Jun 182022

Paul Ranson Apple tree with red fruit 1902


Putin Claims New World Order, Blasts The West For ‘Insane’ Sanctions (ABC/AP)
Putin Says Sanctions Cost EU $400BN, Warns Of Severe Fertilizer Shortage (ZH)
Biden Told Secretaries Of Defense And State To Tone It Down (NBC)
Two Awkward Biden Moments Draw Online Scrutiny (JTN)
Macron Bends to Pressure, Now Says Ukraine ‘Must Win’ War With Russia (Celente)
Pro-Ukrainian, but Anti-Nazi (Batiushka)
How Low Can You Go? (Jim Kunstler)
Last Tango in Washington? (Brenner)
The Ukrainian Endgame: An Imperfect Peace Is Better Than Endless War (Bandow)
US Drone Sale To Ukraine Hits Snag (R.)
Stephen Colbert Staffers At House Office Charged With Illegal Entry (Fox)
Hunter Biden’s ‘Troubling’ Connection With Big-Name Hollywood Lawyer Probed (ET)
Deflationary Tsunami On Deck: Tidal Wave Of Discounts And Crashing Prices (ZH)
Britain Orders Extradition Of Julian Assange To United States (ABC.au)





Never sick





Clare Daly







“..came to think of themselves as God’s own messengers on planet Earth..”

Putin Claims New World Order, Blasts The West For ‘Insane’ Sanctions (ABC/AP)

In one of Vladimir Putin’s most substantial addresses since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the Russian President used his nation’s pre-eminent investment conference as an opportunity to lash out against his Western enemies. After a lengthy denunciation of countries that he claims want to weaken the Russian state with “reckless and insane” sanctions, President Putin used the stage at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum to lambaste the United States. “[The United States] declared victory in the Cold War and later came to think of themselves as God’s own messengers on planet Earth,” he said. In his 73-minute speech, he also said Russia was taking its place in a New World Order in which rules would be set by “strong and sovereign states”.

After sending troops into Ukraine in February, Russia came under a wide array of international sanctions, with hundreds of foreign companies also suspending operations or pulling out of the country entirely. But Mr Putin said these attempts to damage the Russian economy “didn’t work”. “Russian enterprises and government authorities worked in a composed and professional manner,” he said. “We’re normalising the economic situation. We stabilised the financial markets, the banking system, the trade system.” While Russia’s projected inflation rate has fallen marginally, Mr Putin conceded that the current projected annual rate of 16.7 per cent is still too high. Mr Putin also vehemently defended his country’s actions in Ukraine, as Russia has contended that its neighbour posed a threat due its desire to join the NATO military alliance.

Putin Spief

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From the PR team: “We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream.”

Putin Says Sanctions Cost EU $400BN, Warns Of Severe Fertilizer Shortage (ZH)

Ukraine just got a big boost for its EU membership bid on Friday, with the 27-member nation bloc’s executive giving full support for its candidate status. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced for the first time that the commission recommends “that Ukraine is given candidate status. This is of course on the understanding that the country will carry out a number of further reforms.” She said further while speaking from Brussels, “In the view of the Commission, Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspiration and the country’s determination to live up to European values and standards.”

Von der Leyen included further: “We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream.” “Yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country — this is based on the understanding that good work has been done but important work also remains to be done,” von der Leyen said. The day prior, on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi traveled to Kiev by train where they delivered a unified and “strong signal of support” to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. They publicly backed Ukraine’s path to the EU, urging “immediate EU candidate status.”

[..] Russian President Vladimir Putin in statements issued the same day as von der Leyen’s EU candidacy preliminary approval announcement stressed the growing ‘cost’ to Europe over its intransigent pro-Ukraine position and anti-Russia sanctions. He estimated that the European Union will incur “losses of at least $400 billion” due to its multiple waves of sanctions imposed on Moscow thus far. He once again rejected responsibility for the global economic downturn, stating instead that inflation, energy costs and food crisis are all linked to the West’s policies. He further predicted a potentially disastrous development for the global food supply, already under threat, according to news wires:

“Putin predicted the fertilizer shortage could push food prices even higher, adding that Russia could boost its exports of fertilizer and grain. He also claimed that “gloomy forecasts” about the state of the Russian economy did not come true and that his government has successfully stopped the rise of domestic inflation.”

Read more …

Back in April.

Biden Told Secretaries Of Defense And State To Tone It Down (NBC)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had taken off on separate flights from southeastern Poland after their risky, high-stakes visit to Kyiv when they were conferenced into a phone call from President Joe Biden. During their whirlwind April trip, Austin appeared to expand the U.S. goals in Ukraine, saying publicly that the administration wanted the Ukrainians to win the war against Russia, not just defend themselves, and that the U.S. hoped to weaken Russia to the extent that it could not launch another unprovoked invasion. Blinken had publicly aligned himself with the remarks. Now Biden wanted to discuss the mounting headlines that resulted. Biden thought the secretaries had gone too far, according to multiple administration officials familiar with the call.

On the previously unreported conference call, as Austin flew to Germany and Blinken to Washington, the president expressed concern that the comments could set unrealistic expectations and increase the risk of the U.S. getting into a direct conflict with Russia. He told them to tone it down, said the officials. “Biden was not happy when Blinken and Austin talked about winning in Ukraine,” one of them said. “He was not happy with the rhetoric.” The secretaries explained that Austin’s comments had been misconstrued, another senior administration official said. But the displeasure Biden initially conveyed during that phone call, the officials said, reflected his administration’s belief that despite Ukrainian forces’ unexpected successes early on, the war would ultimately head in the direction it is now in two months later: a protracted conflict in which Russia continues to make small and steady advances.

U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that the trajectory of the war in Ukraine is untenable and are quietly discussing whether President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should temper his hard-line public position that no territory will ever be ceded to Russia as part of an agreement to end the war, according to seven current U.S. officials, former U.S. officials and European officials. Some officials want Zelenskyy to “dial it back a little bit,” as one of them put it, when it comes to telegraphing his red lines on ending the war. But the issue is fraught given that Biden is adamant about the U.S. not pressuring the Ukrainians to take steps one way or another. His administration’s position has been that any decision about how and on what terms to end the war is for Ukraine to decide.

“We are not pressuring them to make concessions, as some Europeans are. We would never ask them to cede territory,” one U.S. official said. “We are planning for a long war. We intend to prepare the American people for that, and we are prepared to ask Congress for more money.”

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“A staggering 47% of responders “strongly” disapproved of his performance.”

Two Awkward Biden Moments Draw Online Scrutiny (JTN)

Amid reports of record low approval ratings for his performance in office, President Joe Biden drew online scrutiny for two awkward moments which have fueled renewed concerns over his fitness to lead. On Thursday, Biden offered somewhat blunt condolences for the passing of Jo-Ann Stores CFO Matt Susz, who died suddenly the day before. In a White House speech addressing efforts to curb inflation, Biden ripped international shipping companies but paused briefly to address the head of the company, saying “and by the way, my sympathies to your family of your CFO, who dropped dead very unexpectedly.”

The ungentle “dropped dead” description of Susz’s death, prompted a torrent of jokes and criticism with many Twitter users disapproving of Biden’s tone and word choice while others made references to oft-repeated concerns that the president may be experiencing mental deterioration. In a Friday episode, first lady Jill Biden abruptly yanked her husband away from reporters as he attempted to answer questions about rising inflation. The Bidens, and first cat Willow, were on their way to their home state of Delaware for the long weekend. “It should not be this high,” he said to reporters, per the New York Post. “They’re making exorbitant profits, number one. Number two, I’ve contacted them, my team has, to ask what their plans are and to give any suggestions they have.”

“Number three, I think we’re going to be in a position where we’re gonna,” he continued before his wife pulled him toward the plane, firmly stating “we gotta go!” The Friday episode also attracted a flurry of mockery, with commenters taking the first lady’s assertive role in the moment as evidence of the presidents “cognitive issues.” Others took issue with Biden’s routine departures from Washington to his home state. Biden’s approval rating stood at 39% on Friday, per a USA TODAY/Suffolk poll. A staggering 47% of responders “strongly” disapproved of his performance.

Biden oil

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“Any world leader who does not vow complete loyalty to Zelensky’s effort to win back every inch of his country is met by anger in the Western media..”

Macron Bends to Pressure, Now Says Ukraine ‘Must Win’ War With Russia (Celente)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday passed the litmus test during a high-profile meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv when he told reporters that Ukraine must defeat Russia in its war. Macron was joined by Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The three took an 11′-hour train ride to Kyiv. They were also joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. “We saw a devastated city and traces of barbarism. And also the heroism of Ukrainian men and women who stopped the Russian army when it went to Kyiv. Ukraine is resisting. She must be able to win,” Macron said after a a tour of Irpin. The French president came bearing gifts. He promised Ukraine six massive truck-mounted artillery guns so “Ukraine alone can decide its fate.”

Any world leader who does not vow complete loyalty to Zelensky’s effort to win back every inch of his country is met by anger in the Western media that has become nothing more than mouthpieces for governments that hate Russia. Macron felt the wrath when he said, “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means. I am convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.” Dmitro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, took to Twitter at the time and posted, “Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.” Even after the visit by the four European leaders on Thursday, Ukrainian leaders still insisted on not giving up an inch of territory.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai told the Associated Press that the visit would not yield progress if the leaders ask Ukraine to sign a peace treaty with Russia that involves giving up territory. “I am sure that our president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is not going to make concessions and trade our territories. If someone wants to stop Russia by giving them territories, Germany has Bavaria, Italy has Tuscany, the French can concede Provence, for instance,” he said.

It’s the little people!

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Batiushka is an interesting writer. Here (s)he takes things a step further. Can we follow?

Pro-Ukrainian, but Anti-Nazi (Batiushka)

The problem has never been one of Ukrainians. The problem has always been that of the spiritual disease of Nazism. And that is what it is – a spiritual disease. Once the soul of the Ukraine has been liberated from this disease, in other words, once it has been denazified, a New Ukraine will be born. It may well take the form of a Protectorate centred around Kiev and speak a mixture of Ukrainian with Russian and Surzhyk (Ukrainian Russian). It will have secure borders and its people will be patriotic Ukrainians, not in some racist way that denigrates others, but in a positive way that respects others. Once freed of parasitic oligarchs and corruption, the naturally rich New Ukraine could have a brilliant future and take a positive part in the Concert of the Nations.

Once it has been understood that there is no problem with the Ukraine or Ukrainians, but only with Nazism, there may take place other Special Operations in other parts of the world. China may soon launch an Operation in Taiwan to free the ethnic Chinese there from the Nazism of its US-appointed elite. As for Russia, it has not yet finished the job in the Ukraine, where the task is constantly being extended because the Nazi West keeps sending long-range missiles and artillery to Kiev. As long as these weapons are in use, firing on Donetsk or anywhere else in liberated territory, the war will be extended and continue. Russia may physically have to liberate the whole country, mobilising more forces beyond the small expeditionary force it originally sent.

And then if Western aggression continues, it may have to launch other operations in Moldova and the Baltics in order to liberate those peoples too from NATO Nazism, from their corrupt US-appointed elites and EU exploitation. It may have to rebuild them, so that their peoples, economic refugees from corruption living now in Western Europe, can gratefully come home. Beyond that, as regards Western Europe in general, it too will surely one day find itself liberated one way or another from transatlantic tyranny and threats, safe under the Russian security and nuclear umbrella. Someone must defend Western Europe from the threats which for the moment are still coming from outside Afro-Eurasia, which is 86% of the world. Only Russia can do that. Russian troops once liberated Berlin and Paris. Will it have to happen again and maybe this time be extended to include Rome, Madrid and London?

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“..our Ukraine project “to weaken Russia” brought on an epochal shift in the balance of power to our enormous disadvantage.”

How Low Can You Go? (Jim Kunstler)

Lots of things are going south all at once: the stock markets and bond prices, Bitcoin is doing a vanishing act. The Colorado River reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, are so low that, by September, both water and electricity may run out for a vast region that includes Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Southern California. The housing market is tanking (suburbia’s business model is broken). Whole herds of beef cattle roll over and die out on the range. Fertilizer is scarce. Food processing plants get torched by the dozen. Shortages loom. The oil-and-gas industry is getting killed four ways: 1) our stupid Russia sanctions queered longstanding global distribution arrangements; 2) the industry is starved for capital; 3) depletion is seriously kicking in; and 4) “Joe Biden” and the knuckleheads running the EU countries are trying to kill it so as to usher in a Green New Deal that just doesn’t pencil-out.

The car dealers have no new cars on their lots, and pretty soon they’ll run out of decent used cars — which, these days, are often priced higher than the non-existent new cars. How’s that for a business model? Plus, the financially beaten-up middle-class can’t afford cars in either case, and increasingly can’t qualify for car loans. The airline industry reels with a sucking chest wound due to a pilot shortage (thanks to vaxx mandates) and the high cost of jet fuel. The trucking industry’s business model is also broken with diesel fuel over six dollars a gallon — the cost of delivery exceeds the value of the cargo. America runs on trucks and if they stop running, so does everything else. Replacement parts are growing scarce for every mechanical device in the land. It’s getting harder to fix anything that’s broken.

“Joe Biden’s” proxy war against Russia in Ukraine isn’t working out. It was flamboyantly stupid from the get-go. We deliberately broke the Minsk agreements for a cease-fire in the Donbas to goad the Russians into action. NATO didn’t have the troops or the political mojo to back up its US-inspired bluster. Our financial warfare blew back in our faces and actually benefited the Russian economy and its currency, the ruble. The billions of dollars in weapons we’re sending into the war are easily interdicted in transport, or else are getting loose in a world of non-state maniacs ranging from the Taliban to al Qaeda to drug cartels. Meanwhile, Russia steadfastly grinds out a victory on-the-ground that will leave it in control of the Black Sea and will reveal the USA’s lost capacity to impose its will around the world. In other words, our Ukraine project “to weaken Russia” brought on an epochal shift in the balance of power to our enormous disadvantage.

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“..you are stuck with the albatross of a truncated, bankrupt Ukraine hung around your neck.”

Last Tango in Washington? (Brenner)

Reality has a way of catching up to us. Sometimes it comes via a sudden shock — Sputnik or Tet. Sometimes it creeps up incrementally — as in Ukraine with each thousand round Russian artillery barrage and the steady rise of the ruble now 25 percent higher than at the onset of the crisis. Dim the lights, the party’s almost over. But that is not the end of the affair. Whatever the exact outcomes, there is no going back to the status quo ante — the world, especially Europe, has changed in fundamental respects. Moreover, it has changed in ways diametrically opposite to what was desired and anticipated. The West has been inhabiting a fanciful world that could exist only in our imaginations. Many remain stranded in that self-deluded mirage. The more that we have invested in that fantasy world, the harder we find it to exit and to make the adjustment — intellectual, emotional, behavioral.

[..] Necessity is the mother of invention — or so it is said. However, grasping what is “necessary” can be a very slippery business. An actual recasting of how one views a problematic situation normally is a last resort. Experience and history tell us that, as do behavioral experiments. The psychology of perceived necessity is complex. Adversity or threat in and of itself does not trigger improvisation. Even the survival instinct does not always spark innovation. Denial, then avoidance, are normally the first, sequential reactions when facing adversity in trying to reach an objective or to satisfy a recognized interest. A strong bias favors the reiteration of a standard repertoire of responses.

True innovation tends to occur only in extremis; and even then, behavioral change is more likely to begin with minor adjustments of established thinking and behavior at the margins rather than modification of core beliefs and patterns of action. Those truths underscore the American dilemma as the Ukraine venture turns sour on the battlefield and your enemy is faring far better than expected while your friends and allies are faring far worse. Russia has blunted everything thrown at them – to the shock of Western planners. Every assumption underpinning their scorched-earth assault on the Russian economy has proven mistaken. A dismal record of analytical error even by C.I.A. and think tank standards.

Off-the-charts forecasts on the country’s economy, and the global impact of sanctions, crippled Washington’s plan from the outset. Tactical initiatives of a military nature have proven equally futile; another 1,000 vintage Javelins with dead battery packs will not rescue the Ukrainian army in the Donbass. So, you are stuck with the albatross of a truncated, bankrupt Ukraine hung around your neck. There is nothing that you can do to cancel these givens — except a direct, perhaps suicidal test of force with Russia. Or, perhaps, a retaliatory challenge elsewhere. The latter is not readily available — for geographic reasons and because the West already has expended its arsenal of economic and political weaponry.

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Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

The Ukrainian Endgame: An Imperfect Peace Is Better Than Endless War (Bandow)

For good reason, then, Americans worry about deepening US involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian war. While it is unsurprising that Kyiv and its Washington factotums advocate going all in, even risking escalation of the conflict, doing so is not in this nation’s interests. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden’s recent article in the New York Time did little to ease public concerns. Especially his promise not to “pressure the Ukrainian government – in private or public – to make any territorial concessions.” The US and Europe should focus on ending, not winning, the war. The longer the conflict goes, the more it will devastate Ukraine and undermine the Ukrainian state. The economic harm to the allies and beyond also will grow, weakening support for Kyiv.

An American attempt to carry Ukraine to victory is more likely to encourage Putin to double down, perhaps even using nuclear weapons, than meekly yield. Washington’s goal should not be to save the Russian dictator from personal humiliation, which retired diplomat Dan Fried deemed “risible,” but to forestall Putin from engaging in dangerous escalation to prevent personal humiliation. Life is unfair, President Jimmy Carter once observed. That is especially true when it comes to international affairs. In a perfect world Ukraine would recover its territory, including that seized in 2014, collect reparations from Moscow, and frame Putin’s written apology for invading. However, none of these should be Washington’s objective. The US should promote a stable, peaceful settlement, one that keeps the Pandora’s Box of nuclear war closed.

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“..reviewed higher up the chain of command at the Pentagon..”

US Drone Sale To Ukraine Hits Snag (R.)

The Biden administration’s plan to sell four large, armable drones to Ukraine has been paused on the fear its sophisticated surveillance equipment might fall into enemy hands, according to two people familiar with the matter. The technical objection to the sale was raised during a deeper review by the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration charged with keeping high value technology safe from enemy hands. Previously the plan, which has been circulating since March, had been approved by the White House, three people said. The plan to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that can be armed with Hellfire missiles for battlefield use against Russia was first reported by Reuters earlier in June.

The objection to the export of the drones arose due to concerns the radar and surveillance equipment on the drones could create a security risk for the United States if it fell into Russian hands. The sources said this consideration had been overlooked in the initial review but came up in meetings at the Pentagon late last week. “Technology security reviews are a standard practice for the transfer of U.S. defense articles to all international partners. All cases are reviewed individually on their own merit. Through the established process, national security concerns are elevated to the appropriate approving authority,” said Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough. The decision on whether or not to continue with the deal is now being reviewed higher up the chain of command at the Pentagon, but the timing of any decision is uncertain, one of the people a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

Read more …

Adam Schiff did it.

Stephen Colbert Staffers At House Office Charged With Illegal Entry (Fox)

The U.S. Capitol Police arrested a group of staffers with CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” after they allegedly illegally entered a U.S. House of Representatives office building on Thursday night, Fox News has learned. The group of seven people were arrested in the Longworth House Office Building after being escorted out of the Jan. 6 committee hearing earlier in the day because they did not have proper press credentials, according to sources. The same group resurfaced later on Thursday night after the Capitol complex was closed to public visitors and Fox News is told that they took videos and pictures around the offices of two Republican members of Congress, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy R-Calif. and Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

A senior source in the U.S House of Representatives told Fox News that seven individuals associated with Stephen Colbert’s show were arrested. The group was unescorted and charged with illegal entry to House office buildings after hours. Fox News is told that the “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” team applied to get press credentials for the Jan. 6 hearing, but the House Radio/TV Gallery rejected the request because they are not considered “news.” The issue didn’t go to the Radio/TV Correspondents Association, which usually handles credentialing. In addition to a regular Capitol Hill press pass, a special “overlay” is required for members of the press who want to be in the room for the Jan. 6 Committee hearings.

Members of Colbert’s team could have been in House office buildings if they were invited, which they were. Fox News is told that Colbert’s team conducted interviews earlier on Thursday with members of the Jan. 6 Committee, including Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. and Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. They also interviewed Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass. [..] “On June 16, 2022, at approximately 8:30 p.m., U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) received a call for a disturbance in the Longworth House Office Building. Responding officers observed seven individuals, unescorted and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway. The building was closed to visitors, and these individuals were determined to be a part of a group that had been directed by the USCP to leave the building earlier in the day,” the statement says. “They were charged with Unlawful Entry. This is an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney.”

Tucker Colbert

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“We are investigating the domestic and international business dealings of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to determine whether these activities compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality..”

Hunter Biden’s ‘Troubling’ Connection With Big-Name Hollywood Lawyer Probed (ET)

The ranking member of the House’s principal oversight committee has launched a probe into a Hollywood lawyer’s “sudden patronage” of Hunter Biden allegedly involving financial and pro-bono legal support. “We are investigating the domestic and international business dealings of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to determine whether these activities compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, wrote to Hollywood attorney Kevin Morris on behalf of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in a letter dated June 14.

“Your sudden patronage of the President’s son, enormous financial contributions to President Biden, and outsized role you are taking in defending against both congressional and criminal investigations raise serious concerns about whether you are providing in-kind contributions to President Biden’s re-election efforts,” Comer wrote. Morris is known for negotiating a $550 million licensing deal for the creators of “South Park” and has won a Tony award as a co-producer of the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon.” His law firm has represented Hollywood celebrities including Chris Rock, Scarlett Johansson, and Matthew McConaughey. Comer’s letter came after a New York Times report in early May that alleged that Morris has taken on a “financier, confidant and would-be avenger” for the president’s son.

The latter is under federal investigation into his tax payments and alleged foreign deals with entities affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Morris donated $2,800 to Joe Biden’s campaign “Biden for President” in October 2019, and a total of $55,000 in 2020 to the American Bridge 21st Century Political Action Committee, which supported Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The New York Times reported that these donations occurred before Morris met and developed a relationship with the president’s son. According to Comer, the oversight committee Republicans are “particularly troubled” in seeing Morris’s alleged role in “attempting to personally shield Hunter Biden from congressional and criminal investigation.”

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You won’t know what hit you.

Deflationary Tsunami On Deck: Tidal Wave Of Discounts And Crashing Prices (ZH)

Three weeks ago, we showed readers what happens when the infamous “Bullwhip effect” reversal takes place by presenting the unprecedented surge in the “Inventory to Sales” ratio for a broad range of US retailers covering the furniture, home furnishings and appliances, building materials and garden equipment, and a category known as “other general merchandise,” which includes Walmart and Target. Since then, this ratio has only gotten even more extended, and as shown below it is now at the highest level since the bursting of the dot com bubble! What does this mean for retailers and the price of goods? Three weeks ago we said “Think: widespread inventory liquidations” and added…

To be sure, not every product will see its price cut: commodities, whose bullwhip effect take much longer to manifest itself, usually lasting several years in either direction, are only just starting to see their price cycle higher. However, other products – like those carried by the Walmarts and Targets of the world – are about to see a deflationary plunge the likes of which we have not seen since the global financial crisis as retailers commence a voluntary destocking wave the likes of which have not been seen in over a decade. Today both Wall Street and the mainstream media have caught up, with both predicting unprecedented deflationary price cuts in the coming weeks.

We start with Morgan Stanley’s bearish strategist Michael Wilson, who in his latest bearish weekly note (available to pro subs) focused on shrinking margins in general, and on retailer discounting in particular, and wrote that while there is a modest pick up in over sales, the far more concerning issue is that “inventory across the sector is up about 30% YOY and sales growth is up about 0% YOY translating to approximately 30% YOY of excess inventory” and while mark down/margin pressure did not hit in 1Q it should hit June/July. Indeed, “store checks show that aggressive discounting has already started as of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Discounting pressure could accelerate through July.” And since more retailers are now discounting, “companies are having to offer even bigger discounts to compel consumers to buy, and it is a race to the bottom in margins in order to clear through inventory.”

It gets much worse, however, because courtesy of the delayed nature of the bullwhip effect, Morgan Stanley thinks it will be some time before retailers can cut back on forward inventory orders! Companies are no longer in a position to order 6 months in advance because of delays in the supply chain, and are currently working with about an 8 month lead time. Shockingly, this means decisions today to cut forward orders could begin to eliminate the inventory problem in 1Q23, but not likely before then.

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“The elected Prime Minister stated that it’s time for Julian to come home..”

Britain Orders Extradition Of Julian Assange To United States (ABC.au)

The British government has ordered the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, but WikiLeaks said it would appeal against the ruling. Home Secretary Priti Patel made the decision after Mr Assange was denied a Supreme Court appeal back in March. That case related to Mr Assange’s physical and mental health, and the US government won after offering assurances he would not be held in solitary confinement. The Home Office said in a statement: “The UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. “Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

The decision is a big moment in Mr Assange’s years-long battle to avoid facing trial in the US — though not necessarily the end of the tale. The 50-year-old Australian still has 14 days to appeal against his extradition based on issues like freedom of speech, arguing the espionage charges against him are politically motivated. “Today is not the end of the fight. It is only the beginning of a new legal battle,” Mr Assange’s wife Stella said. Ms Assange also called for Australian Prime Minister Albanese to apply some pressure. “Our expectation as a family is the Australian government will do whatever it takes to get him home,” she said. The Australian federal government says it will continue to offer consular assistance to Mr Assange.

“We will continue to convey our expectations that Mr Assange is entitled to due process, humane and fair treatment, access to proper medical care, and access to his legal team,” said a joint statement released late on Friday night from Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus. “The Australian government has been clear in our view that Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and that it should be brought to a close. “We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and [the] United States.” Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has labelled the decision by the UK government to green-light the extradition as an “outrageous betrayal of rule of law, media freedom and human rights”. “The elected Prime Minister stated that it’s time for Julian to come home,” Mr Wilkie said, “enough is enough, that he couldn’t see what was served by Julian remaining in prison.

Stella Moris

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Sep 272020

Louis Anquetin Girl Reading a Newspaper 1890



What I am wondering about: Why hasn’t US late night TV “comedy” circuit dug into Joe Biden when he provides them with so much material? Am I the only one who’s been puzzled about that?

It’s not specifically about Biden, he’s just a tool in a game, for late night comedy, it’s all about Donald Trump, and they ignore that beyond him, there’s a naked bloody battle between two US political parties. But why would comedians want to take sides in that battle? And is doing that a good idea for their careers? I could have opened with:” Late Night Biden? There’s no such thing, Joe’s fast asleep by then”! But the only people who would say such a thing today are in the Trump camp, not in late night “comedy”.

When I was living in Montreal and Ottawa I was a big admirer of US late night TV. Carson was way before my time, but Letterman was still there. Never was a big Leno fan. And then came the next generation, Jon Stewart was great, so was Stephen Colbert in his right wing parody on Jon’s show. Only, what happened then? You now have your Stephen Colbert 2.0 (no parody, no fun), Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers et al, Jimmy Kimmel perhaps.

All of whom have been doing the Orange Man Bad theme for four years running, all the while thinking that is funny. But repetition is predictable, and doing the same “jokes” about the same topic day after day is not funny. Sure, for your echo chamber perhaps, but come on! Things are either funny or they are not. Once they’re only funny in your head, or kitchen, or whatever, they no longer are. It’s not a big stretch.

Late night talk show became late night comedy with Jon Stewart, but nobody continued the format after he left. His successors did the same thing the NYT, WaPo, MSNBC and CNN did: play only to half their potential audience. Simply because they knew it was great for ratings and clickbait. Half the audience doesn’t sound good, but wait till you see that who’s left pays a hundred times more attention, because they hate the subject of your “jokes” even more than you do.

Saturday Night Live announced recently that Jim Carrey will play Joe Biden on SNL, and all I could think of is the great Twitter comment that said: “Nobody can be funnier playing Joe Biden than Joe Biden.” Dead on. So why would Carrey try? To make Biden less funny? You’d almost think so.

Of course I see that following US late night TV is almost impossible if you no longer live in North America. But from what I have managed to see of Jon Stewart’s successors it’s all the same. It’s party politics disguised as fun. It’s echo chamber induced deafness. But yeah, that’s just me, I’m sure people who for whatever reason don’t like Trump, or never did, may have been laughing their hearts out every single night for 4 years. But that doesn’t define “humor”. Real humor is something everyone can share.

In very much the same vein, I used to really dig Bruce Springsteen. But when he started campaigning for Obama, and the whole The Rising thing happened in DC, I no longer did. Not because of Obama, but because a songwriter, much like a late night comedian, should always steer clear of partisanship. That is, in my never very humble opinion.

Bob Dylan never did. He gave his opinion, but never about individuals. Well, maybe in Jokerman, but that was never about campaigning. Obama went on to bomb 8 different countries, kill 100s of 1000s of people in those countries, and establish open air slave markets in Libya while he was at it. Anyone ever ask Springsteen how he feels about that?

And I was still thinking: let it go. Because the whole thing has become so polarized, you’re never going to reach out from one end of the spectrum to the other anyway. The trenches have been dug. But then I see things like this, from a site named Deadline (Hollywood history since 1996):


Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah Fear For Trump “Coup D’Etat” If Biden Wins Election: “Who Knows What Could Happen”

President Donald Trump hasn’t promised that there will be a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Joe Biden for the 2020 presidential Election. While the president remains mum, late-night hosts Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers warn viewers about what Trump’s refusal to leave in peace may bring. “Trump refusing to say that he would leave office if he loses is a scary thought because who knows what could happen with that kind of threat,” Noah grieved during Thursday’s episode of The Daily Show.

The Comedy Central host said during his segment that the President’s potential move would be unlike any other. Saying that “the world’s oldest democracy is about to become the world’s newest dictatorship,” Noah said that such political refusal seems un-American. “I never thought I’d see the day where an American president would threaten not to accept an election defeat,” he said. “Let’s be honest, this is something you hear about in some random country where America steps in to enforce democracy. I feel like now it’s only fair that those countries should send peacekeepers to the U.S.,” he added.

If Trump truly refuses to vacate the presidency for Biden, “one of the world’s most famous landlords” will turn “into the world’s most famous squatter,” Noah kidded during the segment. He also quipped that Trump, in order to remain in the White House for as long as possible, might live in the basement as Biden sits atop – à la Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. Similarly, Meyers criticized Trump for his failure to confirm a peaceful transfer of power. “He’s threatening a coup d’etat even though I’m sure he has no idea what the phrase ‘coup d’etat’ means,” the Late Night host said. “He probably thinks it’s a lyric from Moulin Rouge!“

Like Noah, Meyers said Americans are seeing democracy transform into an “autocratic regime” in real time. He even quipped that if Trump stays in office, it won’t be long until he parks a military tank on Pennsylvania Avenue and dons green fatigues and a long beard.


But of course, and you read my mind on this, Trump is not the funniest topic anymore. Certainly not after 4 years depleting that topic night after night. That doesn’t mean there was never anything funny about him, it means 4 years is a long time to spend on one topic. Biden, however, is a whole different story. But I’ve never seen any of these late night comic geniuses, who all have dozens of people writing “jokes” for them, go for -or after- Biden.

Are they scared of doing that? Do they fear their viewers won’t like that angle? Are they fully in cahoots with the DNC and MSM? Or, more to the point, should they ever let things like that play into their decisions of what will be funny or not? Well, apparently they do. Because Biden has come up with more whoppers than we can even try to keep track of, and not a word- that I’ve seen- from late night US comedy. I truly wonder what Jon Stewart thinks about that, just like I wonder what Springsteen has to say about open air slave markets in Libya.

Here are a few Biden bloopers for your perusal that those very well-paid masters of comedy didn’t think were funny. Be your own judge. No, I did not go looking for them, on purpose. I really just happenstanced upon them. I have no doubt there are tons more of these videos. They’re just not late night comedy material, apparently. Please tell me why that is. Please tell me why all these people who live off of those shows find nothing about this funny, while I, time and again, think it’s hilarious.

It’s not a party political issue, It’s just really funny. Or, alternatively, please tell me why it’s not. Or even just imagine if Trump had said the things Biden did in these tapes, and none of the late night hosts would have presented that as funny. I’m waiting.

At this point, I don’t think there’s any possible way you could convince me that Joe Biden is not a whole huge lot funnier than all the Late Night shows put together. But you can try!

And after you watched all that, but only after you did, please tell me how you will feel if on January 20, 2021, that booming voice will announce: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States of America”!



Biden bloopers 5 min



Biden bloopers 20 min




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“As we get herded into our echo chambers of self-reinforcing information, we lose more and more sense of the real world and of each other. With it, our ability to empathise and compromise is eroded.”

– Jonathan Cook, commenting on the Julian Assange hearings.



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