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China’s President Xi Jinping Vows To Bolster National Security In First Speech Of New Term 

China’s president, Xi Jinping, recently made his first speech as a third-term president in which he vowed to bolster China’s national security and build the military into a “great wall of steel.”

Xi spoke at the closing of China’s annual rubber-stamp parliament meeting regarding the need to “modernize” China’s national defense and military. 

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“We must build the People’s Liberation Army into a great wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security, and development interests.”

Xi was unanimously endorsed by the NPC as China’s president for another five years, making him the longest serving head of state of Communist China since it was founded in 1949. 

“This is my third time assuming the lofty position as president. The trust of the people is the biggest driving force for me to move forward, and also a heavy responsibility on my shoulders,” he said, as reported by CNN.

“China’s suffering at the hands of bullying foreign powers in the modern era, the Communist Party has led the country to wipe clean the national humiliation. The Chinese people have become the masters of their own destiny. The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process,”  he said.

According to Xi the “essence of that rejuvenation is national unification, namely reunifying Taiwan with mainland China.”

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Despite China never controlling Taiwan, it considers the self-governing democracy as part of its territory. 

During his presidency, Xi has ramped up economic, diplomatic, and military pressure on Taiwan’s Democracy with Beijing. 

“We must… actively promote peaceful development of cross-strait relations, firmly oppose interference of external forces and Taiwan’s separatist activities, and resolutely advance the process of national reunification,” Xi said.

“Security is the foundation for development, stability is the prerequisite for prosperity,” he said.

The focus of strengthening China’s military also follows tensions between the nation and the US. Xi even accused the US of “leading Western countries to contain and suppress China and bring it unprecedented severe challenges. 

Qin Gang, Xi’s new foreign minister, also warned that China and the US will “descend into conflict and confrontation,” if the US doesn’t “hit the breaks.” 

us ukraine

Ukraine President Zelensky Heads To White House To Strengthen Defense Against Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is taking his first overseas trip since Russia initially invaded Ukraine to meet with President Joe Biden regarding further defense against Russian missile and drone attacks.

war

Putin Declares Martial Law in Four Annexed Ukrainian Regions

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law in four regions of Ukraine that Moscow annexed last month in a violation of international law. The order will allow authorities to impose curfews, imprison undocumented immigrants, establish checkpoints, detain people for up to 30 days and enforce other “security” measures.

Putin said his order will be effective starting Thursday. His decree gives law enforcement agencies three days to submit specific proposals to enforce the security plan. It also mandates the creation of territorial defense forces, a type of civilian militia, in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, the four annexed regions Russia does not fully control.

“We are working to solve very difficult large-scale tasks to ensure Russia’s security and safe future, to protect our people. Those who are on the front lines or undergoing training at firing ranges and training centers should feel our support and know that they have our big, great country and unified people behind their back.”

The upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, promptly and unanimously confirmed Putin’s declaration. The decree will also bestow regional governors in areas of Russia with more power to “ensure security,” signaling more restrictive measures to come throughout Russia.

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The third paragraph of the martial law order states, “if necessary, other measures provided for by the Federal Constitutional Law of January 30, 2002, No. 1-FKZ ‘on martial law’ may be applied in the Russian Federation during the period of martial law.”

For the Russian people, this decree could impose restrictions on travel and public gatherings, suspend activities of political parties, public organizations and religious groups, tighten censorship, and strengthen the hold of law enforcement agencies on the population. Putin also wants to establish a coordination committee to increase communications and collaboration between government agencies as the country continues its violent invasion of Ukraine.

Putin has been dealing with growing unrest at home after the “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens to sustain what he still labels a “special military operation.” Protests have erupted all over Russia, and upward of 200,000 citizens have left the country to evade the draft. Military draft offices have been set on fire, and an anti-war sentiment is spreading inside Russian borders. According to a Russian official, authorities have tightened security around the offices due to the increased attacks.

As of Tuesday, around half of Russia’s regions had fulfilled their draft quota. Last Friday, Putin said he assumes “in two weeks all mobilizing measures will be over.”

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Mike Martin, a war studies visiting fellow at King’s College London, posted a series of tweets critiquing Putin’s decision to draft civilians.

“In reality, the mobilization was having greater effects on negative political stability at home than it was ever going to have in positive term (for the Russians) on the battlefield. And we’ve already seen some of those mobilized civilians dying on the battlefield in Ukraine … with no training … a criminal pointless waste of life.”

It is the first time the Kremlin has declared martial law since World War II.

On Wednesday, Putin also signed an order instituting wartime measures in regions bordering Ukraine, such as Crimea, Belgorod, Voronezh, Kursk, Rostov and three others. The areas have been critical strategic locations for Russia’s assault on Ukraine but have come under Ukrainian fire in recent weeks.

The order will allow for economic mobilization in these regions, restricting movement in and out of the territories, temporarily resettling residents, tightening public order in critical facilities, and introducing a special mode of operating transport, energy facilities, and communication systems. Authorities will also be given control “over the operation of printing houses, computer centers and automated systems, and the use of their work for defense needs.”

Many of the provisions of the laws signed on Wednesday are nebulous, giving the state additional flexibility in enforcing additional measures.

If China Invades Taiwan, Biden Confirms U.S. Military Would Intervene

While United States government officials already have set opinions on how to proceed in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, it appears not everyone is on the same page. On Monday, President Joe Biden stated that if such a situation developed, the U.S. would intervene military.

Biden gave his remarks during a joint press conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida when asked if the U.S. would go further to help Taiwan in an invasion than it did with Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

“Yes. That’s the commitment we made,” Biden stated. “We agree with the One China policy. We signed on to it, and all the attendant agreements made from there, but the idea that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is [just not] appropriate.”

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Biden gave further thoughts on the rising tensions between the two territories, saying a conflict would dislocate the entire region, similar to how Russia’s attacks have had shockwaves throughout Europe. Biden also stated that China is “already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the maneuvers they’re undertaking.”

However, the White House downplayed his statements, saying they don’t reflect a change in policy. It’s the third time in past months Biden has made a comment about Taiwan protection, only for the White House to give opposing views.

“As the President said, our policy has not changed. He reiterated our One China policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”

According to the One China policy, the U.S. recognizes China’s position that there is only one Chinese government and that Taiwan is a part of China, but the U.S. hasn’t recognized the country’s claim to the self-governing island. China, meanwhile, believes a reunification between Taiwan and the mainland is a necessity – one that would likely take an armed conflict to make happen.

According to administration aides speaking to CNN, several of Biden’s top administration officials were caught off caught by his remarks. Biden running off-script and giving unexpected statements has become a running occurence in recent weeks. In late April, the President said that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power,” causing a media stir. The White House and allies backtracked those claims afterwards.

Responding to Biden’s comments, China expressed its “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition,” noting it would not allow any external force to interfere with its internal affairs. Speaking to reporters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stated that Taiwan is an “inalienable part of China’s territory.”

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“On issues touching on China’s core interests of sovereignty and territorial integrity, China has no room for compromise or concession,” Wenbin said. “No one should underestimate the firm resolve, staunch will and strong ability of the Chinese people in defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

As CNN noted, the U.S. has supplied Taiwan with defensive weapons, similar to the help it has given Ukraine throughout the Russian invasion that is now in its third month. Taiwan — which consists of a population of over 23 million — would certainly need help in a conflict.

China’s armed forces dwarf any potential resistance thanks to its expected 2022 spending of 1.45 trillion yuan ($230.16 billion USD) on defense. In terms of activity duty personnel, China possesses around 2 million while Taiwan boasts just 163,000.

Meteor

US Military Records Confirm An Interstellar Meteor Collided With Earth In 2014

According to a recently released document from the United States Space Command, researchers discovered an interstellar meteor hit Earth in 2014. An interstellar meteor is a space rock that originated from outside of our solar system, making it extremely rare for any of them to make contact with our planet. 

CNEOS 2014-01-08 is the name of the meteor that crashed along the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea on January 8th, 2014 (hence the numbers in the name).

Amir Siraj identified the object as an interstellar meteor in 2019 when he co authored a study as an undergraduate at Harvard University. Initially, Siraj was investigating “Oumuamua,” the first known interstellar object in our solar system that was found in 2017. 

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Siraj was performing the study with Harvard professor of science Abraham Loeb. Siraj was going through NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies database to potentially find other interstellar objects and was able to find the 2014 meteor within days. 

Siraj was able to conclude that the object was indeed an interstellar meteor based on the high velocity of it when it hit Earth. The meteor was moving at a high speed of 28 miles per second, for reference the Earth is currently moving around the sun at a speed of 18.6 miles per second. 

After mapping out the meteor’s trajectory, Siraj found that at its highest speed, the meteor was moving at about 37.3 miles per second in relation to the sun. He used this to determine that the meteor was in an unbound orbit before crashing into Earth, meaning it came from outside our solar system. 

“Presumably, it was produced by another star, got kicked out of that star’s planetary system and just so happened to make its way to our solar system and collide with Earth.”

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John Shaw, deputy commander of the US Space Command, which is part of the US Department of Defense, was able to confirm that the object was in fact an interstellar meteor after reviewing the findings in the study.

“Dr. Joel Mozer, the Chief Scientist of Space Operations Command, the United States Space Force service component of U.S. Space Command, reviewed analysis of additional data available to the Department of Defense related to this finding. Dr. Mozer confirmed that the velocity estimate reported to NASA is sufficiently accurate to indicate an interstellar trajectory,” wrote Shaw.

Initially, Siraj and Loeb weren’t able to get their findings published or confirmed from NASA due to the database it came from. So much time had passed since they contacted NASA for confirmation, that Siraj even moved on to other studies so he wouldn’t get his hopes up to high. 

“I thought that we would never learn the true nature of this meteor, that it was just blocked somewhere in the government after our many tries, and so actually seeing that letter from the Department of Defense with my eyes was a really incredible moment,” Siraj said.

Now that Loeb and Siraj have their confirmation, their team is working to resubmit all their findings for publication to explain in greater detail the significance of this discovery.

World Military Spending Hits $2 Trillion For First Time In History 

In 2021, global military spending hit an all-time high of $2 trillion, according to a report from a leading defense think-tank in Sweden. This also marks the seventh consecutive year that collective spending on the military has increased from the previous year. 

Zelenskyy Pleads To Congress For More Aid In Address As Biden Issues $800 Million Package

For Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, attire is no longer a concern. His people are, and he’s doing everything he can to gain additional support from the West. Sitting in his frequent simple army green T-shirt, Zelenskyy pleaded with the U.S. Congress on Wednesday for more measures to help stop Russia’s invasion.

Among the requests communicated over livestream include the urging of a no-fly zone over Ukraine, an action that the U.S. and NATO have strongly opposed due to its potential to escalate the conflict onto a greater, worldwide scale.

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“This is a terror that Europe has not seen for 80 years and we are looking for a reply, for an answer, to this terror, from the whole world. Is this a lot to ask for? To create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people, is that too much to ask?” Zelenskyy posed.

Zelenskyy proposed an alternative action that would see fighter jets defending Ukrainian air from Russian attacks, but the Biden administration has also previously ruled out military intervention or the transferring of MiG fighters from Poland for the same reasons as a no-fly zone.

“Aircraft, powerful, strong aviation to protect our people, our freedom, our land. Aircraft that can help Ukraine. You know that they exist, that you have them, but they are on the Earth, not in the Ukrainian sky. They do not defend our people.”

An installation would push boundaries never broken before. As The Conversation notes, it would be the first time the U.S. has ever imposed a no-fly zone during an international conflict, and the first time a world power like Russia has ever been subjected to one.

While governments may feel no-fly zones wouldn’t be worth the risk, citizens disagree. According to a Reuters poll conducted with 831 respondents, 74% of Americans — including majorities of Democrats and Republicans — said the U.S. and NATO should install no-fly zones. Meanwhile, 80% said the U.S. should stop buying Russian oil, and 81% said the U.S. should impose additional sanctions.

Following Zelenskyy’s address, President Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance, which includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles, a combined 6,900 arms including 100 grenade launchers, 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition, grenade launchers, and mortar rounds, and 25,000 in gear along with an unspecified amount of drones.

This brings the total amount of aid sent to Kyiv since Biden took office to $2 billion, and $1 billion in the past week. Despite this, U.S. lawmakers have become more and more frustrated with the country’s inability to properly assist Ukraine.

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Last week, Biden signed into law a massive spending bill that would see $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine. That amount includes $6.5 billion for the costs of sending troops and equipment to Eastern Europe, and $6.8 billion to care for refugees — which is now over three million — and to aid allies economically.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and its allies’ sanctions on Russia have proven to be effective. The ruble’s value is now down to 0.010 USD (though up from the past couple weeks), while the Institute of International Finance expects Russia’s economic output to fall by a third in 2022. Russia’s stock market hasn’t seen action in three weeks.

Zelenskyy thanked the U.S. for its care package. In order to relay the devastation Ukraine’s neighbor has caused, a slideshow of pictures showing exploding buildings, civilian casualties, and mass graves was presented. “Russia has attacked not just us, not just our land, not just our cities — it went on a brutal offensive against our values, basic human values,” Zelenskyy said.

Myanmar’s Deposed Civilian Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, Faces Two Years In Jail 

Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is currently facing two years in jail after her original sentence was halved by the country’s military this week. 

Previously, Suu Kyi was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of incitement and breaking Covid-19 rules. This marks the first verdict against the Nobel Peace Prize winner since the military seized power back in February. 

Suu Kyi, 76, was Myanmar’s state counselor and de facto leader of the country before she was ousted and detained by the military ten months ago and slammed with almost a dozen charges that when combined added up to a maximum sentence of 100 years. 

According to media reports, several of the charges involved corruption, which each carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, violating Covid-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign, incitement, illegally importing and possessing walkie talkies, and breaking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act — which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.”

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Suu Kyi has rejected all allegations and her supporters are claiming that the charges against her are political. The Zabuthiri Court in Naypyidaw initially sentences Suu Kyi to two years in prison after they found her guilty of incitement, and two years after being found guilty of violating section 25 of Disaster Management Law. The military later cut down both sentences to one year. 

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said in a statement, “the farcical and corrupt decision is part of a devastating pattern of arbitrary punishment.”

“The harsh sentences handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these bogus charges are the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar.”

“There are many detainees without the profile of Aung San Suu Kyi who currently face the terrifying prospect of years behind bars simply for peacefully exercising their human rights. They must not be forgotten and left to their fate,” Yu Hah expressed. 

More than 1,300 people have been killed by Myanmar security forces since the initial coup, and more than 10,000 individuals have been arrested according to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 

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The United Nations Security Council called for an immediate cessation of violence across Myanmar as troops continued to increase tension and hostility towards civilian militias. Nationwide protests against the junta troops have been occurring since the coup, and all have been met with brutal crackdowns and media suppression. 

“As violence escalates, displacing tens of thousands of people and setting up a humanitarian crisis in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, the situation in Myanmar today is alarming in the extreme. Without a decisive, unified and swift international response this can and will get worse.”

The verdict came one day after security forces entered into a protest in the city of Yangon. At least five people were killed due to a vehicle plowing through anti-junta protesters. One reporter who witnessed the incident told media outlets that it was a military vehicle that rammed through demonstrators. 

According to a statement from Myanmar’s military, eleven protesters were arrested, including two men and one woman who were injured. The statement from the military did not acknowledge the reported deaths or vehicle attack. 

The UN in Myanmar condemned the incident slamming the “reported attack on a number of unarmed civilians in Kyimyindaing Township, Yangon, in which a vehicle belonging to security forces rammed into protesters who were then fired upon with live ammunition leading to deaths and injuries to numerous people.”

US and Iran Conflict

Facebook Claims Hackers In Iran Used Platform To Target US Military Personnel 

Facebook announced last week that it had removed 200 accounts that they discovered were run by a group of hackers based in Iran as a part of a larger cyber-spying operation mainly targeting US military personnel and people working at defense and aerospace companies. 

The group is known as “Tortoiseshell” to security experts, and they all used fake online profiles to connect with individuals in the military, build personal connections and drive them to other sites where they would be tricked into clicking links that would infect their systems with spying malware. Some of the conversations between the hackers and personnel would go on for months to really establish that trust.

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“This activity had the hallmarks of a well-resourced and persistent operation, while relying on relatively strong operational security measures to hide who’s behind it,” Facebook’s investigations team said in a blogpost.

“The group made fictitious profiles across multiple social media platforms to appear more credible, often posing as recruiters or employees of aerospace and defense companies”

Facebook’s team claimed that the group used email, messaging, and collaboration services to distribute the malware. A spokesperson for Microsoft, which was also involved in the cyberattack, claimed that they have been made aware of the hacking and would be taking extra measures to prevent something like this from happening in the future. 

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“The hackers also used tailored domains to attract its targets, including fake recruiting websites for defense companies, and it set up online infrastructure that spoofed a legitimate job search website for the US Department of Labor.”

Facebook claimed the hackers mainly were targeting individuals in the US, and a few others in the UK and Europe in general. The campaign has been running since 2020, and has supposedly impacted around 200 individuals.

“The campaign appeared to show an expansion of the group’s activity, which had previously been reported to concentrate mostly on the IT and other industries in the Middle East. Our investigation found that a portion of the malware used by the group was developed by Mahak Rayan Afraz, an IT company based in Tehran with ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Facebook said. 

Facebook claimed that it has now blocked the malicious domains that it knows of from being shared, and Google is also taking steps to make sure all domains are blocked.

Military Silhouettes

Oregon Attorney General Calls Out Federal Agents ‘Blatant Abuse’ Towards Protesters

Protests against police brutality/in solidarity with Black Lives Matter have been occurring throughout the world ever since George Floyd’s untimely death at the hands of Minneapolis Police in May. While these protests have all remained relatively peaceful, there are countless examples of police/military forces coming in and acting extremely violent towards these protesters who are expressing their first amendment right. 

Portland, Oregon has now become a spot of experimentation for how violent these forces can get, as Trump and his administration have deployed militarized federal agents into the city to put a stop to the protests. The breaking point for Portland specifically occurred after police claimed that protesters broke into the Portland Police Association building and set it on fire. 

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In one video posted on Twitter this week, a reporter records as a man who is repeatedly beaten by multiple federal officers for simply standing still in the middle of the road. Tear gas and the sounds of explosions echo in the background, a setting that has become all too familiar at these protests that all remain peaceful until outside forces get involved.

“We have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And … they are sharply escalating the situation. Their presence is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism,” one protester claimed. 

Even more disturbing in Portland, and other parts of the US as well, there have been multiple reports of federal agents driving through the city in unmarked vehicles, picking up protesters from the streets without any explanation or reading of Miranda rights. Many of these agents don’t even have professional credentials, and are reportedly just men dressed in camouflage with “police” patches on. 

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One protester recounted the gruesome scenes in Portland as she discussed the goals of these protests, and how much more passionate the crowds are becoming as a response to the government’s violent actions towards its own citizens.

“We can talk about defunding the police, but it’s more than that. We need to defund Ice [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], we need to demilitarize our border. There’s so much that’s wrapped up in this.”

On Sunday Trump responded by tweeting how he wants to help Portland and protecting “Federal property and our people” is his number one priority. However, the mayor of Portland even called out these federal officers and Trump, claiming that the “president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect.”

Governor Kate Brown also recently spoke out against the president’s actions within her state, claiming that Trump is guilty of a “blatant abuse of power by the federal government.” Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum went as far as filing a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Homeland Security, Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protection Service. Within the lawsuit Rosenblum is making a similar claim to Brown’s, and is suing on the grounds of federal agents violating state citizen’s right to peacefully protest as well as their due process rights; as many citizens are continuously ripped off the streets and “arrested.”