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War on Gaza: Hillary Clinton says Netanyahu ‘absolutely needs to go’

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Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should go” over his handling of the war in Gaza. 

The former presidential candidate and first lady, speaking during an interview on MSNBC’s Alex Wagner Tonight, blamed Netanyahu for the oversights that led to the Hamas-led attack on 7 October.

“Netanyahu should go. He is not a trustworthy leader. It was on his watch that the attack happened,” Clinton said on Wednesday, referring to the assault on military bases and civilian communities in southern Israel, which killed around 1,140 people. 

“He needs to go, and if he’s an obstacle to a ceasefire, if he’s an obstacle to exploring what’s to be done the day after, he absolutely needs to go,” she added. 

More than 27,708 Palestinians have been killed and over 67,000 wounded by Israel’s subsequent bombardment in Gaza. 

Asked about the ongoing war, Clinton laid blame on Hamas, and defended Israel’s actions. 

“We wish there was a ceasefire. If Hamas would agree to a ceasefire, there would be a ceasefire,” Clinton said, on the same day that Netanyahu rejected a wide-ranging ceasefire proposal put forward by Hamas.  

“Look what Russia has done to Ukraine, destroying hospitals, schools, levelling whole cities, kidnapping children. It’s horrible. When you’re the aggressor, as Hamas was on 7 October, or as Russia was in February 2022, what do you do with an aggressor? You have to stop them,” the former secretary of state added. 

She said Hamas was “not doing anything to protect Palestinians” being killed by Israel’s military campaign. 

Netanyahu rejects Hamas deal 

Earlier on Wednesday, several news outlets, including Middle East Eye, said they had seen Hamas’s proposed three-stage ceasefire plan.

According to the draft document, all Israeli women, children under 19, the elderly and sick would be released from Gaza during the first 45-day phase in exchange for the release of all Palestinian female, children, sick and elderly prisoners over 50 years old from Israeli jails. 

In addition, Israel would release 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, including 500 with life sentences. 

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The first stage would also see Israeli forces withdraw from populated areas of Gaza, allowing freedom of movements for Palestinians across the Gaza Strip, including the return of displaced people from south to north. Additionally, the United Nations would be permitted to set up tent encampments.

This phase would also see the cessation of all forms of air activity over Gaza, including reconnaissance, for the duration of the period.

The proposal called for “a temporary cessation of military operations, a cessation of aerial reconnaissance, and a repositioning of Israeli forces far outside the populated areas in the entire Gaza Strip”. 

During the second phase, all Israeli male hostages, including soldiers, would be released in exchange for a number of Palestinian prisoners to be determined at a later time. 

And in the third phase, the remains of those captives who have died would be exchanged. By the end of the third phase, Hamas would expect the sides to have reached an agreement on an end to the war.

Netanyahu rejected the deal later on Wednesday, and said Israel would continue its military campaign until it had secured “total victory”.


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Mayor Adams unveils more on Chinatown arch, but questions remain for similar plan in Brooklyn

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Mayor Adams, along with city and state officials, unveiled more details Friday about a $56 million effort to revitalize a section of Manhattan’s Chinatown — an effort he first announced last month at his State of the City speech.

Adams said at a news conference the new city and state partnership allowed them “to really reclaim the narrative of what we always focused on: public space, public safety and making this city livable for everyone.”

“Open space means open business. It brings tourists, it brings visitors and it brings dollar bills,” the mayor said. “We want people to spend money in this community.”

The plan, which will draw from $44.3 million in city funding and $11.5 million is state cash, is aimed at redesigning Chatham-Kimlau Square to ease vehicular traffic at the busy five-point intersection, possibly closing Park Row off to cars and erecting a traditional Chinatown arch in the historic neighborhood.

IMG_0685.jpg?fit=620%2C9999px&ssl=1New York City Mayor Eric Adams launches “Chinatown Connections,” a joint city and state investment that will dramatically improve the public space in Chinatown through redesigning Park Row and Chatham/Kimlau Square in Manhattan, on Friday, February 9, 2024. (Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office)

That arch will be paid for through $2.5 million of the $11.5 million in state funding as well as through a private fundraising effort, according to city officials, who noted that the completion date for the arch will depend on private fundraising.

Creating the gateway for the neighborhood could be fraught for the mayor, though, given his past forays into such efforts.

An archway that Adams pushed for in Sunset Park during his days as Brooklyn borough president still hasn’t gotten off the ground, and Winnie Greco, the woman who led that effort and now heads up the mayor’s Asian affairs operation, is the target of an ongoing probe by the city’s Department of Investigation, a development first reported in The City news outlet. That investigation came on the heels of The City reporting that two people alleged Greco used her Adams’ administration post for personal gain.

The effort to fund a 40-foot arch in Sunset Park’s Chinatown depended, in part, on private donations — in that case to the Sino America New York Brooklyn Archway Association, a non-profit launched by Greco in 2012. From 2013 to 2018, the group raised $221,000, but most of that money has been spent — and there’s still no arch in Sunset Park.

That arch itself was initially supposed to come to the city as a gift from Beijing, and Greco said the money she was helping raise would go toward maintaining it.

IMG_0684.jpg?fit=620%2C9999px&ssl=1New York City Mayor Eric Adams launches “Chinatown Connections,” a joint city and state investment that will dramatically improve the public space in Chinatown through redesigning Park Row and Chatham/Kimlau Square in Manhattan, on Friday, February 9, 2024. (Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office)

Jennifer Sun, vice president of planning with the city’s Economic Development Corporation, appeared with the mayor Friday and said what makes the arch in Manhattan’s Chinatown different than other Chinatown arches is that it originated from a state-led process and that EDC will work closely with the Chinatown Business Improvement District to ensure donors understand what they’re contributing to.

“We are putting systems and protections in place to make sure that when individuals or organizations are donating to the gateway, they understand what they are donating for — for the design, construction and maintenance of the gateway — and that they understand that when they are making that donation, it is for that use only,” she said.

Aside from the arch, the new plans for Manhattan’s Chinatown will also include short-term improvements to “enhance the pedestrian and bicyclist experience” such as “art interventions,” new plants and additional signs. That part of the project will begin this year with a community engagement period, with the ultimate goal of making permanent improvements to Park Row.

The plan will also begin with a traffic study of Chatham-Kimlau Square with the goal of transforming it into a four-way intersection with shorter pedestrian crossings. That part of the plan is expected to be complete in 2029, city officials said.


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Ukraine Is Cloning Russia’s Lancet Kamikaze Drone – RealClearDefense

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Ukraine Is Cloning Russia’s Lancet Kamikaze Drone  RealClearDefense

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Democrats stress differences between Biden, Trump cases in special counsel report

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The big problem with Tucker Carlson’s hyped Putin interview

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Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow should have been a big win for both of them.

For Putin, it was a chance to explain his justification for the Russian invasion of Ukraine to a sympathetic voice in American conservatism, just as congressional Republicans are considering whether to approve a Ukrainian aid package. For Carlson, it was an opportunity to bolster his relevance after being fired from Fox News last year — and promote his new media venture at the same time.

But Carlson’s much-touted interview, recorded on Tuesday and released on Thursday evening, ran into a problem as soon as it began. In his attempt to justify the invasion, Putin spent a significant part of the interview focused on a tedious recounting of Russian and Ukrainian history, to the point that Carlson became irritated and two began to clash.

Carlson addressed the dispute in his introduction to the interview.

“Putin went on for a very long time, probably half an hour, about the history of Russia,” the former prime-time star explained in his preamble from a spot overlooking Moscow’s Red Square as snow fell around him. “… And honestly, we thought this was a filibustering technique and found it annoying and interrupted him several times, and he responded. He was annoyed by the interruption.”

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Putin’s lengthy version of the history between the two countries — which he’s laid out before, and has been criticized as a revisionist pretext for war by some historians — went back as far as the 9th century, namechecking the likes of “Prince Rurik” and “Prince Yaroslav the Wise” in an attempt to argue that Ukrainians are actually Russian.

But that rambling account seems unlikely to resonate with Carlson’s die-hard conservative audience in the United States.

Carlson later claimed that he understood why Putin needed to discuss so much history, but as he tried to cut in during the interview, the Russian president grew irritated.

“I asked you at the beginning, are we going to have a serious talk or a show?” Putin said at one point, speaking through a translator. “You said a serious talk. So bear with me, please.”

On Fox News, Carlson was a master of combative interviews, carefully controlling their flow with interjections and even undermining his subjects by flashing a blank look on his face or a mischievous smile. But in Moscow, Carlson was a bystander for much of his own interview, interjecting only briefly. He also didn’t ask the Russian president about a number of challenging topics, from Russian atrocities in Ukraine to Putin’s attacks on internal dissent.

The disputes between Carlson and Putin were a surprise in part because they have recently agreed on so much. Carlson has called Ukraine an undemocratic “client state” used to provoke Russia into war, words that echoed Putin so closely that an anti-Trump Republican group created a viral video in 2023 that paired Carlson’s rhetoric with Putin’s.

Still, Carlson’s disagreements with Putin about the interview itself became clear even before the interview aired. Earlier this week, in a promotional video for the interview, Carlson falsely portrayed himself as the only Western reporter who had “bothered” to interview Putin. That carried with it an insinuation, deliberate or not, that Putin isn’t important enough to interview, sparking pushback from a Putin spokesman who claimed Putin has received “many” interview requests.

Despite his fleeting clashes with Carlson, Putin still used the interview to portray Russia as a country acting in self-defense, beset by NATO and the CIA. And while most of the discussion focused on the war, Carlson also granted Putin a forum to hold forth on the grand intellectual questions of our time.

In one of the interview’s stranger questions, Carlson asked how a world leader could profess to be a Christian while ordering violence, only to see the Russian president brush the question away by praising Russia’s “moral values.” Carlson also asked Putin when he thought an “AI empire” of self-aware machines would begin.

“I think there’s no stopping Elon Musk,” Putin replied, referring to the billionaire owner of X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, who has welcomed Carlson’s show onto his platform. “He will do as he sees fit.”

In the interview’s most contentious moment, Carlson pressed Putin to release Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been detained in Russia for almost a year.

“I just want to ask you directly, without getting into the details of it or your version of what happened, if, as a sign of your decency, you would be willing to release him to us and we’ll bring him back to the United States,” Carlson said.

Putin demurred, suggesting that Gershkovich could only be released as part of a prisoner exchange.

There was a sense even among some of Carlson’s allies that the interview had failed to reach its full promise. On X, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn — who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying about his own contacts with the Russian government — said viewers should understand that Carlson was probably subjected to negotiated terms about the interview.

“I’m certain there will be a lot of Monday morning quarter backing,” Flynn wrote.


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What did Vladimir Putin say to Tucker Carlson? Five key takeaways

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On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin spent two hours being quizzed by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson in a highly anticipated TV interview.

The interview took place just ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and at a time when United States politicians are pushing to restore military funding to Ukraine.

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Here are the five key takeaways:

Putin claims Clinton flip-flopped on Russia joining NATO

Putin revealed that, at some point, former US President Bill Clinton told him that Russia would have an opportunity to be welcomed into the military alliance, NATO.

“At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him: ‘Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?’ Suddenly he said, ‘You know, it’s interesting. I think so,’” said Putin who was speaking through an interpreter.

“But in the evening, when we met for dinner, he said: ‘You know, I’ve talked to my team, no, no, it’s not possible now.’ You can ask him. I think he will watch our interview, he’ll confirm it,” the Russian president said.

“I wouldn’t have said anything like that if it hadn’t happened. Okay, well, it’s impossible now,” he added.

“Would you have joined NATO?” Carlson asked. “Look, I asked the question, is it possible, or not, and the answer I got was no,” Putin said.

“But if he had said yes, would you have joined NATO?” Carlson said.

“If he had said yes, the process of rapprochement would have commenced, and eventually it might have happened if we had seen some sincere wish on the other side of our partners. But it didn’t happen. Well, no means no. Okay, fine,” Putin said.

Putin also highlighted that they were promised that NATO would not expand to the East. “Not an inch to the East … and then what? They said, ‘Well, it’s not enshrined on paper, so we’ll expand.’”

“There were five waves of expansion. We tolerated all that. We were trying to persuade them. We were saying, ‘Please don’t. We are as bourgeois now as you are. We are a market economy, and there is no Communist Party power. Let’s negotiate’,” Putin added.

U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) confer during a ceremony to sign agreements on the establishment of a joint warning center for the exchange of information on missile launchesFormer US President Bill Clinton (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin confer during a ceremony to sign agreements on the establishment of a joint warning centre for the exchange of information on missile launches [File: Reuters]

Putin says Russia is open to releasing WSJ journalist

Putin said that it might be possible to free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is awaiting trial on spying charges, in exchange for a Russian prisoner.

The Russian president suggested that, in return, Moscow wanted Germany to free Vadim Krasikov, who was convicted of the 2019 murder of a Chechen dissident in Berlin.

Gershkovich was arrested on March 29, 2023 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg and accused of trying to obtain defence secrets. He and his newspaper strongly reject the charges and the US government has designated him as wrongfully detained.

“We are willing to solve it but there are certain terms being discussed via special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached,” said Putin, stressing that Western powers will have to take what he called “reciprocal steps”.

“There have been many successful examples of these talks crowned with success. Probably this is going to be crowned with success as well but we have to come to an agreement,” said Putin.

Russia and the US have agreed high-profile prisoner swaps in the past – most recently in December 2022 when Moscow traded Brittney Griner, a US basketball star convicted of a drugs offence in Russia, for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was detained in March while on a reporting trip and charged with espionage, stands behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendantsWall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained in March while on a reporting trip and charged with espionage [File: Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]

Putin called any US military support of Ukraine a ‘provocation’

Carlson asked Putin: “Can you imagine a scenario where Russia is ready to send troops to Poland?”

“Only in one case if Poland attacks Russia, why? Because we have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else,” Putin said.

US politicians have said we “have to continue to fund the Ukrainian effort, or US soldier citizens could wind up fighting there. How do you assess that?” Carlson asked. That argument is based on the fact that Poland and the Baltic states are NATO members, and the alliance’s principle of collective security would kick in if any if them were attacked, necessitating US forces to intervene directly.

“This is a provocation. I do not understand why American soldiers should fight in Ukraine,” Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with U.S. television host Tucker CarlsonRussian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with US television host Tucker Carlson in Moscow  [Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik, via Reuters]

“Well, if somebody has the desire to send regular troops, that would certainly bring humanity to the brink of a very serious global conflict. This is obvious,” Putin added.

“Do the United States need this? What for? Thousands of miles away from your national territory. Don’t you have anything better to do? You’ve issues on the border, issues with migration, issues with the national debt… you have nothing better to do, so you should fight in Ukraine?

“Wouldn’t it be better to negotiate with Russia? Make an agreement. Already understanding the situation that is developing today, realising that Russia will fight for its interests to the end.”

Putin also said a solution would be possible if the US stopped supplying weapons.

“If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons. It will be over within a few weeks, that’s it, and then we can agree on some terms. Before you do that, stop,” Putin said.

‘Who blew up Nord Stream?’ Putin suggests it was the CIA

Putin also blamed the CIA for the explosions of the Nord Stream pipelines, cutting off a major route for Russian gas exports to Europe and fuelling geopolitical tensions.

“Who blew up Nord Stream?” Carlson asked. Putin replied: “You, for sure.”

Carlson jokingly responded, “I was busy that day”. Putin said, “You personally might have an alibi, but the CIA has not such alibi”.

“Do you have evidence that NATO or the CIA did it,” Carlson said. The Russian president responded he “won’t get into details” but you should “look for someone who is interested” and who “has capabilities”.

Many people might be interested but not all “of them are capable of sinking to the bottom of the Baltic Sea and carrying out this explosion”, Putin said.

Nord streamA gas leak from Nord Stream 1 is seen in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken from the Swedish Coast Guard aircraft on September 28, 2022 [Reuters]

Advances in AI and genetics are a threat, Putin said

Putin said the world is changing faster than “during the collapse of the Roman Empire”.

He also said: “Mankind is currently facing many threats due to the genetic researchers – it is now possible to create this superhuman. A specialised human being. A genetically engineered athlete, scientist, military man. There are reports that Elon Musk has already had the chip implanted in the human brain in the US.”

“What do you think of that?” Carlson asked

“I think there’s no stopping Elon Musk. He will do as he sees fit,” Putin said.

“Nevertheless, you need to find some common ground with him, search for ways to persuade him,” Putin explained.

He said that humanity needed to think about what to do about the advances in genetics and artificial intelligence and suggested the nuclear arms control treaties of the Cold War could be a guide.

“When there arises an understanding that the boundless and uncontrolled development of artificial intelligence or genetics or some other modern trends, cannot be stopped, that these researches will still exist just as it was impossible to hide gunpowder from humanity… when humanity feels a threat to itself, to humanity as a whole, then, it seems to me, there will come a period to negotiate at the interstate level on how we will regulate this,” Putin added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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