After a devastating earthquake hit Syria and Turkey, killing thousands of people, the US State Department showed no interest in lifting crippling economic sanctions on Syria that are specifically designed to prevent the country’s reconstruction.
As of Monday night, the earthquake has killed at least 2,921 people in Turkey and 1,444 in northwest Syria, including in Syrian government-controlled territory and areas controlled by anti-government fighters.
The Syrian Health Ministry said 711 people died in government-controlled territory. In areas of Syria’s northwest Idlib province that are mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an al-Qaeda-linked group, reports said 733 people had died.
Key Republican members of Congress are launching a two-front campaign to pressure the Biden administration to send Ukraine more advanced weapons, Defense One reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the plan.
One aspect of the campaign is to pressure Biden administration officials through closed-door briefings. The other is to apply public pressure, something Republican leadership has been doing throughout the war.
The main demand from the hawkish Republicans is for the US to provide MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, F-16 fighter jets, and Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which have a range of up to 190 miles. Providing Ukraine with either weapon would significantly escalate US military aid and bring the US and Russia closer to a direct clash.
In what Austin journalist Christopher Hooks has called “one of the stupidest news cycles in living memory,” the entire American political/media class is having an existential meltdown over what the Pentagon claims is a Chinese spy balloon detected in US airspace on Thursday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled his scheduled diplomatic visit to China after the detection of the balloon. The mass media have been covering the story with breathless excitement. China hawk pundits have been pounding the war drums all day on any platform they can get to and accusing the Biden administration of not responding aggressively enough to the incident.
“The important thing that the American people need to understand, and what we are going to try to expose in a bipartisan fashion on this committee, is that the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party is not just a distant threat in East Asia, or a threat to Taiwan,” House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher told Fox News on Friday. “It is a threat right here at home. It is a threat to American sovereignty, and it is a threat to the Midwest — in places like those that I live in.”
Economics provides an easy way to arrive at a solution to the conflict in Ukraine. Let the party that has the most at stake, the most "skin in the game," determine the solution. The party with the most skin in the game is the one that has the most at risk and, therefore, is most likely to choose the option that solves the problem in the best possible way. This applies whether the issue is running a business or choosing a foreign policy.
Here’s an example of how skin in the game works. Let’s say you’re in business with a partner. You own 80 percent of the business and your partner owns 20 percent. Who should have the greater say in how to run the business? You should. You’ve got the most to gain and lose. You’ve got the most skin in the game. This is how business law works. The party with the greater ownership share, the most skin in the game, is the one that has greater control.
Now take that same example and assume that you also know more about how to run the business than your partner. With more skin in the game and more knowledge about the business, you should definitely be the one in charge.
In the Ukraine conflict the parties with the most skin in the game are the residents of the Donbas. The war is being fought right on their doorstep. Yet even though the people of the Donbas have by far the most skin in the game, they have little say in whether the war continues or not.
Russia had diverted most of its fuel oil and vacuum gasoil (VGO) exports to Asia and the Middle East even before the EU embargo on Russian petroleum products came into effect on February 5, according to data from traders and Refinitiv cited by Reuters.
Last month, the European Union took less than 5% of Russia’s fuel oil and VGO, with Greece, Latvia, and Italy importing small volumes of those products, according to the data.
Traders believe that these volumes could easily be redirected to other destinations, mostly in Asia.
India has emerged as a large buyer of Russian fuel oil in the past two months, according to trade flow data cited by Reuters.
Cargoes diverted to Asia and the Middle East have started to increasingly use ship-to-ship (STS) loadings and transfers, especially near Kalamata in Greece, Ceuta in Spain, and Skagen in Denmark.
Syrians suffering through years of war, displacement, and brutal weather are now facing the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that killed hundreds of people.
Millions of people in northwest Syria have been left vulnerable by 12 years of conflict, according to the United Nations, which says 2.9 million people in the region have been displaced and 1.8 million are living in camps.
A steady stream of injured flowed into an overwhelmed hospital in the town of Darkush, in rebel-held northwestern Syria, after the deadly earthquake struck on Monday. Mothers hovered over crying children.
Amid the chaos, one man sat with a dazed expression, his face covered with abrasions.
The man, Osama Abdul Hamid, barely made it out alive with his wife and four children from his apartment building in the nearby village of Azmarin. Many of their neighbours were not so lucky.
The Arab League condemned on Monday “the open war and the organized Israeli crimes” against the Palestinian people, which led to the death of dozens since the beginning of this year.
Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, warned of the silence about the deterioration in the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories with the escalation by the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank.
Aboul-Gheit made the remarks during a meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, with the representative of the European Union for the peace process in the Middle East, Sven Koopmans.
To get the weapons for massive destruction, Zelensky lied and promised that the weapons would not be used to target Moscow. Kiev’s forces will not hold back when it comes to hitting locations inside Russia, according to Fyodor Venislavsky, a member of the Ukrainian parliament’s National Security, Defense, and Intelligence Committee. Speaking to Germany’s Bild tabloid on Saturday, he also described Moscow as a “legitimate military target.” The West is arming Ukraine for long-range missile attacks on Moscow. Putin and the hardliner will now have NO CHOICE and will be fully justified in nuking Ukraine to end the war the same way the United States nuked Japan.
The corruption in the Western media is astonishing. This is not being reported in the USA or Europe. It is being reported in the Middle East and in Russia. The international fake news organization, Trusted News Initiative (TNI), a consortium to control all the mainstream Western Media, is promoting World War III and we are to be told Russia is evil and we must go to war to destroy every individual Russian on the planet. There is no longer any independent journalism left. I had learned in grade school history class that the media created the Spanish American War. Pulitzer later felt guilty and donated his assets to Columbia University to hand out awards for journalists when Pulitzer was the father of yellow journalism and sheer corruption.
This coming week a new House select subcommittee will hold its first hearing on the FBI and the possible “weaponization” of government agencies. A variety of such controversies have contributed to plunging public trust in government and the FBI in particular.
The role of the FBI in prior scandals will remain a point of heated debate in Congress. However, members of both parties should be able to agree on the need to investigate one of the most serious allegations: Censorship by surrogate.
Many of the allegations of FBI bias are worthy of investigation. Some of those allegations are problems of personnel who can be removed. But a far more menacing problem has emerged in recent months with the release of information from Twitter.
The “Twitter files” revealed an FBI operation to monitor and censor social media content — an effort so overwhelming and intrusive that Twitter staff at one point complained internally that “they are probing & pushing everywhere.” The reports have indicated that dozens of FBI employees worked on the identification and removal of material on a wide range of subjects and that Twitter largely carried out their requests.
Nor was it just the FBI, apparently. Emails reveal FBI figures like a San Francisco assistant special agent in charge asking Twitter executives to “invite an OGA” (or “Other Government Organization”) to an upcoming meeting. A week later, Stacia Cardille, a senior Twitter legal executive, indicated the OGA was the CIA, an agency under strict limits regarding domestic activities.
Twitter’s own ranks included dozens of ex-FBI agents and executives, including James Baker, who featured greatly in prior FBI instances of alleged bias.
Ukraine had withdrawn from its libraries about 19 million copies of books by last November that came either from the Soviet era or were in Russian, a senior lawmaker said on Monday.
Yevheniya Kravchuk, deputy head of the Ukrainian parliament's committee on humanitarian and information policy, said that of the 19 million books, 11 million were in Russian.
"Some Ukrainian-language books from the Soviet era are also written off," Kravchuk said according to a statement published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada, the country's parliament.
"There are also recommendations to write off and remove books whose authors supported armed aggression against Ukraine."
Ukraine in recent days requested Israel publicly condemn the Russian invasion and approve a $500 million loan to the Ukrainian government, one Israeli official and one Ukrainian official told Axios.
Why it matters: The requests were made ahead of Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen's expected visit to Kyiv this week. It will be the first visit by an Israeli minister to Ukraine’s capital since the Russian invasion one year ago.
- A Ukrainian official told Axios the government in Kyiv sees Cohen's visit and whether he responds positively to its requests as a test of the new Israeli government’s intentions and policy towards the war.
Driving the news: Cohen is expected to meet in Kyiv with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and reopen the Israeli embassy, which was closed several days before the Russian invasion.
- Israel is the only Western country that hasn’t permanently reopened its embassy in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have expressed disappointment with the partial operations.
Former South Carolina Governor and Trump official Nikki Haley is expected to announce a presidential run later this month. Haley’s political career has established her as a strong supporter of Israel, and she’s highlighted that record in recent months. She first teased the notion of running for the GOP nomination at a Christians United for Israel (CUFI) event last summer.
In 2015 Haley became the first Governor to sign legislation targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The bill became a template for stifling Palestine activism throughout the country, and 35 states currently have such a law in effect. The bill was first initiated by South Carolina State Rep. Alan Clemmons, who brought a delegation of Texas lawmakers to the Israeli Knesset shortly before that state passed its own anti-BDS bill.
“Christians in the US and Americans in general have a great deal of respect for Israel,” said Clemmons at the time. “We believe God has given us a duty to support Israel, so it was not a huge leap for South Carolina to stand up for Israel when it is being terrorized economically by the discriminatory, antisemitic practices engaged in by the BDS movement.”
Patriot missile batteries that Poland acquired from the U.S. last year have been deployed to the country’s capital Warsaw as part of military exercise, according to Poland’s defense ministry.
Poland is taking additional steps to strengthen its defensive capabilities as Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine enters its second year later this month.
At least three ground-to-air missile launchers were seen Monday at Warsaw’s Bemowo airport.
Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter over the weekend that the redeployment of the missile batteries from their base in Sochaczew, central Poland, to Warsaw was “an important element to the training” of the 3rd Warsaw Brigade of Missile Air Defense.
Politico says, “The new calendar — recommended by President Joe Biden and his advisers and approved by a majority vote of the DNC — elevates South Carolina to the first-place position in the primary calendar on February 3, replacing the Iowa caucuses, which held the coveted perch for a half-century.”
Democrats say there shouldn’t be a single state that gets to go first, as Iowa has for many years. They also pointed out how they want to diversify the voters participating early in the electoral process. Biden released his own opinion, which put states that gave him a leg up in the election, like South Carolina, as the first states.
Despite Beijing's protest over the US decision to shoot down a Chinese civilian research balloon, it seems the US won't be giving back what little remains of the device. US officials have said a study of the wreckage will reveal much but have not elaborated on what exactly will be brought to light.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan has admitted that while recovering the Chinese balloon will take time, the Biden administration intends to retrieve the device in order to "exploit what we recover and learn even more than we have learned."
South Korea's military said on Monday it had tracked a North Korean balloon over its territory, but determined it did not pose a threat.
The balloon briefly entered South Korean airspace on Sunday, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement, adding it in response had taken unspecified “measures”.
The craft left South Korean airspace a few hours later and officials believe it was a weather balloon not one intended for spying activities, Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed official.
Evidence has emerged casting serious doubt over the authenticity of tests carried out by BioNTech (Marketing Authorisation Holder) and Pfizer to prove the fidelity of their product by demonstrating that only the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 is expressed in cells by the nucleoside-modified mRNA Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (BNT162b2).
Several Western Blot tests were conducted to evaluate the protein expression of the mRNA in HEK cells transfected with the vaccine taken from different lots. Using this technique, the expressed proteins showed up as highly unusual looking ‘bands.’
Certain independent scientific experts have described these Western blots as the “smoking gun” evidence (particularly the “duplication” of the results) which suggest that BioNTech and Pfizer falsified key data as part of their submissions to the European Medicines Agency and the US Food and Drug Administration for securing emergency use authorisation (conditional) and later marketing authorisation approval of their product.
The bombshell evidence was dropped without so much as a ripple in the sea of brewing scandals washing up on the shores of the behemoth pharmaceutical company and its partner, BioNTech. However, some in the scientific community have taken notice and written about this scandal, known on social media as #Blotgate.
The fact there could be actual evidence to prove that Pfizer and BioNTech engaged in fraud by fabricating critical data would have major ramifications. For instance, their indemnity status (protection from any legal liability resulting from deaths or injuries caused by their product) which was written into their purchasing contracts and signed by many countries, would cease to apply.
A pro-life church has been ordered to pay the Planned Parenthood abortion chain nearly $1 million in fines and fees for holding supposedly disruptive worship services outside of its Spokane, Washington facility.
According to The Christian Post, a judge ruled against The Church at Planned Parenthood in 2021, saying its pro-life members “interfered” with patients’ “access to health care” in violation of state law during worship services outside its Spokane abortion facility.
Then, in January, the court ordered the church to pay $110,000 in damages and $850,000 in legal fees to Planned Parenthood, The Guardian reports.
Responding to the order, Pastor Ken Peters said the case basically came down to the issue of a single hour.
According to information at Russia’s disposal the United States has deployed a network of biological laboratories in a number of states neighboring Russia, where under the auspices of the US Department of Defense, research involving dangerous viruses and other pathogens is underway. The US argues that the laboratories act in the interests of the security of the United States and its allies, and rejects the suspicion that biological weapons are being created there.
The UK-based BP is still the shareholder in Rosneft and has revised the value of its package (20%) to $24 bln, CEO of the Russian oil major Igor Sechin said at the India Energy Week.
"We see with the interest in audited annual statements that BP, which is our 20% shareholder, has revised the value of the Rosneft stake to $24 bln. That is, BP is still with us," Sechin said.