Jan 182024
 


Jean-Léon Gérôme Slave market 1866

 

World Wants More US Intervention – Blinken (RT)
World on ‘Escalation Spiral’ Towards War (Sp.)
BRICS and Global South Challenge ‘Globalist Elites’ With Multipolar World (Sp.)
Reviving ISIS: A US weapon Against The Resistance Axis (Cradle)
UK Working To Prevent Peace – Zakharova (RT)
Britons Mock Warmongering Lecture by UK Defense Secretary (Sp.)
West Cannot Let Russia Win – Macron (RT)
Germany To Double Defense Aid For Ukraine This Year (RT)
How US Coerces France & Germany to Fund Zelensky’s Failing Conflict (Sp.)
Poland’s Decision To Host German Troops Will Not Go Unanswered – Moscow (RT)
Brussels Starts ‘Screening’ Ukrainian Laws (RT)
Judges Smack Down Jack Smith for Violating Trump’s Executive Privilege (PB)
A Gun Pouch Covered In Cocaine Shows Hunter’s Defense Is Ridiculous (Turley)
Supreme Court to Hear Potentially Historic Chevron Case (Turley)
Trump Vows To “Never Allow” A Central Bank Digital Currency (ZH)

 

 

 

 

Michael Moore must see
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747630445838131401

 

 

Meister
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747336776614564316

 

 

Vivek Trump

 

 

Tucker

 

 

Tucker Haley

 

 

Watters

 

 

ICJ

 

 

 

 

How crazy is that? “I’m hearing from virtually every country: They want the United States..”

World Wants More US Intervention – Blinken (RT)

Geopolitical turmoil and conflict around the globe have made the world’s nations hungrier than ever for diplomatic intervention from Washington to help deal with their crises, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has claimed. “There’s a greater premium than there’s ever been on our engagement, on our leadership, in partnership with others,” Blinken told an audience on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He added that Washington needs to “reimagine” its geopolitical partnerships to resolve global challenges, such as the Israel-Hamas war. The top US diplomat made his comments as Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip triggers escalating tensions in the Middle East and the Russia-Ukraine conflict nears its 24th month. He claimed that many governments see Washington as key to finding solutions.

“I’m hearing from virtually every country: They want the United States,” Blinken said. “They want us present, they want us at the table, they want us leading.” When Washington fails to tackle a major issue, he added, it is either handled by another nation – probably to the detriment of US interests – or no one else takes the lead. When other nations see the domestic investments that US President Joe Biden is making, such as funding of major infrastructure projects and “climate technology,” they realize that “we’re actually serious about ourselves, despite some of the dysfunction that may be seen on the front pages,” Blinken said. Biden also has pressed for re-engagement with US allies and the building of new coalitions to address specific challenges, he added.

“On some of the really big issues of the day – whether it’s how to deal with China, how to deal with Russia – we have more convergence than we’ve had at any time in recent memory between us, key partners throughout Europe, throughout Asia, and even in other parts of the world, about how to manage these problems,” the secretary said. The Israel-Hamas war has reportedly left more than 24,000 people dead in the Palestinian enclave. The conflict began on October 7, when Hamas militants killed more than 1,100 people – mostly civilians – in southern Israeli villages and took hundreds of hostages back to Gaza. Asked about the disparity in casualties, Blinken denied that the US places a higher value on Jewish lives than Palestinian lives. “What we’re seeing every single day in Gaza is gut-wrenching,” the diplomat said. “And the suffering we’re seeing among innocent men, women and children breaks my heart.”

He claimed that US engagement in the crisis had helped to minimize civilian casualties and get more humanitarian aid into the enclave. Blinken said he sees no near-term prospects for a negotiated settlement to end the bloodshed in Ukraine. He argued that peace talks can only go forward when Russian leaders are willing to negotiate “in good faith,” respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Russian officials have accused Western leaders of derailing a potential peace deal in April 2022 and prolonging the conflict by providing massive military aid to Kiev. Moscow also has claimed that US insistence on a negotiated settlement being based on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s demands, which it calls detached from reality, leaves no chance for a ceasefire in 2024.

Macgregor
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747606360458412185

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“Foreign policy in the Middle East will become hostage to American domestic politics, which is very dangerous..”

World on ‘Escalation Spiral’ Towards War (Sp.)

The likelihood of global military confrontation is increasing according to analyst Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center. Sayigh made the assessment during an interview with Chinese media that touched on Israel, the crisis in the Red Sea, and the United States’ so-called “pivot to Asia” policy. Commenting on tensions between Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East, Sayigh offered sobering insight on the potential for events to escalate beyond world leaders’ control. “I think the risk of a wider war is obviously increasing,” said Sayigh. “However, at the same time, I think that the key parties will not go beyond a certain point into direct confrontation. At the same time, they have already started what we call an escalation spiral.”

“The US is in a very risky situation, and it increasingly looks as though it is entering the war on the side of Israel as well,” the analyst noted. “[Biden] has already, in a way, signaled military deterrence that encouraged Iran to use military deterrence. Biden, in a way, started this escalation spiral from the beginning with his immediate deployment of military assets to the Mediterranean.” Sayigh employed the metaphor of World War I to explain how events could lead towards war even without world leaders consciously seeking to initiate conflict. World War I was famously set into motion by the murder of Austro-Hungarian heir apparent Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But Sayigh argued the key factor in the war’s outbreak was not the killing itself, but rather the greater zeitgeist of global tension created by previous events.

“By 1914, the world was ready for war,” said the historian. “Global tensions had reached a point where it was the assassination that was the trigger, but it might have been something else. It could have been sinking a boat at sea. It could have been anything.” Part of what makes the current moment so perilous are the set of incentives created by domestic politics, Sayigh argued. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces corruption charges, as well as an Israeli public likely to hold the longtime leader accountable for Hamas’ October 7 attack. Netanyahu has an interest in the continuation of military conflict to prevent either of those things threatening his political career. But domestic politics also alters the calculations of US President Joe Biden, the analyst argued. Previously Biden showed signs of returning to former President Barack Obama’s policy of detente with Iran, resisting many neoconservatives’ call for war on the Middle Eastern country. Now, domestic support for Israel makes it harder for Biden to pursue reconciliation with the country’s fierce enemy.

“It [the Biden administration] no longer calculates foreign policy purely on the basis of strategic and global stability, as it was previously doing by improving relations with Iran or at least defusing tensions with Iran,” Sayigh explained. “That was when it was thinking globally. However, now the administration has to consider domestic politics, and the calculation there is different.” “Foreign policy in the Middle East will become hostage to American domestic politics, which is very dangerous,” he warned.

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“..it is a process made of deconstruction and chaos, of divide and control, an illusion of democracy so they can ultimately control absolutely everything..”

BRICS and Global South Challenge ‘Globalist Elites’ With Multipolar World (Sp.)

BRICS and the Global South are offering “a new world order” to the “Western-centric”, Angelo Giuliano, a Hong Kong-based political and financial analyst, told Sputnik. The vision is “strong opposition” to that of the Western-dominated World Economic Forum, suggested the analyst.”The rest of the world, BRICS and the Global South… is opposing the values of a Western-centric world controlled by the very few, the old powerful families and the likes of Blackjacks and other banksters,” Giuliano noted. “What the rest of the world is offering is an option of a multipolar world where differences of cultures and values are respected, an idea of coexistence, of live and let live, respect of sovereignty. Seeking mutual prosperity, mutual respect and maybe also putting the human being at the center of the preoccupation. A world of purpose as opposed to a world of profit,” he stated.

The West, however, takes its directions from multinational corporations, underscored the pundit. “Globalist elites are the real ones in charge in the West. The same globalist elites select Western leaders and give the directions that they want the world to take, it is a process made of deconstruction and chaos, of divide and control, an illusion of democracy so they can ultimately control absolutely everything, for a central digital currency, to ownership, privacy and ultimately to people’s minds,” said the Hong Kong-based political analyst. Earlier, speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan offered up the Biden administration’s vision for the era ahead.

“Major powers are vastly more interdependent than at any time during the Cold War. But we’re also in stiff competition about the type of world we want to build,” Sullivan said in his remarks. “We are moving into a new era, the post-Cold War era has come to a close. We are at the start of something new, we have the capacity to shape what that looks like, and at the heart of it will be many of the core principles, core institutions of the existing order, adapted for the challenges we face today,” he added later, talking with Børge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum and former minister of foreign affairs of Norway.

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“.. fresh blood, money, and weapons are being pumped into the ISIS organization’s arteries again..”

Reviving ISIS: A US weapon Against The Resistance Axis (Cradle)

According to intelligence reports reviewed by The Cradle, at its height, ISIS consisted of more than 35,000 fighters in Iraq – 25,000 of these were killed, while more than 10,000 simply “disappeared.” As an officer of one Iraqi intelligence agency recounts to The Cradle: “Hundreds of ISIS fighters fled to Turkey and Syria at the end of 2017. After the appointment of Abdullah Qardash as the leader of ISIS in 2019, following the death of Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the new Caliph began to restructure the organization, and ordered his followers to return to Iraq. The organization exploited the long border with Syria, the security disturbances, and the diversity of forces on both sides of the border to infiltrate the Iraqi territory again.” Imprisoned ISIS officials admit that infiltrating that border is not an easy task, because of the strict control imposed by the Iraqi Border Guards and the use of modern technologies, such as thermal cameras.

It therefore became necessary for the terror group to identify intermediaries capable of breaking through or bypassing these fortifications to transport its fighters across borders. An Iraqi security source, insisting on anonymity, tells The Cradle that the US plays a vital role in enabling these border violations: “[There are] several incidents that confirm the American assistance in securing the crossing route for ISIS members – mainly, by shelling Iraqi units on the border, especially the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), to create gaps that allow ISIS fighters to cross the border.”

[..] In a speech on 5 January, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah warned that the US was supporting an ISIS revival in the region. The Cradle obtained security information monitoring the new activity of extremists in Lebanon, communications between these elements and their counterparts in Iraq and Syria, and suspicious money transfer activities among them. Lebanese Army Intelligence also recently arrested a group of Lebanese and Syrians who were preparing to carry out security operations. Importantly, this surge in terror activities comes at a time when the Lebanese resistance is engaged in a security and military battle with Israel, which may expand at any moment into open war. It is also notable that renewed ISIS activity is concentrated in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran; that is, in the countries that support the Palestinian resistance politically, militarily, and logistically.

On 4 January, ISIS officially claimed responsibility for two bombings in the Iranian city of Kerman that targeted memorial processions on the anniversary of the assassination of Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani by US forces. The dual explosions killed around 90 people and injured dozens, in an unprecedented attack targeting the biggest US-Israeli adversary in West Asia – just one day after Tel Aviv killed top Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut. Before that, on 5 October 2023, ISIS drone-attacked an officers graduation ceremony at the Military College in the Syrian city of Homs, killing about 100 people. These attacks, and others in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Africa, indicate that fresh blood, money, and weapons are being pumped into the ISIS organization’s arteries again.

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“Ukraine is literally being stripped of any chance to get out of the conflict through negotiations.”

Sunak gives Zelensky a few billion, on the condition that he’ll never talk peace. US and UK want the war to continue. Germany and France follow their lead.

These are also the countries, not coincidentally, that will not criticize Israel.

In the UK, Germany and France, also not coincidentally, governments are about to be voted out. (US?!)

UK Working To Prevent Peace – Zakharova (RT)

A security agreement signed last week is further proof that London is maintaining a firm grip on the Kiev government and is working to prevent any prospect of peace, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.On Friday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) military assistance package for Ukraine – Britain’s largest to date. The two sides also signed a ten-year security guarantee, with the UK pledging “swift and sustained” aid for Ukraine in the event of a Russian attack in future. Kiev also promised to come to Britain’s defense in the event of Russian “aggression” against the country. Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, Zakharova suggested that the deal was an indication that “Ukraine is literally being stripped of any chance to get out of the conflict through negotiations.”

As a result, Kiev is being turned into “a bargaining chip in the reckless ventures of the Anglo-Saxons,” she added, claiming that the UK wants to keep the country in conflict with Russia. She also ridiculed Ukraine’s commitment to defend the UK. “No sane person would believe that. The regime of [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky is crying in every corner that, if not one more dollar … is transferred to it, Ukraine will cease to exist. And under these conditions, Ukraine undertakes to help Britain in the event of a military threat to the kingdom.” Russia has never closed the door on peace negotiations with Kiev despite Zelensky barring talks with the current leadership in Moscow in the autumn of 2022. This was made law after four former Ukrainian regions overwhelmingly voted to become part of Russia.

Meanwhile, both Russian and Ukrainian officials have confirmed that Moscow and Kiev were close to settling the conflict in the spring of 2022, but the process was derailed by then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who convinced Ukraine to keep fighting. One of Russia’s key demands was that Ukraine stay neutral and refrain from joining military alliances. Last week – months after the first reports of his role in the talks emerged – Johnson dismissed the allegations that he had sabotaged a peace deal as “total nonsense and Russian propaganda.” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Kiev could have ended the conflict if it had ignored Johnson. Now, “Ukrainian statehood could be dealt an irreparable and very serious blow… if things carry on this way,” he warned, noting that Russian troops had regained the initiative on the battlefield after Kiev’s failed counteroffensive.

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“Wars happen when the government tells you who your enemy is. Revolution happens when you work it out for yourself.”

Britons Mock Warmongering Lecture by UK Defense Secretary (Sp.)

The United Kingdom’s Defense Secretary Grant Shapps warned of potential war with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea within the next five years in a widely mocked speech in London this week. Shapps delivered the address to promote greater investment in military spending in the UK and its European allies. “The era of the peace dividend is over,” said Shapps in remarks he also shared on his profile on the X social media platform. The so-called “peace dividend” was a proposed reinvestment of government finances toward domestic concerns after the end of the Cold War. The comment may leave many Britons wondering when exactly they enjoyed a peace dividend, as the British government has imposed a policy of economic austerity for a number of years.

The UK was also perhaps the US’ strongest ally in the so-called “War on Terror,” which led to the deaths of more than 4.5 million people across the Middle East according to some estimates. The comments come as European media is reporting on supposed “leaked documents” that allege Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to launch an attack on Germany and other NATO members in the near future. The claims were dismissed as “fake news” by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Britons greeted Shapps’ remarks with ridicule, with multiple posts by the defense minister being “ratioed” on the X platform, meaning they received more comments than likes as users piled on to jeer the jingoistic speech.

“Obviously, the best way to deter enemies and lead allies is by pouring billions of pounds into the military industrial complex,” responded one user sarcastically. “You do know we were involved in bloody and unsuccessful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?” added another. “Can you explain how British soldiers killed in Helmand or in Basra were at all beneficiaries of this so-called era of the peace dividend?” “The people need to prepare for a new era of conflict with you bastards,” wrote user John Wight, expressing widespread antipathy towards governing elites in the West. “Wars happen when the government tells you who your enemy is. Revolution happens when you work it out for yourself.”

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“According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, France has provided Kiev with €500 million ($540 million) in military aid – less than Slovakia has..”

West Cannot Let Russia Win – Macron (RT)

French president Emmanuel Macron has announced new deliveries of long-range missiles and bombs to Kiev, while insisting the West “cannot let Russia win” the conflict with Ukraine. He added that he will visit the country next month. Speaking at a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday, the French leader reiterated that his country will continue to assist Ukraine. Amid criticism that France has not been doing enough to help Kiev, Macron said Paris would send 40 SCALP air-launched cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 250km, as well as “hundreds of bombs.” Local media, citing French officials, reported that the president was referring to munitions equipped with the AASM, or HAMMER module, which transforms ordinary bombs into precision-guided weapons with a range of up to 70km. Russia has repeatedly accused Kiev of using Western-supplied long-range weapons to target civilian infrastructure.

Macron added that he would visit Ukraine in February to finalize a bilateral security agreement with Kiev, similar to the one the country recently signed with the UK. The ten-year deal between the two, which was announced last week, guarantees Britain’s “swift and sustained security assistance” to Ukraine in the event of a future Russian attack, while outlining numerous other support measures. Some of France’s NATO allies, notably Poland, have criticized it for not pulling its weight in assisting Ukraine despite being one of Europe’s most powerful economies. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, France has provided Kiev with €500 million ($540 million) in military aid – less than Slovakia has. However, lawmakers in Paris have insisted that the true scale of the assistance was actually larger, blaming flawed methodology.

Ukraine has been asking for more Western aid since the start of the conflict in February 2022, recently expressing concerns about gridlock in the US Congress over approval for additional funding. On Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba called on the West to do more in this regard, vowing that Ukrainians “would fight with shovels” once they run out of weapons. France first provided Ukraine with 50 SCALP missiles last year, following the lead of the UK, which sent similar weapons – Storm Shadows. Russia has since accused Kiev of using Western-supplied long-range missiles to target residential areas, causing numerous civilian casualties.

Zel

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Well, we’ve seen the farmers protest exactly this.

Germany To Double Defense Aid For Ukraine This Year (RT)

Germany will shell out more than €7 billion ($7.6 billion) on military aid for Ukraine this year, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said. Late last year, Bild reported that Berlin was going to double its initial figure of €4 billion, with Defense Minister Boris Pistorius understood to have demanded a bigger contribution. Speaking at a joint press conference with Luxembourg Prime Minister Luc Frieden in Berlin last Monday, the German chancellor mentioned the €7 billion contribution for Kiev in 2024. He also called on the country’s “allies in the European Union to strengthen their efforts,” lamenting that some member states had been tight-fisted in their backing of Ukraine. In a phone call with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Scholz said “Germany will support Ukraine with more than €7 billion worth of military goods in 2024,” as quoted by the chancellery.

Back in November, Bild, citing unnamed sources in the defense ministry, claimed that Germany’s original budget for 2024 had provided €4 billion in defense aid for Ukraine. According to the article, most of that sum covered projects that had already been agreed, with little resources left for any further commitments. Pistorius took issue with this, and insisted that the figure be doubled to €8 billion, the media outlet reported at the time. Berlin provided Kiev with nearly $23 billion in aid between February 2022 and November 2023, according to the Kiel Institute for World Economy (IfW), making Germany the second-largest contributor after the US. Washington confirmed last week that its assistance had “ground to a halt” due to weeks of political bickering between Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Late last year, the Biden administration asked representatives to give the green light to more than $60 billion worth of weapons and military equipment for Kiev. However, the GOP has been blocking the package, demanding that President Biden and the Democrats first agree to their plan to tighten security at the border with Mexico. Since Kiev’s summer counteroffensive fizzled out with no major gains and heavy losses, top Ukrainian officials have increasingly been pressuring their Western backers for yet more weaponry. Russia has consistently criticized Western arms shipments to Ukraine, arguing that these prolong the bloodshed unnecessarily without changing the outcome of the conflict.

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“We will put you in this situation that you will not be able to easily get out of the conflict because we have another fish to fry on the horizon..”

How US Coerces France & Germany to Fund Zelensky’s Failing Conflict (Sp.)

France and Germany announced recently they’d commit to continued support for Ukraine in 2024. As US aid has ground to a halt amidst political infighting, Washington has increasingly leaned on European powers to help make up the difference. But after the failure of Kiev’s 2023 counteroffensive, the writing is on the wall regarding the country’s slim chance of success in European capitals as well, with some savvy leaders riding to power on promises to end weapons shipments. How then is the United States managing to keep some of Western Europe’s largest economies on board for the effort? Sputnik spoke with two international affairs experts for insight. “Germany is a very interesting country,” said London-based analyst Adriel Kasonta. “Americans have a huge influence in Germany after the Second World War. And when the Americans set up their bases in Germany and decided to somehow, in one way or another, occupy Germany to stay there in order to make sure that Germany will not emerge as a superpower on the continent, they exercised a very huge influence over this country.”

“In order to meet their commitments towards the western hegemon, the United States, Germany [has] to do or show an extra effort in whatever European countries are doing,” explained the former chairman of the International Affairs Committee at the Bow Group think tank. “So if, for instance, the United States is objecting [to] the charges against Israel brought by South Africa, Germany has to be the first country to object after the United States.”“If the United States is saying that Russia is an enemy, then Germany has to be the first country in Europe to beat the same drum and beat the drum of war and to sustain the supply,” he said. Kasonta also claimed Germany benefits from the influx of Ukrainian migrants caused by the conflict, calling the country “the migrant economy.” Cheap labor from throughout the continent is crucial to Germany’s economic strength, especially as Western sanctions on Russia backfire by driving up energy costs. However, the policy does not come without consequences in the form of rising domestic opposition from the German public.

Russian affairs analyst Gilbert Doctorow also points out that the loss of Russian gas has had a “very damaging impact on the [competitiveness] of German industry and on investment in new production.”The international relations expert noted that France has a different relationship with the United States than Germany but nevertheless has its own reasons for continued support for Ukraine’s military effort.“Both are heavily invested in the Ukraine cause and in ensuring there is no Russian victory, which would be a major disaster for NATO and for the entire existing concept of European security that these countries share,” he explained. “Their control of their own domestic politics will be greatly compromised if they turn their back on the Ukraine propaganda narrative they have been promoting for the past two years,” Doctorow added. “With Europe wide parliamentary elections coming in June, they could be heavily punished at the ballot box.”

Along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron has so thoroughly committed himself to the narrative of the conflict in the Donbass as an existential battle for Europe that he would have difficulty in suddenly backing away from his country’s support. Kasonta claimed that the emergence of hostilities with Ukraine has been bad for the continent as a whole because it prevents Russia from uniting with the rest of the continent and forming a truly counter-hegemonic force.“We will use you by putting you in trouble with your closest neighbor, which is Russia,” he said, summarizing the thinking of US policymakers. “We will put you in this situation that you will not be able to easily get out of the conflict because we have another fish to fry on the horizon. And this fish to fry on the horizon is the conflict with China.”

[..] “The international community and especially people in Western Europe formed their own opinion about what is happening,” he added. “They formed the opinion about their own governments. They felt betrayed by their governments for a long time before the conflict in Ukraine started. But I think that the conflict in Ukraine is the final nail in the coffin of the current neoliberal establishment in the West.” “As I’ve said, either way, the governments in the West have failed.”

Putin
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747423612309553489

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How much longer does Duda have?

Poland’s Decision To Host German Troops Will Not Go Unanswered – Moscow (RT)

Warsaw’s announcement that it is prepared to invite German military units, in addition to already existing NATO forces in the country, demonstrates the West’s anti-russian agenda and desire to increase tensions in Europe and will not go unanswered, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. Her comments come after Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Szejn stated on Monday that Warsaw was willing to host German troops on its territory for the first time since World War II in order to further strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. It’s unclear if Germany has any actual plans for such deployments. During a press briefing on Wednesday, Zakharova recalled that there are currently about 10,000 US troops already stationed in Poland, as well as a multinational NATO combat tactical group which includes military personnel from the US, the UK, Romania and Croatia.

The spokeswoman pointed out that calls to deploy even more foreign forces to Poland were “not necessary if these countries are peace-oriented,” and can only be interpreted as a desire to further escalate tensions in Europe and prolong the collapse of pan-European security, which she said has been completely undermined by NATO. Zakharova also recalled that late last year, Germany had signed an agreement with Lithuania to increase the size of the Bundeswehr contingent in the Baltic republic to a brigade, and suggested that Polish leaders were trying not to “lag behind their neighbors in demonstrating loyalty to their older brothers from Berlin and Washington.”

“The increased activity and the strengthening of NATO’s military capabilities near the borders of Russia and the Union State of Russia and Belarus is provocative and is leading to the complete degradation of the European security architecture,” Zakharova said, stressing that “such steps will, of course, not be left without an appropriate response from the Russian side.” The spokeswoman also pondered how Poland intended to finance the potential deployment of German troops on its territory and whether it would seek compensation from Berlin, given the fact that Warsaw is already demanding $1.3 trillion in WW2 reparations from Germany. The reparations demands were put forward under the former PiS government which was ousted from power last month. Poland’s new government, led by former European Council President Donald Tusk, has stated that it will continue to seek these compensations from Berlin, but would work with Germany to find “a favorable and fair solution.”

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US coerces EU towards provoking Russia.

Brussels Starts ‘Screening’ Ukrainian Laws (RT)

Brussels has announced launching a “screening process and putting together the negotiating framework” as part of negotiations with Ukraine on its ambition to join the EU. Some member states previously said Kiev was years away from achieving its goal. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned the new phase during a Wednesday speech before the European Parliament. Von der Leyen mentioned the new phase during a speech before MEPs. She mused that when the formal accession process was launched last year, “hearts of millions of Ukrainians were filled with hope and joy” and claimed that Ukrainian lawmakers had made strides in adopting required reforms.

Earlier this week, von der Leyen met Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. His office said the screening of national legislation was discussed there and will move Ukraine towards full membership. The EU leadership resorted to unusual political maneuvering when it pushed the start of accession talks through the Council of Europe in December. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a vocal critic of Brussels’ approach to Kiev, left the meeting when the vote was cast. This allowed the EU requirement for unanimous approval to be technically met without him explicitly supporting the decision. Both Kiev and von der Leyen urged member states to ensure continued funding of the Ukrainian government with European taxpayers’ money. During the same session of the Council, Orban vetoed a Commission proposal to allocate €50 billion ($54 billion) over four years to support Kiev. Budapest wants any funding to be done on an annual basis pending review and be done outside of the joint EU budget.

EU leaders will discuss both issues during an extraordinary summit on February 1. Longterm “stable and substantial financing to Ukraine” is needed to “support the daily functioning of the state, to stabilize the economy, and to bring it closer to our Union,” the Commission head said in her address. Hungary is not alone in its skepticism about Ukraine’s candidacy. French President Emmanuel Macron, for instance, told domestic media that the EU was “very far” from accepting it as a new member, commenting on the outcome of the December summit. Meanwhile, the new government in Slovakia has sided with Hungary in its attitude towards Ukraine. Prime Minister Robert Fico called Budapest’s conditions for funding Kiev “rational and sensible” during a visit to Hungary on Tuesday.

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There seems to be a rat in here somewhere.

Judges Smack Down Jack Smith for Violating Trump’s Executive Privilege (PB)

Special Counsel Jack Smith has been excoriated by a panel of four appellate court judges for his unprecedented search of a former president’s private communications. The judges condemned Smith’s violation of executive privilege by searching former President Donald Trump’s Twitter files. “Holy sh*t: 4 judges on DC appellate court just delivered a scorching smack down of Special Counsel Jack Smith, Judge Beryl Howell, and Judge Florence Pan for search of Trump’s Twitter file,” reported Julie Kelly. “The Special Counsel’s approach obscured and bypassed any assertion of executive privilege and dodged the careful balance Congress struck in the Presidential Records Act,” she added while citing a user named @FamilyManAndrew.

The court document states: “This case turned on the First Amendment rights of a social media company, but looming in the background are consequential and novel questions about executive privilege and the balance of power between the President, Congress, and the courts.” “Seeking access to former President Donald Trump’s Twitter/X account, Special Counsel Jack Smith directed a search warrant at Twitter and obtained a nondisclosure order that prevented Twitter from informing President Trump about the search,” the judges added. “The Special Counsel’s approach obscured and dodged the careful balance Congress struck in the Presidential Records Act. The district court and this court permitted the arrangement without any consideration of the consequential executive privilege issues raised by this unprecedented search.”

“We should not have endorsed this gambit,” the judges added. “‘Any court completely in the dark as to what Presidential files contain is duty bound to respect the singularly unique role under Art. II of a President’s communications and activities’ by affording such communications a presumptive privilege,” the judges added, citing the legal precedent in United States v. Haldeman. Julie Kelly provided additional commentary on the case. “This by Judge Naomi Rao is a withering condemnation of Judge Howell (district court) and Judge Pan (*this court*) about their decisions to brazenly circumvent normal exec privilege litigation process to give Jack Smith what he demanded,” Kelly reported. “Rao continues her thrashing of former chief judge Howell—even noting Howell’s snarky comment to Twitter’s lawyer during sealed hearing as to why Twitter fought nondisclosure order,” she added. “Keep in mind, Howell and Smith also suggested Trump was a “flight risk” as reason to keep search warrant concealed from Trump.”

“And Florence Pan, who upheld Howell’s order, is the idiot who brought up ‘Seal Team Six’ hypothetical last week in appellate hearing on presidential immunity,” Kelly remarked. The Daily Mail, however, reported that the court nonetheless rejected Twitter’s appeal to have the case reheard, but the case is now free to move to the Supreme Court. “A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Special Counsel Jack Smith can have access to former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, as he investigates the former president for 2020 election interference,” the report noted. “The full U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., rejected a petition from Twitter to rehear the case after a three-judge panel ruled against the social media company in July,” it continued. The Daily Mail noted more gripes from the appellate court.

“Without a presumption for executive privilege, new questions will invariably arise, particularly because nothing in the panel’s opinion is limited to a former President,” the judges said. “What if, in the course of a criminal investigation, a special counsel sought a warrant for the incumbent President’s communications from a private email or phone provider? Under this court’s decision, executive privilege isn’t even on the table, so long as the special counsel makes a showing that a warrant and nondisclosure order are necessary to the prosecution,” they continued. “And following the Special Counsel’s roadmap, what would prevent a state prosecutor from using a search warrant and nondisclosure order to obtain presidential communications from a third-party messaging application?” the judges went on. “And how might Congress benefit from this precedent when it seeks to subpoena presidential materials from third parties in an investigation or impeachment inquiry?” Rao and the other judges asked.

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“..It’s not the government portraying Hunter as Tony Montana from “Scarface,” it’s Hunter himself. He’ll have a tough time changing that story now..”

A Gun Pouch Covered In Cocaine Shows Hunter’s Defense Is Ridiculous (Turley)

Hunter Biden’s counsel Abbe Lowell has faced a series of legal blows in his defense of Hunter Biden, but not quite as literal or lethal as what came this week in his client’s gun prosecution. After Lowell sought to dismiss the federal indictment as a trumped-up political prosecution, the Justice Department lowered the boom and revealed that Hunter’s gun was found in a pouch covered in cocaine. The disclosure is devastating for a defense that Lowell just rolled out late last year. In October, Lowell argued that Hunter had not lied on ATF Form 4473 that he was not an unlawful user of, or addicted to, narcotics. “At the time that he purchased this gun, I don’t think there’s evidence that that’s when he was suffering,” he said. It was a curious shift, since Hunter, the President, and the media have repeatedly used his addiction to forgive everything from corruption to influence peddling.

Hunter released a book that had laid the foundation of that defense and “Beautiful Things” was heralded by many in the press. Reviews gushed about “an astonishingly candid and brave book about loss, human frailty, wayward souls, and hard-fought redemption.” The image of a clear, redemptive soul is strikingly out of sync with a gun pouch that the officers who found it said was covered in coke. In the Special Counsel’s filing, the court was informed that “an FBI chemist subsequently analyzed the residue and determined that it was cocaine. To be clear, “investigators literally found drugs on the pouch where the defendant had kept his gun.” Hunter bought and possessed the Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver for 11 days between Oct. 12 and Oct. 23, 2018. That possession ended when his sister-in-law Hallie Biden was tossed into a dumpster in Wilmington, Delaware.

Hallie, the widow of Hunter’s deceased brother, had begun a sexual relationship with him and she apparently became concerned about what he might do with the gun. According to Hunter’s own memoir, that would make the window of sobriety a mere blink in time for a defense. The defense will likely challenge the admissibility of police testing due to the gun being tossed into the dumpster. Of course, Lowell can now argue that Wilmington dumpsters are so saturated with cocaine that any item would come out covered in coke. It is more likely that they will cite the break in the chain of custody as making the test unreliable and prejudicial.

What is clear is that the sobriety defense seems not so much risky as implausible. The government could argue that it should be able to use the testing as circumstantial evidence to rebut the claim or even impeach Hunter if he takes the stand (which seems unlikely). Hunter wrote about being a crack addict and alcoholic throughout this period, writing in his book that at some points he was “drinking a quart of vodka a day by yourself in a room is absolutely, completely debilitating” as was “smoking crack around the clock.” It’s not the government portraying Hunter as Tony Montana from “Scarface,” it’s Hunter himself. He’ll have a tough time changing that story now.

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Chevron Case: The 1984 Supreme Court ruled “that judges should defer to the reasonable interpretation of agencies in administering ambiguous federal laws.”

Dereliction of duty by 1984 SCOTUS. The results were easy to see comimg.

Supreme Court to Hear Potentially Historic Chevron Case (Turley)

Today, the Supreme Court will hear two of the most important cases of the term. At issue is the continued meaning (or even viability) of the Chevron doctrine, the 40-year-old doctrine granting deference to federal agencies in regulations carrying out federal laws. This massive doctrine, blamed for the dominance of the administrative state, could be brought down by the diminutive herring. The cases are Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce. In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled in Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council that judges should defer to the reasonable interpretation of agencies in administering ambiguous federal laws. That deference continued to grow in later years to the point that some of us have warned of the emergence of a type of fourth branch of government.

The court went even further in Arlington v. FCC in giving deference to agencies even in defining their own jurisdiction. In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts warned: “It would be a bit much to describe the result as ‘the very definition of tyranny,’ but the danger posed by the growing power of the administrative state cannot be dismissed.” When I testified at the confirmation hearing of Neil Gorsuch, I noted that Chervon would likely be part of his legacy given his opposition to its use. Justice Gorsuch wrote in a 2022 dissent from denial of certiorari in Buffington v. McDonough that what he called “the aggressive reading of Chevron has more or less fallen into desuetude.” He added:

“At this late hour, the whole project deserves a tombstone no one can miss. We should acknowledge forthrightly that Chevron did not undo, and could not have undone, the judicial duty to provide an independent judgment of the law’s meaning in the cases that come before the Nation’s courts.” The cases today concern federal requirements that commercial fishermen pay for at-sea monitors. Herring fishermen in New Jersey and Rhode Island are challenging the law in a case with a long list of amicus filings on both sides from groups, politicians, and businesses. The fishermen say that the monitors could put them out of business, costing up to 20 percent of their annual revenues in a business that is already marginal for profits. They argue that the government wants monitors (which they do not necessarily oppose) but lacked the funds.

The decision was made to shift the costs to the fishermen and then citing Chevron to curtail judicial review. One of the lead counsel is my friend and former colleague Columbia professor Philip Hamburger, a brilliant academic who believes that the doctrine has fundamentally distorted our tripartite constitutional system. In both lower court cases, Chevron carried the day for the agency. In addition to the New Jersey case, the court added the second, nearly identical one from Rhode Island to its calendar — presumably because Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was recused in the New Jersey matter after serving on the appeals court panel that initially reviewed it before her elevation to the Supreme Court.

Chevron
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747645275605172307

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A big task: “130 countries – representing over 98% of global gross domestic product – are exploring or developing CBDCs..”

Trump Vows To “Never Allow” A Central Bank Digital Currency (ZH)

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed to never allow the use of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), as it would “give the government absolute control over your money.” “This would be a dangerous threat to freedom – and I will stop it from coming to America. We are also going to put in place strong protections to stop banks and regulators from trying to de-bank you for your political beliefs. That will never happen while I am your president,” Trump told a crowd in Portsmouth, New Hampshire – as first reported by The National Pulse. Trump’s comments come hours after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) revealed that federal agencies have been flagging financial transactions using politically sensitive words such as “MAGA” and “Trump” in yet another egregious example of the establishment targeting political rivals.

As we’ve reported for years, CBDCs – touted by globalists such as French Central Bank deputy governor Denis Beau as “the catalyst for improving cross-border payments by enabling the build-up of a new international monetary system” – are in fact the ultimate tools of oppression. Even Fed Governors know ‘this way lies danger’: “In thinking about the implications of CBDC and privacy, we must also consider the central role that money plays in our daily lives, and the risk that a CBDC would provide not only a window into, but potentially an impediment to, the freedom Americans enjoy in choosing how money and resources are used and invested,” Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman told a Harvard Law School Program on International Financial Systems last year.

Central bank digital currencies are part of a broader “war on cash.” A cashless society is sold on the promise of providing a safe, convenient, and more secure alternative to physical cash. We’re also told it will help stop dangerous criminals who like the intractability of cash. But there is a darker side – the promise of control.The elimination of cash creates the potential for the government to track and control consumer spending. Digital economies would also make it even easier for central banks to engage in manipulative monetary policies such as negative interest rates. But they seem to be an inevitability, as according to data from the Atlantic Council CBDC Tracker, 130 countries – representing over 98% of global gross domestic product – are exploring or developing CBDCs, marking an outsized increase from just a few years ago.

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GVB Vaccines will be banned from medicine
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747421038860808465

 

 

Milei
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747635083521998960

 

 

Balloon

 

 

 

 

Best friends
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747733727076347993

 

 

Bald eagle
https://twitter.com/i/status/1747562077831512236

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 072023
 
 July 7, 2023  Posted by at 9:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  30 Responses »


Camille Pissarro Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon, Effect of Rain 1897

 

Zelensky Holding Out For NATO To Enter Ukraine Conflict – Lukashenko (TASS)
Zelensky ‘Dragging Entire Planet’ To Hell – Russian Envoy (RT)
Kiev Dragging Other Countries Into Conflict – Moscow (RT)
Lukashenko Outlines Deal With Wagner (RT)
The Capitalists Are Circling Over Ukraine (Fazi)
Zelensky Clashes With Bulgarian President Over Weapons Demands (RT)
Bulgaria Plans $650 Million Nuclear Sale To Ukraine – WSJ (RT)
Warsaw Wants ‘Gestures’ From Kiev On Massacres (RT)
South American Leaders Block Zelensky From Summit (RT)
Raiffeisenbank ‘Postpones’ Plan To Leave Russia – Reuters (RT)
SCOTUS Is Losing Legitimacy – And Only Has Itself To Blame |(Blankenship)
Meta Launches Data-Harvesting Twitter Clone, Immediately Starts Censoring (ZH)
Cocaine at White House Was Found Inside Cubby – Not West Wing Lobby (Sp.)
Lancet Study on Covid Vaccine Autopsies Finds 74% Were Caused by Vaccine (DS)

 

 

The keyboard Meta used to produce their new app, Threads.

 

 

Gal Luft

 

 

Maersheimer

 

 

The five hottest Julys in the US were 1936, 1901, 1934, 1930 and 1931.

 

 

@JimSteeleSkepti
The jet stream NOT CO2 is our weather control knob. Below is the satellite data from June 28, 2023 showing (above) the wavy behavior of the jet stream and (below) how the troughs coincide with cool temperatures and the ridges with heat domes and high temperatures. On the same dates the public was given very different weather news. Experts reported for Los Angeles under the jet stream’s trough: Records from Downtown Los Angeles, where records date back to 1877, show June 2023 being the coolest such month since 1965.

But in Texas, where the jet stream generated a heat dome, the news misleadingly reported: “Climate change has sent temperatures soaring in Texas” While along the east coast in Connecticut beneath a trough reported: “What’s behind Connecticut’s unusually cool weather in June — and what’s coming next?”

 

 

 

 

“He will insist on Ukraine being admitted to NATO so that NATO will then join the war against Russia…

Zelensky Holding Out For NATO To Enter Ukraine Conflict – Lukashenko (TASS)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky will insist that Ukraine be accepted for NATO membership and that the bloc get directly involved in the conflict, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting with representatives of foreign and Belarusian media outlets. “He (Zelensky – TASS) will insist on Ukraine being admitted to NATO so that NATO will then join the war against Russia,” he said. According to Lukashenko, Zelensky has finally realized that he will not win the war, and so has gradually started making demands on those who pushed his country into it. The Belarusian leader noted that Zelensky’s demands would, above all, concern money and new weaponry. “By July 11 (the start date of NATO’s Vilnius summit – TASS), they [the NATO countries] will be expected to come up with something to demonstrate” support for Kiev, he said.

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“American and European citizens are hardly ready to march in orderly rows to the hell into which the Zelensky government is dragging the entire planet.”

Zelensky ‘Dragging Entire Planet’ To Hell – Russian Envoy (RT)

Faced with failure on the battlefield, Ukraine’s president is trying to drag NATO into the conflict with a false-flag attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said on Thursday. “News reporters continue to pretend not to notice the obvious: from the very beginning of the special military operation, all the accusations of the Zelensky regime against us turned out to be sabotage operations of Kiev itself,” Antonov told Newsweek in an email interview. The difference now, he added, was that “this time stakes have grown substantially: Europe’s nuclear security is at risk.” Zelensky has accused Russia of planting explosives at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). Antonov called it “absurd” to accuse Russia of wanting to damage the facility which it has controlled since March 2022.

Kiev’s “criminal intentions” divert attention from “the failed counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in which the West has invested enormous resources,” to falsely accuse Russia as a ‘nuclear terrorist’ ahead of the NATO summit, and draw the US-led bloc into the conflict directly, Antonov said. “Western ruling elites should understand that the failures on the battlefield make Kiev eager to create a pretext for the deployment of the NATO contingent to Ukraine, thereby to inflate a regional conflict into World War III,” the Russian ambassador told Newsweek. “We call on the curators of the Kiev regime to exercise responsibility and exert influence on their ‘wards’ in order to avoid a large-scale catastrophe,” he added. “American and European citizens are hardly ready to march in orderly rows to the hell into which the Zelensky government is dragging the entire planet.”

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, who are on the ground at the ZNPP, reported on Wednesday that they have found no signs of any mines, either at the cooling pond – as Kiev initially claimed – or on the roofs of the reactor buildings. The IAEA observer mission was deployed to the ZNPP in September 2022. Prior to that, the station and its environs had been repeatedly targeted by Ukrainian artillery, which Kiev admitted at one point. Just before the IAEA mission arrived, Ukrainian commandos also attempted to seize the facility but were driven back. Russia has provided evidence of Ukrainian attacks to the UN, which has avoided assigning blame.

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Bulgaria: “the nation’s new pro-European government – which was formed in early June – confirmed that it would continue to provide Ukraine with military equipment. ..”

Kiev Dragging Other Countries Into Conflict – Moscow (RT)

Ukraine’s attempts to secure more foreign military aid and make other countries direct participants in the conflict will fail to change its eventual outcome, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. Speaking to reporters, Peskov was asked to comment on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s trip to Bulgaria, in which he intends to discuss further security assistance to Kiev. “The Kiev regime is doing its best to drag as many countries directly into this conflict as possible,” Peskov said, adding that some nations are already immersed in hostilities from head to toe. Peskov confirmed that he was not surprised such deliberations were taking place, noting that “fundamentally, all these discussions and their results are in no way capable of influencing the outcome of the special military operation.”

“The current frontline situation provides ample proof for that,” the spokesman added. He was referring to the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive that, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, has so far failed to gain ground despite being supported by a large amount of Western weaponry. Zelensky’s visit to Bulgaria comes after last week Sofia announced a new package of military aid to Kiev. While it stated that the new batch of military assistance would be “comparable in volume to the aid from the first package” granted last December by the caretaker government, it did not provide any details on its contents. The decision came after the nation’s new pro-European government – which was formed in early June – confirmed that it would continue to provide Ukraine with military equipment.

This stance, however, is not shared by President Rumen Radev, who earlier insisted that Bulgaria should refrain from supporting Ukraine with arms, arguing those policies would not be able to stop the conflict and would only damage the country’s economy. Sofia has been slow to provide Kiev with security assistance, largely due to opposition from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, with the gridlock removed only in December. However, a Euractiv report from October suggested that the Balkan nation emerged as one of the biggest indirect suppliers of military aid to Ukraine, having sent at least €1 billion of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine via brokers. Russia has repeatedly warned the West that weapons deliveries to Ukraine will only prolong hostilities and make it a direct participant in the conflict, without changing the outcome.

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“The experience that Wagner and its commanders have, they’ll gladly pass it on to our military…. The ones that we need: in tactics, combat operations..”

Lukashenko Outlines Deal With Wagner (RT)

Wagner troops could be used to defend Belarus after they relocate from Russia, where they took part in a failed revolt last month, President Alexander Lukashenko has said. Military personnel attached to Evgeny Prigozhin’s private military company are being transferred to the country subject to “certain conditions,” including that they can be deployed instantly if they’re needed to “defend the state,” he explained. “I’m absolutely not worried and not troubled that we’ll have a certain number of these fighters stationed here [in Belarus],” Lukashenko told journalists on Thursday. The likes of Polish President Andrzej Duda and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky have vowed that “they won’t leave Belarus alone,” Lukashenko said, adding that “he must react” to such threats as supreme commander of the armed forces.

“The experience that Wagner and its commanders have, they’ll gladly pass it on to our military…. The ones that we need: in tactics, combat operations,” he continued. Wagner was instrumental in the capture of the strategic city of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut) from Ukraine in May. The PMC has also operated in Syria and Africa. When asked about the possibility of Wagner attempting a mutiny in Belarus like they did in Russia last month, Lukashenko replied: “I don’t think that Wagner will somehow rise up and turn its guns against the Belarusian authorities and the Belarusian state. Everything happens in life. But today I don’t see such a situation.” He also provided information regarding the whereabouts of Prigozhin, saying the Wagner head is currently not in Belarus, but in Russia, and that they had talked the previous day.

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that the Russian authorities “don’t have either the ability or desire” to track Prigozhin’s movements. All of the statements made by Moscow and Belarus regarding the fate of Wagner in the wake of the failed mutiny “remain relevant,” he added. In a short message on social media earlier this week, Prigozhin claimed that the botched uprising by his men was aimed at “fighting traitors and mobilizing the society” of Russia. “I think we succeeded in many of those goals,” he claimed. The two-day insurrection by Wagner in late June was ended through talks between Lukashenko and Prigozhin in close coordination with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Moscow, it was agreed that the Wagner chief and his men who took part in the mutiny would avoid prosecution. As part of the deal, Prigozhin left for Belarus, with his men offered the choice of following him, signing contracts with the Russian military, or returning home.

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“..the IMF played a key role in precipitating the 2014 crisis: Ukraine’s then-President, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to accept IMF demands that he cut wages, slash social spending and end gas subsidies in order to integrate with the EU..”

The Capitalists Are Circling Over Ukraine (Fazi)

Two weeks ago, thousands of representatives from businesses and governments from across the world gathered in London to “support Ukraine’s recovery”. But was the gathering of all those Western corporate elites at the Ukraine Recovery Conference entirely altruistic? There are, after all, massive profit opportunities being created by the war. Last year, the Ukrainian government essentially outsourced the entire post-war “reconstruction” process to BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm. They signed an agreement to “provide advisory support for designing an investment framework, with a goal of creating opportunities for both public and private investors to participate in the future reconstruction and recovery of the Ukrainian economy”. In February, J.P. Morgan was brought on board as well.

The two banks will run the Ukraine Development Fund, which aims to raise private investment in projects potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars across sectors including tech, natural resources, agriculture and health. BlackRock and J.P. Morgan are donating their services, but, as the Financial Times noted, “the work will give them an early look at possible investments in the country”. The opportunities are significant, particularly in the agricultural sector: Ukraine is home to a quarter of the world’s chernozem (“black earth”), an extraordinarily fertile soil, and before the war it was world’s top producer of sunflower meal, oil and seed, and one of the biggest exporters of corn and wheat. From certain perspectives, the war is clearly good for business: indeed, the greater the destruction, the greater the opportunities for reconstruction.

At Davos this year, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, said he hoped the initiative would turn the country into a “beacon of capitalism”. David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, also spoke cheerily of Ukraine’s post-war future. “There is no question,” he said, “that as you rebuild, there will be good economic incentives for real return and real investment.” Seeing opportunity amid the tragedy, 500 global businesses from 42 countries have already signed the Ukraine Business Compact “to help realise its huge potential” — or secure their slice of the Ukrainian pie. “Most are standing on the sidelines for now, given the security threat,” the FT reported. “But there are already companies on the cusp of moving in — especially in the low-hanging-fruit industries of construction and materials, agricultural processing and logistics.”

Over the years, across a series of similar events, Western governments and corporate leaders have made no secret of their enthusiasm to use the post-Maidan regime — and now the war — to radically alter Ukraine’s political economy. The agenda: to open up the country and make it safe for Western capital by transforming it into a special economic zone. This neoliberal shock therapy should, in their view, include “strengthening the market economy”, “decentralisation, privatisation, reform of state-owned enterprises, land reform, state administration reform”, and “Euro-Atlantic integration”, as well as widespread “deregulation” and the slashing of “outdated labour legislation leading to complicated hiring and firing process, regulation of overtime, etc”. In short, the Washington Consensus on steroids.

This programme has, arguably, been underway since the mid-Nineties, when the West used IMF loans-cum-conditionalities to impose on Ukraine, just as it did on Russia, a series of radical free-market-minded reforms that crippled the economy. As the Indian economist Prabhat Patnaik has pointed out, the IMF played a key role in precipitating the 2014 crisis: Ukraine’s then-President, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to accept IMF demands that he cut wages, slash social spending and end gas subsidies in order to integrate with the EU, and turned instead to Russia for an alternative economic agreement. This was the backdrop for the Western-backed Euromaidan protests and, eventually, the 2014 regime change.

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So he gets to “new friend” Bulgaria and what does he do?

“Zelensky “savaged” Radev and “opened up with both barrels” to “maul” the Bulgarian president, delivering his words “with measured scorn” and “barbed irony” as Radev “took refuge” in the sheet of paper in his hands.”

Zelensky Clashes With Bulgarian President Over Weapons Demands (RT)

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev found himself lectured by his Ukrainian guest Vladimir Zelensky on Thursday, after telling him that Sofia had no weapons to spare for Kiev. As TV cameras documented their meeting, Zelensky attacked Radev for advocating a diplomatic solution to the conflict. “I do not agree to provide ammunition, especially from the Bulgarian army reserves,” Radev told Zelensky, according to one of the translations. “I continue to maintain that this conflict has no military solution and more and more weapons will not solve it.” Zelensky objected to Radev’s use of the term “conflict,” insisting that “this is definitely a war.” “God forbid, some tragedy should befall you and you should be in my place,” he added. “And if people with shared values do not help, what will you do? You would say: Putin, please grab Bulgarian territory?”

“I also want to tell you, whatever your army has in terms of munitions, it will not be enough to fight with the Russian Federation. You don’t have a bad army, your people are good but it would not be enough to fight against 160 million people. That is why it is good to give the people to defend themselves, so that the war does not come to you, to the Poles, to the Romanians – war knows no distance, I can tell you,” the Ukrainian leader told his host. “You cannot support Russia and support a balancing position because Russia wants to destroy NATO, wants to destroy Europe and the European Union; these are their goals. Do you get me?” Zelensky told Radev.

According to Politico’s description of the incident, Zelensky “savaged” Radev and “opened up with both barrels” to “maul” the Bulgarian president, delivering his words “with measured scorn” and “barbed irony” as Radev “took refuge” in the sheet of paper in his hands. The Bulgarian president eventually asked the cameras to leave the room. NATO countries have sent billions of dollars worth of weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine since February 2022, while insisting they were not directly involved in the conflict with Russia. Earlier in the day, Zelensky met with the government of PM Nikolai Denkov, who has only been in office for a month. Denkov’s cabinet supports selling weapons to Kiev. The Ukrainian delegation departed Sofia for Prague, on board a Czech air force transport.

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Ukraine has no money.

Bulgaria Plans $650 Million Nuclear Sale To Ukraine – WSJ (RT)

Bulgaria is close to completing a deal to sell two Russian-made nuclear reactors to Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Energoatom for around $650 million, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Under the terms of the proposed deal, which has yet to be completed, Sofia’s energy firm NEK would sell the Ukrainian company two reactors from Bulgaria’s unfinished Belene Nuclear Power Plant. It would be the first time that Russian-designed nuclear equipment would be used to boost Kiev’s energy output, the WSJ said. The same publication also notes that two primary methods of payment for the reactors have so far been proposed. One would see the United States provide part of the funds to Energoatom as part of an aid package for Ukraine, which would subsequently be transferred to NEK.

Another option, the WSJ reported, would be for Sofia to assume a minority shareholding in Ukraine’s Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Plant, where the reactors would be installed. Ukraine’s president Vladimir Zelensky arrived in Sofia for a one-day visit on Thursday, where it is expected that the nuclear deal will be discussed with Bulgarian officials. Also on Thursday, Sofia’s parliament passed a motion requiring its government to hold negotiations with Kiev regarding the sale of the nuclear equipment. The proposal has been slammed by pro-Moscow opposition parties in Bulgaria, who claim it was rushed through the legislature in order to obstruct any attempts to block it. The possible sale of the reactors further illustrates a European energy market in flux after the EU last year ended most of its imports of Russian oil, gas and coal in the wake of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. Prior to this, even Bulgaria relied on Russia for much of its gas supplies.

The still-uncompleted Belene Nuclear Power Plant has been the source of much controversy since the project was first undertaken in the mid-1980s. Construction at the site has been halted and resumed on several occasions, with some Western governments noting their opposition due to the proposed plant possibly being dependent on Russian fuel. It has also received objections from environmental campaigners, who claim that its location in a seismic active zone represents an unnecessary risk. For Kiev, though, the Soviet-designed Khmelnytsky power plant in Ukraine’s west already has technicians trained to operate the Russian-made reactors, potentially establishing new energy exports from Kiev to Europe. On Thursday, two pro-Russian parties in Sofia, the Socialist Party and Revival, a nationalist party, voted against approving the sale of the reactors to Kiev.

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“On last year’s day of remembrance for Polish victims, the Ukrainian leader submitted a draft law to parliament which granted special privileges to modern-day Polish citizens. They are now treated similarly to Ukrainian nationals in many regards..”

Warsaw Wants ‘Gestures’ From Kiev On Massacres (RT)

Kiev must prove it is taking steps to acknowledge the responsibility of Ukrainian nationalists for the mass murder of ethnic Poles during World War II in Volhynia, a Polish MP involved in implementing Warsaw’s European policy has said. On Sunday, Poland will mark the day of remembrance for victims of the atrocities, which the EU nation considers an act of genocide. The massacres in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia 80 years ago were intended to further the cause of an ethnically uniform Ukrainian nation state. Their perpetrators are considered national heroes by Kiev today. Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, the Polish secretary of state for European policy, said on Thursday that he expects gestures from the Ukrainian government regarding the tragedy, because “this matter is an unhealed wound.”

Polish officials “have been in contact with the Ukrainian side regarding these commemorations for months, and that’s all I can say at the moment,” the lawmaker told RMF FM radio. Last month, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski identified the dispute over the tragic events as a potential stumbling block on Ukraine’s path towards EU membership, insisting that it must be resolved. Opposition politician Tomasz Siemoniak, a former Polish defense minister, last week argued against driving Kiev into a corner to extract a formal apology. However, he added that he “would expect some gestures, at least in this practical sphere – exhumations, monuments, access.”

In 2017, the Ukrainian government prohibited the search for and exhumation of victims of the massacres on Kiev-controlled territory. The move was retaliation for the dismantling of a monument to Ukrainian nationalists in Poland, although the decision was reversed last year under President Vladimir Zelensky. On last year’s day of remembrance for Polish victims, the Ukrainian leader submitted a draft law to parliament which granted special privileges to modern-day Polish citizens. They are now treated similarly to Ukrainian nationals in many regards, including employment opportunities, access to education, and certain social benefits. Zelensky’s Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, noted at the time that he appreciated the symbolism.

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“One EU diplomat told Euractiv that the counter-proposal shows “we are not on the same wavelength” and that “it looks like they want to be perceived as equal partners.”

South American Leaders Block Zelensky From Summit (RT)

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) has purged every reference to Ukraine from the joint declaration proposed by the EU, the outlet Euractiv reported on Thursday. Their objections also forced the EU to un-invite Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky from the joint summit. The 33-member South American bloc is supposed to hold a joint summit with the EU in Brussels, starting on July 17. Spain had initially invited Zelensky to attend, but the invitation was “dropped” after “pushback” from CELAC leaders, Euractiv reported. Ahead of the meeting, the EU sent over a draft of a joint declaration, which included support for Ukraine, climate change and green energy pledges, combating corruption, and other major EU policy goals. On Tuesday, the CELAC sent back a 21-page counter-proposal, which “deleted everything about Ukraine,” one EU diplomat told Euractiv.

The counter-proposal says the EU and CELAC would “advocate for serious and constructive diplomatic solutions to the current conflict in Europe, by peaceful means, which guarantees the sovereignty and security of us all, as well as regional and international peace, stability and security,” according to Euractiv. The EU regards it as “crucial” that the declaration condemns “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine” and contains specific language about the UN Charter, sovereignty and territorial integrity, said one unnamed diplomat. Brussels also wanted an explicit commitment to Zelensky’s “peace platform,” which the CELAC has rejected. Most Latin American countries have repeatedly said they don’t wish to be dragged into a conflict they see as a primarily European problem.

One CELAC diplomat told Euractiv that the summit needs to be about more than the Ukraine conflict, and address things that matter to the region, including a stalled trade pact between the EU and Mercosur members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The CELAC has also asked Europeans to pay reparations for the damages caused by slavery. One EU diplomat told Euractiv that the counter-proposal shows “we are not on the same wavelength” and that “it looks like they want to be perceived as equal partners.” EU ministers are scheduled to discuss the counter-proposal at a meeting on Friday, and will have to decide how much they are willing to compromise, or if they will press ahead with the summit without a joint communique.

Read more …

10,000 staff in Russia.

Raiffeisenbank ‘Postpones’ Plan To Leave Russia – Reuters (RT)

Austrian banking group Raiffeisen, one of the last major Western lenders in Russia, is delaying its withdrawal despite pressure from EU regulators, Reuters reported on Thursday. The agency quoted officials in Vienna as defending long-standing ties with Moscow. Raiffeisen is viewed as playing an important role in the Russian economy, providing a lifeline for euro payments to and from the country. It is one of only two foreign banks on the Russian central bank’s list of 13 systemically important credit institutions, the other being Italy’s UniCredit. The Austrian lender announced in March its plans to spin off its Russian business by September, following mounting pressure from Western authorities.

The RBI Group, which owns the bank, has been resisting demands from the US and EU to speed up its Russia exit, while Austrian officials have expressed hope of reviving relations with Moscow after the conflict in Ukraine ends, according to Reuters. “Although Austria publicly supports Ukraine, several officials who spoke to Reuters said they were reluctant to completely sever decades-old ties with Russia, thinking it will still be possible to restore relations,” the outlet wrote.

Austria’s second-biggest credit institution has been under growing pressure from Western officials and investors in recent months. The European Central Bank (ECB) has reportedly urged the lender to quit the Russian market, while the RBI Group has faced scrutiny in the US and EU over potential breaches of Western sanctions. Under pressure from Washington, Raiffeisen has transferred data on Russian transactions to the US’ sanctions authority, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Reuters reported, citing sources. However, Austrian officials have claimed that the bank has been unfairly singled out, the news agency said, citing people familiar with the matter. A spokesperson for the Austrian Finance Ministry reportedly stated that other EU banks were also active in Russia.

RBI has not yet outlined its plans to the ECB, making an exit from Russia unlikely by September, according to Reuters. “RBI’s presence underlines the depth of relations between Austria and Russia, which maintain close ties through Russian gas pipelines and finance, with Vienna a hub for cash from Russia and its former Soviet neighbors,” the outlet noted.Raiffeisen earlier warned that the decision to exit its highly profitable business in Russia would lead to “a decline in income generated by Raiffeisen Bank Russia” and impact RBI’s customers. Senior Raiffeisen executives previously stressed that any spin-off would take four to seven months. RBI has around 2,600 corporate customers, 4 million local account holders, and 10,000 staff in Russia.

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“The question here is not whether something should be done; it is who has the authority to do it.”

SCOTUS Is Losing Legitimacy – And Only Has Itself To Blame |(Blankenship)

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) last Friday struck down President Joe Biden’s plan to provide up to $20,000 in student debt relief to Pell Grant recipients who hold federal student loans and up to $10,000 for all federal loan holders. SCOTUS argued that the HEROES Act, which was passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (not to be confused with a similarly-named law passed during the COVID-19 pandemic), did not grant the administration authority to cancel some $400 billion in debt for 43 million Americans. Chief Justice John Roberts said: “The question here is not whether something should be done; it is who has the authority to do it.” Roberts invoked the “major questions” doctrine, which holds that if an administrative agency – like the Department of Education – ought to be granted a particular power, then Congress must say so explicitly.


SCOTUS ruled that the HEROES Act did not authorize a debt-relief program and, in doing so, implicitly suggested that Congress would need to pass a bill to provide debt relief. For anyone familiar with the current composition of the Supreme Court, this ruling is not entirely surprising. The Court has made it clear that it will break significantly with the country’s traditional legal norms in order to consolidate corporate power. For example, the SCOTUS decision last year on a hypothetical carbon emissions cap broke significantly with the Court’s tradition of only settling matters that are actually an existing issue and leaving political issues to the other branches of government. This was cause enough for alarm that the rule of law no longer exists in the US of A.

Read more …

Who wants to be part of this?

Meta Launches Data-Harvesting Twitter Clone, Immediately Starts Censoring (ZH)

Meta claims that over 10 million people had signed up for its Twitter competitor, Threads, in what CEO Mark Zuckerberg framed as a “friendly” alternative to the little blue bird. “Let’s do this. Welcome to Threads,” wrote Zuckerberg in his first post on the app, which is a “text-based conversation app” where users can publish posts up to 500 characters long, and allows people to post links, photos and videos. Threads is directly linked to Meta-owned Instagram, which has over 2 billion users. The Twitter competitor is being rolled out in over 100 countries for iOS and Android. “The goal is to keep it friendly as it expands. I think it’s possible and will ultimately be the key to its success,” wrote Zuckerberg in a Wednesday post, casting the service as a more wholesome substitute to Twitter. “That’s one reason why Twitter never succeeded as much as I think it should have, and we want to do it differently.”

Meanwhile, data privacy and censorship concerns have emerged, with former Twitter owner Jack Dorsey highlighting the vast amount of data collected by Threads. As journalist Michael Shellenberger notes, Within a few hours of launching, Threads was already secretly censoring users and not offering them the right to appeal. “Meta is already too powerful. One company controls what much of the public is allowed to see. And if Threads succeeds, it will have 80% of the global market outside of Russia and China, according to one industry insider. As such, it’s reasonable to expect that Meta will censor precisely the same way the large news media corporations, including the New York Times, and corporate advertisers want it to. More censorship is what the mainstream news media, big corporations, and their celebrity pitch people have been demanding.

…additionally, Unlike Twitter, Threads collects data about “Health & Fitness,” “Financial Info,” “Sensitive Info,” and “Other Data.” What’s ‘other data’? Shellenberger further noted that within hours of launching, Threads was already secretly censoring users and not offering them the right to appeal. Threads flashed a warning after users clicked on Utley and O’Hanley’s profiles. “Are you sure you want to follow…?” asked the Threads warning. “This account has repeatedly posted false information.” -Public.substack. Other Twitter clones who have taken a shot at the king include Donald Trump’s Truth Social, Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky and Mastadon – all of which have failed to gain large enough user bases to cross into the mainstream. The new leftist echo chamber attracted celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, as well as Congressional performance artist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who hit a snag after just five minutes.

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They’ll keep changing the story.

“The younger Biden has recently been frequently seen at the White House, leading some to speculate he may have moved in.”

Cocaine at White House Was Found Inside Cubby – Not West Wing Lobby (Sp.)

A website that records police and fire radio communications revealed on Sunday that a DC firefighter was testing a substance found in the White House, later stating it tested positive for cocaine. Officials are now telling US media that the cocaine discovered at the White House on Sunday was actually found in a different place than was previously reported. According to US media, “multiple officials” have indicated the bag of cocaine was recovered from a cubby near the White House’s West Executive entrance, not a West Wing work area as multiple media outlets reported earlier in the week. Those earlier reports also cited unnamed US officials. Immediately after the substance was first found, outlets initially reported the bag was found in the White House Library. The updated location is reportedly between the foyer and a lower-level lobby, close to where the vice president’s limo and SUV are parked. It is also on the same floor as the Situation Room and dining area.

In addition to changing the location of where the bag was found, officials also shortened the expected investigation time. Reports noted the Secret Service expects to finish its report by Monday, it was previously thought it would take weeks. While White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday that the White House has “confidence” the Secret Service will “get to the bottom” of the incident, officials have been signaling to media outlets that they believe it is unlikely the culprit will be identified. Officials were quick to point out that the area is also heavily trafficked. A Secret Service official said it was found during a routine patrol. Initially, the content of the bag was unknown, causing a brief shutdown of the White House campus until it was tested.

The White House has largely stayed mum on the subject. On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre repeatedly declined to answer reporters’ questions about the illicit drug, referring to the Secret Service and insisting any comment by the White House would “get ahead” of their investigation. “This is their kind of guidance and guidelines, their world. So we are going to let them do their jobs, we are not involved in this,” she said. Jean-Pierre also stressed that the area the bag was found is heavily trafficked by visitors. US President Joe Biden and his family were away when the bag of cocaine was found. However, the commander-in-chief’s son, Hunter Biden, has a documented history of cocaine use and was at the White House on Friday night. The younger Biden has recently been frequently seen at the White House, leading some to speculate he may have moved in.

US Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has sent a letter to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, asking for more information about the investigation. A Secret Service spokesperson confirmed to media outlets that the agency has received the letter and will respond. In the letter, Cotton asked for a complete list of people who are not subject to security screening at the White House or are subject to lesser screenings, information on how the Secret Service uses K-9 screenings, details on internal audits of their security practices and “how often” the agency encountered “illegal drugs at the White House complex” in the past five years. The letter also asks if the Secret Service will arrest the perpetrator if the investigation reveals their identity.

Read more …

“Study is Removed Within 24 Hours”

“Dr. Harvey Risch, one of the study’s authors, told the Daily Sceptic he deems it “pure Government-directed censorship, even after the Missouri v. Biden injunction”.

Lancet Study on Covid Vaccine Autopsies Finds 74% Were Caused by Vaccine (DS)

A Lancet review of 325 autopsies after Covid vaccination found that 74% of the deaths were caused by the vaccine – but the study was removed within 24 hours. The paper, a pre-print that was awaiting peer-review, is written by leading cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough, Yale epidemiologist Dr. Harvey Risch and their colleagues at the Wellness Company and was published online on Wednesday on the pre-print site of the prestigious medical journal. However, less than 24 hours later, the study was removed and a note appeared stating: “This preprint has been removed by Preprints with the Lancet because the study’s conclusions are not supported by the study methodology.” While the study had not undergone any part of the peer-review process, the note implies it fell foul of “screening criteria”.

Background: The rapid development and widespread deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, combined with a high number of adverse event reports, have led to concerns over possible mechanisms of injury including systemic lipid nanoparticle (LNP) and mRNA distribution, spike protein-associated tissue damage, thrombogenicity, immune system dysfunction and carcinogenicity. The aim of this systematic review is to investigate possible causal links between COVID-19 vaccine administration and death using autopsies and post-mortem analysis.

Methods: We searched for all published autopsy and necropsy reports relating to COVID-19 vaccination up until May 18th, 2023. We initially identified 678 studies and, after screening for our inclusion criteria, included 44 papers that contained 325 autopsy cases and one necropsy case. Three physicians independently reviewed all deaths and determined whether COVID-19 vaccination was the direct cause or contributed significantly to death.

Findings: The most implicated organ system in COVID-19 vaccine-associated death was the cardiovascular system (53%), followed by the hematological system (17%), the respiratory system (8%) and multiple organ systems (7%). Three or more organ systems were affected in 21 cases. The mean time from vaccination to death was 14.3 days. Most deaths occurred within a week from last vaccine administration. A total of 240 deaths (73.9%) were independently adjudicated as directly due to or significantly contributed to by COVID-19 vaccination.

Interpretation: The consistency seen among cases in this review with known COVID-19 vaccine adverse events, their mechanisms and related excess death, coupled with autopsy confirmation and physician-led death adjudication, suggests there is a high likelihood of a causal link between COVID-19 vaccines and death in most cases. Further urgent investigation is required for the purpose of clarifying our findings.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Cone

 

 

Poso

 

 

Angel song

 

 


Charles Bridge, Prague

 

 

Bear

 

 

Polar bear

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 062023
 
 July 6, 2023  Posted by at 9:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  63 Responses »


Nicolai Dubovskov Hushing (Calm Before the Storm) 1890

 

NATO Contingent May Be Deployed To Ukraine After Vilnius Summit (TASS)
French General Forecasts Failure Of Ukrainian Counteroffensive (TASS)
White House Issues NATO Warning To Ukraine (RT)
The CIA’s Blind Spot about the Ukraine War (Arkin)
Kremlin Wars Of ‘High Threat’ Of Nuclear Sabotage By Ukraine (RT)
Russians Increasingly Believe West Wants To Destroy Their Country (Timofeev)
Medvedev Names How Ukraine Conflict Could ‘End In Days’ (RT)
China Doubted We Shot Down Hypersonic Missiles – Kiev (RT)
Kremlin Denies Media Report That Xi Warned Putin Not To Nuke Ukraine (RT)
Germany Concerned About Western Escalations in Ukraine (LI)
Federal Judge Rules Against Biden Admin Attack on Free Speech (Ramos)
China Warns Chipmaking Export Curbs ‘Just The Beginning’ (RT)
Culprit Who Brought Cocaine to White House May Never Be ID’d (Sp.)

 

 

 

 

Grossi

 

 

Biden RFK
https://twitter.com/i/status/1676632549806731265

 

 

Censorship
https://twitter.com/i/status/1676625507167657984

 

 

Arestovich
https://twitter.com/i/status/1676660447146131456

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..NATO countries “will find in the days remaining before the summit the wording that will not disappoint Ukraine..”

NATO Contingent May Be Deployed To Ukraine After Vilnius Summit (TASS)

A NATO contingent may be deployed to Ukraine after the alliance’s summit due to be held in Vilnius on July 11-12, Vladimir Rogov, leader of the We Are Together With Russia movement, told TASS on Thursday. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said earlier that Ukraine would not receive an invitation to join the alliance at the summit in Vilnius, but NATO countries “will find in the days remaining before the summit the wording that will not disappoint Ukraine” and it would not be a mere pledge to admit it to the bloc after the combat operations are over.

“Zelensky’s plans include a nuclear false flag attack to try to push through a NATO summit decision to deploy a limited contingent of occupational forces from Poland and the Baltic republics. It will be the legalization of the occupation in a format of ensuring nuclear security on the territory controlled by the Zelensky regime. Such a formula is being looked at the [Ukrainian] presidential office,” Rogov said. As for territories where such a contingent can be deployed to, Rogov noted that Poland is interested in Western Ukrainian regions. Ahead of the NATO summit, Kiev has intensified rhetoric about its striving to join NATO. However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Ukraine cannot join the alliance as long as it is in a state of an armed conflict.

According to the NATO chief, the Vilnius summit will bring Ukraine closer to the alliance and it plans to set up a Ukraine-NATO Council during the summit. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said that the non-invitation to join NATO demotivates the Ukrainian army. His office warned that Zelensky would not go to the summit if the NATO leaders “don’t demonstrate courage” on the issue of Ukraine’s membership. Meanwhile, Russian presidential press secretary said earlier that Kiev’s striving for NATO membership demonstrate its unwillingness and inability to settle the conflict at the negotiating table. He stressed that Russia will continue efforts to ensure its security, which excludes NATO’s expansion by means of admitting Ukraine and thus approaching the Russian border.

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“Ukraine’s greatest vulnerability is its people, or rather a lack of them. Its best fighters have long been dead.”

French General Forecasts Failure Of Ukrainian Counteroffensive (TASS)

Ukraine’s counteroffensive is doomed to fail as the Russian military has the edge over its adversary in all respects, Jean-Bernard Pinatel, a retired French general and the owner of the company called LexisNexis Business Information Solutions, said in a video interview provided to TASS. “I absolutely do not believe in the success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Russians have a significant air superiority. But they also have an advantage on the ground. Even the Ukrainians themselves admit that they fire 4,000 shells a day, while Russia fires 20,000,” said Pinatel, who specializes in Russia and the Middle East. The general also said that the ratio of losses in equipment and personnel is 5 to 1 in favor of Russia. According to Pinatel, the Kiev regime is severely hampered by its lack of human resources.

“What we are witnessing today is a confrontation between a nuclear power and a country that, of course, is sponsored by the Anglo-Saxons, but which does not have significant technical and human potential,” he said. “And I don’t think that the biggest disadvantage Ukraine faces is so much the amount of military equipment, which, by the way, is not always of high quality, because the West supplies Kiev with outdated equipment. Ukraine’s greatest vulnerability is its people, or rather a lack of them. Its best fighters have long been dead.” The general said he believes that, provided NATO doesn’t directly step into the conflict, Kiev’s defeat is only a matter of time. The West’s policy of prolonging the Ukrainian conflict “is only leading to more casualties,” Pinatel said. “Conversations about helping Ukraine until it wins are completely stupid and nonsensical. It will achieve nothing and will only increase the number of deaths among young Ukrainians and Russians,” he said. However, the US and Europe do not care, the retired French general said, because their main goal is not the victory of Ukraine, but the weakening of Russia. Western sanctions, according to Pinatel, have done the most damage to Europe itself.

“Europe cannot do without Russian gas,” he pointed out. “The global gas market, the European market in particular, cannot do without Russian supplies. Before the crisis, Europe used to consume 200 billion cubic meters of Russian gas, while North America supplied only 2 billion. Who are you going to replace Russia with?” Europe is now facing an economic crisis, the general said. “By the winter of 2022, Germany had managed to fill its gas storage facilities, which lasted it through the cold season, but it will not be enough for the next year,” he said. “And many German companies have already closed their doors because of high gas prices. If Germany goes into recession, all of Europe, and France in particular, will be in trouble, because the Germans are our main economic partners.” Russia, on the contrary, is flourishing and developing economically, working hand in hand with Africa and Asia and developing partnerships, according to Pintel.

“This is because Russia is independent of the rest of the world in every way, be it raw materials, grain or energy, but the capitalist world cannot do without the resources supplied by Russia,” he explained. “This war has weakened Europe more than Russia.” European leaders, the retired general went on to say, expected “the whole world to impose sanctions against Russia, but in reality, only about thirty countries have done so, and all the rest are using this opportunity to strengthen the partnership with Moscow.” He said strife is rampant in the bloc of countries that have joined forces against Russia. “The Americans undoubtedly want to hobble economic cooperation between Europe and Russia, which would take away their domination on the international stage. The US strategy is to create a new Berlin Wall between Russia and Europe, but now that wall runs through Ukraine,” Pinatel said.

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Cold feet?

White House Issues NATO Warning To Ukraine (RT)

Ukraine must implement “reforms” before it can even consider joining the NATO bloc, the White House has said, suggesting that even when the conflict with Moscow is resolved, membership for Kiev could still be far off as it struggles to meet the organization’s standards. Asked whether Ukraine would be offered a “clear pathway to NATO membership” at an upcoming summit in Lithuania next week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Kiev still had many hurdles to clear before it could seriously think about becoming a member. “The president has said this over and over again: Ukraine would have to make reforms to meet the same standards as any NATO country before they join,” she said at a Wednesday briefing.

And while Washington remains committed to NATO’s open door policy, she noted that “any decision” on NATO expansion must be supported by all members of the bloc. While Jean-Pierre did not specify the reforms Kiev would need to make, Biden previously stated that the military bloc would not “create special conditions for Ukraine to join,” arguing it would be required to meet the same criteria as any other nation seeking membership. “I think they have done everything to demonstrate the ability [of] military coordination, but there is a whole question, is their system safe, and is it not corrupt?” the president said last month. He went on to ask whether it meets “all the standards that any other country in NATO meets?”

Despite those prior comments, during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg last month, the two leaders reportedly discussed a scheme to simplify the accession process for Ukraine. Under Stoltenberg’s plan, the country would not be made to complete a “membership action plan” typically required of applicants. While other Eastern European states went through the procedure before being admitted, NATO’s most recent member, Finland, was spared the process after applying to join last year. Multiple US media reports have stated that Biden appeared “open” to the idea, though some outlets, like the New York Times, suggested Washington would seek an alternative to full NATO membership for Kiev, instead proposing an ‘Israel model’ based on the US relationship with the Jewish state.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has opposed any “substitute for NATO” and reportedly even told Western partners at some point that he would not attend the upcoming NATO summit unless the bloc offered “concrete” guarantees or a roadmap to full membership. NATO’s official position on Ukrainian membership remains unchanged since 2008, when it declared that Ukraine “will become a member” at an unspecified point in the future. While Kiev formally applied to join last September, little progress has been made since. Some US and allied officials have suggested the issue should be resolved only after the conflict with Russia is over, as Ukraine joining NATO would place the bloc at war with Russia. Moscow has repeatedly said that it views NATO’s expansions to the east as a threat to its security, and has listed Ukraine’s neutrality as one of the conditions for any lasting peace between the two countries.

Read more …

Newsweek.

“Is the CIA on the ground inside Ukraine?” he asks rhetorically. “Yes, but it’s also not nefarious.”

The CIA’s Blind Spot about the Ukraine War (Arkin)

One of the biggest secrets of the Ukraine war is how much the CIA doesn’t know. The Agency is as uncertain about Volodymyr Zelensky’s thinking and intentions as it is about Vladimir Putin’s. And as the Russian leader faces his biggest challenge in the aftermath of a failed mutiny, the Agency is straining to understand what the two sides will do—because President Joe Biden has determined that the United States (and Kyiv) will not undertake any actions that might threaten Russia itself or the survival of the Russian state, lest Putin escalate the conflict and engulf all of Europe in a new World War. In exchange, it expects that the Kremlin won’t escalate the war beyond Ukraine or resort to the use of nuclear weapons. America’s stance is under threat because the near-mutiny by Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, raises the question as to whether Moscow has run out of options.

“Putin’s back is really against the wall” a senior defense intelligence official tells Newsweek, warning that while the CIA fully grasps how much Russia is stuck in Ukraine, it is very much in the dark with regard to what Putin might do about it. With talk of Russian nuclear weapons possibly being deployed to Belarus, and in light of Prigozhin’s public exposure of the terrible costs of fighting, something that Moscow has suppressed, the official says that it is a particularly delicate moment. “What is happening off the battlefield is now most important,” says the official, who was granted anonymity in order to speak candidly. “Both sides pledge to limit their actions, but it falls to the United States to enforce those pledges. This all hinges on the quality of our intelligence.”

“There is a clandestine war, with clandestine rules, underlying all of what is going on in Ukraine,” says a Biden administration senior intelligence official who also spoke with Newsweek. The official, who is directly involved in Ukraine policy planning, requested anonymity to discuss highly classified matters. The official (and numerous other national security officials who spoke to Newsweek) say that Washington and Moscow have decades of experience crafting these clandestine rules, necessitating that the CIA play an outsize role: as primary spy, as negotiator, as supplier of intelligence, as logistician, as wrangler of a network of sensitive NATO relations and perhaps most important of all, as the agency trying to ensure the war does not further spin out of control.

“Don’t underestimate the Biden administration’s priority to keep Americans out of harm’s way and reassure Russia that it doesn’t need to escalate,” the senior intelligence officer says. “Is the CIA on the ground inside Ukraine?” he asks rhetorically. “Yes, but it’s also not nefarious.”

Read more …

The threat is still alive.

Kremlin Wars Of ‘High Threat’ Of Nuclear Sabotage By Ukraine (RT)

A possible Ukrainian attempt to sabotage the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant in Russia’s Zaporozhye Region would lead to “catastrophic” results, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has claimed. The situation around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has been under Russian control since March 2022, remains “tense,” Peskov told journalists on Wednesday. “Really, there’s a high threat of sabotage by the Kiev regime; sabotage that might lead to catastrophic results,” Peskov warned. According to the spokesman, an attack on the facility cannot be ruled out because the Ukrainian leadership “has many times shown its readiness to stop at nothing” to achieve its goals. Peskov said one example was the collapse of the Russian-controlled Kakhovka dam in early June, which Moscow has blamed on Kiev. The incident had “horrific consequences,” the Kremlin spokesman noted.

The destruction of the dam led to flooding on both banks of the Dnieper River and caused multiple deaths. Ukraine has claimed that the incident was caused by Russia. “All measures are being implemented to resist the threat [to the Zaporozhye nuclear plant],” Peskov added. Renat Karchaa, a senior official at Russian nuclear power plant operator Rosenergoatom, warned on Tuesday that Kiev was planning to strike the Zaporozhye facility with long-range high-precision munitions and kamikaze drones. Intelligence obtained by Rosenergoatom suggests that Kiev could also attempt to target the plant with a Soviet-made Tochka-U tactical ballistic missile loaded with radioactive waste, Karchaa claimed. Moscow and Kiev have repeatedly accused each other of shelling the Zaporozhye plant throughout their conflict.

The Russian Defense Ministry also claimed to have repelled several attempts to retake the station by Ukrainian assault units, which reportedly approached the facility on boats via the now-drained Kakhovka reservoir. The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant has returned to the spotlight in recent weeks after senior officials in Kiev claimed that Russia was preparing a nuclear incident at the facility. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky alleged that Moscow wanted to cause a “radiation leak” at the plant, while presidential aide Mikhail Podoliak accused the Russian military of mining the plant’s cooling pond. Peskov previously rejected those claims as “yet another lie.” The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, recently visited the facility and said that “no mines were observed at the site” during his inspection.

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“The goals are believed to be defeating Russia, wrecking its military potential, restructuring its statehood, reshaping its identity and possibly eliminating it as a state, in its current form..”

Russians Increasingly Believe West Wants To Destroy Their Country (Timofeev)

There is an increasingly widespread view in Russia that the goal of the US – and the “collective West” it leads – is to achieve a “final solution” to the “Russian question.” The goals are believed to be defeating Russia, wrecking its military potential, restructuring its statehood, reshaping its identity and possibly eliminating it as a state, in its current form. For a long time, this view remained on the periphery of foreign policy thinking. However, much has changed in the past year and a half. Today, this perception of the West’s goals has gone mainstream. Indeed, it seems quite rational, when placed into the proper context. Meanwhile, Russia itself is pursuing a similar sort of policy towards the Ukrainian state, the existence of which in its former form and borders is perceived in Moscow as a key security challenge.

The historical experience of the last century shows that inflicting total defeat on an enemy and then rebuilding its statehood is the rule rather than the exception in foreign policy practice. There is an important difference to the conflicts of the 18th and 19th centuries, when military defeat of the enemy was seen as a way of extracting concessions from it, but not of rebuilding its very foundations. The experiences of the 20th and 21st centuries are not always linear, but their repetition is obvious. Germany’s defeat in the First World War led to a palpable reshaping of its statehood, determined more by internal contradictions, which grew from the military loss. Germany’s surrender after the Second World War had far more radical consequences. The country was divided, stripped of its foreign policy autonomy and almost completely rebuilt.

Military defeat and subsequent occupation also led to the reformatting of the other large powers, Japan and Italy. The Soviet Union, as a victorious country, was a key player in resolving the “German question.” The USSR was also active in establishing socialist regimes in countries liberated from the Nazi occupation. The subsequent Cold War made this redrawing more difficult. Every attempt was met with resistance from the West. Sometimes the battle ended in a draw, as in Korea. Sometimes the Soviet Union got the upper hand – it helped to inflict a painful defeat on the US in Vietnam, for example. In other situations, the US was successful, for example in supporting anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The collapse of the Soviet Union gave Washington a free hand. Despite Moscow’s rhetoric that the Cold War had ended in victory for both sides, the reality was different.

Many of the former socialist countries were quickly integrated into Euro-Atlantic structures with the active help of new local elites and broad public support. Russia itself loudly proclaimed a desire to return to the ‘civilized world.’ The US-led collective West was given carte blanche to reshape a vast area, which they not unreasonably saw as a result of their bloodless victory over the Soviet Union.

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“..if Washington and its allies stopped the deliveries..”

Medvedev Names How Ukraine Conflict Could ‘End In Days’ (RT)

The ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev has been dragging on for so long because of continued Western arms shipments to Ukraine, Russian former president Dmitry Medvedev told TASS on Wednesday. “If NATO, primarily the US and its vassals, had stopped supplying weapons and munitions to Ukraine, the [Russian] special military operation would have ended in mere months,” Medvedev told the news agency. It can still end “in days,” however, if Washington and its allies stopped the deliveries, he added. Medvedev said that any war, regardless of its scale, could end “very quickly … if a peace treaty is signed or if one does what the Americans did in 1945, by using their nuclear weapons and bombing Japanese cities.” The US strikes did stop hostilities at the time, though he noted that “the price was 300,000 civilian lives.”


The US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki claimed up to 80,000 lives each. The long-term consequences of the attacks, including radioactive contamination, might have brought the estimated number of victims up to 166,000 in Hiroshima and 140,000 in Nagasaki. Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy head of the Russian Security Council, warned that Russia would prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, even if it meant engaging in a “permanent” conflict. Moscow has demanded its security concerns be respected when it comes to NATO expansion, he said, adding that “Russia’s existence is at stake” and it would not hesitate to stop this threat “one way or another.” The former president also spoke against US nuclear weapons deployment to Poland, warning that it could trigger a nuclear conflict. Earlier, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called on NATO to include Warsaw in the bloc’s Nuclear Sharing Program.

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Not just China.

China Doubted We Shot Down Hypersonic Missiles – Kiev (RT)

When Kiev announced shooting down a Russian hypersonic missile, people in Washington were exhilarated, but a visiting Chinese official didn’t believe the claim and left before he could be shown proof, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov. The reactions were described by The Financial Times on Wednesday, based on the minister’s account. Reznikov’s department claimed it had intercepted a Russian Kinzhal missile for the first time in May, using a US-made Patriot anti-missile system. Kiev has since reported downing over a dozen such weapons, which Moscow mocked as not corresponding to reality. The Ukrainian official declared that his nation had proven that hypersonic weapons can be defended against, showcasing in the process the advanced capability of NATO systems.

He claimed that when he delivered the news of the first success to a US official, the response was: “Fantastic!” But Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, who was visiting Kiev in mid-May, was skeptical about Kiev’s ability to down Kinzhals, Reznikov explained. “I proposed that if there are doubts, we are ready to provide proof,” Reznikov told the newspaper, adding that Li left the country without viewing the purported evidence. The Kinzhal is an air-launched hypersonic missile, which is believed to be derived from the quasi-ballistic ground-launched Iskander projectile. The Russian forces have used both types of weapons against military targets in Ukraine, though details about hypersonic strikes have been scarce.

In May, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the number of Kinzhal missiles, which Kiev claimed to have intercepted, was larger than the number actually fired by the Russian side. Some military experts have suggested that Ukrainian officials were misrepresenting debris from Iskander missiles as coming from Kinzhals, when presenting them as evidence of successful intercepts. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has claimed that the Patriot system’s capability made it uniquely important for his country’s defense. He told The Wall Street Journal last month that Ukraine needed 50 batteries – which cost an estimated $1.1 billion apiece – for sufficient protection.

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The FT publishes some weird pieces these days.

Kremlin Denies Media Report That Xi Warned Putin Not To Nuke Ukraine (RT)

The Kremlin has dismissed “fictitious” claims in the Western press that Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, not to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The claim was reported by The Financial Times, based on anonymous diplomatic sources. “I cannot confirm that,” Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Wednesday, when asked about the FT article. He suggested that official statements regarding Xi’s “important” visit to Moscow in March were “sufficient” to make conclusions about its nature. According to FT, Chinese officials have “privately taken credit for convincing the Russian president to back down from his veiled threats of using a nuclear weapon against Ukraine.”

The newspaper alleged that “deterring Putin” from an atomic strike was a key part in Beijing’s diplomatic strategy regarding Europe. The Chinese government has blamed Western policies, including the expansion of NATO in Europe, for the Ukraine conflict, rejecting the Western view that Russia’s military operation was “unprovoked”. It has also publicly urged Moscow not to use its nuclear capability. The purported warning from Xi to Putin gave supporters of Kiev confidence that “China is backing up its public rhetoric behind closed doors,” the FT article said. Moscow has called the Ukraine conflict part of a wider Western proxy war waged against Russia. Putin, as well as other senior Russian officials, have repeatedly cited the Russian nuclear doctrine, which allows the use of such weapons to prevent an existential threat to the Russian state.

Western officials and media outlets have framed those remarks as indicating a possible nuclear attack against Ukrainian forces. However, Putin has stressed that he is against the idea of a limited nuclear strike for any purpose other than saving the nation from destruction.“First of all, we have no need for that. Second, the very speculation about this is a factor that lowers the threshold for the use of the weapon,” he explained during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last month. The Russian leader added that his recent decision to station some Russian tactical weapons on the territory of ally Belarus was meant as deterrence against “those who think they can inflict a strategic defeat on us,” referring to the stated US goal in Ukraine.

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“..we were once again in agreement that the Alliance must never become a party to a conflict..”

Germany Concerned About Western Escalations in Ukraine (LI)

Top German officials have voiced anxiety regarding Western escalations in Ukraine, signaling that Berlin will push back against the most provocative proposals. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany was reluctant to send longer-range weapons to Ukraine over concerns the arms will be used to attack Russian territory. London has provided Kiev with Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missiles which have a range of more than 155 miles. According to recent reporting, the White House is also closing in on a decision to provide Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), munitions capable of striking targets roughly 200 miles away. Last month, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned the West that Ukraine using long-range weapons to attack the Crimean Peninsula could lead to a direct war between Moscow and NATO.

“The use of these missiles outside the zone of our special military operation would mean that the United States and Britain would be fully dragged into the conflict and would entail immediate strikes on decision-making centers in Ukraine,” he said. Berlin is now receiving requests from Kiev to provide Taurus KEPD 350 missiles, an air-launched missile with a range of over 300 miles. Scholz said Germany is considering the request. = Germany has faced intense pressure throughout the war due to Berlin’s occasional reluctance to provide Kiev with all requested aid. However, officials have repeatedly caved to Kiev’s demands. In one example, Germany resisted sending its Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but quickly reversed course after Poland, the UK and the US pledged to send their own advanced tanks. Dozens of its Leopard 2s were ultimately provided.

Some of the German tanks have already been destroyed on the battlefield and Kiev is asking Berlin for replacements. Meanwhile, the American Abrams tanks have not yet arrived in the country due, in part, to a lengthy refurbishment process. Berlin has also pushed back on plans to give Ukraine an official timeline for NATO membership at an alliance summit in Vilnius next week. In an interview published in Rzeczpospolita on Monday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the military bloc could not resolve the issue until the conclusion of the war with Russia. “In my recent meetings with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, we were once again in agreement that the Alliance must never become a party to a conflict,” he said. “Therefore, we will not be able to answer the question of Ukraine’s accession to NATO as long as the war continues in Ukraine.” Pistorius went on to explain that Germany is committed to supporting Ukraine’s war effort for as long as the conflict continues, noting that Berlin would deliver dozens of older Leopard 1 tanks in the coming weeks.

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“..the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’”

Federal Judge Rules Against Biden Admin Attack on Free Speech (Ramos)

Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled that several federal agencies and officials from the Biden administration cannot collaborate with social media companies in restricting certain speech. Doughty wrote in his introduction to the ruling, “If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.” The ruling states officials and agencies from the Biden administration are restrained from communicating with social media firms “for the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech posted on social-media platforms.”

The ruling does not restrict the government from speaking to companies regarding criminal activity, national security threats, voter suppression, foreign attempts to influence elections and other malicious activity. The lawsuit brings up issues such as COVID-19 health policies, the origins of the pandemic, election security, Hunter Biden’s laptop and others as those targeted for suppression. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey described the case as the “most important First Amendment lawsuit in a generation.” Doughty wrote in the ruling, “The Plaintiffs have presented substantial evidence in support of their claims that they were the victims of a far-reaching and widespread censorship campaign,” and, “This court finds that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment free speech claim against the Defendants.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement, “The evidence in our case is shocking and offensive with senior federal officials deciding that they could dictate what Americans can and cannot say on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms about COVID-19, elections, criticism of the government, and more.” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Director of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and other State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials were named in the injunction. Doughty also likened the evidence to a dystopian scenario. Specifically, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’”

Biden Big Tech

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..gallium and germanium..

China Warns Chipmaking Export Curbs ‘Just The Beginning’ (RT)

China’s export controls on key components for computer chip manufacturing are “just the beginning,” an influential trade policy adviser warned on Wednesday. Earlier this week China announced that starting next month, special licenses will be required to export gallium and germanium, two key metals used to make computer chips. Speaking to the China Daily newspaper, former Vice Commerce Minister Wei Jianguo said that should Washington place tougher technology restrictions on Beijing, the government will escalate the countermeasures. The decision to restrict the export of industrial products and materials containing gallium and germanium was made after thoughtful consideration, he added. The comments follow a report by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the US plans to restrict China’s access to cloud computing to close a loophole that allows Chinese artificial intelligence firms to bypass the current chip export control rules.


Cloud services allow customers to gain powerful computing capabilities without buying advanced equipment, such as chips. Washington and Beijing have been involved in a dispute over semiconductors and other advanced technologies for several months. Reuters reported in May that US officials were considering tightening a rule designed to slow the flow of artificial intelligence chips to China by clamping down on the amount of computing power the chips can have. Last October, Washington introduced export control rules, effectively cutting China off from certain semiconductor chips made with US equipment. China retaliated in May, by banning memory chips manufactured by Micron, the biggest US producer. This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “stable and smooth functioning of regional and industrial supply chains” ahead of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to Beijing to discuss economic issues between the two nations.

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Ha ha ha. We have no idea!

Maybe Hunter can invite Zelensky for a slumber party.

Culprit Who Brought Cocaine to White House May Never Be ID’d (Sp.)

Sunday evening, a small baggie of white powder was found in the West Wing, prompting a brief shutdown of the White House campus. Preliminary tests determined the substance was cocaine, allowing the White House to be reopened and the bag shipped out for further analysis. As the US Secret Service undertakes its investigation into who brought a bag of cocaine to the White House, an unnamed law enforcement official has told US media the culprit may never be found. On Tuesday, lab results confirmed that the substance was cocaine. While the Secret Service and the White House have refused to say exactly where the baggie was found, both have said it was located at a heavily trafficked area. The Secret Service described it as a “work area of the West Wing” while White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it was in an area frequented by guests and noted tours had taken place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Where this was discovered is a heavily traveled area, where many […] West Wing visitors come through this particular area,” Jean-Pierre said during Wednesday’s White House briefing. “I just don’t have anything more to share, it is under investigation by the Secret Service, this is in their purview.” Jean-Pierre added the White House has “confidence the Secret Service will get to the bottom of this.” US media outlets have reported on an unnamed official familiar with the investigation who said it is possible the investigation may not discover who brought the illicit substance into the White House because of the area’s high traffic between government officials and tourists. “It’s gonna be very difficult for us to do that because of where it was,” the official reportedly said. The Secret Service said they are reviewing visitor logs and video cameras as part of the investigation. A reporter noted on Wednesday that the baggie remains at the lab for additional tests, including for fingerprints and DNA.

Jean-Pierre refused to answer a reporter’s question about whether US President Joe Biden wanted the culprit to be prosecuted if the investigation reveals the source of the cocaine. “I am just not going to get into hypotheticals from here, let’s let the Secret Service do their job, it’s under their purview,” she said. Biden and his family were not in the White House when the cocaine was discovered – that includes the president’s son Hunter Biden, who at the time was vacationing at Camp David with his father and first lady Jill Biden. However, Hunter Biden, who has a well-documented history of cocaine use, including multiple instances that were caught on video, was at the White House on Friday. At the Wednesday briefing, Jean-Pierre noted all visitors to the White House have to go through security checkpoints; however, she was not asked by reporters and did not clarify if that applies to members of the first family.

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Crowned pigeon
https://twitter.com/i/status/1676578997411500034

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feb 102023
 
 February 10, 2023  Posted by at 9:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  74 Responses »


René Magritte L’avenir (the future) 1936

 

The “Not-Ultimatum” Revisited (Observer R)
Russia Didn’t Start Hostilities In Ukraine, But Tries To End Them – Putin (TASS)
Ukraine Is Taking Care Of Europe – Zelensky (RT)
Zelensky Takes Credit For Derailing Minsk Agreements (RT)
Zelensky Reveals What He Does To Scholz (RT)
Ukraine’s Entry To NATO Would Spell World War – Hungary (TASS)
Much-Hyped Tanks For Ukraine In Short Supply – WSJ (RT)
UK Not Sending Fighter Jets To Ukraine (RT)
Russia-Iran Dump The Dollar And Bust US Sanctions (Escobar)
US Military At European Base Provide GPS-Targeting For Ukrainian Rockets (PM)
EU’s Aid For Ukraine Is Effectively Public Aid For Itself (RMX)
Details Emerge On Chinese ‘Spy Balloon’ – WSJ (RT)
GOP-Led House Panels Shift Gears, Go Full Throttle for Domestic Energy Production (ET)
Sy Hersh and The Way We Live Now (Craig Murray)
Rep. Higgins Tells Twitter Executives to Prepare to be Arrested (TP)

 

 

 

 

Laying the Groundwork For the Loss of Ukraine

 

 

 

 

Hudson

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..Ukraine was not actually in charge of its own destiny, but rather, the war was being controlled by the NATO powers..”

The “Not-Ultimatum” Revisited (Observer R)

Slightly over a year ago, in December 2021, Russia published a proposal for setting up a new security architecture for Europe. Russia also warned of unspecified serious consequences if this proposal was not acted upon. The United States and other Western countries either ignored the Russian offer, or more or less laughed at it. Russia wanted the line of NATO forces moved back to where it was when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. This meant getting NATO out of the former Eastern European countries, including Ukraine. The Russian proposal was widely termed the “Not-Ultimatum” for ease of discussion, since the Russians were polite about it, but at the same time threatening action. Analysts were busy trying to figure what exactly Russia might do, and offered many different scenarios.

[..] The proposal by Russia for negotiating a new security architecture for Europe was rejected by the US. That was extremely unfortunate for everyone, as it could have prevented the subsequent war in Ukraine. Then, following the Russian SMO, Ukraine and Russia sat down to negotiate in Turkey and came to some sort of agreement. Presumably along the lines of the Minsk Accords. Unfortunately again, this agreement was scuttled when the British Prime Minister flew to Ukraine and had a talk with the officials there. This action indicated that Ukraine was not actually in charge of its own destiny, but rather, the war was being controlled by the NATO powers.

The powers in the West clearly thought that they would come out on top in the war and that this would somehow preserve the US hegemony. Unfortunately yet again, the West guessed wrong and made what will likely be viewed in hindsight as a catastrophic decision. Russia cannot be defeated in a conventional war in Eurasia, and presumably the military experts and intelligence folks in the West should have been aware of this fact. Furthermore, the sanctions against Russia were counterproductive. Russia was already highly self-sufficient and the sanctions greatly sped up import substitution. The dream of a regime change in Russia was likewise a case of hope over reality.

Additionally, by refusing diplomacy, the US turned a problem in Eastern Europe into a de facto WWIII. Now the negotiations over a new security architecture will have to cover the entire globe. This will be a much more difficult undertaking and a problematical outcome for the West. The West is not in a military, nor economic, nor social position to be very successful in negotiations with the East and South. Even having negotiations is problematical, since the East and South view the West as being “not agreement capable.” Thus it will dawn sooner or later on the Western leaders that they bit off more than they could chew.

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“This is when they started the war. It lasted for eight years and aimed to exterminate the people who live there and feel themselves tied to Russia..”

Russia Didn’t Start Hostilities In Ukraine, But Tries To End Them – Putin (TASS)

Russia did not begin hostilities in Ukraine, but it is trying to stop them, as hostilities have been going on since 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with aviation industry representatives Thursday. “I would like to say it one more time: we did not start any hostilities, we are trying to end them. These hostilities were started by Ukrainian nationalists and those who supported them in 2014, when the coup took place; that is how it all began, the events in Crimea and in Donbass followed after that,” the head of state said.


Putin pointed out that Kiev started the war against Donbass in 2014, and, in violation of all agreements and obligations, effectively blockaded the Donbass regions. “Heavy military vehicles were used against them, major military operations were carried out against them,” the head of state noted. “This is when they started the war. It lasted for eight years and aimed to exterminate the people who live there and feel themselves tied to Russia, Russian culture and the Russian language by blood. How long could we have kept tolerating it?” The President also thanked the participants of the meeting for their support of the special military operation.

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The images of Europe’s “leaders” are making me sick. They are followers.

Ukraine Is Taking Care Of Europe – Zelensky (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has claimed to EU lawmakers that Moscow poses to a threat to the entire continent. The leader was speaking at the European Parliament on Thursday as part of a tour to rally support and weaponry to prop up Ukraine amid the conflict with Russia. Starting his address with the slogan ‘Glory to Ukraine’, which is commonly associated with World War II-era Nazi collaborators but is widely used in present-day Ukraine, Zelensky reiterated Kiev’s aspirations to join the EU, describing it as “home.” “We want to come home to Europe,” the Ukrainian leader told the assembled lawmakers in Brussels. “I’m here in order to defend our people’s way home.” Zelensky went on to describe Russia as “the most anti-European force” in the world, alleging that Moscow is intent on destroying the “European way of life” for all 27 members of the EU.

“This is our Europe, these are our rules, this is our way of life,” Zelensky added, earning applause from the audience. “Europe will always be, and remain Europe as long as we are together and as long as we take care of our Europe, as we take care of the European way of life.” Joining the EU has been a significant talking point for pro-Western Ukrainian politicians for decades. Yet little to no actual progress had been made along that path prior to hostilities breaking out between Moscow and Kiev last February. The conflict has greatly sped up the accession process, with Ukraine receiving EU candidate status in June. Zelensky’s European tour began a day earlier when he traveled to the UK, meeting the leaders and lawmakers in London. The president inspected the ongoing training of Ukrainian troops on British soil and secured additional support from the UK.

“I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future,” said a statement from UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after he met Zelensky. Ukraine has consistently increased its demands for advanced weaponry from the West, including tanks, drones, fighter jets, and longer-range missiles. Kiev has insisted that the hardware is needed to drive Russian forces out of territories that Ukraine claims as its own. Moscow has repeatedly urged the West to stop “pumping” Ukraine with weaponry, maintaining that continuous military aid will only prolong the hostilities, rather than change their ultimate outcome.

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“Ukraine, Germany, and France “lied to the people of Donbass, as they had a terrible fate planned for them, which Russia prevented..”

Zelensky Takes Credit For Derailing Minsk Agreements (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky personally refused to implement the 2015 Minsk agreements – a roadmap for peace in the east of the country, which was co-sponsored by Germany and France. He made the admission during an interview with Der Spiegel published on Thursday as he continues his tour across Europe. Zelensky said he viewed the agreements as a “concession” on Ukraine’s part, and never once actually sought to implement them. Instead, they were merely used to exchange prisoners with the two breakaway Donbass republics. The president claimed he openly told that to then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Russian President Vladimir Putin back in 2019, with all of them acting “surprised.”

“But as for Minsk as a whole, I told Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel: ‘We cannot implement it like this,’” Zelensky stated. “I told [Putin] the same as the other two. They were surprised and said: ‘If we had known beforehand that you would change the meaning of our meeting, then there would have been problems even before the summit.’” The Minsk agreements, originally brokered in 2014 and further expanded in 2015, envisioned a roadmap for reconciliation between Ukraine and the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The two regions rebelled against the country’s new authorities in the aftermath of the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev, which ousted democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich. Ukraine’s failure to implement the agreement, which would have seen the breakaway territories reintegrated with the country but retain a special status, ultimately led to the ongoing conflict.

Since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, multiple politicians have taken credit for the failure of the Minsk agreements, admitting they were merely a ruse to give Ukraine time to build up its military. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko was the first to admit last year that Kiev never intended to abide by them and used the deal to “create powerful armed forces.” Merkel and another original signatory of the Minsk agreements, former French president Francois Hollande, have also since confirmed that this was actually the true goal of the deal.

Moscow considers these admissions to be evidence that the negotiations were conducted in bad faith and that the Ukrainian government and its backers had always intended for the Minsk agreements to flop and for the Donbass crisis to be resolved by force. Russia claims that its military campaign in Ukraine, launched last February, preempted an offensive planned by Kiev with NATO’s help. Ukraine, Germany, and France “lied to the people of Donbass, as they had a terrible fate planned for them, which Russia prevented,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said back in January. “Germany, France and Ukraine were playing a swindle game with the Minsk agreements. Now is payback time,” he stated at the time.

Coke

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“..I have to force him to help Ukraine and constantly convince him that this help is not for us, but for the Europeans..”

Zelensky Reveals What He Does To Scholz (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has revealed he keeps needing to “force” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to send arms to Kiev, constantly reminding him the deliveries are purportedly beneficial for the whole of Europe. The president made the revelation in a lengthy interview with Der Spiegel published on Thursday. Germany did a “good job” of delivering Iris-T anti-aircraft systems and ammunition for them last year, Zelensky said, while appearing to admit that Kiev has been actively spying on Berlin. “We have changed our relationship and understanding. We received IRIS-T anti-aircraft systems, for which I am very grateful to Germany. You saved a lot of lives. I told the chancellor: Olaf, listen, we’re short on rockets. I know that you don’t have any more yourself, we also have an intelligence service.

“I know you give us everything you have,” Zelensky stated, adding that Scholz somehow managed to push manufacturers into producing munitions for Iris-T faster. The looming supply of modern tanks to Ukraine has also proved to be a “difficult” issue for Kiev and Berlin, as Scholz was reluctant to do so. Zelensky claimed he has had to constantly remind the chancellor about the purported importance of such support and its alleged value for the whole of Europe. “Now we are yet again in a difficult phase with this debate about the German tanks, it is emotional and complex. I have to force him to help Ukraine and constantly convince him that this help is not for us, but for the Europeans,” Zelensky stated.

Germany has long been reluctant to deliver modern tanks to Kiev, with Scholz giving in to Kiev’s demands on January 25 and pledging to send in 14 Leopard 2 armored vehicles, as well as allowing other European operators of the German-made tanks to re-export them to Ukraine. Apart from that, Berlin also pledged to send in some 187 older Leopard 1 models to Ukraine from its stocks as well.

Zel EU

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All too obvious. But some want that world war.

Ukraine’s Entry To NATO Would Spell World War – Hungary (TASS)

The Hungarian government does not back Ukraine’s aspiration to join NATO and makes Kiev’s potential entry to the EU contingent on protecting the rights of Ukraine’s national minorities, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyas told reporters Thursday. Answering a question regarding Ukraine’s desire to join NATO, he noted that any country can file a membership application. “However, right now, Ukraine’s immediate accession to NATO would mean world war,” Gulyas cautioned. Speaking about the prospects of Ukraine’s EU membership, he underscored that Kiev must ensure progress in protecting the rights of national minorities – particularly, Ukraine’s Hungarians in the Trans-Carpathian Region – if it wants Budapest to endorse its membership application. So far, legislation on education and the national language, adopted in Ukraine, “does not comply with European norms.” “Progress has to be made” on these issues, the Hungarian official emphasized.

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“The Netherlands and Denmark will not send any of their tanks, but agreed to help Germany fund the purchase and refurbishment of around 100 older Leopard 1 models, which were retired 20 years ago and are currently in various states of disrepair..”

Much-Hyped Tanks For Ukraine In Short Supply – WSJ (RT)

NATO members have developed “sudden misgivings” about sending tanks to Ukraine because they don’t seem to have any to spare, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Finland, which pressured Germany to approve exports of Leopard 2 tanks, may only be able to send “a few” of its own – and most likely not until it formally joins the US-led military bloc. This has left Berlin as the only major supplier of tanks to Kiev, something Chancellor Olaf Scholz had been keen to avoid, the Journal noted. There are more than 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks in the stocks of various European NATO armies, but only Berlin and Warsaw have committed to sending any. Germany and Poland have promised about 14 apiece. Warsaw will also throw in 60 of its modified T-72s, while Berlin is buying up almost 190 decommissioned Leopard 1s for refurbishment, some of which may need to be cannibalized for parts.

In a December interview, Ukraine’s top general asked for 300 tanks right away. Canada has promised four tanks, while Portugal wants to send three. “The fact that there are so few operational battle tanks and that they are so incompatible with each other should be taken as an alarm signal in Europe,” Nico Lange, a former German defense official who is now a senior fellow at the Munich Security Conference, told the Journal. The Netherlands and Denmark will not send any of their tanks, but agreed to help Germany fund the purchase and refurbishment of around 100 older Leopard 1 models, which were retired 20 years ago and are currently in various states of disrepair. Denmark only has 44 Leopards and the Dutch operate 18 that are on lease from Germany, noted Minna Alander of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Finland faces a different “limitation” due to its own need to protect the country’s long border with Russia, she added.

Finland will be “part of the Leopard 2 cooperation in some way,” an anonymous senior official told the Journal, but declined to give any details. Helsinki has “signaled” it would “most likely” avoid tank deliveries until it officially joins NATO, according to a senior bloc official, likewise unnamed. Even then, it may only be able to spare a few of its 240 operational tanks. The UK has promised 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks, saying they ought to be delivered by the end of March. The US pledged 31 Abrams tanks as well, but getting them to Ukraine might take up to two years. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has already moved on, demanding fighter jets on his trip to London, Paris and Brussels. The US and its allies have spent over $120 billion to prop up the Kiev government over the past year, while insisting they are not a party to the conflict. Moscow has warned them that supplying Ukraine with weapons only prolongs the fighting and risks direct confrontation.

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Nor France.

UK Not Sending Fighter Jets To Ukraine (RT)

The UK is currently focused on helping Ukraine ensure air cover by providing long-range missiles and drones, rather than the less “realistic” option of sending fighter jets, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday. Speaking to the BBC, Wallace cautioned that sending aircraft to Kiev could potentially take months, and ruled out any immediate transfers, while saying it would be “more realistic and more productive” to provide Ukraine with aircraft after the conflict with Russia has ended, for long-term security purposes. “This is not a simple case of towing an aircraft to the border,” Wallace told the broadcaster, adding that Britain “knows what Ukraine needs and is very happy to help in many ways” which would not take as long as fighter jet deliveries would.


Wallace dismissed suggestions made by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson that London could provide Kiev with 100 Typhoon warplanes. The defense secretary insisted that he has a duty to ensure the UK and NATO maintain a sufficient number of fighter planes to ensure their own defense. Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky made his first trip to the UK since the fighting broke out between Kiev and Moscow. Ahead of the visit, the UK prime minister’s office announced that Britain would be providing training to Ukrainian pilots on how to operate NATO-standard aircraft. PM Rishi Sunak also committed to expanding the UK’s recruit training program, which has already seen 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers brought to battle readiness in the last six months. The UK now hopes to train an additional 20,000 troops this year.

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It’s a slow development, but it does continue.

Russia-Iran Dump The Dollar And Bust US Sanctions (Escobar)

The agreement between the Central Banks of Russia and Iran formally signed on 29 January connecting their interbank transfer systems is a game-changer in more ways than one. Technically, from now on 52 Iranian banks already using SEPAM, Iran’s interbank telecom system, are connecting with 106 banks using SPFS, Russia’s equivalent to the western banking messaging system SWIFT. Less than a week before the deal, State Duma Chairman Vyachslav Volodin was in Tehran overseeing the last-minute details, part of a meeting of the Russia-Iran Inter-Parliamentary Commission on Cooperation: he was adamant both nations should quickly increase trade in their own currencies.

Confirming that the share of ruble and rial in mutual settlements already exceeds 60 percent, Volodin ratified the success of “joint use of the Mir and Shetab national payment systems.” Not only does this bypass western sanctions, but it is able to “solve issues related to mutually beneficial cooperation, and increasing trade.” It is quite possible that the ruble will eventually become the main currency in bilateral trade, according to Iran’s ambassador in Moscow, Kazem Jalali: “Now more than 40 percent of trade between our countries is in rubles.” Jalali also confirmed, crucially, that Tehran is in favor of the ruble as the main currency in all regional integration mechanisms. He was referring particularly to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), with which Iran is clinching a free trade deal.

The SEPAM-SPFS agreement starts with a pilot program supervised by Iran’s Shahr Bank and Russia’s VTB Bank. Other lenders will step in once the pilot program gets rid of any possible bugs. The key advantage is that SEPAM and SPFS are immune to the US and western sanctions ruthlessly imposed on Tehran and Moscow. Once the full deal is up and running, all Iranian and Russian banks can be interconnected. It is no wonder the Global South is paying very close attention. This is likely to become a landmark case in bypassing Belgium-based SWIFT – which is essentially controlled by Washington, and on a minor scale, the EU. The success of SEPAM-SPFS will certainly encourage other bilateral or even multilateral deals between states.

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That makes the US a participant.

US Military At European Base Provide GPS-Targeting For Ukrainian Rockets (PM)

The United States has provided Ukraine with HIMARS, which are targeted missile systems, and it turns out the US is also providing Ukraine with the targets at which to launch those missiles. Biden has said the US would fund Ukraine’s war effort “as long as it takes.” A report from the Washington Post states that “Ukrainian officials say that they almost never launch HIMARS rounds without detailed coordinates provided by U.S. military personnel situated elsewhere in Europe.” Those coordinates are either “provided or confirmed” by the US and its NATO allies before Ukraine launches their strikes against Russia, which invaded Ukraine nearly one year ago. That the US was giving over not only the HIMARS but the means by which targets would be ascertained by the Ukraine military was not previously disclosed by the Pentagon.

What this means is that the Pentagon is not only providing weapons and aid, but is actively engaged in making war on Russia. This is not something the Biden administration has been forthcoming about. The Pentagon issued a statement from Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, reading “We have long acknowledged that we share intelligence with Ukraine to assist them in defending their country against Russian aggression, and we have optimized over time how we share information to be able to support their requests and their targeting processes at improved speed and scale. The Ukrainians are responsible for finding targets, prioritizing them and then ultimately deciding which ones to engage. The U.S. does not approve targets, nor are we involved in the selection or engagement of targets.”

Biden has insisted that the US is merely helping Ukraine have the tools to wage war, but actively assisting Ukraine in assessing targets and then attacking those targets is not something that, to the knowledge of the American public, has been approved by Congress. A US official who spoke to WaPo under the condition of anonymity said that the US providing “targeting assistance” increased the ability of Ukraine to launch missiles with accuracy, thereby not wasting their limited amunition. Ukraine uses their own targeting methods for attacks with their own weapons, but when it comes to HIMARS, the “U.S. provides coordinates and precise targeting information solely in an advisory role.”

As to how that process works, it was reported that it goes like this: “Ukrainian military personnel identify targets they want to hit, and in which location, and that information is then sent up to senior commanders, who then relay the request to U.S. partners for more accurate coordinates. The Americans do not always provide the requested coordinates, the official said, in which case the Ukrainian troops do not fire. A third Ukrainian official cited by WaPo “confirmed that targeting all goes through an American installation on NATO soil and described the process as ‘very fast.'”

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The emptiest gesture so far?! “One of the most important questions is how Ukraine will use the bulbs when it’s suffering power outages as a result of the war?”

EU’s Aid For Ukraine Is Effectively Public Aid For Itself (RMX)

Let there be light! President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has announced that the EU is to deliver 35 million energy-saving LED light bulbs to Ukraine worth €50 million. They will be made available free of charge at post offices across the country. She said that Ukraine should be an inspiration to Europe, with thousands of Ukrainians changing to LED bulbs to work towards cleaner energy. “They are energy-saving, very good,” she says in footage shot during the visit. The EU once again shows it thinks climate change is more important than anything else. The light bulbs are an even more surreal gift than the 5,000 helmets the Germans gave at the start of the war.


One of the most important questions is how Ukraine will use the bulbs when it’s suffering power outages as a result of the war? Finally, we should not have the wool pulled over our eyes. If the EU bought these bulbs from the largest European producers, which come from Germany, the Netherlands, and France, this is nothing more than a way of giving public aid to these companies. Once again, Germany shows its transactional face.

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Not terribly convincing so far.

Details Emerge On Chinese ‘Spy Balloon’ – WSJ (RT)

The alleged Chinese “spy balloon,” shot down off the coast of South Carolina last weekend, was equipped with advanced surveillance equipment capable of picking up sensitive communications, an unnamed senior State Department official told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. The Biden administration is reportedly planning to retaliate. While China has maintained the balloon was a civilian airship that drifted off course while collecting meteorological data, the source claimed its manufacturer had a “direct relationship” with the Chinese military. It was fitted with “large” solar panels to power the extensive instrumentation on board, which allegedly included antennas, sensors and other equipment capable of intercepting communications and gathering other intelligence.

The unnamed official said the US military spent the eight days the alleged spy craft was traversing the continental US gathering information about the device, using high-altitude U2 spy planes. Authorities are also reportedly examining the debris found floating in the Atlantic Ocean. The House and Senate are set to be briefed by military, intelligence and diplomatic officials regarding the balloon on Thursday. The newly declassified information is meant to “justify the US’s impending action” that President Joe Biden is preparing to take against “China’s surveillance program,” the outlet said. Beijing uses similar balloons for surveillance across five continents, administration officials claimed on Wednesday. The Pentagon asserted that China had nearly doubled the size of its satellite fleet between 2018 and 2021 and now had 260 surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance satellites monitoring the globe.

The balloon, which drifted over a nuclear missile site and other sensitive military assets, could have been carrying explosives in its multi-ton payload, US Northern Command Chief General Glen VanHerck told Politico on Monday, adding that several similar Chinese craft have flown over the US before, but the Pentagon somehow missed them. Despite the apparent threat of explosives, the White House has said the military waited to destroy the balloon until it was over water, so as not to imperil any civilians or property with falling debris. Airspace over parts of North and South Carolina was closed, as fighter jets were finally sent to shoot it down on Saturday. China’s Foreign Ministry has demanded the return of what was left of the balloon, reminding Biden on Tuesday that “the airship does not belong to the US – it belongs to China.”

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Did Biden just say the US needs fossils only for 10 more years? Was he just talking about himself there?

GOP-Led House Panels Shift Gears, Go Full Throttle for Domestic Energy Production (ET)

With Republicans assuming control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the November 2022 midterm elections, the newly installed GOP leadership has been doing just that across the chamber’s 20 standing permanent committees and their 104 subcommittees and select temporary panels. That transitional shift-change has been clearly evident this week in seminal session meetings of the 52-member House Energy and Commerce Committee and its six subcommittees and in the 45-member House Natural Resources Committee and its five subsidiary panels.

During four years of Democratic control, climate change, environmental protection, and “green” energy development were among the primary policy drivers in adopting legislation designed to coax the nation away from reliance on oil and gas, including the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and $740 billion Infrastructure Reduction Act (IRA). Over two days and nearly eight hours of hearings before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 7 and the House Natural Resource Committee on Feb. 8, Republicans made it clear that many initiatives passed under the Biden administration promoting electric vehicles, carbon capture, green energy, and environmental protection are on the proverbial chopping block.

During the near-six hour House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting, six witnesses testified on a raft of 17 Republican-sponsored measures that proponents argue are key to “restoring American energy dominance.” Among the proposals that will dominate the committee’s and its subsidiary panels’ agendas in the coming months are bills prohibiting restrictions on hydraulic fracking without congressional approval, expanding natural gas exports, repealing the IRA’s Green House Reduction Fund, and amending the Clean Air, Toxic Substances Control, Solid Waste Disposal, and National Gas Tax acts. Within the tranche of proposed legislation on the committee’s “unleashing American energy agenda” are bills calling for permitting reform, promoting development of “critical minerals,” and prohibiting the import of Russian uranium.

In kicking off the day-long hearing, Republicans argued that “unleashing American energy, lowering energy costs, and strengthening supply chains” must be a priority if the United States is to be economically competitive in the 21st century and beyond. “America has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources. We should be working towards developing a predictable regulatory landscape across-the-board that inspires innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological leadership, hydropower, nuclear, fossil energies, wind, solar, and batteries,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said in opening the proceedings.

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“..Hersh tells the story of the US destruction of the Nordstream pipelines in forensic detail, giving dates, times, method and military units involved..”

When you feel compelled to smear your only left real journalists, you’re in deep.

Sy Hersh and The Way We Live Now (Craig Murray)

It is a clear indicator of the disappearance of freedom from our so-called western democracies, that Sy Hersh, arguably the greatest living journalist, cannot get this monumental revelation on the front of the Washington Post or New York Times, but has to self-publish on the net. Hersh tells the story of the US destruction of the Nordstream pipelines in forensic detail, giving dates, times, method and military units involved. He also outlines the importance of the Norwegian armed forces working alongside the US Navy in the operation. One point Sy does not much stress, but it is worth saying more about, is that Norway and the USA are of course the two countries who have benefitted financially, to an enormous degree, from blowing up the pipeline.

Both not only have gained huge export surpluses from the jump in gas prices, but Norway has directly replaced Russian gas to the tune of some $40 billion per year. From 2023 the United States will appear in that list in second place behind Norway, following the opening in the last two months of two new Liquefied Natural Gas terminals in Germany, built to replace Russian gas with US and Qatari supplies. So Russia lost out massively financially from the destruction of Nordstream and who benefited? The USA and Norway, the two countries who blew up the pipeline. But of course, this war is nothing to do with money or hydrocarbons and is all about freedom and democracy… To return to Hersh’s account, particularly interesting are the series of decisions taken to avoid classification of the operation in various ways which would require it to be reported to Congress.

In terms of United States history, this ought to be a big deal. For the Executive to commit what is an act of war without the approval of the Legislature is fundamentally unconstitutional. But that is one of those quaint remnants of democracy that the neo-liberal elite consensus can quietly sidestep nowadays. Hersh sets out the well known background in compelling detail, including the fact that, from Biden down, the Americans effectively announced what they were going to do, openly. But what most worries me about the entire story is the unanimous complicity of the mainstream media in ignoring the completely obvious.

[..] The secret is not that people genuinely believe an outrageous claim. The secret is that people do genuinely believe that they are in a battle of good against evil, and it is necessary to accept the narrative being promoted, in the interests of fighting evil. Don’t question, just follow. If you do question, you are promoting evil. I am sure that is how it works. State and corporate stenographer journalists are actually intelligent individuals. If they thought about it, they would realise that the narrative that Russia blew up its own pipeline is obvious nonsense. But they are convinced it is morally wrong to think about it. Which is why none of them challenged the equally mad claims that Russia was repeatedly shelling its own forces occupying the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, and indeed is why none of them challenged the utterly risible official version of the Skripal story.

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Pretty crazy hearings.

Rep. Higgins Tells Twitter Executives to Prepare to be Arrested (TP)

On Wednesday, former top executives at Twitter appeared before the House oversight committee to give testimony regarding the social media giant’s management of information related to Joe Biden’s son and interference with the 2020 election. The hearing marks the start of the agenda of the newly-Republican controlled House, highlighting their focus on long-standing claims that major tech companies exhibited a bias against conservatism. At one point during the hearing, Republican Rep. Clay Higgins unleashed on former Twitter execs James Baker, Vijaya Gadde & Yoel Roth, saying that they need to get ready to be arrested. “The bottom line is that the FBI had the Biden crime family laptop for a year,” Higgins said. “They knew it was leaking, they knew it would hurt the Biden campaign.”

“So the FBI used its relationship with Twitter to suppress criminal evidence being revealed about Joe Biden one month before the 2020 election,” he continued. “You ladies and gentlemen interfered with the United States of America 2020 presidential election, knowingly and willingly,” Higgins hammered. “That’s the bad news. It’s going to get worse.” “This is the investigation part, later comes the arrest part, your attorneys are familiar with that,” Higgins said. “I’d like to spend five hours with these ladies and gentlemen doing depositions surely yet to come”.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1623412720199426048

At another point during the hearing, Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene unleashed on former Twitter executive Yoel Roth for allowing child exploitation on Twitter and for advocating for teenagers to use gay hookup act Grinder. “I’m so glad you’ve lost your jobs. Thank God Elon Musk bought Twitter,” she said. “It’s amazing to me Mr. Roth as the head and Trust and Safety at Twitter your ability or should I say inability to remove child porn,” Taylor Greene said. “Now here is something that disgusts me about you. In your doctoral dissertation entitled ‘Gay Data,’ you argued that minors should have access to grinder, an adult male gay hook-up app,” she continued. “Minors. Really?” “You know, Elon Musk took over and he banned 44,000 accounts that were promoting child porn,” Greene added. “You permanently banned my Twitter account, but you allowed child porn all over Twitter.”

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FAA
https://twitter.com/i/status/1622316296837660674

 

 

LNP
https://twitter.com/i/status/1623731239239798789

 

 

Clotting
https://twitter.com/i/status/1623751085629267968

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jul 202016
 
 July 20, 2016  Posted by at 9:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Harris&Ewing Newsie, Washington DC 1920

To the Mattresses: Cash Levels Highest In Nearly 15 Years (CNBC)
The Financial System Is Breaking Down At An Unimaginable Pace (Black)
This ‘Market’ Discounts Nothing Except Monetary Cocaine (Stockman)
These Sicilian Mortgages Show How Hard It Is to Rescue Italian Banks (BBG)
Deal With Canada On The Brink as German Party Sues EU Over CETA (Exp.)
The Long, Sad, Corrupted Devolution Of The GOP (Intercept)
The World Is Taking Revenge Against Elites. When Will America’s Wake Up? (G.)
The Secret History of Glass-Steagall (WSJ)
We Need More Borders And More States (Mises Inst.)
June 2016 Was 14th Consecutive Month Of Record-Breaking Heat (G.)
This Year’s Record Arctic Melt Is a Problem For Everybody (Stone)

 

 

Breaking point.

To the Mattresses: Cash Levels Highest In Nearly 15 Years (CNBC)

Despite the post-Brexit market rally, fund managers have gotten even more wary of taking risks. The S&P 500 has jumped about 8.5% since the lows hit in the days after Britain’s move to leave the EU, but that hasn’t assuaged professional investors. Cash levels are now at 5.8% of portfolios, up a notch from June and at the highest levels since November 2001, according to the latest BofA Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey. In addition to putting money under the mattress, investors also are looking for protection, with equity hedging at its highest level in the survey’s history. Indeed, fear is running high as investors believe that global financial conditions are tightening, despite nearly $12 trillion of negative-yielding debt around the world and the U.S. central bank on hold perhaps until 2017.

In fact, fear is running so high that BofAML experts think that it’s helping fuel the recent market rally. “Record numbers of investors saying fiscal policy is too restrictive and the first underweighting of equities in four years suggest that fiscal easing could be a tactical catalyst for risk assets going forward,” Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist, said in a statement. Positioning changed, with a rotation from euro zone, banks and insurance companies shifting to the U.S., industrials, energy, technology and materials stocks. Fund managers believe that so-called helicopter money will become a reality, with 39% now anticipating the move compared to 27% in June.

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“..the total sum of negative-yielding debt in the world has increased in the last sixteen days alone by an amount that’s larger than the entire GDP of Russia.”

The Financial System Is Breaking Down At An Unimaginable Pace (Black)

Now it’s $13 trillion. That’s the total amount of government bonds in the world that have negative yields, according to calculations published last week by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Given that there were almost zero negative-yielding bonds just two years ago, the rise to $13 trillion is incredible. In February 2015, the total amount of negative-yielding debt in the world was ‘only’ $3.6 trillion. A year later in February 2016 it had nearly doubled to $7 trillion. Now, just five months later, it has nearly doubled again to $13 trillion, up from $11.7 trillion just over two weeks ago. Think about that: the total sum of negative-yielding debt in the world has increased in the last sixteen days alone by an amount that’s larger than the entire GDP of Russia.

Just like subprime mortgage bonds from ten years ago, these bonds are also toxic securities, since many of are issued by bankrupt governments (like Japan). Instead of paying subprime home buyers to borrow money, investors are now paying subprime governments. And just like the build-up to the 2008 subprime crisis, investors are snapping up today’s subprime bonds with frightening enthusiasm. We’ll probably see $15 trillion, then $20 trillion, worth of negative-yielding subprime government debt within the next few months. So this trend will continue to grow for now, until, just like in 2008, the bubble bursts in cataclysmic fashion. It took several years for the first subprime bubble to pop. This one may take even longer. But even still, we can already see the consequences today.

A few months ago I told you about the remarkable $3.4 trillion funding gap in the US pension system. Remember, we’re not talking about Social Security– that has its own $40+ trillion shortfall. I’m talking about private companies’ retirement pensions, or public service worker pensions at the city and state level. (By the way, this is NOT strictly a US phenomenon. Europe suffers its own $2 trillion pension shortfall.) There’s zero mathematical probability that these pensions will be able to meet their obligations. They’re already underfunded. And the problem is getting worse, thanks in part to this plague of low and negative interest rates.

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“Regardless of whether the November winner is Hillary or the Donald, there is one thing certain. There will be no functioning government come 2017.”

This ‘Market’ Discounts Nothing Except Monetary Cocaine (Stockman)

[..]..whether the central banks buy public debt from the inventories of the 23 prime dealers and other market speculators or directly from the US treasury makes no technical difference whatsoever. The end state of “something for nothing” finance is the same in both cases. In fact, “helicopter money” is just a desperate scam emanating from the world’s tiny fraternity of central bankers who have walked the financial system to the brink, and are now trying to con the casino into believing they have one more magic rabbit to pull out of the hat. They don’t. That’s because it takes two branches of the state to tango in the game of helicopter money.

The unelected monetary central planners can run the digital printing presses at whim, and continuously “surprise” and gratify the casino gamblers with another unexpected batch of the monetary drugs. That has been exactly the pattern of multiple rounds of QE and the unending invention of excuses to prolong ZIRP into its 90th month. The resulting rises in the stock averages, of course, were the result of fresh liquidity injections and the associated monetary high, not the discounting of new information about economics and profits. By contrast, helicopter money requires the peoples’ elected representatives to play.

That is, the Congress and White House must generate large incremental expansions of the fiscal deficit—so that the central bankers can buy it directly from the US treasury’s shelf, and then credit the government’s Fed accounts with credits conjured from thin air. To be sure, the cynics would say – no problem! When have politicians ever turned down an opportunity to borrow and spend themselves silly, and to than be applauded, not chastised, for the effort? But that assumes we still have a functioning government and that today’s politicians have been 100% cured of their atavistic fears of the public debt. Alas, what is going to cause helicopter money to be a giant dud – at least in the US – is that neither of these conditions are extant.

Regardless of whether the November winner is Hillary or the Donald, there is one thing certain. There will be no functioning government come 2017.

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Rewriting the law to save your banks?

These Sicilian Mortgages Show How Hard It Is to Rescue Italian Banks (BBG)

Down the cobbled streets of Palermo, past baroque churches and gothic palaces, a lesson is lurking for Italy’s government as it hatches a plan to save the country’s banks. Sicily’s biggest city is the focal point of a 2007 securitization of non-performing loans, or NPLs, that shows just how long it can take to resolve soured loans in the country. The deal, known as Island Refinancing, should also act as a warning for investors of the dangers of buying similar securities as Italian banks gear up to sell more of them. The Island bonds are backed by two portfolios of NPLs originated by a Sicilian bank that’s now a subsidiary of UniCredit SpA. Just under half of the loans originated in the 1990s and they include residential mortgages as well as loans financing hotels and industrial buildings.

Unlike other asset-backed securities where interest and principal are paid through cash flows from mortgage or auto credit borrowers, investors in NPL securitizations depend on getting money back from soured loans – typically through the courts. And that’s where the problem lies. A court may auction the loan collateral and use the proceeds to pay the bonds, but that is a slow process. Italy is almost as well known these days for its sluggish and cumbersome insolvency procedures as it is for the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the AC Milan soccer club. Italian bankruptcy proceedings last an average of 7.8 years, compared to an average of just over two years for the rest of Europe.

Efforts are currently being made to speed up the process, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi saying recent reforms to insolvency laws will shorten recovery times on NPL collateral to as little as six months. Still, the thus-far glacial pace of cash collections from NPLs has resulted in multiple credit ratings downgrades for the Island Refinancing deal, which will expire in 2025.

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The time for trade deals is over.

Deal With Canada On The Brink as German Party Sues EU Over CETA (Exp.)

Centre-left Die Linke has launched legal action to block the controversial Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) pact, saying it is unconstitutional under German law. The party’s attempt to torpedo the hated deal is just the latest in a series of devastating trade blows for the EU, which is unravelling following the Brexit vote. And it reveals once more the cavernous differences opening up between different member states which have effectively rendered the European project unworkable. Earlier this month Canada’s despairing Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland asked: “If the EU cannot do a deal with Canada, I think it is legitimate to say who the heck can it do a deal with?”

But now there is a very real prospect that CETA will be torpedoed before it has even left port in a development which will throw the future of a much bigger deal with America into serious doubt. Negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have ground to a halt, with impatient American officials warning Brussels to stop dragging their heels. The US chief negotiator said the proposed deal was nowhere near as enticing to Washington now that Britain has left the bloc, comparing a Europe without the UK to an America without California. Britain will not be affected by either calamity after voting to leave the EU, and is now free to begin informal talks on sealing its own trade deals with Canada, the US and the rest of the world.

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Lincoln, too, was a Republican.

The Long, Sad, Corrupted Devolution Of The GOP (Intercept)

In August 1956, the Republican Party gathered in San Francisco to re-nominate President Dwight D. Eisenhower as its candidate in the upcoming presidential election. The party that year adopted a platform that emphasized that the GOP was “proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs.” This included boasting that Eisenhower had overseen a hike in the federal minimum wage that raised incomes for 2 million Americans while expanding Social Security to 10 million more people and increasing benefits for 6.5 million others.

Today’s Republican Party has made weakening labor unions a priority, but the 1956 platform noted that under Eisenhower, “workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.” It also touted an increase in federal funding for hospital construction and expanded federal aid for health care for the poor and public housing. The platform also pointed out that Eisenhower had asked for “the largest increase in research funds ever sought in one year” to tackle ailments like cancer and heart disease. Rather than opposing self-governance for Washington, D.C., 1956’s Republicans encouraged it, saying they “favor self-government national suffrage and representation in the Congress of the United States” for those living there.

The platform also asked Congress to submit a constitutional amendment establishing “equal rights for men and women.” The platform boasted proudly of the African-Americans who had been appointed to positions in Eisenhower’s administration, and of ending racial discrimination in federal employment. At no point did the document call for any restrictions on immigration; rather, by contrast, it asked Congress to consider an extension of the 1953 Refugee Act, which brought tens of thousands of war-weary European refugees to American shores. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the face of the Republican Party in the 1950s. He had served as the supreme commander of the Allied forces as they retook Europe from fascist militaries in the decade before.

Experiencing two global wars shaped Eisenhower’s worldview, turning him into an advocate of peace. Eisenhower cut the military budget by 27% following the Korean War, and used his bully pulpit to highlight the trade-offs of military spending. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” he said in a 1953 speech. In his farewell address on January 17, 1961, he highlighted the rise of what he called a “military-industrial complex” — a war industry that he cautioned could exert “undue influence” on the government.

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When indeed?

The World Is Taking Revenge Against Elites. When Will America’s Wake Up? (G.)

A snapshot of America in the middle of June 2016. It is several days before the first great shock of the summer, the Brexit vote, and here in America, all is serene. The threat posed by Senator Bernie Sanders has been suppressed. The Republicans have chosen a preposterous windbag to lead them; the consensus is that he will be a pushover. For all the doubts and dissent of the last year, the leadership faction of the country’s professional class seem to have once again come out on top, and they are ready to accept the gratitude of the nation. And so President Barack Obama did an interview with Business Week in which he was congratulated for his stewardship of the economy and asked “what industries” he might choose to join upon his retirement from the White House.

The president replied as follows: “… what I will say is that – just to bring things full circle about innovation – the conversations I have with Silicon Valley and with venture capital pull together my interests in science and organization in a way I find really satisfying.” In relating this anecdote, I am not aiming to infuriate because the man we elected in 2008 to get tough with high finance and shut the revolving door was now talking about taking his own walk through that door and getting a job in finance. No. My object here is to describe the confident, complacent mood of the country’s ruling class in the middle of last month. So let us continue. On the morning after British voters chose to leave the EU, Obama was in California addressing an audience at Stanford University, a school often celebrated these days as the pre-eminent educational institution of Silicon Valley.

The occasion of the president’s remarks was the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and the substance of his speech was the purest globaloney, flavored with a whiff of vintage dotcom ebullience. Obama marveled at the smart young creative people who start tech businesses. He deplored bigotry as an impediment that sometimes keeps these smart creative people from succeeding. He demanded that more power be given to the smart young creatives who are transforming the world. Keywords included “innovation”, “interconnection”, and of course “Zuckerberg”, the Facebook CEO, who has appeared with Obama on so many occasions and whose company is often used as shorthand by Democrats to signify everything that is wonderful about our era.

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“The law was seen as protecting the specialized securities firms from having to compete with large national banks..”

The Secret History of Glass-Steagall (WSJ)

The Republican party platform calls for a revival of the Glass-Steagall Act, a depression-era banking law repealed in 1999. Glass-Steagall was the brainchild of Sen. Carter Glass (D-VA), best known as the principal architect of the Federal Reserve system. It erected a firewall between deposit-taking/loan-making banks and securities activities such as underwriting and trading. Its original goal was to prevent three things: purchasing of risky securities with government-insured deposits, extending bad loans to shaky companies owned by a bank, and pushing underwritten securities onto naïve bank customers. The provision became law when the Banking Act of 1933 was passed within days of President Franklin Roosevelt taking office in March 1933 in an effort to restore public confidence in the banking system.

The same act created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which insures bank deposits, as well as the Federal Open Market Committee, the monetary policy making board of the Federal Reserve. The act also banned banks from paying interest on checking accounts and granted the Fed authority to put ceilings on interest rates offered for other deposits. Far from resisting Glass-Steagall, Wall Street securities firms embraced and became its most vocal supporters. The law was seen as protecting the specialized securities firms from having to compete with large national banks funded by cheap retail and commercial deposits.

The law was strengthened by a 1956 law that put bank holding companies under the purview of the Federal Reserve and made it clear they could not control both a commercial bank and an investment bank. As the years passed, however, the wall separating securities firms and banks developed cracks—primarily because of pressure from banks wanting to expand into securities dealing. Banks won regulatory approval for their affiliates to underwrite government securities, mortgage-backed securities and commercial paper. They were allowed to provide brokerage services to customers and market insurance. Banks began providing advice and assistance on mergers, acquisitions and financial planning. All this occurred without the law being changed.

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The perks of decentralization.

We Need More Borders And More States (Mises Inst.)

In the context of trade and immigration, borders are often discussed as a means of excluding foreign workers and foreign goods. In one way of thinking, borders provide an opportunity for states to exclude private actors such as workers, merchants, and entrepreneurs. On the other hand, borders can also serve a far more endearing function, and this is found in the fact that borders represent the limits of a state’s power. That is, while borders may exclude goods and people, a state’s borders also often exclude other states. For example, East Germany’s border with West Germany represented the limits of the East German police state, beyond which the power of the Stasi to kidnap, torture, and imprison peaceful people was far more limited than it was within its native jurisdiction.

The West German border acted to contain the East German state. Similarly, the borders of Saudi Arabia delineate a limit to the Saudi regime’s ability to behead people for sorcery or for making critical remarks about the blood-soaked dictators known as the House of Saud. Even within a single nation-state, borders can illustrate the benefits of decentralization, as in the case of the Colorado-Nebraska border. On one side of the border (i.e., Nebraska) state police will arrest you and imprison you for possessing marijuana. They may kill you if you resist. On the other side of the border, the state’s constitution prohibits police from prosecuting marijuana users. The Colorado border contains Nebraska’s war on drugs.

Certainly, there are ways for regimes to extend their power even beyond their borders. This can be done by cozying up with the regimes of neighboring countries (or intimidating them), or through the organs of international quasi-state organizations. Or, as in the case of the US and EU, imposing broader policies upon a number of supposedly sovereign states. Nevertheless, thanks to the competitive nature of states, many states will often find it difficult to project their power into neighboring states, and thus borders represent a very-real impediment to a state’s power. This can then open the door to greater freedom, and even save lives as certain states impoverish or make war on their own citizens.

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When this streak is over everyone will think we’re safe.

June 2016 Was 14th Consecutive Month Of Record-Breaking Heat (G.)

As the string of record-breaking global temperatures continues unabated, June 2016 marks the 14th consecutive month of record-breaking heat. According to two US agencies – Nasa and Noaa – June 2016 was 0.9C hotter than the average for the 20th century, and the hottest June in the record which goes back to 1880. It broke the previous record, set in 2015, by 0.02C. The 14-month streak of record-breaking temperatures was the longest in the 137-year record. And it has been 40 years since the world saw a June that was below the 20th century average.

The string of record-breaking monthly temperatures began in April 2015, and was pushed along by a powerful El Niño, where a splurge of warm water spreads across the Pacific Ocean. But the effects of El Niño have receded, and the effects of global warming are clear, said Nasa’s Gavin Schmidt. “While the El Niño event in the tropical Pacific this winter gave a boost to global temperatures from October onwards, it is the underlying trend which is producing these record numbers,” he said.

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“..a Texas-sized chunk of sea ice has disappeared from our planet’s north pole between the early 1980s and today.”

This Year’s Record Arctic Melt Is a Problem For Everybody (Stone)

If your life has felt like a hot mess this year, you’re not alone. Same goes for the Arctic, which month after month has seen its ice cover contract to new lows. By late September, Arctic sea ice may reach its lowest extent since satellite record-keeping began. And that’s got scientists in a tizzy, because if there’s one thing geologic history has taught us, it’s that sudden drops in Arctic ice cover are often the tip of the proverbial iceberg for a whole slew of planetary feedbacks. It’s difficult to keep up with all the climate-related records our world has been smashing, so here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening up north.

At the close of 2015 (currently the hottest year in recorded history, but not for long), the Arctic was already sweating iceberg-shaped bullets, thanks to freakishly warm weather brought on by a combination of a monster El Niño and the underlying global warming trend. Then 2016 burst on the scene, with temperatures at the North Pole rising some fifty degrees Fahrenheit above normal. The Arctic stayed exceptionally hot through January and February. By the time March rolled around, the atmosphere was loaded with heat, and Arctic sea ice was already starting to look thin. NASA confirmed that it was indeed the smallest wintertime Arctic sea ice extent on the record books, peaking at some 5.6 million square miles (14.5 million square km).

Then, the Arctic started to melt. And it kept going, and going, and going, smashing record after record, month after month. As of this writing, we’ve just come off the fifth record-low sea ice month this year. Every month except March has marked an all-time monthly low, with June sea ice maxing out a full 100,000 square miles (260,000 square kilometers) below the previous record low, set in 2010. June sea ice was also 525,000 square miles (1.36 million square km) below the 1981-2010 average. Put another way, a Texas-sized chunk of sea ice has disappeared from our planet’s north pole between the early 1980s and today.

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