Jan 242024
 
 January 24, 2024  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  43 Responses »


Nicolas de Staël Paris la nuit 1954

 

Trump ‘Honored’ By New Hampshire Win, Says Republican Party ‘Very United’ (Fox)
Israel Risks Dragging Egypt Into War (Blade)
Russia Will Do Everything to Integrate Egypt Into BRICS – Putin (Sp.)
UN Agency Says 570,000 People in Gaza Strip Face Dire Hunger (Sp.)
No Direct Threat From Russia – NATO (RT)
Germans Told To Prepare For Another War With Russia (RT)
Germany Can’t Afford Rearmament, Let Alone a ‘War’ With Russia (Sp.)
Davos Admits Possibility Of Ukraine Defeat (ZH)
Ukraine Spy Chief: Win “Not Even Conceivable” Without Mass Mobilization (ZH)
The German Establishment Wants To Ban AfD (Amar)
Pelosi’s J6 Committee Deleted Over 100 Encrypted Files (PB)
No One Is Safe in an Era of Kafkaesque Absurdity (Brooks)
Mayorkas Says Border Is Secure But Biden Says It Isn’t (MN)
Supreme Court Rules Texas Must Replace Barbed Wire With Giant Red Carpet (BBee)
Supreme Court Rules It’s Illegal For National Guard To Guard Nation (BBee)

 

 


New Hampshire Governor Sununu’s home town.

 

 

Vivek

 

 

Tucker Canada

 

 

Tucker Rand Paul

 

 

Fani
https://twitter.com/i/status/1749817785122013580

 

 

Kash Patel

 

 

Trump Jan 22

 

 

Kari Lake

 

 

Trump hotel jobs

 

 

 

 

Time for dirty tricks?!

Trump ‘Honored’ By New Hampshire Win, Says Republican Party ‘Very United’ (Fox)

Former President Trump said he is “very honored” by his New Hampshire primary win Tuesday night, telling Fox News Digital that the Republican Party is “very united” behind his candidacy. Trump won the first-in-the-nation primary Tuesday night, defeating former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Trump also won the Iowa caucuses last week. During an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital shortly after the race was called, Trump said he was honored. “I’m very honored by the result,” Trump said. Trump also said he is “looking forward to going against the worst president in the history of our country.” New Hampshire – where independent voters who make up roughly 40% of the electorate can vote in either major party’s contest and have long played an influential role in the state’s storied presidential primary – was considered fertile ground for Haley.

And Haley spent plenty of time and resources in the state, securing the influential endorsement of popular Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. But Trump dominated for a second week in a row, cruising to victory in both critical early voting states. When asked if he felt Haley would suspend her campaign, he said, “I don’t know. She should.” “She should because, otherwise, we have to keep wasting money instead of spending on Biden,” Trump said. “If she doesn’t drop out, we have to waste money instead of spending it on Biden, which is our focus.” Trump, who was joined at a rally Monday night in New Hampshire by his former opponents who then endorsed him, including Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, said the party is united.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign on Sunday and endorsed Trump. “The party is very united except for her,” Trump said. “The party is very united, and we’re looking forward to going against the worst president in the history of our country,” he said. But Haley, during a speech after the race was called, noted that she got close to half of the vote in New Hampshire. She said she is “the last one standing next to Donald Trump” and added that the race is “far from over.” “New Hampshire is the first in the nation, not the last,” Haley said. She is now looking ahead to South Carolina’s primary on Feb. 24.

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“..Netanyahu understands the importance of these strategic relations with Cairo and he will not damage those ties..”

Israel Risks Dragging Egypt Into War (Blade)

It’s been more than a hundred days since Israel kicked off its Iron Swords operation in Gaza following the bloody attack of October 7, when more than 1,200 Israelis were brutally murdered at the hands of Hamas militants. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to punish those responsible for the massacre, which also left more than 5,000 people wounded. He further promised to eliminate the Islamic group that controls Gaza, and to de-militarize the enclave that has posed a threat to Israel’s security. But more than three months down the line, officials in West Jerusalem still seem to be scratching their heads over how to achieve those goals. The main challenge is the continuous flow of arms, technology, and money to Gaza, from which the militants of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to fire rockets. And Israel believes it is coming from the Sinai Peninsula, smuggled through the border via the so-called Philadelphi Route.

The term emerged in 1982 following the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and the subsequent demarcation of the border. According to that agreement, both sides deployed troops on their respective sides along the 14km line, a move that promised stability and security. But several years later, in 1987, during the First Intifada, Palestinians started digging tunnels under the axis, through which they smuggled goods and weapons, as well as militants and money. By 2005, when Israel evacuated its 17 settlements from Gaza and handed over control of the axis to the Palestinian Authority, the Islamic group already had hundreds of such tunnels, and their numbers continued to grow – especially after Hamas seized power in the enclave in 2007. “Initially, Egypt didn’t exert any significant efforts into stopping that smuggling, simply because it brought a lot of economic benefits to both sides,” said Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior research scholar at The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

“It was during this time that Hamas boosted its arms arsenal, smuggling in weapons, money and technologies. It was also then, when Iranian and Hezbollah experts and technicians arrived in Gaza and taught Hamas engineers on how to develop their own industry,” he added. Then, in 2011, came the Arab Spring. The long-term ruler of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, was deposed, and the radical elements in Sinai started rearing their heads. Terror attacks have become a regular phenomenon, especially after 2014, when Daesh (Islamic State/IS) took control over most jihadist groups on the peninsula, establishing the so-called Wilayat Sinai. “These groups were against the newly established government of President Abdel Fattah A-Sisi. They were targeting the army and killing civilians across the country, so Cairo came to realize that there was cooperation between Hamas and those terrorists and it decided to break that link,” said Karmon.

Over the years, Cairo exerted multiple efforts into fighting the threat emanating from Sinai. It boosted its military presence on the peninsula, launched counterterrorism operations, and flooded hundreds of tunnels that linked Gaza to Egypt. But experts in Israel believe not all the loopholes were eliminated. Even more so, they are still being used to smuggle militants, weapons, and potentially Israeli hostages. This is why in recent weeks, a number of Israeli politicians, including Netanyahu, have stated that the Philadelphi Route should be recaptured, with Israel establishing full control over the territory. Karmon maintains Israel has no intention of occupying the area. Instead, the idea is that his country would just beef up its military presence in the region to maintain security. “Recapturing the area would be very difficult to execute, simply because we have a peace agreement with Egypt. Of course, there are right-wing voices who are calling for the occupation of Gaza or the building of settlements there, but Netanyahu understands the importance of these strategic relations with Cairo and he will not damage those ties,” the expert asserted.

However, in Egypt some are still worried. Hany Soliman, executive director of the Arab Center for Research and Studies (ACRS) in Cairo, says Netanyahu’s words are backed by actions. These include negotiations with the Americans on the construction of an underground wall on the Egyptian side. The project, which promises to be 1km deep and 13km long, will be equipped with sensors and other technology, enabling digging to be detected, and as such deterring radicals from trying their luck. The project is set to be funded by the US. But the possibility of such an endeavor taking place depends largely on the will of the Egyptians, says Soliman, and they might not want to rush it. “Firstly, on the political and security levels, Egypt will not sign such a protocol, especially at a time when there is a lack of clarity on Israeli intentions and when there are concerns about Israeli attempts to pass and impose their displacement plan,” he said. “And, secondly, let’s not forget the Palestinian Authority. It has full rights to object to this project. They can claim that the occupation of the Philadelphi axis is inconsistent with the Oslo Accords and that it infringes on their sovereignty”.

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“During the Russian presidency of the BRICS this year, we will try to do everything possible for Egypt to effectively integrate into the work of the group..”

Russia Will Do Everything to Integrate Egypt Into BRICS – Putin (Sp.)

Russia expects that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi will attend the BRICS summit in Russia’s Kazan scheduled for later in the year, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. “We are waiting for you, dear Mr. Sisi, at the unification summit [of BRICS] in Kazan in October this year,” Putin said during the ceremony of the start of the construction of the fourth power unit of Dabaa nuclear power plant (NPP). Russia has planned more than 200 BRICS events, and Moscow expects that representatives of Egypt will take an active part in them, the president said. “New promising opportunities for building up our fruitful cooperation are opening up in connection with Egypt’s accession to the BRICS. I would like to emphasize that from the very beginning, Russia sincerely supported the desire of the Egyptian side to become a full member of this association. During the Russian presidency of the BRICS this year, we will try to do everything possible for Egypt to effectively integrate into the work of the group,” Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi launched on Tuesday the construction of the fourth power unit of the Dabaa nuclear power plant (NPP) in Egypt via videoconference. Pouring the first concrete into the foundation of the building where the nuclear reactor will be located means the start of the construction of the entire new power unit. After this, the project will be implemented to full capacity — all four blocks of the nuclear power plant will be built simultaneously. Speaking about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict during the launching ceremony, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he is in constant contact with his Egyptian counterpart on the issue.

“And in general, Sisi and I are in constant contact … we regularly discuss all the most significant issues on the international and regional agenda for our countries. In particular, we exchange opinions and coordinate positions in connection with the tragic development of the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and resolve issues of a humanitarian nature,” Putin said during the ceremony to launch the construction of the fourth power unit of the Dabaa nuclear power plant.

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“..catastrophic hunger. Intense fighting, access denials & restrictions + communications blackouts..”

UN Agency Says 570,000 People in Gaza Strip Face Dire Hunger (Sp.)

About 570,000 people in the Gaza Strip face dire hunger, and the work of humanitarian organizations is difficult due to access and communication problems, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on Tuesday. “570,000 people in Gaza face catastrophic hunger. Intense fighting, access denials & restrictions + communications blackouts are hampering UNRWA’s ability to safely & effectively deliver aid. As risk of famine grows, UN calls for a critical increase in humanitarian access,” the UNRWA said on X . On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched a large-scale rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip, while its fighters breached the border and opened fire on the military and civilians.

As a result, more than 1,200 people were killed in Israel and some 240 others were kidnapped. Israel launched retaliatory strikes, ordered a complete blockade of Gaza, and launched a ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave with the stated goal of eliminating Hamas fighters and rescuing the hostages. More than 25,000 people have been killed in Gaza so far as a result of the Israeli attacks, according to local officials. On November 24, Qatar brokered an agreement between Israel and Hamas for a temporary ceasefire and the exchange of some prisoners and hostages, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. The truce was extended several times and expired on December 1.

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“At the same time, he stressed that the bloc nevertheless “closely monitors what Russia does”..”

No Direct Threat From Russia – NATO (RT)

NATO sees no threat from Russia toward any of its members, the US-led bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Tuesday during a press conference in Brussels. His comments come as several countries, including Germany and the Baltic states, have raised concerns of a potential future Russian attack. Answering questions from journalists following the signing of major new investments in artillery ammunition productions, Stoltenberg stated that, “We don’t see any direct or imminent threat against any NATO ally.” At the same time, he stressed that the bloc nevertheless “closely monitors what Russia does” and has increased its “vigilance and presence in the eastern part of the alliance,” in order to prevent any attacks on allied nations.

Meanwhile, German news outlets have reported in recent weeks that Berlin was preparing for a scenario in which Russia launches an “open attack” on NATO as early as the summer of 2025 after securing a major victory in Ukraine. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius also warned on Monday that his country should be ready to respond to a possible Russian attack even though there is no real threat as of now. “Deterrence is the only effective means of positioning oneself against an aggressor from the outset,” Pistorius told ZDF, calling on Germany and its NATO allies to commit to strengthening their military capabilities. Similar concerns have been voiced by other NATO members, such as Estonia, whose Prime Minister Kaja Kallas suggested last week that the bloc has three to five years to prepare for a possible direct confrontation with Russia.

Moscow has dismissed any claims that it intends to attack any NATO members as “complete nonsense,” with President Vladimir Putin arguing that Russia has “no geopolitical, economic … or military interest” in doing so. At the same time, the Kremlin has for decades voiced concerns that it was the US and its NATO allies’ continuous expansion to the east that posed an existential threat to Russia. Moscow has cited this expansion, which it believes threatens its national security, as well as the refusal to rule out Ukrainian NATO membership in the future, as some of the key reasons for launching its offensive against Kiev in February 2022.

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There are more EU countries that tell these absurd stories.

Germans Told To Prepare For Another War With Russia (RT)

Germany should be ready to respond to a possible Russian attack, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has warned. He said that to prepare for such a scenario, Germany and its NATO allies must commit to strengthening their military capabilities. In an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF on Monday, the defense chief pointed out that while Germany is not currently under a direct threat of attack, the country should do its best to be prepared for it. If Germany wants to be ready for an attack “that you don’t know if and when it will occur, then that means you have to arm yourself – and that’s what we’re currently doing together with allies in NATO,” he explained.

Pistorius went on to say that “deterrence is the only effective means of positioning oneself against an aggressor from the outset” as it signals to a potential adversary that the target is capable of striking back. To achieve such a posture, however, Germany must have “a credible deterrent” and be able to “wage a war that is forced upon us,” he noted. Commenting on a potential scenario in which Russia attacked the Baltics, Pistorius remarked that Berlin was setting up its “Lithuania Brigade” specifically to address those concerns. The unit, composed of about 4,800 soldiers is expected to be ready by 2027 and will be the first German force to be permanently stationed abroad since World War II. Pistorius suggested that amid the Ukraine conflict it would take Russia at least several years to be ready for a full-scale offensive, and that Western countries should use the time to intensively arm themselves.

The German tabloid Bild reported earlier this month, citing a classified document, that Germany is preparing for a scenario in which Russia launches an “open attack” on NATO in mid-2025, following major victories in Ukraine. Moscow mocked the prediction as a “zodiac forecast.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed claims that Russia could attack NATO as “complete nonsense,” arguing that Moscow has “no geopolitical, economic… or military interest” in doing so. Still, the Kremlin has for decades voiced concerns about the US-led military bloc’s expansion towards Russian borders, viewing it as an existential threat.

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“Not only is Germany’s justification for rearmament in question but also the nation’s ability to afford it..”

Germany Can’t Afford Rearmament, Let Alone a ‘War’ With Russia (Sp.)

Germany must take into account the possibility of a military conflict with Russia and prepare for it over the next three-five years, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told ZDF on January 22. He insisted that the German Bundeswehr armed forces should become “a credible deterrent,” and that a German combat brigade would be deployed in the Baltics to become “fully combat-ready” by 2027. In December, Pistorius signed an agreement for the permanent deployment of a Bundeswehr brigade to Lithuania. and announced that the reintroduction of compulsory military service in Germany is now on the table. Does Russia really present an imminent threat to German national security? “If you ask me, and if you ask most people in my party, the answer is unequivocally no,” Gunnar Beck, Member of the European Parliament for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party who is currently Vice-President of the Identity & Democracy Group in the Parliament, told Sputnik.

“Ever since 1990, at the end of the Soviet Union, the Russian government has gone out of its way to intensify economic relations between Russia and Germany. We had extremely favorable energy contracts with Russia. And Russia was a growing export market for our agricultural and industrial goods. It’s due to our government’s policy, vis-a-vis Ukraine conflict that relations with Russia are now almost at an all time low. So, on the one hand, I think, German policy and EU policy has been a provocation. Nonetheless, I think that the Russian reaction to the sanctions in particular has been tough, but at the same time measured. So in my view, Russia is no immediate security threat to Germany. Categorically not.” Not only is Germany’s justification for rearmament in question but also the nation’s ability to afford it, according to Beck. German industry is in a dire state as a result of the government’s policies, he stressed.

“Germany currently finds itself in what is probably the most serious economic crisis since the Second World War,” Beck said. “The government’s policies (…) are affecting all leading branches of German industry, which is suffering from high inflation, lack of qualified labor, bureaucracy and high tax levels. As a result, our exports have declined significantly. So we are in crisis, and German industry, which has always been the backbone of German prosperity, in particular, is in crisis.” He listed three major reasons for the new talk of militarization: First, the German government’s energy and climate change policy; Second, unprecedented migration into Germany from outside Europe of unskilled workers and the astronomical cost to German public finances; Third, Germany’s policies on Ukraine and sanctions imposed on the Russian economy.

Berlin’s decision to follow Washington’s lead and slap sweeping sanctions on Russia has backfired on Germans on a much greater scale than on any of their Russian counterparts, according to the politician. “In my view, Germany is in no fit state economically and financially to embark upon a massive rearmament program,” Beck said. “If the German government seriously did so, the consequence would be a further significant worsening of the economic crisis. The only way to finance such rearmament would be through a complete reversal of all the other policies and massive remigration of migrants from Germany. The government has given no indication that it is prepared to do so. In other words, I think these declarations are probably largely symbolic. Germany simply cannot afford it.”

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“The situation is becoming undeniable and the fact that the elites are allowing discussion about a Ukraine loss suggests that defeat might be closer than we know..”

Davos Admits Possibility Of Ukraine Defeat (ZH)

In a move that would have been unthinkable a year ago, the WEF has formed a discussion panel at their annual Davos conference titled “What If Ukraine Loses?” The panel represents, at the very least, an admission by the globalists that Ukraine could be defeated by Russia despite the deluge of money, armaments and intel assets that Ukraine has been given access to by western governments.Since 2022, the narrative has shifted from talk of complete victory over Russia including the retaking of the Donbas and even Crimea, to merely holding the current front and keeping a steady supply of ammo and recruits. The realities on the ground cannot be denied. The long vaunted “counter-offensive” that was supposed to crush Russian forces was a complete failure. No significant ground was gained and no significant victories have been won. It was a considerable propaganda error to hype up the counter-offensive the way Ukraine did, because when it turned out to be a dud all their other claims quickly came under suspicion.

At the end of 2023, the average age of Ukrainian soldiers was older than 40 (compare this to the US where the average age is 27). Rumors out of Ukraine abound that most younger soldiers are dead and that collection teams (government enforcers) now prowl the streets of cities like Kiev. They search for and kidnap any fighting age men they find, only to send them to the front with little or no training. These are the kinds of stories that go mostly ignored by the wider western media. When they are mentioned, it is usually in support of the Ukrainian government, chastising people who don’t want to fight and die in a globalist proxy war as “draft dodgers.” The level to which journalists have acted as a propaganda arm of NATO and Ukraine has been grotesque, but it does help to explain why so many Americans and Europeans were deluded about the war for so long. All they have heard about for the past two years is that Ukraine is on the verge of imminent victory.

It’s simply not true. This is likely why the WEF is now forced to address the issue at Davos – The situation is becoming undeniable and the fact that the elites are allowing discussion about a Ukraine loss suggests that defeat might be closer than we know. The panel itself is largely made up of Ukrainian representatives who are there to spin the facts, not have a frank discussion about the realities in the trenches. Journalist Niall Ferguson seems to be the only member with a modicum of honesty on the panel, as he admits the situation in Ukraine has degraded dramatically. He does, however, join with the Ukrainians in admonishing the American public’s growing opposition to monetary and military support. The underlying message? If Ukraine loses, it will be your fault.

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Make peace you fools.

Ukraine Spy Chief: Win “Not Even Conceivable” Without Mass Mobilization (ZH)

“The shortage [of manpower] is palpable,” Ukraine’s military top spy chief, Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, told Financial Times in a new interview, describing the most pressing situation facing the country after nearly two years of war.He warned that “it is not even conceivable to think that we can do without mobilization” — which reflects the consensus of the military’s leadership, and strongly points to staggering losses by the Ukrainian side, though an official running casualty count has never been revealed. Russia has also likely suffered immense losses, but can tap into much greater manpower and artillery, which is also allegedly being supplied from such nefarious actors as North Korea. As part of its report, FT has reviewed that Zelensky recently revealed that his army chiefs requested him “to mobilize about 400,000 to 500,000 new soldiers to replace those killed or wounded, and to rest those involved in the most intense fighting.”

Still, Budanov tried to paint an optimistic picture at a moment that even mainstream US press has lamented the current state of the war as a total failure and disaster for Ukraine: Ukrainian troops never managed to decisively breach Russia’s heavily fortified defences: the frontline remains almost the same as it looked a year ago. But Budanov maintains he was not wrong. “Although the original plans suggested something different, we kept our promise. This summer, our units repeatedly entered Crimea,” he said, referring to his commandos sneaking on to the peninsula to carry out raids on Russian bases. Not only have Ukrainian operatives done brief but ineffective raids into Crimea, but the last several weeks have seen stepped-up cross border drone and rocket attacks against Russian border regions, particularly targeting Belgorod city, resulting in dozens of casualties over months of sporadic waves of strikes.

Many war analysts have looked upon these attacks on Russian territory as a sign of increasing desperation. The Ukrainian strikes have been focused on civilian areas of Belgorod, and have little or no strategic value, but is more an act of ‘revenge’ and perhaps part of seeking to impose a “cost” on the Russian population in hopes of pressuring the Putin government. Kiev has been mulling a new mass mobilization since at least December, when media reports first cited Zelensky as saying, “This is a serious number,” while explaining further he has to look at more arguments to support this direction.” He added at the time, “I need concrete information on what will (then) happen with the one-million military of Ukraine,” according to The Kyiv Independent.

Any new mass mobilization is likely to be met with fierce pushback among the population and some government officials. Already there have been signs of fracture within the government over what to do as it’s increasingly clear Ukrainian forces are ‘losing’ – especially in manpower, arms, and ammo. Zelensky’s security services and military recruiters have also been accused of abusing their power under martial law, also amid allegations of corruption, with The New York Times having previously reported Ukrainian army recruiters have become “increasingly aggressive in their efforts to replenish the ranks, in some cases pulling men off the streets and whisking them to recruiting centers using intimidation and even physical force.” There have even been reports of men with diagnosed mental disabilities being subjected to attempted drafts. Currently, men ages 18-60 may be mobilized and still have no right to leave Ukraine, per the stipulations under martial law.

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On its way to first place.

The German Establishment Wants To Ban AfD (Amar)

With really bad ideas, you can often ask two pertinent questions. First, why will it not work? Second, why would it be harmful if it did? That rule holds in Germany, where the really bad idea of banning the party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is currently getting much debate. The background of this debate is simple. Founded a decade ago, the AfD has established itself as a lasting feature of the political landscape. A populist right-wing party (roughly comparable to, for instance, the Austrian FPÖ), it brings together politicians and voters across a spectrum of positions. In the AfD, this spectrum ranges from very solidly conservative to far right. Still comparatively small, the AfD is significant. With currently just over 40,000 members, it holds 78 of 736 seats in the Bundestag, the central parliament in Berlin.

Importantly, it is also well-represented in 14 of 16 regional parliaments, where it occupies 242 seats of 1898 (for all regional legislatures taken together). In terms of its impact on national debates, it clearly punches far above this quantitative weight. Most importantly, however, the AfD is on a roll, on both the central and regional levels. If Germans were to vote for the Bundestag now – and thus in effect the chancellor’s office – the AfD would net 23%. That can be compared with the traditional center-left SPD, leading the hapless coalition government, at 14%. All parties from the ruling coalition (SPD, Greens, and the market-liberal FDP) together muster just 31% approval. On the regional level, the picture is largely the same, with particularly pronounced AfD advances in the area of the former East Germany.

For the Land of Brandenburg, for instance, a poll has the AfD in the lead with 28%, easily beating both the CDU mainstream conservatives (18%) and the SPD (17%). Adding insult to injury, AfD co-leader Tino Chrupalla is also surpassing the SPD’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the personal-popularity scale, which is admittedly a low bar, as Scholz has managed to become one of the most disliked German politicians ever. No wonder that Germany’s under-qualified and somewhat hysterical minister of the economy, Robert Habeck, in whose head all of Russia seems to live rent-free, is publicly hallucinating that the AfD wants to make Germany like Russia. (The irony is, of course, is that with Habeck’s own mismanaged ministerial portfolio, quite a few Germans would welcome having Russia’s growth rates.)

Such rhetoric, as well as the timing of when the idea of an AfD ban is being floated, betrays the fact that the attempt to popularize the idea of outlawing the AfD is an opportunistic response to its increasing electoral clout, which of course cannot be openly admitted. So, those in favor of a ban argue that the AfD is an extremist party. But crucially here, extremism has a specific, legally (and narrowly) defined meaning. According to the German Constitution (Article 21.2), the Constitutional Court (and only that court) can prohibit a party when it substantially endangers the constitutional order of the Federal Republic or its existence itself. An important and often overlooked caveat, is it is not enough for a party to display hostility to the constitutional order. A prohibition is only an option if the party does so in an “active-combative, aggressive manner,” as Germany’s Ministry of the Interior puts it.

Only two parties have ever been banned, a far-right one in 1952 and a far-left one in 1956. Other attempts to proscribe parties (or to be precise, the same party) have also failed twice: In 2003 and again in 2017, the Constitutional Court refused to outlaw the very far-right NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands).

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Half the “evidence” is gone. How convenient.

Pelosi’s J6 Committee Deleted Over 100 Encrypted Files (PB)

It has been confirmed that the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 deleted more than 100 encrypted files from their investigation just days before Republicans gained control of the House. The House Administration Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee, chaired by Republican Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, is conducting an inquiry into January 6, 2021. The panel is looking at the security shortcomings that day, as well as the “actions” of the previous select committee investigating the Capitol riot. Loudermilk told Fox News Digital last week that his inquiry has entered a “new phase” with increased backing from House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) who has pledged extra resources to the panel’s investigation. According to sources familiar with Loudermilk’s investigation, the former J6 select committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) was required by House rules to turn over all documents from its investigation to the new, GOP-led panel after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives following the 2022 midterm elections.

According to Fox News Digital, Thompson promised Loudermilk that the J6 select committee would give over four terabytes of archival material, but the new committee got just around two terabytes. Loudermilk’s committee hired a digital forensics outfit to search hard drives for material they were not provided. According to people familiar with the investigation, the forensics team discovered 117 files that had been erased and encrypted. The sources revealed that the files were erased on January 1, 2023, just days before Thompson’s staff was scheduled to transmit the material to the new committee. The forensics team has successfully retrieved all 117 deleted and encrypted files. Loudermilk is now requesting answers and passwords to get access to the material. Loudermilk issued to Thompson asking access to his forensic team’s retrieved digital data.

“As you acknowledged in your July 7, 2023 letter, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (Select Committee) did not archive all Committee records as required by House Rules,” Loudermilk wrote. “You wrote that you sent specific transcribed interviews and depositions to the White House and Department of Homeland Security but did not archive them with the Clerk of the House.” Loudermilk added that Thompson “claimed that you turned over 4-terabytes of digital files, but the hard drives archived by the Select Committee with the Clerk of the House contain less than 3- terabytes of data.” The Republican Congressman said that after doing a forensic study of the data and archived hard drives, he was able to retrieve “numerous digital records from hard drives archived by the Select Committee.”

“One recovered file disclosed the identity of an individual whose testimony was not archived by the Select Committee,” Loudermilk wrote. “Further, we found that most of the recovered files are password-protected, preventing us from determining what they contain.” Loudermilk requested that Thompson provide him “a list of passwords for all password-protected files created by the Select Committee” so that his committee could “access these files and ensure they are properly archived.” Meanwhile, the congressman sent letters to the White House general counsel and the General Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security, asking for “unedited and unredacted transcripts” of White House and DHS testimony before the old select committee. Loudermilk’s committee is aware that transcripts of these interviews exist, but claims they were not given over by the Thompson-led investigation.

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“..the man Americans elected as the 45th president—and his team members—has been subjected to more bizarre allegations, secret investigations, partisan impeachments, preposterous indictments, and prejudiced legal proceedings than even Kafka could have imagined..”

No One Is Safe in an Era of Kafkaesque Absurdity (Brooks)

“Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.”—Franz Kafka, “The Trial.”

In Kafka’s early-20th-century novel, a reputable bank clerk is caught up in a prosecutorial nightmare. The story of Josef K. begins when court authorities suddenly arrive at his residence to tell him he’s to be indicted, but they can’t or won’t explain the exact nature of the charges against him. Josef K.’s accusers leave him with feelings of apprehension and anxiety. Throughout the novel, he struggles to defend himself within a hostile and complex legal process. At the end of the story, he’s led away to a summary execution. During the entire ordeal, the accused never really understands the reasons behind his mysterious prosecution. This dark story about the destruction of an innocent man led to the term “Kafkaesque” entering the English language as a way to describe situations in which honorable people are threatened by unfounded allegations. Kafka had a special talent for identifying the convergence between reality and absurdity.

A hundred years after “The Trial” was first published, the West has descended into an era in which absurd allegations are the new normal. In the Rainbow Reichs of the woke, witch hunting has become the order of the day.
One of the most notorious Kafkaesque events in modern history developed around the unforeseen political success of President Donald J. Trump.Over recent years, the man Americans elected as the 45th president—and his team members—has been subjected to more bizarre allegations, secret investigations, partisan impeachments, preposterous indictments, and prejudiced legal proceedings than even Kafka could have imagined. President Trump has endured some of the most savage and desperate partisan assaults in U.S. history. Despite it all, he has retained the loyalty of legions of ordinary citizens and is the leading candidate for reelection in 2024. Individuals throughout North America are praying that President Trump’s landslide victory in Iowa will lead to a decisive victory for the “Make America Great Again” movement.

[..] Few drag queen story hours feature the novels of Kafka, but the author’s insights remain valuable. Kafka understood that corrupt authorities have the capacity to ruin almost anyone they disapprove of. “The Trial” shows how Orwellian legal institutions can isolate individuals, make them appear guilty, and render them helpless. So far, President Trump has overcome the moral failures of the American judicial system, and he has an excellent chance of winning back the White House in 2024. Donald T. isn’t likely to suffer the same fate as Kafka’s Josef K. Francine C.’s future is considerably less certain. Without political support, financial resources, and professional help, challenges to the left by intrepid citizens are unlikely to continue. That’s why the suffocating nature of our Kafkaesque culture must be forthrightly resisted by honorable men and women.

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“The president’s been clear, he’s been clear that we need to move on the border, he needs resources to deal with the situation at the border.”s

Mayorkas Says Border Is Secure But Biden Says It Isn’t (MN)

During the White House press briefing Monday, a reporter asked Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to explain why Joe Biden and DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas give conflicting answers when asked if the border is secure or not. As we highlighted, last Friday Biden admitted that the border is not secure and stated that has has not believed it has been secure for a decade, despite the fact that Mayorkas has stated and testified multiple times that he believes the border is secure. “On Friday, President Biden said that he does not believe the border is secure, which is different from what Secretary Mayorkas has testified multiple times on the hill, why do they have two different views of the security of the border?” the reporter asked during Monday’s briefing.

Jean-Pierre used the tired excuse that Biden is waiting on Congress to provide more funding for border security. “The president’s been clear, he’s been clear that we need to move on the border, he needs resources to deal with the situation at the border. That’s why they’re having this conversation at the Senate, on the senate level and that’s why he’s asking for more resources,” Jean-Pierre said, adding “There’s an issue at the border, we need to deal with it and we have to act now. There’s an urgent need to act now.” The claim that Biden is waiting for funding for more security is laughable considering that he is ordering Border Patrol to actively take down barriers erected by Texas state authorities and the National Guard:

Elsewhere during the briefing Monday, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy pointed out that “authorities in Fairfax County, Virginia, ignored an ICE detainer. They released an illegal immigrant from Honduras, who was charged with sexually assaulting a Virginia minor and production of sexual abuse material.” He then asked Jean-Pierre “Doesn’t that go to show that, as record numbers of people appear at the border, you guys have no idea what kind of people are coming into this country?” Jean-Pierre, of course, denied the charge and again blamed Congress. She also claimed that Biden has recently visited the border, when in reality he hasn’t been there for over a year, and even that only visit was little more than a pit stop.

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“..It says that in the Constitution somewhere. Like, in Section 3 Article B or whatever.”

Supreme Court Rules Texas Must Replace Barbed Wire With Giant Red Carpet (BBee)

In yet another 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that Texas must remove all barbed wire along the border and replace it with a massive, plush red carpet. “How will migrants be able to get in the country if there’s barbed wire in the way?” said a visibly confused Justice Sotomayor. “They might get hurt! An elegant red carpet makes much more sense. It’s soft and red and can helpfully point the way to gaps along our border and make our new migrants feel welcome. It says that in the Constitution somewhere. Like, in Section 3 Article B or whatever.”

The border patrol responded to the ruling immediately and is now hard at work cutting gaps in the barbed wire fence and rolling out a red carpet across the border. “Hooo boy! This is just like in the Hollywood picture shows!” said one officer while rolling out a carpet for a small band of Al Qaeda operatives and Somali pirates. “Welcome to America, friends! You’re all stars to us!” The ruling also specified that migrants be supplied with limousines, bodyguards, and expensive gift bags filled with face creams and jewelry. “It’s the least we could do,” said Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. “It says that in the fourth paragraph of the 38th Amendment, I’m pretty sure.” At publishing time, Texas Governor Greg Abbott had desperately attempted to deter migrants by lining the red carpet with bear traps.

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“Texas is being ordered to open its border completely and let millions of people flood the state and the rest of the country until everything Americans hold dear is left a smoldering ruin..”

Supreme Court Rules It’s Illegal For National Guard To Guard Nation (BBee)

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that it’s now illegal for the Texas National Guard to guard Texas or the nation. “Using the National Guard to guard the nation is an egregious misuse of the National Guard,” wrote Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who sided with the majority. “When the federal government has decreed that the nation not be guarded so that millions of illegal immigrants will swarm the border and settle in cities across the nation to swing the 2024 presidential election for Biden, states have no right to disobey that decree by guarding their states.” As a result of the ruling, Texas is being ordered to open its border completely and let millions of people flood the state and the rest of the country until everything Americans hold dear is left a smoldering ruin. “It’s the compassionate thing to do,” said Jackson. At publishing time, the government had asked the National Guard to return to its normal task of fighting endless foreign wars.

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Excess deaths

 

 


One of the two remaining northern white rhinos in the world, guarded 24 hours a day.

 

 

Acorn

 

 

Chicken hypnosis

 

 

Owl

 

 


Pecteilis radiata is a species of orchid found in China, Japan, Korea and Russia. It is commonly known as the white egret flower. It is easily grown from tubers, and rewards you with blooms shaped like white birds with wings spread in flight.

 

 

Pi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in wartime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 232024
 
 January 23, 2024  Posted by at 9:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  45 Responses »


Salvador Dalí Dream, Caused by the Flight of a Bee (Around a Pomegranate, a Second Before Waking Up) 1944

 

Will War Result From The Ever Hesitant Putin? (Paul Craig Roberts)
The Four Horsemen of Gaza’s Apocalypse (Chris Hedges)
Netanyahu’s Shape-Shifting ‘Endgame’ (Alastair Crooke)
Russia’s Push for Palestinian State Can Stop Endless ‘Loop’ of Violence (Sp.)
US Sees Ukraine As A ‘Lucrative Business Project’ – Lavrov (RT)
US Forming ‘Colonial Administration’ In Ukraine – Russian Spy Chief (RT)
Ukraine Must Give Up Territory – Fico (RT)
Zelensky Brands Parts Of Russia ‘Historically’ Ukrainian (RT)
Medvedev Denounces Zelensky’s ‘Territorial Claims’ To Russia (RT)
AfD Leader Calls for German ‘Dexit’ Vote to Break From EU (Sp.)
Russian Attack On Nato In 2044 (Zlatko)
DOJ Seeking Retribution Against Journalist for Recent Jan. 6 Coverage (ET)
The Pipe-Bomb Caper (Kunstler)
Dutch Queen Promotes Digital ID at Davos (Martin Armstrong)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tucker Hunter

 

 

Biden inflation

 

 

 

 

RFK autism + allergy

 

 

Tucker Catturd

 

 

 

 

Stop counting

The People’s Pundit: But that’s only half the story. The other half, is that they were lying. They actually continued to add to the totals between midnight and 3AM.

 

 

 

 

“The failure to confront Russia’s enemies with defeats means the pressure against Russia, the ongoing provocations, and the humiliations inflicted will continue until Russia is forced into war.”

Will War Result From The Ever Hesitant Putin? (Paul Craig Roberts)

I have often expressed my concern that the lack of proactive action by Putin, Xi, and Iran was maximizing the expansion of Israeli and US aggression in the Middle East and leading to a dangerous confrontation and outbreak of nuclear war. It is the purpose of Israel and Washington to attack Iran. That is what the Israeli-Hamas-Hezbollah-Washington-Houthis conflict is about. It is an entirely simple matter for Russia, China, and Iran to prevent any expansion of Israel’s war against Palestine. All they have to do is to announce a mutual defense treaty: An attack on one is an attack on all. But proactive action does not seem to be in the skill set of Washington’s targeted enemies. With the single exception of Putin’s intervention in Syria to prevent Obama’s invasion, Putin has proved to be ever hesitant about taking control of the situation. It took him eight years to abandon his delusion about the Minsk Agreement. When he finally realized that he had been taken for a ride, the Russian military was not prepared for the level of violence required. Consequently a war that Russia should have won in a few days is two years old and continuing.

From my experience with the liberal Russian intelligentsia, I would say that their program is surrender to Washington. They would rather be invited as visiting professors to Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, and to serve as consultants to American corporations than to be in conflict with the West. As Putin seems to believe toleration of subversion is a sign of democracy, he could have been prevented from required action by pressure to prove that he is not, as the entirety of the West proclaims, a dictator. Putin would have saved many lives by ignoring the propaganda of his enemies and being more forceful in Russia’s defense. But now Putin is showing more awareness of what needs to be done. News reports which I saw in the Indian press, not in the American whore media, a collection of paid liars, say that, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, Russia and Iran are finalizing a pact stressing their commitment to fundamental principles of Russian-Iranian relations, including unconditional respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In a way this is good news. It indicates that Putin has finally realized that left unprotected, Iran is vulnerable, and if Iran goes, Washington has a direct entry to send “jihadists” into the Russian Federation and the former Soviet central Asian republics. But once again, like with the nonsensical “Minsk Agreement,” Putin has made an error. The pact has been announced before it goes into effect. It is unclear when this acknowledgement of mutual association is to be finalized. So the message to Washington and Israel is to attack Iran now before the agreement goes into effect. There is risk that this will happen. By trying to avoid the expansion of conflict in the Middle East, when conflict is Washington’s and Israel’s intention, Putin by his non-intervention, has given a green light for the expansion of conflict.

Moreover, the Russian-Iranian pact does not seem to be, except, by implication, a mutual defense pact. You can bet that Victoria Nuland and Israel’s American neoconservative agents who control US foreign policy will try to strike Iran before the pact is is in effect or they will argue that it is not a mutual defense agreement. It seems that Russia, China, Iran, and Israel’s Muslim enemies think that words count when nothing but action counts. In the West words are meaningless. Only actions count. And Russia’s are missing. Now, let me back off a bit. There are other indications of progress toward an environment less able to be turned into war by Washington. China had the foresight to broker a peace deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This was a fundamental blow to Washington. This rapprochement, if it holds against Washington’s counter offer, has expanded Putin’s organization BRICS to include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. This gives new meaning to Saudi Arabia’s abandonment of the petro-dollar.

There is even a potential good sign on Russia’s part. Russia has announced air patrols over the Syrian Golan border with Israel. Putin prevented Washington’s invasion of Assad’s Syria but then went soft. Putin has left the Syrian oil fields in Washington’s hands. Putin has permitted both Israel and the US to conduct air and missile attacks on Syrian territory, apparently preventing Syria from using the Russian-supplied S-300 air defense system to protect Syrian territory. It remains to be seen if this means anything. The Russians have been sufficiently weakened by Western influence that they now have, associated with the Defense Ministry a “Center for Reconciliation.” This center says the air patrols are just for monitoring. In other words, there will be no military intervention, so it is largely meaningless. The failure to confront Russia’s enemies with defeats means the pressure against Russia, the ongoing provocations, and the humiliations inflicted will continue until Russia is forced into war.

There is a great deal of talk about American over-extension, outmoded weapon systems, excessive debt, inability to recruit for the military, etc., most of which is true. But the neoconservatives in control are still full of confidence, and this confidence is ever encouraged by Putin’s lack of decisive action. The war that is shaping up appears to be unavoidable. I know that it seems arrogant, egocentric, and self-glorifying to appear to be giving advice to Putin. But that is not what I am doing. I am describing a situation. To preclude a US/Israeli attack on Iran, there needs to be a Russia-China-Iran alliance which probably should include Turkey. Right NOW Iran needs the highly effective Russian air defense systems and, if Iran doesn’t have them, the hypersonic Russian long distance offensive missiles. Putin showed a strategic side when he committed the Russian Air Force to Syria’s defense, thus blocking Syria’s invasion by Obama. But he was very late getting into the game, almost too late. The multipolar world that Putin is always talking about cannot materialize without a Russian-Chinese-Iranian mutual defense treaty. Without more strategic vision and action on the part of Russia and China, war is unavoidable.

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“Joe Biden’s inner circle of strategists for the Middle East — Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan and Brett McGurk..”

The Four Horsemen of Gaza’s Apocalypse (Chris Hedges)

Joe Biden’s inner circle of strategists for the Middle East — Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan and Brett McGurk — have little understanding of the Muslim world and a deep animus towards Islamic resistance movements. They see Europe, the United States and Israel as involved in a clash of civilizations between the enlightened West and a barbaric Middle East. They believe that violence can bend Palestinians and other Arabs to their will. They champion the overwhelming firepower of the U.S. and Israeli military as the key to regional stability — an illusion that fuels the flames of regional war and perpetuates the genocide in Gaza.

In short, these four men are grossly incompetent. They join the club of other clueless leaders, such as those who waltzed into the suicidal slaughter of World War One, waded into the quagmire of Vietnam or who orchestrated the series of recent military debacles in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. They are endowed with the presumptive power vested in the Executive Branch to bypass Congress, to provide weapons to Israel and carry out military strikes in Yemen and Iraq. This inner circle of true believers dismiss the more nuanced and informed counsels in the State Department and the intelligence communities, who view the refusal of the Biden administration to pressure Israel to halt the ongoing genocide as ill-advised and dangerous.

Biden has always been an ardent militarist — he was calling for war with Iraq five years before the U.S. invaded. He built his political career by catering to the distaste of the white middle class for the popular movements, including the anti-war and civil rights movements, that convulsed the country in the 1960s and 1970s. He is a Republican masquerading as a Democrat. He joined Southern segregationists to oppose bringing Black students into Whites-only schools. He opposed federal funding for abortions and supported a constitutional amendment allowing states to restrict abortions. He attacked President George H. W. Bush in 1989 for being too soft in the “war on drugs.” He was one of the architects of the 1994 crime bill and a raft of other draconian laws that more than doubled the U.S. prison population, militarized the police and pushed through drug laws that saw people incarcerated for life without parole. He supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, the greatest betrayal of the working class since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. He has always been a strident defender of Israel, bragging that he did more fundraisers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) than any other Senator.

“As many of you heard me say before, were there no Israel, America would have to invent one. We’d have to invent one because… you protect our interests like we protect yours,” Biden said in 2015, to an audience that included the Israeli ambassador, at the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration in Washington D.C. During the same speech he said, “The truth of the matter is we need you. The world needs you. Imagine what it would say about humanity and the future of the 21st century if Israel were not sustained, vibrant and free.” The year before Biden gave a gushing eulogy for Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli prime minister and general who was implicated in massacres of Palestinians, Lebanese and others in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon — as well as Egyptian prisoners of war — going back to the 1950s. He described Sharon as “part of one of the most remarkable founding generations in the history not of this nation, but of any nation.”

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“Israel’s only answer (to the issue of how to maintain Zionism) was to keep the State’s borders undefined – whilst holding on to scarce water and land resources..”

Netanyahu’s Shape-Shifting ‘Endgame’ (Alastair Crooke)

The late Ariel Sharon, a long-time Israeli military and political leader, once confided to his close friend Uri Dan that, “the Arabs had never genuinely accepted the presence of Israel … and so, a two-state solution was not possible – nor even desirable”. In the minds of these two – as well as for most Israelis today – is the ‘Gordian Knot’ that sits at the heart of Zionism: How to maintain differential rights over a physical terrain that includes a large Palestinian population. Israeli leaders believed that in Sharon’s unconventional approach of ‘spatial ambiguity’, Israel was close to evolving a solution to the conundrum of managing differential rights within a Zionist majority state, which includes substantial minorities. Palestinians, many Israelis believed (until recently), were being successfully contained in a striated political and physical space – and were even being “disappeared” from significance – only for Hamas, on 7 October, to blow apart that whole elaborate paradigm.

This event has triggered a widespread and existential fear that the Zionist project could possibly implode, were its Zionist exceptionalist foundations to be rejected by a wide resistance ready to take the issue to war. U.S. journalist Steve Inskeep’s recent piece – Israel’s Lack of Strategy is the Strategy – brings into focus the seeming paradox: That whilst Netanyahu is very clear about that which he does not want, he at the same time remains obstinately opaque about what he does want as a future for Palestinians living on a shared terrain. For those who think that Middle East peace might (or should) be Netanyahu’s goal, this opacity appears as a serious ‘flaw’ to resolving the Gaza crisis. However, if Netanyahu (backed by his cabinet, and a majority of Israelis) offers no strategy for peace with the Palestinians, then perhaps its omission is not ‘a bug’, but is its feature.

To understand the underlying oxymoron, you have to grasp why Ariel Sharon and Uri Dan ‘said what they said’, and understand how Sharon’s military experience from the 1973 War effectively has shaped the entire Palestinian paradigm. In 2011, I wrote a piece in Foreign Policy which postulated that Sharon’s notion of Palestinian Permanent Ambiguity was – and has been – the Zionists’ principle answer to how to bypass the paradox inherent within Zionism. Thirty years later, it still lurks in all of Netanyahu’s (and Israeli leaders across the political spectrum’s) recent pronouncements. Even in 2008, Foreign Minister (and lawyer), Tzipi Livni, was spelling out why “Israel’s only answer (to the issue of how to maintain Zionism) was to keep the State’s borders undefined – whilst holding on to scarce water and land resources – leaving Palestinians in a state of permanent uncertainty, dependent on Israeli goodwill”.

And I noted in a separate piece: “Livni was saying that she wanted Israel to be a Zionist state – based on the Law of Return and open to any Jew. However, to secure such a state in a country with very limited territory – means that land and water must be kept under Jewish control, with differential rights for Jews and non-Jews – rights that affect everything, from housing and access to land, to jobs, subsidies, marriages and migration”. A two-state solution inherently therefore, did not solve the problem of how to maintain Zionism; rather, it compounded it. The inevitable demand for full equal rights for Palestinians would bring the end of Jewish ‘special rights’, and of Zionism itself, Livni argued – a threat with which most Zionists concur. Sharon’s answer to this ultimate paradox, however, was different: Sharon had an alternative plan for managing a large non-Jewish ‘out-group’, physically present within a Zionist State of differentiated rights. Sharon’s alternative amounted to frustrating a two-state solution within fixed borders.

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“Without the establishment of a Palestinian state, there can be not reliable security for Israel,” Lavrov said.”

Russia’s Push for Palestinian State Can Stop Endless ‘Loop’ of Violence (Sp.)

A lasting resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli crisis is the keystone to regional stability, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. “The main focus of efforts should be the creation of a Palestinian state in full compliance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. The state described in these decisions would be competent and would exist in security and good neighborliness side by side with Israel and other countries in the region,” Lavrov said, speaking at a press conference on the results of Russian diplomacy in 2023 on Thursday. “Without the establishment of a Palestinian state, the Palestinian people will continue to feel disadvantaged and disenfranchised. Generation after generation of young Palestinians will fell this injustice and pass it on to their children. This must end through the creation of a Palestinian state. I hope that the Israeli leadership will eventually come to this conclusion…Without the establishment of a Palestinian state, there can be not reliable security for Israel,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister announced plans to address the United Nations Security Council next Tuesday to discuss how the crisis in the Middle East can be resolved through “collective efforts,” in place of current attempts by the United States to “advance its agenda around the world.” “Perhaps our Western colleagues should learn some life lessons. And the countries of the region must insist that they are the ones who live here, and that for them, the security of all states [in the region] is of decisive importance to them. No one wants to prohibit advice from the outside, but the final decisions should be made by regional countries themselves,” Lavrov stressed. The creation of a Palestinian state is the “dream” of the Arab and Muslim World, and Russia’s position on the Palestinian-Israeli crisis indicates a very good understanding of the Middle East, says Riyadh-based political analyst Dr. Ahmed Al Ibrahim.

Russia’s position on Palestinian statehood is “going to be very well-received,” Al Ibrahim told Sputnik. “It’s going to cause stability. It’s going to give a lot of ground for the foreign policy of Russia to integrate here in the Muslim-Arab World. If Russia succeeded in that, then Russia has solved the most crucial thing in the history of this region by aligning Israel and Palestine to be together next [to each other]. And they’re going to win the hearts and the minds of the Arab and the Muslim World.” Attempts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have been spearheaded by the United States for some seven decades, Al Ibrahim recalled, noting that in all this time “nothing happened except destruction for the Palestinian land, and more expansion, more settlers taking lands.”

“Definitely the whole world would welcome Russia and the BRICS members to be mediating this. But the solution is going to be very hard. Russia and the BRICS members [would] have to coordinate with the United States and with Britain because they are the majority stakeholders of this file, in order to yank it from them and do something on the ground,” the political analyst noted. Otherwise, unless a genuine, multilateral effort is launched to establish Palestinian statehood, the cycle of violence being seen today will continue indefinitely, Al Ibrahim believes. “The real core of the problem is in the deep mind and the deep state of the Israelis,” Al Ibrahim stressed. “Do they want a two-state solution?

We still see at the Knesset, when you enter the building, a big map – a big Israeli state from the [Jordan] River to the Sinai. If this is the creed of the Israelis, then there is no point of anybody mediating and Israel needs to work within themselves in order to come up an evolution to change their mindset and work to have a peaceful neighboring country with the Arab World supporting them. By reaching that, Israel is going to gain a lot by normalizing relationships with many Arab and Muslim countries,” he emphasized. “But if they’re going to play the cat and mouse game, you know, ‘I say something and I do something else on the ground,’ this is not going to work,” Al Ibrahim said, saying Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Arab countries and the Muslim World in general are too smart to be tricked by such deception.

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“..not as a war that has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives … but as a profitable business project.”

US Sees Ukraine As A ‘Lucrative Business Project’ – Lavrov (RT)

Recent statements from the US suggest it regards Ukraine as nothing but a “lucrative business project,” one that it is profiting from, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the UN Security Council on Monday. The minister was referring to earlier statements made by US State Secretary Antony Blinken. Last month, the top US diplomat claimed that 90% of the money allocated for Ukrainian aid ends up getting funneled back to the US “to the benefit of American business, local communities, and strengthening the US defense industrial base.” In November 2023, the Washington Post also reported that the majority of these funds were spent on manufacturing new weapons or replacing the equipment sent to Ukraine out of American stockpiles.

The US is essentially “developing its military industrial” complex while “dumping the old junk in Ukraine,” Lavrov said. Russia’s top diplomat also claimed that most major Ukrainian companies, including lithium producers, are being sold to Americans and US companies have been able to get their hands on Ukraine’s fertile land “on the cheap.” Lavrov denounced the statements made by US officials as “cynical” and said that Washington has been treating the ongoing conflict “not as a war that has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives … but as a profitable business project.” Moscow is waging a military campaign not against Ukraine but against “a criminal regime, presumptuous in its impunity,” he declared.

Kiev has not forgone on the “war against its own citizens in the east and south” despite years-long efforts by Moscow to find a peaceful solution to this crisis, he explained, adding that over 7 million Ukrainians had found refuge in Russia since the 2014 Maidan coup. Kiev’s Western backers have never tried to stop the government from persecuting Russian-speaking Ukrainians, the minister said, accusing the US and its allies of using the past few years to “arm Ukraine and prepare it for war against Russia,” while using the Minsk Agreements as a cover. Russia is ready for talks on Ukraine but it is not willing to discuss ways to keep Kiev’s current government in power, Moscow’s top diplomat concluded.

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“Zelensky realizes that the damaging data that the Americans have is capable of destroying him as president. In this situation, he’ll continue to dance to the tune of his American masters..”

US Forming ‘Colonial Administration’ In Ukraine – Russian Spy Chief (RT)

Washington has begun creating “a colonial administration” in Ukraine consisting of local politicians who have sworn allegiance to the US, the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) has said. The US government has demanded that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky “remove” dozens of high-ranking officials, whom Washington no longer trusts, from their posts under various pretexts, Sergey Naryshkin claimed on Monday. Washington wants those jobs to be filled by “Ukrainians trained in the West, who have sworn allegiance to American interests,” he said in comments cited by the SVR press service. “As part of the policy of total vassalization of Ukraine, the US has started forming what is essentially a colonial administration in that country,” the spy chief stated.

According to Naryshkin, the required changes in the Ukrainian government were relayed to Zelensky during his visit to Washington in December. “The Americans are pushing for Ukrainian ambassador to Washington Oksana Markarova, who received her education at Indiana University Bloomington, to take the post of prime minister. The deputy head of the Finance Ministry, Alexander Kava, who studied at Harvard University, is being suggested for the job of finance minister. The current deputy head of the Economy Ministry, Taras Kachka, a graduate of Poland’s National School of Public Administration (KSAP), is recommended for the post of economy minister,” he said. The latest high-profile change in the Ukrainian cabinet follows the pattern described by Naryshkin. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, who replaced Zelensky’s ally Aleksey Reznikov in the job last fall, used to participate in the Future Leaders Exchange program, funded by the US State Department.

The Biden administration, which is in possession of a “killer corruption dossier” on members of Zelenksy’s inner circle, is threatening to make this information public if Ukrainian leader refuses to greenlight the desired personnel decisions, the spy chief claimed. “Zelensky realizes that the damaging data that the Americans have is capable of destroying him as president. In this situation, he’ll continue to dance to the tune of his American masters,” Naryshkin predicted. The US, which has provided Zelensky’s government with $111 billion in military and economic assistance since the start of the conflict with Russia, already has advisers embedded in all key Ukrainian ministries, but Washington believes this is not enough and is “steadily increasing Kiev’s feudal dependence,” Naryshkin said.

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“What are [the Ukrainians] waiting for? That the Russians will leave Donbass and Lugansk, or that they will leave Crimea? It’s unrealistic,” Fico insisted.”

Ukraine Must Give Up Territory – Fico (RT)

Ukraine should concede the loss of some of the territories that were previously under its control in order to end the conflict with Russia, Slovakia’s prime minister Robert Fico has said. Fico made the statement during a weekend interview with broadcaster RTVS dedicated to his upcoming visit to Ukraine. The Slovak PM is scheduled to travel on Wednesday to Uzhgorod, a city near the border between the two countries, for a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Denis Shmygal. The ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev can’t be resolved through military means and should end in compromise that might be “painful for both sides,” he said. “What are [the Ukrainians] waiting for? That the Russians will leave Donbass and Lugansk, or that they will leave Crimea? It’s unrealistic,” Fico insisted.

The People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were officially incorporated into the Russian state in the fall of 2022, together the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, as a result of referendums held in those areas. Crimea has been a part of Russia since 2014. The continuation of the fighting that has been underway since February 2022 will only make Moscow stronger, Fico added. The Slovak premier also said Ukraine was “not a sovereign, independent country” due to it being “under the absolute influence of the US.” He criticized the EU for making “a huge mistake” of following Washington’s lead when it comes to dealing with Kiev, instead of developing its own “sovereign” view on the issue. As for his talks this week with Shmygal, Fico promised to tell his Ukrainian counterpart that he’s against Kiev’s membership in NATO, as that would be “exactly the basis of World War Three,” and to reiterate that President Vladimir Zelensky’s government won’t be getting any more weapons from Bratislava.

The prime minister’s interview caused angry reaction in Kiev, with the head of the Ukrainian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Aleksandr Merezhko demanded that Fico’s trip to Ukraine be canceled for his “disgraceful statements” that crossed “the red line.” “Every country should have at least minimal self-respect. It’s absolutely unacceptable to pretend that nothing is happening when the leader of another state makes statements that question the sovereignty of a state” that he’s about to visit, Merezhko wrote on Facebook. Fico made a comeback as Slovakia’s prime minister in October after his party won the snap election in the EU country, campaigning on promises of, among other measures, cutting military aid to Kiev and improving ties with Moscow.

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The MO: crazy claims.

Zelensky Brands Parts Of Russia ‘Historically’ Ukrainian (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky declared six Russian regions to be “historically inhabited by Ukrainians” in a decree published on Monday. The list does not include any of the territory that Kiev claims sovereignty over in the ongoing conflict with Moscow, and focuses on globally recognized parts of Russia. The document includes Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod regions, all of which border Ukraine. It also lists Voronezh, Rostov, and Krasnodar regions, all of which bordered Ukraine before 2014, when Crimea decided to join Russia in a referendum and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared independence from Kiev. Zelensky claimed the population of these territories had been subjected to “the policy of forced Russification,” and ordered the government in Kiev to develop “an action plan” to “preserve” Ukrainian “national identity” in Russia.

The decree calls on Russia to “provide Ukrainians living in its territories” with access to education in the Ukrainian language, as well as access to Ukrainian-language mass media and special “civil, social, cultural, and religious rights.” Moscow has never imposed any restrictions on the Ukrainian language. Russia’s education minister, Sergey Kravtsov, said in July 2022 that “no one was banning” it, and that it would be taught in schools where necessary. Zelensky’s decree also tasks the Ukrainian government and the National Security and Defense Council with “collecting and studying facts and testimonies about crimes” supposedly committed against Ukrainians in Russia throughout its history, as well as “countering disinformation and propaganda” about Ukrainian history, allegedly spread by Moscow.

The president also instructed the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences to “prepare materials” on the “thousand-year-old history” of Ukraine and distribute them around the world. The country’s educational programs and textbooks should also contain “the true history of ethnic Ukrainians,” Zelensky added. The Russian regions mentioned in the decree have repeatedly been targeted by Ukrainian missile and drone attacks as well as shelling since the start of hostilities with Moscow in February 2022. Zelensky’s decree comes just weeks after Kiev launched a major attack on the city of Belgorod. The strike, which according to the Russian Defense Ministry involved the use of banned cluster munitions, claimed the lives of 25 people, including children, and left more than a hundred injured. In mid-January, a child was injured in a Ukrainian drone attack on the city of Voronezh – the capital of another region Zelensky claimed was “historically inhabited by Ukrainians.”

The developments come amid Kiev’s attempts to ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) – the country’s biggest Christian denomination, which is reported to have more than 8,000 parishes. The Ukrainian government has long accused it of having ties with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that Ukraine in its pre-2014 borders was largely “created” by the Soviet leadership over the course of the 20th century. Historically, “Ukrainian lands” included a much smaller territory, he has argued. When the Cossacks living on the territory of modern Ukraine broke away from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 17th century following the Bogdan Khmelnitsky uprising and asked the then-Tsardom of Russia to take them in, the territory they controlled effectively amounted to present-day Kiev, Chernigov, and Zhitomir regions – three areas in the north of Ukraine, the Russian president said in 2022.

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“Medvedev dismissed the decree as a “crude PR stunt” aimed at drawing public attention away from the Ukrainian forces’ failures on the front lines..”

Medvedev Denounces Zelensky’s ‘Territorial Claims’ To Russia (RT)

The latest decree by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky essentially amounts to “territorial claims” on sovereign Russian regions, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday. Posting on Telegram, he was referring to a document declaring six Russian regions to be “historically inhabited by Ukrainians.” Signed on Monday, Ukraine’s Day of Unity, the presidential decree claims that six territories that are universally recognized as a part of Russia – the Krasnodar, Rostov, Voronezh, Belgorod, Kursk and Bryansk regions – had been “historically” populated by “ethnic Ukrainians” that were then supposedly subjected to “forced Russification.” The document then orders the Kiev government to develop an “action plan” to “preserve” the Ukrainian national identity in Russia and demands the “true history” of Ukraine be made known to the “world.”

It also demands Russia provide people living in these regions with access to Ukrainian-language mass media and to some special “civil, social, cultural and religious rights.” Medvedev dismissed the decree as a “crude PR stunt” aimed at drawing public attention away from the Ukrainian forces’ failures on the front lines. He also said there was even no need to comment on the contents of the order, since the territories mentioned in it have always been part of Russia. The former president (2008-2012) also said it was high time Zelensky “stopped” such policies and abandoned them, or he might end up “annexing Canada in the near future.” Zelensky himself described signing the decree as a way to promote “truth about Ukrainians… and their history.” He also claimed that it was aimed at “restoring the truth about the historical past for the Ukrainian future.”

The Russian regions mentioned in the decree have been regularly subjected to drone and missile attacks as well as shelling by the Ukrainian troops. In December, Belgorod – the capital of one of the regions supposedly “historically inhabited by Ukrainians” – was struck by a major Ukrainian attack. The strike claimed the lives of 25 people, including children. The Russian Defense Ministry also said that Kiev’s forces used banned cluster munitions in an attack targeting the city center just a day before New Year’s Eve celebrations.

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Scholz will try to ban the AfD.

AfD Leader Calls for German ‘Dexit’ Vote to Break From EU (Sp.)

The Alternative for Germany party promotes direct voting on legislation and strict immigration controls. It was the subject of nationwide protests last week after some of its members were spotted at a meeting that advocated for mass deportation of immigrants in Germany, including those with German passports. Britain was “dead right” to leave the European Union and Germany should consider its own “Dexit,” the leader of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) Alice Weidel said in an article published in US media on Monday. “If reform isn’t possible, if we fail to rebuild sovereignty of the EU member states, we should let the people decide, just as Britain did,” she said, adding that “we could have a referendum on ‘Dexit’ – a German exit from the EU.”

A recent poll found that only 45% of AfD members would currently vote to leave the EU and only 10% of the general population said they would. It is worth noting that opinions can shift rapidly. In late 2014, only 36% of Britons said they would support the UK leaving the EU; less than two years later, more than half voted for “Brexit.” The AfD is leading the polls in five East German states and is polling second nationally at 22%. The party hopes to make gains at both the European Parliamentary elections in June and the regional elections in September. However, AfD’s high polling numbers may not reflect how much power the party will have in the near term. Establishment parties, including conservative-leaning ones, have ruled out forming a coalition with the AfD, limiting its potential power.

Weidel admitted that the issue will limit her party’s power in the short term but believes the “firewall” will not last forever, pointing to the conservative establishment CDU party, which includes former chancellor Angela Merkel, as the first likely to break. “The CDU will not be able to maintain its firewall in the long term,” Weidel said. She added that the last year proved “that we can form a clear right-wing majority. And the CDU can’t refuse to accept that in the long term, especially in the eastern states.” Weidel admitted her party is unlikely to take control until 2029 at the earliest. It is currently polling only behind the CDU but is ahead of every other party, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s three coalition parties.

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X thread. War games.

Russian Attack On Nato In 2044 (Zlatko)

Europe is being frightened by the “scenario of a Russian attack on NATO” in 2044. Former US commander Hodges and defense analyst Sam Cranny-Evans put together “their” scenario: “This is not about Russia trying to take over all of NATO. This is not what their goal will be in 20 years. It would be about destroying NATO as an alliance by invading the eastern flank and conquering critical places – like the Arctic – that would benefit them,” General Hodges said. In their opinion, everything will begin with cyber attacks on transport chains, after which a missile attack will be launched on key infrastructure facilities in Europe.

The ground operation will begin in Finland, where tanks controlled by artificial intelligence will “enter.” At the same time, the Suwalki corridor will be taken under control and the Baltic countries will be attacked. The Russian Navy, as planned by Hodges, will take control of the Arctic regions. “There is even the possibility of some kind of conflict in space, where satellites are used to attack each other or jam satellites, which has already been done at a lower level in Ukraine,” Cranny-Evans added. Ostashko reports.

The best take on this, from a commenter:

Then aliens will come down and mate with all the women in Sweden, Orcs will invade France and steal all the wine, and Zelensky will have run off with Von Der Layen and fathered 20 children……..

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“..events described under oath by two Capitol Police officers in the first Oath Keepers trial in 2022 could not have happened, based on Mr. Baker’s examination of security video..”

DOJ Seeking Retribution Against Journalist for Recent Jan. 6 Coverage (ET)

Attorneys for a journalist threatened with prosecution for being at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are challenging federal prosecutors to try his case outside the District of Columbia, suggesting prosecutors are seeking retribution for his recent reporting on possible Capitol Police perjury and the Jan. 6 pipe bombs. Six attorneys who said they volunteered to represent Stephen Baker of Raleigh, N.C., released a statement on Jan. 22 expressing belief that the DOJ is seeking even more serious Jan. 6 charges as retaliation. Mr. Baker, a former independent journalist, now writes for Blaze Media. “We now have information that Steve’s reporting has so agitated officials in multiple federal agencies that an effort is now underway to find a basis to charge Steve with more serious crimes and to use those more serious crimes as a pretext for early morning raids to execute search and arrest warrants on him and his family,” the statement read.

“If this is true, and search and arrest warrants are used to drag Steve out of his house in the early morning hours someday soon, that will be evidence of retaliation against a journalist exercising his First Amendment rights to report information that is embarrassing to government officials.” The statement is signed by five well-known Jan. 6 defense attorneys: James Lee Bright, Brad Geyer, Phillip Linder, William Shipley, and Edward Tarpley Jr. It was also signed by Mr. Baker’s Raleigh-based attorney, Matthew Ceradini. Mr. Geyer and Mr. Shipley were federal prosecutors for more than two decades. “After not having indicted me for three years, it is clear that any move to do so now will be in retaliation for my reporting,” Mr. Baker wrote in a news release. “I will not be intimidated. I will continue to report the findings of my investigation into the evidence being made available to me to review,” he said.

The attorneys challenged the DOJ to try any case against Mr. Baker in the eastern district of North Carolina where Mr. Baker lives, or the northern district of Texas, where his employer, Blaze Media, is located. “Are citizens of those two districts not suitable jurors in Steve’s case?” the statement asked. “Is the federal judiciary in those two districts not able to provide a fair and impartial trial? “On what basis does the United States Department of Justice believe the ‘United States’ can only get a fair trial in the District of Columbia and not one of those ‘United’ States?” Mr. Baker’s most recent coverage identified the person who found one of the two pipe bombs on Jan. 6 as an undercover U.S. Capitol Police officer and not a “passerby.” Since October 2023, he wrote a series of stories that said events described under oath by two Capitol Police officers in the first Oath Keepers trial in 2022 could not have happened, based on Mr. Baker’s examination of security video.

Mr. Geyer suggested that reporting should result in the Oath Keepers’ convictions being thrown out. Mr. Baker was one of dozens of journalists at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. His video footage appeared in an HBO film and was licensed by the BBC, The New York Times, and The Epoch Times. Mr. Baker was first contacted by the FBI in July 2021 about his presence at the Capitol. He voluntarily sat down with FBI special agents in November 2021. He said he was told the DOJ was considering charging him with interstate racketeering because he received money from licensing his Jan. 6 video. In March 2023, he said he was warned by a high-profile journalist that his reporting was chafing some high-level DOJ officials. In August, he was served a subpoena for his Jan. 6 video. In December, the FBI told his attorney that his arrest was imminent, although that plan was subsequently delayed.

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“..the falsely-elected, tyrannically corrupt, and epically deranged regime fronted by the ghost-in-the-White House, “Joe Biden.”

The Pipe-Bomb Caper (Kunstler)

“The FBI must come forward with the whole truth, immediately. If they will not, then Republicans have a duty to tear the FBI down to its foundation, and ensure that no government organization is allowed to amass this kind of power ever again.” — Charlie Kirk . Kudos to Darren J. Beattie of Revolver News and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) for doing the FBI’s work for the FBI, smoking out the role of law enforcement (including the FBI) in but one module of the J6 operation that turned a peaceful mass assembly of disgruntled voters into a riot in order to color it as an “insurrection” and so destroy opposition to the falsely-elected, tyrannically corrupt, and epically deranged regime fronted by the ghost-in-the-White House, “Joe Biden.”

Mr. Massie arranged to extract previously unseen video from the Capitol Police vaults showing the exceedingly strange behavior of various law-men in the minutes after one of their number reported a pipe-bomb beside a park bench, a few steps away from their parked vehicles, outside the DNC headquarters near the US Capitol building around one o’clock in the afternoon on J6/21, just around the time that a joint session of Congress would commence the entertainment of official complaints and objections to the certification of votes in the 2020 presidential election. Of course, that proceeding was disrupted by events outside and inside the US Capitol, and those many complaints and objections were never registered.

Two cars are shown parked blocking the driveway to the basement garage: a white Washington DC Metro Police SUV and a black Secret Service cruiser — because Veep Kamala Harris happened to be in the building at the time. A man with a backpack, later identified as a plainclothes Capitol Police officer, steps up first to the Metro car, then to the Secret Service cruiser, cueing minutes of slow milling-about by the officers in the two cars. Eventually several cops dawdle over to the bench to inspect what turns out to be a pipe-bomb planted in plain sight on the ground there. The video shows no effort to cordon-off the area or to stop cars or pedestrians (children) from entering the scene near the bomb.

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“The power they tasted during the lockdowns opened Pandora’s Box..”

Dutch Queen Promotes Digital ID at Davos (Martin Armstrong)

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands took to the Davos stage to declare that digital IDs are necessary for nearly every aspect of social engagement. The Dutch queen told the World Economic Forum (WEF) that they can no longer trust the people, and digital IDs will provide governments with a clear way to track our behavior. Vaccine passports are necessary to tell “who actually got a vaccination or not,” highlighting how those at the top do not trust the public. They want complete unilateral control. In fact, she believes that children should not be allowed to enroll in school unless they have a digital ID that includes their vaccination passport. “It [digital ID] is also good for school enrollment; it is also good for health – who actually got a vaccination or not; it’s very good actually to get your subsidies from the government,” she said to a room of nodding heads. Want to open a bank account? You must present a digital ID.

Now the Netherlands implemented a COVID certificate that was required for travel throughout the EU. Citizens were provided yellow vaccination booklets that they were required to carry throughout the pandemic. Mass protests erupted, but the government did not drop restrictions until 72% of the population was already injected. Over 40% of restaurants said they would not ask patrons to show proof of vaccination to enter. Prime Minister Mark Rutte immediately fired Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Mona Keijzer for questioning the vaccine passport. “If we end up in a society where we have to be afraid of each other unless we can show proof, then you really have to scratch your head and ask yourself: Is this the direction we want to go?” Dissent is no longer tolerated. The power they tasted during the lockdowns opened Pandora’s Box. The Dutch government must realize they will be met with resistance as the Dutch people will not allow the government to control them without a fight.

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Foal

 

 

Bouzouki bear

 

 


When humans lose weight, fat is eliminated and leaves the body. 80% of the fat is exhaled through the lungs as carbon dioxide

 

 

Lyrebird

 

 

Cathedral

 

 

 

 

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Sep 262017
 
 September 26, 2017  Posted by at 1:21 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Fan Ho The Evening of Life 1963

 

“Forget Germany, Spain Is The Real Problem”, reads a headline. Eh… no. Germany is definitely the problem in Europe. Spain is a bit player. That doesn’t mean nothing major could happen in Spain in its fight with Catalonia, and soon, but Spain, like all EU nations, is a de facto province of Germany.

What matters in the end is how Brussels and Merkel deal with Spain. And while it’s tempting to say that perhaps Brussels, the EU, is the main European problem, the European Union is run exclusively by and for Germany, so that doesn’t work either.

The only thing that might work if you really want to find a bigger issue than Germany is if you would point at the role the incessant lies about economic conditions for people play. But that’s not a European issue, that’s global.

The talk about how economies are recovering, how there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and how any day now we’ll be back to where we were at some point in time that many can not even remember. But then, at least when it comes to Europe, that happy talk comes from Germany too, to a large degree. Just wait till Draghi starts cutting his QE.

You can try and tell people that they’re doing just great, using the media you control, and it’ll work for a stretch, if only because they want to believe it, badly, but when these same people can’t even feed their children while you make such claims, you will eventually lose their attention and support. The difference between beliefs and experiences.

 

If you’re a politician, you try to feed people what they want to hear, invariably an upbeat message, but there comes a time when you have to back it up. You can say that austerity is necessary, inevitable, and the only choice, and it will be beneficial to them, but austerity is one of those things that have a very limited best before date.

If you can only make employment numbers look good by creating a gig economy that takes away all their benefits, and their entire sense of security, they’re going to turn their backs on you. Because you’re lying.

Rising inequality is a one way street right up to the point where it turns into a dead end alley. Inequality breeds more inequality until it no longer can, until people say ‘I want that cake you are having because my kids are hungry. And I brought a pitchfork’.

That is where we’re at, and that is why Merkel lost some 25% of her votes. That is why there’s Trump and Brexit, and why an impossible candidate like Marine Le Pen in France gathered so much attention and support. It’s why eastern European countries will start fighting Brussels and Berlin much harder than they have to date, and why Berlin will fight back harder than it has. Poor Greece.

In the US, there’s only one party, and it divvies up the spoils of very rich campaign contributions. Bernie Sanders tried to circumvent this; not a chance. Trump succeeded. In Britain, there was no difference between left and right for a long time, and no alternative party either. That led to Brexit. In France, Macron started a whole new party from scratch and somehow got it funded (bankers?!). It wiped the left off the map.

The same happened in Holland, where like in France the right wing alternative was judged too unpalatable by too many. No left left. The leaders of Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland do not have the visibility for that yet. In Italy, Five Star have a good shot at the throne. Greece’s Syriza already overtook both left and right. In eastern Europe, right wing parties often didn’t even have to overthrow an existing order, they could just slide in.

 

The pattern is so obvious only those who stand to lose from acknowledging it end up not seeing it, or telling themselves it’s all just an incident. But it’s not, because the shrinking economies everywhere are not. When left and right, either in public or in practice, rule a country together and their promises don’t hold up, people will look for a way out. If far right is the only way available, they will pick that.

It’s not because they’re all nazis or something like that. But people do lean towards smaller units of organization, decentralization, when they get poorer. And despite all the talk of recovery, that is what most people have seen happen to their lives, while their leaders told them they’re just fine. So you get this kind of headline (and map) for the US (h/t Mish/ZH).

Large Parts Of America Are Being Left Behind

Economic prosperity is concentrated in America’s elite zip codes, but in an interesting report on Distressed Communities, from The Economic Innovation Group, it is increasingly clear that economic stability outside of those communities is rapidly deteriorating. As Axios noted, this isn’t a Republican or Democratic problem. At every level of government, both parties represent distressed areas. But the economic fortunes of the haves and have-nots have only helped to widen the political chasm between them, and it has yet to be addressed by substantial policy proposals on either side of the aisle. Economic Prosperity Quintiles.

 

 

And a very similar headline appears in the Guardian in a report about the German election.

 

‘A Lot of People Feel Left Behind’: Voters on the Far-Right Surge in Germany

Sarah, 37, teacher, Bonn: “A lot of people feel left behind. They are looking for scapegoats. It is the easy way to deal with problems. The AFD makes use of this feeling. With the grand coalition, there was no real debating culture left. The CDU went too much into the middle, leaving the right out. Just like the SPD under Schröder left the left-wing out.”

Perhaps a lot of those who voted for Trump, and Brexit, Le Pen, Wilders, the AfD, are not so much looking for scapegoats, they’ve identified those as their incumbent politicians; they’re instead looking for a way away from them. All these people who feel left behind base that feeling primarily on their deteriorating economic circumstances. And if the only alternative they have rants, against foreigners and immigrants, they’ll go with that.

Angela Merkel pushed over 1 million refugees and immigrants down the German population’s throats. She never asked their opinion. But many Germans are not doing any better than many Americans or French or British. So the consequences of such things are predictable. You have to explain, you have to communicate with your people. Just saying ‘we can do this’ is not enough. No more than ‘change we can believe in’ was. It’s just hollow.

Merkel lost ‘only’ 25% of her votes. Because Germans know what right wing is, and what it can do. Germany is not full of nazis, no more than America is. Both countries just have a lot of people who feel trapped in a web of lies, and their existing and alleged democratic systems offer no way out of that web.

All these countries, the people and their politicians, have the tendency to see their situations as somehow unique, but they’d be much better off looking at what they have in common with others.

The only solution is to tell people the truth, that the incumbent political class has screwed up badly because of limited brain capacity and unlimited greed, and that they should elect people next time who are both smarter and less sociopathic. But that is not something that comes voluntarily, that takes a battle. And it tends to end careers, and lives.

That is what we can expect. In many different shapes and forms, but all for the same underlying reasons. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time, you can’t even fool a majority for long. You can only fool a limited number of them for a limited amount of time.

Well, time’s up.

 

 

Sep 262017
 
 September 26, 2017  Posted by at 8:33 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Paul Cézanne Curtains 1885

 

Lenders Loosen Mortgage Standards as Demand Falls (WS)
Levered Loan Volumes Soar Past 2007 Levels As “Cov-Lite” Deals Surge (ZH)
China’s Crackdown Brings Developers Crashing Back to Earth (BBG)
The Next Crisis Will Start in Silicon Valley (BBG)
King Cash May Reign For Weeks In Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico (BBG)
The White House as Donald Trump’s New Casino (Nomi Prins)
Large Parts Of America Are Being Left Behind (ZH)
‘A Lot Of People Feel Left Behind’ – Why Far Right Won In Germany (G.)
Macron Presses Ahead With His Vision for Europe As Merkel Calls For Calm (BBG)
EU Presidency Calls For Massive Internet Filtering (EDRi)
EU Officially Ends Excessive Deficit Procedure Against Greece (R.)
ECB May Frontload 2018 Bank Stress Tests With View To Greece – Draghi (R.)
French Government Declares War On Pesticides (AFP)
Our Food Crops Face Mass Extinction Too (G.)
Sixth Mass Extinction Of Wildlife Also Threatens Global Food Supplies (G.)

 

 

The last step before the fall.

Lenders Loosen Mortgage Standards as Demand Falls (WS)

The toxic combination of “competition from other lenders” and slowing mortgage demand is cited by senior executives of mortgage lenders as the source of all kinds of headaches for the mortgage lending industry. Primarily due to this competition amid declining of demand for mortgages, the profit margin outlook has deteriorated for the fourth quarter in a row, according to Fannie Mae’s Q3 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey. And the share of lenders that blamed this competition as the key reason for deteriorating profits “rose to a new survey high.” Demand is down for all three types or mortgages: • Mortgages eligible for guarantees by Government Sponsored Enterprises, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (“GSE Eligible”), indirectly backed by taxpayers. • Mortgages not eligible for GSE guarantees (“Non-GSE Eligible”), not backed by taxpayers. • Mortgages guaranteed by Government agencies, such as Ginnie Mae, directly backed by taxpayers.

And how are lenders combating this lack of demand and the deteriorating profit margins that are being pressured by competition? They’re loosening lending standards. Fannie Mae’s report: Lenders further eased home mortgage credit standards during the third quarter, continuing a trend that started in late 2016. In particular, both the net share of lenders reporting easing on GSE-eligible loans for the prior three months and the share expecting to ease standards on those loans over the next three months increased to survey highs. Lenders’ comments suggest that competitive pressure and more favorable guidelines for GSE loans have helped to bring about more easing of underwriting standards for those loans. This chart shows the net share of lenders reporting loosening their lending standards for each type of loan (= the share of lenders reporting loosening credit standards minus those reporting tightening standards):

In many urban markets home prices have soared far beyond their peaks during the prior crazy housing bubble. That bubble ended with such spectacular results, in part because lending standards had been loosened so that more people could be stuffed into more homes, and more expensive homes that they couldn’t afford, and whose prices then plunged when the scheme fell apart. This time around, home prices, according to the national Case-Shiller Home Price Index, are now about 5% above the prior crazy bubble peak that imploded with such fanfare:

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Everything’s a casino now.

Levered Loan Volumes Soar Past 2007 Levels As “Cov-Lite” Deals Surge (ZH)

If a surge in covenant-lite levered loans is any indication that debt and equity markets are nearing the final stages of their bubbly ascent, then perhaps now is a good time for investors to take their profits and run. As the Wall Street Journal points out this morning, levered loans volumes in the U.S. are once again surging, eclipsing even 2007 levels, despite the complete implosion of bricks-and-mortar retailers and continued warnings that “the market is getting frothy.” Volume for these leveraged loans is up 53% this year in the U.S., putting it on pace to surpass the 2007 record of $534 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s LCD unit. n Europe, recent loans offer fewer investor safeguards than in the past. This year, 70% of the region’s new leveraged loans are known as covenant-lite, according to LCD, more than triple the number four years ago.

Covenants are the terms in a loan’s contract that offer investor protections, such as provisions on borrowers’ ability to take on more debt or invest in projects. “If feels like the market is getting frothy,” said Henrik Johnsson at Deutsche Bank. “We’re overdue a correction.” Meanwhile, volumes are surging even as traditional lender protections have become basically nonexistent. As S&P LCD points out, over 70% of levered loans issued so far in 2017 are considered “covenant-lite” versus only 30% of those issued in 2007. Before the financial crisis, the boom in leveraged loans was one of the signs of markets overheating. As the crisis intensified in 2008, investors in U.S. leveraged loans lost nearly 30%, according to the S&P/LSTA Leveraged Loan Index.

Regulators are taking note. In its last quarterly report, the Bank for International Settlements noted the growth of covenant-lite loans and pointed out that U.S. companies are more leveraged than at any time since the beginning of the millennium. That could harm the economy in the event of a downturn or a rise in interest rates, said the BIS consortium of central banks.

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Not quite yet. But they will.

China’s Crackdown Brings Developers Crashing Back to Earth (BBG)

The world’s most extreme stock rally is getting a reality check. After share price gains at Chinese property developers accelerated at a breathtaking pace in the past month, led by an 87% surge in Sunac, the momentum has started to turn as authorities have taken a harder line on reining in financial risks. Six of the 10 best performers on the MSCI All-Country World Index in the one month through Sept. 21 were Chinese real estate firms. Chinese developers had their biggest slump in six years on Monday, before some rebounded on Tuesday. Record home sales and buoyant earnings helped spur an unprecedented rally this year for Chinese developers, especially large firms positioned to wrest market share through debt-fueled acquisitions.

Top of that list are the nation’s two most indebted developers – China Evergrande Group and Sunac – whose shares swelled 459% and 391% respectively. Some investors were starting to question how long the astonishing share gains could last, even before a raft of housing curbs over the weekend. “The drop of property stocks today brings a reality check,” Andy Wong at Pictet Asset Management said in a briefing Monday. “In the past few months investors have been focusing purely on growth. But it’s never wise to totally ignore the risk of leverage.” Sunac shares have plunged almost 16% from a Sept. 19 high, amid the general pall over the sector and news that a financial firm is scrutinizing its loans to Sunac, China’s most leveraged developer.

Evergrande shares have tumbled more than 12% in the past three trading sessions, matching the decline in a Bloomberg index of 22 mainland developers. Even with the recent selloff, Chinese developers remain among the world’s best-performing stocks this year. Evergrande and Sunac two top stocks in the MSCI All-Country World Index this year. Part of that rally was stoked by a housing market boom that buoyed developers’ earnings in the first half, sending sales soaring and boosting profit margins to the highest levels in three years, according to calculations based on earnings reports.

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It’s where the excess cash has gone.

The Next Crisis Will Start in Silicon Valley (BBG)

Since 2007, a tremendous wave of innovation has swept across the financial sector, affecting almost every aspect of finance. New robo-adviser startups like Betterment and Wealthfront have begun dispensing financial advice based on algorithmic calculations, with little to no human input. Crowdfunding firms like Kickstarter and Lending Club have created new ways for companies and individuals to raise money from dispersed networks of individuals. New virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have radically changed our understanding of how money can and should work. These financial technology (or “fintech”) markets are populated by small startup companies, the exact opposite of the large, concentrated Wall Street banks that have for so long dominated finance.

And they have brought great benefits for investors and consumers. By automating decision-making and reducing the costs of transactions, fintech has greased the wheels of finance, making it faster and more efficient. It has also broadened access to capital to new and underserved groups, making finance more democratic than it has ever been. But revolutions often end in destruction. And the fintech revolution has created an environment ripe for instability and disruption. It does so in three ways. First, fintech companies are more vulnerable to rapid, adverse shocks than typical Wall Street banks. Because they’re small and undiversified, they can easily go under when they hit a blip in the market. Consider the case of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, which was the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange until an apparent security breach took it down in 2014, precipitating losses that would be worth more than $3.5 billion in today’s prices.

Second, fintech companies are more difficult to monitor than conventional financial firms. Because they rely on complex computer algorithms for many of their essential functions, it’s hard for outsiders to get a clear picture of the risks and rewards. And because many of their technologies are so new and innovative, they may fall outside the reach of old and outdated regulatory structures. The recent proliferation of “initial coin offerings,” for example, has left regulators around the world scrambling to figure out how to respond. Third, fintech has not developed the set of unwritten norms and expectations that guide more traditional financial institutions.

In 2008, when Lehman Brothers was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the heads of the largest Wall Street investment banks gathered in New York to coordinate their actions and prevent further panic. It’s hard to imagine something like that happening in the fintech world. The industry is so new, and the players so diverse, that companies have little incentive to cooperate for the greater good. Instead, they prioritize aggressive growth and reckless behavior.

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If this is not a wake-up call for you…

King Cash May Reign For Weeks In Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico (BBG)

In post-hurricane San Juan on Monday, commerce picked up ever so slightly. With a little effort, you could get the basics and sometimes more: diapers, medicine, or even a gourmet hamburger smothered in fried onions and Gorgonzola cheese. But almost impossible to find was a place that accepted credit cards. “Cash only,” said Abraham Lebron, the store manager standing guard at Supermax, a supermarket in San Juan’s Plaza de las Armas. He was in a well-policed area, but admitted feeling like a sitting duck with so many bills on hand. “The system is down, so we can’t process the cards. It’s tough, but one finds a way to make it work.” The cash economy has reigned in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria decimated much of the U.S. commonwealth last week, leveling the power grid and wireless towers and transporting the island to a time before plastic existed.

The state of affairs could carry on for weeks or longer in some remote parts of the commonwealth, and that means it could be impossible to trace revenue and enforce tax rules. The situation further frustrates one of the many challenges already facing a government that has sought a form of bankruptcy protection after its debts swelled past $70 billion: boosting revenue by collecting money that slips through the cracks. In fact, the power blackout only exacerbates a situation that has always been, to a degree, a fact of life in Puerto Rico. Outside the island’s tourist hubs, many small businesses simply never took credit cards, with some openly expressing contempt for tax collectors and others claiming it was just a question of not wanting to deal with the technology.

But those were generally vendors of bootleg DVDs, fruit stands, barbers — not major supermarkets. Now, the better part of the economy is in the same boat. Cash was in short supply. Many Puerto Ricans were still living off what money they thought to withdraw ahead of the storm. Most ATMs on the island still weren’t working because of the power outage or because no one had refilled them. In Fajardo, a hard-hit coastal area, the paper printouts taped to sheet metal storm shutters read: “Cash only, thank you.”

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Washington has been a casino for decades.

The White House as Donald Trump’s New Casino (Nomi Prins)

During the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly emphasized that our country was run terribly and needed a businessman at its helm. Upon winning the White House, he insisted that the problem had been solved, adding, “In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this.” Sure enough, while Hillary Clinton spent her time excoriating her opponent for not releasing his tax returns, Americans ultimately embraced the candidate who had proudly and openly dodged their exposure. And why not? It’s in the American ethos to disdain “the man” – especially the taxman. In an election turned reality TV show, who could resist watching a larger-than-life conman who had taken money from the government?

Now, give him credit. As president, The Donald has done just what he promised the American people he would do: run the country like he ran his businesses. At one point, he even displayed confusion about distinguishing between them when he said of the United States: “We’re a very powerful company – country.” Of course, as Hillary Clinton rarely bothered to point out, he ran many of them using excess debt, deception, and distraction, while a number of the ones he guided personally (as opposed to just licensing them the use of his name) – including his five Atlantic City casinos, his airline, and a mortgage company – he ran into the ground and then ditched. He escaped relatively unscathed financially, while his investors and countless workers and small businesses to whom he owed money were left holding the bag.

We may never fully know what lurks deep within those tax returns of his, but we already know that they were “creative” in nature. As he likes to put it, not paying taxes “makes me smart.” To complete the analogy Trump made during the election campaign, he’s running the country on the very same instincts he used with those businesses and undoubtedly with just the same sense of self-protectiveness. Take the corporate tax policy he advocates that’s being promoted by his bank-raider turned Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. It’s focused on lowering the tax rate for multinational corporations from 35% to 15%, further aiding the profitability of companies that already routinely squirrel away profits and hide losses in the crevices of tax havens far removed from public disclosure.

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People are being left behind everywhere.

Large Parts Of America Are Being Left Behind (ZH)

Economic prosperity is concentrated in America’s elite zip codes, but in an interesting report on Distressed Communities, from The Economic Innovation Group, it is increasingly clear that economic stability outside of those communities is rapidly deteriorating. As Axios noted, this isn’t a Republican or Democratic problem. At every level of government, both parties represent distressed areas. But the economic fortunes of the haves and have-nots have only helped to widen the political chasm between them, and it has yet to be addressed by substantial policy proposals on either side of the aisle.

Economic Prosperity Quintiles

As MishTalk.com’s Mike Shedlock writes below, the study notes: “America’s elite zip codes are home to a spectacular degree of growth and prosperity. However, millions of Americans are stuck in places where what little economic stability exists is quickly eroding beneath their feet.” Distress is based on an evaluation of seven metrics.
• No high school diploma
• Housing vacancy rate
• Adults not working
• Poverty rate
• Median income ratio
• Change in employment
• Change in business establishments

Change in Distress Quintiles

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Merkel acts like an empress.

‘A Lot Of People Feel Left Behind’ – Why Far Right Won In Germany (G.)

Despite gains made by the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the breaking up of the ‘grand coalition’ could mark a positive step for Germany, according to voters who responded to our online callout. Here voters in Germany tell us why they think the AfD made gains, and what hopes they have for the future of the country’s politics.

‘A lot of people feel left behind’ – Sarah, 37, teacher, Bonn My second vote was a tactical one. I gave it to the Linke. I knew that we’ll need a very strong voice against the AfD. I am pleased though, that the SPD decided to go into opposition to redefine themselves. A lot of people feel left behind. They are looking for scapegoats. It is the easy way to deal with problems. The AFD makes use of this feeling. With the grand coalition, there was no real debating culture left. The CDU went too much into the middle, leaving the right out. Just like the SPD under Schröder left the left-wing out.

The impact of the newly arrived is big. Some people are scared. Some that have been living in Germany for a long time feel disadvantaged. We can live together and be united in our diversity. I see this in school every day. If we treat each other with respect, then we do not need to fear. It is a long and strenuous way. But it is also very rewarding and fun to walk down that lane. At dinner I really had to get hold of myself to not cry in front of my children. I physically felt sick. A Nazi party being the third biggest party in Germany! I am still devastated.

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More Europe is dead.

Macron Presses Ahead With His Vision for Europe As Merkel Calls For Calm (BBG)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel already faces complex coalition negotiations with at least three other parties. Now French President Emmanuel Macron wants in on the act. In a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris on Tuesday, Macron will make proposals for re-shaping Europe that he acknowledges will require Merkel’s support to push through. While he isn’t seeking to interfere in German domestic politics, it makes sense to air the ideas before a coalition is formed rather than after, an official in his office told reporters. Macron needs Germany’s backing for planned overhauls of areas ranging from defense and immigration to the economy. Yet with Merkel weakened in Germany’s vote and her potential Free Democratic coalition partner even more hostile to aspects of euro-area integration than her own party, the prospect of radical change in Europe looks to have diminished.

“There was this expectation that the election would strengthen the German-French alliance, all kinds of reforms would be tackled and then we’re on the road to fiscal union,” Oliver Adler, head of economic research at Credit Suisse in Zurich, said in an interview. “This now seems politically very unlikely.” Macron will press ahead with his vision of remaking European institutions anyway, seeking to set the direction of debate. While a key element of his reform package is intended to reinforce the euro against future shocks, his speech won’t be all about the single currency area. Macron will propose as many as 10 projects in his speech, including a European agency for innovation and a system to improve start-up funding, a larger Erasmus student-exchange project, increased anti-terrorism cooperation, and a “digital plan” that includes a joint effort to push the EU Commission for a plan to tax Internet giants such as Apple and Google.

The goal is to have a roadmap in place by the summer of 2018 that will equip the EU for its next decade, according to the French official. Macron intends to discuss his plans with fellow EU leaders at a summit in the Estonian capital Tallinn at the end of this week. He may struggle to engage Merkel after Martin Schulz, her Social Democratic election challenger, upset her own plans by announcing his intention not to renew their respective parties’ coalition of the past four years.

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Politicians don’t understand technology.

EU Presidency Calls For Massive Internet Filtering (EDRi)

A Council of the European Union document leaked by Statewatch on 30 August reveals that during the summer months, that Estonia (current EU Presidency) has been pushing the other Member States to strengthen indiscriminate internet surveillance, and to follow in the footsteps of China regarding online censorship. Standing firmly behind its belief that filtering the uploads is the way to go, the Presidency has worked hard in order to make the proposal for the new copyright Directive even more harmful than the Commission’s original proposal, and pushing it further into the realms of illegality. According to the leaked document, the text suggests two options for each of the two most controversial proposals: the so-called “link tax” or ancillary copyright and the upload filter. Regarding the upload filter, the text offers two alternatives:

Option A maintains the Commission’s original proposal of having in place an upload filter which will be under the control of platforms and other companies that are hosting online content. Although it removes mentions to “content recognition technologies”, in reality, there is no way to “prevent the availability” (another expression which remains in the text) of certain content without scanning all the content first. Option B is, at best, a more extreme version of Option A. In fact, it seems so extreme that it almost makes the first option look like a reasonable compromise. This may, of course, be the “diplomatic” strategy. In this extreme option, the text attacks again the liability regime of the e-commerce Directive – which, bizarrely, would not be repealed, leaving us with two contradictory pieces of EU law but adds a “clarification” of what constitutes a “communication to the public”.

This clarification establishes that platforms (and its users) would be liable for the copyright infringing content uploaded by its users. The proposals in this leak highlight a very dangerous roadmap for the EU Member States, if they were to follow the Presidency’s lead. The consequences of these flawed proposals can only be prevented if civil society and EU citizens firmly raise their voices against having a censorship machine in the EU. We will be turning on our call tool at savethememe.net before each of the key votes in the European Parliament. Make use of the tool, and call your representatives to stop the #censorshipmachine!

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Oh, get real: “a recognition of the tremendous efforts and sacrifices the Greek people have made to restore stability to their country’s public finances.”

EU Officially Ends Excessive Deficit Procedure Against Greece (R.)

European Union states decided on Monday to close disciplinary procedures against Greece over its excessive deficit after improvements in Greece’s fiscal position, confirming the country’s recovery is on the right track. The move, although largely symbolic, sends a new signal that Greece’s public finances are again under control, facilitating the country’s plans to tap markets after a successful issue of bonds in July which ended a three-year exile. EU fiscal rules oblige member states to keep their budget deficits below 3% of their economic output or face sanctions that could entail hefty fines, although so far no country has received a financial penalty.

Greece had a 0.7% budget surplus in 2016, and is projected to maintain its fiscal position within EU rules’ limits this year. “In the light of this, the Council (of EU states) found that Greece fulfils the conditions for closing the excessive deficit procedure,” the EU said in a note. “After many years of severe difficulties, Greece’s finances are in much better shape. Today’s decision is therefore welcome”, Estonia’s finance minister Toomas Toniste said. The EU states’ decision confirmed a proposal by the EU executive commission in July to end the disciplinary procedure for Greece. The economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the decision was “a recognition of the tremendous efforts and sacrifices the Greek people have made to restore stability to their country’s public finances.”

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Good cop bad cop. Rinse and repeat.

ECB May Frontload 2018 Bank Stress Tests With View To Greece – Draghi (R.)

The ECB may ‘frontload’ its bank stress test next year, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Monday, when asked if supervisors plan any early checks on the health of Greek lenders. The IMF has been pushing for a fresh asset quality review at Greek banks, possibly as part of an bailout review that is slated to start soon. The ECB has rejected the call, saying that the next check is the regular 2018 stress test, but Draghi’s words suggest that ECB may be somewhat flexible with its timeline. “The SSM (Single Supervisory Mechanism) will take its decision with full independence,” Draghi told members of the European Parliament. “And what the SSM plans to do next year is to have a stress test, possibly frontloading the stress test, and basically the SSM sent a letter to the IMF concerning exactly this expected line of action,” Draghi said.

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Maybe Macron can do some good too.

French Government Declares War On Pesticides (AFP)

France is planning to cut back on use of all pesticides, the government said Monday, though it rowed back on an announcement of an outright ban on controversial chemical glyphosate. Government spokesman Christophe Castaner had said earlier Monday that France – Europe’s biggest food producer a- intended to phase out glyphosate completely by 2022 over fears that it may cause cancer. But he later reversed his comments, saying that by the end of President Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term “the government is committed to seeing significant progress on all pesticides”. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in one of the world’s most widely used weedkillers, Roundup, produced by the US agro-chemicals giant Monsanto. The European Commission has proposed extending the licence for the use of the chemical for 10 years, which France has said it will vote against and try to block.

France’s biggest farming union, the FNSEA, said Monday that it was “out of the question” for the country to go it alone, worrying that a French ban could put them at a disadvantage against European competitors. “A sudden ban, no — a path for reducing it and finding solutions, if the solutions are good economically and technically, we can see it happening,” said FNSEA chief Christiane Lambert. Europe limited use of glyphosate last year pending further research. The EU’s chemical agency said glyphosate should be not be classified as cancer-causing. But this is challenged by scientists and environmentalists who point to a finding by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic”. Some 1.3 million people have signed an online petition calling for a ban on the chemical.

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Can mankind rid the earth of its presence? Stay tuned.

Our Food Crops Face Mass Extinction Too (G.)

A “sixth mass extinction” is already under way, scientists are now warning us. Species such as the Bengal tiger and blue whale are vanishing at an alarming rate, and mournful eulogies are being written on how those born in 20 years’ time may never see an African elephant. But who is writing the eulogy for our food? Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply -known as agrobiodiversity- are just as endangered and are getting almost no attention. Take some consumer favourites: chips, chocolate and coffee. Up to 22% of wild potato species are predicted to become extinct by 2055 due to climate change. In Ghana and Ivory Coast, where the raw ingredient for 70% of our chocolate is grown, cacao trees will not be able to survive as temperatures rise by two degrees over the next 40 years. Coffee yields in Tanzania have dropped 50% since 1960.

These crops are the tip of the iceberg. Across the world, 940 cultivated species are threatened. Agrobiodiversity is a precious resource that we are losing, and yet it can also help solve or mitigate many challenges the world is facing. It has a critical yet overlooked role in helping us improve global nutrition, reduce our impact on the environment and adapt to climate change. According to the World Health Organisation, poor diet is the biggest cause of early death and disability. Globally, 2 billion people are undernourished, while 2 billion are obese and at risk of contracting diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Focusing on large-scale intensive production of starchy crops for calories rather than nutritious diets has led to serious levels of obesity around the world, from the US to Kenya. Our agrobiodiversity base can be a source of affordable, nutritious food – provided we don’t let it disappear.

[..] About 33% of the world’s farmland is estimated to be degraded, lacking the nutrients essential for growing crops. Agrobiodiversity once again has a solution. Planting cold-tolerant legumes and forages throughout winter has helped farmers in France naturally reduce weed infestation as well as increasing soil’s nutrient content and capacity to hold water. Natural remedies such as this can enhance the sustainability of farms worldwide, reducing the sector’s impact on the environment.

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“Three-quarters of the world’s food today comes from just 12 crops and five animal species”. In India, there used to be 100,000 varieties of rice. Today, there’s a big struggle going on to preserve a few dozen. There are many different banana species, but we all eat just one, the Cavendish. Which is under severe threat from a global fungus and could be gone in 5-10 years.

Sixth Mass Extinction Of Wildlife Also Threatens Global Food Supplies (G.)

The sixth mass extinction of global wildlife already under way is seriously threatening the world’s food supplies, according to experts. “Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply are just as endangered [as wildlife] and are getting almost no attention,” said Ann Tutwiler, director general of Bioversity International, a research group that published a new report on Tuesday. “If there is one thing we cannot allow to become extinct, it is the species that provide the food that sustains each and every one of the seven billion people on our planet,” she said in an article for the Guardian. “This ‘agrobiodiversity’ is a precious resource that we are losing, and yet it can also help solve or mitigate many challenges the world is facing. It has a critical yet overlooked role in helping us improve global nutrition, reduce our impact on the environment and adapt to climate change.”

Three-quarters of the world’s food today comes from just 12 crops and five animal species and this leaves supplies very vulnerable to disease and pests that can sweep through large areas of monocultures, as happened in the Irish potato famine when a million people starved to death. Reliance on only a few strains also means the world’s fast changing climate will cut yields just as the demand from a growing global population is rising. There are tens of thousands of wild or rarely cultivated species that could provide a richly varied range of nutritious foods, resistant to disease and tolerant of the changing environment. But the destruction of wild areas, pollution and overhunting has started a mass extinction of species on Earth.

The focus to date has been on wild animals – half of which have been lost in the last 40 years – but the new report reveals that the same pressures are endangering humanity’s food supply, with at least 1,000 cultivated species already endangered. Tutwiler said saving the world’s agrobiodiversity is also vital in tackling the number one cause of human death and disability in the world – poor diet, which includes both too much and too little food. “We are not winning the battle against obesity and undernutrition,” she said. “Poor diets are in large part because we have very unified diets based on a narrow set of commodities and we are not consuming enough diversity.”

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Oct 072014
 
 October 7, 2014  Posted by at 8:52 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


DPC St. Mary’s Canal parade, Sault Sainte Marie, MI 1905

Something’s happening in Europe that I would like to cheer and encourage at the top of my lungs. While only yesterday, most European leaders, the ECB and the IMF were busy chiding Germany for not lowering taxes or increasing government investment in its economy, today’s release of German economic data should either shut them up or drastically change their tune.

Then again, they are to a (wo)man too self-obsessed and -important to keep their traps closed, and they know only the one tune. That should lead to some serious bitterness, of which I’m also full-heartedly in favor. For everyone’s good but that of the self-absorbed politicians, the eurozone should be demolished, and entirely new, far more modest treaties between the nations negotiated.

If we can agree the single currency, and the legal settings it is caught in, have already done great damage to the over 50% of young people in Spain and Greece who may never find jobs at all, to the Italians and Irish who were keelhauled in the name of the greater good, and and and, and to all the millions in all the other eurozone member nations, if we can agree on that, things are going to get much worse if the euro project is not abandoned as soon as possible.

The good thing about Germany’s bad, make that awful, numbers is that they will raise the voices of euroskeptics across the country. If there is to be a change in view or politics from Angela Merkel and her people, it’s not going to be what the rest of Europe wants, a softer stance on Mario Draghi’s ABS junk paper purchases. Quite the opposite: Germans will increase their calls for Deutschland first, and Merkel can no longer ignore them.

Berlin will have to turn to protectionist policies, sort of like the antithesis the the entire European project that has seen so much support from these very Germans. Merkel cannot accept looser financial policies in Brussels, which carry the risk – bordering on certainty – that her taxpayers will be on the hook for losses incurred in the ECB’s last ditch attempts to save itself and the currency. Merkel’s – existing and potential – voters will not accept it.

That de facto means she must turn her back on Europe. It will not be advertized that way, at least not in the beginning, but it is what it all comes down to. Whether you agree or not that Germany’s own points of view and actions have contributed to the misery large parts of Europe are in, the fact remains they’re miserable and slip sliding into worse. Something needs to be done, but no-one can agree on what.

Draghi’s highly expensive and highly disputed buy buy buy plans can’t actually solve any problems, neither the ones countries already had nor those the euro straightjacket added. What the plans may do is buy a bit of time. Time that will be used to further tighten the euro noose around everyone’s neck.

Central banks can’t solve problems, but they sure can make them worse. This may sound strange when you look at what many see as a recovery in the US, but just wait a few more years and then look at what $10+ trillion has bought Americans, or $25 trillion has done for China.

In the end, it’s all just more debt piled on top of debt, and nothing but a huge blind spot in the range of vision of economists, edged on by those who seek to profit from a nation’s taxpayers being dragged down further towards servitude. That you could boost a broke economy be making it more broke, or even risk doing so, is insanity squared, but it’s also what every economics textbook says should be done.

In a few days, another fake Economic Nobel (Fauxbel) will be awarded to another clown or comic troupe with some utterly useless theory, their field lauded as a science without ever obeying even the most basic scientific principles. And some day people will ask: ‘what were they thinking?’, but they’ll have to ask their questions from cardboard shovels and corrugated shanty towns.

The fast rising right-of-Merkel Alternative for Deutschland party will grab onto today’s bad bad data (25% plunge in new car sales, 8.8% less capital goods (machinery etc.) produced, factory orders down 5.7%, overall industrial production down 4% MoM) to demand protection for Germans, and less, not more, Berlin involvement in the EU and eurozone.

At the – well, ok, arguably – worst point in euro history, with all other ‘solutions’ failed and debt levels higher than ever, Mario Draghi wants to raise those levels even more. Merkel doesn’t have the political room to allow him to, because she doesn’t have the economic room anymore. As soon as she announces some, any, cut in domestic services, the AfD and other voices will clamor: cut the Greeks first.

France is gasping for breath, Italy is on life support, Greece, Cyprus and Spain are in the emergency room, and Europe’s German engine has just quit. A 500+ million ‘union’ with no steering wheel and no engine is on its way to the brink of a deep cliff. Someone’s going to jump ship, no question about it. The Germans themselves might be the first.

Nobody in Europe has anything to lose from the demise of the eurozone, at least nothing that they wouldn’t lose anyway, but every single European save for a cabal of power brokers and narcissists has a ton and a half of happiness and self-fulfillment and independence to lose from the continuation of the failed project. Luckily for them, the German data promise to bring the merciful end that much closer.

What’s wrong with the EU is the same as what’s wrong with NATO, the IMF, the World Bank. They are institutions that start with noble ideals, but soon start to gobble up ever more power, and with no-one to hold them to account. That kind of structure in turn attracts a certain kind of people, the ones who don’t like to be held to account.

And though I’m a little hesitant to include the US in all this, since it”s so much older, I certainly wouldn’t discard Washington offhand as a place where the wrong kind of people have gathered far too much power.