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Bipartisan bill would limit presidential war powers and emergency declarations

Biden/Military
© Unlock the Grid/KJN
President Joe Biden: "the big guy"
Earlier today, an unlikely coalition of senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would impose significant curbs on presidential power to initiate armed conflict and declare "national emergencies." Neither idea is entirely new. But this proposal is distinctive because of its broad reach, and its combining of the two issues in one bill. The Washington Post summarizes the bill's war powers provisions:
A bipartisan group of senators unveiled legislation Tuesday to give Congress a more active role in approving arms sales, authorizing the use of military force and declaring national emergencies, in an across-the-board effort to claw back national security power from the executive branch. The bill aims, for the first time, to define what type of "hostilities" require a president to seek congressional approval before committing military resources; establish expiration dates for national emergencies and military authorizations; and automatically curtail funding for any operation a president continues without explicit congressional support....

The comprehensive measure imposes more stringent restrictions than current law does, and comes as Washington grapples with whether and how to repeal long-running authorizations for use of military force, or AUMFs, including those passed nearly two decades ago to greenlight U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan..... It would define "hostilities" as any operation involving the use of force, remotely or directly — superseding the unofficial custom of administrations interpreting the law as applying only when there are combat troops on the ground. It also would shorten the time that presidents have to engage in those hostilities from 60 to 20 days and automatically terminate funding for an operation if a president fails to secure congressional support for the venture by that deadline....

Comment: Changes to the AUMF may only create speed bumps with no guarantees.


Attention

This is fascism: White House and Facebook merge to censor 'problematic posts'

Biden Facebk
© TheFreeThoughtProject.com
US President Joe Biden: One thumb up for fascism!
If we look back throughout history, all societies whose government attempted to, or actually succeeded in, controlling the speech of their citizens, have been totalitarian nightmares. It is for this reason that the founders crafted the first and most important Amendment to the Constitution, barring government from doing exactly that.

Aside from a few constitutionally illiterate politicians over the past couple of decades and the horrid atrocities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, recently Americans have had the ability to express their protected speech in any manner they see fit. Over the last several years, however, tech giants and social media companies have brought down the hammer in the name of protecting society from "disinformation."

Many have argued — although incorrectly — that companies like Facebook and Twitter are private entities and therefore can censor whatever speech they want to on their own platforms. As TFTP has been reporting for years, however, this censorship was anything but private.

While there has been a grey area as to the relationship between social media and government, on Thursday, the White House made sure to clear up any doubt. During a press briefing, Jen Psaki removed any uncertainty that Facebook is a wholly private entity by claiming that the United States government will now dictate to the social media behemoth, exactly what is and isn't allowed on their platform.

"We are in regular touch with the social media platforms," said Psaki, adding, "we're flagging problematic posts for Facebook."

Attention

Lukashenko: West's campaign against Belarus runs risk of sparking 'third world war'; brands EU 'crazy'

Lukashenko
© Sputnik/Dmitry Astakhov
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
Sanctions & support for opposition movements from abroad is driving Europe down a dangerous path, Belarus' long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko has claimed, in an explosive new broadside against the EU and its politicians.

In an interview with Sky News Arabia published on Wednesday, the embattled president said that "the Europeans [are] directing a hybrid war against us, Russia, and even China."

Calling the leaders of EU states "crazy politicians" who are dependent on the US, Lukashenko argued that their approach to Moscow, Minsk and Beijing "isn't just creating a hotbed of tension - they are pushing for a third world war."

Lukashenko's government has faced a series of new political sanctions since its officials ordered a Ryanair flight transiting the country's airspace to land, telling the pilots at the time that they had received credible intelligence that a bomb was on board. However, once on the ground, security operatives arrested two prominent opposition activists who had been on board, Roman Protasevich and Sophia Sapega.

X

White House collusion with Facebook is not about public health

Psaki
© Alex Brandon/AP
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
Last Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed that the Biden administration will partner with Facebook and other social media platforms to surveil COVID-related posts. They plan to flag and censor people whom the administration considers to be purveyors of COVID "disinformation" or "misinformation." Psaki said:
"We've increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General's office. We're flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We're working with doctors and medical professionals to connect ... medical experts ... who are popular with their audiences with accurate information and boost trusted content. So we're helping get trusted content out there."
In other words, if respected epidemiologists and health professionals from Harvard Medical School, the University of Oxford, and Stanford University, such as Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, respectively, disagree with the so-called White House-approved "experts" as to whether wearing masks provides any significant safety benefits to children (it doesn't) or whether there is a medical imperative for healthy adolescents to be vaccinated (there isn't), then that could be grounds for them to be deplatformed or banned from sharing content on social media channels.

Comment: Trusted information may not be accurate. Experts may not be unbiased. Opinion speaks louder than truth. Thanks to the Biden administration, these remain our current lessons.


Evil Rays

CIA probe of 'Havana syndrome' to be led by Bin Laden search veteran

Central Intel Agency
© Lance Page/t r u t h o u t/Adapted/Wikimedia
A CIA official who was involved in the search for Osama bin Laden has been chosen to head an agency task force investigating cases of an ailment known as "Havana Syndrome" among U.S. spies and diplomats, a government source said on Wednesday.

CIA director William Burns named a career undercover spy, who was part of the search for the al Qaeda leader that ended with him being killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2011, the source said. The Wall Street Journal first reported the appointment.

Dozens of U.S. diplomats and other officials, including CIA officers, have been afflicted by "Havana Syndrome," so named because it first was reported by officials assigned to the U.S. embassy in Cuba.

The Journal said that a panel organized by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported last December that some type of "directed energy" beams were strongly suspected as causing the ailment, which includes dizziness, headaches and nausea.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in June that a government-wide review was underway into who or what caused suspected radio frequency attacks "directed" at diplomats.

Comment: The search for the cause of this group malady has taken some interesting turns. See also:


Sherlock

China rejects WHO's second phase investigation into leak of coronavirus from Chinese lab, suggests looking at US military labs

Zeng Yixin
© AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein
Zeng Yixin, Vice Minister of China's National Health Commission, speaks at a press conference at the State Council Information Office in Beijing, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Zeng said Thursday he was taken aback by the World Health Organization's plan for the second phase of a COVID-19 origins study.
China cannot accept the World Health Organization's plan for the second phase of a study into the origins of COVID-19, a senior Chinese health official said Thursday.

Zeng Yixin, the vice minister of the National Health Commission, said he was "rather taken aback" that the plan includes further investigation of the theory that the virus might have leaked from a Chinese lab.

He dismissed the lab leak idea as a rumor that runs counter to common sense and science.

"It is impossible for us to accept such an origin-tracing plan," he said at a news conference called to address the COVID-19 origins issue.

Comment: See also: Inquiry into Covid-19 lab leak won't bring out the truth, it will deepen the deception


Star of David

Social media mockery ensues after Israel claims Ben & Jerry's ice-cream boycott is 'new form of terrorism: 'Are they going to bomb Vermont?'

Israel flag ben and jerry ice cream boycott
© Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty
Israel's president has been targeted by a barrage of social media snark after he bravely compared Ben & Jerry's decision, to stop selling its ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories, to terrorism.

The Vermont-based ice cream brand, which has developed a reputation over the years as a champion of progressive causes, announced earlier this week that it would be "inconsistent" with its values to sell its ice cream in Gaza and the West Bank. The boycott was prompted by "concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners," the left-leaning ice cream maker explained.

The decision sparked both applause and condemnation but, on Wednesday, Israel's President Isaac Herzog issued a uniquely extreme analysis of the move.

Comment: Apparently the decision was a water-down version of what the B&J board really wanted. From the Jerusalem Post:
Ben & Jerry's Independent Board of Directors wanted to boycott Israel in its entirety, but was stopped from doing so by the ice-cream maker's CEO and the British-based parent company Unilever.

"The statement released by Ben & Jerry's regarding its operation in Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territory does not reflect the position of the Independent Board nor was it approved by the Independent Board," read a statement by Ben & Jerry's Independent Board of Directors.

Unilever has clarified that it plans to continue sales to areas of Israel within the pre-1967 lines, but would do so with a different local company.

Avi Zinger, owner of the Israeli Ben & Jerry's franchise, who always sold his ice cream on both sides of the Green Line, has for years resisted pressure by the parent company to boycott West Bank settlements.

But he ultimately has no control over the decision by Unilever, which has owned the global ice cream company since 2000.

Zinger told The Jerusalem Post he hopes the government of Israel and a persistent public campaign would sway Unilever to change its mind.


The hasbara trolls are being marshalled:


From the article:
The Israeli online platform Act.IL, which was developed in June 2017 to recruit and organise a troll army of thousands of people to insert themselves in digital discussions regarding Israel-Palestine, has directed its users to wade in on the decision.

The app urged trolls to comment under relevant Facebook and Twitter posts from various news organisations, including the Daily Mail and the New York Times, criticising Ben & Jerry's.

"Comment on these posts stating that boycotting does nothing to solve the conflict, and like all pro-Israel comments you can," one alert stated, as documented by @AntiBDSApp, a Twitter account that monitors Act.IL's activities.


Act.IL was launched in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, whose minister has referred to it as an "iron dome of truth". It has received both funding and guidance from the Israeli state.

The app has been described as "astroturfing": organised and deceptive government-backed public relations activity that falsely creates the impression of a spontaneous grassroots campaign.

Michael Bueckert, a researcher and vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, who runs the @AntiBDSApp account, believes the campaign will not be effective.
And finally:




Light Saber

Russia files first ever ECHR complaint against Ukraine, over Maidan massacre, censorship, discrimination & Crimea water blockade

ECHR human right ukraine russia
© Reuters / Vincent Kessler; (inset) Getty Images / kutaytanir; Getty Images / visual7
European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France.
The Russian General Prosecutor's Office has announced that it intends to bring a case against the Ukrainian government in Europe's top rights court, over a range of issues stemming from the 2014 Maidan and the country's civil war.

In a statement released on Thursday, officials in Moscow revealed that they had applied to the European Court of Human Rights with an inter-state complaint for the first time. According to the release, they are requesting that justices look into "the responsibility of the Ukrainian authorities for the death of civilians, illegal imprisonment and cruel treatment of people," in both the Maidan and in the subsequent conflict in the Donbass.


Comment: Recent statements from Russia seem to reveal concern that, since Kiev has repeatedly flouted the peace process and with deaths in Donbass surpassing 13,000 people, a critical juncture has been reached and Russia is being forced to intervene, diplomatically, at first, to prevent the already dire situation deteriorating further.


A series of bloody incidents defined the 2014 conflict, including the deaths dozens of supporters of the uprising at the hands of police, and 39 anti-Maidan protesters killed when activists torched the Trade Unions House in Odessa. Dozens of Maidan supporters were killed by sniper fire on Kiev's central square in February of that year, in an incident which has never properly been investigated. Some historians, such as Canadian-Ukrainian professor Ivan Katchanovski, have questioned whether that attack had been orchestrated, in an effort to inflame anti-government sentiment.

Comment: It's unlikely that the ECHR will treat Russia's complaint fairly, but, where possible, Russia follows due process. Moreover, the crimes mentioned above will be on the official record, the ECHR will be exposed for the corrupt institution that it is, and, ultimately, should current events worsen, it's likely that Russia will take the necessary action, in the same way it did for Syria:


Mr. Potato

Tikhanovskaya's traveling Belarusian circus: Another example of failed Western 'regime-change'-based policy in ex-Soviet Unioncountries

Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya
© Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya during an interview with the media in Helsinki, Finland on March 1, 2021.
The West's favorite Belarusian opposition figurehead, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has been in Washington, asking lawmakers to impose sanctions on her country, in a bid to overthrow its embattled veteran leader, Alexander Lukashenko.

"I think it's high time for democratic countries to unite and show their teeth," she told politicians, articulating her dreams for her own country in pro-American terms. That has undoubtedly won her supporters in the West, and fits with Washington's classic regime-change template - hijacking popular protests to redraw the geopolitical frontlines of the world.

Tikhanovskaya appears to be the latest in a line of marginal opposition figures who are anointed as saviors by the West, like Venezuela's Juan Guaidó or Russia's Alexey Navalny. Once the narrative of a pro-democratic figure seeking to align with Western states has been planted and media follows the lead, it is then deemed legitimate for Washington to organize their "civil society" against that state. Much like in Ukraine, NATO countries undermine the sovereignty of Belarus under the auspices of supporting the people.

Comment:


Recycle

Russia eliminating US dollar transactions in its foreign military deals - state arms exporter

helicopter
© Reuters / RIA Novosti
A Kamov Ka-52 Hokum-B helicopter stands at Kubinka air base before the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, Russia
The US dollar's share in Russia's military contracts with other countries is approaching zero, according to the country's main defense contractor Rosoboronexport.

"Most of Rosoboronexport's contracts are currently concluded in rubles or in the national currencies of partner countries. The share of dollars in our contracts is steadily approaching zero," the company's CEO Alexander Mikheyev told reporters at MAKS 2021 Air Show.

He noted that Russia has been deliberately abandoning the dollar in payments for its export arms contracts, which, for the past few years, have brought the country about $15 billion annually in US dollar equivalent, TV channel Zvezda notes.

Comment: See also: