Exceptional Powers – Anglo U.S Elite Tyranny VII


January 24th 2024

Here’s what you need to know
Sweden got one step closer to joining NATO. The Turkish parliament approved the Nordic country’s bid to join the military alliance, and now it awaits president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s signature.
China is buying a greater share of its intermediate goods—those used to make products—from Taiwan. That change has come at the expense of imports from South Korea and Japan.
TikTok laid off workers.The cuts by the social media video app follow widespread layoffs in the tech sector—including the one-time darling of Silicon Valley, Brex, which just laid off 20% of its workforce.
Alphabet cut ties with an Australian AI company that helped train its Bard chat bot. The decision will affect at least 2,000 subcontracted Alphabet workers.
The European Commission is investigating Lufthansa’s planned takeover of ITA Airways. Regulators are worried about less competition if the German airline were to absorb the struggling Italian carrier.
Quotable: Boeing’s problems are United’s
“With the Max grounding, this is the kind of straw that broke the camel’s back with believing that the Max 10 will deliver on the schedule we had hoped for.” —United Airlines CFO Michael Leskinen said in a call with investors yesterday.
United CEO Scott Kirby clarified that the company isn’t canceling its Max 10 orders, which total 277 across the next decade. Instead, it’s taking those aircraft “out of [its] internal plan” and preparing to operate without them.
Graphic: (Quartz)
China wants homegrown semiconductors—fast
Two trade numbers indicate that Beijing wants to quickly make its own semiconductors: China’s imports of chipmaking machines hit a near-record last year, while its chip imports saw their steepest decline on record.
Graphic: (Quartz)
Helping drive that growth is imports of specialty chip-making machines from the Netherlands, home of lithography giant ASML. In November, imports of Dutch lithography systems to China surged over 1,000% as Chinese players scrambled to procure the advanced technology critical to making cutting-edge chips.
Meanwhile, China’s imports of chips fell at their sharpest pace on record last year, slumping to $350 billion and marking two consecutive years of decline. It’s a game of progress and urgency, and China is trying to balance both.
Netflix’s WWE bet shows there’s no chill for sports streams
Though fans had to pay $5.99 for the privilege, the NFL’s AFC Wild Card game’s debut on Peacock this year was the most-streamed event ever—and it’s probably just the start of a new era of live sports streaming.
Netflix is the latest to enter the arena with its $5 billion deal to become the home of WWE’s Monday Night Raw. It wants a slice of the huge (and dedicated) live sport streaming viewership, which its competitors have already started gobbling up.
Amazon paid $1 billion to be the home of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football
Warner Bros. Discovery started moving more NBA games to its Max service
🏎️ Apple was rumored to be mulling a $2 billion-a-year deal to stream Formula 1 races
Quartz’s most popular
⚒️ Baby boomers are hoarding houses and leaving a laundry list of big fixes for younger buyers
🧳 2024’s most powerful passports ranked
🙄 ExxonMobil is suing its own shareholders over a proposal aimed at reducing emissions
🤖 It’s expensive to replace humans with AI, MIT says
Instant is in, fancy is out. Nothing stays the same for long in the world of home-brewed coffee
1.8 billion reasons why Wall Street loves the fashion world’s favorite hiking sneakers
Surprising discoveries
More than 2,200 companies have directors aged 123 and over. Seeing as the oldest human ever to live was 122, something’s up.
Russia is home to nearly half of the land in the Arctic. Data about how climate change is affecting that area has been inaccessible since the country invaded Ukraine.
More than 55,000 offices are expected to be converted into apartments in the US this year. The trend is most notable in Washington DC.
If awards season isn’t your thing, try the Razzies. This year’s nominations for worst actors go to some of Hollywood’s GOATs.
A world map of all the places that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have mentioned in their songs is impressively full. But let us not forget the celestial—“space” was named 67 times.
Did you know we have two premium weekend emails, too? One gives you analysis on the week’s news, and one provides the best reads from Quartz and elsewhere to get your week started right. Become a member or give membership as a gift!
Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, 942-year-old directors, and corner office apartments to talk@qz.com. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Morgan Haefner.

January 23rd 2024

America Stares Down a Trump-Biden Repeat in Disbelief and Denial

Unable to fathom a 2020 rematch, many Americans are clinging to forlorn hopes and floating wild theories — including that Michelle Obama might replace President Biden.

      Portraits of Donald Trump, left, speaking into a microphone, and President Biden.
      Many Democrats continue to doubt that Donald J. Trump will be the Republican nominee, despite his victory in Iowa and wide lead in polls. Many Republicans also doubt that President Biden will be the Democratic nominee, even though he has no strong primary challengers.Credit…Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times, Kenny Holston/The New York Times
      Portraits of Donald Trump, left, speaking into a microphone, and President Biden.
      Reid J. Epstein
      Ken Bensinger

      By Reid J. Epstein and Ken Bensinger

      Reid J. Epstein reported from Iowa and New Hampshire, and Ken Bensinger from Los Angeles.

      Jan. 19, 2024

      Sign Up for On Politics, for Times subscribers only.  A Times reader’s guide to the political news in Washington and across the nation. Get it sent to your inbox.

      President Biden is cruising to the Democratic nomination. Former President Donald J. Trump could begin to wrap up his party’s nod within days.

      America’s response: This can’t be real.

      Even as both men stroll toward likely summer coronations and a fall rematch, an undercurrent of disbelief is coursing through the country. Many Republicans view Mr. Biden as so politically and physically weak that they think his party will replace him. Many Democrats can’t fathom that Mr. Trump could win another nomination while he is facing 91 felony counts and four criminal trials.

      Comment The Liberal Capitalist & Feminist Coaltion have been running the world unchallenged since the Berlin War fell. They have brought us, via diversity politics, illegal immigration and freedom subtly turned into freedoms, chaos, violence, diseases like Covid and rolling wars since the first Gulf Oil War in 1990. Now they have us close to midnight and World War III.

      R J Cook

      Clinton’s Deplorables Shown Contempt, White Liberals Whip Up Racism & White Guilt For Anti Trump War Mongering Campaign – R J Cook.


      Kentucky bill aims to criminalize homelessness

      Besides makes living on the streets illegal, the proposed law would allow property and business owners to use force against the homeless.

      Read more

      January 22nd 2024

      Is Iowa the next step to civil war?
      Disunity can take decades to fester
      BY Michael Auslin

      In the silence of the Civil War’s Antietam battlefield on a winter day, bucolic hills give way to rows of small, white gravestones in the nearby cemetery. Wandering over the deadliest ground in American history, a melancholy visitor may be excused for wondering if this November’s presidential contest poses the greatest threat to the nation’s future since the election of 1860.

      After his victory in Iowa, Donald Trump is the favourite to become the Republican nominee. Leading commentators on the Left warn that, should he get re-elected, he will become a dictator and end democracy. On the Right, meanwhile, the belief is unshakeable that Joe Biden is mentally incapable of fulfilling the duties of president and won’t survive a second term.

      These raw emotions are not simply the quadrennial outbursts of partisan feeling that emerge in an election season. Rather, they are portents of a much deeper dislocation in American society. For over two decades now, Americans have been battered by non-stop crises at home and abroad — from the long War on Terror to Covid and the George Floyd protests — leading to what feels like national exhaustion and a deep pessimism about the future of democracy.

      Our pessimism has resurrected the once-unthinkable idea of disunion, or in today’s parlance, “national divorce”. In a 2021 poll conducted by the University of Virginia, more than 80% of both Biden and Trump voters stated that elected officials from the opposite party presented “a clear and present danger to American democracy”. Most shockingly, 41% of Biden voters and 52% of Trump voters stated that things were so bad, they supported secession from the Union. Two years later those numbers remained essentially the same in an Ipsos poll, with a fifth of Americans strongly wanting to separate.

      Suggested reading

      Why all this Trump hysteria?

      By Martin Gurri

      For those who believe that such concerns are simply hysteria, we should remember that America’s road to the Civil War took decades. In March 1850, southern statesman John C. Calhoun gave a prescient warning to the Senate: “It is a great mistake to suppose that disunion can be effected by a single blow. The cords which bound these States together in one common Union, are far too numerous and powerful for that. Disunion must be the work of time.”

      It took roughly 40 years — from the first passions unleashed by the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to the shelling of Fort Sumter in April 1861 — for the cords to snap. Since Bush v. Gore in 2000, America is now nearly a quarter-century into a process of delegitimising national elections and demonising our political opponents and fellow citizens. An entire generation has been raised on the cynicism of their elders, fed by social media and sensationalised news media.

      The tragic story of the gradual split of North and South offers stark warnings for today. The election of 1860 reflected the culmination of decades of failure to reach an acceptable settlement over the expansion or restriction of slavery in new territories of the West. The 1820 Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act all were grand attempts at coming to a stable modus vivendi. Yet they led ultimately to feelings of betrayal and suspicion, as old agreements, such as Missouri, were undone by later manoeuvrings. Worse, each side felt the other was trying to destroy its way of life, especially in the case of southerners, who knew they were falling behind the North economically and demographically, and who saw any attempt to restrict the expansion of slavery as part of a move ultimately to end slavery everywhere in the Union.

      That year, Abraham Lincoln was the nominee of a new political party, the Republicans, and an avowed opponent of the expansion of slavery into the new territories. Though he repeatedly promised to do nothing to threaten slavery where it already was legal, Lincoln nevertheless was labelled as a “Black Republican”, an anti-slavery zealot. Southern activists and leaders all warned that should Lincoln be elected, the South could ensure its survival only by seceding from the Union. Within a month of his victory, South Carolina took the fatal step, followed over the next few months by most of the Lower South. A month after his inauguration, the Civil War erupted with the bombardment of Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbour.

      Suggested reading

      Inside the American Redoubt

      By Jacob Furedi

      A century and a half later, what seems to be shaping up as a Biden-Trump rematch will further divide the nation. If we are to avoid a potential repeat of 1860, we must remember the powerful warning of Lincoln, in his address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois: “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us… If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”

      For the past several decades, American citizens and their political class have chosen to court the danger Lincoln identified. Why this is so remains a puzzle. Clearly, the wounds of Vietnam and Watergate never fully healed. Some observers, such as Christopher Caldwell, blame a now-endemic entitlement mindset; others, such as George Packer, point to the unwinding caused by an inequitable social and economic system. Back in the mid-Sixties, Philip Rieff warned of the “triumph of the therapeutic” that unleashed emotion over reason. Whatever the cause, the former middle ground has been blasted apart.

      The more America devolves into a nation of extremes, the more difficult politics becomes. A president who encourages his followers to march to the Capitol and a Speaker of the House who physically rips up the president’s State of the Union speech on national television both weaken the bonds of civil society. Zero-sum politics is not politics at all, but rather the result of a failure of politics to create a shared if not entirely satisfactory feeling of compromise and accommodation. Power will wax and wane for both sides, but each increasingly will feel oppressed by the other. As the historian David M. Potter noted in his magisterial history of the coming of the Civil War: “Southern nationalism was born of resentment and not of a sense of separate cultural identity.”

      If left to fester long enough, such feelings of oppression and resentment either lead to the belief that one side must utterly triumph, as Lincoln thought, or that the only solution is disunion. As Lincoln warned during his 1858 Senate campaign, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. The steady poisoning of public opinion in antebellum America fatally undermined a sense of common national identity. Instead, citizens embraced divisive stereotypes of the other side that reinforced feelings of alienation. “This process of substituting stereotypes for realities could be very damaging indeed to the spirit of union,” Potter writes, “for it caused both [sides] to lose sight of how much alike they were.”

      Suggested reading

      Joe Biden is the grinch of Iowa

      By Justin Webb

      The same is true in today’s America, where both sides see the other party as illegitimate and its supporters as “deplorables”, as immoral if not evil. But there can be no national community when there is no sense that one’s political opponents are at the same time fellow citizens with legitimate beliefs. As our knowledge of American history declines, we are in danger of forgetting that in a republic there is always another side to accommodate to some degree, or else politics is simply about power, leading to unending and worsening struggle.

      Those who shout down opinions they oppose, who advocate to curb speech with which they disagree, who intimidate or silence political opponents, or who censor the free flow of information bear a heavy burden for the looming breakdown in our society. Dogma drowns out reason and less strident voices, making it increasingly difficult to find the middle path that alone ensures the survival of a republic.

      Most of us, however, do not want to think about all of this. In going about our daily lives, we can be lulled into thinking that this is simply the new normal, or that it is entertainment, or that nothing truly serious will ever happen, and that we will never see widespread civil unrest or actual disunion during our lives. Such insouciance may be a fatal mistake. As Potter reminds us of antebellum America: “The very familiarity of crisis — its chronic presence during three decades — had bred contempt for it. So many rumblings had been heard without a sequel that men began to take the frequency of warnings as a reassurance that nothing would ever happen, rather than as an indication that something ultimately must happen.” Henry Adams wrote a half-century later in his Education that, except for a small minority of secessionists, “not one man in America wanted the Civil War, or expected or intended it”. And so, despite all the frenetic political activity of the 1850s, Americans largely sleepwalked into the maelstrom.

      As hate and panic spreads, is the terrible prospect of citizen pitted against citizen in our current society truly unthinkable? Exactly how 21st-century disunion or civil war would play out is beyond the knowledge of any of us. It could not repeat the course of the 1860s — for we face today not a distinct sectional division, but rather a clash within each city, each state. Even deep-red states have hard-blue cities, making a replay of state secession nearly impossible.

      Suggested reading

      Will Georgia survive Storm Trump?

      By Matthew Teague

      What about a general social breakdown that pits neighbour against neighbour? Again, the infinite complexity of such a conflict may keep it from ever breaking out, but in Spain during the Thirties, regular clashes between Leftist Republican supporters of the government and conservative Nationalists eventually led to all out civil war in 1936, with the army itself splitting into opposing forces. Have we seen the beginnings of that in our cities since 2020, after George Floyd and now with anti-Israel protests?

      The point is, once a people decides that it cannot live together or when a citizenry divides into clearly opposed blocs, it is impossible to predict just how conflict may erupt. But to say that it cannot happen is to ignore history. Even Lincoln downplayed the threat of southern secession during the 1860 campaign, not believing until it was too late that the South ever would take such a final step.

      Today, for all the hope that enough citizens will come together to recreate a middle ground, it is hard to avoid the feeling that whatever the outcome this November, large swathes of the country will see the election as illegitimate, their fellow citizens as the enemy. While this time we may escape the full force of a social hurricane, it will likely take its toll, wearing down our defences for the next assault.

      January 21st 2024

      The American Crack-Up

      The nation remains blinded by a veil of madness

      BY David Samuels

      ‘The new American elite is a class of shallowly-educated people with a set of uniform values imposed by self-infatuated academics and diversity gatekeepers.’ David Samuels: 👇

      From unherd.com

      January 20th 2024


      NATO plots escalation of Ukraine war against Russia into all out war across Europe

      The upcoming NATO military exercise Steadfast Defender, the largest since the end of the Cold War, is preparing a total NATO war mobilisation against Russia.

      Read more

      Ford announces 1,400 layoffs at Dearborn plant, as job cuts accelerate across the US

      The same day that Ford announced the cuts, the S&P 500 stock index reached its highest level in history. Wall Street is salivating over the prospect of interest rate cuts and the use of artificial intelligence to cut jobs and force down wages.

      Read more


      “They are messing people’s livelihoods up”: Stellantis Warren Truck workers denounce mass firings of temps

      IYSSE members spoke to workers at Warren Truck Assembly Plant about the layoff of hundreds of Detroit area Stellantis Supplemental Employees following last month’s UAW sellout agreement.

      January 19th 2024

      The Socialist Viewpoint.


      US imperialism setting Middle East ablaze

      The tit-for tat military attacks between Iran and Pakistan add further combustion in a region already set ablaze by US imperialism and its allies. They are using Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinians of Gaza to prepare and provoke a wider with Iran.

      Read more


      Israel continues Gaza onslaught and strikes on southern Lebanon

      Israel’s savage bombardment of Gaza continued Thursday with strikes on residential buildings in the southernmost city of Rafah and elsewhere. Gaza’s Health Ministry reported 170 deaths and over 300 injuries.

      Read more


      Palestinian student paralyzed by right-wing gunman tells NBC his suffering is “one drop in the ocean of what’s going on in Palestine”

      In their first major interview on a large US television network, the college students spoke out against the dehumanization of Palestinian people by Western politicians and press.

      Read more


      Long COVID specialist tells US Senate that “the best way to prevent Long COVID is to prevent COVID in the first place!”

      The US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held its first hearing on Long COVID, four years after the outbreak of the pandemic. However, the working class can expect little but empty words from this belated display of concern.

      Read more


      Will Lehman calls on workers to attend January 20 emergency meeting to fight mass layoffs in the auto industry

      Lehman, a Pennsylvania Mack Trucks worker who ran a rank-and-file and socialist campaign for UAW president in 2022, is appealing to workers to attend this Saturday’s meeting to discuss how to stop the mass job cuts.

      Read more


      Comrade Halil successfully laid the foundations for the establishment in 2022 of a Turkish section of the International Committee

      We are publishing here the tribute given by Chris Marsden to Halil Çelik, founder and leader of the Sosyalist Eşitlik Grubu, who died suddenly at the age of 57 on December 31, 2018, at a memorial meeting on the fifth anniversary of his death.

      Read more


      Right-wing Supreme Court majority conspires with billionaires to undermine federal regulations

      At oral arguments Wednesday, the extreme right-wing Supreme Court supermajority signaled that it will abandon 40 years of precedent to undermine the power of federal regulatory agencies.

      Read more


      Berlin’s support for Israel and the genocidal traditions of German imperialism

      Germany’s ruling class is seamlessly continuing its criminal traditions. It is one of the most aggressive supporters of the genocidal actions of the far-right Netanyahu regime and the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.


      Macron address signals right-wing shift by new French government

      On Tuesday night, Macron gave a two-and-half hour prime-time televised press conference on his installation of a new government led by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal.

      Read more


      Australian foreign minister travels to Israel to back ongoing genocide in Gaza

      Wong met the key architects of the genocide and assured them of her unwavering support, while prattling on about a “humanitarian” response as a threadbare cover.

      Read more


      Explosion at Thailand fireworks factory leaves 23 workers dead

      Workplace accidents in Thailand have long been the norm, demonstrating that no section of the country’s ruling elite intends to address safety in any industry sector.

      Read more


      Protesters demand reinstatement for victimized Southern California healthcare workers

      After a strike last year, Prime Healthcare fired nine workers at St Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, including the entire union bargaining team, in a naked act of retaliation.

      Read more


      Indian trade unions moving to betray Tamil Nadu state transport workers’ strike

      Transport unions in Tamil Nadu are working to betray the indefinite strike by the state transport workers launched on January 10.

      Read more


      Tribute to Helen: Beverly Lozano, a supporter from California

      A tribute to Helen Halyard written by Beverly Lozano, a supporter of the WSWS.

      Read more


      State funeral for Barry Humphries, creator of Dame Edna Everage and other Australian caricatures

      Humphries’ larger than life characters originated as vehicles to deride and challenge the mind-numbing intellectual climate dominating Australian cultural life in the 1950s and 60s.

      Read more

      Workers Struggles: Europe, Middle East & Africa

      Teachers at publicly subsidised private schools in Basque Country, Spain begin ten days of strikes to demand compensation for inflation and new contract; Iranian workers at largest oil field in Persian Gulf, South Pars Field, protest over wages and conditions; primary school teachers in Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria on indefinite strike over pay arrears and allowances

      Read more

      About the WSWS

      The World Socialist Web Site is published by the International Committee of the Fourth International, the world Trotskyist movement, and its affiliated sections in the Socialist Equality Parties around the world. Find out more about joining the Socialist Equality Party.

      January 18th 2024

      Netanyahu publicly rejects US push for Palestinian state

      Related Topics

      Israeli PM Netanyahu
      Image caption, The Israeli Prime Minister vowed to press on with the offensive in Gaza ‘until complete victory’

      By Mark Lowen

      BBC News, Jerusalem

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has told the United States that he opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state once the conflict in Gaza comes to an end.

      In a news conference, a defiant Mr Netanyahu vowed to press on with the offensive in Gaza “until complete victory”: the destruction of Hamas and return of the remaining Israeli hostages, adding that it could take “many more months”.

      With almost 25,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, and 85% of the strip’s population displaced, Israel is under intense pressure to rein in its offensive and engage in meaningful talks over a sustainable end to the war.

      Israel’s allies, including the US – and many of its foes – have urged a revival of the long-dormant “two-state solution”, in which a future Palestinian state would sit side-by-side with an Israeli one.

      The hope in many circles is that the current crisis could force the warring parties back to diplomacy, as the only viable alternative to endless cycles of violence. But from Mr Netanyahu’s comments, his intention appears quite the opposite.

      During Thursday’s news conference, he said Israel must have security control over all land west of the River Jordan, which would include the territory of any future Palestinian state.

      “This is a necessary condition, and it conflicts with the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty. What to do? I tell this truth to our American friends, and I also stopped the attempt to impose a reality on us that would harm Israel’s security,” he said.

      Mr Netanyahu has spent much of his political career opposing Palestinian statehood, boasting just last month that he was proud to have prevented its establishment, so his latest remarks come as no surprise.

      But the very public rebuttal of Washington’s diplomatic push, and determination to stay the current military course, show the chasm widening with Israel’s western allies.

      Since the 7 October attacks – the worst in Israel’s history, when Hamas gunmen killed about 1,300 Israelis and took some 240 hostage – the US has supported its right to defend itself.

      But as the death toll in Gaza has grown, and the scenes of horror there have abounded, Western governments have called for Israeli restraint.

      The White House has repeatedly tried to influence Israel’s military policy: urging more precision-guided weapons rather than the blanket air strikes; discouraging a ground offensive; and calling for a two-state solution, with a role for the Palestinian Authority in post-conflict Gaza.

      A protester holding a sign
      Image caption, Protesters in Tel Aviv have been calling for the safe release of Israeli hostages

      But Washington’s advice has frequently fallen on deaf ears or been met by outright rejection – often publicly so, during visits by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

      That, in turn, has hardened frustration in some American circles over the Biden administration’s apparent blanket support for Israel, with strident calls to put conditions on US aid to its Middle East ally.

      Responding to Mr Netanyahu’s latest comments, White House national security adviser John Kirby said his government would not stop working towards a two-state solution, adding there would be “no reoccupation of Gaza.”

      Israel’s prime minister’s comments will please his dwindling support base and the far-right ministers who prop up his government.

      But they will dismay those at home and abroad who are increasingly horrified by the human cost of this war. Recent polls show most Israelis want him to prioritise bringing the remaining hostages home over the potentially impossible aim of destroying Hamas.

      All Creatures Great & Small – Religion Is Back.

      Comment Israel, by this logic, must understand that the demise of Israel is being planned. Worldwide Islam is part of the new world order for the masses. The elite hypocrits are their own Gods with only contempt, manipulation, delusion and war in mind to keep those masses in their place and at war with each other.

      As for the United States, and Biden’s Democrats, they know Putin has gained space from his ally Iran’s obvious background connections with Israel’s enemies. Biden needs to get Israel a quick fix so he can get back to the proxy war on Russia, the war that really matters and needs winning soon just in case the dirty legal and constitutional tricks don’t destroy Trump’s Presidential candidacy. In reality, the Ukraine war is more than a proxy war.

      The U.S have and still are pumping in billions, panicking along with the U.K, that Russia is winning. It is becoming increasingly obvious that U.S and U.K boots are on the ground, with more tanks and ammo on the way. The F16s are coming soon and the proxy cover is broken.

      R J Cook

      January 17th 2024

      NATO issues urgent ‘prepare for war’ warning with world now ‘most dangerous in decades’
      Admiral Bauer declared Ukraine will have “our support for every day that is to come” as “the outcome of this war will determine the fate of the World”.

      Europe must “prepare for war” if it wants peace, a top NATO military commander has declared. Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of NATO’s military committee, said the alliance needs to maximise “our preparedness” for conflict to deter an invasion

      On May 1, 2023 Gonzalo Lira was arrested and charged with creating and distributing material that justified the Russian invasion, which is illegal under Ukrainian law. After his 2023 arrest, Lira was released on bail and attempted to flee the country. He was subsequently arrested again, dying in custody on January 12, 2024.

      A pro-Putin Chilean-American filmmaker who was imprisoned in Ukraine over allegations of spreading Russian propaganda has died in jail.

      Gonzalo Lira, a 55-year-old YouTuber and film director who was born in Burbank, California, and spent part of his childhood in the Los Angeles area, died in a Ukrainian jail on Friday, the State Department confirmed to Fox News Digital.

      “We can confirm the death of U.S. citizen Gonzalo Lira in Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss.”

      The spokesperson added that the department stands “ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” but would have no further comment “out of respect from the family during this difficult time.”

      Gonzalo Lira, a 55-year-old YouTuber has and Zelensky critic has died in prison.
      Gonzalo Lira, a 55-year-old YouTuber and Zelensky critic, has died in prison. Gonzalo Lira / X

      Lira gained a following posting pro-Russian content that justified Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a report from Newsweek, a criminal offense under Ukrainian law.

      He was initially jailed in May 2023 but was released on bail. He was jailed again after posting a video hinting that he was going to leave the country, being arrested again for allegedly breaching the conditions of his bail.

      American journalist Gonzalo Lira's last letter to his sister.
      American journalist Gonzalo Lira’s last letter to his sister. Telegram
      Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel and President of Moldova Maia Sandu in Kyiv, Ukraine.
      A pro-Putin Chilean-American filmmaker who was imprisoned in Ukraine over allegations of spreading Russian propaganda has died in jail.
      Gonzalo Lira, a 55-year-old YouTuber and film director who was born in Burbank, California, and spent part of his childhood in the Los Angeles area, died in a Ukrainian jail on Friday, the State Department confirmed to Fox News Digital.
      “We can confirm the death of U.S. citizen Gonzalo Lira in Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss.”
      The spokesperson added that the department stands “ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” but would have no further comment “out of respect from the family during this difficult time.”
      Gonzalo Lira, a 55-year-old YouTuber and Zelensky critic, has died in prison. Gonzalo Lira / X
      Lira gained a following posting pro-Russian content that justified Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a report from Newsweek, a criminal offense under Ukrainian law.
      He was initially jailed in May 2023 but was released on bail. He was jailed again after posting a video hinting that he was going to leave the country, being arrested again for allegedly breaching the conditions of his bail.
      American journalist Gonzalo Lira’s last letter to his sister. Telegram
      Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel and President of Moldova Maia Sandu in Kyiv, Ukraine. ZUMAPRESS.comUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel and President of Moldova Maia Sandu in Kyiv, Ukraine. ZUMAPRESS.com

      Newsweek also reported that Lira made many controversial posts before being picked up by Ukrainian authorities, including labeling Ukrainian President Volodymry Zelenskyy a “cokehead” and praising Putin’s “special military operation” as “one of the most brilliant invasions in military history.”

      The Ukrainian government’s Center for Stategic Communication and Information Security said Lira was arrested for “justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine,” according to Newsweek, a violation of Article 463-2 of Ukrainian criminal law.

      Ukraine bans largest opposition party

      Jason Melanovski
      23 June 2022

      A Ukrainian court has officially banned the activities of the country’s largest opposition party, the Opposition Platform—For Life party.

      The decision was handed down by the Administrative Court of Appeals No. 8 on June 20 in Lviv and effectively upheld President Volodymyr Zelensky’s banning of 11 political parties that Kiev regarded as “anti-Ukrainian” and “collaborationists” earlier in March. The measure was then approved by the Ukrainian parliament in May.

      Ten other pro-Russian and left-wing parties were included in Zelensky’s ban, among them the Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party of Shariy led by the popular Youtube blogger Anatoly Shariy.

      In addition to legally banning the party’s activities, the court also stated that the party’s property and assets will be confiscated by the State Treasury. 

      The banning of the country’s largest opposition party marks the temporary culmination of an undemocratic campaign initiated by the Zelensky government against parties and individuals who could potentially undermine the war that Kiev is waging against Russia on behalf of the imperialist powers.

      Led by oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, the party controlled 44 out of 450 seats in Ukraine’s parliament, surpassed only by the ruling Servant of the People party of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Prior to Russia’s invasion in February, several opinion polls showed the Russia-aligned party leading hypothetical parliamentary elections or finishing second.

      In eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, Opposition—For Life functioned as the dominant political party at both national and local levels. It was the effective successor to the Party of Regions of former President Viktor Yanukovych. In contrast to his opponents in the oligarchy that, with the heavy backing from US and German imperialism, toppled him in 2014 in a coup, Yanukovich spoke for a faction of the Ukrainian oligarchy that has been seeking to balance between Western imperialism and the Kremlin, and opposed a direct alliance of Ukraine with NATO.

      Prior to 2014, the Party of Regions was the country’s largest political party but it disintegrated after the coup as its members fled the country or joined Opposition Bloc, the pro-Moscow predecessor of the Opposition—For Life party. 

      Medvedchuk, the co-founder and head of the Opposition—For Life party, is a billionaire who has long maintained very close ties to the Russian oligarchy and, in particular, the Putin regime. 

      However, Medvedechuk’s Opposition—For Life party publicly denounced Russia’s invasion of the country and called for negotiations to quickly end the war. Twenty-three of its national parliament members voluntarily left the party and formed the Platform for Life and Peace party which has pledged to protect Russian-minority rights within Ukraine but distanced itself even further from Medvedchuk and Moscow.

      Throughout its existence, the party supported the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which were intended to end the war in the eastern Donbass region between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government through a settlement negotiated with French and German imperialism. Despite coming to power in 2019 on vague promises to secure peace, prior to the invasion Zelensky and his staff were openly hostile to the agreements’ implementation, which called for a federated status in the separatist-controlled regions and local elections.  

      For over a year prior to the current war, the Zelensky government, at the behest of US imperialism, worked systematically to stamp out the party’s influence, and in February of 2021 undemocratically banned three popular television stations associated with Medvedchuk. At the time, the move was praised by the US Embassy as part of Kiev’s efforts “to counter Russia’s malign influence, in line with Ukrainian law, in defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

      Later in May 2021 Medvedchuk was arrested and charged with “embezzlement” as well as “high treason” for “subversive activities against Ukraine.” A Ukrainian court placed him under house arrest, where he would remain until the outbreak of full-scale war in February of this year, when he fled.

      On April 12, Medvedchuk was apprehended by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) while apparently disguised as a Ukrainian soldier and again charged him with treason for supposedly providing Russia with military assistance.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/1MGIQxPf0Ig?rel=0

      No evidence has been published indicating how exactly Medvedchuk supposedly collaborated with the Russians. Nor has it been explained why he remained in Kiev days after the attack, putting his life in certain danger, if he really did know of the impending invasion beforehand.

      Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has publicly offered Moscow to exchange Medvedchuk for captured Ukrainian soldiers. Moscow has so far publicly refused to discuss the exchange of its supposed stalwart collaborator, but recent reports suggest he could be swapped for British nationals recently captured by separatist forces.

      While under arrest, Medvedchuk has become entangled in the ongoing prosecution of former President Petro Poroshenko, another Zelensky political rival. In May, the SBU released a video in which Medvedchuk accused Poroshenko of enlisting his assistance to illegally purchase a Russian oil pipeline.

      Due to his immense wealth and political influence, Medvedchuk undoubtedly knows much about “where the bodies are buried”—both figuratively and literally in the case of bourgeois Ukrainian politics—and it is likely the Zelensky government will now exploit him to continue its persecution of political enemies. 

      Whatever the ultimate fate of Medvedchuk and the remnants of his political party, the banning and state liquidation of oppositional parties exposes the lie that Ukraine is a bulwark of “democracy” that needs to be defended in a “just war” against totalitarian Russia.

      In reality, Ukraine is controlled by a section of the reactionary ultra-wealthy oligarchy that has emerged out of the Stalinist destruction of the Soviet Union and which has chosen an open alliance with NATO against Russia. It is now demonstrating with the war that it is willing and able to kill hundreds of thousands of its own citizens to maintain its rule and pro-NATO orientation. According to officials of the ruling party, between 200 and 500 members of the Ukrainian armed forces are dying every single day in the war in east Ukraine. There are also growing reports of desertions on both sides of the conflict.

      The banning of the Opposition—For Life party and other oppositional parties makes clear that the imperialist-backed Zelensky government will stop at nothing to crush opposition to its war—above all when it emerges within the working class. 


      War in Ukraine

      UK probes using Russian assets for Ukraine defenceUkraine bank: Use frozen Russian money to rebuild

      Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

      Ukraine says it shot down Russian spy plane

      • 3136
      An A-50 aircraft during a military parade in Moscow in 2019

      Russia designates popular author ‘a foreign agent’

      Akunin foreign agent

      Ukraine not alone says Sunak as UK pledges £2.5bn

      • Attributions
      • Comments
      • 5808
      Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelensky at the Presidential Palace in Kyiv

      Ukraine MPs reject bid to crack down on draft dodgers

      Two Ukrainian servicemen check an anti-aircraft machine gun

      January 16th 2024

      Ukraine: who tried to intimidate prominent journalist Yurii Nikolov?

      Ukrainian investigative journalist Yurii Nikolov said on Monday that he received a visit from unidentified people threatening him. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) and their affiliates in Ukraine, NUJU and IMTUU, call on the Ukrainian authorities to identify the perpetrators of the threats and ensure the protection of the journalist.

      Credits: Yurii Nikolov

      Nikolov is a co-founder and an editor of the Nashi Groshi investigative media project. He is well known for his investigations exposing corruption in Ukraine’s public procurement, including the Defense Ministry. Nikolov’s investigations into inflated prices for food supplies and low-quality winter jackets for the military prompted the ousting of previous Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

      Late on Sunday, two unidentified men approached Nikolov’s apartment, in Kyiv, banging on his door and verbally attacking him, the journalist said on Facebook. He added that only his elderly mother was at home at the moment of this threatening visit. According to the journalist, fifteen minutes later, a post with footage from the scene appeared on the anonymous Telegram channel Kartochnyy Ofis, allegedly linked to the Presidential Office. The video shows a man knocking on a door pasted with papers with the words “traitor, (military service) evader,” and other verbal attacks, demanding that somebody open the door. The voice of another man, also knocking on the door and shouting aggressively, is heard in the video.

      The police said they were ascertaining the details of the incident.

      A post by an anonymous pro-Zelenskiy Telegram channel called “Office of Cards” said the intrusion had been conducted by soldiers who had come back from the front lines. The post heavily criticised Nikolov. Speaking on national television, Nikolov highlighted that this anonymous post suggested the incident was linked to disparaging comments he made about Ukraine’s president.

      Zelensky President of Ukraine,where corruption is endemic and historic. He has been the perfect puppet for Anglo American puppet masters and gamblers.

      IMTUU condemns the harassment, persecution and obstruction of the journalist. The union suspects the Ukrainian president’s entourage of being behind the threats: “It seems that some government officials have decided to attack  journalists through anonymous Telegram channels,” said IMTUU President Serhiy Shturkhetsky. “After journalist Vladislav Sydorenko, in December, they’re going after journalist Yurii Nikolov. If the Ukrainian authorities are truly not involved in these attacks, they must commission a swift investigation and punish the perpetrators and the masterminds”.

      “Intimidation of investigative journalists is unacceptable,” said NUJU President Sergiy Tomilenko. “When a prominent journalist is pressured that way, the result is a chilling effect on all journalists. We call on the police to investigate promply this case and to protect Yurii Nikolov”.

      Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, an opposition lawmaker who heads Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on freedom of speech, said he considered the incident met the legal definition for hindering the work of a journalist. 

      For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

      The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

      Follow the IFJ on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

      Subscribe to IFJ News

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      January 15th 2024

      Following The Flag

      There was once a flag salesman named James B. Upham that convinced the schools to buy them. He even hired a guy named Bellamy to write a “pledge” to the flag and create an accompanying salute. (The Bellamy Salute has been discontinued and replaced by a hand over the heart because it looked just like the Nazi salute.)

      Now days most states have laws that classrooms HAVE to display a flag and the children must recite the pledge. There have been lawsuits about whether forcing kids to do that breaks the 1st amendment, the Supreme Court has ruled that schools can’t force kids to say it.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellamy_salute [deleted]

      I’m a teacher and I’m sure there’s some moron who makes kids recite the pledge, but most of us fucking hate it. I don’t give 2 fucks if kids stand or not. I hate it.

      I’m a vet and American history lover, the pledge is fucking stupid. Also, I hate the national anthem when it’s played anywhere but the Olympics. It’s cool when an athlete wins and their countries music is played. It makes sense. But before a football game? Can we skip that, please?

      January 14th 2024

      What We Think

      Hezbollah missile attack kills Israeli woman and son

      Related Topics

      kfar yuval
      Image caption, Israeli ambulance and soldiers at the entrance of Kfar Yuval in northern Israel after a Hezbollah anti-tank missile killed a woman and her son

      By Lipika Pelham

      BBC News

      An elderly Israeli woman and her son have been killed in a Hezbollah missile attack from Lebanon, Israel says.

      The anti-tank missile hit the town of Kfar Yuval on Israel’s northern border, killing Barak Ayalon, 45, and his mother Miri Ayalon, 76.

      Earlier the Israeli military said it killed four gunmen trying to cross from Lebanon into Israel.

      It comes as Hamas health officials in Gaza said 125 more people had been killed in continuing Israeli strikes.

      That brings the number of deaths in Gaza since Israel began retaliatory attacks on the Strip to nearly 24,000, with thousands more believed dead under rubble. Local officials say children and women account for about two-thirds of the dead. About 60,000 people have been injured.

      Meanwhile US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Israel would have to transition to lower-intensity operations in Gaza.

      He said that in a military campaign, tactics evolve as objectives are reached, and that the US had offered assistance in sharing knowhow.

      Israel began striking Gaza after Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,300 mainly civilians and taking 240 more hostage.

      Since then Hezbollah and Israel have also traded regular fire across Israel’s northern border.

      In Kfar Yuval, Barak Ayalon was part of the town’s emergency response squad. Israeli media say his father was also seriously injured in the Hezbollah attack.

      The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the Hezbollah guided missiles targeted several Israeli communities in the north and the IDF was striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in retaliation.

      Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the group’s aim in firing on Israel was to stop the war in Gaza.

      He also said the Houthi group in Yemen would continue attacking shipping in the Red Sea and that US and UK attacks on the group had been a mistake.

      The US should understand “that the security of the Red Sea and calm on Lebanon’s front, the situation in Iraq, and all developments in the region is tied to one thing: to stop the aggression against Gaza”, he said.

      In Gaza, Israeli tanks and aircraft continued attacking targets in southern and central areas on Sunday.

      Horse drawn cart moves past smoke near Salah al-Din Road as Israeli attacks continue in central Gaza
      Image caption, Rafah has come under heavy bombardment in recent days

      Communications and internet services were down for the third day running in parts of Gaza.

      Reflecting on the last 100 days of war, a man who was displaced and now resides in the southern city of Rafah, Alaa Bakhit, told AFP news agency: “After 100 days, we are living in this country but we feel like bodies without souls.

      “Every second of our life is a moment of war. Every moment and minute that passes, we are in war… There is nothing left in the country, no schools, no universities, no health services, nothing,” he said.

      “Think about the future of all these children, how will it be? How can they live after this?”

      Others in Gaza said they had no hope of the war ending.

      “You cook while being afraid of being hit by an air strike. You go out to buy something from the market and all the prices are really high. Our morals have been shattered, we have no hope of returning back to our homes,” Um Sharif Khalil, who was displaced from the north of Gaza, said.

      The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Saturday that Israel will keep fighting until it has achieved “total victory” over Hamas.

      The Israeli military has said the next phase of the war will see more targeted operations against Hamas leaders and positions.

      Related Topics

      What is South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the ICJ?

      Women mourn the death of a relative in in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 19 December, 2023

      By Raffi Berg

      BBC News

      The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is being asked to consider whether Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

      South Africa brought the case to the court.

      Israel has strongly rejected the allegation, calling it “baseless”.

      What is the International Court of Justice?

      The ICJ is the United Nations’ top court.

      Based in the Hague, in the Netherlands, it was established after World War Two, to settle disputes between states and give advisory opinions on legal matters, which is what it is being asked to do with Israel.

      Unlike the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ICJ cannot prosecute individuals for crimes of the utmost severity, such as genocide.

      But its opinions carry weight with the UN and other international institutions.

      The ICJ's Peace Palace in the Hague
      Image caption, The ICJ will deliver an opinion on the genocide allegation as the case is not a criminal trial

      What is genocide and what is the case against Israel?

      South Africa alleges Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians, in the wake of Hamas’s 7 October attack.

      Hundreds of Hamas gunmen crossed from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, killing 1,300 people, mainly civilians, and taking about 240 hostages back to Gaza.

      Since Israel launched its military campaign against Hamas in response, more than 23,000 people, mainly women and children, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

      And evidence submitted by South Africa claims “acts and omissions” by Israel “are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group”.

      This refers both to what Israel is actively doing, such as carrying out air strikes, and what it is allegedly failing to do, such as, according to South Africa, preventing harm to civilians.

      And the case highlights Israeli public rhetoric, including comments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as evidence of “genocidal intent”.

      Under international law, genocide is defined as committing one or more acts with the intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

      Those acts are:

      • killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
      • deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
      • imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
      • forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

      Why are Israel and Hamas fighting in Gaza?

      How has Israel responded to the allegations of genocide?

      Israel has fiercely rejected South Africa’s claim.

      Mr Netanyahu said: “No, South Africa, it is not we who have come to perpetrate genocide, it is Hamas.

      “It would murder all of us if it could.

      “In contrast, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] is acting as morally as possible.”

      Israel’s military says it takes a raft of measures to avoid civilian casualties.

      These have included:

      • airdropping flyers warning of imminent attacks
      • calling civilians’ phones to urge them to leave targeted buildings
      • aborting some strikes when civilians are in the way

      And the Israeli government has repeatedly stated its intention is to destroy Hamas, not the Palestinian people.

      A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Mr Sunak believed South Africa’s case was “completely unjustified and wrong.”

      “This legal action does not serve the court of peace. The UK government stands by Israel’s clear right to defend itself within the framework of international law.”

      Can the court make Israel stop the war in Gaza?

      South Africa wants the ICJ to order Israel to “immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza”.

      But it is virtually certain Israel would disregard such an order and could not be made to comply.

      Rulings are theoretically legally binding on parties to the ICJ – which include Israel and South Africa – but in practice, unenforceable.

      In 2022, the ICJ ordered Russia to “immediately suspend military operations” in Ukraine – but the order was ignored.

      When will there be a decision?

      The ICJ could rule quickly on South Africa’s request for Israel to suspend its military campaign.

      This would, in theory, protect the Palestinians from what might ultimately be declared genocide.

      But a final ruling on whether Israel is committing genocide could take several years.

      Why has South Africa brought the case?

      A woman raises a mock body bag as pro-Palestinian supporters shout anti-Israeli slogans in Cape Town on November 12, 2023,
      Image caption, There have been several pro-Palestinian rallies in South Africa

      South Africa has been highly critical of Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

      And as a signatory to the UN’s 1948 Genocide Convention, it has an obligation to act, it says.

      The governing African National Congress also has a long history of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

      It sees parallels with its struggle against apartheid – a policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white-minority government in South Africa against the country’s black majority, until the first democratic elections, in 1994.

      The country condemned the 7 October attacks and called for the release of the hostages.

      “Our opposition to the ongoing slaughter of the people of Gaza has driven us as a country to approach the ICJ,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa. “As a people who once tasted the bitter fruits of dispossession, discrimination, racism and state-sponsored violence, we are clear that we will stand on the right side of history.”

      Additional reporting by Damian Zane.

      Related Topics

      Pentagon leaks confirm Ukraine is a Nato proxy war

      Nato is central to fueling the inter-imperialist war in Ukraine

      Casualties of the war in Donbas (Picture Andrew Butko)

      Highly classified Pentagon documents leaked on social media sites have underlined the human suffering in the Ukraine war, the absolutely central role of Nato in backing Ukraine—and the scale of US spying. They ram home that it is a proxy war, used by the Western powers to gain power and influence while Ukrainians do the dying.

      The leaks show there are at least 150 Nato military personnel in Ukraine offering “training” and overseeing the arrival of weaponry. And on a wider scale the Ukrainian army would be powerless without its Nato backing.

      Leaks show the Ukrainian 82nd brigade, for example, is a Western-supplied armoured powerhouse. It will soon boast 90 US Stryker vehicles, 40 German‑produced Marders, 24 US-made M113 infantry carriers and 14 British Challenger tanks. The unit is currently being trained to be thrown into a bloody counter-offensive.

      Similarly, the 33rd brigade will have 32 Leopard tanks from Germany, Canada and Poland, alongside 90 American‑made MRAP troop carriers.

      One of the documents says, “12 combat credible [brigades] can be generated for the spring counteroffensive: 3 internationally by Ukraine, and 9 are US, allied & partner trained and equipped.”

      The US dragoons its allies into support for war in Ukraine. Another document describes a conversation between two senior South Korean national security officials over a US demand for ammunition.

      The officials worried that supplying the ammunition, which the US would then send to Ukraine, would violate South Korea’s policy of not supplying lethal aid to countries at war. According to the document, one of the officials then suggested a way of getting around the policy without actually changing it by selling the ammunition to Poland.

      Other documents show the US estimates that between 189,500 and 223,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded. The equivalent figure for Ukraine’s losses is between 124,500 and 131,000. Such figures aren’t new, but they confirm the horror of the war.

      The US spies on its supposed friends. It has been spying on the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. The US intelligence report highlighted how Zelensky in February “suggested striking Russian deployment locations” using unmanned drones. US spying on its allies is nothing new as the countries behind Nato have varying interests.

      The US is throwing everything at trying to catch the potential whistleblower. And, like they did to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—who was arrested four years ago this week—and Chelsea Manning, they will make an example of them.

      The real impact should be to redouble campaigning against Russia’s invasion and Nato’s escalation and warmongering.

      TopicsImperialism, Nato, Russia, Russian imperialism, Ukraine, United States, United States of America, US Imperialism

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      January 12th 2024

      Democracy Already Died by R J Cook

      Real democrats should be very afraid of what is happening to Donald Trump. He is now facing the big guns of the Supreme Court with mainstream media Generals and foot soldiers having got him where they want him. They do not want any comparisons with what Hilary Clinton said following her 2016 Presidential Election defeat and hasn’t shut up since. It is just, if not more, arguable that her post election intransigence provoked the subsequent mass demonstrations in Washington and New York. There followed four years of the Justice Department muck raking and muck slinging to find reasons to convict, impeach and jail Trump. To this date they present their malice and failures as evidence of their truth and sanctity of virtue signalling. By contrast, they have no evidence that Trump had anything to do with the so called Capitol Hill Insurrection,where authority figures opened the door to let them in to discredit Trump, and murdered U.S Iraq War and small business owner Ashley Babbit.

      Britain’s elite and MI6 joined in the campaign to denigrate Trump as a Russian agent and sex pest- the latter was and still is ‘pot calling the kettle black ‘ coming from the Clintons and the Democrat whitewash machine.

      But there are two big issues for the wealthy media and ruling U.S Elite Democrat backers. Firstly, the southern border must be kept open for more Democrat voting fodder and cheap labour. Secondly, they have to ensure their currently just proxy war on Russia continues to their victory. It is a big investment for them. They don’t care about more young mainly white working class men going to the slaughter. It is amazing that people are so dumbed down and barely literate that they accept the con trick that it is all being done to protect their ‘freedoms’ and to extend their allegedly benign and just democracy eastwards.

      In August 2020, Hilary Clinton said Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should not concede the upcoming November election “under any circumstances” because she believes “this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is.”
      The 2020 election results are expected to be delayed, as the use of mail-in ballots, which can take weeks to count, will likely skyrocket due to the coronavirus pandemic.

      For our ageing western population, the mature EU boss, elegant and posh Ursula von De Leyen, is eye candy for old men or men with mother complexes and all aspiring or successful women as a role model. So when she visits disaster sights she brightens up the scenery, offering false hope and dim light in the darkness. She heads an EU Mafia that intends to gobble up Ukraine, a land mass the size of France – when it so corrupt that it can’t manage or fight endemic corruption in what it already has. Whatever ; the Anglo Americans and the EU elite have big reputations and much money at stake. It all comes down to doing whatever it takes to get Donald Trump out of the way. If the miracle happened and he won, the Mafia Swamp with the U.K sharing the mire, will repeat their 2016 tantrums and fear mongering, all in the name of democracy of course.

      This course of action offers two big risks for the United States : 1 ) A real insurrection following social unrest and a realisation of hopelessness of the kind never shown by the type of TV shows the British adore, like the spoiled rich kids in ‘Friends’ 2 ) A Nuclear holocaust, as the Russian leadership realises that the western hypocritical hegemony corrupt egotistical regimes and life styles must replace the balance of power with their internationally exploitative New World Order. Here the swelling world population living cheek by jowl, bottom to bottom are offered the wonders of, legally protected from hate speech, Islam and a better life after a long, painful but noble death as freedom fighters. But at least Democracy won’t die because whatever semblances ever existed, years ago, have already died.

      R J Cook

      Maine disqualifies Trump from presidential primary ballot, citing insurrection clause

      Move comes days after Colorado supreme court removes Trump from state primary ballot for same reason

      Maanvi Singh and agenciesFri 29 Dec 2023 01.30 GMTFirst published on Fri 29 Dec 2023 00.09 GMT

      Maine has blocked Donald Trump from its presidential primary ballot, becoming the second state to bar the former president from running, under a constitutional provision that prevents insurrectionists from holding office.

      Donald Trump is introduced to the crowd during a rally on 17 December 2023 in Reno, Nevada.

      Read more

      On 19 December, a decision made by Colorado’s supreme court removed Trump from that state’s primary ballot, citing the same constitutional clause and setting up a legal showdown at the US supreme court.

      Maine’s secretary of state, Shenna Bellows, examined the case after a group of citizens challenged Trump’s eligibility and concluded that the former president should be disqualified for inciting an insurrection on 6 January 2021.

      “I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” said Bellows, a Democrat, in the decision. “I am mindful that no secretary of state has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on section 3 of the 14th amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

      Trump is the current Republican frontrunner, and his campaign has vowed to appeal the decision. “Make no mistake, these partisan election interference efforts are a hostile assault on American democracy,” said Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesperson, in a statement, also accusing Bellows of being a “a virulent leftist”.

      Unlike in other states, Bellows, who oversees elections in Maine, was required to make an initial determination about disqualification before it was considered by the courts. Bellows has suspended the effect of her decision until the state’s highest court rules on any appeal.

      The decision, if it takes effect, would apply only to the state’s March primary, but its conclusion would probably also affect Trump’s status for the November 2024 general election. Both Maine and Colorado are Democratic-leaning states, which means Joe Biden will likely win in both. However, while Maine has just four electoral votes, it’s one of two states to split them. Trump won one of Maine’s electors in 2020.

      Both the Maine and Colorado decision are based on section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bans from office those who “engaged in insurrection”. The provision, which was instituted after the civil war, was intended to prevent Confederates from retaking power.

      Legal scholars have argued that the clause should apply to Trump because of his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. The clause has rarely been used and has not previously been tested on the office of the presidency.

      Lawsuits in Minnesota and New Hampshire arguing that Trump should be excluded from the ballot based on the 14th amendment were dismissed. In Michigan, plaintiffs appealed to the state’s supreme court after lower courts declined to disqualify Trump.

      The US supreme court may ultimately resolve the issue nationwide. The Colorado Republican party has already appealed to the country’s top court and Trump is expected to file his own appeal over the disqualification in both states.

      The highest court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority, which includes three justices nominated by Trump.

      January 10th 2024

      Ukraine war: Does attack on Russian ship make a difference?

      By James Waterhouse

      BBC Ukraine correspondent

      It was an explosion which filled the sky and lifted Ukrainian morale.

      For Kyiv, the sight of Russia’s Novocherkassk landing ship being hit in an air strike was a much-needed boost.

      With Russia gaining the upper hand in recent weeks and the West’s support stuttering, Ukraine has produced another dramatic missile strike in occupied Crimea.

      Spectacular? No doubt. But was it significant?

      “As it wasn’t a battleship, you might think it’s not crucial,” explains Alina Frolova, who was Ukraine’s deputy defence minister between 2019-2020 and is now with the country’s Centre for Defence Strategies.

      “But we need to look at the full context, it’s a step-by-step process.”

      Both Ukraine and the UK now say that 20% of Russia’s Black Sea Naval Fleet has been destroyed since the start of its full-scale invasion – no mean feat for Ukraine, a country whose navy barely has any ships.

      Mostly, Russia’s vessels have been destroyed with long-range Storm Shadow missiles supplied by the West.

      https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.51.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

      Watch: Huge explosion as Russian warship hit by missile

      That has diminished Russia’s ability to launch missile strikes from the sea, and any possibility of it mounting an amphibious attack from the sea is even less likely. It has also unblocked ports like Odesa which has allowed Ukrainian and international cargo ships to travel along an unofficial route.

      Frolova thinks this latest strike in Feodosia is a continuation of Ukraine squeezing Russian supply routes to Crimea, and therefore weakening Moscow’s grip on the peninsula, which it has held since seizing it in 2014.

      “It demonstrates Ukraine’s Air Force can operate in the face of Russian air defences,” she says. “Ships like this are used to deliver ammunition and drones. Based on the detonation, there were a substantial number of explosives on board.”

      Ukraine’s Navy claims up to 80 people were on board too.

      Land, sea and air

      There are four ways Russia supplies Crimea, according to Serhiy Kuzan, co-founder of the Ukrainian Security and Co-operation Centre think-tank:

      • Over the Kerch Bridge, which connects Russia to Crimea
      • Through the land corridor Russia now occupies on mainland Ukraine
      • By flying cargo planes from Russia
      • By water through the Black Sea or Sea of Azov.

      Kuzan is confident Russia will have felt this strike. He says because the Kerch Bridge was damaged from previous Ukrainian attacks, Moscow had to look at other means to supply the Crimean peninsula.

      A file image of the Novocherkassk warship
      Image caption, Russia says the Novocherkassk was damaged, while Ukraine says it was destroyed (file image)

      “Ships allow them to move large loads relatively quickly,” he says. “These large ships are intended for carrying up to 500 tonnes of people and equipment.”

      The Novocherkassk was one of 12 Russian landing ships, according to Kuzan, of which he says Ukraine has now destroyed half.

      Kherson, but bigger

      Moscow is currently able to control the front lines in Ukraine. But Kuzan suggests these are not disconnected from Crimea.

      “We can’t separate the peninsula from the south of Ukraine, namely the occupied parts of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions,” he says.

      As with the liberation of Kherson city last year, Kuzan is optimistic the battles at the front could move in Ukraine’s favour if they could eventually lessen Russia’s air superiority and frustrate its supply lines to its troops.

      This is exactly what led to invading forces retreating across the Dnipro river to the eastern bank in November 2022.

      Map showing Feodosiya and areas of Russian control around Crimea

      But this time we are talking about a lot more territory. And it is a different story in the east, where Moscow has captured almost all of the town of Mariinka.

      Should Ukrainian land forces ever reach Crimean soil, the battle for its liberation would likely be bloody. By carrying out these missile strikes Kyiv is playing the long game by trying to make Russia’s presence there untenable.

      The problem for President Volodymyr Zelensky is, time is not Ukraine’s friend. Some in the West want a faster return for the billions of dollars of aid they have provided so far.

      Additional reporting by Hanna Tsyba

      Related Topics

      The many lives of Trump Tower

      The skyscraper rises over Manhattan’s Central Park in one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world, Fifth Avenue.

      The building’s appeal has waxed and waned, but the former US president’s last name in bold letters on the gold facade is a constant reminder of the tower’s central role in defining Trump as a brand. Donald Trump with his wife Melania in their Trump Tower apartment in 2014

      It was the set of his hit television show The Apprentice, which catapulted his fame to new heights. And it’s where he harnessed that fame to ride down a golden escalator and launch a successful bid to become president of the United States.

      Now it is tangled up in his legal troubles. As well as being indicted four times, Trump faces being barred from doing business in New York City and could be forced to hand over control of the building where he based his Trump Organization headquarters for decades. A divider graphic showing an image of a city skyline

      Trump first set sights on the old granite and limestone Bonwit Teller building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street in the mid-1970s. It was a time of street gangs and violent crime, when New York City was known more for the Son of Sam serial killer than for glamour and style.

      But Trump, the son of a wealthy Bronx real estate developer, was on the rise. He saw the location, located next to Tiffany’s flagship jewellery store on the street dubbed “Millionaire’s Row”, as an opportunity to send his profile into the stratosphere.

      “In the real-estate business we have a generic term for the best location, wherever it is: The Tiffany location. And Trump Tower is literally that – it looks down on Tiffany’s,” he would later tell Architectural Digest.

      He said he called the Bonwit Teller owners twice a day to try to broker a deal. Trump’s persistence paid off in 1979, swooping in once he discovered the owners needed fast cash.

      Donald Trump with a rendering of Trump Tower and photographs of the Bonwit Teller Building in New York in 1980
      Donald Trump wearing a hardh at the Trump Tower construction site in New York in 1980

      His plan was to tear it down and redevelop in what was becoming his trademark business style.

      He took the city to court – and won – to get millions of dollars in tax breaks. He destroyed two Art Deco sculptures that had been a part of the original building’s facade to save $500,000 (£396,000), instead of donating them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art like he promised (infuriating New York’s history buffs). And he bought air rights over Tiffany’s, a zoning law which essentially means a neighbouring building would never rise up to block his sweeping views.

      Trump Tower shown under construction in 1981

      As the glass skyscraper grew taller, so too did Trump’s tales. When Trump Tower was completed in 1983, he boasted it had 68 floors. It only had 58.

      In Trump’s first book, The Art of The Deal, he described his style of business as “people want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole”. A divider graphic showing an image of a city skyline

      Trump’s exaggerations were used to promote his tower – and the building was vital to promoting Trump.

      A year before it opened, Trump appeared in Forbes Magazine’s first-ever rich list by claiming a net worth of $100m. Trump Tower was at the heart of his case to get on that list.

      Donald Trump steps into his limousine outside Trump Tower in August 1987
      Taxis drive past the side entrance to Trump Tower in 1985

      In reality, Trump was worth only $5m. Former Forbes researcher and writer Jonathan Greenberg told BBC News he only discovered this deception of wealth much later.

      When Greenberg met Trump to determine if he should be included, the future president tried to fudge the numbers. He emphasised the potential revenue of Trump Tower but failed to mention that much of it was owned by an equity firm, not Trump himself. “He was talking about, ‘when this opens, I own all of it and look at how big it is,’” Greenberg recalls.

      Donald Trump on the telephone at his desk in his office in Trump Tower in September 1987

      We in the media were unprepared for anyone who lied as effectively and shamelessly as Donald Trump.

      Jonathan GreenbergFormer Forbes researcher

      Other times, Greenberg said Trump called him, pretending to be “John Barron”, a Trump Organization executive, to feed him false information. “He spoke in the third person; I think it’s his first time he began to speak of himself from the third person – which he still does,” Greenberg said.

      Trump also spread a rumour that Prince Charles and Princess Diana were buying an apartment, telling the New York Post the inquiry came from a “very aristocratic” guy with an English accent.A divider graphic showing an image of a city skyline

      He may not have secured a prince and princess for his castle, but it didn’t stop Trump from creating an aura of exclusivity.

      When residents walked through the shimmering brass doors they were met by doormen in elaborate outfits which mimicked Buckingham Palace’s guards. Inside the lobby was a tuxedoed piano player.

      The front entrance of the newly-opened Trump Tower in New York on 1 June 1983
      Musicians play piano and violin in the foyer at the newly-opened Trump Tower on 18 February 1983

      Trump would boast in Architectural Digest about having “the finest apartments in the top building in the best location in the hottest city in the world”.

      In a 1998 interview with BBC HARDtalk, he would say: “I love building great buildings… I get great artistic pride out of a great building like Trump Tower.”

      He had not only broken into Manhattan’s property market, he had arrived with a splash. A divider graphic showing an image of a city skyline

      When the tower opened, New York was desperate for something shiny and new after years of economic blight. And shiny was Trump’s speciality.

      Architecture critic Paul Goldberger, in his 1983 review of the building for the New York Times, asked what other New York buildings had been “surrounded by so much hoopla?”

      His critique was not a rave, but it was hardly a pan. Goldberger noted how the building’s “zigs and zags” were a welcome break from the “simple boxes” that lined the streets, and how its pink Breccia Pernice marble gave off a glow of “happy, if self-satisfied, affluence”.

      Looking back, Goldberger thinks he may have gone easy on Trump in part because he seemed like a breath of fresh air when the Big Apple was battling to revitalise itself. “I think we were all inclined to be a little more positive than probably we should have been,” he told BBC News.

      The skyscraper’s style, wrapped in mirrored glass, embodied the 1980s era of “greed is good”.

      General view of the 58-floor Trump Tower in Manhattan on 8 December 1983
      Interior view of the Trump Tower, showing its many escalators, on 28 August 1985

      The building initially attracted excitement. Up to 100,000 people reportedly visited the atrium each Saturday during the holidays.

      High-end fashion brands such as Buccellati and Charles Jourdan were tenants. Steven Spielberg had a pied-à-terre and Michael Jackson had a duplex with a dance studio.

      Trump saved the best unit for himself – the 11,000 sq ft penthouse which takes up three floors. The urban palace originally featured chocolate lacquered walls and a gold-leaf ceiling. After attending a dinner at the nearby penthouse of Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi, Trump reportedly decided to redecorate.

      Gone was the luxe modernism, replaced with lashings of gold, marble and crystal – a Versailles in the sky.A divider graphic showing an image of a city skyline

      When New York City woke up from the cocaine-fuelled party that seemed to last through the 1980s, it became clear that all that glimmered wasn’t gold, simply brass.

      Retailers baulked at the sky-high rents of Trump Tower and left. The glitterati that first lived there – Johnny Carson and Sophia Loren – were eclipsed by a different type of character: “Medicaid cheats, coke dealers, mobsters,” according to journalist Wayne Barrett, writing for the Village Voice in 1991.A graphic using a Google Earth image showing how Trump Tower compares in height to two of its more modern neighbours: Trump Tower is 664ft (202m) tall, while 425 Park Avenue is 860ft (262m) tall and 432 Park Avenue is 1,396ft (425m) tall.

      Part of the problem was the building didn’t age well. Most of the units were built cheaply – simple white walls and galley kitchens. “He really didn’t understand quality, as he pretended to do,” Goldberger said.

      The units were soon outclassed by bigger, more luxurious units in newer buildings. Eventually, Fifth Avenue’s “Millionaire’s Row” would be superseded by “Billionaire’s Row”, a series of ultra-luxury skyscrapers just a few blocks away.A divider graphic showing an image of a city skyline

      But Trump and his tower would not be forgotten. They surged back into the public’s consciousness in the 2000s with the reality show The Apprentice.

      The shining black skyscraper was filmed from the street like it was the towering king piece on Trump’s own chess board – a character with as much airtime as the candidates.

      A sign advertising The Apprentice television show hangs at Trump Towers on 15 April 2004

      When Jose Felix Diaz from Season Five first walked into Trump Tower, he felt like “somebody is trying to show you just how important this place is”, he told BBC News.

      “During The Apprentice, I don’t think there was a piece of property that was more valuable to Donald Trump than Trump Tower,” he said.

      People can knock it all they want… very few people in their lifetimes can build an edifice, you know, of that calibre, of that magnitude, on Fifth Avenue in the most important city in the world.

      Jose Felix DiazFormer Apprentice contestant

      During the show, he lived in Trump Tower with fellow contestants. Diaz says what made the show successful was “the unpredictability of the main character… people were mesmerised by this person who didn’t hold back”.

      It’s a similar story to how Trump won the presidency. It began in the atrium of Trump Tower, where he announced his White House bid in 2015.

      Donald Trump rides an escalator to a press event to announce his candidacy for the US presidency at Trump Tower on 16 June 2015
      Donald Trump speaks on a stage in the atrium of Trump Tower as he announces he is running for the US presidency on 16 June 2015

      Trump marvelled at the crowd: “Wow. Whoa. That is some group of people. Thousands.” In reality, peppered among the media there were only a few dozen spectators, many dressed in his Make America Great Again gear.

      But his popularity and the size of his rallies grew, culminating in a divisive election victory. Overnight, Trump Tower became the de facto presidential transition office. He even said he wanted to spend a few nights a week in his penthouse, dismissing the White House as a “dump”. Trump kept using it during his presidency, once hosting Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe there for diplomatic talks.

      President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in the penthouse suite of Trump Tower on 24 September 2018

      A divider graphic showing an image of a city skyline

      Since leaving the White House in 2021, and the events of 6 January, Trump’s notoriety has eclipsed much of his legacy from his early years in New York. In a city where President Joe Biden received 76% of the vote, the Trump brand is toxic.

      The man who once epitomised the city no longer spends much time there. Where there was once a Cartier store in the lobby, now there is a souvenir shop selling MAGA hats. It has also impacted the tower’s bottom line.

      Few buildings are so closely tied to its owner in the public imagination as Trump Tower.

      In the case in New York City, the former president and his two adult sons have been found liable of massively inflating the value of their properties in order to secure better loans. Among the evidence was a claim that Trump’s penthouse triplex was three times its actual size.

      Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and is expected to be in court when the trial resumes on 11 January for closing arguments. The judge will then have to decide how much the Trumps must pay and whether their businesses in New York City – including the tower – must be sold off, or be held by a third-party. To lose it would be an epic chapter of Trump’s downfall in the city where he made his name.

      Donald Trump poses in his Trump Tower office on a giant letter T on 8 May 1996

      Goldberger says it would be a “confirmation in the physical form of what’s already happened reputationally” in New York City.

      But a long-time friend and fellow real estate developer who testified in the trial, Steve Witkoff, insists Trump doesn’t let anything get him down and he’ll keep fighting. Losing Trump Tower would be an indignity, but Witkoff told BBC News “hopefully we’re not going to get to that place”.

      Diaz, the former The Apprentice contestant who was once inside Trump Tower’s “inner sanctum”, says imagining a world where Trump was not in control was “inconceivable”.

      “I would believe that the Trump Organization will fight to their last breath to protect Trump Tower.”


      January 9th 2024

      Climate crisis | The internationally agreed threshold to prevent the Earth from spiraling into a new superheated era will be “passed for all practical purposes” during 2024, the man known as the godfather of climate science has warned. James Hansen told the Guardian: “We are now in the process of moving into the 1.5C world.”
      4Boeing | United Airlines has found loose bolts and other “installation issues” on multiple 737 Max 9 aircraft, it said yesterday, referring to the Boeing model that was grounded after a panel blew off an Alaska Airlines-operated plane mid-flight. As Boeing shares fell 8% on Monday, Alaska Airlines said its technicians had found “loose hardware” on some of its 737 Max 9 aircraft.

      January 8th 2024

      National Review

      Hillary Clinton Maintains 2016 Election ‘Was Not On the Level’: ‘We Still Don’t Know What Really Happened’

      Mairead McArdle

      Hillary Clinton is sticking with her conviction that the 2016 presidential election was not conducted legitimately, saying the details surrounding her loss are still unclear.

      “There was a widespread understanding that this election [in 2016] was not on the level,” Clinton said during an interview for the latest episode of The Atlantic’s politics podcast, The Ticket. “We still don’t know what really happened.”

      “There’s just a lot that I think will be revealed. History will discover,” the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee continued. “But you don’t win by 3 million votes and have all this other shenanigans and stuff going on and not come away with an idea like, ‘Whoa, something’s not right here.’ That was a deep sense of unease.”

      Clinton also offered copious criticism of President Trump, saying she warned the country about her former rival, and “it was even worse than I thought it was.”

      “I really did feel sometimes like the tree falling in the forest. I believed he was a puppet of Putin. I believed that there was relevant, important information in his tax returns. I believed he did not have the temperament to be president, he was unfit—not a partisan comment, but an assessment of him,” the former secretary of state said.

      In August, Clinton said Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should not concede the upcoming November election “under any circumstances” because she believes “this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is.”

      The 2020 election results are expected to be delayed, as the use of mail-in ballots, which can take weeks to count, will likely skyrocket due to the coronavirus pandemic.

      President Trump has cast doubt on whether the upcoming 2020 election will be legitimate, warning that widespread voting by mail could be a catalyst for election fraud. Democrats have pushed for voting by mail to protect voters from having to leave their homes to vote, possibly exposing themselves to the coronavirus.

      More from National Review

      January 6th 2024

      Biden Targets Trump in Speech, Defending Democracy as ‘Sacred’

      January 05, 2024 8:54 PM

      U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet people at they arrive near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Jan. 5, 2024.
      U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet people at they arrive near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Jan. 5, 2024.


      Focusing heavily on the threat he says former U.S. President Donald Trump poses to American democracy, U.S. President Joe Biden kicked off his reelection campaign by pledging to make the defense of the country’s democratic system the central theme of his 2024 race and potential second term.

      “Democracy is still a sacred cause, and there’s no country in the world better positioned to lead the world than America,” Biden declared in a Friday speech at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, a site with historical significance in America’s war for independence against the British.

      Launching the sharpest attacks yet on Trump, his likely rival in the November presidential election, Biden chose the third anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol to deliver his first campaign speech of 2024. The event was originally scheduled for Saturday but moved up because of weather concerns.

      Thousands of supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, seeking to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s electoral victory. According to the FBI, 1,240 people have been charged with crimes related to their participation in the violence, including 452 on charges of assaulting law enforcement officers. More than 900 have pleaded guilty or been convicted.

      Trump calls the people involved in the riot “patriots” and those serving their prison sentences “hostages” and has promised to pardon them if he is reelected.

      New phase of Biden campaign

      Taking jab after jab at Trump, Biden’s address marks a new phase of his campaign that emphasizes Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

      “Trump won’t do what an American president must do. He refuses to denounce political violence,” Biden said. “So hear me clearly, I’ll say what Donald Trump won’t – political violence is never, ever acceptable in the United States’ political system.”

      “You can’t be pro-insurrectionists and pro-America,” Biden underscored, warning that Trump’s assault on democracy will continue if he is reelected. “Trump’s assault on democracy isn’t just part of his past. It’s what he’s promising for the future. He’s been straightforward. He’s not hiding the ball.”

      Mike Sozan, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a progressive lobbying group, said that Biden sees himself as a leader who saved American democracy in 2020 and aims to do so again.

      Biden Targets Trump in Speech Defending Democracy as ‘Sacred Cause’

      Biden Targets Trump in Speech Defending Democracy as ‘Sacred Cause’

      “He believes that he was uniquely positioned to beat Donald Trump and that he continues to be positioned that way,” Sozan told VOA.

      Focusing on Trump’s threat to democracy could be key to persuading voters to support him. Biden faces consistently dismal poll numbers, ending 2023 with 39% favorability, the lowest approval rating of the past seven presidents at the same point in their first term in office.

      The Trump campaign dismissed Biden’s speech.

      “The remarks today simply demonstrate that Biden will stop at nothing to distract from the fact that he has the worst inflation in U.S. history, that he has put us on the brink of World War III, and that he has allowed the Southern border to utterly collapse under his leadership over the past three years,” said Lynne Patton, senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

      “The American people are smart,” she told VOA. “They’re not going to fall for it.”

      Historical resonance

      From 1777 to 1778, Valley Forge was the headquarters of George Washington’s Continental Army. There, the soldiers persevered in the winter amid illness and a food shortage in their fight for independence against the British during the American Revolutionary War.

      The Americans defeated the British, and in 1789, Washington became the first U.S. president.

      “George Washington was at the height of his power having just defeated the most powerful empire on Earth,” Biden said on Friday. “He could have held onto that power as long as he wanted. But that wasn’t the America he and the American troops of Valley Forge had fought for.”

      After two terms as president, Washington voluntarily stepped down.

      “In America, our leaders don’t hold on to power relentlessly,” Biden continued, drawing a stark contrast between Washington and Trump. “We speak of possibilities – not carnage. We’re not weighed down by grievance. We don’t foster fear. We don’t walk around as victims.”

      Trump highlighted American carnage in his 2017 inauguration speech and in 2023 declared to his supporters, “I am your retribution,” signaling that he would seek revenge on his political enemies if he wins again.

      As Biden delivered his speech, the Trump campaign posted on social media a blow-by-blow account of how it says Biden and “the radical Left Democrats” are the greatest threat to democracy the country has ever faced.

      The Radical Left Democrats, now led by Joe Biden, are the greatest threat to democracy the United States of America has ever faced. 🧵 pic.twitter.com/SHeoNqQMT3— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) September 28, 2023

      “Since Joe Biden took office, the Democrat Party has relentlessly weaponized the legal system against Pres. Trump, their chief political opponent,” one of the posts said.

      Trump faces 91 felony charges in four jurisdictions, including attempts to overturn the 2020 election under indictments at the federal level and at the state level in Georgia. He denies wrongdoing in all of them and leads by a wide margin among Republican primary candidates as he aims to take back the White House that he says Biden stole from him in the 2020 election.

      In a 2022 interview, Trump said that the “weaponization” of the Department of Justice he says Biden employs against him “could certainly happen in reverse,” signaling that he would use the federal government to go after and indict political opponents.

      ‘There are real stakes’

      There are objective reasons to be concerned about the trajectory of American democracy, said William Howell, Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago and author of “Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy.”

      “In important respects, the choices that voters make in November of this year will bear upon the independence and well-functioning of the administrative state, the extent to which elections are upheld and the outcome of elections are recognized, whether or not the Justice Department is used to prosecute enemies,” he told VOA.

      “There are real stakes involved, and they need to be brought into stark relief, and I think Biden’s trying to do that early on as part of his campaign,” Howell said.

      On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of a ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court that Trump can not appear on the state’s Republican primary ballot because he had engaged in insurrection. Maine has also found the former president ineligible to hold office because of his actions after the 2020 election and barred him from the primary election ballot in the state. Trump has also appealed that ruling.

      Trump is kicking off the 2024 election year on Friday with two rallies in Iowa.

      Only then can we put it to the test – By R J Cook

      Comment It is impossible to find a good word for Trump or a bad one for slippery Joe Biden anywhere on mainstream media. Like feminist members and acolytes of the Democrat Party, Biden and Co do not have to make any sense. That is a founding pricipal of the liberal left and supporting billionaire’s mainstream media.

      There is no evidence that Trump had anything to do with the so called Capitol Hill Insurrection. However, there is evidence of FBI involvement, with major unanswered question regarding who was throwing doors open the government’s sacred ‘democratic’ ( sic ) home to protestors like Ashley Babbit, an air force veteran and state murder victim. Thinking people outside of the Democrat vested interests, know what is going on.

      The Anglo U.S ruling elites who dominate Western Europe want to extend their miasma eastward. Their war for democracy is an excellent smokescreen for their liberal hate speech which denigrates Putin for sensibly not allowing little boys to be taught the wonders of sex change, whilst liberal heroines like much venerated fantasy writer J K Rowling preach that transexuals are merely transvestite rapists who want to gratify themselves in smelly ladies toilets.

      There have been some very unpleasant consequences of Biden’s last term. Its partnership with war mongering Imperial Diehards in the U.K, has killed millions of white people on both sides, contaminated hundreds of square miles with war waste, including radiation. This proxy war on Russia has massively impacted on the, climate, cost of living, sanctions depriving the west of key energy supplies, fertiliser and much more. Populations trained during the Covid Lockdown con are more than docile about this – which is just as well because serious protests wipes people out. Look what has happened to Julian Assange while the west weeps for Russian traitors like Navalny.

      It is beyond the mindset for the western masses and eager Ukrainian materialists to see the connection between villifying and annoying Iran with Russia exploiting the situation due to its existential self defence against NATO imperialism. The build up and timing of the HAMAS attack on Israel is deliberately misinterpreted by the bilious BBC because it would frighten them into expecting World War Three, which it already is.

      Whether or not Biden is actually compos mentis to understand what he has been doing and will do next is an open question. Some of us realise that his mental weaknesses are important to the people actually running the western world. War mongering arms manufacturers and dealers love it. The male mnions who face the front line, mutilation and or death, leave loved ones who are supposed to be happy with medals and monuments.

      Fighting to defend democracy is an old capitalist cliche. If push comes to shove and the war widens, Britain and U.S Goverments will once again lead the charge for conscription. These two countries led the 1990 Gulf War that seriously destabilised the Middle East. They went on to fail in Afghanistan. A section of the British elite schemed to apparently leave the EU for the self aggrandisement of being as one with Biden’s insane foreign policy. The Gaza Israel department of the new world war has already spread to shipping in the Red Sea. None of the big players dare question the importance of religious bigotry and lunacy in this conflict. Anglo American leadership elites have played divide and rule for centuries. Their arrogant self assurance and democracy mantra is their curtian covering chaos.

      Meanwhile, mass migration with inevitable social, economic and crime consequences is a ticking U.S time bomb set in motion by Biden’s Barmy Democrats. Biden’s stumbling mumbling speeches talk of facing the future and Trump being from the past. He doesn’t have to make sense. The pre 1990 years were safer than this Bidenian future. The opportunity from the falling Berlin Wall and demise of the Soviet Union was squandered in the asset striiping age of football club owning Oligarchs, with neglect of the masses in the hypocritical age of Yeltsin, Clinton and George Bush Junior.

      If this Russian traitor, Navalny, had been a British traitor, he would have been lcoked away like war crimes whistle blower Julian Assange and never seen again.

      Whatever, the Democratic and ‘liberal’ U.S Legal System is working hard to ban Donald Trump from standing, with New York’s black female City Prosecutor out to not just bite at his business empire, she wants to have it devoured by the ‘liberal’ machine. These peope are on a roll. Russia’s Putin knows that the United States are calling the shots in their proxy war. He knows how desperate the Democrats are to label Trump some kind of Russian placeman.

      Trump certainly favours avoiding a show down with Russia and the need for more friendly cooperation. Quite rightly, like Putin, Trump wants to protect and resurrect the best of the United States way of life. Biden and his son’s questionable business dealings, notably in Ukraine, suggest where his interest resides. Banning Trump from the Republican Primaries on the dubious grounds of protecting democracy, is a contradiction in terms. It would be interesting to hear Biden and Co’s working definition of democracy. Only then can we put it to the test.

      R J Cook


      January 5th 2024

      No investigation into Prince Andrew – Met Police

      Prince Andrew at Sandringham in December
      Image caption, Prince Andrew was named in unsealed court documents relating to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein

      By James Gregory

      BBC News

      The Metropolitan Police says it is not investigating allegations against the Duke of York detailing connections to the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

      In unsealed US court files, Prince Andrew is accused of groping a woman at Epstein’s house, which he has previously denied.

      The Met said it would assess “new and relevant” information should it be brought to its attention.

      The prince is one of several high-profile figures named in the files.

      The newly released documents form part of a case against Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s girlfriend, who has been jailed for helping him abuse girls.

      Many of the allegations in the documents are not new.

      Included in the files is the detailed testimony of Johanna Sjoberg, who describes meeting Prince Andrew at financier Epstein’s home in New York in 2001, along with Epstein’s associate Maxwell, and Virginia Giuffre – who went on to make and settle a civil sex assault claim against the prince.

      Ms Sjoberg’s statement describes an encounter in which she claims Prince Andrew touched her breast. Buckingham Palace has previously said her allegations are “categorically untrue”.

      British anti-monarchist campaign group Republic confirmed it had reported the prince to the Met Police after the documents were released this week.

      The force said it was aware of the release of the documents but no investigation had been launched.

      “As with any matter, should new and relevant information be brought to our attention we will assess it,” a spokesperson said.

      Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he would not comment on any police matters relating to the court files and Prince Andrew.

      Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who was the former head of public prosecutions, said where “credible” accusations were made they should be investigated.

      “I’ve seen the headlines on this, not the detail, but, frankly, whoever it is, where there are credible allegations made, then of course they should be looked at,” he told LBC.

      Among the previously detailed claims against Prince Andrew is that he sexually abused Ms Giuffre in London, New York and on Epstein’s private island in the Virgin Islands.

      The Duke of York has already denied these allegations.

      Other high-profile figures mentioned in the documents so far include former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

      The documents contain no alleged wrongdoing by Mr Trump, and there is no implication of illegality regarding Mr Clinton.

      Epstein, the disgraced financier who had cultivated links in politics, business and royalty, died in jail in 2019 while facing charges of running a “vast network” of underage girls for sex.

      Maxwell, the daughter of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for her role as a recruiter for Epstein. Her lawyers are appealing against the sentence.

      Prince Andrew announced he was stepping back from royal duties in 2019 in the wake of the Epstein scandal.

      Related Topics

      More on this story

      Comment Of course the Metropolitan Police are not going to investigate because they would have had their Royal Protection Officers with him all the time whatever he was doing, obeying his commands.

      R J Cook

      Michael Higgins: Yes, CBC, ‘From the river to the sea’ is in fact an anti-Jewish chant

      Our national broadcaster shouldn’t be trying to justify such antisemitic garbage

      Author of the article:

      Michael Higgins

      Protesters gather for a pro-Palestinian demonstration, in Rome, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023.
      Protesters gather for a pro-Palestinian demonstration, in Rome, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. The Jordan River is a winding, 200-plus-mile run to the east of Israel and the West Bank. The sea is the glittering Mediterranean to its west. But a phrase about the space in-between, “from the river to the sea,” has become a battle cry with new power to roil Jews and pro-Palestinian activists in the aftermath of Hamas’s murderous rampage across southern Israel Oct. 7 and Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Photo by Andrew Medichini/AP Photo

      Article content

      According to the CBC, anyone who dares criticize the phrase, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” is guilty of racism and Islamophobia.

      At least, that’s what can be gleaned from a Nov. 21 report by the public broadcaster that tries to explain the meaning of the phrase by quoting pro-Palestinian academics and activists at length. The article would have us believe that the chant merely expresses hope for freedom, rather than a desire to wipe Israel off the map.


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      When our national broadcaster starts to whitewash such hateful rhetoric it is hard not to see it as Stalinist disinformation.

      Objectivity seemed to be of little concern in the writing of this story. It’s noteworthy that the reporter who authored it signed a letter two years ago that dismissed the idea of “hearing both sides” in any Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an “excuse.” The letter accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing.” So much for journalistic impartiality.

      Such a report is useful, however, because there is obviously a great need to absolve the phrase, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” of any genocidal connections. Activists can’t go around saying Israel is committing genocide while chanting an expression that is itself a genocidal rallying cry.

      Hence the overwhelming desire by some to recharacterize the phrase as an expression of Palestinians wanting freedom from Israeli occupation. The CBC quoted Yousef Munayyer, head of the Palestine-Israel program at the Arab Center in Washington D.C., explicitly saying just that.

      “There is a deep history of racism and Islamophobia in the West towards Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims more broadly, which always throws upon them the worst of intentions and interpretations of their words,” he told the CBC.

      January 4th 2024

      Military & Defense

      Ukraine’s dwindling supply of Leopard 2 tanks aren’t being repaired because Europe doesn’t have enough spare parts, German politician says

      Matthew Loh

      Jan 3 2024

      A Leopard 2A6 tank used by Ukrainian troops on December 26, 2023 in Lyman Region, Kreminna Forest, Ukraine.
      A Leopard 2A6 tank used by Ukrainian troops on December 26, 2023 in Lyman Region, Kreminna Forest, Ukraine.
      • A German lawmaker says Ukraine is only using a few Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, per Der Spiegel.
      • Budget expert Sebastian Schäfer said many of the tanks are left in disrepair due to a lack of parts.
      • He said the situation is so dire that Ukraine’s mechanics are damaging the tanks when trying to fix them.
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      The world should fear 2024
      Escalation lurks on every battlefield
      BY Aris Roussinos

      The Future Is Bright.

      When asked in 2020 to envisage the world after Covid, Michel Houellebecq proclaimed, accurately enough, that “it will be the same, just a bit worse”. It does not take a soothsayer to foresee that the same will hold true for this coming year. The year 2023 saw the greatest global resurgence of armed conflict since 1945: 2024 will be worse. We are living, if not through a World War, then a world at war, the great post-globalisation jostling to divide up the spoils of what was once America’s unipolar imperium. This will be as epoch-defining a period as the late Forties were for Britain, or 1991 for Russia.

      Unlike the two World Wars, the rival great powers are not challenging the superpower directly — at least, not yet. Instead, American hegemony is being challenged obliquely, as its rivals nibble at the edges of empire, targeting weaker client states in the confidence that the United States now possesses neither the logistical capacity nor the domestic political stability necessary to impose its order on the world. In the Nineties and 2000s, at the height of its unipolar moment, the United States made almost all the world its client state, writing cheques for their security it now struggles to cash: like bankruptcy, decline comes slowly at first, then all at once. The overriding theme of 2024 then, like 2023, will be that of imperial overstretch precipitating retreat from global dominance. From the Red Sea to the Donbas, the jungles of South America to the Far East, America’s security establishment finds itself struggling to contain local blazes that threaten to become a great conflagration.

      Yet bad as things are, they could always be worse. We perhaps too easily forget that only six months ago, in the immediate wake of Prigozhin’s dramatic and unexpected rebellion, Russia’s security establishment was engaged in vigorous and public discussion over whether it was necessary to conduct a nuclear strike either in Ukraine, as a warning against the West, or against the West itself. So endemic has the sense of crisis, both globally and domestically, become that the most dangerous nuclear escalation since the Cold War went largely unremarked. We should be grateful that this moment passed, yet the fact it did pass is itself evidence of America’s weakening global position. The brief episode of nuclear anxiety came at a time when Putin’s Kremlin faced both an unprecedented internal threat and the risk of battlefield defeat, on the brink of Ukraine’s much-anticipated summer offensive. But the offensive, as we now know, faltered into a costly defeat for Ukraine, upturning the expected outcome of the war. For our now-lowered risk of nuclear war, Kyiv will pay a heavy price.

      Suggested reading

      Will Bidenism outlive Biden?

      By Gary Gerstle

      Like an inscrutable game of chess, the battle lines in Ukraine have barely moved this year, but expectations for the war’s outcome have been totally reversed. This time a year ago, the consensus was that the invasion was already a strategic defeat for Putin: his armies had proved unexpectedly ineffective on the battlefield, and had crumbled before Ukraine’s rapid autumn 2022 northeastern counteroffensive. Rather than breaking apart through its internal divisions, the Nato alliance had found a new sense of purpose, consolidating itself against the Russian threat and devoting vast quantities of already-existing and soon-to-be-produced materiel towards military victory. That mood of triumphalism has already passed. The promised war-winning Western increase in munitions production simply has not materialised, while Russia’s transition to a war economy, and its seizing of Western companies in response to a sanctions regime whose effects have proved the opposite to those intended, have granted Russia both renewed offensive potential and an economic boom to pay for it. The West imposed on Russia a war stimulus it should have embraced itself. It did not, and as a result this winter is a bleak one for Ukraine; but the year to come looks to be far worse.

      Through 2023, Kyiv and its Western backers gambled a successful conclusion to the war on a single armoured thrust in the country’s southeast, punching through Russia’s defensive lines and threatening its hold on the Crimea and Black Sea coast, forcing a humbled Putin into peace negotiations. That gamble failed, and there is now no viable path towards the expansive definition of victory adopted by Zelenskyy at a more buoyant phase of the war. Along the northern border and behind the current lines in the East, Ukrainian forces are hurriedly digging defensive lines, hoping to blunt Russia’s resurgent offensive power in the same way Russia’s fortifications chewed up its own newly-formed and Nato-trained armoured brigades. The “mountain of steel” donated for the offensive by the West will not be repeated; the wave of enthusiastic volunteers who initially manned the lines has been replaced by increasingly unwilling conscripts, with Kyiv planning a further mobilisation of half a million men just to hold the line.

      When Zelenskyy’s over-optimistic prognoses of the war’s conclusion were punctured by his military chief General Valerii Zaluzhny characterising the current state of play as a “stalemate”, it revealed growing internal political strife within the Kyiv leadership. But the hard reality is that now offensive momentum has passed to Russia, Ukraine forcing the war into a stalemate that will lead to peace negotiations looks as close to victory as will realistically be achieved. But as things stand, an increasingly confident Moscow shows no inclination towards peace talks without Ukraine making territorial and political concessions indistinguishable from surrender. That Zelenskyy’s senior advisors are floating the possibility of Putin’s sudden overthrow in Moscow as a possible path to victory shows the scale of the threat facing Kyiv. Short of a revolutionary deus ex machina in the Kremlin, the challenge for Ukraine in 2024 will be to hold its defensive lines, degrade Russia’s offensive power faster than its recruitment and industrial production can replace, and maintain the necessary political unity in Kyiv to steer the war towards the least painful conclusion possible. Of all these, perhaps the last will be the greatest challenge.

      More from this author

      The truth about the ethnic cleansing in Gaza

      By Aris Roussinos

      But as Kyiv struggles, the hegemon is already losing interest in Ukraine, distracted again by its decades-long enfeebling entanglement in the Middle East. Israel is both diplomatically and militarily dependent on the United States, but that relationship is not reflected in Netanyahu’s prosecution of his punitive war on Gaza. When US envoys beg Israel to scale down its war, Netanyahu immediately promises to intensify it. Even as American planners fret over the erosion of their precious munitions stockpiles by the Ukraine war, Israel is burning through US-donated supplies at an alarming rate. Until the US can increase its munitions production and replenish its arsenal, which may take years, every shell fired on Gaza or in eastern Ukraine weakens America’s deterrent power. The result will be the arms equivalent of the “hungry gap”, as its available military resources become increasingly unequal to its global commitments. This shortfall presents America’s rivals with a rare and unexpected window to challenge the superpower directly, in the knowledge that it will struggle to fight a high-intensity war of any great duration.

      But if the logic of armaments production, as well as the diplomatic isolation and domestic outrage fuelled by the Gaza war, drives the United States to seek a swift resolution to the conflict, the logic of events leads towards escalation. The risk of the conflict widening to Lebanon has not abated — if anything, Israel appears to be straining at the leash to extend its full-scale war across its northern frontier, as thousands of Israeli civilians have fled their homes as a result of the tit-for-tat exchange of artillery fire with Hezbollah. Yet the blockade of Red Sea shipping by Yemen’s Houthi movement has shown that Western countries face direct costs for their increasingly qualified support of Israel, and that regional powers are increasingly confident in challenging the United States directly.

      Having triumphantly survived a years-long war against Saudi Arabia, devastating to Yemen’s civilian population, in which Saudi forces deployed US jets, bombs and intelligence support to little battlefield effect, the risk of a short-lived American punitive bombing campaign must seem a manageable one to the Houthis. Knowing that America has no appetite for a wider conflict that will be seen both internationally and domestically as having been dragged into a war on Israel’s behalf, the Houthis now feel emboldened to attack US naval escorts directly. So politically toxic is Israel’s Gaza campaign that even America’s closest Nato allies prefer to keep their distance from American security efforts in the Red Sea, while as a result of poor procurement decisions, the US Navy is struggling to marshal the resources necessary to keep trade routes open, the basic function of a global empire. Balking at fighting Hezbollah or the Houthis directly, the prospect of a US attack on Iran, deemed an over-ambitious goal even at the height of US power, is unlikely in the extreme, which in turn feeds Tehran’s appetite for risk. Overstretched, wearing down its ships through over-deployment, and suddenly showing itself dependent on weaker, unenthused European allies to make up the numbers, in the Red Sea we are shown a glimpse of America’s naval performance in a future Pacific conflict: the results will be heartening to China.

      More from this author

      Ridley Scott: our Anglo-Saxon Maximus

      By Aris Roussinos

      Like an ailing mammoth, weakened by a succession of individual spear thrusts, the hegemon staggers bleeding across the global scene. Though stronger than any individual competitor, America is not capable of sustaining three simultaneous major conflicts against powerful regional rivals, without mobilising for a war effort unfeasible within its current political dynamics. At the height of its power, when America’s rivals were cowed and isolated, the United States assumed global security burdens that looked easily achievable at the time, while running down the industrial base necessary to sustain them. Bad choices were made, which are now difficult to undo. As a result, the United States has already shifted into a defensive mode, attempting to preserve its gains of better times against resurgent challengers, and delaying the grand-political reordering of global affairs for as long as possible. Yet unlike Russia, Iran or China, America’s democratic system incentivises short-term planning, and offers its leaders the escape route of shifting responsibility for failure to the next, rival administration. Heading towards what looks like an inevitable political defeat in 2024, the Biden administration is already drained of political authority, as tired and absent-minded as the gerontocrat at its helm.

      In an earlier phase of America’s history, the looming handover of power would be expected to happen smoothly, and continuity achieved in maintaining the empire’s strategic goals. No such continuity can be expected in 2024. America’s previous two elections were marked by the most serious waves of civil disorder and political instability in decades as each party and their factions within the state bureaucracy contested each others’ legitimacy, each deploying excitable civilians radicalised by their respective court press as proxy weapons. Over the course of the coming year, America will likely be roiled by its internal political dysfunction in a way we have never yet seen, and the rest of the world will live in the shadow cast by the contested imperial throne.

      Not just the fate of Ukraine but also of the Nato alliance will be determined by the battle for power in Washington. For Netanyahu, the incentive of America’s election year will be to drag the war out for another year, or widen it into a regional conflict, gambling Israel’s future security on the presumed greater indulgence of the incoming Republican administration. Similarly, for Iran, Hezbollah and the Houthis, the waning days of a cautious Biden administration desirous to avoid a Middle Eastern conflagration presents the greatest opportunity for escalation. For China, waiting in the wings to deliver the final blow, the optimum time to act will be at the moment of Washington’s greatest distraction by internal disorder: perhaps this election season will present an opportunity too rare to pass up, accelerating the timetable to seize Taiwan.

      The world is living through its most dangerous moment in many decades, and the logic of events, in every theatre, leads towards further escalation over the year to come. In 2024, America’s fraught domestic interregnum will create a feedback loop with the already bloody global interregnum for the spoils of its empire. Last year was a hard year, drenched in blood and human misery through global conflict: but in retrospect, we may view it as the last golden summer of our world order, with the troubling storms still distant on the horizon. The coming year will be a historic one: we are right to dread its approach.

      Join the discussion

      According to the CIA belief in conspiracies is a sign of serious mental illness – they never happen so Guy Fawkes was a fantasy.

      I have a feeling that there will be a lot of “I told you so” to people who wanted to see an end to American global hegemony. This is what a multipolar world looks like and it isn’t going to be pretty. Before too long, we will miss the days of America serving as the “World’s Policeman”.

      If there was any good news, I would say that increasingly in the West, the Culture Wars are shifting away from those who advocate divisive identity politics. People can see these ideas for the madness that they are and insane organisations like Stonewall and a raft of DEI measures are being scaled back and defeated both in the legal courts and those of public opinion, especially after things like 7th October. There’s still a long way to go, but I hope we are at least at the end of the beginning. These people have undermined our civilisation for too long and emboldened our enemies, we should show as much mercy as they would show us.

      John Dellingby



      Mr Sketerzen Bhoto

      Mr Sketerzen Bhoto

      2 days ago

      Reply to  John Dellingby

      Mid 1990s I would agree. If you can point to any stability brought by the wars in the Middle East, and North Africa I would be interested to learn. That and the export of their racial politics has destabilised Europe.

      Europe does need to grow up. Protect the garden – from immigration and wars. And in doing that we will come to conflict with the Americans – particularly the American left, who think that controlling borders is racist but killing a few million brown people a decade is ok. Look at the fevered response to Hungary in the US – a nation of 5 million people with a belief that it has a right to birder control, the great and good of the American left treat that nation as Nazi Germany.



      John L Murphy

      John L Murphy

      1 day ago

      Reply to  Mr Sketerzen Bhoto

      Hungary has nearly double the 5 million population claimed here. And they might be more concerned with ‘border’ rather than ‘birder’ control.



      Liam O'Mahony

      Liam O’Mahony

      1 day ago

      Reply to  John L Murphy

      Deal with the substantive point.. try not to be such a pedant..



      Liam O'Mahony

      Liam O’Mahony

      1 day ago

      Reply to  John Dellingby

      When you say “..we will miss the days of America serving as the World’s Policeman” I presume you are white, Christian (quasi at least, or Jewish (Aska-n¤z¡ at least) and/or live in an obedient US vassal state? If any of those doesn’t hold up then my guess is you’re looking forward to a better life from the blood stained rubble and famine that surrounds you? ..ie if you’re unfortunate enough to live in Palestine, Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or a dozen other states that failed to kowtow you might see the US’s slaughter of 8 million (US University study) unfortunate victims of “police brutality”. Smug is good though!



      J Bryant

      J Bryant

      2 days ago

      Unherd writers are not in an optimistic mood this New Year. Mary Harrington already provided a scholarly but glum assessment of America and its exported culture, and Aris has continued the theme into the military sphere. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I’m willing to tolerate, perhaps even hope for, something a bit more Pollyanna-ish in the New Year, if only for my mental health.
      My only slight point of disagreement is with the author’s characterization of the Biden administration as “Heading towards what looks like an inevitable political defeat in 2024,…” I’m not at all sure that’s an accurate assessment.
      We have yet to see the full force of the Democrat-aligned Establishment, including the legal system, the legacy media, and quite possibly the US security apparatus, unleashed against Trump. Yes, it’s a calculated risk by the Establishment because, even to some of his critics, he increasingly looks like a victim of dirty tactics, but I say never underestimate what the status quo can do to an unpopular candidate. And that’s what really scares me in 2024: the possibility of another four years of rule by the Dems.

      Russell Hamilton

      2 days ago

      Reply to  J Bryant

      All Aris needed to add is the overdue California big earthquake taking out America’s high-tech and entertainment industries ….



      D Walsh

      D Walsh

      2 days ago

      Reply to  Russell Hamilton

      And the Sun comes up over Arizona bay

      Dream a little dream



      John Hope

      John Hope

      2 days ago

      Reply to  Russell Hamilton

      Governor Newsome is accomplishing that goal all on his own. No earthquake required.



      Liam O'Mahony

      Liam O’Mahony

      1 day ago

      Reply to  Russell Hamilton

      Wishful thinking? How about the Yellowstone supervolcano? Or the La Palma (Canary Is) slip + 30m tsunami hitting the East Coast? Don’t forget the meteor strike and next pandemic, or CME ..sure wars are the least of our problems!

      Clare Knight

      2 days ago

      Reply to  J Bryant

      Really! You surprise me. What scares me is Trump being elected and becoming the dictator he has promised to be.



      Billy Bob

      Billy Bob

      2 days ago

      Reply to  Clare Knight

      Dictators are generally quite clever people, albeit ruthless and evil at the same time. Trump is a simpleton who couldn’t even get a wall built so I think you’re quite safe from America becoming a dictatorship if he’s re-elected



      Simon Boudewijn

      Simon Boudewijn

      2 days ago

      Reply to  Billy Bob

      Trump is the opposite of a Simpleton, he is one of the most astute people, and definitely the most fearless – the way he remains unbowed by 8 years of ceaseless attacks.

      I would call him one of the most amazing, clever, and courageous, un-corrupt global leaders in generations. I see him as civilizations last chance.

      How Hamas built a force to attack Israel on 7 October

      Related Topics

      Hamas training exercise in Gaza
      Image caption, Joint military drills were held between Palestinian armed factions from 2020 onwards

      By Abdelali Ragad, Richard Irvine-Brown, Benedict Garman and Sean Seddon

      BBC Arabic and BBC Verify

      Five armed Palestinian groups joined Hamas in the deadly 7 October attack on Israel after training together in military-style exercises from 2020 onwards, BBC News analysis shows.

      The groups carried out joint drills in Gaza which closely resembled the tactics used during the deadly assault – including at a site less than 1km (0.6 miles) from the barrier with Israel – and posted them on social media.

      They practised hostage-taking, raiding compounds and breaching Israel’s defences during these exercises, the last of which was held just 25 days before the attack.

      BBC Arabic and BBC Verify have collated evidence which shows how Hamas brought together Gaza’s factions to hone their combat methods – and ultimately execute a raid into Israel which has plunged the region into war.

      ‘A sign of unity’

      On 29 December 2020, Hamas’s overall leader Ismail Haniyeh declared the first of four drills codenamed Strong Pillar a “strong message and a sign of unity” between Gaza’s various armed factions.

      As the most powerful of Gaza’s armed groups, Hamas was the dominant force in a coalition which brought together 10 other Palestinian factions in a war games-style exercise overseen by a “joint operation room”.

      The structure was set up in 2018 to coordinate Gaza’s armed factions under a central command.

      https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.51.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

      WATCH: Videos reveal how armed groups trained together before 7 October attacks

      Prior to 2018, Hamas had formally coordinated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Gaza’s second largest armed faction and – like Hamas – a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK and other countries.

      Hamas had also fought alongside other groups in previous conflicts, but the 2020 drill was billed in propaganda as evidence a wider array of groups were being unified.

      Hamas’s leader said the first drill reflected the “permanent readiness” of the armed factions.

      The 2020 exercise was the first of four joint drills held over three years, each of which was documented in polished videos posted on public social media channels.


      More on Israel-Gaza war


      The BBC has visually identified 10 groups, including PIJ, by their distinctive headbands and emblems training alongside Hamas during the Strong Pillar drills in footage posted on the messaging app Telegram.

      Following the 7 October attack, five of the groups went on to post videos claiming to show them taking part in the assault. Three others issued written statements on Telegram claiming to have participated.

      The role of these groups has come into sharp focus as pressure builds on Hamas to find dozens of women and children believed to have been taken as captives from Israel into Gaza by other factions on 7 October.

      Three groups – PIJ, the Mujahideen Brigades and Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades – claim to have seized Israeli hostages, alongside Hamas, on that day.

      Efforts to extend the temporary truce in Gaza were said to be hinging on Hamas locating those hostages.

      Images of Palestinian militants during training

      While these groups are drawn from a broad ideological spectrum ranging from hard-line Islamist to relatively secular, all shared a willingness to use violence against Israel.

      Hamas statements repeatedly stressed the theme of unity between Gaza’s disparate armed groups. The group suggested they were equal partners in the joint drills, whilst it continued to play a leading role in the plans to attack Israel.

      Footage from the first drill shows masked commanders in a bunker appearing to conduct the exercise, and begins with a volley of rocket fire.

      It cuts to heavily armed fighters overrunning a mocked-up tank marked with an Israeli flag, detaining a crew member and dragging him away as a prisoner, as well as raiding buildings.

      We know from videos and harrowing witness statements that both tactics were used to capture soldiers and target civilians on 7 October, when around 1,200 people were killed and an estimated 240 hostages were taken.

      Masked men in military uniforms
      Image caption, The first Strong Pillar drill propaganda video showed a command room overseeing the joint exercise

      Telling the world

      The second Strong Pillar drill was held almost exactly one year later.

      Ayman Nofal, a commander in the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades – the official name for Hamas’s armed wing – said the aim of the exercise on 26 December 2021 was to “affirm the unity of the resistance factions”.

      He said the drills would “tell the enemy that the walls and engineering measures on the borders of Gaza will not protect them”.

      Another Hamas statement said the “joint military manoeuvres” were designed to “simulate the liberation of settlements near Gaza” – which is how the group refers to Israeli communities.

      The exercise was repeated on 28 December 2022, and propaganda images of fighters practising clearing buildings and overrunning tanks in what appears to be a replica of a military base were published to mark the event.

      Images of Hamas capturing tank crew members

      The exercises were reported on in Israel, so it’s inconceivable they were not being closely monitored by the country’s extensive intelligence agencies.

      The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have previously carried out air strikes to disrupt Hamas’s training activities. In April 2023, they bombed the site used for the first Strong Pillar drill.

      Weeks before the attacks, female surveillance soldiers near the Gaza border reportedly warned of unusually high drone activity and that Hamas was training to take over observation posts with replicas of their positions.

      But, according to reports in the Israeli media, they say they were ignored.

      Brigadier General Amir Avivi, a former IDF deputy commander in Gaza, told the BBC: “There was a lot of intelligence that they were doing this training – after all, the videos are public, and this was happening just hundreds of metres from the fence (with Israel).”

      But he said while the military knew about the drills, they “didn’t see what they were training for”.

      The IDF said they “eliminated” Nofal on 17 October 2023, the first senior Hamas military leader to be killed during the conflict.

      Images of Hamas taking hostages

      Hiding in plain sight

      Hamas went to great lengths to make sure the drills were realistic.

      In 2022, fighters practised storming a mock Israeli military base built just 2.6km (1.6 miles) from the Erez crossing, a route between Gaza and Israel controlled by the IDF.

      BBC Verify has pinpointed the site in the far north of Gaza, just 800m (0.5 miles) from the barrier, by matching geographic features seen in the training footage to aerial images of the area. As of November 2023, the site was still visible on Bing Maps.

      The training camp was within 1.6km (1 mile) of an Israeli observation tower and an elevated observation box, elements in a security barrier Israel has spent hundreds of millions of dollars constructing.

      Map showing the location of a Hamas training site

      The mock base is on land dug several metres below ground level, so it may not have been immediately visible to any nearby Israeli patrols – but the smoke rising from the explosions surely would have been, and the IDF is known to use aerial surveillance.

      Hamas used this site to practise storming buildings, taking hostages at gunpoint and destroying security barriers.

      BBC Verify has used publicly available information – including satellite imagery – to locate 14 training sites at nine different locations across Gaza.

      They even trained twice at a site less than 1.6 km (1 mile) from the United Nations’ aid agency distribution centre, and which was visible in the background of an official video published by the agency in December 2022.

      Map showing 14 training sites in Gaza

      Land, sea and air

      On 10 September 2023, the so-called joint committee room published images on its dedicated Telegram channel of men in military uniforms carrying out surveillance of military installations along the Gaza barrier.

      Two days later, the fourth Strong Pillar military exercise was staged, and by 7 October, all the tactics that would be deployed in the unprecedented attack had been rehearsed.

      Fighters were filmed riding in the same type of white Toyota pickup trucks which were seen roaming through southern Israel the following month.

      The propaganda video shows gunmen raiding mock buildings and firing at dummy targets inside, as well as training to storm a beach using a boat and underwater divers. Israel has said it repelled attempted Hamas boat landings on its shores on 7 October.

      Palestinian fighters training
      Image caption, The fourth and final Strong Pillar drill saw fighters training on raiding buildings

      However, Hamas did not publicise its training with motorcycles and paragliders as part of the Strong Pillar propaganda.

      A training video posted by Hamas three days after 7 October shows fences and barriers being demolished to allow motorcycles to pass through, a tactic they used to reach communities in southern Israel. We have not identified similar earlier videos.

      Footage of fighters using paragliding equipment was also not published until the 7 October attack was under way.

      In a training video shared on the day of the attack, gunmen are seen landing in a mock kibbutz at an airstrip we have located to a site north of Rafah in southern Gaza.

      BBC Verify established it was recorded some time before 25 August 2022, and was stored in a computer file titled Eagle Squadron, the name Hamas uses for its aerial division – suggesting the paragliders plan was in the works for over a year.

      Images of Hamas using motorcycles

      The element of surprise

      Before 7 October, Hamas was thought to have about 30,000 fighters in the Gaza Strip, according to reports quoting IDF commanders. It was also thought that Hamas could draw on several thousands of fighters from smaller groups.

      Hamas is by far the most powerful of the Palestinian armed groups, even without the support of other factions – suggesting its interest in galvanising the factions was driven by an attempt to secure broad support within Gaza at least as much as bolstering its own numbers.

      The IDF has previously estimated 1,500 fighters joined the 7 October raids. The Times of Israel reported earlier this month the IDF now believes the number was closer to 3,000.

      Whatever the true number, it means only a relatively small fraction of the total number of armed operatives in Gaza took part. It is not possible to verify precise numbers for how many fighters from smaller groups took part in the attack or the Strong Pillar drills.

      While Hamas was building cross-faction support in the build-up to the attack, Hisham Jaber, a former Brigadier General in the Lebanese army who is now a security analyst at the Middle East Centre for Studies and Research, said he believed only Hamas was aware of the ultimate plan, and it was “probable [they] asked other factions to join on the day”.

      https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.51.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

      Watch: Video purportedly shows captured Israeli tank in Gaza

      Andreas Krieg, a senior lecturer in security studies at Kings College London, told the BBC: “While there was centralised planning, execution was de-centralised, with each squad operationalising the plan as they saw fit.”

      He said people inside Hamas were said to be surprised by the weakness of Israel’s defences, and assessed militants had likely bypassed Israel’s surveillance technology by communicating offline.

      Hugh Lovatt, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Israel would have been aware of the joint training drills but “reached the wrong conclusion”, assessing they amounted to the “standard” activity of paramilitary groups in the Palestinian territories, rather than being “indicative of a looming large-scale attack”.

      Asked about the issues raised in this article, the Israel Defense Forces said it was “currently focused on eliminating the threat from the terrorist organisation Hamas” and questions about any potential failures “will be looked into in a later stage”.

      It could be several years until Israel formally reckons with whether it missed opportunities to prevent the 7 October massacre.

      The ramifications for its military, intelligence services and government could be seismic.

      Additional reporting by Paul Brown, Kumar Malhotra and Abdirahim Saeed. Video production by Soraya Auer.

      BBC Verify logo

      ” The Deplorables. Human Rights are Women’s Rights”.

      By R J Cook

      Comment Blinken is back in the Middle East, while his country reverts to the Middle Ages, for the fourth time since October 7/23. He is there to deal with the hell on earth unleashed by Biden and his so called Democrats. These hypocrits are brazenly working to rig the Presidential election as some of them believed they were trying on against Trump in 2016 when Clinton shouted worldwide, that she was robbed and her party spent Trump’s whole term attempting impeachment.

      Now they are using herasay to disqualify him from this year’s. Trump is a perceived threat to their war mongering profiteering planet eating foreign policy. They fly under the false colours of representing the underdog blacks, all women and other ethnics which is where Kamala comes in. Poor whites are , quoting Hilary Clinton, ” The Deplorables. Human Rights are Women’s Rights”. The U.S election system is wide open to abuse and light years from the model espoused in my old University text ‘Democracy in America’ by Alexis de Tocqueville.

      In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville, a young French aristocrat and civil servant, made a nine-month journey through eastern America. The result was Democracy in America, a monumental study of the strengths and weaknesses of the nation’s evolving politics.

      United States Democracy and its elderly corrupt elite run U.K parent, has clearly evolved into someting along the GDR model lines.

      R J Cook

      Jeffrey Epstein: Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton named in court files

      U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry March 28, 2017

      By Max Matza & Bernd Debusmann Jr

      BBC News

      The UK’s Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton are among high-profile figures named in US court papers detailing connections of late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

      The newly-released records form part of a case against Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s girlfriend who has been jailed for helping him abuse girls.

      But the documents so far unveil no major new allegations about Epstein nor revelations about his associates.

      Prince Andrew is accused of groping a woman, which he denies.

      Other names in the documents include singer Michael Jackson and magician David Copperfield, though no wrongdoing is alleged.

      Mr Clinton appears in a number of the documents. The former US president has acknowledged being a former associate of Epstein but has strongly denied he had any knowledge of his crimes.

      The first files from the much-hyped trove – covering about 900 pages – were released on Wednesday, after an order by New York Judge Loretta Preska, who acknowledged many of those named had already been identified by the media or in Maxwell’s criminal trial.

      Judge Preska said that many others did not raise an objection to the release of the documents. However, she ordered that some names remain redacted because they would identify victims of sexual abuse.

      Some of the more than 100 people on the list make allegations about other individuals, or are potential witnesses, and more documents are expected to be released in the coming days.

      Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2009 and took his own life in 2019 while awaiting trial over sex-trafficking charges.

      Prince Andrew grope claim

      The newly-released files include references to Johanna Sjoberg, who has claimed that Prince Andrew groped her breast while sitting on a couch inside Epstein’s Manhattan apartment in 2001.

      Buckingham Palace has previously said her allegations are “categorically untrue”. It has declined to comment on the newly-released documents, saying it no longer speaks on behalf of the Duke of York who no longer carries out royal duties. The BBC has approached Prince Andrew for comment.

      In one deposition, which has already been reported, Ms Sjoberg alleged that Prince Andrew put his hand on her breast to pose for a photo with another accuser, Virginia Giuffre, and a puppet that said “Prince Andrew” on it.

      https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.51.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

      In a 2019 BBC interview, Prince Andrew said he could not recall any incident involving Virginia Giuffre

      In 2022, the British royal paid millions to Ms Giuffre to settle a case she filed alleging he sexually abused her when she was 17 years old.

      Prince Andrew said he had never met Ms Giuffre and denied her allegations.

      Bill Clinton’s travels

      Former US President Clinton is also named in the court documents, although there is no implication of any illegality. When contacted for comment, his representatives referred to a statement he issued in 2019 saying he “knows nothing” about Epstein’s crimes.

      According to the records, Ms Sjoberg testified that Epstein once told her that Mr Clinton “likes them young, referring to girls”. Mr Clinton had an affair with a 22-year-old White House intern while he was US president.

      The files include testimony from Maxwell confirming that Mr Clinton had travelled on board Epstein’s private jet, but she did not know how many times.

      Mr Clinton travelled on Epstein’s plane on what were described as humanitarian trips to Africa in the early 2000s and at the time praised Epstein as a committed philanthropist, though said he later cut ties with him.

      The former US president’s 2019 statement said he was accompanied on his trips aboard Epstein’s jet by staff and supporters from his charity, the Clinton Foundation.

      “His Secret Service detail travelled on every leg of every trip,” his statement added.

      An aerial view of Jeffrey Epstein's island Little St James
      Image caption, An aerial view of Jeffrey Epstein’s island Little St James

      The court documents include a section where Maxwell’s lawyer seeks to debunk a media report that, shortly after he left office in January 2001, Mr Clinton travelled to Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.

      A lawyer for Maxwell said that the former US president “did not, in fact travel to, nor was he present on, Little St James Island between January 1, 2001 and January 1, 2003”.

      The lawyer added that if the claim were true, Secret Service agents would have been required to submit travel logs of the trip.

      Why is Trump mentioned?

      The document also includes testimony from Ms Sjoberg saying that Epstein told her he would contact Donald Trump on their way to one of his New Jersey casinos in 2001.

      “Jeffrey said, ‘Great, we’ll call up Trump’,” she testified, after pilots said their plane could not land in New York and would need to stop in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

      The documents contain no alleged wrongdoing by Mr Trump.

      Ms Sjoberg is asked at one point in the deposition whether she ever gave Mr Trump a massage, and she replies: “No.”

      Who are some of the others?

      Michael Jackson and David Copperfield: Ms Sjoberg said she had met the singer and the magician through Epstein, although she did not allege any wrongdoing by them.

      Jean-Luc Brunel: The French modelling agent who killed himself in a Paris jail in 2022 while awaiting rape charges, is also mentioned multiple times.

      In her deposition, Ms Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with prominent figures including New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Before his death last year, Mr Richardson denied ever meeting Ms Giuffre, and he was not charged with any crime.

      Alfredo Rodriguez: A household employee who was tasked with security for Epstein, described Maxwell as “the boss” in his testimony, according to the court files.

      Mr Rodriguez, who died in 2015, was told to carry cash at all times to give to high school girls, and the girls who were helping recruit for Epstein, the documents say.

      Epstein and Maxwell

      Epstein’s death in 2019 was ruled to be a suicide by the New York medical examiner.

      Maxwell, the daughter of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for her role as a recruiter for Epstein. Her lawyers are appealing against the sentence.

      Lawyers for Maxwell said in a statement cited by CNN on Wednesday: “She has consistently and vehemently maintained her innocence.”

      https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.51.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

      Watch: The secret lives of Maxwell and Epstein

      Related Topics

      More on this story

      January 3rd 2024

      Ukraine war: What Russia’s escalating air attacks mean

      Related Topics

      https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.51.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

      Watch: On site of blast crater metres from apartment block

      By James Waterhouse & Toby Luckhurst

      in Kyiv

      Russia’s Vladimir Putin vowed to increase attacks on Ukraine – now Kyiv is realising what he meant.

      On Tuesday night President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had launched 500 missiles and drones against Ukraine in just five days.

      At least 32 people have died in Ukraine’s capital in that time, 30 of them in one attack – on 29 December, when Russia launched one of the largest ever aerial attacks of this war.

      And it’s not just the capital. Nearly 60 people have been killed nationwide, with Kharkiv in the northeast, Zaporizhzhia in the south, Odesa on the southern coast and even Lviv in the far west all suffering strikes.

      Since launching its invasion Russia has never stopped attacking Ukraine by the air, but this latest series of strikes marks a deadly escalation.

      What does this new phase in the war mean for Ukraine? And what’s the plan behind Russia’s renewed aerial assault?

      Changing tactics

      Ukraine has not seen attacks as heavy as this since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

      And what’s different is not just the size of the strikes – it’s the tactics.

      The attack on 2 January lasted for six hours in Kyiv. The Russians launched a wave of drones at the capital. Ukraine’s air force said it was able to shoot down all 35 of them.

      But this was followed up with missile attacks, using different kinds of weapons in a bid to overwhelm and break through the city’s defences.

      Missiles have struck the very heart of Kyiv in these last five days, for the first time in months.

      “They’re always trying to find a better way to break our air defence systems and make their attack more efficient,” Oleksandr Musiyenko at Ukraine’s Center for Military Legal Research told the BBC.

      People outside a missile-struck building in Kyiv
      Image caption, Missiles struck the very centre of Kyiv in the last five days, for the first time in months

      That means using different kinds of missiles – hypersonic, cruise, and ballistic – but also firing these missiles along different routes. These weapons can change direction in the air over Ukraine, causing further headaches for air defence.

      Russia is also varying its focus. On 29 December, it aimed its weapons at cities across the country – on 2 January, just at Kyiv and Kharkiv.

      “The Russians tried to concentrate their attacking power… and just aim at one or two cities,” Mr Musiyenko said.

      The way Russia prepares for these strikes is changing too. Ukraine’s intelligence service, the SBU, reported on Tuesday it had found and deactivated “two robotic online surveillance cameras” that it says were hacked by Russia to spy on Kyiv’s defences and scout out targets.

      It’s not clear how long Russia can keep carrying out these large scale strikes.

      Analysis carried out by Ukrainian media suggests the attack on 29 December cost $1.273bn (£1.01bn) alone – while the attack on 2 January cost an extra $620 million (£491m), according to Forbes magazine.

      Ukraine had feared ahead of the winter that Russia was stockpiling weapons for large-scale attacks.

      Analysis published in Le Monde quotes Ukrainian officials who said Russia still has in its stockpile around 1,000 ballistic or cruise missiles, and is able to make around 100 more per month – such as Kalibrs and Kh-101s.

      But Mr Musiyenko says that Ukraine has also been preparing.

      Ukraine uses German-made Gepard anti-aircraft guns to tackle incoming drones, while Soviet-era Buk systems are used against cruise missiles and US-made Patriots against hypersonic Kinzhal missiles.

      A Ukrainian using a Gepard
      Image caption, German-made Gepards are used to shoot down Russian drones

      “We divided our systems for different types of threats,” he says, though of course this means relying on the West for ammunition and maintenance. “So of course it’s very important for us to get this support.”

      That is a key point now for Kyiv.

      With US aid bogged down in political infighting and the EU failing to produce even half of the one million artillery shells it promised by the end of 2023, Russia may well be launching these vast attacks at a time when Ukraine’s supplies could be drying up.

      Additional reporting by Anastasiia Levchenko and Hanna Chornous

      Readying For All Out War – By R J Cook

      Comment This situation is not complicated. Ukraine and their NATO Puppet Masters cheated and reneged on the Minsk Agreements regarding keeping Ukraine neutral and outside NATO. They have admitted doing this to buy time for an arms build up. They are so corrupt that they are perfect allies for the Anglo American NATO leadership. Russia wasted a lot of time which is why they did not make a blitzkrieg on Kiev. They were hoping for a negotiated peace settlement. That was never going to happen because this war is about Russian regime change, land and resource grabbing. The likes of Navalny have been important agents of the west. So, not surprisingly he has been sent to Siberia as an example to other aspiring traitors.

      Sky News Anchor Kay Burley pictured getting very excited about German, British and United States tanks being sent for the ‘freedom fight’ (sic) against Russia in Ukraine.

      Western hypocrisy with its deluded mercenaries are hard for me to stomach. The war has massively impacted on the masses’ cost of living horror. Russia must act very decisively if it is to correct an imbalance of power and ideology that is destroying the world. This is all for the sake of a hideously rich war mongering life squandering planet eating elite.

      Russia’s leadership knows the danger and that the western bully boys cannot accept what seems like inevitable defeat. They must muddy the waters and moralise about war crimes, as if that ever mattered to these people who haven’t even signed up to their own international laws. This is incredible bearing in mind what has been done to war crimes whistle blower Julian Assange who has basically been buried alive. It is nauseating to hear the Winston Churchill wannabe Boris Johnson raging on about democracy while scuppering the chance of a peace settlement at the outset. Ukraine was to be his finest hour and smokescreen for all his other failures and broken promises.

      Putin has few options in this situation. These include strengthening his alliances with Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and China. The Anglo Americans set this all on fire after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the First Oil Money Grabbing Gulf War in 1990 while the USSR was collapsing. It was the western elite’s unipolar moment. Russia’s military was paralysed. China had yet to emerge. The U.S showed their treachery by turning on their former ally Sadam Hussein a U.S creation , British educated and army trained. They baited him over Kuwait, leading him to believe he had a free hand to invade.

      These people would hang anyone to have the world and all it pleasures to themselves and their class. British and U.S Style democracies means selected ‘freedoms’ at temporary elite discretion – as we saw with lockdown and breadcrumbs from their masters’ tables. Current TV advertisements selling the armed forces as home to all of the most diverse applicants are supposedly about diversity ( sic ). They are inviting both genders et al to get shot at and die. It is a prelude to conscripting those of military age. The authorities are getting ready for all out war – World War Three. The ball is currently in Russia’s court.

      Sadam Hussein paid a high price for his loyalty to the western elite. He warned the western ‘leaders'( sic ) what would come. Here is his reward. The current hell of the Middle East is the consequence. Rather than face any sign of truth, the same killer elite have condemned Middle East War Crimes whistle blower Julian Assange to a long slow death in a harsh U.K jail. He knows too much. Putin will get no mercy from these people and so it will not be wise to give any or he will face asimilar fate or living death. Ukraine has promised to assasinate him.
      R J Cook

      R J Cook

      Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri’s assassination sparks wider war fears

      Related Topics

      Lebanese emergency responders gather at the site of a strike, reported by Lebanese media to be an Israeli strike targeting a Hamas office, in the southern suburb of Beirut on January 2, 2024.
      Image caption, Reports say a drone was used to carry out the attack in the Lebanese capital

      By Lyse Doucet

      Chief international correspondent

      The shadows stretching across the Middle East and beyond, since the start of the Israel-Gaza war, are now longer and darker with the killing of senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon.

      Arouri, a deputy political leader of Hamas, was killed in a drone strike in southern Beirut. He was a key figure in the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, and a close ally of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader. He had been in Lebanon acting as a connection between his group and Hezbollah.

      Even before the 7 October war erupted, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had warned that any targeted attack on Lebanese soil would trigger a “powerful response”.

      But Hezbollah and its Iranian allies know the shape of their reply now, in the burning heat of hostilities, could change the shape of this war – and Hezbollah’s fortunes.

      It was no secret it was only a matter of time before Hamas leaders outside Gaza would be targeted.

      Israel will “operate against Hamas leaders wherever they are”. That was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning in November.

      Months earlier, he explicitly mentioned Arouri. Hamas’s deputy leader was also on the US terrorism list with a bounty of $5m (£4m) on his head since 2018.

      Israel doesn’t usually confirm or deny assassinations, but this long conflict is a chronicle of targeted killings. It’s also a history of retaliation and revenge.

      Israel will now be braced for reprisals. There are clarion calls from Hamas leaders and their allies, from the streets of the occupied West Bank and beyond.

      Saleh al-Arouri (left) and Yahiya Sinwar (Oct 2017)
      Image caption, Saleh al-Arouri (left) masterminded attacks in the occupied West Bank

      Hezbollah and Hamas will need to do something, and be seen to do it.

      Hezbollah’s first statement called for patience.

      Before this moment, this well-armed military and political force had tried to confine its engagement to a war of words, as well as limited attacks across its southern border with Israel to avoid drawing Lebanon into another costly conflagration.

      The killing of a Hamas official who was a pivotal link to Hezbollah and Iran, in one of its strongholds in Beirut’s southern suburbs, has jolted its calculations. But it must be weighing up short-term spectacular strikes, against its much longer game.

      Its support along Lebanon’s volatile southern frontier is strong. But, in Beirut and beyond, memories of the devastating 2006 Israel-Lebanon war are still raw in a country now reeling from multiple crises of its own making.

      It is also no secret that senior Israeli figures have long been pushing to maximise this opportunity to eradicate Hezbollah’s threats to its northern communities.

      Reprisals and calculations

      Hostilities on this front have so far been sustained – but contained – as Israeli forces are stretched across Gaza and the West Bank.

      Israel’s staunchest ally, the US, has also repeatedly warned against taking the war to Hezbollah, which could have far-reaching reverberations.

      This new crisis provoked by the killing of Arouri and six others, including two Hamas military commanders, has come at a time of mounting tension on other fronts, including the vital Red Sea shipping lanes where Iran-backed Houthis have been attacking vessels they say are linked to Israel.

      Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant recently spoke of seven theatres from where Israel was under attack, including Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

      There is now an even louder chorus of calls for restraint, from Western capitals to Lebanese politicians and UN peacekeepers there, amid intensifying worry of an even wider war.

      But Israel has been categorical from the start.

      Its war aim is to “destroy Hamas”. That means going after its infrastructure, military and political leaders, and finances.

      Nearly three months on, it admits there is still a long way to go.

      Many Israeli foes, as well as friends, question if Hamas can be destroyed through military might and a campaign causing a staggering number of civilian deaths, and a dire humanitarian catastrophe giving rise to profound pain as well as deep-seated anger.

      The masterminds of Hamas’s 7 October atrocities in southern Israel, including Yahya Sinwar, are still believed to be hiding somewhere in Gaza despite Israel’s turbo-charged manhunt.

      Arouri’s death in Lebanon will be concentrating minds in Turkey and Qatar, where Hamas leaders are also based, believing they are safer there.

      It will be weighing heavy, too, on the minds of Israeli families whose loved ones are still being held hostage somewhere in Gaza.

      One of the first casualties of this assassination has been the halt in the indirect talks in Cairo about another exchange of hostages for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel jails.

      Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps insisting “only pressure will work”.

      Israel has now turned the screws even tighter.

      More than 100 killed in bomb blasts near Iran general Qasem Soleimani’s tomb – state TV

      https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.51.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

      Watch: Moment crowds disperse after deadly bomb blasts in Iran

      By David Gritten

      BBC News

      At least 103 people have been killed by two bomb explosions near the tomb of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on the fourth anniversary of his assassination by the US, Iran’s state media report.

      Scores of others were wounded when the blasts hit a procession near the Saheb al-Zaman mosque in the city of Kerman.

      Videos showed bodies on a road and ambulances rushing to the scene.

      Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed the “terrorist attack” would be met with a “harsh response”.

      There were no immediate claims from any groups for what is believed to have been the deadliest such attack in Iran in 42 years.

      Suspicion may fall on Arab separatists and Sunni jihadist groups like Islamic State (IS), who have carried out attacks on civilians and security forces in the country in recent years.

      Soleimani was seen as the most powerful figure in Iran after the supreme leader before he was killed in a US drone strike in neighbouring Iraq in 2020.

      Wednesday’s attack comes amid heightened tensions in the region after the deputy leader of the Iran-backed Palestinian group, Hamas, was killed in an apparent Israeli drone strike in Lebanon.

      Map showing location of twin bombings in Kerman, Iran (3 January 2024)

      Footage broadcast by Iranian state TV showed large crowds were taking part in a procession along a road lined with banners featuring Qasem Soleimani when the explosions happened.

      People could be heard screaming and then seen running away in panic after one of the blasts.

      Iranian media reported the first bomb was detonated around 15:00 local time (11:30 GMT), about 700m (2,300ft) from the Garden of Martyrs cemetery around the Saheb al-Zaman mosque, in the eastern outskirts of Kerman.

      The second bombing took place about 15 minutes later, around 1km away from the cemetery, targeting people who had fled the first, they said.

      Kerman province’s governor told state news agency Irna that both blasts happened outside security checkpoints and that authorities were sure they were caused by bombs. But he said it was not yet clear whether they were detonated remotely or by suicide attackers.

      The hard-line Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, earlier cited sources as saying that “two bags carrying bomb” were apparently detonated “by remote control”.

      “We were walking towards the cemetery when a car suddenly stopped behind us and a waste bin containing a bomb exploded,” a witness was quoted by Isna news agency as saying.

      “We only heard the sound of the explosion and saw people falling.”

      State media cited the local emergency services department as saying 103 people had been killed and another 211 wounded by the blasts. Some of the wounded were in a critical condition, they added.

      The Iranian Red Crescent said the dead included at least one paramedic who was sent to the scene of the first explosion and was hit by the second.

      Interior Minister Ahmad Vahid said the second blast killed and wounded the most people, and that an investigation had been launched to determine who was behind the attack.

      A person wounded by an explosion near Qasem Soleimani's tomb in Kerman, Iran, is treated beside an ambulance (3 January 2023)
      Image caption, State television says the blasts occurred in quick succession in the southern city of Kerman

      On Wednesday evening, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement expressing his condolences to the families of those killed.

      “The evil and criminal enemies of the Iranian nation once again created a disaster and martyred a large number of dear people in Kerman,” he said.

      “Be it those with innocents’ blood on their hands or those corrupt minds that led to this atrocity, they will be met with firm crackdown and fair punishment, commencing immediately,” he added. “They should know that this disaster will have a harsh response, God willing.”

      President Ebrahim Raisi called the bombings a “cowardly act” carried out by “Iran-hating criminals and the henchmen of terror and darkness”.

      The former British ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, told the BBC that it was not clear who was behind the bombings.

      “There are clearly opposition groups who have the ability, albeit quite constrained, to carry out violent attacks,” he said. “I don’t think they are regime-threatening attacks, but it will certainly raise the temperature.”

      UN Secretary General António Guterres strongly condemned the attack and expressed his “deep condolences to the bereaved families and the people and the government” of Iran, his spokesman said.

      The EU said it condemned the bombing “in the strongest terms” and expressed its “solidarity with the Iranian people”, while Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack “shocking in its cruelty and cynicism”.

      The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement – a powerful armed group that like Hamas is backed by Iran – said the victims were “martyrs who died on the same road, cause and battle that was led by” Soleimani.

      As commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operations arm, the Quds Force, Soleimani was an architect of Iranian policy across the region.

      He was in charge of the Quds Force’s clandestine missions and its provision of guidance, funding, weapons, intelligence, and logistical support to allied governments and armed groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas.

      Then-US President Donald Trump, who ordered the 2020 drone strike, described Soleimani as “the number-one terrorist anywhere in the world” and alleged that troops under his command had murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen over the previous two decades.

      Iran’s government accused the US of an act of international terrorism and issued arrest warrants for Mr Trump and other officials.

      January 2nd 2023

      Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri killed in Beirut blast

      Related Topics

      Saleh al-Arouri (left) and Yehiya Sinwar (Oct 2017)
      Image caption, Saleh al-Arouri (left) masterminded attacks in the occupied West Bank

      By Raffi Berg & Graeme Baker

      BBC News

      Israel has insisted the assassination of a Hamas leader in Beirut was not an attack on Lebanon, as its enemies warned of “punishment” for his death.

      An Israeli spokesman said Saleh al-Arouri had died in a “surgical strike against the Hamas leadership”.

      Hamas condemned the death, while its ally Hezbollah said it was an assault on Lebanese sovereignty.

      Lebanon’s prime minister, meanwhile, accused Israel of trying “to drag Lebanon into… confrontation”.

      Lebanese media report that Arouri, a deputy political leader of Hamas, was killed in a drone strike in southern Beirut along with six others – two Hamas military commanders and four other members.

      He was a key figure in the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, and a close ally of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader. He had been in Lebanon acting as a connection between his group and Hezbollah.

      Israeli spokesman Mark Regev stopped short of confirming Israel had carried out the assassination, a standard position for Israeli officials, but he told MSNBC: “Whoever did it, it must be clear that this was not an attack on the Lebanese state.

      “It was not an attack even on Hezbollah, the terrorist organisation.

      “Whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership. Whoever did this has a gripe with Hamas. That is very clear.”

      Arouri, 57, is the most senior Hamas figure to be killed since Israel went to war with the group after its 7 October attack.

      On that day, waves of Hamas gunmen invaded Israel and attacked communities around the border, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 to Gaza as hostages.

      Israel launched a military offensive in response, with the declared aim of destroying Hamas.

      Since then, more than 22,000 Palestinians – mostly women and children – have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

      Hezbollah has fired scores of rockets into Israel and fought several skirmishes with Israeli forces during the Gaza war.

      Lebanon’s state news agency said Arouri had been killed by an Israeli drone attack on a Hamas office in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh.

      Scene of blast in Beirut (02/01/24)
      Image caption, Arouri is reported to have been killed in a drone strike on a third floor

      A witness from Reuters news agency saw firefighters and paramedics gathered around a high-rise building where there was a large hole in what appeared to be the third floor.

      Video footage on social media showed a car in flames and extensive damage to buildings in what is a busy residential area.

      Dahiyeh is known as a stronghold of Hezbollah.

      Mr Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political wing, called the attack a “cowardly… terrorist act, a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty, and an expansion of its circle of aggression”.

      Hezbollah said that it considered Arouri’s death “to be a serious assault on Lebanon, its people, its security, sovereignty, and resistance, and the highly symbolic and significant political and security messages it contains”.

      It said the attack was “a dangerous development in the course of the war… and we in Hezbollah affirm that this crime will never pass without response and punishment.

      “Its hand is on the trigger, and its resistors are in the highest levels of readiness and preparedness,” it added.

      Iran, a major supporter of both groups, said Arouri’s killing would “undoubtedly ignite another surge in the veins of resistance”.

      An Israeli security cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening to discuss the post-war plan for Gaza was cancelled.

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously vowed to eliminate Hamas’s leaders, wherever they are.

      Arouri was also considered the de facto leader of Hamas’s military wing in the West Bank, overseeing attacks there, according to Israeli media reports.

      He is believed to have been involved in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank in 2014, reports say, and had served time in Israeli jails for other attacks.

      The Times of Israel says he was also one of the Hamas officials most closely connected to Iran and Hezbollah.

      Israel says war in Gaza expected to continue throughout 2024

      This image from Gaza defines what Israel is up against and why it will never achieve peace with Radical Islam. R J Cook.

      More than 21,800 people have been killed in Gaza – mostly children and women

      By George Wright

      BBC News

      The Israeli military has said it expects the conflict in Gaza to continue throughout 2024.

      In a new year’s message, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said troop deployments were being adjusted to prepare for “prolonged fighting”.

      Daniel Hagari said some troops – especially reservists – would be withdrawn to allow them to regroup.

      “These adaptations are intended to ensure the planning and preparation for continuing the war in 2024,” he said.

      “The IDF must plan ahead out of an understanding that there will be additional missions and the fighting will continue the rest of the year.”

      He said that some reservists would leave Gaza “as soon as this week” to allow them to “re-energise ahead of the coming operations”.

      Some 21,978 people – mostly women and children – have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Its latest update said 56,697 people in Gaza had been wounded over the same period.

      The figures included 156 people killed and 246 injured in the last 24 hours, the ministry added.

      The latest war was triggered by an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas gunmen on southern Israel on 7 October, in which 1,200 people were killed – most of them civilians – and about 240 others taken hostage.

      Israel continued its bombardment of Gaza up until the end of what has been a dark year in the region.

      The IDF said it killed a senior Hamas commander involved in the 7 October attack, Adil Mismah, in an overnight strike on the town of Deir al-Balah.

      The Gaza health ministry reported at least 48 deaths in overnight bombing in Gaza City. Witnesses told the AFP news agency that another strike killed 20 people sheltering at Al-Aqsa University in the city’s west.

      Another strike on Monday morning was said to have killed at least 10 people in the al-Maghazi refugee camp.

      The BBC has not been able to verify the latest battlefield reports.

      A resident of northern Gaza displaced to the south of the enclave highlighted the contrast between New Year celebrations around the world and the situation in Gaza.

      “Tonight the sky in world countries will be lit by firecrackers, and joyful laughs will fill the air,” Zainab Khalil, 57, told Reuters on Sunday.

      “In Gaza our skies are now filled with Israeli missiles and tank shells that land on innocent, homeless civilians.”

      The UN says 85% of Gaza’s 2.4 million people – almost two million – have now been displaced.

      Thousands of doses of vaccines against childhood diseases, including polio and measles, have been delivered to Gaza, to help tackle a growing health emergency, Reuters reports.

      The news agency quoted the Palestinian health ministry as saying that supplies estimated to cover vaccinations for up to 14 months had entered through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

      Speaking from Rafah, Ayadil Saparbekov from the World Health Organization told the BBC that vaccines were crucial because of the conditions in which Gazans were living.

      “Thousands of people live together in overcrowded camps with very poor water conditions, poor hygiene and very poor sanitation – these are all breeding grounds for various diseases,” he said.

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that “the war is at its height”.

      “We are fighting on all of the fronts,” he said. “We have huge success but we also have painful cases. Achieving victory will require time.

      “As the (army) chief of staff has said, the war will continue for many more months.”

      Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for Palestinians to leave Gaza and make way for Israelis who could “make the desert bloom”.

      The official line from the Israeli government is that Gazans will eventually be able to return to their homes, though it has yet to outline how or when this will be possible.

      Air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and southern Israel as it saw in the new year, with Israeli missile defence systems intercepting rockets fired from Gaza, AFP reported.

      One man who was in Tel Aviv celebrating the new year with friends said: “I was terrified, like it was the first time I saw missiles. It’s terrifying.”

      Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a video posted on social media that it carried out both attacks.

      They said M90 rockets were used in “response to the massacres of civilians” perpetrated by Israel.

      Related Topics

      Ukraine hit again after Putin vows intensified strikes

      Firefighters work to rescue a local resident from a site of a residential building heavily damaged during a Russian missile attack, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine January 2
      Image caption, Residential buildings were hit in several areas of Kyiv in another day of Russian strikes

      By James Waterhouse in Kyiv & Oliver Slow in London

      BBC News

      Russian missiles have hit Ukraine’s biggest cities, leaving at least five dead and dozens hurt, after Vladimir Putin vowed to intensify attacks.

      A woman was killed and 44 others were hurt in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, according to local officials.

      Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said two people died and 49 were wounded in a strike on blocks of flats in the Solomianskyi district of the capital.

      Two more deaths were reported in the broader Kyiv region.

      There have been major aerial assaults by both sides in recent days.

      Russia launched its biggest aerial bombardment of the war late last week, killing more than 40 people. Ukrainian forces responded with an attack on the Russian border city of Belgorod on Saturday, which killed at least 25 people and injured more than 100.

      Russia’s Vladimir Putin vowed that attack would not go unpunished and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said since Sunday alone, Moscow had fired 170 drones and dozens of missiles.

      Ukraine’s air force said on Tuesday that it had downed 35 drones launched by Russia on Monday night. Russian strategic bombers then followed up the drone strikes with further attacks.

      Ukraine’s armed forces said after the drone strikes 99 missiles of various kinds had been fired in a repeat of last Friday’s onslaught, from sea and air. They said 72 cruise and supersonic missiles had been destroyed.

      Poland said it had deployed four F-16 fighter jets to secure its airspace in light of Russia’s “long-range aviation activity”. Last Friday Poland said an unidentified object, probably a Russian missile, had entered Polish airspace for several minutes before turning back towards Ukraine.

      A number of apartment blocks were hit in the wave of Russian attacks on Tuesday
      Image caption, A number of apartment blocks were hit in the wave of Russian attacks on Tuesday

      Kyiv officials said debris from Russia’s attacks had hit high-rise flats, warehouses and supermarkets, and that two people including an elderly woman had been killed by a missile in the Solomianskyi district to the south-west of the centre.

      Hanna, a resident of the building, told the BBC she managed to escape by climbing through her kitchen window after the missile landed outside.

      “I want Putin to die very much… and everyone who supports him,” she told the BBC. “Because today’s event ruined the lives of hundreds, in one minute. There have been a lot of hits before this. A lot killed. All this is on [Putin]. I think he will burn in hell.”

      Power and water supplies were cut to several areas of the capital and gas pipelines were damaged in one district.

      Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said the centre of the city was hit and the air force said it was prepared for further attacks.

      The mayor of Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine, said air defences had brought down drones in the city, with debris causing a fire.

      The Kharkiv regional governor said a 91-year-old woman died and 44 others were wounded
      Image caption, The Kharkiv regional governor said a 91-year-old woman died and 44 others were wounded

      On New Year’s Day, six civilians were killed by Russian strikes in various Ukrainian cities.

      In a separate development, Russian-installed officials in the occupied city of Donetsk said four people were killed and 13 wounded by Ukrainian shelling on Sunday.

      Mr Putin suggested that Western rhetoric towards the war was beginning to change as they started to realise they could not “destroy” Russia.

      Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky countered these claims in an interview with The Economist, saying Mr Putin’s suggestion that Russia was winning the war was only a “feeling”. He highlighted Russia’s casualty figures in Ukraine, and said the opposing forces had been unable to take a single large city in 2023.

      Mr Zelensky also expressed frustration with Kyiv’s Western allies, saying they had lost a sense of urgency.

      January 1st 2023

      Brics: What is the group and which countries are joining?

      The Brics group of countries is due to take in five new member states, from Africa and the Middle East.

      The organisation wants a greater say for emerging economies.

      What does Brics mean and who are the new members?

      In 2006, Brazil, Russia, India and China created the “Bric” group. South Africa joined in 2010, making it “Brics”.

      Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are due to enter on 1 January.

      No name for the expanded group has been announced, but it is thought it might be “Brics +”.

      Argentina was invited to join but its new president, Javier Milei, has said it will not.

      Brics countries make decisions at an annual summit. Members of the group take turns to be its president for a year.

      Why does Brics matter?

      Brics countries include major world powers, such as China and Russia, and countries which are major powers on their continent, such as South Africa and Brazil.

      The expanded group has a combined population of about 3.5 billion, or 45% of the world’s population.

      Its combined economy is worth over $28.5tn – about 28% of the global economy.

      Brics countries will also be producing about 44% of the world’s crude oil.

      Diagram showing Brics members and their GDPs

      However, Brics countries say that Western nations dominate important bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which lend money to countries.

      They have called for a “greater voice and representation” for emerging economies.

      In 2014, the Brics nations set up the New Development Bank to lend money for development.

      By the end of 2022, it had lent nearly $32bn to emerging nations for new roads, bridges, railways and water supply projects.

      This is China’s main aim for Brics, says Prof Padraig Carmody, an expert in development geography at Trinity College Dublin.

      “Through Brics, China is trying to grow its power and influence – especially in Africa,” he says. “It wants to be be the leading voice for the Global South.”

      Russia, the other major world power in Brics, has a different purpose for it.

      “Russia sees it as part of its fight against the West, helping it to overcome the sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine,” says Creon Butler of the London-based think tank Chatham House.

      Iran’s membership could increase the anti-Western nature of Brics, he adds.

      Will a Brics currency replace the dollar?

      Nations often use the US dollar to trade between themselves.

      Leading politicians in Brazil and Russia have suggested creating a Brics currency, to reduce its dominance. However, this was not discussed at its 2023 summit.

      It would be impractical for Brics nations to create a common currency because their economies are so different, says Professor Carmody.

      However, “they may consider in the future creating some new currency to be used for international trade payments, or a cryptocurrency for international trade,” he says.

      Is Brics a rival to the G20?

      The G20 group was set up in 1999 for developed and developing nations to discuss global problems, such as financial crises and climate change.

      However, the Brics group contains many of the countries which are in the G20.

      In future, they may work in tandem, says Dr Irene Mia from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank.

      “Together, they might push for more money for developing nations to tackle climate change, or to reduce the power of the US dollar as the world’s currency,” she says.

      How will Russia use its 2024 Brics presidency?

      Russia will host the Brics summit in Kazan in October.

      Vladimir Putin has said he will use the presidency to:

      • increase the role of Brics in the international financial system
      • develop cooperation between banks and expand the use of Brics currencies
      • promote collaboration between tax and customs authorities

      “With Brics, Russia will want to show the West that it still has friends and allies in the rest of the world, despite its invasion of Ukraine,” says Dr Mia.

      Putin vows to ‘intensify’ attacks against Ukraine military targets

      By Ali Abbas Ahmadi

      BBC News

      President Vladimir Putin has pledged to “intensify” attacks against Ukraine, following days of aerial bombardment by both sides in the long-running war.

      Speaking during a visit to a military hospital in Moscow, Mr Putin said the military would continue targeting Ukrainian “military installations”.

      He called an air raid on the Russian city of Belgorod by Ukraine a “deliberate strike against civilians”.

      Twenty-five people were killed in Saturday’s attack, local officials say.

      Speaking to Russian servicemen on Monday, Mr Putin said the war was turning in Moscow’s favour and he wanted the war to end quickly, but only on Russia’s terms.

      He added that Ukraine’s Western supporters were the biggest obstacle to ending the conflict, but said their rhetoric was beginning to change as they started to realise they cannot “destroy” Russia.

      On Sunday, Mr Putin delivered his traditional new year’s message where he hailed Russian soldiers as “heroes” without explicitly referring to the war in Ukraine.

      In his own new year address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised a sharp increase in the number of weapons the country produces in 2024, pledging to build at least a million drones.

      Damage to a shopping centre in Belgorod, Russia, seen on Saturday 30 December
      Image caption, Russia says a Ukrainian attack on the city of Belgorod damaged buildings including a shopping centre

      Russia and Ukraine have exchanged deadly attacks over the past few days.

      Ukraine shelled the Russia-held Ukrainian cities of Donetsk on New Year’s Eve, according Moscow-installed officials, which killed at least four people and wounded 13.

      And on Saturday, Ukrainian forces launched a series of strikes on targets in south-west Russia, including the strike on Belgorod which Mr Putin termed a “terrorist attack”.

      Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Monday that the death toll had risen to 25 following the death of a young child who was seriously injured in the attack.

      “Today, a 4-year-old girl died in a regional children’s hospital. She was in a highly serious condition with combined injuries to the chest and internal organs,” Mr Gladkov wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

      The girl’s death brought the number of child victims of the attack to five, the governor said. He added that 109 people were wounded in the air raid, with 45 currently in hospital.

      Last week, Russia launched a widespread attack across several cities all across Ukraine, killing at least 45 people. Those strikes were described by Kyiv as Russia’s biggest missile bombardment of the war so far.

      Related Topics

      More on this story

      December 31st 2023

      In a plea to Republicans not to block further military aid earlier this month, Biden warned that if Putin was victorious over Ukraine then the Russian leader would not stop and would attack a NATO country.

      “Never in the field of human bullshit has so much manure been aimed by so many rats to such a big and worthy target.”

      If not stopped in Ukraine, Putin could threaten Poland, others, Biden warns

      20.10.2023 09:30

      US President Joe Biden has warned that if the world does not stop Vladimir Putin’s appetite for power, the Russian leader will not limit himself to Ukraine but could threaten the security of other countries, including Poland.

      US President Joe Biden.

      US President Joe Biden.Photo: EPA/JONATHAN ERNST

      “If we don’t stop Putin’s appetite for power and control in Ukraine, he won’t limit himself just to Ukraine,” Biden said in a televised speech on Thursday.

      “He’s — Putin has already threated to ‘remind’ — quote, ‘remind’ Poland that their western land was a gift from Russia,” Biden added, as quoted by the White House.

      “One of his top advisors, a former president of Russia, has called Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania Russia’s Baltic ‘provinces,'” Biden also said in his address, speaking of Putin. “These are all NATO allies.”

      Prezydent Stanów Zjednoczonych Joe Biden powiedział, że nie można pozwolić, by Rosja przejęła kontrolę nad Ukrainą, ponieważ następne w kolejności mogą być Polska lub kraje bałtyckie https://t.co/QTn26n9zds — PolskieRadio24.pl (@PR24_pl) October 20, 2023

      He told Americans: “For 75 years, NATO has kept peace in Europe and has been the cornerstone of American security. And if Putin attacks a NATO ally, we will defend every inch of NATO which the treaty requires and calls for. We will have something that we do not seek — make it clear: we do not seek — we do not seek to have American troops fighting in Russia or fighting against Russia.”

      We cannot—and will not—let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win.

      I refuse to let that happen. pic.twitter.com/o2hGvfSNwu — Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 20, 2023

      Biden told the nation that America’s allies “and, maybe most importantly, our adversaries and competitors” beyond Europe “are watching … our response in Ukraine as well.”

      President Biden declared it is “vital for America’s national security” for Israel and Ukraine to succeed in their wars, making the case for deepening U.S. involvement in these two unpredictable conflicts as he prepared to ask for billions in military aid to both countries. pic.twitter.com/5NRgeStsUO — The Associated Press (@AP) October 20, 2023

      He warned: “And if we walk away and let Putin erase Ukraine’s independence, would-be aggressors around the world would be emboldened to try the same.  The risk of conflict and chaos could spread in other parts of the world — in the Indo-Pacific, in the Middle East — especially in the Middle East.”

      President Biden on why funding Israel and Ukraine matters to Americans. https://t.co/NFeRPNf8fr pic.twitter.com/ku5eKy0HlE — CNN (@CNN) October 20, 2023

      In a major speech in Warsaw in February, Biden said that America and its allies “will not tire” of supporting Ukraine and that “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia.”

      Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

      Friday is day 604 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

      “War Does Not Determine Who Is Right, Only Who Is Left” – Bertrand Russell.

      Comment The United States and the U.K disgustingly wealthy elite are desperate for war profits and planet eating world supremacy. They will risk world war if necessary. Biden is the apparently wise old front man who has the world in his hands. He has recently said that if Putin cannot be defeated he will put U.S troops on the ground. The U.K will inevitably follow, leading to Europe and the wider world’s worst nightmare. Biden has his sponsors and Demoprat army.

      The worst seems increasingly likely. Zelensky’s political rival has talked openly of Putin’s pre war police plan which Boris Johnson, the dangerous Churchill wannabe did so much to scupper. Biden’s administration has made clear that the war is about regime change so that westerm money men and oligarch parasites can go back to asset stripping and dumbing down Russia. That is why Trump is such a threat because he is not part of a corrupt system that has so much in common with Zelensky’s Ukraine and Sunak’s Police State U.K.

      Vladimir Putin stated in his New Year’s Eve Address said that :”Russia will never back down.” He praised his military’s work and sacrifice. The west does not understand or like this sentiment. I do and know from experience why he has no choice, just as I have no choice as I face another Crown Court Trial in January. I am a coward. Putin is not.

      The west prefers to forget the key role that Russia played in defeating Nazi tyranny. Meanwhile the great and good of the United Kingdom call for more weapons at gullible tax payer’s expense who think they are enduring a cost of loving crisis.

      R J Cook

      Israel-Gaza war

      Watch: Gaza hospital in chaos after nearby air strikeIsrael warns Hezbollah and Lebanon over border fighting

      Victims of an Israeli army strike react outside of Kuwait hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 28, 2023, as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

      Moment baby pulled alive from rubble after air strike on Gaza. Video, 00:00:27Moment baby pulled alive from rubble after air strike on Gaza


      Baby being pulled from rubble

      Watch: Palestinian girl shows bombed remains of house. Video, 00:01:18Watch: Palestinian girl shows bombed remains of house


      Nadeen Abdulatif

      Watch: Gaza hospital in chaos after nearby air strike. Video, 00:00:26Watch: Gaza hospital in chaos after nearby air strike

      War explained


      A True 21st Century U.S Democrat – Down With The Deplorables.

      FILE – Secretary of State Shenna Bellows speaks at an event, Jan. 4, 2023, in Augusta, Maine. Bellows on Thursday, Dec. 28, removed former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot under the Constitution’s insurrection clause, becoming the first election official to take action unilaterally in a decision that has potential Electoral College consequences. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
      Southern U.S. border established 1853
      TOP NEWS
      US Political News Maine Secretary Targeted After Removing Trump from Ballot SHARE*       READ MORE
      There is absolutely no evidence that Donald Trump had anything to do with the so called Capitol Hill Insurrection.There is, however, evidence of FBI involvment with doors being opened from the inside. Clinton’s crew had never stipped complaining that she had been robbed of victory in 2016, even writing it in to her feminist memoir. Then came every Democrat trick in the book and it’s happening again. No wonder people are angry, but Clinton called that sort ‘ The Deplorables.’ There is a Ukraine War and more hideous profit at stake here.Trump has to be stopped. To hell with his supporters who were once the backbone of a once great nation.
      R J Cook.

      About the Author

      Robert Cook
      facebook https://www.facebook.com/rj.cook.9081 I went to school in Buckinghamshire, where my interests were music ( I was a violinist ), art ( winning county art competitions ) athletics and cross country ( I was a county team athlete ). My father died as a result of an accident- he was an ex soldier and truck driver- when I was 11. It could be said that I grew up in poverty, but I did not see it like that. As a schoolboy, I had my interests, hobbies and bicycle, worked on a farm, delivered news papers, did a lot of training for my sport, painting, and music. I also made model aeroplanes and was in the Air Training Corps, where we had the opportunity to fly an aeroplane. I had wanted to be a pilot, but university made me anti war. At the University of East Anglia-which I also represented in cross country and athletics- I studied economics, economic history, philosophy and sociology. Over the years, I have worked in a variety of manual, office and driving jobs. My first job after univerity was with the Inland Revenue in Havant, near Portsmouth. I left Hampshire to work for the Nitrate Corporation of Chile, then lecturing, teaching and journalism - then back to driving. I play and teach various styles of guitar and used to be a regular folk club performer. I quit that after being violently assaulted in Milton Keynes pub, after singing a song I wrote about how cop got away with killing Ian Tomlinson at G7, in broad daylight and caught on camera. The police took no action, saying taht my assailant had a good job. The pub in question was, and probably still is, popular with off duty police officers.

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