Dec 072023
 


Vincent van Gogh Self-Portrait with Straw Hat Aug-Sep 1887

 

Amid Fear of Trump ‘Dictatorship’, Some See Assassination (Robert Bridge)
The ‘Jan. 6 Jurisprudence’ About to Be Unleashed on Trump (Julie Kelly)
Israel Headed for Strategic Defeat in Gaza (Scott Ritter)
Erdogan Sees Netanyahu Balancing On Brink Of Collapse (TASS)
Putin Visits to UAE, Saudi Arabia Prompted by Global Dynamics of Gaza War (Sp.)
Russia Will Attack NATO – Biden (RT)
US Is Withholding Aid To Push Ukraine Towards Negotiations With Russia (MoA)
Is Ukraine Aid ‘Dead’? (Sp.)
Yellen Says Ukraine’s Defeat Would Be Fault of the US (Sp.)
US Aid To Ukraine Laundered Back To Military-Industrial Complex – Massie (RT)
Ukraine Won’t Get Operational Pause in Winter – Scott Ritter (Sp.)
Ramaswamy in GOP Presidential Debate Says Ukraine Conflict ‘Pointless’ (Sp.)
Hunter Biden Threatened With Contempt Of Congress If He Bails On Testimony
US State Dept Sued For Conspiring To Censor American Media Companies (ZH)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNDER THE CLOUDS OF WAR, IT IS HUMANITY HANGING ON THE CROSS OF IRON

 

 

Nap/Ritter

 

 

 

 

Ireland

 

 

Escobar

 

 

 

 

First thing they did was try to undo everything Trump did.

“..by the end of his ninth day at the White House, Biden had signed 40 executive orders, actions, and presidential memorandum – an all-time record..”

Amid Fear of Trump ‘Dictatorship’, Some See Assassination (Robert Bridge)

As polls show Donald Trump has taken a broad lead over U.S. President Joe Biden in five battleground states, the Liberal media has shifted into full-panic mode, while making some not-so-subtle calls for the Orange Man’s ‘elimination.’ Whether real or imagined, Washington, D.C. appears to be heading for its own ‘Caesarian moment’ as the mainstream media is talking up the prospects of a dictatorship descending upon the fair land should a Trump restoration come to pass. “Are you afraid of a Donald Trump dictatorship,” asked Greg Sargent in an opinion piece in The Washington Post. “Well, know this: The only thing you have to fear is fear of Tyrannus Trumpus itself.”

Brace yourself, dear reader, for the remainder of the hit piece is littered with no less preposterous forms of government rule to describe Donald Trump, without ever providing an iota of proof to support the claims: “authoritarian rule,” “full-blown autocracy,” Trumpian tyranny,” “dictatorial intentions,” “despotism,” “threat to democracy,” “antidemocratic menace,” violent coup.” and “autocratic threat.” It’s just a little ironic that for all the Liberal handwringing over the possibility of The Donald seizing “autocratic powers” come November, there was no such consternation when Joe Biden behaved worse than any Caligula just hours after being elected in 2020.

The septuagenarian leader, alone at his desk and donning a black mask, signed off on dozens of executive orders that served as a death sentence for: a viable U.S.-Mexico border wall; the $9 billion, 1,200-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada that would have made America energy independent; biological males from using the female bathrooms and changing rooms, and a raft of other issues that were resolved without an ounce of congressional debate. Incredibly, by the end of his ninth day at the White House, Biden had signed 40 executive orders, actions, and presidential memorandum – an all-time record. Despite all of this, Biden is now acting like he is the Maginot Line against the possibility of all-out tyranny/ authoritarianism/ dictatorship/ autocracy, take your pick.

“If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running. But we cannot let him win,” the 81-year-old Democrat told a fundraiser event in Massachusetts. In a cloud of self-righteousness and grand delusion, the Liberals sincerely believe that Trump is about to enjoy, in the words of Robert Kagan, the premier neocon who co-wrote the infamous tract Project for a New American Century, “a clear path to dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day.” Unfortunately, Kagan didn’t think to apply the brakes there, but went on to provide an apocalyptic-sounding fender-bender that many people took as the latest call to ‘take out’ Trump, the upcoming “president for life.”

“Are we going to do anything about it? To shift metaphors, if we thought there was a 50 percent chance of an asteroid crashing into North America a year from now, would we be content to hope that it wouldn’t? Or would we be taking every conceivable measure to try to stop it, including many things that might not work but that, given the magnitude of the crisis, must be tried anyway?” [..] Maybe Trump, should he be re-elected, will focus his attention on media harassment. In the meantime, however, he seems to be having fun trolling his opponents. Trump mocked questions about ‘dictatorial rule’ this week, saying he would be a dictator only on “day one,” and then he’s going to shut down the border and get to drilling for oil. “After that, I’m not a dictator, OK?” It’s tempting to ask how the ancient Romans would have responded to such a deal.

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“..Washington “is the worst possible place for any Jan. 6 defendant, but especially Donald Trump, to have a trial.”

The ‘Jan. 6 Jurisprudence’ About to Be Unleashed on Trump (Julie Kelly)

Defense attorneys have coined the term “January 6 Jurisprudence” to describe the treatment received by the more than 1,200 defendants arrested so far in connection with the events of Jan. 6, 2021. This carve-out legal system involves the unprecedented and possibly unlawful use of a corporate evidence-tampering statute; excessive prison sentences and indefinite periods of pretrial incarceration; and the designation of nonviolent offenses as federal crimes of terrorism. A universal feature is the requirement that a Jan. 6 defendant, usually a supporter of Donald Trump, face trial in Washington, D.C., a city overwhelmingly populated by Democrats. Federal judges have denied every change of venue motion filed in Jan. 6 cases, arguing those who protested at the Capitol can get a fair trial in the nation’s capital. The results so far appear to contradict the court’s collective conclusion.

Court records show the jury selection process has repeatedly revealed a strong degree of bias against anyone tied to Jan. 6. At least 130 defendants have been convicted at trial – not one has been acquitted by a jury – and hundreds have been sentenced to prison time ranging from seven days to 22 years. Defense lawyers say this track record helps explain why the vast majority of defendants have opted for a plea deal rather than go to trial. This is the same environment that now awaits the former president as he prepares to stand trial in Washington on March 4, 2024 for election interference, in addition to an array of criminal and civil cases against him elsewhere. While Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team and Trump’s counsel spar over a number of issues, perhaps the biggest dispute will concern whether it will be possible to seat an impartial jury for the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee in a city that voted 92% for Joe Biden in 2020.

After Smith indicted Trump in August, a Jan. 6 defense attorney who is not representing the former president, J. Daniel Hull, told the New York Times that Washington “is the worst possible place for any Jan. 6 defendant, but especially Donald Trump, to have a trial.” U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan recently set a jury selection schedule for Smith’s four-count indictment against Trump for the events of Jan. 6. She ordered both parties to begin developing a questionnaire, due Jan. 9, 2024, that hundreds of D.C. residents will be asked to complete so the court can begin the initial step of weeding out unqualified jurors. Stakes are high for both sides. Trump’s lawyers must navigate constraints on how many jurors can be stricken from consideration to ensure their client gets a fair trial. The Department of Justice must convince the American people that a case brought by a Democratic administration and handled by a Democratic-appointed judge with a record of inflammatory statements about the former president will be heard by unbiased jurors.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees, among other rights, “the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.” In extreme cases, criminal defendants can petition to move their trial out of the prosecuting jurisdiction for a number of reasons, not the least of which is sustained, negative press coverage that taints the jury pool. Trump’s lawyers are not discussing their strategy publicly, but sources have indicated to RealClearInvestigations that the defense will file a change of venue motion in the next month or two. Given the partisan composition of Washington, saturation coverage of the former president’s ongoing legal woes, and the city’s relatively small population, Trump will have a strong argument in favor of moving the trial outside of the nation’s capital. Yet a review of Jan. 6 cases to date suggests the odds are against that. Not a single judge on the D.C. District Court has granted a change of venue motion even for high-profile trials such as those for members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, the so-called “militia” groups involved in the Capitol protest

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“War, the Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz famously noted, is politics by other means. Hamas has proven the maxim to its fullest extent, accomplishing politically that which could only be initiated by Israel’s criminal use of force against the Palestinian people.”

Israel Headed for Strategic Defeat in Gaza (Scott Ritter)

The attack carried out by Hamas on October 7 against Israeli military positions and settlements which, collectively, formed what is known as the “Gaza barrier system”, triggered a massive Israeli military response. There are two aspects of this cause-and-effect relationship that stand out. First, and perhaps most importantly, it was the goal and objective of Hamas to have Israel respond impulsively. Hamas did not have to think out of the box, so to speak, to imagine such a reaction—since 2006, it has been established and well-known Israeli policy to conduct military campaign based upon the premise of collective punishment of a civilian population. Moreover, given the Israeli predilection for revenge that dates to the massacre of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich summer Olympics, a massive military incursion into Gaza to hold to account those responsible for the October 7 attacks was likewise as predictable as snow falling in Siberia in the wintertime.

Second, and less predictable than the first, was the poor performance of the Israeli security establishment, including the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Israeli intelligence. Not only did the Israeli security forces fail to act on what appears to have been ample evidence pointing to a Hamas attack along the lines of that executed on October 7, but once the Hamas attack began, the failure of the IDF to defend against the attack, and the plodding, indiscriminate nature of the Israeli counterattack, which appears to have inflicted significant casualties on Israeli civilians that the Israeli authorities have attributed to the Hamas attackers, seriously eroded the notion of the invincibility and infallibility of the Israeli military and security establishment. But this was only the beginning of what would amount to a strategic Israeli defeat at the hands of Hamas. The Israelis proceeded to mobilize some 300,000 reservists, most of whom were sent to the Gaza front.

While these forces were assembled, the Israeli Air Force began a bombing campaign against the civilian infrastructure of Gaza, including hospitals, mosques, schools, and refugee camps, which shocked the world in terms of its lethality. By ignoring the fundamental precepts of international humanitarian law, Israel allowed itself to be characterized as a practitioner of genocide, and its actions against Gaza as war crimes. This is the core of the Hamas victory—the political defeat of Israel on the global stage, where international sympathies rapidly aligned with the people of Gaza and Palestine, and away from Israel. War, the Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz famously noted, is politics by other means. Hamas has proven the maxim to its fullest extent, accomplishing politically that which could only be initiated by Israel’s criminal use of force against the Palestinian people.

But even as international pressure began to accumulate for Israel to halt its offensive, Hamas was able to achieve what many outside observers had believed to be unthinkable—it fought the IDF to a standstill in Gaza itself, inflicting significant human and material losses on the IDF. After declaring that Israel would never agree to a ceasefire or an exchange of prisoners with Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suddenly caved into international pressure to sign up for what became a six-day “pause” where humanitarian goods were delivered to the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel were exchanged for hostages seized by Hamas on October 7.

One of the major reasons for this decision lay not in the extreme pressure being put on Israel by the United States and its European allies for such an outcome, but the fact that the IDF was suffering serious losses on the battlefield in Gaza and along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah was engaged in military operations in support of Hamas. The casualties among Israeli main battle tanks were unsustainable, and the morale of the IDF soldiers was collapsing—indeed, Israel had to courts-martial two IDF officers who withdrew their battalion from the Gaza battlefield under pressure from Hamas.

Ritter

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“This coalition is breaking apart. Don’t think that they are strong, they will quit [politics]. We already said 50 to 60 days ago that Netanyahu is going away..”

Erdogan Sees Netanyahu Balancing On Brink Of Collapse (TASS)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is balancing on the verge of collapse, something that he may indicate any time soon, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. “Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu is on the brink of collapse or bankruptcy right now. And he may make such an announcement at any moment,” the state-run Anadolu agency quoted the Turkish president as saying upon returning from Qatar. “And then there is the West which connives with the wrongdoings of both Netanyahu and his administration. Fortunately, the West has largely reconsidered its view of Israel since October 7,” Erdogan told Turkish journalists.

Erdogan described the ruling coalition in Israel as unhealthy. “This coalition is breaking apart. Don’t think that they are strong, they will quit [politics]. We already said 50 to 60 days ago that Netanyahu is going away,” the Turkish leader said. “Now, certain people emerge who are telling Israel: ‘We are tired of feeding you’,” he maintained. “Look at France that in the early days was making statements of support [for Israel]. Now French President [Emmanuel] Macron is making completely different statements,” the Turkish president said. “Many other Western countries, too, are no longer making the statements of the kind they were making in the first days [of the conflict],” Erdogan noted as he urged patience before the world revisits its attitude toward Israel’s actions.

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“For the Gulf States, relations with Russia are seen as an essential leverage in adapting to their changing relationship with the US..”

Putin Visits to UAE, Saudi Arabia Prompted by Global Dynamics of Gaza War (Sp.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday to meet with UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and discuss bilateral, regional, and international affairs. As part of his brief Middle East tour, the Russian leader is also visiting Saudi Arabia, while later hosting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow. Vladimir Putin’s visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia could be used by the Arab countries “as a signal, perhaps to the West,” to show that “we have other options and we’re not really happy with your policy towards Gaza,” Abdulaziz Algashian, a Saudi political analyst, told Sputnik. The Russian President’s trip to the Middle East comes amid turbulent developments in the region, with the Russian leader acutely aware of the “international dynamics of the Gaza war,” pointed out Algashian. He added that the Arab countries might seek to “leverage this visit and relations with Russia” relative to the Palestinian issue.

“For the Gulf States, relations with Russia are seen as an essential leverage in adapting to their changing relationship with the US,” agreed Sami Hamdi, Saudi political analyst and head of the International Interest, a risk analysis group. “There are concerns in the Gulf capitals that the US is no longer committed to their security or their interests, and there is therefore a belief that relations with Russia are essential in order to both advance their interests by pursuing alternative alliance structures and simultaneously strongarm Washington into upholding its commitment to them,” he pointed out. Looking ahead, “the extent of future cooperation with Russia as it stands remains dependent on the nature of the US-Gulf relationship. Although Gulf States will preserve their ties, the eagerness to expand those ties will correlate and fluctuate in accordance with the nature of their relationship with the US,” the Saudi political analyst speculated.

On a broader scale, there are a wide swathe of reasons for why Vladimir Putin chose this moment to embark upon his first foray to the region since 2019, underscored Algashian, a research fellow with SEPAD international research network and collaborative project based at Lancaster University’s Richardson Institute. These range from the Middle East’s resentment over the West’s stance on Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza to a need for further “entrenching” of economic relations, the pundit stressed.

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“Washington’s speculations about a potential stand-off show that “[US] authorities have finally lost touch with reality..”

Russia Will Attack NATO – Biden (RT)

If Russia prevails in the Ukraine conflict, it may find itself in a position to launch an attack on NATO that could trigger a global conflict involving American troops, US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday, when he urged Congress to pass a $111 billion national security package. The bill, which was backed by Democrats, included aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. He also lashed out at Republicans – who have been reluctant to support the measure due to disputes over security at the southern US border, saying that by doing so, they “are willing to give [Russian President Vladimir] Putin the greatest gift he could hope for.” “If Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there,” Biden argued. “If Putin attacks a NATO ally…, well, we’ve committed as a NATO member that we’d defend every inch of NATO territory,” he stated, adding that Washington would like to avert this kind of a stand-off because it could result in “American troops fighting Russian troops.”

However, Republicans remained unconvinced, blocking the spending package in the Senate, with the final vote being 49 in favor and 51 against. The measure was opposed by all GOP lawmakers, as well as independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who normally votes with Democrats, but this time expressed concerns about Israel’s military strategy in the conflict with Hamas. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also voted “no” in order to have a chance to reintroduce the package later. Moscow’s ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov, commenting on Biden’s remarks about a potential clash between Russia and NATO, suggested that “such bogeyman stories are fabricated in order to justify to taxpayers and sober-minded political forces the huge expenses for ‘containing’ the Russian Federation.” Washington’s speculations about a potential stand-off show that “[US] authorities have finally lost touch with reality,” he added. “This kind of provocative rhetoric is unacceptable for a responsible nuclear state.”

Biden

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“..the Republicans as well as the Democrats, likely in consent with the White House, have so far blocked all further aid.”

US Is Withholding Aid To Push Ukraine Towards Negotiations With Russia (MoA)

It would have been easy for the Democrats to commit a few billions for border security. But Biden wants to end the war in Ukraine. Starving it of money is the easiest way to push it towards negotiations. All this was planned by the Pentagon think tank RAND which, early this year, published a study about how to end the war in Ukraine: “Avoiding a Long War – U.S. Policy and the Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict” (A 2019 study by RAND, Extending Russia – Competing from Advantageous Ground, had recommended to openly arm Ukraine to keep Russia busy. It has been the basis of U.S. Ukraine policy ever since.)

But in early 2023 RAND had turned a corner and argued that a prolonged war in Ukraine will be too costly for the U.S. to sustain: “The biggest Ukraine problem the White House currently has is President Vladimir Zelenski who has rejected any and all negotiations with Russia.” The RAND study had foreseen such a situation and had found ways to push Ukraine towards talks with Russia: “[T]he United States could decide to condition future military aid on a Ukrainian commitment to negotiations. Setting conditions on aid to Ukraine would address a primary source of Kyiv’s optimism that may be prolonging the war: a belief that Western aid will continue indefinitely or grow in quality and quantity. At the same time, the United States could also promise more aid for the postwar period to address Ukraine’s fears about the durability of peace. Washington has done so in other cases, …”

Linking aid to Ukrainian willingness to negotiate has been anathema in Western policy discussions and for good reason: Ukraine is defending itself against unprovoked Russian aggression. However, the U.S. calculus may change as the costs and risks of the war mount. And the use of this U.S. lever can be calibrated. For example, the United States could level off aid, not dramatically reduce it, if Ukraine does not negotiate. And, again, a decision to level off wartime support pending negotiations can be made in tandem with promises about postwar sustained increases in assistance over the long term. That was a nice plan. But how well the aid lever can be calibrated depends of course on Congress, not on the president’s say so.

There are also downsides to withholding or giving aid promises: “Clarifying the future of U.S. aid to Ukraine could create perverse incentives depending on how the policy is implemented. Committing to increased wartime assistance to Ukraine to reduce Russian optimism could embolden the Ukrainians to obstruct negotiations, blame failure on Moscow, and gain more Western support. Announcing a decrease or leveling off in assistance to Ukraine to reduce Kyiv’s optimism about the war could lead Russia to see the move as a signal of waning U.S. support for Ukraine. If it took this view, Russia might keep fighting in the hope that the United States would give up on Ukraine entirely. Although recognizing that Ukraine is fighting a defensive war for survival and Russia an aggressive war of aggrandizement, the United States would nonetheless have to carefully and dispassionately monitor events and target its efforts to create the intended effect on whichever side’s optimism is determined to be the key impediment to starting talks.

This would probably have been a good way to go if Biden had control over dispensing or withholding funds to Kiev. But the Republicans as well as the Democrats, likely in consent with the White House, have so far blocked all further aid. Their current path then seems to be a different one towards negotiations with Russia – regime change in Kiev. President Zelenski is unwilling to take up peace talks. If he can be pushed out of office during the next few months his likely replacement, General Zaluzny, will probably be more inclined to seek an end of the war. Thus the current tactic is to pressure Zelenski into leaving by withholding all future funds. If another Ukrainian leader comes in, aid might again flow to prevent a total takeover of the country by Russia. Still – the aid calibration would be a problem. So maybe giving up and leave, as Biden did in Afghanistan, might be the preferred option.

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“We remember the old quotes about the money being carted around in Iraq on palettes and not even weighed or metered… I think that that’s what’s happening again in Ukraine.”

Is Ukraine Aid ‘Dead’? (Sp.)

Investigative journalist Christopher Helali joined Sputnik’s Political Misfits program Wednesday to discuss the growing opposition within the United States towards continued funding for Ukraine’s proxy conflict against Russia. The reported size of the latest proposed foreign aid package – some $110.5 billion – provoked incredulity from host John Kiriakou. “What has the United States not given Ukraine that would have such an enormous price tag?” asked Kirkiakou. Helali said that the “aid package is not only military assistance but also funding for rebuilding, for infrastructure… it’s funding for Ukraine, it’s funding for Israel, it’s also… a very small amount for the Palestinians.”
However Helali clarified that “Ukraine is at the forefront,” noting that the lion’s share of funding in the bill was earmarked for the Kiev regime.

“This is funding for rearmament, for new weapons systems, and things like that,” the analyst stressed. Rampant corruption in Ukraine has repeatedly stymied aspirations to join the European Union and other international bodies. Some Western politicians also point out the very high level of corruption in Ukraine. The business dealings of Hunter Biden in Ukraine, the son of US President Joe Biden, have also come under harsh criticism. President Biden has claimed he had no involvement in his son’s business ventures. “But of course there’s no real oversight,” added Helali, “there’s been a lot of reporting – I’m sure you’ve all been seeing it – about the rampant corruption, some officials have been buying yachts and houses and all sorts of fine luxury items. I think it’s going to be held up because there’s a lot of questions around this amount of money.”

Helali noted the large amounts of money that have gone unaccounted for in previous US-backed military operations, saying, “We remember the old quotes about the money being carted around in Iraq on palettes and not even weighed or metered… I think that that’s what’s happening again in Ukraine.” Funding for Ukraine did in fact fail in the US Senate on Wednesday when the legislative body refused to advance a supplemental foreign aid bill. Republican legislators, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Mike Johnson, have used the opportunity to call for increased funding for US border security to secure GOP support.

Helali said that increased border funding is a nonstarter for segments of the Democratic Party base, claiming they see US border policy as an ““instrument of oppression” and a “remnant of colonialism and US empire.” The journalist nevertheless believes the Biden administration will be forced to compromise on the issue, claiming, “I think eventually Democrats will have to cave because they need this funding.”

Read more …

Meet the new war expert.

Yellen Says Ukraine’s Defeat Would Be Fault of the US (Sp.)

US lawmakers are debating a $111 billion supplemental spending package, of which $61 billion would be included for Ukraine. The spending package would also include funding for Israel, Taiwan, and US border security. During a trip to Mexico City on Tuesday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US would be responsible for Ukraine’s defeat should Congress fail to approve US President Joe Biden’s latest supplemental spending package, according to media reports. “I’ve talked to members of Congress, my colleagues have. I think they understand this, that this is a dire situation and we can hold ourselves responsible for Ukraine’s defeat if we don’t manage to get this funding to Ukraine that’s needed, and I’m including direct budget support here because that’s utterly essential,” Yellen told the media.

At the US Institute of Peace this week, Andrey Yermak, President Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff, said not receiving this most recent spending package from the US exposes Ukraine to a “big risk” in losing its war. The package would include $61 billion to Ukraine, which is nearly as much as the US has already spent on helping to weaponize the country. The US government has spent more than $75 billion on Ukraine thus far, a figure that does not include all war-related spending which is estimated to be about $113 billion. “Ukraine is just running out of money,” Yellen said. “They’re spending more than every penny they’re taking in, in tax revenue, on military salaries and defense, and they wouldn’t have any schools or hospital or first responders if not for the money we’re sending to them to support them,” added the US Treasury Secretary.

[..] US House Speaker Mike Johnson said Republican support for the Biden Administration latest supplemental spending package will have to include permanent changes to the US border policy. Before any further spending, wrote Johnson, funding is first dependent upon “enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws”. “Second,” Johnson wrote in a letter to Young, “Congress and the American people must be provided with answers to our repeated questions concerning: the Administration’s strategy to prevail in Ukraine; clearly defined and obtainable objectives; transparency and accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars invested there; and what specific resources are required to achieve victory and a sustainable peace.”

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“But no one mentions that we have abetted the killing of an entire generation of Ukrainian men that will not be replaced. To fight a war that they cannot win..”

US Aid To Ukraine Laundered Back To Military-Industrial Complex – Massie (RT)

The US Congress is continuing to vote in favor of sending billions of dollars to Ukraine because a lot of those funds end up being laundered back to the US military-industrial complex, Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie has said. In an interview with Tucker Carlson on X (formerly Twitter) published on Wednesday, the politician was asked to explain why Washington continued to push for more funding for Ukraine despite it becoming obvious that Kiev’s forces “cannot win.” Massie, who has repeatedly voted against sending money to fund Kiev’s operations, alleged that a lot of the funds that are sent to Ukraine ultimately end up “enriching” people within specific US districts and “stockholders, some of whom are congressmen.”

“You know, people are getting rich, so let’s do it. It’s an immoral argument, but it is one. But that’s not the argument they’re making in public,” he said, noting that those supporting the funding of Ukraine with US tax dollars are instead arguing that it is a “moral obligation” to do so. “You’re a bad person if you’re against this,” he complained, referring to a statement recently made by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who suggested that failing to support “the fight for freedom in Ukraine” meant letting Russian President Vladimir Putin “prevail.” “But no one mentions that we have abetted the killing of an entire generation of Ukrainian men that will not be replaced. To fight a war that they cannot win,” Massie noted.

The congressman surmised that, in order to support the US government’s proposals on Ukraine aid, a person has to be “economically illiterate and morally deficient.” Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has hit out against Republicans like Massie, who have refused to aid packages to Ukraine, calling the failure to support Kiev “absolutely crazy” and “against US interests.” The US leader has repeatedly pledged that Washington would support Kiev for “as long as it takes” in its conflict with Russia.

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“..The goal and objective of Russia is demilitarization. Demilitarization could have been done peacefully. Right now it’s being done violently. And it means the absolute destruction of the Ukrainian military. And that is going to happen this winter. It will be destroyed in its totality.”

Ukraine Won’t Get Operational Pause in Winter – Scott Ritter (Sp.)

It was expected that Zelensky would inform American congressmen about the latest developments on the ground in Ukraine and urge them to disburse over $60 billion for Ukraine.On the same day, the upper chamber failed to vote on a Ukraine aid bill because Democrats threw out GOP border reforms from it. In response, Republicans made it clear that they will not support any further assistance to Kiev unless border measures are included in the legislation. Meanwhile, the current Ukraine military package has almost been exhausted. There are also rumors in the Western press that NATO allies want Zelensky either to hold the talks or to freeze the conflict along the line of contact. Will the Kiev regime be forced to take a pause during the winter season?

“Well, what we won’t see is a pause,” Scott Ritter, former Marine intelligence officer and UN weapons inspector, told Sputnik. “I mean, the Ukrainians and even the collective West, they’re throwing terms out there like: ‘You know, it’s a frozen conflict. We fought them to a standstill.’ No, it’s not a frozen conflict and they haven’t fought the Russians to a standstill. Last winter, you know, the Ukrainians had their victory in Kharkov and Kherson. The Russians were consolidating their defenses, they had mobilized 300,000 men, and they were building the defenses. And so there was a pause that allowed [Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Gen. Valery] Zaluzhny to plan an operation. They had the luxury of time to build the nine, I think they actually built 12 brigades, equipped them, prepared them for this counteroffensive, etc.”

“Right now, we have a situation where the Russians are ready. Those 300,000 are fully trained. The majority of them have not been committed to the battlefield. In addition to that, over 450,000 volunteers and contract soldiers were absorbed. The Russians are at full strength with all the equipment, all the wherewithal. There will be no operational pause. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, have nothing to replace what’s happening. They’re now literally grabbing teenagers and pregnant women and putting them on the battlefield to fill the holes in the lines. There’s nothing coming behind, and the West is out of money. There’s no equipment. The Russians are not going to hit the pause button to give Ukraine a chance to catch their breath. The entire purpose of the Russian approach has been to grind the Ukrainians down to the point of exhaustion. And now we’re there.” [..] nobody is going to give Ukraine a pause, according to Ritter. While Moscow has repeatedly made it clear that it is open to constructive peace negotiations, the absence of Kiev’s initiative would mean the prolongation of the conflict, the former Marine officer believes.

“We’re going to see increasingly the elimination of cohesion on the battlefield as Ukrainians will retreat, as holes will be punched in the line. The Ukrainians are, I believe, in a very short period of time, going to be compelled to make a precipitous retreat back to more defensive positions. And that in itself is a very difficult military maneuver, one which Russia could exploit. You know, if they’re prepared to push them back even further, but this winter will be a winter of continued death and destruction for the Ukrainians. And the Russians will continue to put the pedal to the metal and keep putting the pressure on the Ukrainians. The goal and objective of Russia is demilitarization. Demilitarization could have been done peacefully. Right now it’s being done violently. And it means the absolute destruction of the Ukrainian military. And that is going to happen this winter. It will be destroyed in its totality.”

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Nikki=Corrupt

Ramaswamy in GOP Presidential Debate Says Ukraine Conflict ‘Pointless’ (Sp.)

US entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy during the fourth Republican primary presidential debate said the Ukraine conflict is pointless and slammed former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for not backing efforts to reach a peace deal. “I was the first person to say we need a reasonable peace deal in Ukraine. Now a lot of the neocons are quietly coming along to that position, with the exceptions of Nikki Haley and [President] Joe Biden, who still support what I believe is a pointless war in Ukraine,” Ramaswamy said on Tuesday during the debate in Alabama. Ramaswamy and Haley were joined on stage by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in what some expect to be the final debate of the 2024 primary. Haley maintains 9% support in the Republican Party primary, trailing former US President Donald Trump’s 64% support and DeSantis’ 16% support, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released in November.

Vivek Nikki
https://twitter.com/i/status/1732592114603794574

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“Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else..”

Hunter Biden Threatened With Contempt Of Congress If He Bails On Testimony

Hunter Biden will be slapped with contempt of congress if he skips out on his Dec. 13 closed-door deposition, according to a Wednesday letter from House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan to Hunter’s defense attorney, Abbe D. Lowell. “Contrary to the assertions in your letter, there is no ‘choice’ for Mr. Biden to make; the subpoenas compel him to appear for a deposition on December 13. If Mr. Biden does not appear for his deposition on December 13, 2023, the Committees will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings,” reads the letter, issued a week after Lowell suggested that Hunter should instead be allowed to testify publicly.

Hunter was subpoenaed on Nov. 8 to appear for a deposition before the committee. In response, Comer said: “Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else,” adding “Our lawfully issued subpoena to Hunter Biden requires him to appear for a deposition on December 13.” Comer and Jordan are investigating extensive evidence that the Biden family was running an international influence peddling scheme, raking in tens of millions of dollars from foreign business partners despite no obvious product or service in exchange. House lawmakers are also seeking testimony from Hunter’s uncle James Biden, as well as multiple former business associates.

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“”The State Department is tasked with foreign relations and has no authority over domestic affairs..”

US State Dept Sued For Conspiring To Censor American Media Companies (ZH)

Following bombshell censorship revelations exposed over the last year, beginning with the Twitter Files, the state of Texas, The Daily Wire, and The Federalist have filed a lawsuit against the US State Department on Tuesday, alleging that the government agency funded censorship technology designed to bankrupt domestic media outlets which have disfavored political opinions. According to the Daily Wire’s Luke Rosiak; “The State Department is tasked with foreign relations and has no authority over domestic affairs, yet it took a government office designed for countering foreign terrorist propaganda, the Global Engagement Center (GEC), and unleashed it against Americans engaged in what it claimed was “disinformation,” according to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas on Tuesday night by the New Civil Liberties Alliance. It was “one of the most audacious, manipulative, secretive, and gravest abuses of power and infringements of First Amendment rights by the federal government in American history,” said the suit, which also names Secretary of State Antony Blinken and five other officials as defendants.”

Of note, the GEC, founded in 2011 under a different name to combat foreign propaganda in a counterterrorism capacity. In establishing the entity, Congress made clear that “none of the funds authorized” for the program “shall be used for purposes other than countering foreign propaganda.” They of course ignored all that, and turned its focus on Americans according to the complaint, using taxpayer funds to finance and promote censorship shops such as NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), which target conservative outlets – ZeroHege included – with the stated goal of killing ad revenue. “Through its Global Engagement Center, the State Department actively intervened in the news-media market to limit the reach and business viability of domestic news organizations by funding censorship technology and private censorship enterprises,” reads a Wednesday press release from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “The State Department’s mission to obliterate the First Amendment is completely un-American. This agency will not get away with their illegal campaign to silence citizens and publications they disagree with.”

As the lawsuit explains, The Daily Wire, The Federalist, and other conservative news organizations were “branded ‘unreliable’ or ‘risky’ by the government-funded and government-promoted censorship enterprises… starving them of advertising revenue and reducing the circulation of their reporting and speech—all as a direct result of [the State Department’s] unlawful censorship scheme.” The outlets are being represented by The New Civil Liberties Alliance’s Mark Chenoweth, who said that “the federal government cannot do indirectly what the First Amendment forbids it from doing directly.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Piers Corbyn

 

 

Robert Frost

 

 

Cat paws

 

 

 

 

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Aug 312023
 
 August 31, 2023  Posted by at 9:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  45 Responses »


Pablo Picasso The Dream 1932

 

US Headed For ‘Hot War’ With Russia – Tucker Carlson (RT)
Biden Looks to Prevent Future President From Ending Ukraine War (Antiwar)
Trump Vows To Lock Up Political Enemies If He Returns To White House (G.)
Ukraine’s Fate Sealed Long Before Failing Counteroffensive (Scott Ritter)
Ukraine To Review All Draft Exemptions – Zelensky (RT)
French Troops Reportedly Given Until September 3 to Withdraw From Niger (Sp.)
Coup In Gabon, Situation In West Africa A Big Issue For Europe – Borrell (RT)
EU Imports Of Russian LNG Leap By 40% Since Ukraine Invasion (G.)
Expanded BRICS Set to De-Dollarize the World, Control Global Energy Supply (ET)
What if Biden Backs Out of the Race? (RCW)
Majority of Voters Are Skeptical of Possible Biden Impeachment (Manley)
Hunter Biden Helped Plan State Dinners During Dad’s VP Days (Sp.)

 

 

 

 

One thing you can not do today is not watch the Tucker Carlson interview. I picked some snippets AND the full interview.

“They can’t lose. They will do anything to win. So how do they do that? They’re not going to do COVID again…They’re going to go to war with Russia is what they’re going to do. There will be a hot war between the United States and Russia within the next year…They need to declare war footing in order to assume war powers in order to win. I believe that and I think all the evidence suggests that’s true.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full interview:

 

 

 

 

Rogan Anthony

 

 

Yeadon

 

 

 

 

“..the American empire is in freefall right now – and we’re going to lose the US dollar, and when that happens we’re going to have real poverty here, like Great Depression-level poverty.

And it comes from this war..”

US Headed For ‘Hot War’ With Russia – Tucker Carlson (RT)

The US proxy war against Russia is likely to become an open war within the next year, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on Wednesday. The ruling Democrats need the war to keep power and too many Republicans are willing to go along, he added. “They will do anything to win,” Carlson said in an hour-long interview with radio host Adam Carrolla. He argued that another coronavirus lockdown is unlikely, as too many people would refuse to comply, so “they’re going to go to war with Russia, that’s what they’re going to do.” “There will be a hot war between the US and Russia in the next year,” Carlson said. “I don’t think we’ll win it.” “We’re already at war with Russia, of course, we’re funding their enemies,” he added.

The US has allocated over $130 billion for Kiev over the past 18 months for weapons, military equipment, ammunition, and the salaries of government officials. “I think that could easily happen,” the former cable TV host continued. “I think we could ‘Tonkin Gulf’ our way into it, where all of a sudden missiles land in Poland, ‘The Russians did it! Our NATO ally has been attacked! We’re going to war’! I can see that happening very easily.” In August 1964, the US fabricated an incident with the North Vietnamese navy in the Gulf of Tonkin as a pretext to deploy ground troops in South Vietnam. The scenario Carlson described already happened as well, when a Ukrainian air-defense missile struck a village across the Polish border last November, killing two local civilians.

Warsaw and Washington were quick to debunk Kiev’s claim that it had been a Russian strike, however. Carlson argued that the US could “force a peace in Ukraine tonight” by cutting off Kiev’s funding. “Otherwise, and I would bet my house on it, we are going to war with Russia,” he said. “And, of course, the stakes are everything. Life on the planet. These are the two biggest nuclear arsenals in the world, facing off against each other.” The US has “already lost control of the world – the American empire is in freefall right now – and we’re going to lose the US dollar, and when that happens we’re going to have real poverty here, like Great Depression-level poverty.

And it comes from this war,” Carlson told Carolla. He added that most Americans may not be able to see that, but it’s “super obvious” when one leaves the US, even for a short while. Moreover, he argued, the US “crushed” the German economy “when the Biden administration blew up Nord Stream” last September, and its Ukraine policies have done a lot to undermine Western Europe, Washington’s only real ally in the world. Carlson has just returned from Hungary, where he took part in a conference and interviewed Prime Minister Viktor Orban for his new show on X, formerly Twitter. Carlson made Elon Musk’s social media platform his new home after Fox News canceled his top-rated evening show in April, for reasons that have never been made public.

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The naked power of Raytheon.

Biden Looks to Prevent Future President From Ending Ukraine War (Antiwar)

The Biden administration is working to reach a deal with Ukraine for long-term military support to keep backing the war with Russia that would be difficult for a future president to exit, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The effort is part of a commitment made by G7 nations at the recent NATO summit in Vilnius to negotiate their own bilateral security deals with Ukraine. Besides the G7 nations, 18 other countries have agreed to provide long-term military support for Kyiv. The idea of the long-term commitment is to show Russia that it can’t wait out the Biden administration. The Journal report reads: “Western officials are looking for ways to lock in pledges of support and limit future governments’ abilities to backtrack, amid fears in European capitals that Donald Trump, if he recaptures the White House, would seek to scale back aid.” Trump, who escalated US involvement in Ukraine during his term by taking the step to provide Javelin missiles, has said he would end the Ukraine war within “24 hours” if elected in 2024.

The former president is the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The Journal report acknowledged that the Biden administration could not legally bind a future president from exiting a deal with Ukraine, but Republican hawks in Congress could make it difficult. During his time as president, Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, but the majority of Republicans in Congress supported exiting the agreement. A US official told the Journal that one proposal being considered for Ukraine would be a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which would not require congressional approval. President Biden has previously floated the idea of an “Israel model” for Ukraine. The US provides Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid each year under a 10-year MOU but does not provide mutual defense guarantees. The Journal report said that French officials have suggested military aid commitments for Ukraine should be over a four-year period.

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“Do you regret not locking [Clinton] up? And if you’re president again, will you lock people up?” Trump said: “The answer is you have no choice, because they’re doing it to us.”

Trump Vows To Lock Up Political Enemies If He Returns To White House (G.)

Donald Trump says he will lock up his political enemies if he is president again. In an interview on Tuesday, the rightwing broadcaster Glenn Beck raised Trump’s famous campaign-trail vow to “lock up” Hillary Clinton, his opponent in 2016, a promise Trump did not fulfill in office. Beck said: “Do you regret not locking [Clinton] up? And if you’re president again, will you lock people up?” Trump said: “The answer is you have no choice, because they’re doing it to us.” Trump has encouraged the “lock her up” chant against other opponents but he remains in considerable danger of being locked up himself. Under four indictments, he faces 91 criminal charges related to election subversion, retention of classified information and hush-money payments to a adult film star. He denies wrongdoing and claims to be the victim of political persecution. Trials are scheduled next year.

Earlier this month, Politico calculated that Trump faced a maximum of 641 years in jail. After the addition of 13 racketeering and conspiracy charges in Georgia, Forbes upped the total to more than 717 years. Trump is 77. Both sites noted, however, that if convicted, the former president was unlikely to receive maximum sentences. Nor would convictions bar Trump from running for president or being elected. On that score, Trump dominates national and key state polling regarding the Republican presidential nomination. In his Tuesday interview on BlazeTV, Trump also said he “never hit Biden as hard as I could have” while in office. Trump’s first impeachment concerned attempts to find dirt on rivals including Biden, related to politics and business in Ukraine. Now, in Congress, Trump’s Republican allies are threatening to impeach Biden over unsubstantiated allegations connected to his surviving son, Hunter.

Trump told Beck that Biden was behind the indictments against him. In fact, all were brought by prosecutors independent of the White House: 44 by the justice department special counsel Jack Smith, 34 by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, and 13 by Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton county, Georgia. Trump also claimed “the woman that I never met, that they accused me of rape, that’s being run by a Democrat, a Democrat operative, and paid for by the Democrat [sic] party”. That was a reference to civil claims brought by E Jean Carroll, a writer who says Trump sexually assaulted her in New York in the 1990s. Earlier this year, Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation and fined about $5m. A second trial is due next year.

The judge in the case has said Trump has been adjudicated a rapist. Also facing investigations of his business affairs, Trump said Democrats and other opponents were “sick people … evil people”. The twice impeached, four times indicted, 91 times charged ex-president also told Beck he “always had such great respect for the office of the president and the presidency”.

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“..the Ukrainian high command will be confronted with the reality that they will need to order a general retreat to more defensive positions..“

Ukraine’s Fate Sealed Long Before Failing Counteroffensive (Scott Ritter)

While Ukraine, with the support of its NATO allies, has accrued sufficient military capacity to engage in concerted military operations against Russia since the counteroffensive began in early June, the reality is that this effort is unsustainable. In short, Ukraine has reached the end of its tether. While the tactical situation along the line of contact with Russia fluctuates daily, and Ukraine has been able to achieve some limited success in certain areas, the cost that comes with these successes has been so high that Ukraine lacks not only the ability to exploit these successes, but is in danger of not being able to maintain a military presence along the entirety of the frontline sufficient to hold back any concerted Russian offensive operations.

The heavy casualties suffered by Ukraine, combined with the failure of the counteroffensive to breach even the first line of the prepared Russian defenses, have prompted the Ukrainian army to commit its strategic reserve into the fight. This reserve, consisting of some of the best trained and equipped forces available to the Ukrainians, was meant to exploit the advances made by the initial offensive operations. The fact that the strategic reserve has been committed to achieve objectives that all preceding attacking units had failed to accomplish only underscores the futility of the Ukrainian effort, and the inevitability of its ultimate defeat.

The collapse of Ukrainian military cohesion along the line of contact with Russia is occurring even as the last vestige of the Ukrainian counteroffensive bleeds itself white in the fields of Zaporozhye. Because of battlefield losses suffered by Ukraine in the months leading up to the initiation of the June counteroffensive (mainly, but not exclusively, in the Battle for Artemovsk), Ukrainian forces were stretched thin as units were reshuffled along the front to replace those that had been depleted in battle. As the counteroffensive floundered, military resources were withdrawn from other sectors of the front to make up for the losses.

This thinning of the Ukrainian lines provided opportunities for the Russian forces, leading to major advances in the vicinity of Kupyansk. As Ukrainian losses continue, this thinning will only become more prevalent, creating gaps in the Ukrainian defenses which can be exploited by a Russian military which has upwards of 200,000 well-trained, well-equipped reserves which have yet to be committed into the battle. This cause-effect relationship will continue, since Ukraine has no more reserves available to replace battlefield losses which will continue to accrue all along the line of contact. Eventually, the Ukrainian posture will be unsustainable, and the Ukrainian high command will be confronted with the reality that they will need to order a general retreat to more defensive positions—perhaps as far back as the right bank of the Dnepr River—or face the inevitability of the total destruction of their army.

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“Earlier this week, mobile operator Kievstar mentioned “400,000 heroes” who had “gone to eternity” in a charity drive, before quickly deleting the post.”

Ukraine To Review All Draft Exemptions – Zelensky (RT)

The National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine decided on Wednesday to review every single draft exemption issued since the start of the conflict with Russia, citing widespread corruption. “All cases where [exemption] decisions are clearly groundless and illegal should be dealt with by law enforcement,” President Vladimir Zelensky announced after the NSDC meeting. The council also decided to fully digitize the entire Armed Forces database and revise the criteria for determining fitness for military service, to prevent “manipulation”and give field commanders more opportunities to find appropriate roles for soldiers. NSDC head Aleksey Danilov said that Ukraine is rolling out a “newly approved” plan for further mobilization, calling up as many men as it may need to continue the fighting.

Zelensky sacked the heads of all enlistment offices in early August, after the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) announced the discovery of a “widespread conspiracy” to forge health exemptions by military-medical commissions in 11 regions of the country. The conspirators allegedly charged up to $6,000 for fraudulent papers, which draft-dodgers then used to leave the country. The government in Kiev has ordered several waves of conscription since the hostilities with Russia escalated in February 2022. In late June, recruitment centers in several regions stopped sending individual summons, issuing blanket notifications to all men of military age instead.

After Zelensky’s purge of enlistment commissioners, the Financial Times reported that some fraudulent exemptions could cost up to $10,000, and that almost 20,000 Ukrainians have been caught trying to dodge the draft, citing official government figures. The BBC spoke of a widespread social media movement to help the draft-dodgers, with groups with as many as 100,000 members offering tips, tricks and other assistance. Meanwhile, photos posted on social media in recent months have shown cemeteries across Ukraine rapidly filling up, due to the death toll of the grinding offensive against Russian strongholds in the south. Earlier this week, mobile operator Kievstar mentioned “400,000 heroes” who had “gone to eternity” in a charity drive, before quickly deleting the post.

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Only…They can’t fire at them and give France an excuse to invade..

French Troops Reportedly Given Until September 3 to Withdraw From Niger (Sp.)

Niger’s National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) has reportedly demanded the complete withdrawal of French troops from the West African country by September 3. Earlier in the day, Saudi media reported the CNSP had announced the annulment of all security and military agreements with France. By the end of the week, supporters of the pullout are going to stage an indefinite protest against the presence of the French military in Niger. Some residents have reportedly demanded that the authorities cut water and power supply to the French base, as well as halt food deliveries.

Last week, the Nigerien Foreign Ministry called on French Ambassador Sylvain Itte to leave the country within 48 hours. Paris said it took note of Niger’s request to the ambassador, but noted Niger’s military leadership has no authority to make such decisions. On July 26, Niger’s presidential guard ousted and detained President Mohamed Bazoum. The guard’s commander, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, proclaimed himself the president of the caretaker CNSP-led government. Most Western countries as well as ECOWAS condemned it. In early August, ECOWAS adopted a plan for a potential military intervention in Niger.

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“..how we can improve our policy in respect with these countries..”

Decades too late.

Coup In Gabon, Situation In West Africa A Big Issue For Europe – Borrell (RT)

European Union defense ministers will meet to discuss the situation in the Central African state of Gabon, after soldiers of the former French colony announced earlier that they had assumed control, the bloc’s foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday. “If this is confirmed, it is another military coup which increases instability in the whole region,” Borrell said, during a meeting of EU defense ministers in the Spanish city of Toledo reported-on by Reuters. A group of Gabonese soldiers appeared on national television in the early hours of Wednesday, saying they had dissolved state institutions and canceled the results of the country’s disputed elections.

The move came after Gabon’s longtime leader, Ali Bongo, was declared the winner of last week’s presidential election, giving him the green light to govern for a third term. The soldiers denounced the “irresponsible, unpredictable governance” of Bongo, claiming his 14 years in office had resulted in a “deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos.” The coup in Gabon is the latest in a series of military takeovers in Africa in recent years, coming just weeks after soldiers seized power in Niger. The new military rulers in Niger, another former French colony, have refused to release ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and restore democratic rule, despite pressure from the 15-nation West African Regional bloc, ECOWAS.

The regional authority has activated a standby force for a military intervention backed by France, which it has threatened to use against the coup leaders in Niamey if diplomatic efforts fail. Mali and Burkina Faso, both military-ruled countries, have warned against armed action directed at their counterparts in Niger. While expressing concern about the situation in Gabon, which has a population of nearly 2.5 million, Borrell stated that coups in other parts of the continent are “a big issue for Europe.” “The whole area, starting with Central African Republic, then Mali, then Burkina Faso, now Niger, maybe Gabon, it’s in a very difficult situation and certainly the [EU] ministers… have to have a deep thought on what is going on there and how we can improve our policy in respect with these countries,” he said.

Read more …

Ha! Ha! Sanctions.

EU Imports Of Russian LNG Leap By 40% Since Ukraine Invasion (G.)

EU imports of Russian liquified natural gas (LNG) have increased by 40% since the invasion of Ukraine despite efforts to cut down supplies. Member states have bought more than half of Russia’s LNG on the market in the first seven months of this year, according to analysis of data by Kpler, which tracks marine and tanker traffic. Spain and Belgium, which acts as major gateways for LNG supplies to the bloc, have emerged as the second and third-biggest customers of Russian LNG respectively after China. “EU countries now buy the majority of Russia’s supply, propping up one of the Kremlin’s most important sources of revenue,” said Jonathan Noronha-Gant, a senior fossil fuel campaigner at the anti-corruption group Global Witness, which did the analysis.

Europe’s pipeline gas flows from Russia have fallen to historic lows since the invasion last year as countries wean themselves off it, but to make up for the shortfall shipments of cooled LNG from all over the world, including Russia, have surged and are not subject to any EU sanctions. EU countries bought 22m cubic metres of Russian LNG between January and July 2023, compared with 15m during the same period in 2021, Global Witness said. “Buying Russian gas has the same impact as buying Russian oil. Both fund the war in Ukraine, and every euro means more bloodshed. While European countries decry the war, they’re putting money into Putin’s pockets,” Noronha-Gant said. “These countries should align their actions with their words by banning the trade of Russian LNG that is fuelling both the war and the climate crisis.”

Spain and Belgian said the numbers did not reflect national purchasing but the fact that their ports were major gateways for the rest of the continent. European leaders spent 2022 reducing their reliance on Russian energy and trying to build alternative supplies after the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, closed off the gas taps to Europe. The EU imposed sanctions on imports of Russian oil and coal after Moscow’s forces invaded Ukraine in February last year. It also banned Russian entities from storing gas in the bloc and prohibited most new investments in the Russian energy sector. Fears of winter blackouts led to people in many countries being asked to turn down their heating thermostats by 1C and night-time illumination of public buildings across the bloc, including the Eiffel Tower, was stopped. In some cities street lights were turned off after midnight to save energy.

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Irreversible.

Expanded BRICS Set to De-Dollarize the World, Control Global Energy Supply (ET)

“The expansion of BRICS has made it clear that the de-dollarization of the international finance system is inevitable.” This view, from economist William Gumede—who’s also executive chairperson of the Democracy Works Foundation in South Africa—has been echoed around the world since BRICS leaders announced the expansion of the bloc on Aug. 24 at a summit in Johannesburg. Current BRICS members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In January, BRICS—originally established in 2009 to represent the world’s strongest emerging market economies—will add Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to its ranks. Mr. Gumede, one of South Africa’s leading academics and thought-leaders, has been researching the potential impacts of de-dollarization since 2014.

He told The Epoch Times the average per capita GDP of the G7 economies was currently six times that of BRICS economies. But, the unexpectedly swift expansion of BRICS would increase the trade bloc’s share of the global economy much faster than earlier predictions. “These forecasts did not take into account that BRICS would expand its membership very quickly. A larger BRICS will mean the world will increasingly use U.S. dollars less,” he said. Mr. Gumede said the bigger BRICS alliance would eventually rival the Group of Seven (G7) large industrial economies of the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Italy, and Canada, which together are home to 16 percent of the world’s population and account for 62 percent of the global economy.

Welcoming the new members in Johannesburg last week, Brazil’s President Lula da Silva said their addition would mean BRICS would represent 46 percent of the global population and 37 percent of the world GDP. The expansion means BRICS now consists of some of the globe’s largest oil producers: Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt. Nigeria, another major oil exporter, is set to join when the bloc gets even bigger, probably at its next summit in Russia in 2024. “BRICS is going to dominate the world’s energy supply,” said Mr. Gumede. “The strength of the U.S. dollar is also partially based on the currency as underpinning oil trade—the so-called petrodollar—and members of OPEC settle their accounts in U.S. dollars.

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Look at the phrasing:

“One candidate who is already running, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., would stay in the race, trading on his family name rather than his conspiracy-fueled ideas.”

What if Biden Backs Out of the Race? (RCW)

President Biden has declared he’s running for a second term, but it’s far from certain he actually will. His infirmity and low poll numbers raise serious doubts. His physical decline shows when he walks or climbs the stairs of Air Force One. His cognitive decline shows when he refuses to hold press conferences or answer even the simplest questions, like how he feels about the devastating fires in Maui. His decline in the public’s estimation shows when pollsters ask Americans how they’re doing. Four out of five answer, “Not good. Not good at all.” Voters also say they don’t want another general election choice like the last one. So many votes in 2020 were negative ones “against the worse candidate,” not in favor of the better one. They don’t want another grudge match between two unpopular candidates.

Biden’s dismal poll numbers form a somber backdrop for his reelection campaign. That backdrop is even darker now that his health problems are so visible. These mounting problems may not prevent him from running, but they do lessen the chances. True, he keeps saying he is running. But, like all politicians, he may be deceiving the public or himself. The biggest “tell” is that Biden is avoiding the very things active candidates do. He’s not campaigning. He’s not attending a lot of small events with big donors. He’s not running ads. He’s not using the White House’s bully pulpit to address the nation on our challenges and his response to them. Still, those signs are not definitive. Biden might be lying low because the Republicans are fighting among themselves. Why get in their way? Better to wait until late autumn to ramp up his campaign.

He might be unsure if he really is running, uncertain if he is up to the arduous task, physically and mentally. Or he might have already decided, privately, that he will not run but is delaying the announcement since it would immediately turn him into a powerless lame duck. At this point, it’s impossible to know what he has decided. He might not know himself. But it is well worth considering the implications if Biden limits himself to one term and waits until late fall or early spring to make the announcement. The first implication is that a late withdrawal favors some Democratic candidates over others. It favors those with high name recognition, existing campaign operations, and the ability to fund expensive national efforts, either from outside donations or their own pockets.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has already established his campaign-in-waiting and can raise lots of money, especially from big donors in his home state. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is a billionaire who can fund his own run and has begun setting up a national team. Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, by contrast, would be several steps behind and would need to raise a lot of money quickly to become a viable candidate. So would Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, or others who might step into the wide-open race. One candidate who is already running, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., would stay in the race, trading on his family name rather than his conspiracy-fueled ideas.

[..] The second consequence of a Biden withdrawal would be a fight over the future of Kamala Harris. She is the least popular vice president in polling history, and for good reason. Voters think she’s incompetent, inauthentic, and inarticulate, an empty-calorie word salad without any policy achievements. She’s the living embodiment of the “Peter Principle,” where people keep getting promoted until they reach their level of incompetence.

Read more …

Given GOP’s track record…

Majority of Voters Are Skeptical of Possible Biden Impeachment (Manley)

A poll published on Wednesday has revealed that a majority of American voters (56%) see a possible impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden as more of a partisan political stunt than those (38%) who view it as a “serious effort to investigate important problems.” At least 53% of Independents who responded to the poll also agreed that an impeachment inquiry would be more of a political stunt. The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the Congressional Integrity Project, both groups of which lean Democrat. Some 37% of those who responded to the poll said they were Democrat, while 32% said they were Republican and 31% said they were Independent. About 88% of Biden voters said an impeachment of the president would be a “partisan political stunt” while just 20% of former US President Donald Trump’s voters said the same. When grouped politically, 81% of Democrats held this view, while 30% of Republicans said the same. Another 73% of Trump voters, and just 7% of Biden backers said the impeachment inquiry would be a “serious effort to investigate important problems.”

The survey then asked respondents whether Republicans should still move to impeach Biden if “no evidence is found” in the investigation. In response, 61% said they should not impeach him, while 32% said they should, and 7% said they were not sure. “MAGA Republicans’ impeachment promises are nothing more than a partisan political stunt designed to hurt President Biden, and the American people know it,” said Leslie Dach, a senior adviser for the Congressional Integrity Project. “Republicans have failed to find a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden and voters see right through their partisan games.” A possible impeachment investigation in Biden appears to be on the horizon for Congress as summer comes to a close. Last week, US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he would launch an impeachment inquiry in September should the Biden administration fail to turn over documents he believes are tied to an alleged bribery scheme involving his family.

Read more …

Seating his donors…

Hunter Biden Helped Plan State Dinners During Dad’s VP Days (Sp.)

A number of emails obtained from the US National Archives and Records Administration revealed more than 1,000 emails between the office of then-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s advisory firm Rosemont Seneca Partners, America First Legal said in a statement. “We obtained new docs from our lawsuit against the National Archives revealing over 1,000 emails between Rosemont Seneca and the Office of Vice President,” the statement said on Wednesday. “The vast majority of these emails consisted of direct communications between Rosemont Seneca employees, including Hunter Biden, and the Office of the Vice President.”

The emails contradict Joe Biden’s claims that there was a wall between personal and government business, the statement said, underscoring that Hunter Biden was “intimately involved in planning for high-profile White House events” despite lacking any official role. One of the findings revealed that Hunter Biden took part in planning a 2011 luncheon with Chinese officials, arrival ceremony with the then German chancellor, 2012 state dinner with UK dignitaries, 2013 state luncheon with Turkish officials and a state dinner with French officials in 2014. The “Biden name” was used to gain access to the White House for Rosemont Seneca and their associates, the statement said, detailing a December 2013 incident in which a lobbyist “reached out” to Hunter’s business partner for last-minute tickets to a Christmas tour of the White House.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Sean Penn

 

 

 

 

Quail

 

 

Octopus

 

 

Cheetah

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 042020
 


Jack Delano Near Shawboro, North Carolina, Florida migrants on way to Cranberry, NJ 1940

 

The Dubious Official Story Behind the Soleimani Assassination (Whitney Webb)
Israel Had Advance Notice Of US Plan To Kill Iranian General Suleimani (LAT)
How Trump Decided To Kill Iran’s Soleimani (Pol.)
Inside The Plot By Iran’s Soleimani To Attack US Forces In Iraq (R.)
Iraqi PMF Militias Retract Claims Of Medics Targeted By US Airstrike (RT)
The Dogs of War (Kunstler)
Fed Policymakers Broadly See Eye To Eye On 2020 Outlook (R.)
Fed’s Mester Warned Of Inflation Risks, Says Current Policy ‘Well Calibrated’ (R.)
Australian Troops Called To Tackle Fires (BBC)
Slow Burn (John Quiggin)
Australia’s Bushfires Push Countless Species To Extinction (G.)
Mexico President Calls For Julian Assange To Be Released From UK Prison (R.)

 

 

See far too many people pretending they’re far too sure about what’s going on. Mostly in line with their pre-conceived views, but others, too, appear to think there’s shame in not having a strong opinion on things they don’t know much about (there will be a war!). While Israel and Saudi are almost completely missing from those opinions and reports.

First victim of war is truth, guys, and that war for now only exists in opinions. And don’t believe everyone in Iran is in deep mourning now. There, too, in the upper echelons there’s a constant power battle, with lots of bloodshed and torture and renditioned people. Just like in America. Plenty Iranians will be happy to see Soleimani gone.

The Dubious Official Story Behind the Soleimani Assassination (Whitney Webb)

Much has been written by MintPress and other outlets about the long-standing efforts by prominent neoconservatives in the U.S. as well as the Israel lobby and Israeli government to prod the U.S. into a major war with Iran. Neoconservative efforts at regime change in Iran have been decades in the making and the current presidential administration has several notable Iran hawks in prominent positions. Furthermore, both President Trump and his foremost ally in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are facing domestic efforts aimed at removing them from office and are facing fresh elections, giving both leaders incentive to ratchet up tensions abroad to distract from their own domestic conflicts.

Yet, the current pressure facing both Trump and Netanyahu in their respective policies is only the latest factor that has pushed both administrations into a renewed and increasingly desperate push to satisfy the decades-old effort of Iran hawks in both countries to stoke war and “reshape” the Middle East in favor of the U.S.-Israel axis. Given the recent assassination of Soleimani, however, it is essential to point out that the U.S. airstrike targeting the Quds Force leader came just a few months after Israel tried but failed to assassinate the general. Indeed, the most recent of these failed attempts was slated to occur early last October and, per The Times of Israel:

“The assassins planned to dig under a religious site associated with Soleimani’s father and set off an explosion under the building when he was inside, and then try to deflect blame so that it ignited an interfaction[al] religious war. The assassins prepared some 500 kilograms to use for the bomb.” Israel’s government did not comment on the alleged plot, though it is notable that the plan to dig below a Muslim holy site and plant a bomb has been attempted by Israeli extremist groups in the past, groups which have a major foothold in Israel’s current government.


This alleged attempt by Israel to kill Soleimani came after claims that, in 2018, the Trump administration had given Israel a “green light” to assassinate the general. The report claimed that “there is an American-Israeli agreement” that Soleimani is a “threat to the two countries’ interests in the region” and was published by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida, which is widely considered to be “an Israeli platform for conveying messages to other countries in the Middle East,” according to Israeli media.

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Geez, what a surprise.

Israel Had Advance Notice Of US Plan To Kill Iranian General Suleimani (LAT)

Israel had advance notice of the U.S. plan to kill Iranian military leader Gen. Qassem Suleimani, Israeli military and diplomatic analysts reported Friday night while refraining from providing further details due to heavy military censorship. “Our assessment is that the United States informed Israel about this operation in Iraq, apparently a few days ago,” Barak Ravid, a journalist and commentator with deep sources in the Israeli security establishment, said on Channel 13. An Israeli army officer with knowledge of Israeli military assessments, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to reporters, told the Los Angeles Times that the attack on Suleimani “did not come as a surprise.”

The reactions of Israel’s political leadership to Suleimani’s assassination were mostly positive, though deep concern was registered throughout the leadership. Iran and Israel maintained warm relations for almost four decades before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew the shah and imposed a theocratic Shiiite Muslim regime that for four decades now has called for “death to Israel” and is accused of backing and masterminding numerous terrorist attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets, including the 1992 and 1994 attacks on the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that left over 100 people dead. Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Iranian proxy militia, has in recent years been accused of perpetrating further attacks against Israeli targets in India, Thailand and Bulgaria.


[..] Due to the heightened alarm, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a visit to Greece, where he had signed an agreement for a regional gas pipeline. He made a statement on the tarmac ahead of boarding his flight back to Israel, saying that the United States had the right to defend itself. “Qassem Suleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks. President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense.” The Israeli army officer described the situation as “definitely higher readiness than usual, but not DEFCON One. We want to err on the side of caution, but we know we are not the first target. We are the second.”

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Lots of stories of Trump spilling the beans before the attack to run of the mill Mar-a-Lago guests. While Howie Carr didn’t know anything until afterwards. Don’t let news outlets shape your opinions for you.

How Trump Decided To Kill Iran’s Soleimani (Pol.)

Hours before the U.S. military sent a Reaper drone to kill one of the most wanted men on the planet, President Donald Trump was relaxing at his palatial Florida properties. In the morning, he played 18 holes at Trump International, his West Palm Beach golf club. At around 3 p.m., he returned to Mar-a-Lago, the historic oceanfront estate he’s branded “the Winter White House,” and waited, donning a navy blue suit with a powder-blue tie and an American flag pinned to his lapel. He’d already made a risky—and potentially world-altering—decision to allow the U.S. military to kill Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary forces.

Earlier this week, he’d been surrounded at Mar-a-Lago by top officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. Throughout the entire week, Trump sought input from other advisers by phone. “He was calm, cool and collected,” said conservative radio host Howie Carr, who spoke with Trump on Thursday at Mar-a-Lago soon after the news first broke, as the president dined with GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy. “I had no idea there was anything out of the ordinary going on until I got home.”

As rocket attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq intensified over the last two months, the president had granted the Pentagon extraordinary latitude: The U.S. military had his permission to kill Soleimani the next time it had an opportunity to do so, according to a senior defense official who was not authorized to speak on the record. “We had authority before the strike to take that action,” said the official, who wouldn’t say how recently Trump gave the Pentagon that authorization—whether it was hours, weeks or even months earlier. As recently as New Year’s Eve, the president was telling reporters that he didn’t want war with Iran.


For a man U.S. officials have portrayed as a terrorist mastermind, an evil genius responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, Soleimani often flaunted his influence as he jetted between Tehran, Baghdad and Beirut for meetings with local potentates. “I don’t think it was so hard [to find him] because he was not below the radar in the last two or three years,” said a former senior Israeli government official, who noted that Soleimani had previously moved around under strict operational secrecy. “But the last two or three years, he worked in the open.”

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We simply don’t know what is fact and what fiction. And that’s okay.

Inside The Plot By Iran’s Soleimani To Attack US Forces In Iraq (R.)

In mid-October, Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani met with his Iraqi Shi’ite militia allies at a villa on the banks of the Tigris River, looking across at the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad. The Revolutionary Guards commander instructed his top ally in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other powerful militia leaders to step up attacks on U.S. targets in the country using sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran, two militia commanders and two security sources briefed on the gathering told Reuters. The strategy session, which has not been previously reported, came as mass protests against Iran’s growing influence in Iraq were gaining momentum, putting the Islamic Republic in an unwelcome spotlight.

Soleimani’s plans to attack U.S. forces aimed to provoke a military response that would redirect that rising anger toward the United States, according to the sources briefed on the gathering, Iraqi Shi’ite politicians and government officials close to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. Soleimani’s efforts ended up provoking the U.S. attack on Friday that killed him and Muhandis, marking a major escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran. The two men died in air strikes on their convoy at a Baghdad airport as they headed to the capital, dealing a major blow to the Islamic Republic and the Iraqi paramilitary groups it supports. Interviews with the Iraqi security sources and Shi’ite militia commanders offer a rare glimpse of how Soleimani operated in Iraq, which he once told a Reuters reporter he knew like the back of his hand.


Two weeks before the October meeting, Soleimani ordered Iranian Revolutionary Guards to move more sophisticated weapons – such as Katyusha rockets and shoulder-fired missiles that could bring down helicopters – to Iraq through two border crossings, the militia commanders and Iraqi security sources told Reuters. At the Baghdad villa, Soleimani told the assembled commanders to form a new militia group of low-profile paramilitaries – unknown to the United States – who could carry out rocket attacks on Americans housed at Iraqi military bases. He ordered Kataib Hezbollah – a force founded by Muhandis and trained in Iran – to direct the new plan, said the militia sources briefed on the meetings. Soleimani told them such a group “would be difficult to detect by the Americans,” one of the militia sources told Reuters.

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That second strike everyone’s talking about? Did it even happen?

Iraqi PMF Militias Retract Claims Of Medics Targeted By US Airstrike (RT)

The Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have dropped their claims that a medical convoy was destroyed in a US air raid along Taji road, north of Baghdad. In a new press release cited by several news agencies, the PMF leadership retracted their statement in which the group said their medics were hit by a US airstrike. This happened after Reuters cited Iraqi Army sources who said that six people were killed in a raid near Taji. The Iraqi Army, however, later denied that an airstrike took place there. In a statement quoted by local media, the military urged everyone to be “careful” about spreading unverified information and “rumors” in the future. The US-led coalition in Iraq also said that no air raids have been conducted in that area in recent days.

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“..the little towns that dotted that landscape where all the carnage and horror played out. Not a strip-mall in the whole gorgeous panorama. The rolling fields neatly fenced in the stillness of a summer’s day. A peaceful tranquility we today cannot even imagine.”

The Dogs of War (Kunstler)

In that mercifully quiet week between Christmas and New Years, I re-watched Ken Burns’ documentary of the first Civil War, in contemplation of a possible second. What an almighty bloodbath that was. Thousands butchered in minutes in one battle after another, heads and limbs flying, men turned inside-out, and horses, too. The blue and the gray were hostage to their battlefield tactics and didn’t seem to learn from the insane extravagance of souls wasted in massed assaults against massed artillery again and again and again. The population of the whole nation (Confederacy included) was 31 million in 1860 and the war killed two percent of that, almost entirely young men.

Another impression left by that documentary was the startling beauty of the countryside in that day, and of the little towns that dotted that landscape where all the carnage and horror played out. Not a strip-mall in the whole gorgeous panorama. The rolling fields neatly fenced in the stillness of a summer’s day. A peaceful tranquility we today cannot even imagine. Everything human-scaled and so many buildings graced with beauty deliberately made: pediments, steeples, cupolas, columns, and swags. Walt Disney could not have imagined a more tender and appealing place. The lyrical names of those towns are linked to rivers of blood: Shiloh, Spotsylvania, Missionary Ridge, Cold Harbor….


And the last impression accumulated over each installment was that this we did it to ourselves, and couldn’t seem to stop, just as today various parties to current events can’t seem to stop their provocations to a new episode of national domestic violence. This time it is the very government at war with itself, and so far the war is merely legalistic, the battles of lawyers — of which, one senses, we have far too many for our own good. The Department of Justice in particular is at war with itself, one faction in it refusing to cooperate with the other, hiding documents, trafficking in political muck, kluging up the works with deceptions, and still at it in the yet-unresolved case of General Flynn, which should have been thrown out of court months ago based on obvious prosecutorial malice.

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These people think you are really really stupid…

Fed Policymakers Broadly See Eye To Eye On 2020 Outlook (R.)

Federal Reserve policymakers who last year were frequently at odds over where to set U.S. borrowing costs opened 2020 telegraphing confidence in the state of the economy and signaling broad agreement that monetary policy is right where it should be. In their first remarks in the new year, heads of several regional Fed banks noted a strong job market, robust consumer spending and a rising optimism for a resolution to the trade tensions that had nicked growth in the second half of 2019.


And after cutting interest rates three times last year to bring the Fed’s target to a range of 1.5% to 1.75% and ensure global headwinds didn’t short-circuit the longest U.S. economic expansion in history, “I think most of us think that we are well-calibrated now,” Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester said in an interview on the sidelines of an economics conference in San Diego. Based on forecasts of her fellow policymakers on the Fed’s rate-setting committee, she said, “the committee thinks a flat path (for interest rates)… is appropriate.” Mester had been among a handful of Fed policymakers who argued last year that the U.S. economy did not need lower rates to continue to grow.

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… so stupid, in fact, that they say whatever sounds good, truth be damned.

Fed’s Mester Warned Of Inflation Risks, Says Current Policy ‘Well Calibrated’ (R.)

Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester, among the Fed policymakers most concerned that easy monetary policy would risk excessive inflation, said on Friday she has put those fears to rest for now and is willing to leave rates at their current level absent some substantial change in the economy. Her comments in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the American Economic Association conference suggest how firmly the Fed is anchored to its current setting for overnight interest rates, fixed in a range of between 1.5% and 1.75% after three rate cuts last year. Advocates for even deeper rate reductions now agree the current setting is helping the economy enough that the Fed can stand pat while Mester and others who worried that lower rates might court faster inflation or risky lending have concluded that at this point there is little cause for concern.


I have been kind of forecasting inflation to go up to 2% for quite a while and we have been undershooting,” said Mester, who assumes a voting role this year on the Fed’s policy-setting committee. Mester, who was skeptical last year that rate cuts were needed, said, “I think we are really well calibrated now.” A rate increase would not be needed, “until I see either financial stability issues looming or some indication that inflation is going to pick up strongly. I don’t see that now and it is not in my forecast.” “You want to see that inflation really is at 2%. You want persistence. You want to be able to say that I am confident now that inflation is meeting our goal,” which was set at 2% in 2012 but never consistently achieved, she said.

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Finally, and even then it’s just reserve troops.

Australian Troops Called To Tackle Fires (BBC)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 3,000 reserve troops will be deployed to help tackle raging bushfires across the country. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said this is the first time this has happened in Australia’s history. Temperatures have surpassed 40C (104F) in parts of south-east Australia. Officials had warned that Saturday was set to be a “dangerous day”. Since September, fires in Australia have killed at least 23 people. Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Mr Morrison told reporters: “We have seen this disaster escalate to an entirely new level.”


An emergency warning was issued for areas of eastern Victoria that told remaining residents it was now too late to leave. “The safest option is to plan how you will safely take shelter indoors as conditions worsen,” the warning said, adding: “Leaving now would be deadly.” Residents were instructed to attempt to take shelter indoors or in a large clearing or body of water. Dozens of people are missing and some 1,500 homes have already been lost this fire season. Mr Morrison also announced A$20m (£10m) has been allocated to lease four water bomber planes. Defence force bases would provide temporary accommodation, he said.

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Just think about all the plastics and paints etc. that are burning.

Slow Burn (John Quiggin)

At least eighteen people have already been killed by this season’s bushfires — and, with most of January and all of February still to come, that number is sure to rise. But these dramatic deaths are far outweighed by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, that will ultimately result from the toxic smoke blanketing Australian cities.

The most dangerous component of bushfire smoke are tiny particulates, no more than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, known as PM2.5. Over the past twenty years, studies have shown that high levels of PM2.5 have contributed to millions of premature deaths in highly polluted cities like Beijing and Delhi. Sydney, Canberra and other Australian cities have recently joined this list. In 2016 alone, exposure to PM2.5 contributed to an estimated 4.1 million deaths worldwide from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease and respiratory infections.

Even before the current cataclysm, air pollution was a major health hazard. While Sydney’s prevailing average of 6 micrograms per cubic metre (6 μg/m3) is within international health standards, it is above the levels observed in most European and American cities. A study led by the Sydney Public Health Observatory’s Richard Broome estimated that particulates and associated forms of pollution already account for between 310 and 540 premature deaths annually.

As far as can be determined, the mortality and health risks of PM2.5 are a linear function of the level of exposure. Being exposed to 6 μg/m3 every day for a year, for example, amounts to 2190 “microgram days.” Broome and his colleagues’ work implies that each microgram day is associated with between 0.14 and 0.25 premature deaths. This figure is consistent with a range of international studies they cite.

The overall mortality effects are also a linear function of the number of people exposed. That’s why a city like Delhi, with thirty million people and an average PM2.5 of 150 μg/m3, suffers tens of thousands of premature deaths every year.

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Think anyone cares? Always had the impression white Australia only wants to sell off all resources as fast as they can, because they know they stole all of them to begin with. Before you get caught, make sure the money’s in your pocket.

Australia’s Bushfires Push Countless Species To Extinction (G.)

Close to the Western River on Kangaroo Island, Pat Hodgens had set up cameras to snap the island’s rare dunnart – a tiny mouse-like marsupial that exists nowhere else on the planet. Now, after two fires ripped through the site a few days ago, those cameras – and likely many of the Kangaroo Island dunnarts – are just charred hulks. “It’s gone right through the under storey and that’s where these species live,” said Hodgens, an ecologist at Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, a not-for-profit conservation group. “The habitat is decimated.” On Friday afternoon word came through that three other Land for Wildlife sites protecting dunnarts and other endangered species, including the southern brown bandicoot, had also been consumed by fire on the island off the South Australian coast.


Prof Sarah Legge, of the Australian National University, said the prognosis for the Kangaroo Island dunnart was “not good” and its plight was symbolic of what was happening all across the east coast of Australia. “Many dozens” of threatened species had been hit hard by the fires, she said. In some cases “almost their entire distribution has been burnt”. So far, the Australian bushfire season has burned through about 5.8m hectares of bush, known across the world for its unique flora and fauna. Ecologists say the months of intense and unprecedented fires will almost certainly push several species to extinction. The fires have pushed back conservation efforts by decades, they say, and, as climate heating grips, some species may never recover. Climate scientists have long warned that rising greenhouse gases will spark a wave of extinctions.

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AMLO doesn’t appear to be very effective so far, certainly not internationally. A socialist right on America’s doorstep. Can’t be easy.

Mexico President Calls For Julian Assange To Be Released From UK Prison (R.)

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday called for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be released from prison in London, urging an end to what he described as his “torture” in detention. Assange, 48, is in a British jail for skipping bail when he sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he spent nearly seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape that were dropped in November. Assange is also battling U.S. attempts to extradite him over Wikileaks’ publication of vast caches of leaked military documents and diplomatic cables. He faces a lengthy prison term if extradited to the United States.


A U.N. human rights investigator last year said Assange has suffered psychological torture from a defamation campaign and should not be extradited to the United States where he would face a “politicized show trial.” Lopez Obrador, a leftist who has close ties with Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, expressed his solidarity with Assange and said he hoped the former hacker and activist is “forgiven and released” from prison. “I don’t know if he has recognized that he acted against rules and norms of a political system, but at the time these cables demonstrated how the world system functions in its authoritarian nature,” Lopez Obrador said in response to a question about Assange at a regular government news briefing. “Hopefully consideration will be given to this, and he’s released and won’t continue to be tortured.”

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