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[l] at 7/13/24 5:51am
No responsible African would abandon Russia, China or BRICS in favor of Western interests, Adamu Garba II says Western powers lack moral authority when they try to impose their interests on African nations, former Nigerian presidential contender Adamu Garba II has told RT. The politician was reacting to controversial ideas expressed by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell earlier this week. While speaking about European influence internationally, he voiced surprise at the level of pro-Russia sentiment among African people, and argued that information warfare tools should be developed to counter “disinformation.” “Don’t dismiss this kind of war. It’s not just sending bombs and tanks, it’s just sending news and occupying the cyberspace,” Borrell warned. “We need people watching the network and people explaining what is going on, reprogramming the listeners, giving them correct information.” Adamu Garba II said that judging by Borrel’s statements, he appears to view Western Europe as a guardian for other parts of the world. “Perhaps he sees Africa as a jungle full of zombies that can be programmed to do their interests,” the politician joked, in an apparent reference to another controversial idea from Borrel. In 2022, the diplomat declared that Europeans live in a “garden,” while most of the outside world is a “jungle.” He later apologized for his words, which drew a wave of condemnation. Read more Africans support Russia – EU’s Borrell On relations with Moscow, Adamu Garba II said: “there’s no way a responsible African will abandon Russia, China or the BRICS alliance in favor of NATO or Western interests, who do everything possible to take our resources from us.” The BRICS group of non-Western economies, founded in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India, and China, with South Africa joining in 2011, has become an attractive alliance for African nations, with some expressing their will to join. Speaking on the sidelines of the BRICS Parliamentary Forum in St. Petersburg this week, Ethiopian parliament speaker Agegnehu Teshager told RT that “most of the African countries have an appetite to be a member of BRICS.”

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[l] at 7/13/24 4:37am
Masoud Pezeshkian has said cooperation with Moscow will remain a priority throughout his term Iran’s president-elect Masoud Pezeshkian has described Russia as “a valued strategic partner” and pledged to further strengthen relations with Moscow. Pezeshkian, who will be inaugurated on July 30, set out his foreign policy priorities in an article entitled: ‘My message to the new world’, published by the Tehran Times on Friday. "Russia is a valued strategic ally and neighbor to Iran and my administration will remain committed to expanding and enhancing our cooperation,” he wrote. Tehran will continue to “prioritize” relations with Russia both on a bilateral level and as part of international organizations such as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Eurasian Economic Union, the president-elect stressed. Pezeshkian said his government would also “actively support” efforts to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict. "China and Russia have consistently stood by us during challenging times. We deeply value this friendship,” he added. Read more Major Russia-Iran treaty remains on track – president-elect Pezeshkian won the presidential election last week, beating his rival Saeed Jalili by 53.7% to 44.3% in the second round. The snap poll was called after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash in May. During his meeting with Iranian lawmakers at the 10th BRICS Parliamentary Forum in St Petersburg on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow and Tehran have been “making considerable progress in their relations” in recent years. The Russian leader predicted that under Pezeshkian bilateral ties “will develop at the same steady pace as they did under Mr Raisi, whose passing we all mourn.” In his article, Pezeshkian said authorities in Tehran “look forward to collaborating more extensively with Beijing as we advance towards a new global order.” On Iran’s relationship with Europe, he said it has “known its ups and downs”. Among other things, European nations reneged on their commitments to salvage the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers after the US unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018, the president-elect noted. “Despite these missteps, I look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with European countries to set our relations on the right path, based on principles of mutual respect and equal footing,” the article said. READ MORE: Reformist at the helm: What can the world expect from Iran’s new president? As for ties with the US, Washington “needs to recognize the reality and understand, once and for all, that Iran does not – and will not – respond to pressure,” Pezeshkian stressed.

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[l] at 7/13/24 4:10am
According to Der Spiegel and Bild, key highways would be at NATO’s full disposal in case of a conflict with Russia The German Defense Ministry has drawn up contingency plans for a potential military conflict with Russia, Der Spiegel and Bild have reported. The document reportedly envisages Germany serving a key role as a transit state for NATO troops, with its population and civil services being expected to assist foreign military personnel. Last month, the German government officially updated its wartime guidelines for the first time since 1989, which now include such measures as mandatory conscription and forcing manufacturers to produce war goods. In its report on Friday, Der Spiegel alleged that under the classified ‘Operational Plan Germany’ (OPLAN DEU), the country should be able to arrange the transfer of 800,000 NATO troops and approximately 200,000 vehicles, including tanks and other hardware, from ports in the Netherlands and Belgium to the East, within three to six months. Several key highways would supposedly be used for this purpose, meaning that they would be closed to civilian traffic. Local communities would be expected to supply the passing military personnel with food, housing, resting areas, and fuel, both media outlets claimed. Read more German secret service ‘finally fit for war’ – Welt Der Spiegel quoted Ralph Tiesler, president of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, as predicting that “enemy actors could take measures to hamper or slow down the movement of NATO troops,” be it through sabotage or a missile strike. German police and emergency services would reportedly have to prioritize protecting these key routes and eliminating the consequences of any attack on them. According to Bild, citing a Defense Ministry spokesperson, aside from its role as NATO’s logistical hub, Germany would also need to establish a major prisoner-of-war camp on its soil should a military confrontation with Russia break out. The two media outlets quoted Bundeswehr Inspector General Carsten Breuer as estimating that Berlin has until 2029 to get ready for a potential military conflict with Moscow, as Russia could supposedly be in a position to attack NATO by then. Local communities are already making provisions and holding drills for this worst-case scenario. According to Der Spiegel, citing the mayor of an unnamed town, locals have not shown any enthusiasm regarding the efforts. “Only a few have so far comprehended what the ‘turn of eras’ means,” the media outlet quoted the official as saying. While multiple NATO member states have claimed in recent months that Russia is harboring plans to attack the US-led military bloc, Russian President Vladimir Putin last month dismissed such allegations as “nonsense” and “bulls**t.” He suggested that those pushing such narratives have “gone completely insane.”

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[l] at 7/13/24 4:09am
Agegnehu Teshager highlighted Addis Ababa’s pivotal role as BRICS’ gateway to the continent Many African countries are eager to join BRICS, Agegnehu Teshager, the speaker of Ethiopia's Upper House of Parliament, has told RT in an exclusive interview. Speaking on the sidelines of the BRICS Parliamentary Forum in St. Petersburg, Teshager claimed that “most of the African countries have an appetite to be a member of BRICS.”   He highlighted Ethiopia’s pivotal position as the gateway to Africa for BRICS, emphasizing the potential of the continent. “Ethiopia’s economy is developing rapidly. We have a huge opportunity to enhance our economy,” Teshager stated. “Ethiopia is the entrance of BRICS to Africa. Africa has very great potential for BRICS.” Addressing global issues, the Ethiopian politician criticized the current international framework, calling it “very unfair.” He pointed to the structure of the UN and other international organizations as areas needing reform.  Read more Putin meets with Tanzanian parliament speaker “The world is very, very unfair now, as you know, the UN structure, UN security structure. There are many international organizations, so [BRICS] is an alternative platform for the member countries,” he explained. During the forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that global interest in inter-parliamentary cooperation among BRICS members is increasing, with the organization’s principles attracting more participants at international events.   “I would like to note that 400 delegates from 18 countries of the world are taking part in [the BRICS Parliamentary Forum], and this certainly indicates that both BRICS as a whole and the parliamentary dimension of BRICS cooperation enjoy great interest and increasing confidence from the international community,” Putin said. The tenth BRICS Parliamentary Forum is being held on July 11-12 in St. Petersburg. BRICS was founded in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India, and China, with South Africa joining in 2011. It expanded this year when Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates became full members. Russia currently holds the chairmanship of BRICS.

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[l] at 7/13/24 2:42am
Europe is pursuing a policy of interference, while Russia offers cooperation possibilities, Gamal Abdel Nasser says European powers are failing to acknowledge the legacy of colonization in Africa in their modern-day dealings with the continent, Gamal Abdel Nasser, a founding member of the African Legacy Forum, has told RT. The comments from the grandson of the late president of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, came in response to a declaration made by EU top diplomat Josep Borrell. Speaking at the NATO Public Forum on Thursday, he expressed surprise about the level of support African people are showing towards Russia, and argued that a new approach focused on information warfare is needed. “We need people watching the network and people explaining what is going on, reprogramming the listeners, giving them correct information, in order to prevent an intervention in electoral processes,” the EU foreign policy chief stated. Read more Africans support Russia – EU’s Borrell In his interview on Friday, Gamal Abdel Nasser recalled how the USSR helped African countries in their liberation movements. “We have a good working past with Russia. Of course, it had its ups and downs, but we have a much worse past with the colonizing nations of Europe,” he said. Nasser noted that European countries have long been engaged in political and military interference in Africa – and that local people do not have “memory loss”, and are aware of what happened in previous centuries. “If they want to work with us – OK, but we need them not to forget this past,” he added. We work with the countries that are willing to work with us on a fair basis and we do not want to be dictated on how we should govern ourselves, what our fiscal policy should be, or who we should talk to, and who we should support and who we should not support. This is still the mentality of the past. It’s the neo-colonization. If they are thinking it’s either Russia or the West, then they are still thinking with this mentality. Cooperation between Russia and African states has strengthening in recent years. In 2023, delegations from 48 countries took part in the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg. At the event, the Kremlin declared that almost all African countries had been subjected to “unprecedented” pressure from the West, which tried to prevent their participation in the summit. “This strategy of the US, France and other states must be condemned; it deserves condemnation,” Kremlin press-secretary Dmitry Peskov said. “In essence, they do not allow the sovereign right of African states to independently choose partners to expand cooperation, interaction in a variety of areas, to discuss current issues.”

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[l] at 7/13/24 1:52am
Most foreign backers agree that Ukraine needs the ability to target Russian territory with Western arms, Andrey Yermak has said Ukraine’s supporters in the West are close to allowing Kiev to use foreign-made weapons to hit targets deep inside Russia, Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff has claimed. The issue was discussed between Kiev and its allies at the NATO summit in Washington earlier this week, Andrey Yermak said on Friday during a Ukrainian ‘Telemarathon’ – a round-the-clock multi-channel broadcast. “It’s true that different member-states of the alliance have different stances regarding attacks on Russian territory” with Western arms, he said. However, the chief of staff stressed that for Kiev “it is absolutely impossible to successfully wage this war if the enemy [Moscow] uses all its options and is not faced with any restrictions. It seems to me that most countries understand this.” “I think we will get the result that we need. I think that the partners are close to resolving this issue. And I think we will get a solution” regarding long-range strikes inside Russia, Yermak said. Read more Zelensky slams ‘crazy’ limits on Russia strikes Ukraine already has approval from several Western states to hit “legitimate” targets in Russia with weapons supplied by them, as well as a concession from the US to strike beyond Russia’s border near the city of Kharkov. Kiev has been pushing for months for the strike range to be extended, despite Russia warning that it would be a major escalation. According to Moscow, such attacks would constitute the direct participation of Washington and its allies in the conflict, as Kiev’s forces are unable to fire sophisticated foreign systems without constant technical support. Speaking at a press conference at the NATO summit on Thursday, Zelensky expressed his frustration over the inability of the West to agree on the “crazy question” of strikes deep inside Russia. “If we want to win, if we want to prevail, if we want to save our country and to defend it, we need to lift all the limitations,” he insisted. However, during the same event, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed the limits on how Ukraine can use American-supplied arms. “We have allowed Zelensky to use American weapons in the near border regions of Russia. If he had the opportunity to strike Moscow, strike the Kremlin, would that make sense? No, it wouldn’t,” he said. READ MORE: Zelensky’s UK missiles claim untrue – Telegraph Last month, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow could supply weapons to other countries, including North Korea, in response to the West providing long-range systems to Kiev.

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[l] at 7/13/24 1:00am
The decision is aimed at allowing Americans to hear from all presidential nominees in the runup to the election, Meta said US tech giant Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced on Friday it would lift its restrictions on content posted by former US President Donald Trump, which had remained in place despite his accounts being unblocked 17 months ago. “Former President Trump, as the nominee of the Republican Party, will no longer be subject to the heightened suspension penalties”, the statement read. Meta said the penalties were imposed in response to “extreme and extraordinary circumstances” and “have not had to be deployed”. Trump was booted from the platforms for more than two years following the riot at the US Capitol in January 2021. Facebook’s parent company announced in January 2023 that it would reinstate the accounts of the former president. However, the official post clarified that he faced “heightened penalties for repeat offenses” as a way to “deter” such behavior. Read more Trump sentencing postponed after Supreme Court ruling “American people should be able to hear from the nominees for President on the same basis,” Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, wrote in a blog post on Friday. Joe Biden’s reelection campaign has condemned Meta’s move. “Restoring his access is like handing your car keys to someone you know will drive your car into a crowd and off a cliff,” Biden campaign spokesperson Charles Lutvak told The Hill. “Without question, it is a direct attack on our safety and our democracy,” Lutvak slammed the decision, claiming it will allow Trump to reach Americans with “fundamentally undemocratic, un-American misinformation.”

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[l] at 7/12/24 10:14pm
After losing seats in the 2024 election, India’s leader is now dependent on allies like Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who wants to build a capital that will outdo Singapore After ten years in power with his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the majority, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi emerged from the 2024 election dependent on the BJP’s allies to continue to govern. The largest ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), with its 16 members of Parliament, and headed by three-time Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. Naidu’s main demand for keeping Modi in power: that the central government revive and finance his dream project of a new state capital, named Amravati (‘place for immortals’). It is to be sustainable – and “more modern” than Singapore.  Naidu visited New Delhi on July 4, before Modi left for Moscow for the first bilateral visit of his third term – and demanded more than one trillion rupees ($12 billion) in grants, of which 500 billion rupees was for building Amaravati. Out of the total 1 trillion rupees, Naidu sought an allocation of 150 billion rupees for Amravati in the current fiscal year. Modi has no choice as his BJP has only 240 MPs; 272 are needed to control Parliament. People expect that whatever Naidu wants, Naidu will get. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu along with his party leaders, leaves after meeting with Election Commission of India (ECI), at Nirvachan Sadan, on April 13, 2019 in New Delhi. ©  Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images A Dream is Born The idea of Amaravati was born following the 2014 bifurcation of the formerly united state of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and a smaller AP. The united state’s capital was Hyderabad which Naidu, in his first avatar as CM (1995-2004), was credited with turning it into a global technology hub; the IT part of the city was dubbed “Cyberabad.” However, the bifurcation sent Hyderabad to Telangana, and Naidu, whose stronghold was the residual AP, had to scout for a new capital when he became the first CM of the new AP. He zeroed in on Amaravati. Centuries ago, Amaravati was a hub of Buddhism and the seat of power for the ancient Satavahana dynasty, whose rule began in the late 2nd century BCE and lasted until the 3rd century CE. The new capital was proposed on a tract of fertile land surrounded by the hills of the Eastern ghats (mountain passes), and located 300km from Hyderabad, and halfway between AP’s commercial capital Vijayawada and its agricultural hub, Guntur. Naidu’s team roped in a group of architects at London-based Foster + Partners to finalize the master plan for Amaravati, which they did in 2017. An image from Amaravati masterplan concept by Foster + Partners, a British international architecture firm based in London. ©  Foster+Partners Situated on the banks of India’s third longest river, the Krishna, the lavish design included offices on the riverfront, water taxis, lush green parks, access to hospitals within ten minutes, cycling tracks, walkways and solar panels on all rooftops, making Amaravati the most sustainable city in the world. But two years later, a bitter political rivalry took center stage and the grand plans for the mega city ground to a halt after Naidu lost power and a new CM, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, stopped the project. His five years in power turned Amaravati into a ghost town.  Now, it’s coming back to life.  The Original Master Plan The city’s master plan divided it into nine zones: government, sports, health, electronics, tourism, knowledge, finance, justice, and media city. It had a 22km Krishna waterfront for the city’s civic core and central business district (CBD). The entire plan was in alignment with ‘Vastu Shastra’ (traditional Hindu architecture). A green space, inspired by Lutyens’ Delhi and New York City’s Central Park, was planned. The city, to house over 3.5 million people, was to be completed by 2029. An image from Amaravati masterplan concept by Foster + Partners, a British international architecture firm based in London. ©  Foster + Partners The World Bank committed to a $300 million loan while the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) committed to a $200 million loan. A Singapore-based consortium of Ascendas-Singbridge and Sembcorp Development submitted a proposal for the master development of the 6.84 sq km area, forming the commercial and seed core of Amaravati, spread across 219 square kms. Once built, Amaravati would be the country’s second major “planned city,” the first being north India’s Chandigarh built by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier at the invitation of then PM Jawaharlal Nehru. In October 2015, PM Modi laid the foundation for Amaravati amid fanfare, consecrated by soil from Buddhist pilgrimage center Bodh Gaya, as well as from other shrines across India. Back then, the Naidu government had invited tenders worth 480 billion rupees during the first phase of the project and paid out nearly 90 billion rupees for work including building construction, road laying, and sanitation. His team anticipated a capital expenditure of 510 billion rupees for the first phase. President and CEO of Kia Motors Corporation Han Woo Park with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu during a ceremony at the plant located about 70 kms from the city of Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh on January 29, 2019. ©  MANJUNATH KIRAN / AFP 30,000 Farmers Pitched In Releasing a ‘white paper’ on Amaravati this month, Naidu said 53,478 acres of land was available for building the city, of which 8,278 acres had been set aside for monetization.  Until 2019, a total of 29,881 farmers, big and small, parted with their land; 20,490 farmers donated less than an acre, while 5,227 donated land between two and five acres. Over 800 farmers donated more than five acres of land, while 25 donated more than 25 acres. In return for every acre given, the government allotted farmers 1,000 square yards of residential land and another 250 sq yd of commercial land (450 sq yd in the case of fertile/irrigated land surrendered). They would also be paid an annuity for lost income, ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 rupees. A body looking after the farmers’ interests says that after land is allocated to 140 state and central institutions, hospitals, educational institutions, infrastructural facilities, community centers, and parks, etc., the government would still have over 8,000 acres. “It can be used for developing Amravati’s infrastructure,” G. Tirupati Rao, the committee’s convenor, told RT.  “To execute the entire master plan may take about 10-15 years,” Rao said. “But the structures can be built in the next three years as a majority are 90% done. A project of this magnitude needs to be developed stage by stage.” Rao’s committee undertook a 1,631-day agitation against CM Jagan Mohan Reddy’s shelving of the Amravati project during his five-year tenure. Farmers from Andra Pradesh gathered to protest at Jantar Mantar to ask support from the Government of India, on December 17, 2022 in New Delhi, India. ©  Salman Ali/Hindustan Times via Getty Images Jagan’s Three Capitals Plan Just days after Jagan took over in May 2019, he did not want Naidu’s ‘baby’ to succeed, according to Rao. So Jagan alleged massive corruption in the Amaravati project, and laid the groundwork to cancel it eventually. By December 2019, he made a unique proposal for three capitals for the state: Visakhapatnam as the administrative capital, Kurnool as the judicial capital and Amaravati as the legislative capital. Read more These ‘living mountains’ are sick, and if they die, they could take millions with them Farmers who had given up their lands immediately took to the streets in protest. They were beaten by police, and the controversy snowballed. The matter went to court, with the AP High Court ruling that Jagan’s government had no grounds to stop Amravati’s development, as the state government was committed to a signed agreement. It also directed Jagan’s government to develop Amaravati within six months and stick to the master plan prepared by his predecessor. The government promptly approached the Supreme Court, which stayed the high court’s decision. “When Amaravati was initially announced, the land ranged from Rs 2 million ($24,000) to Rs 5 million ($60,000) per acre in different villages,” Rao said. “When Jagan came to power, no one was interested in purchasing the land. Now with Naidu back at the helm, prices have skyrocketed. One acre is now Rs 30-50 million ($360,000 to $600,000). Amaravati Today Half-constructed buildings, clogged drainage systems, and dug-up approach roads are what greets visitors to Amaravati today. The buildings include 13-floor legislators’ apartments, All India Service multi-storeyed apartments, bungalows meant for top administrators, the secretariat and General Administration Department towers, and non-governmental organization (NGO) quarters. The only functional buildings are the High Court and the legislative assembly. But over the past three weeks, Amaravati has witnessed a burst of activity. Excavators, tractors and other heavy machinery are clearing the overgrowth and the drainage. Senior government officials visit daily to supervise work and to assess the next few steps. Group D officer's quarters under construction in Amaravati (March 2019) ©  Wikimedia Commons “The government will stick to the old master plan designed by Foster + Partners,” P. Narayana said, the minister for Municipal Administration & Urban Development (MA&UD). Naidu Rides Again “Amaravati will be our capital,” Naidu declared after storming back to power on June 4. “You will now witness hectic activity as new roads will be laid and all other facilities created.” During a visit, Naidu, who prostrated himself at the site, sought suggestions from the public on how to develop Amaravati; he accused his predecessor of causing “complete devastation.” “I am not able to understand what to do, where to start and how to proceed,” he said, filled with emotion. There are challenges ahead. The World Bank and AIIB withdrew from the project after Jagan shelved it in 2019. Getting them back on board, along with other international firms had signed on, is a major task. Naidu has now set a 30-month deadline to complete the construction of those buildings that are 90% finished.

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[l] at 7/12/24 9:47pm
More than 70% of respondents said the prime minister should step down immediately or when the war in Gaza is over Nearly three quarters of Israelis want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign over his government’s failures during the October 7 Hamas attack, according to a poll published by Channel 12 on Friday. Of the 72% of respondents who said that the prime minister should step down, 44% believe he should leave office immediately, while 28% suggested he should resign after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conclude their military operation in Gaza. Israeli citizens have repeatedly organized protest rallies against Netanyahu since the war in Gaza erupted, with many calling for a ceasefire and urging the government to bring back the remaining hostages held by Hamas. On October 7 last year, Hamas and allied Palestinian militants carried out a surprise raid on Israeli military bases, villages and farming communities. In many places, the IDF were seemingly caught off-guard and quickly overwhelmed, as civilians were forced to either defend themselves or flee. Read more Israeli defense minister calls for October 7 probe The Israeli media described the attack as a “devastating intelligence failure,” with Channel 12 reporting that the army failed to properly maintain a signal system at the border with Gaza. The York Times reported in November that Israeli intelligence and military officials obtained Hamas’s plan for the October 7 incursion more than a year before it occurred, but believed it was too unrealistic to pull off. On Thursday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant urged the government to form a state commission that would investigate the failures in response to the October 7 raid. Netanyahu, however, has argued that such a probe can only be launched after the war ends.

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[l] at 7/12/24 9:47pm
More than 70% of respondents said the prime minister should step down immediately or when the war in Gaza is over Nearly three quarters of Israelis want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign over his government’s failures during the October 7 Hamas attack, according to a poll published by Channel 12 on Friday. Out of the 72% respondents who said that the prime minister should step down, 44% believe he should leave office immediately, while 28% suggested he should resign after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conclude their military operation in Gaza. Israeli citizens have repeatedly organized protest rallies against Netanyahu since the war in Gaza erupted, with many calling for a ceasefire and urging the government to bring back the remaining hostages held by Hamas. On October 7 last year, Hamas and allied Palestinian militants carried out a surprise raid on Israeli military bases, villages and farming communities. In many places, the IDF were seemingly caught off-guard and quickly overwhelmed, as civilians were forced to either defend themselves or flee. Read more Israeli defense minister calls for October 7 probe The Israeli media described the attack as a “devastating intelligence failure,” with Channel 12 reporting that the army failed to properly maintain a signal system at the border with Gaza. The York Times reported in November that Israeli intelligence and military officials obtained Hamas’s plan for the October 7 incursion more than a year before it occurred, but believed it was too unrealistic to pull off. On Thursday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant urged the government to form a state commission that would investigate the failures in response to the October 7 raid. Netanyahu, however, has argued that such a probe can only be launched after the war ends.

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[l] at 7/12/24 9:47pm
More than 70% of respondents said that the prime minister should step down immediately or when the war in Gaza is over Nearly three-quarters of Israelis want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign over his government’s failures during the October 7 Hamas attack, according to a poll published by Channel 12 on Friday. Out of the 72% respondents who said that the prime minister should step down, 44% believed that he should leave office immediately, while 28% suggested that he should resign after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) finish their military operation in Gaza. Israeli citizens have repeatedly organized protest rallies against Netanyahu since the war in Gaza erupted, with many calling for a ceasefire and urging the government to bring back the remaining hostages held by Hamas. On October 7, Hamas and allied Palestinian militants carried out a surprise attack on Israeli military bases, cities and farming communities. In many places, the IDF were seemingly caught off and quickly overwhelmed, as civilians were forced to either defend themselves or flee. Read more Israeli defense minister calls for October 7 probe The Israeli media described the attack as a “devastating intelligence failure,” with Channel 12 reporting that the army failed to properly maintain a signal system at the border with Gaza. The York Times reported in November that Israeli intelligence and military officials obtained Hamas’ plan for the October 7 incursion more than a year before it occurred, but believed that it was too unrealistic to pull off. On Thursday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant urged the government to form a state commission that would investigate the failures in response to the October 7 attack. Netanyahu, however, has argued that such a probe could only be launched after the war ends.

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[l] at 7/12/24 6:44pm
Finland insists that the measure is intended to counter the “weaponization” of migrants by Moscow Lawmakers in Finland approved a controversial bill on Friday that would allow the authorities to shut down the border of asylum seekers. The move comes after Helsinki accused Moscow of “weaponizing” migration. The so-called “deportation bill” would give border officials the power to reject asylum applications under certain conditions. “We determinedly set out to find solutions and today parliament has approved the law with a clear majority,” Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said. He added that he hopes that the new law “never has to be used.” EU commissioner for human rights, Michael O’Flaherty, sent a letter to Finnish lawmakers, urging them not to pass the bill because “the proposed law raises a number of significant human rights concerns.” If adopted, “it could set a destabilizing precedent,” and “could be replicated by other states, including those with a less developed practice of upholding human rights,” O’Flaherty wrote. More than 200 university researchers from Finland and abroad signed a petition calling for lawmakers to reject the bill, national broadcaster Yle reported. Read more Finns increasingly unhappy with their government – poll The Finnish government has insisted that the bill would help fight what it called Russian “hybrid influencing against our security.” Since 2022, Finland has been reporting a surge of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, who attempted to cross into the country through the land border with Russia. Helsinki has accused Moscow of funneling the migrants to the border crossings. Russia dismissed this claim as “unsubstantiated” and said that Finland has de facto suspended the cooperation between the neighbors’ border agencies. Russia and Finland preserved good working relations during the Cold War and expanded ties after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The relations deteriorated significantly in 2022 when Finland backed Ukraine and began supplying Kiev with weapons. The Nordic state abandoned its decades-old policy of non-alignment and joined NATO last year. Russia said that the move would only lead to further deterioration of security in Europe.

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[l] at 7/12/24 5:41pm
The charges stem from a 2021 fatal shooting accident on a film set A New Mexico judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against Hollywood A-lister Alec Baldwin on Friday, ruling that the prosecution has hid crucial evidence.  In October 21, 2021, Baldwin was rehearsing a scene on the set of the Western ‘Rust’ and fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza using a revolver. Baldwin, who is one of the producers of the film, denied any wrongdoing, saying he had been falsely assured that the gun did not contain live rounds and that it was safe to use. The prosecutors argued in court that Baldwin “violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety.” The actor’s defense team, meanwhile, described the incident as an “unspeakable tragedy,” but stressed that Baldwin “committed no crime” because live rounds were never supposed to be delivered on set, according to ABC News.  The defense team asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the prosecution failed to disclose that it had been given a batch of rounds when Baldwin’s lawyers requested a review of ballistic evidence. Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer agreed that it was a major flaw in the prosecution’s handling of the case.  Read more Alec Baldwin faces fresh charges over deadly shooting “The state’s willful withholding of this information was intentional and deliberate,” Sommer said. “This disclosure over the course of trial is so late that it undermines the defense preparation for trial. There is no way for the court to right this wrong.” The high-profile trial has brought attention to workplace safety across film sets and prompted discussions about the use of firearms during film production. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on ‘Rust’, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in April. She was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after loading Baldwin’s revolver with live ammunition.

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[l] at 7/12/24 3:46pm
An estimate $90 million has reportedly been frozen until the party nominates someone else An estimated $90 million in donations to a group key to US President Joe Biden’s campaign has been put on hold until the Democrats replace him, the New York Times reported on Friday. The Times cited two unnamed sources “briefed on the conversations” between major donors and Future Forward, a political action committee (PAC) that was expected to raise $700 million for Biden’s re-election. “Multiple eight-figure commitments” are currently frozen and the PAC is “in a defensive crouch” until it is clarified whom the Democrats will actually run in November, according to the Times. The Biden campaign tapped Future Forward as its main super PAC in the 2024 race, and the group has already announced it would spend $250 million on TV and digital advertising after the Democratic National Convention next month. Following Biden’s catastrophic performance at the June 27 debate with Republican challenger and former president Donald Trump, however, the PAC tested potential alternatives. The poll was later leaked to the media and showed Biden with “a worse overall favorability rating than all the alternatives,” which included Vice President Kamala Harris, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Read more Democrats plotting to oust Biden from race – Axios The current president has doubled down on staying in the White House. “I believe I’m the best qualified to govern. And I think I’m the best qualified to win,” Biden told reporters at a press conference on Thursday. While the White House and the campaign have held up the press event as proof that Biden was doing just fine, Democrats in Washington continued to lament the present situation. “Candidates and campaigns are supposed to make you feel something – hope, optimism, courage – but instead most of us felt nothing after that presser. And feeling nothing is how you lose elections,” a veteran Democratic operative told Politico.  A Democrat member of the US House of Representatives told the same outlet that a group of “super friends” is getting together, with the intent to make their case to the White House that Biden has to step aside because “we’re going to get our asses kicked if he doesn’t.” On Thursday, several Biden campaign aides told NBC that Biden will “never recover” and that they saw no path to victory, describing his chances in November as “zero.” Multiple Democrats have raised concerns that down-ballot races might be put at risk, costing the party seats in Congress.

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[l] at 7/12/24 3:38pm
The Russian military has made new gains in Donbass, liberating several new settlements from Kiev’s forces The past week in the Russia-Ukraine conflict has seen active combat continuing at multiple locations along the front line, with Moscow reporting new gains in Donbass and liberation of new villages from Kiev’s forces. On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the liberation of Chigari, a small settlement located shortly to the northwest of the town of Gorlovka, Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic. The settlement, which has been reduced into rubble over the years of fighting in formerly-Ukrainian Donbass, has been used by Kiev’s forces as one of the staging points to launch indiscriminate artillery and missile strikes on Gorlovka. Active fighting continued in the village of New York (also known as Novgorodskoye), located to the west of the town. Russian forces have reportedly broken through the Ukrainian defenses in the area, entering the village from the south and partially seizing control of it. The Avdeevka axis remains one of the hottest points of the whole frontline, with the Russian forces continuing their westward advance following the liberation of the key town mid-February. Over the past week, the troops have expanded their zone of control around the town of Ocheretino, which used to serve as a major logistics hub for the Ukrainian forces. On Saturday, the military said it had seized Sokol, a village to the south of Ocheretino, which has seen an intense oncoming battle over the past few weeks. The development was followed by the liberation of Voskhod, a village immediately to the west of Sokol. With the Russian zone of control expanding in the area, the military is expected to formally announce the capture of Yevgenovka, a village effectively forming a single agglomeration with Voskhod, shortly. The Russian advance also continued to the south of Ocheretino beyond the now-defunct Orlovka-Tonenkoye-Berdychi line, a series of villages stretching along a system of canals and ponds, where the Ukrainian forces tried to create new fortified positions after the fall of Avdeevka. On Tuesday, the defense military announced the liberation of Yasnobrodovka, a small village located on the banks of the Volchya River reservoir. The water body, as well as the Karlovskoye reservoir located shortly to the south of it, serve as major obstacles for the Russian advance. Strikes on Ukraine’s defense industry On Monday, the Russian military launched a major missile and kamikaze drone attack against Ukrainian military-industrial complex, targeting multiple locations across the country. Antonov aircraft and Artyom military plants in Kiev, Yuzhmash plant in Dnepr (formerly Dnepropetrovsk), a factory in Krivoy Rog, as well as several other facilities were among the targets. Footage circulating online shows the moment of the strike on Yuzhmash, with multiple Geran-2 kamikaze drones and missiles hitting the location. Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses appear to intercept only a single suicide drone. Another video taken in Kiev shows at least six Kh-101 cruise missiles striking the Artyom plant, with powerful explosions and a massive plume of dust and smoke seen at the location. The Monday strikes have appeared to cause considerable collateral damage, with Kiev accusign the Russian military of deliberately targeting civilian facilities. Moscow has firmly denied such claims, attributing the collateral damage to Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses, notorious for repeatedly hitting residential buildings and other structures on the ground. Arguably the most notable civilian facility damaged amid the barrage was the Ohmatdet child hospital in the Ukrainian capital. While Kiev claimed the hospital was hit by a Kh-101 cruise missile, the hit was filmed by multiple bystanders, with footage available suggesting it was actually damaged by an AIM-120 anti-aircraft missile, fired by a NASAMS system supplied by Ukraine’s Western backers. “Numerous published photos and video footage from Kiev clearly confirm the fact of destruction due to the fall of a Ukrainian air defense missile launched from an anti-aircraft missile system within the city,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in response to the accusations, dismissing them as “absolutely untrue.” Rear strikes Over the past week, the Russian military continued to actively conduct strikes on the Ukrainian military’s rear, targeting personnel and hardware, ammo dumps, staging areas and storage. A large convoy of over 20 military vehicles and a field ammo dump were hit by an Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile near the village of Stetskovka in Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy Region. Thermal drone footage shared by the Russian Defense Ministry shows the location pelted by bomblets deployed from the cluster warhead of the missile. The strike sparked a major fire at the location, with powerful secondary detonations of ammunition observed by the surveillance drone. According to Moscow’s estimates, up to 65 Ukrainian servicemen were killed or injured in the strike. Another video circulating online shows two Russian aerial bombs, fitted with the UUniversal Correction and Guidance Module (UMPK) winged upgrade kits, hitting a hangar near Liman, a tiny village located shortly to the south of Volchansk, a Ukrainian town close to the Russia-Ukraine border, which has seen active combat over the past few weeks. The hangar was reportedly used to house several multiple rocket launcher systems, as well as to stockpile their ammunition. The systems have been used to provide fire support to the Ukrainian forces operating in the area, as well as to launch indiscriminate crossborder attacks on Russian soil. Hunt for anti-air systems The Russian military has continued its hunt for the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses, reporting strikes on several pieces of Western-supplied, as well as Soviet-era hardware. On Sunday, the Russian defense Ministry shared footage of ballistic missile strikes on an anti-aircraft unit’s position in Odessa Region, located immediately by the shoreline. During the strike, the Russian military destroyed a Swedish-made Giraffe radar, as well as at least two US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile launchers, the ministry said. A Ukrainian Soviet-era S-300 anti-aircraft system was found and destroyed by the Russian forces last Friday, footage circulating online shows. The anti-aircraft position was found by surveillance drones deep into Ukrainian territory by the town of Mirgorod, Polatava Region, some 130km away from the frontline. The anti-aircraft unit, which included at least two launchers and a radar array, was deployed at a disused agricultural facility at an isolated location, footage shows. The site was apparently targeted by an Iskander-M ballistic missile system in a double tap-style attack, with a highly explosive warhead followed by a cluster munition, the video suggests. The strikes sparked multiple fires at the site, as well as triggered detonation of anti-aircraft missiles.

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[l] at 7/12/24 3:33pm
10.3 billion people are expected to inhabit the planet by the 2080s before a decline sets in The global population will grow by more than 2 billion in the next few decades, peaking at around 10.3 billion, a new report released by the United Nations on Thursday estimates. However, the population will begin to decline after peaking in the 2080s, according to the report.  “While countries with populations that already peaked are predominantly in Europe, the largest number of countries and areas among those that are likely to peak over the course of the next 30 years are in Latin America and the Caribbean – 19 countries, or 40% of the total number,” the report reads.  The new figures constitute a major shift in the estimates of global population growth, which had previously been anticipated to expand beyond the 21st century. Now, however, an earlier peak, occurring this century, followed by a more significant decline, is expected with an 80% probability.  “This is a major change compared to the United Nations projections from a decade earlier when the estimated probability the global population would reach a maximum, and thus the growth would come to an end during the 21st century, was around 30%,” John Wilmoth, the head of the UN Population Division, which compiled the report, said. Read more World headed for ‘food wars’ – major commodities trader In many countries, including the US, immigration is expected to become the main factor in population growth in the near future. Should immigration rates wane for any reason, such countries are likely to hit their population peaks much earlier, the report states.  “Immigration is projected to be the main driver of population growth in 52 countries and areas through 2054 and in 62 through 2100. This group includes Australia, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America,” according to the report. For those countries that have already reached their peaks, including Russia, immigration is believed to be a major factor slowing down their projected decline, according to the report. “For some countries, net immigration helps counter population decline. The population of some 19 countries in this group, including Germany, Japan, Italy, the Russian Federation and Thailand, would have peaked earlier and at a lower level in the absence of immigration,” the report suggests. Most of the world’s countries are undergoing the same process of shifting towards lower birthrates and longer lifespans, with only a handful of nations expected to show sharp population growth in the decades to come. “The populations of nine countries, including Angola, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and Somalia are likely to grow exponentially, with populations doubling in size or more between 2024 and 2054,” the report states, adding that these nine countries are expected to contribute more than a fifth of the projected global population increase over the period.

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[l] at 7/12/24 3:33pm
10.3 billion people are expected to inhabit the planet by the 2080s before a decline sets in The global population will grow by more than 2 billion in the next few decades, peaking at around 10.3 billion, a new report released by the United Nations on Thursday estimates. However, the population will begin to decline after peaking in the 2080s, settling at around 10.3 billion by the turn of the next century, according to the report.  “While countries with populations that already peaked are predominantly in Europe, the largest number of countries and areas among those that are likely to peak over the course of the next 30 years are in Latin America and the Caribbean – 19 countries, or 40% of the total number,” the report reads.  The new figures constitute a major shift in the estimates of global population growth, which had previously been anticipated to expand beyond the 21st century. Now, however, a peak occurring this century is expected with an 80% probability.  “This is a major change compared to the United Nations projections from a decade earlier when the estimated probability the global population would reach a maximum, and thus the growth would come to an end during the 21st century, was around 30%,” John Wilmoth, the head of the UN Population Division, which compiled the report, said. Read more World headed for ‘food wars’ – major commodities trader In many countries, including the US, immigration is expected to become the main factor in population growth in the near future. Should immigration rates wane for any reason, such countries are likely to hit their population peaks much earlier, the report states.  “Immigration is projected to be the main driver of population growth in 52 countries and areas through 2054 and in 62 through 2100. This group includes Australia, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America,” according to the report. For those countries that have already reached their peaks, including Russia, immigration is believed to be a major factor slowing down their projected decline, according to the report. “For some countries, net immigration helps counter population decline. The population of some 19 countries in this group, including Germany, Japan, Italy, the Russian Federation and Thailand, would have peaked earlier and at a lower level in the absence of immigration,” the report suggests. Most of the world’s countries are undergoing the same process of shifting towards lower birthrates and longer lifespans, with only a handful of nations expected to show sharp population growth in the decades to come. “The populations of nine countries, including Angola, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and Somalia are likely to grow exponentially, with populations doubling in size or more between 2024 and 2054,” the report states, adding that these nine countries are expected to contribute more than a fifth of the projected global population increase over the period.

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[l] at 7/12/24 3:20pm
With the Washinton and Brussels establishment apparently only interested in more bloodshed, someone has to speak sense One of the greatest farces of these modern times is that those who scream the loudest about democracy and human rights are the very same people who violate international norms at every opportunity. In the June issue of The New Republic, a left-leaning US political journal, a scowling Donald Trump was featured on the cover sporting a Hitler moustache above a caption that read: “American fascism, what it would look like.” “We chose the cover image, based on a well-known 1932 Hitler campaign poster, for a precise reason: that anyone transported back to 1932 Germany could very, very easily have explained away Herr Hitler’s excesses and been persuaded that his critics were going overboard,” the editors explained in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “After all, [Hitler] spent 1932 campaigning, negotiating, doing interviews – being a mostly normal politician. But he and his people vowed all along that they would use the tools of democracy to destroy it, and it was only after he was given power that Germany saw his movement’s full face.” We chose the cover image, based on a well-known 1932 Hitler campaign poster, for a precise reason: that anyone transported back to 1932 Germany could very, very easily have explained away Herr Hitler’s excesses and been persuaded that his critics were going overboard. After all,… pic.twitter.com/x79Rkh86O1— The New Republic (@newrepublic) July 7, 2024 There’s just one problem with the journal’s nervous handwringing: Trump has already served a four-year term as US leader and there was no visible sign of fascist goosestepping down Main Street during that period. In fact, just the opposite is true. While Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, thus triggering World War II, Trump went down in the history books as the first American commander-in-chief in modern times to avoid a military conflict. Now on the campaign trail for the second time, with the insatiable defense industry licking its chops for more profits, the Republican frontrunner has declared he would end the Ukraine-Russia conflict in 24 hours if reelected. When it is considered that ‘democracy’ today primarily works on behalf of the military industrial complex and other associated business interests, it is easier to understand how Trump is described in the corporate-owned media as an existential threat to the American republic. Peace is the last thing on Washington’s mind, and Russia understands that better than any country. Read more Orban’s surprise visit to Moscow sparks fury in Brussels: Key takeaways from Hungarian PM’s ‘peace mission’ Back in 2008, the “dictator” Vladimir Putin delivered his now-famous speech at the Munich Security Conference where he warned his Western colleagues on the dangers of military expansion. “NATO expansion… represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them.” Despite Putin’s explicit warning, NATO went on to add an additional six members to the alliance, bringing the total number to 32, with Ukraine, ignoring Moscow’s major red line, scheming to be number 33. For anybody who asserts this is only a “defense alliance” would do well to consider what America’s response would be if all of Latin America and the border state of Mexico were joining a military alliance led by Moscow. Needless to say, we would be knee-deep in bloodshed by now. Yet Russia is supposed to accept an endless military incursion smack up against its border. This was certainly not the last time Russia attempted to broker a peace deal with Washington. Almost eight years after the 2014 Maidan Revolution, and months before Moscow kicked off its special military operation in Ukraine, the Kremlin released its plan for peace on the continent. Among other things, the draft treaty called for the US and Russia to refrain from deploying troops in regions where they could be perceived as a threat to each other’s national security, as well as a ban on sending their troops and military hardware into areas where they could strike each other’s territory. The treaty was also designed to ban the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe. Had the Western powers consented to the plan – it barely made headlines in the NATO countries – it’s not difficult to imagine decades of peace between east and west, the very last thing that Washington wants. Read more Why EU voters are rebelling against the establishment Instead, the US and its European puppets placed Russia in an impossible position with regards to the ongoing militarization and Nazification of Ukraine, forcing it to respond as any other country concerned about its national security would. This leads us to the West’s third favorite bogeyman, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has dared to declare that his country is predominantly Christian and conservative and has every right to stay that way. Orban, whose country now holds the rotating EU Council presidency, went on a peace-making tour with stops in Moscow, Kiev, Beijing, and Washington (where he ruffled more than one hawk’s feathers by visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago instead of Biden in DC). The frustration on the part of Brussels as it watched the Hungarian “tyrant” speak out in favor of reducing weapons sales was laughable if not downright pathetic. “Hungary has presented the trips as a ‘peace mission’ to help negotiate a ceasefire for the war in Ukraine. Orban may consider himself as one of the few who can speak to both sides – but in reality he has no mandate to do so,” wrote Armida van Rij, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, a European think tank. The question remains, however, who will speak out on behalf of peace if not Trump, Putin, and Orban? The answer thus far is nobody. While there are certainly other statesmen besides Trump, Putin, and Orban on the international stage who can make the case for peace, time is running out to hear those critical voices.

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[l] at 7/12/24 2:39pm
Kiev needs to “win the war” before being invited, Radoslaw Sikorski has said NATO is not willing to offer membership to Ukraine until after the conflict with Russia is resolved, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has said. Sikorski spoke at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event on Friday, after the US-led military bloc's summit in Washington. He had been a fellow at AEI in the early 2000s, before joining the Polish government.  Asked by host Dalibor Rohac about the seeming reluctance of the US and Germany to invite Ukraine into NATO, Sikorski replied that membership would happen “after the war,” adding, “but Ukraine first has to win.”   “There is nothing more dangerous in international relations than a non-credible security guarantee,” Sikorski said. “We had that in 1939 and it was not good for us. It makes you braver than you should be. NATO guarantees should be only extended to situations in which we are willing to go to war on behalf of the country to whom we are giving the guarantee.” “There is no appetite in the alliance to do that now,” he added. NATO members are willing to provide “long-term assistance to Ukraine in winning this,” Sikorski insisted. Read more Second NATO member publicly opposes Ukrainian membership Hungary and Slovakia have publicly opposed Ukraine’s membership in the US-led bloc, saying that this would mean a direct confrontation with Russia and a third world war. NATO rules require the consent of all member states before new ones can join. The NATO summit’s final communique declared that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” and that Kiev is on an “irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership,” but noted that the bloc would extend an invitation only “when Allies agree and conditions are met.” This was the same verbiage used last year in Vilnius, Lithuania. The government in Kiev responded with fury at the lack of a formal invitation, with Vladimir Zelensky firing off a series of angry social media posts accusing NATO of weakness and cowardice. While Kiev was promised more weapons, ammunition and equipment going forward, it will take months and even years before they can be produced and delivered. Moscow has said that no amount of foreign aid can change the outcome of the Ukraine conflict, and that the West only unnecessarily prolongs the hostilities and risks direct confrontation.

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[l] at 7/12/24 2:39pm
Kiev needs to “win the war” before getting invited, Radoslaw Sikorski has said The US-led bloc is not willing to offer membership to Kiev until after the conflict with Moscow, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has said. Sikorski spoke at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event in Washington on Friday, after the NATO summit in the US capital. He had been a fellow at AEI in the early 2000s, before joining the Polish government.  Asked by host Dalibor Rohac about the seeming reluctance of the US and Germany to invite Ukraine into NATO, Sikorski replied that membership would happen “after the war,” adding, “but Ukraine first has to win.”   “There is nothing more dangerous in international relations than a non-credible security guarantee,” Sikorski said. “We had that in 1939 and it was not good for us. It makes you braver than you should be. NATO guarantees should be only extended to situations in which we are willing to go to war on behalf of the country to whom we are giving the guarantee.” “There is no appetite in the alliance to do that now,” he added. NATO members are willing to provide “long-term assistance to Ukraine in winning this,” Sikorski insisted. Read more Second NATO member publicly opposes Ukrainian membership Hungary and Slovakia have publicly opposed Ukraine’s membership in the US-led bloc, saying that this would mean a direct confrontation with Russia and a third world war. NATO rules require the consent of all member states before new ones can join. The NATO summit’s final communique declared that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” and that Kiev is on an “irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership,” but noted that the bloc would extend an invitation only “when Allies agree and conditions are met.” This was the same verbiage used last year in Vilnius, Lithuania. The government in Kiev responded with fury at the lack of a formal invitation, with Vladimir Zelensky firing off a series of angry social media posts accusing NATO of weakness and cowardice. While Kiev was promised more weapons, ammunition and equipment going forward, it will take months and even years before they can be produced and delivered. Moscow has said that no amount of foreign aid can change the outcome of the Ukraine conflict, and that the West only unnecessarily prolongs the hostilities and risks direct confrontation.

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[l] at 7/12/24 1:00pm
The publication is based on the work of Western war correspondents covering the Eastern front The Russian History Perspective Fund has released a new history book covering the events on the Eastern Front and battles between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The book, titled ‘Miracle in the East. Western war correspondents report. 1941–1945.’, is based on wartime publications by Western war correspondents. The book has been published in both Russian and English, with the latter featuring additional multimedia materials. The English version was released by the Fund on Friday and is available on its website.  “The emphasis is on telling a consistent story, because in the modern world the idea of the role of the Red Army and the Soviet people in the victory over fascism has been lost. Moreover, the entire history of World War II is being revised and distorted,” the NGO said in a statement.  Read more EU state removing Soviet soldiers’ war graves – media  The publication is expected to spark particular interest in the West, given that it is based on the first-hand experience of Western war correspondents who were working in the field at the time. The view provided by these witnesses to the dramatic wartime events sharply contrasts with the revisionist take on World War II that has spread in the West over the past decades, the Fund noted.  “This English version of the book is particularly relevant, as it addresses readers both in the US and in Europe. These are original articles from leading newspapers and magazines in the Western world: Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and others,” it noted.

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[l] at 7/12/24 12:25pm
Brussels has gone after the platform over alleged “deceptive practices” X (formerly Twitter) is facing persecution by the European Union because it rejected Brussels’ demand to secretly censor opinions on the platform, its owner Elon Musk has revealed. The EU announced on Friday that it considered X in violation of its Digital Services Act (DSA) and intended to levy massive fines against the company unless it changed its practices. “The European Commission offered X an illegal secret deal: if we quietly censored speech without telling anyone, they would not fine us,” Musk wrote in response. “The other platforms accepted that deal. X did not.” “We look forward to a very public battle in court, so that the people of Europe can know the truth,” he added. Musk bought Twitter in October 2022, after voicing displeasure over widespread censorship on the social media platform. He has since unbanned most blocked accounts, including that of former President Donald Trump. When Musk announced “the bird is freed,” one of the responses came from Thierry Breton, the EU Commissioner for Internal Market.  “In Europe, the bird will fly by our rules,” Breton said, with a reference to the DSA. Read more No plans to restrict YouTube – Kremlin On Friday, Breton explained the European Commission’s move against Musk by arguing that X violates the EU’s “transparency requirements” by denying access to “researchers,” among other things. “Back in the day, BlueChecks used to mean trustworthy sources of information. Now with X, our preliminary view is that they deceive users and infringe the DSA,” Breton said. According to the Commission, allowing anyone to obtain verification in exchange for a subscription fee “negatively affects users’ ability to make free and informed decisions about the authenticity of the accounts and the content they interact with.” The Commission also objected that X does not maintain “a searchable and reliable advertisement repository” that would “allow for the required supervision and research into emerging risks.”  What most bothered the EU body was that X does not allow scraping its public data by “researchers” or grant access to its application programming interface (API), as DSA mandates. Mike Benz, a former Trump administration official, highlighted this to suggest the EU’s real motivation is to “use the DSA to force X to restaff the censorship squad fired when Elon took over.” He further alleged that people who present themselves as researchers are actually “censorship activities & political operatives.” Musk reposted Benz’s analysis with just one word of comment: “Exactly.” X is now expected to respond to the Commission in writing. If the EU upholds Breton’s preliminary findings, X could be fined “up to 6% of the total worldwide annual turnover” and ordered to address its “breach” under “enhanced supervision,” the body said.

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[l] at 7/12/24 11:20am
The EU’s chief diplomat recently admitted that there is a high level of support for Russia on the continent African nations are not looking to Russia because it is standing up to the West, but because Moscow treats them with appreciation and respect, Joe Mhlanga, founder and editor of Behind the News Network, told RT on Friday. The comments come after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell admitted his surprise this week at the high level of support for Russia among people in Africa. Borrell urged the bloc to engage in more information warfare on the continent to remedy the situation and make sure Africans have the “correct information.” “Africans are not supporting Russia or President Putin because they are fighting the West –  no, it’s the good deeds the Russians are doing for the African people,” Mhlanga said. “It’s the treatment that they get from Russia. It’s the manner in which they are received in Moscow.” According to Mhlanga, in contrast to Russia, the West “still looks at African people like they are stupid.” Read more Africans support Russia – EU’s Borrell “For the last 500 years [the West] has been in Africa, they’ve been oppressing Africans – and they thought that would last forever,” he said, adding that Africans consequently now “want nothing to do with the West.” “It’s time for Africans to look where they will be appreciated and accepted. Not where they will be used as experimental guinea pigs like the West has been doing to African people,” he said. On Thursday, speaking at the NATO Public Forum in Washington D.C., Borrell admitted that “in Africa, people support Putin” and stressed the need to “disseminate news and occupy cyberspace” in Africa. The EU is “very active” in that area, he said. Moscow has repeatedly maintained that African countries have the right to “choose their own path of development,” as well as their political and economic partners “depending on their own national interests.”

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[l] at 7/12/24 10:24am
Beijing has targeted drone manufacturers over sales to Taiwan Six American military industry enterprises have been blacklisted in China for participating in weapons sales to Taiwan, the foreign ministry in Beijing announced on Friday. “The US recently announced that it would sell weapons to the Taiwan region of China again,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that this “seriously violates the one-China principle,” interferes in the country’s internal affairs and harms China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In response, China will freeze all forms of property of Anduril, AEVEX Aerospace, LKD Aerospace, Maritime Tactical Systems, Pacific Rim Defense, and Pinnacle Technology may have in the country. Five executives of Anduril and AEVEX have also been sanctioned personally. The sanctions mean that no Chinese national or resident can do any business with the said companies and their employees will be denied visas to enter China, including Hong Kong and Macao. Read more China sanctions US defense giant over Taiwan supplies The six sanctioned companies mainly make drones – both flying and maritime – and control systems for them. Last month, Washington announced a deal to sell $360 million worth of drones and technology to Taipei.  Beijing has already sanctioned Lockheed Martin, one of the largest Pentagon contractors, over its role in the drone deal.  Chinese nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949, after the Communists emerged victorious in the civil war. Washington recognized the island’s government as the ‘Republic of China’ for the next three decades, until recognizing the People’s Republic of China in 1979. Even as it recognized the ‘one China’ principle, the US has continued to supply Taipei with weapons, ammunition and equipment to “deter” an “invasion” from the mainland. The US also maintains informal diplomatic and economic ties with the island, which is a major source of semiconductors and chips for Western markets. Beijing’s official policy is peaceful reintegration of Taiwan, though China has not ruled out using force in case the island declares independence.

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[l] at 7/12/24 10:05am
The US president has a history of offending his Russian counterpart in public statements US President Joe Biden has once again insulted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, labeling him a “murderous madman.” Speaking at a press briefing in Washington on Thursday, Biden hailed NATO as a bloc that made the world safer due to its collective defense clause, based on the principle “if they attack one of us they attack all of us.” He stated that those who did not believe in this got a “rude awakening” when Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. “When Putin invaded Ukraine, some of the oldest and deepest fears in Europe roared back to life because once again a murderous madman was on the march,” Biden stated. It’s not the first time that Biden has disparaged Putin in public speeches. At a campaign event in March, the US president called the Russian leader “a butcher,” again in connection with the Ukraine conflict. In February, Biden branded Putin a “crazy S.O.B.” At the time, Peskov said Americans should be ashamed of a leader who used such language. Following a series of embarrassing gaffes, Biden is facing increasing public scrutiny over his mental decline ahead of the fast-approaching US presidential election in November. On Thursday, he introduced Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky at a NATO event in Washington as “President Putin.” It was the latest instance in which Biden confused public figures. READ MORE: Biden confuses Zelensky with Putin (VIDEO) His bungling televised debate with rival Donald Trump last month, when Biden lost his train of thought and struggled to finish his sentences, resulted in a number of high-ranking Democrats and campaign donors urging the president to end his reelection campaign. Biden, however, has brushed off the concerns, insisting that he has the best chance of winning against Trump.

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[l] at 7/12/24 9:49am
Veterans of the Obama and Clinton administrations have reportedly formed a clandestine “anti-Biden network” A growing number of “very-connected” Democrats are scheming to get US President Joe Biden to withdraw from the election race, Axios reported on Friday, citing “members” of a committee. The group primarily includes veterans of the Obama and Clinton administrations, who are seeking to field a candidate they believe has a better chance of winning the November election. The two former presidents are apparently supporting the group by having kept mostly silent since they publicly offered support for Biden following his disastrous debate against Donald Trump last month. “Silence is a very loud form of speech. No one is saying ‘come hell or high water,’” said James Carville, a veteran political assistant and one of the key figures behind Bill Clinton’s campaign. The members of the clandestine group insist it has no actual leadership or benefactor behind it, describing it instead as a ‘network’ of like-minded individuals. “No one is more than one person away from everyone else,” an unnamed member of the group described as a “central player” told Axios. So far, the public campaign to pressure Biden into dropping out, launched by prominent elected Democrats and major party donors, has flopped and apparently produced an opposite effect, making the incumbent president adamant about his desire to win reelection. Read more Biden tells Congress he won’t quit “The Clinton diaspora is freaking the hell out. But all these people going on the record aren’t helping. All it seems to have done is cause the Bidens to dig in deeper,” an anonymous former official from the Clinton White House said. Still, it remains unclear whether the covert approach to the Biden problem will work either, given that the president has an overwhelming majority of Democratic delegates backing him for the nomination in August, a “veteran operative” member of the group admitted. They added that a decision to withdraw his candidacy can be taken only by Biden himself. “You need a psychiatrist more than a spin doctor,” he told Axios. The push to oust Biden from the race was prompted by his subpar performance during the first presidential debate in late June. The US president and his campaign have provided various excuses for the debacle, including that he had a cold, dismissing concerns over the state of his health. Over the past two weeks, Biden has repeatedly said he will not drop out of the race, insisting that he is the only person fit to beat Trump in the upcoming election.

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[l] at 7/12/24 9:18am
The left-wing alliance that took the most seats in the recent parliamentary elections has promised to raise taxes on the rich Many of France’s most wealthy residents may consider leaving the country over concern about political instability and the prospect of higher taxes in light of the recent parliamentary election, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing wealth managers. The recent vote left no party with an absolute majority, resulting in a hung parliament, but a left-wing alliance took the most seats. Several wealth advisers said many of their panicking clients had already begun transferring capital abroad and started to look into possible expatriation. Most are worried that, while neither the far-right nor far-left won the election outright, some of the parties’ campaign proposals, such as higher taxes, could soon become law. “We have new clients like top executives who are asking what they can do to shield themselves. Following Brexit there was an influx of bankers into France, but these high-earners will leave because they won’t want to pay more taxes,” Xenia Legendre, a Paris-based managing partner at Hogan Lovells law firm, told the news outlet. The left-wing New Popular Front (NFP), which won the most seats in the election, promised to tax the super profits of companies and reinstate a wealth tax on the rich. Such legislation would run counter to the policies put in place by President Emmanuel Macron, which are considered more friendly to the wealthy and even earned him the nickname “president of the rich.” Read more Who are the real winners of the French parliamentary elections? “People who can leave will leave if extreme policies are adopted. France would no longer be attractive for foreigners, and the rich would go,” Emmanuel Angelier, head of wealth management firm La Financiere d’Orion, predicted. According to Julien Magitteri, a private wealth adviser at Barnes Family Office by Côme, some people started moving capital out of France even before the second round of voting, largely to countries such as Switzerland and Luxembourg. Most wealth managers say that places such as Italy, Dubai, Singapore, and the US are also among the destinations being considered by many of France’s top earners. France is home to some of the world’s richest people, including Bernard Arnault, Europe’s richest man and head of the luxury goods company LVMH; Francoise Bettencourt Meyers of the beauty empire L’Oréal, considered the richest woman in the world; and the Wertheimer brothers, who control the Parisian fashion house Chanel. According to a poll conducted by the agency Elabe earlier this week, seven out of ten French are dissatisfied with the results of the elections and the composition of the new National Assembly, saying that the country is now “ungovernable.” For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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[l] at 7/12/24 5:25am
Kiev has been tightening restrictions on the use of the Russian language, despite it being the native tongue of many Ukrainians Ukrainian children don’t know their official state language well enough because they’re still using Russian in their daily lives, Kiev’s Commissioner for the Protection of the State Language Taras Kremin has complained, urging citizens to report violations of language restrictions. The commissioner said there are also many violations being recorded in the sphere of education, as well as on the internet and in the service industry. He cited a recent study that suggested one-third of children in some Ukrainian regions prefer to speak Russian. “A child outside of school uses services, visits shopping and catering establishments, sees external advertising and signboards in non-state language, hears non-state at home,” Kremin wrote on Facebook on Thursday. He suggested that many schoolchildren were therefore prone to bilingualism and do not have sufficient knowledge of the Ukrainian language. Kremin said Kiev should strengthen control over compliance with the law on state language, which defines Ukrainian as the only language approved for education, and called on citizens to be more involved in recording and reporting violations of the law. Read more Three EU nations persecuting Russian speakers – Moscow Since gaining its independence in 1991, Ukraine has largely been a bilingual nation, with most citizens able to speak or understand both Russian and Ukrainian, particularly in the eastern half of the country. After the 2014 US-backed coup in Kiev, however, Ukraine’s new authorities abolished Russian as an official regional language and have adopted policies aimed at suppressing and outlawing it, arguing that it represents a threat to national unity and security.  In 2019, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law requiring Ukrainian to be used exclusively in nearly all aspects of public life, including education, entertainment, politics, business and the service industry, obliging all Ukrainian citizens to know the language. It also requires that 90% of TV and film content produced in the country be made in Ukrainian. From July 17, the use of the Russian language in Ukrainian media will be virtually outlawed, Kremen has said. This forced Ukrainization was one of the reasons why Russian-speaking residents living in the east of the country rejected the post-coup authorities in Kiev in 2014. Many of these regions, namely the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, have since joined Russia after overwhelmingly voting to do so in public referendums in 2022. Kremin, however, has denied that the term ‘Russian-speaking’ could be applied to any Ukrainian citizens, stating in an interview last year that the word is a “marker introduced by Russian ideology,” and declaring that “everyone in the country must have command of the Ukrainian language.”

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