Jan 202024
 
 January 20, 2024  Posted by at 9:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Jackson Pollock Man with knife 1938-40

 

Dems Have Resurrected Law as a Weapon that Serves Power (Paul Craig Roberts)
Fani Willis: Wife of Lover an Adulterer and Political Conspirator (Turley)
Atlanta DA Fani Willis Just Stepped on a Rake (CTH)
Georgia Prosecutors Should Go, But That Won’t End the Trump Case (Turley)
Trump’s Lawyers Warn Of Nationwide ‘Chaos’ (RT)
Trump Warns Of Years Of Trauma If Presidents Don’t Have Total Immunity (Hill)
Gaza Will Be The Grave Of The Western-Led World Order (Takahashi)
Houthis Declare Safe Passage For All Russian, Chinese Ships In Red Sea (ZH)
Russia and the US Are Set For A Long Confrontation (Sushentsov)
The Ukraine Charade, Revisited (Pepe Escobar)
Western Mercenaries Used To Fill Kiev’s Expertise Gaps – Larry Johnson (RT)
French Mercenaries Dying For A Nazi Regime – Russia’s Top MP (RT)
Americans Enslaved Themselves to the State When They Accepted Income Tax (PCR)
The Biden Laptop is Proven Authentic as Past Deniers Double Down (Turley)
The Goddess of the WEF (Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

Crooke
https://twitter.com/i/status/1748027526666965195

 

 

Heritage

 

 

Tucker Robbins

 

 

Orban

 

 

 

 

We may be in for a full year+ of this. Why would it stop on November 8?

Dems Have Resurrected Law as a Weapon that Serves Power (Paul Craig Roberts)

Fani Willis, the incompetent and apparently corrupt black female Atlanta district attorney reportedly put in office by George Soros’ billions, is in more hot water than Trump is in from her fabricated case against him. Fani appointed Nathan Wade, who is believed to be her lover, special prosecutor to aid in Trump’s kangaroo trial. According to county records reviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fulton County paid Wade $654,000 in tax payers’ money since January 2022. The money appears to be what financed the couple’s lavish vacations. The white liberal Democrats are disturbed that Willis was so stupid as to damage her case against Trump by destroying her credibility and public perception of her integrity. Fani’s defense is, of course, that the race card is being played against her as she and her lover are black. There are two ways you can look at her self-justification.

One is that blacks have learned from Jews that a claim of victimhood is a shield against being held accountable. The other is that she has no comprehension of acceptable behavior for public officials. We have an interesting situation in which the prosecutions at the state and county level against Trump are in the hands of black women put in office by George Soros. Why is Soros doing this? Some people think that Soros himself got away with stealing his billions from the Bank of England via his manipulation of the British currency. Where was James Bond when the British needed him? Criminal justice in America is in a serious situation when one billionaire can staff up state and local district attorneys with blacks taught to hate “white exploiters” who are sicced on Trump, his attorneys, and his supporters. The trials are unconstitutional, because a black jury consisting of people taught to hate “white racists” does not constitute a “jury of peers” for a white person.

What happened to the justice system that a president of the US finds himself the target of weaponized law used for racial, ideological, and political reasons, and there is not a peep from law schools, bar associations, judges, or media? How can citizens have confidence in the veracity of prosecutions, the veracity of judges, law schools, bar associations? “Fulton County Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade allegedly did not disclose payments he received from working on the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump to his wife, leaving her without financial support throughout their divorce proceedings, according to a court document obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Wade, who was appointed to work on Trump’s case by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, is allegedly romantically involved with her and used the compensation he received from his position to take her on cruises and vacations, according to a motion filed Monday by a Trump co-defendant.

In separate filings for his divorce case obtained by the DCNF, Wade’s wife alleges he did not disclose to her over $700,000 in earnings from the county. “Wade’s wife alleges he has continued to draw from her bank account, leaving it “routinely overdrawn” despite “the clear inequity in financial circumstances.” His wife has been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years and relied on Wade for support during the course of their marriage, according to the filing. “Willis was subpoenaed earlier this week to testify in Wade’s divorce proceedings, according to CNN. “Wade filed for divorce on November 2, 2021, the day after his contract with Willis began, according to court filings. He had his divorce case sealed on February 10, 2022, according to the Monday motion filed by Trump co-defendant Michael Roman.

“Republican US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene sent a criminal referral Wednesday to Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr asking for an investigation into Willis and expressing “serious concerns” about the allegations. Greene suggested Willis could have violated a number of Georgia statutes, including violations of public oath, bribery, improper influence of a government official and more.”

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A DA should not be throwing mud.

Fani Willis: Wife of Lover an Adulterer and Political Conspirator (Turley)

In an surprising filing, Fulton County’s district attorney Fani Willis has accused the estranged wife of her alleged lover of conspiring to undermine the Trump prosecution by seeking her deposition in the messy divorce case of Nathan Wade. Willis, again, does not deny having an affair with Wade, who she appointed lead prosecutor in the case. Instead, she accuses Joycelyn Wade of an affair that broke up the marriage and suggests that she is coordinating with Trump forces to interfere with the prosecution. Willis is accused of major ethical violations in appointing her alleged lover to the position as she went on lavish vacations with him. She previously denounced those raising obvious ethical concerns as being racist due to the fact that both Willis and Wade are black. She did not, however, deny the intimate relationship or the allegation that Wade paid for her vacation expenses.

At issue in the filing is the demand for a pretrial deposition in the divorce case of Nathan and Joycelyn Wade on January 23. Willis’ counsel leveled a full attack on the motivations and associations of Joycelyn Wade. She accused Joycelyn Wade of having an adulterous relationship with a longtime friend of Nathan Wade’s. Willis’ counsel Cinque Axam then added that Joycelyn Wade “has conspired with interested parties in the criminal election interference case to use the civil discovery process to annoy, embarrass and oppress District Attorney Willis.” The filing noted that the allegations against Willis were used by Trump codefendant Mike Roman to seek judicial review and remedy for the alleged conflict of interest. A hearing has now been set by the court for Feb. 28th.

Willis bases her conspiracy theory on the fact that, on January 8, Roman’s filing was made public and on the same day, she was served a subpoena and Merchant moved to unseal the Wades’ divorce case. That certainly makes this all a bit different from the usual “other woman” element in the divorce case. However, it is not a smart move. The level of animus and vexatious language in the filing only magnifies the concern over the Willis-Wade relationship. By attacking the estranged wife of her alleged lover, Willis only increases concerns over the professional separation between Willis and Wade in making decisions in the case. Accusing the estranged wife of your alleged lover of being a political conspirator is about as compelling at accusing people raising ethical concerns of being virulent racists.

For example, if Wade were to exceed his authority or act unprofessionally in the case, Willis would be forced to take action against not only an alleged lover but someone she has had to defend as the ideal choice for the position. Their personal relationship would presumably weigh in the balance in any supervisory review or decision. Likewise, if Willis was taken on vacations by Wade and their relationship is continuing, the termination of his contract could have an economic impact on Willis. In the end, the accusatory motion was a mistake in my view. Willis could have objected to the necessity of the deposition on factual and legal grounds (as she does) without escalating the rhetoric and recriminations.

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”The scale of Lawfare stupid, perhaps driven by hubris and/or an entitled sense of just being above the rules, is simply off-the-charts. Crazy stuff.”

Atlanta DA Fani Willis Just Stepped on a Rake (CTH)

Boy howdy… when things get interesting, they REALLY get interesting. In an effort to deflect attention from the gross corruption she initiated in the prosecution of Donald Trump, Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis stepped into the middle of a contentious divorce between Willis’s married lover and appointed Special Prosecutor, Nathan Wade, and his wife, Joycelyn Wade. After discovering details of the relationship between Nathan Wade and Fani Willis, lawyers representing Mrs. Joycelyn Wade wanted a deposition of Fani Willis. At issue are the finances in the marriage and Mrs. Wade’s discovery that her husband, Nathan Wade, and Fani Willis had been living a life of indulgence from the marital income received (more than $650, 000) as a result of DA Willis hiring Nathan Wade to prosecute Donald Trump.

In an over-the-top court filing trying to avoid the deposition, the Fulton County’s district attorney accused the estranged wife of conspiring to undermine the Trump prosecution by seeking her testimony. Fani Willis does not deny the affair; instead, she accuses Joycelyn Wade of coordinating with Trump people and co-defendants to interfere with the prosecution. (VIA AJC Politics) – “Fulton County’s district attorney on Thursday fired back at allegations she has engaged in an “improper” relationship with her top deputy, accusing his estranged wife of trying to obstruct her prosecution of Donald Trump and his allies.” That approach by Fani Willis opened up a can of worms the district attorney likely didn’t expect. Because Mrs. Jocelyn Wade has credit card statements and receipts showing how her husband booked and paid for lavish travel, expenses and indulgences using Fani Willis’s real name as his companion.

The details and credit card statements are attached to the filing, which substantiates and supports the originating court filing by one of the co-defendants who made the allegation against Fani Willis and Nathan Wade. (via AJC Politics) […] “The records have emerged as part of the Wades’ contentious divorce proceedings in Cobb County Superior Court and have rocked Fulton’s sweeping racketeering case against the former president and 14 remaining defendants. One defendant is seeking to disqualify Willis and her office because of her alleged “improper, clandestine personal relationship” with Wade.”

[..] Nathan Wade was a lawyer specializing in family matters prior to being appointed by District Attorney Fani Willis. Mr. Wade never prosecuted a single felony case in his legal career. Judge Scott McAfee ordered District Attorney Fani Willis to file a written response by Feb. 2. He said he will hold a hearing on the allegations on Feb. 15.

Additionally, according to White House visitor logs, Mr. Nathan Wade visited White House lawyers prior to the indictment of President Trump. Also, DA Willis met with staff (Mary McCord) from the January 6 Committee prior to the indictment. The Georgia prosecutor meeting with Biden lawyers, prior to the indictment against Biden’s political opposition, is a big issue that has yet to surface in front of Judge McAfee. Something is going to change in this case as a result of these explosive findings. I suspect by Monday of next week Ms. Fani Willis will have to remove herself from any involvement in the case. Something substantive is going to change in Atlanta as a result of the discovery of her grossly inappropriate/unethical conduct, and the now exposed financial and personal relationship with the prosecutor she hired, Nathan Wade. The scale of Lawfare stupid, perhaps driven by hubris and/or an entitled sense of just being above the rules, is simply off-the-charts. Crazy stuff.

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“If these allegations are true, Willis is not just outside of the ethical navigational beacons. She is off the map.”

Georgia Prosecutors Should Go, But That Won’t End the Trump Case (Turley)

Chris Christie once said that Donald Trump is often portrayed by legal counsel as “the unluckiest S.O.B. in the world.” Perhaps, but when it comes to his enemies, Trump sometimes seems to find advantages despite his worst efforts. Many of us have criticized Trump for his personal attacks on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as being racist and unethical; he even accused her of having an affair with a gang member, a claim that was widely contested as unfounded and denied by key figures. This month, however, Willis has seemingly imploded with an ethical scandal which, unlike Trump’s prior claims, appears perhaps to be more well-founded, as it appears in an official court filing. It involves reports of an intimate relationship with Nathan Wade, appointed by Willis as lead prosecutor in the Trump case.

While a recusal or removal of Willis may delay the case, it will not end the legal threat for Trump. Willis is accused of having a romantic relationship with Wade when she appointed him in this historic prosecution of a former president. Wade has no experience in racketeering law, yet he reportedly was paid more than an expert on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) cases. Willis and Wade allegedly went on lavish vacations together, and the costs allegedly were covered by Wade, who has received nearly $654,000 in legal fees since January 2022 — approved, ultimately, by Willis. Wade has presented himself as the “only individual in the DA’s office who had authority to enter into agreements pertaining to the investigation.” Wade also has been held in contempt in his messy divorce.

The Georgia courts have established that a district attorney should be disqualified when there is a personal interest in the defendant’s conviction (Whitworth v. State, 275 Ga. App. 790, 793, 622 S.E.2d 21 [2005]). In this instance, Willis has staked much of her career on this case and appointed a prosecutor who’s alleged to be romantically involved with her; likewise, if the allegations are true, Willis may have an interest in furthering Wade’s career and benefits. Of course, Trump, the other defendants, and the public are entitled to disinterested prosecutors in this major case. Moreover, the Fulton County Code of Laws § 2-66 bars conflicts of interest “in fact and in appearance.” It expressly states that no “officer or employee shall, by his or her conduct, give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or her, or unduly enjoy his or her favor, in the performance of any official acts or actions.”

These provisions are in addition to prohibitions on the receipt of gifts due to one’s office, such as possibly receiving alleged lavish vacations paid for by your subordinate. These are just some of the grounds supporting a motion by Michael Roman, one of the defendants in the massive racketeering case brought by Willis. If these allegations are true, Willis is not just outside of the ethical navigational beacons. She is off the map.

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“..if other states follow Colorado’s lead, it would “unleash chaos and bedlam.”

Trump’s Lawyers Warn Of Nationwide ‘Chaos’ (RT)

Donald Trump’s lawyers have warned that the entire entire US could be plunged into chaos if the country’s Supreme Court upholds the state of Colorado’s decision to remove the republican presidential frontrunner from its ballot. Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Trump ineligible to run for re-election and removed him from the ballot for the presidential primary on March 5. The court cited the 14th Amendment, which bans insurrectionists from holding public office. Trump’s lawyers argued again on Thursday that the former president had not instigated the riot on January 6, 2021. The Colorado ruling, which was the first of its kind, has been left in limbo pending a decision by the US Supreme Court, with the first oral arguments in the case set for February 8.

“The court should put a swift and decisive end to these ballot-disqualification efforts, which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. They added that, if other states follow Colorado’s lead, it would “unleash chaos and bedlam.” The former president’s legal team also noted that the piece of legislation invoked by the Colorado Supreme Court can only be applied to an “officer of the United States,” which Trump is not. The attorneys insisted that the Republican firebrand was not inciting insurrection when he called on his supporters to “fight like hell” on January 6, and was merely “raising concerns about the integrity of the recent federal election.”

According to Trump’s defense team, he used the phrase strictly metaphorically, not expecting his supporters to interpret it as a call for violence. They added that, as events began to unfold on Capitol Hill that day, Trump “repeatedly called for peace, patriotism, and law and order.” House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and several other Republican lawmakers have also called on the US Supreme Court to void Colorado’s “insurrectionist ban.” A number of GOP secretaries of state also warned the judges that Trump’s potential removal from ballots would lead to a “foreseeable and unfortunate parade of horribles.” On January 6, the Maine secretary of state passed a tentative ballot ban similar to that in Colorado, with multiple lawsuits filed in other states as well. The final say, however, rests with the US Supreme Court.

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“..full immunity, without which it would be impossible for him/her to properly function. Any mistake, even if well intended, would be met with almost certain indictment by the opposing party at term end..”

Trump Warns Of Years Of Trauma If Presidents Don’t Have Total Immunity (Hill)

Former President Trump said there would be “years of trauma” if presidents are not awarded total immunity from prosecution for their actions in the White House — even if those actions “cross the line.” “A president of the United States must have full immunity, without which it would be impossible for him/her to properly function. Any mistake, even if well intended, would be met with almost certain indictment by the opposing party at term end,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post early Thursday morning, writing in all capital letters. “Even events that ‘cross the line’ must fall under total immunity, or it will be years of trauma trying to determine good from bad,” he added. “There must be certainty.”

Trump compared the president to a police officer, who Trump argued should not be stopped from “doing the job of strong and effective crime prevention” simply because of a “bad apple,” adding, “Sometimes you just have to live with ‘great but slightly imperfect.’” Trump’s comments come one week after his attorney, John Sauer, made a similar case before a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals for a motion from Trump’s team to toss his election interference federal charges. During the hearing, the judges appeared skeptical of the argument that presidents could only be prosecuted if they had already been impeached and convicted by the Senate.

When asked whether a president who directed SEAL Team Six to kill a political opponent would then be immune from prosecution for that action, Sauer answered with a “qualified yes,” unless the president was convicted by the Senate first. One judge on the panel noted that, under that framework, a president could take any action on his or her last day in office without fear of criminal prosecution or simply resign shortly thereafter — preventing Congress from impeaching and convicting in time.

The appeals court seems poised to reject Trump’s argument in the case, and Trump has signaled his intention to appeal an unsatisfactory ruling to the Supreme Court. Trump again hinted at his intention to appeal to the high court in his post Thursday. “All presidents must have complete & total presidential immunity, or the authority & decisiveness of a president of the United States will be stripped & gone forever,” Trump wrote. “Hopefully this will be an easy decision. God bless the Supreme Court!” he added.

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“..However, it is too little, too late. Western credibility has been shredded irrevocably..”

Gaza Will Be The Grave Of The Western-Led World Order (Takahashi)

No matter how it concludes, South Africa’s lawsuit in the International Court of Justice arguing Israel has violated the Genocide Convention will go down in history. It will either be remembered as the first step towards finally holding a rogue state accountable for repeated, longstanding violations of international law; or as the last, dying breath of a dysfunctional, Western-led international system. For the hypocrisy of Western governments (and the Western political elite as a whole) has finally brought the so-called “rules-based world order” they purport to lead to the point of no return. Full-throttled Western support for Israel’s genocidal rampage in Gaza has truly exposed the double standards of the West with regard to human rights and international law. There is no turning back, and the West has only its own arrogance to blame.

The litany of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel in Gaza are clear as the light of day for anybody who has access to a smartphone. Social media feeds are overflowing with videoclips of hospitals and schools being bombed, fathers pulling out the lifeless bodies of their children from under destroyed buildings, mothers crying over the corpses of their babies. And yet, the reaction of Western governments – besides seemingly limitless military and political support – has been to label any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism and attempt to ban outright any expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Regardless of this oppression, tens of thousands of people are coming out on the streets day after day expressing their disgust at Israeli atrocities and Western complicity. Desperate to regain some semblance of credibility, Western governments (including the US) have recently started to be marginally critical of Israeli attacks. However, it is too little, too late. Western credibility has been shredded irrevocably.

Of course, Western hypocrisy is nothing new. According to Western governments, the world should be up in arms about Russian aggression but should be perfectly happy with Israeli brutality and flouting of international norms. Ukrainians who throw Molotov cocktails at Russian occupation forces are heroes and freedom fighters, while Palestinians (and others) who dare to speak out against Israeli apartheid are terrorists. White-skinned refugees from Ukraine are more than welcome, while black and brown-skinned refugees from conflicts in the Middle East, Asia and Africa (most of which the West are behind) can sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean. The Western attitude has truly been: rules for thee, not for me. The Western position towards China exhibits the same insincerity. China is virtually encircled by American and allied military bases, armed to the hilt. Yet it is China that is guilty of… what? Unable to point to any concrete infraction, Western governments and media can only accuse China of “increased assertiveness”, ie, not knowing its assigned subjugate place in the Western hegemonic order.

International justice has become a sick joke. Were the International Criminal Court (ICC) functioning effectively, Israeli leaders would be on trial even as we speak, and there would have been no need for South Africa to approach the ICJ. As it stands, though, the ICC only indicted Africans until 2022, when it announced an investigation into the Russian invasion of Ukraine less than a week after its start. The ICC issued indictments, including for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, in less than a year. Conversely, it took over six years for the ICC to open an investigation into the situation in Palestine, and even now, years later, meaningful action has yet to be taken. While Israel continued its orgy of violence against the people of Gaza, Karim Khan, the British Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, visited Israel and stressed the need for Hamas’s crimes to be prosecuted, while going soft on Israeli crimes. Little wonder many civil society organisations are calling for him to be fired.

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“It represented pressure on Israel only, it did not represent pressure on any country in the world.”

Houthis Declare Safe Passage For All Russian, Chinese Ships In Red Sea (ZH)

In a remarkable development, and at a moment European retailers and factories are beginning to bear the brunt of the global shipping chaos and soaring Red Sea transit risk, the Houthis have declared safe passage for Russia and China. A senior Houthi official, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, mentioned these US rivals by name in an interview with the Russian outlet Izvestia on Friday. “As for all other countries, including Russia and China, their shipping in the region is not threatened,” he said, stipulating this will remain as long as they are not linked to Israel or its supporters. “Moreover, we are ready to ensure the safe passage of their ships in the Red Sea, because free navigation plays a significant role for our country,” he added, but then underscored that attacks on ships will continue if they are “in any way connected with Israel.”

The spokesman went on to blame the Red Sea crisis on Israel’s (and its backers) refusal to reverse course in Gaza, given its aerial and ground campaign as continued. “Ansar Allah [the group’s formal name] does not pursue the goal of capturing or sinking this or that sea vessel,” he claimed. “Our goal is to raise the economic costs for [Israel] in order to stop the carnage in Gaza.” Some of the vessels which have come under attack thus far actually have connection to dozens of countries, but ships with Russian or Chinese ownership, or deep ties, have yet to be attacked. Another Houthi official told Reuters separately that the group doesn’t seek to expand its campaign, after a fragile peace took effect with Saudi Arabia and the EUA concerning the Yemeni civil war:

Yemen’s Houthis have said they do not intend to expand their attacks on shipping in and around the Red Sea, beyond their stated aims of blockading Israel and retaliating against the US and Britain for airstrikes. In an interview with Reuters, spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam, who is also the chief Houthi negotiator in peace talks over Yemen’s decade-old civil war, said the group had no plans to target its longstanding foes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “We do not want the escalation to expand. This is not our demand. We imposed rules of engagement in which not a single drop of blood was shed or major material losses,” said Abdulsalam. “It represented pressure on Israel only, it did not represent pressure on any country in the world.”

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“.It was that the West would deal Russia a quick defeat, a lot of economic resources would be freed up, and relations with Moscow would be rebuilt on a different platform, more favorable to the EU..”

Russia and the US Are Set For A Long Confrontation (Sushentsov)

Relations between Russia and the United States have entered a prolonged phase that can be described as a “long confrontation.” If the interaction between Moscow and Washington were still the central process of international life, as was the case during the Cold War, this new phase might be considered temporary. But the Moscow-Washington confrontation is now one of many. More importantly, it is taking place in conditions that occur once every few centuries – a period of global redistribution of power and resource potential. This process affects our country and the US only in part. Within a few decades, the center of global production and consumption will finally shift to Asia, and the center of world economic gravity will be on the border of India and China. In this context, the long-standing Russian-American confrontation will remain one of the main fault-lines, but certainly not the only one.

Why do I think this confrontation will be protracted? Despite significant resource advantages and strong positions in key areas, the US finds itself in a situation where its pursuers are catching up fast. Washington is faced with an increasingly dense international environment that poses obstacles to previously unfettered American action. The four US strengths that underpin its offensive strategy are: first, its still-advanced military power; second, its central global financial system, which provides an international settlement infrastructure and a convertible currency; third, its strong position in a number of technological fields; and fourth, its ideology and values platform, which, together with the other three dimensions, provide what can be tentatively called a “pyramid of credibility” for American strategy in the world.

This pyramid exists in the economic and financial spheres as well as in foreign policy. Trust explains the irrational behavior of some European states. Incapable of a balanced analysis of the consequences of their decisions, for example on the Ukraine crisis, they are now forced to ask themselves, as the German magazine Der Spiegel does: “What if the United States has no permanent allies? Western Europeans trusted the logic offered by the United States, they literally ‘bought’ the proposal. It was that the West would deal Russia a quick defeat, a lot of economic resources would be freed up, and relations with Moscow would be rebuilt on a different platform, more favorable to the EU. The belief was that it would be an effective strategy.”

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“..There is no “Biden”. Just Team Biden: a corporate combo featuring low-rent messengers such as de facto neocon Little Blinkie..”

The Ukraine Charade, Revisited (Pepe Escobar)

Selected players scattered around the Beltway silos of power, diligently working as messengers for the people who really run the show in the Hegemon, have concluded that a no holds barred confrontation with Russia would lead to the collapse of all of NATO; undo decades of US iron grip on Europe; and ultimately cause the Empire’s downfall. Playing brinkmanship games sooner or later would meet the indestructible red lines inbuilt in the unmovable Russian object. US elites are smarter than that. They may excel on calculated risk. But when the stakes are this high, they know when to hedge and when to fold. The “loss” of Ukraine – now a graphic imperative – is not worth risking the loss of the whole Hegemonic ride. That would be too much for the Empire to lose.

So even as they get increasingly desperate with the accelerated imperial plunge into a geopolitical and geoeconomic abyss, they’re frantically changing the narrative – a domain in which they excel. And that explains why discombobulated European vassals in NATO-controlled EU are now in total panic. Davos this week offered bucketloads of Orwellian salad. The key, frantic messages: War is peace. Ukraine is not (italics mine) losing and Russia is not winning. Hence Ukraine needs way more weaponizing. Yet even Norwegian Wood Stoltenberg was told to toe the new line that matters: “NATO is not moving into Asia. It’s China that is coming close to us.” That certainly adds a new wacky meaning to the notion of moving tectonic plates. There is a total void of “leadership” in Washington.

There is no “Biden”. Just Team Biden: a corporate combo featuring low-rent messengers such as de facto neocon Little Blinkie. They do what they’re told by wealthy “donors” and the financial-military interests that really run the show, reciting the same old cliché-saturated lines day after day, bit players in a Theatre of the Absurd. Only one exhibit suffices. Reporter: “Are the airstrikes in Yemen working?” The President of the United States: “Well, when you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they gonna continue? Yes.” The same in what passes for “strategic thinking” applies to Ukraine. The Hegemon is not being lured into fighting in West Asia – as much as the genocidal arrangement in Tel Aviv, in tandem with US Zio-cons, wants to drag it into a war on Iran.

Still, the imperial machine is being steered to keep the Forever Wars engine running, non-stop, at varying speeds. The elites in charge are way more clinical than the whole Team Biden. They know they will not win in what will soon be country 404. But the tactical victory, so far, is massive: enormous profits out of the frantic weaponizing; totally gutting European industry and sovereignty; reducing the EU to the sub-status of a lowly vassal; and from now on plenty of time to find new proxy warriors against Russia – from Polish and Baltic fanatics to the whole Takfiri-neo ISIS galaxy.

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“I think Russia sent a very clear message in killing these mercenaries: If you are going to send them over here, if you are going to send that materiel, we’re gonna kill you..”

Western Mercenaries Used To Fill Kiev’s Expertise Gaps – Larry Johnson (RT)

Ukraine is probably experiencing a shortage of soldiers who can handle complex Western weapons systems, former CIA analyst Larry Johnson has told RT. A Russian report this week about a strike on “French mercenaries” in Kharkov may be a warning to would-be clandestine arms technicians that Paris plans to supply, he believes. France has denied having mercenaries in Ukraine or anywhere else in the world, responding to the statement by the Defense Ministry of Russia. Moscow said some 60 foreign fighters, most of them French, died in the long-range attack. Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to supply additional air-launched SCALP cruise missiles to support Kiev’s fight.

“I strongly suspect that many of those French ‘mercenaries’ – and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brits and Americans scattered in there as well – are being brought in to help operate systems that they’ve been trained on previously in prior military careers,” Johnson said. He named the US-made long-range Patriot anti-aircraft missile and the Storm Shadow, the British counterpart to SCALP, as examples of donated arms that may require competent foreign staff to deploy. France is making itself a target by openly arming Kiev, Johnson told the broadcaster, contrasting current events with how the US acted in the past, when it sought to undermine the USSR. “When the US ran covert operations through the CIA to fund the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets, it was done with some measure of secrecy and at least keeping up a pretense that we were not directly in conflict,” he pointed out.

“I think Russia sent a very clear message in killing these mercenaries: If you are going to send them over here, if you are going to send that materiel, we’re gonna kill you,” the analyst added. Johnson believes that Moscow could have acted in a far bolder manner in targeting Ukraine’s foreign donors, and that its reluctance to do so has been taken in the West as a sign of weakness. “It’s not that, but the West has a track record of misinterpreting Russia on many points,” he commented.

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“There was a time when our grandfathers and great grandfathers fought together against fascism. Now, it turns out that French mercenaries are dying for the Nazi regime in Ukraine..”

French Mercenaries Dying For A Nazi Regime – Russia’s Top MP (RT)

The French public and lawmakers should be aware that their compatriots are fighting and dying as mercenaries in Ukraine, Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said on Friday. The senior lawmaker was commenting on an announcement by the Defense Ministry in Moscow earlier this week, which said some 60 foreign fighters, most of them French citizens, were killed by a Russian long-range strike on the city of Kharkov on Tuesday. The Russian military described them as “mercenaries,” although the French Foreign Ministry disputed this description, insisting that Paris “has no ‘mercenaries’ either in Ukraine or anywhere else.”

In a post on social media, Volodin said the lower chamber of the Russian parliament will soon consider a formal request to French lawmakers about the incident. “There was a time when our grandfathers and great grandfathers fought together against fascism. Now, it turns out that French mercenaries are dying for the Nazi regime in Ukraine,” he stressed. On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned French Ambassador to Moscow Pierre Levy in connection with the incident. Ukrainian officials have denied the veracity of the Russian military’s announcement and have claimed that Moscow’s forces only hit civilian targets in Kharkov on Tuesday.

Last summer, the Le Monde newspaper reported that French national intelligence estimated the number of its nationals fighting in Ukraine at 320. The overall pool of would-be recruits was put at 800, including 120 identified as far-right and 40 deemed ultra-left in terms of ideology. Overwhelmingly, they wanted to fight for Kiev rather than Moscow. The report followed the arrest in April of two men who had returned to Paris from Ukraine, illegally carrying assault rifle magazines and optical sights. The local press described them as far-right individuals who were previously known to the French General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI). Both were sentenced to 15 months in jail, nine of which were suspended.

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“A “free American” has ceased to exist. Such an American predates 1913..”

Americans Enslaved Themselves to the State When They Accepted Income Tax (PCR)

It was not until 1913, 137 years after the Declaration of Independence established a free people who are no longer free, that there was an income tax. Years ago I researched and wrote the story of how it happened. It exists somewhere in print. In the old analogue, library card file days, it would have been easy to find. The income tax required a Constitutional Amendment. I remember some of the story. What I remember is this: The threshold for being subject to income tax was high, and the first rate was 1%. The Georgia legislature voted to ratify the amendment because as one legislative leader concluded, “there’s no one in Georgia with an income high enough to be subject to the tax. Let the Yankees tax themselves. Why should we object.” There was no vision of the future. 1913 was also the year that the Federal Reserve, with its policy of depression, inflation, recession, and inflation, was established and unleashed on America, and it was also the year that World War I and its inflation was about to be launched by the French, Russian, and British Governments.

War and inflation quickly brought income tax home to insouciant Americans who thought they were exempt.In 1963 prior to the Kennedy tax rate reductions the top tax rate was 91% on incomes above $200,000. Kennedy left it at 70%. Reagan left it at 50%. Today it is 39.6%, or with rounding 40% The highest medieval tax rate on serfs was 30%. Anything higher and they revolted and killed the feudal lords. 50% was the highest tax rate on cotton plantation slaves. The other 50% of their work went for their food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. What is indisputable is that for more than a hundred years the tax rate on American citizens has been higher or equal to the tax rate on medieval serfs and 19th century plantation slaves. What does this mean? It means that Americans and the entirety of Europeans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders are slaves in the same sense that blacks were slaves on southern cotton plantations.

The historical fact is that a free person is a person who owns his own labor. Just as a slave does not own his own labor, neither does any person who is subject to income tax. In the anti-South propaganda in the 19th century, such as the propagandistic “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” southern slave owners are portrayed unrealistically as demoralizing their work force and destroying their capital investments in human labor by demoralizing and alienating their slaves by separating families and whipping, beating, and raping their work force. A slave was expensive. To abuse him or her is the equivalent of abusing an expensive piece of machinery. It makes no sense for an owner to abuse his own resources. Yet southern planation owners are portrayed as people who ran torture prisons.

Neither the South nor the United States are responsible for black slaves in America. The slaves that came to the New World came from the Black Kingdom of Dahomey’s slave wars. The captured slaves were carried to the New World in ships often financed by Jews. The southern plantations were not responsible for the origin of their work force. Indeed, it was an inherited institution. For decades as April 15 approached, I pointed out that it is today’s white people who pay the income taxes who are the real victims of slavery. Even after the Reagan marginal tax rate reductions, Americans pay a higher rate of tax, that is, they are more enslaved, than medieval serfs and are almost exploited by “their government” to the same extent as 19th century black slaves. So what is “white privilege”? It is to be a slave owned by Washington, used to support privileged people of color, including millions of immigrant-invaders settled by Democrats on American slaves who pay for their upkeep?

A “free American” has ceased to exist. Such an American predates 1913. The American liberal-left doesn’t mind being enslaved to a good cause–the coercive use of American citizens to support causes that the people reject, such as the normalization of sexual perversion, the genocide of the Palestinians, the demonization of white people, the use of the “justice system” to destroy ideological and political opponents. Today the insouciant American people are enslaved for causes that are to their detriment, unlike the plantation’s agenda of growing cotton. The American people voluntarily accepted slavery, because they thought it would apply to others–the rich. But as multi-billionaire Warren Buffet has said, his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.

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“I’m telling you, you’re wrong about these things, and you don’t listen.”

The Biden Laptop is Proven Authentic as Past Deniers Double Down (Turley)

After years of suppressing the story and casting doubts over its authenticity, many in the media in the last year have belatedly and reluctantly acknowledged that the Hunter Biden laptop is real. Some of us reached that conclusion years ago due to the self-authenticating emails confirmed by third parties. However, the denials and doubts have continued, including most recently by Rep. Dan Goldman (D., N.Y.) in hearings. The Justice Department has now again confirmed the authenticity and added details on why these denials are unsupported. This week, the Justice Department confirmed that the laptop was authenticated through forensic examination and a search warrant on Hunter’s Apple iCloud. Hunter’s electronic devices were backed up on the Cloud and “the results of the search were largely duplicative of information investigators had already obtained from Apple.”

That is only the latest such confirmation, but some have continued to desperately cast doubts the laptop, which Hunter himself said might be the product of Russian intelligence. Once again, the last dogs in this fruitless fight are the most partisan among us. Rep. Goldman, for example, recently lambasted witnesses who referenced the laptop and challenged the credibility of a journalist who cited the laptop. Goldman attacked Journalist Michael Shellenberger and declared “You have no idea, you know hard drives can be manipulated. Hard drives can be manipulated by Rudy Giuliani or Russia. There is actual evidence of it, but the point is it’s not the same thing.” Goldman has never revealed the “actual evidence” showing that the laptop is fake or why the Justice Department and FBI are making the same false claim in court if such evidence exists.

The same week that the Biden Administration again confirmed the authenticity of the laptop, one of the loudest laptop deniers wrote a telling column on why the public should avoid researching such questions on their own. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has repeatedly pushed false stories from Lafayette Park to Russian collusion to the laptop. Even after many in the media admitted that the laptop was authentic, Bump was still declaring that it was a “conspiracy theory.” Recently, in response to a column on these false claims, the Post remarkably declared that Bump’s original claims on Lafayette Park, the Hunter Biden laptop, and Russian collusion were true and they stand by them. This week, Bump warned citizens that they needed to continue to get their news from the media and not try to learn the truth on their own.

In a column titled “Doing your own research is a good way to end up being wrong,” Bump states without an sense of self-awareness that citizens will often “embrace dubious information supporting their belief than information that corroborates the allegations” — precisely what critics have accused Bump of doing for years on the laptop and other false stories. Bump’s column is a must read for understanding the sense of entitlement of columnists in today’s age of “advocacy journalism.” It is consistent with what Bump said in an interview last year before he walked out after being confronted about false stories. In a podcast interview with Noam Dworman, Bump became exasperated and said “I’m gonna lose my mind” when Dworman offered facts contradicting his view. Ironically, when Dworman noted that half of the country does not believe his positions, Bump shot back “I know, because half the country doesn’t actually dig into the issues.”

However, Bump does not believe that they should actually dig into the issues but accept his view. He chastised Dworman and the public “because you don’t listen to the press. I’m sitting here and I’m telling you, you’re wrong about these things, and you don’t listen … you refuse to listen to what I’m saying to you. You asked me on to present evidence. I keep telling you.” Indeed, Bump and others kept telling people that the laptop was a “conspiracy theory” and possible Russian disinformation. Now, he is reminding people not to do their own research as the Post expressly declared that the prior false claims in his columns were actually true. This is why, at the start of our Republic, alternative media sprang up with pamphleteers like Thomas Paine. Citizens rejected the state-supporting media and searched for their own sources. Today citizen journalists can be found on the Internet in blogs and other sites that carry opposing views or accounts.

The media is already moving to be sure that the public is limited in what they are allowed to see or hear. After Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained to viewers that the network had decided that they should not hear Trump’s victory speech because he would only tell them “untrue things.” As noted by Bump, citizens are much safer to just accept what they are given and avoid the temptation to do their own research. Censorship is now actually proclaimed as a form of virtue signaling, assuring viewers that they will not have to hear certain opposing views or figures. There is little tolerance for those who insist on seeking out such news. After all, as the Post’s Bump explained, “I’m telling you, you’re wrong about these things, and you don’t listen.”

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“.. the loving smile of the life-giver caressing humanity like a spring zephyr wafting through the piney Schwarzwald on a June morning..”

The Goddess of the WEF (Kunstler)

Tell me: is there a fairer grandmotherly face than this in all of Western Civ? Does it not seem to radiate eons of aggregate wisdom, maternal kindness, bountiful nurture, caring, and healing, and even a hint of fun in the nursury. . . the rectified essence of Teutonic beauty, fertility, vitality, and virtue. . . the loving smile of the life-giver caressing humanity like a spring zephyr wafting through the piney Schwarzwald on a June morning? That is exactly why Ursula von der Leyen was (s)elected President of the European Commission, and why she was sent out to front the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week in her keynote speech to the assembled global grandees of Davos in the dead chill of January. It’s one thing when a cadaverous goblin such as Yuval Noah Harari tells you to eat bugs, and quite another thing when Oma Ursula tells you Keine Sorge, Kinder. Alles ist gut.

Ursula did offer us children-of-the-world one wee note of caution, though, as every good “grammy” might give to the global kindergarten: watch out for misinformation and disinformation on the internet! Like the evil imps of the Germanic Märchen, these wicked forces lurk and propagate on the internet — waiting to dash all of the WEF’s benevolent plans for our utopian future. That’s why, she explained, the European Commission has drawn up the Digital Services Act — because misinfo and disinfo can fluoresce into hate speech, the most dangerous thing in the world. It must be stomped out! Ground into the dirt under a boot heel! Misinfo and disinfo about what, exactly? Ursula omitted to specify, but we can guess, can’t we? For instance, about how more and more every year the WEF seems to operate like a global racketeering operation, seeking the levers of control in all the naughtiest sovereign nations of the earth overpopulated with “useless eaters” who are remorselessly busy wrecking the climate to enjoy, say, in the case of the USA, their loathsome motor-sports, mega-churches, gun shows, hot-tubs, and Golden Corral All-You-Can-Eat buffets!

The WEF, a racket? A cabal of haughty control freaks? What a hateful thing to say, after everything kindly onkel Schwabenklaus has done for mankind! It hurts our feelings to hear this! Yet, why do scores of billionaires flock to the yearly Davos meet-up and coordinate their funding streams into countless NGOs and shadowy activist organizations aimed at manipulating the activities of governments around the world? I assure you it’s hardly for the fabulous hors d’oeuvre platters or the even more fabulous on-call hookers. (The nabobs of finance must be satisfied with the services of their personal chefs and masseuses.) Ursula says the WEF notables meet annually “because our democracies and our businesses have interests that align: creating prosperity, wealth and security for people, creating a stable environment to unlock innovation and investment, and creating equal opportunity and freedom.”

I have some disappointing news for you: grandmother Ursula is lying (alas, we live in time of epic disappointments). If the WEF wanted “stability” you would not see Alex (and papa George) Soros pouring money into every county DA election from Maine to California to make sure that looting, car-jacking, and mayhem go unpunished. . . or that men of military age from every failed state on the planet get flown across the oceans to NGO-supported waystations in Central America so that the cartels of Mexico can take over the final leg of their illegal entry into the USA. . . or ditto the boats ferrying Africans and Arabs across the Mediterranean to overwhelm the societies of Europe — including especially Grammy Ursula’s Germany.

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Ruyi bridge

 

 

Elephant

 

 

 

 

Lynx


“One of the best examples of cryptic plumage and mimicry in Australian birds is seen in the tawny frogmouth, which perch low on tree branches during the day camouflaged as part of the tree”

Meet my mum

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 212023
 


Rene Magritte Memory 1948

 

Even Peace Is Made In China (Juan Cole)
Xi’s Moscow Visit Is A Key Moment In The Struggle To End US Hegemony (Trenin)
Xi Says Deepening Ties With Moscow Is Beijing’s Strategic Choice (TASS)
Putin Tells Xi He’s “Open To Negotiating Process” On Ukraine (ZH)
The Lord of Chaos (Chris Hedges)
Orbán: ‘Europe Suffers From War Psychosis’ (RMX)
US Obsessed With Idea Of Dealing Strategic Blow To Russia – Antonov (TASS)
Ukraine Will Have Only One Shot At A Counteroffensive – Czech President (RT)
Russia Wrote Off $20 Billion Of African Nations’ Debts – Putin (TASS)
African Countries Always Been Equal Allies For Russia – Duma Speaker (TASS)
Putin Makes Prediction About Africa (RT)
This Has Got to Stop (Kunstler)
House GOP Demands Answers From Manhattan DA Over Trump Indictment (ZH)
NYPD Mobilizes 700 Riot Cops, Steel Barricades For Potential Trump Arrest (TP)
Ron DeSantis Breaks Silence On Trump’s Possible Arrest (RT)
The Financial System Is Terminally Broken (Egon von Greyerz)
US Studies How To Guarantee All $18 Trillion In US Bank Deposits (ZH)

 

 

 

 

Sperm has been almost entirely replaced by spike proteins

 

 

 

 

Our friends are dead

 

 

Today they need tanks

 

 

 

 

Tucker Dowd
https://twitter.com/i/status/1637859586500640768

 

 

Tucker Biden Inc.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1637988901217505284

<

 

 

“Xi Jinping, upon his arrival in Moscow, uttered the most seditious words from the point of view of the West: ‘China is ready to stand together with Russia to guard the world order based on int’l law’ not on the ‘rules’ invented by someone, but on the law!” — Vladimir Kornilov

Xi Jinping: “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.”

p> 

 

Galloway
https://twitter.com/i/status/1637951197255548928

 

 

 

 

Interview with Robert Scheer.

Even Peace Is Made In China (Juan Cole)

I think the United States still has it in its mind that it’s the world hegemon and that they can do what they want. So if they want to break treaties with Iran and put them under an economic blockade, they can do that with not very much consequence to the United States. But what they don’t realize is that, well, the U.S. has something like a $20 to 23 trillion economy annually, and China now has a $17 trillion economy annually. So the United States is just not the only game in town anymore. And that’s not been the case since the end of World War II, when the U.S. was 50% of the world economy. It’s just becoming smaller, it has a smaller proportion of world wealth and power. And it is also true that the United States, you know, is in the Middle East for particular purposes.

They want to guarantee that the oil comes out of the Persian Gulf. And so it’s very security oriented. And to the extent that they saw Iran as a spoiler, the Islamic revolution of 1979 was explicitly anti-American. It has had potentially bad effects on American investments in the Middle East. American corporations have suffered. So the U.S. sees Iran as a bad actor and wants to contain it, put it in a cage, crash its economy if it can, overthrow its government, if it’s not too much trouble, and China is not behaving that way in the Middle East, the Chinese have, for a long time, had this doctrine of harmonious development, and they just don’t want any trouble as they grow into this enormous behemoth on the world stage. And so they don’t have anything against Iran. It doesn’t say anything to them.

And they also don’t have anything against Saudi Arabia. They do trade with both and that’s their policy to do trade with everybody if they can. And so I think they can just be more evenhanded. The United States has picked winners and losers in the region and people that it wants to punish and people that it wants to help. And, you know, it has this, you mentioned, that it has this rhetoric of spreading freedom and democracy and so forth. But it’s all very hypocritical because Saudi Arabia is one of the pillars of U.S. policy in the Middle East and it’s the least democratic country you could hope to find. And it’s never criticized by the State Department for its human rights abuses in any concerted way or in a very public way, whereas Iran is a very flawed system and very dictatorial.


“We see increasing threats from China, in particular in the Indo-Pacific. We feel like we’re not moving fast enough to build a bigger Navy,” says U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher.

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Dmitry Trenin is a research professor at the Higher School of Economics and a lead research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations. He is also a member of the Russian International Affairs Council.

Xi’s Moscow Visit Is A Key Moment In The Struggle To End US Hegemony (Trenin)

[..] the Chinese and Russian leaders certainly understand that they must wreck Washington’s plan of defeating Moscow first and then turning on Beijing. As a result, American warnings and threats to the Chinese over the assistance they can give to Russia may actually be counter-productive. The leadership will find the tone of these admonitions rude and disrespectful – particularly in conjunction with forthcoming American arms deliveries to Taipei. While China certainly cares about the US and EU markets for its goods and services, but it wonders whether it can really trust Washington and its allies, given Moscow’s experience with the Minsk agreements on Donbass which, as the former German and French leaders have admitted, were nothing but a ploy to buy time.

Thus, much more coordination between Beijing and Moscow can be expected. This does not presage a new military bloc in Eurasia, but instead a greater joint effort to help the world move faster toward multipolarity, which effectively means ending American global hegemony. One way to achieve this would be by reducing role of the US dollar in international transactions. Much of the Sino-Russian bilateral trade is already carried out in the Chinese yuan; but the yuan can also be used in dealing with third countries. Another way to help bring about the new world order is upgrading non-Western institutions, such as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to set the agenda for the world in areas such as finance and technology, energy and climate, and, not least, international security.

China’s recent rise as a worldwide geopolitical – not just geo-economic – player, exemplified by its recent brokering of the Iranian-Saudi rapprochement, is welcomed in Russia as a practical step toward the new order. Moscow and Beijing can be more successful if they act jointly to reduce the economic and political dependence of many countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America on the US and its European allies. In the field of military security, there is much that Russia and China can benefit from through closer collaboration – beyond the existing formats. The main goal here is dissuading Washington, by deed not just word, from escalating the proxy war against Russia in Ukraine and from provoking Beijing over Taiwan.

One specific area is in-depth dialogue on nuclear policies and nuclear proliferation under the present conditions of major-power confrontation and actual conflict. Even as they work on transitioning to a multipolar future, Putin and Xi bear a huge responsibility to make sure that this transition happens without a shooting war between the major powers. China and Russia cooperating more closely on security issues would make the transition safer.


10 years ago today, the newly elected Chinese President Xi Jinping came to Moscow with his wife, Peng Liyuan.

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Talked for 4.5 hours. The actual talks start only today.

Xi Says Deepening Ties With Moscow Is Beijing’s Strategic Choice (TASS)

During a Moscow meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said that fostering bilateral relations was Beijing’s strategic choice, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its website on Tuesday. “To consolidate and develop well China-Russia relations is a strategic choice China has made on the basis of its own fundamental interests and the prevailing trends of the world,” China’s MFA said on its website, underscoring the statements Xi made during the informal meeting.


Xi also noted that China was firm in pursuing its course toward strengthening strategic cooperation with Russia. The two presidents “had an in-depth exchange” of opinions on Ukraine. According to the Chinese leader, most countries support easing tensions, stand for peace talks and oppose “adding fuel to the fire,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry added. Xi assured Putin that “China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine issue,” the Chinese MFA said.

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“we have looked at your proposals for the resolution of the Ukraine conflict” and previewed that “we will discuss this question.”

Putin Tells Xi He’s “Open To Negotiating Process” On Ukraine (ZH)

What’s being described as an initial, informal meeting between Presidents Xi and Putin is underway at the Kremlin. While the expected cordialities and expressions of closer relations were exchange, among the most notable early statements came from Putin, who said he’s “open” to peace talks with Ukraine and China’s mediation efforts. “We have a lot of joint tasks, goals,” Putin told his Chinese counterpart while also congratulating him on re-election as the head of the Chinese state for a third 5-year term. Xi in return said “Russia succeeded in promoting prosperity under Putin’s leadership.” Putin further expressed that “we will discuss your initiative [on Ukraine] which we view with respect.”

“We are open for a negotiating process on Ukraine,” the Russian leader added. He noted to Xi that “we have looked at your proposals for the resolution of the Ukraine conflict” and previewed that “we will discuss this question.” The day prior in media interviews, White House NSC spokesperson John Kirby declared that any “call for a ceasefire” in Ukraine is “unacceptable.” Likely Moscow will only be satisfied with nothing short of a full Kiev recognition of the Donbass being under Russia; however, this is the very thing Washington will condemn and seek to induce the Zelensky administration to resist.

According to state media commentary (RT), “Moscow has said that it would consider the proposal but has pointed to several factors that stand in the way of a peaceful resolution in Ukraine.” And more of Moscow’s perspective headed into more Xi meetings: “Those include the insistence of Kiev and its Western backers on inflicting a military defeat of Russia, their firm opposition to any sort of ceasefire, as well as a law enacted by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky that forbids holding negotiations with Russia as long as Putin remains in office.”

Putin Xi Ukraine
https://twitter.com/i/status/1637820477736361984

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“We are trying to wish the nightmares we perpetuated in the Middle East away, burying them in a collective amnesia. “World War III Begins With Forgetting,” warns Stephen Wertheim.”

The Lord of Chaos (Chris Hedges)

The occupation of Iraq, beginning 20 years ago today, turned the Muslim world and the Global South against us. The enduring images we left behind from two decades of war include President Bush standing under a “Mission Accomplished” banner onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier barely one month after he invaded Iraq, the bodies of Iraqis in Fallujah that were burned with white phosphorus and the photos of torture by U.S. soldiers. The U.S. is desperately attempting to use Ukraine to repair its image. But the rank hypocrisy of calling for “a rules-based international order” to justify the $113 billion in arms and other aid that the U.S. has committed to send to Ukraine, won’t work. It ignores what we did. We might forget, but the victims do not. The only redemptive path is charging Bush, Cheney and the other architects of the wars in the Middle East, including Joe Biden, as war criminals in the International Criminal Court. Haul Russian President Vladimir Putin off to The Hague, but only if Bush is in the cell next to him.

Many of the apologists for the war in Iraq seek to justify their support by arguing that “mistakes” were made, that if, for example, the Iraqi civil service and army were not disbanded after the U.S. invaded, the occupation would have worked. They insist that our intentions were honorable. They ignore the hubris and lies that led to the war, the misguided belief that the U.S. could be the sole major power in a unipolar world. They ignore the massive military expenditures spent annually to achieve this fantasy. They ignore that the war in Iraq was only an episode in this demented quest. A national reckoning with the military fiascos in the Middle East would expose the self-delusion of the ruling class. But this reckoning is not taking place. We are trying to wish the nightmares we perpetuated in the Middle East away, burying them in a collective amnesia. “World War III Begins With Forgetting,” warns Stephen Wertheim.

The celebration of our national “virtue” by pumping weapons into Ukraine, by sustaining at least 750 military bases in more than 70 countries and by expanding our naval presence in the South China Sea, is meant to fuel this dream of global dominance. What the mandarins in Washington fail to grasp is that most of the globe does not believe the lie of American benevolence or support its justifications for U.S. interventions. China and Russia, rather than passively accepting U.S. hegemony, are building up their militaries and strategic alliances. China, last week, brokered an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to re-establish relations after seven years of hostility, something once expected of U.S. diplomats. The rising influence of China creates a self-fulfilling prophecy for those who call for war with Russia and China, one that will have consequences far more catastrophic than those in the Middle East.

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Hungarian FM Szijjártó: “In France, the pension law was amended without a parliamentary vote. In Germany, the electoral law was changed by a simple majority. If anyone criticizes the Hungarian rule of law after this, let us laugh together!”

Orbán: ‘Europe Suffers From War Psychosis’ (RMX)

The main issue facing Europe today is war, which puts Hungary in a difficult situation, as the effects of war are severe and immediate, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at a meeting of the Organization of Turkic States summit in Ankara. The prime minister stressed that, unfortunately, Europe was suffering from a “war psychosis,” with the continent drifting further into war day by day. Orbán thanked the leaders of the Turkish states for strengthening the voice of peace. Hungary — on account of its population’s Asian origins — is an honorary member of the Organization of Turkic States. Orbán thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, he said, had so far been able to mediate successfully between the warring parties, and called on him to continue his efforts in the future.

“Only in this way can we have a chance for peace,” Orbán said. He also thanked the Turkish president for the fact that Hungary and Turkey could coordinate their work within NATO. Hungary’s geographical proximity to the war has placed the issue of pursuing peace at the top of the agenda for Hungary, according to Orbán. “Ukraine is a neighboring state, and the effects of the war are therefore severe and direct, with inflation skyrocketing and energy prices at an all-time high,” he said, adding that “many Hungarians have now died in the war because men from the Hungarian community in western Ukraine are also being conscripted into the army.” “For Hungary, the most important thing is to save human lives, and that is why we are advocating a ceasefire as soon as possible and peace negotiations.”

At the same time, the prime minister expressed the view that what is happening in Europe is more than just war, because in fact, “the whole of Europe is being reshuffled in terms of power relations,” and this will also have repercussions for Turkey. He added that Hungary is also seeing another threat: “There are processes going on in the world economy that could lead to a new global balance.” He said that the segmentation of the world economy is against Hungary’s interests, and Hungary sees its future not in segmentation, but in acting in the collective interest and improving interconnectivity. “The Turk states can play a key role in this, because here we are European, Caucasian and Central Asian countries connected to each other on the basis of mutual respect, setting a good example for the whole world,” the prime minister said in his speech.

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“In the end – it’s not up to Washington to decide..”

US Obsessed With Idea Of Dealing Strategic Blow To Russia – Antonov (TASS)

The United States has been causing the geography of the Ukrainian crisis to expand and it turns a blind eye to the corrupt Kiev regime, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Monday. Commenting on a new $350 million package of US military aid for Ukraine, he said, “Washington is obsessed with the idea of inflicting a strategic defeat on our country. With its steps, the [US] administration is only pushing the Ukrainian radicals toward new terrible deeds,” the embassy quoted Antonov as saying. According to the Russian envoy, “with each delivery of military equipment, the [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky regime feels more and more impunity. It continues to kill civilians in the Donbass, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions of Russia with pure cynicism,” the head of the Russian diplomatic mission underscored.

“The United States does not think that by such actions they are adding fuel and provoking the expansion of the geography of the Ukrainian crisis. This policy jeopardizes the security of all of Europe, increasing the risk of a direct clash between Russia and NATO,” Antonov warned. Washington “turns a blind eye to the corruption of the Ukrainian elite. We have serious concerns that some of the defense products may end up on the black market,” he added. “Where will weapons pop up? Who will bear responsibility when it falls into the hands of some terrorist groups and criminal organizations?” he asked rhetorically.

Antonov urged the US leadership to stop fueling the conflict in Ukraine. “And even more so – to refrain from public statements about the expediency or inexpediency of entering into negotiations. In the end – it’s not up to Washington to decide,” he concluded. On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new military assistance package for Ukraine that, among other weapons, would include ammunition for Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, HARM missiles, anti-tank weapons, and riverine boats. In all, during Joe Biden’s presidency, Washington has given more than $33.2 billion worth of military assistance to Kiev.

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“If it fails, “it will be extremely difficult to obtain funds for the next one.”

Ukraine Will Have Only One Shot At A Counteroffensive – Czech President (RT)

With the US set to refocus attention on domestic issues next year, Ukraine may not get funding for continued military action, Czech President Petr Pavel has said. The former army officer said Kiev’s armed forces may therefore have just one shot at conducting a major push against Russian troops. “The window of opportunity is open this year. After next winter, it will be extremely difficult to maintain the current level of aid,” Pavel told the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita. “Ukraine will only have one attempt to launch a major counter-offensive,” he added as quoted by the outlet on Monday. If it fails, “it will be extremely difficult to obtain funds for the next one.”

Pavel, a retired general who served as chair of the NATO Military Committee until 2018, predicted that US interest in aiding the Ukrainian army would likely dwindle in 2024. The political focus in the country will shift to the presidential campaign, and US-China relations are likely to be the top foreign policy issue. European nations will likely reduce their funding of Ukraine too, the politician predicted. He said it was up to Ukraine to decide what constitutes a victory over Russia, which Pavel assured would happen. But if it fails despite all Western help, there will be a “long war of attrition.” “You cannot pretend that the only possible solution is complete success,” he said.

Pavel’s preferred outcome for the conflict is a weakened Russia that prefers “cooperation, not aggression.” He stated that it would take a change of the “Russian regime from within” before the EU would go back to business as usual with the country. Kiev has declared full control of the territories it claims sovereignty over as the objective of its military campaign. It has refused talks with Moscow as long as President Vladimir Putin remains in office. Washington, for its part, has pledged to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” to defeat Russia. Russia considers the hostilities in Ukraine to be part of a US-led proxy war, with Ukrainian troops being used as “cannon fodder” by Washington.

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Second Russia-Africa International Parliamentary Conference in Moscow. 45 African nations.

Russia Wrote Off $20 Billion Of African Nations’ Debts – Putin (TASS)

Russia has written off debts of African nations amounting to more than $20 bln, President Vladimir Putin said on Monday. “Russia wrote off debts of African states in the amount over $20 bln,” the President said. “The mutual trade turnover is growing from year to year, which reached almost $18 bln as of the last year-end,” the Russian leader said. “The more vigorous transition to national currencies in financial settlements and the establishment of new transport and logistics chains will facilitate the development of countertrade turnovers,” Putin added.

Grain deal
https://twitter.com/i/status/1637800706777182208

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“Today the African continent plays an important role in solving global and regional problems. And it will only grow..”

African Countries Always Been Equal Allies For Russia – Duma Speaker (TASS)

Relations between Russia and African countries have always been built on an unselfish basis and equality, which cannot be said of the United States and Europe, which continue their colonial policy, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Monday, speaking at the plenary session of the Second Russia-Africa International Parliamentary Conference. “It is necessary to emphasize: Russia and African countries are equal allies and partners. Our relations have always been built on an unselfish basis, on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in domestic affairs,” Volodin said, stressing that for Russia “the African continent has never been a subject of mercantile interest, use of labor and raw material resources.” However, according to the speaker, the US and Europe have a different approach.


“Washington and Brussels seek to take control of Russian and African natural resources. In fact, they continue their colonial policy. They go to any measures, including force and terrorist nature, for their own benefit,” the politician pointed out. “It is not for Washington to teach us how to build relationships, be friends and make plans for the future,” Volodin pointed out. The Duma speaker recalled that “despite illegal sanctions from Washington, Russia and African states are developing trade and economic cooperation.” In particular, according to the politician, the trade turnover is growing, which at the end of last year amounted to 17.9 billion dollars. “Today the African continent plays an important role in solving global and regional problems. And it will only grow,” Volodin concluded.

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“..Africa will become one of the leaders in the emerging new multipolar world order – all objective prerequisites for this exist..”

Putin Makes Prediction About Africa (RT)

Moscow is “determined to continue building a strategic partnership” with African nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, expressing confidence that the continent is set to become one of the leaders of the emerging multipolar world. The president made the remarks at the International Parliamentary Conference ‘Russia – Africa in a Multipolar World,’ which kicked off in Moscow on Monday and brought together representatives of some 40 nations. The conference comes ahead of the second Russia-Africa summit, which is scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg in July. “African nations are continuously increasing their weight and role in international affairs, and are asserting themselves more and more confidently in politics and economy. We are convinced that Africa will become one of the leaders in the emerging new multipolar world order – all objective prerequisites for this exist,” Putin stated.


Russia and African nations stand together against “the neo-colonial ideology” imposed by certain powers in the world, Putin went on. “Many states of Asia, the Middle East, and South America stand on similar positions, and together we make up the world majority,” he added. Moscow is committed to continue building a “strategic partnership” with Africa, while multiple Russian state-owned and private companies are already actively investing into the continent, Putin stressed. “We are ready to jointly shape the global agenda, work together to strengthen fair and equal interstate relations, and improve mechanisms for mutually beneficial economic cooperation,” he said, describing African nations as Russia’s “friends in the full sense of this word.”

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“..the locked-down public’s attention was galvanized by the George Floyd, BLM, and Antifa riots until the 2020 election was upon us..”

This Has Got to Stop (Kunstler)

The Covid-19 release seems to have been an act motivated by multiple players for their own reasons which, combined, amounted to crimes against humanity. Anthony Fauci, America’s infectious disease czar, apparently sought a crowning career triumph, which would have been a successful vaccine against a dangerous virus. So, he arranged to engineer the organism that he could then triumph against. Like all of Dr. Fauci’s projects over the roughly forty years that he ran the NIAID agency, the mRNA vaccines — subcontracted to the US Military and manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna — turned out to be an epic fiasco. Covid-19 also happened to be a convenient device for ridding the government of the troublesome President Trump, who threatened to disassemble major parts of the permanent US bureaucracy.

If you revisit the many videos of Mr. Trump appearing in the White House Covid crisis room in early 2020 with Dr. Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and other public health officials, I’m sure you will notice his discomfort, as if he suspected he was being played (he was). And conveniently, right after that, the locked-down public’s attention was galvanized by the George Floyd, BLM, and Antifa riots until the 2020 election was upon us. (Another grotesque prank against the people, never adjudicated.) It took more than a year after the “vaccines” came out for the disturbing actuarial data to emerge from the life insurance industry that many non-elderly people were being killed and disabled by the shots’ adverse effects. (I think the censors were caught by surprise that the truth leaked out from there.)

Meanwhile, any able investigator could understand how the half-assed “vaccines,” along with the denigration of off-label early treatment medicines, the reckless use of dangerous remdesivir combined with enormous government payments to hospitals for mis-treating patients with it, the gaming and hiding of CDC statistics, and the obvious censorship of all that information in the corporate news and social media (with help from the CIA and FBI), all added up to a monstrous criminal offense against human decency. The government, now led by the career criminal “Joe Biden,” needed another distraction from intrusive reality in 2022 — including the emergence of the Biden family’s crimes — so it arranged to start a war in Ukraine by threatening to turn that country into a forward NATO base on Russia’s border. Russia was exceptionally clear and straightforward that it wouldn’t accept such an arrangement and the US proceeded anyway. Our country was exceptionally dishonest in its positioning for this conflict. (And our NATO allies were astoundingly credulous going along with it, even after we fatally damaged the EU’s economy.)

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“You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former President of the United States and current declared candidate for that office..”

House GOP Demands Answers From Manhattan DA Over Trump Indictment (ZH)

House Republicans on the Weaponization of the Federal Government subcommittee are using their new investigative powers to look into liberal Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, over the Soros-funded DA’s reported plans to indict former President Donald Trump on felony charges this week related to hush money he allegedly paid to porn star Stormy Daniels seven years ago – a charge which would normally be a misdemeanor. Bragg would also be prosecuting the case beyond the five-year statute of limitations. “You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former President of the United States and current declared candidate for that office,” reads a Monday letter to Bragg from Reps. Jim Jordan (Judiciary Chairman), James Comer (Oversight Chairman) and Bryan Steil (House Admin Chairman).

“This indictment comes after years of your office searching for a basis – any basis – on which to bring charges, ultimately settling on a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the cuntry and one that federal authorities declined to pursue.” The letter goes on to shred the ‘untested legal theory’ underpinning Bragg’s expected indictment, and calls out former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen, Bragg’s star witness and a convicted perjurer, as having a “serious credibility problem.” The letter demands all documents and communications related to the decision. “This is the type of thing America hates, and it divides America and it is wrong,” McCarthy said this week while conferring with House Republicans in Orlando, Florida. McCarthy has accused Bragg of lowering penalties for criminals in New York while prosecuting his political opponents.

“It’s interesting to me he spent his whole time as a DA lowering felonies, not to prosecute,” said McCarthy. “I think Republicans and Democrats alike hate this type of justice.” “Republicans stopped the radical D.C. crime law, and we will investigate any use of federal funds that are used to facilitate the perversion of justice by Soros-backed DA’s across the country,” he continued.

Tucker Justice
https://twitter.com/i/status/1637973070546624512

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“Republicans plan to use their new investigative powers in the House majority to ramp up probes into the Biden family and liberal Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg..”

NYPD Mobilizes 700 Riot Cops, Steel Barricades For Potential Trump Arrest (TP)

The New York Police Department is preparing for civil disorder should the Manhattan District Attorney’s office order the arrest of former President Donald Trump. The NYPD has ordered the mobilization of 700 riot police and has erected steel barricades around the Manhattan Criminal Court in preparation for a potential grand jury indictment. The New York Times fantasized about the “likely indictment” and “unprecedented arrest” of Donald Trump. “He would be fingerprinted. He would be photographed. He could even be handcuffed. And if Donald J. Trump is indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in the days ahead for his role in a hush money payment to a porn star, the former president of the United States of America will be read the standard Miranda warning: He will be told that he has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.”

“These are among the routine steps for felony arrests in New York. But the unprecedented arrest of a former commander in chief — one whose devoted supporters once staged a violent attack on the Capitol — will be anything but routine,” the story added. The Times also reported that “more than a dozen senior Police Department officials and two of the mayor’s top public safety aides held a virtual meeting to discuss security, staffing and contingency plans in the event of any protests, one person with knowledge of the meeting said.” The Times drew a parallel between New York City’s security preparations for the potential Trump indictment this week and the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021. “That meeting followed a call from Mr. Trump himself, in a post on his site Truth Social on Saturday morning: ‘PROTEST,’ he exhorted his supporters. ‘TAKE OUR NATION BACK!’

“The former president’s rallying cry, with an indictment looming, conjured up memories of the Jan. 6, 2020, assault on the Capitol,” the Times added. Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is set to use his Congressional authority to investigate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for alleged political prosecution of the former president. “Republicans plan to use their new investigative powers in the House majority to ramp up probes into the Biden family and liberal Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg amid reports that Mr. Bragg is on the verge of indicting former President Donald Trump on felony charges,” the Washington Times reported.

“An aide to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, told The Washington Times on Sunday that Mr. Jordan’s panel on the weaponization of the federal government “’is expected to respond’ to Mr. Bragg’s plans to indict Mr. Trump with an investigation and possible hearings,” the report added. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Sunday underscored that Manhattan D.A.’s case against Trump will be investigated by the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

Mark Levin
https://twitter.com/i/status/1637661335835009024

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“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” the governor said. “I just can’t speak to that.”

Ron DeSantis Breaks Silence On Trump’s Possible Arrest (RT)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has ripped the New York City prosecutor behind a possible criminal indictment against Donald Trump while sideswiping the former president with an apparent dig alluding to the “porn star hush money” at the center of the case. DeSantis, who is currently Trump’s top rival for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, had been pressured to comment on the New York case since Trump said over the weekend that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday. He finally weighed in when asked by a reporter on Monday about the possible indictment, arguing that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was among the US prosecutors who were using their positions to pursue a leftist political agenda after being elected with campaign funding from billionaire George Soros.

“These Soros district attorneys are a menace to society, and I’m just glad that I’m the only governor in the country who’s actually removed one from office during my tenure,” said DeSantis, referencing his firing in January of a prosecutor in Tampa, Florida. He added that Soros-backed DAs “weaponize their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety.” While some prominent Republicans, such as former vice president Mike Pence, rallied to Trump’s side over his looming arrest, DeSantis said he wouldn’t get involved in the case “in any way,” suggesting that he wouldn’t try to help block the Florida resident’s extradition to New York. “I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” the governor said. “I just can’t speak to that.”

“But what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction, and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush-money payments. That’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office.” Bragg reportedly aims to prosecute Trump over a $130,000 payment that was made to porn star Stormy Daniels to secure her silence during the 2016 presidential campaign. The DA would need to prove that the money was paid for the sole purpose of the campaign, rather than other possible motives, such as avoiding public embarrassment or keeping Trump’s wife from finding out about an affair. DeSantis has declined to push back publicly after being attacked on multiple occasions by Trump, who has nicknamed him “Ron DeSanctimonious.” A Yahoo/YouGov poll conducted last month found that voters favored DeSantis over Trump in a head-to-head race by a margin of 45%-41%.

DeSantis
https://twitter.com/i/status/1637826647167516677

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“No, the Death of Money means a total and final collapse of this financial system..”

The Financial System Is Terminally Broken (Egon von Greyerz)

[..] the Swiss banking system is very unsound, just like the rest of the world’s. A central bank which is bigger than the country’s GDP is extremely unsound. And a banking system which is 5x Swiss GDP makes it too big to save. Although the Fed and ECB are much smaller in relation to their countries’ GDP than the SNB, these two central banks will soon discover that their assets of around $8 trillion each are grossly overvalued. With a global banking system on the verge of a systemic failure, Central Bankers and bankers have been working around the clock this weekend to temporarily avoid the inevitable collapse of the bankrupt financial system. As I pointed out above, the main Central Banks would also be bankrupt if they valued their assets honestly. But they have a wonderful source of money that they will tap to save the system.


Yes, I am of course talking about money printing. We will in coming months and years see the most massive avalanche of money printing that has ever hit the world. For anyone who believes that we are just seeing another bank run that will quickly evaporate, they will need to take a shower in ice cold Alpine water. What we are witnessing is not just a temporary drama that will be sorted out by “the all powerful and resourceful” central banks. No, instead what we are seeing is the end phase of this financial era which started with the formation of the Fed in 1913 and in the next few years, or much sooner, will end with the death of money.

But the Death of Money doesn’t just mean that the dollar (and most currencies) will make their final move to ZERO, having already declined 98% since 1971. Currency debasement is not the cause but the effect of the banking Cabal taking control of the money for their own benefit. As Mayer Amschel Rothschild said in the late 1700s: “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws”. Sadly, as this Cassandra (me) has written about since the beginning of the century, the Death of Money is not just all currencies going to ZERO as they have throughout history. No, the Death of Money means a total and final collapse of this financial system.


No depositor must believe that the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp) in the US or similar vehicles in other countries will save their deposits. All these organisations are massively undercapitalised and in the end it will be the governments in all countries which step in. We know of course, that the government has no money. They just print whatever they need. That leaves ordinary people taking the final burden of all this money printing. But ordinary people will have no money either. Yes a few rich people will be taxed heavily to cover bank deficits and losses. Still, that will be a drop in the ocean. Instead ordinary people will be impoverished with little income, no government handouts, no pension and money which is worthless.

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“Shares of that one, First Republic Bank, tumbled an additional 47% on Monday..”

US Studies How To Guarantee All $18 Trillion In US Bank Deposits (ZH)

After repeated laments by the likes of Bill Ackman, who most recently said that “I continue to believe that the best course of action is a temporary @FDICgov deposit guarantee until an updated insurance regime is introduced” (and who just flip-flopped on his “Fed must hike with shock and awe” call from 2022 and is now urging for a Fed hiking pause), and following a Bloomberg weekend report that US mid-sized banks demanded a two-year total deposit insurance scheme from the FDIC, and warned if it doesn’t arrive, there may lots more shotgun weddings (or shotguns), moments ago Bloomberg reported that “US officials are studying ways they might temporarily expand Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. coverage to all deposits, a move sought by a coalition of banks arguing that it’s needed to head off a potential financial crisis.” Guess our March 12 tweet was ahead of its time yet again.

The BBG report explains that “Treasury Department staff are reviewing whether federal regulators have enough emergency authority to temporarily insure deposits greater than the current $250,000 cap on most accounts” without formal consent from a deeply divided Congress, and goes on to note that “authorities don’t yet view such a move as necessary, especially after regulators took steps this month to help banks keep up with any demands for withdrawals” which is an important caveat, and is the same one that hawks are using to justify why a Fed pause would be self-defeating (“why is the Fed blowing up their last bit of inflation-fighting credibility; what do they know that we don’t): the same question can be applied to the Treasury: “what does the Treasury know that we don’t.” Most likely nothing – after all bank crises are non-linear, but as Bloomberg notes, “still, they are developing a strategy out of due diligence in case the situation worsens.”

“We will use the tools we have to support community banks,” White House spokesman Michael Kikukawa said, without directly addressing whether the measure is being studied. “Since our administration and the regulators took decisive action last weekend, we have seen deposits stabilize at regional banks throughout the country and, in some cases, outflows have modestly reversed.” Still, the report notes, the behind-the-scenes deliberations show there are concerns in Washington’s corridors of power as midsize banks call for broader government intervention after three lenders collapsed this month when uninsured depositors pulled their money, and as a fourth firm strives to avoid a similar fate. Shares of that one, First Republic Bank, tumbled an additional 47% on Monday as industry leaders tried to find a way to bolster the company’s finances.

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Mountain goat eagle

 

 

Marmot

 

 

 

 

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Dec 262021
 


Berthe Morisot After luncheon 1881

 

Chaos And The Triumph Of Survival (Von Greyerz)
Are Covid-19 Data Reliable? The Case Of The European Union (medRxiv)
Door-to-door Covid Jab Teams To Be Sent To Homes Of Unvaccinated Britons (DM)
On “Science” and Controversy (Malone)
Covid Fearmongering Has Consequences Too (O’Neill)
Slouching Toward Endemicity (Tucker)
Researchers Fear Growing Covid Vaccine Hesitancy In Developing Nations (Nature)
US Navy Warship Pauses Deployment After COVID-19 Outbreak, 100% Immunized (ET)
LinkedIn Has Banned Me For Life For Making 3 Truthful Comments (Kirsch)
German, Russian Envoys To Meet To Ease Political Tensions Over Ukraine (ZH)
‘Don’t Weigh Me’ Cards Aim To Reduce Stress At The Doctor’s Office (CNN)

 

 

 

 

Good observations from a gold dealer, of all people.

“So now everyone needs a booster every few months. With Big Pharma being both judge and jury plus benefiting from their own advice to the extent 100s of billions of dollars, how do we know the real truth?”

Chaos And The Triumph Of Survival (Von Greyerz)

One of the most horrifying works of art is Bruegel’s “The Triumph of Death” painted in 1562. The painting depicts the end of life on earth. I sincerely hope that this is not what the world will literally look like in the next decade or two but metaphorically this is not an unlikely depiction of the chaos that could hit us all. The Black Death plague of the 14th century, which killed up to half of the world’s population, clearly had a major influence on the painter. The moral message is that when chaos hits, the destruction will affect everyone, rich and poor, young and old. No one will escape by power or devotion. The financial, economic and moral devastation which is about to hit the world will for more than 99.5% of the people come out of the blue like a flash from a clear sky.

For most people, coming events will thus be like the definition of the word CHAOS: “A state of total confusion and disorder”. CHAOS NUMBER 1: COVID Talking about disorder, just like the Black Death that inspired Bruegel’s painting, the world is now facing a global pandemic. But rather than the nearer 50% of global population that perished in the mid 1300s, today we are looking at total deaths from the current pandemic of 0.06% of the world population! And even that figure might be overestimated due to the classification rules applied. For that minuscule percentage the world has now been paralysed for the third year soon.

There are lockdowns, quarantines, compulsory vaccines with unlined boosters, covid passports, closed schools, closed offices, major industries like leisure haemorrhaging, airlines going bankrupt, shortages of labour, components, products, closed borders, and for the few people who dare to and can travel across borders, more bureaucracy, paperwork and tests than in a police state. At the same time money printing and credit creation have gone exponential. The politicians obviously blame the scientists for all the rules that they force upon the people. It is interesting that with almost 200 countries in the world, each country has different rules how to deal with covid. If all these rules were based on science, you would have thought that the rules would have been the same for all 200 countries.

Or could it be as many observers believe that the politicians use the pandemic to their own advantage. Or is it more likely that neither the scientists nor the politicians have got a clue how to deal with a disease that creates hardly any deaths in excess of normal deaths? In Sweden for example, there has been no lockdown, no quarantine, no closed shops, no mask requirement and industry has operated normally. Covid cases and deaths are at the lower range of the European average. Hmmm – so much for all these punishing rules in most countries. We were told that the vaccines would solve the problem but two shots haven’t so far as we were promised. So now everyone needs a booster every few months. With Big Pharma being both judge and jury plus benefiting from their own advice to the extent 100s of billions of dollars, how do we know the real truth?

As an example, I have a 19 year old vaccinated granddaughter who had Covid in August. Now she has got Covid for the second time, fortunately in the form of a normal cold. The government/scientist solution is clearly more vaccines at ever more frequent intervals. And still no one has properly tested the long term effects the vaccines have on our bodies. There just isn’t time for that!!? The consequences of these constant changing of rules and shutdowns will clearly have a devastating effect on an already very fragile world economy and financial system.

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The Science is made up.

Are Covid-19 Data Reliable? The Case Of The European Union (medRxiv)

Previous studies have used Benford’s distribution to assess whether there is misreporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Data inaccuracies provide false information to the media, undermine global response and hinder the preventive measures taken by countries worldwide. In this study, we analyze daily new cases and deaths from all the countries of the European Union and estimate the conformance to Benford’s distribution. For each country, two statistical tests and two measures of deviations are calculated to determine whether the reported statistics comply with the expected distribution. Four country-level developmental indexes are also included, the GDP per capita, health expenditures, the Universal Health Coverage index, and full vaccination rate.


Regression analysis is implemented to show whether the deviation from Benford’s distribution is affected by the aforementioned indexes. The findings indicate that only three countries were in line with the expected distribution, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania. For daily cases, Denmark, Greece, and Ireland, showed the greatest deviation from Benford’s distribution, and for deaths, Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Luxemburg had the highest deviation from Benford’s law. Furthermore, it was found that the vaccination rate is positively associated with deviation from Benford’s distribution. These results suggest that overall official data provided by authorities are not confirming Benford’s law, yet this approach acts as a preliminary tool for data verification. More extensive studies should be made with a more thorough investigation of countries that showed the greatest deviation.

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Back to the Middle Ages.

Door-to-door Covid Jab Teams To Be Sent To Homes Of Unvaccinated Britons (DM)

Door-to-door teams armed with Covid jabs will be sent to the homes of unvaccinated Britons in plans being considered by Ministers to reach the estimated five million people yet to be inoculated. Discussions between the Department of Health, NHS England and No 10 over the past week have looked at a nationwide drive to send vaccine teams to areas with low uptake rates as a crucial way to avoid lockdown and other restrictions. It is also seen as a way to get jabs to rural areas or households where people cannot easily get to a vaccination centre. One Cabinet Minister last night backed the plan, saying: ‘I think anything that encourages the vaccine-hesitant is sensible,’ before warning: ‘The mood in the country is hardening against people who refuse to be vaccinated.’

‘I am all in favour of free choice but there comes a point when you cannot lock up 90 per cent of the country who are vaccinated for the ten per cent who refuse to be.’ Doctors have said up to 90 per cent of Covid patients in intensive care units are unvaccinated. The vaccination drive continued throughout Christmas Day. NHS England said thousands of first, second and booster jabs were given yesterday. Meanwhile more than 220,000 first doses of the vaccine were administered in the week to 21 December, up by 46 per cent compared to the previous week. First dose uptake in 18-24 year-olds rose by 85 per cent in the same period, and 71 per cent in 25 to 30-year-olds. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the rise in first dose uptake was ‘excellent’, as discussions were ongoing on how to reach more of the unjabbed.

Door-to-door jabs visits are already being trialled in one area of Ipswich, which led to an extra 150 people getting their first, second or booster jab in a weekend. Downing Street sources said the aim is to expand this to the rest of the country and try to reach the estimated five milllion unvaccinated. Dan Poulter, the Tory MP and NHS hospital doctor who has been doing shifts in London hospitals, welcomed the plan. He said: ‘In parts of London where there’s very low vaccine uptake, you’re bound to get a good uptake in jabs if you’re knocking on doors. ‘I think that would have a very positive effect in getting vaccination rates higher.’

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“The closest historical approximation to this monstrosity is the Catholic Church during the Spanish inquisition..”

On “Science” and Controversy (Malone)

Good science (and good public health policy) requires conflict. There is no one “Science”. No single “truth”. Quality science is like a song sung by a choir. A solo scientist is usually better described as a philosopher or priest. Any individual claiming to embody “Science” or scientific truth is (by definition) no longer a practitioner of the intellectual discipline of modern science. The scientific process requires constant external challenge and criticism to reach a working approximation of truth. Such (typically autocratic, paternalistic) people lose the ability to maintain objectivity and typically transition to functioning as an enforcer of their version of reality. These people often resort to a form of crude binary thought – their version of the truth versus all alternatives. In contrast, the modern scientific practitioner approaches the effort to draw truth out of the unknown as something closer to mathematical calculus, a process of serial approximation which gradually approaches an asymptote hypothesized to be scientific truth.

Enter the trusted news initiative.[..] This intellectual obscenity purports to be able to discern and enforce scientific “truth” by defining truth as that which established public health bureaucracies (and singularly autocratic public health “leaders”) say it is. The trusted news initiative aggressively employs both globally coordinated media and the tools of modern big technology to censor, demean, de-platform, delegitimize and de-license all others who seek to document, advance or discuss alternative versions of officially endorsed reality. The trusted news initiative has functionally morphed into Orwell’s predicted ministry of truth. Backed by the combined power of national and international governmental structures, massive transnational investment funds the likes of which the world has never seen before, and the commercial assets (Big Pharma, Big Media, Big Tech) over which the funds exert horizontally integrated control through access to investment capital and structural leadership ties.


This is the most intrinsically anti-science global organization ever implemented in the history of modern man. The closest historical approximation to this monstrosity is the Catholic Church during the Spanish inquisition. When this history of this pandemic is written, the combined effect of the Trusted News Initiative and autocratic national and international public health leaders will be documented as being responsible for massive excess human suffering and loss of life due to suppression of the discussion and dissent which is critical for the modern scientific process to accurately discern evolving truth and inform effective public policy decisions. This must stop, before yet more avoidable, unnecessary suffering and loss of life accrues.

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“Two million cases a day, thousands of deaths a day — that is virtually all we heard in relation to Omicron.”

Covid Fearmongering Has Consequences Too (O’Neill)

The scaremongers have overplayed their hand. Omicron could prove disastrous, they warned. They scoffed at the early indicators from South Africa suggesting it was milder than Delta. ‘MYTH BUSTER’, declared the Sun when Chris Whitty poured cold water on the idea that Omicron might be milder than Delta. ‘Deaths could hit 6,000 a day’, screamed the Guardian, turning Sage’s worst-case scenario into a chilling headline. The news was full of it: we’re doomed. Yet now it seems pretty clear that these fearful prophecies were way off. Just a week after we were being bombarded with these visions of the Biblical horrors Omicron would visit upon our nation, it’s being reported that this variant really is milder than the Delta one. This raises some really serious questions for the expert classes who are meant to be guiding us through this health crisis. Have they lost the plot? And now, will they lose the trust of the people?

The turnaround in recent days has been extraordinary. Last week, suggesting that Omicron might be milder was dangerous, it threatened to undermine the seriousness of the pandemic. Whitty became visibly frustrated whenever this possibility was raised. The Twitterati pooh-poohed any positive news coming from South Africa. (First South Africa was wrongly blamed for the Omicron variant, then its experts were implicitly defamed as untrustworthy amateurs when they said to the world: ‘Guys, you’re overreacting.’) Two million cases a day, thousands of deaths a day — that is virtually all we heard in relation to Omicron.


The front pages are starkly different today. ‘Official: Omicron 50% less severe’, says the Mail. ‘Omicron hospital risk is two thirds lower’, says the Telegraph. Even the Guardian’s no doubt distressed headline-writers have had to admit that their earlier vision of another nightmarish wave of disease whacking Brexit Britain might have been a tad overdone. ‘Risk of hospital stay is 40% lower with Omicron variant’, the front page says. These good news headlines — yes, doom-mongers, we are allowed to call it good news! — spring from new studies into Omicron’s virulence. Researchers at Imperial found a 40 per cent reduction in the risk of hospitalisation for Omicron in comparison with Delta. Edinburgh University went further — they reckon there is a 65 per cent lower risk of hospitalisation. A South African study says the risk is between 70 and 80 per cent lower.

Read more …

“Is that the sound of normalcy I’m hearing out there?”

Slouching Toward Endemicity (Tucker)

Is that the sound of normalcy I’m hearing out there? Ever more authors and sources admitting that the virus is a medical problem that cannot be addressed or solved through politicized “mitigation measures.” This is what I’m reading between the lines of such news stories as this one: Early in the pandemic, many people seized on the hope that Covid-19 could be stopped in its tracks and buried for good once vaccines rolled out. But hope for a zero-Covid country fizzled for most scientists long ago. That amounts to a gigantic change in outlook and a terrifying illustration of egregious failure. It’s a sign of exhaustion and the realization of the futility of the battle. In this US in any case (if not in many other countries). But it had to come eventually.


Consider that Covid cases in both New York and Florida have reached record levels, and at some point increases in deaths are likely to follow, though not as bad as prior seasons. With both states dealing with similar trends, there is no point in the exhausting game of finger pointing that’s been going on for so long.

The charts themselves are a picture of astonishing policy failure: not the failure to stop the virus but rather the belief and policy that imagined that doing so was possible at all. The virus is still here and still on a seasonal march, perhaps causing less damage than in the past but it really does raise the burning question: what precisely was accomplished by almost two years of massive compulsory upheaval? In the last several months, we’ve seen the hysterics and rhetoric dialed back a bit. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any published millenarian fantasies of beating this virus into submission or oblivion. We’ve come a long way since March 2020, when Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx talked Trump into announcing two weeks to flatten the curve. Trump actually went further that day and expressed his view that he would “defeat the virus,” “taking a tough stance” to “get rid of the virus.”


This is the hidden meaning behind the White House’s new line that “This is not March 2020.” What precisely makes it different? A major part of the difference is the growing realization that the attempt to use state measures to “get rid of” the virus or control its seasonality was completely delusional.

Read more …

“Nature” deviating from science. The best thing we can do for these countries is to leave them alone.

Researchers Fear Growing Covid Vaccine Hesitancy In Developing Nations (Nature)

COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy has long been recognized as a problem in high- and middle-income nations. But in some of the world’s poorest countries, lack of access to vaccines has been a much bigger hurdle. Now researchers say that as doses are trickling in, resistance to getting vaccinated is also emerging as a major issue in those nations. Scientists fear that persistent pools of unvaccinated people around the world will present a greater risk for the emergence of new variants of concern, such as Omicron. “When you have a lot of community transmission, that’s where variants will emerge,” says Jeffrey Lazarus, a global health researcher at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Spain. Addressing people’s hesitancy is therefore crucial, to curb viral spread and to avert hospitalizations and deaths, he says.

Scientists report that hesitancy might now be contributing to the slow uptake of vaccines in some nations where large proportions of the populations remain unvaccinated. These include South Africa — one of the nations where Omicron was first detected — Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Papua New Guinea and Nepal. “We have more hesitant people in the global south than we ever thought we did,” says Rupali Limaye, a behavioural scientist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Although in many countries, limited supply is still the main problem, say researchers.

Until late October, the problem in many African nations “was that we just didn’t have enough doses”, says Salim Abdool Karim, director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) in Durban. “But we now have adequate amounts of vaccines in most countries,” he says. According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, just 64% of the vaccines supplied to the continent have so far been administered. In South Africa, for example, the number of doses administered each week has fallen to less than one-quarter of doses given at the peak of the vaccination drive in September. This is despite only 44% of adults having been vaccinated with at least one dose.

The calls on social media for more doses from Western countries are perplexing, says Espoir Malembaka, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who is based in Bukavu, DRC. Four types of vaccine are now available in eastern DRC, “but we don’t see people really in a rush to get the vaccine”, except for travellers getting ready to board flights, says Malembaka. He believes that the problem is not access to, but mistrust of, the vaccines. Researchers say that countries might be struggling to get vaccines into arms for many reasons — some of which have nothing to with hesitancy — including poorly funded health-care systems, the fact that doses are often close to their expiry dates and logistical issues getting vaccines to remote regions. But people’s delay or refusal to get vaccinated is also part of the puzzle.

Read more …

Vaccinated and immunized would appear to be very different things.

US Navy Warship Pauses Deployment After COVID-19 Outbreak, 100% Immunized (ET)

A U.S. Navy warship has paused its deployment to South America due to a COVID-19 outbreak among its “100 percent immunized” crew, the Navy announced on Christmas Eve. “USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), a Freedom variant littoral combat ship, remains in port as some Sailors test positive for COVID-19,” the U.S. 4th Fleet said in a statement. “The crew is 100 percent immunized and all COVID-19 positive Sailors are isolated on board and away from other crew members. A portion of those infected have exhibited mild symptoms. The vaccine continues to demonstrate effectiveness against serious illness.” The ship currently remains in port at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, located at the southeastern end of Cuba.


It had departed Dec. 14 from Mayport, Florida, and was heading into the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. The U.S. 4th Fleet’s statement did not quantify the number of those infected, nor how many among them are exhibiting mild symptoms. The specific COVID-19 variant has yet to be determined. The ship is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for contact tracing and testing. COVID-19 cases have recently increased drastically across the United States amid the spread of the contagious Omicron variant. The ship is also “following an aggressive mitigation strategy” in accordance with Navy and CDC guidelines.

Read more …

Censorship continues unabated. Steve Kirsch, Richard Werner…

LinkedIn Has Banned Me For Life For Making 3 Truthful Comments (Kirsch)

Christmas came early for me. LinkedIn has determined that three of my posts were so egregious that I should be banned for life from LinkedIn. It’s now as if I never existed. LinkedIn is the sole judge, jury, and executioner of what constitutes “misleading or inaccurate” information and whether you violate their user agreement. They can terminate you at any time, for any reason. You have no recourse. Because I made 3 truthful, accurate statements that some people at LinkedIn considered to be misleading or inaccurate, my account (built up over nearly 20 years) is now permanently deleted. They could have simply restricted my ability to post. Instead, they chose to expunge my entire identity so nobody will ever know I existed. Wow. Instead of simply restricting my ability to post, they basically wiped out my entire identity so nobody can even see who I am anymore or what I accomplished.

My resume is gone. My awards are gone. Nobody can even find out I ever existed. I didn’t even get a chance to copy my profile before they wiped me out. All my contacts are gone. The record of my 7 companies I started: gone. No one will be able to lookup my history there anymore. It’s like burning books in the library. Wikipedia did the same thing to me. They removed the mention that I received a National Caring Award as retribution for speaking out about vaccine safety. This can happen to you if you too disagree with mainstream thought. America today is about conformity with mainstream thought. If you disagree, you lose your job, lose your ability to communicate, and they remove any record of your existence. I’m now lifetime banned on Medium, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The reason I am not yet banned on Facebook is because I never post there.

[..] Hi Steve,

Your account was restricted due to multiple violations of LinkedIn’s User Agreement and Professional Community Policies against sharing content that contains misleading or inaccurate information:

Post on 9/26/2021: Inconvenient truth: >150,000 excess deaths in VAERS. Jeffrey Morris REFUSES to debate my team in a video RECORDED call. He writes papers but is AFRAID to have them publicly challenged.

Post on 9/22/2021: I just sent this to Eric Topol: Eric, I’m a big vaccine skeptic. I think the vaccines have killed over xxx people. Would you like to debate? You can do the world a HUGE service by showing people how ridiculous my assertions are. You can bring down all my 20 experts at the same time in a 1 hour debate. You’d end vaccine hesitancy. [had to xxx to escape censorship from LinkedIn ]

Post on 9/20/2021: Nicki Minaj was telling the truth. All the authorities were wrong. The facts are all with Nicki. The authorities cited no evidence to support their position. But they are the authorities so we should believe them NO MATTER WHAT the science actually says, right? The authorities NEVER make mistakes. https://lnkd.in/gqYieZyX

Read more …

New German Chancellor Olaf Scholz might play a positive part by refusing to be a puppet.

German, Russian Envoys To Meet To Ease Political Tensions Over Ukraine (ZH)

With tensions over Ukraine spilling over and the western media now reporting that Russia is deploying mercenaries to East Ukraine in what is either a sharp escalation in “pre-kinetic” activity, or an acceleration in the false flag narrative, some hope for de-escalation emerged on Christmas Day when Reuters reported that according to a German government source, senior German and Russian government officials agreed to a rare in-person meeting next month in an effort to ease political tensions over Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s foreign policy adviser Jens Ploetner and Russia’s Ukraine negotiator Dmitry Kozak agreed to meet after a lengthy phone conversation on Thursday.

The Reuters sources added that “Berlin doubts more than Washington whether Russia actually wants to attack Ukraine” and is keen to de-escalate tensions. While there has been no official comment from the German government, there have been a flurry of phone calls between western leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months over Russia’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border and resulting fears of an invasion. Meanwhile,in-person meetings between senior Western and Russian government officials have been few and far between, though U.S. President Joe Biden held talks with President Putin in Geneva last June.

Since taking office this month, Scholz has emphasized the need for dialogue with Russia over its military build-up on the Ukrainian border while joining western allies in backing sanctions should Moscow invade. Germany has been accused by critics of being beholden to Putin because of its need for Russian gas, attacking construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between the countries, bypassing Ukraine. Berlin says Nordstream 2 is not political and would be only one of several pipelines transporting Russian gas to Europe. “The German side’s goal remains to achieve a swift reactivation of the Normandy format,” the German government source said, referring to multilateral talks between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.

Read more …

This is just plain weird. The connection to Covid makes it even more so.

‘Don’t Weigh Me’ Cards Aim To Reduce Stress At The Doctor’s Office (CNN)

A body positivity website has created free “Don’t Weigh Me” cards for patients who find stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office stressful. The cards, created by California-based More-Love.org, are available for free to individuals, excluding the cost of postage. There is also the option for businesses to purchase the cards, at $35 per 100 cards. The cards read: “Please don’t weigh me unless it’s (really) medically necessary,” adding “If you really need my weight, please tell me why so that I can give you my informed consent,” as shown in photographs on More-Love.org: On the other side of the card is a list of reasons why it may not be medically necessary to weigh a patient. “Most health conditions can be addressed without knowing my weight,” is one reason, and “I pursue healthy behaviors regardless of my weight status” is another:

More-Love.org was founded in 2016 by Ginny Jones, according to its website, and describes itself as “an online resource that empowers parents to raise kids who are free from body hate, disordered eating, and eating disorders.” The group supports a “Health at Every Size” philosophy, based around the assumption that “the current practice of linking weight to health using BMI (body mass Iindex) standards is biased and unhelpful.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dec 182018
 


Titian The rape of Europe 1560-62

 

It took me a while to decide which word(s) best define the past year and the next one, but I think this is pretty much it. 2018 was chaotic more than anything else, and that chaos will give rise to mayhem in 2019.

What I think is striking is that this is true across the board, in all walks of life so to speak. In finance, in politics, in energy markets, in ecological matters, and perhaps most of all in the ways all these topics are being covered by what once were trusted media.

I’m going to have to come back to all these topics separately, so it’s promising to be a very busy holiday season, but it’s also good to try and put them together in one place, if only to show how interconnected everything is. And how futile it is to look at the economy without seeing its connection to energy flows and ecosystems. And vice versa.

 

In finance and economics, we’ve seen an avalanche of falling numbers recently, in stock prices, bond prices, housing, across the globe, and obviously that evokes a lot of comments in the financial press. But that press, and bankers investors on their own, still talk about markets.

However, as I wrote in April 2018, if there is no price discovery, and there isn’t, there ARE NO markets, and it would be good and beneficial if many more people absorb that simple reality. Many more so-called traders and investors would be a start, but by no means enough. Lots more people who have nothing to do with the ‘markets’ should understand why there is no such thing anymore.

As long as you limit it to stock and bond markets, it may appear fine that people don’t understand. But as soon as you acknowledge there are no housing markets either for the exact same reasons, the story changes considerably. Because then it becomes clear that all -former- markets, bar none, have been eviscerated by central bank policies that sought to prop up banks, often highly successfully so, which they knew could only happen at the expense of communities and societies.

We’ve ended up with scores of mom and pop ‘investors’ who own hugely overpriced stocks and homes, while their pensions funds hold zillions ‘worth’ of bonds and also increasingly stocks. The link between pensions and AAA-rate assets was pulverized in the process. That looks set to continue, and worsen, in 2019. But that may be just the look of things. Because there really are no markets, there is no price discovery.

What is still there is a lot of talk about whether the Fed -and other central banks- will raise rates further or not, or will stop or continue their asset buying schemes. Central banks are the only game in town, there are no markets, nobody knows what anything is really worth because the Fed etc. took the discovery process beyond their reach.

And now all those financial ‘subjects’ are sitting on all this stuff that only appears to have value, and that value hinges exclusively on what Draghi, Kuroda, Yellen and now Jay Powell have decided things are worth. And yes, it does make matters appear okay, but because they can’t do QE forever, all of those values will need to be re-assessed by actual markets once Powell et al. are either thrown out or decide for themselves to leave the arena.

It won’t be pretty, it will be devastating. It’s impossible to say if it will come to a head in 2019, because the Fed can lower rates a bit again after its recent rate hikes and prop up the zombie for longer. Then again Draghi can’t do that anymore since he’s already in negative rate territory, and while the euro could fall to parity with the USD as a consequence, there’s a limit to that too.

Anyway, more on that later.

 

Energy and ecology seem to become more intertwined as we go along, though that may well be a trompe oeil, trick of the eye. Still, if you see and read what people have to say about things like the big COP24 event in Katowice last week, it’s obvious that the 2nd law of Thermodynamics is a hard one to internalize. Because that law seems to say that the use of energy, period, produces waste, while all these mostly well-meaning folk are merely focusing on shifting between energy sources.

There is surprisingly little attention for not using energy in the first place, which the 2nd Law appears to stipulate is the only way to stop the rot. And it’s entirely feasible to build homes that use 70-80% less power to heat and cool, or to design a transport system in a city that saves that much energy.

But the ‘leaders’, politicians and business people, prefer to address solar panels and wind turbines that allow for the amount of energy used to fall only moderately, which when combined with the economic growth that nobody questions, will lead to the use of ever more energy.

And I get that, you need to shrink your present economies, and the models they’re based on, in order to save the planet. I’m not so much talking about climate change, since the earth is a system so complex we should really be very cautious about deriving any conclusions about it from simplified models, but the species extinction reported in 2018 is another, and more immediately convincing, story.

Still, conferences like COP24, or its predecessor COP21 which I wrote about 3 years ago in CON21, are not just entirely useless, they move everything backward that all the worried boys and girls are so worried about.

The movers and shakers of the world all owe their positions to the economies, and therefore the levels of energy use, that the worried people now want to move away from. And then they turn to the same movers and shakers to make that happen. Sorry, no can do. All you’ll get is lip service from people looking for money and power, who are not interested in being proved wrong if they are.

Today’s climate discussion is a road to nowhere where down the line there’ll be nobody left to talk to and no birds singing. You yourself probably won’t be there either. There is not one politician who will volunteer to give up their power if that could save the world their children will have to live in. They’ll come up with a story where their position is save and so is that world, and they’re more than likely to believe it.

 

As for the media, the tale gets darker fast. It didn’t start in 2018, but it did become a lot more outspoken. As I’ve said before, there are three targets for the former trusted sources of impartial news, even as those sources rapidly become more partial as we move forward. And that of course has to do with their new business model I wrote about a lot: writing negative stories about Donald Trump became an obvious source of revenue well before he was president.

Once he was elected, the media doubled down. They wrote against Trump at first thinking he would be beaten in the GOP primaries, then some more when he faced Hillary, then because they didn’t like him in the White House, and finally because he turned out to be the business proposition that quite literally kept them alive. What was it, over 100,000 new subscribers for the NYT a MONTH at a certain point?! Would CNN and Rachel Maddow even exist anymore without the Donald?

But that also means that the MSM cannot report anything positive about the man, with the exception of a bombing campaign in a faraway sandbox, and that is pretty crazy. No matter where you stand politically, not even Trump can do everything wrong, but CNN, MSNBC, WaPo,NYT et al can’t say it out loud, because their new readers and viewers want negative stories.

I’m not at all a Trump fan, I find it insane that America can’t find a single person among its 320 million inhabitants who could better represent it, but I also saw well over two years ago that the reporting on Trump was so biased someone had to restore at least some balance. And if that was to be me, so be it.

It’s like the entire US -and UK- press has become the National Enquirer, where the questions of truth or accuracy have become, and/or always was, a complete afterthought, irrelevant to whatever is actually published. And the readers and viewers caught inside the echo chamber will never know any better than that that is what the world really looks like.

It’s the ‘old’ media’s response to the threat of social media, a fight they cannot possibly win in the end, but not one they will relinquish easily; it will be the end of them. So there’s Trump, and then there’s Russia and Julian Assange. And there’s a live shooting practice going on in which all three are fair game.

According to two reports published just yesterday in the NY Times and the BBC, African Americans and French Yellow Vests were targeted by Russian bots, trolls, give them a name. What these once trusted media no longer understand, or don’t care about, is that they are effectively saying that African Americans and Yellow Vests are all so stupid and so unconvinced and unconvincing in their political convictions that a bunch of poorly defined Russians made them throw their votes away from Hillary Clinton and towards Trump.

Like African Americans have no opinions and therefore in the end no functioning brains. Like their f*king robots, some inferior lifeform. Is there anything you can say that is more racist than that? I come up empty. And I understand Kanye.

And that the ‘Russians’ caused tens of thousands of Frenchmen and -women to put on a yellow vest and protest Macron’s dismantling of -very- long-standing labor rights and taxation ‘reforms’ that benefit the rich French elite. You cannot insult two such vast yet diverse groups of people, who seem to have little if anything in common, African Americans and Yellow Vests, you cannot insult them more or worse than such reports do.

And they simply don’t see it. In their view, and which they -rightly by now- trust their public will eat up like hot cakes, their 24/7 anti-Trump and anti-Russia campaigns have been so convincing that they can basically say anything at all by now. If Trump or the Russians deny, that’s just what they would do if they were guilty. Assange can’t deny anything at all, they’ve totally silenced him. They being the US deep state in liaison with the MSM.

 

That’s how we’re about to enter 2019, how we’re about to move from chaos to mayhem. It is scary not just because of what we see happening today, but even more because we’ve never seen anything remotely like it. Sure, US media, any country’s media, have always supported government strategic lies in times of warfare or other tensions.

But an overall campaign against a sitting president, comprised of dozens of articles a day consisting of mere allegations and rumors, let alone the same against a state nuclear power arguably mightier than the US itself, and a journalist who’s the only one in his profession who’s actually done what journalists should do, not the well-paid follow the party line thing going on at the MSM, all this is unprecedented.

And given what we’ve seen in 2018 in the realm of banned social media accounts, in a wider sense of the word, we can only wonder how much worse the censorship can get in the mayhem year of 2019.

Can the Automatic Earth, and for instance our friends at Zero Hedge, only continue to exist next year if we agree to increasingly become the poodles of the ruling political classes, intelligence services, and their press masters and lackeys?

It’s starting to look that way. So in closing, I want to call on you to support us by donating a Christmas gift, and preferably a recurring one all through the 2019 mayhem year, so we know we can continue to present you with an alternative to the ‘appropriate’ information you’re ‘supposed’ to be receiving.

It’s later than you think.

 

 

Aug 142017
 


August Strindberg Alpine Landscape I 1894

 

Multiple Contraction : Stock Market Warning Siren is Blaring (WS)
Is The Euro Crisis Really Over? (Lacalle)
US Is The Real Trade Protectionist – China State Media (CNBC)
Fourth Turning: “It’s Going To Be A Rollercoaster Ride” (ZH)
Conspiracy or Chaos? (Jim Quinn)
Forget GDP – There’s More To Britain’s Wealth Than Its Bank Balance (Baggini)
Factory Farming, Antibiotics Use In Asia Creating Global Health Risks (G.)
More NGOs Follow MSF In Suspending Mediterranean Migrant Rescues (R.)
Syrian Refugees Can Return To Aleppo… And Do So In Their 100,000s (RT)
Do Elephants Have Souls? (NA)

 

 

Creative accounting is subject to inherent limits.

Multiple Contraction : Stock Market Warning Siren is Blaring (WS)

“Adjusted” earnings growth is 10.2% year-over-year in the second quarter, according to FactSet, based on the 91% of the companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results. The energy sector was a key driver, with 332% “adjusted” earnings growth from the oil-bust levels of a year ago. The sectors with double-digit earnings growth: information technology (14.7%), utilities (10.8%), and financials (10.3%). The rest were single digit. Earnings in the consumer discretionary sector declined. Revenues grew 5.1%, also led by the energy sector. At the beginning of Q2 last year, the WTI grade of crude oil traded at $35 a barrel. In Q2 this year, WTI ranged from $42 to $53 a barrel.

So the Wall-Street hype machine is cranking at maximum RPM to propagate the great news that earnings are soaring, and that this is the reason why stocks should also be soaring, and forget everything else. The hype machine carefully avoids showing the bigger picture which is dismal for earnings and ludicrous for stock valuations. Aggregate earnings per share (EPS) for the S&P 500 companies on a trailing 12-months basis rose for the second quarter in a row. That’s the foundation of the Wall Street hype. But here’s the thing with these EPS: they’re now back where they had been in… May 2014. Yep. More than three years of earnings stagnation. No growth whatsoever, even for “adjusted” earnings. In fact, on a trailing 12-month basis, aggregate EPS of the S&P 500 companies are down about 5% from their peak in Q4 2014.

And yet, over the same three-plus years of total earnings stagnation, the S&P 500 index has soared 34%. This chart shows those “adjusted” earnings per share for the S&P 500 companies (black line) and the S&P 500 index (blue line). I marked August 2012 as the point five years ago, and May 2014. And these are not earnings under the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). FactSet uses “adjusted” earnings for its analyses. These are the earnings with the bad stuff “adjusted” out of them by management to manipulate earnings into the most favorable light. Not all companies report “adjusted” earnings. Some only report GAAP earnings and live with the consequences. But others put adjusted earnings into the foreground, and that’s what Wall Street dishes up.

[..] This is the peculiar situation of today: On average, these companies have stagnating earnings per share propped up by “adjusting” these earnings and by financial engineering. The price-earnings multiple (P/E ratio) for stagnating companies should be low. In January 2012, the P/E ratio for the companies in the S&P 500 index was 14.9. And that was high. As of Friday, the aggregate P/E ratio is 24.3:

Read more …

Brussels keeps Europe from recovering. A continent of zombies.

Is The Euro Crisis Really Over? (Lacalle)

This week we have read that Brussels has certified “the end of the crisis”. In an uncomfortably triumphant statement, the group welcomed the fact that Europe had emerged from the crisis and returned to growth “thanks to the decisive action of the European Union”. Really? Thanks to the “decisive action” of the European Union the “economy is back in shape”? It is true that the communique says that “much remains to be done to overcome the legacy of the crisis years”, but if we can say something about the European crisis is that the “decisive” action of the European Union has not helped to end the crisis, but has perpetuated and silenced it. The European economy is not “in shape”.

According to the Bank of International Settlements and Merrill Lynch, Europe has more zombie companies today than before the crisis, 9% of large listed non-financial corporations are considered walking dead, ie generating operating profits that do not cover their financial costs, in spite of all-time low-interest rates and an unprecedented monetary stimulus. And that is among the big companies, where the business results of the Eurostoxx remain below 2008. If we go to SMEs, the European Union has higher rates of bankruptcies and losses than in 2008, yet the tax burden on companies has increased. In fact, if anything can be said of the European business fabric is that it has been devastated by taxes.

The European Union has continued to hamper the high-productivity sectors to support the so-called national champions and zombies, that large amount of low-value added conglomerates, ridden by high debt and poor margins. While the United States saw the astronomical takeoff of technology giants and corporate profits growing at double digit rates, the EU decided to put obstacles to growth, and today, in the Eurostoxx 100, we have the same collection of dinosaurs that we had a decade ago. European banks, at the end of 2016, had more than €1 trillion in non-performing loans, a figure that represents 5.1% of total loans compared to 1.5% in the US or Japan. Europe has gone from financial crisis to financial crisis, and recently we have had new episodes in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Read more …

Theory: Xi will not put up a real fight if he’s not certain he can win (Deng Xiao Ping’s stance on US).

US Is The Real Trade Protectionist – China State Media (CNBC)

Trump is expected to issue the so-called Section 301 investigation under the 1974 Trade Act later on Monday to investigate Chinese trade practices that force U.S. firms operating in China to turn over intellectual property, multiple outlets reported. China will retaliate in such a case, said the Communist Party-linked Global Times, which is known for its nationalist slant. “The Trump administration should have second thoughts about putting pressure on China on trade and avoid a full-blown trade war,” said the newspaper, adding that the Beijing “should make use of the WTO mechanism to sue the U.S. for trade protectionism.” “The trade policies of the Trump administration have been widely criticized. Although filing a lawsuit with the WTO is time-consuming, it is highly likely that China would win,” it said.

The latest news about a U.S. probe into Chinese trade practices could lead to steep tariffs and comes as Trump is pressing for China’s cooperation in reining in North Korea’s nuclear program. “The U.S. now is walking softly and carrying a huge stick in regards to what it wants. Here, this is tactically nothing more than ‘We need your support with North Korea,’ part and parcel, that’s it. The symbolism of this is just politics and game play,” Frank Troise, managing director at SoHo Capital, told CNBC’s “The Rundown.” China has repeatedly said the two issues were not related, with the Global Times calling the link “illogical” in its Sunday night editorial. Commentaries in state media normally provide insight into government thinking beyond typically thin official statements.

Read more …

Neil Howe is an interesting voice, and that’s only partly because Steve Bannon likes his work.

Fourth Turning: “It’s Going To Be A Rollercoaster Ride” (ZH)

[..] .. although 9/11 changed America’s attitude towards the rest of the world, I think that the stock market boom and celebrity circus that’s here in the United States really hadn’t changed very much. And I don’t think you really had a shift, a fundamental shift, in America’s perception of themselves as a people, as their own country, to a fundamental degree until 2008. Also, 2001, as we explained to many people at the time, was simply too early. Every turning starts when each generation is beginning to move into a new phase of life. Back in 2001 boomers were not yet retiring, millennials were still—maybe the first one of them was barely graduating from high school.

So, this was not what we expected. 2008 really did coincide with the generational maturity of the turning, so to speak. And I think that, in terms of the basic shift in our efficacy of the social system, I think 2008 was a bigger change.” The crisis also ushered in an era where central banks exhibit total control of markets, which has created an “artificial quality,” Howe said. “The economic emergency that occurred in 2008-2009 really catapulted us into by far the biggest economic emergency we’ve been in since the early 1930s. And, arguably, we are still living out the consequences of that with complete change in central bank policy, monetary policy, with sustaining these record low interest rates and arguable very high valuations in financial markets—almost anything pushed by that—and people still wondering how we’re going to get out from under that.

The constant discussion is when are central banks going to pull back on their balance sheets and actually go back to the old normal? So, I think there is the sense, even in this the booming markets that we see today, that there is this artificial quality: people think that there’s something wrong about this. We have not re-righted where we were. We are not letting price discovery and actual markets function the way they did before then. So, I do believe that 2008 was the beginning of a whole new regime. And I also believe that the political dysfunction, the sense of political dysfunction—created during the two turns of the Obama presidency and, obviously, also into the Trump presidency—of government completely grinding to a halt is going to have some very powerful repercussions in the years shortly to come.”

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Anarchy in the UK.

Conspiracy or Chaos? (Jim Quinn)

Alan Moore, the renowned graphic novel writer, and author of the dystopian classic V for Vendetta, politically identifies as an anarchist. His view that all political states are an outgrowth of anarchy, with the biggest gang taking control and dictating how things will be run, is manifested in V for Vendetta. As an anarchist, you can understand why he is doubtful of conspiracy theories and an all-powerful entity controlling the world. He believes in a chaotic world competing gangs position themselves to gain power and control.

“We live in a badly developed anarchist situation in which the biggest gang has taken over and have declared that it is not an anarchist situation – that it is a capitalist or a communist situation. But I tend to think that anarchy is the most natural form of politics for a human being to actually practice.”- Alan Moore

The Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta has been adopted by anarchist groups around the world, including: Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and the Occupy protestors. Moore’s positive view of the Occupy movement was based on his belief ordinary people had the right to reclaim what had been taken from them by criminal bankers. The initial impetus for the Occupy protests was the destruction of Main Street USA by Wall Street sociopaths, who not only escaped prosecution for their crimes, but were bailed out by the taxpayers they had pillaged and further enriched as captured politicians enabled them to get even bigger. Millions were evicted from their homes and lost their jobs. Middle class families have seen their real income continue to stagnate, while bankers, corporate executives, and politicians have reaped billions in bonuses, stock gains, and payoffs, provided by central bankers in their back pocket.

“I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it – they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. As an anarchist, I believe that power should be given to the people whose lives this is actually affecting.” – Alan Moore

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Basic argument: technological growth beats economic growth. But why argue this using social housing and libraries?

Forget GDP – There’s More To Britain’s Wealth Than Its Bank Balance (Baggini)

How is this possible? Because “a lot of improvements in standard of living come not through what we normally consider as growth, but through technological improvements”. This is a concrete example of real growth without what is normally understood by economic growth. If we can grasp this, we can see why the argument about whether indefinite growth is environmentally sustainable is bogus. Orthodox economics says that it is essential if the world’s worst-off are to escape their poverty. Critics argue for zero or even negative growth, claiming that this is the only way to ensure we don’t deplete the planet’s resources. Both are wrong. Real wealth is created not just by exploiting more resources and increasing society’s cash pot but by exploiting the same or fewer resources better.

The whole question of GDP growth is a red herring if we are interested in real wealth. What matters is that we do more with the resources we have. Building a better future depends on seeing this clearly. Take the need to reduce inequality, which many now accept is urgent. To do this it is assumed we need to reduce the income gap between rich and poor. But real equality is increased simply by making it possible for the less well-off to do more with the money they have. Social housing was, and could again be, an example of that. Take two people, one of whom earns £30k a year and the other £15k. To close the real wealth gap between the two does not necessarily require increasing the income of the latter. Providing them with a decent council flat at low rent effectively allows their disposable income to equalise.

The basic principle here is that what matters most is giving people the resources they need to live better, which doesn’t necessarily require giving them more cash. This has in effect been the principle behind all sorts of socially levelling initiatives. Local authorities didn’t give local people free books, they gave them the use of libraries. They didn’t give them cars, they gave them bus passes. We need to relearn the wisdom of these policies, and update them for the modern age. In an era where car ownership is not rare, what about low-cost car clubs? Why shouldn’t more people be able to borrow laptops and tablets from libraries as well as books and DVDs?

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“Half of all antibiotics globally are now consumed in China alone.”

Factory Farming, Antibiotics Use In Asia Creating Global Health Risks (G.)

The use of antibiotics in factory farms in Asia is set to more than double in just over a decade, with potentially damaging effects on antibiotic resistance around the world. Factory farming of poultry in Asia is also increasing the threat of bird flu spreading beyond the region, with more deadly strains taking hold, according to a new report from a network of financial investors. Use of antibiotics in poultry and pig farms will increase by more than 120% in Asiaby 2030, based on current trends. Half of all antibiotics globally are now consumed in China alone. The Chinese meat and animal feed producers New Hope Group and Wen’s Group are now among the 10 biggest animal feed manufacturers in the world. The growth of Asian meat production in intensive units is also producing a rise in greenhouse gas emissions from the food chain, with emissions likely to rise by more than 360m tonnes, the equivalent of running 100 coal-fired power plants for a year.

There are knock-on impacts such as deforestation, as China’s need for animal feed is responsible for more than a third of Brazil’s soybean production. The report, Factory Farming in Asia: Assessing Investment Risks, comes three years after a meat scandal in China, in which suppliers to McDonalds, KFC and others were found to be using dirty meat and products past their sell-by date. It also comes in the midst of a growing food scandal in Europe, which has required the recall of millions of eggs tainted with harmful chemicals, and as concerns have been aired over the impact of Brexit on imports of farm products to the UK. Asian food companies have rapidly expanded their meat production in response to growing populations and the tastes of the rising middle class, but this expansion has come to the detriment of food safety.

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They’re being shot at. And the Italian Foreign Minister calls that “a welcome readjustment” and a “positive process”.

More NGOs Follow MSF In Suspending Mediterranean Migrant Rescues (R.)

Two more aid groups have suspended migrant rescues in the Mediterranean, joining Doctors Without Borders, because they felt threatened by the Libyan coastguard. Save the Children and Germany’s Sea Eye said on Sunday their crews could no longer work safely because of the hostile stance of the Libyan authorities. Doctors Without Borders – or Medecins sans Frontieres – cited the same concern when it said on Saturday it would halt Mediterranean operations. “We leave a deadly gap in the Mediterranean,” Sea Eye’s founder Michael Busch Heuer warned on Facebook, adding that Libya had issued an “explicit threat” against non-government organisations operating in the area around its coast. Libyan coastguard boats have repeatedly clashed with NGO vessels on the edge of Libyan waters, sometimes opening fire.

The coastguard has defended such actions, saying the shooting was to assert control over rescue operations. “In general, we do not reject (NGO) presence, but we demand from them more cooperation with the state of Libya … they should show more respect to the Libyan sovereignty,” coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters on Sunday. Tension has also been growing for weeks between aid groups and the Italian government, which has suggested some NGOs are facilitating people smuggling, while Italy is trying to enhance the role of the Libyan coastguard in blocking migrant departures. This month, Italy began a naval mission in Libyan waters to provide technical and operational support to its coastguard, despite opposition from factions in eastern Libya that oppose the U.N.-backed government based in Tripoli.

[..] Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in a newspaper interview on Sunday that Libya’s growing role in controlling its waters was curbing people trafficking and producing a welcome “readjustment” in the Mediterranean. MSF’s decision to halt its rescue operations was part of this positive process, he told the newspaper La Stampa.

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There’s propaganda and then there’s reality. You decide who you believe.

Syrian Refugees Can Return To Aleppo… And Do So In Their 100,000s (RT)

Aleppo, a city retaken by Damascus from rebels in December last year, has become a major destination for displaced Syrian returning home in 2017 as numbers of returnees to Syria spills over 600,000, according to the UN. Over the first seven months of 2017, over 600,000 displaced Syrians returned home, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday, citing its own figures as well as those of the UN Migration Agency and partners on the ground. The returnees are overwhelmingly internally-displaced people, but 16% returned to Syria from other nations, primarily Turkey. The number almost matched that recorded in the whole of 2016. An estimated 67% of returnees went to government-controlled Aleppo Governorate, with the provincial capital itself being the primary destination.

Among other places where refugees went in significant numbers, according to ICO, is Al-Hasakah Governorate, the north-eastern province dominated by Kurds. The city of Aleppo – the largest in Syria prior to the conflict – was retaken by the government army last year, aided by Russia, with hostilities ending in mid-December. For years before that, it was divided between two parts, held respectively by government forces and by a disjointed collection of militant groups, including hardcore jihadists. The battle for the city ended with a ceasefire deal, which allowed remaining rebel forces and their families leave Aleppo and go to Idlib governorate, which currently remains a rebel stronghold.

Earlier an increasing number of refugees returning to their homes in Syria was reported by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which said more than 440,000 internally-displaced persons and 31,000 refugees in other countries had done so over the first six months of 2016. Aleppo and other government-controlled governorates like Hama, Homs and Damascus were mentioned as destinations for the returnees. [..] The situation is far from rosy of course, according to IOM. The number of people forced to leave their homes in 2017 still outweighs that of returnees, with over 808,000 people estimated to be displaced. Around 10% of those who returned in 2016 and 2017 have ended up fleeing their homes again. Almost 20% of the returnees have no secure supply of food and access to water and health services is a problem for some 60%, a testament to the damage the Syrian war has taken on its civilian infrastructure.

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Love it. Absolute must read, the whole article. Very rich.

Do Elephants Have Souls? (NA)

The birth of an elephant is a spectacular occasion. Grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and cousins crowd around the new arrival and its dazed mother, trumpeting and stamping and waving their trunks to welcome the floppy baby who has so recently arrived from out of the void, bursting through the border of existence to take its place in an unbroken line stretching back to the dawn of life. After almost two years in the womb and a few minutes to stretch its legs, the calf can begin to stumble around. But its trunk, an evolutionarily unique inheritance of up to 150,000 muscles with the dexterity to pick up a pin and the strength to uproot a tree, will be a mystery to it at first, with little apparent use except to sometimes suck upon like human babies do their thumbs.

Over time, with practice and guidance, it will find the potential in this appendage flailing off its face to breathe, drink, caress, thwack, probe, lift, haul, wrap, spray, sense, blast, stroke, smell, nudge, collect, bathe, toot, wave, and perform countless other functions that a person would rely on a combination of eyes, nose, hands, and strong machinery to do. Once the calf is weaned from its mother’s milk at five or whenever its next sibling is born, it will spend up to 16 hours a day eating 5% of its entire weight in leaves, grass, brush, bark, and basically any other kind of vegetation. It will only process about 40% of the nutrients in this food, however; the waste it leaves behind helps fertilize plant growth and provide accessible nutrition on the ground to smaller animals, thus making the elephant a keystone species in its habitat. From 250 pounds at birth, it will continue to grow throughout its life, to up to 7 tons for a male of the largest species or 4 tons for a female.

Of the many types of elephants and mammoths that used to roam the earth, one born today will belong to one of three surviving species: Elephas maximus in Asia, Loxodonta africana (savanna elephant) or Loxodonta cyclotis (forest elephant) in Africa. There are about 500,000 African elephants alive now (about a third of them the more reticent, less studied L. cyclotis), and only 40,000 – 50,000 Asian elephants remaining. The Swedish Elephant Encyclopedia database currently lists just under 5,000 (most of them E. maximus) living in captivity worldwide, in half as many locations — meaning that the average number of elephants per holding is less than two; many of them live without a single companion of their kind.

For the freeborn, if it is a cow, the “allomothers” who welcomed her into the world will be with her for life — a matriarchal clan led by the oldest and biggest. She in turn will be an enthusiastic caretaker and playmate to her younger cousins and siblings. When she is twelve or fourteen, she will go into heat (“estrus”) for the first time, a bewildering occurrence during which her mother will stand by and show her what to do and which male to accept. If she conceives, she will have a calf twenty-two months later, crucially aided in birthing and raising it by the more experienced older ladies. She may have another every four to five years into her fifties or sixties, but not all will survive.

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May 292017
 
 May 29, 2017  Posted by at 9:35 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


Hokusai Views of Mount Fuji: Ejiri in Suruga Province 1831

 

Europe “Must Take Its Fate Into Its Own Hands” – Angela Merkel (AFP)
Stocks Won’t Crash Spectacularly but May Zigzag Lower (WS)
The Great Aussie Recession-Free Run Is Looking Shaky – Again (BBG)
Australia Retail Sector Shudders (Aus.)
US Homeowners Are Again Pocketing Cash as They Refinance Properties (WSJ)
The Guardian Mourns Corbyn’s Polling Surge (Cook)
Tories Pledge New Law Over Domestic Violence Directed At Children (G.)
US Should Focus On The Economy And Skip Irrelevant Talking Forums (CNBC)
Camille Paglia: Democrats Are Colluding With The Media To Create Chaos (WE)
How Team Obama Tried To Hack The Election (NYP)
Syria’s Assad Explains How The US Really Works (ICH)
Macron Promises Tough Talk At First Putin Meeting (R.)
Economists Have to Embrace Complexity to Avoid Disaster (Steve Keen)
Greek Archbishop: ‘I See a Europe of Exploitation, not Solidarity’ (GR)

 

 

I’ve seen a dozen versions of this. Few people seem to know how to properly translate Merkel’s comments, let alone interpret them. Well, let’s just say Merkel is in election mood, and stuff like this does well in Germany.

Europe “Must Take Its Fate Into Its Own Hands” – Angela Merkel (AFP)

Europe “must take its fate into its own hands” faced with a western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday. “The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days,” Merkel told a crowd at an election rally in Munich, southern Germany. “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she added. While Germany and Europe would strive to remain on good terms with America and Britain, “we have to fight for our own destiny”, Merkel went on. Special emphasis was needed on warm relations between Berlin and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, she said. The chancellor had just returned from a G7 summit which wound up Saturday without a deal between the US and the other six major advanced nations on upholding the 2015 Paris climate accords.

Merkel on Saturday labelled the result of the “six against one” discussion “very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory”. Trump offered a more positive assessment on Twitter Sunday, writing: “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” The US president had earlier tweeted that he would reveal whether or not the US would stick to the global emissions deal – which he pledged to jettison on the campaign trail – only next week. On a previous leg of his first trip abroad as president, Trump had repeated past criticism of NATO allies for failing to meet the defensive alliance’s military spending commitment of 2% of GDP. Observers noted that he neglected to publicly endorse the pact’s Article Five, which guarantees that member countries will aid the others they are attacked.

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When shorts defeat their own goals: “..the more investors prepare for this by putting large amounts of money aside to plow into a crashing market to pick up the pieces, the more likely they will be to stop the crash in its tracks. “

Stocks Won’t Crash Spectacularly but May Zigzag Lower (WS)

The market is like a “coiled spring” after eight years of QE and interest rate repression, Singer said in the email announcing the $5-billion offering. His firm wants to have the liquidity to capitalize on a “possibly large opportunity set that could emerge when investor confidence is impaired, recent correlations and assumptions don’t work, and prices are changing rapidly.” He added: “The nature of modern markets is that rich opportunity sets seem to be ephemeral, providing surprising volatility, bargains and dislocations for only brief periods of time before governments, aware of the politically destructive effects of extreme volatility, rally to take stern actions to keep the balls up in the air.” So they’d have to act fast to front-run the Fed.

It will be an event that could produce extraordinary returns by picking up the pieces before central banks jump in and once again bail out stockholders and bondholders. That’s the theory. But here’s the thing: the more investors prepare for this by putting large amounts of money aside to plow into a crashing market to pick up the pieces, the more likely they will be to stop the crash in its tracks. As a sharp sell-off unfolds and after regular dip-buyers are crushed, the nervous crash buyers that don’t want to miss this opportunity will start buying. They’re nervous because the Fed could jump in and reverse the crash, and they want to pick up the pieces before that happens. So they’ll jump in early and the intense buying will stop the crash. This includes short-sellers who want to take profits and cover their positions during a crash.

They’re the most nervous bunch of them all. Under this buying pressure, asset prices would begin to bounce before the Fed steps in, and given the bouncing prices, it might not step in, though prices might not reach prior highs. Then, after a period of calm which the smart money will use to unload these positions and take profits, the sell-off would start all over again until crash-buyers pile in again to front-run the Fed. This can go on for many years – a brutal zigzagging lower that never quite offers the buying opportunities because too much money jumps in too soon to turn selloffs into rallies that then fail. Japanese stocks have gone through this since 1989 despite the Bank of Japan’s umpteen rounds of QE and endless interest rate repression. And they’re still going through it, with the Nikkei down nearly 50% from its peak almost three decades ago.

Given the smart money’s fervent intentions to capitalize on these crashes and given investors’ eagerness to put a lot of money behind this strategy in advance, I think a long drawn-out Japan-like downtrend in asset prices with dizzying ups and even bigger downs is a likely if terrible scenario that may well crush how investors feel about buying and holding these assets, as it did in Japan.

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The foundations are crumbling.

The Great Aussie Recession-Free Run Is Looking Shaky – Again (BBG)

Weak signals from Australia are forcing economists to revisit their Q1 growth forecasts. Some are even suggesting a contraction. Home building, net exports and household consumption could be a drag on GDP for the first three months of 2017, according to some estimates. A negative print would raise the specter of recession, especially as a cyclone that ripped through Queensland’s key coal mining region is tipped to subtract from growth in the three months through June. Sluggish data “all points to growth being only marginally positive at this stage and there’s certainly the risk of a negative quarter,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP in Sydney, who now expects first-quarter GDP growth of around 0.2% rather than the 0.5-0.6% he previously penciled in.

Australia’s enviable track-record in avoiding two straight quarters of contraction since 1991 is on shaky ground. While the economy grew a solid 1.1% in the final three months of last year, it was rebounding from a shock 0.5% decline. Australia & New Zealand Bank last week said growth could be just 0.1% in the first quarter of this year. That would be an annual rate of 1.5%, the lowest since 2009. While the Reserve Bank of Australia has said holding its benchmark interest rate at a record low 1.5% since September is appropriate for “sustainable growth” and meeting its inflation target, a soft GDP number won’t go unnoticed.

Oliver says anemic growth in the first half means the risks are still to the downside for borrowing costs, even if the market sees about a 20% chance of a cut this year. A weak number would likely cast further doubt on the government’s growth forecasts, delivered in its annual budget this month, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ruling coalition struggles in the polls. The Treasury is forecasting GDP growth of 1.75% in the 12 months through June, accelerating to 3% by fiscal 2019. “We’ve long held the view that sub-trend growth is likely to persist. This idea of a return back to 3%-plus growth looks a little ambitious at this stage,” said Su-Lin Ong at Royal Bank of Canada.

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There’s so much money locked up in the housing bubble, spending can only go down. Bubbles are never innocent.

Australia Retail Sector Shudders (Aus.)

“It’s no secret it’s tough in retail at the moment and the share prices of traditional retail business models are reflecting that”, said Andrew Mitchell, portfolio manager at Ophir Asset Management. “The reality is the Australian consumer just isn’t spending right now.” “Household disposable income growth is at the lowest point since the GFC (global financial crisis). Higher utility prices and higher petrol prices continue to create an impact and the out-of-cycle rate rises from banks won’t help either. When you have wage growth sitting at the lowest levels in 30 years, it s going to affect the discretionary spend.” Economic statistics point to some of the toughest times in the sector as shoppers go on strike, not even being swayed by heavily discounted sales as stores make room for winter stock.

Retail spending has slumped, according to UBS economist Scott Haslem. He noted that three of the past four months had seen month-on-month falls in national retail spending for the first time in almost six years, sending the year-on-year pace of sales to just 2.1% in March, its slowest since mid-2013. Mr Haslem admitted the weakness had been surprising, especially given the general level of consumer confidence, which seems to have stabilised of late. “This has caught us somewhat by surprise. Not least because overall consumer confidence, while modestly lower, remains around average and this (month s) wage data also show more evidence quarterly wage growth is ‘basing’ “, he said.

Mr Haslem pointed to the cashflow of the average Australian home as the culprit. “While low interest rates and falling petrol costs have softened the blow from slowing wage growth in recent years, with still low wages growth, and renewed rises across utilities, debt interest and petrol costs, household cashflow is now under significant renewed downward pressure”, he said. “Overall, the recent sharp weakening in consumer cashflow sheds much insight into the recent weakening in early 2017 retail sales. While households have broadly maintained their real consumption growth into late 2016, this has been significantly achieved by drawing on their saving. But with cashflow growth continuing to slow, and savings intentions rising, it’s likely this drawdown in saving rate will end.”

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The dumbest possible comment: this time is different.

US Homeowners Are Again Pocketing Cash as They Refinance Properties (WSJ)

Americans refinancing their mortgages are taking cash out in the process at levels not seen since the financial crisis. Nearly half of borrowers who refinanced their homes in the first quarter chose the cash-out option, according to data released this week by Freddie Mac. That is the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2008. The cash-out level is still well below the almost 90% peak hit in the run-up to the housing meltdown. But it is up sharply from the post-crisis nadir of 12% in the second quarter of 2012. In a cash-out refi, a borrower refinances an existing mortgage with a new one, typically at a lower borrowing cost, that has a higher principal balance than the existing one. This allows the homeowner to pay off the old mortgage and still have cash left over for other uses.

The growing popularity of cash-out refis has helped buoy refinance activity. After booming for several years, demand for refinance mortgages had begun to slow as the Federal Reserve began increasing short-term interest rates and longer-term bond yields moved higher. Mortgage rates remain low by historical standards, though. The average rate for a fixed, 30-year mortgage was 3.95%, Freddie Mac reported this week. Meanwhile, rising home prices have helped increase the equity homeowners have in their houses. This allows more people to refinance to capture the benefit of lower mortgage rates. And borrowers whose homes are rising in value are often more likely to be interested in refinancing for cash. For example, in Denver and Dallas, where home prices have jumped, more than half of refinancers opted for cash last year, according to Freddie Mac.

To some housing-market observers, the fact that more homeowners are tapping their homes for cash represents a healthy confidence in the economy. It comes against a backdrop of continued gains in employment. At the same time, the increasing use of cash-out refis causes some concern since, in the run-up to the financial crisis, borrowers used their homes like veritable ATMs. Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist, says this time has been different. Borrowers now are subject to stricter standards when they get a loan or refinance a mortgage. There is also less money at stake now than a decade ago.

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Corbyn is making UK media nervous: A Telegraph headline today: “Jeremy Corbyn has long hated Britain”

The Guardian Mourns Corbyn’s Polling Surge (Cook)

It is quite extraordinary to read today’s coverage in Britain’s supposedly left-liberal newspaper the Guardian. In the “man bites dog” stakes, the day’s biggest story is the astounding turn-around in the polls two weeks before the British general election. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has narrowed the Conservatives’ lead from an unassailable 22 points to 5, according to the latest YouGov survey. It looks possible for the first time, if the trend continues, that Corbyn could even win the popular poll. (Securing a majority of the British parliament’s seats is a different matter, given the UK’s inherently undemocratic electoral system.) Is the news that the “unelectable” Corbyn has dramatically closed the gap with the Tories front page news for the Guardian? Well, only very tangentially. It is buried in the paper’s lead story, which is far more interested in issues other than the new poll finding.

The story – headlined “May puts Manchester bombing at heart of election with attack on Corbyn” – largely adopts Conservative leader Theresa May’s line of attack against Corbyn for his suggestion that there might be a link between long-term western violence in the Middle East (now usually referred to as “intervention”) and terror attacks like the one in Manchester last week. Labour’s dramatic rise in the polls is briefly mentioned 12 – yes, 12! – paragraphs into the story. It is almost as though the Guardian does not want you to know that Corbyn and his policies are proving far more successful in the election campaign than the Guardian predicted or ever wanted. In fact, the Guardian’s only story on the poll – buried deep on the inside pages – could not be less enamoured with the polling turn-around. The story – headlined “Labour poll rise suggests Manchester attack has not boosted Tories” – is again framed as a story about Conservative failure rather than the draw of Corbyn and his policies.

Here is as excited as the Guardian can get about the Tories’ highly diminished 5-point lead: “It was always going to be the case that the polls would narrow during the course of the campaign, as Labour’s policies received greater media exposure, but the YouGov poll implies that public opinion is more volatile.” It sounds almost as though the Guardian, which has been denigrating Corbyn since his election as Labour leader nearly two years ago (along with the rest of the British media), does not want him to win. Let’s put that another way. It’s almost as though Britain’s only supposedly left-liberal newspaper would prefer that May and the Conservatives won. This, let us remind ourselves, is the same Conservative party that has made the once-surging, far-right UKIP party largely redundant by adopting many of its ugliest policies.

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Seeking publicity dead ahead of an election with plans to protect children from X,Y,Z, is a dead give away spindoctors are involved. Bill Clinton ‘launched’ a V-chip plan ahead of the 1996 election. when he was under severe pressure, which supposedly allowed parents to control what their kids could watch on TV. Great success voting wise, but never heard from again.

Tories Pledge New Law Over Domestic Violence Directed At Children (G.)

Theresa May has pledged to create a new aggravated offence when domestic violence is directed towards a child, in order to allow perpetrators to be punished for longer. She also confirmed that a Tory government would introduce a statutory definition for domestic violence and establish a special commissioner to stand up for victims. “We will launch a relentless drive to help survivors find justice and increase the number of successful prosecutions. This hidden scandal, that takes place every day in homes across Britain, must be tackled head on,” said May. “And we must respond to the devastating and lifelong impact that domestic abuse has on children, who carry the effects into adulthood.”

She argued that the Conservative party had delivered “real steps towards tackling domestic violence” over seven years, but wanted to go further. The Tory manifesto promised to support victims to leave abusive partners and to review the funding for refuges. However, the Labour party has analysed domestic violence rates since 2009, with an increase in violence against women perpetrated by their acquaintances. There has been a levelling off of violence against women by strangers and a fall in violence against men. Sarah Champion, the shadow women’s minister, has campaigned against the loss of 17% of specialist refuges for domestic violence victims in England since 2010.

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“..tweeting would have saved a lot of money and an embarrassing French and German media portrayal of a “confused and isolated America.”

US Should Focus On The Economy And Skip Irrelevant Talking Forums (CNBC)

Seeking to cut $610 billion from health care for the poor, and $192 billion from food assistance to 43 million Americans struggling to make ends meet, while spending millions of dollars on European jamborees will probably strike most people as an example of bad and insensitive public policy. Given the vacuity of last week’s European meetings, one may question why was it necessary for the U.S. president to spend four days and all that money to repeat for the nth time to people who took $165 billion net out of their U.S. trade in 2016 what he has been telling them over the last two years. No European leader has been in any doubt for quite some time that (a) trillions of dollars in U.S. trade deficits and a soaring net foreign debt of $8.1 trillion could not continue, (b) trade policies would be reviewed with particular attention to countries running systematic and large trade surpluses with the U.S., (c) the treaty on global warming would be closely scrutinized and (d) U.S. would insist on all member countries honoring their financial obligations to the NATO alliance.

All these issues have been explained in bilateral and multilateral forums and constantly amplified by the European media. The White House should have taken a cue from Italy’s former (and most probably future) Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Outraged by do-nothing summits in Brussels, he scolded the spendthrift Eurocrats for squandering public money and precious time on matters where a simple SMS could have taken care of their trivial agenda. Yes, tweeting would have saved a lot of money and an embarrassing French and German media portrayal of a “confused and isolated America.” That would have also spared Washington the German G-7 lecture about the virtues of free trade. Lacking no chutzpah, the German chancellor Angela Merkel told President Trump last week that the U.S. should not complain about trade deficits with Germany.

Why? Simple, she said: Germany is a big investor in the U.S. creating thousands of jobs. There was no repartee from the U.S. side because our trade experts failed to slip a note to the president to tell him that these investments were financed with the money we gave them to buy German goods. Running large trade deficits with Germany enables German companies to recycle their dollar earnings in the U.S., killing whatever is left of jobs and incomes in our manufacturing – Detroit automakers being one of the prominent cases in point. Yes, we are giving them the rope … and the German chancellor apparently wanted more of it. Thanks in large part to these kinds of trade policies we now have the stock of human and physical capital that sets the limits to potential (and noninflationary) growth rate at a miserable 1.5%.

Undeterred, our free-traders insist that we should focus on services, leave the manufacturing sector to Germans and the Chinese, keep piling on foreign debt and still think that we can make the country safe and secure, maybe even run the world on the side. A wonderful picture, isn’t it? Hospitality industries, Silicon Valley and Hollywood will be our big money spinners. Maybe. But that’s not the public policy platform that won the presidency last year. So, let’s see what the vox populi says during the all-important mid-term Congressional elections in November 2018. These elections could seal the fate of this administration and of the legislative control by the Republican Party.

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“I am appalled at the behavior of the media,” she declared. “It’s the collapse of journalism.”

Camille Paglia: Democrats Are Colluding With The Media To Create Chaos (WE)

Camille Paglia is much more worried about the media than about the steady string of Trump-related scandals they claim to be uncovering. In a Tuesday interview with the Washington Examiner, Paglia excoriated the press for its coverage of Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey and his alleged sharing of classified information with Russian officials. Fresh off a spirited panel with Christina Hoff Sommers hosted by the Independent Women’s Forum, the iconic feminist dissident, who serves as a professor of media studies at the University of the Arts, accused journalists of colluding with the Democratic Party in an effort to damage the Trump administration. “Democrats are doing this in collusion with the media obviously, because they just want to create chaos,” she said when asked to comment on the aforementioned stories.

“They want to completely obliterate any sense that the Trump administration is making any progress on anything.” The popular author, whose latest book was released in March, pointed to early struggles experienced by previous presidential administrations to illustrate the media’s bias against Trump. “Obama’s administration for the first six months was chaos,” Paglia recalled. “Bill Clinton’s was chaos for six months. Nobody holds that against a new person.” “Those two guys had actually been politicians!” she continued, noting Trump’s relative inexperience with government operations. Paglia’s assessment of media bias in the Trump era leaves little room for optimism.

“I am appalled at the behavior of the media,” she declared. “It’s the collapse of journalism.” As the Examiner reported in April, Paglia, who cast her ballot for Jill Stein last November, is predicting Trump will win re-election in 2020. “I feel like the Democrats have overplayed their hand,” she said at the time. Though the news cycle has moved through plenty of additional scandals in the past month, it appears as though Paglia’s assessment of the president’s prospects has not changed. “I’m looking forward to voting Democrat again,” the acclaimed philosopher explained. “But the point is I feel that the media has so utterly lost its credibility that I think people are going to vote against the media again.”

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This fun is far from over.

How Team Obama Tried To Hack The Election (NYP)

New revelations have surfaced that the Obama administration abused intelligence during the election by launching a massive domestic-spy campaign that included snooping on Trump officials. The irony is mind-boggling: Targeting political opposition is long a technique of police states like Russia, which Team Obama has loudly condemned for allegedly using its own intelligence agencies to hack into our election. The revelations, as well as testimony this week from former Obama intel officials, show the extent to which the Obama administration politicized and weaponized intelligence against Americans. Thanks to Circa News, we now know the NSA under President Barack Obama routinely violated privacy protections while snooping through foreign intercepts involving US citizens — and failed to disclose the breaches, prompting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court a month before the election to rebuke administration officials.

The story concerns what’s known as “upstream” data collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under which the NSA looks at the content of electronic communication. Upstream refers to intel scooped up about third parties: Person A sends Person B an e-mail mentioning Person C. Though Person C isn’t a party to the e-mail, his information will be scooped up and potentially used by the NSA. Further, the number of NSA data searches about Americans mushroomed after Obama loosened rules for protecting such identities from government officials and thus the reporters they talk to. The FISA court called it a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue” that NSA analysts — in violation of a 2011 rule change prohibiting officials from searching Americans’ information without a warrant — “had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

A number of those searches were made from the White House, and included private citizens working for the Trump campaign, some of whose identities were leaked to the media. The revelations earned a stern rebuke from the ACLU and from civil-liberties champion Sen. Rand Paul. We also learned this week that Obama intelligence officials really had no good reason attaching a summary of a dossier on Trump to a highly classified Russia briefing they gave to Obama just weeks before Trump took office. Under congressional questioning Tuesday, Obama’s CIA chief John Brennan said the dossier did not “in any way” factor into the agency’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election. Why not? Because as Obama intel czar James Clapper earlier testified, “We could not corroborate the sourcing.”

But that didn’t stop Brennan in January from attaching its contents to the official report for the president. He also included the unverified allegations in the briefing he gave Hill Democrats. In so doing, Brennan virtually guaranteed that it would be leaked, which it promptly was. In short, Brennan politicized raw intelligence. In fact, he politicized the entire CIA.Langley vets say Brennan was the most politicized director in the agency’s history. Former CIA field-operations officer Gene Coyle said Brennan was “known as the greatest sycophant in the history of the CIA, and a supporter of Hillary Clinton before the election. I find it hard to put any real credence in anything that the man says.”

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“..it is unrealistic and a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American President’s foreign policy..”

Syria’s Assad Explains How The US Really Works (ICH)

While Americans endlessly battle each other over seemingly important choices like Clinton and Trump or Democrats and Republicans, it is clear that the majority of the population has little understanding of how the U.S. government operates. Yet, for those who pay the price for the apathy and confusion of the general population of the West, it often becomes stunningly obvious that neither presidents nor political parties in America represent any discernible difference in the ongoing agenda of the Deep State and the rest of the oligarchical apparatus. Indeed, that agenda always marches forward regardless of who is president or which political party is in control.

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has thus had the unique position of not only being on the receiving end of American imperialism by virtue of not only being a citizen of a target country but also by being the head of the country, steeped in politics in his own right and thus understanding how certain factors come into play at the national level. With that in mind, it is worth pointing out a recent statement made by Assad during the course of an interview regarding the opinion of the Syrian government on Donald Trump. Assad stated,

“The American President has no policies. There are policies drawn by the American institutions which control the American regime which are the intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the big arms and oil companies, and financial institutions, in addition to some other lobbies which influence American decision-making. The American President merely implements these policies, and the evidence is that when Trump tried to move on a different track, during and after his election campaign, he couldn’t. He came under a ferocious attack. As we have seen in the past few week, he changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime. That’s why it is unrealistic and a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American President’s foreign policy, for he might say something; but he ultimately does what these institutions dictate to him. This is not new. This has been ongoing American policy for decades.”

Assad also addressed the Western media’s portrayal of him as a “devil” who kills and oppresses his own people. He stated,

“Yes, from a Western perspective, you are now sitting with the devil. This is how they market it in the West. But this is always the case when a state, a government, or an individual do not subjugate themselves to their interests, and do not work for their interests against the interests of their people. These have been the Western colonial demands throughout history. They say that this evil person is killing the good people. Okay, if he is killing the good people, who have been supporting him for the past six years? Neither Russia, nor Iran, nor any friendly state can support an individual at the expense of the people. This is impossible. If he is killing the people, how come the people support him? This is the contradictory Western narrative; and that’s why we shouldn’t waste our time on Western narratives because they have been full of lies throughout history, and not something new.”

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Russiagate in France. Macron better not walk his talk.

Macron Promises Tough Talk At First Putin Meeting (R.)

New French President Emmanuel Macron is promising tough talk at his first meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday, following an election campaign when his team accused Russian media of trying to interfere in the democratic process. Macron, who took office two weeks ago, has said that dialogue with Russia is vital in tackling a number of international disputes. Nevertheless, relations have been beset by mistrust, with Paris and Moscow backing opposing sides in the Syrian civil war and at odds over the Ukraine conflict. Fresh from talks with his Western counterparts at a NATO meeting in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily, Macron will host the Russian president at the palace of Versailles outside Paris. Amid the baroque splendor, Macron will use an exhibition on Russian Tsar Peter the Great at the former royal palace to try to get Franco-Russian relations off to a new start.

“It’s indispensable to talk to Russia because there are a number of international subjects that will not be resolved without a tough dialogue with them,” Macron said. “I will be demanding in my exchanges with Russia,” the 39-year-old president told reporters at the end of the G7 summit on Saturday, where the Western leaders agreed to consider new measures against Moscow if the situation in Ukraine did not improve. Relations between Paris and Moscow were increasingly strained under former President Francois Hollande. Putin, 64, canceled his last planned visit in October after Hollande said he would see him only for talks on Syria. Then during the French election campaign the Macron camp alleged Russian hacking and disinformation efforts, at one point refusing accreditation to the Russian state-funded Sputnik and RT news outlets which it said were spreading Russian propaganda and fake news.

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Shamelessly promoting Steve’s new book “Can we avoid another financial crisis?”, of which this is an excerpt.

Economists Have to Embrace Complexity to Avoid Disaster (Steve Keen)

With a higher propensity to invest comes the debt-driven crisis that Minsky predicted, and which we experienced in 2008. However, something that Minsky did not predict, but which did happen in the real world, also occurs in this model: the crisis is preceded by a period of apparent economic tranquillity that superficially looks the same as the transition to equilibrium in the good outcome. Before the crisis begins, there is a period of diminishing volatility in unemployment: the cycles in employment (and wages share) diminish [..] But then the cycles start to rise again: apparent moderation gives way to increased volatility, and ultimately a complete collapse of the model, as the employment rate and wages share of output collapse to zero and the debt to GDP ratio rises to infinity.

This model, derived simply from the incontestable foundations of macroeconomic definitions, implies that the “Great Moderation”, far from being a sign of good economic management as mainstream economists interpreted it (Blanchard et al., 2010, p. 3), was actually a warning of an approaching crisis. The difference between the good and bad outcomes is the factor Minsky insisted was crucial to understanding capitalism, but which is absent from mainstream DSGE models: the level of private debt. It stabilizes at a low level in the good outcome, but reaches a high level and does not stabilize in the bad outcome. The model produces another prediction which has also become an empirical given: rising inequality. Workers’ share of GDP falls as the debt ratio rises, even though in this simple model, workers do no borrowing at all. If the debt ratio stabilises, then inequality stabilises too, as income shares reach positive equilibrium values.

But if the debt ratio continues rising—as it does with a higher propensity to invest—then inequality keeps rising as well. Rising inequality is therefore not merely a “bad thing” in this model: it is also a prelude to a crisis. The dynamics of rising inequality are more obvious in the next stage in the model’s development, which introduces prices and variable nominal interest rates. As debt rises over a number of cycles, a rising share going to bankers is offset by a smaller share going to workers, so that the capitalists share fluctuates but remains relatively constant over time. However, as wages and inflation are driven down, the compounding of debt ultimately overwhelms falling wages, and profit share collapses. Before this crisis ensues, the rising amount going to bankers in debt service is precisely offset by the declining share going to workers, so that profit share becomes effectively constant and the world appears utterly tranquil to capitalists—just before the system fails.


Figure 5: Rising inequality caused by rising debt

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Mob or Salvation Army? Al Capone posed as both at the same time…

Greek Archbishop: ‘I See a Europe of Exploitation, not Solidarity’ (GR)

Europe’s current face was not one of solidarity and support but more one of exploitation, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos suggested on Sunday, in an interview broadcast by the state television channel ERT1. “Today, I do not see a Europe of solidarity but I see every day, more often and more clearly, the Europe of exploitation,” he said. The foundations of this Europe had to “go back to the starting point, from where it began, with the same thoughts and the same purpose,” the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece added. The Archbishop also commented on the recent terrorist strike in Manchester, expressing his horror and condemnation and noting that “terrorism is one of the worst repercussions of war.”

It was necessary, he said, “to also look at the other side, to see who are those leading these people to become terrorists.” On Church-State relations, he said the role of the Church was to talk to everyone, including those responsible for the state, because the Church was not a political party and “cooperation is therefore necessary”. On the issue of Church property, he noted that the Church’s spiritual mission could not be carried out without economic support. “The Church must be free and financially independent,” he said. With regard to refugees, Ieronymos said the Church sees them as “people in need” and that their final destination “should be their own country.” In the future, he added, we must consider whether “refugees have also become a part of the exploitation of humanity.”

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Dec 072016
 
 December 7, 2016  Posted by at 10:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Harris&Ewing Washington snow scenes 1924

Trump: US Must End ‘Destructive Cycle of Intervention and Chaos’ (VoA)
‘Chances Of Italy Staying In Euro For Next 5 Years Below 30%’ (Ind.)
Italian Interior Minister Sees New Elections In February (R.)
‘A Landscape of Exhaustion and Moral Decay’ (G.)
Is Janet Yellen Trying To Screw Donald Trump? (Miller)
Trump’s Air Force One Tweet Was A Brilliant Move (CNBC)
The Equation That Explains It All (Mark St.Cyr)
China Admits “Economic Downturn Just Beginning” (ZH)
China’s Big Savers Are Racking Up More Debt (BBG)
Australia’s Economy Shrinks 0.5%, Most in Eight Years (BBG)
John Key Was Known As The Smiling Assassin. And People Still Liked Him (G.)
Europe’s Still Dithering Over Greece (BBG)
Christmas Spirit Lacking In Greek Bailout Wrangles (R.)
Polar Bear Numbers To Plunge A Third As Sea Ice Melts (AFP)

 

 

If he pulls this off, it’s the biggest thing that’s happened in the US for many decades.

Trump: US Must End ‘Destructive Cycle of Intervention and Chaos’ (VoA)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump returned Tuesday to his vision of a non-interventionist foreign policy for the United States, saying as he did during his campaign, that he does not want to have American forces fighting “in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting in.” Speaking during a “thank you” rally for his supporters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Trump said instead his focus will be on defeating terrorists, including the Islamic State group. “We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with,” Trump said. He said the U.S. must end what he called a “destructive cycle of intervention and chaos.” Trump pledged to build up the military, but said the purpose would be to project strength, not aggression. After questioning frequently during his campaign whether NATO and other allies were pulling their weight Trump said Tuesday he wants to strengthen “old friendships” and seek new ones.

At the same rally, Trump formally announced he has chosen retired Marine General James Mattis as his nominee for secretary of defense. “Under his leadership, such an important position, we will rebuild our military and alliances, destroy terrorists, face our enemies head on and make America safe again,” Trump said. Michael O’Hanlon, a senior defense expert at the Brookings Institution, called Mattis “one of the best read, best informed and most experienced generals of his generation.” Mattis has served as the head of U.S. Central Command, which carries out U.S. operations in the Middle East, and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces. The retired general will need a congressional waiver in order to be confirmed as secretary of defense. Mattis would otherwise be ineligible to serve because of a law that requires a seven-year wait for former members of the military to serve in the post. He has been retired for less than four years.

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Bold.

‘Chances Of Italy Staying In Euro For Next 5 Years Below 30%’ (Ind.)

The political turmoil set off by the Italian referendum result could endanger the euro, a German business group has warned. Ulrich Grillo, the head of the Federation of German Industries, said that the German industry is worried about the consequences of the referendum, which prompted Premier Minister Matteo Renzi to announce his resignation on Monday. “The risks of a new political instability for economic development, the financial markets and the currency union are increasing further,” he said. Douglas McWilliams from the Centre for Economics and Business Researcg (CEBR), a leading economics consultancy, said it estimated the chances of Italy staying in the Euro for the next five years had fallen below 30% following the vote.

“There is no doubt that Italy could stay in the euro if it were prepared to pay the price of virtually zero growth and depressed consumer spending for another five years or so. But that is asking a lot of an increasingly impatient electorate. We think the chances of their sustaining this policy are below 30%,” he said. German’s foreign minister also expressed concerns about the result, which prompted Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to resign. Speaking during a visit to Greece, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that while the result of the Italian referendum on constitutional reform was “not the end of the world,” it was also “not a positive development in the case of the general crisis in Europe.”

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After the laws are changed?

Italian Interior Minister Sees New Elections In February (R.)

Italy could have an election as early as February, a minister in Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s outgoing government said on Tuesday, speaking after talking to Renzi. The comments will add to growing support for a quick vote as the only way to avoid protracted political limbo in Italy following Sunday’s “No” vote on Renzi’s constitutional reforms. Renzi announced he would step down after his heavy defeat. President Sergio Mattarella told him to stay on until parliament had approved the 2017 budget, expected later this week. Then, the president said, Renzi could tender his resignation. Before the referendum, most commentators, and financial markets, assumed that even if Renzi lost and resigned, a temporary unelected government would be installed to tide Italy over until the end of parliament’s term in 2018.

But a chorus of comments from party chiefs suggests consensus may be growing for an early vote in spring. “I forecast there will be the will to go to elections in February,” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, the head of a small centre-right party that is a crucial part of Renzi’s ruling coalition, told Corriere della Sera daily on Tuesday. Significantly, Alfano said he made his forecast after discussing the issue with Renzi. Renzi is still leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which has the largest number of parliamentarians, so it is unlikely any new government could be formed without his backing.

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The 1860s that Mark Carney referred to. Well, or today.

‘A Landscape of Exhaustion and Moral Decay’ (G.)

When Mark Carney insisted in a speech at Liverpool John Moores University that the conditions through which we are now living are “exactly the same” as those that British citizens endured during the “lost decade” of the 1860s, he was taking a bit of rhetorical licence. The past is never simply the present dressed up in funny clothes, and the analogy between today’s painful realities and those of 150 years ago doesn’t quite hold. And yet, the governor of the Bank of England had a point. When Overend Gurney collapsed in 1866, it undid once and for all the sense that, give or take a few individual misfortunes, capitalism was a moral force that rewarded skill and hard work. Toppling under a mountain of unsecured debt, the joint stock bank dragged down 200 businesses and a broad tranche of private investors with it, from courtiers to grocers.

As with the Northern Rock crisis in 2007, there were queues of panicky investors lining the streets. More profoundly, now came a dawning realisation that bad things could happen to good people. Thanks to the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, the universe increasingly seemed not only godless but, what was perhaps even worse, indifferent to the sufferings of ordinary folk. The shock of 1866 was doubly hard because, for the previous 15 years, Britain had been sailing on a sea of prosperity and confidence. In 1851, the Great Exhibition had showcased the nation’s position as “the workshop of the world”, the great exporter of industrial goods and technological know-how to the four corners of the globe. Business was thriving, the social discontent of the “hungry” 1840s had receded, and this was, to use the coinage of the historian WL Burn, the “age of equipoise”, a serene and sunny upland of prosperity and social cohesion.

Increasingly, though, there were worrying signs that Britain could not hold on to its trading pre-eminence for much longer. Germany and the United States were playing industrial catch-up, and would soon be making everything from saucepans to spanners more cheaply and better than we ever could. What’s more, with global transport systems stretching further as each year passed, Britain’s grain, and even its dairy and meat produce, would soon be supplied from as far away as Australia and Canada. Domestic farming was about to go into a decline from which, some historians suggest, it has never recovered.

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Stockman at the head of the Fed would be diffferent…

Is Janet Yellen Trying To Screw Donald Trump? (Miller)

[..] But will Yellen’s gambit plunge us into a recession is the question. Just because Wall Street is gorging on high returns doesn’t mean the economy is sound. For eight years and running, the Fed has kept interest rates near zero% in an attempt to spark investment and borrowing. Unemployment has gradually shrunk during the Obama years, yet the workforce participation rate remains low by modern standards. Prior to Election Day, two-thirds of Americans were anxious about their economic future. Stock traders are popping the bubbly while middle America drinks the warm beer of worry. If you’re still in the dark as to why Trump stole the Rust Belt from Hillary, you need not look further than that. Fear aside, Trump’s election has been an Advil to the ongoing economic headache felt by most Americans.

Eight years of Obama’s big spending combined with ultra low interest rates has done precious little to shore up their optimism. Retirees on fixed income can’t get a yield on their savings. Millennials earning a salary for the first time in their life have little incentive to put money away. So you might think: Hey, maybe Yellen’s hinting about raising interest rates is a good thing! Sure, it might cause the S&P 500 to dip. But it’s about time Grandma got a return on her CDs. I’m very skeptical. Interest rates most definitely need to rise, but Yellen’s timing is suspicious. Trump, despite his admiration for low borrowing rates (and debt refinancing), has accused Yellen of keeping the lid on interest rates in order to boost Obama’s legacy. He told CNBC in September that rates were “staying at zero because [Yellen’s] obviously political and she’s doing what Obama wants her to do.” In another interview with Reuters, Trump explained with perfect Trumpian simplicity, “They’re keeping rates down because they don’t want everything else to go down.”

Yellen wasn’t happy about the charges. She fired back at a press conference, saying, “We do not discuss politics at our meetings, and we do not take politics into account in our decisions.” Uh huh. And I’m the Archbishop of Canterbury. [..] What the Fed, serving as America’s central bank, does is balance the money supply to reflect market conditions. When the market is roaring, it’s time to cut off the money spigot so as to rein in inflation. When things are sluggish, pouring cash into the economy is supposed to gin up activity. There are all kinds of ins and outs and what-have-yous involved in the process, including convoluted accounting techniques. But long mythologized story short, the tinkers at the Fed are supposed to act on behalf of the economy, and not the elected shysters in Washington. Every macro-econ student learns that faux civics lesson the first week of class.

[..] A few choices off the top of my head: finance writer and all-around mensch Jim Grant, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget David Stockman, commodity guru Jim Rogers, or former congressional representative and arch-Fed-critic Ron Paul.

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Brilliant is a big word, but the use of Twitter is interesting.

Trump’s Air Force One Tweet Was A Brilliant Move (CNBC)

Another day, another provocative tweet from President-elect Donald Trump. This time, he went after Boeing and the cost of the new Air Force One replacement program. But while the target was different, the goal of Trump’s twitter use remains the same: It’s his negotiating tool and, just as importantly, an instant link to public support that no president has ever been able to use before. But why this tweet and comments and why now? As few people knew before now, the Air Force is actually currently in negotiations with Boeing on the final costs of the two new Air Force One jets it hopes to buy and have in service by 2024. The source of Trump’s $4 billion cost figure in his tweet is not so clear, but the last publicly reported estimate was at $3 billion with costs still rising.

Sure, there are a lot of spending programs that cost more that Trump could target. But are there many more that are as easy for all the voters to understand? Air Force One is an iconic jet that we all know exists and almost everyone can picture quickly in their minds. Our social media/short attention span media culture makes this issue absolutely perfect for Trump to single out on Twitter. And it looks like it may have already worked. About two hours after the tweet, Boeing delivered the following statement: “We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serves the unique requirements of the President of the United States. We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer.”

Yes, that “at the best value” phrase at the end of the statement says it all. Who knows exactly how much the Trump tweet just saved the American taxpayers? But considering that it cost him and us nothing for him to send it, even a few hundred grand looks like a big net windfall. And that’s not the only reason why the use of Twitter remains crucial to Trump. Every President of the United States has had the option to use public opinion to promote his agenda, but none before Trump has had an established and instantaneous link with his supporters like he has with Twitter. In the past, the best a president could do was go on national TV and make a long speech. That’s tortuous compared to the quick bang Trump gets by tweeting directly to his 16 million-plus followers and the tens of millions more who instantly hear about his tweets from the news media.

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“..we need more financial chaos (A) To make even more all time “market” highs (C)..”

The Equation That Explains It All (Mark St.Cyr)

If you were just woken from some form of suspended animation from let’s say 2010 (ancient economic history in today’s terms) then informed of the current state of global political affairs and upheavals, U.S. employment (95+million not,) global currency gyrations, interest rates at not only 0% but some -0%, threats of escalating wars, threats of major confrontational war, GDP of the major global economies not only contracting, but below statistical stagnant, governments, as well as central banks with balance sheets of debt calculated in $TRILLIONS, some in the 10’s of, all financed at near or below 0%, and the Fed is only about a week away from raising rates into the teeth of what can only be called “uncertainty,” and much, much more. (There isn’t enough time, or digital ink to list them all.)

Nobody would be surprised if your first reaction based on your prior acumen (the ancient history of 7 years ago whether it be in stocks, business, or both) would to become immediately concerned that whatever portfolio, or wealth you may have had in the markets, may be worth far less today than when you were first put to sleep. And probably becoming ever smaller as you thought about what you might need to do next in order to preserve any that may be left. That is, till someone explained to you the markets you went to sleep knowing of – are no longer – and the reality of the markets today you could never have dreamed up. Even if they let you sleep another decade or longer. Today, the markets you once knew of are better described as the “markets.”

To clear up any confusion as to how, or why, the “markets” can now be at “never before seen in the history of mankind highs” once again after the resounding “NO” vote in Italy, where the entire E.U. experiment is now seriously undermined, and falling apart in real-time (Brexit first, Italy will surely now vote next, etc., etc,) [here] is the calculation that explains it all. For under the rules of: If A = B and B = C, then A = C, you now have the magical formula to understand with Einstein like surety today’s ‘markets.” If you have any doubt to the soundness of this expression, consider the following: If a financial crisis appears (A) The central banks will intervene (B) If the central banks intervene (B) The “markets” go up (C) Thus, we need more financial chaos (A) To make even more all time “market” highs (C)

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“..the decrease reflects Chinese economic downturn, which is just now beginning and will last a long time since China has passed its economic boom period in which many problems were hidden..”

China Admits “Economic Downturn Just Beginning” (ZH)

In what may be the most direct admission that China’s economy is about to grind to a deflationary halt, today China’s Global Times, a newspaper which is seen as a propaganda companion to the official People’s Daily, revealed data showing this year’s proposed salary guidelines according to which there is a broad wage growth declines in virtually every single province on the mainland, which according to the Chinese publication “confirms the country is experiencing an economic slowdown.” Salary guidelines are issued by local governments as a reference to help firms decide how much they should increase their employees’ salaries. They are based on labor market conditions and economic growth, among other factors.

Global Times notes that compared to 2015 salary guidelines, wages in 2016 have grown at a slower rate in virtually all 19 provinces and regions that have so far published their annual guidelines for firms. Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province has not released salary guidelines for years as the region has been experiencing a recession and therefore wages are not generally increasing. Seventeen provinces have seen a decrease in salary standards, including North China’s Hebei Province, South China’s Hainan Province, Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and East China’s Jiangxi Province. The only increases were seen in Southwest China’s Guizhou Province and Beijing Municipality.

“2016’s guidelines have seen a slowing of salary growth after years of increases, which means that the speed of wage growth has surpassed economic growth since China’s labor contract law was adopted in 2007,” Wang Jiangsong, a professor at the China Institute of Industrial Relations, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Confirming that the only way for Chinese wage growth is down, Wang Jiangsong, a professor at the China Institute of Industrial Relations, told the Global Times that “since China’s labor contract law was adopted in 2007, wage increases have surpassed economic growth.” He said the slowdown reflects China’s economic downturn. It also means that local workers will not be happy.

But more troubling was Wang’s next admission: “the decrease reflects Chinese economic downturn, which is just now beginning and will last a long time since China has passed its economic boom period in which many problems were hidden but now those problems will gradually surface.” In short, declining wage growth, with aggregate 2016 demand driven by the biggest credit impulse and expansion in Chinese history. To all those who truly believe in the global reflation these, we wish you the best of luck.

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The shadow banking system gets bigger, not smaller. That should worry Xi to no end.

China’s Big Savers Are Racking Up More Debt (BBG)

China’s savers, who sock away cash like almost no one else in the world, are racking up more debt as borrowing options proliferate. 94% of consumers used a credit or loan in the past year, up from 85% two years ago, according to a survey by market researcher Mintel Group. Peer-to-peer lending via online lenders jumped, while car loans and mortgages nearly doubled, the poll showed. “Huo zai dang xia”, or living in the moment, is the new buzzword. It’s especially prevalent among consumers in their 20s, according to Aaron Guo, a senior analyst for Mintel in Shanghai. “Compared with their parents’ generation, who tend to save more and are sometimes thrifty, youngsters are willing to spend more on products with special features or tailored services,” he said.

That’s a profound shift in attitudes for a nation where saving has long been the bedrock principle of personal financial management and a prerequisite for big milestones like cars, homes and kids. Deposits stand at 59.6 trillion yuan ($8.67 trillion), People’s Bank of China data show. The newfound willingness to borrow from the future to enjoy the present could help support consumption in coming years and nudge the nation’s rebalancing away from old traditional drivers. China’s GDP rose 6.7% in the third quarter from a year earlier on the back of resilient retail sales, which expanded 10.3% in the year to date. The borrowing could be just getting started. China’s household outstanding loans will continue to rise at a rate of 14% for the following five years and exceed 60 trillion yuan by 2021, the Mintel report said.

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Presented as a one-off.

Australia’s Economy Shrinks 0.5%, Most in Eight Years (BBG)

While Australia’s economy shrunk last quarter, it’s probably more of a red flag than a precursor to recession. One of only four quarterly contractions in the past 25 years, the so-called ‘lucky country’ is unlikely to suffer a second consecutive slump — just as in those prior periods. But it’s a wake-up call for lawmakers that recent political timidity and gridlock is unsustainable, as is reliance on monetary policy to support growth with a 1.5% interest rate that may not even fall further. A growing chorus of high-profile economists and international institutions are calling on Australia to follow U.K. and U.S. plans to use infrastructure stimulus, particularly with global borrowing costs so low. But the government has made clear its priority is returning the budget to balance as it seeks to protect a prized AAA credit rating.

Wednesday’s report showed:
• GDP fell 0.5% from previous quarter, when it gained a revised 0.6%
• Decline was driven by slump in construction and government spending
• Result was worst since depths of global financial crisis at the end of 2008 and well below economists’ estimates of a 0.1% drop
• The economy grew 1.8% from a year earlier, compared with a forecast 2.2% gain
• Australian dollar fell almost half a U.S. cent on the data

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Nice put-down of a wanker of a man.“He pulled ponytails instead of grabbing pussies.” Does New Zealand have any competent people in politics?

John Key Was Known As The Smiling Assassin. And People Still Liked Him (G.)

John Key’s legacy will not be defined by great policy achievements; it’s his success as the model of a neoliberal leader – a poster boy for trickle-down economics – that he will be remembered for. Key presided over increasing and gross social inequality with all the glibness of the banker who was known as the “smiling assassin” in his Merrill Lynch days. And people still liked him. In this regard, Key was like a Tony Blair of the South Seas: a certain level of personal charisma and a socially inclusive façade allowed both Key and Blair to sell the nasty side of neoliberalism. Compared with the likes of Donald Trump in the United States and Tony Abbott in Australia, Key was socially moderate in ways that many thought – and hoped – Malcolm Turnbull would have been before he capitulated to the far right of his party on refugees, marriage equality and climate change.

Key was more inclusive, and less divisive. He pulled ponytails instead of grabbing pussies. Key supported marriage equality in New Zealand and, as far as race is concerned, Key’s National party entered into a coalition government with the Maori party not once, but twice. Like Blair, Key had the Teflon gene. Despite ignoring public preferences not to privatise state-owned enterprises (2-1 against in a referendum), increasing the GST during the global financial crisis, and more or less ignoring New Zealand’s chronic child poverty because he blames the victims, none of it stuck. What did stick with Key was his reputation as a smart-money guy who was also likeable, self-effacing and wouldn’t look out of place having a beer with regular folks. Never mind the hundreds of thousands of children living under the poverty line in New Zealand – a country of 4 million – and him brushing off the recommendations of the government panel charged with improving their lot; Key was seen as a good guy and a safe pair of hands.

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It’s time for the international press, including Bloomberg, to stop dithering around the topic and tell Brussels to stop this disgrace.

Europe’s Still Dithering Over Greece (BBG)

This week, the European Union’s finance ministers granted some new debt relief to Greece. The new “short-term” measures are better than nothing – but they’re less than a convincing solution to a problem that has dragged on far too long. The deal, sketched out and agreed to in principle earlier this year, should help the Greek government convince voters to keep accepting much-needed domestic reform. That’s good. It isn’t enough, though, to put the country’s debts and budget plans on a sustainable footing. That’s why the International Monetary Fund, whose support will be necessary to achieve that larger goal, isn’t yet on board. After years of muddling through, the issue still isn’t resolved. In the approach to the latest talks, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin acknowledged that “Greece has made huge efforts. This is the first Greek government in a long time that has implemented its commitments.”

He said it was vital that Europe respond by recognizing its obligation to help ease the country’s debt burden, both as a reward and to encourage further improvements in the business climate. All true. Greece can’t be accused of doing nothing to help itself. The banking system has stabilized after three bouts of recapitalization, and deposits are returning, albeit slowly. The economy is growing modestly. The country posted a primary budget surplus for the first 10 months of this year. State asset sales are proceeding slowly but surely. These efforts justify extending the repayment schedule and swapping some floating-rate debt to fixed payments at the current low rates, as announced. But the expected reduction in Greece’s debts relative to its economic output by 20 percentage points through 2060 is far too timid – while the idea that Greece can achieve an annual primary budget surplus of 3.5% of output throughout the coming decade is a fantasy.

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This is why we are raising funds for Greece (see top of this page). So the poor can have a little bit better Christmas. And a little better prospect for the new year. To counter the devastation unleashed by the EU.

Christmas Spirit Lacking In Greek Bailout Wrangles (R.)

Greece thanked creditors for modest debt relief on St. Nicholas Day in Brussels but did not hide disappointment it won’t get the Christmas gift it wants – a pass on the latest phase of its bailout programme. Athens has been hoping fellow euro zone governments will approve a second review of its third bailout, granted in August last year, before year’s end. A government spokesman said on Tuesday it did not yet rule that out. But others, not least German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, made clear that is highly unlikely after a Eurogroup meeting on Monday that revealed differences over how well Greece has done in meeting reform commitments. That left Greece and its allies among its EU partners annoyed at stalemate.

Athens wants to clear the review in order to be able to take advantage of selling bonds to the ECB’s quantitative easing scheme. “We could have got this done by the end of the year but the Germans are not moving,” one EU source said. “Greece has done a lot … We haven’t been so strict in other programmes.” A senior EU official involved in Monday’s talks described them as “useless” in terms of furthering agreement, according to another EU source. Ministers were at odds too on budget targets to set Greece after the bailout regime ends in 2018 – conditions important in persuading the IMF to join in lending. [..] The Eurogroup did agree to a series of short-term adjustments to the structure of Greek debt that will smooth out humps in repayments and should reduce its costs in the long run.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos called that a “significant success”. But he said Athens still wanted Schaeuble and the IMF to scale back demands for more belt-tightening. “They must stop insisting on continuing a policy of extreme austerity which has been proven destructive for society and also economically ineffective,” he said. Schaeuble made clear he will not be swayed by pleas to forgo economic reforms which, he insisted, were for Greece’s own good.

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Note the effects of chemicals on populations.

Polar Bear Numbers To Plunge A Third As Sea Ice Melts (AFP)

Polar bear numbers could drop a third by mid-century, according to the first systematic assessment, released on Wednesday, of how dwindling Arctic sea ice affects the world’s largest bear. There is a 70% chance that the global polar bear population – estimated at 26,000 – will decline by more than 30% over the next 35 years, a period corresponding to three generations, the study found. Other assessments have reached similar conclusions, notably a recent review by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which tracks endangered species on its Red List. The IUCN classified the sea-faring polar bear – a.k.a. Ursus maritimus – as “vulnerable”, or at high risk of extinction in the wild.

But the new study, published in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters, is the most comprehensive to date, combining 35 years of satellite data on Arctic sea ice with all known shifts in 19 distinct polar bears groupings scattered across four ecological zones in the Arctic. [..] Researchers led by Eric Regehr of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska projected three population scenarios out to mid-century, and all of them were bad news for the snow-white carnivores. The first assumed a proportional decline in sea ice and polar bears. Despite year-to-year fluctuations, long-term trends are unmistakable: the ten lowest Arctic ice extents over the satellite record have all occurred since 2007.

The record low of 3.41 million square kilometres (1.32 million square miles) in 2012 was 44% below the 1981-2010 average. This week, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that sea ice extent in October and November was the lowest ever registered for both months. [..] Unfortunately, polar bears face other threats besides a habitat radically altered by the release of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. In the 1980s and 1990s, females and pups were found to have accumulated high levels of toxic PCPs in their tissue and organs. The manmade chemicals – used for decades and banned in many countries in the late 1970s – worked their way up through the food chain, becoming more concentrated along the way.

But a new study, published last week in the Royal Society’s Proceedings B, suggested that declines in some polar bear populations stemmed from contaminated males rendered sterile by the chemicals. “PCB concentrations in the Arctic have levelled off,” said lead author Viola Pavlova, a scientist at the Institute of Hydrobiology in the Czech Republic. “Unfortunately, many other manmade chemicals that are also endocrine disruptors occur in the Arctic and could act similarly,” she told AFP.

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Dec 042016
 
 December 4, 2016  Posted by at 9:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Wyland Stanley “J.A. Herzog Pontiac, 17th & Valencia Sts., San Francisco.” 1936

Trump’s Unhappy Fate: A Financial Crisis Far Worse Than The Last (Rickards)
Trump’s Appointments (Paul Craig Roberts)
Petition To Reverse US Election Result Becomes Most Popular In History (Ind.)
Jill Stein Supporters Drop Pennsylvania Recount Suit (WSJ)
Jill Stein To Pursue Pennsylvania Recount Petition In Federal Court (R.)
Brent Caps Biggest Weekly Advance Since 2009 on OPEC Agreement (BBG)
Steve Keen, Michael Hudson Unpick Historical Path to Global Recovery (MH)
The Italian Trouble for Greek Debt (BBG)
Will 2017 See End Of US Neocons’ Promotion Of Chaos Theory? (RT)
Late Is Enough: On Thomas Friedman’s New Book (Matt Taibbi)

 

 

As I said on election day in America is The Poisoned Chalice.

Trump’s Unhappy Fate: A Financial Crisis Far Worse Than The Last (Rickards)

As earthquake doesn’t care if you’re progressive or populist. It destroys your house all the same. Likewise a financial crisis is indifferent to a politician’s policy mix. Systemic crises proceed according to their own dynamic based on the array of agents in a system, and systemic scale. The tempo of recent crises in 1994, 1998, and 2008 says a crisis is likely soon. A new global financial panic will be one legacy of the Trump administration. It won’t be Trump’s fault, merely his misfortune. The equilibrium and value-at-risk models used by banks will not foresee the new panic. Those models are junk science relying as they do on notions of efficient markets, normally distributed risk, continuous liquidity, and a future that resembles the past. None of those hypotheses match reality.

Advances in behavioural psychology have demolished the idea of efficient markets. Data shows the degree distribution of risk is a power curve not a normal bell curve. Liquidity evaporates when most needed. Prices gap down; they do not move continuously. Each of the 1994, 1998, and 2008 crises was worse than the one before, and required more drastic intervention. The future does not resemble the past; it keeps getting worse. The standard models are in ruins. Recent model improvements that take into account so-called tail risk still fail to come to grips with systemic scale. The most catastrophic event possible in a complex system is an exponential function of scale. In plain language, if you double system size, you do not double risk; you increase it by a factor of five or more.

Since 2008, the largest banks in the world are larger in terms of gross assets, share of total deposits, and notional value of derivatives. Everything that was too-big-to-fail in 2008 is bigger and exponentially more dangerous today. The living wills and resolution authority of Dodd-Frank are entrances to gated communities. They seem imposing, but are a façade. They will do nothing to stop an angry mob. Increases in regulatory capital will not suffice. When a leveraged financial institution faces a liquidity panic, no amount of capital is enough. As boxing legend Mike Tyson mused, no plan survives the first punch in the face.

[..] What snowflake could precipitate the next financial panic? Deutsche Bank is an obvious candidate. Less obvious is a failure to deliver physical gold by a London bullion bank. That would expose the hyper-leveraged “paper gold” market for what it is. A natural disaster on the scale of Fukushima would do as well. Looming over these catalysts is a global dollar shortage, which has been limned by economists Claudio Borio and Hyun Song Shin at the Bank for International Settlements. The strong dollar could precipitate a wave of defaults on $9 trillion of dollar-denominated emerging markets corporate debt. Those defaults would make the 1994 Tequila Crisis look tame.

The 2008 crisis was truncated with tens of trillions of dollars of currency swaps, money printing, and rate cuts coordinated by central banks around the world. The next crisis will be beyond the scope of central banks to contain because they have failed to normalise either interest rates or their balance sheets since 2008. Central banks will be unable to pull another rabbit out of the hat; they are out of rabbits.

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Trump vs special interests. Why jump to conclusions?

Trump’s Appointments (Paul Craig Roberts)

We do not know what the appointments mean except, as Trump discovered once he confronted the task of forming a government, that there is no one but insiders to appoint. For the most part that is correct. Outsiders are a poor match for insiders who tend to eat them alive. Ronald Reagan’s California crew were a poor match for George H.W. Bush’s insiders. The Reagan part of the government had a hell of a time delivering results that Reagan wanted. Another limit on a president’s ability to form a government is Senate confirmation of presidential appointees. Whereas Congress is in Republican hands, Congress remains in the hands of special interests who will protect their agendas from hostile potential appointees. Therefore, although Trump does not face partisan opposition from Congress, he faces the power of special interests that fund congressional political campaigns.

[..] With Trump under heavy attack prior to his inauguration, he cannot afford drawn out confirmation fights and defeats. Does Trump’s choice of Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary mean that Goldman Sachs will again be in charge of US economic policy? Possibly, but we do not know. We will have to wait and see. Mnuchin left Goldman Sachs 14 years ago. He has been making movies in Hollywood and started his own investment firm. Many people have worked for Goldman Sachs and the New York Banks who have become devastating critics of the banks. Read Nomi Prins’ books and visit Pam Martens website, Wall Street on Parade. My sometimes coauthor Dave Kranzler is a former Wall Streeter. Commentators are jumping to conclusions based on appointees past associations. Mnuchin was an early Trump supporter and chairman of Trump’s finance campaign.

He has Wall Street and investment experience. He should be an easy confirmation. For a president-elect under attack this is important. Will Mnuchin suppport Trump’s goal of bringing middle class jobs back to America? Is Trump himself sincere? We do not know. What we do know is that Trump attacked the fake “free trade” agreements that have stripped America of middle class jobs just as did Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot. We know that the Clintons made their fortune as agents of the 1%, the only ones who have profited from the offshoring of American jobs. Trump’s fortune is not based on jobs offshoring. Not every billionaire is an oligarch. Trump’s relation to the financial sector is one as a debtor. No doubt Trump and the banks have had unsatisfactory relationships. And Trump says he is a person who enjoys revenge.

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Not the Jill Stein petition. More the Soros one.

Petition To Reverse US Election Result Becomes Most Popular In History (Ind.)

A petition asking for the result of the US election to be reversed is now the most popular in the history of Change.org. The signatories – who total 4.6 million people – call on the Electoral College to stop Donald Trump from being President, which is a theoretically possible but never-before-attempted way of altering the result of the US election. Hillary Clinton won millions more votes than Donald Trump, but Mr Trump became President-elect because of the voting system. The petition is titled “Make Hillary Clinton President” and argues that because Ms Clinton won the popular vote she should be made President. It also argues that the President-elect is “unfit to serve”. With 4.6 million signatures, the petition has over two million more votes than the second largest campaign on the website. That was a campaign asking for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival to be shut down, which was begun three years ago.

The petition against Mr Trump was begun just after the election on 10 November. It was started by social worker Daniel Brezenoff. Signatures to the petition are based on the idea that it is still possible for the result of the election to be reversed. The Electoral College system requires that representatives of each state cast ballots to decide who will actually become the new President – those members of the college are supposed to vote for whoever won their state, but could theoretically change their mind. “On December 19, the Electors of the Electoral College will cast their ballots,” the petition writes. “If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. However, in 14 of the states in Trump’s column, they can vote for Hillary Clinton without any legal penalty if they choose.”

Since the petition has started, some legal proceedings have been launched to test the legal penalty in those other states. There has never really been any need to enforce them, since faithless electors make up only a tiny number of people, but activists are looking to encourage more people not to vote this year. The petition itself argues that the Electoral College should change its mind because of the results of the popular vote. “Hillary won the popular vote,” the description reads. “The only reason Trump “won” is because of the Electoral College.

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But wait, there’s more…

Jill Stein Supporters Drop Pennsylvania Recount Suit (WSJ)

Supporters of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on Saturday withdrew a last-ditch lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court aimed at forcing a statewide ballot recount, another major setback in the effort to verify the votes in three states that provided President-elect Donald Trump his margin of victory. Ms. Stein’s campaign announced in a statement Saturday that the Pennsylvania lawsuit had been dropped after the court demanded that a $1 million bond be posted by the 100 Pennsylvania residents who brought the suit, which was backed by the campaign. Recounts will still proceed in a handful of Pennsylvania precincts, but it is far from the statewide recount that Ms. Stein initially was hoping for.

She is also pushing recounts in Wisconsin and Michigan after a prominent computer scientist laid out a case that the election results may have been hacked. Legal challenges have also been filed in state and federal court to halt those recount efforts as well. The decision also dashes the aspirations of some Democrats, who had hoped that enough irregularities or missing votes would be found across all three states to overturn the election results that saw Mr. Trump, the Republican candidate, prevail over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton would need to declared the winner in all three states to reverse the election results.

“The judge’s outrageous demand that voters pay such an exorbitant figure is a shameful, unacceptable barrier to democratic participation,” said Ms. Stein in the statement. “This is yet another sign that Pennsylvania’s antiquated election law is stacked against voters. By demanding a $1 million bond from voters yesterday, the court made clear it has no interest in giving a fair hearing to these voters’ legitimate concerns over the accuracy, security and fairness of an election tainted by suspicion.”

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…. straight to federal court.

Jill Stein To Pursue Pennsylvania Recount Petition In Federal Court (R.)

Green Party candidate Jill Stein late Saturday vowed to bring her fight for a recount of votes cast in Pennsylvania in the U.S. presidential election to federal court, after a state judge ordered her campaign to post a $1 million bond. “The Stein campaign will continue to fight for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania,” Jonathan Abady, lead counsel to Stein’s recount efforts, said in a statement. Saying it has become clear that “the state court system is so ill-equipped to address this problem,” the statement said “we must seek federal court intervention.” The Stein campaign said it will file for emergency relief in the Pennsylvania effort in federal court on Monday, “demanding a statewide recount on constitutional grounds.”

The bond was set by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania a day after representatives of President-elect Donald Trump requested a $10 million bond, according to court papers. The court gave the petitioners until 5 p.m. local time on Monday to post the bond, but said it could modify the amount if shown good cause. Instead, Stein’s campaign withdrew. “Petitioners are regular citizens of ordinary means. They cannot afford to post the $1,000,000 bond required by the court,” wrote attorney Lawrence Otter, informing the court of the decision to withdraw.

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“The last time OPEC set a quota, members exceeded it for 20 of the 24 months before the cap was scrapped..”

Brent Caps Biggest Weekly Advance Since 2009 on OPEC Agreement (BBG)

Brent oil capped its biggest weekly gain since 2009 after OPEC approved its first supply cut in eight years, with attention now shifting to compliance with the deal and how other producers will react to a price rally. Futures closed at the highest in more than a year in London and New York. OPEC’s three largest producers – Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran – overcame discord to reach Wednesday’s pact to reduce the group’s output by 1.2 million barrels a day, while Russia pledged a cut of as much as 300,000. The accord ended the group’s pump-at-will policy started in 2014 aimed at protecting market share and driving out high-cost competitors such as shale. “Everyone wins, but U.S. shale producers are the big winners from the OPEC deal,” Francisco Blanch at Bank of America said.

“The agreement made sense purely on economic logic. OPEC wanted to end the price war.” OPEC set a collective output target at the lower end of the range outlined two months ago in Algiers, boosting prices and prompting predictions of a possible advance to $60 a barrel from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Some analysts warned that the rally may encourage higher output from producers outside the group, including in the U.S. The last time OPEC set a quota, members exceeded it for 20 of the 24 months before the cap was scrapped at the end of 2015.

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Two of the finest in a long conversation. Here’s a tiny snippet of Hudson talking.

Steve Keen, Michael Hudson Unpick Historical Path to Global Recovery (MH)

Killing the Host will be published in German at the end of the month of November, and, basically, it’s a more popular version of The Bubble and Beyond. And it shows that when the financial sector takes over, it’s very much like a parasite in nature. And people think of parasites simply as taking the life blood of the host and draining the energy. But in order to do that, the parasite has to have an enzyme to take over the host’s brain. And the key thing in nature is they take over the brain, and they convince the host that the free luncher is actually part of the host’s own body, and even its baby to be protected. And that’s what the financial sector has done.

Classical economics was all about separating the rent-extracting sectors – landlords, monopolies, and finance – from the rest of the economy. And that was unearned income. It wasn’t necessary. And the whole idea of classical economics from Quesnay’s Tableau Economique to all the way through Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill was to look at the finance sector and the landlord sector and monopolies as unnecessary. You’re going to get rid of them. You’re going to tax away all the land’s rent or else nationalize the land. And you are going to have public enterprises as basic infrastructure so that they couldn’t be monopolized. Well, you had a revolution against classical economics in the 1890s and 1900s, and the national income now – accounts make it appear as if the financial sector and the real estate sector and the monopolies – oil and gas – are all contributing to GDP.

So a few months ago, you had the head of Goldman Sachs – Lloyd Blankfein – say, the Goldman Sachs managers are the most productive workers in the United States, because we make $22 million a year in salary, and we get bonuses. And that’s all considered as contributing to GDP. That’s the financial services that we’re providing $22 million per manager of financial services. Now what they don’t realize is that this $22 million per manager in that Goldman Sachs extracts money from the rest of the economy. It’s a zero-sum game. And instead of adding to the GDP, you should have – A subtraction. Yes, you should have – all of this is overhead – unnecessary. And since 2008, the 99% of the population in America, and I think in most of Europe, too, have seen their incomes go down. But the 1% have had their financial and real estate incomes go up so much more that there is an illusion of growth. And what’s been growing is the tumor, not the actual economic body.

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Italian debt is a threat to the entire eurozone, not just Greece.

The Italian Trouble for Greek Debt (BBG)

If the fallout for Sunday’s Italian referendum is bad for Italian bonds, it could well be worse for one of Europe’s star performers this year: Greece.Greek debt has tightened massively to German bonds in the past three months, while all other main European government securities have been widening. Growing confidence in Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s willingness to conform to the Troika requirements on the latest bailout package, is behind this.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow would be inclusion into the ECB’s bond purchase program – Greece has long been excluded since it’s not rated investment grade. A shift in the rules would be a reward for budget discipline.This has looked until recently like a long shot, but a tectonic shift in attitude is underway. A recent piece of evidence for this is a remark from ECB policy maker Benoit Couere on Tuesday. He said that Greece can maintain a 3.5% primary budget surplus to GDP for years after the current bailout ends in 2018 – that is a major vote of confidence. Such recent Greek outperformance could easily unwind on a “no” vote on Italian constitutional reform. As Gadfly has argued, that could create serious problems not just for Italy, the world’s third-largest debtor, but also for other borrowers in the region.

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It’s all the US have done for decades.

Will 2017 See End Of US Neocons’ Promotion Of Chaos Theory? (RT)

Trump will hopefully be an assertive defender of US interests rather than an assertive meddler, says Oxford Crisis Research Institute Director Mark Almond.

RT: What obstacles remain preventing the UN from sending aid to Aleppo? Mark Almond: Obviously, there is still an area controlled by the rebels where there is fighting, and the rebels have not always been terribly concerned about discriminating between their enemies and aid workers. But it is quite bizarre that now, as you actually have people, tens of thousands of people, who are finally accessible, that the UN agencies are not actually rushing to help. Because, after all, these are people who are in need, and the weather is very bad in addition to all the suffering caused by the violence.

But I think we have to, I’m afraid, accept the fact that the UN is not composed of people from outside the normal world of politics – after all, the head of its aid agency is a former British conservative MP, [UN Special Envoy for Syria’s Senior Adviser] Jan Egeland is a Norwegian political activist who has been for a long time very critical of Russia. So, we are talking of people who do have a political past, even if they are now presented as being somehow the representatives of global charity or global concern. But I am afraid they are politicians.

RT: Do you think the standoff in Aleppo will continue for much longer? Despite major gains by the Syrian Army, the rebels are reportedly refusing to surrender. Mark Almond: I think the remaining rebel forces are in a very difficult position, so unless something changes through some external intervention which would widen the wall and would be a very dangerous development. And I don’t see the US, either doing it itself or, for that matter, encouraging any of its friends to do it, like Turkey or Saudi Arabia, neither of which, I think, really has the stomach for such a fight. So, the likelihood is that the horrible conflict in Aleppo itself is grinding towards a conclusion. And that may also mean that in 2017 we can look towards trying to repair the international situation around Syria.

The new president of the US has said that he is much more prepared to offer realpolitik rather than an ideologically driven agenda to produce regime change [that], if necessary, [says]… “if we can’t have regime change, at least we can have chaos and, perhaps, out of that chaos, something good will come.” I think we’ve seen, really, over the last 25 years, from the chaos we helped produce in Afghanistan through to Syria today, that the chaos theory that the neocons in Washington have promoted has actually bitten back. We’ve seen terrorist attacks in Western Europe, we’ve seen [them] in the US. I think Trump recognizes that even though he is going to be a very assertive defender of American interests, he is not going to be an assertive meddler. And that does offer some hope.

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Friedman’s easy fodder.

Late Is Enough: On Thomas Friedman’s New Book (Matt Taibbi)

“The folksiness will irk some critics … But criticizing Friedman for humanizing and boiling down big topics is like complaining that Mick Jagger used sex to sell songs: It is what he does well.” –John Micklethwait, review of Thank You for Being Late, in The New York Times With apologies to Mr. Micklethwait, the hands that typed these lines implying Thomas Friedman is a Mick Jagger of letters should be chopped off and mailed to the singer’s doorstep in penance. Mick Jagger could excite the world in one note, while Thomas Friedman needs 461 pages to say, “Shit happens.” Joan of Arc and Charles Manson had more in common. Thomas Friedman was once a man of great influence. His columns were must-reads for every senator and congressperson.

He helped spread the globalization gospel and push us into war in Iraq. But he’s destined now to be more famous as a literary figure. No modern writer has been lampooned more. Hundreds if not thousands of man-hours have been spent teaching robots to produce automated Friedman-prose, in what collectively is a half-vicious, half-loving tribute to a man who raised bad writing to the level of an art form. We will remember Friedman for interviewing 76% of the world’s taxi drivers, for predicting “the next six months will be critical” on 14 occasions over two and a half years (birthing the neologism, “the Friedman unit”), and for his unmatched, God-given ability to write nonsensical metaphors, like his classic “rule of holes”: “When you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

Friedman’s great anti-gift is his ability to use many words when only a few are necessary. He became famous as a newspaper columnist for taking simple one-sentence observations like, “Wow, everyone has a cell phone these days,” and blowing them out into furious 850-word trash-fires of mismatched imagery and circular argument. The double-axel version of this feat was to then rewrite that same column over and over again, in the same newspaper, only piling on more incongruous imagery and skewing rhetoric to further stoke that one thought into an even higher and angrier fire.

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Apr 032016
 
 April 3, 2016  Posted by at 9:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Jack Delano “Untitled” 1940

Trump Predicts A ‘Very Massive Recession’ (WaPo)
IMF Plots New “Credit Event” For Greece (Mason)
Greece Wants IMF Explanations Over Wikileaks Report (AFP)
IMF Weighing Exit From Greek Bailout (FT)
Lenders Eye Start Of Greek Debt Relief Talks At Mid-April IMF Meetings (R.)
As China Turns to Consumers, Australia Confronts End of Iron Age (BBG)
China’s Zeal For Steel Casts Long Shadows At Home And Abroad (G.)
The Dogmas Destroying UK Steel Also Inhibit Future Economic Growth (G.)
Russian Oil Output Rises to Record as Production Freeze in Doubt (BBG)
Cheap Oil ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ For US Economy: Goldman (CNBC)
Fears Grow Over Refugee Safety With EU Returns Plan Set To Take Effect (Ind.)
EU-Turkey Refugee Plan Could Be Illegal, Says UN Official (G.)
Greece On Brink Of Chaos As Refugees Riot Over Forced Return To Turkey (G.)
129 Unaccompanied Children Missing Since Calais Camp Demolition (Ind.)

“..it’s a terrible time right now” to invest in the stock market..”

Trump Predicts A ‘Very Massive Recession’ (WaPo)

Donald Trump said in an interview that economic conditions are so perilous that the country is headed for a “very massive recession” and that “it’s a terrible time right now” to invest in the stock market, embracing a distinctly gloomy view of the economy that counters mainstream economic forecasts. The New York billionaire dismissed concern that his comments – which are exceedingly unusual, if not unprecedented, for a major party front-runner – could potentially affect financial markets. “I know the Wall Street people probably better than anybody knows them,” said Trump, who has misfired on such predictions in the past. “I don’t need them.”

Trump’s go-it-alone instincts were a consistent refrain – “I’m the Lone Ranger,” he said at one point – during a 96-minute interview Thursday in which he talked candidly about his aggressive style of campaigning and offered new details about what he would do as president. The real estate mogul, top aides and his son Don Jr. gathered over lunch at a makeshift conference table set amid construction debris at Trump’s soon-to-be-finished hotel five blocks from the White House. Just before, he had met there with his foreign-policy advisers and just after he visited officials at the Republican National Committee – signs that, in spite of his Trump-knows-best manner, the political novice is making efforts to build a more well-rounded bid.

Over the course of the discussion, the candidate made clear that he would govern in the same nontraditional way that he has campaigned, tossing aside decades of American policy and custom in favor of a new, Trumpian approach to the world. In his first 100 days, Trump said, he would cut taxes, “renegotiate trade deals and renegotiate military deals,” including altering the U.S. role in NATO. He insisted that he would be able to get rid of the nation’s more than $19 trillion national debt “over a period of eight years.” Most economists would consider this impossible because it could require taking more than $2 trillion a year out of the annual $4 trillion budget to pay off holders of the debt.

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Creating crisis.

IMF Plots New “Credit Event” For Greece (Mason)

The IMF has been caught, red handed, plotting to stage a “credit event” that forces Greece to the edge of bankruptcy, using the pretext of the Brexit referendum. No, this is not the plot of the next Bond movie. It is the transcript of a teleconference between the IMF’s chief negotiator, Poul Thomsen and Delia Velculescu, head of the IMF mission to Greece. Released by Wikileaks, the discussion took place in Athens just before the IMF walked out of talks aimed at giving Greece the green light for the next stage of its bailout. The situation is: the IMF does not believe the numbers being used by both Greece and Europe to do the next stage of the deal.

It does not want to take part in the bailout. Meanwhile the EU cannot do the deal without the IMF because the German parliament won’t allow it. As they bicker about the numbers, Thomsen and Velculescu are heard mulling whether to suppress the IMF’s next report on whether Greek debt is sustainable. That’s important because the IMF will only sign up to a deal that involves debt relief, and the Germans will not.

Then Thomsen drops the bombshell:
THOMSEN: What is going to bring it all to a decision point? In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when they were about to run out of money seriously and to default. Right?
VELCULESCU: Right!
THOMSEN: And possibly this is what is going to happen again. In that case, it drags on until July, and clearly the Europeans are not going to have any discussions for a month before the Brexits and so, at some stage they will want to take a break and then they want to start again after the European referendum.
Velculescu says they should try and do something in April. Thomsen replies:
THOMSEN: But that is not an event. That is not going to cause them to… That discussion can go on for a long time. And they are just leading them down the road… why are they leading them down the road? Because they are not close to the event, whatever it is.
VELCULESCU: I agree that we need an event, but I don’t know what that will be.

So let me decode. An “event” is a financial crisis bringing Greece close to default. Just like last year, when the banks closed, millions of people faced economic and psychological catastrophe. Only this time, the IMF wants to inflict that catastrophe on a nation holding tens of thousands of refugees and tasked with one of the most complex and legally dubious international border policing missions in modern history. The Greek government is furious: “we are not going to let the IMF play with fire,” a source told me. But the issue is out of Greek hands. In the end, as Thomsen hints in the transcript, only the European Commission and above all the German government can decide to honour the terms of the deal it did to bail Greece out last July. The transcript, though received with fury and incredulity in Greece, will drop like a bombshell into the Commission and the ECB. It is they who are holding €300bn+ of Greek debt. It is the whole of Europe, in other words, that the IMF is conspiring to hit with the shock doctrine.

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But won’t get any.

Greece Wants IMF Explanations Over Wikileaks Report (AFP)

Greece on Saturday demanded “explanations” from the IMF after Wikileaks said the lender sought a crisis “event” to push the indebted nation into concluding talks over its reforms. IMF officials, in an internal discussion, allegedly voiced exasperation with Greece on its slow pace of reform, complaining Athens only moved decisively when faced with the peril of default, the website said. An “event” was thus needed to drive the threat of default and get the Greeks to act, one official purportedly says. The “event” is not described in the transcript placed on the Wikileaks website on Saturday. The official, assessing the state of the talks and the political calendar, predicts the EU will stop discussions “for a month” before Britain’s EU referendum on June 23.

The Greek government reacted strongly to the report, saying it wanted the IMF to clarify its position. “The Greek government is demanding explanations from the IMF over whether seeking to create default conditions in Greece, shortly ahead of the referendum in Britain, is the fund’s official position,” spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said in a statement. The transcript purports to be that of a teleconference that took place on March 19. Those taking part were Iva Petrova and Delia Velculescu, who have been representing the IMF in the negotiations with Greece, and Poul Thomsen, director of the Fund’s European Department.

In it, Thomsen allegedly voices exasperation with the slow pace of talks on Greek reforms between Greece and its international lenders. “In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when (the Greeks) were about to run out of money seriously and to default,” he reportedly says. “I agree that we need an event, but I don’t know what that will be,” Velculescu allegedly replies later in the conversation.

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Hubris.

IMF Weighing Exit From Greek Bailout (FT)

The IMF is considering forcing Germany’s leadership to quickly grant wide-ranging debt relief for Greece or allow the Fund to exit Athens’ bailout programme after six years, according to a transcript of an internal IMF teleconference published by WikiLeaks. The teleconference, between the head of the IMF’s European operations and its top Greek bailout monitor, is the clearest sign to date that the Fund wants to leave Greece’s €86 billion ($97 billion) rescue to the European Union alone and wash its hands of a programme that has led to a torrent of criticism. During the call, which occurred just two weeks ago, Poul Thomsen, head of the IMF’s European bureau, notes that Berlin is under intense political pressure because of the refugee crisis and suggests confronting Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to either agree to debt relief or allow the IMF to exit.

German officials have repeatedly said they could not participate in Greece’s bailout without the IMF on board, and senior members of the Bundestag have warned Ms Merkel they would reject new eurozone loans to Greece if only EU authorities were monitoring the programme. “Look, you Ms Merkel, you face a question, you have to think about what is more costly: to go ahead without the IMF? Would the Bundestag say, ‘The IMF is not on board’?” the transcript quotes Mr Thomsen as saying to his staff. “Or [does Ms Merkel] pick the debt relief that we think that Greece needs in order to keep us on board? Right? That is really the issue.” The IMF said it would not comment on “supposed reports of internal discussions.” But it noted that it has long pushed for “a credible set of reforms matched by debt relief from [Greece’s] European partners.”

One official involved in the talks said it accurately reflected Mr Thomsen’s private and publicly-stated views, albeit in “more direct and colourful language.” Many of the points raised by Mr Thomsen in the call have been made publicly on his IMF blog. Greek officials, however, reacted angrily to the revelation, arguing it was evidence the IMF was “blackmailing” Germany on the debt relief issue. “We will not allow anyone to play with fire and blackmail Greece or Germany or Europe,” said a senior Greek official. Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, was meeting with his cabinet on Saturday to decide how to respond and was expected to talk to Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, later in the day.The IMF teleconference came just days after Wolfgang Schäuble, the powerful German finance minister, publicly said he was opposed to Greek debt relief — despite the fact eurozone leaders agreed to restructuring last July at a high-drama EU summit that agreed to a third bailout programme.

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Yada yada.

Lenders Eye Start Of Greek Debt Relief Talks At Mid-April IMF Meetings (R.)

Euro zone finance ministers are likely to start discussing debt relief for Greece on the sidelines of the IMF’s spring meetings in mid-April, if there is a deal by then with Athens on a reform package, euro zone officials said. Representatives of Greece’s official lenders are to resume talks with the Greek government from Monday on how to tackle non-performing loans in the banking system and pension and income tax reforms. Negotiations on these reforms have been dragging on for months because they are politically very difficult for the left-wing government of Alexis Tsipras, elected on promises to end austerity. Yet these measures are crucial for Greece to reach a sizeable primary surplus in 2018, when lenders hope it will be able to manage its own finances and borrow from the market at sustainable rates.

Without an agreement on the measures, Athens cannot get the next tranche of loans from the euro zone bailout fund. It needs the money to pay back $4 billion to the IMF and the ECB in July. An agreement is also a crucial condition for any debt relief talks to start and a deal on debt relief is also a condition for the IMF to participate in the bailout program for Greece. “If the Greeks want to …have a disbursement well before July, there needs to be agreement on policies by around mid-April – and on 12 April everybody goes to Washington, so best before that,” one senior euro zone official said.

“Only then can one start discussing debt issues in earnest, and that will take some time. And then at the end everything has to come together simultaneously,” the official said. “For now everybody is working towards this – but the decisive factor is if the Greeks can pull their act together politically, there is no technically difficult issue anywhere,” the official said. Many euro zone finance ministers will participate in the spring meetings of the IMF in Washington on April 15-17, including all the biggest euro zone members, as well as top representatives of all the key euro zone institutions.

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Down for the count.

As China Turns to Consumers, Australia Confronts End of Iron Age (BBG)

Just as China’s industrialization helped reshape Australia’s economy, the Asian giant’s pivot toward consumer-led growth is challenging Down Under anew. Chinese demand for food and energy will only partly offset slowing growth in iron ore exports that funneled cash throughout Australia for more than a decade, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. That means the nation must find new growth drivers at a time a housing boom falters and a resurgent currency compound difficulties posed by the slowdown in Australia’s biggest trading partner. Central bank Governor Glenn Stevens acknowledged last week it’s impossible to know how China’s transition will unfold given nothing on the scale has been tried before, signaling elevated risks ahead for the developed world’s most China-dependent economy.

Minutes from its March 1 board meeting – where interest rates were kept at a record low 2% – showed a bigger chunk of policy makers’ time was spent discussing China. “The Australian economy at the moment is being buoyed by the confidence that comes from extraordinarily low interest rates driving up asset prices,” said Andrew Charlton, director of consultancy AlphaBeta in Sydney and one-time adviser to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The subsequent housing boom and wealth creation “have been temporary policy stimulus holding up what will be a long-term negative impact of the changing Chinese economy on Australia.” The stakes are high for Australia, with China accounting for about a third of its trade and earning the mineral-rich country about 5% of its GDP.

Furthermore, resources will still comprise a larger share of Australia’s commodity exports to China than food in the coming two decades, the RBA’s chief China specialist Ivan Roberts said in a research paper released March 18. The pressures aren’t restricted to Asia. China’s steel production could be materially cut by a European Union move to consider tougher steel-import tariffs amid concern that Chinese producers pose a threat to their continental counterparts, Fitch Ratings warned on March 24. That would inevitably flow onto Australia’s iron ore industry, where prices have already slumped about 75% in the last five years. While iron ore rebounded 23% in the first quarter to as high as $63.74, McKinsey & Co. predicts the steel making ingredient will snap back to between $45 and $50 this year as evidence of any real improvement in demand is scant.

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Trade war is inevitable.

China’s Zeal For Steel Casts Long Shadows At Home And Abroad (G.)

Until recently steel was a Chinese success story. Its steel industry kicked off in 1894 with a small victory against its historic rival, Japan, after the opening of the Hangyang Iron Works in Hubei province. Though it opened two years before Japan’s first steel plant, the factory was privatised in 1908 and was eventually bought by the Japanese. The first world war stimulated demand, and after a postwar decline in production, further Chinese steel plants saw the industry take off. When Mao Zedong took power in 1949 and the People’s Republic of China was established, self-sufficiency rather than global industry domination was the driving force in a diplomatically isolated country. Steel production expanded through the 1950s as Soviet-influenced heavy industrialisation kicked in.

Annual output was 158,000 tonnes when Mao took over; by 1976, the year before his death and the final year of the decade-long Cultural Revolution, it was 20.5 million tonnes. But in the 1980s, China imported more and more steel as it struggled to meet domestic demand. As the country’s economic clout grew, the government set a target of increasing crude steel production to 60 million tonnes by the end of 1990 and 80 million by 1995. Early signs of the recent, disastrous, overproduction were apparent as these targets were surpassed. In 1996, China overtook Japan to become the world’s biggest steel producer, churning out more than 101 million tonnes that year. The 2008 global recession failed to put the brakes on. While much of the developed world was mired in crisis, China boasted a 9% GDP growth rate in 2009.

Steel production was still rocketing, with output of 683 million tonnes in 2011. After 2014, China’s economic growth slowed, and so did domestic demand. China responded by increasing steel exports, which led to accusations of dumping. In 2015 exports increased by 20% to 107 million tonnes. Prices were slashed as Chinese steel companies battled to survive. The dumping cast a shadow over the UK steel industry, and has also meant shutdowns and layoffs at Chinese plants. Last month, before it became clear that 40,000 jobs were at risk in the UK, the Chinese government announced that 500,000 steel workers were to lose their jobs. All this is the result of China’s first annual steel industry contraction in a quarter of a century, announced last January. The government is aiming to cut steel production by 150 million tonnes by 2020.

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Ayn Rand.

The Dogmas Destroying UK Steel Also Inhibit Future Economic Growth (G.)

The elimination of Britain’s steel industry in a matter of weeks – the reality of Tata’s statement that it wants to close its UK operations – is, by any standards, shocking. There will be efforts to save something from the ruins, but the financial and trading truths are brutal. This has not happened, however, in a day, or even over the past few years. Rather the plight of British steel making is the culmination of 40 years of refusal to organise economic, financial and industrial policy to support the generation of value. This is done in the laissez-faire belief – contested even in economic theory – that any such attempt is self-defeating. Business secretary Sajid Javid personifies this view. In fact, he is surely the most ideologically driven and least practical politician to hold this key post since the war. The most generous interpretation is that this is creative destruction at work.

Steel was an integral element of an industrial economy now giving way to a new knowledge-based capitalism where know-how is more important than brawn. It is tragic for those whose livelihoods and skills are now redundant, but it was no less tragic for ostlers, sailmakers and coal miners in their day. The trouble is that Britain is very good at destruction, much less good at the creative part. Nor is it clear that steel’s days are over: its usage in a range of key functions – from transport to construction – remains fundamental and is growing. Rather, the economic behemoth China has monumentally over-invested in steel, for which there is too little domestic demand, and is now flooding world markets. Britain, with a systemically overvalued exchange rate, porous market, high energy costs and ideological refusal to join others in the EU to deter imports dumped below cost with higher tariffs, is uniquely exposed to the threat.

Now up to 40,000 workers directly and indirectly connected to steel production are about to lose their livelihoods. Beneath the specifics of the steel industry lie more deep-seated problems. The day after Tata’s announcement, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) disclosed that the country’s balance of payments deficit in the last quarter of 2015 climbed to a record 7% of GDP. Britain’s international accounts are more in the red than those of any other developed country. Imports of goods and services, which have steadily outstripped exports for decades, are now to be given an extra impetus by the closure of UK steel capacity. What’s more, the same weaknesses that plague the old also inhibit the growth of the new.

After the interventionism of the 1930s – or even the 1950s and 1960s – Britain could boast dozens of substantial companies representing industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, aerospace and electronics. Not so in 2016. Only two high-tech companies are represented in the FTSE 100 – ARM and Sage. Another 20 years of the laissez-faire framework Javid cherishes – he is a devotee of the wild philosopher of hyper-libertarianism Ayn Rand – and the economy will be eviscerated, with a current account deficit so large it cannot be conventionally financed. The consequences – on living standards, employment, inflation, interest rates and house prices – will be severe.

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Not in doubt, but non-existent.

Russian Oil Output Rises to Record as Production Freeze in Doubt (BBG)

Russia’s oil output set a post-Soviet high in March as the success of a proposed crude production freeze between OPEC members and other major producers appeared to be in doubt. Russian production of crude and a light oil called condensate climbed 2.1% in March from a year earlier to 10.912 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. That narrowly beat the previous high of 10.910 million barrels in January. With most OPEC members, Russia and some others outside the group scheduled to meet in Doha this month to discuss an accord on capping output, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman signaled in an interview with Bloomberg that if any country raises output, the kingdom will also boost sales.

Prices on Friday sank more than 4% after the comments. Iran previously said it plans to boost production after the lifting of sanctions following a deal to curb its nuclear program. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar in February first proposed an accord to cap oil output to reduce a worldwide surplus and boost prices. Brent prices in London have gained nearly 40% from the 12-year low reached in January. Russian oil exports rose 10% to 5.59 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Ministry data.

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It was always blind to presume otherwise.

Cheap Oil ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ For US Economy: Goldman (CNBC)

The U.S.’s embarrassment of oil riches may not have been that beneficial after all. Those are the findings of a recent Goldman Sachs report, in which the bank explained that the net effects of cheaper crude on growth have been “negative so far,” given the impact on oil producers who are now finding it hard to churn out more black gold while maintaining needed levels of capital expenditures. Although Goldman acknowledged a lift to consumer spending, the summary constituted an admission that the virtues of the boom that sent U.S. oil production skyrocketing, leaving world markets awash in inexpensive crude, may not have delivered the economic boost many observers had anticipated at its outset.

“While cheap oil has … become ‘too much of a good thing’ for growth, the employment impact of lower oil prices is likely still positive, reflecting the modest effect on employment of the capital-intensive energy sector,” Goldman wrote. Last year, the U.S. produced nearly 10 million barrels per day — the largest amount in decades and second only to Saudi Arabia. As a consequence of the massive buildup of supply that flooded world markets, oil prices slumped by more than half, placing intense pressure on domestic energy producers. In the research note released on Saturday, Goldman estimated that the level at which U.S. producers would need to breakeven is somewhere within a range of $45 to $80. On Friday, crude closed below $40 per barrel. Given current levels of crude, the crumbling of capital expenditures is a net drag on economic growth, Goldman notes.

It added that oil would need to climb back to $70 at least to give energy capital spending a second wind. “Adding up, we conclude that the net effect of cheap oil on growth has probably been negative so far, with the capex collapse outweighing the consumption boost,” analysts wrote. “But going forward, the net effect is likely to be neutral at worst under our $30 scenario, but would be moderately positive if oil prices rebound to $50 or $70, reflecting the outsized impact of price changes in this crucial range on energy capex and production,” it added. With that as a backdrop, energy companies are feeling the pinch of lower crude prices. Last year, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s warned that 50% of energy company bonds were now considered “distressed” and were at risk of default. In total, S&P estimates that $180 billion worth of debt falls in that category. Meanwhile, at least 50 different oil and gas companies have filed for bankruptcy since last year.

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The deal will throw back Europe by decades in the eyes of the world.

Fears Grow Over Refugee Safety With EU Returns Plan Set To Take Effect (Ind.)

Fears are growing that Greece will be unable to manage the task of sending back refugees to Turkey under the European Union’s controversial migrant transfer deal which is due to be enforced from Monday. Humanitarian aid groups have warned that the deal will be impossible for overwhelmed Greek and EU officials to implement. While a top UN official has said that the deal to send Syrian refugees back to Turkey en masse could be illegal, as Ankara is pushing them back over the border into the war zone. “Collective deportations without having regard to the individual rights of those who claim to be refugees are illegal,” Peter Sutherland, the UN Secretary General’s special representative for international migration and development told the BBC.

“Secondly, their rights have to be absolutely protected where they are deported to, in other words Turkey. There has to be adequate assurances they can’t be sent back from Turkey to Syria.” There has also been opposition to the move from within both Greece and Turkey. In the coastal Turkish town of Dikili, hundreds demonstrated on Saturday against the prospect of hosting people expelled from the nearby Greek islands, especially Chios and Lesbos. A plan to build a reception centre for returned migrants and refugees in Dikili is unpopular with locals. “We definitely don’t want a refugee camp in Dikili,” said the town’s mayor, Mustafa Tosun, according to the Associated Press. Demonstrators expressed concern over the impact the EU deal could have on the economy, tourism and security in their town.

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It’s illegal on many fronts.

EU-Turkey Refugee Plan Could Be Illegal, Says UN Official (G.)

The European Union’s plan to send refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war back to Turkey en masse could be illegal, a top UN official has warned, amid concerns that Greece lacks the infrastructure needed for the deal to take effect on Monday. Peter Sutherland, the UN secretary general’s special representative for international migration and development, said that deporting migrants and refugees without first considering their asylum applications would break international law. And, in light of claims by an NGO that Turkey had been pushing Syrians back over the border to their home country, he warned that none could be deported from Europe without guarantees that their rights would be protected. Sutherland spoke as Greece prepares to begin deporting migrants and refugees on Monday. Greek immigration officials have already warned they need more staff to implement the plan.

Asked during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether Europe’s scheme could be illegal, Sutherland replied: “Absolutely, and there are two fundamental reasons for this. “First of all, collective deportations without having regard to the individual rights of those who claim to be refugees are illegal. Now, we don’t know what is going to happen next week, but if there is any question of collective deportations without individuals being given the right to claim asylum that is illegal. “Secondly, their rights have to be absolutely protected where they are deported to, in other words Turkey. There has to be adequate assurances they can’t be sent back from Turkey to Syria, for example if they are Syrian refugees, or Afghanistan or wherever.”

European and Turkish leaders are set to implement a deal on Monday that will result in almost all asylum seekers being deported back to Turkey. In exchange for each person sent back, the EU has agreed to accept a refugee who has not tried to enter Europe illegally. But the success of the deal rests on both Greece’s ability to process thousands of people in a short space of time, and Turkey’s ability to prove itself a safe country for refugees. In theory, only those refugees who fail to claim asylum in Greece – usually because they are seeking to settle elsewhere in the EU – or whose claims are rejected will be deported. However, the most senior Greek asylum official, Maria Stavropoulou, on Friday told the Guardian she would need a 20-fold increase in personnel to handle expected claims.

However, unrest has already erupted among refugees and migrants in Greece who are anticipating the beginning of the deal. On the Greek island of Chios, hundreds of people ripped down a razor wire fence that had kept them imprisoned in a camp and fled. One told the BBC: “Deportation is a big mistake because we have risked a lot to come here especially during our crossing from Turkey to Greece. We were smuggled here from Turkey. We cannot go back. “We will repeat our trip again and again if need be because we are running away in order to save our lives.” Meanwhile, Amnesty International alleged that unaccompanied children were among hundreds of Syrians illegally expelled from Turkey since January. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe and central Asia director, said: “In their desperation to seal their borders, EU leaders have wilfully ignored the simplest of facts: Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and is getting less safe by the day.”

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This will not go well.

Greece On Brink Of Chaos As Refugees Riot Over Forced Return To Turkey (G.)

The Greek government is bracing itself for violence ahead of the European Union implementing a landmark deal that, from Monday, will see Syrian refugees and migrants being deported back to Turkey en masse. Rioting and rebellion by thousands of entrapped refugees across Greece has triggered mounting fears in Athens over the practicality of enforcing an agreement already marred by growing concerns over its legality. Islands have become flashpoints, with as many as 800 people breaking out of a detention centre on Chios on Friday. “We are expecting violence. People in despair tend to be violent,” the leftist-led government’s migration spokesman, Giorgos Kyritsis, told the Observer. “The whole philosophy of the deal is to deter human trafficking [into Europe] from the Turkish coast, but it is going to be difficult and we are trying to use a soft approach. These are people have fled war. They are not criminals.”

Barely 24 hours ahead of the pact coming into force, it emerged that Frontex, the EU border agency, had not dispatched the appropriate personnel to oversee the operation. Eight Frontex boats will transport men, women and children, who are detained on Greek islands and have been selected for deportation, back across the Aegean following fast-track asylum hearings. But of the 2,300 officials the EU has promised to send Greece only 200 have so far arrived, Kyritsis admitted. “We are still waiting for the legal experts and translators they said they would send,” he added. “Even Frontex personnel haven’t got here yet.” Humanitarian aid also earmarked for Greece had similarly been held up, with the result that the bankrupt country was managing the crisis – and continued refugee flows – on very limited funds from the state budget.

On Saturday overstretched resources were evident in the chaos on Chios where detainees, fearing imminent deportation, had not only run amok, breaking through razorwire enclosing a holding centre on the island, but in despair had marched on the town’s port. In the stampede three refugees were stabbed as riot police tried to control the crowds with stun guns and teargas. The camp, a former recycling factory, had been ransacked, with cabins and even fingerprint equipment smashed. “This is what happens when you have 30 policemen guarding 1,600 refugees determined to get out,” said Benjamin Julian, an Icelandic volunteer speaking from the island. “I witnessed it all and I know that all the time they were chanting ‘freedom, freedom, freedom’ and ‘no Torkia, no Torkia’. That is what they want and are determined to get.”

In the mayhem that had ensued, panic-stricken local authorities had been forced to divert the daily ferry connecting the island with the mainland for fear it would be stormed. Similar outbreaks of violence had also occurred in Piraeus, Athens’ port city, where eight young men had been taken to hospital after riots erupted between rival ethnic groups on Wednesday. With tensions on the rise in Lesbos, the Aegean island that has borne the brunt of the flows, and in Idomeni on the Greek-Macedonia frontier where around 11,000 have massed since the border’s closure, NGOs warned of a timebomb in the making. Hopes of numbers decreasing following the announcement of the EU-Turkey deal have been dispelled by a renewed surge in arrivals with the onset of spring.

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But who cares?

129 Unaccompanied Children Missing Since Calais Camp Demolition (Ind.)

More than a hundred unaccompanied children have gone missing since the southern section of the Calais “Jungle” was demolished last month. According to a census by Help Refugees UK, 129 unaccompanied minors from the camp have gone unaccounted for. The census found that since the demolition took place in March, 4,946 refugees are still living there, including 1,400 in the shipping containers set up by the French government. The refugee charity said it was “very concerned” at the findings. It wrote in a Facebook post: “This is simply not acceptable. We call on the French authorities to put systems in place immediately to register and safeguard the remaining 294 lone children in the camp.”

“No alternative accommodation was provided for unaccompanied minors during the evictions, no assessment was made by the French authorities of their needs and no systems put in place to monitor them or provide safeguarding. There is no official registration system for children in place In Calais or Dunkirk.” Help Refugees UK added it had shared this information with the UK children’s commissioner Anne Longfield and her French counterpart Genevieve Avenard. According to the EU police agency Europol, more than 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees have disappeared in Europe in the last two years. Aid workers are concerned at the deteriorating safety conditions and told The Independent teenage boys are being raped in the camp.

Libby Freeman, founder of grassroots campaign Calais Action, told The Independent the findings were “shocking”. Ms Freeman said: “Nobody knows where these vulnerable children have ended up. “Since the closure [and relocation] of the Women’s and Children’s centre, they have been uprooted. With so many children missing, it’s difficult not to think the worst. It’s more than irresponsible. “And many of the minors have a legal right to join their family in the UK. The government should stop [delaying] the law.”

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Nov 142015
 
 November 14, 2015  Posted by at 10:11 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


Unknown Paris 1900

Calm Broken as US Stocks Post Worst Week Since August Selloff (Bloomberg)
Nomi Prins Warns: “It’s All Coming To An End” (KWN)
Albert Edwards: The Global Economy Will Be Thrown Into Chaos (ZH)
Ten Ex-Deutsche Bank, Barclays Traders Charged in Euribor Probe (Bloomberg)
3 Accused Euribor Rate Manipulators Members of ECB Crisis Focus Group (ZH)
Central Bankers Are Heroes: OECD’s Gurria (CNBC)
China’s Yuan Takes Leap Toward Joining IMF Currency Basket (Reuters)
VW Said to Seek as Much as €20 Billion in Bridge Funds (Bloomberg)
How GM’s Bailout Became China’s Bonanza (Bloomberg)
Portuguese Revolution Falls Far Short (Paul Craig Roberts)
EU Commissioner’s Dire Warning: “The Only Alternative To Europe Is War” (ZH)
Greece Says Turkey Turning Blind Eye To Refugee Smugglers (AFP)
Greece Warns EU To Hold Turkey To Account On Refugee Crisis (Kath.)
World’s Largest Ocean Cleanup Operation One Step Closer To Launch (Guardian)
Monstrous Wave Of Paris Attacks Underlines France’s Year Of Terror (RT)
Let Mercy For Refugees Be The Response To The Paris Attacks (Margaret Corvid)
The Annihilation Of Nature (Woods Inst.)

People still pretending there are functioning markets.

Calm Broken as US Stocks Post Worst Week Since August Selloff (Bloomberg)

You have to go back to August’s selloff to find a week as bad as this one for U.S. equities. Catalysts that drove the S&P 500’s 12% summer tumble, from interest rate dread to a commodities rout, surfaced again after being sidelined during October’s surge. Signs of slowing growth from China to Europe rekindled concern that weakness could spread to America as the Federal Reserve prepares to tighten monetary policy. While equities are nowhere near their August lows, the weekly slump raised concern that the S&P 500’s six-week rally went too far, too fast. Volatility jumped after an October lull, with a measure of price swings surging 40%.

Bank of America says shares are more likely to decline before New Year’s amid weak consumer earnings and the specter of higher borrowing costs. “For the next month and a half I think there may be more downside than upside risk to stocks,” Savita Subramanian at Bank of America said by phone. “The market is going to be more skittish about seeing the first Fed rate hike. We’re not going to get there without a little more volatility.” The S&P 500 Index fell 3.6% in the five days, sliding below its average price for the past 100 days for the first time in three weeks. The decline snapped a run of six weekly gains, the longest rally of the year that included an 8.3% surge in October.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index jumped above 20 for the first time since August, when it touched a four-year high. For Subramanian, who in October lowered her year-end target for the S&P 500 to 2,000 from 2,100, the list of worries is tallying up. Weak corporate earnings and the prospect for higher rates will keep a lid on gains through the remainder of the year, she said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Earnings are not coming in particularly great for sectors like consumer stocks, and on top of that you’ve got the Fed in December,” Subramanian, head of U.S. equity and quantitative strategy, said by phone. “Those all kind of conspire against near-term gains.”

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“And so that keeps the artificial game in play through the middle or fall of 2016..”

Nomi Prins Warns: “It’s All Coming To An End” (KWN)

Today Nomi Prins, the keynote speaker who recently addressed the Federal Reserve, IMF and the World Bank, warned King World News “It’s all coming to an end.” Eric King: “Nomi, we went through a round of terror in 2008, and certainly China just went through that again recently when their stock market crashed along with the emerging markets, but when does this whole global Ponzi scheme finally come unraveled?” Nomi Prins: “We are seeing small unravelings all the time. Brazil is doing badly, Mexico is struggling, currencies around the world relative to the dollar are hurting, which means relationships of imports to exports and money coming into those countries are hurting.

China has had problems but its central bank has been big enough and strong enough to boost it at least somewhat back up again. The United States is in complete denial in terms of what the economic indicators are said to be vs what they actually are and how the markets themselves are being continually buoyed either by the Federal Reserve or the Fed’s associations with some of the big banks in terms of continuing to buy Treasury bonds… “The ECB is still on a mission, and as of the November 12th announcement from Mario Draghi, an even stronger mission to continue to infuse those markets with artificial money and perhaps even enhance their quantitive easing program. So you ask, ‘When is this all coming to an end?’

It is all coming to an end, but you have all these actors trying to prop up different pieces of it (the global financial system) and so that’s why there is all this enhanced volatility and you have so many ups and downs (in global markets). (The end will come) when there are no more creative concepts on the part of these central banks to provide the artificial stimulus to the markets. And that could be the middle or the end of 2016, only because one big central bank in play has already committed to doing their part of it (with enhanced stimulus). And so that’s why we continue to have enhanced volatility to the downside in global markets that is also met with intervention, which is unprecedented. But it (the stimulus) does exist and we have to recognize that, as unprecedented and bizarre as it is, and there are indications that it will continue.

And so that keeps the artificial game in play through the middle or fall of 2016. But in the core of markets and economies things are not stable, which is why all of these (volatile) movements are happening. If anything was stable for real, the Federal Reserve would have raised rates years ago, the ECB wouldn’t have needed to come up with another round of quantitative easing, the People’s Bank of China wouldn’t need to reduce the reserve requirements to their financial institutions in order to give them more money to play with — none of that would be happening. So we are in a state of deterioration. The timing of an eventual implosion has to do with when the big banks have nothing left to counteract the artificial markets coming apart that they themselves have created.

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“The rotten fruit of the Fed’s seemingly innocuous inaction will now be clear to onlookers as it is ripped to shreds on the battlefield by the powerful credit monster.”

Albert Edwards: The Global Economy Will Be Thrown Into Chaos (ZH)

SocGen’s permarealist, Albert Edwards, has been the one person who for the past decade has firmly held the belief that a “deflationary Ice Age” is upon the world – courtesy of an unmanageable debt load – no matter what central banks do. There is, of course, one way to short circuit said Ice Age, and it involves paradropping money in an act of terminal fiat desperation (the outcome is always hyperinflation) onto the general population, something which as we reported last Friday is already in the works courtesy of first Adair Turner and the IMF, and soon all other “very serious people”.

Keep an eye on Japan as this is where said paradropping will be attempted first as Ben Bernanke suggested back in 2003 when he said to “consider for example a tax cut for households and businesses that is explicitly coupled with incremental Bank of Japan purchases of government debt – so that the tax cut is in effect financed by money creation.” But before we get there, here is a snapshot of where, according to Edwards, we are now and why “there” is getting very close. In his latest note he says, quite simply, that it is now too late to put the “Orc-like monster” of excess debt and declining cash flows back in the bottle, and why “the global economy will be thrown into chaos.”

The deeply held wish of central bankers not to de-rail the fragile economic recovery is on display for all to see as they grasp at the slightest excuse for their continued inaction. The UK’s central bank governor, Mark Carney, exceeded all dovish expectations recently in his latest rate flip-floppery. But what is this? The Fed has finally summoned up its courage and looks set to raise rates next month. It is, however, already too late. Having delayed way beyond the point when it might typically have raised rates in previous cycles, it has allowed an Orc-like monster to incubate, hatch and emerge into the sunlight, snarling and ready to do battle.

Free Fed money has led to an unprecedented corporate credit binge of excess spending, especially on share buybacks. This is even bigger than it was at the time of the 2000 technology and telecom bubble. The rotten fruit of the Fed’s seemingly innocuous inaction will now be clear to onlookers as it is ripped to shreds on the battlefield by the powerful credit monster. The global economy will be thrown into chaos.

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And each single one is named…

Ten Ex-Deutsche Bank, Barclays Traders Charged in Euribor Probe (Bloomberg)

U.K. prosecutors charged 10 former Deutsche Bank and Barclays employees with manipulating a benchmark interest rate, including high-profile trader Christian Bittar, with an 11th facing indictment as soon as next week. Six traders from Deutsche Bank employees and four from Barclays were charged with conspiracy to manipulate the Euribor benchmark, the Serious Fraud Office said in a statement Friday. Another trader listed anonymously in court documents may also be charged, according to three people familiar with the case. Alongside Bittar, those linked to Deutsche Bank are Andreas Hauschild, Joerg Vogt, Ardalan Gharagozlou, Achim Kraemer and Kai-Uwe Kappauf. Former Barclays employees Colin Bermingham, Carlo Palombo, Philippe Moryoussef and Sisse Bohart also face charges.

The SFO won the first conviction by trial tied to benchmark manipulation in August, when former UBS trader Tom Hayes was found guilty of rigging the London interbank offered rate and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Banks and other financial institutions have paid about $9 billion in fines tied to Libor and other key rates. One other person has pleaded guilty in the Libor probe. Lawyers for Bittar, Hauschild and Moryoussef said they will contest the allegations. Lawyers for the other eight either declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The nine men and one woman are scheduled to appear in a London magistrates court on Jan. 11.

Documents distributed in the case have listed an unidentified 11th trader that will be charged, according to people familiar with the matter who declined to be named because the prosecution isn’t public. The trader could be charged as soon as next week, one of the people said. Other than Bermingham, the 10 defendants named by the SFO all live outside Britain, according to an SFO spokeswoman. Bittar and Moryoussef live in Singapore, Bohart in Denmark and Palombo in the U.S. and Italy, while the remaining five are in Germany. All have been notified they face charges. No extradition requests have been made and all appearances will be voluntary at present, the SFO said.

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The riggers work for the ECB! Oh, what a tangled web.

3 Accused Euribor Rate Manipulators Members of ECB Crisis Focus Group (ZH)

[..] we find out that the ECB – the same ECB where policymakers like to meet with banks and asset managers before major policy meetings, actually had three of the traders accused of gaming Euribor by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office on Friday in a group that helped the the bank craft its response to the financial crisis! From Reuters:

The documents on the ECB website show that former Barclays euro money market desk head Colin Bermingham and Joerg Vogt and Ardalan Gharagozlou from Deutsche Bank – three of 10 people charged by the SFO on Friday – were part of the central bank’s Money Market Contact Group at the height of the crisis. The group regularly met and held conference calls as the central bank scrambled to stabilise markets that were threatening to push debt-strained Greece, Portugal, Ireland and even Italy and Spain out of the euro in 2010 and 2011.

Amusingly, the 10 people charged include Deutsche Bank’s Christian Bittar who can’t seem to get away from his title as rate rigger par excellence (although that’s not the term Anshu Jain used, that’s the spirit of a conversation the ex-Deutsche CEO once had about Bittar with a colleague back in the good ol’ days). Here’s Bloomberg:

U.K. prosecutors charged 10 former Deutsche Bank and Barclays employees with manipulating a benchmark interest rate, including high-profile trader Christian Bittar, with an 11th facing indictment as soon as next week. Six traders from Deutsche Bank employees and four from Barclays were charged with conspiracy to manipulate the Euribor benchmark, the Serious Fraud Office said in a statement Friday. Another trader listed anonymously in court documents may also be charged, according to three people familiar with the case. Alongside Bittar, those linked to Deutsche Bank are Andreas Hauschild, Joerg Vogt, Ardalan Gharagozlou, Achim Kraemer and Kai-Uwe Kappauf. Former Barclays employees Colin Bermingham, Carlo Palombo, Philippe Moryoussef and Sisse Bohart also face charges.

Ok, so the ECB was regularly communicating with three traders who are now charged with manipulating Euribor. Here’s what Francesco Papadia, head of market operations at the ECB during the financial and euro zone debt crises has to say about the group: “They helped understand what was going on beyond what you see on the screens.” If you follow financial markets and that doesn’t strike you as hilarious, then check your pulse. That is, we bet they did “help the ECB what was going on behind the screen”, after all, they were the ones colluding to fix the market! In any case, we’ll have to see what the time frames were here and if there was any overlap between when the allegations stem from and when this ECB committee operated (it’s probably a better bet that the manipulation took place before the euro debt crisis), but in any case, we’ll close with the following amusing quote for now: “The ECB plays no role in the setting of the Euribor rate,” the ECB said in a statement. Are you guys sure about that?…

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The lunatics and the asylum: “We’ve got to get all cylinders of the growth engine firing again. There is no room for complacency..”

Central Bankers Are Heroes: OECD’s Gurria (CNBC)

“Super” Mario Draghi’s nickname is very much justified, according to Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who has called on governments to do more to tackle the global growth slowdown. “Central bankers have been the heroes of this story since this financial and economic crisis hit in 2008, but the problem is they have run out of room. It’s time for the governments,” Gurria told CNBC Friday. The most influential central banks in the Western world, the U.S. Federal Reserve, European Central Bank (of which Draghi is president) and the Bank of England, have been running ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing programs for years in some cases, to try and handle the fallout from the credit crisis.

With the Fed likely to become the first to signal a return to more normal monetary policy by raising rates, potentially as early as December, Gurria gave the central bank his blessing – although he said it should have started sooner. On Monday, the OECD cut its forecast for global growth to around 2.9% this year – well below its long-term average – citing a further sharp downturn in emerging market economies and world trade. Gurria, who was speaking at the G-20 summit of the heads of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, said: “The issue is about getting growth and trade back. It’s very ominous that trade is growing at about 2% when the world economy is growing at 2.9%. There’s only five years in the last 50 at which trade has grown at a rate lower than the world GDP and there has always been a recession following that.” “We’ve got to get all cylinders of the growth engine firing again. There is no room for complacency,” he added.

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How much of Beijing’s control over its currency will this take away?

China’s Yuan Takes Leap Toward Joining IMF Currency Basket (Reuters)

China’s yuan moved closer to joining other top global currencies in the IMF’s benchmark foreign exchange basket on Friday after Fund staff and IMF chief Christine Lagarde gave the move the thumbs up. The recommendation paves the way for the Fund’s executive board, which has the final say, to place the yuan on a par with the U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, British pound and euro at a meeting scheduled for Nov. 30. Joining the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket would be a victory for Beijing, which has campaigned hard for the move, and could increase demand for the yuan among reserve managers as well as marking a symbolic coming of age for the world’s second-largest economy. Staff had found the yuan, also known as the renminbi (RMB), met the criteria of being “freely usable,” or widely used for international transactions and widely traded in major foreign exchange markets, Lagarde said.

“I support the staff’s findings,” she said in a statement immediately welcomed by China’s central bank, which said it hoped the international community would also back the yuan’s inclusion. Staff also gave the green light to Beijing’s efforts to address operational issues identified in a report in July, Lagarde said. The executive board, which represents the Fund’s 188 members, is seen as unlikely to go against a staff recommendation and countries including France and Britain have already pledged their support for the change. This would take effect in October 2016, during China’s leadership of the Group of 20 bloc of advanced and emerging economies. China has rolled out a flurry of reforms recently to liberalize its markets and also help the yuan meet the IMF’s checklist, including scrapping a ceiling on deposit rates, issuing three-month Treasury bills weekly and improving the transparency of Chinese data.

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Sales down 5.3%. Cash evaporating.

VW Said to Seek as Much as €20 Billion in Bridge Funds (Bloomberg)

Volkswagen is working with banks to put together as much as €20 billion in short-term bridge financing to show that the automaker has adequate liquidity to weather the emissions cheating crisis, two people familiar with the matter said. VW does not need the money currently and is seeking extra funds to create a financial cushion, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private talks. The automaker will begin meeting with about a dozen prospective banks on Monday at its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, to go over the proposed funding, which it aims to have in place before the end of the year, the people said.

“We have always considered that a well-diversified portfolio of funding tools gives us the necessary flexibility to offer appropriate and competitive financing options for our customers as well as our industrial investment needs,” Volkswagen said in an e-mailed statement. “It is perfectly normal that we are in a constructive ongoing dialog.” The scandal has spread since Volkswagen first admitted in September to cheating on diesel pollution tests. The carmaker will need to recall as many as 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide and admitted earlier this month that another 800,000 cars had unexplained inconsistencies in carbon dioxide output. By 2017, the price tag of VW’s emissions woes will probably reach about €25 billion, Barclays estimated on Friday.

“It makes perfect sense” to shore up financing, said Sascha Gommel at Commerzbank. “In order to protect their rating, they need to show that liquidity will never become an issue for them, because then you have a vicious circle. If the ratings agencies think you won’t have cash and they downgrade you, then your funding gets more expensive.” Volkswagen has the equivalent of €2.57 billion in bonds maturing this year, €14.3 billion next year and €13.5 billion in 2017. The company said earlier Friday it has put bond financing on hold because it needs time to update its documentation to reflect potential fines and penalties. Thus far, the automaker has set aside €6.7 billion to recall diesel cars and estimated the economic risk of the CO2 irregularities at another €2 billion.

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Bailed out by workers losing their jobs…

How GM’s Bailout Became China’s Bonanza (Bloomberg)

During the 2012 election, President Barack Obama held up his bailout of General Motors as a model in the fight against China’s growing manufacturing dominance, telling voters that the auto rescue would reverse the industry’s multi-decade trend of outsourcing. A single election cycle later, the question of government support for automakers has all but disappeared from the political discourse, yet Detroit is back to sending jobs out of the industrial Midwest. And now GM is leading the way on Chinese outsourcing, announcing it will become the first U.S. firm to import a vehicle made in China to the U.S. It’s about time taxpayers ask what their $50 billion rescue really bought them. Starting next year, GM will import between 30,000 and 40,000 Buick Envision crossovers annually from a plant in Shandong Province.

That won’t make the Envision one of GM’s best-selling models, but it will greatly outsell the only other Chinese-import car on the market, the Volvo S60L. More importantly, GM’s pioneering Chinese import will likely help break down the consumer stigma attached to Chinese cars, leading the way for other automakers to follow suit. If a bailed-out company can get away with selling Chinese cars in the U.S., there’s no doubt that the rest will try too. The Envision is just the tip of GM’s Chinese iceberg: though the firm has not announced further plans to import other vehicles from Asia, it is increasingly making China a hub for new vehicle development and global exports. The next generation of GM’s small- and medium-sized vehicles will be offered with a new engine and high-tech dual-clutch transmission co-developed with its Chinese partner, the Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation.

The two companies are also jointly creating an entire family of small vehicles to be exported from China to markets around the world. Taxpayers aren’t the only ones GM appears to be abandoning. The United Auto Workers is incensed by the Envision decision. As union vice president Cindy Estrada told the Detroit Free Press in August when the rumors of the plan surfaced, “after the sacrifices made by U.S. taxpayers and the U.S. workforce to make General Motors the profitable quality company it is today, UAW members are disappointed with the tone-deaf speculation that the Envision would be imported from China.” Yet given that the UAW has a new wage-raising contract nearing ratification, it can be argued that the union may have brought some of this disappointment upon itself.

But perhaps it is in Canada, where the government spent $10 billion rescuing G.M. and Chrysler, where anger is most justified. With GM’s “vitality commitment” – made to protect jobs in Canada as a condition of its bailout – expiring at the end of next year, the automaker has already decided to cut 1,000 jobs from its Oshawa, Ontario, plant when production of the Chevrolet Camaro ends there next week. GM has hinted that more outsourcing could follow. And as a new Liberal government is taking power in Ottawa, GM is pushing for “more amenable” subsidies than the $750 million in loans that had been offered by the outgoing Conservatives. If new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t bow to GM pressure – turning those loans into grants that it need not repay – the automaker may well pull even more jobs from a country that stood by it at its darkest hour.

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“..the right-wing Portuguese president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, a creature of Washington and the big banks..”

Portuguese Revolution Falls Far Short (Paul Craig Roberts)

The austerity imposed on the Portuguese people by the 1% has resulted in the election of a coalition government of socialists, communists, and a “left bloc.” In the 20th century, socialism and the fear of communism humanized Europe, but beginning with Margaret Thatcher the achievements of decades of social reforms have been rolled back throughout Europe as bought-and-paid for governments have given all preference to the One%. Public assets are being privatized, and social pensions and services are being reduced in order to make interest payments to private banks. When the recent Portuguese vote gave a majority to the anti-austerity bloc, the right-wing Portuguese president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, a creature of Washington and the big banks, announced that the leftwing would not be permitted to form a government, just as the senior British general announced that a Labour Government formed by Jeremy Corbyn would not be permitted to form.

True to her word, Anibal reappointed the austerity prime minister, Passos Coelho. However, the unity of the socialists with the communists and the left bloc swept Coelho from office and the president had to recognize a new government. The new government means that for the first in a long time there is a government in Portugual that possibly could represent the people rather than Washington and the One%. However, if the new government leaves the banks in charge and remains committed to the EU, the current president, previous prime minister, and previous finance minister, Maria Luis Albuquerque, will continue to work to overthrow the people’s will as occurred in Greece. The new Portuguese government cannot escape austerity without nationalizing the banks and leaving the EU. The failure of the Greek government to bite the bullet resulted in the Greek government’s acceptance of the austerity that it was elected to oppose.

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No, it’s the EU itself that means war.

EU Commissioner’s Dire Warning: “The Only Alternative To Europe Is War” (ZH)

While the saying goes “good fences make good neighbors,” it appears the leadership of The EU is starting to get frustrated with the lack of acquiescence among some of the ‘union’s’ newer or more marginal members. In a somewhat stunning statement, following ongoing and contentious meetings to discuss solutions to the migrant ‘problem’, EU Commissioner Timmermanns appeared to warn disagreeable member states, “There is an alternative to everything. I believe in EU cooperation because of all other forms in history have been tried to help Europeans get on better, and with the exception of this one, all other forms have led to war – so let’s stick to this one.” As Elsevier reports (via Google Translate),

European leaders read the last few days the alarm about the survival of the European Union (EU). Prague said Commissioner Frans Timmermans (PvdA) Friday that the EU is only one alternative: war. “The only alternative to the EU is war,” said Timmermans Friday gave a speech at a conference in Prague, said a reporter for The Times of London who attended the speech. Timmermans is the way Europe responds to the migration crisis’ the biggest threat to the EU ever. The Commissioner underlined that countries should cooperate better when it comes to border controls. “Migration is part of life, but we must lead these movements together in the right direction,” said Timmermans.

Matching words Timmermans in the alarmist tone that European leaders were heard in recent days about the survival of the EU. Earlier this week, Timmermans at the House of Europe Lecture in Amsterdam that he fears for the survival of the EU. “I do not optimistic about doing that, because I’m just not.

The current migration crisis is the European ideal of free movement shaking on its foundations. EU President Donald Tusk said that the EU is engaged in “a race against the clock.” “But we are determined to win this race,” said Tusk. “As I warned earlier, the only way not to dismantle the Schengen ensure proper management of the external borders of the EU.” The EU appears to be unable to curb migration flows. Because the borders are not guarded, seeing more and more countries are forced to protect their own borders. Even the welcoming Sweden went on Thursday to intensive checks on the southern border.

Remember when Hank Paulson waved the “Mutual Assured Destruction” card in the face of the U.S. with his infamous “blank check” three page term sheet? Now, it’s Europe’s turn. What’s worse, however, for things to devolve this much, it confirms that the European ‘Union’ is rapidly disintegrating, much more than the recent surge in barbed wire fences around European nations will demonstrate, and as Timmermanns warns, that means war.

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Much more than a blind eye.

Greece Says Turkey Turning Blind Eye To Refugee Smugglers (AFP)

Greece’s migration minister on Friday said refugee smuggling in Turkey was conducted in “broad daylight” as he called on the EU to step up relocation plans. “The entries (from Turkey) are happening in an organized fashion,” junior interior minister for migration Yiannis Mouzalas told a news conference. “It is happening in broad daylight, with villages gathering around to watch the refugees being put in boats by the traffickers. There is no secrecy in this,” he said, citing evidence from Turkish media and the Greek coastguard. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras will travel to Turkey next week to press the country’s leaders to take a stronger stance against refugee traffickers.

Turkey “is spending a lot of money, it is holding three million refugees on its soil, but we believe it has the ability and it must acquire the will to stop the flows from its coasts,” Mouzalas said. Greece has been overwhelmed this year by a migration crisis unseen in Europe since the Second World War. The United Nations on Friday said over 800,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, with over 3,400 dying in the attempt. EU states put together a scheme to share out some 160,000 people inside the bloc, but fewer than 2,000 relocation places have been found so far. And the program is already threatened by undue inflexibility, Mouzalas said.

“One EU country said it was prepared to accept 12 people. We wanted to send 14 as they were a family, and the country did not accept the extra two. Such cancellations could cancel out the substance of relocation,” he said. Greece has pledged to find accommodation for 20,000 refugees by January. Another 20,000 will be temporarily housed in rented flats under a UN scheme, Mouzalas said. And registration centres on Greek islands created with EU funds, known as hotspots, will provide short-term accommodation for over 6,500 people, he said. “If (registration) procedures go smoothly people will stay 48-72 hours” before moving to the mainland, the minister said.

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The EU just throws $3 billion in taxpayer money at Erdogan and hope something sticks.

Greece Warns EU To Hold Turkey To Account On Refugee Crisis (Kath.)

Greece has warned the European Union to obtain specific commitments from Turkey ahead of putting together a €3 billion fund for Ankara to help tackle the refugee crisis. The key role of Turkey in the process of stemming the flow of refugees and migrants was discussed on Friday during the second and last day of a summit in Malta. According to sources, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed to his EU counterparts that Brussels has to make it clear what it will be getting in return for providing Turkey with emergency funding and assistance. For instance, Tsipras said that in return for receiving new equipment for its coast guard, Turkey should be made to prove that it is cracking down on human-trafficking gangs.

The Greek premier said that if the EU is going to provide money for the construction of reception centers on Turkish soil, then Ankara has to commit to allowing the relocation of refugees to take place directly from these camps. Also, Tsipras said that if the EU is going to lift visa restrictions on Turkish citizens, Ankara’s readmission agreement with Greece should be upgraded to a pact between Turkey and the EU. It is expected that these will be some of the key points that Tsipras will raise when he visits Ankara next week, ahead of an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on November 29. Tsipras held a meeting with Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in Athens on Friday to begin preparation for the upcoming trip to Turkey.

Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas said that Greece has no plans to create more spaces at relocation camps on the eastern Aegean islands beyond those needed as part of Athens’s commitment to the EU for the relocation scheme. Mouzalas said that those refugees who will be included in the transfer process would be moved on from the islands to the mainland. He said the government plans to have reception centers capable of holding 2,000 arrivals on Lesvos, 1,500 on Samos, 1,000 on Chios, 1,000 on Kos and around 800 on Leros.

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Of course private citizens have to do this. Governments are too busy.

World’s Largest Ocean Cleanup Operation One Step Closer To Launch (Guardian)

A crowdfunded 100km-long boom to clean up a vast expanse of plastic rubbish in the Pacific is one step closer to reality after successful tests of a scaled-down prototype in the Netherlands last week. Further trials off the Dutch and Japanese coasts are now slated to begin in the new year. If they are successful, the world’s largest ever ocean cleanup operation will go live in 2020, using a gigantic V-shaped array, the like of which has never been seen before. The so-called ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’, made up largely of tiny bits of plastic trapped by ocean currents, is estimated to be bigger than Texas and reaching anything up to 5.8m sq miles (15m sq km). It is growing so fast that, like the Great Wall of China, it is beginning to be seen from outer space, according to Jacqueline McGlade, the chief scientist of the UN environmental programme (Unep).

“We have to admit that there has been a market failure,” she told the Guardian. “Nevertheless, we have to create a market success that brings in new forms of chemistry and technology.” The Ocean Cleanup project aims to do the technology part with a floating barrier as long as the Karman line that reaches from the sea to outer space. Sea currents and winds will be used to passively funnel plastic debris into an elbow made of vulcanised rubber where it can be concentrated for periodic collection by vessels. Sub-sea buoys at depths of up to 30 metres would anchor the contraption in depths of up to 4.5km. Sea currents flowing beneath its booms would allow fish to escape, while hoovering up 42% of the Pacific’s plastic soup. At least, that is the plan.

“Everything is unknown so everything is a potential problem,” said Lourens Boot, the programme’s chief engineer, who has previously worked on offshore oil and gas rigs. “The risk matrix is big, but one by one we are tackling those risks.” One of the biggest has been finance. Charles Moore, the racing boat captain who discovered the floating vortex in 1997, once said that the cost of a cleaning operation would “bankrupt any country”. But around half the scheme’s initial €30m (£20m) budget has now been raised through online donations and wealthy sponsors. In the long term, the project plans to finance itself with a major retail line of ocean plastic fashion wear.

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Quite a list.

Monstrous Wave Of Paris Attacks Underlines France’s Year Of Terror (RT)

Waves of deadly attacks have held France in a constant state of stress, anger and grief over the past 12 months, as the country has faced a series of deadly assaults and terror acts by radicalized Islamists and jihadists. It all started just before Christmas on December 20, 2014, in the largest suburb of the city of Tours, in Central France, when an attacker of Burundian origin, shouted “Allahu Akbar” [God is great] before attacking officers at a police station with a knife. The assailant, identified as Bertrand Nzohabonayo, injured three policemen before officers took him down. The following day, on December 21, a man in the French city of Dijon run over 11 pedestrians in five areas of the city. The driver – who also shouted “Allahu Akbar” – was arrested. Authorities later stated that the attacker ploughed into passers-by because he suffered from severe psychiatric problems.

On the third day after the initial attack, a man in a white van rammed over ten pedestrians at a Christmas market in the French city of Nantes. The driver is said to have stabbed himself and officials said he appeared to be in an unstable metal condition. One civilian died in those attacks. The spate of attacks forced the French government to heighten security by deploying 300 soldiers onto the country’s streets. In early January, the French nation was in state of horror after a series of five terrorist attacks, which took place in and around Paris. The four attacks killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens more, before three of the assailants were killed by special forces. The fourth terrorist remains at large.

The intimidation of the French public began on January 7, after two gunmen, identified as Cherif and Said Kouachi, attacked the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, over the publication’s depiction of the Prophet Mohammed. Twelve people, including two police officers, were killed in the onslaught, while eleven others were injured. The suspects fled the scene. Hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack, a third assailant, Amedy Coulibaly, shot a 32-year-old man who was out for a run in a park near Coulibaly’s home. On January 8, the same attacker shot and killed a municipal police officer in a suburb of Paris. A street sweeper was also wounded in that attack. The following day, on January 9, the Charlie Hebdo attackers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, attacked a signage production company in Dammartin-en-Goele, taking hostages on premises.

At the same time, Coulibaly, entered a kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes killing four people and taking the rest of the people in the store hostage. To neutralize the attackers, French special forces conducted simultaneous raids in Dammartin and at Porte de Vincennes, killing three terrorists. The fourth suspect, believed to be Coulibaly’s wife is still on the run. January’s atrocities became the deadliest act of terrorism in France since 1961, when a bomb on a Strasbourg–Paris train took the lives of 28 people. Following Charlie Hebdo attacks, the French government announced the creation of 2,680 new positions in the French military and intelligence agencies. The €425 million program was unrolled with the sole purpose to monitor a population of approximately 3,000 people with any possible connections to terrorist groups abroad. Furthermore, the government deployed some 122,000 police, military and gendarmes to provide security across France.

But terror in France did not stop there. On June 26, 2015 a French Muslim of North African descent, Yassine Salhi, decapitated his employer before driving his van into gas cylinders at a gas factory near Lyon. This caused an explosion and injured two other people. Prior to ramming his van in an effort to destroy the factory, Salhi placed his boss’s decapitated head on a fence along with two Jihadist black flags. The suspect was arrested after being taken down by the firefighters that rushed to the scene. That attack on the factory near Lyon coincided with a number of other Islamist terrorist attacks that have taken place in Tunisia and Kuwait. Finally, before the monstrous wave of attacks on Friday, a Thalys train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris via Brussels was attacked by an assailant who opened fire in a carriage before being subdued by off duty US servicemen aboard the train. Four people were injured but luckily none fatally.

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It’s one approach.

Let Mercy For Refugees Be The Response To The Paris Attacks (Margaret Corvid)

There have been horrible, disgusting terrorist attacks in France this night, with over 120 dead already reported. In response, premier François Hollande has declared a state of emergency for the first time since the Second World War. The media are subject to state control, gendarmes can enter any private home, and the borders are shut. The borders that have been the last hope for so many refugees crowding the camps of Calais and elsewhere, the borders that are so important to the women, children and men shivering in the rain, their feet rotting, have been closed by a frightened France. Probably the rest of Europe will follow suit. I hope not. A handful of terrorists—maybe French nationals, maybe not—blew up a crowd in a stadium with grenades, killed diners and walkers and concert-goers with guns and suicide bombs, traumatizing Paris to its core.

And what Hollande has done in response is to close the borders, the lifeline to the many suffering people fleeing war in Syria—even before we know for sure who the murderers are, or what their aims were. Reports claim the terrorists fought in Syria’s name. But if they did, and if they were ISIS, then the tens of thousands of refugees shivering in camps hate and fear them as much as the friends and families of the dead of Paris do. The refugees huddling in France, Germany, Turkey, Greece, and elsewhere are not the terrorists. They are fleeing the same terrorists—fleeing death, torture and destruction, trusting their lives to crumbling boats, washing up on shore hated, beaten, half-dead—and we are forsaking them.

I am a member of a Facebook group where people organize aid for the refugee camp in the northern seafront town of Calais. Now a shanty town of a full 6,000 refugees, such aid has never been more needed. Shoes are rotting on the feet of the camp’s dwellers as the weather worsens, food and medical care are scarce, and graves are rapidly filling. The lifesavers in the camp are not the government or the UN refugee groups—they are ordinary people connecting with tiny charities to bring desperately needed wood, food, medicine, blankets, water. Closing the borders as the terrifying war continues in Syria will not punish the terrorists; it will only cause more needless suffering and death, including to innocent children.

Why is Hollande using the refugees as hostages, condemning them with his border closure to a death that is slower but no less certain than that of a head chopped by a guillotine, or that of a concert-goer blown up by a grenade? He only helps the terrorists. ISIS and those in the West who hate the refugees want the same thing: martial law, state control of discourse, the spreading of Islamophobia, and a global atmosphere of suspicion and discord. In such a world, ISIS gets its youthful cannon fodder—those disaffected by the climate of hate and brutal racism—and the Front Nationales, the Ukips, all the soft and hard white supremacists of the world, get their white utopia, where a refugee child cannot migrate but guns and money can.

Tonight, Paris mourns, and the world mourns with Paris. I mourn, and my anguish at needless death drives these words. Forsake vengeance. Open the borders, Hollande. Open them even further than the painful trickle that they allowed before, and let mercy be the response to horror. Open them, Cameron. Let those people fleeing for their lives through the borders—through all the borders—fly all the way through to peace and safety in whatever countries they wish to reach. Open the borders, Obama, and let those people through, those people just like us, just like the diners and concert-goers of Paris, who are trying to save their lives.

If they all die of illness and exposure in their tents, fighting starvation, sickness, fire, fear or hate, it will neither save a single life from terrorism, nor avenge a single soul. Even if terrorists slip in among the refugees, each one of them who dies, each day they are locked down, will make more terrorists, watered by the tears of grief of their families and friends. No high-security level can ever end the threat of terrorism. Only mercy can do that; only the mercy of refuge, of acting like the just countries we believe ourselves to be—rather than what the terrorists believe us to be—can make us safe.

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A thousand times faster than the natural rate. We’ll kill it all. Or at least enough to make the earth hostile to our own species.

The Annihilation Of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals (Woods Inst.)

This book shows us the face of Earth’s sixth great mass extinction, revealing that this century is a time of darkness for the world’s birds and mammals. In The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals, three of today’s most distinguished conservationists tell the stories of the birds and mammals we have lost and those that are now on the road to extinction. These tragic tales, coupled with eighty-three color photographs from the world’s leading nature photographers, display the beauty and biodiversity that humans are squandering. Gerardo Ceballos, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich serve as witnesses in this trial of human neglect, where the charge is the massive and escalating assault on living things.

Nature is being annihilated, not only because of the human population explosion, but also as a result of massive commercial endeavors and public apathy. Despite the well-intentioned work of conservation organizations and governments, the authors warn us that not enough is being done and time is short for the most vulnerable of the world’s wild birds and mammals. Thousands of populations have already disappeared, other populations are dwindling daily, and soon our descendants may live in a world containing but a minuscule fraction of the birds and mammals we know today. The Annihilation of Nature is a clarion call for engagement and action. These outspoken scientists urge everyone who cares about nature to become personally connected to the victims of our inadequate conservation efforts and demand that restoration replace destruction. Only then will we have any hope of preventing the worst-case scenario of the sixth mass extinction.

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