Audio Posts in English Covid-19 Pandemic Featured Audio Posts in English World

10:27 AM 1/29/2021 – The original Sars-Cov-2 may also “be occurring independently in many parts of the world. The fact that most Covid-19 hotspots are community based confirms this thesis. – M.N.

Share The News

“The same mutation may be occurring independently in many parts of the world.” – Can it be the same or similar situation with the original, pre-mutations virus or viruses, whatever they are, presumably Sars-Cov-2? Yes, most definitely it can. It means that the original virus may also “be occurring independently in many parts of the world. The fact that most Covid-19 hotspots are community based confirms this thesis. – M.N.

Researchers Discover Coronavirus Variants Likely Originating in America

The same mutation may be occurring independently in many parts of the world.

by Ethen Kim Lieser

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine have announced the discovery of new variants of the novel coronavirus that likely originated here in the United States.

The new variants carry a mutation identical to the strain first seen in the United Kingdom, but they likely arose in a virus strain already present in the country, according to the study’s findings that are currently under review for publication in BioRxiv as a pre-print.

The university noted that it has been sequencing the genome of SARS-CoV-2 viruses in coronavirus-positive patients since March 2020 in order to monitor the evolution of the contagion.

One of the new variants has been identified in only one patient from Ohio, so the researchers admitted that they do not yet know the prevalence of the strain in the general population. In contrast, the evolving strain with the three new mutations has become the dominant virus in the city of Columbus.

“This new Columbus strain has the same genetic backbone as earlier cases we’ve studied, but these three mutations represent a significant evolution,” the study’s leader Dr. Dan Jones, the vice-chairman of the division of molecular pathology, said in a news release.

“We know this shift didn’t come from the UK or South African branches of the virus.”

The researchers added that the mutations affect the spikes that stud the surface of SARS-CoV-2. These spikes are what enable the virus to attach to and eventually enter human cells.

Like the UK strain, the mutations appear to make the virus more contagious but do not seem more deadly or diminish the effectiveness of vaccines that already have received regulatory approval, the researchers said.

“The big question is whether these mutations will render vaccines and current therapeutic approaches less effective. At this point, we have no data to believe that these mutations will have any impact on the effectiveness of vaccines now in use,” the study’s co-author Peter Mohler, chief scientific officer at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and vice dean for research at the College of Medicine, said in a statement.

“It’s important that we don’t overreact to this new variant until we obtain additional data. We need to understand the impact of mutations on transmission of the virus, the prevalence of the strain in the population, and whether it has a more significant impact on human health. Further, it is critical that we continue to monitor the evolution of the virus so we can understand the impact of the mutant forms on the design of both diagnostics and therapeutics. It is critical that we make decisions based on the best science.”

Along with the discovery of the Columbus variant, the researchers now believe that the same mutation may be occurring independently in many parts of the world.

Early Esophageal Cancer Symptoms Are Not What You’d Expect
Early Esophageal Cancer Symptoms Are Not What You’d Expect
Esophageal Cancer | Search Ads
“Viruses naturally mutate and evolve over time, but the changes seen in the last two months have been more prominent than in the first months of the pandemic,” Jones said.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Share The News
Audio Posts in English FBI News Review Security Shared Links - Audio Posts Trump Investigations World

Capitol assault a more sinister attack than first appeared

Share The News

shared this story

WASHINGTONUnder battle flags bearing Donald Trump’s name, the Capitol’s attackers pinned a bloodied police officer in a doorway, his twisted face and screams captured on video. They mortally wounded another officer with a blunt weapon and body-slammed a third over a railing into the crowd.

“Hang Mike Pence!” the insurrectionists chanted as they pressed inside, beating police with pipes. They demanded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts, too. They hunted any and all lawmakers: “Where are they?” Outside, makeshift gallows stood, complete with sturdy wooden steps and the noose. Guns and pipe bombs had been stashed in the vicinity.

Only days later is the extent of the danger from one of the darkest episodes in American democracy coming into focus. The sinister nature of the assault has become evident, betraying the crowd as a force determined to occupy the inner sanctums of Congress and run down leaders — Trump’s vice president and the Democratic House speaker among them.

This was not just a collection of Trump supporters with MAGA bling caught up in a wave.

That revelation came in real time to Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who briefly took over proceedings in the House chamber as the mob closed in Wednesday and the speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, was spirited to safer quarters moments before everything went haywire.

“I saw this crowd of people banging on that glass screaming,” McGovern told The Associated Press on Sunday. “Looking at their faces, it occurred to me, these aren’t protesters. These are people who want to do harm.”

“What I saw in front of me,” he said, “was basically home-grown fascism, out of control.”

Pelosi said Sunday “the evidence is that it was a well-planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction. And the direction was to go get people.” She did not elaborate on that point in a ”60 Minutes” interview on CBS.

The scenes of rage, violence and agony are so vast that the whole of it may still be beyond comprehension. But with countless smartphone videos emerging from the scene, much of it from gloating insurrectionists themselves, and more lawmakers recounting the chaos that was around them, contours of the uprising are increasingly coming into relief.



The mob got explicit marching orders from Trump and still more encouragement from the president’s men.

“Fight like hell,” Trump exhorted his partisans at the staging rally. “Let’s have trial by combat,” implored his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whose attempt to throw out election results in trial by courtroom failed. It’s time to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama.

Criminals pardoned by Trump, among them Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, came forward at rallies on the eve of the attack to tell the crowds they were fighting a battle between good and evil and they were on the side of good. On Capitol Hill, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri gave a clenched-fist salute to the hordes outside the Capitol as he pulled up to press his challenge of the election results.

The crowd was pumped. Until a little after 2 p.m., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was at the helm for the final minutes of decorum in partnership with Pence, who was serving his ceremonial role presiding over the process.

Both men had backed Trump’s agenda and excused or ignored his provocations for four years, but now had no mechanism or will to subvert the election won by Biden. That placed them high among the insurrectionists’ targets, no different in the minds of the mob than the “socialists.”

“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell told his chamber, not long before things spiraled out of control in what lawmakers call the “People’s House.”



Thousands had swarmed the Capitol. They charged into police and metal barricades outside the building, shoving and hitting officers in their way. The assault quickly pushed through the vastly outnumbered police line; officers ran down one man and pummeled him.

In the melee outside, near the structure built for Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, a man threw a red fire extinguisher at the helmeted head of a police officer. Then he picked up a bullhorn and threw it at officers, too.

The identity of the officer could not immediately be confirmed. But Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was wounded in the chaos, died the next night; officials say he had been hit in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Capitol Police sent an alert telling workers in a House office building to head to underground transportation tunnels that criss-cross the complex. Minutes later, Pence was taken from the Senate chamber to a secret location and police announced the lockdown of the Capitol. “You may move throughout the building(s) but stay away from exterior windows and doors,” said the email blast. “If you are outside, seek cover.”

At 2:15 p.m., the Senate recessed its Electoral College debate and a voice was heard over the chamber’s audio system: “The protesters are in the building.” The doors of the House chamber were barricaded and lawmakers inside it were told they may need to duck under their chairs or relocate to cloakrooms off the House floor because the mob has breached the Capitol Rotunda.

Even before the mob reached sealed doors of the House chamber, Capitol Police pulled Pelosi away from the podium, she told “60 Minutes.”

“I said, ‘No, I want to be here,’”she said. “And they said, ‘Well, no, you have to leave.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not leaving.’ They said, ‘No, you must leave.’” So she did.

At 2:44 p.m., as lawmakers inside the House chamber prepared to be evacuated, a gunshot was heard from right outside, in the Speaker’s Lobby on the other side of the barricaded doors. That’s when Ashli Babbit, wearing a Trump flag like a cape, was shot to death on camera as insurrectionists railed, her blood pooling on the white marble floor.

The Air Force veteran from California had climbed through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby before a police officer’s gunshot felled her.

Back in the House chamber, a woman in the balcony was seen and heard screaming. Why she was doing that only became clear later when video circulated. She was screaming a prayer.

Within about 10 minutes of the shooting, House lawmakers and staff members who had been cowering during the onslaught, terror etched into their faces, had been taken from the chamber and gallery to a secure room. The mob broke into Pelosi’s offices while members of her staff hid in one of the rooms of her suite.

“The staff went under the table barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark,” she said. “Under the table for two and a half hours.”

On the Senate side, Capitol Police had circled the chamber and ordered all staff and reporters and any nearby senators into the chamber and locked it down. At one point about 200 people were inside; an officer armed with what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon stood between McConnell and the Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Authorities then ordered an evacuation and rushed everyone inside to a secure location, the Senate parliamentary staff scooping up the boxes holding the Electoral Collage certificates.

Although the Capitol’s attackers had been sent with Trump’s exhortation to fight, they appeared in some cases to be surprised that they had actually made it in.

When they breached the abandoned Senate chamber, they milled around, rummaged through papers, sat at desks and took videos and pictures. One of them climbed to the dais and yelled, “Trump won that election!” Two others were photographed carrying flex cuffs typically used for mass arrests.

But outside the chamber, the mob’s hunt was still on for lawmakers. “Where are they?” people could be heard yelling.

That question could have also applied to reinforcements — where were they?

At about 5:30 p.m., once the National Guard had arrived to supplement the overwhelmed Capitol Police force, a full-on effort began to get the attackers out.

Heavily armed officers brought in as reinforcements started using tear gas in a coordinated fashion to get people moving toward the door, then combed the halls for stragglers. As darkness fell, they pushed the mob farther out onto the plaza and lawn, using officers in riot gear in full shields and clouds of tear gas, flash-bangs and percussion grenades.

At 7:23 p.m., officials announced that people hunkered down in two nearby congressional office buildings could leave “if anyone must.”

Within the hour, the Senate had resumed its work and the House followed, returning the People’s House to the control of the people’s representatives. Lawmakers affirmed Biden’s election victory early the next morning, shell-shocked by the catastrophic failure of security.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Ca., told AP on Sunday it was as if Capitol Police “were naked” against the attackers. “It turns out it was the worst kind of non-security anybody could ever imagine.”

Said McGovern: “I was in such disbelief this could possibly happen. These domestic terrorists were in the People’s House, desecrating the People’s House, destroying the People’s House.”


Associated Press writers Dustin Weaver in Washington and Michael Casey in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report. Reeves reported from Birmingham, Alabama.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Share The News
Audio Posts in English Featured Audio Posts in English News Review Russia Security Shared Links - Audio Posts World

Audio – US Congress authorizes new Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Share The News

shared this story

The US Congress has authorized the White House to impose sanctions against companies constructing the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, with lawmakers overriding President Donald Trump’s veto of a broader Defense Department spending authorization bill.

The sanctions aim to derail construction of the remaining offshore portion of Russian state-controlled Gazprom’s near-complete 55bn m³/yr Nord Stream 2. The measure allows the administration to impose sanctions against any entity that is involved in construction, provides underwriting and insurance to pipe-laying vessels or facilitates ship retrofitting and upgrading.

The sanctions also can apply to any entity that “provided services for the testing, inspection or certification” of the pipeline.

The bill grants the White House flexibility to waive sanctions on national security grounds, while also exempting European government entities from sanctions and requiring consultations with those governments before sanctions are applied.

Lawmakers included the sanctions provision in a bill they passed in early December. Trump vetoed the legislation on 23 December, citing reasons unrelated to Nord Stream 2. The House of Representatives voted 322-87 on 28 December to override Trump’s veto. The Senate then followed today, voting 81-13 today in favor of overriding the veto.

Potentially targeted companies will have until 31 January to wind down participation in the pipeline project to avoid sanctions.

A similar sanctions bill enacted late in 2019 forced a Swiss company involved in pipelaying to walk away from the project, and the authors of the most recent measure hope it will have a similar effect.

Around 16.5km on each of the project’s two strings need to be installed in German waters, and a total of 127km in Danish waters before pipe-laying is complete.

The key difference now is that the vessels involved in construction are Russian-owned and Russian-flagged, even though they still require support and certification from entities in Germany and Denmark.

The Fortuna pipe-laying barge restarted pipe-laying in German waters in early December and is to restart works in Danish waters from mid-January, with support from the Baltic Explorer and Murman, as well as other supply vessels. Ongoing construction activities are likely to enable the project to be completed soon, Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Novak said on 28 December.

Implementing the legislation is likely to straddle the final weeks of Trump’s term in office, which ends on 20 January, and the incoming administration led by president-elect Joe Biden.

Opponents of the Nord Stream 2 project in Congress hope that the State Department will take immediate action to enforce its previous guidance that threatened sanctions against foreign companies providing goods and services for pipe-laying vessels and against financial backers of the pipeline.

The Biden team has vowed a tougher approach to Russia but has not promised to target Nord Stream 2 specifically.

Implementing sanctions against the project would contradict the president-elect’s pledge to improve relations with the EU, which opposes penalties against the pipeline project.

But political opinion in Washington is again turning against Russia, this time over an alleged cyberattack against computer networks run by the US government.

By Haik Gugarats

Share The News
Audio Posts in English Featured Audio Posts in English Featured Posts News Review Security Shared Links - Audio Posts World

Early Edition: December 10, 2020

Share The News

shared this story
from Just Security.

Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.

A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news


Hunter Biden, President-elect Joe Biden’s son, is currently subject to a federal criminal investigation over his business deals and potential tax evasion, including a failure to report income from China-related business deals, according to people familiar with the matter. Hunter confirmed yesterday in a statement the existence of the tax probe by the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware, which started in 2018, with an FBI interview expected soon, as well as potential subpoenas on Hunter and his associates, suggesting that more investigative work is needed to collect enough evidence to take the case forward. “I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” Hunter said in a statement, adding, “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.” Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Colby Itkowitz report for the Washington Post.

The federal probe into Hunter is wider than what he indicated, a person with knowledge of the investigation said, stating that investigators in both Delaware and the securities fraud unit in the Southern District of New York have, since as early as last year, been investigating potential money laundering and foreign ties. Federal investigations into the Biden’s also spans to the brother of Joe Biden, James, who is currently under the spotlight as part of a criminal investigation by federal authorities in the Western District of Pennsylvania looking into a hospital business James is linked to. There’s no evidence that Joe is included or implicated in either investigation into his son or brother, although the matters will likely complicate his time in office. Ben Chreckinger reports for POLITICO.

The State Department hosted a party Tuesday at the presidential guesthouse with around 200 guests, two officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said, which “included a tour of the White House’s vaunted holiday decorations followed by a self-guided tour across the street at Blair House, where foreign diplomats, their families, U.S. staffers and friends and acquaintances of the State Department’s chief of protocol convened.” The tour is usually followed by the “Holiday Cheer” reception but was cancelled this year over concerns about spreading Covid-19, although two drinks bars were erected in the guesthouse, which saw masked guests consuming beverages and congregating in groups, the officials said. Among those who attended were the ambassadors of Afghanistan, Egypt, South Korea, and Guatemala, with several more holiday functions expected to be hosted this week and next by the State Department — two receptions next week will be hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with over 900 invitees expected at one of those receptions. John Hudson reports for the Washington Post.

Biden is expected to nominate Katherine Tai as the US Trade Representative, according to people familiar with the matter, although Tai and Biden’s transition team have not responded for comment. Yuka Hatashi and Andrew Restuccia report for the Wall Street Journal.

17 Republican state attorneys general yesterday filed a brief in support of a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday which seeks to overturn the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the challenge is also being supported by President Trump who in a filing to the court yesterday asked if he could intervene in the case and requested the court to block millions of votes in battleground states. Ariane de Vogue and Paul LeBlanc report for CNN.

The House yesterday passed a weeklong extension in funding for the federal government, the stopgap bill, in an effort to keep the government open until Dec. 18 as current government funding expires Friday, giving lawmakers more time to continue to negotiate spending bills and emergency coronavirus relief. The bill passed by 343-67 votes, and now requires approval from the Senate, which is expected to be quickly passed, and will then be sent to Trump for approval. Jeff Stein and Mike DeBonis reports for the Washington Post

House lawmakers yesterday said they would further look into a report released yesterday that revealed “major flaws” and a leadership climate which allowed for a string of violent deaths, suicides and sexual harassment and assault at a military base in Fort Hood, TX. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), the chair of the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee, described the report as “a damning indictment of Fort Hood and its leadership.” Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller also endorsed the report’s findings, and voiced his support for the firings and suspensions that have taken place. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.

The Veterans Affairs (VA) inspector general (IG) recently told federal prosecutors of potential criminal conduct by Secretary Robert Wilkie, a Trump appointee, which was unearthed during an investigation into whether he attempted to discredit a congressional aide who said she had been sexually assaulted, according to three current and former federal officials. The Justice Department has decided not to pursue a case against Wilkie, with prosecutors telling IG Michael Missal that there was not enough evidence to warrant charges, according to two federal officials with direct knowledge of the case. Lisa Rein and Spencer S. Hsu report for the Washington Post.

48 state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday filed lawsuits against social media giant Facebook, accusing the company of anti-competitive acquisitions and asking a federal court to force the company to sell some of its assets such as Instagram and WhatsApp as independent businesses. “Facebook has maintained its monopoly position by buying up companies that present competitive threats and by imposing restrictive policies that unjustifiably hinder actual or potential rivals that Facebook does not or cannot acquire,” the commission said in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., requesting the court to order the “divestiture of assets, divestiture or reconstruction of businesses (including, but not limited to, Instagram and/or WhatsApp).” David Ingram reports for NBC News.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) now has a full slate of six commissioners, the first time in years, after the Senate yesterday confirmed three new commissioners, Allen Dickerson, Sean Cooksey and Shana Broussard, all of which are Trump picks. The FEC now has the requisite quorum of four commissioners, the first time since August 2019. Zach Montellaro reports for POLITICO.


President Trump’s planned $23 billion arms sale to the UAE is on track for completion, after a bipartisan effort to block the sale was yesterday defeated in the Senate. There were two resolutions that attempted to block the sale of 50 F-35s worth $10.4 billion, up to 18 MQ-9B drones worth $2.97 billion, and a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions worth $10 billion — but both failed to get the necessary majority votes. Andrew Desiderio reports for POLITICO.

Iran’s foreign ministry said yesterday that the country had blacklisted the US ambassador in Yemen, a move that comes one day after the US imposed terrorism-related sanctions on Tehran’s envoy to the Yemeni Houthi rebel group. Reuters reporting.

The Treasury Department yesterday sanctioned Wan Kuok Koi, dubbed “Broken Tooth,” a leader of China’s 14K Triad organized crime group, as well as three entities which are “owned or controlled” by him, a press release by the department revealed, which described the group as “one of the largest Chinese organized criminal organizations in the world,” engaging in “drug trafficking, illegal gambling, racketeering, human trafficking, and a range of other criminal activities.” James Griffiths reports for CNN.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jim Risch (R-ID) yesterday introduced a resolution which called for the US government to consider imposing sanctions on any political or military officials responsible for human rights violations during the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. Reuters reporting.


The novel coronavirus has infected over 15.39 million and now killed over 289,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 69.01 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 1.571 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.

The Washington Post reported that the US yesterday set a single-day record of over 3,100 Covid-19, according analysis it conducted, with Texas, Colorado, Illinois and Pennsylvania reporting the highest numbers, more than 200 deaths in each state. The record came as the Pfizer vaccine currently being rolled out in the UK has caused allergic reactions in some people, The Post reported, with the country’s regulators instructing hospitals not to administer the new vaccine to people with a medical history of “significant” allergic reactions. The concerns with the vaccine come as a U.S. advisory panel will meet today to discuss whether it should recommend that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should approve the Pfizer vaccine in the United States, The Post reported.

“The Pentagon’s initial allotment of coronavirus vaccine will be administered at 16 defense sites in the United States and abroad, with health care workers, emergency service personnel and residents of military retirement homes getting top priority, officials said Wednesday,” AP reports, adding, “Next in line, once follow-on supplies of vaccine becomes available, will be military personnel who provide “critical national capabilities,” such as nuclear weapons crews and cybersecurity forces, as well as certain military units getting ready to deploy.”

A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the US is available at the New York Times.

US and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.

A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.

Latest updates on the pandemic at The Guardian.

The post Early Edition: December 10, 2020 appeared first on Just Security.

Share The News
Audio Posts in English Featured Audio Posts in English Featured Posts News Review Shared Links - Audio Posts World

The far-right AfD′s disruptive tactics in German parliament | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW

Share The News

shared this story

The far-right AfD′s disruptive tactics in German parliament | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW

In the heated evening hours of election night in 2017, Alexander Gauland issued an ominous promise — indeed a threat. 

“We will hunt them,” the senior Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician said of his political opponents. 

The night was September 24, 2017, when the AfD was catapulted onto the national stage, becoming Germany’s third-largest party and eventually the leading opposition party in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. Gauland would go on to co-chair the AfD’s parliamentary group.

Three years later, it’s clear that his pledge wasn’t meant as a metaphor.

  • Christian Lüth (Soeren Stache/dpa/picture-alliance)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Christian Lüth

    Ex-press officer Christian Lüth had already faced demotion for past contentious comments before being caught on camera talking to a right-wing YouTube video blogger. “The worse things get for Germany, the better they are for the AfD,” Lüth allegedly said, before turning his focus to migrants. “We can always shoot them later, that’s not an issue. Or gas them, as you wish. It doesn’t matter to me.”

  • Alexander Gauland (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Murat)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Alexander Gauland

    Co-chairman Alexander Gauland said the German national soccer team’s defender Jerome Boateng might be appreciated for his performance on the pitch — but people would not want “someone like Boateng as a neighbor.” He also argued Germany should close its borders and said of an image showing a drowned refugee child: “We can’t be blackmailed by children’s eyes.”

  • Weidel and Gauland (Reuters/F.Bensch)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Alice Weidel

    Alice Weidel generally plays the role of “voice of reason” for the far-right populists, but she, too, is hardly immune to verbal miscues. Welt newspaper, for instance, published a 2013 memo allegedly from Weidel in which she called German politicians “pigs” and “puppets of the victorious powers in World War II.” Weidel initially claimed the mail was fake, but now admits its authenticity.

  • Frauke Petry (Getty Images/T. Lohnes)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Frauke Petry

    German border police should shoot at refugees entering the country illegally, the former co-chair of the AfD told a regional newspaper in 2016. Officers must “use firearms if necessary” to “prevent illegal border crossings.” Communist East German leader Erich Honecker was the last German politician who condoned shooting at the border.

  • Björn Höcke (picture-alliance/Arifoto Ug/Candy Welz)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Björn Höcke

    The head of the AfD in the state of Thuringia made headlines for referring to Berlin’s Holocaust memorial as a “monument of shame” and calling on the country to stop atoning for its Nazi past. The comments came just as Germany enters an important election year — leading AfD members moved to expel Höcke for his remarks.

  •  Beatrix von Storch (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Murat)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Beatrix von Storch

    Initially, the AfD campaigned against the euro and bailouts — but that quickly turned into anti-immigrant rhetoric. “People who won’t accept STOP at our borders are attackers,” the European lawmaker said in 2016. “And we have to defend ourselves against attackers,” she said — even if this meant shooting at women and children.

  •  Marcus Pretzell (picture alliance/dpa/M. Murat)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Marcus Pretzell

    Pretzell, former chairman of the AfD in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and husband to Frauke Petry, wrote, “These are Merkel’s dead,” shortly after news broke of the deadly attack on the Berlin Christmas market in December 2016.

  • Andre Wendt (picture alliance/ZB/H. Schmidt)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Andre Wendt

    The member of parliament in Germany’s eastern state of Saxony made waves in early 2016 with an inquiry into how far the state covers the cost of sterilizing unaccompanied refugee minors. Thousands of unaccompanied minors have sought asylum in Germany, according to the Federal Association for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees (BumF) — the vast majority of them young men.

  • Andre Poggenburg(picture alliance/dpa/J. Wolf)

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Andre Poggenburg

    Poggenburg, former head of the AfD in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, has also raised eyebrows with extreme remarks. In February 2017, he urged other lawmakers in the state parliament to join measures against the extreme left-wing in order to “get rid of, once and for all, this rank growth on the German racial corpus” — the latter term clearly derived from Nazi terminology.

  • Alexander Gauland AfD

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    Alexander Gauland, again …

    During a campaign speech in Eichsfeld in August 2017, AfD election co-candidate Alexander Gauland said that Social Democrat parliamentarian Aydan Özoguz should be “disposed of” back to Anatolia. The German term, “entsorgen,” raised obvious parallels to the imprisonment and killings of Jews and prisoners of war under the Nazis.

  • Alexander Gauland

    AfD leaders and their most offensive remarks

    … and again

    Gauland was roundly criticized for a speech he made to the AfD’s youth wing in June 2018. Acknowledging Germany’s responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi era, he went on to say Germany had a “glorious history and one that lasted a lot longer than those damned 12 years. Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history.”

    Author: Dagmar Breitenbach, Mark Hallam


Fast forward to November 2020, as right-wing activists filmed themselves in the Bundestag as they blocked and insulted lawmakers from various parties. They were part of major protests against planned national coronavirus restrictions being debated in the chamber. The men and women were properly registered — as guests of individual members of the AfD. They appeared to have been allowed in on purpose, to confront other politicians and then later to upload their videos to social media platforms. 

The footage wasn’t pleasant. The stunt, with AfD fingerprints all over it, prompted outrage in Germany. After all, parliament is considered a protected space dedicated to the debate of political issues.

Britta Haßelmann speaking in the Bundestag

Green Party MP Britta Hasselmann deplores the crude tone of right-wing rhetoric in parliament and beyond

“The method and strategy is evident. On one hand they’re working to defame parliament but beyond that videos of such actions are made to be uploaded to YouTube and then shared with others,” Green Party politician Britta Hasselmann told DW after the incident.

Read more: What impact does hate speech have on climate activism?

Delegitimizing opponents

The anti-racism Amadeu-Antonio Foundation, a Berlin-based non-governmental organization (NGO), is among the AfD’s sterner critics. It sees the action as part of an AfD media strategy to sow mistrust and undermine opponents. In a recent study, the organization wrote: “Right-wing activists have the goal of delegitimizing democracy, political opponents and democratic institutions.” 

The study looked at the behavior of so-called “alternative right” groups including the AfD. These groups can reach audiences in the millions via YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, with the AfD’s YouTube channels among the most influential in the scene. 

“Alternative-right actors seek to spread their ideology, which is not (yet) a majority opinion and which often exists outside the bounds of democratic norms,” the foundation wrote. “Therefore, they try to move the accepted boundaries of public discourse by way of repeated breaches of taboos. This is happening strategically, step-by-step, and continually.” 

Read more: Violence breaks out at Germany’s far-right AfD party conference

Green Party parliamentarian Hasselmann agrees, saying “any and every parliamentarian can sense” that the tone of the rhetoric in parliament and beyond has deteriorated.

“Of course, I will not allow myself to be intimidated. But I do not want to acclimatize myself to hate and agitation. I don’t want to get used to the anti-feminism of the AfD either — to the laughter from their benches when women take to the speaker’s podium. I, along with many others, will never come to terms with that. The democratic parties will stand against it together,” Hasslemann vows.

Modeled on Donald Trump? 

The AfD’s media strategy bears a few of the hallmarks seen in outgoing US President Donald Trump’s approach to politics. In both, the truth is of no consequence, the main objective is to provoke and to grab attention. Activists close to the AfD also maintain contacts with the same alt-right groups Trump has courted and bolstered in the US. 

Disinformation is a core pillar of their strategy, according to the Amadeu-Antonio Foundation, “The more exposure a user has to disinformation, the more likely they are to believe it, the more likely it is to take root.” 

Experts also note that this strategy is often marked by a progressive radicalization. To stay in the headlines by stoking outrage, the level of outrage must be constantly turned up. Again, Trump’s presidency provides a pretty good case study.

Ex-AfD member Franziska Schreiber: ‘I was met with hate’


Light on content, high on risk?

Still, this radicalization carries risks for the AfD. First of all, it’s largely devoid of content — focussing instead on simple messaging aimed at targeted audiences — hardly enabling a culture of rigorous debate. 

For Britta Hasselmann, that is the gaping hole in the AfD’s flank. Yet it remains a weakness that other parties can’t seem to exploit: “We must learn to make it clear that the AfD has no content whatsoever and no answers to the big questions facing us down the road: Neither to the coronavirus pandemic, nor climate change, nor social issues. We must learn to expose this lack of vision.”

The other potential danger for the AfD could prove to be law enforcement. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency already classes parts of the party as extreme right-wing and is monitoring their activity. Should the entire party fall under formal observation by domestic security services, that could bring huge practical drawbacks, as well as perhaps scaring away party members and voters. That’s one more reason stunts like last week’s Bundestag disruption are controversial — even inside the AfD. 

This article was translated from German.

Share The News
Audio Posts in English Featured Audio Posts in English Featured Posts News Review Shared Links - Audio Posts World

US Congress moves to block troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Germany

Share The News

shared this story
from Janes news RSS.

US Congress moves to block troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Germany

04 December 2020

by Ashley Roque

US lawmakers are throwing up legislative roadblocks to prevent the outgoing US administration from reducing troop levels in Afghanistan and Germany before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on 20 January 2021.

House and Senate conferees have hashed out the mutual terms for the proposed fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, and are set to vote on and approve the measure in before sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk. Included are two provisions designed to hamstring the Pentagon from following through with troop reductions abroad.

When it comes to Afghanistan, in November Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced plans to slash US troop levels from about 4,500 down to 2,500 by mid-January 2021. The bill, however, prevents the department from reducing troop levels below 4,000 – or the total number left when the legislation is enacted – until the Pentagon, State Department, and the director of national intelligence detail how a drawdown affects threats to the United States, the counterterrorism mission against the Islamic State, and more.

“The conferees note the South Asia strategy emphasizes the importance of a conditions-based United States presence in Afghanistan in support of ongoing diplomatic efforts to secure a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict,” lawmakers wrote. “The conferees further note that any decision to reduce the armed forces of the United States in Afghanistan should be done in an orderly manner and in coordination with United States allies and partners and the government of Afghanistan.”

Afghan security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Kabul on 27 October that resulted in at least three people being killed and 13 others wounded. US lawmakers have included provisions in the final version of the fiscal year 2021 defense autorisation bill to prevent troop reductions in Afghanistan and Germany. (Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Already a Janes subscriber? Read the full article via the

Client Login

Interested in subscribing, see What we do


<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”></a>

US lawmakers are throwing up legislative roadblocks to prevent the outgoing US administration from r…

Share The News
Audio Posts in English Featured Audio Posts in English Featured Posts Puerto Rico Shared Links - Audio Posts World

Massive telescope collapse caught on remote camera and drone in Puerto Rico

Share The News

shared this story

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released new footage of the collapse of the Arecibo telescope platform in Puerto Rico.

The 57-year-old radio telescope suffered major damage in August when one of the cables supporting the platform snapped. Another cable snapped in early November.

Then, on Tuesday, the entire platform came crashing 122 metres onto the dish below.

“We are saddened by this situation but thankful that no one was hurt,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said in a statement. “When engineers advised NSF that the structure was unstable and presented a danger to work teams and Arecibo staff, we took their warnings seriously.”

The telescope has been used to track asteroids on a path to Earth, conduct research that led to a Nobel Prize and determine if a planet is potentially habitable. It also served as a training ground for graduate students and drew about 90,000 visitors a year.

“I am one of those students who visited it when young and got inspired,” said Abel Mendez, a physics and astrobiology professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo who has used the telescope for research. “The world without the observatory loses, but Puerto Rico loses even more.”

Arecibo has also been featured in movies such as Contact and the James Bond film GoldenEye.


Share The News
Audio Posts in English Covid-19 Pandemic Featured Audio Posts in English News Review Shared Links - Audio Posts World

Meet the scientists investigating the origins of the COVID pandemic

Share The News

shared this story

Meet the scientists investigating the origins of the COVID pandemic

An epidemiologist who helped to tie the 2012 outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) to camels, a food safety officer who studies how pathogens spread in markets, and a veterinarian who found evidence linking the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak to bats roosting in a hollow tree. These researchers are among the team that the World Health Organization (WHO) has assembled to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

The investigation aims to find out how and when SARS-CoV-2 first infected people. Strong evidence suggests that the coronavirus originated in bats, but its journey to people remains a mystery. Scientists say the team is highly qualified, but their task will be challenging.

“This is an excellent team with a lot of experience,” says Martin Beer, a virologist at the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health in Greifswald, Germany.

The group will be working with researchers in China and professionals from several other international agencies, and will start the search in Wuhan — the Chinese city where the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was first identified — and expand across China and beyond.

The international group comes with a breadth of knowledge. Marion Koopmans is a virologist specializing in molecular epidemiology at the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She was on the team that found, in 2013, that dromedary camels were an intermediate host for the virus that causes MERS, which has killed more than 850 people. She has since worked with another team member — Elmoubasher Farag, an epidemiologist at the Ministry of Public Health in Doha — to test camels for antibodies against MERS.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Koopmans has tracked the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms in Europe. Studies on the pandemic’s origin will need to explore the role of animals kept for fur and food, she says.

Koopmans says that the group is keeping an open mind about how the pandemic started and will not exclude any scenarios, including the unlikely one that SARS-CoV-2 accidentally escaped from a laboratory. Scientists have previously told Nature that the virus is likely to have passed from bats to humans, probably through an intermediate animal — but definitively ruling out the lab scenario will be difficult. “Anything is on the table,” says Koopmans.

Another member, Hung Nguyen, an environment and food safety researcher at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, will contribute his knowledge on how pathogens spread in wet markets, similar to the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, which many of the first COVID-19 patients had visited. Nguyen has investigated how Salmonella and other bacteria spread through smallholder farms, slaughterhouses and live-animal markets in his home country of Vietnam and across southeast Asia.

Also on the team is Peter Daszak, president of the non-profit research organization Ecohealth Alliance in New York City, who has spent more than a decade studying coronaviruses. He has worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to test bats for coronaviruses with the potential to spill over into people.

“It is an honour to be part of this team,” says Daszak. “There hasn’t been a pandemic on this scale since the 1918 flu, and we’re still close enough to the origin to really find out more details about where it has come from.”

Another team member, Fabian Leendertz, a veterinarian at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, will bring his expertise in spillover events. In April 2014, Leendertz visited Meliandou village in Guinea, months after a two-year-old died of Ebola — the first person reported to be infected in West Africa.

Work by Leendertz, including interviews with locals and environmental sampling, suggests that the outbreak started in bats that lived in a hollow tree where the children used to play. The tree was burned down days before his arrival and no Ebola virus was detected in nearby bats, which he says highlights the difficulties of pinning down an outbreak’s beginnings.

Considerable time has passed since the emergence of COVID-19, and many people only have mild or no symptoms, which will make it challenging to identify the first infected person, says Leendertz. “We are all aware that there is no guarantee there will be a waterproof story on how it all started.”

Other team members include researchers from Denmark, the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia and Japan.

But Christian Drosten, a virologist at the Charité hospital in Berlin, notes that invitations to apply for the team were only sent to members of the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), a closed group with experience in outbreak response. Many researchers with relevant expertise were not given the opportunity to apply, says Drosten, who received the e-mail, but missed the invitation while on holiday. “They could and should have issued this as a more open call.”

Although the team are highly qualified, 8 out of 10 members are men and investigators from Europe dominate the group, and none are from Africa or South America, says Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University, who is based in Seattle, Washington. “It could be more representative of the larger global scientific community,” she says.

She also says that Daszak’s ties to the WIV could raise a conflict of interest, given that the lab has been at the centre of unsubstantiated claims that the virus accidentally leaked from there.

Daszak says that he has been transparent about his work in China. The trust he has built with researchers there will help the team to gain a deeper understanding of the pandemic’s early days, he says.

The team are expected to travel to China for several weeks at some point.

Share The News
Audio Posts in English Featured Audio Posts in English Featured Audio Posts in Russian Featured Posts Israel and Middle East News Review Opinions Security World

What is behind the triptych Putin – Erdogan – Rouhani

Share The News

shared this story
fromNews from Russia, CIS and the world – IA REGNUM.


The signing of the Russia-Azerbaijan-Armenia trilateral agreement to end the war in Nagorno-Karabakh marked a historic turning point, which must also be consolidated diplomatically. Moscow is behaving with caution so far.

Stanislav Tarasov ,
28 November 2020 , 14:37 – REGNUM

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a videoconference meeting with permanent members of the Security Council. In particular, he reported on his regular telephone contacts with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, during which the activities of the Russian peacekeepers and the work of the humanitarian mission in Nagorno-Karabakh were discussed.

In turn, Pashinyan somewhat detailed the situation. According to him, “such negotiations are carried out on a regular basis, sometimes several times a day,” although “we do not always disseminate information about these discussions, given their nature and frequency.” Among the topics discussed, he named issues related to the settlements of the Lachin corridor, missing persons, search operations, the bodies of the dead, the exchange of prisoners, the deployment and delimitation of peacekeepers, as well as the unblocking of transport communications in the region. As for the Azerbaijani side, Aliyev, in a telephone conversation with Putin, “expressed satisfaction with the fact that” the ceasefire is observed in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Russian peacekeepers continue to successfully carry out their mission. ” From the latest messages: the peacekeepers provided, as stated in the information of the Ministry of Defense of Russia, “the organized transfer of the Kelbajar region under the control of the Azerbaijani forces, observing the safety of civilians.” Nevertheless, the situation in the conflict zone remains somewhat fragile, Moscow is forced to use the “manual control” regime in this direction in order for the current course of events to become irreversible.

Russian peacekeepers control the movement of civilian vehicles along the Lachin corridor in Nagorno-Karabakh

The fact is that after the signing of the Russia-Azerbaijan-Armenia trilateral agreement on ending the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, an acute diplomatic intrigue, initiated by France, begins to unfold in the West. She is concerned that in the future, when determining the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, “Russia and Turkey may conclude an agreement in order to cut off Western countries from future peace negotiations.” And now Paris believes that the implementation of the ceasefire agreement “must take place under international supervision” in order to start negotiations on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, meaning, apart from Russia, other OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries. Recall that Moscow, along with Washington and Paris, is the co-chair of the Minsk Group for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, but they did not participate in the conclusion of the agreement, signed by Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and ended six weeks of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. And Turkey was the first to react to this, which France seeks to exclude from the Karabakh settlement process in any form.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “the fears expressed by some of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group have no basis.” On the other hand, after a telephone conversation with Putin, he said that he had discussed with him the possibility of involving other countries of the region in efforts to maintain the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, Erdogan did not specify which countries were being discussed, although everyone understands that this is Iran. Let us note in this regard that Tehran, like Ankara, supported the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, believing that only in this way it will be possible to achieve sustainable peace in the conflict region. Moreover, Iran put forward the initiative to sign the so-called Caucasian pact with the participation of Russia, Turkey and Iran without involving Western countries in solving the problems of the Transcaucasus. With this mission I recently traveled to Baku, Yerevan, Moscow and Ankara, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Erakchi. Ankara is satisfied with this project because it can relieve tension in Iran arising in connection with the strengthening of Turkey’s military presence in Azerbaijan. At the same time, the participation of Tehran and Ankara in the Karabakh settlement can fundamentally change the geopolitical situation in the region, which is considered a zone of political interests only for Russia. This is the first thing.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Erakchi

Tasnim News Agency

Second, an act of political expulsion of the West from Azerbaijan and Armenia will take place. Europe has already reacted to this. The ruling coalition in Germany issued a statement stating that “Turkey is pursuing a policy in the Caucasus that does not contribute to the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh at the diplomatic level and, through isolated agreements with Russia, is trying to promote the interests of individual parties in the region.” There is a call to Moscow and Ankara “not to use third countries to achieve their political interests in this region”, that is, not to involve Iran in the Karabakh settlement, but to focus only on participation in the Minsk Group settlement process. But in fact, if the group does work, it will build on the agreement on November 9, since her early developments on the settlement of the conflict are now of interest only to historians. Iran also responds. As the Tehran newspaper Hamshahri writes, the West’s desire to preserve the OSCE Minsk Group proceeds from the fact that “during further negotiations on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, a situation will arise when the conflicting parties will not abandon their claims to each other, they will consider the current truce to be temporary, at best. calculated for several decades ”.

It is still difficult to say whether the designated political and diplomatic intrigue will lead to any results. Something may appear when the new administration in the US starts working, however, it is not known whether it will coordinate its efforts in the Karabakh direction with the EU. In any case, a historic turning point has taken place, which in Nagorno-Karabakh will have to be consolidated also diplomatically. Moscow is behaving cautiously in this regard. Major decisions are ahead.

Share The News
Audio Posts in English Featured Audio Posts in English Featured Posts Israel and Middle East News Review Shared Links - Audio Posts World

Killer Robot? Assassination of Iranian Scientist Feeds Conflicting Accounts

Share The News

shared this story
from KT.

Killer Robot? Assassination of Iranian Scientist Feeds Conflicting Accounts

The use of a remote-controlled machine gun was not out of the question. Israel’s military has such weapons and has deployed them elsewhere. Some Iranian reports said as early as Saturday that such a weapon was used in the attack on Friday, an afternoon ambush on a country road east of Tehran.

But early official Iranian reports and witness accounts reported a gun battle between Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards and as many as a dozen attackers. And current and former Israeli officials have boasted that Israeli intelligence agencies have a track record of safely extricating assassins from hostile territories, including Iran.

Israel is thought to have killed at least five Iranian scientists between 2007 and 2012 as part of an effort to derail Iran’s nuclear program, which Israeli officials consider an existential threat. Tehran has credibly claimed to have caught only one of the perpetrators, an Iranian who confessed on television in 2010 that he had received training in Israel to plant a car bomb that killed a scientist as he was leaving his garage.

The agents behind the other assassination attempts and some larger operations are all believed to have escaped.

The role of a remote-controlled machine gun as part of a complex attack by a team of assassins was first reported over the weekend in an account of the killing posted online by Javad Mogouyi, a documentary filmmaker for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. His father and father-in-law are members of the wing of the organization charged with protecting Mr. Fakhrizadeh, and Mr. Mogouyi’s account was adopted as authoritative at the time by several Iranian news organizations.

Before the arrival of a dozen assassins, Mr. Mogouyi wrote, a Nissan had been parked at a roundabout, packed with explosives and armed with an automated machine gun. The remote-controlled gun opened fire first, distracting Mr. Fakhrizadeh and his bodyguards as the assassins lay in wait.

An autonomous machine gun that appears to match that description has been employed by the Israeli military since 2010. Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the weapon includes a built-in optical system for aiming and photographs. Its name, which rhymes in Hebrew, means “you see-you shoot.”

Share The News