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Fri, 09 Jun 2023
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Leaks reveal FBI helps Ukraine censor Twitter users and obtain their info

fbi man
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has aided a Ukrainian intelligence effort to censor social media users and obtain their personal information, leaked emails reveal.

In March 2022, an FBI Special Agent sent Twitter a list of accounts on behalf of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Ukraine's main intelligence agency. The accounts, the FBI wrote, "are suspected by the SBU in spreading fear and disinformation." In an attached memo, the SBU asked Twitter to remove the accounts and hand over their user data.

The Ukrainian government's FBI-enabled targets extend to members of the media. The SBU list that the FBI provided to Twitter included my name and Twitter profile. In its response to the FBI, Twitter agreed to review the accounts for "inauthenticity" but raised concerns about the inclusion of me and other "American and Canadian journalists."

The FBI's attempt to ban Twitter accounts at the request of Ukrainian intelligence is among the most overt requests for censorship revealed to date in the Twitter Files, a cache of leaked communications from the social media giant.

The FBI's censorship request was relayed in a March 27th, 2022 email from FBI Special Agent Aleksandr Kobzanets, the Assistant Legal Attaché at the US Embassy in Kyiv, to two Twitter executives. Four FBI colleagues were copied on the exchange.

Blue Planet

The Middle East: Goodbye America, hello China?

Mohammed Bin Salman Xi Jinping
© Saudi Press Agency via Reuters
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping in Riyadh on December 8, 2022
In an attempt to salvage his country's waning influence in the Middle East, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is embarking on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia this week. But advancing "strategic cooperation" with his Saudi and Gulf counterparts may well prove an uphill battle.

In July last year, President Joe Biden attended the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the kingdom and vowed that the United States "will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia, or Iran". But that is precisely what has been happening.

Despite US objections, the past year has seen its regional allies go hybrid: they have improved relations with Beijing and Tehran and maintained strong ties with Moscow.


WHO and EU announce global system of vaccine passports for 'future pandemics'

digital passport

EU/WHO Digital Covid Certified Passport
The World Health Organisation and the European Union yesterday announced their collaboration on global digital vaccine passports at a joint press conference in Geneva.

According to the press release posted on the WHO website:
In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system that will help facilitate global mobility and protect citizens across the world from on-going and future health threats, including pandemics. This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN) that will develop a wide range of digital products to deliver better health for all.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
Building on the EU's highly successful digital certification network, WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access to an open-source digital health tool, which is based on the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy. New digital health products in development aim to help people everywhere receive quality health services quickly and more effectively.
Based on the EU Global Health Strategy and WHO Global strategy on digital health, the initiative follows the November 30th, 2022 agreement between the EU and WHO to enhance strategic cooperation on global health issues.

Comment: 'Global system of vaccine passports for future pandemics'...double jeopardy is the promise.


Trump demands judge recuse himself from DA Bragg case

Former US President Donald Trump • Biden Campaign Donor Judge Juan M. Merchan
Former President Donald Trump has demanded the recusal of the judge overseeing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's case against him, arguing that the judge lacks impartiality. Trump's legal team submitted a filing to the court, highlighting Judge Juan Merchan's involvement in a previous case where he encouraged Allen Weisselberg, a former Trump Organization executive, to cooperate against Trump. They also raised concerns about the judge's daughter's political and financial interests in the case's outcome.

According to Trump's attorneys, Judge Merchan's daughter is employed by Authentic Strategies, a left-wing advertising group that could potentially profit from the case. It has publicly taken positions against President Trump and has raised over $74 million in campaign contributions for Democrat clients since 2018.

Authentic Campaigns' clients include progressive causes and Democrat elected officials, such as the Biden-Harris campaign, Kamala Harris for the People, and Hakeem Jeffries. Authentic Campaigns prominently displays a campaign rally for Vice President Kamala Harris on its website and features the "Biden Harris" campaign as its client.

The Trump legal defense pointed out that the case's resolution may impact political messaging during the 2024 electoral cycle and shape Authentic's client engagements.

Comment: Game on: The Left will use every ploy in their arsenal to provoke reactions from Trump.


Russia will 'never again' accept US rules - Lavrov

© Alexander Vilf/Sputnik
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov
Russia is at the forefront of a global rebellion against US hegemony, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

Speaking on a visit to Tajikistan on Monday, Lavrov stated that Russia's diplomatic corps is increasing its global engagement after a period of disarray that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"Over the last couple of years, we have been returning to Africa [and] Latin America. A determination has accumulated never to accept the 'rules' that Washington is imposing. Its role is diminishing, slowly but surely. An increasing number of nations are disillusioned with it."
The US-backed 'rules-based order' is prone to inconsistency whenever any nation attempts to determine its own policies, Lavrov said. He added that Russia is "at the very forefront" of resisting Western pressure, despite the US and its "subjugated" allies targeting Moscow with sanctions and attempting to isolate it. In practice, they have failed to separate Russia from the international community, the diplomat argued.

Lavrov said that US foreign policy was aimed at destabilizing certain parts of the world, so that Washington could "fish in the troubled water" under the guise of fighting terrorism and offering security. This is among the ways Washington coerces others into accepting its orders, the Russian foreign minister added.

Comment: Gloves are off, façades are exposed and true leaders say what is.


Memory-holed: WaPo reported Ukraine conducted a test strike with HIMARS on the Kahovka dam last year

zelensky putin ukraine dam explostion Wapo washington post
© Human Events
A dam on the Dnieper River was destroyed on Tuesday, flooding a substantial amount of the area where Ukrainian and Russian troops are engaged in fighting, after Ukraine launched their much-anticipated counter-offensive. The dam was in Russian control, and has been since shortly after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Ukraine claimed Russia blew up the Nova Kakhovka dam and said it was a war crime, while Russia has said that it was Ukraine who "sabotaged the dam, to distract attention from the launch of a major counteroffensive Moscow says is faltering," Reuters reports.

Comment: Adding to the picture of Ukraine's guilt:

So the last resort step as explained by Ukrainian Major-General Andriy Kovalchuk.has been taken, regardless of the consequences.

Kiev's long-term "last resort" plan to blow up the Kakhova Dam exposed

Ukraine's 'greatest counter-offensive' is shaping up to be a resounding failure. Moon of Alabama explains:
The Ukraine side claimed to have taken a handful of small villages near the former frontline. The Russian conceded the Ukraine had taken three or so but said that two of them were recovered over night.

Also this morning the Defense Ministry of Russia listed losses of the Ukrainian side. (Link goes to the Russian language report on the Rybar Telegram channel):
  • As a result of the defeat of the Ukrainian offensive carried out on the personal orders of Zelensky in the Nikolaev-Krivoy Rog and other directions, the enemy suffered large-scale losses.
  • The effective actions of the Russian group of troops destroyed 48 tanks, 46 infantry fighting vehicles, 37 other armored fighting vehicles, 8 pickup trucks with heavy machine guns and more than 1200 Ukrainian military personnel in a day.
It is a bit early to speak of defeat as the Ukrainian attacks continue. The total strength of the Ukrainian side is probably two divisions worth which means some 30.000+ soldiers.

The losses of 1,200 Ukrainian soldiers are therefore not yet significant. The fighting at the Donetsk front cost several hundred Ukrainian lives each day. But the relative high losses of tanks, IFVs and armored vehicles are very notable. That equipment was enough for at least three to five full battalions.

The losses can be explained by the flat open steppe in the area. There are very few wooded or build up areas that would allow tanks to hide. It is ideal for the defending side as long range anti-tank missiles can pick off the tanks before they even know where the fire is coming from.

The Ukraine does not have many armored vehicles left and has even difficulties to get more of them from the 'west'. The countries which still had Soviet equipment have already given most of it to the Ukraine.

The Ukraine has also brought reserves from Odessa to Kryvyi Rih (Russian: Krivoy Rog) to protect it from an eventual Russian attack should the offensive fail.

That will most likely be the case. I expect everything to be back to its previous position in a day or two. We may then see a Russian attempt to break through the thinned out Ukrainian lines in this or that other direction.

In yesterday's background briefing by the Pentagon the military doubt about this offensive was palpable:
Q: Hi. Thanks for this.

I'm wondering if -- [omitted], I know you can't give us any apparent details on this counteroffensive. You said there's been an uptick in fighting. Can you give us a sense how big of an uptick and is this fighting from both sides? Give us any sense of that you can.
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Okay, Lita, thank you.

So over the weekend, we saw a larger number of artillery fires primarily coming from the Ukrainians. And so, you know, I say "larger" I wouldn't -- I wouldn't exaggerate that but it's an increased amount of artillery that we've seen coming from the Ukrainians.

And then they have -- as you all know, for the past couple of weeks, they have been making some small advances in and around the Kherson pocket for a while. So I don't want to mislead you here and tell you that I don't think the offensive is underway. I -- I would just -- I'd refer you to the Ukrainians right now because we have seen some offensive action in that area for the past couple weeks.

And I'll pass it over to [omitted].
Q: Yeah, for the senior military official, so you say you really can't give us any particulars on this offensive. You see an uptick in fighting. You say go to the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians are saying this is a significant counteroffensive. So clearly, you're not willing to go that far, correct?

SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Tom, I'm just saying, I think the Ukrainians have a better way of telling you what they're doing than we do. I mean, even in the best case, you know, I'm getting my reporting from the Ukrainians. So --

Q: Well, are they telling you that it's a significant counteroffensive? Because that's kind of what they're saying publicly. Are you getting the same thing? And if -- if that's the case, why can't you tell us it's a -- a counteroffensive?

SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Well, I just don't -- I mean, listen, are they on the offensive? I think they are. Is this a counteroffensive? I don't know. And the reason I tell you that is because, as I said, over the past couple of weeks, we've seen them making some offensive moves in and around the Kherson pocket.

So listen, I'm -- you know, like you, I would love to have perfect information here. I think we'll get some more information over the course of the next 24 to 36 hours.

Q: Yeah, but again, it's frustrating for us because they're saying it's a big counteroffensive and what we hear -- see -- hear from you guys is, like, an uptick in fighting. Those two don't match, you see?


Q: Yeah.
To me this sounds like the military official is not at all convinced that this a serious offensive that makes sense.

That is likely because it does not make sense and is just another waste of lives.

It is Zelinski's attempt to prove to the 'west' and the local public that Ukraine can be successful and should receive continued support.


In my view the offensive was launched at the wrong time and with too few troops along too many axes.

Two month ago the Ukrainians had already assembled a decent force in the Kherson area. It then started to loudly talk about the upcoming offensive. Instead it should have attacked immediately along one or two axes to make at least some gain.

After the loud talk the Russians reinforced their side in the area. At the same time they launched an offensive in the Donetsk region. The Ukrainians had to move some of the units prepared for the Kherson offensive to the Donetsk region to prevent a deeper Russian penetration into that frontline. Other units, waiting for the order to attack in the Kherson region, were mauled by Russian long range artillery strikes.

When its forces were assembled the Ukrainian military should have attacked immediately. The long wait made the situation more difficult. To break the reinforced Russian lines now would have taken more troops than were available.

I am sure that the Ukrainian military knew that this offensive would fail.

For political reasons Zelenski ordered them to launch it anyway. There are now another 1,000+ Ukrainian and Russian lives lost for nothing other then some sensational headlines and political optics.

From SouthFront.org:


Independent Nord Stream expedition discovers clue missed by official investigators

Navy diving boot Nord Stream explosion
© The Grayzone
The boot spotted by the expedition’s drone.
The Grayzone participated in what appears to be the first independent expedition investigating the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. Near one of the blast sites, we discovered a diving boot used by US Navy divers. How did Swedish investigators miss this?

On the evening of May 24, 2023, I stood aboard a small ship called the Baltic Explorer. With sun still high overhead in the Baltic Sea, our boat sat anchored thirty-one nautical miles from the coast of Denmark, and directly above the ruptured Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of Sweden.

For several minutes, I stared at a live video feed from an underwater drone showing never-before-seen footage of the ruptures in the pipeline. Suddenly, a strange object appeared on the screen. It was a black and orange diver's boot.

Comment: More corroboration for the theory that the U.S. was behind the pipeline attack. Good work, Grayzone!


'Highly credible' source reveals scandal bigger than Biden bribery: FBI election interference

christopher wray
© Win McNamee/Getty
The confidential human source (CHS) behind the detailed allegations that then-Vice President Joe Biden agreed to accept money from a foreign national to affect policy decisions was reportedly "highly credible" and used by the FBI in multiple criminal investigations dating back to the Obama administration. Friday's exclusive by Fox News provides further insight into Sen. Chuck Grassley's focus on the FBI — as opposed to the Biden family — as the primary scandal in play.

"We aren't interested in whether or not the accusations against [then]-Vice President Biden are accurate," Grassley said during an interview last week discussing FBI Director Christopher Wray's refusal to comply with the congressional subpoena issued for the FD-1023 form. That form, dated June 30, 2020, included detailed information from a CHS to the FBI regarding an agreement by now-President Biden to deliver preferred foreign policy positions for a $5 million payment.

After Grassley revealed he had already seen the FD-1023, Fox News' Bill Hemmer queried: "How damning is this document to the sitting U.S. president?"

"I don't know," responded Grassley, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He stressed that while "there's accusations" in the FBI report, the congressional oversight committees' concern is whether "the FBI does its job." "That's what we want to know," he continued.

Friday's revelation that the CHS was "highly credible" and had served as a source in multiple prior criminal investigations — including ones run under the Obama-Biden administration — proves Grassley is properly focused on the FBI.

Eye 1

Police omitted folder called 'CIA' from the computer of Spaniard who allegedly spied on Julian Assange

assange spy cia ecuador embassy london

Screenshot of Julian Assange, with a skateboard, and his collaborator Stella Morris in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
In a recent document dump delivered to the presiding judge, more than 250 extra gigabytes of files related to the surveillance of the founder of WikiLeaks were included — far more than what was initially presented by police

David Morales — the owner of the Spanish security company that spied on Julian Assange during his prolonged stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London — kept the work he did for the CIA on his laptop. It was all marked under the initials of the U.S. intelligence agency, according to a new examination of his MacBook, to which EL PAÍS has had access. The word "CIA" appears several times on a Western Digital-branded external hard drive, on which Morales kept the projects and operations that his company — UC Global, S.L. — was contracted to deliver.

Morales' personal files, which were previously unknown to investigators, builds on the allegations and evidence that Morales — a former Spanish soldier — spied on the meetings that the WikiLeaks founder and his lawyers held at the Embassy of Ecuador to the United Kingdom, and sent that information to the U.S. intelligence agency. These files were stored on a number of folders marked with the terms "CIA," "Embassy" and "Videos," along with other labels.

Comment: How nice. The perpetrator of the crime is walking free, while the victim languishes in solitary confinement in Britain's harshest prison.

More of El Pais' excellent reporting on Julian Assange: Further reading:

Arrow Down

NATO's big gamble in Ukraine has failed

© Sean Gallup/Getty Images/KJN
NATO meeting
Nothing has gone right for the US and NATO since the initial phase of the war. Attempts to isolate Russia have failed. European economies have been stung badly by the war while others saved themselves and Russia by purchasing discounted Russian crude. Even the war theatre in Ukraine isn't looking the way NATO envisioned it...

The Russian military seems to be ahead of NATO on at least the following capabilities - air defence, electronic warfare, artillery/counter artillery, and hypersonic missiles.

Fifteen months into the biggest land war in Eurasia since the Second World War, the tables have turned. US and NATO began with a confidence that a proxy war was the only way to roll back Russian influence in Europe. It was aimed to cut Russia down to size and snuff out the incipient multipolar order.

On paper it was an ingenious, if diabolical, strategy. Ukrainian blood and NATO weapons would be more than a match for Russia. At the very least, western policymakers surmised, Russia would be bogged down in another protracted 'Afghanistan' or 'Vietnam' for years, while America would swoop across the world as a rejuvenated superpower.

The opposite has occurred. On every front in this proxy war - it is more apt to classify the conflict as a limited great power war - US goals have fallen short.

Comment: The carnage and waste, the deaths and struggles, fear and anguish could have ceased on any day, at any point but it continues. The narrative is all that matters.