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Megaphone

Brussels must find way to engage with Russia despite no bloc-wide consensus over how to deal with Putin, says EU foreign minister

Josep Borrell
© Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell
With the diplomatic relationship between Moscow and Brussels at a historic low point, the European Union should look for new ways to engage with Russia, and the bloc should seriously consider how best to establish a new dialogue.

That's according to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, who told Spanish newspaper El Pais that there is a lot of disagreement within the Union over how to handle Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

"We had a mandate from the European Council to produce a report analyzing the current situation and the prospects of a relationship that is at its lowest point in many years," Borrell said.

Light Sabers

'Biggest destroyer of peace': China lashes out after US Navy warship sails through Taiwan Strait for SEVENTH time under Biden

USS Benfold
© Getty Images / Stocktrek Images
A US Navy guided missile destroyer has crossed the Taiwan Strait in the South China Sea, making it the seventh such trip by an American warship this year, and prompting China to accuse the US of trying provoke its military.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Benfold sailed northwards through the strait on Wednesday, the US Navy said in a statement. The maneuver was confirmed by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense on Thursday, with officials saying the military used joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tools to monitor movements at sea and in the air around Taiwan, according to local media reports.

Claiming that the navy destroyer's presence in the South China Sea does not contradict international laws, the report added it was the seventh such maneuver by American warships in the area since US President Joe Biden took office this year.

Brain

Biden blames 'Freudian slip' after saying 'President Trump' when he meant Obama

biden
© AFP via Getty Images
President Biden on Wednesday mistakenly uttered the name of his predecessor — "President Trump" — chalking it up to a "Freudian slip" even though he was talking about his longtime boss Barack Obama.

Biden meant to refer to Obama, under whom he served for eight years as vice president, when describing his role in auto-industry bailouts in 2009.

"In 2009, during the so-called Great Recession, the president asked me to be in charge of managing that piece — then-President Trump," Biden misstated during a speech near Allentown, Pa.

"Excuse me, Freudian slip, that was the last president. He caused — anyway, President Obama, when I was vice president. The American auto industry, remember, was on the rocks?"

Propaganda

Chinese billionaire pig farmer jailed for 18 years for 'illegal mining, illegal occupation of land, attacking state organs'

Dawu
© Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images
Sun Dawu, the founder of the Dawu Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Group, was also fined 3.11m yuan (£345,000).
Sun Dawu, a Chinese billionaire pig farmer and agricultural mogul, has been sentenced after weeks of hearings in secret to 18 years in prison and fined 3.11m yuan (£345,000) for a catalogue of crimes including "provoking trouble", in a case observers believe was politically motivated.

The court in Gaobeidian, near Beijing, said Sun was guilty of crimes including "gathering a crowd to attack state organs", "obstructing government administration" and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a catch-all term often used against human rights figures and dissidents.


Comment: The Guardian's anti-China slant becomes blatantly clear throughout the article; their overseers in British intelligence would be pleased: The Guardian's collusion with Britain's Secret Service


Sun, an outspoken supporter and friend of Chinese political dissidents, was arrested on 11 November alongside more than 20 others including his wife, two sons and daughters-in-law.

Comment: RT provides more details of Sun's crimes which, were they to have occurred in any Western country, would almost certainly invite a harsh response from the state; unless of course the billionaire was 'connected' to people in government:
He was detained by authorities back in November, along with 19 relatives and business associates, after Dawu employees tried to stop a government-owned enterprise from demolishing a company building in August 2020. According to a social media post by Sun, more than 20 people were injured in a clash with the police.

Sun's legal team said prosecutors alleged that the Dawu Group acted deceptively toward its employees, interfering with the government's administrative duties, and causing political instability. The billionaire has faced a slew of other charges, including illegal mining and illegal occupation of farmland.

The billionaire's lawyers said that the secrecy of the trial "violated legal guidelines and did not protect the defendant's litigation rights."

The land dispute is not the first time the pig-farmer billionaire has butted heads with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

In the early 2000s he ran a website that included criticism of state-owned banks, which he accused of neglecting rural investment while funneling rural residents' savings toward urban projects.

In 2003, he was charged with 'illegal fundraising' after reportedly taking illegal deposits without approval from the People's Bank of China. Instead, he solicited investments for his business from friends and neighbors.

After abandoning his appeals for the case, the sentence was suspended and Sun received probation.

More recently, in 2019, he criticized the government's handling of the swine fever outbreak, publicly disputed the scale of the epidemic, saying it was far more severe than officials had said. He reported that about 15,000 pigs on his farms had died from the disease and posted photos of the dead animals online.
It's possible - even likely - that the Chinese government is deliberately down playing the African swine fever outbreak. But, as we can see from the RT article, Sun's has been jailed for illegal mining, illegal occupation of land, aggressively blocking state developers, and illegal financial activity; these crimes amount to much more than a simple 'dissident' or 'human rights activist' who 'published criticisms of the state', which was what The Guardian clearly wanted us to believe.

See also: China refuses diplomatic access to trial of Australian national citing national security concerns


Light Saber

Publisher of controversial 'Putin's People' agrees to edit book, admits 'no evidence' for claims against Russian banking tycoons

putin book russian bankers london justice court
© Wikipedia; Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Royal Courts of Justice, London (inset) 'Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West' by Catherine Belton
HarperCollins, the American publishing house behind a widely contested account of Russian President Vladimir Putin's time in office, has agreed to edit future copies in the face of legal action from two top Moscow businessmen.

On Wednesday, a court in London heard that the Rupert Murdoch-owned giant would redact future copies of Putin's People, by former Financial Times Moscow correspondent Catherine Belton. The book had alleged links between Soviet security services and two Russian claimants, Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven. The pair are the founders of Alfa Bank, one of Russia's largest financial institutions.

Comment: Russian billionaires vs British writer: London court battle begins over Putin book


Control Panel

Caitlin: For every whistleblower they make an example of, they prevent a thousand more

pardon daniel hale
Whistleblower Daniel Hale has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty to leaking secret government information about America's psychopathic civilian-slaughtering drone assassination program.

The sentence was much harsher than Hale's defense requested but not nearly as harsh as US prosecutors pushed for, arguing that longer prison sentences are necessary for deterring whistleblowing in the US intelligence cartel.

The Dissenter's Kevin Gosztola reports:
Despite the fact that Hale pled guilty on March 31 to one of the five Espionage Act offenses he faced, prosecutors remained spiteful and unwilling to support anything less than a "significant sentence" to "deter" government employees or contractors from "using positions in the intelligence community for self-aggrandizement."
In other words, if you tell the public the truth about your government's crimes, you will be made an example of so nobody else tries to do that. And then for that brave and selfless act, you'll be smeared as doing it for "self-aggrandizement".

Megaphone

Ted Cruz calls mask mandate reversal "a virtue signal of submissiveness"

ted cruz
Charges Democrats of engaging in "Kabooki theater"

Texas Senator Ted Cruz responded to the CDC's announcement this week that all Americans should wear face masks again, even fully vaccinated people, by labelling it the ultimate "virtue signal".

Speaking at a Senate hearing, Cruz said that while he believes in vaccines and has been urging people to get vaccinated, "I also believe in individual liberty, I believe in freedom, it's your damn choice whether you get vaccinated."

Comment: See also:


Jet3

The Dutch invasion plan of Donbass before the downing of MH17 on July 17, 2014

David Petraeus and Sandra Roelofs
Two Dutch nationals, David Petraeus and Sandra Roelofs (lead image, centre), were involved in the US planning of an invasion of the Donbass region, eastern Ukraine, in the days running up to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, when 193 Dutch and 38 Australians were among the 298 passengers and crew killed.

Petraeus, a US Army general and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2011-November 9, 2012), is a Dutch citizen by law because his father, Sixtus Petraeus from Friesland, was a junior officer in the Dutch merchant marine at the outbreak of World War II. David Petraeus was awarded a Dutch knighthood in 2010 and is celebrated by the Dutch as "the most visible Dutch American personality on the national and international scene".

Roelofs, Dutch by birth in Zeeland, became the wife of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (left) in 1993, and she has remained his collaborator in open political as well as clandestine operations in Georgia, Ukraine, and the US since then.

Comment: When it comes to Saakashvili, where does one really begin and end:

Ukraine returns citizenship to eccentric fugitive former Georgian president Saakashvili

And then there is Poroshenko:

Ex-president Poroshenko ducks questioning by Ukraine's State Bureau Of Investigations

Behind the mask of these two characters (with others in the mix), stands the sad fate of all those aboard MH17. This is a tragedy of cold blooded murder, all hidden behind western political and media narratives, with a kangaroo court exhibiting a peculiar form of justice that just does not let up: This would not be rounded off without mentioning Bellingcat: Of course, there is much more on this shadowy stumbling group called Bellingcat, from MH17 to Syrian slander, all with allegations of deep-state intelligence ties and funding.


Binoculars

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.