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War Of The Roses
Substack Daily Dose 11/8/2023
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The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) on Wednesday issued a red alert to the financial sector warning that Russia was using gold to evade sanctions imposed after it invaded Ukraine.
The NCA said deliberate attempts were being made “to launder sanctioned gold to mask its origin so that it can be hidden in supply chains and sold in the UK and around the world”.
Gold exported from Russia since July 2022 is “increasingly being shipped to countries that do not apply sanctions on Russian gold,” said the agency, which tackles serious, organised and international crime.
It can then be melted down and recast or refined, hiding its origins.
As a result, the UK said on Wednesday that it had placed 29 new sanctions on “individuals and entities operating in and supporting Russia’s gold, oil and strategic sectors”.
Those targeted include a United Arab Emirates-based network that the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office says is responsible for channelling more than $300 million in gold revenues to Russia.
The UK has also sanctioned two of Russia’s largest gold producers, Nord Gold PLC and Highland Gold Mining Limited, along with Russian oligarchs Vladislav Sviblov and Konstantin Strukov.
Gold is a one of the largest income streams for Russia’s war effort after oil and gas, and was worth £12.6 billion ($15.5 billion) to the Russian economy in 2021.
“This alert will aid efforts, in partnership with the regulated sector, including the banks and high value dealers, to ensure that sanctioned individuals or those who represent them cannot use gold to circumvent UK sanctions,” said Adrian Searle, director of the National Economic Crime Centre at the NCA.
The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) accredits gold refineries around the world and sets the standards for what constitutes “London Good Delivery” gold — the de facto global standard.
LBMA accredited refineries account for up to 92 percent of annual global mined gold production.
Big Banks LAYING OFF tens of thousands of workers, including over 20,000 employees in the U.S. alone
Big Banks all over the world are breaking records after laying off tens of thousands of employees, including over 20,000 American workers.
Scotiabank, one of Canada's Big Five banks, announced recently that it is cutting about three percent of its global workforce due to changes to its operations and customers' preferences, along with continuing efforts to streamline operations. The reductions come to about 2,700 jobs, based on the Canadian bank's total personnel of 91,013 employees as of July 31.
The bank said in a statement on Oct. 18 that the restructuring charge, severance provisions and a write-down on an investment in a Chinese bank will total $590 million, or 49 cents a share. The restructuring charges also include the price of exiting real estate and other contracts.
The bank declared impairment charges of $280 million after taxes connected to the bank's investment in Bank of Xi'an Co. Ltd., whose market value has stayed below Scotiabank's carrying value for an extended period, in addition to weakness of specific intangible assets including software.
According to Royal Bank of Canada analyst Darko Mihelic, the expenses should not come as a surprise after a review of Scotiabank's strategic direction.
Five of the largest banks in the U.S. have reduced their workforce by over 20,000 this year
Meanwhile, the biggest American banks have been quietly laying off workers all year with some of the deepest cuts yet to come.
Even as the economy has surprised forecasters with its resilience, lenders have trimmed headcount or declared plans to do so, with the main exception being JPMorgan Chase, the largest and most profitable bank in the United States.
Pressured by the effect of higher interest rates on the mortgage business, Wall Street deal-making and funding costs, the next five largest U.S. banks have reduced a combined 20,000 positions so far this year, based on company filings.
The moves arrive after a two-year hiring boom during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by a rise in Wall Street activity.
That subsided after the Federal Reserve started increasing interest rates last year to cool an overheated economy, and banks discovered themselves suddenly overmanned for an environment in which fewer consumers asked for mortgages and fewer corporations released debt or bought competitors.
"Banks are cutting costs where they can because things are really uncertain next year," said Chris Marinac, research director at Janney Montgomery Scott.
Job losses in the financial industry could pressure the wider U.S. labor market in 2024.
Faced with surging defaults on corporate and consumer loans, lenders are poised to make deeper cuts next year, according to Marinac.
"They need to find levers to keep earnings from falling further and to free up money for provisions as more loans go bad. By the time we roll into January, you'll hear a lot of companies talking about this," Marinac added.
The deepest cutbacks have been at Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, institutions that are battling with revenue downturns in major businesses. They each have trimmed about five percent of their personnel so far this year.
At Wells Fargo, job cuts happened after the bank declared a strategic change away from the mortgage industry in January.
And although the bank reduced 50,000 employees in the past three years as part of CEO Charlie Scharf's cost-cutting plan, the company isn't done decreasing the number of staff, according to executives.
As stated by CFO Mike Santomassimo there are "very few parts of the company" that will be spared from cuts. "We still have additional opportunities to reduce headcount. Attrition has remained low, which will likely result in additional severance expense for actions in 2024," Santomassimo told analysts.
-Kevin Hughes, Natural News
President Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America, will hold a rally on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, in Hialeah, FL. The rally will take place at the Ted Hendricks Stadium at Henry Milander Park.
Rally speakers will deliver remarks at 5:00 p.m. ET before President Trump takes the stage at 7:00 p.m. ET.
RSBN will be LIVE with all-day coverage beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Three people were arrested for allegedly operating “sophisticated high-end brothels” in Virginia and Massachusetts that catered to high-powered clients, including elected officials and government contractors with security clearances, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday.
Han Lee, 41, of Cambridge, Mass.; James Lee, 68, of Torrance, Calif.; and Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham, Mass., were charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity, the DOJ said.
The interstate prostitution network included multiple brothels in Cambridge and Watertown, Mass., and just outside of Washington, D.C., in Fairfax and Tysons, Va., according to the DOJ. The brothels have allegedly been operational from at least July 2020.
The DOJ did not identify any of the high-powered clients the brothels allegedly served but said, “The investigation into the involvement of sex buyers is active and ongoing.”
“Over the course of the investigation, a wide array of buyers were identified, including, but not limited to, politicians, high tech and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, military officers, government contractors that possess security clearances, professors, lawyers, scientists and accountants,” the department said.
The DOJ detailed in a press release some of the steps the defendants allegedly took to maintain their high-end operation.
The department said the brothels were located in rented high-end apartment complexes with monthly rents as high as $3,664. The defendants allegedly coordinated airfare and travel for the women who participated in the brothels and permitted them to stay in the apartment complexes.
Websites purported to advertise nude Asian models for professional photography at upscale studios, the DOJ said, but that was “a front for prostitution offered through appointments with women listed on their websites.”
The DOJ detailed the alleged verification process that buyers had to undertake to become eligible for appointment bookings, including “requiring clients [to] complete a form providing their full names, email address, phone number, employer and reference if they had one.”
The department also described steps defendants allegedly took to conceal the source of fund transfers.
-Sarah Fortinsky, The Hill
Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Public - User: Matt Dugan
Matt Dugan, the Democratic candidate running for district attorney in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, lost his election bid despite receiving nearly $2 million of funding from megadonor George Soros, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Dugan first challenged incumbent District Attorney Stephen Zappala in the county’s May primary election, beating Zappala by 10 points after receiving $700,000 in funding from the Soros-funded Pennsylvania Justice and Public Safety Political Action Committee (PAC), according to the Post-Gazette. The PAC donated an additional $1.1 million to Dugan’s campaign between June and October, but Zappala managed to beat the Democratic challenger by 3 points despite his major loss just months earlier.
“We connected with a lot of voters,” Dugan said on Tuesday night, according to the Post-Gazette. “We just came up a little bit short.”
“I care deeply about criminal justice, I care deeply about Allegheny County, and there’s a space for me out there somewhere,” Dugan added. “I’ll tackle that tomorrow.”
Dugan ran on a platform of criminal justice reform and advocated for policies including eliminating cash bail, prosecuting fewer “low-level offenders” and shrinking the jail population, according to his campaign website. The candidate criticized Zappala for receiving funding from a Republican billionaire and argued that the incumbent district attorney had “betrayed” the values of Pennsylvania citizens with his criminal justice approach.
“The whole system is broken,” Dugan claimed in a campaign video. “For 23 years, we’ve had a prosecutor whose calling card was that he’s tough on crime. But as chief public defender, I’ve seen the failure of that approach nearly every single day. I’ve seen kids’ lives ruined for a mistake they thought was the only way out of a bad situation, while dangerous criminals are never brought to justice.”
Zappala has served as district attorney for Allegheny County since 1998 and has advocated for more police involvement in crime-ridden areas of downtown Pittsburgh, according to the Post-Gazette. He lost the 2023 Democratic primary in May but was nominated by the Republican Party as a write-in candidate.
Buta Biberaj, the incumbent district attorney of Loudoun County in Virginia whose campaign was also backed by Soros, lost her reelection bid on Tuesday as well. More Soros-funded district attorneys across the nation have come under fire as critics have claimed that their lenient approach toward crime has made cities less safe.
Dugan’s campaign said the candidate was taking some time off to “regroup” after the election and declined to comment further on the matter. Zappala’s campaign did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
-Lillian Tweten, Daily Caller
LISBON, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa kicked off talks with the main political parties on Wednesday to decide whether, or how soon, to call a snap election following the abrupt resignation of the Socialist prime minister.
Antonio Costa stepped down on Tuesday after prosecutors detained his chief of staff and named his infrastructure minister as a formal suspect in an investigation into alleged illegalities in his government's handling of lucrative lithium and hydrogen projects.
Prosecutors said Costa was also the target of a related probe. He has denied wrongdoing.
It is up to the conservative president to decide whether to allow the Socialist Party (PS), which has a parliamentary majority, to form a new or interim government, or to disband parliament and call an election.
His decision is expected on Thursday after he meets his consultative body, the Council of State.
He had warned Costa previously that his exit for any reason would trigger a snap election, and analysts see that as the most likely option, although he could choose to give more time to the PS to get next year's budget over the line in parliament.
The budget includes lower income tax rates for the middle class, higher wages and social benefits.
"Whatever the president decides, it's important that he takes into account this concern with the conclusion of the budget," said Ines de Sousa Real, head of the People-Animals-Nature (PAN) party with one house seat, after meeting the president.
She and several other left-leaning politicians urged the prosecutor's office to detail their suspicions or accusations in the case with grave political consequences, adding: "We see with concern the judicial power toppling a government."
Political scientist Paula Espirito Santo said Costa's resignation in the absence of any concrete accusations came as a surprise to all parties, who will struggle to prepare for an election, especially the PS that is yet to pick a new leader.
"They (parties) were not expecting to have to run so soon," she said.
Most political leaders, with the exception of the PS, have said they want a snap election but analysts note it may be in their interest to have it later rather than sooner as, with Costa gone, there are practically no household names among them.
After meeting Rebelo de Sousa, Socialists' president Carlos Cesar told reporters his party would rather be allowed to form a government under a new premier.
By law, an election needs to be held within 60 days of the publishing of the presidential decree dissolving parliament, so one option for the president would be to promise an early ballot but keep the decree on ice.
Cesar said that if the president decides to call the election, March would be the best timing. He added that regardless of what happens the final vote of the budget bill, scheduled for Nov. 29, should not be put at risk.
The main opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) is seen as the likely beneficiary of a snap election, but there are doubts whether it could win a full majority or even build enough support to form a stable government.
The PSD is still reeling from defeat in a January 2022 election that caused a leadership change.
Its new leader, 50-year-old Luis Montenegro, who had been largely out of the spotlight since resigning as a lawmaker in 2018, has so far struggled to gain momentum in opinion polls.
Montenegro said that if an election is called, the calendar should take into account that the PS still has to pick a new leader. He also said it was important for the Socialists to "clarify the advantages" of approving the budget before a possible election.
"If it is ... more useful to have a budget, even if it is not our budget... the PSD will not create any obstacles," he said. "Our purpose is not confrontation - we need to unite the country."
Montenegro's most heavyweight likely rival would be Pedro Nuno Santos of the PS, who analysts say Costa had been grooming as his successor.
He successfully coordinated support for a previous minority government with the far left in 2015-2019, but his resignation as infrastructure minister in December 2022 in a scandal around a severance payout by state-owned airline TAP has undermined his popularity.
Andre Ventura, the populist leader of the far-right, anti-establishment Chega - the third-largest force in parliament - could become a kingmaker for the centre-right PSD if it fails to clinch a majority, but Montenegro has so far ruled out any such alliance.
Rebelo de Sousa, a 74-year-old former law lecturer and political commentator, has used his constitutional power to disband parliament once before, in November 2021. Unlike now, Costa's government then had no parliamentary majority and had just had its budget rejected.
Additional reporting by Patricia Rua, Editing by Aislinn Laing, Nick Macfie and Andrea Ricci
-Catarina Demony and Andrei Khalip, Reuters
Biden admin removes 4 African nations from AGOA trade program for refusing to embrace leftist values like transgenderism
The Biden administration has decided to remove four African nations from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade program over "gross violations" of left-wing values packaged under the guise of "internationally recognized human rights."
President Joe Biden himself laid out this decision in an Oct. 30 letter addressed to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Vice President Kamala Harris, in her capacity as the president of the U.S. Senate. He wrote that Uganda, Niger, Gabon and the Central African Republic (CAR) should be excluded from the AGOA trade program starting on Jan. 1, 2024.
According to the chief executive, the CAR's government "has engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and has not established, or is not making continual progress toward establishing, the protection of internationally recognized worker rights, the rule of law, and political pluralism." For Niger and Gabon, Biden said both nations have failed to meet the "political pluralism and rule of law" criteria stipulated in the AGOA agreement. He also cited coups in both nations that have resulted in military leadership.
Meanwhile, Biden also pointed to Uganda's supposed failure to acknowledge and uphold "human rights." Earlier this year, Kampala passed a law that strictly limits and even criminalizes homosexuality. The CAR also has sanctions in place that forbid same-sex acts in public.
“Despite intensive engagement between the U.S. and the [four African nations], these countries have failed to address U.S. concerns about their non-compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria," Biden noted. However, the administration will continue to assess their eligibility to meet the requirements for potential reinstatement into the program.
AGOA trade program seeks to strengthen economic ties between sub-Saharan African countries and the U.S.
A Nov. 1 article by Reuters expounded on the AGOA trade program, which was established in 2000 under the leadership of former U.S. President Bill Clinton. According to the piece, it was established to strengthen economic ties with sub-Saharan African nations and foster their economic development.
AGOA, which was initially passed with a bipartisan consensus, has been renewed twice, enabling approximately 35 African countries to benefit from its provisions. The eligibility of African countries for AGOA is subject to a periodic review based on criteria including economic policies and the protection of human rights. So, participating nations can lose and regain eligibility, and this process is essential to maintaining the standards of the program.
The trade program has provided eligible African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for nearly 2,000 agricultural and manufactured products. The United States, while supporting African economic growth, has benefited from AGOA as well.
AGOA serves as a strategic tool to advance U.S. interests on the African continent, including provisions on denying eligibility to countries that undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. The U.S. lawmakers also consider AGOA a soft power toolkit to counter the growing influence of China in the region. In other words, the U.S. seeks to maintain its presence in the region by fostering economic development and strengthening trade relations with African nations.
The requirements for beneficiary status under AGOA include progress in maintaining a market-based economy, upholding the rule of law, political pluralism, the right to due process, and enacting policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption and protect human rights. However, the Biden administration still has the final say on whether countries are eligible for the benefits under AGOA.
-Laura Harris, Natural News
A wild story out of Ukraine claims the wife of the nation’s puppet President Volodymyr Zelensky is operating a sex trafficking network where displaced Ukrainian children are offered to known pedophiles worldwide.
As reported by TheIntelDrop.org, the whistleblower provided photos of Olena Zelenska Foundation documents and his personal work identification card to lend credibility to his accusations.
Olena Zelenska is Zelensky’s wife, who launched the foundation in New York City back in September 2022 alongside suspected human trafficker Hillary Clinton, celebrities Matt Damon, Jimmy Fallon, and others.
In the video uploaded by the alleged whistleblower, a man wearing a mask says he is speaking out to expose what’s happening within the Olena Zelenska Foundation based on his personal experience.
“So, here I am recording this video to tell you about what happened in Olena Zelenska’s Foundation when I worked there,” he tells the camera. “After I finish, I’ll send you this video via email together with the documents, all the facts of what had happened.”
“To start my story, it was here in France. I had a friend there who worked with different foundations. And he was the one who told me that there is a foundation that pays well in Ukraine, which offers good conditions. And so, I thought, why not?
“So, I contacted this foundation and then I prepared my documents and I went to Ukraine. When I came, I came to work there as a driver. They offered me this job and I signed the contract. Even the contract was something bizarre. There were clauses, for example, in the contract, that said we must not talk with children, we must not ask questions about host families, things like that. For me it was weird, but I thought, well, I’m a driver it’s not my business. I signed the contract. After signing the contract, I was given the pass. This one. Here’s the pass.”
Next, the man explains the job was “very simple” at first as he would take children from Ukrainian cities and bring them to orphanages in league with Olena Zelenska’s foundation.
-Kelen McBreen, Infowars
It’s an unfolding story worthy of a thrilling movie plot itself. You wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t real: the US government agency assigned to monitoring foreign terrorism and trafficking has disrupted a bank transaction by the producers of “Police State,” a film by released by filmmaker, Dinesh D’Souza, exposing an emerging authoritarian trend in America.
With its recent premiere, both online and in theaters across the US, Dinesh D’Souza’s chilling production digs into the deeply troubling evolution of an escalating police state targeting the common citizen; the unprecedented political persecution orchestrated under the Biden regime is uncloaked for all to see. Thousands eagerly tuned in – made possible by a partnership with Dan Bongino – as the true extent of this political downfall began to unfold.
Dinesh D’Souza paints a stark image of the America of today, describing it as “a scary place to live, a chilling take on the reality of a fast-approaching police state,” during a discussion with The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft.
At the Police State’s Mar-a-Lago premiere recently, Hoft shared his encounter with D’Souza. Afterwards, startling news revealed that the US Government had blocked a transaction to the Salem Media Group by the producers of “Police State.”
The revelation of the agency involved was even more shocking: the very same department that tracks terrorism and narcotics trafficking.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the US Department of the Treasury, had abruptly “intercepted” a $106,000 payment intended to purchase ads for D’Souza’s film, as he told Newsweek.
Engaging in such activities is no small inconvenience for D’Souza and his team. Although the Treasury Department remains silent on their actions, the delay has already begun to create waves and provide a real-time example of the content pointed out in the film.
The agency renowned for enforcing economic sanctions and monitoring assets primarily against terrorist cells and narcotics traffickers, The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), has taken an unprecedented interest in a local matter. On the latest concerning OFAC’s actions, D’Souza expresses his surprise at the censorship act against Police State: “Is this some kind of a bureaucratic police State tactic to tie up our funds without explanation?”
OFAC’s duties ordinarily concern foreign transactions, not such benign domestic affairs like film ad buys. In the face of OFAC’s unresponsiveness, Dinesh remained hopeful while expressing concern over possible censorship and financial disruption tactics used against his film. This incident vividly demonstrates an alarming reality where production money for a documentary on democratic values can get tangled in the webs usually reserved for criminal enterprises.
This story has a happier end, however. The seized funds were returned to D’Souza by late afternoon. Still, the shockwave of this seemingly arbitrary act of alleged retaliation remains, echoing eerily like a scene straight out of the film itself.
-Cindy Harper, Reclaim The Net
(ATTN: UPDATES story as Blinken arrives; CHANGES photo)
By Kim Seung-yeon
SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in South Korea on Wednesday for talks on North Korea, alliance and regional issues amid growing concerns over the North's closer military ties with Russia.
Blinken landed at the U.S. Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 60 kilometers south of Seoul, late at night, flying in from Tokyo where he attended a Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministerial meeting.
It marks his first trip to Seoul since the launch of the government of President Yoon Suk Yeol in May 2022, and first in more than 2 1/2 years after his last visit here for a "two plus two" meeting of the foreign and defense chiefs.
On Thursday, Blinken will hold bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Park Jin and meet with top security officials in Seoul. He is also expected to pay a courtesy call on Yoon.
His visit comes amid concerns that Pyongyang is in the final stage of preparations to make a third attempt to put a military spy satellite into orbit, after its failed attempts in May and August.
Image Credit: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives at the U.S. Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 60 kilometers south of Seoul, South Korea, on Nov. 8, 2023. Blinken is here on a two-day trip for talks with his South Korean counterpart, Foreign Minister Park Jin, and other top Seoul officials to discuss North Korea, the alliance and other issues. (Yonhap)
South Korea suspects Russia's involvement in the technical assistance for the test launch, as part of an arms deal at the rare September summit between the North's leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The United States revealed last month that Pyongyang provided Moscow with a large amount of military equipment and munitions for use in Russia's war in Ukraine.
Blinken is expected to discuss ways to respond to the expanding military cooperation between the North and Russia and the North's continued nuclear and missile threats.
He will likely use the trip to reaffirm Washington's commitment to defending its key Asian ally against security threats posed by the North and highlight the U.S.' steadfast strategic focus on the Indo-Pacific, even amid the Israel-Hamas war and other global challenges.
China-related issues could be discussed ahead of a highly anticipated summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in San Francisco, set for later this month.
Also on the table will be the Israel-Hamas conflict, as Washington is bolstering diplomacy to prevent the war from spreading and to facilitate humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.
Before coming to Asia, Blinken had a marathon trip through the Middle East region, where he pushed for those two objectives.
He will fly out of Seoul on Thursday and head for India, the last leg of his Asia swing, before returning home.
-Kim Seung-yeon, YONHAP News Agency
Israel-Gaza latest: About 150 pro-Palestinian protesters detained after earlier police scuffles with far-right
A "breakaway group" from the pro-Palestinian march has been detained, the Met Police has said. Earlier fighting broke out as right-wing counter-protesters chanting "England 'til I die" attempted to reach the Cenotaph in London.
Mark Stone analysis:IDF response to claims of hospital attack raises questions View post
Live reporting by Emily Mee
Yemen‘s Huthi rebels on Wednesday claimed to have shot down a US drone off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula country, saying it had been deployed in support of Israel.
“Our air defences were able to down an American MQ-9 while it was carrying out hostile surveillance and espionage activities in Yemeni territorial waters as part of American military support for Israel,” the group, allied to Iran, said in a statement.
The US military did not immediately react to the statement.
The Huthis are part of the “axis of resistance” of groups opposed to Israel.
They have claimed responsibility for multiple drone and missile attacks against Israel during its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
That conflict was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel in which it killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, Israeli officials say.
It has responded with a relentless bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza, aimed at destroying Hamas, which the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed more than 10,500 people, also mostly civilians.
“Hostile activities will not deter the armed forces of Yemen from pursuing their military operations against the Israeli entity and its oppression of the Palestinian people,” the Huthi statement said.
The Huthis, opposed to government forces in Yemen, took control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa in 2014.
Ukraine has a strategy to continue its stalled counteroffensive push against Russia and will try to yield victories shortly, President Vladimir Zelensky has claimed.
The president made the remarks on Wednesday as he appeared at the Reuters NEXT conference via a video link.
“We have a plan. We have very concrete cities, very [concrete] directions where we go. I can’t share all the details but we have some slow steps forward on the south, also we have steps on the east,” Zelensky stated.
While largely avoiding naming any exact locations where such activities are expected to happen, Zelensky promised certain “good steps near Kherson Region,” without elaborating further. Ukrainian forces have a plan for next year, but will “try” to show “battlefield results” by the end of 2023, Zelensky insisted.
“I am sure we’ll have success. It’s difficult,” he added.
Zelensky’s remarks contrasted with the assessment given by his top general, Valery Zaluzhny, in an interview with The Economist published last week. The top military commander claimed the conflict between Moscow and Kiev had reached a WWI-style stalemate, with Russia having better chances given its far larger population and vast resources. This may “drag on for years” and “wear down” the country, with a “deep and beautiful breakthrough” unlikely, he warned.
Zelensky has previously acknowledged the slow progress of the long-heralded counteroffensive launched by Kiev in early June. While “some people” expected quick success, the drive ran into “certain difficulties,” Zelensky admitted. However, he somewhat shifted the blame for the lack of progress to Kiev’s Western backers, stating the country received less weaponry from abroad than it had originally hoped for.
The botched counteroffensive has resulted in little to no territorial gains for the Ukrainian military, which sustained heavy personnel and material losses. According to Russian estimates, Kiev lost more than 90,000 soldiers in the push, with hundreds of military hardware pieces – including assorted Western-supplied vehicles – damaged and destroyed.
An explosion at a chemical plant in East Texas on Wednesday generated a plume of toxic black smoke which prompted authorities to issue an evacuation and shelter-in-place directive. A worker was injured from the event, and over 400 people have since been left without power, reports ABC 13.
Video shows Sound Resouce Solutions, a Petroleum processing plant in Shepherd, Texas, engulfed in flames as toxic black smoke fills the skies.
Authorities say the cause of the explosion is under investigation and officials in San Jacinto and Polk County ordered residents to evacuate and/or shelter in place, according to NBC News.
The Polk County Emergency Management Office released a statement informing residents that the smoke from the destroyed facility contains chemicals that have "acute toxicity, carcinogenicity, and reproductive toxicity, and may cause serious eye damage or eye irritation, skin corrosion or irritation, aspiration hazard, and organ toxicity."
Geoff Harfield, the president of Sound Resource Solutions, said during a news briefing that one employee was injured in the explosion and was being treated for minor burns.
"First responders have done an amazing job. They've been very cautious. They've made sure everyone is safe," Harfield said, according to the network.
A video posted to X shows factory workers running to safety as the fire rages behind them.
Officials said in a news briefing that the fire has been contained and authorities will continue to monitor the air.
The explosion prompted the evacuation of a nearby private school and caused Highway 59 to close, officials said.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz issued a statement on X and said: "My team and I are closely monitoring the ongoing situation in San Jacinto County after an explosion at a chemical plant in Shepherd. Please heed the advisement of local officials and stay tuned to local news for updates. "
-Katie Daviscourt, The Post Millennial