Nov 172022
 
 November 17, 2022  Posted by at 9:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  71 Responses »


Cimabue Christ mocked c1280 (Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters)

 

Ukraine Admits Firing Missile Near Poland Blast Site – CNN (RT)
Zelensky Doubles Down On Poland Missile (RT)
Gen. Milley Claims He Couldn’t Reach Moscow After Poland Missile Incident (RT)
Poland Should Guard Part Of Ukrainian Airspace – General (RT)
Missile Incident Was Ukrainian ‘Provocation’ – Polish Politician (RT)
Poland Wants Russian Oil Despite EU Embargo – Kommersant (RT)
Drone Strikes Deep In Russian Territory – Governor (RT)
The G20’s Balinese Geopolitical Dance (Escobar)
Eurozone Facing Deep Recession – Economists (RT)
Xi Roasts Justin Trudeau At G20 (RT)
Did SBF Buy Puff-Piece Propaganda? (ZH)
American Attempts To Preserve Hegemony Vs The New World Order (Kortunov)
US Congress Will Continue To Oppose Jet Sale To Turkey – Rep. Malliotakis (K.)
Sperm Counts Plummeting Dramatically – Faster Than Previously Thought (EHN)
Fauci’s Pandemic Leadership Needs to Be Investigated – Dr. Scott Atlas (ET)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kuleba before denials

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of RT today. Seems to be the only place for relevant information on Zelensky’s -and Poland’s- attempts to start WWIII.

“It doesn’t matter to Germany whose rocket fell in Poland, in any case, Russia is to blame, because it attacked Ukraine” – Olaf Scholz

Ukraine Admits Firing Missile Near Poland Blast Site – CNN (RT)

Ukrainian military officials told their American and other Western counterparts that they attempted to intercept a Russian missile near the site of a fatal blast in Poland on Tuesday, CNN reported. While Kiev initially blamed the explosion on Russia, Western leaders have since stated that it was likely caused by an errant Ukrainian air defense projectile. Citing a US official, CNN anchor Jim Sciutto said on Wednesday that the Ukrainian military has informed its Western backers that it “attempted to intercept a Russian missile in the same timeframe and near [the] location” of a “missile strike” at the Polish village of Przewowdow a day earlier. “It’s not clear this is [the] same missile that struck Poland, but this has informed ongoing US assessment,” Sciutto added.

The apparent admission by Ukraine’s military marks a dramatic climbdown by Kiev since Tuesday, when Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky called the incident a “Russian attack on the collective security” of NATO. In a video statement, Zelensky urged the West to put Russia “in its place” in response. However, in the time since the blast, Ukraine’s Western backers have all but confirmed that the missile was fired from Ukraine. US President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Polish President Andrzej Duda have all stated that the blast was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile, with Duda opting not to call for urgent consultations under Article 4 of the NATO Treaty.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported that analysis of debris at the site of the explosion showed that it was caused by a missile from the S-300 air defense system, a Soviet-era system fielded by Ukraine. Poland is currently leading an investigation into the explosion, which killed two people. The blast occurred during an intense Russian bombardment of Ukrainian command centers and energy infrastructure. Russia has pummeled Ukraine with near-daily missile and drone strikes since October, following what Russian President Vladimir Putin called Ukrainian “terrorist attacks” on Russian territory. Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushenko called Tuesday’s barrage the “most massive shelling of [Ukraine’s] energy system” since the beginning of the conflict in February.

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“Ukraine’s president Zelensky is pushing back against Western suggestions, including those of the US and Nato, that a stray Ukrainian missile was responsible for the deadly blast in Poland. ‘I have no doubt that it was not our rocket,’ he told reporters.”

Zelensky Doubles Down On Poland Missile (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky continued to insist his military did not fire the missile that killed two civilians in the Polish village of Przewodow. Ukraine wanted to be included in any investigation of the incident, he told reporters in Kiev on Wednesday. “I have no doubt that it was not our missile or our missile strike,” Zelensky said, according to Ukrainian media. Noting that this is what the Ukrainian air force commander told him on Tuesday evening, he added, “It makes no sense for me not to trust them.” The Ukrainian president also said the Przewodow incident was yet another argument for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, something he has been asking for since February.

Zelensky was quick to blame “terrorist” Russia for what he described as an attack on NATO and the concept of collective security itself. His foreign minister Dmitry Kuleba did likewise. Neither have retracted their claims, even after Poland announced the missile that struck Przewodow was from a S-300 air defense system. “There is a high probability that it was a Ukrainian air defense missile,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, CNN quoted unnamed Ukrainian military officials as saying the missile was indeed theirs. Zelensky, however, told reporters he disagreed with phrases like “high probability” and that Ukraine “has the right” to see the evidence and data from partner countries. So far, he said, Kiev has received nothing.

“We must participate in the investigation,” Zelensky said, according to the UNIAN news agency. “I want it to be fair and if it was the use of our air defense, then I want this evidence.” While the incident in Przewodow happened amid a Russian cruise missile attack on key energy and military infrastructure targets in Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry swiftly noted that the debris filmed in Poland had nothing to do with any Russian weapon. Nor had anything nearby been targeted by the Russian military, Moscow added. Even the US government acknowledged the projectile that hit the Polish village was not Russian. On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also said the missile had been Ukrainian and there were no indications of a Russian attack. He argued that the ultimate responsibility for the incident still lay with Moscow, however.

Candace

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Bad if he’s lying, bad if he’s not.

Gen. Milley Claims He Couldn’t Reach Moscow After Poland Missile Incident (RT)

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley tried and failed to reach his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov, in the wake of a deadly missile incident in Poland, he revealed to journalists. “My staff was unsuccessful in getting me linked up with General Gerasimov,” he said during a joint press conference with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday. The failed contact happened after a missile hit a Polish village on the border with Ukraine and killed two locals on Tuesday. It came amid a Russian barrage targeting Ukrainian military and energy infrastructure. President Vladimir Zelensky claimed that the weapon was Russian and urged NATO to invoke its collective defense provisions in response. Western nations have since assessed that the projectile was most likely a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that went astray. But the Ukrainian leader doubled down on his claim that it was not fired by Kiev’s forces.


During the media briefing, both US defense officials declined to comment on the difference of opinion. “We have full confidence in Poland’s ability to conduct this investigation in the proper way, and until that’s complete, again, I think it’s – it’d be premature for anybody to jump to conclusions,” Austin said. Zelensky named Ukraine’s chief of defense, General Valery Zaluzhny, as the source of his information about the projectile’s origin. Milley said he also talked to the general, but declined to say what he was told about the incident. The Russian military has denied responsibility and said images of the missile debris clearly identified it as Ukrainian. The Foreign Ministry accused Kiev of trying to gain more Western support under a false pretext and said that an impartial investigation would expose the Ukrainian “provocation”.

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In the middle of it all, Ukraine adds another call for a no fly zone. As if we forgot what that means. Trying to get NATO openly into the war.

Poland Should Guard Part Of Ukrainian Airspace – General (RT)

Polish General Roman Polko said that the country’s air defenses should assume responsibility for part of Ukraine’s territory, in the wake of a deadly missile strike on a village near the Ukraine border. Speaking to Radio ZET on Wednesday, Polko, who used to serve as the Deputy Chief of the Polish National Security Bureau, suggested that Poland should protect a “strip of airspace extending into Ukrainian territory and build air defense systems.” “We cannot allow Polish citizens to die,” he stressed, expressing hope that the incident would accelerate deliveries of defense weapons. The general went on to say that Polish authorities should ramp up defense capabilities as well as increase airspace monitoring.

“We should inform Russia that Ukraine and… the border belt will be constantly monitored by the NATO alliance and Russian combat assets will be shot down,” Polko added. He also noted that the “unprecedented attack” should prompt NATO to “finally lift restrictions” and give Ukraine long-range weapons. According to media reports, the US, Kiev’s most prominent backer, has been reluctant to send these types of arms to Ukraine, fearing it would escalate the conflict. While Germany said that, along with its NATO partners, Berlin has no plans to try and close off Ukrainian airspace, noting that such a move could trigger a direct clash between Russia and NATO forces. “Together with all our allies we agreed that we want to avoid a further escalation of this war in Ukraine,” a government spokesperson explained.

Berlin had proposed to help Poland patrol its airspace, according to Germany’s defense ministry spokesman. It comes in the aftermath of a missile strike on the village of Przewodow, close to the Ukrainian border, which killed two civilians. While Poland initially claimed that the projectile was “manufactured in Russia,” later, President Andrzej Duda noted that it was probably launched by Ukrainian air defenses. The Russian Defense Ministry denied involvement, stating that its experts had analyzed the photos from the scene and identified parts of the projectile “as elements of a missile from the S-300 air defense system used by the Air Force of Ukraine.”

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“Instead of telling “fairy tales” about the missile, the Polish president should tell Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky that Warsaw “will no longer put up with this behavior” by Kiev.”

Missile Incident Was Ukrainian ‘Provocation’ – Polish Politician (RT)

Poland should rethink its position towards the conflict in Ukraine after a “provocation” on the part of Kiev that cost two villagers their lives, a former city councilman in Lublin said on Wednesday. Jaroslaw Pakula, whose term ended four days before the incident, said the missile that struck Przewodow was obviously Ukrainian and that the government in Warsaw needed to send a message to Kiev instead of telling “fairy tales” to its citizens. “Of course, this is a Ukrainian rocket. Of course, this is a provocation on the part of the Ukrainian authorities,” Pakula posted on his Facebook page. “The rocket could not be fired 100km in the opposite direction by mistake.” The purpose of the provocation was to scare the EU and get civil society support for sending even more weapons to Ukraine, Pakula added.

Instead of telling “fairy tales” about the missile, the Polish president should tell Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky that Warsaw “will no longer put up with this behavior” by Kiev. “I urge you to rethink Poland’s position [regarding] this war in the event that the red line is crossed again!” Pakula concluded. Pakula’s Facebook page still has a Ukrainian flag over his portrait photo, and lists him as chairman of the city council of Lublin, the seat of the region where Przewodow is located. The official city website, however, notes that he was no longer in office as of November 11. Zelensky was quick to accuse Russia of attacking Poland and the entire NATO after a missile exploded in Przewodow on Tuesday afternoon, killing two people.

The government in Kiev said the incident showed the need for NATO to “close the sky” over Ukraine, as they have demanded since February. While Zelensky continues to insist the missile was Russian, Warsaw and Moscow have both identified it as a S-300 air defense missile, with Poland calling it “Russian-made” and Russia pointing out it was in Ukrainian service. The US and NATO have also described the missile as an air defense rocket that strayed, seeking to minimize the incident while also arguing that Russia was the ultimate culprit for bombing Ukraine in the first place. The Russian military has pointed out that Tuesday’s missile strikes on Ukrainian military and energy infrastructure targets came nowhere close to the Polish border.

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And despite accusing Russia of attacking it.

Poland Wants Russian Oil Despite EU Embargo – Kommersant (RT)

Poland plans to continue buying Russian oil in 2023 via the “Druzhba” (Friendship) pipeline, despite vows from the country’s authorities to abandon imports from the sanctioned country, the daily Kommersant reported on Wednesday. Poland’s major oil refiner and retailer Orlen has sent a bid to Russia’s oil and gas transporting company Transneft to receive three million tons of oil through the Druzhba pipeline in 2023, the outlet reported, citing a source in the Polish oil industry. Transneft has confirmed the order without specifying which companies it came from and the requested volumes. On December 5, an EU embargo on Russian crude oil and petroleum products comes into force.

And even though it will not be applied to deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline, Germany and Poland, which receive oil through the northern branch of the pipeline, have officially announced that they will voluntarily give up Russian oil from the beginning of 2023. Kommersant has pointed out that the Polish oil company has active long-term contracts with Transneft and reminded readers that the country’s foreign minister Zbigniew Rau had said on November 14 that Orlen risks paying a penalty in case of a unilateral withdrawal from the agreement. At the moment, Orlen has stopped buying Russian oil on the spot market but continues to receive it under long-term contracts with Tatneft (2.4 million tons per year until 2024) and Rosneft (3.6 million tons per year), the outlet reports.

The contract with Rosneft was renewed for two years in March 2021 and, apparently, will still be valid in January and February 2023. Commenting on the issue, Transneft vice-president Sergey Andronov said that on top of the bids from the company’s clients, which use the southern leg of the Druzhba pipeline, there are “bids from Polish consumers for deliveries through Belarus in 2023.” Andronov added that he hoped that German buyers of Russian crude would be “equally reasonable about securing stable oil supplies” from Russia. Druzhba is one of the longest pipeline networks in the world and carries crude some 4,000 kilometers from the eastern part of European Russia to refineries in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

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Reeks a bit of Nordstream.

Drone Strikes Deep In Russian Territory – Governor (RT)

A drone has struck an oil terminal in Russia’s Oryol Region, some 200km (124 miles) from the Ukrainian border, Governor Andrey Klychkov said. “Around 4am today, an apparent drone struck an oil terminal in the village of Stalnoy Kon,” he wrote on his Telegram channel on Wednesday. “Nobody was hurt. Emergency services are working on site,” Klychkov added. Although the region does not share a border with Ukraine, it borders the Russian regions of Kursk and Bryansk where officials reported multiple Ukrainian attacks after Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring state on February 24.


News outlet Baza reported that the drone hit an upper section of a cylindrical steel tank, “a quarter” of which was filled with oil. The outlet added that there were no leaks or fires. According to news outlet Mash, the terminal is part of the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline network, which delivers Russian oil to Europe. Oryol Region, together with several neighboring regions, was placed on a state of heightened alert last month.

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“The Americans suddenly interested in talking, and Macron and Scholz approaching Lavrov, point to the heart of the matter: the EU and the UK may not survive next winter, 2023-2024, without Gazprom.”

The G20’s Balinese Geopolitical Dance (Escobar)

The fog thickened because on the backdrop of the G20, the US and Russia were talking in Ankara, represented by CIA director William Burns and SVR (Foreign Intel) director Sergei Naryshkin. No one knows what exactly was being negotiated. A ceasefire is only one among possible scenarios. And yet heated rhetoric from NATO in Brussels to Kiev suggests escalation prevailing over some sort of reconciliation. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was adamant; de facto and de jure, Ukraine can’t and does not want to negotiate. So the Special Military Operation (SMO) will continue. NATO is training fresh units. Next possible targets are the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and the left bank of the Dnieper – or even more pressure in the north of Lugansk.

For their part, Russian military channels advance the possibility of a winter offensive on Nikolaev: only 30 km away from Russian positions. Serious Russian military analysts know what serious Pentagon analysts must also know: Russia used at best only 10% of its military potential so far. No regular forces; most of them are DPR and LPR militias, Wagner commandos, Kadyrov’s Chechens and volunteers. The Americans suddenly interested in talking, and Macron and Scholz approaching Lavrov, point to the heart of the matter: the EU and the UK may not survive next winter, 2023-2024, without Gazprom. The IEA has calculated that the overall deficit by then will approach 30 billion cubic meters. And that presupposes “ideal” circumstances this coming winter: mostly warm; China still under lockdowns; much lower gas consumption in Europe; even increased production (from Norway?)

The IEA‘s models are working with two or three waves of price increases in the next 12 months. EU budgets are already on red alert – compensating the losses caused by the current energy suicide. By the end of 2023, that may reach 1 trillion euros. Any additional, unpredictable costs throughout 2023 mean that the EU economy will completely collapse: industry shutdown across the spectrum, euro in free fall, rise of inflation, debt corroding every latitude from the Club Med nations to France and Germany. Dominatrix Ursula von der Leyen, leading the European Commission (EC), of course should be discussing all that – in the interests of EU nations – with global players in Bali. Instead her only agenda, once again, was demonization of Russia. No niskala here; just tawdry cognitive dissonance.

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2023-24.

Eurozone Facing Deep Recession – Economists (RT)

The 19 countries that use the euro are expected to plunge into a much deeper recession in the coming months than earlier predicted, CNBC reported on Wednesday, citing economists. According to the report, the euro area has been under “significant pressure” due to a combination of sanctions against Russia, an abrupt end to Russian gas imports, and the need to provide financial support to households and firms struggling with the energy crisis. CNBC cited data from the European Commission showing that consumer confidence across the Eurozone plunged to a record low in September. It has improved slightly since then, but households still fear for the future and their financial positions, the report says.

“Consumer confidence has plunged so badly that the recession will likely not be shallow,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, told the news network. Preliminary growth estimates for the region suggest a slowdown in the third quarter from the previous three-month period – from 0.8% growth to 0.2%. According to Spyros Andreopoulos, a senior European economist at BNP Paribas, “It will be deeper than certainly what the ECB [European Central Bank] council expects.” Earlier this month, ECB President Christine Lagarde indicated that “the risk of recession has increased.” Andreopoulos told CNBC that he sees a risk the recession might drag into the second quarter of 2023.

Economists agree that even if the Eurozone emerges from a recession in the first quarter of next year, the subsequent months will still be challenging. s“I expect the recovery to be slow,” chief European economist at UniCredit, Marco Valli, told the network, citing higher interest rates as one of the main factors preventing a faster recovery. When asked if it was going to be an easy year for the euro area, Valli said: “No, absolutely not.”

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sundance: “If you have not watched this video, you really should. Justin from Canada leaked the content of a private bilateral conversation with Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping to the media. Chairman Xi was not happy with the breach of diplomatic protocol. What makes this video remarkable is the purposeful decision by Chairman Xi to confront Justin from Canada in front of a western audience. Xi never speaks directly in public and is always aware of cameras. The Chinese Chairman almost always goes through spokespeople to relay his public communication, reserving his voice for controlled and disciplined conversation with national leaders. However, not this time. Chairman Xi dresses down Justin from Canada publicly, in view of cameras and microphones. Watch, and stay with it to the end when Justin from Canada awkwardly looks for somewhere to hide. It’s quite funny.”

Xi Roasts Justin Trudeau At G20 (RT)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has publicly dressed down Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for leaking the content of their meeting to the media. Canadian reporters captured the exchange on video during the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday. Barely a minute long, the exchange opens with Xi, speaking through a translator, telling Trudeau that “everything we discussed has been leaked to the papers.” “That is not appropriate. And that’s not the way the conversation was conducted,” Xi added. “If there was sincerity on your part…” “In Canada we believe in free and open and frank dialogue, and that is what we’ll continue to have,” Trudeau replied, speaking over the translator still trying to finish relaying Xi’s words. “We’ll continue to look to work constructively together but there will be things we will disagree on,” the Canadian leader added.


“Let’s create the conditions [for that] first,” replied Xi, offering Trudeau a handshake. While the Chinese leader smiled and moved on, the Canadian PM walked away from the camera, by himself. What Reuters described as “a rare display of public annoyance” by Xi follows media reports about the contents of his meeting with Trudeau on Tuesday. In the course of the ten-minute meeting, Trudeau raised “serious concerns” about China’s “interference activities” in Canada, ranging from industrial espionage to meddling in the 2019 federal election, a “government source” told AFP. According to the same source, they also discussed the situation in Ukraine, North Korea, and the upcoming biodiversity conference in December, which Beijing and Ottawa are co-hosting.

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How can you write about him without mentioning the Ukraine-FTX-Democrats connection?

Did SBF Buy Puff-Piece Propaganda? (ZH)

As FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried faces extradition to the USA following his fund’s commingled asset implosion, one might be a bit confused about the gravity of the situation given recent press coverage. For example, the NY Times on Monday published a cowering puff-piece which mentioned exactly none of the major accusations against the well-connected Democrat mega-donor. Months before his firm imploded, Vox penned a slobbering review of SBF’s “Effective Altruism” program, painting him as a benevolent crime-fighter in his efforts to help ensure Joe Biden won the 2020 US election. But his motivations aren’t those of an ordinary Democratic donor — Bankman-Fried told Goldstein that fighting Trump was less about promoting Democrats than ensuring “sane governance” in the US, which could have “massive, massive, ripple effects on what the future looks like.” -Vox

Fast forward to Tuesday, when Vox proclaimed that SBF’s support of Democratic candidates to the tune of $40 million, second only to George Soros, is “massively overstated” and essentially no big deal. And what do we have here? SBF gave millions to corporate media outlets according to Tablet, and noted by @balajis, who suggests that it may have been done with “stolen customer funds.” Over the past two years, Bankman-Fried cultivated the media lavishly, if not carefully. Drawing on what then seemed like an unlimited pool of cash, SBF (as we’ll call the mythologized version of the real person) dispersed investments, advertising dollars, sponsorships, and donations to key news outlets—including ProPublica, Vox, Semafor, and The Intercept—with extraordinary effectiveness. -Tablet

And while some of said outlets (Semafor, and The Intercept for example) covered FTX without obvious bias, recent pieces from Vox suggest the investment has paid off in spades. On Wednesday, Vox must have realized how dumb they looked – leading to Vox’s Dylan Matthews (who oddly took the “Vox” reference out of his Twitter bio earlier today) dumping what appears to be incriminating texts with another Vox journo. And while the NY Times wasn’t on the list of outlets that received money, perhaps SBF’s deep-rooted establishment connections have something to do with it.

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“While US officials use the “politically correct” rhetoric of multipolarity and multilateralism, the Biden administration is determined to restore a unipolar world..”

American Attempts To Preserve Hegemony Vs The New World Order (Kortunov)

NATO was unexpectedly enriched by two promising members, and the American military-industrial complex entered very attractive new markets not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world. Unprecedented export opportunities have also opened up for US energy companies, which are increasing the supply of their expensive liquefied natural gas to Europe as an alternative to the cheap Russian pipeline variety. Among other things, the current crisis has shown that the intellectual and psychological inertia of the old unipolar world is far from being overcome and continues to actively influence the world’s politics and economics. The surprising unanimity shown by the countries of the European Union in their willingness to reject any form of “strategic autonomy” from the US makes one wonder how serious the desire for this very autonomy was in the first place.

But the recurrence of systemic unipolarity is not unique to the West. For example, the threat of secondary sanctions by the US has in many cases proved to be a decisive factor in determining the opportunities and constraints for non-Western countries to develop economic and other cooperation with Moscow. Under US pressure, Turkey decided to refuse to service Russian Mir payment cards, and China’s Huawei was forced to begin winding down its activities in Russia. The new US National Security Strategy recently signed by Biden is steeped in outright restorationist pathos. The document speaks of the indispensability of American leadership, the unchanging task of “containing” China and Russia, the promotion of liberal values around the world, etc.

While US officials use the “politically correct” rhetoric of multipolarity and multilateralism, the Biden administration is determined to restore a unipolar world, exactly as it existed in the 1990s. To quote a well-known aphorism from the days of the Bourbon restoration to the French throne after the Napoleonic wars, one can state that Washington strategists “have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.” Which is not surprising when you consider what age group Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump belong to.

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“We are always concerned when we really don’t know what Erdogan may say or do…”

US Congress Will Continue To Oppose Jet Sale To Turkey – Rep. Malliotakis (K.)

US representative Nicole Malliotakis appeared confident on Wednesday that both the Senate and Congress will ultimately uphold a provision banning the sale of F-16s to Turkey without a firm commitment that the fighter jets will not be used against America’s allies. “We feel that we are in a good place and we are going to continue to advocate for the protection of our allies,” Malliotakis told state broadcaster ERT in Washington, after signing a letter along with another 21 representatives urging US lawmakers to uphold the provision. Despite the fact that the provision was dropped by the Senate in its version of the defense spending bill last month, getting the amendment passed in the first place “played a very strong role and also sent a very strong message to the Administration that there is bipartisan opposition in both the House and the Senate,” Malliotakis, a Republican, said.

“We’re working with Senator Menendez as the chair of foreign affairs and I’ve been working with [Michael] McCaul, who I think might be the next chair of foreign affairs in the House, to ensure that there is a not a sign-off on such as sale,” she added, referring to Senator Bob Menendez, one of the original authors of the amendment. Asked whether support for the provision would continue should the Republican party gain control of the House, Malliotakis said that “a majority of the members of the House still oppose [the sale].” “When we had that amendment come to the floor, we were able to get the Republican votes, and they were the ones that actually passed the bill,” she said.

“We are always concerned when we really don’t know what Erdogan may say or do. He has been acting aggressively and his rhetoric has been disturbing, but that’s why we need members of Congress, we need the Administration to reaffirm its support for our allies in the region,” Malliotakis told ERT.

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“..a decline in sperm count in North America, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia of 28.5% between 1973 and 2011..”

“..average global sperm count in 2018 was 49 million per milliliter of semen. When a man’s sperm count drops below about 45 million per milliliter, his ability to cause a pregnancy starts dropping dramatically..”

Sperm Counts Plummeting Dramatically – Faster Than Previously Thought (EHN)

For years, scientists across the world have gathered evidence showing declines in sperm quality. Now, new research compiling the results of those studies has found that sperm count has dropped dramatically around the world, and the rate of decline is accelerating.

In a new analysis, researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center, the University of Copenhagen, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, among others, found that sperm count globally dropped by more than half between 1973 and 2018, and that the decline is accelerating: Since 1972, sperm count has dropped by about 1% each year. Since 2000, the annual decrease has been, on average, more than 2.6%. The findings raise concerns that an increasing number of people will need assistance to reproduce, as well as concerns about the overall health of human society, since low sperm count is linked to higher rates of some diseases. And while scientists are still trying to tease out the reasons for the drop, chemical exposures, especially to pesticides, are a likely factor — and climate change may even play a role. Researchers are calling for urgent action to bolster more research into sperm count, determine the causes of the decline, and prevent further deterioration of male reproductive health. “We have clear evidence that there is a crisis in male reproduction,” Hagai Levine, lead author on the study and an epidemiologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told EHN.

The study builds on the team’s previous research, which showed a decline in sperm count in North America, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia of 28.5% between 1973 and 2011. Adding data from 38 studies to the new analysis has made the case for sperm decline stronger, Shanna Swan, an author on the paper and a leading reproductive epidemiologist at Mount Sinai, told EHN. “It’s really alarming,” said Swan, who is also an adjunct scientist with Environmental Health Sciences, which publishes EHN.org. Swan authored the book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race. The research found that the average global sperm count in 2018 was 49 million per milliliter of semen. When a man’s sperm count drops below about 45 million per milliliter, his ability to cause a pregnancy starts dropping dramatically, said Swan.

She said the results could mean that in the coming decades, large swaths of the global population of men could be subfertile or infertile, or could require assisted reproduction techniques, like in vitro fertilization, or IVF, hormone treatment, or a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which sperm are directly injected into an egg. In addition to the drop in average sperm count, Levine said it was surprising that the rate of decline was accelerating, rather than slowing down. “Is there a tipping point, that once you cross, you get an even worse situation?” he said. “That’s something to really pay attention to.”

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Well, they got the House now… Let’s go!

Fauci’s Pandemic Leadership Needs to Be Investigated – Dr. Scott Atlas (ET)

Former White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Scott Atlas sees multiple reasons for an investigation into Dr. Anthony Fauci, the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Such a probe has been discussed as Republicans inch closer to a House majority that would grant them subpoena powers. Some Republican lawmakers have accused Fauci of playing a role in misleading the public about the origins of COVID-19 and supporting pandemic mandates they describe as draconian. While Atlas, a vocal critic of the NIAID head, is “very skeptical” that an investigation like this could get away from politics or the perception of it being political, he thinks it’s warranted. Fauci’s changing stance on certain COVID-19 policies needs to be put under the spotlight, Atlas recently said on EpochTV’s “Newsmakers.”

“The real, clear public airing of exactly what happened needs to be done,” said Atlas, a senior fellow in health care policy at the Hoover Institution and contributor to The Epoch Times. “I personally am very skeptical that a political investigation, no matter who does it, is going to be done without politics, or if it’s going to be perceived as nonpolitical. I don’t trust people in government at all. They don’t deserve to be trusted, to be objective. “What was the motivation to flip flop multiple times with policy?” His question was referring to Fauci’s changing stance on pandemic school closures that drew criticism in late 2020.

He further questioned if there had been any “cover-up” of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Fauci’s division, citing the awards to the Wuhan Institute of Virology through the New York nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance as an example. EcoHealth Alliance, which continues to receive millions of dollars in grants from the NIH, was subjected to scrutiny by multiple federal agencies over its partnership with the Wuhan lab. The Office of Investigations of the Department of Health and Human Services in late 2020 briefly opened a probe over alleged “major fraud against the United States.” The probe was closed in January 2021, according to internal documents, which had the reasons for the closure redacted. The allegation states that “the COVID-19 virus was generated in … China with the assistance of an NIH Grant.”

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Schwab Bali

 

 

 

 

Wray

 

 

 

 

Good morning bear

 

 

Deep Field: The Impossible Magnitude of our Universe

 

 

 

 

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Jul 032021
 


Julian Assange turns 50 today, in isolation

 

Polymerase-specific T Cells Expand In Seronegative SARS-CoV-2 Infection (Mxiv)
Clot Death Risk To 18-39s From AZ Vaccine Is 2x Covid Death Risk (IE)
French Senate Considers Mandatory Covid Vaccines For Adults Aged 24-59 (RT)
Bali Swept Up In Indonesia’s Harsh Lockdown Despite 71% Vaccination Rate (RT)
Tech Giants Still Not Coming Clean About Covid-19 Disinformation, Says EU (TC)
Vatican In Push Against Vaccine Scepticism (RT)
“Intellectual Capture?” On YouTube’s Demonetization of Bret Weinstein (Taibbi)
Stumbling Toward Reality (Kunstler)
Natural Resource Drain Created By “Net Zero Emission” Targets (ZH)
Biden Aide Charges “Sabotage” Of Harris (Axios)
New Emails Raise New Allegations of Influence Peddling By Hunter Biden (Turley)
Key Assange Witness Recants – With Zero Corporate Media Coverage (Fair)

 

 

Delta Case Fatality Rate in UK appears 8 times higher among the fully vaccinated than the unvaccinated

 

 

Early intervention

 

 

In the strongest immune systems, T cells kill the virus so fast the body has no time (or reason) to create antibodies. So an antibody test will raise an alarm: there are none! A PCR test will likely show the virus though, even though it’s dead. You can’t win. Both test results will lead to a call for a vaccine.

Polymerase-specific T Cells Expand In Seronegative SARS-CoV-2 Infection (Mxiv)

Individuals with likely exposure to the highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 do not necessarily develop PCR or antibody positivity, suggesting some may clear sub-clinical infection before seroconversion. T cells can contribute to the rapid clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections1–5 . We hypothesised that pre-existing memory T cell responses, with cross-protective potential against SARS-CoV-26–12, would expand in vivo to mediate rapid viral control, potentially aborting infection. We studied T cells against the replication transcription complex (RTC) of SARS-CoV-2 since this is transcribed first in the viral life cycle13–15 and should be highly conserved. We measured SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells in a cohort of intensively

monitored healthcare workers (HCW) who remained repeatedly negative by PCR, antibody binding, and neutralisation for SARS-CoV-2 (exposed seronegative, ES). 16-weeks postrecruitment, ES had memory T cells that were stronger and more multispecific than an unexposed pre-pandemic cohort, and more frequently directed against the RTC than the structural protein-dominated responses seen post-detectable infection (matched concurrent cohort). The postulate that HCW with the strongest RTC-specific T cells had an abortive infection was supported by a low-level increase in IFI27 transcript, a robust early innate signature of SARS-CoV-2 infection16.

We showed that the RNA-polymerase within RTC was the largest region of high sequence conservation across human seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV) and was preferentially targeted by T cells from UK and Singapore pre-pandemic cohorts and from ES. RTC epitope-specific T cells capable of cross-recognising HCoV variants were identified in ES. Longitudinal samples from ES and an additional validation cohort, showed pre-existing RNA-polymerase-specific T cells expanded in vivo following SARS-CoV-2 exposure, becoming enriched in the memory response of those with abortive compared to overt infection. In summary, we provide evidence of abortive seronegative SARS-CoV-2 infection with expansion of cross-reactive RTC-specific T cells, highlighting these highly conserved proteins as targets for future vaccines against endemic and emerging Coronaviridae.

Read more …

But the benefits still outweigh the risks, says the Irish health body. Who are these people?

Clot Death Risk To 18-39s From AZ Vaccine Is 2x Covid Death Risk (IE)

The HSE has admitted a greater risk of blood clotting in younger people still exists for the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that risk is now outweighed by a need to speed up public vaccination. A new modelling study published in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) medical journal has concluded that the dangers presented to younger people by the AstraZeneca vaccine are greater than the benefits. The study, published in the weekly edition of the Eurosurveillance journal, models four months of a vaccine distribution strategy in France involving Vaxzevria (commonly called AstraZeneca) from May 2021, and concludes that using the vaccine on the entire adult population there would avert 10 deaths from Covid among 18-39-year-olds, but would be associated with 21 deaths from blood clotting in the same age grouping over the same time period.


“Our results highlight the clear benefit of the distribution of Vaxzevria towards the population aged 55 years and older and provide valuable insight for public health decision making,” the study concludes. Last April, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee’s (Niac) recommended that AstraZeneca should only be given to people over the age of 60 in Ireland due to the risk of very rare blood clots and the fact older people are more susceptible to severe Covid infection than their younger counterparts. The move followed a wave of similar decisions across other European health bodies as details of the clotting risk solidified. However, in light of dire projections earlier in the week from Nphet concerning the potential spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, the HSE announced that from Monday, July 5, all 18-34-year-olds will be able to avail of Janssen vaccines, administered by 750 pharmacies.

Read more …

Illegal. Simple.

French Senate Considers Mandatory Covid Vaccines For Adults Aged 24-59 (RT)

The French Senate is considering implementing obligatory vaccinations for those aged 24-59 to help the country weather the anticipated next spike of coronavirus infections in what would be a fourth wave of cases. The body published a report from its Common Mission of Information on Thursday, advocating for mandatory vaccinations of young to middle-aged adults on the grounds it could significantly lower hospitalization rates and deaths. The report issued a stern warning: “act now to limit impact”. The report follows Prime Minister Jean Castex’s announcement on Wednesday that he will consult elected officials and chairmen of parliament on the compulsory vaccination of caregivers, with senators pushing for this to also include 24-59 year olds.


The age group was chosen as over 90% of people infected with Covid are under 60 in France, the Pasteur Institute said. To prevent hospitalization rates rising like last year, the Institute found that among 12-17 year-olds, a 30% vaccination rate was needed, and 70% among 18-59s. A vaccine uptake of 90% for those over 60 was deemed necessary. However, France’s vaccination campaign – which has prioritized those most susceptible to catching Covid, such as healthcare workers and people over 65 – is lagging behind these targets. Among 18-29 year-olds, 15.36% are fully vaccinated. Just under a quarter of those aged 30-49 have been inoculated, while the figure rises to half among 50-64 year olds.

Read more …

260 million people stretched out over countless islands. Give them IVM.

Bali Swept Up In Indonesia’s Harsh Lockdown Despite 71% Vaccination Rate (RT)

Hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints have been erected across Indonesia as authorities attempt to enforce a harsh lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, which has surged in the country in recent weeks. “We are setting up [patrols] in 21 locations where typically there are crowds,” Istiono, the head of Indonesia’s national traffic police, who goes by only one name, told reporters on Friday night. “Where there are street stalls and cafes, we will close those streets, maybe from around 6pm until 4am.” The beefed-up patrols and roadblocks will focus on the islands of Java – the country’s most populous, where the national capital of Jakarta is located – as well as Bali, a common tourist destination.

Some 21,000 police officers and soldiers will enforce the new restrictions, according to a police spokesman cited by Reuters. They will also administer random coronavirus tests at checkpoints. The move comes soon after President Joko Widodo declared a new lockdown earlier on Friday, set to last into late July, though it could be extended. The order requires all “non-essential” businesses to shut their doors, while Java- and Bali-based students will have to learn from home if possible. Parks, malls, indoor restaurants and places of worship, among other public spaces, have also been closed.= Some exceptions were made for those who are both vaccinated and test negative for the virus, as they were permitted to travel long-distance in the affected areas.

Indonesia is currently facing one of Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, tallying more than 20,000 cases each day in recent weeks – many believed linked to the Delta variant first observed in India – and that only accounts for those verified by testing. The country has smashed its own daily infection record for the last 12 days, according to Reuters, reporting 25,830 cases on Friday, as well as a high of 539 fatalities. While a national vaccination drive is underway, largely relying on a shot developed by China’s SinoVac, only about 5% of Indonesia’s 260 million-strong population has been fully immunized against the virus, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data. That amounts to about 13.7 million people.

Read more …

“They simply cannot police themselves alone.” Orwell.

Tech Giants Still Not Coming Clean About Covid-19 Disinformation, Says EU (TC)

European Union lawmakers have asked tech giants to continue reporting on efforts to combat the spread of vaccine disinformation on their platforms for a further six months. “The continuation of the monitoring programme is necessary as the vaccination campaigns throughout the EU is proceeding with a steady and increasing pace, and the upcoming months will be decisive to reach a high level of vaccination in Member States. It is key that in this important period vaccine hesitancy is not fuelled by harmful disinformation,” the Commission writes today. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, TikTok and Twitter are signed up to make monthly reports as a result of being participants in the bloc’s (non-legally binding) Code of Practice on Disinformation — although, going forward, they’ll be switching to bi-monthly reporting.


Publishing the latest batch of platform reports for April, the Commission said the tech giants have shown they’re unable to police “dangerous lies” by themselves — while continuing to express dissatisfaction at the quality and granularity of the data that is being (voluntarily) provided by platforms vis-à-via how they’re combating online disinformation generally. “These reports show how important it is to be able to effectively monitor the measures put in place by the platforms to reduce disinformation,” said Vera Jourova, the EU’s VP for values and transparency, in a statement. “We decided to extend this programme, because the amount of dangerous lies continues to flood our information space and because it will inform the creation of the new generation Code against disinformation. We need a robust monitoring programme, and clearer indicators to measure impact of actions taken by platforms. They simply cannot police themselves alone.”

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You would think the pope has better thinngs to do?!

Vatican In Push Against Vaccine Scepticism (RT)

The official bioethics academy of the Catholic Church has come forward alongside a host of global medical associations to demand an end to the “myths and disinformation” interfering with the fight against Covid-19. The Pontifical Council of Life (VPCL) and several international physicians’ groups spoke with reporters on Friday in what was described as an “all-out effort” to set straight the disinformation surrounding the vaccine’s place in religious doctrine, insisting the pharmaceutical mixture was not only safe and effective but also ethical under the Catholic faith. While acknowledging that some reluctance to take the jab in “disadvantaged communities” was linked to previous “breaches of trust in medical research” and overall “suspicion” of pharma firms, Friday’s joint statement said a “more pernicious form” of vaccine hesitancy was fueled by “unfounded and misleading claims and myths” and amplified on social media.


“Considered one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, vaccines play a vital role in the prevention of infectious diseases,” they said. The groups noted the problem becomes even more complex given the vaccine skepticism within many religious groups, and even the medical community, calling for a united front against disinformation among spiritual leaders and healthcare professionals. All relevant stakeholders must exhaust all efforts to confront vaccine hesitancy by sending a clear message about the safety and necessity of vaccines and counteracting vaccine myths and disinformation The statement followed a day-long online seminar sponsored by the VPCL, along with the World Medical Association of France and the German Medical Association.

Read more …

Fitting on Assange’s Bday.

“Intellectual Capture?” On YouTube’s Demonetization of Bret Weinstein (Taibbi)

YouTube’s decision with regard to Weinstein and Heying seems part of an overall butterfly effect, as numerous other figures either connected to the topic or to DarkHorse have been censured by various platforms. Weinstein guest Dr. Robert Malone, a former Salk Institute researcher often credited with helping develop mRNA vaccine technology, has been suspended from LinkedIn, and Weinstein guest Dr. Pierre Kory of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) has had his appearances removed by YouTube. Even Satoshi Omura, who won the Nobel Prize in 2015 for his work on ivermectin, reportedly had a video removed by YouTube this week. There are several factors that make the DarkHorse incident different from other major Silicon Valley moderation decisions, including the fact that the content in question doesn’t involve electoral politics, foreign intervention, or incitement.

The main issue is the possible blurring of lines between public and private censorship. When I contacted YouTube about Weinstein two weeks ago, I was told, “In general, we rely on guidance from local and global health authorities (FDA, CDC, WHO, NHS, etc) in developing our COVID-19 misinformation policies.” The question is, how active is that “guidance”? Is YouTube acting in consultation with those bodies in developing those moderation policies? As Weinstein notes, an answer in the affirmative would likely make theirs a true First Amendment problem, with an agency like the CDC not only setting public health policy but also effectively setting guidelines for private discussion about those policies. “If it is in consultation with the government,” he says, “it’s an entirely different issue.”

Asked specifically after Weinstein’s demonetization if the “guidance” included consultation with authorities, YouTube essentially said yes, pointing to previous announcements that they consult other authorities, and adding, “When we develop our policies we consult outside experts and YouTube creators. In the case of our COVID-19 misinformation policies, it would be guidance from local and global health authorities.”

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“Dr. Fauci’s role looks like a species of generic egomania with a top hat of greed (considering his financial interests in vaccines).”

Stumbling Toward Reality (Kunstler)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who answers to the title “The Science” in certain circles, said this week that there are going to be two Americas, the vaxed and the unvaxed. Earth to Dr. Fauci: we are already two Americas: the reality-onboard and the reality-optional. One reality is that vaccines developed at “warp speed” appear to have gnarly side-effects that can outweigh the risk of the disease they’re engineered to protect against. Another reality is that the Delta variant of SARS-Covid-19 is more contagious, but also weaker, less likely to result in hospitalization among the unvaxed. Yet another reality is that the Delta variant also infects the fully-vaccinated. Oh, what to do?

Consider not allowing yourself to be jerked around by US health officials who have trouble keeping their story straight, for instance, Dr. Anthony Fauci (a.k.a. The Science) who, records show, apparently assisted the bio-warfare division of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the Wuhan lab in the development of a world-beating, gain-of-function bat virus — which, halfway through year-two of its run, seems to be following the usual trajectory of viral epidemics by growing weaker before it disappears altogether. And then we’ll see what happens longer-term among the vaxed, who were subjected to flurries of toxic spike proteins.

It’s the opinion of some — though not myself — that the Covid-19 episode was unleashed upon the world to allow “the elite” to execute a “controlled demolition of the global economy” so as to quash climate change (by reducing carbon emissions), and therefore ensure a brighter future for said elite, while cruelly throwing the rest of the world’s population overboard. Oh, I dunno…. Klaus Schwab and his minions of The Great Reset seem more like hapless control freaks than persons actually able to control anything, least of all the whole world. Dr. Fauci’s role looks like a species of generic egomania with a top hat of greed (considering his financial interests in vaccines). The reality is that the global economy, such as it’s a high-tech industrial economy, is shooting its own wad very nicely without a whole lot of assistance from alleged nefarious parties.

Read more …

Green turns sour.

Natural Resource Drain Created By “Net Zero Emission” Targets (ZH)

While the idea of implementing net zero emissions by certain deadlines has sounded great for the companies, countries and states that have set targets, the reality of making it happen is slightly more difficult. That’s what the U.K. is finding out after Natural History Museum Head of Earth Sciences Prof Richard Herrington penned a letter to the Committee on Climate Change on the vast amount of natural resources that will be necessary to make the conversion. The letter was delivered to Baroness Brown, who chairs the Adaption Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change. In addition to noting that the U.K. would need a 20% increase in UK-generated electricity, the release also notes that “to meet UK electric car targets for 2050 we would need to produce just under two times the current total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production.”

The letter reads: “The urgent need to cut CO2 emissions to secure the future of our planet is clear, but there are huge implications for our natural resources not only to produce green technologies like electric cars but keep them charged. “Over the next few decades, global supply of raw materials must drastically change to accommodate not just the UK’s transformation to a low carbon economy, but the whole world’s. Our role as scientists is to provide the evidence for how best to move towards a zero-carbon economy – society needs to understand that there is a raw material cost of going green and that both new research and investment is urgently needed for us to evaluate new ways to source these. This may include potentially considering sources much closer to where the metals are to be used.”

It then points out obvious challenges in meeting the needs of converting all cars and vans to electric vehicles, especially as it relates to cobalt: To replace all UK-based vehicles today with electric vehicles (not including the LGV and HGV fleets), assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation NMC 811 batteries, would take 207,900 tonnes cobalt, 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate (LCE), at least 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium, in addition to 2,362,500 tonnes copper. This represents, just under two times the total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production during 2018. Even ensuring the annual supply of electric vehicles only, from 2035 as pledged, will require the UK to annually import the equivalent of the entire annual cobalt needs of European industry.

Read more …

Strange battle going on.

Biden Aide Charges “Sabotage” Of Harris (Axios)

Top White House officials are mobilizing to defend Vice President Kamala Harris amid a gusher of leaks about dysfunction and infighting in her office. Driving the news: White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Axios in a statement: “The President’s trust and confidence in her is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together.” Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond said in an interview late Thursday night: “It’s a whisper campaign designed to sabotage her.” Their responses came after Axios approached the White House with new reporting about growing tensions between West Wing officials and the Harris team, including chief of staff Tina Flournoy.

Some White House officials have been frustrated by a series of missteps from Harris and increasingly public bickering in her orbit, which spilled out in a Politico story on Wednesday. Flournoy’s old boss, former President Bill Clinton, came to her defense with a statement calling her “an extraordinary person. 2024 is the elephant in the room. While Biden aides overwhelmingly believe he’ll be the Democratic nominee, they also know he’d be 81 when seeking re-election. An operation sometimes visibly out of sync with Biden’s — and missteps during a recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, following a scrutinized interview with NBC’s Lester Holt — have reignited questions from Harris’ 2020 primary bid.

Harris would be the presumptive nominee if Biden didn’t run. Administration sources believe it would be nearly impossible to unseat the first Black woman vice president. Yet many Democrats, including some current senior administration officials, are concerned she could not defeat whomever the Republican Party puts up — even if it were Donald Trump. One Democratic operative tells Axios’ Alayna Treene that most Democrats aren’t saying, “‘Oh, no, our heir apparent is f***ing up, what are we gonna do?’ It’s more that people think, ‘Oh, she’s f***ing up, maybe she shouldn’t be the heir apparent.'” Some Democrats close to the White House are increasingly concerned about Harris’s handling of high-profile issues and political tone deafness, and question her ability to maintain the coalition that Biden rode to the White House, sources tell Axios’ Hans Nichols.

Relations between the West Wing and the Vice President’s office are tense. Several administration officials used “shitshow” when describing Harris’ office, and contrast her operation with disciplined, virtually leakproof Biden aides. Some Biden officials view the Harris operation as poorly-managed and staffed with people who don’t have long-term relationships with her. They feel she’s gotten bad advice from her press and communications shop and think it’s telling that she’s already lost two advance aides and a digital director.

Read more …

“It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious.”

New Emails Raise New Allegations of Influence Peddling By Hunter Biden (Turley)

The new emails include references to the use of Air Force II by Hunter Biden to pursue the deals — a similar pattern revealed with regard to the China dealings. The emails detail a number of visits to Mexico, including a February 2016 flight on Air Force II with his father. On the plane was his business partner Jeff Cooper, who ran Illinois-based SimmonsCooper. That is one of the largest asbestos litigation firms in the country and Hunter was given 3 percent of Cooper’s venture capital firm Eudora Global, according to emails. President Biden’s brother (who featured in past controversial deals) was also reportedly involved in some of these efforts. These dealings continued into 2018 as Hunter pushed for deals with Slim. One text message from July 24, 2018 reads “Spoke to my dad about ‘Slim ask” and Cooper responds “Oh that sounds SO F’ING GOOD.”

It obviously does not sound quite so good if you are a reporter who has been repeatedly assured by President Biden that he had no knowledge or involvement in any dealings with Hunter. That was previously refuted by various sources. Hunter himself contradicted his father’s repeated denial. Then there are the emails referring to the “Big Guy”, which witnesses say was Joe Biden. Then there is Tony Bobulinski who stated that he personally met with Joe Biden to discuss Hunter’s business dealings. Bobulinski is repeatedly praised by Hunter Biden in the emails and identified as the person in control of transactions for “the family.” He has directly contradicted Joe Biden’s denial of any knowledge or involvement in his son’s dubious dealings.

The new emails contain additional information directly contradicting President Biden. In addition to earlier pictures from golf trips and references to his involvement or knowledge, new material refers to a notable dinner arranged in Washington, D.C. Hunter arranged for then Vice President Biden to have dinner on April 16, 2015 with his Ukrainian, Russian and Kazakhstani business associates. They appropriately chose a private room at Café Milano, a Georgetown restaurant that brags that it is “Where the world’s most powerful people go.” After the dinner, Hunter received an email from Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, to thank him for introducing him to his father: “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”

It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. Presumably, however, this story will result in another run to the nearest ice cream shop for breathless coverage on the current frozen delights of the President.

Read more …

Lots of similarities between Assange coverage and that of vaccines.

Key Assange Witness Recants – With Zero Corporate Media Coverage (Fair)

A key witness in the Department of Justice’s case against Julian Assange has admitted that his entire testimony is false, a revelation that could be the death knell for US attempts to prosecute the Wikileaks founder. Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, often known as “Siggi the Hacker,” made the confession to Icelandic outlet Stundin (6/26/21) last weekend. The article details how Thordarson, a convicted felon, pedophile and diagnosed sociopath, used his position to steal money from Wikileaks, and received immunity from prosecution from the FBI in a quid pro quo. Such a blatant and juicy piece of important news should have made worldwide headlines. But, instead, as of Friday, July 2, there has been literally zero coverage of it in corporate media; not one word in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, Fox News or NPR.

A search online for either “Assange” or “Thordarson” will elicit zero relevant articles from establishment sources, either US or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, even in tech-focused platforms like the Verge, Wired or Gizmodo. The other major development in the case, according to the Canary (6/30/21), is Jeremy Corbyn delivering a letter from 20 MPs to the prison where Assange is held, demanding the right to visit him and treating him as a political prisoner. The news is not some sort of esoteric knowledge known only to those carefully watching Icelandic affairs. The story trended worldwide on Twitter on the weekend, with a number of prominent accounts or figures like Wikileaks itself, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald tweeting about it.

Not only that, Thordarson’s confession was well covered by alternative news sites with a tiny fraction of the resources establishment media have (e.g., Consortium News, 6/27/21; World Socialist Web Site, 6/27/21; Canary, 6/30/21). The story led Democracy Now!’s Monday show (6/28/21), which featured an in-depth interview with Assange’s legal advisor, Jennifer Robinson. This distinction once again highlights the gaping chasm between corporate and alternative media, suggesting that certain subjects are simply no-go zones for the former. It is not that the corporate press are completely uninterested in Assange. A number of outlets have covered the news this week that he and his partner Stella Morris are planning to get married (e.g., SBS, 6/27/21; Daily Mail, 6/28/21; Evening Standard, 6/28/21; London Times, 6/29/21). Yet none of these articles mentioned the far more consequential news about Thordarson and how it undermines the entire prosecution of Assange.

Read more …

 

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Mar 162018
 


Pablo Picasso Women of Algiers (after Delacroix) 1955

 

The British Government’s Russia Nerve Agent Claims Are Bullshit (Nafeez Ahmed)
UK Claims Questioned About Source Of Salisbury Novichok (G.)
Buying Stocks Now Is Betting On Buybacks (F.)
Has Europe Really Recovered From Its 2008 Financial Meltdown? (Steve Keen)
UK Household Debt Levels Close To 2008 Peak (Ind.)
UK Economy In Grip Of Most Feeble Recovery On Modern Record – IFS (Ind.)
More Than 600,000 Britons Sought Help From Debt Charity Last Year (G.)
European Commission Rebuked Over Ex-Chief Barroso’s Goldman Sachs Job (G.)
Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s Cronyism Scandal Worsens (G.)
Greece’s Jobless Rate Jumps To 21.2% In Fourth Quarter (K.)
EU Provides Financial Support For Turkey Amid Ethnic Cleansing (ANF)
The Oxfam Scandal: There Is No Reward For Honest Charities (Crack)
Bali Switches Off Internet Services For 24 Hours For New Year ‘Reflection’ (G.)

 

 

Yesterday was a travel day, hence no post. I’m back in Greece for talks about the Automatic Earth for Athens project.

 

 

Nafeez takes no prisoners. There must be a strong counter narrative to the UK government’s attempt to deflect attention from its dismal performance by conjuring up a common enemy for all Britons. Either show proof or hold your tongue.

The British Government’s Russia Nerve Agent Claims Are Bullshit (Nafeez Ahmed)

[..] far from offering a clear-cut evidence-trail to Vladimir Putin’s chemical warfare labs, the use of Novichok in the nerve gas attack on UK soil points to a wider set of potential suspects, of which Russia is in fact the least likely. Yet a concerted effort is being made to turn facts on their head. No clearer sign of this can be found than in the statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson, UK Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in which he claimed that Russia has “failed for many years” to fully disclose its chemical weapons programme.

Wilson was parroting a claim made a year earlier by the US State Department that Russia had not made a complete declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile: “The United States cannot certify that Russia has met its obligations under the Convention.” Yet these claims are contradicted by the OPCW itself, which in September 2017 declared that the independent global agency had rigorously verified the completed destruction of Russia’s entire chemical weapons programme, including of course its nerve agent production capabilities. [..] The OPCW’s press statement confirmed that:

“The remainder of Russia’s chemical weapons arsenal has been destroyed at the Kizner Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility in the Udmurt Republic. Kizner was the last operating facility of seven chemical weapons destruction facilities in Russia. The six other facilities (Kambarka, Gorny, Maradykovsky, Leonidovka, Pochep and Shchuchye) completed work and were closed between 2005 and 2015.” [..] According to Craig Murray, former US Ambassador to Uzbekistan and prior to that a longtime career diplomat in the UK Foreign Office who worked across Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, the British government itself has advanced capabilities in Novichok:

“The ‘novochok’ group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel. ”

[..] A secret British intelligence unit is actively arranging ‘honey trap’ propaganda operations to incriminate ‘adversaries’

Read more …

People are subject to abuse for questioning the official story. At least Corbyn has the decency to ask for evidence.

UK Claims Questioned About Source Of Salisbury Novichok (G.)

It was a historic moment largely ignored at the time by most of the world’s media and might have remained so but for the attack in Salisbury. At a ceremony last November at the headquarters of the world body responsible for the elimination of chemical weapons in The Hague, a plaque was unveiled to commemorate the destruction of the last of Russia’s stockpiles. Gen Ahmet Üzümcü, the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which works closely with the UN, was fulsome in his praise. “This is a major achievement,” he said. The 192-member body had seemingly overseen and verified the destruction of Russia’s entire stock of chemical weapons, all 39,967 metric tons.

The question now is whether all of Russia’s chemical weapons were destroyed and accounted for. Theresa May – having identified the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack as novichok, developed in Russia – told the Commons on Wednesday that Russia had offered no explanation as to why it had “an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law”. Jeremy Corbyn introduced a sceptical note, questioning whether there was any evidence as to the location of its production. The exchanges provoked a debate echoing the one that preceded the 2003 invasion of Iraq over whether UN weapons inspectors had overseen the destruction of all the weapons of mass destruction in the country or whether Saddam Hussein had retained secret hidden caches.

[..] The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who visited the site at Nukus, said it had been dismantled with US help. He is among those advocating scepticism about the UK placing blame on Russia. In a blog post, he wrote: “The same people who assured you Saddam Hussein had WMDs now assure you Russian ‘novichok’ nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil.” [..] Murray, in a phone interview, is undeterred, determined to challenge the government line, in spite of having been subjected to a level of abuse on social media he had not experienced before. “There is no evidence it was Russia. I am not ruling out that it could be Russia, though I don’t see the motive. I want to see where the evidence lies,” Murray said. “Anyone who expresses scepticism is seen as an enemy of the state.”

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Casino.

Buying Stocks Now Is Betting On Buybacks (F.)

It is no secret that a large portion of the rally in equities over the last few years, and especially the rebound from the lows of early February, has been bolstered by the record amounts of capital sitting in the coffers of American corporations which, has naturally found its way into the stock market. This cash had three main sources. First, corporations built a large precautionary hoard of cash in the aftermath of the financial crisis to prevent being buffeted by credit markets, choosing to recycle their income into savings rather than spending. Some of this cash is now being unleashed. Second, the extremely low level of yields and spreads in the corporate bond markets allows the issuance of longer term bonds to willing yield-starved bond buyers and take in even more cash.

And finally, the tax reform unlocked foreign cash that came flowing back into the U.S. – a good fraction of which has gone into the stock market. This trifecta of positives (for the stock market) has created a systematic bid whenever markets correct downwards. The big question for investors is whether we can count on the buybacks to continue to provide the support on dips as the economic cycle matures. The question really is whether “Buying the Dip” is the same as “Buying the Buyback.” Just like the yield of a bond is the income that an investor receives from cash, the most important component of the yield on a stock is the dividend that the investor receives as the company pays out cash dividends.

The total yield from holding a stock is the sum of the dividend yield and the “buyback” yield. The buyback yield is simply the capital returned to investors divided by the market value of the stock. To compare the relative yield value of stocks and bonds, then, we should compare the yield on bonds and the total yield on stocks. What has been a direct consequence of the large buying of bonds by central banks until recently is that investors have been buying stocks for their total yield since this yield has been much higher than the comparable bond yields. One could also argue that investors have been buying bonds for capital appreciation, not yield. Otherwise why would one hold negatively yielding securities in Europe? Bonds for capital gains, equities for yield – very interesting!

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Household debt. That’s the focal point.

Has Europe Really Recovered From Its 2008 Financial Meltdown? (Steve Keen)

There’s no doubt that Europe is recovering, and those factors have been part of it. But so is another element which economists, especially Krugman himself, continue to ignore: credit. Not only Europe’s crisis, but America’s and the UK’s as well in 2008, was due to a collapse in credit-based demand. In fact, Europe is back largely because credit is back: European (and American and British) consumers and firms are borrowing once again and unleashing that borrowed money into their economies, boosting demand and lowering unemployment. This means the recovery can continue only so long as households and firms can keep getting into debt. Yet, given private debt levels are still high when compared to GDP, it won’t be long before the national credit cards are maxed out again. Then the borrowing will stop, and the recovery will run out of steam.

So why aren’t economists warning of this dark lining in the silver cloud of economic recovery? It’s because they don’t think that credit matters, and they ignore it when making forecasts about where the economy is likely to go. Their logic is that credit simply transfers spending power from one person to another, so changes in the level of private debt only affect the economy if the borrower has substantially different spending patterns to the lender. To use Krugman’s own language here, rising private debt will only affect demand if the borrowers are “impatient people” who spend a lot, while the lenders are “patient people” who spend very little. This implies that large changes in private debt should have only small effects on the macroeconomy.

I could get all theoretical here and prove why this belief is false, but it’s rather easy to show what the biologist Thomas Huxley once described as “no sadder sight in the world,” which is “to see a beautiful theory killed by a brutal fact.” If the theory that credit doesn’t matter were true, then credit and unemployment would be unrelated to each other. But they are! Here’s a killing of this beautiful theory by a brutal fact that’s worthy of a Game of Thrones beheading: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the relationship between credit (the annual change in private debt, measured as a percentage of GDP) and unemployment in Spain, between 1990 and July 2017 (the latest quarter for which there is data on debt from the Bank of International Settlements).

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You can see the wall ahead that hey’re about to crash into.

UK Household Debt Levels Close To 2008 Peak (Ind.)

Worrying numbers of householders may be “in too deep” with their borrowing, a city regulator boss has told a credit conference. Jonathan Davidson, executive director of supervision for retail and authorisations at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said credit levels were close to a peak seen in 2008. He said the FCA would take action against firms whose businesses were based on people being unable to clear their debts. More can be done to pre-empt future harm to customers, he said, warning: “There are a significant number of households that are in so deep that the slightest sign of rough weather could see them in over their heads.” He said it was “far from certain” that some customers who could just manage to afford loans now would be able to do so in future.

Mr Davidson told the audience: “A business model that is predicated on selling products to customers who can’t afford to repay them is not acceptable. “We will take action against firms who run their businesses this way.” He said that while most borrowers could still comfortably afford their credit, the industry should “think strategically about the issues facing your customers”, adding that this was “the right thing to do, not only for your customers, but for the future of your businesses”. Mr Davidson said the consumer credit sector, which comprises nearly 40,000 firms registered with the FCA, was part of everyday life, serving around 39 million people, whether it was to help finance a car, a big purchase or to make ends meet towards the end of the month.

He said some arrears and default rates, while still low, were on the rise, begging the question: “If we’re seeing this pattern now, what would happen if there was an economic downturn?” Speaking at the Credit Summit in London, Mr Davidson said: “Total credit lending to individuals is currently very close to its September 2008 peak.

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What QE has brought us. This is a global phenomenon revealed stronger and sooner in Britain because of, but not caused by, Brexit.

UK Economy In Grip Of Most Feeble Recovery On Modern Record – IFS (Ind.)

The UK has been living through the most feeble and protracted economic recovery in modern British history, leaving people on course to be almost £9,000 worse off on average by 2022-23 relative to the pre-crisis trend, according to calculations by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In its analysis of the Government’s Spring Statement on Tuesday, which contained no new tax or spending measures, the think tank took a longer term perspective on the performance of the UK economy in the decade since the UK economy first sank into recession in 2008. It has long been noted that the UK’s recovery from that slump has been the slowest since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

But, analysing historic data on UK GDP per capita, the IFS showed on Wednesday that it has been weaker even than what followed the agonising slump of the early 1920s. In that era output per person fell by 10%, as global industrial overcapacity in the wake of the First World War ravaged once mighty UK firms, resulting in mass unemployment. The UK recession after the global financial crisis was shallower, with GDP per capita falling by around 7% as banks failed and global trade fell off a cliff. Yet a decade after the 1920-21 recession UK output per person was more than 10% higher than before the crisis. Today it is only around 3% higher than it was in 2008-09. “The history matters,” said Paul Johnson, the IFS’s director.

“It matters in part because we should never stop reminding ourselves just what an astonishing decade we have just lived through and continue to live through.” The UK has avoided the mass unemployment that scarred the 1920s and indeed employment has grown strongly since 2010, but the chronic weakness of UK GDP and productivity growth since 2008 is the reason why average real wages are still below where they were a decade ago – and are not set to return to their peak until well into the next decade. The IFS also produced calculations showing that if the pre-crisis trend of GDP per capita growth had continued national income per person would today be £5,900 higher this year. By 2022-23, on current official projections, the financial hit per person will grow to £8,600.

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Third world here we come.

More Than 600,000 Britons Sought Help From Debt Charity Last Year (G.)

More than 600,000 people in financial difficulties last year sought help from the debt charity StepChange, including disproportionate numbers of single parents and those in rental accommodation. The charity said 619,946 new clients contacted it for debt advice last year – 3.5% more than in 2016, and 22% more than four years earlier. There has been a notable increase in recent years in the number of young people seeking debt advice: about one in seven new clients was under 25, and nearly two-thirds were under 40. Most people (80%) contacting the charity were tenants, even though only a third of UK households rent. More than a fifth (21.5%) of new clients, though only 6% of UK households are single-parent families.

The average couple with children owed £16,834 last year, while single parents had unsecured debts of £10,033. Unemployment was the most common reason why people were in financial difficulty, cited by 18.7%, followed by injury or illness (16.4%) and lack of budgeting (14.3%). About two-fifths of people have fallen behind on at least one of their priority household bills when they contact the charity, typically on council tax. Borrowing on credit cards remains the most common debt, with more than two-thirds of new clients having accumulated credit card debts. Other borrowings included store cards, overdrafts, personal loans, doorstep and payday loans.

[..] Phil Andrew, the chief executive of StepChange, said: “It is both striking and shocking that last year about one in every 100 UK adults contacted StepChange alone for debt advice. “Our clients show that the debt problem is far from solved. With the prospect of higher interest rates ahead, it would be a mistake to take too much reassurance from the gradual improvement in the wider economy.”

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This is Brussels. Simple as that. The next crony case is already known in the person of Selmayr. More on that soon. There are a few decent people in Brussels, but they don’t have much time left.

European Commission Rebuked Over Ex-Chief Barroso’s Goldman Sachs Job (G.)

An EU watchdog has rebuked the European commission for failing to prevent potential lobbying by a former president who took a job at Goldman Sachs. In a stinging report, Emily O’Reilly, the European ombudsman who acts as the EU’s public administration watchdog, said the commission had committed “maladministration” by not taking any decision after an ethics inquiry into its former president, José Manuel Barroso. O’Reilly called on the commission to refer Barroso’s appointment to its internal ethics committee, while raising questions about the independence of that body. “Ex-commissioners have a right to post-office employment, but as former public servants they must also ensure that their actions do not undermine citizens’ trust in the EU,” said O’Reilly, Ireland’s former national ombudsman.

She said Barroso’s new post had “generated serious public disquiet”, which should have raised commission concerns about whether he had complied with the “duty of discretion” incumbent on all former officeholders under EU treaties. “Much of the recent negative sentiment around this issue could have been avoided if the commission had at the time taken a formal decision on Mr Barroso’s employment with Goldman Sachs. Such a decision could at least have required the former president to refrain from lobbying the commission on behalf of the bank,” she said.

[..] Barroso, a former Portuguese prime minister, led the commission for a decade until 2014. He took a job at Goldman Sachs in July 2016, after an 18-month cooling-off period during which ex-officials are required to notify the commission of any new jobs and are banned from lobbying. His decision to become a Brexit adviser at the bank triggered an avalanche of criticism, especially as Goldman Sachs had come under fire for its alleged role in the Greek debt crisis that dominated Barroso’s final years in Brussels. More than 150,000 people signed an EU staff petition calling for Barroso to lose his EU pension..

The commission has been set a deadline of 6 June 2018 to make a formal response to the ombudsman. Responding to the report, which followed a one-year investigation, the commission’s chief spokesman said: “The former president joined his current employer after the then applicable cooling-off period of 18 months. “The commission drew a political conclusion from the situation that we inherited by extending this cooling-off period for former presidents from 18 months to three years.”

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Abe had better leave while he can.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s Cronyism Scandal Worsens (G.)

A cronyism scandal engulfing the Japanese government has taken a dark turn, with reports that a finance official left a note before his suicide saying that he was forced to rewrite crucial records. The finance ministry admitted this week that it had altered 14 documents surrounding the sale of public land at an 85% discount to a nationalistic school operator with links to prime minister Shinzo Abe’s wife Akie. The revisions, made early last year, included removing references to Abe and the first lady before the records were provided to parliamentarians investigating suspicions of influence-peddling. An official from the local finance bureau that oversaw the transaction was found dead at his home in Kobe last week.

Now it has been revealed the man, aged in his 50s, left a detailed suicide note stating he was worried he might be forced to take all the blame. He said his superiors had told him to change the background section of the official documents surrounding the Osaka land sale because they were supposedly too specific, according to public broadcaster NHK. He reportedly made it clear that he did not act alone but in line with finance ministry instructions. His family described him as an honourable man who “hated to do anything unfair”. He had told relatives in August last year that he was “worn out both mentally and physically” and his “common sense has been destroyed”. “I hope everything will be revealed. I don’t want his death to be wasted,” said a family member…

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How to spell recovery.

Greece’s Jobless Rate Jumps To 21.2% In Fourth Quarter (K.)

Greece’s jobless rate rose by a full %age point to 21.2% in October-to-December from 20.2% in the third quarter, data from the country’s statistics service ELSTAT showed on Thursday. About 71.8% of Greece’s 1.006 million jobless are long-term unemployed, meaning they have been out of work for at least 12 months, the figures showed. Greece’s highest unemployment rate was recorded in the first quarter of 2014, when joblessness hit 27.8%. Athens has already published monthly unemployment figures through December, which differ from quarterly data because they are based on different samples and are seasonally adjusted. Quarterly figures are not seasonally adjusted. Greece’s economy grew for a fourth straight quarter in October-December, driven by stronger investment spending, but the pace was slower than in the previous quarter.

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That EU-Turkey refugee deal looks darker by the minute. Dirty politics.

EU Provides Financial Support For Turkey Amid Ethnic Cleansing (ANF)

The European Commission gave a green light to a second financial aid package for Turkey on the grounds of Syrian refugees. The 3 billion euros allocated for Turkey will be given in the scope of the controversial refugee deal. Several human rights organizations protested the renewed financial aid package for Turkey, arguing that it is not humanitarian as Turkey has openly used refugees as a means of blackmail against the European Union. Turkey had received another 3 billion euros of financial aid before. The European Commission defended that this second package will be granted to Turkey to provide convenience for the refugees.

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No, really, it’s an industry.

The Oxfam Scandal: There Is No Reward For Honest Charities (Crack)

Abuse thrives under two conditions: when victims are afraid to speak out, and when those in power do not listen. Oxfam have been condemned for not listening to demands that they do more to address sexual violence before the Haiti scandal hit the headlines. However, the net of blame needs to be cast wider than NGOs. Those at the top of the aid chain – donor governments – did not listen to warnings of wrongdoing. Donors do not have a good record of being proactive when presented with evidence of abuse. It has emerged that the Dutch Foreign Ministry was given an internal Oxfam report in 2012 detailing the use of prostitutes by staff in Haiti. No action appears to have been taken.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), was told by one of its own officials in 2008 that Roland van Hauwermeiren, the former Oxfam employee at the centre of the Haiti allegations, left another NGO following an investigation into sexual misconduct. Rather than take action, SIDA awarded more than £500k to Oxfam in Chad, where Van Hauwermeiren was county director. In the UK, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Charity Commission were told by Oxfam in 2011 that staff had been sacked for sexual misconduct, with assurances that no beneficiaries were involved. Priti Patel, former international development secretary, claims that she raised the issue of sexual violence with DFID officials, only for it to be “dismissed as only a problem with UN peacekeepers”.

My research into NGO regulation has led me to ask: do government donors create the impression that they will only fund organisations with glowing track records? NGOs that receive aid money are expected to complete detailed reports that assess measurable outcomes. I have interviewed several senior managers in leading NGOs who described how the pressure to demonstrate value for money drives a tick-box culture where all the incentives are to make the reports as positive as possible. Respondents felt there was very little tolerance for charities that make mistakes.

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There are still a few smart people left.

Bali Switches Off Internet Services For 24 Hours For New Year ‘Reflection’ (G.)

Internet services on Bali will go dark this Saturday, with providers switching off mobile services for 24 hours to mark the Indonesian island’s annual day of silence. Nyepi, or New Year according to the ancient Balinese calendar, is a sacred day of reflection on the Hindu-majority island. Even the international airport shuts down. This year authorities have called on telecommunications companies to unplug – a request Bali says firms have promised to honour. “It was agreed that internet on mobile phones will be cut. All operators have agreed,” Nyoman Sujaya, from the Bali communications ministry, told tirto.id. The plan, based on an appeal put forward by Balinese civil and religious groups, was announced following a meeting at the ministry in Jakarta.

This is the first time internet services will be shut down in Bali for Nyepi, after the same request was denied last year. However, wifi connection will still be available at hotels and for strategic services such as security, aviation, hospitals and disaster agencies. Phone and SMS services will be operational, but the Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association is reviewing whether wifi at private residences will be temporarily cut. Indonesia is one of the most connected nations on earth, with more than 132 million internet users. Balinese governor Made Pastika said it would not hurt to refrain from using the internet for one day. “If the internet is disconnected, people will not die,” he joked to reporters. “I will turn off my gadgets during Nyepi.”

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