May 252022
 


Vincent van Gogh Pietà (after Delacroix) 1889

 

America’s Ukraine Policy Is On A Collision Course With Reality (Moloney)
The Secret American Plan to Make Russia Great Again (Orlov)
Ukraine Official Blasts Kissinger Over Comment on Ceding Territory (Celente)
NATO vs Russia: What Happens Next (Escobar)
No Way Out but War (Chris Hedges)
Finland, Sweden Send Teams To Turkey After Erdogan’s ‘Don’t Even Bother’ (ZH)
Comey’s FBI Lied To Its Own Agents In Russia Hoax Cover-Up (Jarrett)
‘Fired Up’ FBI Leadership Pushed Trump Probe Despite Flimsy Evidence (JTN)
Individual Carbon Footprint Tracker (CTH)
Bill Gates Poured Millions into Dark Money Fund Attacking Elon Musk (BB)
One Billion People At Risk Of Power Blackouts As Global Grids Stretched
Biden Underwater On Almost All Issues Except Handling Of Covid (Hill)
Bayer Deploys Big Ag Buddies to Push Biden on Roundup Cancer Lawsuit (CHD)

 

 

 

 

Ricky Gervais is an absolute treasure
https://twitter.com/i/status/1529025826712391681

 

 

“..the holes in the upbeat Ukraine narrative have reached a point where the mainstream media no longer can credibly deny them..”

America’s Ukraine Policy Is On A Collision Course With Reality (Moloney)

If we accept the mainstream media narrative about Russia’s war in Ukraine, we are witnessing the emergence of the Biden administration’s greatest triumph to date. Under this roseate scenario, the Ukrainians are doing wonderfully well in their fight against Russia; the Russian troops are failing badly almost everywhere; NATO is enjoying a renaissance of unity not seen since the Cold War; and President Biden is being lauded globally for bold leadership and for proving once again that the United States is the world’s indispensable nation. Perhaps best of all is the narrative that Biden is delivering his long-promised bipartisan unity among Americans, as large numbers of Republicans sign onto his requests for more money and more weapons for Ukraine.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are among the luminaries who paraded to Kyiv for coveted photo-ops with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In stark contrast to these upbeat perspectives about the war, however, a far less pleasant reality is forcing its way to the forefront of American consciousness: The U.S. economy is reeling through a historic crisis in the direction of an almost certain recession, with inflation far outpacing wage gains; income inequality soaring, as elites continue to prosper and the working class is crushed by the cost of living; frightening levels of violent crime plague large cities; and unprecedented numbers of illegal migrants are surging across America’s southern border.

In light of these less palatable realities, it cannot be surprising Biden’s approval rating and that of his Democratic Party are plummeting to new depths — including among bedrock elements of the Democratic coalition such as Hispanics, Black voters and, perhaps, educated suburban women. Traditional liberals such as Democratic strategist James Carville clearly see the looming electoral disaster of this fall’s midterms, but it’s being ignored by Pelosi and the party’s progressive wing, which continues to influence Biden’s policy initiatives. The disconnect between these two realities has become evident as new complications arise in Ukraine and America’s domestic disorders worsen. In particular, the holes in the upbeat Ukraine narrative have reached a point where the mainstream media no longer can credibly deny them, as John Walsh described in a recent Asia Times article, “NY Times shifts pro-war narrative.” Walsh draws attention to two items appearing recently in the Times: a front-page story about Russia seizing much of the East, and an opinion piece entitled, “America and Its Allies Want to Bleed Russia. They Really Shouldn’t.”

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“After the Soviet collapse, very little was needed to speed along the collapse of Russia itself. But none of these steps have been taken, and the steps that were taken (with the ostensible goal of weakening and destroying Russia) have done the exact opposite.”

The Secret American Plan to Make Russia Great Again (Orlov)

It is generally a good idea to avoid ascribing nefarious intent to actions explained by mere stupidity. But this is a case where mere stupidity cannot possibly explain the long, steady procession of foreign policy errors spanning three decades, all of them specifically aimed at strengthening Russia. It is not possible to argue that a surplus of hubris, ignorance, greed and political opportunism and a deficit of competent foreign policy analysts can produce such a result, for that would be essentially the same as arguing that some monkeys armed with drills, mills and lathes can produce a Swiss watch. But the only alternative would be to claim that there is a network of Kremlin’s agents ensconced deep within the bowels of the American Deep State and that they are all working in concert to advance Russia’s interests while meticulously maintaining plausible deniability all the while and at all levels of the operation.

Ostensibly, the plan was to weaken and destroy Russia; but then, following the Soviet collapse, Russia was weakening and destroying itself very well all by itself, no intervention needed. What’s more, every US effort to weaken and destroy Russia has made it stronger; had there existed even a most rudimentary feedback mechanism, so vast a discrepancy between policy goals and policy results would have been detected and adjustments would have been made. Superficially, this may be explained by the nature of America’s sham-democracy, where each administration can blame its failures on mistakes made by the previous administration, but the Deep State remains in power throughout, and it would simply be forced to admit to itself that there is a problem with the plan to weaken and destroy Russia after a few cycles of this unfolding fiasco. The fact that it hasn’t detected any such problem brings us full circle, back to the suspicion that there are Putin’s agents toiling tirelessly deep within the Deep State.

But that’s pure conspiracy theory and we shouldn’t want to go anywhere near that. Suffice to say, there is at present no adequate explanation for what happened. After the Soviet collapse, very little was needed to speed along the collapse of Russia itself. But none of these steps have been taken, and the steps that were taken (with the ostensible goal of weakening and destroying Russia) have done the exact opposite. Why? Below are listed 10 of the most successful initiatives of what appear to be a US Deep State MRGA campaign. If you have an alternative explanation, I’d like to hear it. b

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Turns 99 on Friday. Terrible legacy. But today’s crop are far worse.

Ukraine Official Blasts Kissinger Over Comment on Ceding Territory (Celente)

Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, said Monday what The Trends Journal has been advocating since the start of the Ukraine War: President Volodymyr Zelensky should negotiate for a peaceful resolution and prevent thousands more from dying needlessly. “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome,” Kissinger told the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante.” The 98-year-old said pursuing the war “beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.” He said Ukraine should be willing to cede territory in the peace process. Ukraine has said it will not stop fighting until Russia retreats from the country.

Kissinger saw some success during his time as the U.S.’s top diplomat with the Soviet Union and played a role in arms control treaties like the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. He told the audience in Davos that it would be “fatal” for Western countries to disregard Russia’s position of power within Europe. “I hope the Ukrainians will match the heroism they have shown with wisdom,” Kissinger said. Kissinger’s comments were mocked on social media by “journalists” who -two months ago- didn’t know the difference between Kyiv and a quiche. One even suggested that he should die. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, was critical of Kissinger’s remarks and said he would as easily “allow to take Poland or Lithuania away,” Newsweek reported.

[..] Kissinger’s comments follow nonagenarian Noam Chomsky’s earlier statements about the dangers of a prolonged conflict in Ukraine. Chomsky, correctly, stated earlier this month that Ukrainian leadership’s cry for more heavy weapons is actually the Western “propaganda system.” Chomsky was criticized after saying in an interview that former President Donald Trump is the “one Western statesman of stature” who laid out a “sensible” solution for Ukraine. He said Trump spoke about facilitating negotiations instead of “undermining them and moving towards establishing some kind of accommodation in Europe in which there are no military alliances and mutual accommodation.”

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“Herr Schwab stressed that an actor impersonating a president defending neo-Nazis is supported by “all of Europe and the international order.”

NATO vs Russia: What Happens Next (Escobar)

Three months after the start of Russia’s Operation Z in Ukraine, the battle of The West (12 percent) against The Rest (88 percent) keeps metastasizing. Yet the narrative – oddly – remains the same. On Monday, from Davos, World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab introduced Ukrainian comedian-cum-President Volodymyr Zelensky, on the latest leg of his weapons-solicitation-tour, with a glowing tribute. Herr Schwab stressed that an actor impersonating a president defending neo-Nazis is supported by “all of Europe and the international order.” He means, of course, everyone except the 88 percent of the planet that subscribes to the Rule of Law – instead of the faux construct the west calls a ‘rules-based international order.’

Back in the real world, Russia, slowly but surely has been rewriting the Art of Hybrid War. Yet within the carnival of NATO psyops, aggressive cognitive infiltration, and stunning media sycophancy, much is being made of the new $40 billion US ‘aid’ package to Ukraine, deemed capable of becoming a game-changer in the war. This ‘game-changing’ narrative comes courtesy of the same people who burned though trillions of dollars to secure Afghanistan and Iraq. And we saw how that went down. Ukraine is the Holy Grail of international corruption. That $40 billion can be a game-changer for only two classes of people: First, the US military-industrial complex, and second, a bunch of Ukrainian oligarchs and neo-connish NGOs, that will corner the black market for weapons and humanitarian aid, and then launder the profits in the Cayman Islands.

A quick breakdown of the $40 billion reveals $8.7 billion will go to replenish the US weapons stockpile (thus not going to Ukraine at all); $3.9 billion for USEUCOM (the ‘office’ that dictates military tactics to Kiev); $5 billion for a fuzzy, unspecified “global food supply chain”; $6 billion for actual weapons and “training” to Ukraine; $9 billion in “economic assistance” (which will disappear into selected pockets); and $0.9 billion for refugees. US risk agencies have downgraded Kiev to the dumpster of non-reimbursing-loan entities, so large American investment funds are ditching Ukraine, leaving the European Union (EU) and its member-states as the country’s only option.

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“It will signal the death of Pax Americana.”

No Way Out but War (Chris Hedges)

The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 million children who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses.

No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon. The permanent war economy, implanted since the end of World War II, has destroyed the private economy, bankrupted the nation, and squandered trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the US debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the US GDP of $ 24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military, $ 813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined.

We are paying a heavy social, political, and economic cost for our militarism. Washington watches passively as the U.S. rots, morally, politically, economically, and physically, while China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and other countries extract themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network banks and other financial institutions use to send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions. Once the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, once there is an alternative to SWIFT, it will precipitate an internal economic collapse. It will force the immediate contraction of the U.S. empire shuttering most of its nearly 800 overseas military installations. It will signal the death of Pax Americana.

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Arms embargo.

Finland, Sweden Send Teams To Turkey After Erdogan’s ‘Don’t Even Bother’ (ZH)

Finland and Sweden on Tuesday confirmed they are sending delegations to Ankara in hopes of resolving issues surrounding Turkey’s publicly voiced vehement opposition to the two countries’ bids to join NATO. They formally submitted their applications in a ceremony attended by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last week, which Turkey immediately sought to block. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the delegations will begin meetings with Turkish counterparts on Wednesday, even after days ago President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Finnish and Swedish diplomatic teams “shouldn’t bother coming” if they aren’t prepared to halt support for PKK terrorists.

Speaking during a panel discussion of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Haavisto acknowledged, “We understand that Turkey has some of their own security concerns vis-a-vis terrorism.” He added: “We think that these issues can be settled. There might be also some issues that are not linked directly to Finland and Sweden but more to other NATO members.” US Secretary Antony Blinken and the Biden administration say they’re “confident” the issues will be smoothed over, despite Ankara officials still showing no sign of stopping the denunciations. Turkey has also demanded that Sweden extradite “terrorists” being hosted in its midst, along with the Nordic countries immediately lifting an EU arms embargo which took effect in 2019 in response to the Turkish military’s anti-Kurdish operations in northern Syria.

According to the latest statements from Turkey’s foreign ministry, Ankara is waiting on both countries to take concrete steps. “Sweden, which has applied for membership, is expected to take principled steps and provide concrete assurances regarding Turkey’s security concerns,” a statement said. “Since 2017, our country has requested the extradition of PKK/PYD and FETO terrorists from Sweden but has yet to receive a positive response,” it added in reference referring to Syria’s main Kurdish party PYD and the Gulenist group FETO.

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“Testimony has shown that the FBI opened its probe of Trump because Hillary’s lawyer warned the Bureau that the media was about to report on it.”

Yeah, because “Hillary’s lawyer” fed them the story. That’s how it becomes a story. And then a probe.

Comey’s FBI Lied To Its Own Agents In Russia Hoax Cover-Up (Jarrett)

As if the FBI’s gross misconduct couldn’t get any worse, we learned Monday in court that top bureau officials actively concealed from their own field agents that it was Hillary’s lawyer, defendant Michael Sussmann, who was peddling phony Trump-Russia collusion claims to the FBI. Instead of telling their agents the truth of the information source, FBI brass lied by wrongly attributed it as coming from the “Department of Justice,” thus giving it the imprimatur of greater credibility than it deserved. As Monday’s testimony showed, had agents been told that Hillary’s campaign lawyer was behind it they would have recognized it for what it was –a politically motivated smear and immediately discounted it as a lie.

Monday’s testimony also revealed that the FBI eventually concluded as early as January of 2017 –just as the new president was about to take office– that the so-called “Alfa-Bank secret back-channel communication” between Trump and the Kremlin was a hoax. Yet, Comey hid that critical information from Trump, congress, and the American people. As a consequence, the media kept up its false reporting in the same way it continued to flog the fabricated “dossier.” Comey and others at the FBI like Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok knew that “dossier” funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign was a collection of exaggerations and made-up stories that originated from her own people. Comey could have told the truth and refuted all of the false media stories, but he didn’t. He and his acolytes exploited it as a pretense to escalate their investigation of Trump to drive him from office.

It’s not surprising that CBS, NBC, ABC, and MSNBC have refused to report any of the stunning revelations in the Sussmann trial. They are shameless cowards. They spent the better part of three years obsessed with the collusion story with their non-stop coverage portraying Trump as a Russian asset. They were reckless and wrong. But now, they don’t want to draw attention to just how wrong they were by reporting on the trial. The Washington Post is worse. On Monday, the newspaper published a “news analysis” with the title, “Again: There’s no evidence Hillary Clinton triggered the Russia probe.” Like much of the Post’s reporting, it is completely untrue. Declassified CIA documents show that Hillary invented the hoax by approving a plan on July 26, 2016 to frame Trump. She also gave her personal approval to leak it to the media, according to her own campaign manager’s testimony in court on Friday. Testimony has shown that the FBI opened its probe of Trump because Hillary’s lawyer warned the Bureau that the media was about to report on it.

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“..not opening an investigation was not an option..”

‘Fired Up’ FBI Leadership Pushed Trump Probe Despite Flimsy Evidence (JTN)

In explosive testimony Tuesday in the Michael Sussmann trial, an FBI agent said “fired up” senior FBI leadership insisted on continuing the investigation into now-debunked allegations of a secret Trump back channel to Moscow via a Russian bank despite learning the story was unsubstantiated. FBI agent Curtis Heide was the co-case agent on the investigation into the allegation that there was a secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and Kremlin-linked Alfa Bank. He testified on Tuesday in the Sussmann trial that the bureau’s top brass pushed for the investigation.

Heide was told in an instant message from FBI Agent Joe Pientka, who was the supervisor leading the Crossfire Hurricane investigation regarding Trump-Russia collusion allegations, that senior leadership was “fired up” about the Alfa Bank and Trump Organization email servers and not opening an investigation was not an option. He received this message two days after Sussmann met with then-FBI General Counsel James Baker to give him the underlying, allegedly pretextual data. Sussmann, a 2016 Clinton campaign lawyer, is on trial for allegedly lying to the FBI in his September 2016 meeting with Baker by saying he was not representing any clients in sharing information purportedly substantiating a Trump Organization back channel to the Kremlin through Alfa Bank.

Special Counsel John Durham has provided evidence that Sussmann was representing clients at the meeting — both the Clinton campaign and then-Neustar tech firm executive Rodney Joffe. Heide testified that he concluded the allegation was unsubstantiated based on the analysis by the FBI cyber division, review of the internet data logs, cybersecurity company Mandiant’s independent assessment corroborating the FBI’s findings, discussions with Spectrum Health about a TOR (The Onion Router) exit node, and his own training regarding previous Russian cyber investigations. By Sept. 26, 2016, Heide believed the allegation was a bunk report. In an Oct. 3 email, he asked to interview the anonymous source who relayed the allegation because he believed the investigation was reaching a logical endpoint as the claims appeared unfounded.

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“The 5G telecommunications network is designed to use geolocation and behavioral tracking that will connect your digital identity to your individual behavior and facilitate the carbon footprint tracing process..”

Individual Carbon Footprint Tracker (CTH)

It is important to remember the ultimate goal of the ‘climate change’ promotors (World Economic Forum) is not an energy system that changes the global climate. The goal of the ‘climate change’ group is to create a carbon trading system; a new financial mechanism (a global tax program) to control human activity on a world-wide basis. This system also needs a digital identity in order to work {hint-hint}. You cannot tax, or trade, things you cannot track. As a result, there was always going to be a need for an individual tracking and monitoring system that would connect to the global digital identity and determine the carbon footprint. The carbon taxing and trading system will be more financially lucrative than any stock exchange or monetary banking system. It is the ultimate human control mechanism, and the preferred way to redistribute wealth under the guise of global equity.


Of course, the system will beta test as a consumer demand product until the government steps in to take over the allocation and distribution equity part. In this video segment, Alibaba Group president J. Michael Evans boasts at the 2022 World Economic Forum about the development of an “individual carbon footprint tracker” to monitor what you buy, what you eat, and where/how you travel.

The individual carbon tracker is the baseline for a global carbon trading system that involves everyone; at least, everyone connected to the outlook of western government. Carbon allocation creates the financial metric that replaces currency. You buy and sell carbon credits allowing you to engage in specific functions within society, like dining, traveling, home ownership and type, vehicle or transportation type, even the clothes you can purchase. Hence, “carbon trading” is the term most people are familiar with. In essence, you are a parasite to earth; therefore, you must offset your derogatory footprint on the planet by paying a fee to exist. If you cannot pay for the carbon credits needed to engage in the transaction (travel, home ownership, cooling, heating, etc.) you cannot engage in the regulated activity.


The carbon exchange process is at the end of the slippery slope created by a digital identity. The 5G telecommunications network is designed to use geolocation and behavioral tracking that will connect your digital identity to your individual behavior and facilitate the carbon footprint tracing process. We are already passed the “if” stage.

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“..a shape-shifting nonprofit group that uses aliases to push an array of left-wing causes from a shell office in Washington, D.C.”

Bill Gates Poured Millions into Dark Money Fund Attacking Elon Musk (BB)

Research exclusively shared with Breitbart News identifies hundreds of millions of dollars flowing from Bill Gates’ foundation to 11 of the 26 organizations that signed an open letter last month urging Twitter advertisers to boycott the company if Elon Musk restores free speech on the platform. Breitbart News’ report, based on research and analysis from the newly-formed Foundation for Freedom Online (FFO), analyzed public filings to trace hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions from the letter signatories back to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In total, 11 of the 26 anti-Musk organizations received funding from a Gates-backed entity.

[..] The open letter’s connection to the billionaire Microsoft founder is significant, as Gates is in the middle of a public feud with free speech advocate Musk. Last month, Gates revealed his $500 million short position against Musk-owned Tesla, prompting Musk to call Gates a “b*ner” killer alongside a meme of Gates as a pregnant man emoji. Gates is also an outspoken censorship proponent, frequently calling on tech companies to do more to stop “health misinformation” spreading online. Musk threatens to reverse Gates’ strongly desired censorship policies — and now faces the wrath of Gates-funded NGOs. Recently, Musk asked his 94 million Twitter followers to uncover the funding behind the 26 NGOs who signed an intimidation letter threatening to destroy the company’s advertising revenue if Musk reversed its censorship policies.

Musk followed up his request by highlighting one particular shadowy group, Accountable Tech, musing: “I wonder who funds them”. His curiosity was prompted by a Washington Free Beacon investigation into Accountable Tech, which sought to get to the bottom of the nonprofit’s financial sponsorship. The Free Beacon visited Accountable Tech’s corporate office in Washington and concluded the organization doesn’t “actually exist.” Rather, “Accountable Tech” was merely a “registered trade [name] for the North Fund, a shape-shifting nonprofit group that uses aliases to push an array of left-wing causes from a shell office in Washington, D.C.”

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A crisis created for the good of mankind.

One Billion People At Risk Of Power Blackouts As Global Grids Stretched

This summer, power grids worldwide won’t produce enough electricity to meet the soaring demand, threatening more than one billion people with rolling blackouts. Grids are stretched thin by fossil fuel shortages, drought and heatwaves, commodity disruptions and soaring prices due to the war in Ukraine, and the failed green energy transition where grid operators retired too many fossil fuel generation plants. Combine this all together, and a perfect storm of blackouts threatens much of the Northern Hemisphere. The power crisis, affecting a large swath of the world and top economies, could be less than a month away when summer begins on June 21. Regions that concerned Bloomberg are Asia, Europe, and the US, where there’s not enough power to go around when cooling demand is set to surge as households crank up their air conditions to escape the sweltering heat.

“Asia’s heatwave has caused hours-long daily blackouts, putting more than 1 billion people at risk across Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India, with little relief in sight. Six Texas power plants failed earlier this month as the summer heat just began to arrive, offering a preview of what’s to come. At least a dozen US states from California to the Great Lakes are at risk of electricity outages this summer. Power supplies will be tight in China and Japan. South Africa is poised for a record year of power cuts. And Europe is in a precarious position that’s held up by Russia — if Moscow cuts off natural gas to the region, that could trigger rolling outages in some countries.” –Bloomberg

BloombergNEF analyst Shantanu Jaiswal says the combination of “war and sanctions” disrupting commodity markets, “extreme weather,” and “an economic rebound from COVID boosting power demand” is a “unique” situation that he “can’t recall” the last time a “confluence of so many factors” happened together. As we noted in the beginning, it’s a perfect storm of factors.

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Ha ha ha!

Biden Underwater On Almost All Issues Except Handling Of Covid (Hill)

President Biden’s approval rating continues to be underwater on virtually every issue, with the exception being on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll. Biden’s overall approval rating sits at 41 percent in the survey, and the numbers are not much better when broken down by each issue. Only 35 percent of registered voters approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, 44 percent approve of his efforts to stimulate job growth and just 33 percent approve of his handling of inflation. Thirty-eight percent of respondents say they support his handling of immigration, and his approval rating on foreign affairs sits at 40 percent.


However, 52 percent of registered voters said they approve of his handling of COVID-19, the lone bright spot in the survey for the White House. Yet overall, his sagging approval ratings portend a political atmosphere this midterm cycle that will heavily favor Republicans — and warn that a 2024 reelection bid could be a slog. “Biden continues to struggle with the job and is particularly being slammed by the voters over inflation and immigration. No president has been reelected with numbers like these on job performance,” said pollster Mark Penn.

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Monsanto has real power.

Bayer Deploys Big Ag Buddies to Push Biden on Roundup Cancer Lawsuit (CHD)

Two weeks after a top Justice Department official advised the U.S. Supreme Court there was “no sound reason” for the high court to review a loss by Monsanto owner Bayer AG in nationwide Roundup cancer litigation, a coalition of large agricultural groups is demanding that President Joe Biden withdraw the opinion. Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, has looked to the high court as its last, and best, hope for putting an end to the ongoing litigation. Bayer has asked the justices to take up the case, which centers on allegations that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

But Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar advised the court in a May 10 brief that Bayer’s arguments for seeking Supreme Court review were “misconceived,” and said there was no valid dispute for the high court to consider. The agricultural groups responded Monday with a blistering letter to Biden, alleging Prelogar’s brief established a “new policy” that “poses great risks to our science-based regulatory system and global food systems.” The letter urges Biden to withdraw Prelogar’s brief and “consult with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the implications of this decision for food production, environmental sustainability, and science-based regulation.”

[..] Bayer filed its petition to the high court in August, asking the justices to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s May 14, 2021, decision that affirmed a district court’s judgment in Monsanto’s 2019 trial loss to plaintiff Edwin Hardeman. The jury, in that case, agreed with Hardeman’s attorneys that exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide was a cause of Hardeman’s NHL and that Monsanto failed to warn of its product’s health risks, despite decades of science showing links between the herbicide and cancer. Hardeman was awarded approximately $80 million by the jury, though the award was cut by the trial court judge to roughly $25.2 million.

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May 202022
 


Marion Post Wolcott Signboard along highway in Alabama 1939

 

Many Ukrainian Fighters Remain In Azovstal, ‘Operation Going On’ (R.)
Surrender “On Far Bigger Scale Than Kyiv Has Acknowledged” (ZH)
Biden Resists Ukrainian Demands For Long-range Rocket Launchers (Pol.)
When US Pivot Is Seen As An ‘Expansion’ Into Asia (Kukis)
US Aid To Ukraine Borrowed From China: Rand Paul (JTN)
US Adds $100 Million In Arms For Ukraine On Top Of $40 Billion Aid Package (PM)
Senate Blocks $48 Billion Aid For Restaurants, Other Small Businesses (Hill)
SpaceX Flight Attendant Said Elon Musk Exposed Himself (BI)
Half Of America Faces Power Blackouts This Summer (ZH)
Analysis of Hunter Biden’s Hard Drive (NBC)
How The Feds’ Civil Suit Against Steve Wynn Helps Hunter Biden (Turley)
Trump Lawyer Demands CIA Action Against Ex-agents on Hunter Biden Laptop (JTN)
African Nations Resisting Bitcoin Only Delay The Inevitable (BCM)
A Theory of Impossibility (Fred Reed)

 

 

 

 

George W. Bush prank call

 

 

Poso WHO

 

 

The ones that remain are those who have most to fear from Russia. But ‘Operation Going On’ is BS, it’s over.

Many Ukrainian Fighters Remain In Azovstal, ‘Operation Going On’ (R.)

Russia’s siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol stuttered towards its end on Thursday, with hundreds of fighters still holed up in the Azovstal steel works and some 1,700 who have already surrendered facing an uncertain fate. A full abandonment of the bunkers and tunnels of the bombed-out plant would end the most destructive siege of a war that began when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. It was unclear how many fighters remained inside. Russia’s defence ministry said 771 fighters from the Azov Regiment had surrendered in the past day, bringing the total of those who had given themselves up since Monday to 1,730. Ukrainian officials declined to comment, saying it could endanger rescue efforts.

Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy head of the Azov Regiment, released an 18-second video address on Thursday to say he and other commanders were still on the territory of the plant. “A certain operation is going on, the details of which I will not disclose. Thank you to the whole world and thank you to Ukraine for (your) support,” he said. Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, which now encompasses Mariupol, said more than half the fighters had surrendered, and that the uninjured had been taken to a penal colony near Russian-controlled Donetsk. “Let them surrender, let them live, let them honestly face the charges for all their crimes,” he told an online video channel.

[..] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Mariupol’s last defenders – regular soldiers as well as members of the National Guard, to which the Azov Regiment belongs – are national heroes, and that he hopes they can be exchanged for Russian prisoners. Moscow portrays the regiment as one of the main perpetrators of the alleged radical anti-Russian nationalism and neo-Nazism which it says threaten Ukraine’s Russian-speakers. read more The unit, formed in 2014 as a militia to fight Russian-backed separatists, denies being fascist, racist or neo-Nazi, and Ukraine says it has been reformed away from its radical nationalist origins. The Kremlin said the combatants would be treated in line with international norms, though some Russian lawmakers demanded they be tried for war crimes and one demanded they face the death penalty.

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Yesterday 771 surrendered, today’s number will probably be a bit lower.

Surrender “On Far Bigger Scale Than Kyiv Has Acknowledged” (ZH)

Russia’s defense ministry has now revised the numbers of Ukrainian fighters to have emerged from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol upward to more than 1,700 soldiers that have left the plant. A new Reuters headline has stressed that there’s ongoing “silence from Kyiv” as the surrender is on a much larger than expected scale: Moscow said on Thursday that 1,730 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered in Mariupol over three days, including 771 in the past 24 hours, claiming a surrender on a far bigger scale than Kyiv has acknowledged since ordering its garrison to stand down. Statements from early in the week by Ukrainian officials, including President Zelensky, attempted to downplay this as “surrender” – avoiding the word altogether and instead stressing the end of the “combat mission” and that its Azov fighters were “evacuated”.

Russian-backed separatists in control of the area, Denis Pushilin, has recently said many of Azov’s top commanders still remain inside the huge, cavernous steelworks facility. Reuters observes, “The ultimate outcome of Europe’s bloodiest battle for decades remained publicly unresolved, with no confirmation of the fate of the hundreds of Ukrainian troops who had held out in a vast steelworks at the end of a near three-month siege.” “Ukraine, which says it aims to secure a prisoner swap, has declined to say how many were inside the plant or comment on the fate of the rest, since confirming that just over 250 had surrendered in the initial hours after it ordered them to yield,” the report added. Meanwhile, a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) suggests that indeed the number of fighters which were hold up at the plant for months is likely significantly higher that what was known. The Red Cross has thus far registered “hundreds”…

On Tuesday the ICRC started “to register combatants leaving the Azovstal plant, including the wounded, at the request of the parties,” it said in a statement from its headquarters in Geneva. “The operation continued Wednesday and was still ongoing Thursday,” it added. It was previously reported that the wounded are being transported by the Russian military to one of its administered hospitals in the Donbas, some 40km away. The Red Cross sought to stress that it is a neutral humanitarian organization which will monitor the transfer of the prisoners. “The ICRC is not transporting POWs to the places where they are held,” an official statement said. “The registration process that the ICRC facilitated involves the individual filling out a form with personal details like name, date of birth and closest relative.”

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I like the notion that Biden does anything at all. It adds comic value.

Biden Resists Ukrainian Demands For Long-range Rocket Launchers (Pol.)

Ukrainian officials are growing frustrated with the Biden administration’s resistance to providing U.S.-made long-range rocket systems, a weapon Kyiv says is critical to outgunning Russia in the heavy artillery duels raging across the Donbas. Officials across the Ukrainian government have pleaded with the U.S. for months to send the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS. But three people familiar with the issue say the Ukrainians are concerned that the White House is holding back over worries the weapon could be used to launch strikes inside Russia, thereby expanding and prolonging the conflict. “There was momentum on it at Ramstein, but that seems to have cooled,” said one congressional staffer with knowledge of discussions last month in Germany, where 40 nations gathered to discuss the next steps in arming Ukraine.

“There’s definitely a frustration building” in Kyiv over these new caveats being placed on military aid, this person said. The weapon has been near the top of Ukrainian requests for months, and military and civilian leaders in Kyiv have made their case to their American counterparts directly on multiple occasions. A Biden administration official who asked to remain anonymous to discuss internal deliberations told POLITICO that the two countries remain “in active discussion” about the weapon, but that even with the $3.8 billion worth of military aid the U.S. has sent Ukraine since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, not everything Kyiv asks for can be sent quickly. “We have to make decisions about what weapons systems provide the biggest bang for the buck,” with the money Congress allots to the Ukraine effort, the official said.

Over the past several weeks as the latest funding package began to be whittled down, the administration decided “it was more effective and efficient to send the 90 M777 [howitzers] because you can send more of them” and more munitions for the price than a much smaller number of MLRS. The U.S. has quietly provided older, Soviet-era multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine over the past several months after scouring the warehouses of allies who still operate the older weapons. But the more precise, more powerful American systems are what Kyiv is looking for to blunt Russian advances in the Donbas.

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Biden’s in Asia right now. Wonder what drugs they give him on these long flights.

When US Pivot Is Seen As An ‘Expansion’ Into Asia (Kukis)

Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders now more than ever have reason to feel encircled with Sweden and Finland moving to join NATO this week. Moscow’s persistent fear of Western military encroachment on Russian borders now stands as a stark reality in the wake of the war in Ukraine, a seismic development in European security all the more remarkable when taking a long look back at NATO expansion. Analysts and policymakers intensely debated the future of NATO in the early 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union left Russia with a hobbled military that was in disarray. Countries close to Russia cried for protection from a future threat they were sure would emerge once Moscow reordered itself. Others saw a different future, one in which Russia became a cooperative and largely demilitarized nation integrated with Europe. NATO had no reason to exist in such a world, they said.

Remembering what was foreseeable and what was not in that period is important now when looking at the actions of the United States and its allies in East Asia, where a potentially fateful military buildup is underway. In the 1990s, it was not clear whether Russia would renew its military ambitions. But Russian officials plainly stated again and again that they regarded NATO expansion as a security threat. And even a basic reading of Russian history reveals how dire such a threat looms in the eyes of Russians who consider it their duty to safeguard the nation. Similarly now, it remains unclear whether China harbors imperialistic military ambitions as many in Washington contend. But Chinese leaders have made their feelings about an expanding U.S. military presence in Asia quite clear.

America’s pivot to Asia, which continues despite events in Europe, represents an existential security threat in the eyes of Chinese leaders. A basic understanding of geography and economics underscores why. The tradeways of the South China Sea are vital lifelines to China’s economic development. Any foreign military presence in that region operating outside of cooperation with Beijing looks like a hand reaching for the throat of the Chinese economy. Military pacts like AUKUS add to the sense of encirclement China clearly feels, a perception very similar to the one Moscow held as NATO looked to expand roughly a decade after the end of the Cold War. Leaders in Beijing today have good reason to think and act like leaders in Moscow did back in the early 2000s, when Russia grew serious about developing modern military capabilities and taking action in line with explicitly stated security aims. The start of the road to a future war in Asia stretches before us today in much the same way that the beginnings of the war in Ukraine trace back to seemingly slow-moving events almost 25 year ago in Europe.

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“To borrow the money from China simply to send it to Ukraine makes no sense and makes us weaker not stronger..”

US Aid To Ukraine Borrowed From China: Rand Paul (JTN)

Congress needs to borrow money from China to send aid to Ukraine, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told “Breitbart News Daily” on Wednesday, one day before the Senate overwhelmingly voted to send $40 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine and its allies. “I think it’s important to know that we don’t have any money to send,” Paul, a fiscal conservative, explained. “We have to borrow money from China to send it to Ukraine. And I think most people kind of get that, and many Republicans will say that when it’s a new social program, but if it’s military aid to a country, they’re like, ‘Well, we can borrow that, that’s a justified borrowing.'”

Paul voted against advancing the bill along with ten other senate Republicans: Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Braun of Indiana, Mike Crapo of Indiana, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Lee of Utah, Cynthia Lummis of West Virginia, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. Rampant inflation is a major concern Paul said he has with the bill. “The problem is that it all leads to inflation, so it kind of hurts the Republican argument that Biden’s spending and Biden’s debt leads to inflation, except for when it’s bipartisan spending and that doesn’t really count,” he noted.

The United States is currently more than $30 trillion in debt. The U.S. owes China more than $1 trillion, Investopedia states. Paul temporarily blocked the Ukraine aid legislation from moving forward in the Senate, but he was overruled earlier this week. “To borrow the money from China simply to send it to Ukraine makes no sense and makes us weaker not stronger,” Paul said on the Senate floor about the aid package.

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Send them some more scrap metal, why don’t you.

US Adds $100 Million In Arms For Ukraine On Top Of $40 Billion Aid Package (PM)

The Biden administration has announced $100 million in arms funding to Ukraine on top of the newly approved $40 billion aid package. On Thursday, the Senate approved $40 billion in aid for Ukraine as the nation continues to fight back against Russia’s invasion. Just hours later, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States would be sending an additional $100 million in arms. In a statement, Blinken explained that Ukrainian forces have “remained firmly in the fight” against Russia, but are in need of assistance, namely arms and other equipment. “Pursuant to a delegation from the President,” Blinken said, “I am authorizing our tenth drawdown of additional arms and equipment for Ukraine’s defense from US Department of Defense inventories, valued at up to $100 million.”


“This brings total US military assistance to Ukraine to approximately $3.9 billion in arms and equipment since Russia launched its brutal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. “The United States is committed to helping Ukraine continue to meet its defense needs and build its future capabilities,” he continued, “as well as to bolster Allies and partners across NATO’s Eastern Flank and the broader region.” The increasing amount of money has been criticized by Republicans, however only eleven voted against the recently passed $40 billion aid package.

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Sorry guys, we need it for Ukraine. Of course you support Zelensky from your closed store!

Senate Blocks $48 Billion Aid For Restaurants, Other Small Businesses (Hill)

The Senate on Thursday blocked a bipartisan bill to provide $48 billion to restaurants, gyms and other small businesses hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Senators voted 52-43 to hold a vote on the bill, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to move forward. Just five GOP senators voted for the motion to proceed, with the bill’s opponents citing its impact on the federal deficit and inflation. The vote likely spells doom for the bill, which was crafted by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and backed by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) as a way to help struggling small businesses get out of debt accrued during the pandemic.

“Well, this was our best shot. Make no mistake about it, we’re disappointed that we weren’t able to get it done,” Cardin told reporters after the vote. “But you know, I’ll always fight for small businesses. I’ll continue to look for ways we can help.” Pressed after the vote on any potential plans for a similar measure in the future, Wicker told The Hill, “You know, time is a very fleeting commodity, so I just don’t know.” Advocates had argued that the additional funds were needed to prevent scores of debt-ridden small businesses from closing down. The bill would have provided $40 billion to a relief fund for struggling restaurants. Democrats provided $28.6 billion to the fund in their COVID-19 relief package, but the federal dollars quickly ran out, with only one out of three applicants receiving aid.

“Local restaurants across the country expected help but the Senate couldn’t finish the job,” Erika Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, said in a statement. “Neighborhood restaurants nationwide have held out hope for this program, selling their homes, cashing out retirement funds, or taking personal loans in an effort to keep their employees working and their doors open.”

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You would hope for something cleverer than this. Business Insider should be deeply ashamed of itself.

SpaceX Flight Attendant Said Elon Musk Exposed Himself (BI)

SpaceX, the aerospace firm founded by Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest man, paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Musk in 2018, Insider has learned. The attendant worked as a member of the cabin crew on a contract basis for SpaceX’s corporate jet fleet. She accused Musk of exposing his erect penis to her, rubbing her leg without consent, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage, according to interviews and documents obtained by Insider. The incident, which took place in 2016, is alleged in a declaration signed by a friend of the attendant and prepared in support of her claim. The details in this story are drawn from the declaration as well as other documents, including email correspondence and other records shared with Insider by the friend.


According to the declaration, the attendant confided to the friend that after taking the flight attendant job, she was encouraged to get licensed as a masseuse so that she could give Musk massages. It was during one such massage in a private cabin on Musk’s Gulfstream G650ER, she told the friend, that Musk propositioned her. After Insider contacted Musk for comment, he emailed to ask for more time to respond and said there is “a lot more to this story.” “If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light,” he wrote, calling the story a “politically motivated hit piece.” Insider extended the deadline and reiterated the offer to Musk to comment on the claims. He did not respond.

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Sometimes I’m sure they do it on purpose.

Half Of America Faces Power Blackouts This Summer (ZH)

Tens of millions of Americans could be thrown into a summer of hell as a megadrought, heatwaves, and reduced power generation could trigger widespread rolling electricity blackouts from the Great Lakes to the West Coast, according to Bloomberg, citing a new report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a regulatory body that manages grid stability. NERC warned power supplies in the Western US could be strained this summer as a historic drought reduces hydroelectric power generation due to falling reservoir levels and what’s expected to be an unseasonably hot summer.

Compound the hellacious weather backdrop with grids decommissioning fossil fuel power plants to fight climate change and their inability to bring on new green power generation, such as solar, wind, and batteries, in time, is a perfect storm waiting to happen that will produce electricity deficits that may force power companies into rolling blackouts for stability purposes. The regulatory body pointed out that supply-chain woes are delaying major Southwest solar projects, while some coal plants have trouble procuring supplies because of increased exports. They said there’s also an increasing threat of cyberattacks from Russia. By region, the Midwest power grid will be extremely tight. Across the Western US, power generation capacity has declined 2.3% since last summer, even as demand is expected to increase.

Grids in the region may have to source power from neighboring grids as extreme heat will cause people to crank up their air conditioners. A situation of low wind speeds could trigger blackouts, according to NERC. They outlined how the Midwest could face power shortfalls due to the removal of power capacity from retiring fossil fuel power plants. NERC issued a similar warning last year, stating power grids that serve 40% of the US population were at risk of blackouts. One year later, there was only one notable blackout last June during a heatwave in the Pacific Northwest that left 9,000 customers without power. But with reduced electricity generation capacity outpacing new green power sources, the risks of blackouts are increasing this year.

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Ha ha ha, from the very same people who called it Russian disinformation when that was convenient. Credibility zero.

Analysis of Hunter Biden’s Hard Drive (NBC)

From 2013 through 2018 Hunter Biden and his company brought in about $11 million via his roles as an attorney and a board member with a Ukrainian firm accused of bribery and his work with a Chinese businessman now accused of fraud, according to an NBC News analysis of a copy of Biden’s hard drive and iCloud account and documents released by Republicans on two Senate committees. The documents and the analysis, which don’t show what he did to earn millions from his Chinese partners, raise questions about national security, business ethics and potential legal exposure. In December 2020, Biden acknowledged in a statement that he was the subject of a federal investigation into his taxes.

NBC News was first to report that an ex-business partner had warned Biden he should amend his tax returns to disclose $400,000 in income from the Ukrainian firm, Burisma. GOP congressional sources also say that if Republicans take back the House this fall, they’ll demand more documents and probe whether any of Biden’s income went to his father, President Joe Biden. “No government ethics rules apply to him,” said Walter Shaub, a former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics who is now an ethics expert with the Project on Government Oversight. Shaub added, however, that “it’s imperative that no one at DOJ and no one at the White House interfere with the criminal investigation in Delaware.”

Shaub had previously raised questions about Hunter Biden’s new line of work, selling his own paintings, which created the potential to purchase a painting to buy perceived influence, and also because the White House became involved in the transactions, arranging that none of the buyers’ names be known to Biden, the White House or the public. Frank Figliuzzi, the FBI’s former assistant director for counterintelligence, said there is a national security risk when foreign powers like China see an opportunity to get close to someone like Biden. “It’s all about access and influence, and if you can compromise someone with both access and influence, that’s even better,” said Figliuzzi, now an NBC News contributor. “Better still if that target has already compromised himself.”

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Civil case vs criminal case. Yes, how convenient.

How The Feds’ Civil Suit Against Steve Wynn Helps Hunter Biden (Turley)

The Justice Department this week sued former casino mogul Steve Wynn for allegedly working as an agent for China. The lawsuit under the Foreign Agents Registration Act is bad news for Wynn, but it may be a win for another potential target: Hunter Biden. By bringing this action as a civil lawsuit, the Justice Department may have undercut the ongoing investigation by David Weiss, the US attorney for Delaware, into Hunter Biden’s foreign dealings. This civil suit doesn’t necessarily bar Weiss, but Hunter’s team can now argue that criminally charging him with a FARA violation would be inconsistent with contemporary investigations.

I recently testified in Congress on FARA prosecutions and noted that the Justice Department had largely dropped civil actions under the act in favor of criminal charges. Special counsel Robert Mueller targeted various Trump officials with FARA, using the law to investigate, search or charge attorneys from Paul Manafort to Rudy Giuliani to Victoria Toensing. I testified earlier that “after ramping up prosecutions in the last decade, the Justice Department has created precedent for the criminalization of what were previously treated as administrative violations. From Paul Manafort to the current investigation of Hunter Biden, there remain questions as to whether Justice Department will operate under a single, coherent and predictable standard.”

Some in the administration may be hoping that this charge will compel a consistent approach that would effectively decriminalize any violations under investigation in Delaware. The feds sued Wynn over his effort to intervene in the case of Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, a billionaire real-estate magnate and critic of the Chinese government. Beijing wanted the businessman back in China and hoped to persuade the US government to deny him a visa. Wynn spoke to President Donald Trump about the case, a call that carried added weight due to Wynn’s position as the Republican National Committee’s finance chairman. Wynn has interests in Macau, and his intervention was allegedly appreciated by high-ranking Chinese officials. The Justice Department asked Wynn to register as an agent, but he declined.

What is most striking about this case is how serious it is, particularly compared with past criminal cases like the prosecution of Paul Manafort. Here, Sun Lijun, then the Chinese vice minister for public security, was allegedly organizing the lobbying effort in 2017 and contacted figures like Elliott Broidy, a former RNC finance chairman, and Nickie Lum Davis, a top Trump fundraiser. Both Broidy and Davis later pleaded guilty in prosecutions. The question is why Broidy was criminally prosecuted in 2020 under FARA, including for work on the Guo matter, yet the Biden administration suddenly decided that the Wynn part of the deals should be treated as a civil matter. This is coming at the very time a grand jury is reportedly considering charges against Hunter Biden that could include FARA violations.

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“I take special pride in personally swinging the election away from Trump. You’re welcome.”

Trump Lawyer Demands CIA Action Against Ex-agents on Hunter Biden Laptop (JTN)

The attorney for former President Donald Trump is demanding the CIA take “immediate legal action” against the 43 former agency employees who signed a letter in October 2020 saying Hunter Biden’s laptop was not authentic and part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The laptop from President Joe Biden’s son and its contents showing questionable actions from the Biden family were proven to be authentic more than a year after the election. “Media outlets used this purportedly credible intelligence assessment as a justification to not report on the story. Some polls show that up to 17% of people who voted for President Biden would not have if they knew about the contents of the laptop at the time,” attorney Timothy Parlatore wrote in a letter obtained by Just the News to the CIA’s Prepublication Classification Review Board Chairman, John Hedley.


“It would not be an exaggeration to say that these former intelligence officials changed the outcome of the election through knowingly flagrant misconduct,” Parlatore said in his 12-page letter. One of the letter’s CIA signatories, John Sipher, said in March, “I take special pride in personally swinging the election away from Trump. You’re welcome.” He quickly followed up that he was using “sarcasm.” Parlatore wrote the letter to Headley because his agency, the PCRB, is mandated to oversee the publication of letters such as the one signed by the 43 former CIA employees. “[I]t is beyond apparent not only that the letter did not undergo the mandatory PCRB review but that it further used violative behavior that could have threatened national security and attempted to play upon the nation’s trust in its intelligence agencies to support a political talking point,” Parlatore noted.

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Excellent argument for bitcoin.

African Nations Resisting Bitcoin Only Delay The Inevitable (BCM)

Doing business on the continent of Africa is very difficult. It is difficult to get payments in and very difficult to get payments out. For example, there is a black market exchange rate, and the government sanctioned exchange rate in Nigeria, meaning that there are two economies running in parallel, on top of the difficulty of moving money out. Bitcoin fixes all of this because anyone can send and receive bitcoin in any amount at any time, without permission, and its price is determined by the market, not the State. Saying “without permission” or “permissionless” as Bitcoiners do, is a phrase loaded with so much benefit that it is hard to describe to Westerners who have no idea of what it is like to do business on the continent of Africa. They take for granted that doing business and sending and receiving fiat money is a matter of pressing a button.

In Nigeria, for example, real life is not so. Moving money is fraught with difficulties and multiple ways of making a loss on a transfer. These piled up losses can make it impossible to earn a profit, and if you do, impossible to spend or recycle it where you need to spend or recycle it. Bitcoin makes all of this go away, as well as adding extraordinary speed to all transactions that are without precedent for Nigerians and many people living on the African continent. Given all of the advantages of Bitcoin, an intelligent person would ask, “Why then hasn’t Nigeria officially embraced bitcoin as a means of payment?” This is the correct question, and there are many answers to this, some cultural, that are preventing the Nigerian government from embracing reality and acting boldly like a leader nation as El Salvador and the Central African Republic has.

Trying to do any sort of Bitcoin business in Nigeria very often involves the invocation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which has a stranglehold on all businesses and bank accounts in Nigeria. Bitcoin would abolish their societal status and the reign of terror that they’ve unleashed on the great people of Nigeria. It is a sure bet that this is one of the key reasons why they’re trying so hard to stamp out Bitcoin, rather than do their duty to serve the Nigerian people by embracing this new tool. That the most populous country on the continent of Africa is the number two nation on Earth for Bitcoin adoption (one-third of all Nigerians use it) in the face of withering and unethical restrictions is a testament to the powerful and resourceful character of the Nigerian people who are born futurists, natural capitalists and extraordinary entrepreneurs: highly intelligent, capable and motivated.

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This is delightful. Don’t miss.

A Theory of Impossibility (Fred Reed)

A problem of biology for years has been the inability of evolutionists to explain how life or many of its manifestations can have evolved, irreducible complexity and all that, the usual response being ok, we aren’t sure, but any day now we will have the answer. The check is in the mail. But in fact the inexplicability grows ever greater year on year as more and more complexity is discovered, such as epigenetics, and the more complexity, the less likelihood of coming about by chance. But we advocates of Impossibility Theory assert that not only can living things not have evolved, but also that they can’t function. Too many little gear wheels. Therefore life doesn’t exist.

Consider the retina, a very thin membrane consisting of ten distinct sublayers engaging in appallingly complex biochemistry, somehow maintaining position and function for, occasionally, a hundred years. These layers consist of millions of cells doing the impossibly tricky chemical dance mentioned above, more or less perfectly. In the rest of the eye you have the three layers of the eyeball, sclera, choroid, retina, and the five layers of the cornea, epithelium, Bowman’s membrane, stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and posterior lamina. And a lens consisting of a proteinaceous goop contained in a capsule, attached to the muscular ciliary body by suspensory ligaments, and an iris of radial and circumferential fibers innervated competitively by the sympathetic and parasympathetic subsystems of the autonomic nervous system.

No way exists of explaining how this purportedly evolved—or how it works for many years without the layers of intricacy, biochemical through mechanical, collapsing. (I know this stuff because I have eye problems connected with Washington’s foreign policy.) The intricacy of life is layered. We start with a zygote which, being a cell, is bogglingly complex. This little time bomb develops into a baby, which is impossible. If you don’t think so, try reading a textbook of embryology. The migration of cells, this control gradient, that control gradient, DGRNs, perfect inerrant specialization to form implausibly precise and complex things like incus, malleus, stapes, tympanum in the ear and (very) numerous other examples, all impossible individually and more so in aggregate. Impossible, at least, unless we can come up with an auxiliary explanation. Magic seems a good candidate.

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Oliver Stone: Vladimir Putin and War in Ukraine | Lex Fridman

 

 

Maersheimer

 

 

Nate Hagens – The Great Simplification – full movie

 

 

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Jun 212016
 


NPC District National Bank, Dupont branch, Washington, DC 1924

The Big Guns Are Out: Soros, Rothschild Warn Of Brexit Doom (ZH)
When Brexit Has Come And Gone, The Real Problems Will Remain (ZH)
IMF Calls On Japan To ‘Reload’ Abenomics (Nikkei)
India’s Rockstar Central Banker Defeated As Modi Revolution Stalls (AEP)
Yellen Makes ‘Uncertainty’ New Mantra (R.)
“Whatever It Takes” Wasn’t Enough (Noland)
The World’s Newest “Reserve” Currency Is Anything But (Balding)
China’s Developers Can’t Stop Overpaying for Property (WSJ)
China’s ‘Land Kings’ Return as Housing Prices Rise (WSJ)
Energy-Related Loan Losses Rising (B.)
California Power Grid Prepares For Heatwave, Power Outages (R.)
Australia Whistleblower Loses Job After Speaking Out On Refugee Camps (G.)

Vested interests at stake.

The Big Guns Are Out: Soros, Rothschild Warn Of Brexit Doom (ZH)

Just yesterday, we recounted the story of “Black Wednesday” when on September 16, 1992, the UK was forced out of the EU’s exchange-rate mechanism, or ERM, when the BOE tapped out and allowed the British pound to float freely, leading to 15% losses in the sterling. As we noted, this was George Soros’ infamous trade which “broke the Bank of England” and made the Hungarian richer by over $1.5 bilion. 24 years later Soros is back, and this time he is warning against the kind of devaluation that made him a billionaire and which he believes will be unleashed by Brexit, when in a Guardian Op-Ed he wrote that U.K. voters are “grossly underestimating” the true costs of a vote to leave the EU, saying that there would be an “immediate and dramatic impact on financial markets, investment, prices and jobs.”

[..] It is notable that Soros’ warning comes just days after that of Jacob Rothschild himself who said in another Op-Ed, this time for The Times, that leaving the EU could lead to a “damaging and disorderly situation” in the UK as he urged Britons to vote ‘remain’. Just like Soros, Lord Rothschild, suddenly exhibiting a rare strain of humanitarian concern, said readers should not “risk the wellbeing of our country”and European countries are “better off together”. He said that “at present we enjoy being a permanent member of the UN security council and we are essential to the G8 and Commonwealth. But diplomacy, defence, the environment and our values of being a liberal democracy will all be at risk” adding that “I can see no good reason why we should accept our playing a diminished role on the world stage,” especially if his own personal fortune would be jeopardized.

Finally, completing the doom loop, was none other than Chancellor George Osborne who, according to the Telegraph, “refused to rule out suspending trading on the London stock market if Britons vote to leave the EU on Friday morning… The threat from the Chancellor, made in an LBC radio interview on Monday evening, after the market had closed could force shares down in London as early as Tuesday morning.”

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Everyone’s broke.

When Brexit Has Come And Gone, The Real Problems Will Remain (ZH)

In a few days, Brexit will come and go, and just a few days later it will be forgotten, as either outcome will be far less dramatic than has been widely predicted by the same fearmongering economist pundits who have been wrong about everything else for the past 8 years. Ironically, the better outcome for the market is precisely a Brexit as the panic selloff will prompt central banks around the globe to boost enough monetary stimulus to send risk assets to new all time highs. What will remain, however, are the real problems. Here is SocGen with a useful reminder of just what those are, and why the market may have already forgotten that just one week ago the Fed threw in the towel when addressing precisely these problems. From SocGen’s Andrew Lapthone:

“Global equity markets continued to struggle last week, with the MSCI World index off 1.8% pushing the index back into red for the year. Big losses were seen in Japan with the Topix 500 down 6% and the volatile Mothers index crashing 18.5% over the week as the yen continued to strengthen. According to the BOE measure, the trade-weighted yen is now up more than 20% over the past year and back to where it stood three years ago. In the battle for the weakest currency, Japan looks to have thrown in the towel.

Whatever the outcome of the Brexit vote this week investors will still be facing the prospect of negative rates and negative yields on a huge range of bonds, massive corporate leverage with worryingly rising delinquencies and of course expensive equity markets and falling profits. To that extent these political events are a distraction from the main event, weak global economic growth and perverse asset markets. So whilst the market preference for the status quo might be celebrated in the short-term, actually when the fog clears all of the problems will still be there.”

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Forcing companies to raise wages?!

IMF Calls On Japan To ‘Reload’ Abenomics (Nikkei)

Japan needs bolder income policies such as penalizing profitable companies that do not increase wages, the IMF said on Monday after concluding its annual economic assessment of the country. Despite initial success, progress under Abenomics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trademark economic policies, has stalled in recent months. The inflation rate has dropped to negative territory again, while economic growth has remained anemic.The IMF now expects Japan’s economy to grow by about 0.5% in 2016, before slowing to 0.3% in 2017, with potential growth sliding to close to zero by 2030, due to the declining demographic. “Abenomics needs to be reloaded,” the IMF said in its report and argued that income policies combined with labor market reforms should “move to the forefront” of the country’s fight against lagging growth.

“The government can introduce a ‘comply or explain’ mechanism for profitable companies to ensure that they raise base wages by at least 3% and back this up by stronger tax incentives or – as a last resort – penalties,” the IMF wrote. Promoting intermediate contracts that balance job security and wage increases will “reinforce income policies,” it added. “Our perception is that much of the stasis of inflation [in Japan] comes from the legacy, the history of having negative inflation,” said David Lipton, first deputy managing director at the IMF, in a press conference in Tokyo. “Certainly firms have at this point the cash flow and resource at hand to provide some wage increases. There are wage increases evident in a wide range of companies across this economy, so our thought is to suggest that this be a broader practice and that it be more uniform.”

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“..Mr Rajan has been an acerbic critic of zero rates and quantitative easing by the western central banks…”

India’s Rockstar Central Banker Defeated As Modi Revolution Stalls (AEP)

India’s bid to become the ‘economic super-tiger’ of Asia is in serious doubt after an assault on the independence of the central bank and failure to deliver on promised reforms. The country has been the darling of the emerging market universe since the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi swept into power in May 2014 promising a blitz of Thatcherite reform and a bonfire of the diktats, but key changes have been blocked in the legislature. The government has turned increasingly populist. Matters have come to a head with the de facto ouster of Raghuram Rajan, the superstar governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), rebuked for keeping monetary policy too tight. It is part of a pattern of attacks on central banks by politicians across the world, and the latest sign that the glory days of the monetary overlords are waning.

Mr Rajan has been battling criticism for months but threw in the towel over the weekend, sending tremors through the Indian financial markets and provoking a flurry of warnings from global investors. “He has decided not to wait until he is refused a second term,” said Lord Desai from the London School of Economics. “This is ‘Rexit’ – India’s equivalent of ‘Brexit. It looks very bad for India and will not go down well in financial markets. He was defeated by the crony capitalists up against him,” he said. The government has dampened the impact with by relaxing barriers to foreign investment in the country, but it may have underestimated the totemic status of Mr Rajan outside India. He is seen by funds as the guarantor of good practice and market integrity. Mr Rajan is a former chief economist for the IMF, famed for warning that the US subprime debt bubble was out of control long before the Lehman crisis blew up in 2008.

[..] Mr Rajan has been an acerbic critic of zero rates and quantitative easing by the western central banks. He blames them for flooding the international system with excess liquidity that emerging markets could not easily control. This fueled dangerous boom-bust asset cycles. While QE might have ‘worked’ for the US, UK, and Europe – the jury is out even for them – Mr Rajan argues that the policy is a “Pareto sub-optimal” for the world as a whole, and ultimately increases the danger of a deflation-trap in the future. The Fed and the leading central banks of the West have never really answered his critique.

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I was going to say the Empress has no clothes, but I don’t want that image lingering on my retina.

Yellen Makes ‘Uncertainty’ New Mantra (R.)

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s dwindling confidence in its own outlook and resulting confusion among investors are creating a policy problem that may require chief Janet Yellen to lay out her own views more forcefully. The Fed chair’s next communications test comes on Tuesday and Wednesday during her semi-annual testimony to U.S. lawmakers, less than a week after the central bank kept interest rates unchanged near record lows and lowered its projections for hikes in 2017 and 2018. A self-described consensus builder, Yellen sees her job as reflecting the whole committee’s views rather than setting an agenda for others to follow.

“I think that’s a very laudable intent, but sometimes that produces a lack of clarity,” said former Fed staffer and current partner at Cornerstone Macro LLC Roberto Perli. “Sometimes there is a consensus for one reason and then next time there is a consensus for a different reason so the story shifts and people get confused.” In fact, Fed policymakers’ deepening uncertainty about their own projections has resulted in the central bank sending mixed messages – repeatedly ratcheting up rate hike expectations only to tone them down later.

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Important point: “Whatever it takes” was orchestrated specifically to expel any market doubt with regard to the viability and sustainability of European monetary integration.

“Whatever It Takes” Wasn’t Enough (Noland)

Back in 2012, Mario Draghi recognized how even the notion that a country might exit the euro could unleash market dynamics that would rather quickly place Europe’s markets and banking system in peril. “Whatever it takes” was orchestrated specifically to expel any market doubt with regard to the viability and sustainability of European monetary integration. On the back of a wall of liquidity and inflating securities markets, Draghi’s gambit held things together for a few years. That said, the ECB bet the ranch – and was compelled to ante up in response to market instability early this year. The outcome of the game is very much in doubt. While Britain is not even a member of the euro, Brexit provides a test of ECB policymaking. Is Europe robust or fragile?

Has relative financial stability been nothing more than a brittle ECB-fabricated façade? Are the forces mounted against integration and cooperation too powerful to disregard? Is European integration – along with the euro currency – viable long-term? It’s an untimely test, with confidence in Europe’s banks already waning. It’s furthermore an untimely test because of faltering confidence in the ECB and contemporary global central banking more generally. Global market instability has again resurfaced and there will be no resolution next week. The FOMC has confounded Fed watchers with its abrupt pivot back to ultra-dovishness. There shouldn’t be much confusion. Global market fragility has reemerged, and the Fed’s rapid retreat has confirmed the seriousness of what’s unfolding.

Central banks have thrown everything at the problem, yet markets remain as vulnerable as ever. At least the world was not facing the downside of China’s historic Credit Bubble back in 2012. The Fed has never admitted that global concerns have been dictating U.S. monetary policy since 2012. It has now become clear, throwing the analysis of policymaking into disarray. The harsh reality is also increasingly apparent: global monetary management is dysfunctional and central bankers have become perplexed – without a backup plan. Such an uncertain backdrop is pro-currency market instability and pro-de-risking/deleveraging.

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Nobody has a reason to use the yuan.

The World’s Newest “Reserve” Currency Is Anything But (Balding)

Last week’s decision by MSCI not to include Chinese shares in its primary emerging-markets stock index has been viewed – widely and rightly – as a blow to China’s hopes of internationalizing its financial sector. There’s worse news, though: Even the progress China’s made thus far is in danger of going into reverse. MSCI’s choice is a sharp contrast to the one made by the IMF last December, when it promised to begin including the Chinese yuan in its basket of “special drawing rights.” The move essentially conferred global reserve status on the currency, despite the fact that China arguably didn’t meet the conditions for inclusion: It was debatable whether the yuan could be considered “freely usable,” and in any case, it was hardly used. At its peak in August 2015, the yuan accounted for 2.79% of global payments, compared to 44.8% for the U.S. dollar.

The idea was that compromising now would encourage leaders in China to fulfill their pledges to liberalize the yuan fully by 2020. In fact, since the IMF’s decision, the yuan has if anything grown less international, not more. Since March 2015, yuan deposits in the three largest offshore centers – Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore – have fallen 16%, to a total of 1.24 trillion yuan or about $188 billion. The currency is being used in even fewer international transactions than before: Its share of global payments stood at 1.82% in April 2016. The fact that only a quarter of those international payments included a partner other than China or Hong Kong means that only about 0.5% of all yuan transactions are truly international in scope. This places the currency somewhere between those of Scandinavian powerhouses Norway and Denmark.

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Absolutely completely madness. The casino keeps adding new slot machines and crap tables.

China’s Developers Can’t Stop Overpaying for Property (WSJ)

If the cost of flour is higher than the price of bread, what should a baker do? Chinese property developers are choosing to buy more flour. Prices for land, the main ingredient of the property world, have hit record highs in auctions this year in many Chinese cities. The average land price per square meter for the top 100 cities in the first five months of this year jumped nearly 50% from the same period last year, according to Wind Information. Some land prices are even higher than housing prices nearby.

State-owned developer Poly Real Estate, for instance, bought a piece of land in a Shanghai suburb for 5.5 billion yuan ($835.5 million) last month. This translates to roughly 44,000 yuan per square meter of buildable space. Houses in the region meanwhile go for around 40,000 yuan per square meter. After taking into account construction costs, taxes and other expenses, property prices would have to nearly double for the developer to make money. Prime land in the biggest cities always costs a lot, but increasingly the voracious buyers are showing up in less prime locations and smaller cities. In Suzhou, a city near Shanghai, with a population of 1.1 million, land sales in the first five months of this year have already exceeded the total of last year. And average prices have doubled.

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It’s the same they do with raw materials: “..After winning an auction, financial firms with access to cheap funding can apply for a loan with the land as collateral..”

China’s ‘Land Kings’ Return as Housing Prices Rise (WSJ)

The “land kings” are back. That had been a nickname for Chinese developers paying sky-high prices for land parcels during China’s property boom earlier this decade, which left so-called ghost cities of unsold housing across China. Now, with housing prices in China’s larger cities again rising rapidly, frothy bids for land parcels are back. On June 8, Logan Property Holdings agreed to pay 14.1 billion yuan ($2.14 billion) for a piece of land in Shenzhen’s Guangming district, the largest-ever price tag in the southern Chinese city. Logan says it didn’t overpay, calling the price “relatively favorable” in a hot market. Earlier in June, a joint venture between two firms, one of which is backed by state-owned Power Construction Corp. of China, outbid 17 rivals with an 8.3 billion yuan offer for a plot in Shenzhen’s Longhua district.

The soaring land prices show the challenges facing the government as it tries to prevent property bubbles. Moves to stimulate China’s slowing economy and to trim excess housing in smaller cities across the country—such as interest-rate cuts and eased mortgage rules—have fed into speculative demand for homes in top-tier cities that are now scrambling to cool prices. Average housing prices in 70 Chinese cities were about 5% higher in May than a year earlier, the fifth straight month of increases. In top-tier cities, prices were up 19% to 53%. But land prices are shooting up not just in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, but also in lower-profile cities such as Hangzhou, Hefei and Zhengzhou. Officials face a dilemma in trying to tame land prices: Land is commonly used as debt collateral; a sharp drop in valuation could trigger defaults and produce a wave of bad loans, hurting the economy. On the other hand, runaway land prices make it harder for ordinary Chinese to afford apartments.

[..] There is also concern that financial firms with little experience as builders are viewing land as an opportunity for arbitrage. After winning an auction, financial firms with access to cheap funding can apply for a loan with the land as collateral, and use that to extend a construction loan at a higher rate to a partner, which is typically a property developer.

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“Like an oil lease, you’re easily disposable..”

Energy-Related Loan Losses Rising (B.)

“Like an oil lease, you’re easily disposable,” the villainous J.R. Ewing quipped to his beauty queen wife in the 1970s television series Dallas. Readers of the latest edition of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’s quarterly southwest economy publication might want to keep that quote in mind. News from the oil patch — the 11th Fed district that encompasses the shale heartland — is not encouraging, as it reveals a sharper rise in souring energy-related loans. “The persistence of relatively low oil prices has begun taking a toll on district bank customers,” the Dallas Fed said in its report.

“Oil-price hedges become less effective the longer prices stay low, and the cushion built by energy firms during the good times gets thinner. Cash flow becomes stretched and collateral loses its value, further pressuring borrowers.” That forces them closer to default unless banks are able to keep their lending spigots open. Many of these loans fall under the umbrella of commercial and industrial (C&I) lending — a category which has been surging in conjunction with commercial real estate (CRE) lending in recent years. While regulators have kept a somewhat lazy eye on rising CRE loans since even before the 2008 financial crisis (and certainly after it), the boom in C&I lending has been met with far less scrutiny — resulting in charts which look like this:

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“..millions of electric customers in Southern California were warned they could suffer power outages of up to 14 days this summer..”

California Power Grid Prepares For Heatwave, Power Outages (R.)

California will have its first test of plans to keep the lights on this summer following the shutdown of the key Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility as temperatures in the Los Angeles area are forecast to hit triple digits this week. With record-setting heat and air conditioning demand expected in Southern California, the state’s power grid operator issued a so-called “flex alert,” urging consumers to conserve energy to help prevent rotating power outages – which could occur regardless. Electricity demand is expected to rise during the unseasonable heatwave on Monday and Tuesday, with forecast system-wide use expected to top 45,000 megawatts, said the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages electricity flow through the state.

That compares with a peak demand of 47,358 MW last year and the all-time high of 50,270 MW set in July 2006. That could put stress on the power grid, particularly with the shut-in of Aliso Canyon, following a massive leak at the underground storage facility in October. The facility, in the San Fernando Valley, is the second largest storage field in the western United States, according to federal data, and therefore crucial for power generation. All customers, including homes, hospitals, oil refineries and airports are at risk of losing power at some point this summer because a majority of electric generating stations in California use gas as their primary fuel. In April, millions of electric customers in Southern California were warned they could suffer power outages of up to 14 days this summer due to the closure.

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“The Border Force Act gives the Australian government the power to jail, for up to two years, anybody employed by the department..”

Australia Whistleblower Loses Job After Speaking Out On Refugee Camps (G.)

The trauma specialist who condemned the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia’s offshore detention regime as the worst “atrocity” he has seen has had his contract to work on Nauru terminated. Psychologist Paul Stevenson, whom the Australian government awarded an Order of Australia for his work counselling victims of the Bali bombings, had undertaken 14 deployments to Nauru and to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. He was due to return to Nauru on Thursday. But after he spoke publicly to the Guardian about his experiences working within Australia’s offshore detention regime – describing conditions in the camps as “demoralising … and desperate” – he was told his contract had been summarily cancelled.

PsyCare, the company through which he was employed to provide counselling to guards working in offshore detention, informed him by email his employment had been terminated. Stevenson said the news was not unexpected. “But the public needs to hear about the consequences people face for speaking out, and to understand the level they go to in minimising access.” [..] The Border Force Act gives the Australian government the power to jail, for up to two years, anybody employed by the department or its contractors who speaks publicly about conditions inside the offshore detention regime, including doctors advocating for better healthcare, or other workers exposing sexual and physical abuse of detainees.

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