Australian news, and some related international items

Under Musk, Twitter Continues to Promote US Propaganda Networks

But Musk’s hot take on the Ukraine war should not be taken as proof of Musk’s anti establishment bona fides.

Far from being an establishment outsider, Elon Musk himself is a major figure in the military industrial complex, and represents the long tradition of Silicon Valley giants being thoroughly enmeshed in the military and intelligence wars.


Twitter’s “state-affiliated media” policy has an unwritten exemption for US government-funded and -controlled news media accounts. Twitter even boosts these accounts as “authoritative” sources for news during the Russian/Ukrainian war.

Elon Musk’s controlled release of the documents known as the “Twitter Files” has given us some insight into the inner workings of the social media platform. The batch of docs released on December 20 is arguably the most explosive, detailing Twitter’s deliberate shielding of US propaganda operations. After getting limited access to Twitter‘s internal systems, Lee Fang of the Intercept (12/20/22) detailed how Twitter staff “whitelisted” accounts run by US Central Command (CENTCOM), the unit of the US military that oversees the Middle East, as part of covert propaganda campaigns. In other words, Twitter protected accounts engaged in US psychological warfare operations, even though they clearly violated the platform’s terms of service.

But this is far from the whole story of Twitter’s assistance with US influence operations. A FAIR investigation reveals that dozens of large accounts that are part of US overt propaganda networks are given special treatment from the company, in blatant violation of Twitter’s own policies.

Through a lopsided “state-affiliated” media policy application, Twitter has actually gone against its own mission to provide “context” to users. More acutely, in Ukraine, Twitter actively promoted US funded media organizations as part of the “Topics” feature which ostensibly aggregated “authoritative” sources. The prominence of these outlets on the platform has strengthened their influence on the national media ecosystem, and has helped shape public perceptions of the entire war.

…………………………………………………………………………………………… Twitter rigorously enforces the rules for states the US considers to be hostile. Accounts for major state agencies in Russia, China and Iran are generally labeled as state entities. Media outlets from those countries are also targeted: PressTV from Iran, RT and Sputnik from Russia, and China DailyGlobal TimesCGTN and China Xinhua News from China are all labeled “state-affiliated media.”

Twitter has taken extra measures against Russia after the invasion, adding explicit warnings on any post linking to “a Russian state-affiliated media website”:

…………….. Artificial exceptions

Twitter’s policy defines “state-affiliated media” as newsrooms where the state has “control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” But there are several major media accounts that seem to fit this description that have no such warning labels.

None of the major public media outlets in the US, Britain and Canada have received the label. In 2017, NPR received 4% of its funding from the US government. The BBC receives a large portion of its funding from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The CBC receives $1.2 billion in funding from the Canadian government. Yet Twitter accounts for the BBCCBC and NPR are all unlabeled on the platform……………………………..

National Endowment for Democracy

A look at the US’s soft power initiatives shows far more outlets that ought to fall under the “state affiliated” label. One such conduit for funding is the National Endowment for Democracy. The NED, created during the Reagan administration, pours $170 million a year into organizations dedicated to defending or installing regimes friendly to US policies.

ProPublica (11/24/10) described the NED as being “established by Congress, in effect, to take over the CIA’s covert propaganda efforts.” David Ignatius of the Washington Post (9/22/91) reported on the organization as a vehicle for “spyless coups,” as it was “doing in public what the CIA used to do in private.” The first NED president, Carl Gershman (MintPress9/9/19), admitted that the switch was largely a PR move to shroud the organization’s intentions: “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA.”

NED operations in Ukraine deserve especially close scrutiny, given the organization’s role in the 2014 Maidan coup and the information war surrounding the Russian invasion. In 2013, Gershman described Ukraine as the “biggest prize” in the East/West rivalry (Washington Post9/26/13). Later that year, the NED united with other Western-backed influence networks to support the protest movements that later led to the removal of the president.

The history of the board is a who’s who of regime change advocates and imperial hawks. The current board includes Anne Applebaum, a popular anti-Russian staff writer at the Atlantic and frequent cable news commentator whose work epitomizes the New Cold War mentality, and Elliott Abrams, a major player in the Iran/Contra scandal who later played a key role in the Trump administration’s campaign to overthrow the Venezuelan government. Victoria Nuland, formerly the foreign policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, is a key player in US foreign policy, and was even one of the US officials who was caught meddling behind the scenes to reshape the Ukrainian government in 2014. She served on the NED board in between her time in the State Department for the Obama and Biden administrations. Other former board members include Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz, Zbigniew Brzezinski and current CIA director William Burns.

After the war started, the NED removed all of its Ukraine projects from its website, though they are still available through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. A look at 2021 projects shows extensive work funding media organizations throughout Ukraine with the ostensible goal of “promot[ing] government accountability” or “foster[ing] independent media.” Despite their overt funding from a well-documented US propaganda organ, none of these organizations’ Twitter accounts contain a “state-affiliated media” label. Even the NED’s own Twitter account does not reference its relationship to the US government.

This is highly relevant to the current war in Ukraine. CHESNOZN.UAZMiST and Ukrainian Toronto TelevisionVox Ukraine are all part of the NED’s media network in Ukraine, yet their Twitter accounts have no state-affiliated label. Furthermore, some of the newsrooms in this network boast extensive ties to other US government organizations. European Pravdathe Ukraine Crisis Media Center and Hromadske—all founded during or shortly after the US-backed Maidan coup in 2014—boast explicit partnerships with NATO. Hromadske and the UCMC also tout partnerships with the US State Department, the US Embassy in Kyiv and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID plays a similar role to the NED. Under the protective cover of humanitarian aid and development projects, the agency serves as a conduit for US regime change operations and soft power influence peddling. Among other things, the organization has been a cover for “promoting democracy” in Nicaragua, and provided half a billion dollars to advance the coup attempt against Venezuela’s elected government.

Kyiv Post and Independent

The most popular recipient of NED funds has been the Kyiv Independent, a reconstitution of another NED-funded newsroom, the Kyiv Post. Though it claims to receive the majority of its funding through advertising and subscriptions, the Post website lists the NED as “donors who sponsored content produced by the Kyiv Post journalists.”

When the Post was temporarily shuttered in a staff dispute in November 2021, many of the journalists formed the Kyiv Independent. They did this with a $200,000 grant from the Canadian government, as well as an emergency grant from the European Endowment for Democracy, an organization headquartered in Brussels that is both modeled after and funded by the NED.

After the outbreak of war, the Independent gained over 2 million Twitter followers and attracted millions of dollars in donations. Staff from the Independent have flooded the US media ecosystem: Its reporters have had op-eds in top US newspapers like the New York Times (3/5/22) and the Washington Post (2/28/22). They often appear on US TV channels like CNN (3/21/22), CBS (12/21/22), Fox News (3/31/22) and MSNBC (4/10/22)…………………………………………..

Boosting US propaganda

Twitter’s policy effectively amounts to providing cover and reach for US propaganda organs. But this policy effect is far from the whole story. Through various mechanisms, Twitter actually boosts US-funded newsrooms and promotes them as trusted sources.

One such mechanism is the curated “Topics” feature. As part of its effort to “elevate reliable information,” Twitter recommends following its own curated feed for the Ukraine War. As of September 2022, Twitter said that this war feed for the Ukraine War had over 38.6 billion “impressions.” Scrolling through the feed shows many examples of the platform boosting US state-affiliated media, with few or no instances of coverage critical of the war effort. Despite their extensive ties to the US government, the Kyiv Independent and Kyiv Post are frequently offered as favored sources for information on the war.

The account has generated a list based on what they claim to be reliable sources on the conflict. The list currently has 55 members. Of these, at least 22 are either US-funded newsrooms, their affiliated journalists. Given the complexity of the funding channels, and the lack of information on some of these newsrooms’ websites, this number is likely an undercount:

New Voice of Ukraine (NED, State Department)

Euan MacDonald

Kyiv Post (NED)

Natalie Vikhrov

Kyiv Independent (NED)

Anastasiia Lapatina, Oleksiy Sorokin, Anna Myroniuk, Illia Ponomarenko

Zaborona (NED)…………………………….

Worldwide propaganda network

The US government currently funds other media organizations that function more blatantly as arms of the state, yet none have the “state-affiliated media” label on their Twitter accounts. These outlets are part of the media apparatus set up to promote the US point of view around the world during the Cold War. The New York Times (12/26/77) once described them as being part of a “worldwide propaganda network built by the CIA.”

The network, known as the “Propaganda Assets Inventory” within the agency, once encompassed around 500 individuals and organizations, ranging from operatives in major media like CBS, Associated Press and Reuters to smaller outlets under the “complete” “editorial control” of the CIA. Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were at the vanguard of this propaganda operation. The Times reported in 1977 that the network resulted in a stream of US media stories that were “purposely misleading or downright false.”

The US government continues to directly operate several of these organizations. These outlets now fall under the auspices of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), a federal agency that received $810 million in 2022. That number marks a 27% increase from its 2021 budget, and is more than twice the amount RT received from Russia for its global operations in 2021 (RFE/RL8/25/21)…………………………………………………………………

Twitter, like other SiliconValley behemoths, has numerous links to the national security state. An investigation by Middle East Eye (9/30/19) revealed that one of Twitter’s top executives was also a member of one of the British military’s psychological warfare units, the 77th Brigade. Gordon MacMillan, who holds the top editorial position for the Middle East and North Africa at Twitter, joined the UK’s “information warfare” unit in 2015 while he was at Twitter. One UK general told MEE that the unit specialized in developing “the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level.” The story was met with near total silence in US and UK press (FAIR.org10/24/19), and MacMillan still works for Twitter.

Twitter also partners with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a hawkish think tank funded by the military industry and the US government, for its content moderation policies. In 2020, Twitter worked closely with the ASPI to remove over 170,000 low-follower accounts they alleged to be favorable to the Communist Party of China. More recently, Twitter and ASPI have announced a partnership ostensibly aimed at fighting disinformation and misinformation.

Twitter’s Strategic Response Team, in charge of making decisions about which content should be suppressed, was headed by Jeff Carlton, who previously worked for both the CIA and FBI. In fact, MintPress News (6/21/22) reported on the dozens of former FBI agents that have joined Twitter’s ranks over the years. Elon Musk’s controlled leak of internal communications, known as the “Twitter Files,” has renewed attention to the close relationship between the agency and the platform.

Though Twitter has previously denied directly “coordinat[ing] with other entities when making content moderation decisions,” recent reporting has revealed a deep level of integration between federal intelligence agencies, and Twitter’s content moderation policies. In part 6 of the “Twitter Files,” Matt Taibbi reported that the FBI has over 80 agents dedicated to flagging content on the platform and interfacing directly with Twitter leadership. Last year, emails leaked to the Intercept (10/31/22) showed how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Twitter had an established process for content takedown requests from the agency related to election security.

The platform is clearly an important hub for pro-Ukrainian sentiment online, though not all of the activity is organic. In fact, one study (Declassified Australia11/3/22) released last year found a deluge of pro Ukrainian bots. Australian researchers studied a sample of over 5 million tweets about the war, and found that 90% of the total were pro-Ukrainian (identified using the #IStandWithUkraine hashtag or variations), and estimated that up to 80% of them were bots. Though researchers did not determine the precise origin of these accounts, it was obvious that they were sponsored by “pro-Ukrainian authorities.” The sheer volume of tweets undoubtedly helped shape online sentiment about the war.

It appears that Washington understands the importance of Twitter in shaping public sentiments. When Musk originally set his sights on buying the platform, the White House even considered opening a national security review of Musk’s business ventures, citing Musk’s “increasingly Russia-friendly stance.” These concerns were prompted by Musk’s plan to bar SpaceX’s StarLink system from being used in Ukraine, after a spat between Musk and a Ukrainian official. The concerns also came after Musk (10/3/22) tweeted out the outlines to a potential peace proposal between Russia and Ukraine. This proposal was met with scorn and shock among American elite circles, where escalation rather than peace is the dominant position (FAIR.org3/22/22).

Musk and the national security state

But Musk’s hot take on the Ukraine war should not be taken as proof of Musk’s anti establishment bona fides. Far from being an establishment outsider, Elon Musk himself is a major figure in the military industrial complex, and represents the long tradition of Silicon Valley giants being thoroughly enmeshed in the military and intelligence wars.

Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, is a major military contractor, earning billions of dollars from the US national security state. It has received contracts to launch GPS technology into orbit to assist with the US drone war. The Pentagon has also contracted the company to build missile defense satellites. SpaceX has further won contracts from the Air Force, Space Defense Agency and National Reconnaissance Organization, and has launched spy satellites to be used by the CIA, NSA and other intelligence agencies (MintPress5/31/22).

In fact, SpaceX’s existence is largely owed to military and intelligence ties. One of its earliest backers of the company was the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the same military research agency that gave us much of the technology that defines the modern internet age………………….

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Musk made headlines by offering to donate his Starlink technology to the Ukrainian government to keep the country online. Starlink, a satellite-based internet provider, was essential to Ukraine’s war effort after the Russian attack disabled much of its traditional military communications. It has enabled Ukrainians to quickly share battlefield intelligence, and connect with US support troops to perform “telemaintenance.”

Musk’s offer to “donate” the technology earned him a lot of positive press, but it was quietly revealed later that the US government had been paying SpaceX millions of dollars for the technology—despite what SpaceX officials had told the public. According to the Washington Post (4/8/22), the money was funneled through USAID, an organization that has long been a tool of US regime change efforts, and a front for covert intelligence operations………………………………………

The relationship between Musk and the security state is so strong that one official even told Bloomberg (10/20/22) that “the US government would also use Starlink in the event of telecommunications outage,” hinting at links to high-level national contingency planning.

Continuity of governance?

The conversation surrounding Twitter has centered around whether or not Elon Musk is a free-speech advocate, though little has focused on the implications of a military contractor having complete control over such an important platform. Though Musk may (or may not) be stepping down as CEO, the platform will remain his domain.

Many things have changed under Musk’s Twitter, but Twitter’s role as a megaphone for US government–funded media has not. It would take a large research study to understand precisely how much impact Twitter’s misapplication of its own policies has on the propagation. But even without this data, it is clear that the platform’s design serves to nudge users away from most media funded by Washington-unfriendly governments, and, in the case of the Ukraine War, push users toward media funded by the US government. Musk’s status as a military contractor only underscores that challenging US foreign policy objectives is unlikely to be a priority for the company.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia to buy long-range HIMARS missile system from United States – at unknown cost (? 2 $billion)

ABC, By defence correspondent Andrew Greene, 5 Jan 2023

Australia’s Army will have an unprecedented long-range strike capability with the purchase of the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket (HIMARS) system, which Ukraine has praised for its devastating effectiveness against invading Russian forces.

Key points:

  • Defence officials say the use of HIMARS in Ukraine against Russia confirms why it’s needed 
  • Labor says the overall cost of the missiles is over one billion dollars
  • Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy says it “isn’t useful” to disclose the full cost to “potential adversaries” 

The Albanese government has finalised a deal to buy 20 of the truck-mounted rocket launchers by 2026, while signing another deal to acquire the Norwegian-made Naval Strike Missiles (NSM) for Australian warships next year.

Precise costs of the purchases are being kept secret for security reasons, but the government has confirmed to the ABC the overall figure is “between one and two billion dollars”.

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said during an October visit to the United States he held “productive discussions” with the Army and Lockheed Martin on how Australia could start producing the rockets used in HIMARS.

On New Year’s Day, a Ukrainian strike using the US-donated HIMARS system killed dozens, possibly even hundreds of Russian soldiers in the Donetsk region……………………………….

Congress was first notified of a possible sale of the Lockheed Martin-produced HIMARS to Australia seven months ago, while the NSM purchase was flagged by the Morrison government in April last year………………..

Labor says the HIMARS and NSM purchases will together cost over $1 billion, but Mr Conroy says precise details are being kept deliberately hidden.

“We won’t be disclosing the total cost of the two announcements,” he told the ABC.

“The two combined costs is between one and two billion dollars, the reason that we’re not disclosing the specific amount is that gives information to potential adversaries which isn’t useful beaming out there.”

In its notice to Congress in May, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency estimated the cost of 20 HIMARS and associated munitions and equipment at US$385 million ($561 million).

January 6, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How Defence chiefs committed Australian special forces to the US drug war in Afghanistan

by Stuart McCarthy | Jan 6, 2023

What is the accountability of Australia’s military top brass in alleged war crimes in Afghanistan? Stuart McCarthy, a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, looks at the case of former defence minister Stephen Smith who has just been appointed High Commissioner in London.

“The DEA people were having troubles getting their own country to support them, and they had these Australians saying yes. They were very appreciative.”

Special Operations Task Group Plans Officer Greg Barton, quoted in Ben McKelvey, The Commando, 2017.

The Albanese government’s appointment of former foreign affairs and defence minister Stephen Smith back into public office as the next High Commissioner to the UK is merely another example of a political mate landing this plum overseas posting.

Much in the way of Kevin Rudd’s appointment as Australia’s ambassador to the US, or the Liberal government’s appointments of Joe Hockey and Arthur Sinodinos before Rudd. That these are all “jobs for the boys” is no reflection on competence or their expertise. There would be few less qualified than Kevin Rudd or Stephen Smith for their respective positions.

Yet, if Australia’s alleged war crimes in Afghanistan are ever heard at The Hague, or even tested in a bona fide war crimes commission in Australia, there will be political ramifications.

The Wong choice 

Smith’s appointment at the completion of his Defence Strategic Review early next year reflects “the eminence of Australia’s relationship with the UK,” announced foreign affairs minister Penny Wong on 30 September. Not much to see here.

Not much to see at all, until we consider Smith’s connection to the alleged war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, and the possibility that senior defence officials might have to answer charges of command responsibility in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Australia’s military commitment to Afghanistan was at its peak in 2010 when Stephen Smith became Minister for Defence. Critical of the lack of a coherent strategy and having derided European troop contributing countries for “organising folk dancing festivals,” in 2009 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had increased our Afghanistan troop presence from 1100 to 1550.

Part of a NATO “surge,” the intention was to build the country’s fledgling democratic institutions while defeating a growing Taliban insurgency.

The Narco State

One of the wicked problems in dealing with both the insurgency and endemic Afghan government corruption at the time was the country’s decline into a nascent narco-state. So lucrative was the opium trade and so pervasive the corruption that in 2009 the estimated export value of opiates produced in Afghanistan amounted a third of the country’s GDP.

[ABC News YouTube video – Mark Willacy 21 Oct 2020 story on allegations of Afghan detainee murdered during 2 Cdo Regt/DEA counter-narcotics raid in Helmand province, mid-2012]

Coinciding with the NATO surge was a switch in the counter-narcotics component of the nation building strategy from eradicating opium poppy crops to interdicting the financial “nexus” between the drug trade and the insurgency.

Poppy eradication had proven not only unsuccessful but counter-productive. The prerequisite stable security situation, alternative livelihoods, functioning law enforcement and judicial systems, would take a decade or more to establish. Worse, destroying the only viable cash crop in most parts of the country was a surefire way to push impoverished farmers into the ranks of the rural insurgency.

In the minds of its proponents, a “counter-nexus” campaign targeted at the Taliban-aligned drug lords thus came into play as a silver bullet that could win the war. This despite the fact that no such endeavour has ever succeeded, anywhere, in the context of an ongoing war.

While the folly of fighting a drug war amid an escalating insurgency precluded most of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) armies from directly supporting this US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-led campaign, the main question was actually one of legality.

How legal was it?

Targeting an active participant in hostilities with lethal force is perfectly legitimate under the internationally accepted laws of armed conflict (LOAC), but extra-judicial killing of crime suspects is questionable at best. Summary execution is certainly illegal under Australian law.

Concerns about rewriting the rules of engagement (ROE) to target Afghan drug producers and facilities under the legal auspices of international armed conflict had been raised at the highest levels in ISAF. In a classified letter to NATO high command leaked to Der Spiegel in 2009, ISAF commander U.S. General David McKiernan wrote that this would:

“… seriously undermine the commitment ISAF has made to the Afghan people and the international community … to restrain our use of force and avoid civilian casualties to the greatest degree predictable.”

Hence in 2010 the DEA mandarins in Kabul had a problem. To prosecute their counter-nexus drug war in the opium heartland of Helmand province they needed a willing contingent of well-trained special operators. When even the US military wouldn’t provide this, they looked further afield and found the commando component of the Australian Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) in nearby Uruzgan province.

[ABC News YouTube video – Mark Willacy 21 Sep 2022 story on allegations seven civilians were killed during 2 Cdo Regt/DEA counter-narcotics raid at Qarabagh, Oct 2012]

On a visit to Uruzgan soon after he was shuffled from Foreign Affairs to Defence in September 2010 – making way for Rudd in the new Gillard cabinet – Smith was approached by officers from the 2nd Commando Regiment. The commandos had developed a counter-nexus joint operating concept with their DEA colleagues, but encountered “every kind of obstacle” in seeking approval through the chain of command.

According to one account, when the commanding officer briefed Smith in person during his visit:

“From the beginning, [the minister] saw the logic in the proposal and was just as keen to get the idea underway as [we] were.”

With Smith’s direct approval, over the next two years the commandos undertook dozens of DEA-led drug raids in southern Afghanistan, principally in Helmand. These were tactically successful, as one of the commandos explains in Ben McKelvey’s 2017 book The Commando:

“They were instant gratification missions. You go in there at night, fuck up a bunch of shit, blow up drugs, ruin some bad dude’s week … you were basically Batman.”

A decade later, reports of exactly the civilian casualties McKiernan anticipated in 2009 are emerging in the Australian media. A US Marine Corps helicopter crewman has alleged that an Australian commando executed a detainee during a mid-2012 raid in Helmand.

In another incident in Helmand later that year, local Afghans and “Defence sources” have alleged that seven civilians were killed, including six who were “under the control” of Australian commandos.

At least two of the incidents from the DEA-led counter-nexus raids are now reportedly under criminal investigation by the Office of the Special Investigator, newly established by the federal government amid the national outcry which followed the publication of the Brereton Report in 2020.

One of the Brereton inquiry’s questionable findings was that accountability for the crimes identified in his report does not extend to higher Australian commanders “because they did not have a sufficient degree of command and control” over SOTG.

In reality, the decisions to commit the commandos to the DEA-led counter-nexus campaign, and the national rules of engagement governing the use of force and prevention of civilian casualties during those raids, were made by senior Australian officials.

Like the 2012 SAS raids in Sola and Darwan villages, the paper trail for these counter-nexus raids goes all the way up to Stephen Smith. There is arguably a potential case here for recklessness or negligence, supporting charges of higher command responsibility under Article 28 of the Rome Statute – although his story makes no imputations as to Smith’s culpability.

Nevertheless, these incidents might not have happened without Smith’s personal approval of SOTG’s participation in the DEA’s ill-fated, legally questionable, “instant gratification” campaign to “fuck up a bunch of shit” like Batman in Helmand. 

January 6, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

CODEPINK calls on Zelensky, Biden and Congress to seize this chance for peace in Ukraine

On the heels of Russian President Putin ordering troops to observe a ceasefire in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas, CODEPINK calls on Ukrainian President Zelensky, President Biden and the U.S. Congress to also support a ceasefire that could pave the way for a diplomatic settlement. CODEPINK urges Zelensky to reconsider his rejection of Putin’s truce order, which Zelensky described as a “cynical trap.”

Putin’s support for a Christmas truce followed the Russian Orthodox Church’s plea for a ceasefire, as well as a statement, signed by over a 1,000 US faith-based organizations, in support of a Christmas truce, similar to one that arose spontaneously in the trenches of World War I when in 1914 German and British soldiers along the Western Front put down their arms to jointly celebrate Christmas.

CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin said, “This Christmas truce from Russia’s side is a tiny ray of light in a horrific war. Ukraine should seize the moment and join the truce, and from there all sides need to move to the negotiating table without preconditions. The entire world is crying out for an end to this war. This could be the beginning of a true dialogue.”

CODEPINK’s Marcy Winograd, who coordinates the Peace in Ukraine Coalition, said, “A truce would set the stage for a negotiated peace to end a US-Russia proxy war that threatens nuclear catastrophe. It is incumbent upon Congress and the White House to acknowledge there is no military solution and appeal to Zelensky to support this truce.”
In December, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation and National Council of Elders sent the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships the truce statement signed by ministers, priests, rabbis and imams in hopes of ending the fighting that has taken thousands of lives, displaced millions, further degraded the climate and worsened global hunger.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

White Lives Matter More in Ukraine

Black Agenda Report Margaret Kimberley, BAR Executive Editor and Senior Columnist, 04 Jan 2023,

The open white supremacy and fascism exhibited in Ukraine are conveniently swept under the rug. Nazis are bad, unless they serve the interests of the U.S. state.

The accuracy of this commentary’s title is borne out by statements made and actions taken by the Ukrainians themselves. In 2020 millions of people around the world protested against racism in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. Ukrainians made it clear that they were not to be included amongst that mass of humanity and in fact expressed their support for white supremacy.

In June 2020, a group of football fans at a match in Ukraine unfurled a banner reading, “Free Derek Chauvin .” Chauvin is the man who murdered George Floyd. Not to be outdone, members of the neo-Nazi group Nazionalny Sprotyv, National Resistance, marched on October 14, 2020 with a banner that made the point very clear. The words “White Lives Matter ” were written in English and in much larger type than the name of the organization which appeared in small type below. October 14 is celebrated as the Day of the UPA, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which fought alongside Nazi Germany after it invaded Ukraine during World War II. The words in the pink graphic on the video read, “On the march of UPA Nazis carefully burned the poster of BLM.” Nazionalny Sprotyv is known for its racist, anti-Russian, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Communist beliefs.

The war propaganda disseminated by the Biden administration and its friends in corporate media tells us to ignore the swastikas, Hitler salutes, and other clear indicators of Nazi sympathies when they appear in Ukraine. Suddenly symbolism which we were told to abhor as indisputable signs of hate speech are now to be accepted or explained away as figments of our collective imagination.

Nazi regalia and symbolism should make assistance to the Ukrainian government an automatic deal breaker. But the U.S. has always been rather flexible in its approach to Nazism. After World War II an intelligence program known as Operation Paperclip brought more than 1,600 German scientists to the U.S. to fight in the new cold war against the Soviet Union. Their links to the Nazi party were covered up so that they might be of assistance to the U.S. Werner von Braun and other Nazi linked scientists were instrumental in creating the U.S. space program.

Ukraine was a divided nation from its very beginnings after World War I, with half of the country hating the Soviet Union so much that they sided with and fought alongside the Germans. January 1 is officially celebrated not just as the first day of the year but as the birthday of Ukraine’s chief Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera. The 2023 celebration was no exception but not without embarrassment. The Ukrainian parliament was forced to delete a Twitter post featuring a photo of army commander General Valerii Zaluzhny juxtaposed with an image of Bandera. Bandera massacred thousands of Poles during the war and the Ukrainians had to be reminded through diplomatic channels that everyone isn’t as forgiving as clueless Americans. Just as Operation Paperclip is an inconvenient and rarely discussed truth, Ukraine’s continuing Nazi and white supremacist connections are now hushed up by the U.S. state and its media partners.

It is indeed awkward for Joe Biden to greet president Zelensky at the white house and for him to speak in congress if these facts are openly discussed…………

The Biden administration invitation to Zelensky was an effort to ensure that an additional $45 billion was allocated to Ukraine before the congressional session ended. The standing ovations and blue and yellow flags and cries of “Slava Ukraini!” were orchestrated to get more buy-in at a time when many Americans are asking why their needs go unmet and why Ukraine can’t resume the negotiations it was holding months ago with Russia. It has been reported that the U.S. sent the then prime minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, to tell Zelensky that any talk of peace had to end . Russia was ready to withdraw in exchange for security guarantees and an end to Ukraine’s efforts to secure NATO membership. But Ukraine is the latest U.S. forever war and its people have to suffer and die because of its dictates.

Perhaps the saddest sight of the night of Zelensky’s congressional speech was the adulation he received from some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). CBC members Sheila Jackson-Lee and Barbara Lee eagerly sought to shake his hand. Perhaps they are unaware of Ukraine’s white supremacist leanings. But that can’t be true. After all, in 2015 their CBC colleague, the late John Conyers, co-sponsored an amendment that would have barred U.S. funding to the Azov battalion and other Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups. The amendment was ultimately removed from the final spending bill…………………… more

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

International nuclear fusion project may be delayed by years, its head admits

Facility in France still far from being able to show feasibility of generating carbon-free energy despite recent breakthrough in US

Guardian, AFP in Saint-Paul-Les-Durance Sat 7 Jan 2023

An international project in nuclear fusion may face years of delays, its boss has said, weeks after scientists in the United States announced a breakthrough in their own quest for the coveted goal.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) project seeks to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy.

Installed at a site in southern France, the decades-old initiative has a long history of technical challenges and cost overruns.

Fusion entails forcing together the nuclei of light atomic elements in a super-heated plasma, held by powerful magnetic forces in a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak.Q&A

The idea is that fusing the particles together from isotopes of hydrogen – which can be extracted from seawater – will create a safer and almost inexhaustible form of energy compared with splitting atoms from uranium or plutonium.

Iter’s previously stated goal was to create the plasma by 2025.

But that deadline will have to be postponed, Pietro Barabaschi – who in September became the project’s director general – told Agence France-Presse during a visit to the facility.

The date “wasn’t realistic in the first place”, even before two major problems surfaced, Barabaschi said…………………………………


January 6, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Writers protest against imprisonment of climate activists

Ben Okri, Simon Schama, Helen Pankhurst and AL Kennedy are among more than
100 writers who have signed a letter in solidarity with UK climate protest

“That the UK now has political prisoners, incarcerated for
defending sustainable life on Earth is yet another national disgrace,”
Kennedy said.

At least 13 environmental activists began the year behind
bars in UK jails, after a year of “civil resistance” against climate
policies led by the Just Stop Oil campaign. More than 100 spent time in
jail, either convicted or on remand, for environmental protest in 2022.
“We stand with all those who are trying to sound the alarm and to protect
our beautiful world,” said the letter, coordinated and published by the
group Writers Rebel.

Guardian 6th Jan 2023

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Academic welcomes changes at The Oz — The Bug Online

MEDIA NEWS: New editorial appointments at News Crap Australia’s national broadshit, The Australian, have been welcomed by a respected journalism academic who heads the national oversight body for teachers of news journalism at major tertiary institutions. Professor Henny Jonningham (right in main picture), chair of the Combined Universities’ Newswriting Tribunal, said the changed arrangements at […]

…………… “I guess when I mentioned earlier that the changes would deliver greater certainty to the paper’s staff and readers, I should have also added in the Liberal Party. My bad,” Professor Jonningham said.

Academic welcomes changes at The Oz — The Bug Online

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bushfire deaths and smoke-related healthcare costs predicted to rise in next few years

In the decade to 2030, more than 2,400 lives will be lost to bushfires in
Australia, with healthcare costs from smoke-related deaths tipped to reach
$110m, new modelling led by Monash University suggests. The lead health
economist with the university’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety,
Associate Prof Zanfina Ademi, who headed the analysis, said it was
important to get a predictive picture of the bushfire situation in
Australia and its impact on health and the economy.

Guardian 2nd Jan 2023

January 6, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, health | Leave a comment

Military join rescue effort as floods ravage outback

The military has been brought into South Australia to help with emergency
evacuations amid official forecasts that thousands of properties are
threatened by the state’s worst flooding in almost 70 years. Officials have
described the crisis as a slow-moving disaster, brought on by heavy
rainfall over the eastern Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales
and Victoria.

Times 1st Jan 2022

January 6, 2023 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria | Leave a comment

January 6 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Flying Boats And Other Tech For Cleaner Shipping” • The Pioneer is an electric foiling workboat developed by Artemis Technologies. The foil, a wing-like structure beneath the boat, lifts the hull out of the water, reducing drag. Combine that with an electric motor, Artemis says, and you have a vessel with […]

January 6 Energy News — geoharvey

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment