- TikTok, a popular short video app owned by China-based ByteDance, has been spreading disinformation, according to a recent report by journalism watchdog NewsGuard. “TikTok continues to be fertile ground for dangerous disinformation, fed to a young audience,” it added, noting that at the end of 2021, the site boasted of having more than one billion active monthly users, a record shared only by Facebook.
- Russia and Iran have been cooperating to connect their interbank messaging systems in order to bypass the SWIFT financial transactions network, Kazem Jalali, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Russia, said on Thursday. Both countries are facing severe Western sanctions, making settlements in trade through SWIFT difficult or impossible. Last month, seven Russian banks were severed from SWIFT, effectively denying them access to international markets. The ban was part of the latest Western sanctions targeting Russia over its military operation in Ukraine.
- The Eastern Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 was heading from Kunming to Guangzhou’s International Airport in China. Video footage that captured the crash appeared to show the plane taking a steep dive before crashing into a mountainous area. Flight records revealed the plane plunged more than 26,000 feet in the span of about 95 seconds, according to Flightradar24. “It’s very odd,” Jeff Guzzetti, the former accident investigation chief for the Federal Aviation Administration, told Bloomberg News of the crash. “It’s an odd profile,” noted aviation safety consultant and former Boeing 737 pilot John Cox. “It’s hard to get the airplane to do this.”
- The Kremlin has disputed reports and speculation that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was missing amid the conflict in Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters Thursday that Shiogu hasn’t been seen in public appearances because he doesn’t have time. “The Minister of Defense now has a lot of worries. A special military operation is underway,” Peskov said, referring to Russia’s description of the conflict in Ukraine. “Of course, now is not quite the time for media activity, this is quite understandable,” he said in response to a question about Shoigu’s health and whereabouts.
- Stephen Wilhite, the creator of the Graphics Interchange Format, more commonly known as GIF, died last week at the age of 74, as reported by The Verge. In 2013, Wilhite received a lifetime achievement award at the Webby Awards for the invention. Upon receiving the award, instead of giving an acceptance speech, he merely played a GIF in which he finally weighed in on the long-standing debate surrounding the pronunciation of the image format. The image simply stated: “It’s pronounced ‘JIF’ not ‘GIF.’”
- Open Society Foundations founder and liberal billionaire George Soros published a statement mourning the death of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday, calling her a champion of democracy. “Madeleine Albright was an astute stateswoman, scholar, and a true champion for freedom and democracy,” said Soros, who also called Albright “a trailblazer in her field.” In 2009, Soros worked with Albright and billionaire Jacob Rothschild to invest $350 million into building mobile masts in Africa. Albright served as the first female US secretary of state in the Clinton administration. In 1996, she infamously claimed that it was “worth it” that half a million children in Iraq died as a result of US sanctions.
- A member of the European Parliament called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “dictator” to his face during Trudeau’s trip to Belgium this week and accused the Canadian government of violating human rights. After discussing on the floor of the European Parliament the importance of defending human rights, Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakusic said, “Unfortunately today, there are those among us who trample on these fundamental values.” “Canada, once a symbol of the modern world, has become a symbol of civil rights violations under your quasi-liberal boot in recent months,” the MEP said to Trudeau, before referencing Canada’s authoritarian treatment of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters in Ottawa last month.
- Former US President Donald Trump sued Hillary Clinton and several other Democrats on Thursday, alleging they attempted to rig the 2016 US presidential election by fabricating a conspiracy theory tying his campaign to Russia. “Acting in concert, the Defendants maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty,” reads the lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Florida. “The Clinton machine flooded the FBI with pressure from a number of angles until investigations of Trump were opened and reopened,” said one of the briefed sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive law enforcement matter. “The deception was wide-ranging.”
- For the second day in a row, Nickel traded in London surged by the 15% exchange limit on the scandal-plagued London Metals Exchange, putting the spotlight back on bearish position holders just two weeks since the market was roiled by an historic short squeeze, and sparked speculation that a second, even more vicious short squeeze may be forming. Nickel futures remained locked at the price limit by late morning on the London Metal Exchange, as the latest spike extends a period of unprecedented turmoil for the market. Prices soared over 250% over two trading sessions in early March during the short squeeze centered on China’s Tsingshan Holding Group Co., before the market was suspended to avoid bankrupting China’s biggest stainless steel producer and potentially leading to billions in losses for its OTC counterparties, among which JPMorgan was the largest.
- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after meeting in Brussels that alliance leaders agreed at their summit today to send equipment to Ukraine to help protect it against a chemical weapons attack.
- Some 5,400 miles south of Mariupol in Ukraine, the world’s least reported genocide proceeded apace in the missionary town of Kagoro, Nigeria, on March 20. An estimated force of 140 armed men riding in 15 sport utility vehicles and carrying assault rifles entered villages surrounding Kagoro at night and began murdering local residents, according to Bernard Augustine, who helped recover corpses the following day. Local residents were shocked that a three-hour massacre in four villages drew no response from an army base in Kafanchan only one mile away with a garrison of 100 soldiers.
- During the contentious nomination process for Sarah Bloom Raskin, who subsequently withdrew her candidacy to serve at the Federal Reserve, the politicization of the U.S. central bank has come into question again. Emre Kuvvet, an associate professor of finance at Nova Southeastern University, published a report on The Wall Street Journal that assessed party affiliation of economists at the central bank. For economists at the Fed Bank of Cleveland, the Democrat-to-Republican ratio was 3:1. At the San Francisco Fed Bank, the ratio was 12:1.
- Russia said on Thursday that the Rosemont Seneca investment fund, led by Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, is funding the Pentagon’s military biological programme in Ukraine, The Telegraph reported. US President Joe Biden must explain his son Hunter’s involvement in the operation of biological laboratories in Ukraine, Russia’s State Duma speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, said on Thursday on his Telegram channel, TASS reported. “The incoming materials allow us to trace the scheme of interaction between US government agencies and Ukrainian biological objects. Attention is drawn to the involvement in the financing of these activities of structures close to the current US leadership, in particular the Rosemont Seneca investment fund, which is headed by Hunter Biden,” said Lt General Igor Kirillov, head of the radiation, chemical and biological defence forces of the Russian Armed Forces, Russian state-owned media reported.
News Burst 25 March 2022