Aug 132023
 
 August 13, 2023  Posted by at 9:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  48 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Beach at Scheveningen in Stormy Weather 1882

 

Comer Ready To Subpoena Bidens’ Phone, Bank Records, Grant Immunity (JTN)
Prosecutors Want To Interview Joe Biden In Classified Memos Case (JTN)
Comer, Jordan Slam Hunter Biden Special Counsel ‘Coverup’ (ZH)
Now THAT Is Ridiculous (Denninger)
Appeals Court Judges Compare Biden Social Media Pressure To Mafia (JTN)
Congress Probing FBI Collection Of J6 Phone Location Data (JTN)
F-16 Training For Ukrainian Pilots Barely Getting Off the Runway (Sp.)
Russia Committed To Principle Of Inadmissibility Of Nuclear War (TASS)
Ray McGovern Has Never Been More Scared of Nuclear Catastrophe (SP)
US-Led NATO Drowns Ukraine in a Bloodbath (SCF)
US and NATO Arms Industries Hit Record $400 Billion in Sales (SCF)
Italy Launches $550 Million Airbnb Case (RT)

 

 

 

 

Greenwald

 

 

Devine

 

 

 

 

Schweizer

 

 

How much longer can the wagons protect them?

 

 

Event 201

 

 

 

 

“We’re getting closer every day to showing that Joe Biden was the ringleader in this, not Hunter Biden..”

Comer Ready To Subpoena Bidens’ Phone, Bank Records, Grant Immunity (JTN)

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer on Friday night pointedly dismissed the appointment of a special counsel in the Hunter Biden criminal probe as “another maneuver… to obstruct” Congress and vowed to escalate his investigation by subpoenaing Hunter and Joe Biden’s phone and bank records and offering witnesses immunity. “We’re getting closer every day to showing that Joe Biden was the ringleader in this, not Hunter Biden,” Comer said in an exclusive interview with the “Just the News, No Noise” television show just hours after Attorney General Merrick Garland shocked Washington by announcing that he was upgrading Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss to a special counsel after four years of investigating the Biden family finances.

Comer dismissed Garland’s decision as ineffective, noting Weiss had years to bring serious charges and instead managed to construct a plea deal that spared Hunter Biden prison for tax evasion and gun charges that even the trial judge could not accept. “It’s another maneuver by the Justice Department to obstruct our investigation. I find it odd that, the day after I announced that we had put together a case that would win in court to subpoena Joe Biden’s personal bank records, then lo and behold, Merrick Garland strikes again,” Comer said.

“I assumed he would try to indict Trump or something. But no, he appoints a special counsel and he appoint the same person who had supposedly been investigating Hunter Biden for years, who let the statute of limitations expire on all of his obvious tax crimes, who tried to negotiate a sweetheart plea deal that led him off scot free. And less than two weeks later, after a judge rejects that sweetheart plea deal, Merrick Garland appointed special counsel for the sole purpose to obstruct our credible, effective oversight House investigation of Biden corruption.” Comer said he is now prepared to subpoena the credit card and bank records of the president and his son as well as their phone records to check witness allegations that Joe Biden got financial benefit from Hunter Biden’s clients and talked and met with them at various times.

“We’re at the point to where we put together a case where we have emails, we have text messages, we have pictures, we have bank records. Now we have sworn testimony from associates like Devon Archer. We are ready now to be able to subpoena the personal bank records of the Bidens,” he said. “What we’ve got now are their shady shell company. Now, we need the personal records,” he said. “Because when we show… that chart that shows China and Romania and Russia and the arrows go into shell companies and into the Biden’s family, we think there may be another arrow beyond the Biden family. And that would go to Joe Biden himself. And that’s what people have told us. That’s what the emails suggest. And that’s what we’re trying to determine now. And that’s where our investigation is headed.”

[..] “We’re going to continue to exercise our subpoena power. Hopefully, when we move to impeachment inquiry, that’ll be able to give us tools like granting immunity,” he explained. “If we could grant immunity. I think people like Devon Archer would have would have said a whole lot more. I think people like Eric Sherwood would tell a lot of things that that the Bidens have done that we know they’ve done, that everyone in America knows they’ve done.”

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Robert Hur? Almost forgot about him.

Prosecutors Want To Interview Joe Biden In Classified Memos Case (JTN)

Special Counsel Robert Hur wants to interview Joe Biden in his classified memos investigation, and the president’s attorneys have been in negotiations for about a month. Hur was appointed last January, two months after special counsel Jack Smith was appointed to investigate former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to NBC News. The issues being negotiated include the time and place of the interview, as well as the scope of the questions. The reporting on this suggests that the investigation has a way to go before wrapping up, but “an interview with the person at the center of an investigation typically takes place near the end of the process,” according to NBC.


While most of the classified documents found starting in November of last year were related to Biden’s time as vice president, some went as far back as when he was a U.S. senator from Delaware. They were found in his office in Washington at the Penn Biden Center, at a second office of the Penn Biden Center in the Chinatown area of Washington, D.C. and at his home in Wilmington, Del. Trump was indicted on 37 counts based on seven charges in June in his classified documents investigation. One such charge was for a violation of the Espionage Act. Based on current polling, both Trump and Biden are well ahead in their races to be the nominees of their respective parties, setting up a 2024 rematch of the 2020 election for president.

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When the Weiss-negotiated Hunter plea deal was thrown out, Garland made Weiss a special counsel. What links the two moves is that both are designed to keep all information under wraps.

Garland and Weiss must know this will not be accepted -it’s against the law-, but they entered it on Friday, so they have a whole weekend in which Weiss is able to manipulate even more files than in his previous position.

Paul SPERRY: “By suddenly acquiring special counsel status, Hill investigators say embattled prosecutor David Weiss can now avoid testifying next month before the House Judiciary Committee and face grilling over reports he helped obstruct a broader investigation into Hunter Biden..”

Jack Posobiec: “The appointment of Weiss as a ‘Special Counsel’ allows the Biden DOJ to keep the investigation open indefinitely and stall all House requests for information to coverup the Biden family corruption ring..”

Comer, Jordan Slam Hunter Biden Special Counsel ‘Coverup’ (ZH)

The Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, James Comer (R-KY) said in a Friday statement that the announcement of a special counsel in the Hunter Biden investigation is a DOJ “coverup.” “This move by Attorney General Garland is part of the Justice Department’s efforts to attempt a Biden family coverup in light of the House Oversight Committee’s mounting evidence of President Joe Biden’s role in his family’s schemes selling ‘the brand’ for millions of dollars to foreign nationals,” Comer said in a lengthy statement shortly after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of US Attorney David Weiss as special counsel, the Daily Caller reports.

“The Justice Department’s misconduct and politicization in the Biden criminal investigation already allowed the statute of limitations to run with respect to egregious felonies committed by Hunter Biden. Justice Department officials refused to follow evidence that could have led to Joe Biden, tipped off the Biden transition team and Hunter Biden’s lawyers about planned interviews and searches, and attempted to sneakily place Hunter Biden on the path to a sweetheart plea deal,” the statement continues.

“Let’s be clear what today’s move is really about. The Biden Justice Department is trying to stonewall congressional oversight as we have presented evidence to the American people about the Biden family’s corruption. The House Oversight Committee will continue to follow the Biden family’s money trail and interview witnesses to determine whether foreign actors targeted the Bidens, President Biden is compromised and corrupt, and our national security is threatened. We will also continue to work with the House Committees on Judiciary and Ways and Means to root out misconduct at the Justice Department and hold bad actors accountable for weaponizing law enforcement powers,” Comer continued.

House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan (R-OH) conveyed similar sentiments, telling the Caller: “David Weiss can’t be trusted and this is just a new way to whitewash the Biden family’s corruption. Weiss has already signed off on a sweetheart plea deal that was so awful and unfair that a federal judge rejected it. We will continue to pursue facts brought to light by brave whistleblowers as well as Weiss’s inconsistent statements to Congress.” According to Garland, “The appointment of Mr. Weiss reinforces for the American people the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters,” adding “I am confident that Mr. Weiss will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner, and in accordance with the highest traditions of this department.” We’re sure he’s quite confident.

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Denninger’s not the only one who noticed this bit: “Durham’s appointment was invalid for the same reason — remember that? Where was the screaming then?”

NOTE: Durham’s probe also took 5 years or so. And what was the result?

Now THAT Is Ridiculous (Denninger)

There is a point that the in-your-face fraud reaches where one must that there is no longer a functional law enforcement capacity within a part of the government. In this case that’s the entire Federal government, as this is the DOJ itself and the AG of the nation, Garland: “Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss a special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe, as well as any other matters that arose or may arise from that investigation.” Weiss is the US Attorney who presented a negotiated plea agreement to the judge over Hunter’s conduct that the judge rejected as it appeared to have included terms intended to mislead both the court and the justice system generally. She sent that back, correctly flagging two provisions including an apparent undisclosed immunity deal that was out-of-scope of the charges that were negotiated.

This is flat-out improper and what’s worse is that it appeared both Weiss and Biden’s defense counsel colluded to place said terms in an addendum that was not disclosed in advance of the hearing to the judge which was clearly intended to keep her from knowing about it until, they hoped, she’s signed off on it. Further there are allegations that Biden’s counsel attempted to tamper with the evidentiary chain by trying to represent themselves as being related to counsel for parties that filed other briefs and have them either sealed or stricken from the record entirely. There was quite a tap-dance around that (as its a crazy-level breach of ethics, a violation of the duties of an officer of the court, as all counsel are, and also arguably criminal fraudulent misrepresentation) but as far as I know there hasn’t (yet anyway) been any serious consequences — although the judge was clearly inclined to hammer the responsible parties for very good cause.

That alone is enough to drag Garland out of office by his hair. But there’s more: The appointment appears to be facially-illegal and Garland knows damn well that it is. “(a) An individual named as Special Counsel shall be a lawyer with a reputation for integrity and impartial decision making, and with appropriate experience to ensure both that the investigation will be conducted ably, expeditiously and thoroughly, and that investigative and prosecutorial decisions will be supported by an informed understanding of the criminal law and Department of Justice policies. The Special Counsel shall be selected from outside the United States Government.”

Weiss cannot be appointed to this position as he is a sitting US Attorney! It is explicitly unlawful under the CFRs for Garland to appoint him — or any other sitting US Attorney. By definition a “Special Counsel” must not be a person inside the US Government; that’s the entire point of a Special Counsel! This act by Garland is not only impeachable it is void as Weiss is not qualified and thus the appointment is an open, public, in-your-face fraud. Where does this leave us as Americans? Nowhere good — and at some point we, as Americans, are going to have to deal with this problem whether we like it or not. PS: BTW Durham’s appointment was invalid for the same reason — remember that? Where was the screaming then?

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“..this is a really nice social media platform you’ve got there, would be a shame if something happened to it..”

Appeals Court Judges Compare Biden Social Media Pressure To Mafia (JTN)

Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod declared in court that the Biden administration’s efforts to persuade social media companies to remove, throttle and suppress purported misinformation on COVID-19, Hunter Biden’s laptop and elections reminded her of a mafia movie. That was just one of the most memorable examples of the frosty reception Justice Department Civil Division lawyer Daniel Tenny received Thursday from the three-judge panel considering whether to lift or modify last month’s ban on several forms of contact between the feds and companies — currently stayed by the 5th Circuit — as the First Amendment lawsuit led by Missouri and Louisiana proceeds. The back-and-forth at Thursday’s hearing resembled that between 6th Circuit judges and DOJ’s lawyer at a June hearing in a related social media censorship lawsuit against federal officials by users of X, formerly known as Twitter.

Both panels were appointed by Republican presidents. Echoing the injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, the 5th Circuit judges repeatedly cited specific conversations from the factual record that suggest social media companies feared legal consequences for not complying with White House and agency requests to censor or diminish the reach of websites or social media postings of which the Biden administration disapproved. When Tenny claimed the injunction’s wording was so broad and vague it could ban the government from alerting the public about “untrue statements” about a natural disaster, Judge Don Willett countered that documented private conversations were the issue. Federal officials appeared to practice “fairly unsubtle strong-arming” and make “not-so-veiled threats” in the vein of “this is a really nice social media platform you’ve got there, would be a shame if something happened to it,” Willett said.

Tenny, upon hearing what the judges appeared to be interpreting as coercive pressure, tried to soft pedal the severity of that pressure. “The government is generically going to be angry” when companies resist taking action, but the communications show officials and companies alternating between “friendly” and “testy” conversations, not specific orders to comply “or else.” Judge Elrod didn’t seem particularly convinced, telling Tenny that “Or else” isn’t required when the government and companies have a “very close working relationship” that resembles a supervisor addressing a subordinate. The “irate messages” actually show high-ranking officials badgering counterparts about why they hadn’t taken action against specific accounts as requested, Judge Elrod said: “It’s like ‘jump and how high.'”

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“..you can’t just have the government sweep up everything about you trying to find out if you did something wrong.”

Congress Probing FBI Collection Of J6 Phone Location Data (JTN)

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday launched a broad inquiry into the FBI’s use of “geofence warrants” to sweep up large buckets of Americans cell phone location data, a relatively new tool that is raising questions about search and seizure powers that date all the way back to the country’s founding, The tactic came to prominence during the Jan. 6 riot investigation when it was revealed more than 5,000 American phone devices had location data gathered by the FBI in a digital dragnet designed to identify anyone who was in or near the U.S. Capitol that fateful day. That geofence warrant plus revelations that the FBI accepted bank records volunteered by a major bank without seeking a warrant or subpoena have trigged concerns of both liberals and conservatives of a modern-day end run around the 4th Amendment.

“The use of geofence warrants raises serious Constitutional concerns,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Jordan wrote Attorney General Merrick Garland in a letter Thursday announcing the congressional inquiry. “First, location history data is not an exact science as the geo-location data represents only a probable estimation of a device’s location within a given radius and margin of error. Second, a geofence warrant is inherently tied to a specific location—not a known suspect, user, account, or crime. “For that reason, among others, courts have wavered on whether searches pursuant to geofence warrants comply with the Fourth Amendment’s requirements of probable cause and particularity,” Jordan added.

In an interview with Just the News, Jordan said the geofence warrant inquiry was part of a larger effort to help Congress modernize civil liberty protections in an era of unprecedented digital surveillance and technological data gathering that also includes bank records and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that was abused during the Russia collusion scandal. “We know that regarding Jan. 6, a couple years ago that the FBI was looking to get your your phone data location, where you were in relation to the Capitol, were you around the Capitol,” Jordan told the John Solomon Reports podcast. “And it was just sort of this blanket approach No predicate to say you know Sally Smith, or John Jones was here. We have reasonable belief they did this. We’d like to know we want to double check that. Nothing like that. Just a blanket.

“And then you couple this with what we learned from a testimony from a whistleblower at the FBI, a few months back, where Bank of America just turned over their customers debit card and credit card purchases in the DC area around Jan. 6 2021. I mean, this is scary stuff,” he added. “It’s so contrary to the principles that our country was founded on. Like, you can’t just have the government sweep up everything about you trying to find out if you did something wrong. That’s not how our system works. “But it sure looks like that’s what’s happening in modern day America, particularly with this Biden administration.”

Jordan’s letter raised a second concern that geo-fence warrants may have been “weaponized for political ends” by the Justice Department, approved against conservatives and Trump protesters but not against liberal activists from the 2020 George Floyd riots. “Federal law enforcement’s interest in geofenced data appears selective,” he wrote. “For example, in 2020, Minnesota police sought a geofence warrant to investigate violent rioting in Minneapolis and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) used geofence warrants to investigate arson throughout Kenosha, Wisconsin. However, it seems that the FBI did not pursue geofenced data to investigate the violent crime occurring at federal facilities during a similar time frame. “In contrast, the FBI readily used geofencing at an unprecedented scope and scale as a part of its investigation and prosecution of the events of January 6, 2021,” he added.

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They need to learn English first.

F-16 Training For Ukrainian Pilots Barely Getting Off the Runway (Sp.)

Kiev might be clamoring for American-made F-16s amid its faltering counteroffensive, but the first Ukrainian pilots to undergo training on the fighter jets most likely will not be ready to fly them until next summer, according to a US report. A mere handful of six pilots will undergo the first round of instruction, with two other pilots picked as reserve candidates, according to cited senior Ukrainian government and military officials. However, this first group of pilots is not expected to wrap up training anytime soon, sources acknowledged to the outlet. The officials reportedly bemoaned delays by their Western patrons in implementing the instruction program. None of the previously touted “game-changing weapons” funneled from the West have made much impact on the catastrophically slow pace of Ukraine’s ground forces fighting in the ongoing NATO-Russia proxy war.

So begging for the multi-role US fighters to be added to the mix has become Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s mantra of late. While Kiev may have banked on its pilots being ready to fly the single-engine craft, which debuted in the 1970s and has been updated repeatedly, by as early as September, that appears to have been wishful thinking. While sending Patriot missile system, NASAMS, HIMARS, Bradley fighting vehicles, Leopard II tanks, depleted uranium shells, and, more recently, cluster bombs, to Ukraine, President Joe Biden spent close to a year denying Ukrainian appeals for F-16s. He backtracked as the special military operation continued, saying in May that he would green light training Ukrainian pilots on US-made jets, and supported the transfer of the combat planes by other countries. Eleven NATO countries pledged to support the training, expected to primarily take place in Denmark, Romania, and the Netherlands.

After the start of training was pushed back several times, officials were now cited as saying the effort was only gradually getting off the ground. There had previously been reports that the training had hit a major snag due to the language barrier. Now, the outlet said that even though the selected Ukrainian pilots were already fluent in English, at least four months of special English lessons in Britain were required for them to grasp the terminology associated with the F-16s. To complicate matters further, the language instruction for pilots is to take place simultaneously with lessons for Ukraine’s ground staff – suggested as being less proficient in English. The reason for this was because Denmark had allegedly demanded that entire crews be sent together to train.

The language hurdle is believed to have pushed back the beginning of actual combat training, anticipated to take six months, as far as to January, sources said. As for the second batch of pilots, ostensibly of the same size, they might be nowhere near ready to fly F-16s until the end of next year. It was added that 20 more Ukrainian pilots were currently ready for English-language training. “This is called dragging it out,” a Ukrainian official was quoted as fuming. However, the sources revealed that they feared railing openly against their US and European “benefactors” lest they “appear ungrateful.”

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“Our opponents know these provisions perfectly well..”

Russia Committed To Principle Of Inadmissibility Of Nuclear War (TASS)

Russia is taking all necessary measures to guarantee national security but is firmly committed to the principle of the inadmissibility of a nuclear war, the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday, commenting on the decisions made by Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States to not target strategic nuclear missiles. “The leadership of our country is firmly committed to the principle of the inadmissibility of a nuclear war. We proceed from the fact that there can be no winner in such a war and that it must not be unleashed,” the ministry said. “Russia is taking all necessary measures to ensure its national security, territorial integrity and sovereignty. And it will continue to do so.” According to the ministry, preventing a potential act of aggression against Russia and its allies “is among its highest state priorities.”

The ministry noted that the situation in the sphere of international security and strategic stability is degrading and “discussions about the expediency of measures on not targeting strategic nuclear forces, which have been in place between Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States since the early 1990s, have visibly invigorated.” “Calls are being heard to denounce the relevant agreements in which Russia takes part, “trigger a mechanism of nuclear deterrence,” and aim Russian missiles at the United States and the United Kingdom,” the ministry said. It recalled that on January 14, 1994, Russia and the United States signed the Moscow declaration, where the sides agreed not to aim strategic nuclear missiles at each other. A similar agreement with London was signed on February 15, 1994.

“These are political agreements and impose no legal obligations on the sides. Since they are not international treaties as defined in the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties of 1969, the procedure of their termination of denunciation is not regulated by international law,” the ministry said. “As for triggering the nuclear deterrence mechanism, in line with the provisions of the fundamentals of Russia’s state policy in the sphere of nuclear deterrence that were endorsed by the Russian presidential decree of June 2, 2020 No355, nuclear deterrence is carried out permanently with respect to certain states and military coalitions (blocs, unions) which view Russia as a potential enemy and possess nuclear weapons and/or other types of weapons of mass destruction or a considerable combat potential of conventional forces. One of the principles of nuclear deterrence is maintaining a certain part of forces and nuclear deterrence means on permanent combat alert. Our opponents know these provisions perfectly well,” the ministry stressed.

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“Sullivan, Blinken, Nuland… They have the reins of power and they’re telling Biden what to do. They have a sense of unreality that they can prevail. ”

Ray McGovern Has Never Been More Scared of Nuclear Catastrophe (SP)

A retired CIA expert on Russia and rare voice of reason coming from the bowels of the American deep state, Ray McGovern joins host Robert Scheer on another edition of the Scheer Intelligence podcast. With world peace, nuclear weapon prudence and film critique on the agenda, McGovern and Scheer delve into a host of relevant issues stemming from the war in Ukraine and the history behind it. From Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” to CNN’s strange truthful broadcast on Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the old boys from the Bronx prod each other’s encyclopedic minds to try and make sense of the state of the world.

While mixed opinions over the atomic bomb film fill the first segment of the episode, the conversation seems to always make its way back to the importance of potential nuclear war on the horizon. As McGovern said, “I spent six decades, count them, six decades following Soviet and now Russian policy. Most of that time professionally and now… really just as intently and I have never, never had so much fear that we are on the cusp of a nuclear catastrophe.” McGovern, an adviser to seven presidents, also dives into the motivations and ramifications of such reckless foreign policy decisions, made by people who supposedly check all the qualification boxes:

“Sullivan, Blinken, Nuland… They have the reins of power and they’re telling Biden what to do. They have a sense of unreality that they can prevail. That was very clear at their first major foreign policy adventure, where the Chinese were kind enough to come to Anchorage, Alaska and they were treated like the British imperialists treated the Chinese on the Yangtze River two centuries ago!” In the end, it is the citizens back home as well as the soldiers on the front lines who get dealt a bad hand from these decisions. McGovern points out the bleak realities of what these aid packages to countries like Ukraine really mean to all parties involved. The most sinister part being how it happens in front of people without them even knowing and that is by design, courtesy of McGovern’s famously coined military, industrial, congressional, intelligence, media, academia, think tank (MICIMATT) complex.

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SCF op-ed last week.

US-Led NATO Drowns Ukraine in a Bloodbath (SCF)

New figures indicate the Ukrainian military death toll is at least 400,000 after 500 days of conflict. The real figure may actually surpass 500,000. This is much greater than previously estimated, which was already dreadful. Yet, Washington incoherently keeps pushing the failed counteroffensive to the “last Ukrainian”. This bloodbath is an obscenity, a vast imperial crime, with no effort at all by the U.S. and European leaders to sue for peace. Crudely put, war is a racket and the warmongers make a packet. Not surprisingly, the actual casualty figures suffered by the Kiev regime’s military are a closely guarded secret. The NATO sponsors are also keeping a tight lip on the ghoulish losses because to do so would be an admission of the abysmal failure of their proxy war against Russia, and that would entail incurring an almighty political backlash from the Western public. Therein lies a diabolical Catch-22.

Nevertheless, despite the best efforts to conceal the carnage, up to recently several independent observers had estimated the death toll for the Ukrainian forces to be around 250,000 to 300,000 since the conflict erupted on February 24, 2022. Russian military casualties have been put at about 10 percent of those inflicted on the Ukrainian side. New data this week, however, indicate the scale of losses for the NATO-backed Kiev regime to be much higher. Satellite imagery cited by Intel Republic’s Telegram channel of newly dug cemeteries in Ukrainian territory suggests that at least 400,000 military personnel have died in battles with Russian forces. The graves presume individual bodies buried. In addition, not recorded are the countless dead who have been obliterated on battlefields or left to rot by Kiev regime commanders.

Another measure is gleaned from grim reports this week in the U.S. media that there have been 50,000 amputees among Ukrainian soldiers, according to the supply of prosthetic limbs from German manufacturers. Extrapolation from that figure of casualties corroborates the far higher estimate of war dead. Consequently, in light of the amputee numbers, comparisons have been made even by the U.S. media with the level of attrition seen during World War One. The latter is notorious for its horrendous and senseless slaughter of men. The comparisons are correct but strangely glided over by the U.S. media without dwelling on what should be compelling abhorrence towards the violence. If the battles in Ukraine have been previously called a “meat grinder”, then it would be accurate to refer to the country more as a bloodbath.

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SCF op-ed this week.

US and NATO Arms Industries Hit Record $400 Billion in Sales (SCF)

Western weapons manufacturers are popping champagne corks over record sales with total revenues hitting $400 billion for last year. According to media reports, this coming year-end will see that record figure exceeded by another salivating $50 billion. Ukraine may be resembling a bloodbath, as we noted in last week’s editorial. But apparently, Western military corporations are swimming in a bonanza of profits and stock market investments. Most of this lucrative new business stems from NATO’s proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, which is heading toward its second year. There is no sign of a diplomatic effort from the West or the Kiev regime it sponsors to end the bloodshed.

The main corporate beneficiaries making a financial killing from Ukraine are by far the American firms. They include such behemoths as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and RTX (formerly Raytheon). But also enjoying soaring profits are arms makers in other NATO countries: BAE in the United Kingdom, Airbus in France, Netherlands and Spain, Leonardo in Italy, and Germany’s Rheinmetall. This week the Joe Biden administration requested another $24 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded aid to Ukraine. It’s hard to keep track of the money flowing from NATO countries to prop up the Nazi regime in Kiev. Even the NATO authorities don’t seem to know the precise figures, such is the rampant corruption that is inevitably associated with the vast doling of funds. But estimates of total U.S. and NATO aid to Ukraine range from $150 billion to $200 billion over the past year alone.

What we are seeing is an audacious racket whereby the American and European public are subsidizing the funneling of their own taxpayers’ money into the coffers of weapons firms. And there is no democratic choice in the matter. It’s a fait accompli. Or, put another way, extortion. Of course, too, part of this huge scam is the hefty financial cuts for the inner circle of the Kiev regime, including its puppet president, Vladimir Zelensky, and the brazenly sleazy defense chief Aleksy Reznikov. It is reckoned that at least $400 million has been grafted by the top members of the regime from the arms bazaar flowing into Ukraine. Reznikov has even boasted that his country serves as a testing ground for NATO weaponry.

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“.. the company will have the right to sue hosts who have not paid the tax, and thus raise the funds to pay the government bill..”

Italy Launches $550 Million Airbnb Case (RT)

Italian authorities have accused US-based online accommodation booking firm Airbnb of not paying roughly €500 million ($547 million) in taxes, national news outlet Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Friday. A probe has been launched by Italy’s Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate), a government body that enforces financial laws and collects taxes, according to the outlet. Italian legislation governing short-term rental platforms states that professional landlords that lease accommodation must pay a 21% flat-rate tax on income they receive from rentals. In cases with non-professional hosts, or property owners for whom rentals are not the main source of income, platforms such as Airbnb have to act as agents and withhold the tax from transactions, before turning it over to the authorities.

Non-professional hosts make up the majority of Airbnb offers. The platform has repeatedly tried to contest the Italian legislation, but has so far failed. The EU Court of Justice ruled in December last year that the Italian law does not contradict broader EU legislation, effectively giving Italy the green light to demand the tax from the platform. According to the report, Airbnb has been negotiating with the Italian Revenue Agency for months to identify the exact group of hosts for whom the company should act as a tax agent. The final bill will depend on the number of non-professional hosts that Airbnb represents, the news outlet noted. Analysts have warned that after Airbnb and Italy’s tax authorities come to an understanding, the company will have the right to sue hosts who have not paid the tax, and thus raise the funds to pay the government bill.

If the estimations are correct, the €500 million settlement will be the second-highest figure ever requested by Italy from an internet company, following the €870 million it demanded from Meta platforms. The multinational owner of Facebook and Instagram was accused of failing to pay VAT in the country earlier this year. In the last ten years, Italy’s authorities have stepped up efforts to battle tax evasion and have collected nearly €3 billion from multinationals that initially failed to pay tax, according to Il Sole 24 Ore. Over €800 million was collectively paid by internet giants Apple, Google, Meta, PayPal, and Netflix.

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3D

 

 

Draco

 

 

Mandarin duck
https://twitter.com/i/status/1690472670700175361

 

 

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Jun 032023
 


Paul Klee Hammamet with Its Mosque 1914

 

NATO’s Big Gamble In Ukraine Has Failed (Zorawar Daulet Singh)
Blinken Dismisses Calls for a Ceasefire: Build Up Ukraine’s Military (Antiwar)
Ukrainian Counteroffensive Would Turn Into ‘Bloodbath’ – Orban (RT)
Orban Delighted At Erdogan’s Victory Over ‘Soros’ Man’ (RT)
Orban Warns Hungary Will Never Fight Russia (RT)
Zelensky Talks Peace Summit With Scholz (RT)
Europe Suffers Sharp Munitions Deficit Due To Military Aid Largesse (TASS)
Russian Oil Giant’s Profits Soar Amid Sanctions (RT)
Moscow, Kiev, EU Seeking Peaceful Solution To Ukraine Crisis – Special Envoy (TASS)
China Special Envoy Urges Europe To Ponder Causes Of Ukrainian Conflict (TASS)
Propaganda Perverts Reality In The Minds Of Americans (Scott Ritter)
Who Can You Trust? (Jim Kunstler)
FBI Relents, Agrees To Deliver Subpoenaed Memo Alleging Biden Bribery (JTN)
China Has Tamed The World’s Most Powerful Explosive- Military Scientists (SCMP)
Woke Twitter Employees Exit In Fallout Over What Is A Woman Censorship (Rebel)

 

 

 

 

Sandbags
https://twitter.com/i/status/1664815151256674304

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden laptop

 

 

The Friends of BRICS, a preamble to BRICS+

Cape Town
https://twitter.com/i/status/1664657498668781570

 

 

 

 

BBee Musk

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from India. Zorawar Daulet Singh is an award winning author and strategic affairs expert based in New Delhi.

NATO’s Big Gamble In Ukraine Has Failed (Zorawar Daulet Singh)

Fifteen months into the biggest land war in Eurasia since the Second World War, the tables have turned. US and NATO began with a confidence that a proxy war was the only way to roll back Russian influence in Europe. It was aimed to cut Russia down to size and snuff out the incipient multipolar order. On paper it was an ingenious, if diabolical, strategy. Ukrainian blood and NATO weapons would be more than a match for Russia. At the very least, western policymakers surmised, Russia would be bogged down in another protracted ‘Afghanistan’ or ‘Vietnam’ for years, while America would swoop across the world as a rejuvenated superpower. The opposite has occurred. On every front in this proxy war – it is more apt to classify the conflict as a limited great power war – US goals have fallen short.

The US’s Weak Hand The international community has stayed scrupulously away from lining up behind the West. Other than its loyal G-6 states in tow, Washington has witnessed a resounding rejection of NATO’s plan to demonise and contain Russia. The Global South has instead discovered an opportunity to advance their own interests and embrace a multipolar world order where weaker states can henceforth bargain for better deals with the major players. India’s foreign policy exemplifies this trend that can today be seen in South America, Africa, Middle East and even in parts of East Asia. Great power geopolitical alignments have also shifted adversely. China – the swing power for the West – has barely budged its position. Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, Washington has attempted to imagine cleavages between Moscow and Beijing that it could exploit for a new western rapprochement with China. Senior US policymakers, including the President, along with a flurry of European leaders have attempted to court the Xi Jinping regime in an attempt to nudge China away from Russia. But to little avail. The Chinese seem unwilling to jeopardise their partnership with Russia. With their own potential flashpoint right under their nose in Taiwan, Beijing fears a similar fate for itself in the future.

Unanticipated Economic Blowback The real trump card in Western hands has always been the economy: the legacy dominance of the US dollar, control over international supply chains, and the ability to arbitrarily impose collective sanctions and isolate a country. These are unique leverages that no other great power can claim to possess as of today. This is where the US truly felt it had the upper hand. It could not only destabilise Russia, perhaps even fatally, but also rewrite a new chapter on globalisation. Yet shockingly again, and despite dramatically severing European energy and industrial linkages with Russia, the blowback to the West has been more severe than the intended impact on the Russian economy. European economies are reeling from inflation and the spectre of de-industrialisation, fueled by a supply side energy and commodity crisis caused by western sanctions. Industrial giants like Germany have slumped into a recession. Economists can no longer deny just how critical the Russian commodity and energy link as well as market access was for European prosperity and industrial vitality.

How Russia Escaped, India Too But how did Russia escape its own economic strangulation? Very simply, the non-western world did not commit hara-kiri. China and India along with several other developing economies quickly replaced western markets, providing not only a lifeline to Russian exports but also drew unusual growth benefits of their own from discounted crude oil. Flushed with revenues, Moscow has been able to procure industrial components, machinery and consumer goods necessary for its basic economic stability. Trade with China is estimated to touch $200 billion in 2023, emulating a role played by Germany in the past. As a consequence, Russia defied the double-digit recession forecast for it in 2022 by only contracting by 2.1 percent. Even the IMF projects positive GDP growth for the Russian economy in 2023 and 2024.

The War Theatre: Advantage Russia Finally, it is in the war theatre itself where events have unfolded calling into question the entire geopolitical gamble of the West. After the initial phase when Russia received a rude shock about the full extent of NATO’s penetration and the systematic buildup of the Ukrainian armed forces since 2014, Moscow shifted to a strategy of attrition. This meant occupying territory – usually the primary objective of a war – became less important (other than of course the ethnic-Russian dominated Donbass and Crimea) than degrading and destroying the NATO-built force inside Ukraine. Classical war of manoeuvre with large tanks battles in vast open fields or direct assaults on entrenched Ukrainian positions – scenarios that NATO expected and trained the Ukrainian military for and for which it invested in major defence lines around the Donbass – were replaced by gruelling and bloody struggles for strategic cities and gateway towns. Russia has prevailed in all these major urban battles that will help it secure eastern Ukraine. At the same time, Russia has used its offensive firepower to freely strike at military, logistic, high value infrastructure, and command and control targets across Ukraine including in Kyiv. Russia adapted to fight an intelligent and relatively low casualty war of its choosing and not the one NATO had planned to bog it down in.

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Blinken seeks many more years of war:

“The United States will help Ukraine build a powerful, modern military, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a speech in Helsinki. Blinken stressed that Washington will continue to provide Ukraine with military assistance so that the Armed Forces of Ukraine can fight Russian aggression. He said the United States would help Ukraine build “the army of the future.” This, he says, means “a modern air force, air and missile defense, modern tanks and armored vehicles, the ability to produce ammunition, as well as training and support for combat readiness of forces and equipment.”

Blinken Dismisses Calls for a Ceasefire: Build Up Ukraine’s Military (Antiwar)

The US will focus its efforts on arming Ukraine and not attempting to bring the war to a negotiated settlement, America’s top diplomat said. Secretary of State Antony Blinken laid out a plan to massively expand Kiev’s military before talks begin. In a speech delivered in Finland on Friday, Blinken stated, “The United States – together with our allies and partners – is firmly committed to supporting Ukraine’s defense today, tomorrow, for as long as it takes.” He continued, “We believe the prerequisite for meaningful diplomacy and real peace is a stronger Ukraine, capable of deterring and defending against any future aggression.” Blinken dismissed the idea of even a temporary pause in the fighting. “Some countries will call for a ceasefire. And on the surface, that sounds sensible – attractive, even. After all, who doesn’t want warring parties to lay down their arms? Who doesn’t want the killing to stop?” He said.

“But a ceasefire that simply freezes current lines in place and enables Putin to consolidate control over the territory he’s seized…It would legitimize Russia’s land grab. It would reward the aggressor and punish the victim.” The Secretary of State offered an ambitious vision of Kiev’s future military capabilities. “America and our allies are helping meet Ukraine’s needs on the current battlefield while developing a force that can deter and defend against aggression for years to come.” He added, “That means helping build a Ukrainian military of the future, with long-term funding, a strong air force centered on modern combat aircraft, an integrated air and missile defense network, advanced tanks and armored vehicles, national capacity to produce ammunition, and the training and support to keep forces and equipment combat-ready.”

It is unclear how long it would take to build the deterrence force envisioned by Blinken. American arms stockpiles are dwindling as Washington attempts to transfer Kiev enough military equipment to keep its army fighting. The US additionally has plans to significantly increase arms transfers to Taiwan. Blinken claimed, “Our support for Ukraine hasn’t weakened our capabilities to meet potential threats from China or anywhere else – it’s strengthened them.” In November, the Wall Street Journal reported, “US government and congressional officials fear the conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating a nearly $19 billion backlog of weapons bound for Taiwan, further delaying efforts to arm the island.” Additionally, the White House may not have the support it needs in the Capitol for such a massive military buildup in Ukraine. Blinken asserted that “in America, this support is bipartisan.” However, at the beginning of May, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said future support for Ukraine would be contingent on success in Kiev’s long-planned counteroffensive.

Since McCaul’s statement, Ukraine has slowly lost more territory to Russian forces, including Bakhmut. Zelensky committed endless resources to the city in a months-long battle despite the advice from his Western backers. The White House is now preparing for the counteroffensive to fail. Washington’s strategy, as laid out by Blinken, calls for arming Ukraine and weakening Russia. “Russia is significantly worse off today than it was before its full-scale invasion of Ukraine – militarily, economically, geopolitically,” he stated, adding, “President Putin has diminished Russian influence on every continent.” However, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the commander of US European Command, told Congress in April that Moscow’s ground forces are “bigger today” than before Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last year.

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“..even someone like myself with a year-and-a-half experience of military service knows perfectly well… that if I attack, I’ll lose three times more than the one who is on the defense.”

Ukrainian Counteroffensive Would Turn Into ‘Bloodbath’ – Orban (RT)

Everything must be done to avoid a Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces as it would have devastating consequences for Kiev, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said. During an interview with Kossuth Radio on Friday, Orban stated that “even someone like myself with a year-and-a-half experience of military service knows perfectly well… that if I attack, I’ll lose three times more than the one who is on the defense.” Ukraine likely has a population of “somewhere between 20 to 30 million” at the moment, which is “a fraction” of what Russia has, he said. Russia’s population is over 146 million, according to data from the Federal Statistics Service.

The launch of a major counteroffensive by Kiev in such conditions “would be a bloodbath,” the Hungarian leader warned. “Even in the best-case scenario [for Kiev], no better result could be achieved… on the battlefield, than what could’ve been reached through negotiations even before the conflict,” he said. “We must do everything we can before the launch of a counteroffensive to convince the sides that ceasefire and peace talks are necessary,” Orban insisted. Ukraine has been planning a large-scale counteroffensive against the Russian forces for months, claiming it would allow Kiev to retake all territories lost to Russia, including Crimea.

The operation was expected to start in spring, but had been delayed on numerous occasions as Ukrainian officials complained about bad weather, a lack of ammunition, and the reluctance of the West to supply warplanes. Hungary has taken a balanced approach since the outbreak of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev in February 2022. Budapest has supplied humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but refused to send arms to President Vladimir Zelensky’s government, unlike many fellow EU member states. Hungary has also consistently called for a peaceful settlement to the crisis and criticized the sanctions imposed by Brussels on Moscow, arguing that they have failed to achieve their goal and were hurting the EU more than Russia.

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”Had he won, up to 3 million of the 4 million refugees living in Türkiye would be flooding the Hungarian border by the end of the summer..”

Orban Delighted At Erdogan’s Victory Over ‘Soros’ Man’ (RT)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban described the election victory of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu as a “huge relief” in a radio broadcast on Friday. “If Erdogan had not won, Soros’ man would have opened the borders to immigrants,” Orban claimed, referring to Kilicdaroglu as an agent of billionaire currency speculator and funder of liberal causes George Soros. Had he won, up to 3 million of the 4 million refugees living in Türkiye would be flooding the Hungarian border by the end of the summer, Orban presumed. “I didn’t just root for him, I prayed specifically for President Erdogan’s victory,” Orban continued. “It would have been a tragedy if he had not won.”

The prime minister argued that unlike Erdogan, Kilicdaroglu would have been a pro-war leader, potentially disrupting Russian gas supplies to Hungary and Serbia. Hungary receives the vast majority of its natural gas from Russia via the TurkStream pipeline, which carries gas from Russia to Southern Europe through Türkiye. Budapest has repeatedly blocked EU efforts to impose an embargo on Russian gas to punish Moscow for its military operation in Ukraine. Orban stressed the importance of convincing Ukraine and Russia “that a ceasefire is needed and that peace talks are necessary,” lamenting that “the vast majority in the EU is against us, they are at our throats.” He predicted a “bloodbath” if Kiev were to go ahead with its planned counteroffensive, pointing out that the odds were not on the Ukrainians’ side.

Erdogan officially won reelection on Sunday following a runoff vote, entering his third term with support from 52.14% of the electorate, according to Türkiye’s Supreme Election Council. While Kilicdaroglu ran on a globalist platform of restarting EU accession talks, improving relations with the country’s NATO allies, and rolling back many of Erdogan’s domestic reforms, he took a more forceful stance against open borders during the runoff, promising to send refugees back to their home countries. Erdogan consistently portrayed his opponent as hostile to traditional values, pro-terrorist, and pro-LGBT.

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“..as long as his government remains in power..”

Orban Warns Hungary Will Never Fight Russia (RT)

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has pledged not to “fight” Russia or let the country get dragged into the Ukraine conflict as long as his government remains in power. The prime minister made the remarks on Friday during an interview with local Kossuth Radio. Budapest sees the ongoing hostilities between Moscow and Kiev as a “close” yet “outside threat,” Orban explained. “We are not involved in the war, Hungary is not at war with Russia, and will not be for as long as this government is in place, certainly not,” the PM stated. Orban also slammed belligerent statements repeatedly made by “left-wing politicians” who have claimed their countries were “at war” with Russia already. The PM did not, however, point to any specific examples of such statements.

“When left-wing politicians say that ‘we are at war with Russia,’ while sitting at home in a comfortable armchair, they do not know what they are talking about. They have lost their minds. ‘We are at war with Russia’ is a statement that no sane person can afford since World War II.” Unlike fellow NATO and EU member states, Hungary has taken a neutral stance on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which began in February 2022. The country has refused to provide any military aid to Kiev and has even prohibited the flow of arms from third parties to Ukraine through its territory.

The country has also been opposing the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions, particularly those damaging its own vital interests, namely restrictions in the fields of conventional and nuclear energy. Budapest has consistently argued that the restrictions failed to meet their proclaimed goals and were hurting the EU more than Russia. At the same time, Budapest has been providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainian civilians who have been impacted by the crisis. Hungary has also repeatedly called for settling the conflict through a diplomatic solution.

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This is a war summit. Nothing to do with peace.

Zelensky Talks Peace Summit With Scholz (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has said his recent meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz included talks on preparing for a “Global Peace Summit.” Earlier this week, media outlets reported that Kiev and its Western backers were planning to convene a global meeting centered on Kiev’s “peace formula,” which has already been rejected by Moscow. According to a statement published by Zelensky’s office, the president met with the German leader on the sidelines of the European Political Community Summit in Moldova’s capital Chisinau on Thursday. He thanked Scholz for “supporting the Ukrainian Peace Formula” and for his “readiness to join its implementation.” The two leaders also “discussed joint preparations for the Global Peace Summit and the involvement of the widest possible range of participants,” the statement noted.

The Ukrainian president urged Berlin to keep military aid flowing to Kiev, specifically air defense systems, citing the “escalation of Russian missile terror against Ukraine.” On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that French President Emmanuel Macron had offered to host the summit in Paris, with Denmark and Sweden also putting themselves forward as potential hosts. European officials have allegedly extended invitations to Brazil, India, China, and several other non-Western countries, with Russia being conspicuously absent from the list. Published late last year, Ukraine’s peace formula demands that Moscow withdraw its forces from all territories within Ukraine’s borders as established in 1991, including Crimea.

Moreover, the plan envisages Russia paying reparations for damage caused, and handing over officials accused by Ukraine of war crimes, to face international tribunals. Moscow has unequivocally rejected this formula, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov describing its terms as essentially the “capitulation of Russia.” Speaking on Friday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov noted that there are no indications that dialogue with Ukraine will be possible any time soon. He explained that the proposals floated by European nations have so far failed to accommodate Moscow’s security concerns, which are a priority for Russia. Earlier this week, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, expressed skepticism over the prospect of Russia engaging in peace talks with Ukraine in the near future.

The diplomat argued that Moscow seems intent on achieving a military victory over its neighbor, and that fighting is likely to continue throughout the summer. Aside from Ukraine’s own peace formula, there have been several plans suggested by other nations. Notably, China released its own 12-point roadmap on the first anniversary of the conflict in late February. While dismissed out of hand by the US, its NATO allies and Ukraine, the plan has been received favorably by several other nations, including Brazil and Russia.

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Many more years of war.

Europe Suffers Sharp Munitions Deficit Due To Military Aid Largesse (TASS)

Europe is experiencing a palpable deficit of ammunition due to its generous military support for the Kiev regime, Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Friday. According to the newspaper, among other items, there is a shortage of shells and explosives for warheads. That said, Kiev cannot launch its much-hyped counteroffensive until it accumulates sufficient supplies. The US has already doubled its production from 200,000 to 400,000 shells a year, while in 2025 it hopes to surpass the one million mark. Meanwhile, in Europe this figure is at the level of just 50,000. According to La Repubblica, financing being provided by Brussels is aimed at changing the current state of affairs but, that said, the goal of churning out one million 155-mm shells “every 12 months appears to be overly ambitious.”


Earlier, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said that the EU plans to deliver another one million munitions to Ukraine in the next 12 months. According to him, 24 EU countries have joined the initiative to expand production of 155-mm artillery shells with 1 billion euros being appropriated for this purpose. He specified that the European Defense Agency, a branch of the EU, had taken the lead on this issue.

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“Production at the Sakhalin-1 project in Russia’s Far East jumped by 180%, quarter on quarter.”

Russian Oil Giant’s Profits Soar Amid Sanctions (RT)

Net profits at Russia’s largest oil producer, Rosneft, jumped by 45.5% in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous three months, hitting 323 billion rubles ($4 billion) due to a rise in output, the company announced this week. Analysts polled by the Interfax had expected the figure to be far smaller, at $2.9 billion. Oil and gas production in the first quarter increased by 0.8% from October to December, exceeding four million barrels per day, Rosneft reported. Production at the Sakhalin-1 project in Russia’s Far East jumped by 180%, quarter on quarter. The company’s CEO Igor Sechin, however, warned that operations would be further impacted by Moscow’s decision to reduce its oil output by 500,000 barrels per day, or about 5%, in order to bolster global oil markets.


“While the cut did not have much influence on the Q1 2023 results, it will have a strong impact on the results of the following quarter,” he warned. Rosneft attributes the rise in profits to increasing energy sales to India and other ‘friendly’ states. India, the world’s third-largest crude importer, ramped up purchases of Russian oil shortly after the start of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine and the ensuing Western sanctions. New Delhi has repeatedly stressed that energy security is its top priority. It has chosen not to succumb to Western pressure and has continued to stock up on Russian supplies, even after the G7 price cap on Russian oil came into force late last year. Sechin said recently that Moscow and New Delhi had agreed to “substantially increase” the supply of crude oil to India and diversify its grades.

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China’s setting up the table. Next round, intentions won’t be enough.

Moscow, Kiev, EU Seeking Peaceful Solution To Ukraine Crisis – Special Envoy (TASS)

Moscow, Kiev and the European Union vowed to work toward a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis, Chinese Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui said, commenting on his recent international tour. “The first thing that I felt clearly was that every side involved positively assessed China’s efforts. Everybody’s hoping for a peaceful solution to the [Ukraine] crisis,” Li told a briefing at the China Public Diplomacy Association. According to the Chinese envoy, both Russia and Ukraine, as well as the EU, support the stance of China which is seeking to resolve the conflict through political means. From May 15 to May 26, Li Hui visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany, the EU headquarters and Russia. During that tour, he met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, and diplomats from the aforementioned nations, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. His key goal, Li said, was to discuss the Ukraine conflict.

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“You ask why Russia took such actions. I will answer you with one phrase, which my Russian colleagues shared with me,” Li said. “They started the operation to protect the lives, property and security of the people of Donbass.”

China Special Envoy Urges Europe To Ponder Causes Of Ukrainian Conflict (TASS)

The Chinese government’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, suggested on Friday that his European counterparts should ponder why the Ukrainian conflict had developed and why Russia had launched a special military operation in Ukraine. The Chinese envoy was speaking in response to a question from a Western journalist who asked him for clarification. “When I was in Europe, I invited my colleagues from European states to think hard about the root causes of the Ukrainian conflict,” Li said at a news briefing of the China Public Diplomacy Association in Beijing following his international tour. “They can all think hard and draw their own conclusions,” Li said. While explaining the reasons for the special military operation he referred to Russia’s arguments.


“You ask why Russia took such actions. I will answer you with one phrase, which my Russian colleagues shared with me,” Li said. “They started the operation to protect the lives, property and security of the people of Donbass.” As the Chinese diplomat specified, regardless of the causes of the Ukrainian crisis “it is necessary to restore peace as soon as possible through negotiations in a political way.” On May 15-26, Li Hui visited Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany, the EU headquarters and Russia. During this trip, he met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and with diplomats from these countries, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The task, as Li confirmed, was to discuss the Ukrainian conflict.

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“..I left the interrogation with a new appreciation of how deeply ingrained into the intellectual DNA of the official US government the Navalny and Ukrainian narratives have become..”

Propaganda Perverts Reality In The Minds Of Americans (Scott Ritter)

At the end of April, my daughter Victoria and I departed New York City’s JFK airport, ultimately bound for the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, the first destination of what would be a 26-day, 12-city tour of Russia. While the official purpose of the visit was business (I was promoting my book, Disarmament Race, which has been published in the Russian language by the Komsomolskaya Pravda publishing house), the unofficial – and for me, most important – purpose of the visit was an opportunity to better understand today’s Russia. To do this, I was going to dig deeper into Russian history, get a better grasp of the culture, and, in the process, try to understand the “Russian soul” in as precise a manner as possible.

From my perspective, both objectives were accomplished. I’m inclined to believe that Komsomolskaya Pravda was pleased with the results of a tour that drew positive media coverage, resulted in well-attended town hall-style events involving vigorous question-and-answer sessions, and reportedly resulted in the initial print run of 10,000 books to be sold out in a manner of days. Through the considerable interaction I had with Russians of all walks of life, I came away with deeper insight into the complexity of what comprises the modern Russian nation circa 2023. However, divining an articulable definition of the Russian soul – if indeed possible at all – requires deeper introspection into the plethora of data and experiences captured during this journey than the passage of several days affords and is beyond the scope of this article.

I left on this adventure fully cognizant of the existence of an informational pandemic in America known as Russophobia, and I always believed that I was realistic as to the challenges that I would have to face in trying to convert my Russian experience into a fact-based vaccine to counter this disease of the American mind. However, the scale of the obstacles that I imagined overcoming paled in comparison to the reality that hit home literally as I stepped off the aircraft on our way back home, when Victoria and I were both pulled out of the passport checkpoint for an hours-long interrogation by investigators from Customs and Border Protection who specialize in travelers from designated nations such as Russia.

I will start by noting that the treatment my daughter and I received was professional and courteous. I understand the political reality of the times we live in, and the perceived necessity of questioning US citizens who travel to Russia while relations between our two nations are at an all-time low. My concern is not in the conduct of the interrogation, but rather the substance of the foundational information upon which the questions asked of me were based. As the CBP officer admitted, he had interviewed hundreds of Russians after the start of the military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. The picture he had of Russia was singularly grounded in the perspective of political dissidents who had a bone to pick with President Vladimir Putin, and the narrative that they painted about Russia had become gospel for the CBP. By extension, it has heavily influenced the overall assessment by the US government, since these dissident debriefings constitute a major source of the primary intelligence used by national security analysts throughout the American intelligence community.

In short, my interrogation quickly became a debate between myself on the one hand, and a combination of Alexey Navalny (the imprisoned Russian opposition figure who most of the Russian dissidents support, according to the officer) and the Ukrainian government on the other. Virtually every point I made was immediately defined as “pro-Russian propaganda.” I tried to impress upon the CBP officer the reality of Russia, today, especially concerning both the high level of support for, and underlying criticism of, the Russian government about the military campaign in Ukraine. However, in the end my arguments, and the facts they were based upon, were categorized as “Kremlin talking points” no matter how hard I tried. I left the interrogation with a new appreciation of how deeply ingrained into the intellectual DNA of the official US government the Navalny and Ukrainian narratives have become, and how difficult it will be to root them out.

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WHO?

“The “trust horizon” (a concept introduced by the great Nicole Foss, late of The Automatic Earth dot com) is shrinking. You can no longer trust any distant authorities”

Who Can You Trust? (Jim Kunstler)

Anyway, you must ask yourself: why on earth should I trust the WHO about anything? Did they not participate in laying a trip on the world with Covid-19? How did those lockdowns work out? Do you think they destroyed enough businesses and ruined enough households? How’s the vaccination program doing? Effective? Safe? Yeah, maybe not so much. Maybe killing a lot of people, wrecking immune systems, sterilizing reproductive organs, causing gross disabilities, shattering lives. Of course, in over three years neither the WHO nor the US medical authorities showed the slightest interest in helping to figure out how the Covid-19 virus was made in a lab, and exactly how it got loose in the world. Lately, Dr. Ghebreyesus has warned the world about much worse future pandemics supposedly coming down at us.

Oh? Really? What does he know that we don’t? That possibly new efforts to concoct chimeric diseases are ongoing in labs around the world? (You know that dozens of such labs were discovered in Ukraine as the war got underway there in 2022.) What’s Dr. Ghebreyesus doing to stop that? If US orgs and citizens are involved in this “research,” why doesn’t the WHO alert our government leaders so they can stop it. (Would they? I’m not so sure.) And, who is behind it this time? The Eco-Health Alliance again, like with Covid-19? By the way, that outfit got another whopping grant last fall from the NIH to “study” bat viruses — right after the NIH terminated a previous grant on account of The Eco-Health Alliance failing to turn over notebooks and other records. No, you cannot trust the WHO about anything. The “trust horizon” (a concept introduced by the great Nicole Foss, late of The Automatic Earth dot com) is shrinking. You can no longer trust any distant authorities.

You also cannot trust the US federal government (especially the executive branch behind “Joe Biden”). And notice: the trust horizon is shrinking just as the world is de-centralizing. This, you see, is the main contradiction behind all the Globalist’s twisted ambitions to control everything, including you. They are working against the current tide of human history which is pushing everything toward down-scaling, re-localization, and re-assertion of the sovereign individual person. That trend will become increasingly evident as things organized at the giant scale start to implode — giant retail chains, medical behemoths, hedge funds, big banks, you name it. The world no longer has the mojo for globalism. There’s reason to wonder these days whether the USA has the mojo to remain a unified national polity of states. Our federal government is not only financially bankrupt beyond any coherent reckoning, it is also morally bankrupt, and it has decided to make war against its own people. None of this is satisfactory and none of this is working. It’s time to figure out who and what you can trust and act accordingly.

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“Chairman Comer has been clear that anything short of producing the FD-1023 form to the House Oversight Committee is not compliance with his subpoena..”

FBI Relents, Agrees To Deliver Subpoenaed Memo Alleging Biden Bribery (JTN)

Facing a potential contempt of Congress vote, FBI Director Christopher Wray relented and has agreed to bring a subpoenaed document from the Biden family investigation to Capitol Hill for lawmakers to inspect on Monday, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer announced Friday. The document in question, an FD-1023, contains uncorroborated allegations that an informant provided the FBI in June 2020 alleging that Joe Biden, when he was vice president, was engaged in a bribery scheme to change US policy in return for $5 million to his family’s businesses, lawmakers have said. Congress was alerted to the document by an FBI whistleblower who raised concerns the allegations were never fully investigated. Comer and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa demanded to see the document, and Comer followed with a subpoena.

As recently as Wednesday, Wray indicated he would not turn over the document in compliance with the subpoena, but would let lawmakers come read it at the FBI. But a deal was struck late Thursday for the FBI to bring the document to the Capitol, officials said. “Chairman Comer will receive a briefing from the FBI and review the document on Monday,” his committee told Just the News in a statement. “Chairman Comer has been clear that anything short of producing the FD-1023 form to the House Oversight Committee is not compliance with his subpoena. This unclassified record contains pages of details that need to be investigated further by the House Oversight Committee.” In a statement to Just the News, the FBI said it wanted to accommodate Congress while also protecting sensitive confidential human source information that often is recorded in memos even before it is corroborated.

“Director Wray offered to provide the Committee’s Chairman and Ranking Member an opportunity to review information responsive to the subpoena in a secure manner to accommodate the committee, while protecting the confidentiality and safety of sources and important investigative sensitivities,” the bureau said. “The FBI has continually demonstrated its commitment to working with the Committee to accommodate its request, from scheduling briefings and calls to now allowing the Chair to review information in person. The FBI remains committed to cooperating with the Committee in good faith.”

The bureau also cautioned that FD-1023 forms are “used by FBI agents to record unverified reporting by a confidential human source. Documenting the information does not validate it, establish its credibility, or weigh it against other information verified by the FBI. “Revealing unverified or possibly incomplete information could harm investigations, prejudice prosecutions or judicial proceedings, unfairly violate privacy or reputations, create misimpressions in the public, or potentially identify individuals who provide information to law enforcement, placing their physical safety at risk,” it added.

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“In a recent war game, Chinese defence researchers sank an entire US aircraft carrier fleet in the South China Sea with 24 hypersonic missiles. Some military experts believe that these weapons used CL-20 warheads.”

China Has Tamed The World’s Most Powerful Explosive- Military Scientists (SCMP)

A Chinese research team said they have significantly improved the safety of the world’s most powerful explosive by engineering a five-fold boost to its shock resistance capacity. The breakthrough could speed up the large-scale application of the explosive in battle, making Chinese weapons far superior in terms of destructive power, according to the scientists. CL-20 is the most deadly non-nuclear explosive in existence. When detonated, it can produce destructive shock waves with blast pressures many times higher than other common explosives like TNT and RDX. In a recent war game, Chinese defence researchers sank an entire US aircraft carrier fleet in the South China Sea with 24 hypersonic missiles. Some military experts believe that these weapons used CL-20 warheads.

The mass production of CL-20 is extremely difficult. China is the only country so far to possess such industrial capability and has used the explosive in some of its newest weapons, according to a US Energetics Technology Centre study commissioned by the Pentagon in 2021. But the use of CL-20 is still limited due to its sensitivity to shock, according to the Chinese team led by explosive scientist Guo Changping from the Sichuan Military and Civilian Co-Innovation Centre for New Energetic Materials. Guo and his colleagues developed a new nanotechnology that can help synthesise CL-20 composites with ultra-high stability. In a falling hammer test, the impact sensitivity or “H50 value” of the new CL-20 explosive was 68cm (26.8 inches), much higher than that of the original material at 13cm.

Falling hammer tests involve dropping a weight onto a sample of explosive material from a specified height and measuring whether it detonated. The height at which half of the samples detonate is known as the H50 value and is used as a measure of impact sensitivity. “CL-20 has a high mechanical sensitivity, which makes it prone to safety accidents during its development, production, storage, transport and use, due to friction and impact. Its safety performance needs to be improved,” Guo’s team said in a peer-reviewed paper published in the Chinese Journal of Explosives and Propellants in April. “We are seeking a new method to break through the current technology barriers. It will inspire the design and preparation of high-security, high-energy propellants and explosive formulas of the future,” the scientists added.

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The video is now free for the whole weekend, not just 24 hours.

Woke Twitter Employees Exit In Fallout Over What Is A Woman Censorship (Rebel)

Several high-profile Twitter employees have exited the company following their decision to undermine the leadership of Elon Musk in censoring the Daily Wire’s documentary on trans-affirming surgeries for minors, “What Is A Woman?” One of the employees in question, Maie Aiyed, who served as the company’s program manager for brand safety, was exposed for having previously published posts disparaging white people following her exit. Aiyed shared her departure from Twitter, colloquially referred to as “the bird app,” through a post on a verified account linked to her. Although the tweet did not detail the reasons for her exit, it extended gratitude to some of her colleagues.

The departure announcement coincided with the news of Ella Irwin’s resignation, the chief of Twitter’s trust and safety department, and the platform’s restriction on the premiere of The Daily Wire’s documentary, “What Is A Woman?”. Elon Musk confirmed on Friday that their departures were directly related to the effort to censor the documentary. Historical posts from Aiyed, exhibiting a pattern of dismissive remarks towards white people, resurfaced among users following the news of her departure. Her previous posts, dating back to 2017, ranged from undermining white individuals’ comprehension of other cultures to caricaturing their behaviors and preferences.

As detailed by Fox News producer Gregg Re, Aiyed tweeted various racial grievances against white people. In one instance, Aiyed even stated that she was “actively avoiding reading books by white authors.” Aiyed’s account portrays her as having Egyptian heritage, frequently posting about video games and an array of other subjects, often in a sardonic tone. LinkedIn data indicates that Aiyed has held the role of a program manager for Brand Safety Partnerships at Twitter in the San Francisco Bay Area since March 2022, a tenure that predates Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company. Her professional history includes employment at other major tech companies such as YouTube, Patreon, and Dropbox.

What is?

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Jul 312022
 


Edward Hopper Sailing 1911

 

The End of Castle Europe and the First Day of Freedom (Batiushka)
World Economy At Risk Of Deglobalization – IMF (RT)
Tweaking The Dragon’s Tail To Ignite A Terrible Fire With China (Larry Johnson)
New Chinese Aid For Syria Sets Off Alarms In Israel (BD)
Japanese Firms In No Rush To Leave Russia (RT)
Kiev Knew Prison It Shelled Held Ukrainian POWs – DPR (RT)
Zelensky and US To Blame For ‘Bloodbath’ In Donbass – Russia (RT)
British Boats Assist In Transporting Russian Oil (RT)
UN, World Economic Forum Behind Global ‘War on Farmers’ (ET)
Zelensky’s ‘Elite Kraken neo-Nazi Battalion’ Destroyed – Russia (RT)
Gas Levy Could Triple Household Heating Bills In Germany (ZH)
Biden Admin Quietly Builds More Border Wall Amid Migration Surge (JTN)
Covid Reinfection Rate With Paxlovid Is More Than 40%, Not 2% As Marketed (DM)
Italian Court Orders Analysis Of mRNA Vaccines (Muac)

 

 


Victor Orban

 

 

We never tested them

 

 

Check the date

 

 

Body bags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..the three aims of the Allied Special Operation in the Ukraine [..] have had to be extended..”

The more weapons are poured in, the bigger the territory becomes.

The End of Castle Europe and the First Day of Freedom (Batiushka)

It has now been officially admitted that the three aims of the Allied Special Operation in the Ukraine, the liberation of the Donbass, and the demilitarisation and denazification of the Ukraine, have had to be extended. This is firstly because of the resistance of the Neo-Nazi regime in Kiev to the liberation of the peoples of the Ukraine and secondly because of the support given to that regime by pro-Nazi regimes. Those regimes, known as ‘The Collective West’, are the regimes, representing only 13% of the world population, which have extended the war, both in time and in space.

This change was implicitly confirmed on 28 July by Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary to President Putin, who declared that ‘the whole of the Ukraine needs to be denazified’. This means that most, or even all, of the Ukraine is going to be liberated, not just the Crimea, the two provinces of the Donbass and the surrounding four provinces of Kharkov, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Zaporozhie. These fully- or partly-liberated provinces are being attacked from further away: clearly their liberation will not be complete until those attacks from further away have been stopped, even if that means proceeding right to the Ukrainian border with Poland. (And if NATO countries dared attack the liberated Ukraine from within their borders, then…).

As for the second aim of demilitarisation, which is ongoing in the Ukraine and has reached a high level as a result of the Russian destruction of military hardware and those willing to use it, it too has had to be extended. The extension is necessary because of the military hardware being sent to the Ukraine from the rest of the Collective West, that is, from Non-Russian Europe (just over 50% of European territory) and from the USA. Both have begun sending the Ukraine their weapons for destruction by Russia. However, the third aim, of denazification, both in the Ukraine and, as we explain below, even more in the rest of Non-Russian Europe, is far more complex. Let us explain this through what may at first seem to be rather academic historical considerations concerning English and Western history. Please be patient. There is a point to this.

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You make that sound like it’s a bad thing…

World Economy At Risk Of Deglobalization – IMF (RT)

Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and the subsequent Western sanctions on Moscow might push the global economy into geopolitical fragmentation, the IMF warned in a report published on July 26. “A serious risk to the medium-term outlook is that the war in Ukraine will contribute to fragmentation of the world economy into geopolitical blocs with distinct technology standards, cross-border payment systems, and reserve currencies,” the report states. According to the IMF, such a split would prevent the global community from jointly addressing global problems. “Fragmentation may also diminish the effectiveness of multilateral cooperation to address climate change, with the further risk that the current food crisis could become the norm,” the authors of the report warn.

The report notes that traditional economic and financial risks have been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine and its repercussions. Such risks currently include the effect of tighter monetary policy, slowing economic growth in China and rising energy prices. However, according to the report, there is “limited evidence of reshoring,” or trade deglobalization, at the moment, and overall, global trade “has been more resilient than expected since the start of the [Covid-19] pandemic,” which can be taken as a positive sign. Still, the IMF predicts that increasingly tight sanctions on Russia will eventually result in a drop in Russia’s oil exports to the global market and a “decline to zero” of Russian gas exports to Europe, which in turn would make “inflation expectations more persistently elevated” across the globe and tighten financial conditions as governments attempt to deal with rising prices.

“In this scenario, the shock would have a widespread impact, as higher global commodity prices and tighter monetary and financial conditions would affect almost all countries, albeit to different extents. Europe would be particularly affected in this scenario, with 2023… near-zero regional growth,” the IMF states. Still, according to analysts, “taming inflation should be the first priority for policymakers”despite the costs of tighter monetary policy, as “delay will only exacerbate [the costs].”

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Pelosi just released a doc stating which places she will visit. Taiwan is not on it.

Tweaking The Dragon’s Tail To Ignite A Terrible Fire With China (Larry Johnson)

The next two weeks could be two of the most dangerous in the history of the United States because it appears Joe Biden and his clueless national security team are bumbling their way towards a showdown with China that is fraught with the peril of war. The Chinese Government now rejects the One China Policy that has been the foundation of U.S./Chinese relations for 43 years. CSIS boils it down nicely: When the United States moved to recognize the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and de-recognize the Republic of China (ROC) in 1979, the United States stated that the government of the People’s Republic of China was “the sole legal Government of China.” Sole, meaning the PRC was and is the only China, with no consideration of the ROC as a separate sovereign entity.

The United States did not, however, give in to Chinese demands that it recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan (which is the name preferred by the United States since it opted to de-recognize the ROC). Instead, Washington acknowledged the Chinese position that Taiwan was part of China. For geopolitical reasons, both the United States and the PRC were willing to go forward with diplomatic recognition despite their differences on this matter. The Chinese are now unyielding on their claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. It does not matter any more that Washington threatens action if China takes any steps to impose its “sovereignty”, China is going to demonstrate its sovereignty. One way it may do this is to deny Nancy Pelosi and any other dignitary from Washington, DC from flying to Taiwan and setting foot on “Chinese territory” without the permission of Beijing.

The United States does not have an embassy in Taiwan. It has a consulate, which is subordinate to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. In other words, any official visit by a U.S. official must have country clearance from China. Got it? What makes the current situation so dangerous is that the Commander of US Forces in the Indo-Pacific region (aka INDOPACCOM) has ordered the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to the South China Sea as a “show of force.” This is a deliberate act to demonstrate to the Chinese that they have no sovereignty over this territory. The Chinese reaction to this provocation is alarming:

“The Chinese Army urged citizens to “prepare for war” in a social media post Friday that garnered thousands of likes, according to the state-sponsored Global Times. Chinese officials have issued stark warnings of possible conflict should House Speaker Nancy Pelosi follow through with her promise to visit Taiwan in August, pledging a “forceful” response. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 80th Group Army’s post received over 300,000 thumbs-up on China’s social media platform Weibo within 12 hours “amid high morale among Chinese soldiers,” the Global Times said. “We must bear in mind the fundamental responsibility of preparing for war and charge on the journey of a strong army,” the 80th Group Army posted in a comment that received 8,000 likes”, according to Global Times.

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“..the aid “aims to improve local network infrastructure, especially in those areas hit hard during the Syrian crisis since 2011.”

New Chinese Aid For Syria Sets Off Alarms In Israel (BD)

A recent announcement of Chinese aid for Syria is setting off alarm bells in Israeli security circles. During a July 20 ceremony held in Damascus, an announcement was made that Syria will receive advanced communications equipment from China. According to the official announcement, the aid “aims to improve local network infrastructure, especially in those areas hit hard during the Syrian crisis since 2011.” Signed by Chinese Ambassador to Syria Feng Biao and Chairman of Syria’s Planning and International Cooperation Authority Fadi Salti Al-Khalil, the deal specifies that the equipment will be “delivered in two batches” to the Syrian Communications and Technology Ministry.

Relations between Israel and China are cordial, if somewhat strained in recent years by US pressure on Jerusalem to limit ties with Beijing. So on the face, having China in Syria is not in and of itself a major concern for Israel. But the economic or military improvements China could bring to Syria’s military is a reason for concern. Israeli defense sources told Breaking Defense that the exact type of the communication systems to be supplied to Syria is not clear, but it is expected to be of a type that will fill current gaps in Syria’s military communications network. And, the sources worry, this could be only the tip of the iceberg of Chinese assistance for Syria’s effort to rebuild its armed forces.

“We have indications that Chinese experts visited in recent months some Syrian military installations that were damaged heavily during the civil war,” one source said. “We believe that many [facilities] of the Syrian army will be rebuilt by the Chinese, who have the capability of bringing in thousands of workers to complete the work in the shortest time.” That source also warned that the Chinese may try to sell the Syrians some of their defense systems, which could complicate Israeli operations in Syria. “The Russian-made systems used by the Syrians are almost useless dealing with advanced weapon systems like those used by Israel,” the source noted.

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“..just 5% of Japanese companies that had operations in Russia have left [..] This contrasts with 46% for the UK, 33% for Canada, and 27% for the US.”

Japanese Firms In No Rush To Leave Russia (RT)

Japanese companies are no in a hurry to quit the Russian market, amid fears of being unable to return and having to find new suppliers, the Japan Times reported this week, citing a survey from the statistics center Teikoku Databank. According to the report, within the past month no Japanese companies have announced a suspension or cessation of operations in Russia. Since Russia became subject to numerous sanctions due to its military operation in Ukraine, 74, or about 40%, of the 168 listed Japanese companies working in Russia announced intentions to leave the country. Of these, however, most said they would only halt some form of operation, while a mere five companies said they would withdraw from the Russian market completely.


According to the survey, Japanese companies attributed their reluctance to withdraw from Russia to fears of losing their niche in what they consider an important emerging market and potential difficulties in finding alternative suppliers. Earlier this year, reports emerged that the Japanese government had urged the conglomerates Mitsui and Mitsubishi to retain their stakes in the Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) project Sakhalin-2, which now operates under a new Russian operator, in order to ensure continued LNG flows. Also, a number of Japan’s major automakers, including Toyota, have suspended their activities in Russia over the past several months but have not yet closed their businesses in the country.Western sanctions against Moscow have forced many international companies to quit the Russian market. However, according to a Yale University survey, just 5% of Japanese companies that had operations in Russia have left, which is tied with Italy for the lowest shares in the G7. This contrasts with 46% for the UK, 33% for Canada, and 27% for the US.

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Gonzalo Lira @GonzaloLira1968
Azov Battalion POWs were killed with HIMARS rockets.
HIMARS are targeted by the Americans only.
Americans are providing targeting intelligence.
Americans deliberately targeted Azov Battalion POWs for assassination.
Not their first rodeo. The US did the same in Syria.

Kiev Knew Prison It Shelled Held Ukrainian POWs – DPR (RT)

Kiev knew exactly where Ukrainian prisoners of war were being held when it ordered a strike on the detention facility in Donbass, Eduard Basurin, the spokesman for the army of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), claimed. The attack on the prison near the village of Yelenovka on Friday morning claimed the lives of 53 people, with 75 more injured, according to the DPR. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the facility had held members of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, whose fighters surrendered to Russian and Donbass forces during the siege of the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol. The battalion is notorious for having fighters with nationalist and neo-Nazi views. “I would like to note that Ukraine itself determined the place of detention of prisoners of war, so they knew exactly where they were kept and in what place,” Basurin told journalists without elaborating.

The DPR’s ombudswoman, Darya Morozova, explained that Ukrainian authorities had previously insisted Yelenovka’s facility be a detention center for Ukrainian prisoners of war. “It was discussed, it was their proposal. That is, they knew perfectly well where the prisoners were being held, at their own request. That’s how cynically they took the lives of 50 of their own officers and soldiers,” she told Izvestia newspaper. In Basurin’s opinion, the prison was targeted “after the Ukrainian prisoners of war began to talk about the crimes that they had committed on the orders of their commanders.” As the orders to conduct those crimes, according to Basurin, had been issued by Kiev, the Ukrainian “political leadership” ordered the strike on the detention center using US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers “to hide those crimes about which Ukrainian prisoners of war began to speak.”

“I would like to note that even the lack of ammunition did not stop them from shutting the mouths of those Ukrainian prisoners of war who began to tell how they killed, where they killed and why they killed the civilian population,”Basurin said. He echoed the earlier remarks by DPR head Denis Pushilin, who claimed that the Ukrainians “deliberately” targeted the detention center in order to kill Azov members who had been providing accounts of possible war crimes committed by their commanders. Kiev has categorically denied these allegations and accused “the Russian occupants” of carrying out the strike. According to a statement by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Facebook, Russia’s aim was to accuse Ukraine of committing ‘war crimes’.

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“..after the Ukrainian prisoners of war began to talk about the crimes that they had committed on the orders of their commanders.”

Zelensky and US To Blame For ‘Bloodbath’ In Donbass – Russia (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is personally responsible, along with the United States, for the fatal shelling of a detention facility in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed on Saturday. According to the ministry’s statement, a missile strike using US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers on a prison near the village of Yelenovka killed 50 POWs, while 73 were hospitalized with severe injuries. The ministry added that the remains of 48 Ukrainian prisoners of war were found and extracted from underneath the rubble, while two inmates succumbed to their wounds on the way to a medical facility. “All political, criminal and moral responsibility for the bloodbath against Ukrainians is borne personally by Zelensky, his criminal regime and Washington, which supports them,” the statement reads.


Earlier this week, Eduard Basurin, the spokesman for the DPR’s army, said that Kiev knew exactly where the POWs were being held, because Kiev “itself determined the place of detention.” The DPR official also noted that the prison could have been targeted by Kiev in order to hide atrocities “after the Ukrainian prisoners of war began to talk about the crimes that they had committed on the orders of their commanders.” The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the facility had held members of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, whose fighters surrendered to Russian and Donbass forces during the siege of the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol. Kiev has categorically denied these allegations and claims Russia is responsible for the strike, saying that Moscow sought to blame Ukraine for committing ‘war crimes’. Russia and allied forces have repeatedly accused Ukraine of shelling civilian infrastructure with various heavy weaponry, including HIMARS.

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There’s still money to be made…

British Boats Assist In Transporting Russian Oil (RT)

British-crewed ships have participated in transporting Russian crude oil to Asia, The Independent revealed on Friday, claiming that the “small part” they play in the chain indicates “huge holes” in the Western sanctions on Moscow. A joint investigation of The Independent and the website Global Witness found that at least twice in May, British-crewed vessels based in the Suffolk town of Southwold “sped out from nearby harbours to help transfer Russian oil between vast tankers.” One boat was sent by a British company called STS Marine Transfers to move 14,000 tonnes of Russian fuel oil from one foreign tanker to another, while another, a catamaran called Endeavor that belongs to a company known as Wood Marine, delivered supplies and took the tankers’ crews ashore. The oil transfers took place outside UK territorial waters.

“After refuelling, the two tankers carried 165,000 tonnes of Russian fuel oil – worth more than £165m – onwards to the Persian Gulf and Singapore,” The Independent said. According to the outlet, the transfers “are one link in an international chain” that has helped Russia to quickly shift oil sales to Asia, as European buyers cut back. When approached by the journalists, one of the operators of the British ships said their boats just provide “a taxi service at sea,” and therefore there is no obligation to check where the oil comes from. Another company said it was complying with all international laws and regulations, and had not renewed its contract with cargoes originating from Russia.

“The exact number of transfers of Russian oil that have taken place off Britain’s coast is not known. They are not illegal, and there is nothing stopping British companies from taking part, but they are an indication of huge holes in Western sanctions,” the investigators claim. They added that, as “global shipping is among the most opaque and least accountable industries in the world,” and many things are happening “beyond the reach of individual nation states,” the industry significantly undermines Western countries’ ability to put pressure on Russia. The G7 has said it is aware of the problem and plans to introduce a price cap which would allow Western nations to curb Moscow’s oil revenue. The bloc has also been trying to lure China and India, major buyers of Russian crude, into joining the deal.

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“..High-level Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members within the U.N. system helped create the SDGs..”

UN, World Economic Forum Behind Global ‘War on Farmers’ (ET)

The escalating regulatory attack on agricultural producers from Holland and the United States to Sri Lanka and beyond is closely tied to the United Nations’ “Agenda 2030” Sustainable Development Goals and the U.N.’s partners at the World Economic Forum (WEF), numerous experts told The Epoch Times. Indeed, several of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are directly implicated in policies that are squeezing farmers, ranchers, and food supplies around the world. High-level Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members within the U.N. system helped create the SDGs and are currently helping lead the organization’s implementation of the global plan, The Epoch Times has previously documented.

If left unchecked, multiple experts said, the U.N.-backed sustainability policies on agriculture and food production would lead to economic devastation, shortages of critical goods, widespread famine, and a dramatic loss of individual freedoms. Already, millions of people worldwide are facing dangerous food shortages, and officials around the world say those are set to get worse as the year goes on. There is an agenda behind it all, experts told The Epoch Times. Even private land ownership is in the crosshairs, as global food production and the world economy are transformed to meet the global sustainability goals, U.N. documents reviewed by The Epoch Times show.

As explained by the U.N. on its SDG website, the goals adopted in 2015 “build on decades of work by countries and the U.N.” One of the earliest meetings defining the “sustainability” agenda was the U.N. Conference on Human Settlements known as Habitat I, which adopted the Vancouver Declaration. The agreement stated that “land cannot be treated as an ordinary asset controlled by individuals” and that private land ownership is “a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth, therefore contributes to social injustice.” “Public control of land use is therefore indispensable,” the U.N. declaration said, a prelude to the World Economic Forum’s now infamous “prediction” that by 2030, “you’ll own nothing.”

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He’s on a photoshoot.

Zelensky’s ‘Elite Kraken neo-Nazi Battalion’ Destroyed – Russia (RT)

Russia’s armed forces destroyed the Ukrainian president’s ‘elite assault battalion’ and dozens of fighters from the notorious Kraken neo-Nazi formation, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday. Providing an update on the progress of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, Konashenkov said that on July 28, at the Krasnoarmeysk railway station in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Russian military conducted a direct strike “with a high-precision air-based weapon” on a train transporting “an elite assault battalion of the 1st Separate Brigade of the President of Ukraine.” “More than 140 nationalists were killed on the spot. About 250 more militants received injuries of varying severity. All military equipment that was in the echelon was disabled,” Konashenkov stated.

The next day, in the area of Bogodukhov in Kharkov Region, Iskander missiles hit the hangars of a meat processing plant where the Kraken nationalist formation had set up a temporary base, according to the military spokesman. “More than 30 Nazis and 10 units of military equipment were destroyed.” Kraken calls itself a special reconnaissance and sabotage unit under the Ministry of Defense, operating separately from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Moscow has accused the battalion of committing several war crimes since the beginning of the conflict. Also on July 29, Russian forces destroyed 30 Ukrainian servicemen, a warehouse with rockets for Grad combat vehicles, and military equipment in the settlement of Yasnobrodovka in the DPR.

In the area of Artemovsk, according to Konashenkov, Ukrainian losses amounted to 50 servicemen and eight units of military equipment. “In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, the following have been destroyed: 261 aircraft, 145 helicopters, 1,644 unmanned aerial vehicles, 361 anti-aircraft missile systems, 4,190 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 772 combat vehicles of multiple launch rocket systems, 3,217 field artillery guns and mortars, as well as 4,573 units of special military vehicles,” the general said.

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“..The levy should be accompanied by a relief package for lower-income households, otherwise the new charge could lead to a “social catastrophe..”

Gas Levy Could Triple Household Heating Bills In Germany (ZH)

Germany plans to introduce a levy for all its gas consumers beginning in October as the government looks to avoid a wave of collapsing gas-importing and gas-trading companies amid record-high natural gas prices, a new bill seen by Reuters showed on Thursday. Russia is further reducing flows via Nord Stream this week, to just 20% of the pipeline’s capacity, days after restarting the link at 40% capacity after regular maintenance. The German government has already intervened to rescue energy group Uniper, Russia’s single largest gas buyer in Germany. Uniper—and many other German gas traders and suppliers—have been reeling from reduced Russian supply and soaring prices of non-Russian gas.

Germany and Uniper agreed last week on a $15 billion bailout package, including the German government taking a 30-percent stake in the company and making more liquidity and credit lines available to the group. Under the plans of the government, all consumers of gas, including households, will have to pay an additional levy, which will go to support Germany’s gas importing companies, which struggle with a lack of Russian gas and sky-high prices of non-Russian alternatives. The details of the bill are set to be announced next month. Households and industrial consumers are expected to pay the levy through September 2024, according to the draft Reuters has seen.

“One doesn’t know exactly how much (gas) will cost in November, but the bitter news is that it’s definitely a few hundred euros per household,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck was quoted by Reuters as saying on Thursday. Marcel Fratzscher, president of DIW, the German Institute for Economic Research, told Düsseldorf’s Rheinischen Post newspaper that German households should prepare for at least tripled costs of heating on gas. The levy should be accompanied by a relief package for lower-income households, otherwise the new charge could lead to a “social catastrophe,” Fratzscher added.

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Karine Jean-Pierre is ridiculous.

Biden Admin Quietly Builds More Border Wall Amid Migration Surge (JTN)

The Biden administration is quietly funding the completion of a segment of Trump’s border wall in Arizona amid an unprecedented influx of migrants crossing the nation’s border with Mexico. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas authorized Customs and Border Protection to fill gaps in existing barriers near the Morelos Dam outside of Yuma, Ariz., the New York Post reported.The department cited health and hazard concerns should migrants attempt to enter the U.S. via that route, saying the area “presents safety and life hazard risks for migrants attempting to cross into the United States where there is a risk of drownings and injuries from falls. This area also poses a life and safety risk to first responders and agents responding to incidents in this area.”


Some Republicans supported the decision to complete the portion of the border wall. “This may very well be the first time Biden has made a decision based on the actual facts, and the fact is an open border is a dangerous border,” Georgia Republican Rep. Austin Scott told Just the News. In a Thursday press conference, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied the administration was completing Trump’s border wall. “We’re not finishing the wall,” she said, per the Post. “We are cleaning up the mess the prior administration left behind in their failed attempt to build a wall.” Record numbers of migrants continue to surge across the southern border as the administration struggles to process the influx.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1553150314206957568

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“..Paxlovid can cause this issue by suppressing patients’ immune systems too early..” Say that again?!

Covid Reinfection Rate With Paxlovid Is More Than 40%, Not 2% As Marketed (DM)

Joe Biden has been re-infected with COVID after taking an anti-viral drug that leaves patients running a 40 per cent risk of flare-up of the virus shortly afterwards. Taking Paxlovid leaves COVID sufferers in danger of testing positive for the virus again very quickly after clearing their initial infection. When Paxlovid came to market in December 2021, studies from Pfizer indicated that only 1-2 percent of patients who took the drug tested positive for Covid again shortly after finishing their dosage. But other experts say the rapid reinfection rate is closer to 40 per cent, and that Paxlovid can cause this issue by suppressing patients’ immune systems too early, meaning their own bodies are unable to get a handle on COVID.


Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a prominent cardiologist and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University Hospital tweeted: ‘I think this was predictable.’ He continued: ‘The prior data suggesting ‘rebound’ Paxlovid positivity in the low single digits is outdates and with BA.5 is likely 20-40% or even higher.’ In a memo released by the White House, Dr. Kevin O’Connor said that the president will continue to isolate, just like he did when he first tested positive on July 21. Dr. O’Connor also said that the president would not be prescribed Paxlovid again.

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“Know what proteins are present in the vaccine..” Google translation.

Italian Court Orders Analysis Of mRNA Vaccines (Muac)

An Italian court seized by an individual opposed to anti-Covid vaccination has ordered the laboratory analysis of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, we learned this Saturday from the plaintiff’s lawyer. The court in Pesaro, near San Marino (east), has commissioned an expert to identify the contents of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech messenger RNA anti-Covid vaccines . These analyzes will be carried out in September, said lawyer Nicoletta Morante. According to her, this is “a first in Italy, and perhaps in Europe”. The complainant, who has already contracted the disease in the past, is a fifty-year-old working in particular in education, and whose activity in Italy is subject to the vaccination obligation. Refractory, he is under administrative sanctions, according to Me Nicoletta Morante.


In addition to “he asks to establish whether vaccinating people cured of Covid satisfies the good administration of medicine”, he wants to know what proteins are present in these vaccines and whether they contain “excipients for non-human or dangerous use. for health,” according to a summary of the complaint. The messenger RNA treatment allows the cells to reproduce proteins present in the virus – the “antigens” – in order to accustom the immune system to recognize and neutralize it. In support of the civil complaint presented to Pesaro, the lawyer produced the opinion of a medical researcher, presented as an independent virologist, who believes that mRNA vaccines do not fulfill the protective function for which they are injected. . These vaccines, he writes in the complaint, “do not have the declared functional conformation” and the immune response they engender “is ineffective”.

Nanowires

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WEF Ardern

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mar 102017
 
 March 10, 2017  Posted by at 9:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


Marjory Collins “Italian girls watching US Army parade on Mott Street, New York” 1942

 

Janet Yellen Is Busy Preparing America For A New Economic Era (G.)
Albert Edwards: Next Week The Fed Will Unleash “A Bond Market Bloodbath” (ZH)
Bill Gross: Don’t Be Fooled By ‘Trump Mirage’ (Forbes)
Why Do Politicians Continue To Push The Zombie Creed Of Austerity? (G.)
New WikiLeaks Reveal Proof Of Slippery Slope Toward Totalitarianism (Kucinich)
Assange Says Leaks Show CIA’s ‘Devastating Incompetence’ (AFP)
China Concerned At Revelations In Wikileaks Dump Of Hacked CIA Data (R.)
Truman Was Right About the CIA (Deist)
Don’t Forget JFK’s Fight With The CIA (LR)
China Rails Against US For Human Rights Violations (R.)
China As A Superpower (Tavares)
Germany’s ‘Powerhouse’ Economy Is Cracking (CNBC)
1/8th Of QE Money, Given To The Public, Would Have Had The Same Effect (MK)
One in Three U.K. Homeowners Earn More From Property Than Work (BBG)
Poland Reacts With Fury To Re-Election Of Donald Tusk (G.)
80% of Greek Households Struggle To Make Ends Meet (BBG)

 

 

“The old rule of thumb is that recessions come around every seven years..” But the old rule said nothing about QE. It talked about functioning markets, not what we see now.

Janet Yellen Is Busy Preparing America For A New Economic Era (G.)

The head of the US central bank is busy preparing America, its new president, and indeed the world, for rising interest rates – and for a new economic era. The story of US interest rates this decade is simple to the point of tedium. The key fed funds rate has been dragging along just above zero ever since the banking crash. In December 2015, it was nudged up by a quarter of a%age point by Ms Yellen and her colleagues at the Federal Reserve. A whole year later, they nudged it up again, which means that seven years after the notional end of the US recession it stands at mere 0.75%. That is set to change. Over the past few weeks, rate setters at the Fed have dropped broader and broader hints that interest rates will go up as soon as next Wednesday – and will keep going up.

Last Friday was the turn of Ms Yellen. Speaking in Chicago, she said: “We currently judge that it will be appropriate to gradually increase the federal funds rate if the economic data continue to come in about as we expect.” That is about as straightforward as you get in central-bank speak. Nor is that likely to be the end of the rises: according to the Fed’s charts, committee members now forecast three interest-rate rises this year alone, and more in 2018. There are geopolitical reasons to hold off making too early a move. Next month, France’s presidential election, in which rightwing, anti-euro candidate Marine Le Pen is leading the polls, kicks off. Last year, the Fed held off in June before the Brexit vote. While the timing is still moot, there are few betting that rates won’t rise.

Considering this, three observations can be made. First, even while all this briefing has been going on, US asset markets have remained remarkably buoyant. That is very different from the nerves exhibited by investors in US Treasury bonds in 2013, when Ms Yellen’s predecessor, Ben Bernanke, dared to suggest he might turn off the tap marked “easy money”. Even with a much more volatile figure in the White House, financial markets seem far more confident on the prospects for the US. Second, by raising rates now the Fed is giving itself vital room for manoeuvre ahead of the next downturn. The old rule of thumb is that recessions come around every seven years – which would mean, going by the National Bureau of Economic Research, that the next bust is not far away.

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“All that is needed now is for the Fed to sprinkle life-giving rate hikes onto these, as yet dormant, seeds of destruction.”

Albert Edwards: Next Week The Fed Will Unleash “A Bond Market Bloodbath” (ZH)

Make no mistake. Unlike most in the markets, I remain a secular bond bull and do not think this 35 year long bull bond market is over. I believe the US Fed has created another massive credit bubble that will, when it bursts, lay the global economy very low indeed. Combine this with the problems of a Chinese economy dependent on increasingly ineffective injections of credit to produce increasingly pedestrian GDP growth and you have a right global mess. The 2007/8 Global Financial Crisis will look like a soft-landing when the Fed blows this sucker sky high. The seeds for that debacle have already been sown with the Fed having presided over one of the biggest corporate credit bubbles in US history. All that is needed now is for the Fed to sprinkle life-giving rate hikes onto these, as yet dormant, seeds of destruction.

Accelerated Fed rate hikes will cause tremors in the Treasury bond markets, forcing rates up, most especially in the 2 year – just like 1994. But as yet another central bank-inspired global recession unfolds, I believe US 10y bond yields will ultimately converge with Japanese and European yields well below zero – in other words, buy 10y bonds on weakness! [..] For those few of us in the markets of a certain age, Orange County conjures up only one thing: 1994 goes down in infamy as one of the biggest ever bond market bloodbaths in history culminating at the end of the year with Orange County in California going bankrupt (younger clients in their late 20s will only know the OC as the mid-2000s teen programme based in Newport Beach, which I watched religiously with my then teenage son and daughter).

I remember the 1994 period as if it were yesterday (unlike yesterday itself). Despite the Fed telegraphing the series of rate hikes and market participants forecasting multiple hikes, it was most curious how the market went into total convulsion. I was chatting to my ‘similarly young’ colleague Kit Juckes about this and he reminded me that the whole yield curve gapped up some 50bp immediately! It was a bloodbath, especially for 2y paper.

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Remember Nicole talking about multiple claims to underlying real wealth: “Our highly levered financial system is like a truckload of nitro glycerin on a bumpy road,” Gross says. “One mistake can set off a credit implosion where holders of stocks, high yield bonds, and yes, subprime mortgages all rush to the bank to claim its one and only dollar in the vault.”

Bill Gross: Don’t Be Fooled By ‘Trump Mirage’ (Forbes)

Bill Gross has never been one to mince words – and his March investment outlook is no anomaly in his oeuvre of outspoken manifestos. In his latest investor letter, out Thursday morning, Janus Capital’s billionaire bond guru warns against putting too much faith in the market exuberance inspired by President Trump and his agenda. “‘Don’t lose it’ is my first and most important conceptual lesson for [my kids] despite the Trump bull market and the current ‘animal spirits’ that encourage risk, as opposed to the preservation of capital,” Gross writes. (Though more a matter of coincidence, the reference to animal spirits is a canny turn of phrase: JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon said in an interview Thursday morning that business and consumer confidence has “skyrocketed” because Trump has “woken up the animal spirits.”)

Gross goes on: “Don’t be allured by the Trump mirage of 3-4% growth and the magical benefits of tax cuts and deregulation. The U.S. and indeed the global economy is walking a fine line due to increasing leverage and the potential for too high (or too low) interest rates to wreak havoc on an increasingly stressed financial system. Be more concerned about the return of your money than the return on your money in 2017 and beyond.” This not the first time Gross has gone after Trump: he levied criticism in November (“I write in amazed, almost amused bewilderment at what American voters have done to themselves,” he said at the time) and again in December (“investors must consider the negatives of Trump’s anti-globalization ideas”). But the rationale in his latest investor letter is different from his prior notes, centering less on Trump’s policies and more on the global credit situation.

The world economy, Gross says, currently holds more credit relative to GDP than it did at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis. In the U.S., credit is 350% of annual GDP, “and the ratio is rising,” he says. In China, that ratio sits close to 300%. Gross acknowledges that capitalism depends on credit expansion, but says that credit creation has its limits, and interest rates must be carefully monitored so that borrowers can repay their debts. But if rates are too low, “the system breaks down,” because savers and pension funds can’t earn a high enough rate of return to service those debts. “Our highly levered financial system is like a truckload of nitro glycerin on a bumpy road,” Gross says. “One mistake can set off a credit implosion where holders of stocks, high yield bonds, and yes, subprime mortgages all rush to the bank to claim its one and only dollar in the vault.”

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“We are being schooled in an extraordinary cognitive dissonance..”

Why Do Politicians Continue To Push The Zombie Creed Of Austerity? (G.)

The US cognitive linguist George Lakoff characterises politics as a clash between two opposing models of parenting. Rightwingers subscribe to the strict, responsible parent with a firm grip on the purse strings, while leftwingers prefer the nurturing, providing version. Everyone is currently in thrall to the strict-parent model. Politicians and supposedly impartial broadcasters are constantly noting that, of course, “times are tight”. The beneficent state is a luxury we can no longer afford. “We can’t go back to 1945,” government ministers intone wearily, as if explaining to a child, before blithely announcing a return to other mid-century relics – such as grammar schools. Despite being thoroughly discredited by economists, and despite Theresa May’s promised investment programme, the zombie creed of austerity staggers on.

On what basis, exactly, do we live in straitened times? Yes, there’s the cost and uncertainty of Brexit. But a year or two ago, it was something else – the fallout from the recession, or turbulence in the eurozone. This is opportunistic shock doctrine stuff, where any bungling failure or general sense of global adversity can lend partisan political choices the air of necessity. The annual ritual of the budget reanimates the pernicious myth that the economy is like a household budget. Since we have our own currency, we actually enjoy capacious fiscal elasticity. The “strict” parent is really a mean parent. The “fairer funding formula”, by which the government is proposing to take money from some schools to give to supposedly more deserving ones, is a pointless zero-sum game. Instead of making children fight over measly slivers of cake, why not just bake a bigger one?

There are extraordinary funds in private hands, if only we conceived of them as part of our common wealth. A report last week by property consultants Knight Frank predicted that the number of UK-based ultra-high-net-worth individuals (those with more than £24m in assets) will rise by 30% over the next decade. There is more than £10trn squirrelled away in the UK. The NHS costs £110bn a year; total government spending on education is £85bn a year. We are being schooled in an extraordinary cognitive dissonance, with luxury housing developments springing up in plain sight across the capital. If you question the basis on which we deem these evident riches untouchable, you are dismissed as hopelessly naive. There’s something doubly infantilising about this reaction: aren’t you aware that belts need to be tightened? And don’t you know the difference between public and private money?

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“We have crossed the threshold of a cowardly new world..”

New WikiLeaks Reveal Proof Of Slippery Slope Toward Totalitarianism (Kucinich)

The U.S. government must get a grip on the massive opening that the CIA, through its misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance, has created. If Tuesday’s WikiLeaks document dump is authentic, as it appears to be, then the agency left open electronic gateways that make all Americans vulnerable to spying, eavesdropping and technological manipulation that could bring genuine harm. That the CIA has reached into the lives of all Americans through its wholesale gathering of the nation’s “haystack” of information has already been reported. It is bad enough that the government spies on its own people. It is equally bad that the CIA, through its incompetence, has opened the cyberdoor to anyone with the technological skills and connections to spy on anyone else.

The constant erosion of privacy at the hands of the government and corporations has annihilated the concept of a “right to privacy,” which is embedded in the rationale of the First, Third, Fourth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are sliding down the slippery slope toward totalitarianism, where private lives do not exist. We have entered a condition of constitutional crisis that requires a full-throated response from the American people. I have repeatedly warned about the dangers of the Patriot Act and its successive iterations, the execrable national security letters that turn every FBI agent into a star chamberlain, the dangers of fear-based security policies eroding our republic. We have crossed the threshold of a cowardly new world, and it’s time we tell the government and the corporations who have intruded to stop it.

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The CIA should have shared its info with Apple et al, to make phones etc safe. It did not.

Assange Says Leaks Show CIA’s ‘Devastating Incompetence’ (AFP)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday accused the CIA of “devastating incompetence” for failing to protect its hacking secrets and said he would work with tech companies to develop fixes for them. “This is a historic act of devastating incompetence, to have created such an arsenal and then stored it all in one place,” Assange said. “It is impossible to keep effective control of cyber weapons… If you build them, eventually you will lose them,” Assange said. Assange was speaking in a press conference streamed live from Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has been living as a fugitive from justice since 2012. He said his anti-secrecy website had “a lot more information” about the Central Intelligence Agency’s hacking operation but would hold off on publishing it until WikiLeaks had spoken to tech manufacturers.

“We have decided to work with them to give them some exclusive access to the additional technical details we have so fixes can be developed and then pushed out. “Once this material is effectively disarmed by us we will publish additional details about what has been occurring,” he added. [..] WikiLeaks itself said the documents, hacking tools and code came from an archive that had circulated among US government hackers and private contractors. “The CIA has been so careless to produce this material. So do various cyber mafia already have it? Do foreign intelligence agencies already have it? It’s quite possible numerous people already might have it,” Assange said.

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is WikiLeaks going to share info with China tech as well?

China Concerned At Revelations In Wikileaks Dump Of Hacked CIA Data (R.)

China expressed concern on Thursday over revelations in a trove of data released by Wikileaks purporting to show that the CIA can hack all manner of devices, including those made by Chinese companies. Dozens of firms rushed to contain the damage from possible security weak points following the anti-secrecy organization’s revelations, although some said they needed more details of what the U.S. intelligence agency was up to. Widely-used routers from Silicon Valley-based Cisco were listed as targets, as were those supplied by Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE and Taiwan supplier Zyxel for their devices used in China and Pakistan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China expressed concern about the reports and reiterated its opposition to all forms of hacking. “We urge the U.S. side to stop listening in, monitoring, stealing secrets and internet hacking against China and other countries,” Geng told a daily news briefing. China is frequently accused by the United States and other countries of hacking attacks, which it always denies. The Chinese government has its own sophisticated domestic surveillance program and keeps tight control of the internet at home, saying such measures are needed to protect national security and maintain stability.

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“They spend billions of dollars on stirring up trouble so they’ll have something to report on.”

Truman Was Right About the CIA (Deist)

Unfortunately it was only in hindsight that Truman came to see the “Iron Law of Oligarchy” at work, which posits that all organizations – particularly government bureaucracies – eventually fall under the control of an elite few. That elite, he came to understand, did not include the president or his cabinet:

Truman: I think [creation of the CIA] was a mistake. And if I’d know what was going to happen, I never would have done it. [..] But it got out of hand. The fella … the one that was in the White House after me never paid any attention to it, and it got out of hand. Why, they’ve got an organization over there in Virginia now that is practically the equal of the Pentagon in many ways. And I think I’ve told you, one Pentagon is one too many. Now, as nearly as I can make out, those fellows in the CIA don’t just report on wars and the like, they go out and make their own, and there’s nobody to keep track of what they’re up to. They spend billions of dollars on stirring up trouble so they’ll have something to report on. They’ve become … it’s become a government all of its own and all secret. They don’t have to account to anybody.

That’s a very dangerous thing in a democratic society, and it’s got to be put a stop to. The people have got a right to know what those birds are up to. And if I was back in the White House, people would know. You see, the way a free government works, there’s got to be a housecleaning every now and again, and I don’t care what branch of the government is involved. Somebody has to keep an eye on things. And when you can’t do any housecleaning because everything that goes on is a damn secret, why, then we’re on our way to something the Founding Fathers didn’t have in mind. Secrecy and a free, democratic government don’t mix. And if what happened at the Bay of Pigs doesn’t prove that, I don’t know what does. You have got to keep an eye on the military at all times, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s the birds in the Pentagon or the birds in the CIA.

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“..by the time he was assassinated, Kennedy was at full war against the U.S. national-security establishment. He was challenging all of their Cold War assumptions. He was proposing peaceful coexistence with what the CIA and the military had said was an implacable foe that was determined to take over America. And he was doing the unthinkable — making friends with the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia), Cuba, and the communist world.”

Don’t Forget JFK’s Fight With The CIA (LR)

Kennedy came into office as a standard cold warrior. That is, like most Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, he had bought into the notion that had been inculcated into the American people since the end of World War II — that America’s wartime partner and ally, the Soviet Union (i.e., Russia), was coming to get us and subject the American people to communism. To combat what was billed as an international communist conspiracy based in Moscow, Americans were told, it would be necessary to adopt the same type of governmental structure that existed in Russia — a national-security apparatus grafted onto America’s original limited-government structure that had been established by the Constitution. That apparatus included a giant, permanent, and ever-growing military establishment, or what President Eisenhower would later call “the military-industrial complex.”

It also consisted of a secretive agency called the CIA, which would come to wield omnipotent powers within what continued to be billed as a “limited government.” Such powers would include assassination, regime-change operations, foreign coups, kidnapping, torture, rendition, involuntary medical experimentation (e.g., MKULTRA), spying and surveillance of Americans — the types of things that characterized the KGB and even the Hitler’s Gestapo. Kennedy believed in this apparatus. Even though it had been adopted without a constitutional amendment, he believed it was necessary to keep America free and safe from the Reds, who, it was said, were coming to get us. He experienced his first dose of reality a few months after being sworn into office, when the CIA presented its secret plan to invade Cuba and effect regime change there.

The plan called for using CIA-trained Cuban exiles to do the invading, with the U.S. government denying any role in the operation. Kennedy’s job, under the CIA plan, would be to lie about U.S. involvement in the invasion, thereby making him America’s liar-in-chief (and indirectly subjecting him to blackmail by the CIA). The CIA assured Kennedy that the invasion could succeed without U.S. air support, and JFK made it clear that no air support would be furnished. The CIA lied. In fact, they knew that there was no way that the operation could succeed without air support. But they figured that once the invasion got underway, Kennedy would have no effective choice but to change his mind and provide the needed air support. It was a classic CIA set up of a newly elected president.

When the invasion started to fail, the CIA urged the president to change his mind. He refused to do so, and the invasion force was easily defeated. The CIA considered Kennedy’s action to be a grave betrayal of America and the CIA’s Cuban “freedom fighters.” Kennedy publicly took responsibility for the debacle but privately he was outraged. He knew that the CIA had set him up, with the aim of maneuvering him into intervening with air support. He fired the much-revered and much-respected CIA Director Allen Dulles (who, in a classic conflict of interest, would later be appointed to the Warren Commission). Reflecting his disdain for the CIA, Kennedy promised to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”

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Yes, it’s come to this. That door is now wide open.

China Rails Against US For Human Rights Violations (R.)

China lashed out at the United States for its “terrible human rights problems” in a report on Thursday, adding to recent international criticism of Washington on issues ranging from violence inflicted on minorities to U.S. immigration policies. The U.S. State Department’s annual report on rights in nearly 200 countries last week accused China of torture, executions without due process, repression of political rights and persecution of ethnic minorities, among other issues. In an annual Chinese response to the U.S. report, China’s State Council, or cabinet, said the United States suffered from rampant gun violence and high levels of incarceration. U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria had caused thousands of civilian deaths, according to the report, which was carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

“With the gunshots lingering in people’s ears behind the Statue of Liberty, worsening racial discrimination and the election farce dominated by money politics, the self-proclaimed human rights defender has exposed its human rights ‘myth’ with its own deeds,” the State Council said. “The United States repeatedly trampled on human rights in other countries and wilfully slaughtered innocent victims,” it said, referring to deaths in U.S. drone strikes. On Wednesday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments about migrants, Mexicans and Muslims were “harmful and fuel xenophobic abuses” and that his immigration policies could lead to breaches of international law. Trump’s derogatory campaign rhetoric against Muslims and Mexican immigrants won enthusiastic backing from prominent white supremacists who embrace anti-Jewish, anti-black and anti-Muslim ideologies, though the president has disavowed their support.

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“President Xi Jinping offers some hints. He has discussed the prospects for “democratizing” the international system..”

China As A Superpower (Tavares)

One way to gauge China’s longer term intentions is to assess what Chinese leaders are saying today. President Xi Jinping has articulated a vision for China over the next few decades. This vision has been termed the “Chinese Dream” or the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” These slogans capture goals, milestones, and timelines. In terms of timeframe, the Chinese refer to the “two one hundreds”: i) the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 2021; and ii) the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 2049. By 2021 China hopes to become what the Chinese call a “moderately well-off society.” By mid-century China hopes to be on par with other developed countries.

Most measures for tracking China’s progress are socio-economic in nature: disposable income, socioeconomic equality, access to higher education, access to healthcare and so forth. To achieve these objectives, China still hews to the basic principle laid out by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, namely, peace and development. The concept of peace and development derives from the notion that China needs a peaceful external environment to develop economically. But there are also external components to China’s long term goals, particularly China’s relations with the rest of the world. President Xi Jinping offers some hints. He has discussed the prospects for “democratizing” the international system. This is code for a transition from a unipolar world dominated by the United States to a multipolar world.

As China rises, China envisions the emergence of a new global configuration in which China is a great power among other coequal great powers, including the European Union, India, and Russia, in the international system. This aligns with the “rise of the rest” hypothesis. As China gets very strong, it would also seek to amend the rules that have governed the current international order in ways that accommodates China’s interests as a great power. China’s rise thus raises a series of important questions about the implications for Asia. What does China want in East Asia as it rises? Would China seek to become the dominant power in East Asia? Would it seek a dramatically reduced role for the United States? More troubling, would China seek a Sino-centric regional order in which many of its neighbors, including Japan, must acquiesce to its strategic prerogatives?

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“..German industrial new orders dropping by 7.4% on the month in January – the biggest monthly fall since 2009 [..] January figures showed a drop of 10.5% in domestic demand and a contraction of 4.9% in foreign orders.”

Germany’s ‘Powerhouse’ Economy Is Cracking (CNBC)

Germany is often described as the “powerhouse” of Europe, but the health of the world’s fourth largest economy is not as rosy as most people think, according to one economist. “The crack in Germany’s economy has become most evident in consumer spending. Retail sales volumes have slowed consistently since growth rates peaked in mid-2015. They have crashed in the last six monthly reports,” Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note earlier this week. Hard data shows that Germany’s economy has been facing problems for at least the past six months, despite an uptick in growth at the end of last year. At the same time, income has been slowing dramatically and the reasons behind this are far from clear.

“As domestic demand is imploding, so is foreign demand,” Weinberg added. “Exports are flat year-on-year. This is not to say that net exports are not rising. However, the flat gross exports mean industrial output to make goods for export is not growing.” “Without growth of either exports or domestic consumer spending, industrial production has stalled,” Weinberg said. On Tuesday, data showed German industrial new orders dropping by 7.4% on the month in January – the biggest monthly fall since 2009. According to Reuters, a breakdown of the January figures showed a drop of 10.5% in domestic demand and a contraction of 4.9% in foreign orders.

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Second part of the show. Last week, Steve ‘submittied evidence’ on QE to a Treasury Committee in the UK.

“If these conventional theories of economics actually worked, you and I wouldn’t have an audience.”

1/8th Of QE Money, Given To The Public, Would Have Had The Same Effect (MK)

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss why neoliberalism didn’t make us richer. In the second half, Max interviews professor Steve Keen about Quantitative easing (QE) and its role in financial crisis.

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But they will tell you this is normal.

One in Three U.K. Homeowners Earn More From Property Than Work (BBG)

Home prices in 31% of the U.K.’s local authority districts have risen more than the total average take-home pay of workers in the area over the past two years, according to Halifax. While homeowners would have to sell their houses to realize those gains, it illustrates how quickly prices have risen, as well as how hard it is for new buyers to get on the property ladder. Rising house prices have helped underpin consumption, the backbone of Britain’s economy, even as wage increases have been more modest. Still, the distribution of gains highlight regional disparities. More than 90% of the areas were in London, the South and East of England, the report published Friday said.

The biggest gap was in Haringey, a borough in the north of the capital city, where house prices increased by an average of 139,803 pounds ($169,805), exceeding average take-home earnings by 91,450 pounds or 3,810 pounds per month. “While it’s no longer unusual for houses to ‘earn’ more than the people living in them in some places, there are clearly local impacts,” said economist Martin Ellis. “Homeowners in these areas can build up large levels of equity quickly, but for potential buyers whose wages have failed to keep pace, the cost of buying a home has become more unaffordable.” The only areas where earnings exceeded house price increases were the North East, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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The peak AND the bottom of EU democracy. Tusk is in Brussels to represent Poland. But Poland doesn’t want him to do that. The EU doesn’t care.

Poland Reacts With Fury To Re-Election Of Donald Tusk (G.)

Donald Tusk has won a second term as European council president, overcoming bitter opposition from Poland that has left the country isolated in Europe. Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, was re-elected on Thursday with overwhelming support to lead the council, the body that organises EU leaders’ meetings, for a second term lasting two and a half years. His reappointment until the end of 2019 means he will play a crucial role in Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU. The Pole, from the pro-European centre-right Civic Platform party, overcame strong resistance from his own government, led by the Eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS). The outcome was never in doubt, but is a blow for the Warsaw government, which responded with fury. “We know now that it [the EU] is a union under Berlin’s diktat,” the Polish foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, told Polish media, echoing persistent claims by PiS that the EU is controlled by Berlin.

Despite its anger, however, Poland was left isolated as other countries including traditional central European allies lined up to back Tusk, a popular choice to guide the EU through difficult Brexit talks and tense debates on migration. News of his re-election was broken by Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel, who tweeted his congratulations less than two hours after the meeting had started. In a rare formal vote, 27 of the EU’s 28 governments supported Tusk. The Polish prime minister, Beata Szydlo, confirmed that Poland would retaliate by blocking the EU summit communique, a statement summarising EU policy on economic growth, migration and the western Balkans. But the document can still be approved in a different procedure, a manoeuvre likely to deepen the wedge between Warsaw and other EU capitals.

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For some reason the text with the graph is about the UK, though that’s obviously not where the problem is.

80% of Greek Households Struggle To Make Ends Meet (BBG)

Around one in six U.K. households had “great difficulty” or “difficulty” in making ends meet in 2015, according to Eurostat. While that’s below the estimated average of 26% across the European Union, it’s more than triple the proportion of struggling Swedes and about double the%age in Germany. With inflation forecast to accelerate this year and grocers such as Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc warning price increases will soon hit, British consumers look set to face a further squeeze on living standards this year.

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Feb 272017
 
 February 27, 2017  Posted by at 9:39 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Wyland Stanley Indian guides and Nash auto at Covelo stables., Mendocino County CA 1925

 

The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Monetary Policy Isn’t Working (WSJ)
Giant Fiscal Bloodbath Coming Soon – David Stockman (USAW)
Marc Faber Warns Investors An ‘Avalanche’ Could Be Coming (CNBC)
What Does Steve Bannon Want? (NYT)
Where Did Steve Bannon Get His Worldview? From My Book.. (Howe)
Of Bread And Circuses (Admiral Ben Moreell, January 1, 1956)
Dijsselbloem Comes Out Fighting as Wilders Holds Dutch Poll Lead (BBG)
EU Lawmakers Call For ‘Federal Union’ Of European States (RT)
EU Lawmakers, In Unusual Move, Pull The Plug On Racist Talk (AP)
No Debt Relief For Greece, Germany’s Deputy Finance Minister Says (R.)
Germany Announces The Final Pillage Of Greece (RI)

 

 

Policies that achieve the opposite of what’s intended. Scaring people does that. Lower consumer spending = lower money velocity = Deflation.

The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Monetary Policy Isn’t Working (WSJ)

Keita Kameyama, a 30-year-old civil servant in Kagawa, a rural province, has been saving around 25% of his $40,000 salary each year to eventually marry his longtime girlfriend. He lives at home with his mother, drives an old Honda and rarely shops. The central bank’s stimulus measures had no effect on Mr. Kameyama’s spending. He still salts away his money in plain-vanilla bank accounts. He fears Japan’s long stagnation will wipe out his pension, and worries he won’t have enough money to care for his mother—a growing concern in a country with twice as many people over 60 than between 20 and 34. He sees bank accounts, which offer minuscule interest rates on deposits despite negative short-term rates, as the only way to save. Hyakujushi Bank, Ltd. the biggest in Kagawa, pays only 0.05% on deposits and has paid less than 1% since 1995.

“People in Kagawa love to save,” says Mr. Kameyama. “I have heard [the Bank of Japan] is trying very hard to get people to spend their money, but I don’t think I will be opening my wallet.” Many young Japanese economize because they simply don’t have enough money. More are working low-paying and temporary jobs with no benefits. “Companies aren’t growing, and they have aging workforces that they can’t fire,” says Takuji Okubo at the Japan Macro Advisors research group. “So there’s no room to hire young people.” Automobile, beer and cosmetics firms have slashed young-adult advertising and market to retirees instead, says Yohei Harada at Tokyo ad agency Hakuhodo. “The role of parents and children is getting reversed, where the parents from the bubble generation still act like children and want to buy the fancy car, while their children in the post-bubble generation worry about their parents’ spending,” he says.

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“There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”

Giant Fiscal Bloodbath Coming Soon – David Stockman (USAW)

Former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman says financial pain is a mathematical certainty. Stockman explains, “I think we are likely to have more of a fiscal bloodbath rather than fiscal stimulus. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, not only did the public vote the establishment out, they left on his doorstep the inheritance of 30 years of debt build-up and a fiscal policy that’s been really reckless in the extreme. People would like to think he’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan and we are going to have morning in America. Unfortunately, I don’t think it looks that promising because Trump is inheriting a mess that pales into insignificance what we had to deal with in January of 1981 when I joined the Reagan White House as Budget Director.”

So, can the Trump bump in the stock market keep going? Stockman, who wrote a book titled “Trumped” predicting a Trump victory in 2016, says, “I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in the hot place that’s going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers’ rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It’s 106% of GDP. . . Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He’s going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it’s madness. It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books.”

Then, Stockman drops this bomb and says, “I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th 2017. That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate. By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”

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“Very simply, the market starts to go down. As it goes down, it will start triggering selling, and then it will be like an avalanche..”

Marc Faber Warns Investors An ‘Avalanche’ Could Be Coming (CNBC)

The man often hailed as the original ‘Dr. Doom’ is warning investors that the U.S. stock market is vulnerable to a seismic sell-off—one that could start any time in a very unassuming way. Marc Faber, the editor of “The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report,” predicted the rally’s disruption won’t be caused by any single catalyst. His argument: Stocks are very overbought and sentiment is way too bullish for the so-called Trump rally to continue. “Very simply, the market starts to go down. As it goes down, it will start triggering selling, and then it will be like an avalanche,” said Faber recently on “Futures Now.” “I would underweight U.S. stocks.” Faber, a supporter of President Donald Trump, isn’t blaming the new administration for his bearish forecast. “One man alone, he cannot make ‘America great again.’ That you have to realize,” he said.

“Trump, unlike Mr. Reagan, is facing huge, huge headwinds — including a debt to GDP that is gigantic, as it is in other countries.” Faber lists interest rates going up, as well as earnings and margins at record levels, as additional risks to the historic rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average registered its eleventh record close in a row on Friday. And, if you take a look at just the S&P 500 in February, it’s on track to see the fewest declines in any month since May 1990. [..] There are areas overseas which are in much better shape than the United States, according to the notoriously bearish investor. “China looks quite attractive,” said Faber. “For the next three months, money can flow into China. The economy, surprisingly, has begun to do quite well. We see that in retail in Hong Kong. We see that in the hotel industry, and we see that in the demand for commodities.”

According to Faber, resource commodities such as copper and gold could also give investors solid profits this year. “When you look at Trump and his administration, and the way the budget is, I think further money printing down the line is inevitable,” he said — a policy which would could lift commodities even higher.

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Two Bannon articles today. Not because I’m a fan, as some people undoubtedly like to think. Just better to know something.

What Does Steve Bannon Want? (NYT)

[..] some of the roots of Mr. Bannon’s ideology, like the roots of Mr. Trump’s popularity, are to be found in the disappointed hopes of the global economy. But Mr. Bannon, unlike Mr. Trump, has a detailed idea, an explanation, of how American sovereignty was lost, and of what to do about it. It is the same idea that Tea Party activists have: A class of regulators in the government has robbed Americans of their democratic prerogatives. That class now constitutes an “administrative state” that operates to empower itself and enrich its crony-capitalist allies. When Mr. Bannon spoke on Thursday of “deconstructing the administrative state,” it may have sounded like gobbledygook outside the hall, but it was an electrifying profession of faith for the attendees. It is through Mr. Bannon that Trumpism can be converted from a set of nostalgic laments and complaints into a program for overhauling the government.

Mr. Bannon adds something personal and idiosyncratic to this Tea Party mix. He has a theory of historical cycles that can be considered elegantly simple or dangerously simplistic. It is a model laid out by William Strauss and Neil Howe in two books from the 1990s. Their argument assumes an 80- to 100-year cycle divided into roughly 20-year “highs,” “awakenings,” “unravelings” and “crises.” The American Revolution, the Civil War, the New Deal, World War II — Mr. Bannon has said for years that we’re due for another crisis about now. His documentary about the 2008 financial collapse, “Generation Zero,” released in 2010, uses the Strauss-Howe model to explain what happened, and concludes with Mr. Howe himself saying, “History is seasonal, and winter is coming.”

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What’s striking is that both Bannon articles are mild. Even if they’re from NYT and WaPo.

Where Did Steve Bannon Get His Worldview? From My Book.. (Howe)

The headlines this month have been alarming. “Steve Bannon’s obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome” (Business Insider). “Steve Bannon Believes The Apocalypse Is Coming And War Is Inevitable” (the Huffington Post). “Steve Bannon Wants To Start World War III” (the Nation). A common thread in these media reports is that President Trump’s chief strategist is an avid reader and that the book that most inspires his worldview is “The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.” I wrote that book with William Strauss back in 1997. It is true that Bannon is enthralled by it. In 2010, he released a documentary, “Generation Zero,” that is structured around our theory that history in America (and by extension, most other modern societies) unfolds in a recurring cycle of four-generation-long eras.

While this cycle does include a time of civic and political crisis — a Fourth Turning, in our parlance — the reporting on the book has been absurdly apocalyptic. I don’t know Bannon well. I have worked with him on several film projects, including “Generation Zero,” over the years. I’ve been impressed by his cultural savvy. His politics, while unusual, never struck me as offensive. I was surprised when he took over the leadership of Breitbart and promoted the views espoused on that site. Like many people, I first learned about the alt-right (a far-right movement with links to Breitbart and a loosely defined white-nationalist agenda) from the mainstream media. Strauss, who died in 2007, and I never told Bannon what to say or think. But we did perhaps provide him with an insight — that populism, nationalism and state-run authoritarianism would soon be on the rise, not just in America but around the world. Because we never attempted to write a political manifesto, we were surprised by the book’s popularity among certain crusaders on both the left and the right.

[..] The cycle begins with the First Turning, a “High” which comes after a crisis era. In a High, institutions are strong and individualism is weak. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, even if many feel stifled by the prevailing conformity. Many Americans alive today can recall the post-World War II American High (historian William O’Neill’s term), coinciding with the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy presidencies. Earlier examples are the post-Civil War Victorian High of industrial growth and stable families, and the post-Constitution High of Democratic Republicanism and Era of Good Feelings.

The Second Turning is an “Awakening,” when institutions are attacked in the name of higher principles and deeper values. Just when society is hitting its high tide of public progress, people suddenly tire of all the social discipline and want to recapture a sense of personal authenticity. Salvation by faith, not works, is the youth rallying cry. One such era was the Consciousness Revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s. Some historians call this America’s Fourth or Fifth Great Awakening, depending on whether they start the count in the 17th century with John Winthrop or the 18th century with Jonathan Edwards.

The Third Turning is an “Unraveling,” in many ways the opposite of the High. Institutions are weak and distrusted, while individualism is strong and flourishing. Third Turning decades such as the 1990s, the 1920s and the 1850s are notorious for their cynicism, bad manners and weak civic authority. Government typically shrinks, and speculative manias, when they occur, are delirious.

Finally, the Fourth Turning is a “Crisis” period. This is when our institutional life is reconstructed from the ground up, always in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s very survival. If history does not produce such an urgent threat, Fourth Turning leaders will invariably find one — and may even fabricate one — to mobilize collective action. Civic authority revives, and people and groups begin to pitch in as participants in a larger community. As these Promethean bursts of civic effort reach their resolution, Fourth Turnings refresh and redefine our national identity. The years 1945, 1865 and 1794 all capped eras constituting new “founding moments” in American history.

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Admiral Ben Moreell (1892 – 1978) was the chief of the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks and of the Civil Engineer Corps. Best known to the American public as the Father of the Navy’s Seabees, Moreell’s life spanned eight decades, two world wars, a great depression and the evolution of the United States as a superpower. He was a distinguished Naval Officer, a brilliant engineer, an industrial giant and articulate national spokesman.

Of Bread And Circuses (Admiral Ben Moreell, January 1, 1956)

A twentieth-century repetition of the mistakes of ancient Rome would be inexcusable.Rome was eight and a half centuries old when the poet, Juvenal, penned his famous tirade against his degenerate countrymen. About 100 A.D. he wrote: “Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things, bread and circuses.” (Carcopino, Daily Life in Roman Times [New Haven, Yale University Press, 1940], p. 202.) Forty years later, the Roman historian, Fronto, echoed the charge in more prosaic language: “The Roman people is absorbed by two things above all others, its food supplies and its shows.” (Ibid.)

Here was a once-proud people, whose government had been their servant, who had finally succumbed to the blandishments of clever political adventurers. They had gradually relinquished their sovereignty to government administrators to whom they had granted absolute powers, in return for food and entertainment. And the surprising thing about this insidious progression is that, at the time, few realized that they were witnessing the slow destruction of a people by a corruption that would eventually transmute a nation of self-reliant, courageous, sovereign individuals into a mob, dependent upon their government for the means of sustaining life.

There are no precise records that describe the feelings of those for whom the poet, Juvenal, felt such scorn. But using the clues we have, and judging by our own experience, we can make a good guess as to what the prevailing sentiments of the Roman populace were. If we were able to take a poll of public opinion of first and second century Rome, the overwhelming response would probably have been—“We never had it so good.” Those who lived on “public assistance” and in subsidized rent-free or low-rent dwellings would certainly have assured us that now, at last, they had “security.”

Those in the rapidly expanding bureaucracy—one of the most efficient civil services the world has ever seen—would have told us that now government had a “conscience” and was using its vast resources to guarantee the “welfare” of all of its citizens; that the civil service gave them job security and retirement benefits; and that the best job was a government job! Progressive members of the business community would have said that business had never been so good, that the government was their largest customer, which assured them a dependable market, and that the government was inflating currency at about 2 per cent a year, which instilled confidence and gave everyone a sense of well-being and prosperity.

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These ‘people’ are actually proud of themselves. An opposition politician in Holland seriously suggested to let Dijjsselbloem stay on as FinMin and Eurogroup head even if he loses the March 15 election, ‘because he’s such a success’. His party stands to lose 2/3 of its votes…

Dijsselbloem Comes Out Fighting as Wilders Holds Dutch Poll Lead (BBG)

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said his Labor Party is fighting for every seat as populist Geert Wilders maintained a poll lead less than three weeks before general elections. Dijsselbloem, who has served as finance minister in a coalition government with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal Party since 2012, is campaigning for his political future in the March 15 elections. Dijsselbloem also leads the group of euro-area finance ministers, and a poor showing that cost Labor its coalition slot could put his post in doubt. “I am optimistic, we have had highs and lows, we will just need to keep on fighting,” Dijsselbloem, who is third on the Labor Party’s list of candidates, said at an event in Amsterdam on Sunday. “At home and relaxed, I get somber, but as long as I remain busy I get the feeling we are getting an extra seat.”

Wilders’s anti-Islam Freedom Party would place first with 29 out of the 150 seats in parliament compared to 25 seats for Rutte’s Liberal Party, according to a poll published by Peil.nl on Sunday. While that’s the same four-seat lead as last week’s Peil.nl survey, an Ipsos poll published Friday showed the Liberals overtaking the Freedom Party, with 28 seats to 26 seats. The Labor Party under Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher’s leadership would take 12 seats in Sunday’s poll. Labor, which currently holds 38 seats, lost support after it formed a coalition with the Liberals. Though the parties differ in their ideology, they managed to agree on a broad range of reform measures.

Starting in the middle of the economic crisis, the coalition passed a €22 billion austerity package that included cost cuts in elderly care and healthcare, an increase in the pension age and a reform of the housing market. Rutte’s second cabinet will be the first government to complete a full term since Prime Minister Wim Kok’s first ended in 1998. “It has been a journey through the desert, but we are now the most competitive economy of Europe and also one of the fastest growing, with the largest drop in unemployment in 10 years,” Rutte said in an interview in Het Financieele Dagblad on Saturday. “So that’s quite an achievement.”

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Please let them try to do more things that people don’t want.

EU Lawmakers Call For ‘Federal Union’ Of European States (RT)

The leaders of the lower chambers of parliament of Germany, Italy, France, and Luxembourg have called for a European “Federal Union” in an open letter published in Italian newspaper La Stampa on Sunday. In the letter, four representatives of EU governments – Claude Bartolone of the French National Assembly, Laura Boldrini of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Norbert Lammert of the German Bundestag, and Mars Di Bartolomeo of the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies – say that closer cooperation is essential for dealing with problems that no one EU state can tackle on its own, such as immigration, terrorism, and climate change. “Now is the moment to move towards closer political integration — the Federal Union of States with broad powers. We know that the prospect stirs up strong resistance, but the inaction of some cannot be the paralysis of all. Those who believe in European ideals, should be able to give them a new life instead of helplessly observing its slow sunset,” the letter read.

The letter’s authors also warn that the European integration project is currently more at risk than ever before, with high unemployment and immigration problems driving populist and nationalist movements. The EU must also come to grips with the fact that, last June, the United Kingdom decided to leave the union after holding a national referendum, aka Brexit, becoming the first member nation to opt out of the bloc. On Sunday, a number of EU states, including Germany, France and Italy, called for the UK to pay a hefty price as a “divorce settlement.” The letter was published in the run-up to a meeting of parliamentary leaders in Rome on March 17 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC). The treaty’s signing by six countries– Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, West Germany and the Netherlands – in 1957 eventually paved the way for the Maastricht Treaty and the European Union in 1991.

In September of 2015, Lammert, Bartolone, Boldrini and di Bartolomeo also signed a declaration calling for deeper and faster European integration. However, greater European integration is being increasingly challenged by a number of Eurosceptic parties around the continent, including the Alternative for Germany, the National Front in France, and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. Upcoming elections could bring these parties closer to power. According to the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, the EU must reform, or it risks disappearing under a barrage of internal and external attacks. Late last year Noam Chomsky also warned that the surge in right-wing and anti-establishment sentiment stemming from Europe’s failed neo-liberal policies is likely to lead to the EU’s collapse, adding that “it would be a tragic development” if the bloc fell apart.

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Silent censorship. What’s not to like?

EU Lawmakers, In Unusual Move, Pull The Plug On Racist Talk (AP)

At the European Parliament, where elections are due in 2019, many say the need for action against hate speech, and strong sanctions for offenders, is long overdue. The assembly— with its two seats; one in the Belgian capital of Brussels, and the other in Strasbourg in northeast France – is often the stage for political and sometimes nationalist theater. Beyond routine shouting matches, members occasionally wear T-shirts splashed with slogans or unfurl banners. Flags adorn some lawmakers’ desks. Yet more and more in recent years, lawmakers have gone too far. “There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate,” said British EU parliamentarian Richard Corbett, who chaperoned the new rule through the assembly.

“What if this became not isolated incidents, but specific, where people could say: ‘Hey, this is a fantastic platform. It’s broad, it’s live-streamed. It can be recorded and repeated. Let’s use it for something more vociferous, more spectacular,'” he told The Associated Press. In a nutshell, rule 165 of the parliament’s rules of procedure allows the chair of debates to halt the live broadcast “in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a member.” The maximum fine for offenders would be around 9,000 euros ($9,500). Under the rule, not made public by the assembly but first reported by Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper, offending material could be “deleted from the audiovisual record of proceedings,” meaning citizens would never know it happened unless reporters were in the room. Weingaertner said the IPA was never consulted on that.

A technical note seen by the AP outlines a procedure for manually cutting off the video feed, stopping transmission on in-house TV monitors and breaking the satellite link to halt broadcast to the outside world. A videotape in four languages would be kept running to serve as a legal record during the blackout. A more effective and permanent system was being sought. It is also technically possible to introduce a safe-guard time delay so broadcasts appear a few seconds later. This means they could be interrupted before offending material is aired. But the system is unwieldy. Lawmakers have the right to speak in any of the European Union’s 24 official languages. An offending act could well be over before the assembly’s President Antonio Tajani even has a chance to hit the kill switch. Misunderstandings and even abuses could crop up.

During a debate in December, Gerolf Annemans, from Belgium’s Flemish independence party Vlaams Belang, expressed concern that the rule “can be abused by those who have hysterical reactions to things that they qualify as racist, xenophobic, when people are just expressing politically incorrect views.”

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What a decade of fake news can achieve.

No Debt Relief For Greece, Germany’s Deputy Finance Minister Says (R.)

Greece must not be granted a “bail in” that would involve creditors taking a loss on their loans, Germany’s deputy finance minister said in an interview broadcast on Sunday, reiterating the German government’s opposition to debt relief for Athens. “There must not be a bail-in,” Jens Spahn told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, according to a written transcript of the interview. “We think it is very, very likely that we will come to an agreement with the IMF that does not require a haircut,” he said, referring to losses that Greece’s creditors would have to take if debt was written off. The IMF has called for Greece to be granted substantial debt relief, but this is opposed by Germany, which makes the largest contribution to the budget of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the euro zone’s bailout fund.

Greece and its creditors agreed on Monday to further reforms by Athens to ease a logjam in talks with creditors that has held up additional funding for the troubled euro zone country. Inspectors from the European Commission, the ESM, the IMF and the European Central Bank are due to return to Athens this week. Spahn, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, said Greece’s problem was a lack of growth rather than debt and giving Athens debt relief would upset other euro zone countries such as Spain that had to deliver tough reforms. “Our Spanish friends, for example, say: ‘Hang on – that wouldn’t be fair: we carry out reforms and get no haircut and now you’re talking about giving Greece one?!'” Spahn said Germany was campaigning hard to keep the IMF on board in Greece’s bailout because of its expertise in helping countries that need to deliver reforms in return for aid.

Manfred Weber, who leads the conservative bloc in the European Parliament, said this month that if the IMF insisted on debt relief for Greece, it should no longer participate in the bailout, breaking ranks with Berlin’s official line that the program would end if the IMF pulled out.

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Much more in the article. On how all public assets are forcibly sold at firesale prices etc.

Germany Announces The Final Pillage Of Greece (RI)

It’s official: The Germans will not allow debt relief for Greece. Instead, Berlin wants to send in the repo man. The untold story of the Greek “bailouts” is that it wasn’t a “bailout” — it was an auction of Greek assets. Real, tangible things with real, tangible value were seized in exchange for pieces of paper that guarantee Athens will be chained to Berlin and Brussels for the foreseeable future. It’s your basic extortion racket. As one rather gloomy (but intriguing) analysis puts it:

The debt problem continues to erode the European Union from within – it is already impossible to hide, and Greek tragedy, for example, is growing. Against this background, Germany seems to have a consensus about how to get rid of Greece with its debts and inefficient economy. The scheme of this careless schoolboy by the ear from the class, it seems, differs only in details: either to expel or allow suffering – to provoke the Maidan in Athens, and then to expel in any case.

Bavaria’s 50-year-old finance minister and CSU politician Markus Soeder became the declarant of this ‘plan B’, who stated about the necessity of ‘a plan B’. “New billions should only flow when Athens implemented all the reforms. Even then, however, aid should only be given against a pledge “in the form of cash, gold or real estate”,” Soeder stated.

In his own way, he’s right – all conditions have been created for Maidan in Athens. Previously, the EU and the ECB assessed all the Greece’s public property at 50 billion euro that does not even cover the necessary new loans on debt payments of this country (80-90 billion euro). Therefore, the collateral should be gathered from private funds through the expropriation of gold and real estate. Implementation of reforms will lead to the final death of the Greek small and medium businesses after bringing the taxation to “European standards”, and namely such steps of the Ukrainian government have led to the Maidan in Kiev in 2013 with the collapse of the ruling regime in February 2014.

A bit too melodramatic? We forgot — we are supposed to use the friendly neoliberal term for this policy of national enslavement and communal suicide: “voluntary privatization.” Yes, we know. The poor, altruist Germans had to save irresponsible Greece. They did a fine job of it too.

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Dec 182016
 
 December 18, 2016  Posted by at 9:43 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Country store, Person County, NC Jul 1939

Here’s How Americans Spent Their Money In The Last 75 Years (MW)
Global Debt, Equity Markets Lose $1 Trillion In Value This Week (ZH)
January 2017 Earnings Is Going To Be a Bloodbath (EconMatters)
Trump Talked, the Fed Listened: Shrink the Balance Sheet, Bullard Says (WS)
Pentagon Says China to Return Drone; Trump Says They Can Keep It (BBG)
Free Cash in Finland. Must Be Jobless. (NYT)
Monte dei Paschi to Start Taking Orders for Shares on Monday (BBG)
Hillary’s Campaign The Most Incompetent In Modern History (Davis)
Just Who Is Undermining Election? Russians Or CIA? (Albuquerque Journal Ed.)
‘Shocking’ Rise in Number of Homeless Children in UK B&Bs at Christmas (G.)
Tsipras’s Spending Spree May Be Relief To Greeks But It Won’t End Crisis (G.)

 

 

The rise in spending on housing should initiate a national debate. And not just in the US. It makes you wonder about the real dimensions of the ‘housing bubble’. Is it perhaps 75 years old already?

Here’s How Americans Spent Their Money In The Last 75 Years (MW)

Housing expenses have almost always been the largest drain on American budgets, unchanged in over 70 years. Between 1941 and 2014, Americans spent money on most of the same things, with a few changes. Housing has persisted as a large area of spending for Americans, as has the food category. However, spending on food and clothing has fallen when adjusting for inflation while spending on education and health care has risen quickly. That’s according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, adjusted for inflation and representing median spending of all Americans, charted here.


click for larger version

There is one exception to housing’s dominance, in 1941, when spending on food averaged $8,311 annually, topping the $7,537 spent on shelter that year. Interestingly, in 1941 the government included alcohol in the food spending category, which inflates the food spending data for that year. In other years, alcohol was given its own category. Americans spent the most on clothing in 1961, at an average of $4,157. In every year measured since 1961, spending on clothing fell, even when accounting for inflation. At the same time, Americans began spending more on education, transportation and health care. Spending on education has increased far more than any other category, jumping from $242 in 1941 to $1,236 in 2014. Education spending increased at a particularly fast rate between 1984 and 1994 and onward. While spending on health care increased between 1941 and 2014, overall spending dipped between 1973 and 1984, but then began rising rapidly thereafter.

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@Boomfinance: “Bonds are collateral assets. Collateral is needed to expand Credit. This is Debt Deflation writ large. Yes?”

Global Debt, Equity Markets Lose $1 Trillion In Value This Week (ZH)

Thanks to Janet Yellen’s rate-hike-hawkishness (but, but, but, we’re still ultra-easy), global equity and debt markets lost over $1 trillion in value – the biggest weekly loss since early May (weak China data and huge surge in dollar). Global bonds lost over $430 billion in market value this week (Yellen hawkishness and China bond carnage) but stocks lost even more ($525 billion) as China financial turmoil added to the world’s woes (and “three rate hikes next year” and fiscal stimulus efficacy questions did not help).

Having retraced back to pre-Trump levels before The Fed statement this week, the combination of China turmoil and Janet’s un-dovishness sent global stocks and bonds down over $1 trillion on the week – the worst week globally since May 2016 (when the dollar surged amid China weakness and slowing EU growth forecasts)

In fact, while US bank stockholders are ebullient at The Trump presidency-to-be, the rest of the world has lost a combined $1.5 trillion in market value across its bonds and stocks (thanks in major part to Janet’s help this week).

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No holding back here.

January 2017 Earnings Is Going To Be a Bloodbath (EconMatters)

We discuss a preview of January`s Earnings releases and how massive the gap down in most of these stocks will be when they report in a month. There have already been two earning`s guide downs from industrial companies this past week in UTX, and HON. But with the run up in financials and energies for the last month we are going to experience big $5 chunks taken out of these stocks and massive after hours and pre-market gap downs that will cause entire sectors to sell off during earnings in January. It is just going to be brutal, expect 500 point down days in the Dow during this upcoming earnings period. You have seasonal stocks that selloff every year like Apple and Amazon, as the 4th quarter is their best by far for sales and revenues.

And you have energy companies with exorbitant p/e ratios like COP, XOM, CVH that are priced for $115 dollar oil not $55 oil that 4th quarter earnings releases are going to bring some fundamental realities back to investors of how overpriced these stocks are right here. You have “dogshit” stocks like C, BAC that are serial underperformers in the financial sector along with WFC with its legal problems and operating distractions of the past year, and JPM which has moved too far entirely too fast and the amount of Monkey Hammering Selling Smack downs of these financials upon reporting is going to be outright brutal for investors stupid enough not to have taken profits before earnings. Not to mention all the other broken companies that have been lifted up in this 4th quarter rally, and are going to be taken out to the woodshed for a red beating when they report.

Throw in all those idiot investors who don`t take profits for tax reasons who will wish they did as everybody sells in the new year at the same time running for the tax exits together, and this January 2017 Earnings period is going to be outright one of the worst we have seen since last January`s massive stock selloff. It is the difference between being able to use a selling algorithm program that gets a decent price for the closing of the position versus taking what the market gives you during selloff and gap down closing of positions where profits are annihilated in a very short timespan. Investors need to evaluate all of the parameters when making tax deferral decisions, and it isn`t as simple as they always mistakenly calculate when making these boneheaded simpleton calculations.

No wonder they cannot outperform the market, you have to take profits into strength, not weakness when everybody and their brother is selling. Why Investors continue to exhibit the same stupid patterns is beyond me, but the smart ones will be selling in the next two weeks to beat the carnage selling that occurs in January due to tax deferral selling, and reality setting in that no amount of Trump Magic can make these pig stocks earnings for the 4th quarter look good relative to the current stock prices. It is going to get ugly folks!

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Nice piece from Wolf Richter. He recognizes the inherent risks: “Trump, as President, would be more than embarrassed to see financial markets sag under his watch.”

Trump Talked, the Fed Listened: Shrink the Balance Sheet, Bullard Says (WS)

Bullard would start by allowing maturing securities to roll off the balance sheet without replacing them with new asset purchases, he said. That would shrink the balance sheet. And it would make financial conditions more restrictive. Shedding assets accumulated on the Fed’s balance sheet is the ultimate form of tightening. It would pull liquidity out of the markets and force them to stand on their own wobbly feet. And he’s a dove! He sees only one rate hike next year. Until recently, he saw only one rate hike, period – the one we just got – and no additional hikes over the next few next years. But he’s ogling the balance sheet. If shrinking the balance sheet is too radical for now, the Fed could replace longer term securities as they mature with short-dated securities, he said. This would make unwinding the balance sheet easier, once the decision is made.

These short-dated securities could just be allowed to mature without replacement. It could go pretty quickly. “My preference would be to allow some runoff in the balance sheet,” he said. But before markets could spiral into a paroxysm, he added that he didn’t think efforts to shrink the balance sheet were “imminent.” He has been a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, which makes the decisions on rates, QE, and balance sheet shrinkage. But next year, he’ll rotate into a non-voting slot. So he’s just setting some trial balloons adrift. A few Fed heads have dared to suggest that they’d want to shrink the balance sheet eventually, possibly after everyone’s life expectancy expires. They’d want to raise rates first, and if the economy hasn’t fallen into a recession or worse by then, it might be time to think about letting the balance sheet contract.

But the economy might never get to where there are some sort of normal rates without a recession. And a recession would start the whole process of rate cutting and perhaps QE all over again, and the balance sheet might never be shrunk in this scenario. Bullard doesn’t want to wait that long. For good reason. QE has caused enough distortions. Shrinking the balance sheet by allowing bonds to roll off, while keeping the fed funds rate relatively low, for example at 1.5% by next year, would cause long term rates to rise sharply while keeping a lid on short-term rates. It would steepen the yield curve. In this scenario, the 10-year yield – at 1.38% in July and now at 2.6% – might go to 4% or beyond.

It would have an epic impact on Trump’s “artificial stock market.” It would cause all kinds of mayhem, because Trump was right: The epic bond market bubble and the stock market rally that has pushed all conventional metrics off the charts have been fueled by the Fed. The effects of removing, to use Trump’s term, the “artificial” elements from the stock market could be interesting. We’d have to avert our eyes from the carnage in the bond market. And Housing Bubble 2, with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages at 6%? That’s historically low and worked just fine ten years ago (it helped create Housing Bubble 1). But with the inflated home prices of today, it would mark a big reset.

Today’s equations won’t work at these interest rates. The fireworks could be astounding. But in the big picture, it would just unravel some of the excesses of the past few years, bring a hue of normalcy to the markets, and refocus attention on the real economy instead of wild financial speculations. Trump, as he was talking during the campaign, should appreciate that. Trump, as mega-investor, might get queasy. And Trump, as President, would be more than embarrassed to see financial markets sag under his watch.

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China knows Trump is a dealmaker. Just like they are. They must have chuckled at his response. But not officially of course.

Pentagon Says China to Return Drone; Trump Says They Can Keep It (BBG)

The Pentagon said China will return a U.S. Navy underwater drone after its military scooped up the submersible in the South China Sea late this week and sparked a row that drew in President-elect Donald Trump, who said on Twitter the Chinese stole it, so they can keep it. “Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement on Saturday, referring to the unmanned underwater vehicle the U.S. said had been operating in international waters. China’s ministry of defense pledged an “appropriate” return of the drone on its Weibo social media account, while also criticizing the U.S. for hyping the incident into a diplomatic row.

It followed assurances from Beijing that the governments were working to resolve the spat, punctuated by a tweet from Trump denouncing the seizure as “unprecedented.” The drone incident was disclosed by the Pentagon on Friday. China’s ministry said the U.S. “hyped the case in public,” which it said wasn’t helpful in resolving the problem. The U.S. has “frequently” sent its vessels and aircrafts into the region, and China urges such activities to stop, the ministry said in its Weibo message. Trump slammed the Chinese navy’s capture of the vehicle in a message to his 17.4 million Twitter followers. “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act,” Trump wrote Saturday hours after the Chinese government said it had been in touch with the U.S. military about the incident.

In a follow-up Twitter message, the president-elect said: “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back – let them keep it!” The tensions unleashed by the episode underscored the delicate state of relations between the two countries, weeks before Trump’s inauguration. Trump has threatened higher tariffs on Chinese products and questioned the U.S. approach to Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory. Meanwhile, China is growing more assertive over its claims to disputed sections of the South China Sea.

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An ‘experiment’ targeted at 2000 specific people has nothing to do with Universal Basic Income. These ‘experiments’ are only valid when it’s truly universal, or at least nationwide. And when they involve people with AND without jobs. You simply can’t do ‘universal’ on a small scale.

Free Cash in Finland. Must Be Jobless. (NYT)

No one would confuse this frigid corner of northern Finland with Silicon Valley. Notched in low pine forests just 100 miles below the Arctic Circle, Oulu seems more likely to achieve dominance at herding reindeer than at nurturing technology start-ups. But this city has roots as a hub for wireless communications, and keen aspirations in innovation. It also has thousands of skilled engineers in need of work. Many were laid off by Nokia, the Finnish company once synonymous with mobile telephones and more recently at risk of fading into oblivion. While entrepreneurs are eager to put these people to work, the rules of Finland’s generous social safety net effectively discourage this. Jobless people generally cannot earn additional income while collecting unemployment benefits or they risk losing that assistance.

For laid-off workers from Nokia, simply collecting a guaranteed unemployment check often presents a better financial proposition than taking a leap with a start-up in Finland, where a shaky technology industry is trying to find its footing again. Now, the Finnish government is exploring how to change that calculus, initiating an experiment in a form of social welfare: universal basic income. Early next year, the government plans to randomly select roughly 2,000 unemployed people — from white-collar coders to blue-collar construction workers. It will give them benefits automatically, absent bureaucratic hassle and minus penalties for amassing extra income. The government is eager to see what happens next. Will more people pursue jobs or start businesses? How many will stop working and squander their money on vodka?

Will those liberated from the time-sucking entanglements of the unemployment system use their freedom to gain education, setting themselves up for promising new careers? These areas of inquiry extend beyond economic policy, into the realm of human nature. The answers — to be determined over a two-year trial — could shape social welfare policy far beyond Nordic terrain. In communities around the world, officials are exploring basic income as a way to lessen the vulnerabilities of working people exposed to the vagaries of global trade and automation. While basic income is still an emerging idea, one far from being deployed on a large scale, the growing experimentation underscores the deep need to find effective means to alleviate the perils of globalization.

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Covered by taxpayers.

Monte dei Paschi to Start Taking Orders for Shares on Monday (BBG)

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA will begin taking orders for shares as soon as Monday as it aims to complete raising €5 billion of capital before Christmas, people with the knowledge of the matter said. Monte Paschi will attempt to sell stock through Thursday, said the people, who asked to not be named because the plan isn’t public yet. The price and total number of shares to be sold will be determined based on investor demand and on the outcome of the separate debt-to-equity swap, the people said. CEO Marco Morelli, who took over in September, is racing to find backers for his effort to clean up the bank’s balance sheet.

The failure of the recapitalization would be a blow to Italy’s sputtering efforts to revive a banking industry that’s burdened with about €360 billion in troubled loans, dragging down the economy by limiting lending. The lender earlier this week extended a debt-for-equity swap that is one of the three main interlocking pieces of the bank’s capital-raising plan. The bank also plans a cash infusion from anchor investors and a share sale. The offer, involving the exchange of about 4.5 billion euros of Tier 1 and Tier 2 securities, is set to end at 2 p.m. on Dec. 21. Monte Paschi, facing a Dec. 31 deadline to complete the fundraising, also will promote an exchange on 1 billion euros of hybrid securities issued in 2008 known as FRESH at 23.2% of face value, the lender said in a filing on its website.

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Almost funny.

Hillary’s Campaign The Most Incompetent In Modern History (Davis)

It wasn’t sexism, or racism, or the FBI, or fake news, or the Russians, which cost Hillary Clinton the presidential election. According to a blockbuster campaign dispatch published by Politico on Wednesday, sheer incompetence was the real cause of Clinton’s electoral implosion in November. Clinton’s loss was caused not by one bad decision here or there, the Politico report shows, but by a cascade of mind-bogglingly stupid decisions made throughout the campaign. For example, there was the time campaign surrogates were ordered to stay and campaign in Iowa, which Clinton lost by 10 points, instead of working to get out the vote for Clinton in Michigan:

Everybody could see Hillary Clinton was cooked in Iowa. So when, a week-and-a-half out, the Service Employees International Union started hearing anxiety out of Michigan, union officials decided to reroute their volunteers, giving a desperate team on the ground around Detroit some hope. They started prepping meals and organizing hotel rooms. SEIU — which had wanted to go to Michigan from the beginning, but been ordered not to — dialed Clinton’s top campaign aides to tell them about the new plan. According to several people familiar with the call, Brooklyn was furious. Turn that bus around, the Clinton team ordered SEIU. Those volunteers needed to stay in Iowa to fool Donald Trump into competing there, not drive to Michigan, where the Democrat’s models projected a 5-point win through the morning of Election Day.

Then there was the time the campaign, instead of spending its cash in competitive states the candidate needed to win to clinch an electoral college victory, sent millions to the Democratic National Committee, which used the money to run up vote totals in uncompetitive states so Clinton would win the popular vote:

But there also were millions approved for transfer from Clinton’s campaign for use by the DNC — which, under a plan devised by Brazile to drum up urban turnout out of fear that Trump would win the popular vote while losing the electoral vote, got dumped into Chicago and New Orleans, far from anywhere that would have made a difference in the election.

There was also the time Clinton didn’t even bother to show up at a Michigan event for the United Auto Workers, a key union constituency on which Democrats traditionally rely for get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts throughout the Rust Belt:

Clinton never even stopped by a United Auto Workers union hall in Michigan, though a person involved with the campaign noted bitterly that the UAW flaked on GOTV commitments in the final days, and that AFSCME never even made any, despite months of appeals.

The Clinton campaign also completely ignored cries for last-second, all-hands-on-deck GOTV help in Michigan on election day. According to Politico, Brooklyn-based campaign staff waved off data showing massive shortfalls in urban turnout and insisted the Democrat would win the state by at least five points:

On the morning of Election Day, internal Clinton campaign numbers had her winning Michigan by 5 points. By 1 p.m., an aide on the ground called headquarters; the voter turnout tracking system they’d built themselves in defiance of orders — Brooklyn had told operatives in the state they didn’t care about those numbers, and specifically told them not to use any resources to get them — showed urban precincts down 25%. Maybe they should get worried, the Michigan operatives said. Nope, they were told. She was going to win by 5. All Brooklyn’s data said so.

Clinton would eventually lose the state by 11,000 votes, less than one quarter of one %age point of all votes cast in the state. In the end, though, it appears that hubris may have been Hillary’s ultimate downfall. Hours before polls closed and long before returns began trickling in, Clinton’s top staffers weren’t scrambling for every last vote. Instead, they were busy measuring the Oval Office curtains and searching for champagne bottles to uncork to celebrate their historic victory. “In at least one of the war rooms in New York, they’d already started celebratory drinking by the afternoon, according to a person there,” Politico reported. “Elsewhere, calls quietly went out that day to tell key people to get ready to be asked about joining transition teams.” Oops.

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An editorial that means sense. Maybe America’s papers are not all doomed to oblivion after all.

Just Who Is Undermining Election? Russians Or CIA? (Albuquerque Journal Ed.)

Congress needs to dust off its Magic 8 Ball. At this point, how else are our elected representatives going to get to the bottom of allegations that Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, tried to influence the U.S. general election? After all, the CIA isn’t being very open – at least not with our elected representatives. Instead of briefing the House Intelligence Committee about the alleged Russian role in hacked emails made public during the campaign – which Democrats desperately seek to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss – the agency is leaking conclusions without facts to the Washington Post, New York Times and television networks. The media, naturally, are quick to report the anonymous bits of “blame Putin” information to the public. So to the extent Putin meddled, our own spies have at least matched his efforts to discredit our electoral system.

To recap: Private emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign were made public via WikiLeaks, allegedly through hacking, even though the FBI had tried to warn the DNC back in September 2015 of problems with its security system. The agency couldn’t get past the party’s technical help desk – harking back to Hillary’s email security problems on her own private server. The media reported on the leaks daily – and if a reporter had obtained the same information from inside sources, there would be no controversy at all. Today’s uproar is over the source – not the substance. But the CIA’s alleged conclusion – that Russia intervened to help Trump win – does not square with comments made Nov. 17 by James Clapper, director of National Intelligence. He said he lacked “good insight” about whether there was a connection between the WikiLeaks releases and Russia.

Congressional Republican leaders are taking the allegations seriously. “The Russians are not our friends,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. House Speaker Paul Ryan called any Russian intervention “especially problematic because, under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests.” But Intelligence Committee member Peter King of New York flatly accused the U.S. intelligence community of waging a disinformation campaign aimed at undermining Trump’s credibility – if not changing the course of the Electoral College. Not surprisingly, President Obama is seizing a newfound political opportunity and is taking a new interest despite earlier claims of knowing all along of Russian shenanigans but choosing not to go public with whatever evidence he had – none of which he has produced.

[..] The source of the campaign leaks remains an interesting question, but one unlikely to be answered credibly unless the CIA coughs up its findings to Congress. Cooperation also might help answer the question of possible Russian motives if it was involved: Was it to cast doubt on the U.S. election system? If so, it was highly successful with the help of our own intelligence community and desperate Democrats who simply can’t accept that Trump won 306 Electoral College votes. Though the CIA based its supposed findings of pro-Trump intervention on the fact that no Republican emails were leaked before the election, the Republican National Committee says it wasn’t hacked. And Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange stands firm in his claim the Russians were not the source of the leaks.

Cyber hacking has become one of the mainstays of life – Yahoo most recently was hacked of more than one billion user accounts. And intervention into foreign elections is something many nations, including the United States, do regularly. Obama recently tried to influence the Brexit vote. And while nobody should feel good about foreign interests intervening in U.S. elections, the reluctance of the U.S. intelligence community to share its information with official sources charged with making decisions about national security, while leaking information via media outlets, is very disturbing, raising the spectre of a political coup by our nation’s intelligence forces.

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Maybe Britain needs a full-size reboot.

‘Shocking’ Rise in Number of Homeless Children in UK B&Bs at Christmas (G.)

The number of children living in temporary accommodation this Christmas, including in bed and breakfasts, has risen by more than 10% since last year to 124,000, according to the latest government figures. The numbers of children forced into temporary housing in the run up to Christmas have described as “shocking” by the country’s leading charity for the homeless. The data, released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, also reveals a rise of more than 300% since 2014 in the number of families in England who are being housed illegally (for more than the statutory maximum period of six weeks) in B&Bs by local authorities, because they cannot find any alternative places. Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “The latest figures show that councils are increasingly struggling to help homeless families.

“But the number of children placed in B&Bs illegally is truly shocking, and there’s a worrying rise in families moved away from their support network to a new area. We know first-hand the devastating impact this can have on their lives.” He blamed a “perfect storm” of welfare cuts and rising rents, together with a lack of social and affordable housing, that was creating impossible pressure for local authorities. “Councils know that neither option is acceptable but increasingly find themselves with no alternatives,” he said. “Welfare cuts have made private rents unaffordable and that – combined with unpredictable rent rises and a lack of genuinely affordable homes – mean many families are struggling to get by.

“With the loss of private rented homes the single biggest cause of homelessness, it’s no wonder that’s so many families are turning to their council, desperate for help.” [.] The number of households that have become homeless after an eviction over the last year is up 12% compared to a year ago at 18,820 while the total number of households in temporary accommodation has risen to 74,630, up 9% on a year earlier. While 21,400 homeless households have been moved away to a different council area – a 15% rise in the last year.

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Helena Smith is the Guardian’s Athens correspondent. I haven’t met a Greek who knows of her and had positive things to say. But this is insane. I know editors make headlines, not reporters, but calling Tsipras’ move to soften the crisis blow a little for pensioners, and to feed children at school who don’t eat at home, a “spending spree”, that is way beyond the pale. Shameless.

Tsipras’s Spending Spree May Be Relief To Greeks But It Won’t End Crisis (G.)

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, likes to shake things up and, in recent days, he has reverted to form. After 16 months of faithfully toeing the line, the leader rebelled, cautiously at first and then almost jubilantly, casting off the fiscal straightjacket that has encased his government with thinly veiled glee. First came the announcement that low-income pensioners, forced to survive in tax-heavy post-crisis Greece on €800 or less a month, would receive a one-off, pre-Christmas bonus. Then came the news that Greeks living on Aegean isles which have borne the brunt of refugee flows would not be subject to a sales tax enforced at the behest of creditors keeping the debt-stricken country afloat.

Finally, another announcement both antagonising and pointed: 30,000 children living in poverty-stricken areas of northern Greece will henceforth be entitled to free meals in schools. The reaction wasn’t instant but, when it came, it was delivered with force. The European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s financing arm, announced that short-term relief measures, agreed only a week before to ease Greece’s debt pile, would be frozen with immediate effect. It did not take long before the German finance ministry, under the unwavering stewardship of Wolfgang Schäuble, followed suit, requesting that creditor institutions assess whether Tsipras had acted in flagrant violation of Athens’ bailout commitments with his unilateral moves.

The leftist insisted that the aid – €61m in supplementary support for pensions and €11.5m for the school meals – would be taken from the primary surplus his government, unexpectedly, had managed to achieve. The assistance would help “heal the wounds of crisis”. “We want to … alleviate all those who have over these difficult years made huge sacrifices in the name of Europe,” he announced before holding talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel late Friday.

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Nov 062016
 
 November 6, 2016  Posted by at 10:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Ryan Redhawk Standing Rock 2016

David Stockman Warns Both Trump And Clinton Could Lead To 25% Sell-Off (CNBC)
Election Chaos Fears Have Preppers Stockpiling Survival Food (CNBC)
Exposing John Podesta (TeleSur)
The Secret World of the US Election: Julian Assange Talks to John Pilger (RT)
California Secession Group To Meet At State Capitol Day After Election (SFG)
Tech Is Disrupting All Before It – Even Democracy Is In Its Sights (Cadwalladr)
China Premier Li Says Economy To Maintain Steady Growth (R.)
Attempts To Cool Over-Heating Australia Property Market Are Failing (AFR)
May: Parliament Must Accept Brexit Vote Was Legitimate (R.)
Higher Prices And Rising Debt Threaten Millions In UK (G.)
Turkey Is Headed For A Bloodbath (Rubin)
Turkey Was Once A Free Society. Now It Is Rapidly Destroying Itself. (WaPo)
Germany Investigates 60 Possible Islamists In Armed Forces (R.)
German Ministry Wants Migrants Returned To Africa (R.)

 

 

“We are now in Watergate 2.0.” “Government is going to be totally paralyzed regardless of who wins..”

David Stockman Warns Both Trump And Clinton Could Lead To 25% Sell-Off (CNBC)

David Stockman, the man widely credited as the “Father of Reaganomics”, delivered an alarming message to investors. “The markets are hideously inflated,” warned Stockman on CNBC’s “Fast Money” this week. The former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan urged investors to dump stocks and bonds ahead of the dangers that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pose to markets if either is elected as President. “If you don’t sell before the election, certainly do it afterwards. Government is going to be totally paralyzed regardless of who wins,” he said. “There could be a 25% draw down on markets.” Stockman posits that, under a Clinton administration, official investigations and new hacked email disclosures from Wikileaks will be non-stop.

Furthermore, he reasoned that the “house will become a killing field” for anything Clinton is trying to do. Ultimately, Stockman said the Democrat would enter the Oval Office bruised, bloody and all but lacking in legitimacy. “For six months, or even longer, there will acrimony, there will be brinkmanship, there will be paralysis. There will be a swarm of house committees doing investigations from all of these wiki leaks!” Stockman said of Clinton’s hypothetical early days in the White House. “Therefore, there will be no baton handed off from the Fed to fiscal policy as we slide into recession,” he added.

[..] Comparatively, Stockman likes that Trump appears ready to call out the Fed and breakup the “cozy” relationship that exists between Washington and Wall Street. However, that’s where his favorable opinion of the GOP nominee ends. “I like him because he’s against the establishment, but he has no economic program. Yes, he’s a disruptor, but has nothing to disrupt with,” Stockman said. “If elected, it will be partisan warfare and a total disaster,” Stockman explained to CNBC. “Under a Trump victory, all bets are off.”

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And guns, and gold, and fuel, etc.

Election Chaos Fears Have Preppers Stockpiling Survival Food (CNBC)

In case of an election night Doomsday, preppers are running up sales of emergency survival food. While sales for “long term food” typically see an increase around natural disasters and elections, “this is more intense than what we saw in 2012,” said Keith Bansemer, VP of marketing for My Patriot Supply, a manufacturer and seller of survival food. During the previous election his company saw sales double. This time it’s triple. “We have everyone we can on the phones,” he said. “We are overwhelmed.” Purchases at other long term food supply companies are up as well. Emergency preparedness online store TheEpicenter reports a 6% uptick in year over year sales. Another company, Legacy Foods, predicts they’ll see a 1-2 week spike in sales after the election — if Hillary Clinton wins, said owner Phil Cox.

The meals, sold by the plastic bucket or tote bin, are typically dehydrated or freeze-dried food in sealed military-grade Mylar packs. Menu items include pasta primavera, Hawaiian Style Sweet n’ Sour, cheesy broccoli and rice soup, orange energy drink mix and chocolate pudding. They’re sold in bundles based on how long they’ll feed you. For $2,000 spent at Legacy Foods, you could eat three square meals a day for an entire year. That’s 1,080 servings. TheEpicenter has a 14-day supply kit for $235 that’s recently been “selling really well,” said owner Bryan Nelson. The most popular entry-level seller at My Patriot Supply is a 3-month supply for $497. It comes a in nondescript gray slim line totes bin designed to be easy to stack in the back of a closet or slip under your bed.

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Lobbyists inside the government. Good exposé.

Exposing John Podesta (TeleSur)

With the Wikileaks release of thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, very little is known in US society about Podesta himself. While he’s maintained a low profile, John Podesta is actually considered one of Washington’s biggest players, and one of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in the world. In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin explores John Podesta’s political rise, his vast network of corporate connections and his think tank “Center for American Progress.” Learn why the Podestas and the Clintons are a match made in ruling class heaven.

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“I actually feel quite sorry for Hillary Clinton as a person. Because I see someone who’s eaten alive be their ambition. Tormented literally to the point where they become sick..”

The Secret World of the US Election: Julian Assange Talks to John Pilger (RT)

Whistleblower Julian Assange has given one of his most incendiary interviews ever in a John Pilger Special, courtesy of Dartmouth Films, in which he summarizes what can be gleaned from the tens of thousands of Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks this year.

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“..our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children.”

California Secession Group To Meet At State Capitol Day After Election (SFG)

An organization hoping to facilitate the secession of California from the Union is holding a meet and greet on the Capitol steps in Sacramento next Wednesday, the day after the presidential election. The Yes California Independence Campaign, which is based in San Diego, is aiming to qualify a citizen’s initiative in 2018 to get a referendum for secession on the ballot in 2019. They’ll be in Sacramento to garner support for their initiative. “In our view,” a statement on its website reads, “the United States of America represents so many things that conflict with Californian values, and our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children.” And it appears the organization has been considering its strategy for quite a while now. On its site, you’ll find a link to a 33-page “Blue Book” wherein the organization answers any hypothetical questions about the state becoming its own country.

The details for the secession — dubbed the #CalExit — include such topics such as “Will we join the United Nations?” and “Will we have our own Olympic team?”. While the notion of an independent California does seem well-intended — points about immigration, environmental concerns, and education are thoughtful — the practicality of such a proposal is tenuous at best. Will this secession campaign be viable? In a word: No. As we know from the Civil War, just because a state wants to secede doesn’t mean the Union will let it. As Washington Post writer Philip Bump wrote earlier this year, Congress simply would not, for many reasons, allow it. “There’s no mechanism for Congress to simply say, ‘Sure, off you go.’ Once you’re in, you’re in,” he wrote. “The United States was born an expansionist enterprise, and the idea of contraction, it seems, never really came up.”

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A failed attempt at a promising topic.

Tech Is Disrupting All Before It – Even Democracy Is In Its Sights (Cadwalladr)

[..] ..what the last week of this presidential campaign has shown us is that technology has disrupted, is disrupting, is threatening to upturn the democratic process itself – the best, most stable, most equitable form of governance the world has yet come up with. In many crucial ways, it doesn’t even matter who wins on Tuesday because perhaps the best thing you can say about Trump is that if it hadn’t been him it would have been someone else. It’s the opposite of the Great Man theory of history: a misogynistic ex-reality TV star is not the game-changer here, it’s technology. Two days ago, the same hackers who took down Twitter and Netflix and the Guardian and Reddit and CNN last week in the biggest attack of its kind that the world has ever seen, started practising on a country.

Computer malware had been used to infect inanimate objects in our homes – the connected devices that comprise the so-called internet of things and that, it’s been discovered, a bit late, are hopelessly insecure. It has harnessed these to create a gigantic internet-destroying machine, the so-called Mirai botnet, and it’s honing its power. Last week it took aim at an entire country – Liberia. A huge attack was launched against the two companies that own the only fibre going into the west African country — bringing its entire internet infrastructure to a halt. The worst case scenario? That the hackers behind it are “practising” for Tuesday, when they’ll aim their massed computing power against America. This is everyday objects in our own homes, “smart” objects, intenet-enabled toasters and refrigerators.

Because this is where we are: our toasters and refrigerators may be about to be used to subvert the democratic process of the greatest democracy on Earth. And if that reads like the most lunatic sentence you’ve ever read, you maybe haven’t been paying close enough attention to 2016. Because this is possibly, finally, the year when it hits home that technology is not just some cool titanium-coloured gadget in our pockets. It’s the facilitator of the degraded news space that treats facts and lies the same. That has enabled thousands of Twitterbots – algorithms – to scrape the internet for stories about Trump and then retweet them. It was robot accounts that caused “#TrumpWon” to trend after each TV debate and allowed Trump to claim “victory”.

It’s how a man who hasn’t set foot on the street for four years, can, with just his laptop, create havoc in the critical last week of the campaign. By leaking emails that potentially implicate Hillary Clinton, Julian Assange has inserted himself – like computer malware — into the heart of the American democratic process. He’s infected it. He is, like Donald Trump, the law of unintended consequences writ large, in human form. In 2010, we didn’t mind the fact that the data he leaked was stolen. Here in the liberal press, we championed it. Because it was stolen data that served to underscore our liberal sensibilities. Or, at least mine. And now? Not so much.

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Not a cloud in the sky…

China Premier Li Says Economy To Maintain Steady Growth (R.)

China will maintain steady growth and speed up economic transformation, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Saturday, adding that the world’s No. 2 economy would be able to overcome current challenges, official news agency Xinhua reported. China is trying to rebalance its economy to adapt to slower growth both at home and abroad but policymakers are struggling to contain a range of domestic issues such as surging home prices and rising debt levels. Li said China’s moves to ensure “supply-side structural reform” while appropriately expanding aggregate demand have boosted the domestic economy, and economic restructuring and liberalization have also generated new areas of growth.

Data released last month showed China posted economic growth of 6.7% in the third quarter, steady from the previous quarter, as increased government spending and a property boom offset stubbornly weak exports. China has full confidence in sustaining a “medium-high” growth rate, added Li, speaking on an official visit to Riga. He said that China has consistently followed proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, and adopted new ways of macroeconomic regulation, reported Xinhua, while using “market-oriented and rules-based methods” to defuse risk.

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“..the number of interest-only loans is rising despite banks increasing interest rates..”

Attempts To Cool Over-Heating Australia Property Market Are Failing (AFR)

Attempts to cool the property market are failing as the number of interest-only loans surges back towards last year’s highs, an analysis of new lending figures reveals. The Reserve Bank of Australia said in its quarterly statement of monetary policy on Friday that despite recent strengthening in Sydney and Melbourne, “overall conditions in the established housing market have eased relative to mid last year”. The RBA said house price inflation remained below the peaks in 2015 and there had been a drop in the share of interest-only loans which raise concerns for regulators because of the risk that borrowers will not be able to repay once the interest-only period ends. Latest analysis, however, shows the number of interest-only loans is rising despite banks increasing interest rates on some products and toughening lending terms and conditions.

Loan volumes, which dropped from 40% to 30% of total lending in the nine months to March, have since risen back to 35% following recent rate cuts and better returns from property than other asset classes, such as shares and savings accounts. Martin North, principal of Digital Finance Analytics (DFA), a consultant to commercial and investment banks, said interest-only loans did fall last year but have since started to raise again. “Loan to value ratios are indeed down but that does not change the interest-only question, how many have a repayment plan and will need one the next loan review,” he said. “The RBA is sanguine on the housing market but ignores the highest ever household debt.”

Meanwhile there are fears thousands of property investors using the interest-only loans could be caught by rules that might force them to make bigger repayments five years into the term of the loan. “There is a trap being set for the unwary investors,” warns Mr North. Some lenders, such as Bankwest, a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, are telling their mortgage broker network to impose tough new conditions where a borrower wants to switch from a principal-and-interest to interest-only loan, or extend the interest-only period. Confidential documents show borrowers will be required to provide reasons for the change and “must” be informed of their potential repayment at the end of the interest-only period.

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I see a legal quagmire in your future.

May: Parliament Must Accept Brexit Vote Was Legitimate (R.)

Parliament must accept that Britain’s vote to leave the EU was legitimate and let the government get on with delivering Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday. May has said she is confident of overturning a British court ruling that the government needs parliamentary approval to start the process of leaving the EU. The government, which has given little away about its plans for Britain’s future relationship with the EU, has said that having to set out a detailed negotiating strategy to parliament would put it at a disadvantage in talks with the bloc. “While others seek to tie our negotiating hands, the government will get on with the job of delivering the decision of the British people,” May said in a statement ahead of her first trade trip to India on Sunday.

“It was MPs (members of parliament) who overwhelmingly decided to put the decision in their hands. The result was clear. It was legitimate. MPs and peers who regret the referendum result need to accept what the people decided.” May will use her first bilateral trade trip since taking office to try to boost ties with India before Britain leaves the EU and to pave the way for a free trade deal as soon as possible once Brexit is completed. Parliament could in theory block Brexit as most members supported staying in the EU in June’s referendum, although it is unlikely to do so. The ruling could allow lawmakers to temper the government’s approach, however, making a “hard Brexit” – where tight controls on immigration are prioritized over remaining in the European single market – less likely.

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Of course the headline said ‘higher inflation’, but it’s not. It’s currency devaluation.

Higher Prices And Rising Debt Threaten Millions In UK (G.)

UK households should brace themselves for a combination of rising inflation, low pay and increased debt that will squeeze living standards next year and push more people into financial difficulty, experts have warned. Higher inflation, weak wage growth and rising levels of consumer debt are expected to weigh on households next year as the economy adjusts to the post-referendum environment. Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “The spectre of significantly higher inflation is a real concern. Many households have still not recovered from the last big squeeze on incomes in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The risk is that this new pressure on household budgets could tip many more people into financial difficulty.

“As a society we need to prepare for what could be a significant increase in problem debt in the years ahead.” Economists at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research are predicting inflation will rise from a current rate of 1% to almost 4% in 2017, as the sharp fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote makes imports more expensive. Wage growth on the other hand is expected to be weaker, as firms seek to control costs amid slowing economic growth and heightened uncertainty. There are also signs that household debt is returning to highs not seen since the financial crisis. The British Bankers’ Association has said that consumer credit is growing at the fastest rate in almost a decade, as record low interest rates fuel demand for personal loans and credit cards.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said the rise in borrowing could lead to difficulties. “More people are turning to credit … While this borrowing might be manageable now, a sudden change in circumstances could lead to debt problems.”

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Sure looks that way.

Turkey Is Headed For A Bloodbath (Rubin)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the failed July 15 coup attempt a “gift from God.” The Turkish government immediately blamed Erdogan’s former ally-turned-rival Fethullah Gülen for being behind the plot, the genesis of which remains unclear. But the simple fact is that none of the material Turkish officials have given to their U.S. counterparts has yet risen to the standard of proof—let alone credible evidence—to support Erdogan’s charges. It is noteworthy that the Turkish press purports to describe the U.S. reaction as accepting of the Turkish material, yet no American officials have ever been quoted as saying anything near what the Turkish press describes. Indeed, alternate narratives about the July 15 coup attempt are equally compelling.

The only certainty is that the attempted coup became the excuse Erdogan needed or crafted in order to purge those opposed to or insufficiently enthusiastic about his agenda. Much of what has been reported in the Western media has focused on the ongoing purge of teachers and university professors. Certainly, there is a newsworthy irony to a man whose university diploma appears to be forged assuming the right to appoint university presidents through a board he has staffed with his cronies. But it is what Erdogan has done in recent days to the police that should put chills down the spines of those who care about his intent and Turkey’s future. Last week, Erdogan appointed new police chiefs for 61 out of Turkey’s 81 provinces. He also assigned 55 police chiefs to central departments that act as police professional bodies.

Some of the police chiefs Erdogan fired were religious, and some even supported him. None were followers of Gülen, simply because those who were had long ago been purged. Most of the chiefs whom Erdogan has appointed are fiercely nationalist, very young and relatively inexperienced, and so are likely to more easily defer to Erdogan’s orders. The problem seems to be not that Erdogan believed all the sacked chiefs disloyal—most were not, and he had appointed many in the first place. Rather, he considered them soft and unwilling to use the extreme violence he believes will be necessary to exert not only against Turkey’s Kurds but also against many liberal or apolitical Turks as he moves to further consolidate control.

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“..succumbing to a retro personality cult…”

Turkey Was Once A Free Society. Now It Is Rapidly Destroying Itself. (WaPo)

The speed of Turkey’s decline is mind-boggling, even when you live through its the day-to-day machinations. This week started with the Turkish government announcing plans to reintroduce the death penalty at the urging of the country’s strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in order to garner the support of ultra-nationalists in his bid to expand the powers of his presidency. Later in the week came the arrests of the editor-in-chief and columnists of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest paper and a symbol of its fast-eroding secularism, on trumped-up charges of terrorism. And finally, Thursday night brought the detentions of Selahattin Demirtas, the charismatic leader of the country’s pro-Kurdish party, and Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leader of the party. Ten other elected Kurdish deputies were also arrested.

As I write these lines, citizens cannot communicate to organize demonstrations — Twitter is down in Turkey, Facebook is unreachable, and social media applications such as WhatsApp remain blocked. The social media crackdown is an entirely unnecessary measure; who would go out and risk arrest when there is an emergency rule and a formal ban on protests? Protests happen in free and semi-free societies — or when people have the feeling that they have a chance to make an impact. There was a time when mass urban protests shook the country and pushed the government to announce a series of reforms. Today’s Turkey is a shell of itself. No such optimism remains.

The story of Turkey is fast becoming a heartbreaking saga of a budding Muslim democracy tossing out a historic chance at progress, only to settle for a familiar pattern of Middle East despotism by succumbing to a retro personality cult. A decade ago, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was applauded by the world for the pace of its reforms and advances toward EU membership. I myself was writing in praise of the ruling party AKP’s brand of “Muslim democrats,” which at the time seemed like a hopeful alternative to both the hard-line secularism of Kemalism and Islamic radicalism. A decade later, Turkey is barely able to hold civilized relations with its western allies, experiencing a rapid decline as rule of law, and has become a thorn in Europe’s side.

In this gradual decline, Demirtas was a breath of fresh air and one of the best things that happened in Turkish politics over the past few years. The 43-year-old former human rights lawyer commands only a small coalition of Kurds, leftists and minorities— with barely enough votes to pass the 10% national threshold. But Demirtas was effective with his powerful rhetoric on pluralism and democracy and able to project a power beyond his party’s base. This was a tale of David and Goliath. With his famous “We will not let you become an executive president” speech in March last year, and HDP’s electoral victory in June 2015 elections, Demirtas denied Erdogan the type of constitutional change and sweeping authority he wanted. With Demirtas’s detention, there are no more hurdles to Erdogan’s rise to absolute power.

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While it’s great that German military counter-espionage service is called MAD, this is false flag nonsense. No government agency would ever confirm anything on any such investigations, unless there are political reasons to do so. Merkel should not allow it. But she does.

Germany Investigates 60 Possible Islamists In Armed Forces (R.)

Germany plans security investigations of all military recruits from July 2017 after its military counter-espionage service (MAD) identified 20 Islamists in the country’s armed forces, German media group Funke reported on Saturday. A spokesman for the agency confirmed the figure, adding that 60 additional potential cases were under investigation. Draft legislation to be considered by the German parliament in the coming weeks would mandate investigations of all recruits to counter efforts by Islamic State to infiltrate the military and get weapons training, Funke Mediengruppe reported. A German Defence Ministry spokesman said existing law required investigations of soldiers after they were recruited. Before that, recruits had to provide police records and agree to unlimited access to their records in the federal register.

Recruiting offices had received an undisclosed number of queries from people who wanted to join the military for only a few months and expressed a keen interest in intensive weapons and equipment training, the MAD spokesman said. In a statement provided to the Funke media group, the agency said it was concerned about a July 2014 internet posting by Islamic State in which the group urged those with military training to join its ranks, and other calls for supporters to learn to shoot and to become familiar with weapons. German security services are on high alert after two Islamist militant attacks this summer. Almost 900,000 migrants arrived in Germany last year and while many Germans initially welcomed them, security concerns have since increased.

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And this is tied into the article above. Stoke the fear.

German Ministry Wants Migrants Returned To Africa (R.)

The German Interior Ministry wants to stop migrants ever reaching Europe’s Mediterranean coast by picking them up at sea and returning them to Africa, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday. In what would be a huge shift for a country with one of the most generous asylum policies, the ministry says the EU should adopt an Australian-style system under which migrants intercepted at sea are sent for processing at camps in third countries. “The elimination of the prospect of reaching the European coast could convince migrants to avoid embarking on the life-threatening and costly journey in the first place,” the paper quoted a ministry spokeswoman as saying. “The goal must be to remove the basis for people-smuggling organizations and to save migrants from the life-threatening journey.”

The ministry’s proposal calls for migrants picked up in the Mediterranean – most of whom set off from conflict-torn Libya – to be sent to Tunisia, Egypt or other north African states to apply for asylum from there. If their asylum applications are accepted, the migrants could then be transported safely to Europe. The ministry is headed by Thomas de Maiziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. Merkel has been under fire for her open-door refugee policy, with her party losing votes to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in recent regional elections. The ministry said there were no concrete plans or discussions at EU-level about the proposal, but opposition politicians condemned the plan. Bernd Riexinger, head of the opposition Left party, said it would be “a humanitarian scandal and a further step toward elimination of the right to asylum.”

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