COMING UP SHORT THIS MONTH.
Thought for the day
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always." -- Mahatma Gandhi
The sabotage of the Nord Stream (NS) and Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipelines in the Baltic Sea has ominously propelled ‘Disaster Capitalism’ to a whole new, toxic level.
This episode of Hybrid Industrial/Commercial War, in the form of a terror attack against energy infrastructure in international waters signals the absolute collapse of international law, drowned by a “our way or the highway”, “rules-based”, order.
The attack on both pipelines consisted of multiple explosive charges detonated in separate branches close to the Danish island of Bornholm, but in international waters.
That was a sophisticated operation, carried out in stealth in the shallow depth of the Danish straits. That would in principle rule out submarines (ships entering the Baltic are limited to a draught of 15 meters). As for prospective “invisible” vessels, these could only loiter around with permission from Copenhagen – as the waters around Borholm are crammed with sensors, reflecting fear of incursion by Russian submarines.
Swedish seismologists registered two underwater explosions on Monday – one of them estimated at 100 kg of TNT. Yet as much as 700 kg may have been used to blow up three separate pipeline nodes. Such amount could not have possibly been delivered in just one trip by underwater drones currently available in neighboring nations.
The pressure on the pipelines dropped exponentially. The pipes are now filled with seawater.
The United States has carried out multiple surveillance flights this week around Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave located on the Baltic Sea coast. The American spy planes are likely assessing Moscow’s nuclear weapons activity as the two sides step up threats and warnings over the ongoing war in Ukraine.
During the past week, at least three Boeing RC-135s have circled Kaliningrad – a small piece of land sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland – according to data collected by flight tracking site RadarBox.
The territory has become a potential flashpoint in recent months, as members of the US-led military bloc have threatened to cut it off from mainland Russia, with which it shares no border.
Earlier this year, NATO announced that it would welcome Finland and Sweden into the alliance. Moscow warned it could increase its military presence in the region as a response to any future strategic weapons deployments within the territory of new members.
Banks in Turkey will no longer accept the Russian Mir payment system, as reported by the Turkish NTV broadcaster on Wednesday, 28 September.
According to a person speaking on behalf of the Russian Kremlin, this decision is due to weeks of “unprecedented pressure” exercised by the United States.
“It’s clear that banks and economic operators are under the strongest possible pressure from the United States, and they are threatened with secondary sanctions on the banking system,” the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov criticized Washington for its measures.
Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi, TC Ziraat Bankasi, and Turkiye Halk Bankasi were the last three banks to receive the Russian Mir bank cards. The report says that the three banks will still process the ongoing payments but will pull out of the system.
Hungary cannot support the European Union's planned eighth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine if those contain energy sanctions, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday.
The EU executive proposed on Wednesday fresh sanctions against Russia, including tighter trade restrictions, more individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.
The proposed sanctions fall short of harder-hitting measures, including a ban on importing Russian diamonds, sought by Russia hawks Poland and the three Baltic countries.
But EU states need unanimity to impose sanctions and Orban has been a vocal critic, saying on Monday that the EU sanctions have "backfired", driving up energy prices and dealing a blow to European economies.
Webmaster addition: "Too late! Now Russia can't send you any energy, nyah, nyah, nyah!!" -- Official White Horse Souse
Rockets have landed in Baghdad’s Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign missions, for the second day in a row, breaking weeks of calm.
No one has claimed responsibility for the four missiles fired from the east of the capital on Thursday morning, and there were no reported casualties, local police officers said.
The resignations of the 73 MPs of the Sadrist bloc were illegal and it was not within the Iraqi parliament speaker’s authority to authorise them, the parliament's legal advisor has ruled.
According to a letter sent to parliament by legal advisor Muhammad al-Ghazi, and seen by Middle East Eye, the MPs’ resignations did not follow the necessary processes, therefore the Sadrists are still MPs.
Parliament needs to conduct technical and legal discussions and put the resignations to a vote, Ghazi says, “because of its impact on the real representation of the House of Representatives”.
Two Sadrist leaders welcomed the news and told MEE that the movement’s return to parliament has become a necessity and inevitable reality, insisting there was no alternative to ending Iraq’s political crisis than this.
The undersea blasts on Monday, which blew up Nord Stream pipelines from Russia to Germany, were caused by “highly effective explosive devices” and could only have been carried out by “state actors,” German news weekly Der Spiegel reported Thursday, citing sources within the German government and security services.
The blasts that raptured the Baltic Sea pipelines off the coast of Denmark were “comparable to that of 500 kilograms of TNT,” Der Spiegel added.
The damage was apparently caused by military-grade explosives, initial evidence suggests. “One of the explosions measured 2.3 on the Richter scale, which Danish experts described as in line with a powerful bomb from the second world war,” The Guardian newspaper reported.
The US on Thursday announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports in the latest sign that a revival of the Iran nuclear deal is unlikely.
The State Department announced sanctions on two Chinese-based firms accused of trading Iranian oil, while the Treasury Department designated several entities based in Hong Kong, Iran, India, and the UAE.
The Treasury Department said that the targeted entities were “involved in the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products to end users in South and East Asia.”
Iran has found some relief from US sanctions by stepping up oil sales to East Asia, and Washington has been looking to impede those deals. The sanctions are an example of how the Biden administration has escalated the so-called “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran that was started under President Trump.
That war, hidden behind the U.S. created Ukraine crisis, is designed to destroy Europe’s manufacturing advantage compared to the U.S. It is more likely though to strengthen the economic position of China and other Asian economies.
I have argued that Germany must open the Nord Stream II pipeline which can bring Russian natural gas to Germany without crossing other countries’ territory. It must also allow Siemens to repair the defect Nord Stream I compressors. It is in fact inevitable if German’s industry is to survive.
Others have come to similar conclusion and decided to sabotage the pipelines to make their re-opening impossible:
Three offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system have sustained "unprecedented" damage in one day, Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday in what one German official has suggested is a "targeted attack”. Nord Stream 2 suffered a gas leak which was then followed by a drop of pressure on Nord Stream 1.
The company also said that it was impossible to estimate when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.
The simultaneous sub sea damage to three pipelines is obviously not an accident.
A German economy official told Tagesspiegel: "We can’t imagine a scenario that isn’t a targeted attack."
They added: "Everything speaks against a coincidence."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has increased its investment in digital ID projects through part of a $1.27 billion package to support “global health and development projects.” Part of the funding, $200 million, will go to digital public infrastructure, including civil registry databases and digital ID.
The announcement followed the annual “Goalkeepers Report,” an annual assessment report on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SGD). The UN set a goal (goal 16.9) for a global legal identity by 2030, and the report said that the world will not make that deadline. A podcast is available on the plans here.
To achieve that goal, digital identity programs are supposedly needed.
The 2019 Goalkeepers Report touted biometrics as one of the technologies needed for the equitable redistribution of resources in developing nations.
The $200 million will also support data sharing systems and interoperable payments systems.
The CIA used hundreds of websites for covert communications that were severely flawed and could have been identified by even an “amateur sleuth”, according to security researchers.
The flaws reportedly led to the death of more than two dozen US sources in China in 2011 and 2012 and also reportedly led Iran to execute or imprison other CIA assets.
The new research was conducted by security experts at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which started investigating the matter after it received a tip from reporter Joel Schectmann at Reuters.
The group said it was not publishing a full detailed technical report of its findings to avoid putting CIA assets or employees at risk. But its limited findings raise serious doubts about the intelligence agency’s handling of safety measures.
The Senate is considering increasing the Pentagon’s budget to $850 billion. Think tanks are key advisers to the Senate on such increases — and a look at those think tanks’ funding reveals they’re all getting money from weapons manufacturers.
The Israeli army has green-lighted the use of armed drones to carry out assassinations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported on Thursday.
Israeli Army Chief Aviv Kochavi gave his approval to use the armed drones for assassinations and “to carry out strikes should armed gunmen be identified as posing imminent threats to the troops,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
The leaders and most of the news media in the U.S. seem to believe that Washington’s foreign policy over the past several decades has been a success and benefitted both the United States and the world. That assumption wasn’t really true even during the Cold War, although that confrontation eventually resulted in the peaceful demise of America’s nasty totalitarian adversary. There was plenty of collateral damage along the way, with the suffering caused by Washington’s conduct in Vietnam and Afghanistan being the most glaring examples.
The performance of U.S. leaders after the Cold War has been even worse. An array of disruptive, bloody tragedies—most notably those in the Balkans, Afghanistan (again), Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen—mark Uncle Sam’s global trail of wreckage. The Biden administration’s decision to use Ukraine as a pawn in Washington’s power struggle with Russia is fast becoming the latest example.
Very few policymakers even concede that Washington’s overseas military adventures often have not turned out as planned. The news media, which is supposed to serve as the public’s watchdog, have routinely ignored or excused America's foreign-policy disasters. Instead, when one intervention fails, they simply move on to lobby for the next crusade pushed by U.S. leaders. Consider how few news accounts now deal with the ongoing violence and chaos in places such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen, even though Washington was a major contributor to all of those tragedies. Paul Poast, a scholar with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, aptly describes the conflict in Syria as America’s “forgotten war.” “That the war in Syria has become the “forgotten war,” he observes, “points to a more disturbing trend in U.S. foreign policy: The United States is so engaged in wars and interventions around the world that a conflict involving the U.S. military that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians does not even register with the American public anymore.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said the "unprecedented sabotage" against the Nord Stream gas pipelines was "an act of international terrorism," the Kremlin said in a statement.
Putin made the remarks in phone call with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan. He also said it was necessary to fulfil an internationally-brokered deal on Ukrainian grain exports, including the removal of barriers for Russian food and fertilizer supplies to the global markets, the Kremlin said.
Here’s the curious thing: since at least the Vietnam War era of the 1960s and early 1970s, the United States has been almost continuously at war. Certain of those conflicts like the Vietnam War itself and those in Iraq and Afghanistan in this century are still remembered by many of us. Honestly, though, who remembers Grenada or Panama or the first Gulf War or even the struggle against ISIS, the endless (still ongoing) bombing of Somalia, and this country’s military adventures in Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere across the Greater Middle East and Northern Africa? And doubtless, I’m forgetting some conflicts myself. Oh, yes, what about the 1999 bombing of Serbia? So it goes, or at least has gone, for more than half a century.
As Stan Cox pointed out at TomDispatch recently, the U.S. military, as the largest institutional user of petroleum in the world today, now seems at war not just with other countries or terror movements of various sorts, but with the planet itself. And don’t forget those 750 bases our military occupies on every continent except Antarctica or the staggering Pentagon and national security budgets that have continued to fund all of the above (and so little else).
An FBI whistleblower claimed in a tell-all interview released Monday that the bureau has become hopelessly politicized and corrupt beyond repair under Joe Biden’s watch.
Former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo sat down with Turning Point USA for a wide-ranging 47-minute interview breaking down how America’s most powerful law enforcement agency has slowly been taken over by communists for decades to undermine American civil liberties.
“The fact that there’s been zero purging inside the government except patriots being purged in the last twenty years, that should give you an idea of the state of the FBI. How do you destroy the FBI? You make a commie the director,” Guandolo explained.
A shocking video shows a mother in Quincy, Massachusetts, holding down a 12-year-old girl so that her daughter could attack her.
The mother, who is black, can be heard in the videos calling the child a “dumb white ho.”
The FBI is purging ‘conservative’ employees and retaliating against bureau whistleblowers, according to Congressman Jim Jordan (OH).
At least 14 FBI whistleblowers have gone to Rep. Jordan with allegations of misconduct and abuse within the bureau under Christopher Wray’s leadership.
Rep. Jordan received new information about retaliation against at least one whistleblower and a ‘purge’ of conservative employees.
Jim Jordan said security clearances of conservative employees are being revoked as punishment.
Michigan State University trustees are set to vote on a resolution Friday that would seemingly put vendors on notice: Support the political agenda of Democratic board members, or forget about doing business with the college.
Passage will trigger an explosive feud with the Republican-controlled Legislature, which holds MSU’s purse strings.
The “Accountability of University Vendors Funding Voter Suppression” resolution, sponsored by Democratic Trustees Rema Vassar and Kelly Tebay, is specifically aimed at the Secure Mi Vote initiative, which would enact Voter ID requirements and other Republican-backed election integrity measures.
Since being named special counsel in October 2020, John Durham has investigated or indicted several unscrupulous anti-Trump informants. But he has spared the FBI agents who handled them, raising suspicions he's letting investigators off the hook in his waning investigation of misconduct in the Russiagate probe.
In recent court filings, Durham has portrayed the G-men as naive recipients of bad information, tricked into opening improper investigations targeting Donald Trump and obtaining invalid warrants to spy on one of his advisers.
But as the cases against the informants have gone to trial, defense lawyers have revealed evidence that cuts against that narrative. FBI investigators look less like guileless victims and more like willing partners in the fraudulent schemes Durham has brought to light.
Notwithstanding his reputation as a tough, intrepid prosecutor, Durham has made excuses for the misconduct of FBI agents, providing them a ready-made defense against any possible future prosecution, according to legal experts.
“In so many of the little places of everyday life in which life is lived out, somehow democracy doesn't exist. And one of the creeping hands of totalitarianism running through the democracy is the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Because why does the FBI do all this? To scare the hell out of people… They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things.”—Howard Zinn, historian
That is how the government plans to get rid of activists and dissidents who stand in its way.
This has always been the modus operandi of the FBI (more aptly referred to as the Federal Bureau of Intimidation): muzzle anti-government sentiment, harass activists, and terrorize Americans into compliance.
Indeed, the FBI has a long history of persecuting, prosecuting and generally harassing activists, politicians, and cultural figures.
Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, the FBI’s targets were civil rights activists, those suspected of having Communist ties, and anti-war activists. In more recent decades, the FBI has expanded its reach to target so-called domestic extremists, environmental activists, and those who oppose the police state.
The Federal Reserve has taken a major step in the direction of facilitating an ESG compliant monetary network that effectively acts as a parallel system to that of the Chinese Communist Party’s infamous social credit scoring system.
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school, is giving members of his profession heart palpitations.
Goldfarb, 78, says new “anti-racism” med school policies are lowering standards, reducing students to the color of their skin and corrupting medicine in general — much to the outrage of his fellow faculty members.
“I understand we need to give people more opportunities,” Goldfarb, a trained nephrologist, told The Post. “But there are some things you can’t sacrifice. This focus on diversity means we’re going to take someone with a certain skin color because we think they’re OK, that they can do the work. But we’re not going to look for the best and the brightest. We’re going to look for people who are just OK to make sure we have the right mixture of ethnic groups in our medical schools.”
Ukrainian women soldiers made it to the US Capital to meet American politicians, thank them for their money, share unconfirmed stories of atrocities, and ask for more money. They even brought along injured soldiers from the neo-Nazi Azov battalion.
Update for 5:30 p.m. EDT on Sept. 29: NASA and SpaceX announced today that they're conducting a feasibility study about potentially using a Dragon spacecraft to boost the orbit of, and also possibly service, the Hubble Space Telescope. Read our story about the Dragon-Hubble study here. You can listen to the press conference and announcement above.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was blasted for comparing free speech online to "weapons of war" in a recent speech to the U.N. that critics called "authoritarian."
At the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, Ardern announced a new initiative "to help improve research and understanding of how a person’s online experiences are curated by automated processes," saying the work, done in partnership with companies and non-profits, will be "important in understanding more about mis- and disinformation online - A challenge that we must as leaders address."
The prime minister acknowledged that calling to regulate speech online in any way can seem problematic.