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Zelenskyy: Claims Iran missile downed Ukraine plane ‘unconfirmed’

Kyiv, Ukraine – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said claims that a Ukrainian passenger plane was downed by an errant Iranian, Russian-made cruise missile were “unconfirmed”, as he demanded evidence from Western countries suggesting theories behind the disaster. The Ukrainian leader on Friday urged the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to share any intelligence data regarding the Ukraine International Airlines plane crash…

Zelenskyy: Claims Iran missile downed Ukraine plane ‘unconfirmed’

Kyiv, Ukraine – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said claims that a Ukrainian passenger plane was downed by an errant Iranian, Russian-made cruise missile were “unconfirmed”, as he demanded evidence from Western countries suggesting theories behind the disaster.
The Ukrainian leader on Friday urged the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to share any intelligence data regarding the Ukraine International Airlines plane crash that killed all 176 passengers and crew on Wednesday, minutes after takeoff from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.
Writing on his Facebook page, Zelenskyy said: “The version of a missile hitting the plane is not ruled out, but is, for now, unconfirmed.”
He later discussed the crash with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, who offered condolences and assistance in the ongoing investigation. Zelenskyy briefed Pompeo about the progress in the investigation.
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Observers say Zelenskyy’s warning was aimed at keeping Ukraine out of a tug-of-war between Washington and Tehran, that has flared following the US’s killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

“He does not want to play other people’s games,” Kyiv-based analyst Mikhail Pogrebinsky told Al Jazeera.
“Obviously, until there is a confirmed, well-grounded investigation, he does not have to [confirm the allegations of a missile strike]”.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency, also called in a statement for people not to jump to conclusions.
“ICAO continues to call for diminished speculation on the possible causes of the accident until the Annex 13 investigation is permitted to be concluded and its official results are confirmed,” it said in a statement.

— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) January 10, 2020

Other experts maintain that Ukraine is likely to replicate the White House’s interpretation of events due to its dependency on the diplomatic, military and financial backing of the West.
“Kyiv’s capability to present the disaster’s versions that are different from Washington’s messages are next to zero, especially ahead of the [presidential vote] in the US,” Kyiv-based analyst Aleksey Kushch told Al Jazeera.
Zelenskyy’s political opponents say his circumspection signals servitude to Russiaand its ally, Iran.

“We are not just silent – we are silent with Iran and Russia. And in his statement, Zelensky says directly – I don’t believe [US President Donald] Trump, [Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau and [UK Prime Minister Boris] Johnson,” former legislator Vadim Denisenko tweeted.
The three leaders on Thursday said their intelligence data indicated the plane had been downed by an errant Iranian missile.
Ukraine keeps its distance from the power politics of the Middle East, and its economic ties with Iran are minimal. But Kyiv will be wary of antagonising Russia as it attempts to settle the continuing conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the southeast of the country.
“He just chickened out, because he bows to Putin and does not care about Ukraine’s independence,” Konstantin Rybchenko, a retired police officer and a supporter of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, told Al Jazeera.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that evidence indicated an Iranian missile shot down the airliner and that the strike “may have been unintentional”.

US officials maintain it was “highly likely” an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed the plane, while UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said there was a “body of information that [suggests] the flight was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile”.
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Friday that their allegations were “a big lie”, according to a statement carried on state-run Press TV.
“We expect to receive all available information necessary for an objective investigation,” said Zelenskyy.
“Considering recent statements by state leaders and media reports, we call on all international partners, namely, the governments of the US, Canada and the United Kingdom – to provide the data and proof pertaining to the disaster.”
The Boeing 737-800 was last seen on radar at an altitude of 2,400 metres, according to the FlightRadar 24 monitoring website, hours after Tehran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at military bases hosting US troops in neighbouring Iraq.
Ukraine International Airlines said the plane was only three years old, underwent a maintenance check on Monday, and was flown by an experienced crew.
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Biden

Joe Biden claims 200 million U.S. coronavirus deaths

About 200,000 Americans have died of the novel coronavirus, but Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden says it’s closer to 200 million. “If Donald Trump has his way, the complications from COVID-19, which are well beyond what they should be — it’s estimated that 200 million people have died, probably by the time I finish…

Joe Biden claims 200 million U.S. coronavirus deaths

About 200,000 Americans have died of the novel coronavirus, but Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden says it’s closer to 200 million.

“If Donald Trump has his way, the complications from COVID-19, which are well beyond what they should be — it’s estimated that 200 million people have died, probably by the time I finish this talk,” said Mr. Biden in a Sunday speech in Philadelphia.

The Census Bureau reports that the U.S. population is about 331 million, meaning that a 200 million death count would represent nearly two-thirds of the population.

This isn’t the first time Mr. Biden has misstated the U.S. coronavirus death count. In a Sept. 9 speech in Warren, Michigan, he said there had been “6,114 military deaths” from the virus, although the Defense Department said there had been seven.

The Biden campaign told PolitiFact that he meant to say “Michigan deaths.”

In June, Mr. Biden said that 120 million Americans had died from the virus, as opposed to 120,000, prompting a retort from President Trump.

“If I ever said something so mortifyingly stupid, the Fake News would come down on me with a vengeance,” tweeted Mr. Trump on June 25.

Mr. Biden said at last week’s CNN town hall that “all the people would still be alive,” if only Mr. Trump had “done his job.”

If I ever said something so mortifyingly stupid, the Fake News Media would come down on me with a vengeance. This is beyond a normal mistake. Why isn’t the media reporting it? pic.twitter.com/KkuWLkMfp7
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2020

200 million deaths? That’s most of the US population.I have mixed feelings on Trump, but Biden doesn’t seem to know what day it is. He’ll be a puppet for the hard left. Really hope he doesn’t win. pic.twitter.com/Bz2wHQIkiy
— MIKE (@ExInfanteer) September 20, 2020

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Biden

CNN mum as Biden claims nobody would have died if Trump had ‘done his job’ on coronavirus

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden declared at Thursday’s CNN town hall that nobody would have died from the novel coronavirus if President Trump had “done his job,” a whopper that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper let slide. “And if the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people…

CNN mum as Biden claims nobody would have died if Trump had ‘done his job’ on coronavirus

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden declared at Thursday’s CNN town hall that nobody would have died from the novel coronavirus if President Trump had “done his job,” a whopper that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper let slide.

“And if the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive,” Mr. Biden said at the town hall. “All the people — I’m not making this up, just look at the data. Look at the data.”

He was immediately challenged on social media by right-of-center commentators and fact-checks by news outlets, notably The Washington Post, which concluded, “Actually, Biden is making this up.”

“There is no data to support this, even if the president had moved rapidly in January to deal with the coronavirus and been able to persuade the Chinese leadership to be more forthcoming about the situation,” said the Post fact-check.

During the event, however, Mr. Cooper did not question Mr. Biden’s claim, a sharp contrast from Wednesday’s appearance by Mr. Trump with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, who repeatedly took issue with the president’s statements.

Mr. Cooper has made no secret of his anti-Trump views, while Mr. Stephanopoulos is a former Clinton White House communications director. Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

All the while, @andersoncooper and @CNN stand in silence while #ChinaJoe lies. #shameful #NotJournalism https://t.co/rMTdJ2Yz0m
— rick nagasawa (@ricknagasawa) September 18, 2020

CNN followed up with an online fact-check debunking five remarks made by Mr. Biden, such as his declaration that he would be the first president without an Ivy League degree, but did not dispute the “all the people would still be alive” statement.

A CNN fact-check of the ABC event said that Mr. Trump made 22 “false or misleading statements,” such as his claim that he placed a “ban” on travel from China, which CNN pointed out made exemptions for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Look, there’s just no equivalence. Biden makes some false and misleading claims. It’s important to note them. We will. But his assertions of fact have been largely factual.Trump, as we saw at the town hall and see again tonight, has been incessantly and egregiously dishonest.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 18, 2020

“[Mr. Trump] responded to a series of tough questions from Pennsylvania voters, and some more from moderator George Stephanopoulos, much like he responds to easy questions from his favorite conservative television hosts — with a barrage of dishonesty,” said CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale.

The CNN town hall held at PNC field in Moosic, Pennsylvania, was panned on the right for serving up softballs to Mr. Biden, with the conservative Media Research Center’s NewsBusters calling it a “cakewalk” versus the ABC “ambush” of Mr. Trump.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 198,000 Americans and nearly 947,000 people worldwide since emerging from China late last year, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

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Christopher

Christopher Rufo claims win as Trump ends ‘White privilege’ indoctrination within federal agencies

An occasional interview series with everyday Americans who are challenging the status quo. Christopher Rufo doesn’t work at the White House, but it sure seems like he gets results there. Just days ago, Mr. Rufo appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel program and boldly declared a one-man war on critical race theory. He denounced…

Christopher Rufo claims win as Trump ends ‘White privilege’ indoctrination within federal agencies

An occasional interview series with everyday Americans who are challenging the status quo.

Christopher Rufo doesn’t work at the White House, but it sure seems like he gets results there.

Just days ago, Mr. Rufo appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel program and boldly declared a one-man war on critical race theory. He denounced as nefarious and expensive the ways it had begun to intrude on taxpayers’ wallets. He urged President Trump to take action against the trend and end what he described as “White privilege” indoctrination within federal agencies.

On Friday, Mr. Trump signed an executive order doing just that.

Wearing his warrior’s cap, Mr. Rufo saw the move as a victory in a battle, not the war.

“On Tuesday, I called on the president to abolish critical race theory in the federal government,” he tweeted. “Tonight, he delivered. This executive action is the first successful counterattack against critical race theory in American history.

“Tonight, we celebrate; tomorrow, back to war.”

Like all other major conflicts, the one playing out over whether taxpayers should foot the bill for training sessions that denounce “whiteness” did not begin with a single shot, Mr. Rufo said.

And, like so many other ideas, critical race theory began in an ivory tower, removed from real-life consequences and contemptuous of alternative explanations, Mr. Rufo told The Washington Times.

He sees critical race theory as an ignoble successor to the tradition of other left-wing intellectual fads, such as the radical Frankfurt School and the postmodern French theorists of the late 20th century.

“Critical legal studies, that swept Harvard Law School, is a branch of it, just as the ‘60s and ‘70s French intellectuals are,” he said. “What they did was take critical theory, essentially an intellectual and literary notion, and applied it to law, public policy, race. They created a many-headed monster.”

Critical race theory is a philosophy that argues, in general, that racism is a structural system created by embedded cultural assumptions and ideas rather than merely a set of specific laws or individual actions with malicious intent. In practice, it almost always describes the U.S. as a racist society to the core rather than as a society in which racism once existed or now exists as an anomaly.

Mr. Rufo, 36, conducts his war on two fronts: public records searches and sources.

Through both, he has exposed how Seattle trained White public employees on “Interrupting Internalized Racial Superiority and Whiteness,” which showed the workers their “complicity in the system of white supremacy.”

After reviewing the material, Mr. Rufo, who lives in Seattle, wrote in City Journal that it framed the discussion “around the idea that Black Americans are reducible to the essential quality of ‘blackness’ and White Americans are reducible to the essential quality of ‘whiteness’ — that is, the new metaphysics of good and evil.”

Such reductionist reasoning with its emphasis on skin color and its insistence on universal applicability is, Mr. Rufo said, racist.

He compares it to discredited sociobiological theories such as those of Cesare Lombroso, which held that criminals had distinctive physical features.

“It revives all the most horrific concepts from the racism of a century ago, this pseudoscientific idea people are reducible to this essential quality of race,” he said. “Now it’s segregation all over again — with training sessions, dorms, workforce participation. We used to recoil in horror at the prospect of ‘Whites only’ bathrooms. Now it’s a sign of progress?”

Mr. Rufo was involved in another project last month that may have caught Mr. Trump’s attention more than the dubious Seattle training. As an employee at Sandia National Laboratory, the federal government’s biggest nuclear weapons research facility, he exposed critical race theory running rampant there.

Executives at the labs last year wrote letters of apology to marginalized groups after reciting mantras about “White privilege” and “male privilege,” part of their mandatory workshop run by the “White Men’s Caucus on Eliminating Racism, Sexism and Homophobia in Organizations.”

Casey Peterson, an engineer at Sandia, wrote an internet post that went viral and revealed the critical race theory material given to employees at the labs.

Mr. Peterson found the arguments about systemic racism and the de facto assumption of guilt among all members of a race to be a fundamentally political argument and objected to management’s push of the belief.

When he approached Sandia’s human resources department with his concerns, Mr. Peterson said, he was given the Orwellian response that he needed to check his thinking. After he published the material in a podcast, he was placed on administrative leave.

“This is an ideology that is political in nature, grafted onto a Marxist structure,” Mr. Rufo said. “This whole oppressed-oppressor narrative has no place in our public institutions. Can you imagine the same thing being done with an anti-abortion stance or gun rights? It’s unthinkable because these are private, political matters.”

Mr. Rufo does not do the kind of work usually associated with a modern documentary filmmaker, but that is what he hopes to do.

He has produced four documentaries for PBS, and he said his politics about 15 years ago could have been described as “progressive.”

Since then, they have followed an arc from libertarian to conservative. Mr. Rufo said the transitions were triggered by what he saw as the creeping monolithic thinking in the documentary industry.

“If you look at the Sundance Festival for the last five years, with really no exceptions, the documentaries are all very progressive in their political orientation,” he said. “They touch on CRT, [critical gender theory], queer theory. It is no longer a business about making entertaining films that will reach a broad audience. It is about work that supports the dominant ideology.”

Mr. Rufo said his career has suffered from the crusade against what he considers, at root, a racist ideology.

“I’ve definitely encountered some people, even some former colleagues, who have said, ‘I can’t work with you anymore because you are a conservative,’” he said. “There are now some doors pretty tightly closed to me with people who have funded my work in the past.”

The cost of critical race theory to taxpayers is also growing. Mr. Rufo highlighted that spending, which also could have contributed to Mr. Trump’s action.

One critical race theory training guru, Howard Ross, has raked in more than $5 million in federal contracts for workshops that tell White people they are inherently racist and impediments to “race-based growth.”

Mr. Rufo’s work has unearthed contracts for workshops on “Difficult Conversations About Race in Troubling Times” at the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Credit Union Administration.

Mr. Ross even landed a $500,000 contract with NASA to guide employees through issues of sexual orientation, power and privilege.

“I don’t know. Is that a good use of taxpayer’s money?” he asked. “Should a plumber in Omaha be paying for astronauts to explore their sexual identity in outer space? It’s completely insane, and I think it’s a scam.”

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