Russian Sanctions, Hunter Biden, & Photographing Picasso
September 15, 2023
(Slowly) Putin A Stop To This
The United States announced yesterday a sanctions package against more than 150 businesses and people – one of the biggest by the State and Treasury departments. “The purpose of the action is to restrict Russia’s defense production capacity and to reduce the liquidity it has to pay for its war,” said James O’Brien, head of the State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination.
People in countries or companies that sell Western technology to Russia for use in weapons are facing sanctions, and the package also hopes to hinder Russia’s financial abilities by blocking Arctic natural gas projects, mining, and factories that make and fix Russian weapons. Sanctions have been placed on Turkish, Finnish, and Russian companies that are said to help Moscow source U.S. and European electronic components, and a UAE company that provides engineering and technology to Russia’s Arctic liquefied natural gas project also faces sanctions. Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said that trade between Russia and the UAE grew by 68% in 2022, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
O’Brien noted that sanctions really do work – before the war on Ukraine, 90% of Russia’s electronics came from G7 countries, but that number is down to 30% now. Unfortunately, analysts say Russia still has significant financial reserves available, but any hindrance helps to “put a ceiling on Russia’s wartime production capacity.”
Financial hits aren’t the only blows Russia is taking this week. After an attack on a Crimean port on Wednesday, the Ukrainian military claimed it had hit a Russian surface-to-air missile defense system in Crimea and two Russian vessels at sea on Thursday. Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has now made it a key area for its military, stockpiling supplies and making it the primary base for the Black Sea Fleet that is blockading Ukrainian ports.
Want To Know More?
- Kim Jong Un arrives in Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur for expected visit to fighter jet plant (AP)
- Bulgaria to drop ban on Ukrainian grain imports (Politico)
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A Prime Minister, A Billionaire, And A Robot Walk Into A Bar
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced yesterday that, during his trip to the U.S. next week, he’ll meet with billionaire CEO Elon Musk and other tech leaders to discuss artificial intelligence on Monday in San Francisco. He’ll then head to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly and meet with President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
- Though Netanyahu’s office didn’t address it in their statement, it’s worth noting that the prime minister is meeting with the embattled CEO as his platform, X, (formerly known as Twitter) is currently under fire from the Anti-Defamation League for allowing anti-Semitism to proliferate. The nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate was also slapped with a lawsuit from Musk after researching the increase in hate speech since his takeover of the social media platform. (ABC)
Getting Technical About Green Tech
- The E.U. voted on Thursday to commit to acquiring materials – namely nickel, cobalt, lithium, copper, and neodymium – needed to make solar panels, electric car batteries, and other green technologies through more diverse and sustainable avenues. The act passed with 515 votes in favor and 34 against.
- The E.U. hopes that by 2030 it will not rely on a single country for more than 65% of its supply of any strategic raw material, mainly to prevent too much reliance on China. It also requires the E.U. to build the capacity to extract materials meeting at least 10% of its demand, and process materials meeting 50% of its demand, by 2030.
- Mohammed Chahim, a Dutch MEP, noted that demand for imports could be decreased with better material efficiency and recycling. The act pushes for the E.U. to boost recycling capacity to collect, sort, and process 45% of the strategic materials in its waste for recycling.
Additional World News
- Russia expels two U.S. embassy staff (NBC)
- Aging dams and missed warnings: How a lethal mix of factors caused Africa’s deadliest flood disaster (CNN)
- China trying to ‘headhunt’ powerful Brits, UK government claims (Politico)
- Italy’s Meloni campaigned on stopping immigration. It’s not working. (WaPo, $)
- 1 dead, 8 in intensive care after botulism outbreak at bar in France (CBS)
- France announces release of French official held by Niger security forces (CNN)
- Greenland cruise ship pulled free after three days stuck in mud (BBC)
“Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” – Baruch Spinoza
Biden Off More Than He Can Chew
- Hunter Biden, son of President Biden, was indicted in Delaware federal court on three counts tied to the possession of a gun while using narcotics on Thursday. Two of the counts carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, while the third has a maximum of five years. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
- The case is being overseen by special counsel David Weiss, who also headed the investigation. Weiss was appointed by former President Trump but was kept on as U.S. attorney for Delaware because of the potential conflict of interest to have the president’s son investigated by the Justice Department, which answers to the president.
- The indictment says Biden certified on a federally mandated form “that he was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance, when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fictitious.” House Republicans this week launched an impeachment inquiry seeking bank records and other documents from both Biden men.
- The news comes as the FBI agents and prosecutors involved in the Hunter Biden investigation have seen a drastic uptick in violent threats against them from people who don’t think they’re being tough enough on the president’s son. The FBI has now created a stand-alone unit to investigate and respond to the threats, which have extended to the family members of agents.
Additional USA Reads
- Fulton County judge rules all 19 defendants in Trump RICO case cannot be tried together (CBS)
- Hurricane Lee lashing Bermuda before striking coastal New England and Atlantic Canada (CNN)
- Judge temporarily halts New Mexico governor’s gun restrictions in Albuquerque (Politico)
- DeSantis’ administration advises against updated COVID shots for people under 65 (ABC)
- Biden planning speech on threats to democracy in coming weeks, sources say (CNN)
- Alex Jones spent over $93K in July. Sandy Hook families have yet to see a dime (ABC)
- Kim Davis must pay $100,000 to US same-sex couple she denied marriage license (Guardian)
What Hashtags Did You Use, Though?
- “Guernica,” Picasso’s 1937 antiwar masterpiece, depicts the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and disturbed those who saw it at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. It was long protected from the Instagram era with guards positioned to ensure that visitors of the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid couldn’t snap any photos. This month, the museum lifted that ban – well, mostly, considering the use of flash, tripods, and selfie sticks is still prohibited.
- It’s not entirely clear why the ban on photos was instituted – some say it was to protect the art from flashes and potential damage if observers were distracted, while others, like Nina Simon, the author of “The Participatory Museum,” say it could have been to protect the work from being “cheapened.” ““There becomes a concern that the museum becomes the backdrop to your perfect Instagram life,” Simon said, “or that the museum shifts the design of exhibits to cater to create great Instagram moments.”
- Museums and art galleries have struggled to figure out a good balance between modernization and preservation of the pieces they house. Seema Rao, who leads Brilliant Idea Studio, a firm that focuses on museum experiences, said, “Museums are basically becoming dinosaurs. They are so behind the times. In order to be a part of society they have to update these policies.” What remains unclear, of course, is how much Pablo Picasso would have appreciated his work to be surrounded by hashtags and emojis on an Instagram grid.
- Study of cardiac arrest survivors reveals insight into near-death experiences (NBC)
- Sharks on a Golf Course Made a Watery Grave Unlike Any Other (NYT, $)
- Man arrested after appearing to grope female reporter in the middle of her live report in Spain (CBS)
- Maduro says Venezuela will send astronauts to moon on Chinese spaceship (WaPo, $)
- Conditions on Earth may be moving outside the ‘safe operating space’ for humanity, according to dozens of scientists (CNN)
- Photographer captures monkey “enjoying a free ride” on the back of a deer in Japanese forest (CBS)
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Military Media is led and written by Adrian Bonenberger. Adrian is a journalist and essayist with extensive experience covering national security, international relations (Eastern Europe), the military and veterans affairs. He has published pieces in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Publisher’s Weekly, The New Republic, Vice, Commonweal Magazine, and others. He is a two-time veteran of Afghanistan and was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army from September 2005 until January 2012, serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 10th Mountain Division.