The overseas wars that the US military has been involved with for nearly two decades have been unpopular with the American public for a very long time. Both Obama and Trump campaigned on promises of ending the wars, or at the very least significantly scaling them back. However, while both administrations oversaw small and ceremonial troop withdrawals, the US military’s involvement overseas did not slow down and didn’t seem to miss a beat from the Bush era.
Joe Biden has made some very similar promises while on the campaign trail in 2019. In one speech, Biden said, “It’s past time to end the Forever Wars, which have cost us untold blood and treasure.”
However, he was vice president in the Obama administration, which oversaw wars in Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, and numerous other countries, and he has also indicated that he has no intention of fully pulling out of Afghanistan.
On November 10th, Biden announced the members of his agency review teams, which he says “are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power, and preparing for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One.”
A large portion of the officials who were selected for the Department of Defense agency review team, 8 out of 23, have direct ties to the military industrial complex or a part of it themselves. This number could be higher, as the backgrounds of all of the candidates are still being thoroughly researched.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is listed as the “most recent employment” for three selections on Biden’s Department of Defense agency review team: Kathleen Hicks, who is a former defense official under President Barack Obama, as well as Melissa Dalton, and Andrew Hunter.
CSIS is an influential foreign policy think tank that promotes war while receiving funding from companies like General Dynamics Corporation, Raytheon Technologies, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and Lockheed Martin. They also work on behalf of the oil companies.
Furthermore, two other officials, Ely Ratner and Susanna Blume also named for positions on the team, most recently worked with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) a think tank that takes money from Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and the US State Department.
Three others selected for the team are Stacie Pettyjohn, Terri Tanielian, and Christine Wormuth who previously worked with the RAND Corporation, which receives funding from the US Army and the Department of Homeland Security and often promote foreign intervention and hostility towards non-allied countries.
Ben Freeman of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative, which recently authored a report on think tank funding, said that “It’s telling the think tanks represented here — RAND, CSIS, and CNAS — are among the top recipients of Department of Defense and Department of Defense contractor funding. CNAS and CSIS are literally number one and number two in terms of donations received from US defense contractors in the last six years. RAND is, by far, the top recipient of Department of Defense funding of any think tank.”
Sharon Burke, also on Biden’s team, works for New America, which receives funding from Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and US Army War College. Another pick for the team, Shawn Skelly, recently worked with CACI International, a company that provides information technology for US military weapons systems. Team member Victor Garcia has a background in cybersecurity for the US government, previously working with a software company called Rebellion Defense that says it helps “our defense and national security agencies unlock the power of data across all domains.”
The software company was reportedly founded by former defense officials and works to analyze video gathered from drones.
Other members of the team are also heavily involved in Wall Street and the oil industry.
Monolith Identical To One Found in Utah Appears on Hillside in Romania
A metal monolith nearly identical to one that was discovered in the U.S. state of Utah has appeared on a hillside in Romania, not far from a historic fortress.
The mysterious three-sided structure’s appearance in the Balkan country comes around the same time that the monolith in Utah was removed from its remote desert location by an “unknown party,” local authorities said over the weekend.
The shiny pillar was found just last Thursday on Batca Doamnei Hill in the city of Piatra Neamt in the country’s northeastern Neamt County, reports the Daily Mail.
The monolith was located several yards from the Dacian fortress Petrodava, an important archaeological landmark and fort that was built by the ancient Dacian people between 82 B.C. and 106 A.D.
The Dacian fortress was written about by Roman polymath and philosopher Claudius Ptolemy and is the the oldest historical monument in the region. It is believed that the fortress was burned down in the 2nd Century A.D. around the time when the Romans conquered the region, although the ruins of the fortress are still intact and comprise parts of the city wall.
The monolith lies close by, with one side facing Mount Ceahlău, a famous Carpathian mountain listed as one of the country’s Seven Natural Wonders and known to locals as the Holy Mountain.
“We have started looking into the strange appearance of the monolith,” said Neamt Culture and Heritage official Rocsana Josanu. “It is on private property, but we still don’t know who the monolith’s owner is yet. It is in a protected area on an archaeological site.”
“Before installing something there, they needed permission from our institution, one that must then be approved by the Ministry of Culture.”
The strange object bears a striking resemblance to the one recently found, and subsequently disappeared, in the southeastern Utah desert.
The origins of that 12-foot (four-meter) high metal block remain unclear.
The discovery of the monolith by Utah public safety workers in the southwestern U.S. state generated significant viral buzz, with many comparing the monolith to those that trigger massive leaps in human progress in the classic Stanley Kubrick sci-fi film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Others bemoaned the discovery of the object in the turbulent year 2020, with some social media users complaining that the discovery of the monolith had triggered their anxiety over worsening fortunes in the year, including a possible extraterrestrial invasion.
“This is the ‘reset’ button for 2020. Can someone please press it quickly?” one social media user quipped.
However, the structure was removed on Friday night “by an unknown party” from the public land it was found on, the Bureau of Land Management’s Utah office said in a statement.
“We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith’, has been removed from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands by an unknown party,” the bureau said in a statement.
A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter crew had found the object last Monday while surveying for bighorn sheep.
“IT’S GONE!” the agency said in an Instagram post. “Almost as quickly as it appeared it has now disappeared,” the department continued, adding, “I can only speculate” about the cause of its disappearance, adding the emoji symbol for extraterrestrials.
“Maybe it will stop by and visit us in Canada!!” one person commented.
For the time being, however, the monolith may have decided to park itself in the Carpathian mountain range of Romania.
Megalodon Fossils Show How Biggest-Ever Shark Had Nurseries All Over the World
The massive megalodon, the largest shark to ever roam the seas, had their own nursery areas all over the globe that allowed the apex predators to raise their young and populate the world prior to their extinction.
A new study, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, reveals that nurseries belonging to the massive creatures have been found in across vast geographic distances where fossils belonging to both young and old megalodons were discovered.
The five likely nurseries include sites off Spain’s east coast, two off the coast of the United States, and two in Panama.
Megalodon (Otodus megalodon), whose name means “large tooth,” lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago until it went extinct during a period of global cooling. For 13 million years, the megalodon was the king of the sea.
The megalodon was not only the largest shark in the world, but also the biggest fish – and quite possibly the most powerful predator – to ever exist. Its teeth alone measured 18 centimeters long, and evidence shows that it could have grown to reach up to 60 feet in length.
However, because megalodon bodies were mostly comprised of cartilage – which cannot fossilize – the shark’s teeth, vertebrae and fossilized feces have been the main way researchers have calculated the shark’s body measurements.
The existence of the nurseries shows that young megalodon were still quite susceptible to attacks by other predators.
To keep the young megalodon safe, their shark parents would give birth to their young in shallow, warm water nurseries located near coastlines. In these special regions, juvenile megalodon were able to access their prey while facing few dangers from rival predators.
“Our analyses support the presence of five potential nurseries ranging from the Langhian (middle Miocene) to the Zanclean (Pliocene), with higher densities of individuals with estimated body lengths within the typical range of neonates and young juveniles,” the scientists wrote in the abstract for the study.
“These results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by O. megalodon over large temporal and spatial scales, reducing early mortality and playing a key role in maintaining viable adult populations,” the authors added.
The nurseries were ideal sites that allowed young megalodons to mature into adults in a process that took about 25 years.
Experts investigated 25 teeth belonging to megalodon that were found in the Reverté and Vidal regions in Tarragona, Spain. The study led to the conclusion that these locations were filled with sharks that had body lengths consistent with the normal range of newborns and young juveniles, measuring 13 feet in length for one-month-old sharks to 36 feet in length for older juveniles.
A separate study released in September found that a 52.5-foot-long adult megalodon had heads that measure up to 15.3 feet long, with dorsal fins measuring about 5.3 feet tall and tails reaching 12.6 feet. To put this into perspective, an adult human could stand on a shark’s back and be roughly the same height as the dorsal fin.
The study’s findings also reveal that the shark’s reliance on nurseries likely played a role in their demise, when the world cooled near the end of the Pliocene period and sea levels declined.
“Ultimately, the presumed reliance of O. megalodon on the presence of suitable nursery grounds might have also been determinant in the demise of this iconic top predatory shark,” the authors of the study noted.
Trump Accuses His Own FBI and Justice Department of ‘Rigging’ Election
Despite finally agreeing to begin the formal transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden last Monday, President Trump on Sunday continued to deny that he lost the election and repeated claims of fraud in his first interview since his Election Day defeat.
“We won the election easily,” the outgoing president falsely claimed on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
This time, however, Trump added a new twist – claiming that his own Department of Justice and FBI had somehow colluded with the “rigging” of the election in Biden’s favor.
“This is total fraud,” the outgoing president said in the interview with Maria Bartiromo. “And how the FBI and Department of Justice—I don’t know—maybe they’re involved, but how people are getting away with this stuff—it’s unbelievable.”
Just over three weeks ago, major networks including Fox News and the Associated Press called Pennsylvania and Nevada in Biden’s favor, pushing him well over the 270 electoral-vote threshold to make him the winner of the Electoral College.
Since then, Trump has refused to concede, and has instead spouted claims of widespread fraud to sow the seeds of doubt in the election results. However, no evidence has been offered to flesh out the claims while the Trump campaign’s legal challenges have failed in court.
“Missing in action. Missing in action,” Trump continued after being asked if the FBI and DOJ were investigating the fraud claims. “Can’t tell you where they are. I ask, ‘Are you looking at it?’ Everyone says, ‘Yes,’ they’re looking at it.”
The accusation is incredible if only because both agencies’ heads were personally handpicked by President Trump.
The FBI is led by director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee who has headed the bureau since 2017. The Justice Department is headed by Attorney General William Barr, who was nominated by the president in 2018 and has long argued in favor of government agencies deferring to presidential authority.
Barr has faced massive criticism from Democrats for actions they perceive as being overly partisan and biased in the president’s favor, including responding to Trump’s claims that he hadn’t actually lost the election by clearing the DOJ to look into voting irregularities prior to the certification of elections.
The move was widely seen as a reversal of guidance meant to prevent federal authorities from intervening in the election, and prompted the DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch head Richard Pilger to resign in protest.
However, this hasn’t prevented Trump from lashing out at the attorney general for his perceived lack of zeal in following his directives. In October, Trump criticized Barr publicly for failing to indict his political enemies, including former President Barack Obama and former Vice President (now President-elect) Joe Biden for their alleged role in the origins of the Russia probe.
Trump’s campaign has launched dozens of ill-fated lawsuits in key swing states won by Biden, with many of the lawsuits being dismissed by Republican-appointed judges.
On Sunday morning, the president further accused the judges of blocking his ability to overturn the election results.
“We’re trying to put the evidence in and the judges won’t allow us to do it,” Trump said.
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