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Exclusive Interview With Amb. Robert Joseph on Paris 2018 Terror Plot

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On Tuesday, a court in Belgium heard the appeal case of three Iranian operatives who had attempted to bomb the Iranian opposition’s rally in 2018 in France. The leader of this terrorist ring, Assadollah Assadi, a high-ranking Iranian diplomat, has also been arrested.

The “Free Iran” gathering, which was the targeted venue in 2018, hosted hundreds of renowned Western politicians and over 100,000 Iranians from all over the world.

While this plot has been thwarted and Tehran’s operative arrested, there is increasing concern over the Iranian regime’s terrorism and espionage network. In this regard, we had an exclusive interview with Ambassador Robert Joseph, who was among the dignitaries who had attended the 2018 gathering. Amb. Joseph is also one of the plaintiffs in the case of the 2018 foiled bombing.

Q: You were present in the 2018 Free Iran gathering; please take us back to that day.

Amb. Robert Joseph:  As I mentioned in my statement to the Belgium court, I vividly recall the enormous exhibition hall with a large VIP section where I was sitting with hundreds of parliamentarians from around the world, renowned human rights activists, and other accomplished guests from every professional field. Clearly, the main target of the terrorist plot was Mrs. Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and sponsor of the meeting.  Like others in my section, I was sitting near Mrs. Rajavi. But there were also thousands of participants within a short distance from the VIP section. The death toll of this savage attack would have been catastrophic, with casualties in the hundreds, if not more.

I also mentioned in my official statement that targeting such a large crowd to pursue the criminal objective of eliminating the leader of a democratic opposition, is an abhorrent crime that cannot be tolerated by any civilized government. If the leaders of free societies fail to hold the perpetrators responsible, in this case, the Iranian regime, we will only encourage more attacks and be complicit in them.

Q: After the conviction of Assadi, what were your expectations from the EU?

Amb. Robert Joseph: The appropriate actions needed to be taken by the EU and the US following the heinous nature of the crime committed by Assadi and his accomplices at the behest of the Iranian regime.

First, as the court found, this was a deliberate act of state terrorism ordered by and conducted by the Iranian regime. Assadi, the principal defendant, was a senior official of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, assigned to the Iranian Embassy in Vienna and masquerading as a diplomat.

Second, Assadi was not acting alone. He was not a rogue agent. He was in regular contact with higher-level officials in Tehran, receiving his orders directly from them. He took personal possession of the bomb, which was transported on a commercial airline coming from Tehran.  The bomb was designed by professionals to cause maximum damage, maximum death, and maximum destruction of those attending the convention in Paris.

Third, Assadi using his diplomatic status as a cover for his criminal activities had been running a network of agents in Europe from his position in the embassy. And there can be no doubt that his true identity was known within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making the MFA complicit in this terrorist act.

Now the EU and the US should act decisively, knowing that further concessions to the regime will only bring more injustice to the Iranian people and more criminal and terrorist acts.  For the EU, this should mean the adoption of a firm policy, including the designation of the MOIS and IRGC as terrorist entities, withdrawing the legal status of all of the regime’s agents in Europe, and dramatically reducing the level of diplomatic relations until the regime has demonstrated its commitment to forgo terrorist activities.

For the Biden administration, the guilty verdicts of Assadi and his accomplices should weigh heavily in its Iran policy. This act of state terrorism should have a sobering effect. It should end any move to resurrect the appeasement policies of the past.

Q; Assadi’s three accomplices appealed the verdict, but Assadi didn’t; why?

A: I think this was most likely the regime’s decision, not Assadi’s personal choice.  By this decision, the regime has effectively acknowledged Assadi’s guilt and its own role in the crime. The regime is hoping to avoid any further international attention to the case and its role in sponsoring and committing terrorist acts.  The regime is aware that, even if Assadi appealed, it would not achieve anything except more attention to the case and the regime’s terrorism in general.

Q: Usually the Iranian regime uses its proxy groups for terrorist acts, but this time, they used their diplomat directly. Why? What is the message of that?

A: That is right, most often the regime has sponsored others to do its dirty work when it comes to terrorist activities.  This was the first time that an Iranian regime official has been caught red-handed and convicted of an act of state terrorism. This brazen act reflects the desperation of a regime that has lost all credibility, all legitimacy, with the Iranian people.  This is a regime that has committed crimes against humanity through the mass murder of over 100,000 of its own citizens from the 1980s until today.  This is a regime that is characterized by pervasive corruption, foreign aggression, support of dictators such as Assad in Syria, and the bankrolling of terrorist groups.  This religious dictatorship has squandered the wealth of the Iranian nation and turned a great nation into a pariah state – a state that has now been proven to commit direct acts of terrorism in Europe and around the globe.

The mullahs have lost all legitimacy.  The Iranian people and their leading opposition group, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), are now the greatest threat to the regime.  The mass killings across Iran and the regime’s terrorism are acts of desperation, and out of that desperation, they chose to use their diplomats in a blatant, and potentially devastating, terrorist act against Madam Rajavi and the Free Iran gathering.

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Fortnite Chapter 3 Release Date

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Fortnite’s biggest event and update to date probably came at the end of Fortnite Chapter 1, when the game began its second part. While seasonal updates come and go, Chapter 2 marked a massive change in how Fortnite played alongside its branding and even esports. Fortnite is currently wrapping up its 8th season of the second chapter.

While we haven’t quite hit ten seasons yet, it looks like Fortnite Chapter 3 release date is closer than thought. looks Aside from the narrowing timeline, there have been quite a few leaks and hints towards major changes coming to Epic’s flagship title.

This is what you need to know and what you can expect from the Chapter 3 release, both for the game and esports:

Fortnite Chapter 3

When Will Fortnite Chapter 3 Launch?

The length of Fortnite seasons and chapters can vary quite a. bit, but looking at past timing we can get a good sense for the Fortnite Chapter 3 release 3 date. It was the end of Season X when the original Fortnite jumped to Chapter 2, with a black hole event. However, a recent leak suggests it might actually be starting earlier.

Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 8 is scheduled to end with a live event on December 5th. This event would normally transition from Season 8 to Season 9, but a leaker with a solid history in Fortnite thinks differently. The Fortnite Chapter 3 start date according to him would be December 6th or 7th, depending on how long the downtime is between seasons.

This would make Fortnite Chapter 2 only 8 seasons long, rather than the 10 that the original section got. However, Chapter 1 Season 1 and 2 were really more of an early stage for the game than full seasons as we know them today.  While Chapter 1 had more seasons, it did only last for 761 days. This cut off point would make Chapter 2 777 days long, since it has had lengthier seasons. Well, one longer seasons in general along with a couple that felt like they would never end.

As this is coming from a leaker, it should be taken with a grain of salt. However, it seems like even Epic are teasing December being the end of Chapter 2:

What to Expect in Fortnite Chapter 3

Fortnite seasons can make pretty big changes to the game’s loot pool, world, balance, and even the gameplay mechanics. However, the biggest change to date was the chapter crossover. What exactly can we expect with the Fortnite chapter 3 release date? These are some of the main things that are rumoured or expected:

  • Stylistic and Art Changes – Chapter 2 was quite a leap forward for Fortnite’s art style, we can probably expect further revisions.
  • Design Changes – Items and default skins will probably receive another overhaul with the new season.
  • Simplification of Bloated Mechanics– Season change is the perfect time to cut the fat, mechanics that are holdover from previously themed seasons that aren’t useful anymore will probably be going. Not to blame any single season for the weird holdover mechanics still in the game, but ‘Primal’ may have worn out its welcome.
  • POIs – Big POI changes are going to be a must for the season change.
  • Loot Pool – Major loot pool changes will be coming; this will likely consolidate what’s currently around.
  • Flying Animals – This is one thing that’s been heavily rumoured and talked about by those in the Fortnite community. Animals that can be flown have been rumoured for quite a bit.

Those are some of the changes we can probably expect at the Fortnite chapter 3 release date. Although, one major change is worth delving into with more depth:

Fortnite Chapter 3 Map

The map Is probably the single biggest and most important change coming with the new season. That’s unless you only play Fortnite to watch for the Default’s fashion choices. Fortnite is rare amongst Battle Royales in how it treats its map. Unlike Warzone, Apex, and PUBG, there’s no multiple maps going on here. Fortnite has one map at a time. No matter how much the community wanted to revisit Chapter 1, Epic have kept it locked in their vault. We can definitely expect a fresh one for Chapter 3. This new map will probably be a different shape, layout and with different POIs.

Rumours at the moment point part toward a large landmass with smaller themed islands around it. This is an interesting design, and has been mocked up as this based on the rumours:

We can expect to see brand new POIs on the new map alongside reimaginings of old ones. It might even herald the return of Tilted or Salty.

Fortnite Chapter 3 Competitive & Esports

The big changes to how Fortnite works are great fun for players and fans. However, seasonal changes could mean big things for esports too. Chapter 1 of Fortnite for esports was very much a testing ground. Even into its final seasons and the Fortnite World Cup, it seemed like Epic were still just throwing money at Fortnite and trying to figure out a format that worked. In Chapter 2, they found one.

This chapter has largely been defined by the FNCS. Partially down to the impact of Coronavirus, and partially to Epic’s way of doing things. Recently there have been a few events organized by partners with a more over-arching prize. Coming at the end of a Chapter, the Grand Royale now makes a lot of sense. With this ending, what can we expect from esports at the Fortnite Chapter 3 release date?

Epic aren’t likely to be throwing the FNCS format away any time soon, or the Cash Cups. This system allows players, both pro and aspiring, to play a truly open esports event. There is a low barrier to entry and we get the widest field possible. This has meant for some tense and exciting finals, but also a system that encourages new players to come into the game. However, there are some big things missing which Chapter 3 could deliver on:

Different Formats to Trios & Return to In-Person Events

For the high-level tournaments, Epic has been focusing almost exclusively on Trios. This is for good reason. However, it would be great to see the return of more flexible formats in higher ranked tournaments. At the least, Solo games are still hugely entertaining. The Fortnite World Cup’s Solo event ended up being one of the most important aspects. A FNCS Solo tournament has ran from time to time, more of these different formats would go a long way in Chapter 3.

The Fortnite World Cup hasn’t yet been topped in the game for stakes. Is Epic planning to bring this back after the Fortnite chapter 3 release date? They are definitely not planning anything until at least the second half of 2022. While this doesn’t rule anything out, we probably won’t see an event on that scale in 2022, but something like the Grand Royale in person could be a possibility. 2023 looks likely to be the return date for the World Cup, fans will have to wait a while to see that.

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The problem with the RNC blaming Biden for the ongoing Covid crisis

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For much of the year, Republicans were content to blame President Joe Biden for his efforts to end the Covid-19 pandemic. The more the White House took steps to save lives, the more GOP voices complained that those efforts were at odds with Republicans’ philosophical beliefs about “freedom.”

But very recently, the GOP’s rhetoric shifted. It was no longer enough to whine that Biden was doing too much to end the public health crisis; it became time to blame Biden for the fact that the public health crisis he inherited isn’t yet over.

Indeed, it’s been amazing to watch the usual suspects embrace the same talking point at roughly the same time. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently complained on the House floor, “I took President Biden at his word; I took him at his word when he said he was going to get Covid under control.” Within a week, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and Fox News personalities were pushing a similar line.

Yesterday, as Wonkette noted, the Republican National Committee packaged the argument into an 11-word, bumper-sticker-style attack.

“Joe Biden promised he would shut down the coronavirus,” snarked the RNC via the @GOP Twitter account. “He failed.”

Given the sudden ubiquity of the talking point, it’s hard not to wonder whether some Republican pollsters found a focus group or two that found this persuasive. Indeed, I can appreciate why the argument may even have a child-like appeal to those who have no meaningful understanding of current events: Biden’s principal focus has been on ending the pandemic; the pandemic isn’t over; ergo, the right is justified in blaming Biden.

The problem, of course, is that reality shreds the argument as indefensible.

At this point, we could talk at length about how effective the Biden administration’s vaccine rollout has been. Or we could explain that ending a crisis of this magnitude takes more time than any of us would like. Or we could discuss how much better things might’ve been if the president’s immediate predecessor hadn’t failed so spectacularly in dealing with the pandemic in a responsible way.

Or we could explore the degree to which Republicans themselves have hampered Biden’s efforts, making this entire line of attack hopelessly bizarre.

But even putting all of these relevant angles aside, among the serious problems with the RNC’s nonsense is the set of incentives it creates: The Republican Party is telling its base, in no uncertain terms, that if they want to hand Biden a political defeat, they have the power to do so.

All rank-and-file Republicans have to do is act in the most irresponsible ways possible — don’t get vaccinated, don’t get booster shots, don’t wear masks, etc. — which will extend the Covid crisis, and in turn, make it easier to blame Biden for not “shutting down the coronavirus.”

Imagine how much better off we’d be if the Republican National Committee made an aggressive effort to encourage GOP voters to protect themselves and their communities from Covid-19, instead of pretending the White House is responsible for the ongoing crisis.

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Trump Loyalists ‘Chipping’ Away at Elections: Colorado Sec. of State

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  • Jena Griswold sounded a warning about upcoming elections. 
  • She told The Washington Post there was a bid to place Trump allies in roles overseeing elections. 
  • Trump has sought to pressure elections officials to subvert President Joe Biden’s victory. 

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Republicans are “chipping away” at safe and secure elections so they can falsely claim victory in the event of close results in the 2022 midterms or 2024 presidential election, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold told The Washington Post

Griswold’s claim come as Republican lawmakers and activists in some states have in recent months placed loyalists to former President Donald Trump in key positions overseeing elections. 

  • In October, Detroit News reported that Republican lawmakers in Michigan were seeking to replace officials on canvassing boards with loyalists, some of whom supported Trump’s bogus election fraud claims. Among the responsibilities of canvassing boards is the certification of election results. 
  • The Atlantic reported in November that Trump supporters had been elected to the posts of judge of elections and inspector of elections in Pennsylvania. Those officials monitor election spaces, and ensure ballots are properly tabulated. 
  • Colorado officials told The Post there was a campaign on conservative social media channels to encourage Trump supporters to apply for vacancies on election offices.
  • State and local election officials also told The Post that Trump supporters were seeking to place loyalists into voluntary local election positions, such as poll watchers, as well as elected positions like county clerks and state attorney general. 

Griswold told The Post that the attempt to place Trump allies in roles overseeing elections was part of a bid to subvert election results that don’t go the way of Republicans in the future. 

“The attacks right now are no longer about 2020,” Griswold told The Post. “They’re about 2022 and 2024. It’s about chipping away at confidence and chipping away at the reality of safe and secure elections. And the next time there’s a close election, it will be easier to achieve their goals. That’s what this is all about.”

Trump has repeatedly refused to accept his defeat in last year’s presidential election, and in the wake of his defeat waged a monthslong battle to pressure election officials in states such as Georgia to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory.

He has continued to repeat his baseless claim that the election was stolen from him in public appearances and rallies, as he stirs rumors of a 2024 presidential bid. 

There is no evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims, but they have been embraced by many of his grassroots supporters nonetheless. 

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