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India Orders Military To Prepare For War If Chinese Escalate Situation

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India told its armed forces on Monday to prepare for war in the wake of escalating conflict with China along the Line Of Actual Control (LAC), which is the long-disputed border between India and China. In addition, the India Navy has also been given orders to deploy its assets near the Malacca Strait, and, if needed, anywhere else in the Indo-Pacific to counter the Chinese, the India Economic Times reported.

This follows a bloody conflict between the two Asian powers for the first time in 40 years with the killing of dozens of troops from India and China along the contested border of both countries in the Himalayas. The situation spurred after a failed diplomatic meeting in Galwan River valley, in the Himalayas region of Ladakh.

Economic Times further reports that not only has India’s Navy been ordered to prepare for the worst but its “Air Force assets, including fighters, too have been moved up to forward locations.”

The Times of India corroborated the Economic Times claims, stating that Indian forces are currently in a “warlike alert.”  In addition, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is also seeking a go-ahead to purchase 33 fighter aircrafts from Russia, according to reports. These will include 12 Sukhoi 30 MKI and 21 Mig-19 fighter jets.

Both countries counterparts Wang Yi and Indian diplomat Subrahmanyam Jaishankar recently discussed the situation via a phone call with both coming to an agreement that the conflict needs to “cool down,” Al-Jazeera reports.

While things have thus far calmed down according to China, India is still on alert for potential war responses in case of the worst case scenario. Hindustan Times also reports that China although the country has said it doesn’t want war, has begun cyberattacks against Indian infrastructure including government information websites and financial services like ATMs.

China stated the overall situation was “stable and controllable,” between the two nations on Thursday through its Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

“We believe that guided by the important consensus reached between the two leaders, China and India can properly deal with the current situation, jointly uphold peace and stability in the border areas, and ensure a sound and steady development of bilateral relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing.

Lijian added in the press release that the two sides are in close communication aiming to solve the problems via diplomatic and military channels without any more conflict, the spokesperson told reporters.

“As the world’s two largest developing countries and emerging economies, China and India have far more common interests than differences. The two sides should follow the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and ensure that China-India relations move in the right direction in line with the interests and expectations of both nations,” said Zhao.

However, China’s spokesperson still blamed India for the dispute stating:

“The whole thing happened because India’s frontline troops, in violation of the agreement reached at the Commander-level meeting, once again crossed the Line of Actual Control for deliberate provocation, and even violently attacked the Chinese officers and soldiers who went to the terrain for negotiation, thus triggering fierce physical conflicts and causing casualties,” Zhao said.

According to Hindustan Times, Indian and Chinese gathered in the Himalayas, led by major generals, met on Thursday near Patrol Point 14 in Galwan Valley as part of military commitments to de-escalate tensions on the disputed border. This was the seventh meeting between Major General Abhijit Bapat, commander of Karu-based headquarters 3 Infantry Division, and his Chinese counterpart since the stand-off began in early May, and the third after Monday night’s clash that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

The Guardian reports that China also released 10 Indian soldiers they had captured as hostages after an agreement on the release was reached at major general-level talks between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army. China also used its state-backed mouthpiece, the ‘Global Times’, to threaten India of military pressure from China, Pakistan, and even Nepal on Wednesday if the border tensions escalated.

The Global Times a Chinese state-run media outlet, quoted an individual at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Hu Zhiyong in its one-sided and biased editorial stating, “India has engaged in border disputes with China, Pakistan and Nepal at the same time. As Pakistan is a reliable strategic partner of China, and Nepal also has close ties with China, and both of them are key partners under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, if India escalates border tensions, it could face military pressure from two or even three fronts, which is far beyond India’s military capability and this might lead to a disastrous defeat for India.”

Last Sunday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army carried out military drills in high altitude conditions with tanks prior to the disturbance with India on Monday, The Diplomat reported.

NATO has responded with U.S. representative Kay Bailey Hutchison pronouncing China is being watched by the West due to its growing hostility with its neighbors like Japan and India and other territories like Taiwan. Hutchison insisted that “It’s much more on our radar screen, and I think it should be because we should assess the risk, hope for the best but prepare for the worst,”

Hutchison remarked that “So we know that China has the capability to compete on a level playing field, and we’re asking them to do that, but we’re also turning a wary eye to their behavior right now in the South China Sea, militarizing islands that they said would never be done, as well as the clampdown on Hong Kong.”

When the representative was asked if an actual military encounter was on the horizon, she replied, “I think NATO is now looking to the East.”

A spokesperson for U.S. President Donald Trump has said he has “no formal plans” to interfere between India and China.

“There are no formal plans,” White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters but said Trump is “aware” and monitoring the tumultuous situation.

Indian media reported a total of 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the brawl earlier this week, citing the toll from a military specialist, while the casualties of the Chinese side remain unknown. U.S. intelligence sources have, however, speculated that at least 35 soldiers were killed from China during the hand to hand combat dispute which saw both sides using iron rods, rocks and studded clubs.

Meanwhile, with the conflict between China and India potentially ending, another escalation has since happened with Pakistan. When this was going to press, Pakistan accused India of “unprovoked” shelling fire in the disputed Kashmir region. Which resulted in the deaths of four civilians, the country added.

Although, there is still a heated exchange of words between the two nations blaming each other. India accused Chinese troops of deliberately preparing the attack on its soldiers claiming they erected a tent on the Indian side, dammed a river, brought in machinery and then brutally beat their soldiers. China has counted back claiming sovereignty over the Galwan valley in Ladakh, and has accused Indian troops of three times crossing into its territory. “The responsibility entirely lies with Indian side,” said Lijian, on Friday.

Indias Army also released new rules of engagement with China on the LAC, “In future, if they carry clubs, so will our soldiers. If they use rocks, so will we. Rules need to be followed equally by both sides,” an India military source told India Today.

For a timeline and detailed updates of a summary of events from the Indian side of the conflict with China see the Indian Economic Times here.

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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