Gustav Klimt Litzlberg am Attersee 1914-15
Moment 'Grim Reaper' appears at Westminster Abbey during the coronation pic.twitter.com/61l71Evin8
— The Sun (@TheSun) May 6, 2023
RFK Jr. talks to Douglas Macgregor
“The remaining 5% do not play any role for the so-called development of progress and the march of the ‘Red Army’ further to the West..”
Russian forces control about 95% of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut) and the remaining 5% have no influence on the progress of the special military operation, Wagner PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin says. “Almost 95% of the city territory has been captured in Artyomovsk to date. The remaining 5% do not play any role for the so-called development of progress and the march of the ‘Red Army’ further to the West. Two square kilometers do not influence the progress of the military operation at all,” he said, cited by the Prigozhin’s press office in its Telegram channel. Nobody communicated with him about the shortage of ammunition, Prigozhin said. “The personnel of Wagner PMC will be preserved for the next operations in interests of Russia,” he noted. The Wagner PMC founder also said he had no ambitions of leaving his mark as the person “that took Artyomovsk.” “I have ambitions to be of service to our nation and state,” he added.
Chrystia Freeland tells Hillary Clinton
Chrystia Freeland tells Hillary Clinton: "I agree with you Madam Secretary that the single strongest message of deterrence we can send to China is a decisive Ukrainian victory." pic.twitter.com/iaTqohLo4I
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) May 6, 2023
“Prigozhin said that the operation of the Wagner group had fulfilled its task in Bakhmut. According to him, the goal of the Bakhmut meat grinder was not to take the city, but to grind the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He said that 95% of the territory of Bakhmut is now under the control of Russian forces, and the remaining 5%, according to him, “do not play any role”. He said that he doesn’t care about being in the history books as the one who took Bakhmut, he cares about serving his own people” — RIA
The Wagner Group private military company will withdraw from the key Donbass city of Artyomovsk (known in Ukraine as Bakhmut) on May 10, the group’s chief, Evgeny Prigozhin, has announced. The PMC’s positions will be taken over by the Chechen Special Forces Unit ‘Akhmat’, he said. Prigozhin claimed to have been in contact with Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, to perform the maneuver. The Wagner leader expressed confidence that the Chechen units will capture Artyomovsk completely, of which just a few blocks in the city’s western part remain under the control of Ukrainian forces.
“I am already in contact with [Kadyrov’s] representatives in order to start transferring positions immediately, so that on May 10, at 00:00, exactly at the moment when, according to our calculations, we will completely exhaust our combat potential, our comrades will take our places and continue the assault on the city of Bakhmut,” Prigozhin said in a statement on Saturday. Later in the day, Kadyrov released a short video address stating that he has already raised the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, notifying him of his willingness to replace the Wagner fighters in the city. The Akhmat fighters are already on standby and ready to be redeployed to Artyomovsk, he added.
“The soldiers are on high alert, we are only waiting for orders. Several units have already set off towards the special military operation zone,” Kadyrov stated. Prigozhin announced the looming withdrawal of his forces from the city earlier this week, citing heavy losses and a shortage of artillery munitions. The group will be redeployed from the frontlines to rear camps to “lick their wounds,”he said. Artyomovsk has seen intense fighting in recent months, with the raging battle commonly referred to as the “Bakhmut meat grinder.”The city is a key road and rail junction in Donbass, with both sides reportedly suffering significant casualties during the struggle for control over it. Kiev has continuously poured reserves into the city, which remains partially surrounded by Wagner and other Russian troops.
“We have already begun to develop our own strategy for this area together with the Russian Defense Ministry..”
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has said that the Akhmat commando force is ready to move into Artemovsk (Ukrainian name Bakhmut). “Akhmat [commando] units are ready to move to Artemovsk (Bakhmut). I have already signed the corresponding message to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief saying the Akhmat units are ready to take control of the city and to clear it from NATO and Ukrainian satanists. The fighters are in combat readiness. We are only waiting for the orders. Several units are already on the way to the zone of the special military operation,” Kadyrov wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday.
The Chechen leader is certain that Artyomovsk will soon be liberated. “In the near future we will liberate the city, despite all sorts of fake news about some terrible counterattack by the Ukrainian army. We have already begun to develop our own strategy for this area together with the Russian Defense Ministry and with due regard for the tactics being used by the enemy and the resources available to us. Believe me, the tactic will yield positive results,” Kadyrov added.
Scott Ritter draws overflow crowd in St. Petersburg, Russia pic.twitter.com/L9Y9FB8crx
— Jeff Norman (@citizenjeff) May 6, 2023
Who’s more likely to use nukes?
Some Western politicians have warned Ukraine against attempting to retake Crimea by force, President Vladimir Zelensky’s representative claims. Tamila Tasheva, who is tasked with Crimea-related issues, says their reservations stem from fears that if faced with losing the region, Russia might respond with tactical nuclear weapons. Speaking to Poland’s PAP news agency on Friday, Tasheva said Kiev’s preparations for a major counteroffensive have sparked discussions among Western elites regarding the potential repercussions. “Some Western politicians – not states – are warning Ukraine. They claim that the recapture of Crimea could lead to a nuclear war,” she said. According to Tasheva, these politicians argue that while an operation like this is feasible, the fallout could be severe.
Other voices have called into question whether Crimea has ever really been a part of Ukraine, she said. “In their opinion, we should completely give up trying to regain it.” Zelensky’s representative dismissed concerns over a potential nuclear response by Russia as unlikely. She went on to insist that there has long been a bond between Crimea and Ukraine, adding that pro-Kiev saboteurs are active on the peninsula. Multiple drone attacks have taken place in Crimea in recent weeks, targeting Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and an oil storage facility. The Russian authorities say they believe Ukraine was behind the strike on the storage facility, which led to a massive blaze last Saturday. The Ukrainian military, while stopping short of claiming responsibility, hinted that the attack was part of preparations ahead of Kiev’s much-hyped counteroffensive.
Speaking to Scandinavian media outlets last Friday, President Zelensky expressed hope that Ukraine’s forces will be able to “de-occupy” Crimea, as well as Russia’s newly-incorporated territories – the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions. The predominantly-Russian speaking Crimea joined Russia in 2014 following a referendum that was held after the Maidan coup in Kiev that same year.
French journalist about Ukrainian war crimes
'It was very hard because, how can I put it? They killed so many. I sensed evil like never before. It was, for me, a very hard moment and I'll remember it all my life'. pic.twitter.com/jzkTpOUl8y
— MARIA (@its_maria012) May 6, 2023
“The deal also requires Western countries to unblock Russian grain and fertilizer exports..”
Another round of talks aimed at prolonging the Black Sea grain deal has ended in deadlock, Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for UN secretary-general, told the media. Technical personnel from Russia, Türkiye, Ukraine, and the UN met in Istanbul on Friday, ahead of a senior-level meeting scheduled for next week. According to the UN spokesperson, the parties failed to agree on the authorization of new vessels to join the Black Sea shipments. Nevertheless, daily inspection work on the previously authorized vessels will continue. “We urge all parties to continue their discussions, overcome operational challenges and work towards the full implementation and continuation of the initiative,”Farhan Haq said. Last year, the UN and Türkiye brokered an agreement which allows the safe export of Ukrainian grain though the Black Sea. The deal also requires Western countries to unblock Russian grain and fertilizer exports.
In March, Russia agreed to extend the deal by 60 days, to May 18. The Kremlin has said that not all parties are fulfilling their part of the agreement. Moscow has also complained that wealthy countries, rather than those at serious risk of food shortages, receive the majority of agricultural goods from Ukraine. Among its conditions, Moscow has demanded that the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) be reconnected to the international SWIFT payment system. Earlier this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the possibility of allowing the bank to return to SWIFT is part of the discussions on extending the grain deal. According to Cavusoglu, while the parties are actively collaborating, there are no guarantees that the deal will be extended.
“..unfortunately, it was used by the Ukrainian side, in particular, to organize terrorist attacks against Sevastopol, which is absolutely unacceptable.”
Ukraine’s attempts to exploit the Black Sea grain corridor to stage terrorist attacks on Crimea, Russia cannot be tolerated, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said in an exclusive interview with RT released on Saturday. Speaking after talks with the United Nations Trade and Development chief on the renewal of the landmark UN- and Türkiye-brokered grain deal with Ukraine, which is set to expire on May 18, Vershinin signaled that Russia is not satisfied with the way the agreement is being implemented. He said that while the talks turned out to be useful, as they allowed the headway being made to be measured, Russia “is not happy with the progress.” Vershinin explained that the part of the agreement unblocking Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea has yielded “real results,” but not without caveats.
“We are drawing attention to the fact that the grain… is probably being exported to the most developed countries… However, the very idea that was put forward by the UN secretary general [Antonio Guterres] to ensure food security in the world, as it turns out, is not actually happening.” Vershinin said the parties to the deal are working on the international humanitarian corridor to export grain, “but everyone knows that, unfortunately, it was used by the Ukrainian side, in particular, to organize terrorist attacks against Sevastopol, which is absolutely unacceptable.” The deputy foreign minister went on to tout Russia’s potential in ensuring global food security. “It is well-known, if we remove barriers for our agricultural exports, and for the exports of our fertilizers, many countries of the world will benefit.”
Concluded last July, the landmark grain deal with Ukraine has since hit some stumbling blocks. Russian officials have repeatedly complained that while the deal indeed unblocked Ukrainian grain exports, it failed to unblock deliveries of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets, mostly due to the Western sanctions. The deal has also been marred by several Ukrainian attacks using the grain corridor, resulting in Russia briefly suspending its participation in the agreement in October 2022. In April, Russia’s Defense Ministry said that Ukraine had broken its promise not to use the grain corridor for military purposes after several unmanned boats attacked the Black Sea Fleet bases in Sevastopol, as well as civilian infrastructure on two occasions, potentially threatening the deal’s renewal.
“..he has no choice but to stay off the airwaves until after the 2024 election unless he is able to negotiate an exit.”
Recently-fired Fox News host Tucker Carlson may be sidelined from television news entirely until after the 2024 election unless he can extricate himself from his previous employment contract, according to multiple sources who spoke to the New York Times on Friday. The anchorman is restrained by a common clause known as ‘pay or play’ that restricts him from working for a competitor until the contract expires, an inside source told the outlet. Carlson’s contract is valid through January 2025, meaning he has no choice but to stay off the airwaves until after the 2024 election unless he is able to negotiate an exit. Carlson has reportedly retained entertainment lawyer Bryan Freedman to work out a settlement with his former employer.
Numerous outlets, both traditional and internet-based, are said to be courting the conservative pundit, including Rumble, the Daily Wire, Newsmax, and One America News. Carlson was let go last month hours before he was scheduled to go on the air, supposedly at the request of Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox Corporation, and Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media, according to a source who spoke to the Times. Media outlets including the Times have suggested his ouster was due to a text message discovered while the network was preparing for Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit to go to trial in which Carlson acknowledged the humanity of an Antifa protester. He had enjoyed watching the “creep”get beaten up, he admitted, even though “it’s not how white men fight.”
Other leaked texts from Carlson show him calling Trump lawyer Sidney Powell “cruel and reckless” for pushing the theory that Dominion was flipping votes for then-candidate Joe Biden. The network ultimately did not allow the Dominion suit to go to trial, settling with the voting machine manufacturer for $787 million. Carlson has remained largely silent about the circumstances of his departure, save for a two-minute clip he posted to Twitter decrying how “unbelievably stupid” most TV news content was and lamenting the absence of “undeniably big topics” on the airwaves. The clip has garnered over 24 million views in just two weeks, while Fox’s own ratings have plummeted, with the network losing half its audience in the coveted 25 to 54 demographic.
The Bill of Rights Bill
“Anatomy of A Politically Engineered Collision Course”
In recent months, the UK government has tabled two Bills before Parliament which would have the consequence – and almost certainly have the intention – of setting the UK on a collision course with the Council of Europe, and especially the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Both the Bill of Rights Bill and the Illegal Migration Bill, introduced on 22 June 2022 and 7 March 2023 respectively, contain provisions that openly flout the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). While the former is currently in parliamentary limbo, the Illegal Migration Bill will probably become law, following extensive amendment by the House of Lords, which will debate it on 10 May.
This post details how the Bills serve to undermine the UK’s obligations under the ECHR and explains their significance within the larger debate surrounding the UK’s possible withdrawal from the Convention. It places this debate in the context of the rarely-convened Council of Europe summit of heads of state and government in Reykjavik in May 2023, whose ambitious agenda is to protect the ‘common heritage’ of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the face of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and other existential threats. The Bill of Rights Bill would repeal and replace the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998, which gives effect in UK law to most of the rights and freedoms in the Convention. It is the product of a near decade long fixation by the – now former – Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, with abolishing the HRA and loosening the UK’s ties with Strasbourg, dating back to his 2011 polemic on the prisoner voting issue.
Several of the Bill’s provisions would create significant divergence between the UK and Strasbourg. The Bill would remove the current requirement under section 2 of the HRA for the UK courts to take relevant case law of the ECtHR into account and would encourage a more originalist reading of the Convention. The interpretive duty found in section 3 of the HRA would also be removed. This requires courts to interpret Acts of Parliament so that the rights, duties and powers they establish are exercised in ways that are compatible with Convention rights. Further, it would prevent UK judges from interpreting Convention rights in ways that create positive obligations on public authorities – and even discourage them from applying positive obligations that have already been identified in previous cases, creating inevitable contradiction with Strasbourg case law.
The Bill also instructs UK courts not to have regard to any interim measure (or urgent injunction) issued by the ECtHR, which would directly contravene the UK’s obligations under the Convention. The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) urged the Government not to proceed with the Bill, since: ‘it weakens rights protections, it undermines the universality of rights, it shows disregard for our international legal obligations; it creates legal uncertainty and hinders effective enforcement; it will lead to an increased caseload in Strasbourg; and will damage our international reputation as guardians of human rights’.
MbS cannot go back.
White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan will visit Saudi Arabia this weekend for talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), as the White House seeks to improve ties with Riyadh, Reuters reported on 5 May. Speaking at the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), Sullivan said he would be traveling to Saudi Arabia on Saturday for talks with Saudi leaders. Sources speaking with Reuters said Sullivan would meet with Crown Prince MbS. Sullivan said the Biden administration seeks a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program and criticized the Trump administration’s 2018 decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama in 2015. The deal placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
“Yes, we will take the necessary action to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon,” Sullivan said in his WINEP speech. Iranian leaders say they have no intention to develop nuclear weapons and that the country’s nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes. Oil production cuts by Saudi-led OPEC+ last October and differences between the US and Saudi Arabia over the 2018 assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi –carried out by agents close to MbS — hurt relations between the two historical allies. White House officials have also viewed Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to resume ties with Iran and Syria negatively. Representatives from India and the UAE will also join Sullivan’s trip to discuss “new areas of cooperation between New Delhi and the Gulf as well as the United States and the rest of the region.”
Sullivan said the US was working hard to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. “Ultimately getting to full normalization is a declared national security interest of the United States. We have been clear about that,” he said. “Now as a sign of my seriousness about how much we’re focused on this, and how seriously we are taking this, I am not going to say anything further lest I upset the efforts we are undertaking on this issue,” he added.
Maybe it should be “Global Economy Issues Grim Warning About IMF”.
The managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the world is on the edge of geo-economic fragmentation, which she believes could add more “cold water” to already anemic global growth. Speaking by video-link at the Brussels Economic Forum on Wednesday, Kristalina Georgieva called for cooperation at a time when growth across the globe is extremely weak by historical standards. “After decades of increasing global integration, there is a growing risk that the world may split into rival economic blocs,” the IMF chief said. “And that’s a scenario that would be bad for everyone, including for people in Europe.” She warned that growth prospects were increasingly bleak at a time when the global outlook is weak both in the near and medium term.
The IMF projects growth to remain around 3% over the next five years, the lowest medium-term forecast in more than three decades. “And yet, central bankers cannot take their eyes off the ball until stubborn inflation is firmly under control,” Georgieva pointed out. “The required monetary tightening is weighing on growth and exposing some financial vulnerabilities.” Reviving multilateral cooperation is vital for long-term growth everywhere, according to the official, who warned that trade fragmentation could cost up to 7% to the global economy in the long term. That’s “roughly equivalent to the combined annual output of Germany and Japan,” she said, adding that some nations could see GDP losses of up to 12% if technological decoupling is added.
“We cannot ignore these costs,” Georgieva stressed. The IMF boss had previously said that the shocks of the past few years, including the Covid pandemic, Russia-Ukraine conflict, and spike in interest rates after years of loose monetary policy, have been a drag on the global economy.
“The deal is expected to provide relief to cash-strapped Pakistan, which is facing a balance of payments crisis and critically low foreign exchange reserves.”
Pakistan is likely to pay for shipments of crude oil from Russia in Chinese yuan, local media reported on Saturday, citing government sources. The first cargo of 750,000 barrels is expected to dock as soon as in June. An unnamed official from the Ministry of Energy told The News International that the transaction would be facilitated by the Bank of China. The sources haven’t provided details about the mode of payment or the exact discount that Pakistan will receive, saying that making the information public is not in the interest of either buyer or seller. “Russia will provide URAL crude in the test cargo and most probably Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) will be tasked to refine the Russian crude,” the official said.
Other sources told the media that Pakistan has agreed a per-barrel price of around $50-52, compared to the G7 price cap on Russian oil of $60 per barrel. In December, the EU, G7, and their allies introduced a collective ban on Russian seaborne oil exports, along with a price cap of $60 per barrel. Another embargo banning almost all imports of Russian oil products, as well as introducing price caps on diesel and other petroleum products, kicked in on February 5. In January, Moscow and Islamabad reached “conceptual” agreements on supplies of Russian oil and petroleum products to Pakistan. The deal is expected to provide relief to cash-strapped Pakistan, which is facing a balance of payments crisis and critically low foreign exchange reserves.
“..the larger the US deficits, the greater the downward pressure on the dollar..”
New sources of non-dollar finance are emerging. There are new bilateral agreements to trade and lend in currencies other than the US dollar. Even more importantly, major oil trade buyers and sellers – Moscow and Riyadh as much as Beijing and New Delhi – are agreeing to trade it in non-dollar currencies. These deals are destroying one of the main pillars of dollar dominance since OPEC quadrupled and then doubled oil prices in the 1970s, giving countries around the world a major reason to demand and hold dollars. However, many analysts continue to write as if the dollar’s dominance remains intact. Of course, these arguments are based on all sorts of false assumptions. For instance, they claim the dollar will continue dominating until another country’currency replaces it or that this will only happen if other countries pursue forms of internationalization that mimic that of the US dollar today.
In a sense, the discussion is a little like that depicted in The Big Short, a film about a small band of bankers who bet against the housing market and the securities resting on it in the 2000s. Having made their bets, they waited for the market to collapse. It did. However, for a time, while mortgage defaults increased, the securities they are based on continued to rise in value. Prices were buoyed by investors primed by Alan Greenspan’s famous claim that there could not possibly be a housing market bubble. Nor were the securities downgraded. The rating agencies had not only given high scores to investment rubbish, they had come to believe their own lies. Only when the losses piled up and actually began to filter through the system in the form of payment shortfalls was the truth acknowledged.
De-dollarization also has its equivalent of the losses and payment shortfalls. Consider the recent Financial Times story, ‘China’s ‘men in black’ step up scrutiny of foreign corporate sleuths’. It describes the Chinese Ministry of State Security using “methods familiar to spies and private detectives” to crack down on “foreign corporate sleuths” performing “due diligence” on investments. They cite the process of checking whether a supply chain involved “forced labor from Xinjiang” as an example, stating that such due diligence is critical for attracting US investment. The piece adds that earlier, “the due diligence groups felt they had ample space to operate and that authorities understood their importance,” but now Beijing has stepped up scrutiny of these scrutineers on grounds of national security. They lament that “spy companies were the gatekeepers for money,” but now, “[t]hat sense of a mutually beneficial relationship is gone.”
Now, the Chinese government has no shortage of reasons for stepping up its scrutiny of the information being gathered by foreign, particularly US entities. After all, it is the target of a US hybrid war whose fronts multiply daily. However, this is not the only significance of the story. It goes deeper than that and testifies to de-dollarization. Since 1971 the US currency’s global role has rested on the claim that the dollar-denominated financial system was the world’s most sophisticated, with the broadest and deepest pools of capital from which the rest of the world’s investors could drink their fill. Certainly, the expansion of financial activity, also known as financialization, has been critical. By increasing financial demand for the dollar, it counteracted the Triffin Dilemma caused by the US deficits that provided the world with liquidity, meaning that the larger the US deficits, the greater the downward pressure on the dollar.
Pick them off one by one..
Almost half of the 4,800 banks in the US are nearly insolvent, as they have burned through their capital buffers, The Telegraph reported earlier this week, citing a group of banking experts. According to Professor Amit Seru, a banking expert at Stanford University, around half of US lenders are underwater. “Let’s not pretend that this is just about Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic,” he said. “A lot of the US banking system is potentially insolvent.” Last week, First Republic was seized by US financial regulators and acquired by JPMorgan, the country’s biggest bank. The San Francisco-based lender had previously received a $30-billion rescue shot from a group of Wall Street banks in the form of deposits. The sale of First Republic Bank followed massive deposit runs in March, which caused two regional lenders, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, to fail within days.
On Thursday, shares of Los Angeles-based PacWest and Arizona’s Western Alliance were suspended after their prices fell dramatically. Earlier in the week, shares of several regional US lenders plunged by at least 15%, triggering investor concerns about the financial health of other mid-sized banks. Around 2,315 banks across the US are currently sitting on assets worth less than their liabilities, according to a Hoover Institution report by Professor Seru and a group of banking experts, as cited by the media. The market value of the loan portfolios of these lenders is reportedly $2 trillion lower than the stated book value. Professor Seru raised questions over the steps taken by US financial watchdogs to tackle the problems faced by crisis-hit mid-sized lenders. The regulators can contain the immediate liquidity crisis by guaranteeing all deposits temporarily, according to Seru, who said, however, that this would not address the greater solvency crisis.
Set up to let Joe distance himself from the mess.
Last night, President Joe Biden did what is a relatively rare thing. He sat down with an actual reporter ostensibly to answer questions. While earlier promising a “major press conference” for the media as a whole to ask him questions, Biden instead did a low-risk interview with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle. In the interview, Ruhle briefly touched on the possible criminal charges awaiting Hunter Biden. Despite reports of a whistleblower alleging a bribery scandal involving the President, Ruhle assured the President (and the viewers) that the still unknown charges will involve “no ties to you.” Moreover, the interview is most interesting for what it did not address. It was a vivid example of what I previously called “the art of scandal implosion.” During the interview, Ruhle asked “Sir, there is something personal that’s affecting you. Your son — while there [are] no ties to you — could be charged by your Department of Justice. How will that impact your presidency?”
Biden answered, “First of all, my son’s done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him. And it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.” Note the framing: it is a “personal” not a “criminal” matter for the President that involves only his son. We still do not know what the charges might be, though there have been steady leaks indicating that the Delaware U.S. Attorney is focusing on tax and gun charges. Yet, there are mounting allegations over the President’s involvement in his son’s influence peddling and recent allegations of potential criminal conduct by the President. It would seem worthy of some inquiry or curiosity. This framing is only possible because the Justice Department and the media have worked tirelessly to avoid ties between Hunter Biden’s foreign dealings and the President. While influence peddling may not be a crime in itself, it often involves crimes to cover up the schemes from tax violations to false statements to unlawful financial transfers.
Last year, I wrote about a shift in the media after it was forced to belatedly acknowledge the authenticity of the Hunter Biden laptop: “Due to the continued work of a small number of media outlets like the New York Post, it is no longer possible to bury the story or continue the false claim that it is “Russian disinformation.” The hope now appears to be a “controlled demolition” where Hunter is indicted on limited grounds without causing collateral damage to the political and media establishment. Scandal implosion is as much an art as it is a science and could be the most brilliant achievement in this ongoing scandal.”This effort has been greatly advanced with the help of Attorney General Merrick Garland who has inexplicably refused to appoint a special counsel despite mounting evidence of influence peddling by the Biden family with Joe Biden as the object of those efforts.
Garland has effectively blocked the risk of a report on the extensive influence peddling, including the repeated references to President Biden as the “Big Guy” in emails who stood to gain from a 10 percent cut on a deal with a Chinese energy firm as well as other benefits. Emails also refer to Hunter Biden paying portions of his father’s expenses and taxes. Witnesses have come forward that directly link the President to these deals. Yet, none of that remotely interests reporters and MSNBC is not alone. The media continues to struggle to avoid even referencing the allegations against the Bidens. NPR had to correct a story that attempted to dismiss the entire laptop story as disinformation even after media acknowledged the authenticity of the laptop. This is why the narrow focus of the Justice Department is critical to imploding this scandal.
“He said he had forgotten to discuss the matter with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak..”
After attending the coronation of King Charles III in London, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva denounced the lack of concerted efforts to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent four years in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison. “It is an embarrassment that a journalist who denounced trickery by one state against another is arrested, condemned to die in jail and we do nothing to free him. It’s a crazy thing,” Lula told reporters. “We talk about freedom of expression; the guy is in prison because he denounced wrongdoing. And the press doesn’t do anything in defense of this journalist. I can’t understand it.” Lula offered the remarks in response to a question about Assange, who is a native Australian. He said he had forgotten to discuss the matter with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, but that he would write to him upon returning to Brazil.
Assange has been fighting extradition to the United States, and Lula’s comments come at a moment that he has shown little reluctance to voice his differences of opinion with Washington regarding geopolitical matters, particularly in his opposition to providing arms to Ukraine for its war against Russia, and accusing the US and Europe of encouraging the fighting. His stance and repeated statements have drawn sharp rebukes from the White House and Europe. For its part, Australia has been stepping up diplomatic pressure on the US government to call off its prosecution of Assange. On Friday, Australia’s Prime Minister Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview that “ enough is enough. There is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration.” Last November, Albanese told Parliament that his “position is clear and has been made clear to the U.S. administration: That it is time that this matter be brought to a close.”
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2023) May 6, 2023
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