Nov 262023
 
 November 26, 2023  Posted by at 9:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Giorgio de Chirico Piazza d’Italia 1913

 

The Gaza Truce Is A Sign That Hamas Can’t Be Defeated (Inlakesh)
Hamas ‘Remains Strong’ After 49 Day Fight: Israeli Media (Cradle)
Biden Endorses Israel’s War To Eliminate Gaza (Aaron Maté)
The Thanksgiving Truce (Lauria)
Second Nakba; Same Israeli Lies; Same Western Narrative (Cook)
Israel Receives Third List Of Hostages To Be Released From Gaza (Az.)
US-German ‘Peace Talks Plot’ Shows West on Brink of Losing Ukraine (Sp.)
Ukraine Will ‘Strengthen EU’ – Baerbock (RT)
Germany Today Could Do What Hitler Did But Faster – Hungary’s Top MP (RT)
The Mind-Bending Politics of RFK Jr.’s Spoiler Campaign (NYMag)
The Invisible Hand Just Slapped Disney (Turley)
Bill Gates, Jeffrey Epstein and a Global Health Investment Fund (BB)
Jeffrey Sachs Says COVID About ‘Massive Government Lying’ (NM)

 

 


Some pictures do not need a caption.
– Banksy

 

 

Saudi Arabia Leaders Warns U.S To Stop Israel Or Face Its Wrath

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Middle East Will Cause WW3! Iran will ENTER Israel!!

 

 

Inevitable victory for Russia | Ukraine is crushed – Douglas Macgregor

 

 

Fed

 

 


2005. Not guilty.

 

 

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

 

 

 

 

“At this time, it appears that the idea that “Hamas must go” is no more than a pipe dream.”

The Gaza Truce Is A Sign That Hamas Can’t Be Defeated (Inlakesh)

After repeatedly rejecting a truce with Hamas and labeling the idea “ridiculous”, Israel agreed to a four-day cessation of hostilities in Gaza and a prisoner exchange. Six weeks of death and destruction, which Israeli and Western leaders declared should have led to the destruction of Hamas, have now bolstered the Palestinian movement’s image throughout the Arab world and beyond.The four-day truce that was implemented this Friday provided a sigh of relief for those most affected by the war in the Gaza Strip, but has in many ways spelled disaster for the Israeli government. As women and children, held captive by both Hamas and Israel, are being reunited with their families, the threat of further warfare looms. Although the loved ones of those released are now celebrating, the next steps will be crucial in determining the final outcomes of the 46-day battle that has now been placed on pause. At this time, it appears that the idea that “Hamas must go” is no more than a pipe dream.

On October 27, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to the sound of overwhelming applause, calling for a truce to stop the fighting in the Gaza Strip. Although the non-binding resolution passed with a majority of 120 votes in favour, Israel and the United States outright rejected it. Tabled by Arab nations, the call for a truce was labeled as a “defense of Nazi terrorists” by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. This came after Hamas released four Israeli civilian hostages without conditions, for what the group said were humanitarian reasons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in his emergency war government, have repeatedly stated their goal of crushing Hamas and allied Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, refusing to negotiate with them. The six-week-long aerial bombardment of densely populated civilian areas in the besieged Palestinian enclave, which also morphed into a ground war, has claimed over 20,000 lives according to some estimates, but failed to eliminate Hamas. In fact, Israeli forces have not been able to show a single significant military achievement against the Palestinian armed groups. While Hamas claim to have struck 355 Israeli military vehicles during the past two weeks of fighting, publishing video evidence of dozens of attacks, Israeli forces have failed to assassinate senior leaders of Hamas, to free hostages by force, uncover major tunnel networks, or even publish proof that they have killed a significant number of Hamas fighters on the battlefield.

According to the Calcalist financial newspaper, the Gaza war was estimated early on to cost around $50 billion, roughly 10% of Israel’s GDP. In addition to this, the Israeli military has reportedly suffered losses in intelligence and monitoring equipment along their northern border, due to attacks carried out by the Lebanese group Hezbollah. Yemen’s Ansarallah also seized a ship in the Red Sea, owned by an Israeli businessman, which has severely impacted trade through the southern port city of Eilat. This is not factoring in the inevitable long-term effects on things like Israel’s tourism sector or investment in its high-tech industry.

Palestinian Ambassador to UK

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“..the Military Oversight Authority is refusing to allow Israeli media to show an action map of its progress in Gaza, fearing that it will show how little the army has achieved..”

Hamas ‘Remains Strong’ After 49 Day Fight: Israeli Media (Cradle)

Following the implementation of a four-day truce in Gaza, the Israeli media is flush with reports that Hamas remains strong after 49 days of fighting, and that the Israeli military is losing the war. Following the 7 October Hamas attack on Israeli settlements surrounding the Gaza strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to eliminate Hamas. But despite Israel’s horrific bombing campaign and ground operation in Gaza that has killed some 15,000 Palestinians, the majority women and children, the Israeli media is reporting that Hamas remains in control of the conflict. Following the release of the first batch of Israelis held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hebrew language Channel 12 said that on 25 November, “Whoever is in a hurry to mourn Hamas should look at this day to understand that this is not the reality.

“After 49 days of fighting, Hamas has proven that it is still strong, and that it still controls the Gaza Strip.” The channel noted that Hamas successfully completed the exchange of captives, including one held by another Palestinian faction, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, despite claims it had lost control over its fighters and cells. “After all this, the scene of Hamas kneeling is still a long way off,” the channel added. The Israeli channel’s military affairs correspondent, Nir Dvory, said that the Hamas movement “has not collapsed yet,” noting that the Israeli army “failed to liquidate the movement’s officials” whom it declared targets of its operations. Hours after the temporary truce took effect between the Israeli occupation and the resistance in Gaza on Friday, criticism began to appear for not achieving the declared goals of the war on the Gaza Strip.

According to Channel 12, the Military Oversight Authority is refusing to allow Israeli media to show an action map of its progress in Gaza, fearing that it will show how little the army has achieved. Israeli media reported as well that Reserve Major General Israel Ziv stated that if Hamas currently succeeds in stopping the continuation of the fighting, “it has emerged victorious.” At the same time, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported the intelligence capabilities of the Palestinian resistance are much more sophisticated than previously known. The newspaper’s military affairs analyst, Yossi Yehoshua, revealed the Israeli army found documents in a Hamas base in Gaza that included details of the structure and social composition of Israel’s Paratroopers Brigade, as well as pictures of the former brigade commander and other officers who had ended their service.

The extent and complexity of Hamas’ tunnel system also surprised Israel’s military,Yedioth Ahronoth reported. An officer admitted that the resistance tunnels in the northern Gaza Strip, those closest to the border with Israel, were “deep, long, and operational in a way that was fundamentally different from what Israeli intelligence estimated.” The Israeli officer said, “No one imagined that this is what we would find there.”

Tapper

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“.. it will be difficult to continue with a ground maneuver in the southern Gaza Strip should public anger over what will be perceived as abandoning women and children increase.”

Biden Endorses Israel’s War To Eliminate Gaza (Aaron Maté)

In rationalizing his continued support for Israeli aggression, Biden echoed the Netanyahu government’s claim that its attacks have forced Hamas to negotiate the captives’ release. “I don’t trust Hamas to do anything right,” Biden told reporters during his Thanksgiving vacation. “I only trust Hamas to respond to pressure.” The available evidence shows otherwise. As Mohammad Alsaafin notes, the thousands of Palestinians – and an unknown numbers of Israeli and other foreign captives — killed by Israeli bombings “did not have to die—not just because Israel could have refrained from targeting civilians, which it has clearly refused to do, but because the contours of the deal announced Wednesday have been on the table for weeks.” On Oct. 26th, Hamas official Ali Barakeh laid out the terms for a proposed hostage exchange similar to those reached this week.

“We are ready to let them all leave,” Barakeh told the Washington Post. That same day, senior Qatari negotiator Mohmmed al Khulaifi said that he believed “all civilian hostages” could be freed if Israel would pause its bombardment of Gaza. Rather than engage with these overtures, Israel launched a ground invasion the following day. According to Western and Arab officials interviewed by the New York Times, Israel’s Oct. 27th ground invasion thwarted the release of up to 50 captives in exchange for a bombing pause. The talks were additionally “stymied” by Israel’s decision to cut off Gaza’s telecommunications network, which meant Qatari officials and Hamas “struggled to make quick, consistent contact.” Another obstacle was Israel’s initial refusal of Hamas’ demand to free Palestinian “women and minors held without charge” from Israeli prisons — the captives that Western audiences are not supposed to care about.

After undermining a hostage deal with its ground invasion of Gaza, Israel thwarted another opportunity with last week’s attack on Al-Shifa hospital. On Nov. 14th, Israel relayed its acceptance of a similar offer to Hamas’ original. But hours later, after Israeli forces stormed Al-Shifa, Hamas made clear that “[t]he deal was off,” according to the Times. “It had looked like towards the end of that day … that we were closing in and [then] everything stalled,” a senior US official told the Washington Post. According to one source familiar with the talks, Hamas was “concerned about the evacuations of patients, including premature babies, and attacks on other hospitals.”

According to Israeli military correspondent Amos Harel of Haaretz, Israel’s decision to accept a deal this week stemmed from “not only… the terms of the deal,” which “improved somewhat,” but a more important imperative: sustaining the Gaza assault over the long-term. The Israeli “security establishment,” Harel writes, has developed the “understanding that the outcry of the hostages’ families is arousing broad public support, and that it will be difficult to continue with a ground maneuver in the southern Gaza Strip should public anger over what will be perceived as abandoning women and children increase.” In other words, to keep killing Palestinian women and children caged in Gaza, Israel decided that it must finally stop abandoning the Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza.

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“..ultimately, both Israel and U.S. politicians depend on the support of the American people..”

The Thanksgiving Truce (Lauria)

Israel has long depended on American military aid and diplomatic support to pursue its interests in the Middle East. Without such backing, especially in a time of open warfare, it is doubtful that Israel could for long pursue its goals in Gaza. American politicians likewise depend on support from Israel and its lobby in the United States to pursue their political careers. But ultimately, both Israel and U.S. politicians depend on the support of the American people. There was already a trend, especially among young Americans, many of them Jews, to no longer lend unconditional support to Israel. This became evident with the growing popularity of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement among American youth, causing individual states to pass laws outlawing the movement.

The trend towards rejecting the mainstream media’s whitewashed history of Israel and Palestine, and the growing understanding that Israel was established in 1948 largely through the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their ancestral homes and land, has only intensified with Israel’s current onslaught against Gaza.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden know that if they lose the American people they are both in serious trouble. Biden is already feeling the heat from American voters because of his handling of Gaza. He can pretty much kiss the swing state of Michigan goodbye with its large Arab population. But polls show many Democrats across the entire country also strongly disapprove.

Palestinian Americans sued in federal court on Nov. 16 to immediately force Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to stop providing additional weapons, money and military and diplomatic support to Israel. A motion from the Center for Constitutional Rights’ for preliminary injunction charges that: “Defendants have been on notice of the risk of genocide since at least October 9, if not already on October 7, through the public and widely circulated statements and actions by Israeli officials with whom they were in close, regular contact and consultation, as well as by warnings of indicators of genocide from United Nations officials and other sources that have only increased since then.”

Israel understands that to maintain U.S. government support, without which it cannot continue its genocidal goals, it needs to keep the U.S. public on side, lest it bring pressure on Biden and Congress to finally cut off aid to stop the massacres. Right now Netanyahu sees Americans dangerously turning against Israel and the Biden administration. Weekly protests and American Jews taking over Grand Central Station (which the New York governor called “a major incident”) are clearly alarming Washington and Tel Aviv, (not to mention London, Berlin and Paris where it’s illegal to support the Palestinians.) Is it therefore a coincidence that a 4-day ceasefire allowing cameras to show food trucks delivering aid to Gazans coincides with the 4-day U.S. Thanksgiving holiday?

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“The final destination is clearly in view, as, in truth, it has been for more than seven decades..”

Second Nakba; Same Israeli Lies; Same Western Narrative (Cook)

After its mass ethnic cleansing operations of 1948 and 1967, Israel tried to manage the remaining Palestinian population through the traditional apartheid model of herding the natives into reservations, as its predecessors did with the remnants of the “locals” who survived their efforts at extermination. Any caution on Israel’s part derived from the different political climate it had to operate in: international law became more central after World War II, with clear definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The West wilfully mischaracterises Israel’s process of dispossessing and ghettoising these remaining Palestinians as a “conflict” because they refuse to submit quietly to the apartheid, ghettoisation model. Now, Israel’s management approach to the Palestinians has broken down completely — for two main reasons.

First, the Palestinians, aided by new technologies that have made it more difficult to keep them out of view, have attracted ever widening popular support – and most problematically, among Western publics. The Palestinians have also managed to bring their cause to international forums, even gaining recognition as a state by a majority of members of the United Nations. Potentially, they even have redress in the West’s international legal institutions, like the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. As a result, subduing the Palestinians — or maintaining “calm”, as Western establishments prefer to call it — has become more and more difficult and expensive. And second, on Oct. 7, Hamas proved that Palestinian resistance cannot be contained even under a siege enforced by drones, and an Iron Dome interception system protecting Israel from retaliatory rockets. In such circumstances, Palestinians have shown they will seek surprising and creative ways to break out of their confinement and bring their oppression into the spotlight.

In fact, given the West’s dulled sensitivities to Palestinian suffering, militant factions are likely to deduce that headline-grabbing atrocities — mirroring Israel’s own historic approach to the Palestinians — are the only way to gain attention. Israel understands that the Palestinians are going to continue being a thorn in its side, a reminder that Israel is not a normal state. And the struggle to correct Israel’s decades of dispossessing and brutalising Palestinians will become ever more a defining moral cause among Western publics, as the fight against apartheid South Africa once was. So Israel is taking advantage of this moment to “finish the job”. The final destination is clearly in view, as, in truth, it has been for more than seven decades. The crime is unfolding step by step, the pace quickening. And yet senior politicians and journalists in the West, like their predecessors, continue to be blind to it all.

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Qatar is trying hard to extend the truce.

Israel Receives Third List Of Hostages To Be Released From Gaza (Az.)

Israel has received a list of hostages to be released in the third stage of the implementation of a ceasefire agreement, the Kan radio station noted, Report informs referring to TASS. According to the Times of Israel newspaper, the Israeli prime minister’s office has notified the families of those on the list handed over by Qatar. The third group of hostages may be released on Sunday. The Palestinian movement Hamas announced on November 22 that an agreement on a four-day humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip had been reached through the mediation of Qatar and Egypt. The agreement stipulates the release of 50 women and children under the age of 19 who are held in Gaza in exchange for the release of 150 women and children under the age of 19 from Israeli prisons.

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“..Kiev now faces the last moment when it can lay claim to more or less acceptable terms of a truce with Moscow…”

US-German ‘Peace Talks Plot’ Shows West on Brink of Losing Ukraine (Sp.)

Washington and Berlin have reportedly kicked off a plot to push Ukraine for negotiations with Russia by slashing military supplies to Kiev and leaving Volodymyr Zelensky with little if any options, according to the German publication [Bild]. According to Bild, there is also a plan B envisaging a frozen conflict that would solidify a new quasi-border between Ukraine and Russia along the contact line. “First, [this report] should be seen in a specific temporal context,” Dmitry Evstafiev, a political scientist and High School of Economics (HSE) University professor, told Sputnik. “This is not a statement, of course, this is a publicity stunt. It appeared in the media almost immediately after the end of the meeting of the notorious Ramstein group that has made an essential decision to create the [Ground Based] Air Defense coalition to strengthen air defense.

“Moreover, it is quite obvious that they will strengthen not so much the air defense of Ukraine, but the air defense of the countries bordering Ukraine. Therefore, this is a kind of first proposal that it is necessary to take certain political steps that would indicate that Ukraine is ready for negotiations.” The second aspect is an interview given by the leader of the Servant of the People faction, Davyd Arakhamia, which is “clearly synchronized with the West.” According to Evstafiev, it is “even more indicative against the backdrop of problems at the front.” Speaking to Western journalists, Arakhamia noted that Russia’s main condition during the March 2022 peace talks with Kiev was Ukraine’s neutrality and guarantees that the Eastern European country wouldn’t join NATO. (It was Arakhamia who headed the Ukrainian delegation during the negotiations with Russians in Belarus and Türkiye in 2022.)

In addition, he debunked the Western media narrative that Russia does not want to negotiate peace with Ukraine by saying that Moscow is open to talks and it may start them when Kiev is ready. “At the moment, [Western] support to Kiev is becoming more and more politically expensive/costly, or whatever you want to call it, for the key countries that provide assistance, these are, first of all: Germany and the United States,” said Evstafiev. “The United States has already almost halted aid [to Ukraine]. Of course, there will still be a revaluation through the Pentagon, but one can no longer expect large packages.”

“Assistance from the European Union will be largely aimed at maintaining the functionality of the public administration system and some kind of social support, but not so much for military support. Therefore, the first point is that support for Kiev has become toxic in terms of politics. “The second point, which is absolutely clearly visible from the statements of Western sources, is that Kiev now faces the last moment when it can lay claim to more or less acceptable terms of a truce with Moscow. (…) The third point – which Westerners do not conceal – is that Russia will agree to any starting conditions for these negotiations. Arakhamia speaks about this directly, openly and without hesitation.”

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What a drama that woman is.

Ukraine Will ‘Strengthen EU’ – Baerbock (RT)

The EU and NATO will continue to back Ukraine because they view such support as geopolitically critical, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said. Speaking at the Green Party Conference in Karlsruhe on Saturday, Baerbock argued that the European Union has to accept Kiev, as it can no longer afford any gray areas in Europe. “It’s in our own geopolitical interest that Ukraine joins the European Union, which is why we will not only continue our support for Ukraine, but also strengthen it in the EU and NATO,” she said, stressing that “Europe is our life insurance and that’s what is important and geostrategically crucial.” “Today it is clear that Ukraine will strengthen the EU in the foreseeable future,” she stressed.

Last month, Baerbock said that Ukraine’s future “lies in” the EU, including regions that were incorporated by Russia in 2022 but are still claimed by Kiev. “[The EU] will soon stretch from Lisbon to Lugansk,” Baerbock told journalists on the sidelines of the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in the Ukrainian capital. Reiterating Berlin’s stance that Ukraine should join the EU, Baerbock said the same applies to Moldova, Georgia and potentially the Western Balkans, so as to leave no “gray areas” in Europe. However, earlier in November, she admitted that the bloc itself would have to undergo “tedious” reforms to properly function with so many members. Germany is Ukraine’s second-largest donor of military aid behind the US, and Baerbock has become one of the most vocal advocates of Kiev since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Berlin recently pledged to “expand and increase” its support for Kiev in the coming years. Berlin is planning to provide another air-defense system and electricity generators as part of the so-called “winter protection umbrella” scheme.Having spent some $18.2 billion providing military assistance to Kiev, Germany still trails far behind the US, which has spent around $45 billion, according to Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Russia has stated that Western arms supplies to Ukraine have failed to have a significant impact on the frontline. In early November, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that “despite the supply of new kinds of NATO weapons, the Kiev regime is losing.” The Russian military has also regularly published photos and videos of destroyed Ukrainian heavy armor, including German-made Leopard tanks.

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Sink Germany, that is.

Germany Today Could Do What Hitler Did But Faster – Hungary’s Top MP (RT)

Germany is destroying itself faster than under Adolf Hitler’s rule, while the UN is nothing but a front company for propaganda, Hungarian parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover has said. The senior MP, well-known for repeatedly making various controversial statements, produced a flurry of inflammatory remarks on Thursday when he spoke at a sovereignty-protection forum held in the central Hungarian town of Jaszapati. The speaker launched a bitter attack on Germany, comparing its current leadership to that of the Hitler era.“We have no reason to be happy that the Germans are destroying themselves and are doing so with a whirlwind speed, perhaps faster than Hitler did,” Kover asserted.

Hitler needed 12 years to accomplish this, those who are now [in Berlin] do not even need 12 years to send Germany to the ground in every sense, economically and socially. Apart from obliterating German leadership, the top MP was also highly critical of the EU, as well as the UN. He blasted the United Nations as a mere “front company” without any weight and being used only for propaganda purposes. Kover, who is a co-founder of Hungary’s Fidesz party, compared the European Union to the Warsaw Pact, a long-defunct Cold War-era security system established by the USSR and its Eastern European satellites, including Hungary. Nowadays, Brussels effectively plays the same role as Moscow used to play at the time, the MP suggested, insisting that Budapest was at war only with the Eurobureaucracy rather than with the EU itself. “The Union is us,” he stressed.

Kover’s speech at the forum also included a personal touch, as he launched a bitter attack on the US ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, stating the top diplomat actually meant that little to him, he literally considered Washington’s envoy in Budapest a “non-existent” person. “He is not persona non-grata, but rather a non-person,” the speaker stated. “For me, for example, he’s a non-existent person who sometimes appears. I don’t know who he is, what he wants, he’s supposed to be an ambassador, but he doesn’t act like one.” It “doesn’t matter” what the US diplomat relays to the Hungarian government – and otherwise – given that Pressman apparently came to the country with a firm belief he was actually sent to govern it, Kover explained.

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“Theoretically, any of these candidates earning just a small percentage in one key state could be enough to fuck up the whole map for the major parties — much less all of them..”

The Mind-Bending Politics of RFK Jr.’s Spoiler Campaign (NYMag)

“Kennedy” and “Democrat” had become practically synonymous since the family landed in America in 1848. “I have a strong emotional connection to the party,” he said. He didn’t want to leave. “I was very resistant to it.” But it was the way forward: “Life is a series of separations … I feel like I didn’t really have a choice.” The choice he did make landed like a Big Bang, its impact immediately redefining the contours of presidential politics. The general election is now projected to be a three-way race between Biden, Trump, and their mutual, Kennedy, with a cluster of less popular third-party candidates filling out the constellation. Deep polarization to a near evenly divided electorate means major-party candidates are super-vulnerable to external threats.

Much was made of a recent New York Times–Siena College poll that showed Trump beating Biden in several key swing states. The reality is more like, in a reliably unreliable estimate of how people will behave on Election Day a year from now, you have two likely nominees so unlikable that they are tied for historic unlikableness with the 2016 nominees (only one candidate has been a historically unlikable constant across elections). Then factor in the margin of error of 1.8-to-4.8 points across the dataset. Then rerun the poll with Kennedy in the mix, as Times–Siena did, and you get a chaotic and scarcely recognizable race with Kennedy in striking distance at 24 percent. As CNN polling savant Harry Enten put it, “A clear Trump polling lead became a jumbled mess with no clear favorite to win in the Electoral College thanks to Kennedy. Both Biden (34 percent) and Trump (36 percent) were south of 40 percent in an aggregate across the six states.”

It’s true that in the 1992 election, Ross Perot was often outright beating Bush and Clinton in the polls, and he didn’t become president. But Kennedy doesn’t have to win to sabotage Biden or Trump. He doesn’t even have to come close. In 2000, when Democrats won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College, Ralph Nader scored 97,488 votes in Florida, where Al Gore lost by 537 votes. In 2016, when Democrats again won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College, Libertarian Gary Johnson got 172,136 votes in Michigan, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein got 51,463. Clinton lost by 10,704 votes. Johnson got 106,674 votes in Wisconsin and Stein 31,072. Clinton lost by 22,748. Not only is Kennedy polling more competitively now than any independent since Perot, but he has backup. Celebrity academic Cornel West is also running as an independent. Stein has risen from the dead to haunt the Dems once more on a Green Party ticket.

From retirement, Senator Joe Manchin threatens to run with No Labels, which has already secured ballot access in the swing state of Arizona. Theoretically, any of these candidates earning just a small percentage in one key state could be enough to fuck up the whole map for the major parties — much less all of them. In the face of this reality, Biden plans to argue that Kennedy is a closet conservative. Trump is already arguing that Kennedy is a closet liberal. (If either likely nominee has more sophisticated messaging planned to fight off Kennedy, it is not yet apparent.) That both claims are sort of true and sort of not true in equal measure is, sort of, the basis of Kennedy’s appeal. According to the Times, Democratic lawyers across the country are mobilizing to suppress third-party challenges through initiatives to further limit ballot access, the central obstacle for an independent candidate. “We’ll get on the ballot in every state,” Kennedy told me.

RFK

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Go woke go broke.

The Invisible Hand Just Slapped Disney (Turley)

This year marks the 300th anniversary of Adam Smith, the iconic figure behind the theory of free markets, or of what we have since come to call “capitalism.” Born in June 1723, Smith went on to explain how the “invisible hand” of the market worked as people exercised their choices between certain products. It can shape economies and challenge whole governments. One company in particular appears to be learning that lesson. In recent filings, Disney appears to acknowledge that Smith’s invisible hand is giving the “House of Mouse” the middle finger. In a new corporate disclosure, Disney acknowledges that its controversial political and social agenda is costing the company and shareholders.In its annual SEC report, Disney acknowledges that “we face risks relating to misalignment with public and consumer tastes and preferences for entertainment, travel and consumer products.”

In an implied nod to Smith, the company observes that “the success of our businesses depends on our ability to consistently create compelling content,” and that “Generally, our revenues and profitability are adversely impacted when our entertainment offerings and products, as well as our methods to make our offerings and products available to consumers, do not achieve sufficient consumer acceptance. Further, consumers’ perceptions of our position on matters of public interest, including our efforts to achieve certain of our environmental and social goals, often differ widely and present risks to our reputation and brands.” Disney and other companies have previously ignored consumer backlash over corporate campaigns such as Disney’s opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law. Corporate officials once avoided political controversies and focused on selling their products and services rather than viewpoints.

Disney has reportedly lost a billion dollars just on four of its recent “woke” movie flops, productions denounced by critics as pushing political agendas or storylines. Yet until now, the company has continued to roll out underperforming movies as revenue has dropped. What’s more, Disney stars persist in bad-mouthing its fabled storylines and undermining its new productions. The company admits that it has suffered a continued slide in “impressions” (that is, viewership) by 14 percent. For shareholders, it may seem counterintuitive that corporate executives would trade off profits for political or social agendas. However, it does serve as a rationale for individual corporate executives who are professionally advanced when they champion such causes.

For example, when Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, pledged to drop Bud Light’s “fratty reputation and embrace inclusivity,” she was heralded by colleagues, even though her move went on to tank that brand as a whole. Indeed, Bud Light has still not recovered from the loss of billions in profits, market share, and overall market value. The same trend is playing out in the media. Public trust in journalists has fallen to a record low. Yet media executives continue to push advocacy journalism, abandoning objectivity. As former New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones declared, “all journalism is activism.”

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“..Epstein worried that saving lives by curing diseases would not lower population growth rates..”

Bill Gates, Jeffrey Epstein and a Global Health Investment Fund (BB)

Over time, Gates and JPMorgan established an investment fund that sought to profit from the development of vaccines and other health technologies. Epstein wanted a piece of the action, and Staley brought Epstein into the Gates partnership. The Gates-JPMorgan partnership was called the Global Health Investment Fund (GHIF) and was created circa 2011. At the time, Staley managed the Epstein relationship for the bank, and Epstein was a valuable client who brought JPMorgan a lot of business. Epstein was an adviser to billionaires like Victoria’s Secret mogul Leslie Wexner and Wall Street legend Leon Black and the “family offices” which manage their fortunes. Wexner and Black deny any involvement in Epstein’s criminal activities.

The GHIF partnership brought in a host of other powerful investors, including The Pfizer Foundation, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, as well as entities funded by the governments of Sweden, Canada, and Germany. There would also be private support from “qualified individuals and family offices.”The GHIF’s purpose was to give “individual and institutional investors the opportunity to finance late-stage global health technologies that have the potential to save millions of lives in low-income countries.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency committed to help offset any potential GHIF losses. As the GHIF was getting started, Epstein began pitching other business ideas to Gates and his foundation staff. They met “many times,” according to the New York Times, and Gates flew on Epstein’s Gulfstream plane from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida, according to a March 2013 flight manifest.

It turned out that Gates and Epstein had mutual interests in the areas of global health and funding scientific breakthroughs. Both men also had a deep interest in genetic tinkering projects. Epstein reportedly wanted to “seed the human race” with his own DNA by impregnating scores of women. Ironically (or perhaps hypocritically), Epstein was concerned about overpopulation. Likewise, Gates has long been worried about overpopulation and has stated repeatedly that he wants to mass vaccinate the third world, specifically for the purpose of curbing population growth. In a 2010 TED Talk, Gates succinctly explained his rationale for funding vaccines and birth control to curtail population growth worldwide.

“The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s headed up to about 9 billion,” Gates warned. “Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, ten or fifteen percent.” But Epstein worried that saving lives by curing diseases would not lower population growth rates. He “criticized efforts to reduce starvation and provide health care to the poor because doing so increased the risk of overpopulation,” the New York Times reported. Bill and Melinda Gates apparently do not see curing diseases in the same way.

Meet Bill Gates

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And I began to really see close up that there was so much lying coming out of NIH [National Institutes of Health], coming out of Fauci, coming out of, unfortunately, the government protecting all of this and now it’s spilling out..”

Jeffrey Sachs Says COVID About ‘Massive Government Lying’ (NM)

A prominent “lifelong Democrat” scholar and economist who chaired a COVID-19 commission blasted Dr. Anthony Fauci and others for promoting “massive government lying” regarding the coronavirus, and accused Senate Democrats of refusing to investigate the virus’ origins. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University professor who chaired a COVID-19 commission set up by “The Lancet” medical journal, said he has since left the Democratic Party after seeing how government officials have behaved around the origins of the virus. “The sad part of this, not with respect to the vaccine per se, but with respect to the origin of the virus, is that it’s yet another case of massive government lying,” Sachs said during an appearance on The Hill’s “Rising” show. “We have since discovered from the start that what the government told us about ‘natural origins’ of this virus were hokey, and really amounting to scientific fraud.”

Sachs said that even the scientists who wrote “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” in the spring of 2020 “didn’t even believe that as they were writing it because they knew that there were so many hints that this could well have come out of a U.S. lab, or out of Chinese lab, or out of a U.S.-China partnership in the research.” Sachs admitted he, too, bought into the mainstream media’s COVID-19 reporting at the beginning of the pandemic, especially after a major scientific journal, “Nature,” said there was overwhelming evidence the origin was natural.He then credited reporting by The Intercept, U.S. Right to Know, and whistleblowers for helping to change his thinking.”[They] started letting us in on what was really said inside, was shocking,” said Sachs, who added that after requesting a certain document he had been refused by a fellow commission member.

Rancourt

“I said, ‘Well, you can’t be on the commission. We’re a transparent commission,” Sachs said. “And I began to really see close up that there was so much lying coming out of NIH [National Institutes of Health], coming out of Fauci, coming out of, unfortunately, the government protecting all of this and now it’s spilling out.” Sachs insists his desire to investigate COVID-19’s origin has more to do with present-day and future research. He credited Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for focusing on gain-of-function research and for trying to persuade Democrat colleagues to probe the issue. “It’s shocking to me that Democratic senators can’t understand this is not a partisan issue,” Sachs said. “This is a life and death issue. What kind of research is going on? What kind of laboratory manipulation’s going on? What is going on under what we euphemistically … call our biodefense research? Because who knows what it really is?

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X files

 

 


First, Estonia, then New Zealand. Now, Slovenia?

 

 

Grocery shopping

 

 

 

 

Starlings

 

 

Sleep dog

 

 

Impossible

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 022023
 


JMW Turner Vignette Study of a Ship in a Storm c.1830

 

Deeper Into Depravity (Patrick Lawrence)
Israel in Search of Its Hiroshima (Juan Cole)
Civilian Casualties In Gaza Don’t Matter – Lindsey Graham (RT)
Sy Hersh: Israel Will Bomb Gaza Until It Destroys 65% of Hamas Tunnels (Sp.)
Biden Reportedly Doubts Netanyahu Will Last Long as Israeli PM (Sp.)
Who Are the Real Hostage-Takers: Hamas or Netanyahu? (Cunningham)
Egypt Refused To Accept Palestinian Refugees (RT)
US Rejection of ‘Civilized Realism’ Makes World Scarier Today (Sp.)
Iran Planned To Assassinate US Officials – FBI (RT)
Ukraine’s Top Security Official Targets Zelensky Critics (RT)
Ukraine Doubles Down On Efforts To Ensure Washington’s Support – Politico (RT)
US-Designed F-16s Will Survive Just A Few Weeks In Ukraine – Moscow (RT)
Día de los Muertos (Farah)
Judge Chutkan Blocks Trump From Seeing Prosecutor’s Evidence (NW)
Free Speech In the Happiest Place on Earth (Turley)

 

 

 

 

Sowell

 

 

 

 

Bolivia

 

 


United Nations General Assembly: on September 22, 2023, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu showed a map of the so-called “new Middle East” without Palestine

 

 

Invasion

 

 

Frank Church

 

 

 

 

“This is the voice of a nation that has demolished itself in its attempts to destroy others.”

Deeper Into Depravity (Patrick Lawrence)

By common agreement among many lawyers, scholars of international law, special rapporteurs, and the like—including Israelis in these fields—what we witness daily now is by all acceptable definitions a genocide. Whether or not Israel is committing war crimes by the hour is not even worth debating. But I am taken up now by the spectacle of human beings who have allowed themselves to be destroyed in the name of an ideology that proves every bit as racist as it was when, in 1975, the U.N. General Assembly declared Zionism to be so. Resolution 3379 was revoked in 1991; it should not have been. I am reminded of what I learned years ago when studying the Japanese Imperial Army’s conduct in China and Korea before and during World War II and the long record of the Kempeitai, commonly known as Imperial Japan’s Thought Police. Victimizers, I came to conclude with conviction, are victims, too.

This holds for the people in the videos I have recently viewed and for every Israeli wearing an IDF uniform. They have been stripped of all ordinary decency by the radical ideologues of “the Jewish state.” They can laugh or sneer or pull all the triggers they like: Their lives, too, have been destroyed. Look at the videos: The evidence of this is in every frame. “Nothing human disgusts me” is a line I remember well from The Night of the Iguana, the 1961 play by the superbly human Tennessee Williams. I hold to this thought (even while reading the foreign pages of The New York Times). What has happened to the people in the videos must disgust us. But what they suffer as victims could happen to all but the strongest among us. They are appalling specimens of humanity, but they are human. As we find our way to some morally, intellectually defensible high ground during the atrocities we witness daily, we need to bear this in mind.

And this, too: Those videos were not shot in isolation. They reflect a culture of racism, xenophobia, hatred, and—we see this now—sadism that has taken pride in itself for many years. These sentiments are instruments of the state, carefully cultivated. You may remember the videos shot at the time of the al–Aqsa crisis two years ago. Young Israelis in sparkling school uniforms or stylish clothes leapt up and down in a sort of frenzy in the streets of Jerusalem while shouting, “Death to all Arabs.” I read those images looking back and forward: They were the flowers of the Israeli state’s century of official indoctrination and a prelude to the videos coming out now. Arnold Toynbee, the great if no longer fashionable historian, argued in his 12–volume “A Study of History” that civilizations rise when creative elites respond to new circumstances with imagination and courage, while they decline, in turn, not in consequence of external factors but due to spiritual collapses within.

This is the Israel of Bibi Netanyahu, the Israel whose plan, we know by way of an official document leaked over the weekend, is to ethnic-cleanse Gaza and incorporate it into the Jewish state. Its leaders are brutes and—as the videos I reference show—they have destroyed Israel’s human spirit. I saw an interview Sunday with a Defense Department contractor who has visited Israel dozens of times over many years on DoD work. He recounted the steady decline in any belief in a peaceful settlement of the Israel–Palestine crisis that he has detected since 2007. For most Israelis, he observed, it is down to violence now. A headline in Monday’s editions of The Times, recording these changing desires and expectations: “I Don’t Have That Empathy. It’s Not Me Anymore.” This is the voice of a nation that has demolished itself in its attempts to destroy others.

Jabalya2

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“..straightforwardly admitted that the Israelis knew that the strike would kill the refugees in the camp, but did it anyway.”

Israel in Search of Its Hiroshima (Juan Cole)

In one of the biggest massacres it has so far committed, the Israeli Air Force on Tuesday bombed the Jabaliyaa refugee camp in Gaza, killing or wounding at least 400 persons and destroying the Block Six residential complex, felling 20 buildings. More victims are believed to be under the rubble. An Israeli military spokesman said that the strike was directed at Hamas leader Ibrahim Biari, a mastermind of the October 7 attack on Israel. Although Israeli authorities proclaimed that they had succeeded in killing Biari, Hamas announced that he was still very much alive. Killing and wounding 400 noncombatants and destroying 20 residential buildings to get at one target, even if the target is a wanted terrorist, is strictly forbidden under the post-World War II laws of war and International Humanitarian law. These laws are codified in the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute that underpins the International Criminal Court.

For instance, Rome Statute: • Art. 8 (2) (b) (iv) Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated. (4th Geneva Convention Art. 85 (3) (b) of AP I.) • Art. 8 (2) (a) (iv) Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly (mirrored from Geneva Conventions Art. 50/51/147 of GC I, II and IV). • Art. 8 (2) (b) (i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities (4th Geneva Convention Art. 85 (3) (a), plus Art. 51(2) AP I). • Art. 8 (2) (b) (v) Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives. (4th Geneva Convention, Art. 85 (3) (d) of AP I).

The presence of one senior Hamas commander, or even a platoon of them, among hundreds of noncombatants clearly would not justify recklessly endangering innocent civilians on the scale of Jabaliyaa. This is a war crime pure and simple. In a CNN interview by Wolf Blitzer of an Israeli military spokesman, Blitzer is clearly astonished that he straightforwardly admitted that the Israelis knew that the strike would kill the refugees in the camp, but did it anyway. The complete disregard of Israeli authorities for the laws of war and International Humanitarian Law enacted after World War II — intended to prevent atrocities of the sort committed during that war — was manifest in remarks to the New York Times, reported Monday: “It became evident to US officials that Israeli leaders believed mass civilian casualties were an acceptable price in the military campaign. In private conversations with American counterparts, Israeli officials referred to how the United States and other allied powers resorted to devastating bombings in Germany and Japan during World War II – including the dropping of the two atomic warheads in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – to try to defeat those countries.”

F*cking

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He just always refuses to let anyone else sound crazier than him.

Civilian Casualties In Gaza Don’t Matter – Lindsey Graham (RT)

The US should stand by Israel in its campaign against Hamas no matter how heavy a toll it takes on the civilian population in Gaza, Senator Lindsey Graham has argued. He likened Israel’s military operation against the militants to the allies’ struggle against Nazi Germany and Japan during World War II. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Graham was asked if there was a “threshold” for him, after which he would start questioning Israel’s tactics. The Republican replied in the negative, saying there is no limit as to “what Israel should do to the people who are trying to slaughter the Jews.” “This idea that Israel has to apologize for attacking Hamas, who’s embedded with their own population, needs to stop,” the senator insisted, adding that it is Hamas that is “creating these casualties – not Israel.”

Graham noted that Israel does need to “be smart” by trying to “limit civilian casualties.” The lawmaker also called for the delivery of humanitarian aid to “areas that protect the innocent.” During his visit to Israel last month, US President Joe Biden assured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “as long as the United States stands, and we will stand forever, we will not let you ever be alone.” Soon after Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel last month, Washington scrambled to provide its long-standing ally with additional defense aid worth billions of dollars. The US has also deployed two aircraft carrier groups and other naval assets, a squadron of F-16 fighter jets, air-defense systems, and 900 troops to the Middle East, saying this increased military presence should serve as a deterrent to other states tempted to join the conflict.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the director of the UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) in New York, Craig Mokhiber, described Israel’s actions in Gaza as a “text-book case of genocide” and the “wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology.” The official handed in his resignation, arguing that the UN had failed in its duty to prevent the killing of Palestinian civilians. He claimed that the international organization had “surrendered to the power of the US” and given in to the “Israeli lobby.” Mokhiber also accused European nations of being “complicit in the horrific assault” on Gaza and “giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities.”

Echoing Mokhiber’s assessment on Tuesday in Geneva, a spokesman for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), James Elder, claimed that “Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children,” and a “living hell for everyone else.” He called for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Palestinian enclave. The conflict has so far left more than 1,400 Israelis and over 8,000 Palestinians dead, with thousands more injured.

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“The insiders told him that up to 20,000 Hamas fighters “were living and training in the vast [underground] system, which included heat, light, ventilation, and even air-conditioning..”

“I also have been told that there is no power throughout the underground tunnel system and all the fighters and hostages are living in the dark, Hersh said.”

Sy Hersh: Israel Will Bomb Gaza Until It Destroys 65% of Hamas Tunnels (Sp.)

The Israel Defense Forces’s all-out war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas includes underground warfare that aims to destroy “a labyrinth of tunnels under Gaza,” US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in an article on Substack. He recalled that over the past few days, the IDF has escalated its ground operation against Hamas by sending tank columns “directly into Gaza and firing from a distance at targets in Gaza City.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist quoted an unnamed military source as saying that the goal was “to break Hamas’s defensive perimeter around its main bunkers and tunnels in the center of Gaza City. The source admitted that although such tactics minimize Israeli casualties and increase “enemy kills,” there are some problems. Primarily, the insider stressed, buildings and neighborhoods in Gaza are “flattened […] whether civilians are inside these buildings or not.”

Moreover, “The slow approach takes time. How much time does Israel have to pursue this war?” the source said, referencing growing worldwide protests against the IDF operation in Gaza. Hersh, for his part, pointed out that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) is doing its best to obliterate “the extensive Hamas tunnel system that includes exits and entrances underneath the thousands of residential and office buildings in Gaza City.” In this vein, the source told the journalist that almost 50 percent of the targeted buildings inside Gaza City have already been destroyed, and that “the bombing is scheduled to continue until the IAF reaches its goal of wiping out 65 percent of the possible citywide escape routes for the Hamas leadership and its fighters.” Hersh quoted another unnamed source as describing the Hamas tunnels as something that was “dazzling in its ingenuity.”

“There were administrative tunnels, command-and-control tunnels, and storage tunnels throughout Gaza City,” the source claimed, adding that it was decided after the October 7 Hamas attack that “all buildings with terminal exits and entry points had to be bombed.” Separate insiders told the journalist that “there is no sign that the Israeli leadership will stop the nearly round-the-clock bombing campaign until 65 percent of the targets for destruction have been hit.” Right now, Hersh added, Gaza City looks “a deadly wasteland” due to the bombings.

The insiders told him that up to 20,000 Hamas fighters “were living and training in the vast [underground] system, which included heat, light, ventilation, and even air-conditioning. The citywide access made it possible for many to come and go to their families in Gaza City.” The sources also said that many Hamas tunnels “are believed to have collapsed as a result of the heavy bombing, and it is not clear how long the militants can survive, despite the tunnels’ heavy stockpiling of food and water.” “I also have been told that there is no power throughout the underground tunnel system and all the fighters and hostages are living in the dark, Hersh said. In conclusion, he cited one of the sources saying that “from Israel’s perspective, it is now a no-holds-barred war.”

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White House starts distancing itself from Bibi. Too toxic.

Biden Reportedly Doubts Netanyahu Will Last Long as Israeli PM (Sp.)

US President Joe Biden doubts that Benjamin Netanyahu has a good chance of remaining the prime minister of Israel amid the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and believes that his days as a political figure are numbered, US media reported, citing senior administration officials. Biden discussed Netanyahu’s political survival with his aides in recent White House meetings, including following his trip to Israel where he had a chance to meet with the Israeli prime minister in person, media said Wednesday. Moreover, Biden reportedly even told Netanyahu to think about the lessons he had learned and how he could pass them on to his successor. Officials believe Netanyahu has several months left as the prime minister, or until the conclusion of the early phase of Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

One of the administration officials quoted indicated that discussions of the situation in the Middle East always take into account Netanyahu’s shaky power position in Israel, and the fact that he is also losing public support after the Hamas attack took Tel Aviv by surprise, as well as amid growing protest sentiments around the world against the brutality of the Israeli army towards Palestinian civilians. Netanyahu on Sunday posted a message on X, in which he blasted Israel’s defense and intelligence services, saying he was not warned about Hamas’ plans before the October 7 attack. Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said Netanyahu had “crossed a red line” by blaming the country’s army and security services for the failures that led to the deadly attack on Israel. Several hours later, the prime minister removed the post and apologized for it, as it caused a wave of harsh criticism from various sides.

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”..all citizens including Jews who are speaking out against war are liable to be charged as “terrorists”..

Who Are the Real Hostage-Takers: Hamas or Netanyahu? (Cunningham)

The plight of the hostages presents a dilemma for Netanyahu. He is trying to assure Israelis that the “second stage” of the “war on Hamas” – that is the ground invasion – will achieve both objectives of defeating Hamas and rescuing the hostages. However, the Israeli leader and his war Cabinet are cynically deceiving their people. If the IDF proceed further with its ground operation, the hostages will most likely die. Already Hamas spokesmen have claimed that 50 hostages have lost their lives during the relentless air strikes over the past three weeks. Hamas released four of the hostages on humanitarian considerations. The fierce gun battles that are anticipated amid the rubble of Gaza and throughout the maze of tunnels do not bode well for the safe return of the remaining captives. This is why families of the hostages and many supporters among the Israeli public are calling on Netanyahu to abandon the ground operation and to engage in negotiations for a prisoner exchange.

Hamas officials have offered the release of hostages in exchange for the freedom of all Palestinian political prisoners held by the Israelis. The Israelis detained an estimated 5,000 Palestinians before October 7. The number has increased dramatically over the past three weeks due to a repressive policy of reprisal by the Israeli state. Hundreds of Palestinians in the other enclave territory of the Occupied West Bank have been taken into custody under emergency powers. Israeli families are becoming increasingly angry at the way Netanyahu and his ministers are handling the crisis. Protests were held at the weekend outside the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv. One parent demanded: “We want all of them [the hostages] back with us today. We want you, the Cabinet, the government, to imagine that these are your children.”

Many Israelis have pointed out how Netanyahu’s sons, Yair and Avner, have inexplicably avoided military call-ups during the so-called state of war declared by the Cabinet. Netanyahu’s eldest son Yair (32) has been on an extended holiday in Miami since April this year. Others are indignant at the seemingly callous attitude towards the families. “They feel like they’re left behind and no one is really caring about them,” said Miki Haimovitz, a former lawmaker. “No one is explaining what’s going on,” he added, as quoted by Associated Press. Another lawmaker, Ofer Cassif, told the Strategic Culture Foundation that the Netanyahu government is ramping up repressive powers against any form of opposition to its military and security policies. Cassif says public meetings throughout Israel are being banned for any groups who are calling for an end to the violence and for negotiations to prevail. He says the persecution is particularly sharp against Palestinians living in Israeli territory. Still, all citizens including Jews who are speaking out against war are liable to be charged as “terrorists”.

In a statement, Cassif, a Member of Parliament (Knesset) for the Hadash party said: “Netanyahu and his thugs use the smokescreen of the war to impose a martial law on Israeli citizens, predominantly Palestinian ones: protests are prohibited and can now be answered with live ammunition, workers and students are suspended and dissidents are persecuted for posts on the social network. I plead to the world – supporting the Israeli government is not supporting Israeli people – it is supporting fascism, death and dictatorship. If you wish to help Israeli people in this dire time – support the peace movement, not the warmongers who waged a war against their own people.” Despite the repression, a groundswell of public opposition is building against Netanyahu and his coalition administration, which comprises extreme Zionists like Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Interior Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

DDN

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They let in a few hundred foreigners and wounded yesterday.

Egypt Refused To Accept Palestinian Refugees (RT)

In light of issues in Egypt over whether Palestinian refugees should be accepted, the country’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly visited northern Sinai on Tuesday and vowed that his country is determined to safeguard its territory and maintain its sovereignty over it. Addressing members of parliament, tribal and military leaders as well as public figures assembled at al-Arish near Egypt’s borders with Gaza and Israel, Madbouly said: “We are prepared to sacrifice millions of lives to ensure that no one encroaches upon our territory.” According to the prime minister, Cairo intends to expand its plans to develop and reconstruct the Sinai Peninsula in the near future, demonstrating that “Egypt remains committed to the region.” The UN Secretary General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that the involuntary relocation of Palestinians is unacceptable.

“We stand clearly against the forced mass displacement of people, full stop. And we’ve seen in other places around the world and we’ve been consistent in that,” he claimed on Tuesday. President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said on October 21 that Cairo rejected “any attempt to liquidate the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land.” Egyptians see as a matter of concern that the 2.3 million people currently living in Gaza could end up in Sinai. As the Financial Times reported, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, aimed to persuade European leaders to put pressure on Cairo to accept Gazans last week. According to the source, France and Germany refused the request to persuade Egypt to accept the agreement. Jordan also refused to accept refugees from Gaza.

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“..it was clear that something was within the Soviet sphere of influence, and something within the American sphere of influence, and the parties respected these borders..”

US Rejection of ‘Civilized Realism’ Makes World Scarier Today (Sp.)

Sixty-one years ago this month, between mid-late October of 1962, the world bated its breath as the nuclear superpowers approached the precipice of a third and likely final world war in humanity’s history. Concerned by the deployment of US nuclear missiles in Turkiye and the global strategic imbalance caused by the USSR’s lack of long-range missiles capable of reaching US soil, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made the audacious and highly risky decision to try to secretly deploy more than 160 nuclear weapons in Cuba – then a newfound Soviet ally. US intelligence found out about the attempted deployment, triggering the two-week standoff.

War was averted thanks to a masterclass of personalized back-and-forth diplomacy between Khrushchev and US President John F. Kennedy, with the leaders sending each other a series of letters, and ultimately finding mutual readiness to compromise. In exchange for an ironclad commitment by the US not to invade Cuba, and to quietly remove its Jupiter missiles from Turkiye, the USSR agreed to withdraw and never again station nuclear weapons on the Caribbean Island. Sixty years later, the roles reversed, with NATO expanding up to Russia’s borders, and the US building nuclear-capable anti-missile launch sites in Eastern Europe. Amid intelligence reports of Ukrainian plans to attack the Donbass, and NATO statements that it would not entertain Russian concerns about Ukrainian membership in the Western alliance, Moscow made a final diplomatic overture to prevent escalation – sending a pair of comprehensive draft treaty proposals to Washington and Brussels in December 2021 designed to ease tensions.

NATO and the US rejected the draft treaties, ultimately sparking a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, and slowly escalating tensions by delivering evermore advanced weapons to the country, including long-range artillery, depleted uranium tank shells, cluster bombs and cruise missiles which can hit targets deep inside the Russian hinterland. The Ukrainian crisis has served to dramatically escalate strategic tensions between the nuclear superpowers, with the US conducting a large scale explosion at a nuclear testing ground in Nevada as Russia moved to pull out of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty last week. The perilous state of relations between Moscow and Washington today is even more dangerous than it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis, says Moscow State University professor, author and veteran Russian US politics expert Boris Mezhuev – in part because Washington refuses to recognize Russia’s basic rights as a great power, and in part due to the fundamentalist ideology of the current crop of American elites.

In 1962, Mezhuev told Sputnik, there was a “clear ideological positioning of the two sides,” with each “proceeding from the fact that the other had a certain right to an ideological position.” “The second factor, which flows from the first, is that there was tacit recognition of the idea of spheres of influence. That is, it was clear that something was within the Soviet sphere of influence, and something within the American sphere of influence, and the parties respected these borders,” the observer said. In that sense, the USSR’s deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba was rightfully perceived by the US as a violation of this tacit agreement – just as the US deployment of nukes in Turkiye was seen as a threat to Moscow.

“From Yalta in 1945 onward, in general, the two sides recognized one another’s spheres of influence, a fact which was later condemned by the so-called democratic fundamentalists as a severe deviation from the ideals of democracy. The idea of limited sovereignty existed. And despite its absolutely anti-democratic nature, which of course was clearly obvious, it nevertheless allowed the sides to generally understand what could and couldn’t be done. In this sense, Khrushchev’s actions were perceived by the Soviet elite as too voluntaristic and risky, which in fact ultimately culminated in his ouster,” Mezhuev explained.

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1/ I don’t believe this for a second.
2/ When Trump ordered Soleimani killed in 2020, they may have wanted to retaliate. But how many US officials did Iran kill?
3/ This is simply a sign the US are cranking up tensions with Iran.

Iran Planned To Assassinate US Officials – FBI (RT)

Iran plotted to assassinate current and former US officials, FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed on Tuesday as he warned of an increased terrorism threat during a Senate hearing. In his opening statement to the Committee on Homeland Security, Wray said the terrorism threat in the US had been elevated throughout 2023, but had risen “to a whole other level” due to the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas. He added that the FBI believes the surprise assault by Hamas on Israel on October 7, in which as many as 1,400 Israelis were killed, could inspire other “violent extremists” to carry out attacks against Americans “going about their daily lives.”

Wray further claimed that Iran, which he described as “the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism,” had previously directly or indirectly “mounted assassination attempts against dissidents and high-ranking current and former US government officials, including right here on American soil.” The FBI chief also said Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which he described as “Iran’s primary strategic partner,” had a history of operating on US soil “going back years,” including by “obtaining money and weapons, and spying.”

Wray stated that the FBI is actively monitoring these groups and their intentions in the US, while warning that American interests and critical infrastructure are already being targeted by cyberattacks from Iran as well as non-state actors. This could eventually escalate to “kinetic attacks” if the Middle East conflict expands, the FBI chief claimed. At the same time, Wray noted that the FBI currently has no indications that Hamas has the intention or capability to carry out operations inside the US. Nevertheless, the agency has not ruled out the possibility that Hamas or “another foreign terrorist organization” could attempt an attack on American soil.

Wray’s comments came as Israeli forces escalated their incursion into Gaza in response to the October 7 attacks. Health authorities in the enclave have reported that over 8,500 Palestinians have so far been killed amid the Israeli retaliation. Tehran, meanwhile, has repeatedly accused the US of fueling tensions in the Middle East. Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called on Washington to end its support for Israel in the conflict with Hamas. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has accused Washington of “directing” Israel’s strikes on Gaza, labeling America “a definite accomplice of criminals.”

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“If you … do not believe that our country can achieve victory, you have no right to be near our president..”

Ukraine’s Top Security Official Targets Zelensky Critics (RT)

Anonymous senior Ukrainian officials who told Time magazine they do not share President Vladimir Zelensky’s vision of a military victory over Russia must be identified and ousted, the secretary of the national security council, Aleksey Danilov, told local media on Tuesday. Danilov expressed outrage with the Time article, which was published on Monday, stating that it was playing into Russia’s hands. The fact that the outlet granted anonymity to some of its sources – a normal practice that allows officials to discuss problems candidly, “raises many questions,”according to him. “If you … do not believe that our country can achieve victory, you have no right to be near our president,” Danilov declared.

He suggested that the anonymous sources inflicted harm on Ukraine before stating: “I believe our security agencies should give an answer to the question who those anonymous people are.” Ukrainian people questioning Kiev’s official line have been previously labeled “pro-Russian”and punished in various ways, including through criminal prosecution. The Time article described Zelensky’s belief in a battlefield victory over Russia as “immovable, verging on the messianic.” “He deludes himself,” one of his closest aides was quoted as saying. “We’re out of options. We’re not winning. But try telling him that.” The president’s “stubbornness”has prevented Kiev from even considering a diplomatic resolution of the crisis, the outlet said. The failure of Western donors to provide even more weapons to Ukraine than they did makes Zelensky feel “betrayed” by them, another insider revealed.

Danilov questioned the credentials of the quoted individuals, stating that Zelensky has no formal aides and only has a single female personal assistant. He urged Time’s author, Simon Shuster, to “stop using anonymous speech, because it’s a very, very sensitive issue for our nation.” “The Russian Federation has the only way to defeat us, that is internal destabilization,” he added. Moscow has called the Ukraine conflict an element of the US proxy war against Russia, in which the neighboring country is used as a “battering ram.” Washington allegedly derailed a negotiated truce in the early weeks of the hostilities, which would have made Ukraine a neutral nation not allowed to host any foreign military infrastructure or join military blocs in exchange for international security guarantees.

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The lobby war.

Ukraine Doubles Down On Efforts To Ensure Washington’s Support – Politico (RT)

Ukraine has intensified its lobbying campaign in the US, anxious to keep military aid flowing amid changing realities both stateside and globally, Politico has claimed. Kiev’s wish list reportedly includes air-to-air missiles, the long-range, single-warhead version of the ATACMS missile, as well as training conducting ship-to-shore operations. In its article on Tuesday, the media outlet reported that a delegation of Ukrainian officials and troops had arrived in Washington, DC last week, requesting new types of weapons and assistance. Politico, citing the Ukrainian representatives, said Kiev needs aircraft-borne rockets to shoot down Russian bombers, which have increasingly been using GPS-guided glide bombs. As for the Army Tactical Missile System, the US secretly donated a small number of medium-range rockets tipped with cluster munition warheads, as reported by multiple media outlets last month.

However, those rockets are not effective against better-protected targets than their solid warhead cousin, a member of the Ukrainian delegation told Politico. On top of that, Ukraine allegedly asked its US backers to accelerate the F-16 training program for Ukrainian pilots as well as join the UK’s Royal Marines in preparing Ukrainian forces for amphibious operations, with a view to crossing the Dnepr River. Ukrainian troops have for months been trying to establish a foothold on the left bank in Russia’s Kherson Region in an apparent attempt to draw some of Moscow’s forces away from the front line in Donbass and Zaporozhye Region. The report alleged that President Vladimir Zelensky’s meeting with US lawmakers in Kiev on Monday was also part of this effort to ensure American support, which has apparently begun to look less certain.

Politico cited the recent election of Mike Johnson as speaker of the United States House of Representatives, who is opposed to issuing blank checks to Ukraine. Another factor mentioned in the article is the latest escalation between Israel and Hamas, which risks diverting international attention from Kiev’s struggle. Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that Russia would prevail in its conflict with Ukraine, should Washington withdraw its support for Kiev. Austin, along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were making the case for the provision of $44 billion more in defense and other aid to the Eastern European nation, which had been tied to funding for Israel and Taiwan in President Biden’s request. In its report on Monday, Time magazine, citing President Zelensky’s aides, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, reported that the Ukrainian head of state increasingly feels “betrayed by his Western allies” for their apparent failure to provide his country with the “means to win the war.”

According to the Pentagon’s own estimates, the US has already expended $43.9 billion on “security assistance” to Kiev since February 2022. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive has fallen short of high expectations, with the Ukrainian leadership acknowledging that its military has failed to make much progress. In its article, Time assessed that the push has caused Kiev “enormous losses.” According to the most recent Russian figures, the Ukrainian military lost more than 90,000 men between early June and early October. Russia has repeatedly warned Western nations that the shipment of heavy weapons and other military aid to Ukraine makes them de facto parties to the conflict. Moscow has also stressed that no amount of foreign aid will change the course of the struggle, and that the Russian Army will employ effective countermeasures against any weapons system.

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It’s simply about money.

US-Designed F-16s Will Survive Just A Few Weeks In Ukraine – Moscow (RT)

Russian air defenses showed a high rate of success in shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft last month, the Russian defense minister said on Wednesday. Sergey Shoigu claimed that if maintained, it would allow the entire fleet of F-16s, pledged to Kiev by Western donors, to be destroyed in less than three weeks. Speaking at a ministerial meeting, the minister praised Russian forces for conducting over 1,400 successful intercepts in October. He said the figure included 37 Ukrainian planes, almost twice the number of F-16s that foreign nations intended to give to Kiev. “If our air defense forces work this way, [the F16 fleet] amounts to roughly 20 days of work,” he predicted. The aircraft that Russian forces took down last month were predominantly Soviet-designed MiG-29s and Su-25s, according to the Defense Ministry.

Shoigu previously claimed that Russian troops had been using “new complexes” to improve interceptions. A source cited by TASS has claimed that Russia has been using A-50 airborne radar planes to detect Ukrainian targets earlier and at lower altitudes. The hits were reportedly achieved by long-range anti-aircraft missiles fired from S-400 launchers, armed with new warheads and guided using data from airborne radars. Ever since the start of the conflict with Moscow, Kiev has been pushing its allies to supply increasingly advanced weapons. Ukrainian pilots are currently being trained to fly F-16s. The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Belgium have pledged to provide the fighter jets over the next few years, as part of their programs to transition to more modern military planes.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Monday that the first F-16s allocated by his government would arrive at a military base in Romania, where the training of Ukrainians is conducted, within two weeks. Reports on the number of F-16 that Ukraine could get have been inconsistent. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed in August that he was promised 42 jets by The Netherlands and Belgium, but a joint statement by the donors did not mention any specific number. Rutte said at the time that his nation’s entire F-16 fleet had 42 planes and that it would need to retain some for training purposes. Kiev’s supporters previously suggested that Western-designed weapons would become a gamechanger in the conflict, with their hopes pinned at various points on HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems, Storm Shadow cruise missiles, Leopard main battle tanks, and ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles. Zelensky praised the August F-16 pledge announcement as “historic, powerful, motivational.” The Kremlin has dismissed the notion, saying that the newly-supplied Western weapons “will burn like the rest of them”.

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Under the Volcano.

Día de los Muertos (Farah)

According to colonial period records, the Aztec empire was formed in A.D. 1427, only about a century before the arrival of Spanish . But the celebration that Mexicans now call Día de los Muertos almost certainly existed many centuries earlier, perhaps originating with the Toltec people of central Mexico. In any case, by the time the Spanish conquistadors invaded in 1519, the Aztecs recognized a wide pantheon of gods, which included a goddess of death and the underworld named Mictecacihuatl.

She was celebrated throughout the entire ninth month of the Aztec calendar, a 20-day month that corresponded roughly to late July and early August. Aztec mythology tells that Mictecacihuatl was sacrificed as a baby and magically grew to adulthood in the underworld, where she married. With her husband, she presided over the underworld. Mictecacihuatl – who is often depicted with flayed skin and a gaping, skeletal jaw – was linked to both death and resurrection. According to one myth, Mictecacihuatl and her husband collected bones so that they might be returned to the land of the living and restored by the gods. The Aztecs appeased these fearsome underworld gods by burying their dead with food and precious objects.

Archaeologists and historians know relatively little about the details of the month-long celebration of Mictecacihuatl, but say it likely involved burning incense, song and dance, and blood sacrifice – customary practices in many Aztec rituals. The Spanish invaders of Mexico were Catholic, and they worked hard to evangelize native peoples. To stamp out lingering indigenous beliefs, they demolished religious temples, burned indigenous idols and destroyed Aztec books. But indigenous people in Mexico, as across the Americas, resisted Spanish efforts to eradicate their culture. Instead, they often blended their own religious and cultural practices with those imposed on them by the Spanish. Perhaps the best-known symbol of the ethnic and cultural mixing that defines modern Mexico is La Virgen de Guadalupe, a uniquely Mexican Virgin Mary.

Many Mexican Catholics believe that in 1531 the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican farmer, and in his native language of Nahuatl told him to build a shrine to her. Today the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is among the world’s most visited holy sites. Day of the Dead is almost certainly a similar case of blended cultures. Spanish conquerors faced difficulty in convincing native peoples to give up their rituals honoring death goddess Mictecihuatl. The compromise was to move these indigenous festivities from late July to early November to correspond with Allhallowtide – the three-day Christian observance of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. With this move, the holiday was nominally connected to Catholicism. But many practices and beliefs associated with the worship of the dead remained deeply indigenous.

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“..the defense identifies no case in which any court has ordered the relief they seek here, and this court is aware of none. There is good reason for that lack of precedent..”

Judge Chutkan Blocks Trump From Seeing Prosecutor’s Evidence (NW)

Judge Tanya Chutkan blocked former President Donald Trump from seeing federal prosecutors’ evidence ahead of his federal election interference trial. A federal grand jury in August indicted Trump on four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States. Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith has investigated Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the election results, including attempts to submit false slates of pro-Trump electors from swing states he lost to the Electoral College. Trump maintains his innocence, accusing prosecutors of targeting him for political purposes. He pleaded not guilty in this case, as he did in his three other criminal cases. Chutkan, who is overseeing the trial, issued an order on Wednesday blocking Trump’s legal team from seeing some of the government’s evidence against him that has been deemed classified.

Chutkan granted the government’s motion to allow prosecutors to withhold “certain classified information” from the former president, instead allowing them to provide an “unclassified summary substitution for certain classified information.” The government cited the Classified Information Procedures Act and Rule (CIPA) in their motion requesting to withhold the information. As the information is classified, the nature of the evidence being held from Trump’s legal team remains unknown. Judge Chutkan determined the summary posed by the government “adequately describes any content of the withheld materials that could be considered relevant and helpful to the defense,” siding with Smith. Trump’s legal team earlier in October introduced their own motion requesting “attorneys’-eyes-only” access to the CIPA documents.

“At the outset, it bears emphasis that the defense identifies no case in which any court has ordered the relief they seek here, and this court is aware of none. There is good reason for that lack of precedent: “As [CIPA’s] House Report explains, ‘since the government is seeking to withhold classified information from the defendant, an adversary hearing with defense knowledge would defeat the very purpose of the discovery rules,'” She continued, “It is not possible to isolate the unclassified portions of the CIPA § 4 Motion in such a way that its arguments could be meaningfully litigated.”

Just minutes earlier, Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the federal trial into the classified documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, issued a separate order surrounding a CIPA order filed by the government. In that order, the government requested to use a separate CIPA rule to more broadly limit Trump’s legal team’s access to classified documents. Cannon, however, dismissed their case as lacking “merit.” Cannon ruled federal prosecutors must go through the “proper mechanism” to do so, even if the special counsel “meets its burden to restrict from Defendants whatever quantity of classified information it seeks to restrict.

Trump

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“Soon after his objections, Disney posted a new vision of the dwarves as a happy band of male and female, racially diverse group of non-dwarves (except for one actor).”

Free Speech In the Happiest Place on Earth (Turley)

Walt Disney once remarked, “You reach a point where you don’t work for money.” For shareholders of Disney, the most common complaint in recent years is that the entire corporation appears to have reached that point in pushing woke movies that have bombed with consumers and a political fight with Florida that has already cost the corporation dearly. At the heart of two recent controversies are free speech disputes. The company’s new Snow White, actress Rachel Zegler, is publicly defending her right to trash the franchise’s original storyline and characters. In the meantime, the company is objecting that it is being punished for its own free speech in opposing Florida’s popular parental rights law. Recently, Disney dropped all of its federal claims against the state of Florida over the company’s public opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Act.

The only exception is its free speech claim that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has retaliated against the House of Mouse for speaking as a company against the law. (It has state litigation that is continuing on other claims.) At the same time, Disney is facing another free speech controversy after Zegler used her casting as the new Snow White to denounce the entire premise and appeal of the original 1937 movie, calling Prince Charming a presumptive “stalker” and promising to ditch the whole love interest. She told an interviewer that Snow White is “not going to be saved by the prince and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love.” What followed was a familiar groan to another Disney woke remake that seems to delight only Disney actors and diversity officers.

The problems with the film were magnified when even the dwarves seemed to get the axe after “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage expressed his disapproval for the film and objected to the very notion of any of the seven traditional figures making a reappearance: “You’re still making that f—ing backwards story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together, what the f— are you doing, man? Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soap box? I guess I’m not loud enough.” He was indeed loud enough (which is surprising since his movie, “Cyrano,” bombed at the box office and took in just $6.4 million for a $30 million production). Soon after his objections, Disney posted a new vision of the dwarves as a happy band of male and female, racially diverse group of non-dwarves (except for one actor).

The backlash (and the actors’ strike) has now resulted in a delay of the release of the remake for another year and the sudden re-appearance of the original dwarves. (Disney insists that the earlier actors were just “stand ins” for the dwarves, which is a bit odd since the dwarves are digitally produced.) Yet, right on cue, Zegler was back in the news with the release of the new images and date by reaffirming her earlier comments. Zegler encourages other actors to follow her lead in speaking out on such subjects. Echoing Dinklage, Zegler declared that “we have to be fearless and loud in order to be heard, and to prepare for the backlash that occasionally comes with that outspokenness.” Her rep quickly ran forward to say, “Snow White was not mentioned in her quotes.” The concern was obvious with an actress stirring the same pot that has caused the movie to tank in promotions. For the rep, there is also the concern that talent are subject to contracts with reservation clauses on disparaging or damaging public comments or conduct.

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Kisin

 

 

 

 


..in the years 1950-1951, the A. C. Gilbert Company distributed the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, a toy kit allowing kids to make nuclear reactions at home using actual radioactive material. It was taken off the shelves in 1951.

 

 

Otamatone

 

 

Dog bus

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 192023
 
 April 19, 2023  Posted by at 8:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  43 Responses »


Ito Shinsui Snowy night 1923

 

China Offers To Facilitate Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks (AP)
Macron’s Yet-to-be Drafted Peace Plan: Long-term Guarantees To Kiev (TASS)
Russia ‘Winning’ Fight Against Ukraine – Retired US Army Colonel Macgregor (RT)
Lloyd Austin: ‘We Won’t Be In A War With Russia’ (Az.)
Russian Forces Control Almost All Of Bakhmut – DPR Head’s Advisor (TASS)
Kiev ‘Pissed Off’ UN Chief – WaPo (RT)
Leaked Document Reveals the US Spying on the UN Secretary-General (Antiwar)
White House: China Wants To See Dollar Weaken As Reserve Currency (Az.)
BRICS To Pass G7 In Economic Might – Bloomberg (RT)
Can BRICS Weaken the Dominance of the IMF and World Bank? (Baroud)
Russian Envoy Slams Die Welt Over ‘Kill Putin’ Quote (RT)
Russia Officially Rebukes UK Envoy Over Remarks On Journalist’s Verdict (TASS)
EU Funds Enslavement Of African Migrants In Libya – UN (GZ)
Trump Says Disney ‘Destroying’ Florida Governor DeSantis (RT)
Then There Were Nine (Turley)

 

 

 

 

Elon Tucker

https://twitter.com/i/status/1648488786056151041

 

 

 

 

CO2

 

 

Maddow leaks

 

 

 

 

China has solved problems in Yemen and Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. And seemingly without major issues. If they succeed in the Israel-Palestine talks, they will be the new world leader.

China Offers To Facilitate Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks (AP)

China’s foreign minister told his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts that his country is ready to help facilitate peace talks between the two sides, in its latest effort at mediation in the region. In separate phone calls to the two officials on Monday, Qin Gang expressed China’s concern over intensifying tensions between Israel and Palestinians and its support for a resumption of peace talks, the Foreign Ministry said in statements issued late Monday. Last month, Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a deal in China to restore diplomatic ties that were cut off in 2016. It was a dramatic moment of diplomacy for China that Beijing touted as evidence of its ability to be a diplomatic player in the Middle East. Qin stressed in his talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen that Saudi Arabia and Iran have set a good example of overcoming differences through dialogue, a statement about that phone call said.

He told Cohen that Beijing encourages Israel and the Palestinians to show political courage and take steps to resume peace talks. “China is willing to provide convenience for this,” he was quoted as saying. Israel and the Palestinians have not held substantive peace talks on ending the century-long conflict in over a decade. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is committed to expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank — which most of the international community considers illegal and an obstacle to peace — and several of his key allies are staunchly opposed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Cohen expressed his country’s commitment to reducing tensions, but said the problem appeared to be difficult to resolve in the short term, the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Qin and Cohen discussed “the importance of maintaining quiet at the Temple Mount, particularly in the final days of Ramadan,” the Muslim holy month, but made no mention of peace talks with the Palestinians. It said that Cohen conveyed “the threat that we see in Iran’s nuclear program” and called on China to help prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Qin also told Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki that China is willing to play an active role in the resumption of talks, a second statement said. On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin confirmed Qin’s outreach to the two officials. “It is never too late to do the right thing,” he said.

This month, violence in Israel and the West Bank has increased, touched off by an Israeli police raid on Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, the compound home to the Al-Aqsa mosque. The Israeli military struck sites linked to the Palestinian group Hamas in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip after militants in the two territories fired rocket salvos at Israel. The mosque sits on a contested hilltop revered as the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism.

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Compared to China’s initiatives, Macron looks defunkt. His “peace plan”: “Future measures will be aimed at upgrading Kiev’s armed forces. NATO members are also working to ensure steady supplies of weapons and military equipment.”

Macron’s Yet-to-be Drafted Peace Plan: Long-term Guarantees To Kiev (TASS)

French President Emmanuel Macron’s yet-to-be drafted peace plan, which he hopes to negotiate with China, would be based on long-term security guarantees for Ukraine, Bloomberg said, citing sources. The agency speculates that the plan would be based on long-term security guarantees to Kiev. However, as the report specifies, Western countries also plan to discuss the details of support for Ukraine at the NATO summit in Lithuania due in July. Future measures will be aimed at upgrading Kiev’s armed forces. NATO members are also working to ensure steady supplies of weapons and military equipment.


Macron has reportedly instructed his adviser Emmanuel Bonn to stay in touch with the head of the office of the Chinese Communist Party’s Foreign Affairs Commission, Wang Yi, in order to formulate a program that might serve as the basis for future negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. During his state visit to China, Macron told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he counted on Beijing’s mediation in settling the Ukrainian conflict. Le Monde has said that Macron’s visit to China has failed to bring about any change to Beijing’s position regarding the Ukrainian conflict and Russia.

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“The Ukrainians themselves know the truth. They’re in a very terrible position right now.”

Russia ‘Winning’ Fight Against Ukraine – Retired US Army Colonel Macgregor (RT)

Russia is defeating Ukraine and the recent leaks of US classified documents will not change the outcome on the battlefield, retired US Army colonel and former Pentagon adviser Douglas Macgregor has said. “I think the Russians are winning anyway, and the Russians know the truth,” Macgregor said in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel on Sunday. “The Ukrainians themselves know the truth. They’re in a very terrible position right now. We’ve been pushing them to launch this massive offensive in the spring,” Macgregor argued. “And, frankly, [Ukrainians] don’t have the forces, they don’t have the resources to make a difference at this point. They really need to fall back and defend against the Russians, who are ultimately going to attack in May and June.”


The documents dumped online sometime this year and recently discovered by news organizations include US intelligence dispatches and documents purported to be the Pentagon’s daily reports on the Ukraine-Russia conflict. According to a file dated February 28, Western countries have been training and equipping nine Ukrainian brigades for a counteroffensive slated for April 30. The same document said that three more brigades were to be formed “internally” in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have said in the past that offensive operations would depend on the supply of tanks and other heavy weapons from the West. Prime Minister Denis Shmigal confirmed on Monday that the counteroffensive would begin “in the nearest future.” He rejected the idea that Kiev was being pressured from abroad regarding the timetable.

Doctorow

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Denial is useless. Who’re you gonna fool?

Lloyd Austin: ‘We Won’t Be In A War With Russia’ (Az.)

“We are not in a war with Russia, and we won’t be in a war with Russia,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in an interview with The Washington Post. Asked what happens if Ukraine doesn’t succeed in pushing back Russian front lines and reclaiming significant territory, the Pentagon’s top official deflected.

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90%, from 80% a week ago.

Russian Forces Control Almost All Of Bakhmut – DPR Head’s Advisor (TASS)

Russian forces have taken control of almost 90% of the city of Artyomovsk (called Bakhmut in Ukraine), Yan Gagin, an advisor to the Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DPR) leader, told TASS on Tuesday. “The Wagner private military company controls about 90% of Artyomovsk and its advance is inevitable,” he said. Wagner PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on April 11 that Russian forces controlled more than 80% of Artyomovsk, including all administrative buildings. Gagin specified that Ukrainian troops were booby-trapping and blowing up major infrastructure facilities before leaving the western outskirts of Artyomovsk.


“The Ukrainian armed forces are okay with using scorched earth tactics. This is what they did in Volnovakha and Mariupol, and now, they are blowing up and booby-trapping major infrastructure facilities in Artyomovsk before retreating from the western outskirts of the city. A local community center was one of the buildings that they blew up recently,” Gagin noted. Earlier, he told TASS that Ukraine was redeploying troops to Artyomovsk but the majority of new soldiers were getting killed on their approach to the city. Artyomovsk, located in the Kiev-controlled part of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), is an important transport hub in terms of Ukrainian military supplies. Heavy fighting is raging in the area.

Prigozhin
https://twitter.com/i/status/1648084845682196485

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“Zelensky “sprung the event” on Guterres, the newspaper said. The president’s aides later spun it to imply that the UN chief was “congratulating military personnel on one side of the Russia-Ukraine war.”

Kiev ‘Pissed Off’ UN Chief – WaPo (RT)

President Vladimir Zelensky ambushed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with a surprise ceremony in Kiev during which the Ukrainian leader awarded medals to female soldiers, the Washington Post has reported, citing alleged US eavesdropping on the UN chief. Guterres’ reaction to the incident, which took place during his visit to the Ukrainian capital on March 8, was described in one of the slides purportedly leaked by a US National Guardsman who had access to classified US intelligence. The secretary general apparently discussed his experience privately with his spokesman Stephane Dujarric. Zelensky “sprung the event” on Guterres, the newspaper said. The president’s aides later spun it to imply that the UN chief was “congratulating military personnel on one side of the Russia-Ukraine war.”

Guterres “emphasized that he made a point of not smiling the entire time,” according to the US document purporting to describe the conversation. Footage of the ceremony, which took place on International Women’s Day, indeed shows Guterres maintaining an expressionless face as Zelensky awarded decorations to uniformed female troops. He offered a small nod and a brief smile to the ladies as he shook their hands while standing on the stage alongside the Ukrainian leader. Dujarric confirmed to the Post that his boss was “unpleasantly surprised” by the event, to which he did not consent in advance. Washington’s apparent snooping on the UN leader fits a long record of clandestine activities by the US and other Western powers, the Post noted.

Last week, a BBC report based on another slide from the same trove described the US’ displeasure with efforts undertaken by Guterres to deliver on his promise to Russia to facilitate exports of its food and fertilizers. The pledge was part of the so-called Black Sea Initiative, which allowed Ukrainian grain to be shipped out by sea. The UN chief’s attempts to deliver on the promise were “undermining broader efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its actions in Ukraine,” the slide said. Dujarric commented on the BBC report, stating that Guterres was “not surprised by the fact that people are spying on him and listening in on his private conversations.” “What is surprising is the malfeasance or incompetence that allows for such private conversations to be distorted and become public,” he added.

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“Washington’s apparent snooping on the UN leader fits a long record of clandestine activities by the US and other Western powers, the Post noted.”

Leaked Document Reveals the US Spying on the UN Secretary-General (Antiwar)

Classified documents allegedly leaked by Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira have revealed that the US is closely spying on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and is not happy with his engagement with Moscow. Several documents detail Guterres’ communications, including one that accuses him of “undermining” efforts to take action against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The document addresses his communications with Moscow regarding the grain deal that unlocked Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. To broker the deal between Moscow and Kyiv, the UN agreed to help facilitate the export of Russian fertilizer and grain, which has been hindered by Western sanctions despite exemptions for agricultural goods.

The document reads: “UN Secretary-General Guterres is taking steps to accommodate Russia in an effort to protect the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), which he considers a pivotal UN success and key to addressing global food insecurity, and his actions are undermining broader efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its actions in Ukraine.” The document was likely written either in late February or early March before Russia and Ukraine agreed to extend the grain deal on March 18. It says in early February, Guterres “urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a letter to renew the BSGI before its term expires on March 18 and Guterres emphasized his efforts to improve Russia’s ability to export, even if that involves sanctioned Russian entities or individuals, according to FISA-derived signal intelligence.”

Signal intelligence refers to information obtained by intercepting communications. In response to the revelation that the US was spying on Guterres, his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told Al Jazeera that he is “not surprised by the fact that people are spying on him and listening in on his private conversations.” “What is surprising is the malfeasance or incompetence that allows for such private conversations to be distorted and become public,” Dujarric said. Other documents detailed private communications between Guterres and his deputy.

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Solution: more debt?!

White House: China Wants To See Dollar Weaken As Reserve Currency (Az.)

White House economist Jared Bernstein said there was “some evidence” that China wants to see the dollar weaken as the international reserve currency, and urged Congress to raise the US debt ceiling to protect the value of the dollar, Report informs referring to Reuters. Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told a Senate Banking Committee hearing on his nomination to head the body that US control of the world’s reserve currency offered benefits, including the ability to impose sanctions, as Washington had done on Russia over its war against Ukraine.

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Nominal GDP includes a lot of unproductive work (like people sitting through meetings all day long). Once we ditch that, the situation looks much worse for the G7.

BRICS To Pass G7 In Economic Might – Bloomberg (RT)

The BRICS group – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – is expected to increase their share of the global economy to nearly 35% by 2028, Bloomberg reported on Monday. According to the outlet’s calculations based on the latest IMF data, this year, the BRICS countries will contribute 32.1% of the world’s growth, compared to the G7’s 29.9%. The Group of Seven nations (G7), consisting of the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, is considered the most advanced economic bloc of countries on the planet. The report indicated that in 2020, the contribution of the BRICS countries and the G7 to global economic growth was equal, and from that moment on, the performance of the Western countries has been declining. By 2028, the G7’s contribution to the world economy is predicted to decrease to 27.8%.

Bloomberg calculations show that China will be the top contributor to global growth over the next five years, with its share set to be double that of the US. China’s share of global GDP expansion is expected to represent 22.6% of total world growth by 2028, the outlet wrote. India is projected to contribute 12.9% of global GDP. “In total, 75% of global growth is expected to be concentrated in 20 countries and over half in the top four: China, India, the US and Indonesia. While Group of Seven countries will comprise a smaller share, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and France are seen among the top 10 contributors,” the outlet wrote. A recent study by a UK-based macroeconomics research firm has also found that the gap between the two groups in terms of global economic weight is expected to continue to grow.

The analysts noted that China and India have been experiencing robust economic growth, and more countries are interested in joining BRICS. Earlier this year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “more than a dozen” nations have expressed interest in joining BRICS, including Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Türkiye, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bangladesh have acquired equity in the New Development Bank, the funding organization of BRICS. Last year, BRICS countries proposed the creation of their own currency in order to move away from the US dollar and the euro in mutual transactions.

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“There may be an obsession in America about Chinese activity on the continent, but there is no such obsession here..”

Can BRICS Weaken the Dominance of the IMF and World Bank? (Baroud)

For decades, the US’s greatest weapon has been its dollar which, with time, ceased being a normal currency per se, to become an actual commodity. Wars have been fought to ensure countries, like Iraq and Libya, remain committed to the dollar. Following the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Baghdad returned to selling its oil in US dollars. This struggle over the dominance of the dollar was also painfully felt in Venezuela which has the world’s largest oil reserve, yet was reduced to abject poverty for attempting to challenge the supremacy of Washington its currency. Though it will take time, the process of lessening the reliance on US dollars is now in full swing. On March 30, Brazil and China announced a trade agreement that would allow them to use the two countries’ national currencies, the yuan and the reais, respectively.

This step shall prove consequential, for it will encourage other South American countries to follow suit. But that move was neither the first, nor will it be the last of its kind. One of the main decisions by finance ministers and central bank governors of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) following their March 30-31 meeting in Indonesia is to reduce their reliance on the US dollar. They agree to “reinforce financial resilience … through the use of local currency to support cross-border trade and investment in the ASEAN region.” This too is a game-changer. The BRICS countries, in particular, are leading the charge and are set to serve as the facilitator of rearranging the world’s economic and financial map. While the West is busy trying to keep its own economies afloat, it remains wary of the changes underway in the Global South. Washington and other western capitals are worried. They ought to be.

Following a meeting between US President Joe Biden and 40 African leaders at the White House last December, it was clear that African countries were not interested in taking sides in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Consequently, US Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Africa on March 26 to meet African leaders, with the sole purpose of pushing them away from China and Russia. That effort is likely to fail. A perfect illustration of Africa’s refusal to abandon its neutrality is the press conference between Harris and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, on March 28. “There may be an obsession in America about Chinese activity on the continent, but there is no such obsession here,” Akufo-Addo told reporters.

To argue that BRICS is a purely economic group is to ignore a large part of the story. The timing of BRICS’ expansion, the stern political discourse of its members, potential members and allies, the repeated visits by top Russian and Chinese diplomats to Africa and other regions in the Global South, etc., indicate that BRICS has become the South’s new platform for geopolitics, economy and diplomacy.

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It’s become normal.

Russian Envoy Slams Die Welt Over ‘Kill Putin’ Quote (RT)

Germany’s Die Welt daily “hit rock bottom” in its anti-Russian zeal last week, the Russian ambassador to Berlin, Sergey Nechaev, said on Monday, in response to an interview with American columnist Fred Kaplan in which he said the “easiest way” to end the Ukraine conflict is for someone to “kill Putin.” Die Welt has left “this de facto call for murder” unredacted and uncommented on and even used it as a headline, Nechaev wrote in a damning post published on the embassy’s Telegram account. The envoy was apparently referring to Die Welt’s Twitter account, which used the “killing” quote to draw attention to the interview with Kaplan on its social media. “It is unfortunate that some German media keep crossing all the lines and hitting rock bottom,” the ambassador said, adding that “although this is outrageous, it is no longer surprising.”

Kaplan made the statement in response to Die Welt’s question about the “most plausible scenarios” of ending the military conflict between Moscow and Kiev, which has now been ongoing for now than a year. “The easiest way for this to end is for someone to kill Putin,” Kaplan stated, adding that a “new leader” could them come to power, who would declare Russia’s military operation in Ukraine “a folly” and gain the support of the Russian elites to end the conflict. The American journalist and political scientist said he does not believe that Moscow will prevail, adding that otherwise the conflict could last “for years” and potentially end with an agreement that would involve the US and China as “guarantors.”

The US columnist also admitted that Kiev is fully dependent on US aid and that a halt to this assistance might force the Ukrainian government to “strike a deal” with Moscow. “Without the US assistance, it [Ukraine] would not last long,” he said. Die Welt’s choice of a quote has also been met with criticism on social media. One person accused the outlet of being “no longer above … an incitement to murder.” “Is it a call for murder?” another person asked, warning that killing the Russian president could also bring “hardliners” to power in Russia, potentially putting the world on the brink of a nuclear war. The German media outlet has not commented on the criticism so far. Neither the text of the interview nor the Twitter post has been altered in any way as of the time of this writing.

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“..indicates London’s clear violation of the fundamental principles of the 1962 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and runs counter to the status of the British diplomatic mission in Moscow..”

Russia Officially Rebukes UK Envoy Over Remarks On Journalist’s Verdict (TASS)

Russia has issued a stern rebuke to British Ambassador to Moscow Deborah Bronnert over her remarks as well as statements by senior British Foreign Office officials regarding the court verdict handed down in the case against journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza (designated as a foreign agent in Russia), the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “On April 18, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned British Ambassador to Moscow Deborah Bronnert to issue a protest to her against her unacceptable remarks as well as the provocative statements made by the highest officials of the British Foreign Office following the Moscow City Court’s verdict handed down in the case of Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian national convicted of high treason and making false reports about the Russian Army,” the statement reads.

The ministry added that London’s reference to the fact that Kara-Murza holds British citizenship was “legally null and void” under Russian jurisprudence. The Russian Foreign Ministry also pointed out that Moscow viewed foreign diplomats’ calls for revoking the verdict as blatant interference in Russia’s domestic affairs. “Such disrespectful behavior indicates London’s clear violation of the fundamental principles of the 1962 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and runs counter to the status of the British diplomatic mission in Moscow,” the statement added.

According to the ministry, Bronnert was informed that British officials’ attempts “to lecture Russia on respect for human rights” were unacceptable as the international community was well aware of London’s disregard for human rights issues. Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin said earlier that the Russian Foreign Ministry had strongly protested to Bronnert, pointing out that “the activity staged by the British, the Americans and the Canadians yesterday morning is regarded as blatant interference” in Russia’s internal affairs.

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Legacy of the west. Of course they will turn to China.

EU Funds Enslavement Of African Migrants In Libya – UN (GZ)

An investigation by the United Nations has concluded that money provided by the European Union to state entities in Libya has facilitated crimes against humanity ranging from forced labor and sexual slavery to torture. Through its financial support of the Libyan Coast Guard and the Libyan Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM), the European Union has aided and abetted crimes against humanity, according to a recent UN report. On March 27, 2023, the United Nations released the findings of a three-year investigation, confirming that “arbitrary detention, murder, rape, enslavement, sexual slavery, extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance” has become a “widespread practice” in the once-prosperous nation of Libya, which was plunged into civil war by NATO’s regime change war over a decade ago.

While crimes against humanity were found to be widespread throughout the country, the report homed in on the plight of migrants and blamed the European Union for enabling the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity to enact abuses against Africans seeking asylum in Europe. The report stated in its introductory section: “The Mission found that crimes against humanity were committed against migrants in places of detention under the actual or nominal control of Libya’s Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration, the Libyan Coast Guard and the Stability Support Apparatus. These entities received technical, logistical and monetary support from the European Union and its member States for, inter alia, the interception and return of migrants.”

In other words, rather than directly intercepting migrants traveling by boat to Europe, the European Union has outsourced the dirty work to the Libyan Coast Guard. Once the coast guard detains the migrants, they are sent back to Libya and transferred to both official and “secret prisons” where they are often exploited for financial gain through forced labor, ransom, or sexual slavery.

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Woke.

Trump Says Disney ‘Destroying’ Florida Governor DeSantis (RT)

Former President Donald Trump says Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is “being absolutely destroyed” in his months-long battle with Disney, after the governor unveiled a new bill that would give state officials more authority over the company’s massive Disney World amusement park. Trump took aim at DeSantis in a social media post on Tuesday, calling his feud with Disney unnecessary, while condemning the governor’s new legislative effort as a political stunt. “DeSanctus is being absolutely destroyed by Disney. His original PR plan fizzled, so now he’s going back with a new one in order to save face,” he said, using a disparaging nickname for the governor.

The former leader went on to predict that Disney – one of the state’s largest employers – would cut off investments in Florida “because of the governor,” suggesting the company “could even announce a slow withdrawal or sale of certain properties, or the whole thing. Watch!” While DeSantis has not announced a 2024 presidential campaign, he is expected to run for the White House and is widely considered Trump’s main Republican rival. On Monday, DeSantis announced a bill that would rescind an agreement Disney struck with state officials earlier this year, which granted Disney free rein to develop the district that hosts its Walt Disney World theme park and its related resorts. While DeSantis previously appointed officials to head up a new state board to oversee the district, the deal with Disney was completed before they began their roles, effectively circumventing the board in giving the company full developmental powers.

“They negotiated with themselves, to give themselves the ability to maintain their self-governing status. Now that’s in direct defiance of the will of the people of Florida,” the governor told reporters on Monday. “They thought that they could create some type of development agreements that would essentially render everything that we did null and void and put them in control in perpetuity for this. Well, that’s not going to work.” DeSantis’ row with Disney kicked off last year after the company publicly opposed his ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill, which barred certain public school teachers from classroom discussion or instruction related to sexual orientation or gender identity. Dubbing the act the ‘Don’t Say Gay bill’, Disney said it “should never have been signed into law” and vowed to fight for its repeal.

The governor argued that Disney’s statement “crossed the line” and slammed the company for working to “repeal substantive protections for parents.” Since then, DeSantis has sought to strip Disney of its broad authority over the district housing its theme park, and more recently, requested an inspector general probe into Disney’s development agreement with the state for potential criminal or civil violations.

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“It is illegal to give a member of Congress or a president even $100 to gain influence. However, you can literally give millions to their spouses or children..”

Then There Were Nine (Turley)

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer has revealed that there are not three but nine members of the Biden family that may have benefitted from suspected influence peddling efforts. For those of us who have long criticized the corrupt practices of the Biden family, the identity of these other family members is intriguing after the Committee secured new bank and financial records. Democratic members again insisted that there is no need to investigate such influence peddling. The new information on the Biden family is due largely to the takeover of the House by the GOP. Previously, Democrats blocked efforts to investigate influence peddling by the Biden family for years. After assuming control of the Committee. Comer sought suspicious activity reports sent by banks to the Treasury Department alerting of potential criminal activity in transactions involving President Biden’s family.

He stated on Monday that “We’ve identified six additional members of Joe Biden’s family who may have benefited from the Biden family’s businesses that we are investigating, bringing the total number of those involved or benefiting to nine.” Those are six names are in addition to three Biden family members and two associates previously linked to payment from China in 2017. Three million was wired Biden family associate Rob Walker in March 2017, who then allegedly divided and distributed the funds later. There remains an “Unknown Biden” who received four payments in 2017 totaling $70,000. The investigation into the Bidens has made many in the Beltway uncomfortable. Influence peddling has long been the favored form of corruption in this city, but few families seem to have cashed into the extent of the Bidens.

I frankly do not understand the willingness of so many Democrats to cover for the Bidens. Democratic members have gone all in with censorship, but this is an effort to scuttle investigations into corruption that may have resulted in millions of dollars going to Biden family members. The Biden family has long been associated with influence peddling to the degree that they could add an access key to their family crest. Influence peddling has long been a cottage industry in Washington. For decades, I have written about this loophole in bribery laws. It is illegal to give a member of Congress or a president even $100 to gain influence. However, you can literally give millions to their spouses or children in the forms of windfall contracts or cozy jobs. James Biden has been remarkably (even refreshingly) open about marketing his access to his brother.

Former Americore executive Tom Pritchard and others allege that Biden openly referenced his access to his brother and his family name in his pitch for clients. James has faced a wide array of litigation over allegedly fraudulent activities as well as a personal loan acquired through Americore before it went into bankruptcy. Hunter worked with his uncle but also branched off on his own in the family business. While his father recently emphasized that his son was a hopeless addict, that defense stands in glaring contradiction to the fact that he maintained a multimillion-dollar influence-peddling scheme. The question is why foreign figures (including some associated with foreign intelligence) rushed to him international money transfers and complex deals worth millions from Moscow to Kyiv to Beijing.

[..] Many Democrats and legal experts have objected that influence peddling is not a crime. However, it is corrupt and squarely within the oversight authority of Congress. Indeed, if it is not a matter for criminal charges, such congressional action may be the only way to force accountability for corrupt efforts to sell influence and access.

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Happy dog day
https://twitter.com/i/status/1648374882726559746

 

 

Walter

 

 


While it may look at first glance like a composite image, this mind-bending picture by Kenichi Ohno and titled “Gap”, is a real single-exposure photo and not the result of Photoshop manipulation

 

 

Armadillo
https://twitter.com/i/status/1648377460201865244

 

 

Nemrut

 

 


Given its transparent body, the glass octopus, Vitreledonella richardi, remains one of the most elusive creatures of the deep sea. Rare photos such as this reveal an array of opaque organs and a glimpse of its unusually shaped eyes

 

 

Draco

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 172023
 


Auguste Renoir The umbrellas 1881-6

 

West Doesn’t Believe In Kiev’s Crimea Hopes – Former Ukraine MOD Chief (RT)
Slovakia To Destroy 1,500 Tons Of Ukrainian Grain (RT)
Musk Says Twitter Secrets ‘Blew’ His Mind (RT)
Beijing Would Take Early Control Of Taiwanese Skies – Pentagon Leaks (RT)
China’s Century Of Humiliation Is Over (Fomenko)
China Speaks The Language Of Pragmatism (Fomenko)
Snowden and Texeira: Ten Years of Disaster (Craig Murray)
Disney Reportedly Lost Over $250 Million on Two Woke Movies (Turley)
South Korea Orders Google To Disclose Data Gathered By US Spy Agencies (RT)
South Korea Starts Paying Single Citizens $500 Monthly (Az.)
The Orwellian RESTRICT Act Is A Chilling Echo Of ‘1984’ (Cheong)
Yellen Says Sanctions May Risk Hegemony Of US Dollar (AFP)
Europe’s Largest Nuclear Reactor Launches 14 Years Behind Schedule (RT)
Climate Czar Kerry Boasts There’s ‘No Rolling Back’ Clean Energy Transition (TP)
Think Tank Insists Climate Change Alarmism Is ‘a Lie that Must Stop’ (BB)

 

 

 

 

Nap Macgregor

Nap Larry

 

 

 

 

Lula peace
https://twitter.com/i/status/1647363005099679744

 

 

 

 

 

 

@CheburekiMan: The AFU chief, Zaluzhny, goes to Washington, meets with Sec Def Lloyd Austin and Gen Mark Milley, where he states Ukraine’s KIA at 257K. This was according to Col Doug Macgregor, former Pentagon advisor, citing anonymous inside source(s). The recent major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war (actually U.S. proxy war) started Feb 24, 2022, while Zaluzhny’s visit occurred on Jan 16th, 2023. That is a 326 day spread, which works out to ~800 losses per day. Given that Zaluzhny was on a begging mission for long-range weapons and support, he’d have no incentive to underestimate losses. Instead, he’d be appealing to fact, in order to make the case for how Ukraine is paying dearly in lives and that the U.S. must do everything it can to help. According to CIA estimates of manpower fit for military service, Ukraine draws from a theoretical pool of ~7,000,000, while Russia’s is ~23,000,000. This isn’t accounting for the mass exodus of military age Ukrainians to Russia, the West and elsewhere, which could knock millions off the pool numbers. The leaked Pentagon docs indicate a kill ratio of 1:7, meaning that for every one Russian loss there are seven Ukrainian losses.

West Doesn’t Believe In Kiev’s Crimea Hopes – Former Ukraine MOD Chief (RT)

Most in the US and EU do not believe Ukraine is capable of fulfilling its pledge to retake control of Crimea from Russia, former a Ukrainian defense minister has acknowledged. “The vast majority of Western politicians, analysts and journalists don’t see the liberation of Crimea as a realistic prospect. This is a fact,” Andrey Zagorodnyuk said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on Thursday. However the former minister, who was part of President Vladimir Zelensky’s government between August 2019 and March 2020, stressed that Western doubts do not mean Kiev should give up on the idea of attacking the peninsula. “We need to persuade them [the West], convince them, put them before a fact, look for different reasoning” to receive the required weapons and other forms of assistance, he insisted.

According to Zagorodnyuk, there are a number of reasons why foreign backers have doubts over Ukraine’s ability to achieve military success in Crimea, which became part of Russia in 2014 following a referendum organized in response to a violent coup in Kiev. “First of all, it will be very difficult to do this because significant Russian forces will be gathered there to prevent its return by military means under Ukrainian rule. The second issue is the integration of Crimea [into Ukraine]. It’s a rather problematic story,” he explained. The minister also said that – when thinking about a Ukrainian operation against Crimea – Kiev’s Western backers are “considering its aftermath in terms of the escalation of the situation” in the conflict overall. During his address on Saturday, dedicated to Orthodox Easter, Zelensky again promised that Ukraine will return Crimea and all other territories it has lost to Russia.


This includes the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, which were incorporated into the Russian state last October, following referendums, in which the local populations voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move. “Our flag will fly on the shores of the Sea of Azov and the Seversky Donets River, over the slag heaps, and [Crimea’s] Ai-Petri mountain. The sun will shine in the south, the sun will shine in the east, the sun will shine in Crimea,” the Ukrainian leader pledged. Last month, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who serves as deputy head of the country’s Security Council, said threats against Crimea by Ukrainian officials were just “propaganda” and should not be treated seriously. However, Medvedev warned that if the peninsula is actually attacked, it could become “the basis for the use of all means of protection, including those provided for by the fundamentals of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence.”

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Pesticides… Are they in all the grain exports? Has anyone else tested?

Also, the EU has said countries can’t ban Ukrainian grain to save their own farmers. Only Brussels gets to decide.

Slovakia To Destroy 1,500 Tons Of Ukrainian Grain (RT)

Slovak authorities have banned the processing and sale of Ukrainian grain after discovering a dangerous pesticide in a shipment, the country’s Agriculture Ministry announced on its website on Thursday. According to the statement, the ban will cover all grain of Ukrainian origin and flour made from it that is currently stored in the country. Earlier this week, Slovak authorities discovered a 1,500-ton shipment of Ukrainian grain to be contaminated with chlorpyrifos, a pesticide subject to an EU-wide ban. “The presence of a pesticide, which is not authorized in the EU and has a negative impact on human health, was confirmed in the controlled sample,” the ministry said. The country’s Agriculture Minister, Samuel Vlcan, said earlier on Thursday that the entire shipment would be destroyed.

The duration of the ban is not specified, but the ministry noted that in the coming days the authorities intend to collect samples of all Ukrainian grain and flour stored in Slovakia to determine whether it is safe for consumption. The ministry stressed that it “does not recommend the import of any Ukrainian grain and its products” at the moment and will notify all EU member states about the findings. Ukrainian grain has been flooding the markets of Eastern Europe in recent months, after Brussels permitted duty-free imports from the country to help the products reach customers in Africa and the Middle East. Much of the produce, however, stayed in the EU due to logistical constraints, sparking complaints from local farmers, who blamed cheap Ukrainian imports for the drop in prices for domestically produced grain.


Last month, the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia demanded action from the European Commission on Ukrainian agricultural imports, calling for the reintroduction of import tariffs. In early April, the countries urged the Commission to buy back accumulated Ukrainian products from them on “humanitarian grounds.” On April 7, Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus said his country had reached a deal with Kiev, which would see Ukrainian grain imports to the country halted, while transit will be allowed but closely monitored, ensuring that the grain does not stay in Poland.

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“..the exact opposite of a free press envisioned in the US Constitution..”

Musk Says Twitter Secrets ‘Blew’ His Mind (RT)

The billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk has claimed that he was shocked to find out the real scale of the US government involvement and access to Twitter communications when he purchased and took full control of the social media giant last year. “The degree to which government agencies effectively had full access to everything that was going on on Twitter blew my mind,” Musk told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, claiming he “was not aware of that” up until he eventually purchased Twitter for $44 billion last October. Musk confirmed that “everything” includes users’ supposedly private direct messages, but the brief Sunday teaser of the upcoming interview did not show whether Musk went on to call out any particular agencies or their methods. It is also unclear what, if anything, has since changed to limit the scope of the government’s access to people’s private communications.

Elon

Since purchasing Twitter in October and installing himself as the platform’s new CEO, Musk has been releasing regular batches of internal documents and communications in a bid to shed light on its previously opaque censorship policies and cozy ties with federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, enlisting independent journalists to break each document dump. Journalist Matt Taibbi, who reported on the first batch of files back in December, recently described the collusion between social media platforms, non-governmental organizations and the US government to suppress information they did not like as the “censorship-industrial complex,” calling it “a bureaucracy willing to sacrifice factual truth in service of broader narrative objectives,” and the exact opposite of a free press envisioned in the US Constitution. Last month, along with fellow Twitter Files journalist Michael Shellenberger, Taibbi was called to testify before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

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“The Japanese annexed the island from the mainland in 1895, and China sees the reunification of that territory as its right..”

Beijing Would Take Early Control Of Taiwanese Skies – Pentagon Leaks (RT)

Washington has concerns over Taiwan’s capacity to defend itself in the event of an attack from Beijing, according to leaked documents that have shaken the US military intelligence infrastructure, the Washington Post reported on Saturday. Responding to the concerns outlined in the documents, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s Defense Ministry told the Post that it “respects outside opinions about its military preparedness” but its defense protocols are “carefully constructed based on enemy threats.” The papers, which were allegedly uploaded to a gaming web forum by a 21-year-old US National Guardsman, suggest that Beijing would very likely gain early air supremacy over Taiwan should a conflict break out in the vicinity of the Taiwan Strait.

The leaked Pentagon assessments also indicate that Taipei’s military leadership has doubts surrounding its own ability to “accurately detect missile launches,” and that only around 50% of its aircraft are capable of effectively engaging Beijing’s more advanced air force. China’s tactic of obscuring the movement of military hardware within civilian infrastructure – such as passenger ferries – has impeded US intelligence-gathering efforts, the report claims. The Pentagon has been critical of Taiwan’s defensive preparedness, according to the leaks, particularly as it relates to problems in relocating Taiwanese military assets to make them less vulnerable to airstrikes. Washington, the Post adds, is also concerned by the prospects of Taiwan translating its military drills into real-world, live-action scenarios.

However, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry added in its statement to the Post that its military forces are “absolutely capable, determined and confident” that it can ensure security on the island. The damning reports on Taiwan’s defensive efficiency comes days after it held military drills in which it planned an array of responses to attacks by missiles and chemical weapons. These took place after Beijing conducted its own exercises, which reportedly included a scenario involving the ‘encirclement’ of the island.

Washington’s concerns regarding Taipei’s apparent security problems coincide with frustration in Beijing about apparent US meddling in the region. China upped its military drills last year following a visit to Taiwan by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while Beijing also expressed anger when the island’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, held a meeting with current Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California earlier this month. Beijing, which views Tsai as a separatist, considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province which will one day be returned to full rule. Washington has diplomatically acknowledged Beijing’s position that there is only one Chinese government under its ‘One China’ policy, though it has maintained unofficial ties with the island. The Biden administration has also suggested that it would aid Taiwan should China attempt to take it by force.

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“..and trying to repeat it is a grave mistake..”

China’s Century Of Humiliation Is Over (Fomenko)

The century of humiliation is understood as the era when foreign colonial powers subjugated, coerced and exploited the declining Qing Dynasty, forcibly opening up China in order to economically exploit and attain political influence over it. The period is typically considered to have begun with the opium wars of the mid-1800s, whereby the Qing’s refusal to import opium from British India led to war, which ended with the signing of an “unequal” Treaty of Nanking. This not only forced British trade interests on Chinese ports, but also annexed Hong Kong island. The opium wars were followed by many other conflicts directed against Beijing, including the forcefully created “treaty ports” that were quasi-colonial annexes where foreign law was applied over Chinese law, and atrocities such as the 1860 burning of the Old Summer Palace occurred.

The impact of the century of humiliation unleashed ideological and political change in China and led to the birth of new revolutionary ideologies which sought to revive the country, one of which became the Communist Party. On obtaining power following the 1927-1949 civil war, the Communist Party framed itself as the driving force of China’s revival and modernization, and the “humiliation” of the past as a backdrop to the rebirth of the country bringing the country to where it is today. In doing so, China’s leaders consider American attempts at containment of the country as an effort to impose a new century of humiliation. US efforts in blockading the rise and development of China through military encirclement and technological embargoes and sanctions are designed to prevent it from overtaking the US as the world’s largest economy. This naturally draws comparisons in China to the old foreign aggression against it. The US does not want China to do well, it wants to politically and economically dominate it to its own advantages, but it has only hardened the political resolve in Beijing that the failures of the past must not be repeated.

In doing so, China’s leaders consider American attempts at containment of the country as an effort to impose a new century of humiliation. US efforts in blockading the rise and development of China through military encirclement and technological embargoes and sanctions are designed to prevent it from overtaking the US as the world’s largest economy. This naturally draws comparisons in China to the old foreign aggression against it. The US does not want China to do well, it wants to politically and economically dominate it to its own advantages, but it has only hardened the political resolve in Beijing that the failures of the past must not be repeated. China’s determination to be an independent world power, in itself, immensely raises the risk of war and conflict.

Beijing is not seeking hegemony, as some Western commentators choose to portray it, but is nonetheless seeking to restore what it deems its rightful status following its national decline in the past. China does not want sagas such as the opium wars to ever be repeated, and in doing so is likely to accelerate its own military development and size in a bid to deter the US and its allies. Critical to all this is that Taiwan remains an unresolved legacy of what Beijing perceives to be part of the century of humiliation. The Japanese annexed the island from the mainland in 1895, and China sees the reunification of that territory as its right, and sees attempts to block such reunification, such as those by the US, as an effort towards a new humiliation.

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“… while the US only understands sanctions, militarism and confrontation..”

China Speaks The Language Of Pragmatism (Fomenko)

Once upon a time, US diplomacy was pragmatic and shrewd. China, of course, is the chief example of that. In the 1970s Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger masterfully paved the way to opening relations with Mao Zedong’s China, believing it could be incorporated as a critical strategic partner in the Cold War, despite itself having once been a Communist adversary. It was arguably one of the smartest diplomatic moves of the 20th century. Yet somehow its lessons have been forgotten by the current crop of foreign policymakers in Washington DC, who have become obsessed with a zero-sum rendering of American hegemony that is ideologically zealous and eschews the concept of pragmatism, compromise and engagement in its dealings with other countries.

Bloated by the corrosive influence of the military-industrial complex and their affiliated neoconservative extremists, contemporary American foreign policy doctrine revolves around the perpetual creation and prolonging of tensions and conflict to force countries into its geopolitical orbit, framing every single dilemma as a “good vs. evil” conflict in which the US presents itself as the only good force. It is a mindset which consolidated following America’s victory in the Cold War, and the belief its hegemony over the world is a divine right. In this twisted world view, peace is derided as “appeasement” and anyone who does not sign up to the agenda of perpetual war and arms races is derided as morally corroded. Allies are not to be listened to, but coerced into following America’s will by hook or by crook.

This foreign policy fanaticism has crippled the US ability to build pragmatic relationships with countries for the greater good outside its own ideological disposition, precisely what China is deploying in its diplomacy with countries across the world, and by an ironic twist this has limited America’s ability to secure its interests, get what it wants, or “sit at the table.” What is very telling, for example, is how China was able to broker a normalisation of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The US has shown no diplomatic capacity to do so in its current outlook, because its entire Middle East policy, for one, is based on an aversion to peace, perpetually antagonizing Iran as a “threat” and therefore leveraging its own military capabilities as a security guarantor for its own strategic and commercial gain.

Likewise, this bizarre militarist zealotry is why the US has been set on prolonging the conflict in Ukraine in the belief that Russia can never be offered a particle of compromise, while simultaneously attempting to repeat the same process in the Taiwan Strait. But what happens if other countries have different ideas? Or no longer buy into this agenda? If a nation such as China, by virtue of maintaining good ties with as many nations as possible, is able to shape the international outlook? The US has forgotten the meaning of diplomacy, knowing only the language of sanctions, containment, militarism and confrontation, and in doing so has found itself on the back foot against China, which appreciates the importance of true mutual interests, and leverages its influence to that end accordingly.

Had the current crop of US leaders been in the White House in the 1970s, the great geopolitical rapprochement with Beijing would never have happened, because the only objective could have been hegemony, hegemony, and more hegemony. Thus, in the present day, the belief that the US can in any way work with China for the greater good is derided. But when you don’t sit at the table, you cannot expect to have the meal, and it is these delusions of grandeur which increasingly make China look like a kingmaker, and America like an unhinged zealot.

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“..precisely the same as that which came over from Daniel Ellsberg’s original Pentagon Papers leak 50 years ago – that the public is being lied to about how the war is going.”

Snowden and Texeira: Ten Years of Disaster (Craig Murray)

Ten years ago Edward Snowden was helped to escape by Wikileaks and to publish his revelations by The Intercept, Guardian, New York Times and others. In 2023 Jack Texeira is tracked down by UK secret service front Bellingcat in conjunction with the New York Times and in parallel with the Washington Post, not to help him escape or help him publish or tell people his motives, but to help the state arrest him. Those outlets have accessed a cache of at least 300 additional secret documents in doing so – and have kept them secret, with the exception of a couple of snippets that forward the official state narrative. That contrast with ten years ago tells a very real and glaring truth. The idea that the legacy media in any way serves the truth or the public interest is now completely buried. The legacy media serves the state, and the state serves the billionaires.

Wikileaks is now so hamstrung by attacks on its finances, personnel and logistics as to be almost inoperable. Propaganda outfit Bellingcat was conceived as a way to counter it, by producing material with the frisson of secret access but actually as an outlet for the security services. An astonishing amount of “liberal opinion” falls for it. Similarly the Intercept, like the Guardian, was subject to an internal takeover that delivered it entirely into the hands of the neo-conservatives. Neither the alleged journalists of New York Times, Washington Post, nor Bellingcat did the most basic things a real journalist would do. They did not contact Texeira, speak to him, ask him to explain his motivation, and look through the other secret material to which he had access, to get Texeira’s view on its meaning and implications, and to publish what in it was in the public interest.

Instead they simply shopped him to the FBI and closed down the remaining documents. I am not at all surprised by Bellingcat, which is plainly a spook organisation. I hope this enables more people to see through them. But the behaviour of the New York Times and Washington Post is truly shocking. They now see their mission as to serve the security state, not public knowledge. In the ten years between Snowden and Texeira, the world has changed hugely for the worse. Not only has a huge amount of freedom disappeared, freedom’s former Guardians have been subverted. It has been ten years of disaster. A cache of twitter images of some of the leaked documents is here. I am not aware of any broader cache – feel free to insert links to any in the comments. The initial reaction to the leaked documents was to rubbish them with the memes routinely applied to all information embarrassing to the state nowadays – they were either “Russian hacks” or “faked or amended disinformation”.

These attacks were particularly important as the message that came over clearly from these Texeira leaks was precisely the same as that which came over from Daniel Ellsberg’s original Pentagon Papers leak 50 years ago – that the public is being lied to about how the war is going. (It is worth reflecting that in today’s world the NYT and Washington Post would have condemned Ellsberg and emphasised those bits of the Pentagon Papers which reflect badly on the VietCong). Ukraine was particularly concerned about US official figures showing Ukrainian casualties much higher, and Russian casualties much lower, than the Ukrainian official figures the US ostensibly endorsed. I have to say I always find both Ukrainian and Russian casualty figures laughably false. The idea that either side is telling the truth appears to me one that no half-sensible person could entertain. I had presumed that was the general view.

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“These companies could trigger shareholder revolts if the moves continue to spark boycotts or diminish sales.”

Disney Reportedly Lost Over $250 Million on Two Woke Movies (Turley)

We have been discussing the right of shareholders to push back on the social and political campaigns of corporations that reduce share value or damage brands. The concern over the “Go Woke, Go Broke” trend is greatest with companies like Disney, which has been particularly open about its corporate advocacy. That has proven most controversial not just in its announced opposition to the Florida education bill, but children movies that contained controversial sexual elements. Now, Deadline has released an analysis showing that Disney lost a staggering quarter of a billion dollars on two of these woke movies: Lightyear and Strange World. According to Deadline, Lightyear lost $106 million and Strange World lost a whopping $152 million.

“Strange World” is about an explorer family named the Clades. The movie, however, caused a great deal of buzz due to young Ethan talking to his grandfather about his same-sex crush on another boy. Then there is the actual “Buzz.” In Buzz Lightyear, Disney featured a same-sex kiss. Pixar initially removed the scene. However, after the controversy over the Florida education bill, it was put back into the movie as a reported statement of solidarity. For many parents, the sexuality elements were a statement that they did not want to address with their young children. The movies bombed at the box office to the tune of a quarter of a billion dollar loss. Disney has even entered the fray over racial reparation with a controversial children’s episode.


Obviously Disney has company these days in being the subject of a public backlash. In the case of Bud Light, a boycott over its its sponsorship deal with controversial transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. While Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Brendan Whitworth issued a non-apology apology, customers are reportedly shunning not just Bud Light but other Anheuser-Busch products. That led to continued backlash. For its part, Nike is unapologetic and pushed back on critics over its campaign featuring Mulvaney. It told consumers that they needed to be “kind” and “inclusive” while declaring “hate speech, bullying, or other behaviors that are not in the spirit of a diverse and inclusive community will be deleted” from its sites. These companies could trigger shareholder revolts if the moves continue to spark boycotts or diminish sales.

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Google is a spy agency worldwide.

South Korea Orders Google To Disclose Data Gathered By US Spy Agencies (RT)

South Korea’s Supreme Court has ordered Google to disclose any personal data it has collected on South Korean citizens and shared with third parties, including US intelligence agencies. The decision is binding, even as the case against the tech giant continues in a lower court. Thursday’s ruling came after several South Korean plaintiffs sued Google and its local branch, Google Korea, seeking to force the company to reveal whether it had gathered or shared their data. They alleged that personal information was passed to the US National Security Agency (NSA) through its ‘PRISM’ program, which collects a massive amount of data from the internet, including private communications, as well as from service providers directly.

While South Korean law mandates that internet service providers must respond to customer inquiries related to their own personal data and whether it has been shared with third parties, an appeals court previously ruled that Google had the right to reject such requests so long as the decision was in line with US law. However, the Supreme Court partially overturned that ruling, finding that Google must disclose the relevant information upon request regardless of American law, though it nonetheless returned the case to a lower court to continue litigation. “Comprehensive consideration should be given to whether the need to respect foreign laws is significantly superior to the need to protect personal information,” the court said in a statement. The top court also ruled that even if personal data was transferred to a foreign intelligence service for legitimate reasons, companies still must disclose that fact after the person in question is no longer under investigation.


In a statement, Google Korea said it would review Thursday’s decision “carefully,” and claimed that user privacy was a priority for the company. The PRISM program was first revealed to the public in 2013, after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked a massive trove of classified documents showing, among other things, the extent of domestic mass surveillance in the United States. According to the leaked material, PRISM was once “the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports” after it was launched in 2007 under President George W. Bush. The program has come under fire by privacy advocates for its sweeping scope, with Snowden deeming it “dangerous” and accusing the NSA of “nakedly, aggressively criminal acts.”

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Curious article. And sad.

South Korea Starts Paying Single Citizens $500 Monthly (Az.)

The South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family will provide up to 650,000 Korean won (about $500) per month to isolated social recluses, in a bid to support their “psychological and emotional stability and healthy growth,” Report informs referring to CNN. About 3.1% of Koreans aged 19 to 39 are “reclusive lonely young people,” defined as living in a “limited space, in a state of being disconnected from the outside for more than a certain period of time, and have noticeable difficulty in living a normal life,” according to the ministry’s report, citing the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.


The new measures specifically target young people as part of the larger Youth Welfare Support Act, which aims to support people extremely withdrawn from society, as well as youths without a guardian or school protection who are at risk of delinquency. The monthly allowance will be available to reclusive lonely young people aged 9 to 24 who live in a household earning below the median national income — defined in South Korea as about 5.4 million won (about $4,165) per month for a household of four people.

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“Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act, or RESTRICT Act..”

The Orwellian RESTRICT Act Is A Chilling Echo Of ‘1984’ (Cheong)

In an eerie semblance to George Orwell’s ‘1984’, the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act, or RESTRICT Act, looms as a dark cloud over American liberties. Branded as a mere “TikTok ban,” this act possesses a sweeping reach that would empower the federal government to designate any nation a “foreign adversary,” ban online services and products even indirectly controlled by an entity within their jurisdiction, and severely punish Americans who engage in almost any transaction with them. Sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the RESTRICT Act not only targets the Chinese-linked TikTok platform but also has the potential to dismantle the very foundations of American freedom.

One cannot help but draw comparisons to Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, where pervasive government surveillance and control are the norm. In a frightening twist, this proposed legislation could make such nightmarish fiction a stark reality. The chilling provisions of the RESTRICT Act would impose a civil penalty of up to $250,000 by the Secretary of Commerce on individuals who conduct transactions that violate the act. The bill’s definition of a transaction is disturbingly broad, encompassing activities such as acquisitions, importation, data transmission, software updates, repairs, data hosting services, and other transactions designed to evade or circumvent the act’s application. However, as in the oppressive world of ‘1984’, the $250,000 fine is only the beginning. American citizens found to be in violation of the act could face a criminal fine of up to $1 million and a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

The parallels to Orwell’s vision are striking, as the RESTRICT Act essentially serves as a tool of control and punishment. It is a sobering reminder of the dystopian fate that awaits the public if it allows government unchecked power in the name of security from foreign nations. Moreover, the bill allows the federal government to seize and access various devices and services belonging to American citizens, including phones and computers, internet access points, e-commerce technology and services, cryptocurrencies, and even advanced technologies like quantum computing, post-quantum cryptography, advanced robotics, and biotechnology. To add insult to injury, the government is granted immunity from public oversight by restricting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to the enforcement of the bill.

In this regard, the RESTRICT Act resembles an American version of China’s “Great Firewall,” which isolates its citizens from a significant portion of the World Wide Web. However, unlike in China, where VPN usage does not automatically lead to imprisonment and many citizens use it to access popular apps and video games without repercussions, the RESTRICT Act imposes much more severe penalties on those who violate its provisions. Already, conservatives are sounding the alarm on the dangers of the bill, including Tucker Carlson, who dedicated a monologue warning that it would provide the government the ability to “punish American citizens and regulate how they communicate on the Internet.”
Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter: “Nothing is ever as it seems. The uniparty wants more power to control what we do and see. And now we’re going to give the Biden goons the ability to throw us in jail for 20 years if they decide we’re in violation of this craziness? No thanks.”

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No, it won’t happen over night. Butt it doesn’t have to.

Yellen Says Sanctions May Risk Hegemony Of US Dollar (AFP)

Economic sanctions imposed on Russia and other countries by the United States put the dollar’s dominance at risk as targeted nations seek out an alternative, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday. “There is a risk when we use financial sanctions that are linked to the role of the dollar that over time it could undermine the hegemony of the dollar,” Yellen said on CNN. “Of course, it does create a desire on the part of China, of Russia, of Iran to find an alternative,” she told the network’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview. “But the dollar is used as a global currency for reasons that are not easy for other countries to find an alternative with the same properties.”


The robust US capital markets and rule of law “are essential in a currency that is going to be used globally for transactions,” she added. “And we haven’t seen any other country that has the basic… institutional infrastructure that would enable its currency to serve the world like this.” Yellen noted that sanctions are an “extremely important tool,” all the more so when used by the United States and its allies as “a coalition of partners acting together to impose these sanctions.” Asked about the possibility of using frozen Russian assets to rebuild war-ravaged Ukraine after Moscow’s invasion, Yellen said that “Russia should pay for the damages that it’s caused.” But she noted there are “legal constraints on what we can do with frozen Russian assets, and we’re discussing with our partners what might lie in the future.”

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At the same time that Germany closes three. Where’s the logic?

Europe’s Largest Nuclear Reactor Launches 14 Years Behind Schedule (RT)

The Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) nuclear reactor in southwest Finland has begun electricity production, the head of the plant’s operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said in a statement on Sunday. After a lengthy testing phase at the facility in Eurajoki, regular output was scheduled to start on Monday, but was instead launched at 2am on Sunday. The 1.6 gigawatt OL3 is the most powerful nuclear reactor in Europe, and the third largest in the world. According to TVO President Jarmo Tanhua, it is expected to operate for at least 60 years and meet around 14% of Finland’s electricity demand. “The production of Olkiluoto 3 stabilizes the price of electricity and plays an important role in the Finnish green transition,” Tanhua stated. The construction of OL3 was launched back in 2005, and it was due to start producing electricity in 2009, but setbacks in the design work and a string of legal disputes resulted in a 14-year delay in its launch.


The reactor was connected to Finland’s national power grid in March last year and started test production, but several technical glitches forced TVO to postpone its transition to regular operation several times. OL3 is the third reactor at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant. The first two units, OL1 and OL2, were commissioned in 1978 and 1980, respectively. During 2021, the Olkiluoto facility produced 14.4 terrawatt hours of power, roughly one sixth of Finland’s total electricity consumption. The newly completed reactor is expected to help Finland cut its reliance on power imports from Sweden and Norway, and make up for the supplies lost after Russia stopped power exports to the country last May, when Russian utility Inter RAO stopped receiving payments for electricity sold to Finland via the pan-European exchange Nord Pool.

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“Kerry has flown over 180,000 miles as ‘Climate Czar,’ emitting 10 million pounds of carbon.”

Climate Czar Kerry Boasts There’s ‘No Rolling Back’ Clean Energy Transition (TP)

U.S. climate czar John Kerry claimed in an interview on Sunday that “so much has been invested in clean energy that there can be no rolling back of moves to end carbon emissions,” according to an interview with the Associated Press. Kerry claimed that if countries phase out petroleum-based fuels, the world can purportedly limit average global warming to 1.7 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). “We’re in a very different place than where we were a year ago, let alone two and three years ago,” Kerry said. “But we’re not doing everything we said we’d do,” he said, after attending a meeting of energy and environment ministers of the Group of Seven wealthy nations. “A lot of countries need to step up including ours to reduce emissions faster, deploy renewables faster, bring new technologies online faster all of that has to happen.”


Kerry said the G-7 talks in northeastern Japan’s Sapporo were “really constructive” in attempting to forge a consensus on eliminating carbon-based fuels. “The United States and all the developed world has the responsibility to help the developing world through this crisis,” he said. “Those countries will really determine what happens. If they will reduce, if they will take the lead, if they will start deploying the new technologies, if they will stop using unabated fossil fuels, we’ll up the chance of winning this battle.” On Thursday, President Joe Biden is scheduled to attend a Major Economies Forum, which includes leaders of 20 nations that account for more than three-quarters of global carbon emissions. The summit offers another opportunity for committing resources to the goal of reaching zero emissions by 2050, Kerry said. “We agreed that we need to get back together personally, visit and try to see what we can find to work on together to accelerate the process. Is that doable? I hope so,” Kerry said.

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“..a dangerous fiction crippling the West..”

“..the economic growth and well-being in Europe and the United States are more threatened by extremist and delusional environmental policies than by global warming.”

Think Tank Insists Climate Change Alarmism Is ‘a Lie that Must Stop’ (BB)

Alarmism over a so-called “climate emergency” is a dangerous fiction crippling the West, declares the Gatestone Institute, a non-partisan international policy council and think tank. The West is unilaterally destroying its energy generating capabilities while the rest of the world continues to take advantage of readily available and relatively inexpensive fossil fuels, Gatestone notes in an April 14 report. As an example of this, China has been opening an average of two new coal-fired power plants a week and global CO2 emissions in the entire non-Western world continue to rise since there is not yet “any available, inexpensive alternative to fossil fuels,” states the report, written by Drieu Godefridi.


The 16th century was the coldest century of the last 9,000 years. This occurred at a time when 100 million bison roamed the Great Plains emitting methane. According to cultists of the #ClimateScam, a comparable number of cattle now is heating the earth out of control.

Citing data from the most recent study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Gatestone asserts that “the economic growth and well-being in Europe and the United States are more threatened by extremist and delusional environmental policies than by global warming.” In other words, efforts to combat climate change in the West are doing more harm than anything seen from climate change itself. Dangerously diminished energy security has been starkly evident over the past year during the Russian aggression against Ukraine, as energy prices have soared and Western nations have found themselves scrambling to meet demand by seeking assistance from unfriendly regimes.


Attempts to transition to so-called renewables have also produced a “a cruel increase in Europe’s dependence on China’s rare earth minerals,” which Beijing will use to full advantage, the report argues. Zealous climate alarmist Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, for instance, has multiplied “measures, initiatives, and declarations aimed at drastically reducing European CO2 emissions — even at the cost of Europe’s economic devastation,” the report contends, as well as “at the cost of freedom.” The report concludes by asserting that future generations “will judge us harshly for allowing extremist environmental activism to enfeeble us in the West, while a hostile East – China, Russia, North Korea and Iran — continue to advance their industrial and military capabilities.”

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RFK jr

 

 


Indonesia’s remote Sumba Island is famous for a great many things, but above all its uniquely shaped mangroves, dubbed “dancing trees” for the way they seem to sway with the setting sun in the background

 

 


Deinosuchus is an extinct genus of alligatoroid crocodilian, related to modern alligators and caimans, that lived 82 to 73 million years ago. The largest adults measuring 10.64 m

 

 

Trunk

 

 


The story of the tiger that in 1997 was wounded by a poacher who also stole part of its kill: the tiger found the poacher’s cabin, destroyed his belongings, waited at least half a day for him to return, then killed and ate him [read more: https://buff.ly/2IhMG4w]

 

 


Photographer Karmen Jones-Cox captured this stunning shot of a whale shark off the Big Island of Hawaii, providing an idea of the scale of the filter-feeding fish compared to a diver [source: https://buff.ly/3AB1mHc]

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 082022
 


Joan Miró The farmer’s wife 1923

 

Western Elites’ “Sanctions Fever” Will See European People Freeze – Putin (ZH)
EU Gas Price Cap Plan Is ‘Foolish’ – Putin (RT)
Czech Republic Weighs In On Russian Gas Price Cap (RT)
NATO Will Pay A Price But We Must Stay The Course On Ukraine (Stoltenberg)
“Counter-Offensive” – You Keep Using That Word (Schryver)
Putin Comments On IAEA Report (RT)
Charles Gave: Europeans Are “Mad With Anger And it Will Worsen” (SN)
Truss Becoming PM Signals ‘Crisis Of Democracy’ In UK – Moscow (RT)
‘One Freak After Another’ – Ex-Russian President On UK Leaders (RT)
Can China Transition to a Consumption Economy? (Balding)
Why Disney Didn’t Buy Twitter (Vox)
Judge Orders Fauci, Others to Produce Records For Censorship Lawsuit (ET)
Former FBI Boss Warns Trump Search Warrant Might Be Tossed Out Entirely (JTN)
The US Army Special Operations Command Weaponizes Social Media (Helmer)
Silencing the Lambs — How Propaganda Works (John Pilger)
The Rise of the Key Opinion Leaders: End of Politics as we Know it? (Ugo Bardi)
Vaccines Are Taking An Average Of 5 Months To Kill People (Kirsch)

 

 

The European division of Russia’s oldest tour operator Intourist started offering winter tour packages to Russia for EU citizens. Package includes: unlimited hot showers, daily visits to Sandunovskaya Banya, and a heated room with electricity.

 

 

Permanent deindustrialization

She has to go

 

 

 

 

A metaphor for life itself.

 

 

 

 

“It will be no surprise when the market shares of European businesses, both in the continent and globally, will be taken by their American patrons.”

Western Elites’ “Sanctions Fever” Will See European People Freeze – Putin (ZH)

Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted the ongoing “sanctions fever” in the West in a wide-ranging speech before the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, in the country’s far east, where as we described earlier the Chinese delegation was the largest in attendance. Top Chinese legislator Li Zhanshu was in attendance when the Russian leader stressed, “no matter how much someone would like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do this.” Instead, he said the blowback from EU and US-led sanctions and attempts at decoupling from Russian fossil fuels is wrecking lives in the West. “Now we are seeing how production and jobs in Europe are closing one after another,” Putin said, stressing that this is happening as “Western elites, who would not, or even cannot acknowledge objective facts.”

His theme, like in a number of prior major speeches, was Western elites’ inability to recognize the inevitable shift from a unipolar to multipolar world (literally the name for this year’s forum is “On the Path to a Multipolar World.”), or away from “the world order that benefits only them, forcing everyone to live under the rules, which they invented and which they regularly break and constantly change depending on the situation,” he said according to a state media translation. That they “would not, or even cannot acknowledge objective facts” about global changes reveals their “growing detachment” from the common people they claim to represent. And yet now, European populations could “freeze” while being denied crucial Russian energy by leaders who shortsightedly want to lash out in emotional response to the Ukraine invasion:

“The [coronavirus] epidemic has been replaced by other global challenges that threaten the entire world,” Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok. “I’m referring to the West’s sanctions fever,” he said, criticizing “blatant and aggressive” attempts to “subjugate” countries that have not imposed economic restrictions on Russia. He dismissed as “nonsense” the widespread allegations that Russia using gas as an energy weapon, saying it’s as simple as releasing the necessary parts for the safe and proper functioning of pipelines operated by Gazprom. “Give us turbines and we’ll turn on Nord Stream tomorrow, but they won’t give us anything,” Putin told the audience, further addressing the latest global headlines of an EU-mulled price cap on Russian oil and gas, calling the proposal “another stupidity.”

He suggested the dilemma remains simple: “There are contractual obligations and if there are any political decisions that contradict them, then we simply won’t fulfill them. We won’t supply anything at all if it contradicts our economic interests, in this case. We won’t supply gas, oil, coal or heating oil.” Part of the aforementioned objective facts Western leaders refuse to acknowledge is that nations importing Russian energy “are in no position to dictate their will.” Putin said he’s still “confident we haven’t lost anything and won’t lose anything [after invading Ukraine]. Our main gain is strengthening sovereignty.” s

Putin Ukraine grain

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A former communist country teaches former capitalist countries lessons on markets.

EU Gas Price Cap Plan Is ‘Foolish’ – Putin (RT)

The proposal by the EU to place a price cap on Russian natural gas imports is a foolish, non-market-oriented plan that has no future, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. “Faced with what is happening now, EU politicians are thinking how to get away with it [paying market prices for gas], and to limit the price by administrative decisions. Another foolish notion, nonsense that will lead to further price increases in the global markets, including Europe,” Putin said during a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF). According to the president, it is impossible to solve anything to do with the economy and world trade with administrative decisions, which “only lead to distortions and higher prices.”

Putin stressed that the situation in the gas market is the result of sanctions and other actions taken by Brussels, including the switch to spot-market trading, while Russia has always preferred long-term contracts for gas exports. “We have always insisted that prices be formed on the basis of long-term contracts and be tied to such a market category as the price of oil and petroleum products… The EU forced us to link to spot prices. Now they’re trying to backtrack by setting price caps,” he said. According to Putin, accusing Russia of using energy as a weapon is “nonsense.” He stressed that Russia fulfills its contracts, while the current supply shortages are the result of decisions made by other countries – including Ukraine, which shut down one of its gas transit pipelines; Poland, which also shut down part of its section of the pipeline; and Canada, which delayed the maintenance of turbines for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

The president added that Russia is still willing to supply energy to those who need it, though Moscow no longer considers the EU to be its main export destination. “By receiving natural gas from Russia, the economies of the leading European countries have for decades enjoyed obvious competitive advantages,” Putin said, in reference to the lower gas costs paid under long-term contracts. “If they think that they don’t need these advantages, that does not bother us at all, because the need for energy resources in the world is huge.”

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“..a political tool, not a solution to the energy crisis..”

Czech Republic Weighs In On Russian Gas Price Cap (RT)

The Czech Republic will seek to take the issue of imposing a price cap on Russian gas off the agenda of an upcoming meeting of EU energy ministers, the nation’s minister of industry, Jozef Sikela, said on Wednesday. Speaking to the country’s Senate committee on the economy, Sikela indicated that he doesn’t want to discuss the issue at the meeting because it is “a political tool, not a solution to the energy crisis.” “It is not a constructive proposal, according to me. It is more another way to sanction Russia than an actual solution to the energy crisis in Europe,” he stressed.

On Friday, EU energy ministers are set to meet in Brussels to discuss how to rein in soaring energy prices. According to Sikela, among the issues he wants to raise is potentially separating electricity and gas prices. Doing so, he said, may lower electricity prices for the general public. The Czech minister said the recent shutdown of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline did not come as a surprise to him. “It’s part of the energy war we’re in… The decisive battle will be fought this winter,” he stated, adding that the country has done its best to prepare for it. “However, prices will go down only when Europe finds a way to break away from gas,” he reiterated.

On August 31, Gazprom completely shut down the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, later announcing that it would remain closed indefinitely due to an oil leak in the turbine. This malfunction can only be remedied in Canada, which has imposed sanctions against Moscow. The technical issues on the main gas supply route to the EU have resulted in skyrocketing gas prices, exacerbating the energy crunch on the continent. Sikela’s comments come on the heels of massive protests in Prague that erupted this past weekend. Demonstrators urged the government to resign over high energy prices and inflation, with demands also having been heard to drop anti-Russia sanctions.

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NATO won’t let go of its new-found reason to exist. Perpetual war it is. Ergo: Stoltenberg must go. And no, NATO pays no price: the people do.

NATO Will Pay A Price But We Must Stay The Course On Ukraine (Stoltenberg)

The war in Ukraine is entering a critical phase. Winter is coming and it will be hard. Hard for the Ukrainian people and armed forces who are fighting for their freedom, and hard for those of us who support them. Our unity and solidarity will be seriously tested, as families and businesses feel the crunch of soaring energy prices and costs of living caused by Russia’s brutal invasion. We face a difficult six months, with the threat of energy cuts, disruptions and perhaps even civil unrest. But we must stay the course and stand up to tyranny — for Ukraine’s sake and for ours. We do pay a price for our support to Ukraine. But the price we pay is counted in dollars, euros and pounds, while Ukrainians are paying with their lives. And all of us will pay a much higher price if Russia and other authoritarian regimes believe they can invade their neighbours and trample on international law with impunity.

If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, it will cease to exist as an independent nation. We have a moral responsibility to support this independent democracy at the heart of Europe. The price we pay in supporting Ukraine also benefits our own security. Vladimir Putin has clearly stated that he wants to wipe the country from the map and rewrite the European security order. Russia is temporarily occupying about 20 per cent of Ukraine — four times the size of Belgium, or half of the UK. Emboldened by any success, Russia could risk further aggression against other neighbours, and even an attack on Nato allies.

So we have a choice to make about the world we want to live in. Nato allies are committed to each nation’s right to choose its own destiny. That is why we are providing unprecedented financial, humanitarian and military assistance to help Ukraine prevail as a sovereign independent nation. Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, allied countries have provided billions of dollars of support for Ukraine’s security sector and institutions, and trained tens of thousands of troops, including special forces. This helped to make the Ukrainian armed forces stronger, better led and better prepared for Russia’s renewed invasion.

Since February, allies have rallied to Ukraine’s side with unprecedented military, humanitarian and financial support. In June, Nato leaders agreed a strengthened package of assistance, with fuel, food, medical supplies, military gear, secure communications and equipment to counter mines and drones. We are preparing more than a dozen new projects to help Ukraine face the winter. And we will continue to help the country strengthen its defence and security sector for the longer term, and transition from Soviet-era weapons to Nato-standard capabilities.

Hillary

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“They’re just the ones not rich enough, clever enough, or fast enough to elude the conscription gangs..”

“Counter-Offensive” – You Keep Using That Word (Schryver)

One thing few seem to appreciate is that what Ukraine has done over the past several days near Kherson and Kharkov does not even come close to what constitutes a “counter-offensive”. They’ve done nothing but launch highly localized severely under-powered probes which, sooner than later, become nothing but cramped kill zones for massed Russian artillery and air strikes. The leaders of the Armed Forces of Ukraine now command: effectively zero air power, sparse artillery with acute ammo shortages, limited UAV capability – and, to add insult to injury, Russian “battlefield hackers” are now proving able to commandeer many of their precious quadcopter surveillance drones, thereby blinding them completely in the midst of a battle.

Worst of all, the overwhelming majority of the soldiers are battle-naïve conscripts. Their tanks are few and far between; their troop carriers are obsolete and highly vulnerable; many if not most are compelled to march into battle on foot – and these are not Seal Team 6 physical specimens who do 20k runs on their day off. They’re just the ones not rich enough, clever enough, or fast enough to elude the conscription gangs. The AFU’s sole apparent advantage is that there are substantially more of them that can be brought to bear on a narrow front than there are Russians defending it. And yet all of these attacks so far have been tentative affairs with relatively small concentrations of force and firepower.

In the lexicon of battle, a “counter-offensive” is an entirely different animal. The German Ardennes counter-offensive in December 1944 consisted of: ~400,000 troops ~500 tanks ~700 mobile artillery ~1300 troop carriers, 4000+ artillery pieces, 1000+ aircraft THAT was a counter-offensive. The Tet Offensive in Vietnam consisted of 300,000+ troops attacking more or less simultaneously. What we are witnessing in Ukraine is categorically NOT a “counter-offensive”. Ukrainian operations over the past several days are, to the contrary, strongly indicative of the extremely limited mobility and firepower capacity of a severely depleted army whose combat-effectiveness is a fraction of the Russian and allied defenders whom they face on the field.

Oh, to be sure, their numerical superiority in troops can achieve a temporary advance within a narrow salient, and inflict some serious harm on isolated groups of Russian defenders in the process. That should come as no surprise to anyone – particularly the abundant Russian “doomers’ on Telegram who descend into inexplicable despair whenever the Ukrainians achieve any tactical success, however meagre and strategically meaningless. However, if you zoom out the map to reveal the entire front line of this war, you can readily see that we’re talking about a handful of teeny-weeny pimples protruding into the Russian-held side: territory in which the Russians have numerous highly mobile operational reserve units – infantry and artillery – that can be dispatched with relative alacrity to any quadrant of the battle map, utilizing the always significant advantage of interior lines of communication.

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“..Putin noted that the agency is under pressure from the US and other Western nations, and therefore cannot directly accuse Kiev of attacking the nuclear plant. ..”

Putin Comments On IAEA Report (RT)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can’t openly state that the attacks on the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) are being carried out by Kiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, the Russian leader praised the agency as being a responsible international organization with a very professional leader, and stated that he trusts the IAEA’s latest report on the ZNPP. However, Putin noted that the agency is under pressure from the US and other Western nations, and therefore cannot directly accuse Kiev of attacking the nuclear plant.

“But this is obvious. We control the station, our servicemen are stationed there. What, are we attacking ourselves?” Putin said, calling the notion completely absurd and adding that the area around the power plant is littered with the remains of HIMARS rockets and other Western munitions. Putin also addressed the IAEA’s request that Russia remove its military equipment from the premises of the ZNPP. He insisted that there is no such equipment at the plant and explained that the only forces stationed there are the Russian National Guard, which is protecting the perimeter and the premises of the station itself. “We can even call journalists there tomorrow, including European and American journalists, to see for themselves,” Putin said, noting that it is obvious the strikes on the power plant and the city of Energodar are coming from across the reservoir where Kiev’s forces are located.

Putin further explained that Russia’s military equipment, which is engaged in counter-battery combat, is not located anywhere near the station and has in fact been moved quite far beyond the perimeter of the facility. The Russian leader also expressed his bewilderment at Kiev’s attempts to create a nuclear catastrophe by attacking the power plant, stating that “the Ukrainian side is creating threats to undermine nuclear security.” “Why they do this, I honestly don’t really understand. Just to draw more attention to their situation and create an additional crisis?” He also revealed that Kiev’s operatives have attempted to carry out terrorist attacks on Russian territory, targeting high-voltage power lines connected to Russian nuclear power facilities.

“They purposefully work in this direction. What for? What is the point of creating a nuclear threat for the whole of Europe? I do not really understand, but they are doing this.” Putin’s comments come after the IAEA released a report on Tuesday regarding the state of the Russian-controlled Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. The agency demanded that all attacks on the facility “be stopped immediately”and called for a cessation of any military activity within or in the vicinity of the plant. The report did not identify those responsible for shelling the plant.

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“They [Europeans] even believe that it is the bad Russians that have closed the tap of oil and gas, while it is our own leaders in Europe that have stupidly imposed these sanctions..”

Charles Gave: Europeans Are “Mad With Anger And it Will Worsen” (SN)

Predicting that cost of living protests in the Czech Republic and Germany will spread around the continent, a prominent economist warns that European citizens are “mad with anger and it will worsen.” On Saturday, over 70,000 people took to the streets of Prague to demand an end to weapons supplies and neutrality regarding the conflict in Ukraine. Numerous demonstrations are also set to take place in major German cities over the next month as energy bills and inflation soar as a result of sanctions on Russia and over dependence on green energy. “The demonstrations in Prague and Germany are only the beginning. The price of gas and consequently of electricity are driving the European citizens mad with anger and it will worsen,” French economist Charles Gave told Sputnik.

Gave went on to assert that many Europeans aren’t buying the narrative that the situation, which culminated in the shut down of gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, is all Vladimir Putin’s fault. “The European governments and the European Commission speak of a ‘manipulation’ by Russia, but people perceive very well that the decision to stop importing Russian gas and oil was a European decision, taken by Brussels without even thinking of the impact it will have on the European economy,” he said. The economist blasted European leaders for their obsession with net zero and climate change hysteria, which has left the continent totally lacking in self-sufficiency.

“For the last 15 years, our European leaders have gone into a climate craze, promoting magic mirrors and windmills as the solution. It does not work. These solutions demand the same capacity in gas power plants,” Gave said. The economist firmly blamed globalist technocrat leaders for sacrificing the interests of Europeans on the altar of prolonging a war that will cause economic devastation. “They [Europeans] even believe that it is the bad Russians that have closed the tap of oil and gas, while it is our own leaders in Europe that have stupidly imposed these sanctions that are destroying the European economy. We, Europeans, are bringing stagflation onto our head. Before the people realize it, it will be too late. Macron, [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz, von der Leyen and the like will never admit they were wrong and present excuses,” he asserted.

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“Zakharova later mocked what she called the “mind-blowing stupidity” of Truss.”

Truss Becoming PM Signals ‘Crisis Of Democracy’ In UK – Moscow (RT)

The selection of Liz Truss as prime minister signals a “crisis of democracy” in the UK, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday. Asked by TASS whether Truss will be a disaster for Britain, Zakharova replied that if “shop owners are decorating the window in this way, then they believe this is the best item they have in stock today.” Sometimes, the spokeswoman claimed, countries with large populations and long-standing democratic traditions make you wonder if they really do not have anyone that can “adequately, professionally, and intelligently represent the various branches of government.” Perhaps the problem is in the crisis of British democracy, because this ‘result’ has nothing to do with the direct choice of the British people, since the system of indirect elections dominates the Anglo-Saxon duo.

Truss, formerly the foreign secretary in Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, officially became prime minister on Tuesday. The day before, she was revealed as the winner of the Tory leadership election. She received 81,326 voters, while her competitor, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, was backed by 60,399. A YouGov poll published on the same day showed that half of the people in the UK are ‘disappointed’ about Truss taking over as prime minister, with one-third ‘very disappointed.’ Even among members of the ruling party, 54% do not have much confidence in Truss’ ability to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, and around one-third are ‘disappointed’ that she will lead the government.

Truss’ visit to Russia in February – amid tensions in Ukraine in the run-up to the launch of Moscow’s military operation – was remembered by many for a gaffe made by the then-foreign secretary. Truss confused the Russian regions of Voronezh and Rostov with Ukrainian regions, and told her counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that London would never recognize Russia’s sovereignty over these areas. According to reports, she was then allegedly corrected by Deborah Bronnert, the UK ambassador. Lavrov described the meeting with the foreign secretary as talking “to a deaf person.” Zakharova later mocked what she called the “mind-blowing stupidity” of Truss.

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Ha ha! “It seems that in Britain, which is famous for its traditions, a new tradition has emerged..”

‘One Freak After Another’ – Ex-Russian President On UK Leaders (RT)

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said the new UK prime minister, Liz Truss, will continue the “tradition” started by her predecessor Boris Johnson by finishing her tenure “in disgrace.”Truss, formerly the foreign secretary in Johnson’s Conservative government, officially became prime minister on Tuesday. Taking to Telegram on Wednesday, Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, commented on the succession of governments in the UK: “Out goes the freak guy, in comes the freak lady.” He described the new PM as “an incompetent and mediocre thermonuclear Russophobe who has no elementary ideas about politics, history, geography, but wants to defeat Russia in everything.”


The former president added that Truss, the third female prime minister in British history, is trying to imitate the first, Margaret Thatcher, “without having even 5% of her abilities,” and hopes to address the energy crisis and rising food inflation, which are “the result of her own crazy sanctions exercises.” In her first statement at Downing Street, Truss claimed that the energy crisis was caused by “Putin’s war.” “She will quarrel with everyone, fail in everything, and leave in disgrace, like her predecessor, shaggy Boriska. It seems that in Britain, which is famous for its traditions, a new tradition has emerged,” Medvedev wrote.

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Still not. “Highly indebted—with a large percentage of their income being used to service debt—Chinese households simply do not have the financial flexibility to ramp up spending.”

Can China Transition to a Consumption Economy? (Balding)

The great economist Michael Pettis at Tsinghua University has noted for years the importance for the Chinese economy to shift its growth dependency away from investment and toward greater consumption. As China faces its weakest sustained economic period in modern history, it bears worth asking, can China shift toward a more consumer-focused economy? The Chinese economy is unique among major economies due to its low share of the household sector within the macroeconomy. Most economies typically have a household sector that accounts for 60-75 percent of activity. The United States, for example, hovers around 70 percent. In China, however, households account for only about 45 percent. This difference creates a wide variety of problems, from misunderstanding basic economic data to how to solve policy problems like shifting activity.

The first problem this creates is when analysts compare cross-country data on debt to GDP in various formats, such as household debt to GDP. Due to the starkly different shares of income between households in China and other countries, Chinese households have significantly less income to repay debts than households in other countries. In fact, if we adjust household debt levels for household income rather than GDP, Chinese households are some of the most indebted in the world, even more than the United States and most OECD countries paying a significantly higher share of their income toward debt servicing due to interest rate differentials.

This simple, often overlooked adjustment has significant implications for how we conceptualize a move away from the investment infrastructure-driven growth model toward a consumption-driven growth model. While the 45 percent household share gives the superficial appearance that Chinese consumption can increase significantly, the reality is very different. The Chinese consumer simply does not have the financial capability to increase consumption share. Real estate sales are down with nominal sales of retail goods and services flat, meaning that after accounting for surging inflation, Chinese consumers are purchasing less than they did a year ago. Highly indebted—with a large percentage of their income being used to service debt—Chinese households simply do not have the financial flexibility to ramp up spending.

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“I went home, contemplated it for a weekend, and thought, ‘I’m not looking at this as carefully as I need to look at it.’”

Why Disney Didn’t Buy Twitter (Vox)

Elon Musk wanted to buy Twitter. Then he decided he didn’t. Bob Iger can relate. In 2016, Iger, then the CEO of Disney, had convinced himself that his company should own Twitter because it would be an excellent way to distribute Disney’s content around the world. Then, shortly before the 2016 US presidential election, he bailed out. Iger has told parts of this story before, but it always seemed confusing to me: In his 2019 memoir, he said the boards of both Disney and Twitter had agreed to the deal, but then he had second thoughts because of the “nastiness” rampant at Twitter. Really? Wasn’t the nastiness readily apparent to anyone who’d ever used the service for a second, let alone to someone who was ready to spend billions on it?

But today we got a longer version of the story, relayed by Iger at the Code Conference, in response to a question from The Verge’s Alex Heath. In this one, Iger says that Twitter would have been a “phenomenal” distribution platform for Disney but that it would have come with too many headaches. Among them: bots. (Sound familiar?) Here’s Iger, in his own words: “We were intent on going into the streaming business. We needed a technology solution. We have all this great IP. We weren’t a technology company. How do we get that IP to consumers around the world? … And we were kicking tires left and right. We thought about developing ourselves. Five years, $500 million. It wasn’t the money, it was the time, because the world was changing fast. And at the same time, we heard that Twitter was contemplating a sale.

“We enter the process immediately, looking at Twitter as the solution: a global distribution platform. It was viewed as sort of a social network. We were viewing it as something completely different. We could put news, sports, entertainment, [and] reach the world. And frankly, it would have been a phenomenal solution, distribution-wise. “Then, after we sold the whole concept to the Disney board and the Twitter board, and we’re really ready to execute — the negotiation was just about done — I went home, contemplated it for a weekend, and thought, ‘I’m not looking at this as carefully as I need to look at it.’ Yes, it’s a great solution from a distribution perspective. But it would come with so many other challenges and complexities that as a manager of a great global brand, I was not prepared to take on a major distraction and having to manage circumstances that weren’t even close to anything that we had faced before.

“Interestingly enough, because I read the news these days, we did look very carefully at all of the Twitter users — I guess they’re called users? — and we at that point estimated with some of Twitter’s help that a substantial portion — not a majority — were not real. “I don’t remember the number but we discounted the value heavily. But that was built into our economics. Actually, the deal that we had was pretty cheap. “Then you have to look, of course, at all the hate speech and potential to do as much harm as good. We’re in the business of manufacturing fun at Disney — of doing nothing but good, even though there are others today that criticize Disney for the opposite, which is wrong. This was just something that we were not ready to take on and I was not ready to take on as the CEO of a company and I thought it would have been irresponsible.”

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“Doughty ordered Fauci and Jean-Pierre to comply within 21 days.”

Judge Orders Fauci, Others to Produce Records For Censorship Lawsuit (ET)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and other top Biden administration officials who were resisting efforts to obtain their communications with Big Tech companies must hand over the records, a federal judge ruled on Sept. 6. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, ordered the government to quickly produce documents after it was sued by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri over alleged collusion with Big Tech firms such as Facebook. The initial tranche of discovery, released on Aug. 31, revealed that more than 50 government officials across a dozen agencies were involved in applying pressure to social media companies to censor users.

But some of the officials refused to provide any answers or answer all questions posed by the plaintiffs. Among them: Fauci, who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. The government claimed that Fauci shouldn’t be required to answer all questions or provide records in his capacity as NIAID director or in his capacity as Biden’s chief medical adviser. It also attempted to withhold records and responses from Jean-Pierre. In the new ruling on Sept. 6 breaking the stalemate, Doughty said both Fauci and Jean-Pierre needed to comply with the interrogatories and record requests.

“First, the requested information is obviously very relevant to Plaintiffs’ claims. Dr. Fauci’s communications would be relevant to Plaintiffs’ allegations in reference to alleged suppression of speech relating to the lab-leak theory of COVID-19’s origin, and to alleged suppression of speech about the efficiency of masks and COVID-19 lockdowns. Jean-Pierre’s communications as White House Press Secretary could be relevant to all of Plaintiffs’ examples,” Doughty said, referring to examples such as the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the 2020 presidential election and censorship of claims COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory. Doughty ordered Fauci and Jean-Pierre to comply within 21 days.

Fauci, additionally, must provide complete answers to questions regarding his role as NIAID director. “We know from the previous round of discovery that efforts to censor the speech of those who disagree with the government on covid policy have come from the top. Americans deserve to know Anthony Fauci’s participation in this enterprise, especially since he has publicly demanded that specific individuals, including two of our clients, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, be censored on social media,” Jenin Younes, litigation counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance and a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “It is time for Dr. Fauci to answer for his flagrant disregard for Americans’ constitutional rights and civil liberties.”

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A pattern of judges fighting back?!

Former FBI Boss Warns Trump Search Warrant Might Be Tossed Out Entirely (JTN)

The FBI warrant to search former President Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago may be thrown out entirely in court, according to former FBI boss Kevin Brock. News broke over Labor Day weekend that Trump had been granted a legal win when a federal judge ordered a special master to review the documents seized from Trump’s home. “I think the government would be concerned as well, because there’s concern that the the search warrant itself was overly broad from the get-go,” Kevin Brock said on “Just the News, Not Noise” Tuesday evening. “Because the scope that they were looking for was every single document generated during the Trump administration — that just seems too inexcusably overbroad.

Now there’s indications that they (the FBI) collected much more than they were authorized to collect.” Brock said that he believes that the search warrant could be suppressed entirely. “If I’m a prosecutor, I am concerned going forward that this search warrant could be suppressed and for those types of reasons, and they would lose access to anything that was collected throughout the search as a fruit of the poisonous tree,” Brock continued. “So I think that’s got to be in the back of their minds.” Brock also criticized how the FBI raided Trump’s home and how usually when the FBI does investigations, they try to take the least intrusive route possible at first.


“You go into a home, you set up a system where those things that you seize are assiduously documented,” said Brock, explaining how FBI searches typically work. “They’re given a specific tracking number, a barcode and each piece is gone through meticulously before you leave the premises to make sure that it’s within the scope of the document.” “And that’s only part one,” he continued. “Part two is the warrant is not to be overly broad as to what parts of the residence can be searched. You can only search those things where it’s reasonably expected you would find the type of evidence that you are looking for.”

Webb – Peter Strzok

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Well, they try: “..several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads..” “The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”

The US Army Special Operations Command Weaponizes Social Media (Helmer)

The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds. The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory. The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.

“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.” “Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”

The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image). McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade. Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.

It is unclear who paid for the new investigation which was co-authored by Graphika. This is a New York consultancy without an office address, staffed by US, French and British intelligence analysts, and financed in part by the US Senate Intelligence Committee and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Graphika advertises its Russia war-making credentials in the mainstream and IT media, as well as on its Twitter account. Notwithstanding, the new report explicitly targets news faking and other information warfare tactics by the US Army forces aimed primarily at audiences in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Afghanistan.

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“..to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival, a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

Silencing the Lambs — How Propaganda Works (John Pilger)

At its summit in Madrid in June, NATO, which is controlled by the United States, adopted a strategy document that militarises the European continent, and escalates the prospect of war with Russia and China. It proposes “multi domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer-competitor.” In other words, nuclear war. It says: “NATO’s enlargement has been an historic success.” I read that in disbelief. The news from the war in Ukraine is mostly not news, but a one-sided litany of jingoism, distortion, omission. I have reported a number of wars and have never known such blanket propaganda.

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine as a response to almost eight years of killing and criminal destruction in the Russian-speaking region of Donbass on their border. In 2014, the United States had sponsored a coup in Kiev that got rid of Ukraine’s democratically elected, Russian-friendly president and installed a successor whom the Americans made clear was their man. In recent years, American “defender” missiles have been installed in eastern Europe, Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, almost certainly aimed at Russia, accompanied by false assurances all the way back to James Baker’s “promise” to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in February 1990 that NATO would never expand beyond Germany.

Ukraine is the frontline. NATO has effectively reached the very borderland through which Hitler’s army stormed in 1941, leaving more than 23 million dead in the Soviet Union. Last December, Russia proposed a far-reaching security plan for Europe. This was dismissed, derided or suppressed in the Western media. Who read its step-by-step proposals? On Feb. 24, President Volodymyr Zelensky threatened to develop nuclear weapons unless America armed and protected Ukraine. On the same day, Russia invaded — an unprovoked act of congenital infamy, according to the Western media. The history, the lies, the peace proposals, the solemn agreements on Donbass at Minsk counted for nothing.

On April 25, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin flew into Kiev and confirmed that America’s aim was to destroy the Russian Federation — the word he used was “weaken.” America had got the war it wanted, waged by an American bankrolled and armed proxy and expendable pawn. Almost none of this was explained to Western audiences. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is wanton and inexcusable. It is a crime to invade a sovereign country. There are no “buts” — except one. When did the present war in Ukraine begin and who started it? According to the United Nations, between 2014 and this year, some 14,000 people have been killed in the Kiev regime’s civil war on the Donbass. Many of the attacks were carried out by neo-Nazis.

In the same month, dozens of Russian-speaking people were burned alive or suffocated in a trade union building in Odessa besieged by fascist thugs, the followers of the Nazi collaborator and anti-Semitic fanatic Stepan Bandera. The New York Times called the thugs “nationalists.” “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment,” said Andreiy Biletsky, founder of the Azov Battaltion, “is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival, a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

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“I have the impression that Zelensky took Salvini as a model; the same beard, the same style of dressing in sweatshirts, the same populist rhetoric. Not the Nutella, though.”

The Rise of the Key Opinion Leaders: End of Politics as we Know it? (Ugo Bardi)

In ancient Japan, a “kagemusha” (shadow warrior) was an impersonator who took the aspect and the role of the actual leader. It was simply a decoy to be used in battle but, in our times, the problem for leaders is not so much to avoid bullets but to avoid the much more powerful propaganda techniques that may destroy them. The result is the rise of a new kind of kagemusha, the KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). The KOLs do not impersonate the true leaders, but express their ideas and plans in public, taking the blame for the failures and the mistakes that may result. The real leaders, instead, remain in the shadows. The KOLs operate in many fields, not just in politics. For instance, they are popular in science. But, their presence in politics is becoming more and more evident.

[..] The KOLs may now be spilling into politics. The first actor to become a high-rank politician was Ronald Reagan, but he was far from being a “puppet president”, although he profited from his experience as an actor to manage his public image. In recent times, though, we are seeing actors becoming frontmen for figures who remain backstage. A good example is Vladimir Zelensky, president of Ukraine. Independently of what you think of what’s happening in Ukraine, Zelensky is clearly a modern kagemusha: an actor playing the role of the president. The way he dresses, the short beard, the posture, all are part of a character that could have starred in a movie, except that the war in Ukraine is all too real. Because of the dangers involved in the current situation, it is understandable that the Ukrainian powers that be much prefer a kagemusha as president rather than to appear themselves on stage.

So far, Zelensky remains a relatively isolated case. But it is possible that the KOL fashion will spread to other countries and other leaders. As an example, I can cite Mr. Matteo Salvini in Italy. As the leader of the League, he became deputy prime minister in 2018, and he is still a member of parliament. Salvini is popularly known in Italy as “Captain Nutella,” owing to his penchant to present a public image of himself while eating junk food. He was never an actor, but he started his career as a participant in a TV game show, and he does not have much more than that in his professional CV (**). Incidentally, I have the impression that Zelensky took Salvini as a model; the same beard, the same style of dressing in sweatshirts, the same populist rhetoric. Not the Nutella, though.

I would not be surprised if Salvini, or some other equally shallow kagemusha-style character, will soon take the job of the prime minister of Italy. This winter we are going to see a serious crisis in which many Italians will find themselves without heating at home and with no fuel, no electric power, and no jobs. At that point, the Nutella will hit the fan, as they say. I don’t envy the person who will find him or herself in the role of the prime minister at that moment. The job could become as dangerous in Italy as it is in Ukraine now and, as you know, in Italy we already had a case of a prime minister hanged upside-down. Surely, during the coming hard times, the really powerful people will prefer to take a low-profile role.

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Steve has tons of graphs. Of course.

Vaccines Are Taking An Average Of 5 Months To Kill People (Kirsch)

The key point is this: The UK data shows statistical proof of causality of deaths (p<.001): the vaccine doses track with the excess deaths 23 weeks later. Dose dependency is key to showing causality. If no one can explain this, the precautionary principle of medicine requires any ethical society to halt the vaccines now. Executive Summary: Many people assumed the vaccine kills you quickly (in the first two weeks) because that’s when people notice the association and report it to VAERS. This is still true; it does kill some people quickly: half of the deaths reported in VAERS are in the first few weeks. But the key words are “reported in VAERS.” It turns out that if we don’t have that restriction but are just wondering when most of the deaths after COVID vaccination happen, the answer is different.

Thanks to a helper who works at HHS, we can now clearly see that most of the deaths from the vaccine are happening an average of 5 months from the last dose. That is for the second dose; it may be getting shorter the more shots you get but there are arguments both ways (since there can be survivor bias). Using data from the UK, we can see more clearly that the delay time is around 23 weeks (so a bit more than 5 weeks). We’ll dive into that shortly. This delay explains why the life insurance companies got off-the-charts all-cause mortality peaks for people under 60 in Q3 and Q4 rather than right after the shots rolled out.

The five month delay is also consistent with death reports where people are developing new aggressive cancers that are killing them over a 4 to 6 month period. The 5 month death delay was also confirmed using only European data. That analysis was posted Aug 11, but I learned about it after I wrote this post. So when you hear of a death from stroke, cardiac arrest, heart attack, cancer, and suicide that is happening around 5 months after vaccination, it could very well be a vaccine-related death.

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Malone

 

 

 

 

 

 

Webb test kits

 

 

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May 052022
 


René Magritte Personal values 1952

 

Fierce Fighting Under Way In Azovstal Plant, Says Azov Commander (G.)
Brazil’s Ex-president Lula Claims Zelenskiy Equally To Blame For War (G.)
Return of the King (Streeck)
The “Disinformation Board” Is Even More Pernicious Than It Seems (Greenwald)
Twitter Launches New Purge Of Covid Contrarians (JTN)
Soros, Clinton and Obama Staffers, EU Governments Behind Anti-Musk Campaign (DM)
Elon Musk Turns To Old Financial Backers For $44b Twitter Buyout (NYP)
John Durham Scores Two Major Court Wins Ahead Of Clinton Lawyer’s Trial (JTN)
FBI Pursued a Dossier Rumor the Press Shot Down as ‘Bullshit’ (Sperry)
The Government Plays God (Whitehead)
The Great Currency Reset and Why Europe is Trapped (Luongo)
Disney’s Market Freefall (PJM)

 

 

 

 

Ze 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Azovstal

 

 

 

 

Well, well. The Guardian is now the bullhorn for the nazis. But Russia has denied invading the plant.

Also funny: the evacuation of citizens from the plant is being presented as another heroic act by Zelensky. But they could have left at any moment over the past 2 months. Why didn’t they? Often because the same nazis used them as human shields.

Fierce Fighting Under Way In Azovstal Plant, Says Azov Commander (G.)

Fierce fighting has continued inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks, the commander of Ukrainian forces in the plant said, as more civilians fled the city on evacuation buses following weeks of brutal bombardment that have reduced much of it to rubble. Ukrainian forces were fighting “difficult bloody battles” against Russian troops for a second day, Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov regiment, said in a brief video released on Telegram late on Wednesday. “I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the pressure of the enemy … the situation is extremely difficult,” commander Denis Prokopenko said.

Earlier on Wednesday, David Arakhamia, the head of Ukraine’s ruling party in parliament, told RFE/RL that Russian forces had entered the plant, but he said that the country’s government remained in contact with the Ukrainian troops staging a last stand. The Kremlin’s official spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, denied reports that Moscow’s forces were trying to storm the plant. “The order was publicly given by [Vladimir Putin] to cancel the storming,” Peskov said. “There is no storming.” Russia said its forces would cease firing at the factory on Thursday morning, and open a three-day humanitarian corridor for any civilians.


“The Russian armed forces will from 8am to 6pm (Moscow time, 0500 GMT to 1500 GMT) on May 5, 6 and 7 open a humanitarian corridor from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant to evacuate civilians,” the defence ministry said. “During this period, the Russian armed forces and formations of the Donetsk People’s Republic will unilaterally cease any hostilities.”

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“The United States has a lot of political clout. And Biden could have avoided war, not incited it,” he said. “Biden could have taken a plane to Moscow to talk to Putin. This is the kind of attitude you expect from a leader.”

Brazil’s Ex-president Lula Claims Zelenskiy Equally To Blame For War (G.)

Brazilian presidential frontrunner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has said the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, bear equal responsibility for the war in Ukraine, putting the leftist icon at odds with western powers. In an interview with Time magazine published on Wednesday, the former president said it was irresponsible for western leaders to celebrate Zelenskiy because they are encouraging war instead of focusing on closed-door negotiations to stop the fighting. “I see the president of Ukraine, speaking on television, being applauded, getting a standing ovation by all the [European] parliamentarians,” Lula told the magazine. “This guy [Zelenskiy] is as responsible as Putin for the war,” he added.

Lula, who is on Time’s cover this week, is frontrunner for the October elections when he hopes to deny far-right President Jair Bolsonaro re-election and return to office after the annulment last year of corruption convictions that had put him in jail. The remarks will probably raise eyebrows in the US and Europe, which are supplying military support to Ukraine and have hit Russia with punishing sanctions over an invasion widely seen in the west as an act of unprovoked Russian aggression. Lula, 76, said Zelenskiy should have yielded to Russian opposition to Ukraine’s moves to join Nato and held negotiations with Putin to avoid a conflict.


Refering to Zelenskiy’s rise to fame as an actor and comedian, he added: “We should be having a serious conversation. OK, you were a nice comedian. But let us not make war for you to show up on TV.” The veteran leftist said Biden and European Union leaders failed to do enough to negotiate with Russia in the run-up to its invasion of Ukraine in February. “The United States has a lot of political clout. And Biden could have avoided war, not incited it,” he said. “Biden could have taken a plane to Moscow to talk to Putin. This is the kind of attitude you expect from a leader.”

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King NATO

Return of the King (Streeck)

When kings return, they initiate a purge, to rectify the anomalies that have accumulated during their absence. Old bills are presented anew and collected, lack of loyalty revealed during the King’s absence is punished, disobedient ideas and improper memories are extirpated, and the nooks and crannies of the body politic are cleansed of the political deviants that have in the meantime populated them. Symbolic action of the McCarthy type is helpful as it spreads fear among potential dissenters. Throughout the West today, players of piano or tennis or relativity theory who happen to be from Russia and want to continue playing whatever they play are pressed to make public statements that would make their lives and those of their families back home difficult at best.

Investigative journalists discover an abyss of philanthropic donations by Russian oligarchs to music and other festivals, donations that have been welcome in the past but are now found to subvert artistic freedom, unlike of course the philanthropic donations of their Western fellow-oligarchs. Etc. Against the background of proliferating loyalty oaths, public discourse is reduced to spreading the King’s truth, and nothing but. Putin verstehen – trying to find out about motives and reasons, searching for a clue as to how one might, perhaps, negotiate an end to the bloodshed – is equated with Putin verzeihen, or forgiving; it ‘relativizes’, as the Germans put it, the atrocities of the Russian army by trying to end them with other than military means.


According to newly received wisdom, there is only one way of dealing with a madman; thinking about other ways advances his interests and therefore amounts to treason. (I remember teachers in the 1950s who let it be known to the young generation that ‘the only language the Russian understands is the language of the fist’.) Memory management is central: never mention the Minsk Accords (2014 and 2015) between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, don’t ask what became of them and why, never mind the platform of negotiated conflict settlement on which Zelensky was elected in 2019 by almost three quarters of Ukrainian voters, and forget the American response by megaphone diplomacy to Russian proposals as late as 2022 for a joint European security system. Above all, never bring up the various American ‘special operations’ of the recent past, like for example in Iraq, and in Fallujah inside Iraq (800 civilian casualties alone in a few days); doing so commits the crime of ‘whataboutism’, which in view of ‘the pictures from Bucha and Mariupol’ is morally out of bounds.

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“..the term “disinformation expert” is designed to disguise ideological views on behalf of state and corporate power centers as Official Truth.”

The “Disinformation Board” Is Even More Pernicious Than It Seems (Greenwald)

The most egregious and blatant official disinformation campaign in the U.S. took place three weeks before the 2020 presidential election. That was when dozens of former intelligence officials purported to believe that authentic emails regarding Joe Biden’s activities in China and Ukraine, reported by The New York Post, were “Russian disinformation.” That quasi-official proclamation enabled liberal corporate media outlets to uncritically mock and then ignore those emails as “Russian disinformation,” and pressured Big Tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to censor the reporting at exactly the time Americans were preparing to decide who would be the next U.S. president.

The letter from these former intelligence officials was orchestrated by trained career liars — disinformation agents — such as former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Yet that letter was nonetheless crucial to discredit and ultimately suppress the New York Post’s incriminating reporting on Biden. It provided a quasi-official imprimatur — something that could be depicted as an authoritative decree — that these authentic emails were, in fact, fraudulent. After all, if all of these noble and heroic intelligence operatives who spent their lives studying Russian disinformation were insisting that the Biden emails had all of the “hallmarks” of Kremlin treachery, who possessed the credibility to dispute their expert assessment?


This same strategic motive — to vest accusations of “disinformation” with the veneer of expertise — is what has fostered a new, very well-financed industry heralding itself as composed of “anti-disinformation” scholars. Knowing that Americans are inculcated from childhood to believe that censorship is nefarious — that it is the hallmark of tyranny — those who wish to censor need to find some ennobling rationale to justify it and disguise what it is. They have thus created a litany of neutral-sounding groups with benign names — The Atlantic Council, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, various “fact-checking” outfits controlled by corporate media outlets — that claim to employ “anti-disinformation experts” to identify and combat fake news. Just as media corporations re-branded their partisan pundits as “fact-checkers” — to masquerade their opinions as elevated, apolitical authoritative, decrees of expertise — the term “disinformation expert” is designed to disguise ideological views on behalf of state and corporate power centers as Official Truth.

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Elon! Help!

Twitter Launches New Purge Of Covid Contrarians (JTN)

Several Twitter users known for questioning U.S. government COVID-19 messaging have found themselves locked out of their accounts or suspended, even as the social media company reckons with a takeover by pro-free-speech billionaire Elon Musk and advancing litigation by journalist Alex Berenson. It’s not clear whether the timing is coincidental or the last gasp of an old guard targeting so-called Team Reality before a new owner or courts force it to change direction. Twitter has ignored the vast majority of Just the News requests to explain how various sanctioned users violated its terms. The notices from Twitter, often posted by allies of the silenced users, cite violation of its policy against sharing “misleading and potentially harmful information” about COVID.

A federal judge greenlit breach-of-contract claims in Berenson’s lawsuit challenging his permanent suspension, which followed a tweet that said COVID vaccines neither stop infection nor transmission, both of which the CDC has acknowledged for several months. The former New York Times reporter said in February Twitter had quietly removed the “misleading” label from the tweet, which only he can see. The company didn’t respond to Just the News queries at the time. Berenson plausibly alleged Twitter “fail[ed] to abide by its own five-strike policy and its specific commitments” made by a PR executive directly to Berenson before his first strike, U.S. District Judge William Alsup wrote April 29.


The same day Twitter permanently booted Daniel Kotzin, one of three sanctioned users jointly suing federal officials for coercing Twitter to censor purported COVID misinformation. It flagged his tweet citing “known potential side effects” of COVID vaccines, including myocarditis, “blood clots, and strokes.”

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‘Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will further toxify our information ecosystem and be a direct threat to public safety, especially among those already most vulnerable and marginalized..’

Soros, Clinton and Obama Staffers, EU Governments Behind Anti-Musk Campaign (DM)

Some of the most high-profile liberal figures have joined together to encourage advertisers to boycott Twitter if Elon Musk brings in his promised policy of unfettered ‘free speech.’ Twenty six NGOs and advocacy groups signed a letter expressing concern about the world’s richest man’s plan. Musk himself responded to the letter asking who funded them: the answer being an assortment of ‘dark money groups’ like George Soros’s Open Society Foundation; NGOs founded by former Clinton and Obama administration staffers; wealthy Democrat donors and their family foundations; labor unions; and the governments of European nations.

‘Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will further toxify our information ecosystem and be a direct threat to public safety, especially among those already most vulnerable and marginalized,’ they wrote. They warned that advertising on Twitter would see their company ‘risks association with a platform amplifying hate, extremism, health misinformation, and conspiracy theorists.’ The authors continued: ‘Under Musk’s management, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of misinformation, with your brand attached, polluting our information ecosystem in a time where trust in institutions and news media is already at an all-time low.


‘Your ad dollars can either fund Musk’s vanity project or hold him to account. We call on you to demand Musk uphold these basic standards of community trust and safety, and to pull your advertising spending from Twitter if they are not.’ Musk, in response to the letter, tweeted: ‘Who funds these organizations that want to control your access to information? Let’s investigate …’ Piqued by the critique, he added: ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant.’ The letter signed by the 26 groups was sent on headed paper bearing the logos of Accountable Tech, Media Matters for America, and Ultraviolet.

Anti-Elon campaign

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They’re afraid of cancel culture.

Elon Musk Turns To Old Financial Backers For $44b Twitter Buyout (NYP)

Elon Musk is turning to an old, reliable group of financial backers to fund his $44 billion buyout of Twitter — even as talks to team up with a deep-pocketed private equity firm have stalled, The Post has learned. Sources close to the situation say Musk may be closing in on raising $10 billion in cash from equity co-investors — mostly venture capital firms who have backed his other companies including Space X. One source close to the talks declined to name the firms, but Musk’s past investors have included Sequoia Capital, D1 Capital Partners and Valor Equity Partners. Musk has also turned to so-called family offices that control large pools of private money to back his Twitter bid. “He has more than $10 billion of committed equity,” one source close to the situation told The Post.

Musk is plowing ahead even as top executives at Thoma Bravo — a tech-focused buyout firm whose investments include nuts-and-bolts software firms like McAfee and Barracuda — are divided over partnering with Musk in the deal, with some fearing the bet would be too big and too risky, three sources close to the situation said. “Orlando Bravo was pushing for it,” one source close to the talks said, referring to the firm’s co-founder, a 52-year-old, Puerto Rican-born billionaire with a formidable track record among tech investors. “He spent hours talking to Elon.” On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Musk has been telling investors he aims to take the company public again within three years of the buyout.


As previously reported by The Post, Thoma Bravo sees an opportunity to slash costs at Twitter and was hoping to land a high-profile deal. Nevertheless, other top partners at Thoma Bravo fret that jumping into bed with Musk — who has posted a slew of sometimes bizarre tweets about his plans for Twitter, including that he plans to turn its San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter — could be a disaster. “My sense is Orlando Bravo wanted to do it but one or two of his top partners don’t want to,” a second source said. Other major buyout firms including Stephen Schwarzman’s Blackstone and billionaire Robert F. Smith’s Vista Equity Partners also have turned Musk down altogether, a source said. Apollo Global Management, meanwhile, is only interested in providing debt financing, according to sources close to the talks.

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No go for attorney-client privilege.

John Durham Scores Two Major Court Wins Ahead Of Clinton Lawyer’s Trial (JTN)

Special Counsel John Durham scored two major wins on Wednesday ahead of the criminal trial for ex-Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, as the judge ordered a key witness to testify and agreed to review memos the defense is trying to conceal with a claim of attorney-client privilege. During a hearing, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper expressed skepticism that memos detailing the Fusion GPS firm’s opposition research on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia – some of which were shared with the news media and the FBI — were covered by attorney-client privilege and agreed to Durham’s request to review 38 of the documents that prosecutors want to introduce at trial later this month.

Cooper said he wasn’t convinced the Clinton campaign, Sussmann and his law firm and Fusion GPS should have blanket privilege over the documents, at one point citing a memo of Fusion’s contacts with a reporter as evidence of “assisting a media strategy” rather than legal advice. Cooper also unsealed his order to compel that granted Fusion GPS computer researcher Laura Seago limited immunity and ordered her to testify at trial as Durham sought. Seago’s lawyer informed prosecutors she planned to “invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination absent a court order of immunity compelling her to testify at trial,” according to the unsealed records.


Cooper signed an order mandating Seago “give testimony or provide other information which she refuses to give or to provide on the basis of her privilege against self-incrimination as to all matters about which she might be interrogated at trial and any proceedings ancillary thereto.” The judge also ruled that “no testimony or other information compelled under this Order (or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information) may be used against Laura Seago in any criminal case, except a prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with this Order.” Durham had argued that Seago’s testimony was “necessary to the public interest.” It did not specify what prosecutors believed her testimony would focus on.

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“..some journalists, as keen as they were to report dirt on Trump, were nevertheless more cautious than FBI investigators about embracing hearsay information..”

FBI Pursued a Dossier Rumor the Press Shot Down as ‘Bullshit’ (Sperry)

The FBI decision to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser hinged on an unsubstantiated rumor from a Clinton campaign-paid dossier that the Washington Post’s Moscow sources had quickly shot down as “bullshit” and “impossible,” according to emails disclosed last week to a D.C. court hearing the criminal case of a Clinton lawyer accused of lying to the FBI. Though the FBI presumably had access to better sources than the newspaper, agents did little to verify the rumor that Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page had secretly met with sanctioned Kremlin officials in Moscow. Instead, the bureau pounced on the dossier report the day it received it, immediately plugging the rumor into an application under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to wiretap Page as a suspected Russian agent.

The allegation, peddled to both the press and FBI in the summer of 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to dig up dirt on Trump during the presidential race, proved to be the linchpin in winning approval for the 2016 warrant, which was renewed three times in 2017 – even though the FBI learned there were serious holes in the story and had failed to independently corroborate it. The revelations of early media skepticism about the Trump-Russia narrative before journalists embraced it are included in a 62-page batch of emails between Fusion and prominent Beltway reporters released by Special Counsel John Durham, who is scouring the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for evidence of abuse and criminal wrongdoing.


The documents suggest that some journalists, as keen as they were to report dirt on Trump, were nevertheless more cautious than FBI investigators about embracing hearsay information served up by Clinton agents. (The FBI declined comment.) The new material also offers a look at the lengths to which those working on Clinton’s behalf went in order to seed the government with unverified rumors about Trump and Russia that amounted to a disinformation campaign. Among those targeted were powerful Democratic members of Congress, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who proved to be a willing collaborator.

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This is the fundamental point: the rights of the unborn child. That video is scary.

The Government Plays God (Whitehead)

“Abortion on demand is the ultimate State tyranny; the State simply declares that certain classes of human beings are not persons, and therefore not entitled to the protection of the law. The State protects the ‘right’ of some people to kill others, just as the courts protected the ‘property rights’ of slave masters in their slaves.”
– Ron Paul

The government wants to play god. It wants the power to decide who lives or dies and whose rights are worthy of protection. Delve beneath the rhetoric and spin that have turned abortion into a politicized, polarized and propagandized frontline in the culture wars, and you will find a greater menace at work. Abortion may be front and center in the power struggle between the Left and the Right over who has the right to decide—the government or the individual—when it comes to bodily autonomy, the right to privacy, sexual freedom, the rights of the unborn, and property interests in one’s body, but there’s so much more going on here.

The Left would suggest that unborn babies do not have constitutional rights and the only right that matters is a woman’s right to privacy in choosing whether or not to abort a pregnancy. The Right, while fixated on saving the lives of unborn babies, seems less concerned about what happens to those lives from birth to death. What few seem willing to address is that in the 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, the government has come to believe that it not only has the power to determine who is deserving of constitutional rights in the eyes of the law but it also has the authority to deny those rights to an American citizen.

This is how the abortion debate—a politicized tug-of-war over when an unborn child is considered a human being with rights—plays into the police state’s hands by laying the groundwork for discussions about who else may or may not be deserving of rights. Even if (as a leaked draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests) the Supreme Court overturns its earlier rulings recognizing abortion as a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment, that will not resolve the larger problem that plagues us today: namely, that all along the spectrum of life—from the unborn child to the aged—the government continues to play fast and loose with the lives of the citizenry.

40 weeks

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“..a complete embargo of all Russian oil..”

The Great Currency Reset and Why Europe is Trapped (Luongo)

There’s a lot of news flying around about the changes happening in global currency trading. From “Gas for Rubles” to “What the Hell is Going on With the Yen?” there are a lot of questions and very few answers as to what it all means and whose on which side of the divide. The Fed just hiked 50 basis points for the first time since 2000 and will be running off its balance sheet forcing the Treasury to stop issuing new debt at stupid rates. The European Union unveiled a sixth sanctions package against Russia which calls for a complete embargo of all Russian oil. Further to this the EU is now aping what the Trump Administration tried to do to Iran in 2018, sanctioning all services, including insurance, to all shippers of oil from doing any business with Russia and sanctioned Russian banks.

These sanctions, effectively politicizing every aspect of international business and trade, are ultimately nothing more than short-term annoyances for Russia or anyone else. It betrays a mindset that cares nothing for the downstream effects of these actions and, if anything, betray the desperation felt in Brussels today about its position in the global market. I’ve spilled hundreds of column inches trying to explain to the world that it is the EU’s totalitarian mindset based on their psychological imbalance and ideological need to be seen as the champions of humanity, that drives all of their decisions. The US is not so driven. We’re far easier to understand. We like power but only so long as it nets us a profit.


This sanctions package is prima facie evidence of their insanity and what happens when, like a cornered animal, they are faced with an existential choice. The EU is built on a foundation of insulating its leadership from the vicissitudes of public opinion. Populism is a four-letter word in the Eurocrat’s vocabulary. The consequences of this policy which was conceived of by the fart-sniffing buffoons at the World Economic Forum, The Davos Crowd, are irrelevant to them in the short-term. Yes, Europeans will suffer tremendously high inflation because, if successful at taking a majority of Russian oil off the global markets, will only ensure that prices go ballistic. Do you think the same people who have a stated depopulation agenda who mandated a 12% effective Pfizer vaccine and wasn’t tested at all on pregnant women lest they be barred from partaking of European society care one whit about the people they govern?

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Woke.

Disney’s Market Freefall (PJM)

There’s a saying, and I don’t know who coined it, but it goes something like, “Go woke; go broke.” I do know that former president Donald Trump said that “everything woke turns to s**t.” One company that’s learning this lesson the hard way — even though nobody there will admit it publicly — is Disney. David Ng at Breitbart is reporting that The Walt Disney Company has lost a whopping $63 billion in market capitalization over the past two months. “Shares of Disney have plummeted 23.5 percent since the start of March, falling from $145.70,” Ng writes. “Market cap is down $62.6 billion, from $265.3 to $202.7 billion.” (For the uninitiated, Investopedia defines market capitalization as “the total dollar market value of a company’s outstanding shares of stock. Commonly referred to as ‘market cap,’ it’s calculated by multiplying the total number of a company’s outstanding shares by the current market price of one share.”)

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to wrap my head around losing that kind of money. I freak out if I lose a $20 bill, so losing tens of billions because I took a political position that appeases a percentage of my workforce and a smaller percentage of the world at large at the expense of everybody else would be disastrous. That amount of money may be chump change to Disney, but it’s still nearly a quarter of its market cap. Disney’s stock has performed poorly over the past several months, dropping 30% over the past year. Much, though not all, of this stems directly from Disney’s decision to speak out on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which the legislature passed into law and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed at the end of March.


The Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media falsely dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” which triggered the LGBTQ lobby among Disney cast members to pressure CEO Bob Chapek to stick the company’s nose into the state’s business. DeSantis and the Florida legislature decided to fight fire with fire, and they voted to end the 1967 special improvement act that allowed Disney to create the Reedy Creek Improvement District and essentially act as its own government over the Walt Disney World property.

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TexasLindsay Global by income
https://twitter.com/i/status/1522055712653910017

 

 

 

 

Hodkinson
https://twitter.com/i/status/1521239021992792067

 

 

 

 

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Feb 222021
 
 February 22, 2021  Posted by at 10:22 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Thomas Abercrombie Beirut 1957

 

Biden’s $1.9-Trillion Big Spend Is A Big Bet On MMT (LAT)
Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Rise To Federal Level Of Criminal Offense (Fox)
Scalise Requests Data On NY Nursing Home COVID Deaths (SAC)
More New York Politicians Accuse Cuomo Of Threatening Behavior (F.)
Why Do Democrats Pretend Andrew Cuomo Did a Good Job With COVID? (Slate)
Psaki Declines To Say Whether Biden Still Views Cuomo As ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)
The Battery of American Power Is Running Flat (SCF)
Boeing 777s Grounded Around World After Denver Engine Failure (R.)
Garland Expected To Become Biden’s AG (Hill)
Vitamin D: Doctors Will Further Erode Trust In Experts (Cook)
Canada To Follow Australia, Take On Facebook, Seek Payment For Content (NYP)
Disney Labels ‘The Muppet Show’ As ‘Offensive Content’ (RT)

 

 

It’s Andrew Cuomo day! Why is he still in office? Well, the Dems want the GOP to go after him, so they don’t have to. Biden won’t have anything to do with this hot potato, until and unless he can squeeze political capital out of it. Among lower level Dems, there are too many that Cuomo has collected dirt on – or that are afraid he did.

This may take a while therefore, everyone’s playing a waiting game. And the press drip-drip new stories about Cuomo every day, without condemning him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’ll be the first to deny it.

Biden’s $1.9-Trillion Big Spend Is A Big Bet On MMT (LAT)

As Stephanie Kelton, former chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee, argues in her bestseller “The Deficit Myth,” the country’s real deficits are in healthcare, jobs, infrastructure, education and the climate. But rather than address those things by spending, writes Kelton, the government proceeds in terror of not “balancing the budget,” falsely believing that an unbalanced budget is the source of inflation. “We run around like a six-foot-tall guy who wanders around perpetually hunched over in a house with eight-foot ceilings because someone convinced him that if he tries to stand up tall he’ll suffer a massive head trauma,” she writes. Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama, concurs. “Given low interest rates, the United States actually has even more fiscal room to respond to the crisis today than it did in the financial crisis,” he told me. “We should use that room.”

If the Biden stimulus goes through, and inflation doesn’t skyrocket, the experiment may bear out a new monetary theory. It could be time at last for the nation to stand tall, and unfurl its economy to its full height. Of course, an experiment on such a big scale is unnerving, and Biden is facing substantial criticism for the $1.9-trillion plan. Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist at the IMF, tweeted earlier this month that such a stimulus would not just overheat the economy; it would incinerate it. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers issued a less hyperbolic warning but he brought up the fear: The policy would need to come with an aggressive fiscal policy to keep “inflationary pressures” at bay.

Kelton doesn’t completely disagree. On Twitter, she pointed out that the modern monetary theory she advocates requires Congress to stop talking about budgets and start talking entirely about mitigating inflation, if it comes, by other monetary policy means. You’re going to hear a lot more kvetching about government spending and, geez, $1.9 trillion. But remember, no one pushing Biden’s plan is trying to pave the way for a big, fat inflationary decade, filled with 1970s malaise, austerity measures and agony at the pump. They’re just willing to bet that a nearly $2-trillion stimulus, if the economy is monitored closely enough, will improve infrastructure, education, climate and healthcare, while making employers eager to find workers, which will push up wages and benefits. Which all sounds great. Especially when the checks show up.

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“New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense—particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation—..”

Cuomo Nursing Home Scandal May Rise To Federal Level Of Criminal Offense (Fox)

Legal experts are warning that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged undercounting of nursing-home deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic may rise to the level of a criminal offense. Cuomo has found himself at the center of a federal investigation into whether his administration sought to hide the true toll of the pandemic. The New York Post reported earlier this month that Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, told lawmakers the administration had withheld the numbers for fear of them being “used against us.” In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, John B. Daukas, who served as acting U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, wrote that DeRosa’s reported admissions weren’t “merely negligent, but intentional and perhaps criminal.”


Daukas said numerous federal statutes could apply, noting that Cuomo’s administration is accusing of both making false statements to the federal government and trying to thwart an investigation. “Even if it cannot be proved that the Cuomo administration knowingly provided false information to Justice and the (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense—particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation—which, after all, is exactly what Ms. DeRosa reportedly said the administration did,” Daukas wrote. And on Saturday, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said DeRosa’s admission to lawmakers – if true – constitutes a potential obstruction of justice charge. Per the federal statute, Jarrett noted, if a government official falsifies or hides evidence to avoid triggering an investigation (or acts out of fear that such a probe may occur) that official is still culpable under the law of obstruction.”

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There’s a shredder working overtime somewhere…

Scalise Requests Data On NY Nursing Home COVID Deaths (SAC)

As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) faces increasing criticism over reports that his administration underreported coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and a preliminary federal investigation underway, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (La.) renewed his call Friday for Cuomo to provide all data on such deaths, describing his administration’s alleged conduct as an “apparent obstruction of justice”. Scalise, the ranking member of Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, reiterated his call in a press release emailed Friday afternoon by the House Oversight Republicans. The press release cites the February 11 New York Post exposé reporting that Melissa DeRosa, a top Cuomo aide, had privately admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration withheld nursing home death data out of fear that it would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors.

On top of that, the release mentioned the report that Cuomo had allegedly threatened a Democratic assemblyman if he didn’t help cover up the nursing home deaths. “This apparent obstruction of justice necessitates an immediate and thorough investigation by Congress especially in light of the recent revelation that you and your Administration engaged in a cover-up aimed at concealing your culpability in New York State’s COVID-19 nursing home crisis,” Scalise wrote. “Recent reporting suggests that your attempts to cover-up the truth and conceal your culpability extend beyond obstruction to threats of retaliation toward anyone who might cross you. This behavior appears to be your modus operandi when anyone attempts to question your ‘leadership.’”

The press release goes on to mention that the subcommittee’s Republicans have repeatedly called for Cuomo to provide information regarding his since-rescinded directive ordering nursing homes and long-term care facilities to admit untested and contagious COVID-19 patients from hospitals. According to the press release, they first asked the governor in June 2020, and subsequent times in July 2020 and last month. [..] In a letter from Scalise to Cuomo attached to the press release, the Louisiana Republican touched on the aforementioned points but also requested transcribed interviews from DeRosa and New York Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker.

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Some are just too pissed off.

More New York Politicians Accuse Cuomo Of Threatening Behavior (F.)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a growing number of allegations he and his subordinates routinely threaten critics, with two New York politicians – a former Democratic congressional candidate and a Republican ex-rival of Cuomo’s – recounting to Forbes their hostile experiences with the governor’s staff. Nate McMurray, a two-time House candidate in Western New York, told Forbes that after criticizing Cuomo for plans to attend a Buffalo Bills game, he received a call from a Cuomo aide on New Years Eve that began “you motherf***er,” before devolving into threats like “you’re done in politics.” McMurray said he took down his tweet after the call because he was “scared” and looking for a job after his run, adding that he’s heard from people in both Cuomo’s staff and the New York legislature about a “pervasive culture of fear that has trickled down from his office.”

“We’ve all been yelled at by someone in that administration,” Marc Molinaro, a Republican county executive in upstate New York who ran against Cuomo in 2018, told Forbes, adding, “It’s unacceptable but how they operate.” Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, tweeted that she was “flooded” with stories from people who said they were “bullied, mistreated, or intimidated” by Cuomo, a statement echoed by former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan, who has previously accused him of harassment. Alessandra Biaggi, a Democratic state senator, told the New Yorker Cuomo once asked her to “tell me again how your grandfather’s career ended,” which she perceived as a threat given that her grandfather, Mario Biaggi, resigned over a corruption scandal – though a Cuomo spokesperson told the New Yorker it was about the “importance of integrity in government.”

Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean tweeted that she was told by someone close to the Cuomo family to “‘Watch my back,’” when she began speaking out against him prolifically over the coronavirus-related deaths of her parents, who were both nursing home residents.

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“..a serially underachieving chief executive playing three-card monte with dead bodies. At this point, Andrew Cuomo could probably shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.”

Why Do Democrats Pretend Andrew Cuomo Did a Good Job With COVID? (Slate)

Most concerningly, Cuomo’s administration admitted this month that it had been excluding nursing home residents who died of COVID but didn’t technically die on the grounds of their facilities from its official count of COVID-related nursing home deaths. Since many such residents died only after being hospitalized, this had the effect of making the state’s nursing home outbreak look thousands of deaths smaller than it actually was. Cuomo’s office appears to have compiled the more comprehensive, accurate data months ago but didn’t release it until the state’s attorney general—who is elected independently of the governor—issued a Jan. 28 report alleging that nursing home deaths had been undercounted.

(It does not look like the discrepancy could have resulted from innocent semantic misunderstandings: A representative of the data team that manages the AARP Public Policy Institute’s Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard noted to Slate that “CDC guidance for the data we use in our dashboard specifically states that resident deaths are supposed to be counted regardless of the place of death,” while the managing editor of the COVID Tracking Project said its staff is “not currently aware of any other US state or territory that reports deaths associated with nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities in the way that New York did for most of the pandemic.”)

[..] His press conference performances notwithstanding, the facts and evidence show that Cuomo is not someone who cares much about facts and evidence. But his liberal supporters don’t care: A Siena College poll taken after the nursing home scandal broke found that 83 percent of New York Democrats still approve of Cuomo’s handling of COVID, with more than 80 percent also saying specifically that they approve of his work “communicating with the people of New York” and “providing accurate information.”

To hammer home the cognitive dissonance, only 54 percent said he’d done a good job “making public all data about COVID-related deaths of nursing home patients,” which suggests both that 54 percent of New York Democrats are full of it and that a significant portion of the rest of them know Cuomo is full of it but don’t care. To many voters, celebrating the idea of the competent blue-state governor is more important than reckoning with the reality of a serially underachieving chief executive playing three-card monte with dead bodies. At this point, Andrew Cuomo could probably shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

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Hot potato.

Psaki Declines To Say Whether Biden Still Views Cuomo As ‘Gold Standard’ (JTN)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during an interview on ABC’s This Week would not provide a direct answer about whether President Biden still considers New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo the “gold standard” on dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Journalist Jonathan Karl posed the question after playing a clip of Biden last year stating that Cuomo has performed “one hell of a job” and describing the governor as “sorta the gold standard.” Cuomo, who has come under fire for his handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, has faced heightened scrutiny since his top aide Melissa DeRosa revealed the administration held back on answering questions from lawmakers due to concerns about a potential Justice Department investigation.


“Well John, we work with Governor Cuomo just like we work with governors across the country,” Psaki said, noting that Cuomo chairs the National Governors Association and has “an important role in ensuring that we’re coordinating closely in getting assistance out to people of his state and to states across the country.” She said that any matter of investigations would be in the hands of “the appropriate law enforcement authorities to determine how that path is going to move as we look forward. ”But we are going to continue to work with a range of governors, including of course Governor Cuomo because we think the people of New York, the people of states across the country need assistance, not just to get through the pandemic, but to get through this difficult economic time.”

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NATO and Pentagon are Siamese twins.

The Battery of American Power Is Running Flat (SCF)

Historically, the United States relies on NATO as a conduit to project its power and influence over Europe. This was its fundamental objective when NATO was first set up in 1949 at the start of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. In recent decades, NATO has assumed an ever-expanding purpose for American imperial power projection, encompassing not just Western Europe but all of Europe right up to Russia’s borders. NATO has become a vehicle for American hegemonic ambitions holding sway over the Balkans, Caucasia, North Africa and the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. For an organization that nominally originated for maintaining security in the North Atlantic, it sounds rather odd indeed to hear its spokesmen talk now about the need for NATO to confront China.

That oddly expanded global mission reflects the real but unspoken fact that NATO is all about serving American global ambitions. Former President Trump was too ignorant or obsessed with money-grubbing financial costs – “we’re being ripped off” he would repeatedly complain with regard to NATO – to realize the strategic bigger picture of what the alliance is really purposed to serve. Under a new man in the White House – an old-time establishment operative – there is seemingly a more consensual approach with allies. Nevertheless, underlying the liberal lexicon there is the same old mantra of hostility towards Russia and China. Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon chief, told European allies this week that there would have to be “more burden sharing” in order to confront the “threats” allegedly posed by Russia and China.

Biden continued the same theme of confronting Russia and China during his G7 and Munich conferences over the weekend. American hegemonic ambitions required to satisfy its corporate capitalism are dependent on a zero-sum geopolitics. The globe must divided into spheres of influence as in the earlier Cold War decades. There must be antagonism to thwart genuine cooperation which is anathema to American capitalism. Indeed, it can be said that the Cold War never actually ended when the Soviet Union dissolved more three decades ago. America’s imperialist ideology continued under new guises of “fighting terrorism”, “democracy promotion and nation building”, or more recently “great power competition” with Russia and China.

The bottom line is that NATO is more important than ever for enabling Washington’s global power ambitions given the demise of American capitalism and the rise of China and Eurasia. NATO provides a crucial political cover for what would otherwise be seen as naked American imperialism.

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Ha ha ha: “Boeing has recommended grounding..”

Yeah, Boeing’s a very responible corporate citizen…

Boeing 777s Grounded Around World After Denver Engine Failure (R.)

Boeing has recommended grounding more than 120 of its 777 jets worldwide following a catastrophic engine failure on a United Airlines plane in Denver. The company said on Sunday night that airlines using the same type of engine that scattered debris across Denver before making an emergency landing should suspend operations until inspections could be carried out. Flight 328 was flying from Denver International Airport to Honolulu with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board on Saturday when one engine failed shortly after take-off. Police in Broomfield, Colorado posted photos of pieces of debris from the plane near houses and other buildings. There were no reports of any injuries on the ground or among the passengers.

United Airlines said it was temporarily grounding all 24 of its Boeing 777s on active duty, and Japan’s aviation regulator swiftly followed suit, ordering Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) to cease flying 777s that use the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines while it considered whether to take additional measures. Japan said ANA operated 19 of that kind and JAL operated 13. The planes are also used by carriers in South Korea. A spokeswoman for South Korea’s transport ministry, speaking before Boeing’s statement, said it was monitoring the situation but had not yet taken any action. Korean Air Lines said it had 12 of the planes, half of them stored, and it would consult with the manufacturer and regulators and stop flying them to Japan for now.

Boeing said in total 69 of the planes were in service and 59 were in storage, at a time when airlines have grounded planes due to a plunge in demand associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The move comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency directive late on Sunday that required immediate or stepped-up inspections of planes similar to the one involved in the Denver incident. “We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident,” the FAA said in a statement from its administrator, Steve Dickson . “Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes. “This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service”.

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What will happen to Durham and the Hunter files?

Garland Expected To Become Biden’s AG (Hill)

Nearly five years after Senate Republicans refused to grant Merrick Garland a hearing to be confirmed as a justice on the Supreme Court, the appeals court judge is getting his chance to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, this time as President Biden’s choice to be attorney general. In 2016, former President Obama nominated Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not allow a hearing on the nomination, citing the presidential election eight months later. Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the seat on the high court the following year, just more than two months after he was nominated by former President Trump.

Garland is one of the last major Cabinet appointments by Biden, and he is likely to secure confirmation with bipartisan support despite the former Republican blockade on his last nomination. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has said Garland’s experience “makes him well-suited to lead the Department of Justice, and I appreciated his commitment to keep politics out of the Justice Department.” “Unless I hear something new, I expect to support his nomination before the full Senate,” Cornyn added, according to The Associated Press. In opening remarks released Sunday, Garland pledged to address the threat of domestic extremism as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, specifically invoking the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“From 1995 to 1997, I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government,” Garland’s remarks read. “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.” Biden has pledged that the Justice Department during his tenure will be free of political influence or interference.

The Justice Department has asked for the resignations of all Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys, a somewhat typical move for incoming administrations. But Biden left in place the U.S. attorney in Delaware in charge of investigating the tax affairs of his son Hunter Biden. He is also allowing U.S. Attorney John Durham to continue in his role as a special prosecutor probing the origins of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, a position appointed by former Attorney General William Barr. [..] Garland currently serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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Jonnathan Cook picks the wrong angle. Vitamin D given to severely ill people is not the story.

Vitamin D: Doctors Will Further Erode Trust In Experts (Cook)

The role of Vitamin D on our general wellbeing and health has come under increasing scrutiny over the past two decades after it was discovered that it is the only vitamin for which there is a receptor in every cell in our body. Long before Covid, researchers had begun to understand that Vitamin D’s role in regulating our immune systems was chronically under-appreciated by most doctors. The medical profession was stuck in a paradigm from the 1950s in which Vitamin D’s use related chiefly to bone health. As a consequence, today’s recommended daily allowances – usually between 400IU and 800IU – were established long ago in accordance with the minimum needed for healthy bones rather than the maximum needed for a healthy immune system.

Today we know that many people in northern latitudes, especially the elderly, are deficient or severely deficient in Vitamin D, even those taking these low-level supplements. In fact, it would be true to say there is a global plague of Vitamin D deficiency, even in many sunny countries where people have lost the habit of spending time outdoors or shield themselves from the sun. The doctors and researchers who have been gradually piecing together the critically important role of Vitamin D are the medical equivalent of the dissident journalists who try to present a realistic picture of what goes on in Israel-Palestine.

Because Big Pharma can make no serious money from Vitamin D, researchers into the sun hormone have struggled to raise funds for their work and have mostly been denied corporate platforms from which to publicise the stunning findings they have made. Until recently, corporate medicine simply ignored most Vitamin D research, relegating it to the supposedly fringe science of “nutrition”, which is why most doctors know little or nothing about it. With the outbreak of Covid, when these Vitamin D studies should finally have come into their own, researchers found themselves shunted further into the margins. Just as journalists, politicians and human rights groups trying to tell you real things about Israel get labelled antisemites, anyone trying to tell you real things about Vitamin D gets labelled a crank, conspiracy theorist or Covid denier.

The desperate need for Covid treatments has not led to intensified interest in Vitamin D among most doctors, even though it is very cheap, almost completely safe even in large doses, and has been shown to help in damping down immune over-reaction of exactly the kind killing Covid patients. Rather, the opportunity for Big Pharma to develop a magic bullet to treat Covid has led to an intensified campaign to discredit Vitamin D research.

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When you threaten sovereign nations, others will notice.

Canada To Follow Australia, Take On Facebook, Seek Payment For Content (NYP)

Canada is poised to take on Facebook, following the example set by Australia, which began a war with the tech giant when the country’s publishers backed proposed legislation demanding payment for their content. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault condemned Facebook’s actions as “highly irresponsible” last week when the social media giant removed all Australian news content from its sites in retaliation. Guilbeault warned that Canada would be next in making sure Facebook paid for news content from Canadian publishers. Guilbeault is charged with drafting legislation in the next few months that would require Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay up. “Canada is at the forefront of this battle … we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” Guilbeault told reporters.


Guilbeault said he recently met with government ministers from Australia, Finland, France and Germany to hammer out a common front with respect to Google and Facebook, the Globe and Mail reported.“It was the first ministerial meeting where we jointly started talking about what we want to do together regarding web giants, including fair compensation for media. We believe that there’s real strength in unity on that,” he said, adding that the growing coalition of countries opposed to Facebook and Google could soon reach 15. “I’m a bit curious to see what Facebook’s response will be. Is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France, with Canada, with Australia and other countries that will join? At a certain point, Facebook’s position will be completely untenable.”

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But not for animal cruelty?!

Disney Labels ‘The Muppet Show’ As ‘Offensive Content’ (RT)

Five seasons of ‘The Muppet Show’ appeared on the Disney+ streaming service on Friday night but many viewers were shocked to discover that one of their childhood favorites is now considered “offensive content.” According to a warning from Disney, the show features “stereotypes” and “mistreatment of people or cultures.” “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” the roughly 300 billion-dollar corporate giant declared. “Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”


No references are made to what specifically Disney considers to be offensive about the show’s content, though it does depict minorities including Asians and people from the Middle East, as well as featuring a homeless character named “Oscar the grouch” who lives in a trash can. In season five, singer Johnny Cash also performs in front of a confederate flag. “Even the Muppets are now ‘offensive.’ Anyone watching ‘The Muppet Show’ on Disney+ will first see a warning against ‘offensive content.’ It’s time to pack up, seriously,”wrote one baffled Twitter user.

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Jul 242020
 


Vincent van Gogh Branches Of An Almond Tree In Blossom in Red 1890

 

Coronavirus Traveled Nearly 30 Feet At German Slaughterhouse (ZH)
US Clears Way For Drugmakers To Share COVID Antibody Capacity (R.)
Over 30 Million Americans About to Lose $600 in Unemployment Benefits (Mish)
More Than 1,000 People At Twitter Had Ability To Aid Hack Of Accounts (R.)
How the Child Care Crisis Will Distort the Economy for a Generation (Pol.)
Georgia’s Governor And Atlanta’s Mayor Ordered To Mediate Face Mask Fight (R.)
Pompeo Urges More Assertive Approach To ‘Frankenstein’ China (R.)
China’s Three Gorges Dam At The Brink (AC)
Congress Blocks Defunding the Pentagon: What We Could Do With The Money (MPN)
Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Opens As A Mosque For Muslim Prayers (AP)
Disney Postpones ‘Mulan’ Indefinitely, Delays ‘Avatar’ And ‘Star Wars’ (R.)

 

 

No records, nothing terribly spectacular, but the numbers remain elevated. When you look at the daily new cases in the US since mid-June, that’s quite the graph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maté
https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/1286504352203644930

 

 

 

 

Slaughterhouses and care homes. What do they have in common?

Coronavirus Traveled Nearly 30 Feet At German Slaughterhouse (ZH)

COVID-19 particles traveled 26 feet across a German slaughterhouse where approximtely 1,500 workers contracted the virus, according to researchers who reconstructed the likely cause of the outbreak at the Toennies Groups slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck. According to Bloomberg, a combination of cold, stale air allowed the virus to spread over such a long distance, raising concerns that the same might happen at meat plants worldwide. And while the virus is significantly less deadly than originally thought, it can lead to significant disruptions, as it takes between two weeks and several months to recover. Some patients still report symptoms, though how contagious they are is yet to be seen.

“Similar conditions at plants globally are a reason they’ve become virus epicenters, according to the report from groups including the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research. Meat plants from the U.S. to the U.K. and South America have seen the rapid spread of the virus, infecting thousands of employees who often work in close proximity on processing lines. Dozens of workers have died, and labor advocates have said that a lack of social distancing could continue to put people at risk. Outbreaks also forced American meat plants to close earlier this year, sparking some protein shortages”. -Bloomberg

The Tonnies outbreak is believed to have been caused in May by a single employee who infected the rest of their co-workers in the plant’s dismantling area, where temperatures hover around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Adam Grundhoff, co-author of the study, chilly air circulated without frequent changes, combined with a strenuous work environment, helped move virus particles long distances. “It is very likely that these factors generally play a crucial role in the global outbreaks in meat or fish processing plants,” said Grundhoff, a research group leader at the Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology. He added that distances of 1.5 to 3 meters (5 to 10 feet) is insufficient to prevent transmission.

“The Toennies plant — Germany’s largest pork abattoir — reopened last week after a month-long closure and plans to gradually ramp up output. The company, which posted a link to the research report on Twitter, also recently released a 25-point plan detailing measures it’s making to prevent further outbreaks. They include testing employees twice a week, hiring workers directly and overhauling ventilation. The report’s findings show that no factory worldwide was built for such a crisis, and the company has invested in air filters and other mechanisms to protect employees, a Toennies spokesman said by email. -Bloomberg The workers’ housing conditions were not found to play a significant role in the outbreaks.

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Keep the profit making out of it.

US Clears Way For Drugmakers To Share COVID Antibody Capacity (R.)

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday said it will not stand in the way of efforts by companies, including Eli Lilly and Co and Amgen Inc, to share information to help scale up capacity to manufacture antibody treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. In a letter to Lilly, Amgen, AbCellera Biologics, AstraZeneca Plc, Roche Holding’s Genentech unit and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the DOJ said demand for monoclonal antibodies targeting COVID-19 is likely to exceed what one firm could produce on its own. The drugmakers are in various stages of developing experimental monoclonal antibodies – manufactured proteins designed to bind to a targeted cell, neutralize it and mark it for destruction by the immune system – for treatment, or even prevention, of COVID-19.


Monoclonal antibodies are among the most common type of biotech medicines, used for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and many other conditions. The DOJ did not include Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, which expects to have definitive trial results for its dual-antibody treatment by late summer or early fall. The Department of Health and Human Services in June awarded Regeneron a $450 million contract and the company has cleared the way for U.S. manufacturing of its antibody cocktail by moving production of its other products to a plant in Ireland. “Waiting until regulators approve specific treatments before scaling up manufacturing might delay access to these potentially life-saving medicines by many months,” the agency said in its letter.

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I don’t think they’ll let it happen. But only at the very last minute, or even a step beyond that. It’s not about people, it’s about power.

Over 30 Million Americans About to Lose $600 in Unemployment Benefits (Mish)

How Many Set to Lose $600 Checks? CNBC says More than 25 million Americans are set to lose the $600 unemployment boost next week. The Century Foundation says More than 25 Million Americans Are About to Lose an Essential $600-a-Week Unemployment Insurance Benefit. Forbes says “some 25 million unemployed workers are finishing the last week of the expanded federal unemployment benefits and will soon only receive state unemployment benefits, which average $378 per week.” To determine a better number, let’s review the Department of Labor Guidelines.

Programs which entitle an individual to receive FPUC. This program provides an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting regular UC (including Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)), as well as the following unemployment compensation programs: • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) • Extended Benefits (EB) • Short-Time Compensation (STC) • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) • Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program

[..] Republicans, especially Trump, do not want to extend the $600 benefit because many make more being unemployed than they did working. This is what the bickering is all about. The last full week in July ends Saturday July 25 for most state UI programs. And that is when the benefits expire, not July 31. Rubio proposes taking up the lapse in insurance “by the first week in August.” That would be too late.

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Don’t use Twitter for anything confidential. Easy.

More Than 1,000 People At Twitter Had Ability To Aid Hack Of Accounts (R.)

More than a thousand Twitter employees and contractors as of earlier this year had access to internal tools that could change user account settings and hand control to others, two former employees said, making it hard to defend against the hacking that occurred last week. Twitter Inc and the FBI are investigating the breach that allowed hackers to repeatedly tweet from verified accounts of the likes of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Twitter said on Saturday that the perpetrators “manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials” to log into tools and turn over access to 45 accounts.


On Wednesday, it said that the hackers could have read direct messages to and from 36 accounts but did not identify the affected users. The former employees familiar with Twitter security practices said that too many people could have done the same thing, more than 1,000 as of earlier in 2020, including some at contractors like Cognizant. “That sounds like there are too many people with access,” said Edward Amoroso, former chief security officer at AT&T. Responsibilities among the staff should have been split up, with access rights limited to those responsibilities and more than one person required to agree to make the most sensitive account changes. “In order to do cyber security right, you can’t forget the boring stuff.”

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Another matter, like the pandemic preparedness, that has festered for decades, waiting to see the light. Communities should be able to solve this, but not if you make it profit-based.

How the Child Care Crisis Will Distort the Economy for a Generation (Pol.)

Schools across the U.S. are closed because of the coronavirus, and unlikely to reopen safely anytime soon. Parents are exhausted from constant, round-the-clock care while trying to work from home; some have chosen to leave their jobs, or switch to part-time work, just to take care of their kids. And kids themselves are slipping behind academically. Now comes the bad news: We haven’t seen the worst of it yet. When the economist Betsey Stevenson looks at the pandemic-era economic crisis, she sees a long-simmering child care crisis that has suddenly surged to the foreground of people’s lives—and whose true scope we’ve barely begun to reckon with. Its potential to inflict lasting damage to the economy is enormous, and it’s getting short shrift in the recovery plans coming out of Washington.

“The work of recovering from it will not end just because we have a vaccine,” says Stevenson, a labor economist at the University of Michigan and former member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “We are making choices right now about where we will be as an economy in 20 years, in 30 years, based on what we do with these kids.” Among those most likely to be affected are working mothers, who shoulder an outsize share of child care responsibilities, and have suddenly had far more work dropped in their laps. Women already need to make difficult choices between work advancement and their family roles, which can bring down their incomes over time; Stevenson expects the crisis to make that conflict sharply worse: “The impact of the child care crisis on women’s outcomes is going to be felt over the next decade.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that both parents work in two-thirds of families in which married parents have children — as do the majority of America’s 13.6 million single parents. For all of them, there are major long-term financial repercussions of dropping out of the labor market, even temporarily. “When you talk about upward mobility,” she says, “this puts families on just a completely different trajectory that’s not about losing two or three years of income; it’s about being on a lower earnings trajectory for the rest of your life.”

And for anyone hoping a vaccine will allow a quick, healthy reopening sometime next year, she says: Don’t count on it. “We are letting the whole child care system erode in such a way that it’s not going to be there for us when we are fully ready to go back. You’re seeing child care centers that can’t stay in business. They can’t figure out how to reopen. They can’t keep their employees on staff. They’re letting people go,” Stevenson says. “Once we are ready to have all the jobs come back and we’re really ready to recover, even though we’ll have opened the schools, opened the child care centers, the workers aren’t going to be there, the slots aren’t going to be there.”

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Apparently nobody is clear on what the law says, or what the plans are, who’s responsible for what.

Georgia’s Governor And Atlanta’s Mayor Ordered To Mediate Face Mask Fight (R.)

A Georgia judge on Thursday ordered the governor and Atlanta’s mayor to enter mediation over the governor’s lawsuit aimed at stopping the city from enforcing its requirement that people wear masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic. Fulton Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick ordered Governor Brian Kemp and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to attend mediation with another judge and try to resolve the dispute before an emergency hearing scheduled in the case for Tuesday. Earlier this month, Kemp, a Republican, barred local leaders from requiring people to wear masks. Even so, several Georgia cities, including Democratic-led Atlanta, Savannah and Athens, defied the governor’s order and kept local mandates in place in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.


Bottoms told reporters that she and Kemp spoke by phone on the matter. “We are both in agreement that masks saves lives,” she said. “Hopefully we can move past this.” The governor’s office filed a lawsuit on July 16 against Bottoms and the Atlanta city council, arguing that local officials lack the legal authority to override Kemp’s orders. “Kemp must be allowed, as the chief executive of this state, to manage a public health emergency without Mayor Bottoms issuing void and unenforceable orders which only serve to confuse the public,” the 16-page complaint read. More than 4 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with the virus, including more than 150,000 cases in Georgia with more than 3,000 fatalities in the state. Kemp has stood apart even from his Republican counterparts on the mask issue. More than half of all states have statewide mask mandates.

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There are no “freedom-loving nations of the world”. There are only power-lovong politicians. And they’re everywhere.

Pompeo Urges More Assertive Approach To ‘Frankenstein’ China (R.)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took fresh aim at China on Thursday and said Washington and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party to change its ways, calling it the “mission of our time.” Speaking at the Nixon Library in President Richard Nixon’s birthplace in Yorba Linda, California, Pompeo said the former U.S. leader’s worry about what he had done by opening the world to China’s Communist Party in the 1970s had been prophetic. “President Nixon once said he feared he had created a ‘Frankenstein’ by opening the world to the CCP,” Pompeo said. “And here we are.” Nixon, who died in 1994 and was president from 1969-74, opened the way for the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with Communist China in 1979 through a series of contacts, including a visit to Beijing in 1972.

In a major speech delivered after Washington’s surprise order this week for China to close its Houston consulate, Pompeo called for an end to “blind engagement” with China and repeated frequently leveled U.S. charges about its unfair trade practices, human rights abuses and efforts to infiltrate American society. He said China’s military had became “stronger and more menacing” and the approach to Beijing should be “distrust and verify,” adapting President Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify” mantra about the Soviet Union in the 1980s. “The truth is that our policies – and those of other free nations – resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it,” Pompeo said.

“The freedom-loving nations of the world must induce China to change … in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity.” Recalling remarks he made after meeting British leaders in London this week, Pompeo said “maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies,” while adding: “If the free world doesn’t change, Communist China will surely change us.” Pompeo said “securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time,” and America was perfectly positioned to lead it.

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“..the flood has already raised the water dammed behind the Three Gorges to 50 — fifty — feet higher than the maximum flood level.”

China’s Three Gorges Dam At The Brink (AC)

China’s massive Three Gorges Dam project on the upper Yangtze River is at risk. If that dam breaks, the resulting flooding would be a catastrophe of world-historical proportions. Hundreds of millions of people live along the lower Yangtze River. And the catastrophe wouldn’t simply be confined to China. The lower Yangtze is China’s commercial and industrial heartland — which means it is perhaps the world’s most important economic region. If it is swept away by a torrent, it could easily crater the already weak world economy. The Wall Street Journal‘s Jonathan Cheng [..] says that the flood has already raised the water dammed behind the Three Gorges to 50 — fifty — feet higher than the maximum flood level.


Rain is still falling this week in central China. I am told by a Chinese media follower that the government has just raised the emergency level in five affected provinces — Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu — to the highest level below martial law, as part of last-ditch efforts to protect the Three Gorges Dam. The state is releasing water from tributary dams, flooding those provinces even worse than they already have been, because the alternative — a Three Gorges Dam collapse — is unthinkable. The WSJ’s Cheng said that China has had its worst economic year in four decades because of Covid, but if that dam goes, the damage to China’s economy will “dwarf” what Covid has done to it.

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Thank a war party of your preference.

Congress Blocks Defunding the Pentagon: What We Could Do With The Money (MPN)

The majority of House Democrats joined with the Republican colleagues yesterday in voting down progressive legislation that would have cut the Pentagon budget by 10 percent ($74 billion) and used the money to fund healthcare, housing, and education for the poorest Americans. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, sponsored by Barbara Lee (D–CA) and Mark Pocan (D–WI) was soundly defeated 93-324, with 139 Democrats joining all 185 voting Republicans in rejecting the idea. Despite the defeat, Pocan vowed to continue pushing an anti-war agenda. “We will keep fighting for pro-peace, pro-people budgets until it becomes a reality,” he said.


Democrats who voted against the military budget cuts received over three times the contributions from the defense industry as those who voted for the reduction. Earlier today, the Senate also voted down the proposal. The result will no doubt disappoint the majority of Americans as well. A poll conducted last week by Data for Progress found that 56 percent of the country supported the idea to defund the military and use the money to fight COVID-19 alleviate the growing housing crisis. Democrat-voters supported the plan by 69 to 19 percent, with Republicans also backing it, by 50 to 37 percent. The proposal is hardly a radical shift; the military’s budget has increased by around 20 percent under President Trump alone, reaching near-historic highs.

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Erdogan is not done by a long shot. The talk of the day in Greece is all about war. BILD in Germany says Merkel called Erdogan two days ago and narrowly prevented Greece firing on Turkish vessels in the Med.

Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Opens As A Mosque For Muslim Prayers (AP)

Hundreds of Muslim faithfuls were making their way to Istanbul’s landmark Hagia Sophia on Friday to take part in the first prayers in 86 years at the structure that once was one of Christendom’s most significant cathedrals, then a mosque and museum before its reconversion into a Muslim place of worship. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to attend the inaugural prayers inside the sixth-century monument along with around 500 dignitaries, as he fulfills what he has described as the “dream of our youth” anchored in Turkey’s Islamic movement. Thousands of men and women, including many who traveled from across Turkey, are set to perform prayers in segregated areas outside Hagia Sophia. Several camped near the structure overnight.

Orthodox church leaders in Greece and the United States, meanwhile, were scheduled to observe “a day of mourning” over the inaugural prayers. Brushing aside international criticism, Erdogan issued a decree restoring the iconic building as a mosque earlier this month, shortly after a Turkish high court ruled that the Hagia Sophia had been illegally made into a museum more than eight decades ago. The structure has since been renamed “The Grand Hagia Sophia Mosque.” The move sparked dismay in Greece, the United States and among Christian churches who had called on Erdogan to maintain it as a museum as a nod to Istanbul’s multi-religious heritage and the structure’s status as a symbol of Christian and Muslim unity. Pope Francis expressed his sadness.

Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque with the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding leader of the secular Turkish republic converted the structure into a museum in 1934. Although an annex to the Hagia Sophia, the Sultan’s pavilion, has been open to prayers since the 1990s, religious and nationalists group in Turkey have long yearned for the nearly 1,500-year-old edifice, which they regard as the legacy of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the conquerer, to be reverted into a mosque.

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What happened to streaming?

Disney Postpones ‘Mulan’ Indefinitely, Delays ‘Avatar’ And ‘Star Wars’ (R.)

Walt Disney Co on Thursday postponed the debut of its movie “Mulan” indefinitely, dealing a new blow to theater operators that were counting on the live-action epic to help attract audiences during a pandemic. ViacomCBS Inc’s Paramount Pictures also said “Top Gun: Maverick”, the much-awaited sequel to the Tom Cruise-starring “Top Gun”, has been delayed to July 2, 2021 from December 23, 2020. “Mulan” was scheduled to reach theaters in March but its release has been postponed several times as many cinemas remain closed. The film had most recently been set to debut on Aug. 21 and theater operators had hoped it would help spark a late-summer rebound for movie-going.


Disney also said it had delayed the next film installments from two of its biggest franchises, “Avatar” and “Star Wars,” by one year as the novel coronavirus has disrupted production. The “Avatar” sequel is now set to debut in theaters in December 2022, and the next “Star Wars” movie in December 2023. “It’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis,” a Disney representative said. “Today that means pausing our release plans for ‘Mulan’ as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world.” The “Mulan” delay follows Warner Bros decision to postpone the August release of Christopher Nolan thriller “Tenet.” The two films were seen as theaters’ best chance to salvage part of the lucrative summer season.

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