US National Security Advisor John Bolton is celebrating the seizure of an Iranian supertanker loaded with two million barrels of crude oil by the UK’s overseas territory Gibraltar on Thursday.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has responded to the seizure of Grace 1 by accusing the UK of engaging in an act of piracy.
Major General Mohsen Rezai, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, responded to the incident on Twitter by saying that if the tanker is not released, it was Tehran’s “duty” to seize a British oil tanker in retaliation.
“If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities duty to seize a British oil tanker,” Major General Rezai tweeted. “Islamic Iran in its 40-year history has never initiated hostilities in any battles but has also never hesitated in responding to bullies.”
The ship was seized by Royal Marines off the British territory of Gibraltar. The nation’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said in a statement that they “had reasons to believe” that the tanker was headed to the Banyas Refinery,” in Syria — which is subject to EU sanctions.
Meanwhile, the notorious warmonger Bolton celebrated the incident and rising tensions as “excellent news” on Twitter.
“Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade,” Bolton tweeted.
Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) July 4, 2019
Iran maintains that the tanker was not headed to Syria and would not even fit in the specific port that Gibraltar claimed it was heading to.
“Contrary to what the British authorities are claiming, the tanker was not headed for Syria,” Araqchi said during a press conference on Sunday. He did not specify where it was heading.
Araqchi argued that the Royal Marines had no right to seize the ship from international waters and by doing so they were engaging in “buccaneering.” He explained that his nation demands the release of the tanker and will use legal mechanisms if attempts at diplomacy fail. Iran is currently in talks with Spain — who has said that they will be launching a formal complaint over the Royal Marines entering Spanish water to conduct the takeover. Spain does not recognize the water around Gibraltar as UK territory.
In their condemnation, Spain said that the seizure was prompted by a request to the UK from the US.
Citing economic sanctions against Syria, Gibraltar has said that they will be detaining the tanker for at least two weeks. The 28 member crew, made up mostly of Indians, Pakistanis and Ukrainians, have remained on board.
“The Supreme Court has issued today’s order on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to consider that the detention of the Grace 1 is required for the purposes of compliance with the EU Regulation 36/2012 on sanctions on Syria,” the government of Gibraltar said in a statement.
VIDEO: Black Lives Matter Protesters Vandalize Abraham Lincoln Statue
The vandals used spray paint to cover the statue with names of people killed while in police custody.
Black Lives Matter protesters in London vandalized the statue of President Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square on Saturday.
They also vandalized a statue of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The vandals used spray paint to cover the statue with names of people killed while in police custody, including Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, Mike Brown and George Floyd. They also climbed all over it and surrounded the base with anti-police signs.
— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) June 6, 2020
Statue of former US president Abraham Lincoln now bears the names of black people killed by American police pic.twitter.com/WHBwLIOqjb
— Mattha Busby (@matthabusby) June 6, 2020
Lincoln was the commander-in-chief when the North defeated the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He famously declared all slaves shall be free during his Emancipation Proclamation address on Jan. 1, 1863.
“And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons,” Lincoln said.
The London “protesters” also vandalized a statue of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill earlier in the day, which happened to be the 76th anniversary of D-Day.
The Sir Winston Churchill Statue in Parliament Square, Westminster has been defaced already…
— London & UK Crime.. (@CrimeLdn) June 6, 2020
“Should I get all the football lads to guard it now, should I?” a man upset with the vandalism is heard asking police in footage posted to social media. “So, as you can see, Churchill has really been hit. We’ve got police here, and it’s been done. Pass the message on: Winston Churchill has been vandalized.”
There were approximately 15,000 people in attendance at the demonstration.
Brexit leader Nigel Farage has condemned the “protest.”
“This protest in London now has nothing to do with George Floyd,” Farage wrote on Twitter. “It is anarchy in the face of weak leadership.”
German Official Invites Twitter to Move to Germany Following Trump’s Executive Order
Germany, of course, is not exactly known for their respect for free speech.
A German official has invited Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to move his company there following President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at protecting free speech on social media.
Germany, of course, is not exactly known for their respect for free speech, as they ban anything “capable of inciting popular hatred.” It actually sounds like a perfect match for a platform that arbitrarily bans accounts for edgy banter.
Thomas Jarzombek of Germany’s Economic Affairs Ministry tweeted on Thursday, “Hey @Twitter & @jack, this is an invitation to move to Germany! Here you are free to criticize the government as well as to fight fake news. We have a great startup and tech ecosystem, your company would be a perfect fit and I will open any doors for you!”
Hey @Twitter & @jack, this is an invitation to move to Germany! Here you are free to criticize the government as well as to fight fake news. We have a great startup and tech ecosystem, your company would be a perfect fit and I will open any doors for you! @realDonaldTrump
— Thomas Jarzombek (@tj_tweets) May 28, 2020
He also tagged President Trump in the tweet in an attempt to make sure that his dig would be noticed.
Earlier in the day, President Trump signed an executive order that aims to increase government regulation of the “new public square” by challenging their Section 230 protection from being held liable for content posted by users
Under Section 230, platforms that are not publishers cannot be held liable for most posts by users on their sites. By censoring certain opinions, the platform has crossed the line into acting as a publisher with an editorial line, which is not protected.
“Trump’s directive now could set the stage for federal regulators to write new rules and issue new punishments for companies deemed to exhibit political bias,” the Washington Post explained.
The order also established a council to probe allegations of censorship of users based on their political views and asked the Federal Trade Commission to probe whether or not content-moderation is falling in line with their pledges of neutrality to users.
“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators,” the order read.
“The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology. Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms. As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.”
Former Emory Professor Pleads Guilty to Hiding Role in Chinese Program Deemed a ‘Threat to National Security’
The program he was part of has been called a “threat to national security.”
A former professor at Emory University has pleaded guilty to hiding his ties to a Chinese government program that has been deemed a threat to national security.
Xiao-Jiang Li, 63, was part of China’s “Thousand Talents Program.”
“This defendant thought that he could live two, separate lives — one here at Emory University and one in China as a Thousand Talents Program participant,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak in a statement.
The Thousand Talents program was established by the Chinese government in 2008 and has been called a “threat to national security” by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. One member of the program stole proprietary defense information on U.S. military jet engines. In 2018, the National Intelligence Council declared that an underlying motivation of the program is “to facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of US technology, intellectual property and know-how” to China.”
“As this case demonstrates, the FBI is committed to working with our partners to prevent individuals from utilizing the Chinese Government’s talent plan programs to commit fraud against the United States government and our universities,” said Acting Assistant Director Robert R. Wells of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.
According to the statement from the Justice Department, in late 2011, while employed at Emory University, Li joined the Thousand Talents Program. The department explained that “starting in 2012 and continuing until 2018, Li, while still working at Emory University researching, among other things, the use of large animal models to investigate Huntington’s disease, also worked at two Chinese universities — first at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and then at Jinan University — conducting similar large animal model research. Over those six years, Li earned at least $500,000 in foreign income that he never reported on his federal income tax returns.”
“The Department of Justice remains vigilant over programs such as the Thousand Talents Program that recruits professors and researchers to work for China,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “In this case Li was caught in his lack of transparency. We are grateful for the work our partners have done to bring light to this case.”
Li has been sentenced to one year of probation on a felony charge and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $35,089. He has also been ordered to file lawful income tax returns for 2012 through 2018 within the first two months of his probation. Aditionally, Li must fully cooperate with the IRS.