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Sat, 28 Jan 2023
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Sergey Poletaev: Russia, Ukraine, the EU and the US have something in common - their illusions were shattered in 2022

© Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance/Getty Images
All the key players in the current conflict spent years kidding themselves, and peace will only come when they accept reality.

The Russian military offensive in Ukraine has set in motion a chain of events that has led to a global upheaval - in political and economic terms - comparable to world wars. We are probably in the initial phase of this conflict, and more players will become involved over time, but some conclusions can already be drawn.

The past year has been one in which postmodernism collided with the real world. Almost all of the direct and indirect actors in the Ukrainian crisis built their domestic and foreign policies on theoretical, highly ideological constructions. And the more the wishful thinking, the tougher the consequences now.

Let's take a look at the main players:

Comment: An impressive analysis of the process of war via the current sides involved.


FBI reveals it uses CIA and NSA to spy on Americans

C Wray
© Charlie Neibergall
FBI Director Christopher Wray
The FBI revealed how the bureau uses the CIA and National Security Agency to probe the private lives of Americans without a warrant in its updated rulebook, which is the first version made public since the Obama administration.

The handbook, rewritten in 2021, confirms a decade-old leak showcasing the bureau's collaboration with the CIA and NSA for FBI probes that may involve surveillance without court orders against people not accused of any crimes. Such probes are known as "assessments" at the FBI.

The revelations will fuel critics who have long accused the FBI of abusing its national security surveillance powers.

The FBI's partnership with U.S. intelligence agencies that are focused on foreign threats is expected to get intense scrutiny from the new Republican-run Congress. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee are digging into how intelligence agencies target Americans. Plans include a new panel to examine the weaponization of the federal government against U.S. citizens.

Comment: Seeping deceptively into the mainstream, abuse of power will not be curtailed nor contained.


SCOTUS rejects Israeli spyware company's request for immunity in WhatsApp lawsuit

NSO group
© Facebook
On January 9 the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) determined that WhatsApp (a messaging platform owned by Meta Platforms) could proceed with its lawsuit against the Israeli spyware company NSO Group Technologies. The NSO Group's request for immunity had already been rejected by lower courts before reaching SCOTUS.

Meta sued the NSO Group in October 2019 over its Pegasus hacking technology. Meta alleges that Pegasus allowed users to access WhatsApp servers and surveil some 1,400 individuals illegally.

In 2021 a reporting consortium investigated an NSO Group data leak (initially obtained by the Paris-based Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International) and discovered that Pegasus had been used by at least twenty authoritarian governments to spy on activists, journalists, and attorneys. Among the findings was news that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates surveilled the family of slain Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, before and after his murder.

Comment: See also:

Road Cone

Pete Buttigieg, inept and incapable, personifies 'Democrat'

© Stefan Jeremiah/AP
US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is fielding some much-needed fire for his epic fail to address the airline crisis keeping good citizens in states of various abandonment at airports around the nation.

But the most interesting critics are those expressing surprise over Buttigieg's fail-to-act.

He is, after all, a Democrat. And what Democrats do best is fail, blame others for their failure, then go on vacation. Just look at the leading failing Democrat, President Joe Biden. Where's he? St. Croix. Hiding from his own epic fails — so hiding, in fact, his staff has to bring presidential paperwork to the island for him to sign. He won't leave. Hidin' Biden.

Buttigieg isn't so lucky — or perhaps the word is powerful. He isn't high enough on the totem pole of power to merit a St. Croix get-away for his epic fails.

He has to stay closer to home. He's forced to face some of the fiery criticisms for his inept handling of transportation — you know, the thing he was hired to deal with and the thing for which taxpayers pay him dearly.

Comment: 'Ouch'! Stating the obvious.

See also:

Eye 1

How Democrat Adam Schiff abused his power to demand I be kicked off Twitter simply due to a personal vendetta

Paul Sperry

Investigative journalist Paul Sperry
Back from holiday vacation, I found an interesting email waiting for me in my inbox from Matt Taibbi, the independent journo Elon Musk tasked with reviewing and releasing internal Twitter documents about decisions to censor content and ban users from the platform.

"Paul," Taibbi wrote, "just found a crazy email on Twitter — did you know Adam Schiff's staff . . . asked Twitter to have you banned?"

I was gobsmacked. This would explain why Twitter could never give me a reason for suspending my account, even though I had broken none of its rules.

Schiff, the powerful Democratic chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, made his "request" to ban me through his staff in a November 2020 memo to Twitter. Three months later, in early February 2021, I was kicked off the platform.

Comment: Matt Taibbi weighs in on the Twitter Files and Russiagate:

Георгиевская ленточка

Ukraine suffered a humiliating defeat in Soledar after a relentless Russian assault: 'The entire town is littered with bodies'

russian forces soledar
© RT
This marks Russia's first major victory since the withdrawals from Balakleya, Krasny Liman and Kherson

Fighters from the Wagner Group have completely surrounded the Donbass town of Soledar and are now clearing the extensive tunnel network in the town's salt mines, the head of private military company, Evgeny Prigozhin, claimed.

The news came after weeks of intense battles in an area which sources from both sides, but especially those which are pro-Kiev, have described as a "meat grinder." Despite the sustained, albeit slow, Russian advance, the Ukrainian authorities have chosen not to retreat at the cost of tremendous losses.

"I want to repeat that Soledar has been fully liberated and cleared of Ukrainian army units," Prigozhin said in a statement on Wednesday evening. "The Ukrainian troops that refused to surrender have been destroyed."

Comment: The mines may be a big problem for Russia, as there are rumors that all the mines in the area are connected with tunnels at different levels, many big enough for tanks.

The question also arises as to what is potentially hidden in those mines that Ukraine was willing to throw away the lives of entire brigades of men in a futile attempt to hold them? Armaments that are dear to Ukraine, or is there something more sinister?

Bad Guys

Ukraine legalizes foreigners in neo-Nazi regiment

Azov battalion, Ukrainian neo-Nazis
© Getty Images / STR
The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday passed a new law that expands perks offered to foreigners who sign up to serve in the country's military. Sponsors of the bill specifically singled out the controversial Azov regiment as an intended beneficiary of the measure.

Azov originated as a group of far-right volunteers who in 2014 took up arms against Donbass forces with Kiev's blessing. The unit was incorporated into the National Guard, a structure separate from the army, in November of that year.

The new legislation has added the wording "and other military units" to several laws that previously only covered the main Ukrainian armed forces. A formal justification of the bill said that there are many foreign nationals serving in Azov, but that the existing legal framework makes their presence in Ukraine illegal and does not allow them to request Ukrainian citizenship. The new law is meant to change that.

Azov is arguably the best known internationally of the Ukrainian nationalist units. Before the conflict between Moscow and Kiev escalated into open hostilities last February, Western officials and media outlets acknowledged that many of the unit's members espoused problematic ideology and that some were neo-Nazis.

Bad Guys

Western-mediated Kosovo and Ukraine deals were lies - Serbia

Ivica Dacic
© Milos Miskov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic.
The 2013 EU-brokered Brussels accord between Belgrade and Kosovo was just as deceptive as the doomed 2014-15 Minsk peace agreements that were designed to end the bloodshed in Ukraine, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Friday. The statement came after a recent escalation over the breakaway region.

Serbian forces left Kosovo in 1999 after NATO bombed the country in support of the Albanian armed insurgency. The bloc's peacekeepers have been stationed in the region ever since. Kosovo declared independence from Belgrade in 2008. Serbia, however, with the support of Russia and China, has resisted US and EU pressure to recognize the independence.

Serbian officials have been accusing the Kosovo authorities of violating the Brussels-mediated deal by deploying heavily armed police units to quell Serbian protests in the northern part of the region. "We were not too happy about the Brussels Agreement. It was a goodwill gesture by Belgrade," Dacic told Serbian Prva TV after a meeting with Derek Chollet, a counselor at the US State Department. "But it later turned out to be a big lie, just like with the Minsk Agreements."

"I told Chollet that there is no one in Serbia who will accept the independence of Kosovo and Metohija," Dacic said, referring to the region by its official name. "The safety of the Serbs must be guaranteed," the minister stated, adding that the West must pressure the Kosovo authorities on the matter.

Arrow Up

What is the US "Gas Stove Ban" REALLY about?

What sounds like overeach in itself, is actually a cover for something potentially far, far worse.
Gas Stove
© Off-Guardian
The Biden administration is apparently looking to ban gas stoves, calling them a "hidden danger". But while that sounds bad enough, a deeper dive shows - as usual - it's not really about what they say it's about.

Talk of banning gas stoves and "unregulated indoor air quality" could be a Trojan horse designed to get even more "smart" monitoring technology into your home.

Let's jump in.


Well, according to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the New Scientist and million other outlets and pundits who started talking about it in the last two days, yes.

Earlier this week near-identical articles from the National Review, Bloomberg and CNN detail how the US Consumer Product Safety Commission will be opening "public comment on the dangers of gas stoves sometime this winter".

The articles claim:
The emissions have been linked to illness, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and other health conditions. More than 12 percent of current childhood asthma cases are linked to gas stove use, according to peer-reviewed research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last month.
Now would be a good time to talk about the phrase "linked to". It's always a good one to look out for in any mainstream publication. Journalists love it because it implies causation without stating it.

Consider, one hundred per cent of serial killers have been linked to the ingestion of water and the wearing of shoes.

If this manipulative use of language were not evidence enough of an agenda, the rather premature deployment of the race card proves it:
Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and Representative Don Beyer (D., Va.) wrote a letter to the agency last month urging the commission to address the issue and calling the harmful emissions a "cumulative burden" on black, Latino and low-income households.


German Justice Minister replaced for being a white male

Dirk Adams Doreen Denstädt
© picture alliance via Getty Images
Replaced with unqualified woman of African heritage.

The German Green Party has fired Justice Minister Dirk Adams, ostensibly for no other reason than him being male and white, and replaced him with an unqualified woman of African heritage.

Yes, really.

Comment: See also: