Nov 012022
 
 November 1, 2022  Posted by at 8:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  73 Responses »


Vilhelm Hammershoi Woman Seen from the Back 1888

 

Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans to Police Disinformation (IC)
“The Bird is Free.” Will Elon Musk Become Grand Duke of Mars? (Ugo Bardi)
How Elon Musk Should Shape Twitter — Sans the Sink (Turley)
‘Inflation Came From Nowhere’ – Lagarde (RT)
Putin Clarifies Position On Grain Deal (RT)
Russia Tells UN It Will Inspect Black Sea Ships (RT)
Israeli Finance Minister Added To Kiev’s ‘Kill List’ (RT)
Much Of Kiev Without Power & Water After New Russian Airstrikes (ZH)
From The Surreal To The Real To The Meta-Real (Batiushka)
Drone Attack On Sevastopol (MoA)
Comeback Kid Lula In The Eye Of A Volcano (Escobar)
Why The US-Saudi Relationship Is Withering (RT)
They Rule Over Dysfunctional Ruin, but They Rule (Crooke)
US Economic Decline And Global Instability Part 3 (Phillyguy)
Russia’s New Regions On Collision Course With Ukraine 100 Years Ago (Nepogodin)

 

 

“The less men think, the more they talk.”
~ Montesquieu

 

 

 

 

Nord Stream 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethical Skeptic 7:1

 

 

The Swiss National Bank just reported an enormous $142.6 BILLION dollar loss in the first 9 months of 2022, which is by far the largest loss in the bank’s 115 year history.

 

 

 

 

This is scary but not surprising. And it’s not about disinformation, but about anything that questions “official” info. “..the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”

It’s just partisan politics, flavored with a whiff of what both parties agree on, i.e. war. And it just so happens that the people who bring you this are the exact same lot that gave you Russia Russia, which was the biggest crop of disinformation ever.

Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans to Police Disinformation (IC)

Behind closed doors, and through pressure on private platforms, the U.S. government has used its power to try to shape online discourse. According to meeting minutes and other records appended to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is also running for Senate, discussions have ranged from the scale and scope of government intervention in online discourse to the mechanics of streamlining takedown requests for false or intentionally misleading information. Though DHS shuttered its controversial Disinformation Governance Board, a strategic document reveals the underlying work is ongoing. DHS plans to target inaccurate information on “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”

Facebook created a special portal for DHS and government partners to report disinformation directly. “Platforms have got to get comfortable with gov’t. It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain,” Microsoft executive Matt Masterson, a former DHS official, texted Jen Easterly, a DHS director, in February. In a March meeting, Laura Dehmlow, an FBI official, warned that the threat of subversive information on social media could undermine support for the U.S. government. Dehmlow, according to notes of the discussion attended by senior executives from Twitter and JPMorgan Chase, stressed that “we need a media infrastructure that is held accountable.” “We do not coordinate with other entities when making content moderation decisions, and we independently evaluate content in line with the Twitter Rules,” a spokesperson for Twitter wrote in a statement to The Intercept.

There is also a formalized process for government officials to directly flag content on Facebook or Instagram and request that it be throttled or suppressed through a special Facebook portal that requires a government or law enforcement email to use. At the time of writing, the “content request system” at facebook.com/xtakedowns/login is still live. [..] According to a draft copy of DHS’s Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, DHS’s capstone report outlining the department’s strategy and priorities in the coming years, the department plans to target “inaccurate information” on a wide range of topics, including “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.” [..] The inclusion of the 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is particularly noteworthy, given that House Republicans, should they take the majority in the midterms, have vowed to investigate. “This makes Benghazi look like a much smaller issue,” said Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., a member of the Armed Services Committee, adding that finding answers “will be a top priority.”

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And in view of DHS et al trying to control information flow, Ugo Bardi’s point is salient: Elon Musk understands that better than all the rest put together.

“The Bird is Free.” Will Elon Musk Become Grand Duke of Mars? (Ugo Bardi)

Some people absolutely love censorship. But many (perhaps most) users of social media didn’t like to be watched from over their shoulders by those overzealous nannies who pretended to know better than them what is true and what is not. That generated criticism, and some attempts to rein in the censors. But, so far, we only saw censorship increasing its reach and becoming more pervasive.Except for the news of the day: the bird is free! Elon Musk bought Twitter and promises to eliminate censorship.

What’s happening? There are several possible interpretations, but at least something is clear: those who rule us are not a monolithic entity, as the Communist Party was in the Soviet Union. There are several would-be world rulers who are vying for power behind the scene. Musk may actually be smarter than most of them and able to understand that you gain nothing by silencing those who disagree with you. Suppose he wants to become the next US president, or maybe the Grand Duke of Mars, then he has to think like the Grand Duke of Tuscany did. He needs to know what people think because he can rule only if people agree that he is the ruler. Ruling by force and oppression is inefficient and, often, the ruler ends up hanged by the feet. So, Musk may well understand that he needs to leave some space for people to express themselves. The bird may not be completely free, but it has to be able to fly.

We seem to be in a transition moment (we always are). The Internet is under pressure by the attempt of controlling it by the powers that be, turning it into a tool for a totalitarian government (in China, the government may have succeeded at that). But, at the same time, some members of the elites are realizing that the Internet is a much better tool if used according to its characteristic of a two-way communication system. The Internet may allow us to generate a new governance system that might be more effective and just than the old totalitarian systems. It might be part of a “new Renaissance” that could take some aspects similar to the way Cosimo the 1st ruled in Tuscany during the 16th century. Maybe. But, as always, the future will surprise us.

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But still, Musk would have to deflect the entire kitchen sink that will be thrown at him.

How Elon Musk Should Shape Twitter — Sans the Sink (Turley)

News reports last week seemed to start out like a bar joke: The richest man in the world walks in carrying a sink . . . Of course, it was a joke — a colossal joke. The question is whom the joke is on. For Elon Musk, the punch line was appropriately delivered on Twitter, the company he’s taking over Friday at an inflated price. Calling himself “Chief Twit,” Musk posted the video with the caption “Entering Twitter HQ — let that sink in!” For the Musk-phobic, it was as funny as a drive-by shooting. CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem denounced Musk’s taunt as “fundamentally cruel.” After all, when Musk was first reported to be buying the company, employees were so traumatized that leadership had to offer emotional support just to “get through the week.”

The reason is less the fear of Musk bringing bathroom fixtures than free speech into San Francisco headquarters. Twitter has created one of the largest censorship systems in world history — a system widely condemned for a pattern of political bias and viewpoint intolerance. Outgoing CEO Parag Agrawal is unabashedly hostile to traditional views of free speech. Soon after he took over, he pledged to regulate content and said the company would “focus less on thinking about free speech” because “speech is easy on the Internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard.” For employees who are true believers of this censorship scheme, the joke no doubt feels like it’s on them. The censorship skill set may not be quite as much in demand in a Musk-owned firm.

While Facebook, Google and other companies are still committed to corporate censorship, Musk has pledged to restore free speech principles to Twitter. But the joke may still be on Musk if he yields to Twitter’s corporate culture or the mainstream media’s unrelenting pressure. Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton have turned from private censorship to good old-fashioned state censorship. Clinton has called on foreign governments to step in and pass laws that would force Twitter to continue to censor opposing views. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently repeated this call for global censorship at the United Nations to the applause of diplomats and media alike. Musk may have to yield to such domestic laws, but he can use his platform to inform citizens of those countries they are being censored and controlled in what they are allowed to read.

The most important thing in America is for Musk to hit the ground running at Twitter. First, he needs to order the preservation of all records. There are well-supported examples of biased censorship, including the burying of The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story before the election. There are also allegations of back-channel communications from the government to manage a type of censorship-by-surrogate system to evade the First Amendment. Second, Musk should focus on the First Amendment as a model for Twitter’s content-management policy. It has become a mantra on the left that free-speech objections to social-media censorship are meritless because the First Amendment does not apply to private corporations.

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Lagarde should be fired for 1) making this statement, and 2) meaning it.

‘Inflation Came From Nowhere’ – Lagarde (RT)

The European Central Bank (ECB) has doubled its key interest rate to the highest level in more than a decade in an attempt to combat soaring inflation, ECB President Christine Lagarde has explained. In an interview with Irish national broadcaster RTE on Friday, Lagarde said: “We do it because we are fighting inflation” that had “pretty much come about from nowhere.” She pointed to a speedier-than-expected economic rebound from the pandemic as a cause alongside “the energy crisis caused by Mr. Putin who has decided in an unjustifiable way to invade another country.” The ECB chief added: “That’s what he [Putin] is trying to do, cause chaos and destroy as much of Europe as he can. This energy crisis is causing massive inflation which we have to defeat.”

She went on to say that “Anybody who is behaving in that way has to be driven by evil forces,” and that the “sick”Russian president is a “terrifying person.” Discussing her previous meetings with the Russian leader, Lagarde described him as an “unbelievably super-briefed person” with “flashing, freezing eyes.” After expressing her view, Lagarde however stressed that she’s “just a central banker,” and “shouldn’t be saying all these things.” On Thursday, the ECB announced another interest rate hike, taking Eurozone rates to the highest level since 2009. According to Lagarde, they are aimed at bringing inflation back to “reasonable levels so the cost of living isn’t as high as it is for people.” In September, inflation across the euro area hit 10%.

The EU has blamed Russia for the spiraling energy crisis across the continent. However, many economists point to the bloc’s fiscal policy responses as a major reason behind the crisis. Moscow has also criticized the “illogical and often absurd” moves by Western nations, saying that the sanctions imposed by the US, EU, and other countries on Russia have backfired and resulted in a sweeping energy crisis as well as record inflation across the West.

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This will cost Erdogan a lot of points. He negotiated the grain corridor, meant for Africa nations, but grabbed 34% for himself AND allowed Kiev to use the corridor to hide drones.

Putin Clarifies Position On Grain Deal (RT)

The grain deal between Moscow and Kiev has not met its stated goals, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday. Most of the Ukrainian agricultural products exported under the agreement have not reached the poorer nations they were supposedly intended for and have instead ended up in Europe and Türkiye, he argued. Putin said Moscow was suspending its participation in the deal, but not fully withdrawing from it. The deal was promoted to “secure the interests of the poorer nations,” he said, adding that, according to Russian intelligence, the real structure of Ukraine’s grain exports is vastly different. “We agreed to that [grain deal] precisely in the interests of the poorer nations,”the Russian president said.

“On the whole, it looks like 34% of [the Ukrainian] grain gets to Türkiye, 35% or even more is taken by the EU nations and only between three and four … or five percent, according to our Agriculture Ministry … goes to the poorer nations,” Putin said. His words came as the Russian military closed the Black Sea grain corridor used to export Ukrainian grain under the agreement reached in Istanbul in July. The agreement – mediated by the UN and Türkiye – was initially hailed as critical for easing the global food crisis and helping the world’s poorest nations avoid starvation. Russia has since repeatedly pointed out that the grain, in fact, goes to other destinations. Moscow decided to halt its participation in the deal following a massive drone attack on its naval base in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol last week.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the naval drones used in the attack navigated through the grain corridor’s security zone to reach their targets. One of them might have even been launched from a civilian vessel chartered to transport Ukrainian grain shipments, it added. Earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was ready to compensate the missing Ukrainian grain export volumes from its own stocks. At the same time, he said that Moscow could not yet name the conditions that would make it resume its participation in the deal. In the wake of Moscow’s decision to suspend its participation in the deal, the UN has insisted that “food must flow”regardless of circumstances. Civilian vessels “can never be a military target or held hostage,” the UN coordinator for the Black Sea grain initiative, Amir Abdulla, said. Russia has previously said that it could not guarantee the security of the grain corridor if Kiev used it for military purposes.

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Inevitable. If Turkey doesn’t do it, Russia must.

Russia Tells UN It Will Inspect Black Sea Ships (RT)

Ukraine “grossly violated” the Istanbul agreement on grain exports via the Black Sea and forced Moscow to suspend it indefinitely, Russia’s envoy to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council on Monday. The Russian Navy will inspect all cargo ships bound for Ukraine, even those unilaterally cleared by the Turkish-based coordination center, he added. “This subversive action of Kiev grossly violates the Istanbul agreements and, in fact, puts an end to their humanitarian dimension. It is now obvious to everyone that the Black Sea humanitarian corridor is being used by the Ukrainian side for military sabotage purposes,” Nebenzia said, referring to Saturday’s drone attack on Sevastopol. Russia “cannot guarantee the safety of civilian ships participating in the Black Sea initiative,” Nebenzia added, as “we do not know what other terrorist attacks Kiev is preparing with the support of its Western sponsors.”

On Sunday, after Moscow announced the suspension of the arrangement, the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul said it had greenlit 16 ships to navigate the corridor on Monday and “informed” Russia about the decision. According to maritime traffic data, at least two ships left the Black Sea port of Odessa in the morning, reporting Istanbul as their destination. “Decisions and measures taken without our participation are not binding on us,”Nebenzia told the UN. Moscow “cannot allow ships to pass without our inspection and will be forced to take independent measures” to inspect ships authorized by the JCC without Russian approval. Meanwhile, the UN coordinator for the Black Sea grain initiative, Amir Abdulla, insisted that “the food must flow.”

The UN and Türkiye mediated a deal in July under which Ukrainian grain could be exported via the Black Sea, while Western obstacles to the exportation of Russian grain and fertilizer would be removed. The US and its allies insist they had never sanctioned grain exports – but their sanctions on Russian ships and insurance made them impossible in practice. Moscow has criticized the West for not keeping its side of the deal and pointed out that the bulk of Ukrainian exports had gone to the EU and not the African nations most affected by food insecurity. Russia halted its compliance with the pact on Saturday, after Kiev launched a major drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo from Ukrainian ports. On Sunday, after studying the wreckage of the unmanned combat vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry said that those behind the attack made active use of the UN-brokered grain corridor.

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Just making friends.

Israeli Finance Minister Added To Kiev’s ‘Kill List’ (RT)

Israeli finance minister, Avigdor Lieberman has been added to the database of the “enemies of Ukraine” on the controversial Mirotvorets website on Sunday. The authors of the site, which is believed to have links to the Ukrainian security services, described Lieberman as “Russia’s agent of influence,” who had been manipulating publicly significant information in favor of Moscow. They also blamed him for taking part in acts of “humanitarian aggression” against Ukraine. Among the actions that led to Lieberman being placed on the list, were his refusal to finance an Israeli field hospital in Ukraine in March and his neutral stance on who is to blame for the massacre in the Kiev suburb of Bucha in April. The website also shared a link to an article, claiming that he had ties with Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Ukrainian authorities have frequently expressed their disappointment with the level of support they’ve been getting from Israel during the conflict with Russia. The country has only provided Kiev with humanitarian aid and life-saving defense equipment, but not weapons and munitions. Israel also refrained from joining international sanctions on Moscow. Last week, Liberman said that Israeli assistance to Ukraine since the outbreak of the fighting between Russia and Ukraine in late February amounted to some $40 million. Liberman has been finance minister since 2021. He’s a veteran politician, who has occupied various high positions in the Israeli government over the years, including foreign minister, defense minister, and deputy PM. The 64-year-old is also the head of Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), which holds seven seats in the country’s parliament, the Knesset.

Liberman was born in Chisinau, Moldova when the republic was part of the Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel in 1978. The Mirotvorets website, translated as ‘peacemaker’, was launched in 2014, positioning itself as an independent database run by anonymous moderators to help Ukrainian authorities and “special services” apprehend pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, and war criminals, among others. However, some have branded the database a ‘kill list,’ which is backed by the government, after several individuals, including writer Oles Buzina, politician Oleg Kalashnikov, and Russian journalist Darya Dugina were assassinated shortly after their profiles appeared on the website. The most recent high-profile additions to Mirotvorets included Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters. There were claims that the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, was put on the database in mid-October, but swiftly removed from it. The alleged addition happened after Musk offered a peace plan, which envisaged Kiev giving up territories to Moscow.

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Slow grind.

Much Of Kiev Without Power & Water After New Russian Airstrikes (ZH)

Much of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev is without electricity or water, after the latest round of major Russian airstrikes on Monday. The Russian military announced ‘successful’ strikes on multiple of the country’s vital infrastructure facilities. “The Russian Armed Forces continued to launch strikes with high-precision long-range air and sea-based weapons against Ukrainian military and energy facilities,” the Defense Ministry said. “The goals of the strikes were successful. All assigned objects were hit.” Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal confirmed direct hits on 18 sites – most of which were connected to the nation’s energy supply. These ramped up attacks have created a growing sense of panic with temperatures plunging and winter approaching.

“Missiles and drones hit 10 regions, where 18 sites were damaged, most of them energy-related,” Shmyhal stated on Telegram. “Hundreds of settlements in seven regions of Ukraine were cut off.” Facilities in Cherkasy and Kirovohrad also came under attack. Ukraine’s military said it intercepted projectiles over the Lviv region, which spared this western part of the country from damage. The Washington Post noted there are “power outages continuing in the Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions,” and others. The Post listed some of the below regions impacted by large-scale power outages and water supply disruptions:

• Kyiv region: Russian strikes damaged buildings, and rescuers are searching for victims, the regional police said. Attacks left 80 percent of the capital without water and are likely to cause sustained power outages, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
• Kharkiv: Two strikes hit critical infrastructure facilities in the eastern city, causing problems with the water supply and affecting the public transit network, the mayor said.
• Zaporizhzhia region: An infrastructure facility was struck by rockets, the local governor said, prompting warnings from officials in the southern region that energy supplies there could also be affected.
• Cherkasy region: Some of the region lost power after air attacks on infrastructure facilities, the military administrator said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the attacks as more war crimes: “Another batch of Russian missiles hits Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia fights civilians,” he tweeted. Additionally Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko announced on Telegram that these fresh strikes left 80% of residents in the capital without water and some 350,000 homes with no electricity. “Just in case, we ask you to stock up on water from the nearest pumps and points of sale,” he advised. The mayor’s office vowed that water supply to the effected parts of the city would be restored in three to four hours, with emergency utility crews working urgently on it.

Rescue teams in the capital are reportedly searching for possible casualties under the rubble of buildings destroyed or damaged from the new salvo of Russian strikes; however, at this point casualty numbers are unclear. The US ambassador said she and her staff had to take shelter in this latest attack on the capital: Already before Monday’s attacks, Ukrainian officials estimated that 40% of the nation’s electrical power systems had been severely damaged, and urged households to limit their usage, especially with non-essential large appliances. Ukrainians are further being warned to prepare for long-term power outages as a frigid winter is just around the corner.

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“The mirage is over. This Hell-begotten war must end.”

From The Surreal To The Real To The Meta-Real (Batiushka)

[..] the surreal continued when, on 23 October, with the Russian Defence Minister’s phone calls to his US, UK, French and Turkish counterparts about the Russian discovery of a Kiev/MI6 plot to use a ‘dirty’ bomb and blame it on Russia. Having outed the plot, Sergei Shoigu had alerted the US Establishment to the extremism of the now desperate Kiev elite (and their British MI6 operatives). The US put the Kiev crazies in their place, since, after all, the US are the string-pullers and puppets are not allowed to do anything without their express permission. The US duly stated that it has seen no evidence that Russia intends to use nuclear weaponry and President Putin stated that Russia has no plans to use nuclear weapons. The panic and hysteria of the Western media and of others was unfounded; though the mass media did not report the US admission. Panic and hysteria sell.

[..] Let us now come back to reality. The 87,5% of the world which either supports the Russian campaign to liberate the Ukraine, or else remains neutral towards it, shows the increasing isolation of the Nazi West. And it is now also crystal clear that ‘the West’ is in fact only the USA, just as NATO is only the USA, the Wicked Witch of the West. The rest is just camouflage, a mirage. In Italy, Germany, France, Moldova, the Czech Lands, Romania (the former Defence Minister), Bulgaria, Serbia, even in the UK, dissident voices are protesting. For God’s sake, negotiate with Russia! The Ukraine is their business, not ours, they’re all basically Russkies anyhow. We want gas and food! Who cares about the Nazi puppets in Kiev?

More and more all European governments, apart only from the Hungarian, are being seen as what they are – simply US puppet elites, who do not represent their peoples. EU or Non-EU Europe, there is no difference, apart from Hungary, which alone has, in every sense, a popular government. If Nobel Prizes were given non-politically, surely Victor Orban should have won one of them by now. Here the hypochondriac French are going crazy because China is sanctioning them by depriving them of paracetamol. Perhaps as many as 20% of Western Europeans have now realised that the whole Ukraine affair is a put-up job, arranged by the US, with its British poodle yapping at its feet. Same as Iraq, same as Afghanistan. Same old, same old.

The poodle is more papist than the Pope. Over the last two months it is notable that most Ukrainian flags have been taken down in Europe. It is rare to see one now. The working class were never interested, they always knew it was just another operation by the arms industry, but now even the conformist middle-class is taking down its Ukrainian flags. The mirage is over. This Hell-begotten war must end.

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UK was directly involved.

Drone Attack On Sevastopol (MoA)

This morning at 4:20 local time the Russian fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol was attacked by nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous maritime drones. Earlier a maritime drone that had run aground in Crimea and had been found and pictured. During today’s attack a large U.S. drone had flown circles south of Crimea. It likely relayed data from and to the drones. The maritime drones are British and Russia alleges that British specialists had trained the Ukrainian navy in using them. It also says that British soldiers were involved in the attack on the Nord Stream pipeline. The Ukrainians published two videos shot by the maritime drones while attacking. One of the video shows extensive gun fire impacts near the drone from a Russian helicopter that is attacking it.

The Russians say that all the aerial drones and 4 of 7 maritime drones were defeated before they could caused damage. They also say that one mine seeking ship was damaged in the harbor. It is possible that the damage is greater than Russia admits. As a consequence of the attack Russia declared that the deal which allowed for grain exports from Odessa has been suspended. That deal had already been in danger as the ‘west’ had not fulfilled its part of the deal which would have allowed for the export for Russian fertilizer to third parties. I find it likely that Russia will take additional measures to punish the Ukrainian navy for the brazen attack. Additional attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure is another possibility.

Meanwhile all recent attempts by the Ukrainian army to penetrate the Russian held lines have failed. It is notable that these are now much smaller in size with just a battalion or in some cases just two companies in the lead. It is now definitely mud season in Ukraine during which it is impossible to cross most farmland even on feet. This will hinder the attacking forces on both sides until winter sets in.

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Lula has strong ties to China and has been a driving force behind BRICS.

“..the next BRICS summit in South Africa, which will consolidate BRICS+, as an array of nations are itching to join, from Argentina and Saudi Arabia to Iran and Turkey.”

Comeback Kid Lula In The Eye Of A Volcano (Escobar)

Lula is one of the founders of the BRICS in 2006, which evolved out of the Russia-China dialogue. He’s immensely respected by the leaders of the Russia-China strategic partnership, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. He has promised to serve only one term, or up to the end of 2026. But that’s exactly the key stretch in the eye of the volcano, straddling the decade Putin described in his Valdai speech as the most dangerous and important since World War II. The drive towards a multipolar world, institutionally represented by a congregation of bodies from BRICS+ to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to the Eurasia Economic Union, will profit immensely to have Lula on board as arguably the natural leader of the Global South – with a track record to match.

Of course, his immediate foreign policy focus will be South America: he already announced that will be the destination of his first presidential visit, most probably Argentina, which is bound to join BRICS+. Then he will visit Washington. He has to. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Informed opinion across the Global South is very much aware that it’s under Obama-Biden that the whole, complex operation to topple Dilma and expel Lula from politics was orchestrated. Brazil will be a lame duck at the upcoming G20 in Bali in mid-November but in 2023 Lula will be back in business side-by-side with Putin and Xi. And that also applies to the next BRICS summit in South Africa, which will consolidate BRICS+, as an array of nations are itching to join, from Argentina and Saudi Arabia to Iran and Turkey.

And then there’s the Brazil-China nexus. Brasilia has been Beijing’s key trade partner in Latin America since 2009, absorbing roughly half of China’s investment in the region (and the most of any Latin American investment destination in 2021) and firmly placed as the fifth largest exporter of crude for the Chinese market, second for iron and first for soybeans. The precedents tell the story. Right from the start, in 2003, Lula bet on a strategic partnership with China. He considered his first trip to Beijing in 2004 as his top foreign policy priority. The goodwill in Beijing is unshakeable: Lula is considered an old friend by China – and that political capital will open virtually every red door.

In practice, that will mean Lula investing his considerable global clout in strengthening BRICS+ (he already stated BRICS will be at the center of his foreign policy) and the inner workings of South-South geopolitical and geo-economic cooperation. That may even include Lula formally signing up Brazil as a partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in a way that won’t antagonize the US. Lula, after all, is a master of this craft.

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Saudi Arabia cannot pick the US over OPEC+ and BRICS. It’s not in their interest.

Why The US-Saudi Relationship Is Withering (RT)

As the Gulf States are ultimately concerned with preserving their own value systems and independence, they have increasingly diversified their relationships in recent years with tilts towards Russia and China. Beijing, with its enormous demand for energy, has also become a lucrative alternative to the West. Similarly, stable ties with Moscow also allow for cooperation in the common interests of oil-exporting countries, which has also had the effect of reducing Western influence and dominance over those countries. On recognizing this, why would Saudi Arabia and the states of OPEC voluntarily undermine their own oil revenue merely to suit the geopolitical interests of the United States?

The world is in the middle of an energy price crisis exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. Saudi Arabia sees that the US and some of its allies want to purposefully try to lower the price of oil in a bid to try and hurt Russia. However, that is not how the market works and, by extension, such a move is also an assault on Saudi and OPEC interests. While the kingdom is officially neutral in regards to Russia-Ukraine, it also recognizes that the success of an energy price cap would embolden the West to push harder against Russia, which also serves to undermine the kingdom’s geopolitical independence.

In other words, if the US succeeded in dividing OPEC by unilaterally demanding a price cap on oil products, it would defeat the very purpose of the organization itself to protect the respective economic interests of those countries. The United States has been a useful partner to Saudi Arabia, but it is not a friend. It is not part of a ‘bloc’ or ideological coalition, as let’s say the UK is, but merely has seen the West as the most useful and lucrative partner to fulfil its own political needs. As those needs change, Saudi Arabia’s preferences are also subject to change. Washington is therefore learning that the kingdom is not a client state to be called on when needed, and thus this very close and often contradictory partnership is starting to strain.

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Nero comes to mind.

They Rule Over Dysfunctional Ruin, but They Rule (Crooke)

Since 2008, we have lived in a western world shaped by the ‘permanent state’ or by our managerial technocrats – label to choice. This ‘creative class’ (as they like to see themselves) is particularly defined by its intermediary position in relation to the wealth-controlling oligarchic cabal as ultimate big money overlords on one hand, and the dullard ‘Middle Class’ below them – at whom they sneer and deride. This intermediary class didn’t set out to dominate politics (they say); It just happened. Initially, the aim was to foster progressive values. But instead, these professional technocrats, who both had accreted considerable wealth and were tightly congregated into cliques in America’s large metro areas, came to dominate left-wing parties around the world that formerly were vehicles for the working class.

Those who coveted membership in this new ‘aristocracy’ cultivated their image as one of cosmopolitan, fast-moving money, glamour, fashion, and popular culture – multiculturalism suited them to perfection. Painting themselves as the political conscience of the whole of society (if not the world), the reality was that their Zeitgeist reflected primarily the whims, prejudices and increasingly psychopathies of one segment of liberal society. Into this milieu arrived two defining events: In 2008, Ben Bernanke, Chair of the Federal Reserve, gathered together in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, a room-full of the wealthiest oligarchs, ‘locking them in’ until they found the solution to the unfolding systemic bank failure.

The oligarchs did not find a solution but were released from their lock-up anyway. They opted instead, to throw money at structural problems, compounded by egregious errors of judgement about risk. And to finance the resulting massive losses – which were over $10 trillion in the U.S. alone – the world’s central banks began printing money – since when they have never stopped! Thus begun the era in the West where deep problems are not solved, but simply have freshly-printed money thrown at them. This methodology was whole-heartedly adopted by the EU also, where it was called Merkelism (after the former German Chancellor). Underlying structural contradictions were simply left to accumulate; kicked down the road.

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“To provide some perspective, from 2020- Q2 2022, US government debt increased over $7 trillion.”

US Economic Decline And Global Instability Part 3 (Phillyguy)

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s leading power. Since that time, US global supremacy has rested on unrivaled military and economic power, control of world’s energy reserves (primarily in the Middle East), and maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. This relationship began to transform in the mid-1970s, as US corporate profits began to stagnate/decline, the proximate cause being the 1973-1975 recession [3], a consequence of increased competition from rebuilt economies in Europe- primarily Germany (Marshall Plan) [4], Japan/South Korea (Korean war) and more recently China. The US ruling elite responded to this economic challenge by pursing neoliberal economic policies (reviewed in [1]).

This included: 1) multiple tax cuts for the wealthy, 2) financial deregulation- repeal of Glass–Steagall legislation (1933 Banking Act) by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA) in 1999 and Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) of 2000, that exempted over-the-counter derivatives trades between financial firms from regulation. It should be noted that both of these bills were passed during the waning years of the Clinton Administration and may have been a quid pro quo to spare President Clinton an impeachment conviction over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky [5]. 3) attacks on labor and the poor and job outsourcing to Mexico, China and other low-wage platforms, facilitated by passage of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 [6].

The effect of these policies is vividly observed in the manufacturing sector. In 1960 the US produced 50% of global manufacturing output, accounting for 25% of GDP. Today, the US produces circa 17% of global manufacturing output, accounting for 11% of GDP [7]. 4) Spending vast amounts of taxpayer money (> $20 trillion) on post-911 militarization. The neoliberal economic policies outlined above precipitated the Global Financial Crisis 2007-2008 (GFC), the largest financial crash since the Great Depression [8] [9] [10]. None of the structural economic problems giving rise to the GFC (listed above) have been resolved; instead, the FED has used the US Treasury as a taxpayer-funded ‘piggy bank’ (the FED cannot print money) to pump over $40 trillion (this figure may be as high as $50 trillion) to support insolvent banks, inflate bond and equity markets and over-priced real estate, creating the ‘everything bubble’ [11].

Thus, since 2009, the US ‘economy’ has been sustained by continuous money printing to prop up financial markets and the Pentagon. Not surprisingly, this has been accompanied by an explosion of debt and rising inflation, further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian energy, which has led to demands for even more money to support financial markets and the Pentagon. To provide some perspective, from 2020- Q2 2022, US government debt increased over $7 trillion [12].

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Must read history lesson.

Russia’s New Regions On Collision Course With Ukraine 100 Years Ago (Nepogodin)

When four formerly Ukrainian regions joined Russia nearly a month ago, the collective West tried to present the occurrence as treacherous, unprecedented, and lacking local support. However, the reunification was preceded by a century-long struggle by a large amount of the regions’ inhabitants for the right to be considered Russians. In February 2015, the deputies of the parliament of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) signed a memorandum declaring the continuity of their statehood from the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic, one of the numerous entities that emerged during the Russian Civil War. This quasi-state, which was created by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and aspired to become part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), included not only Donbass, but also the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions.


History may zigzag, but time puts everything in its place. Today, Russian Donbass is restoring lost ties with Russia and establishing new ones,” wrote Denis Pushilin, the head of the DPR, shortly before the start of Russia’s military offensive. In this article, RT explores the brief history of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic and explains why the residents of Donbass wanted to live as part of Russia even 100 years ago. Back in 1999, the famous Russian political geographer and theorist Vladimir Kagansky wrote a large article entitled ‘Ukraine: Geography and Fate of the Country’, in which he made a forecast: Ukraine will inevitably transform, and this transformation mainly depends on Russia. He concluded that its self-determination would inevitably be anti-Russian, citing the country’s “stretchable borders” as one of the main reasons. At a minimum, this would encompass just the right bank of the Dnieper, or even Galicia alone.

At a maximum, the borders would stretch to the southern Russian cities of Voronezh and Stavropol. “The USSR and the CIS are a semi-empire of republics around Russia, and Ukraine is the main link in this necklace, a geopolitical pendant. Ukraine divides the space of the former USSR into separate, geographically separated blocks, and connects three blocks (Belarus and the Baltic States – Moldova – the Caucasus). Ukraine is the only alternative to Russia as the center of the current CIS and the entire post-Soviet space. It is the only way to potentially bypass Russia – the main anti-Russian bastion, and Russia’s main partner in the arrangement of this space,” wrote Kagansky.

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Inflation As A Prelude To War

 

 

Rogan The Shining

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 202022
 


Gustave Moreau Helen on the Walls of Troy 1885

 

In The Multipolar World Iran Will No Longer Fear U.S. Sanctions (MoA)
On Liberating Europe (Batiushka)
Kiev Names Condition For Peace Talks With Moscow (RT)
Kiev Threatens To Destroy Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (RT)
Zelensky Widens Purge Of Security Services (BBC)
Timetable For Return Of Nord Stream Turbine Revealed (RT)
Costs Of Ukraine War A Test For European Leaders – And It May Get Worse (G.)
US Army Cuts Force Size Amid Unprecedented Battle For Recruits (AP)
Ex-Trump Official In Demand After Twitter Backs Down On Covid Censorship (JTN)
Paul Pelosi $1M Chip Stock Purchase: A Long History Of ‘Timely’ Buys (JTN)
Prediction For Unvaccinated And Never Previously Infected (Geert)
Don’t Let ‘Voodoo Science’ Keep Djokovic From Competing in US Open (Thakur)

 

 

About eating bugs…

 

 

Attali

 

 

 

 

Biden Poroshenko

 

 

 

 

Tucker Ray Epps
https://twitter.com/i/status/1549054198855122947

 

 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called for an international investigation of war crimes by the UK and the US
https://twitter.com/i/status/1549152060276441092

 

 

Soros Ukraine
https://twitter.com/i/status/1549374225290596352

 

 

 

 

“With such a large deal will also come protection. Iran will be able to call on Russia should someone start hostilities against it…”

In The Multipolar World Iran Will No Longer Fear U.S. Sanctions (MoA)

But the greatest news for Iran is a new deal with Russia’s Gazprom that was signed today: “The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Russian gas producer Gazprom signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding worth around $40 billion, Iran’s oil ministry’s news agency SHANA reported. The deal was signed during an online ceremony by the CEOs of both companies on the day Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran for a summit with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts. Gazprom will help NIOC in the development of the Kish and North Pars gas fields and also six oil fields, according to SHANA. Gazprom will also be involved in the completion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects and construction of gas export pipelines. Iran sits on the world’s second-largest gas reserves after Russia, but US sanctions have hindered access to technology and slowed development of gas exports.”

Gazprom is a strong partner and can not be hindered by U.S. sanctions. Iran will finally be able export more of its plentiful gas. Russia will also have a chance to work with Iran to keep the prices at a certain level. With such a large deal will also come protection. Iran will be able to call on Russia should someone start hostilities against it. When Iran produces enough gas it can also revive the old project of a pipeline to India. This could either go through Pakistan or, as India would probably prefer, through an undersea pipeline: “A 1,300-km undersea pipeline from Iran, avoiding Pakistani waters, can bring natural gas from the Persian Gulf to India at rates less than the price of Liquefied Natural Gas available in the spot market, proponents of the pipeline said on Tuesday. Releasing a study on the Iran-India gas pipeline, former oil secretary T.N.R. Rao said natural gas imported through the over $4 billion line would cost $5-5.50 per million British thermal unit at the Indian coast, cheaper than the rate at which some of the domestic fields supply gas”

Despite U.S. sanctions Iran is again becoming fully integrated into its region. It is a great success and the gas and transit deals will help its economy to make some gains even as the U.S. adds new sanctions. Russia, India and China are partners who can and will ignore those. Iran now also has the capability to produce sufficient nuclear material for a number of bombs. It will not use this capability as its religious ideology prohibits the making and use of such weapons. But it is a latent threat that can be used to deter Israel and the U.S. from any attack. That Trump left the nuclear deal was dumb. That Biden did not revive it immediately after taking office was even dumber. To now stay out of it, only to keep some stupid sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp, is the dumbest step I can think of.

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“..the bankruptcy of the West that should have happened over thirty years ago is happening now..”

On Liberating Europe (Batiushka)

Just over thirty years ago the Communist USSR went bankrupt – it could not raise enough money to pay off its debts on capital markets. The West should have gone bankrupt at the same time because it too had colossal debts, however through the financial manipulations of its Capitalism it was able to raise the capital. So it went morally bankrupt instead. Firstly, there was the fascism of political correctness. Like so many destructive movements the initial intentions were good, but as we know that the road to hell is paved with them. It was precisely after 1991 that the use of the phrase ‘political correctness’ as a pejorative phrase became widespread in the USA.

Secondly, at the same time there began the Western attack on Islam, or rather the Western grab of Arab oil and gas, by telling Saddam Hussein that he could recover Kuwait, which had been illegitimately cut off from oil-rich Iraq by British imperialism, but then withdrawing that support once he had done it and so pretexting a reason to attack him. The first Gulf War followed, with a second one to follow after the invasion and failed occupation of Afghanistan, and then chaos in the ‘Arab Spring’. Thirdly, at the same time, in 1992 there began the attempt to depopulate, dismantle and destroy the Russian Lands, culminating 22 years later in the US coup d’etat in Kiev in 2014, which cost US taxpayers $5 billion and has cost them many times more since. Inbetween there have been all manner of Western manipulations, from 9/11 to covid.

Such is hubris. ‘We are the only Superpower’. ‘The end of history has come’. And so today the Western world finds itself isolated. The ‘international community’, ‘the free world’, has only 13% of the world population and depends on the rest of the world, on the 87%. Outmatched by the population of the rest of the world and its GDP, it produces only a smallish amount of oil, gas, food, fertiliser and manufactured goods. Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, indeed nearly all of Asia, Africa and Latin America, stand together against the neocolonial manipulations and neocon lies of the Western world, whose unity is now crumbling. Moreover, the Western world is bankrupt. The USA alone owes an unpayable £30 trillion. Thus, the bankruptcy of the West that should have happened over thirty years ago is happening now.

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“..after Russia’s defeat on the battlefield..”

Kiev Names Condition For Peace Talks With Moscow (RT)

Peace negotiations with Moscow will make sense only after Russia’s defeat on the battlefield, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has declared. In an interview with Forbes Ukraine published on Monday, Kuleba named Russia’s “aggressive behavior” as a reason for the absence of peace talks, arguing that any negotiations “are directly linked to the situation at the front.” “I tell all partners a simple thing: ‘Russia should sit down at the negotiating table after defeat on the battlefield. Otherwise, it will be the language of ultimatums again,’” Kuleba explained. He stressed that President Zelensky does not rule out “the possibility of negotiations” but believes that “there is no reason” for talks now. “He communicated this very clearly to the leaders of the countries who had hinted at negotiations.

These leaders have also stopped talking about it,” Kuleba said. In June, Ukraine’s top negotiator David Arakhamia suggested that Kiev believes it could achieve “favorable position” by late August after it conducts “counteroffensive operations in certain areas.” On Sunday, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who is now a deputy chairman of the country’s Security Council, said that there shouldn’t be any doubts that all the goals of his country’s military operation in Ukraine would be achieved. At the same time, he noted that “such actions are not of an immediate nature,” referring to some of Vladimir Putin’s previous statements. “The President has repeatedly spoken about this, there are certain scenarios of how such operations are unfolding,” Medvedev explained.

Moscow and Kiev started peace talks four days after the start of the Russian military offensive in Ukraine in late February. The sides have held several rounds in person in Belarus and then continued the talks via video link. In late March, the delegations from Russia and Ukraine met once again, in Istanbul. Since then, however, the talks have completely stalled. The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia had provided Ukraine with a draft agreement but Kiev has ignored it. Peskov has previously accused the US and its allies of “actively betting on the continued war” and of not allowing Kiev “neither to think nor talk about or discuss peace.” Moscow has also warned the West against supplying Ukraine with weapons, saying that this would only lead to prolongation of the conflict and unnecessary casualties but would not change the outcome.

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With US weapons. What could go wrong?

Kiev Threatens To Destroy Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (RT)

Russian ships and Crimea could be attacked with Western-supplied weapons, Ukrainian deputy defense minister says Ukraine will crush Russia’s Black Sea fleet and regain control of Crimea with Western weapons, the country’s Deputy Defense Minister, Vladimir Gavrilov has vowed during a visit to the UK. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is based in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, is “a permanent threat” to Ukraine, and Kiev has to address this issue, Gavrilov said in an interview with the Times on Tuesday. Kiev was waiting to get longer-range weapons from foreign nations before launching an assault, he added. “We are receiving anti-ship capabilities and sooner or later we will target the fleet. It is inevitable because we have to guarantee the security of our people,” the deputy defense minister explained.

Gavrilov claimed that Ukraine is also planning to take back Crimea – which overwhelmingly voted to reunite with Russia in a 2014 referendum after a coup in Kiev. According to the official, the Ukrainian government was holding discussions with their Western backers on whether it could use foreign-supplied arms to target Russian forces on the peninsula. American officials earlier assured that Kiev had promised that US-made arms, including 142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS multiple launch rocket systems, would not be used to attack Russian territory. However, Kiev says it doesn t view Crimea as part of Russia, considering it to be a Ukrainian area occupied by Moscow. Sooner or later we will have enough resources to target Russia in the Black Sea and Crimea.

Crimea is Ukrainian territory, that s why any target there is legitimate for us, the deputy defense minister stated. Gavrilov also didn’t rule out the use of diplomatic means in order to reclaim Crimea, saying that we have to think very carefully how to do it in the right way. Russia will have to leave Crimea if they wish to exist as a country, Gavrilov insisted. His statements didn’t go unnoticed in Moscow, with Kremlin press secretary, Dmitry Peskov saying that they were “yet another proof that [Russia’s] special military operation was a correct and absolutely justified move because it was the only way to save Ukraine from such leaders” as Gavrilov.

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I don’t think we’re getting the real story here.

Zelensky Widens Purge Of Security Services (BBC)

President Volodymyr Zelensky has continued his purge of Ukraine’s security service (SBU) by dismissing the organisation’s deputy director. Volodymyr Horbenko is the latest official to lose his job after Mr Zelensky said bosses failed to root out pro-Russian elements in the agency. Regional chiefs in several other cities were also dismissed, Mr Zelensky said. It comes as MPs voted to dismiss SBU chief Ivan Bakanov and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. On Monday, an adviser to Mr Zelensky suggested that the pair had merely been suspended pending an investigation, after the president initially appeared to sack them in a late-night address. But on Tuesday the Ukrainian leader laid down a motion of no-confidence in the pair before parliament, which was approved by an overwhelming majority of MPs.


There have been reports for several weeks that Mr Zelensky wanted to replace Mr Bakanov after coming to blame him for failures in stopping the Russian advance in February. Neither of the top officials, both of whom Mr Zelensky personally appointed, are accused of betraying their country. But they ran agencies where Russian interference appears to have impacted Ukraine’s ability to hold territory in the opening days of the war. Speaking after the vote, the leader of Mr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, David Arakhamia, said new information had recently come to light, and the purge of the SBU would continue in the coming days. “There will be many ‘cleanses’, because over the years many residents of the Russian special services have secretly entrenched themselves within the walls of the SBU, unfortunately,” Mr Arakhamia said, adding: “They got access to materials that they didn’t have before.” On Sunday, Mr Zelensky said over 60 former SBU and prosecutor’s office employees were now working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied areas.

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Early August.

Timetable For Return Of Nord Stream Turbine Revealed (RT)

A crucial turbine from the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline was airlifted from Canada to Germany on Sunday, Kommersant newspaper has reported, citing its sources. The part will then travel for another five to seven days by ferry to its destination in Russia, the paper revealed on Monday. If everything goes smoothly and there’s no delay at customs, the turbine will be fitted and ready to pump gas in early August, Kommersant noted. The Siemens turbine was stuck in Canada after undergoing repairs there due to Ottawa’s Ukraine-related sanctions on Russia. Canada initially refused to return the part, as it regarded the equipment as a dual-use product subject to sanctions.


After negotiations with Berlin, however, Ottawa decided to use an indirect delivery route to avoid violating its own sanctions against Moscow. The delay forced Russian gas exporter Gazprom to slash exports of natural gas to Germany by as much as 60% last month, as the pumping station was technically unable to pump at normal levels without the turbine. The Nord Stream pipeline is an important route for gas exports from Russia to the EU because it offers direct deliveries to Germany, bypassing Ukraine. Deliveries via the pipeline were temporarily stopped on July 11 for 10 days of scheduled maintenance.

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Whack-a-mole.

Costs Of Ukraine War A Test For European Leaders – And It May Get Worse (G.)

Desperate efforts in Italy to prevent the fall of Mario Draghi’s government are only the latest political firestorm in Europe tied to Vladimir Putin’s tests of the west’s powers of endurance. Draghi’s foreign minister, Luigi di Maio, suggested it will be Putin who celebrated the fall of another western government if Draghi does not survive a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday. “A boat without a rudder goes adrift,” said Ferruccio Resta, the president of the Conference of Italian University Rectors – a metaphor that could apply, to Putin’s satisfaction, to much of Europe as governments come under growing pressure over the perceived domestic cost of the war in Ukraine.

The narrative of a brewing popular revolt against western sanctions on Russia certainly fits well with Putin’s central narrative that time and economics are on his side since the sanctions are damaging European consumers more than Russia’s. He feels soaring fuel prices are the most lethal of macroeconomic shocks for politicians as they drive inflation while slowing economic growth. As yet it is premature to take a definitive view about the scale of the potential electoral backlash in Europe, and Josep Borrell, the EU foreign affairs spokesperson, for instance, angrily complained that rising prices were being attributed to EU sanctions without any evidence. Borrell said of the critics of EU sanctions: “Don’t they have eyes? Do they not look at the graphs? Do they not consider figures or facts?”

In France, Emmanuel Macron has been weakened if not muted by the loss of his parliamentary majority to parties more naturally sympathetic to Putin. In Spain, the Socialists, facing elections next year, have just lost their power base in Andalusia, the most populous region. The centre-right People’s party achieved a new record high of 36.3 % in the latest GAD3 poll, its best result since April 2017. If repeated in an election it would be its best result since 2011. In Estonia, the fiercely anti-Putin prime minister, Kaja Kallas, survived last week after her previous coalition government fell in a dispute linked to the country’s inflation rate of 19%, the highest in the 19-nation eurozone. Electricity prices in Estonia are at a record high, averaging €300 per megawatt-hour last week.

Kallas skilfully reconstructed her government, but at some cost to the Estonian budget and her credibility. If the economy has not improved by the time of legislative elections next March, she could be in trouble. In Warsaw, the PiS frets about electoral defeat next autumn, even if the opposition would remain supportive of Ukraine. In Bulgaria, a pro-western government has fallen. And, of course, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has just been let down spectacularly by the self-inflicted demise of Boris Johnson in Britain. The politician who has fared best at the ballot box most recently is probably Viktor Orbán, Putin’s greatest ally in Europe. Orbán is glorying in it. He said at first he believed European politicians had only “shot themselves in the foot”, but now it is clear that it was a shot to the lungs of the European economy, which is struggling for air everywhere.

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Jesse Kelly’s comment is spot on.

US Army Cuts Force Size Amid Unprecedented Battle For Recruits (AP)

The Army is significantly cutting the total number of soldiers it expects to have in the force over the next two years, as the U.S. military faces what a top general called “unprecedented challenges” in bringing in recruits. Army officials on Tuesday said the service will fall about 10,000 soldiers short of its planned end strength for this fiscal year, and prospects for next year are grimmer. Army Gen. Joseph Martin, vice chief of staff for the Army, said it is projecting it will have a total force of 466,400 this year, down from the expected 476,000. And the service could end 2023 with between 445,000 and 452,000 soldiers, depending on how well recruiting and retention go. With just two and a half months to go in the fiscal year, the Army has achieved just 50% of its recruiting goal of 60,000 soldiers, according to Lt. Col. Randee Farrell, spokeswoman for Army Secretary Christine Wormuth.

Based on those numbers and trends, it is likely the Army will miss the goal by nearly 25% as of Oct. 1. If the shortfalls continue, Martin said, they could have an impact on readiness. “We’ve got unprecedented challenges with both a post-COVID-19 environment and labor market, but also competition with private companies that have changed their incentives over time,” Martin told a House Armed Services subcommittee on Tuesday. Asked if the Army will have to adjust its force structure to meet national security and warfighting missions around the world, Martin said: “We don’t need to do that immediately. But if we don’t arrest the decline that we’re seeing right now in end strength, that could be a possibility in the future.”

Cutting the size of the Army is the best option, said Wormuth. “The Army is facing our most challenging recruiting environment since the inception of the all-volunteer force. This is not a one-year challenge. We will not solve this overnight,” she said, adding that the service is looking at a wide range of steps to recruit more soldiers without lowering standards or sacrificing quality. “We are facing a very fundamental question,” she added. “Do we lower standards to meet end strength, or do we lower end strength to maintain a quality, professional force? We believe the answer is obvious — quality is more important than quantity.”

The Army’s recruiting problems are the most severe across the military, but the other services are also having a tough time finding young people who want to join and can meet the physical, mental and moral requirements. Senior Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps leaders have said they are hopeful they will meet or just slightly miss their recruiting goals for this year. But they said they will have to dip into their pool of delayed entry applicants, which will put them behind as they begin the next recruiting year.

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“I won’t lose,” he said, tagging Twitter support. “I have your receipts and it’s clear you have amateurs in charge of your censorship operation.”

Ex-Trump Official In Demand After Twitter Backs Down On Covid Censorship (JTN)

A Trump administration lawyer secured journalist Alex Berenson’s reinstatement to Twitter in a legal settlement and got quick results when he warned the social media platform on behalf of Ivy League epidemiologist Andrew Bostom last week. James Lawrence III, former Department of Health and Human Services deputy general counsel and chief counsel at the FDA, is now being sought by other users also sanctioned for sharing “misleading and potentially harmful” information related to COVID-19. Kevin McKernan, a veteran genomics researcher on the verge of permanent suspension, said he’s “in contact” with Lawrence but declined to specify further to Just the News.

Daniel Kotzin, an outspoken critic of COVID-19 vaccines with a large Twitter following, suggested he’d hire Lawrence after losing his first lawsuit, which alleged Twitter colluded with federal officials to sanction him. (A similar lawsuit by Republican attorneys general is moving into discovery.) Bostom told Just the News that Twitter reinstated his account, suspended for sharing a peer-reviewed study on COVID vaccines and male fertility, within “a few hours” of Lawrence’s legal threat letter, which gave Twitter a July 21 deadline. Lawrence noted Bostom’s voluminous research and publishing when he was on the faculty at Brown University’s medical school. He’s now a research physician at a Brown-affiliated hospital.

Bostom was not saying “the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility” but rather “citing research and asking questions,” Lawrence told Twitter head of legal Vijaya Gadde. Twitter’s misinformation ban explicitly exempts “debate about research” that does not “intentionally misrepresent research findings.” Using the same breach-of-contract argument that convinced a federal judge to let Berenson’s lawsuit continue, Lawrence said Twitter ignored “its own progressive discipline policy” and instead “retrofit” Bostom’s single flagged tweet into its repeated-violation policy. Kevin McKernan managed MIT’s research and development for the Human Genome Project. “You can restore this account to zero strikes, or prepare for some legal expense,” he wrote in a Saturday tweet thread after his latest lockup in “TwitMo.” “I won’t lose,” he said, tagging Twitter support. “I have your receipts and it’s clear you have amateurs in charge of your censorship operation.”

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Shameless.

Paul Pelosi $1M Chip Stock Purchase: A Long History Of ‘Timely’ Buys (JTN)

Paul Pelosi, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, purchased between $1 million and $5 million of stock in a semiconductor company ahead of an upcoming vote on legislation containing $52 billion for chipmakers — the latest in a long history of similar purchases. A Data for Progress poll found that 70% of respondents support a ban on lawmakers trading individual stocks and 68% agree with extending the ban to their spouses. Pelosi’s husband made headlines when he purchased a substantial amount of tech stock last year under his wife’s speakership. Pelosi made millions on “timely” bets with Big Tech stock buys in advance of an antitrust bill that was moving through the House, according to a Fortune report from July 2021. The antitrust legislation ultimately stalled, but Pelosi tech stock buys have continued throughout this year.

In March, the speaker disclosed that her husband bought Apple as well as Disney and PayPal shares. Retail traders track Pelosi’s trades to “find winners,” Yahoo reported. Pelosi was involved in controversy regarding Visa stock purchases he made in 2008 while credit card companies were reportedly lobbying his wife to stop legislation that would curb credit card swipe fees to vendors, CBS News reported at the time. “The Pelosis purchased 5,000 shares of Visa at the initial price of $44 dollars,” the CBS report read. “Two days later it was trading at $64.” CBS noted that the swipe fee legislation, the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, eventually did pass the House. “I will hold my record in terms of fighting the credit card companies as speaker of the House or as a member of Congress up against anyone,” Speaker Pelosi told “60 Minutes.”

[..] Peter Schweizer, author of the 2011 book “Throw Them All Out,” was instrumental in educating the public about the lack of stock trading laws applicable to members of Congress. After his book was published, Congress passed the STOCK Act, and former President Obama signed it into law. The bill is designed to prevent insider trading, but it doesn’t ban members of Congress or their spouses from buying individual stocks. Under the bill, lawmakers are required to file financial disclosure reports that show the purchases made. Schweizer has long called on Congress to prohibit lawmakers and their spruces from trading individual stocks.

“They still sort of continue to blatantly trade in stocks,” Schweizer told Just the News in October 2021. “So in the case of the Pelosis, for example, she’s the Speaker of the House, legislation that’s going to affect Big Tech in a positive way or big contracts going to Big Tech, her husband’s not only buying and selling stock in Big Tech, he’s actually buying options, which are sort of leveraged bets that the stock is going to go one way or the other. And, of course, Paul Pelosi Sr. just happens to be really good at making those predictions.”

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“Unvaccinated can now largely forget about contracting severe C-19 disease as the next big mutation will most likely make the unvaccinated resistant to the virus..”

Prediction For Unvaccinated And Never Previously Infected (Geert)

What would be your prediction for those who are both unvaccinated against COVID-19 and never previously infected? Let’s say those of working age(20 – 55) in fairly good health. Should they be worried about Avian Flu and Monkeypox, since they have not experienced an infection by SARS-CoV-2? Are they at risk for serious illness from these more infectious (and future more virulent) SARS-CoV-2 mutants?

Answer: It would be quite unbelievable that they didn’t get exposed to SC-2 given the high infectiousness of previously and currently circulating variants. Ideally, they should have their Abs tested (anti-S would be sufficient since they’re not vaccinated). They can also have their Abs tested against Flu. If all this is negative (which would point to poor activation of natural immunity), they can just take one shot of a live attenuated measles or mumps or rubella or varicella vaccine (or all together in one shot) to boost their innate immune response. (However, they should only do so if they got MMR(V)-vaccinated in the past. The better their innate immune status, the lower the likelihood they are going to catch severe disease from these viruses. But anyhow, for a person in good health, it is highly unlikely to develop severe disease from Monkeypox (as it is – for now(!) – not highly infectious) or from Avian Flu as they must at least have had contact with Flu viruses in the past and hence, have some ‘Flu-trained’ innate immunity.)

Unvaccinated can now largely forget about contracting severe C-19 disease as the next big mutation will most likely make the unvaccinated resistant to the virus. However, if they have not yet been infected at all by any of these highly infectious variants, they could still contract C-19 disease (before that new variant emerges) and become seriously ill (but not ‘severely ill’ as long as they are in good health with no comorbidities and predisposing factors). To avoid this, they should either prevent risky contacts (difficult) till the next variant appears (in my opinion, just a matter of weeks) or take Ivermectin orHCQ as soon as symptoms manifest (but not prophylactically).

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“Djokovic had to be kept out of Australia not because he could infect others but because he is a visible reminder of vaccine failure.”

Don’t Let ‘Voodoo Science’ Keep Djokovic From Competing in US Open (Thakur)

So Novak Djokovic has won Wimbledon, the second tennis major this year to be plagued by self-inflicted wounds following the Australian Open whose crown Djokovic was unceremoniously prevented from defending. I concluded then that God must be a Djoker. How else to explain that banks that once feared masked robbers insisted on masked customers in 2020-21, Big Pharma blamed the failure of a product on those who refused to take it and sporting bodies that banned drug-injecting competitors mandated a drug with no long-term safety data? According to one site that tracks the adverse events associated with sportspeople, by mid-July 1,174 athletes — by definition one of the fittest cohorts in society — had suffered cardiac arrests and other serious side effects, of whom 779 had died.

The claim that “No-vax” Djokovic poses a threat to others’ health is risible. Among the best tennis players of all time, one of the greatest contemporary athletes across all sporting codes and also possibly the healthiest human being on the planet who is obsessive-compulsive about his fitness, Djokovic was unable to play in the Australian Open because he refused to take a COVID vaccine. Now he faces the repeat prospect of the Biden administration barring him from entering to compete in the US Open, even though unvaccinated Americans can compete. That would be unfortunate. The vaccination mandate for international arrivals made little sense back in January and is now demonstrably reliant on voodoo science.

[..] It’s indisputable that vaccination does not provide protection against getting infected or infecting others. If health authorities were honest, then to be consistent with their 2021 messaging, they would now be using the language of the pandemic of the vaccinated. The scale of the problem is such that suspicions arise that rapidly waning efficacy, especially after repeated boosters, might not be the only issue. In addition to the studiously ignored problem of adverse events, many serious and some fatal, could the vaccines themselves be sustaining and driving the pandemic? Against this hard data that is now available, the decision in January to stop Djokovic from coming into Australia seems even more perverse. As a BBC analysis made clear, that decision was neither medical nor legal but political.

A court overturned the entry ban on procedural and substantive grounds. The government then made an end run around the legal system by relying on ministerial discretion that had deliberately been made nonjusticiable. Accepting that Djokovic posed “a negligible individual risk of transmitting COVID-19” to others, the minister nonetheless concluded that because Djokovic had a “well-known stance on vaccination,” his very presence could fuel anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia. Consequently, his participation was not in the public interest. Thus Djokovic had to be kept out of Australia not because he could infect others but because he is a visible reminder of vaccine failure.

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Simpsons 2006

 

 

Tucker Harrowing

 

 

 

 


Mount Fuji

 

 

 

 

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May 262022
 


Gustave Courbet The village maidens 1852

 

History is Being Written Before our Eyes (Baliushka)
Russia, China Give World a Glimpse of What WWIII Could Look Like (Celente)
Russia To Open Sea Corridors From Ukraine Ports Amid Wheat Crisis (ZH)
Grains of Deceit (Saker)
‘Fast-Tracked’ Russian Citizenship For Occupied Ukrainian Territories (ZH)
Defending Sovereignty: The Fight of our Lifetime (Malone)
Summary of ‘2000 Mules’ (Attkisson)
FBI Spied on 3.3 Million Americans Without a Warrant (ET)
Comey et al Were “Fired Up” to Pursue the False Alfa Bank Claims (Turley)
German Regulators Recommend mRNA Vaccination for Young Children (Eugyp)
Monkeypoxmania (CJ Hopkins)

 

 

 

 

Assange saw it all before you did

 

 

 

 

And it’s not us who write it.

History is Being Written Before our Eyes (Baliushka)

In 1945 the US and the UK betrayed and turned on their ally, the Soviet Union, which was far too victorious against Nazi Germany for their taste. For the war-crime bombings of Dresden, ordered by the half-American Churchill, and of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ordered by the full-American Truman, were warnings – issued not to the already crushed Germany and Japan, but to the USSR. Then, from 1945 on, a series of covert and not so covert operations were carried out by Western spies and terrorists in order to undermine further the Soviet Union, notably in the Baltics and above all in the Western Ukraine (right up until 1958). Many so-called ‘former’ Nazis were employed by the Western Powers to do this dirty work for them.

Even after losing its wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2014 the United States organised and financed a violent, anti-democratic regime-change operation in Kiev, at a cost of $5 billion to the US taxpayer. It had now finally bitten off more than it could chew. As a result, the Russian Federation, a Superpower, though mocked and despised at the time by the arrogant Obama as a political and economic ‘regional’ minnow, had to take back the Crimea after its 60-year loan to the Ukraine. Otherwise, it would have lost its key Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol to the Pentagon, just as it had briefly lost it to the Anglo-French Fascists in 1856 and the German Fascists in 1942. It also had to defend Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine by setting up a buffer zone, so buying itself time to prepare for a possible full-blown campaign of liberation there.

From 2014 on, Russia made eight years of highly meticulous preparations, ideological, political, diplomatic, economic, military, energy and agricultural, implementing a policy of import substitution to increase its independence and sovereignty. For Russia knew that the US would flood the Ukraine with NATO instructors and weapons in order to attack its people there and Russia itself, even if Russia did not launch a campaign to liberate the eastern Ukraine. The US will have a high price to pay for the foolish arrogance of this militarisation, carried out together with its NATO minions. Once the Crimea had voluntarily and democratically returned to Russia after the Western annexation of the Kiev regime territories in 2014, Russia experienced the illegal sanctions imposed on it by the Evil Empire. These would be implemented in even greater numbers, if Russia was forced to take back its ancestral territories of Novorossiya and Malorossiya and again set up a demilitarised and denazified zone in, at the very least, Eastern Europe.

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There’s that phrase again: “..indivisibility of security…”

Russia, China Give World a Glimpse of What WWIII Could Look Like (Celente)

Russia and China are not natural allies and some geopolitical observers say it is remarkable that the countries have developed such a close relationship in such a relatively short amount of time. On Tuesday, in a remarkable show of unity, the two countries flew strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan— just outside Japanese and South Korean air defense zones— in what Reuters called a “pointed farewell to U.S. President Joe Biden as he concluded a trip to Asia.” One U.S. official tried to use the joint exercise as an example of why India should not rely on Moscow. “It also shows that Russia will stand with China in the East and South China Seas, not with other Indo-Pacific states,” the official told The Financial Times.

Russia said in a statement that the bombers — Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers and Chinese H-6 bombers — did not break international law. Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said during a news conference that “the fact that this action was taken during the Quad summit makes it more provocative than in the past.” “As the international community responds to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the fact that China took such action in collaboration with Russia, which is the aggressor, is cause for concern. It cannot be overlooked,” he said. Japan and South Korea said they scrambled fighter jets after at least four Chinese and four Russian warplanes in response. (The Quad summit is held among the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India…and its mission is to counter China in the Pacific region.)

Despite the weeks of pressure from the U.S. and European countries, Beijing has refused to criticize Russia and has, instead, blamed the West for having set the stage for the war. China said in March that it would like to bring its relationship with Russia to “a higher level.” “The Ukrainian issue… is not only the outbreak of the long term accumulation of security conflicts in Europe but also the result of the Cold War mentality and group confrontation,” Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, said at the time. “In the long run, we should learn the lessons of the Ukraine crisis, respond to the legitimate security concerns of all parties based on the principles of mutual respect and indivisibility of security.”

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[Russian] Black Sea Fleet specialists cleared more than 12,000 mines from the seaport and its surrounding areas.

Russia To Open Sea Corridors From Ukraine Ports Amid Wheat Crisis (ZH)

After being accused of using the food supply as blackmail and a bargaining chip, Russia said Wednesday its military will open up protected sea corridors for international shipping to pass through from seven Ukrainian ports that have thus far been blockaded. According to a defense ministry statement reported by Bloomberg late in the day, “Humanitarian maritime corridors from ports on the Black Sea and Azov Sea, including Odesa, will operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.” The announcement comes two days after the head of the United Nations World Food Program David Beasley ripped Moscow for what he dubbed a “declaration of war” on global food security. He’s been urging “political solution” to the crisis of blocked Black Sea ports, saying the war in ‘the world’s breadbasket’ threatens to unleash “famine, the destabilization of nations as well as mass migration by necessity.”

Millions of people in 43 countries dependent on grain from the war-torn region are “knocking on famine’s door,” he said. However, Russia has stressed that its military is engaged in extensive and complex demining operations due thousands of mines dotting Ukraine’s coast placed by Ukrainian forces, making international shipping dangerous and impossible. As reported in the independent Moscow Times: The port of Mariupol has resumed normal operations, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Wednesday. The Defense Ministry said Black Sea Fleet specialists cleared more than 12,000 mines from the seaport and its surrounding areas.

Some one-third of global wheat supplies originate from Ukraine and Russia, with the bulk of it passing through the Black Sea. On Wednesday Russia said it remains ready and willing to work with the West to reach a solution, but that easing sanctions is a necessity: “We have repeatedly stated on this point that a solution to the food problem requires a comprehensive approach, including the lifting of sanctions that have been imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko was quoted as saying by Interfax. But the statement called on Ukraine to cease deployment of sea mines, and to engage in immediate demining operations: “And it also requires the demining by the Ukrainian side of all ports where ships are anchored. Russia is ready to provide the necessary humanitarian passage, which it does every day,” Rudenko added.

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A lot of grain is still exported.

Grains of Deceit (Saker)

The Western corporate media are masters of deceit, by providing just enough information to create a narrative, but deliberating omitting information or background data that alters the narrative negatively. At first sight, this narrative is so skewed, and many will be quick to dismiss it as nonsense. I would be careful to do this as there is a broader narrative effort being shaped by the U.S., EU and NATO. The implication that there is a global food crisis looming solely due to Ukrainian ports not being able to export crops is exasperating. Ukraine is still exporting grain crops via Romanian ports, which continue to operate normally, in particular, Constanta as reported by DW, (DW April 2022). It is predicted that 1.5million tons (mmt) of Ukrainian grain will be exported out of Romanian ports in May alone and it is anticipated that 3mmt can be exported in the near future. (Reuters May 2022), (Reuters 24 April 2022)

Although the throughput will not be the same level as Odessa for example. Even Lithuania has said that it can help to export Ukrainian grain through its railway network and ports. Additionally, the use of the Danube as a transportation waterway to EU ports is being done via barges from inland ports, along with proposals for the use of Adriatic ports, (HINA 24 May 2022) Road transport is being used to take crops to Romania port hubs, it is not as quick either, yet it is being done despite bottlenecks at border points. The Ukrainian rail network is already under pressure with military shipments and the rail infrastructure has consequently been degraded in Russian air strikes and as such can only be used in a limited manner, (Zdopravy cz in Czech).

[..] On a trivial point, once more there are aspects that don’t tally, 5 to 9 weeks waiting to get crops exported (NEXTA) compared to 6 days (Sky News 23 May 2022). Back to the bigger picture missing from the MSM narrative . Looking briefly at the figures on grain exports for a wider take on the subject. 2020-2021 2021-2022 Ukrainian grain production: 65mmt forecast 80mmt Russian grain production: 85 mmt forecast: 85mmt As Reuters reported this week, Ukraine still managed to export crops: “The ministry data showed that Ukraine has exported 46.51 mmt so far in the 2021/22 July-June season, versus 40.85 mmt a season earlier.” (Reuters 19 May 2022)

Frankly speaking, 22 mmt of grain will make little difference to the global shortage as it stands. Paradoxically Ukraine is paying for weapons provided by the West through grain exports.” Is it any surprise that Ukraine wants to use Odessa to ship its 70% expected export of grain crops and other products, as to be able to continue to pay for weapon deliveries? Ukrainian exports have largely transferred to Romanian, judging by the ship congestion seen on AIS. Importantly, none of the Western experts or corporate MSM outlets have been able to mention the fact that Russia is the world’s largest exporter of grain, about 4 times the amount of wheat that Ukraine does, about 18% of global exports and this year is expected record crops harvest. According to FAO STAT, Ukraine was the 8th largest wheat producer whereas Russia was in third position in 2020, behind China and India.

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I guess if that’s what they want…

‘Fast-Tracked’ Russian Citizenship For Occupied Ukrainian Territories (ZH)

In the biggest indicator thus far in the over three-month long war in Ukraine that Russia intends to likely fully annex territory in the East and South, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree which allows residents of Russian-occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to gain fast-tracked Russian citizenship. Already the same policy is currently in effect for the breakaway eastern republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, the latter which is now reported to be almost completely in Russian forces’ control, as final battles with Ukrainian fighters are centered in the Luhansk cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. Since 2019 an estimated 200,000 people in the two far eastern regions have gained Russian passports through the policy, which is now being extended to the Russian-controlled southern cities.

“Citizens of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), or the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), permanently residing in the territory of the DNR, LNR, the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine or the Kherson region of Ukraine, have the right to apply for citizenship of the Russian Federation in a simplified manner,” the decree reads.Ukraine was swift to condemn the move as a violation of its sovereignty and of international law and norms. Its foreign ministry said, “The illegal issuing of passports… is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as norms and principles of international humanitarian law.”

Meanwhile also on Wednesday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed the door on the idea of making territorial concessions for the sake of ending the war. “It’s possible if Russia shows at least something. When I say at least something, I mean pulling back troops to where they were before Feb. 24,” which marked the start of the invasion. He even said on Tuesday that Russia must hand back Crimea as well. He put the ball in Moscow’s court, saying it must “shift from the bloody war to diplomacy” if it hopes for the war to end.

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Malone beyond vaccines.

Defending Sovereignty: The Fight of our Lifetime (Malone)

It is state’s rights – as imperfect as that system is, that protects us from the WHO/globalist power grab to leverage public health to compromise the sovereignty of the United States. The current strategic agenda of those seeking to advance globalism and global governance policies at the expense of the autonomy of nation-states is often referred to as the New World Order. Those advocating for the New World Order include the World Economic Forum, transnational corporations/globalized investment capital, the UN, World Trade Organization, World Bank and now the World Health Organization. These entities have, to a more or lesser extent, gained control of the Federal government through leveraging the regulatory capture of our federalized agencies, departments and institutions.

Money from these entities flows into the coffers of Congress to influence law makers. Often, treaties and agreements on the global level codify these arrangements. This ensures that our federal government is coopted by these entities. Our federal government believes that it will be stronger when states have little or no control over the rules and regulations of the state. This is not what our founding fathers intended, and this is when the rights of all of us are trampled on. Our constitution codifies that each state maintains its own set of laws, rules and regulations. The beauty of this system is the diversity of cultures can be maintained within states. Living in Texas is very different than living in New Hampshire, and I believe that this is a good thing.

Although states are stronger when there is a federal government appropriately assuming and defending those responsibilities enumerated under the US Constitution, they are also guaranteed the freedom to have their own cultural identity and rule of law. This is the beauty of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. This interweaving of states rights under the limited umbrella of a Federal government.

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“..it seems clear that many who are publicly commenting, including some of the harshest critics, haven’t actually watched the film..”

Summary of ‘2000 Mules’ (Attkisson)

[..] the response to 2000 Mules has been swift and largely predictable. Trump advocates insist it proves game-changing election fraud in 2020. Trump opponents claim it’s just another debunked conspiracy theory that proves nothing. In the predominantly left-leaning establishment news media, the figures who have addressed the documentary tend to promote the latter conspiracy theory interpretation— advising people not to see the film, while simultaneously assuring them there’s nothing to see. Meantime, it seems clear that many who are publicly commenting, including some of the harshest critics, haven’t actually watched the film. So we’re left with a documentary that— if the evidence is true—would be one of the most important and impactful films of its time, but is likely being viewed almost exclusively by those in no need of conversion.

There was a time prior to 2015, before Donald Trump entered national politics, when the forensic work described in the film would have been done by credible news organizations and journalists, and by independent law enforcement bodies. Those days are gone. Most of the news media issued a collective shrug in the face of an election that was at the very least unusual, with unprecedented changes made under the auspices of Covid, with intervention by billionaire third party activists pouring money into projects like drop boxes, with positions and final calls getting switched, with polls that were wrong, with ballots that had no chain of custody, with a flood that never actually occurred but stopped counting at a Georgia precinct until the Republican observers went home, and much more.

Worse, some in the media insisted that questions and suspicious happenings should not be investigated even if the outcome would reassure a skeptical public the election was fair. To feel otherwise, we were told, was to be a conspiracy theorist of the worst kind bent on treason or the fall of democracy itself. Journalists and political figures declared, without evidence, that there was no fraud. When fraud emerged, they said there was no widespread fraud. When there was evidence of widespread fraud, they said there was no widespread fraud that would have changed the results. Yet they had no firsthand investigation to support these positions. Whenever opposing claims were made or differing intepretations were possible, they sided with one and called the other “conspiracies,” as if they hadn’t noticed that, in the prior four years, so many conspiracies had proven true, and so many declared truths had proven false.

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To no-one’s surprise.

FBI Spied on 3.3 Million Americans Without a Warrant (ET)

Top House Republicans are demanding answers from the FBI after court-ordered information came to light showing that the federal agency had collected the information of over 3 million Americans without a warrant. In a May 25 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mike Turner (R-Ohio) asked Wray to explain why his agency had wiretapped and gathered personal information on over 3.3 million Americans without a warrant. Limited authority to gather foreign intelligence information is granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Specifically, section 702 of the bill says: “the Attorney General (AG) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) may jointly authorize the targeting of (i) non-U.S. persons (ii) who are reasonably believed to be outside of the United States (iii) to acquire foreign intelligence information.”

However, this power can grant an expanding circle of possible searches to the FBI and other intel agencies, who can use the same power against American citizens who had any interaction with targeted foreigners. Historically, insight into how FISA has been used against American citizens has been limited and hidden behind classified reports. However, a November 2020 decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)—which serves as a watchdog for U.S. intelligence agencies—required that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) report “the number of U.S. person queries run by the FBI against Section 702-acquired information.”

In accordance with these new requirements, ODNI’s recently-released Annual Statistical Transparency Report included data on how often the FBI gathered information on American citizens using section 702 in 2021. In total, queries against U.S. citizens came out to a jaw-dropping 3,394,053 searches. By comparison, only 1,324,057 such queries were made in 2020, representing around a 250 percent increase during President Joe Biden’s first year in office. According to ODNI more than half of these queries—approximately 1.9 million—were part of the larger investigation of alleged Russian attempts to target or weaken U.S. critical infrastructure. The ODNI report also admitted that on at least four occasions, the FBI failed to get FISC approval before accessing the contents of information collected under section 702.

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“Did you guys open a case? Reach out and put tools on?”

Comey et al Were “Fired Up” to Pursue the False Alfa Bank Claims (Turley)

The Sussmann trial yesterday had another surprising disclosure when an agent revealed that FBI leadership, including then-Director James Comey, was “fired up” about the alleged secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank. The question is why Comey and others were so reportedly eager given the lack of foundation for the false claim — a record that even the researchers told the Clinton campaign could be mocked as utterly unsupported. Yet, as with the Steele dossier claims (funded and spread by the Clinton campaign) there was a strikingly receptive audience for such claims at the top of the FBI.

The new disclosure came with the testimony of the supervisory agent for the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe (“Crossfire Hurricane”) Joe Pientka. He sent a note to FBI Special Agent Curtis Heide that stated “People on the 7th floor to include Director are fired up about this server,” Pientka messaged Heide. “Did you guys open a case? Reach out and put tools on?” The description of the eagerness of Comey and others only magnified concerns over the alleged bias or the predisposition of the agency on the investigation of Trump and his campaign. It is particularly striking in an allegation that was viewed as unsupported even by the researchers and quickly dismissed by the government as baseless.

According to Durham, the Alfa Bank allegation fell apart even before Sussmann delivered it to the FBI. The indictment details how an unnamed “tech executive” allegedly used his authority at multiple internet companies to help develop the ridiculous claim. (The executive reportedly later claimed that he was promised a top cyber security job in the Clinton administration). Notably, there were many who expressed misgivings not only within the companies working on the secret project but also among unnamed “university researchers” who repeatedly said the argument was bogus. The researchers were told they should not be looking for proof but just enough to “give the base of a very useful narrative.”

The researchers argued, according to the indictment, that anyone familiar with analyzing internet traffic “would poke several holes” in that narrative, noting that what they saw likely “was not a secret communications channel with Russian Bank-1, but ‘a red herring,’” according to the indictment. “Researcher-1” repeated these doubts, the indictment says, and asked, “How do we plan to defend against the criticism that this is not spoofed traffic we are observing? There is no answer to that. Let’s assume again that they are not smart enough to refute our ‘best case scenario.’ You do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag to even make a very weak association.” The alleged response from Comey and the FBI leadership would seem to confirm the view of campaign associates that they only needed a “useful narrative” to achieve their purposes. It only took an unsupported, implausible theory to get Comey and his top aides “fired up.”

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“This decision will kill a small but non-trivial number of kids, in exchange for nothing whatsoever.”

German Regulators Recommend mRNA Vaccination for Young Children (Eugyp)

Germany’s vaccine regulatory body, STIKO, has finally recommended mRNA vaccination for healthy children aged 5 to 11. Somewhat unusually, they’re calling for a single dose only, rather than the normally scheduled two, reasoning that the vast majority of young children have already been infected. As is usual, the vaccinators want us to keep vaccinating to head off imagined future events, and no longer to remedy any concrete problem in the present: “The new recommendation is a “precaution against coming as-yet-unknown waves of infections”, explained paediatrician and STIKO member Martin Terhardt … Reinhard Berner, director of the paediatric clinic at Dresden University Hospital, also a member of STIKO, put it this way: “We dare to look into the future, and we want to prepare children for a third Corona winter, so that they come through this time as safely as possible.”


I write this in the midst of conference hell, and I’m too tired and angry to say anything clever about it. It’s just an entirely predictable and totally dumb decision by a bunch of crazy unaccountable regulators. Healthy children with no exposure are at less risk of severe outcome from SARS-2 infection than they are from influenza. Healthy children who have already had Corona stand to gain precisely zero from the miracle mRNA elixir. This decision will kill a small but non-trivial number of kids, in exchange for nothing whatsoever. It will not reduce the circulation of SARS-2, it won’t save Oma’s life, it will do nothing.

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“..poses absolutely zero threat to human civilization generally..”

Monkeypoxmania (CJ Hopkins)

Lock yourselves down inside your homes! Break out the masks and prophylactic face-shields! Switch off what’s left of your critical faculties and prepare yourselves to “follow the Science!” Yes, that’s right, just as the survivors of The Simulated Apocalyptic Plague of 2020-2021 were crawling up out of their Covid bunkers and starting to “build the world back better,” another biblical pestilence has apparently been unleashed on humanity! This time it’s the dreaded monkeypox, a viral zoonotic disease endemic to central and western Africa that circulates among giant pouched rats, squirrels, dormice, and other rodents and has been infecting humans for centuries, or millennia. Monkeypox causes fever, headaches, muscle aches, and sometimes fluid-filled blisters, tends to resolve in two to four weeks, and thus poses absolutely zero threat to human civilization generally.

The corporate media do not want to alarm us, but it is their duty as professional journalists to report that THE MONKEYPOX IS SPREADING LIKE WILDFIRE! OVER 100 CASES OF MONKEYPOX have been confirmed in countries throughout the world! MONKEYPOX TASKFORCES are being convened! Close-up photos of NASTY-LOOKING MONKEYPOX LESIONS are being disseminated! The President of the United States says “EVERYBODY SHOULD BE CONCERNED!” The WHO is calling it “a multi-country monkeypox outbreak!” Belgium has introduced a mandatory quarantine. The CDC has gone to “Alert Level 2!” “Enhanced precautions” are recommended!

In New York City, the nexus of probably the most paranoid, mask-wearing, quadruple-“vaccinated” New Normal fanatics on the face of the planet, the Department of Health is instructing everyone to wear the masks they are already wearing to protect them from both Covid and monkeypox, and smallpox, and largepox, and airborne cancer, and God knows what other horrors might be out there! Here in the capital of New Normal Germany, Karl Lauterbach, who, despite wasting hundreds of millions of Euros on superfluous “vaccines,” attempting to compulsorily “vaccinate” every man, woman, and child in the country, and otherwise behaving like a fascist lunatic, remains the official Minister of Health, is excitedly hopping up and down and hooting like a Siamang gibbon about “recommendations for isolation and quarantine,” and other “monkeypox containment measures.”

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JFK Man on the moon

 

 

 

 

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May 242022
 
 May 24, 2022  Posted by at 8:27 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  64 Responses »


Giovanni Bellini Pietà 1474

 

We’re in It Now for Sure (Kunstler)
False Russia Collusion Story Began And Ended With Hillary Clinton (JTN)
FBI Alfa-Bank Inquiry Based On DOJ ‘Referral’ That Came From Sussmann (WE)
Durham Puts FBI Investigators On Stand (JTN)
What It Means That Hillary Clinton Did It (AT)
A Major National Embarrassment Is Being Hidden From Ukrainians (Storozhenko)
UK Backs Lithuania’s Plan To Lift Russian Blockade Of Ukraine Grain (G.)
A Breakdown Of The Ukraine Aid Bill (Semler)
In Davos, Ukrainians Host “Russian War Crimes House” (Y!)
Republicans Will Target ‘Public Health Bureaucrats’ When In Majority (JTN)
Pfizer Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit From COVID-19 Vaccine Trial (ET)
Supermarkets Could Soon Urge You Not To Use Cash Or Card To Pay (MEN)
Albanese Squandering Leverage on Assange (Lauria)

 

 

 

 

Tulsi
https://twitter.com/i/status/1528687472359575552

 

 

 

 

Build Back Amish.

We’re in It Now for Sure (Kunstler)

Lately, a new derangement is overtaking Western Civ, for the excellent reason that Western Civ gave birth to techno industrial societies and is now first to undergo the alarming demise of that system. I speak of the World Economic Forum (under one Klaus Schwab) and its stated ambition to Build Back Better — based on its unstated premise that the current system must be nudged to its death sooner rather than later, and on-purpose. All the governments of Western Civ nations seem coordinated on this. But it’s not going to happen as Mr. Schwab and his followers hoped, for at least a couple of reasons. First, as already stated, God is a prankster and likes to throw knuckleballs at the human race.

Anyway, the “better” that Mr. Schwab expects is an ultra-techno-industrial “trans-human” scheme that is unlikely to come about if the support system of the older techno-industrial system is no longer available to support it. As currently conceived, BBB depends on electric power, and that is one of the major sub-systems of our system that already looks like it’s going janky. You get the idea, I’m sure, so I’ll cut to the chase for now. About a year ago I had my French easel set up on a country road nearby and was busy painting a motif at-hand when along came a horse-drawn wagon filled with four men in severe black-and-white clothing, wearing beards.

They were apparently a bit surprised by the strange sight of me painting a picture and they stopped to chat. They were Amish and had lately moved to the county from down in Pennsylvania, which was running out of farmland for their fruitful people. Not a half-hour later a second horse-drawn wagon passed by. I admit, the incident gave me a thrill — not just the sensory pleasure of the horses’ ripe animal smell, and the gentle rhythm of their clip-clopping along. But since I had lately been writing a bunch of novels about life in a post-economic collapse town like my own (the World Made by Hand series), I enjoyed the strange delight of being transported briefly into a scene of my own imagining — the prequel of my own books.

Many more Amish are landing in the county these days. I hear they go around to the failing or inactive farms with bundles of cash and make an offer, just like that. Evidently the method works. It’s given me a business idea: to start an Amish skills school, buy a few acres with a barn and hire some Amish men to teach all us non-Amish how to do a few things that might be good to know in the years ahead, like how to harness horses to a cart or a mule to a plow. (The Amish like to make a bit of cash-money when they can.) That’s my idea of how to build back better. What do you think?

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Put Obama on the stand as well.

False Russia Collusion Story Began And Ended With Hillary Clinton (JTN)

In an era where the hunt for disinformation has become a political obsession, Hillary Clinton has mostly escaped having to answer what role she played in spreading the false Russia collusion narrative that gripped America for nearly three years. On Friday, that dodge ended with a most unlikely witness: her former campaign manager Robby Mook, who was supposed to be a witness helping the defense of her former campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann on a charge of lying to the FBI. Instead, under cross-examination by Special Counsel John Durham’s team, Mook was forced to concede two extraordinary facts. First, the Clinton campaign wasn’t “totally confident” about the accuracy of computer data suggesting Donald Trump had a secret communications channel to the Kremlin via Russia’s Alfa Bank.

And second, Hillary Clinton herself personally approved spreading the story to the news media, despite the concerns about its accuracy. “I discussed it with Hillary as well,” Mook testified. “I don’t remember the substance of the conversation, but notionally, the discussion was, hey, we have this and we want to share it with a reporter,” Mook said. Prosecutors asked Mook if Clinton approved leaking the story to the media. “She agreed,” Mook testified. The testimony confirms what CIA Director John Brennan told President Barack Obama secretly in July 2016 and what the CIA later told the FBI two months later: There was intelligence that Clinton had approved a plan to dirty up Trump with Russia allegations to distract from her own email server scandal.

Kevin Brock, the FBI’s former assistant director for intelligence, called Mook’s revelation a “startling piece of testimony, particularly since he was a defense witness.” “On the surface it looks like a major victory for John Durham,” Brock said. “Don’t forget he’s trying to paint an overall picture here. Sussmann is just one pixel on that photo. “The trial is the vehicle that Durham is using to help bring out the truth, to tell a story of a political campaign that in two instances pursued information that was totally fabricated or at least misinterpreted with the Alfa Bank connection to Trump and use that disinformation to mislead the American voter,” he added.

Slowly over six years, the Russia collusion story has been exposed for what it was: a three-legged political dirty trick in which highly credible figures with deep law enforcement, intelligence and news media ties were paid by the Clinton campaign to flood the FBI, the CIA and the public with unproven allegations that Trump was secretly colluding with Russia to steal the election from Clinton.

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Who investigates the FBI?

FBI Alfa-Bank Inquiry Based On DOJ ‘Referral’ That Came From Sussmann (WE)

The FBI opened a full-fledged counterintelligence investigation into since-debunked Trump-Russia collusion claims just four days after Michael Sussmann pushed the allegations to the bureau. The electronic communication marking the opening of the investigation cited a “referral” from the Justice Department rather than saying the Alfa-Bank allegations came from a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The opening communication, titled “Alfa Bank,” was authored by FBI agents Curtis Heide and Allison Sands, both of whom may testify this week, and the investigation initiated on Sept. 23, 2016, four days after Sussmann’s meeting with FBI General Counsel James Baker.

Sussmann was indicted in September for allegedly concealing his clients — Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and “Tech Executive-1,” former Neustar executive Rodney Joffe — from Baker when he pushed since-debunked claims of a secret back channel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa-Bank. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty. Sussmann had worked at the Justice Department in the past, and testimony from Baker last week stated that he had a badge that allowed him access to the FBI. The case identification was “Alfa Bank, Russia — Contacts / Agents, Sensitive Investigative Matter,” and the opening document said it “documents the opening of a Full Field Investigation into the network communications between a U.S.-based server and the Russian ALFA BANK organization.” Enclosed was a “White Paper.”

“On or about September 19, 2016, FBI received a referral of information from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, detailing an unusually configured email server in Pennsylvania belonging to the TRUMP ORGANIZATION,” the FBI wrote in September 2016. “In that referral, the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE provided the FBI with a white paper that was produced by an anonymous third party. According to the white paper, a U.S.-based server that is owned by the TRUMP ORGANIZATION has been communicating with the Russian-based ALFA BANK organization in Moscow, Russia.”

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Trying to cover their asses.

Durham Puts FBI Investigators On Stand (JTN)

In the trial of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, prosecutors on Monday called two FBI witnesses who testified that clarity regarding the source of allegations of a secret hotline between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank would have influenced the bureau’s investigative approach to the now-debunked collusion allegations. Special Counsel John Durham alleges Sussmann lied to former FBI General Counsel James Baker in September 2016 when he said he was not representing any clients as he fed the bureau information purportedly revealing a Trump Organization backchannel to Moscow through Russia’s Alfa Bank. At the time, Sussmann was a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm and representing the Democratic National Committee and a tech company executive, according to the prosecution.

Sussmann has pleaded not guilty to the charge of making a false statement to the FBI. As part of its effort to substantiate the materiality of Sussmann’s alleged lie to the FBI, the prosecution brought FBI agent Ryan Gaynor and former FBI agent Allison Sands to the witness stand on Monday. Both were involved in the investigation into the Alfa Bank allegation Gaynor testified that had he known Sussmann was representing the DNC, he likely would not have volunteered to assist in the investigation. He also said that if Sussmann was paid by the DNC or the Clinton campaign, it might have impacted how the investigation was opened and the close-hold he says was placed on Sussmann’s identity, which prevented him from being able to discuss it with the Chicago branch.

Sands testified that she was informed the investigation began with a referral of information from the Department of Justice. Only later did she find out that the information actually came from then-FBI General Counsel James Baker. After that, she eventually learned that an anonymous third party gave Baker the data. Sands said that knowing the source of the information would have helped her assess its credibility. Sands explained that believing the information came from the DOJ gave it more weight than if someone just walked into the FBI with the data. She said that if the information hadn’t come through the Justice Department, then she didn’t know if it would have triggered a full investigation.

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“..the Clinton-Obama attempted takeover of the government. (Call it the COAT campaign.)”

What It Means That Hillary Clinton Did It (AT)

[..] the Journal explained how the Clinton campaign used the self-generated news of the investigation and the initial Slate article that came of it, both of which they had planted, as the basis for making tweet after tweet to the press about the Slate report to churn up mass coverage about it in the press and convince the public that the investigation was about something serious.

The concluding paragraphs of the editorial are worth quoting in full: “In short, the Clinton campaign created the Trump-Alfa allegation, fed it to a credulous press that failed to confirm the allegations but ran with them anyway, then promoted the story as if it was legitimate news. The campaign also delivered the claims to the FBI, giving journalists another excuse to portray the accusations as serious and perhaps true. Most of the press will ignore this news, but the Russia-Trump narrative that Mrs. Clinton sanctioned did enormous harm to the country. It disgraced the FBI, humiliated the press, and sent the country on a three-year investigation to nowhere. Vladimir Putin never came close to doing as much disinformation damage.”

The harm done to the United States by the perfidy of the Clintonistas cannot be overemphasized. That “three-year investigation to nowhere” represented the Clinton-Obama attempted takeover of the government. (Call it the COAT campaign.) With congressional Republicans unwilling to prevent the COAT campaign, the Trump administration was blocked from putting U.S.-Russia relations on a rational, mutually beneficial footing, to the point that, under the present Senate leadership, the specter of war with Russia is no longer an unthinkable thought. The COAT campaign succeeded in keeping the Ukraine pot boiling, with the water first heated by Obama’s stirring up of anti-Russian feelings in Ukraine, leading to the Maidan revolution that ousted the legitimately elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.

A political opposition ready to lie about Donald J. Trump, supported by a media prepared to believe the worst about Mr. Trump has given us the current reality where the deep state is using NATO as an instrument to humiliate Russia, and Republican leaders in Congress are going along with the plans of the deep state to make the globe an unsafe place except for the globalist hegemony. Most of the press will indeed ignore disclosure of the source of the baseless accusations of Trump-Russia collusion — it is no accident that the New York Times ignored the Mook testimony in its May 20 editions. It is, moreover, unlikely that the press will be humiliated by its mendacious coverage of Hillary Clinton; the media, on the contrary, wears its mendacious coverage of Clinton and the anti-Trump neo-totalitarians as deserving of journalistic honors.

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“Not an evacuation, not an exit, not an “extraction”, but captivity.”

A Major National Embarrassment Is Being Hidden From Ukrainians (Storozhenko)

The myth of heroic 82 day defense is already actively promoted by Ukrainian media, even though since late March that defense consisted largely of Azovite efforts to break out of the trap. First on helicopters, then with the help of Macron and Erdogan. And recently they’ve tried to involve everyone who came to mind: Israel, UN, Doctors Without Borders, the Pope, and Elon Musk. In the end, on May 16 and 17 we saw what we were fated to see. Some of the Azovites and AFU soldiers came out of Azov Steel underground, existed using the corridor specified by Russia’s military, were searched and sorted (the wounded to hospitals, the rest to filtration points) and…went into captivity.

Not an evacuation, not an exit, not an “extraction”, but captivity. A simple Russian word, though not a merry one. But that’s what we saw. The Ukrainian viewer saw and was told something entirely different. The Ukrainian language also contains a word for captivity. But Ukrainian media try to avoid it at all costs. Azov’s commander was actually the first. Already on the evening of May 16, as if anticipating questions, he said he’s implementing a decision by top military authorities. OK, but what decision? We know, but Ukrainians viewing his statement in a Telegram channel could not understand a thing and said as much. Then came Zelensky. He mentioned the AFU, UN, ICRC, and at the end: “…soldiers were transported to occupied territory for future exchange.”

Who did the transporting? Not a word about that. But instead we learned this is called an “operation to preserve the lives of Azov Steel defenders.” Russians think they took someone prisoner. But in reality there’s an ongoing military operation, so stop panicking. And it’s not just any operation. No, it’s an operation by Ukraine’s military intelligence (that’s how it was officially reported)! These announcements were picked up by not only Kiev-controlled media but also the most authoritative (well, until recently) world media platforms, including CNN. They also don’t use the word “captivity”, only “evacuation”!

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The craziest plan to date.

UK Backs Lithuania’s Plan To Lift Russian Blockade Of Ukraine Grain (G.)

Britain has backed in principle a proposal by Lithuania for a naval coalition “of the willing” to lift the Russian Black Sea blockade on Ukrainian grain exports. The Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, proposed the plan during talks with the UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss, on Monday in London. “Time is very very short. We are closing in on a new harvest and there is no other practical way of exporting the grain except through the Black Sea port of Odesa,” he told the Guardian. “There is no way of storing this grain and no other adequate alternative route. It is imperative that we show vulnerable countries we are prepared to take the steps that are needed to feed the world.”

Landsbergis proposed that a naval escort operation – not run by Nato – could protect the grain ships as they headed through the Black Sea and past Russian warships. He suggested that, apart from Britain, countries that were affected by the potential loss of grain such as Egypt could provide the necessary protection. “What we have seen now is just the beginning. The worst is yet to come in the next five to seven weeks when the first harvest arrives and there is no place to put it, so that means people in northern Africa, the Middle East and south-east Asia will be paying exorbitant prices for wheat, corn and the other commodities they need to put food on their table”. He said Ukraine needed to export 80m tonnes of wheat alone this year and the only option was through Odesa,.

His plan, under gestation for weeks, would require demining parts of the Black Sea to ensure safe passage, as well as the agreement of Turkey, which guards the entrance to the Black Sea. “This would be a non-military humanitarian mission and is not comparable with a no-fly zone,” he said. “In this endeavour military ships or planes or both would be used to ensure that the grain supplies can leave Odesa safely and reach the Bosphorus without Russian interference. We would need a coalition of the willing – countries with significant naval power to protect the shipping lanes, and countries that are affected by this”.

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More such bills will follow.

A Breakdown Of The Ukraine Aid Bill (Semler)

Joe Biden signed a bill over the weekend that provides $40.1 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine. The Senate passed it on Thursday and the House had passed the thing the week before. It was a bit touch and go in the Senate following an objection by Rand Paul (R-KY), but all told the legislation practically flew through Congress, at least by Washington’s standards: Biden submitted the funding request to Congress on April 28 and it was sent back to his desk just three weeks later. Based on the bill text, I counted $40.1 billion worth of provisions; $24.6 billion for military programs and $15.5 billion for non-military ones.

Not all of the funding provisions are for aid. The money for for the Department of Treasury and Department of Justice to seize and track Russian assets aren’t, for example, and neither are a portion of the funding for the Pentagon to develop and procure weapons. Moreover, a good bit of the included appropriations covers the operating expenses and overhead of US agencies implementing the aid and not for the aid itself, like for the deployment and hazard pay of US troops to eastern Europe or extra operating expenses for USAID. Of the provisions that are unmistakably for military and non-military aid, it’s tough to say how much will end going to Ukraine, for two reasons. First, there’s a “…and other countries” suffix following most of the major economic, humanitarian, and military assistance provisions.

Second, the bill raises the legal limit on existing authorities that allow the executive branch to authorize additional aid transfers, which could raise the top line amount given to Ukraine (and/or other countries). I estimate that for-profit military contractors will derive about $17.3 billion in revenue from the bill, which exceeds the total amount of non-military aid included in the legislation ($15.5 billion). This doesn’t mean that the money going to military contractors isn’t going to Ukraine. It’s just that giving military aid to Ukraine (or wherever) means giving money to military contractors. The funds given to the Pentagon by Congress through the bill are generally to provide Ukraine either with goods (weapons, equipment) or services (logistical support, intelligence, training). Military contractors get paid by the Pentagon for both, to varying extents.

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Welcome to the WEF.

In Davos, Ukrainians Host “Russian War Crimes House” (Y!)

With Russians banned from Davos, their den in the Swiss mountain resort was taken over by Ukraine and given a new name: “Russian War Crimes House”. The “Russia House” was traditionally used by Russians to hold events and network during the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps. But organisers excluded them from the meeting of the world’s business and political elite following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead of a place to entertain, the house with red shutters on Davos’ main street is now used by Ukrainians to display the atrocities the say Russia is committing. It features photos of cemeteries, people in body bags, a bloodied hand on a pavement, a child in a respirators in a hospital, a baby in a soldier’s arms, buildings in ruins.

Ukrainians are using the building to hold several events during the four-day Davos summit as part of efforts to win more support against Russia, three months after the invasion began. “If we tell the story of this tragedy as wide as possible, maybe it will save some lives,” said Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, whose foundation is among the organisers of the event. After the presentation at the “House of Russian War Crimes”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy used the WEF congress to plead for more weapons for his country, and more sanctions against Russia. A parade of Ukrainian lawmakers and officials attended other events on the summit’s first day to hammer home the need for weapons and sanctions to defeat Russia.

At the “Russian War Crimes House”, the goal is to bring attention to the alleged atrocities committed by Russia. Next to the photos, an entire wall is covered by a map that lists the “war crimes” committed by Russia. On top, a toll as of May 6: 4,177 civilians killed, including 226 children, and 4,378 wounded, including 417 children.

WEF

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Promises promises.

Republicans Will Target ‘Public Health Bureaucrats’ When In Majority (JTN)

Republicans plan on holding public health bureaucrats such as Dr. Anthony Fauci accountable after the 2022 midterm elections, according to a Republican Study Committee (RSC) memo on Monday from Chairman Jim Banks (R-Ind.). While many of the left’s COVID-19 policies “went unchallenged… public health authorities soon started issuing nonsensical, contradictory directives and embracing partisan rhetoric,” according to the memo. “If Congress fails to hold the Fauci clique accountable, and fails to reform public health agencies, we will be giving far-left bureaucrats a blank check to shut the country down whenever they want,” Banks said. “We need to send a message that the restrictions, the mandates and the school closures can never happen again.”


Republicans are likely to take back the House and gain what Banks has claimed will be a “historic majority.” As the RSC is the largest ideological congressional caucus, Banks’ memo may be a preview into GOP actions after midterms. “Holding partisan public health bureaucrats accountable should be a major oversight priority for House Republicans after 2022,” he wrote in the 4-page RSC memo. “Leftists have abused Americans’ willingness to make sacrifices for public health. They have sought to define everything from racism to policing to gun rights to the minimum wage as public health issues,” he noted. Republicans plan on reigning in the CDC’s “mission creep” by refocusing the agency on emergency public health response and requiring it to “be transparent,” among other things. The GOP will also consider restoring the basic science mission at the National Institutes of Health, which oversees Dr. Fauci and his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases department.

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Laws do not apply to Pfizer.

Pfizer Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit From COVID-19 Vaccine Trial (ET)

Pfizer has asked a U.S. court to throw out a lawsuit from a whistleblower who revealed problems at sites that tested Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Brook Jackson, the whistleblower, alleged in a suit that was unsealed in February that Pfizer and associated parties violated clinical trial regulations and federal laws, including the False Claims Act. In its motion to dismiss, Pfizer says the regulations don’t apply to its vaccine contract with the U.S. Department of Defense because the agreement was executed under the department’s Other Transaction Authority (OTA), which gives contract holders the ability to skirt many rules and laws that typically apply to contracts. That means that Jackson’s claim that Pfizer must still comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulations “is simply wrong,” Pfizer said.

Warner Mendenhall, a lawyer who is working on Jackson’s case, said in a recent interview that Pfizer has “clearly not followed federal procurement laws.” “And now they’re saying, ‘of course we didn’t follow federal procurement laws, we didn’t have to—this was just for a prototype,’” he added. Mendenhall, who declined an interview request, said lawyers for Jackson are working on figuring out legal ways to counter Pfizer’s argument. “We may lose on this issue because their contract imposes … none of the normal checks and balances on quality control and consumer protection that we fought for decades in this country,” he said. [..] The government agreed to pay up to $1.9 billion for 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine pending U.S. regulatory clearance.

That included the manufacturing of the vaccine on top of researching and developing it. The contract was granted under the “prototype” provision, which falls under the OTA. The rules for prototypes state that just one of four conditions must be satisfied. The condition that was satisfied in the Pfizer contract was the involvement of a “nontraditional defense contractor.” Federal law defines nontraditional defense contractors as “an entity that is not currently performing and has not performed” a contract or subcontract for the Department of Defense for at least one year preceding the solicitation of the OTA agreement. Pfizer has dozens of contracts with the military.

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How to cancel people completely.

Supermarkets Could Soon Urge You Not To Use Cash Or Card To Pay (MEN)

Supermarket giants across the UK could soon ask shoppers to ditch cash and card payments, and instead use their face or fingerprints at the checkout. A trial is in place to increase shopper security at the tills, though some may see it as a step closer to a cashless society. Mastercard is trialling a biometric payment system that could see customers just use their face rather than contactless cards, smartphones or PINs. Shoppers would be able to smile or wave a hand at a scanner to pay for their shopping. It is understood that a customer would be able to scan their face or fingerprint using a supermarket’s smartphone app and link their likeness to a bank card. Payments Card and Mobile website says it would work in a similar way to Apple’s facial ID.

The Telegraph reports how Mastercard, the payments company, wants to roll the programme out worldwide for small and large retailers. Ajay Bhalla, the president of cyber and intelligence at Mastercard, was quoted in the Telegraph as saying: “The way we pay needs to keep pace with the way we live, work and do business, offering choice to consumers with the highest levels of security. Our goal with this new programme is to make shopping a great experience for consumers and merchants alike, providing the best of both security and convenience.” A pilot programme is currently under way in Brazil at five St Marche supermarkets in Sao Paolo. More trials are also planned for Asia and the Middle East.

The biometric facial recognition software would lead to shorter queues, be more hygienic than tapping in a pin, and less vulnerable to fraud linked to credit and debit cards, Mastercard said. It said: “No more fumbling for your phone or hunting for your wallet when you have your hands full – the next generation of in-person payments will only need a quick smile or wave of your hand. The trusted technology that uses your face or fingerprint to unlock your phone can now be used to help consumers speed through the checkout. With Mastercard’s new Biometric Checkout Programme, all you will need is yourself.”

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A vassal state.

Albanese Squandering Leverage on Assange (Lauria)

Anthony Albanese, the newly-elected Australian prime minister, has what might be the best opportunity he will ever have to exchange Julian Assange’s freedom for Australia’s continued cooperation with U.S. aims in the Pacific region. Albanese is set to have his first bilateral meeting on Tuesday with U.S. President Joe Biden after a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) summit in Tokyo, when the leaders of the four nations — Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. — meet to discuss relations with China. But in remarks made on Monday before he even left for Japan, Albanese already said his Labor government is fully on board with the Quad’s agenda, as the previous government of Scott Morrison had been. Perhaps more importantly, Albanese said Australia would sign on to Biden’s just announced creation of a new, 13-nation Asian economic bloc aimed at opposing China’s economic dominance in the region, according to reports in The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Biden had only just announced the new bloc on Monday. Even before he was sworn in, Albanese apparently told Biden about Australia joining the bloc during a telephone conversation they had on Sunday as Biden flew to Japan. Albanese was quoted in The Australian as saying that “he would ‘send a message to the world that there’s a new government in Australia’, while reassuring partners there would be “continuity in the way that we have respect for democracy and the way that we value our friendships and long time alliances.” Albanese also spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Herald reported:

“Albanese spoke to UK counterpart Boris Johnson while flying to Tokyo on Monday. A spokesman described the conversation as friendly and positive. The discussion with Johnson included a commitment from Albanese to support the AUKUS alliance on nuclear submarines and talks on climate change.” Apparently asking for nothing in return, Albanese gave away the store to Biden and Johnson, not even raising Assange’s name, according to these reports. He had the leverage of asking Biden to drop the case and Johnson to block the extradition in exchange for continuity from the Morrison government on AUKUS, the Quad, and on joining Biden’s new economic bloc. Of course, not everything discussed between the leaders was reported. There remains an outside chance Albanese did raise Assange. But there has been no movement on Assange after Albanese gave Biden and Johnson what they wanted.

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May 222022
 


El Greco La Pietà c1575

 

Revealed: Hillary Clinton’s Role In The Alfa Bank Scandal (Turley)
Hillary Clinton’s Trump/Russia Media Strategy Revealed (Techno Fog)
Biden Keeping Up Employment At The Gaffe Factory (Howie Carr)
Russia Rewrites the Art of Hybrid War (Escobar)
Is US Drawing Up Plans To Sink the Russian Black Sea Fleet? (Antiwar)
A Thread on “Azov” (RWA)
Gen. Milley Warns West Point Graduates Of ‘Increasing’ Risk Of Global War (Fox)
mRNA Vaccines Hurt Long-term Immunity To Covid (Berenson)
Once A Liberal Democracy, Canada Is Now An Authoritarian State (Arora)
American Farmer Warns Of Impending Food Shortages (ZH)
Labor Win Presents ‘Great Opportunity’ In Fight To Free Julian Assange (LE)

 

 

 

 

Ed Dowd

 

 

 

 

Malone

 

 

Still waiting to see why Mook did what he did. After all, he knows all about the revenge of the Clintons.

Revealed: Hillary Clinton’s Role In The Alfa Bank Scandal (Turley)

The trial of former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann crossed a critical threshold Friday when a key witness uttered the name “Hillary Clinton” in conjunction with a plan to spread the false Alfa Bank Russian collusion claim before the 2016 presidential election. For Democrats and many in the media, Hillary Clinton has long held a Voldemort-like status as “She who must not be named” in scandals. Yet, there was her former campaign manager, Robby Mook, telling a jury that Clinton personally approved a plan to spread the claim of covert communications between the Trump organization and the Russian bank. It was one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in American politics, and Mook implicated Clinton as green-lighting the gas-lighting of the electorate.

The mere mention of Clinton’s name sent shockwaves through Washington. In past scandals, the Clintons have always evaded direct responsibility as aides were investigated or convicted, from the Whitewater land dealings to cattle futures. Even when long-sought documents in Whitewater were discovered outside of the family quarters and bearing Hillary Clinton’s fingerprints, Washington quickly moved on. Clinton was not supposed to be the object of the Sussmann trial, because Judge Christopher Cooper, an Obama appointee, issued a series of orders limiting the scope of the trial and its evidence. The orders were viewed as “spar[ing] the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee … potential embarrassment.”

Yet, even after winning such limiting orders, it was the defense that called Mook to the stand — out of order, in the midst of the prosecution’s case, because he was scheduled to leave on vacation — and he proceeded to confirm that Clinton herself approved of the tactic. It was Washington’s worst-kept but least-acknowledged secret. On July 28, 2016, then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Obama on Hillary Clinton’s alleged plan to tie Donald Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” Obama reportedly was told how Clinton allegedly approved “a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”

Thus, Mook testified that Clinton did precisely what Brennan warned Obama was being planned. The date of Brennan’s warning is important: It was three days before the FBI’s collusion investigation began. It also was a couple of months before Sussmann contacted then-FBI general counsel Jim Baker while claiming he was not representing any client. (He was counsel to the Clinton campaign and, according to prosecutors, billed the meeting time to the campaign.) There is a strikingly familiar pattern in both the Steele dossier — which became the basis for the Russia collusion investigation — and the Alfa Bank tale. Campaign associates developed both claims while actively seeking to conceal their connections from the public and the government, including reportedly denying the funding of the Steele dossier and concealing that funding as legal costs.

Information laundering

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“We authorized a staff member of the campaign to provide it to the media.”

Hillary Clinton’s Trump/Russia Media Strategy Revealed (Techno Fog)

Robert Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, also testified before the jury Friday. In his testimony, he stated that Hillary Clinton personally approved a plan to spread the lie that Trump was colluding with Russia via secret servers to the media. He also admitted to being briefed on the conspiracy.

Q: Okay. In connection with the general focus on Mr. Trump and Russia, did there come a time when you learned of potential links between the Trump organization, Mr. Trump’s business, and a Russian bank called Alfa-bank?
A: I did. Yes, I was briefed on that.
Q: Approximately when were you first briefed on that, if you remember?
A: I honestly can’t recall.
Q: Who participated in the briefing, if you remember?
A: Myself, Marc Elias, Jen Palmieri, Jake Sullivan, John Podesta. There might have been others, but those are the ones I definitely recall being there.

Mook also admitted that the Clinton campaign was focused on Trump’s relationship with Russia before Summer of 2016.
Q: In the Summer of 2016, was Mr. Trump’s relationship with Russia something that the campaign focused on?
A: Yes. I mean, it was frankly something we were focused on before that time. But absolutely.

Mook however did deny that the Clinton campaign directed Sussman to go to the FBI, despite admitting that Clinton approved the Trump-Russia allegations to be shared with the media.
Q: Were you aware that Mr. Sussman went to the FBI in September of 2016 to give them a heads-up about a New York Times story about Trump and Alfa-Bank?
A: No.
Q: Do you have any recollection of anyone talking to you about going to the FBI on behalf of the campaign on the Trump/Alfa-Bank issue?
A: No.
Q: Did you direct Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: Did you authorize Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?
A: No.
Q: Did anyone else from the campaign, to your knowledge, direct or authorize Mr. Sussman to go to the FBI on behalf of the campaign?
A: To my knowledge, no.

Mook also said the decision to push the debunked Russia conspiracy to the media was made by him, Sussman, John Podesta, and Palmeri, and that Hillary Clinton agreed with the decision.
Q: And once you learned about it [the Trump-Russia allegations], you started discussing with the campaign whether the campaign should affirmatively push it in the media, right?
A: Correct.
Q: And you had that discussion with Mr. Sullivan?
A: Correct.
Q: With Mr. Podesta?
A: Just to be clear. This is what – I recall those people, correct.
Q: Okay. You had a discussion with Mr. Sullivan?
A: Yes, I recall, yes.
Q: Whether to push it in the media right?
A: Correct.
Q: With Ms. Palmieri?
A: Correct.
Q: With Mr. Podesta?
A: Correct.
Q: But in any event, the decision to provide this to the media was authorized by the campaign, correct?
A: We authorized a staff member of the campaign to provide it to the media.

Regarding Hillary Clinton, Mook said:
Q: Mr. Mook, before the break you had testified that there was a conversation in which you told Ms. Clinton about the proposed plan to provide the Alfa-Bank allegations to the media; is that correct?
A: Correct.
Q: And what was her response?
A: All I remember is that she agreed with the decision.

Some final thoughts: while this trial is about Sussmann’s false statements to the FBI, it’s also more than that. This is Special Counsel John Durham telling the public the story of the Clinton opposition research machine, and how the campaign, through their lawyers and contractors (Fusion GPS), developed and spread lies to the media to influence the election. It’s the story of Clinton Campaign lawyers to using the FBI to further that strategy of deception. With that in mind, do not forget the Igor Danchenko case. Is it the case that Charles Dolan, a Hillary Clinton friend and supporter, was coincidentally feeding false information to Christopher Steele’s primary sub source? And on that thread, what are the odds that another Clinton ally – Alexander Downer – took his “info” to the FBI?

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“That’s how it works when leaders derive their powers from the consent of the government from from the consent of the governed.”

Biden Keeping Up Employment At The Gaffe Factory (Howie Carr)

It’s Weekend at Biden’s again, and Dementia Joe Biden has been pondering the dysfunction that plagues these fruited plains. Specifically, Brandon frets about mentally impaired people wandering America’s streets: “(People) who are just deranged, who are, who are susceptible, who are, who are just lost and and don’t know what to do, and they’re easily taken, they’re easily sucked in, and it’s gotta stop, we have to admit it, I don’t know why we don’t admit what the hell’s goin’ on. Anyway …” Got a mirror, Mr. President? As always, all dialogue guaranteed verbatim. Now Biden is in Asia visiting, among other places, South Korea and “President Moon Yoon” (his name is Yoon Seok-Youl). But before Brandon departed the assisted-living facility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he warmly welcomed some visitors to the White House:

“I thank all of you for being here, and I want you to enjoy the rest of the recession.” Technically, Mr. President, the recession hasn’t even started yet. You said you’d have to be a “mind reader” to have seen the baby-formula shortage coming. But apparently you are able to foresee what economic calamities your policies are causing in the weeks ahead. FDR said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Now Brandon says, “I want you to enjoy the rest of the recession.” At the White House or on the road, Dementia Joe must sometimes introduce other people. It’s not getting any easier for him to remember who anybody is, or what they do. Just ask “President Harris.” Or the president of “Fine Finland,” whom he called “Nisto.” His name is “Niinisto.” He said Sen. Rick Scott of Florida represents Wisconsin. He called Raytheon “Ray Raython.”

[..] On the teleprompter, he misreads wages as rages, reflect as refect, eligibility as elibility. Wholly becomes holly, only comes out as swonly. The teleprompter says changes, he reads it as charges. Dementia Joe dares to ask questions no one else will: “How many police officers have multiple times and put a lion and had to do things that they’d have to think they’d have to do?” Good question, Brandon! Other than telling everyone to enjoy the recession, Dementia Joe had one other Freudian slip recently. He was discussing how well a system of checks and balances has served the American people, until … Democrats. “That’s how it works when leaders derive their powers from the consent of the government from from the consent of the governed.”

Herridge

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“Fully exposing the whole maze, from the start, was one of Putin’s stated objectives.”

Russia Rewrites the Art of Hybrid War (Escobar)

The ironclad fictional “narrative” imposed all across NATOstan is that Ukraine is “winning”. So why would weapons peddler retrofitted as Pentagon head Lloyd “Raytheon” Austin literally beg since late February to have his phone calls answered by Russian Defense Minister Shoigu, only to have his wish finally granted? It’s now confirmed by one of my top intel sources. The call was a direct consequence of panic. The United States Government (USG) by all means wants to scotch the detailed Russian investigation – and accumulation of evidence – on the US bioweapon labs in Ukraine, as I outlined in a previous column. This phone call happened exactly after an official Russian statement to the UN Security Council on May 13: we will use articles 5 and 6 of the Convention on the Prohibition of Bioweapons to investigate the Pentagon’s biological “experiments” in Ukraine.

That was reiterated by Under Secretary-General of the UN in charge of disarmament, Thomas Markram, even as all ambassadors of NATO member countries predictably denied the collected evidence as “Russian disinformation”. Shoigu cold see the call coming eons away. Reuters, merely quoting the proverbial “Pentagon official”, spun that the allegedly one-hour-long call led to nothing. Nonsense. Austin, according to the Americans, demanded a “ceasefire” – which must have originated a Siberian cat smirk on Shoigu’s face. Shoigu knows exactly which way the wind is blowing on the ground – for Ukrainian Armed Forces and UkroNazis alike. It’s not only the Azovstal debacle – and Kiev’s all-around army breakdown. After the fall of Popasnaya – the crucial, most fortified Ukrainian stronghold in Donbass – the Russians and Donetsk/Luhansk forces have breached defenses along four different vectors to north, northwest, west and south.

What’s left of the Ukrainian front is crumbling – fast, with a massive cauldron subdivided in a maze of mini-cauldrons: a military disaster the USG cannot possibly spin. Now, in parallel, we can also expect full exposure – on overdrive – of the Pentagon bioweapons racket. The only “offer you can’t refuse” left to the USG would be to present something tangible to the Russians to avoid a full investigation. That’s not gonna happen. Moscow is fully aware that going public with illegal work on banned biological weapons is an existential threat to the US Deep State. Especially when documents seized by the Russians show that Big Pharma – via Pfizer, Moderna, Merck and Gilead – was involved in several “experiments”. Fully exposing the whole maze, from the start, was one of Putin’s stated objectives.

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Whether it’s true or not, why would this guy expose it?

Is US Drawing Up Plans To Sink the Russian Black Sea Fleet? (Antiwar)

Shortly after Reuters published an exclusive story that the White House was looking to move advanced anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, an official in Kiev said that the US is making a plan to sink Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko tweeted, “The US is preparing a plan to destroy the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet. The effective work of the Ukrainians on [Russian] warships convinced [the US] to prepare a plan to unblock the [Ukrainian] ports. Deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons are being discussed.” Gerashchenko cited the Reuters report on Washington’s effort to ship Harpoon and Naval Strike Missiles to Ukraine. The missiles have a range of up to 300 km and cost $1.5 million each.

Three US officials and two Congressional sources told the outlet the White House was still working out the details for sending the advanced weapons to Ukraine. Logistical issues and the possibility the US would have to remove a launcher from one of its ships to send to Ukraine are current obstacles to completing the transfer. Responding to a question from Newsweek, the State Department did not deny it was working on a plan to take out the Russian fleet. “As the conflict is changing, so too is our military assistance to deliver the critical capabilities Ukraine needs for today’s fight as Russia’s forces engage in a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine,” a spokesperson said.

However, the Department of Defense issued a sharp denial of the claims made by the Ukrainians official. “I can tell you definitively that that’s not true,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday afternoon. The Pentagon denial applied only to the Ukrainian official’s assertion the US was helping sink the Black Sea fleet, and did not refer to the proposed anti-ship weapons transfer. Gerashchenko said the attack would help to open up Ukraine’s ports. Russia currently controls the Black Sea and maintains a blockade. The UN has called for an easing of restrictions in the sea to allow food exports from Ukraine to help alleviate global food shortages.

Moscow has offered a diplomatic solution to the Black Sea standoff. On Thursday, the Kremlin proposed lifting the blockage in exchange for sanctions relief. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the problem goes beyond the blockade and includes Western sanctions restricting fertilizer exports. “You have to not only appeal to the Russian Federation but also look deeply at the whole complex of reasons that caused the current food crisis. [Sanctions] interfere with normal free trade, encompassing food products including wheat, fertilizers and others,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said.

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Thread by Russians With Attitude.

A Thread on “Azov” (RWA)

The roots of “Azov” can be found in the Neonazi soccer hooligan scene of Kharkov. Andrei Biletsky was the central figure of the nascent movement for the longest time. A Kharkov native, he joined numerous nationalist organizations, e.g. the Lvov-based “Tryzub”. He also actively supported the Kharkov cell of the “Social-National Party of Ukraine” (nowadays “Svoboda”). In 2006, Biletsky founded “Patriot of Ukraine”, a nationalist organization that engaged in street violence & even terrorism. Biletsky’s patron during this period was Arsen Avakov, Armenian-Ukrainian “entrepreneur” & politician. In 2005-2010, Avakov was the governor of Kharkov oblast. During this period, “Patriot of Ukraine” was unofficially deputized by Kharkov police. Biletsky’s gang helped the police patrol the streets for illegal immigrants, & also to combat illegal businesses.

Aside from their political activities, they serves as enforcers for Avakov’s “business ventures”. That’s how they reached a significant level of political protection. Avakov, of course, also became Minister of the Interior after the Euromaidan coup d’etat; their fruitful relationship continued. Russian Neonazi Sergei Korotkikh aka “Botsman” is a personal friend of Avakov’s son. Botsman also leads a separate Azov unit, the “Botsman Boys”. In 2011, Biletsky and several of his comrades were arrested for organized robbery; in early 2014, Avakov became Minister of the Interior & had them released from prison. Even before that, Biletsky’s “Patriot of Ukraine” had joined the Euromaidan protests & the “Right Sector”. Biletsky’s men took part in the civil strife that followed the Euromaidan coup d’etat.

Then known as “Little black men from Kharkov”, they published threatening video messages to the Russian population; they rode around the country & engaged in political violence. They came to Odessa & participated in the May 2nd massacre; they attacked Anti-Maidan protests in Kharkov or straight up had pro-Russian acvitists “disappeared” with the help of Ukrainian security services. This is a long introduction, but it’s important. Soon after, the civil strife turned into civil war. The Euromaidan government in Kiev realized that Ukraine doesn’t have an army. Its elite military units were getting humiliated by coal miner militias in Donbass. That’s when, under the patronage of Avakov, the “Volunteer Battalions” were created. Azov, Aidar, Donbas, Tornado, Dnipro — these & many other Ministry of the Interior formations are infamous for their horrifying reign of terror in Eastern Ukraine.

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To infinity and beyond with Milley Mouse.

Gen. Milley Warns West Point Graduates Of ‘Increasing’ Risk Of Global War (Fox)

Gen. Mark Milley told cadets graduating from U.S. Military Academy West Point Saturday to be prepared for increasing risk of global conflict and a host of new weapons technologies in their careers. “The world you are being commissioned into has the potential for a significant international conflict between great powers. And that potential is increasing, not decreasing,” Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the cadets at the 2022 commencement ceremony in West Point, New York. “And right now, at this very moment, a fundamental change is happening in the very character of war. We are facing right now two global powers, China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities, and both who fully intend to change the current rules based order,” Milley said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is teaching the world that “aggression left unanswered only emboldens the aggressor,” Milley said. “Let us never forget the massacre that we have just witnessed in Bucha nor the slaughter that occurred in Mariupol. And the best way to honor their sacrifice is to support their fight for freedom and to stand against tyranny,” Milley said. The urban character of the war in Ukraine is something Milley sees as a characteristic of future battlefields, which will be “highly complex and almost certainly decisive in urban areas against elusive, ambiguous enemies that combine terrorism and warfare alongside conventional capabilities — all embedded within large civilian populations.” Weapons technology will also change dramatically in future decades, Milley said, and the shift will be as radical as the change from musket to the rifle, the rifle to the machine gun or from sailing to steam ships.

And the technological edge is no longer automatically in America’s favor. “You’ll be fighting with robotic tanks and ships and airplanes,” Milley said. “We’ve witnessed a revolution in lethality and precision munitions. What was once the exclusive province of the United States military is now available to most nation states with the money will to acquire them.” Artificial intelligence is “resulting in that profound change, the most profound change ever in human history,” Milley said. “Whatever overmatch we the United States enjoyed militarily for the last 70 years is closing quickly. And the United States will be, in fact, we already are challenged in every domain of warfare in space and cyber, maritime air and, of course, land.”

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Want to get Covid? Take a vaccine. Might work for monkeypox too.

mRNA Vaccines Hurt Long-term Immunity To Covid (Berenson)

Unvaccinated people are much more likely to develop broad antibody immunity after Covid infections than people who have received mRNA shots, a new study shows. The gap remains large whether people had mild, moderate, or severe Covid infections, the study showed – undercutting a crucial argument that vaccine advocates have made to defend the shots. The research draws on data from Moderna’s 30,000-person clinical trial for its mRNA shots. It may help explain why so many Americans now suffer multiple Covid infections, sometimes within months. Researchers already knew that many vaccinated people do not gain antibodies to the entire coronavirus after they are infected with Covid.

Unvaccinated people nearly always gain antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, which covers the virus’s core of RNA, as well as its spike protein, which allows the virus to attack our cells. Vaccinated people often lack those anti-nucleocapsid antibodies and only have spike protein antibodies. Vaccine advocates claim the lack of nucleocapsid antibodies may occur because the mRNA shots prime people to fight off the Covid infections more quickly and have lower viral loads. In this view, the narrow immune response is a feature, not a bug – vaccinated people are less seriously infected and so do not need to generate anti-nucleocapsid antibodies. This study essentially demolishes that theory.

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Moderna quietly posted the paper a month ago as a pre-print, but it has received little attention despite its import. The researchers examined the development of anti-nucleocapsid antibodies in people who had been part of Moderna’s clinical trial and were infected with Covid. As they expected, the scientists found that the vaccinated people were far less likely to develop the anti-nucleocapsid antibodies. Only 40 percent of people who received the shots had antibodies, compared to 93 percent of those who did not. But they then went a step further. Because the infected people had been in the trial, their viral loads had been precisely measured when they were found to have Covid.

So the researchers were able to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated people who had the same amounts of virus in their blood. Once again, they found that unvaccinated people were far more likely to develop anti-nucleocapsid antibodies than the jabbed. An unvaccinated person with a mild infection had a 71 percent chance of mounting an immune response that included those antibodies. A vaccinated person had about a 15 percent chance.

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Few countries have fared as poorly as Canada.

Once A Liberal Democracy, Canada Is Now An Authoritarian State (Arora)

Two decades ago, when I was 4 years old, my parents immigrated to Canada from India in search of greater freedoms, autonomy and economic opportunities. They’re core Canadian values — enshrined in our national anthem, which gloriously heralds “The True North strong and free.” However, the past two years have seen a near complete erosion of the foundational liberal values that have attracted millions of immigrants like myself to this country. Under the once-righteous guise of COVID safety and online protections, the Canadian government has taken its power to extreme levels once only imaginable — let alone permissible — in a dissent-stifling authoritarian state. The control has extended to nearly every element of Canadian society, but nowhere more so than in our everyday personal lives.

Take my own case contending with Canada’s COVID bureaucracy a few months back. I was returning to Canada from the US when multiple Air Canada employees refused to let me on the plane. Although I had a negative COVID test, the government was suddenly requiring even returning citizens to be vaccinated (unvaccinated foreigners were already barred from entering). Since the most documented adverse effect associated with COVID vaccination — heart inflammation — is concentrated in young men ages 15 – 25, I chose not to get vaccinated. I am 21 years old, have already recovered from COVID and have no co-morbidities. I’m at low risk from serious COVID illness, which is why I remain unvaccinated. But this can make air travel difficult — especially in Canada. Minutes before my boarding gate was closed, a sympathetic Air Canada staffer “begged” his manager to let me board the plane.

“I just gave you a massive favor. No one else would do this,” he said as I finally made my way down the jetway. In the Canada of Justin Trudeau’s making, you must now go to extreme measures simply to be allowed to return to your own nation. And for what? COVID is just the beginning of the Canadian madness. The internationally recognized trucker protests earlier this year were the most flagrant display of political control ever witnessed within the ranks of the Canadian government. After trying to dismiss the truckers as a “fringe minority” of “swastika wavers,” Trudeau manufactured a National Emergency in order to justify truly outrageous tactics. Not only did he suspend the insurance of the truckers’ vehicles, he regulated the cryptocurrency transfers and froze the bank accounts of folks simply donating to the trucker cause.

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“We only have a short window of opportunity to give farmers funding.”

American Farmer Warns Of Impending Food Shortages (ZH)

NewsNation’s Leland Vittert asked one American farmer: “How close are we to the next food crisis?” The answer: “We are in a crisis right now as far as the food chain goes with the farmer in this country,” John Boyd Jr., the President of the National Black Farmers Association, said. Boyd points out some farmers are unable to plant because of adverse weather conditions. He said farmers in the Northern Plains haven’t been able to get tractors in the fields because of soggy conditions, and the war in Ukraine has knocked out an entire region of food production. He warned, “We’re going to see a lot of empty shelves and a lot more high food prices.” In his forty-year career as a farmer, Boyd said he never imagined he would be “paying $5.63 for a gallon of diesel fuel, $900 a ton for fertilizer, and all-time high prices for soybean seeds.”


All of the prices he mentioned are at record highs, pressuring farmers’ margins. He said the American people need to wake up to the crisis in the farming industry, adding, “farming isn’t Republican or Democratic, it’s food, the land is neutral … this is the time the American people need to support the American farmer and put pressure on the Biden administration to put things in place to help farmers.” He mentioned that banks need to provide emergency funding to farmers to get their crops in the ground. Out-of-control inflation has left some farmers unable to plant because of soaring costs. Boyd said, “We only have a short window of opportunity to give farmers funding.” He stated the worst-case scenario is “a lot of shortages” of food that could materialize later this year.

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New PM Anthony Albanese looks as inept as his predecessor, but he might have one advantage.

Labor Win Presents ‘Great Opportunity’ In Fight To Free Julian Assange (LE)

The father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the election of a Labor government is a “great opportunity” for the movement to free the WikiLeaks founder from imprisonment. Speaking at a Sydney Q&A screening of documentary Ithaka, which documents his efforts to free Assange, John Shipton said a groundswell of parliamentarian support was growing for his son’s plight and he was buoyed up by the prospect of an incoming Labor government. “Of course things would change [if Labor were elected] … this is a great opportunity for us,” he said. “A fresh parliament has a lot of room to move … I speak to many of them. They don’t want this hanging around their neck like an albatross.”


Shipton said he had had several lunches with Anthony Albanese, and had been assured the opposition leader would do “whatever he can” to free his son and “enough’s enough”. The 76-year-old said when he began advocating for Assange in 2019, two parliamentarians supported him – independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Greens senator for Tasmania Peter Whish-Wilson. “Now there are 29 and peripherally, there are other supporters,” he said. “The deputy prime minister while in the US … said publicly … that Julian ought to be charged if he’s done anything in the UK … other than that, send him home. “There’s a core in the Labor party, there’s a core in the National party, the Greens are all supporting [Julian] … it’s a popular concern and parliamentarians recognise that.”

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Rebel Davos

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

May 092021
 
 May 9, 2021  Posted by at 9:06 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  54 Responses »


Daniel Garber Buds and Blossoms 1916

 

World’s Most Vaccinated Country Sees Unprecedented Spike In Covid Cases (WaPo)
The Virus Is An Airborne Threat, The CDC Acknowledges (NYT)
Covid-19 Fear Porn Has Cast A Chill Over Love, Sex, And Birthrates (Bridge)
Chelsea Clinton Calls For Global Crackdown On Anti-Vax Social Media Posts (LS)
New York Baseball Stadiums To Separate Vaccinated And Unvaccinated Fans (ET)
Beijing’s Elusive Bid For Pricing Power On Rare Earths (Ma)
Ex-CNN White House Reporter: Journalists Don’t Expect Govt Spying & Lying (RT)
Cyber Attack Shuts Down Top US Fuel Pipeline Network (R.)
NATO Allies Take Over Black Sea for Military Exercise (Antiwar)
US Finally Stops Pretending It Would Risk War With Russia Over Ukraine (RT)

 

 


Up in the Air – “How much does your life weigh?

 

 

 

 

Seychelles.

World’s Most Vaccinated Country Sees Unprecedented Spike In Covid Cases (WaPo)

As the Seychelles began to offer free coronavirus vaccinations early this year, President Wavel Ramkalawan told reporters that the country was planning to reach herd immunity within weeks. It was an ambitious target for a small, geographically isolated island nation in the Indian Ocean. But with its economy heavily reliant on tourism, the country called in favors to attain a vaccine supply from regional allies, including India and the United Arab Emirates. The effort initially seemed to be a success. The Seychelles stands as the most vaccinated nation on Earth, with more than 60% of its population fully vaccinated, more than other vaccine giants such as Israel and Britain, and almost twice the United States’ rate of vaccination.

But that success has been undermined this week as the Seychelles has found itself with its largest number of new coronavirus cases per capita, and has been forced to reinstate a number of restrictions. Though the number of new cases is relatively low – peaking at an average of just over 100 new cases a day – they are a big deal in a country with a population of less than 100,000. On a per capita basis, the Seychelles outbreak is worse than India’s raging surge. In a small country, even a small number of cases can be overwhelming. “A spike in cases places an enormous burden on an already strained public health system,” said Malshini Senaratne, director of Eco-Sol, an environmental consultancy firm in Seychelles.

With the country’s main treatment center for covid-19 patients nearing capacity and doctors and nurses among the sick, the Seychelles announced the return of coronavirus restrictions, school closures and limited opening hours for shops and restaurants. [..] So far, the number of deaths in the Seychelles attributed to the virus is relatively low – 28 out of more than 6,000 cases. But the surge in new cases may also confirm that the vaccines being used in the country have comparatively low effectiveness. Roughly 60% of the doses administered in Seychelles are vaccines made by the Chinese company Sinopharm that were donated to the Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates. The remaining doses are of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India.

In many ways, Seychelles government negotiations for vaccine supplies were savvy and speedy. But the country has ended up using two vaccines that appear to be less effective against symptomatic covid-19. The World Health Organization had recently estimated the efficiency of the Sinopharm vaccine at just over 78% for adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients. The UAE has asked some who received the Sinopharm vaccine to return for third doses, citing low immune responses, though officials said only a “very small number” need to do so. Meanwhile, U.S. trials of AstraZeneca have found that the vaccine is 79% effective overall. Both vaccines are considerably lower in effectiveness than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which use mRNA technology and have reported effectiveness rates of around 95%.

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Shouldn’t this be: “The Virus Is An Airborne Threat, The New York Times Acknowledges”?

The Virus Is An Airborne Threat, The CDC Acknowledges (NYT)

Federal health officials on Friday updated public guidance about how the coronavirus spreads, emphasizing that transmission occurs by inhaling very fine respiratory droplets and aerosolized particles, as well as through contact with sprayed droplets or touching contaminated hands to one’s mouth, nose or eyes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now states explicitly — in large, bold lettering — that airborne virus can be inhaled even when one is more than six feet away from an infected individual. The new language, posted online, is a change from the agency’s previous position that most infections were acquired through “close contact, not airborne transmission.”

As the pandemic unfolded last year, infectious disease experts warned for months that both the C.D.C. and the World Health Organization were overlooking research that strongly suggested the coronavirus traveled aloft in small, airborne particles. Several scientists on Friday welcomed the agency’s scrapping of the term “close contact,” which they criticized as vague and said did not necessarily capture the nuances of aerosol transmission. “C.D.C. has now caught up to the latest scientific evidence, and they’ve gotten rid of some old problematic terms and thinking about how transmission occurs,” said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. The new focus underscores the need for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue standards for employers to address potential hazards in the workplace, some experts said.

“They hadn’t talked much about aerosols and were more focused on droplets,” said David Michaels, an epidemiologist at George Washington School of Public Health and head of OSHA in the Obama administration. He and other researchers expressed concern that the C.D.C. has not yet strengthened its recommendations on preventing exposure to aerosolized virus. The new information has significant implications for indoor environments, and workplaces in particular, Dr. Michaels said. Virus-laden particles “maintain their airborne properties for hours, and they accumulate in a room that doesn’t have good ventilation.” “There’s more exposure closer up,” Dr. Michaels said. “But when you’re further away, there’s still a risk, and also these particles stay in the air.”

Donald Milton, an aerosol scientist at the University of Maryland, agreed that federal officials should provide better guidelines for keeping workplaces safe. “We need better focus on good respirators for people who have to be close to other people for long periods of time,” Dr. Milton said. “A surgical mask, even if it’s tucked in on the edges, is still not really going to give you enough protection if you’re in a meatpacking plant elbow to elbow all day long with other people.”

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‘Love in the Time of Cholera’

Covid-19 Fear Porn Has Cast A Chill Over Love, Sex, And Birthrates (Bridge)

Throughout history, mankind has been forced to contend with a number of serial diseases, many of which had a far better track record for killing than the current coronavirus strain, which comes with a better than 99 percent survival rate. And our ancestors confronted those invisible enemies with heroism, without feeling the need to sacrifice what made them quintessentially human. In the novel ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, by the late Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the prospect of death and dying during the cholera outbreak of the late 19th century took a deserved back seat to the animated celebration of life and love that leaps from every page. “There were cockfights in the patios, accordion music on the street corners, riders on thoroughbred horses, rockets and bells,” Marquez wrote of his South American town at a time when bubble-wrapping the populace was an unthinkable preventive measure against the pandemic.

“At midnight the visitors left, the public fiesta scattered into smoldering embers…” Despite this lusty, unbridled passion for life, Marquez was careful to point out that the native population was not reckless with its health and safety, but rather took all of the normal – with emphasis on the word ‘normal’ – precautions against the deadly cholera outbreak. In one scene reminiscent of our current imbroglio, a riverboat captain is confronted by an armed patrol assigned to stop any vessel that may be transporting infected passengers. He tells the patrol that he had “only three passengers on board and all of them had cholera… but none of the twenty-seven men of the crew had any contact with them.”

Nevertheless, the commander of the patrol “was not satisfied, and he ordered them to leave the bay and wait in Las Mercedes Marsh… while the forms were prepared for placing the ship in quarantine.” In other words, the people did what they could to prevent unnecessary death, but the great play of life never stopped or hid in the shadows. What will future writers convey about our current battle against Covid-19, which many believe has led humanity to the brink of absolute madness? That far from allowing the human spirit to triumph in the face of adversity, we cowered and hid ourselves in our homes, prevented children from learning and playing together, while letting our small businesses go up in proverbial flames? That is not the way humans over the millennia have responded to crises.

Even during the darkest moments of World War II, when the threat of a Nazi attack hung heavy in the air, the daily business of living did not stop. In similar fashion, people should not let the fear and risk of Covid destroy the essence of what it means to be human. If we stop living as a way to achieve victory over an enemy – be it a foreign adversary or an invisible contagion – then we have already admitted our defeat.

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A voice of authority.

Chelsea Clinton Calls For Global Crackdown On Anti-Vax Social Media Posts (LS)

Chelsea Clinton has spoken out against freedom of vaccine-critical speech at a Vatican conference dedicated to dialogue. Speaking during a pre-recorded online meeting, Clinton, 41, responded to a question about so-called “vaccine hesitancy” regarding COVID-19 vaccines by saying that there must be a global effort to crack down on vaccine-critical social media posts. “I personally very strongly believe there has to be more intensive and intentional and coordinated global regulation of the content on social media platforms,” she said. “We know that the most popular video across all of Latin America for the last few weeks that now has tens of millions of views is just an anti-vax, anti-science screed that YouTube has just refused to take down.”

Clinton added that anti-vaccine content created in the United States “flourishes” across the world by way of social media platforms. Her attempts to convince the managers of these sites to remove the material has not worked, she said. “We know that — because I have tried — that appealing to the leadership of these companies to do the right thing has just not worked, and so we need regulation.” Clinton is the Vice President of the Clinton Foundation and the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Like her parents, she is an outspoken advocate for abortion. She appeared alongside Dr. Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Walter Ricciardi, the Italian president of the World Federation of Public Health Associations, at a pre-recorded online meeting forming part of the Fifth International Vatican “Unite to Prevent & Unite to Cure” conference. Their meeting was first aired today.

Clinton said that the Clinton Foundation has been doing what it can to convince the “vaccine hesitant” and the “vaccine refusers” to take doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. She believes it is important to differentiate between people who are “hesitant” and those in the “refusal group.” The “hesitant” have questions that she can answer, for instance regarding the speed at which the vaccines were developed, their ingredients, and “conspiracies about microchips.” The people in the “refusal group,” “often young people, don’t think they need the experimental vaccine or would prefer to wait a few years before taking it, Clinton added. They also include people in communities who “have been maltreated” by the American “health system for generations.”=

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“Cuomo insisted the new plan is legal. ”

New York Baseball Stadiums To Separate Vaccinated And Unvaccinated Fans (ET)

People who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine will be seated separately from those who have in two major baseball stadiums in New York, officials announced this week. The segregation will be enforced at Fans at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, home to Major League Baseball’s New York Mets and New York Yankees. “There are going to be separate sections for those who are vaccinated,” Randy Levine, president of the Yankees, told a May 5 briefing he joined with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “As we sell tickets on an individual basis, they will go into one of those two areas, either unvaccinated or vaccinated because we will have some inventory in both types of location,” added Sandy Alderson, the president of the Mets.

The details of how the new policy will be enforced are still being developed. Sections with people who are vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, can be full, with no capacity restrictions. But in sections with unvaccinated people, fans will need to be spaced apart six feet. All fans, regardless of their status, must wear a mask, even though the games are played outdoors. “For baseball reopening, May 19th. Two different categories. Not Yankees/Mets. Vaccinated/Unvaccinated,” Cuomo, a Democrat who has refused calls to resign over sexual assault allegations and his administration hiding the number of elderly New Yorkers who died from COVID-19, told the briefing.

“I want to thank the Mets and the Yankees from the bottom of my heart. It’s a pain in the neck for them to operate this vaccinated and unvaccinated. The gentlemen who run the stadiums are here. It’s not easy to do this. Nobody’s done this before. Nobody’s done any of this before, let’s be honest,” he added. Cuomo insisted the new plan is legal.

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“Selling gold for the price of radishes”

Beijing’s Elusive Bid For Pricing Power On Rare Earths (Ma)

From ventilator and chip shortages to what kind of ships traverses through which canals, the linkages and nodes of the global economy have rarely been in the spotlight as much as they have over the last 12 months. Many of these disruptions are short-term ones, but they have also brought attention to longstanding challenges of supply chain resilience and dependence. One of those challenges is that of China’s grip on rare earth elements (REEs), a key input in permanent magnets that are in everything from smart phones and wind turbines to electric vehicles and missile guidance systems. This is not the first time these 17 elements that sit at the bottom of the periodic table have raised alarm from Tokyo to Washington. Back in 2010, Beijing was roundly accused of embargoing REE exports to Japan as Sino-Japan relations soured.

At the time, China was responsible for some 90%-plus of REE supplies globally, even though its estimated reserves are around just 25%-33% of the global total. Given the wide belief in Japan and the United States—which also happen to be the largest importers of REEs—that China could weaponize this resource, its supply monopoly raised hackles and intensified calls for diversification. A decade since, has much changed? I had trekked to Inner Mongolia’s Baotou Rare Earth Hi-Tech Zone back in 2010 to gain more insight into China’s designs on the REE industry and how that affected the global market. It’s worth revisiting this industry now to understand how its dynamics shaped Beijing’s thinking and intent on managing this resource.

China has long viewed REEs as a strategic resource, with the industry’s development spurred by a quip supposedly attributed to Deng Xiaoping: “The Middle East has oil, but China has rare earths.” Yet as China became the dominant supplier of REEs over subsequent decades, it saw the price of REEs plummet, hardly the price-setting influence that an OPEC exerted on oil prices. That frustrated the economic nationalists in Beijing, grumbling that China was essentially “selling gold at the price of radishes.” Much of that frustration stemmed from the government’s inability to regulate a wild industry that was rife with smuggling. At one point in 2011, it was estimated that there was a gap of 120% between REE volumes that China officially exported and what other countries imported.

Meanwhile, REE mining was also exacting a hefty environmental toll. The Chinese government decided it needed to consolidate the REE industry. Beijing thought it could clean up the illegal business, while also receiving some of that price-setting power that has long eluded it. What’s more, the move also dovetailed with rolling out the original “strategic emerging industries” initiative, the start of China’s effort to indigenize supply chains and move up the value chain. In other words, why export this resource for pennies when China should keep more of it for its own tech industries of the future?


Global Share of REE Production (in tons)

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“I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

Ex-CNN White House Reporter: Journalists Don’t Expect Govt Spying & Lying (RT)

American whistleblower Edward Snowden and many others mocked a former CNN White House correspondent for insinuating that US government lies and spying were unique to the Trump administration and reporters don’t expect it. Michelle Kosinski, who worked as CNN’s White House correspondent between 2014 and 2019, claimed on Saturday that “as an American journalist, you never expect” your “own govt to lie to you,” “hide information the public has a right to know,” and “spy on your communications.” “Trump’s unAmerican regime did all of these. No one should accept this,” she concluded. Kosinski was quickly ridiculed, both for suggesting that American journalists were so naive and for making government surveillance and disinformation appear exclusive to former President Donald Trump’s brief administration.


Whistleblower and former CIA employee Edward Snowden – who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program on civilians and had to flee the US – told Kosinski, “I’m afraid I have some bad news.” “You are hideously unqualified to be a journalist if you think this, good lord,” tweeted another person, while journalist Alan MacLeod called Kosinski’s thought process “the level of naive state worship required to get a top job in the media.” Despite the heavy criticism, Kosinski stood by her post, claiming Trump’s “tens of thousands of outright lies, treasonous allegiances, and attacks on democracy” weren’t “equivalent” to the mass surveillance and disinformation campaigns from previous administrations.

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A curious detail: ..a group dubbed “DarkSide,” known for deploying ransomware and extorting victims while avoiding targets in post-Soviet states ..

Cyber Attack Shuts Down Top US Fuel Pipeline Network (R.)

Top U.S. fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline has shut its entire network, the source of nearly half of the U.S. East Coast’s fuel supply, after a cyber attack that the company said was caused by ransomware. The incident is one of the most disruptive digital ransom operations ever reported and has drawn attention to how critical U.S. energy infrastructure is vulnerable to hackers. The shutdown has raised fears of a price spike at gasoline pumps ahead of peak summer driving season if it persists. Colonial transports 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products through 5,500 miles (8,850 km) of pipelines linking refiners on the Gulf Coast to the eastern and southern United States. Colonial said it shut down systems to contain the threat after learning of the attack on Friday.


That action also temporarily halted operations and affected some of its IT systems, the company said. While the U.S. government investigation is in early stages, one former official and two industry sources said the hackers are likely a professional cybercriminal group. The former official said investigators are looking at a group dubbed “DarkSide,” known for deploying ransomware and extorting victim swhile avoiding targets in post-Soviet states. Colonial said the incident involved the use of ransomware, a type of malware designed to lock down systems by encrypting data and demanding payment to regain access. Colonial has engaged a cybersecurity firm to launch an investigation and contacted law enforcement and federal agencies, it said.

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Just dumb stuff.

NATO Allies Take Over Black Sea for Military Exercise (Antiwar)

The Pentagon’s Special Operations Command Europe kicked off the Trojan Footprint 21 exercise on May 3; what is identified as its premier special operations forces drills. The war games will be held until May 14 in five Black Sea and Balkans nations: Bulgaria, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Romania. Special forces from the U.S. – all branches of the armed forces including Green Berets – the five host nations, Britain, Germany, Spain and Ukraine are involved. With the exception of Turkey, all Black Sea littoral states but Russia are participating.


The exercise is designed for “enhancing interoperability between NATO allies” to prepare for “counter[ing] myriad threats.” Though there aren’t a thousand, only one, threat. Russia. Just as it is all-service so it is “all-domain” with air, land and sea forces engaged in combating an unnamed adversary in the Black Sea. One which has a fleet based in Sevastopol in Crimea. Trojan Footprint 21 is occurring simultaneously with the massive DEFENDER-Europe 21 war games in the same area and ahead of the Steadfast Defender exercise, also to be held in the Black Sea region.

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“..revising a section in an official transcript to play down the prospect of Ukraine joining the NATO military bloc..”

US Finally Stops Pretending It Would Risk War With Russia Over Ukraine (RT)

Would the US go to war with Russia over Ukraine? As tensions escalate between Moscow and Kiev, some have warned that the latter’s ‘alliance’ with Washington could spiral into a conflict between the two main nuclear superpowers. Except, of course, there is no alliance between the US and Ukraine. This week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken effectively ended the notion that Ukraine has Western backers ready to step in at a moment’s notice if it finds itself under attack. Pressed on whether American forces could be sent into battle against Russian troops to support Kiev in the event of war in an interview with MSNBC, he answered only that Washington is committed to “helping Ukraine defend itself.”

In other words, no. Indeed, with these words, Blinken backed up suspicions in Moscow that Washington stands ready to fight Moscow down to the very last Ukrainian, but would never risk its own troops. It is difficult to overstate the importance of the secretary of state’s response, which has effectively ended a calculated policy of strategic ambiguity over Ukraine. For years, the State Department has been reluctant to be drawn on just how far it would go for the Eastern European nation, and whether it would send its own soldiers into battle for its supposed ally.

The fact that mask has slipped now fundamentally changes the nature of the situation. It comes as the White House has also seemingly pivoted its foreign policy in the region by revising a section in an official transcript to play down the prospect of Ukraine joining the NATO military bloc. After turning to the West following the 2014 Maidan, Kiev has played up its credentials with the EU and US, emphasizing the importance of its ‘alliances’ and its role as a vanguard against supposed Russian aggression towards Central Europe. That argument is now based on less and less evidence.

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Apr 172021
 


Edvard Munch Spring 1889

 

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)
And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)
Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)
De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)
How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)
Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)
Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)
Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)
Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)
Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)
US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)
Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)
Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)
Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)
The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

 

 

 

 


A sailboat shielded by clouds, Chios Island, Greece. @avgoustidisermis

 

 

“..the architects of the biosecurity state..”

The Eruption of the Refugee Crisis and the Push for Vaccine Passports (MPN)

The controversy erupted on Twitter even as the 32,000-foot-high plume of smoke from Saint Vincent’s La Soufrière volcano was still rising in the sky. The firestorm on American social media platforms over reports that only those vaccinated against COVID-19 would be allowed to evacuate the eastern Caribbean island sheds light on the architects of the biosecurity state who have descended on Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) to explore the limits of mandatory public health protocols in the midst of a natural disaster now projected to “last months.” Global organizations, NGOs, and members of the scientific community are coordinating emergency response efforts in Saint Vincent. Power outages, no clean water, and continued volcanic eruptions have rendered parts of the island virtually uninhabitable, plunging Vincentians who have managed to escape into a condition of quasi-statelessness where notions of human rights and civil liberties become malleable.

“Refugees are in a position of complete vulnerability,” says Dr. Diego Garcia Ricci, from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, speaking to MintPress. The constitutional law professor and data privacy expert addressed some of the issues surrounding the plight of refugees as biometric data like retinal scans, fingerprinting and even gender, become a pillar of identity documentation and incipient travel requirements in the wake of the pandemic. “While biometrics can be useful for identification purposes, mistakes do happen,” Garcia Ricci warns. Most at risk from these mistakes, abuse and racial profiling arising out of biometric digital identity systems are those whose need for the ‘state’ is made indispensable by virtue of being rendered stateless. Free agents with no agency are prime targets for global entities like the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which claims to speak for close to 80 million forcibly displaced people.

Vincentians who are unable or refuse to leave the island are likely to be reclassified as “internally displaced persons” or IDPs, another kind of refugee as defined by the UNHCR. Such classifications are part of a vast structure of laws and guidelines enshrined in the archives of supranational state entities like the European Commission and the United Nations, based on the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which establishes international rules governing the treatment and rights of refugees, whose numbers have nearly doubled since 2012, ballooning from 45.2 million “displaced” to 79.5 million as of the last count.

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“In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.”

And Now Proof: Covid Vaccines Are More Dangerous Than Covid (Denninger)

I suspected the data would be forthcoming showing this given the VAERS reports and now we have it:

I Using an electro nic health records network we estimated the absolute incidence of cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) in the two weeks following COVID-19 diagnosis (N=513,284), or influenza (N=172,742), or receipt of the BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccines (N=489,871).


The incidence of portal vein thrombosis (PVT) was also assessed in these groups, as well as the baseline CVT incidence over a two-week period. The incidence of CVT after COVID-19 diagnosis was 39.0 per million people (95% CI, 25.2–60.2). This was higher than the CVT incidence after influenza (0.0 per million people, 95% CI 0.0 – 22.2, adjusted RR=6.73, P=.003) or after receiving BNT162b2 or RNA-1273 vaccine (4.1 per million people, 95% CI 1.1 – 14.9, adjusted RR=6.36, P<.001).

Wait a second…. you said the vaccines are more dangerous yet the data says that Covid-19 is ten times as dangerous as the vaccine for the same condition. So how can the title of this article be correct? Simple: For every reported infection somewhere around ten are not reported. Either they’re completely asymptomatic (about 30%) or mild enough that the person in question does not identify it as potentially Covid-19 and thus does not get tested. Yet both of the latter confer immunity just as does a symptomatic case. Further, you’re not guaranteed to get the disease. You are guaranteed to take the risk if you get the shot. Therefore we must adjust for the risk of contracting the disease which is not certain; you may have already had it and not know it and, in addition, you may have cross-reactive immunity.

Therefore the shot is close to or even more-dangerous than the disease. The baseline for approval of any therapy is that it must be much less dangerous than the disease itself. When it comes to vaccines the usual expectation is that it should 100x or more safer to get the shot than the disease, simply on the basis that you are not guaranteed to get the disease irrespective of how bad it is. If the disease is particularly lethal either generally or to you then a risk that is material for the vaccine is acceptable. What’s even worse is that this risk is basically identically in both mRNA and viral-vector (e.g. J&J) formulations; they both cause the same result in the same percentage of recipients, yet the FDA is still allowing the mRNA vaccines to be administered!

Covid-19, in non-morbid (young, but not exclusively so) people, only kills about 1/50,000 times — so if the shot gets you 1/250,000 times it’s a bad risk since a huge percentage of infections are not medically known as they are clinically significant and you are not guaranteed to be infected at all since you may have already had it and not known it or be resistant due to a previous infection with some other coronavirus and thus not at risk of developing clinical disease. These shots are not approvable on the math for other than materially-morbid individuals. In healthy adults and especially healthy children they should be prohibited outright as they are, on the math, more dangerous than the virus.

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“When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum..”

Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Lockdowns Were A “Huge Mistake” (ET)

Standing behind the desk in his office in Tallahassee, DeSantis leafed through a folder of praise he’s received from around the nation and across the globe. Hanging on the walls around the relatively small space was a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as well as the uniform the governor wore as the captain of the Yale baseball team. When asked why he chose Lincoln, DeSantis said the president is the best example of a leader who had to make difficult decisions in a time of crisis. When asked why some of the leaders today have continued with lockdowns even with ample evidence of their ineffectiveness, the governor theorized that the people involved have committed too much to the narrative and have made it impossible to change course.

“You have a situation where if you’re in this field, the pandemic, that’s something that you kind of prepare for and you’re ready for. And a lot of these people muffed it,” he said. “When push came to shove, they advocated policies that have not worked against the virus but have been very, very destructive. They are never going to admit they were wrong about anything, unfortunately.” Elected leaders aren’t the only ones to blame, according to the governor. The media and big tech companies played a major role in perpetuating fears about the virus while selectively censoring one side of the mitigation debate. DeSantis said the media and tech giants stood to benefit from the lockdown as people stayed home and consumed their products.

“It was all just to generate the most clicks that they could. And so that was always trying to do the stuff that would inspire the most fear,” DeSantis said. Two weeks after the interview, an undercover video recorded by Project Veritas showed a technical director at CNN talking about the boost the network received due to its pandemic coverage. “It’s fear. Fear really drives numbers,” CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester said. “Fear is the thing that keeps you tuned in.” The fear-mongering worked, DeSantis said, pointing to CDC statistics showing that 4 out of 10 American adults delayed or avoided getting urgent or routine medical treatment in June 2020. The agency’s report said that the pattern may have contributed to the excess deaths reported during that period, due to preventable illnesses and injuries going untreated.

Emergency room doctors had reported that fewer people were coming in with cardiac-related chest pains while more were coming in with late-stage appendicitis, something that is usually caught much earlier. The pandemic has also led to a sharp decrease in cancer screenings and detections. “When you have people too scared to go to the emergency room when they’re literally having a heart attack, that didn’t happen in a vacuum,” DeSantis said.

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“..the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down.”

De-escalate Before Ukraine Conflict Turns Into Nuclear Holocaust- Gabbard (RT)

Unless the world wants to see loved ones “burned alive in a nuclear holocaust,” politicians should cut out the “macho” act and begin to deescalate. That’s according to former US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a US Army veteran. Speaking to Tucker Carlson on Fox News on Thursday, Gabbard said the American people must decide if they’re willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine. If not – the rhetoric must be toned down. “Such a war would come at a cost beyond anything we can really imagine,” she told Carlson. “This is something that will directly impact…every single one of your viewers.” “It is a war in which there are no winners,” she added.

The conflict in Donbass started in 2014, when two pro-Russia breakaway republics unilaterally declared independence from Kiev. While a peace deal was agreed upon later that year, both sides regularly report ceasefire violations. Much of the region is now split into the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. According to Kiev, both of the unrecognized states are controlled by Russia, which the Kremlin denies. Moscow says both Donetsk and Lugansk are part of Ukraine. Fears of a full-scale war have been growing in recent weeks. Media reports have revealed a build-up of both Russian manpower and equipment, particularly on the Crimean peninsula and by the eastern Ukrainian frontier. This came after news of increased shelling of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region by Kiev’s forces, and revelations that the Ukrainian Army was increasing its number of troops in the area.

Kiev is supported by the US, which has provided money, equipment and expertise. However, Washington has not given Ukraine the status of a full ally. According to Gabbard, it would be a disaster if a war kicks off in Ukraine. In particular, she highlighted the “thousands of nuclear weapons” Moscow and Washington have aimed at each other, warning that “hundreds of millions” could die and suffer if a war kicks off.

Tulsi Gabbard
https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1383022106779267076

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Uhhh, no. Putin is not eager to meet with Biden, Lavrov et al have made that plenty clear: such ameeting would only be used to make Putin look bad, or worse. And no, it’s not saber-rattling when you respond to 10s of 1000s gathering on your border.

How Putin’s “Saber-Rattling” Forced A Biden Summit (ZH)

[..] given Biden’s recent offer to sit down with Putin for a bilateral summit this summer, which is still on the table, it appears Ukraine’s leadership has been effectively sidelined. As one FT piece underscored this week, Putin’s troop build-up has succeeded in pressuring the Biden administration for a coveted summit to decide the future of Ukraine. “The summit format will also please the Kremlin by effectively cutting Kyiv out of any negotiations, and allow Putin to project the image of two global superpowers deciding the future fate of the conflict,” FT observed. Here’s more from FT… “If Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine’s border in the past few weeks was driven primarily by a desire to get the west’s attention, he did not have to wait too long for his reward.

Hours after his defense minister on Tuesday admitted Russia had mobilised two armies and three paratroop divisions to positions close to the conflict-wracked frontier, US President Joe Biden phoned the Kremlin with an offer of a bilateral summit: a long sought-after prize for Putin who craves a seat at the world’s highest negotiating table. …Those 50,000 extra soldiers, scores of tanks and other heavy weaponry spooked Kyiv and other European powers, and sparked a hurried response from Nato and the US amid fears over a potential outbreak of fighting between the two countries.” This wasn’t a stand-alone assessment, given also this week BBC came to a similar conclusion.

The BBC commentary underscored that the Russian troop build-up was never ultimately about some kind of hyped “invasion” of Ukraine – as Kiev officials have been shouting – but instead about bringing massive leverage to bear in forcing Biden’s hand. To the chagrin of the West’s Russia hawks, the BBC essentially pointed to a major diplomatic victory and ‘checkmate’ of sorts for the Russian side… The build-up has been impossible to ignore: thousands of Russian troops deployed towards Ukraine; US warships reportedly heading for the Black Sea and Russia’s foreign ministry warning them off “for their own good”. As the hostile rhetoric and military moves around Ukraine have intensified, Western politicians have begun fearing an open invasion and urging Russia’s Vladimir Putin to “de-escalate”.

Russia has refused: the defense ministry this week insisted its moves were in response to “threatening” Nato exercises in Europe. Then Mr Putin got a phone-call from the White House. And then, noted the BBC, Biden suggested a near-future face-to-face summit with Putin, which gives Russia the edge given it was the US side that first proposed it: “In Putin’s game of brinkmanship, Biden blinked first,” argues journalist Konstantin Eggert, after Joe Biden made his first call to the Kremlin and proposed meeting Mr Putin “in the coming months”. It’s just weeks after the US president agreed with an interviewer that Russia’s leader was “a killer”. President Biden’s new move is now a new topic of debate – disaster prevention or a mistaken concession – but in the run-up to a summit, the risk of major military action by Russia certainly fades.

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Well, the US stated again that it doesn’t recognize the present status of Crimea, maybe that’s enough to make it justified.

Russia Blocking Of Black Sea Would Be ‘Unjustified’ – NATO (Y!)

Russian plans to block parts of the Black Sea would be “unjustified”, NATO said Friday, calling on Moscow “to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation”. Russian state media have reported that Moscow intends to close parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships for six months. Such a move could affect access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait, on the eastern tip of the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. The move has triggered concerns in the United States and the European Union.

Russia’s “ongoing militarisation of Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov are further threats to Ukraine’s independence, and undermine the stability of the broader region,” a spokeswoman for NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. Blocking the Black Sea would “be an unjustified move, and part of a broader pattern of destabilising behaviour by Russia,” she added. NATO called on Russia to “de-escalate immediately, stop its pattern of provocations, and respect its international commitments”. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby noted that Russia was justifying plans to block the Black Sea until October on the grounds that it is preparing military exercises.

“Russia has a history of taking aggressive actions against Ukrainian vessels and impeding international maritime transit in the Black Sea, particularly near the Kerch Strait,” he told reporters. “It’s just the latest example of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilise Ukraine,” he added, reaffirming Washington’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. “We call on Russia to cease its harassment of vessels in the region, and reverse its build-up of forces along Ukraine’s border and occupied Ukraine.”

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“Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan..”

Biden Isn’t Ending The Afghanistan War, He’s Privatizing It (GZ)

Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan, while official troops number 2,500. Joe Biden will withdraw this smaller group of soldiers while leaving behind US Special Forces, mercenaries, and intelligence operatives — privatizing and downscaling the war, but not ending it.

On April 14, President Joe Biden announced that he would end the U.S.’s longest war and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Over 6,000 NATO troops will also be withdrawn by that time. “War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, the same location from which President George W. Bush had announced the war was beginning in October 2001. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”

Biden’s claim that he is ending the forever war is misleading. As The New York Times reported, the United States would remain after the formal departure of U.S. troops with a “shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations Forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives.” Their mission will be to “find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic state threats, current and former American officials said.” The Times further reported that the United States maintains a constellation of air bases in the Persian Gulf region as well as in Jordan, and a major air headquarters in Qatar, which could provide a launching pad for long-range bomber or armed drone missions into Afghanistan.

Matthew Hoh, a disabled combat veteran who resigned from the State Department in 2009 in protest of the war, stated that a genuine peace process in Afghanistan is “dependent upon foreign forces leaving Afghanistan.” Further, Hoh said that, “Regardless of whether the 3500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines.”

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Clickbait.

Journalists Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Embrace a New One (Greenwald)

The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed. “This is as bad as it gets,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then-candidate Joe Biden said Trump’s refusal to punish Russia and his casting doubt on the truth of the story was more proof that Trump’s “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin,” while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded that, in response, the U.S. put Russians and Afghans “in body bags.”

What was missing from this media orgy of indignation and militaristic demands for retaliation was an iota of questioning of whether the story was, in fact, true. All they had was an anonymous leak from “intelligence officials” — which The New York Times on Thursday admitted came from the CIA — but that was all they needed. That is because the vast majority of the corporate sector of the press lives under one overarching rule: When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible.

That has been the dynamic driving the relationship between the corporate press and the CIA for decades, throughout the Cold War and then into the post-9/11 War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. But it has become so much more extreme in the Trump era. As the CIA became one of the leading anti-Trump #Resistance factions — a key player in domestic politics to subvert the presidency of the 45th President regarded by media figures as a Hitler-type menace — the bond between the corporate press and the intelligence community deepened more than ever. It is not an exaggeration to call it a merger: so much so that a parade of former security state officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS and others was hired by these news outlets to deliver the news. The partnership was no longer clandestine but official, out in the open, and proud.

The first goal this story served was to weaponize it in the battle waged by pro-war House Democrats and their neocon GOP allies to stop Trump’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. How, they began demanding upon publication of the CIA/NYT story, can we possibly leave Afghanistan when the Russians are trying to kill our troops? Would that not be a reckless abdication to the Kremlin of this country that we own, and would withdrawal not be a reward to Putin after we learned he was engaged in such dastardly plotting to kill our sons and daughters?

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“Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill..”

Liz Cheney Was Top Peddler Of Debunked ‘Russian Bounties’ Story (ZH)

As Democrats seized on a now-debunked New York Times report that the Kremlin placed bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan – blaming President Trump for deliberately downplaying the aggression to appease ‘Lord Putin’ (as the story goes) – Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) punched right, peddling the fabricated bounties story to any and all who would listen, according to The Federalist. Fast forward ten months later, and the Daily Beast reports that a senior administration finally admitted: “The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier. “Low to moderate confidence” is another way of saying “unproven and potentially false, “in part because it relies on detainee reporting,” which is often unreliable.


Yet, Cheney pounced in an effort to undermine then-President Trump, while using the fake news to also lobby for a prolonged military presence in the region as the Trump administration was pulling troops out of Afghanistan. More via The Federalist: “Two days later, Politico, in an article titled, “Cheney takes on Trump,” wrote, “in her latest rebuke of Trump, Cheney openly questioned whether the president was aware of reports that the Russians offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops and demanded the administration take a more aggressive posture toward the Kremlin. Cheney was persistent in pushing the story, much to the frustration of colleagues and even allies on Capitol Hill as she continued an inner-party crusade against the president in an election year from her position as House conference chair.”

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The rest is behind a Substack paywall.

Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly (Taibbi)

If you’d told me back in 2005, when I first met Rachel Maddow, that the lightning-quick, ultra-smooth broadcaster would someday supplant Bill O’Reilly as the #1 name in cable news, I wouldn’t have been surprised, at all. But I’d have been shocked if you told me she got to the top by being Bill O’Reilly. With Maddow in the lead role, MSNBC has become Fox, but somehow more craven, jingoistic, and shameless. If you don’t believe it, compare their narratives side by side, and see if you can spot a real difference between Bush-era Fox and Maddow’s MNSBC broadcasts from this past week. On February 16, 2001, six months before 9/11, O’Reilly said on Fox, “You know, I don’t take Saddam Hussein all that seriously anymore, as far as a world threat.” He added, “Maybe I’m wrong and naive here. Should we be very frightened of this guy?”

Within two years, O’Reilly reversed course. He launched himself into an incredible 16-year run as the #1-rated star on cable by playing Madame DeFarge for the Bush/Cheney War on Terror. His show became a nighty fireside chat in which citizens tuned in to fulminate over stories of Saddam’s boundless evil, denounce traitorous unbelievers, and engage in McCarthyite interrogations of the insufficiently patriotic. He moved the factual record by himself. On December 6, 2002, he told his audience: “I can’t, in good conscience, tell the American people that I know for sure that [Saddam] has smallpox or anthrax or he’s got nuclear or chemical and that he is ready to use that.” But two months later, on February 17, 2002, he was saying, “According to the U.N., he’s got anthrax, VX gas, ricin, and on and on.”

Two weeks after that, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, O’Reilly was saying things like, “This guy we know has anthrax and VX and all this stuff.” He furthermore announced that “Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can’t do that, just shut up,” adding that “Americans, and indeed our allies, who actively work against our military once the war is underway will be considered enemies of the state by me.” By the runup to the invasion, O’Reilly was berating anyone who even tried to suggest the WMD case was not airtight, or had the temerity to suggest that Saddam Hussein was not the equal of Hitler. “Whoa, whoa. It’s not Hitler?” he snapped in one broadcast. “What’s the difference?”

Want to know how seven in ten Americans during the war came to believe that Saddam Hussein was somehow behind 9/11? In part, because people like O’Reilly regularly said things like, “Saddam Hussein… I believe is involved with this World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing,” and “I believe that you’re going to find out that money from Iraq flowed in and helped [9/11] happen.” O’Reilly eventually got around to putting his “spotlight” on anyone who didn’t publicly back the invasion effort. He even took on Pope John Paul II, saying, “And then the pope sits in Rome and says, gee, this is terrible, but does not throw his moral authority behind removing this dictator.”

Read more …

The media has more incentive.

US Corporate Media Is Guilty Of The Exact Same “Interference” As Russia (Tracey)

[..] there was nothing new about the suite of anti-Russia charges promulgated Thursday by the US federal government, and parroted as usual with maximum credulity across the US media ecosystem. The charges were again predicated on the idea that Russian “interference” and/or “influence” is an extremely foreboding test for the survival of US Democracy. Taking bold action, the Treasury Department levied sanctions against a bunch more Russians for their claimed nefarious behavior in carrying out this interference/influence — a fulfillment of Joe Biden’s oft-stated campaign pledge that under his watch, Russia would finally “pay a price” for allegedly engaging in such activities. Donald Trump, it was thought, had been appallingly lax in his resolve to confront this threat; now, a new sheriff is in town.

Leaving aside the question of whether it’s prudent to assume that Janet Yellen is suddenly in possession of a foolproof methodology for attributing the provenance of “cyber operations” to specific foreign individuals and nation-states, it’s worth emphasizing what exactly is being alleged in the statement. The Treasury Department document reads: “Outlets operated by Russian Intelligence Services focus on divisive issues in the United States, denigrate US political candidates, and disseminate false and misleading information.” Noting that these same characteristics could be just as easily applied to US corporate media outlets is so blindingly self-evident as to almost be redundant. Were there not “outlets” during the 2020 election that were “focused” on “denigrating” Donald Trump? Or for that matter, Joe Biden?

Do “divisive issues” not tend to be “focused on” by these same outlets as a basic precept of their core business model? Controversy = clicks/views, which equals revenue. Everyone knows this. Yet when scary Russian outlets are said to employ this same logic in their own content-production enterprises, it magically becomes dangerous enough to justify all manner of punitive government and corporate action. Including but not limited to: censorship purges, tighter regulation of online speech, and, as Biden announced Thursday, sanctions and expulsion of diplomats. “Disseminating false and misleading information”? The entire US media just got caught “disseminating” a fake story about Russians putting bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan. If you’re truly concerned about the dissemination of “false and misleading information” having deleterious effects on the health of US political culture, your first target should be CNN.

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“..the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia..”

Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase (Jim Kunstler)

The lesson there is that the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia, and that the mentally weak Joe Biden is merely projecting the picture of a weakened and confused USA by keeping it up. Of course, a closer read might be that these hijinks are meant to distract from the more serious and consequential breakdown in relations between the US and China, currently engineered by the blundering team of Sec’y of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who went to Alaska recently to tell the Chinese delegation that they were morally unworthy of conducting trade negotiations, thereby torpedoing the trade negotiations that they went to Alaska to conduct. Smooth move fellas.


Unlike Russia, with its eleven time zones, which actually does not want or need any more territory, China is surely making hegemonic moves all over the place, not just around Hong Kong and Taiwan but in Africa and South America, while it strives to build the world’s largest navy, exports gain-of-function viruses, replaces the US in space exploration, and excels at weaponizing computer science. China’s weaknesses are a lack of sufficient domestic oil supply and food, which its current moves aim to correct. It was on its way to turning the US into a raw materials and food-crop colony when Mr. Trump came along and tried to put a stop to that. And now Ol’ Joe has cancelled that action — after being on the receiving end of Chinese financial largesse in four years out-of-office. Nothing to see there, folks, says Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, while in possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop, with its trove of incriminating memoranda.

Read more …

Glenn Greenwald: In this interview with @thedailybeast, this statement from Hunter Biden about his emails and laptop is a complete lie. No intelligence agency, let alone all of them, concluded it was a Russian operation, but you wouldn’t know that from the DB article:

Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack (DB)

Jong-Fast asks Biden when he realized that the former president and his son were fixated on him. “That was right around when I started to get sober and clean… It was only then did I realize the level of their obsession because long enough to look up from whatever drink or drug I was just pursuing at the moment. And it seemed like that every word out of the president’s mouth was some kind of demeaning or just horrible insult towards me,” he answers. “Do you think they did it because they wanted you to kill yourself?” Jong-Fast replies. “As a person in recovery, one of the things that I have truly tried to come to grips with is that the world actually does not revolve around me,” Biden says. “I mean, usually it doesn’t. But on this, I feel that it does,” Jong-Fast says.

“I don’t think that they thought that they would necessarily convince anyone not to vote for my dad because I’m an addict. I think there’s far, far too many people—I mean, everyone I know knows someone that they love—that suffer from addiction,” Biden says. “I think that they thought that they would be able to distract my dad enough that he wouldn’t be able to focus on the campaign… But it had the exact opposite effect… They obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a part of a family, at least this family.” Jong-Fast also asks Biden about the leaked emails that caused such a stir at the end of the campaign. He claims he had no idea what she’s talking about. The email from an executive at Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, thanking Biden for “the opportunity to meet your father and spend some time with him”?

“I truly don’t know the origin of a lot of this stuff,” Biden replies. The email titled “expectations,” which involved details for how much he might get paid by China’s largest private energy company? “I literally don’t know what you’re even referring to. Is it from me?” Biden answers. “You know, I mean, there is a intelligence report from, from all of our intelligence agencies that has come to the conclusion that this was a Russian operation.”

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“This is a good time to be old. ”

Govt’s Won’t Let Bitcoin Take On State-issued Currencies – Jim Rogers (Kitco)

Money will become more and more digitized, according to Jim Rogers, investor, best-selling author, and co-founder of the Quantum Fund, but the question is whether or not non-government issued digital currencies will prevail. “If cryptocurrencies become successful, most governments will outlaw it, because they don’t want to lose their monopoly, every government in the world is working on computer money now, including the U.S. The Chinese are there already. I can’t imagine that the governments are going to say ok, this is our crypto money, or you can use their crypto money, that’s not the way governments work, historically,” Rogers told Michelle Makori, editor-in-chief of Kitco News.

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“Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.”

The Echoes Of China’s Financial Crisis Are Being Heard (SMH)

In the late 1990s China experienced a massive bad debt crisis – there are estimates that more than half of its state-owned enterprises( SOEs) were insolvent in the mid-1990s – with the non-performing loans within the balance sheets of China’s four major banks thought to be between a quarter and a third of their total assets. The government reacted to the emergence of that destabilising mountain of bad debts by recapitalising the state-owned banks; carving out their non-performing loans and handing them over to four new asset management companies to manage them out of the system over time. Huarong was one of those asset managers, established to acquire and then manage the bad loans made by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

The Huarong predicament and the context of the swelling tide of SOE-related defaults highlight not just dangerously and system-threatening excessive leverage and poor allocation of capital within the heart of China’s economy but significant, indeed egregious, governance failures. Now the company set up to manage bad debts is itself apparently teetering on the verge of bankruptcy due to its own non-performing loans and will either be restructured or fail. While it is not a bank it is a substantial financial institution, with about $340 billion of assets and net assets of about $32 billion. Embarrassingly for the Chinese authorities, although it listed In Hong Kong in 2015, it is a state-controlled enterprise. The Ministry of Finance owns a majority of its shares.

The company got itself into trouble, it seems, by expanding beyond its charter as a manager of banks’ bad debts into quasi banking activities itself; lending to property developers, setting up securities trading businesses and essentially playing in the shadows of the system that the tightly-regulated banks have been forbidden to enter.It was able to do so because its former chairman, Lai Xiaomin, was by his own admission subjected to absolutely no oversight and was able to treat Huarong as his own plaything. When he was arrested in 2018 he admitted taking more than $350 million of “bribes” over the previous decade and was found to have about $50 million of cash stashed in an apartment he called “The Supermarket.” Lai was charged, found guilty of corruption (and bigamy!) and was executed in January.

Read more …

 

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Mandarinfish

 

 

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Apr 152021
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Christ In The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee 1633
Stolen from Gardner Museum March 18 1990, the single largest property theft in the world. Never recovered

 

Idiocy: Experimental Vaccines And Spike Proteins (Denninger)
Continued Lockdowns A Ticking Time Bomb To Cause Global Health Crisis Soon (RT)
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Use Will Remain Paused In US Amid Evaluation (G.)
South Africa Covid Variant Found In Another Part Of London (Mirror)
How CO2 Sensors Might Help Us Return To ‘Normal’ (Verge)
Greece To Reopen To US Tourists Next Week – Under Conditions (F.)
US Intel Warns Of ‘Sustained Economic Downturn’, Other Long-Term Threats (ZH)
Democrats To Introduce Bill To Expand Supreme Court From 9 To 13 Justices (NBC)
US To Withdraw From Afghanistan Having Accomplished… Nothing (Ritter)
Putin’s Ukrainian Judo (Dmitry Orlov)
US Cancels Black Sea Deployment Of Two Warships: Turkey (Y!)
Biden To Unveil Russia Sanctions Over SolarWinds Hack, Election Meddling (G.)
Let’s Play The “Pay For” Game (Stephanie Kelton)
The Future Is Carbon Coin (Steve Keen)

 

 

 

 

Tucker Fauci
https://twitter.com/i/status/1382496036510384131

 

 

“..it is gross malpractice by any reasonable definition to refuse to give a patient any sort of treatment on an early basis for a given disease, deliberately doing nothing until the person is on death’s door.”

Idiocy: Experimental Vaccines And Spike Proteins (Denninger)

Do remember that when Covid-19 kills it almost-universally does so with a presentation of clotting in places where it should not occur, and that elevated d-Dimer is a very reliable indication that you’re going to get hammered. This was reported in the first few months of last year and I noted very early on that it was happening, it fully explained why ventilators were worthless since without gas exchange due to clotting you can ram however much oxygen into the lungs and it will do nothing or worse, cause physical damage and embolisms, and that getting to the bottom of that and stopping it when detected was key to management of severe cases that were at risk of becoming fatal. In addition preventing those events through early treatment modalities was obviously essential as once you get into that sort of dysregulation of your body’s systems you’re in trouble and the odds of dying are very high.

The evidence is, by the way, that the mRNA vaccines have a worse safety profile than the J&J shot does. Who remembers the healthy doc who got one of the mRNA shots and had the same thing happen to him? Go look up the death numbers associated with Covid19 vaccines yourself in VAERS. Do remember that VAERS, because it is a voluntary system and the hospitals are incentivized to code anything they can as “Covid-19” because they get paid a bonus for doing so provides great incentive to find some way not to call a vaccine death an actual vaccine death. Nonetheless there are a crap-ton of reports, roughly a hundred times as many as are found for flu shots that we give morbid and otherwise not-in-great-shape people every single year.

The last time I checked dead is dead and the entire point is not to be dead. Further, it is gross malpractice by any reasonable definition to refuse to give a patient any sort of treatment on an early basis for a given disease, deliberately doing nothing until the person is on death’s door. This is only gotten away with legally because in the early days Trump’s HHS secretary invoked an emergency law provision that immunizes hospitals and doctors from lawsuits for anything they do or don’t do in the treatment of Covid-19. Oh and our wonderful, life-affirming President now, Mr. PuddinHead, has not withdrawn that exemption. Why not? Well gee, we can’t cut off the $30,000 “bonus payments” to hospitals for people with Covid, right? I mean all those *******s heroes might get sued for refusing you Ivermectin and Budesonide when you get Covid if that was to be withdrawn and you died.

That would be great horrible and we must keep the death fear going so as to get you to take a jab that might kill you too, and for which they’re also immune if it does. After all there is only tens of billions of dollars each and every year at stake from this pack of lies since they’re already telling us this will be a ritual we shall be expected to partake in every six months or year forever into the future. It ought to be obvious that playing parlor tricks on your body’s cells to produce the “spike protein” — not introducing it directly into your body which is incidentally the actual definition of a vaccine, but tricking your cells to produce it instead (and which has now been magically redefined to count as a “vaccine”) is inherently dangerous.

You’d think that a decade or more of both animal and human trials, with very close follow-up on every single human so-exposed, with all of the data written up and presented to the world in public would be required to know if this sort of malarkey has unknown but severe danger associated with it. Among other risks doing this could result in cells in very unpleasant places (e.g. your heart, spleen, etc.) taking up said “instructions” and being damaged, leading to an immune response in a very bad place that could injure or kill you, or it might lead your body to target your own cells since by definition the cells that take up said “programming” and produce the protein are diseased. If either of those things happen then the very same thing that kills you when Covid goes badly might kill you as a result of the vaccine either immediately or somewhere down the road when challenged either by the original virus — or some other as yet not-identified stimulus.

Read more …

“..thanks to the hysteria over overcrowded ICUs, staggering numbers of patients are being denied life-saving treatments for up to one year.”

Continued Lockdowns A Ticking Time Bomb To Cause Global Health Crisis Soon (RT)

By continuing to push for lockdowns to ‘protect hospitals’, authorities worldwide are denying millions of cancer sufferers and other seriously ill people essential treatment. This will lead to many unnecessary deaths.
It is shocking that in 2021, surgeries for cancer and other critical ailments are being delayed. But thanks to the hysteria over overcrowded ICUs, staggering numbers of patients are being denied life-saving treatments for up to one year.
UK media recently reported a drop of around 350,000 urgent cancer referrals between March last year and January this year, compared to the same period in the previous 12 months. A researcher described the situation as a “ticking time bomb.”

There has also been a decrease in surgeries and chemotherapy and radiology treatments, “with 44,000 fewer patients diagnosed with cancer starting treatment.” This problem is not unique to Britain. Canadian provinces face similarly unacceptable numbers of delayed surgeries and treatments. As of April, Ontario has a backlog of 245,367 “medically necessary procedures.” A 60% drop in cancer surgeries was reported when the pandemic struck last March , leaving over 36,000 Ontario cancer patients in agonizing limbo. During stay-at-home orders in 2020, some patients chose to avoid hospitals, either out of worry about becoming ill or through fear of being forcibly estranged from family and loved ones.

But also, then and now, elective surgeries and treatments have been halted under the premise that ICUs are overwhelmed. Ontario recently went into a new lockdown, and with it we saw an increase in alarmist reports of ICUs being crowded. And so elective surgeries have been stopped again. It’s worth bearing in mind that these are not necessarily cosmetic or trivial procedures, but refer to surgeries scheduled in advance, including those to treat cancer. However, some Ontario doctors are now speaking out, providing anecdotal evidence that there are plenty of ICU doctors, and even that most are “underemployed.”

Read more …

The vaccine rollouts are a huge mess, as much as everyone tries to present them as successful. That’s what happens if you don’t properly test them first.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Use Will Remain Paused In US Amid Evaluation (G.)

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine will remain in limbo a while longer after US health advisers told the government Wednesday that they need more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot – and if so, how big the potential risk really is. The reports are exceedingly rare – six cases out of more than 7m US inoculations with the one-dose vaccine. But the government recommended a pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccinations this week, not long after European regulators declared that such clots are a rare but possible risk with the AstraZeneca vaccine, a shot made in a similar way but not yet approved for use in the US.

At an emergency meeting, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrestled with the fact that the US has enough vaccine alternatives to do without the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for a time, but other countries anxiously awaiting the one-and-done shot may not. One committee member, Dr Grace Lee, was among those who advocated tabling a vote. She echoed concerns about getting more data to better understand the size of the risk and whether it was greater for any particular group of people. “I continue to feel like we’re in a race against time and the variants, but we need to [move forward] in the safest possible way,” said Lee, of Stanford University.

The clots under investigation are highly unusual. They occurred in strange places, in veins that drain blood from the brain, and in people with abnormally low levels of clot-forming platelets. The six cases raised an alarm bell because that number is at least three times more than experts would have expected to see even of more typical brain-drainage clots, said CDC’s Dr Tom Shimabukuro. “What we have here is a picture of clots forming in large vessels where we have low platelets,” Shimabukuro explained. “This usually doesn’t happen,” but it’s similar to European reports with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The clot concerns could undermine public confidence in a vaccine many hoped would help some of the hardest-to-reach populations – in poor countries or in places like homeless shelters in the US. Health officials recommended the Johnson & Johnson timeout in part to make sure doctors know how to recognize and treat the unusual condition. The US set up intensive systems to track the safety of Covid-19 vaccines, knowing that side effects too rare to have occurred in studies of thousands of people could pop up once millions rolled up their sleeves. Shimabukuro said spotting such a rare potential risk amid the nation’s huge vaccine rollout “is an example of a success story for vaccine safety”.

Read more …

What’s the big fuss about? Is it just the goverment sowing panic?

South Africa Covid Variant Found In Another Part Of London (Mirror)

Huge queues have formed for newly set up coronavirus testing stations as a case of the South African variant was found in another borough. People living in an area of Barnet, north London, have been asked to take a test following the detection. They join those living in Wandsworth, Lambeth and a part of Southwark, where cases of the mutant strain have been found. A steady stream of people joined the lines at pop-up centres on Clapham Common and in Brockwell Park, near Brixton, in Lambeth, on Wednesday morning. Marshals said they had warned on Tuesday afternoon that waiting times could be up to two hours and were forced to stop people joining the queue early.


Some 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth, with a further 30 probable cases identified, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said. The BBC reported that the outbreak appears to have been triggered by an individual who travelled from Africa in February. According to documents seen by the broadcaster, the country involved was not on the red list for mandatory hotel quarantine at that time, but is now. Facilities offering asymptomatic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing have now been deployed at Wandsworth Town Hall, Tooting Leisure Centre and the University of Roehampton, as well as Lambeth Town Hall and Brockwell Park. People aged 11 and over who live, work or travel through those areas are being urged to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, on top of twice-weekly rapid testing.


The South Africa variant doesn’t appear to be causing a spike in deaths…in South Africa.

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Hepa filtration systems are the only ones that work vs Covid, from what I understand.

How CO2 Sensors Might Help Us Return To ‘Normal’ (Verge)

One of the things we’ve learned over the past year is to be wary of the air around us — especially indoors. If other people are around, exhaling, they’re filling the space with their breath. If one of those people has COVID-19, they could be filling the space with infectious breath. There’s a way to make indoor spaces safer, though: improving the ventilation to make sure the air doesn’t stay trapped. That way, any potentially infectious particles quickly gust away, instead of lingering for someone else to breathe in. Experts say one way to measure how well-ventilated certain spaces are is by checking how much carbon dioxide is in the air.


People exhale carbon dioxide, so the amount of it in a room gives you an idea of how much of the air is made up of other people’s breath. It’s not a perfect measure of danger — it won’t tell you if there is actually virus around — but it’s a pretty good proxy for how risky a room could be. It’s easy to check a room’s carbon dioxide levels: all you need is a small, portable monitor. To test this idea, the Verge Science team took one of those monitors all around Brooklyn, New York, to check out the ventilation at local grocery stores, bagel shops, and bars. Watch our latest video to see what we found.

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The entire country is closed. Lockdown tourism? You can’t even sit outside, let alone have drinks or dinner.

Greece To Reopen To US Tourists Next Week – Under Conditions (F.)

Greece will reportedly permit visitors from the United States to enter for the first time in more than a year starting next week, a month earlier than the previously announced date of May 14, when the country said it would reopen to international tourists who provide a negative coronavirus test or proof of vaccination. Greece is taking early “baby steps” toward a full reopening by allowing tourists from the U.S., the U.K., Serbia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union into the country starting Monday, tourism ministry officials told The Guardian and Reuters on Wednesday. If citizens of those countries can produce a negative PCR test less than three days old or proof of vaccination, they will be allowed in and permitted to skip the mandatory weeklong quarantine in place, officials said.

The tourists will reportedly be permitted to fly into Greece through airports in nine of the country’s most popular holiday destinations; Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, according to Reuters. However, travelers would still have to follow the country’s coronavirus restrictions while they’re in Greece—bars and restaurants remain closed for dining in and a nationwide curfew is still in place, though many of the country’s famous archeological sites, like Athens’ Acropolis, have reopened. Under current guidelines, U.S. citizens are barred from entering Greece at all, except in cases of “extreme emergencies,” according to the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C., while citizens of some countries are allowed in if they self-isolate for a week after arrival.

Tourism makes up a whopping 20% of the economy, making reviving the industry critical for the country. Greece has not permitted Americans to visit since March last year, when Greece went under a lockdown at the onset of the pandemic. While travelers from nearly 30 countries were allowed back in just three months later in July, the government excluded Americans based on the high rate of coronavirus infection in the U.S. The Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C., had no comment about the reported early opening.

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This is not a warning, this is an agenda.

US Intel Warns Of ‘Sustained Economic Downturn’, Other Long-Term Threats (ZH)

According to the Annual Threat Assessment – which comes on the heels of a separate intelligence report last week which offers a grim view of global challenges likely to be faced over the next 20 years – the pandemic is expected to contribute to “humanitarian and economic crises, political unrest, and geopolitical competition,” and will “strain governments and societies.” “The economic fallout from the pandemic is likely to create or worsen instability in at least a few—and perhaps many—countries, as people grow more desperate in the face of interlocking pressures that include sustained economic downturns, job losses, and disrupted supply chains,” the report warns. What’s more, food shortages and ‘uneven access’ to COVID treatments will contribute to humanitarian concerns, while the virus will remain a threat “to populations worldwide until vaccines and therapeutics are widely distributed.”

The report also warns that a new wave of infections earlier this year “may have an even greater economic impact as struggling businesses in hard-hit sectors such as tourism and restaurants fold and governments face increasing budget strains.” In addition to pandemic-related warnings, the report also predicts that Russia and China will continue to hatch covert influence operations (to blame populist victories on?) – and that Iran will continue to violate the 2015 nuclear agreement. According to the report, China “presents a growing influence threat” in the United States, and has been “intensifying efforts to shape the political environment in the United States to promote its policy preferences, mold public discourse, pressure political figures whom Beijing believes oppose its interests, and muffle criticism of China on such issues as religious freedom and the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong.”


The report also warns of domestic extremism – as the threat from foreign terrorist orgs such as ISIS and Al Qaeda has apparently abated. Instead, white supremacy is now the threat – which have led to “at least 26 lethal attacks that killed more than 141 people and for dozens of disrupted plots in the West since 2015.” For the sake of comparison, that’s fewer people killed in six years than the 170 homicides in Chicago, year-to-date, primarily committed by ‘black extremists’ against other ‘black extremists’ so to speak. “While these extremists often see themselves as part of a broader global movement, most attacks have been carried out by individuals or small, independent cells,” the report reads. “Australia, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom consider white racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, including Neo-Nazi groups, to be the fastest growing terrorist threat they face.”

Read more …

Politicizing your highest court is always a bad idea.

Democrats To Introduce Bill To Expand Supreme Court From 9 To 13 Justices (NBC)

Congressional Democrats will introduce legislation Thursday to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, joining progressive activists pushing to transform the court. The move intensifies a high-stakes ideological fight over the future of the court after President Donald Trump and Republicans appointed three conservative justices in four years, including one who was confirmed days before the 2020 election. The Democratic bill is led by Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. It is co-sponsored by Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mondaire Jones of New York.

The Supreme Court can be expanded by an act of Congress, but the legislation is highly unlikely to become law in the near future given Democrats’ slim majorities, which include scores of lawmakers who are not on board with the idea. President Joe Biden has said he is “not a fan” of packing the court. But it represents an undercurrent of progressive fury at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for denying a vote in 2016 to President Barack Obama’s pick to fill a vacancy, citing the approaching election, before confirming Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett the week before the election last year. The anger has taken hold within the Democratic Party, and the new push indicates that it has not dissipated in an era when the party controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

The lawmakers, who intend to announce the introduction of the bill outside the Supreme Court building, will be joined by progressive activists Aaron Belkin, who leads Take Back the Court; Chris Kang, a co-founder and chief counsel of Demand Justice; and Meagan Hatcher-Mays of Indivisible, according to an advisory notice. All three groups advocate adding justices. “This bill marks a new era where Democrats finally stop conceding the Supreme Court to Republicans,” said Brian Fallon, a former Senate Democratic leadership aide and a co-founder of Demand Justice, who described the court as “broken and in need of reform.”

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CIA.

US To Withdraw From Afghanistan Having Accomplished… Nothing (Ritter)

Biden mirrored the conclusion reached by his predecessor, Donald Trump, that left to their own devices, the US military would never depart from Afghanistan. Biden had made the rejection of the so-called “forever war” in Afghanistan an integral part of his national security strategy, but had been held hostage by conditions that had been put in place regarding the capabilities of the Afghan military and security forces to operate independently, assurances about women’s rights, assurances on the part of the Taliban regarding their relationship with Al-Qaeda, and a desire on the part of many officials – Biden included – that a residual force of US special operations forces based in Afghanistan was required for any lasting peace to be had.

In carrying out a “whole of government” analysis of US objectives in Afghanistan, it became apparent to Biden and his inner circle that by placing conditions on the withdrawal of US troops, the US would never leave Afghanistan. This decision flew in the face of the advice Biden was receiving from the military, which argued that any condition-free withdrawal would doom the Afghan government and military to a Vietnam-like collapse. Biden had also to overcome similar objections on the part of NATO and non-NATO allies of the US who had collectively deployed a 7,000-strong contingent to Afghanistan dedicated to the very training and advisory capacity the US military claimed was essential to the continued survival of the Afghan government.

[..] Biden’s decision was likewise aided by the recent appointment of William Burns, a veteran diplomat, to run the CIA. The CIA has built a virtual empire in Afghanistan, underpinned by a private army of contracted Afghan special forces who operate independently of the Afghan military, reporting instead to the CIA-controlled Afghan intelligence service. This private army represented the logical extension of the intimate and visceral involvement of the CIA in Afghanistan dating back to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Like the US military, the current CIA leadership was forged in the fires of the Afghan conflict.

Trump’s last CIA director, Gina Haspel, was the personification of this reality, having played a key role in the implementation of both the CIA torture program and the ongoing use of armed drones to kill so-called “high value targets” in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Haspel strongly opposed Trump’s withdrawal plan and worked with the Pentagon to prevent its full implementation. With Haspel gone, and Burns in as director, the CIA’s objections, like those of the US military, have been pushed aside in favor of the domestic political imperative recognized by Biden that whatever national security gains that might be accrued by remaining in Afghanistan could not offset the reality that the American public was tired of a war that never ended, and apparently could not be brought to a successful conclusion.

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“Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted.”

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo (Dmitry Orlov)

[..] what’s about to happen now is forecasted to be on a different scale: the Ukrainians are moving heavy armor and troops up to the line of separation while the Russians are moving theirs up to their side of the Ukrainian border, a position from which they can blast any and all Ukrainian troops straight out of the gene pool without so much as setting foot on Ukrainian territory—should they wish to do so. The Russians can justify their military involvement by the need to defend their own citizens: over the past seven years half a million residents in eastern Ukraine have applied for and been granted Russian citizenship. But how exactly can Russia defend its citizens while they are stuck in the crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces?

The rationale of defending its citizens led to conflict in the briefly Georgian region of South Ossetia, which started on August 8, 2008 and lasted barely a week, leaving Georgia effectively demilitarized. Russia rolled in, Georgia’s troops ran off, Russia confiscated some of the more dangerous war toys and rolled out. Georgia’s paper warriors and their NATO consultants and Israeli trainers were left wiping each others’ tears. Any suggestion of arming and equipping the Georgians since then has been met with groaning and eye-rolling. Is the upcoming event in eastern Ukraine going to be similar to the swift and relatively painless defanging of Georgia in 2008? Given that the two situations are quite different, it seems foolish to think that the approach to resolving them would be the same.

Is it different this time and is World War III is about to erupt with eastern Ukraine being used as a trigger for this conflagration? Do the various statements made at various times by Vladimir Putin provide a solid enough basis for us to guess at what will happen next? Is there a third, typically, infuriatingly Russian approach to resolving this situation, where Russia wins, nobody dies and everyone in the West is left scratching their heads? The Ukrainian military is much like everything else currently found in the Ukraine—the railway system, the power plants, the pipeline systems, the ports, the factories (the few that are left)—a patched-up hold-over from Soviet times. The troops are mostly unhappy, demoralized conscripts and reservists. Virtually all of the more capable young men have either left the country to work abroad or have bribed their way out of being drafted.

The conscripts sit around getting drunk, doing drugs and periodically taking pot shots into and across the line of separation between Ukrainian-held and separatist-held territories. Most of the casualties they suffer are from drug and alcohol overdoses, weapons accidents, traffic accidents caused by driving drunk and self-harm from faulty weapons. The Ukrainian military is also working on winning a Darwin award for the most casualties caused by stepping on their own land mines. As for the other side, many of the casualties are civilians wounded and killed by constant shelling from the Ukrainian side of the front, which runs quite close to population centers.

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“..a 2014 revolution..”?

US Cancels Black Sea Deployment Of Two Warships: Turkey (Y!)

The United States has cancelled this week’s planned deployment of two warships to the Black Sea, Turkish officials and media said Wednesday, amid high tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Turkish diplomatic sources said the passage of the first ship through the Bosphorus due on Wednesday did not take place. Anadolu state news agency said both deployments, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, have been cancelled with Ankara not yet informed of any possible rescheduling. Last week Turkey announced that it had been informed through diplomatic channels that two US warships “will pass toward the Black Sea” and remain in the region until May 4.


There was no confirmation from Washington either of the planned deployments or of their cancellation. Washington is required to give Ankara at least 15 days notice before sending warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention. The treaty’s terms allow foreign warships to stay in the Black Sea for 21 days. US Navy ships routinely operate in the region in support of Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian-backed forces in its east since a 2014 revolution ousted the pro-Moscow leader in Kiev.

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Don’t eve ask for evidence. It’s secret.

Biden To Unveil Russia Sanctions Over SolarWinds Hack, Election Meddling (G.)

The United States will announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday for alleged election interference and malicious cyber activity, people familiar the matter said. The sanctions, in which 30 entities are expected to be blacklisted, will be tied with orders expelling about 10 Russian officials from the US, one of the people said. The US is also expected to announce aggressive new measures targeting the country’s sovereign debt through restrictions on US financial institutions’ ability to trade such debt, according to another source. The wide-ranging sanctions would come partly in response to a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp that the US government has said was likely orchestrated by Russia. The breach gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used the company’s products.

[..] The action will add a new chill to the already frosty relations between Washington and Moscow, which has tested the west’s patience with a military build-up near Ukraine. Relations slumped to a new post-cold war low last month when Biden said he thought Russian president Vladimir Putin was a “killer”. Biden has also vowed to take action on reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan. The US also intends to punish Moscow for alleged interference in the 2020 US presidential election. In a report last month, US intelligence agencies said Putin likely directed efforts to try to swing the election to then-president Donald Trump and away from Biden. Microsoft president Brad Smith described the SolarWinds attack, which was identified in December, as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”

In a call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin the US would act “firmly” to defend its interests in response to those actions, according to US officials’ accounts of the call. Biden also proposed a meeting with Putin “in a third country” that could allow the leaders to find areas to work together. In the past few weeks, Washington and its Nato allies have been alarmed by a large build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Anticipating the new sanctions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week: “The hostility and unpredictability of America’s actions force us in general to be prepared for the worst scenarios.”

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Thread.

Let’s Play The “Pay For” Game (Stephanie Kelton)

Let’s play the “pay for” game. Suppose you want to spend $3-$10 trillion on a Build Back Better agenda. You’ve decided that you’re going to play the “pay for” game, which means you will show where every dollar you plan to spend is going to “come from.” 1/ The whole point is to appear “fiscally responsible,” showing that you can carry out your spending without adding to the deficit. In other words, for every dollar you want to spend INTO the economy, you have a plan to rip a dollar OUT of someone’s hands. 2/ The Biden administration has put forward their plan, which mostly relies on raising taxes on corporations. The president says it will raise more revenue (over 15 yrs) than he is proposing to spend (over 8 yrs). Don’t ask me why.

3/ Along with some other changes, the Biden plan would take the corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%. Already, a number of Dems are balking at 28% and chattering about going to 25% instead. And, of course, CEOs are fighting back. 4/ If Dems don’t have the votes to go to 28%, then what? Scale down the package? Fight over other ways to raise taxes? The opposition loves it, because they know that the odds of passing anything bold drop precipitously when Dems hold themselves hostage to the “pay for” game. 5/ Is there a way out? Setting aside the MMT solution, which is to stop playing the conventional “pay for” game altogether, why not simply take the IRS Commissioner at his word? Why not make the case that you can spend up to $10 trillion without raising a single tax?

6/ If all you need is stepped up enforcement of EXISTING TAX LAWS, then you can play the “pay for” game even if you can’t get the votes for a slew of tax increases. Maybe I’m wrong and the votes are there. Give it a shot! 7/ Both strategies get you the revenue you think you need, and both reduce inequality. So I guess I’m curious to know whether the administration is digging its heels in on the need to RAISE TAXES or whether they would accept HIGHER REVENUE to play the game. 8/ As I’ve been saying for months, there’s yet another way to play the “pay for” game. Just make the case that the money you spend ‘today’ will come back to you ‘tomorrow.’ Fiscal multiplier and all that. 9/ Alternatively, we could all grow up and stop this nonsense. Admit that taxes don’t “pay for” anything and that all government spending is paid for in one way and one way only—the Federal Reserve credits the appropriate bank accounts. 10/end

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“We need a mechanism which would be popular with the poor—so much so that they would campaign in favour of it, rather than against it. We need a mechanism that hits the big consumers of carbon—the rich—rather than the poor. In short, we need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. ”

The Future Is Carbon Coin (Steve Keen)

Economists tell us that environmental problems are caused by the “tragedy of the commons”: because no-one owns the environment, no-one pays when they dump carbon dioxide into it. Their solution is carbon-pricing: put a price on things that generate carbon-dioxide—such as petrol consumption, or coal-fired power stations—and the market will do the rest. Demand for carbon-dioxide-generating products will fall, while the market will invent low-carbon products—such as electric cars, or solar power stations—to replace the high-carbon products that are causing Global Warming. Hey presto, problem solved. However, while the economics sounds OK, the politics are not: attempts to price carbon, or tax products with high carbon content, have led to social revolts.

The most colourful, literally, was the Gilet Jaunes movement in France, which started when French President Macron increased the tax rate on petrol. Working-class demonstrators donned the yellow safety vests that all vehicles in France are required to carry, and made the point that this tax was hard on the poor, but easy on the rich. They demonstrated as only the French can do, and Macron scrapped the tax. We need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. A “Universal Carbon Credit” (UCC) could be that mechanism. This is the problem with only using prices to attempt to reduce our carbon consumption: while the rich consume far more carbon per head than the poor, increasing the price of carbon affects the poor far more than the rich.

When you’re already barely able to meet your monthly expenses, a higher price for petrol for your car means you can’t afford to drive to work. But when you’re a billionaire, a higher price for avgas won’t make you leave your private jet parked on the tarmac. We need a mechanism which would be popular with the poor—so much so that they would campaign in favour of it, rather than against it. We need a mechanism that hits the big consumers of carbon—the rich—rather than the poor. In short, we need a mechanism that puts the politics first, and lets the economics follow. A “Universal Carbon Credit” (UCC) could be that mechanism. Every adult in a country would receive a UCC, measured in tons of carbon dioxide per year, for the carbon dioxide in their purchases of goods and services.

This allowance would be set, initially, at the level of the average carbon consumption in a country. Given how unequal the distribution of income has become, this average would in fact be well above the amount of carbon consumed by the vast majority of the population—90% or more of the population would not consume that much carbon per year. All goods and services would have their carbon content included, so that as well as running down your wallet when you went shopping, you would run down your UCC. For 90-95% of the population, this would not be a problem: they’d end up with unused UCCs. But the top 5-10% would exhaust their ration, and have to buy unused UCCs from the poor. The richer they were, the more they would have to buy.

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 July 13, 2018  Posted by at 9:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh View of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer 1888

 

Stock Markets See the US Winning the Trade War, Defying Propaganda (WS)
A Decade On, Pre-Crisis Mortgages Linger For Big Banks, Homeowners (R.)
Fed’s Escape From Crisis Holdings Could Hit Dead End (R.)
Social Security, Medicare To Add Another $50 Trillion to Our National Debt (JM)
China’s Record Trade Surplus With US Further Inflames Trade Tensions (R.)
Approval Of Brexit Negotiations Lowest On Record (Orb)
No Brand Of Brexit Can Command A Commons Majority (G.)
Donald Trump Is Right. NATO Is A Costly White Elephant (G.)
Trump Ready To Help Some NATO States Buy US Arms (R.)
Who Wants To Disrupt Strategic Balance In The Black Sea Region? (SCF)
Germany Puts Last Bailout Tranche to Greece on Hold (GR)
Europe’s Remarkable Ability To Remain In Denial (Varoufakis)
US Judge Asked To Create Mental Health Fund For Migrant Children (R.)
Facebook Users Marked With “Treason” Label (ZH)

 

 

“Now they had a fig leaf – the threat of future tariffs – behind which to hide their long-planned offshoring strategies.”

Stock Markets See the US Winning the Trade War, Defying Propaganda (WS)

The trade war talk has been going on since the presidential campaign but markets just brushed it off and rallied. In 2018, the trade war verbiage moved to the foreground. But until June 14, the administration vacillated between thinking about tariffs and putting the trade war “on hold,” depending on who was doing the talking or tweeting. This vacillation ended on June 14 (Thursday) evening, when it was reported that Trump had approved to hit an initial list of $50 billion in goods (1,300 products) from China with tariffs of 25%. At the time, the administration was also preparing a second list of products, accounting for another $100 billion in imports from China.

On the evening of June 19 (Monday), Trump threatened to hit another $200 billion of imports from China with tariffs of 10%. And on Tuesday, the Shanghai stock market plunged. Markets were taking it seriously. Since then, Corporate America’s propaganda machine – the same that for the past two decades had extolled the unrivalled virtues of offshoring production to cheap countries – fired up the mainstream media, which launched into incessant, deafening, repetitive, and manipulative coverage of how these tariffs would hurt US jobs more than anything.

Two glorious examples are Harley-Davidson and GM, which had been laying off workers and shutting plants in the US for years as they were offshoring production to cheap countries. For example, in July 2017, Harley-Davidson announced layoffs in the US as it was building a factory in Thailand. GM has been laying off workers in the US since 2016, even as it opted to produce more models in Mexico. Now they had a fig leaf – the threat of future tariffs – behind which to hide their long-planned offshoring strategies.

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TBTF banks have no incentive to come clean.

A Decade On, Pre-Crisis Mortgages Linger For Big Banks, Homeowners (R.)

A decade on big U.S. banks are still running down and selling off crisis-era mortgages, a process executives point to as weighing on loan growth. Eager to see a turning point in loan books, analysts count these portfolios as one factor, along with home equity loan runoff and new mortgage demand, to watch for when deciphering the true loan growth picture as U.S. second-quarter bank earnings start on Friday. Wells Fargo and Bank of America executives have flagged portfolios from prior to the 2008-2009 crisis era where banks are no longer originating similar new products when they are asked to predict a turning point in consumer loans. “These are portfolios of a bygone era that were very, very painful for the banks,” said Gerard Cassidy at RBC Capital Markets.

“They are not plain vanilla portfolios, which means they are more costly to manage. It may just not be worth the headache.” Analysts have said higher loan growth is critical to driving bank’s stock prices, but they anticipate only a modest acceleration year over year, driven primarily by commercial and industrial loans, not residential. “Remember that there’s a portion of that book that, again, is pre-crisis,” Chief Executive Tim Sloan said about Wells Fargo’s mortgage book at a May conference. He added the bank continues to examine the older portfolio’s risk-return tradeoff and sells assets when the opportunity arises, factors “that could have some impact” on growth.

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Backpedalling.

Fed’s Escape From Crisis Holdings Could Hit Dead End (R.)

Not long ago the Federal Reserve expected to quietly shed nearly half of its $4.5-trillion portfolio by around 2022, leaving little trace of the extraordinary steps it took to face down the financial crisis. But an unexpected market kink could force the Fed to scrap the plan two or three years early and permanently leave it holding $1 trillion more than it wanted. The U.S. central bank is making adjustments on the fly and keeping its options open. “I don’t think that’s problematic in any way” to halt the process “somewhat earlier,” William Dudley, the former New York Fed president and key architect of the portfolio strategy, told reporters last month.

Yet if the world’s largest holder of U.S. bonds tossed out its play book and effectively took on a more accommodative stance, the result could be an across-the-board easing of market borrowing costs, the foreign-exchange value of the dollar, and of the growing strains on emerging markets. “The evidence that we have suggests that the ultimate size of the balance sheet will be bigger than what people expected,” said Matthew Luzzetti, senior economist at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York. All of this amounts to the final chapter in the Fed’s unprecedented decision over the last decade to buy some $3.5 trillion in mortgage and Treasury bonds in an effort to boost riskier investments, hiring and economic recovery from recession. In a nod to a stronger U.S. economy, the Fed since 2015 has raised interest rates well above zero and, since October of last year, begun shrinking its balance sheet to a more normal but yet-unspecified size.

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“As of this year, both programs are in negative cash flow, meaning Congress must provide additional cash to pay the promised benefits.”

Social Security, Medicare To Add Another $50 Trillion to Our National Debt (JM)

The official, on-the-books federal debt is currently about $21.2 trillion, according to the US National Debt Clock. $21.2T is the face amount of all outstanding Treasury paper, including so-called “internal” debt. This is about 105% of GDP and it’s only the federal government. If you add in state and local debt, that adds another $3.1 trillion to bring total government debt in the US to $24.3 trillion or more than 120% of GDP. Then there’s corporate debt, home mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and more. Add it all together and total debt is about 330% of GDP, according to the IIF data I cited in Debt Clock Ticking. We are in hock up to our ears. In calculating debt, however, we don’t factor in Social Security and Medicare. These aren’t yet debt because they have dedicated revenue streams: payroll taxes.

Most Medicare recipients also pay premiums. To date, these revenue sources have covered current expenditures and more, allowing the programs to build up reserves. But that’s about to change. As of this year, both programs are in negative cash flow, meaning Congress must provide additional cash to pay the promised benefits. It will get worse, too. The so-called “trust funds” are going to run dry sooner or later, and it may be sooner. This month’s annual trustee report estimated Social Security will run out of reserves in 2034, and the hospitalization part of Medicare will go dry in 2026. Just for the record, those “trust funds” don’t exist except as an accounting fiction. It is like you saving $100,000 for your child’s education and then borrowing all the money from your child’s education fund.

You can pretend that you have set aside $100,000 for your child’s future education, but when it comes time to make those payments, you’ll have to pull it out of current income or liquidate other assets. The US government has borrowed (or used or whatever euphemism you want to apply) all the money in those trust funds. So, talking about running out of reserves in 2034 or 2026 is rather meaningless. We’ve already run out of reserves. Any time a politician talks about putting a “lock box” around Social Security or Medicare trust funds, he or she is either staggeringly ignorant or lying.

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Stockpiling ahead of the crash?!

China’s Record Trade Surplus With US Further Inflames Trade Tensions (R.)

China’s trade surplus with the United States swelled to a record in June as its overall exports remained solid, a result that could further inflame a bitter trade dispute with Washington. The data came after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump raised the stakes in its trade row with China on Tuesday, saying it would slap 10 percent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including numerous consumer items. China’s trade surplus with the United States, which is at the center of the tariff tussle, widened to a record monthly high of $28.97 billion, up from $24.58 billion in May, according to Reuters calculations based on official data going back to 2008.

Trump, who has demanded Beijing cut the trade surplus, could use the latest result to further ratchet up pressure on China after both sides last week imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods. Washington has warned it may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods – nearly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year. The dispute has jolted global financial markets, raising worries a full-scale trade war could derail the world economy. Chinese stocks fell into bear market territory and the yuan currency has skidded, though there have been signs in recent days its central bank is moving to slow the currency’s declines.

[..] China’s exports to the United States rose 13.6 percent in the first half of 2018 from a year earlier, while its imports from the U.S. rose 11.8 percent in the same period. Separate data showed Chinese shipments to U.S. ports rose more than expected in June, suggesting some retailers moved up orders to insulate themselves from the intensifying trade war that threatens to send up costs on a growing number of consumer products. For January-June China’s trade surplus with the United States rose to $133.76 billion, compared with about $117.51 billion in the same period last year.

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May will have to find something else.

Approval Of Brexit Negotiations Lowest On Record (Orb)

Approval of the Brexit negotiations has seen a significant fall in July – now the lowest on record. Last month 36% approved of the negotiations and it is now 29%. In June, 32% agreed that Theresa May would get the right deal for Britain in the Brexit negotiations – this has now fallen to 26% – the lowest again on record. These 2,027 interviews were carried out before the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

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Perhaps the biggest one of a million problems.

No Brand Of Brexit Can Command A Commons Majority (G.)

Theresa May’s new cabinet has now rallied behind her Chequers plan, set out fully in the government’s white paper on future UK-EU relations. However, far from settling the Brexit debate, recent events have given rise to another nightmare scenario that is only just beginning to take shape: that every conceivable Brexit outcome may now not command a parliamentary majority. The conventional wisdom in Westminster is that since the general election last year, there is no House of Commons majority for a hard Brexit. With a working majority of only 13, including the Democratic Unionists, it would take just seven Tory MPs to oppose it. But there are at least 20-30 pro-European Tories minded to do so.

Yet May’s softer Brexit blueprint has also significantly increased the prospect of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs voting against her EU deal when it is put to parliament later this year. In the febrile atmosphere at Westminster this week, there have been rumours that up to 70 Tories could oppose it – especially if, as seems likely, May makes further concessions in order to win the EU’s backing for a bespoke deal, instead of having to choose between a Canada or Norway-style agreement. Hints in the white paper about a preferential system for EU migrants, despite May’s rhetoric about ending free movement of labour, will fuel the Tory revolt.

May’s embrace for a softer Brexit has therefore changed the Commons arithmetic – and the political calculations that come with it. It is now Labour MPs, rather than Tory ones, who may prove critical. In recognition of this, May has been reaching out to Labour MPs in the hope that soft Brexit supporters vote for her deal, neutralising the impact of the Eurosceptics voting against it. In an unusual move, David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister and May’s de facto deputy, briefed Labour (as well as Liberal Democrat and SNP) MPs on the Chequers plan. But Labour won’t want to save May. Their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will almost certainly whip Labour MPs to oppose May’s deal, in the hope that the ensuing chaos will result in an election.

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What I said a few days ago.

Donald Trump Is Right. NATO Is A Costly White Elephant (G.)

Nato was founded in 1949 in response to Stalin’s blockade of Berlin. It was meant to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”. Since then, it has welcomed the American nuclear shield, at vast cost to America. Otherwise, its only military achievements have been the breakup of Yugoslavia and the loss of a squalid 17-year war in Afghanistan. Neither has anything to do with the North Atlantic. Nothing better symbolised this than Theresa May’s bizarre gift to Trump this week of 450 British troops for Kabul. Nato was about deterring an attack on Europe from Russia. In 1945, the west agreed the Potsdam settlement, accepting the Soviets’ “sphere of influence” over eastern Europe.

Thus when Russia invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, there was no question of Nato, or Europe, retaliating. The iron curtain was iron. Come 1989 and the collapse of Potsdam Europe, Nato did not approach a broken Russia to agree some new settlement. It did the opposite. To protests from Russia’s weakened leader, Boris Yeltsin, it gathered former Warsaw Pact states under its wing and advanced its border east towards Russia. It embraced Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, then the Baltic states, Romania and Bulgaria. It was like Khrushchev stationing missiles in Cuba. Only Germany counselled caution.

Nato’s provocation was so blatant as to be an open invitation to any new populist leader in Moscow to exploit Russia’s bruised patriotism: hence Vladimir Putin. He and his kleptocratic cronies are virtually a Nato creation. But the fact that America was party to the provocation does not invalidate Trump’s question. What is Nato’s policy beyond needling Russia and feebly relying on the American shield?

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But in the end, it’s all about money. That’s why NATO still exists. Nothing to do with security.

Trump Ready To Help Some NATO States Buy US Arms (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was ready to help smaller NATO countries to buy U.S. weapons as he pushed them to spend more on their own defense. Speaking after a NATO summit, at which he said nations had agreed on new spending pledges, Trump said some less wealthy members had asked during meetings in Brussels if he could help them buy U.S. arms equipment, but did not name the countries. Asked about pressures on countries with weaker finances, he said, “We have many wealthy countries with us today but we have some that aren’t so wealthy and they did ask me if they could buy the military equipment, and could I help them out, and we will help them out a little bit,” he told a news conference.

“We are not going to finance it for them but we will make sure that they are able to get payments and various other things so they can buy – because the United States makes by far the best military equipment in the world: the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns, the best everything.” Trump claimed a personal victory at the summit after telling European allies to increase spending or lose Washington’s support. The White House has been pushing a “Buy American” initiative which aims to help drum up billions of dollars more in arms business. The initiative has raised concerns in Europe, where some see increased weapons sales as a key goal of Trump’s repeated calls for NATO members to increase their military spending.

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Americans have no business there. Go home.

Who Wants To Disrupt Strategic Balance In The Black Sea Region? (SCF)

The US-led series of drills in and around Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline is part of NATO exercise Sea Breeze that kicked off on July 9 to last until July 21. The training event involves an international armada representing 19 countries, including such non-NATO states as Ukraine, India, Georgia, the United Arab Emirates and Moldova. All in all, 29 warships, 1 submarine, and 25 aircraft are involved in the exercise held in Odessa and Mykolayiv and the northwestern Black Sea region. The Black Sea regional security is actually an issue paid little attention to. It’s not addressed by an international forum. NATO official documents adopt an openly provocative language to challenge Russia.

The North Atlantic Alliance always emphasizes the Black Sea’s role as a critical intersection. The US-led NATO activities have been intensifying since 2014 to turn the region into another hotbed along with the South China Sea and the Baltic. Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania, three of the six Black Sea countries, are NATO members. Ukraine and Georgia are the bloc’s close partners aspiring for membership. The alliance has a significant military presence in Romania, including a US Aegis Ashore BMD system capable of firing long-range cruise missiles at Russia.

American military presence in Romania and Bulgaria is gradually growing. The US plans to deploy up to 2,500 troops at Novo Selo, Bulgaria. The facility is large enough to accommodate as many as 5,000 servicemen. Heavy tanks deployment is envisaged. The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, where NATO pledged not to deploy “substantial forces” near Russia, seems to be forgotten. The US Navy’s policy is aimed at ramping up its presence there. The presence of American warships perilously close to Russia’s borders is undoubtedly provocative. For comparison, the Russian Navy does not stage regular maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea with such allies as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela though nothing prevents it from doing so.

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First, Berlin forces Greece to keep the islands loaded with refugees. Then it forces them to load more taxes on the already destroyed economies there.

Germany Puts Last Bailout Tranche to Greece on Hold (GR)

Germany blocked a final 15 billion-euro ($17.5 billion) bailout payment to Greece after the government in Athens postponed a value-added tax (VAT) hike on a handful of islands that have been hit hard by the influx of migrants. For the tranche to be unblocked by early August, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos pledged at yesterday’s Eurogroup that the measure to retain the 30 percent VAT discount on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos will end in January 2019, and that the loss of 28 million euros of revenues will be offset from other sources.

The SYRIZA-led government postponed the VAT hike in the islands without consulting Greece’s creditors. Germany was eager to send a message to Athens that it will not tolerate any deviation from the program in the future. Commentators say that the Eurogroup decision shows how difficult it will be for the southern country to regain financial sovereignty even as it exits an eight-year bailout regime in August.

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Given how Greece gets treated, denial doesn’t sound like the correct term.

Europe’s Remarkable Ability To Remain In Denial (Varoufakis)

Europe’s establishment is luxuriating in two recent announcements that would have been momentous even if they were only partly accurate: the end of Greece’s debt crisis, and a Franco-German accord to redesign the eurozone. Unfortunately, both reports offer fresh proof of the European Union (EU) establishment’s remarkable talent for never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The two announcements did not come in the same week by accident. The Greek debt implosion, back in 2010, was the ugly symptom of the eurozone’s design flaws, which is why it triggered a domino effect across the continent. Greece’s continuing insolvency reflects the deep disagreements within the Franco-German axis concerning eurozone redesign.

While three French presidents and the same German chancellor were failing to agree on the institutional changes that would render the eurozone sustainable, Greece was asked to bleed quietly. In 2015, the Greeks staged a rebellion, which Europe’s establishment ruthlessly crushed. Neither Brexit nor the EU’s steady delegitimation in the eyes of European voters managed to convince the establishment to change its ways. French President Emmanuel Macron’s election seemed the last hope for the new Berlin-Paris accord needed to prevent a suffocating Italy from triggering the next—this time lethal—domino effect.

Under Macron, new, hopeful ideas were proposed: a common budget for the eurozone; a new safe debt instrument and quasi-federal tax-raising capacities; a common unemployment insurance fund; common bank deposit insurance and a common pot from which to recapitalize failing banks. Moreover, a new investment fund would mobilize idle savings across Europe, without adding to the fiscal stress of member states. A year later, with Italy on a collision course with the EU, the Meseberg Summit between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron delivered an agreement on eurozone reform. A few days later, the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers delivered its own “solution” to the Greek debt crisis.

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Sensible.

US Judge Asked To Create Mental Health Fund For Migrant Children (R.)

A civil rights group asked a federal judge on Thursday to order the U.S. government to provide mental health counseling for the around 2,000 immigrant children separated from their parents by officials at the U.S.-Mexican border. The request by the American Civil Liberties Union follows a chaotic week for U.S. immigration officials, who failed to meet a court-ordered deadline on Tuesday for reuniting children under the age of five. The government “must establish a fund to pay for professional mental health counseling, which will be used to treat children who are suffering from severe trauma as a result of their forcible separation from their parents,” said the ACLU in court papers filed late Thursday.

The group said the cost of the fund could be determined at a future date. The rights group brought the lawsuit that prompted U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego last month to order the government to reunite families separated at the border. The family separation policy was instituted as part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to curtail illegal immigration. The administration ended the practice last month after widespread protests. The government, in the same court filing on Thursday, acknowledged that it had missed a Tuesday deadline for reuniting the youngest children with their parents, but said it had now complied with the judge’s order.

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How does anyone make this, too, about Russia? It’s your own people who use this for spying on you. Targeting ‘Russians’ is just a way to divert your attention from that.

Facebook Users Marked With “Treason” Label (ZH)

Beleaguered social media giant Facebook has removed “treason” from their database of the keywords assigned to users for advertising purposes, the company stated Wednesday after Danish state broadcaster DR reported its existence. Company spokesman Joe Osborne replied “National treason was an advertising interest because of its historical significance, but as it is an illegal act, we have removed it.” Facebook tags its more than 2 billion users with a wide variety of keywords depending on their interests – from shopping habits to political and religious views in order to sell more efficiently targeted advertising.

This makes Facebook a sublime sales channel for companies. Categorizing users in areas of interest means that companies with ads on Facebook can buy into an almost perfect audience. Eg. garden equipment for people with special interest in gardens, etc. But categorization also allows intelligence services in all countries to look at the population over the shoulder. DR suggests that the a government such as Russia could have used the “treason” tag to locate around 65,000 Facebook users who had been marked with the keyword. The article notes that they do not know “if the Russian authorities have used Facebook’s “treason” keyword” for nefarious purposes – adding “Only the Russian authorities know that.”

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