A former CIA officer could spend the rest of his life behind bars after pleading guilty on Wednesday to spying for China, the Justice Department said. Jerry Chun …
“counterintelligence cia” – Google News
A former CIA officer could spend the rest of his life behind bars after pleading guilty on Wednesday to spying for China, the Justice Department said. Jerry Chun …
“counterintelligence cia” – Google News
A former CIA agent pleaded guilty Wednesday to spying for China though there is no evidence to show that he shared information with the Asian nation, the …
“cia” – Google News
By Rev. Ben Johnson*
has made a resurgence in this generation, not least because of
its deceptive moral appeal. Secular Millennials join liberal priests,
pastors, and rabbis in saying that profits corrupt, unequal outcomes are
immoral – and perhaps even Jesus would have been a socialist. Yet numerous people, secular and faithful, have weighed collectivism in the balance and found it wanting.
One of the people who found socialism ethically inferior to capitalism came from an unlikely source: the Unitarian Church.
His verdict? Socialism “is the necessary outcome, not of religion but
of irreligion,” he said. Redistribution of wealth slows moral
development and creates evils worse than capitalism.
The minister in question, A. Powell Davies, was once one of the most
influential church leaders in the United States. He crusaded for civil
rights as pastor of All Souls Church in Washington, D.C. He counted
Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black among his friends, and Justice William
O. Douglas edited a book of his sermons. The Religious Left leader was honored by the liberal Americans for Democratic Action posthumously.
Socialism is not an ethical advance; socialism is an ethical compromise
Reverend Arthur Powell Davies (1902-1957) was a
British-born Methodist who converted to Unitarianism – if “convert” is
the proper noun for such a change. Davies embodied William F. Buckley
Jr.’s caricature of the Unitarian who believed in “at most” one God.
“This ancient God of miracles and interventions … is really dead,” wrote Davies, who styled himself a “theological radical,” in his 1946 book The Faith of an Unrepentant Liberal. “There is no God in the sky,” he wrote in
another context. “There is no army of angels, no hosts of seraphim and
no celestial hierarchy. All this is man’s imaginings.” Any belief in the
supernatural, he believed,“represses growth. It keeps the mind always
However, his lack of faith (from a traditional
perspective) underscores the point. Although there is a high correlation
between secularism and socialism, Davies revealed at least a few of
Davies, who provided weekly analyses of national issues from his pulpit, turned his glance upon socialism in an address titled “Is Socialism More Ethical Than Capitalism?” which was delivered on October 16, 1949.
Despite the title of his address, Davies actually explored only the
morality of compulsory wealth redistribution as was practiced by Labour government-era Britain. But even a radical non-theist found that the welfare state did not pass muster as a moral economic system.
“Socialism is not an ethical advance; socialism is an ethical compromise,” he said.
First, Davies rejected Marxism because of its belief that human
nature could not be improved. Socialism compels people to redistribute
wealth from the rich to the poor, something Davies supported. But
compulsion “is not ethically nobler” than choosing to give one’s own
goods to the poor. “[E]thically they are better for what they do
voluntarily than for what they are compelled to do, even though they
themselves consent to the compulsion,” he said.
The very decision to turn to the state implies that people cannot be
trusted to exercise their freedom responsibly. Socialism comes about
“not because of idealism, but because of despair.”
Davies also denied socialism is more ethical than capitalism for a
second reason, which echoed the most famous dictum of Lord Acton:
From the viewpoint of religion, there is no more evil in the profits
of a capitalist than in the vanity of a socialist politician. The one
seeks money, the other, notoriety. … [H]uman nature under either system
would exploit the weaknesses of that particular system, and I fear the
weaknesses of compulsory systems more than those of voluntary ones.
In 1949, the Unitarian lamented that Americans “would even give away a
part of their freedom because they could not trust themselves and each
other to act fairly on a voluntary basis.”
But collectivism’s greatest harm is its view of human character, Davies said.
Ultimately, socialism retards humanity’s moral progress:
[C]apitalism leaves more room for liberty and encourages ethical
maturity and voluntary righteousness. Compulsory systems, paternalistic
and authoritarian, foster attitudes which are ethically not grown up.
Since socialism is an ethical retreat from free moral action, it cannot embody the goal of any religion:
When therefore, churchmen draw closer to socialism and say it is the
necessary outcome of religious idealism, they are mistaken. It is the
necessary outcome not of religion but of irreligion; that is to say, it
is the necessary outcome of the evils of the human heart which prevent
us from doing voluntarily what we are therefore obliged to do from
Traditional Christianity taught for millennia that believers should diligently cultivate wealth so that we can freely distribute
it to those in need. Almsgiving, a pillar of all three Abrahamic
religions, benefits the giver by freeing him from greed and allowing him
to express love for the recipient.
The notion that it is morally superior for Christians to ask the government to forcibly redistribute others’ possessions is so fatuous that it was once exposed by a non-believer in the pulpit.
*About the author: Rev. Ben Johnson is a senior editor at the Acton Institute. His work focuses on the principles necessary to create a free and virtuous society in the transatlantic sphere (the U.S., Canada, and Europe). He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History summa cum laude from Ohio University and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.
Source: This article was published by the Acton Institute
By Ryan McMaken*
The United States has a long,
violent history of intervention in Latin America, although few Americans
know about it. Were one to ask the average American, for example, about
the US occupation of the Dominican Republic — which lasted for eight
years from 1916 to 1924 — one is likely to only receive a blank stare in
Even in the cases of those interventions which are more famous — such
as the Spanish-American War or the Panama invasion of 1989 — details
remains virtually unknown among much of the general public.
Perhaps this willful ignorance results partly from the fact the
overall legacy of US robust record of repeated interventions in Latin
America is not a good one.
Whether we’re talking about the 1954 US-backed Guatemalan coup, the
US support of Batista in Cuba, multiple occupations and interventions in
Haiti, or the second invasion of the Dominican Republic, it cannot be
said that interventionist US policy in the region has a record of
producing political stability and economic success.
This doesn’t prevent some American interventionists from trying. In
recent months, US foreign policy-interventionists like John Bolton have
relentlessly called for more US-sponsored regime change — this time in
Venezuela —and have turned Venezuela into the latest proxy-battlefield
between the US and nuclear-armed Russia.
The rhetoric around this latest regime change follows essentially the
same playbook of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria. In none of these
cases were US policy goals achieved, although in all cases, the US did
manage to destroy local infrastructure and human lives to an impressive
Interventionists, however, are counting on the short memories of
American voters who may have already forgotten that the “humanitarian”
interventions in Iraq and Libya did little more than create a power
vacuum filled by Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Certainly,
neither “peace” nor “prosperity” are terms that could describe any
country recently targeted for humanitarian wars.
Bolton and friends are also counting on the idea that Americans will
continue to embrace the idea that doing “something” is better than
doting nothing, even though “something” has been repeatedly shown to be,
by far, the most destructive option.
As historian David Kennedy noted in his book The Dark Sides of Virtue:
[I]t is easy to overstate the humanist potential of
international policy making. Many of the difficulties encountered with
human rights activism arise equally in humanitarian policy-making
campaigns. Policymakers can also overlook the dark sides of their work
and treat initiatives which take a familiar humanitarian form as likely
to have a humanitarian effect. It is always tempting to think some
global humanitarian effort has got to be better than none. Like
activists, policymakers can mistake their good intentions for
humanitarian results or enchant their tools — using a humanitarian
vocabulary can itself seem like a humanitarian strategy. … It is all
too easy to forget that saying “I’m from the United Nations and I’ve
come to help you,” may not sound promising at all.
Indeed, humanitarian interventions have hardly been slam dunks even
in cases like the Rwandan Genocide, as Stephen Wertheim noted:
[H]umanitarian interventionists often assumed military challenges away, failing to think concretely how intervention might unfold…[But] a war to stop the Rwandan genocide would have been nothing like as simple as interventionists later claimed…Interventionists truly committed to achieving humanitarian results must appreciate the difficulties of forging peace after war — and register the potential harms of postconflict occupation in the calculus of whether to intervene in the first place … On the whole, humanitarian interventionists tended to understate difficulties of halting ethnic conflict, ignore challenges of postconflict reconstruction, discount constraints imposed by public opinion, and override multilateral procedures.1
Given that the current socialism-induced disaster in Venezuela hardly
rises to a level even approaching the Rwandan Genocide, it’s hard to
see how US’s record on foreign interventions in recent decades could
possibly be overlooked in favor or yet another invasion.
Of course, opposing US bombing of Venezuelans — which is what
“humanitarian intervention” likely means — is not the same thing as
supporting the Maduro regime itself. Nor is the fact that immoral
opportunists like John Bolton and Michael Pompeo hate the Maduro regime
reason enough to like it. The problem with Pomeo and Friends isn’t that
they badmouth kleptocrat politicians like Maduro. The problem is US
Bolton, et al incessantly push the line that is is either moral or
effective to launch yet another “humanitarian” war.
Nor do these interventionists even offer a critique that is either
unique or insightful. Nearly anyone who isn’t a true sympathizer with
socialist regimes — i.e., Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn
— can see the transformation of the Venezuelan economy from a mixed
economy to a largely socialist one — known as Chavismo — has been
predictably terrible for the Venezuelan standard of living.
By most accounts, shortages are rampant, blackouts are frequent, the
entrepreneurial economy has been decimated, and homicide rates are way
And this is why its so unfortunate the US administration has
essentially declared war on the current regime. By declaring war on
Maduro, the US administration only helps the regime shore up its base,
play the victim, and draw on nationalist tendencies to secure its
position. Cuba, of course, offers an instructive precedent in this
For example, supporters of Maduro — and his predecessor Hugo Chavez —
always drew a sizable amount of support from Venezuelan nationalists who opposed any US meddling in domestic affairs, and who suspected the US was seeking constantly to essentially turn Venezuela into a puppet regime.
Chavez bragged repeatedly about his ability to withstand us efforts
at replacing him through various CIA machinations and coup attempts.
Whether these were real or imagined, both Chavez and Maduro were able to
solidify their base through fears of US meddling.
Now, by explicitly declaring war on the Venezuelan regime, the US
regime has only confirmed what Chavez and Maduro have claimed all along.
The Administration has, in a sense, legitimized Chavismo foreign
Moreover, the US declaration of War against the regime has served to
make it easier to accuse all opponents of the regime as US stooges.
It’s easy to see how this works just by observing American politics.
In the United States nowadays, it’s quite easy to be accused of being in service to the Kremlin — as John McCain said of Rand Paul
— by taking certain political positions. Specifically, anyone who
supports the Trump Administration — which is said to be in the thrall of
Vladimir Putin — or who pushes a relatively restrained foreign policy,
opens himself to labels such as “foreign agent” or “traitor.” These
terms are thrown around casually as if it’s simply self-evident that
anyone who opposes the CIA’s latest scheme, or who points out James
Comey’s obvious bias and incompetence, must be doing Moscow’s bidding.
Now, imagine if the Russian state had come out in 2016 and said it
openly supported the Trump candidacy and planned to invade the United
States if Trump were not elected.
Clearly, this would inflame sentiments of nationalism and whip up
support for those who were seen as enemies of the Kremlin. It would
become easy to accuse anyone who supported “Russia’s man Trump” as a
traitor. Being “pro-American” might become synonymous with opposing
The analogy fails in some respects, of course, because no well-informed person thinks Russia can actually invade North America.
In Venezuela, on the other hand, the threat of invasion by the US is
very plausible and real. Thus, the stakes in real life in Venezuela are
far higher than in our imagined US scenario. Faced with a very possible
invasion — and aware of the US’s abysmal record on spreading “freedom”
in Latin America — many Venezuelans may be even more inclined to support
a regime they don’t like if it’s perceived as a bulwark against
becoming a puppet state of the United States.
Moreover, US sanctions against Venezuela provide a scapegoat for the
regime’s failed economic policies. As the Venezuelan economy continues
to stagnate, the regime can simple say “we’d be doing much better if we
didn’t have these US sanctions to contend with.”
The same phenomenon has been observed in Iran for decades. Various US
administration repeatedly threaten Iran with invasion, sanctions, and
destruction, yet the residents there don’t rise up to welcome their new
American overlords. Indeed, the constant war of words only gives the
Iranian regime a convenient scapegoat.
Americans are no different.
Thus, by choosing sides in the Venezuelan conflict, the US has likely
made the replacement of Maduro even less likely. The internal conflict
has been transformed from a fight over which factions shall control the
central government, and turned into a referendum on preventing US
control of Venezuela.
The thought of US control, of course, isn’t opposed by everyone. But given the long history of Latin American nationalism — which is often reminiscent of US nationalism — it’s not hard to see why many Venezuelans have failed to take the streets to demand the current regime be replaced by the CIA’s preferred candidate.
*About the author: Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for Mises Wire and The Austrian, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.
Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb, took it on the chin on Wednesday when he learned reigning ‘Jeopardy!’ champion James Holzhauer and two competitors did not know …
“michael flynn” – Google News
1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)
Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (85 sites)
Nothing turns on the charlatan class of terrorism expertise than a video from an elusive, unknown destination, adjusted, modified and giving all the speculative trimmings. In reading, E.B. White suggested the presence of two participants: the author as impregnator; the reader as respondent. In the terrorism video, the maker consciously penetrates the shallow mind of the recipient, leaving its gurgling DNA to grow and mutate.
When Islamic State began its gruesome foray into the world of terrorist snuff videos, experts resembled overly keen cinephiles seeking the underlying message of a new wave. The burning of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh in a cage in 2015 caused a certain rapture amongst members of a RAND panel. Was this, perhaps, a celluloid standoff with rival al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose affiliates had just slaughtered the staff of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in their Parisian offices?
Senior Adviser to the RAND President, Brian Michael Jenkins, could not “recall a single incident in modern terrorism where terrorists deliberately killed a hostage with fire.” There was “no religious basis for it this side of 17th century witch burning.” Senior political scientist Johan Blank turned to scripture, finding “at least one specific prohibition of death by fire in the ahadith literature” on “the grounds that it resembled hellfire.” The inspiration had to stem from somewhere, and Blank’s judicious offering was Ibn Taymiyyah, “fountainhead of much current jihadi reinterpretation of longstanding Islamic orthodoxy.” Andrew Liepman, senior policy analyst, saw the video as a lucid moment of proof. “I wonder how much more evidence we need to confirm that ISIS is acting outside the norms of Islam.” Not modish, it would seem.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, has begun to resemble, in no small part, previous heads of franchise terrorist groups who have become reproductions and simulacra of themselves. Terrorism is big business, stage sets and props, all tweeted for good measure; it is bestial theatre that draws out the voyeurs, the google-eyed analysts, and the lunatic converts. Whether such heads are dead or not is of little consequence past a certain point: Baghdadi had supposedly been dead yet his corpse seems more than capable of putting together a presentation for audiences. It is also incumbent on those seeking his capture or death to claim his general irrelevance. Everyone did know one thing: the last time he performed on a public perform was the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul in July 2014.
The video, aired on the Al Furqan network, is filmed in appropriately Spartan surrounds, but that is neither here nor there. Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi thinks otherwise linking, erroneously, the making of the film with the current location of the protagonist. “Regarding the location of Baghdadi, we can’t give intelligence information right now but it’s clear from the video that he’s in a remote area.” As is the fashion, neither the date nor the authenticity of the recording is verifiable. All else is a wonder, and even the Middle East Monitor is careful to suggest that the speaker was “a bearded man with Baghdadi’s appearance”.
Baghdadi lacks complexity in his message, never straying from the apocalyptic line. “Our battle today is a battle of attrition, and we will prolong it for the enemy, and they must know that the jihad will continue until Judgment Day.” He is mindful of the fruitful carnage inflicted by the Eastern Sunday bombers in Sri Lanka, and thanks them. Such acts, he reasons, were retribution for the loss of Baghouz in Syria.
The speculations duly form a queue, and talking heads have been scrambled into studios and Skype portals. This video may have been a retort, and reassurance, before the potential usurping moves of another ISIS figure of seniority, Abu Mohammed Husseini al-Hashimi. Hashimi had staked a claim in stirring up discontent against Baghdadi’s more extreme tyrannical methods. Not that he is averse to the application of hudud punishments (stoning for adultery excites him), and the quaint notion that the ruler of any Islamic State caliphate is bound to be a successor to the prophet Muhammed. Modesty is a drawback in such line of work.
Colin P. Clarke, senior fellow at the Soufan Centre, aired his views that Baghdadi’s “sudden appearance will very likely serve as both a morale boost for ISIS supporters and remaining militants and as a catalyst for individuals or more groups to act.” It was a reassurance that he remained the grand poohbah, atop “the command-and-control network of what remains of the group, not only in Iraq and Syria, but more broadly, in its far-flung franchises and affiliates.”
The teasing out and ponderings on minutiae are not far behind. Resting upon a flowered mattress, and leaning against a cushion with an assault rifle by his side (nice touch for the old fox), it was bound to have an effect. The expansive beard caught the eye: The Washington Post noted that it “has greyed since his only other video appearance”. Previously, the paper noted, it had been “tinted with henna”. Then there was the AK-74 prop, a rather popular Kalashnikov variant reprised from previous showings in the video work of Abu Musab Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden.
Such superficial renderings, the stuff of terrorism kitsch, lends itself to fundamental fact that Baghdadi might be somewhere, anywhere, or nowhere, a nonsense figure, to a degree, in a nonsense medium. The modern terrorist franchise is fluid and far-reaching. Followers need not feel estranged. They can use social media, cosy-up and wait for eschatological endings.
The pioneer of this terror mania (global yet local) was al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, a figure who, along with his sparring counterpart US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, formed a perfect symmetry of simulative nonsense, the gobbledygook of post-2011 security. Each time US forces and their allies sought to target the slippery Saudi, he vanished. The raid and bombing of the Tora Bora complex in Afghanistan yielded no returns; the man was nowhere to be seen, having escaped, possibly, in female garb. Sightings, and rumoured killings, remained regular till the penultimate slaying in Abbottabad in May 2011. The man, declared dead on numerous occasions, was Lazarus in reverse.
Rumsfeld, for his part, insisted on those known knowns, known unknowns and “things we do not know we don’t know”. Unwittingly, he had given the age its aptly absurd epitaph, and with that, much work and fare for the witch doctors of terrorism keen to gorge upon the next video offering from their beloved subjects. Ignorance in this case, not knowledge, is power.
By Pooja Shah and Russell Whitehouse
“And just like that, my mother was married to the village chaiwala when she was 14!” I distinctly recall my grandmother saying as we sat together on the front porch, warmed by the mid-summer breeze. “14? She’s a child!” I gasped out of horror. “How can she be married? Her parents allowed it?” I ignorantly continued.
It was July 2011. I was visiting my now-late grandmother in Ahmedabad, Gujarat after a two-month writing excursion through Mussoorie. The first few days of my stay were filled with pleasantries and questions about school and life in “Amreeka”, quickly followed by the incessant questioning of when I would get married and if I found a suitable companion yet… Of course, to a 19-year old college sophomore student barely at the cusp of adulthood, marriage felt like an intangible figment of my imagination, as it did for most of my peers back home who were too occupied by finalizing our majors and what party to attend next weekend. However, as my grandmother spoke, summoning stories of her own mother, it became dauntingly obvious that not only marriage was the traditional norm, but marrying early was the expectation in the era she grew up in.
12% of girls in the developing world will be married off before the age of 15; in many of the world’s poorest countries, like Bangladesh, over half of girls will be married off before the age of 18. According to the IWWC, over 400 million women aged under 50 years old are survivors of child marriage. Western countries aren’t exempt from this scourge: over 200k girls have been married in this current century in the US.
Although theoretically child marriage is outlawed in India, in many rural areas, impoverished families will often “give away” their children in exchange for fleeting economic security. Rooted deeply in religious, traditional and cultural norms, and often motivated by economic factors, many families view child marriages as a means to end their economic suffering.
My grandmother confided in me that her mother, a child herself, gave birth at the age of 16 with a husband who was nine years her senior. Dadi dismissed my shocking reaction and confirmed, once again, that this was not atypical. I began to realize over the course of our conversation the very limited rights and personal choices these children, particularly young girls, have. Their lives are a mere transaction: exchanging their livelihood and existence for a few rupees on their families behalf, all while being forced to forego their educations, childhood, hobbies, and sense of independence.
This commodification of the lives of girls reinforces a culture of deep misogyny. Being married off while school-age tends to end a girl’s education; less than half of child brides have completed primary (let alone higher) education. This can create economic shackles for a girl in a marriage; without even a basic education, a girl or young woman is unlikely to find a job that can create any level of financial freedom. Being saddled with a child from a young age also impedes a girl’s ability to leave the house to find work. With this reality in mind, it’s no shock that child brides are 9% more likely to experience physical or sexual abuse (generally by a husband or parent in-law) than women. A young lady with little education is less likely to be aware of legal options to end this suffering, like filing a domestic abuse complaint with the police or filing for divorce.
Such a culture is likely to continue other degrading practices, like female genital mutilation and widow ostracizing, as well as create whole generations of traumatized girls and young women. The systemic rape of young girls inevitably moves the social Overton window, making the rape of women, men and boys seem less important or even noteworthy. Growing up in a household featuring such disparate power dynamics is liable to create a twisted sense of self-esteem and justice among children of child brides. Mothers are one of the primary sources of the pedagogy of a child. Thus, girls who were taken from their schools to get married would be less well equipped to contribute to their children’s education. This would be especially apparent in terms of sexual education; a culture of child brides is intrinsically less able to teach its children about health topics like STDs and birth control, to say nothing of ethical issues like consent.
My dadi also revealed how her own mother suffered multiple miscarriages throughout her youth, as her body was not fully equipped to bear pregnancy. This is unsurprising; young girls aren’t biologically ready to go through the physical traumas of pregnancy and giving birth. Pregnant girls under 15 have quintuple the maternal mortality rate of women; 88% of them suffer obstetric fistulae, which often lead to permanent disability. Girls are also disproportionately likely to receive cervical lacerations during intercourse, which can lead to cervical cancer down the line. The children resulting from these underage marriages suffer similar hazards. Babies born to child brides are 28% more likely to die within their first 5 years of life than babies born to women.
When confronted by my bachelorette status (as I often was when I visited India), I remember I would always counter with “I have to finish school first”, acknowledging the privilege I had to control my education and career aspirations. When it comes to these child brides, often times marrying at a young age will likely mean an end to their education, and in turn, will hinder their ability to obtain the skills and knowledge that is vital for income-generating employment.
That day I was enraged by the fact that child marriage continues to exist in the 21st century, as well as my personal lack of awareness on the issue. It has been over eight years since that enlightening conversation, and thankfully due to the tireless efforts of activists, legislators, and advocates there has been movement towards ending child marriage. In fact, UNICEF and Indian Wedding Buzz joined forces earlier this year on Valentines’ Day to #EndChildMarriage, demonstrating that one of the most crucial steps in eradicating this humans right issue is to stand against it. By utilizing their global social media platform and influential magazine, the #EndChildMarriage initiative was aimed at raising awareness of the implications of child marriage and more importantly, how we, collectively, can help put a stop to it. The campaign further empowered young girls in many South Asian and African countries (i.e. Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, among nine others) with the information and resources to understand the implications of what they are being forced into.
Furthermore, the program continued to develop national strategies with the efforts of government investments, religious leaders, and of course our community. This social media sensation, backed by Indian Wedding Buzz, demonstrated their respective commitment to being part of the change, so that we as South Asians, as Americans and as humans can follow suit to be part of this revolutionary movement. After all, there is strength in numbers.
One by one, the Republican senators took turns questioning Barr not about Trump’s actions, but about Clinton and the Justice Department.
“Peter Strzok” – Google News
The new European copyright directive prohibits online aggregators from linking to news outlets or publications without the prior authorisation of the publisher. This column uses the 2014 shutdown of Google News in Spain to demonstrate that news aggregators can have a positive impact on outlets’ traffic, in particular outlets with more casual readers, those with a low national rank, and those with fewer international visitors. This heterogenous effect suggests publishers and aggregators may wish to negotiate their own specific compensation terms for content use.
By Joan Calzada and Ricard Gil*
On 26 March 2019, the European Parliament passed a new
copyright directive to protect content creators (music industry, book
publishers, news media, etc.) in the digital age. Article 15 of the
directive prohibits service providers such as news aggregators from
linking to news outlets or publications without the prior authorisation
by the publisher.1 News aggregators – such as Google News,
Yahoo! News and Bing News – are some of the most successful new players
in the internet’s new era, occupying top positions in terms of audience
rankings. But since their introduction they have faced the opposition of
news publishers, who consider aggregators as free-riders that resell
their content. This controversy has motivated the amendment of copyright
laws in several countries, limiting the use aggregators can make of the
publishers’ content. Now, after long and fierce debates, the EU has
decided to regulate these practices, and allows the creation of a ‘link
tax’ that would require aggregators to pay licensing fees to publishers
for using their media content.2 In the next few years,
European countries will have to transpose the new directive to their own
legislations. This new legal framework opens the question of whether
and how national governments should design publishers’ compensation for
Under the new legislation, compensation could entail
government-mandated payments, negotiated payments between publishers and
aggregators, or could even imply a reversal to any payment by
publishers in exchange for being indexed by aggregators. To design the
right compensation scheme, it is crucial to understand the impact of
news aggregators on the traffic and advertisement revenue of news
outlets. On the one hand, a negative effect of news aggregators on
linked outlets’ traffic would support the implementation of a ‘link fee’
coordinated at the national level. On the other hand, a positive effect
on traffic would advocate for allowing the parties to individually
negotiate the terms of the agreement, and potentially even waive their
right to any compensation.
The economics literature has identified two potential types of
effects news aggregators may have on news outlets (Dellarocas et al.
2013, Jeon and Nasr 2016). One positive effect is that aggregators
generate indirect visits of casual readers to news outlets that
otherwise would not take place, and they encourage visitors to read news
stories of higher quality from several outlets (market expansion
effect). But aggregators can also have negative effects on news outlets,
as both sides compete directly for the direct visits of non-loyal
readers, who are aware of the outlets but may prefer the aggregators’
screening capacity if they are allowed to choose (substitution effect).
Although a some visitors to aggregators click on the links and visit the
news outlets, not all of them do so, and those that do it do not visit
the news outlets’ front page, thereby reducing their advertising
While most empirical research on this matter agrees that news
aggregators increase the traffic of linked news outlets (Chiou and
Tucker 2017, Athey et al. 2017, Sismeiro and Mahmood 2018), few provide
direct evidence on the heterogeneity of this effect on the traffic to
different types of outlets or their advertisement revenues. This
information is crucial for the design of well-informed policy.
In our new study (Calzada and Gil 2019), we contribute to this debate
by examining a recent dispute of Google News in Spain, which proves
useful to understanding the role and heterogeneity of the impact of news
aggregators on the news market.
At the beginning of 2014, a reform of the Spanish intellectual
property law established that firms posting links and excerpts of news
stories had to pay a compulsory link fee to the original publishers.
Consequently, on 16 December 2014, Google News decided to shut down its
Spanish edition, arguing that under the new regulation the service would
not be profitable. We exploit this quasi-natural experiment to examine
the effect of news aggregators on the number of visits received by news
Our study draws from a rich dataset obtained from SimilarWeb
containing information on the daily number of visits for 50 Spanish news
outlets and other outlets from France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal as a
control group. We estimate the impact of the Google News shutdown by
comparing the performance of Spanish news outlets before and after the
shutdown of the service in Spain relative to the performance of French
and Italian news outlets during the same time period (Google News in
France and Italy did not experience any disruption in its service during
that time). Our results show that after the shutdown, Spanish news
outlets experienced a reduction in the number of daily visits of between
8% and 14%, with a growing impact during the first six weeks (see our
results comparing Spanish and Italian news outlets in Figure 1 below).
These findings confirm the previous work of Chiou and Tucker (2017),
showing that news aggregators have a net positive impact on outlets’
traffic. They are also in line with a parallel study by Athey et al.
(2017) that uses a different dataset and approach to examine this same
Figure 1 Log daily visits before and after the Google News Spain shutdown
Most importantly, we also find that reductions in daily visits after
the shutdown are larger in lower-ranked outlets and outlets with a lower
percentage of international visitors. These results are consistent with
the fact that news aggregators benefit most those outlets that have low
brand awareness and large brand loyalty. The shutdown affected
lower-ranked outlets the most and international outlets less because
they are most dependent on the flow of casual consumers generated by
aggregators, and because aggregators do not compete for their relatively
small base of loyal domestic visitors. Along the same lines, we also
show the impact of the shutdown depends on the outlets’ specialisation –
sports and regional outlets experienced the largest impact, with little
effect on national outlets, and no effect on business outlets.
Finally, we also consider the effect of the shutdown on advertisement
revenues and advertising intensity (the frequency with which firms
advertise their products in a news outlet) at the domain level. Using
data from Spanish advertising consulting company ARCE Media, we show
that both advertisement revenues and advertisement intensity decreased
after the shutdown. This impact is weaker on front pages than content
pages, which receive most traffic from news aggregators.
In summary, our results reveal that the shutdown of the Spanish edition of Google News reduced the number of daily visits to Spanish news outlets. The reduction of visits concentrated around outlets with a larger share of casual readers, such as regional and sports outlets, outlets with a low national rank and those with a relatively low internationalisation level. Niche outlets and prominent national outlets were less affected by the shutdown. These findings are relevant for antitrust authorities, regulators, and policymakers interested in the impact that the new European directive on copyright may have in the media market. If anything, these results tilt policy prescription towards allowing publishers and aggregators to negotiate their own specific terms. Finally, our findings should also be useful for publishers interested in adjusting their advertising strategies to the presence of news aggregators. Yet, future research should aim to understand the impact of aggregators on journalism ethics and standards as well as their effect on competition in the market for news.
*About the authors:
Athey, S, M Mobius and J Pal (2017) “The Impact of Aggregators on Internet News Consumption,” Working Paper, Microsoft Research.
Calzada, J and R Gil (2019), “What Do News Aggregators Do? Evidence from Google News in Spain and Germany”, Marketing Science, forthcoming.
Chiou, L, and C Tucker (2017) “Content Aggregation by Platforms: The Case of the News Media,” Journal of Economics and Management Strategy 26(4): 782-805.
Dellarocas, C, Katona, Z and Rand, W M (2013) “Media, Aggregators,
and the Link Economy: Strategic Hyperlink Formation in Content
Networks,” Management Science, 59(10): 2360-2379.
Jeon, DS and N Nasr (2016) “News Aggregators and Competition Among Newspapers in the Internet,” American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 8(4): 91–114.
Sismeiro, C and A Mahmood (2018) “Competitive Versus Complementary
Effects in Online Social Networks and News Consumption: A Natural
Experiment,” Management Science 64(11): 5014-5037.
 Another relevant measure in the Directive is Article 17, which
establishes the actual legal responsibility of large content platforms
(defined as more than 3 years old, with turnover above €10 million and
more than five million unique monthly visitors) to ensure that any media
uploaded does not infringe copyright. This will force platforms the use
of upload filters to ensure that unlicensed copyrighted contents is not
available on their website.
 In spite of its name, this measure will not apply to hyperlinks
and uses of individual works or very short extracts of news stories.
By Clint Watts*
(FPRI) — At the beginning of the decade, American law enforcement received repeated warnings of how the improvised explosive devices (IED) employed by al Qaeda affiliates might soon make their way to the United States. The IED warnings proved correct. On January 17, 2011, police officers in Spokane, Washington, narrowly averted a disaster by re-directing a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. march away from a remote detonated, shape charge loaded with “shrapnel coated with a substance meant to keep blood from clotting in wounds.” It wasn’t al Qaeda or even an al Qaeda supporter that planted the most sophisticated IED to then appear in the United States. Instead of finding an international terrorism connection, the FBI, on March 9, 2011, arrested Kevin Harpham, a former member of the U.S. Army who was affiliated with a neo-Nazi group called the National Alliance.
Not long after the election of President
Barack Obama, all indicators pointed to a dramatic rise in domestic
terrorism in the U.S. White supremacist threats mounted after America
elected its first African-American president. Online conspiracy theories
regarding the president’s citizenship and religion
helped fuel a rise in racism intertwined with domestic politics.
Alongside race-based groups, anti-government groups rose as well,
powered by erroneous beliefs about abortion, repealing of the Second
Amendment, or declaration of martial law.
Still, the U.S. focused its
counter-terrorism efforts on al Qaeda and its spawn, the Islamic State.
Homegrown extremists inspired by the groups were a more vexing problem
at that moment. The Obama administration crafted policy and programs
“to develop community-oriented approaches to counter hateful extremist
ideologies . . . including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent
extremists in the United States.” Years of conferences and outreach
sessions commenced, but the focus remained on preventing jihadist
terrorism and not domestic terrorism. Muslim communities saw law
enforcement-led interventions, and I’d spoil these discussions by
asking, “Where is the outreach to domestic extremists?” I’d point out
that Kevin Harpham arose from Eastern Washington, not far from where FBI
Agents in 1992 became embroiled in a disastrous standoff at Ruby Ridge
with an alleged, anti-government group. “Why don’t we send some teams
out to northern Idaho and eastern Washington to counter domestic
terrorism?” I’d ask. No one responded, and the conversation would die
because we all knew the answers. Domestic extremists have guns; al Qaeda
wannabes generally don’t. Domestic terrorists vote; international
A decade of neglect and turning a blind
eye to the rising current of white supremacist movements, combined with
the rise of political divisiveness built on racial, religious, and
ethnic divides, has brought an unprecedented modern wave of domestic
terrorism. An African-American church became the scene of a horrible atrocity in South Carolina, and others recently burned in Louisiana. Mosques are attacked abroad and desecrated in the States.
American synagogues in Pittsburgh and San Diego have become the site of
mass shootings. White nationalist terrorism has long been on the rise.
Why doesn’t America do something about it?
The summer of 2016 brought an
unprecedented global wave of Islamic State terrorist attacks. My
commentary consisted of several articles and interviews describing how
the Islamic State directed foreign terrorist attacks, relied on its
network of affiliates and former foreign fighters to conduct others, and
spawned as a result a contagion of inspired attacks as their successes
rippled through global media. Cascading terrorism,
as I referred to it, resulted in one attack begetting another attack,
where the frequency and scale of each incident reflected the power of a
global jihadi extremist movement.
While the Islamic State stole the
headlines, behind the scenes though, my colleagues and I watched
Russia’s disinformation storm build heading into the 2016 presidential election.
Advancing anti-government conspiracies and amplifying racially charged
divides in America represented one of the Kremlin’s principal avenues
for infiltrating the electorate. Having stumbled onto the Russian trolls
in early 2014, I only became convinced of Russia’s effectiveness in
undermining American democracy after watching them elevate the Jade Helm military exercise conspiracy alleging the U.S. military would take over Texas.
After publishing our assessment
of Russian influence headed into the election, I did not worry much
about the outcome of the vote, but instead worried about domestic
extremist groups turning to violence at polling places based on
conspiracy theories of election rigging and voter fraud. Shortly after
the election, such a scenario occurred when an armed man fired shots at a
pizza place in the nation’s capital. The PizzaGate incident showed the
power of online conspiracies to propel violence in right-wing circles.
For the last decade, I’ve concluded counter-terrorism courses with a forecast comparing and contrasting the threat of international and domestic terrorism in the U.S. Four variables offer perspective as to where each category of extremist group might be headed. (Figure 1)
From 2001 to the summer of 2016, the
threat of international jihadists far outpaced domestic extremists. Al
Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their legions of inspired supporters knew
who they wanted to attack and why. They were highly motivated to commit
violence to advance their agendas. The challenge for jihadists came down
to whether they could gain access to high-profile targets and whether
they had the weapons, bombs, skills, and experience to pull off an
attack. For domestic extremists in America, nearly all had or could
acquire weapons; some even had training, but few were focused on who and
where to attack—and almost none were willing to commit violence.
Today, domestic extremist violence outpaces
Islamist extremism, and the character of the threat has changed
dramatically in the last three years. Right-wing extremists and
international jihadists from the last decade have many parallels and
some differences. Al Qaeda networked its supporters on websites,
YouTube, and in web forums. The Islamic State followed suit on Facebook
and Twitter before being kicked off those platforms, and then descended
on the lesser-policed app Telegram. Today, white supremacists—having
been largely pushed off mainstream social media platforms—use obscure
sites like Gab and 8Chan to network, radicalize, share philosophies, and
celebrate attacks. At the group’s height, the Islamic State’s social
media posts traveled widely and were empowered by global legions of
supporters who further distributed the group’s message. Today, white
supremacists have grown so highly networked online that the Facebook
Live video posted by New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Harrison Tarrant
1.2 million times at upload, and then another 300,000 copies were
removed after posting. The Islamic State never achieved such an intense
and capable network of online support.
Al Qaeda and Islamic State supporters
looked to group leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for targeting guidance, and to jihadi clerics
such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi
and Anwar al-Awlaki for religious justifications of violence. The
global white nationalist terrorist movement today has its own heroes in
Anders Behring Breivik, Dylann Roof, and now Brenton Tarrant, who
inspire others to commit violence and establish their ideological
direction through terrorist manifestos.
Both extremist movements have advanced
through the inspirational contagion of successful attacks, which raise
the respective ideology’s profile, garner media attention, attract
recruits, and inspire further plots. The difference between the inspired
attacks of international jihadists and white nationalist extremists
comes in the direction by which they coalesce.
Al Qaeda and the Islamic State formed as named groups that directed terrorist attacks on specified targets. Each group then used violence to recruit, train, and indoctrinate international foreign fighters—creating a global web of supporters and affiliates and launching networked attacks in coordination and under their banners. Directed attacks and networked attacks then cascaded into waves of inspired attacks by those believing in jihadi ideology, but often having no direct connection to the international group. The strength of al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the global movement that the two groups inspired could be felt by the breadth and frequency of this full spectrum of directed, networked, and inspired attacks under the banner of jihad—reaching its violent zenith in the summer of 2016. (For reference, see, “Inspired, Networked & Directed – The Muddled Jihad of ISIS & al Qaeda post Hebdo” and Figure 2.)
White supremacist terrorism appears to
be following the inverse model of international jihadists by forming
from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. White supremacists live and
operate largely in Western countries hosting substantial law
enforcement. Adequate policing prevents the formation of named groups
and squelches the organizing, training, planning, and preparation
jihadist groups enjoyed in failing states like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria,
or the Sahel.
Lacking a central core leadership, white
supremacists emerge from grass roots, online organizing. Each attack
inspires another one leading to a global network of online supporters
spreading the ideology and offering technical and tactical assistance
when possible to further additional attacks. Whereas jihadists needed
money, training, weapons, and access to targets, white supremacists have
easy access to African-American, Jewish, Muslim, LGBT, and other
minority group targets; enough money to self-finance attacks; and plenty
of weapons at their disposal. Continued successful attacks and online
networking, if not addressed holistically by Western law enforcement,
will likely lead to further in-person networking at rallies, movement to
compounds domestically, or even regional or international white
supremacist enclaves that could lead to the formation of named, global
white supremacist groups. If left unabated, the pattern of jihadists
(Top-down, Directed-Networked-Inspired) will reverse itself for white
nationalist terrorists as they grow in strength (Bottom-up,
Inspired-Networked-Directed). A good current example of this right-wing
terrorist formation is Atomwaffen—a Neo-Nazi group linked to multiple murders in the U.S.
The West should now worry equally about
the global networking, state sponsorship, and facilitation of right-wing
extremists. Russia’s state-sponsored disinformation system amplifies
racial divides in America, boosts anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim
sentiment globally, and helps act as connective tissue linking
like-minded white nationalist movements across the West. In Sweden, two
of three bombers from the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement received
military training in Russia before returning home to attack left-wing
activists and a refugee home in Gothenburg. The Balkans and in
particular Serbia, home to a long history of ethnic strife, surface regularly
in white nationalist terrorism discussions, appear routinely in
extremist circles, and may become an attractive hub for like-minded
extremists seeking a new home abroad over time. A reminder, the
Christchurch mosque attacker, Brenton Tarrant, was not from New Zealand,
Signs already suggest the spike in white nationalist violence will likely lead to reprisal terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists and left-wing movements. Sri Lanka’s defence minister
said that a preliminary investigation into the Islamic State-linked
Easter bombings found the attacks to be “in retaliation for the attack
against Muslims in Christchurch.” New Zealand’s foreign minister later disagreed
with this assessment and noted the Islamic State’s claim of
responsibility didn’t mention the Christchurch attack. But even the
suggestion of such a reprisal attack points to the growing risk of
reciprocal Islamic extremist attacks and left-wing inspired attacks in
response to right-wing aggression. Literally, the name Antifa comes from “anti-fascists,” as a countermovement to right-wing extremists. This past week, the FBI disrupted a plot by a U.S. Army combat veteran to bomb a white nationalist rally. In sum, unchecked violence begets more violence.
Americans—whether it’s the government or
the media—treat domestic terrorism different than international
terrorism. Inside the FBI, international and domestic terrorism
investigations employ different rulebooks. Cases against international
jihadists generally follow the National Security Guidelines and if a
nexus to a foreign power, foreign terrorist organization, or designated
foreign terrorist surfaces, investigators can request searches via the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to preempt impending
Domestic terrorism investigators use the
U.S. Criminal Code to guide their investigations, and have a higher bar
to hurdle for investigative approvals, far fewer resources at their
disposal, and no formal domestic terrorist organization designation to
power preemptive looks into extremist networks. There is a definition of
domestic terrorism in U.S. code,
but there is no specific criminal statute for domestic terrorism tied
to that code. Domestic terrorism investigations thus often result in
what appear to be one-off, reactive pursuits after violent attacks, as
no legal avenue for upending domestic terrorism exists. As former FBI
Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Gomez has explained
over the years and in discussions with me, “Absent a fully approved
investigation into a designated domestic terrorism group, FBI agents are
left with investigating dozens or even hundreds of individuals for
conspiracy to commit a specific crime.”
Short of violence or a full
FBI-designated domestic terrorism investigation, preventing white
nationalist attacks becomes nearly impossible for investigators. The
First Amendment protects their speech, and the Second Amendment protects
their access to weapons. The FBI, however, despite these challenges,
should be applauded for successfully thwarting several domestic
extremist plots in recent months suggesting those inside the federal law
enforcement agency recognize the threat and currently pursue them to
the best of their ability despite so many constraints.
The White House and Capitol Hill stymie
aggressive policing of domestic extremists. Whether it is Richard
Spencer’s rallies in Charlottesville, Congressman Steve King’s comments and actions, or even this past weekend’s white nationalist demonstration
at a Washington, D.C. book talk, white supremacists and their
law-abiding supporters represent a constituency, and Congress doesn’t
like to talk about them. When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
tried in 2009 to warn of military veterans becoming right-wing extremists, Congressional Republicans admonished the agency, and the assessment was withdrawn. (Reminder, Kevin Harpham in 2011 was a military veteran). A decade later, DHS disbanded its domestic terrorism intelligence unit as part of a reorganization to eliminate federal redundancy.
Elected leaders could do something more
than offer their thoughts and prayers to challenge the growing threat of
white nationalist terrorism. Our nation’s legislators could and should
enact a federal crime for domestic terrorism (explained best by Mary B. McCord here at Lawfare).
Another option for Congress would be to create a law for designating
domestic terrorism organizations and domestic terrorists equivalent to
the process conducted by the U.S. State Department for international
terrorism. However, I have no confidence in our Congress during this
time to enact such legislation and then fairly conduct oversight of such
a designation process. Current legislative debates place equal emphasis
on Black Identity Extremism and anarchists. There have been remarkably
few violent incidents by Black Identity Extremists; according to the
FBI’s estimate, “Violence has been rare over the past 20 years and there is sparse evidence of any convergence.” The FBI and DHS assess that anarchists and Antifa “principally target property,” not people. FBI Director Wray has publicly called
white nationalist terrorism a “persistent, pervasive threat,” and
America has watched white supremacists kill and wound hundreds of its
citizens. To place Black Identity Extremism and Antifa/anarchists on
equal footing is simply silly, and shows gross negligence by our elected
leaders and great weakness by our institutions.
Since our lawmakers can’t pass laws
designed to deal with the most pressing threats to American security,
their committees could start by informing themselves and the public
through a series of public hearings on domestic terrorism requesting the following information from the FBI and DHS:
White nationalist terrorism arises from individuals in a loose network, and the FBI can do something about it. The U.S. just went through a similar period with al Qaeda and Islamic State’s homegrown violent extremists. The FBI Director, ideally with the public support of the Attorney General and the president, should open a nationwide domestic terrorism case for “White Nationalist Inspired Terrorism.” Designating this case would allow for investigators and analysts to conduct assessments for detecting violent plots before they occur. In recent years, a similar case designation for al Qaeda and Islamic State-inspired, homegrown violent extremists helped the FBI catch up to the international jihadist threat. In short, the designation will help the FBI dedicate more resources and personnel to white nationalist terrorism, may help them detect violent plots earlier, and increase the amount of information for sharing with state and local partners who may be better informed and positioned for thwarting extremist violence.
These small, simple steps can help stem the rising tide of white nationalist terrorism, but one thing above all could dramatically reduce domestic extremism: leadership. Offering “thoughts and prayers” via tweets accomplishes nothing. Elected leaders must acknowledge white nationalist terrorism now, publicly refute the divisive ideology, and affirm their commitment to protect all Americans against threats foreign and domestic. Until this happens, these elected leaders fail in their duty to lead our country, and all Americans will remain vulnerable to the violence of a growing strain of white nationalist terrorism.
*About the author: Clint Watts is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and author of Messing With The Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News.
Source: This article was published by FPRI
 See, the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) for the difference between Assessments, Preliminary Inquiries, and Full Field Investigations.
By Bruno Husquinet
The growing East-West confrontation has polarized the Moldovan
political landscape and there is an emerging political will and
consensus to move beyond this divisive situation in order to address the
myriad of challenges facing Moldova. Unless Moldova is able to
transcend this divide, the country will remain weak and the perverse
financial incentives that feed off this weakness will be become further
entrenched. At the same time, settlement of the Transnistria situation
is urgently needed to de-escalate tensions between Europe and Russia,
and this requires new political resolve.
Since the country’s independence in 1991, economics has dominated
Moldovan politics as it sought to diversify its economy and find new
markets. The legacy of the Soviet era is Russia’s dominance and
influence: all gas consumed
in Moldova comes from Russia, there are hundreds of thousands of
Moldovans working in Russia, and most of Moldova agriculture’s products
end up on the Russian market. As the European project came to fruition
in the 2000s, Moldova nurtured the hope of new opportunities. With the
help of European funds and access to the European market, Moldova would
finally enjoy the fruits of a decade of democracy and capitalism.
Moldovans understood the pros and cons of tying their economy to either
markets, and after only a few years, were disillusioned by both avenues.
Unable to develop its economy independently, Moldova has not been able
to dislodge itself from this East-West policy divide.
Prior to gaining its independence, Moldova was a region within the
Soviet Union that comprised multiple ethnic groups as a result of its
history and soviet ethnic engineering. Since 1991, Moldova has struggled
to put together the pieces of its identity puzzle
in its state-building process and the forces of geopolitics are working
against it. Moldova’s geographic location is its curse, but could
equally be its opportunity: depending on the state of affairs between
the West and the East, Moldova is either on the frontline or serves as a
bridge. Today, the former is prevailing as this small country sits
where Russia’s near abroad meets Europe’s neighborhood. Moldova,
similarly to other countries, is caught in a tug of war between Moscow
and Brussels. The Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union
use the carrot-and-stick policy to draw Chisinau into their orbit.
These competing quests to attract Moldova have generated economic,
security and political vacuums that unscrupulous businessmen have
Whilst the EU, Russia and the US meddling in Moldova’s affairs has
yielded some positive outcomes, most notably its short-term economic
viability, it has also generated negative consequences. Reflecting upon
this, a senior official within the presidential administration opined
that Moldova remains an object rather than a subject of international
law. By this, he meant that Moldova remains dependent upon those
external actors whose interests increasingly diverge. Equally, there has
yet to be a Moldovan figure that could unite the country around a new
social contract. Taken together, these internal disputes and external
meddling reinforce each other and prevent Moldovan authorities from
exerting full control over the country’s judiciary, economics, and
territory. When state sovereignty is shaky, rule of law languishes,
creating fertile environment for corruption and organized crime to flourish.
Whilst low on the radar of many Western chancelleries, Moldova is an
excellent barometer of security affairs in Europe. Its very fragility
makes it sensitive to the smallest ripple in the relationship between
the major actors, namely the EU, NATO and Russia. Arguably, one of the
most significant downgrades in the European security architecture
occurred when Russia pulled out of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
(CFE) in 2007. Considered a cornerstone of international security
policy in the late 1980s, the document signed by 22 countries, including
the United States and the Soviet Union, called for transparent
information sharing of conventional forces based in Europe. When the
treaty was reviewed in 1999, NATO demanded that Russia remove all of its
troops from Moldova and Georgia. These political demands were not fully
met and NATO countries subsequently refused to ratify the new treaty.
At the same time, Moscow has blamed NATO for increasing its presence in
the region and therefore also violating the terms of the treaty.
The security architecture of Eurasia, including the Black Sea region,
has suffered greatly from what is viewed as the first major setback
since the end of the Cold War. Without the CFE Treaty, the European
security architecture has been significantly weakened and is unable to
support other agreements that hinged upon the CFE Treaty, such as the
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that has recently collapsed.
Trust and confidence between NATO and Russia continues to decline as
both continue to increase their military presence across central Europe
and, against this backdrop, it is hard to believe that Russia would be
willing to remove its troops from Moldova. Furthermore, NATO opened an information office in Chisinau
in December 2017, a move that did little to bolster trust. Although
neutrality is enshrined in its constitution, Moldova struggles to resist
pressure from NATO and Russia, both of whom have become adept at using
the Transnistria situation to justify their actions.
Transnistria is one of the key disagreements between NATO and Russia
and is the furthest forward Russian military presence in Europe.
According to the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor
Osmochescu, there is no serious political disagreement between Tiraspol
and Chisinau and the ‘resolution’ to the conflict lies in the hands of
those external parties involved. The February 24 parliamentary elections
marked the first time Transnistrians were able to vote for their own
members of parliament and this of itself is accepted as an act of
rapprochement. Interestingly, the two members of parliament elected were
decidedly pro-European and the population seems to have been swayed by a
cheap cash-for-votes scheme that has cast doubts about how strong the
Russian influence really is.
In Moldova, including in Transnistria, pragmatism prevails: people
have multiple passports and business flourishes between Tiraspol,
Chisinau, Moscow, Brussels and Kiyv. It is difficult to call it a
conflict where people are able to – physically and economically – cross
administrative borders with such ease. Equally, the situation is not
frozen given the dialogue and the agreements between the two entities:
for example, Transnistrian-registered vehicles are now able to be driven
across international borders and this is owing to a recently signed agreement.
The main issue is the shadow economy and the profits reaped by a few.
These individuals operate across state boundaries and dismantling their
criminal rings requires international cooperation. Many believe that
eradicating these criminal rings lies at the heart of the settlement of
the Transnistrian situation. If this were to happen, there would no
longer be an argument for Russian troop presence and Chisinau would
regain its sovereignty. It is all about setting into motion this
virtuous circle, which is easier said than done. Herein lies the role of
the international community.
A viable settlement plan for Transnistria is at a standstill and this
is due to the inability of domestic political actors to overcome the
East-West fracture and find common ground as well as the economic black
holes that are readily exploited on the ground. These internal
conditions will not be overcome unless the international community
pushes for change and puts forward an internationally agreed action
plan. Understanding that European security is at stake and, given
various international actors are already mingling in Moldova’s internal
affairs, it is the responsibility of the international community to
demonstrate political maturity and increase its efforts within our
outside existing frameworks. The current president Dodon has made
several rapprochement attempts with Tiraspol and is promoting his Comprehensive Package for Moldova.
Although this plan has not been discussed with other parties, it has
merit and ongoing discussions with key international backers are
promising. Many believe that the recent OSCE change of posture is also a
positive sign: for the first time in years, the head of OSCE in
Chisinau is not American but a German well acquainted with Moldova, Dr
Given the mistrust between NATO and Moscow, the window of opportunity
to solve the situation in Transnistria is narrow and will require
political fortitude to reverse the new armament race. With North Africa
and the Middle East still mired in conflict, a new frontline emerging
along the Artic-Black Sea arc and home grown terrorism in its own
backyard, Europe desperately needs security win. Today Moldova hosts
both Russian troops and a NATO office, has signed an association agreement with the EU, and holds an observation seat at the Eurasian Economic Union: Moldova is poised to act as bridge between East and West. Transnistria is the starting block for this bridge.
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Geopoliticalmonitor.com or any institutions with which the authors are associated.
Under the nose of a state that
took peace for granted, members of two lesser-known radical organizations and sons
of a millionaire spice trader conspired to carry out a mass carnage on Easter Sunday
in Sri Lanka, an attack which has now been described as a reaction to the March
2019 attacks on two churches in New Zealand by a white supremacist. These radicals
had pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State, identified suicide bombers,
assembled suicide vests, and carried out synchronised attacks in multiple
locations including churches and hotels with the intent of killing Christians.
The attacks left 253 (according to revised estimates by the Sri Lankan
authorities) people dead and a nation in shock.
Much of the focus in the
aftermath of the attacks has been on the intelligence failure and the
phenomenon of expanding radicalism. The wife of a suicide bomber, who herself
had pledged baya’ah to the Islamic
State, blew herself up, killing her unborn child and three other children, as the
police forces raided their home. While investigation in the coming days and
months may reveal some of the details of the preparations leading to the attack,
whether that will prevent the next attack by Islamist radicals, is a bigger
Available profiles of eight of
the nine suicide bombers involved in the attack reveal the usual trend that the
foot soldiers of the Islamic State have come to be associated with since 2014. Many
of them have been educated, a mix of middle-class and wealthy family members, and
are highly radicalised who either teamed up or were influenced by the
ideologues of the Islamic State to carry out mayhem. Such acts have been
perpetrated in many countries in past years, with varying degrees of ‘success’.
The ‘mastermind’ behind the
attacks in Sri Lanka, preacher Zahran Hashim, had gone into hiding in 2017,
after being accused by the police of causing violence between Muslim groups. One
of the two brothers, Inshaf Ibrahim owned Colossus Copper, a manufacturing
facility in an industrial estate in Colombo’s east. The factory, investigators
believe, was used to assemble the suicide vests used in the attack. Inshaf’s
brother Ilham had well known connections to National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), a
Sri Lankan Islamist group suspected of involvement in planning the attacks. Abdul
Lathief Jameel, who failed in his task of carrying out an explosion at Colombo’s
Taj Samudra hotel and was killed by an accidental explosion in a small guest
house, had studied in the UK and undertaken postgraduate studies in Australia
before returning to settle in Sri Lanka. Inshaf’s wife, Fatima Ibrahim, was
more than complicit, having taken her life, along with those of her children’s,
by exploding her own suicide vest, rather than surrendering.
Unlike the lone terrorist in
New Zealand, the Sri Lankan terrorists left no manifesto behind, leaving us to
rely on the claims made by the Islamic State as well as the official statements
to piece together the reason for the carnage. Several questions, however, still
remain unanswered. Would Sri Lanka have been spared had the New Zealand attack
not taken place? Do the Sri Lanka attacks underline the phenomenon of
‘expanding radicalism’ that seeks targets in countries where law-enforcement is
lax? Were the inputs provided by Indian agencies comprehensive enough for the
Sri Lankan authorities to act upon?
Sri Lanka has been on the edge
over fears that there could be more bombers who could strike at a time of their
choosing. The number of Islamic State suspects in Sri Lanka is estimated to be
130 to 140, of which approximately 76, including a Syrian national, have
already been detained. Many of them could be NTJ members or those belonging to
the Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim (JMI). Information on either the NTJ or the
JMI is sketchy. The scale and sophistication in the attacks further point
fingers at the involvement of foreign actors and hence, the spectre of a repeat
of such attacks either in Sri Lanka or in a neighbouring South Asian country
cannot be ruled out. The disintegration of its ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria
has enabled the Islamic State to expand its sphere of attacks further afield.
Notwithstanding what the
future holds, the terror attacks in Sri Lanka and New Zealand bare few
uncomfortable facts. Terrorists can thrive under the nose of a complacent
state, carry out attacks causing mass casualties, and be the cause and/or
provide inspiration for a new set of attacks elsewhere. Their ‘success’ will
not depend so much on the training that they have undergone but the level of
radicalism that they have reached and organising abilities they possess. Since
terrorism is a personal choice – bit of an aspirational pedestal to be climbed
on by the radicalised – only an alert state can hope to minimise the impact of
such attacks. Moreover, the state’s response in the aftermath of the attacks
would decidedly determine if it succeeds in uniting the society sought to be
communally fractured by the terror attacks.
Abilities to counter terror will have to be developed gradually through a comprehensive policy involving resource investment and cooperation with regional as well as global powers. It is clear that Sri Lanka’s victory over the LTTE, by means of mostly a conventional war laced with rampant human rights violations, did nothing to augment its capacities to deal with the terrorism of the Islamic State variety. A hard power approach now may further worsen the situation.
This article was published by IPCS
(RFE/RL) — The head of the U.S. Justice Department is defending his handling of the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated whether President Donald Trump and his associates colluded with Russian officials.
Attorney General William Barr was grilled by lawmakers on the Senate
Judiciary Committee on May 1, as Democrats sought to highlight
discrepancies between Barr’s characterization of Mueller’s report.
Ahead of Barr’s appearance, another congressional committee released a
letter that Mueller wrote to Barr, in which Mueller complained that
Barr’s four-page summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and
substance” of his team’s conclusions.
“There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results
of our investigation,” Mueller said in the March 27 letter released by
the House Judiciary Committee.
The letter, and Barr’s appearance, added fuel to the controversy surrounding Mueller’s report, which was released on April 18.
The report corroborated U.S. intelligence conclusions of Russian
meddling in the 2016 election, and also documented Trump’s efforts to
undermine his inquiry.
But Mueller concluded there was not sufficient evidence to prove Trump and his team committed a crime.
Before the release of the Mueller report, Barr released a four-page
summary that Democratic lawmakers say misconstrued Mueller’s report.
Barr also said Mueller had not reached a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice.
Mueller’s letter to Barr, released on May 1, appeared to contradict Barr’s summary.
“This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the
Department [of Justice] appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full
public confidence in the outcome of the investigations,” the letter
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) kicked off Wednesday morning’s highly anticipated Committee hearing with a …
“lisa page fbi” – Google News
Киев отказывается признавать и предыдущие, и «возможные будущие нормативно-правовые акты» России, касающиеся предоставления украинцам гражданства «противоправным способом», передает ТАСС.
По мнению украинской стороны, такие акты «были, есть и будут юридически ничтожными», они «не будут иметь никаких правовых последствий».
Украина требует, чтобы Россия «безотлагательно отменила» свои решения по данному вопросу.
МИД Украины собрался вручить России ноту протеста.
Hollywood actor and Saturday Night Live Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin dismissed Sen. Lindsey Graham, calling him President Donald Trump’s “fluffer” in a …
“Peter Strzok” – Google News
Nellie Ohr, the wife of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, is the subject of a criminal referral sent to the Justice Department on Wednesday. Rep.
“Get FBI out of Counterintelligence” – Google News
The imperialist neocons infesting the Trump administration, and the
orange-faced joke of a president himself, may think they can invent
their own reality through propaganda, as Bush’s “brain” Karl Rove used
to claim about the Bush/Cheney administration, but when it comes to
Latin America, they fail to realize how deeply the people of that
continent loath and resent the US and its colonial-era Monroe Doctrine.
The failure of the latest coup plotted so carefully in the war rooms
of the White House, Pentagon and CIA was pre-ordained as soon as it
became clear that Washington’s chosen puppet Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez
was nothing more than a creation of theirs, meant to do the bidding of
the plotters in DC.
By the time Guaidó appeared on a bridge in Caracas flanked by the
opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, whom defecting Venezuelan soldiers had
reportedly released from house arrest where he had been sentenced for
fomenting violence, along with a handful of troops from one unit, many
of whom, reportedly, had been tricked into showing up by their
commanding officers, and who fled when they realized they were being
asked to shoot at fellow soldiers of the Venezuelan military, Guaidó’s
attempt to create a coup by televising a staged one was already
collapsing around him.
In short order, troops and officers who had supported Guaidó began
entering foreign embassies like Brazil’s and Chile’s and Spain’s,
seeking asylum. Opposition leader Lopez, who clearly recognized the
coup had failed, left Guaido’s side quickly and, with his family, sought
asylum in the Chilean embassy, later moving with them to the nicer and
perhaps safer quarters of the Spanish embassy.
The latest charade harks back to the 2002 coup, actually a much more
serious attempt to kidnap and oust the popular elected president Hugo
Chavez. That time, while many top generals backe the coup, the enlisted
ranks backed Chavez and forced the generals to back down — but not
before the Bush/Cheney administration had already hastily recognized the
coup leaders as the new government, showing their hand as being behind
that assault on Venezuelan democracy.
This time, the generals are backing Chavez’s successor Nicolás Maduro
Moros, as are most of the military rank and file. But the script is
similar, with Washington planning the overthrow of the country’s
president and instantly throwing its support behind the puppet who
stands up and declares himself to be the new presidente. And
this time too, the people have rallied to their elected leader, massing
at the Presidential Palace as before to defend their country’s
sovereignty and democracy.
As in 2002, the US corporate media have soiled themselves trumpeting
the popularity of a coup that is actually widely loathed by the
Venezuelan people. The US media also shamelessly pedaled fake news put
out by Washington, suggesting that Russia had to prevent Maduro from
fleeing to Cuba, that the Venezuelan military was abandoning Maduro, and
that the coup was victorious. It is a shameful spectacle of corporate
propaganda at work.
How this will all play out at this point is too early to tell. Will
Guaidó end up being arrested and tried for treason for this latest move
on his part? Will he be plucked to safety and spirited away to the US by
some daring Navy Seal rescue? Will he hide out in the Brazilian or
Colombian embassy? It’s hard to say but after this disaster, his utility
to his Washington handlers is zero, so he’ll likely be on his own at
this point. If he’s lucky he won’t end up being denied asylum in the US
by the Trump Immigration Office as just another Latin American moocher,
which in his case would be a uniquely accurate characterization.
Kudos to the people of Venezuela for standing up for their sovereignty.
Maduro surely has his faults as a leader. But most of his problems
have nothing to do with personal failings or lack of that charisma and
human warmth that his mentor Chavez had in such abundance, but are the
result of both the huge decline in oil prices that have left him unable
to fund the programs that made Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution so hugely
popular among the Venezuelan masses, and of massive economic warfare
being conducted by the US government against Venezuela, including the
blocking of oil exports and the sanctioning of goods going into the
As with Cuba, long a target of American economic warfare, the people
of Venezuela know who is making their lives miserable, and that it is
the same imperial power across the Caribbean that just attempted to
steal their elected government and impose one subservient to its own
And it looks like they have once again foiled Washington’s attempt to accomplish this.
If any foreign powers come out looking good in this farce of a coup
it is Russia and Cuba, both of which stood by Venezuela despite threats
from the US.
Those two countries certainly a lot better than the 50 governments —
puppets all — that bowed to US pressure and recognized the pathetic
unelected Guaidó as the “legitimate president” of Venezuela and that now
look like fools and stooges.
Several thousands of demonstrators, most of them “yellow vest” protesters, used an annual May Day rally on Wednesday to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s policies across France.
Also in central Paris, French police fired tear gas to push back masked demonstrators.
Reuters witness said riot police used tear gas to disperse a group of
hooded and masked protesters that had converged at the front of the
traditional May Day union march in the French capital.
police had warned on Tuesday of possible May Day clashes with far-left
anarchist groups, known as Black Blocs, after calls on social media for
radicals to hit the streets, the Guardian reported.
said they expected some 2,000 Black Bloc protesters from France and
across Europe to turn up on the sidelines of the traditional May Day
union rallies. Police had already arrested 88 people on Wednesday
The “yellow vest” protests, named after motorists’
high-visibility jackets, began in November over fuel tax increases but
have evolved into a sometimes violent revolt against politicians and a
government they see as out of touch.
Many in the grassroots
movement, which lacks a leadership structure, have said Macron’s
proposals do not go far enough and most of what he announced lacks
By Hannah Brockhaus
Pope Francis Wednesday reminded those who think belief in the devil is antiquated or outdated that Satan really exists and that Jesus himself experienced his temptations and overcame them.
“So began the public life of Jesus, with the temptation that comes from Satan. Satan was present,” the pope said May 1.
“Many people say: ‘But why talk about the devil, which is an ancient
thing? The devil does not exist.’ But look at what the Gospel teaches
you,” Francis emphasized. “Jesus confronted the devil, he was tempted by
Satan. But Jesus rejects every temptation and comes out victorious.”
He advised people to remember in their own moments of temptation that “Jesus has already fought this temptation for us.”
The pope spoke about Satan during his weekly audience, where he
continued his catechesis on the Our Father with a reflection on the
line, “and lead us not into temptation.”
Pope Francis has before been critical
of the way the original line has been translated in some languages.
Last year the Italian bishops’ conference voted to change the Italian
translation of the line to “do not abandon us to temptation.”
The pope commented Wednesday that “the original Greek expression [of
this line] contained in the Gospels is difficult to render exactly, and
all modern translations are somewhat limping.”
However, it is clear, he continued, that it is not intended to mean
God is a tempter: “Christians have nothing to do with an envious God, in
competition with man, or [one] who enjoys putting him to the test,” he
Recalling that Jesus himself was tempted and underwent trials during
his life, Francis said those words of the prayer which ask God to not
leave or abandon his people in their moment of need “have already been
“God has not left us alone, but in Jesus he manifests himself as ‘God-with-us’ unto the outermost consequences,” he said.
“He is with us when he gives us life, he is with us during life, he
is with us in joy, he is with us in trials, he is with us in sadness, he
is with us in defeats, when we sin, but he is always with us, because
he is a Father and cannot abandon us.”
This, he noted, contrasts with the fallenness of humanity. For
example, when the disciples fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane
during Christ’s agony: “God asks man not to abandon him, and man instead
Pope Francis said that instead, in man’s moment of trial, God keeps watch with them.
“In the worst moments of our life, in the most suffering moments, in
the most anguishing moments, God watches with us, God fights with us.
Always close to us. Why? Because [he is] a father,” he explained.
This can be a comfort to each person in his or her “hour of trial,”
he continued. To know Jesus has already crossed the valley, that it “is
no longer desolate, but is blessed by the presence of the Son of God.”
“Thus, we began the prayer: Our Father. A father who does not abandon his children.”
“When this time [of trial] comes for us, show us, Our Father, that we
are not alone,” Francis prayed. “Show us that Christ has already taken
upon himself the weight of that cross, show us and call us to carry it
with him, trusting in the love of the Father.”
Two papers by Michigan State University (MSU) scientists begin
challenging a more simplistic, input/output view of natural resources in
favor of a way that better reflected how the world really works.
That these natural resources don’t just flow or gush down pipelines.
That sometimes energy whisks across the world stored in the
materials it produces. Sometimes water moves stored in crops it made
And sometimes people don’t see the impacts of their decisions beyond
a balance ledger. That places poor in water or energy will still accept
money to ship away that very resource they lack – often to a place that
doesn’t want for that same resource, but happy to conserve it.
In this months’ Science of the Total Environment, MSU
Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) PhD student
Zhenci Xu and his colleagues look at the virtual trade of energy and
water – together. They used China – vast in its consumption of natural
resources and its epic growth – as an example. They present this as a
new way relevant to apply to other parts of the world.
This nexus approach is able to factor trade into this exchange and was able to tease out unseen impacts.
— The results unexpectedly showed that more than 40 percent of
provinces gained one kind of resource – either water or energy – through
trade at the expense of losing the other kind of internal resource
(energy or water)
— Twenty percent of provinces suffered a double loss of both water and energy.
— Surprisingly, approximately 40 percent of transferred
water/energy was from provinces that were relatively scarce of the very
resources they were shipping out. And those precious resources were
going to provinces abundant in those natural resources, further
deepening resource inequality.
“The ways natural resources are used across the globe have profound
environmental and socioeconomic implications,” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu,
MSU Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and CSIS director. “Trading
crucial resources involves many interactions, and all must be revealed
and considered if we are to make important decisions that advance
The group employs the integrated framework of metacoupling, which
holistically examines environmental and socioeconomic interactions
within and across borders, to fully understand the trading of natural
The methodology was employed in the March journal Applied Energy.
MSU researchers again led by Xu and Liu examine China’s flow of virtual
energy – the energy used to produce goods and products in one place that
are shipped away. What found that virtual energy flowed from
less-populated, energy-scarce areas in China’s western regions to
booming cities in the energy-abundant east.
In fact, the virtual energy transferred west to east was much
greater than the physical energy that moves through China’s massive
infrastructure. Read the full story, about Shift in a National Virtual
“Our work is showing that the virtual water/energy trade may be
motivated more by the demand side than by the supply side. And revealing
that more demand-side policies should be developed to reduce resource
consumption and environmental burden,” Xu said. “It is important to seek
environmental balance as well as economic gain.”
Также Кастро был вручен почетный нагрудный знак обладателя премии, передает РИА «Новости».
Премию Кастро присудили за «выдающийся вклад в практику социалистического строительства… и последовательную позицию в деле укрепления российско-кубинской дружбы».
Бывший кубинский лидер заявил, что премия демонстрирует «исторические связи между народами» двух стран. По его словам, эти связи сохранялись «при различных обстоятельствах», они «укрепляются и обновляются».
Ленинская премия ЦК КПРФ учреждена в 2017 году вместо Ленинской премии, существовавшей в СССР.
Напомним, Рауль Кастро руководил Кубой с 2008 года, после того как этот пост из-за болезни покинул его брат Фидель Кастро. В апреле 2018 года Рауль Кастро и сам покинул пост главы Кубы, но остался во главе кубинской компартии.
by Mike Billington. [Print version of this article]. RDCY. Wang Wen, Executive Dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies. April 28—It is shocking, but …
“FBI and Counterintelligence” – Google News