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Thu, 29 Jul 2021
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Russian defense minister: US is pulling out of Afghanistan, but still trying to 'watch what's going on over the fence'

Shoigu
© RT
RT interview with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has told RT that, despite US President Joe Biden's plans for a full troop withdrawal within the next few months, Afghanistan still faces American efforts to interfere in its internal affairs.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, the military chief said US intentions to monitor the advance of insurgents from afar indicated that Washington still has plans for the Central Asian nation long after all its troops leave the country later this summer. "Why are you coming out if you're still trying to watch what's going on from over the fence?" he asked.

Shoigu went on to say that American officials are engaged in "pesky" negotiations with nations across the region to set up and maintain logistics centers and hubs for military equipment to be moved through. These could also serve to help extract Afghans who cooperated with US forces, and now fear retribution as Islamist forces gain ground. The Taliban, a prohibited terrorist organization in Russia, now claim to have occupied the majority of the country, and forces loyal to the government in Kabul have sought refuge from fighting in nearby Tajikistan.

Comment: See also: US steps up airstrikes this week to support Afghan forces


Arrow Down

Nancy Pelosi's on her last legs

Pelosi
© AP/Scott Applewhite
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Nancy Pelosi used to point her angry finger at Donald Trump, but she leaves him in the dust when it comes to busting norms, dividing Congress and causing mayhem. If anyone is to blame for the hyper-partisanship in Washington these days, it's the spiteful House speaker.

She behaves more like a Mafia don waging a gang war than a dignified, fair and honest presiding officer, which is what the speaker's role requires.

Pelosi abuses her power in ways that once were unthinkable. Her speakership has been the antithesis of Lincoln's entreaty to "the better angels of our nature." Everyone in Congress — and, by extension, the nation — has been sullied by the spite and vitriol she has injected into the political sphere. There is no grace or Christian charity, just the barren wasteland of the zero-sum game, power for power's sake.

It's made all the worse by her increasingly frantic claims to be a "devout Catholic."

The fact that all this venom is packaged in the shape of a small, elderly, expensively shod woman has bestowed upon her an element of deference her actions do not deserve. But last week there were a couple of signs that she's finally worn out her welcome.

Target

Big Tech companies to target right-wing militias & 'attacker manifestos' through same database used to identify terrorists

ProudBoys speaker
© Reuters/Alisha Jucevic
Proud Boys Second Amendment Rally in Salem Oregon
A joint 'counterterrorism' organization formed by Big Tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft will begin more aggressively targeting right-wing militia groups and manifestos on their platforms.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) has primarily focused on videos and images released by terrorist groups identified by the United Nations, including the Taliban.

The group will be expanding the scope of material they target in the coming months, according to a report from Reuters. New material flagged will include "attacker manifestos" often linked to white supremacism, as well as right-wing and neo-Nazi militia groups allegedly posing a threat. Right-wing groups that have grown in popularity in the last few years, like the Proud Boys and Three Percenters, have already been identified in the system.

Included in this Big Tech group are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others. The sharing of information between companies allows them to see what content is being banned and, in turn, they can ban similar content on their platform.

Comment: The public voice is now at the mercy of an elite non-government power structure to point, accuse and censor. What are its connections to private data? Access? Provider?


Jet5

US steps up airstrikes this week to support Afghan forces

F-15C Eagle
© Sr. Amn. Keifer Bowes/Air Force/U.S. Air Forces Central Command
An F-15C Eagle refueling
The U.S. military this week has launched additional airstrikes in support of Afghan government forces in their fight against the Taliban, using both conventional warplanes and armed drones, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The strikes, following several conducted last week, indicate stepped up U.S. support after weeks of battlefield gains by the Taliban as U.S. troops complete their withdrawal. The aircraft are being flown from bases outside of Afghanistan because the U.S. military has pulled all of its combat planes out of the country.

"A number of strikes have occurred over the last several days from both manned and unmanned strike platforms," Maj. Robert Lodewick, a Pentagon spokesman, said. He did not provide further details. Other officials had said last week's airstrikes targeted Taliban positions in combat as well as military equipment that had been captured by the Taliban.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, who is overseeing the U.S. military withdrawal and making decisions on air support for Afghan troops, said on Sunday that airstrikes had been increasing. "We're prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks," McKenzie said.

He also said the U.S. was providing "contract logistics support both here in Kabul and over-the-horizon in the region, funding for them, intelligence sharing, and advising and assisting through security consultations at the strategic level."

Mr. Potato

Off his meds? Zelensky says Ukraine is rightful heir to historic Kievan Rus & 'distant relatives' like Russia should not claim it

zUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
© AFP / Stephanie Loos
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
In a rebuke to an essay written by Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed his view that "distant relatives," like Moscow, should not try to claim the history of the Kievan Rus.

Zelensky was speaking on the 1,033rd anniversary of the Baptism of Kievan Rus, when Vladimir the Great converted to Christianity. This society was a loose federation of peoples in modern-day Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, all united under a monarchy - the Rurik dynasty.

Comment: Putin is correct. Ukraine in its current form, as a nation state, was not created due to centuries of homogenous cultural development.

The history of Ukraine as an artificial state


Eye 2

Rep. Jim Banks: Pelosi booted me from January 6 Probe to hide her responsibility for security breakdown

jim banks nancy pelosi capitol hill riot investigation

Vodka Nan had Rep. Banks deep-sixed from the Jan 6 "investigation" for calling out her security failures as head of the Capitol Police
Representative Jim Banks (R-ID), one of the two GOP lawmakers blocked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from serving on the January 6 Select Committee, said on this week's broadcast of Fox News Sunday that the Speaker was trying to avoid questions about her responsible for the "breakdown of security" that allowed for the storming the Capitol.
"It's more clear than ever that Nancy Pelosi is not interested in investigation. She's only interested in a narrative. She claims the reason that she booted me from the committee was because of antics on the part of Jim Jordan and I. In hindsight, what I realize what she means by that now is that we were prepared to ask questions that no one else has asked and demand answers as to why the Capital was vulnerable to an attack on January 6th? Why was there a systemic breakdown of security at the Capitol on January 6th? If you're going to investigate January 6th, why not ask those questions? That's all that this comes down to. She has already predetermined a narrative about Donald Trump, about Republicans. She doesn't want to talk about what happened at the Capitol that day to make sure something like that never happens again."

Comment: It's not looking good for Vodka Nan. Will the 'I hold the gavel' martinet be able to pull this off, or will her underlings finally have enough?


Green Light

North Korea, South Korea discuss summit, rebuilding blown-up liaison office: sources

Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in
© AP
Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in
North and South Korea are in talks to reopen a joint liaison office that Pyongyang demolished last year and hold a summit as part of efforts to restore relations, three South Korean government sources with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have been exploring ways to improve strained ties by exchanging multiple letters since April, the sources said on condition of anonymity due to diplomatic sensitivity.

The discussions signal an improvement in ties that have deteriorated in the past year after three leaders' summits in 2018 promised peace and reconciliation.

Inter-Korean talks could also help restart stalled negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes in return for sanctions relief.

Cow Skull

Biden says cyberattacks could lead to a 'real shooting war' with a major power

bullshit meter
The US is constantly accusing Russia and China of cyberattacks

The US is constantly accusing countries like Russia and China of carrying out cyberattacks, and comments from President Biden on Tuesday suggest he could use these claims as a pretext for military intervention. He warned that if Washington ended up in a "real shooting war with a major power," it could be the result of a cyberattack on the US.

"You know, we've seen how cyber threats, including ransomware attacks, increasingly are able to cause damage and disruption to the real world," Biden said in a speech during a visit to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "I think it's more likely we're going to end up — well, if we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it's going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence."

Comment: How many times now has the US political/security/media establishment accused Russia and/or China of cyberattacks or hacking with ZERO credible evidence?! More times than we care to list here - that's for sure! But here are just a few:


Chess

China pledges support for Taliban in Afghanistan, but demands it cut ties to East Turkestan Islamic Movement

taliban meet china foreign ministry
© China Foreign Ministry handout
The Taliban delegation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin on Wednesday.
Afghanistan's reconstruction, while demanding that it cuts ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement - blamed by Beijing for attacks in its Xinjiang region.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks during talks with a nine-member delegation led by the Taliban's chief negotiator and co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in the northern city of Tianjin on Wednesday.

It was the first time a senior member of the organisation had visited China since the Taliban's capture of several key districts in Badakhshan and Kandahar provinces. Taliban fighters have taken control of around half the country up to its border with the Chinese region of Xinjiang, and US air strikes continue to support Afghan security forces.

Comment: China realized it was in its best interest to engage the Taliban as early as 2016: Along with Russia, they have the pragmatism to understand that dialogue is the only way to bring security to all players in the region:


Vader

Ecuador bows to the Empire: Strips Julian Assange of citizenship

assange protest sign
© Vuk Valcic/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock
Pro-Julian Assange protesters at Piccadilly Circus, London demanding his release from Belmarsh prison.
Authorities cite unpaid fees and problems in naturalisation papers relating to WikiLeaks founder

Ecuador has revoked the citizenship of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who is currently in a British prison.

Ecuador's justice system formally notified the Australian of the nullity of his naturalisation in a letter that came in response to a claim filed by the South American country's foreign ministry.

A naturalisation is reconsidered when it is granted based on the concealment of relevant facts, false documents or fraud. Ecuadorian authorities said Assange's naturalisation letter had multiple inconsistencies, different signatures, the possible alteration of documents and unpaid fees, among other issues.

Comment: The UK, the US, and Assange: A tale of three extraditions