friend. The CNAS war game conducts psychological warfare in support of the CCP and against Americans and Taiwanese by positing that American military support for Taiwan is destined to fail. Psychological warfare “seeks to influence and/or disrupt an opponent’s decision-making capability, to create doubts, foment anti-leadership sentiments, to deceive opponents and to attempt to diminish the will to fight among opponents,” according to a report by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Media warfare is “a constant, ongoing activity aimed at long-term influence of perceptions and attitudes,” according to The Heritage Foundation. Taiwan represents a new democracy that opposes the despotic rule of the CCP and demonstrates that Chinese people can successfully (economically and politically) have a self-ruled democratic society with Chinese characteristics. Worst Case Scenario: If the CCP Takes Taiwan If the PLA took Taiwan, the CCP would threaten U.S. alliance partners Japan and South Korea militarily, politically, and economically. A declassified CIA report addresses the economic threat; the Senkaku Islands are near a large oil reservoir discovered in 1968. Japan’s Senkaku Islands, claimed by the CCP (since 1970), are easily within reach (about 100 hundred miles north of Taiwan—see map here). A P-3C maritime patrol aircraft of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on Oct. 13, 2011. (Japan Pool/AFP/Getty Images) The PLA would conduct a military buildup throughout Taiwan to project force from the first island chain to the second and beyond. For example, the east side of Taiwan, with its very deep-water access, is the perfect location for the PLA to build nuclear submarine bases for its nuclear attack and its nuclear-armed submarines. These submarine ports would make it difficult for the United States and its allies to track the location of these submarines, providing China with a greater deterrence capability against the United States. In other words, the CCP conquest of Taiwan would place China in a dominating position in the Pacific Ocean and embolden the CCP to consider other expansionist actions to “rectify” other claims it has in the Pacific, such as the “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea, Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, and Okinawa. The loss of Taiwan would be a worse situation for the United States and its allies than the embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan. Taiwan’s loss to the CCP would be another example of America’s retreat from seeking to support and maintain global norms and rules. The CCP would force these Asian countries into making dangerous compromises that could place them behind a new “bamboo curtain” with Chinese communist characteristics. US Responsibility The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) states: “That any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, is considered a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States. “That the United States shall provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and shall maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan.” The TRA asserts a U.S. responsibility to defend Taiwan from PLA attacks. The Biden administration should stand up to the CCP and re-assert the U.S. support for Taiwan’s defense, and conduct a massive arming of Taiwan along with training that enables the full power of joint and combined military operations (air, ground, sea, subsurface, space, cyber, and special operations)—with the assurance that the United States will fight to ensure democracy for the people of Taiwan. The training should not focus solely on tactical training of ground forces using “asymmetric weapons” as the United States did in Ukraine. Instead, the United States should train the Taiwan military so that it can participate in the type of combined and joint operations used to free Kuwait from Iraqi forces in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Flournoy and the CNAS are furthering the CCP’s political warfare against Taiwan by sending messages through the war game while also reinforcing the Biden administration’s desire to weaken Taiwan through its “asymmetric weapons” strategy. These manipulations of the American and Taiwanese populations must stop. If the U.S. government protected a non-democratic nation (Kuwait) against Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian regime (Iraq) in 1991, then why wouldn’t the United States protect a democratic nation (Taiwan) against another authoritarian regime (the CCP)? If the United States pretends to intervene but fails to stop the PLA, the result would be disastrous for Asia and the entire world. Tyler Durden Tue, 06/07/2022 - 23:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 7th, 2022

Labour accuses Conservatives of resorting to "lawfare" to shut down questions about 6-figure donation from Ehud Sheleg

Stephen Kinnock, a senior Labour MP, said Brandon Lewis threatened a libel lawsuit rather than respond to his "legitimate questions." Stephen Kinnock claims he was silenced by a minister resorting to 'lawfare'Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images Labour raised questions about a donation from Ehud Sheleg traced to his pro-Kremlin father-in-law. Stephen Kinnock MP said a minister threatened a libel suit over his "legitimate questions" about it. Anneliese Dodds MP called for the minister to apologise, and for officials to investigate. Labour accused the Conservatives of using "lawfare tactics" to shut down questions about a six-figure donation that has since been traced to a pro-Kremlin former politician from Ukraine.Last week, The New York Times reported that the Conservative Party accepted more than £450,000, purportedly from the millionaire art dealer and former Tory treasurer Ehud Sheleg. But documents filed with the National Crime Agency suggest the money originated from the Russian account of Sheleg's father-in-law, Sergei Kopytov."We are able to trace a clear line back from this donation to its ultimate source," Barclays bank wrote in a January 2021 alert to the UK's law enforcement body, according to The Times report.As a result Anneliese Dodds, chair of the Labour party, wrote to her Conservative counterpart Oliver Dowden asking him to launch an urgent investigation into the matter.  Sheleg has donated £3.7 million to the Conservative Party since 2010. He also donated £10,000 to current Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis. Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Dodds noted that her colleague Stephen Kinnock had written to Lewis back in 2019 regarding the affair, which had been reported in Private Eye. Lewis, then the Conservative party chair, wrote back to Kinnock saying he should "consider any accusations you are making against an individual carefully so as not to risk libel."Letter from Brandon Lewis to Stephen Kinnock, dated March 2019Stephen KinnockDodds told MPs this carried with it "the implication that legal action would be forthcoming should my honourable friend pursue his genuine concerns."She called for Lewis to apologise to Kinnock, as well as to respond to his original query. Speaking after the debate, Kinnock said: "We know that London has become a laundromat for dirty Russian money – and it is deeply concerning that the same might be true of the Conservative Party."The decision by Barclays Bank to red-flag Ehud Sheleg to the National Crime Agency following his huge donation to the Conservatives makes it clear that the party has serious questions to answer about Mr. Sheleg's financial contributions, and his role as Treasurer."What is utterly staggering is that when I posed legitimate questions about Mr. Sheleg to the Chair of the Conservative Party in 2019, Brandon Lewis, rather than conduct an investigation he instead threatened to sue me for libel – using the very same 'lawfare' tactics that Russian oligarchs have been using to prevent important scrutiny of their financial affairs. "Aside from the obvious security concerns, it is also important that the Electoral Commission urgently investigates potential breaches of electoral law."Dodds also asked a series of questions about Sheleg, including whether he hosted a reception with the Russian ambassador to the UK following Russia's annexation of Crimea, and whether electoral law has been broken "and relatedly has our national security been compromised". Neither the Conservative Party nor Lewis's office responded to requests for comment.A spokesman for Sheleg told Insider: "The NYT's allegations are a fabrication and Ms. Dodds has unfortunately been sucked in by the paper's outrageous distortion."The facts are that Mr. Kopytov, Sir Ehud's father-in-law, is a Ukrainian victim and is no Putin 'ally.' He is currently a refugee in the Czech Republic, having lost his job as a senior civil servant when the Russians annexed Crimea in 2014 and more recently he has had his Crimean assets put on the Russian 'nationalising' list."Mr. Kopytov has not made a donation to the Conservative Party, whether through Sir Ehud or by any other means. It's completely untrue. The whole agenda-driven story is deeply offensive to Sir Ehud and his family, particularly given the unjustified war in Ukraine."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

Russia"s failures in Ukraine have dented the "elite" status of its paratrooper force

The Russian military's elite airborne force, the VDV, has been at the center of Moscow's offensive against Ukraine. Russian paratroopers in the Kyiv region, March 2022.Russian Ministry of Defense/Mil.ru Russia's elite airborne force, the VDV, has been at the center of Moscow's offensive against Ukraine. The VDV has struggled in Ukraine, where fighting has taken a high toll in lives and damaged the unit's reputation. The Russian military's struggles in Ukraine have seriously dented its reputation.Despite having qualitative and quantitative advantages, the Russians have failed to achieve their primary objectives, forcing the Kremlin to backtrack and change its strategic goals in the war.The Russian military's elite airborne force, the VDV, was at the center of the invasion that kicked off on February 24, and its paratroopers have suffered heavy losses in several high-profile failures during the campaign.One unit within the VDV, the 331st Guards Parachute Regiment, is considered elite in its own right and has taken heavy losses in Ukraine, including its commander, Col. Sergei Sukharev, who was killed in mid-March.An airfield too farRussian paratroopers at the Hostomel Airport in Ukraine, March 12, 2022.Russian Ministry of Defense/Mil.ruThe Russian plan focused on acting with speed, surprise, and violence. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his advisers envisioned a war that lasted 48 to 72 hours, captured key Ukrainian urban centers, including Kyiv, and toppled the Ukrainian government.Airborne forces are ideal for such contingencies, as they are trained and equipped to fight with speed, surprise, and aggression. Russian military commanders naturally turned to their VDV airborne forces to play a key part in the invasion of Ukraine.One of the main Russian targets in the initial hours of the invasion was the Antonov airport near the Ukrainian town of Hostomel, about 20 miles from Kyiv. VDV paratroopers conducted an air assault on the airport using about 30 helicopters.At first, they were able to capture it, but it was a short-lived victory, as a Ukrainian counterattack by special-operations forces and conventional troops retook the airfield.Damaged buildings and fuel tanks on fire at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, Ukraine, March 11, 2022Maxar Technologies via Getty ImagesThe goal of the attacking force in airborne operations, such as airfield seizures, is to expand the perimeter, or "airhead," so that the defending force can't hit the airfield with artillery, rockets, and other indirect-fire weapons, a former Green Beret officer who served in the 82nd Airborne Division told Insider."By doing so, you allow airfield ops to continue and reinforcements to pour in," said the former officer, who requested anonymity because they still work with the US government."Failing to expand the airhead in the initial hours of an airfield seizure welcomes disaster. You could use it as a feint to distract the enemy and take his attention from another part of the battle space, but it would also mean you are sacrificing the airborne force, which, by the way, are some of your more competent units," the former Green Beret said. "Is the risk and loss worth it? That's up to commander and operational situation to determine."During the Hostomel attack, it seems that the Russian VDV forces failed to expand the airhead. They got stuck on the airfield and were unable to push out and keep Ukrainian forces from getting near the airstrip.Russian paratroopers in an armored vehicle at a checkpoint in the Kyiv region, March 2022.Russian Ministry of Defense/Mil.ruMoreover, the Ukrainian defenders anticipated a Russian attempt to seize the airfield and had placed obstacles, such as buses and tractors, on the runways to prevent Russian transport aircraft from reinforcing the initial wave of VDV forces.Russian commanders also failed to reinforce the paratroopers on the ground with additional helicopter-borne forces — a complete failure of doctrine.VDV forces, which are distinguished by the "V" marks on their vehicles, have been involved in several other failures, suffering heavy losses throughout the invasion.In one case in early March, an entire VDV mechanized patrol was ambushed and destroyed by Ukrainian special operators in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin.The 331st Guards Parachute Regiment was involved in fighting around Kyiv and estimates of its losses range from 39 troops, as tallied by the BBC, to about 100, according to residents of the community where the unit is based.Russian vs. US airborne forcesRussian President Dmitry Medvedev and Airborne Troops commander Vladimir Shamanov, third from right, meet Airborne soldiers in Novorossiysk, Russia, July 14, 2009.VLADIMIR RODIONOV/AFP via Getty ImagesDistinguished by its troops' white-and-blue striped shirts, called telnyashkas, and their blue berets, the VDV is an elite organization within the Russian armed forces.It's a distinct branch of the Russian military and is considered Moscow's strategic reserve. When a contingency appears, the VDV is there. During the recent upheaval in Kazakhstan, the VDV was one of the first Russian forces that was sent in, acting as what Moscow called peacekeepers.The VDV's size and doctrinal role differentiates it from airborne units in the US and other Western militaries.In 2015, the commander of Russia's airborne troops, Colonel-Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, said that force would grow to 60,000 paratroopers in the years ahead. Those forces are divided into several divisions and brigades.In comparison, the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division has less than 20,000 paratroopers. The 82nd Airborne is the US military's only dedicated paratrooper unit, though other units, like the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment, conduct airborne operations.A US Army Special Forces soldier helps a Russian paratrooper with a parachute before a joint exercise in Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 28, 1998.US Army/Spc. Michelle LabrielThe doctrinal role of Russian airborne forces is also distinct from that of their US counterparts. Both formations are rapid-response forces designed to strike fast and capture key objectives, but VDV forces are far more mechanized than US airborne units.Russian VDV units sport tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers, and they use them often. During fighting in Ukraine, the VDV has lost T-72B tanks and BMD-2 infantry fighting vehicles, among other vehicles.US paratroopers have some mechanized capabilities — like the LAV-25, a wheeled all-terrain armored infantry fighting vehicle — but nowhere near what their Russian counterparts have.VDV units are also designed to be more independent than their Western counterparts.For example, in a conventional near-peer conflict, after seizing a target, the 82nd Airborne Division would rely on mechanized ground reinforcements to relieve them. As the VDV has an organic mechanized capability, it wouldn't rely on other units to relieve them after seizing their objective.Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 3rd, 2022

Putin"s Ukraine playbook is familiar — he used it in Syria

Putin's playbook in Syria and now in Ukraine includes: bombing hospitals, a disinformation campaign, and exploiting fear of a deadlier outcome. Mariana Vishegirskaya stands outside a maternity hospital that was damaged by Russian shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 9, 2022. Vishegirskaya survived the shelling and later gave birth to a girl in another hospital in Mariupol.Mstyslav Chernov/AP Photo Putin perfected his Ukraine playbook during his years-long bombardment of Syrian civilians.  It includes bombing hospitals, a disinformation campaign, and exploiting fear of a deadlier outcome.  Syrian activists, speaking from experience, have warned Ukrainians not to share hospital locations. Over a few weeks in the fall of 2016, Russia and its allies bombed Al-Sakhour Hospital in Aleppo, Syria at least four times. After an international outcry, a Russian general held a press conference to insist that photos, videos, and eyewitness statements documenting air strikes by the Russian military were "plain forgeries." He provided his own satellite photos of the area, which he offered as proof that the destroyed hospital was in fact relatively unscathed.The world is now watching a similar strategy play out in Ukraine. On March 9, Russian warplanes bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol, a port city in southern Ukraine that has been besieged by Russian forces for more than two weeks. The airstrike initially killed at least three people, and injured 17 patients and staff. A pregnant woman who was carried out of the hospital on a stretcher, in a scene of post-apocalyptic devastation captured by an Associated Press photographer that went viral, died a few days later, along with her child. The Russian defense ministry denied bombing the hospital, and accused Ukraine of staging the attack to garner international sympathy.This is the playbook that Russia has used since sending troops to Syria in the fall of 2015 to prop up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:Bombing hospitals and other civilian infrastructure as a form of collective punishment — and then claiming these were "false flag" operations orchestrated by the other side. Launching a disinformation campaign to spread confusion and undermine independent reporting and first-hand accounts.  Claiming that Western powers getting in your way could lead to a far deadlier outcome — like the spread of ISIS, in Syria, or the threat of a European-wide (possibly nuclear) war in the case of Ukraine. Now, we're seeing President Vladimir Putin deploy these tactics again in Ukraine, although this time he's been met with greater resistance, and skepticism. Unlike Syria, Russia's military onslaught in Ukraine has outraged much of the world and led the European Union and the United States to impose severe sanctions on Russia within days of the invasion.Top, a photo from March 14, 2022 shows a man near an apartment building hit by a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine. Below, a photo from November 16, 2016 of a destroyed building after airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria.Photo by Emin Sansar and Jawad al Rifai/Anadolu Agency / Getty ImagesUnlike Syria, Russia's military onslaught in Ukraine has outraged much of the world and led the European Union and the United States to impose severe sanctions on Russia within days of the invasion. Putin also underestimated Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who has  effectively used digital tools to win the information war and plead for international support and weapons. Zelensky, a former TV star turned president, is seemingly everywhere in his green t-shirt and half-zipped fleece: imploring Congress for more advanced weapons over Zoom; shooting selfie videos on the streets of Kyiv; and even taunting Putin into meeting face-to-face."Sit down with me to negotiate, just not at 30 meters," Zelensky said on March 3, taking a jab at Putin's tendency to meet with foreign leaders at the end of an extremely long table. "I don't bite. What are you afraid of?"Zelensky is creating a new political style, as an everyday hero standing up to a far more powerful bully. That David-versus-Goliath narrative resonates in the West. But in Syria, Putin and Assad did not have to deal with anyone like Zelensky, who could galvanize international support.Civilian misery as a tactic of warPopular protests that swept the Arab world in late 2010, and became known as the "Arab Spring," reached Syria in March 2011. Assad, a London-educated ophthalmologist who inherited power from his father, watched the initial response to protests in Tunisia and Egypt, and concluded that those countries' rulers appeared weak by not cracking down forcefully. When his own people revolted, Assad decided to crush the uprising. At first, he relied on his own military and security forces, and the support of two longtime allies: Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. People holding pictures of victims of the airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, gather during a rally outside the Russian Consulate in Istanbul, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. The group, including prominent Syrian opposition figures, chanted Syrian songs and slogans denouncing a Syrian government forces' bombing campaign that has targeted hospitals, apartment blocks and other civilian sites.Lefteris Pitarakis/AP PhotoBut Assad kept losing ground to rebels and the Syrian conflict soon turned into a proxy war that involved regional and world powers, including Russia and Iran — which supported Assad — and the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, which sent weapons and money to rebel groups trying to topple Assad's regime. (By 2015, the CIA was funneling up to $1 billion a year in anti-tank missiles, light arms, and other weapons to Syrian rebel groups.)In September 2015, Putin deployed the Russian air force and special forces troops to help Assad, who had lost control of major parts of Syria. Putin's military used overwhelming air power and artillery: it assaulted densely populated areas and destroyed infrastructure to make life as miserable as possible for civilians. Russian warplanes bombed hospitals, schools, electrical and water plants, and bakeries where civilians were lined up to get bread. The Syrian Network for Human Rights found that more than 170 bakeries were bombed during 10 years of war — the vast majority by Syrian and Russian forces trying to create a food crisis as they recaptured rebel-held areas. The Russian military also helped Syrian troops lay siege to urban populations, blocking access to food and medicine. The brutal sieges of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, and suburbs of the capital, Damascus, combined with punishing air raids and artillery bombardment, forced tens of thousands of people to surrender and leave their homes.In December 2016, with intensive Russian air strikes and Iranian ground support, Assad recaptured the rebel-held sections of Aleppo. It marked a turning point for his regime's survival. Human rights groups documented the Russian-Syrian assault on Aleppo and concluded that it amounted to war crimes. "Airstrikes often appeared to be recklessly indiscriminate, deliberately targeted at least one medical facility, and included the use of indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions and incendiary weapons," Human Rights Watch concluded after Assad regained full control of Aleppo.Those reports eerily echo the Russian military's current tactics in Ukraine. Human rights groups, Western leaders and United Nations officials all say that Russia has committed war crimes by bombing hospitals, schools, nurseries, bread lines, and residential buildings in multiple Ukrainian cities. There's growing evidence that Russia is targeting civilians who are trying to escape, using cluster bombs and thermobaric rockets, which suck up oxygen to create massive explosions. President Joe Biden called Putin a "war criminal" on March 16, the day that Zelensky spoke to Congress, after top US officials avoided using the term for weeks.A man walks through rubble in Ariha, Syria, on Jan. 30, 2020. The attack, believed to have been carried out by Russian warplanes backing a Syrian government offensive, also put a local hospital out of service, opposition activists and a rescue service said.Ghaith Alsayed/AP PhotoIn Syria, the Assad regime and Russian forces especially targeted hospitals as a way to pressure rebels and drive civilians out of population centers. Physicians for Human Rights, an independent monitoring group, has documented more than 600 attacks on at least 350 separate health facilities from March 2011 through February 2022. (The attacks led to the killing of 942 medical workers.) The group found that 90 percent of these attacks were committed by the Syrian regime and its allies—and that the highest number of attacks took place in 2015 and 2016, at the height of Russia's intervention. Intentionally bombing hospitals is a war crime under international law.In 2019, there was another spate of attacks on hospitals in the rebel-held Idlib Province, one of the last territories that is not under the Syrian regime's control. A New York Times investigation found that the Russian air force had bombed four hospitals during a 12-hour period in May 2019. It later turned out that Russian and Syrian forces were bombing hospitals and clinics that had shared their GPS coordinates through a UN list meant to prevent such attacks.The attacks on hospitals have been so brazen that Syrian activists are now warning Ukrainians not to share GPS locations of medical facilities with the UN. "In Syria the Russians used that information to target hospitals," Raed Al Saleh, head of the White Helmets, a Syrian volunteer civil defense group, wrote in a message this week to mark the 11th anniversary of the Syrian uprising. "Ukrainians should also establish small medical and civil defense outposts in secret locations around the city to take the pressure off larger hospitals and mitigate the risk of targeting first responders."Your lying eyes All the while, Russia also used disinformation campaigns, especially on social media, to claim that its targeting of Syria's hospitals, bakeries and residential buildings were fabrications — waving away evidence that Syria and Russian troops carried out the vast majority of these attacks on civilian infrastructure.The White Helmets, which rescued thousands of civilians from the aftermath of Russian and Syrian air strikes in opposition-held territory, were victims of one of the most pernicious disinformation campaigns organized by Russia during the Syrian war. The campaign portrayed the group, which received Western funding, as terrorists linked to Al Qaeda or part of a CIA conspiracy. In 2018, Bellingcat, a British-based research group, documented more than 20 bogus accusations that the White Helmets had been involved in chemical attacks on Syrian soil.Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.Evgeniy Maloletka/APRussia's sophisticated disinformation campaigns in Syria often warned of "false flag" chemical attacks by rebels that would provoke the West to confront the Assad regime. These campaigns served two purposes, which are being repeated in Ukraine: to muddy the waters of which side is responsible for war crimes and to sow doubt in worldwide public opinion. (Russia also managed to cast doubt on the Syrian regime's repeated use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs against civilians.)So far, Russia is having less success in its disinformation warfare in Ukraine, but that could change as the war grinds on. When Putin first announced his invasion on February 24, he invoked World War II and claimed he would "denazify" Ukraine. Putin tried to conflate Ukrainian nationalism with fascism, and to connect Zelensky's government with extremist and neo-Nazi groups. But the strategy quickly backfired as many in the West dismissed the comparison and historians signed a letter denouncing Russia's "cynical abuse of the term genocide, the memory of World War II and the Holocaust, and the equation of the Ukrainian state with the Nazi regime to justify its unprovoked aggression." Many have also pointed out that Zelensky is Jewish and lost several relatives in the Holocaust.Things could get worse Putin's clumsy attempt to portray his invasion of Ukraine as a campaign to fight extremism also has its roots in the Syria war. There, Putin played off the West's fears of terrorism and a flood of refugees from a predominately Muslim country.A Russian military police officer stands guard at the border crossing point of Jdedeh Yabous, Syria, in 2018.Sergei Grits/AP PhotoFor the most part, Western powers stood by as the carnage in Syria unfolded. Europe and the United States were mainly worried about the rise of ISIS, which had swept through Syria and Iraq in 2014. Putin and Assad convinced the West that they would help contain the militants and keep them from reaching the heart of Europe. The two strongmen succeeded in portraying themselves as the lesser evil — compared to ISIS and other jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda — even as the Syrian and Russian militaries were causing more death and destruction than the militants. By the time Donald Trump took office in January 2017, Washington shifted its focus to fighting ISIS rather than ousting the Syrian regime. Russia and its allies, meanwhile, were mainly targeting rebel factions opposed to Assad, rather than trying to defeat ISIS.In Syria, and now in Ukraine, Putin seems to have calculated that the West would protest, but it would not respond to his military intervention with force. In Ukraine, he has constantly reminded the United States and Europe that intervention carries the risk of instigating a third World War or a nuclear crisis. Days after his troops began marching into Ukraine, Putin declared he had put Russia's nuclear arsenal into "special combat readiness," evoking memories of the Cold War. Biden decided not to match the move.Eight years into Russia's intervention in Syria, Putin has emerged emboldened. He figured he could attack, besiege, and starve civilians — and lie about it with impunity, while convincing Western adversaries that a worse scenario was being averted. That strategy has worked for him in Syria. And he's already using the old playbook in Ukraine on an even larger scale. Mohamad Bazzi (@BazziNYU) is a journalism professor and director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University. He is a non-resident fellow at Democracy for the Arab World Now, and the former Middle East bureau chief at Newsday.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 18th, 2022

Live updates: Russia advances towards Kyiv, Ukrainian death toll passes 137 as official predicts "hardest day"

Russia began its attack on Ukraine on Thursday morning. One official warned Friday would be the "hardest day." Ukrainian servicemen walk by fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv on February 25, 2022.AP Photo/Oleksandr Ratushniak Russia continued its attack on Ukraine on Friday, advancing toward the capital, Kyiv. One Ukrainian official warned Friday would be the "hardest day" and the military issued instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails. 137 Ukrainians were dead as of early Friday morning. The death toll has since risen. Recap: Ukraine says 137 people died on Thursday alone. The death toll has since risen.A building hit by a missile in Kyiv, Ukraine, seen on February 25, 2022.Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesUkrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky said that 137 people, including 10 military officers, had been killed and 316 were wounded on Thursday.He did not say how many were civilians, but Ukrainian officials have confirmed that civilians were killed.There were more deaths reported on Friday, though the exact number is not clear.Zelensky said that "people died" in heavy fighting on Friday, but did not say now many or what country they were from.One of Zelensky's advisors said that around 400 Russian soldiers had died as of Friday, the Associated Press reported. Russia has not given a death toll.Ukraine says radiation levels around Chernobyl are increasing after Russia captured itView of the Chernobyl nuclear power on April 26, 1986, after the explosion.Photo by SHONE/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty ImagesUkraine said on Friday that the radiation levels around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site were increasing, though Russia said on Thursday that they were still normal.Ukrainian officials said that Russian troops seized the remnants of the nuclear plant on Thursday.Experts from Ukraine's nuclear agency told Reuters that the radiation increase was caused by radioactive dust being kicked up into the air by heavy military equipment there.Read Full Story Russian foreign minister says his country will talk to Ukraine once it stops fighting, doubles down on claim it wants 'de-Nazification'Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in January 2022.Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty ImagesSergei Lavrov said on Friday that Russia will only talk to Ukraine if its troops stop fighting, adding: "We do not want Neo-Nazis to rule Ukraine."He was repeating Russia's baseless claim that its attack on Ukraine was motivated by Nazism in Ukraine.Ukraine's president is a Jewish man whose native language is Russian. He came into office after a democratic election.Russia has previously tried to justify its attack by claiming it wanted to prevent a "genocide" in Ukraine and to achieve the "de-Nazification" of the country. Kyiv mayor and former heavyweight boxing champion says he'll fight for UkraineWladimir and Vitali Klitschko.Getty/Richard HeathcoteUkrainian boxing icons Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko said they would take up arms to defend Ukraine against Russia.Vitali, who has also been the mayor of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, since 2014, said he was ready to fight in a "bloody war.""I don't have another choice, I have to do that. I'll be fighting," he told ITV's Good Morning Britain on Friday. "I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country and I believe in my people."Wladimir wrote in a LinkedIn post on Thursday: "Democracy cannot defend itself; it needs the will of the citizens, the commitment of everyone.""Here, we will defend ourselves with all our might and fight for freedom and democracy. You can also act. Let not fear seize us; let's not remain frozen."Read Full StoryUkraine official predicts 'hardest day' as Russia advances on KyivPeople rest in the Kyiv subway, using it as a bomb shelter on Thursday.AP Photo/Emilio MorenattiUkraine Interior Ministry advisor Anton Gerashenko said on Friday: "The hardest day will be today. The enemy's plan is to break through with tanks from Ivankiv and Chernihiv to Kyiv."Ukraine has been 'left alone' to defend itself from Russia, president saysUkrainian servicemen walk by fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv on February 25, 2022.AP Photo/Oleksandr RatushniakVolodomyr Zelensky said in an early Friday speech that Ukraine was not getting help on the ground, saying: "We are left alone in defense of our state.""Who is ready to fight with us? Honestly — I do not see such. Who is ready to guarantee Ukraine's accession to NATO? Honestly, everyone is afraid."Many nations have condemned Russia and sent weapons to Ukraine. But they have not sent troops, and NATO and the US have said they won't do so.Zelensky also praised the people of Ukraine in his speech, saying: "You are brilliantly defending the country from one of the most powerful countries in the world."Read Full Story Ukraine posts instructions for making Molotov cocktails and asks people who own drones for helpThe post below, from Ukraine's national guard, contained instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails to use against Russian troops.—НГУ (@ng_ukraine) February 25, 2022Ukraine's military also posted a Facebook callout on Friday asking for drone owners to help out."Do you know how to drive a drone? Join the joint patrol with units 112 of the separate brigade of the city of Kyiv!" it said.The Champions League final is moved from Russia to FranceGetty Images/Daniele BadolatoEuropean soccer governing body UEFA said Russia has been stripped of the 2022 Champions League final, and that it will now take place in Paris.UEFA said the game being moved comes after "the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe."Read Full StoryRussia 'failed to deliver' its day-one aims for invading Ukraine, UK defense secretary saysUK Secretary for Defence Ben Wallace.Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesBen Wallace told Sky News on Friday: "Our assessment, as of this morning, is that Russia has not taken any of its major objectives,"  "In fact it's behind its hoped-for timetable. They've lost over 450 personnel.""The Russian army has failed to deliver on day one its main objective."He gave the example that Russian special forces had failed to secure a "significant" airport that was once again under Ukrainian control. Read Full Story Ukrainian leaders compare Russia's attack on Kyiv to Nazi Germany's assault in 1941A night view of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city.Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesRussia's attack on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has prompted comparisons to Nazi Germany's assault on the city in 1941.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invoked World War II while speaking directly to the Russian people in a speech Friday morning as explosions were reported over Kyiv."Tonight, you began bombing residential areas in the hero city of Kyiv. This is like 1941. I want to tell all Russian citizens who are coming out to protest: we hear you, you heard us, you started to believe us. Fight for us. Fight the war," Zelensky said.Read Full StoryRussia's richest 22 billionaires lost $39 billion in one day after the invasion of UkraineVladimir Potanin, Russia's richest man, lost $3 billion in one day on Thursday. He is now worth $26.1 billion.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty ImagesRussia's 22 richest individuals saw their net worths plunge by a collective $39 billion in less than 24 hours after their country invaded Ukraine, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.The wealth wipeout came after Moscow's benchmark MOEX Russia Index crashed and closed 33% lower on Thursday.The Russian billionaires lost more money on Thursday than they had lost year-to-date up until Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.Read Full StoryAustralian PM Scott Morrison slams China for throwing a 'lifeline' to RussiaMorrison said that it is "simply unacceptable" for China to ease trade restrictions on Russia when other countries are imposing sanctions.STEVEN SAPHORE/AFP via Getty ImagesAustralian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned China for easing its restrictions on Russian wheat amid the Ukraine crisis, even as other countries impose fresh sanctions on Russia."You don't go and throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they're invading another country," he told reporters at a press conference on Friday morning, per Australia's ABC News. Read Full StoryMitch McConnell has urged Biden to 'ratchet the sanctions all the way up' against RussiaSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged President Joe Biden not to hold back with tough sanctions on Russia.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday advised President Joe Biden to hold nothing back when imposing sanctions on Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine. "We're all together at this point, and we need to be together about what should be done," McConnell said."Ratchet the sanctions all the way up. Don't hold any back," he added. "Every single available tough sanction should be employed and should be employed now." Read Full StoryLarge explosions heard in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital cityA night view of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city, as seen on Thursday.Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesKyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was awakened by explosions in the early hours of Friday morning local time, CNN reported."Strikes on Kyiv with cruise or ballistic missiles continued," Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Ukraine, told CNN Thursday.The outlet also reported multiple bombardments — two blasts in Kyiv and an explosion in the distance. Read Full StoryUkraine is crowdfunding to shore up its defenses against the Russian militarySoldiers seen aboard a Ukrainian tank in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday.REUTERS/Carlos BarriaUkraine is crowdfunding to bolster its armed forces against the Russian invasion.In a tweet on Thursday, the official Twitter account of Ukraine called for donations and provided a link to the country's official website.Collected funds will be used for the "logistical and medical support" of the Ukrainian armed forces, said the webpage, which is operated by Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ukrainian Institution.Read Full Story5 reasons Putin and others have given for the invasionRussian President Vladimir Putin claims the Ukraine invasion is aimed at preventing the "genocide" of ethnic Russians in the country.Photo by Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty ImagesRussian forces attacked Ukraine early Thursday morning, launching a large-scale and unprovoked invasion that was feared for weeks.Here are some reasons Russian President Vladimir Putin has given for why Russia invaded Ukraine — some of which are based on falsehoods — along with what the US and NATO have said about his motivations.Read Full StoryThe Biden administration is considering training Ukrainian soldiers in an outside country, according to AxiosUkrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine on January 20, 2022.Wolfgang Schwan/Getty ImagesAs Russian forces enclose on Ukraine's capital Kyiv, the Biden administration is eyeing its next steps in the ongoing conflict.Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told House lawmakers on Thursday that the US government is considering possible ways to train Ukrainian troops outside of Ukraine, should Russia seize control of the country, according to Axios.Austin reportedly told lawmakers that officials are trying to find ways to provide more defense equipment, including ammunition to Ukrainian forces — a feat made more challenging as Russian forces assault the country.The secretary also told House members that the Biden administration will continue to support Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's government as long as it is "viable," the outlet reported.Ukrainian president announces general mobilization of all conscripts and reservists to last 90 daysUkrainian soldiers sit on top of a military vehicle parked outside the hotel in Prypiat, Ukraine on February 4.Volodymyr Tarasov/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty ImageUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday ordered a general military mobilization throughout the country as Russia continues its large-scale military assault in Ukraine. The declaration ordered the conscription of conscripts and reservists for military service, as well as their delivery to military units and institutions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in order to "ensure the defense of the state." The mobilization, which included all of Ukraine's major cities, will be carried out within 90 days, the decree said. It will provide personnel, vehicles, infrastructure, and land use for the Ukrainian government and military amid Russia's ongoing invasion, according to the decree. Ukraine has also banned all male citizens ages 18-60 from leaving the country, according to CNN, which cited the State Border Guard Service. READ FULL STORYZelensky says 'enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv' and that he is 'number one target'Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a statement during the 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 19, 2022 in Munich, Germany.Photo by Ronald Wittek - Pool/Getty ImagesIn his second video address on Thursday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said that "enemy sabotage groups" entered Kyiv, and that he plans to remain, despite being Russia's "number one target.""According to preliminary data, unfortunately, we have lost 137 of our heroes today — our citizens. Ten of them are officers," Zelensky said in his address. "316 are wounded."He also used the opportunity to dispel rumors that he had fled Kyiv, and that his family had left the country."I stay in the capital, I stay with my people. During the day, I held dozens of international talks, directly managed our country. And I will stay in the capital," he said. "My family is also in Ukraine. My children are also in Ukraine. My family is not traitors. They are the citizens of Ukraine. But I have no right to say where they are now."READ FULL STORYWhite House is 'outraged' over reports that staff at Chernobyl have been taken hostage by Russian forcesServicemen take part in a joint tactical and special exercises of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ukrainian National Guard and Ministry Emergency in a ghost city of Pripyat, near Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on February 4, 2022.Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty ImagesPress secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is outraged over reports from Ukrainian officials that staff at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine have been taken hostage by Russian troops.Russian forces took over the remnants of Chernobyl earlier on Thursday during the country's invasion of Ukraine. The move indicated Russia is likely to assault Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv, which is located just south of Chernobyl, the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history."We're outraged by credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facility hostage," Psaki said during a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, adding "we condemn it and we request their release."Psaki said the situation at Chernobyl was not clear but that the hostage taking was "incredibly alarming and greatly concerning," adding it could hurt efforts to maintain the facility, which is dangerously contaminated with radioactivity as a result of the 1986 nuclear disaster.read full STORYUS secretary of state is 'convinced' Russia will try to overthrow the Ukrainian governmentUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on April 11, 2021.Meet The Press/NBCUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said he is "convinced" Moscow will try to overthrow Ukraine's government."You don't need intelligence to tell you that that's exactly what President Putin wants. He has made clear he'd like to reconstitute the Soviet Empire, short of that he'd like to reassert a sphere of influence around the neighboring countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc," Blinken said during a national TV interview. The secretary pledged that NATO would intervene before Putin successfully accomplished his ultimate goal."Now, when it comes to a threat beyond Ukraine's borders. There's something very powerful standing in his way. That's article five of NATO, an attack on one is an attack on all," the top diplomat said.  Expert says Russia's Ukraine invasion will result in 'horrific scenes,' could be launch of 'Cold War 2.0'Ukrainians gather in front of the White House in Washington, USA to stage a protest against Russia's attack in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.Yasin Öztürk/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesA former aide to President Barack Obama is warning that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a "game changer" in international relations that will result in "horrific scenes" in the coming days, with President Vladimir Putin intent on pursuing regime change at all costs."I think it's just a matter of time before Kyiv falls," Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who also served on the National Security Council in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, told Insider.READ FULL STORYThe White House says it's ready to accept Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasionWhite House press secretary Jen Psaki.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe US is prepared to accept Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia's invasion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN."We are," Psaki said when asked whether the US was ready to assist fleeing Ukrainians. "But we certainly expect that most if not the majority will want to go to Europe and neighboring countries. So, we are also working with European countries on what the needs are, where there is capacity. Poland, for example, where we are seeing an increasing flow of refugees over the last 24 hours."She added that US officials have been engaging with Europeans on the matter "for some time." Ukrainian and Russian forces have been fighting for hours over a critical airfield just outside KyivUkraine army says battle under way for airbase near Kyiv on February 24, 2022Daniel LEAL / Getty ImagesUkrainian and Russian forces have been fighting for hours over a critical airfield on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city.Russian forces attacked and seized Hostomel (Gostomel) airfield, a cargo airport near Kyiv that is also known as Antonov airport, early Thursday, according to AFP. Ukraine's leadership reportedly vowed to take it back."The enemy paratroopers in Hostomel have been blocked, and troops have received an order to destroy them," Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address.Read Full StoryUkraine's health minister says dozens killed and over 160 injuredBlack smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022.ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty ImagesUkraine's health minister said 57 Ukrainians have been killed and 169 were wounded after Russia attacked on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.Explosions, gunfire, and sirens were reportedly heard in Kyiv on Thursday. Witnesses also described missile blasts in other cities, including Kramatorsk, Dnipro, and Odesa, reports said. Sean Penn is filming a documentary in Ukraine while Russia invadesActor and director Sean Penn attends a press briefing at the Presidential Office in Kyiv, Ukraine February 24, 2022.Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via ReutersSean Penn was spotted in Ukraine on Thursday just after Russia invaded the country. Penn was seen in the front row of a press briefing at the Presidential Office in Kyiv, photos obtained by Reuters show. The actor and director has been working on a documentary about tensions in Ukraine since last year.Read Full StoryUkrainians and Russians are packing ATM lines, prompting fears of what happened in the US during the Great DepressionPeople wait in line at an ATM in Kyiv.DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images.Many Ukrainians who haven't already fled the country as Russia's threat turned into invasion stood in long lines outside of banks and ATMs hoping to take out their funds, Reuters reported on Thursday. Meanwhile in Russia, people are also queuing outside of ATMs trying to get US dollars as its citizens worry their own currency's value will continue to tank, according to the Wall Street Journal. Banks in the capital city of Moscow are running out of money, MSNBC reported. All of this has led to fears of bank runs, which is when people withdraw money en masse because they worry banks will cease to function. That's what happened in the United States during the Great Depression, and it triggered mass unemployment and loan scarcities.  Read Full StoryA top Russian business lobbyist pleaded with Putin to 'demonstrate as much as possible' that Russia wants to remain 'part of the global economy'Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin attend a meeting of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 16, 2017.Sergei Ilnitsky/AP PhotoThe head of one of Russia's biggest business groups urged President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to avoid severe economic pain and remain "part of the global economy" as NATO members ready a harsher salvo of sanctions.Putin held a televised meeting with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs just hours after Russian forces began attacks in Ukraine.The threat of new sanctions was enough for Alexander Shokhin, the business group's president, to raise concerns with Putin about remaining a member of the world economy.The lobbyist urged the president to pad against major economic pain and to ensure conflict in Ukraine doesn't fuel widespread harm to the global financial system."Everything should be done to demonstrate as much as possible that Russia remains part of the global economy and will not provoke, including through some kind of response measures, global negative phenomena on world markets," Shokhin said.Read Full StoryBiden says he'll try to limit what Americans pay at the gas pump as the US slaps Russia with more sanctions: 'This is critical to me'U.S. President Joe Biden answers questions after delivering remarks about Russia's “unprovoked and unjustified" military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden sought to quell fears of another spike in gas prices on Thursday after Russia unleashed a military assault on Ukraine that threatened to upend the global economy.The threat of war in Ukraine in recent weeks has contributed to spiking oil prices, with the benchmark Brent crude oil hitting $100 for the first time since 2014 Wednesday night amid the early stages of Russia's invasion."I know this is hard and Americans are already hurting," he said at a White House address. "I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump."He opened the door to another release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a step the Biden administration also took in November to try and provide relief at the pump.Read Full StoryBiden says Putin's Ukraine invasion will cause a 'complete rupture' in US-Russia relationsPresident Joe Biden listens to questions from reporters while speaking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Washington.Alex Brandon/APPresident Joe Biden on Thursday said Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine will cause a "complete rupture" of US-Russia relations if it continues. Biden condemned Putin and his escalating invasion of Ukraine in a speech from the White House.Biden, who met with G7 members on Thursday morning, also announced a raft of new sanctions against Russia on Thursday."What's the risk that we are watching the beginning of another Cold War, and is there now a complete rupture in US-Russian relations?," a reporter asked Biden following his address. Read Full StoryFamed Russian rapper cancels concerts in protest, saying he can't perform while 'Russian missiles fall on Ukraine'Rapper Oxxxymiron, whose real name is Miron Fyodorov, performs during a concert in support of rapper Husky, whose real name is Dmitry Kuznetsov, in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.AP Photo/Pavel GolovkinA prominent Russian rapper canceled his concert in protest of the Russian invasion on Ukraine, saying he can't perform while "Russian missiles fall on Ukraine."Rapper Oxxxymiron announced via a video posted to his Instagram account that he is postponing "six of my major gigs in Moscow and Saint Petersburg indefinitely," because he said he is "specifically against the war Russia has escalated against the people of Ukraine.""I'm sure you can understand me; I can't entertain you while Russian missiles fall on Ukraine, while Kyiv residents are forced to hide in the basements and subway, and while people are dying," he said.Read Full StoryUS Treasury targets Belarusian support for Russian invasion of UkraineBelarusian President Alexander LukashenkoDmitry Astakhov/Pool/AFP via Getty ImagesIn addition to the second round of sanctions imposed on Russia by the US Thursday, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it is sanctioning 24 Belarusian individuals for their support of the Russian invasion. The sanctions target Belarus's defense sector and financial institutions — two sectors closely tied to Russia.Massive protests erupted in Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg as Russians voice opposition to war in UkraineA demonstrator holding a placard reading "No to war" protests against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in central Saint Petersburg on February 24, 2022.Photo by SERGEI MIKHAILICHENKO/AFP via Getty ImagesMassive protests erupted on Thursday in Russian President Vladimir Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg, as people voiced their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.Videos posted to Twitter show a sea of people gathered in a section of St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, chanting and holding signs to object to Russia's offensive in Ukraine.Russian government forces have threatened to arrest anti-war protesters, who took to the streets after Putin announced military action against Ukraine on Thursday.Read Full StoryPhotos show Russian authorities dragging away protesters opposed to Putin's invasion of UkrainePolice Police detain a demonstrator during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in central Saint Petersburg on February 24, 2022.SERGEI MIKHAILICHENKO/AFP via Getty ImagesAnti-war protesters in Russia quickly took to the streets following Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Some activists were met with hostility by Russian authorities who hauled them away. More than 1,000 anti-war protesters have already been detained in dozens of cities across Russia, according to protest-monitoring group OVD-Info. Russia's Investigative Committee warned citizens not to take part in the "unauthorized" protests "associated with the tense foreign political situation."Read Full StoryBiden slaps 'additional strong sanctions' on Russia as it mounts a large-scale attack on UkrainePresident Joe Biden delivers remarks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the East Room of the White House on February 07, 2022.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the US will impose a second, harsher round of sanctions on Russia following its large-scale invasion of Ukraine.Biden announced that he had authorized "additional strong sanctions" and "new limitations" on what can be exported to Russia."We have purposely designed these sanctions to maximize the long term impact on Russia and minimize the impact on the United States and our allies," Biden said."We will limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen to be part of the global economy," the president said of the sanctions. "We're going to stop the ability to finance and grow the Russian military. We're going to impair their ability to compete in a high-tech 21st-century economy."Read Full StoryA Ukrainian lawmaker broke down in tears and begged the world to 'save our people' from being 'murdered' by Russian forcesUkrainian Parliament member Halyna Yanchenko speaks during a CBS interviewCBS NewsA Ukrainian lawmaker broke down in tears during an interview with CBS News and begged the international community to "save our people" from being "murdered" by Russian forces."I beg you, please save our people. Dozens of people — maybe hundreds of people — might be murdered tonight," Member of Parliament Halyna Yanchenko said as she sobbed during an interview with CBS News on Thursday.  She added: "Please save Ukrainian men, women, and children." Read Full StoryPhotos show Ukrainian families fleeing the Russian invasion amid warnings of a mass refugee crisisPeople wait for trains at a train station as they attempt to evacuate the city on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Overnight, Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with explosions reported in multiple cities and far outside the restive eastern regions held by Russian-backed rebels.Pierre Crom/Getty Images)Ukrainian residents fled their homes after the first day of Russia's full-scale invasion. Train stations were packed with people on the move and roads filled with cars of people leaving the country, with their loved ones and prized possessions in tow.Before the invasion took place, there were warnings of a mass refugee crisis.Read Full StoryRussian government websites — including ones for the Kremlin and the legislature — went dark after cyberattacks target UkraineA night view of Kyiv as the Kyiv mayor declared a curfew from 10pm to 7am on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesMultiple Russian government websites reportedly went down on Thursday after the country launched an attack on Ukraine. NetBlocks, which tracks disruptions and shutdowns, confirmed on Twitter that multiple sites went offline shortly after 8:45 p.m. local time in Moscow.The Kremlin's website and that of the Russian Federal Assembly's lower house — or State Duma — were both down for at least 15 minutes. As of 9 p.m. local time, the State Duma website was since restored. Shortly after 9:10 p.m. local time, the Kremlin's website was also back online.  Read Full StoryPutin had a range of ways to attack Ukraine. He went with the worst-case scenario for the West.A convoy of Russian military vehicles is seen as the vehicles move towards border in Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on February 23, 2022 in Russian border city Rostov.Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesIn the build-up to Russia's assault on Ukraine, analysts and leaders envisioned numerous ways the conflict might play out, from a limited incursion to an all-out invasion.Putin used precision missile strikes and airstrikes, followed shortly later by ground maneuvers, the officials said.Analysts said attacks came from the east, south, and north, a description consistent with reports on the ground and Insider's map of the invasion.All three lines of attack — as per this analysis in The Conversation — had previously been floated as individual possibilities for an invasion.Defense analysts warned that Russia's multipronged attack was full-scale but still in an early phase, with a lot more forces to push into Ukraine to seize key areas or capture its leadership.Putin's overall endgame remains an area of pressing debate.Read Full StoryKey Democratic congressman says the US can't send support to Ukraine quickly enough 'to repel' Russia's invasionRep. Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesRep. Adam Smith, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, ruled out surging supplies into Ukraine as a last-ditch effort to stall Russia's invasion, arguing it's unlikely such support would arrive quickly enough to make a difference."The odd of us being able to do that in a rapid enough fashion to be able to repel the invasion are remote," Smith told CNN on Thursday when asked about a Ukrainian official's request for more equipment. "I don't think it's realistic to think that we can reinforce them enough in the short term to be able to repel the invasion."Read Full StoryPoland, Czech Republic, and Sweden are refusing to play their 2022 World Cup qualifying matches in Russia after it attacked UkraineA protester holds a poster reading "Sanctions against Russia now" during a rally in front of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm on February 24, 2022, after Russia launched military operations in Ukraine.Photo by CLAUDIO BRESCIANI/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty ImagesPoland, Czech Republic, and Sweden said they are refusing to play their upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifying playoff matches in Russia after it attacked Ukraine on Thursday.Based on the latest Russian aggression against Ukraine, "the signatories to this appeal do not consider travelling to Russia and playing football matches there," the three countries said in a joint statement addressed to FIFA's General Secretary Fatma Samoura. The statement continued: "The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations."Read Full StoryRussia's moving on Kyiv and the plan appears to be to take out Ukraine's leadership, US defense official warnsA column of army trucks approaches the Perekop checkpoint on the Ukrainian border. Early on February 24, President Putin announced a special military operation to be conducted by the Russian Armed Forces against Ukraine.Sergei MalgavkobackslashTASS via Getty ImagesRussian forces invaded Ukraine Thursday morning, and a senior US defense official says they are moving on Kyiv, likely to topple the country's government and install their own.Russia is "making a move on Kyiv" a senior defense official who addressed reporters Thursday said, according to CNN. "We would describe what you are seeing as an initial phase" of a "large-scale invasion," the official said, according to The Washington Post's Dan Lamothe.Read Full StoryMaps show Russia's invasion of UkraineMaps of Ukraine.Shayanne Gal/InsiderRussia invaded Ukraine early Thursday, leading to dozens of Ukrainian and Russian casualties.These maps show where Russian troops have attacked Ukraine, which is happening from multiple sides.Read Full StoryUK plots far harsher sanctions on Russia to punish it for invading UkraineBritish Prime Minister Boris JohnsonAdrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS/File PhotoThe UK announced a new set of harsher sanctions on Russia after the country invaded Ukraine early Thursday. A spokesman for the UK government told journalists at a briefing that the UK plans to impose a second round of sanctions. The most intense of the new list of sanctions is an asset freeze on all major Russian banks and an asset freeze against VTB — the second largest bank with assets totaling £154 billion. The UK also plans to sanction another 100 individuals and entities.This is a large step up from the sanctions it announced Wednesday, which were limited to five smaller banks, three individuals close to Putin, and politicians in Russia who voted for military action. Russia has begun arresting anti-war protesters as demonstrations break out after Putin invades UkrainePolice officer detain a woman during an action against Russia's attack on Ukraine in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.AP Photo/Dmitry SerebryakovThe Russian government on Thursday threatened anti-war protesters demonstrating against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, warning they could face arrest for organizing.And according to a protest monitoring group, the detentions have already begun as small protests have broken out in some Russian cities.Russia's Investigative Committee warned citizens in a statement not to take part in the "unauthorized" protests "associated with the tense foreign political situation."The committee said that people should be aware of the "negative legal consequences of these actions," which it said includes criminal liability. Read Full StoryUkraine's official Twitter is using memes to rip into Putin's bogus comparison between it and Nazi GermanyRussian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine on Monday.Alexei Nikolsky/Associated PressAfter Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the marching orders for an attack on Ukraine early Thursday morning, Ukraine's official Twitter account got busy. One photo showed what appeared to be caricature images of Adolf Hitler tending to a small Putin. "This is not a 'meme', but our and your reality right now," Ukraine said in a follow-up tweet.  The account also called for a so-called "Twitter-storm" at 12 p.m. local time in Kyiv on Thursday, urging people to use various hashtags to "tell the world of the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine and the fact that Ukraine is under attack."Ukraine's latest post said to "Tag @Russia and tell them what you think about them," racking up tens of thousands of likes and quote tweets. Read Full StoryMap shows reported movement of Russian troops in Ukraine Thursday!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 25th, 2022

Live updates: Ukraine official says Friday will be "hardest day" as Russia advances toward capital Kyiv

Russia attacked Ukraine on Thursday morning and was reported to be advancing toward the capital, Kyiv, on Friday. Ukrainian servicemen walk by fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv on February 25, 2022.AP Photo/Oleksandr Ratushniak Russia continued its attack on Ukraine on Friday, advancing toward the capital, Kyiv. One Ukrainian official warned Friday would be the "hardest day" and the president called for help. The UK's defense minister said Russia did not achieve what it wanted on the first day of its attack. Russian foreign minister says it will talk to Ukraine once it stops fighting, doubles down on claim it wants 'de-Nazification' if UkraineRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in January 2022.Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty ImagesSergei Lavrov said on Friday that Russia will only talk to Ukraine if its troops stop fighting, and said: "We do not want Neo-Nazis to rule Ukraine."He was repeating Russia's baseless claim that its attack on Ukraine was motiviated by Naziism in Ukraine.Ukraine's president is a Jewish man whose native language is Russian and who came into office after a democratic election.Russia has tried to justify its attacks by claiming it wants to prevent a "genocide" in Ukraine and to achieve the "de-Nazification" of the country. Former heavyweight boxing champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko say they'll go to war for Ukraine against RussiaWladimir and Vitali Klitschko.Getty/Richard HeathcoteUkrainian boxing icons Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko said they would take up arms to defend Ukraine against Russia.Vitali, who has been the mayor of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, since 2014, said he was ready to fight in a "bloody war.""I don't have another choice, I have to do that. I'll be fighting," he told ITV's Good Morning Britain on Friday."I believe in Ukraine, I believe in my country and I believe in my people."Wladimir wrote in a LinkedIn post on Thursday: "Democracy cannot defend itself; it needs the will of the citizens, the commitment of everyone," he wrote. "Basically, there is no democracy without democrats."Here, we will defend ourselves with all our might and fight for freedom and democracy. You can also act. Let not fear seize us; let's not remain frozen."Read Full StoryUkraine official predicts 'hardest day' as Russia advances on KyivPeople rest in the Kyiv subway, using it as a bomb shelter on Thursday.AP Photo/Emilio MorenattiUkraine Interior Ministry advisor Anton Gerashenko said on Friday: "The hardest day will be today. The enemy's plan is to break through with tanks from Ivankiv and Chernihiv to Kyiv."Ukraine has been 'left alone' to defend itself from Russia, president saysUkrainian servicemen walk by fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv on February 25, 2022.AP Photo/Oleksandr RatushniakVolodomyr Zelensky said in an early Friday speech that Ukraine was not getting help on the ground, saying: "We are left alone in defense of our state.""Who is ready to fight with us? Honestly — I do not see such. Who is ready to guarantee Ukraine's accession to NATO? Honestly, everyone is afraid."Many nations have condemned Russia and sent weapons to Ukraine. But they have not sent troops, and NATO and the US have said they won't do so.Zelensky also praised the people of Ukraine in his speech, saying: "You are brilliantly defending the country from one of the most powerful countries in the world."Read Full Story Ukraine posts instructions for making Molotov cocktails and asks people who own drones for helpThe post below, from Ukraine's national guard, contained instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails to use against Russian troops.—НГУ (@ng_ukraine) February 25, 2022Ukraine's military also posted a Facebook callout on Friday asking for drone owners to help out."Do you know how to drive a drone? Join the joint patrol with units 112 of the separate brigade of the city of Kyiv!" it said.The Champions League final is moved from Russia to FranceGetty Images/Daniele BadolatoEuropean soccer governing body UEFA said Russia has been stripped of the 2022 Champions League final, and that it will now take place in Paris.UEFA said the game being moved comes after "the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe."Read Full StoryRussia 'failed to deliver' its day-one aims for invading Ukraine, UK defense secretary saysUK Secretary for Defence Ben Wallace.Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesBen Wallace told Sky News on Friday: "Our assessment, as of this morning, is that Russia has not taken any of its major objectives,"  "In fact it's behind its hoped-for timetable. They've lost over 450 personnel.""The Russian army has failed to deliver on day one its main objective."He gave the example that Russian special forces had failed to secure a "significant" airport that was once again under Ukrainian control. Read Full Story Ukrainian leaders compare Russia's attack on Kyiv to Nazi Germany's assault in 1941A night view of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city.Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesRussia's attack on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has prompted comparisons to Nazi Germany's assault on the city in 1941.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invoked World War II while speaking directly to the Russian people in a speech Friday morning as explosions were reported over Kyiv."Tonight, you began bombing residential areas in the hero city of Kyiv. This is like 1941. I want to tell all Russian citizens who are coming out to protest: we hear you, you heard us, you started to believe us. Fight for us. Fight the war," Zelensky said.Read Full StoryRussia's richest 22 billionaires lost $39 billion in one day after the invasion of UkraineVladimir Potanin, Russia's richest man, lost $3 billion in one day on Thursday. He is now worth $26.1 billion.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty ImagesRussia's 22 richest individuals saw their net worths plunge by a collective $39 billion in less than 24 hours after their country invaded Ukraine, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.The wealth wipeout came after Moscow's benchmark MOEX Russia Index crashed and closed 33% lower on Thursday.The Russian billionaires lost more money on Thursday than they had lost year-to-date up until Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.Read Full StoryAustralian PM Scott Morrison slams China for throwing a 'lifeline' to RussiaMorrison said that it is "simply unacceptable" for China to ease trade restrictions on Russia when other countries are imposing sanctions.STEVEN SAPHORE/AFP via Getty ImagesAustralian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned China for easing its restrictions on Russian wheat amid the Ukraine crisis, even as other countries impose fresh sanctions on Russia."You don't go and throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they're invading another country," he told reporters at a press conference on Friday morning, per Australia's ABC News. Read Full StoryMitch McConnell has urged Biden to 'ratchet the sanctions all the way up' against RussiaSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged President Joe Biden not to hold back with tough sanctions on Russia.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday advised President Joe Biden to hold nothing back when imposing sanctions on Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine. "We're all together at this point, and we need to be together about what should be done," McConnell said."Ratchet the sanctions all the way up. Don't hold any back," he added. "Every single available tough sanction should be employed and should be employed now." Read Full StoryLarge explosions heard in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital cityA night view of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city, as seen on Thursday.Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesKyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was awakened by explosions in the early hours of Friday morning local time, CNN reported."Strikes on Kyiv with cruise or ballistic missiles continued," Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Ukraine, told CNN Thursday.The outlet also reported multiple bombardments — two blasts in Kyiv and an explosion in the distance. Read Full StoryUkraine is crowdfunding to shore up its defenses against the Russian militarySoldiers seen aboard a Ukrainian tank in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday.REUTERS/Carlos BarriaUkraine is crowdfunding to bolster its armed forces against the Russian invasion.In a tweet on Thursday, the official Twitter account of Ukraine called for donations and provided a link to the country's official website.Collected funds will be used for the "logistical and medical support" of the Ukrainian armed forces, said the webpage, which is operated by Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ukrainian Institution.Read Full Story5 reasons Putin and others have given for the invasionRussian President Vladimir Putin claims the Ukraine invasion is aimed at preventing the "genocide" of ethnic Russians in the country.Photo by Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty ImagesRussian forces attacked Ukraine early Thursday morning, launching a large-scale and unprovoked invasion that was feared for weeks.Here are some reasons Russian President Vladimir Putin has given for why Russia invaded Ukraine — some of which are based on falsehoods — along with what the US and NATO have said about his motivations.Read Full StoryThe Biden administration is considering training Ukrainian soldiers in an outside country, according to AxiosUkrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine on January 20, 2022.Wolfgang Schwan/Getty ImagesAs Russian forces enclose on Ukraine's capital Kyiv, the Biden administration is eyeing its next steps in the ongoing conflict.Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told House lawmakers on Thursday that the US government is considering possible ways to train Ukrainian troops outside of Ukraine, should Russia seize control of the country, according to Axios.Austin reportedly told lawmakers that officials are trying to find ways to provide more defense equipment, including ammunition to Ukrainian forces — a feat made more challenging as Russian forces assault the country.The secretary also told House members that the Biden administration will continue to support Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's government as long as it is "viable," the outlet reported.Ukrainian president announces general mobilization of all conscripts and reservists to last 90 daysUkrainian soldiers sit on top of a military vehicle parked outside the hotel in Prypiat, Ukraine on February 4.Volodymyr Tarasov/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty ImageUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday ordered a general military mobilization throughout the country as Russia continues its large-scale military assault in Ukraine. The declaration ordered the conscription of conscripts and reservists for military service, as well as their delivery to military units and institutions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in order to "ensure the defense of the state." The mobilization, which included all of Ukraine's major cities, will be carried out within 90 days, the decree said. It will provide personnel, vehicles, infrastructure, and land use for the Ukrainian government and military amid Russia's ongoing invasion, according to the decree. Ukraine has also banned all male citizens ages 18-60 from leaving the country, according to CNN, which cited the State Border Guard Service. READ FULL STORYZelensky says 'enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv' and that he is 'number one target'Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a statement during the 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 19, 2022 in Munich, Germany.Photo by Ronald Wittek - Pool/Getty ImagesIn his second video address on Thursday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said that "enemy sabotage groups" entered Kyiv, and that he plans to remain, despite being Russia's "number one target.""According to preliminary data, unfortunately, we have lost 137 of our heroes today — our citizens. Ten of them are officers," Zelensky said in his address. "316 are wounded."He also used the opportunity to dispel rumors that he had fled Kyiv, and that his family had left the country."I stay in the capital, I stay with my people. During the day, I held dozens of international talks, directly managed our country. And I will stay in the capital," he said. "My family is also in Ukraine. My children are also in Ukraine. My family is not traitors. They are the citizens of Ukraine. But I have no right to say where they are now."READ FULL STORYWhite House is 'outraged' over reports that staff at Chernobyl have been taken hostage by Russian forcesServicemen take part in a joint tactical and special exercises of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ukrainian National Guard and Ministry Emergency in a ghost city of Pripyat, near Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on February 4, 2022.Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty ImagesPress secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is outraged over reports from Ukrainian officials that staff at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine have been taken hostage by Russian troops.Russian forces took over the remnants of Chernobyl earlier on Thursday during the country's invasion of Ukraine. The move indicated Russia is likely to assault Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv, which is located just south of Chernobyl, the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history."We're outraged by credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facility hostage," Psaki said during a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, adding "we condemn it and we request their release."Psaki said the situation at Chernobyl was not clear but that the hostage taking was "incredibly alarming and greatly concerning," adding it could hurt efforts to maintain the facility, which is dangerously contaminated with radioactivity as a result of the 1986 nuclear disaster.read full STORYUS secretary of state is 'convinced' Russia will try to overthrow the Ukrainian governmentUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on April 11, 2021.Meet The Press/NBCUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said he is "convinced" Moscow will try to overthrow Ukraine's government."You don't need intelligence to tell you that that's exactly what President Putin wants. He has made clear he'd like to reconstitute the Soviet Empire, short of that he'd like to reassert a sphere of influence around the neighboring countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc," Blinken said during a national TV interview. The secretary pledged that NATO would intervene before Putin successfully accomplished his ultimate goal."Now, when it comes to a threat beyond Ukraine's borders. There's something very powerful standing in his way. That's article five of NATO, an attack on one is an attack on all," the top diplomat said.  Expert says Russia's Ukraine invasion will result in 'horrific scenes,' could be launch of 'Cold War 2.0'Ukrainians gather in front of the White House in Washington, USA to stage a protest against Russia's attack in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.Yasin Öztürk/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesA former aide to President Barack Obama is warning that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a "game changer" in international relations that will result in "horrific scenes" in the coming days, with President Vladimir Putin intent on pursuing regime change at all costs."I think it's just a matter of time before Kyiv falls," Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who also served on the National Security Council in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, told Insider.READ FULL STORYThe White House says it's ready to accept Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasionWhite House press secretary Jen Psaki.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe US is prepared to accept Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia's invasion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN."We are," Psaki said when asked whether the US was ready to assist fleeing Ukrainians. "But we certainly expect that most if not the majority will want to go to Europe and neighboring countries. So, we are also working with European countries on what the needs are, where there is capacity. Poland, for example, where we are seeing an increasing flow of refugees over the last 24 hours."She added that US officials have been engaging with Europeans on the matter "for some time." Ukrainian and Russian forces have been fighting for hours over a critical airfield just outside KyivUkraine army says battle under way for airbase near Kyiv on February 24, 2022Daniel LEAL / Getty ImagesUkrainian and Russian forces have been fighting for hours over a critical airfield on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city.Russian forces attacked and seized Hostomel (Gostomel) airfield, a cargo airport near Kyiv that is also known as Antonov airport, early Thursday, according to AFP. Ukraine's leadership reportedly vowed to take it back."The enemy paratroopers in Hostomel have been blocked, and troops have received an order to destroy them," Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address.Read Full StoryUkraine's health minister says dozens killed and over 160 injuredBlack smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022.ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty ImagesUkraine's health minister said 57 Ukrainians have been killed and 169 were wounded after Russia attacked on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.Explosions, gunfire, and sirens were reportedly heard in Kyiv on Thursday. Witnesses also described missile blasts in other cities, including Kramatorsk, Dnipro, and Odesa, reports said. Sean Penn is filming a documentary in Ukraine while Russia invadesActor and director Sean Penn attends a press briefing at the Presidential Office in Kyiv, Ukraine February 24, 2022.Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via ReutersSean Penn was spotted in Ukraine on Thursday just after Russia invaded the country. Penn was seen in the front row of a press briefing at the Presidential Office in Kyiv, photos obtained by Reuters show. The actor and director has been working on a documentary about tensions in Ukraine since last year.Read Full StoryUkrainians and Russians are packing ATM lines, prompting fears of what happened in the US during the Great DepressionPeople wait in line at an ATM in Kyiv.DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images.Many Ukrainians who haven't already fled the country as Russia's threat turned into invasion stood in long lines outside of banks and ATMs hoping to take out their funds, Reuters reported on Thursday. Meanwhile in Russia, people are also queuing outside of ATMs trying to get US dollars as its citizens worry their own currency's value will continue to tank, according to the Wall Street Journal. Banks in the capital city of Moscow are running out of money, MSNBC reported. All of this has led to fears of bank runs, which is when people withdraw money en masse because they worry banks will cease to function. That's what happened in the United States during the Great Depression, and it triggered mass unemployment and loan scarcities.  Read Full StoryA top Russian business lobbyist pleaded with Putin to 'demonstrate as much as possible' that Russia wants to remain 'part of the global economy'Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin attend a meeting of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 16, 2017.Sergei Ilnitsky/AP PhotoThe head of one of Russia's biggest business groups urged President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to avoid severe economic pain and remain "part of the global economy" as NATO members ready a harsher salvo of sanctions.Putin held a televised meeting with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs just hours after Russian forces began attacks in Ukraine.The threat of new sanctions was enough for Alexander Shokhin, the business group's president, to raise concerns with Putin about remaining a member of the world economy.The lobbyist urged the president to pad against major economic pain and to ensure conflict in Ukraine doesn't fuel widespread harm to the global financial system."Everything should be done to demonstrate as much as possible that Russia remains part of the global economy and will not provoke, including through some kind of response measures, global negative phenomena on world markets," Shokhin said.Read Full StoryBiden says he'll try to limit what Americans pay at the gas pump as the US slaps Russia with more sanctions: 'This is critical to me'U.S. President Joe Biden answers questions after delivering remarks about Russia's “unprovoked and unjustified" military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden sought to quell fears of another spike in gas prices on Thursday after Russia unleashed a military assault on Ukraine that threatened to upend the global economy.The threat of war in Ukraine in recent weeks has contributed to spiking oil prices, with the benchmark Brent crude oil hitting $100 for the first time since 2014 Wednesday night amid the early stages of Russia's invasion."I know this is hard and Americans are already hurting," he said at a White House address. "I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump."He opened the door to another release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a step the Biden administration also took in November to try and provide relief at the pump.Read Full StoryBiden says Putin's Ukraine invasion will cause a 'complete rupture' in US-Russia relationsPresident Joe Biden listens to questions from reporters while speaking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Washington.Alex Brandon/APPresident Joe Biden on Thursday said Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine will cause a "complete rupture" of US-Russia relations if it continues. Biden condemned Putin and his escalating invasion of Ukraine in a speech from the White House.Biden, who met with G7 members on Thursday morning, also announced a raft of new sanctions against Russia on Thursday."What's the risk that we are watching the beginning of another Cold War, and is there now a complete rupture in US-Russian relations?," a reporter asked Biden following his address. Read Full StoryFamed Russian rapper cancels concerts in protest, saying he can't perform while 'Russian missiles fall on Ukraine'Rapper Oxxxymiron, whose real name is Miron Fyodorov, performs during a concert in support of rapper Husky, whose real name is Dmitry Kuznetsov, in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.AP Photo/Pavel GolovkinA prominent Russian rapper canceled his concert in protest of the Russian invasion on Ukraine, saying he can't perform while "Russian missiles fall on Ukraine."Rapper Oxxxymiron announced via a video posted to his Instagram account that he is postponing "six of my major gigs in Moscow and Saint Petersburg indefinitely," because he said he is "specifically against the war Russia has escalated against the people of Ukraine.""I'm sure you can understand me; I can't entertain you while Russian missiles fall on Ukraine, while Kyiv residents are forced to hide in the basements and subway, and while people are dying," he said.Read Full StoryUS Treasury targets Belarusian support for Russian invasion of UkraineBelarusian President Alexander LukashenkoDmitry Astakhov/Pool/AFP via Getty ImagesIn addition to the second round of sanctions imposed on Russia by the US Thursday, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it is sanctioning 24 Belarusian individuals for their support of the Russian invasion. The sanctions target Belarus's defense sector and financial institutions — two sectors closely tied to Russia.Massive protests erupted in Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg as Russians voice opposition to war in UkraineA demonstrator holding a placard reading "No to war" protests against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in central Saint Petersburg on February 24, 2022.Photo by SERGEI MIKHAILICHENKO/AFP via Getty ImagesMassive protests erupted on Thursday in Russian President Vladimir Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg, as people voiced their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.Videos posted to Twitter show a sea of people gathered in a section of St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, chanting and holding signs to object to Russia's offensive in Ukraine.Russian government forces have threatened to arrest anti-war protesters, who took to the streets after Putin announced military action against Ukraine on Thursday.Read Full StoryPhotos show Russian authorities dragging away protesters opposed to Putin's invasion of UkrainePolice Police detain a demonstrator during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in central Saint Petersburg on February 24, 2022.SERGEI MIKHAILICHENKO/AFP via Getty ImagesAnti-war protesters in Russia quickly took to the streets following Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Some activists were met with hostility by Russian authorities who hauled them away. More than 1,000 anti-war protesters have already been detained in dozens of cities across Russia, according to protest-monitoring group OVD-Info. Russia's Investigative Committee warned citizens not to take part in the "unauthorized" protests "associated with the tense foreign political situation."Read Full StoryBiden slaps 'additional strong sanctions' on Russia as it mounts a large-scale attack on UkrainePresident Joe Biden delivers remarks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the East Room of the White House on February 07, 2022.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the US will impose a second, harsher round of sanctions on Russia following its large-scale invasion of Ukraine.Biden announced that he had authorized "additional strong sanctions" and "new limitations" on what can be exported to Russia."We have purposely designed these sanctions to maximize the long term impact on Russia and minimize the impact on the United States and our allies," Biden said."We will limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen to be part of the global economy," the president said of the sanctions. "We're going to stop the ability to finance and grow the Russian military. We're going to impair their ability to compete in a high-tech 21st-century economy."Read Full StoryA Ukrainian lawmaker broke down in tears and begged the world to 'save our people' from being 'murdered' by Russian forcesUkrainian Parliament member Halyna Yanchenko speaks during a CBS interviewCBS NewsA Ukrainian lawmaker broke down in tears during an interview with CBS News and begged the international community to "save our people" from being "murdered" by Russian forces."I beg you, please save our people. Dozens of people — maybe hundreds of people — might be murdered tonight," Member of Parliament Halyna Yanchenko said as she sobbed during an interview with CBS News on Thursday.  She added: "Please save Ukrainian men, women, and children." Read Full StoryPhotos show Ukrainian families fleeing the Russian invasion amid warnings of a mass refugee crisisPeople wait for trains at a train station as they attempt to evacuate the city on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Overnight, Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with explosions reported in multiple cities and far outside the restive eastern regions held by Russian-backed rebels.Pierre Crom/Getty Images)Ukrainian residents fled their homes after the first day of Russia's full-scale invasion. Train stations were packed with people on the move and roads filled with cars of people leaving the country, with their loved ones and prized possessions in tow.Before the invasion took place, there were warnings of a mass refugee crisis.Read Full StoryRussian government websites — including ones for the Kremlin and the legislature — went dark after cyberattacks target UkraineA night view of Kyiv as the Kyiv mayor declared a curfew from 10pm to 7am on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesMultiple Russian government websites reportedly went down on Thursday after the country launched an attack on Ukraine. NetBlocks, which tracks disruptions and shutdowns, confirmed on Twitter that multiple sites went offline shortly after 8:45 p.m. local time in Moscow.The Kremlin's website and that of the Russian Federal Assembly's lower house — or State Duma — were both down for at least 15 minutes. As of 9 p.m. local time, the State Duma website was since restored. Shortly after 9:10 p.m. local time, the Kremlin's website was also back online.  Read Full StoryPutin had a range of ways to attack Ukraine. He went with the worst-case scenario for the West.A convoy of Russian military vehicles is seen as the vehicles move towards border in Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on February 23, 2022 in Russian border city Rostov.Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesIn the build-up to Russia's assault on Ukraine, analysts and leaders envisioned numerous ways the conflict might play out, from a limited incursion to an all-out invasion.Putin used precision missile strikes and airstrikes, followed shortly later by ground maneuvers, the officials said.Analysts said attacks came from the east, south, and north, a description consistent with reports on the ground and Insider's map of the invasion.All three lines of attack — as per this analysis in The Conversation — had previously been floated as individual possibilities for an invasion.Defense analysts warned that Russia's multipronged attack was full-scale but still in an early phase, with a lot more forces to push into Ukraine to seize key areas or capture its leadership.Putin's overall endgame remains an area of pressing debate.Read Full StoryKey Democratic congressman says the US can't send support to Ukraine quickly enough 'to repel' Russia's invasionRep. Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesRep. Adam Smith, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, ruled out surging supplies into Ukraine as a last-ditch effort to stall Russia's invasion, arguing it's unlikely such support would arrive quickly enough to make a difference."The odd of us being able to do that in a rapid enough fashion to be able to repel the invasion are remote," Smith told CNN on Thursday when asked about a Ukrainian official's request for more equipment. "I don't think it's realistic to think that we can reinforce them enough in the short term to be able to repel the invasion."Read Full StoryPoland, Czech Republic, and Sweden are refusing to play their 2022 World Cup qualifying matches in Russia after it attacked UkraineA protester holds a poster reading "Sanctions against Russia now" during a rally in front of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm on February 24, 2022, after Russia launched military operations in Ukraine.Photo by CLAUDIO BRESCIANI/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty ImagesPoland, Czech Republic, and Sweden said they are refusing to play their upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifying playoff matches in Russia after it attacked Ukraine on Thursday.Based on the latest Russian aggression against Ukraine, "the signatories to this appeal do not consider travelling to Russia and playing football matches there," the three countries said in a joint statement addressed to FIFA's General Secretary Fatma Samoura. The statement continued: "The military escalation that we are observing entails serious consequences and considerably lower safety for our national football teams and official delegations."Read Full StoryRussia's moving on Kyiv and the plan appears to be to take out Ukraine's leadership, US defense official warnsA column of army trucks approaches the Perekop checkpoint on the Ukrainian border. Early on February 24, President Putin announced a special military operation to be conducted by the Russian Armed Forces against Ukraine.Sergei MalgavkobackslashTASS via Getty ImagesRussian forces invaded Ukraine Thursday morning, and a senior US defense official says they are moving on Kyiv, likely to topple the country's government and install their own.Russia is "making a move on Kyiv" a senior defense official who addressed reporters Thursday said, according to CNN. "We would describe what you are seeing as an initial phase" of a "large-scale invasion," the official said, according to The Washington Post's Dan Lamothe.Read Full StoryMaps show Russia's invasion of UkraineMaps of Ukraine.Shayanne Gal/InsiderRussia invaded Ukraine early Thursday, leading to dozens of Ukrainian and Russian casualties.These maps show where Russian troops have attacked Ukraine, which is happening from multiple sides.Read Full StoryUK plots far harsher sanctions on Russia to punish it for invading UkraineBritish Prime Minister Boris JohnsonAdrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS/File PhotoThe UK announced a new set of harsher sanctions on Russia after the country invaded Ukraine early Thursday. A spokesman for the UK government told journalists at a briefing that the UK plans to impose a second round of sanctions. The most intense of the new list of sanctions is an asset freeze on all major Russian banks and an asset freeze against VTB — the second largest bank with assets totaling £154 billion. The UK also plans to sanction another 100 individuals and entities.This is a large step up from the sanctions it announced Wednesday, which were limited to five smaller banks, three individuals close to Putin, and politicians in Russia who voted for military action. Russia has begun arresting anti-war protesters as demonstrations break out after Putin invades UkrainePolice officer detain a woman during an action against Russia's attack on Ukraine in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.AP Photo/Dmitry SerebryakovThe Russian government on Thursday threatened anti-war protesters demonstrating against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, warning they could face arrest for organizing.And according to a protest monitoring group, the detentions have already begun as small protests have broken out in some Russian cities.Russia's Investigative Committee warned citizens in a statement not to take part in the "unauthorized" protests "associated with the tense foreign political situation."The committee said that people should be aware of the "negative legal consequences of these actions," which it said includes criminal liability. Read Full StoryUkraine's official Twitter is using memes to rip into Putin's bogus comparison between it and Nazi GermanyRussian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine on Monday.Alexei Nikolsky/Associated PressAfter Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the marching orders for an attack on Ukraine early Thursday morning, Ukraine's official Twitter account got busy. One photo showed what appeared to be caricature images of Adolf Hitler tending to a small Putin. "This is not a 'meme', but our and your reality right now," Ukraine said in a follow-up tweet.  The account also called for a so-called "Twitter-storm" at 12 p.m. local time in Kyiv on Thursday, urging people to use various hashtags to "tell the world of the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine and the fact that Ukraine is under attack."Ukraine's latest post said to "Tag @Russia and tell them what you think about them," racking up tens of thousands of likes and quote tweets. Read Full StoryMap shows reported movement of Russian troops in Ukraine Thursday!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 25th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

Biden Accuses Trump Of Spinning "Web Of Lies" While Promising To "Defend Democracy" In Jan. 6 Speech

Biden Accuses Trump Of Spinning "Web Of Lies" While Promising To "Defend Democracy" In Jan. 6 Speech Update (0940ET): Just as expected, President Biden came out swinging in his speech Thursday morning, but still somehow missed the mark. Although he never mentioned Trump by name, the 79-year-old geriatric president tried his hardest to sound virile. "I will stand in the breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to put a dagger to the throat of American democracy," Biden announced. At this point, we're mostly surprised he managed to wake up this early. In its review of the speech, the NYT wondered if this is a preview of the kind of rhetoric Americans are likely to see heading into the midterms this fall - and 2024 just around the corner after that. The strategy worked for Dems in 2020, but has been less effective in the months since, as the electorate has focused mostly on surging inflation and COVID numbers, issues that directly impact most Americans. At one point, Biden proclaimed that his predecessor wasn't just "a former president but a defeated former president". He also blasted Trump for doing "nothing" for hours as the "assault" on the Capitol ground on. He also accused his main political rival of spinning a "web of lies" and for placing his own ego above protecting Democracy. At least one GOP senator, Lindsey Graham, accused Biden of brazenly politicizing the occasion. What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden. I wonder if the Taliban who now rule Afghanistan with al-Qaeda elements present, contrary to President Biden’s beliefs, are allowing this speech to be carried? — Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 6, 2022 * * * As President Biden attempts to squeeze as much political capital as he can out of the anniversary of the Jan. 6 protest at the Capitol, the White House has informed the press that Biden intends to accuse his predecessor, President Trump, of having "singular responsibility" for the events of that day. The remarks come as the new AG Merrick Garland insists that anyone involved with that day's events will be prosecuted, whether they were present or not. We'll set aside the fact that the AG has stopped just short of openly calling for Americans to be persecuted for thought crimes, and focus on the matter at hand: that President Biden's sagging polling and twin devils of inflation and the current COVID surge have left him in a desperate position. In ten months, Americans will head to the polls in what's bound to be a closely watched midterm election. It's possible Democrats could lose both of their narrow Congressional majorities. To try and stop this from happening, Biden needs to try and scare Americans into remembering how bad the last guy was. And he intends to accomplish this with high-handed rhetoric about media lies and the "subversion" of Democracy. Biden is set to speak live from the Statuary Hall of the Capitol at 0900ET. Readers can watch live below: The Biden Team has already distributed select excerpts from the president's planned remarks to the media. In one quip, Biden exhorts Americans not to accept "political violence as the norm". "Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people?” Biden will say in his speech, according to excerpts provided by the White House. “We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation." As Bloomberg points out in its coverage, Biden appears to be abandoning a strategy of not mentioning Trump directly. As his poll numbers continue to sag, Biden and his team are going to try "reengaging" with Trump (on a purely rhetorical basis) to see if this might help lift Biden's sagging approval rating. The day represents "a rhetorical opportunity" for Biden to change the narrative of his flailing presidency and "reorient" the conversation away from the disastrous handling of the COVID pandemic and toward something more politically useful for the Democrats. Speaking during yesterday's White House press briefing, Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki insisted that Biden was "personally" affected by the events of Jan. 6. "It hit him personally", she said (though not as personally as it hit AOC, who infamously lied about the "rioters" threatening her during the "siege". Psaki also claimed Biden would be discussing "the truth" of what happened that day, while pushing back against "lies" and the "subversion" of American democracy. Biden's comments are part of a "day long" parade of speeches from top Democrats including - of course - Nancy Pelosi. The speeches will focus on the importance of "democracy" and dovetail with Biden's planned push to reject voter ID laws that are increasingly being implemented across the country at the state level. Pelosi, Biden and VP Kamala Harris will all speak at the Capitol (starting at 0900ET, as we noted above). After a morning of remarks, a House pro forma session will be held on the House floor at noon, with prayer, a statement from the chair and a moment of silence. At 1300ET, Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden will moderate a conversation between historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham to "establish and preserve the narrative" of Jan. 6.  At 1430ET, members of Congress will reflect on Jan. 6, presided over by Representative Jason Crowe. A prayer vigil will be held at 1730ET. One person we won't be hearing from Thursday (thanks in part to the ongoing social media blackout): President Trump. He has cancelled a planned press conference at Mar a Lago at the urging of allies, according to Bloomberg. Although we wouldn't be surprised to hear something from him, perhaps in the form of a statement disseminated through one of his former aides, or  perhaps on Gettr. Both Pelosi and Schumer have released statements to mark the occasion: Pelosi's comments came in the form of a press release: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a singular message for Americans and the world on the eve of the anniversary of the horrific attack on the Capitol: “Democracy won.” In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, steps from where a mob loyal to Donald Trump laid siege to the building, Pelosi said it’s time for the country to turn to its “better angels,” draw from history and ensure a day like Jan. 6 never happens again. “Make no mistake, our democracy was on the brink of catastrophe,” Pelosi told the AP. “Democracy won that night,” she said. “These people, because of the courageous work of the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police and others, they were deterred in their action to stop the peaceful transfer of power. They lost.” The speaker will lead Congress on Thursday in a day of remembrance at the Capitol, with President Joe Biden speaking in the morning, and historians and lawmakers sharing remembrances throughout the day — though few Republicans are expected to attend. The deadly insurrection stunned the country, and the world, as rioters ransacked the Capitol, some in hand-to-hand combat with police, after a defeated President Trump exhorted them to fight as Congress was certifying the Biden’s election. Pelosi said no one could have imagined a U.S. president calling for an insurrection, but there’s now an “enormous civic lesson learned as to what a president is capable of,” she said. “I think now people are alerted to the fact that there can be rogue presidents.” The California congresswoman, who made history 15 years ago as the first female speaker of the House -- and has become one of the most powerful leaders ever to have held the gavel -- said she bears “absolutely no sense of responsibility” for the current divisions in Congress, or the country. After having twice led the House to impeach Trump, she said her message to those who assaulted the Capitol — and the millions of Americans who backed Trump and may support him again — is that they were lied to. Countless court cases and investigations have shown no evidence of voter fraud that could have tipped the election, as he claims. “They may have thought that was right,” she said. ”But they were lied to by the president of the United States.” For that, she said, “he should be ashamed.” Sitting beneath a portrait of George Washington, Pelosi drew heavily on the founders’ vision for a country where Americans would have many differences but rely on common sense to resolve them. She drew on Abraham Lincoln’s time -- insisting on constructing the dome of the Capitol despite naysayers during the Civil War-- to keep the country together. “We cannot shirk our responsibility. We have the power and we have the responsibility and we will live up to that to keep our country together,” she said. “Let’s hope that we never elect a president who will incite an insurrection on the Congress of the United States.” Looking back on the night of Jan. 6 after the riot, Pelosi said she is most proud of the decision congressional leaders made, once the Capitol was cleared of the mob, to quickly return to certify the election results. She hopes to “soon” reopen the mostly shuttered Capitol -- a “symbol of democracy to the world,“ now closed longer than any other time in its history — once the coronavirus pandemic wanes and the physician’s office signals it is safe. And Pelosi urged Americans to look ahead, not back. “The future is America’s resilience, America’s greatness,” she said. “America will always prevail and that we will survive — even what we went through last year.” And here are Schumer's: Dear Colleague: As we approach the anniversary of the January 6 attack on our Capitol and our democracy, I am writing to follow up on my last Dear Colleague before Christmas, specifically to outline next steps on urgently-needed voting rights legislation. One year ago this week, we experienced great sorrow: mere hours after the dawn of a new Congress and a new Majority, our beloved Capitol was attacked. It was attacked in a naked attempt to derail our Republic’s most sacred tradition: the peaceful transfer of power. Domestic violent extremists sought to inflict chaos and violence. Fueled by conspiracy and the ravings of a vengeful former President, they sought to destroy our Republic. Our democracy held – for now. As we all are witnessing, the attacks on our democracy have not ceased. In fact, they have only accelerated. Much like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol nearly one year ago, Republican officials in states across the country have seized on the former president’s Big Lie about widespread voter fraud to enact anti-democratic legislation and seize control of typically non-partisan election administration functions. While these actions all proceed under the guise of so-called “election integrity”, the true aim couldn’t be more clear. They want to unwind the progress of our Union, restrict access to the ballot, silence the voices of millions of voters, and undermine free and fair elections. They wish to propagate the Big Lie perpetuated by the former president that our elections are not on the level. Make no mistake about it: this week Senate Democrats will make clear that what happened on January 6th and the one-sided, partisan actions being taken by Republican-led state legislatures across the country are directly linked, and we can and must take strong action to stop this antidemocratic march. Specifically, as we honor the brave Capitol police officers who defended us from those motivated by the Big Lie who tried to undo a fair and free election, Senate Democrats will continue to make the case for passing voting rights legislation to counter the Republican voter suppression and election nullification laws with the same anti-democratic motives born out of the Big Lie. Let me be clear: January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness - an effort to delegitimize our election process, and the Senate must advance systemic democracy reforms to repair our republic or else the events of that day will not be an aberration – they will be the new norm. Given the urgency of the situation and imminence of the votes, we as Senate Democrats must urge the public in a variety of different ways to impress upon their Senators the importance of acting and reforming the Senate rules, if that becomes a perquisite for action to save our democracy. Our Caucus has fought back against these assaults, uniting behind comprehensive legislation that would address these threats to our democracy. Sadly, these common-sense solutions to defend our democracy have been repeatedly blocked by our Republican colleagues, who seem wholly uninterested in taking any meaningful steps to stem the rising tide of antidemocratic sentiment still being stoked by the former president today. In June, August, October, and once more in November, Republicans weaponized arcane Senate rules to prevent even a simple debate on how to protect our democracy. The Senate was designed to protect the political rights of the minority in the chamber, through the promise of debate and the opportunity to amend. But over the years, those rights have been warped and contorted to obstruct and embarrass the will of majority – something our Founders explicitly opposed. The constitution specified what measures demanded a supermajority – including impeachment or the ratification of treaties. But they explicitly rejected supermajority requirements for legislation, having learned firsthand of such a requirement’s defects under the Articles of Confederation. The weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction. We must ask ourselves: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same? We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before. The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history. As former Senator Robert Byrd famously said, Senate Rules “must be changed to reflect changed circumstances.” Put more plainly by Senator Byrd, “Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past.” The fight for the ballot is as old as the Republic. Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy. We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections. Tyler Durden Thu, 01/06/2022 - 09:58.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 6th, 2022