May 192022
 


Jack Delano Diner along U.S. Highway No. 1 near Berwyn, Maryland 1940

 

The American Cause in Ukraine: Freedom or Empire? (Drake)
Western Leaders Tied To Ukraine Bioweapons Labs (Woltz)
Major NATO War Games Set to Begin Miles From Russian Base (LI)
Third of Global Population Killed in Next War Cycle – Charles Nenner (USAW)
Biden’s ‘Disinformation’ Clown Show ‘Paused,’ Scary Poppins Resigns (Celente)
Mortality Among White-Collar Workers Jumped 24% Between 2020 and 2021 (ET)
Gates, Fauci Funded Experiments on Bird Flu (Mercola)
Why Were So Many Adverse Events Reported as ‘Unrelated’ to Vaccine? (CHD)
Sussmann Is Receiving Every Consideration Denied To Flynn (Turley)
Juror Donations, Judge’s Family Ties At Sussmann Trial (JTN)
Clinton Campaign Lawyer Elias Testifies In 3rd Day Of Sussmann Trial (JTN)
Clintonworld Steps Away From Black Lives Matter (WE)
Elon Musk Announces He Will Vote Republican (JTN)
Twitter Wants to Close Deal ‘Promptly’ and on ‘Agreed Price’ (ET)
Half of President Biden’s Twitter Followers Are Fake (JTN)
Hunter Biden’s Hollywood Lawyer Teases Counter-offensive vs Trump Allies (CBS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important

 

 

More on abortion

 

 

“The Russian GDP declined by two-thirds from 1989 to 2000.”

The American Cause in Ukraine: Freedom or Empire? (Drake)

On the principle that historical analysis requires an attempt to understand the motives of all sides in a war, the Russian argument deserves a fair hearing. Roy Medvedev, one of Russia’s most distinguished historians and long a supporter of Vladimir Putin, gave an interview on March 2, 2022, to the Corriere della Sera. The ninety-six-year-old Medvedev succinctly expressed the Kremlin view of the Ukraine crisis as a clash involving far more than Putin’s concern about NATO expansion to his country’s borders. The metastasizing of NATO illustrated but did not define for Russia the fundamental issue, which had to do with the failure of America to understand that the unipolar moment of its rules-based order had ended. The time had come for a paradigm shift in international relations.

As an example of the American hegemony’s failures, Medvedev commented on the effects of Washington’s supervisory role in Russia’s transition to capitalism. He was referring to the misery befalling Russia at Cold War’s end and astringently described by the Nobel Prize-winning Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz in Globalization and Its Discontents (2002). In general, Stiglitz could find nothing moral or competent in the way globalization had been imposed upon the world by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the U.S. Treasury Department. Globalization had turned into an enrichment scheme for international elites implementing and benefitting from the neoliberal Washington Consensus.

When Stiglitz came to discuss the Russian economy’s American-led post-Cold War reconfiguration, which evolved along lines pleasing to the Chicago School of true-believing free-market capitalists, he showed in copious detail what Medvedev was alluding to in his interview with Italy’s leading newspaper. This crash course in free market economics had produced a harrowing increase in the nation’s poverty. The Russian GDP declined by two-thirds from 1989 to 2000.The standard of living and life expectancy fell while the number of people in poverty rose. Levels of inequality grew as oligarchs took advantage of insider information to strip the country of its assets, which they invested not in Russia, but in the U.S. Stock Market. Billions of dollars poured out of the country along with a swelling emigration of talented and educated young people who could see no future for themselves there.

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“Why are these top Western military leaders running dangerous (and illegal) bioweapons operation in Ukraine?”

Western Leaders Tied To Ukraine Bioweapons Labs (Woltz)

A military officer’s oath is for life, so one could rightly suspect that the crapstorm Trudeau’s Trevor Cadieu, The Biden Crime family’s, Admiral Eric Thor Olson, and BoJo’s LTC John Bailey just stirred up, was with their consent. Numerous headlines read, “U.S. Admiral Surrenders to Russia in Mariupol, Ukraine.” What they missed is that U.S. Lt. Gen. Roger Cloutier was also captured at Azovstal and is now headed for Moscow to be put on trial as an international terrorist as well. “Reports have been circulating much of today (Sunday, May 15, 2022) claiming that a U.S. Military Commander surrendered to Russian forces from the Azovstal Steel Mill in Mariupol, Ukraine.”

Not to be outdone in international Bioweapons Crimes against humanity, Boris Johnson’s lad, British Lieutenant Colonel, John Bailey—and four NATO military instructors—also surrendered to the Russian troops Sunday past from the depths of the Neo-Nazi tunnels beneath Azov Steel (Azovstal). There is also news of other officers still hiding in the tunnels under Azovstal—along with an estimated 600 Ukraine Neo-Nazis who can expect less cordial treatment by the Russian courts than the western brass. Russian tribunals will hold them responsible for the 14,000 dead Russian-speaking souls in Eastern Ukraine murdered by these men since 2014. Why are these top Western military leaders running dangerous (and illegal) bioweapons operation in Ukraine? I think the question answers itself.

The World Economic Forum’s ‘Great Reset’ glommed onto by the Bidens, the Trudeaus, the Johnsons, the Morrisons Down Under, Ardern in Kiwiland—as well as the Brussels crew in Europe—are losing. Their pandemic was not only ineffective in killing most of ‘us’ (so far) but their dirty bomb plot/bioweapons release from Ukraine planned for March 8th of this year was also a dud.

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“A flurry of additional war games are planned for Germany, Finland, Poland and elsewhere in the coming months.”

Major NATO War Games Set to Begin Miles From Russian Base (LI)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will soon conduct large-scale exercises in the Baltics, with thousands of troops from more than a dozen nations set to take part in war games just 40 miles from the nearest Russian military base. Dubbed “Hedgehog,” the drills will kick off later this week in Estonia and run until June 3, meant to simulate a Russian invasion. They will involve 15,000 troops from 14 countries – including the United States, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway, as well as non-NATO members Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden and Finland.

According to Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, deputy commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, the exercise will take place just 40 miles from a Russian military base, a facility hosting Moscow’s 76th Guards Air Assault Division in the border city of Pskov. The size of the war games – among the largest in the Baltics since the fall of the USSR – their proximity to the Russian border, and the inclusion of non-NATO states are likely to escalate tensions with Moscow. Though the exercises were planned before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, they will no doubt serve as an additional show of force as NATO members flood the Ukrainian battlefield with billions of dollars in weapons and gear.

The drills come as US lawmakers move ahead on a massive $40 billion aid package for Kiev, around half of which will be devoted to arms shipments. That bill follows more than $14 billion in aid already delivered or authorized by the US government. The Hedgehog exercise will also overlap with two major NATO and allied military drills currently being held in the region, “Defender Europe” and “Swift Response,” which together involve around 18,000 soldiers from 20 countries. A flurry of additional war games are planned for Germany, Finland, Poland and elsewhere in the coming months.

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“There was a Jewish prophet that once said, ‘The last war is going to take 8 minutes.’

Third of Global Population Killed in Next War Cycle – Charles Nenner (USAW)

Renowned geopolitical and financial cycle expert Charles Nenner says his analysis shows the world will start a huge war cycle by 2023. This type of war is similar to WWII but much bigger. Nenner explains, “The cycle work I do on wars starts at the Mandarin Empire 3,000 years before Jesus came into this world. The long cycle only picks up the big wars. Wars in Korea and Iraq do not show up. So, I say the big War Cycle is up, and this is going to be a big war because the small ones don’t even show up. So, I am very worried. . . . There was a Jewish prophet that once said, ‘The last war is going to take 8 minutes.’ Nobody took this serious because how can a war last 8 minutes? Now we have an idea why a war can only take 8 minutes.

Things could calm down in the short term this summer. Then, next year, it can start full force again, and the whole thing is very dangerous.” How many casualties will there be in the next world war? Nenner estimates, “It’s very interesting how you calculate something like that. It’s the same way you calculate a cycle in IBM. When you see IBM going down, you can get an upside price target, which we have. You can do the same thing on the war cycle. About one third of the population is not going to survive in this world.” So, more than 2.5 billion people are going to die in the next world war that is just around the corner? Nenner says, “Yes, the numbers say if you have a world war, it’s going to take out 1/3 of the population.”

On the financial front, Nenner says, “There is a catastrophe going on in bonds. They lost their capital and are not going to get it back. It’s the same thing that is happening in stocks.” Nenner advised to get out of both the bond and stock markets at the beginning of the year, and he was on target. Nenner predicts it’s going to get worse for stocks and bonds. Nenner says the next downside target is “15,000 on the DOW,” and it will eventually hit around “5,000 on the DOW.”

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A clown show indeed. Straight from Zelensky’s PR team.

Biden’s ‘Disinformation’ Clown Show ‘Paused,’ Scary Poppins Resigns (Celente)

Nina Jankowicz, the so-called disinformation ‘expert’ that was to lead President Joe Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board said in a statement that she was resigning from her post and that the entire project was “paused.” “With the board’s work paused and its future uncertain, and I have decided to leave DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) to return to my work in the public sphere,” she said in a statement obtained by a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. “It is deeply disappointing that mischaracterizations of the board became a distraction from the department’s vital work, and indeed, along with recent events globally and nationally, embodies why it is necessary.”

The Trends Journal was an outspoken critic of the board and Jankowicz’s position due to her her history of extreme views. Her past roles included stints at the Wilson Center and advising the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry (as part of the Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship), according to Zerohedge.com. She also directed Russia and Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute. Jankowicz did her best to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop as “Russian Disinformation” in the days and weeks before the 2020 Presidential election, according to Fox News. At one point she called it a “fairy-tale” of disinformation. She also called it a “Trump Campaign Product.” It has since been proved as authentic. If the media had reported on the laptop honestly, it likely would have severely damaged Joe Biden.

In 2020, she pushed for Twitter to go further in banning political criticism of Biden’s campaign; she said at the time that she “shudders to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities.” DHS told The Trends Journal that the board’s work protects free speech, civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy. “It was intended to ensure coordination across the Department’s component agencies as they protect Americans from disinformation that threatens the homeland – including malicious efforts spread by foreign adversaries, human traffickers, and transnational criminal organizations,” a spokesperson said. “The Board has been grossly and intentionally mischaracterized: it was never about censorship or policing speech in any manner. It was designed to ensure we fulfill our mission to protect the homeland, while protecting core Constitutional rights.”

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And the life insurance people are the only ones worried enough to investigate?!

Mortality Among White-Collar Workers Jumped 24% Between 2020 and 2021 (ET)

The increase in deaths not attributed to COVID-19 in the working-age population during the summer and into the fall of last year affected white-collar workers more than blue- and grey-collar employees, according to life insurance data. In the white-collar sector, mortality jumped 24 percent in the period covered by the data (April 2020–September 2021); less than 64 percent of those were attributed to COVID-19. Among blue-collar workers, mortality rose 19 percent, of which over 80 percent was attributed to COVID-19. As The Epoch Times previously reported, prime-age mortality was particularly elevated in the 12 months ending in October 2021, where there was an excess death spike of more than 40 percent in ages 18–49, compared with the same period in 2018–2019, based on death certificate data from the CDC.

The majority of the excess deaths weren’t attributed to COVID-19. A recent study by the Society of Actuaries, an international professional organization, corroborates the CDC data. It relies on a survey of group term life insurance providers that yielded data on claims made from 2017 to 2021 and reported to insurers by Sept. 30, 2021. The life insurance data show an increase in excess mortality since the second quarter of 2020, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, including a particularly sharp increase in the third quarter of 2021—39 percent above what would have been expected based on 2017–2019 data. That quarter was exceptionally devastating for age groups 25–34, 35–44, 45–54, and 55–64, in which mortality soared 81 percent, 117 percent, 108 percent, and 70 percent, respectively, above the baseline.

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 accounted for about three-quarters of the excess mortality during the 18 months reviewed in the study. But among those under the age of 45, COVID-19 accounted for less than 38 percent of the excess deaths, the study says. Among industries with the largest number of COVID-19 deaths, the worst hit was public administration with nearly 13,000 life insurance claims related to the disease. Yet those only accounted for less than 52 percent of the sector’s excess mortality.

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Get rid of them before they can do more damage.

Gates, Fauci Funded Experiments on Bird Flu (Mercola)

As news of the COVID pandemic winds down around the world, we’re suddenly seeing warnings of another pandemic brewing — bird flu, aka avian influenza (H5N1). In a March 30 CenterPoint interview, former Director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, stated: “I believe the great pandemic still in the future, and that’s going to be a bird flu pandemic for man. It’s going to have significant mortality in the 10 to 50% range. It’s going to be trouble.” Anyone who knows a little about bird flu is likely to wonder where Redfield and other “experts” are getting their predictions from, as natural bird flu is notoriously harmless to humans. In early April, news of a highly pathogenic bird flu ripping through chicken and turkey flocks in the U.S., triggering the slaughter of millions of these animals, was reported.

Historically, however, the bird flu has never posed a threat to mankind — that is until scientists started tinkering with it, creating a hybrid with human pandemic potential. As reported by Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director for the Organic Consumers Association: “H5N1 kills more than half of the people who get it, but H5N1 has circled the globe for decades and there have only ever been 860 human infections worldwide. … “H5N1 isn’t transmitted person-to-person … There are no food safety risks associated with H5N1. If farm workers and meat packers don’t get bird flu in filthy factory farms or slaughterhouses, it’s no surprise the rest of us don’t get bird flu from eating raw eggs or handling raw chicken.” Despite that, the U.S. and other countries have already started stockpiling H5N1 vaccine, and the H5N1 vaccine Audenz is being marketed “for 2022.”

The approval for this vaccine was granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2020, followed by supplemental approval in 2021. As if on cue, the first-ever H5N1-positive case was identified in the U.S. at the end of April. By the looks of it, the only way human bird flu would appear would be if it was created, and wouldn’t you know it, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has funded gain of function research with the intention to make H5N1 transmissible to humans, as has global vaccine profiteer Bill Gates, Baden-Mayer notes. Some of that research has been undertaken in Pentagon-funded biolabs in Ukraine. For more details on this, be sure to read Baden-Mayer’s extensive article.

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Is that a question?

Why Were So Many Adverse Events Reported as ‘Unrelated’ to Vaccine? (CHD)

The latest release of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine documents raises questions about how frequently adverse events experienced by clinical trial participants were reported as “unrelated” to the vaccine. The 80,000-page document cache released May 2 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes an extensive set of Case Report Forms (CRFs) from Pfizer trials conducted at various locations in the U.S. The documents also include the “third interim report” from BioNTech’s trials conducted in Germany (accompanied by a synopsis of this report and a database of adverse events from this particular set of trials).

The FDA released the documents, which pertain to the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the vaccine, as part of a court-ordered disclosure schedule stemming from an expedited Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in August 2021. Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency, a group of doctors and public health professionals, submitted the FOIA request. Pfizer conducted a series of vaccine trials at various locations in the U.S., including the New York University Langone Health Center, Rochester Clinical Research and Rochester General Hospital (Rochester, New York) and the J. Lewis Research, Inc. Foothill Family Clinic (Salt Lake City, Utah).

The Pfizer documents released this month by the FDA included a series of CRFs for patients who suffered some type of adverse event during their participation in the COVID-19 vaccine trials. As the documents reveal, despite the occurrence of a wide range of symptoms, including serious cardiovascular events, almost none were identified as being “related” to the vaccine. [..] The extant body of evidence indicates Pfizer “is hiding critical information from regulators,” Setty said: “The clincher is in the memorandum to the VRBPAC [Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee] (Table 2, efficacy populations), where they show us that five times more people in the vaccine group were pulled out of the trial than the placebo within seven days of their second shot for ‘important protocol deviations.’

“In a trial that big the chances that could have happened coincidentally is infinitesimally small (less than 1 in 100,000). “Moreover, months later, the same thing happened in the pediatric trial (Table 12). This time, six times more children were pulled from the trial after their second dose. “There are, of course, procedural differences when administering a placebo versus the mRNA vaccine, but why didn’t it happen after the first dose as well? “Mathematically, that is about as close as you can get to eliminating any ‘shadow of doubt.’ With a formal allegation by a trial coordinator that states the same thing [referring to whistleblower Brook Jackson], we can be assured Pfizer is hiding critical information from regulators.”

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The US cannot afford two separate justice systems.

Sussmann Is Receiving Every Consideration Denied To Flynn (Turley)

Sussman’s trial for allegedly lying to the FBI is being heard in the same District of Columbia federal courthouse where former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and others faced the very same charge brought by another special counsel. The cases, however, could not be more different. Whereas Flynn’s prosecution was a no-holds-barred affair, Sussmann’s prosecution has been undermined by a series of unfavorable rulings by the court. Special prosecutor John Durham still may be able to eke out a conviction, but the difference in the treatment of Trump and Clinton associates is striking.

Sussmann is charged under 18 U.S.C. 1001 with lying to the FBI during a meeting with then-FBI general counsel James Baker when he came forward with what he claimed was evidence of possible covert communications between the Trump organization and Alfa, a Russian bank. Sussmann allegedly concealed that he was representing the Clinton campaign, which he billed for his efforts. Shaw told the jury that the FBI “should not be used as a political tool for anyone – not Republicans. Not Democrats. Not anyone.” She then added that the jurors themselves should not use this trial for their own political judgments. Looking at the jury box, one can understand Shaw’s unease. During jury selection, one juror admitted he was a Clinton donor and could only promise to “strive for impartiality as best I can.”

Prosecutors objected to his being seated, but Judge Christopher Cooper overruled them. In another exchange, a former bartender and donor to far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was told by a Sussmann defense lawyer that neither Clinton nor Trump were on trial and then asked if she could be impartial. She responded, “Yes, knowing that” — which might suggest she would not be impartial if the campaigns were part of the trial. Other jurors include a woman who said she thought she was a Clinton donor but could not remember; a juror whose husband worked for the Clinton 2008 campaign; and a juror who believes the legal system is racist and police departments should be defunded.

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You can’t have a fair trial in DC.

Juror Donations, Judge’s Family Ties At Sussmann Trial (JTN)

The trial for 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann this week in Washington, D.C., highlights the left-leaning of the nation’s capital — with as many as three jurors reportedly having donated to the Clinton campaign. A fourth juror on the 12-member panel supported New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, according to the New York Post. In addition, presiding federal judge Christopher Cooper says he and Sussmann were “professional acquaintances” while at the Justice Department in the 1990s. And the judge’s wife represents former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Page exchanged text messages critical of then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign with then-FBI agent Peter Strzok, with whom she was having an extra-marital affair.


The District of Columbia votes overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates, with Democrats outnumbering Republican voters 76.5% to 5.4%, according to the most recent figures from the city’s Board of Elections. In 2016, D.C. voters favored Clinton over Trump, 90.9% to 4.1%. Special Counsel John Durham’s team objected to putting one Clinton donor on the jury after the man said he would “strive for impartiality as best I can,” the Post also reported. However, the prosecutors were overruled by Cooper, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who said the Clinton supporter “expressed a high degree of confidence” that he wouldn’t be biased.

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Elias is the leader. No. 1 lawyer for both Hillary AND BLM.

Clinton Campaign Lawyer Elias Testifies In 3rd Day Of Sussmann Trial (JTN)

Marc Elias, a top 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign attorney, began his testimony late Wednesday morning in the federal case against fellow and former campaign attorney and law firm partner Michael Sussmann – as the prosecution laid its groundwork for further questions about the firm’s relationship with opposition research firm Fusion GPS. Special counsel John Durham has charged Sussmann with lying to the FBI, alleging that in 2016, weeks before the presidential election, he pitched the FBI the Trump-Russia collusion plot without disclosing he was working for stakeholder clients, suggesting instead he was there as a good citizen. Sussmann provided evidence at the meeting that purported to prove communications between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Afla Bank, a back channel to the Kremlin.

Elias at the time was general counsel for the Clinton campaign and a partner with Sussmann at the Perkins Coie law firm. Before the court recess Wednesday, the prosecution established through Elias’ testimony that he had hired Fusion GPS for the Clinton campaign in spring 2016, when it looked like then-presidential candidate Donald Trump would become the GOP nominee. Elias said that he had weekly in-person meetings with the firm and daily check-ins over the phone regarding its efforts and progress. Most of what Fusion GPS focused on for the Clinton campaign was Trump-related litigation. The prosecution asked Elias who knew of the relationship between Fusion GPS and the Clinton campaign.

Elias explained that it was largely on a need-to-know basis so as to prevent people in the campaign from reaching out to Fusion GPS without having attorney-client privilege and to prevent leaks on the law firm side from getting out to the public that would hurt the client. Prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis also asked Elias about how Perkins Coie’s clients were billed, setting up a framework for later questioning regarding Sussmann’s purported billing of the Clinton campaign for his meeting with the FBI. The prosecution on Tuesday night had a listed at least five witnesses it intends to bring to the stand Wednesday – including Elias, fellow Clinton campaign lawyer Debbie Fine and Fusion GPS computer researcher Laura Seago.

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Whaddaya know? There’s Elias again. The rats and the sinking ship.

BLM raised $90 million, and spent $60 million?!

Clintonworld Steps Away From Black Lives Matter (WE)

Marc Elias and Minyon Moore, two longtime allies of Bill and Hillary Clinton who recently took up key roles with the national Black Lives Matter group, relinquished top spots with the embattled organization, according to new records filed just days before the group reveals what it did with the $90 million it raised in 2020. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation revealed in February that the Elias Law Group, Elias’s namesake law firm, had taken control of its books and finances. But Elias Law Group is nowhere to be found in BLM’s latest registration filings submitted to Florida and Oklahoma on April 28, according to records obtained by the Washington Examiner.

While the new records show the Elias Law Group is no longer in control of BLM’s books, whatever continued involvement Elias’s firm may have with the embattled charity remains a mystery. The Elias Law Group declined to provide an on-the-record comment to the Washington Examiner. The Elias Law Group’s absence from BLM’s Florida and Oklahoma registrations submitted on the eve of the charity’s financial disclosure is telling, said Tom Anderson, the director of the Government Integrity Project at the National Legal and Policy Center watchdog group. “It is important to note the Elias Law Group is a firm with a laser focus on electing Democrats and pushing the progressive agenda,” Anderson told the Washington Examiner.

“This makes their disappearance from the latest BLM Global Network Foundation filings a pivotal moment, probably foreshadowing the total collapse of what is left of the organization.” BLM had disclosed in February that Elias’s law firm had taken control of its books and Moore had joined its board of directors. The filings were made public about two weeks after the BLM shut off its online fundraising streams amid legal threats from California and Washington over the charity’s lack of financial transparency. [..] Elias is best known for his funding of British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited anti-Trump dossier while he served as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign general counsel, and he is expected to be called by special counsel John Durham to testify at the false statements trial of his former Perkins Coie law firm colleague, Michael Sussmann, which begins [this] week.

Zuby

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“The dirty tricks attacks will be next-level.”

Elon Musk Announces He Will Vote Republican (JTN)

The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, on Wednesday announced he will vote Republican due to the “hate” in the Democratic Party. “In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party,” Musk tweeted. “But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican,” he wrote. “Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold …” Several hours before making the announcement, Musk posted, “Political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in coming months.” He followed up, “The dirty tricks attacks will be next-level.”

Musk secured a deal to purchase Twitter last month, in a move he says is intended to defend freedom of speech. The Tesla CEO has since said the deal is on hold pending the release of details about fake accounts on the platform. Some Twitter employees are upset with Musk’s possible acquisition of the platform. A video surfaced Tuesday from Project Veritas showing a Twitter executive mocking Musk’s Aspergers and support for free speech.

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No chance anymore.

Twitter Wants to Close Deal ‘Promptly’ and on ‘Agreed Price’ (ET)

Twitter announced Tuesday that it was filing a preliminary proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in order to complete the Elon Musk buyout “on the agreed price,” and as “promptly as practicable.” Twitter wants the $54.20 per share in cash deal with Musk to go through, while the billionaire is hesitant following allegations that the social media platform is rife with spam or bot accounts. “The preliminary proxy statement contains important information including the background of, and reasons for, Twitter’s transaction with Mr. Musk,” the company said in a statement, adding that it expects the deal to close in 2022. Moreover, Twitter encouraged shareholders to vote in favor of the deal in the preliminary proxy statement.


The board of directors unanimously “determined that the merger agreement is advisable,” and that it is “in the best interests of Twitter and its stockholders.” Meanwhile, Musk has called on the SEC to investigate the actual number of users on the network. “Hello @SECGov, anyone home?” Musk wrote in a Twitter post on May 17 as a response to a suggestion for the regulatory authority to look into Twitter’s claims regarding the number of users. As the uncertainties continue, the stock price has fallen from $46.09 last Wednesday to close at $38.32 Tuesday, a decrease of over 16.8 percent.

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Q: Could or should Musk have known this when he made his offer? But also: did Twitter know?

Half of President Biden’s Twitter Followers Are Fake (JTN)

Nearly half of President Biden’s 22.2 million Twitter followers are fake accounts, according to an audit tool by software company SparkToro. Newsweek reports that the tool found that 49.3% of accounts following the U.S. president are fake followers based on a number of factors, including how recently the accounts were established, location issues and lack of profile images. The tool defines fake accounts as “accounts that are unreachable and will not see the account’s tweets (either because they’re spam, bots, propaganda, etc. or because they’re no longer active on Twitter).” Elon Musk, who is in the middle of attempting to purchase Twitter, says the deal cannot move forward until there is a better understanding of the number of fake accounts on the site.


If a crackdown on fake and bot accounts is ultimately implemented, the official @POTUS account could lose an enormous numbers of followers. On Tuesday, Musk said that the number of fake accounts on Twitter was close to 20%, four times what Twitter claims,” he wrote, and “could be *much* higher.” “My offer was based on Twitter’s [Security and Exchange Commission] filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does,” he wrote. The Tesla CEO and current Twitter CEO, Parag Agrawal, traded some tweets Monday about the issue.

“We suspend over half a million spam accounts every day, usually before any of you even see them on Twitter,” Agrawal posted. “We also lock millions of accounts each week that we suspect may be spam, if they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc).” The Twitter CEO said that the company estimates each quarter that less than 5% of monetizable daily active users are spam accounts. Musk first responded to Agrawal’s lengthy thread with an excrement emoji, and then wrote, “So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter.”

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Q: How does Hunter pay “a team of more than 30 lawyers and investigators..?” That sounds costly.

Hunter Biden’s Hollywood Lawyer Teases Counter-offensive vs Trump Allies (CBS)

The Hollywood lawyer working with Hunter Biden has recruited a team of more than 30 lawyers and investigators to probe the backstory of how a laptop containing years of personal and intimate emails and business records found its way to news reporters and authorities. The effort led by Kevin Morris, a maverick entertainment lawyer best known for crafting a 9-figure deal for the creators of the animated series “South Park,” appears to be part of an attempt to blunt the impact of an ongoing federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax records and business dealings. Morris and his team have been circulating provocative slides that tease a coming counter-narrative to political attacks against the president’s son.

An ongoing Republican-led investigation into Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings is widely expected to escalate if the party takes control of the House or Senate and gains subpoena power. Republicans say the investigation aims to determine if Hunter Biden’s work created any conflicts for his father as a U.S. senator, vice president or presidential candidate. Both Hunter Biden and his father have maintained that they never communicated about the younger Biden’s business dealings, which included service on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm and dealmaking in China — work that has drawn scrutiny for the past several years.

Morris’s team includes investigators on the ground in Delaware, attorneys in multiple states, and forensic analysts who are attempting to determine if malicious content was added to Hunter Biden’s laptop — which has become the source of investigative reports and political attacks targeting the president’s son. But at least initially, the effort appears less focused on the content of the laptop than on how it surfaced in the first place. Based on Morris’ slides, several of which were viewed by CBS News, the attorney’s team of investigators is attempting to re-trace the path of Biden’s laptop and determine how it passed through the hands of the Bidens’ political opponents. Much remains unknown about how the younger Biden’s personal computer and its contents became public.

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Nov 152016
 
 November 15, 2016  Posted by at 9:41 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


George N. Barnard Atlanta, Georgia. View on Marietta Street 1864

UK Government Has No Plan For Brexit, Leaked Memo Says (BBC)
Why India Wiped Out 86% Of Its Cash Overnight (BBC)
Asian Currencies Drop to 7-Year Low Against US Dollar (BBG)
The Euro-Dollar Parity Bet Is Back (BBG)
‘Trump Thump’ Whacks Bond Market For $1 Trillion Loss (R.)
China: Trump’s First Crisis? (JP Smith)
China’s Central Bank Faces Trump Headache (BBG)
The World’s Biggest Real Estate Binge Is Coming To A City Near You (BBG)
America Has Abdicated Its Leadership of the West (Spiegel)
Memo to Trump: Defense Spending Must Be For Actual Defense (Ron Paul)
The Democratic Party Had a Good if Not Great Candidate in Bernie Sanders (CP)
Russian Economy Minister Detained Over Alleged $2 Million Bribe (R.)
EU Threatens Turkey With Economic Sanctions (TT)
Julian Assange Faces Second Day Of Questioning (ITV)
Highly Contagious Strain Of Bird Flu Sweeps Through Europe ( DW)
100,000 Landslides and Hundreds of Tremors After New Zealand Quake (G._

 

 

It’s only been 5 months, after all….: “Whitehall is working on 500 Brexit-related projects and could need 30,000 extra staff..”

UK Government Has No Plan For Brexit, Leaked Memo Says (BBC)

The government has no overall Brexit plan and a negotiating strategy may not be agreed by the cabinet for six months, a leaked memo has suggested. The memo – obtained by The Times and seen by the BBC – warns Whitehall is working on 500 Brexit-related projects and could need 30,000 extra staff. However, there is still no common exit strategy “because of divisions within the cabinet”, the leaked document adds. A government spokesman said it “didn’t recognise” the claims made in the memo. Prime Minister Theresa May hopes to invoke Article 50 – beginning the formal two-year process for leaving the EU – by the end of March next year. However, BBC political correspondent Chris Mason – who has seen the memo – says the document shows how “complex, fraught and challenging delivering Brexit will be”.

The leaked Cabinet Office memo – written by an un-named consultant and entitled “Brexit Update” of 7 November – suggests it will take another six months before the government decides precisely what it wants to achieve from Brexit or agrees on its priorities. The report criticises Mrs May, who it says is “acquiring a reputation of drawing in decisions and details to settle matters herself” – an approach it describes as being “unlikely to be sustainable”. The Times says the document also identifies cabinet splits between Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary David Davis and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox on one side, and Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark on the other.

According to the newspaper, the memo said: “Every department has developed a ‘bottom-up’ plan of what the impact of Brexit could be – and its plan to cope with the ‘worst case’. “Although necessary, this falls considerably short of having a ‘government plan for Brexit’ because it has no prioritisation and no link to the overall negotiation strategy.” The memo also suggests the government does not have enough officials to implement Brexit quickly, while departments are developing individual plans resulting in “well over 500 projects”. It estimates an additional 30,000 extra civil servants could be required to meet the workload. The document also says big businesses could soon “point a gun at the government’s head” to secure what they need to maintain jobs and investment.

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Tax evasion.

Why India Wiped Out 86% Of Its Cash Overnight (BBC)

India is in the middle of an extraordinary economic experiment. On 8 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave only four hours’ notice that virtually all the cash in the world’s seventh-largest economy would be effectively worthless. The Indian government likes to use the technical term “demonetisation” to describe the move, which makes it sound rather dull. It isn’t. This is the economic equivalent of “shock and awe”. Do not believe reports that this is primarily about bribery or terror financing, the real target is tax evasion and the policy is very daring indeed. Mr Modi’s “shock and awe” declaration meant that 1,000 and 500 rupee notes would no longer be valid. These may be the largest denomination Indian notes but they are not high value by international standards – 1,000 rupees is only £12. But together the two notes represent 86% of the currency in circulation.

Think of that, at a stroke 86% of the cash in India now cannot be used. What is more, India is overwhelmingly a cash economy, with 90% of all transactions taking place that way. And that is the target of Mr Modi’s dramatic move. Because so much business is done in cash, very few people pay tax on the money they earn. According to figures published by the government earlier this year, in 2013 only 1% of the population paid any income tax at all. As a result huge numbers of Indians have stashes of tax-free cash hidden away – known here as “black money”. Even the very poorest Indians have some cash savings – maybe just a few thousand rupees stored away for a daughter’s wedding, the kids’ school fees or – heaven forbid – an illness in the family.

But lots of Indians have much more than that. It is not unusual for half the value of a property transaction to be paid in cash, with buyers turning up with suitcases full of 1,000 rupee notes. The size of this shadow economy is reckoned to be as much as 20% of India’s entire GDP. Mr Modi’s demonetisation is designed to drive black money out of the shadows. At the moment you can exchange up to 4,000 (£48) of the old rupees every day in cash for new 500 (£6) and 2,000 (£24) rupee notes. There is no limit to the amount that can be deposited in bank accounts until the end of December, but the government has warned that the tax authorities will be investigating any deposits above 250,000 rupees (£2,962).

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This may continue for a while. Energy in the crosshairs.

Asian Currencies Drop to 7-Year Low Against US Dollar (BBG)

A gauge of emerging Asian currencies is heading for the lowest close since March 2009 as the dollar surged after Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory. The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks 10 regional currencies, is down 2% this year. As recently as August it was up 1.7%. Emerging assets have tumbled in the past week as the president-elect is seen unleashing a spending surge, pushing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.

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The euro is way overvalued anyway, of course. Parity would sake the south to its core, though, much more than the north.

The Euro-Dollar Parity Bet Is Back (BBG)

Donald Trump’s electoral upset has breathed new life into the bet that diverging economic paths will drive the euro toward parity with the dollar for the first time since 2002. Traders see about a 45% chance the European currency will sink to $1 in the next year, about double the probability assigned a week ago. The president-elect’s pledges to boost spending and cut taxes are fueling speculation that economic growth will accelerate, pushing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more quickly. That sentiment sent a gauge of the dollar to the strongest since February on Monday, while the euro fell to about $1.07, touching its lowest since 2015.

For Deutsche Bank, the world’s fourth-biggest currency trader, the election results are enough to jolt the euro out of a range it’s been stuck in for months and push it below $1 in 2017. Calls for parity crumbled this year as the Fed cut back on the number of expected rate hikes, even as the ECB continued to add unprecedented amounts of stimulus. Now Trump’s win is rekindling the wager that drove the dollar to back-to-back annual gains in 2014-2015, for its biggest two-year rally since the euro’s 1999 debut. “Divergence is back,” George Saravelos, a strategist at Deutsche Bank in London, wrote in a report dated Nov. 13. “The Trump victory has changed things.”

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The Trump fairytale lacks all sense of reality. He’s going to stumble upon a zillion roadblocks on his way to get the best of what he can get, and that means volatility.

‘Trump Thump’ Whacks Bond Market For $1 Trillion Loss (R.)

Donald Trump’s stunning victory for the White House may mark the long-awaited end to the more than 30-year-old bull run in bonds, as bets on faster U.S. growth and inflation lead investors to favor stocks over bonds. A two-day thumping wiped out more than $1 trillion across global bond markets worldwide, the worst rout in nearly 1-1/2 years, on bets that plans under a Trump administration would boost business investments and spending while firing up inflation. “We’ve had a sentiment shift in the bond market. We’ve seen it, too. People have already started reallocating out of bonds and into stocks,” said Jeff Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital. “The cracks have been forming for five years – we’re in this slow-grinding higher phase in yields,” he said.

The stampede from bonds propelled longer-dated U.S. yields to their highest levels since January with the 30-year yield posting its biggest weekly increase since January 2009. In the stock market, the blue chip Dow Jones industrial average finished out its best week in five years on Friday as it marked a record high close. The 10-year German Bund yield rose to its highest level in eight months, while the 10-year British gilt yield climbed to its highest level prior to Brexit. [..] While investors dumped most types of bonds after Trump’s victory, they piled into Treasury inflation-protected securities as a hedge against a pick-up in inflation. “You are seeing interest in TIPS right now from a widening investors base,” said Brian Smith, portfolio manager at TCW in Los Angeles, which has $197 billion in assets. Investors poured $1 billion into TIPS in the week ended Nov. 9, the second-biggest inflows since records began in October 2002.

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Trump may hand China exactly what it needs but is afraid to face.

China: Trump’s First Crisis? (JP Smith)

There is a growing possibility that China will be at the epicentre of President-elect Trump’s first crisis, triggered by concerns over the potential impact of protectionist measures on China’s trade surplus, which currently supports the increasingly fragile financing chains supporting corporate debt that the IMF estimates at around 155% of GDP. Trump’s pledges to impose tariffs of up to 45% on Chinese manufactured goods threatens to drive a significant uptick in the amount of capital flight from the renminbi, while the prospect of measures to change the US tax system to encourage companies to repatriate cash to the are already pulling the dollar higher.

At this point the likelihood of Trump actually delivering on his protectionist rhetoric is secondary to the psychological impact on resident corporate and household savers of any potential threat to the current uneasy equilibrium within the Chinese economy. The situation could quickly become much more acute than the one faced by the FOMC earlier this year, when the Fed appears to have backed off raising rates primarily due to concerns about China, so that President Trump will have to make a decision whether to clarify his intentions towards China and possibly repudiate his key campaign pledge at a relatively early stage of his presidency.

The consequences of his not doing so could be to precipitate an economic and financial crisis within China, that would obviously have major adverse consequences for the regional and global economies and also some potentially very serious implications for geopolitical stability. In brief, our longstanding bearish view on China has rested on the governance factors at both a central and local government level that have led to massive cost factor subsidies driving overcapacity across a broad range of industries. This has resulted in very high levels of debt which are being financed from an increasing range of institutions and instruments, most recently the city and county banks and shadow financing instruments, all of which are lack transparency even by Chinese standards.

No-one disputes any more that an increasing amount of financing is being used to service and roll over existing loans and that higher write-offs are not keeping pace with the flow of doubtful loans. The financing structures that surround the overcapacity industries are increasingly fragile especially on a regional level; Chinese enterprises are simply too interconnected to fail. Over the course of 2016, there have been some indications of a visible improvement in both the macro-economic and corporate numbers, as well as some of the more physical and therefore reliable indications of activity such as power production and freight journeys. This has, however, been a function of the massive monetary and fiscal stimulus beginning in the second half of 2015, to head off a potential crisis in response to the plunge in the onshore equity market.

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“As if defusing the world’s biggest debt bomb while keeping economic growth humming wasn’t tough enough..”

China’s Central Bank Faces Trump Headache (BBG)

As if defusing the world’s biggest debt bomb while keeping economic growth humming wasn’t tough enough, Donald Trump’s shock election victory has just made the policy outlook even more complex for People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan. The president-elect’s threats to slap tariffs of up to 45% on Chinese imports cast a shadow over the economy’s stabilization and the world’s most crucial trade relationship. Protectionism may fuel more international use of the yuan, according to Standard Chartered, while UBS says tariffs may push the PBOC to let the yuan fall further. Longer-term ambitions like capital account opening and yuan internationalization are also clouded, hinging on whether President Trump delivers on candidate Trump’s promises.

The PBOC’s monetary policy becomes trickier, and harder to keep neutral, amid “huge uncertainty” about Trump’s impact on China, according to Larry Hu at Macquarie in Hong Kong. “It’s hard to tell what would be actual policies instead of just campaign rhetoric,” Hu wrote in a note. Even before Trump takes office Jan. 20, there’s reason to think his campaign threats to impose tariffs and label China a currency manipulator may be tempered by the reality of governing. He’s already signaled there may be some watering down of other contentious issues such as building a wall on the Mexican border and scrapping President Barack Obama’s health care program. There’s a low probability that the PBOC will cut its benchmark interest rates or the required reserve ratio for banks this year, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday. The central bank has held its main rates at record lows for more than a year to support growth.

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Whatever happened to people’s right to shelter?

The World’s Biggest Real Estate Binge Is Coming To A City Near You (BBG)

If they were anywhere else in Beijing, the five young women in cowboy hats and matching red, white, and blue costumes would look wildly out of place. But here at the city’s biggest international property fair – a frenetic gathering of brokers, developers and other real estate professionals all jockeying for the attention of Chinese buyers – the quintet of wannabe Texans fits right in. As they promote Houston townhouses (“Yours for as little as $350,000!”), a Portugal contingent touts its Golden Visa program and the Australian delegation lures passersby with stuffed kangaroos. Welcome to ground zero for the world’s largest cross-border residential property boom. Motivated by a weakening yuan, surging domestic housing costs and the desire to secure offshore footholds, Chinese citizens are snapping up overseas homes at an accelerating pace.

They’re also venturing further afield than ever before, spreading beyond the likes of Sydney and Vancouver to lower-priced markets including Houston, Thailand’s Pattaya Beach and Malaysia’s Johor Bahru. The buying spree has defied Chinese government efforts to restrict capital outflows and shows little sign of slowing after an estimated $15 billion of overseas real estate purchases in the first half. For cities in the cross-hairs, the challenge is to balance the economic benefits of Chinese demand against the risk that rising home prices spur a public backlash. “The Chinese have managed to accumulate very large amounts of wealth, and the opportunities to deploy that capital in their own market are somewhat restricted,” said Richard Barkham at CBRE, the world’s largest commercial property brokerage. “China has more than a billion people. Personally, I think we have just seen a trickle.”

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I have too much to say on this to say it here.

America Has Abdicated Its Leadership of the West (Spiegel)

Even history sometimes leans toward pathos. In January 2017, when Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, the American Age will celebrate its 100th birthday – and its funeral. The West was constituted in its modern form in January 1917. World War I was raging in Europe at the time and in Washington, D.C., President Woodrow Wilson told his country that it was time for Americans to take responsibility for “peace and justice.” In April he said: “The world must be made safe for democracy.” He declared war on Germany and sent soldiers to Europe to secure victory for the Western democracies – and the United States assumed the leadership of the Western world. It was an early phase of political globalization. One hundred years later: Trump.

Trump, who wants nothing to do with globalization; Trump, who preaches American nationalism, isolation, partial withdrawal from world trade and zero responsibility for a global problem like climate change. And all of this after a perverse election campaign marked by resentment, racism and incitement. Human dignity is the centerpiece of the Western project. Following the revolutions in France and the US in the late 18th century, states began guaranteeing human rights for the first time. Human rights have a normative character, as Heinrich August Winkler argued in his monumental work “History of the West.” And a racist cannot embody this normative project. Trump has no sense of dignity – neither for himself nor others. He does not qualify as the leader of the Western world, because he is both unwilling and incapable of assuming that role.

We now face emptiness – the fear of the void. What will happen to the West, to Europe, to Germany without the United States as its leading power? Germany is a child of the West, particularly of the United States, brought to life with American generosity, long spoon-fed and now in a deep state of shock. The American president was always simultaneously our president, at least a little, and Barack Obama was a worthy president of the West. Now, though, we must come to terms with a lack of Western leadership. What were those 100 years like? The history of the modern West can be told in many ways: as a heroic tale, as a story of greed, as a mission or as a tale of fear. This article is about 100 years of fear, in particular the fear for our freedom, a quintessentially American paranoia that spread to the rest of the West. The word is not being used negatively here; we are talking about fear as a bulwark protecting us against danger. There are good fears and bad fears.

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“If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then I am afraid we should prepare for economic collapse in very short order.”

Memo to Trump: Defense Spending Must Be For Actual Defense (Ron Paul)

[..] The military budget is something very different from the defense budget. The military budget is the money spent each year not to defend the United States, but to enrich the military-industrial complex, benefit special interests, regime-change countries overseas, maintain a global US military empire, and provide defense to favored allies. The military budget for the United States is larger than the combined military spending budget of the next seven or so countries down the line. To get the military budget in line with our real defense needs would require a focus on our actual interests and a dramatic decrease in spending. The spending follows the policy, and the policy right now reflects the neocon and media propaganda that we must run the rest of the world or there will be total chaos. This is sometimes called “American exceptionalism,” but it is far from a “pro-American” approach.

Do we really need to continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars manipulating elections overseas? Destabilizing governments that do not do as Washington tells them? Rewarding those who follow Washington’s orders with massive aid and weapons sales? Do we need to continue the endless war in Afghanistan even as we discover that Saudi Arabia had far more to do with 9/11 than the Taliban we have been fighting for a decade and a half? Do we really need 800 US military bases in more than 70 countries overseas? Do we need to continue to serve as the military protection force for our wealthy NATO partners even though they are more than capable of defending themselves? Do we need our CIA to continue to provoke revolutions like in Ukraine or armed insurgencies like in Syria?

If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then I am afraid we should prepare for economic collapse in very short order. Then, with our economy in ruins, we will face the wrath of those countries overseas which have been in the crosshairs of our interventionist foreign policy. If the answer is no, then we must work to convince our countrymen to reject the idea of Empire and embrace the United States as a constitutional republic that no longer goes abroad seeking monsters to slay. The choice is ours.

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“Their corrupt Democratic Party had a good if not great candidate in Bernie Sanders and their DNC deliberately fought to keep him from winning the primaries..”

The Democratic Party Had a Good if Not Great Candidate in Bernie Sanders (CP)

It’s hard to empathize with the corporate liberals who streamed from the Javits Center in tears [last] Tuesday night. Their corrupt Democratic Party had a good if not great candidate in Bernie Sanders and their DNC deliberately fought to keep him from winning the primaries. In every poll taken during his campaign, Sanders beat Donald Trump in a hypothetical general election. Oh, they’ll start pouring out their bile now, blaming everyone but themselves and their candidate. It was the media’s fault for popularizing Trump (a Clinton strategy). It was the FBI’s fault for re-opening the email case (thanks to Huma Abedin’s ex). It was stupid Middle America’s fault for being racist and sexist (was that why they voted for Trump?). It was third-party supporters who screwed us in Florida again (Paul Krugman and Rachel Maddow are furious that leftists didn’t vote for their heroine). It was Russia’s fault for hacking the DNC (no evidence) and plotting to invade Europe (no evidence).

In Hillary’s farewell speech, she kept to form and quoted scripture–the very last guide she has used to shape her political life. In other words, she remained a hypocrite. She talked to little girls who think she is a great flagbearer for womankind, even though she precipitated the brutal destruction of infrastructure, the breakdown of law and order, and the eventual collapse of the Libyan state, throwing thousands of brown women, boys and girls into extreme danger and exile. She exported the same plan to Syria. And she supported a coup d’état in Honduras that has now led to predictably vicious repression and regular homicide. The truth is, Hillary was a terrible candidate. Like Al Gore. She was charmless and toneless. In an election atmosphere typified by personality politics, Hillary lacked one.

She had a rich track record of foreign policy meltdowns at the State Department and a feckless tenure in the Senate. She alienated Congress in 1993 when she failed to get health care reform passed. And she evidently used high office to peddle access and influence to Clinton Foundation donors. Her positions had changed repeatedly, suggesting she couldn’t be trusted. This, compounded by the scandal surrounding her lazy use of email in the trafficking of confidential information, and ham-fisted attempts to cover it up, cast her in the dimmest of lights with many Americans. An albatross husband still despised by conservatives and who loomed hungrily behind the floodlights of her campaign–didn’t help either.

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Russia’s energy and banking sectors remain murky fields.

Russian Economy Minister Detained Over Alleged $2 Million Bribe (R.)

Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has been detained over a $2-million bribe allegedly received for a “positive” assessment, which led to oil producer Rosneft acquiring a 50% stake in Bashneft, the country’s Investigative Committee said on Tuesday. He is the highest-ranked statesman in Russia arrested since the failed coup in 1991. The Investigative Committee, which directly reports to President Vladimir Putin, said the investigation would put forward charges soon. “Ulyukayev was detained at night, immediately after interrogation,” an Investigative Committee official told Reuters. It was not immediately clear, what exactly Ulyukayev, who has overseen massive government privatization, has been accused of, but Russian news outlet RT reported that the minister had been detained in the act of taking the bribe.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS news agency that “this is a serious accusation”. “In any case, only a court is able to decide anything,” he was quoted as saying. RT reported that Peskov said he did not know if Putin was aware of the minister’s detention. According to RT, if found guilty, Ulyukayev could face a fine up to 100 times the size of the bribe plus the loss of the right to serve in some state positions and undertake certain activities for up to 15 years. A prison sentence of as long as 15 years and a fine that was 70 times the size of the bribe were other potential outcomes following a guilty verdict, RT said.

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I’ve said it 1000 times: Turkey will never be a member of the EU. Countries will leave as soon as that propect gets real.

EU Threatens Turkey With Economic Sanctions (TT)

Turkey-EU relations braced for a major showdown after the Turkish government renewed its push for bringing the death penalty back, leading to mutual recriminations, trading barbs over recent days. To reveal the gravity of the situation and its meaning for the EU, European Parliament (EP) President Martin Schulz even spoke about possible economic sanctions against Turkey over draconian emergency practices that destroyed central pillars of democracy and the rule of law. As Turkey’s record on human rights hits lows, its ramifications for the EU accession process becomes evidently palpable with dying prospects for membership in the foreseeable future. The unrelenting political crackdown inside Turkey has left the EU with few options seen deterrent to force Ankara to change its policies at home.

Speaking to German’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Schulz said about the political climate in Brussels where EU leaders discuss imposing economic sanctions against Turkey in response to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s actions to curb the opposition. The consideration of such an option is preferred to terminating entire talks between Turkey and the EU, he argued. “We as the EU will have to consider which economic measures we can take,” Schulz said. One of the arguments he brought forward is that the breakdown in relations would leave the EU with no leverage and option that it could wield influence Turkey to help the opposition and those who are held in pre-trial detention

But his warnings and comment fell on deaf ears in Ankara, prompting a swift rebuke from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who called on Schulz to do whatever possible to back up his threats. Speaking at a press conference in Ankara along with his Chinese counterpart, Cavusoglu called on Schulz to remove banners and booths of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey and the EU consider as a terrorist group, from EP building in Brussels. His criticism refers to periodic protests of pro-PKK groups near EP headquarters in Brussels as European Kurds demonstrate there against the Turkish state, set up tents and booths filled with PKK flags and images of imprisoned PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan.

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If Sweden had a case, they would have made it eons ago. What a disgrace as a country.

Julian Assange Faces Second Day Of Questioning (ITV)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be questioned for a second day inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London over a sex allegation. Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and Swedish police inspector Cecilia Redell will once again interview Assange through a representative of the Ecuadorian government. They said a DNA sample will be taken if he gives consent. It is believed Assange was “fully cooperative” during their initial meeting on Monday. The process could take three days, before Swedish authorities decide on their next move.

However Ms Isgren will not be giving interviews during her stay in London. A statement said: “As the investigation is ongoing, it is subject to confidentiality. “This confidentiality also applies according to Ecuadorian legislation for the investigative measures conducted at the embassy. “Therefore, the prosecutors cannot provide information concerning details of the investigation after the interview.”

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Still waiting for the big one.

Highly Contagious Strain Of Bird Flu Sweeps Through Europe (DW)

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein widened protection measures on Monday to protect against an outbreak of the H5N8 influenza virus among wild birds, which has spread to poultry. All farms – including smallholdings – will be required to tighten biosecurity, with the use of protective clothing and footwear, and the widespread disinfection of all farm buildings and vehicles used to transport poultry. Over the weekend, 30,000 chickens were culled as a precaution at a farm close to the northern city of Grumby, which saw an outbreak of the virus. The affected breeder farm is currently being disinfected and cleaned, Schleswig-Holstein’s environment ministry said on Monday.

Two smaller poultry farms in the same state and the neighboring Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania were also affected over the weekend, but neither states registered new H5N8 cases on Monday, local officials said. So far, five German states have seen bird flu outbreaks, including the southern state of Baden-Württemberg, which reported cases around Lake Constance, which is bordered by Switzerland and Austria. The state of Saxony also confirmed the H5N8 virus was detected in a dead heron at a lake near the city of Leipzig. On Monday, Denmark sought to contain its own outbreak among wild birds by ordering a farm to destroy hundreds of thousands of eggs imported from Germany, as a precaution. Some 300,000 eggs from the farm in Grumby were supplied to a hatchery in the Danish town of Baekke, near Kolding. They are all expected to be destroyed by Tuesday.

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Still waiting for the big one here as well. Jitters all around.

100,000 Landslides and Hundreds of Tremors After New Zealand Quake (G._

Up to 100,000 landslides were caused by New Zealand’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, officials said, as aftershocks continued to shake parts of both islands of New Zealand and emergency crews worked to help people in the main affected areas. A major relief effort continued on Tuesday, with thousands of people stranded by the quake, which blocked roads and damaged many buildings across parts of the North and South islands. Emergency services and defence personnel were evacuating hundreds of tourists and residents from Kaikoura, the heavily hit South Island town, amid more strong aftershocks on Tuesday.

The powerful earthquake killed two people. It struck just after midnight on Sunday, destroying farm homesteads, sending glass and masonry toppling from buildings in the capital, Wellington, on the North Island and cutting road and rail links throughout the north-east of the South Island. As aftershocks continued to rattle the region on Wednesday, emergency services cordoned off streets in Wellington and evacuated several buildings due to fears one of them might collapse. Gale-force winds and rain were hampering recovery efforts as wild weather brought floods to the Greater Wellington region. Hundreds of aftershocks continued to rock the region. A 5.4 tremor was among the bigger aftershocks and was felt strongly in Wellington.

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