Oct 252022
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Self portrait 1642

 

White House Responds To US Lawmakers’ Call For Russia Talks (RT)
Russia Warns US and UK About Ukraine’s ‘Dirty Bomb’ Plans (RT)
Russian Warning To The UN Security Council (Saker)
Ukraine Faces ‘Worst Winter In History’ – Head Of National Energy Giant (RT)
Russian Duma Speaker Compares ‘Kiev Regime’ To Al-Qaeda (RT)
The ‘War of Terror’ May Be About To Hit Europe (Escobar)
Full Demilitarization Area Around Zaporozhye NPP Impossible – Moscow (RT)
1000s of Years of Human Progress or the Donbas in Ukraine? (Cosgrove)
Potential Mass Layoffs At Twitter Could Cripple Content Moderation (ABC)
Cheney: Trump Won’t Be Allowed To Turn Jan. 6 Testimony Into ‘Circus’ (Hill)
Hunter Biden’s Laptop Documents At Least 459 Legal Violations (DW)
Recycling Plastic A ‘Failed Concept’ – Greenpeace (RT)
Chaos Is As Chaos Does (Jim Kunstler)
The Disastrous Effects of the “Zero Covid” Policy in China (Ugo Bardi)
I Hope People Can Imagine The Scale Of What Is Happening Here (Hodkinson)
Unvaccinated Children Are ‘Our Only Hope’ For Herd Immunity – Geert (ET)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call for peace talks, but only with Zelensky, who you know full well signed a decree forbidding any such talks. Then wash your hands and send more guns.

White House Responds To US Lawmakers’ Call For Russia Talks (RT)

US officials have dismissed the idea of direct talks with Moscow without Kiev’s involvement, after some 30 Democratic representatives wrote a letter urging President Joe Biden to pursue a diplomatic end to the conflict in Ukraine. “We’ve been very clear: Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday, adding that “this is a decision that President [Vladimir] Zelensky is going to have to make when it comes to any type of conversation with Russia, any type of negotiation.” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby similarly stated on Monday that the Ukrainians must be part of any future negotiations.

“We’re not going to have conversations with the Russian leadership without the Ukrainians being represented,” Kirby said, as cited by the Washington Post. “Mr. Zelensky gets to determine – because it’s his country – what success looks like and when to negotiate.” Kirby noted the US administration “appreciates [the lawmakers’] very thoughtful concerns,” while Jean-Pierre admitted she hasn’t seen the letter. Both, however, insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin could choose to end the conflict “at any time.” In a letter to the White House on Monday, Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (Washington) cited the “destruction” of Ukraine, the threat of nuclear war and the economic turmoil visited upon Europe as reasons to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Signed by prominent progressives including Ro Khanna (Pennsylvania), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), the letter acknowledged that the ultimate decision on when to return to the negotiating table remains Ukraine’s. However, it concluded by urging Biden to open “direct talks with Russia,” without suggesting what kind of compromises the lawmakers think Ukraine should make for peace. Ukraine’s president previously said he would never negotiate with Russia as long as President Putin is in power, and has vowed to seize four formerly Ukrainian regions that recently joined the Russian Federation, as well as Crimea, which voted to rejoin Russia in 2014.

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“..the UK “rejected Russia’s allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict.”

Russia Warns US and UK About Ukraine’s ‘Dirty Bomb’ Plans (RT)

Moscow has discussed the threat of Kiev potentially using a “dirty bomb” with London and Washington at the level of the chiefs of the General Staff, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday. The Russian chief of defense, General Valery Gerasimov, raised his country’s concerns in a phone call with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, after having a similar conversation with his British counterpart, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin. The Pentagon only mentioned that the two generals discussed “several security-related issues of concern” without providing any further details. It was the first such conversation between Gerasimov and Milley since May.

The British Defence Ministry said the phone call between Radakin and Gerasimov took place “at the request of the Russian Ministry of Defense,” adding that the UK “rejected Russia’s allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict.” Radakin also “restated the UK’s enduring support for Ukraine,” the ministry’s statement added. London also agreed it was important to keep communication channels with Moscow open to “manage the risk of miscalculation and to facilitate de-escalation.” The developments came a day after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu raised similar concerns in phone calls with the defense chiefs of the US, UK, and France. Moscow has been warning Western nations about Kiev’s alleged plans to use a “dirty bomb” to frame Russia for quite some time. The West, however, has remained largely dismissive of such warnings.

Earlier on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Kiev wants to frame Moscow as a “nuclear terrorist” by accusing it of using weapons of mass destruction and thus potentially launching a “powerful anti-Russia campaign.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also stated that the West’s disbelief in this scenario does not make the threat any less pressing. Kiev has denied Moscow’s allegations. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky also said that the only side capable of launching an attack using nukes is Russia itself. Meanwhile, the UN called on all sides of the conflict to show restraint. Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told a briefing on Monday that all parties should “avoid” any actions that could lead to miscalculation or further escalation of the already devastating conflict.

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“.. this situation did not suit the West and thus caused a genuine hysterics among our Western “colleagues..”

Russian Warning To The UN Security Council (Saker)

Since during the eight years of bitter experience of the inhabitants of Donbass we know well, what the Kiev regime is capable of, a decision was made to cool down the militant ardour of the arrogant Kiev terrorists. With precision-guided missiles strikes and UAVs of Russian manufacture, were destroyed a large number of military installations, and also infrastructure facilities, [reducing] the military capabilities and undermining potentials of Zelensky’s repressive regime. Of course, this situation did not suit the West and thus caused a genuine hysterics among our Western “colleagues”, which we can observe in all its glory expressed during today’s meeting.

Naturally, as before, they do not want to see the truth and acknowledge that the civilian targets were hit and were damaged only in those cases when the drones were shot down near the targets by the Ukrainian territorial defense .. and because of that had deviated from the original course. Or the [damage happened] when civilian targets were hit by the Ukrainian air-defense missiles, which were not capable of Intercepting their targets. There are plenty of such cases, including recorded on video. Anyone who wants to, can watch them on the Internet. Right now Ukraine and its Western patrons are trying to spin another fake about the alleged deliveries to Russia of the Iranian UAVs, in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2231.

We reject any such attempts to draw the UN Secretariat into this unscrupulous game. An example of this is the letter distributed in the Security Council today by Germany, France and the UK with a de facto petition to the UN Secretariat to violate the article 100 of the UN charter and mandate, prescribed in the note of the President UN Security Council S/2016/44 of 16 January, 2016. The US went even further and in their letter directly demanded from the Secretariat to conduct an investigation that the Secretariat is not authorized to open. This is an egregious situation and we submitted our legal assessments in our response letter, which was circulated before this session. We are waiting for the Secretariat to fully confirm that it does not intend to go along with the violation of the UN charter [demanded] by these Westerners’ instructions, and will not conduct any such “investigation”.

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“We expect constant power outages and problems with heating..”

Ukraine Faces ‘Worst Winter In History’ – Head Of National Energy Giant (RT)

Ukraine is facing its harshest winter, which will be marked by ongoing blackouts, Yuri Vitrenko, the head of the state-owned energy giant Naftogaz, has said. In an interview with German outlet Handelsblatt, Vitrenko explained that “about 40% of the power generation plants were destroyed” by recent Russian airstrikes. “It will be the worst winter in our history. We expect constant power outages and problems with heating,” Vitrenko said in the interview published on Monday, adding that Moscow has also hit Ukrainian refineries. Ukraine is preparing for winter blackouts, the Naftogaz boss said, admitting that “it is impossible to 100% prevent problems” and the country therefore needs help from its partners.

In an interview with The Guardian in late August, long before Russia launched its offensive against Ukrainian energy infrastructure, Vitrenko admitted that without Western financial support, Ukraine would “lack gas” and, consequently, might see its power system going down. In September, the Naftogaz boss urged Ukrainians to stock up on blankets and warm clothes, noting that this year’s heating season will start later and end earlier, while winter temperatures in apartments will be set at 17-18 degrees Celsius (62-64 degrees Fahrenheit), four degrees below the standard temperature. The ongoing shelling of Ukrainian infrastructure by Moscow prompted Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky last week to ask his compatriots to ease pressure on the struggling energy system by limiting their use of electricity between 5 and 11 pm.

On Sunday, he also asked the local authorities “to consume electricity very consciously” and emphasized that “this is not the right time for bright shop windows and signs.” Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a shift in the military offensive in Ukraine on October 10, with Moscow’s forces launching massive long-range missile strikes on Ukrainian military, communication, and energy facilities. He accused Kiev of masterminding several “terrorist attacks” on Russian infrastructure, including the Crimean Bridge bombing attack.

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“..the US president and the heads of European countries are becoming the sponsors and accomplices in nuclear terrorism..”

Russian Duma Speaker Compares ‘Kiev Regime’ To Al-Qaeda (RT)

The Ukrainian government employs the same tactics as Al-Qaeda in its conflict with Moscow, Vyacheslav Volodin, the head of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, said on Monday. Writing on his Telegram channel, Volodin compared Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Islamist group behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001. “Washington released information 20 years ago that Al-Qaeda terrorists led by Bin Laden got access to radioactive materials and were planning to make a ‘dirty bomb,’” he said. “The threat of using such a bomb in the US and Europe had existed until Bin Laden was killed in 2011.” Volodin claimed that Kiev had instructed its nuclear scientists to make a ‘dirty bomb’, while its forces shell the critical infrastructure of the Zaporozhye and Kursk nuclear power plants.


“Through financial and military aid to Zelensky’s regime, the US president and the heads of European countries are becoming the sponsors and accomplices in nuclear terrorism,” Volodin wrote. The comments came after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned his British and French counterparts on Sunday about “a potential Ukrainian provocation” involving a ‘dirty bomb’. Zelensky dismissed the allegations and accused Moscow of threatening the world with nuclear weapons. “If Russia alleges that Ukraine is preparing something, it means only one thing: that Russia itself is preparing it,” Zelensky said on Sunday. Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of shelling the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, which was seized by Russian troops after Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring country. Zaporozhye Region voted in September to leave Ukraine and has since been admitted into Russia.

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“Russia is working to eventually decommission all those US-controlled international organizations..”

The ‘War of Terror’ May Be About To Hit Europe (Escobar)

[..] the arrival of General Winter in Europe portends a socio-economic descent into a maelstrom of darkness – unimaginable only a few months ago in the supposedly “garden” of humanity, so far away from the rumbles across the “jungle.”Well, from now on barbarism begins at home. And Europeans should thank the American “ally” for it, skillfully manipulating fearful, vassalized EU elites. Way more dangerous though is a specter that very few are able to identify: the imminent Syrianization of Europe. That will be a direct consequence of the NATO debacle in Ukraine. From an imperial perspective, the prospects in the Ukrainian battlefield are gloomy. Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO) has seamlessly morphed into a Counter-Terror Operation (CTO): Moscow now openly characterizes Kiev as a terrorist regime.

The pain dial is incrementally going up, with surgical strikes against Ukrainian power/electricity infrastructure about to totally cripple Kiev’s economy and its military. And by December, there’s the arrival on the front lines and in the rear of a properly trained and highly motivated partial mobilization contingent. The only question concerns the timetable. Moscow is now in the process of slowly but surely decapitating the Kiev proxy, and ultimately smashing NATO “unity.” The process of torturing the EU economy is relentless. And the real world outside of the collective West – the Global South – is with Russia, from Africa and Latin America to West Asia and even sections of the EU.

It is Moscow – and significantly not Beijing – that is tearing apart the hegemon-coined “rules-based international order,” supported by its natural resources, the provision of food and reliable security. And in coordination with China, Iran and major Eurasian players, Russia is working to eventually decommission all those US-controlled international organizations – as the Global South becomes virtually immune to the spread of NATO psyops.

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The plant was fine until Ukraine started targeting it.

Full Demilitarization Area Around Zaporozhye NPP Impossible – Moscow (RT)

Russia has ruled out complete demilitarization of the area around the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), but would support some kind of arrangement to ensure its safety, a senior Russian diplomat has said. “An agreement about demilitarization is impossible in principle. We cannot keep the station safe without guarding it,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the newspaper Izvestia on the sidelines of an international seminar on the prevention of nuclear war in Moscow. “Zone of protection is a different idea, and its parameters are being discussed,” he noted, referring to Russian contacts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in remarks published on Monday.

Moscow is engaged with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and has observers from the UN nuclear watchdog stationed at the facility, Ryabkov said, adding that Russia has “nothing to hide.” The Zaporozhye NPP has been under Russian control since the early stages of the military operation in Ukraine. Kiev and Moscow accused each other of shelling the station on multiple occasions. Ukraine also claimed that Russia deployed heavy weapons at the site and used them to attack Ukrainian troops. Russia took over formal responsibility for the station earlier this month, after Zaporozhye Region voted in a referendum to split with Kiev and become part of Russia.

The IAEA, however, still refers to the largest nuclear power plant in Europe as Ukrainian. The agency stressed “the need to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the facility, following frequent shelling at or near the plant in recent months,” in its latest briefing on the situation. Both Russia and Ukraine expressed discontent with the IAEA’s refusal to say who is responsible for the shelling of the plant. Speaking to Argentinian media last week, Grossi said his goal was to identify “the lowest common denominator” between the two nations and to ensure the physical safety of the nuclear site. He chose to ignore the mutual accusations, as taking “a militant or critical position” would have been detrimental to that goal, he explained in an interview with La Nacion newspaper.

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“..the idea that Russia and the US will just fight an infantry war and cordially accept the results is ridicu-fucking-lous..”

1000s of Years of Human Progress or the Donbas in Ukraine? (Cosgrove)

Neocons: WTF are you thinking? There is no winning scenario for the US on the path we are currently on. If Crimea is in jeopardy (a region controlled by Russia for almost a decade which the citizens overwhelmingly support), Putin will nuke Ukraine. It’s a lose-lose for the US from there as we can either escalate and destroy the world or not and appear weak. Don’t think Putin will nuke? According to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, former nuclear planner for Rand Corporation with personal access to Nixon, stated that the former President was dangerously close to going nuclear on Vietnam. In an interview for Mint Press News, he discusses Nixon’s plan to use nuclear blackmail to end the war quickly. “‘There was pressure to make the war larger’” if the offer was rejected, the whistleblower noted, and ‘nuclear targets were picked.’”

If Vietnam, a country nearly 8,000 miles from the continental US, was enough of a headache that Nixon nearly pushed the button… what do you think Putin is thinking right now with a war on his border and having just resorted to conscription? So stop this NATO theatre near the border. Putin does not want to invade NATO and take over Europe (let alone all of Ukraine). And if the plan is to deploy these troops in the event that a nuke is used (as many have advocated for), the idea that Russia and the US will just fight an infantry war and cordially accept the results is ridicu-fucking-lous.

The risk-reward of our military support for Ukraine has reached unfathomable levels of insanity. By the State Department’s own analysis, there are no material differences in human rights protections between the governments of Ukraine and Russia. Who exactly are we helping by using Ukraine as our military sandbox? Maybe Zelensky and a few other lucky oligarchs, but certainly not the Ukrainians. Friday saw talks between the US and Russia for the first time since May. This is somewhat reassuring. Regardless… I’m officially a single issue voter: will you or will you not vote to send money/weapons to Ukraine? I’d vote for fucking AOC if she vowed to not give another dime to Ukraine and push for a peace settlement. I’d rather be alive in a genderless socialist dystopia than not at all.

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The MSM is fully myopic. They can be, because they made their audience myopic. For all of them, free speech now equals harassment.

Potential Mass Layoffs At Twitter Could Cripple Content Moderation (ABC)

Over the course of a monthslong bid to purchase Twitter, Elon Musk has signaled major changes at the platform. As Musk stands poised to acquire the company in the coming weeks, the transformation appears even more far-reaching than some anticipated. In discussions about his plans for the company, in recent months, Musk talked about potential mass layoffs that would reduce the staff by 75%, the Washington Post reported. While details of the potential layoffs remain limited, the move could compromise the platform’s capacity to police false or harmful content, with ramifications that extend to social issues like election integrity, experts told ABC News. The experience of a typical user could change significantly, they added, noting the possible rise of harassment and other forms of corrosive discourse.

Even if Musk’s Twitter deal does not come to fruition, the company’s current management has reportedly planned to cut its payroll by $800 million by the end of next year, the Post reported. A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on the report of layoffs but confirmed to ABC News the existence of a company memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg News. “We do not have any confirmation of the buyer’s plans following close and recommend not following rumors or leaked documents but rather wait for facts from us and the buyer directly,” the memo by Twitter General Counsel Sean Edgett said. Speaking at a Twitter all-hands meeting shortly in June, Musk did not rule out downsizing if he were to acquire the company. “Anyone who is a significant contributor should have nothing to worry about,” Musk reportedly told employees, according to tweets from Bloomberg reporter Kurt Wagner.

Cuts to the content moderation workforce would align with statements made by Musk in recent months about his commitment to the principle of free speech, suggesting that Twitter should permit all speech that stops short of violating the law, the experts said. “Content moderation will be a lot harder without people doing content moderation,” Zeve Sanderson, the executive director at New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics, told ABC News. “If there is more harassment and other forms of toxic speech, if there is more misinformation and disinformation, then people’s experience on the platform is going to be really different,” he added.

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Because: Whose circus is it anyway? It’s OUR circus.

Cheney: Trump Won’t Be Allowed To Turn Jan. 6 Testimony Into ‘Circus’ (Hill)

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Sunday said the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol will not allow former President Trump to turn his testimony to the panel into a “circus.” Cheney told moderator Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the committee would treat any deposition with the former president with “great seriousness.” “We are going to proceed in terms of the questioning of the former president under oath,” Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel, said. “It may take multiple days, and it will be done with a level of rigor and discipline and seriousness that it deserves.”


“He’s not going to turn this into a circus. This isn’t going to be first debate against [President] Biden and the circus and the food fight that became,” the lawmaker added. The House committee, which wrapped up its final hearing on the Jan. 6 attack this month, unanimously voted to subpoena Trump before it formally issued a subpoena to the former president. Lawmakers are probing 19 areas of interest, including many covered during the series of hearings the committee held over the summer, in the subpoena. They include potential communications seeking to evaluate former Vice President Mike Pence’s role in certifying the 2020 election as well as efforts to communicate with state lawmakers, election officials and leaders at the Justice Department about the 2020 election.

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“We don’t want to hear that Republicans need another year to do an investigation. I’ve done that here.”

Hunter Biden’s Laptop Documents At Least 459 Legal Violations (DW)

A year-long exploration of Hunter Biden’s laptop has yielded a 630-page report that its authors say document 459 violations of state and federal laws and regulations by President Joe Biden’s son and his business partners. Marco Polo, a nonprofit formed by a one-time aide to former President Trump to enable a team of cyber gumshoes to take a deep dive into the laptop that the crack-addled Biden left at a Delaware repair store, claims the report is a road map for local, state, or federal prosecutors to pursue charges. The group also sent its report to each member of Congress. The timing of the report’s release, coming two weeks before the midterm elections, has a certain symmetry to the laptop’s initial introduction to the public.

In 2020, days before the election, the New York Post published news of the laptop’s existence, as well as bombshells from it, but social media suppressed the story after the FBI had warned companies of so-called misinformation. This time around, the timing is similar, but other factors are reversed. Legacy outlets have acknowledged that the laptop’s files are authentic, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey admitted that censoring the laptop was a mistake, and the social media platform is being sold to free-speech advocate Elon Musk. The team put together by Garrett Ziegler, Marco Polo’s 26-year-old founder, has mined the laptop with digital savvy, and produced a thorough report that is anything but vague or superficial, weighing in at 1 gigabyte because of the number of screenshots from the laptop.

“I’ve been focusing on this for 13 months,” Ziegler told The Daily Wire. “It was really a thing of necessity. I recognized how rich the material was. It requires utter focus. It is so hard to write something comprehensive about it and do anything else on the side.” “There’s been some phenomenal writing so far on the sex and degeneracy,” he added, but “The focus of the report is on crimes … I had a compulsion to log every crime, even the state-level statutes. The mission is simple: Hold Republicans’ feet to the fire. We don’t want to hear that Republicans need another year to do an investigation. I’ve done that here.” The report, which reviewed the laptop’s emails, videos, calendar items, photographs, phone records, financial documents and more, but also provided context and explanation, serves as a “Rosetta Stone of white- and blue-collar crime under the patina of ‘the Delaware Way,’” the report says.

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“Since peaking at 9.5% in 2014, recycling rates have been steadily decreasing..”

Recycling Plastic A ‘Failed Concept’ – Greenpeace (RT)

Plastic recycling has turned out to be a “failed concept” used by global corporations as a “smokescreen,” Greenpeace USA has said, urging companies to focus on abandoning single-use plastic. In a report titled ‘Circular Claims Fall Flat Again’ and released on Monday, the environmental organization stated that of 51 million tons of plastic waste generated by US households in 2021, only 2.4 million tons, or 5%, were recycled. “After more than 30 years, it is time to accept that plastic recycling is a failed concept. Unlike with paper or metals, there are two insurmountable barriers that prevent plastic recycling from ever working at scale: toxicity and economics,” Greenpeace said.

Due to its toxicity, plastic cannot be recycled back into new food-grade plastic products, the organization explained, adding that “the flood of 400 million tons/year of cheap new plastic production kills the business case for large-scale investment in plastic recycling.” The situation is further aggravated by the high costs and complexity of the recycling process, given that different plastics have different characteristics and thus must be treated differently. But, most importantly, the organization said, “thousands of types of synthetic plastic materials produced are fundamentally not recyclable.” Since peaking at 9.5% in 2014, recycling rates have been steadily decreasing, especially since China ceased accepting Western plastic waste in 2018, the report states.

Therefore, Greenpeace urged companies to stop using the “false path” of plastic recycling as “a smokescreen to divert attention from the systemic changes that are needed.” “Instead of continuing on this false path, companies in the US and around the world must urgently phase out single-use plastics by replacing their packaging with reuse and refill systems and offering packaging-free products,” it said. Greenpeace USA senior plastics campaigner Lisa Ramsden told AFP that corporations such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever are some of those that have been promoting recycling for decades but have “shirked all responsibility” for the effectiveness of the process.

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America has become Forrest Gump-istan.

Chaos Is As Chaos Does (Jim Kunstler)

Then there’s us, Crazyland, formerly known as the USA, floating the possibility of a nuclear missile exchange, as if that were any kind of workable answer to the completely unnecessary war we instigated in the crossroads of Eurasia. Now, the word is out that a 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” strike force is assembling in Romania, next door to Ukraine, for some supposed incursion into the war zone — where there would be a fair chance of them getting slaughtered. Are you serious, Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley, or is this just some new deranged Woke vaudeville act in your continuing effort to humiliate the US Armed Forces?

Factor in, of course, the fast-approaching midterm election, which seems to have driven the “Joe Biden” regime and its Party of Chaos into a fugue of extreme desperation as they face a possibly massive repudiation at the polls that will put them out of business for many election cycles to come — if not permanently — and bring an end to the Wokester-Jacobin freak show. How the Democratic Party became hostage to the worst array of political ideas ever assembled remains a profound mystery. How do they persist supporting a Covid “vaccine” campaign that is now obviously false and dangerous? Is it simply an inability to acknowledge a terrible mistake? Or is it — as things seem — something darker, a deliberate effort to inflict harm on the American people? Kind of looks that way.

Several states quickly and loudly opted out of “vaccine” mandates for schools since the CDC’s advisory committee’s bizarre 15 to 0 vote to include the janky mRNA shots on the childhood “schedule.” How did “JB” & Company imagine that a wide-open border along with big cash gifts to border-jumpers was going to play with the economically sore-beset public? Who imagined that drag queens grinding their junk in children’s faces was a winning ploy? Who told them that Americans would approve of turning the FBI into a Gestapo, barging into politically-targeted households with SWAT teams before dawn? How did they forget that there is a first amendment to the constitution that forbids the government to interfere with freedom of speech? Who is actually behind this insanity?

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“Zero Covid Hell”

The Disastrous Effects of the “Zero Covid” Policy in China (Ugo Bardi)

“Eugenic and cultural superiority” Really? Actually, it is not surprising that people, more or less everywhere, see themselves as the best people in the world. The West has a century old tradition of this idea, well expressed by Rudyard Kipling as the “White Man’s Burden.” But I found it hard to believe that the Chinese, intelligent as they are, would not realize the mess in which they find themselves with their insistence on evidently ineffective “Zero Covid” policies. You may have read about people locked shut in their apartments, streets closed by barbed wire, universal masking everywhere, forced testing and vaccination, household pets exterminated, and much more. It is a situation that Eugyppius correctly described as “Zero Covid Hell”. Can’t the Chinese realize that they are being bullied by a government that’s thinking only of its own survival?

And yet, it turns out that Chuck was right, as it is often the case. I realized that all of a sudden, a few days ago, while I was listening to the talk of a Chinese colleague at an online conference. One of the things she said was that the cultural superiority of China over the West is demonstrated by the willingness of Chinese citizens to wear face masks all the time. That doesn’t happen, she said, with the unruly Westerners, who refuse to act in harmony with each other and wear such a simple and completely harmless device as a face mask. She didn’t mention the genetic superiority of the Chinese, but it was just a small step to get there from what she said.

One of those moments in which you feel your painstakingly assembled worldview crumbling around you. Did she really say that? After the conference, I contacted her separately. I asked her if she was sure that face masks are harmless. And I sent to her a link to a peer-reviewed paper showing the many negative effects of masks on health. She answered me very politely, thanking me for the link, and saying that face masks are basically harmless; hence they have to be worn all the time in public. End of the discussion.

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“20 million dead by the injection,

2.2 billion injured …”

I Hope People Can Imagine The Scale Of What Is Happening Here (Hodkinson)

“20 million dead by the injection,

2.2 billion injured …” “I hope people can imagine the extent of what is happening here.

An unimaginable slaughter that is not yet over, because this number is the current estimate first.

It does not include future deaths of a similar kind that will come to you!”

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Immune escape.

Unvaccinated Children Are ‘Our Only Hope’ For Herd Immunity – Geert (ET)

For nearly two years, vaccine expert and virologist Geert Vanden Bossche has been on a mission to raise awareness of why healthy children should not receive COVID-19 vaccines. Vanden Bossche, who has 30 years of experience in the vaccine industry, claims that it is primarily the unvaccinated children and adults who can generate herd immunity.“The children are our only hope still, to generate herd immunity,” Vanden Bossche told The Epoch Times. “And herd immunity means, thanks to their natural immunity, they can kill the virus, they can sterilize the virus.” It is only herd immunity that “will be able, at the population level, to dramatically reduce infectious pressure and to tame the pandemic so that it can transition into an endemic phase,” he added, since the “vaccines cannot do this.


“On the contrary, the vaccines lead to the breeding of more and more infectious variants, which is enhancing the infectious pressure in the population.”Herd immunity is defined as when a percentage of the population becomes immune to a disease—either through a previous infection or vaccination—which acts to stop or slow down the spread. Yet, vaccines have never significantly contributed to ending influenza pandemics in the past. The virus in each pandemic had largely run its course and became endemic. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, caused by the H1N1 virus, began in March 1918 and ended in the summer of 1919 without the use of any vaccines. The 1957 Asian flu (H2N2) pandemic ended in 1958 with limited use of the flu vaccine. And in both the 1968 H3N2 and 2009 H1N1 pandemics, the pandemic had already reached its peak by the time the vaccines were ready, so demand for the vaccines declined.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the first time that mass vaccination is being done in the middle of a pandemic. According to Vanden Bossche, mass vaccination with vaccines cannot prevent infection during a pandemic when there is high infection pressure because it leads to immune escape, a phenomenon where a virus can escape the host’s immune system. The late Nobel laureate and virologist Luc Montagnier was also against vaccinating the entire population during a pandemic. In May 2021, he called the mass vaccination program “a huge scientific error” and that the “history books will show that it is the vaccination that is creating the variants.” Supporters of vaccination allege that the vaccines do not create more variants, arguing that the virus has mutated several times prior to the vaccine roll out in December 2020 and that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks. Vanden Bossche disagrees.


He said that while variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can occur naturally, it is the COVID-19 injections that are driving the process. The most important reason why children should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine is to protect their innate immune system from being compromised, according to Vanden Bossche. The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defense against foreign pathogens. Children are “equipped with a special kind of antibodies that we call innate antibodies,” Vanden Bossche said in a video this summer, which “only lasts for some time during childhood and after that they disappear.” “These innate antibodies have an incredibly important function because they will help the child to kick off its own immune system,” he said, adding that these antibodies may be able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 and many other viruses that are encountered.

Marik

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Oborne

 

 

 

 

Plates

 

 

 

 

Bats

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jul 172019
 


Salvador Dali Mme. Reese 1931

 

The circus will be coming to town a week later, but not to worry, the show will go on longer and there will be many added attractions, including a full troop of 800-pound gorillas and an entire herd of 8000-pound elephants in the room. And once the balancing acts, the clowns and the ferocious beasts pack up and move on, America might find itself without a Democratic Party, or at least one it would recognize.

The circus is the testimony of Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary (extended to 3 hours) and Intelligence Committees (2 hours). The Democrats will aim to use Mueller’s words to finally achieve their long desired impeachment of Donald Trump. But is there anyone who’s not a US Democrat who thinks that is realistic? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to think so.

In order for the Dems to get their wish, Mueller would have to say a lot of things that are not in his report. It all appears to hang on the interpretation of his assessment that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted, which the Dems take to mean that there actually was a crime that could -or should- be prosecuted.

It’s not clear why the hearing was delayed from July 17 to 24, but don’t be surprised if it has to do with US District Judge Dabney Friedrich’s decision that Mueller must stop talking in public about a case that is in front of her, because his words might prejudice a jury. That is the case that Mueller brought in February 2018 against Internet Research Agency, Concord Management, their owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin (aka Putin’s cook), and 12 of his employees.

Mueller thought he could get away with presenting a case against them because they would not show up, but Prigozhin did hire a major law firm. Ironically, Friedrich has reportedly also decided that the lawyers cannot talk about the case to their own client(s). She hasn’t thrown out the case or anything, she’s simply told everyone including Mueller to stop discussing it in public.

 

So it’s quite possible that once the House Democrats figured this out (the decision stems from May 28 but was unsealed only on July 1), they had to change strategy. Mueller has been barred from saying a single word about it, including in the House.

In his report, Mueller tried to establish a link between the Russian firms and the Kremlin, but never proved any such link. They are accused of meddling in the 2016 election through emails and social media posts, an accusation that looks shakier by the day.

With that part of his report out of the way, what is left for him to talk about? He himself already gave up on the whole collusion narrative, which would appear to leave only obstruction. Well, there’s the Steele dossier, but with John Solomon blowing another gaping hole in it yesterday, that may not be the wisest topic to discuss on the House floor. By now, only the very faithful still believe in the dossier.

The Republicans surely don’t, and they also happen to be House members, and get to ask questions of Mueller on the 24th. The spectacle last night where Nancy Pelosi insisted on calling Trump a racist was nutty (you don’t do that in the House), but the Mueller hearings promise to be much much more nuts still.

 

In the background a second investigation is playing out: DOJ IG Michael Horowitz has been probing if DOJ or FBI officials abused their powers to spy on the Trump campaign. His report has been delayed, if reports are correct, because Christopher Steele at the very last minute agreed to testify. Those talks apparently were long and detailed. Wonder what he had to say.

And there’s a third probe too: AG Barr has tasked John Durham, the US attorney for Connecticut, to follow up on the Horowitz report and look at whether officials at the CIA, the NSA, and/or foreign intelligence agencies (think MI6), violated protocols or statutes.

That case is about whether the FISA court was misled to secure a warrant to put Trump campaign aide Carter Page under surveillance. It can also take a new look at the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, messages that Trump tweeted about on Saturday: “This is one of the most horrible abuses of all. Those texts between gaga lovers would have told the whole story. Illegal deletion by Mueller. They gave us “the insurance policy.”

The deletion reportedly may have been accidental. But it does set the tone. The door is wide open for the Republicans to go after Mueller. And he knows it, always has. He never wanted the hearings, he said it was all in his report. But the Dems wanted more, they want Mueller to say Trump is guilty of obstruction (of a probe that perhaps should never have taken place).

Personally, I wonder whether a Republican congressman/woman will have the guts to ask Mueller why he refused to talk to Julian Assange, the most obvious person for him to talk to in the whole wide world. But since the GOP hates Assange as much as the Dems, I don’t have high hopes of that happening.

What they certainly will ask is when he knew his probe wasn’t going anywhere. And if that was perhaps as much as a whole year before he presented his report. The Dems will tear into Mueller looking for obstruction. Like: if Trump were not the president, would you sue him? Problem with that is none of this would have happened if Trump were just a citizen.

But I lean towards Ray McGovern’s take, who says that the circus may not come to town on July 24 either. Because there’s no there there (something Peter Strzok himself said about the Steele dossier), and because the Dems know this is their last shot at glory. And the GOP doesn’t mind another week or so of preparation.

Since the Democrats, the media, and Mueller himself all have strong incentive to “make the worst case appear the better” (one of the twin charges against Socrates), they need time to regroup and circle the wagons. The more so, since Mueller’s other twin charge — Russian hacking of the DNC — also has been shown, in a separate Court case, to be bereft of credible evidence. No, the incomplete, redacted, second-hand “forensics” draft that former FBI Director James Comey decided to settle for from the Democratic National Committee-hired CrowdStrike firm does not qualify as credible evidence.


Both new developments are likely to pose a strong challenge to Mueller. On the forensics, Mueller decided to settle for what his former colleague Comey decided to settle for from CrowdStrike, which was hired by the DNC despite it’s deeply flawed reputation and well known bias against Russia. In fact, the new facts — emerging, oddly, from the U.S. District Court, pose such a fundamental challenge to Mueller’s findings that no one should be surprised if Mueller’s testimony is postponed again.

And I was serious when I said before that once the Mueller hearings are done, “America might find itself without a Democratic Party, or at least one it would recognize”. Because if and when the Mueller circus fails to provide the impeachment dream (try elections!), where are they going to go, what else is there to do?

They’ve been clamoring for impeachment for collusion (big fail), for obstruction (Mueller wouldn’t have it) and now racism, but that is merely based on interpretation of tweets. Nancy Pelosi wrote about ‘women of color’, not Donald Trump.

America needs a strong Democratic party, and it certainly doesn’t have one right now. The Dems should be calling for an end to regime change wars, that is a popular theme among their voters. But they don’t, because guess where their money comes from. They are in a very deep identity crisis, and Trump just has to pick them off one by one. They should look at themselves, not at him. Do these people ever do strategy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 132019
 


Pablo Picasso Weeping woman 1937

 

Robert Mueller’s Testimony Extended, Postponed By One Week (G.)
Trump Organization Probe Likely to End With No Charges (CNN)
Nemesis Rising (Kunstler)
Epstein Accused Of Paying Witnesses $350K In Hush Money (ZH)
Wall Street Banks Bailing On Troubled US Farm Sector (R.)
Fed Rate Cut Would Ease Pressure On China’s Central Bank (CNBC)
About Half Of China’s Loans To Developing Countries Are ‘Hidden’ (CNBC)
CIA Invokes WikiLeaks in Push For Expansion Of Secrecy Law (SP)
CIA Torture Unredacted (Bureau)
US To Hold Hearing On French Tax On Big Tech (R.)
EPA Expands Use Of Pesticide Considered ‘Very Highly Toxic’ To Bees (Hill)
Meeting the last Malaysian Sumatran Rhino on Earth (Lack)

 

 

The circus comes to town one week later but with a much longer show and added attractions. This will be nuts.

Robert Mueller’s Testimony Extended, Postponed By One Week (G.)

The special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before Congress about the findings of the Russia investigation on 24 July, one week later than his appearance was originally planned, under an agreement that gives lawmakers more time to question him. Mueller had been scheduled to report on the inquiry into Russian election meddling and ties between Russia and the campaign of Donald Trump on 17 July. But lawmakers in both parties complained that the short length of the hearings would not allow enough time for all members to ask questions. Under the new arrangement, Mueller will testify for an extended period of time, three hours instead of two, before the House judiciary committee. He will then testify before the House intelligence committee in a separate hearing.

The two committees said in a statement that all members of both committees will be able to question him. In the joint statement, the panels said the longer hearing “will allow the American public to gain further insight into the special counsel’s investigation and the evidence uncovered regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and President Trump’s possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power”. Mueller has expressed his reluctance to testify and said he won’t go beyond what is in his 448-page report. But Democrats have been determined to highlight its contents for Americans who they believe have not read it. They want to extract information from the former special counsel and spotlight what they say are his most damaging findings against Trump.

Democrats are expected to ask Mueller about his conclusions, including that he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice after detailing several episodes in which Trump tried to influence the investigation. Mueller also said there was not enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin. One thing judiciary members want to focus on in questioning Mueller is whether Trump would have been charged with a crime were he not president. Mueller said at the news conference that charging a president with a crime was “not an option” because of longstanding justice department policy. But Democrats want to know more about how he made that decision and when.

Read more …

Michael Cohen couldn’t deliver.

Trump Organization Probe Likely to End With No Charges (CNN)

A federal investigation into whether Trump Organization executives violated campaign-finance laws appears to be wrapping up without charges being filed, according to people familiar with the matter. For months, federal prosecutors in New York have examined whether company officials broke the law, including in their effort to reimburse Michael Cohen for hush-money payments he made to women alleging affairs with his former boss, President Donald Trump.
In recent weeks, however, their investigation has quieted, the people familiar with the inquiry said, and prosecutors now don’t appear poised to charge any Trump Organization executives in the probe that stemmed from the case against Cohen.


In January, one month after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, prosecutors requested interviews with executives at the company, CNN reported. But prosecutors never followed up on their initial request, people familiar with the matter said, and the interviews never took place. Meanwhile, there has been no contact between the Manhattan US Attorney’s office and officials at the Trump Organization in more than five months, one person familiar with the matter said.

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“..the obliteration of moral and ethical boundaries by the people who ended up running things in this fretful moment of US history.”

Nemesis Rising (Kunstler)

Where are Clintons, these dog days of summer? The Hamptons? Salty, sunny Martha’s Vineyard? Under a rock somewhere in the Chappaqua woods? Fate is turning in more than one uncomfortable way for the once-charmed couple of Boomerdom. There is, of course, the freshly re-issued Jeffrey Epstein underage sex scandal, come ‘round again with a vengeance this time because there are fewer Clinton partisans left in the Department of Justice where the matter has festered for decades like a fistula slowly seeping its rot through the body politic. The vengeance emanates from the Clinton’s nemesis, the uppity Golden Golem of Greatness who dared to “steal” Hillary’s place in the Oval Office (and history).

To put it plainly, Mr. Trump had enough of the two-year-plus persecution he endured from the Clinton-inspired Mueller investigation into the Clinton-propagated Russia Collusion flim-flam. And having patiently survived this audacious, seditious effrontery, is now out to squash the Clintons like a pair of palmetto bugs. [..] And now there is the Epstein matter, which threatens not only former president Bill Clinton, but a cosmos of political, financial, and entertainment “stars” in countless ugly incidents that involve a kind of personal corruption that has no political context but says an awful lot about the obliteration of moral and ethical boundaries by the people who ended up running things in this fretful moment of US history. President Clinton has already kicked off this debacle by lying to the media about the number of rides he took on Mr. Epstein’s notorious airplane.

I voted for Bill Clinton twice. When they came up from the backwater of Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1992, they seemed like the fresh, bright antidote to twelve years of fusty Reaganism with the GHW Bush moldy cherry-on-top. Governor Bill, so glib and charming. Tall and catnip to the ladies, too! And almost immediately he was in deep shit over that part of his act, but he wiggled through it all with the aid of his perky, stalwart wife and partner, who defended him sedulously on nationwide TV. (America had never even heard about her misadventures on the Watergate Committee, where, age 27, she gained a reputation for being less than honest.) And that was followed by the first instance of Hillary moneygrubbing when she turned a few thousand bucks into a six-figure bonanza almost overnight in a wired commodities trade.

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There is so much ugliness still hidden in this. Will we ever know?

Epstein Accused Of Paying Witnesses $350K In Hush Money (ZH)

Federal prosecutors allege in a new court filing that Jeffrey Epstein may have engaged in witness tampering by paying off two potential witnesses days before the Miami Herald began publishing a series of explosive exposés about the registered sex offender and his victims. According to financial records, Epstein wired $350,000 to two ‘possible co-conspirators’ who could testify against him. $100,000 was wired from “Institution-1” to one person, while just three days later $250,000 was wired to another individual. Neither of the payments appear to be recurring based on five years of bank records. Is one of the co-conspirators Ghislaine Maxwell? The daughter of a British media barron, Maxwell was described by one Epstein accuser in a 2017 lawsuit as “the highest ranking employee” of his alleged enterprise, in which she was said to have managed both Epstein’s household and his sex life.

Via the Wall Street Journal: “Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of a British media baron, was a fixture for years in Manhattan’s social scene, often written about in tabloids for her close ties to British royalty and to a mysterious financier named Jeffrey Epstein. But Mr. Epstein’s arrest last week on sex-trafficking charges has brought renewed attention to her alleged role as one of his top aides. Ms. Maxwell, 57 years old, has been accused by three women in affidavits and other court filings of recruiting young women for Mr. Epstein and training them for sex. Two of the women have alleged that Ms. Maxwell, together with Mr. Epstein, sexually assaulted them, according to the filings.

What’s more, “Juan Alessi, who said in one of the depositions that he served as the Palm Beach house manager from around 1992 through 2002, described a basket of sex toys in Ms. Maxwell’s bathroom closet. He said he would find them around when he cleaned up after visits from the young women,” according to the Journal.

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Only Big Ag deals with Wall Street.

Wall Street Banks Bailing On Troubled US Farm Sector (R.)

In the wake of the U.S. housing meltdown of the late 2000s, JPMorgan Chase & Co hunted for new ways to expand its loan business beyond the troubled mortgage sector. The nation’s largest bank found enticing new opportunities in the rural Midwest – lending to U.S. farmers who had plenty of income and collateral as prices for grain and farmland surged. JPMorgan grew its farm-loan portfolio by 76 percent, to $1.1 billion, between 2008 and 2015, according to year-end figures, as other Wall Street players piled into the sector. Total U.S. farm debt is on track to rise to $427 billion this year, up from an inflation-adjusted $317 billion a decade earlier and approaching levels seen in the 1980s farm crisis, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


But now – after years of falling farm income and an intensifying U.S.-China trade war – JPMorgan and other Wall Street banks are heading for the exits, according to a Reuters analysis of the farm-loan holdings they reported to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The agricultural loan portfolios of the nation’s top 30 banks fell by $3.9 billion, to $18.3 billion, between their peak in December 2015 and March 2019, the analysis showed. That’s a 17.5% decline.

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I meant to do that?!

Fed Rate Cut Would Ease Pressure On China’s Central Bank (CNBC)

A widely expected interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve would give China more breathing room in shoring up its slowing economy, some analysts said. Overnight, markets took Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments during the first of a two-day Congressional testimony as affirming expectations for easier monetary policy in the U.S. The S&P 500 briefly topped 3,000 for the first time, and Treasury yields edged lower. A looser monetary policy environment would reduce pressure on China’s central bank to ease monetary policy. Amid trade tensions with the U.S., China’s economy has struggled to gain momentum.


Private surveys released last week by Caixin showed services activity fell in June to its lowest since February, and the manufacturing sector contracted, after three months of expansion. Among several measures to support the economy over the last several months, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has made targeted attempts to lower financing costs to privately run enterprises, which account for the majority of the country’s economic growth and employment. “If the Fed does go ahead and cut rates, which I don’t think is a given … it simply means the PBoC has a little breathing room to see if the policies it has implemented have an impact on the real economy,” Hannah Anderson, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, told CNBC on Thursday by phone.

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“Between 2000 and 2017, other countries’ debt owed to China soared ten-fold, from less than $500 billion to more than $5 trillion..”

“..debt has increased on average from less than 1% of their GDP in 2015, to more than 15% in 2017..”

About Half Of China’s Loans To Developing Countries Are ‘Hidden’ (CNBC)

China’s lending to other countries has surged in the past decade, causing debt levels to jump dramatically, and as much as half of such debt to developing economies is “hidden,” a new study has found. Such “hidden” debt means that the borrowing isn’t reported to or recorded by official institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, or the Paris Club — a group of creditor nations. Between 2000 and 2017, other countries’ debt owed to China soared ten-fold, from less than $500 billion to more than $5 trillion — or from 1% of global economic output to more than 5%, according to the study from Germany-based think tank the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. “This has transformed China into the largest official creditor, easily surpassing the IMF or the World Bank,” the report’s researchers said.


The study, which looked at nearly 2,000 Chinese loans to 152 countries from 1949 to 2017, was undertaken by well-known debt expert Carmen Reinhart from Harvard University, as well as Kiel Institute’s Christoph Trebesch and Sebastian Horn. For 50 developing countries which have borrowed from China, that debt has increased on average from less than 1% of their GDP in 2015, to more than 15% in 2017, according to estimates by the study’s researchers. “Advanced and higher middle income countries tend to receive portfolio debt flows, via sovereign bond purchases of the People’s Bank of China, ” the report said. “As a result, many advanced countries have become highly indebted towards the Chinese government.”

Read more …

There’s Adam Schiff for you in all his glory. Watch for him in the Mueller hearings too.

CIA Invokes WikiLeaks in Push For Expansion Of Secrecy Law (SP)

When the CIA and other agencies in the United States government pushed for the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) in 1981, it was crafted to exclude “covert agents” who resided in the U.S. There was consideration by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of how the legislation might “chill or stifle public criticism of intelligence activities or public debate concerning intelligence policy.” More than three decades later, the CIA is apparently unsatisfied with the protections the bill granted “covert agents. It has enlisted a select group of senators and representatives to help expand the universe of individuals who are protected, making members of the press who cover intelligence matters more vulnerable to prosecution.

Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, was involved in adding language to expand the IIPA to the Intelligence Authorization Act moving through Congress. “Schiff is once again putting the interests of the intelligence agencies in concealing their misdeeds ahead of protecting the rights of ordinary Americans by criminalizing routine reporting by the press on national security issues and undermining congressional oversight in his Intelligence Authorization bill,” declared Daniel Schuman, who is the policy director for Demand Progress. Schuman added, “Schiff’s expansion of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act beyond all reason will effectively muzzle reporting on torture, mass surveillance, and other crimes against the American people—all at the request of the CIA. Schiff is clearly the resistance to the resistance, and he should drop this provision from his bill.”

The CIA put their specific request for what language they would like amended in writing and sent it to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Their request was essentially copied and pasted, with no changes, into the intelligence bill. “Undercover agency officers face ever-evolving threats, including cyber threats,” the CIA argued. “Particularly with the lengths organizations such as WikiLeaks are willing to go to obtain and release sensitive national security information, as well as incidents related to past agency programs, such as the RDI investigation [CIA torture report], the original congressional reasoning mentioned above for a narrow definition of ‘covert agent’ no longer remains valid.”

“This proposal would provide protection for all undercover agency officers by allowing for the prosecution of individuals responsible for disclosing the identities of those officers, regardless whether the undercover officer serves inside or outside of the United States,” the agency additionally stated. Schiff supports the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and shares the CIA’s view that WikiLeaks is a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” not a media organization. In 2018, when Assange was willing to speak with investigators about the Russia probe, he replied, “Our committee would be willing to interview Julian Assange when he is in U.S. custody, not before.”

Read more …

Do I want to read this report?

CIA Torture Unredacted (Bureau)

In December 2014, the Bureau, alongside The Rendition Project, began a major project to trace the history of the RDI programme. The impetus for our investigation came from the long-awaited publication of a report into CIA torture by the US Senate Select Intelligence Committee. The authors of this report had high-level access to internal CIA documents, which they mined to produce a damning assessment of the torture programme’s brutality, mismanagement and ineffectiveness. But they were compelled by the Obama administration, and by the CIA itself, to censor — “redact” — all parts of the report that could identify specific times and places where abuses had occurred.

This is important, because without being able to tie illegal activities to specific times and places, the quest for redress is hamstrung, and meaningful accountability — legal, public, historical — remains a mirage. The Senate report did offer a crucial insight, however: the first complete list of prisoners held in the CIA’s black sites. 119 names, each with a date of custody (redacted) and a record of how many days they were held (also partly redacted). In the days after the publication of the Senate report, we set to work reconstructing this list to reveal the hidden dates. Figuring out a date often meant that we could match it to a flight record; matching to a flight record meant that we could determine where a prisoner was brought from or sent to.

As we cross-correlated thousands of data points — from declassified government documents, footnotes in the Senate report, aviation data, records of corporate outsourcing of rendition flights, legal cases, media reporting and NGO investigations — the contours of the CIA’s programme of secret detention and torture began to emerge more clearly. Rather than just understanding certain individual histories, we could begin to discern the entire scope of the programme’s development. More than four years later, we’re publishing the results of our investigation in a 400-page report entitled CIA Torture Unredacted. It is the first time that the entirety of the CIA’s detention programme has been systematically revealed.

Read more …

“Other EU countries including Austria, Britain, Spain and Italy have also announced plans for their own digital taxes.”

US To Hold Hearing On French Tax On Big Tech (R.)

The U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Office will hold a hearing on Aug 19 in its probe of France’s new planned tax on big technology companies, calling the proposal “unreasonable.” President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered an investigation into the tax, which could lead to the United States imposing new tariffs or other trade restrictions. USTR said in a public notice the levy was an “unreasonable tax policy.” The plan departs from tax norms because of “extraterritoriality; taxing revenue not income; and a purpose of penalizing particular technology companies for their commercial success,” it said. USTR added that statements by French officials suggest the tax will “amount to de facto discrimination against U.S. companies… while exempting smaller companies, particularly those that operate only in France.”


The tax is due to apply retroactively from the start of 2019. USTR said that calls into question the fairness of the tax. On Thursday, the French Senate approved the 3% levy that will apply to revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than 25 million euros in French revenue and 750 million euros ($845 million) worldwide. Other EU countries including Austria, Britain, Spain and Italy have also announced plans for their own digital taxes. They say a levy is needed because big, multinational internet companies such as Facebook and Amazon are currently able to book profits in low-tax countries like Ireland, no matter where the revenue originates. Political pressure to respond has been growing as local retailers in high streets and online have been disadvantaged.

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The crazies.

EPA Expands Use Of Pesticide Considered ‘Very Highly Toxic’ To Bees (Hill)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Friday it would allow for the expanded use of a pesticide it considers toxic to bees, a move that comes just days after the Trump administration said it was suspending data collection on bee populations. The pesticide known as sulfoxaflor will be permitted for use on certain crops for the first time, and in other areas that were prohibited under the Obama administration. The agency considers sulfoxaflor “very highly toxic” to bees. In a call with reporters to announce the decision, a top EPA official emphasized the agency’s research on the pesticide’s effects on bees and said the rule was designed with pollinators in mind.


“To reduce exposure to bees, the product label will have crop-specific restrictions and important pollinator protection language,” including limits on how close to bloom sulfoxaflor can be sprayed, the official said. But it may be difficult to monitor whether the regulations spare bees as intended. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week it was suspending one of the few remaining government data sets that monitor bee populations and loss. “At a time when honeybees and other pollinators are dying in greater numbers than ever before, Trump’s EPA decision to remove restrictions on yet another bee-killing pesticide is nothing short of reckless,” Earthjustice, which fought sulfoxaflor use in the 2015 suit, said in a statement Friday. “Scientists have long said pesticides like sulfoxaflor are the cause of the unprecedented colony collapse. Letting sulfoxaflor back on the market is dangerous for our food system, economy, and environment.”

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“..perhaps I will abstain from telling them of the heart-shattering, breath-snatching moment I gazed into the deep eyes of the last of a species, every sense trembling with anticipation.”

Meeting the last Malaysian Sumatran Rhino on Earth (Lack)

Deep set beady eyes peer from folds of thick leather skin. They close slowly in a leisurely, ponderous blink. Nostrils flare with each warm, damp exhalation, causing a slight rise of the stubby nasal horn that rests on those cavernous nostrils. I stare at this primitive, prehistoric creature which seems to have just trundled out of the Jurassic Period. Her skin is leather-thick, her face is topped by a firm horn and her species is over 20 million years old. She seems invincible. Somehow our soft-skinned species has managed to mangle her population down and down until today, when only one Malaysian Sumatran Rhino exists on earth. And there I stand looking into her eyes. She is called Iman. Iman means faith.

Faith is a funny concept when you stand looking at the very last individual of a species and your ears ring with her plaintive cries. Rather than feel faith in humanity, I felt a deep loss, a deep hopelessness. That was only after five minutes of meeting Iman. Yet behind me stood Dr Junaidi Payne and Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin, who have been working on protecting the Sumatran Rhino in Sabah for almost their whole lives. They were there in 2017 when Puntung had to be euthanised. They were there in May this year when Tam, the last male, died. They will, most likely, be there when Iman breathes her last breath. The last breath of a species. They have front row seats of the sixth mass extinction, directed and produced wholly by humans.


Iman cannot be saved. It is the brutal yet undeniable truth that one day she will be gripped by illness or old age and will leave us. If I choose to have children, their world will be undoubtedly different to ours today. Perhaps they will cry at the abundance of life that has been ravaged by their ancestors. Perhaps they will listen to the story of the time I met Iman. But perhaps I will abstain from telling them of the heart-shattering, breath-snatching moment I gazed into the deep eyes of the last of a species, every sense trembling with anticipation. Rhino and girl. We were two, yet we were alike. Our hearts both pounding as we watched each other, our gazes both narrowed and our breath quickened.

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