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US aid worker freed over 6 years after kidnapping in Niger

jake sullivan press brief
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 10, 2022.
American aid worker Jeff Woodke has been released more than six years after being kidnapped by militants in Niger, U.S. officials said on Monday.

Woodke's release was announced days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Niger for an official visit, becoming the first top U.S. diplomat to visit the country.

"I'm gratified & relieved to see the release of U.S. hostage Jeff Woodke after over 6 years in captivity," U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Twitter. "The U.S. thanks Niger for its help in bringing him home to all who miss & love him."


Epstein victim allowed to sue big banks for allegedly enabling sex offender: 'We will leave no stone unturned'

epstein maxwell
© Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
An unnamed victim of deceased child sex predator Jeffrey Epstein, as well as the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, will be allowed to file suit against JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank.

United States District Judge Jed Rakoff tossed most of the charges against the two financial institutions in proposed class action lawsuits on Monday, according to a report from Bloomberg, and threw out three of the four claims against JPMorgan Chase in a separate suit from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Attorneys will be permitted, however, to contend that the firms benefited from the Epstein sex trafficking scheme by providing him with financial services.

"Epstein's sex trafficking operation was impossible without the assistance of JPMorgan Chase, and later Deutsche Bank, and we assure the public that we will leave no stone unturned in our quest for justice for the many victims who deserved better from one of America's largest financial institutions," lawyers for the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Epstein victim, identified only as Jane Doe, said in a statement.

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Four Oath Keepers members found guilty of obstruction in the far-right group's third Jan. 6 trial

oath keepers
© U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia
William Isaacs, Laura Steele, Sandra Parker and Connie Meggs.
The third set of Oath Keepers to go on trial were not facing seditious conspiracy charges like the first two groups.

Four members of the Oath Keepers were convicted of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on Monday, as a judge ordered jurors to continue deliberating over the most serious counts against two additional defendants.

Sandra Parker, Laura Steele, Connie Meggs and William Isaacs were found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The jury found Michael Greene, another member of the Oath Keepers, not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding but was still debating whether he was guilty of aiding or abetting the obstruction of an official proceeding. Bennie Parker was found not guilty of aiding or abetting, but the jury was still deliberating over the charge of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

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Vegan 'guru' charged after baby dies from suspected malnutrition

Maksim Lyutyy
© Instagram/yarilo_drug
The Russian fitness coach claimed he lives healthily on fruit, vegetables and sun rays.

A Russian self-styled personal growth coach who advocates a vegan lifestyle has been arrested in connection with the death of his one-month-old son. The child died from apparent malnutrition and a lack of medical treatment.

Maksim Lyutyy, a 43-year-old resident of a village near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, has been placed in pre-trial custody after being charged on Sunday at a local court.

The mother of the child, Oksana Mironova, was moved from jail to house arrest last week. The infant was pronounced dead on March 8 when his parents took him to the hospital. The child was born at the couple's home on February 11, investigators said.

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Moldova resumes gas purchases from Russia's Gazprom, just a few months after declaring 'independence' from its supplies

The logo of Gazprom company is seen on the facade of a business centre in Saint Petersburg, Russia March 31, 2022.
Moldova has resumed gas purchases from Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) in March after a break of about three months, the head of public natural gas distributor Moldovagaz said on Monday.

"In March of this year, on the basis of a current contract, Gazprom has been providing the supply of natural gas to the Republic of Moldova in a total volume of 176.7 million cubic metres per month, or 5.7 million cubic metres daily," Moldovagaz head Vadim Ceban wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Since December, Gazprom had been providing supplies only to Moldova's Russian-backed Transdniestria separatist region, east of the Dniester river. None had gone to the part of Moldova west of the river, including capital Chisinau.

Comment: See also: 40,000 protest in Moldova against recently collapsed pro-Western government, energy costs soar eightfold


Protests & strikes rage on in France, MPs 'threatened with guillotine' ahead of crucial vote

france protest oil worker

Oil workers on strike block the access to an oil depot in Fos-sur-Mer, southern France, Tuesday, March 21, 2023
The French government has survived two parliamentary no-confidence votes over President Emmanuel Macron's decision to push through a controversial pension reform bill without lawmakers' approval. The failed motions on Monday were followed by renewed violent unrest overnight.

The first no-confidence motion, tabled by a small group of opposition lawmakers, garnered significant support in the National Assembly, dominated by Macron's centrist alliance. The motion fell just nine votes short of the 287 required to pass. The second motion, put forward by the right-wing National Rally party, was backed by only 94 lawmakers.

Despite failing to pass the motions, some opposition lawmakers urged the government to resign anyway. "The government is already dead in the eyes of the French," left-wing MP Mathilde Panot said after the votes. "It doesn't have any legitimacy anymore."

Comment: She has a point; polls have shown that 52% of people support a 'social explosion' movement against the government, and a few percent more support rolling strikes to bring the country to a standstill.

Comment: It's not just in France protests and strikes against deteriorating living standards, and increasingly totalitarian governance, are occurring:

Red Flag

700 NYPD riot cops mobilized, steel barriers deployed ahead of potential Trump arrest

NYC barrier
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has mobilized 700 riot cops and deployed steel barricades around the Manhattan Criminal Court in anticipation of civil disorder, should the Manhattan District Attorney's office order the arrest of former President Donald Trump, following a potential grand jury indictment for allegedly paying a former porn star for her silence ahead of his 2016 presidential campaign.

As the NY Times gleefully reports, "He would be fingerprinted. He would be photographed. He could even be handcuffed. And if Donald J. Trump is indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in the days ahead for his role in a hush money payment to a porn star, the former president of the United States of America will be read the standard Miranda warning: He will be told that he has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney."

Comment: Aside from the fact that the proceedings stem from a highly political desire to neutralize Trump's influence and demonize him further, one might wonder if there are "special events" planned outside the courthouse that are designed to further vilify and demonize Trump supporters...


Idaho hospital blames abortion politics for closing of labor and delivery department

idaho state capitol my body my choice
© Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman via AP
A sign reading "My body, my Choice" hangs from a streetlight in front of the Idaho State Capitol on May 3, 2022.
Patients will now have to travel over 45 miles to the closest hospital with labor and delivery.

An Idaho hospital made the decision to axe its labor and delivery department, saying the "political climate" made it too difficult to keep it staffed.

"Highly respected, talented physicians are leaving. Recruiting replacements will be extraordinarily difficult," Bonner General Health, located in Sandpoint, Idaho, said in a social media post Friday. "The Idaho Legislature continues to introduce and pass bills that criminalize physicians for medical care nationally recognized as the standard of care. Consequences for Idaho Physicians providing the standard of care may include civil litigation and criminal prosecution, leading to jail time or fines."

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Texas lawmakers unanimously pass bill that will allow fentanyl dealers to be charged with murder

fentanyl pills
Texas lawmakers have passed a bill to allow fentanyl dealers to be charged with murder.

The "Combating Fentanyl" bill introduced by Republican Sen. Joan Huffman, SB 645, passed unanimously.

The legislation would reclassify deaths due to fentanyl as poisonings and open up anyone who makes, sells, or delivers the drug to being charged with murder if someone overdoses.

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Hungary won't bow to pressure on Ukraine - FM

Hungarian politician Peter Szijjart
© AFP / Daniel Mihailescu
FILE PHOTO: Peter Szijjarto arrives for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest, Romania, November 30, 2022. Kiev can't join either bloc unless it respects Hungarian minority rights, Budapest insists.
The "war party" in Brussels wants to push Budapest into sending weapons, Peter Szijjarto has said.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said that his country won't be pushed into supplying arms to Ukraine. The diplomat accused the EU of a pressure campaign against Budapest. The bloc's ministers reportedly agreed to send $2 billion worth of ammunition to Kiev's forces.

"Another war party proposal is on the table: this time Brussels wants to send ammunition to Ukraine," Szijjarto wrote on his Facebook page on Monday. "The pressure is constantly increasing on us, but we are not allowing anyone to push us into war," he added.

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