James Ensor The intrigue 1890
I’m going in there
The mom that ran in and saved her kids after being handcuffed in Uvalde finally spoke out. pic.twitter.com/wHNouRkCY7
— barbarism critic (luxury gay space communist arc) (@SxarletRed) June 3, 2022
From The Guardian, no less.
• Russia Is Winning The Economic War – And No Closer To Withdrawing Troops (G.)
It is now three months since the west launched its economic war against Russia, and it is not going according to plan. On the contrary, things are going very badly indeed. Sanctions were imposed on Vladimir Putin not because they were considered the best option, but because they were better than the other two available courses of action: doing nothing or getting involved militarily. The first set of economic measures were introduced immediately after the invasion, when it was assumed Ukraine would capitulate within days. That didn’t happen, with the result that sanctions – while still incomplete – have gradually been intensified.
There is, though, no immediate sign of Russia pulling out of Ukraine and that’s hardly surprising, because the sanctions have had the perverse effect of driving up the cost of Russia’s oil and gas exports, massively boosting its trade balance and financing its war effort. In the first four months of 2022, Putin could boast a current account surplus of $96bn (£76bn) – more than treble the figure for the same period of 2021. When the EU announced its partial ban on Russian oil exports earlier this week, the cost of crude oil on the global markets rose, providing the Kremlin with another financial windfall. Russia is finding no difficulty finding alternative markets for its energy, with exports of oil and gas to China in April up more than 50% year on year.
That’s not to say the sanctions are pain-free for Russia. The International Monetary Fund estimates the economy will shrink by 8.5% this year as imports from the west collapse. Russia has stockpiles of goods essential to keep its economy going, but over time they will be used up. But Europe is only gradually weaning itself off its dependency on Russian energy, and so an immediate financial crisis for Putin has been averted. The rouble – courtesy of capital controls and a healthy trade surplus – is strong. The Kremlin has time to find alternative sources of spare parts and components from countries willing to circumvent western sanctions.
When the global movers and shakers met in Davos last week, the public message was condemnation of Russian aggression and renewed commitment to stand solidly behind Ukraine. But privately, there was concern about the economic costs of a prolonged war.
“Russia is the only superpower with a self-sufficient economy..”
• US Officials Admit They Lied About Ukraine Success and Russian Failures (GP)
If you think the West has learned its lesson and opted to focus on truth, think again. Germany’s Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, was peddling these whoppers to his own government this week: Western sanctions in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine are still taking a heavy toll on the Russian war machine. . . .The Russian economy is collapsing,” . . . adding that Germany had played its part here by reducing exports to Russia in March by 60%, with an even sharper fall expected in April. The obvious question for any reporter with the brain power of a cretin would be, “what is the evidence that Russia’s economy is collapsing?” The truth is that all sectors are firing on all cylinders.
Just because Germany has decided to commit economic hari kari by declining to purchase cheap Russian oil, does not mean that Russia is bleeding out financially. The Economist reported two weeks ago that Russia is running a record trade surplus. Yes, Russia is importing fewer Mercedes and BMWs via the open market. First, Russia is not dependent on having western luxury items filling western owned stores. Second, the Russian mafia is more than willing to fill the gap and obtain such goods via the black market. Seems like the West never learns. Habeck also forgets the first rule of crisis management–when you are in a hole, stop digging. He made this even more outlandish claim:
“Moscow had lost access to parts crucial to its ability to fight the war, . . . such as “security updates for airplanes, with the result that the planes will soon be grounded”. He apparently did not get the briefing, widely available in the public domain, that Russia builds it own planes, rockets, space ships and tanks. Putin did not outsource critical industry to China or Mexico. Reality will remind the United States and its crazy European allies that Russia is the only superpower with a self-sufficient economy. The economy of Russia is not dependent on having a Russian version of Rodeo Drive filled with overpriced baubles.
“..many US officials privately doubt Ukraine could expel Russia from the region..”
• NATO Chief: Ukraine Shouldn’t Drop Goal to Drive Russia Out of Crimea (Antiwar)
In an interview with The Washington Post, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine shouldn’t avoid declaring ambitious war aims of driving Russia out of the eastern Donbas region and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia has controlled since 2014. “They have the right to say that they are fighting for the whole of Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said. The Post report said that many US officials privately doubt Ukraine could expel Russia from the region and that such goals would “doom Kyiv to an endless war.” Stoltenberg has warned that NATO should be prepared to provide Ukraine with long-term support for its fight against Russia. “We need to be prepared that this may actually drag on for a long time,” he said.
Ukrainian President Voldymr Zelensky recently rejected a suggestion from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said Ukraine should cede territory to Russia to achieve peace. Earlier in the war, Russia made clear that its demands for a ceasefire include Ukraine dropping its claim to Crimea and recognizing the independence of the breakaway Donbas republics. As the war grinds on, Russia is making slow, but steady gains in the eastern Donbas region. Russian forces have also controlled most of the Kherson oblast, which is north of Crimea, for months now, and there are signs that Moscow is considering annexing the region. Retaking territories now controlled by Russia would take a massive offensive by Ukraine, but Ukrainian forces are taking heavy losses. Zelensky said this week that between 60 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers are being killed every day.
While the US and its allies have shipped billions in weapons to Ukraine since Russia invaded, Ukrainian officials say it isn’t enough to mount a counterattack. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Friday that Kyiv “needs more” to mount a “sufficient counterattack and kick them outside of our country to liberate all occupied territory.”
“They are all paying close attention to the Russia gas-for-rubles experiment…”
• Bilderberg does China (Escobar)
A serious debate is raging across virtually all sectors of Chinese society on the American weaponization of the world financial casino. The conclusions are inevitable: get rid of US Treasuries, fast, by any means necessary; more imports of commodities and strategic materials (thus the importance of the Russia-China strategic partnership); and firmly secure overseas assets, especially those foreign currency reserves. Meanwhile Bilderberg’s “diverse group”, on the other side of the pond, is discussing, among other things, what will really happen in case they force the IMF racket to blow up (a key plan to implement The Great Reset, or “Great Narrative”).
They are starting to literally freak out with the slowly but surely emergence of an alternative, resource-based monetary/financial system: exactly what the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) is currently discussing and designing, with Chinese input. Imagine a counter-Bilderberg system where a basket of Global South actors, resource-rich but economically poor, are able to issue their own currencies backed by commodities, and finally get rid of their status of IMF hostages. They are all paying close attention to the Russia gas-for-rubles experiment. And in China’s particular case, what will always matter is loads of productive capital underpinning a massive, extremely deep industrial and civil infrastructure.
No wonder Davos and Bilderberg messenger boys, when they look at The Grand Chessboard, are filled with dread: their era of perpetual free lunch is over. What would delight cynics, skeptics, neoplatonists and Taoists galore is that it was Davos-Bilderberg Men (and Women) who actually boxed themselves into zugzwang. All dressed up – with nowhere to go. Even JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon – who didn’t even bother to go to Bilderberg – is scared, saying an economic “hurricane” is coming. And overturning the chessboard is no remedy: at best that may invite a ceremonious tuxedo visit by Mr. Sarmat and Mr. Zircon carrying some hypersonic bubbly.
“..the greatest costs will be borne by the public, if our legal proceedings become as performative and shallow as our politics.”
The problem is not that the committee will move forward with hearings or a report. Despite its partisan composition and agenda, there is always a value to greater transparency about what occurred on that tragic day. The problem is the effort to ratchet up interest through conflict. The committee has taken the rare step of subpoenaing GOP colleagues, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and threatening to hold them in contempt like Navarro and other former Trump officials. Despite years of bitter political divisions, the two parties have long avoided using subpoenas against each other. It was viewed as a step toward mutually assured destruction if House members unleashed inherent investigatory powers on each other.
House Democratic leaders, however, shattered that long tradition of restraint despite the fact that they may gain little from the effort. What they will lose is a long-standing detente on the use of subpoenas against colleagues — and they are creating a new precedent for such internal subpoenas just months before they could find themselves in the minority. Today’s hunters then could become the hunted, if Republicans claim the same license after November’s elections. The House already is a dysfunctional body that allows for little compromise or dialogue between parties. The targeting of fellow members now will remove one of the few remaining restraints on unbridled partisan rage. Judge Faruqui encouraged Navarro to consider the basis of his self-defense when Navarro seemed intent on self-immolation.
In addition to announcing that he would represent himself, Navarro made an extended statement on the steps of the courthouse in his defense. He then incongruously said he could not discuss “legal matters” before plunging again into his legal defense points. Navarro is known as someone who tends toward the path of greatest resistance. In a city known for highly managed criminal defendants with legions of lawyers and PR advisers, Navarro was a captivating figure as he held forth outside the courthouse. Yet for all that he has in terms of personal guts, he lacks legal authority. The problem is that even as he claimed executive privilege to avoid answering any of the House committee’s questions, he was publishing a book and giving interviews on the very subject matter of the subpoenas.
It was an ill-considered course that may make him an icon on the right but could also make him a convicted defendant. As he repeatedly pitched his book outside the court, it seemed clear that his priority was not acquittal. Navarro at one point asked, “Who are these people?” I have found myself asking the same question about all of the players in this subpoena war. Institutions and individuals alike seem to be in a crazed fit with little concern for how their actions may play out beyond the next election. But the greatest costs will be borne by the public, if our legal proceedings become as performative and shallow as our politics.
Rare side effects.
• COVID Vaccines Linked To 25% Increase In Cardiac Arrest (INN)
A new study by Israeli researchers and published in Nature has revealed an increase of over 25 percent in cardiovascular-related emergency calls in the young-adult population, following the rollout of COVID vaccines, among both males and females. No similar increase was found due to COVID infection alone. Israel health authorities and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control (CDC) have acknowledged a link between COVID vaccines and specific cardiovascular complications. The risk of myocarditis after receiving a second vaccine dose is now estimated to be between 1 in 3000 to 1 in 6000 in men aged 16 to 24. Recent articles in scientific journals, however, have sought to suggest that cardiovascular complications following COVID infection are more common than those following vaccination.
This assertion is contradicted by the findings from a recent study conducted by Israeli researchers, using data from Israel National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) related to “cardiac arrest and acute coronary syndrome EMS calls in the 16–39-year-old population” between 2019 and 2021. This enabled them to compare baseline (pre-COVID epidemic) to COVID epidemic without vaccines, to COVID epidemic following widespread vaccine takeup. An increase of over 25% was detected in both call types during January–May 2021, compared with the years 2019–2020. That is to say, “increased rates of vaccination … are associated with increased number of CA [cardiac arrest] and ACS [acute coronary syndrome].” By contrast, the trial “did not detect a statistically significant association between the COVID-19 infection rates and the CA and ACS weekly call counts.”
While the dangers of myocarditis for young males have gained widespread attention, this study found a larger increase in CA and ACS events among females that was linked to COVID vaccination. Myocarditis is known to be a “major cause of sudden, unexpected deaths in adults less than 40 years of age and is assessed to be responsible for 12–20% of these deaths,” the study’s authors note. They add that their findings have been mirrored by researchers in Germany and Scotland. They caution that given these findings, “It is essential to raise awareness among patients and clinicians with respect to related symptoms (e.g., chest discomfort and shortness of breath) following vaccination or COVID-19 infection to ensure that potential harm is minimized.”
This seems the only valid way to look at it:
“It is difficult for this Court to imagine what could be more intrusive and more destructive to the employer-employee relationship than requiring employees to forfeit their bodily autonomy in the name of maintaining their livelihood”
• Judge Rules In Favor Of St. Paul Unions Over Covid Vaccination Mandate (TC)
A judge ruled Thursday that the city of St. Paul’s COVID vaccination policy for police, firefighters and legions of other unionized city workers should have been part of the bargaining process, and he barred the city from enforcing it until it is approved as part of a negotiated agreement. The employee unions filed lawsuits last year over the coronavirus vaccine mandate for employees, calling it an unfair labor practice — and the judge agreed. The firefighters’ lawsuit noted that the city didn’t negotiate with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 21 before making “a unilateral change to the terms and conditions” of employment for Local 21 members.
In his ruling, Ramsey County Judge Leonardo Castro noted that the city didn’t engage in bad faith by implementing the vaccination policy, but nevertheless enacted an unfair labor policy. “The City was faced with the height of a pandemic and based its actions upon what it believed to be in the best interest of the health and safety of its employees and the public,” Castro wrote in the ruling. “There was no malice, conspiracy or employee targeting involved.” The city did engage in discussions of the policy with union representatives, Castro wrote, though not in formal bargaining. For an issue such as injecting your own body with a foreign substance versus losing your job, he reasoned, that’s not enough.
“It is difficult for this Court to imagine what could be more intrusive and more destructive to the employer-employee relationship than requiring employees to forfeit their bodily autonomy in the name of maintaining their livelihood,” he wrote.
What will they all do in September?
• Italy and Germany End Travel Restrictions (CS)
Following the lead of other nations across Europe and the world, both Italy and Germany announced they were ending all COVID-related travel restrictions and requirements for travellers looking to enter their countries. “As of June 1, 2022, a Green Pass or equivalent certificate is no longer needed to enter Italy. All Covid-19 related entry restrictions have been lifted.” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced on its website. Before the announcement, those wishing to enter Italy had to provide proof of vaccination, proof that they had recovered from COVID-19, or provide a negative COVID-19 test. These requirements are now gone. The decision comes roughly one month after Italy scrapped its vaccine passport within the country.
Similarly, while not as absolute as Italy’s decision, Germany has decided to end nearly all travel restrictions until the end of August. According to an update on the German Federal Foreign Office’s website, “As of June 1, the requirements to register before entry, provide a negative test result and to quarantine only applies to travellers who have stayed in an area of variant of concern. Extension of the Ordinance on Coronavirus Entry Regulations until August 31, 2022.” Italy and Germany now join the growing list of sensible countries that have ended the vaccine passport and travel restrictions in the wake of the incredibly mild Omicron variant.
This list of countries includes the following: the UK, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Austria, Romania, and many others. Canada, of course, remains one of the most thoroughly backwards countries on the planet and has extended its federal vaccine mandate until the end of June. This includes the federal travel ban on unvaccinated Canadians, who, being unable to board a plane, train, ferry, or cross over into the US, remain de facto prisoners in their own country.
Erdogan’s standard threat.
• Turkey Accuses Greece Of Harboring Terrorist Organizations (AMNA)
Turkey’s recent accusations that Greece is supposedly harboring terrorist organizations are “false and unfounded,” and are therefore “rejected in their entirety,” said Greek diplomatic sources on Saturday. Greece, sources clarified, “fully implements European Union decisions in the fight against terrorism.” Anadolu news agency had earlier reported that the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Greek ambassador to Ankara to protest that allegedly Athens provides terrorist organizations with opportunities to engage in various activities. According to Anadolu, Greek Ambassador to Ankara Christodoulos Lazaris was called in because Greek authorities allowed a protest gathering be held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) near the Turkish embassy in Athens, an organization that has been classified as a terrorist one by the EU and by Turkish authorities, it was added.
The Times of London publishes Russian disinformation.
• Laptop From Hell May Produce Data With Disaster For Joe Biden (Times)
Mac Isaac is an albino with restricted sight who was vague in interviews in 2020 about whether he got a good look at his customer. In his book, American Injustice, he says he made repeated attempts to return the laptop and then hand it over to the authorities. He said he was angered that, after he gave all the material to the FBI, it did not feature in the first impeachment of President Trump over his pressure on President Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Mac Isaac says that spurred him to hand a copy of the data to Robert Costello, a lawyer for Rudy Giuliani, who in turn was acting as Trump’s lawyer. Mac Isaac says that the customer who came in with three liquid-damaged laptops appeared “intoxicated” with speech that was “a little slurred”.
Speaking to a Fox News podcast, he added: “When I actually left the shop probably about 45 minutes after he left the shop, I noticed his vehicle was still there. I just assumed that he was sleeping one off.” One of the laptops was a write-off and one just needed an external keyboard. “The third computer, there was a glimmer of life, but it required me to check it in so I could take it apart, disconnect some components to get the machine up and running,” Mac Isaac said. “I explained that process with him, I printed up an authorisation allowing me to take custody of the machine. And I had him sign that document, review the document with him.” It contained his usual proviso that, if unclaimed after 90 days, the computer was considered abandoned and became Mac Isaac’s property.
He says that the manual nature of dragging files and then comparing some to see if the data was intact led him to see what was on the computer. “That’s when I realised that the person . . . that’s storing in a lot of this homemade porn is actually the guy that dropped off the laptop,” he said. Mac Isaac denies he breached Hunter Biden’s privacy. “He wanted me to recover his data. When a customer requires a data recovery it’s usually for two things, movies and pictures. It’s for the things that you can’t replace,” he said. He says he opened a long video to check for digital corruption and found issues of another sort. “That just happened to be a homemade video of Hunter [doing] amazingly multiple illegal acts at the same time . . . smoking crack, while engaged in sex trade — I don’t know — I’m pretty sure, I’m not a lawman.”
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