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Chinese Military Exercise Disrupted By U.S. China Responds Firing Missiles

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China has fired two medium-range “ship killer” projectiles into the South China Sea as a warning after the U.S. disrupted Beijing’s military drills with a U-2 spy plane.

According to SCMP, a source close to the China military has claimed it serves as a warning shot to the U.S. One of the missiles, a DF-26B, was launched from the northwestern province of Qinghai.

The other, a DF-21D, was launched from Zhejiang province in the east.

They were both fired into the area southeast of Hainan province and the Paracel islands, according to the source.  It’s unknown if the U.S. had carriers in the region at the time that China fired its warning missiles. However, the last military exercise was in early July.

The source told SCMP: “This is China’s response to the potential risks brought by the increasingly frequent incoming US warplanes and military vessels in the South China Sea.” The source added, “China doesn’t want the neighboring countries to misunderstand Beijing’s goals.”

Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator, added: “The US continues to test China’s bottom line in Taiwan and South China Sea issues, and this pushed China to showcase its military strength to let Washington know that even US aircraft carriers cannot flex their full muscle near China’s coast.”

The Dailymail reported that a statement was issued late Tuesday, by the Ministry of National Defense that said the action had “seriously interfered in normal exercise activities’ and ‘severely incurred the risk of misjudgment and even of bringing about an unintended air-sea incident.”

‘This was a naked act of provocation,'” the ministry said, quoting spokesperson Wu Qian. China has lodged a stern protest and demanded the U.S. cease such actions, Wu said.

This comes a day after China said a U.S. U-2 spy plane entered a no-fly zone without permission during a Chinese live-fire naval drill, the report adds. This also comes after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) posted a video on social media showing Hong Kong air defense drills as Anewspost reported.

A military analyst told Hong Kong’s leading dissident newspaper, Apple Daily, that the bizarre 48-second video the PLA posted was meant as a warning to the United States against interfering with China’s oppression of Hong Kong. Now, there has been a second warning a firing of live missiles.

The PLA has been increasing the number of military drills across East Asia as relations with the U.S continue to deteriorate. This comes after two American aircraft carriers held an unusual exercise in the South China Sea in July. As well as after a mysterious visit to Taiwan by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Upon Azar’s visit to Taiwan, Chinese state media angrily threatened to retaliate by holding live-fire missile drills near Taiwan and Guam, where the U.S. has a major airbase in the region. The editorial that made this threat was re-posted on the PLA’s English-language news website which is another sign that China is directing its rhetoric directly at Americans and wants the U.S. to see its warnings.

China claims Taiwan is its territory and threatens to use military force to bring under its control the island that is a self-governing democracy and close U.S. ally, CBS reported.

A top Republican lawmaker Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) who sits on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation recently predicted that an armed war with China was imminent.

“I would predict there will be a clash within the next three to six months,” Yoho told the Washington Examiner.

The Florida Republican predicted that armed conflict will be triggered by a Chinese naval attack against the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which often commands a strong presence in the South China Sea, as Anewspost reported.

Knowing China, I think what they would do is ram one of our ships and say it was a mistake,  Yoho told the Examiner.

To sink a carrier would be a huge mistake, to attack any of our ships would be a huge mistake, but I think they’re willing to risk that to test the waters, he explained. “And unfortunately, people will die. It would just be a mistake if they did that, for them.

Last year, Senior Chinese military official Dai Xu (戴旭), threatened  U.S. Navy vessels in the South China Sea, recommending that China should attack the ships. This was after the U.S. sent a Navy destroyer the USS McCampbell into the contested Chinese waters, near the disputed islands in the South China Sea during ongoing trade talks in what China called a “provocation,” Reuters reported.

Xu recommended aggressive action against the U.S. if it “breaks into Chinese waters again” stating the following: “If the U.S. warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it… In our territorial waters, we won’t allow US warships to create a disturbance,” Taiwan News reported.

Last year, China’s President Xi Jinping ordered the Chinese armed forces People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to enhance their combat readiness to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests after the U.S. had issued a travel warning to China stating Americans were at risk to arbitrary and indefinite detention.

The world is facing a period of major changes never seen in a century, and China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development,  Xi said, to the Central Military Commission (CMC) warning that various risks and challenges were on the rise.  The entire armed forces should have a correct understanding of China’s security and development trends, enhance their awareness of danger, crisis and war, and make solid efforts on combat preparations in order to accomplish the tasks assigned by the Party and the people,” Xi added according to a press release.

Relations with China have begun to deteriorate in recent years. Those ties have rapidly diminished due to President Donald Trump’s trade war with Beijing as well as the recent pandemic which the sitting President has blamed on China. If that’s not enough, FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed earlier this year that China has stepped up its espionage efforts against the U.S., forcing the FBI to open a new China-related counterintelligence investigation every 10 hours.

The FBI has also previously discussed several suspicious encounters where Chinese nationals were trying to smuggle viruses out of the U.S, Yahoo News reported.

According to one document, an unknown Chinese man was caught transporting biological vials of MERS and SARS labeled “antibodies” after being stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro airport.

This doesn’t include the case in January, where the head of Harvard University’s chemistry department, Charles Lieber, was federally charged with failing to disclose funding from the Chinese government, after he hid his involvement in China’s “Thousand Talents Program,” along with Chinese nationals.

The FBI’s report also specifically uses the words, “biosecurity risk” when describing China, which is typically used to refer to the intentional misuse of pathogens, such as for bioterrorism and biosafety, which covers accidental release according to the World Health Organization.

Several national security experts have said China is waging a “cold war” against the U.S., however, Yoho thinks a pending attack is coming and it will be anything but “cold.”

Beijing’s state media has previously warned any attempt to prevent China from accessing its interests in the region of the South China Sea could risk sparking a “large-scale war.”

The trumpets of war seem to be sounding with the two countries getting closer and closer to conflict. Right now no one has been injured or killed, but the moment that happens full-scale war could break-out overnight. And that’s not fear-mongering it’s reporting truthfully on the current geopolitical situation between the U.S. and China, a slippery slope that just seems to be getting slippier by the day.

Alex Baldridge is an activist and freelance journalist from the midwestern United States who was inspired to become a writer after watching the development of the Wikileaks story and the persecution of Julian Assange. Alex is especially interested in topics like surveillance, the rise of automation, foreign policy, prison reform, and the legal system.

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Colombian Govt Wants To Legalize Cocaine And Then Sell It

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This article was originally published On Dec 3, 2020

Colombia is one of the most notorious producers of cocaine in the world, despite the fact that the country has gone to great lengths in hopes of diminishing the trade of the drug trade within its borders.

Now, some members of the Columbian government are proposing a new approach. They are calling for the drug to be legalized and for the government to take control of the industry for themselves.

In a new bill first proposed earlier this year, senators Iván Marulanda and Feliciano Valencia call for the Colombian government to take total control of the cocaine industry to bolster public funds and cut violent cartels out of the trade.

In a recent interview with VICE, Marulanda explained that the government would purchase coca at market price from the 200,000 farming families that are believed to be involved in the trade.

The senators argued that it would actually be cheaper for authorities to buy the crop from the farmers than it would for them to destroy their crops. It costs the government roughly $1 billion every year to destroy coca crops, while it would only cost about $680 million to buy it.

The thing is, we have to recover control over the state. We’re losing control of the state to corruption, narcos in politics. They’re in municipalities, in departments and in congress. All the way to the highest echelons of government,” Marulanda explained.

From here, the state would supply cocaine to users and research groups looking to study its use for painkillers, but it would not be sold recreationally. However, cocaine use is already legal in Columbia, after a court ruled that personal consumption was a human right.

Marulanda is not sure if his bill will make an impact, or how long it will take to gain traction, but he is hoping to make it a major election issue in 2022.

‘The first big obstacle is to open up the conversation among public opinion. This has been a giant taboo. Colombians are born and raised under this assumption that drug-trafficking is a war. There’s no information about coca and cocaine. So, with this bill we hope to open the conversation,” he explained.

In recent years, the government has stepped up their military-police-style enforcement of the industry, and yet cocaine production continues to grow in the country.

Coca cultivation reached 212,000 hectares last year, a rise of nearly 2% from 208,000 hectares the year before, according to figures released by the White House in March. Potential pure cocaine production, meanwhile, rose to 951 metric tons, an 8% increase, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s pretty remarkable that they manually eradicated 100,000 hectares last year and didn’t move the needle,” Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America think tank said earlier this year. “I guess it means replanting has at least kept pace.”

It seems that no matter what the government does, the cocaine keeps on coming, so politicians are willing to try things that may drastic. However, as Marulanda pointed out in his interview with Vice, cutting out the criminal middlemen will reduce the violence seen in the country’s drug war, and also make the drug safer for the people who use it.

UPDATE: Historic win for coca/cocaine regulation Bill in Colombian Senate – 22nd April 2021

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Another Little Black Book That Once Belonged To Epstein With New Names Is Found

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It is well-known that the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein kept detailed records of all the powerful people that he stayed in contact with. There is a notorious “little black book” that was published by Gawker in 2015, which exposed many of the powerful people in his circle. This book is believed to contain the contacts that he most frequently called around 2004 and 2005. However, a new list of contacts, recently published by The Insider, reveals new names that were friends with Epstein in the 1990s.

The new black book has the names of 349 people, many of whom did not appear in the list that was previously released to the public.

Among the names on the list are Suzanne Ircha, who’s married to Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, famous wall street investor Carl Icahn, supermarket owner John A. Catsimatidis, actress Morgan Fairchild, former New Republic owner Marty Peretz; and Cristina Greeven, the wife of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

The new black book was made public through a strange twist of fate. A woman initially found the book in the late 1990s and saved it for many years until she finally sold it on eBay.

Denise Ondayko, the woman who found the book, said she was walking down Fifth Avenue in the mid-’90s when she spotted a black address book on the ground. She said that she didn’t realize it was Epstein’s book at the time, because he was pretty much unknown to the public, but she did realize that it had a lot of famous names and figured that it might be worth something, so she held onto it.

Last year, Ondayko was cleaning out an old storage unit where she was keeping some of her things and she stumbled upon the book. Now that Epstein was all over the news, the information contained in the book was much more obvious to identify.

Ondayko said she reached out to everyone in the media that she could, including John Oliver, Rachel Maddow, and The New York Times, but none of them ever got back to her, so she eventually just put it up for sale on eBay.

The buyer was Chris Helali, an aspiring politician from Vermont. He purchased the book for $425.

Helali also tried reaching out to the media, including journalists that were already reporting on Epstein, but none of them seemed interested. Finally, Nick Bryant, the reporter who wrote the original Gawker black book story forwarded the book to the Insider who decided to publish.

Insider hired Dennis Ryan, a former forensic document examiner and laboratory supervisor for the Nassau County Police Department, to verify the authenticity of the book. Ryan says that the book is definitely from the late 90s, and many of the dates and addresses match up perfectly with Epstein’s properties and known contacts at the time.

The Insider also reached out to dozens of contacts listed in the book who had never previously been publicly associated with Epstein. Fourteen acknowledged on the record that they knew or had met Epstein in the ’90s.

There are over 120 names that appear in both books, including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. Some of the other names included, Steve Rattner, Beth Anne Bovino, Dominique Bluhdorn, Jill Harth, Ted Field, Robert Nunnery, Stanley Shopkorn, Steve Ruchevsky, Ellen Susman, William and Ann Nitze, Les Gelb, Ron Daniel, Sandy Warner, Cyril Fung, Marius Fortelni, Michael Cutlip. Many of these names aren’t necessarily famous, but they are very powerful people in business and finance.

The address book is now available in a searchable database on the Insider, but it is unfortunately hidden behind a paywall.

 

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Ghislaine Maxwell’s Lawyers Cite Cosby Case As Precedent To Have Her Released From Prison

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Last week, former actor Bill Cosby was released from prison on a technicality, despite the fact that he admitted to drugging and assaulting multiple women, and was accused by many others. After his release, legal experts warned that the ruling could set a dangerous precedent that attorneys in similar cases would use to get their clients released as well.

Now, just a week later, Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are arguing that she should have her case thrown out on the same grounds, according to The Guardian.

Cosby was released because the prosecutor involved initially didn’t press any charges, and claimed that Cosby would not be facing any legal trouble, so when Cosby later confessed, his confession was called into question and no longer admissible in court. The judge also ruled that Cosby had no chance of a fair trial because evidence that was not admissible was so freely available in the media that the jury was unable to make a judgment without considering those facts.

Photo: AP

Maxwell’s case is similar because the first time that Epstein was arrested for human trafficking, he was given a sweetheart deal by Alex Acosta, a friendly prosecutor. The deal helped Epstein avoid any serious jail time, but it also gave him and his associates legal protection from being held accountable for any future crimes.

Obviously, it is not possible to shield a criminal from the consequences of actions that they will take in the future, so Epstein was arrested again many years later after it was discovered that he continued his crimes long after his initial arrest. If Epstein and his friends did have any kind of immunity from that deal, it ended when they continued to commit crimes after the deal was made.

Still, Maxwell’s lawyers are optimistic after Cosby’s recent release.

“The government is trying to renege on its agreement and prosecute Ms Maxwell over 25 years later for the exact same offenses for which she was granted immunity,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote in a statement to Judge Alison Nathan.

However, the judge has previously ruled that the deal did not apply to the current case.

In an opinion piece for the New York Daily News, Maxwell’s attorney David Oscar Markus wrote that releasing Bill Cosby from prison was the right decision, and that Ghislaine Maxwell should be released as well. Markus argued that prosecutors should have to keep the promises that they make to suspects, because people will sometimes incriminate themselves if they think they have immunity.

However, many times prosecutors are corrupt and make promises that are against the best interests of the public, as we saw in Jeffrey Epstein’s first “sweetheart deal” with Alex Acosta while he was district attorney in Southern, Florida. Prosecutors are lawyers, they aren’t the judge and jury, and they shouldn’t hold this much power in a case this serious.

Judge Alison Nathan has not yet responded to the recent request, but she did condemn the recent opinion piece that was published by her lawyers in the New York Daily News earlier this week.

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