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Windsock

ECHR rules Russia was responsible for death of Litvinenko, former FSB agent who defected to Britain's MI6 - Moscow denies role

Litvinenko
© AFP / FREDERICK FLORIN/Getty Images / Natasja Weitsz;
Alexander Litvinenko. (inset) The European Court of Human Rights.
Europe's top human rights court has ruled that Moscow's security services were behind the 2006 death by poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer who moved to London and defected to Britain's MI6.

In a judgement issued on Tuesday morning, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concluded that "Russia was responsible for assassination of Litvinenko in the UK."

The spy, who ran key operations in the war-torn region of Chechnya during the bloody civil conflict in the early 1990s, began working for the UK's MI6 foreign intelligence service after leaving Russia in 2000. He was recruited, officials said, to provide "useful information about senior Kremlin figures and their links with Russian organized crime." In his absence a court in Moscow found him guilty of corruption and sentenced him to three-and-a-half years behind bars.

Comment: Over the years it has become blatantly clear the ECHR are compromised, and so for insight into just which group was likely responsible for the murder of Litvinenko, check out SOTTs: See also:


Newspaper

Sudan coup attempt has failed, government says

Sudan coup protest
© Ibrahim Ishaq/AFP/GettyPeter Beaumont and agencies
Demonstrators blocked Port Sudan this week in protest at a peace deal with rebel groups.
Sudan's fragile political transition has been plunged into uncertainty after a reported coup attempt by soldiers loyal to the former autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019.

As Sudan woke up to the government's claims of the alleged coup, details - including the individuals behind it - remained murky. Bashir himself came to power after a military coup in 1989.

Amid reports of sporadic shooting at a base in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, which is linked to the capital by bridge, government officials said the coup involving military officers and civilians linked to the deposed regime had failed.

Comment: See also:


Blue Planet

UN Speech: Biden seeks to rally countries to confront urgent threats

Biden
© AP/Timothy A. Clary
US President Biden addressing UN General Assembly
UN Headquarters • September 21, 2021
President Biden on Tuesday sought to rally nations behind confronting urgent global challenges like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

He described the world as being at an inflection point that will determine the collective future of all countries.

Biden said in prepared remarks in New York on Tuesday morning:
"This is the clear and urgent choice that we face here at the dawning of what must be a decisive decade for our world. A decade that will quite literally determine our futures. Whether we choose to fight for our shared future or not will reverberate for generations yet to come."
Biden spoke about his efforts to rebuild alliances and renew commitments to multilateral organizations and described the recent U.S. military exit from Afghanistan as not a retreat from the world stage but rather a pivot to a new chapter of "relentless diplomacy."

Comment: Excerpt of US President Joe Biden, addressing the Plenary at the United Nations in New York:


Other remarks
by Commander-in-Chief Joe Biden:
President Joe Biden has told the UN General Assembly that the US' "period of relentless war" is over.

Biden painted the US' disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan as a success, given that the two-decade war was finally brought to an end under his watch.

Conflict was a central theme of Biden's speech, and he described the coming decade as "an inflection point in history."

The US will refocus its priorities on the Indo-Pacific region, Biden stated, before claiming that he was not seeking a "new Cold War" - despite increasing tensions with China. However, while Biden promised to "do so with our allies and partners through cooperation and multilateral institutions," his recently unveiled security partnership between the US, UK, and Australia has left America's European allies snubbed.

In keeping with his campaign messaging of a more cooperative US on the world stage, Biden called on his fellow leaders to work together to fight climate change and the "borderless" threat of Covid-19. The American president delivered a globalist message of international cooperation highlighting his administration's rekindling of ties with the World Health Organization and rejoining of the Paris climate agreement, as well as a pledge to spend $100 billion on helping the developing world combat global warming.

Back in the realm of military affairs, Biden stressed that the winding down of the 'War on Terror' will not mean the end of the US' fight against terrorism.
"Those who commit acts of terrorism against us will continue to find a determined enemy in the United States. Today, we're better equipped to detect and prevent terrorist threats and we are more resilient in our ability to repel them and to respond."
Biden, however, has drawn scathing criticism for the confusion surrounding the US evaluation of Kabul that allowed an ISIS-K suicide bomber to kill 13 US troops at the city's overcrowded airport last month, and for a retaliatory drone strike that wiped out a family of Afghan civilians, killing zero terrorists.

While ISIS-K and Al-Qaeda members are reportedly operating in Afghanistan once again, Biden's anti-terror crusade will also seemingly focus on his own citizens. Echoing the words of former President George W. Bush:
"We must also remain vigilant to the threat of terror that terrorism poses to all our nations, whether emanating from distant regions of the world or in our own backyard. There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home," whom he called "children of the same foul spirit."
Despite what many see as a humiliating retreat from Afghanistan, amid diplomatic fury over his latest security deal, and even with his approval ratings plummeting in a divided US, Biden closed his half-hour speech on an optimistic note.
"I stand here today, the first time in 20 years the United States is not at war. We've turned the page. All the unmatched strength, energy, commitment, will and resources, our nation are now fully and squarely focused on what's ahead of us, not what was behind."
US reparations? Not a word - a hollow man of sound and fury signifying nothing.


Target

House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power

Pelosi
© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled legislation that aims to curtail presidential power and protect against abuse of power by future presidents, in an apparent rebuke of President Trump's time in the White House.

The bill, dubbed the Protecting Our Democracy Act, includes a number of tenets to prevent presidential abuses, restore checks and balances, strengthen accountability and transparency and protect elections.

It is sponsored by nine House Democrats — all of whom chair committees — and is supported by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It also includes legislation offered by a number of other Democratic lawmakers.

The group mentioned the Trump administration in its description of the bill on its website, writing that some "aggrandizement" of presidential power "reached new heights" under the former president. The bill's website reads:
"The proposals respond to longstanding vulnerabilities in our democracy that have allowed for the aggrandizement of presidential power, many of which have been exploited over decades by presidents of both parties, and some of which reached new heights through the actions of the Trump administration. PODA responds to these abuses as lessons from which both parties must learn."

Comment: Rep. Adam Schiff and other Dems reveal their new legislation, however, a nonstop rant on Trump overshadows every aspect of the bill, aimed to deflect the current presidential fiasco in office.


Washington Post had previously outlined some of the bill's aspects:
Schiff, Nadler and Lofgren are co-authors of the bill, along with Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.).

The bill gives the independent Office of Special Counsel express authority to investigate suspected violations of the Hatch Act, and issue fines of up to $50,000 for every violation that the president fails to discipline himself.

The package mirrors several measures to better regulate the relationship between the White House and Justice Department, which Democrats believe has been too cozy under the leadership of Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr. It reflects a proposal from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) requiring the attorney general to keep a log of certain communications with the White House and periodically share it with the DOJ inspector general and Congress, and a bill from Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) exempting the time a president or vice president spends in office from the statute of limitations for any federal crime. Nadler's measure seeks to ensure that the Justice Department's policy against indicting sitting presidents does not become a means for avoiding prosecution entirely.

The measure also includes several provisions to limit the president's ability to interfere with congressional appropriations, by putting a time limit on emergency declarations and prohibiting the president from holding back congressionally-approved funding any later than 90 days before it expires — a change that aims to close a loophole the administration has used to effectively cancel unspent funds, particularly foreign aid, near the end of the fiscal year.



Stop

Democrats want mandate to stop banks from funding oil and gas after 2030

Oil wells/cash
© zhengzaishuru/iStock
Ban funding fossil fuel projects
Several progressive House Democrats introduced this week a bill seeking to mandate the Fed to ban banks from funding all fossil fuel projects after 2030, and require the systemically important large banks to align emissions financing with U.S obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) introduced the so-called Fossil Free Finance Act, which would require the Federal Reserve to mandate that all bank holding companies with more than $50 billion in assets and all nonbank Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs) align their financing of greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation risk commodities with science-based emissions targets.

The bill requires the Fed to mandate large banks to commit to 50 percent reduction in financed emissions by 2030 and 100-percent reduction in financed emissions by 2050. The Fed mandate, as per the bill, would also ban the financing of all fossil fuel projects after 2030 and prohibit thermal coal financing after 2024.

Comment: The assessment that this bill is dead on arrival is a good one - not only due to the unrealistic defunding of fossil fuel procurement but also its maze of regulatory protocols that ensure a financial overlord manages the 'environmental' shut-down mechanism over the 21st century as leverage replaces choice. Take a look.


Syringe

US panel backs COVID-19 boosters only for seniors, high risk

Pfizer
© Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine
Dealing the White House a stinging setback, a government advisory panel overwhelmingly rejected a plan Friday to give Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots across the board, and instead endorsed the extra vaccine dose only for those who are 65 or older or run a high risk of severe disease.

The twin votes represented a heavy blow to the Biden administration's sweeping effort, announced a month ago, to shore up nearly all Americans' protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The nonbinding recommendation — from an influential committee of outside experts who advise the Food and Drug Administration — is not the last word. The FDA will consider the group's advice and make its own decision, probably within days. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to weigh in next week.

In a surprising turn, the advisory panel rejected, 16-2, boosters for almost everyone. Members cited a lack of safety data on extra doses and also raised doubts about the value of mass boosters, rather than ones targeted to specific groups.

Then, in an 18-0 vote, it endorsed extra shots for people 65 and older and those at risk of serious disease. Panel members also agreed that health workers and others who run a high risk of being exposed to the virus on the job should get boosters, too.

That would help salvage part of the White House's campaign but would still be a huge step back from the far-reaching proposal to offer third shots of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to Americans eight months after they get their second dose.

The White House sought to frame the action as progress.


Comment: High risk? That would be taking the shot.

See also:


Target

'Hotel Rwanda hero' Paul Rusesabagina convicted of terror charges

Rusesabagina
© AFP
Paul Rusesabagina
Paul Rusesabagina, the "Hotel Rwanda" hero who became a fierce government critic, was found guilty on Monday on terror charges after what his supporters say was a politically motivated show trial.

He was convicted of backing a rebel group blamed for deadly gun, grenade and arson attacks in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019.

"He founded a terrorist organisation that attacked Rwanda, he financially contributed to terrorist activities," Justice Beatrice Mukamurenzi said at the end of a seven-month trial.

Rwandan prosecutors have sought a life sentence for Rusesabagina, the 67-year-old former hotelier credited with saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide, and whose actions inspired the Hollywood film.

Neither he nor his lawyers were in court for the verdict, although the 20 other defendants in the case attended.

Rusesabagina, who used his fame to denounce Rwandan leader Paul Kagame as a dictator, was arrested in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

His family say Rusesabagina was kidnapped and had rejected the nine charges against him as payback by a vengeful government for his outspoken views.

Comment: Hero to Zero: No good deed goes unpunished. It is an upside-down world.


Light Sabers

US Space Force Commander claims Russia has armed satellite in orbit capable of destroying US military assets

satellite
© CC BY-SA 4.0 / José Furtado
Russia already has deployed in low-earth orbit a "nesting doll" satellite armed with a weapon that can destroy US satellites vital for communications, command and control and precision targeting, Space Force Commander General John Raymond said on Tuesday.

"Russia has a nesting doll satellite [in orbit] to destroy US satellites, armed with a weapon to destroy US satellites," Raymond told the Air Force Association (AFA) Air Space Cyber Conference at National Harbor in the US state of Maryland. "It denies our ability to leverage space as a force multiplier."

Raymond claimed the satellite is designed like a Russian "nesting doll," with an outer casing that opens up to reveal an inner satellite shell and that shell also opens to reveal a weapon that can fire at and destroy US orbiting satellites from a safe distance

Comment: That the announcement has been made means that it's likely that a group, if not a number of groups, including the US, and Russia, have a satellite in orbit with these capabilities. The suggestion that Russia would use a weapon like this to neutralize aggressive maneuvers seems to be congruent with Russian defense policy and capabilities, but it's the US that has the track record of endless crimes of aggression.

This announcement has more credence because in January 2019 the Russian ministry announced that the US had returned to its 'Star Wars' missile defense plans, and then in April it warned that the US might 'preemptively' strike Russia and China with its space weapons; then in November 2019 there was a rather suspect blast at a Russian facility that killed at least seven people. Putin had this to say at the time about the top secret project working on a weapon 'unequaled in the world':
"We're talking about the most advanced and cutting-edge technical ideas and solutions, unequaled anywhere in the world; the weapon that is entitled to ensure sovereignty, security of Russia for decades to come."
The possession of such technology by Russia is "the most important, reliable guarantee of peace on the planet. And, no matter what, we'll certainly keep improving this weaponry," the president promised.
Days later Russia announced it had launched an "inspection" satellite into orbit, and by July 2020 the US was accusing Russia of testing an anti-satellite weapon in space: Watch Russian military put another top secret "inspection" satellite into orbit

See also:


Bad Guys

What did he know and when? Biden's National Security advisor implicated in Alfa Bank Russiagate scam

alfa bank michael sussmann trump scandal
© AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV; (R) Jake Sullivan. AFP / Drew Angerer
(L) Alfa Bank; (R) Michael Sussmann
The indictment of lawyer Michael Sussmann promises to shed more light on what really went on during Russiagate. And it also raises questions about the possible involvement of Jake Sullivan - now National Security Advisor.

On September 16, Special Counsel John Durham charged Sussmann, a partner at Perkins Coie, the law firm which represented the Democrats and Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, with making false statements to the FBI over the course of its Trump-Russia probe.

Sussmann met with counsel James Baker in September 2016, and claimed the Trump Organization had used a secret server of Russia's Alfa Bank as a communications channel with the Kremlin. What he didn't mention, according to the indictment, was that he was conducting "opposition research" on Trump, and "coordinating" with the Clinton campaign to present that information to the FBI and mainstream media. In fact, the indictment suggests Sussmann lied, stating he said outright he wasn't conducting work "for any client."

Comment:


Eye 2

If Australia's brutal response to lockdown protests was happening anywhere else, hypocritical Canberra would be demanding sanctions

melbourne protest lockdown forced vaccine police
© AFP / William WEST
Police tackle protesters in Melbourne during an anti-lockdown rally.
The world is watching in horror as Covid chaos unfolds on the streets Down Under, with heavy-handed elite police piling in on lockdown protestors using an arsenal of weapons that would be the envy of any authoritarian regime.

The online images are all too familiar: helmeted and masked police in body armour with batons held high, clubbing protestors lying on the ground as incapacitating pepper smoke burns their eyes and chokes their breath.

Meanwhile, mobs of rowdy protestors take over city streets, blocking traffic and disrupting the working week as they throw projectiles at 'whoop-whooping' police cars. Mayhem reigns.

Comment: Canberra has awakened a sleeping giant.