Mar 202023
 


Hieronymus Bosch The Garden of Earthly Delights, centre panel, detail c1500

 

UBS To Buy CS For $3 Billion As AT1 Bonds Get Wiped Out In Record Bail-In (ZH)
Xi Jinping Sees Shift To Multipolar World As ‘Irreversible’ (RT)
Russian-Chinese Relations Remain Strong As Tested By Time – Xi Jinping (TASS)
White House Says It Opposes a Ceasefire in Ukraine (Antiwar)
Ukraine Ceasefire ‘Unacceptable’ – White House (RT)
EU Explosives Shortage Threatens Ukraine – FT (RT)
NATO Is Racing To Arm Its Russian Borders. Can It Find The Weapons? (Pol.eu)
Russia Has Hypersonic Weapons Now, But It Does Not Use Them – Putin (TASS)
Russian Files On Kiev’s Crimes To Provide Basis For Tribunal – Kremlin (TASS)
Poland May End Up ‘Joining’ Ukraine Conflict – Diplomat (RT)
Belarus Cracks Down On Pro-Ukraine Guerrillas As War Threatens To Expand (ZH)
Iraq 20 Years (Ray McGovern)
Elon Musk Fact-Checks Biden On Tax Claim (RT)
Germans Warned Of Energy Crisis Next Winter (RT)
Imran Khan Hit With Terror Charges (RT)
Total Weight Of Wild Mammals Less Than 10% Of Humanity’s (G.)

 

 

Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow today, and he means business. The US knows this, and refuses his ceasefire plans. Which he will sign with Putin tomorrow, and send them to Zelensky – after a short phone-call. Washington tells Zelensky not to sign. Not what Xi wants. What does he have planned after that? Will he cut exports to the US?

 

 

 

 

Nap/Macgregor The Russians have destroyed Three Ukrainian Armies

 

 

 

 

I Would Not Mess With Putin – Seymour Hersh + Rickards: Energy Armageddon

 

 

 

 

2017 Poroshenko Trump

 

 

Paris

 

 

Dinesh

 

 

 

 

The panic is tangible. Bypass laws, bypass shareholders… Credit Suisse must be in terrible shape. Will UBS survive being forced to buy them?

Egon von Greyerz: “THE CHF 16B WRITE DOWN BY SWISS REGULATOR #FINMA OF THE #Credit_Suisse AT1 BONDS WILL CREATE PANIC IN EUROPEAN AND GLOBAL DEBT MARKETS. BUY MORE PHYSICAL GOLD AND HANG ON TO YOUR SEATS.”

European bank stocks are plummeting.

UBS To Buy CS For $3 Billion As AT1 Bonds Get Wiped Out In Record Bail-In (ZH)

We finally have a deal, and what was at first a CHF1 BN acquisition priceof Credit Suisse by UBS, which then rose to CHF 2 BN, has now cranked up one final time to CHF 3BN (US$3.25 billion), or 0.76 per share, specifically shareholders of Credit Suisse will receive 1 share in UBS for 22.48 shares in Credit Suisse. As part of the deal, the Swiss National Bank is offering a 100 billion-franc liquidity assistance to UBS while the government is granting a 9 billion-franc guarantee for potential losses from assets UBS is taking over, i.e., this is a taxpayer-backed bailout. More importantly, however, the bank’s entire AT1 tranche – some CHF16BN of Additioanal Tier 1 (AT1) bonds, a $275BN market – will be bailed in and written down to zero, to wit: “FINMA has determined that Credit Suisse’s Additional Tier 1 Capital (deriving from the issuance of Tier 1 Capital Notes) in the aggregate nominal amount of approximately CHF 16 billion will be written off to zero.”


This wipe out, pardon, bail-in is the biggest loss yet for Europe’s $275 billion AT1 market, far eclipsing the approximately €1.35 billion loss suffered by junior bondholders of Spanish lender Banco Popular SA back in 2017, when it was absorbed by Banco Santander SA to avoid a collapse. AT1 bonds were introduced in Europe after the global financial crisis to serve as shock absorbers when banks start to fail. They are designed to impose permanent losses on bondholders or be converted into equity if a bank’s capital ratios fall below a predetermined level, effectively propping up its balance sheet and allowing it to stay in business. As Bloomberg notes, investors had been concerned that a so-called bail-in would result in the AT1s being written down, while senior debt issued by the holding company, Credit Suisse would be converted into equity for the bank. In retrospect, they were right to be worried… meanwhile equityholders get CHF3 billion; we are confident Swiss pensions will be delighted they are getting a doughnut while the Saudis get a not immaterial recovery.

Read more …

“The international community has recognized that no country is superior to others, no model of governance is universal, and no single country should dictate the international order,,”

Xi Jinping Sees Shift To Multipolar World As ‘Irreversible’ (RT)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has set the tone for his visit this week to Moscow by touting improving relations with Russia in the ten years since he took office and vowing that the transition to a “multipolar world” liberated from US domination won’t be stopped. “The world today is going through profound changes unseen in a century,” Xi wrote in an article published on Sunday by the Rossiyskaya Gazeta. “The historical trend of peace, development and win-win cooperation is unstoppable. The prevailing trends of world multipolarity, economic globalization and greater democracy in international relations are irreversible.”

Xi, who’s scheduled to arrive on Monday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, noted that the world faces “traditional and non-traditional security challenges,” as well as “damaging acts of hegemony, domination and bullying.” He added that countries around the world are “eager to find a cooperative way out of the crisis” as they try to get through a “long and tortuous global economic recovery.” “The international community has recognized that no country is superior to others, no model of governance is universal, and no single country should dictate the international order. The common interest of all humankind is in a world that is united and peaceful, rather than divided and volatile.”

Xi made his comments amid escalating tensions with Washington over the Ukraine crisis and US interference in China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. Beijing has resisted Western pressure to condemn Russia over the Ukraine conflict, maintaining neutrality on the issue and promoting a 12-point peace plan to end the hostilities. Washington has dismissed the peace proposal and accused China of mulling military aid to Russia. “We believe that as long as all parties embrace the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and pursue equal-footed, rational and results-oriented dialogue and consultation, they will find a reasonable way to resolve the crisis, as well as a broad path toward a world of lasting peace and common security,” Xi said. He added that China’s plan takes into account the “legitimate security concerns of all countries.”

China and Russia have cemented mutual trust and fostered a “new model of major-country relations” over the past decade, as evidenced by a doubling of trade between the two nations, reaching $190 billion in 2022, Xi wrote. “We have been active in practicing true multilateralism, promoting the common values of humanity, and championing the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.” Xi called for increasing the quality and quantity of investment and economic cooperation between China and Russia, as well as stronger policy coordination. “We have every reason to expect that China and Russia, as fellow travelers on the journey of development and rejuvenation, will make new and greater contributions to human advancement.”

Read more …

Loud and clear.

Russian-Chinese Relations Remain Strong As Tested By Time – Xi Jinping (TASS)

Russian-Chinese relations went through tough periods throughout their history, but they had eventually proved to be strong, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in an interview with Russia’s Rossiyskaya gazeta daily. “At the invitation of President Vladimir Putin, I will soon pay a state visit to the Russian Federation. Russia was the first country I visited after I was elected President 10 years ago,” Xi Jinping said in the article published ahead of his visit to Russia. “Over the past decade, I have made eight visits to Russia,” he continued. “I came each time with high expectations and returned with fruitful results, opening a new chapter for China-Russia relations together with President Putin.”

“Looking back on the extraordinary journey of China-Russia relations over the past 70 years and more, we feel strongly that our relationship has not reached easily where it is today, and that our friendship is growing steadily and must be cherished by us all,” Xi Jinping said in the article published ahead of his visit to Russia. “China and Russia have found a right path of state-to-state interactions,” Xi stated. “This is essential for the relationship to stand the test of changing international circumstances, a lesson borne out by both history and reality.” “My upcoming visit to Russia will be a journey of friendship, cooperation and peace. I look forward to working with President Putin to jointly adopt a new vision, a new blueprint and new measures for the growth of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the years to come,” the Chinese president said.

“To this end, our two sides need to enhance coordination and planning. As we focus on our respective cause of development and rejuvenation, we should get creative in our thinking, create new opportunities and inject new impetus. It is important that we increase mutual trust and bring out the potential of bilateral cooperation to keep China-Russia relations at a high level,” Xi added. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are scheduled to hold negotiations in Moscow on March 21. Earlier, Moscow and Beijing announced that Xi Jinping would make an official visit to Russia on March 20-22. According to previous reports from the Kremlin, negotiations would feature discussions of “current issues of further development of relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation between Russia and China.” The sides also planned to exchange opinions within the context of deepening Russian-Chinese cooperation on the international arena. They are also expected to sign a number of important bilateral documents.

Read more …

The White House attempts to pre-empt Xi.

“Russia cannot be defeated militarily in a year, and the warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on the “arrest” of Russian President Vladimir Putin deprives the West of the opportunity to negotiate with Moscow and will lead to an escalation of the conflict and new victims”
– Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic

White House Says It Opposes a Ceasefire in Ukraine (Antiwar)

The White House has come out against a ceasefire in Ukraine ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Moscow to potentially mediate between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart in Kyiv. Xi is due to arrive in Moscow on Monday and is expected to speak virtually to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky following his talks with Putin. Xi’s trip comes after Beijing released a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine that called for the two sides to cease hostilities and for peace talks to begin. Zelensky expressed openness to China’s proposal, but it was immediately rejected by President Biden. “We don’t support calls for a ceasefire right now,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Friday, according to Newsweek.

“We certainly don’t support calls for a ceasefire that would be called for by the PRC in a meeting in Moscow that would simply benefit Russia.” Kirby’s comments come as Ukrainian and Russian forces continue to battle in the Donbas city of Bakhmut, which has become known as the “meat grinder” due to the heavy casualties. Ukraine has been pouring in barely-trained conscripts to fight in the city, and the US thinks Kyiv is wasting too many resources in the battle. The US wants Ukraine to launch a counteroffensive in the spring, although a senior Ukrainian official told The Washington Post last week that Kyiv doesn’t have the resources to pull it off. Kirby’s reasoning for opposing a ceasefire at this time is that a pause in fighting could concede territory to Moscow.

Kirby said the ceasefire would, “in effect, recognize Russia’s gains, and its attempt to conquer his neighbor’s territory by force, allowing Russian troops to continue to occupy sovereign Ukrainian territory and, of course, it would be another continued violation of the UN Charter.” The US and its allies discouraged peace talks and mediation efforts that were conducted shortly after Russia’s February 2022 invasion. At that time, Moscow was seeking a deal that would have reverted to the pre-invasion territorial lines. But now, Ukraine stands to lose much more as Russia has annexed the territory it controls in the Ukrainian oblasts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and the breakaway Donbas republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Read more …

Kirby about Xi’s visit: “State visit, if you will..”

Ukraine Ceasefire ‘Unacceptable’ – White House (RT)

Washington is firmly opposed to a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has said, branding any peace initiatives “unacceptable” in the current situation. The senior White House official made the remarks on Sunday in an interview with Fox News. Kirby touched on the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, stating that should any peace initiatives come out of their meeting, Washington would reject them. “What we have said before, and we’ll say it again today, that if coming out of this meeting, there’s some sort of call for a ceasefire, well, that’s just going to be unacceptable because all that’s going to do… is ratify Russian’s conquest to date,” Kirby stated.

Moscow and Beijing have been“increasing their cooperation and their relationship” lately, the official said, asserting that the two nations have joined to undermine and “rewrite” the so-called “rules of the game globally.” Russia and China “are two countries that are chafing against this international rules-based order that the United States and so many of our allies and partners have built up, since the end of World War II,” he said. Recently, China floated a 12-point roadmap for putting an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has been raging for over a year already. China has taken a neutral stance on the hostilities, repeatedly urging both parties to show restraint and stick to diplomacy in order to find a resolution.

While the Chinese roadmap has been welcomed in Moscow, it has received a cold reception in the West. Multiple top officials have brushed off Beijing’s efforts to act as a mediator, accusing it of siding with Moscow. US President Joe Biden, for instance, openly questioned Beijing’s motives and voiced suspicion over Moscow’s reaction to it. “Putin is applauding it, so how could it be any good?” the US president said shortly after the plan was unveiled.

Read more …

“If I want to increase production of gunpowder I need probably three years..”

EU Explosives Shortage Threatens Ukraine – FT (RT)

The EU defense industry’s ability to provide Ukraine with military supplies has been hampered by a deficit of explosives, The Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing sources. Several European officials and arms manufacturers told the outlet that the bloc’s military plants are suffering from scarce supplies of gunpowder and TNT, which could delay plans to boost shell production by three years. The sources also complained that this meant the defense industry would be unable to meet the soaring demand “regardless of how much money is thrown at the problem.” “The fundamental problem is that the European defense industry is not in good shape for large-scale war production,” one German official told the outlet.

These concerns were echoed by Jiri Hynek, who chairs the Defense and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic. He said, as quoted by the FT, that while building a new artillery factory “is very easy,” it is impossible to produce shells without raw materials. The official proceeded to point out that “it’s not possible to increase, in a short time, nitrocellulose” production, which is the basic ingredient in gunpowder. “If I want to increase production of gunpowder I need probably three years,” he added. To remedy the situation, the EU needs to find new sources of supply, according to Italian defense official Gianclaudio Torlizzi. He told the FT that the continent needs to approach countries that it had traditionally stayed away from. “Each European country wants to protect its availability of raw materials,” he explained.

EU officials have repeatedly voiced concerns about their dwindling arms stocks due to the bloc’s support of Ukraine. Last December, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell lamented that years of underinvestment had resulted in military stocks quickly running out. Against this backdrop, several key European officials have urged the bloc to switch over to a “war economy.” Meanwhile, on Thursday, the New York Times reported that the US and its allies were running out of ammunition for Ukraine, which is burning through thousands of shells each day in the battle for the key Donbass city of Artyomovsk (called Bakhmut in Ukraine). According to the newspaper, Western officials worry that this process is “unsustainable” and could jeopardize Kiev’s planned springtime campaign.

Read more …

The narrative is that Russia will attack beyond Ukraine. It’s just a narrative.

NATO Is Racing To Arm Its Russian Borders. Can It Find The Weapons? (Pol.eu)

Add NATO’s military planners to the list of those concerned about having enough shells. In the coming months, the alliance will accelerate efforts to stockpile equipment along the alliance’s eastern edge and designate tens of thousands of forces that can rush to allies’ aid on short notice — a move meant to stop Russia from expanding its war beyond Ukraine. To make that happen, though, NATO must convince individual countries to contribute various elements: Soldiers, training, better infrastructure — and, most notably, extensive amounts of pricey weapons, equipment and ammunition. With countries already worried about their own munitions stockpiles and Ukraine in acute need of more shells and weapons from allies, there is a risk that not all NATO allies will live up to their promises to contribute to the alliance’s new plans.

[..] It’s a challenge NATO has faced in the past, and one that experts fear could become a persistent problem for the Western alliance as Russia’s war drags into a second year. While the U.S. and EU are making plans to source more weapons — fast — the restocking process will inevitably take time. That could run into NATO’s aspirations. Military leaders this spring will submit updated regional defense plans intended to help redefine how the alliance protects its 1 billion citizens. The numbers will be large, with officials floating the idea of up to 300,000 NATO forces needed to help make the new model work. That means lots of coordinating and cajoling. “I think you need forces to counter a realistic Russia,” said one senior NATO military official, underscoring the need for significantly “more troops” and especially more forces at “readiness.”

There are several tiers of “readiness.” The first tier — which may consist of about 100,000 soldiers prepared to move within 10 days — could be drawn from Poland, Norway and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), said Heinrich Brauß, a former NATO assistant secretary general for defense policy and force planning. It may also include multinational battlegroups the alliance has already set up in the eastern flank. A second tier of troops would then back up those soldiers, ready to deploy from countries like Germany in between 10 to 30 days. But the process could get tricky. Why? Because moving so quickly, even given a month, requires lots of people, equipment and training — and lots of money.

Some militaries will have to up their recruitment efforts. Many allies will have to increase defense spending. And everyone will have to buy more weapons, ammunition and equipment. Ben Hodges, former commander of U.S. Army Europe, said that “readiness” is “basically, do you have all the stuff you’re supposed to have to do the mission assigned to a unit of a particular size?” “An artillery battalion needs to shoot X number of rounds per year for planning purposes in order to maintain its level of proficiency,” he said. A tank battalion needs to hit targets, react to different situations and “demonstrate proficiency on the move, day and night, hitting targets that are moving.” “It’s all very challenging,” he said, pointing to the need for training ranges and ammunition, as well as maintaining proficiency as personnel changes over time. “This obviously takes time and it’s also expensive.”

Read more …

As NATO scrambles to arm Ukraine -and itself-, Russia has no such problems.

Putin was asked why Russia didn’t invade in 2014.

“There are other cutting-edge systems as well, though in 2014 there was nothing of the kind..”

Russia Has Hypersonic Weapons Now, But It Does Not Use Them – Putin (TASS)

Russia does not use hypersonic weapons in fact now, though it has them, same as other cutting-edge systems, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview for the “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin” program on Rossiya-1 TV channel published by journalist Pavel Zarubin on his Telegram channel on Sunday. “Indeed, we have to do much, let’s say, for the development of land forces, but back then [in 2014] there were no hypersonic weapons, though they exist now! Yes, we do not use them in fact, but we have them. Do you understand? There are other cutting-edge systems as well, though in 2014 there was nothing of the kind,” Putin said. Asked whether it was worth starting the special operation in 2014, he stressed that the reality has changed since then: “Conjunctive mood cannot be used here!”.

Read more …

Two can play that game..

Russian Files On Kiev’s Crimes To Provide Basis For Tribunal – Kremlin (TASS)

Russia’s Investigative Committee thoroughly records all Kiev’s crimes, with those files to potentially provide a basis for tribunal in the future, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Sunday. “We know that the Investigative Committee is involved in this work. All crimes committed by the Kiev regime are thoroughly recorded. <…> The files will obviously be able to provide a basis for such a tribunal,” he said when asked how the Kremlin takes the idea of a tribunal on Kiev’s regime. Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin said earlier that Moscow should establish an international judicial body in response to Western countries, which are preparing similar structures for Russia’s prosecution.

Read more …

There we go…

Poland May End Up ‘Joining’ Ukraine Conflict – Diplomat (RT)

Poland may end up “joining” the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine should the latter fail to protect its “independence,” the Polish ambassador to France, Jan Emeryk Rosciszewski, has said. The senior diplomat made the remarks on Saturday while speaking live to the broadcaster LCI. Rosciszewski squarely blamed the hostilities, which have been ongoing for over a year already, on Moscow, stating that it was “not NATO, not Poland, not France and not Slovakia” that was ramping up international tensions, but Russia. According to the diplomat, the situation now is “either Ukraine will successfully defend its independence, or we will be forced, in any case, to join this conflict.” “Otherwise, our principal values, which are the basis of our civilization and our culture, will be in fundamental danger, so we will have no choice,” Rosciszewski stated.

The hawkish statement promptly made headlines in international media, prompting the Polish mission in France to elaborate further on the remarks made by its head. According to a message released by the embassy on Sunday, Rosciszewski’s comments were not actually an admission that Warsaw was ready to go to war with Russia, but merely a “warning” and a pledge to continue supporting Kiev. “Listening carefully to the entire conversation allows us to understand that there was no announcement of Poland’s direct involvement in the conflict, but only a warning against the consequences of Ukraine’s defeat – the possibility of Russia attacking or dragging into the war more Central European countries – the Baltic states and Poland,” the statement reads. The embassy also condemned the purportedly “sensational” reporting on the bombshell interview, suggesting that some unidentified media outlets may have acted in “ill will.”

The remarks received a poor reception in Moscow, with a top Russian senator, Alexey Pushkov, warning Warsaw of the potential consequences and questioning its presumed resolve to fight Russia on its own. “A very presumptuous statement by the Polish ambassador in Paris. For the first time, an official representative of Poland said what its leaders have long had on their minds. However, all the ‘courage’ of the Poles is based on the support of the United States. Is Warsaw sure that Washington is ready to fight?” Pushkov said in a Telegram post.

Poland has been among the most active supporters of Kiev in the hostilities against Russia, sending in assorted military hardware, including tanks and artillery pieces, to prop up Ukraine. Apart from that, Polish mercenaries have been directly involved in the conflict in significant numbers, according to Moscow. Warsaw has also announced a major military buildup of its own, seeking to greatly expand the ranks of its armed forces and procure large amounts of modern military hardware from overseas.

Read more …

Is Belarus being provoked by Ukraine to spread the war? You’d almost think so…

Belarus Cracks Down On Pro-Ukraine Guerrillas As War Threatens To Expand (ZH)

The Belarus government is implementing widespread measures to crack down on dissent as pro-Ukraine guerrillas attempt to sabotage railways and other logistics that could be used by Russia for a future offensive from the north. The move comes not long after the guerrillas, part of an organization called BYPOL, used two armed drones to damage a Russian Beriev A-50 parked at the Machulishchy Air Base near Minsk. The early warning aircraft was lent to Belarus for monitoring the security of their southern border. The attack failed to destroy the plane beyond minor repairs according the the Belarus government, but did garner BYPOL headlines in the western media.

What they did not report was that the primary perpetrator of the attack was apprehended along with 20 other accomplices. Belarus claims that at least one of the guerrillas has ties to Ukrainian security services, though this remains unconfirmed. Last month, President Alexander Lukashenko warned that: “I’m ready to fight together with the Russians from the territory of Belarus in one case only: if so much as one soldier from (Ukraine) comes to our territory with a gun to kill my people.” If BYPOL attacks continue within Belarus they may provide the very rationale that Lukashenko needs to justify joining military forces with Russia, which would open up the northern border of Ukraine to attack and likely deal a devastating blow to the nation’s defensive posture.

Acts of sabotage have already been used as fuel for civilian restrictions including the issuance of arrest warrants for numerous activists as well as at least five journalists, two of them now sentenced to 12 years in prison for a variety of charges including “Tax evasion, organizing activities aimed at inciting racial, ethnic, religious, or social hatred, and public calls through the media and the Internet aimed at damaging the national security of Belarus.” The Belarus government seems to have abandoned optics in favor of policies akin to martial law, which suggests a near term plan to join Russia militarily as well as to wage an anti-insurgency effort against BYPOL. Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik stated at the end of February that the accelerated militarization of the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) represents a threat to his country’s security.

Read more …

” This one was prepared not to determine the truth, but rather to “justify” a preemptive war on Iraq, where there was nothing to preempt.”

Iraq 20 Years (Ray McGovern)

C.I.A. Director Tenet suggested basing a new draft on the National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 1, 2002, “Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction.” That had immense appeal to Tenet and others who had been co-opted into “leaning forward” to facilitate a Bush/Cheney war on Iraq. Indeed, one can assume it had appeal to most of those involved in Powell’s speech preparation, given that the Security Council briefing was but a handful of days away. I have been referring to that NIE, advisedly, as The Whore of Babylon, wrong on every major accusation about WMD in Iraq. I speak from experience at the C.I.A. as a former chair of National Intelligence Estimates. This one was prepared not to determine the truth, but rather to “justify” a preemptive war on Iraq, where there was nothing to preempt.

To their credit, State/INR analysts had expressed formal dissent from some of its main conclusions back in September 2002. No, it is not possible that Powell could have been unaware of that. And it is not difficult to explain why Powell chose to spurn his own intelligence analysts, despite their relatively solid reputation. I will resist the temptation to guess at Powell’s motivation, even though I have had some considerable experience with him. Back in the day, we used to spend a few minutes comparing notes before my one-on-one morning briefings of his boss, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, with The President’s Daily Brief. I am not surprised, though, as Draper quotes Powell explaining his decision to stay in place as secretary of state and to do what he was told: “I knew I didn’t have any choice. He’s the President.”

Draper adds that, “although Powell would not admit it, Bush’s request that he be the one to make the case against Hussein to the U.N. was enormously flattering. Cheney took a more direct approach: ‘The Vice President said to me: “You’re the most popular man in America. Do something with that popularity.”” Draper describes INR’s Director Ford as “heartsick” watching Powell on TV before the U.N. Security Council. Ford’s chagrin was widely shared among serious intelligence analysts — as well as by us alumni watching the prostitution of what had been our tell-it-like-it-is intelligence analysis profession. But there the National Intelligence Estimate was for plucking — an intelligence community-endorsed consensus already “on the books” — and with drafting time running out.

Read more …

“I also paid more income tax than anyone ever in the history of Earth for 2021 and will do that again in 2022.”

Elon Musk Fact-Checks Biden On Tax Claim (RT)

America’s richest man on Saturday took issue with President Joe Biden’s effort to sell voters on tax increases by claiming that billionaires get away with paying only 3% of their earnings, on average, to the federal government. Tesla CEO Elon Musk pushed back after Biden posted a Twitter message arguing that the mega-rich aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. “You know the average tax billionaires pay?” Biden asked, before answering the question himself with his 3% claim. “No billionaire should be paying a lower tax than somebody working as a schoolteacher or a firefighter.” Musk replied, “I paid 53% taxes on my Tesla stock options (40% federal and 13% state), so I must be lifting the average! I also paid more income tax than anyone ever in the history of Earth for 2021 and will do that again in 2022.”

He then invited Twitter users in the platform’s Community Notes program to weigh in on whether the 3% figure was accurate. Biden has repeatedly made the claim while promoting his effort to raise taxes on high-income Americans. When he made the same statement in a speech last month, PolitiFact pointed out that it was false. “Under today’s laws, the 25 highest-earning billionaires paid an average tax rate of 16%,” the fact-checking outlet said. The group added that most teachers and firefighters fall within an income range with effective tax rates of zero to 15%.

Biden’s 2024 budget proposal calls for raising tax rates on individuals with earnings of more than $400,000 a year and married couples making over $450,000. He also has demanded a 25% minimum tax on Americans with fortunes exceeding $100 million. “Look, I think you should be able to be a billionaire if you can earn it, but just pay your fair share,” Biden said. “I think you ought to pay a minimum tax of 25%. It’s about basic fairness.” Musk countered, “I certainly agree that everyone should pay taxes and not engage in elaborate tax-avoidance schemes.” Such schemes aren’t necessary for low-income Americans because more than 40% of US households pay no federal income tax.

Read more …

Nord Stream fallout.

Germans Warned Of Energy Crisis Next Winter (RT)

Germany has managed to avoid an energy crisis this year, but there is a risk that the next heating season will be more difficult, Klaus Mueller, the head of Germany’s Federal Network Agency said in an interview with the Rheinische Post, published on Saturday. According to Mueller, the country’s gas storage facilities are currently 64% full, and even if it the weather turns cold in the next few weeks, German energy supply for the remainder of the heating season is secured. He warned, however, that “we should not relax, as things could be different next winter.” “We cannot rule out a gas shortage for next winter. Risk factors are that the winter of 2023/24 will be very cold, that households and companies will save too little, that the LNG terminals will not work as planned – we would also have to help our neighboring countries with their energy problems,” Mueller explained.

Germany largely managed to avoid energy shortages due to unseasonably mild weather throughout the past couple of months, but Mueller noted that with respect to the next heating season, the weather poses the biggest risk. “We cannot rely on the fact that next winter will be mild again. When it’s cold, many households immediately stop saving. In warm October they saved more than 20% of gas, while during the cold snap in December – only 7%.” The official also pointed to another risk factor – the absence of Russia’s energy supplies, which made it possible for the country to fill up storage tanks in preparation for the heating season last year. While the EU did not ban Russia’s pipeline gas imports, their flows dwindled significantly after Ukraine-related sanctions and following the sabotage that disabled the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, one of the main routes for Russian gas to Europe.

As a result, Germany no longer receives Russian gas directly, and according to Mueller, energy prices will no longer be as low as they were when it did. “We don’t know what will become of Russia’s remaining gas supplies… We have to get used to higher prices, the time of cheap energy from Russia is definitely over,” he stated. Gas prices have been relatively low throughout the winter, helped by lower demand due to mild weather. Wholesale gas prices, which had soared over €300 per megawatt hour late last summer, fell to a level of around €50 in March. While that is far more than what natural gas cost in early 2021, it is “the new normal,” Mueller said, noting that in order to avoid further price spikes, consumers would have to continue efforts to conserve energy.

Read more …

Khan’s crime? He offended the CIA: “Khan built economic and diplomatic relations with Russia and China during his time in office..”

Imran Khan Hit With Terror Charges (RT)

Police in Islamabad have filed terrorism charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, after crowds of his supporters rioted outside a courthouse in the Pakistani capital. Khan was due to appear at the court on Saturday to answer corruption charges. Khan, along with more than a dozen officials in his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and scores of his supporters, were charged with a litany of offenses, including rioting, obstruction, assault on police officers, arson, intimidation, and acts of terrorism, Pakistan’s The Nation newspaper reported on Sunday. The charges stemmed from a riot outside the Islamabad Judicial Complex on Saturday, in which protesters hurled rocks and fire bombs at police as they waited for Khan to arrive at the building. A dozen police vehicles were burned, and officers responded with tear gas.

More than 50 officers were injured, and 59 of Khan’s supporters were arrested, the Associated Press reported. Police raided Khan’s residence in Lahore earlier on Saturday, shortly after he left for the court date in Islamabad. A crowd of the former PM’s supporters attempted to block police from carrying out the raid, leading to clashes and 30 arrests. The raid was not the first on Khan’s home, and the former leader previously accused authorities of attempting to arrest and execute him. Khan never entered the courtroom on Saturday. In a video message to supporters, he claimed that police fired tear gas at his vehicle, preventing him from stepping outside. The judge postponed his hearing until March 31.

A former cricketer, Khan became prime minister of Pakistan in 2018 but was ousted in 2022. He is accused by the state of unlawfully selling official gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries during his tenure. Khan claims that the corruption charges are politically motivated and aimed at preventing him from returning to power. Khan built economic and diplomatic relations with Russia and China during his time in office, and he has since claimed that his removal was orchestrated by the US with the goal of installing a more compliant leader. The PTI has been leading protests across Pakistan and calling for snap elections since Khan’s ouster. During a November rally in Wazirabad, an attacker opened fire on Khan, injuring him and eight others. Despite his ongoing legal drama, Khan is the most popular political leader in Pakistan, with an approval rating of 61%, according to a Gallup poll taken earlier this month. Current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sits at 32%.

Read more …

“Their total mass is around 22m tonnes which is less than 10% of humanity’s [..] ..add all our cattle, sheep and other livestock, that adds another 630m tonnes..”

Total Weight Of Wild Mammals Less Than 10% Of Humanity’s (G.)

The total weight of Earth’s wild land mammals – from elephants to bisons and from deer to tigers – is now less than 10% of the combined tonnage of men, women and children living on the planet. A study by scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, published this month, concludes that wild land mammals alive today have a total mass of 22m tonnes. By comparison, humanity now weighs in at a total of around 390m tonnes. At the same time, the species we have domesticated, such as sheep and cattle, in addition to other hangers-on such as urban rodents, add a further 630m tonnes to the total mass of creatures that are now competing with wild mammals for Earth’s resources. The biomass of pigs alone is nearly double that of all wild land mammals.

The figures demonstrate starkly that humanity’s transformation of the planet’s wildernesses and natural habitats into a vast global plantation is now well under way – with devastating consequences for its wild creatures. As the study authors emphasise, the idea that Earth is a planet that still possesses great plains and jungles that are teeming with wild animals is now seriously out of kilter with reality. The natural world and its wild animals are vanishing as humanity’s population of almost eight billion individuals continues to grow.“When you look at wildlife documentaries on television – for instance of wildebeest migrating – it is easy to conclude that wild mammals are doing quite well,” lead author Ron Milo told the Observer.

“But that intuition is wrong. These creatures are not doing well at all. Their total mass is around 22m tonnes which is less than 10% of humanity’s combined weight and amounts to only about 6lb of wild land mammal per person. And when you add all our cattle, sheep and other livestock, that adds another 630m tonnes. That is 30 times the total for wild animals. It is staggering. This is a wake-up call to humanity.” The study, The Global Biomass of Wild Mammals, also reveals that those that do best – such as the white-tailed deer in the US and wild boars – are those that find it easier to adapt to the presence of humans. Both species can be found near settlements and are occasionally treated as pets. “Even within the wild, the fingerprints of humanity are obvious,” added Milo, whose team’s study is published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As part of the paper, researchers Lior Greenspoon and Eyal Krieger collected biomass data on about half of all known mammals and used machine-learning computational models on other zoological samples to calculate the other half.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 


75yr old WYATT EARP – #botd in 1848 – at home in 1923.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elephants

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 062023
 
 March 6, 2023  Posted by at 10:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  58 Responses »


Rembrandt van RIjn A Woman Standing with a Candle c.1631

 

‘No One Can Win this War’ – Viktor Orbán (HT)
Orban: “In A War Taking Place In Europe The Americans Have The Final Word” (ZH)
Only Ceasefire Can Put End To Conflict In Ukraine – Hungarian FM (TASS)
NATO and EU States Already Parties To Ukraine Conflict – Top Hungarian MP (RT)
US Forces EU To Finance Kiev Regime, But Incurs Lower Costs – Duma Speaker (TASS)
Biden Admin Not Ready To Unambiguously Support Kiev Position On Crimea (TASS)
Military Strategy Revolutionizes Political Strategy In Ukraine (Helmer)
The State Of Ukrainian Democracy Is Not Strong (Jacobin)
West Ready To Give Security Guarantees To Kiev After Conflict – Scholz (TASS)
The Valdai Meeting: Where West Asia Meets Multipolarity (Escobar)
Top US General Reaffirms Occupation Of Syria During Visit (Cradle)
US Army Resumes Theft Of Syrian Oil Weeks After Deadly Quake (Cradle)
People Behind Biden Announce Creation of Formal National Surveillance State (CTH)
Fauci Prompted Scientific Paper In Feb. 2020 To Disprove Lab Leak Theory (NYP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nordstream

 

 

 

 

“The West has lost its ability to unite the world in the interest of a single cause. Its philosophical tenets are limited in space. This is a new phenomenon..”

‘No One Can Win this War’ – Viktor Orbán (HT)

Hungary is seriously affected by the war in Ukraine, the Western countries are not seeking peace, and EU leadership is following American interests, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a Swiss weekly. “There are some who want to force Hungary into the war, and they are not picky about the means with which to achieve that goal,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told Swiss weekly Weltwoche – according to a summary published on his website –, stressing that “Hungary’s leadership is strong enough to keep the war away from our country.” According to Prime Minister Orbán, Hungarians “are most affected by the EU sanctions introduced against Russia” which have drastically increased the price of oil and gas. He added that the war “is taking its toll on our soul, on our psyche.” “Ukraine is our neighbor where Hungarians live as well. They are being conscripted and are dying by the hundreds on the front,”he pointed out.”

Orbán said the most important realization of the war in Ukraine is that “Europe has retired from the debate.” “In the decisions adopted in Brussels, I recognize American interests more frequently than European ones. In a war that is taking place in Europe the Americans have the final word,” he added. The prime minister agreed with the journalist’s assumption that the deeper causes of Europe’s weakness should be sought in the European Union, because “it is destroying the nation states without replacing them with anything workable.” Regarding the outcome of the war, Orbán said “no one can win it.” There is a nuclear power with a population of 140 million up against the Ukrainians, while there is the whole of NATO up against the Russians. This is what makes things so dangerous. There is a stalemate which can easily escalate into a world war,” he pointed out.


The prime minister noted that two weeks before the outbreak of the war when he met with Vladimir Putin for the last time in Moscow, the Russian President told him that Hungary’s NATO membership was not a problem, only that of Ukraine and Georgia. “Putin has a problem – this is what he told me – with the American missile bases already created in Romania and Poland, and with NATO’s potential expansion towards Ukraine and Georgia in order to station armaments there. Additionally, the Americans terminated important disarmament treaties. This is why Putin could no longer have a good night’s sleep,” he explained, adding that he understood what Putin said, but cannot accept what he did. According to Viktor Orbán, the desire, the will to create peace is missing, at least in the West. He pointed out that “the Chinese, the Indians, the Arabs, the Turks, and the Brazilians all want peace.” The West has lost its ability to unite the world in the interest of a single cause. Its philosophical tenets are limited in space. This is a new phenomenon,” he underlined.

Read more …

“(How) can anyone want to be our ally in a military system while they’re shamelessly spreading lies about Hungary? So let’s stop for a friendly word and ask them how this can be.”

Orban: “In A War Taking Place In Europe The Americans Have The Final Word” (ZH)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said in a fresh interview with Swiss weekly Weltwoche that his country’s leadership is “strong enough to keep the war away from our country” while also stressing that Washington has become prime the decision-maker over the conflict in Ukraine. He further addressed the proxy war nature of the conflict in saying, “There are some who want to force Hungary into the war, and they are not picky about the means with which to achieve that goal.” “Ukraine is our neighbor where Hungarians live as well,” he continued. “They are being conscripted and are dying by the hundreds on the front.” The Hungarian government has long protested this practice and presented its complaints to Kiev.

“Europe has retired from the debate,” Orban complained of EU countries being dragged into confrontation with Moscow by Washington. “In the decisions adopted in Brussels, I recognize American interests more frequently than European ones. “In a war that is taking place in Europe the Americans have the final word,” he stressed in the interview. Most recently, Hungary has shown its unwillingness to go along with the rest of NATO by delaying a vote on ratifying Sweden and Finland’s accession bids. According to a Thursday Associated Press report, “The delay, which pushes the vote back by two weeks to the parliamentary session beginning March 20, comes as Hungary remains the only NATO member country besides Turkey that hasn’t yet approved the two Nordic countries’ bids to join the Western military alliance.” The report indicates:


“Hungary’s populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, has said that he is personally in favor of the two countries joining NATO, but alleges that the governments in Stockholm and Helsinki have “spread blatant lies” about Hungary which have raised questions among lawmakers in his party on whether to approve the bids. “It’s not right for them to ask us to take them on board while they’re spreading blatant lies about Hungary, about the rule of law in Hungary, about our democracy and about life here,” Orban complained. “(How) can anyone want to be our ally in a military system while they’re shamelessly spreading lies about Hungary? So let’s stop for a friendly word and ask them how this can be.” But even if Budapest were ready and willing to give its approval, Turkey’s ongoing resistance has been even fiercer, and thus Sweden and Finland are unlikely to enter the alliance anytime soon.”

Lavrov

Read more …

“We are a state that neighbors Ukraine, and we do not want more people to die. This is why we are working to stop it. We do not ship weapons, we continue to advocate peace.”

Only Ceasefire Can Put End To Conflict In Ukraine – Hungarian FM (TASS)

The solutions that Europe is trying to find in order to resolve the crisis in Ukraine are not working, and the conflict could only be ended through a ceasefire, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in an interview for the SVT TV channel. “The first goal is to stop killing people, which means a ceasefire agreement and nothing more,” he said.According to Szijjarto, EU sanctions failed to stop the conflict. “We have already introduced 10 sanctions packages; has it brought us any closer to a resolution [of the conflict]? No. Has it brought Russia to its knees? No. Has it hurt us? Yes. I think that the ‘solutions’ that we have been trying to find in Europe simply didn’t work, because we’ve got too carried away with the war mentality,” he noted.


When asked why Hungary does not ship weapons to Kiev, the Foreign Minister said: “We are a state that neighbors Ukraine, and we do not want more people to die. This is why we are working to stop it. We do not ship weapons, we continue to advocate peace.”

Read more …

“Budapest has also been the only NATO nation to voice support for China’s recently unveiled peace plan for Ukraine.”

NATO and EU States Already Parties To Ukraine Conflict – Top Hungarian MP (RT)

Massive deliveries of military aid to Ukraine have made multiple NATO and EU nations parties to the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, according to Laszlo Kover, the speaker of Hungary’s National Assembly. Speaking to Hir TV late on Friday, Kover said certain members of the two blocs are already participants in the conflict, despite not “yet” actually engaging in the fighting themselves. He did not identify the countries to which he was referring. “Members of NATO and the EU have already sent almost $60 billion worth of lethal military equipment to Ukraine, one of the warring parties. This means that individual countries – members of the European Union and NATO – are participants of this war, although not yet fighting,” he said.

The speaker also shared his opinion on the potential accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. While the move has already been approved by the vast majority of member states in the US-led military alliance, it has been opposed by Hungary and Türkiye. Budapest is expected to dispatch a delegation to the two Nordic nations shortly in an effort to resolve differences regarding the accession bid, Kover noted. Both Finland and Sweden have caused “damage” to Hungary, repeatedly making hostile moves against Budapest within the EU, he continued. “They cause specific, measurable damage to Hungary’s national interests. These people are putting pressure on the European institutions so that they do not allocate the EU funds due to Hungary. This is about specific damage, not just that our souls are sensitive,” Kover explained.


He also claimed that their potential accession to NATO would not increase the “sense of security” within the bloc, but rather yield the opposite result, greatly extending the alliance’s border with Russia. Earlier this week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called for the creation of a “European NATO,” arguing that America’s desire for the further expansion of its influence has led to the current tensions between the West and Russia. The EU needs to create a military bloc of its own to become free of American influence and stop doing Washington’s bidding, Orban suggested. Hungary has repeatedly called for peace since the outbreak of conflict between Moscow and Kiev, criticizing both the Western sanctions imposed on Russia and the continuous flow of arms to Ukraine. Budapest has also been the only NATO nation to voice support for China’s recently unveiled peace plan for Ukraine.

Read more …

“..Washington has once again showed that “the main principle of its policy is to use other countries to pursue its interests.”

US Forces EU To Finance Kiev Regime, But Incurs Lower Costs – Duma Speaker (TASS)

The United States is forcing European countries to finance the Kiev regime to the detriment of its citizens, but Washington itself allocates only 0.37% of its share of GDP for these purposes, Chairman of the Russian State Duma (lower house of the Russian parliament) Vyacheslav Volodin wrote in his Telegram channel on Sunday. “The US is forcing European countries to fund the Kiev regime at the expense of their own citizens’ well-being. However, as it turns out, they incur far lower costs than others. In terms of the cost of maintaining the Kiev regime, the United States ranks 12th, accounting for 0.37% of GDP,” Volodin stated.


According to him, this is 5.7-fold less than militarization and regime maintenance costs by Poland at 2.1% of GDP. “Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Malta, Norway, Romania, and Cyprus are putting pressure on Washington to increase spending,” Volodin added. He emphasized that Washington has once again showed that “the main principle of its policy is to use other countries to pursue its interests.” “Furthermore, the EU countries bear additional costs as a result of anti-Russian sanctions, which have destabilized their economies. The total amount of support for Europe’s energy industry reached 570 bln euro. It cost Germany 7.2% of GDP,” Volodin said, emphasizing that “EU leaders are acting contrary to national interests at the expense of European citizens” by continuing to supply weapons to Kiev.

Read more …

“..Even if they don’t actually believe that it’s likely that Crimea will be returned to Ukraine militarily.”

Biden Admin Not Ready To Unambiguously Support Kiev Position On Crimea (TASS)

The US Administration is currently unwilling to unambiguously support Ukraine’s plans to capture Crimea, and Washington tries to avoid publicly clarifying its position on this issue, The Hill says in an op-ed published Sunday. According to the article, the Biden Administration is “keeping the door open” on the Crimea issue. The Administration officials “have repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether Washington would support Kyiv’s efforts to retake” the peninsula, “punting the issue to further ‘down the road’.” “Though U.S. officials have said that Washington will support Ukraine for however long it takes for them to win the war, they’ve been unwilling to give full support to Kyiv’s ambitions in Crimea,” the article reads, noting that this is in part due to heavy weapons that would be necessary to restore control over Crimea, including long-range missiles, tanks and planes.

The op-ed notes that US lawmakers asked the Administration to clarify its position on Crimea, but its officials have chosen to stick to a “strategy of ambiguity.” In particular, this is the approach that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan adheres to. “They may believe that there is value in holding Crimea at risk in order to put pressure on the Russians to come to the negotiating table,” says Chris Chivvis, a former U.S. national intelligence officer in Europe and current director of the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment. “It’s possible that that’s driving their policy. […] Even if they don’t actually believe that it’s likely that Crimea will be returned to Ukraine militarily.”


Following the coup 2014 d’etat in Ukraine, authorities of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol held a referendum on reconciliation with Russia. Over 80% eligible voters participated, with approximately 96% of all voters favoring the reconciliation. On March 18, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on accession of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia; lawmakers ratified the treaty on March 21. Despite the convincing outcome, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.

Read more …

“What has remained of the plan of the destruction of Russia from those days is what there is today.”

Military Strategy Revolutionizes Political Strategy In Ukraine (Helmer)

In the history of the wars of the world, it almost never happens that the military strategy of a fighting state directs and revolutionizes the political strategy, and not the other way round — as aspiring politicians, military officers and policemen are taught by the venerable Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz to believe. But it is happening in Europe now, on the Ukrainian battlefield, and in the war of the US and NATO alliance against Russia. So long, Sun; so long, Carl; so long, Pardner! For Russia it would never have turned out this way if President Boris Yeltsin had decided to run for a third term, ruling as medically incapable as President Joseph Biden, but deferring the succession until after Mikhail Khodorkovsky had sold the Yukos oil company to the US, and the other Russian oligarchs created by Yeltsin had followed suit. Heart, brain, and liver disease stopped the Yeltsin part of that. The Vladimir Putin succession plan then failed to deliver what had been intended.

What has remained of the plan of the destruction of Russia from those days is what there is today. The oligarchs survive but, according to the terms of the US and NATO sanctions war, they cannot have their assets and freedom of movement back unless they overthrow Putin, change the regime in the Kremlin, and destroy the capability of the Russian military to defend the country. The defensive strategy in response is obvious. Not only must the capacity of Ukrainian forces and their NATO weapons be destroyed at the front, and their remainder driven to a territorial line west of the Dnieper River, between Kiev and Lvov, out of range of Russian Crimea, Zaphorozhye, Kherson, Donetsk and Lugansk. Also, each of the NATO weapons must be defeated and destroyed which the US sends to the battlefield, and the airborne and ground systems for directing them at their Russian targets neutralized. .


If this Russian strategy succeeds, the implication for Europe – and the rest of the world (Taiwan) – will be plain. The US cannot defend NATO and NATO cannot defend its member states with a military capability that has been defeated. Article Five of the NATO treaty will become a dead letter. If and when that happens, the all-for-one-one-for-all principle of security in Europe which Article 5 promises will be replaced, first by the principle of every one for himself, and then for the principle of reciprocal security and non-aggression; that was the proposal of the Russian treaties of December 17, 2021.

Read more …

Oh, we’re going to acknowledge that now? Well, well…

The State Of Ukrainian Democracy Is Not Strong (Jacobin)

“Zelensky used the Russian invasion and the war as a pretext to eliminate most of the political opposition and potential rivals for power and to consolidate his largely undemocratic rule,” says University of Ottawa political scientist Ivan Katchanovski. March 3, 2022 saw the Ukrainian criminal code amended to include significantly harsher punishments for treason when committed under martial law — imposed the day of the invasion — and adding the new offenses of “collaborative activities” and “assistance to the aggressor state,” meant to simplify the law and speed up investigations and trials. Such changes had been introduced earlier but failed to get off the ground until the war.

Under the new law, “collaborationism” includes a broad range of activities, from supporting aggression against Ukraine, to spreading propaganda in education, to protesting or handling information in ways that help the enemy. Mykyta Petrovets, a lawyer at the Kyiv-based Regional Center for Human Rights, acknowledged that how responsibly the new laws are wielded comes down to how authorities interpret them. Since the law’s passage, treason and collaboration cases have exploded. According to data from the prosecutor general’s office, while 663 criminal proceedings for treason were recorded over the period 2014–2021, that number ballooned to 1,062 over 2022 alone. From February to March that year, the figure shot up more than fivefold, to 278. The number of collaborationist offenses, meanwhile, reached 3,851 between June, when they were first recorded, and the end of the year, with over six hundred referred to the courts.


For Chemerys, these changes are a way to silence Ukrainians with the “wrong” views and to make “speaking anything other than official propaganda in Ukraine” an imprisonable offense. Kotsaba charges they’re a way to keep society “scared and obedient” and to distract attention from Ukraine’s internal problems. Others point to Zelensky’s markedly weakened prewar approval ratings. As reports of the arrest of dissidents began spreading early in the war, Zelensky and his party first suspended and then banned eleven opposition parties over “links to Russia.” Alongside the suspension of two of the 2019 election’s top vote-getting parties, most prominent was the ban on Ukraine’s second-largest bloc, the pro-Russian Opposition Platform — For Life (OPZZh). This occurred even though most of its major figures took a pro-Ukraine position in the war and have since become reliable backers of Zelensky’s policies in parliament.

Read more …

Who will be in power in Kiev?

West Ready To Give Security Guarantees To Kiev After Conflict – Scholz (TASS)

Western nations are ready to give security guarantees to Ukraine after the conflict is over, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday. He said that the Western countries do not object against Ukraine’s entering the European Union but Kiev will need to comply with certain requirements for that. The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the United Kingdom, Germany, and France were looking at signing a defense agreement between Ukraine and NATO after the conflict ends. Under the agreement, according to the newspaper, the Kiev authorities will have a wider access to advanced military equipment, weapons and munitions. This step is called to push Kiev toward talks with Russia, the newspaper claimed.

Read more …

A new world takes shape.

“..pave the way for a tripartite summit between Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

The Valdai Meeting: Where West Asia Meets Multipolarity (Escobar)

Bouthaina Shaaban, a special advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is a remarkable woman, fiery and candid. Her presence at Valdai was nothing short of electric. She stressed how “since the US war in Vietnam, we lost what we witnessed as free media. The free press has died.” At the same time “the colonial west changed its methods,” subcontracting wars and relying on local fifth columnists. Shaaban volunteered the best short definition anywhere of the “rules-based international order”: “Nobody knows what these rules are, and what this order is.” She re-emphasized that in this post-globalization period that is ushering in regional blocs, the usual western meddlers prefer to use non-state actors – as in Syria and Iran – “mandating locals to do what the US would like to do.”

A crucial example is the US al-Tanf military base that occupies sovereign Syrian territory on two critical borders. Shaaban calls the establishment of this base as “strategic, for the US to prevent regional cooperation, at the Iraq, Jordan, and Syria crossroads.” Washington knows full well what it is doing: unhampered trade and transportation at the Syria-Iraq border is a major lifeline for the Syrian economy. Reminding everyone once again that “all political issues are connected to Palestine,” Shaaban also offered a healthy dose of gloomy realism: “The eastern bloc has not been able to match the western narrative.” Cagri Erhan, rector of Altinbas University in Turkey, offered a quite handy definition of a Hegemon: the one who controls the lingua franca, the currency, the legal setting, and the trade routes.

Erhan qualifies the current western hegemonic state of play as “double-layered proxy war” against, of course, Russia and China. The Russians have been defined by the US as an “open enemy” – a major threat. And when it comes to West Asia, proxy war still rules: “So the US is not retreating,” says Erhan. Washington will always consider using the area “strategically against emerging powers.” Then what about the foreign policy priorities of key West Asian and North African actors? Algerian political journalist Akram Kharief, editor of the online MenaDefense, insists Russia should get closer to Algeria, “which is still in the French sphere of influence,” and be wary of how the Americans are trying to portray Moscow as “a new imperial threat to Africa.”

Professor Hasan Unal of Maltepe University in Turkiye made it quite clear how Ankara finally “got rid of its Middle East [West Asian] entanglements,” when it was previously “turning against everybody.” Mid-sized powers such as Turkiye, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are now stepping to the forefront of the region’s political stage. Unal notes how “Turkiye and the US don’t see eye to eye on any issue important to Ankara.” Which certainly explains the strengthening of Turkish-Russian ties – and their mutual interest in introducing “multi-faceted solutions” to the region’s problems. For one, Russia is actively mediating Turkiye-Syria rapprochement. Unal confirmed that the Syrian and Turkish foreign ministers will soon meet in person – in Moscow – which will represent the highest-ranking direct engagement between the two nations since the onset of the Syrian war. And that will pave the way for a tripartite summit between Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Read more …

So you have Turkey, Syria and Russia getting closer, while US troops remain in Syria to steal their oil. How much longer can that last?

Top US General Reaffirms Occupation Of Syria During Visit (Cradle)

Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited US forces occupying northeastern Syria on Saturday, 4 March, allegedly to assess efforts to prevent a resurgence of ISIS and to review safeguards for US forces against attacks, including from drones flown by Iran-backed militias, Reuters has reported. Some 1,000 American troops continue to support allied Arab and Kurdish militias from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the region. Milley, whose term as chairman of the joint chiefs ends in September, met with the commander of the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS, Army Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane, and reviewed security measures from an undisclosed base in Syria’s northeast.


According to Al-Monitor, Milley’s visit to Syria signals the Biden administration’s seriousness about keeping troops in the country in support of the SDF. “We’re committed to maintaining our force presence in support of the enduring defeat of ISIS,” the Pentagon’s top Middle East policy official, Dana Stroul, told reporters last week. “This is a mission that has the full support of the Secretary of Defense,” Stroul said. Syria analyst Jennifer Cafarella of the Institute for the Study of War noted the importance of continuing the US military occupation in northeastern Syria. She observed in 2017 that “Whether Washington chooses to admit it or not, the US now has direct influence over the vast majority of Syria’s most productive oil fields,” and that the territorial gains of the SDF “are Syrian national treasures that when added up amount to brute geopolitical power for the US.”

Read more …

ISIS is no longer a credible threat, so ” the official rationale for the occupation changed once ISIS was largely defeated..”

US Army Resumes Theft Of Syrian Oil Weeks After Deadly Quake (Cradle)

The US occupation army renewed its oil smuggling campaign in northeast Syria three weeks after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake ravaged the war-torn country.According to eyewitness reports from the countryside of Al-Yarubiyah in Hasakah governorate, on 27 February, US troops transported at least 34 tankers filled with stolen Syrian oil through the illegal Al-Mahmoudiya border crossing to their bases in Iraq. The oil was plundered from Syria’s northeast Jazira region, the country’s primary energy and grain-producing region. Washington maintains approximately 900 troops in Syria, primarily split between the Al-Tanf base and the country’s northeastern region. Their occupation is illegal under international law as it was carried out without government approval.

Though US troops – accompanied by fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – initially occupied large swathes of Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIS, the official rationale for the occupation changed once ISIS was largely defeated. In infamous comments made in 2019, former US President Donald Trump said: “We’re keeping [Syria’s] oil. We have the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil.” The same year, the current US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for West Asia, Dana Stroul, noted during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that “one-third of Syrian territory was owned by the US military, with its local partner the SDF.”


The White House official made it a point to highlight that the territory Washington controls is the “economic powerhouse of Syria, so where the hydrocarbons are … as well as the agricultural powerhouse.” According to an investigation by The Cradle, dozens of tankers pass through illegal crossings between Iraq and Syria every week in convoys accompanied by US warplanes or helicopters. Shepherds in the region corroborate these claims, saying that the Syrian oil is transported to the Al-Harir military site in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), a region known as a “hub” for western and Israeli spy agencies.

Read more …

“All of the control systems previously assembled under the guise of the Dept of Homeland Security now become part of the online, digital national security apparatus..”

People Behind Biden Announce Creation of Formal National Surveillance State (CTH)

On March 2, 2023, the people in control of the Joe Biden administration officially announced that government control of internet content was now officially a part of the national security apparatus. If you have followed the history of how the Fourth Branch of Government has been created, you will immediately recognize the intent of this new framework. The “National Cybersecurity Strategy” aligns with, supports, and works in concert with a total U.S. surveillance system, where definitions of information are then applied to “cybersecurity” and communication vectors. This policy is both a surveillance system and an information filtration prism where the government will decide what is information, disinformation, misinformation and malinformation, then act upon it.

In part, this appears to be a response to the revelations around government influence of social media, the Twitter Files. Now we see the formalization of the intent. The government will be the arbiter of truth and cyber security, not the communication platforms or private companies. This announcement puts the government in control. All of the control systems previously assembled under the guise of the Dept of Homeland Security now become part of the online, digital national security apparatus. I simply cannot emphasis enough how dangerous this is, and the unspoken motive behind it; however, to the latter, you are part of a small select group who are capable of understanding what is in this announcement without me spelling it out.


Remember, we have already lost the judicial branch to the interests of the national security state. All judicial determinations are now in deference to what is called broadly “national security,” and the only arbiter of what qualifies to be labeled as a national security interest is the same institutional system who hides the corruption and surveillance behind the label they apply. We cannot fight our way through the complexity of what is being assembled, until the American People approach the big questions from the same baseline of understanding. What is the root cause that created the system? From there, this announcement takes on a more clarifying context – where we realize this is the formalization of the previously hidden process.

Read more …

How can you NOT question him under oath?

Fauci Prompted Scientific Paper In Feb. 2020 To Disprove Lab Leak Theory (NYP)

New emails uncovered by House Republicans probing the COVID-19 pandemic reveal the deceptive nature of Dr. Anthony Fauci. They show he “prompted” or commissioned — and had final approval on — a scientific paper written specifically in February 2020 to disprove the theory that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. Eight weeks later, Fauci stood at a White House press conference alongside President Trump and cited that paper as evidence that the lab leak theory was implausible while pretending it had nothing to do with him and he did not know the authors.

“There was a study recently,” he told reporters on April 17, 2020, when asked if the virus could have come from a Chinese lab, “where a group of highly qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences… in bats as they evolve and the mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human. “So, the paper will be available. I don’t have the authors right now, but we can make it available to you.” That paper, entitled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” was sent to Fauci for editing in draft form and again for final approval before it was published in Nature Medicine on Feb. 17, 2020.


It was written four days after Fauci, and his NIH boss Francis Collins, held a call with the four authors to discuss reports that COVID-19 may have leaked from the Wuhan lab and “may have been intentionally genetically manipulated”. The House Oversight subcommittee published emails Sunday in which the paper’s co-author Dr. Kristian Andersen admits Fauci “prompted” him to write the paper with the goal of “disprove” the lab leak theory. On February 12, 2020, Andersen submitted the paper to Nature Medicine with a cover email: “There has been a lot of speculation, fear-mongering, and conspiracies put forward in this space. [This paper was] Prompted by Jeremy Farrah [sic], Tony Fauci, and Francis Collins”. Farrar, then head of British nonprofit, the Wellcome Trust, which has historic ties to the pharmaceutical industry and the Gates Foundation, was rewarded with the plum role of Chief Scientist at the WHO last December.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Chris Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brussels
https://twitter.com/i/status/1632310744262885377

 

 

Leopard

 

 

Bridges

 

 

Whale shark

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 062023
 


Dorothea Lange One nation indivisible. San Francisco 1942

 

Putin Calls for Ceasefire, Ukraine Rejects, Biden Pushes for More War (Celente)
White House Rejects Putin’s Christmas Truce As But A “Cynical Ploy” (ZH)
Ukraine Warns Germany Of ‘Russians Outside Berlin’ (RT)
US Won’t Fulfill Ukrainian Request – WaPo (RT)
2022: The World As We Knew It Ended. Decades Of Conflict Lie Ahead (Timofeev)
Russian “New Mobilization Process” For Major Offensive Imminent? (ZH)
Arrest Of Russian Outlet’s Journalist Is Blow To Press Freedom – Moscow (RT)
The Coup We Never Knew (Hanson)
The Ginni Thomas Investigation Ends Without a Mention in J6 Report (Turley)
Trump Announces Plan To Destroy The Drug Cartels With The US Military (PM)
Sotomayor Felt “Sense of Despair” Because Babies Would be Protected (LN)
These Doctors Pushed Masking, Lockdowns on Twitter. But They Don’t Exist (SFS)
Swiss Organization To Provide Safe Blood Transfusions From Unvaxxed (NN)
What Caused Damar Hamlin’s Cardiac Arrest? Experts Weigh In (CHD)

 

 

 

 

Have the vaccines saved lives?

 

 

 

 

 

 

EV

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..the West wants to destroy Russia, so it provided Ukraine with more weapons than it could ever imagine and Zelensky’s goals grew..”

Putin Calls for Ceasefire, Ukraine Rejects, Biden Pushes for More War (Celente)

Ukraine rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for a unilateral, 36-hour ceasefire to mark the celebration of Orthodox Christmas, calling Putin “hypocritical” for even suggesting laying down arms, albeit briefly. Mikhailo Podolyak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top adviser, took to Twitter and said Russian troops must withdraw from all occupied territories, and only then will they have a “temporary truce.” “Keep hypocrisy to yourself,” he concluded. Reuters reported that the Kremlin released the statement from Putin calling for the truce after a conversation with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“Proceeding from the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the areas of hostilities, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and allow them to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on Christmas Day,” Putin said, according to the report. Needless to say, Washington continued to promote war. President Joe Biden said the ceasefire was an effort by Putin to find breathing room. “He was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches” on 25 December and on New Year’s Day. I think he’s trying to find some oxygen,” he said. Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, said if Putin was sincere with his peace goals, he would withdraw troops. “A so-called ceasefire brings neither freedom nor security to people living in daily fear under Russian occupation,” Baerbock tweeted, according to Al Jazeera.

Ukraine’s position has been clear since the outbreak of war: all Russian troops must leave the country before any negotiated settlement can occur. But the West wants to destroy Russia, so it provided Ukraine with more weapons than it could ever imagine and Zelensky’s goals grew. Kyiv now wants Crimea and said it will not negotiate until Russian leaders face war-crime trials, which will never happen. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, spoke with Putin on the phone Thursday and called for the ceasefire. He said “calls for peace and negotiations should be supported by a unilateral ceasefire and a vision for a fair solution.” Putin, again, indicated that he is willing to negotiate for peace, but he will not part with any new territory.

Zelensky, meanwhile, warned that he expects a major Russian offensive after Putin mobilized hundreds of thousands of troops. “We have no doubt that the current masters of Russia will throw everything they have left and everyone they can muster to try to turn the tide of the war and at least postpone their defeat,” Zelensky said. “We have to disrupt this Russian scenario. We are preparing for this. The terrorists must lose.”

Read more …

NATO wants to keep up the fight.

White House Rejects Putin’s Christmas Truce As But A “Cynical Ploy” (ZH)

Update(1553ET): The White House has rejected Putin’s call for a Christmas truce in Ukraine. The Russian leader earlier in the day ordered a unilateral 36-hour ceasefire for his forces starting Friday, which will still apparently be in effect despite Ukraine rejecting it. Presumably Russian forces have been told to cease firing along the line of contact starting on Orthodox Christmas Eve day (Friday), unless they are fired upon from the Ukrainian side. The Biden administration cast it as a “cynical ploy” in order for Russian forces to regroup. Biden himself said the ceasefire proposal isn’t “serious” – as The Hill cites of the president’s words: President Biden said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for a temporary, Christmas ceasefire is an effort to “find some oxygen,” dismissing that the Kremlin is serious about finding an off ramp for its assault against Ukraine.

The president said he was “reluctant to respond to anything Putin says,” but characterized the Kremlin as cynically attacking civilians over the December holidays. “He was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and church’s on the 25th and New Years — I mean, I think he’s trying to find some oxygen,” Biden added. At the State Department, spokesman Ned Price called Putin’s Christmas truce declaration a “cynical ploy… to rest, to refit, to regroup, and ultimately to re-attack, to re-attack with potentially even more vengeance, even more brutality, even more lethality, if they had their way.”

The majority of the populations in both countries are adherents of the Orthodox Church, with Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians traditionally celebrating Christmas on Jan. 7th. Germany was earlier in the day among the first Western countries to reject Putin’s announcement as inauthentic. And yet, ironically enough, calls have rang out from the West for months since the start of the conflict for Russian troops to cease fighting. One would think that any pause in fighting, however temporary, would be welcomed by the West – but alas not.

Update (1109ET): Within a mere hour after President Putin declared there would be a 36-hour ceasefire for all Russian forces along the line of contact in observation of Orthodox Christmas, Zelensky’s office has issued a firm rejection, calling it “hypocrisy” and demanding that all Russian troops must leave occupied territory immediately. Zelensky advisor Mykhailo Podolyak announced on Twitter, that Russian forces… must leave the occupied territories – only then will it have a “temporary truce”. Keep hypocrisy to yourself. He had earlier responded to Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill by calling the proposed Christmas ceasefire “a trap”. Ukrainian officials are also calling this a ploy for Russian forces to regroup and to take the momentum out of the Ukrainian army counteroffensive, which has been making some gains of late.

Update (1015ET): Shortly after Erdogan spoke with Putin this morning, the Russian leader has ordered a temporary cease-fire in Ukraine Friday and Saturday to mark Orthodox Christmas. The statement from the Kremlin cites earlier appeal from Patriarch Kirill for ceasefire over the holiday. Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill had previously said in a statement posted to the church’s official website: “I, Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and of all Rus, appeal to all parties involved in the internecine conflict with a call to cease fire and establish a Christmas truce from 12:00 on January 6 to 00:00 on January 7 so that Orthodox people can attend services on Christmas Eve and on the day of the Nativity of Christ.” [..] Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7th, and is a major holiday just as in the West during December (the Orthodox Church’s Julian calendar December 25 falls on January 7 on the West’s Gregorian calendar).

Bloomberg has meanwhile hinted at a negative response from Ukrainian leaders, given their initial reaction to Patriarch Kirill’s Christmas truce call: Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to cease fighting in Ukraine for 36 hours starting Friday at noon, Moscow time, in what appeared to be a rare sign of conciliation in an invasion that’s heading for its second year. The Kremlin said Putin gave the order Thursday for Russian Orthodox Christmas. It follows an appeal by the patriarch of that church, which has close ties to the Kremlin. Ukrainian officials denounced that as a trap. Kyiv has demanded Russia remove its troops from Ukraine as a condition for any ceasefire.

Read more …

Almost funny.

Ukraine Warns Germany Of ‘Russians Outside Berlin’ (RT)

Should Germany fail to provide Ukraine with tanks, it will soon have to use them to defend its own capital from advancing Russian troops, Alexey Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, warned on Wednesday. Speaking to Ukrainian TV, Danilov took a swipe at Germany’s leadership, particularly at Chancellor Olaf Scholz, criticizing him for refusing to send Kiev modern Leopard 2 battle tanks. If Scholz “wants the Germans to deploy German tanks to fight off the Russians outside of Berlin and Stuttgart, he could continue this game, conducting sociological surveys on whether they need to give us tanks or not,” he said. The official also highlighted the significance of the Ukraine conflict for Europe, adding that it poses “huge challenges” to the region.

“Those countries that understand that help us at 150% capacity. Those countries that are slowly wising up about the need to tackle this issue, they also started to act,” Danilov stated. While Berlin has been providing Kiev with large amounts of weaponry, it has been reluctant to supply it with modern Leopard 2 battle tanks. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had earlier explained that because no other country had made equivalent weaponry available to Ukraine, Berlin should not be the first one to do so. A December YouGov poll also showed that 45% of Germans do not want to send Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev, with another 33% saying they were in favor of such a step. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly voiced discontent over Germany’s stance on the matter, with Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba saying last month that Kiev does not understand why Germany is sending artillery but not heavy armor.

On Monday, Michael Mueller, who sits on the Bundestag’s Foreign Policy Committee, told the German media that Berlin would continue to refrain from any “ill-considered unilateral moves,” especially in the context of arms shipments. Such deliveries are possible only “in coordination with our NATO partners,” he said, adding that the US-led military bloc wants to avoid becoming a direct party to the Ukraine conflict. Moscow has long warned Kiev backers against sending weapons to Ukraine, arguing that it would only prolong the hostilities. President Vladimir Putin also accused the West of turning Ukraine into “a colony,” and using its people as “cannon fodder, a battering ram against Russia.”

Read more …

M1 Abrams main battle tank is scrap metal: “..tanks’ heavy fuel consumption and propensity to break down make them unsuitable for the Ukrainian military.”

US Won’t Fulfill Ukrainian Request – WaPo (RT)

The US will not send M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing officials. Despite repeated requests from the Ukrainian government, no NATO power has donated Western-designed battle tanks thus far. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said that the Abrams tanks’ heavy fuel consumption and propensity to break down make them unsuitable for the Ukrainian military. One of the heaviest main battle tanks in service worldwide, the M1 Abrams weighs in at 60 tons, with the latest M1A2 variant increasing this heft to more than 73 tons. An M1 Abrams tank costs more than $450 per mile in fuel and repairs, according to a 1991 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report adjusted for inflation.

The Abrams’ poor reliability was noted by the GAO. After a decade in service with the US military, the report stated that the average M1 Abrams needs its track replaced after as little as 710 miles, with engines typically suffering catastrophic “blowouts” after 350 hours of operation. However, the US Army insists that the latest M1A2 variant, which rolled off production lines in 2020, “is the most reliable Abrams tank ever produced.” Ukraine has repeatedly requested delivery of the American-made behemoths, portraying them as crucial to its war effort. Mikhail Podoliak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, put them on his “Christmas wishlist” in a social media post last month, while Zelensky has himself repeatedly asked the US and its allies for tanks since March.

Zelensky and his officials have singled out Germany in particular, asking Berlin for Marder infantry fighting vehicles and Leopard main battle tanks on multiple occasions. Germany has thus far rebuffed these requests, with lawmaker and Bundestag Foreign Policy Committee member Michael Mueller telling reporters this week that sending the tanks could trigger “an escalation that none of us want to imagine.” France on Wednesday became the first NATO member to announce the transfer of Western-made “light tanks” to Ukraine, although the vehicles in question – six-wheeled AMX-10 units – are outdated, and technically closer to armored fighting vehicles than tanks such as the Abrams or Leopard.

The French AMX-10s are similar in weight to the US-made Bradley Fighting Vehicle, with both coming in at less than 30 tons. US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the transfer of an unspecified number of Bradleys is currently being discussed in the White House. Russia has repeatedly warned the West against arming Kiev, saying that doing so will only serve to prolong the conflict, and risks making Western nations de-facto participants.

Read more …

“..It remains to be seen if the next cycle will not be the last for mankind..”

2022: The World As We Knew It Ended. Decades Of Conflict Lie Ahead (Timofeev)

In 2022, the remnants of the ‘end of history’ era finally became a thing of the past. However, there has not been a return to the Cold War either. Russian policy is mainly concerned about security interests. It is not derived from ideology, although it does include components of the identity of ‘the Russian world’, as well as historical motives for opposing Nazism. Russia does not offer a global ideological alternative comparable to liberalism – nor has China yet taken such initiatives. The end of the ‘end of history’ is notable for several other details. Firstly, a major power has risked giving up the benefits of the ‘global world’ overnight. Historians will argue about whether Moscow anticipated such harsh sanctions and the departure of hundreds of foreign companies so quickly. However, it is clear that Russia is vigorously adapting to the new realities and is in no hurry to return to US-centric globalization.

Secondly, Western countries have embarked on a very tough ‘purge’ of Russian assets abroad. Overnight, their jurisdictions ceased to be ‘safe havens’ where the ‘rule of law’ is followed. Now it is politics that calls the shots and Russia is the only harbor to which its citizens can return to relative peace. Stereotypes about the ‘stability and security’ of the West are breaking down. Of course, they are unlikely to begin a similar purge of other assets there. But looking at the Russians, outside investors are wondering whether they should hedge their risks. Thirdly, it turned out that in the West, they might face not only asset stripping, but outright discrimination on the grounds of nationality. Thousands of Russians ‘fleeing’ the ‘bloody regime’ have suddenly faced rejection and contempt. Others trying to prove that they are even bigger ‘Russophobes’ than their host partners are running ahead of the anti-Russian propaganda train. However, this does not guarantee that the stubborn dogmatists will embrace them.

The conflict between Russia and the West is likely to drag on for decades, regardless of how the conflict in Ukraine ends. In Europe, Russia will play the role of North Korea, while possessing much greater capabilities. Whether Ukraine has the strength, the will, and resources to become a European South Korea is a big question. Conflict between Russia and the West will lead to a strengthening of China’s role as an alternative financial center and source of modernization. A stronger China will only accelerate its rivalry with the US and its allies. The ‘end of history’ has ended with a return to its usual course. One of these is the collapse of the world order as a result of large-scale conflicts between centers of power. It remains to be seen if the next cycle will not be the last for mankind, given the risks of an open military clash between the great powers with a subsequent escalation into full-scale nuclear conflict.

Read more …

Ukraine makes up stories and the west duly repeats them.

Russian “New Mobilization Process” For Major Offensive Imminent? (ZH)

Ukraine says it’s bracing for a major new Russian offensive, which will involve a large influx of new ground forces at a time Russian forces are under pressure and reportedly lacking enough manpower to maintain front lines, but did not give a timeline for the expected push. In fresh statements widely circulated Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia is planning a major “new offensive” which will involve a planned “new mobilization processes.” He suggested the new mobilization is imminent given recent Russian battlefield losses in the east, which includes the devastating strike on a barracks in the city of Makiivka, resulting an a huge Russian troop death toll.

“We have no doubt that the current masters of Russia will throw everything they have left and everyone they can muster to try to turn the tide of the war and at least postpone their defeat,” Zelensky said. “We have to disrupt this Russian scenario. We are preparing for this. The terrorists must lose.” Kiev had begun issuing these warnings of a major escalation by Moscow shortly after last month Putin referred to the Ukraine special operation as a “war” for the first time. As the The Hill also details: Some Ukrainian officials also warned last month about a potential new Russian offensive in January or February, including Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, a top commander in the Ukrainian army who told The Economist that Russia is preparing some 200,000 troops and could have another go at Kyiv.

Previously, Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov also issued a New Year message, and in it appealed to the Russian people, warning that Putin his about to declare martial law and close borders to men, in preparation for a new wave of mobilization. Reznikov called for Russians to resist these efforts and stand for peace in the video address… Within Russia, public opinion appears increasingly divided on how military and Kremlin leadership is executing the war, particularly in the wake of the Makiivka barracks attack, which left up to hundreds of Russian conscripts killed. Hawks within Russia in the meantime have continued pushing for a more muscular escalation in order to achieve the military objectives laid out since the start of the invasion. Others are calling for both sides to implement a Christmas truce this weekend in observation of Orthodox Christmas (Jan.7 according to the Julian calendar).

Read more …

“Just last month, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia protested French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to offer Russia security guarantees..”

Arrest Of Russian Outlet’s Journalist Is Blow To Press Freedom – Moscow (RT)

The arrest of Sputnik Lithuania’s editor-in-chief is a violation of international norms of freedom of speech and the rights of journalists, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. She called on international organizations to react appropriately to Latvia’s “overreach” in arresting Marat Kasem. “Riga has once again demonstrated that for it such values of a democratic society as media pluralism and the rights of journalists are nothing more than empty phrases,” Zakharova said in a statement. Earlier, the spokeswoman shared a video on her Telegram channel of Kasem speaking about the problems he was facing, noting that he had complained for years about pressure and mistreatment at the hands of governments in the Baltic states.

All the international organizations concerned with freedom of speech, who spent years ignoring Kasem’s safety concerns, should “finally justify their existence” and intervene, Zakharova argued. “It is not just a duty, but an obligation of the international community to do everything so these overreaching regimes would return to following the law,” she said. Kasem is a Latvian citizen, but has lived and worked in Moscow for the past several years. He returned to Latvia on family business just before New Year’s Eve. On Thursday, the authorities in Riga ordered his arrest and charged him with espionage and violating EU sanctions against Russia. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years behind bars. His lawyer has not yet been given the case files, and her request to release Kasem on bail has been denied. He is currently being held in Riga’s Central jail.

Moscow has complained about the ongoing persecution of several journalists in Baltic states back in 2021, prior to the conflict in Ukraine escalating. Kasem had been detained in Vilnius and deported from Lithuania as a “threat to national security” in 2019. His colleague Valentin Rozentsov, editor-in-chief of Sputnik Latvia, was detained and interrogated in Riga in 2018. The former Soviet republics have adopted a hardline stance on the conflict in Ukraine. Just last month, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia protested French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to offer Russia security guarantees, and demanded no exemptions on the ban on Russian fertilizer exports, despite EU concerns about potential famine in Africa.

Read more …

Lots of things changed and somehow became normal.

The Coup We Never Knew (Hanson)

Did someone or something seize control of the United States? What happened to the U.S. border? Where did it go? Who erased it? Why and how did 5 million people enter our country illegally? Did Congress secretly repeal our immigration laws? Did Joe Biden issue an executive order allowing foreign nationals to walk across the border and reside in the United States as they pleased? Since when did money not have to be paid back? Who insisted that the more dollars the federal government printed, the more prosperity would follow? When did America embrace zero interest? Why do we believe $30 trillion in debt is no big deal? When did clean-burning, cheap, and abundant natural gas become the equivalent to dirty coal?

How did prized natural gas that had granted America’s wishes of energy self-sufficiency, reduced pollution, and inexpensive electricity become almost overnight a pariah fuel whose extraction was a war against nature? Which lawmakers, which laws, which votes of the people declared natural gas development and pipelines near criminal? Was it not against federal law to swarm the homes of Supreme Court justices, to picket and to intimidate their households in efforts to affect their rulings? How then with impunity did bullies surround the homes of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, John Roberts, and Clarence Thomas—furious over a court decision on abortion? How could these mobs so easily throng our justices’ homes, with placards declaring “Off with their d—s”?

Since when did Americans create a government Ministry of Truth? And on whose orders did the FBI contract private news organizations to censor stories it did not like and writers whom it feared? How did we wake up one morning to new customs of impeaching a president over a phone call? Of the speaker of the House tearing up the State of the Union address on national television? Of barring congressional members from serving on their assigned congressional committees? When did we assume the FBI had the right to subvert the campaign of a candidate it disliked? Was it legal suddenly for one presidential candidate to hire a foreign ex-spy to subvert the campaign of her rival?

Was some state or federal law passed that allowed biological males to compete in female sports? Did Congress enact such a law? Did the Supreme Court guarantee that biological male students could shower in gym locker rooms with biological women? Were women ever asked to redefine the very sports they had championed? When did the government pass a law depriving Americans of their freedom during a pandemic? In America can health officials simply cancel rental contracts or declare loan payments in suspension? How could it become illegal for mom-and-pop stores to sell flowers or shoes during a quarantine but not so for Walmart or Target?

Read more …

The emptiness expands.

The Ginni Thomas Investigation Ends Without a Mention in J6 Report (Turley)

The Jan. 6 committee issued its long-awaited report at 2022’s end, with the expected breathless punditry. Spoiler alert: It turns out the culprit of this “whodunit” was … wait for it … Donald Trump. What’s more interesting is the dog that did not bark. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “Silver Blaze,” the local inspector asks Sherlock Holmes, “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” Holmes responds, “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” When the inspector objects, “The dog did nothing in the night-time,” Holmes replies, “That was the curious incident.” In the 895-page report, the “curious incident” is the lack of any reference to Ginni Thomas, Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife.

For months, members, the media and an army of pundits hammered away at the “smoking gun” texts Thomas sent to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and others calling the election stolen and demanding challenges to certifying the electoral votes. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was the first member of Congress to call for Justice Thomas to be impeached over his wife’s 29 messages. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) called for Thomas to resign immediately as a “corrupt jurist.” Former Sen. Barbara Boxer and others joined these calls. (Boxer was particularly ironic since she used the same underlying federal law to challenge the certification of George W. Bush’s election.) Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) demanded an investigation. On the committee itself, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) fueled the frenzy and demanded subpoenas for both Thomases.

The media also went into hyperbolic overload. Liberal sites demanded Thomas be impeached, citing “watchdogs” who turned out to be the same crowd that has long denounced the justice. MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan tweeted, “I have a question for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats: Why haven’t you impeached Clarence Thomas yet?” CNN and MSNBC commentator Tristan Snell tweeted that the couple had to be subpoenaed: “At best, they are material fact witnesses. At worst, they are co-conspirators to be charged with seditious conspiracy.” Professor Laurence Tribe (who declared Trump should be charged with attempted murder) also demanded the justice and his wife be subpoenaed. MSNBC’s Zeeshan Aleem declared in June that the scandal “keeps getting worse” but “the silver lining is that it will likely intensify calls for overhauling the high court, and help strip more people of the illusion that the Supreme Court is an apolitical branch of government and a neutral arbiter of the law.”

Activists like Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Take Back the Court Action Fund executive director, declared that “there’s much more to the story of Ginni Thomas’ participation in the January 6 attack that the House Select Committee and the American public deserve to know.” Yet it turns out what we knew was largely all we needed to know. There was not “much more to the story.” The entire Ginni Thomas scandal merited nary a mention in the massive report. Indeed, it doesn’t appear the committee had anything more than what we knew when the controversy began. The texts were never denied, and they weren’t surprising since Ginni Thomas was publicly supporting Trump and his claims. She was willing, moreover, to answer the committee’s questions voluntarily.

Read more …

Something’s not going right.

Trump Announces Plan To Destroy The Drug Cartels With The US Military (PM)

Former President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he would order the US military to declare cartels as enemy combatants if he were to be reelected president. Trump said that he would deploy the Navy and Special Forces to defend the security of the Western hemisphere. Trump made the announcement as President Joe Biden prepares to make his first trip to the southern border, after having previously said that there were “more important” things to deal with. “The drug cartels are waging war on America—and it’s now time for America to wage war on the cartels,” President Trump said in his announcement. “The drug cartels and their allies in the Biden administration have the blood of countless millions on their hands. Millions and millions of families and people are being destroyed. When I am back in the White House, the drug kingpins and vicious traffickers will never sleep soundly again.”

A statement from Trump lays out an action plan that he says will “destroy the drug cartels,” which includes steps such as:
• “Restore all Trump border policies and fully secure the border”
• “Deploy all necessary military assets, including the US Navy, to impose a full naval embargo on the cartels, to ensure they cannot use our region’s waters to traffic illicit drugs to the US”
• “Order the Department of Defense to make appropriate use of special forces, cyber warfare, and other covert and overt actions to inflict maximum damage on cartel leadership, infrastructure, and operations”
• “Designate the major drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations”
• “Cut off the cartels’ access to the global financial system”
• “Get full cooperation of neighboring governments to dismantle the cartels, or else fully expose the bribes and corruption that protect these criminal networks”
• “Ask Congress to ensure drug smugglers and traffickers can receive the Death Penalty”

“Joe Biden has spent the last two years dismantling the southern border,” the statement says. “Biden’s Open Borders policies are killing innocent Americans, ravaging American communities, enriching the cartels, and destabilizing large parts of Mexico and Latin America.” Trump’s statement points out that since Biden took office, 200,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses, with hundreds of thousands of pounds of fentanyl, heroin, meth, cocaine, and other illicit narcotics “pouring across our wide-open border and into American communities.” Enough fentanyl was seized at the border last year to kill every single American. “BOTTOM LINE,” Trump’s statement ends, “Biden has destroyed the border—President Trump will destroy the cartels.”

Read more …

From Abortion

Sotomayor Felt “Sense of Despair” Because Babies Would be Protected (LN)

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed a “sense of despair” and sadness Wednesday about recent decisions by the conservative-majority court, including the Dobbs v. Jackson abortion case. Sotomayor and two other justices dissented in the historic June ruling, which overturned Roe v. Wade and began allowing laws to protect unborn babies from abortion again. Research estimates at least 10,000 unborn babies were saved from abortions just in the first two months. Speaking at the Association of American Law Schools’ annual meeting in San Diego, Sotomayor said she feels “deeply sad” about the new direction of the court, according to Reuters. “I did have a sense of despair about the direction my court was going,” the Obama appointee said.

Although she did not mention the Dobbs case specifically, Sotomayor talked about feeling “shell-shocked” and “deeply sad” about recent rulings, adding: “It’s not an option to fall into despair. I have to get up and keep fighting,” Reuters reports. Sotomayor would have upheld Roe and continued to force states to legalize killing unborn babies for any reason up to viability, but she was overruled. Some of her arguments against Dobbs were based on false and misleading claims by the pro-abortion movement and have been debunked by researchers and doctors. The Dobbs decision may have been the most monumental ruling by the Supreme Court in decades. For nearly 50 years under Roe, American abortion laws were among the most extreme and permissive in the world.

Just a few other countries, including China and North Korea, allow elective abortions up to birth, as Roe did. As a result, more than 63 million unborn babies were legally aborted in the U.S. Now, because of Dobbs, state and local lawmakers may pass legislation to protect unborn babies again. Already 14 states are enforcing laws that limit or ban abortions and eight more are fighting in court to do the same. In November, voters also elected more pro-life lawmakers to their state legislatures in several states, paving the way for even more protections. Despite her pro-abortion leanings, Sotomayor recently did defend her conservative colleague Justice Clarence Thomas from unfounded leftist attacks, saying she knows he “cares about people.” Thomas joined the majority in Dobbs.

Read more …

Whatever.

These Doctors Pushed Masking, Lockdowns on Twitter. But They Don’t Exist (SFS)

Last month, Dr. Robert Honeyman lost their sister to Covid. They wrote about it on Twitter and received dozens of condolences, over 4,000 retweets and 43,000 likes. Exactly one month later, on Dec. 12, Honeyman wrote that another tragedy had befallen their family. “Sad to announce that my husband has entered a coma after being in hospital with Covid. The doctor is unsure if he will come out,” they tweeted. “This year has been the toughest of my life losing my sister to this virus. This is the first time in my life I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel.” Again, the condolences and well-wishes rolled in. But there was a problem: Honeyman wasn’t real.

The transgender “Doctor of Sociology and Feminist studies” with a “keen interest in poetry” who used they/them pronouns was, in fact, a stock photo described on DepositPhotos, a royalty-free image site, as “Smiling happy, handsome latino man outside—headshot portrait.” Their supposedly comatose husband, Dr. Patrick C. Honeyman, was also fake. His Twitter photo had been stolen from an insurance professional in Wayne, Indiana. The two fake doctors, whose accounts urged extreme caution about Covid-19, were part of a network of at least four fake accounts that touted their ties to the LGBTQ+ community, vocally advocated for mask-wearing and social distancing, and dished out criticism to those they felt were not taking the pandemic seriously.

The Honeymans could not be reached for comment, as they do not exist. At publication time, Robert Honeyman’s account was no longer active. The fake doctors were uncovered by Joshua Gutterman Tranen, a self-described “gay writer” pursuing a master’s of fine arts at Bennington College. He saw Robert Honeyman’s tweet about their husband being in a coma, noticed people he followed also followed them, and thought that they might be part of the LGBTQ+ academic community. But after 10 minutes of googling, Gutterman Tranen concluded that Robert Honeyman’s photo was a stock image and their biography stretched boundaries of believability: an academic who left no traces on academic websites and had lost two family members to Covid in late 2022, despite masking and distancing.

The character looked like “liberal Mad Libs,” Gutterman Tranen said. “I’m a self-identified leftist, and I understand that people have a lot of different identities, but it felt concocted in the lab about how many identities and horrible experiences can we put on one person,” he said.

Read more …

“..Della Pietra has contacted hundreds of clinics all over Europe, all of which still don’t allow people “the human right of free blood choice.”

Swiss Organization To Provide Safe Blood Transfusions From Unvaxxed (NN)

An organization in Switzerland called Safe Blood Donation has been set up to provide people all over the world with safe blood transfusions exclusively from people who remain unvaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). The organization was founded in late 2022 by Swiss naturopath George Della Pietra. According to the group’s website, the group’s goal is to provide people all over the world with a way to receive life-saving blood transfusions while refusing to take the vaccines developed against COVID-19. “Be it an emergency, a scheduled operation or because you need regular transfusions for other medical reasons. This is where Safe Blood Donation comes into play as an intermediary,” reads a statement on the organization’s website.

The group will essentially act as a middleman to connect people all over the world with medical partners who are willing to accept blood donations and provide blood transfusions to people with health needs, but are hesitant to go to hospitals where they will almost certainly receive blood from vaccinated individuals. Della Pietra created his organization due to the release of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines causing disputes all over the world over blood treatments and transfusions. Specifically, people who are skeptical of the benefits that come with taking the experimental vaccines and doesn’t want their body tainted by the unsafe products. [..] Della Pietra has contacted hundreds of clinics all over Europe, all of which still don’t allow people “the human right of free blood choice.”

Furthermore, dozens of clinics he contacted have all refused to become a partner of the new organization. Some of these clinics are sympathetic, but claimed they do not want to be mentioned for fear of reprisals from the mainstream medical community. The founder further noted that his main goal is not to run Safe Blood Donation as a blood bank, noting that “this is not possible at the moment” due to legal concerns, but to act as a quick referral service “to match blood donors and recipients” who are then sent to a medical partner’s clinic where the safe, unvaccinated blood transfusion will be handled. In return for providing people with this service, members are also urged to “make themselves available as blood donors” for other people looking for unvaccinated blood transfusions.

Read more …

“..in all cases there has been “airtight privacy” about whether they were vaccinated and what their diagnosis was..”

What Caused Damar Hamlin’s Cardiac Arrest? Experts Weigh In (CHD)

Damar Hamlin’s sudden collapse on live TV during Monday night’s NFL game triggered an avalanche of media coverage, with experts weighing in on what might have caused the 24-year-old player’s cardiac arrest after what appeared to be a routine tackle. Some news outlets quickly concluded Hamlin’s heart attack most likely was caused by commotio cordis, a rare phenomenon that occurs when a small and extremely fast-moving projectile — such as a baseball, hockey puck or lacrosse ball — strikes the chest in a precise location, disrupting the heart’s rhythm. The condition affects about 10-20 people per year, usually teenage boys. Most mainstream media reports rejected the theory that Hamlin’s cardiac arrest might be linked to COVID-19 vaccines, using terms such as “far-right,” “vile,” “anti-vaxxer” and “conspiracy theorists.”

However, Dr. Peter McCullough told “Good Morning CHD” host Aimee Villella McBride why he believes the vaccines can’t be ruled out. McCullough, an internist, cardiologist, epidemiologist and leading expert on COVID-19 treatment, explained the possible role of the vaccines in cardiac arrest and other heart injuries among athletes. He explained that any physician watching replays of Hamlin’s collapse immediately starts thinking through a differential diagnosis of what could have caused it. He said: “Let me tell you that I did see head and neck contact with a tackle, which is not uncommon at all in football. Remember that the shoulder pads have a breastbone protector, [a] pretty substantial breastbone [protector], so they take helmets in the chest all the time.”

McCullough acknowledged that when a baseball hits an unprotected breastbone, it can precipitate a cardiac arrest, but said he was not aware of that happening in pro football, leading him to rule out commotio cordis. “And as I watched things unfold it was relatively clear that [Hamlin] was in a primary cardiac arrest,” he said. McCullough believes there is a public health obligation to disclose what happened. He said: “This is a player who is employed by a team, and the team and the league mandated the vaccine very publicly. “So we have a situation where we have a public figure, the public employer mandates the vaccine in a very public manner, there is a disclosure that 95% of the players have taken the vaccine, and the FDA says the vaccine causes myocarditis and the published peer-reviewed literature says that it can be fatal.”

“This is not a time for privacy,” McCullough said. “The public needs to know that diagnosis because he was under one of these mandates and this happened on the national and world stage.” McCullough said numerous athletes have collapsed on the field and been resuscitated, but that in all cases there has been “airtight privacy” about whether they were vaccinated and what their diagnosis was. “I think the Hamlin case is going to break through all this,” he said.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Cut a tree

 

 

Chinese exercise
https://twitter.com/i/status/1610702098198413313

 

 

1842 farmer

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 032023
 
 January 3, 2023  Posted by at 10:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  75 Responses »


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Portrait of Vincent van Gogh 1887

 

Damar Hamlin Is Not Expected To Make A Full Recovery (Kirsch)
The American Public is Extremely Worried About the Vaccines (MWD)
DeSantis: We’re Suing Big Pharma for Killing Americans With COVID Shots (NP)
Did Pfizer Perform Safety Testing for mRNA Vaccine in Preclinical Studies? (SL)
Expect Three Things From Government to Cover Up Vaxx-Weakened Immunity (Rucker)
ICAN Obtains Disturbing Information About AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine (ICAN)
Israel to Declare Covid Pandemic Over, Downgrade It to Flu Status (YW)
Virgin Islands AG Loses Her Job Days After Suing JPMorgan Over Epstein (L&C)
German MP Warns Against ‘Unimaginable Escalation’ (RT)
Ex-NATO General Predicts Ukraine Ceasefire (RT)
Putin’s Approval Rating Ends 2022 At 81% (BNE)
Is Western Propaganda Failing? (Larry Johnson)
Questions and Answers (Kunstler)
Pentagon, FBI, DHS Failed On Jan. 6 – Former Capitol Police Chief (WaPo)
Turkey Supreme Court Bans Genetically Modified Grains Imports (S4S)

 

 

 

 

Ayyadurai – First Amendment

 

 

 

 

Bowden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I already saw a lot of articles about vaccine risks last night, before Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field on live TV. When you combine that collapse with the new Rasmussen poll out yesterday, that says “More Than 1-in-4 Think Someone They Know Died From COVID-19 Vaccines”, and “49% of American Adults believe it is likely that side effects of COVID-19 vaccines have caused a significant number of unexplained deaths..”, we may be looking at an awakening. A large part of that 49% now think they know what happened with Hamlin. Try cover that up.

“CPR was administered for 9 minutes. Normal is 3 to 5 minutes. After 10 minutes you’re basically dead.”

Damar Hamlin Is Not Expected To Make A Full Recovery (Kirsch)

Update 11:20pm: It was announced in the hospital parking lot that Hamlin is not expected to make a full recovery. Hamlin was vaccinated. The Buffalo Bills is a 100% vaccinated team. I also got a Twitter DM from someone who knows this for a fact who asked that I not disclose his identity. This is a shame since we know know, thanks to my readers, that there is no death benefit to the COVID vaccines. Update 7:39pm: This was called “unprecedented” on ESPN. Hamlin has been intubated and currently listed in critical condition. All the announcers said they’d never seen it in the NFL. This was a joint decision by both the NFL and the players to stop the game. This is unprecedented. One of my nurse friends wrote, “How often has a young healthy football player that didn’t take that hard of a hit had a heart attack or stroke.” CPR was administered for 9 minutes. Normal is 3 to 5 minutes. After 10 minutes you’re basically dead.

McCullough said that we will not know for 24 hours whether he will bounce back. He could make a full recovery. Dr. Peter McCullough just wrote me (7:54pm): “I watched the play live both as a fan and a cardiologist and I saw blunt neck and chest trauma, a brief recovery after the tackle and then a classic cardiac arrest. I have communicated to one of the most experienced trainers in the world and we agree that it was a cardiac arrest in the setting of a big surge of adrenalin. If Damar Hamlin indeed took one of the COVID-19 vaccines, then subclinical vaccine-induced myocarditis must be considered in the differential diagnosis. We have been told he was successfully defibrillated on the field and has been intubated and is not spontaneously breathing which is consistent with anoxic encephalopathy. The nation prays for his complete recovery.”

Peter got it right…. 3 hours after he said that, the Buffalo Bills confirmed he was correct: Note that McCullough originally speculated that the injury that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was due to commotio cordis (a phenomenon in which a sudden blunt impact to the chest causes sudden death in the absence of cardiac damage). The time delay from the hit until he collapsed is expected in commotio cordis. Peter believes that the ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation could have been set up by the vaccine if he took it. Hamlin was shocked back to rhythm. He now has anoxic encephalopathy. He’s in critical condition at the hospital. If you think the vaccines are safe, this article is very troubling. Therefore, it is viewed as “inappropriate.” If you think the vaccines are not safe, this article is confirming and people have no objection.

Interesting, isn’t it? It now appears that, if Hamlin was vaccinated (which we all believe is highly likely but we don’t have the evidence to say he was), the vaccine likely played a very major role in his injury until proven otherwise. However, I believe it is highly unlikely that there will be a proper autopsy where they examine Damar Hamlin’s heart tissue similar to what they did in the Schwab study. In America, we do not want to know what kills people. This is why there are virtually never any autopsies after someone dies post-vaccine, even if they die less than 24 hours after the jab. So deaths like this will continue because people don’t want to upset the government safe and effective narrative.

Read more …

The Rasmussen survey is here. Since it is a endless litany of numbers and percentages, I go with a write-up by the Substack A Midwestern Doctor.

“49% of American Adults believe it is likely that side effects of COVID-19 vaccines have caused a significant number of unexplained deaths, including 28% who think it’s Very Likely”.

The American Public is Extremely Worried About the Vaccines (MWD)

Although Rasmussen typically makes their polls be behind a paywall (since they have to stay in business), they felt compelled to make this one be publicly available. This poll evaluated 1000 American adults, of whom 71% reported being vaccinated. The results Rasmussen found were as follows:

The results of each of these questions have profound implications for the general public losing its trust in the mainstream narrative. The second is particularly important: 28% know someone directly they believe died from a vaccine. Even if the correlation is false (although I believe it is the opposite as many of the deaths are not recognized), 28% of the population believing the government and every authority they were raised their life to trust would push something this dangerous onto them shatters the institutional trust our entire society is built upon. Put differently, this is not a problem more propaganda can solve or half-hearted pseudo-apologies like Emily Oster’s disingenuous plea for amnesty or Peter Hotez’s “apology” that followed him being called out for his egregious conduct with the vaccines.

At this point in time, the major challenge our movement is facing is bridging the gap from the evidence of harm (there is far more than enough data to end this program) to persuading the public that this data matters and the vaccines need to be pulled. This is why Rasmussen’s survey results so important, as they illustrate that gap is beginning to be overcome. When it comes to ending these mandates, how the vaccines are perceived by the public is the most important thing and what politicians will listen to. [..] One of the interesting things about today’s poll was how each demographic answered:

For example, when asked if they knew someone who they suspected had died from the vaccine, 33% of Democrats said yes, while 26% of both Republicans and those who were not affiliated with either party said yes. Rasmussen argues this (along with many other demographic response rates) suggests the poll’s results were valid, and explained this result being due Democrats, while being less likely to want to acknowledge a vaccine injury, likely knowing far more people who were vaccinated, and thus being exposed to a higher rate of deaths.

Read more …

Again, let’s hope Florida stays the course.

DeSantis: We’re Suing Big Pharma for Killing Americans With COVID Shots (NP)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is suing Pfizer and Moderna for killing millions of Americans with their toxic mRNA jabs. “I think people want the truth that I think people want accountability. You need to have a thorough investigation into what happened with the shots,” DeSantis told a crowd earlier in December. “I promise to hold these manufacturers accountable for this mRNA [shot] because they said there were no side effects and we know that there have been a lot.” Naturalnews.com reports: Back in October, Florida Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo recommended against the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for males aged 18 to 39. His recommendation was based on a study that found an 84 percent increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males aged 18 to 39 within 28 days of vaccination.

“Studying the safety and efficacy of any medications, including vaccines, is an important component of public health,” Ladapo said. “Far less attention has been paid to safety and the concerns of many individuals have been dismissed – these are important findings that should be communicated to Floridians.” DeSantis has banned strict vaccine mandates in schools and businesses back in November 2021 to make sure people continued to earn a living and have protections at their place of employment. He also emphasized that parents should be able to direct the upbringing of their kids, especially when it came to dealing with the pandemic.

“The plain truth is COVID shots have led to horrifying effects, such as myocarditis, blood clots, additional injuries and sudden deaths,” Patrick Tims of NaturalHealth365 wrote. “The mainstream media in the United States and elsewhere will never admit it, yet the truth is the vast majority of people would have enjoyed better health outcomes had they avoided the mRNA shots altogether.”

Comer Fauci Files
https://twitter.com/i/status/1609944249436602371

Read more …

“My goal is to illustrate the complete breakdown of the previously known to be rigorous ethical drug development process..”

Did Pfizer Perform Safety Testing for mRNA Vaccine in Preclinical Studies? (SL)

The cursory nature of the entire preclinical program for mRNA injections conducted by Pfizer can be briefly summarized as “we did not find any safety signals because we did not look for them”. The omissions of standard safety studies and glaring scientific dishonesty in the studies that were performed are so obvious that they cannot be attributed to the incompetence of the manufacturers and regulators. Rather, the questions of fraud and willful negligence should be raised.

The focus of my review was the scope and adequacy of the program of non-clinical assessment for a novel gene therapy “vaccine” with a brief discussion of relevant regulatory frameworks. I did not dive deeply into the results of specific animal studies. My goal is to illustrate the complete breakdown of the previously known to be rigorous ethical drug development process, as well as the shocking negligence on the part of the regulatory agencies that are supposed to keep the pharmaceutical manufacturers honest. It turns out that both the regulators and the manufacturers were highly dishonest and pushed an entirely novel technology and product on millions of people without a single well designed toxicology assessment.

In summary, I have identified the following:

Finding 1: Pfizer’s program did not include a comprehensive end-to-end test of all components as well as the final chemical entity of the mRNA product. The studies included in the FDA approval package were for a variety of versions of the product with no comparability assessments, thus no comprehensive assessment of the product safety can be made.

Finding 2: The toxicity/safety pharmacology of the Covid 19 vaccine’s active ingredient (mRNA BNT162b2) was never evaluated!

Finding 3: Pfizer claimed absence of potential for “vaccine-elicited disease enhancement” based on studies of an animals that did not get sick from Sars-Cov-2.

Finding 4: CDC, FDA and Pfizer lied about “vaccine staying in the injection site” – the injected substance is carried by the LNPs all over the body and into all organs.

Finding 5: Pfizer waived major categories of safety testing for their product altogether using self-serving interpretation of WHO recommendations from 2005.

Finding 6: Both FDA and Pfizer knew about major toxicities associated with gene therapy class of medicines, and therefore cannot claim lack of anticipatory knowledge of these risks.

Turbo cancer
https://twitter.com/i/status/1609634122863104000

Read more …

“..they KNOW they will eventually be caught. That’s not a concern for them because their goal of getting as many men, women, and children jabbed as many times as possible cannot be reversed by the truth coming out..”

Expect Three Things From Government to Cover Up Vaxx-Weakened Immunity (Rucker)

After two years of completely controlling the Covid “vaccine” narrative and gaslighting the people into thinking they were “safe and effective,” an avalanche of news has been coming out lately that is prompting more people to ask questions. While most “normies” are still in the dark because they’re getting their news from corporate media, a small but growing number of them are waking up to the fact that they’ve been conned. While there’s still a huge leap to be made between getting people to ask questions and making them believe this is a worldwide depopulation and control agenda, the interim goal of getting them to stop getting more jabs is a worthy accomplishment. This is why we post articles and do videos on a constant basis to give people the ammunition they need to stir more of the masses to enlightenment. We need to hand out as many “vaccine red pills” as we can.

Unfortunately, the powers-that-be are aware they’re losing bits of control over the narrative so we fully expect them to fight back tooth-and-nail in 2023. They will continue to use propaganda and censorship through corporate media and Big Tech, but they realize even in those controlled venues they have challenges. Therefore, they are in the process of engaging in three variations of their current strategy to keep the con going as long as possible. It’s important to note that they KNOW they will eventually be caught. That’s not a concern for them because their goal of getting as many men, women, and children jabbed as many times as possible cannot be reversed by the truth coming out. Just because someone becomes aware that the jabs are harming them doesn’t mean they can go get themselves unjabbed. The powers-that-be know they cannot hide the truth forever, so they are working to subvert the truth and distort it in ways that will continue to serve their goals even after the masses finally wake up.

The first step is already happening. Rather than deny that people’s immune systems are weakening and many are dying suddenly with no viable explanation, they’re acknowledging the deaths but offering alternative reasons.. For example, the American Heart Association released a “study” last August that claimed increased cases of Myocarditis in children is due to Covid-19 itself, not the vaccines. It’s an extremely dishonest report from the AHA for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that if someone is jabbed AND had Covid, those Myocarditis cases are counted as caused by Covid. Then, there’s the fact that they do not count Myocarditis cases that were discovered more than 28-days after getting jabbed.

Read more …

“..the study found vector DNA in the sciatic nerves, bone marrow, livers, lungs, and spleens of the mice following vaccination.”

ICAN Obtains Disturbing Information About AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine (ICAN)

AstraZeneca study finds vector DNA in the sciatic nerve, bone marrow, liver, lungs, and spleen of vaccinated mice. Because AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is not licensed in the United States, all documents within the FDA’s possession concerning this vaccine are exempt from disclosure. This means that anyone who received an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine cannot – and might not ever be able to – access any of the data concerning the vaccine from the US government. Not satisfied by this complete lack of transparency, ICAN, through its attorneys, submitted an information request to the United Kingdom’s FDA equivalent – the Medicines and Healthcare Products Registry Agency (MHRA) — in April 2022 seeking information relating to its authorization of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, as well as that relating to its authorization of the Janssen, Moderna, and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.

MHRA’s initial response was to threaten to deny ICAN’s request but, after ICAN pushed back and, in the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine, narrowed the scope of the request to seven specific items related to safety testing, MHRA dropped its objection. MHRA recently provided 166 pages of records containing the studies MHRA relied on to authorize AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. One of these studies investigated biodistribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine, meaning where it goes in the body after injection, in mice. This study revealed that the viral vector DNA did not remain localized in the injection site but instead migrated to other organs. Disturbingly, the study found vector DNA in the sciatic nerves, bone marrow, livers, lungs, and spleens of the mice following vaccination.

The study documents further revealed that, in early 2021, AstraZeneca was forced to amend its data sheet for the vaccine after concluding that there may have been a causal association between the vaccine and serious hypersensitivity including anaphylaxis. Another perhaps unsurprising revelation was the inclusion of disclaimer that a number of vulnerable populations, such as pregnant and lactating women and immunocompromised persons, were excluded from pre-market human safety studies. In its Marketing Authorization Application, AstraZeneca stated that because these populations were excluded from the studies, the safety of the vaccine in these groups was unknown. This also led the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) to recommend against the AstraZeneca vaccine for pregnant women – a sentiment that was echoed in the UK’s vaccination schedule guide, commonly referred to as the “Green Book.”

Read more …

Covid is not the concern, the vaccines are. And Israel is the test lab for those.

Israel to Declare Covid Pandemic Over, Downgrade It to Flu Status (YW)

Israel will officially declare the Covid-19 pandemic over next month and downgrade the country’s handling of the virus to that of the flu as of January 18th, according to reports. Israel’s Home Front Command had been shouldering the responsibility for all Covid-related treatment and testing since the virus first became a major health concern in the country, but those responsibilities will now be shifted to the civilian health system. On the last day of January, Covid will officially be downgraded to flu status, the pandemic control center will be shuttered, and Covid patients will no longer be required to isolate themselves.


“We’re hoping that our health care system can cope with these winter infections, including Covid,” Professor Cyrille Cohen, a member of the Health Ministry’s advisory board, told i24News. Once the winter is over, the Health Ministry hopes and expects that the virus will be endemic in the country, with infections coming at a regular rate, rather than in waves – making it far more bearable. “We are more in a scenario where we are behaving like any other viral disease in the winter,” Cohen added.

Read more …

Rogan O’Handley @DC_Draino: “Remember when Biden got the Ukrainian prosecutor fired for investigating Hunter/Burisma? Well on Dec. 27 the USVI AG filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan for helping Jeffrey Epstein. Biden flew to USVI & the AG was fired days later.”

Virgin Islands AG Loses Her Job Days After Suing JPMorgan Over Epstein (L&C)

Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George lost her job after suing JPMorgan Chase in connection with her Jeffrey Epstein investigation. The Virgin Islands top prosecutor who reached a more than $105 million settlement with Jeffrey Epstein’s estate has lost her job days after suing JPMorgan Chase in connection with her probe. The federal lawsuit, filed in New York, accused the bank of having “facilitated, sustained, and concealed” Epstein’s human trafficking network. On Dec. 27, then-Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George filed a blistering and heavily redacted 30-page lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase.

“JP Morgan turned a blind eye to evidence of human trafficking over more than a decade because of Epstein’s own financial footprint, and because of the deals and clients that Epstein brought and promised to bring to the bank,” the lawsuit alleged. “These decisions were advocated and approved at the senior levels of JP Morgan, including by the former chief executive of its asset management division and investment bank, whose inappropriate relationship with Epstein should have been evident to the bank. Indeed, it was only after Epstein’s death that JP Morgan belatedly complied with federal banking regulations regarding Epstein’s accounts.”

[..] Days after the AG’s filing of the lawsuit — on New Year’s Eve — George was removed from her post. Local news outlets in the Virgin Islands reported that the attorney general had not informed the territory’s Gov. Albert Bryan about her impending enforcement action. [..] The development was first reported by The Virgin Islands Consortium, citing anonymous sources. Bryan subsequently confirmed George’s termination — without providing an explanation for it — in a statement sent to multiple news outlet. “I relieved Denise George of her duties as attorney general this weekend,” Bryan wrote in a statement sent to Law&Crime. “I thank her for her service to the people of the territory during the past four years as attorney general and wish her the best in her future endeavors.”

Read more …

“Berlin will continue to refrain from any “ill-considered unilateral moves..”

German MP Warns Against ‘Unimaginable Escalation’ (RT)

Berlin has no plans to send modern Western-made tanks to Ukraine, as the risks are too high, a German lawmaker said on Monday. Such a move could make NATO a direct party to the conflict between Moscow and Kiev and lead to an escalation, Michael Mueller told Germany’s ARD broadcaster. Berlin will continue to refrain from any “ill-considered unilateral moves,” Mueller, who is a member of the German Bundestag’s Foreign Policy Committee, told ARD’s Morganmagazin show. “We would only deliver such weapons in coordination with our NATO partners,” he said, adding that the military bloc wants to avoid becoming a direct party to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“That would be in the interests of all of us… If NATO became a direct war party against Russia, it would be an escalation that none of us want to imagine,” Mueller, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), warned. No other nations who possess “comparable” military hardware – including the US and France – have supplied them to Ukraine, Mueller pointed out, adding that those countries appear to share Germany’s concerns. The lawmaker also said that dialogue with Russia should be maintained. “There should always be an offer to talk,” he argued, criticizing his party’s coalition partners – the Greens and the Free Democrats – for failing to understand that.

Mueller said Chancellor Scholz is now the only leader who continues to seek such contacts, adding that the Foreign Ministry should also look for options for dialogue. Scholz has previously repeatedly said that resolving the conflict between Russia and Ukraine would be much harder without dialogue with Moscow. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, on the contrary, has taken a staunch anti-Russia position, vowing to ramp up sanctions against Moscow and stating that “normal relations” with the Kremlin are out of the question.

Read more …

“Between February and May, it is likely that both parties will realize “that they are getting stuck..”

I don’t think so. Not both parties.

Ex-NATO General Predicts Ukraine Ceasefire (RT)

A senior German Army officer and former Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, General Hans-Lothar Domröse, has predicted that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will run into a stalemate and some sort of a ceasefire will be reached by summer. “I expect a standstill in early summer,” Domröse told the newspapers of the German Funke media group on Sunday, arguing that by such time, both sides will feel that continued fighting is “no longer of any use.” Between February and May, it is likely that both parties will realize “that they are getting stuck,” the former general said, adding that this will be the moment to begin ceasefire negotiations. “We will have a truce sometime in 2023,” Domröse predicted, cautioning that this would not mean an immediate lasting peace.

“A ceasefire means: We stop shooting,” he said, but negotiations are “likely to take a long time.” Regarding the current state of the conflict, Domröse said that Russia has the advantage of having “more tanks and more missiles,” while Kiev is “absolutely dependent” on Western arms supplies. “It’s hard for me to imagine Ukraine regaining [the Russian-held territories] completely – even if the West supplies the heavy weapons that are required, especially tanks and artillery,” he added. Since the start of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine last February, Germany, along with most other Western nations, has been supplying Ukraine with weapons. However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been reluctant to supply Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kiev, arguing that since no other nation has yet sent such modern weaponry, Germany should not blaze a trail.

The general claimed that if “we take our responsibility seriously, we must provide [Kiev] with the heavy weapons” before its stockpiles run dry, because it could take well over a month from the government’s decision to have Leopard 2 tanks on the ground in Ukraine. “At some point Ukraine will have lost its last tank, then it will need supplies. And at some point there will be a ceasefire, then Ukraine will also need further support and weapons,” Domröse said. “It is high time that the European countries that have Leopard tanks now form a coalition of the willing and deliver together in a coordinated manner.” Moscow has consistently argued that Western weapons deliveries to Ukraine only serve to prolong the conflict. It has also warned that NATO member states are getting increasingly involved in the hostilities, which could potentially lead to an all-out military confrontation between the bloc and Russia.

The general acknowledged that the only way to end the conflict is through a negotiated agreement acceptable to both sides, suggesting that a possible solution could be for Zelensky to waive Kiev’s demand to immediately integrate Crimea into Ukraine and instead agree to a “transition period” of 50 years. However, the Kremlin previously called such proposals a non-starter, insisting that if Ukraine wants peace it should take into account “the new realities,” referring to the four former Ukrainian regions that voted to join Russia last fall, after Crimea did the same in 2014 following a coup in Kiev.

Michael Flynn

Read more …

The only question in approval rating is the Duma.

Putin’s Approval Rating Ends 2022 At 81% (BNE)

If anything, support and trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin has increased since the war in Ukraine started at the end of February. Putin’s personal popularity ranking stood at 83% in March (chart), with 15% holding an unfavourable opinion of the president and 2% unsure, and stayed at that level until August, when things started to go wrong with the campaign in Ukraine. His popularity fell to 77% (21%, 2%) in September, according to the Levada Centre, after Ukraine’s spectacular Kharkiv counter-offensive began, but recovered to 79% in October and November to end the year in December at 81% (17%, 2%).


Overall, Putin has been enjoying the same “patriotic bump” that lifted his ratings following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. During the previous two years of 2020 and 2021 his ratings wavered between 61% and 69% but only crossed into the 70%-plus range as the rhetoric with the West went up a notch at the start of the crisis at the beginning of 2022.

Likewise, the approval of Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has also been given a lift. He polled a 60% (35%, 5%) approval rating in February but that leapt to 71% (23%, 6%) in March after the war started. Since then, his approval has hovered around 70% to finish the year in December with 71% (23%, 6%). The government also remain popular. In the pre-war years the government was benefiting from the improving economy. However, the shine came off in 2021, when its ratings fell to around 50%. When the war started their approval leapt from 55% (42%, 3%) in February to 70% (27%, 3%) in March. The governors ended the year in December with an approval rating of 68% (28%, 4%).

Read more …

“You see, Putin can’t handle tough questions. Oops!! Wait a minute. We have breaking news. Turns out that Putin held a 48 minute press conference three days before Western Christmas..”

Is Western Propaganda Failing? (Larry Johnson)

As someone who played a minuscule role in a CIA information operation that targeted Soviet military operations in Afghanistan in November 1985, I feel somewhat qualified to comment on the mammoth propaganda campaign the United States and Europe have unleashed on Russia. I have never seen anything so perverse and so dishonest. Let me give you a recent example. Remember this recent “news” headline? “DUCKING FOR COVER: ‘SICKLY’ PUTIN CANCELS BIGGEST SPEECH OF HIS LIFE AS FIRST RUSSIAN STATE OF NATION SINCE INVASION IS MYSTERIOUSLY AXED” https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/20827701/putin-sick-russian-speech-ukraine-invasion This was courtesy of the UK’s SUN. Lacking any reliable source, The SUN opted for speculation: “VLADIMIR Putin has cancelled his state of the nation address fuelling rumours he is in hiding from the Russian people and could be in failing health. Putin’s spokesman finally confirmed the speech – which would be one of biggest in Vlad’s life – will not go ahead before the New Year. . . . It comes after the mad tyrant also cancelled his end of year press conference and his annual hockey game.”

Got it? Putin is either deathly ill — suffering from Parkinsons, cancer, Irritable Bowel, etc. — or deathly afraid of having to explain the ass whooping that Ukraine is delivering to Russia. You see, Putin can’t handle tough questions. Oops!! Wait a minute. We have breaking news. Turns out that Putin held a 48 minute press conference three days before Western Christmas (does this count as “end of the year”?): It would appear that Putin delights in trolling the Western pundits and media. Does Putin look like a man suffering from some devastating illness? Does he give off the vibe of a guy who cannot control his bowels and is called Mr. Poopy Pants behind his back? Joe Biden could not pull this off even if he consumed Zelensky’s weekly dose of cocaine. Putin is coherent and in command of facts.

It would be one thing if the Western propaganda effort was focused solely on ridiculing and trying to foment opposition inside Russia to Vladimir Putin. But it is not. Western propaganda is demonizing all things Russian — e.g., literature, art, chess, sports figures, and actors and actresses. This approach is not creating a reservoir of good will towards the West. Just the opposite. It is fortifying Russian nationalism and solidifying support for Putin.

anti-Nazi

Read more …

“I hope it’s not too impertinent to suppose that the January 6 Riot was engineered by our government to embarrass and punish its political opponents..”

Questions and Answers (Kunstler)

Next Mr. Wray has to answer for the FBI’s infiltration of social media. How did the top lawyer at the FBI, Jim Baker, come to be employed as the right-hand to Twitter’s chief censor, Vijaya Gadde? How did all those former FBI agents land at the company along with Jim Baker, and what did Mr. Wray have to do with the FBI demands to censor news and persons on matters of critical national importance such as vaccine safety and election fraud? How did more than a hundred former federal agents land on Facebook, Google, and other platforms? How did Mr. Wray decide to shut down the avenues of the First Amendment to the Constitution?

Next up: Attorney General Merrick Garland. On what grounds are pre-trial January 6 Riot suspects being held in the decrepit DC federal lockup without bail on rinky-dink charges two years after the event? How does that square with American due process of law? What did he know about the existence of the Hunter Biden laptop and the evidence it contained? What is he doing about it? How did Mr. Garland happen to target for prosecution parents protesting school board policies on race and sexual matters? Of course, Mr. Garland is going to evade answering by using the ploy that all these questions “pertains to ongoing investigations.” Mr. Jordan had better hire a gutsy chief counsel with some brains to penetrate that bodyguard of lies.

If the Special Subcommittee on the January 6 Riot is disbanded, turn the matter over to the Andy Biggs’ Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. Let’s hear from Nancy Pelosi’s staff as to why her office (of the Speaker) turned down offers from the Trump White House for national guard protection that day. Let’s also hear from the then-chief of the Capitol Police, Steven Sund, who resigned from that job two days later — in consternation or disgrace? Bring back Mr. Wray and Mr. Garland. How many federal agents were circulating in the crowd the night before and on the day of the January 6 riot? Why was one Ray Epps never indicted for his much-recorded incitements to enter the Capitol? Who opened the magnetically-locked doors from the inside of the building? Stuff like that. What was the decision process for not charging officer Michael Byrd in the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt?

I hope it’s not too impertinent to suppose that the January 6 Riot was engineered by our government to embarrass and punish its political opponents — taking advantage of the First Amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” which was what that crowd had come to do in Washington DC that day.

Read more …

The only reason they can keep up this story is that the other side has been imprisoned and silenced.

Pentagon, FBI, DHS Failed On Jan. 6 – Former Capitol Police Chief (WaPo)

In a new firsthand account of the frantic efforts of Capitol Police officers to protect Congress and themselves from an armed mob on Jan. 6, 2021, the department’s former chief blames cascading government failures for allowing the brutal melee. The federal government’s multibillion-dollar security network, built after 9/11 to gather intelligence that could warn of a looming attack, provided no such shield on Jan. 6, former Capitol Police chief Steven A. Sund writes in a new book. The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and even his own agency’s intelligence unit had been alerted weeks earlier to reams of chilling chatter about right-wing extremists arming for an attack on the Capitol that day, Sund says, but didn’t take the basic steps to assess those plots or sound an alarm. Senior military leaders, citing political or tactical worries, delayed sending help.

And, Sund warns in “Courage Under Fire,” it could easily happen again. Many of the factors that left the Capitol vulnerable remain unfixed, he said. The Washington Post obtained an advance copy of the book, which will be published Tuesday. In his account, Sund describes his shock at the battle that unfolded as an estimated 10,000 protesters inflamed by President Donald Trump’s rally earlier in the day broke through police lines and punched, stabbed and pepper-sprayed officers, outnumbering them “58 to 1.” Sund said his shock shifted to agony as he unsuccessfully begged military generals for National Guard reinforcements. Though they delayed sending help until it was too late for Sund’s overrun corps, he says that he later discovered that the Pentagon had rushed to send security teams to protect military officials’ homes in Washington, none of which were under attack.

Sund reserves his greatest outrage for those Pentagon leaders, recounting a conference call he had with two generals about 2:35 p.m., 20 minutes after rioters had broken into the Capitol and as Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers scurried to hiding places. Sund writes that Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt told him he didn’t like the optics of sending uniformed Guard troops to the Capitol but could allow them to replace police officers at roadside checkpoints. Listening incredulously and trying to explain that he needed help to save officers’ lives, Sund said, he felt both “nauseated” and “mad as hell.” “It’s a response I will never forget for the rest of my life,” Sund writes. While on the call, Sund recalls hearing the frantic voice of an officer being broadcast into the command center: “Shots fired in the Capitol, shots fired in the Capitol.” Sund’s anger boiled over and he shouted the report of gunfire into the conference call: “Is that urgent enough for you now?” Then Sund hung up to deal with this new crisis.

Read more …

A sliver of good news.

Turkey Supreme Court Bans Genetically Modified Grains Imports (S4S)

The Turkish Supreme Court has reimposed an import ban on the import of the genetically modified maize product MON810. This is the latest development in Turkey’s efforts to restrict genetically modified (GM) products. In 2010, the Turkish government enacted a biosafety law, banning the cultivation and import of biotech crops for food and feed use unless approved by the Ministry of Agriculture. In 2013, approval was suspended for products containing the GM maize MON810, effectively banning imports. This impacted shipments of Distillers Dried Grain with Solubles (DDGS) from the United States.


This ban was reversed by the Turkish High Court in 2015. However, the Supreme Court decision, announced in December 2022, now reimposes the prohibition of importing corn and other products containing MON810. What is more, the North Club noted that its correspondents in Turkey, Vitsan advise that vessels carrying DDGS cargo will be boarded upon arrival by the authorities who will take their own samples. If their analysis detects the presence of MON810, even if by contamination, they may refuse the import of cargo. Vitsan further recommend that vessels intending to load DDGS cargo destined for Turkey should check the cargo quality certificates or analyses certificates prior to loading as to whether it contains banned GM products.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Cobalt

 

 

 

 

Melibe viridis

 

 

Randomly

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

May 212021
 
 May 21, 2021  Posted by at 9:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Herri met de Bles Landscape with Saint Christopher 1535 – 1545

 

Israel-Palestinian Ceasefire Comes Into Force (Y!)
Celebrations In Gaza As Ceasefire Takes Hold (AlJ)
US Arms Makers Make a Killing Off of Israel’s Slaughter in Gaza (MPN)
Existing Cheap Drugs Could Rapidly Reduce Covid-19 Cases, Deaths In India (ToI)
Why Big Pharma’s Arguments Against Patent Waivers Don’t Add Up (CP)
If You Try To Bite Russia, We’ll Knock Out Your Teeth – Putin (RT)
Koch Funded Eviction Push While Buying Real Estate Stakes (DP)
US No Longer Wants To Buy Greenland, Blinken Confirms (G.)
The Squad Enables Pelosi’s Massive Capitol Police Spending Bill (Greenwald)
The Largest Iceberg on Earth Has Just Broken Off of Antarctica (Vice)
Lazy Entitled Boomers Told To Get A Jab (Chaser)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not the US. Not Putin. Egypt.

Israel-Palestinian Ceasefire Comes Into Force (Y!)

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip, came into force early Friday after 11 days of deadly fighting that pounded the Palestinian enclave and forced countless Israelis to seek shelter from rockets. Celebrations were heard on Gaza streets in the minutes after the truce began as cars honked their horns and some guns were fired in the air, AFP journalists said, while in the occupied West Bank, joyful crowds also took to the streets. With no alerts sounding in Israel to warn of incoming Hamas rockets, the ceasefire appeared to be holding in the early hours of Friday. The truce brokered by Egypt, that also included Gaza’s second-most powerful armed group, Islamic Jihad, was agreed following mounting international pressure to stem the bloodshed which erupted on May 10.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the deal. “I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I’m committed to working toward it,” Biden said at the White House, hailing Egypt’s role in brokering the agreement. A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the security cabinet had “unanimously accepted the recommendation of all of the security officials … to accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual ceasefire without pre-conditions”. Hamas and Islamic Jihad also confirmed the ceasefire in statements. “This is the euphoria of victory,” said Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas figure, in front of a crowd of thousands of Palestinians who had gathered in the streets to celebrate.

The Israeli statement said its aerial campaign had made “unprecedented” achievements in Gaza, a territory it has blockaded since 2007, the year of Hamas’s takeover. “The political leadership emphasises that it is the reality on the ground that will determine the future of the operation,” it added. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday he would be “prepared at any time to go to Israel, to the Middle East, if that would serve the purpose of moving beyond the violence and helping to work on improving lives for Israelis and Palestinians alike”.

Read more …

“At least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, have been killed in the Israeli bombardment. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, have been killed.”

Celebrations In Gaza As Ceasefire Takes Hold (AlJ)

A ceasefire came into force in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday morning after Egypt brokered an agreement between Israel and Hamas to halt 11 days of conflict. A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the security cabinet had “unanimously accepted the recommendations to accept an Egyptian initiative for an unconditional … ceasefire.” Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad then confirmed the ceasefire in a statement, saying it would come into force at 2:00am on Friday (23:00 GMT on Thursday). Thousands of people in Gaza and the Palestinian territories poured onto the streets to celebrate the ceasefire, waving flags and flashing ‘V’ signs for victory. At least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, have been killed in the Israeli bombardment. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, have been killed.

Read more …

US tax dollars pay Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin.

US Arms Makers Make a Killing Off of Israel’s Slaughter in Gaza (MPN)

As diplomatic powers and regional players meet behind closed doors for ceasefire talks, Israel continues showering Gaza with missile fire. Israeli airstrikes have so far killed at least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, and injured 1,710 others. The heavy bombardment has also wiped out entire residential buildings and houses, leaving 72,000 people homeless, and has destroyed media offices, schools, libraries and charities. According to the Israeli Air Force (IAF), on Wednesday night Israel fired 120 missiles in the span of 25 minutes. The most recent attack hit the city of Khan Yunis in Gaza, killing one and injuring eight. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) could not provide an exact number of how many bombs are being dropped on Gaza per hour. The IAF did not respond to press inquiries.

The Times of Gaza, however, reported that more than 100 airstrikes occurred in a 30 minute period on May 14. Amid the rubble, Palestinians in Gaza have found unexploded missiles with writing indicating these bombs were manufactured in the United States. The use of American-made weaponry in Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is renewing discussions on U.S. foreign assistance to Israel and U.S. complicity in Israeli state violence. [..] Boeing makes the F-15 fighter jets and Lockheed Martin manufactures F-16 and F-35 warplanes. But these are not the only American corporations involved in the production of Israel’s military aircraft.

General Electric produces the engines for F-15 and F-16 jets. Raytheon Technologies creates the missiles used to arm F-15 and F-35 planes. According to the American Friends Service Committee’s Investigate Database, Northrop Grumman manufactures “approximately 35% of the Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft, including its center fuselage, radar, avionics, electro-optics, navigation, communications and identification subsystems, and mission systems and mission-planning software.” The arms manufacturer has also partnered with the Israeli military industry to build the LITENING targeting pod, a weapons laser navigation system used on F-16 warplanes.

Military sales to Israel generate massive profits for these American corporations. Boeing secured a $2.4 billion sale to Israel from the U.S. State Department last year. In February, the aerospace behemoth scored a whopping $9 billion deal with Israel’s Ministry of Defense. In the last decade, Raytheon’s contracts to Israel have totaled more than $4 billion. Lockheed Martin’s most recent sale to Israel is estimated at more than $2 billion. In 2016, General Electric obtained part of a $300 million sale to Israel. Northrop Grumman is less transparent about its international sales. Out of Northrop Grumman’s reported $36.8 billion in sales in 2020, 14 percent were international.

Read more …

India has its back against the wall.

Existing Cheap Drugs Could Rapidly Reduce Covid-19 Cases, Deaths In India (ToI)

The COVID-19 humanitarian calamity unfolding in India is on a scale not seen in this pandemic. This is an extraordinary situation – and it may benefit from an extraordinary response. There exist affordable, readily available and minimally toxic drugs approved for non-COVID-19 use which show remarkable promise in preventing or treating the new coronavirus. Deploying these drugs in India is likely to rapidly reduce the number of COVID-19 patients, reduce the number requiring hospitalization, supplemental oxygen and intensive care and improve outcomes in hospitalized patients. Some of these drugs are being tested in large-scale randomized clinical trials in the US and abroad but in most cases, definitive efficacy data is pending. With the current COVID-19 situation in India, we do not have time to wait for results of these studies.

Importantly, currently available safety and outcomes data on these drugs is strong enough that it is time to incorporate them into national practice guidelines. Indian authorities should issue such guidelines on the most promising drugs for each stage of COVID-19. By so doing, physicians will be encouraged to use these interventions. The resulting real world data from a few healthcare settings in select cities should be tracked in real time and guidelines suitably revised. If such measures were adopted, we could see effects in 3-4 weeks. This strategy might be unusual but it is not unheard of: France has the Temporary Recommendation for Use, a “regulatory instrument which aims to allow, on a temporary basis, the use of a medicinal product to allow its effectiveness to be evaluated on the basis of its use.”

The choice of drugs is critical. We have worked closely with personnel at the Food and Drug Administration and have connected with the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the merits of repurposed drugs. Based on a mechanistic rationale, data in animal models, human retrospective analyses, clinical trials (some randomized, others not) and anecdotal human data, we created a prioritized list of interventions that hold the greatest promise and that could be deployed at scale. For instance, there is strong data from a randomized trial and a real-world study that administering fluvoxamine sharply reduces the need for hospitalization in COVID-19 outpatients. Moreover, anecdotal unpublished data in over 400 acutely ill COVID-19 patients from several community practitioners suggests that administering fluvoxamine and ivermectin together may be even more efficacious.

Intervention as early as possible after symptom onset is key. Ivermectin is already listed as a “MAY DO” on the ICMR and Indian government guidelines for treatment of acute mild COVID-19 and we suggest that fluvoxamine be added in this category. Also, ivermectin in the prophylactic setting merits serious consideration. For the hospitalized, there are treatments currently used for other conditions that might reduce the need for ventilator support and lower the risk of death. These include inhaled adenosine, cyproheptadine and dipyridamole. For ideas for which there is rather limited human data, the government should offer pre-approved pilot protocols and funding for rapid implementation in select centers rather than issue a recommendation for use.

Read more …

It’s Bill Gates again.

Why Big Pharma’s Arguments Against Patent Waivers Don’t Add Up (CP)

Days after he publicly opposed the waiving of patents for lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates had a change of heart. He released a statement saying, “No barriers should stand in the way of equitable access to vaccines, including intellectual property, which is why we are supportive of a narrow waiver during the pandemic.” His statement came after President Joe Biden, in a surprising move, and in contrast to his European allies, backed a temporary waiver on COVID-19 vaccine patents. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai released a statement saying, “extraordinary circumstances… call for extraordinary measures.” Immediately, the big drugmakers’ share prices fell, and they shot back in anger with a litany of dire predictions.

Gates had been singing a different tune just a few weeks earlier, expressing opposition to vaccine patent waivers when he said in an interview, “The thing that’s holding things back in this case is not intellectual property. There’s not like some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines.” Gates’ initial opposition echoes the pharmaceutical industry’s staunch resistance to waiving the intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccine technology. In a letter to the Biden administration, members of an industry group called Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) wrote, “Eliminating those protections would undermine the global response to the pandemic, including ongoing effort to tackle new variants, create confusion that could potentially undermine public confidence in vaccine safety, and create a barrier to information sharing.”

The signatories added, “Most importantly, eliminating protections would not speed up production.” Walden Bello, co-founder of the advocacy organization Focus on the Global South and an international adjunct professor at SUNY Binghamton, told me in an interview from Manila, Philippines, that “these arguments are really quite spurious.” Bello had penned an opinion column in the New York Times saying, “A short-term Trips waiver would allow developing nations to quickly ramp up vaccine production and save lives at an affordable cost.” The demand for vaccine patent waivers originated in October 2020 when the governments of India and South Africa proposed a temporary suspension of the World Trade Organization’s 1995 TRIPS agreement. Now, more than 100 nations support the call. TRIPS stands for the “Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights,” and for years has been a boon to corporations that have manufactured products with the help of public investment and reaped massive profits through the 20-year monopolies that the agreement grants them.

Read more …

“As one of our emperors said, ‘Our enormity terrifies everybody,’” Putin added..”

If You Try To Bite Russia, We’ll Knock Out Your Teeth – Putin (RT)

President Vladimir Putin has issued a fiery rebuke to those who, he says, are intent on bringing about the breakup of the world’s largest country, insisting that Russia will defend itself from potential interference from overseas. In a speech on Tuesday to the ‘Victory’ organizing committee, which is responsible for memorializing those killed in the Second World War, the Russian leader claimed that “everyone wants to bite us somewhere, or to bite something off of us.” If or when this happens, he said the country will “knock out the teeth” of those who try. He said that Russia’s size and its natural resources meant that rivals would always find reasons to attempt to clip its wings as it grew stronger. “As one of our emperors said, ‘Our enormity terrifies everybody,’” Putin added. The full quote, attributed to Tsar Alexander III, claims this is the reason that “Russia has no friends.”


The president went on to criticize those who claim that the country’s natural resources – much of them in lumber, minerals and energy reserves in the vast expanses of Siberia – should not belong to one country alone. “It’s strange to hear these things, especially in public, but they sometimes come up,” he said. Russian officials have repeatedly attributed a quote to former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, in which she purportedly claimed that “the colossal natural resources of Siberia should not belong to Russia alone.” However, there is no clear evidence that Albright said this, and she herself has denied that these were her words. However, the idea that Russia could disintegrate or be broken up has been a longstanding concern within the country, with some Western analysts arguing in favor of the idea.

Read more …

“..since 2012, “its affiliated funds have acquired and operated more than 30,000 homes.”

Koch Funded Eviction Push While Buying Real Estate Stakes (DP)

Billionaire Charles Koch’s foundation has bankrolled three conservative legal groups leading the court battle to eliminate prohibitions against tenant evictions during the COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, Koch’s corporate empire has suddenly stepped up its real estate purchases during the pandemic — including making large investments in real estate companies with a potential financial interest in eliminating eviction restrictions. In the last few months, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Pacific Legal Foundation, and the New Civil Rights Alliance have been pushing federal courts to strike down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, which is designed to protect millions of Americans from being thrown out of their homes during the pandemic. The groups have so far won two rulings.

Between 2017 and 2019, the Charles Koch Foundation contributed almost $7.7 million to those three conservative organizations, according to the foundation’s tax returns reviewed by The Daily Poster. Koch has been among the biggest financiers of conservative advocacy groups and political causes, and he is one of the wealthiest people on the planet thanks to his stake in Koch Industries, which is the nation’s second-largest privately held company and best known for its investments in fossil fuels. But since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Koch Industries has been plowing money into real estate. In March this year, The Wall Street Journal published a report headlined “Charles Koch Is Betting Big on Distressed Real Estate.”

The paper reported that the billionaire’s corporate conglomerate “is emerging as a major real-estate investor during the pandemic, using its robust cash reserves to buy properties at beaten-down prices and betting on a longer-term recovery.” Last April, a month into the pandemic, Koch Real Estate Investments made a “$200 million preferred-equity investment in Amherst Holdings LLC’s single-family rental business,” according to the corporate law firm Jones Day, which said it advised the Koch Industries subsidiary on the deal. Amherst says that since 2012, “its affiliated funds have acquired and operated more than 30,000 homes.”

Read more …

Must have been a very slow news day.

US No Longer Wants To Buy Greenland, Blinken Confirms (G.)

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has confirmed that America no longer wants to buy Greenland. Blinken visited the Danish autonomous territory as he ended a four-day trip that included a meeting of the foreign ministers of countries bordering the Arctic. “I am in Greenland because the United States deeply values our partnership and wants to make it even stronger,” Antony Blinken told reporters on his final stop of the Arctic tour. He stressed that he was not there to buy the country, signalling a change in policy from the Trump administration. Asked whether the US had definitively ruled out any plans to buy Greenland, Blinken replied with a smile: “I can confirm that’s correct.”

Former US President Donald Trump announced in August 2019 that he was considering buying the land mass, which is a quarter of the size of the US. “Denmark essentially owns it,” he said at the time. “We’re very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up and I said, ‘Certainly I’d be.’ Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not No1 on the burner, I can tell you that.” The purchase would be “essentially a large real estate deal”, he said at the time. Trump’s proposal, described as “absurd” by the Danish government, caused a diplomatic kerfuffle.

Last year, the US reopened a consulate in Greenland’s capital Nuuk, and pledged $12m in aid for civilian projects. While he spoke of potential additional funding, Blinken was vague about new US projects, even though the new Greenlandic local government had floated the idea of a free trade agreement earlier in the week. “We would like to find ways to strengthen even more the commercial relationship,” Blinken said.

Read more …

“Three Squad members — all of whom recently chanted “Defund the Police” – all had the power to kill a $1.9 billion increase in Capitol Police and security spending. Instead, @AOC, @JamaalBowmanNY and @RashidaTlaib ensured its passage.”

The Squad Enables Pelosi’s Massive Capitol Police Spending Bill (Greenwald)

By a margin of one vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that allocates $1.9 billion to intensify security and increase policing at the U.S. Capitol. Among other things, the bill would boost armed security for members of Congress, fortify security protections at the Capitol, provide funds in “reimbursement” to the National Guard, and increase funding for the Capitol Police. A small portion of it would provide counseling services to Capitol Police officers dealing with trauma. The 213-212 vote was a party line vote with six exceptions. All Republicans voted against it. All Democrats voted for the bill except for six. Three members of the left-wing faction of the House known as the “Squad” joined their GOP colleagues to vote against the bill: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).

But the other three members of the Squad — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — voted neither “yes” nor “no” but rather “present.” All six had previously told activist groups that they opposed the bill. Had any of these three Squad members voted “no” instead of “present,” then the bill would have been defeated. In other words, this faction of the Squad had the power fully in their hands to block passage of a bill that would increase police funding and enhance the power of the security state to prevent the public from entering the U.S. Capitol: a bill they claimed to oppose. But they chose not to use that power and instead allowed this pro-police, pro-security-state bill to pass the House.

It now heads to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to bring it to a floor vote, though it remains uncertain if they will be able to find ten Republican Senators needed for it to pass the Senate and be sent to the White House for signing. There are several amazing aspects to this episode. To begin with, all three Squad members who abstained today on this bill — which effectively ensured its passage — have spent the last year chanting and tweeting that the police should be defunded. [..] In the summer of 2020, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez left no doubt about what she favors when she invokes this mantra: “Defunding police means defunding police,” she said. The Congresswoman was criticizing cuts to New York City’s police budget as insufficient and the byproduct of accounting tricks rather than real defunding efforts.

And yet, what do we have today? When it comes to their own security, these three Squad members are evidently eager for close to $2 billion to be spent in additional funds to increase the police presence around them and fortify the armed guards and other security state mechanisms that protect them. This is always a key point of “Defund the Police” campaigns.

Read more …

70 times the size of Manhattan.

The Largest Iceberg on Earth Has Just Broken Off of Antarctica (Vice)

The largest iceberg on Earth, measuring over 100 miles across 15 miles wide, has just broken off of Antarctica. Named A7-6, the gigantic iceberg was calved from the southern continent’s Ronne Ice Shelf and is now floating across the Weddell Sea. The huge chunk of ice was first spotted by Keith Makinson of the British Antarctic Survey last week, and has been imaged from space by the Copernicus-Sentinel-1 mission, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). A-76 has a rectangular shape similar to Manhattan Island, though it is about 70 times bigger.


The structure has snatched the mantle of the world’s largest iceberg from A-23A, its neighbor in the Weddell Sea, which is about 10 percent smaller. Icebergs are named after their quadrant of origin, in this case A, and then given sequential numbers. These enormous floating ice structures break off of Antarctic ice sheets as part of a natural seasonal cycle, and scientists have not linked the birth of A-76 directly to climate change. However, warming global temperatures may accelerate the collapse of some of Antarctica’s ice sheets in the future.

Read more …

”Put down the avocado toast, be a grown up and get a vaccine!”

Lazy Entitled Boomers Told To Get A Jab (Chaser)

Young people around the country have been seen telling Boomers to put down the avocado toast, stop being so entitled and go out and get a jab. This comes after research suggests nearly 30% of Australians are now hesitant to get the life saving vaccine over a blood-clotting risk potentially high as 0.0017%, which has led to the Boomer generation to be way to ‘choosy’ about which vaccine to have. Now young people have had enough and have told the lazy Boomers to ‘go out an get a vaccine, any of the vaccines are better than nothing.’ “Have you bothered to go get a vaccine yet?” said Mike a 26 year old after getting home from trying to find an entry level job that doesn’t require 5+ years of experience in the field and a degree.

“All you do is sit around watching tv. Put down the avocado toast, be a grown up and get a vaccine! I don’t care if it isn’t your dream vaccine, it is at least a vaccine that works. Go now, it’s for your own good.” “Classic old people they are just so entitled these days,” said Lauren a 20 year old full time-student who also has 2 jobs so she can pay her bills, “they just expect everything to be handed to them. They have been spoiled their entire lives and now they refuse to do anything for themselves. Growing up with these cheap houses meaning rent money is just handed to them, it’s made them so selfish and lazy. You know in my day, we have to go out and find a roommate to be able to afford rent in a run-down 1 bedroom apartment, but we do because we know what is important.”

“First the housing market and now vaccines, they just hoard everything for themselves even if they don’t actually want to use it. What a selfish and rude generation they are!”

Read more …

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Mar 082020
 


Unknown Daniels-Wells Pontiac, 3055 Broadway, Oakland CA 1938

 

Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing (Atl.)
US Airport Screeners, Health Workers Plagued By Fear And Anger (R.)
One Tests Positive After Conference Also Attended By Trump, Pence, Pompeo (X.)
Nebraska Woman Rushed To Bio-Containment Unit In Specialized Isolation Pod (DM)
Italy To Quarantine Whole Of Lombardy Due To Coronavirus (O.)
Quarter Of Italy’s Population Put In Quarantine (O.)
Head Of Italy Players’ Union Calls For Soccer To Stop (R.)
Lebanon To Default On Foreign Debt Payments For First Time (BBC)
IMF Deal Would Spark ‘Popular Revolution’ In Lebanon – Hezbollah (R.)
US Blocks UN Statement Backing Syria Ceasefire (Ditz)
Top Saudi Royals ‘Arrested For Plotting With Americans Against King’ (RT)
Saudi Arabia Starts All-Out Oil War (ZH)

 

 

 

Cases 106,487 (+ 3,943 from yesterday’s 102,544)

Deaths 3,600 (+ 99 from yesterday’s 3,501)

 

Lovely. North America moves its clock 3 full weeks ahead of Europe. I lose an hour every morning.

Meanwhile, the virus continues its march unabated. In virus time.

 

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

South Korea has tested 200,000+ people, it says. The Atlantic could only confirm 1,895 tests in the US.

Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing (Atl.)

It’s one of the most urgent questions in the United States right now: How many people have actually been tested for the coronavirus? This number would give a sense of how widespread the disease is, and how forceful a response to it the United States is mustering. But for days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has refused to publish such a count, despite public anxiety and criticism from Congress. On Monday, Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, estimated that “by the end of this week, close to a million tests will be able to be performed” in the United States. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence promised that “roughly 1.5 million tests” would be available this week.

But the number of tests performed across the country has fallen far short of those projections, despite extraordinarily high demand, The Atlantic has found. “The CDC got this right with H1N1 and Zika, and produced huge quantities of test kits that went around the country,” Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, told us. “I don’t know what went wrong this time.” Through interviews with dozens of public-health officials and a survey of local data from across the country, The Atlantic could only verify that 1,895 people have been tested for the coronavirus in the United States, about 10 percent of whom have tested positive. And while the American capacity to test for the coronavirus has ramped up significantly over the past few days, local officials can still test only several thousand people a day, not the tens or hundreds of thousands indicated by the White House’s promises.


To arrive at our estimate, we contacted the public-health departments of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We gathered data on websites, and we corresponded with dozens of state officials. All 50 states and D.C. have made some information available, though the quality and timeliness of the data varied widely. Some states have only committed to releasing their numbers once or three times a week. Most are focused on the number of confirmed cases; only a few have publicized the number of people they are capable of testing. The Atlantic’s numbers reflect the best available portrait of the country’s testing capacity as of early this morning. These numbers provide an accurate baseline, but they are incomplete. Scattered on state websites, the data available are not useful to citizens or political leaders. State-based tallies lack the reliability of the CDC’s traditional—but now abandoned—method of reporting.

[..] Our reporting found that the capacity to test for the coronavirus varies dramatically—and sometimes dangerously—from state to state. California claims the highest testing capacity of any state, and has tested the most individuals so far. As of yesterday afternoon, it had tested 516 people, with 53 positive cases, a spokesperson for the Department of Health told us. The department now has the capacity to test 6,000 people every day, and it expects that capacity to expand to 7,400 people a day starting today, the spokesperson said. Washington State, the site of the country’s largest outbreak thus far, can test roughly 1,000 people a day. The state health department’s laboratory can test 100 people a day; the rest of the testing is being done at the University of Washington’s Virology Lab.


Officials have found 70 positive cases in Washington so far, though a genetic study has estimated that there may be hundreds of untested people who have COVID-19 in the greater Seattle area. Oregon, situated between the California and Washington hot spots, can test only about 40 people a day. Texas has 16 positive cases, according to media reports, but the health department’s website still lists only three cases. The Texas Tribune has reported that the state can test approximately 30 people a day.

Read more …

Everyone up and down the food chain of command should tell their superiors they’ll do it, but only if he/she will be standing there next to them doing the same job, with the same gear and the same protection.

US Airport Screeners, Health Workers Plagued By Fear And Anger (R.)

As coronavirus cases exploded across the world, federal medical workers tasked with screening incoming passengers at U.S. airports grew alarmed: Many were working without the most effective masks to protect them from getting sick themselves. Screeners with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked their supervisors this week to change official protocols and require stronger masks, according to an internal document reviewed by Reuters. On Friday evening, they learned their worst fears were realized: Two screeners, both working at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), had tested positive for the virus. “Sad news,” a senior quarantine official at the CDC wrote in an email Friday evening to colleagues about the two workers.

The email, reviewed by Reuters and not previously reported, said the two screeners will be quarantined until March 17. “Let us keep our colleagues at LAX in our thoughts.” The news was not surprising to some CDC screeners. “It was bound to happen,” said a veteran CDC medical official involved with screening who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They are assuring us we are safe. If we were safe, screeners would not be getting sick.” The struggles within the CDC, an agency that advises the country’s health systems about how to protect people against the virus, underscore the difficulties confronting health workers across the nation and illustrate a challenge for the Trump administration, which has faced criticism over its response to the outbreak.

[..] The CDC recommends that so-called “secondary” screeners, who meet with passengers who have traveled to certain countries, such as China, wear a surgical mask, gloves and eye protection, Nordlund said. Secondary screeners are advised to stand six feet away from passengers they observe and do not wear the sturdier N95 masks, also known as respirators, because they aren’t exposed to symptomatic travelers, she said. N95 masks are designed to protect screeners from the smaller pathogens such as coronavirus which can penetrate deeper into the lungs. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, surgical masks are not designed to block very small particles, such as those transmitted by coughs and sneezes, and do not provide complete protection because of the loose fit.


Nordlund said that CDC’s guidance calls for screeners who meet with people exhibiting obvious signs of illness to wear N95 respirators and other protective gear. But people infected with the coronavirus do not necessarily exhibit obvious signs of illness. “Surgical masks won’t protect us from getting the virus – they just protect us from infecting someone else,” the CDC medical official involved in screening said. “We want to know why we can’t wear N-95 masks. It’s crazy.” “You might as well have a tissue over your face for all the good it will do,” the official added.

Read more …

Getting close.

One Tests Positive After Conference Also Attended By Trump, Pence, Pompeo (X.)

An attendee at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which U.S. President Donald Trump also attended, has tested positive for COVID-19, the American Conservative Union (ACU) said on Saturday. The exposure occurred prior to the conference held in National Harbor, U.S. state of Maryland, just south of Washington D.C., said the ACU, a conservative grassroots organization, in a statement. A New Jersey hospital tested the person, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the positive result, said the statement. “The individual is under the care of medical professionals in the state of New Jersey, and has been quarantined,” it said. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the gathering, which took place from Feb. 26 to Feb. 29.


Also present at the event were a number of administration and cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and newly-appointed White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Saturday that the White House is aware of the attendee testing positive for the virus. “At this time there is no indication that either President Trump or Vice President Pence met with or were in close proximity to the attendee,” Grisham said in a statement. “The president’s physician and United States Secret Service have been working closely with White House Staff and various agencies to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the First Family and the entire White House Complex safe and healthy.”

Read more …

Yeah, sure, going for the cheap effect. But this woman is just 36 years old, not 86. Maybe the photo can bring this home.

Nebraska Woman Rushed To Bio-Containment Unit In Specialized Isolation Pod (DM)

In Nebraska, there were dramatic scenes as a woman who tested positive for the virus was rushed from a community hospital to the nation’s leading biocontainment unit at he University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha. The 36-year-old Nebraska resident was photographed being transported to the facility in a hi-tech isolation pod late Friday. The woman, who is the first person in Nebraska to test positive to coronavirus, is ‘very seriously ill’, according to doctors who spoke with Omaha.com Saturday. A chest CT scan conducted yesterday showed the coronavirus is evolving into acute respiratory distress syndrome (ADRS). The syndrome, which is characterized by a rapid onset of widespread inflammation in the lungs, is often fatal. People with ARDS suffer severe shortness of breath and often are unable to breathe on their own without support from a ventilator.


The woman reportedly traveled to England with her father February 18 to February 27. She began to feel ill on February 25, two days before she flew back to the United States. Doctors say they are still trying to piece together where she went and who she had contact with in the 10 days since she arrived back from overseas. According to doctors, her symptoms were quite mild until this Thursday, when she arrived at a local emergency room. As her condition took a turn for the worse Friday, a decision was made to move her from Omaha’s Methodist Hospital to the to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. [..] the woman was place in an isolation pod, made of heavy duty plastic and complete with a dozen ports for ventilators and other tubes. Medics donned plastic face shields, rubber gloves and rain boots as they moved her from the ambulance in a stretcher.


A woman who tested positive with the coronavirus is brought to the University of Nebraska Medical Center on Friday. She was transferred from Omaha’s Methodist Hospital in an isolation pod inside an ambulance ©AP

Read more …

Things move fast: mere hours after the closure of Lombardy is reported, a new report says a “Quarter Of Italy’s Population Put In Quarantine” in 11-14 provinces.

Italy To Quarantine Whole Of Lombardy Due To Coronavirus (O.)

The Italian government is to lockdown the northern region of Lombardy, as it battles to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A draft decree would extend the quarantined areas, so-called “red-zones”, ordering people not to enter or leave the region. The country is grappling to contain Europe’s worst outbreak of Covid-19, which has claimed 233 lives and infected a total of 5,883 people. Italian authorities announced that a new decree containing draconian measures would be approved later on Saturday. It will include the power to impose fines on anyone caught entering or leaving Lombardy, the worst-affected region, until 3 April. People may be allowed in and out for serious reasons. The decree provides for banning all public events, closing cinemas, theatres, gyms, discos and pubs. Religious ceremonies such as funerals and weddings will also be banned.


Rome is also considering prolonging the closure of schools across the country until 3 April, while major sporting events, such as Serie A football games, will be played behind closed doors. The number of coronavirus cases in Italy leapt by more than 1,200 in a 24-hour period, the civil protection agency said on Saturday. It is the biggest daily rise since the outbreak began two weeks ago. The number of cases in the country rose to 5,883 on Saturday from 4,636 announced on Friday, with the spread showing little sign of slowing. In total there are now 5,061 cases, not including those who have died or recovered. The northern regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto are the hardest hit, representing 85% of cases and 92% of recorded deaths. “We will win this battle if our citizens adopt a responsible attitude and change their way of living,” the head of Italy’s civil protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, told a press conference.

Read more …

Ben Hunt: “Italy is a time machine that shows us our future.”

Quarter Of Italy’s Population Put In Quarantine (O.)

Italy has formally locked down more than a quarter of its population in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, as the outbreak reached Washington DC and a political convention attended by Donald Trump and Mike Pence. More than 5,800 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Italy, after an alarming increase of more than 1,200 in a single 24-hour period. Two hundred and thirty-three people have died. Almost 100 countries are now responding to outbreaks. In the early hours of Sunday, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree enacting forced quarantine for the region of Lombardy – home to more than 10 million people and the financial capital, Milan – and multiple other provinces, totalling around 16 million residents.

https://twitter.com/Dr_FarrisD/status/1236057723621568512

Affected provinces include Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, and Treviso. The lockdown decree includes the power to impose fines on anyone caught entering or leaving Lombardy, the worst-affected region, until 3 April. It provides for the banning of all public events, closing cinemas, theatres, gyms, discos and pubs. Religious ceremonies such as funerals and weddings will also be prohibited, and leave for healthcare workers has been cancelled. Rome is also prolonging the closure of schools across the country until at least 3 April, while major sporting events, such as Serie A football games, will be played behind closed doors.

Read more …

And forget about soccer Eurocup, Olympics etc.

Head Of Italy Players’ Union Calls For Soccer To Stop (R.)

The President of Italy’s players’ union (AIC) has called for soccer to be stopped in the country amid reports that the entire region of Lombardy will be locked down as part of efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. The Italian government has ordered all sporting competitions to be played behind closed doors until April 3 in a bid to control the spread of the disease, which has killed around 200 people in the country. And tough new measures are expected to be approved on Saturday that will tell people not to enter or leave Lombardy, home to around 10 million people, as well as 11 provinces in four other regions.


Damiano Tommasi, head of the players’ union, responded to the news on Twitter by posting a link to the story and issuing a plea to stop games from going ahead. He wrote: “Let’s stop the league!! Do we need anything else? Stop football!!” Tommasi also issued a statement on the AIC website earlier in the day outlining his concerns for players’ welfare. “There is a risk for players and we must take all precautions for the security of those who play: on the pitch you certainly can’t stay at a distance of one meter away. “But every measure must be taken to guarantee the safety of everyone at the stadium, including staff and personnel, to reduce the risks.

Read more …

A long time coming.

Lebanon To Default On Foreign Debt Payments For First Time (BBC)

Lebanon is to default on a foreign debt payment for the first time in its history as the country struggles with a major financial crisis. Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Lebanon would not be making a bond payment of $1.2bn due on Monday. “The debt has become bigger than Lebanon can bear, and bigger than the ability of the Lebanese to meet interest payments,” Mr Diab said. Lebanon has been struggling since the value of its currency plummeted. The Lebanese pound has been losing value against the dollar for months, in part because the country’s banks have been reluctant to convert local pounds to dollars – leading to an increase in demand for the latter.


This issue with foreign exchange has led to importers having difficulty accessing goods, which have become more expensive. Those with savings have also been affected by the drop in value of the local currency. In a live televised address on Saturday, Mr Diab said that negotiations to restructure the country’s debt, which stands at more than $30bn, would continue “with all creditors… in a manner consistent with the national interest”. Mr Diab added that more than 40% of the population could soon be in poverty as Lebanon tackles its worst economic crisis in decades.

Read more …

From a few days ago, before the default was announced. France is heavily involved. And the IMF deal should be there any moment now.

IMF Deal Would Spark ‘Popular Revolution’ In Lebanon – Hezbollah (R.)

Hezbollah believes that terms required by any IMF bailout package for Lebanon would spark “a popular revolution”, a senior official said on Tuesday, rejecting such a step and calling instead for a “national solution” to a deep economic crisis. Lebanon is in the throes of an unprecedented economic crisis, the result of long-entrenched corruption and bad governance that have landed the state with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens. Hezbollah, a heavily armed Shi’ite group which is backed by Iran and designated a terrorist organization by Washington, is one of the main backers of a new government that has sought technical but not financial aid from the International Monetary Fund.


Long-standing financial backer France said last week it was looking at options to support Lebanon, including through an IMF program if Beirut sought one. Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah told Reuters the group was against the type of terms typically imposed by the IMF as part of a bailout such as taxes, privatization, reducing the size of the public sector and halting subsidies. “The position is not toward the Fund as an international financial institution but on the terms offered to Lebanon, because they will lead to a popular revolution,” he said. “Our position is against this type of program and not against the Fund as an organization.”

Read more …

Most notable: Erdogan keeps the peace for now.

US Blocks UN Statement Backing Syria Ceasefire (Ditz)

The ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib Province took effect on Friday, and has been holding so far. With every other nation on board, the US blocked a joint UN statement backing the ceasefire, saying it was “premature” to do so. The ceasefire was brokered by Turkey and Russia, and that’s almost certainly the problem from the US perspective. The US broadly refuses to back any Syria agreements Russia is involved in. US officials had also been loudly backing Turkey’s military offensive in Idlib, and probably aren’t happy that Turkey has made a deal not to go to war. US officials weren’t super on board with directly participating in a Turkey-instigated war, but were only too happy to give lip-service to it. Having the UN back a ceasefire, even if it is one not expected to necessarily survive, is usually the norm, though the US may find, in seeking backing for its Afghan deal, they may face similar resistance.

Read more …

RT adds a “nice” twist. There are rumors that King Salman has either already died or is about to, and MbS is consolidating his power before his death leads to a revolt.

Top Saudi Royals ‘Arrested For Plotting With Americans Against King’ (RT)

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has had his relatives arrested for plotting a coup against him and King Salman with the help of “foreign powers, including the Americans,” Western media claim. RT asked Middle East analysts to weigh in. Three senior members of the Saudi Royal family were arrested on Friday, several Western media outlets have reported, citing sources. The list of detainees includes prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew and former crown prince, and Nawaf bin Nayef, the younger half-brother of Prince Nayef, as reported by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has allegedly accused them of treason, namely “conducting contacts with foreign powers, including the Americans and others, to carry out a coup d’etat” against King Salman and his son, Reuters, which has also picked up the news, added, citing own sources. While Western media is not above publishing unverified rumors about the ‘regimes’ they dislike, some of which have turned out to be utterly fake, there is no easy way to verify reports on the secretive world of Saudi court affairs. One has to bear in mind the possibility someone in Riyadh has purposefully fed the news to the media. While the reports of the high-profile arrests have yet to be confirmed by Saudi Arabia, they wouldn’t be unprecedented.


The allegations of foreign involvement may be meant for domestic consumption in Saudi Arabia and nothing to do with international politics, believes Sergey Balmasov from the Moscow-based Institute for the Near East. “What other foreign meddler could they have named? Accusing, for example Iran would have not been credible,” he explained. The US has great influence in the Saudi military and intelligence services, thanks to decades of training their members, Balmasov added. So if the US as a nation were actually determined to effect a regime change in Saudi Arabia, “a different person would have now been in the palace.” If the US really needed this, a bloodless coup would have happened already, and I’m sure many Americans wouldn’t have even noticed.

Read more …

Sorry, but no. Putin started this by refusing OPEC+ production cuts. Saudi merely reacted to that.

Saudi Arabia Starts All-Out Oil War (ZH)

With the commodity world still smarting from the Nov 2014 Saudi decision to (temporarily) break apart OPEC, and flood the market with oil in (failed) hopes of crushing US shale producers (who survived thanks to generous banks extending loan terms and even more generous buyers of junk bonds), which nonetheless resulted in a painful manufacturing recession as the price of Brent cratered as low as the mid-$20’s in late 2015/early 2016, on Saturday, Saudi Arabia launched its second scorched earth, or rather scorched oil campaign in 6 years. And this time there will be blood.

Following Friday’s shocking collapse of OPEC+, when Russia and Riyadh were unable to reach an agreement during the OPEC+ summit in Vienna which was seeking up to 1.5 million b/d in further oil production cuts, on Saturday Saudi Arabia kick started what Bloomberg called an all-out oil war, slashing official pricing for its crude and making the deepest cuts in at least 20 years on its main grades, in an effort to push as many barrels into the market as possible. In the first major marketing decision since the meeting, the Saudi state producer Aramco, which successfully IPOed just before the price of oil cratered launched unprecedented discounts and cut its April pricing for crude sales to Asia by $4-$6 a barrel and to the U.S. by a whopping $7 a barrel in attempts to steal market share from 3rd party sources, according to a copy of the announcement seen by Bloomberg.


In the most significant move, Aramco widened the discount for its flagship Arab Light crude to refiners in north-west Europe by a hefty $8 a barrel, offering it at $10.25 a barrel under the Brent benchmark. In contrast, Urals, the Russian flagship crude blend, trades at a discount of about $2 a barrel under Brent. Traders said the Saudi move was a direct attack at the ability of Russian companies to sell crude in Europe. Confirming the obvious, Iman Nasseri, managing director for the Middle East at oil consultant FGE said “Saudi Arabia is now really going into a full price war.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

If you read us, please support us. It’s the only way the Automatic Earth can survive. Donate on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Mar 062020
 
 March 6, 2020  Posted by at 11:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Russell Lee Proprietor of small store in market square, Waco, Texas Nov 1939

 

China Pharma Exports Cut Would “Plunge US Into Mighty Sea Of Coronavirus” (ZH)
Coronavirus Could Erase $211 Billion From Asia-Pacific Economies – S&P (R.)
South Korea Protests Japan Travel Curbs As Corona Ignites Diplomatic Row (R.)
Vietnam Able To Make 10,000 Coronavirus Test Kits Per Day (VnE)
Boeing 737 MAX Certification Flight Could Come Within ‘A Few Weeks’ (R.)
Trump Attacks Biden’s Cognitive Health (G.)
Romney Says US Senate Republican Probe Of Biden Appears Political (R.)
Senator Schumer Expresses Regret For Supreme Court Comments (R.)
Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign Fell Apart In The Fall, And It Never Recovered (IC)
FBI Agents Linked To Carter Page Surveillance Barred From FISA Process (Turley)
Uneasy Calm In Syria’s Idlib As Russia-Turkey Ceasefire Takes Effect (R.)
Turkey Sends 1,000 Special Forces To EU Border To Prevent Migrant Return (ZH)
Erdogan’s Attempts to Blackmail Europe are Doomed to Fail (Coughlin)

 

 

The coronavirus focus shifts decidedly to the west. The increases in cases in the US and many European countries are scary. Greece from 9 to 31 cases, Germany doubles to 577, Netherlands have their first death. It’s been a while since we saw over 3,000 new cases in a day. The last time was when most were still in China.

We’ll pass 100,000 cases later today.

And judging from what US political figures and pundits say these days, you’d swear the virus may have reached their brains.

 

Cases 98,928 (+ 3,048 from Tuesday’s 95,880)

Deaths 3,390 (+ 102 from yesterday’s 3,288)

 

• Italy cases rise to 3,859 from 3,090 yesterday

• Netherlands cases rise from 38 to 82 (First death today)

• Germany cases from 283 to 577

• France cases from 285 to 423

• US cases from 158 to 233

• Canada cases from 37 to 48

• Sweden 52 to 101

• Belgium 23 to 50

• Greece 9 to 31

 

 

• Iran shuts 60,000 mosques.

Ben Hunt on Twitter:
• Just heard that Wells Fargo ordered employees to cancel all domestic travel plans, likely to require employees to work from home starting Monday. Wells Fargo has >270,000 employees.
• Walmart canceled a national meeting next week in Dallas of senior execs, store managers and distributors. Domestic travel eliminated.
• Dupont has grounded all domestic and int’l employee travel, banned all visitors from office meetings, and is exploring mandatory WFH.
• Procter & Gamble is doing the same with travel and visitors.

 

 

• Rudy Havenstein: “HEALTH NEWS: When you get the coronavirus, the official CDC recommendation to treat a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever is to lower the rate hedge funds can borrow at from 1.5% to 0%, and increase Treasury purchases to $200 billion per month.”

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer (Note: mortality rate at 6%):

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

The benefits of globalization keep on giving.

China Pharma Exports Cut Would “Plunge US Into Mighty Sea Of Coronavirus” (ZH)

China’s CCP media mouthpiece, Xinhua News, has published a new article titled “Be bold: the world owes China a thank you.” In it, the author suggests that the coronavirus outbreak is much worse in the United States than authorities are letting on – while noting that President Trump praised China’s measures to control the outbreak during a recent press conference. Xinhua also points out that the US stock market “has plummeted continuously, with a drop of more than 12% in just one week.” The article then suggests the travel ban imposed on China – including the restriction of people who have visited China – was ‘unkind,’ and has had a ‘great economic impact’ on the country. The punchline? If China retaliates against the United States at this time, including a travel ban or a strategic restriction over medical exports, America would be “plunged into the mighty sea of coronavirus.”

[..] 80% of present medicines consumed in the United States are produced in China. This includes Chinese companies and foreign drug companies that have outsourced their drug manufacture in joint ventures with Chinese partners. According to Rosemary Gibson of the Hastings Center bioethics research institute, who authored a book in 2018 on the theme, the dependency is more than alarming. Gibson cites medical newsletters giving the estimate that today some 80% of all pharmaceutical active ingredients in the USA are made in China. “It’s not just the ingredients. It’s also the chemical precursors, the chemical building blocks used to make the active ingredients. We are dependent on China for the chemical building blocks to make a whole category of antibiotics… known as cephalosporins. They are used in the United States thousands of times every day for people with very serious infections.”


The made in China drugs today include most antibiotics, birth control pills, blood pressure medicines such as valsartan, blood thinners such as heparin, and various cancer drugs. It includes such common medicines as penicillin, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and aspirin. The list also includes medications to treat HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, cancer, depression, epilepsy, among others. A recent Department of Commerce study found that 97 percent of all antibiotics in the United States came from China.

Read more …

Never a more hollow number was seen. Might as well be a rounding error.

Coronavirus Could Erase $211 Billion From Asia-Pacific Economies – S&P (R.)

A fast spreading coronavirus outbreak could knock $211 billion off the combined economies of the Asia-Pacific, with Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia among the most exposed, S&P Global Ratings said on Friday. S&P cut its 2020 growth forecast for China to 4.8% from previous estimate of 5.7%. It forecast Australian growth to slow sharply to 1.2% from an already below-trend 2.2% in 2019. Japan would take 0.5 percentage point hit and Korea a 1 percentage point knock. “The balance of risks remains to the downside due to local transmission, including in economies with low reported cases, secondary transmissions in China as people return to work and tighter financial conditions,” S&P said in a report.


In other forecasts, Hong Kong’s economy would likely contract by -0.8% in 2020, Singapore’s would flat line, and Thailand’s expansion likely slow to 1.6%. [..] S&P did not cut growth forecasts for emerging markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and India, citing the fact that reported infections in those countries were still low. However, it noted the outlook could quickly deteriorate if the low level of cases was due to minimal testing and if those countries were swept up in financial contagion.

Read more …

An ideal time to squabble. Well done.

South Korea Protests Japan Travel Curbs As Corona Ignites Diplomatic Row (R.)

South Korea issued a strongly worded protest on Friday against Japan’s decision to quarantine South Korean visitors for two weeks, as coronavirus containment measures ignited a fresh diplomatic row between the Asian nations. Japan joined the list of almost 100 countries that have imposed restrictions on South Korean travelers, barring arrivals from highly affected areas starting on Saturday and ordering a two-week quarantine for those from other regions. The South Korean foreign ministry said Japan’s ambassador would be summoned to explain Tokyo’s decision and receive a formal complaint. Seoul has previously summoned ambassadors from Vietnam and Singapore over similar travel restrictions.


“It is extremely regrettable Japan took this unreasonable and excessive step without sufficient prior consultation with us, and we strongly urge immediate reconsideration,” it said. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Seoul would respond with countermeasures, although he gave no details on what actions could be taken. The presidential Blue House discussed the issue at a meeting of its National Security Council, an official said. The row came as the number of new cases in South Korea, the country with the biggest outbreak of the flu-like virus outside China, fell to 196 from 760 the previous day, for a total of 6,284 infections. The death toll rose by seven to 42, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Read more …

Everyone’s better prepared than us.

Vietnam Able To Make 10,000 Coronavirus Test Kits Per Day (VnE)

The Ministry of Health has licensed commercial production of test kits that help diagnose the novel coronavirus infection in just one hour. It was developed jointly by the Vietnam Military Medical University and tech firm Viet A Corporation. It is based on reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), a technique that combines reverse transcription of RNA into DNA and amplification of specific DNA targets using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The kit can detect the new coronavirus in specimens of droplets obtained from the respiratory tract and blood samples.


Do Quyet, director of the university, said all tests done by the university and Viet A Corporation found the kit meeting World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards. Independent testing of the kit by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology on various disease samples using five different devices turned up completely accurate results every time, he said. [..] Phan Quoc Viet, CEO of Viet A, said his company could make 10,000 kits a day, and triple the capacity if needed. Authorities said this capacity would enable Vietnam to not only meet domestic demand but also export. China, the U.S., Japan, Germany, and now Vietnam are the only countries to make test kits for the new coronavirus.

Read more …

An A+ for timing. The industry announced just yesterday they expected losses of $120 billion or so.

Boeing 737 MAX Certification Flight Could Come Within ‘A Few Weeks’ (R.)

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration chief Stephen Dickson said on Thursday he thinks a certification test flight for the Boeing 737 MAX – a key milestone for the return of the grounded plane – could come soon. “We’re working though the last few software review and documentation issues and then I think within a matter of a few weeks we should be seeing a certification flight,” Dickson said at a Washington aviation conference. Reuters has previously reported that a certification flight is not expected until April and officials said that is still the case. The 737 MAX has been grounded for almost a year after two fatal crashes killed 346 people in five months.

Read more …

If you kill this an attack, you’ll run out of words soon.

Trump Attacks Biden’s Cognitive Health (G.)

Donald Trump attacked Joe Biden’s cognitive abilities on Thursday night during an event in the former-vice president’s hometown that could set the tone for an ugly general election. Appearing at a Fox News town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Trump – who has faced repeated scrutiny over his own mental acuity – said there was “something going on” with Biden, in what may prove a rehearsal for Republican attacks during the presidential election. Thursday marked Trump’s first public event since Biden’s surprisingly strong performance on Super Tuesday, when he won 10 out of 14 states available to propel him into the lead in the Democratic primary.


Trump said he had been “all set” to face Biden’s rival Bernie Sanders, whom he called a “communist”, until the recent vote. “Then we have this crazy thing that happened on Tuesday, which [Biden] thought was Thursday, but he also said 150 million people were killed with guns and that he was running for the United States Senate. There’s something going on there,” Trump said. Biden – who did say those things – has a track record of gaffes and has turned in bumbling debate performances, but Trump’s line of attack raised the unedifying spectacle of an election focused on two men in their 70s attacking each other’s alleged cognitive decline.

Read more …

What sounds really political is Romney saying it.

Romney Says US Senate Republican Probe Of Biden Appears Political (R.)

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to vote to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power following his impeachment, said on Thursday a Senate Republican investigation of Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden appeared politically motivated. Romney told reporters a probe of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson would be better pursued by the FBI or another federal agency “if there’s something of significance that needs to be evaluated.” Johnson is poised to issue the first subpoena in an investigation of Hunter Biden’s seat on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma when his father was U.S. vice president. Hunter Biden’s role has been attacked as corrupt without evidence by Trump and congressional Republicans.


“There’s no question but that the appearance of looking into Burisma and Hunter Biden appears political. And I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations,” Romney, a member of the homeland security panel, said. Trump was impeached on abuse-of-power and obstruction charges in the Democratic-led House of Representatives after he asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in July. He was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats said Trump was trying to shore up his re-election prospects by targeting Biden. Trump continues to question Hunter Biden’s position at Burisma. “That will be a major issue in the campaign,” Trump told Fox News on Wednesday night. “I will bring that up all the time.”

Read more …

Brain virus.

Senator Schumer Expresses Regret For Supreme Court Comments (R.)

Chuck Schumer, the top U.S. Senate Democrat, expressed regret on Thursday for remarks he made a day earlier that two Supreme Court justices appointed by President Donald Trump would “pay the price” if they rule in favor of abortion restrictions. “I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn’t have used the words I did. But in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing,” Schumer said on the Senate floor amid Republican demands that he apologize for his comments about Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Schumer seemed to stop short of a full apology, saying instead that the words he used during an abortion rights rally outside the Supreme Court building directed at the two conservative justices “didn’t come out the way I intended to.”

“Of course I didn’t intend to suggest anything other than political and public-opinion consequences for the Supreme Court. And it’s a gross distortion to imply otherwise,” Schumer said. Fifteen Republican lawmakers introduced a Senate resolution on Thursday seeking to formally censure Schumer for what they called his “threatening statements” and to call on senators to “respect the independence” of the federal judiciary. At the Wednesday rally, Schumer said the two justices “won’t know what hit you” if they rule in favor of abortion restrictions in a case the Supreme Court was hearing that day involving a challenge to the legality of a Louisiana law that could make the procedure more difficult to obtain. “I want to tell you Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh – you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said during the speech.


Chief Justice John Roberts hours later condemned Schumer’s comments as “inappropriate” and “dangerous.”

Read more …

She herself looks on the edge of falling apart too.

Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign Fell Apart In The Fall, And It Never Recovered (IC)

Throughout 2019, Uncle Joe was barely touched by his opponents, each of whom hoped that either somebody else would hit him first or that Biden would just self-combust. Nobody wanted to look like they were doing Trump’s bidding, as he went after Biden relentlessly for corruption in Ukraine. And the two candidates who hit Biden head-on — Kamala Harris and Julián Castro — soon enough became cautionary tales. But had Warren done to Biden in the fall what she did to Bloomberg just recently, she may not have been the one to pay the price.

If a genuine ideological debate had broke out between Biden and Warren over the social role of Wall Street and corporate America, while Sanders was still struggling to escape the low double digits, a large swath of progressives may have rallied to Warren, eager for the fight. Warren had come into public life battling Biden over bankruptcy, and some of her harshest rhetoric ever has been directed at him, particularly as she warned that “senators like Joe Biden should not be allowed to sell out women in the morning and be heralded as their friend in the evening.” Instead, campaign advisers argued that the race should be treated more as if it was a game of golf — each player hitting their own shots, aiming for the best round — rather than boxing, where a punch is blocked and met with a counterpunch.


Warren situated her campaign as the heir to several generations of persistent women — from the Bread and Roses strike, to the garment workers in New York, washerwomen in Atlanta, and janitors in Los Angeles — but stopped short of taking the fight directly to Biden until it was too late. (Though she did bury Buttigieg in a wine cave, which must have been satisfying, if not ultimately enough to win.) On Super Tuesday, it became clear that in a contest for the support of suburban voters, Sanders is at a major disadvantage. That’s not the case with Warren, but by the time that contest came, she was no longer in it.

Read more …

After obtaining numerous -fraudulent- FISA applications.

FBI Agents Linked To Carter Page Surveillance Barred From FISA Process (Turley)

In a further demonstration of the abuses that led to the surveillance of Trump officials, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court has barred FBI officials involved in the wiretapping of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page from appearing before the court. in rebuke that exceeded the remedial recommendations made by the independent monitor recently appointed by the court. Notably, this goes beyond the recommendations for David Kris, the highly controversial choice as an independent monitor of reforms. The order of Judge Boasberg further belies arguments that the surveillance of the Trump-relate figures was well-based and justified, as I discussed in any earlier column.


Boasberg declared “FBI personnel under disciplinary review in relation to their work on FISA applications accordingly should not participate in drafting, verifying, reviewing, or submitting such applications to the Court while the review is pending. The same prohibition applies to any DOJ attorney under disciplinary review, as well as any DOJ or FBI personnel who are the subject of a criminal referral related to their work on FISA applications.” We will have to wait to see if there are meaningful reforms of this court. Boasberg made a baffling mistake in the appointment of Kris. Moreover, this is not a permanent ban. Most importantly, Sen. Rand Paul is being opposed in his efforts to put serious protections in place, including opposition from the Justice Department.

Read more …

Rania Khalek has an excellent overview of the years of western involvement that led to the mess.

The ceasefire doesn’t solve a thing though. Assad and Putin will never accept a terrorist enclave in Syria. They want Al Qeada et al gone. But to achieve that, Turkey will have to withdraw first. That is what Erdogan and Putin discussed for 6 hours yesterday.

Uneasy Calm In Syria’s Idlib As Russia-Turkey Ceasefire Takes Effect (R.)

Syria’s war-battered Idlib region was quiet but tense on Friday as a ceasefire deal between Moscow and Ankara took effect, with residents and opposition forces describing a lull in air raids that have pounded the last rebel-held enclave in Syria. Russia and Turkey made the agreement on Thursday evening, after six hours of talks in Moscow, to contain a conflict that has displaced nearly a million people in three months in northwest Syria. Russia and NATO-member Turkey back opposing sides in Syria’s nine-year-old war. Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey backs some rebel groups, and the two sides had been edging closer to direct confrontation in recent weeks.


Several previous deals to end the fighting in Idlib have collapsed. Analysts and residents said they feared the latest ceasefire would also fizzle out as it did not address the humanitarian crisis or air protection in any detail. “This deal isn’t designed to last, rather it is designed to fail – and I am afraid in the not too distant future,” said Galip Dalay, IPC-Mercator fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. “Any ceasefire arrangement in Idlib, unless it has a no-fly zone dimension, is bound to fail. Deals in the past never de-escalated. They merely froze the crisis until the next escalation.”

Read more …

Somebody needs to stop Erdogan in Europe, and Putin doesn’t see that as his job.

Turkey Sends 1,000 Special Forces To EU Border To Prevent Migrant Return (ZH)

Starting last week multiple journalists published proof that Turkish authorities were actively facilitating refugee and migrant movement toward EU borders after Erdogan began making good on his prior threat to ‘open the gates’ — angry over the unfolding Idlib crisis. This included footage of buses staged in Istanbul and other cities to take thousands to the land border with Greece. And now Ankara is now openly saying it’s implemented a policy of not only pushing migrants to the border, but ensuring they won’t come back — even after Greece shut its border and has been seen using harsh tactics to keep people from entering in a heightened militarized response.


Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced Thursday the deployment of 1,000 special operations police officers to ensure migrants can’t return. “Turkey will deploy 1,000 special operations police officers to prevent migrant pushback at the border,” the minister said, according to Turkey’s Daily Sabah. The newspaper reported further: “Soylu told reporters that the European Union’s border protection agency Frontex and Greece have pushed 4,900 migrants back to Turkey since March 1.” He also claimed 164 migrants had been injured by Greek border security and Frontex. The interior minister also estimated that almost 140,000 migrants are in the first wave headed toward Europe, which began departing Turkey last Friday.

Read more …

Erdogan sees Brussels as weak. Who’s going to prove him wrong? Or, put another way: what does Erdogan have to lose?

Erdogan’s Attempts to Blackmail Europe are Doomed to Fail (Coughlin)

If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes he can bully European leaders by provoking a fresh migrant crisis in southern Europe, then he would be well-advised to think again. Ankara’s announcement that it is once again opening the floodgates to allow millions of refugees from Syria’s brutal civil war to travel to south-eastern Europe in search of refuge has been taken to persuade European leaders to back Turkey’s increasingly desperate situation in Syria. Having launched an ill-considered military offensive against the Assad regime in northern Syria, Mr Erdogan now finds himself facing the consequences of his action, with regime forces, backed by Russia and Iran, waging a highly effective campaign against the Turks, which has so far resulted in the deaths of scores of Turkish troops.

In addition, Turkey’s decision to deploy thousands of troops to Idlib province in northern Syria has resulted in a fresh wave of refugees fleeing across the border into southern Turkey, where Turkish officials are already struggling to cope with the estimated four million Syrian refugees that have already sought sanctuary in the sprawling refugee camps. One of the main reasons that Mr Erdogan now finds himself facing this difficult predicament is that he has badly underestimated the nature of his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


When Turkey took the controversial decision last year to purchase Russia’s state-of-the-art S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, Mr Erdogan calculated that it would herald new era of friendly cooperation with Ankara’s long-standing rival in Moscow even if, by pressing ahead with the deal, the Turks risked jeopardising their relationship with NATO, which bitterly opposed the deal. There was certainly an expectation in Ankara that improved relations with Moscow would result in better cooperation between the two countries on the post-conflict settlement in Syria, especially regarding Turkey’s desire to establish a safe zone in northern Syria.

Read more …

 

 

 

If you read us, please support us. It’s the only way the Automatic Earth can survive. Donate on Paypal and Patreon.

 

Dec 102019
 
 December 10, 2019  Posted by at 9:48 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  17 Responses »


John Vachon Hull-Rust-Mahoning pit, largest open pit iron mine in the world, Hibbing, Minnesota Aug 1941

 

FBI’s Trump-Russia Inquiry Wasn’t Biased Against President – IG (G.)
Barr: FBI Launched An Intrusive Investigation’ Of A Presidential Campaign (SAC)
IG Report Lays Out Compelling Evidence FBI Misled FISA Court (Solomon)
The War of the Narratives (Kunstler)
The Great American Shakedown (Chris Hedges)
Why Tulsi Gabbard Should Not Skip The Next Debate (Mercier)
Bannon: Hillary Will Run In 2020 To ‘Save Dems From Michael Bloomberg’ (ZH)
Ex-Boeing Employee Who Warned About 737 Problems To Testify At Hearing (R.)
Ukraine, Russia Agree On Full Ceasefire In East Ukraine Before 2019-End (R.)
Ghislaine Maxwell Planning TV Tell-All About Epstein Scandal (NYPost)

 

 

It has become inevitable in America that completely different conclusions are drawn based on the same facts. Here’s the Guardian for the “left”…

FBI’s Trump-Russia Inquiry Wasn’t Biased Against President – IG (G.)

An FBI investigation into the Donald Trump election campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia was justified and not motivated by political bias against him, a government watchdog has concluded. A report by the justice department’s inspector general demolished three years of claims by the president that he was the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy and that the investigation was based on a dossier compiled by an ex-British intelligence operative, Christopher Steele. “The report issued today by the inspector general debunks the conspiracy theories about the Mueller report and the Russia investigation that President Trump and Republicans in Congress have pushed for years,” Jerrold Nadler, the chair of the House judiciary committee, and Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the House oversight committee, said in a joint statement.

“Those discredited conspiracy theories were attempts to deflect from the president’s serious and ongoing misconduct, first urging Russia and now extorting Ukraine into interfering with our elections to benefit himself personally and politically.” But the inspector general Michael Horowitz’s report did pinpoint “serious performance failures” in the monitoring of a Trump aide, which the president’s allies seized on in an attempt to claim vindication. Horowitz identified 17 “significant inaccuracies or omissions” in applications for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance or Fisa court to monitor the communications of the former Trump adviser Carter Page and subsequent warrant renewals.

The errors resulted in “applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case”, the report said, although the FBI had a legal “authorized purpose” to ask for court approval. The attorney general, William Barr, rejected Horowitz’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the investigation. “The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a US presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said.

Read more …

…and Sara Carter for the right:

Barr: FBI Launched An Intrusive Investigation’ Of A Presidential Campaign (SAC)

Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr responded Monday to the release of the DOJ Inspector General’s report stating that the FBI ‘launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.” Barr blasted the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team that led the investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and the evidence uncovered by Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the bureau agents withheld exculpatory information from the secret court, failed to adequately vet the information supplied by former British spy Christopher Steele and moved forward to spy on the Trump campaign knowing they misled the FISA court.

“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” said Barr. “It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration.” “In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source,” Barr said.

“The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.”

Read more …

And then there’s John Solomon:

IG Report Lays Out Compelling Evidence FBI Misled FISA Court (Solomon)

The Justice Department inspector general’s report into the Russia collusion investigation lays out incontrovertible evidence that the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court through false information and omissions, according to sources familiar with its findings. The evidence that the judges were misled is so sweeping that it could provide grounds, if Attorney General William Barr chooses, to withdraw the FBI’s application for the surveillance warrants that began in October 2016 to target ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the sources added. Such a move, while mostly legally symbolic since the probe is long since closed, would still amount to a resounding rebuke to an FBI probe that the bureau, Democrats and their media allies relentlessly defended.

[..] “The evidence of false statements, false information, deception through omission is going to raise an important debate about FISA,” one source told me. The report is expected to conclude the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia in 2016 was adequately predicated but that its subsequent reliance on the so-called Steele dossier and execution of FISA warrants to assist the probe were problematic. That reliance became even more troubling in early 2017 when the FBI conducted an interview with one of Christopher Steele’s sources that raised further concerns about the reliability of a dossier that was funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

One question, the sources said, is whether FBI officials with access to the facts failed to adequately divulge issues in the case to those officials who signed the warrant, which was approved Oct 21, 2016 and renewed three times in 2017. Inspector General Michael Horowitz is slated to release the report midday Monday after briefing certain congressional oversight committees.

Read more …

“The New York Times is the Resistance’s obverse measuring device for divining reality..”

The War of the Narratives (Kunstler)

Jim Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Stzrok, Lisa Page, Michael Atkinson — all either discharged or moved onto other thickets in the reeking wetland of Washington DC. Anyway, the coup ranged far beyond the bounds of Mr. Horowitz’s scope on FISA abuse. Among those many others, the IG was not authorized to interrogate former CIA chief John Brennan, the Lone Ranger of RussiaGate, or James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, Mr. Brennan’s faithful Tonto in the scam. Mr. Horowitz’s report will be necessarily incomplete. At most, it might provide a preview of the comprehensive legal review being carried out by the attorney general, Mr. Barr, and his deputy, the Connecticut federal prosecutor, John Durham.

I suspect that Mr. Barr has instructed Mr. Horowitz to be careful with his conclusions, since any further attempts to obfuscate the facts and excuse official misconduct on squishy grounds such as intent will tend to worsen the already gross institutional damage done to federal law enforcement. One character who has not been heard from lo these many months is former deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr, who was not fired, but transferred to some harmless backwater of the Justice Department to answer agency parking violations, or something equally harmless. I suspect Mr. Ohr may have played a decisive role in the IG inquiry, and possibly flipped on his colleagues, since Mr. Ohr was in the uniquely uncomfortable position of having a wife, Nellie Ohr, in the direct employ of Fusion GPS, Hillary Clinton’s oppo research contractor. Mr. Ohr additionally consorted with Fusion’s front man, Mr. Steele, after Steele was officially fired as a paid FBI source. Mr. Ohr will surely play a role on the Durham side of things.

[..] The New York Times is the Resistance’s obverse measuring device for divining reality — whatever they report is likely to be the opposite of the facts. So, naturally, the Monday morning edition is playing-up the supposedly nefarious doings of Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine. In fact, Mr. Giuliani has managed to depose (and record on video) two Ukrainian chief prosecutors, Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko who are deeply familiar with the machinations around the inquiries into Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas company that put coke-head Hunter Biden on its board of directors while dad Joe Biden was directing on-the-ground US policy there — and bribed the Ukraine government to back off its investigations.

The essence of this colossal radioactive hairball of an historic scandal pulsates in the malicious prosecution of General Michael Flynn. Weeks ago, his new attorney, Sidney Powell, filed requests for DOJ documents containing exculpatory information in the case. The prosecutors, put in by Robert Mueller, stalled on the request, so Ms. Powell asked for an official pause until the Horowitz report is issued, possibly containing information pertinent to the general’s case. Be alert to developments on that front.

Read more …

Chris Hedges sums up how “The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership [..] have squandered their credibility”.

The Great American Shakedown (Chris Hedges)

The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership have failed, even after their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, to understand that they, along with the traditional Republican elites, have squandered their credibility. No one believes them. And no one should. They squandered their credibility by promising that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would, as claimed by President Bill Clinton, create 200,000 new, well-paying jobs per year; instead, several million jobs were lost. They squandered it by allowing corporations to move production overseas and hire foreign workers at daily wages that did not equal what a U.S. unionized worker made in an hour, a situation that obliterated the bargaining power of the American working class.

They squandered it by allowing corporations to use the threat of “offshoring” production to destroy unions, suppress wages, extract draconian concessions and push millions of workers into the temp and gig economies, where there are no benefits or job security and pay is 60% or less of what a full-time employee in the regular economy receives. They squandered it by forcing working men and women to take two or three jobs to support a family, jacking up household debt to $13.95 trillion. They squandered it by redirecting wealth upward, so that during the Clinton administration alone 45 percent of all income growth went to the wealthiest 1%. They squandered it by wiping out small farmers in Mexico, driving some 3 million of them off their lands and forcing many to migrate in desperation to the United States, a human tide that saw the U.S. right wing and President Trump direct mounting rage toward immigrants.

They squandered it by turning our great cities into urban wastelands. They squandered it by slashing welfare and social service programs. They squandered it by supporting endless, futile wars that have an overall price tag of between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. They squandered it by setting up a surveillance system to spy on every American and then lying about it. They squandered it by catering to the big banks and gutting financial regulations, precipitating the 2008 economic meltdown. They squandered it by looting the U.S. Treasury to bail out banks and financial firms guilty of massive financial crimes, ordering the Federal Reserve to hand over an estimated $29 trillion to the global financiers responsible for the crash.


Mr. Fish / Truthdig

Read more …

Tulsi has not explained why she won’t be in the debate.

Why Tulsi Gabbard Should Not Skip The Next Debate (Mercier)

On the morning of December 9th, Americans woke up to devastating and shocking news that was the Afghanistan papers. Generals and leaders from the highest echelons of the American military apparatus — the Blob — admitting confusion, defeat, and carelessness in an effort that cost the American people trillions of dollars and countless lives. That night, the only candidate running for President to end these wars and bring our troops home, Tulsi Gabbard, announced that she would not be attending the December democratic debate, whether or not she met the threshold, and provided no explanation (other than the fact that she would instead spend that time in New Hampshire and South Carolina).

Congresswoman Gabbard is only one qualifying poll away from making the important debate and has crossed the 200,000 donor threshold as well. Just last week, the once self-proclaimed “top-tier” candidate Kamala Harris dropped out after a sharp decline in polling and fundraising that started with Tulsi’s blistering public attack of her record during the July debate. Since then, Tulsi has seen her poll numbers remain fairly steady around 2–4%, but has seen some strong polling performances in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. Another presidential debate is arguably one of the best ways to reach a large number of people and to generate media coverage. She should not sit on the sidelines.


Tulsi Gabbard is not Joe Biden now or Trump in 2016. Stepping away to protest unfair rules or bias against her would not make an impact at her polling level. She should utilize every chance in these critical days before the Iowa caucuses to put her ideas in front of the American people. While much of the attacks come to her from the Democratic party, she is, in fact, one of the most progressive candidates on the stage. She should’ve made it a mission to expand her base by talking about her landmark ‘single-payer-plus’ healthcare plan, climate change, education, and other issues of importance at the next debate. Two months before the first votes are cast, she is still virtually unknown by most Americans and has not been able to prove her policy chops on issues outside that of foreign policy.

Read more …

It appears very likely Hillary will jump in. But not because of Bloomberg.

Bannon: Hillary Will Run In 2020 To ‘Save Dems From Michael Bloomberg’ (ZH)

Steve Bannon thinks that Hillary Clinton is waiting for just the right moment to enter the 2020 race and “save the Democratic Party” from billionaire Michael Bloomberg. According to Bannon, Clinton’s recent interview with Howard Stern – under the guise of promoting her book – signals that she’s absolutely running. “Hillary Clinton is waiting for her shot to come in and say, ‘I’m going to save the Democratic Party,’ that Michael Bloomberg is a liberal or moderate Republican. He’s not a Democrat,” Bannon told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” The former Trump strategist added that he doesn’t think any of the current Democratic candidates are strong enough to beat Trump, and that Clinton is “waiting in the wings” to take him on again. That said, if Hillary is going to run, she better do so quickly as filing deadlines to be included on Super Tuesday primary ballots in several key states are rapidly approaching or have passed.

Read more …

Along with FAA staff who met his warnings -4 months before the first crash -“with indifference”.

Ex-Boeing Employee Who Warned About 737 Problems To Testify At Hearing (R.)

A former Boeing employee who warned of problems with 737 production will testify on Wednesday at a U.S. House hearing on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) review of the grounded 737 MAX. The aircraft has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people. Federal officials say the FAA is not expected to authorize the plane to fly until January at the earliest. Former Boeing employee Edward Pierson, who had worked as a senior operations manager in the flight test and evaluation unit, will testify before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Pierson’s concerns were referenced at an Oct. 30 hearing – though he had not been named previously.

“All my internal warning bells are going off and for the first time in my life, I’m sorry to say that I’m hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane,” Pierson wrote to Boeing management before the first crash, according to an email obtained by the committee. Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said on Monday that “although Mr. Pierson did not provide specific information or detail about any particular defect or quality issue, Boeing took his concerns about 737 production disruption seriously.” He added that after Pierson retired and raised the issue again “those concerns received renewed scrutiny at the highest levels of the company.”

Johndroe added “the suggestion by Mr. Pierson of a link between his concerns and the recent MAX accidents is completely unfounded.” Eric Havian, a lawyer for Pierson, said in a statement that Boeing refused to act on his client’s warnings, which came four months before the first crash, and that Pierson was speaking out “to ensure that Boeing can no longer place profits above safety.” He also said Pierson raised concerns with the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board and was met with “indifference.”

Read more …

Zelensky is under a lot of pressure from the Ukraine right. But he did it. Next up, Putin wants him to change the Ukraine constitution to give the Donbass special status.

Ukraine, Russia Agree On Full Ceasefire In East Ukraine Before 2019-End (R.)

The leaders of Russia and Ukraine agreed on Tuesday to exchange all remaining prisoners from the conflict in east Ukraine by the end of the year, but left thorny questions about the region’s status for future talks. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in their first face-to-face meeting, took part in nine hours of talks in Paris, brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The conflict in eastern Ukraine that broke out in 2014 has killed more than 13,000 people, left a large swathe of Ukraine de facto controlled by Moscow-backed separatists and aggravated the deepest east-west rift since the Cold War.

The body language between Putin and Zelenskiy, a comedian-turned-politician elected earlier this year on a promise to resolve the conflict, was chilly. There was no public handshake, and they avoided eye contact. But the talks did deliver specific commitments. A final communique set out the prisoner exchange and a renewed commitment to implement an existing ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region that has never fully taken hold as well as enhanced powers for international ceasefire monitors.

The sides also said they had agreed, over the next four months, to work toward local elections in Donbass, a major stumbling block up to now. There were no details though on how the votes would be conducted, and Macron acknowledged there were still disagreements on the subject. “We have made progress on disengagement, prisoner exchanges, ceasefire and a political evolution,” Macron said at a news conference at which Zelenskiy and Putin sat separated by Merkel and Macron.

Read more …

No idea if this is true.

Ghislaine Maxwell Planning TV Tell-All About Epstein Scandal (NYPost)

Accused madam Ghislaine Maxwell is the latest in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal planning a major TV interview — in part to defend her disgraced pal Prince Andrew, according to a report Monday. The British media heiress, who has been repeatedly accused of procuring young girls for her pedophile ex, may already be in talks with a major US network, according to The Sun. A TV special would follow the Duke of York’s own disastrous BBC sit-down about his close ties to Epstein, as well as the tearful accusations key accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre made in an hourlong special for the same UK broadcaster.


“Ghislaine is in hiding and knows the only way to stop being hunted is to speak on her own terms,” a source told the paper. “She will do a sit-down interview with a big US network and defend the duke. Apparently, she’ll say Virginia Giuffre is lying and Andrew never had sex with her,” the source told the UK paper. Maxwell, 57, is understood to be at the heart of the FBI’s ongoing probe into Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring since his death in August. She has not been seen in public since he was arrested on federal charges in July.

Read more …

 

 

 

Please put the Automatic Earth on your Christmas charity donations list. Support us on Paypal and Patreon.

Top of the page, left and right sidebars. Thank you.

 

 

 

Jul 102017
 
 July 10, 2017  Posted by at 9:15 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Fred Lyon Anne Lyon getting into her Riley on Nob Hill, San Francisco 1950s

 

Propaganda-ville (Robert Parry)
Trump Cannot Improve Relations With Russia (PCR)
Comey’s Leaked Trump Memos Contained Classified Information (ZH)
Tales from the FOMC Underground (PT)
Stock Market Tsunami Siren Goes Off (WS)
America Is Struggling With Economic Rot (BBG)
May Appeals To Corbyn For Help In Coming Up With New Ideas (Ind.)
US-Russian Ceasefire Deal Holding In Southwest Syria (R.)
The Lynx Could Return To UK Within Months After 1,300-Year Absence (Ind.)

 

 

When slow news becomes no news. I must have seen 100 different versions of the non-story of one of Trump’s not-so-bright sons meeting with a Russian lady, a story that’s supposed to prove what nothing else has yet proven, not even Bob Mueller, Russian meddling. Yeah, Russia spies, and it hacks, and so does everyone else. But that’s clearly not news, and you can’t make it so be endlessly repeating it. That Comey leaked classified information is apparently much less newsworthy. Only, it is not. It just serves the machine to a lesser degree. Be careful, America, or you’ll have no news sources left soon. Not a great prospect.

Propaganda-ville (Robert Parry)

As much as the U.S. mainstream media wants people to believe that it is the Guardian of Truth, it is actually lost in a wilderness of propaganda and falsehoods, a dangerous land of delusion that is putting the future of humankind at risk as tension escalate with nuclear-armed Russia. This media problem has grown over recent decades as lucrative careerism has replaced responsible professionalism. Pack journalism has always been a threat to quality reporting but now it has evolved into a self-sustaining media lifestyle in which the old motto, “there’s safety in numbers,” is borne out by the fact that being horrendously wrong, such as on Iraq’s WMD, leads to almost no accountability because so many important colleagues were wrong as well.

Similarly, there has been no accountability after many mainstream journalists and commentators falsely stated as flat-fact that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” concurred that Russia did “meddle” in last November’s U.S. election. For months, this claim has been the go-to put-down whenever anyone questions the groupthink of Russian venality perverting American democracy. Even the esteemed “Politifact” deemed the assertion “true.” But it was never true. It was at best a needled distortion of a claim by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper when he issued a statement last Oct. 7 alleging Russian meddling. Because Clapper was the chief of the U.S. Intelligence Community, his opinion morphed into a claim that it represented the consensus of all 17 intelligence agencies, a dishonest twist that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton began touting.

However, for people who understand how the U.S. Intelligence Community works, the claim of a 17-agencies consensus has a specific meaning, some form of a National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE) that seeks out judgments and dissents from the various agencies. But there was no NIE regarding alleged Russian meddling and there apparently wasn’t even a formal assessment from a subset of the agencies at the time of Clapper’s statement. President Obama did not order a publishable assessment until December – after the election – and it was not completed until Jan. 6, when a report from Clapper’s office presented the opinions of analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency – three agencies (or four if you count the DNI’s office), not 17.

The report also contained no hard evidence of a Russian “hack” and amounted to a one-sided circumstantial case at best. However, by then, the U.S. mainstream media had embraced the “all-17-intelligence-agencies” refrain and anyone who disagreed, including President Trump, was treated as delusional. The argument went: “How can anyone question what all 17 intelligence agencies have confirmed as true?” It wasn’t until May 8 when then-former DNI Clapper belatedly set the record straight in sworn congressional testimony in which he explained that there were only three “contributing agencies” from which analysts were “hand-picked.”

Read more …

Paul Craig Roberts lays it on. A bit much if you ask me, but then so is everything else.

Trump Cannot Improve Relations With Russia (PCR)

On the same day that President Donald Trump said “it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia,” and the day after he said “I had a tremendous meeting yesterday with President Putin,” the ignorant, stupid, Nikki Haley, who Trump appointed as US UN Ambassador, publicly contracted her president, forcefully stating: “we can’t trust Russia and we won’t ever trust Russia.” The ignorant stupid Haley is still in office, a perfect demonstration of Trump’s powerlessness. The ignorant stupid Haley has gone far beyond Obama’s crazed UN Ambassador, neocon Smantha Power in doing everything in her power to ruin the prospect of normal relations between the two major nuclear powers. Why does Nikki Haley work in favor of a confrontation between nuclear powers that would destroy all life on earth?

What is wrong with Nikki Haley? Is she demented? Has she lost her mind, assuming she ever had one? How can President Trump normalize relations with Russia when every one of his appointees wants to worsen the relations to the point of nuclear war? How is President Trump going to improve relations with Russia when President Trump stands powerless in face of his dressing down by his UN Ambassador? Clearly, Trump is powerless, a mere cipher. Joining Nikki Haley was Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. Tillerson, allegedly a friend of Russia, is also working overtime to worsen relations between the two nuclear powers by publicly contradicting the President of the United States, thereby making it clear that Trump is barely even a cipher.

Tillerson, a disgrace, said that Putin’s refusal to admit that Putin elected Trump by interferring in the US election “stands as an obstacle to our ability to improve the relationship between the US and Russia and it needs to be addressed in terms of how we assure the American people that interference into our eletions will not occur by Russia or anyone else.” Trump’s incompetence is illustrated by his appointments. There is no one in “his” government that supports him. Everyone of them works to undermine him. And he sits there and Twitters. So, what is President Putin’s belief that an understanding can now be worked out with Washington worth? Not a plugged nickel. Trump has zero authority over “his” government. He can be contradicted at will by his own appointees. The President of the United States is a joke.

You can find him on Twitter, but nowhere else, not in the Oval Office making foreign or military policy. The president Twitters and thinks that that is policy. The Trump administration was destroyed when the weak Donald Trump allowed the neoconservatives to remove his National Security Advisor, General Flynn. Trump has never recovered. “His” administration is staffed with violent Russophobes. Wars can be the only outcome. We know two things about the alleged Russian inteferrance in the Trump/Hillary presidential election. One is that John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, and Comey, Obama’s FBI director, implied repeatedly that Trump was elected by Russian interference in the election, but neither the CIA nor the FBI have provided any evidence whatsoever that any such interference occurred. Indeed, months into the case, the special prosecutor, the former FBI director, can produce no evidence.

The whole thing is a sham, but it is ongoing. There will be no end to it as it is designed to undermind President Trump with the people who elected him. The message is: “Trump is not for America. Trump is for Russia.”

Read more …

Is Muelller going to investigate Comey soon?

Comey’s Leaked Trump Memos Contained Classified Information (ZH)

Comey’s troubles started when he testified under oath last month that he considered the memos he prepared to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a Columbia University lawyer friend. As Comey later disclosed, he asked that lawyer to leak information from one memo to the news media in hopes of increasing pressure to get a special prosecutor named in the Russia case after Comey was fired as FBI director. The Hill recounts that particular exchange with Senator Roy Blunt: “So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document?,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) asked Comey on June 8. “You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?”

“Correct,” Comey answered. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.” Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information. “I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership,” he testified about the one memo he later leaked about former national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Additionally, he added, “My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.”

That’s when the problems escalated, because according to The Hill – which for the first time disclosed that the total number of memos linked to Comey’s nine conversations with Trump – when the seven memos Comey wrote regarding his nine conversations with Trump about Russia earlier this year were shown to Congress in recent days, the FBI claimed all were, in fact, deemed to be government documents. Oops. As The Hill reveals, four, or more than half, of the seven memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the “secret” or “confidential” level, according to officials directly familiar with the matter. This is a major problem for Comey because FBI policy forbids any agent from releasing classified information or any information from ongoing investigations or sensitive operations without prior written permission, and mandates that all records created during official duties are considered to be government property.

“Unauthorized disclosure, misuse, or negligent handling of information contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI or which I may acquire as an employee of the FBI could impair national security, place human life in jeopardy, result in the denial of due process, prevent the FBI from effectively discharging its responsibilities, or violate federal law,” states the agreement all FBI agents sign. FBI policy further adds that “all information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America” and that an agent “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”

Read more …

“..Not since Herbert C. Hoover has there been a more perfect scapegoat for an economic depression of the Fed’s making.”

Tales from the FOMC Underground (PT)

“What should we do?” began Yellen. “A decade of easy monetary policies has turned financial markets into a Las Vegas casino while the economy’s lazed around like my smelly house cats. What the heck was Bernanke thinking?” “Hell, Janet,” remarked New York Fed President William Dudley. “He wasn’t thinking. He soiled his pantaloons and then he soiled them again.” “So now we must clean up his stinky pile while he promotes his revisionist courage to act shtick. The reality is we must orchestrate a take-down of financial markets, and we must do it by year’s end.” “Well, gawd damn Bill!” barked St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. “With the exception of Neel, the $700 billion dollar bailout boy, don’t you think we all know that?”

“Hey, now!” interjected Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari. “Don’t blame me. I was just carrying out Hank Paulson’s will, right Bill? Saving our boys’ bacon back at Goldman so they could continue doing god’s work.” “Besides Fish, it was you all who lined up behind Bernanke and tickled the poodle with his crazy QE experiment while I was busy chopping wood at Donner Pass and getting my fanny spanked in the California Governor’s race by retread Jerry Moonbeam Brown, of all people.” “Fair enough,” continued Bullard. “The point is, taking down the stock market will cause an extreme upset to the economy’s applecart. The mobs will come after us with torches and pitchforks.” “You see, the real trick is to do the dirty deed then disappear behind a fog of confusion. That’s what Greenspan would do. How can we pull that off?”

After a moment of silent contemplation, and a licked finger held up to the cool political winds drafting across the country… “Eureka! We can pin it on President Donald J. Trump!” exclaimed Chicago Fed President Charles Evans. “Could our good fortune be any better? Not since Herbert C. Hoover has there been a more perfect scapegoat for an economic depression of the Fed’s making.” “Hear, hear!” approved Yellen. “Damn the economy,” they bellowed in harmony… minus Kashkari. “This one’s on Trump!” “Bill, one last thing,” closed Yellen. “After the meeting, remember to give the public that shake n’ bake you dreamed up about crashing unemployment. We have to give off an air of being data dependent.” “That misdirection should twist them up until NFL football starts. Shortly after that, our work will be done…” “…and by the New Year, Congress and Joe public will be begging us to rescue the economy from the Fed’s… I mean… Trump’s disastrous economic program.”

Read more …

Earnings vs S&P. Something will give.

Stock Market Tsunami Siren Goes Off (WS)

Everyone who’s watching the stock market has their own reasons for their endless optimism, their doom-and-gloom visions, their bouts of anxiety that come with trying to sit on the fence until the very last moment, or their blasé attitude that nothing can go wrong because the Fed has their back. But there are some factors that are like a tsunami siren that should send inhabitants scrambling to higher ground. Since July 2012 – so over the past five years – the trailing 12-month earnings per share of all the companies in the S&P 500 index rose just 12% in total. Or just over 2% per year on average. Or barely at the rate of inflation – nothing more. These are not earnings under the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) but “adjusted earnings” as reported by companies to make their earnings look better.

Not all companies report “adjusted earnings.” Some just stick to GAAP earnings and live with the consequences. But many others also report “adjusted earnings,” and that’s what Wall Street propagates. “Adjusted earnings” are earnings with the bad stuff adjusted out of them, at the will of management. They generally display earnings in the most favorable light – hence significantly higher earnings than under GAAP. This is the most optimistic earnings number. It’s the number that data provider FactSet uses for its analyses, and these adjusted earnings seen in the most favorable light grew only a little over 2% per year on average for the S&P 500 companies over the past five years, or 12% in total. Yet, over the same period, the S&P 500 Index itself soared 80%.

And these adjusted earnings are now back where they’d been on March 2014, with no growth whatsoever. Total stagnation, even for adjusted earnings. And yet, over the same three-plus years, the S&P 500 index has soared 33%. This chart shows those adjusted earnings per share for all S&P 500 companies (black line) and the S&P 500 index (blue line). I marked July 2012 and March 2014:

Given that there has been zero earnings growth over the past three years, even under the most optimistic “adjusted earnings” scenario, and only about 2% per year on average over the past five years, the S&P 500 companies are not high-growth companies. On average, they’re stagnating companies with stagnating earnings. And the price-earnings ratio for stagnating companies should be low. In 2012 it was around 15.5. Now, as of July 7, it is nearly 26. In other words, earnings didn’t expand. The only thing that expanded was the multiple of those earnings to the share prices – the P/E ratio. Such periods of multiple expansion are common. They’re part of the stock market’s boom and bust cycle. And they’re invariably followed by periods of multiple contraction. How long can this period of multiple expansion go on? That’s what everyone wants to know. Projections include “forever.” But “forever” doesn’t exist in the stock market. The next segment of the cycle is a multiple contraction.

Read more …

The incessant call far a return to normal. There’s no such thing. The economy never recovered.

America Is Struggling With Economic Rot (BBG)

The Great Recession, and the financial crisis that preceded it, were such enormous and terrible events that they occupied most of our economic thinking for a decade. But now that the smoke has cleared and the economy has returned to a semblance of normality, we’re starting to think more about long-term trends. And evidence is mounting that the Great Recession may have drawn attention away from a slow rot that has been eating the U.S. economy since the turn of the century. Some of the top macroeconomists in the business have a new paper that reaches this conclusion. In “The Disappointing Recovery of Output after 2009,” John G. Fernald, Robert E. Hall, James H. Stock and Mark W. Watson break down the declines in growth and employment into a structural, long-term component and a short-term part related to the crash.

That’s an inherently hard thing to do, since there’s no universally accepted theory of how recessions work. But Fernald et al. use two accounting methods, and find basically the same thing – although the recession hurt the economy a lot, it happened to coincide with two trends that were slowly eroding the U.S.’s fundamentals. Those two trends are slowing productivity and reduced labor-force participation. Slow productivity growth is hardly news – Bloomberg View recently ran a whole series of articles about the phenomenon. This unhappy trend appears to have begun three years before the financial crisis:

As for labor-force participation, this has been falling since the turn of the century, though the last two years have seen a small uptick:

Both of these trends might have been exacerbated by the Great Recession. That economic disaster caused businesses to stop investing, which may have deprived them of the technology needed to increase productivity. Workers thrown out of employment by the recession might have seen their skills, connections and work ethic degrade, preventing them from going back to work even after the economy recovered.

Read more …

His advise: call a snap election.

May Appeals To Corbyn For Help In Coming Up With New Ideas (Ind.)

Theresa May is to insist she has the right vision for Britain and an “unshakeable sense of purpose” to build a fairer nation as she launches a fightback after her General Election gamble backfired. The Prime Minister will acknowledge that the loss of her Commons majority means she will have to adopt a different approach to government, signalling she is prepared to “debate and discuss” ideas with her opponents. But amid rumours of unrest within Tory ranks about her position, Ms May will insist her commitment is “undimmed” almost 12 months after entering Number 10 as Prime Minister. Her comments in a speech on Tuesday will be viewed as an attempt to relaunch her premiership after the humiliation of the election result and the need to strike a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her administration in the Commons.

Ms May will return to her core message from when she succeeded David Cameron: a “commitment to greater fairness” and tackling “injustice and vested interests” in recognition that the EU referendum result was a “profound call for change across our country”. She will say: “Though the result of last month’s General Election was not what I wanted, those defining beliefs remain, my commitment to change in Britain is undimmed; my belief in the potential of the British people and what we can achieve together as a nation remains steadfast; and the determination I have to get to grips with the challenges posed by a changing world never more sure. “I am convinced that the path that I set out in that first speech outside Number 10 and upon which we have set ourselves as a Government remains the right one.

“It will lead to the stronger, fairer Britain that we need.” The fragile nature of Ms May’s position in the Commons will not stop her being “bold”, she will insist. “I think this country needs a Government that is prepared to take the bold action necessary to secure a better future for Britain and we are determined to be that Government. “In everything we do, we will act with an unshakeable sense of purpose to build the better, fairer Britain which we all want to see.”

Read more …

Hard to believe.

US-Russian Ceasefire Deal Holding In Southwest Syria (R.)

A U.S.-Russian brokered ceasefire for southwest Syria held through the day, a monitor and rebels said on Sunday, in the first peacemaking effort of the war by the U.S. government under President Donald Trump. The United States, Russia and Jordan reached the “de-escalation agreement,” which appeared to give Trump a diplomatic achievement at his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany this week. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said “calm prevailed” in the southwest since the truce began at noon (0900 GMT) on Sunday despite minor violations. Combatants briefly exchanged fire in Deraa province and in Quneitra around midnight, but this “did not threaten the ceasefire,” said Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman.

Major Issam al Rayes, spokesman of the Southern Front coalition of Western-backed rebel groups, said “a cautious calm” continued into the evening. “The situation is relatively calm,” Suhaib al-Ruhail, a spokesman for the Alwiyat al-Furqan faction in Quneitra, said earlier. Another rebel official, in Deraa city, said there had been no significant fighting. It was quiet on the main Manshiya front near the border with Jordan, which he said had been the site of some of the heaviest army bombing in recent weeks. “Syrian ceasefire seems to be holding … Good!” Trump tweeted on Sunday. A Syrian official indicated that Damascus approved of the ceasefire deal, describing the government’s silence over it as a “sign of satisfaction.” “We welcome any step that would cease the fire and pave the way for peaceful solutions,” the government official told Reuters.

Read more …

Majestic animal. But 1,300 years is a big gap.

The Lynx Could Return To UK Within Months After 1,300-Year Absence (Ind.)

The Eurasian lynx could be stalking through British woodlands within months after plans were submitted to reintroduce the species, absent from Britain for about 1,300 years. Campaigners have applied for a licence to import six of the wildcats, which were hunted to extinction in the UK, and release them in Northumberland’s Kielder Forest. The Lynx Trust said the animals, which can grow to 1.3m in length, “belong” in Britain and there was a “moral obligation” to bring them back. The cats’ return would also generate millions of pounds for rural communities by attracting tourists, according to the group. But the proposal has met with opposition from sheep farmers, who claim their livestock would be put at risk.

The scheme would initially involve six lynx, four females and two males, being imported from Sweden and fitted with GPS tracking collars for a five-year trial. The trust applied to Natural England for permission to release the cats after it carried out an 11-month consultation. No date has been set for the proposed reintroduction but they cats could return to the UK by the end of 2017 if the plans are approved. The trust said in a statement: “In many other countries Eurasian lynx reintroduction has proven exceptionally low-conflict and wonderfully beneficial for the local communities that live alongside them, and we do sincerely hope that these cats, which thrived here for millions of years, do have the opportunity to prove they can still fit into both our ecology, and alongside local communities like those across the Kielder region.”

Read more …

Dec 302016
 
 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 10:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


DPC Memphis, Mississippi River landing, Belle of the Bends and Belle of Calhoun 1906

Putin’s Cease-Fire in Syria Boxes Out Obama (USN)
Russia: “No Enemy Of The United States Could Have Done Worse” (RT)
Obama’s Sanctions Target Trump, Not Putin (Duran)
“Grizzly Steppe” – FBI, DHS Release “Report” On Russian Hacking (ZH)
Russia’s ‘Grizzly Steppe’ Cyberattacks Started Simply, US Says (BBG)
Trump Says He’ll Weigh Intelligence Findings on Russian Hack (BBG)
The Russians Are Coming (Oliver Stone)
Russia: Mass Graves Full Of Tortured Civilians Discovered In Aleppo (TAM)
China Faces Stiff Battle to Sideline the Dollar in Valuing Yuan
China To Relax Curbs On Foreign Investment In Banking, Securities (R.)
Who Wants To Keep Gas Flowing Through Ukraine And Why? (SC)
The New Year’s Arriving With a Frigid Bang (BBG)
A 2016 Love Story: The Macedonian Cop and The Iraqi Refugee (AFP)

 

 

Can’t find a good western source on this all too obvious theme. Typical. The underlying idea seems to be that Obama should have tried to create even more chaos, deliver more weapons to the ‘rebels’. The US should have never toppled Saddam, nor Gaddafi, and we should be glad that Putin called a halt to the mayhem. Now get the US out of there, and on the double.

America over the past decades -in which it was a superpower- could have been, and should have been, a force for good, and for peace. It has instead been nothing but the exact opposite.

Putin’s Cease-Fire in Syria Boxes Out Obama (USN)

Russia and Turkey announced early Thursday they had secured a cease-fire agreement for the civil war in Syria, potentially clearing the way to a peace deal and leaving little, if any, role for the U.S. to play in the future of the war-torn country. The American failure to find a diplomatic or military solution to the conflict, which rages adjacent to an extraordinarily complicated international effort to defeat the Islamic State group, has left some traditional allies in the region worried about what leverage the U.S. has left to protect their interests in the Middle East. Very few details have emerged about the agreement, which was organized by Moscow and Ankara and backed the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. Reuters reported Wednesday that the plan could involve splitting the county into semi-autonomous Russian, Turkish and Iranian zones of influence within Assad’s government.

Perhaps the most notable question centers on the involvement of the Free Syrian Army, the U.S.-backed umbrella organization of the opposition movement which has fractured in recent months. It denies having participated in the cease-fire talks. Moscow’s leadership on the agreement, however, follows its deep involvement in Syria over the last year that has successfully shirked American calls for Assad to step down. So it’s also unclear how the U.S. could exercise any leverage over the events in Syria in the future or encourage any of the actors involved to consider American interests, including issuing humanitarian aid to the 8 million displaced Syrians displaced from their homes, supporting willing partners on the ground to fight the Islamic State group, and creating a unity government.

“If the cease-fire does spread to the point where any settlement begins, we’re going to find ourselves in the very awkward position of being the largest single aid donor to Syria and having somehow to deal in humanitarian and recovery terms with a government and structure we had no hand in creating,” says Anthony Cordesman, a former senior adviser to the departments of State and Defense, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ‘That’s certainly going to create future problems.”

Read more …

“Obama’s “bitter” and “helpless” team..”, “.. a devastating blow to America’s prestige and its leadership..” But kind words for Kerry.

Russia: “No Enemy Of The United States Could Have Done Worse” (RT)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has posted a scathing Facebook comment on US President Barack Obama’s approval of new anti-Russian measures, arguing Obama’s “bitter” and “helpless” team did a disfavor to the White House’s reputation. Zakharova wrote that the outgoing president did not manage to leave “any” major foreign policy achievements as part of his legacy and instead of “putting an elegant period” to his two presidential terms has “made a huge blot” with his latest decision to impose more sanctions on Russia, expelling 35 Russian diplomats and closing two diplomatic compounds in the US.

“Today America, the American people were humiliated by their own president. Not by international terrorists, not by [the] enemy’s troops. This time Washington was slapped by own master, who has complicated the urgent tasks for the incoming team in the extreme,” Zakharova wrote, labeling the current administration “a group of foreign policy losers, bitter and narrow-minded.” “Today, Obama officially admitted it,” she wrote. Zakharova then offered her sympathy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who, she argued, had also suffered under the current administration as he was unable to do his job properly, being constantly “mocked” and “let down” by his own colleagues. “Mr. Kerry, in this difficult moment for the United States, let me convey you the words of sympathy – you have done all what was possible to avert your country’s collapse in foreign policy,” she said, giving credit to Kerry’s diplomatic skills.

“Out of this group of spoilers, I pity only Kerry. He was not an ally. But he tried to be a professional and maintain his human dignity.” Zakharova also said that with its incoherent foreign policy, Obama’s administration has inadvertently debunked a long-cherished myth of America’s exceptionalism that claims a special place in the world. “This is it, [the] curtain [has dropped]. The bad performance is over. The whole world, from the front row to the balcony, is watching a devastating blow to America’s prestige and its leadership, dealt by Barack Obama and his semi-literate foreign policy team, which has exposed its main secret to the world – exceptionalism was a masked helplessness.” “No enemy of the United States could have done worse,” Zakharova concluded. She promised that the US won’t have to wait too long for Moscow’s response. “Tomorrow there will be official statements, countermeasures, and much more,” she wrote.

Read more …

Smooth transition.

Obama’s Sanctions Target Trump, Not Putin (Duran)

Barack Obama ends his Presidency with the announcement of yet more sanctions against Russia. These target Russia’s two intelligence agencies which were supposedly concerned with the alleged cyber attacks during the US election – the FSB and the GRU – and what appear to be three institutions involved in IT work – the Professional Association of Designers of Data Processing Systems, the Special Technology Centre, and Zorsecurity, formerly known as Esage Lab or Tsor. In addition to these five entities four high ranking officials of the GRU have also been added to the sanctions list. Obama has also announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US, giving them just 72 hours to leave, and has closed two Russian diplomatic compounds in the US.

He has also said that he will provide Congress with a report on Russian cyber activity during this and previous US election cycles. Like many of Obama’s other recent moves, this one is not really targeted at Russia. The additional sanctions will hardly affect Russia, though the wholesale expulsion of Russian diplomats will undoubtedly complicate the work of Russian diplomatic missions in the US. The true target of these sanctions is Donald Trump. By imposing sanctions on Russia, Obama is lending the authority of the Presidency to the CIA’s claims of Russian hacking, daring Trump to deny their truth. If Trump as President allows the sanctions to continue, he will be deemed to have accepted the CIA’s claims of Russian hacking as true.

If Trump cancels the sanctions when he becomes President, he will be accused of being Russia’s stooge. It is a well known lawyer’s trick, and Obama the former lawyer doubtless calculates that either way Trump’s legitimacy and authority as President will be damaged, with the insinuation that he owes his Presidency to the Russians now given extra force. Like so many of Obama’s other moves in the last weeks of his Presidency, it is an ugly and small minded act, seeking to undermine his successor as President in a way that is completely contrary to US tradition.

Read more …

You’re looking for -finally!- proof, and what you get is a disclaimer.

“Grizzly Steppe” – FBI, DHS Release “Report” On Russian Hacking (ZH)

As part of the “evidence” meant to substantiate the unprecedented act of expelling 35 Russian diplomats and locking down two Russian compounds without a major concurrent political or diplomatic incident, or an act of war, and which simply provides an outlets for the Democrats to justify the loss of their candidate in the US presidential election (sorry, Putin did not tell the rust belt how to vote), the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a 13-page “report” on the Russian action done “to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election”, i.e., hack it.

As the DHS writes, “this document provides technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities. The U.S. Government is referring to this malicious cyber activity by RIS as GRIZZLY STEPPE.” Where things get awkward, however, is at the very start of the report, which prefaced by a broad disclaimer, according to which nothing in the report is to be relied upon and that everything contained in it may be completely false. No really: “this report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within. DHS does not endorse any commercial product or service referenced in this advisory or otherwise.”

Read more …

US intelligence looks hell-bent on founding its credibility exclusively on gossip and propaganda.

Russia’s ‘Grizzly Steppe’ Cyberattacks Started Simply, US Says (BBG)

The attack against U.S. democracy began in the summer of 2015 with a simple trick: Hackers working for Russia’s civilian intelligence service sent e-mails with hidden malware to more than 1,000 people working for the American government and political groups. U.S. intelligence agencies say that was the modest start of “Grizzly Steppe,” their name for what they say developed into a far-reaching Russian operation to interfere with this year’s presidential election. Prodded to produce evidence by Russia, which has denied a role in hacking – and by an openly skeptical President-elect Donald Trump – the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security did so Thursday. They issued a 13-page joint analysis just as President Barack Obama imposed sanctions against Russian government organizations and individuals and expelled 35 Russian operatives.

While Trump said in a statement Thursday that “it’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” he said he “will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.” As president-elect he’s entitled to see the classified details behind the public report. The initial hackers sent e-mails that appeared to come from legitimate websites and other Internet domains tied to U.S. organizations and educational institutions, according to the report. Those who were fooled into clicking on the “spearphishing” e-mails provided a foothold into the Democratic National Committee – although the party organization wasn’t identified by name in the report – and key e-mail accounts for material that would later be leaked to damage Hillary Clinton in her losing campaign against Trump.

“This activity by Russian intelligence services is part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and its citizens,” according to a joint statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, DHS and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “The U.S. government seeks to arm network defenders with the tools they need to identify, detect and disrupt Russian malicious cyber activity that is targeting our country’s and our allies’ networks.” Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, rejected the U.S. conclusions. “We categorically disagree with any of the groundless allegations or charges against Russia,” he said on a conference call. “These actions by the current administration in Washington are unfortunately a manifestation of an unpredictable and you could even say aggressive policy.”

Read more …

Are they going to threaten him?

Trump Says He’ll Weigh Intelligence Findings on Russian Hack (BBG)

President-elect Donald Trump said he’ll meet next week with U.S. intelligence officials to discuss their findings that Russia hacked Democratic Party e-mails to meddle in the 2016 election, signaling a possible shift from his previous dismissals of Russian involvement. In his first statement following President Barack Obama’s action on Thursday to sanction Russian intelligence officials and agencies for the hacking, Trump released a statement, saying, “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things. Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”

Trump, who has pledged to seek better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, repeatedly has expressed skepticism about the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the pilfering and release of e-mails from DNC and party officials in order to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton. He once said the hacking could have been the work of “somebody sitting in a bed someplace” and told reporters Wednesday that “we ought to get on with our lives” instead of rehashing the cyberattack. Obama’s actions put Trump in a bind less than a month before his inauguration. He will have to decide whether to reverse course when he takes office Jan. 20, which would effectively reject the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies and put him at odds with the Republican leaders in Congress who called the sanctions a necessary step.

The Russian government said it would announce on Friday its response to Obama’s move and emphasized that it soon will be dealing with Trump. “Right now we just are not in a position to sit here and respond to all of these details before we have a full-blown intelligence report on this particular matter,” Reince Priebus, Trump’s appointee as chief of staff, said on Fox News Thursday night. “We just need to get to a point ourselves where we can talk to all of these intelligence agencies and find out once and for all what evidence is there, how bad is it.”

Read more …

Not terribly strong, but it’s Stone. Think he could get a movie financed on the theme?

The Russians Are Coming (Oliver Stone)

As 2016 draws to a close, we find ourselves a deeply unsettled nation. We’re unable to draw the lines of our national interest. Is it jobs and economy, is it national security, or is it now in our interest to ensure global security — in other words, act as the world’s policemen? As the “failing” (to quote Trump) New York Times degenerates into a Washington Post organization with its stagnant Cold War vision of a 1950s world where the Russians are to blame for most everything — Hillary’s loss, most of the aggression and disorder in the world, the desire to destabilize Europe, etc. – the Times has added the issue of ‘fake news’ to reassert its problematic role as the dominant voice for the Washington establishment. Certainly this is true in the case of Russia’s ‘hacking’ the 2016 election and putting into office its Manchurian Candidate in Donald Trump.

Apparently the CIA (via various unnamed intelligence officials), and the FBI, NSA, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (who notoriously lied to Congress in the Snowden affair), President Obama, the DNC, Hillary Clinton, and Congress agree that Russia, and Mr. Putin predominantly, is responsible. Certainly the psychotic, war-loving Senator John McCain is right up there alongside these patriots, calling President Putin a “thug, bully and a murderer and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.” He actually said this — the man whose sound judgment chose Sarah Palin as his VP nominee in ’08. And the Times followed by printing the story in its full glory on page one, clearly agreeing with McCain’s point of view.

I don’t remember Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, or Reagan, in the darkest days of the 1950s/80s, ever singling out a Russian President like this. The invective was aimed at the Soviet regime, but never were Khrushchev or Brezhnev the target of this bile. I guess this is a new form of American diplomacy. If a black youth in our inner cities were killed or a Pakistani wedding party were murdered by our drones, would President Obama be singled out as a murderer, bully, thug? Such personalization is a sign of sickness in our thinking and way beneath what should be our standards.

Read more …

We’ll have to wait for the -gruesome- proof on this too. “The results of only an initial survey of Aleppo neighborhoods abandoned by the so-called ‘opposition’ will shock many.”

Russia: Mass Graves Full Of Tortured Civilians Discovered In Aleppo (TAM)

Russian military forces have discovered mass graves in eastern parts of the Syrian city of Aleppo, with many of the bodies reportedly showing signs of torture. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the Russian defense ministry, announced the horrifying discovery on Monday. “Many of the corpses were found with missing body parts, and most had gunshot wounds to the head,” he said, according to RT. Until recently, the eastern portion of Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city and industrial and financial center, was under the control of so-called “moderate” rebels, many of whom have received both intelligence and material support from the United States and its allies in the Middle East.

Last week, Russian and Syrian military forces oversaw the evacuation of civilians from eastern Aleppo. Prior to that, the rebel-held portion of the city had been controlled by two main factions, Jabhat al-Nusra, a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaeda also known as the Nusra Front, and Ahrar al-Sham, another extremist group that receives U.S. support despite being designated a terrorist organization. In an apparent attempt to court the U.S. government by distancing itself from al-Qaeda, the Nusra Front recently attempted to “rebrand” itself. Despite efforts to market themselves as kinder, gentler terrorists, the group has continued to commit atrocities, including burning buses intended to be used in the evacuation and even blocking food aid from reaching Aleppo’s starving residents.

WikiLeaks’ archive of diplomatic cables reveals that the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia have sought to overthrow the government of Syrian leader Bashar Assad since at least 2006, and support for extremist fighters remains a key part of that strategy. Konashenkov promised a full investigation into the war crimes of rebel forces in Aleppo, suggesting in his statement that the results would surprise many people who receive their news from Western mainstream media sources. He said: “The completion of a uniquely large-scale humanitarian operation by the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Aleppo will destroy many of the myths that have been fed to the world by Western politicians. The results of only an initial survey of Aleppo neighborhoods abandoned by the so-called ‘opposition’ will shock many.”

Read more …

Good luck with that: “The U.S. currency is on one side of 88% of all foreign-exchange trading..”

China Faces Stiff Battle to Sideline the Dollar in Valuing Yuan

China took another step to degrade the dollar in defining the value of its currency, in an effort that cuts against its rival’s stubbornly strong hold on the global financial system. An arm of the People’s Bank of China, which last year started setting the yuan against a basket of currencies, on Thursday said it’s adding 11 units to that reference group. The move lowers the dollar’s weighting by 4 percentage points, to 22.4% – little more than twice the share for South Korea’s won, a new entrant. While the logic of determining the yuan’s value against the currencies of its trading partners is clear, the problem is that the dollar is still the dominant reference in the perception of the public and the market. The U.S. currency is on one side of 88% of all foreign-exchange trading. “The dollar-yuan rate will still be the benchmark that determines sentiment,” said Hao Hong at Communications International Holdings.

“The basket is just a reference, so the change in the index’s composition and the efforts of keeping it stable will do little to boost confidence.” The yuan’s retreat against the CFETS RMB Index, the basket set by the China Foreign Exchange Trade System, has been more moderate this year than against the dollar, as the currencies of China’s trading partners have also declined. In recent weeks it’s even advanced. That offers an image of stability that would appeal to a Communist leadership that’s striving to maintain economic growth in excess of 6.5% and reduce leverage, all while heading off any exodus of domestic capital. The challenge is that China’s swelling middle class, along with its ultra-wealthy, are looking to diversify some of their increasing pool of savings overseas. Prospects for higher U.S. interest rates only increase the allure of the dollar.

Read more …

They need money, bad.

China To Relax Curbs On Foreign Investment In Banking, Securities (R.)

China will focus on freeing up foreign investment in banking, insurance, securities and futures market trading firms as part of a wider opening up of the services sector, the country’s state planner said in a document released on Friday. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) did not give any details or time frame on relaxing restrictions for foreign investment in the financial services sector. At a press conference held after the release of the document, Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the NDRC, said that the government will maintain “some controls”, but did not elaborate. Businesses that the NDRC earmarked for opening up in the manufacturing sector included rail transportation equipment, motorcycles, edible fats and oils, and fuel ethanol.

The NDRC also said China will lift restrictions on foreign investment in unconventional oil and gas production, which usually refers to development of shale deposits. Industry experts noted China has already allowed foreign companies such as Shell and BP to explore and develop shale oil and gas in joint ventures with Chinese firms. China will also “orderly” open up sensitive areas such as telecoms, education, internet to foreign investment, as well as relaxing foreign investment restrictions on credit-rating services, the NDRC document said. The new list of areas marked for liberalization differ slightly from draft foreign investment guidelines that China published earlier this month.

In the draft, restrictions in critical banking and securities sectors remained largely unchanged, though a reference to 49 percent foreign investment caps on some types of securities companies appeared to have been removed. Beijing is facing mounting criticism from foreign governments over its closed markets. Despite repeated pledges to increase access for foreign firms, critics say it has not followed through on its reform agenda.

Read more …

A bit confusing, but do watch Poland.

Who Wants To Keep Gas Flowing Through Ukraine And Why? (SC)

This past year of 2016 set a new record for the export history of Gazprom, Russia’s biggest gas company. Its chairman, Alexey Miller, has claimed that by the end of the year Gazprom will have shipped a total of 180 billion cubic meters to non-CIS countries. Gazprom had only planned to export between 166 and 170 billion cubic meters of gas in 2016 (in 2015, 158.56 billion cubic meters of gas were delivered to non-CIS countries). But even this new high is not the limit. Gazprom’s latest calculations envision a further uptick in shipments in 2017, and those will primarily be to the EU. The key factors here are, first and foremost, the weather conditions (this winter promises to be a more severe one in Europe than last year), and second – the jump in demand for gas in Europe that has been seen in recent months in the face of lower domestic production in EU countries.

The biggest consumers of Russian gas are still Germany (47.4 billion cubic meters in 2015), Turkey (27 billion), Italy (24.4 billion), Great Britain (22.5 billion), and France (10.5 billion). And Russian gas shipments play a very important role in ensuring the energy security of Southeastern Europe. In 2015 Bulgaria purchased 3.1 billion cubic meters of gas from the companies that make up the Gazprom Group, while Greece bought 2 billion cubic meters, Serbia – 1.9 billion cubic meters, and Croatia – 0.6 billion cubic meters. The market price for Russian gas has taken some interesting twists and turns. It is worth noting that that figure has risen right along with the increase in supply. This proves once again that the close interdependence of European consumers and Russian energy suppliers is «overriding» the market formula: simultaneous growth in both supply and price is an atypical phenomenon in a market environment.

However, it proves once again that any moves aimed at «replacing» Russian gas or «displacing» Russia from the EU gas market might be disruptive for Europe’s energy sector. The attempts by some countries to block Russian gas supplies look particularly irrational in this context. This primarily applies to Poland, which rushed to the European Court to appeal the European Commission’s decision to allow Gazprom greater access to the OPAL pipeline that links Nord Stream with the gas-transit system of Central and Western Europe. The Polish media cites the official spokesperson for the Polish Ministry of Finance, Joanna Wajda, in its reports that Warsaw has already asked the EU to suspend the implementation of the European Commission decision. The EC’s official reaction to this proposal is still unknown, but it will be interesting to see.

Read more …

Athens is bloody cold as we speak. That map is pretty clear.

The New Year’s Arriving With a Frigid Bang (BBG)

A deep freeze is about to descend on North America, Europe and Asia thanks to record high temperatures across the Arctic. How’s that? “Think of it like a seesaw,” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather in Bethesda, Maryland. If winter temperatures rise north of Alaska, that “forces an equal-opposite downward-southward push. The cold essentially has to go somewhere else.” Meteorologists theorize the phenomenon works this way: Warmth in the northern polar region helps lock in jet-stream kinks that drag cold air south and sets up conditions that weaken the polar vortex, the pressure zone that usually traps the chill in the northernmost part of Earth. Frigid thermometer readings are, as a result, delivered to the Northern Hemisphere. So, warm Arctic, cold continents.

Forecasts show how drastic it could be. For example, Chicago’s high on Monday is expected to be 43 degrees Fahrenheit (about 6 Celsius) and its low 33, according to MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland. By Friday, the high is predicted to be 18 and the low just 5. Climate change and the recently ended El Nino conspired over the last three years to heat the planet to record levels. The ice cap dwindled. In September it was the smallest in scope since 2007; its winter growth has been the slowest in chronicled history. Sea ice keeps the air above it cold, and in November in the Arctic it hit a record low, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For several weeks, as as consequence, a large part of the Arctic has been hotter than normal.

“We have a buoy north of Alaska that went over to freezing around the 10th of December, which is about a month later than it normally happens,” said Jim Overland, a research oceanographer at the U.S. Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory in Seattle, who made his first trips to Arctic ice in the 60s.

Read more …

Flowers grow at the weirdest places.

A 2016 Love Story: The Macedonian Cop and The Iraqi Refugee (AFP)

The scene was hardly conducive to romance: she was a sick Iraqi in a wave of refugees trying to enter Serbia, while he belonged to the stern Macedonian police force keeping guard. But Noora Arkavazi, a Kurdish Muslim, and Orthodox Christian Bobi Dodevski quickly fell in love after they met at the muddy border in early March – and celebrated their wedding four months later. Bobi recalls the rainy day he first saw Noora in no man’s land between the two Balkan countries, when he was working only by chance after swapping shifts with a colleague. “It was destiny,” the affable 35-year-old tells AFP over tea in his small apartment in the northern Macedonian town of Kumanovo, where he now lives happily with his young wife.

Noora, 20, hails from Diyala, an eastern province plagued with violence in the Iraqi conflict. She says at one point Islamic State jihadists kidnapped her father, an engineer, and demanded thousands of dollars for his return. Early in 2016, Noora and her brother, sister and parents abandoned their home and began a long journey west, crossing the border into Turkey, taking a boat to the Greek island of Lesbos and eventually entering Macedonia. Their path was one well-trodden by hundreds of thousands of people escaping war or poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia – and like many of their fellow travellers, the Arkavazis had set their sights on Germany. While her family continued on their odyssey, Noora stayed put in Macedonia after Cupid’s arrow struck. “I had a simple dream to live with my family in Germany,” she says. “I didn’t imagine a big surprise for me here.”

Read more …