Jan 012024
 
 January 1, 2024  Posted by at 9:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  48 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Vue de Notre-Dame de Paris 1945

 

Virginia Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit to Keep Trump from Ballot (CTH)
Seizure of Trump Phone Data Puts Jack Smith in Unprecedented Legal Waters (ET)
Trump Warns of Market Crash & Great Depression If He Loses White House Bid (ET)
Israeli Minister Makes Case For Depopulation Of Gaza (RT)
Trickery, Humiliation, Death and Timeless Hunger for Honor and Glory (Crooke)
Neo-Fascism Must Be Destroyed In 2024 – Medvedev (RT)
Putin Calls 2023 Year Russia Defended National Interests, Security
‘No Stomach’ in US to Continue Funding Ukraine – Ex-Pentagon Official (Sp.)
Scott Ritter: Belgorod Attack Meant to Provoke Russian Overreaction (Sp.)
Ex-CIA Officer Compares Ukrainian Officials to ‘Rats Fleeing Titanic’ (Sp.)
Reintegration Is a Natural Process for Donbass’ People (Leiroz)
Share of Dollar In Global Reserves Nosedives – IMF (RT)
Eurozone Economy Faces Bleak 2024 – FT (RT)

 

 

 

 

Aboli
https://twitter.com/i/status/1741232720263684464

 

 


RIP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Plaintiffs have totally failed to demonstrate how their alleged injuries are traceable to the conduct of defendants..”

Virginia Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit to Keep Trump from Ballot (CTH)

The leftist LAWFARE effort to use the federal and state court system to keep President Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot continues. However, in the most recent example, a Democrat appointed federal judge in Virginia has dispatched the effort.

(New York Post) – A federal judge in Virginia on Friday dismissed a lawsuit aimed at removing former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 primary ballot citing the insurrection clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. The complaint, filed by activists Roy Perry-Bey and Carlos Howard, alleged that Trump “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the US and should therefore be disqualified from seeking the office he once occupied. Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, found that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue to get Trump, 77, off the state’s primary ballot. “At least five additional federal courts have concluded that citizens attempting to disqualify individuals — including former President Trump — from participating in elections or from holding public office based on the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol lacked standing,” Brinkema wrote in her 13-page ruling. “Plaintiffs have totally failed to demonstrate how their alleged injuries are traceable to the conduct of defendants,” the judge added.”

No doubt the Lawfare effort will continue, as the predicate reason for the January 6th “insurrection” narrative continues to surface. Behind the scenes names like Norm Eisen, Barry Berke, Mary McCord, Andrew Weissmann, David Laufman and Benjamin Wittes continue promoting the Lawfare approach. Just as the DOJ and FBI were seeded with ideological lawyers intending to use the national security state and justice system to target their political opposition, the aligned private sector partners and activist groups continue the same effort from outside government.

Big Tech, social media companies, DHS, the DOJ and FBI are all deploying a comprehensive strategy to attack the foundation of our constitutional republic and replace it with a totalitarian dictatorship run by financial interests and collaborators inside government. It is going to get a lot uglier before the final conflict is resolved. Unfortunately, the professional Republican apparatus is a willful participant in the effort. Just as the Tea Party was targeted by Eric Holder and Barack Obama, using weaponized government (DOJ/IRS) with the support and willful blindness of the Republican political apparatus, so too is the America-First movement under constant attack by the same ideologues. The Republican politicians who remain in the primary race are not stupid, blind or naive. They are active and financially rewarded participants in the overall effort.

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“..destructive precedent for the presidency, as it seriously undermines the president’s ability to get his constitutionally protected, confidential and candid advice from his advisers.”

Seizure of Trump Phone Data Puts Jack Smith in Unprecedented Legal Waters (ET)

Special counsel Jack Smith revealed in recent court documents that he obtained data from former President Donald Trump‘s smartphone, which some experts say could provide a means to challenge the case in court on appeal. “The phone records may add to the unease of some judges and justices over the fight over presidential immunities and privileges,” Jonathan Turley, a professor who teaches constitutional law at George Washington University, told The Washington Times. He added that, “however, Smith has the Nixon case to cite for such demands in the investigation of possible criminal acts. What is clear is that the Court may be pushed into a major line-drawing decision over inherent presidential immunities.”

Jamil Jaffer, former associate White House counsel to former President George W. Bush, told the same outlet that the use of President Trump’s cellphone data “raises really hard, complex questions on an unprecedented set of facts.” But Mike Davis, founder and president of the Article III Project, added that the seizure of his data may have crossed “a red line,” adding that it sets a “destructive precedent for the presidency, as it seriously undermines the president’s ability to get his constitutionally protected, confidential and candid advice from his advisers.” The Smith team charged the 45th president earlier this year with four counts, claiming that he illegally tried to overturn the 2020 election. President Trump has denied wrongdoing, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and said it’s part of a longstanding witch hunt to denigrate his political chances in 2024.

Earlier this year, in court filings, the special counsel’s team said that federal investigators gained access to the former president’s phone and White House phone records. It’s not clear what exactly they obtained or how much of it. According to the filing, an individual only described as “Expert 3” had “extracted and processed data from the White House cell phones used by the defendant and one other individual (Individual 1),” referring to President Trump and another person who was not identified. Expert 3 also “specifically identified the periods of time during which the defendant’s phone was unlocked and the Twitter application was open on January 6,” it said. Heavily redacted documents released by the Department of Justice in November, meanwhile, revealed that prosecutors had attempted to gain all information related to President Trump’s Twitter, now X, account, which included who interacted with him, posts, mutes, and direct messages.

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“The stock market is only high because people & institutions believe & expect me to win the presidential election of 2024..”

Trump Warns of Market Crash & Great Depression If He Loses White House Bid (ET)

Former President Donald Trump predicted Friday that if he doesn’t win the 2024 presidential election, America will suffer the biggest stock market crash in history—followed by another Great Depression-style event. President Trump made the remark in a post on social media, in which he said the economy under President Joe Biden is in “terrible” shape as high inflation has hammered American households and eroded their buying power. “The only thing that is keeping the economy ‘alive’ is the fumes of what we accomplished during the Trump administration,” the former president wrote, adding that, by some measures, the cumulative level of inflation since he left office is over 30 percent.

Official government data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that prices have risen by around 17 percent since President Biden took office. However, an alternative measure of inflation that uses the same methodology that the government used to measure inflation in the 1980s puts this figure at roughly twice that figure, so over 30 percent. Even though President Biden’s economic advisers have pointed to cooling inflation and a robust job market as signs that his “Bidenomics” policies are working, there’s been a chorus of economic indicators suggesting otherwise. Some of those indicators include job openings falling to their lowest level since March 2021, new orders for U.S.-made goods suffering their sharpest drop in more than three years, and a closely watched factory activity gauge showing that U.S. manufacturing activity contracted in November for the 13th consecutive month.

Still, with markets expecting the Fed to hit the brakes on more interest hikes as inflation has eased in recent months, stock markets have risen and consumer sentiment saw an uptick in December. The benchmark S&P 500 is up around 24 percent in 2023 and hovering near its all-time high, while the Dow Jones recently rose to a record high. It’s a development President Trump attributed to expectations around next year’s election. “The stock market is only high because people & institutions believe & expect me to win the presidential election of 2024,” he wrote, before adding: “If I don’t win, it is my prediction that we will have a stock market ‘crash’ worse than that of 1929—a Great Depression.” The Wall Street crashes of late October 1929—known as Black Thursday, Black Monday, and Black Tuesday—were the worst in U.S. history.

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While we’re talking neo-fascism…

Israeli Minister Makes Case For Depopulation Of Gaza (RT)

The majority of the Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza should be encouraged to emigrate to other countries, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has said. He argued that drastic measures are needed to ensure Israel’s security and avoid further incursions by Hamas. “What needs to be done in the Gaza Strip is to encourage emigration,” Smotrich told Army Radio on Sunday. “If there are 100,000 or 200,000 Arabs in Gaza and not 2 million Arabs, the entire discussion on the day after will be totally different.” The leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party argued that a depopulated Gaza would no longer pose a threat to the Jewish state, given that the Palestinians living there under Hamas’ rule are “growing up on the aspiration to destroy the state of Israel.”

“Most of Israeli society will say ‘why not, it’s a nice place, let’s make the desert bloom, it doesn’t come at anyone’s expense,’” Smotrich said, as quoted by Reuters. He suggested that an international resettlement plan should be devised for the Palestinians who “have been forcibly held against their will in a ghetto for 75 years” and were raised on anti-Israeli propaganda. Up to 1.9 million people – or more than 85% of Gaza’s population – have been displaced since the Israeli Army launched an assault in response to the deadly Hamas attack on October 7, according to the UN. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) first urged people to flee the northern part of the Palestinian enclave, and eventually instructed those staying in the southern city of Khan Younis to relocate farther from the area of combat operations.

Israel continues to reject calls for an immediate ceasefire, despite repeated warnings from the UN about a humanitarian “catastrophe” in the enclave. Israeli officials and the IDF say Hamas bears full responsibility for civilian deaths and accuse the militant group of using civilians as human shields. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Saturday that “the war will continue for many months until Hamas is eliminated and the hostages are returned.” Israel declared war on Hamas and allied groups after the militants invaded the southern part of the country on October 7, leaving around 1,200 people dead and taking over 200 hostages. More than 21,600 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the fighting erupted, according to the local Hamas-run government.

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“Tens of thousands of Ukrainian young men had to die between March and now – for what?”

Trickery, Humiliation, Death and Timeless Hunger for Honor and Glory (Crooke)

One major theme of Homer’s Iliad – which somehow seems as fresh and as vivid today as when first written – is its description of how even the greatest of states in Western civilization fail to reclaim what they lose. “Attempts to repair one loss lead only to more losses”, Emily Wilson writes in her introduction to the Iliad (2023). “Loss can never be recouped.” As Wilson sets out her story, one cannot escape the analogy to today – to a Biden seeking to recoup the American ‘reputation’ (Kleos in Greek). In the case of leaders of the ancient world too, the goal of achieving undying kleos runs through the poem. Today, we might refer to it as one’s ‘legacy’. In the Iliad it is definitional and gives mortal leaders the chance to live on after death with honour and glory. For Team Biden, Ukraine was supposed to be their Troy.

Russia, like Hector, was tricked into a fight and (and as Team Biden had hoped) is killed under Troy’s walls. But in today’s world, it didn’t work out that way. And now the U.S. faces the humiliation of a clear Russian victory in Ukraine, and a collective Russian leadership that says it intends to retrieve all lands and cities that were culturally Russian. Western Ukraine, they say, can go ‘wherever it likes’. The military facts on the ground are relentless and cannot be undone. But the White House hopes to keep a morsel of kleos by simply having Ukrainian forces ceasing to fight, falling back onto defensive lines – yet never saying ‘defeat’. The kinetic component to the conflict barely would ‘tick over’ at low revs. And, as Gideon Rachman has written in the Financial Times, to “flip the narrative to one of [repeatedly insisting] that Putin has failed”. The aim being that Washington quietly can ‘steal away’.

Well, there are two big problems: First, Russia doesn’t agree; it doesn’t agree at all. And secondly, Zelensky and his associates were grievously tricked. Not in this case, by the goddess Athena, but by the mortal Messrs Johnson and Blinken. In March 2022 in Istanbul, Zelensky and his negotiators had reached an accord with Russia. But that agreement ‘was killed’ by Boris Johnson urging Zelensky to fight on, and to gain his portion of the ‘honour and glory’ by participating in the slaying of the Russian aggressor. “As long as it takes – and whatever it takes” was the solemn ‘oath’. That is, so to speak, Zelensky was promised an open cheque and whatever weaponry would be needed … So, what happened to that which is now gone? If this were the Iliad, the storyline would at least, in part, focus on Zelensky’s disappointment at his tiny ‘portion of life’. Wilson writes:

“Many of the words in the Iliad are often translated as fortune or fate – literally, these suggest we get a portion or share … It’s as if there is a whole side of beef that is a quantity of human life and each of us gets a particular portion of it, both how long we get to be alive and also our portion of honor and glory”. Zelensky will have wanted a portion of honour to compensate him for fate having dealt-out his present portion of life in an unfair way (i.e. by having been tricked by British and U.S. assurances). The public humiliation Zelensky now suffers will no longer be balanced by a large share of glory gained through a vanquished Moscow. In the Homeric vein, this lays the ground for an act of revenge on Biden – publication of the ‘deal’. When these details emerge – as surely they will (echoing perhaps, the mysterious and reputationally explosive war-time Churchill letters hinting to Mussolini at some ultimate kleos-esque outcome) – then the ‘victory narrative’ may become soured by the insistent question: Tens of thousands of Ukrainian young men had to die between March and now – for what?

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“..an ideology “Russia’s enemies are trying to rekindle” decades after it was dealt a powerful blow during World War II..”

Neo-Fascism Must Be Destroyed In 2024 – Medvedev (RT)

Defeating neo-fascism once and for all should be Russia’s “main goal” in the coming year, former President Dmitry Medvedev said in his New Year’s address on Sunday. The Russian people have already demonstrated unparalleled “strength of mind, will to victory and selflessness” in the outgoing year, he added. The nation’s “hearts and minds” go out to the soldiers on the front lines, Medvedev said, expressing his sincere gratitude to “everyone who defends our great motherland.” This year required “particular resilience and cohesion, determination and power,” as well as “true patriotism” from the Russian people, he added. The coming year should witness the “ultimate defeat” of neo-fascism, an ideology “Russia’s enemies are trying to rekindle” decades after it was dealt a powerful blow during World War II, the former president said.

Russia is now locked in a protracted conflict with Ukraine, which it accuses of promoting ultranationalist ideology and persecuting its Russian-speaking minority. This year saw Russian forces thwart Kiev’s major counteroffensive. The six-month-long operation launched in early June ended in failure with heavy losses on the Ukrainian side. Russian President Vladimir Putin also hailed the feats of Russian soldiers in his New Year’s address and called them “heroes.” The president also said the country had been “steadfast in defending our national interests, our freedom and security, [and] our values that have always been and remain our unshakeable pillar.” Medvedev, who now serves as the deputy head of Russia’s National Security Council and the Military-Industrial Committee, has repeatedly condemned what he called open glorification of Nazism in Ukraine and particularly pointed to an initiative calling for the establishment of the Stepan Bandera Order, which would supposedly be awarded to Ukrainian servicemen.

Bandera was a notorious leader of Ukrainian nationalists during World War II whose organization was responsible for mass killings of Jews and Poles in Ukraine. The former Russian president has also sharply criticized Kiev’s Western backers, calling them a “pro-Nazi coalition” in September. He also insisted Moscow should take a tougher approach to Kiev. On Thursday, he stated that the removal of the Western-backed government of President Vladimir Zelensky is an undeclared but a “most important and inevitable goal” of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Moscow’s goals also include “the disarmament of Ukrainian troops and the rejection of the ideology of neo-Nazism by the current Ukrainian state,” he added at that time.

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“We are together, and this is the most reliable guarantee of Russia’s future..”

Putin Calls 2023 Year Russia Defended National Interests, Security

2023 was the year Russia firmly defended its national interests. This is how Russian President Vladimir Putin characterized the outgoing year in his televised address Sunday. “We are seeing off 2023, very soon it will become part of history, and we must move forward to create the future,” Putin said. “In the outgoing year, we worked hard and accomplished a great deal, were proud of our common achievements, rejoiced at our successes and remained firm in the defense of our national interests, our freedom and security, our values, which have been and remain an unshakable pillar of support for us,” Putin said.

The president characterized Russians’ concern for Russia’s fate as the main factor which unites the country, saying people have “a deep understanding of the tremendous significance of the historical stage through which Russia is passing” through, and the “colossal responsibility” for the motherland which each Russian feels. “We will ensure the confident development of the fatherland, the well-being of our citizens, and will become even stronger. We are together, and this is the most reliable guarantee of Russia’s future,” Putin said. In the USSR and later Russia and other post-Soviet countries, the tradition of an annual televised New Year’s address just shy of midnight on December 31 began under Leonid Brezhnev in 1971, and was continued by Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev (from 2008-2012) and Vladimir Putin again from 2013 on.

In many families, watching the address as midnight nears has become a firmly established tradition, with between 45 and 55 percent of Russians tuning in to watch each year. Sunday’s address was the second time Putin addressed Russians amid the ongoing full-scale NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. In last year’s address, Putin called 2022 a “year of difficult but necessary decisions,” and “of important steps towards Russia’s full sovereignty and a powerful consolidation of our society” in the face of Western attempts to “cynically use Ukraine and its people as a means to weaken and divide Russia.”

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“We have got to worry about our whether our government is even going to be open for business..”

‘No Stomach’ in US to Continue Funding Ukraine – Ex-Pentagon Official (Sp.)

The reality is that there is “no stomach” any longer in the West to fund Ukraine and the ongoing proxy conflict against Russia there, Michael Maloof, a former Pentagon official, told Sputnik. The Kiev regime is going to have to seriously consider some form of negotiation and look at the realities, he emphasized. “The United States has their appropriations hung up. The US government could shut down by January 17 if the administration and Congress can’t negotiate and work out an arrangement for funding Ukraine and Israel, but at the same time to enforce the border. I think the Republicans to date have held firm, and we’ll see if they’ll hold on. But there’s no stomach right now any longer to fund the Ukrainians. Frankly, the people see that the war is over.

Basically, the [Ukrainian] counteroffensive failed, and there’s no way that they can pick it back up and turn things around, because they’ve gone into total defensive mode. The so-called counteroffensive just does not exist,” said Maloof. Earlier, the US Congress adjourned for the winter holiday break without reaching a deal on security at the US border with Mexico and additional aid for Ukraine. Republican lawmakers have insisted on the inclusion of more stringent border security measures in the Biden administration’s $106 billion supplemental funding request, which includes more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine. US Senator Chris Murphy said that negotiators hope to have a deal to present to senators by the time they return on January 8.

Looking ahead, Michael Maloof predicted there was going to be a quite “tumultuous” start to 2024 in the United States. “We have got to worry about our whether our government is even going to be open for business,” he pointed out, adding that “there is a second tranche in February that would shut down as well if they have not reached a resolution on funding the government agencies the way the House has dictated.” Furthermore, funding not only for Ukraine, but also for Israel is going to feed into the internal debate, the pundit suggested, because the United States is “pretty fed up” with the extent to which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blown up the current cycle of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Besides the death of so many civilians in Gaza amid Israel’s war on Hamas, Netanyahu “appears to be trying to pick a fight with the Iranians, and this whole thing could explode,” the expert warned. “I guess he [Benjamin Netanyahu] thinks he can go ahead and start raising all kinds of havoc not only with Iran, but also with Hezbollah up north. So are we going to help fund all of that? I mean, that’s the big question. And I don’t think there’s any stomach for that, considering that, you know, we are entering an election year,” said the former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense.

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“..this was a clear-cut case of the indiscriminate use of military weapons against exclusively civilian targets – a war crime in the extreme..”

Scott Ritter: Belgorod Attack Meant to Provoke Russian Overreaction (Sp.)

24 people were killed and over 100 others injured in the Russian city of Belgorod in a Ukrainian guided missile and MLRS artillery strike Saturday. Russia retaliated by striking “decision-making centers” in neighboring Kharkov Sunday. Veteran military observer Scott Ritter outlines the calculations Kiev likely made in plotting the Belgorod attack. The death toll from the attack on Belgorod continues to rise as doctors fight for the lives of civilians gravely injured during Saturday’s brazen daylight attack on the city center. The Russian military made good on a promise to retaliate, with the MoD reporting Sunday that its forces had launched missile strikes against Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate, Ukrainian Security Service, military and mercenary targets in Kharkov, Khmelnytsky and Zaporozhye.

Security sources told Russian media Sunday that President Zelensky had “personally” ordered Main Intelligence Directorate chief Kyrylo Budanov to strike Belgorod, with the attack said to be carried out by personnel from the Kraken Regiment, a Ukrainian military volunteer unit under the command of avowed ultranationalist Sergey Velichko. Kraken militants were among the forces targeted during Russia’s retaliatory attacks, the MoD said. There will also be a response to all crimes. Ukraine will continue to be strengthened, our defense industry will become more powerful,” Ukrainian Presidential Office head Andrii Yermak wrote in a cryptic social media post Saturday night, just hours after the Belgorod attack, perhaps referring to the fact that the Vilkha missile launcher believed to have been used to target the city is a Ukrainian-made weapons system.

Ukrainian and Western media assured that the Belgorod strikes were aimed only at “military targets,” and that they were a retaliation to Friday’s massed Russian airstrikes across the country. “The Ukrainians claim to fire against military targets, but the use of cluster munitions and the targets they hit…indicate that this was a clear-cut case of the indiscriminate use of military weapons against exclusively civilian targets – a war crime in the extreme,” Scott Ritter told Sputnik in a video commentary responding to Saturday’s cluster bomb attack on Belgorod. “The timing of this, on the eve of a New Year – one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Russia, I think is designed to be both a psychological blow against the Russian people, and in striking such a blow to generate some sort of reaction by the Russian government that would allow Ukraine to create the case or restate the case to their Western allies for the need for continued financial and military support,” the former Marine and UN weapons inspector explained.

“To date, the Russian government has shown an ability to be very mature in their response, not to overreact. Russia has said that it will retaliate against those responsible in a time and place of their choosing. But the bottom line is, as we go into the new year, we see Ukraine becoming increasingly desperate. They’re being abandoned by the West and they’re doing their best to create some sort of catastrophic event that can recapture the imagination of the West, but to no avail,” Ritter stressed. As for Kiev’s motive, Ritter believes it’s simple. “The purpose of this appears to be purely revenge. The day before, Russia had struck exclusively military targets in one of the largest-ever drone and missile barrages since the special military operation began. It embarrassed Ukraine, it showed that their defenses were totally inadequate and also sent a signal to the collective West that continuing to supply Ukraine with arms and munitions would be met with a Russian response. The Ukrainian response was to target Russian civilians,” he said.

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“..it’s like that scene from the movie Titanic. The passengers are moving one direction, the rats are moving the opposite way. That’s what’s going on in Ukraine right now. The rats are heading for the lifeboats.”

Ex-CIA Officer Compares Ukrainian Officials to ‘Rats Fleeing Titanic’ (Sp.)

Russian and independent media have been reporting on Ukraine’s harsh recruitment tactics since early 2022, when President Zelensky announced general mobilization. Nearly two years on and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian casualties later, legacy outlets are finally starting to catch up. Retired CIA intelligence analyst and former State Department official Larry Johnson has compared Ukraine to the Titanic as Ukrainian officials attempt to escape the country to avoid certain death in the Zelensky regime’s meat grinder military campaign against Russia. “The fact that the New York Times is now reporting this tells you how bad the situation is. They’ve realized that this party is over,” Johnson told Redacted host Clayton Morris on Saturday, referencing an unusually frank expose by the newspaper characterizing Ukraine’s recruiters as “people snatchers” and detailing their harsh, corrupt, and illegal practices, from the confiscation of fighting age men’s passports to attempts to recruit the mentally disabled.

“It goes to part of another story that came out last week about members of the Rada – the legislature. They’re trying to get out of Ukraine. So to get out of Ukraine at the border you’ve got to show a passport. So no passport, no leav[ing],” Johnson said. “The fact that the Ukrainian legislators recognize that the end is near, which is why they’re trying to get out, it’s like that scene from the movie Titanic. The passengers are moving one direction, the rats are moving the opposite way. That’s what’s going on in Ukraine right now. The rats are heading for the lifeboats.”

The Ukrainian president’s office was forced to take measures earlier this year to block officials and lawmakers from making “business trips” abroad after a series of scandals involving vacations to luxury resorts while ordinary Ukrainians are mired in conflict and trying to survive. Earlier this month, former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko complained that he too had been blocked from leaving the country on important “diplomatic work,” and called the decision to stop him “an anti-Ukrainian diversion” that would serve as a “blow to Ukraine’s defense capabilities.”

President Zelensky signed laws extending martial law and general mobilization last month, and in early December acknowledged a need for changes to the mobilization system to recruit even more conscripts. Last week, Ukraine’s military leadership proposed the mobilization of an additional 450,000-500,000 people, a task some US observers said may prove impossible as the country has already been drained of fighting-age men. Larry Johnson echoed these sentiments. “A lot of these guys they’re grabbing are like my age, you know 68, 58, they’re not exactly in the prime of their life and able to take an 80 pound ruck on their back and run across 5-10 kilometers,” he said. On top of that, many of these people have no military experience, he said.

Pointing to the recent admission even by Ukraine’s notorious military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov that the current mobilization strategy is bound to fail, Johnson suggested “this lets you know that this thing’s not gonna drag on for two-three years as some have predicted. The end is nigh. I think they’ll be lucky to make it to summer. Because you’ve got the political unrest, the intrigue that’s going on. Like [Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valery] Zaluzhny coming out saying ‘my office was bugged’. That’s like a whole Russian nesting doll right there,” he said. “The story is another indicator of the growing chaos within the Ukrainian government, and the decreasing ability of the United States to control those events,” the observer summarized.

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“We are and will always be Russians by blood, but we could be Ukrainian citizens as well. However, they never gave us any chance..”

Reintegration Is a Natural Process for Donbass’ People (Leiroz)

According to the Western mainstream media, the New Regions of the Russian Federation are “captured” territories. It is said that Moscow “annexed” these areas without taking into account the legitimate interests of the local population. It has become commonplace to say that the 2022 referendums are “illegitimate” and cannot be recognized under international law. The high number of pro-Russian votes are often used as an argument in the West to suggest that the electoral process was fraudulent and manipulated. However, analysis on the ground brings another perspective to observers. On a recent journalistic trip to Donbass, I was able to see how local residents are dealing with the process of reintegration into Russia – and the first possible conclusion is that the Western media is lying about the topic.

I was in the People’s Republic of Lugansk in early December. In that region, the process of adaptation to the new political reality of Donbass – as oblasts of the Russian Federation – is occurring in a completely natural way. For the locals, there is no difficulty in becoming part of Russia – frankly, it seems that nothing has changed for them. Talking to residents of Lugansk, I heard from all of them that being part of Russia is not something “new”. They say that, being ethnic Russians, they have always felt as part of Russia, with the 2022 referendums being a mere bureaucratic formality. The feeling of belonging to Russia has always been a central aspect in the culture of the people of Donbass, which is why there is no difficulty in “adapting” to the region’s new political reality.

Furthermore, local civilians say that life has improved rapidly. According to them, during the years under Kiev’s control, Donbass was “abandoned” – marginalized and excluded from Ukrainian society. Evidence of this exclusion can easily be seen in the region’s infrastructure itself. Roads and buildings are generally either very old or very new. The new ones were built by the Russians since military liberation, while the old ones date back to the Soviet era. When asked about investments in infrastructure during the years of Ukrainian control, locals claim that nothing had been done.

To harm the economy and generate poverty and social instability in Russian-speaking regions, the Ukrainian government deliberately promoted deindustrialization and damaged local infrastructure for years. For example, mining has always been the main economic activity in Donbass, being a region known for coal and iron exploration. However, with the aging of Soviet machinery and the lack of investment by the Ukrainian government, mining productivity in the region was severely affected, harming the lives of many local workers. In a talk with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lugansk, Vladislav Deinego, I heard from him that the promotion of deindustrialization was a strategy by Kiev to affect the Donbass’ people. In fact, although persecution and ethnic cleansing began only in 2014, marginalization against Russian speakers had already been a common practice in Ukraine since the end of the USSR.

In practice, the residents of Donbas never had a chance to feel part of Ukraine. Even though they are ethnically Russian, they could peacefully integrate into Ukrainian society, merging Russian ethnicity with Ukrainian citizenship – in the same way as happens in countries like Belarus. But it seems that this peaceful coexistence was never the desire of the Ukrainian elites. Russians were mistreated and persecuted in Ukraine – and then had no alternative but to seek to be part of the Russian Federation. “We are and will always be Russians by blood, but we could be Ukrainian citizens as well. However, they never gave us any chance,” says a local who I interviewed on the streets of Lugansk. He added: “All the changes [since the reintegration] were for the better. Now we have peace, employment, and security – what we didn’t have in Ukraine. But we always felt part of Russia – this is nothing new.”

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Giant amounts.

Share of Dollar In Global Reserves Nosedives – IMF (RT)

The US dollar’s share of global central bank reserves has continued to decrease, nosediving to 59.2% in the third quarter of 2023, according to the latest data released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The decline comes amid the de-dollarization trend gaining momentum across the globe. IMF statistics show the greenback’s share is down from roughly 70% in 2000. The dollar remains the world’s leading reserve currency with the euro coming second, while the latter’s share has slid to 19.6%. The Japanese yen’s proportion of world reserves grew to 5.5% from 5.3% in the previous three-month period. The Chinese yuan, British pound, Canadian dollar and Swiss franc were little changed.

Meanwhile, according to data compiled by global financial messaging service SWIFT, the yuan’s share of international payments hit a record high in November, with the renminbi becoming the fourth most used currency worldwide. Cross-border yuan lending has risen as well, while the People’s Bank of China holds over 30 bilateral currency swaps with foreign central banks, including Saudi Arabia and Argentina. The growing share of the yuan in cross-border transactions reflects China’s trend of shifting away from the dollar, as well as Beijing’s efforts to promote the use of the renminbi, according to SWIFT.

The global trend towards using national currencies in trade instead of the US dollar began to gain momentum last year, after Ukraine-related sanctions saw Russia cut off from the Western financial system and its foreign reserves frozen. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has warned that Russia’s growing trade in the Chinese yuan as a response to Western sanctions could potentially erode the strength of the US dollar. Economists have been also indicating that Western trade restrictions have led to an increased usage of the Chinese yuan globally at the expense of the greenback.

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What happens when you deindustrialize..

Eurozone Economy Faces Bleak 2024 – FT (RT)

The 20-nation euro currency bloc is expected to see only moderate economic growth, +0.6% in 2024, according to the results of a survey carried out by the Financial Times among 48 economists. The outlooks issued by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are more optimistic, as analysts from the institutions expect the bloc’s economy to grow 0.8% and 1.2% in 2024, respectively. The experts polled by the FT said that the Eurozone economy won’t be able to exceed 0.6% growth in spite of the fact that wages are expected to grow faster than inflation. Two thirds of the respondents said that they see the economy in the euro area slip into a recession. commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction. According to the economists, wage growth in the single currency area is set to total only 4% in 2024, while consumer prices are projected to rise by over 2.5% on average next year and slightly below 2.1% in 2025.

The ECB had previously forecast wages and inflation next year to grow 4.6% and 2.7% respectively, which would mark the growth of real household incomes for the first time in three years. The regulator expects consumer prices to grow 2.1% in 2025. Meanwhile, unemployment is projected to rise from a record eurozone low of 6.5% in October to 6.9% at the end of next year, according to most economists polled. High interest rates, probable energy market turmoil and geopolitical instability are expected to lead to a deeper recession, the economists warned, saying that the potential election of Donald Trump as US president along with the possibility of Ukraine losing the military conflict with Russia could send the single currency bloc into a period of even weaker growth.

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Raven

 

 

Great white

 

 

Windshield

 

 

Deep sea squid
https://twitter.com/i/status/1741456039495483779

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

May 232023
 


Leonardo da Vinci Lady with an Ermine c. 1489-91

 

Peace Plans Are ‘Absolutely Wrong’ – UK PM (RT)
Austria Calls For Dialogue With Russia (TASS)
Hungary Opposes New EU Sanctions, Military Assistance To Ukraine (TASS)
Ukraine Won’t Join NATO Anytime Soon – Scholz (RT)
Fade to Black in Ukraine (Kunstler)
Chinese Delegation Visits Moscow For ‘Security Consultations’ (RT)
Russia Can Conduct Its Special Op For A Long Time – German Intel Chief (TASS)
No One Knows Who Blew Up Nord Stream – German Intel Chief (TASS)
Ukrainian Sabotage Attack On Belgorod Region (TASS)
The Western Media Disinformation Campaign: Fall of Bakhmut (Doctorow)
Russia Issues Dire Warning After US Approves Ukrainian Strikes On Crimea (ZH)
US ‘Highly Likely’ To Default – Yellen (RT)
Democrats Beg Biden to Make Them Constitutional Nonentities (Turley)
The Idiotic 14th Amendment Argument (Denninger)
GOP Pushes Back Against WHO Plans for ‘Global Governance’ (ET)

 

 

@RealPepeEscobar Waiting list for BRICS+: at 25 – and counting.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi, Senegal, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkiye, UAE, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

 

 

Nap Macgregor

 

 

 

 

Zelensky Bakhmut

 

 

Wilkerson
https://twitter.com/i/status/1660661957626826753

 

 

Blind Obama

 

 

Great Awakening

 

 

RFK jr

 

 

@WarClandestine: As Bakhmut falls and Ukraine’s air defenses are depleted, you’ll notice Zelensky is STILL not in Ukraine. Since May 3rd, he has been in Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, and now off to Japan for the G7 Summi.t He’s hiding.

 

 

 

 

Warmonger midget Sunak.

Peace Plans Are ‘Absolutely Wrong’ – UK PM (RT)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has shot down calls for a ceasefire in Ukraine, declaring that Kiev should keep fighting for as long as it takes to get the peace “it deserves.” Ukraine’s British and American backers have rejected calls for peace on multiple occasions before. In a session of parliament on Monday, Sunak was asked by former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn whether he agreed with a ceasefire initiative put forward by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and backed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Pope Francis. Corbyn added that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva stated earlier on Monday that “a ceasefire is not a peace,” but without one, “this war will go on and get worse and worse.”

“I could not disagree with him more,” Sunak replied. “A ceasefire is not a just and lasting peace for Ukraine. Russia has conducted an illegal and unprovoked invasion … and the right and only response to that is for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.” “All plans masquerading as peace plans,” he continued, “are in fact attempts just to freeze the conflict where it is, are absolutely wrong and they should be called out.” Sunak’s position is in line with that of the US, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in December that any ceasefire that involved freezing battle lines would lead to “a phony peace.” At the time, Sunak stated that a ceasefire would be “completely meaningless,” and that the UK would only accept the withdrawal of Russian troops from “conquered territory.”


Ukraine considers the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye – which voted to join the Russian Federation last year – its territories, and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has vowed to bring all four back under Kiev’s control. Zelensky has also promised to recapture Crimea, which voted to join the Russian Federation in 2014. However, American military officials have publicly stated that retaking Crimea is beyond Ukraine’s capability, and Kiev’s long-anticipated spring counteroffensive against Russian forces has thus far failed to materialize. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military suffered the destruction of more than two dozen of its brigades in the city of Artyomovsk/Bakhmut since last October, only to lose the city to the Wagner private military company over the weekend. Nevertheless, Sunak claimed in parliament that Russian forces are “failing on the battlefield,” and declared – as he and US President Joe Biden have on many occasions – that he would “stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

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“..Vienna continued to communicate with Moscow through informal channels..”

Austria Calls For Dialogue With Russia (TASS)

Vienna maintains an informal channel of communication with Moscow and calls for dialogue with Russia despite the Ukrainian conflict, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said. “The West should continue talking with Russia the way the US government is doing,” he pointed out in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper published on Monday. According to Schallenberg, international platforms such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations should be used for further talks with Russia. Austria’s top diplomat sees it as “the global responsibility” of Western countries. Schallenberg emphasized that Vienna continued to communicate with Moscow through informal channels. “Russia has not disappeared from the map, remaining the EU’s biggest geographical neighbor and the world’s major nuclear power,” he added.

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Keep your foot down this time.

Hungary Opposes New EU Sanctions, Military Assistance To Ukraine (TASS)

Budapest opposes a number of key provisions in the 11th package of sanctions on Russia developed by the European Commission and will not support giving any additional military assistance from the European Peace Facility until its OTP Bank is taken off of Ukraine’s list of international war sponsors, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday. He recalled that EU countries want to increase military assistance to Ukraine from the European Peace Facility to the tune of 500 million euro. “We demand the Ukrainians remove OTP from the list of international war sponsors. Until that happens, we will not give our consent to allocate these 500 million euro to EU countries as compensation for their spending on weapons to Ukraine,” he told Hungarian journalists during a break in the meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

The top diplomat’s press conference was broadcast live on his Facebook page (Facebook is banned in Russia due to its ownership by Meta, which has been designated as extremist). On May 4, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention put Hungary’s OTP Bank Group, which continues to operate in Russia, on the list of international sponsors of war. Szijjarto slammed this decision as “scandalous and unacceptable.” As of today, he stressed, Hungary’s largest bank, OTP, “had not violated a single national or international law” and its blacklisting in Ukraine is absolutely illegal. The top Hungarian diplomat also recalled that his country’s government was against weapons supplies to Ukraine in general and would not budge from this position. “Weapons supplies are fraught with the risk of escalating the war and the longer this war continues, the more people will die,” he stressed.

Touching on the 11th package of anti-Russian sanctions, which was also a topic of discussion for the EU foreign ministers, the Hungarian minister noted, “Brussels should have learned a lesson from the consequences of the sanctions.” “Sanctions are more harmful to Europe than they are to Russia and I think that the 10th package of sanctions should not be followed by an 11th, which would turn out to be a true test for Europe in general and the economy of European countries,” he said, adding that Hungary opposed additional restrictions for European companies in terms of trading in Russian goods, as well as sanctions on Chinese companies suspected of cooperating with Russia. He also reiterated that Hungary will oppose any EU sanctions that would restrict cooperation with Russia in the field of nuclear energy. “Despite the pressure that’s being exerted on us, we will strongly oppose any kind of sanctions affecting the nuclear industry, because that concerns Hungary’s energy security. In no case will we risk the security of Hungary’s energy supply,” he said.

Apart from that, Szijjarto stressed that Budapest will continue to demand that the Ukrainian authorities restore the rights of the Hungarian minority in the Zakarpattia Region. Until this problem is settled, Hungary will not support Kiev’s aspirations to integrate into the European Union, he pledged. Summing up the results of the ministerial meeting, the Hungarian minister noted that no decision had been made about using the European Peace Facility to further finance weapons supplies to Ukraine. “No decision on sanctions was made either,” he said. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said earlier on Monday that the 11th package of sanctions could be agreed before the next EU ministerial meeting in June. Talks on this topic continue. At the same time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has admitted that not only Hungary but a number of other countries object to the 11th package.

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The Germans are not ready to declare war on Russia.

Ukraine Won’t Join NATO Anytime Soon – Scholz (RT)

Ukraine will most likely not be able to become a NATO member state in the foreseeable future as it does not meet a number of requirements for admission yet, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said. Earlier this month, the head of the US-led military bloc, Jens Stoltenberg, declared that all member states had agreed to welcome Kiev, but only if and when it vanquished Moscow’s forces. In an interview with Germany’s Die Welt published on Monday, Scholz assessed that, for the time being, Ukraine’s Western backers should focus on helping the country “defend its land.” In the future, security guarantees for Kiev will also need to be discussed. “But we are a long way away from there,” he added.

When asked whether he would theoretically support Ukraine’s accession to NATO after its military conflict with Russia was over, the chancellor claimed that it was “clear to everyone that this doesn’t stand on the agenda anytime soon.” One of the reasons for that, according to Scholz, is that “there is a whole range of requirements belonging to NATO’s criteria that Ukraine can’t fulfill at present.” Earlier this month, dpa news agency, citing a YouGov poll, reported that some 54% of Germans oppose the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, with only 27% in favor. Meanwhile, also this month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Washington Post that “all NATO allies agree that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance.” He, however, refused to offer any timeline for this.


According to the official, the US-led military bloc is currently helping Kiev “transition from Soviet-era equipment, doctrines and standards” and become “interoperable with NATO forces.” In April, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed that most Europeans would disapprove if NATO did not extend a “well-deserved invitation” to join the alliance. The Ukrainian leadership made it clear that it expected to see progress on the issue during an upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania in July.

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“..our country is bypassing the banana republic stage of dissolution and depravity and steaming quickly into a Hieronymus Bosch dystopia..”

Fade to Black in Ukraine (Kunstler)

Well, the folks running things in America — that is, the scores of unelected bureaucratic satraps guarding their nests throughhout the Okefenokee inside-the-Beltway, especially the gator-pit known politely as the Intel Community — decided to subject Mr. Trump to a one-man version of the exquisite torment intended for Russia, Russia, Russia: pain, ignominy, and ruin. They’re still at it six years later, since the relentless Mr. Trump will not give up his crusade to take back the White House and defenestrate all those attempting to defenestrate him. His enemies have captured all the levers of legal power, and yet, amazingly, they can come up with nothing but the most rinky-dink charges to railroad him in captured jurisdictions.

This internal political conflict in the USA has driven the populace plumb insane, while it has rendered our institutions rancid and left us subject to a pathocracy hiding behind a laughably fake chief executive. After a year-plus of America’s genius scheme to maintain world dominance, Russia is doing really well, thank you, in constructing a geo-economic framework for trade that will not be subject to the pranks of USA-led Western Civ. Russia is a nation of people who regard themselves as men and women, the toils of gender confusion happily absent. Ditto race hustles. Ditto banking Ponzis. After two-plus years of “Joe Biden” — well, our country is bypassing the banana republic stage of dissolution and depravity and steaming quickly into a Hieronymus Bosch dystopia of financial, social, psychological and moral ruin. Every official utterance is a lie. Everything’s broken or breaking. And seemingly, on-purpose.


The nagging question, of course, is on whose purposes? And why is Mr. Zelensky flitting from one country to another the past month? Because the game of Let’s You and Him Fight is drawing to a close and Mr. Z may find himself fatally unpopular back on the home-front. He has managed to send upward of a hundred-thousand young Ukrainian men to their deaths in the meat-grinder, and perhaps a million more have hightailed it for other countries. Ukraine will now be a land of mostly women, children, and old folks — with just enough surviving soldiers left looking to hunt down the comedian who turned Ukraine into another one history’s sick jokes.

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“The high-profile security talks, which are held annually, are an “integral and in-demand element of the Russian-Chinese comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation..”

Chinese Delegation Visits Moscow For ‘Security Consultations’ (RT)

Top Russian and Chinese security officials met in Moscow on Monday to discuss cooperation between the two nations in various areas, the press service of Russia’s Security Council has said. “The prospects for joint efforts in the law enforcement sphere, in various areas of operational and service activities have been considered. Special attention was paid to plans for cooperation between the Russian Guard and the People’s Armed Police of China, as well as between financial intelligence [services],” the statement said.The talks involved an unspecified number of representatives of various ministries and government agencies of the two countries, according to the Russian side. The two sides discussed various issues, including “international information security,” as well as “contacts between supervisory and investigative bodies” of the two nations.

The Chinese delegation was led by Chen Wenqing, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo. He was recently named secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the country’s top security post with oversight of judges, police, and intelligence. Russia’s delegation was led by Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev. The high-profile security talks, which are held annually, are an “integral and in-demand element of the Russian-Chinese comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation,” the press service said. This was the second major Russia-China security event in just over a month. In mid-April, China’s newly appointed Defense Minister Li Shangfu visited Moscow, where he met his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu, President Vladimir Putin, and other top officials during a three-day stay in Russia.


Li said at the time that the trip was intended to underscore Beijing’s “firm determination to strengthen strategic cooperation between the militaries of China and Russia.” “After my appointment as the defense minister, my first visit is made to Russia in order to demonstrate to the outside world the high level of Chinese-Russian relations,” he said ahead of the talks with Shoigu.

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“..the intelligence service does not see that the conflict has somehow shaken the authority of the Russian state.”

Russia Can Conduct Its Special Op For A Long Time – German Intel Chief (TASS)

Russia is capable of continuing its military operation in Ukraine ‘for a long time’, President of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) Bruno Kahl said. “Russia, as before, remains capable of leading <…> [its special military operation] for a long time,” the DPA news agency quoted the intelligence chief as saying. Kahl also noted that the intelligence service does not see that the conflict has somehow shaken the authority of the Russian state. When asked whether the BND was aware that a military operation would certainly begin, he said: “Fourteen days before the start <…> [of the conflict] we recorded phenomena that could hardly be interpreted in any other way.”.

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Keep the questions alive. Forever.

No One Knows Who Blew Up Nord Stream – German Intel Chief (TASS)

No intelligence agency is currently able to clearly name those responsible for the Nord Streams sabotage, President of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) Bruno Kahl said. “No country, no intelligence agency in the world is currently able to attribute this (the Nord Streams sabotage – TASS) to anyone in particular,” he said, “Maybe this will change, there are some notable successes in the investigation.” Kahl recalled that the site of the sabotage is a seabed, which makes the work of investigators much more difficult. According to him, the investigation is being conducted “in different directions.” “I do not exclude that there will be a success that will make one of the options more likely and the others less likely,” the intelligence chief added. On May 21, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that at least two Ukrainians may have been involved in the explosions at the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines.


The German Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday did not comment on this information when asked by TASS. The agency said that the investigation is working on all the evidence to establish the facts, but it is impossible to provide additional data at the moment. In turn, State Secretary Steffen Hebestreit, commenting on the information of the Suddeutsche Zeitung, said that the German government does not intend to speculate about the perpetrators of the Nord Stream sabotage. On September 27, 2022, Nord Stream AG reported “unprecedented damage” on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines of the Nord Stream system. Later, Swedish seismologists said they had identified two explosions on the route of the Nord Stream pipelines on September 26, 2022. Following the incident, the Russian prosecutor general’s office opened a case on charges of international terrorism.

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Allegedly they sent in 50 men. 39 were killed, 5 arrested.

Ukrainian Sabotage Attack On Belgorod Region (TASS)

A Ukrainian sabotage group infiltrated the Grayvoron District of the Belgorod Region on Monday, regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. According to the latest data, the Russian military and security forces are taking measures to eliminate the enemy and are driving it away from the Russian territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been briefed about the situation. TASS has put together the highlights of what has been reported about the attack as of now.

– The infiltration by Ukrainian saboteurs was reported by Gladkov. He said the Russian military, border guards and the servicemen of the National Guard and the Federal Security Service are taking “necessary measures to eliminate the enemy.” – Before that, the governor said two people were injured in a shelling of the village of Glotovo of the Grayvoron District. He said one of the casualties, a woman, who suffered wounds from a mine explosion, had been taken to a hospital in serious condition. The other person, a man, was in a condition of medium gravity. – The Kremlin later confirmed that a Ukrainian sabotage group had tried to force its way into the Belgorod Region, and the group is now being driven away from the Russian territory and eliminated. – Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there are sufficient forces and equipment on the scene to combat the saboteurs. He said Putin had been briefed about the incident.


– Peskov said the goal of the sabotage attack is “to divert attention from the Bakhmut area and reduce to a minimum the political effect from the loss of Artyomovsk by the Ukrainian side.” The Russian Defense Ministry said into the night of May 21 that the town in Donbass had been fully liberated. – The Russian Defense Ministry has regularly reported stopping Ukrainian sabotage attacks in Russia’s new regions: The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. – The previous sabotage attack took place in the Bryansk Region on March 2. Two people were killed, and a boy with the date of birth in 2012 was wounded at the time. The boy was able to lead two girls that were nearby out of harm’s way. – Putin then called the attack on villages outside Bryansk a terrorist attack.

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“Given their losses in men and materiel defending Bakhmut, the surrender of the city to the Russians will be a great blow to Ukrainian fighting morale when it is finally admitted..”

The Western Media Disinformation Campaign: Fall of Bakhmut (Doctorow)

Midday yesterday, 20 May, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group which did most of the fighting for Bakhmut on the ground, claimed total victory. In the evening, President Vladimir Putin announced to the Russian public that Bakhmut was taken. Joyous messages of congratulations filled the internet message services in Russia as the broad public celebrated a victory as iconic as the Battle for Stalingrad. Meanwhile, the defenders of the Western public against Russian “disinformation” were hard at work, straining their brains to find what to say. This morning’s New York Times still speaks of the battle for Bakhmut as undecided, pointing yet again to the Ukrainian hold on the flanks.

Given their losses in men and materiel defending Bakhmut, the surrender of the city to the Russians will be a great blow to Ukrainian fighting morale when it is finally admitted. So will the fate of their Commander in Chief General Zaluzhny who, according to Russian sources, has been hospitalized for the past two weeks and remains in critical condition after falling victim to a Russian strike on a provincial command center which killed most of the high officers around him. If nothing else, this speaks to the amazing success of Russian military intelligence directing their firepower.

Meanwhile, Western media attention to Ukraine is conveniently redirected at the nonstop travels of President Zalensky who went from his European tour on to the Middle East, where he attended the meeting of the Arab League, and thence via French military jet to the G7 gathering in Hiroshima where he held talks with fellow heads of state and joined them for the obligatory group photos. All the talk was about when the U.S. will formally give its consent to the dispatch of F16s to Kiev. For the disseminators of Western disinformation this is a wonderful distraction from a war that clearly is going badly for Kiev and in particular a distraction from the counter offensive that looks less likely with each passing day of Russian military strikes on the command centers and weapons stores of the Ukrainian side.

The plume of radioactive smoke and ash that rose from the Khmelnitsky store of British depleted uranium artillery shells in Western Ukraine after a Russian missile strike, just like the extensive damage to the Patriot air defense installation near Kiev by a Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missile tell us all what will be the fate of future Western arms deliveries to Ukraine. It is an interesting question how much longer the Ukrainian military or politicians will put up with their high flying, good life President while the country is well on its way to hell.

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If Kiev attacks Crimea, Russia will flatten Kiev.

Russia Issues Dire Warning After US Approves Ukrainian Strikes On Crimea (ZH)

Russia has issued another stern warning related to further potential Ukrainian attacks on Crimea. “Strikes on this territory are considered by us as an attack on any other region of the Russian Federation. It is important that the United States is fully aware of the Russian response,” Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, warned Sunday. This was in response to an earlier weekend statement by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to CNN. He said while speaking from the G7 summit in Japan over the weekend, “we have not placed limitations on Ukraine being able to strike on its territory… What we’ve said is that we won’t enable Ukraine with US-systems to attack Russia. And we believe Crimea is Ukraine.” However, the US has consistently denied that it has OK’d Ukraine using US-supplied advanced weaponry to mount such attacks.

Antonov further stated on Telegram in response that “the unconditional approval of strikes on Crimea using American and other Western weapons” alongside the move among Western allies to supply Ukraine with jets “clearly demonstrate that the United States has never been interested in peace.” He warned the US administration against “thoughtless judgments on Crimea, especially in terms of ‘blessing’ the Kiev regime for air attacks” on the peninsula. Per Russian state media, other Kremlin officials weighed in even more forcefully, warning that even nuclear disaster could be the result: “Sullivan’s remarks likewise triggered outrage from Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Georgy Muradov, who opined that by allowing Ukraine to use US-made planes to target the peninsula, the White House had “agreed to unleashing a nuclear war.”


“The official recalled that Crimea hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. “An attack on one of the pillars of Russia’s strategic security legally obliges our country to use all available means to prevent it from being undermined.” Russia has also recently accused Ukrainian forces of using UK-supplied long range rockets which are capable of hitting inside Russia. This is also a cause for concern in terms of possible Russia-NATO direct escalation: “Storm Shadow missiles, which have a range of more than 250 kilometers, give Ukraine the capacity to strike well behind Russian front lines and as far as Moscow-occupied Crimea,” US state-funded RFERL underscores, while adding that “British media reports said Kyiv had promised not to use the missiles to strike inside Russia’s territory.”

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“Congress has raised borrowing limits 78 times since 1960.”

US ‘Highly Likely’ To Default – Yellen (RT)

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has doubled down on her warnings about the nation’s debt ceiling, saying the federal government will run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1 unless Congress enables it to increase borrowings. “It is highly likely that Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June, and potentially as early as June 1,” Yellen said on Monday in a letter to US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Yellen has repeatedly warned that Washington is headed for default on its financial obligations, barring additional borrowing authority from lawmakers, after the national debt soared to its $31.4 trillion statutory limit. The US Treasury is running out of cash after the national debt reached the cap in January.

“If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, it would cause severe hardship to American families, harm our global leadership position and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests,” Yellen told McCarthy, a California Republican. The Treasury secretary said it’s impossible to predict the exact date when the money will run out. The government will likely have to start choosing which bills go unpaid by June 15, if not sooner, Yellen said on Sunday in an NBC News interview. Major obligations include interest payments on existing borrowings, Social Security payments to elderly and disabled Americans, bills from defense contractors, and the paychecks of US military personnel and other government employees. The US government has a projected deficit of $1.4 trillion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, meaning its outlays exceed revenue by around $117 billion each month. The nation ran up $6.2 trillion in debt in its first 226 years of existence, then saw the total balloon fivefold in just the past two decades. Congress has raised borrowing limits 78 times since 1960.


McCarthy and President Joe Biden resumed talks on Monday, but so far failed to resolve the debt impasse. Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, have proposed increasing the debt cap by $1.5 trillion while reducing growth in federal spending to address the root cause of the crisis. The president has countered that he’s unwilling to negotiate on the debt ceiling, but he’s open to having a separate conversation about spending once the borrowing cap is raised. Past political clashes over the debt ceiling have shown that waiting until the last minute to reach a settlement can rattle markets, reduce consumer confidence, raise borrowing costs and threaten the nation’s credit rating, Yellen said in Monday’s letter. In fact, the Treasury’s debt costs have already increased for bonds maturing in June. “I continue to urge Congress to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by acting as soon as possible,” Yellen said.

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“These are rational leaders whose desire to nullify their own existence would have seemed entirely implausible to the Framers.”

Democrats Beg Biden to Make Them Constitutional Nonentities (Turley)

Roughly 25 years ago, many of us were shocked by the discovery of a home full of bodies of dozens of people laying in bunk beds, wearing jumpsuits and identical black-and-white Nike Decade sneakers. They were the members of the Heaven’s Gate cult who, with their leader, drank a lethal mix of phenobarbital and vodka to gain entry to “Heaven’s Gate” with the passing Hale-Bopp comet. Few of us could understand how rational people could believe their leader that it was necessary to shed their earthly bodies to gain access to an orbiting alien space craft. Few would buy such a pitch, but these people did. Some of the men even castrated themselves as a sign of their faith.

This week, Heaven’s Gate came to mind as I watched members of Congress line up to take a step that runs against every assumption of self-preservation in Madisonian democracy: They sought to make themselves nonentities. They called upon President Joe Biden to reject their very institutional existence, discard the separation of powers and unilaterally borrow and spend federal money. At one event, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released a letter to Biden on behalf of himself and nine Democratic senators “to urgently request that you prepare to exercise your authority under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.” He was joined in this by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), among others. Obviously, these are not Nike-wearing cultists, but that only makes their actions all the more inexplicable. These are rational leaders whose desire to nullify their own existence would have seemed entirely implausible to the Framers.

A presidential “power of the purse,” however, is a fiction, only marginally more credible than the Hale-Bopp comet’s power to whisk human souls away into space. Their argument for it is based on Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” The drafters of this amendment did not want Congress to simply dismiss its obligations to pay off the Union’s debts from the Civil War. Although the amendment is not limited to those debts, it has nothing to do with debt ceilings set by Congress. Default, after all, is not a denial of the validity of debt, but rather a refusal or failure to pay debts in time despite their validity.

Courts have long left it to the political branches to work out such differences in what is often a game of chicken with default. Moreover, as University of Virginia law professor Saikrishna Prakash recently pointed out, there is more than enough federal revenue coming in each month for Biden to avoid default by paying the interest on the debt under existing federal law. That may cause temporary problems for other spending priorities — acute problems, even — but it hardly rises to the level of a constitutional crisis. Instead, these senators are suggesting that a president does not need congressional approval to borrow and spend trillions of dollars, even though the Constitution explicitly grants both of those powers to Congress alone. They also claim that, by demanding budget cuts as a condition of permitting further borrowing, the House is violating the 14th Amendment.

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“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned”

The Idiotic 14th Amendment Argument (Denninger)

Can we stop with the crazy? Here’s the clause that has CNN and a bunch of other wide-eyed nuts salivating: Section 4: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.” Key: Authorized by law.

All spending must originate in the House (per the Constitution.) However, Congress is the source of such limitation as well, and nothing in that clause — or anywhere else in the Constitution says that Congress may not bind the execution of said spending based on the receipt of taxes to offset any debt that may otherwise be required. This is the same thing your bank does. You have $100,000 of income. You also have a credit card with a $20,000 credit line. If you keep invading it on the premise that you expect to earn $110,000 this year, because you are paid partially on commission or bonus, the bank can refuse to increase the line if that income does not materialize. Thus, when you reach the $20 large that’s all there is.

Likewise you can execute a Will that says “you get $1 million dollars provided you take care of my dog, including anything it may require to be healthy and live its best life, until its natural death.” This a two-part test and it is perfectly legal. This sort of clause is literally all over estate plans and business contracts: You get X provided you do both Y and Z. If you do not wish to do either of Y or Z then you don’t get X. Congress has done this by enacting the debt ceiling. Neither Congress or the Executive can accurately predict how much tax revenue will come in. Taxes, of course, come from economic activity; no activity, no taxes. The CBO projects that revenue will be “X” and so does Treasury, but those are guesses because they rely on things that have not yet occurred and as such are inherently inaccurate.

Congress has set in place a two-part system for this. The first is Appropriations, which are authorizations to spend and levies to be taxed. The second is the debt ceiling, which is a hard limit on the difference between the two over time. No, Treasury cannot go around this by claiming something in the 14th Amendment makes the Appropriation sacrosanct. Congress has the authority under the Constitution, and has exercised it, to control the purse. To be enabled by law and thus immune from being questioned, debt that is issued by Treasury must be (1) issued for an appropriated purpose AND (2) be within the debt ceiling in effect at the time of said issue. If it is then under the 14th Amendment it is valid.

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Does the WHO really think it can push this through?

GOP Pushes Back Against WHO Plans for ‘Global Governance’ (ET)

House Republicans took to the podium on May 17 to condemn the Biden administration’s negotiation of global pandemic agreements that they say will grant additional power to the World Health Organization (WHO) and centralize authority in an organization they say failed the American public during the COVID pandemic. Shortly thereafter, on May 19, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a report to member nations stating that, while the “re-emergence of epidemic-prone diseases continues to accelerate,” the WHO’s mandate regarding “health emergencies” must extend beyond pandemics to include hunger, poverty, ecological degradation, climate change, and social and economic inequalities.

Kolakusic
https://twitter.com/i/status/1660567427778838528

The Director General wrote that member nations must establish a “global architecture for health emergency preparedness, prevention, response, and resilience (HEPR),” which includes “global governance, financing and HEPR systems.” But GOP lawmakers disagreed with the WHO. “International law does not trump our Constitution,” Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) said at a Capitol press conference. “Biden cannot force Americans to follow laws and regulations not passed by our own federal government.” “The World Health Organization pandemic treaty is very vague, it affects our sovereignty, and it could be exploited to tell Americans what kind of health care they need in the event of a global pandemic,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) said. The public forum was organized by Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and included 18 House members.


Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, on behalf of the United States, is currently negotiating terms of the WHO Pandemic Accord, which is scheduled to be signed by the 194 WHO member nations in 2024, as well as amendments to International Health Regulations (IHRs), also under the auspices of the WHO. In sum, these negotiations are intended to produce legally binding treaties and agreements that will coordinate a united response among member nations during a “health emergency,” with much of the decision-making authority vested in the WHO. According to these agreements, the WHO would have the authority to, for example, declare when a pandemic is in effect and to coordinate medical supply chains to ensure equitable distribution among member nations. The agreements also speak to global coordination between the WHO and national health authorities like the CDC to set health policies, and coordination among governments on issues like fighting “misinformation.”

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Heliconia rostrata (also known as hanging lobster claw or false bird of paradise) is an herbaceous perennial plant with peculiar downward-facing flowers

 

 

Cat walk

 

 

 

 

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