I am a bit burned out and I need time to recuperate. Also, I have some other things I need to work on, including developing some other revenue…
"Are we civilized, or merely domesticated?" -- Michael Rivero
A donor with deep ties to Ukraine loaned Joe Biden’s younger brother half-a-million dollars at the same time the then-vice president oversaw U.S. policy toward the country, according to public records reviewed by POLITICO.
The 2015 loan came as Biden’s brother faced financial difficulties related to his acquisition of a multimillion-dollar vacation home, nicknamed “the Biden Bungalow,” in South Florida.
There is no indication that the loan influenced Joe Biden’s official actions, but it furthers a decades-long pattern, detailed in a POLITICO investigation earlier this month, by which relatives of the former vice president have leaned on his political allies for money and otherwise benefited financially from the Biden name.
Wilmington's University and Whist Club quickly settled a lawsuit claiming that as the pandemic raged last summer, employees were made to work without pay and instructed to seek unemployment benefits from the state.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in January on behalf of two former managers at the club, was settled earlier this month.
It named the club and its owner, John Hynansky, the multimillionaire founder of the Winner Group auto dealerships and owner of one of the largest auto importers in Ukraine, as defendants. Jeffrey Weiner, an attorney representing Hynansky and the club, declined to comment.
Ron Poliquin, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs, said the settlement bars him from discussing the lawsuit.
Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts
Even though there is as of now not much prospect of the conflict in Ukraine coming to an end (and US interests actually profit from making it perpetual), there is much talk already about “rebuilding” the country. In a November video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed it would take no less than $1 trillion to rebuild it.
It is strange to talk about rebuilding anything when the West itself rejects any peace plan, but, be it as it may, under such a “reconstruction” banner, lots of cash have been flowing into Ukraine, a nation infamous for being Europe’s most corrupt country. Much the same way a large part of the weaponry sent to Kiev has been ending up in Africa and the Middle East, through black markets, (and, in fact the Pentagon could not account for billions worth of arms), one could only suspect from the very beginning that something similar may occur when it comes to huge amounts of cash. By December 2022, the total amount of US dollars sent there totaled about $68 billion or even more, and the funds should keep coming this year.
According to Ukraine’s media reports, the Ukrainian investment company Dragon Capital and American multinational investment company BlackRock are involved in shady businesses. US giant BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, gained a strong foothold in the country in November upon signing a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Economy on marshaling funding aimed at the nation’s reconstruction. The company has some history: it was the target of accusations pertaining to corruption and environmental damage in Mexico, and its CEO, Larry Fink, has been under a lot of controversy since December.
Property in Crimea, Russia owned by former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk will be sold at an auction, the region’s governor, Sergey Aksyonov, said on Monday.
Aksyonov stated that the authorities were devising a legal framework for the measure and stressed that the assets of owners with “proven destructive activities” against the Russian state would be targeted.
“As for the auction, there will be many interesting lots … including resorts and manufacturing companies,” he told Russia 24. He did not go into details, but added that properties “owned by Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko, and others” would be sold.
The governor confirmed that the penthouse belonging to current Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky would be auctioned off as well. He added that officials chose to put the assets up for auction “not out of spite,” but because it was “only in the interests of [Russia] and Crimea, and their security.”
Kiev’s continuing attacks on Russian soil are aimed at provoking a “mirror response” from Moscow, the president has said
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will approve the complete return of Iran to the oil market, when sanctions against its oil industry are lifted, OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais said in an interview with Iranian agency Shana and the Iran Petroleum magazine.
"Indeed, we welcome the return of Iran’s oil production in the future, when sanctions are lifted. We look forward to that day," he said.
Al Ghais also noted that the oil market and demand for it are growing, adding that Iran is a responsible member of the organization.
Besides, Iran is one of the founders of OPEC and a "key player" on the global market, the secretary general said. However, sanctions seriously limit Iran’s production capacities, but, despite this fact, Tehran continues to play a major role in ensuring stable and reliable oil supplies, investing in both exploration and oil refining, as well as in petrochemistry.
Under former US President Donald Trump, the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. In November that year, sanctions against Iran, including restrictions on oil purchases, were completely reimposed, however, the US authorities issued temporary permissions to a series of countries to keep buying oil from Tehran. The permissions expired in May 2019 and were not extended.
More than 20 Hungarians from NATO's KFOR contingent were injured in clashes in the north of the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo, seven of them seriously, Hungarian Defense Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said.
Szalay-Bobrovniczky also said the injured Hungarian soldiers were being airlifted to Hungary for treatment.
"Hungarian soldiers are part of the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, KFOR. Soldiers of the Hungarian army participating in the NATO peacekeeping forces were given the task of dispersing the crowd in the locality of Zvecan in Kosovo. Soldiers of different nationalities were also injured in the clash. According to information available at the moment, among them there are more than 20 Hungarian soldiers, seven of whom were [injured] seriously, but their condition is stable," Szalay-Bobrovniczky wrote on Facebook*.
After the drone attack on the Kremlin in Moscow earlier this month, UAV launches have been banned in Moscow and in many parts of the country.
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said several buildings in the Russian capital were slightly damaged this morning in a drone attack.
"In the early hours of this morning, a UAV attack caused minor damage to several buildings. No one has been seriously injured. All emergency services in the city are on the scene. Please only trust official sources of information and do not spread unverified information," Sobyanin said.
The Northern Fleet’s anti-submarine warfare ships practiced hunting down and destroying a notional enemy’s submarines during drills in the Barents Sea, the Fleet’s press office reported on Monday.
"A formation of anti-submarine ships from the Kola Flotilla of the Northern Fleet’s Combined Arms Forces employed anti-submarine warfare armaments in the Barents Sea during a scheduled tactical exercise. The ships’ combat teams practiced the objectives of hunting down and tracking a submerged enemy and conducted fire by a practice (training) torpedo against a simulated underwater target," the press office said in a statement.
The drills were held in a force-on-force format. One party involved a naval strike force comprising the large anti-submarine warfare ships Severomorsk, Vice Admiral Kulakov and Admiral Levchenko and the other party was made up of a nuclear-powered submarine and a diesel sub, it said.
"The firing passed successfully and the submerged enemy was notionally destroyed. After the firing, the surfaced torpedoes were found and retrieved from the water by a torpedo recovery boat, which provided support for the exercise," the Fleet’s press office added.
Russian forces delivered a strike by high-precision weapons against Ukrainian military airfields, destroying enemy command posts, aircraft, armament and ammunition depots in the past day during the special military operation in Ukraine, Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov reported on Monday.
"At night, Russian forces delivered a multiple strike by air-launched long-range precision weapons against enemy facilities at airfields. The goal of the strike was achieved. All the designated sites were destroyed. The strike wiped out Ukrainian command and radar posts, aircraft, armament and ammunition depots," the spokesman said.
Washinton sources say the attack was done at the request of a US Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham who recently called for the killing of all Russians.
Attacks were carried out by al Nusra/al Qaeda, by units with embedded US Navy SEALs using weapons supplied through US contractor Google Idea Groups in Hatay using transporttion supplied by the White Helmets.
American reconnaissance aircraft have been tracked over Latakia for the past 2 days and are believed to have guided the attack using artillery rockets modified to perform as HYMARS.
Russian news websites and accounts revealed: Colonel Obichvesti, commander of the Russian Special Forces in Syria, lost his life as a result of an unknown shooting at the central operations room in the town of “Al-Jub al-Ahmar” in the countryside of the city of #Latakia
At the G7 summit in Hiroshima, much was talking about “de-risking” from China – which seems to be the new preferred terminology. The summit joint statement said:
“we are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognise that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying.”
In the same spirit, US President Joe Biden, on May 21, stated: “we’re not looking to decouple from China, we’re looking to de-risk and diversify our relationship with [it].” The US state department describes “de-risking” somewhat more clearly as “the phenomenon of financial institutions terminating or restricting business relationships with clients or categories of clients to avoid, rather than manage, risk.”
Journalists Keith Johnson and Robbie Gramer in turn, writing for Foreign Policy, define de-risking this way:
“decoupling refers to the deliberate dismantling and eventual re-creation elsewhere of some of the sprawling cross-border supply chains that have defined globalization and especially the U.S.-China relationship in recent decades.”
The State Department has refused to say if it’s engaging with the Ukrainian government over American citizen Gonzalo Lira, who was detained by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) due to his political views on the conflict with Russia.
Lira has a popular YouTube channel and a large following on Twitter and Telegram. He is also a writer who has contributed to several media outlets, including Business Insider. Lira was born in California and is a dual citizen of the US and Chile and had been living in Kharkiv, Ukraine, throughout the war.
Lira is a critic of the Ukrainian government and was arrested by the SBU on charges of justifying the Russian invasion. “After the start of the full-scale invasion, the blogger was one of the first to support the Russian invaders and glorify their war crimes,” the SBU said in a press release referring to Lira.
The SBU also accused Lira of “discrediting the top military and political leadership and the Defense Forces of our state.” He was charged under sections 2 and 3 of Article 436-2 of Ukraine’s criminal code, which outlaws the “distribution of materials” that justify Russia’s actions going back to 2014.
Insurance company Lloyd’s of London has announced its exit from a net-zero alliance for insurers - the sixth such organization to have pulled out from the initiative within a week.
The Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA), convened by the United Nations, seeks to commit group members, composed of the world’s leading insurers and reinsurers, to fighting climate change. As part of this, members have to transition their insurance and reinsurance underwriting portfolios to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. On Friday, Lloyd’s of London quit the NZIA. This took the total number of members who have quit NZIA this week alone to six, which represents a fifth of the organization’s total of 30 members. Since March, a total of 10 members have quit NZIA.
The exodus of major insurance companies has raised questions about NZIA’s viability. None of the six firms that quit this week have made it clear why they left the initiative.
The insurance firms are said to have decided to pull out due to concerns about getting embroiled in disputes about net-zero initiatives in the United States. On May 15, attorneys generals from 23 American states sent a letter to 28 insurance companies asking for information about potential violations of antitrust laws.
Nvidia continues to push forward in the race to develop artificial intelligence (AI) tools and applications as the company revealed plans to release more AI products.
Speaking at the Computex show in Taiwan on May 28, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled a new AI supercomputer platform called DGX GH200. The supercomputer’s primary purpose is to aid tech companies in developing successors to the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT, according to Huang.
Big Tech firms such as Microsoft, Meta and Google’s Alphabet are anticipated to be among some of the pioneering users of the supercomputer equipment.
Huang announced a new service called Nvidia ACE for Games, which targets the video game industry. ACE will utilize AI to help give background characters in games more character.
Several progressive lawmakers, including Representative Cori Bush (D-MO), have called for the United States to pay reparations to black people amounting to $14 trillion in their Reparations NOW resolution.
This call has been echoed by several cities, including Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Asheville, North Carolina, which have commissioned reparations pilot programs. However, these efforts have been met with criticism from conservatives who view them as a "bait and switch" and an attempt to "dig into the history."
Princeton professor Dr. Carol Swain has cautioned Black Americans against believing that the Democrats will come up with a policy that will solve all their problems. She has advised them to look at the people making these promises and their track record of delivering on such promises.
According to Swain, the Democrats see reparations as a way to get Black Americans excited about the 2024 election, believing that electing a Democrat president will push it through Congress. However, Swain believes that the Democrats promise the moon but deliver nothing, and it's more of the same.
Itamar Ben-Gvir’s second visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as Israel’s national security minister on May 21 represents a dangerous mix of religion and politics.
Ben-Gvir was seen standing and reading off his phone, apparently in prayer. Such an act would be forbidden under the current “status quo” governing Al-Aqsa, referred to as the Temple Mount or Har Habayit by Jews, even though a small group of Orthodox Jews is increasingly finding ways to pray on the holy site.
Israeli soldiers broke into a Palestinian elementary school in Beitunia, near Ramallah, and prevented students and teachers from leaving it, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Local sources told WAFA that Israeli occupation forces stormed the Al-Kurom elementary school and held Palestinian students and teachers at gunpoint, threatening to shoot whoever tried to leave the school.
Israel’s attacks on Palestinian education are a daily routine in the occupied West Bank. These include Isreali military raids in schools, harassment, arrest, and assault of children.
The New York Times on Sunday published a piece seeking to divine the motives of Republican opponents of escalation in Ukraine, such as Senators J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley, and Representatives Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna. The upshot was that these figures are beholden to a blinkered America First-ism that calls for “retreating from the rest of the world,” as Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a pro-war Democrat, told the paper.
So far, so humdrum. But one notable bit was the comparison between this “loud GOP minority,” as the headline framed Vance et al., and Rep. Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who in 2001 cast the lone vote against authorizing President George W. Bush to take military action after 9/11. That vote, Gaetz has suggested, makes Lee a “folk hero.” But the Times and Lee herself were quick to dash any parallels between today’s antiwar Republicans and the progressive dissidents of yesteryear.
Lee—who indeed showed tremendous courage and prescience in opposing the disastrous post-9/11 wars—told the paper that in the Ukraine war, “we see a dictatorship invading a democracy. And we need to be on the side of democracy. Whenever you see innocent people being killed by a war criminal, you want to do what you can to support them.” Lee has voted with her party and most Republicans in favor of some military aid for Kiev, though in other cases she has declined to go along.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, designed to ferry astronauts to the moon, has been reportedly found by an audit to be $6 billion over budget and six years behind its original schedule.
Engadget reports that a recent audit has found that NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which is intended to transport astronauts to the moon, is $6 billion over budget and six years behind schedule.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba published a live video on Facebook this weekend defending the Chinese Communist Party from allegations that a special delegation from Beijing that visited Kyiv this month pressured Ukraine to cede occupied territories to Russia.
Kuleba – who met personally with the delegation and its leader, former Chinese ambassador to Russia Li Hui – said that, following a report accusing China of fighting for Russian interests published in the Wall Street Journal, he reached out to other foreign diplomats who met with the delegation and could not find any to confirm the story.
Kuleba’s defense of China is the latest in a string of compliments and defenses out of the Ukrainian government backing China, which President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly and enthusiastically encouraged to meddle in the conflict. Zelensky has repeatedly urged genocidal Chinese dictator Xi Jinping to speak with him – which Xi did in April – and “Chinese businesses” to rebuild the war-torn regions of Ukraine once the conflict ends. Ukraine is a member of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), its global debt trap program to erode the sovereignty of poorer nations, and has not vocalized any significant condemnation of the Communist Party’s human rights atrocities and genocide of the indigenous communities of occupied East Turkistan.
Comedy legend John Cleese says he refuses to remove the famous “Loretta” transgender scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian for the stage adaptation of the classic film.
On social media last Thursday, Cleese said that a journalist recently spread rumors that he would be removing the famous scene from all future adaptations of the film.
“A few days ago I spoke to an audience outside London. I told them I was adapting the Life of Brian so that we could do it as a stage show (NOT a musical ). I said that we’d had a table reading of the latest draft in NYC a year ago and that all the actors – several of them Tony winners – had advised me strongly to cut the Loretta scene. I have, of course, no intention of doing so,” he tweeted.
‘So someone in the audience had called a journalist and misreported me. Amazingly none of the British media called to check,” he added.
Cleese also clarified that he would not be cutting the song “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life” from the stage adaptation.
Following rising tensions between Kosovar authorities and the local Serb minority, NATO forces based on the territory clashed with Serb demonstrators in the Serb majority town of Zvecan on May 29. Serbian sources reported that Serb minority demonstrators staging a sit down protest outside municipal buildings were confronted by heavily armed members of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR), who surrounded the demonstrators throwing threw stun grenades and tear gas into the crowd. This provoked retaliation with rocks, after which NATO troops escalated using batons and rubber bullets. 50 protesters were hospitalised as a result of the clashes, while 25 NATO personnel were injured. Serb citizens had launched the sit in to prevent officials from the Albanian ethnic majority from taking office, after elections had been boycotted by the Serb population as illegitimate. Kosovo is recognised under the United Nations and by its leading non Western members states as part of Serbia, although the territory moved to secede in 2009 with Belgrade coming under intensive Western pressure to recognise its separation. Pressure from NATO members on the country escalated further from 2022, with Belgrade pressed to support the ongoing Western war effort against Russia including through imposing economic sanctions and arming Ukraine - which it has so far refused.
The Soviet Union, and now Russia, have long worked on the development of twin concepts for the detection and assured destruction of high-value targets in near-real time. The Reconnaissance Strike Complex (разведивательно-ударный комплех-RYK) was designed for the coordinated employment of high-precision, long-range weapons linked to real-time intelligence data and precise targeting provided to a fused intelligence and fire-direction center. The RYK functioned at operational depths using surface-to-surface missile systems and aircraft-delivered “smart” munitions. The Reconnaissance Fire Complex (разведивательно-огновой комплех ROK) was the tactical equivalent. It linked intelligence data, precise targeting, a fire-direction center and tactical artillery to destroy high-value targets in near-real time. The Soviets were making good progress in development of both systems before the Soviet Union collapsed. After a period of chaos and adjustment, Russia is back on track and modernizing her armed forces. Part of that modernization is the fielding of a functioning and renamed reconnaissance strike system and reconnaissance fire system. The reconnaissance fire system (разведивательнфая-огновая система ROС) has now been successfully deployed and battle tested and is part of Russian Field Artillery capabilities. In the words of Deputy Chief of Staff of Ground Forces, Major GeneralVadim Marusin, “Today the cycle (reconnaissance -- engagement) takes literally 10 seconds.”
Russia fired a barrage of missiles at Kyiv on Monday sending panicked residents running for shelter in an unusual daytime attack on the Ukrainian capital following overnight strikes.
A series of explosions rang out in Kyiv on Monday as Russia targeted the city for the second time in 24 hours.
AFP journalists heard at least 10 explosions from around 11:10 am local time (0810 GMT) in Kyiv, starting just a few minutes after an air raid warning sounded.
Authorities said Ukrainian air defences had downed every Russian missile launched against the Kyiv region.
“A total of 11 missiles were fired: ‘Iskander-M’ and ‘Iskander-K’ from a northerly direction,” Ukraine’s armed forces chief Valery Zaluzhny said.
“All the targets were destroyed by air defences,” he added.
Research journals have withdrawn well over 300 articles on COVID-19 due to compromised ethical standards and concerns about the publications’ scientific validity.
Retraction Watch has provided a running list of withdrawn papers on COVID-19 ranging from “Acute kidney injury associated with COVID-19” to “Can Your AI Differentiate Cats from COVID-19?”
A total of 330 research papers have currently been retracted.
During the pandemic, researchers have compromised on ethical standards and tried to either get more publications approved or to take shortcuts around ethics, senior researcher Gunnveig Grødeland at the Institute of Immunology at the University of Oslo says, after going through the list of articles that have been withdrawn, and the reasons for some of them.
As Memorial Day weekend begins the transition to summer-time fun, many Americans are making plans to spend time on the nation’s beautiful beaches.
Many of those beaches are along the East Coast. However, back in 1995, the New York Times ran a story with “experts” genuinely concerned those beaches would be gone in 25 years.