Saturday, March 7, 2020

Coronavirus: China's War on the Truth - Giulio Meotti

by Giulio Meotti

Italy's main fatal mistake was trusting China's regime. Instead of checking everyone -- Chinese or Italian -- returning from China since January, Italy kept its borders open.

  • "The epidemic has exposed this country completely in its corruption, bureaucracy, information control and censorship." — Phillip Wu, a freelance writer in Beijing, The Guardian, March 1, 2020.
  • Then there are many instances of journalists and activists who told the truth, but who were arrested or "vanished". The Chinese regime is now even announcing plans to publish a book in six languages about the outbreak that portrays President Xi as a "major power leader" with "care for the people".
  • Italy's main fatal mistake was trusting China's regime. Instead of checking everyone -- Chinese or Italian -- returning from China since January, Italy kept its borders open. We are now dealing with tens of thousands of Italians under quarantine....
  • The idea that the coronavirus might be related to Wuhan's virus research laboratory is considered by some a "conspiracy theory", yet China's refusal immediately to accept help from the US Centers for Disease Control understandably arouses suspicion.

"It is clear that the virus of [Chinese President] Xi's totalitarian rule threatens the health and freedoms not only of the Chinese people, but of all of us everywhere," notes Chinese dissident Ma Jian. One day, we Westerners might feel remorse for not having made the Chinese communist regime accountable for its cold-blooded crimes. Pictured: Chinese President] Xi Jinping. (Photo by Noel Celis - Pool/Getty Images)

"On current course, China is liable to do significant damage to the rest the world, by accident or intent," wrote columnist Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal on January 29.

"The Chinese Communist government increasingly poses an existential threat not just to its own 1.4 billion citizens but to the world at large", wrote the noted historian Victor Davis Hanson on February 20.

According to The Sunday Times,
"Chinese laboratories identified a mystery virus as a highly infectious new pathogen by late December last year, but they were ordered to stop tests, destroy samples and suppress the news, a Chinese media outlet has revealed.
"A regional health official in Wuhan, centre of the outbreak, demanded the destruction of the lab samples that established the cause of unexplained viral pneumonia on January 1. China did not acknowledge there was human-to-human transmission until more than three weeks later.
"The detailed revelations by Caixin Global, a respected independent publication, provide the clearest evidence yet of the scale of the cover-up in the crucial early weeks when the opportunity was lost to control the outbreak."
In a speech on December 31, 2019, Xi Jinping was already triumphantly heralding a new year of "milestone significance in realising the first centenary goal".

"Censorship. It can have deadly consequences," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on February 25. "Had China permitted its own and foreign journalists and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely, Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge." Unfortunately, the World Health Organization did the opposite, "praising" China for fighting the virus. Europe has also been busy appeasing China.

In China, 780 million people – roughly half its population – are living under travel restrictions, and its president, Xi Jinping, is using the crisis to strengthen his control. Since 2013, he has continued to expand his immense authority to remain "president for life", and is now seeking to take advantage of the coronavirus to tighten his control over the public even further, while silencing dissent.

The consequences for Italy, which currently has far more infected persons than the rest of Europe combined, are described by Massimo Galli, the primary infectious disease specialist at Milan's Sacco Hospital:
"We are in full emergency. Yes, I am worried. The epidemic has to all intents and purposes conquered a part of Italy.... The situation is, frankly, an emergency from the point of view of the healthcare system. It is the equivalent of the tsunami in terms of the number of patients with major illnesses hospitalized all at once. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Even the best health organization in the world, and we are among them, risks not being able to withstand such an impact".
Meanwhile, China's war on the truth marches on. The laboratory of the Shanghai Health Center was closed on January 12, one day after Professor Zhang Yongzhen's team revealed the sequence of the coronavirus genome on open platforms. The Chinese regime prevented its scientists from finding ways to contain the epidemic. Their "crime"? Releasing the sequence to the world before the Chinese authorities did.

"The epidemic has exposed this country completely in its corruption, bureaucracy, information control and censorship," said Phillip Wu, a freelance writer in Beijing. And if you think the Chinese regime is meddling only in its own country, read a recent British report revealing how China is also curbing academic freedom in the UK.

Zeng Yingchun and Zhen Yan, two nurses from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, wrote a dramatic letter for the medical journal The Lancet, in which they asked the international scientific community for help:
"The conditions and environment here in Wuhan are more difficult and extreme than we could ever have imagined. There is a severe shortage of protective equipment, such as N95 respirators, face shields, goggles, gowns, and gloves. The goggles are made of plastic that must be repeatedly cleaned and sterilised in the ward, thereby making them difficult to see through."
One day later, the nurses requested that their letter be withdrawn.

The Chinese regime arrested Li Wenliang, the doctor who had issued the first admonition about the epidemic that soon killed him. On December 30 he had sent out a warning to his fellow medical workers, but police told him to stop "making false comments". Many journalists told the truth, but were arrested or "vanished." Social media in China talked about the virus weeks before the government did. Now the Chinese communist regime is announcing plans to publish a book in six languages about the outbreak; the book portrays President Xi as a "major power leader" with "care for the people".

At the Wuhan Institute of Virology, scientists carry out research at a laboratory that has the highest level of biological containment on the mainland, to study the world's "most dangerous pathogens". That the coronavirus might be related to Wuhan's virus research laboratory is considered by some a "conspiracy theory," but China's refusal immediately to accept help from the US Centers for Disease Control understandably arouses suspicion. According to Paul Wolfowitz, former President of the World Bank and former US Deputy Secretary of Defense:
"The fact that Wuhan is home to China's advanced virus research laboratory known as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which does some classified work for the Chinese military, has predictably generated speculation that the novel Corona virus might have somehow leaked out of that institute."
"Don't buy China's story: The coronavirus may have leaked from a lab", wrote Steven Mosher, an expert on China, in The New York Post. We do not know the truth and we might never know it. The theory that the virus originated in a bio-research laboratory might indeed might turn out to be "fringe." However, considering China's level of secrecy and its dangerous campaign of censoring talk about the virus, is not doubt at least legitimate?

So far as anyone can see, the Chinese communist regime has no regard for human life, freedom or dignity. The regime kills prisoners to harvest their organs for transplant, and performs "forced abortions" for "population control". There is not only an epidemic of viruses but also of "infanticide." According to research by Harry Wu, a 75-year-old Chinese human rights activist, "there are six to eight million inmates working" in China's "re-education camps" today. Meanwhile, the Chinese regime, by suppressing the truth about its deadly coronavirus, has endangered not only its own people but also the international community.

Italy's fatal mistake was in trusting China's regime. Instead of checking everyone -- Chinese or Italian -- returning from China since January, Italy kept its borders open. It is now dealing with tens of thousands of Italians under quarantine, 3,858 people infected and 148 deaths (as of March 6), the paralyzation of northern Italy's economy, fear and hysteria in the population, with empty supermarkets in Milan, to mention just some effects of the coronavirus. Italy is now the world's third-most-infected country after China and South Korea, with Iran not far behind.

Professor Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, in an interview with the South China Morning Post newspaper, compared the coronavirus' fallout to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine. "It will be a crisis of Chernobyl proportions, especially because we will have to contend with the virus for years to come," Yang said. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies around the world are working on a vaccine, which should at some point limit the damage. In 1979, there was an anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk, when deadly spores, leaked from a Soviet biological weapons facility, killed at least 64 people. Soviet and Russian authorities were able to cover up the incident until 1992. Nuclear, viral and biological disasters -- followed by state campaign to keep these secrets -- seem to be routine in dictatorships.

Unfortunately, we in the West appear to be making the same unforgivable mistake with communist China as we did with the Soviet Union: trusting a paranoid and merciless dictatorship. "It is clear," noted the Chinese dissident Ma Jian, "that the virus of Xi's totalitarian rule threatens the health and freedoms not only of the Chinese people, but of all of us everywhere."

A WeChat post dedicated to the late Dr. Li Wenliang included quotes from the Soviet chemist Valery Legasov, who investigated the Chernobyl disaster, and wanted to speak the truth but was silenced, persecuted and forced to lie by the Soviet regime:
"What is the cost of lies? It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth ..."
Legasov took his own life. One day, we Westerners might also feel remorse for not having made the Chinese communist regime accountable for its cold-blooded crimes. Appeasing China, as we did the Soviet Union, is not just a failure; it is a lethal threat.

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.


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Iran’s Shiite Crescent and the Coronavirus - Prof. Hillel Frisch

by Prof. Hillel Frisch

The Shiite crescent is thus functioning as a boomerang to spread the epidemic both out of and back into Iran.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,471, March 6, 2020

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Shiite communities are regarded by the Islamic Republic as key tools with which to penetrate and ultimately conquer the Arab world, and pilgrimages back and forth to Shiite holy centers in Iran and Iraq are central to the regime’s ideological identity. But the holiest city in Iran, Qom, is now an epicenter for the spread of the coronavirus. The Shiite crescent is thus functioning as a boomerang to spread the epidemic both out of and back into Iran.

Iran’s Shiite crescent, which until recently reflected its imperial reach into the Arab world, has now become pathological with the spread of Covid-19 (the official name of the coronavirus pathogen).

A study released on February 24 by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota inadvertently revealed how salient Iran’s religious ties to Shiite communities in Arab states have been and continue to be in the spread of the epidemic.

The five Middle Eastern countries that first reported Covid-19 cases—Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, and Oman—all have substantial Shiite populations, and all the cases cited are clearly linked to Iran. The first confirmed case in Afghanistan was flagged in Herat province, which is in the country’s west on the Iranian border. Another sufferer had recently returned from the city of Qom, Iran’s Shiite religious center and, tellingly, the epicenter of the disease in Iran. The first Bahraini to be confirmed as having succumbed to Covid-19 had also just been in Iran, as had all three cases first reported in Kuwait, Iraq, and Oman.

The link between Shiite pilgrimage and the spread of the virus is to be found at its source in the region: Iran, specifically the religious city of Qom.

As the University of Minnesota report notes, eight of 18 new cases in Iran were in Qom compared to three in the metropolis of Tehran, which has a population seven times greater. Qom has been the site of 40% of the cases identified so far in Iran though it comprises less than 3% of the population.

Iraq and other Arab states with substantial Shiite populations have grown understandably apprehensive about pilgrimage to Qom. Flights between Qom and Najaf, the holy city in Iraq, which neighbors a third holy city, Karbalah, usually outnumber flights between the capital cities of Tehran and Baghdad, indicating that most movement between the countries has to do with religious observance and pilgrimage rather than business and commerce. But the Iraqi authorities have banned entry into the country by Iranian nationals and prohibited travel by Iraqi nationals to Iran, and have ceased flights between Tehran’s Khomeini airport (which services Qom, a three-hour drive away) and Najaf.

Such moves might be too late. The day after the halt on Iraqi-Iranian travel, Iraq announced its first case of Covid-19.

Data for China indicate that one of around 30 cases of the virus results in death (2,873 deaths out of 79,968 cases as of March 1). The percentage outside China is slightly lower because most of the states in which there have been confirmed cases are more advanced and have benefited from the opportunity to learn from the steps China has taken to control the spread of the virus.

Iran recently announced 43 deaths out of 593 confirmed cases compared with 29 fatalities out of just over 1,128 cases in Italy—the most afflicted European state so far. The ratio in Italy—one death per 39 cases—roughly conforms to the ratio of fatalities to confirmed cases in China and elsewhere. In the case of Iran, however, the ratio is strikingly worse: it appears to be one death per 14 people infected.

This is a deeply worrying statistic, particularly as there are concerns that Iran is failing to identify many Covid-19 cases. If true, this means some infected sufferers are not being put into quarantine, which increases the likelihood that the virus will spread.

There is a strong suspicion based on the quality of the data provided by Iran’s ministry of health that the Covid-19 epidemic inside the country might be far more widespread than the regime says it is, and doubts about Iran’s reporting and ability to act efficiently to contain the virus are swirling both within and without the country. A recent report filed by the London Times correspondent from Tehran quotes Iranians as saying they believe the real number of fatalities is four times the figure being given by regime authorities.

The ramifications of Iran’s becoming a source of disease are more than medical. The Islamic Republic has seen wide-scale protests in Iraq and Lebanon against regimes it warmly supports. In Iraq in particular, Iranian consulates have become targets of protester anger.

Iran’s failure to control its Covid-19 problem will hardly endear it to protesters in Iraq and Lebanon, many of whom feel their states are being damaged by Iran’s involvement in their domestic affairs.

The recent failure of the newly designated Iraqi PM Tawfiq Allawi to set up a government is the most recent indication of Iran’s declining stature in the region. Allawi’s appointment, which was presumably intended to mollify the mostly Shiite protestors in the streets of Baghdad, Najaf, and Basra, was strongly backed by the two most powerful pro-Iranian political forces in Iraq: the Fath coalition, which is basically the pro-Iranian militias’ political wing; and the Sairoon coalition headed by Muqtada Sadr. It was Sadr’s al-Mahdi army that fought US forces in the early years of the post-Saddam era.

Despite that support, Allawi failed, because Sunni and Kurdish political opposition figures within the Iraqi parliament and protestors outside it vehemently opposed him.

No doubt, most of Iran’s declining fortunes in Iraq can be attributed to the targeting of Qassem Soleimani. Iran’s Covid-19 problem is having a reinforcing effect.

For years, the (Arab) Shiite majority in Iraq and Bahrain and the significant Shiite minorities in the neighboring Arab states were regarded as the pillars of Iran’s imperial designs over those states.

The Shiite protests in Iraq and Lebanon against Iranian involvement suggest that this may no longer be true.

That imperialism comes at a price could have been predicted. Not so Covid-19 and its ramifications, and least of all its effect on the Iranian Shiite crescent—a crescent that, true to form, is fast turning into a boomerang headed back into the heart of the Islamic Republic.

Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.


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Turkey Proves Refugees are a Weapon, So Treat Them Like One - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

If we can’t resist the humanitarian weapons of Islamists and Marxists, we will lose.

71 years after NATO was founded to watch for an invasion, the invaders came from a NATO country.

After Turkey’s brutal Islamist regime suffered setbacks in its grandiose scheme to rebuild the Ottoman Empire by invading Syria, it decided to launch an invasion of a much softer target.

Interior Minister S├╝leyman Soylu has, with sublime chutzpah, kept a running count of the number of Muslim migrants invading Europe through Adrianople (renamed Edirne by its Turkish Islamic occupiers) on his Twitter account. At last count, the number of invaders was 100,577.

Soylu’s tweets are the equivalent of sending ransom notes while holding a gun to the head of the EU.

That 100,000 is a down payment. Turkey’s Islamist regime is threatening an invasion of millions. And NATO is absolutely helpless to stop a NATO country from masterminding an invasion of Europe.

"Hundreds of thousands have crossed, soon it will reach millions," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the brutal Islamist thug fantasizing about becoming the next Caliph by rebuilding the Ottoman Empire, declared.

There’s nothing spontaneous about this invasion of Greece by tens of thousands of migrants where the new ‘Gates of Fire’ are shoddy fences under assault by mobs throwing stones, bars, and firebombs.

And a moral assault by crying women pinching and burning their children to make them weep.

Turkey’s media, firmly under Islamist control after Erdogan’s Reichstag coup in 2016 allowed the greasy butcher to purge the last resistance to his rule, loudly urged announced that the invasion was here.

The European media, just as firmly under party line control, has been feeding a steady stream of staged photos and videos of crying women and children. Crowd photos show masses of young men. The women and children are there purely as human shields and sacrifices. Women in hijabs wail and cry on photogenic rocky shores while media freelancers elbow each to get the best shots. Children are made to cry by burning them and killed outright to guilt the infidels into selling out the future of their children.

There is already a dead migrant child. Who killed it? The migrants overturned the boat to avoid being returned by the Greek coast guard. The child went in the water and despite the best medical efforts in Europe, died. But mere cold facts like these are impossible for the average westerner to comprehend.

What kind of people are capable of drowning their own children for access to Europe’s welfare state?

To quote Colonel Kurtz, "I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres." Drowning children or strapping bombs to them is a monstrously inconceivable crime to civilized people who no longer really believe in anything anymore.

The Alawites of Syria, their Shiite allies from Lebanon and Iran, will defend their borders. As the Turks discovered the hard way. They will lie, cheat, and steal, and die and kill to protect those borders.

And the Europeans will ask you for your papers. If you refuse, they will eventually let you in anyway.

America lost every war in the last three generations because we were willing to die, but not to kill. The Europeans are neither willing to die nor kill. And so, the continent is being overrun by those who are.

In WW2, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, as a last resort, turned to child soldiers as the war was lost. But being forced to face them did not make us question our morality. We understood that the monsters are the ones who dispatch children to fight their wars, not the soldiers who are forced to face them.

Seeing child soldiers made us determined to end the evil horrors of the Nazi eugenic breeding houses and concentration camps, and the Japanese biological experiments, mass rape, and ritual cannibalism.

By the time Vietnam came around, our elites no longer knew what they believed in anymore. When the enemy did horrifying things, it convinced us that we must be the monsters because they very clearly believed in something so compelling that they could do these things. And we didn’t believe in anything.

Erdogan, in his billion-dollar palace surrounded by costumed guards, understands this. So does the migrant hurling a cinderblock at a border guard. Westerners won’t fight for their countries. They will.

When the EU envoys go to negotiate with Erdogan, they will be up against a man who had the last independent military, police, and judicial leaders rounded up, and anally raped by Islamist thugs.

Whom do you want to bet on?

Last time, the Euros gave him nearly $7 billion. This time the price will be a whole lot higher. And no matter how much Danegeld is paid to the Sharia Vikings, the migrant streams will march on.
As to war.

Erdogan and the Islamists of the world are using refugees as a weapon because they know that Europe has the technology and the infrastructure to resist military forces, but can’t resist mere bodies.

Migrants are a weapon. They’re one of the more potent human missiles in the arsenal of globalism which has shifted the future from the technocratic upstarts of western civilization with their skyscrapers and empty houses of worship, to the old civilizations of Asia which have the relentless will to take them.

The latest invasion of Europe is a blatant move to extract more money for Turkey’s corrupt failing economy whose chief purpose appears to be supplying wealth to the Islamist nomenklatura, and to force countries already staggering under the weight of previous migrant invasions to help Turkey out in the Sunni-Shiite war set off by its invasion of Syria. But these are mere details of the political moment.

Western humanitarian nations want to fight their wars with bombs and tanks, but their ruthless eastern enemies prefer to fight them with humanitarian weapons. Muslim countries dispatch refugees, and when they turn terrorist, pay for their lawyers. The Russians and Qataris hack their way into poorly defended databases and disguise the attacks as leaks from journalists, and human rights activists.

Latin American countries send huge chunks of their populations to come to America and send back checks. Our elites blanch at being accused of locking children in cages. But the migrants, knowing that families will be immediately released, buy or steal children, as their golden tickets to the welfare state. And we are the monsters for wanting to apply DNA tests before releasing them to their captors.

Nobody wants to fight us on our own terms. And why should they? Who’s going to try to punch the giant in his armored chest when he has a glass jaw? Why bother equipping 30,000 men with rifles, when you can just dump them ashore, accompanied by a few women and children, for a successful invasion?

Resisting humanitarian warfare requires drawing firm lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’. That’s the line that globalism erases. And if there’s no line, then their crimes are evidence of the evils of our society.

Wars are won only by those nations, peoples, and people who can draw that line.

If there is no “us”, then what are we fighting for? If there are no nations, why defend their borders? If all beliefs are equal, then great conviction establishes moral superiority over those with lesser conviction. It doesn’t matter if the belief is in the supremacy of Sharia law and the descendants of Mohammed.

The EU established that there are no nations. The Ummah and Caliph Erdogan are taking it at its word.

And the Europeans protest against the mass invasion by tens of thousands of migrants, not because it’s bad for Europe, but because it’s bad for the migrants to have the burden of doing all the invading. They tell Erdogan, who would drown every one of them, that it’s not the best solution to the refugee crisis.

Erdogan sees the millions of migrants as Turkish national assets. Cannon fodder to be used in asserting his Ottoman dreams at the expense of Europe. The Europeans care more about them than he does. That’s what makes them effective weapons. When fighting monsters, humanity becomes a weakness.

American police officers were prevented from fighting crime because of all the people who would be locked up and maybe even shot. And now Baltimore has racked up 50 murders in just two months. Our soldiers were prevented from killing terrorists to save civilian lives, and thousands of our soldiers, and countless civilians died, and entire regions devolved into savage bloodlands of ethnic cleansing.

Europe allowed its cities to be swarmed before and thousands of women were raped, bombs and vehicles were used as weapons in crowded streets, and it still hasn’t learned to say “no” and mean it.

The members of the Ummah at the gates of Greece know what they believe. The thugs throwing stones, and the wailing women burning their children to make them cry, combine a perfect conviction in the providence of Allah, with the selfish collectivism of the family group into which they were born.

The EU believes in the selfish collectivism of its bureaucracy. But free health care, free education, and a short work week isn’t something you fight and die for. Once upon a time, hungry people did. But, as Nietzsche said, “Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.” The hungry became obese burghers. With their appetites sated, they turned into moralizers filled with platitudes, but no actual beliefs.

They are not about to fight for what they have, because they aren’t hungry yet, and they believe in nothing except the power of socialist goodness that enables them to have their goodies. If they understood how finite those goodies are, they might fight, but then they wouldn’t be socialists.

Refugees are a weapon. But not one that comfortable people in prosperous societies understand. And by the time they come to understand what is happening, it may be because they will be the refugees.

When you believe in nothing, and family is an empty word, then you will only fight for what you have.

Einstein reportedly said, "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

World War III was fought and won with humanitarian weapons. That’s why World War IV is already being fought with sticks and stones on the borders of Europe.

Daniel Greenfield a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.


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Hunter Biden scandals explained: Ukraine, China, drug history and more - Gregg Re

by Gregg Re

Talk about not passing the smell test!

From his eyebrow-raising dealings in Delaware, China and Ukraine to controversies involving drug use and child support, Hunter Biden is no stranger to scandal. The son of former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has faced accusations of corrupt behavior from both sides of the political aisle, and played a starring role in the recently concluded impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

The younger Biden's distinct scandals are best understood in rough chronological order because Republicans have argued that Biden's apparently irresponsible behavior only made it more likely that his later sweetheart gigs were obtained not through merit, but because of connections that he could monetize.


In 2008, both The New York Times and The American Spectator highlighted Hunter Biden's sweetheart gigs while his father rose in political prominence. The articles, written as Barack Obama and John McCain vied for the White House, found that Hunter Biden received consulting fees from the financial services company MBNA from 2001 to 2005 — while his father, then a senator, was pushing successfully for legislation that would make it harder for consumers to file for bankruptcy protection.

The precise amount of the payments was unclear, but a company official once said Hunter Biden was receiving at least a $100,000 per year retainer, the Times reported. Hunter Biden, now 49, previously had been an executive at MBNA beginning in 1996, but the consulting fees came years after his departure from the company as a full-time employee.

Aides to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama at the time denied that any lobbying had occurred, and insisted the payments were proper. However, that explanation was immediately treated with skepticism. The Trump campaign recently posted a contemporaneous interview in which an incredulous Tom Brokaw asked Joe Biden whether it was "inappropriate" for the then-senator to have his son "collecting money from this big credit card company while you were on the [Senate] floor protecting its interests."

Hunter Biden's previous work as an executive at MBNA from 1996 to 1998 also has raised what critics called red flags.

Rachel Mullen, a former senior personal banking officer at MBNA from 1994-2001 who later went into Republican politics, tweeted that managers referred to the younger Biden as "Senator MBNA" after he was hired into a lucrative management-prep track right after he graduated from Yale Law School.

An MBNA source who previously worked at the company told Fox News that other employees heard Hunter Biden boasting that his salary was unusually high, even for the management-prep track — which was widely seen in the company as a way to groom and pamper well-connected executive candidates with powerful family members.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Somersworth, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Somersworth, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) 
The source said Biden's "Senator MBNA" nickname was not politically motivated, but rather reflected a widely held belief among managers – who did not work directly with Biden – that he essentially was engaged in lobbying.

The Bidens' connections with MBNA apparently ran deep. In a January 2008 article entitled "The Senator from MBNA," columnist Byron York recounted how then-MBNA vice chairman John Cochran paid "top dollar" for Joe Biden's home in February 1996, just prior to his Senate reelection bid, and that "MBNA gave Cochran a lot of money – $330,000– to help with 'expenses' related to the move."

The $1.2M sale was a "pretty darned good deal for Biden," York wrote, noting that "Cochran simply paid Biden’s full asking price" even though the "house needed quite a bit of work; contractors and their trucks descended on the house for months after the purchase."

Asked how Cochran and Biden found each other for the sale, an MBNA spokesperson told York: "That’s a very personal question."

Aside from MBNA during this period, the younger Biden worked at a lobbying firm and served on the board of Amtrak -- a prestigious role he apparently obtained through his connections, although Democrats claimed he deserved the post because he traveled regularly on trains.

"Hunter Biden has spent a lot of time on Amtrak trains. Like his father, like our congressman, Mike Castle, and myself, Hunter Biden has lived in Delaware while using Amtrak to commute to his job as we commute to our job in Washington almost every day of the week," Democratic Delaware Sen. Tom Carper said at a hearing on Biden's nomination to the Amtrak board in June 2006. "You know, you learn a lot about what could work and what would work better at Amtrak by riding trains and talking to the passengers, the commuters, the passengers, the folks who work on the trains and make them work every day."

Navy expulsion

In 2014, Hunter was kicked out of the military after testing positive for cocaine. The Navy said that Biden, a former lobbyist who worked at a private equity firm, was discharged barely a year after he was selected for his part-time position as a public affairs officer in the Navy Reserve.

Two people familiar with the situation quickly told the media that Biden was discharged because he failed a drug test in 2013. The Wall Street Journal first reported Biden’s discharge and failed drug test.


An attorney by training, Biden applied to join the Navy Reserve as a public affairs officer and was selected in 2012 — one of seven candidates recommended for a direct commission for public affairs. A board of senior Navy officers interviewed Biden before making the recommendation.

Photo exclusively obtained by Fox News shows Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and Devon Archer golfing. The elder Biden has denied discussing his overseas business dealings with his son.
Photo exclusively obtained by Fox News shows Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and Devon Archer golfing. The elder Biden has denied discussing his overseas business dealings with his son. 
Because he was 42 at the time, he needed a special waiver to be accepted. Cmdr. Ryan Perry, a spokesman for the Navy, said Biden had been assigned to the Navy Public Affairs Support Element East, based in Norfolk, Va.


Hunter Biden and and his friend Devon Archer joined the natural gas company Burisma Holdings board in April 2014. Biden apparently cannot speak Ukrainian and had no relevant natural gas experience.

Joe Biden has acknowledged on camera that in spring 2016, when he was vice president and spearheading the Obama administration's Ukraine policy, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire top prosecutor Viktor Shokin. At the time, Shokin was investigating the notoriously corrupt Burisma Holdings — where Hunter's role was especially lucrative. The vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if Shokin was not fired.

"Well, son of a b---h, he got fired," Biden joked at a panel two years after leaving office. Shokin himself had already been widely accused of corruption.


Critics alleged Hunter Biden might have been selling access to his father, who had pushed Ukraine to increase its natural gas production.

Government officials have raised similar concerns. During the House impeachment proceedings, a career State Department employee testified that he had flagged Hunter Biden's apparent conflict of interest, but was told essentially not to bother the vice president's office.

"Impossible to justify $50k/month for Hunter Biden serving on a Ukrainian energy board w zero expertise unless he promised to sell access," political scientist Ian Bremmer previously tweeted.

Joe Biden has said he never discussed his son's overseas business dealings -- an assertion seemingly contradicted by both his son and a photo exclusively obtained by Fox News.

“I know I did nothing wrong at all. Was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is a swamp in many ways? Yeah," Hunter Biden said in an exclusive sit-down with ABC's Amy Robach at his Los Angeles home last October.


He acknowledged he may not have gotten the job were it not for his connections to the vice presidency.

In the ABC News report last year which also delved into the Bidens' China dealings, journalist Tom Llamas called it "strange" that Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings, widely accused of corruption, had appointed Hunter Biden to its board of directors -- and agreed to pay Hunter Biden's company "more than a million dollars a year."

"Hunter -- a lawyer, who had just been discharged from the Navy Reserves for testing positive for cocaine," Llamas says incredulously. "He had served on other boards, but had no known experience in Ukraine or natural gas."

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department complied with a Senate inquiry into the younger Biden's business dealings in Ukraine and reportedly handed over highly sensitive financial records and "evidence of questionable origin."


Top Republican senators recently requested travel records from the Secret Service that might shed light on Hunter Biden's dealings in China, which Trump has long said merit a state investigation.

Much of the focus concerns Biden's position as one of nine directors at BHR -- a private-equity company controlled by Chinese government-backed stakeholders. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said the arrangement raised red flags.

Hunter Biden on Oct. 11, 2012, waiting for the start of the his father's, Vice President Joe Biden's, debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Hunter Biden on Oct. 11, 2012, waiting for the start of the his father's, Vice President Joe Biden's, debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) 
"In December of 2013, one month after Rosemont Seneca's joint venture with Bohai Capital to form BHR, Hunter Biden reportedly flew aboard Air Force Two with then-Vice President Biden to China," the senators wrote. "While in China, he helped arrange for Jonathan Li, CEO of Bohai Capital, to 'shake hands' with Vice President Biden."

"Afterward," they continued, "Hunter Biden met with Li for reportedly a 'social meeting.' After the China trip, BHR's business license was approved.

Then, in 2015, BHR joined with Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to acquire Henniges, which was the 'biggest Chinese investment into U.S. automotive manufacturing assets to date.'"

The senators also sought travel records relating to Biden's trips to Ukraine, if any.

Last year, Biden stepped down from the board of BHR and said he wouldn't take similar roles if his father won the presidency. The Wall Street Journal reported that BHR Partners filings show that while Hunter was a director of BHR since its founding, he didn't become a shareholder until October 2017.

Trump has specifically accused Biden of walking "out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund.” The Journal reported in 2014 that BHR was trying to raise that much money to invest outside of China, but it's otherwise unclear what the president was referencing.


In January of this year Hunter Biden agreed to pay monthly child support retroactive to November 2018, ending a standoff that began after the judge in his Arkansas paternity case ordered him to appear in person for a hearing to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt.

Biden had previously denied paternity, before a DNA test proved otherwise.


The court redacted the amount of child support that Biden agreed to pay, pursuant to his agreement with plaintiff Lunden Alexis Roberts, who alleged Biden was an entirely absent father.

However, Independence County Circuit Court Judge Holly Meyer noted that she "lacks sufficient information" to determine the appropriate amount of "permanent" child support "based off the defendant's income," and that modifications to the child support owed each month could be made based on additional evidence.

Contempt proceedings over Biden's repeated failure to turn over relevant financial documents have been delayed until March 1, giving Biden an opportunity to resolve the issue in the meantime by providing the information.

"The Court specifically reserves the right to retroactively amend or modify child support without the need for the filing of a proper motion by either party to modify support," the judge wrote. "If the evidence indicates that the defendant should have paid more in support than the amount set forth in this Order, the Court may order that he pay an additional amount after receiving credit for the amount he has paid."


The paternity dispute has presented headaches for the elder Biden ever since a court filing showed that DNA results indicated he was now a grandfather. Joe Biden tangled with a Fox News reporter on camera when asked about that development last November.
"No one has said my son has done anything wrong."
— Joe Biden
"I'm wondering if you have a comment on this report, and court filing, out of Arkansas, that your son Hunter just made you a grandfather again," Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked.

"No, that’s a private matter and I have no comment," Biden fired back before attacking the reporter.

"Only you would ask that," Biden said. "You're a good man. You're a good man. Classy."

Campaigning late last year, Biden has also lashed out at voters -- even appearing to call one man "fat" for bringing up issues with his son's possible corruption and questioning his fitness for office.

“You’re a damn liar, man," Biden said. “Let’s do push-ups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test. ... No one has said my son has done anything wrong."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gregg Re


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'Three Chiefs of Staff selling Israel to its enemies' - Mordechai Sones

by Mordechai Sones

Transport Minister blasts Blue and White intent to form government with Joint Arab List: 'Their hatred of Netanyahu has driven them insane.'

Odeh, Tibi
Odeh, Tibi                                                                                                                                                               Flash 90

Transport Minister Betzalel Smotrich today blasted the Blue and White initiative to form a minority government together with the Joint Arab List.

"Just as terror is not borne of despair but from hope, so does the high turnout for the Joint Terrorist List come not because anyone attacked them but because irresponsible people give them hope to be the ones upon whom all depend to run the State," said Smotrich.

Smotrich explains: "The contempt, arrogance, and nationalist defiance they've been demonstrating in recent days prove this. And that's a threat to the Jewish and Zionist vision of the State, no less.
"And this is being committed by three Chiefs of Staff, two Hausers and Hendels, and one Evet Liberman. People whose hatred of Netanyahu drove them insane and they're willing to sell the State of Israel to its enemies just to get the Prime Minister out of his chair. It's sad, shameful, and dangerous."

Betzalel Smotrich                                                                                                                   Flash 90
Environment Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) said a Gantz and Ya'alon government with the Arab Knesset Members would not hold: "If there is a bloc that includes Tibi and Yazbak and the Joint Arab List in advance, and everything that Ya'alon and Gantz told the voter was false - then they'll form a government. We're not giving up, this is a government that'll fall apart in two days and the Israeli public will punish anyone who takes part in it."

Regarding intentions of Blue and White and the Arabs to promote a law to prevent a Knesset Member under indictment from being allowed to form a government, Elkin said: "I don't think it'll pass judicial review. Because basically they're saying to the citizens - you went to elections, you voted for Netanyahu, and now we're stealing this vote from you."

Zeev Elkin                                                                                                    Hadas Parush/Flash90
Mordechai Sones


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DoD Linguist Arrested, Charged With Espionage For Sharing Identities Of US Spies With Hezbollah - Adam Goldman and Julian E. Barnes

by Adam Goldman and Julian E. Barnes

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-charles Bensoussan

Prosecutors said a contractor shared the names of informants — among the government’s most closely held secrets — to a Lebanese man with ties to an Iran-backed group.

A Minnesota woman who worked as a translator for the military in Iraq was charged on Wednesday with providing highly classified information to an Iran-backed militia group. Prosecutors said she intensified her espionage as tensions between the United States and Iran increased in recent months.

Prosecutors said the contractor, Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, revealed to a Lebanese man with ties to Hezbollah the names of foreign informants and details of the information they provided to the United States. The identities of such informants are among the government’s most closely held secrets, and law enforcement officials said Ms. Thompson endangered the lives of the sources as well as those of military personnel.

The officials suggested that the potential loss of classified information was grave and that the prosecution was one of the most serious recent counterintelligence cases they had seen. Several top national security prosecutors as well as the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Timothy Shea, appeared in court on Wednesday as Ms. Thompson made an initial appearance before a judge, demonstrating the importance of the case.

“If true, this conduct is a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the United States military,” John C. Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement. “This betrayal of country and colleagues will be punished.”

The recruitment of a military contractor with access to such important secrets shows the strength of the intelligence operations of Iran and its proxy forces. American officials have long warned that Tehran’s intelligence work should not be underestimated.

In interviews with the F.B.I., Ms. Thompson admitted to investigators that she illegally shared classified information with the Lebanese official, according to court papers. Ms. Thompson appeared in court dressed in a red cardigan, her gray-streaked hair in a bun, but was not shackled. The judge ordered her held until a detention hearing on March 11.

She faces three charges of violating espionage laws. Under the statute, she could face up to life in prison and possibly the death penalty if the information she revealed led to the death of any of the informants.

Ms. Thompson was living in Erbil, Iraq, working on contract as a linguist. As tensions between the United States and Iran increased in the final days of December, investigators discovered, Ms. Thompson’s activity on classified systems did as well. For the next six weeks, she accessed secret government files that contained the true names and photographs of American intelligence sources and government cables that outlined the information they provided to their handlers.

Ms. Thompson’s purported espionage was discovered Dec. 30, days after American airstrikes on Hezbollah’s Iraqi arm and shortly before the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran in a Jan. 3 drone attack that was a serious escalation of President Trump’s growing confrontation with Iran.

The suspected leaks of classified information came at a critical time when Iranian proxy forces, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, were looking for ways to retaliate for the killing of General Suleimani, the architect of nearly every significant operation by Iranian intelligence and military forces over the past two decades.

Investigators searched Ms. Thompson’s living quarters on Feb. 19 and discovered a handwritten note under her mattress listing the names of informants. The note, written in Arabic, also included a warning to a military target affiliated with Hezbollah whom prosecutors did not name and a request for the informants’ phones to be monitored.

Ms. Thompson told investigators that she provided classified information by memorizing it, writing it down, then showing the note to the Lebanese man when they spoke by video chat on her mobile phone.

The man took a screenshot of their video chat that showed her displaying a handwritten note with the name of two informants, court papers showed. Investigators also found pictures of the Lebanese Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, on the man’s phone.

The disclosures by Ms. Thompson did not affect the timing of the drone strike on General Suleimani, suggesting that he was not the target that she provided information about to the man. According to government documents, Ms. Thompson had “a romantic interest” in the Lebanese man with whom she shared the classified secrets.

The man’s nephew worked for the Lebanese government’s interior ministry, according to court documents released Wednesday. While the current minister of the interior is not a member of Hezbollah, he has good relations with the group. Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, and the United States considers it a terrorist organization.

The American military has taken steps to protect the informants whose identities Ms. Thompson revealed, according to a government official. It was unclear why their identifying information was accessible to her, raising questions about whether the military took adequate steps to protect the sources who risked their lives to work for the United States.

Former law enforcement and intelligence officials expressed surprise at the ease with which Ms. Thompson managed to gather details about informants, noting that the F.B.I. and C.I.A. make such information about their own sources extremely difficult to access.

Prosecutors did not disclose the relative importance of the informants, but even low-level sources are critical to the United States in understanding the activities and plans of Iranian proxy groups. If Ms. Thompson’s disclosures compromised that network, it could complicate the military’s ability to protect its forces and stop attacks.

The Pentagon pledged to cooperate with the Justice Department during its investigation, said a spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah. She said military officials were “taking all necessary precautions, including the protection of U.S. forces.”

The charges against Ms. Thompson were the latest in a string of espionage cases as the government doubled down on its counterintelligence focus, seeking to stop the flow of American secrets overseas.

A little over a year ago, the government charged a former Air Force counterintelligence agent, Monica Elfriede Witt, with sharing secrets with the government of Iran, including the names of agents run by military intelligence whose covers were blown and the identities of her former co-workers.

Ms. Witt defected to Iran and remains beyond the reach of law enforcement officials.
But the government has brought to trial a number of other former intelligence officers, some of whom were charged with spying for China.

In November, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a former C.I.A. officer, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for conspiring to deliver classified information to China. His disclosures occurred around the time that the C.I.A.’s informant network in China was collapsing, though prosecutors did not accuse him of involvement in the destruction of the spy network.

In May, another former C.I.A. officer, Kevin Patrick Mallory, was sentenced to 20 years after he was charged with spying for China. Mr. Mallory was accused of providing Beijing the names of sources who had helped the American government.

A third China case involved a contractor for the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ron Rockwell Hansen, who was sentenced in September to 10 years in prison.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

Adam Goldman and Julian E. Barnes


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